Saturday, August 25, 2007

David T. King: the King of Misrepresentation and Non Sequitur, Does it Again / James White's "Meltdown" Mantra

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David T. King: anti-Catholic Presbyterian pastor [not Reformed Baptist, as I originally erroneously stated], has a long history of running down Catholics in the most uncharitable, vitriolic fashion. He and I (as one would expect) have a difficult history, running back eleven years now (though our actual interactions are quite rare). I discovered that he was mocking and belittling Catholics on Eric Svendsen's forum one day, and making out that they were lying ignoramuses when they denied that Cardinal Newman's development of doctrine was the equivalent of the liberal evolution of dogma, condemned by the Church.

In particular, King claimed that Pope St. Pius X himself condemned Newman's development theory as liberal heterodoxy; that is, until I produced (among other things) a personal letter from the pope that showed quite otherwise (see the "debate").

His book-writing partner (in favor of sola Scriptura), William Webster, is little more impressive when he takes on the Church, and showed himself grossly ignorant of many aspects of Catholic belief (particularly the nature of the papacy and Catholic apologetic arguments for it, and development of doctrine), as I demonstrated in two critiques (one / two) of his work (he has never replied to either at all: not one single word: silence is sometimes the best policy to take when one has no sensible answer).

Their arguments supposedly proving that the Fathers en masse believed in sola Scriptura are beyond shallow, and reach realms of inept argumentation rarely seen in any serious, published work of theology of any stripe. I've even seen Jehovah's Witnesses arguments that hold more force and compulsion than King's and Webster's relentless non sequiturs of historical revisionism and anachronism. But that is another topic . . .

King fled for the Georgia hills shortly after the Newman / Pius X debacle, being apparently too proud to issue a gentlemanly apology, and likely embarrassed that he had made such an utter fool of himself, even while ridiculing others as fools and simpletons (the turn-the-tables irony and ignominy was not lost on him, I'm sure).

 Pastor King has never seriously taken on any of my arguments since. But he does emerge from the shadows once in a while (like a skittish squirrel) to "nip at the heels" of highly selected arguments.

The present instance is one such case. King thought that he caught me in an embarrassing mistake and sought to make hay of it on Svendsen's almost extinct (partially fossilized) Areopagus forum.


Once in a while I take up these silly little disputes about minutiae, to illustrate how poorly these guys argue, and to show that their grasp of logic is too often woefully lacking. I'm being accused (as always) of botching or dishonestly presenting facts. Since it is untrue, and King doesn't get it, I have every right to blow it out of the water as yet another miscomprehension or (to put it a bit more cynically) distortion of my argument and opinion.

To briefly summarize, Doe was giving me misery because I cited Luther statements from a secondary source (historian Will Durant). He questioned them because they were different from the "standard" citations now included in the 55-volume edition of Luther's Works in English. Since I was writing about Chemnitz's shortcoming in an area where Doe has accused me, I thought it was relevant to note Doe's own approval of Chemnitz, and so I cited a guest post on his blog praising Chemnitz, and his own citation of King and Webster's research, that mentioned Chemnitz with regard to a St. Ambrose citation. The passage under present consideration (my own) is short. Here it is:

Doe (on 30 July 2007) also cited Chemnitz (drawing from the anti-Catholic work of David King and William Webster) from the Examen, Vol. I, p. 167, regarding a St. Ambrose quote (the very book I am now reading). Ironically, however, the citation he gives in his post does not match the one found in Chemnitz (translated by Kramer). As we saw above, he gave me much flak for the exact same thing: different translations of the same utterance. Using his own reasoning, then, that he polemically utilizes against me (that I cited above), let us have a bit of tweaking fun and modify his words to reflect his own use of the dreaded, nefarious tactics that he excoriates in my apologetics:
After searching the entire page, I could not find this quote . . . This is not the place to quibble over whatever point Doe was trying to make. I offer this example merely to show that Mr. Doe [and Mr. King and Mr. Webster] complicates the task of any who checks his [their] St. Ambrose references.
The humor "works" only for those acquainted with Doe's past relentless accusations against my research. Granted, not many readers would even know or care about that, but in the end that is beside the point. I know exactly what I was driving at in my humorous analogies and Doe surely did, too (whether he would admit it or not). Of course (and King seems to miss this as well), I was spoofing Doe's own words, see further above in my post (emphases his own):
After searching the entire treatise, I could not find this quote. . . . This is not the place to quibble over whatever point Armstrong was trying to make. I offer this example merely to show that Mr. Armstrong complicates the task of any who checks his Luther references.
But Pastor King clearly does not understand the turn-the-tables comparison I made, and hence he goes on to make his usual groundless accusations (with Doe's expected fawning approval, since he loves anything, no matter how ridiculous, that is critical of yours truly). I shall now proceed to take apart his hit piece point-by-point and show exactly how it holds no weight whatsoever. His words will be in blue.

The misinformation of Dave Armstrong

I usually ignore Mr. Armstrong, because his points are often so convoluted, it's not worth the time to respond to him.

Translation: "I usually can't answer Mr. Armstrong's arguments and in fact can't even comprehend many of them [since our theological paradigms are so vastly different], and so I pretend that the fault lies in his convoluted reasoning rather than my inability to cogently reply, and ignore his arguments, since I don't have time to be refuted."

I want to give a classic illustration below.

It sure is classic, but not in the way King thinks . . .

On his blog or web site, he wrote the following, charging that I have misquoted Martin Chemnitz...

I did no such thing. No one (including King) can prove that I did so. It is absolutely untrue. This was a semi-humorous turn-the-tables argument, using Doe's own faulty methodology in argument against him (a form of the time-honored reductio ad absurdum argument, that I love to use, especially when falsely accused, as here, and clearly indicated by my preface: "Using his own reasoning, then . . . let us have a bit of tweaking fun and modify his words").

My argument, rightly understood, did not entail accusing either King or Doe of misquoting anyone. That was not the point, which was, rather, Doe's silly, unnecessary hyper-skepticism regarding any secondary sources that give Luther's words. I merely noted the irony of Doe making a cross-reference to Chemnitz, where that reference was different from the one cited (from William Goode). Hence I wrote: "he gave me much flak for the exact same thing: different translations of the same utterance."

None of this carried the slightest implication that either Doe or King made a misquotation or inaccurate citation. I didn't believe that when I wrote and do not now (and would gladly swear on a stack of KJV and NASB Bibles that this is God's honest truth about my own opinion on the matter). But somehow King in his superior wisdom thinks he sees what ain't there. Context, context, context! Understanding (from all appearances, anyway) neither the form of humor nor the argument nor the analogy in play, nor the background, King gets it 180 degrees wrong and makes a fool of himself once again, in trying to make a fool of me. Poetic justice? It's like the proverbial guy preparing a pit for his enemy, who falls in it himself.

King then provides my words that I cited above, adding my next paragraph unrelated to this controversy, and goes on:

[Doe] was never attempting to cite the translation of Ambrose as found in the work by Chemnitz.
I never stated that he was trying to do so, so this is utterly irrelevant (downright quixotic, I would say).

Mr. Armstrong has missed the point altogether.

Nope; I'm afraid that Pastor King is the one who is in the dark, for the reasons given above. I've always maintained that strong biases and hostilities adversely affect one's logic and reading comprehension.

Here's what appeared on [John Q. Doe's] blog [source], from which Mr. Armstrong claims I miscited Chemnitz's translation of Ambrose...

As already stated, I never made such a claim, or even insinuated it, not even in the midst of my humor. If King disagrees, let him produce proof that I did so. What I did was state the following, as part of the tweaking, tongue-in-cheek reductio:
Mr. Doe [and Mr. King and Mr. Webster] complicates the task of any who checks his [their] St. Ambrose references.
The point was not that Ambrose was miscited, but (following up on Doe's accusations of myself and using his reasoning in the course of my reductio) that multiple translations were utilized. Doe objected to that in my writing, and so I was humorously tweaking him for, in effect, doing the same thing. I never claimed that King was citing Chemnitz at all. He obviously wasn't. And for him to claim that I am doing so is a lie, pure and simple (if someone doesn't like the word lie, just substitute falsehood or untruth).

Ambrose (c. 339-97):

"In most places Paul so explains his meaning by his own words, that he who discourses on them can find nothing to add of his own; and if he wishes to say anything, must rather perform the office of a grammarian than a discourser."

Source: See William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 262, Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, p. 167, and Whitaker, pp. 398, 492, who all render plerisque as “most.

Latin text: In plerisque ita se ipse suis exponat sermonibus, ut is qui tractat, nihil inveniat quod adjiciat suum; ac si velit aliquid dicere, grammatici magis quam disputatoris fungatur munere. Epistola XXXVII.1, PL 16:1084. The translation found in FC, Vol. 26, Saint Ambrose: Letters 54. Ambrose to Simplicianus (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1954), p. 286, has mistranslated this word plerisque to read “in some instances” rather than the correct translation of “most places.”

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Labels: An Ancient Voice For The Day
Now then, the quote of Ambrose on Mr. [Doe]'s blog is a translation of Ambrose from William Goode.

Of course. No one (least of all, myself) ever implied otherwise.

I never claimed to be offering a full text of Chemnitz's translation of Ambrose there.

Nor did I ever claim that he was doing so.

I was simply making the point, as I did in the quote provided by [John Q. Doe] from Holy Scripture, the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol. 3, p. 246, that William Goode, Martin Chemnitz (as translated by Kramer), and Whitaker all point out that the Latin word "plerisque" that Ambrose used in reference to Paul's writings should be translated as "most," unlike the translation found in Fathers of the Church, Vol. 26, Saint Ambrose: Letters 54. Ambrose to Simplicianus (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1954), p. 286, which mistranslated this word plerisque to read “in some instances” rather than the correct translation of “most places.”

Yes, of course. But all of that was beside the point of my satirical analogy. It's irrelevant. I never denied it, and it formed no part of my argument.

But the point was utterly lost on Mr. Amstrong, who in his eagerness to speak ill of our work, has passed on a falsehood about our work.

Nothing could be more incorrect. Pastor King has been lying about me throughout his post. He can't get one single fact right (beyond my name) where I am concerned. But it is almost certain that he will never apologize or retract anything (mark my words). That would put him out and cause some sort of mental breakdown, for him ever to apologize to a Pelagian, pagan, unregenerate, totally depraved Catholic, whom he had plainly, clearly misrepresented. I guess he would go into some sort of emotional crisis . . .

The translation of Ambrose on [John Q. Doe]'s blog is from William Goode, and the point was that Chemnitz and Whitaker both make the same point about this same passage from Ambrose, which is found in Martin Chemnitz, An Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, trans. Fred Kramer (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971), p. 167. We have not misled people, but that is precisely what Mr. Armstrong, in his own inept way, has managed to do.

The only person or thing "misled" here is King's reasoning . . .

When this kind of lunacy passes for Roman apologetics, one can realize why folks like myself rarely deal with such people. It requires such an enormous amount of effort, just to show how one point (and they do this so often) is so ludicrous, that one makes the judgment that such people are not worth one's time.

My thoughts exactly, if you change the word "Roman" to "anti-Catholic" or "David King's". The illustrious pastor then posts the Chemnitz translation of St. Ambrose (which is irrelevant to anything I argued), and concludes:

I suppose that in order to satisfy Mr. Armstrong, I should have posted each of the three translations offered by Goode, Kramer's translation of Chemnitz's translation of Ambrose, and Whitaker. The reason it was so difficult for Armstrong is because he was the one attempting to do the research. Not everyone shares his ineptness.

I shall (as I always do) let the reader decide exactly whom is the inept one here. I have explained myself in minute detail. King has less than no excuse to keep up the accusation. But in all likelihood he will. I find it very sad. Heaven help us if even pastors can lie with such irrational and groundless impunity about other fellow Christians, and no one will take them to task for it (so that I have to do so myself). I find that very sad. Telling the truth and not lying about and falsely judging and accusing others without cause is something, I think, that all Christians can agree upon, despite our many internal disagreements.

* * * * *

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James White (right) working his legendary debate tactics, in his stint as a game show host, way back in 1981.

James White has chimed in, in his usual juvenile, substanceless fashion. It seems lately that any opposing argument, for him (at least when I make them) amounts to one of two things: "stalking" or a "meltdown." In the present instance, he has chosen the latter to describe what most normal, unassuming folks would call simply an "argument" or a "response" or (in this case) a "self-defense" against groundless charges:
Speaking of incoherent vitriol...Dave Armstrong has returned to blogging. I just happened to see a new article on his site. I truly think Armstrong is headed for a full-on meltdown soon, to be honest. The level of "shrill" is peaking. In any case, the article started, "David T. King: anti-Catholic Reformed Baptist pastor...." Poor Dave. He can't even start an article with accuracy. It is well known that David King is a Presbyterian minister, not a Reformed Baptist. Now, that is not for my not trying! We'd love to have David...but alas, my brother remains, as Bill Shishko, a Presbyterian. Anyone reading the response brother David wrote to Armstrong will once again see that Armstrong is helpless when it comes to being refuted. All he can do is throw a fit and grow more shrill, which is why I have a feeling we may see a complete melt-down (again--how many has DA exhibited over the years?) in the not too distant future.
ROFL! Just for fun, I thought I'd do some research to see how often he has used this term to describe myself and others. It's a bit like the liberal news media getting their talking points and all sounding like clones of each other when describing some conservative or Christian or pro-life idea or person. The anti-Catholic world is similar in that respect: they habitually utilize these stupid obscurantist tactics -- anything but actually dealing with a reasonable argument (heaven forbid!!!) -- and repeat words and phrases, in classic propagandist fashion. And so I am a "stalker" who undergoes multiple "meltdowns." Here is the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary's definition:
Main Entry: melt·down

Pronunciation: 'melt-"daun
Function: noun

1
: the accidental melting of the core of a nuclear reactor
2 : a rapid or disastrous decline or collapse
3 : a breakdown of self-control (as from fatigue or overstimulation)
Yep, that's me! Always on the verge of collapse! LOL How much these anti-Catholic clowns hope and pray and dream and wish that were the case . . . If I don't deal with their arguments (real or imagined) then, of course, I am a coward and a chicken. If I do, I am a stalker and/or having a meltdown. See how it works? Here are other instances of White using this phrase to describe myself and others:

The "Stalker": Dave Armstrong

But I never dreamed that a total and complete melt-down would take place, resulting in Mr. Armstrong pulling the material off his blog and going into hiding! And yet, you can read for yourself. We are asked to believe this was a "long time coming," etc., but let's face it: DA isn't up to defending his published works. (1-3-05)

If my material is so poor, why not respond to it? Instead, all I am reading (and the comments keep piling up) is about how persecuted Dave is. To call this a "melt-down" is to engage in understatement to an absurd degree. (1-14-05)

Same fellow who melted down into a puddle of apologetic goo when I finally invested the time to start working through his book,
The Catholic Verses, . . . (4-5-05)

His response? Well, a bit like putting a wax candle on your dashboard in Phoenix today: total melt-down. Complete capitulation. "I won't talk to anti-Catholics anymore!" Well, I knew that was all just a cover to allow him to hide long enough for the storm to pass, and that he'd be back. Guess what? Yeah, no big surprise. [John Q. Doe] informs me ol' Dave is strutting about the Internet once again, sporting an ego the size of Mount Rushmore. This is the same Dave Armstrong who will not debate in person; the same one who melted into a puddle of goo when challenged in writing to defend his own published "exegesis." (7-14-06)

. . . he melted down and once again swore to have nothing to do with "us." . . . Armstrong had a standing challenge for years to debate, but after his melt-down when I took his exegesis apart a few years ago . . . (7-12-07)

Other Honorary Meltees

AAPCism and NPism Continue to Melt Together (11-20-03)

Everyone step back, the meltdown [of Paul Owen] could be messy, sorta like in the Matrix . . . (6-15-04)

Phil Johnson of the Spurgeon Archive and Grace To You has verified the complete melt-down at Discerning Reader. (12-1-04)

The Melt Down of the Berean Call (12-17-04)

. . . utter melt-down that appeared in the pages of The Berean Call today. (2-2-05)

The Rutland/Sippo Meltdown Continues (6-13-05)

So, the first half hour was all about the Sippo/Rutland melt-down, . . . (6-14-05)

John6jmj's Weekend MeltDown (6-25-05)
Jonathan Prejean's utter melt-down in the use of double-standards, and his obvious emotionalism in the face of calm refutation of his false accusations, is a thing to behold. (7-2-05)

Utter irrationality, total nonsense, complete melt-down on any level at all. Now, given how horrific Flemming's film is, we really shouldn't be overly surprised, but it is still an amazing thing to observe. (5-10-06)

. . .
Sippo's melt-down last year, . . . (8-9-06). . . Jerry-Jet continues to melt down . . . (8-9-06)

. . .
the melt down at the Catholic Answers forums . . . (9-18-06)

And that is all RyanL could come up with. Not a single one was even slightly relevant. The melt down continues.... (9-19-06)

The Miki Melt-Down
(9-19-06)

A full melt-down is underway with this person, who now says she (yes, she) only the Dries name as a cover on the Puritan Board. (10-3-06)The past five days have set new all-time records for vitriolic nastiness, at least on the part of those devoted to Rome, anyway. I suppose there have been brief periods of similar nastiness from other groups, maybe for a day or so, but surely nothing to compare to the utter melt down of hypocrisy that can be documented this day in numerous venues. (8-11-07)

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