Rather than going into extensive substantive response, which would likely not accomplish much, I will simply cite portions of arguments (in blue) in which assertions were made without rational justification, either by rational fallacy or by being unwarranted. I will state the observed flaw (in red), and if it may not be obvious where the flaw is, a brief explanation justifying it.
Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall win the award for brevity and concise expression, and let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage.
[False and unwarranted.]
I will start there in the next installment simply because Armstrong notes The Roman Catholic Controversy in his book, hence, his section on the verse should "confound" my own exegesis of the text.
He writes, "Catholics believe that there is such a thing as a binding, authoritative Sacred Tradition and that it is explicitly indicated in the Bible (notably in the above passages)." So, we here have Armstrong wedding himself to these passages as "explicitly" presenting Rome's full-blown (capital "S" capital "T") Sacred Tradition. But given the hesitation of many a Roman Catholic scholar, it is quite possible Mr. Armstrong has over-reached himself just a bit. The mere presence of the term "tradition" is hardly sufficient to establish the position enunciated by Armstrong.
[False attribution of an argument based on unwarranted inference. Contrast the author's explicit statement that "the question is not whether but which."]
How a Protestant is "confounded" by these passages is difficult to determine, at least, if meaningful exegesis of the text is the standard. And the first thing to note about Armstrong's work at this point should have a rather familiar ring to it if you have been following the Dave Hunt series: there is no meaningful exegesis offered to substantiate these grand claims by Armstrong. Examine pp. 38-40 for yourself, and you will find no discussion of grammar, lexicography, syntax, or anything else relevant to meaningful exegesis.
[Assumes facts in dispute, namely, how one defines "exegesis."]
Instead, Armstrong depends upon secondary sources, and even then, the conclusions offered by secondary sources. He quotes Thomas More, but then focuses upon John Calvin, evidently seeking, it seems to me, to prejudice the reader through the use of quotations using language that was common in the day but is considered harsh and even non-Christian today. Indeed, one can judge the character of the discussion by noting these telling words: "Be that as it may, it is scarcely possible to discuss that issue constructively , because (in my opinion) Protestants are so afraid that any serious discussion of Tradition will cast doubt on sola Scriptura and lead to undesired 'Catholic' consequences." I'm sorry, but such rhetoric detracts from the work, at least for any serious minded reader.
[Poisoning the well. Contrast the author's explicit statement that "[i]n the theologically supercharged sixteenth century, it was probably impossible for the polemics to have been otherwise."]
Armstrong moves into a dialogue after this that again offers nothing in reference to exegesis of the texts themselves, and in fact has only a marginal connection to the issue of the meaning of "tradition" in the Pauline corpus. How one leaps from para,dosij in Paul to Sacred Tradition as defined by modern Rome is left unanswered.
[False. Answered by appeal to history.]
The fact that this is a present command, that the tradition referred to had already been delivered, in fulness, to the entirety of the church at Thessalonica, is not noted. (This observation would require the RC apologist to trace the content of his alleged oral tradition back to Thessalonica, and, as they well know, that cannot be done for the major elements of that alleged tradition as Rome has defined it).
[False attribution of argument based on unwarranted inference. This appears to be an attempt to reverse the Catholic argument that 2 Tim. 3:16-17 refers to the Old Testament, but that reversal fails because the use of "tradition" here need not be all-encompassing, as White's unwarranted claim asserts.]
The immediate context of the passage and its relevance directly to the gospel (and hence to the content of the "tradition" delivered by Paul) is likewise ignored. In essence, nothing presented in regards to the meaning of 2 Thess. 2:15 in context is addressed by Armstrong.
[Irrelevant. The point being demonstrated isn't the extent of tradition delivered at Thessalonica, but the use of tradition as an authoritative means of transmission.]
Now, if the standard of being "confounded" involves presenting a compelling, exegetically sound, contextually derived interpretation of a passage resulting in a clear vindication of the Roman Catholic reading (though, how Dave Armstrong, a private Catholic, could actually know the "official" Roman understanding of a passage without engaging in "private interpretation" is difficult to say anyway), then we need to re-work the sub-title to "91 Bible Passages that Confound Protestants."
[Unwarranted. The introduction made clear that the goal was to show Catholicism to be "at least as Biblically respectable" as Protestantism. IOW, the claim being confounded is merely that Catholicism is not Biblical.]
WRT this issue, it's entirely a non-response to the substance with some well-poisoning thrown in.
The Protestant Verses: Can Dave Armstrong Exegete This Passage?
[Irrelevant, but the argument itself is unwarranted, as shown below. I'm leaving out the bare assertion of the Protestant view of what "works" means, which is also unwarranted.]
This brings us to a question that must be answered by every person who believes the Bible to be God's Word. Who is the blessed man of Romans 4:8? It seems an obvious question.
[It's not obvious that the passage refers to any one particular individual or even a class of individuals in particular. Hence, this assertion is unwarranted.]
The religions of men cannot answer this question. Man's religions, centered as they are upon man's works and merits and will, must, as a result, lack a perfect Savior who can save in and of himself, without the aid of the creature. Their systems, drawing from the nearly universal synergism of human religiosity, always make room for man's success, or failure, in "doing things," whether they be called sacraments, rituals, works, or good deeds, so that the final outcome of "salvation" is always in doubt. And if these systems contain any kind of belief in a punishment after life, there must be some means of holding man accountable for the sins committed during life. Without a perfect sin-bearer, the issue of unforgiven sin, rightly "imputed" to the one who committed it, must have resolution.
[Assuming this is intended to describe Catholic soteriology, it's false. Christ saves in and of Himself, and the one saved contributes nothing of himself to the process.]
But it is just here that the question we are asking comes into full play. Who is the blessed man to whom the Lord will not impute sin? If a religion claims to follow the Bible and yet has no meaningful answer to this question, its error is immediately manifest.
Overall, an unwarranted attempt to impose an obligation that the author hasn't assumed.
You get the "flavor," I hope. The concept of suffering is tied in with a synergistic, grace-prompted, but still free-will driven, concept of penance/merit/forgiveness.
[False. White evidently doesn't understand what temporal punishment is.]
One other thing to remember before we move to Armstrong's comments. Armstrong is identified as a "Protestant campus missionary" on the back of his book prior to his conversion. I do not know what that involved, but one thing that it probably did not involve was a great deal of study of the Puritans, reading of Edwards, or even of someone like Spurgeon. So when we encounter his views of "suffering" in Protestantism, we need to remember that they are not coming from someone who was, in fact, much more than a layperson, and one who has given very little evidence, in fact, of having done a lot of serious reading in better non-Catholic literature to begin with. In fact, I would imagine Armstrong has done more reading in non-Catholic materials since his conversion than before. In any case, this lack of background will resound loudly in the comments he offers, to which we will turn in part 2.
[False, and poisoning the well.]
Once again, in citing Phil. 3:10 and Rom. 8:17, Armstrong does not consider it necessary to actually handle the verses, establish context, meaning, anything exegetical. They are simply cited, and then the assumption is made that Protestants have no place in their theology for "suffering." And his source for this (if you happen to be widely read in meaningful Protestant writing you are probably wondering, since you have read lots about suffering and its role in conforming us to the image of Christ) is...himself! "He [Paul in Romans 8] is going along, talking like a good 'born again,' sanctified, 'filled with the Holy Ghost" Evengelical Protestant, and then suddenly (unless one ignores this part, as I did in my Protestant days) he becomes a morbid, masochistic, crucific-clutching Catholic and takes away everyone's fun and peaches and cream: '...if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.'" Evidently, Armstrong's audience does not include serious minded Protestants, for such writing immediately informs one that Mr. Armstrong's "Protestant" experience was anything but serious. Armstrong writes, "There is no need to consult commentaries at this point, for our purposes." Well, even if consulting secondary sources without providing primary exegesis would be sufficient, the point is that Armstrong has no concept of the depth of writing from non-Catholic sources on the meaning and purpose of suffering; further, the Roman Catholic use of the term, especially in reference to penance, would require his proving that in the context of writing to the churches at Rome and Philippi Paul intended to communicate, through the term "suffering," the kind of thing Armstrong has in mind as a Roman Catholic, and once again, he does not even try to make this connection. It is simply assumed. Armstrong then says that outside of certain forms of Pentecostalism, "they will not deny that a Christian needs to, and can expect to, suffer." Expect to suffer? Surely. Walk as Christ walked and one will suffer the hatred of the world. But "need to" is a completely different animal, especially in the context of Rome's beliefs regarding the subject, as noted previously.
[The claims against competence are false, and the need is what the author says Protestants deny, making the entire response, which does not deny this, irrelevant.]
I believe fully that God intends to conform me to the image of Christ, and a number of the experiences I will go through in that process will take the form of what can be properly identified as "suffering." But "need to" so as to expiate temporal punishment of sin? Need to so as to perfect my justification before God? Most assuredly not! This is the issue, and Armstrong leaves it untouched. He writes, "Most Evangelicals do not take it that far, yet still minimize the place of suffering, and hence, of the related notion, penance. This represents a scandalous lack of understanding of the deeper, more difficult aspects of Christianity." I think this represents a scandalous lack of understanding of the deeper, more meaningful works of Calvin, Edwards, the entire body of the Puritans, Bunyan, Spurgeon, Warfield and any number of modern writers. The fact is that the Reformed understanding of the sovereignty of God is so far beyond the crass "suffering by grace = penance for temporal punishments, say your Our Fathers and Hail Marys and fast on Fridays and consider obtaining some indulgences just in case" kind of Catholicism that afflicts millions on our planet that it is truly beyond words to express.
Yes, suffering is very clearly present in the text. No one doubts this. But what Mr. Armstrong does not seem to understand is that the mere presence of the word does not, to any serious minded reader, include within it the massive mountain of theological baggage connected to suffering/penance/merit as seen in Indulgentiarum Doctrina and other Roman Catholic magisterial documents and teachings. Presumption is not exegesis, nor does it amount to confounding the Protestant position. Armstrong assumes that the suffering to which Paul refers is identifiable with the sufferings Rome refers to. Why? He does not say. He does not even try to tell us how v. 17 is functioning in the entire citadel of Christian truth known as Romans chapter 8. It is just thrown out there, and we are to believe. Sorry, but I've spent far too much time seeking to honor the text and communicate its meaning to others to buy such an obvious ipse dixit. And Phil. 3:10 is not even touched. It is merely cited as one of the "95" verses, no exegesis offered. Just presumption.
[I think that this is true, but since White asserted that there was a difference between "need" and "expectation," I think the burden would have been on him to show why those meanings should be separated. Still, this mostly included both sides saying mostly unsubstantiated things about the other view without adequately explaining their own. I put that one on the author in this case for not taking the opportunity to explain the Catholic dogma more fully.]
Overall, a legitimate claim that the argument needed more, used as an opportunity to sling mud at the author and Catholic doctrine.
The Luke 1:28 issue has been done to death, and I'm not bothering to mess with it any further. Besides, this was about the point at which Dave decided to pull out of the discussion altogether, so the real question is what had happened up to that point, and I think that White's claims that Dave was running from critiques looks absolutely ridiculous at this point.
But I do want to hit one more point that has frankly become the straw that broke the camel's back. In a blog entry on "satispassio," White quoted Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, saying "The temporal punishments for sins are atoned for in the purifying fire by the so-called suffering of atonement (satispassio), that is, by the willing bearing of the expiatory punishments imposed by God." White then said, "Would Mr. Scott like to show me where Rome has defined satispassio as the application of the grace or merits of Jesus Christ? Or will he instead seek the "easy way out" and offer the lame excuse that, "Well, anything related to salvation is ours by grace, so, even the opportunity to undergo the suffering of atonement in purgatory is, ultimately, due to Christ's grace," an absurdity that would only prove my point to the fullest?"
For the 900th time, atonement for temporal punishment has NOTHING TO DO with salvation. They are completely and entirely different. You are already SAVED immediately upon arriving in Purgatory. How someone who claims to offer competent interaction with Catholic theology can fail to take note of that after having been corrected publicly so many times is beyond me. I personally think that it had reached the point where interaction with White's supposed "critiques" isn't even helpful anymore.
Thanks to Pastor White for the courteous response (http://www.aomin.org/index.php?itemid=132). I don't think I can add much to the original comments regarding his response to Dave's work. People will either be convinced by those statement, or they won't, and I doubt that White's most recent comments will change that. However, there were a couple of items related to White's knowledge of Catholic theology that I wanted to address.
"How Prejean can so utterly misunderstand the most basic elements of exegesis is hard to understand."
I don't utterly misunderstand the most basic elements of exegesis. Catholics just define the exercise a bit differently. This is why Catholics get infuriated when someone speaks of "not doing exegesis" without qualifying that statement to mean "not doing exegesis solely by application of the historical-grammatical method."
"If Prejean wants to change the goal and the claims, that's fine."
Considering that Dave endorsed my reply, I don't think it's a matter of "changing" the goal and the claims. Those were the original goal and claims.
"So, Paul presents as an example an illustration we cannot figure out? The referent [of Rom. 4:8] is quite clear, it just does not fit with Roman Catholic theology."
My entire point was that you would have to prove in advance that the referent is intended to be an actual person or class of individuals and not a proverbial description (viz., the exemplar of the believer as opposed to any individual member of the class of actual believers). I don't think you've provided sufficient literary evidence to support that Paul was not using the passage in this way, particularly since he's quoting a Psalm.
"That is very nice, but let's ask a simple question: can Mr. Prejean be saved if he does not attend Mass or confession for the rest of his life? Yes or no?"
In principle, sure. God can do whatever He wants with regard to individual salvation. That's certainly not the ordinary course, and it would certainly be presumptuous to assume that God was going to make an exception for me, but it could happen. However, that's not really the point. The point is that I literally cannot attend Mass or got to confession unless God's grace causes me to do so.
"I wasn't aware there was a set of rules as to what challenges you can post on your own blog."
There aren't. But when you are going to make claims about someone else's motivations in rejecting them (cowardice, incompetence, or what have you), you have to account for the truth of those claims as well.
"Or, I don't think Mr. Prejean is the Pope. I do not accept him as the standard of Roman theology. I do not even believe he is a trained theologian, is he?"
That's true (and neither is White a trained Catholic theologian). Temporal punishment is bread-and-butter theology that every catechumen ought to know, much less any Catholics who actually spend any time studying the issue. If you're talking about St. Thomas Aquinas and his theory of the beatific vision, then my lack of theological qualifications might come to bear on the matter (although there are plenty of good Catholic theologians that I could read on that point as well). Besides, Jimmy Akin, a professional apologist who certainly has greater familiarity with Catholic theology than either of us, raised the same issue in the following series, and White didn't listen then either. See:
"Would Prejean like it if I focused upon the average, once-a-year Catholic, as representational of all of Roman Catholicism?"
The difference is that there is official Catholic dogma, and there isn't in Protestantism. Thus, a critic of Protestantism can't direct all of his claims against only one target, and one can't blame such a critic for addressing different opponents.
"Temporal punishments must be removed before one enters into the presence of God. Yes or no? If they are not atoned for, will a person ever enter into God's presence? Yes or no?"
Yes and no, respectively.
"I simply believe that anything related to the final accomplishment of the work of redemption is central to the point in dispute, and the remission of temporal punishment of sin by satispassio in purgatory is NOT accomplished by the application of the merits of Christ."
That's simply false. It can be accomplished solely by the merits of Christ, but God condescends to allow us to participate in the ordinary course of things. You are essentially saying that satispassion CANNOT be accomplished by the application of the merits of Christ, which isn't true.
"How difficult is it to understand this simple point?"
Evidently, it must be extremely difficult, because it's been explained several times to White without making any impression.
"I bet Prejean hasn't even read my work, and yet is quick to dismiss it without doing so. Truly amazing indeed."
I've certainly read significant portions of the work in the context of them being reproduced with respect to existing arguments, both by White and by others. I have seen nothing to suggest that those arguments are being repoduced inaccurately. Presumably, if there were a better argument to be made, then White would present it, as he did WRT Romans 4. Regardless, it wouldn't even make sense to read a book by someone claiming to critique Catholicism who hasn't managed to attain a basic grasp of Catholic soteriology even years later.
Excellant rebuttal Jonathan. It seems that Dr. White refuses to accept that Catholic postition of satispatsio and claims that only he has the correct understanding of it. If you may, can you elaborate a little more on satispatsio? --Dave P.
I'll defer to the Catholic Encyclopedia, which provides the best explanation that I've seen, far better than I could write:
"There remains the distinction between merit and satisfaction; for a meritorious work is not identical, either in concept or in fact, with a satisfactory work. In the language of theology, satisfaction means:
atoning by some suitable service for an injury done to another's honour or for any other offence, in somewhat the same fashion as in modern duelling outraged honour is satisfied by recourse to swords or pistols;
paying off the temporal punishment due to sin by salutary penitential works voluntarily undertaken after one's sins have been forgiven.
Sin, as an offence against God, demands satisfaction in the first sense; the temporal punishment due to sin calls for satisfaction in the second sense (see PENANCE).
Christian faith teaches us that the Incarnate Son of God by His death on the cross has in our stead fully satisfied God's anger at our sins, and thereby effected a reconciliation between the world and its Creator. Not, however, as though nothing were now left to be done by man, or as though he were now restored to the state of original innocence, whether he wills it or not; on the contrary, God and Christ demand of him that he make the fruits of the Sacrifice of the Cross his own by personal exertion and co-operation with grace, by justifying faith and the reception of baptism. It is a defined article of the Catholic Faith that man before, in, and after justification derives his whole capability of meriting and satisfying, as well as his actual merits and satisfactions, solely from the infinite treasure of merits which Christ gained for us on the Cross (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, cap. xvi; Sess. XIV, cap. viii).
The second kind of satisfaction, that namely by which temporal punishment is removed, consists in this, that the penitent after his justification gradually cancels the temporal punishments due to his sins, either ex opere operato, by conscientiously performing the penance imposed on him by his confessor, or ex opere operantis, by self-imposed penances (such as prayer, fasting, almsgiving, etc.) and by bearing patiently the sufferings and trials sent by God; if he neglects this, he will have to give full satisfaction (satispassio) in the pains of purgatory (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, can. xiii, in Denzinger, n. 923). Now, if the concept of satisfaction in its twofold meaning be compared with that of merit as developed above, the first general conclusion will be that merit constitutes a debtor who owes a reward, whilst satisfaction supposes a creditor whose demands must be met. In Christ's work of redemption merit and satisfaction materially coincide almost to their full extent, since as a matter of fact the merits of Christ are also works of satisfaction for man. But, since by His Passion and Death He truly merited, not only graces for us, but also external glory for His own Person (His glorious Resurrection and Ascension, His sitting at the right hand of the Father, the glorification of His name of Jesus, etc.), it follows that His personal merit extends further than His satisfaction, as He had no need of satisfying for Himself. The substantial and conceptual distinction between merit and satisfaction holds good when applied to the justified Christian, for every meritorious act has for its main object the increase of grace and of eternal glory, while satisfactory works have for their object the removal of the temporal punishment still due to sin. In practice and generally speaking, however, merit and satisfaction are found in every salutary act, so that every meritorious work is also satisfactory and vice versa. It is indeed also essential to the concept of a satisfactory work of penance that it be penal and difficult, which qualities are not connoted by the concept of merit; but since, in the present state of fallen nature, there neither is nor can be a meritorious work which in one way or another has not connected with it difficulties and hardships, theologians unanimously teach that all our meritorious works without exception bear a penal character and thereby may become automatically works of satisfaction. Against how many difficulties and distractions have we not to contend even during our prayers, which by right should be the easiest of all good works! Thus, prayer also becomes a penance, and hence confessors may in most cases content themselves with imposing prayer as a penance. (Cf. De Lugo, "De pœnitentia," disp. xxiv, sect. 3.)
(c) Owing to the peculiar relation between and material identity of merit and satisfaction in the present economy of salvation, a twofold value must in general be distinguished in every good work: the meritorious and the satisfactory value. But each preserves its distinctive character, theoretically by the difference in concepts, and practically in this, that the value of merit as such, consisting in the increase of grace and of heavenly glory, is purely personal and is not applicable to others, while the satisfactory value may be detached from the meriting agent and applied to others. The possibility of this transfer rests on the fact that the residual punishments for sin are in the nature of a debt, which may be legitimately paid to the creditor and thereby cancelled not only by the debtor himself but also by a friend of the debtor. This consideration is important for the proper understanding of the usefulness of suffrages for the souls in purgatory (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XXV, Decret. de purgat., in Denzinger, n. 983). When one wishes to aid the suffering souls, one cannot apply to them the purely meritorious quality of his work, because the increase of grace and glory accrues only to the agent who merits. But it has pleased the Divine wisdom and mercy to accept the satisfactory quality of one's work under certain circumstances as an equivalent of the temporal punishment still to be endured by the faithful departed, just as if the latter had themselves performed the work. This is one of the most beautiful and consoling aspects of that grand social organization which we call the "Communion of Saints", and moreover affords us an insight into the nature of the "heroic act of charity" approved by Pius IX, whereby the faithful on earth, out of heroic charity for the souls in Purgatory, voluntarily renounce in their favour the satisfactory fruits of all their good works, even all the suffrages which shall be offered for them after their death, in order that they may thus benefit and assist the souls in purgatory more quickly and more efficaciously.
The efficacy of the prayer of the just be it for the living or for the dead, calls for special consideration. In the first place it is evident that prayer as a pre-eminently good work has in common with other similar good works, such as fasting and almsgiving, the twofold value of merit and satisfaction. Because of its satisfactory character, prayer will also obtain for the souls in purgatory by way of suffrage (per modum suffragii) either a diminution or a total cancelling of the penalty that remains to be paid. Prayer has, moreover, the characteristic effect of impetration (effectus impetratorius), for he who prays appeals solely to the goodness, love, and liberality of God for the fulfilment of his desires, without throwing the weight of his own merits into the scale. He who prays fervently and unceasingly gains a hearing with God because he prays, even should he pray with empty hands (cf. John, xiv 13 sq.; xvi, 23). Thus the special efficacy of prayer for the dead is easily explained, since it combines efficacy of satisfaction and impetration, and this twofold efficacy is enhanced by the personal worthiness of the one who, as a friend of God, offers the prayer. Since the meritoriousness of good works supposes the state of justification, or, what amounts to the same, the possession of sanctifying grace, supernatural merit is only an effect or fruit of the state of grace (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, cap. xvi). Hence, it is plain that this whole article is really only a continuation and a completion of the doctrine of sanctifying grace (see GRACE)."
Thanks for you excellent reply. It would be nice if James White would admit that he portrays the Catholic understanding incorrectly.
Mr. Prejean isn't the pope? Say it ain't so Jonathan!
This will cause me to redirect my studies.. ;-)
But I just got done with Hughes' book on divine simplicity! You have to at least hang around until I make an infallible proclamation on it.
BTW, sorry for not getting in touch any sooner. Things have turned into a mad rush from about Thanksgiving on, so I figured I would catch up on all these books I was supposed to have read beforehand (Hughes being one of them). I figure once I get through Sherrard's Greek East and Latin West and Meyendorff's book on Gregory Palamas, I might actually have a tiny bit of knowledge on this whole absolute simplicity versus essence-energies thing.
No worries. Between the holidays, Cotton Bowl (bah), and work - I've been swamped as well lately. Cisco's quarter ends this month, so they are rushing us these past two months with a heavy volume of units that need to be built. This means 60-70 hours/week for me. Once this month ends I should have some more free time.
What's your assessment of Hughes book? I haven't even bought that one yet, though it is at the top of my "want list." I'm still flirting around with patristic works, and some history of philosophy - once I'm through those I should be able to nose dive into simplicity.
E. Stump's *Absolute Simplicity* in Faith & Philosophy (1985) is supposed to be a nice defense of absolute simplicity.
Feel free to email me if you wish. Same e-addy as always.
I would also take a look at John Romanides correctives to Meyendorff on the Palamite controversey. I think Meyendorff's assertion that Barlaam was a nominalist, neo-platonist, and a humanist are a bit attenuated to say the least. You can see Romanides' response online as well: http://www.romanity.org/htm/rom.15.en.notes_on_the_palamite_controversy.01.htm
I think it might also be helpful to take a look at Stump's revised review. I think the one from '85 was done with Norm Kretzmann.
And before you guys take on Perry and I on the topic, let's make sure the discussion doesn't denegrate into garbage as it did over at Pontifications a few months ago. I see you guys as an allie, so there should be no reason for pressure or any intrinsic need for refutation. After all, I'm still a Roman Catholic, even if I am an inconsistent one.
"And before you guys take on Perry and I on the topic, let's make sure the discussion doesn't denegrate into garbage as it did over at Pontifications a few months ago. I see you guys as an allie, so there should be no reason for pressure or any intrinsic need for refutation."
God forbid! What happened on Pontifications remains a bit of a mystery to me, although the Harts had manifested some hostility to Perry's thesis before. If nothing else, Travis and I have to follow the Unwritten Rule not to malign a fellow Aggie unless he really, really deserves it! ;-) But even apart from that, thoughts of being adversarial ("taking you on") are as far from my mind as east is from west (no pun intended). I am not a confrontational sort unless someone is being stupid (like accusing Catholics of works-righteousness or saying that the church fathers believed in sola fide).
I believe we have spoken before on IRC. I go by Cyprian in #apologia on undernet, though I've been too busy to spend much time there lately.
Anyhow, you don't have to worry about any discussion on simplicity turning into a personal flame fest. Jonathan is much too kind and charitible, and ad-hominem-laced-flame-fests bore me (though I must say I have had some moments in the past). Besides that, I couldn't keep up with depth of quality or quantity of what Perry usually writes. I learned that a long time ago when we were both at Texas A&M.
Stump's revised article on simplicity is in her large book on Aquinas that came out fairly recently. I paid something like $6 or $8 for the journal, which is sufficient for now.
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