Jonathan Prejean has posted his final reply:
“I can't see excusing the use of an argument that is unsound in and of itself based on its function anything other than sophistry.”
Sorry, but this is just plain silly. Of course I can use an argument I don’t believe in. It’s just a matter of context.
It would be dishonest to use an argument I don’t believe in to prove my own position. And it would be dishonest to pretend to believe in an argument I don’t believe in.
But there’s nothing wrong with using an argument I don’t believe in to disprove the opposing position as long as that’s an argument my opponent believes in.
And no one reading this thread can be under the illusion that I believe in the argument I’m using as applicable to my own position.
One of the ambiguities here is that we’re really talking about more than one argument. In the case at hand, there are three different arguments in play:
There’s Prejean’s argument against Reformed determinism.
And there’s the parallel argument of Perry Robinson and Daniel Jones against any deterministic theological system, which would be equally applicable to Calvinism and Catholicism.
Then there’s my ad hominem argument. My ad hominem argument makes use of the other two arguments. It deploys the Orthodox version of the argument against the Catholic (a la Prejean) version of the argument.
I do believe in my ad hominem argument. But, of course, what makes it an ad hominem argument in the first place is the distinction between Prejean’s argument and the way I turn his own against him.
Prejean’s upset because he thought he had a silver bullet against Calvinism. He’s been firing this bullet at every Calvinist he could find.
But now he’s shot himself in the head with his own silver bullet. For the inner logic of the argument is equally applicable to such Roman Catholic schools of thought as Scotism, Molinism, and Banezian Thomism.
So now he’s in a quandary. On the one hand, he can try to salvage his own position by distancing himself from Catholic tradition.
On the other hand, he can indulge in special pleading by applying a double standard to Calvinism and Catholicism.
Both escape maneuvers are desperate, but because he’s in desperate straits, he has resorted to both.
It’s also embarrassing for him because it exposes a rift between Prejean and his Orthodox homiez.
When push comes to shove, they will defend Orthodoxy at the expense of Catholicism, and if Prejean gets in the crossfire, they will sacrifice his pawn for the cause of Orthodoxy.
“But I am ultimately the arbiter of what I am ‘supposed to believe;’ indeed, I can specify what that term means by ipse dixit. Unless you are interpreting ‘supposed to believe’ in the very way that the person does, then you haven't showed a conflict. At best, you've made an argument for why the label ‘Catholic’ is confusing for others, but that doesn't have anything to do with rational argumentation, so it isn't ‘fair game’ at all. This is why I subjectively consider most Protestant arguments against particular Catholics useless. The Protestants have some idea that Catholicism is a monolith that can be imputed to each individual, but that's not the way Catholicism works.”
“I’m the ultimate arbiter!”
How very Protestant! Sounds just like the right of private judgment.
Eric Svendsen has been saying this about Catholicism for years on end.
No, an individual Catholic qua Catholic doesn’t have the right to define what is Catholic for him.
As soon as he does that, he becomes a de facto Protestant.
He may still be a Catholic in many of his beliefs, but his methodology is Protestant.
At that point he’s only an accidental Catholic. Where his beliefs just to happen to coincide with Catholicism.
If Prejean wants to be a one-man show, that’s fine with me. But it’s really funny to see him accuse me of being unfair because I hold a Catholic to institutional standards of faith and morals.
Prejean’s radical individualism is that very antithesis of Catholic identity—although, as Svendsen and others have long pointed out, it’s unavoidable in practice.
“In particular, there is nothing wrong with saying that even large number of individual Catholics have made mistakes.”
Back to blatant special pleading. If a Calvinist does it, it’s heresy—but if a Catholic does it, it’s just a “mistake.”
Moreover, this is not just a question of what individual Catholics believe. We’re talking about entire schools of thought within Catholic tradition.
And while the Magisterium has never ruled in favor of one, it has never ruled against the others.
If one or more of these schools of thought is even “materially” heretical (another face-saving distinction), then it is the duty of the Magisterium warn the sheep.
Otherwise—what’s the point of having a Magisterium? After all, these positions have been kicked around for centuries.
“Hays is entirely wrong about me wanting to ‘discredit Calvinism as a whole.’ All I want is to know truly and accurately whether certain Calvinist beliefs do or do not entail a belief identified in the historical records as being condemned by the Council of Chalcedon that bears the label Nestorianism. That's it.”
One would have to be very naïve to believe this disclaimer. Why should he care whether Calvinism falls under the condemnation of Chalcedon unless there’s something bad about falling under the condemnation of Chalcedon?
Prejean acts as if his opponent is under a solemn obligation to be gullible. And it would no doubt confer a tactical advantage if he had credulous opponents to debate. But I’m not about to play dumb for Prejean’s benefit.