Friday, April 17, 2009

Self-Publishing and "Podunk Publishing" Efforts of the Leading Anti-Catholic Authors (King, Webster, White, Svendsen)

By Dave Armstrong (4-17-09)

Recently, some prominent anti-Catholics online have tried to make out that I am merely a "self-published" author, when in fact I now have four of my books published by two major Catholic publishers: Our Sunday Visitor (the largest Catholic publisher in the world), and Sophia Institute Press: a highly respected publisher that specializes in Catholic classics. Two of my books had been published by the year 2003; three by 2004, and four by 2007. Shortly, I'll have two more out: one with Sophia (Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths) and one with Saint Benedict Press (a Chesterton quotations book), making a total of six; with many more to come, by all reasonable indications and communications to me by my editors.

As always with these anti-Catholic naysayers, there has to be a glaring double standard. As I was eating my dinner tonight I was pondering a few of the big names among anti-Catholics online and who their publishers were. One of these luminaries of the anti-Catholic online provincial world is Pastor David T. King: the most ill-mannered man, bar none (including atheists and other non-Christians), -- though Gene "Troll" Bridges comes close -- that I've ever encountered online in 12 years. He referred to me recently (3 April 2009) as a "filthy, foulmouthed Romanist".

David T. King is co-author with William Webster of a three-volume set on sola Scriptura: Holy Scripture: the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith (see vol. 1 / vol. 2 / vol. 3 on amazon: currently at a 1 million sales rank or lower, while my books are generally in the range of 10,00-50,000 sales rank). I couldn't recall, sitting at dinner, try as I might, the name of the publisher. Well, after cruising over to trusty amazon, I discovered that it is the publishing industry titan Christian Resources, based in Battle Ground, Washington. Ever heard of them? I didn't think so. You're not alone. I did a bunch of Google searches in an effort to track down this publisher, to see what other books it has published. It took some work, as nothing was coming up.

After some difficulty, and after finding the location of the publisher in a Google Book Search, I finally ran across a website for this operation. And what did I find? Well, sure enough, it is a self-publishing operation. Very impressive, isn't it? Right on the home page, we read:
Christian Resources is a non-profit teaching, apologetics and publishing ministry . . . The director and Founder of Christian Resources is William Webster.
Ah; how difficult it is to publish your own book, without the burden of outside editors, or any quality control. Perhaps there is a board of directors? Maybe; though at this website one obtains no information whatsoever about that, if indeed it is the case. All we find are ten additional books by Webster. I fail to see how this makes him somehow a superior apologist. He publishes 13 of his own books with his own publishing company. I've done 13 of mine with Lulu. The difference, of course, is that I also have four books (soon to be six) with actual publishers, with boards and editors, and theological monitoring by scholars and bishops and priests, and operations independent of little ole Dave Armstrong, whereas Webster and King have none of that. They just have their own books published by themselves.

I thought that at least Webster must have "advanced degrees in theology and philosophy" in order to attain to the sublime title of apologist. So I set out on another difficult searching journey on the Internet, to look for his credentials. Well, I found this:
William A. Webster is a business man, living with his wife and children in Battle Ground, Washington. He has already authored The Christian Following Christ as Lord and Salvation, The Bible, and Roman Catholicism, and is a founder of Christian Resources, Inc., a tape and book ministry dedicated to teaching and evangelism.
Now, that doesn't tell us a whole heck of a lot, does it? We don't even know what business he is in, for heaven's sake. He founded a ministry. Big wow. Many have done that. Who is he accountable to? What denominational affiliation does he have? We learn none of that. All we know is that he has basically proclaimed himself an apologist and publishes his own books. Well, I should qualify that a little bit. His book, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History (1996) was formerly published by Banner of Truth Trust. It is no longer. But at least that is a "real" publisher. Give credit where it is due . . . It specializes in the classics of Protestant history. That being the case, it is quite analogous from a Protestant perspective, to my publisher Sophia Institute Press, which specializes in Catholic classics. Thus, Webster has no more credentials than I do in that regard, and arguably even less.

I continued to search in vain for the man's education or credentials of any sort, other than being a "businessman" and self-publisher. I remembered that he had a chapter in a book in my own library, of several different authors, Roman Catholicism (1994; Chicago: Moody Press, edited by John Armstrong). I thought that might say something about his education and background. And alas, my search ended. On p. 11, in the "Contributors" section I learned that Webster obtained a B.A. from Southern Methodist University in who knows what?, and is a "businessman."

He was the least credentialed contributor of all those in the book (13 in all). That made him (at least at that time) no more formally educated than I am myself, with my B.A. in sociology and minor in psychology (Wayne State Univ., Detroit, 1982, cum laude). Elsewhere, I learned that the degree was in history (not theology), that Webster is a pastor, and that he was a graduate of the Evangelical Institute in Greenville, SC.

That's better, but what degree? The website for this school gives little information on degrees available, or whether it is an accredited institution. On a web page for the U.S. Department of Education about accreditation, I couldn't find the school listed under South Carolina. Perhaps I missed something. But it looks like Webster is little more educated than I am.

Webster's and King's three-volume obscurantist sophistry-fest on sola Scriptura was self-published and co-written by a man with no advanced degrees in theology (King has an M. Div. degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS).

Moving on to Eric Svendsen, here is (finally) a man with advanced degrees of some sort, granted. Who are his publishers, though? Upon This Slippery Rock is put out by Calvary Press, of Merrick, New York: not exactly an industry giant. Same thing for Who Is My Mother? Evangelical Answers: published by Reformation Press, which is such an influential force in evangelical publishing that it currently has four books in print (but alas, not including this one). The North American Distributor is Gospel Mission: Box 318, Choteau, MT 59422. This is clearly a thriving operation.

This is the best that a guy with a doctorate can do? He can't even keep a book in print from way back in 1999? What else can Eric come up with, book-wise? Well, there is always Learning to Master Your Bible: A Guide to Plumbing the Depths of God's Word (2001), self-published and spiral-bound, available for the bargain rate of $26.99 (+ $3.99 S&H). We must snap that up right away! There is also the self-published Table of the Lord (1996). Mighty impressive, all that . . .

The Grand Poobah and (Allegedly) Unvanquishable, Unanswerable Conqueror of Romanists, Rt. Rev. Bishop James R. White does a little better. He has a legitimate degree from Fuller Seminary and a highly questionable "doctorate" from an illegitimate storefront diploma mill (his "doctoral dissertation" was on the Trinity: really original, ain't it? I guess White is the world's biggest expert on that now). Who publishes his vaunted, much ballyhooed books?

Admittedly, his beginnings as a published author were quite humble. He was kind enough to send me three of his early books, when we first debated through the mail in 1995: The Fatal Flaw,  Justification by Faith, and Answers to Catholic Claims (all 1990). These were published by Crowne Publications, out of Southbridge, MA (that's how it is spelled on my copies, but in Google search, the title seems to be "Crown"). I couldn't find a thing about this company online. Somethin' tells me (just a hunch) that they ain't doin' too well these days. We all gotta start somewhere. I don't blame White for this. It is only the lies and double standards I object to.

White does have seven listed books with Bethany House Publishers, which is indeed a reputable, respectable (mostly) evangelical publisher, so he can get the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval in this respect of being published by a "real" and influential publisher, whereas King, Svendsen, and Webster surely cannot.

On a humorous note, however, Bethany also publishes all sorts of books by authors whose theology White would detest: folks whom he would say deny the gospel (yet we don't see White protesting and pulling his books in outrage, just as he abruptly ceased participating in Operation Rescue -- an effort I was also part of -- rather than pray with Catholics). For example, the roster of authors includes Catholics (all friends or acquaintances of mine) Scott Hahn (gasp!!!!), Francis J. Beckwith (including the conversion story, Return to Rome), my own editor at Sophia, Stratford Caldecott, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Christopher and Rachel McCluskey, and Joseph Pearce, as well as a host of Protestants he would consider misguided: Arminians, charismatics (e.g., Derek Prince), liberals (e.g., Clark Pinnock), compromisers on various scores, etc.

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