Wednesday, January 05, 2011

My Earliest Catholic Apologetics (1990-1995) and the Original (Much Longer) Version of "A Biblical Defense of Catholicism"

By Dave Armstrong (1-5-11)

I was received into the Catholic Church (and Judy returned to it), on 8 February 1991, by the eminent catechist and author Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J.

[photograph by Tom McGlynn]

I became convinced of Catholicism in October 1990 (see several versions of my conversion story on the Conversion and Converts web page). Having been a Protestant apologist for the previous nine years (and a full-time one in the 1985-1989 period), it was only natural for me to start sharing with friends the reasons for my shocking change of affiliation and belief.

Many of those initial papers (done on a typewriter for a year and a half or so, before I had a computer and five years before I was on the Internet) became chapters of A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. They were not intended to be so at first. As time went on, my Catholic friends started urging me to try to get the collection published as a book. The first draft (a much longer, 750-page version) was done by 1994. I then decided to greatly shorten it and add references to the new Catechism, and this draft (the present book) was completed by May 1996.

I then went through the usual nonsense of rejection by publishers (most of them never even giving me a reason for rejection), and published it on my own in 2001. In 2003 I persuaded Sophia Institute Press to publish it (they have since put out three more of my books). In December 2001 I also became a full-time Catholic apologist and have been in that vocation and profession ever since.

The original title of A Biblical Defense of Catholicism was The Credibility of Catholicism: A Scriptural and Historical Apologetic. I think I also considered Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, but decided that this would be the name for my website instead. At length I decided to edit out much of the historical analysis, and concentrate more on the biblical arguments, and the book became much less "polemical" in terms of critiquing Protestantism (that is more characteristic of my second book, The Catholic Verses). Here is the original outline of chapters:


Introduction: The Unthinkable Inquiry [developed into the present Introduction]

1. Anti-Catholicism: The Curse of "Papists" [online paper; originally 25 January 1991, with three later slight revisions]

2. Sola Scriptura: Is Christian Tradition Irrelevant? [developed into the present Chapter One; 14 September 1992; see "Reflections" portion]

3. Protestantism: Conceptual and Developmental Errors [online paper; originally 20 June 1991, with three later slight revisions]

4. Martin Luther: Beyond Mythology to Historical Fact [was once posted as an online paper, but eventually taken down, as I learned more and more about Luther and honed or revised several of my opinions; portions of it in some form made it into various other later papers; 14 January 1991; revised in Oct. 1993 and January 2000]

5. The Protestant Revolt: Its Tragedy and Initial Impact [online paper: originally 11 June 1991; major revision in 2003; further revision in 2007]

6. Intolerance and Persecution: The "Reformation" Record [online paper; originally 3 June 1991; revisions in 2003 and 2007]


7. The Development of Doctrine: From Acorn to Oak Tree [present Chapter Three; originally 17 February 1991; slightly revised in Jan. 1994; see "Reflections" portion]

8. The Eucharist and Sacrifice of the Mass: "This is My Body" [present Chapters Four and Five; originally 8 March 1992; slightly revised in Feb. 1994: see "Reflections" portions: part one and part two]

9. Sola Fide: Is Luther's Justification Justifiable? [present Chapter Two; 4 April 1994; see "Reflections" portion]

10. Penance, Purgatory, and Indulgences: "Saved As By Fire" [present Chapters Seven and Eight; 21 April 1994; see "Reflections" portion]

11. The Communion of Saints: ". . . All Who Are in Christ" [present Chapter Six; originally 17 February 1991; revised and expanded in Dec. 1993; see "Reflections" portion]

12. The Blessed Virgin Mary: "Hail Mary, Full of Grace" [present Chapter Nine; 10 April 1993, after the first version was completely wiped out on my computer; see "Reflections" portions: part one / part two]

13. The Papacy and Infallibility: "The Keys of the Kingdom" [present Chapter Ten; 16 September 1993; 50 NT Proofs for Peter paper (1994) and available online; see "Reflections" portion]

APPENDIX ONE: My Conversion: Confessions of a 1980s "Jesus Freak" [published in Surprised by Truth in 1994 in similar form (see my original manuscript) and removed from the book: originally 9 December 1990; revised and expanded in 1992 and 1993]

APPENDIX TWO: Catholic Converts: The Many Roads to Rome [excerpts in one online paper (11 February 1991; revised 1993), and also included brief conversion stories of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, and Malcolm Muggeridge: all from 1991 and online]

Here is the outline of the book as it is now (with links to what is available online):

Foreword: Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J.

1. Bible and Tradition: Maintain the Traditions . . .
2. Justification: Faith Apart From Works is Barren
3. Development of Doctrine: He Will Teach You . . .
4. The Eucharist: This is My Body
5. The Sacrifice of the Mass: A Lamb . . . Slain
6. The Communion of Saints: All Who Are In Christ
7. Purgatory: . . . Saved, But Only As Through Fire [most of chapter posted online]
8. Penance: . . . Share Christ's Sufferings (online excerpt: indulgences)
9. The Blessed Virgin Mary: Hail, Full of Grace (online excerpt: perpetual virginity of Mary)
10. The Papacy and Infallibility: Keys of the Kingdom
Appendix 1: The "Perspicuity" (Clearness) of Scripture [19 August 1995]
Appendix 2: The Visible, Hierarchical, Apostolic Church
Appendix 3: The Historical Case for the "Apocrypha"
Appendix 4: The Biblical Basis for Clerical Celibacy
Appendix 5: A Dialogue on Infant Baptism [1995]
Appendix 6: A Dialogue on Liturgy and "Vain Worship" [1995]
Recommended Catholic Apologetic and Historical Works
Index of Scriptures [e-book versions only]
Index of Proper Names [e-book versions only]

The original book was about two-and-a-half times larger than the currently published one, with much more historical documentation and citations from great Catholic apologists. The historical background behind each doctrine was eventually compiled into one huge Internet paper: The Witness of the Church Fathers With Regard to Catholic Distinctives (With Examples of Protestant Corroboration of Catholic Doctrines or Clear Contradiction of Patristic Consensus). Many quotes from others were compiled in various "Reflections on . . ." papers (noted above).

Chronology of Early Apologetic Papers (and Later Book Chapters)

[everything below was completed before I ever went online (March 1996) or began a website (February 1997) ]

"My Conversion: Confessions of a 1980s 'Jesus Freak'" [9 December 1990; published in different versions in This Rock (September 1993) and the book Surprised by Truth (edited by Patrick Madrid] in 1994 (see my original manuscript) ]
"Martin Luther: Beyond Mythology to Historical Fact" [14 January 1991]
"The Communion of Saints: '. . . All Who Are in Christ'" [17 February 1991; book chapter]
"The Development of Doctrine: From Acorn to Oak Tree" [17 February 1991; book chapter]
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman conversion story [1991; published in The Coming Home Newsletter, Nov/Dec 1996, 4-5]
G. K. Chesterton conversion story [1991; published in The Coming Home Newsletter, Sep/Oct 1996, 5-7]
Ronald Knox conversion story [1991; published in The Coming Home Newsletter, Jan/Feb 1997, 9]
Malcolm Muggeridge conversion story [1991; published in The Coming Home Newsletter, March/April 1997, 6-7]
"The Eucharist and Sacrifice of the Mass: 'This is My Body'" [8 March 1992; two book chapters]

"The Orthodox vs. the Heterodox Luther" [July 1992; published as "The Real Martin Luther," The Catholic Answer, Jan/Feb 1993, 32-37]
"Sola Scriptura: Is Christian Tradition Irrelevant?" [14 September 1992; book chapter]
"The Blessed Virgin Mary: 'Hail Mary, Full of Grace'" [10 April 1993; book chapter]
"The Papacy and Infallibility: 'The Keys of the Kingdom'" [16 September 1993; book chapter]

"Sola Fide: Is Luther's Justification Justifiable?" [4 April 1994; book chapter]
"Penance, Purgatory, and Indulgences: 'Saved As By Fire'" [21 April 1994; two book chapters]

"Martin Luther's Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary," [26 April 1994; published in The Coming Home Journal, January-March 1998, 12-13]
"The Ecclesiological Credentials of Orthodoxy and Catholicism" [6 August 1994; later developed into two papers: Catholicism and Orthodoxy: A Comparison and
A Response to Orthodox Critiques of Catholic Apostolicity
, and published in similar form as "To Orthodox Critics of Catholic Apostolicity: Unity Still Sought," The Catholic Answer, Nov/Dec 1997, 32-35, 38-39, 62]

"150 Reasons Why I Left Protestantism," [6 August 1994; revised Sep. 2005]

"Tradition is Not a Dirty Word," [Dec. 1994; published in Hands On Apologetics, Mar/April 1995, 30-32, 34]
"50 New Testament Proofs for Petrine Primacy and the Papacy" [1994; published as "The Pre-Eminence of St. Peter: 50 New Testament Proofs," The Catholic Answer, Jan/Feb 1997, 32-35]
"The Communion of Saints," Hands On Apologetics, July/Aug 1995, 8-11.
"Problems With the Proof Texts for 'The Bible Alone,' " Hands On Apologetics, Nov/Dec 1995, 12-13, 34.


Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

It's wonderful that you came into the Church through Fr. Hardon! He was (and is) my friend, former spiritual director and godfather of my daughter.

God bless!

Dave Armstrong said...

Fabulous! He baptized my first two children. That meant a lot to him because, being a Jesuit and mostly a teacher, rather than a parish priest, he didn't get to do many baptisms.

One day he may be declared a saint, and we had the honor and privilege of knowing him . . .

The Ubiquitous said...

Any chance we could someday see the longer tome?

Dave Armstrong said...

Virtually all of it is online (see the links above). One chapter about Luther was outdated and better research has been done since, on my Luther web page and in my book on him.

Thus, if you read the current book and followed all my links, you would have read just about all of the original, minus only a few parts.