Thursday, September 05, 2013

2013 Fundraising Drive for Dave Armstrong's Apologetics Apostolate



Day One: Wednesday 4 September 2013

Last year I undertook my first overt fundraising drive in nearly eleven years, since I became a full-time Catholic apologist in December 2001. It was successful and met and exceeded the goal within a month. I had hoped and expressed (and truly thought) that it would be a one-time thing, but that was not to be. The economy continues to languish and the royalties from my five Sophia Institute Press books are still 50-60% of what they were just five years ago. Imagine taking a pay cut like that at your job and surviving!

That's what I've had to face in the last three years: through no fault of my own at all. My house is literally worth half of what I still owe on it. If I were buying a house in my neighborhood today, I could buy two for the price of what I still owe. As a direct result of the bad economy, I lost my three-year staff job as moderator of the Coming Home Network Internet forum at the end of 2010. In one fell swoop, that took away a quarter or more of my income. And it was great because I was working out of my home and checks arrived every two weeks (unlike my twice or four-times-a-year royalties).

Since then, I decided to put my full effort into cultivating my biggest and most obvious asset: my books and desire and potential of writing many more books. I also developed my personal Facebook and Twitter pages, and recently, an additional professional "author" Facebook page. Looking forward, it is now clear that I must invest more in advertising (currently I am spending $90 / month on that on Facebook) and making my books known to a much larger audience. It's the same old catch-22: you have to have money to make money. I need money to advertise in order to sell books so that I can have enough income!

I have always needed some donations to be able to succeed and survive financially, doing what I do, but now I need proportionately more, and so am asking for your help. I continue to remain very uncomfortable with the whole solicitation / "begging" process, but at the same time I am not "ashamed" at all of my work and am totally confident that it is worthwhile supporting, as the manifestation of a calling from God that I have followed since way back in 1981, when I was an evangelical Protestant. I knew what God wanted me to do with my life then, and in these past twelve years I've finally been able to fully dedicate myself to it. I think the fruits and results have abundantly confirmed that it is indeed my calling and vocation.

Most Catholic apostolates regularly "beg and plead" (quite vigorously!): and usually more than once a year, and also including personal e-mails or letters in the regular mail. I've done all of three fundraisers in, now 13 years. That's it! From 2002-2011 I did none at all. And I remain dead-set against personal solicitation. You'll never get those sorts of letters from me. That's a promise and an absolute principle I have set for myself. I'm not saying those things are wrong per se; just that I will never do it. Occasionally I have done mass e-mailings, but they simply mention new books of mine, with just one little statement at the end that someone may wish to consider supporting the work. I also send out my famous "cyber Christmas cards" every year: usually with one of my original Christmas poems. No solicitation in those, either . . .

Briefly, I have a very meager income; I manage to pay my bills. We live in a lower middle class-type bungalow (built in 1943) in a lower-level Detroit suburb. We have good credit, and don't use credit cards (very soon the only debt I'll have at all will be my mortgage). We live simply, by principle and design. My wife homeschools, so I am the only breadwinner. We have four children. The cost of living is relatively low in Michigan, compared to the east and west coasts. I'm not rolling in the dough over here; clearly, my motivation for what I do is not riches and material goods. I'm 1000% dedicated to my work. I trust and have faith in God that He will provide, because this is what He would have me do. And He has, remarkably so all these years. He provides through people like you: not (too bad!) by sending dollar bills from the sky like manna.

Those of you familiar with my apostolate know how much work I have done. I've now written 40 books: nine of them "officially" published by five different independent publishers (i.e., not self-publishing outfits like Lulu, where I also have 31 books of my own). This includes my next "official" book, The Quotable Wesley, which will be published by the Protestant publisher Beacon Hill Press, in Spring 2014. That's quite a feat, if I do say so, for a Catholic apologist to have a book about John Wesley  published by a Wesleyan publisher.

My blog, online continuously since February 1997, contains 2495 posts or papers: almost all of them about apologetics or related issues of ethics, culture, history, philosophy, etc. I've also done about 25 radio interviews, and have been published in magazines many times, going back to 1993. My first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, was completed in 1996, and it took seven years for it to be accepted by a publisher (thanks to my good friend and editor -- now at Catholic Answers --, Todd Aglialoro). Now I offer additional material every day and amiable discussion on my Facebook page, which has the limit of 5,000 friends.

The majority of my income is derived from book royalties: my own hard work and the sweat of my brow, but that's not enough to completely support my family. The apologetics market is but a tiny niche in the bookselling arena. If such a book sells 10,000 copies, it is considered a bestseller in apologetics. I've accomplished that five or six times. But if you add up those royalties (often only as low as, say $1.50 per book sold), it's not much money. The publishers continue to get most of it. We authors get our 12-14% of the net profits.

All those papers on my blog and now Facebook pages, are there for free, and have some (if I do say so) educational value. Someone may say, "now there goes that lazy fool Armstrong begging again; why can't he get a real job?" You'd be amazed how often I have to hear this sort of thing. In fact, just last night it virtually happened again on my Facebook page.  Of course, there are many false assumptions behind these kinds of criticisms. It's not like I'm a vagabond on the street who does nothing all day and who has no relation at all to those I am attempting to solicit funds from. Many if not most of the people following me on Facebook or reading my blog have been aware of my work, and have used it for years: sometimes many many years.

Therefore, it's a scenario of having made use of a service or a product, yet oftentimes without any thought of remunerating the person who took thousands of hours of his time (for 16 years) to write and publish all these educational theological papers on the Internet. I receive many glowing letters (I've collected many of them on one page), telling me how my writing primarily helped someone decide to become a Catholic, or return to the Church, or to undergo a big "revival" in their Catholic life. They thank me, and it's always very heartening, humbling, and rewarding to hear. All glory to God: it all comes from Him.

What is remarkable and puzzling to me, however, is how often those writing these gracious "thank you" letters don't make a connection in their minds that maybe they should consider financially supporting my work, that has helped them so much. It's worthy of that support. The Bible says that the "laborer is worthy of his wages," and St. Paul discusses that specifically in the context of Christian workers (evangelists). He himself also made tents on the side, but nevertheless he also taught that such workers were entitled to wages, and that he voluntarily went above and beyond his duty and chose to renounce some of that in order to present the gospel for free.

Well, in effect, I have done that, with all my free papers, and part-time supplemental "tentmaking" jobs through the years, such as selling used books, (early 2000s) a large urban paper route (2004-2005), and moderation at Coming Home (2007-2010). Yet I am entitled to wages for what I write, as well: particularly from those who have benefited from them. Moreover, even if someone hasn't personally been helped by my writing, they may recognize that it has educational and apologetic and evangelistic value, and so support it, just as any other mission is supported financially. That's what I'm asking you today: to please consider that.

There is a very unfortunate strain of thinking that apologetics is not "real work" or that it should only be done by priests and bishops (wrong! Lay apologetics and outreach in the Church has a long and honorable history, going back to the Church fathers). I wrote a paper about this a few days ago. It's also wrongly thought that the lay apologist (usually married with children) should make wages similar to that of a priest. But the priest has taken a vow of poverty, and has no family to support. He's following what is called "the evangelical counsels," which is a heroic, non-normative calling. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Karl Keating happened upon my Facebook page last night and made a very astute (and to me, quite humorous) observation along these lines:


Years ago I spoke at a parish in Maryland. I guess in the Q&A session someone asked how Catholic Answers was organized, and I mentioned in my answer that our staff members were paid (too modestly in those years). Afterwards the pastor came up to me, surprised that we paid our people at all. He expected everyone to be a volunteer, even those with families to feed. He said he got by quite well on his salary of $600 monthly. I guess he neglected to think that the diocese provided him free lodging, free food, free housekeeping, a free car, free health care, free retirement, free utilities, and so on.

That hits the nail on the head. In case anyone didn't notice, I'm not a priest. I'm a guy like most of you who is married with four children, who works very hard and earns every penny of a relatively tiny income (by American standards) that I manage to generate through this work. I have bills to pay and financial worries just as all of you do.

That's what I wanted to say today in my first installment. In the first comment I'll link to my Literary Resume, so you can check out exactly what work I've been doing in my apostolate (complete with links, excerpts, etc.), in over twenty years of published Catholic apologetics.

In the days to come (devoted mostly to this pledge drive until it is accomplished), I'll be sharing about the wide range of topics I cover in my work, my books, my blog, and the letters that I receive, which is the indication of the fruitfulness of this work. I'll tell you about some exciting upcoming projects that I have planned. I'll share my heart and my struggles with you, with my usual transparency and openness and straight talk. I say what I mean and mean what I say.

Above all, if you have gained something yourself from my writing, please strongly consider supporting it. If you think it is worthwhile in order to help others and to help "harvest" lost souls and nominal, uncommitted, miseducated Catholics out in the world, perhaps you would like to be a real part of that effort and outreach mission by contributing. You can help this effort quite a bit in other ways, too, besides your generous donations:

1) Prayer.

2) Writing endorsements and recommendations or "testimonies" about my work or books, what kind of person you've found me to be, etc. (on my page and/or on your own)  as this drive proceeds.

3) Sharing these fundraising posts on your pages in order to "spread the word."

4) Hitting the "like" button on my Facebook author page (if you really do like it!).

5) Purchasing my books and telling others about them; linking to my various book pages or main book site, etc.

Donations are 100% tax-deductible (through my good friend John Martignoni's Bible Christian Society), and you are able to donate through PayPal and with a credit card if you like. If you don't need the tax deduction, you can send funds immediately through PayPal. It's very simple. Here are the  instructions for how to go about all that.


During this pledge drive, the following "thank you gifts" will be in effect:

1) For every $25 worth of donations, I'll send you one e-Pub book of your choice, which is a $6.99 value (if you can't read ePubs, you need to let me know, and I can send a PDF instead). NOTE: This excludes my "officially" published books from Sophia and others; it applies to my 31 Lulu books only.

2) For a very generous donation of $500 or more, I'll send you three paperback books. These can be selected from all of my books: all 40. Just send me your home address and I'll get them out to you as soon as I can.

The total goal is $7500. The faster it's met, the sooner I can devote full energy to my writing again, and bring you more of the apologetics that I have been producing on a continuous basis since 1993. My motivation is as high as ever, and I have no plans of ever retiring. From me you get total "lifetime" commitment and passion for the work that I do. I'm at your service.

First things first: I gotta pay my bills. Please prayerfully consider a donation or one or more of the other things above that are helpful as well. Thank you so much and God bless you! I love all of you and always appreciate my readers from the bottom of my heart.

Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/dave.armstrong.798/posts/643956908972631

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Day Two: 5 September 2013. "You shall know the tree by its fruits." $150 out of $7500 raised (2%)

I've collected, going all the way back to 1997, many letters I've received, both from Catholics and non-Catholics about my work. This is an indication of its fruitfulness: thanks always and entirely to the grace of God alone. If something is in God's will, it'll be fruitful. In my case, that will be shown in lives being changed and transformed by the gospel and the message of the fullness of truth found in the one true Catholic Church.

I've received countless letters of this sort, and based on this first-hand report of unsolicited correspondence, it's confirmed that there have been multiple hundreds of conversions to the faith, reversion back to the faith (cradle Catholics who fell away and came back), and an increased zeal and understanding / renewal of personal faith, that the persons concerned attribute primarily or largely (on a human level) to my writing. That's the fruit; that's what it's all about, and why I do what I do: to literally help create more Catholics, and more vibrant, faithful, obedient, joyful, properly educated Catholics. These letters are a major reason why you should support this work. If you want more of this sort of thing, then my apostolate is one that you can support, to help bring it about.

This was noted early on, before I ever had a published book (though I had some published articles and my conversion story was in Surprised by Truth). Marcus Grodi (host of The Journey Home) wrote, way back on 2 May 1997:

"You utterly amaze me! Such good stuff . . . Dave, keep up your effective and eternally valuable apologetic journalism!"

I'll be sharing as we go along, what many well-known Catholics have said about my work. It's humbling and a great honor. Today, however, I'd like to share the letters that I've received, or public comments made (completely unsolicited), just in the last few months, up until yesterday. I had stopped recording them in October 2008, but started up again in June 2013. I'll keep folks anonymous. Some were in private PMs, but I don't think folks will mind an anonymous citation.

*****

. . . I recommended one of Dave Armstrong's books, saying that his blog was instrumental in bringing me into the Church. Facebook, 6-9-13


As always, you prefer to find common ground, the things where Christians agree as much as you can, while acknowledging that there are differences and not shying away from those differences. That is is why several years of talking with you, reading your posts on your blog and forum, and your conduct was a factor in my crossing the Tiber. Former Anglican, Facebook, 6-12-13

Back in the late 90's I used to stay up 1/2 the night reading through his website...I learned so much about my faith. His website was my first introduction to apologetics. Anonymous Catholic, Facebook,  6-15-13

I've found your work absolutely incredible. Specifically your method of using Protestant sources, commentaries and historians to prove the truth of the Catholic view and interpretation.  The reason your articles and essays are so incredibly useful is because you have synthesized all the available data and information into a very ordered and succinct form. In other words you have done all the intense work and to study an issue I just need to read your essay and you have brilliantly provided all the data, summarized the evidence and explained the Catholic truth. Personal letter, 6-16-13

Dave, I love your books and the gift of wisdom God gave you. I always refer to them in need of a good answer. Facebook, 6-16-13

I will be received into the Catholic Church on June 29. Your blog, your posts here [Facebook], have helped me find my way. Thanks. Former Methodist pastor, personal letter, 6-16-13

Your writings helped bring me home. Facebook, 6-27-13

You, Patrick Madrid and Dr. Hahn are my three "go to" Catholic apologists. I know I might get some nonsense mixed in with the truth from other folks, but not the case from you three gentlemen. You are always orthodox and charitable. Thank you for your great work and may God bless you. Facebook, 6-30-13 

A National Catholic Register article about your conversion inspired me to send you a long overdue thank you for your apologetics apostolate. As a high school agnostic searching for the truth, your website was decisive in my decision to be baptized, confirmed and receive first Holy Communion the Easter Vigil of 2003. Ten years later, I have gained a degree from Christendom College, worked for LifeSiteNews.com, become a professed religious with the Legion of Christ and am currently studying in Rome for the priesthood. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for an apostolate that truly changed my life. Please let me know if you ever find yourself in the Eternal City, so that I might thank you in person. Letter of 7-2-13

Back when it was just a website, Dave's work was instrumental in my conversion. Facebook, 7-4-13 

Mr. Armstrong's work was instrumental in keeping me Catholic back in 1997 when I had a "crisis of faith". Facebook, 7-9-13 

Dave, I have almost all your books on my Kindle.  Thank you for all your hard work. Your website is invaluable. It's one of my first destinations every day. Facebook, 7-11-13 

Thank you for defending our Church and for enlightening us in the teachings of the Catholic Church. You truly inspired a lot of Filipino apologists here in the Philippines. Facebook message, 7-30-13

Thanks for all the wonderful work you do here on Facebook. You have helped me grow and understand my faith so much better.  Facebook message, 7-30-13

Thank you for all that you do every day for our Church. You are an inspiration. Facebook message, 7-30-13

I meant to mention how much good your Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths has done me. Gave me some much-needed encouragement and support in talking to non-Catholics/fallen-away Catholics/atheists. Thank you for your work! Facebook, 8-2-13


A Biblical Defense of Catholicism is one of the best books I have the privilege to own and I have bought many copies that I gave away to family and friends. It kind of started me on my journey to becoming a "learned" Catholic. Before that I was just happy to be a cradle Catholic who had no clue when it came to defending my faith. Thank You Dave. You have participated in changing my life, the lives of my relatives and friends. May God continue to inspire you and May He bless you always! 8-6-13

Thanks for being such a great Catholic apologist. It was largely due to your articles that I was saved from the sedevacantism dead end. God bless you for all you do for Catholics everywhere.
Facebook, 8-25-13

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Dave Armstrong is the hardest working Catholic apologist I know and barely scrapes by, . . . supporting his wife and many children. Seriously, he is an inspiration to me. Many excellent Catholic publishers have published his books (including Catholic Answers), but as I can attest, book royalties do not pay very much!

Facebook, 8-30-13 

Dave has done lots of work that other apologists haven't: see his work Pillars of Sola Scriptura for just one example. But his whole style of providing wonderful popular level reference material is a niche that wouldn't be filled if he didn't take the time to do so. His work is valuable and should be respected . . . [his] work is much appreciated. Facebook, 9-4-13

Dave Armstrong is a big help to me in my journey of discovery and understanding of my Catholic faith; hence, I would like him to stay as an apologist, whether full-time or part-time, that is his call. But to me, he is a big help and the Church is blessed to have him. Facebook, 9-4-13

Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/dave.armstrong.798/posts/644410425593946

***

Karl Keating, the "father of modern Catholic apologetics" and founder of Catholic Answers: the largest and most influential Catholic apologetics organization, very thoughtfully started a  fundraising drive in his Facebook page on my behalf, on 5 September 2013.

* * * * *

Day Three: 6 September 2013: "Self-Defense of the Defender of the Faith": $1,466 raised out of $7,500 (20%)

Comment about my blog:

My blog, preceded by a website, has been online continuously for 16 1/2 years. It has 2,495 papers, total, at present.

Some people don't think that is worthy to be financially supported?  I'd ask them to count to 2,495 one night before they go to bed, and ponder that I have written a paper (several quite long and involved for every number they name off. If you said one number every second, it would take 41-and-a-half minutes to get to 2,495.

That's how many papers I offer for free, and my books (the ones I publish) are as low-priced as I can possibly make them. So this post is dedicated to you critics of mine out there who think I do no work, or at least none worthy of solicitation of funds, for those who want to take part in apologetics outreach and evangelism


***

From a discussion on Karl Keating's page about the "new model" of bookselling (print-on-demand and digital) and the old "conventional" model. This person was arguing that I need to do the new model more. I responded that it was Obama, not the "old model" which is causing me difficulty.

***

"the old school business model itself is obviously unable to allow Mr. Armstrong to feed his family."

This is untrue. I have fed my family (of six) just fine all along. As I stated in the first post of my fundraising drive, we pay all our bills, have good credit, don't even use credit cards. We take a nice vacation every year, which includes four western trips (from Michigan), from 2006-2011. Granted, we camp, take our own food, etc., but we still do it, and it costs some money.

I also noted how I've only had to overtly solicit donations three times in almost twelve years. That's amazing enough, seeing that virtually every Catholic apostolate raises funds regularly, and considering that I am not on TV, rarely on radio, and don't do talks.

The "old model" was serving me just fine; i.e., until Obama and his brain-dead economics came around. That cost me my part-time job at Coming Home Network (which had already been cut in half a year or so earlier). That reduced my royalty rates from Sophia (five books now) by 40-50%. I used to be able to live for several months when those came in. Now I can't. It made the value of my house go down to half of what it was when we bought it. It's not the "old model" of bookselling that is the problem; it's the old model of socialist economics.

Low royalty rates are not the problem (though I'm not nuts about them, either); it is reduced sales in a tiny market because of the economy. I was getting by great in the tiny market, mostly by the "old school" -- till all this happened. I was, however, also selling e-books on my own and making about $500 or so on an average month. But I had to sell them dirt cheap: 10-for-$25 and so forth.

I got into the new ePub thing a few years ago, and started cranking out more books at Lulu, which IS print-on-demand, with a higher royalty rate. I get $5-6 per paperback if someone buys books at Lulu. I get a great percentage of e-books (I think it's 70%). I have all those books available as PDFs for $2.99, ePubs for $6.99, and also $6.99 for Amazon Kindle, Nook Book, and iTunes books. So I've done plenty of the "new model" -- perhaps as much as any apologetics author has. All my 40 books but one (New Catholic Answer Bible) are digitalized.

But this hasn't brought me back to where I was five years ago, and it is (besides the funky economy) because of what Karl [Keating] has said: A-D-V-E-R-T-I-S-I-N-G and marketing. I can't do that with my Lulu books because I haven't had extra money to do so. My mistake was thinking that volumes of books and e-books would be the answer to regain what was lost. It hasn't been. I've done both as much as anyone can in the last three years.

The most money I have received from any of my books is from my pamphlet with OSV. I continue to receive almost $2,000 a year from that thing (that probably took me two hours, max, to write), and it came out in 2002. Of course, the "New Catholic Answer Bible" is my bestselling book of all and I receive no royalties at all for it. I probably would have made $25,000-30,000 or more by now if it had been a royalty contract. I would have been rich if I had received a *dime* for every sale of "Surprised by Truth," but I did my story for free. Name exposure, anyway . . .

It also should be said that it helps tremendously for a book to be listed in major "external" catalogues. I have several of mine listed at Catholic Answers and EWTN and other "big" places. That has to help. So my Sophia books from 2003-2004 are still selling well, in their tiny market.


***


Discussion about my credentials:

David L. Alexander (in blue, henceforth): Do these [2,495 blog papers] all have imprimaturs?

Me: The Church doesn't do Imprimaturs for Internet articles. I have three, I think, for my books. And I have Fr. Hardon's Foreword for my first book, which is better than any Imprimatur . . . I'm looking through all my old G. K. Chesterton books and I only found one out of ten that had an Imprimatur. Is that a barrier for you, David?

You are correct, but the fact remains that I have no way of knowing that an internet article is free of moral or doctrinal error.

You know by deduction, from my credentials (on many scores). See my Literary Resume.

The fact remains that I have never been corrected by a priest, bishop, or even a theologian, in twenty years of published materials and Internet writings and books. The person who actually went through my book that got an Imprimatur from my own bishop (a theologian at our seminary in Detroit), said he didn't have to change a single word.

Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J. was one of the most highly respected catechists: he advised Pope Paul VI and was a catechist for Mother Teresa. He cause is now being considered.

So, sure, you can question my writings, and I'm not infallible, but it doesn't follow that I'm now immediately suspect and that people shouldn't read or support my work. I'm orthodox. No one has ever found otherwise, yet.


And how is any priest's foreword "better" than any imprimatur? Would Father Hardon agree with you that it is an appropriate substitute? If so, I don't believe you. If not, then it's not necessarily "better," although it may be a sign of high praise (which is not the same thing).

Absolutely, because Imprimaturs, unfortunately, have often been abused. Most apologetics books today don't have them. Have you read any of my writing, David?

As to your writings, I've given some of them a cursory glance. I must confess that I have relied on sources other than yourself for many years now (which should be okay, since I did not challenge the theological content of your writing).

All the great heretics had "credentials." The use of a "censor deputatus" resulting in an "imprimatur" remains a normative means of the Church for examining the theological content of writings, however much the process has been abused (and yes, I remember Archbishop Gerrity being instructed to remove his from a book once).

And many great heterodox dissidents in the last 50 years have Imprimaturs. If you want to take this view, then be consistent and question G. K. Chesterton as well. His books hardly ever have Imprimaturs, and he's only the most renowned Catholic apologist of the 20th century. He didn't have any college degree at all, either, let alone formal theological training.

Father Hardon would have agreed with the system being abused, but I cannot imagine him assuming his foreword was a substitute for anything.  

I didn't, technically, say it was a "substitute"; I said it was "better." There is a logical difference. I'll take his Foreword and calling my writings as a whole "very Catholic" (and that was in the mid-90s) over an Imprimatur any day. That's not to knock Imprimaturs. It is what it is: a preference.

***
Reply to a lady who blasted me up and down for raising money for my apostolate:

Obviously, if I were doing so terribly all these years, and was so negligent, it's funny how I did no fundraisers at all from 2002-2011, and was paying all my bills, including a mortgage (as I noted in my first fundraising post).

My children have done infinitely more fun things than I ever got to do as a child, and they live in a much nicer neighborhood, too. I grew up in southwest Detroit in a house built in 1916, and my dad was a white collar worker at Ford Motor Co. (typical Detroiter). My parents actually never bought a house. They rented cheaply from my mother's parents and then inherited a house, because my mother was an only child (where she still lives, four miles from us). So even that was something I did that my parents never did, and I have four children to their three. Technically, then, I'm "upwardly mobile" compared to my parents, up to the time when they inherited a house.

* * * * *

Day Four: 9 September 2013: "My Blog, Part I": $1,866 raised out of $7,500 (25%)

As I have noted already, my blog (that was begun as a website in 1997) currently has 2,495 posts: almost all having something to do with apologetics or related issues. I think many people are not aware of how wide-ranging or "all-encompassing" my blog is (and that's part of why I think this work is worthy of your financial support). I have over 50 "topical index pages": which are listings of writings on any given topic.

My website was recognized as having some degree of influence in the apologetics world, way back in 1999 (when it was just two years old). Here was the letter I received from Matt Pinto when my site won the "website of the year" award for 1998:

On behalf of Editor Patrick Madrid and the staff of Envoy Magazine, I am very happy to tell you that Biblical Evidence for Catholicism was chosen as the winner of the "Website of the Year" [1998] category and that you were nominated for the "Best New Evangelist" category in the second annual Envoy Awards for Excellence in Evangelization. The other nominees for the "Website of the Year" were Catholic Online, Catholicity and New Advent.

. . . we see the importance of recognizing and encouraging those who are truly effective in their efforts to proclaim the Catholic Faith. Nominees are selected and voted upon by the staff and several of our advisors.
 
Thank you, Dave, for the tremendous good you and the Biblical Evidence for Catholicism website have done and are doing for Christ and His Church. All of us at Envoy Magazine love you and support you in our prayers and the work of our apostolate. Please remember us in your prayers.

All the best in Christ,
Matthew Pinto
President (dated 16 March 1999)

Today I'd like to highlight the heart and soul of my blog: the Catholic Apologetics section. One gets to it by clicking those words at the top of my blog. That brings the reader to a "card catalogue"-like page that presents 24 separate topical index pages. Several of these are, as far as I know, the most extensive pages of their sort (from a Catholic perspective) to be found anywhere on the Internet. I noted in a previous post the extensiveness of the Bible and Tradition page, by listing all of its contents.

"The Church (Ecclesiology)" is also a very comprehensive page, with eight subsections. I have a web page on "Conversion and Converts". The "Development of Doctrine" web page is almost certainly unique. I've never seen another page like it, period, let alone one as extensive. This is my favorite topic in theology and played a key role in my conversion, so it is very important to me. Not many people seem to care about it, but it's still an important area to consider, nonetheless.

"Eucharist and Sacrifice of the Mass" is another major page, with several subsections. Here I also delve into liturgical questions. "Fathers of the Church" is another quite comprehensive page. I've now edited three books on that topic: mostly collections of the fathers, divided up into topics so it can be better accessed. "Mary, the Blessed Virgin" collects my many papers on that topic (one of my very favorite ones, also), as do the web pages on the Papacy, Saints, Purgatory, and Penance, and Salvation and Justification.

Then we come to my controversial web page, "Radical Catholic Reactionaries vs.  Catholic Traditionalism". Often, when there is controversy on this, it is due to my position being misunderstood in the first place. Well, this page allows the reader to learn what my views are, and to make up their mind as to where they stand.

Lastly, there is the "Trinitarianism and Christology" page, which is an area where we have substantial agreement with our Protestant separated brethren. Some of my earliest projects in apologetics as an evangelical in the early 80s had to do with this area. Much of that early research is now preserved (revised to various degrees) in my books, Mere Christian Apologetics and Theology of God.

These are some of the reasons to support this work. All these papers are out there for you. They don't cost a dime (as long as one has computer access). All of this work took tons of time to produce. They weren't written "to make money," yet they are worthy of some financial support if a person uses them (oftentimes for years, as I hear). Indicative of hundreds of letters I receive, were two from priests in the last few days:

"Thank you for all you do in the world of apologetics. I first encountered your website when I was in college in the late 90's, I referred to it all through seminary, and I've used your books and articles during these 8 years of my priesthood."

"Just a note to say thank you for all you do. I hope I can give more in the future, to help support you. Along with my two parishes, I am the Catholic chaplain at the local university, where so many students are searching and questioning. I refer to your sincere and excellent work, again and again. Thank you, good sir!"

Both priests made a generous donation. There are many others of you out there who have used my writings to learn some points of Catholic theology, or how to defend same (the rationales for them) or in apologetics outreach efforts. You can now support this apostolate and keep it going. The opportunity is yours. In this way you can directly participate in the work, by literally helping to make it possible. "The harvest is ready, but the laborers are few."

Thanks, as always, to all my readers. All glory to God!

Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/dave.armstrong.798/posts/646892252012430

*****

Day Five: 10 September 2013: "My 'Officially Published' Books, Part I": $2,901 raised out of $7,500 (39%)

Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all who have financially contributed or helped this fundraising drive in any way (prayers, sharing posts, buying or advertising some of my books etc.). Things are going very well. After only four days of this endeavor (took the weekend off), 39% of the total is already raised. Over $1000 came in yesterday alone. I'm in very good spirits about all of it, and thankful for my friends and readers. It's also notable that many of the donations are from first-time contributors.

This tells me that my work is still perceived as fresh and new, so that it is drawing more people in; it's not being supported by just a few folks. In fact, according to my records, I have 788 individuals listed, who have contributed to this apostolate since 2001. Of those, 83 have contributed two times, and 78, three times or more. My main difficulty has been achieving monthly supporters. I don't seem to be able to do that, and more or less gave up on it some time ago. But I have several "semi-regular" contributors, who give larger amounts every once in a while. And -- thank the Lord -- these fundraisers have been very successful and encouraging.

Today I'd like to talk about three of my better-known books: all published by Sophia Institute Press, which has five of my volumes in its catalogue. I'll give a synopsis of all of them.

1) A Biblical Defense of Catholicism: probably my single most-known book, was completed in May 1996 (with portions being written as far back as early 1991), published in October 2001 by AuthorHouse (formerly 1stBooks Library), and in June 2003 by Sophia Institute Press. More info. + purchase: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/07/books-by-dave-armstrong-biblical.html

This is my book that was not originally intended to be a book at all. It came about as a result of my entering the Catholic Church. I was convinced to do so by October 1990 and was received on 8 February 1991 by Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J. (who wrote the Foreword for this book). Right after conversion, I set upon  collecting and writing about all the information I could find, regarding why Catholic doctrines are true. This was only natural, since I had been a Protestant apologist, and Protestants always want to see what the Bible has to say about any given doctrine. I was very curious, myself, and wanted to be able to effectively share this knowledge I was discovering, with others.

Thus began my "Bible and Catholicism" emphasis that has been a trademark and emphasis of my apologetics ever since: even though, ironically, these considerations had little or nothing to do with my conversion, which had to do with the contraception  issue, development of doctrine (historical analysis), and studying the 16th century conflicts from both sides. Once I started doing this research, I discovered how profoundly "biblical" Catholicism really was, and it has strengthened my faith more and more (never less!) ever since.

I would write a big "paper" every few months (originally on a typewriter!). These later became chapters. The original book was conceived as about 750 pages long, with much more material. I have posts on my site that describe my initial "vision" for it. The title was intended as a variant of Protestant apologist Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict. So then I came up with "Biblical Evidence . . ." It sort of turns the tables on Protestants, who often think they own the Bible and that Catholics know little or nothing about it.

Eventually, friends of mine started encouraging me to consider compiling these articles into a book and to try to get it published. After I had articles published in Catholic magazines from 1993 onward (Fr. Peter Stravinskas gave me my first break), and had my conversion story in Surprised by Truth in 1994, this became a plausible possibility. But like most authors, I had to suffer and wait, like Jacob, for seven years, before Todd Aglialoro at Sophia put me out of my misery. For authors, there is nothing like getting that first book published. It becomes much easier after that, though it is never easy per se to get any book published. I now have nine "official" ones, by the grace of God.

2) The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants (August 2004). More info. + purchase: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/07/books-by-dave-armstrong-catholic_31.html

This was my third "official" publication in as many years (The Catholic Answer Bible being the third), and the first of several, working with editor Todd Aglialoro: whose initial idea it was. The purpose and structure of this book (one of the most unique of all my books) has been widely misunderstood, including by the prominent anti-Catholic James White, who futilely tried to offer a multi-part "rebuttal" [choke]. It's not simply a presentation of Catholic prooftexts (my Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths is that). Rather, the idea is the following (from the Introduction):

. . . a critique of common Protestant attempts to ignore, explain away, rationalize, wish away, overpolemicize, minimize, de-emphasize, evade clear consequences of, or special plead with regard to 'the Catholic Verses': ninety-five biblical passages that provide the foundation for Catholicism’s most distinctive doctrines. . . .

I will assert . . . the ultimate incoherence, inadequacy, inconsistency, or exegetical and theological implausibility of the Protestant interpretations, and will submit the Catholic views as exegetically and logically superior alternatives.

The structure ensures that the volume is relatively more "polemical" than other works of mine, but polemics is not a bad thing, if done right, and often in apologetics it is absolutely necessary. One must sometimes throw some "counter-punches," so to speak. I document and "argue with" inadequate Protestant responses to our prooftexts and show how even some of the best Protestant exegetes start to play games and special plead when they have no cogent alternative explanation. 

The two verses that were the most fun to deal with were the ones about "baptism for the dead" (what I called "the most 'un-Protestant' verse in the Bible") and Paul's prayer for the dead man Onesiphorus. Protestant explanations for those passages might be described (with charity) as "high comedy." In any event, it makes for some entertaining reading to watch what they try to do with them. Apologetics is often a lot of fun!

3) The One-Minute Apologist (May 2007). Hats off again to Todd Aglialoro, my editor for this book. The initial idea of the formatting and concept was his. More info. & purchase: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/07/books-by-dave-armstrong-one-minute.html
This was one of the most difficult books for me to write because the format was a challenge. But (like physical exercise) it was a "good" kind of pain, and had a positive result. The idea was to provide fast answers to charges that we Catholics typically hear from our Protestant friends. Each topic gets two pages devoted to it, in a standardized format that is vaguely reminiscent of St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica.

The title of each section is given from a negative, "polemical" slant: how folks object to some Catholic teaching or practice; e.g., "The Catholic Church Added Illegitimate Books to the Bible." Then a little bit longer summary statement of the objection is provided below the title. After that, "the one-minute apologist" (yours truly!) gives a summary counter-statement, followed by 3-5 paragraphs or so of the Catholic argument on the point.

Then there is another section, called: "A Protestant Might Further Object," followed by my second defense or counter-argument. Each two-page section ends with a relevant quotation from a notable Catholic or Protestant writer.

I usually provide several scriptural references, with additional ones footnoted. 
It's designed for quick but meaty, effective apologetic answers to many of the common questions that come our way. I think it works!
The book is still selling well after 6 1/2 years. I think it is because the Summa-like format was a great idea (it came from my editor), and because the book fills a need for accessible, practical aids to sharing the faith. My friend, Patrick McNally, wrote very kindly abut it:
This is one of the most easily-understandable, easy to retain, powerfully and concisely written books in my entire apologetics library. If you do not have this book yet...get it...ASAP. If you disagree with me, I'll buy it back from you. This is one of the two best books Dave has written and it is one of the three or four best apologetics books in print. Period!

Thanks, Patrick. Your check's in the mail! Not! It was an unsolicited comment on my Facebook page. The other funny thing about this book is my reputation (especially among severe critics of mine) of being fantastically verbose. Sometimes that's true; even lots of times. Yet, I can also be "economical" if I have to: as evidenced not only by this book (two pages per topic), but also by 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura [2012] (average of 1.34 pages per topic) and The New Catholic Answer Bible (one page on each topic). The latter is my bestselling book.


I can be quite wordy, for sure, but I've also learned over time to write tighter, more compact stuff as well. Something for everyone, is how I see it . . . If folks want depth, I offer that; if they want summaries, brevity, and concision, I offer that, too. Like St. Paul said, "I have become all things to all men, that I may by any means save some of them." I've tried to live by that maxim for 32 years, in my apologetics.

As a note of trivia, my conversion story in Surprised by Truth is also the shortest one of the eleven there (way shorter than several others). This is because I stuck with Pat Madrid's recommended total words. Apparently, no one else did. :-) I have now put out a 75-page "comprehensive" version of my conversion story in my recent book, Catholic Converts and Conversion. 
Please prayerfully consider a financial donation for this apostolate, if you like what you read above, or if you have utilized my 2,495 blog posts or any of my 40 books. I can't survive on book royalties alone, especially in this lousy economy. I've always needed your help to keep afloat, even though I rarely talk about it, because of how much I personally dislike solicitation.

But there is no shame in raising much-needed funds, if it is a good cause, and in accordance with the directives of the Church. I think my work is worth supporting, because I'm following my calling from God; therefore, making it a part of His work (St. Paul wrote about how we are "co-laborers" with the Lord). I hope you think it is a "good cause" too, and will express that opinion through a generous contribution today (info. on that below). Thanks for reading. 
Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/dave.armstrong.798/posts/647585391943116
*****
Day Six: 11 September 2013: "Recommendations of My Work from Fellow Apologists and Well-Known Catholics": $3,336 raised out of $7,500 (44%)
"Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26, RSV)

Ah, but this is referring to those in the world, or the stubborn or hardhearted unbelievers; the sort that rejected the prophets. A Catholic apologist, if he or she is doing the proper work that is entailed by the vocation, ought to be spoken well of by fellow apologists and other workers in the Church. And the more recommendations that occur, the better, in terms of the "credentials" or reliability of an apologist as a trusted source of information. It works much like recommendations on the back covers of books. I'm honored and humbled by all these unsolicited comments.

[citation of 17 such recommendations or examples of praise from my blog sidebar and Resume page]

Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/dave.armstrong.798/posts/648191425215846

*****

Day Seven: 13 September 2013: "My 'Officially Published' Books, Part II": $3,436 raised out of $7,500 (46%)

The fundraiser is stalled a bit; just $100 has come in since my last installment. We still have more than half of the way to go, to the $7500 goal.  Today I'd like to continue highlighting three more of my better-known books:

1) Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths (August 2009): More info. + purchase: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2009/03/books-by-dave-armstrong-biblical.html
The book contains 2,051 Bible passages presented in their entirety: KJV with RSV alternate versions added where necessary to clarify meaning; all in support of Catholic doctrines. You may have heard of Nave's Topical Bible (a work I have loved for years). That work collects Bible passages according to fifteen broad topics and 115 sub-topics, in 444 pages. This volume is Dave's Topical Bible. It does the same thing, except that here the larger goal or subject is "biblical support for Catholic distinctives." From the Introduction:
I have, of course, selected the passages and classified them. Insofar as I did that, I was engaging in “systematic theology.” Human input (something beyond God’s own words) is necessary as soon as one goes beyond simply placing a Bible on a table in front of someone and saying, “read all of this: it completely supports what Catholics teach.” In all reasonable argumentation whatever, selective presentation takes place, and in systematic theology, it is necessary to locate the relevant biblical texts and to collect them for the purpose of illustrating that “the Bible teaches thus and so about this particular topic.” And that involves judgment, which in turn includes a bias.

In that sense, this book is not just the Bible. My input and editing and orthodox Catholic presuppositions are present. But the central, essential focus is “just the Bible.” Holy, Sacred Scripture is thoroughly “Catholic,” as I hope to demonstrate in great detail. Praise God for His wonderful, materially sufficient revelation and His aid in helping us to understand and live by it.

The book is a reference volume, as opposed to a book that one sits down and reads. I like the subtitle that the publisher came up with: A Source Book for Apologists and Inquirers. For further ease of access to all the scriptural information, it's also available as a Nook Book ($14.95) and Kindle or Sophia e-book ($9.95).

2) The Quotable Newman (2012): Original manuscript completed on 19 August 2011. Accepted for publication by Sophia Institute Press on 28 September 2011 and published on 12 October 2012. Foreword by noted Catholic biographer, Joseph Pearce. For more info. and purchase, see the book-info. page: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2011/02/introduction-to-my-upcoming-book.html


It was entirely my own work in every respect: original conception, selection, original editing (of each quotation); editing down to 415 pages and 123 topics. Sophia Institute Press recognizes that I can also function as an editor, in addition to being a writer -- so did two other publishers, that put out (or will put out) my quotations books of G. K. Chesterton and John Wesley. This book, too, is available as a Nook Book ($14.95) and Kindle or Sophia e-book ($9.95).
Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman was the single most important theological and intellectual influence in my own conversion, and in lasting impact and effect on my own apologetics method as well (my love of the topic of development of doctrine [my favorite area of theology], and of analogical arguments are two indications of that). That's one reason why I did this book: out of a large debt of gratitude and the desire to share his magnificent wisdom and insight with as many people as I could. I am more "proud" of this book than any other in my own corpus. Editing is every bit as fulfilling as writing, when you are collecting the thoughts of one of the greatest men in the history of the Church.

He will eventually be a saint, and I strongly believe that he will also be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church one day. I hope to see both declarations in my lifetime, and if it is financially possible (always a big "if" in my case!), will be there when it happens (and hope that both declarations are made at the same time).

If I make it to heaven, I think the order of people I will try to "talk with" (if that sort of thing happens there) is: our Lord Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Paul, and Cardinal Newman.

Recently, I published The Quotable Newman, Vol. II, which contained a lot of material originally intended to be part of a large single volume, as well as additional writings collected from various volumes (of 32) of his Letters and Diaries. It contains 136 additional topics, and repeats 39 topics from the first volume.
3) 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura (2012). Completed on 4 November 2011. Published on 10 May 2012 by Catholic Answers: 135 pages long, with a low list price of $12.95. More info. see the book page: http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2011/07/books-by-dave-armstrong-150-biblical.html
This was a revision of the earlier scattershot, Pensees-style book, "501 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura" (Lulu: now discontinued). The new book was completely reorganized and compacted, with the best of the old and some new material, under the excellent editing supervision of Todd Aglialoro (who also was the editor for "The One-Minute Apologist" and "The Catholic Verses" when he worked for Sophia Institute Press).

This topic is the hottest in all of Catholic-Protestant apologetics, and I have written more about this through the years than anything else. No Protestant has seen fit yet to try to refute the arguments in this book. One, however, made some good criticisms of one portion: so much so that I will revise it for the second printing. Even then, I don't think he overturned what I had contended; he merely made some observations that showed some weakness and incompleteness in my analysis. I appreciate that, and will now improve it!

From the Introduction:
It's not enough, therefore, merely to cite biblical evidences of Tradition or an authoritative Church. Those things are not, by their mere mention, sufficient to refute sola scriptura (as our three Protestant proponents cited above point out). The Catholic needs to go further than that and establish, based on unassailable biblical evidence, examples of Tradition or of Church proclamations that were binding and obligatory upon all who heard and received them. Whether these were infallible is another, more complex question, but a binding decree is already either expressly contrary to sola scriptura, or, at the very least, a thing that casts considerable doubt on the formal principle.

Thus, one of my favorite counter-arguments is to point out that the Apostle Paul and his companions Silas and Timothy made their way "through the cities" and "delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem" (Acts 16:4). This council at Jerusalem was described in the previous chapter as having reached its decisions by the direct aid or guidance of the Holy Spirit (15:28).

When we put all of that together, and consider it as objectively as possible, we see an infallible council, presided over by bishops (Peter: 15:7-11, and James: 15:13-21), and proclaimed by an apostle (Paul). It was a development of Tradition and Mosaic Law (about circumcision and what was proper to eat) and a binding exercise of Church authority at the highest levels; even seemingly infallible. All of this is strong counter-indication of sola scriptura, which proclaims that no Church or council can bind the conscience of a Christian believer, or can claim to be infallible. For the Protestant, only Scripture can do that. Yet here the same Scripture seems to refute that very proposition.

This is how one goes about refuting sola scriptura: by demonstrating how biblical teaching makes the Protestant rule of faith collapse into endless self-contradictions and incoherence. It's a death by a thousand qualifications (and worse).
If anyone wants to answer Protestant arguments on authority, this is your "one-stop" option. Available in Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook Book ($9.95), and Catholic Answers e-book ($9.99).
 *****

These are three of the many reasons to support my apostolate. I hope you will consider it. Apologetics books don't provide a lucrative income (I receive, by average, maybe $1.50-1.75 per book sold, for these "official" books, under contract), and lots of my work is available for free (almost 2,500 posts on my blog; two Facebook pages, and Twitter). Information on donations  and how to help this fundraising effort in other ways will be provided in the comments section.
Thanks for reading and God bless!

***

Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/dave.armstrong.798/posts/649195528448769
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See also:
Karl Keating's Kind Fundraiser on My Behalf (September 2013) / My Thoughts on My Recent Rough Financial Stretch

6 comments:

Lothar Lorraine said...

Hello Dave, my problem with that is that I reject Biblical inerrancy and therefore both conservative protestantism and catholicism, tough I do have interest in progressive wings of the Roman Church.

I find it much more important, to have a conversational apologetics with atheists.
http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/the-problem-of-evil-revisited-by-lothars-son/


Lovely greetings from Europe.

David said...

Your book The Catholic Verses is an excellent tool for a Catholic wishing to defend the faith from attacks by Protestants. It deserves to sell more widely.

dmw said...

Step 1: Learn Latin.
Step 2: Translate Counter-Reformation Catholic apologists.
Step 3: Enjoy cash.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hardly! No one will care about that any more than few care about the apologetics materials that are already available.

dmw said...

There was an air of sarcasm in my previous comment. Come on, why write just write an 800-page dissertation that sells for $200 that only a dozen people in the world will buy (excluding libraries)?

In all seriousness, however, I think there are quite a number of young Catholics out there studying theology that would enjoy having ready access to late medieval and counter-reformation-era works translated. Such different perspectives the classics offer! I was part of a project in college that translated some of Bellarmine's previously untranslated stuff...marvelous!

Dave Armstrong said...

I've heard about these treasures in Bellarmine, just waiting to be translated. It seems like someone should have done so by now. But that shows how little theology and apologetics are valued.