Overture to Debate (Updated)
As specified yesterday, the debate between myself and Joe Carter of First Things is to begin with the posting of quotes chosen by the two of us. I am obligated to post whatever quote he has picked on this venue, and he is obligated to post my quote on his venue. The debate will commence later today as the two of us additionally post our opening arguments in reference to our subject, which is atheism, Christianity, and the state, after which both of us must post the entirety of the other’s argument on our respective venues, just as shall be first done with these quotes.
The quote I have chosen is from the Emperor Theodosius I, who in the 4th century proclaimed Trinitarian Christianity – the modern form of Christianity whose specific dictates are today ascribed to by some one billion people, no doubt based on the self-evident truth of its particular theology rather than due to any series of historical accidents involving violent threats and political expediency – to be the official and legal religion of the Roman Empire.
It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict.
I look forward to engaging Mr. Carter further on this subject as the debate commences later today.
Mr. Carter has now put up his own quote, which I will reproduce below, as well as the first portion of his argument, to which I will link and respond later today after also reproducing it at this venue.
In keeping with the theme, I will also select a quote from an Roman Emperor—though one that I think is more fitting with the spirit of Christian toleration. In a.d.324 Constatine I issued an edict to the Eastern Provinces which included the following statement:
My own desire is, for the common good of the world and the advantage of all mankind, that thy people should enjoy a life of peace and undisturbed concord. Let those, therefore, who still delight in error, be made welcome to the same degree of peace and tranquillity which they have who believe. For it may be that this restoration of equal privileges to all will prevail to lead them into the straight path. Let no one molest another, but let every one do as his soul desires. Only let men of sound judgment be assured of this, that those only can live a life of holiness and purity, whom thou callest to a reliance on thy holy laws. With regard to those who will hold themselves aloof from us, let them have, if they please, their temples of lies: we have the glorious edifice of thy truth, which thou hast given us as our native home. We pray, however, that they too may receive the same blessing, and thus experience that heartfelt joy which unity of sentiment inspires.
I too look forward to a fruitful and engaging discussion.
You can find all of the posts in the discussion at this link.
Again, I will reproduce and reply to Carter’s first argument later today; it may meanwhile be seen here.
The latter link is not to Carter’s first argument, but rather to a post introducing the terms of the debate to his readers.