Case Study in Anti-Catholic Bigotry and Condescension:
Dr. James White Rejects Personal Reconciliation and Continues to Pour Forth Insults, Yet Simultaneously Pushes for an Oral Debate

Dave Armstrong vs. Dr. James White

Photograph from a Mormon website. It appears that Dr. White would rather utilize his considerable rhetorical talents baiting and debating fellow Christian Catholics, rather than Mormon heretics.

Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. (St. Paul: 2 Timothy 2:23; RSV)

This initially somewhat hopeful but ultimately ill-fated dialogue came about as a result of the live chat dialogue I had with Presbyterian Reformed apologist Tim Enloe and anti-Catholic Reformed Baptist apologist Dr. White, which occurred in the latter's website chat room on 29 December 2000. As usual, needless and silly controversy with the notoriously overly-sensitive Dr. White arose even before the live chat occurred (first section below). When I posted the chat transcript on my website, I added some separate footnotes, clarifying and expanding points made in the dialogue. Dr. White wrote me a letter, objecting to my assertion that Baptists do not believe in bishops. I responded, and then - sadly - his trademark ubiquitous personal insults and evasive tactics  rapidly intensified  (which has always been the case ever since - and during - our lengthy postal debate of 1995). I was angered by that (I believe, quite justifiably; I think White is capable of so much better), and admitted it in my second letter of 12 January 2001. Nevertheless, I  tried my best to be patient and to achieve some modicum of reconciliation ("charity hopes all things"), all to no avail, as readers can observe upon reading Dr. White's fiery and blatantly hypocritical "farewell letter" and parting shot / put-down of the same date (final section below), less than 24 hours after he had repeatedly urged me to debate him live. I guess "hell hath no fury like an anti-Catholic polemicist scorned [i.e., turned down for a debate]."

The "dialogue" below will speak for itself, loudly and unmistakably, as to the fairly common anti-Catholic attitudinal problems and prejudicial mentality, as exemplified in one of the most influential anti-Catholics of today: James White. Of course I am a greatly flawed human being myself, and the more words I write, the more I will - no doubt - fall short, in matters of charity and humility and mercy. But I think it is clear that there is a qualitative, essential ethical difference between my far less judgmental approach to Dr. White (admittedly intensely critical of his ideas) , and his continued intransigence, constant stream of invective and epithets, and absolute unwillingness to work towards any sort of mutual understanding or reconciliation (like racial segregationists, he concludes that we ought to admit that we have irreconcilable differences, live separately, and not even try to get along). The text is very slightly edited in order to remove some comments regarding others: matters known to us but irrelevant for general readers. The bracketed words in the final section are my comments in response to Dr. White's last letter indicating he was interested in no further communication between us. I didn't send them to him, per his wishes. Dr. White's words will be in blue:

Pre-"Live Chat" Dialogue Negotiations (12-14 December 2000)

I have in mind a relatively free and easy, informal, hopefully cordial and amiable discussion (such as at a restaurant), meant to increase mutual understanding and to bring some "light" into an areana too frequently characterized by destructive "heat." Maybe I shouldn't even refer to this proposition as a "debate," but the challenge aspect (I see it more literally as an "invitation") inevitably lends itself to that notion. I don't care if I am "beaten" on some minor point or other (one can't know everything, and I am happy to admit when I don't know enough about something to intelligently comment); my purpose is to engage in conversation in order to further the purposes of truth and knowledge (maybe even friendship) for all parties. I am content (as always) to let the readers of my website determine which case is more plausible, biblical, and coherent. But discussion itself, when conducted in the proper fashion, I regard as almost always a good and helpful thing. What think ye, Tim and James?

Hello, Dave.....

I would be interested, however, when I mentioned it in channel, a few folks starting talking about your website.  I haven't visited anything but the main page in a long, long time.  So they started talking about what was on your site regarding me, including some goofy picture.  So I took the time to log on and was amazed at the disrespectful mannerisms you display.  "King James White"?  Distorted pictures?  I wonder, Dave, is there anything on our website about you that is even semi-parallel?  I wonder why I should assume you will abide by your own suggestion when you have this kind of material on your site?  I'd like to see your explanation for such materials before investing time in such an encounter.


Hi James and all,

Thanks for replying. Praise God for the election result, eh (that's something we can all agree upon)? You wrote:

I would be interested, however, when I mentioned it in channel, a few folks starting talking about your website.  I haven't visited anything but the main page in a long, long time.

Thanks for visiting, too. There would be a ton of new papers if you haven't been there for a while.

So they started talking about what was on your site regarding me, including some goofy picture.

I'm happy to hear others have stopped by also. I hope they take the time to peruse some writing we all agree on, such as my taking Al Gore to task or my excoriation of the pro-abort position, in recent papers. Or my trinitarian research, or debates with agnostics, homosexuals, theological liberals, etc.

So I took the time to log on and was amazed at the disrespectful mannerisms you display.  "King James White"?  Distorted pictures?  I wonder, Dave, is there anything on our website about you that is even semi-parallel?

No, because you have virtually nothing about me on your site in the first place, not even a link to our extensive debate (strange, if indeed you thoroughly "beat" me in the debate, as I hear you have been telling others). One has to read our debate on my site to get an idea of how you acted towards me, even back in 1995 (seeing is believing; a thousand words is worth a picture). See more on that below . . .

I wonder why I should assume you will abide by your own suggestion when you have this kind of material on your site?  I'd like to see your explanation for such materials before investing time in such an encounter.

Sure, I'd be happy to explain (thanks for the opportunity); it's called a "sense of humor." Boy, that was a difficult one to answer! :-) "King James" is an obvious allusion to your research on the KJV-Only Nuts, for which I have praised you in the past on more than one occasion. As you often gleefully note, those (Protestant) folks call you far worse things than (in my opinion) a harmless humorous play on words. The picture was a simple joke as well; I was playing around with my site one day with the graphics. I did the same with the Rose window of Notre Dame on my Index Page. Visitors to my site will notice the following caption underneath your "goofy picture" (perhaps you overlooked it):

(see the actual photo here. Just having a little bit o' good clean fun :-)
The actual photo is on our debate (it looks like a very nice photo, too. Is that a Rush tie?). I suppose I should be more sensitive to the fact that people vary in their sense of humor, just as they do in matters of theology. I'll be happy to remove both of these objectionable items if you should so desire (which seems likely). In fact, I'll go ahead and do that as soon as I send this off.

The Controversial "Goofy" Photo

As for abiding by my own suggestion; well, that is a matter of how I actually conduct myself in a discussion, isn't it?, not one of my particular sense of humor (however jaded or tasteless it might be thought to be by some; humor being a highly subjective thing). The two entities (ability to dialogue and humor) are quite distinct. So one determines that by actually reading the many dialogues on my site. How many have you read, I wonder?

I think that I'm actually a fairly nice guy, believe it or not (that's what a lot of people tell me, at any rate). Don't make the serious mistake of thinking that our previous clashes are representative or typical of all the many sorts of conversations I engage in. Not one in a 100 of my dialogues has 1/100th of the problems you and I seem to have when we "lock horns."

As for "disrespectful mannerisms," I do confess that nothing on my very large and multi-faceted site (I must have written 500,000 or more words by now) comes remotely close to several amazing, shocking statements which appear on your site, e.g., notably:

God knows, and James Akin knows, that my writings do not contain any kind of material like that produced regularly by Catholic Answers. Every mention of Karl Keating, James Akin, Patrick Madrid, or other Roman Catholic apologists, in my newest book, is based upon issues, not personalities. Oh, it would be easy to get into that game. But I continue to strive for a higher standard. I don't want to become like my opposition, whether they be hatefilled Fundamentalist KJV Only advocates, or hatefilled Roman Catholic apologists. In either case, I pray God will allow me to not become like them.
{Mirror Mirror: The Decline of Catholic Answers}

Or I could mention your constant comparisons of Catholic Answers and myself and several others to Jack Chick and his level of "scholarship." I think my good friend Steve Ray is now also in your "Chick doghouse," if I remember correctly (the charge is so ubiquitous from your "pen" that they all sort of run together after a while). We're all proud to be there (don't get me wrong), but it does, admittedly, get a little crowded and cramped after a while (like the old Hank Williams song, Move it on over).

Or I could cite your well-known, notorious trashing of Steve Ray's honesty (shortly after you told Bob Sungenis that you wished to cease doing that), when it would have sufficed simply to present your alternate interpretation of St. Augustine's famous words.

Or several of your less-than-admiring descriptions of me, in our debate which you gave me permission to post:

To make one's apostasy a badge of honor, and to say that this gives you an "edge," bewilders me. Scripture says a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, and we are warned about those who are blown about by every wind of doctrine. I noted the many, many churches that someone like Bob Sungenis was in prior to his move to Rome.

. . . the twisted, contorted, Jack Chickian-Gail Riplingeresque view of the Reformed position you present in this very paragraph . . .

Those who have never realized their own helplessness often hate the gospel, I've discovered.

So I am a conscious (proud!) apostate, double-minded, unstable in all my ways; I hate the gospel and people like you (i.e., non-Catholics - if indeed I am in the number of "hatefilled apologists" you bemoan), and argue like Jack Chick and Gail Riplinger (a KJV-only advocate, for those of you unfamiliar with her).

And that's only the beginning (believe me, folks) . . . Now James, you can search far and wide on my site, and all through my papers about you, and our debates, and you will not find anything remotely resembling these descriptions of me and of other Catholics which pepper your site. Even in my sharpest criticisms of you (and there are many), never ever ever would I say that you are "hatefilled" or that you "hate the gospel" or compare your scholarship to Jack Chick, etc.
Quite the contrary! I've even defended you with some passion in discussions with fellow apologists, saying you were a sharp guy, didn't deserve some of the sweeping characterizations which some have made concerning you, are not "demon-possessed" (as one apologist habitually states), that you do good research on Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, are a good pro-lifer, etc. One also determines a person's opinions of another by compliments that they offer, not just from criticisms and mild humor. When have you ever offered the least compliment to me? Never, that I recall (and I have a very good memory).

That being the case; you have the chutzpah to object to my very mild teasing humor (and use it as a pretext to probably avoid even a friendly, informal discussion with a Catholic apologist yet again), when you habitually write things such as the above? That's what I call "log-in-the-eye-disease" (sorry).

Now, you are perfectly free, of course, to regard this letter as a personal attack against you, which would be exceedingly strange (but not at all surprising to me), as I merely cite your very own words. Or you can take it as I intended it: as a pointed reply (turning the tables) and a rebuke (ultimately intended charitably) with regard to your familiar charge that I am the one routinely engaging in "disrespectful mannerisms."

We all fall short in language, especially apologists who are often engaged on the "front lines" of argumentative encounter with those of differing views. Human beings aren't very good at taming their tongues, and Christians - sadly - are not much better, in my experience. I have admitted very candidly and publicly that I have sinned against you in the past in this regard, as you well know. The last few apologies you ignored. The one you accepted originally was practically nullified when you sent my private letter around (a practice you condemn on your website) to several Catholic apologists in an attempt to divide us and humiliate me and harm my reputation.

Be that as it may, I would greatly welcome and rejoice over a general denunciation of such descriptions of others - as shown above - from you, just as you have done with my friend Robert Sungenis. I have read some older, red-hot exchanges between you and Robert. If you two found it entirely possible to cease that unworthy rhetoric and engage in mutually-respectful discourse, why not you and I?

I will eagerly await your response.

God bless,


A few corrections and I'm finished with our interchange:

1)  We have never debated.  I exchanged a few letters with you years ago.  If you insist on calling that a "debate," that is your choice, I suppose.

2)  Please tell me who claims I've told them I "beat" you in an exchange I don't even call a debate.  I'd like to know.  If I thought such a thing, why wouldn't I post the material myself?

3)  You asked to scan in private letters from five years or more ago, but now parallel these letters to materials written for public consumption.  I had no interest in those letters being posted, but knew if I did not give you permission to do so, that would be noted as well.

4)  You refer to the fact that I have documented many flagrant errors on the part of Catholic Answers and likened their behavior to Jack Chick, as if this is parallel to making fun of someone's name or posting silly pictures of them.  The real issue, obviously, is whether the parallel I suggest in each instance is a valid one, and in the contexts (which were not cited or even noted), I believe the parallel is certainly valid and correct.  The gross misuse of material out of context is the hallmark of Jack Chick's materials: and in the instances I have documented, it is likewise the case with Catholic Answers.

5)  As I have noted, I did not intend, and do not intend, the words of the statement regarding public debates to be construed as requiring anyone to fall into the trap of modernism so as to be unable to identify a lie as a lie.

6)  Thanks for reworking the picture.  It's too old to still be used, to be honest, but I don't have time to get anything professionally done these days.

7)  If Mr. Enloe wishes to dialogue with you in #prosapologian, that is fine.  I leave it to him to decide the parameters, date, etc.


Exchanges of  11-12 January 2001

Hi Mr. James,

Mr. Armstrong:  I'm replying to your entire impromptu list....not sure why you expanded the numbers....

[Name] first brought up the "bishop" issue with me, with regard to your own views, so I thought he might be interested (plus he was at the live chat). [Name] is a Reformed Internet friend who seems to like your work (I wonder how impressed both of them - and Tim - are with this "response" of yours?).

Incredibly lengthy, and 98% irrelevant exercise in complete and utter verbosity deleted....

[i.e., my entire argument - posted elsewhere - about the issue of who believes in bishops]

You really are insufferable, James LOL Nothing new here. The same old tired and transparent tactics. As usual, you run as fast as you can from that which you cannot answer. So it has been for over five years now. If I write a few sentences stating my position, I get nothing but condescending derision and contentions that I "know nothing," care not a whit about accuracy, etc. Then when I spend a whole evening painstakingly refuting every jot and tittle of your silly, slanderous charges with massive historical documentation and biblical argument and analogy and reason, you will have none of that and ignore it with a one-sentence potshot, as is your wont. Maybe you can give me a word limit, like for a high school essay on the tigers of Siberia or something?

What do you expect me to do when you claim I "know nothing" about a topic? Like any reasonable, thoughtful, self-respecting person with any self-confidence at all would, I backed myself up with Protestant historians and an old paper of mine from 1995 which definitely shows that I do know something about these topics (perhaps not much by your exalted, unassailable standards, but surely something - which is more than nothing, and therefore puts the lie to your childish insult). Anyone else could see that, but not you.

And I guess it's okay that you engage in "utter verbosity" when it suits your purpose, such as your extremely tedious and never-ending - almost neurotically insecure - counter-responses to Pat Madrid and James Akin, when they challenged you on this, that, or the other. But when we respond to your claptrap and ad hominem jibes about us and our views, all of a sudden you want to run and hide again. This will not do.

You talk about my supposed inability to do live debates, but at least I was willing to do it in your room (and I thought I did quite well, thank you) whereas you have refused my longstanding challenge to engage me in writing for over five years now, and this present letter shows you are still unable and/or unwilling to answer any direct and comprehensive refutation of your outlandish claims for both Church history and your opponents' alleged lack of knowledge. All you are offering now, as far as I am concerned, are the "three S's": sound-bytes, sophistry, and silence.

Mr. Armstrong, you have provided yet another example of what I pointed out to you many years ago: the ability to write volumes is no substitute for being able to actually answer a question, or deal with an objection.

If you can look at my various tightly-reasoned arguments offered against your contention in my last letter (all quite on topic and right to the point), and describe that as a "substitute" for answering an objection, then I guess I thought you were a lot smarter than you are. And if you think you can get out of your intellectual duty to defend your views with dumb and stupefied "replies" like the above, then indeed you must live in a dream world. This is pathetic! Someone with all the brains and education that you have reduced to this sort of cowardly, shameless rhetoric? I appeal to the three witnesses of this exchange! I think they know an "answer" when they see one, and an "evasion/insult" when they see that. They can tell the difference (whether or not they ever bring themselves to confront you or not).

You said Baptists do not believe in bishops.  Baptists do.

They certainly don't: not in the traditional definition, understood by any Church historian whatever. You name me a single reputable, credentialed historian who would define "bishop" - as exercised at least since the mid-2nd century - as equivalent to a deacon or elder in your sense.

You were in error.  Live with it, and correct it.

Okay: "Baptists believe bishops are elders. I think they are wrong." How's that? Does that receive your Good Housekeeping seal of approval? You talking about correcting errors? Man alive! Your lies about me and other so-called "hatefilled" apologists (your term) alone were enough to fill up a huge paper, mostly comprised of your own words from your website. You continue them now.

All the mental gymnastics and sand-throwing in the world will not change the reality.

Now you can't even distinguish a rational argument from "mental gymnastics." At least I tried! You gotta give me that much. How ought I describe your deafening silence and frantic attempts to mischaracterize my arguments, so as not to ever answer them? That would never do . . . we can't have a rational discourse, with you actually responding to reason for a change! I say this is intellectual cowardice, pure and simple.

I believe your attempts to rehabilitate the Marian dogmas would fail, quickly, and easily, under the most simple of cross-examinations.  And to prove this, I'd like to know if you would come on our webcast and defend your comments against me, live, for 90 minutes? Please let me know.

Of course, but with negotiations on details. It is not an appropriate forum for rapid-fire, precise questions about particular fathers, etc. (I can't even cut-and-paste, nor do I wish to in such a live exchange).

I'm sorry basic patristic knowledge is something you do not wish to address.

Who said that? All I said was that a regular, normal conversation does not include 10,000 citations. If you want citations, I'll give you a ton of those in a written debate. But you have always refused that, since you opted out of our 1995 written debate, after your second response, filled with unending attacks on my credibility and character (because I had the unmitigated gall to disagree with and systematically dissect your shoddy logic, and refused your challenge to debate you orally). I understand that you want to impress everyone with your exhaustive knowledge of the Fathers. But I'm just trying to have a conversation. This is not a performance or some sort of "ambush" for me; rather, it is a Socratic search for knowledge, consistent with my long-running philosophical and dialogical outlook.

But I shall not place any limitations on the data to be presented, for, obviously, it is my desire to demonstrate that your attempted responses, via footnotes, in the written debate, and your
sleight-of-hand in attempting to rehabilitate yourself, fall apart under the slightest bit of cross-examination (something written works do not need to concern themselves with).

Ever hear of a written dialogue? Plato? Have you heard of him? Aquinas? The Dumb Ox? Are these not "cross-examinations"? I do that all the time, with every sort of view under the sun. You are willing to do it only in tightly-controlled situations, with your adoring fan club screaming for you (and for a fee), where you can work your time-honed sophistical methods, well-illustrated in our little live chat, where you were subtly and cleverly switching topics the whole time. I could have written much more in my notes, exposing your modus operandi, but it is often so subtle that it would probably be lost on many readers anyway. But will you subject yourself to a situation where you can be cross-examined and not flee for the hot hills of Arizona? Well, we shall see!

You raised patristic issues in your footnotes.  Is it your assertion that you should not be held
accountable to answering for that information?

Again, I'm willing to defend anything I've written, as I did tonight (only to get back your vapid retort that it was no answer at all). I haven't observed that you ever defend your views, at least not after one round (and that usually largely comprised of massive ad hominem assaults). So this is another instance of projection on your part. My track record is clear. I'm not afraid of anyone critiquing my views, because that will afford me an opportunity to either strengthen them, or to forfeit them. Either way, I win, because I am a seeker of truth, not "victory" at the expense of truth. That doesn't create fear and insecurity. It fosters intellectual excitement and the pure enjoyment of both learning and teaching, as the case may be.

Since we both believe the other is guilty of fallacious, incorrect, and sophistical argumentation, one-on-one, live, is the way to find out who is right and who is wrong, is it not?

It has some merits and some bad points. I just went through this whole argument with [name]. He seems to be real big on the oral debates, too. Odd, though, that both you and him write books, if they are so terribly inferior. I guess writing is fine as long as no one can ever respond to it and collapse the sophistical house of cards which you guys construct in these books. If someone critiques them, you simply ignore 'em! It's a foolproof method! So you are in your own little world, impervious to any distraction of logic or countering biblical evidence.

I do not believe you can defend your position without changing the ground from the actual questions to some massive presentation drawing from all the things you have written before.  That doesn't work in a live situation.  You have to be direct, clear, and on-topic.

How I did is for readers (or audience observers) to judge. I thought I did just fine. I was most proud, though, of one of your moderators complimenting both of us on the "civility" of the debate [<katy_099> "I was positively impressed by the civility shown in this discussion, and I appreciate it."]. That was half my goal being there that night, to show that it was possible. But immediately here you come dragging the level of discussion down to a mud-throwing circus, so that when I am forced to rebuke you (as presently), you will simply claim that our two responses are moral equivalents, or that I am completely at fault, while you are perfect, as always (since you have never apologized once to me, and I have to you some 7-8 times by now).

So I repeat my invitation: we do a 90 minute web broadcast.  You have made claims regarding the Marian issues and the form of the early Church. I will be glad to discuss them with you, but I will not allow filibustering and changing of the subject.  The early Church was not Roman....that is too easily demonstrated.

What was it, then? Rather like Phoenix Baptist Church?

Many of the patristic citations you offered have been shown to be out of context often in the past, and I would be glad to do so again in the future.

What? You have lifted your boycott of interacting with my work???? Hallelujah. You must have been pressured by your legions of fans to take a stand for a change. That would be a welcome result of our little live chat. But why bother with someone as ignorant and stupid as me? Shouldn't such manifest dumbness and stupidity on my part (as you claim my last letter was) make you unwilling to dialogue, so as not to lower your lofty reputation for taking on only the best "Roman apologists"? Curious . . .

And if you wish to add episcopacy, the idea of priests, popes and prelates, well, that would be just fine.  I'm sure our considerable audience would very much like to hear a factually based discussion of the issues.

I'll tell you what, James. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. If we are gonna have a good dialogue, we will have to each stretch a little bit, don't you think? Here's my proposal:

1. I get to question you for 90 minutes, about anything, where you have to answer (just as Tim and I did). That way you can't run and hide, but will have to defend your beliefs under scrutiny, just as you are chiding me for supposedly not doing (after I have spent an entire evening doing so).

2. Then you can question me for 90 minutes about anything: Mary, the pope, episcopacy, whatever you like. But I will not engage in a citation war. If you try that, I will simply refuse to respond in kind, and will make that clear at the time - that it is more appropriate for a written exchange, where footnotes are normative, not a boring and tedious distraction (just as it is considered on talk radio). In fact, you can question me for 5 hours if you like. I'm not scared of you. That would give me an opportunity to so expose your falsehoods, that I would jump for joy. Just give me 90 minutes where you can't run, (like local hero Joe Louis said: "he can run but he can't hide") and you can roast me to pieces (excepting ad hominem nonsense: I don't put up with that under any circumstances, as it is not rational argument in the first place).

3. Thirdly, I require you to offer some sort of point-by-point answer to my last letter. Failing that, you can never convince me that you are interested in true dialogue. If you can utterly ignore all that argumentation with a wave of the hand, why should I think you will be open to reason and the seeking of a greater understanding in a live debate, where you can utilize all the sophistical tricks you have honed to a fine art, lo these many years? It just ain't gonna happen. I don't engage in game-playing and three-ring circuses where my Christian faith and apologetic calling are concerned. Our live chat was pretty good, all things considered, though cut short. Your letter of today is the same old James, which pretty much - sadly - neutralized any good will created by a momentary manifestation of civility and a modicum of rational discussion and interaction.

So, to summarize my proposal:

1. Answer my last letter point-by-point. Since it is "irrelevant" and "no answer" according to you, that should take you about 5-10 minutes. But it has to be point-by-point, so you can't evade and obfuscate.

2. I get to question you for 90 minutes, and you have to answer (and I go first).

3. Then you can question me for 5 hours or all night if you want (if it is on the weekend).

4. It all goes on my website, and I will footnote it again, if necessary (including this letter and the last one - people need to see your "intellectual" brilliance in action).

5. The slightest ad hominem attack and I leave immediately. If you pull a stunt like this letter in a live chat, I'll be gone before your next heartbeat. I don't care a whit what you or others may think about that. It doesn't concern me.

6. You can quote citations till you're blue in the face if you want. I will not respond in kind, because I contend that it makes little sense in a live chat. But I'll add a ton of counter-citations in the website version if I have to. I won't let any half-truth or lie stand for my readers to be deceived by.

How could anyone say this isn't greatly favoring you?

I will eagerly await your response.

Yours in Christ,


Hi James,

You did at least offer a lengthy response. I give you credit for that, and I appreciate you taking the time. But then you fire so many shots at me that whatever good will could quite possibly have been built up in your response is neutralized. It's sad. There is no hope for us. You are right. I have tried, but you have such a low opinion of me and my work that any constructive dialogue is clearly impossible under any circumstances and any format: written, oral, Morse Code, poems, sign language . . .

You say you don't like a lot of things about how people obscure truth, obfuscate, etc. Actually, I am right with you on most - if not all - of those. Most definitely. In fact, I see that we are very much alike in that regard. Our difference is how you characterize or classify my efforts. What I would call a long, thoughtful, comprehensive, point-by-point response (as long as necessary to correct all errors and fallacies that I see in an argument), you call meaningless verbiage, sleight-of-hand, useless rhetoric, adding up to "nothing," etc.

You seem to have a very weak conceptual grasp of analogical argument, one of my favorite types of reasoning, perhaps leading you to your constant charges that I am switching topics (the analogy is the supposed switch - as it is the comparison of one thing to another which is at the heart of the technique). You appear determined to take the very lowest view of my motivations, no matter what I do. I despise that sort of thing: always have, always will, and it is absolutely irrelevant - as to my derision - whether or not I am the recipient. I hate it, period, because it is wrong, pure and simple.

I try my very best not to do it to others, and I don't appreciate having my motives pilloried and characterized falsely. My motivation is exactly as yours (which I have always accepted at face value): I defend what I feel to be the truth with passion and enthusiasm. I make very little money for all my writing, but it is my calling, and I will do it till the day I die. If you think I would devote many thousands of hours to this over the past 20 years solely out of some infantile ego gratification, then you don't have the slightest inkling of what I am about as a person and apologist. Take that or leave it, but it is the truth. I'm sure we all have our moments of pride, as apologists, but temporary lapses do not prove a rule.

So you would probably say you have tons of evidence in my past letters affirming your judgment of whatever you dislike about me or my method (which was pretty clear in this letter). And I would say I have mega-tons of evidence in your writing for what I dislike about your methods, not YOU per se. But I have always felt that your judgments of me are far more harsh and unyielding than mine of you. In any event, it just goes round and round.

To me, one of the essential, non-negotiable components of true, fruitful dialogue is that it is carried out in an atmosphere of cordiality and mutual respect. That's why the exchange with me and Tim worked, because we seem to have that. But you and I can't do it. I'm willing to take my share of the blame for that unhappy result. But whoever's fault it is, it stinks now, and I have no more time for this than you do, believe me.

It just ain't gonna work. I tried (and I grant that you tried), and no doubt I have gotten too angry again, because I don't appreciate doing a lot of heartfelt, painstaking work (and I have been generally exhausted in the last three weeks from my crazy job - long story), only to have it dismissed as "nothing" at all, along with a host of other insults. That makes anyone angry. I saw hypocrisy in that (lecturing me for not responding after I spent a whole evening, all the while not responding yourself).

Now, I don't care if you respect or like me or not (I figure you won't no matter what, so it is a non-issue, and always has been). But I do get very angered and frustrated with having a bunch of work I do dismissed as "nothing." That is a matter of rudimentary courtesy, if nothing else. I don't mind disagreement and critique (I think it is a blast; I love it). But I can't tolerate a falsehood, scorn, and hypocrisy all wrapped into one hostile opinion. It's just not in me. Call it a fault of mine, a stumbling-block if you wish. But it makes me furious, and I don't see that my anger is a lot different than yours at things you view largely in the same way. Today you did respond. You could have done that last time without the attacks. Again, good dialogue presupposes good will and some sort of courtesy and politeness. If the other person is a blithering idiot then obviously they aren't worth spending time on in the first place. If I thought you were utterly ignorant, I wouldn't be here.

I see you admit that you write to impress folks with your self-proclaimed abilities.

Fallacy and falsehood. I could explain exactly how it is fallacious (as well as factually untrue - I would be happy to list you many many of my real faults), but why bother?

Again, nothing new here....I discovered this years ago when you first contacted me, which was exactly why I have done everything I could to avoid further contact with you.  I cannot stand people who attempt to impress by bluster, obfuscation, and rhetoric.  It's a personal problem I have, maybe a character defect, but that's the way it is.

The defect is that it is a false statement to begin with. LOL As I said, I am defending what I feel to be the truth (and refuting errors), precisely as you are, from your perspective. Just because I come out with a different opinion from you, that doesn't mean that therefore I must have some nefarious motive in so doing. I know some theologies would tend to arrive at that conclusion, but I would hope yours is a bit more sophisticated than that.

I know you cannot back up your "tightly reasoned arguments" (I find that constant and repetitious phrase so incredibly silly) . . .

As I use that phrase, its only intent is the recognition that we can tell if one of our arguments was more tightly-reasoned than others. It's the same meaning as saying a proof is "airtight." I meant no intent of arrogance, but see, I think you are predisposed to interpret my words in the worst light because your personal opinion of me is so low in the first place. I suppose I treat you the same way, but I still say your rhetoric is much harsher overall.

. . . and so to hear you so smugly rely upon your ability to write and write and write without end is
tremendously annoying to me.

If the content was repetitious and illogical, I would agree. I, of course, deny that. Everything I write is for a reason. If some paper of mine is long, then I think the length was absolutely necessary to thoroughly refute the opposing viewpoint. If I offer five arguments and then think of a sixth, I will add it, because I want my case to be as strong as it can possibly be - and it helps to set down and organize my own thoughts as well. But this may be a subjective stylistic difference. I see you writing endless papers about what you perceive to be slanders against you by Akin and Madrid (and I would say some of your complaint is justified, by the way, when they over-generalized and made improper judgments).

I'm one of those folks who truly dislikes long, wordy people who say nothing.

This is our biggest problem, it seems. No matter what I write; how many arguments, historical examples, Scripture proofs, you conclude that it is "nothing." So why are we here? Under my definition of true dialogue, your low view of my writing renders our attempt null and void, pointless, meaningless, and a futile effort.

Again, another character defect of mine.

The defect (in my humble opinion) is a repeated willingness to insult your opponent needlessly and without proper reason.

. . .  Again you demonstrate your incapacity for correction:

Ad hominem.

Further, why should I point out that using a later definition [for Bishop], from whatever source you derive it, rather than the original source documents of the faith itself, the Scriptures, is completely irrelevant to Baptist ecclesiology?

Because my argument was that bishop has an accepted usage. Baptists reject it in terms of that definition. That was what I meant, and I have no reason to believe that you couldn't figure that out. I'm sure you are familiar enough with objections to your view that you could deduce that. Then I made analogies to other similar definitional disputes, but you misunderstood that and thought I was switching the topic, when in fact I was dead-on target, from my point of view. You disagree . . . fine (it's a free country), but at least make some attempt to understand the opposing argument before you pillory it and its maker as utterly ignorant and contentless.

If you had wanted to be even semi-accurate or semi-fair,

Ad hominem #2.

you would have originally said, "Baptists view bishops in a very different fashion than modern Roman Catholicism."  But that wouldn't have served your purpose, would it?  :-)

Oh. Pardon me for making another analogy (a bad habit of mine): you mean like when you claim that "the Roman Catholic Church isn't Christian" you could much more profitably write: "Catholics view Christianity in a very different fashion than Baptists"? You deny that my Church is Christian; I deny that yours has bishops. Obviously vast differences of definition are present in both instances. What's the logical difference? Forgive me, but I don't see any at all. Now, this is an analogy. It is not changing the subject. If we ever do dialogue, you will do well to note this frequent argumentative technique of mine. It's a quite biblical method: parables and prophetic word-pictures being very similar in structure: both compare one thing to another to make a point.

. . . Care to attempt to defend the differentiation of those terms [deacon, elder, bishop] on the basis of the NT text. . .

That was the whole point of posting my lengthy paper of biblical evidences, from one of the appendices of my manuscript-book A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (my distinction was episkopos vs. presbyters). But you claimed I offered "nothing" then clearly you haven't even read that, or else you couldn't make this challenge, as if I hadn't already done so, and vigorously at that.

or do you admit that your differentiation is a later development, one noted even by Jerome?

I say it is present vaguely in Scripture, and did develop, but very rapidly, compared to other doctrines (e.g., the Two Natures, which was dogmatized some 200 years after the episcopacy was firmly established).

You do know Jerome was aware of the shift over time, right?

Yes. It is not fatal to my argument by any means.

[White sarcastically portrays what he thinks I think] "You mean man!  I pulled countless things out of context from your website, . . .

"Out of context" is always a quick method to avoid substantive response. It is always silly - stated without demonstration -, because the question is "how is it out of context?" And that must be shown.

. . . ignored that they were written in response to outrageous attacks on you, . . .

As you ignore that my harsher language was also in response to outrageous attacks on me by you! LOL When I say stuff like you do above, you claim I have a "liberal victim mentality." Why is it not equally true of you when you do it?

. . . strung them together with lots of excess rhetoric, and yet you dare show your face ! . . .

Hey, my main purpose was to document a particular lie you had been spreading about me in public for over three years. After the 5th-6th time or so, I became fed up, and decided to take a stand. A man has to occasionally do that. Clarence Thomas fought back. Should he have just laid down and died when he was being savagely lied about? Bush fought the outlandish lies about the Florida election. Even so, in charity I offered you two opportunities in one night to retract and apologize, for your sake, so I wouldn't have to undertake the unpleasant task, and to spare you any embarrassment, but you would not, leaving me no choice. I don't like being lied about. No one does.

. . . I write LONG things, White!  Fear me!"  :-)  Again, Dave, endless rhetoric I find worthless:

My paper documenting your incessant use of ad hominem was not "endless rhetoric." Rather, it was a copious, highly-organized documentation of your double standards, e.g.:

1) Claiming you detest the passing around of private letters, though you did that to me in an attempt to harm my reputation.

2) Decrying ad hominem attacks but engaging in countless numbers of them yourself.

3) Implying that Karl Keating is a chicken when he refuses to debate you, while R.C. Sproul is principled when he refuses all debates with Catholics.

4) Your refusal to debate certain folks on the grounds that they are "unworthy" or "uncivil," all the while never seeming to grasp that some Catholics may have the same exact opinion of you.

If one is obstinate, then you build your case against them (such as in a criminal court case). That's what I did. I felt I had been slandered, so I documented it (to do so is not itself slander). But if you had simply retracted, I wouldn't have done any of it. In fact, if you will retract some of these things and put it on your website, I would still be delighted to remove the paper tomorrow. There was a Catholic "traditionalist" guy I was critiquing about a year ago in a lengthy paper. He changed his mind and I immediately deleted all mention of his name and former writing in the paper.

prove to me you can express a cogent argument in three lines and I'll be impressed.

I don't think I'm all that different from you in this regard. Error takes a lot of ink to refute. How do I refute the statement: "The Catholic Church engages in pagan, idolatrous ritual and is Pelagian" in three lines? I could say "no, no, no, it doesn't because of 2nd Orange" or what not, but somehow that strikes me as a woefully inadequate answer. Likewise, an innocent defendant doesn't win a court case by saying "I didn't do it." It takes mountains of evidence and arguments to prove their "not guiltiness." So if I am not what you claim I am, and my Church likewise, that takes lots of words to refute. But you have created a scenario where you "win" either way. If I write little you say I've proven nothing. If I write a lot then you say it was all meaningless verbiage, hollow rhetoric, as opposed to cogent argument.

Again, just a  strange quirk of mine....if you can't say it succinctly, don't say it at all.

That works well for proverbs and slogans (which fit quite well in the Protestant mindset), but for complex issues of theology, over against a massive disinformation campaign of an opponent? Sorry . . . . .

Yeah, yeah, I know.  "Unless you spend the kind of time I do writing endless articles, you are a coward!"

Of course not! I concluded you were an intellectual coward because of your consistent refusal to defend your viewpoints against my replies. But your explanation is that I am a knave and a scoundrel. So, then, why should we dialogue, that being the case from your point of view? I see no point in it. When I dialogue, I want the best possible, most able opponents, not incompetent, arrogant scumbags who offer "nothing" but empty rhetoric. I don't get it.

I'll be right up front with you, Dave: you would never survive a one-on-one debate with me,

And of course if I said this, you would classify me as insufferably arrogant and pompous. LOL In fact, you have already implied this from my simple use of the phrase "tightly-reasoned arguments."

because you can't defend your position without using obfuscation and rhetoric.

Ad hominem #3.

You can't survive direct cross-examination,


and what really bugs you is you know it.

Ridiculous mind-reading (untrue, of course) and ad hominem #4.

I'll tell ya what: we have a tentative agreement with someone for the 2002 Long Island Debate.  If that falls through, how about you free up some time and face me in public?

I don't do live oral debates, for the reasons I originally gave you in 1995 when you asked me, and recently expanded in a paper of mine on that very topic [Interacting With Sophists: Reflections on "Debates" With Anti-Catholic Polemicists ]. I did the live chat for a few reasons, which I was very upfront about. I did enjoy it very much (mostly because it remained cordial and respectful). There is no intrinsic ethical objection to adding footnotes to the text, that I can see. If someone doesn't want to read them, they are below, so they don't have to, just as they don't have to watch a lousy TV show. I thought it was a reasonable compromise between an oral debate and a written exchange.
I offered to do a live chat with Dr. Eric Svendsen, but he wanted a live oral debate, just like you.

Let's do something really unusual that hasn't been done before, like, maybe, "Does the Bible Teach a Celibate Sacramental Priesthood, and Did the Early Church Believe in a Sacramental Priesthood?"  Or maybe you'd like to reprise the Marian topic?

Please explain to me why in the world you want to engage an opponent who is an ignoramus and a deliberate deceiver in your eyes? What credit is that to you, or to your views?

In either case, since you advertise your website as an award-winning one, what say ye?

I say what I have always said: I defend any paper on my site against critiques. I am always willing to subject my views to scrutiny. The only disqualifiers are if someone can't be cordial, or if they are too uninformed to adequately represent a position.

You obviously believe I am utterly incapable of meaningful written debate....

No, rather, that you have been extremely reluctant and refuse to cease the personal attacks. But now I know it is because you think I am a blithering idiot who writes a ton of rhetorical, obfuscatory (is that a word?) words, signifying nothing. I don't think you are an idiot at all, but I think you lack the "dialogical spirit," as I would define that (basically in a Socratic sense). And I have maintained all along that many of your methods in oral debate are pure sophistry.

. . . though, as you admitted, you haven't even read some of my published works.

Why should I? You don't read my papers. I generally don't read materials which are based on a premise I consider utterly self-defeating and absurd (viz., that Catholicism isn't Christian). I don't read flat-earth society material - because the earth is round, or racist material - because all men are created equal, or radical feminist stuff - because men and women are different. To me, anti-Catholicism (not Protestantism per se) is intellectual suicide, and thus, unworthy of reading except insofar as to refute.

So, the easiest way to demonstrate that, and document it on audio and video tape, would be to step into the arena. How about it?

I'm not interested in "ease," but in legitimate, constructive debate, and I think live debates with these two parties do not foster that end, for a variety of reasons.

You complained about this [White's dialectical and rhetorical tactics]  even in the chat.  The information I shared was basic to any reasonable discussion of the Marian dogmas. It was not in any way, shape, or form, excessive or out of the ordinary.

I believe I more than held my own, even hitting a home run or two (but if you don't comprehend analogy, you would have entirely missed that). It was just getting interesting and then a technical problem hit, and you never returned (I'm not denying that you may have had a good reason; I'm just saying that's how it ended).

. . .  offering citations IN CONTEXT against someone who KNOWS the context and can point out the errors of out of context citation is a whole new world, Mr. Armstrong.

That can be done just as easily in a written exchange (I say more so).

And using the same old tired citations, as you do all the time on your website, would not work in
live debate.

As if Protestants don't have their own set of "tired citations." No, you guys change yours all the time so they never get "tired." LOLOL

Hello to Your Eminence, Rt. Rev. Bishop White,

[Dr. White claimed he was a bishop in our dialogue on that subject: "I am an elder in the church: hence, I am a bishop, overseer, pastor, of a local body of believers" -  so, not wishing to be disrespectful . . . . ]

You engage in constant anachronistic reading of patristic sources.

Both sides claim the other does this. And I think some on both sides do. There are legitimate citations, relatively objective, then there are ones so biased as to become instances of special pleading.

You can do that in monologues.  You can get away with it in dialogues where the other person isn't familiar with the historical materials.  You cannot get away with it in a dialogue where the other person does know the contexts.

Sorry; I don't admit that the oral debate is always the best means to arrive at new knowledge and truth. I find that to be a weird, odd viewpoint.

But you have always refused that, since you opted out of our 1995 written debate,
It was not a debate, Mr. Armstrong, and your desire to call it that speaks volumes.

I can see why you wouldn't call it a debate, since the fight had just been joined when you scooted out. So you never really dealt with all my arguments (oh, sorry, "irrelevancies"). But if I write 36 pages, refuting the opponent point-by-point with the most excruciating, exacting logical arguments I have ever engaged in as an apologist (literally like logic class), I call that a "debate." Another of our definitional disputes. My definition is a back-and-forth exchange (written or oral) especially if it was point-by-point.

[First dictionary definition: "to discuss opposing reasons; argue." Many variants are listed; none making the oral, spoken format central to definition or essence. There are also formal and informal debates. I am obviously referring to informal debate above, and White is perceptive enough to figure this out]

If you want to debate, let's person, before observers, where rhetoric and misdirection is quickly and easily detected and refuted.

I understand that this is your favorite medium. Mine is writing. But I find it curious that a person who has written several books would wish to run down the written medium and espouse the oral form as exclusively useful. You have done both writing and oral debating, whereas I have never done oral debates, so the reasonable meeting ground is writing.

Please stop calling the exchange of a few letters a "debate."  It was, at best, "brief  correspondence."

I have the right to call it whatever I want to call it. If you stop denying that my Church is Christian, then I will re-name this "brief correspondence." Which issue do you think more weighty and important?

[At 291K, it is by far the longest paper on my website. The original was in single-spaced typewritten pages, sent through the mail. It ran 79 pages. Granted, 54 pages were mine, compared to 25 for Dr. White, because he ignored the arguments in 36 of my 54 pages - i.e., two-thirds of it. This is to be regarded as "brief" and not a debate?????]

I.e., as I said then, you are an expert at writing long tomes filled with irrelevancies that you are fond of calling "tightly reasoned argumentation."

Ad hominem #5.

I don't believe there is any lack of clarity regarding how we consider each other, Mr. Armstrong.  There never has been.

I agree. Again, however, I think there is a large difference of degree in how we deal with each other. I try to stick to your arguments and methods, not you as a person. But you continually assault my intelligence, abilities, honesty, motivation, supposed lack of humility, etc. In other words, character traits. Like your lie that I am foul-mouthed (which "skyman" called me one day in your chat room before kicking me out), or that I supposedly "cussed [you] out replete with glaring vulgarities." That is a bald-faced lie. It never happened! It leaves a distinct impression in people's minds which is an outrageous distortion of the actual event. I used two fairly minor words, not even directly referring to you, as I recall.

I apologized; you forgave me, but sent my letter around to Catholic apologists (I was obviously naive in my early days of using e-mail, never thinking that someone would do something like that) and have been distorting and lying about the incident ever since. I think that sort of thing is crossing the line and that it is a sin, in virtually any Christian moral view. And my exposing of that slanderous and ongoing effort is not ad hominem itself, but rather, the detesting and exposing of the sin, and simply setting the facts straight.

No, no, no, you don't seem to understand, nor do many of your compatriots, which is why I keep tripping you folks up so badly.

I don't have any skinned knees. And you would say this statement could not be construed by anyone as arrogant?

I am a nobody, Mr. Armstrong.  A dope.  If I got run over by a truck tomorrow a few folks would notice but the world would go on without so much as a pause.

I appreciate the humility. Now if we could just train you to give me the least benefit of the doubt as to my motives and abilities (meager though they may be) . . .

There are many, many people FAR more intelligent and able than I am. As long  as you believe that I think otherwise, you'll keep playing directly into  my hands over and over and over again.

That's an intriguing statement. Not sure what it means.

What is true  about me is that I'm passionate about the truth.  I detest inconsistency  and deception.  I detest surface-level assertions and the misuse of facts.

That's where you and I are very similar.

That is why you and I don't get along.

This is where we are very dissimilar, because I wouldn't dream of attributing such qualities to you (or anyone, without the most compelling of evidences). So here again, I must be deceptive because I disagree with your anti-Catholicism. That's okay, because all Catholic apologists must be; after all they defend a lie, right? It's very simple. Deductive logic . . .

I'm not impressed by rhetoric and bluster and verbosity.  There are many who are, I'm not
one of them.  I have a deep-seated dislike of those who make a show of  knowledge for the sake of something other than the truth itself.  That's why I  don't like much of what goes on in "academia" today: it's all for show,  not for the edification of believers in the Church.  So at the very least I'm consistent.

I agree with this 100% (excepting the last sentence :-).

Oh, and one other thing: I do what I do in apologetics because  of my positive Reformed beliefs, not the other way around.

And I do what I do because of my positive Catholic beliefs. I have no problem with this. You have a Roman Catholicism page where you critique Catholicism, and I have an Anti-Catholicism page where I critique what I consider "intellectual suicide." The big difference is that I regard these people as brothers in Christ, whether they hate and despise me and my Church or not.

I really don't get the idea that any of you folks understand that.

I do. I think it flows from a sincere belief that my Church is this horrible anti-Christian thing, but that your primary task is to promote your belief. I'm the same way from my perspective. But I also think that your belief about the Catholic Church is woefully inaccurate. The results are largely the same in the critique, even though you are sincere (as I readily grant everyone).

You don't see,  or understand, the relationship between my highest calling (an elder in the Church), my teaching ministry (both in preaching and in teaching seminary), my writing work, and my apologetic work.  And as long as you all  don't care to understand that, you'll never figure me out.  :-)

What is there to understand? I've never given it a second thought. I knew you did all these things, and I'm sure you have the highest motives in all of them.

Dave, I really don't find a thirst for "truth" in the notes you added to the online debate.

What would I have to do differently to change your mind? Go Protestant, then I would be obviously thirsting?

Socrates surely wouldn't get that idea, that's for sure.

Nonsense. He had strong beliefs, but he was willing to change them when convinced. So am I.

You are an apologist, not a seeker.

I am both. They are not mutually exclusive. I am always willing, theoretically, to overthrow any of my views. It is exceedingly unlikely, sure, but the theoretical willingness to be convinced otherwise makes, I think, a huge difference in approach, and mitigates against condescension towards those of different views. The proof of this is my conversion. Obviously, I had to be willing to "seek," or else I would have stayed where I was, where I was pretty content and not particularly troubled at all up to 1990.

You have a position you defend, period.

No; I defend it, but am willing to change it; to follow the truth wherever it leads. Are you projecting your viewpoint on this onto me?  I am not a presuppositionalist. Perhaps that is the difference here.

By the way, just in passing, and "conversationally," just for your knowledge, I consider Molinism a heresy.  :-)

That's supposed to come as some surprise to me? LOL I don't see it as that different than Arminianism.

If you think written exchanges have the ability to allow for the kind of interaction that live ones do, well, what can I say?  It obviously does not.

I don't think it is obvious; sorry. I think oral debate leaves itself open to all sorts of techniques, sloganism, rhetorical excess, emotional manipulation, etc. It's not all bad; I just think it is inferior to writing, for the seeking of truth. Just my opinion. The apostles accepted oral tradition and oral preaching, so obviously it is not an absolute.

LOL.  That's amazing, Dave.  Changing topics.....sophistical methods.....have you had to work very hard to convince yourself of these things?


Let's see, you moved from topic to topic, but that's OK;

But I didn't. Here again is your inability to comprehend analogical argument.

I started with one topic, a well-known patristic issue and citation, and you didn't know about it;

I didn't have to know the particular citation (I took your word for it). I was trying to get at underlying issues, as is my wont (I like to deal with foundational premises). But with your rapid-fire approach, it made in-depth dialogue quite difficult. I do like speed to an extent (Tim was way too slow; he must be a very slow typer).

so, I moved to a second illustration of the same issue (which was quite relevant to the entire topic to begin with), that  being the Marian dogmas. This is sophistical?

You were introducing ideas which are very complex, involving development of doctrine and all sorts of unspoken assumptions - all Protestant ones. One has to define the differences and terms at the outset. That is what is proper to a real debate. Then you switched from actual to original sin (which I mentioned at the time). These are two different issues. You started talking about actual sin, and then you switched, without saying so.

I engaged you in a simple discussion of a basic issue, and you imploded, so it's MY fault.  I see.  :-)

I did no such thing. The discussion involved development of doctrine by its very nature, and that is not a topic designed for a quick-draw live chat (very very few Protestants even possess a rudimentary understanding of it, in my experience). I could explain it better with Tim because he asked an extended series of related questions. That is more constructive for explanatory purposes, in my opinion.

Expose my modus operandi!  Oh no!  Not THAT!  :-)

I think you do most if not all of these techniques without even being aware of them (whereas you would immediately say anything I do has to be deliberate - as you have many times above). They come as naturally as breathing to you. You're just a very clever, very sharp guy, skilled at live debates. you will defend your statements on the webcast?

I thought you meant the same format. No, per my reasoning above and in my paper about it recently.

Hmm, fascinating reasoning.  If our books are so poor, it would follow that exposing their errors in person would be rather easy, would it not?

Yes. All I am saying is that the best way to do that is in writing.

Dave, look....we don't get along, and probably never will.

Why is that? Why must you continually hurl insults? What's in that for you? Does it make you feel warm all over or something to cast aspersions on other people's motives? What makes you refuse all attempts at reconciliation, or all opportunities to apologize (which is the usual course of lasting reconciliation in human relations)? I have tried my hardest to avoid the first, and to attempt or do the other things.

If you had the intestinal fortitude to say, "Look, I'm a writer, not a speaker, and  I know enough not to get into an arena where I'm not prepared," I'd say, "OK, Dave, that's fine . . .

I thought this was common knowledge. I said precisely this to you in 1995 when I turned down your challenge to debate, and you mocked it then (you didn't respect it at all).


I wrote:

Finally, I am delighted and (I think) honored that you are eager and "happy" to debate me in public. I love debate, but much prefer informal, conversational Socratic dialogue or written point-counterpoint exchanges to the mutual monologues and often antagonistic and disrespectful affairs which pass for "public debates." I am not particularly skilled as an orator and lecturer, nor do I have the requisite desire to participate in that type of forum. That said, I would not want to publicly represent the Church to which I give my allegiance, but would rather defer to someone with more abilities for formal debate than I possess, so that we are best represented . . .

Lest you think I'm trying to evade you, however, I am perfectly willing, able, ready, and eager to engage you in debate on any topic you so desire either by letter or in your newsletter (if the latter, I would require prior editorial consent, due to the unscrupulous tactics recounted above). I would demand equal space in your newsletter, so that the fair inquirer could make up his own mind. You've observed my debating abilities in this letter and other writings I've given you, so I think you'll agree that timidity and fear are not my reasons for declining public oratorical debate.

White responded:
. . . I have to keep reminding myself that you are the same person who has declined my challenge to publicly debate. If you would "devour Salmon for lunch," Mr. Armstrong, wouldn't that make me a mere before-dinner snack, given my obvious inferiority to Salmon as a scholar? Sort of makes your protestations about not being an orator rather empty, don't you think?
George Salmon was an Anglican anti-Catholic polemicist of the 19th-century. I had previously made a humorous play-on-words on his name]

I went into all that with Tim when I originally turned him down, concerning live chat. My gift is not speaking, otherwise I would have developed it long before now, like many Catholic apologists (and been much richer for it). I have refused more than once to appear on Marcus Grodi's The Journey Home TV show, and that has nothing to do with a "debate" (plus I am generally uncomfortable talking about myself). I just am a writer through and through. Pure and simple.

That's not to say I couldn't do such a thing. I think I could do it and do it well, and learn to get good at it, but I have no desire to pursue it, and I recognize that others are far better at it than I am. It is a matter of motivation and calling. I try to follow the gifts that God has granted me in His grace and Providence. I was on the radio a few times (and a TV show, but on the phone). I talked about Jehovah's Witnesses (as a Protestant) and my conversion. I did fine, and I was pleased, but also in both cases it was more conversational, which I much prefer to straight lecturing (I've done that on occasion in small group settings). I'm all about conversation and dialogue. That is my love and forte. It's the Socratic ideal of knowledge and philosophy.

I accept your assertion, and simply ask that you  keep it in mind the next time you get the desire to take shots at me in  writing that such would probably not be the best idea."  Not everyone is
made for speaking clearly, quickly, and to the point.

I am unclear as to your point here. LOL

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You have the liberal-mentality victim thing down very well, Mr. Armstrong.

Ad hominem #6.

I only have to think for half a second about the reams on your website containing ad-hominem after ad-hominem to remember reality.

I guess you are referring to my paper about your ad hominem attacks on myself and others. But again, to expose that is not the same as doing it. It's true that you exasperate me to no end (i.e., when I think about you, which ain't all that often) because you won't apologize for anything and you are so disdainful of so much that I write and do. So if I have failed in this regard, it would likely be concerning you. I confess that. If you would just remove the stumbling-block of unconfessed sin, maybe I would do a lot better, it stands to reason.

I'm sure you are the victim...and John Ashcroft is a Klan member.  Uh huh.

Ad hominem #7.

What was it, then [the early Chuch] ? Rather like Phoenix Baptist Church?
It was what it was, Dave.  Thankfully, I can allow church history to be church history.  I don't have to make it anything other than what it  was.  :-)

That's nice Clintonian language, but you still haven't told me what it is. I say it is Catholic. You say it is . . . . ?

You know what I was talking about.  If you were to attempt to defend those notes, the error of your arguments would be clear.

I wouldn't have the slightest problem.

But I'm getting the clear feeling you will not do so on a webcast, but seek only a long, drawn-out typing fest.

Live chat dialogue or written exchange, yes. I've already tried something new with the live chat, whereas you continue to refuse written debates (and I probably would now, given your rock-bottom opinion of my abilities - I really don't see the point). I've been consistent on this all along. I've just added a new medium (and I thought it was a lot of fun).

Golly....let's see.  I'm "sophistical" for allegedly "changing topics" with you....but you want 90 minutes to ask me any question on any topic whatsoever.  Gosh, Socrates, am I missing something?

Yes. The difference is that you claimed (even above) to be dealing with one topic. Broadly speaking, yes, you were. But with such  complex and vastly misunderstood topics as Mary and development (probably the two worst), one must go very slowly. You were switching the sub-topics, almost with every question, whereas I would say it would take a good five hours to adequately explain what you were after (development of the Assumption). The 90 minute Q & A, on the other hand, is understood from the beginning to be "anything goes."

I question your ability to avoid ad-hominem,

Then you don't read my material very closely, or we have yet another dispute over definition.

but the fact remains I have invited you to defend your statements regarding the discussion
posted on your website.  I'm assuming you do not want to.

Not on some webcast, no.

....I'd be more than happy to answer your questions.  Sounds like something  that would be most enjoyable.

If you change your mind about the live chat, let me know. But my problems at this point are the heavy use of citations there and your extremely low opinion of me. I think both of those mitigate against a good, constructive spontaneous exchange which will later be of interest to website readers.

3. Thirdly, I require you to offer some sort of point-by-point answer to my last letter.
Baloney.  I have wasted far too much time today with this already.

Case in point.

This may be what you do all day long....

Late at night, actually. I was foolish enough to think I might be accomplishing something worthwhile (in terms of convincing you of anything). I guess I'm a hopeless dreamer and idealist.

Wait....I asked you to do a WEBCAST, not an online dialogue. Sheesh, talk about switching grounds!

Forgive me for not realizing that you were talking about something other than what we did on the 29th.

Good grief....look, I wrote for one reason: to invite you on our webcast to answer for your assertions on your website.  I'm looking for a simple answer: yes or no.


Nothing more. Will you, or won't you?

I won't.

Don't play games, don't respond with some huge insult-filled tome . . .

I suppose you will consider this reply some monstrous "irrelevant" thing. I can't win no matter what I do. I did notice a nicer tone in yours (which is refreshing), but curiously interspersed with the usual obligatory character assaults.

. . . complaining  about how you are such a victim and I'm such a meanie.

Ad hominem #8. I do no such thing. I discuss principles. When I talk about your lies about my "foul mouth" it is not in an aggrieved, victimized bleeding-heart liberal sense at all (I'm as conservative in outlook as one can get), but in an ethical and/or rebuking sense, that this is clearly wrong, and that you need to repent of it. It is far more for your good than for mine. But I think you assume that I couldn't possibly ever possess Christian charity towards you, so you miss the really profound reasoning for what I do from the outset.

Will you defend  what you have written on our webcast or not?  Yes or no?

No. My challenge to do some sort of writing debate stands, as it has since mid-1995. You have admitted that basically you think I am dumb and without substance. So why do you want to interact with me? Is it the common tactic of Protestants loving to talk to dumb Catholics, so their view can look better? Funny, if I am so stupid, that several Protestant lists have kicked me off, for no legitimate reason. If I had played dumb, you can be sure I would have been permitted there till Kingdom come, as the Catholic stooge and whipping boy. LOLOL The only person I ever kicked off my own list, which I moderated for a year, was a "traditionalist" Catholic (Feeneyite), and that because he was treating Protestants with much disrespect. I wasn't a hypocrite concerning free speech on my list, and we weren't scared of any Protestant. They could speak freely, and were treated respectfully by 99% of the people there. How different from my experience on Protestant lists . . .

[or, for that matter, in Bishop White's chat room, from which I have now been officially banned (see below) - and therefore greatly honored]

God bless,


At 01:25 AM 01/12/2001 -0500, you wrote:

You did at least offer a lengthy response. I give you credit for that, and I appreciate you taking the time. But then you fire so many shots at me that whatever good will could quite possibly have
been built up in your response is neutralized. It's sad. There is no hope for us. You are right. I have
tried, but you have such a low opinion of me and my work that any constructive dialogue is clearly
impossible under any circumstances and any format: written, oral, Morse Code, poems, sign
language . . .
Mr. Armstrong, one of the main differences between us is that I do not start my posts off by
presenting myself as a victim.  Your posts are riddled with what any semi-unbiased person would
identify as ad-hominem, and yet if anyone does not immediately crumple into a heap of quivering
post-modern slop seeking your forgiveness for being insulted by you, you accuse them of
mean-spiritedness.  Sorry, I'm not going to fall for your victimization.  The facts are simple:

[This is a technique of silly, insulting, and false characterization which Bishop White has utilized many times in the past with me, when it suits his purpose. I'm quite confident that unbiased readers of our ill-fated "dialogues" can see through this tripe and make their own determination as to what is really going on, both on the surface level of the arguments themselves, and (perhaps) the possible underlying psychological factors. Something is causing Bishop White to make these groundless, absurd charges. Whatever it is, it isn't my alleged "martyr complex," because no such thing exists. More on this, in my comment under #2 below]

1)  You first wrote to me years ago.  I did not go after YOU.

[Technically, I wrote - in 1995 - a two-page form letter to a number of Protestant anti-Catholic apologists, who were listed in a directory of evangelical counter-cult organizations, including His Eminence, the Rt. Rev. Bishop White. He chose to write a seven-page letter back - the only one who did (to his credit), and even sent me several of his books, so he is actually the one - in a certain sense (he never had to respond at all, like the others) - who initiated our lengthy one-on-one exchange which occurred at that time. He also first challenged me to public oral debate then]

2)  YOU started the complaining and ad-hominem right off the bat.

[I objected to anti-Catholicism - the purpose of my letter in the first place -, without recourse to ad hominem attack, as can readily be seen in the posted debate. Bishop White started ferociously attacking me personally as soon as I refused to debate him, just as he has done again in the current fiasco. And that is what I didn't stand for, as it is an insult and a disgrace for any person - especially an intelligent, educated  person like Bishop White, to engage in. He was "nice" only to the extent that he was hoping to hook me into an oral debate once again - and this seems to be a pattern he follows with many Catholic apologists. Robert Sungenis and Fr. Mitch Pacwa are currently debating White so he is as nice and respectful as he can be to them.  Steve Ray has consistently refused Rt. Rev. Bishop White's persistent offers, so he was severely attacked and accused of being deliberately dishonest in his papers. Karl Keating is not interested, so Bishop White repeatedly implies on his website that he is a chicken and a coward (likewise with Pat Madrid and James Akin). Dr. Art Sippo recently challenged Bishop White to debate, but the good Bishop declined, complete with dripping disdain and scorn, because Dr. Sippo won the first debate they had. Once bitten, twice shy . . .

I have consistently refused to do oral debates (or virtually any public speaking) my entire ten years as a Catholic. I oppose public debates between Catholics and anti-Catholics for many reasons, explained more than once on my website, in papers cited above. As soon as I declined Bishop White's second offer to debate orally, he saw no further reason to continue our correspondence - see below - and started claiming that I was presenting myself as a martyr and a victim. He appealed to his own mental lapse of somehow managing to forget what a dolt and dunce and boor I really was all along . . . This is an old, familiar tactic of his. He levels unrelenting, vitriolic, slanderous attacks publicly, the recipient rightly and naturally objects to the falsehoods and unethical and unsubstantiated nature of such charges, then the good Bishop charges that they have a martyr complex. The interesting and fascinating thing in my case is that Bishop White obviously has no respect at all for me, my reasoning abilities, or my alleged poor manners. That is the grounds he offers for his refusal to debate certain people; notably Vinney Lewis, Dr. Art Sippo, and Brother John Mary (a Feeneyite, I believe). Why, then, does he have the same low personal opinion of me, yet maintains his continuing and obviously intense desire to debate me?]

3) I showed I was not interested in such behavior by refusing to play your game.  You have had to call the exchange of a couple of letters a "debate" ever since then.

[That's right. My "game" in Bishop White's eyes (as far as I can tell) is engaging in mutually-respectful written dialogues - of which there are multiple dozens on my website. I recently played one of the Rt. Rev. Bishop's "games" by agreeing to chat live in his IRC chat room with  another Reformed apologist. The Bishop spontaneously asked me to dialogue "live" then and I immediately accepted - strange behavior if he was not interested in any exchange at all with me, as he now wishes to claim. This entire paper is also an oddity and curiosity piece, since all the Bishop's words were voluntary, and not forced at gunpoint or something. In fact, he initiated this discussion in his letter objecting to my treatment of the "Bishop issue." The live chat was a first for me, and I enjoyed it a lot. But the Bishop - perhaps unhappy with his mediocre performance in the chat - obviously thirsted for the "grand prize" of getting me into his favorite arena: the live, public, oral debate, where he can use all his well-developed "rhetorical techniques" of obfuscation, evasion, topic-switching, and sophistry to full effect, all to the rah-rah-ing of the all-important partisan crowds who seem to think that His Eminence Bishop White is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It looks to many of us Catholic apologists (as a result of many years of observation and personal experience) as if Bishop White is nice and polite to those persons who will debate him and whom he thinks he can "beat" in a debate. But if he himself gets bested in any exchange, written or oral, or is prevented from engaging in his precious opportunity by someone declining his invitation, then the fangs come out and the vicious attacks on credibility, character, intelligence et al appear at once (since any admission of defeat on his part is unthinkable: a lowly Catholic can never ever defeat a Reformed Champion of Truth in debate. In fact, it is impossible). If there is any "game" here, certainly this childish and transparently psychologically insecure method of Bishop White's is it]

4)  I have done all I could since then in light of certain aspects of your behavior to avoid interaction like the plague.

[Funny then, that on at least three occasions on Protestant Internet discussion lists, Bishop White just happened to show up to do battle with me, when other Protestants were finding it a little difficult to do so. I have documented this below, lest Bishop White suffer one of his unfortunate and all-too-common lapses of memory again. On the last occasion (on the Reformed List) he literally challenged me to debate right on the list, even though by then I had been muzzled by the moderator (for the "outrageous behavior" of simply defending myself against savage, scurrilous personal attacks from several of the anti-Catholics on the list). I was supposed to simply ask questions and "listen" to his replies. LOLOL. He also repeated the lie about my "foul mouth" at that time, which caused me to write the expose of his tactics (which I had tried to ignore publicly for over three years). Just a mere coincidence, of course, that we crossed paths these three times. His Eminence tries so hard, but he can't seem to avoid bumping into me now and then, despite his best intentions . . . Either the Bishop forgot what he thought of me the three times, or he has conveniently forgotten these anomalous facts, because they go against our personal history as he attempts to portray it now, so as to present me in the worst possible light - in order to again "reject" me "for good," for now the 4th or 5th time. And the good Bishop wonders why I classify him as a thoroughgoing sophist, as to his argumentative technique?]

5)  My website contains nothing about you for that very reason.  You are a writer who seemingly has endless vistas of time in which to write endlessly irrelevant diatribes that, if they are not dissected point by point, you claim are, in fact, "tightly reasoned" classics of Socratic logic and insightful patristic and biblical scholarship.  And if someone does point out obvious errors, well, poof! Mean-spirited angry Protestants!

[Here again is the silly, laughable "martyr tactic," alluded to twice above. The other guy is always wrong. That is Rule Number One in Bishop White's mentality. And if that can't be shown by the usual methods of rationality, biblical exegesis, or historical demonstration, then it must be done through falsehood, the insulting of the opponent's intelligence, and character assassination. The only good thing in all this is that his tactic has now been exposed for all to see. Only the most blind could fail to recognize his unworthy and un-Christian methods for what they are. And it remains my devout hope that a fair-minded godly Protestant friend of Bishop White's will rebuke him for this, for the sake of his own soul, and the good of his readers, who might be harmfully influenced by this sort of unethical and Machiavellian modus operandi]

It's a no-win situation, and I am still kicking myself for even thinking about hitting the "reply" button on the first e-mail from you regarding that dialogue.  I should have told TGE to let you know you all could dialogue in lots and lots and lots of places other than #prosapologian.  But we all have moments of weakness, I guess.

[Yeah; the ensuing dialogue was so terrible and unedifying that even one of Bishop White's own anti-Catholic moderators of his chat room was highly complimentary of its "civility" (her words were cited above). A second Protestant friend of his (also an Internet acquaintance of mine) expressed the same thing to me - in fact, sent me the chat transcript via e-mail. Among other things, this proves that other Reformed or non-Reformed Protestant apologists are much more capable of calm, rational, non-insulting discussion (with myself, at any rate) than Bishop White is. But that, too, goes against the party line of how Bishop White wants to falsely characterize me: as unable to discuss things with civility, as intellectually bankrupt, as one with a "liberal victim mentality" which inevitably surfaces in every discussion, blah blah blah.

So it follows that he must boot me out of his chat room so as not to prove yet again to fair-minded folks that he is utterly mistaken about me.  That must be avoided at all costs. There is nothing like free speech and true dialogue to dispel myths. Perhaps His Eminence, the Rt. Rev. Bishop White (this is only a sheer speculation of mine) - in his dripping personal disdain towards me - was convinced that I would make a fool of myself or "lose it" in the live exchange with Reformed apologist Tim Enloe, and/or that he would make short work of me himself when he challenged me on the spot (not according to any previous plan). Neither scenario happened (to vastly understate it), so that would be a possible reason to now kick me out. It didn't go according to plan. The Bishop (along with the sublime Glories of Superior Reformed Truth) was foiled again . . . . .

Furthermore, it will be observed that the brave and illustrious Rt. Rev. Bishop White had his chance to put me in my place, and demonstrate that I am as stupid and mentally vacant as he claims. I offered to let him question me for five hours or as long as he likes, in his own room, if I could just question him for 90 minutes (and he also had to answer my paper on bishops point-by-point, as a pre-condition; he refused that too, as seen above). All was to be recorded on my website for all to see. So this was his golden opportunity to expose and make a fool out of me and show that - as he says above:

You would never survive a one-on-one debate with me, because you can't defend your position without using obfuscation and rhetoric. You can't survive direct cross-examination, and what really bugs you is you know it.
Well, the proof is in the pudding, isn't it? I've been willing to dialogue in writing with His Eminence for over five years. He has refused (even though he has done so with many other Catholics). I was willing to interact with him in his chat room, as long as he likes. He has now refused that. This is not the behavior of a person so confident of sure victory, as he claims, and any protestations to the contrary are only so much hot air. If he can demolish me in debate, then he ought to "put up or shut up" and drop the ad hominem nonsense and testosterone-inspired chest-puffing. Whether his motive is only the noble defense of Christian truth as he sees it (which I readily grant) or triumphing over me and showing the world that I am a blithering idiot, or both, either way it was to his advantage to take up my offer, if he really believes his own rhetoric. "Live chat" is more like oral debate than written, so the advantage was already to him, in purely methodological terms, and with regard to previous experience]

So I apologize for even considering the idea of having any contact.  As they seem to say amongst
the young people today, "My bad."

[Well, this causes me to have to (joyfully) retract one of my longstanding complaints about Bishop White: that he never apologizes for anything, no matter how big or small of a matter. I stand corrected, and am delighted to see that the man has acted in accord with elementary Christian ethics and moral teaching]

You say you don't like a lot of things about how people obscure truth, obfuscate, etc. Actually, I
am right with you on most - if not all - of those. Most definitely. In fact, I see that we are very much alike in that regard. Our difference is how you characterize or classify my efforts.
And how you characterize MINE.  Keep the balance in sight, Mr. Armstrong: you have characterized
ME that way for YEARS.  I have absorbed your attacks and avoided the inevitable food-fight that
would follow in rebutting your materials.  I truly wonder: have you ever done the same thing in

[Yes, e.g., with Bishop White himself, for almost three years after my website was up (March 1997), after  he had sent my private letter around in a clearly-malicious attempt to harm me (May 1996), and had trashed and savaged my character and credibility up and down in our postal debate (May 1995). I had virtually nothing on my website about him, until he lied one too many times, causing me to decide to respond, such as Newman did when he was lied about by Charles Kingsley, resulting in his famous Apologia pro vita sua. As for others who have attacked me personally, I don't ignore them as Bishop White does. I think I show them respect, in that I am willing to publish their views on my website, with my response, in the dialogical format, and let readers decide for themselves what the truth of the matter is. It also advances the pursuit of humility, I believe, to deal with criticism, rather than ignore it as unworthy of any time investment. How can we ever learn, otherwise? We all have our blind spots about our own faults.

I dialogue with everyone and anyone about all kinds of  issues. Not everyone is - like the good Bishop - unable to stick to issues and prone to personal attack at every turn, with the slightest provocation. Bishop White prefers to ignore my writing, boot me out of his chat room, and go around lying about me behind my back about a one-time incident I apologized to him for (some people were fair-minded enough to send these instances to me, so as to hear the other side of the story). He apparently thinks his "absorption" is some sort of ethically-superior, noble, self-effacing behavior. I think it is simply hypocrisy and an inflated notion of his own importance. He collapses all critiques of his work (unless he thinks he has sufficiently answered them) into supposed personal attacks, then justifies his non-response in terms of Sermon on the Mount, "turn the other cheek" ethics. I find this technique reprehensible and unworthy of a serious apologist notorious for his constant baiting and touting of his own "invincible" debating abilities, as we saw above]

Or is there an article section about anyone and everyone who has ever mentioned you, even
in passing, on your website?  Please consider that a rhetorical question.

[There are very few of such articles on my site, of course, as it doesn't come up very often (I don't have all that much difficulty getting along with people from all walks of life and belief-systems, and not many people are offended by my writing - at least not according to my mail). But to the extent that such an issue does arise, I am willing to give the person their say, publicly, in accord with my Socratic approach and advocacy of free speech (whether it is a personal issue or strictly a difference of theological opinion). If Bishop White had glanced over my site for very long at all, he would have quickly figured this out. I deal with Bishop White because he is considered one of the leading anti-Catholic proponents out there, and an able debater. He trashes both Catholicism (as a wicked, non-Christian institution) and Catholic apologists (as, by and large, dishonest special pleaders and cowards), so it is only reasonable to assume that one of my duties as a Catholic apologist would be to deal with his false assertions, slanders, and fallacious arguments to some extent. I have done so. But even so, I don't view this as a personal thing (and I wish he could get that through his head). It is a battle in the arena of ideas and competing theologies and ecclesiologies. This current exchange could have been strictly about theology, but Bishop White wouldn't allow it to remain on that plane. It is Bishop White who seems to make all conflicts of ideas personal. E.g., Catholic apologist Steve Ray asked the Bishop if he would like to have lunch some time. Bishop White refused, saying that this would compromise the gospel!!!!!!!]

What I would call a long, thoughtful, comprehensive, point-by-point response (as long as necessary to correct all errors and fallacies that I see in an argument), you call meaningless verbiage, sleight-of-hand, useless rhetoric, adding up to "nothing," etc.
Yes, and if I felt it worthwhile, I could expand the examples almost endlessly of this very thing.

[Note how Bishop White agrees with this assessment of my writing! LOL When an apologist over-exaggerates the weakness of an opponent's arguments, he shoots himself in the foot. People can readily observe that my writing is far more than "nothing" - whether they agree or disagree with it. By characterizing it in such extreme terms, as utterly worthless, the Rt. Rev. Bishop White only causes people to be suspicious of his own ability to offer a counter-response, according to the old maxim from Shakespeare: "Methinks thou dost protest too much." But the truly humorous aspect of the Bishop's typically insulting and discourteous polemic is that he always "could" provide examples of his vapid assertions of the bankruptcy of the opponent's argument, but he never seems to ever get around to that laborious task, for some strange reason. He can always appeal to a lack of time, as many do, but we see that he had plenty of time to engage me on his Webcast or even in person on Long Island if only I had been willing to "play his game," as he says. As soon as the game is off of his court, he suddenly has no more time, and deems such an enterprise not "worthwhile"]

But I have to often remind myself that it is not my duty to rebut every false argument.  I used to think it was, when I was a younger man.  I no longer think that way, though at times I succumb to the temptation to try, in some measure, to do what I should not.

[I agree with this. One does have to choose their battles wisely]

I have to trust God's Spirit to lead His people as He sees fit.  I have had a number of folks contact me about your posting of my letters and actually warn me against "casting pearls before swine" in doing what I am doing even now.  I had three people say to me this morning, "You are wasting your time."  I will have to accept their counsel after this response.

[So now we get the high-sounding evangelical spiritual lingo and appeal to the Holy Spirit, in order to justify the sin of slander and to rationalize either inability, fear, or unwillingness to finish dialogues which the Bishop himself began. And I am a swine. LOL I could write an entire paper about "posting of letters," but I have dealt with Bishop White's rank hypocrisy in this area elsewhere, so I shall desist]

Mr. Armstrong, I have no interest, whatsoever, in continuing this with you.  I don't like you, and I
don't believe you like me.

[One generally and naturally doesn't "like" people who lie about them at every turn and direct towards them the most ridiculous of insults, yet despite all, I try to exercise Christian charity as far as humanly possible - and with the aid of God's grace - towards such an obstinate, difficult man. I do desire only the best for James White, and that is the definition of Christian love, as I understand it. I have apologized to him on many occasions, even stood up for him in some ways in correspondence with fellow Catholic apologists, and also have complimented him in various ways, as can even be observed above. He has done no such thing to me, ever - not a single time. If he doesn't despise me (speaking hypothetically), nothing in his words towards me would suggest otherwise (though I don't positively make the claim, as I don't delve into others' hearts and motives). Even when I rebuke him, it is with the hope that he will see the error of his ways, repent, and reform. Whether he believes this or not, or chooses to pretend I am lying about it, is irrelevant in terms of my determination to keep desiring his best interests and spiritual welfare]

Until a few weeks ago I had followed the path of wisdom and avoided every entanglement with you.

[This is simply not true, as mentioned above. Since this is again asserted, and is demonstrably false, I shall now document  beyond all doubt Bishop White's actual behavior.  Again, he shows himself to be in possession of either a very faulty memory, or a highly selective one (whereas my memory is very good; rarely distorting matters of fact):

In an e-mail to me, dated 9 May 1996 (the very same day that he accepted my apology for using
two "bad" words in an e-mail to him - which he sent to several Catholic apologists), the Bishop wrote:

Greetings! This message is an invitation to you to join in a new mailing list entitled "sola-l." The list is specifically for the discussion of the doctrine of sola scriptura, from biblical, theological, philosophical, and historical viewpoints. The list will be by invitation only. If you are receiving this post, you are invited. At this time approximately a dozen people have been invited to participate, including Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, Assemblies, and plain-ol' evangelicals. While the Protestants are in the majority, the Roman Catholics invited to participate comprise some of the "best" with whom I am familiar . . .
Strange, if it had already been determined that I was not worthy of any further interaction. Above, Bishop White claimed that: "I have done all I could since then in light of certain aspects of your behavior to avoid interaction like the plague." In context, the time of "then" was May 1995, when our postal debate ended: a full year before the above invitation to participate on his sola Scriptura list. I was on that list for several months, and Bishop White did not totally "avoid interaction" with me "like the plague" then, either. In fact, I have posted on my website several exchanges from that period, with Bishop White and also fellow anti-Catholics Eric Svendsen and Philip Johnson, who also participated. Later, the apparently not very stable-minded Bishop supposedly "excommunicated" me from all personal contact with him, for the second time, in a letter dated 3 December 1996:
Dave, I don't trust you as far as I could throw you, to be perfectly honest with you. You are no different than the Crusaders of old, you just don't get to use a sword to hack me to pieces (and get a plenary indulgence in the process!).

I do not believe that you were being honest, kind, or anything other than your old self when you wrote what you wrote in the list. Your intentions were obvious. When "caught," you dissembled. Period. All the protestations to the contrary are meaningless, since this is NOT the first time you've taken this route. Eventually, wisdom demands that you don't believe the untrustworthy.

Now I suggest that you quit playing the martyr, gird your loins, drop the ad-hominems (if you can even imagine that), and get on with meaningful issues. I've challenged your view on real presence and transubstantiation on the list. Quit wasting people's time with your petty grievances and get to work.

Note again the simultaneous despising of me personally, yet desire to debate me on the list - his own challenge, which I refused to take up because of his manifest hostility, which again flies in the face of the Bishop's present revisionist assertions that he wanted to "avoid interaction like the plague" after May 1995. If  I am so ignorant and unimportant in Bishop White's eyes, why does he keep seeking to debate me? Yet now he wishes to deny and revise this personal history of interaction between us. I'll give the Bishop one thing: he is a fascinating person to observe. The greatest novelist could never dream up the fantastic behavior he exhibits, or come up with his mythical re-characterizations and equivocations regarding his own behavior at a later date. But that isn't all. Much later than that, Bishop White again challenged me publicly (note that he is the instigator in all these examples), on the public Reformed List, on 3 March 2000 (less than a year ago) with some 175 members, as alluded to above:
From: James White <>
To: Save Address
Subject: Re: CRTA-L: Heart-to-Heart w/ Dr. Gus
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000 17:16:07 -0700

Dave, I do not condone the attitude that many have expressed toward you.
However, having been, myself, the object of your wrath in the past, including
profanity, I have a hard time stomaching this martyr-like behavior.

This was the public slander about the "profanity" incident which convinced me that I needed to expose Bishop White's  repeated smear tactics, with regard to an incident I apologized for, and which had occurred almost four years earlier, at that time - long "under the blood," as evangelicals say. Note that any defense of oneself against gross slander is absurdly characterized as "martyr-like behavior." Even Bishop White admitted that there had been unjust treatment of me on this list by "many."
I am new to this list.
Yes, as mentioned above, he showed up just at the time I was being slandered and attacked up and down, and was in the center of a storm of controversy, about a dreaded Catholic actually being allowed - horrors!!!!! - to express opinions freely on a Reformed list.
As I understand what I've seen, you have the right to ask questions.  OK, ask.  :-)
How about we deal with the section of Scripture that PRECEDES Rome's favorite
section in John 6?  Possibly compare the sacramentally-oriented position of Rome
against the actual teaching of Christ regarding man's inability? Semi-Pelagianism is the watchword for many who do not pledge their allegiance to Rome these days, so maybe it would be beneficial.
I mentioned above that I had been muzzled by the moderator by this point. I was not allowed to express my opinions, but only to (unbelievably) "ask questions," as Bishop White alludes to above (as if this is a legitimate method of having a constructive discussion). He seems to get quite a kick out of this ridiculous constraint as well, like a guard of a political prisoner poking and tormenting the prisoner who is in chains and cannot respond. I guess this is Bishop White's idea of a fair exchange between us. So he was altogether willing to do this (note how many possible topics he throws out), despite supposedly having decided to "avoid interaction like the plague" almost five years previous to this incident. He even mocked me when I decided to leave this list out of principle, because I couldn't "talk," as if this implies some cowardice on my part (silly also because I had been taking on an entire list of 175 largely anti-Catholic Reformed Protestants prior to his arrival, and I was still considered a threat - such is the present low estate of self-confidence of educated Protestants). LOL

But on the other hand, when I give him the opportunity to question me for five hours, he declines, because it would also mean that he would have to be questioned for a mere 90 minutes and actually answer a paper of mine point-by-point for the first time ever. That would never do! What gives? One can see why Bishop White doesn't like written exchanges, given his highly inconsistent, erratic, eccentric, and incoherent past behavior, which can easily be documented, to devastating effect.

Lastly, when I challenged Tim Enloe and also Bishop White to a live chat debate in December 2000, he replied (as seen above) with: "I would be interested."But then, I suppose that was during one of his apparently frequent mental lapses when he had forgotten his former resolve and supposed history of refusing to interact with me ever since May 1995]

I erred in moving from that path.

[As he often did, contrary to his own recollection, as seen above . . . ]

You will undoubtedly claim "victory" and shout loud and long about my supposed inability to respond to your "tightly reasoned" arguments.  So be it.

[I don't have to claim "victory" - all I have to do is document Bishop White's continued refusal to engage in any sort of dialogical exchange except his favorite: live oral debate. Readers can easily make their own conclusions as to his methods and shortcomings and our relative abilities and willingness]

I know different,

[The good Bishop  may believe he "knows" a lot of things, but unfortunately for him, the rest of us don't buy what he "knows" unless he demonstrates it; out here in the real world; somewhere besides the self-serving, self-glorifying world he has created between his ears]

and what's more, I think, somewhere down inside, you do too.

[I guess that's why I offered to let Bishop White question me all night long if he should so choose, because I know he can beat me in a debate. Yeah, right. Makes a lot of sense . . . Insecure people do stuff like that all the time, right?]

Continuing to attempt to reason with you is likewise foolish: if you write an angry e-mail, like
yesterday, and I reply to it, the next day you'll use the calm, rational response, and upbraid me for being nasty.  No matter what I do, the end is the same.  I knew this years ago.  My memory must be failing or something for even making the attempt.

[Like I wrote above, Bishop White is always right. Every event is interpreted in order to put his pitiful opponents in the worst possible light. So he can insult me up and down when I respond to his unsolicited, voluntary objection and that's fine. When I get angry and respond  to the ridiculous treatment, then I am a martyr (how dare I be so uppity as to question obvious Reformed superiority! I must be aware of my proper place!). His vicious ad hominem attacks are simply the truth, while my vehement, completely justified objections to same are where the real problem and ad hominem fallacies lie. I try to be more nice and conciliatory and open when it seems that Bishop White is being at least a bit more courteous than usual, but to no avail. What I regard as conciliation, he regards as a mere ploy designed to trap him. Etc., etc. The man doesn't trust me as far as he could throw me, as he said in 1996. But through the entire painstaking, mysterious process, one thing remains constant and certain: I am always wrong, and the Rt. Rev. Bishop White is always right]

I'm going to ask you to join me in promising to stay as far away from each other as possible.  I'm not asking you to not respond on your own website to what I write or doing whatever you want to do when speaking, etc.  I am talking about personal interaction.  Stay out of #prosapologian.  Don't write to me.  Don't ask to do dialogues, debates, or anything else.  You just do your thing, and I'll do mine. OK?

[What choice do I have? :-) But this has been far more my outlook than his, anyway, through the years. It was Rt. Rev. Bishop White who has repeatedly attempted to bait me all these past five years, while I tried my best to avoid him. I refused his "challenge" on the Theology List when he publically insulted me and basically called me a deliberate liar. I refused his silly "offer" on the Reformed List when he acted in the same fashion and wanted to do a farcical "one-way debate" where I had no freedom to express my opinions. He wanted to dialogue with me spontaneously in the recent live chat. I agreed, but the point is that it was Bishop White, not I,  in all these instances, who pursued interaction, contrary to his fanciful revisionist story now that he has sought to avoid me like the plague for five years. He challenged me to defend my views on his webcast, and I refused, because of philosophical objections to the format, which I have explained at great length on my website. He challenged me to a possible live debate on Long Island, which I refused (the same occurred in 1995). Now, for some reason, he wants to again run from my proposal to have a real interaction in "live chat," heavily lopsided in his direction (which I knew I had to propose in order to have any remote hope of him accepting at all).

But of course all of this is my problem, not his. After all, I'm the ignorant Catholic and apostate. Will I lose any sleep over this great loss of not having my character savaged any longer by the good Bishop? Hardly. I've posted our one debate now, and readers can see who got the better of that exchange. I have shown how the Bishop routinely operates in an ethically inconsistent fashion in another paper. And now I have demonstrated (though originally I was hoping for some semblance of normalcy in our relations, and to avoid all this nonsense) who truly is willing to dialogue and subject their beliefs to intense scrutiny and who isn't. All of it goes on my website, for observers to make up their own mind about the odd behavior and argumentation of this strange, complex, and fascinating man, who fancies himself an invincible debater.  I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bishop White - if he never is inconsistent in any other matter - is always consistent with his own methodology of personal attack and evasion of any sustained and successful rational critique of his own work. This, to me, spectacularly confirms the intellectual bankruptcy of the anti-Catholic viewpoint]

Let's leave the issues to those who have a true interest in such things,

[Yes; I see that the illustrious Bishop has little interest in the issues, or else he would have gladly taken up my offer to chat live. Many others do, and they are able to engage in discourse without constant recourse to charges of the nefarious motives and idiocy and pomposity of their debate partners]

and given that our personalities are such that we cannot possibly co-exist in the same space (physical or cyber....we'd kill each other on Survivor!), let's not obscure the issues with our personal clashes.  I think that is a fair request, one that would advance the cause of truth no matter how one views the debate.  No one needs to waste their time thinking about our inability to get along.  That's just the way it is.

Dave, I pray God's best for you, and health and blessing upon your family,

[I don't take such a dim and pessimistic view. I happen to think that all people ought to reconcile and try to get along. I believe that slander and lying about a person and insulting their intelligence are sins that ought to be repented of. This is the fool's way out: "we can't do anything about our problems, so let's give up." If James would simply be the slightest bit willing to consider my repeated attempts at reconciliation, I think we could easily patch up this ugly mess in one night. But it takes two. Even God doesn't violate our free will. I've done all I can, humanly speaking, to try to reason with James, and demonstrate that I am not the unscrupulous and arrogant scoundrel that he seems to think I am. Bigotry and lying come from below, from the one who wants to destroy both unity and truth. I'm not saying that Dr. White is not a Christian, or follows the devil; simply that those behaviors are not inspired by the Holy Spirit. So until such time as he is willing to "negotiate" - let alone engage in serious theological discussion, I have no recourse but to expose his manifest ethical errors, in hopes that some conscientious Protestant reading these things will rebuke Dr. White for these tactics, and urge him to refrain from them in the future. I also wish Dr. White and his family all of God's blessings. I pray that God will reveal to him the truths of both the theological issues and the personal issues between us, as I am obviously unable to persuade him at all - and that, conversely, God would reveal to me any falsehoods or sinful motives concerning which I have deceived myself]

Postscript: Justification for the Public Posting of These Exchanges

1) The correspondence was witnessed by three other observers, all Protestants, so it was never strictly "private" in the first place. The "negotiations" were forwarded to many more people than that.

2) As James White has continued to publicly slander me (and shows no signs of stopping), and refuses to retract the slanders or to apologize for anything at all, even the slightest matter, this exchange is publically important for the purpose of illustrating that attempts at reconciliation have indeed been made, but entirely rebuffed by Dr. White. Hopefully, pressure from fair-minded individuals concerned for Dr. White's spiritual state will cause him to reconsider his sin and to repent.

3) This is important as a telling and tragic illustration of the bigoted and condescending tone and actions of anti-Catholics, generally speaking, where Catholics are concerned. We can talk about these strong tendencies in the abstract, but there is no substitute for actually seeing the derision and needless, irrational hostility in action.

4) As Dr. White has never admitted that his sending of a private letter of mine (in which I used two "bad" but relatively quite mild words; I apologized and he forgave me) was an impropriety, therefore I conclude that he has no objection to the posting of his own letters, in this instance far less personal than mine which he took it upon himself to pass on to others.

5) I mentioned in the exchange itself that I was going to post it on my website, and Dr. White did not make any objection at the time. In fact, he seemed to give express permission ("I'm not
asking you to not respond on your own website to what I write or doing whatever you want to do . . . . . ").

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Uploaded by Dave Armstrong on 16 January 2001.