On June 29, 1999, we posted an open challenge to Karl Keating and Catholic Answers to debate in San Diego, California, their main base of operations.  We did so because Catholic Answers was continuing to claim, in their literature, to be out front taking on “anti-Catholics” at seminars and publicly giving the “Catholic answer.”  We find it hypocritical that Catholic Answers will tell their supporters about how daring they are to take on Bart Brewer or Dave Hunt, but, they will not engage in “giving the Catholic Answer” in their own backyard in a moderated, public debate.  For details on this, see the original challenge by clicking here

Recently we discovered that someone, upon reading our challenge, asked Karl Keating about it on the EWTN website.  Keating hosts an apologetics forum (http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/forum4.htm).  On February 26, 2000, he responded to the question as follows:

Let’s point out a few of the inconsistencies in Mr. Keating’s reply:

1)      With reference to the first paragraph, we are unconcerned about how Catholic Answers describes me.  Former CA Vice-President Patrick Madrid did use very similar terminology at a Catholic Answers sponsored seminar in Phoenix in 1991, but that was a long time ago. 

2)      Karl Keating seemed more than happy to allow Gerry Matatics, then staff apologist of Catholic Answers, to debate me in Long Beach in 1990, and in Phoenix (twice) in 1991.  At that time I had written two small books on Catholicism, nothing more.  Since then I have done more than 20 moderated debates against the likes of Mitchell Pacwa, Robert Sungenis, Timothy Staples, and even Patrick Madrid (Mr. Keating and Mr. Akin attended this debate in San Diego in 1993).  I have likewise published a number of books with Bethany House Publishers, one of the largest Christian publishing houses in the world, two of which are specifically relevant to Catholicism (The Roman Catholic Controversy and Mary–Another Redeemer?).  I have been teaching on the graduate level since 1995, work as a critical consultant on a major Bible translation, and host two radio programs on a regular basis. I would like to ask: how am I less deserving of legitimacy now than I was in 1990?  Or is it just possible that Mr. Keating is exercising choice in who he will debate based upon their inexperience or lack of training?  What made me “legitimate” in 1990 but illegitimate in 2000?

3)      It seems I had sufficient legitimacy for James Akin to appear on the Bible Answer Man Show with me a few years ago, and for Catholic Answers to make that tape available through the ministry.  What has happened since then to remove the legitimacy I must have had then?

4)      The February, 2000 edition of This Rock Magazine contained two articles about me: one a short attempt to respond to a section from The Roman Catholic Controversy (click here for my reply) and the other (amazingly) an incredibly poor review of Mary–Another Redeemer? that was originally posted on the Amazon.com website!  For some reason, This Rock magazine has tried (and failed) a number of times to provide responses to my published materials.  Is it Mr. Keating’s position that it is legitimate to attempt to respond to my works, yet I lack sufficient legitimacy to debate?

5)      It seems that if one follows the logic of Mr. Keating’s position to its conclusion, Dave Hunt, Bart Brewer, Bill Jackson, Peter Ruckman, and Vinney Lewis (men Keating has debated in the past), all have more legitimacy as well-studied, fair critics of Roman Catholicism than I do.  That would mean that Hunt’s The Woman Rides the Beast is considered, by Mr. Keating, as having more legitimacy than The Roman Catholic Controversy.  Is this the position Mr. Keating wishes to promote?

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Keating will not debate me because, as Patrick Madrid admitted in 1991, he cannot do so.  Scholarly debate involves going beyond a written presentation and being able to engage in direct, one-on-one interaction.  Keating feels he can do this with those who are not professionally trained in the biblical languages, history, or theology.  He evidently wishes his supporters to believe that no one with such training is opposing the work of Catholic Answers and providing replies.  Our work is beyond Keating’s capacity for response.  This is evident in the fact that we have provided numerous examples of the errors of Catholic Answers in the past without the first attempt on their part to recover from their mistakes (see, for example, the following articles: Is Roman Catholic History Reliable-, The Believer’s SecurityThe Bereans Rejected Sola Scriptura, Mirror Mirror- The Decline of Catholic Answers, “Catholic Answers- Myth or Reality-“); and secondly, from Keating’s steadfast refusal to engage in debate on the important issues that are part and parcel of Catholic Answers’ teaching.  He well knows we have offered him a standing challenge since 1990.  A full decade has gone by.  Saying I lack the legitimacy to debate him is, to anyone familiar with the field, completely fallacious.  Mr. Keating needs to come clean: either tell his supporters he is unable and unwilling to do so, or, accept the challenge and schedule the debate.  We await his response.

James White

February 28, 2000

Quick Update as of 3/9/00:

As the reader can see, Keating continues to refuse to face the fact of his selective choice of opponents, as the following indicates:

anti-Catholic James White  
Mr. Keating,

It seems that anti-Catholic James White is one of, if not the leading, arguer against the Roman Catholic Church. At his ministry’s website, he charges that you will not debate him, even if it is in your town (San Diego) and at absolutely no cost to you.

Why won’t you debate him?

Answer by Karl Keating on 02-26-2000:
I hardly would say that James White is “the leading arguer against the Roman Catholic Church” (he would appreciate the label, I guess, but I don’t think it’s accurate), but one must admit that he is persistent in his attacks on the Church and in his challenges to debate.

He seems to be a debate junkie–it would be difficulty to think of anyone who issues more challenges to debate–and seems to want to draw attention to himself. I see no reason to assist him in that or to lend him a level of legitimacy he does not deserve.


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