Robert Sungenis and a group of indivuals including Jacob Michael, David Palm, and Michael Forrest have been engaging in a battle of minds and ideas within the apologetic’s community. This is not good for the individuals involved, nor for the Catholic community in general. Without getting into who is right or wrong at this point, I would like to suggest a debate be held between the parties in a moderated setting to allow them to iron out at least some of their differences. One or all the indivduals named could choose to be one side of the debate. The other would be Sungenis. The debate I propose would operate in this manner (this could be modified, but it is a starting point):
I would propose that Sungenis picks a question to debate and satjg (call it Palm and Michael at this point) pick a topic. For the purposes of rebuilding relations, it does not even have to be related to Judaism. Both sides need to agree on both topics.
My thought is that both sides choose judges, say two, then the four judges choose a fifth party that they can all agree on. The fifth judge will publish the comments, interact with the public, etc., and is considered the lead judge. Let the judges develop a set of rules or criteria for the debate, including tone of language, courtesy rules, criteria for documentation, etc.
Each side will first pass their comments on to the 2 judges they picked who will prescreen them for adherence to the criteria, and either accept or send back for modification. Once the 2 judges are satisfied, then it gets passed onto the 5 judges, who will review them and if acceptable publish them. If not acceptable, a vote can be taken on any specific discrepancy relative to the criteria, and if 3 out of 5 agree, it is sent back for modification. Once acceptable the comments are published. The 5 judges will receive comments from both sides for a given round at the same time. When the 5 judges receive the comments, the comments are also sent to opposing sides for review. After publication (likely by the 5th “neutral” judge) and public comment, the 5 judges will judge the arguments of each side for the specific questions of the round and the overall debate.
Each of the two debates will have specific questions and criteria for judgement, as well as specifying the number of rounds, timing, etc. The debate could include the formation of a consultory panel of experts agreed upon by either the 2 judges for each side (say 1 spot), the 2 judges for the opposing side (say 1 spot), and all 5 judges (say 3 spots).
There could be 3 websites (blogs). One for each side and one which is the official website for the debate. The website for each side could be used to air opinions rejected by the full panel of judges, only to foster public opinion. Arguments of the parties, and Expert opinions, all reviewed and accepted by the 5 judge panel could be published on the main website. Any unaccepted items could be published by either or both opposing sides on their websites. For purposes of the debate results, only the main website is considered official. Alternately, to keep bickering down, only one website could be maintained, and only opinions ultimately accepted by the 5 judge panel would be published.
Another possibility is that opposing sides could pick a specific number of people who would not be allowed to be chosen as judges (say 3 names per side). This would be stated immediately after the topics are chosen. If a side declines the privilige, this also need be stated up front. The names would not be made public.