Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Dave Armstrong Shuffle
04/06/2007 - James WhiteThose who monitor the comings and goings of Roman Catholic apologists on the Internet know of Dave Armstrong. I have not interacted with the man in quite some time on this blog. I took the time a while back to examine one of his books directly, demonstrate its utter lack of meaningful argumentation, and challenge him to defend himself. He collapsed into a puddle of goo, ran for the hills, vowing to never again have anything to do with "anti-Catholics." That lasted for a while, but, before long, he was back. Recently DA has been acting like his old self again, even offering to debate me and give me all sorts of extra time (because, obviously, against someone of his apologetic prowess, I'd need it...unlike the rest of his compatriots). He's become downright nasty and demeaning, but again, this is nothing new for DA. Some will remember the cartoon disaster of a while back, and if you have ever been on his massive site, you will find lots of pictures of me with distortions, color changes, and the like. He truly strikes me as a kind of stalker. Anyway, I explained to him that arranging a debate with him would be problematic for the obvious reason that he can't be trusted. He is not stable. He swings from pillar to post, and if we did, in fact, arrange a formal debate today, how could anyone trust that next week he won't have yet another change of heart, make another vow to avoid anti-Catholics, and bag out?
I was looking through some old files tonight and I ran across the following, posted by DA on March 14, 2001. It is just one of many such examples of the instability of Dave Armstrong. Here it is, and remember, anything that could be said in 100 words can be said by Dave Armstrong in only 10,000:
I, DAVE ARMSTRONG, DO HEREBY RESOLVE TO CEASE AND DESIST EVEN FROM *MENTION* OF DR. JAMES WHITE AND TIM ENLOE (and strongly urge other Catholics to do the same)
Posted by Dave Armstrong on March 14, 2001 at 19:32:43:
Thanks for reminding me of, and provoking me to my own actual preference, down deep. You have done me a great service indeed, and I appreciate it. One can get caught up in all the controversies with anti-Catholics, and thus cite the "king" and most supposedly "respectable" of the anti-Catholics too much.
The better part of my judgment agrees that this is excessive, for I have been urging Catholic apologists to not engage White in *public* (oratorical) debate for many years now. I turned him down in 1995 and twice in our recent exchanges. Funny, though, how he keeps challenging *me* to debate him, since he considers me an absolutely unworthy and unqualified opponent, a pompous, foul-mouthed, dishonest and devious blowhard, etc. - things he has verbally expressed in one way or another many times. Yes, quite odd. But I don't think it is all that hard to figure out, without too much effort.
I don't think Bishop White (though possessed of a brilliant intellect and truckloads of admirable zeal) is a serious scholar or apologist, when it comes to Catholicism, and I have always said he was a sophist and obscurantist in debate (which I suspect lies at the root of his intense personal hostility towards me). I don't care where he went to school. I'm a big fan of informal education myself.
It's what he *does* with the knowledge he has (*wherever* he obtained it) that I and dozens of others who have been blessed by meeting his acquaintance object to. He has engaged in more-or-less constant public slander and incessant insulting of both persons and groups such as Catholic Answers.
He more than qualifies, therefore, as a "slanderer" by biblical standards. When something is manifest literally hundreds of times, one is altogether justified in coming to this sad conclusion. It is not true that one can *never* make such a judgment; it is permissible biblically when the evidence of repeated offense becomes compelling. Slander is a sin which is easily documented, because it is directly connected to facts and evidence.
White thinks I am all these terrible things he claims. That's fine. You know: I am guilty of everything but tearing the wings off of flies, deliberately running over squirrels, and pushing old ladies into the mud. People can look through my writings and try to find what he thinks he sees in them. They can read my long paper documenting his sins of lying and slander and complete unwillingness to repent of such actions and words, and how both he and I conducted ourselves. It's all documented. And White won't touch it with a ten-foot pole. That's a pathetic place to be: scared to death of your own words and what they indicate and illustrate (since my paper is *filled* with his own words; some 60-70% of its contents).
Dr. White - to be fair - does a good deal of decent and helpful work in other areas (KJV-only, various cults, the Trinity, pro-life) which I appreciate (his life is not by any means *solely* devoted to bashing and lying about Catholics and their Church; he is a Protestant/Reformed apologist as well), but like so many others, his rationality and objectivity seem to go out the window when he deals with Catholicism.
But anyway, in addition to not debating White "live," I think we should all ignore him in writing, too, and desist from even mentioning the man. In fact, a well-known priest has been almost begging me to utterly ignore Bishop White, and your post reminded me that indeed he is right. All the attention only feeds White's ego and gives him a legitimacy and importance he doesn't deserve. He has been refuted times without number in writing, so there is no need at all to increase his notoriety or exposure any more by granting him the legitimacy which comes with serious dialogue. He ought to be *utterly* ignored now. I'm just now realizing that, late in the game. I hope others follow suit, because this has been much discussed in private amongst apologists.
I only mentioned him so much on this board because he has not repented of his sin of slander. So I have kept after him; no different in essence and purpose than the prophets of old preaching their message, though often unheeded, or like Jesus "haranguing" the Pharisees, or Paul refuting the Judaizers, or St. Augustine the Manichees or Donatists, or St. Athanasius the Arians, or C.S. Lewis the scientific materialists, or John Paul II the culture of death and its promoters. I have a bad habit of rebuking slander, gossip, and "evil talk" whenever I see them.
But enough is enough. We need to wash our hands of Bishop White once and for all. It's "sandal-shaking" time. He won't listen to us. We can only hope and pray that he will be rebuked for these sins by honorable, decent men in his own circle of trusted friends and allies (perhaps some are "working on him " right now, as I write). This is not an area of ethics which is all that different amongst Protestants and Catholics.
My problem (and struggle, in the present instance) is that I truly, passionately believe in the dialogical or dialectical spirit or enterprise. I am idealistic and naive enough to think that when people talk to one another; *really* listen to opposing views, and maintain an open-minded willingness to learn and to be corrected, that the cause of both truth and understanding can be furthered (*hopelessly* idealistic, I am, for sure! And it is a cause of much pain and frustration, believe me).
So I enthusiastically welcomed the recent opportunities of dialogue with Tim Enloe and also Dr. White, despite the ugly, distasteful past, especially with the latter. We see how things have turned out, however. Tim has now cast me to the wind over a difference of interpretation of Luther's words and my vehement opposition to his silly and fatuous psychoanalysis of me and my motivations for doing what I do (which he in turn claimed was my allegedly evident "martyr/persecution complex").
Dr. White resolved (for the fourth time or so) to never communicate with me again as well (one can read everything on my site). His reason? Well, the immediate cause, as far as I can tell, was a dispute about what the word "bishop" means! I claimed that Baptists didn't believe in bishops. That highly offended him; he said that he *himself* was a "bishop" (hence my sarcastically calling him that ever since, with a very serious underlying point and intent, as with all sarcasm).
I tried to maintain a rational conversation with him, as I perceived (wrongly, in retrospect) that there may have been some hopeful openness to personal progress and true communication between us (because, e.g., he had made an agreement to stop the ad hominem attacks with apologist Bob Sungenis), but all to no avail.
I told him I would remove my long paper about his slanders if he would simply retract them and cease and desist (just as I asked him twice in one day to please desist so that I wouldn't have to put the paper up in the first place). But no matter. It's my fault, I guess, that I made this egregious error of making a "novel" or "unheard-of" or "offensive" claim about episcopacy and Baptists that can be found and verified in any Protestant Bible Dictionary or book about Church government, or denominations.
So I tried; I really did, but events have confirmed my longstanding objective, "realistic" appraisal of the situation (despite dashing my hopes and idealism). Both these men have proven themselves incapable of, and unwilling to engage in, calm, rational, open-minded, non-hostile conversation with Catholics on an ongoing basis.
They both want to blame me for their shortcomings, of course. Let them. Blame-shifting goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. My big mistake was in believing that both men were better people down deep than their behavior suggested. My great fault was to try to believe the best of them - to actually dare to hope and believe that we could overcome this personal fiasco and farce which has befallen us.
I explained why I have mentioned White so much, and the reason was *not* an obsession with him. You say that it is. Very well, then. Tell me what proof I could offer to *falsify* this *psychological* claim of yours that my frequent mention of him was not based on a resolve to rebuke him ethically (as I claim), but rather on "obsession" and "personal issues"? If you can conceive of no *falsification* of your claim, then it is an irrational claim in the first place, and you have no basis for making it; and I have already provided my own explanation, which you reject.
So again, tell me what I could say to possibly *disprove* your contention vis-a-vis myself and White.
That aside, I do wish to thank you again, for prodding me to actually go back to my own better principles. Neither White nor Enloe, in my humble opinion, have proven themselves worthy of being interacted with by serious Catholic Christians, interested in the promotion of further understanding and unity between the two camps - even while allowing the complete freedom for both sides to vigorously argue their principles and deeply-held beliefs, where there are sincere differences.
So starting immediately, I resolve to neither interact with, nor to even mention at all, James White and Tim Enloe. They don't deserve any further attention or notoriety. I urge all other Catholics and especially Catholic apologists to do the same (though of course I have no real authority to compel anyone to do anything; I can only suggest). This is consistent with many biblical injunctions urging us to avoid those who cause divisions, and slanderers, and to avoid "senseless, stupid controversies," "vain conversation," etc.
I am always extremely reluctant to apply those passages to a particular person because of my idealism and my atrocious habit of "believing and hoping all things" about people (1 Cor 13). But it is a sad necessity at times.
Furthermore, I am through with debating all anti-Catholics (i.e., ones who deny the Christian status of Catholicism), from this moment. That was my position for several years, and we never allowed anti-Catholics on my apologetics/ecumenism list, because we knew that they killed both good conversation and charitable relations amongst different Christian groups. But for some reason I have gotten sucked into this sort of thing again in the last year or two.
I know for one thing that I wanted to give Tim Enloe a chance to show that he was different because he is a very sharp and perceptive guy, who also proved that he was (admirably) capable of public apology (unlike Dr. White, when it comes to Catholic apologists). I wanted to believe the best of him, and try to achieve an "opening" of discourse and increased mutual understanding.
That was a miserably failed experiment, which greatly saddens and distresses me, but does not surprise me, because it is perfectly consistent with the virtually universal experience of all Catholic apologists in interaction with anti-Catholics or near-anti-Catholics (as Tim is). I also greatly underestimated Tim's emotional antipathy towards Catholicism, which has been abundantly evident as of late.
The only exception I will allow myself is if one or both of these men make a profound retraction of slanders and gross errors of fact in their past presentation. Of course, at that point I will interact with them, as a function of charity, mercy, and forgiveness, and urge others to, as well.
I publicly apologized to Tim on this board for my excesses in our recent exchange (he did *not* acknowledge my apology. If I missed it, someone can send me the post). I have apologized to Dr. White many times, on the record. There are apologies of mine right now on the Internet, on my paper about his tactics - near the end, which he has never acknowledged, either. I have never maintained that I was perfect in all these fiascos. Far from it. But I have issued apologies on several occasions and have always been willing to discuss things, if there was some opening, or lessening of rancor and hostility. All we can do is get up after we fall, brush ourselves off, repent, and try to do better, by God's grace.
I will also continue to defend and examine (and modify, as the case may be) any of my posted papers, as a result of a substantive, valid critique. That has always been my policy, and even this resolve cannot undo that.
I'm counting on you, Ronnie, to immediately rebuke me if I forget this resolve and mess up! :-) If you think I *can't* keep this resolve because of the supposed "obsession" you think I have, then watch me. You will be in for a big surprise. I feel much better already. I should have done this five years ago.
But papers have been written exposing the errors and attitudes of anti-Catholicism, and they will remain on my site. There are many other apologists who can now fight various errors and individuals, when it is required. It's time for me to move on. I no longer have the *patience* for this sort of thing, anyway, even beyond all the issues discussed above.
In our Lord Jesus,
At the end of this Armstrong put a P.S., "All the time I have spent dealing with anti-Catholics, I can now spend with these four precious people" and then posted a picture of his family. I invite him to consider well the wisdom of his words from just over six years ago.