Thursday, April 14, 2005

The bang without the bullet

Back when I was a kid I used to own a cap gun. When I pulled the trigger, it would spark and smolder and make a lot of noise, but of course, it fired no bullets. Throughout this thread, Armstrong has been shooting back with a cap gun. There's been a lot of fire and smoke and loud banging noises, but no bullets, no arguments, no evidence. Instead, he's been breathing a pure laughing gas of undiluted evasion and invective. So there's nothing substantive for me to respond to.

"Anyone who took a single course in logic would have a very easy go of it, and could make mincemeat of his endless fallacious claims and non sequiturs."

Ah, yes, this is what he always says, but never does. What someone never does what he says he can do, what is this if not an empty bluff? Just a friendly word of advice to Armstrong: if you're going to bluff your opponent, don't play poker with your back to the mirror.

Remember Baghdad Bob, his head framed by American army tanks in the distance, defiantly insisting to the world that our troops had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Saddam's glorious military? Armstrong tells the reader over and over again that there's nothing to my arguments, yet he never shows the reader that this is so.

"There's nothing more I can possibly do."

Actually, Dave, there is. Defend your position by reason and evidence. Or maybe you can't. If you could, you would. End of story.

"I ask again: is there any Catholic out there who has the slightest question that my policy of not dialoguing with these people was the correct one?"

This is a fascinating admission. So the only audience he really cares about is his Catholic audience. That is quite a confession from a self-styled apologist and evangelist. By any accepted definition of the word, an apologist is someone who comes up with reasoned arguments for his position and against the opposing position. He comes up with positive arguments for the faith, fields objections to the faith, and raises objections to the opposing position.

But Armstrong has steadfastly refused to do the work of an apologist in his exchange with me. His ministry is for Catholics only. "Anti-Catholics" begone! Away with you! Unclean! Unclean!

There are "Evangelicals" who convert to Catholicism, or contemplate such a move, because they are taken in by the kind of gauzy, soft-focus, pastel-tinted, Brideshead Revisited version of Catholic nostalgia advertised by Armstrong and other starstruck converts to Rome.

It has been the aim of my exchange to show that this is a half-baked compromise and--where possible--push them off the fence. For if they are going into Catholicism for conservative reasons, then they are going in under false pretenses. The RCC has become the world's largest liberal denomination. There's a residual conservatism on a handful of token social issues, but don't let that obscure the degree to which Rome has made a hard left turn.

But don't take my word for it. Why, while Armstrong was ducking my objections at every available opportunity, he posted something on his blog from his fellow convert to Catholicism, Robert Sungenis, who, among other things, said the following:


How Mr. Likoudis can live with the unprecedented aberrations this pontificate has promoted without registering these complaints in public is mind-boggling. Here's just a partial list:

- A pontificate that prays with pagans and encourages pagans to pray to their false gods for mundane favors.

- that doesn't once preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them for the saving of their souls.

- that sanctions voodooism and other such abominable religions.

- that gives high-profile jobs to known pedophile protectors (Cardinal Law).

- that fails to rid the seminaries, chanceries and universities of homosexuals, and fails to deal with bishops who sanction and perpetuate homosexuality and homosexual priests.

- that fails to discipline heretical and immoral prelates, but pounces on others who seek to adhere to the Traditional Church.

- that teaches that the Jews have their own covenant with God, and need not convert to Christianity, and that the Old Covenant has not been revoked, in direct opposition to Scripture and Tradition.

- that strongly suggests by carefully chosen language that most, if not everyone, will be saved

- that signs joint statements with Protestants that have the Catholic side agreeing to the statement "justification is by faith alone" (Section 2C, Annex, JD)

- that allows the production of Catholic bibles (NAB) and commentaries (NJBC) that question or deny major tenets of the Catholic faith.

- that promotes the idea that Scripture has historical errors and that the Gospels are anti-semitic.

- that has consistently refused to consecrate Russia, by name, as Our Lady requested in 1929, and pretends that the consecration has already been performed and that the Fatima apparitions are passe.

- that has never completely released the Third Secret of Fatima, even though Our Lady commanded it to be released as far back as 1960.

- that promotes a Mass to conform to Protestant sensibilities, and gives lip service to the Traditional Mass.

- that has weakened the wording of certain sacraments.

- that says, in certain instances, the consecration formula is not necessary to confect the Eucharist.

- that allows women to act like priests and parade on holy altars, and hold positions of high authority in dioceses and universities.

- that teaches that husbands and wives are to be in "mutual submission."

- that promotes altar girls, even after it promised not to do so.

- that teaches our children that they descended from apes as if it were a fact of science.

- that makes life very hard for those who remain faithful to pre-Vatican II traditions.

- that teaches that the United Nations is the best hope of mankind (even though the UN promotes abortion, population control, contraception, euthanasia, and many other moral atrocities)

- that, instead of recognizing its own faults, makes profuse apologies for the actions of past popes and saints.

- whose policies of ecumenism are an unmitigated failure. (Recently the 22 nations of the European Union rejected the pope's request to add the phrase "Europe has traditional roots in Christianity" into its constitution, yet Europe has been the focus of this pontificate's "ecumenism" for the last 25 years).


Does this sound at all familiar to you? Have you ever read this sort of thing elsewhere? Has this pattern been repeated before? Of course! The RCC is going down the very same lockstep street to destruction as the other mainline denominations.

Oh, but there's a crucial difference. When other mainline denominations liberalize, the faithful leave and form a traditional, breakaway denomination. But, of course, you can't to that in Catholicism. That would be a big no-no. That would be schismatical.

Sungenis is a classic case of an "Evangelical" who converted to Rome for conservative reasons, only to make the unsettling discovery that he is to the right of the denomination he joined. He finds himself in the rather awkward position of trying to save the papacy from the Pope.

Now, this is not to say that absolutely anything goes in Rome. The Vatican has cracked down on some radicals and reactionaries. Yet this had less to do with their theology than with their challenge to the magisterium. As we've seen in the Episcopal church, bishops may not believe in Biblical authority, but they still believe in episcopal authority. Liberals in power protect their own prerogatives.

Again, there are degrees of liberalism. Liberalization is an incremental process--a stealthy, gradual, sneak attack. It doesn't happen overnight. There is a softening up process. JP2 wasn't a liberal in the same sense that Bultmann was a liberal.

Indeed, what you have in a guy like JP2 is a man with one foot firmly in modernity, and another foot firmly in the Middle Ages. He doesn't believe that Isaiah or Daniel foresaw the future, yet he does believe that the BVM foresaw the future at Fatima.

This is illogical, of course, but it's the sort of illogicality that is permissible within a rather provincial and ingrown religious community, such as the Polish Catholicism in which he was reared--or in various Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist communities.

And all this liberal drift and slippage is incipient in the veiled and diplomatic modernism of Vatican II. That's why there's no turning back the clock.

Understand, then, that if you are an Evangelical of sorts who supposes that Rome can conserve all you value in Evangelical theology, then appearances are deceiving.


  1. Catholics have their fights for sure. I could post so much protestant dirty laundry but I won't bother. The key question: "Is there any way to know for sure who is right?". Don't say the bible because everyone has a reasonable biblical basis for their belief.

    The catholics at least have a history that ties them to Jesus. They have a consistent teaching that affirms not only the bible but the church as a covenant community for all generations. Should be obey better. Yes. Still catholics have to obey God. Protestants can always just reject a doctrine they don't like. The just redefine obedience to be whatever they like. Some theologian has always written some exegesis to give you biblical cover.

  2. Randy, have you ever made the effort to find the pith and marrow of a subject? Any subject? With Biblical doctrine it can be done, and it has to be done. The catch is it requires the Spirit of Truth in you for you to even WANT to know the truth let alone be ABLE to find it and know it.

    The Bible is indeed the authority and Standard, and a very effective and able Standard. Your various statements and belief that the Bible is nebulous in meaning and will endorse what anybody wants it to endorse is just dead wrong, but to see that you have to make the effort to engage the Bible in a complete way and absorb it and understand what it is saying.

    God regenerates a soul, but you can read His Word humbly, dedicatedly, and thereby put yourself in the environment where regeneration is potentially effected by the Word and the Spirit. I would add that it doesn't hurt to engage many higher influences while you're at it. Homer, Shakespeare, classical historians, Plato. Give yourself shocks to awaken yourself. Only God can awaken you in the sense of a real new birth, but you can move towards God in the meanwhile and you do that by engaging ever higher influences and ultimately the Word of God itself.

  3. Xeno, I have engaged the bible on a huge range of issues. I was raised protestant and believed it was the only rule of faith. Still disageements abound. I mean between sincere, prayerful, intellegent chrisitans. They can have huge disagreements about what the bible says. It broke up the church in which I was raised. In fact it has broken up every protestant church many times over.

    Reading God's word humbly and dedicatedly. I think I do that. I guess you can always do it better. The church should make the bible more powerful in you life. It has in mine. If you embrace the bible and reject the church you leave to much room to choose your favorite interpetation. When obedience gets hard the temptation gets very strong. Maybe you are so holy and so sure of what the bible says you don't have this problem. I do.

    Still some people embrace the church and reject the bible. That is wrong too. The church provides the basic truths but the bible is more personal than that. We need to let scripture soak into our soul. That is what the popes and saints have said. The fact that many catholics don't do it is sad.

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