As the one in the eye of this particular storm I would like to weigh in. I must admit that I am greatly disturbed by many of the comments being made about me, the debate and ever brother White.
I would like to address the subject of which I have the most knowledge and direct experience, namely, me. Apolonio opened this particular Pandora’s Box with his post on Planet Envoy:
On the debate itself, I believe White won. This does not mean that White’s arguments were good. I actually thought he would have objected to the Catholic position in such a way that I have never thought of…you know, a different angle. But he didn’t. I actually expected the type of argument he was going to make (ex. Council of Floerence, Romans 1,2, etc). I thought Bill could have answered his objections better.
Apolonio and I are friends, and if this is his honest view, I respect his opinion. Yet at the time I predicted that because he didn’t clarify it would be perceived that even those in my camp believe that James White had bested me. I wish I was as good a prognosticator with the Florida lottery as I was here, James points out on his site:
First, for some reason, a number of folks on the forums have been willing to throw Bill Rutland under the bus, so to speak.
It is a strange and curious thing how people, who where not at the debate started becoming experts on not only what was said, but the motives behind what was said. This curious phenomenon migrated to the Catholic Answers forum:
Then he (White) debates someone like Rutland. I have asked in this forum who Rutland is and no one can (or hasn’t) told me. He is apparently unknown to most if not all folks here. I never heard of him before But I’m thinking that there aren’t many here who do not know who Sungenis is. Did you see the clips of the White/Rutland debate? Rutland may be a very good Catholic but he is not up to taking on the likes of White.
This person to my knowledge was not at the debate. It seems that he drew his entire conclusion from two 3 ½ minute clips of the 2 ½ hour debate from A&O. I know that I am not a “professional apologist,” the fact is that I have to work for a living (not that the pros aren’t working). Some have posted that James chose me because I was an “easy mark.” The fact is, I do not believe Mr. White would choose an “easy mark,” if nothing he likes a challenge, and debating someone whom you can decimate is not good for his reputation. Again, these comments were made by people who where not at the debate and who’s only exposure where the clips on White’s site, if that much. I watched the clips, I didn’t think I did all that badly (but then again I do have my ego to care for).
Besides all of this I am greatly concerned about the obsession in both the Protestant and Catholic camps about who “won the debate.” In all of my debates I have stressed that I am not about winning and loosing. For those who want blood-bath-apologetics, I am not your guy. I do not debate to attack, but to evangelize. When I debate I am very aware of the audience and the “tone of the house.” I can tell you from personal experience that the tone of an argument grips a person’s heart long before the logic reaches the head. It was my wife Linda’s love that brought me to Christ at age 27, not her arguments. It was my friend David’s love in a Catholic bookstore that brought me to Christ’s Church, not his arguments. The arguments are important, but if they are presented in a way that people refuse to hear, they are useless. As St. Paul tells us:
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
I “spoke the truth in love,” and treated Mr. White with dignity and respect (although I have been accused of acting dishonorable in my pre-debate “antics”). I call for all Christians, both Catholic and Protestant to treat each other with more love and respect. My Catholic brothers and sisters, we will not win one Protestant (not to mention a non-Christian) to the Table of the Lord with commando apologetics. In the end when I stand before my Maker, I don’t believe I am going to hear Him say, “Bill, why didn’t you kick James White’s butt?” Rather, I hope He will say, “You lived what you loved, spoke what you lived, and in that others have now loved what you spoke.”