On Footnotes

James Swan discusses the use Catholic lay apologist Steve Ray makes of Luther quotes. Ray thinks Swan is quibbling, but Swan makes a necessary and legitimate point. If you are going to cite someone, you need to cite an authoritative source, preferably something you have actually read to verify whether the statement you are using is used properly.

Now, I don’t want to link Steve Ray and Bob Sungenis, since though they are both lay Catholic apologists they have radically different views on some subjects, but this does remind me of Sungenis’ disregard for sources. Sungenis, angry at a statement produced by a USCCB office summarizing years of Jewish/Catholic dialogue, ransacked the internet for quotes against Jews, citing (without attribution) a number of classic antisemitic sources. He, too, was greatly offended that someone would expect him to consider, verify, and attribute his sources.

When I announced I was returning to Adventism, a Catholic friend sent me an e-mail with various Ellen White quotes he had gotten from who knows where. In a method reminding me of a lawyer’s cross-examination (he is a lawyer) he gave the list of quotes without source or context and demanded that I answer simply, “Agree or disagree?”

Of course, it isn’t just Catholics who do this.

Folks, that’s not the way to do apologetics. Use sources that people can find readily. Be willing to discuss the context of those statements. Admit when you made a mistake.