Wouldn't a real debate be nice for a change?
By Dave Armstrong (10-8-07)
This was the immediate reason for my decision to cease attempting to debate theology with anti-Catholics any longer, in 2007.
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1) Whereas I have tried for 12 years to engage an anti-Catholic Christian (either Protestant or Orthodox) in a sustained discussion on the crucial presuppositional topic of "Is Catholicism Christian?" / "What is Christianity?" (ever since my snail mail debate with James White in 1995, that he prematurely departed from),
2) And whereas anti-Catholics have frequently objected to my use of the term anti-Catholic, and have refused to interact with my perfectly reasonable stated rationale (from almost exclusively Protestant scholars),
3) And whereas this issue is fundamental to all Catholic-Protestant discussion, insofar as it is crucial to start with correct and commonly held definitions in order to get anywhere in a meaningful discussion,
4) And whereas James White, James Swan, "Saint and Sinner," Gene Bridges, "Turretinfan", and CARM president Matt Slick have all declined to discuss this topic in a chat room debate,
5) And whereas all of these men have preferred to engage in personal insult rather than serious comprehensive discussion, where I am concerned, and have especially endlessly regurgitated the charge that I write too much meaningless "fluff" and at absurd length (though most of them are far more voluminous than I am),
6) And whereas others watching this latest farce of viciously circular monologue critiques (with no intention whatsoever of answering hard questions from my end) from the peanut gallery have expressed the same silly, groundless sentiments,
7) And whereas James White: the anti-Catholic champion that all these men look up to as a role model as the Mighty Vanquisher of Catholicism, has extolled the glories of the cross-examination (my emphases):
. . . a pack of lies so inane, so silly, no person could possibly make a meaningful case for them in the face of cross-examination and rebuttal. Which is why, of course, he refuses to put himself in a position of being cross-examined by the very people who would expose his falsehoods without hesitation.8) And whereas this format will force these prattling critics of myself and my reasoning and dialogical methods to confront the issue (indeed, any issue that they have with Catholics) head on for a change rather than running and substituting juvenile insults for intelligent, constructive discourse,
(1-17-06 on his blog)
What is not being said is that the very first thing torn out was the cross-examination that we had specifically asked for in the agreement arrived at. I have said it repeatedly in the past, and I'll say it again: in theological debate the truth is normally determined by cross-examination. I know that is not the case in scholastic speed-talking, but it is in this context, a context that is unfamiliar territory for all involved on the other side. So, cross-ex was being diminished to the point of being irrelevant.
During the cross-examination, as is so often the case, the wheels fell off my opponent's wagon. I was pressing him on his utterly untenable reading of Romans 1 and finally, he had to give in.
9) And whereas I have always thought that an assertion that Catholicism is not Christian, coming from the position of Protestantism, is a viciously self-refuting position of intellectual suicide,
10) I do hereby challenge any and all of these men (one at a time) to a live debate in James White's chat room (or similar venue), in a "double cross-ex format".
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My suggested terms and parameters and format for the debate are as follows (exactly as I suggested in the three earlier challenges):
I am allowed to question (or "cross-examine") my opponent for 60 minutes on this topic, whereas he can question me for 90 minutes. The entire debate would consist entirely of this "cross-examining", since Bishop White has repeatedly stressed that this is such a "crucial" element of Catholic-Protestant encounters. I actually largely agree with him in this instance, in the sense that all positions need to be closely examined, and people taking positions ought to defend their positions against such close scrutiny.
My opponent can choose to question first, or second (I have no preference). As in my terms in 2001 (first challenge to Bishop White, that he refused), it is a "non-negotiable" that the entire, unedited exchange shall be posted on my blog. If that is not agreed-to beforehand, there will be no debate, because the whole point is to broadcast it (by exposure online) as far and wide as possible.
My opponent(s) can post it on his (their) blog(s), too. It will certainly be posted on my blog in its entirety. White's characteristic chiding of debate opponents when they are reluctant to distribute debates (as tacit "admissions" that they "lost") is no factor here. It never has been.
I provide my opponents with 90 minutes of cross-examination (30 minutes more than I get with them): truly a golden opportunity (even a handicap) to prove to the world that I am as profoundly ignorant and clueless as they repeatedly claim. What do any of them have to lose?
I also suggest that it take place late enough for those on the west coast to be able to observe it live (9 or 10 PM EST); preferably on a Friday or Saturday night, so that those in the eastern part of the country can stay up later without having to work the next day. There will be no rules, no moderation, no format other than previously agreed-to time limits, and absolute inadmissibility of personal attack.
Participants can, however, or refuse to spend a perceived inordinate amount of time on what they consider a "side" issue.
Should any of my opponents be willing (and that is always the hurdle), we could continue on with similarly formatted live chat debates on other mutually-agreed-upon topics.
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Lack of any response will be regarded as a "no" answer: declining the challenge or invitation, and this will be duly noted and documented hereafter on my blog, for the record (along with the probable slew of renewed insults).
Notice of this challenge will be posted on the blogs of all four of these men (Triablogue for Gene M. Bridges) immediately after this is posted.
[All six men declined, with juvenile insults]
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