Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Herd Mentality, Ad-Hominem, and the CA Forums (Additional Update)
07/13/2007 - James WhiteMy Google Search widget pulled up another Catholic Answers Forum thread that once again illustrates the inherent fear many Catholics have of seriously interacting with "the other side." Here is the thread. Notice that the originator of the thread, "Colliric," is afraid to even link to my materials, and, it is painfully obvious, has not read any responses to the Roman Catholic articles he cites. You truly have to feel sorry for folks who are so insecure in their faith that they have to behave in this manner. Though I documented error and error after error in Madrid's "White Man's Burden" article (here), he refers to it as if my rebuttal does not even exist. Even his references to what I have said about sola ecclesia demonstrate that he is either going on second-hand sources, or, he is doggedly unwilling to actually listen to what I have had to say.
Of course, the nature of the CA forums is such that if one person spits in my direction, others will come along to join in with the fun. Montanaman opines, "He basically would bloviate for pages at a time and wrap it up with a "gotcha!" quote. It reminded me of how college freshmen write term papers." Great refutation! But then Phil Porvaznik chimed in, and at least he asserted that I have been consistent in my defense of sola scriptura all along, and he even suggested that if someone wants the most up-to-date defense of the doctrine from me, they should see my book, Scripture Alone.
But what I found most interesting is that Porvaznik clearly recognizes that the material/formal distinction that Madrid used in our 1993 debate was, in fact, a new "development" in CA's approach. Notice his words:
Since 1993 or so Catholic Answers and Catholic apologists following them have made the distinction between "material" and "formal" sufficiency. This appeared first in Keating/Madrid's Aug 1993 "World Youth Day" debate with Jackson/Nemec, then in Madrid's Sept 1993 debate with White, then in the pages of This Rock Oct 1993 in that "White Man's Burden" article, in a side bar by James (Jimmy) Akin. Before this time there was no "material" or "formal" sufficiency distinction ever brought up in popular Catholic apologetics, although it was explained by Yves Congar's Tradition and Traditions in the 1960s. Professional Catholic theologians have known this distinction, and I think it is a fair one if you read Congar and his sections on the Fathers.
However, the "material/formal" distinction is not found in Keating's 1988 classic Catholicism and Fundamentalism (for example). So since 1993 or so, Catholic apologists have placed an extra burden on Protestants to defend not just "material" but "formal" sufficiency. We can agree all Catholic doctrines are found in Scripture at least implicitly.
A refreshing admission on Porvaznik's part, to be sure. I take a moment to note with humor how others in the thread, specifically someone named NPS, get caught up in the kind of rhetoric that develops in any situation where you are in the majority and you are speaking of an "outsider." I have often pointed out the fact that in the Roman Catholic vs. Protestant debate over authority, we all agree that we live in a day when divine revelation is not taking place. That is, the canon is closed, and the situation the church faces today is different than the one it faced in the very early decades when revelation was on-going in the presence of living apostles of Christ. This isn't even a matter of debate, of course, but even obvious facts get lost when the "herd mentality" kicks in. NPS writes, "I just LOVE the 'In times of enscripturation' thing. It's beautifully false." False? Is NPS a Mormon? Probably not, but, when you are into the flow of ad-hominem expression of religious bigotry, even the most basic elements of rationality fall by the way.
Once in a while it is worth "turning up the lights" on the kind of mindset and activity that passes for day in, day out Roman Catholic thought and speech as found in such places as the Catholic Answers Forums. It is especially useful when all you hear is how "mean" the non-Catholics are! Remember, I make myself available for two hours a week, live, call-in, on The Dividing Line, so if these folks really did believe I am so clearly in error, why wouldn't they wish to demonstrate it? I would love for "Guardian," author of the following swipe, to give me a call and lay out his case, but, we all know how often folks on the CA forums make claims like these and then discover that they have to have their cat's teeth flossed during the DL...every DL...every time it is on:
I don't know why you all give Ole' Jimbo White the time of day. I own and have read all of White's books regarding Catholicism, and think they lack scholarship at best and honesty at worst. In fact, I've found so many things misconstrued, not just with his books but with what he says in debates and on his blog, I simply dismiss him. Now, a lot of times he does make honest arguments, but they are laughable at best, usually.
He's the boy that cried wolf, in my opinion.