Monday, April 30, 2012

Debating with Protestants.....

Over the last decade I have spent a whole lot of time listening to debates between Catholics and Protestants. Many people think this a waste of time, but I actually have learned a great deal from them. Lately, I have been focusing in on Dr. James White's debates with Catholics. He is director of Alpha and Omega Ministries and comes to the debates in the Reformed Baptist perspective.

What I have been suspecting for years and now feel I very comfortable in writing publicly is that many Protestants who debate Catholics are not debating their opponent or their opponent's theology. Dr. James White is a master example of this-- loving and respecting the Catholic he is debating, but then deflecting (sometimes even in a patronizing humor) the opponents assertions and creating his own debate partner.

You see, Dr. White basically ignores what his opponent is saying about Catholicism, he culls out of history a quote from who he really wishes to debate (inevitably a Catholic who has described Catholic beliefs in the most strident of terms or the anathemas of the Council of Trent) and then sets them as who his debate partner.

He has to portray Catholics in the worst of lights because he desperately needs a bad guy to shoot.

White is not debating, White is exposing....

Many Protestants do not trust Catholics or Catholic leaders because they do not see them as Christians with simply another interpretation of scripture, simply a different interpretation as theirs. A respectful debate of one interpretation agains the other is not at all what is going on.

White, representing many other Protestant debaters I have heard, doesn't focus in on the actual thesis that is being presented. He want to go to the jugular. He want to expose the Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon. He want to show that the Catholic church rejects the Bible (code for rejecting his personal intrpretation) and is a idolatrous, Jesus-crucifying, works-oriented, blasphemous antichrist.

These type of Protestants cannot trust anything their Catholic opponents say because they believe that whatever comes out of the mouth of the beast is there to deceive and corrupt. They are there to expose the wolf under the sheep's clothing, the snake under Peter's rock.

Therefore White tips his hat to his Catholic opponent and then dismisses him and his version of Catholicism (after all, White understands he is a good, sincere guy and must be loved even if deceived) and then sets up the attack on the Catholicism he believes to be the true deceptive Catholicism.

It wouldn't really be a big deal to me except that White actually represents the basis of why Catholics and Protestants can't seem to unite. We can express all day how much we love Christ, how much we read scripture and worship Him. We can present our views of the infallibility of scripture and try and convince that we indeed are true Christians and just interpret the scriptures differently in light of Christian history, rather than as individuals today.

If Protestants see us as the Whore of Babylon attempting to deceive the whole world, we may be just wasting our time. Martin Luther and later Reformers successfully placed into the waters a poison of distrust for anything Catholic. They have successfully seared onto Catholicism itself the blackest of hats. (And our own behaviors have just reinforced their harsh judgments.)

I can see the problem, I just can't see the answer..... except in a miracle from Christ.

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