I was speaking in Hawaii when James Swan sent me a quote from Dave Armstrong’s blog. He was talking about how he was going to attend a Catholic apologetics seminar, but, he wouldn’t actually get to go in the room to listen to the sessions, because he can’t afford to register. He was hoping they’d have a video feed in the foyer he could watch.
   For someone who is constantly talking about how well his books do, how he has refuted every Protestant apologist, the apologist’s uncle, cousin, next door neighbor, and his dog as well, it strikes me as simply pitiful that Armstrong is not even being invited in the back door, let alone to be a presenter. The man is desperate, absolutely desperate, for attention, and evidently, since I have been too busy to continue the series I started on his book, he has to find where I am active (such as the Parchment and Pen blog), and follow me over there, and post drivel like this:

I’ve challenged James White to a lengthy debate in his chat room twice now (the first on any topic; the second on the definition of a Christian) and he refused twice (as did his associate James Swan). I also tried to enter his chat room a few months back and was kicked out after one day, even though I had done nothing wrong and was getting along fine with most in the room. I suggested that we do a program-long chat on his webcast to become more acquainted with each other as human beings and he turned that down too. I would go on his boat cruise, too. 🙂 Us poor apologists aren’t used to such high luxury as ocean cruises!

He even ruled out any possibility of a live oral debate that he loves so much, when I asked him if he was unwilling to do that, for his part, too. All this stuff is a matter of record. It’s all documented. He has, moreover, refused to respond to some dozen or more of my papers that critiqued his (several, recently).

So we see who has and has not the willingness to dialogue between us two . . .

I don’t believe I will invest the effort to respond to all of your accusations against me here.

As usual. What else is new?

That way we can see how well they stand up to cross-examination, OK?

Knowing of White’s love of the cross-ex format, I offered him more time to cross-examine me than I would have with him, in both my chatroom debate challenges, but it made no difference. The man debates those whom he wants to debate and ignores those he doesn’t want to debate. It’s as simple as that, really.

   Now, that sounds pretty impressive, right? But let’s remember the facts. Armstrong has a long, long history of flip-flopping around like a salmon caught on the river bank. Over and over again he has promised to never have anything to do with me, or with any “anti-Catholic.” This has been going on literally for years. On March 14, 2001, for example, he posted the following:

I, DAVE ARMSTRONG, DO HEREBY RESOLVE TO CEASE AND DESIST EVEN FROM *MENTION* OF DR. JAMES WHITE AND TIM ENLOE (and strongly urge other Catholics to do the same)

Of course, this headline was followed by a verbose explanation, but that’s just Armstrong’s way. In any case, I don’t think this was the first time, and even if it was, it wasn’t the last. When I took the time to take apart his pretended exegesis in his book, The Catholic Verses, he melted down and once again swore to have nothing to do with “us.” The fact is, Dave Armstrong goes from ‘in your face’ apologist to pious ecumenist and back again, with various stages in between, with nauseating regularity, and you can never tell what stage he will be in at any given time.
   So, how on earth can anyone trust him to not freak out a month before a debate and cancel out after a ton of money has been spent to arrange it? See, we are the ones who put out the effort to set up these debates, video tape them, and even provide the other side with a master video to use as they wish. That’s not free. I have to believe the person I am going to debate is stable enough to actually show up and debate, and one thing is for sure, Dave Armstrong may be many things, but stable is not one of them. Armstrong had a standing challenge for years to debate, but after his melt-down when I took his exegesis apart a few years ago, I realized that such an endeavor would be a guaranteed disaster.
   So, now, DA has come back (starting back in March, as I recall) with a vengeance, doing everything he can to get me to mention him on my blog. He has years of history in posting distorted pictures of me, cartoons, including one with an arrow stuck in my forehead with blood splashing all over the place, etc., and now he runs about the net trying to make it look as if I fear his great apologetic prowess. In some ways it is simply pitiful, in others shameful.
   But I would like to help poor Dave. I mean, it’s just wrong that he isn’t up there with the big boys at the RC apologetics gatherings! So, here’s my idea.
   I won’t invest my ministry’s funds in arranging a face-to-face debate with Armstrong, since I don’t trust him to show up. However, if Armstrong is so confident, and has so many supporters of his work, how about he do what I do all the time? If he will fly me in, put me up, pay to have the event recorded, and provide me with a master audio and video recording, I will be happy take Armstrong on. A real moderator, with knowledge of debate format, will be necessary. No honorariums needed for the debaters. Topics galore suggest themselves: Marian dogmas, purgatory, papacy, structure of the church, any number of things. All he has to do is do what A&O does all the time, and unlike him, my history with reference to remaining consistent in my views and position is spotless. So he knows I will be there, and I figure if he’s paying the freight, he will be there, too. So, there you go, Dave. Put your resources on the line like I do all the time, and we will see if your challenges are worth the cyber-space it takes to post them.

Update: Armstrong Replies–Sorta
   In another example of his “stalker” type status, Armstrong actually attempted to accuse me of inconsistency regarding the “anti-Catholic” label by citing all sorts of places where I have spoken of “anti-Calvinism” or “anti-Calvinistic” sermons, materials, etc. Evidently, he can’t tell the difference between identifying someone as an anti-Catholic and identifying the nature of particular materials that are written specifically to oppose Calvinism. Well, that’s DA for you. But ironically, though he has been going about touting himself as the champion Roman Catholic apologist I’m afraid to debate, he managed to completely ignore my invitation to him to put his resources on the line and arrange a debate with me the way we arrange debates with others (above). Here is all he provided:

Speaking of the absurd and comical, White has posted yet another of his hyper-ridiculous hit pieces against me on his blog. I will refrain from providing it the dignity of a response this time. He’s gotten enough attention that he doesn’t deserve. If he goes after one of my papers or books and makes an actual argument (I know it’s tough, but he’s capable of rational argumentation if he puts his mind to it), I’ll respond — and he will in turn almost certainly ignore that, as is his standard, yawningly predictable practice.

   However, various non-Catholics challenged him in his comments section, and he finally wrote,

The real question is: “why won’t James White debate me in his chat room?” He continues to have this thing on his site. He even has a forum there just for debates, so he can’t say that he is opposed to it in principle.

He’s simply flat-out scared to do so. He wants no part of a double cross-ex format because his whole reputation is on the line and he would do very poorly.

   In other words, Armstrong continues to refuse to debate man to man in person, and wishes only to hide behind his keyboard where he knows that no one, and I mean no one, can possibly force him to answer a direct question. As long as you can use the written forum, you can avoid the very essence of debate, the heart of debate, which is answering direct questions that test your position for consistency. Armstrong knows he is simply constitutionally incapable of the task, but he refuses to admit it, opting instead for this kind of rhetoric.

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