Saturday, November 06, 2004

Disputatio Rules

I just got an e-mail from one of the people in my History of Christian Life and Thought class wanting me to put my rules for when I judge the next disputatio debate or everyone, not just counsel, can read it. So, here it is:

Official Summons to the Disputatio
Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
You are officially requested and required to appear and defend your case for or against Pelagianism in the Ecclesial Court of AKMA, Thursday 18th November, in the Year of our Lord 2004.
Pro-Pelagians (Defendors: M. Buterbaugh and C. Wilson, et al.) v Anti-Pelagians (Prosecutors: R. Horn and E. Scriven, et. al.)
Structure of the Disputatio
General Opening
Formal Pleading (Guilty/Not-Guilty)
General Instructions repeated by the Judge
10 minute opening statement from each side (Prosecution goes first)
5 minute rebuttal (prosecution)
5 minute counter-rebuttal (defense)
Question and Answer session
Potential sentencing recommendations in the event of a guilty finding.
Judge’s Comments
I am going to be a little more formal in the disputatio due to my legal training. The disputatio will have the structure of a trial. I am setting this up in a way where the defense (the Pelagians) will be assumed innocent until proven guilty. I will be working under the assumption that Pelagians, though unorthodox in view, are not heretical unless the prosecution can prove to me via logic, reason, scripture, etc., that Pelagianism is a heresy and therefore a threat that this ecclesial court much take formal action against.
One other note, I will be the only one that will be asking questions during the question and answer session. I am, even now, conjuring up questions to pitch to both sides. I will endeavor (though given the nature of the disputatio I do not know if I will be able to pull off) to ask each side the same number of questions. After each question, most likely directed at just one side, if the other side wishes to make a brief counter-response, I will allow it at my discretion. In the past disputatios, I have found that when the audience is allowed to ask questions, they tend to be one sided and the defense is usually left having to answer many more questions than the prosecution. Given that I will presume the defendants innocent until proven guilty, I wish to cut down on this. To this end, if the audience has a question, I will invite them to submit it in writing during the break and I will pose the question at my discretion, if it is a point I had not considered or do not know the answer too.
For purposes of my deliberation, I would like each side to have a copy of their script or argument outline and references (mainly scriptural) submitted to me either before (stick it in my box) or no later than the end of the disputatio. Failure to submit these will prejudice your case (as will bribery, attempted bribery, mayhem, larceny, coercion, chaos, disorder, murdering of counsel(s). Complaining that Kerry lost the election and/or gloating that Bush won will be treated as a capital offense. Laughing at my Georgian barrister wig will be punishable by no less that 30 days in debtor’s prison or a fine of no less than 2 sticks of bubble gum.
If you have any further questions about this, just send them to my Seabury e-mail.
May God Have Mercy on Your Souls.
- Feloniously Honorable Ryan Hall, presiding

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