I wanted to follow up on James Swan’s observations regarding the state of popular Roman Catholic apologetics. I was reminded of an incident from 1999 as I read the thread on the Catholic Answers web boards. I debated Hamza Abdul Malik that year after having debated Robert Sungenis. As the crowd came into the building, I noticed some ladies sitting down front who had been at the previous debate. I believe it was Chris Arnzen who spoke to them. He told me that they had indicated that they are Roman Catholics, “but we just love James White and enjoy hearing him defend the faith against those who deny the Trinity” or something along those lines. It struck me then how difficult it must be for most conservative, believing Roman Catholics in these days. They know, in their heart of hearts, that the majority of the Magisterium is significantly less conservative than they are—a Magisterium they must believe to be God-guided and, in matter of faith and morals, infallible. Yet they know many of their priests, bishops, and Cardinals are at the very least inclusivists, and more probably universalists. Most pay at the very best a lip-service to inerrancy, limiting it to a merely accurate communication of the basics of the faith, nothing more.
The result is not surprising: when you have open, aggressive attacks upon the faith by the new Atheists, or by Bart Ehrman, the Jesus Seminar, etc., who provides the clearest, most compelling responses? Rome’s scholars? We all know better, and the conservative Roman Catholic knows it, too. It plainly bothers the consistent Roman Catholic that he or she knows that the strongest replies come from allegedly “defective” churches or even “non-churches,” vaguely identified as containing “separated brethren.” Why wouldn’t the Infallible Church be the first ones on the battle-line, drawing from this allegedly “living tradition” to provide cutting-edge defenses of the inspiration and trustworthiness of the Bible? In reality, only a small portion of Rome’s educational system contains men or women who would not break out laughing if asked if they believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Just go visit Boston College sometime and survey the range of viewpoints expressed by Roman Catholic scholarship.
I know there are very sincere folks manning the fort over on the far side of the Tiber. I noted Ben Douglass’ article on bad arguments that are heard with the drumbeat of regularity coming from Steve Ray, Tim Staples, John Martignoni, Patrick Madrid, Art Sippo and the rest of the pop Roman Catholic crowd. I appreciate that a small minority of those defenders actually listen to what we are saying and can set aside enough of their bias to actually hear a sound argument when it is presented. But those folks are in an even smaller minority in the Roman camp. I noted Art Sippo’s always predictable response to the Douglass et al article:
You know, I wish that alleged “Catholics” would stop doing the work of the enemies of the Church and telling us what we should not do. I find the list puerile and frankly ludicrous.
White likes the list because it absolves him of having to deal with some arguments that he doesn’t like.
Protestantism is false religion. Every bit of it. None of it is valid. Even the parts where they try to emulate Historic Christianity are done so tritely and with poor results. What is the use of declaring that Jesus was really God and really man when you refuse to believe it when he said “This is my body…This is my blood?”
I have no need of any such list and I advise the person who put it up to take it down and mind his own business.
Ah, you gotta love Sippo! Consistent as the morning star with his flaming rhetoric. I note in passing that he also recently explained Irenaeus’ odd interpretation of Jesus being in his six decade (part of his recapitulation concept) by saying that “30” was like “50” back then due to life expectancy. There you go! I guess “50” is the new “30” has meaning—in the fascinating world of Art Sippo.