It makes no sense to me . . .

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Posted by Dave Armstrong on December 30, 2000 at 13:07:13:

In Reply to: Why not compromise ... posted by Ronnie on December 30, 2000 at 12:01:49:

Ronnie wrote:

: [Why not compromise] and do one of each ? Since Dr. Svendsen doesn't think the written medium is the best way to debate and you don't think the oral medium is the best way to debate. There is evidence that both forms can be beneficial, respectful, and edifying if both parties are committed to respectful and fair dialogue. James White vs Robert Sungenis and James White vs Mitchel Pacwa are evidence of oral debates working correctly and I'm sure Dr Svendsen has experience written debates that have worked fine. What do you say ?

I am absolutely opposed to doing oral debates with anti-Catholics. This has always been my position. I do not condemn the very idea, on moral grounds, however, and I do recognize that some good comes from them (as in the Sungenis-White debates), though I am not sure that it is a "net gain" when all is said and done. I have called for before-and-after surveys to determine how much of the audience actually changed their minds as a result. My thoughts on this are laid out in great detail in my paper I referred Eric to in my last post.

As for Eric and I; he said he has done one oral debate, and I have done none (nor do I plan on ever doing any). The closest I have gotten to that was my "live" chat last night with Tim Enloe and James White, in their forum. But even then, I was very careful to "negotiate" a format which agreed with my Socratic-oriented approach (Q and A and back-and-forth dialogue), which I strongly believe to be more conducive to understanding and learning and constructive discourse on both sides, as opposed to mere rhetoric, clever tricks, "citation wars and ambushes," and suchlike.

Both Eric and I have done much writing. He has books, and I will soon have a book published, and have chapters in three other books, and many articles published. So I think it is much more sensible and reasonable for me to refuse to do the thing I have many philosophical and methodological objections to, and no experience with, than for Eric to refuse to engage a Catholic apologist in the written arena - which he is quite experienced in, as I am.

Also, my opposition to oral debates with anti-Catholics is well-known (among the circles I move in) and a longstanding opinion, whereas Eric seems to have arrived at his "no writing debates" position very recently, perhaps in the last week, as a result of his acerbic, icy exchanges with Mark Shea on this board. Perhaps I misunderstood his request; I didn't know he was referring solely to oral debates at first. I do know that he was dialoguing with me (quite a bit) back in 1996, when we were both members of James White's sola Scriptura Internet discussion list. I have these exchanges posted on my website.

Furthermore, he was asking in his initial post for free exchange of ideas and so forth. I am certainly willing to do that, and I think that is easily shown by all the dialogues on my website, with people of almost every imaginable major belief-system. So it *seems* as if Eric was not totally committed to his expressed desire, since he so quickly turned down someone who was willing to engage in the sort of discussion he claimed he was seeking. That rubs me the wrong way. I think a man ought to stand by his words, especially when he is the one initially extending the challenge/invitation, or however he would describe his first post. You know: say what you mean, and mean what you say. But I will not ascribe insincerity to him, because I think that is wrong. I'm just publically expressing my confusion about what he has written and how he has subsequently acted.


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