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Author Topic: Canned Arguments/Straw Men  (Read 3094 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: January 19, 2005, 06:38:56 PM »

Ok, hopefully this can stay non-polemical! Smiley

I'll admit that sometimes being around Catholics when they engage in apologetics (with a Protestant audience) can be frustrating for me as an Orthodox Christian. To give an example, one of the less volatile subjects which evokes frustration in me is the canon of scripture. Catholics make arguments like: "The canon was settled at the end of the 4th century. It wasn't until Luther in the 16th century that anyone changed the Scripture," or "The Catholic Church uses the LXX, which is what the Apostles used, so if you don't use all the books in the LXX you are not using the correct ones". I'm not saying that these are outright lies, but only that things are far more complex than they are saying, and that I don't believe these statements could be called accurate if made in an apologetical discussion (where theological precision should be sought, and an examination of all available evidence should be done, if at all possible).

But the point of this thread was not to "bash" Catholics or bring up a pet peeve. Actually, my intention is the opposite. I'd like to invite Catholics to post here what they feel to be canned arguments or straw men on the Orthodox side of things. Are there arguments that we use or claims that we make which just drives you bonkers? I ask for two reasons. First, because if we as Orthodox are (or I personally am) holding to something incorrect, I'd like to know about it so that we can examine our beliefs and correct them if necessary. And second, because weak arguments makes for a weak witness, and in a fallen world I think we need to get as much good done for Christ as we can.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2005, 06:39:23 PM by Paradosis » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2005, 06:54:52 PM »

Why Paradosis,

I'm thinking more "Orthodox" than "Roman Catholic" daily.

could it be a.... metamorphosis ?

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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2005, 11:42:10 AM »

 . . . . no takers.
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2005, 02:24:49 PM »

Presently I'm reading up on Bishops Strossmayer, Dupanloup and Gonolli who protested papal infalliability etc @ Vatican I.

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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2005, 06:23:54 PM »

Cizinec, first let me say that your avatar cracks me up. 

As for canned responses, the only thing I can think of is the "you wouldn't understand because you're western" response.  Of course there's a lot of truth to that so it's not technically a "canned" response but it can be frustrating for a westerner.   
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2005, 07:16:33 PM »

Jennifer,

Yeah, I agree. I think that sometimes part of the problem is that some people really are anti-western, no matter what the situation. But even people who mean well, like me?, we aren't very precise when we say "the west". What we normally mean is that "the west" has a common cultural, philosophical, and religious heritage and so came to approach subjects from the same vantage point, even if they often came to very different conclusions. The east learned to think about things differently, and so not only sometimes came to different conclusions, but more importantly asked wholly different questions and approached things from a whole other vantage point. More specifically (IMO), in the west the tendency towards Roman culture prevailed, which meant on emphasis on law, order, and the intellect; while in the east, the tendency was towards Greek and Near Eastern culture, which meant an emphasis on philosophy, conciliarity, and action/belief working together.

This is debatable, but perhaps if we said stuff like this people would understand that we're not just trying to knock "the west" down for no good reason, but because we really do think we are thinking from different perspectives and have to acknowledge that if we are to come to some sort of understanding. You can't come to any type of meaningful agreement if you differ in your premises; or leastwise you are building a house of sand that will eventually crumble. That's one reason I'm very much in favor of Orthodox Christians doing studies of Bl. Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, etc., and Catholics doing studies of Sts. Phtoius, Gregory Palamas, etc. I get the feeling that, on the net anyway, a lot of people blast the saints from the "other side" without having actually taken hte time to investigate those saints. God forgive me, I know I've done that.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2005, 07:18:32 PM by Paradosis » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2005, 07:35:58 PM »

I haven't replied here since the starter question was addressed to RCs.  So I don't know if any strawmen/canned arguments/tossed off factoids that I have seen would be pertinent.  Please advise.  Smiley

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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2005, 07:39:04 PM »

Please do post. Smiley Actually, when I saw Keble looking at a few of these threads a few days ago, I was waiting for a slew of posts... lol
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2005, 09:49:37 PM »

C'mon Ebor,

We need some of that LOTR/Anglican wisdom within this subject.

May I say I have found the "Old Catholic Union" interesting also.

james, justa wandering

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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2005, 05:15:16 PM »

When I first read the Kalomiros paper on salvation I have to say I found it pretty exhilarating. It was such a total departure from what I had thought before. Going back and reading it after some time now however, I think it is fairly replete with straw men and doesn’t reflect a complete picture of the complexity of differing soteriological views in western theology.
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2005, 06:51:55 PM »

Well, first example is a two-fer, canned straw as it were  Smiley  that is specifically aimed at Anglicans/Episcopalians, to wit:

"Your Church was only started to that Henry VIII could have a divorce/get another wife"

i.e. the only reason there is an Anglican Communion is lust, promiscuity and that the King wanted a new woman or two to bed.  There is no understanding or accounting of the political situation, Henry's belief in the need for an male heir to the throne nor that other heads of state had be granted divorces over the centuries.  But the Pope did not grant one to Henry due to pressure from Catherine of Aragon's nephew who was the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. 
http://tudorhistory.org/aragon/  for any who would like a bit more information.

This often seems to be tossed off to discount Anglicans as having anything to say in discussions, ("your're not from a *real* Christian Church.  Yours is just based on sin"  ) and I have seen it from both RC and EO posters in the past (not here that I recall. But I've been in on-line religion groups for some years.) 

I hope that that is not polemic. 

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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2005, 06:53:21 PM »

C'mon Ebor,

We need some of that LOTR/Anglican wisdom within this subject.

May I say I have found the "Old Catholic Union" interesting also.

james, justa wandering



Well, I don't know about any wisdom on my part... but thanks for the kind words.  Smiley

You're wondering about the Old Catholic link?

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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2005, 11:43:45 AM »

Ebor,

Quote
i.e. the only reason there is an Anglican Communion is lust, promiscuity and that the King wanted a new woman or two to bed.  There is no understanding or accounting of the political situation, Henry's belief in the need for an male heir to the throne nor that other heads of state had be granted divorces over the centuries.  But the Pope did not grant one to Henry due to pressure from Catherine of Aragon's nephew who was the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.

Umm, dude, you're basically admitting that the Catholic/Orthodox who criticize Anglicanism in this way are correct to do so; only that you think (or seem to) that Henry's desire for a legitimate male heir was reasonable from a Catholic p.o.v.

I think it's really unfair for you to attribute the Pope's refusal to grant the King a "divorce" primarily to political pressures arising elsewhere.

1) The western Church basically has no canonical tradition of granting "ecclessiastical divorces" as the eastern Churches developed.

2) Even in the Orthodox Church, where there are some canonical grounds for contracting a second marriage while your previous spouse is still alive, don't expect any sympathy here - your wife not giving you the "right kind" of offspring isn't one of them, no matter how politically vexing this may be.

3) The issue in the case of Kink Henry did not, strictly speaking, involve a divorce (though this is essentially what the Henry wanted) - but rather something even more absurd - he wanted a declaration of nullity (or what most people call, falsely, an "annulment").  Though the debased/debauched heirarchy of the modern western Roman Catholic Church is in the business of regularly issuing such bogus declaractions (at least bogus as far as any sane person has to be concerned), this definatly wasn't the case only a few decades ago, and certainly not in the period we're talking about.  Let's be clear - a declaration of nullity means that an ecclessiastical tribunal has found that there were impediments at the time the marriage was contracted and witnessed (whether they be canonical or a result of natural law - ex. two siblings trying to marry), which invalidated the whole thing.  In other words, the couple involved were never married to begin with.  It's outrageous to suppose even for a second that Kink Henry had any reasonable grounds to claim his marriage was invalid from the get go - there was no real stunning revelation on his part of information to this effect; rather all he had was the frustration of not being able to get his wife to spit out a male heir (a "defect" which modern science informs us is the man's "fault", btw.) No dice.

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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2005, 01:12:53 PM »

*as an aside* Isn't English history great...the whole time period of the Tudors was a tangled tangled web. I read a huge book on the subject of King Henry and the religious/political machinations, reasonings, etc etc, and when i find it again i will post that to you (if you like to read huge volumes)

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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2005, 04:09:28 PM »

I admit nothing of what you say, nor am I looking for "sympathy". That is not the topic of this thread nor is Tudor politics, but perhaps a digression may be permitted.

I should like to request that such phrases as "Kink Henry"  and "dude" not be indulged in. Respect in disagreement is helpful in communicating.

As Aurelia has stated English History, and history in general, is complicated and tangled in many different strands.

There were divorces/annulments amoung the ruling classes long before the Tudors. Louis of France divorced Eleanor of Aquataine. King John of England was divorced from his first wife. David II of Scotland divorced Margaret Drummond. More examples may be given if needed. Marriages in the higher estate were commonly matters of alliance and political advantage. If affairs of state changed or a better alliance was seen as a possibility marriages could be taken care of.

The Pope gave a dispensation that Henry might marry Catherine of Aragon since she had previously been married to Henry's older brother who died. Henry later asked that the marriage be annulled as not valid because of this previous marriage and that it was why God was not giving him a male heir.
I have read more on this subject then you seem to suppose. As to the the political pressure on the then Pope from Charles V, he was the prisoner of the Emperor at the time. I may suggest such readings as

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_V%2C_Holy_Roman_Emperor
http://www.iridis.com/glivar/Charles_V,_Holy_Roman_Emperor

and "Keepers of the Keys" by Cheetam

These are the first things to come to mind. Others may be provided if requested.

I would suggest that the matter of legitmate male heirs to thrones, dukedoms and other estates was a matter of great concern that was not limited to Henry but may be found in many seats of power throughout history.

We know now that it is the male who determines the sex of a child. It was not known 500 years ago. Judging the past with the pattern of the present is often a mistake.

But that is not what the thread was started to deal with. The canned straw is that the Anglican church was *only* started because of sex. This is not the historical case.

My apologies to Paradosis and Jakub and the company for the sidetrack.

Ebor


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« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2005, 09:14:28 PM »

Here is another canned argument/factoid that I have come across, to get back on topic I hope:

It is often tossed out against "Protestants" that there are 20,000/22,00/25,000/30,000... different "Protestant" groups with an implication that with such disagreement and splintering they can be discounted.  I have seen the numbers change over the past 5 years or so on newsgroups and other on-line places, always increasing.

It is a very Human thing to want big or small numbers to suppport ideas that we like, it seems to me.  But the first question is:

"Where are the numbers coming from?" then "Is it a reliable source?" and "What are the statistics really about and how were they counted?"

not just "I like the numbers/they support my point so they must be True."

As a side note, I recommend a book that's been around for 50 years and been reissued: "How to Lie with Statistics" by Darrell Huff.  It is an excellent readable little book that explains how people use numbers to fool us.

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« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2005, 10:13:57 PM »

Here is another canned argument/factoid that I have come across, to get back on topic I hope:

It is often tossed out against "Protestants" that there are 20,000/22,00/25,000/30,000... different "Protestant" groups with an implication that with such disagreement and splintering they can be discounted. I have seen the numbers change over the past 5 years or so on newsgroups and other on-line places, always increasing.

It is a very Human thing to want big or small numbers to suppport ideas that we like, it seems to me. But the first question is:

"Where are the numbers coming from?" then "Is it a reliable source?" and "What are the statistics really about and how were they counted?"

not just "I like the numbers/they support my point so they must be True."

As a side note, I recommend a book that's been around for 50 years and been reissued: "How to Lie with Statistics" by Darrell Huff. It is an excellent readable little book that explains how people use numbers to fool us.

Ebor

But in this case, one could just say "thousands" and have the same impact while not embellishing.
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« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2005, 01:04:04 AM »



But in this case, one could just say "thousands" and have the same impact while not embellishing.

But would it?  And what impact would that be?  "Thousands" could mean 2000 or 100,000+.  There is a power in numbers.  Then again, a question would be, maybe "Oh?  How many?  Who counted them?"  What is your source? 

One point is *Where do the numbers come from?*   Sources matter

Frankly, after a thread in the EO newgroup it seemed like the (over time inflated) numbers were just being tossed into the discussion with no real understanding of them.  Just a device that was supposed to quash any "Protestants" or to dismiss what they had to say.

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« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2005, 01:45:42 PM »

This had me think of another question...

Why are Canned Arguments and Strawmen used?  Are they *really* supposed to be convincing in a discussion/arguement/disagreement?

Thinking is Good.

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« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2005, 02:02:35 PM »

But would it? And what impact would that be? "Thousands" could mean 2000 or 100,000+.

All right, say we say 2,000.  Let's even bet conservatively: 1,000.  Or even 100 (I've never seen any statistic come even close to this low).  The point of using this idea is the fact that, among the catholic confessions who allow the universal tradition of the ancient Church to guide their interpretation of Scripture and doctrine, there are pretty much three to five options: Roman Catholicism, Byzantine Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, possibly (very) conservative Anglo-Catholicism...those are the only ones that I can think of.

Compare this to even 100 Protestant sects that all claim that Scripture alone is the sole and ultimate determiner of their doctrine, and yet vary so greatly on so many doctrines yet still claim to be "one in Christ" -- I don't see this as as much of a "straw man" as you.
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« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2005, 03:12:06 PM »

I've actually done some research into the famous 22,000 number. It comes from Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia. It's not the number of Protestant groups, but the number of all christian groups.

I've studied this work a bit, and I see several things he's done which inflate this number. For one thing, he counts each body in every country in which it appears, which means that there are 200 Catholic churches, not one. He also isn't entirely consistent about how he counts the splinter Orthodox and Anglican groups, so that the numbers given for Orthodox and Anglican bodies are a bit arbitrary.

It's also important to understand that half of the bodies counted are in Africa. Most of these he does not count as "protestant" because they are too tenuously connected to the historic reformed churches. When he starts dividing "independents" from "protestants", first, the former group is much, much larger, and second, it contains lots of groups which are orthodox-like or catholic-like or anglican-like.

Looking more closely, what one finds is that for most church "flavors" in the USA, there are no more than a couple of bodies which contain the vast majority of members of that "flavor". In most cases a single body holds the vast majority (ECUSA, PCUSA, ELCA, UMC...). The conspicuous exception is the vast sea of baptist-polity groups, for whom organization into larger polities isn't what they do (the SBC isn't really supposed to be a polity per se, though the fundamentalists keep trying to make it into one).

Internationally? Well, only the Catholic Church really exists as a single international polity. (Well, and the Mormons, but....) And there's an obvious reason for this: national churches are an obvious unit of polity for legal reasons.

It's really only fair to complain about defects in polity. Orthodoxy is particularly bad on this point, though the Anglicans are trying hard to catch up with them.
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« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2005, 03:16:44 PM »



All right, say we say 2,000. Let's even bet conservatively: 1,000. Or even 100 (I've never seen any statistic come even close to this low). The point of using this idea is the fact that, among the catholic confessions who allow the universal tradition of the ancient Church to guide their interpretation of Scripture and doctrine, there are pretty much three to five options: Roman Catholicism, Byzantine Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, possibly (very) conservative Anglo-Catholicism...those are the only ones that I can think of.

Compare this to even 100 Protestant sects that all claim that Scripture alone is the sole and ultimate determiner of their doctrine, and yet vary so greatly on so many doctrines yet still claim to be "one in Christ" -- I don't see this as as much of a "straw man" as you.

...and exactly why I said "thousands" would have the same impact.
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« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2005, 03:27:22 PM »

I've actually done some research into the famous 22,000 number. It comes from Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia. It's not the number of Protestant groups, but the number of all christian groups.

You are correct on this.

Quote
Looking more closely, what one finds is that for most church "flavors" in the USA, there are no more than a couple of bodies which contain the vast majority of members of that "flavor". In most cases a single body holds the vast majority (ECUSA, PCUSA, ELCA, UMC...). The conspicuous exception is the vast sea of baptist-polity groups, for whom organization into larger polities isn't what they do (the SBC isn't really supposed to be a polity per se, though the fundamentalists keep trying to make it into one).

Right, but even though Orthodox have their share of splinters (groups, that is), the tendency among these baptist groups (and episcopal/anglo-catholic groups and methodist groups and so on) to form rival synods or denominations is much more apparent.  Which gets into what the Church even is, which is a whole 'nother ball o' wax...

Quote
national churches are an obvious unit of polity for legal reasons.

Sorry...could you define "unit of polity" for me please?  :-  Then I'll know what our two confessions are so bad at...   Wink
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« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2005, 04:34:30 PM »

Right, but even though Orthodox have their share of splinters (groups, that is), the tendency among these baptist groups (and episcopal/anglo-catholic groups and methodist groups and so on) to form rival synods or denominations is much more apparent.

But, um, I think it's only really apparent for the baptists.

Until quite recently, the Anglicans existed as a single international confederation involving non-overlapping national churches (India for some reason has two, but they don't overlap). The split-offs were very few (not true anymore) and tiny (still true). The pattern for the other Protestant mainlines has been consolidation. Other groups which existed as a bunch of denominations merged and merged until there was basically a single main body, a couple of substantial (but small) dissenting sects, and various tiny splinters.

For instance, you can look at this diagram of Presbyterian bodies in the USA. Of the surviving Presbyterian bodies, all of the rest put together is about 15% of PCUSA totals, and and almost all of that is accounted for by one body. The pattern is even more striking for ELCA, because like the Orthodox they had a pattern of ethnic churches in the USA. That has almost entirely been eliminated through mergers. The pattern for the UMC is similar.

Orthodoxy in the USA resists this. OCA, GOA, ROCOR and AOC are of the same order of magnitude, but it seems that every attempt to eliminate their overlapping jurisdictions is thwarted. And splinters like HOCNA and ROAC continue to form. It looks as of this moment that the Anglican communion is about to split, with a breakup of ECUSA pretty likely as a consequence.

Behind the fractiousness of (say) baptists lies the fractiousness of Christianity in general, for from the outside it isn't entirely unreasonable to consider the division between baptist groups to be of the same ilk as the division between baptists and Orthodox.

Quote
Sorry...could you define "unit of polity" for me please? :- Then I'll know what our two confessions are so bad at... Wink

Organizations, or churches....
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« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2005, 05:27:10 PM »

I see that JosephofMessiah has tossed of the thousands of groups of Christians canned argument over in Free-for-all. He uses "30,000", and I have to wonder where he got it other then just seeing someone say it w/o any data.

Quote
Quote from: Pedro on Fri, Mar 11, 2005, 01:02 PM


All right, say we say 2,000. Let's even bet conservatively: 1,000. Or even 100 (I've never seen any statistic come even close to this low). The point of using this idea is the fact that, among the catholic confessions who allow the universal tradition of the ancient Church to guide their interpretation of Scripture and doctrine, there are pretty much three to five options: Roman Catholicism, Byzantine Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, possibly (very) conservative Anglo-Catholicism...those are the only ones that I can think of.

Compare this to even 100 Protestant sects that all claim that Scripture alone is the sole and ultimate determiner of their doctrine, and yet vary so greatly on so many doctrines yet still claim to be "one in Christ" -- I don't see this as as much of a "straw man" as you.

Well, one question is "Do the Doctrines actually vary and if so, how much?" or are there different groups due to location? or personality conflicts? or disagreements on trivial things that someone didn't want to let go of? *Why* there are different groups? Mormons and JW's and such are very clearly due to different doctrines of God and theology, but others were not caused by that. As I recall, the Presbyterians split during the Civil War into Union and Southern, not due to doctrinal disputes about Jesus or the Trinity for example.

http://www.uppc.org/about_presbyterian.htm

All of the members of the Anglican communion were counted by Barrett individually, but they did not split because New Zealand disagreed on the doctrines of, say Southern India, but because they are the Anglican Church for a particular area. Here's a list of the members of the Anglican Communion:
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/tour/index.cfm

and a picture of most of the Primates from a meeting last month (iirc, 3 could not attend due to illness or a death in the family):
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/39/00/acns3945.cfm

Ebor
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"I wish they would remember that the charge to Peter was "Feed my sheep", not "Try experiments on my rats", or even "Teach my performing dogs new tricks". - C. S. Lewis

The Katana of Reasoned Discussion

For some a world view is more like a neighborhood watch.
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