Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Jonathan Prejean On Anonymous Hit Pieces
03/28/2007 - James White"Crimson Catholic," Jonathan Prejean, has actually attempted to offer an excuse for Hugh Barbour's refusal in the Envoy article to either name me directly, or even provide meaningful bibliographical references (i.e., so that his readers can do something more than just "trust him" and check things out for themselves). Now, let's remember that Barbour wrote his article in response to a footnote of an article that was on the topic of the Council of Nicea, an article fully referenced to standard works in the field. Barbour did not even touch upon the actual article itself. He created a straw man and beat it senseless without giving his readers any opportunity of checking him out. I have yet to find a single Roman Catholic who has accurately addressed the situation and in a truthful, honest fashion admitted that Barbour's actions were reprehensible, nor have I found one who has taken issue with the substance of the article (they can't, since they would have to reject every major scholarly work on Nicea to do so). And keep in mind as well the fact that in my response, I noted numerous problems with Barbour's own scholarship, including gross misrepresentation of the article he is pretending to review (easy to do when you don't provide any references anyone can follow up on), the presentation of highly questionable theories regarding the role of Sylvester at Nicea, even noting that Barbour used sources that the Westminster Dictionary of Church History describe as "hardly trustworthy." But despite all of this, Prejean writes,
Seems people elsewhere aren't quite getting the point of the article. The whole point was that the author's article was so laughably bad in the first place that it is effectively beneath contempt. It is, to use Wolfgang Pauli's apt phrase, "not even wrong." That's the whole point of not mentioning the author's name in the first place; it is to cast shame on him for having put out such a pathetic effort in the guise of scholarship (akin to the statement "Some have claimed..." without a footnote in a scholarly article, an implicit rebuke of the critic's scholarship). Anybody with access to Google can identify who the target is and locate his "responses" (which are no better), but the purpose of the rebuke is to point out that the quality of the article was so abysmal that the author doesn't even deserve to be mentioned by name. The message sent is one of condemnation for those who can't even rise to the level of reasonable discourse. And it is indeed a perfectly legitimate course of action for the scholar who respects his discipline enough to chastise those who merely pretend to practice it. People with a proper sense of shame and a reasonable estimation of their own competence would ordinarily want to let the issue lie. It is a rare breed indeed who would deliberately keep bringing attention to his having been publicly rebuked for incompetence.
Edit -- By the way, it takes no small degree of nerve for the same author to complain about no one calling in to the Dividing Line after he hung up on me. Evidently, it is a faux pas for anyone to call the author in question out for saying something laughable, as both Fr. Barbour and I did. I suggest that the author actually learn the subject with a sufficient degree of competence not to be considered laughable.
Evidently, for this apologist, it is perfectly alright to avoid providing meaningful bibliographical material as long as you are truly mocking your target in the service of mother Church. So, if your response is completely over the top, filled with invective and straw-men, then it is perfectly acceptable to behave in this manner! Now, if Barbour had actually tried to provide a fair response that was directed to the actual topic of the article, and did not seek to simply mock me, I guess then he would have to have followed standard canons of scholarly exchange and review. But, for those in Rome, as long as you say the article was that bad, then, it was, ipse dixit.
Prejean says my replies "are no better," which means he could easily explain the issues in regards to Sylvester, etc. All of this rhetoric is very hopeful: that is, it is written in the hope that no one will track down the original article and realize just how guilty of gross misrepresentation and a cavalier handling of the truth Hugh Barbour, Patrick Madrid, and the Envoy Magazine staff, really are.
Finally, I did hang up on Prejean. He tries to make this sound nefarious. Only problem is, he was on the air for almost fifteen minutes, and as I noted when he got on the air he had already been far less than charitable to me in his public comments. I wonder if I could get almost fifteen minutes on Catholic Answers Live if I called in? Surely not if I acted the way he did! Here is how I described his call:
First was our sophist, Jonathan Prejean, who actually managed to get me to hang up on him. That's pretty hard to do, but if you want to know how, here's how you do it: when asked simple, basic questions like, "Was the Incarnation a unique event," respond with a lengthy pause, "uuuuhhhh," and then rattle off a non-responsive answer; avoid answering all biblical questions with any biblical material, but always refer to your own (infallible) interpretation of later patristic writings; accuse me of heresy (Nestorianism) simply for not following you down the primrose path of "since the unity of divine and human in Christ does not mean we worship two Christs, but one Christ, that means everything the Bible says about worship can be thrown out, because the created has been joined to the divine," even to the point of claiming that we as the redeemed in some sense "participate" in the hypostatic union; and then, when it is pointed out that you are going backwards (defining the text by your theology rather than your theology by the text), start laughing---that will earn you the instant dialtone every time. A tremendous example of the sophistry of Prejean's form of Romanism.
Now, unlike the folks at Envoy who don't want their readers hearing (or reading) the other side, here's Prejean's call from the DL of 8/22/06.