As a Calvinist, I sometimes get challenges from anti-Calvinists to debate. Such is the case with Lou Rugg. His real name is Lou Ruggerio. Lou had been repeatedly informing me and others in anti-Calvinist rooms on Paltalk.com1 that I wouldn't last five minutes in a debate with him. Finally, on 12/31/032 he and I were in the process of agreeing on a debate topic: Total Depravity. We also agreed on the definition of Total Depravity: the doctrine that sin has touched all of what a person is and that an unregenerate person cannot choose God on his own because of the effect of that sin upon him. Of course, my position is that the unregenerate man cannot choose to come to God of His own free will. Lou's position is that he can.
Great. We had agreed upon the topic. But, then Lou said that he would "help me out" by telling me his strategy in advance. He said that in the debate he would go to Prov. 1:28 (“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me") and base his position off of that verse. He then said that I would have to prove to him that regeneration precedes faith. He raised the topic of Moses, Abraham, etc., and continued on with his requirement that I "prove that they were regenerate before believing." To this last statement I responded that that wasn't what we agreed to debate.
Finally, after some discussion where I pointed this out several times that regeneration preceding faith was not th etopic - others pointed it out as well. Finally, he agreed to do stick to the topic. We then began to work out the particulars of when the debate would occur. However, during our conversation he again returned to the requirement that I answer the issue of regeneration preceding faith. In his statement he said, "Matt, I want you to prove that a person is regenerated before faith." I again called him on this change of topic. He then said I was being evasive. I told him I was not being evasive, that he was, and that I wanted to stay on topic. He then said that I had already debated someone else on this and that we should debate something else. I told him that we had agreed on the topic, a topic that he said I could choose because he could beat me on any Calvinist doctrine I were to pick.
Unfortunately, Lou continued to require of me to respond to an issue that I didn't agree to debate. Our debate arrangement fell apart after that and he left the discussion.
Since I am cautious about this whole thing with him and am concerned about his misrepresentation, I thought it would be wise to present a brief review of this event in case Lou tried to state that I had backed out of the debate, which I did not do. Therefore, I asked people who were in the room to PM (Private Message) me with their comments so that I could further document what happened. I asked them to respond to whether or not Lou was evasive, tried to change the topic, and tried to get me to respond to something that I had not agree to topically. This is what I received.
- flesh_profits_nothing: Matt tried very hard to get along...didn't work.
- PuritanHope: He change the topic of the debate in a matter of seconds. He was telling Matt what he was going to discuss and the topic he changed it to was regeneration of Old Testament Saints. And not Total Depravity...PURITAN HOPE
- mamadog: Matt: this is what I heard----Lou agreed to debate total depravity then stated he wanted to prove that Abraham, Moses, and Noah chose God on their own without God's help. 'That these three were not totally depraved.
Okay, so others confirmed my observation. But, the next day, Lou PM'd me again3. Normally, I do not post people's private messages to me. But, I have prepared this page on a "just in case" basis. Following is our conversation, unedited, except to make our names bold:
LouRugg_777: Remember, if you debate me on the TULIP, I will force you to illustrate regeneration before faith. That you cannot do. Therefore, you will lose. That's just a warning.
Matt Slick: oh brother.
LouRugg_777: Have a Happy New Year :)
Matt Slick: you failed to agree to the debate terms and you failed to stick to the topic
Matt Slick: it is not the ordo salutis
Matt Slick: i told other calvinists about your statements
Matt Slick: they all said, and I agree, that you don't understand the issues
LouRugg_777: Matt, the TULIP will wither in front of your eyes if you cannot show regeneration before faith
Matt Slick: so, when you are ready to debate total depravity and not the ordo salutis, then let me know.
Matt Slick: lou, your comments are meaningless to me.
Matt Slick: you can't even see your logic errors
LouRugg_777: Its easy to destroy Calvinism. Thats why White couldn't address the issue of CHOICE in my debate with him. And neither can you4
Matt Slick: you can't even stick to the debate topic.
Matt Slick: like i said, when you're ready to actually stick to the topic, let me know.
LouRugg_777: Matt, I'll debate my way and you debate yours. Until you get out of Calvinism, your teachings will be weak
Matt Slick: really? is that why you TOLD me what to respond to and how to answer?
LouRugg_777: Shalom (That means peace in Hebrew) :)
Matt Slick: This is the point Lou, You make mistakes like that and can't see them.
LouRugg_777: Matt, debate me and I will expose you. You have been warned
Matt Slick: I've been warned?
LouRugg_777: End of conversation!
Matt Slick: You're warning me? What does that mean?
Matt Slick: Lou, you can't even agree to stick to the topic we previously agreed on. The issue was total depravity and the unregenerate's innability to freely choose God.
LouRugg_777: I'll expose you as a false teacher
LouRugg_777: That's the warning
Matt Slick: But, you DEMANDED that I answer, in the debate, that regeneration precedes faith. That is not the agreed upon topic
Matt Slick: The fact is that you couldn't stick to the topic and then you wanted to change it to something else.
LouRugg_777: I was being nice and telling you my strategy. Next time I won't! :)
Matt Slick: Then you come here and "warn" me?
Matt Slick: Lou, next time, you need to try and stick to the topic.
LouRugg_777: Matt, I debate my way and you debate yours. Remember, I'll drag you all over the scriptures and show you combos you've never seen before. Like I did with White :)
Matt Slick: and you need to not require of your opponent what he should respond to when it isn't on topic.
LouRugg_777: <---that's what I get for being Mr. Nice Guy! :)
Matt Slick: You keep boasting about how I wont' last five minutes in a debate, how you'll expose me as a false teacher, how you'll drag me all over the scriptures. Yet, Lou, when I have asked you specific questions before, you didn't answer them. I answered your comments, yet you let many of my scriptural challenges pass by. That is what many of us have seen with you, Lou.
Matt Slick: It isn't being "nice" to demand of your opponent to respond to something different than the agreed upon topic.
LouRugg_777: Matt, don't worry! You'll be just fine! Trust me! :)
Matt Slick: There is no debate.
LouRugg_777: That's your decision. Shalom! :)
Matt Slick: You have failed to comply with the agreed upon topic.
Matt Slick: I tried to get you to stick to it, but you refused, then you tried to change the topic.
LouRugg_777: I said SHALOM!
Matt Slick: I suggest you review this dialogue and when you are ready to debate the topic we agreed upon, let me know. I also suggest you do not tell me, in advance, what I am obligated to prove to you -- especially when it isn't the topic. Have a nice day.
Lou Rugg would be a good Christian apologist if he weren't trying to attack other Christians. Furthermore, I wish he could learn to stick to what he has agreed to discuss instead of changing the subject so much.
We have agreed on a debate topic and format as well as date (3/14/2012). The topic that Lou wanted to debate is "Is Prevenient Grace Biblical". I agreed. He sent me a pm that stated:
LouRugg_777: <<(03/06/12 10:30 AM EST)>> Matt, this is the arrangement that I believe we've agreed to....
LouRugg_777: <<(03/06/12 10:31 AM EST)>> We alternate back and forth for a total of 90 minutes. I will be going first. A 5 minute open for both of us . . . then 3 minute exchanges back and forth. The subject of our discussion is: Is Prevenient Grace Biblical?
LouRugg_777: <<(03/06/12 10:36 AM EST)>> In my opinion, the entire room should be dotted so that you and I or our admins can send over chat text. It'll force people to focus on the topic instead of getting into nonsensical discussions with someone else. Let me know what you think about that. Also, how about we allow a limited amount of Q&A afterwards. Say 10 questions. If a question is directed to me, you should have the right to respond . . .and vice versa. Anyway, let me know what you think. I'll run this message my Michael Abrams so he knows where I stand. See you on Wednesday 3/14 at 8pm eastern.
We actually debated. Lou hopscotched all over the scriptures in rapid fire style. He is good at doing exactly what he said above: "I'll drag you all over the scriptures and show you combos you've never seen before." In fact, it was so rapid that I was not able to respond to everything he said. He has now boasted repeatedly how he destroyed me. I don't see it that way, but each is entitled to his own opinion.
Update: Lou Ruggerio had been going into paltalk rooms on a regular basis, trying to tackle Calvinists in the process, all the while being extremely condescending and arrogant. He would seek me out in rooms and then publically boast that he destroyed me in all our past "debates", that I wasn't a worthy opponent, and that I needed to repent of my Calvinism, etc. He would say that I needed to take notes while he taught what Calvinism really was. He would repeatedly say to me and other Calvinists such things as, "Are you taking notes? I really want you to take notes because you really need to learn this." We would repeatedly say that he was insulting and condescending (not to mention that he would improperly represent Calvinism). When we would call him on his rudeness, he would tell us that if it was too difficult, we shouldn't dialogue with them. He informed us that no Calvinists has ever been a challenge and that he's won every debate he's ever been in. I, along with several other people, commented about his condescension and arrogance to him and asked him to consider toning it down. He has repeatedly ignored or comments. On one occasion, I told him that pastorally speaking I was concerned about his attitude and how ungodly it was. He ignored me.
Update: I finally got tired of his constant belittling, condescending attitude where he would go into rooms and single me out and tell everyone how I was not a good debator, that I needed to repent, that I was no challenge to him, etc. He has repeatedly attacked me by saying I am not a good debator (something I do a lot and it is part of my reputation), that I am not worth debating, that I am not much of a challenge, etc. He would also attack Calvinists in general and condemn our understanding of scripture as being wrong. (He's entitled to his opinion) After months of this, I finally challenged him to a debate on limited atonement. I repeatedly asked him to debate. He provided various excuses saying that I wasn't worthy of debate, that I was easy to beat, etc. I, along with many in the chat room, responded that if he is so good and I'm so bad, then it shouldn't be a problem for him. He refused to accept a simple debate on limited atonement from the Scriptures. Others in the room (this scenario occured on several occasions over severaly days) urged him to accept the challenge. He refused and said he did not want to bring confusion to the body of Christ and that's why he wouldn't debate the topic. Hmmmm. Finally, in a private message he contacted me and said he would be willing to debate unconditional or conditional election. Our dialogue did not go well. I told him he would not do well in the debate on limited atonement 5 and that the excuse of preventing confusion the body of Christ didn't work. So, I said let's talk about debating unconditional versus conditional election, and that is when he withdrew from the challenge.
Update: I had informed various people about Lou Rugg's (Lou Ruggerio) refusal to debate me on limited atonement and his apparent reticence to follow through on a debate challenge from him on unconditional election - which he recidend. I let people know about what happened. Lou eventually contacted me in private message (I still have the text) and said that he would debate me on unconditional election but that I had to meet a nonnegotiable condition. The condition was that I remove this article about him from the website. So, wile we were talking about arranging a debate, I immediately unpublished it from the CARM website per his request to meet his condition. I then stated to him that I unpublished it and that we could then continue to arrange the debate. He then added another condition. He wanted me to promise to never write anything about him ever again. I told him I could not agree to that because, for example, what if he went off the deep-end and started denying the Trinity or something like that? Would I then be bound not to write anything exposing such an error? Furthermore, I asked him if it was true (which others have told me is) that he has on his YouTube channel produced videos that are critical of me. So, I asked if he would be willing to remove what he said about me if he wants me to never write about him again. He refused to answer this question and left the conversation. Interesting.
- 1. Paltalk is a voice/text chat room that allows for live conversation.
- 2. As I re-read this on 2/19/2012, the date of '12/31/03' doesn't seem quite right. I think it might be a typo since I thought our dialogue happend about 2 or 3 years ago around 2010. But, I could be mistaken.
- 3. Lou has since told me he didn't care that I posted his message to me in this article.
- 4. James White is who he is referring to.
- 5. now that I look back on it, I let a little of my anger get the best of me and shouldn't have said that. I also said that he brought this on himself due to his repeated and incessant condescension, insults, and arrogance! It isn't just me who finally got fed up with him.
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