Thursday, June 3, 2021

Dave’s armstronging again

Longtime readers might recall Dave Armstrong, a Catholic apologist who, to put it gently, has a tendency to stretch the truth in bizarre ways.  His odd behavior has even inspired a definition:

armstrong, verb.  Boldly but casually to insinuate a falsehood in the hope that others will go along with it.  “Dave tried to armstrong me into a debate.  Can you believe that guy?”

Well, Dave “Stretch” Armstrong is at it again.  Apropos of nothing, he posted an article at his blog the other day suggesting that I have claimed that “Pope Francis favors divorce.”  That’s a pretty serious charge, but of course I have said no such thing.  Like other people, I have said that Amoris Laetitia is problematic insofar as its ambiguities seem to permit divorced Catholics living in adulterous relationships to take Holy Communion under certain circumstances, which would conflict with traditional Catholic teaching.  And like others (including Armstrong himself!), I have criticized the pope for not answering the dubia, and thereby making it clear that that is not what Amoris is meant to teach.  But that is a far cry from accusing the pope of actually favoring divorce.

I posted a comment at Dave’s blog correcting the record.  You might think he would do the decent thing and simply retract his rashly made accusation.  That would have been quick and easy, and it would have been the end of it.

But it seems that that is not the Dave Armstrong way.  Instead, he posted several logorrheic comments attempting to rationalize his mischaracterization of my views by way of telepathy.  That Pope Francis favors divorce is – mind-reader Dave claims to have discerned – what I “really” think even if I have not actually said that, and indeed have denied it. 

Dave also complains, by the way, that in replying to him, I didn’t pay him any compliments on his work in apologetics.

Today Dave has doubled down by posting a second long article reiterating his false allegations.  He has also deleted the comments of another reader who had respectfully disagreed with his original post.  And he has, as of this writing, disabled comments on both posts, apparently so that neither I nor anyone else can challenge him further. 

An argument can be made for simply ignoring this sad spectacle.  The trouble is that, as I know too well from bitter experience, false claims tend to take on a life of their own.  That “Feser accused the pope of favoring divorce” is now bound to become something many people “know” even though it isn’t so.  If some of them instead come to know what kind of a person Dave Armstrong is, that is Dave’s fault, not mine.


  1. For someone who engaged in apologetics for so long, I find it odd that Dave seems incapable of properly analyzing an opposing argument. He especially shows this tendency when it comes to reasonable criticisms about Pope Francis.

  2. He acted honestly and believed he was a trustworthy prosecutor, and he was trusted to be an honest lawyer of the faith.

    Today, Dave solidified his column and released another long show to testify to his false testimony. He then expanded his position and began a lengthy effort to testify. Comments were received from other readers who were closely associated with the original message, including feedback from other readers close to the original book.

    This particular divide between you two can be solved carefully and impartially, with concern and neutrality. Ask the question - "Did the Pope make such a statement against you?" This "knowledge" may not be known to most people, and it is not.

    Pope Francis has resigned - I think Dave's students know about this already. Did Dave lie about not answering or because he did not answer?

    1. Considering how convoluted and twisting-inside-itself silly this is, it MUST be parody. I just can't figure out what it is trying to parody. Can anyone help me out here?

  3. "This will no doubt be a vigorous (and possibly voluminous) debate…" Dave is doing the voluminous part already...

  4. Having had some dealing with Armstrong, you have him pegged correctly he picks fights he cannot win and bans those who point out his errors.

    From Professor Pearce's A Tippling Philospher website:

    Dave Armstrong 6 days ago
    "NOTE: I don't debate here anymore, as I have made clear."

    He did much the same to me. Scraped some posts of mine from Bob Siedersticker's website to attack me. When this was pointed out to me I went to Dave's site and posted a reply there. I was quickly banned. This is what Dave does and has done to many others.

    Dave posts to A Tippling Philosopher, one of the few sites that will tolerate his presence. He refuses to reply to me there.

    His penchant for posting wall of texts posts and refusing to debate issues has gotten him banned at a number of other sites. Failure to debate is simply preaching, against most ToS's at sites like Siedenstickers or John Loftus's site.

    Dave does not usually do theology. He is s Bible difficulty apologist. And not even a good one.

    Basically, if you have not been banned at Dave Armstrong's website, you ain't anybody.

    Professor Pearce does not reply to him which chaps Armstrong royally. But he lets Dave post there as a chew toy for the regulars.

    You have my sympathies.


    1. "Professor Pearce does not reply to him which chaps Armstrong royally. But he lets Dave post there as a chew toy for the regulars."

      Really? That would be news to Pearce, who has made at leas 17 replies to me:

      But he's very selective. He's had his clock cleaned so many times he knows when to be quiet. One recent post of his had so many lies about the Bible that I have written seven refutation papers just against the one article: all utterly ignored.

  5. Dave's comments sections are open again.

  6. I don't know this guy and I'm not even Catholic to be honest, but his wall of text (his response to Feser's comment) was so painful to read, just as bad as some forum trolls I have encountered. Instead of, either saying that he was wrong and that Feser didn't say that Pope Francis favors divorce and remarriage, or saying that he is right and Feser indeed say it and proceed to give a specific example, he rants and rants. He keeps talking about sociology hats and some weird things and never gets to the point.

    I wouldn't bother with him. Is that guy really an influential person in Catholic Apologetics?

    1. He has done some great work in the past for which I am grateful, but I can't really defend this. Nobody's good all the time, I suppose.

    2. I second Cantus view. Feser simply didn't say Pope Francis taught heresy. It is a nuanced argument.

  7. Replies
    1. This is an odd turn of events.

    2. Only if yer into mindless tribalism instead of thinking fer yerself.

  8. I will see if I can post my deleted comments. I was the reader.

  9. I like Dave when he sticks to providing pure data.

    But his over the top rhetoric has always bugged me.

    1. You would have loved Elijah, who mocked the false prophets on Mt. Carmel by saying, "where are your gods?: off taking a piss?" Or Paul making a joke about castration, Jesus calling people vipers and whitewashed tombs.

    2. Notice I said "over the top" rhetoric. Meaning rhetoric which is disproportionate to the exigency at hand.

    3. The exigency of Elijah, is that the Pagan gods are thoroughly worthy of being mocked; the exigency in Jesus' case is that He's God, and can judge souls. The exigency in Paul's case was legalists destroying souls.

      The exigency in your case was a mere difference in emphasis when interpreting the Pope's statements...and you two *mostly agree*, so to go all-in on attacking him as an ideological enemy was completely uncalled for.

      But the exigency in Feser's case is that you made it personal, and implied he thought the Pope is a heretic. That means he's justified in mocking you. (Since, as you have just admitted, mocking can be ok...even though you've criticized him for mocking. You're starting to talk out two sides of your mouth.)

  10. But pope Francine does favor divorce, except in the case of sodomite "marriages." And you can accuse me of saying so, for I don't find being accused of stating the obvious to be a serious accusation.

  11. A summary of my obviously correct and insightful thoughts on this discussion between Feser and Dave Armstrong.

    1. Clearly Dr. Feser does not claim at all the Pope holds heterodox views on divorce and remarriage and has stated plainly there is no evidence in any of Pope’s recent statements to charge him with heresy & those who do charge him with heresy are crossing a line. All statements to the contrary or motive reading are clearly wrong.

    2. Dr. Feser’s precise claims in his own words are that the Pope has made troublesome and ambiguous statements that “seem” to be heterodox or can have a plausibly heterodox interpretation and that the Pope should clarify them.
    Dr. Feser acknowledges the Pope has made past statements that are clearly orthodox on the subject of marriage and so called re-marriage.

    3. A person is the sole interpreter of their own words. If Dave Armstrong quotes Dr. Feser and interprets him to mean X and Dr. Feser chimes in & professes “Not X” then Dr. Feser has the controlling vote and veto.

    4. The problem with the Pope’s statements is that they do cause confusion and even though the Pope has made orthodox statements on the subjects in question in the past & his later imprecise and muddled statements can give the impression the Pope has changed his mind.

    5. OTOH the case can be made legitimately that because the Pope has made clear orthodox statement on the subject matter then barring a clear unambiguous reversal one should interpret his ambiguous statements in light of his clear ones.

    6.If Dave Armstrong makes #5 his argument then he would have a better counter argument then merely trying to read into Dr. Feser’s motives which is just plain odious. I wish Dave would just admit Dr. Feser DOES NOT accuse the Pope of teaching heresy on marriage. Charity demands no less.

    7. I have spoken all hail me.

    1. 1. I've already said several times that I am not questioning his motives: especially to you in Facebook. You can't possibly not know by now that I have done this, and I never did otherwise.

      2. I have apologized for the title of the first reply which (after further reflection) I now agree was too accusatory and can easily be interpreted as stating what I never believed myself. It was a rhetorical title, but the 2nd part went too far. It would have been change by now but we had company most of the night.

      3. #5 was indeed the very heart of my argument, rightly understood. Feser never answered that because he never replied to anything I asked him about. That's the essence of it and the bottom line. I analogized that to how we interpret Scripture. You are exactly right.

      All the rest I have explained in the papers themselves or specifically to you in all our conversations.

      And you may notice that no one is carrying on about Dr. Feser on my site, mocking and gossiping, etc., because I don't encourage such juvenile, unethical nonsense and people who did that (to Feser or anyone else) would quickly be banned.

      Hail hail!

    2. If you wanted to debate #5 & not mis-characterize Dr Feser then I don't think Feser would have said boo to ya.

      But he was clearly pissed off over you misrepresenting him. Justly so.

      When he said he "never said that Pope Francis “favors” divorce or “desires... to change the Catholic teaching” on the matter." when he went on to clarify "What I have said is that some of his statements on the matter are ambiguous, potentially misleading, seemingly in conflict with tradition, etc." ye should have just took him at his word.

      When he said " I have not myself written much about the problems with Amoris, and when I have commented on them at all I have mostly referred approvingly to the criticisms that others (such as Brugger, Grisez and Finnis, Fr. Weinandy, et al.)" ye should have dropped it and looked up these guys arguments and went at them.

      When he said "I am not accusing Pope Francis of modernism or any other heresy" yer should have just taken him at his word.

      Feser said " A person can be irresponsible or muddleheaded without being a heretic." and I responded critically to Feser here in a post ye took down. I suggested Feser should have said "a person can say things that appear irresponsible to others & muddleheaded without being a heretic". That looks a wee bit like a personal attack on the Holy Father to some. Thought I concede that was NOT likely Feser's intent at all.

      So enough trying to make me his uncritical fanboyz.

      Feser said "I have zero interest engaging with someone who pretends to be a mind-reader and insists on telling me (and at prodigious length!) what I am “really” thinking," I note yer post did come off that way.

      When Feser says " I deliberately avoid getting into questions about the pope’s intentions." You should take the man at his word.

      That is all ye need do.

      Why is that hard?

    3. All dealt with, several times by now. You know that repeating stuff over and over is actually a fallacy? Ad nauseam or ad infinitum . . .

  12. Here are some of my other posts he took down.

    No Dave Dr. Feser did not attack the Pope & you did misrepresent Dr. Feser's view IMHO. I think I know the difference between Skojec trying to read the Pope's "cold dead eyes" or some such bullcrap that he posts vs Dr. Feser's reasonable and charitable analysis of the Pope's ambiguous words.

    As I said before Dr. Feser alone is the sole interpreter of his words and Dave Armstrong is the sole interpreter of his own written words and the Holy Father is the sole interpreter of His which is the problem.

    The Holy Father says imprecise things and doesn't clarify them. That is his grave deficiency.

    The Pope doesn't clarify himself. It could be because he is merely short sighted and imprudent and as I said before I will presume his orthodoxy till he if ever comes out and proves his heresy unambiguously.

    OTOH if I believe Matt 16:18 & I do [then] I suspect if hypothetically the Pope was a secret heretic then well it seems to me he might keep his mouth shut forever and the Holy Spirit would move him to silence rather then open his mouth and speak false doctrine.

    Or not? Let God judge the Pope I just work here.

    >As always, I'm more than happy to let readers read my arguments and yours...

    I have and points go to Feser. I really truly hate judging between you but that is the only fair and rational judgement I can give. I am sorry. But that is what I think.

    1. Yeah, they belong over here, not as trolling comments on my blog before Feser ever answered (though I should have known he wouldn't anyway). It more or less wrecked the entire discussion, in my opinion.

    2. We fight like hell when we disagree, but so did Lennon and McCartney . . . I think you will wake up from this delusion you are under in due course. :-)

    3. More of a Maiden fan....but I would have gone with Augustine vs Jerome....but I get to be Jerome. He lived in a cave with a Lion and people felt bad for the lion.*

      *stole that from Fr. Greotchel of happy memory..

  13. No David you completely misrepresented Dr. Feser. It is as plain as a Bulgarian pin up. *

    >I did not misrepresent Dr. Feser AT ALL. I copiously documented what he has stated and then critiqued it.

    Except ya did......

    Anti-Catholic Reformed Baptist James White can quote the Council of Trent but that doesn't mean we Catholics who are learned in our own religion should mindlessly accept his interpretation of the quotes over how the Church has understood them and I am sorry but Dr. Feser alone is the sole interpreter of his written statements just as David Armstrong is the sole interpreter of his written statements.

    Thus if David Armstrong reads or quotes Dr. Feser and interprets him to mean X and Dr. Feser chimes in and says "No I mean Not X" then a priori Dr. Feser has the controlling vote and the absolute veto power.

    BTW I have debated Vincent Torley in the comboxes. He is often wrong and he makes a lot of mistakes and his mixing of Intelligent Design and its erroneous mechanistic metaphysics with the scholastic tradition is beyond incoherent. William Lane Craig a Protestant is brilliant but he denies the dogma of the divine simplicity and the divine timelessness in addition to his other Protestant doctrinal errors.

    That non-Catholics would misunderstand or misrepresent a Catholic suprises you Dave? In what universe?

    So sorry but points here go to Dr. Feser. If Dr. Feser chimes in and attributes a view to you Dave that I know for a fact you don't hold trust me I'll be all over him. But that is what yer doing right now.

    Sorry but that is what I think as much as it pains me to write it.

    *Red Dwarf reference.

    (I should add in case it is misunderstood as far as I know Vincent Torley is a Catholic and my comments on my past interactions with him here are overly general.)

  14. Dave attributes arguments to his opponents that his opponents didn't make. It's what Dave does.

  15. "Stretch Armstrong". Very creative, BTW.

    1. No it isn't really it is kinda cringe.

      Feser never said that Pope Francis “favors” divorce or “desires... to change the Catholic teaching” on the matter." & it is wrong fore Dave too double down on it but "Stretch Armstrong"? Lame!!!

      In word of Red Dwarf metaphors he goes with that? Oh honey No and at the risk of pissing off Dr. Feser I am going to say the following mean thing.

      That was as bad as one of Scott Hahn's puns.

      Yeh I went there.....

  16. Dave is so annoying and he is afraid of live debate; he needs time to "think" that's why he only "debates" in writing form...

    1. Says the guy who never shows his face nor publicly debates but hides behind an Anonymous monker and trolls and never once makes an intelligent argument.

      Also Donald Trump live rent free in yer 'ed mate.

    2. Son of Ya'Kov is your name?

    3. I do see why one would prefer writen debate. On a live one it is way easier to rethoric the crappy out of your oponent until people think that you won. Another advantage is that the people that will bother to read the whole thing are likely more capable of understanding the discussion, so, maybe, less likely to choose the winner based on tribalism.

    4. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and some excel better at one or the other.

  17. As another conciliatory effort, I have made the following change in the beginning of my First Reply:

    Was: Here are Feser's accusations (from his blog) that Pope Francis desires, or has taken actual measures, to change the Catholic teaching on divorce and the indissolubility of marriage, and/or has not spoken forcefully enough (a la Pope Honorius) in condemnation of denials of these dogmatic Church teachings:

    Changed to: Here are Feser's criticisms (from his blog) of Pope Francis with regard to the issue of divorce, including the charge that he has not spoken forcefully enough (a la Pope Honorius) in defense of these dogmatic Church teachings:

  18. @Dave my friend.

    That is good. I approve. Make those changes. Disagree with the man to yer heart's content. Just attack his views and no views he denies holding.

    I may join ya or not.

    Also the second post is an eyesore and way way way way too long. But this is a great start. Thanks man.

    PS "Stretch Armstrong" is lame. Scott Hahn pun lame. Ya see Dave I am not a mindless Fanboyz.

    1. "Also the second post is an eyesore and way way way way too long."

      Don't read it then! Looks like you haven't anyway, judging by the vacuous nature of your droning criticisms.

      You certainly couldn't have possibly said half of what you did if you had 1) read and 2) understood my arguments.

      I am pleased, though, that you discovered the heart of my argument and espoused it.

    2. "PS "Stretch Armstrong" is lame."

      That's nothing; I agree. James White commissioned a professional caricaturist to do TWO caricatures of me. Eric Svendsen did a ridiculous National Enquirer-type piece where a child's head was sticking out of my chest like I was a kangaroo . . .

      I almost died laughing at all of those.

    3. I did read it could loose 75% of that and make yer point.

      Brevity is the soul of wit etc...

    4. That's what they said about "War and Peace" (1,225 pages).

  19. His point about your claim that the Pope's statements were "doctrinally problematic" are interesting.

    He might have a small point here. You didn't say they were potentially problematic, but that they are. I guess the question would be: why would they be? If you aren't making any definitive claims about what the Pope was trying to say, then on what basis can you say, one way or the other, that they are doctrinal problematic?

    But that's all the basis for his claim against you really: A couple of statements that he thinks the claim he is arguing can be inferred from.

    It's really not a good look for him to make definitive claims about what you really think based on the various ther speculative and clearly not definitive, statements you have made.

    The rest of what he said could've probably been left out of his response. It's just clutter that deal with side points.

  20. I have thoroughly responded to the caricaturing, mocking BS of this post at the end of my 2nd reply. For those who don't care about the fairness of reading both sides of a dispute, by all means ignore it:

    1. Why can't I copy/paste the parts I want to respond too?

    2. I think you might be served well, Dave, by applying the same hermeneutic to Ed as you apply to Pope Francis.

      Ed has successfully clarified his view for you. You latched onto a couple occasions on which Ed used the phrase "doctrinally problematic statements" and have insisted that this plausibly means something other than what you see Ed saying elsewhere--namely that they are problematic in being ambiguous, and not in expressing heresy, changing Catholic teaching, or whatever. I am not going to go through the rest of the dust stirred up, but yes, you will find that this does not a tortured interpretation of what Ed says about naive defenders (it is possible to downplay ambiguity), about Popes Honorius and Liberius (he says to what extent the comparisons do and to what extent they don't hold), and about habitual ambiguity (which need not be intentional ambiguity). You gotta just cool it. People besides the current pope deserve interpretative charity too.

    3. ... you will find that this does not yield a tortured interpretation of what Ed says about ...

      By the way, I think you are seriously downplaying your responsibility for this affair. Entitling your post "Pope Francis Favors Divorce? (Ed Feser vs. the Facts)" is not merely "pointed and provocative," for it insinuates that Ed thinks Pope Francis does favor divorce far more strongly than do any of his remarks. Your implied answer to the rhetorical question clearly 'no', and you are suggesting that Ed would say the opposite by opposing him to 'the Facts'. Maybe that was an innocent mistake on your part, but then I don't understand how your reply is not just: "I'm sorry for attributing to you something you don't believe by mistake. Thank you for clarifying that you don't think Pope Francis favors divorce and have only argued that his statements are problematic in being ambiguous."

    4. "Your implied answer to the rhetorical question clearly 'no', and you are suggesting that Ed would say the opposite by opposing him to 'the Facts'."

      You're right. It was too pointed (when one writes 3300+ articles as I have, sometimes one blows a title), and so I changed it tonight.

      The trick of all titles is to be punchy and draw readers in, and to be short enough to get good search engine exposure. But they can't mislead, and I came to agree that this one did.

    5. "Why can't I copy/paste the parts I want to respond too?"

      Patheos decided to add that lovely feature to all its blog posts. Fortunately I found an app for my browser that defeats it. It was driving me crazy.

    6. Thanks, No problem guy. Cheers.

    7. What would it matter anyway if Feser had said about pope Francis what you claim? Lots of Catholics call Francis a heretic, and are still more Catholic than Francis after doing so, perhaps because of doing so. So its a big nothing burger. And blogging on patheos is certainly a worse thing.

  21. There is something weird about son of commenting every dave's comments with more weird flowers to Dave...

    1. He is my friend. Yer not....btw pick a name ya gobber.

  22. Antipope Francis is a heretic. Without any doubt. Pretending he is not, just makes your Faith weaker, Dr. Feser.

  23. Dave, just apologize brother. This division in the Church makes me sad really.

    1. I apologized for my original unfortunate title, changed it, and have clarified again and again. Feser won't flinch at all, refuses to discuss anything, and is now engaged in outright mockery and attempted character assassination. But you see none of that.

  24. I made further reply to one of Dr. Feser's ridiculous claims about me:

    FESER: Honestly, Dave, do you really believe that “So what category of nitpicker, basher, reactionary, or wacko do you fall under, Ed?” is a serious way to pursue a dialogue with someone?

    ME: This example is classic sophistry, and Dr. Feser can't possibly not know it. He took an exchange completely out of context in the cynical attempt to make me look ridiculous and petty, and obsessed with minutiae. The original back-and-forth on this category stuff was initiated by him, not myself.  He stated:

    "I would urge you not to indulge the temptation to lump all of the pope’s critics together as if they were all unreasonable hotheads and deserving of condescension. Certainly some of his critics are like that, but by no means all of them. For example, it is quite ridiculous to dismiss the criticisms of Amoris . . . as if they were no better than the kind of ranting one sees in a rad trad combox."

    So I replied by noting that "I make at least five major distinctions among papal critics" and listed all five, with an actual example of a person in each one. This shows, of course, that I am NOT "lumping" all papal critics together without distinction: exactly what he urged me not to do. Then I said I placed him in the "nitpicker" category as opposed to basher or conspiratorial wacko. Thus, I directly answered his criticism, and one would think it would have pleased him that I agreed that there are many important distinctions to be made. 

    But no, he uses that as a pretext for more caricaturing mockery and actually reverses the very nature of what I said, implying that I initiated it by saying, in effect, “So what category of nitpicker, basher, reactionary, or wacko do you fall under, Ed?” I never asked him that. This is a distortion of what happened. I merely classified him in the mildest category of papal critic. This sort of nonsense is sophistry: most unworthy of a renowned Catholic philosopher like Dr. Feser. And he commits it against a fellow orthodox Catholic and warrior against all sorts of non-Catholic errors, just as he is. 

    1. FESER

      David Armstrong makes some serious allegations against you here, and also in his previous post in response to Jaime at 10pm. I think that you need to either respond and refute the allegations, or do the right thing as an example to your supporters and apologise to him.

  25. Catholic Answers' explanation of Amoris Laetitia is that a woman can receive communion if she would, in her heart of hearts, rather not have sex with someone who isn't really her spouse (the new civil union), but feels compelled to do so to maintain the peace, so to speak. If so, This doesn't have the Church approving of divorce, it has the Church tacitly approving of serial rape.

  26. I think Dr. Feser was on the right side on the issue here- but you all in the comment section need not indulge in 'Armstrong-bashing' here. Dave is one of my favorite Apologists- and his knowledge of the Bible is mind-blowing- I especially loved how he proved 'Patron saints' and other Catholic practices from the Bible alone- and reading that, I was like, "Wow! How did he see that in the verse? I didn't!"
    I could say the same about his page on the Church Fathers, he did well in tackling the Protestant misuse of the Fathers:
    And he has some really good responses to James White and others.
    But, his sarcasm can be sometimes irritating!

  27. Ed, how about a response to Dave's latest comments here, including his apology for the title?

  28. I am surprised that someone of Feser's academic pedigree would bother with someone like Dave Armstrong. Dave Armstrong is just an amateur Catholic apologist with a blog among many amateur Catholic apologists with blogs.

    This is not to say that Armstrong is bad; it is to say that he is not a serious academic or scholar. Thus, he does not strike me as someone worth the time it took to write this blog post.

    But, thanks for the post anyway!

    1. This is a lie. I am not "just an amateur Catholic apologist with a blog among many amateur Catholic apologists with blogs." I am a professional full-time Catholic apologist (have been for over 19 years), with eleven "officially" published books (not just self-published) with some of the biggest Catholic publishers, including Our Sunday Visitor, Sophia, and Catholic Answers Press. I have multiple hundreds of articles published as well (for pay), including over 250 for National Catholic Register. I have just about every credential one could think of, as an apologist. See my CV:

      I've never claimed a single time that I am either a "scholar" or an "academic." But I am a professional apologist, and for anyone to deny that (whatever they think of me) is a bald-faced lie and a slander. But that's the theme of this post, so it's not surprising at all to see.

      Lastly, the Church fully approves of lay apologetics, and there is a long history of such people (most not academics, or academics in fields other than theology (Chesterton, Muggeridge, Thomas Howard, Peter Kreeft, Sheed, ad infinitum). Even in the Protestant world, C. S. Lewis never formally studied theology. He was an English professor.

    2. Chesterton never even obtained a college degree. He took a few courses, mostly art classes (much like John Lennon). He was journalist by profession, like Muggeridge. And he is considered probably the greatest Catholic apologist in the 20th century.

    3. But Chesterton is, well, Chesterton.

    4. Yes he was, and is one of my great heroes. He still remained an amateur apologist, so if you go after that class of people, you attack him as well. And I still remain a professional apologist, by any plausible definition of that term.

      That doesn't entail me saying I am the equal of Chesterton. Don't even get me started on all that nonsense. I'm simply talking about the facts of occupations and categories regarding same.

  29. Dave Armstrong is nowhere near the intellectual Feser is, and he displays a rather juvenile form of arguing that wouldn't cut it for a high school paper (think of the wall of block quotes he incorporates in his articles). He admits he tries to be provocative to get clicks and justifies it by comparing himself to biblical figures.

    That said, Dave is well known in Catholic circles and has done some good work in apologetics. Feser took the bait and chose to engage him, so I think it's fair he should finish it now and respond to Dave's latest comments.

  30. Just posted in my blog combox, and I will make it a blog paper today:

    Did I Accuse Ed Feser of Classifying the Pope as a Heretic?

    I did not at all. Period. I have now written two lengthy papers on the topic of Pope Francis' views on divorce and Ed Feser's critical remarks about same:

    One can search both papers and discover that not a single time do I ever use the word "heretic" or "heresy." The only times they appear are when Feser uses them and I am citing him. In those instances, he wasn't using them to say Pope Francis is a heretic, but in reference to the notion generally or with regard to others like Popes Honorius, Vigilius, and Liberius.

    I changed the title of the first one and some words in the first paragraph. Neither entailed the use of the word "heretic" so it is not the case that it was present and was removed from either paper.

    Now, it would be quite unusual to accuse someone of classifying a pope or anyone else as a heretic, without using either "heretic" or "heresy." These are terms that are pretty unique and universally used in Catholic circles with this specific meaning of "heterodox." One could say in turn that "heterodox" is the closest synonym. But again, searching the two papers, one will find that Ed Feser used the word "heterodox" in all but one instance, where I did.

    And when I did it was conditional based on a choice I was urging Dr. Feser to make between two scenarios of how to interpret the pope. Note that I didn't accuse him of asserting this, but only said that he would be doing so if he followed one particular path of interpretation. This was the very "heart" of my argument, as I later characterized it. But because Dr. Feser chose not to respond to my socratic questioning (and "dubia"?) there or anywhere else, we don't know which choice he would make. Therefore, it remains true that we can't say that he classifies the pope as either heretical or heterodox based on his own words. Here is the section in my second reply where I made this argument:

    If you agree that those are completely orthodox statements, then you are now implying that the pope may not actually believe them, if indeed (as you insinuate and seemingly suspect) he is presenting heterodox opinions somewhere else. . . .

    Or you could decide to accept what I documented at face value, as the pope’s true opinions; in which case you would then interpret the other statements that you regard as “problematic” in light of these orthodox, perfectly acceptable, traditional statements: interpreting the less clear in light of the crystal-clear, just as we do in biblical exegesis.
    Other words that might be used similarly would be "modernist/-ism" or "[theological] liberalism." One will find that I didn't use these in either paper as well. I used "liberal" three times overall, but only in reference to political liberalism. I used "modernist" once in the second paper, but in a joking, sarcastic way: thanking Dr. Feser for not calling me one (as so many other critics of the pope have done).

    So I have applied none of these terms (heresy, heretic, heterodox, [theological] liberal, modernist) to Dr. Feser's views with regard to the pope or specifically, his views on divorce.

    Therefore, whenever this charge is brought up against me, it is a lie, and I am being misrepresented, pure and simple.

    [end of part one]

    1. Part 2 is not being allowed for some reason. To read the whole thing, go to:

    2. It was in the spam filter because of the links. I've approved it and it appears below.

  31. These are the facts of the matter. Yet look how often I've been falsely accused of doing this: including from Dr. Feser himself:

    Feser (first reply to me): "Before you misrepresent me again, note that I am not accusing Pope Francis of modernism or any other heresy."

    James Scott / aka "Son of Ya'Kov" (in the combox of Feser's mocking and slanderous post about me): "Feser simply didn't say Pope Francis taught heresy." (6-3-21)


    "Clearly Dr. Feser does not claim at all the Pope holds heterodox views on divorce and remarriage and has stated plainly there is no evidence in any of Pope’s recent statements to charge him with heresy & those who do charge him with heresy are crossing a line." (6-3-21)

    "I wish Dave would just admit Dr. Feser DOES NOT accuse the Pope of teaching heresy on marriage." (6-3-21)


    "When he said "I am not accusing Pope Francis of modernism or any other heresy" yer should have just taken him at his word."


    Kyle P: "[I]n Feser's case . . . you made it personal, and implied he thought the Pope is a heretic. That means he's justified in mocking you." (6-4-21)


    I apologized for an unfortunate title of my first reply, and changed it. I also changed words in the first paragraph. I have clarified till I am blue in the face that I have not accused Dr. Feser of these things, and now I have absolutely proven that. Yet I've been accused of doing what I have not done, over and over. Fesr has repeatedly stated that I "misrepresented" him. And this aspect was front and center in that false charge.

    Consistency and Christian ethics demand an apology and retraction from those who have done this, including Dr. Feser. I don't demand it, but I am saying that Christianity does, and that it would be good for those who have committed this error to make it right.


    To access all the links, see my comment on my blog:

  32. Dave, cut it off. You're being a fool...

    1. Unknown

      Why should he if he believes himself to have been unjustly treated and maligned? Get real.

      Feser started the ball rolling here. Now he must respond.

    2. And you're being a coward. We don't even know who the hell you are. Come out from under your rock.

  33. Theophilus and others,

    I have zero time or interest even to read, let alone respond, to whatever it is Dave is now going on about at his usual length at his own blog and now here. This whole ridiculous exchange began because Dave made a false charge. He has a significant enough audience in Catholic circles that I judged it worthwhile to set the record straight by commenting at his own blog. He could have put the matter to rest immediately by correcting the error then and there. Yet he not only refused at first to do so, but doubled down in the manner I described in the post above. That’s the reason I wrote the post.

    Only after I did so and his foolishness was exposed for all the world to see did he finally alter the original post and issue his half-assed “apology” – all the while portraying himself as somehow a victim, and insisting that I am somehow obligated to address the logorrheic string of posts and comments that were all predicated on his initial falsehood. Seriously?

    If Dave wants to continue this buffoonery, he’s welcome to it, but I’ve got other things to do and have already said all that needs to be said.

    1. You have a right to be angry at him guy. I wish this didn't happen since I am fond of you both and would rather see you on the same side.

      Dave is at fault here (with one small cavate "stretch Armstrong" was cringe. It was Scott Hahn levels of punning......LOL...:D ).

      Anyway peace be with you boss. Stay Thomistic brother.

    2. Fair enough.

    3. "whatever it is Dave is now going on about at his usual length"

      This is not the only swipe Feser has taken at the length of my posts. My reply today (the 3rd one) was 1286 words.

      By contrast, Feser's last real post (not counting the idiotic mockery that is up there now), was "Reply to Dreher", which was 1346 words.

      Before that, it was "Do not abandon your mother" (2259 words)


      "The trouble with capitalism" (2321 words)

      My 1st critique of Feser was 3771 words, but of course two-thirds of it was a documentation of what Pope Francis taught about divorce, which was absolutely necessary, given the nature of the paper. With that removed, it was only about 1257 words (still shorter than Feser's last three).

      The 2nd reply was 7010 words, BUT I had added to it twice, with a conciliatory "Closing Observations" section (to no avail, of course; Feser is now mocking even my apology) and a reply to the insipid, fatuous, lying nonsense of the "Stretch Armstrong" post.

      Those two additions constitute about 45% of the whole. Not counting those makes it about 3861 words. Still a lot (I agree), BUT, as is my custom, I cite my opponents at length, so as to not misrepresent them. Feser's words took up about half of what remains, bringing it down to about 1930 words of my own: shorter than two out of the last three Feser articles.

      This has been one of the stock insults of my work through the years, even though I have several books devoted to short explanations (two of my four bestsellers, in fact) and many many short articles (all 252 of mine at National Catholic Register are 1000 words, which is about 3 1/2 pages).

      Yeah, I do write long stuff, too, but most of those are debates, where I include all or most of my opponents' own words.

      I've found that, invariably, those making this accusation and yucking it up about all my millions of words, invariably write more than I do. Once again, that is the case, as I showed.

  34. The moral of the story is if you want to debate wither or not any particular statement or statements of Pope Francis is ambiguous or has the appearance of being troublesome or not that is fair cop.

    But not all critics of the Pope are vicious anti-Vatican II sede lunatic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory radtrads.

    Some are just what they claim to be. Honest, concerned and loyal critics of good will.

    The Popes needs such critics from St Paul to Cardinal Burke.

    Of course granted the lunatic radtrad fringe started it back in the 90's...I blame them and like with the Liberal Catholic I blame them for everything..

    Cheers all.

    1. Precisely why I noted to Feser (after he said the same thing) that I acknowledge five different categories of papal critics. But he mocked that, for some strange reason. Maybe you will too, given the piss-poor level of this whole farcical pseudo-"debate."

    2. Dave he doesn't follow you so he doesn't know yer rating system and all that. He doesn't care he has his own thing going on.

      All that Dr. Feser knows is he read yer post and based on a plan reading of it concluded you badly misrepresented his arguments, motives and intentions. He jumped in and corrected the record and instead of saying "Opps sorry about that I get on that" ye doubled down.

      I see it and I am yer friend and other loyal readers see it too.

      (BTW the trolls here serve their Master in Hell. Like the Devil they don't want to correct you fer you own good and improvement. They want to condemn you because those manky twats get off on it. )

      I am yer Friend Dave. Board Clansmen Forever!

      Think and pray on it. Peace to you.

      PS I am not a nice person myself. I know that but you can be better than me.

      God bless.

    3. "you badly misrepresented his arguments, motives and intentions."

      You need to stop lying about me, too. I just proved today that I never claimed Feser called the pope a heretic or modernist or heterodox or theological liberal: which he and you and a few others have all falsely accused me of doing. Did you even read that blog post? Facts is facts.

      Nor did I question his motives, as I have shown over and over, too.

      He is currently lying about me, mocking, ridiculing my sincere apology, making all sorts of personal, ad hominem remarks.

      Your ire needs to be directed at the actual sins that are being committed here.

      You keep appealing to the fact that you are my friend (as indeed you are), but you're not *acting* like a friend in this instance, because the warranted rebuke and "faithful wounds of a friend" have to be the telling of truths, not falsehoods. Your "correction" is based on falsehood, and that ain't what friends do. You have simply jumped on the bandwagon of "let's lie and say all kinds of stupid things about Dave."

    4. What is this red herring now?

      >I just proved today that I never claimed Feser called the pope a heretic or modernist or heterodox or theological liberal..

      This is what Feser said "First of all, I have never said that Pope Francis “favors” divorce or “desires... to change the Catholic teaching” on the matter. I have not attributed any such views or motives to him. What I have said is that some of his statements on the matter are ambiguous, potentially misleading, seemingly in conflict with tradition, etc. "

      The only mention of "heresy" I see is yer citations of Feser's blog post where he is talking about Pope Francis and the potential heresy a Pope could in theory be guilty of etc etc

      Feser's only mention of heresy is his passing remarks that he does not think it is legitimate to label Francis one and to distinguish himself from critics that do.

      Now I am a liar? Dude! Really?

      Dude go pray then post tomorrow.

      PS You are my friend and I would prefer yer abuse to being white knighted by one of the shite Gnu Troll twats who post here.

    5. additional:

      Feser said "Before you misrepresent me again, note that I am not accusing Pope Francis of modernism or any other heresy. Indeed, in some of the articles of mine that you cite, I have explicitly criticized those who have been too quick to accuse him of heresy."

      Yeh preemptively telling you he is not accusing the Pope of heresy is not him saying you said he accused the Pope of heresy.

      Since you already misrepresented him on something he was suprmising you might do it again so he got ahead of it.

      That is not him accusing you of accusing him of calling the Pope a heretic.

      Dave you need to own this...

  35. Dave really took the time to answer virtually every comment on this post.

    1. You’d think people would have better things to do.

  36. The eminent theologian, Dr. Robert Fastiggi just commented on my blog:

    "For Prof. Feser to suggest that these orthodox statements [of the pope on divorce] are analogous to the efforts of the Modernists to hide their unorthodoxy with occasional orthodox statements strikes me as very unfair to the Holy Father."

    1. Oh my God, he said that? Can he read?

    2. Oh for goodness' sake, will his insanity never end? Why has everyone suddenly forgotten how to read?

      I made it crystal clear what point I was making by reference to Pius's criticism of the modernists, which is that he there expressed the general principle that ambiguous and imprecise statements are not excusable simply because a person makes clearer and orthodox statements in other contexts. I explicitly said that the point was not to accuse Pope Francis of modernism or any other heresy. (Honorius was also guilty of imprecision and ambiguity, but to point that out hardly entails accusing him of modernism, which didn’t even exist at the time.)

      Seriously, Dave, are you now frantically emailing theologians for back up in this ridiculous tantrum you’re throwing? Would you please get a life and move on? Surely you have something better to do – mow your lawn, play Scrabble, watch Netflix? Something?

    3. I sure don't need any "back up" in dealing with your arguments about Pope Francis: which are so poor and incoherent that you don't even have the willingness to defend them and exhibit the courage of your convictions.

      Instead we have disdain, mockery, more and more lies about me, childish fits of temper, and running away from the actual question at hand.

      I was neither "frantic" in letting Bob know about this nor seeking "back up." I never once asked him to "PLEASE go respond to Feser or I will have a mental breakdown!" You seem to enjoy indulging absurd fantasies and mythologies about other people.

      Bob simply is interested in these sorts of issues where the pope is accused of something or other, as I am. He has dialogued with you in the past and with many others.

      But you don't like the fact that I simply made him aware of this discussion (which really turned out not to be one at all). Too bad. I don't much care for all the abuse here from your fawning sycophants, that you are quite happy to let go on, while at my blog and Facebook page you'll find no one trashing and ridiculing YOU (because I actually enforce consistent Catholic -- and elementary biblical -- ethics). But I live with it.

      You can play the "academic snob" card with me, since I'm not an academic, but you can't with Bob, who actually is a theologian, unlike you.

      And, very unlike you, he is always civil in debate, and actually sticks to the topic, without huge digressions into ad hominem territory and making fun of someone's name and making that a pretext to dismiss them entirely as people and fellow Catholics.

    4. Dave, I'm being absolutely serious here: Please go have a drink or something. Throw a ball around with the kids. Anything other than obsessing over this. It will do you some good.

    5. Dave, really, cool down.

    6. I'll be working on my pool shortly (planned for several days now). I'm not "obsessed" (can you ever cease lying about me?) Rather, I'm principled. In addition to defending the Holy Father, I am defending my name and my character and even now my apologetics apostolate, which has been mocked by several folks here, against the endless onslaught that you have no problem allowing in your venue.

      It's nothing new. It's a weekly thing for apologists. That's why I'm neither "obsessed" nor "frantic" nor any other of the mind-reading fantasies that you have miraculously discerned as supposedly in me.

    7. You called me a liar and threaten to ban be from yer blog. So I one upped you and blocked you on FB. It is killing me.

      Why Dave?

    8. When you're over this, unblock me if you like, and we'll get back to normal life. Yes, I believe you are lying (telling untruths / falsehoods about) my position, just as you think I am doing the same to Feser. We'll have to agree to disagree on this.

      If that's a dealbreaker for you, then go in peace. It isn't for me, and I was on the receiving end of your constant charges, Feser's, and his whole army here.

      It's just a typical "feeding frenzy." I've been through it a dozen times. No big deal on my end.

    9. My wife told me I should and I thought I would do something radical. I unblocked you and re-friended you.

      >Yes, I believe you are lying (telling untruths / falsehoods about) my position, just as you think I am doing the same to Feser. We'll have to agree to disagree on this.

      You need to drop the word "lying". To lie is to tell someone something is true that you know to be false. I truly believe yer in the wrong here. I am not lying. I believe this.

      So ditch the "lying" mishigoss. Call me misguided and or deluted but nor "lying".



    10. I always leave my thoughts oot in the air. The radical thing was I listened to my wife.

      PS dina tell the other Scotsmen.


    11. The first meaning at is deliberate lying, but the third is simply falsehood. I am using the third.


      a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

      something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture:

      His flashy car was a lie that deceived no one.

      an inaccurate or false statement; a falsehood.

      "lying" is similar:

    12. I've learned a lot of Thomism these past few years and Dave you I think have picked up a wee bit of nominal-ism(in the old philosophical sense not the false idea God is indifferent to what religion we profess).

      Words mean things beyond dictionary definitions. There is context and culture and ordinary communication norms.

      Telling someone their lying is in normal speech naturally understood to be an accusation of immorally. Specifically the immorality of willfully saying something is true that the teller knows to be untrue.

      Saying "Yer mislead Jim" is different than saying "Yer lying". When you accused me of saying you Dave are lying (which I did not do) it is obvious to me at the time you took this imagined accusation to mean I was accusing you of saying something is true that you know to be false.

      So WTF? What is with the double standard?

      BTW I don't think yer lying. I think ya in a bit of a panic and you are laboring under a mental reservation.

      But my speculations about yer internal life are as futile as speculating Feser's intent in critiquing the Holy Father's ambiguous statements.

      Anyway I here by inform you I understand the the statement "Yer lying" to always refer to the first meaning.

      Please refrain from saying that to me and less you know or believe with reasonable certainty I am taking the smeg on purpose.

      BTW if anybody says something that is untrue that they don't know is untrue well the untruth might be a lie but it doesn't logically follow the person speaking it is a liar.

      With this in mind I think you need to re think this whole thing you started with Feser . Also you should say a Hail Mary. If the wife didn't move me to do it I would still be blocking you.

      Think about it.

    13. Dictionaries exist for a reason. "Lying / liar" either have this second meaning or they don't. The dictionaries say that they do. I have explained that this is what I meant: you are not deliberately asserting what you know to be false. You sincerely believe what you are saying. Same for Dr. Feser. Dead wrong, but sincere.

      But in my opinion it is falsehood and untrue.

      What you will have to grapple with is the remarkably unethical, childish, shocking, terrifically ad hominem response of Dr. Feser, and his being perfectly okay with many others here attacking my person and my apostolate as well.

      It's tough to see those we look up to acting so poorly and so contrary to the ethics that the Bible and the Church give us. I sure have been through that many times and know the feeling well.

      Pray for him and pray for me. And thanks for those prayers beforehand.

      Your wife is a very wise and wonderful woman. You are blessed beyond measure to be married to her, just as I am blessed to have my priceless wife Judy.

  37. Dave wrote:"He still has plenty to answer for, and he is utterly refusing to do so. I say that the reasonable explanation for that is that he can't; he was caught in self-contradiction and it's embarrassing to him that a non-academic pointed this out, hence the current ridicule and mockery."

    I'm laughing so much. Dave thinks his arguments are nuclear bombs but in reality they're like roatten sticks.

    1. You can laugh all you like (great for the soul). The fact remains (whatever one might think of it) that Feser *hasn't* answered, and now has said he never *will* answer.

      Everyone is entitled to interpret that response as they see fit.

    2. Whatever. Cool down anyway.

    3. The Church and Western Civilization literally are burning down around us, and this is the fight you choose to pick, Mr. Armstrong? To attack a faithful Catholic who pushes back against the non-theistic zeitgeist of the day? As a convert, I benefited from some of your articles over the years, but this is ridiculous. God bless.

    4. Right. Feser is a perfect saint in all this: pure as the driven snow. I'm Attila the Hun because I tried conciliation and dialogue and keep getting attacked over and over here. Everyone's a saint here except me.

    5. if you're armstronging again, where? your blog is inactive since 2015? i been looking for you and mistakenly remmembered you as blogging on shamelespopery. lol but no. and your real blog is kaput.

    6. Yes, BTW same to you.


  38. I dont like your style but good points.

    1. U dina have to like it but I dina fash. Peace be with U and thanks.

      God Bless.

  39. Interesting: a whole thread in here just disappeared. Maybe the whole business should disappear?

    1. There's a whole lunatic troll side-show going on, unrelated to the main-event Armstrong stuff but sometimes intertwining itself with it. That's the reason for the multiple en masse deletions. There's no point picking through all that gnat crap just to save a grain of pepper or two. So I just delete a bunch of it at a time.

  40. For what it's worth, I've never heard of Dave Armstrong before, and am something of a fan of Edward Feser, but in my opinion, Dr. Feser is clearly in the wrong here. Mr. Armstrong has repeatedly tried to dial down the heat, and clarify and correct misunderstandings, while Dr. Feser has repeatedly mocked him, taken him out of context to ridicule him, and ignored his overtures. Dr. Feser is acting a lot like a troll.

    1. Thank you so much. Now I have hope in the human race again. What a breath of fresh air! God bless you.

    2. David Gudeman,

      Since you seem in the past to have been a serious commenter, I’ll take the bait.

      What on earth are you talking about? Really, it isn’t complicated. Dave A. got this whole stupid thing started by attributing a false claim to me. I twice asked him, at his blog, to retract it. He refused, and instead doubled down in the way I have described. So I responded with the post above. That’s it.

      Finally, only after all that and under pressure of criticism from several of his own readers and mine, Dave issued a grudging retraction and altered the original offending blog post to take the worst parts out – but while at the same time bizarrely playing the victim rather than the instigator. For example, he accuses me of ungraciously mocking him despite his having given an “apology” – when the truth is that the “apology” followed the mockery, which was delivered only after I had twice more gently tried to get him to retract. So, if I’m “in the wrong,” why did Dave decide he finally had to issue a grudging retraction and apology?

      Finally, all the other stuff Dave has written in this exchange is irrelevant to his initial mischaracterization, which is the only reason I responded to him at all. I have a million other things going on and have no time for or interest in an exchange with Dave about Amoris, Pope Francis, etc. I was interested only in correcting his mischaracterization of my views, and then moving on. Had he corrected it right away, rather than after two days of kicking and screaming, I never would have written the post above or paid the matter any further attention. And that I attempted to correct it does not somehow oblige me now to start reading through and responding to all the other stuff he’s been churning out over the last couple of days.

    3. My, my Ed. I should think that just by chance, if nothing else, you would get *something* right about my internal states of thought and emotion. But I have yet to see it. I suggest you stick to philosophy. Reading hearts and minds is a very bad look for you.

    4. The irony here is that Armstrong is accusing Ed of "reading hearts and minds" here, when literally the only "Reading" Ed did was point out that the apology and retraction was grudging - which is about as reasonable as it gets since it took him getting called out multiple times in multiple places to FINALLY issue it!

      Mr. (Dr.? Not sure) Armstrong, your best bet is to probably just stop obsessing over it. You were wrong and were called out. If you just left it there it would be over, but you refuse. You won over one guy, though.

  41. Oh, Armstrong posts on Satan's bloghole Patheos? What a traitor! That hive of atheism is no place for a putatively Christian blog. For shame Armstrong, you scoundrel! To hell with all who post on patheos to be paid crumbs from Satan!

    1. Right. Meanwhile I refute atheists hundreds of times. Is that Satan's work too?:

    2. i see that since you responded to my comment you updated your old blog at to redirect to Satan's Patheticos. That's the ultimate sellout and betrayal, Armstrong, that now even your old blog cannot be read. You have truly entered the lowest circle of hell.

    3. Yeah, I'm the very essence of wickedness. But at least if you're not in hell, that will be my solace.

  42. You know, there are several people out there who think that opening a debate with sweeping statements and insults is a good idea. I'm not sure why that is.

  43. Okay, well, for what it's worth, I had read a couple of articles from Armstrong before this and found them fine; I find Feser genrrally a much clearer writer and thinker.

    But flr what it's worth I also thi I Dr. Feser is entirely in the right here and Armstrong has been embarassing himself. I read through this whole thread andha e gotten repeatedly exasperated.

    That Armstrong drops in to tell a commenter he has faith in the human race because *said commenter took his side in a personal dispute* strikes me as actually comical. Did a real human being actually write that thinking it sounded sane or normal?

  44. Well this is sad. Shouldn't we be defending the Faith? Still, I admire and respect both Dr. Feser and Mr. Armstrong (Still do). I think both have done well defending the Faith, and I thank them for that.

    1. It is very sad. Thank you very much for your kind words and all glory to God. Dr. Feser has done excellent work and should be highly commended.

  45. There are situations where the lack of a superior to say "who is right does not matter! You guys will stop that now!" Is very bad.

  46. WCB writes:

    What we need now is a stern nun with a ruler to whack both of their hands and command them both to be quiet and sit down.


  47. Regardless of who is right as far as the question of misrepresenting the other is concerned (the account in this post makes sense though), Feser's stance on how to take certain statements by the Pope is spot on. A similar attitude could well be applied to other comments attributed to Pope Francis. Traditionalists have had to maintain this very attitude in order to make sense of the situation for more than half a century now.

  48. Ed, you might or might not know, but Dave Armstrong gets really obsessive about his targets. About a year or two ago, he was posting nearly every day on his Patheos blog, and in reviews (!!), regarding what a bad Catholic Taylor Marshall is.

    Marshall had come out with a book, entitled, "Infiltration," regarding the modernist infiltration of the Church. The book sent Armstrong into a seething range. He's a really volatile guy. Not surprising to see him show up here trolling like a lunatic.

    1. I've read Traditionalists take issue with Marshall's book because it is overly sensationalistic and overly speculative.

      Also the insinuation Pope St Paul VI was a homosexual is a vile slander that has as its source a fellow named Roger Peyrefitte, a known Marxist, homosexual homosexual right activist and pederast so that is minging slander.

      His book is nonsense.

  49. I’m wondering 💭 I like a good debate and they have been around in our literature for ages. I’m wondering why Feser did not act as a gentleman and answer the first time Dave presented all the arguments on paper. It is so easy to read all the arguments and follow a nice cordial debate. Ex. If Fesers intent was to not to call our Blessed Pope a heretic, why give an example of Popes that were. It’s almost like telling your wife that she is always bitching but your intent is not to call her a bitch. Sorry for the analogy but words do carry intent.

    1. Gilbert,

      If I engaged in an exchange with everyone who writes something about me online, I'd be doing nothing else. Perhaps you do not realize this, but I have a great many other obligations (several pre-existing writing projects and deadlines, keeping up regular blog content, teaching obligations, family obligations, etc.). I am not obligated to take on a new task just because somebody somewhere online decides one day to write a post about me.

      For the 1234th time, the only reason I bothered to respond to Dave at all was to correct the falsehood that he had initially posted and refused for two days to correct. I had no obligation to do even that much, and certainly have no obligation to read the mountains of material he has posted since.

      At the moment I am desperately trying to get some work done on the book on the soul I am writing, and to grade papers as the end of the semester looms. As well as taking care of various family obligations.

      But I've had to waste valuable time on this nonsense, all because some guy out of the blue posted some crap about me, wouldn't retract it, and now pretends that he's a victim and that I ought to drop everything and debate him. Seriously?

    2. Thanks a bunch for responding! I get it, thanks for clarifying. I read this article a while back from a good friend that also has a blog. I hope you can read it at some point. I myself would like to see more debates like these so we can all learn from each other. Again, thank you and I’ll be looking forward to that book 📖 on the soul and more of your blog.


    3. Thanks, Gilbert. If you're interested in what I'd say about some of the issues Dave is talking about, you might look at the old posts linked to at the end of my recent post "Do not abandon your Mother."

    4. This is hogwash from A to Z. We're all busy, but that's not an issue here, as I will explain.

      I did NOT misrepresent you at all: neither your views nor your motivations. My third reply proved that I never accused you of saying the pope's views on marriage were heretical. But as you have noted several times, you stopped reading.

      All I retracted was the title of my first reply, which I determined to be misleading and too pointed after reflection. You have never re-thought a title of an article or book chapter or any words anywhere in your output, these past thirty years?

      There was nothing else to retract, because your accusations against me have been false from the beginning. I apologized for the bad title, and changed some words at the beginning of the first reply, too.

      You blew that off as "half-assed" and questioned my sincerity. That's not Christian ethics, which is "forgive 70 x 7."

      I have made several clarifications, in hopes of cooling you down, explaining real or possibly perceived excesses on my part, and getting you to deal on a level of reason and calmness, committed orthodox Catholic to committed orthodox Catholic, man to man rather than supercharged rhetoric and slanderous accusations, one after another in rapid succession. All to no avail. We could have easily agreed and moved on, and avoided this whole fiasco.

      Not to worry: I have less than no desire to engage in debate with you: especially not after this pitiful performance (both intellectually and behaviorally). I think you have acted like a classic textbook case of an arrogant academic snob, and an intellectual coward.

      There never was any need for long reply. I argued vigorously (as always), but at bottom, I was calling for a simple clarification of your views. The "heart" of my argument was to contend that the pope's "problematic" statements on marriage and divorce ought to be interpreted in light of his unquestionably clear statements (that I collected).

      I proposed that choice as one you might consider, rather than placing emphasis on what you think are unclear statements and thus (at least by insinuation) casting into doubt the pope's clear utterances.

      Our mutual friend "Son of Ya'Kov": who has agreed with you and blasted me here and on my blog and Facebook during this entire debacle, causing much friction and frustration between us, did nevertheless suggest the same argument or proposal (not seeming to be aware that I already had), calling it an "out."

      ALL you had to do, essentially, was utter a simple "yes" or "I accept that scenario" or some such. One word or four words: taking less than thirty seconds. But you refused to answer that, because you refused to interact with ANY of my criticisms.

      That's it. Simple. Not time-consuming. If you spent one-hundredth of the time you have spent raving, misrepresenting and mocking me with this ridiculous, childish post, attempting mind- and heart-reading, trashing everything I do and attributing to me the lowest of motives every time, allowing me to be trashed by almost everyone in this thread, all of this could have been over two days ago, with infinitely less fuss and fury, and in fact, no acrimony at all.

      But instead you dug in and decided to act like a horse's @$$.

      Most here have automatically agreed with you, and will continue to do so, because this is how online forums (sadly) almost always work. You're the big "champion" here, and I truly do understand that, because you have done a lot of great work. In many ways that's fine. We all need role models. Some folks put me in that role too.

      But the groupthink / echo chamber / clonish agreement is what is dangerous. A true thinker and his blog followers would and should have welcomed such a critique as an opportunity for constructive discussion. But no, not you; nor almost all of your followers here.

  50. Oh, Good Lord, I hope they can patch things up. Dave Armstrong was very influential in my becoming Catholic 15 years ago, and I have all of Edward Feser's books. Two of my guiding lights!

    1. Thanks, Gary. Just to be clear, though I find Dave's recent behavior annoying and unjustifiable, I do not bear him any ill will and do not think he is a bad person. On the contrary, he does seem to me to be a good guy, but oversensitive. Certainly I highly respect his devotion to the Church and the fair shake he wants to give to the pope, even if I think the latter has driven him (as it has too many others in recent years) to excess. And he clearly has done a lot of good for a lot of people over the years through his writings. So, more power to him on that score. But he should probably spend less time online (as, frankly, we all should).

    2. We hardly can, Gary, when only one party is willing. Pray! Praise God that you came into the Church.

    3. This is good and constructive, and I appreciate it. But of course many serious charges have been sent my way, both by you and some 15-20 people here, including that I deliberately misrepresented you, am playing the victim card, supposedly have all sorts of negative and out-of-control emotions swirling around, that I am hotheaded, an incompetent, obsessed person who is merely an "amateur apologist with a loud blog", who knows what else, on and on and on (someone, for example --typically of 90% of the comments about me -- , just called me "a really volatile guy" and a "lunatic").

      Serious Christian adults retract such charges and apologize. So, real progress in this comment; something other than relentless insults, but much remains to be done (Jesus' standards are very high). I have already tried to do a lot of conciliatory things but you blew them off or never even read them at all.

    4. Dave, I never said you deliberately misrepresented me. I just said that you misrepresented me. Nor did I call you incompetent, though maybe you're referring to someone else who made that charge.

      What I do think is that, while you did not intentionally misrepresent me, emotion and stubbornness did lead you, first, to refuse initially to admit that you had made a mistake; and second, once you finally admitted it, to refuse to let the matter drop. And I think that emotion and stubbornness then led you to take excessive offense at the perfectly understandable annoyance with you that I showed because of your initial refusal to admit the mistake, and to insist, bizarrely, that I am now somehow obligated to get into some exchange with you about the pope.

      From what I can tell, the overall tenor of comments here is actually not too different from what it is at your own blog. In both cases, while there have been a handful of people who sympathize with you, the general drift has been to judge that you are in the wrong. And that is even after you deleted some comments at your own blog that were critical of you. (The only comments critical of me that I have deleted from this thread are from a longstanding troll who knows and cares nothing about the matters we have been arguing about, but instead, and whatever the topic of a post might be, routinely posts comment after comment after comment of insults, obscenities, off-topic references, and other such junk.)

      Apparently, from the relief you expressed at one positive comment about you posted above, you have been getting similar feedback elsewhere. Once you cool down a bit, I urge you to consider that these facts might give you an objective measure of things.

      Anyway, I've long since tired of this so, I hope, this will be my last comment on the matter. Peace to you.

    5. Hmm, having just gone over to look, it seems you've now also deleted some of the other comments at your blog that were critical of you!

    6. Once again, I DID NOT MISREPRESENT YOU, PERIOD: whether intentionally or not. I didn't accuse you of calling the pope's views "heretical"; didn't question your motives; NONE of that.

      One title was misleading and I could see that it might easily be interpreted that way, but that interpretation was not my own. If you will spend five minutes reading my third reply (pretty short, if you don't read the later exchanges that I collected), I prove from word searches of my replies that I never did. It's a total myth. This is a false charge made against me, which has been repeated like a mantra, innumerable times (none of which makes it not false; ad nauseam fallacy). This is about the 6th time now that I have had to reiterate this because you will not or cannot receive it.

      Fair point about your not saying I deliberately did so. I think I characterized it that way once or twice, and I will remove that word. Thanks, and my apologies for that.

      Yeah, I have people often critical of me on my blog, because I don't encourage groupthink and act like I am above all criticism. I welcome it. Usually people comment when they have a complaint, not a compliment, in these matters, as you surely know.

      What doesn't happen on my blog is a bunch of people trashing you. It simply isn't there. I would delete it if it did happen, but it never started. There was one comment that was intellectual and not slanderous in nature.

      But I got curious a few days ago how many of my Facebook friends thought I was a "hothead" as you (who barely knows me at all, and has never met me) absurdly claimed I was. It was only up a short time (because I knew it would be mocked, as it was), but it was 19-1 that I was not, and most (several of whom have met me) thought it was the exact opposite of the truth ands a ridiculous claim.

      So if I actively ask opinions, I get a lot of positive feedback. But because I don't encourage clones, I do get criticism too.

      Once AGAIN, I deleted comments (mostly from one person) because it had trolling characteristics and he was trying to dominate a discussion that properly ought to have been between US. My opinion (right or wrong) was that he poisoned the well, and so it was fit for deletion. It had nothing to do with being unwilling to be criticized, as you stated earlier.

      I've deleted others of a sweeping nature because they accomplish nothing. I expect people to make specific criticisms of my words, not merely say, "That stunk; Feser clearly won" etc. My blog ain't Twitter. I've never done Twitter. I expect actual arguments, not bald statements. Rush Limbaugh used to always ask people to be specific when they roundly criticized him. It was the same principle. Often, they couldn't; they were spouting subjective impressions, not documented facts.

      The three posts on this are closed now due to the unsavory nature of how it has gone down. My normal policy is to always have threads open. And I probably will open these again after the uproar dies down.

      I hope it's your last comment on this, too, but if you keep repeating the falsehood that I misrepresented you, that I have thoroughly refuted, I will reply. I won't let that go out unopposed, on the same basis that you said the following:

      "I do admit to getting ticked off when they egregiously misrepresent what I say. Criticize me for what I actually think – not for what I don’t think, or for what you’d like to imagine I think."

      We both have the same complaint about each other. So, just as you are passionate about protesting what you (falsely) think I have done, I am passionate about what you have certainly done (because I proved beyond all doubt that I never did what I am accused of).

    7. You never cease taking your shots, do you? Now I have to explain this.

      Actually, I already explained why, in my last reply, but we'll do it again! It has a perfectly normal explanation. What is not normal, and plainly unethical, is the trash and the worthless slander that you allow to take place on your blog (along with the stupid, malicious, slanderous post you put up about me). It's a disgrace. How can it be justified? You have no standards at all for comments (or posts when you get ticked off at someone)? And these things can potentially harm me in a very tangible way.

      You have a nice professor's job. I have ever-decreasing royalties (my three highest-selling books are all now 14 years old or older) and a few generous folks who think my work is worthwhile to support. I get Social Security now (thank God). I pay my bills. We don't have credit cards. I have good credit. I'm not financially irresponsible. I've been a full-time apologist for over 19 years.

      But I can be financially harmed, and that is one important reason why I defend myself. It's not ME. It's the value of the WORK. People testify that I helped them, up to and including many who became Catholics as a result (even on your blog, a few have said this).

      Since you are on my blog, can you do me a favor, take five minutes and read my third reply, so you can disabuse yourself of this notion that I misrepresented you? I would be eternally grateful.

      Also, when I deleted several comments, for reasons explained, I deleted my OWN replies too. So they went down along with the comments that I thought did not move the discussion along.

      I demand of commenters that they interact with my actual words and arguments. I don't give a rat's rear end about "you lost" or "you made a crappy argument there" or "Feser is a professor and you are an amateur just like anyone else, with a loud blog" etc. That's Twitter, which is stupid and worthless. I demand actual interaction with my reasoning. I challenge my readers and commenters, just as you do your students.

      It's like one well-known fellow apologist and good friend who disagrees with me about Pope Francis. One day he told me, "I know a guy [presumably a mutual friend] who says he has lost a lot of respect for you." I asked who it was, so I could respond to him. He wouldn't tell me. That's the same mentality: the willingness to throw out a non-specific blast or a potshot, where I have no ability to defend myself.

      Usually I would simply let these things pass without comment (critical comments). But because of the ugly nature of this conflict, I decided that I could only put up with so much nonsense.

      Now if someone had put up a thoughtful, serious, point-by-point reply, absolutely, ILOVE that, and would have a reply up within 24 hours. That's completely different.

      That rarely happens. You yourself could have done it, but you refused. But when it happens, I absolutely love the challenge and opportunity, and put a very high priority on responding, because that's the dialogue that I have loved ever since 1977 and my introduction to Socrates in my first philosophy course in college.

      My blog proves what I am about. It has over 3,300 articles: many of them dialogues. I am the very last person where it makes any sense at all to accuse me of not welcoming or interacting with criticism and serious opposing views. I have dealt with every belief-system under the sun.

      But believe as you wish. You still don't know me from Adam.

    8. Dave, to suggest that I hold that "Pope Francis favors divorce" (the phrase you originally had in the post) certainly misrepresents my view, and also suggests that I accused him of heresy (since it would be heretical to favor divorce). And the misrepresentation is certainly a serious one, since it is no small thing to accuse a pope of heresy.

      You want to insist indignantly that your remarks were "misleading" rather than "misrepresenting" in nature. What exactly you think the difference is supposed to be, or why you attach so much anger to your insistence on such hair-splitting, I have no idea.

      All the remarks you deleted were, from what I remember, actually perfectly measured in tone and in some cases even friendly to you. More to the point, if you are going to pretend that the feedback you've gotten here at my combox represents only pro-Feser bias, then to be intellectually honest and test that hypothesis, you'd have to check your own combox to see what it reflects. Yet in fact your own readership was having much the same reaction -- in which case, the "pro-Feser bias" explanation falls apart.

      As to the charge of being hotheaded and otherwise overly emotional, by my count you've now posted four long blog posts at your own blog and over FORTY comments here, many of them very long and impassioned -- all about something that could have been resolved in about 5 seconds several days ago. Not to mention all the Facebook stuff you've referred to. Do the math!

      OK, enough for now.

    9. This is all old and tired stuff. Briefly (as I have explained and you probably never read), the title was rhetorical, with a question mark. I was probing your views in my first article, challenging and being provocative (as is my wont; and I do definitely love debate), but not making sweeping assertions. I was trying to get clarifications, just as you and other papal critics demand of the pope (what irony there).

      That's why I wasn't intending to assert in the title that you made an outright denial. I was asking for clarification because your comments seemed internally incoherent.

      It was a catchy title. But I came to agree that the second part ("Feser vs. the Facts") did plausibly imply what you are saying, which was NOT my view, and thus wasn't fair to you.

      I made a mistake. I already apologized. You blew it off as "half'-assed" and put "apology" in quotation marks, implying that it was insincere. That is atrocious ethics, and scandalous from a Catholic of your stature.

      What the hell ELSE can I do about it? I've apologized it, changed the words, and clarified. Apologies are meant to be forgiven, with the incident not brought up again. That's how Jesus designed it.

      You have apologized for absolutely nothing, even though you have plenty to apologize for. You said a few nice words in one post, which was a hopeful sign for reconciliation and progress, but they were only the beginning. You have a lot to still account for and explain (and retract).

      At least we're talking. That's good. But the significant progress is SO S...L...O...W.

      The other stuff ain't worth responding to (again); believe as you wish. I vigorously respond when I am being slandered or even significantly understood (where people behave normally), just as Cardinal Newman (my hero) did in Apologia pro vita sua (and no, I'm not comparing myself to him; that'll be the next blast here, no doubt).

      I recall an exchange with Kingsley in that marvelous book, where Newman said something like, "RETRACT it?! I never SAID it!" That's how I feel with all this mess. You keep demanding that I retract a view that I never held and never asserted. I can't do so, in the nature of the case.

    10. Typo: "I vigorously respond when I am being slandered or even significantly [mis]understood."

    11. Dave, for goodness's sake, enough already.

      I called it "half-assed," because by my lights, when someone digs in his heels and doubles down instead of admitting a mistake, then finally admits it days later only grudgingly and after criticism from his own readers makes the mistake undeniable -- and then, on top of that, pretends that he is nevertheless somehow a victim and that I owe him an apology for expressing annoyance at his initial stubborn refusal -- well, yes, by my lights that's pretty half-assed. Apparently your mileage varies.

      But again, enough already.

    12. Okay, I give up. You don't seem to want to exercise the slightest charity. This is not a Christian spirit. We were so close to breaking the impasse. But it takes two. You're right back to your self-righteous rebukes and judgments again: just like a Pharisee. All God's blessings to you and all here.

    13. Dave, I'm happy to accept your apology and I'm gonna leave it there, because I really ought to get back to other things. I hope that the rest of your weekend is relaxing. God bless.

    14. Well that is over thank God.

      I am gonna go read some Oderberg on Premotion to calm me down......

    15. The insistence that the original title was merely misleading is why the apology strikes me as half-assed as well. "Does Pope Francis Favor Divorce? (Ed Feser vs. the Facts)" ain't neutral regarding what Ed thinks. Yes, it implies that Ed thinks the pope favors divorce. It is not merely misleading, as though the problem is just that readers misunderstood it or it was ambiguous. It actually makes no sense as a title unless the implication is that Ed would answer the rhetorical question affirmatively. That was the problem. And that is why when you say that you never misrepresented Ed's views (even by accident) but they were just misleading, it sounds like "Well, I'm sorry you were offended"--i.e., a half- or non-apology.

      I don't mean to reopen the wound but am rather saying this because I think you're capable of being morally serious but you can't see how you are coming off in this case. I don't know your work personally but years ago (before I deleted) we were Facebook friends, and one of our mutual friends esteems your work highly.

      Ignore the posters here who are just running their mouths. There are lots of doofuses. Ed has a more lenient commenting policy than other places. They do the same thing to him and to each other. Not worth taking personally.

  51. Dave is like the little, weak and skinny boy who keep annoying a more muscular (or just muscular), stronger and bigger guy just to get a fight in which he will get destroyed. Give what he wants...

  52. I've drawn up a code of conduct for comments which I'm happy to supervise if Professor Feser agrees.

    1. He should get a trusted grad student or under grad to monitor the blog for him and kick oot the trolls (also save some of moi..from giving into the temptation to smack them).

      This way he can do some philosophy and not have to worry about it.

  53. Really, Dave, I have no bone in this fight and I don't know who is right. But you are your worse enemy. As somebody who has read your texts occasionally for years, it pains me to see you reacting in this way. You are above this obsession.

    Please calm down. It's not that big of a deal. This is a very unimportant matter. When people express their opinions on the Internet, these things happen. One month from now, this discussion will be forgotten but your words will remain on the Internet. Remember 1 Peter 3,15.

  54. So in the event I guess it turned out to be Dave "Stretch Your Obsessive Pettiness to the Breaking Point" Armstrong. Yeesh! Lord have mercy! It would have been lovely to have seen instead some intelligent analytical discussion of the substantive issue. Armstrong's scholarship (ahem, Google search) demonstrating Francis's repeated use of the phrase "indissolubility of marriage" doesn't real cut it, to say the least.

  55. If you read this far, may God forgive us for wasting all this time.

  56. I wonder how Dave spins this one:
    Letter from Pope Francis Expresses Support for Fr. James Martin’s Controversial ‘LGBT’ Ministry