I have had some contact with Dave Armstrong, Catholic web-apologist.
Originally I said hello to him since I discovered him on the web and found out that his testimony was in a book about people who had converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, and I had edited a book of conversion stories myself through not stories that led in that particular direction. (I was also raised and confirmed Catholic in my youth, before I became a born again Christian inerrantist, which of course was before I eventually left the Christian fold.) So Dave and I had both undergone some religious changes to say the least. I also noticed the enormity and beauty of Daveʼs Catholic apologetics site, and his eagerness to write book after book that sell better than my little collection of testimonies has done. (Though Dave might admit Catholicism is a large easily identifiable group with a particular “market” if I can use the phrase, while my book was not marketed toward any group in particular, since the testimonies in it were simply of people whose views grew away from fundamentalist Protestantism.)
I was also pleased to read Daveʼs online articles in which Lutherʼs and Calvinʼs foibles and the dissenting opinions of Reformer contra Reformer, and against Catholics, Jews and Anabaptists were displayed. Protestants are not likely to discuss the history of dissent and intolerance among their own kind. But then Catholics are not likely to write articles that focus on the questionable past teachings, theological dogmas, and intolerant acts of famous popes, bishops, and other prominent Catholics throughout history. Since I like to see balance on the web, I think Dave provides a much needed balance with his Protestant critiques. Speaking of balance, Iʼd like to see more Christians debating Christians on the web since they understand each other more to begin with. Thatʼs also why I composed the Christian Evolutionist Resources page, so I could point anti-evolutionary Christians to the books and websites of their pro-evolutionary brethren. I have often envisioned the perfect website as one in which a Christian could be redirected to the articles and webpages of other Christians who hold differing views on many doctrines related to science, history, infallibility, inerrancy, teachings, practices, eschatology, and soteriology.
After exchanging cordial introductions with Dave, he sent me an email months later that announced he had composed a rebuttal to a small article of mine regarding the psalms. In fact he sent me more than one email to ask me if I would please respond/debate him on that topic on his blog. Dave was apparently working on adding to his series of debates at his website and didnʼt have many with agnostics. I didnʼt immediately respond until heʼd sent me a few more invitations. Finally I sent him a response at his blog, and misunderstandings soon followed misunderstandings. It quickly got out of hand. I asked a Catholic scholar about the same psalms and he showed Catholic solidarity with Dave on that issue, though to this day, I donʼt understand how either Dave or Dr. Black truly understand the meaning of those particular psalms. To me they read like their authors were envisioning fears of earthly death and lying down in the dust of sheol where all the dead were believed to go, and hence any blessing in this world that entailed lengthening oneʼs life, and/or the lives of oneʼs progeny, was considered a blessing from God, while the shortening of oneʼs life or the lives of oneʼs progeny was considered a curse from God. After our debate, I contacted Dave again, with the following message, summing up the experience. I think this might have been a better beginning to our debate than the one I actually sent him.
Philʼs comments on Armstrong-Babinski Debate:
From just a brief skimming at Dave Armstrongʼs critique of yours on the Psalms — are all the people of the world somehow supposed to correctly grasp all these nuances in the scripture and still come to a saving knowledge of Jesus?
The Bible by itself is quite strange to me. Making sense of it almost seems stranger.
As regards suffering, after knowing a few Christian women who were raped — one at the Kansas City “School of the Prophets” — I still find the problem of evil and the goodness of God, and Godʼs “plan” for our lives still a problem.
I mention “Christian” women because we were often taught in evangelical circles that once we turned our lives over to God and obeyed Him, blessings would follow. More like madness and confusion.
The fact that the world is a mess and that thereʼs a need for kindness and generosity is not a problem. But introducing God and the Bible as an explanation and solution in the mix seems to unnecessarily complicate things.
As to Christian testimonies and the road to victory, the once famous “prophet” and colleague of Branham, Paul Cain has recently been disfellowshipped for being an unrepentant homosexual and alcoholic. Hereʼs the guy who was being paraded by the Vineyard/Third Wave movement as the foremost “prophet” of Godʼs new move and revival, a man who purportedly had Jesus literally appear and talk to him. This was reported by Rick Joynerʼs ministry — Morningstar or Eaglestar in November of 2004. Paul Cain was “prophesying” whole cities coming to the Lord in the 90ʼs and countless saints walking through hospitals and emptying them by healing. Oh well.
My life has been far simpler without those type of people and you donʼt need scripture to see the benefits of kindness.
Dave Armstrong at least called you a friendly acquaintance!
PhilLabels: catholicism, christianity, philosophy, quotes, skepticism, theology
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