Upon further reflection, I was remiss in offering a critique of Tim's treatment of Catholics. My own behavior was more contentious than it ought to have been, and I therefore created an atmosphere that not only allowed but invited such a response. It was unfair of me to cry "foul!" for someone else's behavior. The right response would have been to ameliorate the situation by removing it from the field of contention and attempting to reason from a common perspective. Instead, I participated in an argumentative exchange that detracted from the substance of the discussion and, more importantly, from my own witness to the Catholic faith. Moreover, the charge of unfair tactics was itself unfair once I had stepped into the arena. I lost sight of my priorities, I behaved badly in exacerbating a bad situation, and I am sorry for it. If peacemaking is blessed, I certainly have some penance to do.
I ask your forgiveness, although I make no pretense of deserving it.
I had not seen your apology--been busy the last few days trying to get my blog difficulties on the new server ironed out. Thank you for your apology. I accept it, and ask you to forgive me as well for my lack of perspective as the discussion deteriorated. I've tried very hard over the last few months, especially on my blog, to move out of "the old ways" of doing things, but obviously I haven't entirely transcended that yet. When my blog is fully up and running again, I'm going to rescind my "no comments" policy and allow people to freely post as they will. As I was discussing with my friend last night, there are too many important conversations that need to be had, and I don't want to squelch those just because there are dangers of people, myself included, getting a bit out of hand.
This is charitable of you, and shows what a decent guy you are. I respect your humility and transparency very much, and admire you even more than I did before (which was quite a bit).
On the other hand, I don't think your point in all this larger controversy is invalid at all. It certainly IS valid, whether or not you feel you have been responsible for fueling the fires of contentiousness.
And (unfortunately) I predict that Tim will almost certainly exploit this apology in the future for his own ends. He'll say "see what a decent guy JPrejean was; in marked contrast to blockhead Diane and ignorant Mathitria and triumphalist Armstrong and stupid Elliot Bougis? He apologized. This shows there was no substance to the charge in the first place. What I've been saying all along was outright admitted by JPrejean. So I've been totally vindicated."
In other words, it'll be the "good / smart / tolerant Catholic vs. bad / deluded / intolerant Catholic" all over again (which Diane has been mentioning recently, apparently following my own analysis of one of Tim's familiar and objectionable tactics). In that sense, I think this is a step back. Personally, you may have every reason to believe you have been contentious and that you transgressed your ethical guidelines for good, constructive discussion (that's a consideration in and of itself, and ultimately between you and God).
But there was always a larger goal in mind here, vis-a-vis Tim. I'm pretty sure that you, like me and the others mentioned, have thought that Tim is squandering his considerable potential by his wild use of rhetoric and insult. I'm sure you had every good motivation in trying to get him to see the error of his ways, and no malicious or slanderous intent. The attempt to get someone to see that they are failing to communicate effectively and charitably, and engaging in a great deal of distortion of another position, is ITSELF a most charitable thing, which desires the good of the other, not ill. Granted, we will all fall short, and such situations are notorious for bringing out our self-will and pride, but the point still remains.
All kinds of people have been rebuking Tim for these glaring faults he continues to exhibit, including many fellow Protestants. This was a chance to press the point home and finally get Tim to wake up and see that he is only damaging himself and his own credibility by continuing on as he has.
Even Edwin Tait (mild in temperament and expression most of the time, as I think most would admit) has chimed in and agreed that the description "liberal" to Tim in the exact sense you meant (methodological), was accurate. He thinks use of the word was tacticaly unwise, but he doesn't deny the truthfulness of what you asserted (and that is the distinction I'm trying to drive home here).
I hope you don't renounce the observation itself (as opposed to how you went about it, using the explosive, potentially-offensive word "liberal", etc.). It is a biblical and ethical thing for the community to put pressure on someone for the sake of their reform. Sometimes that is what it takes, if they won't listen to reason. I've been trying for years now to get someone that Tim openly respects, to persuade him (or rebuke, if needs be) of the error of his ways. Otherwise, he will continue to exploit the division in his mind between the supposed different types of (orthodox) Catholics.
He'll pit you (and other Catholics he likes, such as Greg K and "quickbeam") against me, and Diane, and Mathitria, and Elliot. This is not helpful, and it continues to be a grossly unfair slander against those of us whom Tim regards as his "adversaries" -- no matter how much effort we extend to reconcile with him (I don't think anyone has worked harder in that regard than I have, and I have seen Diane and Mathitria repeatedly try to do so as well, obviously to no avail, when one sees what Tim says about them now).
Nothing demonstrates his irrational, almost hysterical animus in certain areas more than his recent pathetic "dialogue" with Mathitria. That was an absolute disgrace. He owes her an apology far more than you owe anyone one, in my opinion (in the overall scheme of things). It doesn't help Tim to keep making false accusations. The only way we (as concerned Christian brothers, "papalist" though we may be) can feasibly stop it is for someone like you, for whom he has announced some measure of respect, to unite with those of us he openly despises and mocks, in a common front against his unworthy, uncharitable tactics. I have always believed that Tim is better than this (as evidenced by his frequent apologies through the years -- though he never seems able to sustain them in behavior for very long). He shows much evidence that he knows he is wrong in this regard, at least some of the time, yet he keeps doing the same thing over and over.
I hope, therefore, that you are not implying that all the substance of your previous assertions in this regard are null and void. If you think you lacked charity, that's fine. We all do that; it's nothing unusual. But it doesn't mean that the substance was inaccurate or inapplicable at all.
Thanks for "hearing me out."
JP and TE,
Not that either of you need approval from me, but I just wanted to say how happy both of your posts made me. That was quite a nice Christmas present, so to speak, to give to one another.
Blessed are the peacemakers (you probably know the rest).
That thought certainly crossed my mind, particularly that I might be perceived as abandoning my defense of you, Mathitria, or Diane. I am certainly not apologizing for that defense; you are all decent people who have been subject to attacks that I would consider out of the reasonable scope of debate. But I was suddenly struck with the thought of this passage from Scripture:
 Jesus said to him, "Friend, why are you here?" Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
 But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?"
I just had a sense that I was swinging my sword about, rather than working as part of God's plan. This seems to be a case in which pointing out the wrongdoing, rather than trying to combat it in like fashion, is the correct choice. This was Christ's course of action in the same chapter:
 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me.
 But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.
If we spar, then like Peter, we become combatants, which will ultimately only hurt us. But if we simply state the real truth of what someone is doing, it is the most effective weapon. My point is that even if my response was right, it was wrong, because it was not the Christian solution. To put it simply, I should have just said that it was wrong to say hurtful things to you, Diane, Elliot, and Mathitria personally for simply making your position plain. That honesty on y'all's part did not deserve the reaction it got. I just don't want to get caught up in this argumentative behavior, which might lend more credibility to this mode of exchange than it deserves or make us appear to be doing the same.
I hope you understand my position. And FWIW, I would have stood in for Mathitria using a different position, but she has done a remarkable and articulate job of defending herself, better than I would have done, AND she managed to tie my earlier critique into her own personal reasons for being piqued at Tim (which was far more productive than my abstract diatribe). I thought what I was doing was actually distracting from that point and making her protests appear less credible by the sheer volume of attacks. IOW, I thought it was more important for Tim to hear Mathitria's voice than mine, although I certainly feel that she has every right to say what she said.
I think that Tim would know better than to suggest that my apology to him was a suggestion that I was forsaking solidarity with my fellow Catholics. If it happens (and I certainly pray that it does not), then that would be an example of just the kind of below-the-belt shots that should be exposed as such.
Jonathan, I have no problem with Catholics "making their position plain", as you put it. My problems with the way some Catholics act toward me (really, toward all things non-Catholic) lie in different places than "merely" that they are Catholics and are making their positions plain.
In subsequent posts of yours, such as the ones to CParks / John Bugay / jetbrane, I think you have made your position much clearer than I have understood it before, and that is a good thing. I see now, I think, that you agree more with Quickbeam than I thought you did--i.e., you feel that you MUST posit this irreformable "dogma" at the base of everything, but you are willing to admit that the "applications" of the dogma can be reformed. That's VERY different from what I have always taken you to be saying.
Frankly, I still don't like your "dogma" (I think it's a reductionistic and unitarian dogma that has no business being in a Trinitarian religion, and therefore certainly is no legitimate part of "Apostolic Tradition"), BUT I can at least work with a recognition that "applications" of the dogma can and perhaps even must change. So in that light, one thing that now seems clearer about the "bad threads" is that you and I can use the same term "monarchical papacy" but mean entirely different things by it. That is, you appear to be saying that Catholicism CANNOT give up the dogma, while I am saying that Catholicism MUST give up certain harmful applications of the dogma.
Perhaps other Catholics, like Dave, are saying the same thing. If so, then the disputes are less serious than they have seemed to be. If they'd like to explain themselves in this light, to say whether they agree or disagree, I'll surely listen.
Thanks for this clarification. I understand your position, and respect it. We don't disagree at all. I will be watching Tim closely, as I have been doing. I'm in his doghouse again -- as far as I can tell, as a result of agreeing with your Stanley Fish post, and because I refused to remain silent with regard to his personal attacks against Mathitria, Diane, and Elliot.
After working very hard at a lasting reconciliation, now we see Tim mentioning me in a very negative fashion all the time in his posts (as if he's obsessed with always having to put me down, along with Cardinal Newman). It's amazing. I'm through interacting with him, because he literally makes it impossible. So now I am simply chronicling his continued objectionable behavior (http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ144.HTM), which I regard as self-evidently unethical, in how he is treating others (i.e., Catholics) and their positions. It doesn't need any commentary. It speaks for itself.
We can only hope and pray that trusted and esteemed friends of his in his own Reformed circles, are advising him to cease such behavior. I believe this is occurring, though we see no evidence of it working as of yet. I can't imagine any spiritual advisor thinking it is good for him to be ranting and raving the way he always seems to do, cyclically, every few weeks or so, as if he is almost two split personalities.
A year or so ago a couple friends of mine seemed to think that it was something specific in me that brought the worst out of Tim, and that others would not have such a problem. I think that contention can be laid to rest now, after seeing how he has behaved towards you, Mathitria, Diane, and Elliot. I've been maintaining for several years now, that the primary problem lies in how Tim reacts to Catholics, not in what they say or believe. Not that we're perfect, or never provoke or fall short ourselves in our conduct towards him (I've fessed up many times, and I meant it, so have all of us), but the primary cause is his own chosen reaction and viewpoint.
If you want to see whether Tim exploits this situation or not (and I am still pretty confident that he will, though surely I hope not), you can follow my above paper, where I will document any continuing questionable behavior. I keep uploading it as I add new material.
". . . you are willing to admit that the 'applications' of the dogma can be reformed . . . I can at least work with a recognition that 'applications' of the dogma can and perhaps even must change . . .
". . . Perhaps other Catholics, like Dave, are saying the same thing. If so, then the disputes are less serious than they have seemed to be. If they'd like to explain themselves in this light, to say whether they agree or disagree, I'll surely listen."
Of course I agree with quickbeam and Jonathan on this. I have never disagreed. As Tim has pointed out numerous times, he likes this motif in Pope John
Paul II's writings. I'm a passionate ecumenist, and think His Holiness is the greatest man now living, and indeed one of the greatest popes of all time. I agree entirely with his ecumenical thought, including espousal of the conferences at Assisi (currently the subject of hot dispute with Catholic "traditionalists") that I have defended at length.
So, I also agree with his oft-stated opinion that the application of the papacy can be modified (while not changing the dogma of the papacy which Catholics believe is irreformable). My very respect for him as the pope (i.e., what Tim calls "papalism" -- which is simply Catholicism) is altogether consistent with my acceptance of this opinion of his. But (this must be understood) I would agree with it whether he was the pope or not, and I would consider him a great man if he weren't pope. I don't think he is great simply because he is pope (as "traditionalists" have charged that we orthodox Catholics do; accepting everything he says, no matter what -- I don't, because I disagreed with him over the war in Iraq), but because he actually is a great man and thinker who happens to be the pope (to the immense benefit of the Church).
The real problems here lie quite elsewhere; with Tim's ludicrous, downright silly analysis of the papacy somehow being "unitarian" and at odds with trinitarianism, and with his frequently-stated nonsense about papal infallibility being fully able to be rejected or overturned, even by so-called "orthodox" Catholics.
This has led me to state that I think he has a fundamental misunderstanding of even the basic structure and nature of Catholic ecclesiology. Tim has much to learn (about even Catholic basics), and is in no place to be offering his blistering, unbalanced, over-the-top critiques. The first rule in a debate or dialogue is to accurately understand the opponents' position, which one then proceeds to critique. Tim has been habitually distorting (then attacking straw men of) not only Catholic opponents' personal positions, but also official dogmas of the Church. There is no reason for him to not know that I would have fully agreed with his favorite
Catholic (after Brian Tierney), "quickbeam," on this point. But there he is, asking. At least the asking is a good sign. As the Chinese proverb says, a 1000-mile journey starts with the first step.
But lest we forget how Tim treats his Catholic brothers, just a few short days ago, he was saying about me: ". . . Dave Armstrong's own extremely shallow attempts to portray most Protestants as irrational bigots attacking Catholicism for no good reason at all, . . ." This is a damnable lie, and furthermore, I think Tim knows it. He couldn't possibly not know it. My positions on Protestantism and ecumenism are simply too clear, and can be found all over my website. I must have pointed this out to Tim twenty times through the years, but no matter. He keeps repeating the same hogwash, apparently thinking it helps his cause to make out that I am something that I am not, and never have been.
Can any one blame me for becoming disgusted with this inexcusable tactic, after being the target of it time and again? If it were just me, I would ignore it and laugh it off. But because I have some influence in the apologetic world, I have to oppose falsehoods being spouted about me, that may cause people to not read my writing. So there is a time to speak out against calumny, for sufficiently good cause -- not because I am anything, but because the message I promulgate is worth protecting from harm and inattention as a result of baseless, groundless accusation.
I apologize for what I am sure comes off as a "harsh tone," but people need to understand that when people don't hear a whisper, or a gentle correction repeated gently and calmy 20 times, then one concludes and hopes that maybe they will hear a louder protest and plea.
Thanks for your reply Dave. I hope you'll work a bit harder at understanding why I say a certain form of the papacy is "unitarian". I don't think you understand why I say that. Much of it is spelled out in my thesis (in all those parts you didn't touch!), but there are also numerous scattered blog posts dealing with the matter of the "reductionism" of Medieval Realistic theology. You say my view is "ludicrous" but I have yet to see anything from you that discusses in any significant detail such matters as I have now regularly been discussing for nearly two years. The ball's in your court. I can recommend some thought-provoking books (ones that don't require you to know Latin) if you're interested in better understanding where I'm coming from.
You know, I'm feeling particularly generous right now, so in light of what I just mentioned to you, Dave, if you'll send me your address I will for the first time ever buy a Catholic a Christmas present--one or two of those books I was just mentioning. They won't be there by Christmas, obviously, but I'll do that for you in the interests of helping further understanding. My societaschristiana e-mail is down right now, so if you're interested in my offer, send me the info at email@example.com
Give the money to the poor, Tim. I have plenty of books in my own library that I need to make time to read. You need to work on far more basic things, as noted in the above remarks and those of all of your many critics. This is not just about ideas -- whatever they may be, but about ethics and the nature of ecumenism. Neither of those things are advanced by calling others "stupid" or "blockheads" or systematically lying about how they regard other Christians (alleged views which are far closer to your own jaded, cynical opinions of others than to mine), nor by deliberately avoiding answering the hard questions about your own views. First things first. It's far too late in the game to continue trying to deny that anyone has offered any serious interaction with your (even in a Protestant framework) novel theories and ideas. You've gotten plenty, but you also have a clear record of either running or insulting when someone truly scrutinizes your ideas (as witnessed by your increasing your negative rhetoric, shutting down discussion with both myself and Elliot Bougis recently, and closing your comments section, then saying you were through with Catholics, and then renouncing both resolutions, as always).
But thanks for the offer and a merry Christmas to you too.
...people need to understand that when people don't hear a whisper, or a gentle correction repeated gently and calmy 20 times, then one concludes and hopes that maybe they will hear a louder protest and plea.In many cases, it's not a matter of volume, but simply of people talking past one another. For example, the thread which resulted in the apologies of these two to one another actually started as a result of JP saying something that got me thinking about that very thing.
This, IMO, has got to be at least half the problem between Catholics and non-Catholics in discussion (as far as particulars go; I think the principle applies to any two groups that have stubborn disagreements with one another). We can say things as loud as we want, but until we can identify and express things as JP did, then no one's going to hear anyone. Or so I think.
Now, understanding that, not because someone said it loud enough, but because someone was able to express it in a way that didn't fry all my circuits and cause me to despair of understanding how anyone could possibly be Catholic, I can better explain myself to Catholics when the topic comes up again and, hopefully, not frustrate them in the way I've been frustrated in the past. Maybe I can return the favor and try my best to explain my position in terms they understand, as opposed to only terms which make perfect sense to me.
I'll give you an example from the Orthodox side. Too frequently, we express things solely in terms of what we don't do or what we aren't. We don't think of sacraments and ecclesiology in terms of validity, etc. We don't do scholasticism. We aren't this, we aren't that. All of which may or may not be true, to a greater degree or lesser degree. But I'm beginning to understand that it must be simply maddening for a Catholic to try to have a discussion on those terms. The goal is noble; the Orthodox is trying to get the Catholic to understand something and get him to attempt think in his terms a bit, but he's not giving the Catholic anything - he's only giving him negation. He's got to make an effort to speak to the Catholic (or anyone else, for that matter) in terms he can understand, not in terms he can't understand. Otherwise, his thought gets written off as a vague mysticism. And before he can do that, he has to at least empathize with the Catholic. He has to at least be able to say, "OK, I don't agree with it, but I see how he's getting from A to B and I can see how a sincere Christian who is seeking only God's Truth could think that."
We are Thomists and not-Thomists, Augustinians and not-Augustinians. We are Calvinists and not-Calvinists, Palamites and not-Palamites. And sometimes we are combinations of some or all of the above. This, I think, is what makes conversation most difficult. It's not so much about doctrinal points that are in conflict, though it is certainly that, but about different mindsets that are, as we often say, "talking past each other." And it's the ceasing talking past each other that's not about volume.
So, from my perspective, it's not, "you are a good Catholic, but you are a bad Catholic." It's "OK, you make sense to me, but you, I have no idea where you're coming from."
Sorry for the long post.
And Merry Christmas to you to, DA....
This is honestly the first time I've seen the "light go on" for Tim (and for that matters, cparks and a couple of others) in terms of understanding what we have been saying about the new models of authority and the clergy's responsibility to the laity, as introduced by Vatican II and the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law. Maybe seeing these as sincere attempts to address the Church's admitted failures, rather than simply meaningless lip service or dismissal of the opponents' concerns, can inform future dialogues. Perhaps people will say "that's still not good enough," but at least then people will understand that it is not a matter of simply dismissing relevant concerns.
I think that your statement that Catholics are doing more than "making their position plain" is simply wrong. It's simply fact that sometimes, people will simply not see how one gets from point A to point B, despite fully respecting the other person's intellectual capacity. I'm friends with a lot of smart Democrats, but for the life of me, I can't understand how they get to where they get. They don't take it as a slight on them, and I don't take it as being oblivious or stubborn that they hold the view despite being unable to explain it to me. It's only when you get to the point of making those kinds of accusations that you've crossed the line into disrespect (and you have, several times).
The difficulty is that you are arguing from a number of unshared and debatable propositions, particularly with regards to what is and isn't Trinitarian, what the implications of such a classification are (including whether concepts originating outside of Christianity can be rehabilitated by the Christian worldview), whether they represent a negation of a true Christian principle, and what the implications of holding such a belief are. When there is that much territory "up for grabs" as it were, it is far outside the scope of civil behavior to speak of stubbornness, obliviousness, irrationality, or stupidity on the other side, because there is absolutely no way that you could possibly construct an infallible and universally persuasive argument for one side or another. At the very least, the decent thing to do when someone says "I don't see how X is true" is to at least take them at their word and assume that it is a problem in the way that you presented your argument. Berating people for not being convinced is just not right. Also, recognize that whether someone consider an argument "answered" or "requiring an answer" suffers from the same difficulties, so realize that others may consider answered what you consider unanswered and vice versa. I guess my big point is that the fact that someone isn't convinced by your argument, or even considers it implausible, is not really a personal slight on anybody, but you seem to be treating it like one.
and cparks and I *really* need to stop having the same thoughts at the same time. This is beginning to creep me out! :D
Oh, I totally agree with everything you said. I just don't think that is all there is involved in this situation. Having been misrepresented repeatedly by Tim, beyond all excuse, I can attest to that just from personal experience.
It is not simply a matter of complexity and different worldviews and interpretive frameworks for Tim to say that I "portray most Protestants as irrational bigots attacking Catholicism for no good reason at all." This is an outright lie, and easily shown to be so. I need only cite scores of letters from non-Catholics who have complimented me on my charity and respect for their positions. It's a matter of record. I've writtten papers all about this, entitled "My respect for Protestants," etc. (which is also a chapter in one of my books, as a matter of fact).
Jonathan himself just wrote a very kind review of my latest book, The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants (obviously a work which is critiquing Protestants), where his main, almost sole point was to show how charitable I was to Protestants throughout the book. That's either true or it isn't. I think he was too kind, personally (to the point where it embarrassed me), but I don't think I was uncharitable in the book. If many Protestants agree, and many fellow Catholics think of me in that way, too, then that is about all a person can or needs to do to "prove" that there is some truth to it, or at least that it is a lie to be characterized in the exact opposite fashion, as uncharitable to others in the extreme. All we can do in such matters is rely on the reports of others, right?
Nor is it rocket science for someone to know that papal infallibility is an infallible dogma in Catholicism, and therefore, not open to being rejected or reversed. Anyone who knows the slightest thing about how Catholic authority and ecclesiology works, knows that. Tim is a sharp guy, so how is it that he seems to not know this (and of course, we have explained it to him times without number)? Did you know this about Catholics, CP? Do you think it is really difficult to attain this knowledge?
But Tim thinks that a Catholic is fully free to reject papal infallibility and remain a good Catholic. That's every bit as silly as saying that a good Calvinist can reject all five points of TULIP and remain a good Calvinist, fully orthodox within his own tradition.
Now, of course, there are people who try to do these things. They are (dare I utter the dreaded word??!!!), the liberals or dissidents or self-described "progressives" in any given denomination, who try to pretend that they can reject non-negotiable items of orthodoxy (as defined and believed in faith by the group they are in) and remain orthodox (again, within that particular framework).
So there is that ugly word "liberal" again. Tim is so upset that Jonathan dared to compare him to liberals in his methods, but the comparison in this respect (and others) is plain to see. Hence, when Tim goes out seeking support for his negative view of papal infallibility, is it any surprise at all that the persons (Catholics) he goes to are Brian Tierney (who flat-out mocks and belittles the doctrine even in scholarly works) and Hans Kung (a notorious liberal who has been denied the right to even refer to himself as a Catholic theologian anymore).
How would you feel, CP, if, in the effort to critique and examine Orthodoxy, I went to every liberal Orthodox I could find, and held them up as examples of those who are the "true" Orthodox and the "good guys," while the ones who truly hold to the Tradition, like yourself, were subject to constant epithets, misrepresentation, and ridicule as "ignorant" (Tim's description of Mathitria), "blockheads" (Tim on Diane), etc.?
Those are some reasons (among others I could offer) why I don't think that your observations (while true and very helpful and sage advice indeed, in a general sense) will not suffice to explain all that has gone on here.
Furthermore, as I recall, you and I had what I thought was an excellent discussion going, concerning development of doctrine. But you quickly got to a point where we had some disagreements (on premises or something), and you shut it down. Here I thought it was a golden opportunity to understand each other better. At least that is how I felt, and I was excited about the possibility of a great and fruitful exchange. But that can hardly happen if one party says, "no, I no longer want to talk about it at all. Sorry," can it?
Tim has been doing exactly the same thing. He claims to want to talk to others who want to interact with and criticize his views. Yet when we try that (no less than five of us in recent weeks), he insults us all, to a person, gets mad, rants and raves, shuts down his blog to all comments, and claims he will no longer talk to Catholics online. Now you tell me, CP, what the reasonable, plausible interpretation of that kind of behavior is? I say it is because he is truly not interested in dialogue. He wants to preach and lecture, and have everyone bow in awe at his encyclopedic knowledge of every obscure Catholic canonist from 500 to 1500 A.D. But he is not interested in dialogue -- at least not with anyone who might provide a significant challenge to him. That much is clear.
Now, I hope you will talk to me and interact, if you are (as you sure seem to be) interested in breaking down some walls and getting to the bottom of the fact that Tim constantly finds himself in controversies, with people objecting to how he portrays their views, and his ridiculous, never-ending personal insults. Or do you deny that he does this, and quite often at that?
Wishing you and yours a most blessed Advent and merry Christmas,
Jonathan, I agree that as general rule it's not helpful to speak of "ignorance" or "stubborness" merely because somebody disagrees. But I still don't feel that generically that's what I'm doing. There's no point in rehashing this endlessly, but when it comes to a very seriously presented, very well-documented argument about some historical matters that we have in COMMON as Western Christians, and the other side says something like "Marsilius of Padua isn't part of the Magisterium", and makes this sort of "response" part of a larger tactic of prooftexting and denunciation of character, motives, and desire to know the truth, I don't know what you can expect from me other than (1) silence and going my own way, or (2) some kind of strong response to a ridiculous mode of "reasoning". I have dozens or scores of examples like this in my archives. It's ridiculous on its face, regardless of the sharply diverging viewpoints that are involved. We could actually discuss those sharply diverging viewpoints if the types of issues I raise could actually be responded to with MEANINGFUL responses, not mere "I'm Catholic so you go jump in a lake" diatribes. The latter is what I get most frequently from Catholics online, and for going on five years now.
Oh, I totally agree with everything you said.I'm glad. ;-)
I just don't think that is all there is involved in this situation.I didn't say it was. But it certainly does explain a lot.
Having been misrepresented repeatedly by Tim, beyond all excuse, I can attest to that just from personal experience.Frankly, I haven't kept track of your disputes with Tim. As a result, I can't speak to them. Well, I could, but that would be foolish of me. What I can say is how it generally appears to me: the two of you don't seem to trust each other. And I don't think that has anything to do with dogmatic disagreements and philosophical outlooks. Which is to say, you're right: it's not all about understanding. It's about trust, too.
It is not simply a matter of complexity and different worldviews and interpretive frameworks for Tim to say that I "portray most Protestants as irrational bigots attacking Catholicism for no good reason at all." This is an outright lie, and easily shown to be so. This is why I posted the link. You may both be right. To recognize that is, I think, the key to getting over many of these humps.
Nor is it rocket science for someone to know that papal infallibility is an infallible dogma in Catholicism, and therefore, not open to being rejected or reversed....Did you know this about Catholics, CP? Do you think it is really difficult to attain this knowledge?Yes, I did, and no I don't. But that's not the point. I only ask that you check out the link to understand where I'm coming from on this. JP's distinction between formal and informal change is the key, I think, for the non-Catholic in understanding how the Catholic can say, simultaneously, "we're not changing," and "we're open to change." It causes many non-Catholics to simply scratch their heads and until the Catholic understands that, he won't get anywhere with many non-Catholics. And until the non-Catholic understands that, his circuits are going to fry everytime the topic comes up.
How would you feel, CP, if, in the effort to critique and examine Orthodoxy, I went to every liberal Orthodox I could find, and held them up as examples of those who are the "true" Orthodox and the "good guys," while the ones who truly hold to the Tradition, like yourself, were subject to constant epithets, misrepresentation, and ridicule as "ignorant" (Tim's description of Mathitria), "blockheads" (Tim on Diane), etc.?I know precisely how it feels. It happens all the time and the point of my post is to try to get out of that vicious circle.
Those are some reasons (among others I could offer) why I don't think that your observations (while true and very helpful and sage advice indeed, in a general sense) will not suffice to explain all that has gone on here.If you reread my post, I don't think you'll find me declaring that it does. I think you'll find me using words like "most," "many," etc. If I didn't stress that enough, then I apologize for not being as clear as necessary.
Furthermore, as I recall, you and I had what I thought was an excellent discussion going, concerning development of doctrine. But you quickly got to a point where we had some disagreements (on premises or something), and you shut it down. Here I thought it was a golden opportunity to understand each other better. At least that is how I felt, and I was excited about the possibility of a great and fruitful exchange. But that can hardly happen if one party says, "no, I no longer want to talk about it at all. Sorry," can it?That's a good example. I cut off the discussion because I felt precisely what I'm expressing here, yet didn't yet have the words to express it. And I don't think I've discussed the idea of development with anyone at all since that time (I could be wrong, but I've certainly tried to avoid it). And I won't discuss it again until I feel I can understand it better, in terms of *empathizing* with the person who holds the position. Currently, I don't, so I'm going to keep my mouth shut about it until I feel I have something positive to contribute to the discussion.
Now you tell me, CP, what the reasonable, plausible interpretation of that kind of behavior is? I say it is because he is truly not interested in dialogue. He wants to preach and lecture, and have everyone bow in awe at his encyclopedic knowledge of every obscure Catholic canonist from 500 to 1500 A.D. But he is not interested in dialogue -- at least not with anyone who might provide a significant challenge to him. That much is clear.I'm not interesting in ascrbing motives, be it to Tim or to you or to anyone else. My obligation, I feel, is to think the best of everyone I interact with and if I can't, then I should avoid either the person, the topic, or both, until I can interact with them without feeling like my buttons are being pushed. The approach of others may differ; I'm simply expressing mine.
Now, I hope you will talk to me and interact, if you are (as you sure seem to be) interested in breaking down some walls and getting to the bottom of the fact that Tim constantly finds himself in controversies, with people objecting to how he portrays their views, and his ridiculous, never-ending personal insults. Or do you deny that he does this, and quite often at that?When Noah got drunk, one of his sons behaved in one manner, and the other two behaved in another manner. I am attempting, to the best of my ability and without judging the behavior of others, to behave like the other two. (Not that anyone here is a drunk Noah, mind you--LOL, I'm just trying to express how I'm trying to live; sometimes I succeed, more often, I fail)
Again, my previous post is not an attempt to analyze your particular relationship with Tim. It was simply to highlight, with JP, that there's a subtlety here than many of us have missed, and keeping it in mind is one way to keep productive discussion on track. This particular post is meant only to point out how far the previous one was intended to go; since you stated that you agreed with it, I'm hopeful that we can interact with one another in the future with positive results.
PS--I deleted three posts due to difficulties with blogger. I was able to recover the original post and repost it.
Tim, you're acting exactly like James White and Eric Svendsen: utterly ignore the opponents' concerns and arguments, and go right on stating your perspective (which is the very thing under dispute) over and over, as if the rudeness of ignoring the other and repetition will impress your would-be target(s) of persuasion.
If you want any interaction with me, which is fast becoming exceedingly likely EVER, as my patience has about run its limit (and soon, I think, possibly any thinking orthodox Catholic, the way things are going), you better start listening and learning as well as preaching and pontificating, or believe me, you will be in for a lot more frustration than you feel now, assuming you maintain your goal of reaching "papalists" with this "conciliarism" you are dying to share with everyone.
What more can you do if that happens? You once took your blog down indefinitely (for a week). Then you stopped talking to Catholics (ah, what a relief!), for two weeks. Then you shut down comments on your blog for good, er, 2-3 weeks. You've sworn to stop talking to me about five times. You've "reconciled" with me five or more times, too, only to sabotage the whole process by self-destructive behavior within a few weeks at the most (as you are currently doing, despite our rather remarkable would-be recent reconciliation). One can only marvel and shake their head at this.
What's next? Doing an "Elvis" and shooting your computer so as to rid yourself of the endless annoyance of opposing argument and "stupid" people who just don't get it? How you manage to live with this incredible amount of frustration that you burden us all with, has always been a mystery to me. Why do you put yourself through it? If we're so maddening and exasperating to you, then by all means remove yourself to the Moscow library or something, and leave us in peace. Don't create stumbling blocks for yourself. And I'm dead serious; not being facetious.
Oh, by the way, Tim, you wrote:
". . . the other side says something like 'Marsilius of Padua isn't part of the Magisterium', and makes this sort of 'response' part of a larger tactic of prooftexting and denunciation of character, motives, and desire to know the truth, . . . "
Well, yes, as a matter of fact, Marsilius (aka as Marsiglio) -- c.1275-1342 -- wasn't a member of the magisterium, which consists of the pope and bishops assembled in council. He wasn't even a bishop. Or does this come as a big surprise and revelation to you? Why, then, do you mock someone who merely states a bald, indisputable fact? We're not bound to what this man says any more than we are to the ramblings of a baboon in a zoo. He carries no authority.
He may say some very wise and good things, like anyone else, but no Catholic is bound to them. Catholicism does not consist of a "priesthood of scholars and wise men," as Protestantism often does. We're not you, so don't try to force us into your system. It's silly, counterproductive, insulting, and only shows that your premises are 180 degrees out of whack.
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (non-Catholic) describes Marsilius:
"Acc. to Marsiglio, the state is the great unifying power of society to which the Church must be completely subordinated . . . The Church . . . has no inherent jurisdiction whether spiritual or temporal. All her rights in this regard are given her by the state, which may withdraw them at will . . . her hierarchy is not of Divine but purely human institution; St. Peter was never given the primacy . . . These ideas . . . ran counter to the whole medieval conception of society . . . " (p. 878)
Marvelous, Tim. The Church is in complete submission to the state; in other words, extreme caesaropapism which has often wreaked havoc in Orthodoxy and in Lutheranism. Luther and Melanchthon before they died (especially the latter) recognized the near complete futility of such a state of affairs, and even wished aloud for the "good ole days" of the bishops, rather than greedy, nominal secular rulers. Great solution to problems of Church and society . . .
Hierarchy is a mere human invention, having no ground in Church history or the Bible. This goes beyond not only Orthodox ecclesiology, but even Anglican, for heaven's sake. But let us be awestruck by Marsilius' profound wisdom!
Peter and the pope have no primacy. This goes beyond the Orthodox position, too, and even your own position and that of many Protestants who recognize the value of a central authority figure in Christianity. But that is of no concern to you. This guy advocated conciliarism, which is your great "Messiah" at the moment, so we will overlook all these other trifling details. And we Catholics are boors and simpletons for not fully understanding a dissident like this, who is far out of the mainstream of Catholic medieval and ecclesiological thought, as even ODOTCC recognizes. So would Kung and Spong argue, too, no doubt (not to mention Tierney).
This is classic Enlovian rhetoric; sounds impressive, but is so filled with difficulties upon only a slight scrutiny that it creates more problems in your position than it resolves. But you can always drop 50 more names, to impress readers who haven't studied all that you have, and give a false appearance of command of your position and some semblance of coherence and plausibility. Those of us who have studied your position and offered critiques to it know better.
I find it fascinating that Tim is now pressing me yet again to interact with his Big Thesis, seeing that less than a year ago he was saying stuff like the following about me on his blog:
Get a life, Dave. I told you my work isn't primarily a work of apologetics, and that's why I'm not interested in interacting with a "refutation" of it written by an apologist . . . I really couldn't care less about what "apologists" are doing to "refute" me, especially when "refuting" people is how they actually make their living. No, no pressure to perform, there, I'm sure.
. . . I don't give a rip what you have to say about my thesis--you're so blinded by your ignorant zealotry for Rome that you could write last week or the week before that I was just citing "some guys" and working with a "priesthood of scholars". Take your asinine attitude and shove it, sir. The Church doesn't need sectarian garbage like yours masquerading as "apologetics". As far as I'm concerned, your activities as an apologist are designed only to maintain the status quo, not help understand and get beyond long-standing problems . . .
. . . Oh, but here comes Romanist propagandist Armstrong to say . . . "you should all come home to Rome now" . . . If that's the STUPID line you want to take, then explain why your glorious Papalist Theocracy, based upon "Petrine primacy" and developed (virtually Newman-style!!!) within the context of a real, full-orbed Christian society, couldn't create and maintain unity from 1378-1414, why it took a COUNCIL to fix the problems caused by the inanities of the various Papalist parties, and why, scarcely 100 years after that the Papalist system wrecked the entire Western Church. Oh, I know how it goes. People should have just listened to "the Church" during that period. "The Church" is all wise, the "Apostolic Succession" solves all problems, the glorious thrill of allegedly "giving up" one's judgment so as to embrace "implicit faith" saves you from having to be "Super Pope" just like that deluded, immoral fool Luther.
Yes, Dave, go get a life. If you want to hack and slash my thesis up once it's available again, be my guest. Somebody somewhere will say "Rah, rah, Dave! Go, Dave go!" so you need not worry about accolades. Just stop bothering me. I'm too busy translating original sources and juggling complicated historical progressions of culture and faith and finitude under God to mess with your foolish "all or nothing" apologetic chattering.
(Blog feedback: 1-17-04 @ 00:22)
Wonderfully irenic and ecumenical, huh? And people wonder why Tim and I have not had harmonious relations. Despite being subjected to this kind of rank insult (that Tim has been spreading around quite liberally as of late, to others, too -- no pun intended), I have repeatedly tried very hard to reconcile with Tim, even two months ago. Glory to God, I thought we had actually made a breakthrough, but lo and behold, Tim decided to stop interacting with me "openly" (as he recently revealed) and the whole thing collasped, with Tim doing his usual mentioning me quite negatively in almost every polemical post, saying more ridiculous things about my positions.
It's fine for those of you who say you haven't followed Tim's rantings to sit comfortably on the sidelines and assume an "immoral equivalence" on both our parts, as if we are equally to blame for our inability to get along. It's simply not so. And I have done more than any man should be expected to do, according to the strictest Christian ethics, to reconcile with Tim. He will not ALLOW it to last, unless people bow to his opinions. I refused to do so, and that was apparently what caused Tim to back away and resume the usual status quo. If he thought our reconciliation would cause me to stifle my sincere, honestly-held theological opinions, then he was sadly mistaken.
To see a great deal of Tim's unhelpful rhetoric against Catholics, read the second-part of my long critique of his thesis:
Was Conciliarist Ecclesiological Theory an
"Orthodox" Option in Mediæval Catholicism?
Critique of a Central Aspect of Tim Enloe's Thesis for New St. Andrews College: "In Search of the Societas Christiana"
Part I: (http://web.archive.org/web/20040118065629/ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ405.HTM)
Part II: (http://web.archive.org/web/20040118125547/http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ455.HTM)
This ought to get anyone unfamiliar with Tim's usual mode of discourse up to speed QUICK.
It's fine for those of you who say you haven't followed Tim's rantings to sit comfortably on the sidelines and assume an "immoral equivalence" on both our parts, as if we are equally to blame for our inability to get along.Well, I did say that it would be foolish of me to speak to your disputes with Tim, but I guess even what I said was either too much or not well expressed. I apologize and won't comment on the topic again.
Have a Merry Christmas, Dave. :)
Merry Christmas and farewell, Tim; this time for GOOD, barring some miraculous, life-changing transformation (not necessarily conversion) which would cause you to actually cease your bad conversational habits and severe judgments upon others' intelligence and motivations. I'll probably still chronicle you a bit, but I won't interact directly anymore. What's the point? You clearly have no intention of replying to anything I write.
And Happy New Year too. I'm sure you'll be downright giddy dealing with all of us ignorant Catholics for another delightful year . . .
cp: I'm familiar with what you have thought of me and my apologetics in the past (I even found by accident on Google one night one very interesting quote of you talking quite derisively about me and my supposed legion of "followers"). Perhaps you have had a change of heart, and have seen that you have not always been fair or charitable with me in the past, either (especially when tag-teamed with "Nevski"). And I'm sure I have fallen short, too (who hasn't?).
That being the case, it was not altogether unreasonable for me to read in-between the lines a bit. If I was wrong, you have my sincere apology (just deny that there was no truth whatever in what I said; that you don't think Tim and I are equally at fault in this fiasco). In any event, if you are interested in discussion with me sometime, we'll see how it goes. I have no objection to that, on my part. I didn't before, even though you and Nevski had taken your shots just prior to our attempt. It was you who ended it. Granted, there are good reasons to end discussions with some people (I can think of 20 of them in Tim's case). I just disagree that that was one such instance. I thought it was a loss and unfortunate. I always enjoy dialoguing with thoughtful, intelligent people, and you certainly are that, as evidenced by your thoughts above.
May God bless you.
Dave, I had forgotten (not to my credit) that I'd ever made any such statements about you. I can run my mouth with the best of them, and have; it is not to my credit. I have no wish to be a hypocrite here, so I will simply say, with no qualifications, that wherever I've offended you in any way, at any time, I sincerely apologize and ask your forgiveness.
It's precisely because I feel very strongly like saying something about all of that that I'm NOT going to say anything about it. As I said Dave, have a Merry Christmas. I hope you do keep "chronicling" my activities. Your readers will no doubt often be greatly helped by being informed of "not your standard fare" Protestant postings on important matters of Church history. I know for a fact I've reached some of them because of your "advertisements" of me, so by all means do keep advertising! :)
For the record, what I was thinking of sending you, for purposes of advancing discussion along more positive lines by better outlining where I'm coming from on the development of Trinitarianism in the West and the course of reform in the West, were Colin Gunton's The Triune Creator and Steven Ozment's The Age of Reform, 1250-1550.
Well, obviously this didn't turn out to be a kiss-and-make-up session, but everybody at least managed to agree on one thing, and that is well-wishing for Christmas. It seems like a small thing sometimes, but it brings us back to the real God-man around whom all our hopes and dreams center. So I join the sentiments above and wish all of the commenters and any readers a blessed Feast of the Nativity and my sincere prayers that it will lead to a new life of Christ in all of us. Merry Christmas!
Interesting stuff… I would just like to add my 2 cents that this “Dave” guy seems not only extremely “Dave-centric”, but also seems like a big baby. The first thing you have got to do is get over the whole “personally offended” part of stuff. That was part of the mistake that Jonathan made with the post that he was apologizing about, at least in my opinion is that he got all up into this Tim guys personal flaws (which no doubt are many), and argued more against his arguing techniques than the substance. All of you guys need to make yourselves lesser, and Christ greater. Truly humble people don’t make so much about themselves, and their own personal offenses, but it is blind, self centered people that do. A lot of good great knowledge in theology will do you there! As I see, it perhaps only hinders that!
I don’t think I necessarily agree with any side here, perhaps except Jonathan who simply posted a message of humility, repentance, and the only self focus was a critical self examination, and appeal to the mercy of the Lord for forgiveness. Who could be wrong, or at fault there? You kids need to play nicely now!
There's a bit of history here, so I don't think you characterizations are entirely fair, but I appreciate your interest.
I couldn't get on the Internet for two days; hence my late response. Thanks for the apology; I forgive you, and no problem. Please accept the same kind of apology from me as well.
I overreacted to your comments due to a lot going on in "real life" at the moment (including having a very bad cold and having to work -- literally -- every day anyway [my second part-time job] and going through the holidays with that). I grew tired of some of the same unjust criticisms that I have received, as explained above. Under stress and when sick, frustration and impatience increases, and it is easy to generalize unfairly to others. You just happened to be there.
I'm so happy that you are showing the true spirit of Jesus in saying what you have been saying here, and I'm delighted that an "opening" seems to be taking place with you and Jonathan. Such "connections" seem all too rare on the Internet, so I am happy for both of you, and hope that we see a lot of good things come from it. Praise God!
Wishing you and yours a most blessed Advent and Christmas,
Since I couldn't find your email address, I thought I'd tell you that I've linked to you on my blog, which may be found at www.secret-agent.blogspot.com. I always tell people when I do that, because I've had one or two instances where people don't want my blog linking to theirs. If, for any reason, you don't want the link to remain, please email me at the address under "make contact" on my blog title banner. I will not be offended at all, merely relieved at being able to avoid offense.
BTW, you wrote some very insightful things which touched, although far more probingly and elegantly, on questions I've had about aspects of Tim's arguments. It is of course for you to decide whether you should apologize, and no one should quarrel with that.
No objection to linking here at all; I thank you for it. I found your article on natural law quite thought-provoking (that's probably unsurprising, since as I understand it, you are also a Catholic lawyer in Dixieland). I'm still pondering exactly what role natural law plays or ought to play in legal structures, whether ecclesial or political. You've provided more grist for the cognitive mill.
Jonathon, can you please post a link to SAM's article on the natural law? I looked on his site but couldn't find it. Thanks so much.
Here ya go!
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