Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Armstrong Correctly Predicts ...

"... I will hear the usual droning complaints about the length of this paper, and a bunch of hooey about my supposedly straying from the topic, as it is ..." (source) (consider it commented, that's 27 pages if printed on normal paper and adjusting font size up from 8.5 to 12, and there were plenty of off-topic excursions)

What's even more impressive, though, Dave managed to keep the personal issues largely minimized. Good work!

Having dealt with the matters of form (mostly in Dave's favor), let's turn to substance:

1) In the first few paragraphs, Dave provides a brief excursus on the term "bishop." It's an interesting topic, but not particularly germane here.

2) Then in the next two-and-half paragraphs (and table list of Bible versions), Dave defends against an imaginary argument in which S&S supposedly accuses Dave of importing "bishop" into the text. Of course, unless S&S edited the post between then and now, the argument simply isn't there. And Dave does not quote any such argument from S&S.

3) Next, in a paragraph (and block quote of - who else - Dr. White) Dave suggests that S&S's use of cross-referencing is similar to Dave's own cross-referencing.

4) Subsequently, in one paragraph Dave asserts that the explanation above showed that S&S was engaging in "eisegesis" because S&S used "overseer/elder" rather than "bishop" in explaining the sense of the text. The reader is left wondering if Dave recalls what the word "eisegesis means.

5) After that, in a paragraph Dave argues that S&S is presenting a biased interpretation, while from the other side of the paragraph, asserting that everyone does. Point of the paragraph? Apparently Dave wants to point out that everyone has biases.

6) Next, Dave claims that S&S is all over the map, and that - while this is ok by Dave - Dr. White would consider it improper.

7) Then, Dave spends a paragraph on YEC (the relevance being that S&S recognizes the truth of YEC). Apparently, Dave thinks his readers will find YEC distasteful.

8) Subsequently, Dave essentially agrees with the rest of S&S's own exegesis of the verses.

9) Dave then makes an argument to the effect of: "suppose we grant the "invisible church" explanation: how does it work?" This is a strange question. Does Dave not know how Reformed churches (whether Presbyterian or Congregational) work? Dave also "what is this truth?" (emphasis removed) We refer Dave Armstrong to the answer Pilate received to the same answer in John 18:38.

10) Next, Dave asserts that he asked a similar question to Dr. White in 1996 and that Dr. White has not answered the question since. Perhaps Dr. White was following Jesus' example, or perhaps Dave missed Dr. White's answer. In any event, Dave continues with a block quote from Dr. White, and an assertion that Dr. White's commentary is vague.

11) Dave continues by asking "how can they speak of one church unified in truth, given their own ecclesiological chaos and doctrinal relativism, brought on by innumerable competing truth claims amongst themselves?" This question, of course, is loaded. Dave's charges of "ecclesiological chaos" and "doctrinal relativism" are simply his assertions -- not something that he established. Dave follows the question with a lengthy block quotation of a dialogue of his with Dr. White some time ago.

12) After the block quotation, Dave concludes that his "what is this truth" question remains unanswered. Dave ironically accused Dr. Erik Svendson, saying that he "hemmed and hawed and switched the topic, and obfuscated and indulged in obscurantism and other forms of evasion." The irony of that charge can be seen from the leading quotation of this post, as well as the conclusion below.

13) Dave then, in another paragraph, reasks the question, "What is this truth?" and adds to it: "So what good is a "church" that cannot answer this question? In what sense is it a "pillar and foundation of the truth" at all?" Of course, Dave's argument is non-unique. He does not offer an alternative in which the question can be answered better than Jesus answered it.

14) This apparently reminds Dave of something he wrote in earlier remarks on the perspecuity of Scripture, and consequently he provides a lengthy block quotation of himself.

15) Finally, Dave disagrees with S&S's conclusion, asserting: "I have just shown that this is an impossible position for a Protestant to take, because it has no discernible meaning and content. Protestants are forever condemned to theological relativism (in many areas, not all) because of their false first premises (sola Scriptura, private judgment, supremacy of "conscience" over against the authority of received Christian Tradition)." Unfortunately for Dave, he has not "shown" any such thing. Dave has asserted such charges, but has not provided the reader with any reason to accept them as true.

16) In a four paragraph flight, Dave argues that S&S assumes certain definitions without demonstration. Dave argues that both "truth" and "church" have a degree of semantic range in Scripture. Dave, however, seems to have forgotten that these are "his verses," and consequently the burden of production is on him. The semantic range arguments, consequently, actually enhance S&S's critique. Dave concludes by asserting that the sense of the words is of little consequence because, "In what sense does the doctrinal chaos and inability to unify on so many doctrines in Protestantism constitute supporting (the one) "truth"?" Again, this is a loaded and non-unique question, and consequently cannot constitute a meaningful rebuttal.

17) Next, in two paragraphs, Dave asserts that the "High Church Misinterpretation" identified by S&S is derived from the text of Scripture (which S&S has demonstrated is not the case), and asks the same questions noted above.

18) After a block quote from the introduction portion of S&S's post, Dave argues that the book is being treated as something which it was not, stating, "I merely stated the Catholic belief, as here. I wasn't trying to defend it."

We assume Dave will contact his publisher who describes Dave's book thus:
Armstrong shows that a fair-minded reading of each of these passages (and of the whole Bible) supports the Catholic position on the key issues that divide Protestants from Catholics. Here is Biblical evidence that Catholicism is right about the nature of baptism, the communion of saints, the Eucharist, and the Church; the authority of the Pope, the Bible, and tradition; the salvific role of faith, good works, relics, purgatory, and Mary; the immorality of divorce and contraception; and much more.
After all, we would not want them to falsely advertise or misrepresent the purpose of his book.

As well, we can assume that Dave will revise his own summary/introduction of his book, which states: "I will be asserting - with all due respect and hopefully a minimum of "triumphalism" - the ultimate incoherence, inadequacy, inconsistency, or exegetical and theological implausibility of the Protestant interpretations, and submitting the Catholic views as exegetically and logically superior alternatives."

It would also be good for Dave to kindly move "Catholic Verses" from the "Apologetics" category if it is true that: "I merely stated the Catholic belief, as here. I wasn't trying to defend it."

19) Dave nevertheless continues by attempting some form of defense against S&S's critique. Blockquoting TheoJunkie (who called it), Dave agrees that he does not claim that the church is the source of truth, but merely a "preserver" of truth. Dave mentions that he used the term "ground," and points out other people who arrived at the same conclusion.

20) Next, in three paragraphs, Dave asserts that he gets infallibility of the church from the Jerusalem council. Of course, as Dave notes, this really goes to another section of his book.

21) Dave denies that the church is the clerical orders, and states: "Catholics believe also in the consent of the faithful or the sensus fidelium." One wonders whether Dave accepts Vatican I as one of the ecumenical councils of the Roman church. If so, what remaining value does sensus fidelium have, if the pontiff's authority does not depend on it? We could go further with this, but a lampoon is unnecessary. The sensus fidelium is an inherently unworkable tenet within modern Catholicism.

22) Finally, in a further paragraph, Dave admits that the verse may mean what S&S says, but reiterates the questions posed above about alleged Protestant lack of unity.

23) After rehashing a couple points noted above, Dave distinguishes the OT priests from NT clergy, because the OT priests were - according to Dave - not given infallibility. One wonders what Dave thinks the Umim and Thumim were for. It's rather ironic that Dave has it backward: the High Priest and the Prophets did have access to a divine oracle (High Priest) and were verbally inspired (the Prophets): Ben16 does not have such an oracle and is not inspired.

24) After a lengthy block quotation from a previous dialogue Dave had with a Baptist, Dave asserts that the Saducees were the "Bible Alone" folks of the Old Testament time (which is neither relevant to the discussion, nor true).

25) In the words of Armstrong, "The rest is of little importance, or reiteration of topics already dealt with" and consequently there is no need to rehash it any further.


The primary argument that Dave makes is to ask questions: "What is this truth?" (which has been answered, though not the way Dave would like, by Jesus) If Dave will complain that he did not mean "what is truth," but rather "what is the truth on such-and-such an issue," then Dave's question defeats both Roman Catholics and Protestants alike: for neither claims to have provided answers to every conceivable question. If Dave will further complain that he did not mean on every conceivable question, but only on say some particular question of his choosing, we are ready to give an answer, and Dave knows that.

Dave's lengthy, frequently off-topic post does not establish 1 Timothy 3:15 as a "Catholic Verse." It shows that Dave did not build his ecclesiology on 1 Timothy 3:15, but attempted to impose his ecclesiology on 1 Timothy 3:15. It demonstrates that S&S's charge of eisegesis was justified.

(link to S&S) (link to Dave)

Praise be to God who has provided us with a columna et firmamentum of truth.

In firm defense of the truth, against the ipse dixit-al errors of Sola Ecclesia,



Carrie said...

Excellent recap!

Dave Armstrong said...

You were born too late. You would have been great typing out synopses of baseball games over the telegraph, in the days before radio.

Turretinfan said...


Wouldn't that be "tapping out synopses"? :) In any event, thanks for taking the time to comment and compliment. I'm sure you're typing speed must far outpace my own.

I hope you bothered to read the substantive portions contained on the relevant lines of the blow-by-blow account.


Turretinfan said...

From Dave's own combox:
"Yes, TF did a rather silly running cynical commentary on the structure of my argument. Nowhere does he actually engage the argument itself. Apparently this will be the modus operandi."

Apparently that answers my hope with a clear "no," i.e. it is clear that Dave failed to read the substantive portions contained on the relevant lines of the blow-by-blow account.

Surely Dave would not have read them and then falsely claimed that "Nowhere does he actually engage the argument itself." To do so would make Dave a liar, and Dave - as they say - is an honorable man.


GeneMBridges said...

One of Dave's persistent problems is that he makes elementary category errors on a regular basis.

Discussing the lack of unity in the "invisible church" is a nonargument. The "invisible church" refers to those whom God, via His infallible knowledge alone, knows are truly regenerate. It refers to the aggregate of those who have made a saving profession. It does not refer to those who have made credible profession of faith. A saving and credible profession are not the same thing. They intersect.

An appeal to "unity" is an appeal to a visible phenomenon from his own perspective. So, the right grounds for him to make this objection is not from the perspective of the invisible church, but visible churches. Visible churches are instances of the invisible church, insofar as at their core is, assuming the churches are not apostate to the core itself, a regenerate membership. Even Paedo and Credo-baptists agree on that much - there can be no true "visible" church without a core of regenerate persons to constitute it, from which its officers are drawn, etc.

So,the right grounds for this objection is to address the alleged lack of unity between visible local churches. This, of course, overlooks the idea of fundamental doctrines and types and degrees of error. Dave, one would hope, would be familiar with the body of literature available on that subject, Francis Turretin being one such key figure in that discussion.

Further, the Protestant rebuttal to Rome is not that our rule of faith (and that is the real issue here, is it not) is not superior to that of Rome. Rather the rebuttal is that (a) we are not concerned with a priori theories about what a rule of faith should address and do, but what is the "true" rule of faith, and (b) consequently, our rule of faith is on epistemic par - for, has Rome's rule of faith been able to maintain the "sensus fidelium" to which Dave appeals? Isn't Dave really more conservative than his communion's own hierarchy? Do we really need to list all the splinters within Catholicism? Among Catholic lay apologists, there is a good bit of diversity isn't there?

Dave Armstrong said...

Of course I am a liar. Peter Pike (aka "CalvinDude") said so, and he can't be wrong, can he? But you have no reason to believe anything I say, so kindly disregard this comment for your own good. LOL

GeneMBridges said...

Ever notice how Dave will walk past an actual argument in order to defend his honor.

One cannot tarnish a rusted blade.

Dave Armstrong said...

What honor???!!!

After all, James White, Eric Svendsen, and David T. King have all made it clear that they think I am a foul-mouthed, oath-breaking, deliberately deceptive liar and all-around scoundrel (Frank Turkl also asserted that but took it back one day and now thinks I am just a clown). Certainly you can't hold that all these distinguished Christian gentlemen were wrong about that, can ya?

They also think I am not worth anyone's time for any reason. I guess that is why their good buddy James Swan is doing a series of reviews of my New Catholic Answer Bible right now, on White's blog.

He claims he hasn't taken me seriously for several years, so one wonders why he spends so much time analyzing my material?

Turretinfan said...


The answer, of course, is:

We distinguish between writings and writers.

You may not be someone that Mr. Swan may want to have over for dinner (I'm not saying that's so, I'm hypothesizing abstractly), but the errors you make in your writings could still be worth pointing out - if only as representative of similar errors that have been made before or elsewhere.


Turretinfan said...


Your post slandering James Swan was rejected for publication.

Try keeping your comments short and to the point to avoid this sort of problem.


Turretinfan said...

As the saga continues, Dave admits to reading S&S's subsequent posts (link) something he claimed he was not going to do.

And of course, the entire premise of Armstrong's post is absurd: Armstrong mischaracterizes Schaff, and only refers to Schaff as an historical authority when he thinks it is helpful to him.