Catholic Debate Techniques

Techniques of the Catholic Apologist

A dozen or so years ago, on an earlier incarnation of this message board, I eagerly engaged in apologetic debates with just about anyone who came forward to defend the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. It was exciting to share the Scriptures with Catholics. I must confess that I enjoyed the emotionally charged exchanges with the defenders of Romanism, but my ultimate goal was to help them to see and accept the truth that could help them to cast of the chains of Romanism.

It wasn't long before I realized that many of those who claimed the title of Catholic Apologist were not interested in arguments founded on the Scriptures; no matter how clearly I attempted to present them. Often, it appeared to me that their concerns had more to do with "winning" the exchange than with defending Catholicism. As I think back on those discussions, I believe I now understand what was behind the seemingly irresistible urge to "win," while only coincidentally defending the Catholic religion. More than a few Catholic teachings are not rooted in the Scriptures. It is easier to win a cyber street fight than it is to defend Catholic doctrine and practice from Scripture.

It was not at all unusual for a Catholic apologist to open his argument by citing a verse or two from the Bible; generally selected without regard to context. Should his evangelical opposition present the context of the verse and attempt to clarify its true meaning, the Catholic quite likely would open his bag of apologetic tricks and drag out one or another of the tried and true techniques that few competent Catholic apologists have in their arsenals.

I came to accept that, without regard to the depth of my research or the authoritative quality of sources that I cited, the Catholic response often was going to be little more than a nonsequitur. My opposition might expand upon his original position without addressing, and rarely attempting to refute, my argument. In other words, the Catholic reaction to my arguments likely would be just another cartload of Romish propaganda. Should I once again attempt to call upon Scriptures to demonstrate their error; the likely response would be canned statements, having little to do with Scripture, lifted from some online Catholic apologetics arsenal.

There seemed to be little point in preparing well-documented statements in response to postings by Catholic apologists who appeared to merely skim over what I had written and before regurgitating another canned response. This led to what has become my general practice of not engaging in online debate and to limit any response I might make to selected issues to no more than two exchanges.

There seems to be little point in offering more than two responses to challenges put forth by Catholic apologists. Such exchanges are not, as far as I am concerned, are not comparable to evangelizing. I do not believe that the Worldwide Web constitutes a usable medium for proselytizing. This is better done, I believe, as Jesus did: face-to-face.

I do not believe that online apologetic debate is the equivalent of taking the Gospel to the nations. As for those who engage in apologetic defense of the Catholic religion; I believe it accurate to say that most have been exposed to the Gospel and other biblical truth in the course of their apologetic activity. I believe that most Catholic apologists have been exposed to the truth of God's Holy Word, and have rejected it. They have been confronted with God's Truth time and time again, and have chosen to follow the false gods and false doctrine of Romanism and all of its worldly rewards.

I do not recall having encountered any Catholic apologist who was able to explain to me why they are or remain Catholic. Scripture and the testimony of history stand against their arguments; apologetically, they don't have a leg to stand on. This compels them to fall back upon low quality techniques of debating, some of which are explained in the following examples provided by Christian apologist David Gibson:.

1. Rubberstamp technique

Regurgitate Catholic doctrine without the least hint of concern as to providing a scriptural proof. Otherwise, known as propaganda.

2. Cut-and-paste technique

Find the closest doctrinal defense on a Catholic apologetics website, stick it into your clipboard and post away. Upon receiving a scriptural rebuttal, switch the topic to Catholic infallibility and then utilize the rubberstamp technique.

3. Accusation of hate technique

Insist vehemently that your opponent is full of hate. It is always advisable to paint your opponent as hateful. This technique should always contain a reference to your extreme lovingness and the limitless bounds of your great humility.

4. Mystery interpretation technique

Any text can mean anything when interpreted under the mystical interpretation technique. Use this to your advantage; then utilize the rubberstamp technique. Most often used with Eucharistic defenses. Symbolic? No! Literal? No! Mysterious? What else can you do?

5. Words without meaning technique If you are encountering roadblocks because of a particular word you previously used in your apologetic, or if what you've described is the definition of a word detrimental to your defense, simply deny the basic word meaning of the troubling term. Due to its effectiveness, this apologetic has become so popular that it has been adopted by the President.

6. Bait and Switch technique

If your apologetics are being shot down repeatedly, it is because you are staying on one topic for too long. In the Catholic apologetics arena, it is always a good idea to present a moving target. If your perpetual virginity defense is becoming an embarrassment, switch it to a virgin birth defense; pretend your opponent has denied it and act outraged at his heresy.

7. Attack Sola Scriptura technique

Put forth that scripture is only one of the sources of God's revelation. However, due to the overwhelming levels of contradictory doctrines, this will usually have to be accompanied with the rubberstamping technique.

8. Attack Martin Luther technique

This can be used as a companion apologetic to the Attack Sola Scriptura technique. Always refer to your opponent as a Protestant to imply that Biblical Christianity began with the "Reformation." Insist the opponent is a follower of Martin Luther. Do not accept any denials of this. Rubberstamp him as a follower of Martin Luther if they refute this accusation.

9. Stalking technique

Harass the Christian until he becomes a Catholic. Can utilize any of the other above methods. The object is to fill his e-mail and guest book daily with Catholic apologetics. When your opponent will no longer respond to you, insist that he is afraid to debate you. Continue to harass him until he denounces speaking out against Catholicism or you are at risk of losing your ISP account for a second time. If you are about to lose your ISP a second time, pass the baton over to a fellow Catholic apologist.

10. Babbling technique

Remember when you were a kid. If you closed your eyes, danger would go away. This technique is a variation on that theme. When backed into a corner, begin babbling about anything remotely related to the topic on hand and the opponent may forget that you were ever engaged in a debate in the first place. With all the other fine Catholic apologetic techniques available, this one is usually not advised.

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