In the midst of the “bash White’s books without providing a single example that can stand examination” spate over at Envoy, Patty Patrick Bonds decided to chime in, to use her own words. She begins with a story she has told before–but without any meaningful context:
I once asked James if he had ever, even for a moment, considered the possibility that the Catholic Church is right. Understand that in order to have an objective point of view, one has to be open to the possibility that both sides of the arguement [sic] may be valid.
His answer was predictable. No. He had never for a moment considered the possibility that the Catholic Church was right. He listed three reasons, all of which made no sense because they were not based on objective reasoning but on defending his own criteria for judging what is right (sola scriptura, etc.) So I can honestly say that James has never read any Catholic document objectively, listened to any Catholic speaker objectively, examined Church history objectively, or viewed the motivations of any Catholic objectively. He is utterly biased and all his arguements [sic] are based on his own view of Catholic teachings rather than on Catholicism from the point of view of its own Doctors and Fathers. Add to that the fact that our family had always hated the Catholic Church with a passion, and you have no reason whatsoever to believe anything he has to say about it.
If we consider the logic behind these statements, we see that one must be able to say “The faith once for all delivered to the saints may well be wrong, and I can lay it aside and assume a neutral position, so as to evaluate another religion’s claims objectively.” There are a number of problems with the thesis. First, it assumes that the Christian faith is merely an object of epistemological data that you can set aside so as to “objectively” evaluate counter-claims. But this is a very shallow, very unbiblical view of the faith. A person who is serious about the Christian faith realizes that to “have the mind of Christ” and to “take every thought captive” implies deep and abiding epistemological commitments that determine how we analyze any competing claim. One would have to believe one’s own faith is inconsistent with the biblical record before one could abandon that teaching and consider a competing truth claim, and as I explained to Mrs. Bonds long ago (and as we continue documenting to this day on this web log), I have never had anyone in the Roman communion, or any other, offer reason for believing so. To put this in sharper focus, to follow Mrs. Bonds’ argument would mean that to evaluate the claims of the Heaven’s Gate Cult, I would have to be willing to evaluate their claims “objectively,” admitting that “they may well be right—maybe the mother ship IS hiding behind that comet!” No, I do not have to abandon my commitment to the Lordship of Christ to truthfully examine, with accuracy and fairness, the claims of any religious group, including Roman Catholicism.
So when I informed Mrs. Bonds that I had never considered the possibility that Rome was true, I explained why: Rome has failed, miserably, to demonstrate that her dogmas are ancient, or biblical, or compelling, or even logically coherent; as soon as I started studying Roman Catholicism, I encountered her violation of sound principles regarding the ultimate supremacy of Scripture, her circular arguments for her various views of “tradition,” etc. And I surely saw that the Roman system’s gospel did not begin to answer to the matter of man’s sin and his need for full and perfect redemption in another. So I truly wonder, does Mrs. Bonds follow her own advice? Has she read the Qur’an objectively, honestly separating herself from any pre-commitments so as to weigh, as some neutral party, the difference between believing Jesus was divine or just another messenger of Allah who was not, in fact, crucified upon the cross of Calvary? If not, why question what I said to her?
Now the hard part of this is that he is very detailed. In fact he may bury you in details. And unfortunately the abundance of details often takes on the appearance of an abundance of “evidence.” Don’t be fooled.
Given that no one at Envoy seems capable or willing of even fairly restating my arguments, there is little danger anyone will be fooled. Mrs. Bonds has allowed any and all evidence offered to her to pass in silence: she is well aware she is in no position to respond, and has chosen not to, repeatedly, in the past.
I like to use this example of how I view James’ arguements [sic].
Say I’m a builder. I build this great house for you. It has hard wood floors, a spiral staircase, crystal chandeliers, an intercom system that lets you communicate and also play music throughout the house, a fire place and conversation pit, game room, etc. You name it, this house has it. In fact, it’s rather overwhelming when you walk in. It’s almost too much. Well, when it comes time for you to move into you house, the municipal inspector comes out to give his approval and it takes him no time at all to write out an order for the house to be demonished and rebuilt from the ground up!!! Why, you exclaim! It’s am amazing house. It has so much stuff it takes all day to see it all! Why tear it down? Well, the inspector says, it has no foundation! One good wind and you’re buried in a pile of very expensive rubble!
That’s analagous [sic] to my brother’s “arguements.” [sic] Yes, they’re very elaborate, detailed, and for some people [though not all, thankfully], downright overwhelming and seemingly well-built. But they are completely without a foundation because he has never laid down his sword and stopped shouting long enough to let the Fathers speak for themselves rather than putting words in their mouths, or long enough to read the Scriptures from any other point of view but his own (because believe me, they read utterly Catholic from this side of the Tiber), or to stop shaking his fist long enough to see the amazing resemblance between Mother Teresa, or JPII, or St. Therese and their Master, Jesus Christ.
You will see, if you review the letter I sent to Mrs. Bonds when she contacted me anonymously years ago (here’s the article) that little has changed over time. She will tell others why I have no foundation…but when I have challenged her with quotes from Scripture, she has refused to respond. When I challenge her with patristic citations contradicting Rome’s views, silence. So, we once again have the “believe what I say, just please do not ask me to prove my case” methodology of apologetics that is so popular in some quarters these days.
Art is right. It’s hard to name just a single example of where James misrepresents the Catholic Church. It permeates everything he writes. When your vantage point, your premise, is wrong, all your conclusions will be wrong.
Hold those two books in your hand sir, and there you are holding his misrepresentations.
Isn’t it amazing to consider this kind of argument? “We can’t show you the misrepresentations…in fact, if we try, like Sippo did, James will simply post the context and demonstrate that we are completely violating every rule of logic, truth, and fairness. So, just believe us. Don’t ask for details. Just trust us.”
At this point Bill Rutland added the following:
A note to Robert … I know that your comment about Patty being “used” was not meant in malice, but please know that we in the Catholic apologetics community would come down like a ton of bricks on anyone who tried to use Patty in any way. Patty is a beautiful and wonderful person who has suffered much for her love of Jesus and His Church. I would not presume to put words in Patty’s mouth, but I suspect that being James’ sister is more of a burden than a plus at this point in her life.
Mrs. Bonds picked up on this:
One of these days I may sit down and answer all the accusations that have been made since I waded into the Tiber five years ago. One of them that truly frustrates me is that I am being used by the Catholic apologetics community. The fact of the matter is that I’ve never been given a fraction of the opportunities to speak for the faith that my heart has desired. I am NOT being used by anyone. The Catholic apologetics community has been honorable and charitable. In fact, they have been what true Christian brothers should be. Patrick has given me a medium through which I can speak my mind and heart. That has been a tremendous blessing. He and everyone else has been supportive and protective, as Bill’s comments are a perfect example.
I made the comments I made because I have a unique vantage point on my brother’s writings. Few people can say that they have been in both his position and the Catholic position. I can recognize the almost subliminal influence of his bias in every word. So when I hear of someone readings his writings, I feel compelled to provide some background understanding. That was my only motivation and I was motivated purely by my own passion for the Catholic faith an by absolutely nothing else. Nothing and no one.
Just a few things. Of course Mrs. Bonds has been used by the RC apologetics community. Mrs. Bonds is not an apologist. So why would she be on Catholic Answers Live? There is only one logical and rational answer that no one with a modicum of honesty or fairness can deny: she was on Catholic Answers Live because she is my sister, and for no other reason. There is only one person I know of in that community that has not “used” her in that way, and for that I am thankful. But the rest have been more than glad to see the less discerning simply throwing her name about as if her conversion is somehow relevant to this ministry.
Secondly, I’m sorry, but Mrs. Bonds has a significantly less meaningful and relevant “vantage point” concerning my writings than any number of folks I know would have. Any member of PRBC would have far more standing regarding my writings than she would. Any person who has actually read more than two of my books would have more standing than she does. Mrs. Bonds never attended my church; by her own admission the only sermon she ever heard from me was at her own church in 1994. Likewise by her own admission she never listened to any of my debates until after she had made the decision to cross the Tiber. Why would she have any “unique vantage point” at all, given that we had had very little contact in the years prior to her conversion, she was never a part of my ministry, did not view my debates, did not support the ministry, and did not read but a couple of my books? One is truly left to wonder. All we have is the word of an estranged convert who refuses to engage the theological and historical issues speaking, without providing the slightest foundation, of the “almost subliminal influence of his bias in every word.” How on earth do I manage to insert subliminal biases into my written work? We are not told, of course, since this is nothing more than “poisoning the well” without providing any substantive interaction.
Finally, I am seeking to see if there is any way to get Mr. Prejean onto the DL to explain why I am a “joke” and why it is he seems to think that you cannot read the documents of Vatican II and other such official pronouncements of the Roman Catholic Church and accurately understand them without some kind of scholarly training beyond my grasp. His is truly an amazing position to take. I better never see him criticizing Protestantism, as he is surely in no position, given his own claims, to do so. We will see what develops there.
And so, once again, the last three blog entries have proven what? That there is a reason why bad, inconsistent arguments for a false religious system trap the minds of many. From medical doctors to housewives, the human mind is capable of embracing all sorts of error simply because it wants to. Fairness, truth, accuracy—all are expendable when it comes to maintaining your traditions.