This is an off-shoot of the Scott Hahn thread. (It’s already gotten a bit off-topic with the Hahn-vs-White discussion, and I didn’t want to take it even further afield. Hence the new thread.)
I quite agree. It’s silly to not be (somewhat) selective about whom you’re willing to debate.
This is something that seemed a little funny to me about James White, back when he was first mentioned in the “Scott Hahn” thread …
[quote=James White]We’d like to set the record straight. There are exactly two Roman Catholic apologists who need not contact us about doing a public debate: Vinney Lewis and Dr. Art Sippo. The reason that we would have no interest in doing debates with these folks is quite simple: we have concluded they are not capable of acting in a sufficiently gentlemanly manner for a meaningful debate to take place. James White did two radio debates with Vinney Lewis in 1996 (see our catalog for the tapes), and we believe these debates fully exemplify what we mean. James likewise debated Dr. Art Sippo in 1991 in Toledo, Ohio, on the subject of justification. A brief discussion of that debate will be found in another article on this page regarding Catholic Answers .* See also the partial recording of the debate with Art Sippo by clicking here .
That struck me as a bit too open and unselective, in terms of whom White is willing to debate.
As far as the two RC apologists that he says he would not be willing to debate, I had never heard of either of them and didn’t think much more about them at the time.
A couple days later, however, I just so happened to come across something written by Patrick Madrid (quoted below) that called into question White’s unwillingness to debate Dr. Art Sippo. I was intrigued. Did this mean that White, who I’d thought too unselective terms of whom he is willing to debate, was in reality too selective after all? Perhaps the real story isn’t that Sippo is not a worthy debate opponent, but rather that Sippo is such a worthy debate opponent that White is afraid to take him on.
Anyway, I plan to investigate further, but I thought I’d also see if anyone here is able to shed light on all this.
[quote=Patrick Madrid]A man barely out of his twenties, he has already garnered a reputation as a debate junkie. I don’t mean that he’s been in lots of debates — that’s fine, of course; I’ve been in plenty myself — I mean he *craves *debates. He chases after Catholic apologists, issuing challenges to debate, appearing almost frantic to goad someone, anyone, into a fight. [Well, perhaps not *anyone . In May 1991 White traveled to Toledo, Ohio and was beaten in a debate on justification by lay-Catholic apologist Dr. Art Sippo — a debate which I moderated. (Regrettably, the audio tapes of the debate were defective and so are not available.) Since then White has repeatedly declined Sippo’s invitations to engage in further debates, complaining that Sippo was “not a gentleman.”
At the conclusion of the debate, White refused to shake hands with Sippo and snarled, “Do you realize that you are under the wrath of God?” He accused Sippo of misrepresenting him — a curious complaint, given that White had ample opportunity to rectify any misconceptions, that being, after all, the purpose of a debate. He claimed Sippo “didn’t understand” the Protestant position. This is a common response from Evangelical apologists when their arguments are refuted and they have nothing else to say]. Most telling is his penchant for crowing that so-and-so is “afraid” to debate him. He does this in letters and on computer bulletin boards, and he implies it in the pages of his sporadically-published newsletter, *Pros Apologian . [A Greek phrase meaning “toward a defense.”