Addition made 8/24/99:
Catholic Answers Announces Budget
of $3,300,000.00 for the Year 2000
This huge budget includes $350,000.00 for administration, and
$350,000.00 for fund-raising! Why is this relevant? Well, in light of the
information contained below, and Catholic Answers' constant claim to be on the
"front lines" giving the "Catholic Answer," it strikes us as a bit
strange that the President of that organization, the single individual on their staff with
the most experience doing debates, an attorney by training, would continue to
ignore a decade old challenge to "give the Catholic answer" in the face
of a well-reasoned Reformed answer offered by James White. Catholic Answers
has twenty times the staff that we have; Catholic Answers' year
2000 budget is fifty-five times larger than our own. They
will spend almost six times our entire budget just on fund raising next
year! Quite simply, on an organizational and financial basis they dwarf
this small, Reformed ministry. So why do we continue to hear nothing but silence
from Catholic Answers to our repeated invitation to debate these vital issues at no
cost to them whatsoever? As you will see below, we have a very nice church in
San Diego (their home base) that is more than willing to sponsor a debate between myself
and Mr. Keating. What possible reason, in light of the debates we have already done
against Patrick Madrid, Tim Staples, Gerry Matatics, Robert Sungenis, Scott Butler, Art
Sippo, and Mitchell Pacwa, could be hindering Mr. Keating from accepting our challenge?
This challenge posted June 29, 1999
The card-sized envelope arrived at my home. It was hand
addressed, so, I immediately opened it. Inside I found yet another fund-raising plea
from....Catholic Answers. I'm not sure how I got on the list (I once
subscribed, and buy lots of Catholic books, so I guess that's the explanation), but I am
often on the receiving end of materials from many Catholic groups, Catholic Answers
One of the most interesting pieces of mail I received of late
was the Spring, 1999 issue of Inside Catholic Answers. This publication is
subtitled, "Spreading and Defending the Catholic Faith." As I read through
the issue, I was most interested to note what can only be called the
"aggressive/triumphalistic" attitude it portrayed. For example, on the
front cover we have an article titled, "How We Foiled Anti-Catholics in St.
Louis" (Catholic Answers refers to themselves as Catholic apologists, but
anyone opposed to Rome is just an anti-Catholic). On the second page is the title,
"Trading Tracts, Fighting Fakes, Saving Souls" (nice alliteration!). Page
three has the title "Shredding Error." But most interesting were the two
short articles on page 4. The first was titled "Persistence Pays Off for
Catholic Apologists," and the second, "Thanks, Guys, and Let's Keep Up the
The first article speaks of how two Catholic Answers
staffers, Johnny Hochgraefe and Jason Evert, attended a meeting presented by
"prominent anti-Catholic speaker" Bart Brewer in the San Diego area. The
article says that "we couldn't let such opportunities pass by" so the two
staffers went "to both meetings to ensure that Catholic teaching got a fair
hearing." Of course, the first thing I thought of was, "I suppose if you
had someone who attended meetings of Catholic Answers so that 'Protestant
teaching got a fair hearing' they would be called.....anti-Catholics, perhaps?"
What was most fascinating was how the newsletter recounted the
After Bart's fact-flawed presentation was over, the floor was
opened to questions. This is when Jason Evert stood up. He suggested he give
the Catholic answer to questions the attendees might ask, but Brewer rejected this offer.
That didn't end things.
I would really like to offer my services to Catholic Answers.
The next time they do a seminar in Phoenix, I will gladly show up and do
what Mr. Evert offered to do: I will give the Protestant answer to the questions asked
during the Q&A session. Indeed, I'd be happy to do that any time I have the
opportunity to be in the same city with the Catholic Answers folks. But as
they said, this didn't end their participation:
Later, when Johnny and Jason went through the crowd giving out
Catholic Answers tracts, people asked them for the answers Bart wouldn't let Jason give.
For many of them this was the first time they had a chance to hear the Catholic side.
Several people gave our staffers their phone numbers and addresses and asked them
to keep in touch.
I have to wonder what kind of article would appear in the pages
of This Rock magazine were our volunteers to start showing up at Catholic
Answers events, asking to be able to address the audience, and then going about
passing out tracts to their people? Would we be described as
"anti-Catholics who were attempting to disrupt our seminar"? The article
A week later, at the second talk, Jason took a different tack.
He knew Brewer wouldn't let him talk about Catholicism, so he asked questions about
Protestantism, putting Brewer on the defensive. Brewer wouldn't answer the
questions. He just changed the subject, again and again. Soon it became clear
that he didn't have the answers and that Jason did.
Finally, as more and more people sought answers, Brewer relented
and let Jason give the audience the Catholic position. That was all they wanted,
Such "in your face" activity seems to be the main
element of this newsletter from Catholic Answers. The second half of the
article, titled "Thanks, Guys, and Let's Keep Up the Pressure" ends with,
"So long as these seekers seek answers from the wrong sources, there will be a need
for Catholic Answers to show them the way to the truth. We plan to keep showing up
at anti-Catholic gatherings, God willing."
Now, of course, we think it is just fine to be "out
front" in your work. We go directly to Salt Lake City and pass out tracts at
the gates of the Temple. Likewise, we went to Denver and stood out in the rain right
in the middle of the World Youth Day activities and passed out our tracts during the Papal
visit in 1993. (Interestingly, Catholic Answers didn't like that, and tried
to have us removed by security. Indeed, they didn't want us standing near their
booth, talking to folks there, or anything! Seems a bit like a double standard!).
There is certainly nothing wrong with being up-front in your activities.
The Main Problem
What does strike us as particularly strange is the fact that
while Catholic Answers portrays itself as out "doing battle with the
anti-Catholics," we keep getting turned down, cold, by the President of Catholic
Answers, Karl Keating, when we ask him to basically do what Mr. Hochgraefe and Mr.
Evert did as recorded in the newsletter: give the "Catholic answer." In
fact, we offer him the podium with equal time to give the Catholic answer: in a moderated,
formal debate. But each time we are turned down. Why?
Each year we do the "Long Island" debate series, and
Mr. Keating has been invited. When it first came up, he was very interested: up
until it was made known that his opponent would be me. A few years back we invited Catholic
Answers to debate us during the Papal visit in Denver, but they declined, indicating
it was not a time for debates. However, as soon as it was known we had arranged to
debate Gerry Matatics (click here for those debates), they arranged a debate with two
Protestant apologists who were simply not ready for such a challenge. We could not
be there since we were busy debating elsewhere.
As it stands today, we have no current, formal debates with any Catholic
Answers representatives. Indeed, though we have often debated Gerry
it almost seems as if Catholic Answers would like to forget that he was once
their main apologist, engaging in debates on a regular basis. We have twice engaged
James Akin, but neither was a formal, public debate: one was a radio program on eternal
security, the other the Bible Answer Man Show. Mr. Akin was scheduled to debate us
on the Mass this year on Long Island, but declined and asked Robert Sungenis to take his
It just seems to us that in light of the recent issue of Inside
Catholic Answers, the time has come for Mr. Keating to "step up" so to
speak and accept the challenge that has been his since 1990: debate James White, in
public. People ask us why this has not happened all the time, and all we can say is
that we have a standing challenge that is now nearly a decade old. If Mr. Keating
says that they plan on "showing up" at "anti-Catholic" gatherings in
the future, why not "show up" at a debate where he would be given equal time to
"give the Catholic answer"? Why should it matter who is giving the
Protestant answer? James has done 25 such debates: anyone can listen for themselves
to these debates and know that they are done in a proper, scholarly, respectful manner.
If the "Catholic answer" is solid and true, why not offer it when a
knowledgeable Protestant is prepared to interact with it?
Catholic Answers is located in San Diego, California.
We have a very nice church in the San Diego area that is more than willing to host
a debate between myself and Mr. Keating. This would be to Mr. Keating's advantage,
since, of course, they would have a corps of local people to help with their side of the
debate (advertising, for example), and there would be no travel involved. There are a
number of topics (all covered, in one way or another, in Mr. Keating's book, Catholicism
and Fundamentalism) that would be most useful. For example, Roman Catholic
apologists have often debated against sola scriptura. But it is
very difficult to find such an apologist who will defend the Roman position on the same
subject: the infallible Church, or, closely related, the infallibility of the Pope.
In the same way, Roman Catholic apologists love to debate against sola fide
(justification by faith) but would Mr. Keating be willing to defend the thesis, "We
are justified by faith and meritorious works done in a state of grace"? Rome
has dogmatically defined two dogmas in the past century and a half: the Immaculate
Conception and the Bodily Assumption of Mary. Would Mr. Keating defend the
assertions he makes about these topics in his book?
We would very much like to ask Mr. Keating to respond to us and,
if he will not debate, tell us, directly, clearly, exactly why. We would
also ask, if Mr. Keating was being asked to debate Dave Hunt or Bart Brewer in the same
place on the same subjects, would he not jump at the chance to do so? Has he not
engaged in debates since 1990 with other people? We ask Mr. Keating rather
to step up and accept our challenge. Our friends in San Diego are very excited about
the possibility. At the very least, we will be showing up in San Diego to present a
seminar on issues relevant to Roman Catholicism (Catholic Answers would call that
an "anti-Catholic" gathering). Mr. Keating (I believe he wrote the
articles in the newsletter) says they will show up at such meetings to give the
"Catholic answer." We invite him to do so: to step up and engage in a