Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Porvaznik Perfidy and Matatics Mendacity Documented
03/26/2007 - James WhiteThe responses we have been receiving from posting video clips have been truly amazing. Most folks really enjoy them. Those on "the other side" do not.
Recently I noted the words of Gary Michuta over at the Catholic Answers Forums. I did a little search yesterday, and ran across a fascinating thread here. I do find it intriguing to see how folks filter what they see. The bias and prejudice is deep, but then again, they are discussing the Stravinskas clip, and it was at that same debate that a group of young RC apologists had been standing around afterward saying, "Oh, when Father Stravinskas was speaking, you could just feel the truth flowing from his words, but when White got up, you could see the demons dancing around his head." Not much you can do about bias that is that deep, prejudice that is that strong. Thankfully, even that is no match for the Holy Spirit of God, as the number of former Roman Catholics can testify.
In any case, as you read through that thread, you will note a number of interesting items. First is the ever-present, but never able to actually stand up for himself, Phil Porvaznik. Porvaznik's role in life is to assure folks that even when the Roman Catholic loses a debate with me, it really does not mean anything, because all you have to do is go read these five hundred pages of Internet postings on irrelevant topics and you'll see why you should remain a Roman Catholic and forget what you just saw happen when a Catholic priest with two Ph.D.'s could not answer the most basic, pointed exegetical questions about the key text on purgatory. "Oh, Sungenis did better, just go listen to him." Porvaznik knows he could never defend himself in debate, so he doesn't bother. If he thought he could, he knows our toll free number, but alas, we never hear from ol' Phil.
For a while I considered Phil a mainly harmless young fellow who would eventually grow up, get a job, and move on. But that hasn't happened. Instead, we are constantly having to remind Phil about things like copyright laws, pirating video and audio that doesn't belong to him, etc. And then we have this clip, which, of course, he posted as soon as possible in the thread to which I referred above. It is a tiny portion of the cross-examination from the 5/22/1997 sola scriptura debate with Gerry Matatics on Long Island. Phil knows he is being dishonest here, and he simply does not care. He even has the temerity to assert that in this clip "White concedes defeat." Taking twenty seconds out of a 2+ hour debate, isolating it even from the immediate context before and after, and presenting it like this only shows the bankruptcy of the Porvaznik style of "apologetics" which really only exists to do one thing: confirm people in their error. Porvaznik knows that kind of behavior will not impact anyone who is seriously studying the issue. He does not care about those folks anyway. His target audience is the Roman Catholic who is in danger of actually, for the first time, listening to the other side, and hearing the criticisms of Rome's authority claims that he well knows he cannot defend. His task is to shut down the critical thinking process before it begins. Salve the mind, calm the conscience, assure the follower of Rome that all is well, and oh, isn't the Pope a wonderful guy, and oh, look over here, isn't St. Peter's just gorgeous? Distract and derail.
I will be providing the immediate context of Porvaznik's little clip via video here on the blog. I know those whose prejudice blinds them completely have no eyes to see, and I do not worry about them. But those with an interest in truth will find the actual cross-examination period most interesting. The number of times Matatics plays mental games, misleads, misdirects, interrupts, ignores the rules of cross-examination, etc., is amazing, but more so, you will see that the isolation of that one clip from the rest of the engagement is, in and of itself, an admission on Porvaznik's part that he knows his side cannot truly win the argument.
There were a number of other things said in the thread that were far from the truth. "llowwelll" said I was "condescending" to Stravinskas. I would suggest that it was his lack of preparation, his lack of exegetical abilities, and his lack of respect for me, and the audience, that laid the foundation for his downfall in the cross-examination. He simply was not prepared. "6glargento" may be the kid on YouTube who has tried to post items in response to my clips. He is simply blowing smoke to say I only post videos of me talking "but never his opponent." Anyone who has read this blog over the past few months knows better.
Finally there is discussion of Scott Hahn yet again. Evidently these folks are not aware of our standing debate challenge for Scott Hahn, first made in public after the Pacwa debate in San Diego in January of 1991. They must not be aware of the fact that I was invited to debate Hahn in Dallas a few years later, and accepted, but when Hahn heard they had invited me, informed the Roman Catholic organizers "if White is there, I am not." I was disinvited. The argument that I am too "mean" to engage in the debate has been disproven on video so many times that it is truly embarrassing for folks to repeat it so often. The fact is that when Dr. John Gerstner agreed, out of anger at the misrepresentation of him by Gerry Matatics and Scott Hahn, to do a debate, Hahn, and his handler at the time (Scott Butler) leapt at the chance, and Butler became incensed when Gerstner, realizing his failing hearing would make such an encounter impossible, directed them to me to take his place. So our challenge stands, but as it has gone sixteen years now without acceptance, I am not looking to make room for such a debate in my schedule anytime in the near future.
So, let's document the "Porvaznik Perfidy," and along the way document the "Matatics Means of Mendacity in the Service of Mother Church." It is somewhat ironic that though this debate took place only a decade ago, the Roman Catholic representative is no longer considered a mainline Roman Catholic by those who had been promoting him so strongly just a few years before. In any case, let's start with the first portion of the cross-examination period. I am asking Gerry the questions. Here are my comments:
Gerry mentioned two items that we need to know that illustrate the failure of sola scriptura in his opening, that being what "he who restrains" is in 1 Thessalonians and then the content of Paul's preaching in Ephesus. Now note that Matatics cannot tell us where Rome has infallibly (or otherwise) told us what that text means, or what Paul said in Ephesus. That is because he doesn't know. Instead, he says I am creating a straw man by asking for an infallible definition. Think about it: whenever a Protestant criticizes a Roman Catholic belief, the RC will cry foul if the doctrine has not been dogmatically defined. But, when I ask that Gerry simply be consistent with his own stated position, he cries foul that I ask for a dogmatic definition! This is very much like trying to disprove Papal Infallibility. If the Pope made an error, he wasn't speaking infallibly in the first place. Nice system, tends toward...meaninglessness in the final analysis.
Next, when I ask Gerry about his knowledge of the very things he said I needed to know, but can't, due to my holding to sola scriptura, listen to his response. "I haven't studied all the church fathers." First, the church fathers do not tell us what Paul taught in Ephesus. Secondly, the church fathers do not give a united interpretation of what "restrains" means, either. And finally, is he not here admitting that the opposite of sola scriptura involves the reading and studying of the entirety of the corpus of the early Fathers, much of which has not yet even been translated into English?
Matatics claims infant baptism is a theopneustos tradition. I would direct you here for an excellent historical discussion, by paedobaptists, of whether this is even the most primitive testimony of the fathers, let alone an inspired tradition.
I then force Gerry, by logic, to admit his belief in sola ecclesia. He simply cannot escape the circularity of his own epistemological stance. He cannot tell us when an early writer is speaking falsely or not. He has to believe what Rome says, period.
Matatics is playing linguistic and historical games when he tries to say that the early writers who did not see Peter in Matthew 16:18 were not "excluding" that possibility. He's the one with the position that claims infallibility and claims the universal consensus of the church as its foundation. He cannot simply assume the Roman position, but as we will see repeatedly, that is exactly what he does. For the Papacy to just read itself into someone's words only proves how little foundation exists for the entire concept.
Finally, I do recommend the two part debate (#448) from 1993 on the subject of the Papacy for anyone who wishes to truly see whether the Papacy can stand up to critical examination.