Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Catholic shell-game

The PP has a really fine post on the Catholic shell-game over religious authority--now you see it, now you don't. He does an excellent job of boarding over all the fire exits. Check it out:

Faith & family

Here’s an edifying object lesson in how a family of theologians has lived out its faith in the midst of the ordinary and extraordinary adversities which confront many believers.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

How Did I Miss This?

How did I miss this? Yesterday I was talking with a colleague about the Feinberg brothers at TEDS, when he said something about the death of Paul Feinberg. I couldn’t believe it! When I checked the facts I found that Paul had passed away more than a year ago in February of 2004. At that time I was deeply involved in trying to learn the intricacies of a new job, and news of his death never came to my attention.

When I was in doctoral studies at TEDS, I took a course from Paul on “Case Studies in Theological Problem Areas.” Rarely have I had a professor who was better equipped to teach his subject. Paul was a highly competent theologian (with a Th.D. from Dallas) and philosopher (ABD at that time from the University of Chicago). He wrote cogently on eschatology, dispensationalism, ethics, and bibliology, among other topics.

He was a defender of the faith who was active in the inerrancy debate. He helped to found the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. He was also a defender of dispensational pretribulationism, a theology that was out of style through most of his career. In the sometimes harsh debate between presuppositionalism and evidentialism, he took the middle ground by advocating a “cumulative case” approach (I believe that was what he called it) that was invariably stated with grace.

Among all of my teachers, he was one of the most genuinely human. He invited us to share his personal and even private concerns, and reciprocated by displaying a genuinely humane interest in our struggles. When I knew him, his father (Charles Feinberg, the famous dispensational theologian) had reached the point at which he was no longer able to live alone. Paul was struggling with the decision of how best to care for his father. He sought our counsel and took it seriously.

One of my classmates asked Paul why his father had left Dallas Theological Seminary. He answered with a grin, “My father always said that Dr. Chafer could only give two grades: an A with a smile or a B with an apology.”

I was learning from Paul at the very time when Norman Geisler was attacking Murray Harris over his views on the resurrection of Christ. Of course, Paul knew both men very well. He thought that Geisler was creating a tempest in a teapot, but what struck me more was his handling of Geisler. There wasn't a shred of contempt or defensiveness on Feinberg's part, even though the two of them disagreed sharply. He spent half-an-hour in class one day explaining why Geisler tended to argue theology in the way that he did. I went away understanding both Geisler and Feinberg better.

Paul Feinberg was a good theologian, a good teacher, a kind and gracious person. I am embarrassed that I did not know he had been called home. I count myself privileged to have studied with him.

Dr. Kevin Bauder is the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary,


Where Is God: A Personal Story of Finding God in Grief and Suffering (Paperback)
by John S. Feinberg

Book Description
Almost invariably, there comes a time when pat answers even from trusted friends can’t begin to respond to your suffering. For John Feinberg that moment came in 1987, when his beloved wife was diagnosed with an incurable, genetically transmitted disease.

Where is God? tells of John’s struggle to find peace and God, in the midst of the life-rocking storm. The journey to truth has been long and hard, but Feinberg’s painful experience has affirmed God’s faithfulness.

Unlike other books by Dr. Feinberg, this book is rather informal and personal. He recounts his reaction to some horrible news in his family and what he has learned from it over the past 18 years. He also explores how fellow Christians can help others who are hurting while offering some hope for those who are currently dealing with tough times. His story is touching, and after reading it I feel better-equipped to help comfort and support those who are hurting in the church.

Everyone will enjoy this book.


You've prayed for God's will. You're living for him. And still, you encounter pain like you've never imagined. Doubt threatens to shatter your faith at its core. What then?

Almost invariably, there comes a time when people's pat answers can't even begin to respond to your suffering. When all the Sunday school lessons and sermons about God's love seem shallow, even mocking. When hope gives way to soul-jarring anger and severe, relentless questions.

For John Feinberg, that moment came in 1987, when his beloved wife was diagnosed with an incurable, genetically transmitted disease. One that may potentially and tragically affect their children. One that is beyond any human control.

Within the telling of his story, the author goes head-to-head with the painful issues aroused by suffering and grief: Can God be trusted? Does his silence mean disfavor? Is hope an illusion? He also shares how not to help the afflicted and explores the "uses" of suffering, particularly in a Christian's life.

The journey to the truth has been long and hard, but Feinberg's painful experience has affirmed for him God's faithfulness--even in the most wrenching and incomprehensible of circumstances. You too will find truth and hope and the strength to go on in this reassuring book.

Friday, August 12, 2005

From the war front

It's hard to get solid info on the war. Even the conservative coverage generally consists of pointy-headed pundits far removed from the thick of battle. Below is one of the better milblogs I've run across. If you blush in the presence of blue language, don't read it, but most of the blue language is not coming from the soldiers, but from the pampered liberal moonbats who rant and rave in the comments box.

Drinking with a moderate Muslim


I got a call from an active duty SEAL buddy yesterday afternoon letting me know he was going to be in town for the night. He and I also went to high school together so we met at a friend’s house had some barbeque and started catching up over some beers. At some point in the evening, I met a 28 year old Egyptian guy who was born in the US. He was a friend of the host, but I didn’t really get a good look at him right away as it was dark outside when he showed up.

The GWOT was a major topic of discussion as my Teammate and I spent much of the time catching up on what’s happening in the Teams, and who is doing what and so forth. The conversation somehow turned to the Israeli-Palestinian situation and out came the whole issue of the most silent majority on the planet… the moderate muslim. It was at this point, my acquaintance made his presence known.

He claimed to be one of those vaunted moderates that hates radical islamists and abhors terrorism. My question to him was, “Why don’t I ever hear anything from this vast moderate majority?” His answer was to say, “Because the media won’t report it when we do speak out. Besides, George Bush says that most muslims aren’t radical.” That answer was an interesting one, and I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to it.

He asked me if I supported Israel against the Palestinians, and I told him, “100% without reservation.” Which was clearly not what he wanted to hear. He was basically regurgitating the full revisionist meme about the land being stolen from Palestinians by the British and the Jews. My beer soaked mind could only think to say that essentially the Israelis were attacked on all sides and kicked a** in all directions. They won their land fair and square, not to mention the fact that this was the second time they had to do it if you count Joshua leading the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. And I do. He didn’t like that either.

Then I put the question to him, “What are YOU doing to fight against radical elements that are ‘hijacking’ your religion?” His answer, “What can I do?” Since he speaks Arabic, I asked if he had offered his abilities to the FBI to help translate terrorist intercepts. No. Ever volunteer to go and check out a mosque for the FBI to see if there are any questionable activities going on? No. I told him that even if he went into mosques just to rule them out as hotbeds of jihad and reported to the authorities, he would be helping to prevent resources from being squandered. That was all I could think of as I was like six beers deep at that point. Who knows what kind of slurring screed I was riffing on at the time; I’m just reporting what I can recall.

I ended up drinking and talking with the guy for several hours after that and he turned out to be a great guy. The earlier contentious conversation was disappointing because while I believe him when he says he is against radical jihadis, he had clearly been spoon fed much of the “muslim victim” pap from the likes of CAIR and others. He was uninformed and even spewing propaganda about Israel that while didn’t reach the level of terrorist support, certainly was the type of rhetoric used to support those activities. I know I mentioned that the Palestinian’s goal is to annihilate all Israelis, but I never did get a response to that.

The lesson learned was that we are going to have to wait a long time for moderates to take charge of islam and reform it to the point that jihad is no longer in fashion. I guess we better just keep killing the terrorists wherever we find them.


Inking the missing links

To a layman like me, it looks like the Darwinist is filling in the missing links with paper and ink. Evidentally I'm not alone in that suspicion:

"Transitional Vertebrate Fossils"

A criticism frequently levelled against Darwinism is that there are no transitional fossils linking one species with another. Darwinists strongly reject this charge and the talk-origins "FAQ" by Kathleen Hunt entitled 'Transitional Vertebrate Fossils' is perhaps the most robust defence of this issue from a Darwinian point of view.

Hunt begins her "FAQ" by drawing a distinction between transitional fossils that show a 'general lineage' and those that demonstrate 'species-to-species transition'. The latter she defines as 'a very fine grained sequence documenting the actual speciation event.'

This is a courageously unambiguous definition and one that leads any rational person to expect that Hunt will then present evidence for such a 'fine grained sequence' that documents an 'actual speciation event'. Unfortunately, however, that is not what is presented in her "FAQ".

Take, for example, one of the most important and earliest transitions that Darwinists claim took place, that of primitive jawless fish to sharks, skates and rays. This is the evidence that Hunt actually offers us: (I have highlighted certain words in red)

Transition from primitive jawless fish to sharks, skates, and rays
• Late Silurian -- first little simple shark-like denticles.
• Early Devonian -- first recognizable shark teeth, clearly derived from scales.

GAP: Note that these first, very very old traces of shark-like animals are so fragmentary that we can't get much detailed information. So, we don't know which jawless fish was the actual ancestor of early sharks.
• Cladoselache (late Devonian) -- Magnificent early shark fossils, found in Cleveland roadcuts during the construction of the U.S. interstate highways. Probably not directly ancestral to sharks, but gives a remarkable picture of general early shark anatomy, down to the muscle fibers!
• Tristychius & similar hybodonts (early Mississippian) -- Primitive proto-sharks with broad-based but otherwise shark-like fins.
• Ctenacanthus & similar ctenacanthids (late Devonian) -- Primitive, slow sharks with broad-based shark-like fins & fin spines. Probably ancestral to all modern sharks, skates, and rays. Fragmentary fin spines (Triassic) -- from more advanced sharks.
• Paleospinax (early Jurassic) -- More advanced features such as detached upper jaw, but retains primitive ctenacanthid features such as two dorsal spines, primitive teeth, etc.
• Spathobatis (late Jurassic) -- First proto-ray.
• Protospinax (late Jurassic) -- A very early shark/skate. After this, first heterodonts, hexanchids, & nurse sharks appear (late Jurassic). Other shark groups date from the Cretaceous or Eocene. First true skates known from Upper Cretaceous.

Notice that, where we are promised a 'fine-grained sequence documenting an actual speciation event,' what we are actually given is conjecture and suppositions like:-

'. . .clearly derived from

'. . probably not ancestral, but gives a remarkable picture . .'

' . . shark-like fins . .'

' . . Probably ancestral . .'

' . . more advanced features but retains primitive features . .'

' . . a very early . . . '

Notice that these and similar frequently-used phrases are not scientific terms, They are undefined Darwinist code words, used to suggest or imply that there is strong or direct scientific evidence of a relationship -- other similar phrases are found throughout the "FAQ", such as 'mammalian tendencies' ' and 'bear-like features' Other handy terms and phrases used to explain fossil features that don't fit the Darwinist theory include 'vestigial' and this truly magnificent one, 'Another early mustelid, but has some rather puzzling traits that may mean it is not a direct ancestor of later mustelids.' Puzzling, indeed.

In every case, these terms are used without any evidence to support them other than the trivial fact that there is some physical resemblance -- the argument from homology. But as pointed out elsewhere, if you relied on homology as a guide you would conclude that the human foot had evolved from the human hand, or vice versa -- something we know cannot be true.

Moreover, on top of all these weasel words, Hunt actually admits from the outset that there is a gap in the fossils and adds, without a trace of irony,

'So, we don't know which jawless fish was the actual ancestor of early sharks.'

In which case, one is bound to ask, Then what the Dickens is this description doing in a "FAQ" purporting to give concrete, species-to-species examples of transitions between jawless fish and sharks?

What is true for jawless fish is true for every single species and every single 'transition' on Hunt's list. And the reason is the same in every case. It is because when a convinced Darwinist looks at the fossil evidence and talks of 'transitions' he or she means something quite different from what any ordinary, objective reasonable observer means. So what exactly does a Darwinist mean by the word 'transition' and what does an objective reasonable observer mean?

Darwinists believe that one species turns into another species through a process of genetic mutation combined with natural selection. This is necessarily a gradual process, one that happens over the generations. So that if you examine the offspring of any particular generation, it will not seem so very different from its parents. But if you examine the offspring distant by, say, one hundred generations, or one thousand generations, or ten thousand generations from the original species, then you will see a major difference.

But when it comes to evaluating fossils, looking for this difference, there is a difficulty that doesn’t exist with living species. You can tell whether living creatures are members of the same or different species by carrying out a laboratory test (such as artificial insemination) to see if they are physiologically capable of breeding. If they are so capable then they belong to the same species; if they are not, they belong to different species. Unfortunately, however, it is impossible to apply the breeding test to animals known only from their fossils.

It is also possible to sequence the DNA of living or recently dead creatures and make a comparison of their DNA to see how closely related they are. But again, DNA testing (of the 'Jurassic Park' kind) is not available for fossil animals.

What this means is that there remains only one valid scientific test that would enable an objective observer to claim that one fossil is related by descent to an earlier fossil and that is an unbroken (or practically intact) chain of evidence linking the earlier and later fossils.

It is sometimes said that this demand is for an impossibly high standard of evidence -- like expecting an archaeologist to find an intact tomb of Caesar or Cleopatra with their personal diary beside the body. The reality is somewhat different.

Three-quarters of the Earth's land surface is covered with sedimentary rocks. A great proportion of these rocks are continuously stratified where they outcrop and the strata contain distinctive fossils such as sea urchins in the chalk and ammonites in many Mesozoic rocks. The case for Darwinism would be made convincingly if someone were to produce a sequence of fossils from a sequence of adjacent strata (such as ammonite species or sea urchins) showing indisputable signs of gradual progressive change on the same basic stock, but above the species level (as distinct from subspecific variation).

Ideally this should be demonstrated in a long sequence, ten or twenty or fifty successive fossil species, showing major generic evolution - but a short sequence would be enough. But this simple relationship is not what is shown in the sequence of the rocks. Nowhere in the world has anyone met this simple evidential criterion with a straightforward fossil sequence from successive strata. Yet there are so many billions of fossils available from so many thousands of strata, that the failure to meet this modest demand is inexplicable if transitions have taken place in the way Hunt describes.

It ought to be relatively easy to assemble not merely a handful but hundreds of species arranged in lineal descent. Schoolchildren should be able to do this on an afternoon's nature study trip to the local quarry: but even the world's foremost paleontologists have failed to do so with the whole Earth to choose from and the resources of the world's greatest universities at their disposal.

This is the reason that a genuinely objective observer says there is not a single transition known. And when Darwinists assert that there are many such transitional fossils what they really mean is that they have found isolated fossils that look as if they are intermediate between one species or another ( 'probably', 'shark-like' 'tendencies', 'mammal-like') -- therefore, they must be evidence of transitional species, because Darwinism predicts such fossils.

Or they mean that they can find limited physical variation occurring in a true fossil line of descent (shells getting a little longer or a little shorter) and try to claim that this amounts to 'speciation' -- just as they do with living varieties such as the peppered moth or Darwin's finches.

This is a kind of circular evidence -- evidence by argument -- that would not be permitted in any other university department or in any other branch of science. Yet it is not only tolerated in Palaeontology, it is actively taught and encouraged.

What then is the scientific status of the detailed schemes of descent that Hunt and other Darwinists have drawn up over the past century?

When you have before you a massive amount of data, especially data that is generically similar, it is very easy to perceive patterns in that data that look like 'sequences'. All that is necessary is to take the data that does not fit your 'sequence' and file it away in a drawer labelled 'Not yet decided', 'status unknown' or simply 'unsolved problems'. In reality, if the data in the file drawer were added to the so-called sequence data, any objective observer would quickly see that there isn’t a developing series but a mass of contradictory details.

This pitfall entraps scientists constantly. In the recent past some Israeli professors of mathematics have published a book asserting that the names of twentieth century people can be found encoded in the Bible -- and so they can, if you select the data to fit your theory.

Of course, this is not to deny the sincerity or integrity of the scientists who sincerely believe they have found such evolutionary sequences -- just as the Israeli professors sincerely believe they have found Adolph Hitler in the Bible.


My recommendation to those responsible for maintaining the talk-origins "FAQ":-

This "FAQ" should be returned to Kathleen Hunt and she should be asked to remove from it all conjecture, baseless assertions and guesswork based on trivial superficial similarities.

Wherever she wishes to assert a relationship between two species, she should be asked to produce direct evidence (as distinct from conjecture) first that they really are two species, not merely varieties, and that there is an unbroken chain of intermediate variation of the type predicted by Darwinism in the intermediate strata between them.

She should be asked to remove undefined cod-scientific words (such as 'mammalian tendencies' and 'shark-like' ) and replace them instead with terms defined according to established scientific principles.

Whatever is left after this process is the sum total of human knowledge on transitional fossils.

The seal of the false prophets

According to Islam, Muhammad is the seal of the prophets (i.e. the final prophet). From the standpoint of Christian theology and church history, it would be more apt to dub him the seal of the false prophets.

Jihadism goes straight back to the word and example of Muhammad himself. For some excellent documentation on the subject, see:

The Hyperventilations of Steve Camp (an occasional series)

[The following blog post is by Jus Divinum]

Yesterday, I wrote:

"As I've said elsewhere, any legitimate cause can be pursued with idolatrous priorities, such that the primary mission of the church gets undermined. But that's not the issue (if it were, I'd be presenting a completely different set of arguments, asking the critics of ECB to support their sociological generalizations about allegedly idolatrous priorities with cold, hard facts)."

Speaking of specious sociological generalizations, try this one on for size. It's from Steve Camp:

"The New Perspective of Paul, Open Theism and Brian McLaren's Postmodern Emergence are three of the most deadly heresies to come on Christianity in hundreds of years. But they pale in comparison with the inroads that the political movement championed by Dobson, Colson, Mohler, Land and Parsley are now leading. Why? Those other heresies are gravely damaging, no question, but they remain academic in nature and haven't won the hearts of the general populace yet. That doesn't minimize their leavened condition, but the average churchgoer is not even aware of those issues. But, the political movement among evangelicals has captured the hearts and minds of millions of Christians across our land, virtually dumbing-down an entire evangelical/protestant church, rendering them as obtuse and biblically moronic to what the Scriptures say about the churches role in these matters."

Yes, you read that right. Recent prominent attacks on the doctrines of justification, God, and our historical theological heritage "are three of the most deadly heresies to come on Christianity in hundreds of years," but "they pale in comparison" with what the 'ECB Fab Four' are doing. In other words, ECB is worse than the most deadly heresies to afflict the church in modern times. Let's look at the fallacies in Camp's characteristically over-the-top statement:

First, Camp says that "those other heresies... remain academic in nature". Who is he kidding? Ask the churches which have split over the New Perspective whether that problem "remains academic in nature". Ask pastor John Piper if open theism "remains academic in nature". Ask D. A. Carson whether the emergent church phenomenon "remains academic in nature". (This last claim is particularly egregious. Was the emergent church phenomenon ever 'academic' in the first place? Perhaps Camp could name a few dissertations or academic journal articles in this regard. As far as I can tell, these guys are averse to making their case to or in academia.)

Second, Camp says that the political efforts of ECBers have resulted in something, namely, "virtually dumbing-down an entire evangelical/protestant church, rendering them as obtuse and biblically moronic to what the Scriptures say about the churches role in these matters". Yes, according to camp, the entire evangelical and Protestant church (in America? in the world?) has been dumbed-down. The entire evangelical and Protestant church is biblically moronic. And this can be attributed to ECBers as sole historical cause. Does Camp have even a ghost's chance of making this claim plausible, through any credibly sociological research? But no, Camp doesn't have to bother arguing his points, apparently. Just fling any old wild claim out there, and hope it sticks.

Third, what's that you say? Camp didn't say that the ECBers have dumbed down the entire church in every respect? Rather, what he said was that ECB has rendered the entire church obtuse and biblically moronic to what the Scriptures say about the churches role in these matters? Hmm, but then that vast qualification would undermine Camp's whole claim that ECB is deadlier than the deadliest three heresies of modern times, wouldn't it?

After all, even if we concede to Camp that ECB misleads the church on its relation to culture (something I have little reason to concede), that would only be a rather peripheral matter. Unless... Camp's priorities are so perverse that the church's relation to political endeavors ranks higher than, say, justification, the doctrine of God, and the rejection of our entire historical theological heritage. That's right! If you're confused enough to want to do your small bit as individual Christians in our society to work lawfully and peacefully to outlaw partial birth abortion and gay marriage, you're worse than the guys who reject sola fide and divine providence/omniscience!

Could it be that Camp's priorities are that perverse? By all appearances, yes. What else could account for the ranking he gives above?

If you read Camp's post linked to above, you'll see that according to Camp, it doesn't matter how many churches have been split over the New Perspective, open theism, and the emergent church phenomenon. What's "catastrophically profound" is not any of that, but rather that one evening service of one SBC church on one particular Sunday night is addressing some political matters, in part, by allowing a Roman Catholic to speak. (And, note well, not even preach, much less preach what is being advertised as the gospel. Neither of these things is the case.) Now, I happen to disagree with having JS2 on a Sunday, and with it being advertised as a worship service, and with having a Roman Catholic participate in said worship service. This is all bad, in my opinion. It could have all been done on a Monday, and without it being advertised as a worship service. But to make this single event the sole plank in your argument that ECB is worse than the three deadliest heresies in modern times, is utter foolishness.

Can someone, somewhere please post a real argument for Camp's conclusion? Personally, idea that Mohler, Dobson, and Land are guilty of heresy more deadly than Open Theism or the New Perspective gives any sane reader a good reason to ignore most of what Camp writes on the subject.

Machen on Christian cultural engagement

Here's a companion piece to the email about John Calvin to which I posted a link yesterday. It's a quotation from J. Gresham Machen's "Christianity and Culture":

It is true that the decisive thing is the regenerative power of God. That can overcome all lack of preparation, and the absence of that makes even the best preparation useless. But as a matter of fact God usually exerts that power in connection with certain prior conditions of the human mind, and it should be ours to create, so far as we can, with the help of God, those favorable conditions for the reception of the gospel. False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root. . . What is today matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires. In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combated; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassionate debate. So as Christians we should try to mould the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity. . . . What more pressing duty than for those who have received the mighty experience of regeneration, who, therefore, do not, like the world, neglect that whole series of vitally relevant facts which is embraced in Christian experience—what more pressing duty than for these men to make themselves masters of the thought of the world in order to make it an instrument of truth instead of error? (Machen, “Christianity and Culture,” 162-163)

The civil wars of Popery

Papist Civil Wars Are Alive and Well (Can a Leopard Change Its Spots?)

Let's briefly note a few of these "worse than absurd" disagreements between fellow Romanists currently taking place on the Internet (obviously nothing has changed in some 1700 years: Catholics fought each other then and they continue to do so, and split and form new factions). The following are not mere examples of gentlemanly disagreement: they are uncivil, acrimonious exchanges characterized by personal remarks at the expense of the other's honesty, sincerity, intelligence, basic knowledge, etc.

The discord largely derives from the bankruptcy of the notions of Magisterial judgment and sola Ecclesia. Those were the Romanist principles, so I place primary blame on what has happened by way of endless division and schism, right there. False premises can be just as deadly in the long run as sin and corruption, etc., because a lie is a bad thing, and the devil is the father of lies.


The Donatists and Novatianists Live:

"Traditionalist" and Schismatic Catholics

Pensées on Catholic “Traditionalism” (my book; available in PDF or Word 2000)

Dialogue: The "Traditionalist" Disdain for the Second Vatican Council: Is it Consistent With Catholic Tradition? Is it Binding on All Catholics? (With Copious References, and a Discussion of the Infallibility and Sublime Authority of Conciliar and Papal Decrees and Pronouncements) 189K

Conciliar Infallibility: Church Documents 23K

Protestant Contra-Catholic Revisionist History: Pope St. Pius X and Cardinal Newman's Alleged "Modernism" (Dave Armstrong vs. David T. King) 94K

Dietrich von Hildebrand and Legitimate Catholic Traditionalism 45K

Dialogue on "Salvation Outside the Church" and Alleged Catholic Magisterial Contradictions (Particularly in the Middle Ages; With Emphasis on St. Thomas Aquinas's Views) 81K

A Defense of the Ecumenical Gathering at Assisi (Ecumenism in St. Thomas Aquinas)(Fr. Alfredo M. Morselli) 35K

A Response to (and Wonderment at) Criticisms of the Second Ecumenical Gathering at Assisi (2002) (Mark P. Shea) 25K

Dialogue: Should the Pope Kiss The Koran?: Ecumenism as an Effort to Acknowledge Partial Truth Wherever it is Found (Dave Armstrong vs. David Palm) 71K

"Why Doesn't Pope John Paul II DO Something About the Modernist Dissenters in the Catholic Church?" 39K

Are All Catholic Laymen and Non-Theologians Qualified to Freely and Frequently Criticize the Pope's Opinions and Prudential Judgment? (Dave Armstrong vs. Mario Derksen) 72K

My "Second Catholic Conversion": A Reductio ad Absurdum of So-Called Catholic "Traditionalism" 42K

Catholic Fundamentalism and "Insufficiently Converted Catholics" 9K

Dialogue: Baptism, the Mystical Body of Christ, and Implications for Ecumenism 18K

My Traditional Novus Ordo Parish 16K

How to Receive Communion: Tradition, Abuses, Symbolism, and Piety 13K

Critique of The Remnant, with Copious Documentation (Dave Armstrong vs. John Vennari, Michael J. Matt, etc.)

Dialogue on The Remnant ("Traditionalist" Group) (Dave Armstrong vs. Mark Cameron)

Syllabus of 60 "Traditionalist" Errors, Fallacies, and False Principles

Critique of my Syllabus of 60 "Traditionalist" Errors and My Counter-Reply (Dave Armstrong vs. Mark Cameron)

A Critique of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), "Traditionalism," and the "Schismatic Spirit" (Dave Armstrong vs. several "traditionalists")

Dialogue With Three Schismatic, "Traditionalist Catholics"

Dialogue: So-Called "Traditionalists" vs. So-Called "Conservatives" (Dave Armstrong vs. two "traditionalists")

Dialogue on Vatican II, Conciliar Infallibility, and the SSPX (Dave Armstrong vs. an SSPX "traditionalist")

Dialogue: Vatican II and Other Religions (Nostra Aetate)

Dialogue: Catholic "Traditionalism": the Dreadful Malady of the Mind and Scourge of an Optimistic Faith in God's Protection of His Church (Dave Armstrong vs. David Palm and Mario Derksen)

Dialogue with a Troubled Semi-Traditionalist on the "Catastrophe" of the Post-Vatican II Church

Reflections on False Catholic "Traditionalism"

How Anti-Catholics Can be Catholics' Brothers in Christ

Dialogue on the Legitimacy of Catholic Development of Doctrine, With Reference to Vatican I, Vatican II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Dave Armstrong vs. a Feeneyite and an SSPX sympathizer)

Apologia for Catholic Ecumenism and Christian Unity

My "Neo-Conservative 'Messianic'" Affinities? Weird Remark From Bob Sungenis (Dave Armstrong vs. Robert Sungenis)

Karl Keating Is Motivated More By Money Than By Truth, and Is a Coward, So Sez Robert Sungenis

"Traditionalist" Catholic Attacks on Pope John Paul II: Accusations of Incompetence, Modernism, Compromise, and Heresy

Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger): Vatican II Has the Same Authority as Trent (if one goes, both go)

The "Traditionalist" Pet Term Neo-Catholic: Where Does it Come From? What Does it Mean?

"Traditionalist" Errors of the Seattle Catholic Documented

Kevin Tierney's False Accusation That I am an "Integrist" (Demand For Proofs)

First Counter-Reply to Kevin Tierney's "Proofs" That I Am an "Integrist" (Prudence and Dogma in Ecumenism)

2nd Counter-Reply to Kevin Tierney's "Proofs" That I Am an "Integrist" (Pope John Paul II's Ecumenism & Lesser Disputes)

Needed Corrective of a Good Man Who Has Gotten Legalistic About Certain Catholic Moral Teachings (Stephen Hand) (+ BlogBack Comments)

Stephen Hand's Bizarre Flip-Flops Concerning Critics of His Integrism, and Other Ludicrous Double Standards

Karl Keating and Christopher Blosser: Catholic Apologetics IS Important / Stephen Hand: MOST of it Stinks

"Hand Full of Insults": Stephen Hand's Public Personal Attacks on "War Bloggers" (Documented)

Pro-Abortionists Joseph Gerson and the AFSC, Dr. Carol Wolman, the "Seamless Robe," and Stephen Hand

On Actual "Obsessions", "Angsts", and "Tormented Consciences" (Aka "Slight of Hand" Dept.) (Part Two | Part Three | Addendum) [Stephen Hand's Legalistic Integrism] (I. Shawn McElhinney)

Vatican II
What Went Wrong With Vatican II? (Ralph McInerny)
What did the Second Vatican Council do for us? (Ian Ker)
The Renewal of Vatican II: Distractions and Distortions (Douglas Bushman)
Bright Promise, Failed Community: Catholics and the American Public Order (book by Catholic sociologist Joseph A. Varacalli)
Making the True Vatican II Our Own (John Saward)
Vatican II and Religious Liberty: Contradiction or Continuity? (Brian W. Harrison)
Non-Schismatic Traditionalist, Tridentine / Novus Ordo Latin Mass, and Liturgical Reform Websites and Articles
Agenda (William Grossklas; contra-SSPX website)
Rerum Novarum (I. Shawn McElhinney)
F. John Loughnan's Page (former SSPX member)
ULTRATRADITIONALISTS (website by "Matt1618"; including many papers by I. Shawn McElhinney)
Crown of David - Honouring Christ the King in His Royal Heritage (Michael Petek)
The Catholic Liturgical Library
James Likoudis' Page
A Bill of Rights for Orthodox Catholics (Mark J. Kelly)
Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) Directory for the USA
Schismatic Traditionalists (Matt C. Abbott)
SSPX / Lefebvrites
Introduction to the Lefebvrist Schism (James Akin)
Decree of Excommunication on Marcel Lefebvre
The Protocol of Agreement of the Vatican and Archbishop Lefebvre
Archbishop Lefebvre and the Declaration on Religious Liberty (William G. Most)
Ecclesia Dei (Pope John Paul II on the schismatic Society of St. Pius X)
Agenda (William Grossklas; contra-SSPX website)
A Canonical History of the Lefebvrite Schism (Peter J. Vere)
My Journey Out of the Lefebvre Schism: All Tradition Leads to Rome (Pete Vere)
Is the Society of St. Pius X in Schism? A Recent Response from Rome (F. John Loughnan)
Status of Society of St. Pius X Masses (Pontifical Commission on Ecclesia Dei)
Status of SSPX (Pontifical Commission on Ecclesia Dei)
The Flat Earth Society and SSPX-Type "Traditionalists" (F. John Loughnan)
Schism, Obedience, & SSPX (John Beaumont & John Walsh)
Lefebvrism: Jansenism Revisited? (Anthony Fisher) + SSPX Type Traditionalists (F. John Loughnan)
Do-it Yourself Popes: The Wacky World of Sedevacantists (Michael Petek)

Compiled by Dave Armstrong. Thorough URL Revision: 6 March 2004. Updated: 8 August 2005.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"NeoCaths" and Old Liberal Nonsense: Challenges to Fr. Joseph O'Leary's Trashing of Orthodox Catholic Apologetics
Once again we have witnessed the spectacle of a liberal Catholic (this time, sadly, a priest: Fr. Joseph O'Leary) trashing the apologetics movement ("The Rise of the Neocaths"), complete with the obligatory use of the term fundamentalist ("They argue by proof texts, in complete contempt of biblical scholarship and hermeneutics. Their ingenuity in defending their fundamentalist stances is extreme"), mocking of established Catholic sexual morality ("They insist that masturbation is mortally sinful, and have an especial enthusiasm for the teaching that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and that homosexual acts can never be countenanced"), and use of a semi-novel pejorative descriptive: Neocaths.

The term Neo-Catholic is (somewhat ironically) normally used by "traditionalists" (equally improperly, as I have written about).

The view from the other side

Opinion: The Muslim mind is on fire
Youssef M. Ibrahim
July 26, 2005

DUBAI -- The world of Islam is on fire. Indeed, the Muslim mind is on fire. Above all, the West is now ready to take both of them on.

The latest reliable report confirms that on average 33 Iraqis die every day, executed by Iraqis and foreign jihadis and suicide bombers, not by US or British soldiers. In fact, fewer than ever US or British soldiers are dying since the invasion more than two years ago. Instead, we now watch on television hundreds of innocent Iraqis lying without limbs, bleeding in the streets dead or wounded for life. If this is jihad someone got his religious education completely upside down.

Palestine is on fire, too, with Palestinian armed groups fighting one another - Hamas against Fatah and all against the Palestinian Authority. All have rendered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas impotent and have diminished the world's respect and sympathy for Palestinian sufferings.

A couple of weeks ago London was on fire as Pakistani and other Muslims with British citizenship blew up tube stations in the name of Islam. Al Qaeda in Europe or one of its franchises proclaimed proudly the killing of 54 and wounding 700 innocent citizens was done to "avenge Islam" and Muslims.

Madrid was on fire, too, last year, when Muslim jihadis blew up train stations killing 160 people and wounding a few thousands.

The excuse in all the above cases was the war in Iraq, but let us not forget that in September 2001, long before Iraq, Osama Bin Laden proudly announced that he ordered the killing of some 3,000 in the United States, in the name of avenging Islam. Let us not forget that the killing began a long time before the invasion of Iraq.

Indeed, jihadis have been killing for a decade in the name of Islam. They killed innocent tourists and natives in Morocco and Egypt, in Africa, in Indonesia and in Yemen, all done in the name of Islam by Muslims who say that they are better than all other Muslims. They killed in India, in Thailand and are now talking of killing in Germany and Denmark and so on. There were attacks with bombs that killed scores inside Shia and Sunni mosques, inside churches and inside synagogues in Turkey and Tunisia, with Muslim preachers saying that it is okay to kill Jews and Christians - the so called infidels.

Above all, it is the Muslim mind that is on fire.

The Muslim fundamentalist who attacked the Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, stabbed him more than 23 times then cut his throat. He recently proudly proclaimed at his trial: "I did it because my religion - Islam - dictated it and I would do it again if were free." Which preacher told this guy this is Islam? That preacher should be in jail with him.

Do the cowardly jihadis who recruit suicide bombers really think that they will force the US Army and British troops out of Iraq by killing hundreds of innocent Iraqis? US troops now have bases and operate in Iraq but also from Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman.

The only accomplishment of jihadis is that now they have aroused the great "Western Tiger". There was a time when the United States and Europe welcomed Arab and Muslim immigrants, visitors and students, with open arms. London even allowed all dissidents escaping their countries to preach against those countries under the guise of political refugees.

Well, that is all over now. Time has become for the big Western vengeance.

Visas for Arab and Muslim young men will be impossible to get for the United States and Western Europe. Those working there will be expelled if they are illegal, and harassed even if their papers are in order.

Airlines will have to right to refuse boarding to passengers if their names even resemble names on a prohibited list on all flights heading to Europe and the United States.

What is more important to remember is this: When the West did unite after World War II to beat communism, the long Cold War began without pity. They took no prisoners. They all stood together, from the United States to Norway, from Britain to Spain, from Belgium to Switzerland. And they did bring down the biggest empire. Communism collapsed.

I fear those naïve Muslims who think that they are beating the West have now achieved their worst crime of all. The West is now going to war against not only Muslims, but also, sadly, Islam as a religion.

In this new cold and hot war, car bombs and suicide bombers here and there will be no match for the arsenal that those Westerners are putting together - an arsenal of laws, intelligence pooling, surveillance by satellites, armies of special forces and indeed, allies inside the Arab world who are tired of having their lives disrupted by demented so-called jihadis or those bearded preachers who, under the guise of preaching, do little to teach and much to ignite the fire, those who know little about Islam and nothing about humanity.

Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former Middle East correspondent for The New York Times and energy editor of the Wall Street Journal, is managing director of the Dubai-based Strategic Energy Investment Group

Thursday, August 11, 2005

To bomb or not to bomb

Historians forever debate the morality of dropping the bomb on Japan. Here’s Japanese perspective. It might surprise you:


“We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war,” Kido Koichi, one of Emperor Hirohito's closest aides, later recalled. Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief cabinet secretary, called the bomb “a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war.”



Some of the critics of ECB are whining about the word-count of what JD and I write on the subject. At the risk of being blunt, I think we need to interject a dose of candor here.

There is a very simple formula for generating repetitious, run-on debates that drag on and on with no end in sight. And that is when one side refuses to give straight answers to simple questions at the time the questions are first posed. If each question were dealt with directly as it comes up, one at a time, the questions wouldn’t pile up like a traffic accident on the LA freeway.

For example, anyone can see from scoping out Triablogue that I get questions from time to time. These do not generate open-ended debates for the simple reason that I answer a question when I’m asked a question, and I answer a question the way it is asked.

The reason that any attempt a rational dialogue with someone like Steve Camp quickly spirals out of control is because he either ducks all the questions he can’t answer or pretends to answer them when he is really caricaturing the opposing side, which forces the opposing side to take unnecessary time out to correct the caricature and repeat the question in a pedantically qualified form, at which point he either continues to rehash his old caricatures, endlessly paraphrasing and repackaging the same old, oft-discredited arguments, or else he diverts attention by trotting out a new set of charges with a new set of caricatures—on top of all the old unanswered questions and caricatures.

Then this same type of critic will throw up his hands and whine about how time-consuming this is and how it’s becoming a big waste of time. And I agree. It does become a waste of everyone’s time.

JD and I quite capable of being terse and to-the-point. We would be more than happy to take a short-cut. It’s the critics who choose to drive in circles and detour around the question, not us. We know better than anyone else that the shortest distance between two points is a straight-line, and we know this because we are the ones having to hunt down a circuitous quarry.

BTW, didn’t John MacArthur write a 200+ page book on the subject? What is 8 pages compared to over 200 pages?

And at the risk of having to repeat ourselves one more time, it was, remember, the critics of the C-bees who were castigating the C-bees for failing to take the time to make a Scriptural case for political activism and cobelligerence. When, however, someone rises to the challenge and calls their bluff, they just keep on bluffing and yawning and looking at their wristwatch.

Again, you have someone like Steve Camp, and I single him out, though he is hardly alone in this, because he is the worst offender in this regard, whereas Phil Johnson is stepping up to the plate—someone who raises objections, and then blows off anyone who addresses the objections he himself has raised.

I don’t find this elementary lack of ethical self-consistency either admirable or amusing. There is no excuse for such duplicity within the Christian community. Maybe it comes of being a celebrity. Certainly we see it often enough among the Hollywood glitterati who act like a law unto themselves, answerable to no one while they savage anyone and anything they disapprove of with the impunity of those who can write their own ticket—the Moores and Clooneys and Baldwins and Penns and Sarandons and Damons of the world.

As I’ve said before, the leading critics of ECB are high enough in the food change that they could surely arrange a personal powwow with the leaders of ECB. Have they made any effort to have a face-to-face talk with the Colson or Dobson or Land or Mohler? Have they ever even picked up the phone and spoken to one of the “Fab Four” directly over this issue? It doesn’t look very Christian to me. Have they no sense of honor? Why attack a straw man when you can talk man-to-man with the individual in question?

Scattered Replies

[The following blog post is by Jus Divinum]

First, some links:

Scott Klusendorf draws our attention to "Mr. Calvin Goes to Washington". I think it provides an interesting perspective on the ECB dispute. Keep in mind that people like Steve Camp have taken to calling themselves "Protestant Reformed Christians," rather than evangelical, which is ironic indeed.

Russ/Sosipater provides an interesting quote on religion and politics from a noted Reformed Baptist critic of theonomy. (Yours truly also manages to get into Russ's quote of the day.)

I want to take some time to deal with some scattered replies to my various recent blog entries, mainly authored by Phillip Johnson.

Phil replies to my "Slippery Slopes and the Genetic Fallacy" with four complaints on the subject of political activism:

"My first gripe is with ostensibly Christian organizations and ministers of the gospel who in any degree dilute, suppress, deflect, or confuse the simple, pure gospel message they are called and ordained to preach, and either substitute or blend into their "gospel" a political message instead.

My second gripe is with those who think (or act as if) political remedies for society's evils are more effective instruments for the improvement of our culture than the gospel message itself.

My third gripe is with those who make politics a higher priority than evangelism in their dealings with unbelievers.

My fourth gripe is with those who think political activism is a duty incumbent on all Christians."

I largely agree with Phil's four points above. I'd just register a few caveats. Re: his first point, I'd just say that there is a difference between a "Christian organization" which simply articulates a political message, and an organization which "blends into their 'gospel' a political message". There is a difference here, and it ought to be respected. I have yet to find a significant ECBer organization which actually espouses the view that political activism is part of the content of the gospel message itself.

Re: his second point, again, I have yet to find any ECBers who do "think (or act as if) political remedies for society's evils are more effective instruments for the improvement of our culture than the gospel message itself." Rather, this is often an unwarranted conclusion drawn by critics of ECB about anyone who spends any time involved in political activism. I'm not saying Phil has done this, but I have seen it done (repeatedly, in past entries on Steve Camp's blog, for instance).

Re: his third point, I'm not quite sure how to apply it to anyone in particular. That's because, for just about any ECBer I know of, it is next to impossible to know whether they "make politics a higher priority than evangelism in their dealings with unbelievers". After all, to the extent that we know anything about an ECB leader, it is ordinarily only through their publicly accessible writings and speeches, and therefore we have little idea how they interact with unbelievers in their daily relationships with them. For instance, despite reading both Phil Johnson's and Al Mohler's blogs rather faithfully, it would be a total non sequitur to infer anything at all about "their dealings with unbelievers" on a regular basis, much less their "priorities" with them. Nevertheless, Phil's third point here is a good one in general, although ordinarily the only people we're in a position to apply it to, are ourselves.

Re: his fourth point, as I've already repeatedly made clear, I agree, assuming that I understand what he means by "political activism". I do think there are basic duties of Christian citizenship in a democracy that ought to be taken seriously, however. And my main point throughout this extended exchange is whether cooperative political activism is permitted for individual Christians, not whether it is obligatory for all and sundry.

Phil says, in the link above:

"And I hate to see the very people who ought to be teaching Christians Scripture and sound doctrine wasting their energies instead trying to organize evangelicals to maximize the clout of the American political right."

This, of course, presupposes that energy spent on political activism is by definition "wasted energies". You see, it's comments like these which lead me to think that Phil really thinks, in his heart of hearts, that it is forbidden for individual Christians to spend any time whatsoever in political activism. Phil of course expressly denies that he thinks this. But on the other hand, it's a clear implication of what he says above. For Phil, by definition spending time on political activism is a waste of energy.

It's an open question, of course, as to whether every Christian is called to be a teacher of Scripture and sound doctrine in the first place. Is Phil speaking of an informal calling, or a full-time, formal calling? Informally, with respect to our individual relationships with other Christians and in our families? Yes, but then there's little evidence that ECBers contravene that responsibility. Formally, with ongoing teaching ministries in the church that involve public exposition of Scripture and time devoted to little else? No, I don't buy that; not everyone is called to that. Dobson is a psychologist and pediatrician and Colson is a lawyer. Is Phil really saying that he can lay down the law as to what these individuals ought to be doing, with respect to their individual callings? Is the Christian doctor "wasting his time" because he could be teaching Scripture instead?

Sure, Phil says that political activism is legitimate for the individual Christian, but when it comes down to it, when they spend any time doing it, Phil emphatically thinks it's all a waste of time. This isn't a consistent position on Phil's part, unless Phil thinks it's legitimate for Christians to waste their time. So it certainly looks like Phil subscribes to the very prohibition that he otherwise denies.

Moving along, Phil Johnson replies to my "Interesting Question" post. Since Phil has earlier accused me of injecting irrelevant parties into the discussion, I suppose turnabout is fair play :-) Suffice it to say that the 'interesting question' was being posed for Steve Camp, not Phil Johnson. And from what I can tell, Camp's and Johnson's positions are somewhat distinct, with Camp's being the more radical and implausible. For instance, Camp believes that evangelicals do compromise the gospel when they work along side Roman Catholics to reform culture on moral evils like abortion and judicial tyranny. It's a fair question, then, whether Camp thinks that evangelicals also compromise the gospel when they work alongside Roman Catholics with respect to military purposes, and if not, why not?

Johnson posts a reply, but he doesn't bother to answer the question. Indeed, he doesn't think this is a very good question at all, but that's only because he's completely misconstrued the parallel that was asserted. He asks:

"You seriously think that's a good question?

Do you honestly see such a close parallel between individual Christians serving in a secular government's army, and evangelical churches, ministers, and media ministries who not only start their own parachurch politico-religious organizations (where doctrinal boundaries are deliberately erased for the sake of political harmony)--but also target the community of believers in their efforts to coordinate, recruit, and raise funds for various boycotts, legislative initiatives, and political campaigns?"

First, as I thought I made clear earlier, there is a distinction between 'individual Christians' and 'the church'. Just because someone thinks it's OK for individual Christians to do something, according to their gifts and opportunities, doesn't automatically mean that they think it constitutes the mission of the church. Phil is still stuck in his "mandate for the whole church" mode, where every endorsement of ECB constitutes a claim that "political activism is a 'kind of "ministry"' that ought to consume the energies of the church as a body." Once again, he persists in finding his favorite bogeymen even in posts that have little to do with them. Phil thinks I'm asserting "a close parallel between individual Christians serving in a secular government's army, and evangelical churches, ministers, and media ministries". But, of course, I wasn't drawing a parallel between the activity of individual Christians and the activity of the church as a whole, at all. I was drawing a parallel between individual Christians and individual Christians. What aspect of this is so hard to grasp?

Asking the question I linked to establishes a baseline for honest discussion, and that's all. If someone thinks it's OK for evangelicals to cooperate with Roman Catholics in a military endeavor, then it's utterly inconsistent to argue that such cooperation in a political endeavor is forbidden, or somehow compromises sola fide. Indeed, all of the factors which are usually said to condemn the cooperative political endeavor to illegitimacy -- Christian/non-Christian cooperation, fallible method, unsure outcome, aiming at nonspiritual goods, aiming at noneternal goods -- are present in the cooperative military endeavor as well. Getting both sides to at least acknowledge this is a good start. At this point, the issue of how you go about each activity, and in particular how local churches are to be related to it, has not so much as been broached. And a good thing too, because if there can't be any honesty about the basic inconsistency of the position just sketched, then there sure isn't going to be any profitable discussion of the wider issues.

Phil may say, "Hey, I don't believe that! I don't believe individual Christians are sinning by cooperating with non-Christians in political endeavors!" And maybe he doesn't. But again, the post to which he is responding wasn't directed at him.

Second, in his response above Phil has thrown in everything but the kitchen sink, and then attributed it all to me. Again, the question was a simple one: what are individual Christians allowed to do, and with whom are they allowed to cooperate? But where Scott Klusendorf phrased the question simply in terms of what Christians are allowed to do (is it "not OK" to work on pro-life causes?), Phil insists on reading into this simple question an obligatory agenda for what "evangelical churches" and "ministers" should do. Indeed, Phil seems to think that if you dare to say that "it's OK" for Christians to cooperate with non-Christians in pro-life matters, then you must be endorsing "media ministries" and "parachurch politico-religious organizations". Beyond this blunder, if Phil recalls, I've explicitly and repeatedly said that I don't think there's a need to call these organizations "Christian" or "ministries" anyway.

Phil asks:

"In other words, how much does the legitimacy of our support for the war against terrorism justify the use of evangelical resources in pursuit of that war?"

Notice the equivocation on "evangelical resources". What is meant here? What ministers of the gospel do in their local churches? Or, what individual Christians voluntarily decide to do? Or what? On one reading of "evangelical resources," Phil would be saying that any expending of any efforts of any evangelicals, in cooperation with non-Christians, is an unjustified use of "evangelical resources". Sometimes I fear that Phil actually believes this (see above), but he seems to distance himself from this extreme view at times. On another reading of "evangelical resources," it is only when gospel ministers or local churches or Bible study radio ministries devote their time to this, that resources are automatically being misdirected. Which is it?

Elsewhere, Phil writes:

"Jonathan Felt wants me to answer his every argument in favor of turning the evangelical movement into a political lobby. (No, I'm kidding. I know he's not consciously arguing in favor of that. But he seems blissfully unaware and unconcerned that that's what in fact is happening.)"

I'm not "blissfully unaware" of it. But I do ask a simple question: What's wrong with turning the evangelical movement into a political lobby?

Such a question may sound shocking, even scandalous. But the problem with Phil (and Steve Camp too, BTW) is that the phrase "political lobby" or "PAC" gets thrown around like it's some swear word that ends all debate by its very crudity. Since this presupposes the very value judgment that is in dispute, I fail to see how it furthers the argument. If "political lobbying" were all that evangelicals in America ever did, then perhaps we might have a problem on our hands. But Phil has scarcely said anything to make that proposition tenable. Now, a case might be made that "political lobbying" is one among many things evangelicals do in America, but how this is scandalous, I have no idea.

Finally, Phil goes on about my wordiness, and prefers that I only post "just one or two main points at a time". Someone inform me when Phil actually adheres to that standard, when critiquing the fads of the day in his own blog entries. In the meantime, I thought I took the time to boil down this whole dispute to two simple paragraphs from me, and then suggested serious consideration of five simple questions from someone else. You'll find them about halfway through this piece. I said there, in part:

"But second, I wonder what Phil would say about the following two claims of mine:... [two paragraphs deleted] If Phil would actually agree with me that Christians cooperating with non-Christians in the activity of political activism is not forbidden, and does not undermine the sola fide essential of the gospel, then I think that what appears to me to be our greatest difference, would in fact fade away."

I don't think it would take a whole lot of effort to confront these specific claims directly. As I've said elsewhere, any legitimate cause can be pursued with idolatrous priorities, such that the primary mission of the church gets undermined. But that's not the issue (if it were, I'd be presenting a completely different set of arguments, asking the critics of ECB to support their sociological generalizations about allegedly idolatrous priorities with cold, hard facts). Rather, I want to know if Christian/non-Christian cooperative political endeavor is acknowledged as permissible behavior, in any form.

Can Armstrong change his spots?

As I’ve noted before, Dave Armstrong is running out of good material. So he’s presently padding his blog with filler on the “Protestant civil wars.”


Let's briefly note a few of these "worse than absurd" disagreements between fellow Protestants currently taking place on the Internet (obviously nothing has changed in 488 years: Protestants fought each other then and they continue to do so, and split and form new denominations). The following are not mere examples of gentlemanly disagreement: they are uncivil, acrimonious exchanges characterized by personal remarks at the expense of the other's honesty, sincerity, intelligence, basic knowledge, etc.

The discord largely derives from the bankruptcy of the notions of private judgment and sola Scriptura.


A few comments are in order:

i) To say that all these disagreements are “worse than absurd” simply begs the question.

ii) I try to avoid characterizing my opponent’s intelligence. I’ve never seen the point of that.

iii) On the other hand, a theological opponent may well be ignorant or dishonest. And it’s perfectly proper for me or others to point that out. It isn’t enough to “say” that your opponent is ignorant or dishonest. If you’re going to say so, you need to document the fact.

But since some theological opponents are, in fact, ignorant or dishonest, and since their ignorance or dishonesty skews their depiction of the opposing position, documenting their ignorance and dishonesty is simply a way of correcting their caricatures.

iv) As to a “gentlemen’s” code of honor, Dave doesn’t say what he means. He singles out my exchange with Holding. I’ll grant that Holding’s resort to barnyard language was certainly ungentlemanly, but that wasn’t emanating from my side of the exchange.

No doubt it’s more gentlemanly for bishops to conceal an underground culture of priestly pederasty than expose the unseemly details to public scrutiny. But some of us value candor above concealment.

v) There is no doubt that some of the acrimonious tone is due to sin. I’m a sinner. So are my fellow Reformed bloggers. Rumor even has it that Dave Armstrong is a sinner—but he would doubtless regard that innuendo as ungentlemanly.

vi) Speaking for myself, I’m actually pretty selective about my choice of targets. I’ve had precious little to say about fundamentalism or Pentecostalism or Lutheranism or Anglicanism or vanilla-gray Evangelicalism.

I have my disagreements with each of these, but they are not very high on my priority list, and so I’ve only said enough to explain where and why I disagree with each.

And there are a couple of reasons for this:

a) As long as a given theological tradition can furnish a credible profession of faith, I’m not, as a rule, prepared to expend a whole lot of ammo attacking it.

As long as it’s a sufficiently seaworthy vessel to get most of its passengers safely into heaven, I have better things to do with my time than shoot it up and bring a lifeboat alongside.

b) I choose, instead, to concentrate my fire on those doctrinal deviations that are either closest to my end of the theological spectrum or the farthest way.

Whatever is good in the mediating options is good because of what they share in common witht the doctrines of grace.

And whatever is bad is bad because of some they have in common with the more extreme deviations--and in commenting on the extremes, I implicitly comment on what’s wrong with the more moderate options.

c) I critique aberrations of Reformed theology because those are attacking the benchmark of orthodox doctrine. And once we lose the yardstick, we lose the capacity to measure any degree of declension—be it wide or narrow--from sound doctrine.

d) I critique Christian heresies because, like juvenile delinquents, they turn the signpost so that it no longer points in the right direction, but rather, directs the driver to a washed-out bridge.

vii) Dave attributes this discord to the Protestant rule of faith. That’s is a half-truth:

a) It is true that freedom of dissent issues in dissent. Mind you, the Catholic rule of faith did nothing to hinder dissent. The Church of Rome never relied on its rule of faith to ensure doctrinal conformity. Rather, it relied on the State or the Inquisition to enforce outward conformity. Is dear old Dave waxing nostalgic for the rack, the Iron Maiden, the thumbscrews and scarpines?

b) Freedom of dissent doesn’t initiate dissent, but merely exposes the fault-lines which were there along, but plastered over by coercive conformism.

c) Freedom is a good thing. Division is a good thing. For if everyone is made a member the same church, then the reprobate and unregenerate dilute the sanctity of the church.

Freedom of dissent enables the faithful to separate from the faithless and form a true community of faith.

c) There were dozens of Jewish sects in 1C Palestine. Yet the old covenant community was far more regulated than the new covenant community. But if God did nothing under the terms of the Old Covenant to hinder such diversity, then the a priori insistence that God would never countenance the Protestant rule of faith is flatly opposed to divine precedent.

d) As a practical matter, Catholicism tolerates any amount of private dissent and informal diversity as long as it doesn’t go public and directly challenge the authority of the Magisterium.

So the only unity that Catholicism really cares about is institutional unity; not a unity of faith—not a common bond of belief--but unity in the externalities of faith: of fellowship without faith.

Dying trees often look healthy enough on the outside until a windstorm snaps them in two and you can see the hollow, rotten interior. That may be Dave’s ideal, but it’s hardly my own. I prefer a vigorous variety of seedlings and samplings to one big dead tree—leafy on the outside, but worm-eaten from within.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Peace Plan

Urban legend attributes this to Robin Williams. Apocryphal or not, I hope it makes it into the GOP platform in time for the 08 election cycle.


Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan... what we
need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message.

Robin Williams' plan...(Hard to argue with this logic!)

I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan
for peace. So, here's one plan:

1) The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their
affairs, past & present. We will promise never to "interfere" again.

2) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with
Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We
would station troops at our borders. No more sneaking through holes in
the fence.

3) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and
leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder
will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where
they are. France would welcome them.

4) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 day
visits unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation
would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself,
don't hide here. Asylum would not ever be available to anyone. We don't
need any more cab drivers.

5) No "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they
don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home, baby.

6) The US will make a strong effort to become self sufficient energy
wise. This will include developing non polluting sources of energy but
will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The
caribou will have to cope for a while.

7) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for
their oil. If they don't like it, we go someplace else.

8) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we
will not "interfere". They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds,
rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides, most of what we give them
gets "lost" or is taken by their army. The people who need it most get
very little, anyway.

9) Ship the UN Headquarters to an island some place. We don't need the
spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, it would make a good
homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.

9b) Use the buildings as replacement for the twin towers.

10) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one
can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. Now, ain't that a winner of a
plan. "The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your poor, your
tired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling,
'You want a piece of me?"


Loaded dice-2


As to epistemology, I am not sure as to what the problem is supposed to be. I grant that in cases of say Descartes' evil demon, the god of Calvinism (is there a difference?) or other covert controllers of exceeding power that the subject in question either can’t or probably can’t, find out that their alternative possibilities have been counter-factually and covertly eliminated. So what? The only thing of significance that appears to follow is that the agent doesn’t know what they took themselves to know and that is hardly a big deal. What we need is an argument to show that such a situation is analogous to the situation we are fact in and this is an argument that Hays doesn’t suggest let alone give.


As to whether the God of Calvinism is an evil demon, I can think of a much better example of the demonic myself. And that is when a lost sinner, in his prideful defiance and humanistic conceit, presumes to spit in the face of sovereign grace.

The big deal is that if the argument from experience is a leading argument for LFW, and if, in fact, the “experience of freedom” is consistent with the lack of freedom, then that undermines the case for LFW.

To say that “what we need is an argument to show that such a situation is analogous to the situation we are fact in,” completely misses the point: there very nature of the thought-experiment is such that no evidence (argument from experience) could either prove or disprove that we find ourselves in an analogous situation.


Furthermore, even if we were in such a case and all our actions were predetermined by God, how would say a professing Calvinist be in a position to know that they were elect or had genuine faith? To appeal to self authentication or an inner witness bakes no bread since one could be determined to think that they had the experience of self authenticating faith or an inner witness without in fact having it. How could the professing Calvinist tell the difference? How could they find out if God had determined them to have genuine or spurious faith and hence a reprobate?


To begin with, if this is a problem, it is not a problem distinctive to Calvinism. Except for outright antinomians (e.g., Ryrie, Kendall, Hodges), most theological traditions do admit a distinction between true and nominal believers. Hence, it is possible under almost alternative to Calvinism for a nominal believer to be spiritually self-deluded and nurse a false assurance of salvation.

Secondly, the God of Biblical Calvinism is the same God who has also revealed Biblical grounds for the assurance of salvation. God is not conferring the same experience on elect and reprobate alike.

For a practical discussion of assurance, cf. P Helm, The Beginnings (Banner of Truth 1986).

Thirdly, the argument for predestination and providence, unlike the argument for LFW, is not an argument from experience, but an argument from revelation. Hence, the two positions do not enjoy epistemic parity.


As to who has to show what in the theological realm the burden seems born by the Calvinist just as equally as the Libertarian. I admit that if there is such a controlling deity then it is hard to see how there could be any epistemological basis for thinking that we had libertarian freedom. But is there such a deity? Has Hays shown that there is? Moreover, as to what could serve as theological evidence for Libertarian freedom I think there is a strong case to be made from the Biblical corpus for it. In a nutshell God has libertarian freedom and we are made in God’s image and therefore enjoy a measure of his kind of freedom. The same language that is employed concerning God’s choices is generally employed with respect to human and angelic choices plausibly giving us grounds for thinking that the freedom is at least of the same kind even if not of the same measure or degree. To deny that such language implies libertarian freedom to humans by the same token denies it to God contradicting every major Christian theological traditon, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox.


To begin with, the exegetical case for Calvinism has been made repeatedly. There’s a lot of material on that subject at Triablogue itself.

In addition, Perry’s argument for LFW is a classic illustration of all that’s wrong with his theological method. He seizes on a Biblical category (the imago Dei), but doesn’t make any effort to exegete the Biblical category in context. Instead, he uses the Biblical category as a cipher to plug in a totally extraneous concept.

Why appeal to Scripture in the first place unless you allow Scripture to define its own usage? If Scripture is a source of knowledge, then when you appeal to a Biblical category, you need to exegete the category so that it means what it meant in the original source.

Here’s an example of the right and wrong way to interpret the key term:


There is a long history of efforts to understand “the image of God” as an aspect or function in humans that sets them off from other creatures and in terms of which they are “like God.” Depending on philosophical and theological predispositions, the image was seen in such things as human ‘reason” or, by the Reformers, in “true righteousness and holiness.”

According to Clines, however, humanity is [God’s] representative and agent here on earth. The expression “likeness” guarantees that humans will be a faithful and adequate representative of God on earth. Humans, thus, embody “God’s lordship over the lower orders of creation.”

Gen 1;26b expresses the purpose or goal of creating humans in the image of God…The meaning of the image, thus, does not lie in the mere terms used, but in Israel’s, or more precisely, the priestly tradition’s, understanding of representative kingship.

New International Dictionary of OT Theology & Exegesis, 4:644-45.


Moving ahead:


Moreover, the Libertarian seems to be able to argue that since determinism would render any knowledge claim, let alone a claim about having freedom so problematic, that it is a reason to think that determinism is false since the knowledge we have isn’t that problematic to attain.


Needless to say, it doesn’t render “any” knowledge claim problematic, but only a knowledge claim for LFW based on the argument from experience.


Hays then moves to construct something like an argument against Libertarianism by claiming that Libertarianism implies the same kinds of absurdities as “retrocausation.” Without reproducing Hays comments here I don’t think he is right. Libertarians can and do quite easily agree with the majority of philosophers today that time travel is impossible and that the past is fixed and hence accidentally necessary. (For a helpful discussion of accidental necessity see ) Since the past is fixed time travel is impossible.


Frankly, this objection is pretty obtuse. After all, my argument was explicitly predicated on the impossibility of time-travel. This is what I said:


Finally, I’d like to raise another objection to LFW. Since we’ve all grown up on SF, we’re all familiar with the paradoxes of time-travel. And this is one reason to believe that time travel and retrocausation are impossible.


And I was extending that impossibility to render LFW equally impossible. Perry acts as though the impossibility of time-travel is inconsistent with my argument when, in fact, it’s a presupposition of my argument. And I’m the one who’s confused?


Second, on Libertarianism it is false that if you replayed the past you would alter the future. On Libertarianism it is possible to alter the future but it is not necessary that given the same past circumstances an agent will do otherwise but only that they could do otherwise or at least will to do otherwise. It is important to keep in mind that Libertarians are minimally committed to the idea that the agent could will to do otherwise regardless of the success of those volitional acts, that is regardless of whether I do in fact do otherwise. It doesn’t follow that because an agent is free to do otherwise given the same past circumstances prior to some volition that they will do otherwise. So it is possible that if we could replay the past a million times prior to Jones choosing A as opposed to B that for every time that Jones chooses A. This doesn’t imply that the past determines Jones choosing A but only that the past isn’t causally sufficient to explain Jones’ choice. It might be that Jones always has good reasons to choose A and never has (because say, there aren’t any) good reasons to choose B. Hays seems to be confusing “could have done otherwise” with “would have done otherwise” and conceptually these are not identical. It is possible that Jones could have chosen B some of the times but it doesn’t follow that since Jones had the power to do otherwise that as Hays writes, “If LFW were true, and you kept replicating the past, then, of necessity, the same agent would do otherwise in the same situation. If he really could do otherwise, and you keep giving him enough chances to do otherwise, he would do otherwise—sooner or later.” If Jones has libertarian freedom, he doesn’t do anything, A or otherwise “of necessity.” Hays has adeptly created a strawman.


Yes, you might say that it is just barely possible that if you replay the scenario a million times, a libertarian agent will make the very same choice a million times. It is also just barely possible that a million or a million-million libertarian agents will make the very same choice given a million replays.

Likewise, it is possible that the die will come up sixes a million times in a row. Likewise, it is possible that a royal flush will be dealt a million times in a row. Likewise, it is possible that a million different gamblers will be dealt a royal flush a millions times in a row.

But if beginner’s luck were to turn into a winning streak a million times in a row, and if Perry were the proprietor of the Casino, I don’t think that Perry would be very impressed if the gambler were to appeal to the freedom of future contingents. The casino would go broke in a hurry of the proprietor shared the libertarian sentiments of the gambler.

A form of indeterminism which invariably yields the very same result looks suspiciously like a “hidden variables” theory of indeterminism to me.

Loaded dice-1

Perry Robinson has chosen to comment on a little essay of mine.


The first general problem is in the definitions that Hays provides. He says that if libertarian free will existed then there are only three logical possibilities: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, and Indeterminism. As I make clear if libertarian freedom existed the first two options are logically impossible.


Going back and reviewing my original piece, I can see now how Perry was thrown off by my elliptical syntax. I was using a chiasmic (A-B-A) style of argument--such as Paul uses in Rom 5:12-19 (A: 12>B: 13-14>A: 15-19)--where I first state the specific option I’m most concerned with, then quickly shift to a general overview of the alternatives, of which that is one, in order to place it in a larger context, then, after this parenthetical aside, go back to the specific option.

So I’m sorry that my abbreviated syntax left him confused on this particular point. Many connections are so obvious to a writer that he assumes things which are obvious to himself, but not necessarily as obvious to the reader.


Hays attempts to pick out the concept of Hard Determinism by saying that it is the idea that “We are not free to do otherwise even if we wanted to do otherwise.”

This isn’t the idea of Hard Determinism. Hard Determinism put forward by the likes of Derek Pereboom is in part the idea that Determinism is true and Libertarianism is false. If Libertarianism is false, then there cannot be libertarian free will. Hard Determinism is furthermore the idea that since determinism is true we have to modify our ascriptions of freedom and moral praise/blame and moral responsibility accordingly since our everyday or pre-theoretical notions of moral responsibility and freedom are not compatible with determinism. Consequently it is hardly informative to say as Hays does that Hard Determinism is compatible with the idea that freedom is an illusion since that is exactly what the position maintains. Hays is clearly confused as to what is Hard Determinism.


Actually, Perry is the one who is pretty clearly befuddled here. I was offering some thumbnail definitions. For Perry to say that hard determinism is (in part) the idea that determinism is true and libertarianism is false, is hardly a definition of the operative terms. Indeed, that fails to define either term. Rather, it’s simply an illustration of the excluded middle: if one is true, the other is false. Perry is substituting a consequence for a definition, as if that were any alternative to what I said.

The same applies to making adjustments in our ethical outlook if hard determinism is true. That, again, is not a definition of hard determinism, but a possible consequence.

In addition, it is highly germane to the case for LFW if LFW could be illusory, for the argument from experience is a leading argument for LFW. As one of the major proponents of LFW has put it:


One reason, certainly a weighty one for many libertarians, lies in the very experience of choice…this experience seems to carry with it the strong conviction that the various alternatives are indeed without our power—that there is nothing at all which prevents us from choosing one way or the other…I would maintain that the intuitive conviction of freedom, sustained as it is by the occurrence of choices in which we seem to determine our own future, is one that we are entitled to take seriously and to treat with great respect as we formulate our answer to the question of freedom and necessity.

W. Hasker, Metaphysics (IVP 1983), 48.


How am I confused when, in the course of defining a position, I state “exactly what the position maintains”? Perry has a very eccentric notion of what it means to define a term.

This may be because he is committing the word=concept fallacy, as if the mere definition of a word were inclusive of the whole system of thought which the word is being used to designate. That confuses a dictionary with an encyclopedia. Surely it is possible to define General Relativity without having to explain all of the consequences and supply the mathematical formalisms.


He glosses Soft Determinism as “We are not free to do otherwise even if we wanted to do otherwise.” The problem is that this is not Soft Determinism. Soft Determinism is the idea that determinism is true, we have freedom and determinism is logically compatible with freedom where such freedom does not include being the ultimate source or terminus of one’s actions and having alternative possibilities. Soft Determinism excludes even “wanting” to do otherwise since it excludes any form of alternative possibilities simpliciter. Alternative possibilities are the exclusive domain of Libertarianism.


The first problem is that he has mismatched my terms and definitions. This is what I actually said:


a) Hard determinism: We are not free to do otherwise even if we wanted to do otherwise.

b) Soft determinism: We are free to do otherwise if we want to do otherwise—although we are not free to want to do otherwise.


Somehow he manages to get the definitions mixed up so that he attribute my definition of hard determinism to soft determinism. And I’m the one who’s confused?

He then says that “soft determinism excludes even ‘wanting’ to do otherwise since it excludes any form of alternative possibilities simpliciter,” is if that were diametrically opposed to my definition, when it looks more like a paraphrase of my original definition.

I’d add, though, that to say that soft determinism “excludes any form of alternative possibilities simpliciter,” is just that—simple-minded. All that Perry has done here is to beg the question in favor of LFW.

It is perfectly coherent to conditionalize alternative possibilities: X could do otherwise if he wanted to do otherwise.

This is necessary to distinguish soft determinism from hard determinism.


As to Indeterminism Hays interprets it as “We are free to want to do otherwise.” Here again he seems to miss the mark. Indeterminism isn’t a thesis about desires or willing at all because it isn’t a thesis about agency. Indeterminism like determinism is a thesis regarding causation.


As I already explained in the second installment of my essay, “Is God the author of sin?”--I regard compatibilism as a special-case of determinism, and incompatibilism as a special-case of indeterminism. We’re dealing here with a set/subset relation.

Perry then sets up a remarkably tendentious antithesis between volition and causation, as if agents can’t be causes.


To his credit Hays correctly notes that the Westminster Confession opts for a kind of Soft Determinism but this is hardly news.


When Perry can’t be substantive, he can always be petty. It is certainly pertinent to my purposes to locate the Westminster Confession along the determinist/indeterminist continuum.

For a champion of Byzantine theology, it is odd that Perry judges the value of a position by its newsworthiness.


To be thorough I must note that off the bat that Frankfurt cases are not cases of Hard Determinism… Frankfurt argues that the subject appears to be free and to be morally responsible for choosing A even though he could not have done otherwise… Others, like Kane and Widerker, have argued that Frankfurt cases either presuppose determinism since the prior sign that tips the controller off as to what the subject is going to do can only indicate what the subject is going to do if it is a causally sufficient condition for the subject’s action. If there is no antecedently sufficient prior sign, then the controller can’t preempt the subject’s choice.


Perry begins with a denial that Frankfurt-cases are cases of hard determinism, but then proceeds to lay out some contrary interpretations. So how does that undercut my argument?

In the meantime, Perry disregards my explicit shift from the stronger ontological thesis of determinism to the weaker epistemic thesis of whether the agent is in position to tell, from experience, if he enjoys LFW.

Hard determinism doesn’t have to be true to make my case. Soft determinism doesn’t’ have to be true to prove my case. Indeterminism could be true, and my case would remain.

For the point raised by the Frankfurt-case is the “possibility” that an agent is under the illusion of LFW when, in fact, is does not enjoy LFW.

I spelled that out in the very passage which Perry quotes verbatim:


Frankfurt-cases are generally deployed to show that LFW is not a necessary condition of moral responsibility. But aside from their relevance to the ethical issues raised in the debate between compatibilism and incompatibilism, they are also relevant to the epistemic question of what would count as evidence for LFW, were it true.

The problem which Frankfurt-cases pose for libertarians is that the subject of the experiment believes himself to be free, even though he isn’t. There is nothing in his experience to falsify his belief that he is other than free, even though his belief is false. On this view, not only is hard determinism compatible with moral responsibility, it is also compatible with the illusion LFW. It is not my purpose to make a case for hard determinism. Rather, I’m arguing from the greater to the lesser. If the indeterminist can’t even disprove hard determinism, he can scarcely disprove soft determinism. The problem is that an agent is in no position to know, from the inside out, whether his actions are determined by an external source.


Moving right along:


Is the problem for the subject in Frankfurt cases that he believes himself to be free but isn’t? If he isn’t free, then this certainly not what Frankfurt aimed to show. Rather Frankfurt aimed to show that the subject was free even though he could not have done otherwise. Here Hays gets it wrong. (This is the polite way of saying that he can't seem to accurately reproduce the ideas of others reliably.) Moreover, since Frankfurt cases were designed to help grasp a concept in metaphysics, the subject’s knowledge or lack thereof plays little or no explanatory role as to whether libertarian freedom is a coherent concept or alternative possibilities are necessary for free will or what the concept of freedom is.


To begin with, Perry has already documented the fact that Frankfurt-cases are emendable to more than one interpretation, including determinism.

Second, there is obviously a difference between accurately reproducing an “idea” and reproducing the “aim” of the idea. Perry is confounding the substance of a position with a particular application.

In Perry’s blinkered outlook, if a thought-experiment was designed to illustrate one thing, then it’s impermissible to creatively adapt that thought-experiment to illustrate anything else.

As such, Perry never bothers to interact with the logic of my own argument. He acts like a scribe rather than a philosopher.