I hope those who wished to listen live to the purgatory debate last night we able to do so. I had to go with straight “house sound,” so it wasn’t as clear as, for example, the Silverman debate was, but hopefully it was still useful.
Another clear delineation between the God-centered gospel of a powerful Savior and the man-centered gospel of man’s accomplishments and cooperation was surely provided over the very lengthy period of debate last evening. Dr. Sungenis did not even make an attempt to respond to the historical portion of my presentation. Almost the entirety of the debate centered on 1 Corinthians 3. I was disappointed in that Bob assumed the audience was already fully aware of what purgatory is, as defined by Rome. He really made no attempt to explain it to any meaningful depth. I think those in attendance learned much more about purgatory from me than they did from him. At one point I asked him to define indulgences for the audience, and he wandered off into a story about David. So, I then defined it as a question, defining the treasury of merit, the excess merit of Christ, Mary, and the saints, etc., and asking him, “Is that accurate?” “Yes” was his response. That’s how it went.
Unlike the calm interaction in Santa Fe, last night was anything but calm during “cross examination.” I use quotes because Bob decided to abandon any and all semblance of meaningful format for something called “cross examination.” He had told the moderator that we would be doing a “free form” type of cross-ex. What I never imagined he meant was what he did: argue, make points, ask a question, let you say ten words, interrupt you and tell you to be quiet, make another point, erect a straw man, and then cut you off if you object. It was a total mess for a total of 35 minutes (one 20 minute portion, one 15 minute portion). As much as I like Bob personally (he really is a nice guy on that level—then again, so is John Dominic Crossan, who remains my favorite heretic), I was really offended by the stunts he pulled last night. The audience was, too. It got silly, and when he went back to the same non-questions, all on how many judgments there are, I finally gave up and responded solely with, “Asked and answered.” I refused to lower myself to that level in my portions of the cross-examination.
It is very, very difficult to do cross-examination properly. It is hard to ask contextual and meaningful questions, to really probe someone else’s position. But it is worth it, and I believe I need to write up a document on how cross-examination MUST be done and INSIST upon it in the future. The “don’t bother with real questions, argue your points and misrepresent your opponent” style used last night by Dr. Sungenis shows no respect for your opponent, but less for the audience. In the second portion I could hear the groans of the audience as he beat the dead horse into oblivion for the twentieth time.
But the gospel was clearly presented, the contrast between Rome’s man-centeredness and the Bible’s God-centeredness plainly seen, and for that I am very thankful. My sincerest thanks to all those who listened, and prayed, for the debate. I was likewise encouraged greatly, once again, by meeting those who came up before, during, and after the debate, who commented on how they have been helped and edified by Alpha and Omega Ministries. That’s the whole reason we are here!