Monday, February 18, 2013

Dialogue on the Immaculate Conception, with Lutheran Chuck Wiese

 By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong (2-18-13)

Chuck Wiese (Lutheran) wrote an article on his blog (The Lamb on the Altar), entitled, "Dave Armstrong's Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception" (17 February 2013). I  shall cite it in its entirety below and reply to it, point-by-point. His words will be in blue.

* * * * *

The Roman church teaches that when Mary was conceived in the womb she was kept free from original sin and filled with sanctifying grace. It wasn't until 1854 that this doctrine became an official teaching of the Roman church. 

It is never sufficient to simply cite a "late date" and leave it at that. It's great polemics and propaganda, but lousy historical argumentation. First of all, it isn't as if the doctrine came out of thin air in 1854. It was believed, by and large, for many centuries. 1854 simply made it dogma at the very highest levels: de fide or ex cathedra (as the Catholic Church has many levels of authority of dogmas).

What must be determined is if doctrines that are defined at much later dates are consistent developments or truly innovative novelties, that have no legitimate historical precursors. The Immaculate Conception is the former, and is a straightforward development of the belief in the sinlessness of Mary, that was the consensus of the Church fathers.

To find doctrinal novelties and corruptions one must go to folks like the so-called "reformers": people like Martin Luther, who introduced (as I have documented) at least 50 novel doctrines in his treatises of 1520, even before he was excommunicated.  One can also point to sola Scriptura: the Protestant rule of faith, that was not taught by the Church fathers at all, as I have demonstrated numerous times. Nor can it be proven at all from Scripture. I've written two books about that. St. Augustine's teachings were Catholic, not proto-Protestant. I devoted an entire book to documenting that fact, too.

This teaching was not established by appealing to the Scriptures but rather by appealing to "implicit" teachings in the church fathers. 

To some extent that is true, but biblical arguments were also utilized, as in all Catholic argumentation in favor of particular doctrines. It was largely an argument from tradition, but then, this is perfectly permissible on the biblical, apostolic, patristic, and medieval assumption that sola Scriptura is not the rule of faith in Christianity. St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas both noted many times that a doctrine can legitimately develop from tradition alone, or primarily.

Unlike the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary which is not contradicted by the Scriptures and which is very strongly and unanimously taught by the church fathers, the immaculate conception contradicts the Scriptures and has very weak support among the church fathers. 

It doesn't contradict the Bible at all. Nothing in the Bible denies that Mary was or could have been sinless (like Adam and Eve were before the fall, and like the angels are), nor that she could have been conceived without original sin. It's one thing to assert that there is not explicit evidence of it in Scripture, or perhaps not even much implicit or indirect evidence; quite another to assert contradiction, which is a far greater claim, in need of demonstration.

As for the fathers, well, yes and no. It's not explicitly asserted, but its developmental kernels are: Mary as sinless, the new ark of the covenant, and second Eve, all are repeatedly asserted by the fathers. Thus, this question goes back to the issue of development of doctrine.

Even in the middle ages significant theologians like Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas denied the immaculate conception. 

We always hear about this . . . First of all, St. Thomas didn't believe that the soul was united to the human body until 40-80 days after conception. He had a deficient understanding of biology and did not hold to the Church's current beliefs about ensoulment (i.e., a soul is supernaturally created by God at the moment of conception). Therefore, he could not have held to the Immaculate Conception as the Church does today, based on this false premise.

Secondly, Thomas believed that Mary was extraordinarily sanctified in the womb: just not at conception, per the above, and particularly sanctified at the time of the conception of Jesus.

Thirdly, he believed that she committed no actual sin. In all these things he was followed by Martin Luther, as I have documented. But none of these things are held by Lutherans today. Thus, St. Thomas was far closer to present Catholicism in this (and Luther) than to Lutherans or Protestants generally. I recently completed my book, The Quotable Summa Theologica, and devoted almost six pages to his teaching in these matters. I won't cite his teaching here, but if this debate intensifies, I'd be happy to produce them.

The doctrine most likely developed as an attempt to safeguard the doctrine of the sinlessness of Christ but as Thomas Aquinas points out, if Mary were sinless Christ could not be her redeemer.

The Catholic Church wholeheartedly agrees that Mary was in need of a redeemer, like all human beings since the fall. She herself calls God her savior in the magnificat. We contend that she was saved by being prevented (by an act of God's grace at her conception) from falling into the "pit" of sin, rather than rescued out of it, as the rest of us are, if we are saved. St. Thomas neglected to draw this distinction, therefore made a fallacious argument (even he could do that on occasion). In this way, the Immaculate Conception is perfectly consistent with Mary's need of a savior, and to be rescued (in a special and unique act of God's grace) from the original sin she would have inherited, like every other human being.

But more recent Roman apologists in an attempt to win over evangelicals have tried to defend the doctrine immaculate conception from the Scriptures. On page 178 of  A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, Dave Armstrong discusses the use of the term "full of grace" and says:

It is permissible, on Greek grammatical and linguistic grounds, to paraphrase kecharitomene as completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace.
In the book, Armstrong does not treat the above as a direct quotation from any particular source but he does provide a footnote that says

Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 166; H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968), sect 1852:b.
The book does not cite Blass and DeBrunner as a direct quotation . . .

All correct so far . . . 

. . . but if you search the internet, you'll find plenty of people quoting this as if it were a direct quotation from Blass and DeBrunner including Dave Armstrong on his blog. 

Sometimes folks utilize my materials incorrectly. I checked out Chuck's assertion that I myself cited it wrongly as well. I did find one 2011 paper where I made this mistake (my book above was completed in 1996).  I promptly corrected that and thank Chuck for directing my attention to it. Human errors can happen when one has written almost 2,500 blog posts.

But page 166 doesn't say anything that resembles what Armstrong is saying here. Blass and DeBrunner simply mention that the perfect stem is used to denote "a condition or state as the result of a past action." The passage cited by Smyth says, "Completed action with permanent result is denoted by the perfect stem." None of this sounds anything like what Armstrong is saying. The passage clearly says that God graced Mary but it's rather insane to try to derive the doctrine of the immaculate conception from that.

I love the use of exaggerated, dramatic rhetoric ("insane"). It is also important to note "what Armstrong is saying" in the first place. In my book, I didn't claim that Luke 1:28 and kecharitomene "proved" the Immaculate Conception. Immediately after my words above, that Chuck cited, I wrote:

Thus, in just this one verse, pregnant with meaning and far-reaching implications, the uniqueness of Mary is strongly indicated, and the Immaculate Conception can rightly be deemed entirely consistent with the meaning of this passage.
The Bible speaks only implicitly of many things that Protestants strongly believe, such as the proper mode of Baptism  (immersion, sprinkling, or pouring?). The Immaculate Conception is entirely possible within scriptural presuppositions.

The words "consistent" and "entirely possible" are obviously not the same as assertion of outright proof, or demonstration. Since my first book (written over 16 years ago) I have made additional scriptural arguments that are based on explicit texts, having to do with grace and sin. I would love for Chuck to take these on, if he is looking to have a biblically-based discussion of the Immaculate Conception.

The ever-virgin Mary can truly be called the Queen of Heaven. She was given the most important position of any human being by being chosen by God to be the Mother of God. 

Quite true.

But Mary was a sinner who needed Christ to suffer and die for her just as well all do. 

The second thing is not denied by Catholics. The first clause is an unproven assertion derived from mere traditions of men, and neither from the Bible nor the consensus of patristic teachings.

[cross-posted to my Facebook page, where further discussion may take place]

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Friday, February 15, 2013

"Sola Scriptura": Its Definition and the Supreme Importance of Catholic Apologists Getting it Right

By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong (2-15-13)

What Protestants mean by sola scriptura is that the Bible alone is the infallible written authority for faith and morals
---Evangelical Protestant apologist Norman Geisler (Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1995, 178; co-author, Ralph E. Mackenzie) 

It is important to notice that sola scriptura, properly understood, is not a claim that Scripture is the only authority altogether. . . . There are other real authorities which are subordinate and derivative in nature. Scripture, however, is the only inspired and inherently infallible norm, and therefore Scripture is the only final authoritative norm.

--- Reformed Protestant Keith A. Mathison (The Shape of Sola Scriptura, Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2001, 260) 

The doctrine of sola scriptura, simply stated, is that the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fidei, the infallible rule of faith for the Church.

--- Reformed Baptist apologist James R. White (The Roman Catholic Controversy, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1996, 59; italics his)

[see the Introduction of my 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura for much more elaboration on definition]

* * * * *

The following thoughts are derived from a friendly but lively discussion with a fellow Catholic apologist.


Definitions of things are super-important. This is a crucial issue in all apologetics.  I can't emphasize strongly enough how supremely important this is, because it has to do with the definition of a thing that is central in the "hottest" and most controversial issue in Catholic-Protestant apologetics.
I don't think sola Scriptura is a "bluff." This implies deliberate dishonesty, which is uncharitable. I certainly was not seeking to be dishonest when I was an evangelical Protestant. I think it is a matter of how things are properly defined within the framework of multiple broad Protestant traditions, and how the man on the street is largely unaware of same (just as Catholic men on the street often are, of our dogmas).

I don't think that because there is widespread ignorance, therefore, we shouldn't worry about matters of proper definition at all. The latter is always supremely important in any big discussion and controversy. This is not a minor matter in apologetics. We're talking about (by far) the most controversial and central issue in all of Catholic-Protestant interaction. It's #1.

All I'm saying is that we must define sola Scriptura according to how "official" Protestantism [at denominational levels] does, just as Protestants must define our doctrines and dogmas by what popes and councils and catechisms say, not based on the distortion of less educated folks. I should think that this is self-evident.

That much is clearly crucial and necessary. It seems like you want to say, on the other hand, "that doesn't matter at all; all we care about is meeting the man on the street, on a practical level." It's not either/or. We should note the definition as we know it to be, then deal primarily with how it works out in practice with Joe Protestant on the street.

If we are operating with inaccurate, mistaken definition of the very concept we are opposing, this violates the basic rules of all debate whatsoever: know thy opponent, and define basic terms at the outset. And it's uncharitable, because it appears like we are warring against straw men in some respects.

I've written way more on this than on any other topic (including two books, and part of a third). Countless times I've argued (and it's in my books) that sola Scriptura is self-defeating and unworkable in practice, that it is vicious, circular reasoning and can't be applied consistently in real life. But I take care to define the term and concept accurately, according to how educated Protestants see it. They themselves (particularly Mathison and Baptist scholar Bernard Ramm) despise the distortion of what they call SOLO Scriptura.

Ultimately, Protestants don't have to (by their own principles) be obedient to denominational authority, per Martin Luther and the internal logic of sola Scriptura (as I've argued a million times), but it's again beside the point. They define it a certain way and then ultimately contradict it. We still need to accurately define that which we oppose, and then proceed to show how it is self-defeating. I've done this a million times (see my Bible and Tradition page).

But Protestants obviously acknowledge non-biblical authorities. They only deny infallibility to them. James white, for example, would submit himself to his own Reformed Baptist tradition. He might theoretically be shown to be in error on some point, according to the Westminster Confession, etc. The average Protestant of his sort respects their own denominational sub-tradition. It's why they're there. It's why Calvinists squabble with Arminians: because they believe strongly in their own thing over against the other.

It's a weak form of tradition, by Catholic criteria, but it still is a lesser authority within Protestantism. We mustn't dismiss it as no authority at all besides the Bible. We can say it doesn't work, that it fails, that it is self-defeating (I do all that hundreds of times), but it still is authority in some sense.

Protestants believe in sola Scriptura. At the same time they don't properly think it through, to see that it is self-defeating. Lack of awareness and logical acuity is not dishonesty. 

All religions have a problem of the average adherent being ignorant on any number of issues. It's not like Protestants alone suffer from this. How many Catholics could articulate the difference between infused and imputed, forensic, external justification, or explain the proper relationship of grace and works, or give a biblical defense of transubstantiation or the Two Natures of Christ, or give any reason whatsoever for acceptance of the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption?

The three examples given at the top of this post are the accepted definition of sola Scriptura. It's the Protestant's own definition, not mine or any Catholic apologist's, to define as I or we wish. We expect the same in critiques of our faith. If someone said they didn't give a fig about the definition of papal infallibility at Vatican I or the two papal statements about the Marian doctrines (1854, 1950), Catholic apologists would be quick to say that they can't do that. We'd say that they can't define our doctrine by what some drunk Catholic in a bar at 2 AM says about it. They have to go "by the books." And we have to do the same with them. It's the same intellectual standard and responsibility, both ways. Their definitions come from their own confessions and creeds.

Sola Scriptura is defined within Protestant ranks by scholars and bigwigs in denominations, following their own dogmatic creeds, confessions, systematic theologies, leading theologians, etc.  It's not all that different from how we do it: it just carries less total authority because of the nature of their system (in a word, it isn't infallible, as ours is).

Major terms (and doctrines) in theology always come from the top down, not from the man on the street. This is no different between Catholicism and Protestantism either. Theology isn't democratic, because it's based on revelation (the ultimate top-down notion).

Protestants have no central authority, but they have several prominent denominational authorities. If I am critiquing the Lutherans, I consult the Book of Concord. They bind themselves to that. For Calvinists it is usually the Westminster Confession, with Calvin's works being very authoritative, too, though not absolutely so (per sola Scriptura). For Methodists, Wesley would have a high place. For Anglicans, it is the 39 Articles. Etc., etc. This is elementary to understand in Catholic-Protestant apologetics.

Protestants don't disagree regarding sola Scriptura, at the level of theologians and scholars and pastors, etc. A few extreme fundamentalist groups go to a radical "Bible Only" or what has been described derisively by informed Protestants (notably, Mathison), as a solo scriptura view. They are more united on sola Scriptura than on almost anything else, because it is one of the few principles that is agreed by virtually all (of educated ones). Everything else for them is built upon this. This particular issue happens to have a large consensus within Protestantism.

If we don't go "by the books" in defining Protestant terms, by the same token, Protestants who critique Catholicism should be able to define Catholic soteriology in the manner that the average Catholic on the street does: that basically we have to be "good people" to get to heaven. I'd venture to guess that many (less educated and informed) Catholics would be semi-Pelagians in their theology, and some even outright Pelagians. If we don't care what a religion's "official books" say and just take a head count of folks on the street, then we'd have all kinds of "interesting" definitions.

The very enterprise of apologetics would become chaotic and absurd if we took that tack on everything. It would hardly even be possible. We'd be fighting straw men a good 90% of the time. I try to critique the views of the most intelligent and respectable Protestants, not the least intelligent ones.

This is what the fringe group of anti-Catholics among Protestants love to do with us. They immensely enjoy toying (in public) with a Catholic who doesn't know what he's talking about, and exhibits so many stereotypes of what they envision Catholicism to be. But when you or I meet them, all of a sudden they have far less time and interest, for some reason. Their goal is to mock and caricature Catholic belief, not interact with the real thing.

Protestants can be told they're wrong within their own flawed authority structures. But one can also make arguments from the Bible, as I specialize in. We can take their sola Scriptura and trap them with it, by showing them that the Bible supports our views, not theirs. They will take that seriously because they believe that the Bible is inspired, as we do. It's common ground, and so it is very effective in debates. Every debate must establish the best common ground between the two positions, and go from there. Otherwise, there is no interaction at all, if nothing is held in common.

Apologists must define things primarily "by the books." We don't accept otherwise when we are critiqued, and in charity we owe the same to our Protestant brethren.

When I find folks (anti-Catholic polemicists) botching Catholic definitions I have a field day and rake them over the coals, and broadcast it to all and sundry: "Look! So-and-so doesn't even understand the basic definition of X!" I've often done this with atheists who claimed that they understood exegesis back when they were lowly Christians (let alone now: yet they consider themselves such "experts" on the Bible). I prove that they didn't have a clue, that they were and are quite ignorant about it. We must properly understand what we are critiquing: all the more so regarding the number one issue in apologetics.

* * * * *

Friday, February 08, 2013

Books by Dave Armstrong: "The Quotable Summa Theologica"

Painting: Saint Thomas Aquinas, 1476, by Carlo Crivelli (c. 1435 – c. 1495)

[200 pages; completed on 29 January 2013 and published at Lulu on 30 January 2013]

[cover design by Dave Armstrong]

--- for info. on purchasing (paperback / e-book), go to the bottom of the page ---


St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was without question the greatest theologian in the history of the Catholic Church, and the Summa Theologica (1271-1274) was his masterpiece and one of the most influential theological books ever written.

The goal herein is to make the thought and reasoning of this marvelous compendium of the Angelic Doctor more accessible and able to be referenced quickly. My overwhelming emphasis in collecting excerpts will be on theology itself; with far less on the topics of spirituality, ethics, and other areas.
Many times, frankly, I have been too lazy, myself, to “barrel through” the Summa Theologica to find an answer as to what St. Thomas thought on thus-and-so. Sometimes even those of us who love Aquinas, have neither the time nor desire (in the course of a busy day) to read through the reasoning chain that he uses in the Summa to come to his conclusions. This is, of course, a defect in us, and not at all in Aquinas, but it is what it is.

St. Thomas’ style in the Summa is a wonderful method and fabulous teaching device, but I think there are a lot of people like me who would also like to see concise, easily obtainable “answers” from Aquinas: in a more or less “catechetical” format (rather than apologetic or philosophical: with more elaborate explanations).

I hope you, the reader, will benefit from my true labor of love. I’ve immensely enjoyed learning from this fabulous teaching, as I compiled the “quotable” excerpts. May this work be used by God to send further grace upon many, via St. Thomas Aquinas.

 Source Information and Abbreviations

Summa Theologica (1271-1274), literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province; second revised edition (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947; now in the public domain).

Abbreviations used:

The first part (prima pars): 1

The first part of the second part (prima secundae partis): 1-2

The second part of the second part (secunda secundae partis): 2-2

The third part (tertia pars): 3

The supplement (supplementum tertiae partis): suppl.

ST 1, q. 3, a. 2c = First part, Question 3, Article 2, corpus: i.e., Thomas’ solution in the body of the article.

ST 2-2, q. 75, a. 1, ad 3 = Second part of the second part, Question 75, Article 1, reply to third objection. 

ST 3, q. 10, a. 3, sed contra = Third part, Question 10, Article 3, argument in opposition to objection(s): “on the contrary . . .”

ST suppl., q. 17, a. 3, ad 2 = Supplement, Question 17, Article 3, reply to second objection.

[all posted to Facebook, unless indicated otherwise]

On Apologetics and Reason and Faith

Brilliant Short Proof of Monotheism

On God's Middle Knowledge (Scientia Media)

On the Sabellian Heresy (aka Modal Monarchianism)

Application of Vatican II Advice 700 Years Early (Effective New Methods of Sharing Ancient Truths)

On the Material Sufficiency of Scripture

St. Thomas vs. Astrology

On the Spiritual Gifts

On Development of Doctrine

On Initial (Imputed) Justification: of the "Ungodly"

On "Cafeteria Catholics" / Dissenters / Modernists

On the Veneration of Saints, Images, and Relics 

On the Perpetual Virginity of Mary

On the Seven Sacraments

Opponent of Sola Scriptura and Advocate for the Catholic Rule of Faith (Bible-Church-Tradition)

Index of Topics 
 [214 total]

Angels and Our Thoughts (p. 11)
Angels: Assuming of Bodies (p. 11)
Angels, Guardian (p. 12)
Angels: Immaterial Spirits (p. 13)
Angels, Intercession of (p. 14)
Angels, Quantity of (p. 14)
Angels: Sinless (p. 14)
Anointing the Sick with Consecrated Oil (Sacrament) (p. 14)
Apologetics (p. 16)
Apostasy (Falling Away from the Faith or Salvation) (p. 18)
Apostolic Succession (p. 19)
Astrology (Falsity of) (p. 20)
Atonement, Universal (p. 20)
Baptism and Salvation (p. 21)
Baptism and Sanctification (p. 21)
Baptism, Infant (p. 21)
Baptism, Method or Mode of (p. 22)
Baptism of Desire / Baptism of Blood (p. 23)
Baptismal Regeneration (p. 24)
Beatific Vision (p. 25)
Celibacy and Singleness (p. 28)
Church: Authority of (p. 28)
Church, Infallibility of (p. 28)
Confession (p. 29)
Confirmation, Sacrament of (p. 30)
Conscience, Examination of / Moral Assurance (p. 33)
Creation Ex Nihilo (p. 33)
Creeds and Catechisms (p. 34)
Cross of Christ, Adoration of (p. 35)
Cross (Symbol), Veneration of (p. 36)
Dead: Almsgiving for (p. 36)
Dead: Fasting for (p. 36)
Dead: Indulgences for (p. 36)
Dead: Masses for (p. 36)
Dead: Offerings for (p. 37)
Dead: Prayer for (p. 37)
Dead: Works on Behalf of (p. 39)
Demons (p. 39)
Deuterocanon (“Apocrypha”) (p. 41)
Development (of Doctrine) (p. 43)
Disputations (p. 46)
Dissent (from Catholicism)  (p. 46)
Divorce and Remarriage (p. 47)
Dogma and Doctrine (p. 48)
Earth: Sphericity of (p. 49)
Eternity (p. 49)
Eucharist and Sanctification (p. 49)
Eucharist: Real Substantial Presence; Transubstantiation (p. 50)
Eucharistic Adoration (p. 54)
Evangelism (p. 55)
Evangelism and Salvation (p. 55)
Evil (p. 55)
Evolution (p. 56)
Faith (p. 57)
Faith and Obedience (p. 59)
Faith and Reason (p. 59)
Faith and Works (p. 61)
Faith, Hope, and Charity (p. 61)
Faith, Implicit (p. 63)
Fasting and Abstinence (p. 64)
Free Will (p. 64)
Gifts, Spiritual (p. 66)
God: Above Reason / Ultimate Mystery of (p. 66)
God and Anthropomorphism (Physical Characteristics Metaphorically Attributed to Him) (p. 67)
God and Anthropopathism (Human Emotions Metaphorically Attributed to Him) (p. 68)
God and Predestination (p. 69)
God and Reprobation (p. 69)
God: Argument from Necessary Being (p. 70)
God: Circumincession / Coinherence / Perichoresis (p. 71)
God: Cosmological Argument for (p. 71)
God: Creator (p. 72)
God: Eternal (p. 74)
God: Existence of (Self-Evident?) (p. 74)
God: Holy Trinity (p. 74)
God: Immaterial Spirit (p. 75)
God: Immutability of (p. 75)
God: Impassibility of (p. 76)
God: Judge; Justice of (p. 76)
God: Love of (p. 76)
God: Mercy of (p. 77)
God: Middle Knowledge of (p. 77)
God: Not the Author or Source of Evil or Sin (p. 78)
God: Omnipotence of (p. 80)
God: Omnipresence of (p. 81)
God: Omniscience of (p. 81)
God: Ontological Argument for (Falsity of) (p. 82)
God: Outside of Time (p. 82)
God: Personal Relationship or Communion with (p. 83)
God, Providence of (p. 83)
God: Self-Existent; Self-Sufficient (p. 85)
God: Simplicity of (p. 85)
God: Sovereignty of (p. 86)
God: Sovereignty Related to Human Free Will (p. 86)
God: Sustainer of Creation  (p. 87)
God the Father: Monarchia  / Principatus of (p. 89)
God: Will of (p. 89)
Grace Alone (for Justification and Salvation) (p. 90)
Grace and Reason (p. 93)
Grace: Degrees or Greater Measure of  (p. 93)
Grace, Irresistible (Falsity of) (p. 94)
Happiness (p. 94)
Hardening of the Heart (p. 95)
Healing (p. 95)
Hell and Time (p. 96)
Hell: Differential Punishments (p. 96)
Hell (Eternal Punishment) (p. 96)
Heresy; Heretics (p. 97)
Holy Items (p. 98)
Holy Orders; Ordination (Sacrament) (p. 99)
Holy Places; Shrines (p. 100)
Holy Spirit as Love (p. 101)
Holy Spirit: Procession of (Filioque Dispute) (p. 101)
Hope (p. 103)
Ignorance (p. 104)
Ignorance, Invincible (p. 104)
Images, Icons, and Statues: Use and Veneration of (p. 105)
Indulgences (p. 106)
Jesus Christ: Begotten (p. 107)
Jesus Christ: Divinity of (p. 107)
Jesus Christ: Hypostatic Union / Two Natures (p. 108)
Jesus Christ: “Ignorance” of Certain Matters? (p. 108)
Jesus Christ: “Image” of the Father (p. 108)
Jesus Christ: Impeccability (Sinlessness) (p. 109)
Jesus Christ: “Made Sin” (p. 109)
Jesus Christ: Omnipotent (p. 110)
Jesus Christ: Omniscient (p. 110)
Jesus Christ: Redeemer and Savior (p. 110)
Jesus Christ: Virgin Birth (p. 115)
Joy (p. 116)
Justification by Faith (p. 116)
Justification, Imputed  (Initial) (p. 116)
Justification, Infused (Sanctification) (p. 118)
Knowledge and the Senses (p. 119)
Law and the New Covenant (p. 120)
Love (Charity) (p. 121)
Marriage: Sacrament (p. 122)
Mary: Bodily Assumption (p. 122)
Mary: Mediatrix (p. 122)
Mary: Mother of God (Theotokos) (p. 123)
Mary: Perpetual Virginity of  (p. 124)
Mary: Sanctification in the Womb (Similar to the Immaculate Conception) (p. 127)
Mary: Sinlessness (p. 131)
Mary: Veneration of (p. 133)
Mary: Virginity In Partu (During Childbirth) (p. 134)
Mass, Daily (p. 135)
Mass: Offered by the Entire Congregation (p. 136)
Mass, Sacrifice of (and the Crucifixion) (p. 136)
Merit (p. 137)
Miracles (p. 139)
Monotheism (p. 139)
Nestorianism (Heresy) (p. 139)
Original Sin; Fall of Man (p. 139)
Paganism and Christianity (p. 141)
Papacy; Popes (p. 142)
Papal Infallibility (p. 143)
Peace (p. 143)
Penance: Absolution (p. 144)
Penance and Salvation (p. 144)
Penance (Sacrament) and Temporal Punishment (p. 145)
Peter: Primacy of (p. 147)
Philosophy and Salvation (p. 148)
Philosophy and Scripture (p. 148)
Private Judgment (False Principle of) (p. 148)
Purgatory (p. 148)
Repentance (p. 149)
Revelation and Faith (p. 150)
Revelation and Reason (p. 150)
Rule of Faith / “Three-Legged Stool” (Bible-Church-Tradition)  (p. 151)
Sabellianism (Heresy) (p. 151)
Sacramental Intention (p. 152)
Sacramentals (p. 152)
Sacraments (p. 153)
Sacraments and Christ’s Passion (p. 154)
Sacraments and Grace (p. 154)
Sacraments and Salvation (p. 156)
Sacraments and Sanctification (p. 157)
Sacraments: Ex Opere Operato (p. 159)
Sacraments: Seven (p. 160)
Saints: Awareness of and Contact with This World  (p. 163)
Saints, Communion of (p. 164)
Saints, Intercession of (p. 164)
Saints, Invocation of (p. 168)
Saints: Relics of (p. 169)
Saints, Veneration of  (p. 170)
Salvation and Fear (p. 171)
Salvation and Wisdom (p. 171)
Salvation, Instantaneous (Falsity of) (p. 171)
Satan (p. 172)
Schism; Separation (p. 173)
Scripture: Hermeneutics (Interpretation) (p. 174)
Scripture: Inerrancy and Infallibility (p. 176)
Scripture: Material Sufficiency of (p. 176)
Sectarianism (p. 177)
Sin (p. 177)
Sin, Degrees of (p. 178)
Sin, Mortal  (p. 179)
Sin, Venial (p. 181)
Soul (p. 182)
Suffering, Redemptive (Participation in Christ’s Suffering) (p. 182)
Synergy: Cooperation with God’s Grace as “Co-Laborers” and Secondary Mediators (p. 183)
Teachers, Christian (p. 185)
Theology and Material Figures (p. 186)
Theology and Figures / Metaphors (p. 186)
Theology, Natural / Teleological Argument for God (p. 186)
Theology: Queen of the Sciences (p. 187)
Theosis; Divinization (p. 187)
Total Depravity (Falsity of); Human Nature (p. 188)
Tradition, Apostolic (p. 189)
Tradition, Oral (p. 191)
Trinity and Salvation (p. 191)
Unbelief (p. 192)
War, Just (p. 193)
Wisdom (p. 194)
Works, Good (in Grace) (p. 194)

Purchase Information

Paperback ($19.95 / 20% Lulu Discount: $15.96)




Updated on  18 July 2015.

* * * * *

How Anti-Catholic Apologists "Argue" and "Reason": James Swan's Avalanche of Childish Personal Insults and Lies Directed to Me

 By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong (2-8-13)

This is a shortened version of a formerly removed post, dated 30 June 2010. It has now (mostly) been restored, for reasons that I discussed at the beginning of my other "archive" post today, entitled, "Am I a Psychotic Madman? Diagnoses from Reformed Protestant Anti-Catholic Polemicist James Swan." Many of the links are probably now defunct, because Swan is in the habit of deleting incriminating statements that he has made on his own site in the past and never retracted: especially if I ever documented them. But some are on other sites. The links I preserve below were verified as still active.

Because he refuses to cease his glaring, breathtakingly hypocritical double standards (see the paper above), in condemning mild and fully justified harsh descriptions used by Catholics, to describe anti-Catholic bigotry and misinformation (some merely and clearly humorous or "tweaking"), I felt that he should be called on his past behavior; thus I restored this paper that had been removed.

Eventually, it will no longer be available even at Internet Archive, and anti-Catholics habitually deny any shortcomings that they exhibit in this regard, so I want to bring it back, for the record. People must be held accountable for their words. If they are retracted, that's one thing. I'm happy to remove such comments forever. But Swan has not retracted virtually all of these insults.

"This will probably be the last time I mention Dave for a while, unless something comes up of interest." (2-22-06)

"I am not obsessed with Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong . . . probably the amount of times I've responded to Dave's blog is a number between 20 and 30." (3-17-06)
[Dave: four years later it had reached 150+] 

* * * * *

[citations from posts at James White's blog are indicated by an asterisk: *]

Charges of My Allegedly Lousy, Incompetent, Dishonest, or Nonexistent "Research"

Armstrong and I definitely approach research differently. . . . So many problems can be avoided by actually having the source of the quote one is utilizing. . . . In fact, Armstrong provides very little ad fontes evidence for his position. Read through his papers on Luther and Mary for yourself. (2-18-06)

Now, I'm not trying to relentlessly pick on Dave, only challenge him to a higher standard in research. His work is taken seriously by many Roman Catholics- I think my challenges to him to produce contexts and ad fontes sources can only help his apologetics career. . . . Dave won’t do the ad fontes work before he posts stuff like this. It’s up to us to do it. (2-22-06)

. . . unless requesting he stick to ad fontes research qualifies as “distorting” his writings. (3-9-06)

I will not though [sic] cease provoking Dave Armstrong to ad fontes research. (3-23-06)

A plea to Dave Armstrong to use ad fontes evidence in his Luther and Reformation research. (6-8-06)

Dave accuses me of nitpicking over tedium like this. He wants to be taken seriously as a Catholic apologist. If it were my book going to print making historical claims, I would make sure that I actually read and understood the material presented. (4-26-07*)

. . . one wonders if Dave reads what he cites. All is not as it appears. (4-27-07)

A look at the difficulty in engaging Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong in dialog. Dave's now publishing books with facts he probably hasn't even researched. (5-9-07)

. . . perhaps we should make sure Luther holds what Armstrong says he does. If he doesn't, then certain conclusions follow as to the value of Dave's research. . . . If you've read my blog or any of my Luther papers, I have stated often that Dave Armstrong has trouble with Luther. The quote he uses once again proves he does not carefully consider his information before hitting "publish" on his blog. (6-18-07*)

Simply go back and check Armstrong's earlier Luther "work" (if you can call it that) of poor documentation and reliance on "shock" sources, and his recent efforts to document information more helpfully. I'm not the one publishing books and attempting to define my very being as an "apologist." If these men wish to be taken seriously, I suggest they do serious work. (12-22-07)

. . . . his attempts at research. Mr. Armstrong, . . . also now is claiming actual research. (

Now that Mr. Armstrong's research has produced what I claimed all along, one would think an apology of some sort would be given. No, Mr. Armstrong does what he does best, continue to insult and obfuscate. He's put together two blog entries filled with his usual meandering reasoning . . . (1-4-08*)

Mr. Armstrong should know by now, I do not use his blog for Luther research (like he uses mine). I do not approve of either his methods or abilities, so it would be inconsistent for me to speak negatively about his work, while using his work. (1-8-08)

I question Dave's research because [in] my earliest introduction to [his] work [I] noticed very poor methods. (1-9-08)

This is something I simply don't understand about Dave Armstrong's methodology. Given all the countless hours of Google searches he does, one would think he would actually join me in pursuing truth via research. (7-1-08)

. . . the myth perpetuated by such Romanists like Ben and Mr. Armstrong who struggle greatly with research and contexts. (9-13-09)

Shame on you Dave Armstrong for not doing a basic Google search to locate the quote before using it it to malign Luther. If anything is "comically surreal" it's the effort you put in to your research. (12-21-09)

Your "work" though, finds an audience, so unless I stop coming across Romanists linking me back to you, I'll keep looking up your "research." You've put forth enough bogus "research" to keep me busy for a long time, if I so choose. You tend to be the recent Romanist with the most Luther stuff, so your "work" get's scrutinized the most. (2-26-10)

DA still won't address his own "research" or lack thereof. . . . If anyone is presenting shoddy review of history, it's Armstrong and those like him. (2-26-10)

It appears though, Mr. Armstrong isn't willing to check his facts before publication. (2-27-10)

This is a great example of how the author reads a text. He argues about a point Calvin isn't even making at the moment. If the author really wanted to respond to Calvin, he should at least respond to the argument being made. (3-29-10)

I'm not against Mr. Armstrong's book simply because they are self-published. I'm against the ones I have because they're simply awful. I've reviewed parts of a few of them, and the material is horrendous. Let's take two of DA's self-published books as an example: his books on Luther and Calvin. If I recall, neither are endorsed by anyone substantial. So, when I say the material is substandard, I can back up what I'm saying with facts. . . . I'm against self-published books that are pathetic. (4-13-10)

Claims of My Supposed Butchering of, or Complete Neglect of Context

Got a context Dave? . . . I don’t mean just a snippet or partial context, I mean an actual context. . . . Get me a complete context, and then we’ll talk about this quote. Ad fontes Dave. . . . For me to take Armstrong's position on Luther's view of the Immaculate Conception seriously, I need ad fontes work. I need to see the context for myself. (2-18-06)

. . . in situations in which you can a provide a context, don’t chicken out. Provide the context. (3-17-06)

You can’t ignore the context of the Luther document you’re quoting from that says the opposite of the point you’re making- and so on. (3-23-06)

I've been asking Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong a very simple question lately. It all has to do with one of Armstrong's books. Dave cites one of the Reformers, and I've simply been asking him if he's actually read the Reformer he's citing, in context. . . . Even in material readily available, one wonders if Dave reads what he cites. (4-26-07*)

I have demonstrated once again, Dave Armstrong struggles with context. (6-18-07*)

See No Context, Hear no Context, Speak No Context [mocking picture of three monkeys] (12-22-07)

Well, Dave Armstrong 2008 appears to be a lot like Dave Armstrong 2007. Dave didn't prove anything except what I originally stated. This means, Luther was taken out-of-context. (1-4-08*)

. . . that's the point isn't it?... The immediate context. . . . The issue is the immediate context. . . . The immediate context is here for all to see. (1-9-08; his bolding and link)

One would think he would be interested in contexts and the historical development of Luther's Mariology. One would think, on such an important topic to his brand of Catholic apologetics, he would want to use caution before posting Luther quotes without knowing the context. How many times will we have to go through this? Haven't I shown him enough times to actually read Luther, before citing Luther? (7-1-08)

One should be able to make out Luther's argument, more-a-less [sic] from his citation. Armstrong though isn't providing this quote to explain Luther's argument in context. . . . Luther's actual point gets buried by Armstrong's polemical context. (9-16-08)

Armstrong's use of this quote, once again proves, context is not his friend. (12-21-09)

Once again, Armstrong should read something in context before publishing. (

I highly doubt Armstrong looked up any of the contexts of any of the quotes he used. He relied on second hand sources that are typically classified (even by Roman Catholics) as belonging to a period of Roman Catholic research that sought to vilify Luther rather than be fair with Luther . . . My favorite of the bunch was the quote he put together from two different sources. Context? Who cares? Let's just string Luther's words together to make him say whatever DA wants him to. (2-26-10)

A Professional apologist should know not to Post things without a context. . . . I've been putting DA's Luther quotes back in context, even before Google books. (2-26-10)

You should've known better, even in 2003, that to quote Luther without a context is setting yourself up for a fall. (2-26-10)

Dave, I'm sure you would very much appreciate it if I didn't look up the quotes you mishandle and put them back in their proper context. (2-26-10)

Those who care about truth will benefit from contexts and will find your "work" substandard. (2-26-10)

Rather then simply admit you didn't read Luther in context and subsequently put forth propaganda, you'd rather talk about your favorite subject: Dave Armstrong. (2-26-10)

Simply admit you never read the quotes in context that I reviewed, and that your "editorial" comments were not justified based on the quotes when put back in context. It's very simple. I doubt Edward will be swayed by your explanations as to why you quote Luther without actually knowing what Luther said in context. (2-26-10)

Once again, we see an evasion of context. (2-26-10)

Yet, we find Armstrong repeatedly promoting imbalance by what he leaves out, and how he chooses to direct his "editorial" comments. Luther's sermons repeatedly make the point left out by DA, and some of the quotes I reviewed do as well. . . . we're given out-of-context Luther quotes . . . (2-27-10)

. . . people like Armstrong . . . won't even look at a context from a quote they've used. Sound familiar? That's what happen when you take a statement and make it sound the way one wants it to. (2-27-10)

Will he explain why the quotes he used don't say what he says they do in context? No, he probably won't. The show must go on. Notice the selective citing of this very dialogue posted on his blog today. He sees what he wants to. He leaves out details when he needs to. (2-27-10)

Simply explain how the context of those quotes supports your editorial comments, and stop all the nonsense, smoke & mirrors. . . . Yes indeed, I do find your shenanigans quite odd behavior. However, as I've stated repeatedly while I think you're wacky, other people take you seriously. . . . Again, put your Luther quotes back in context, and deal with it. It's a simple thing. (2-27-10)

That you won't answer simple questions about context really does make one question your honesty. (2-27-10)

Well, I guess we're not going to get contexts out of Mr. Armstrong. (2-28-10)

I suggest in the future to avoid similar embarrassment, use the Internet to at least attempt to locate a source before you publish. If you can't find a context, don't use the quote. (3-1-10)

Almost anyone in Junior High School could probably put a quote back in context. All it takes is a library and the Internet. With a context, correcting your poor research and misguided editorial comments of the quotes doesn't take much intelligence. It does though take time. Fortunately for you, probably most of your supporters don't take the time to check your work. (3-1-10)

If Dave is the Roman Catholic Superman, the contexts of those quotes are like kryptonite. (3-1-10)

I proved my point, once again, about how you are with a context. (3-1-10)

Is the romanist author's analysis of Calvin accurate? No, he completely misses Calvin's argument, and the historical context in which the argument was made.

As to quote #2, the Roman Catholic author probably didn't read IV, 10:27. (5-6-10)

A regular on my blog, Adomnan, perfectly summed and sized up Swan's tactics with all this "out-of-context" business:

You, Dave, accurately quote Luther saying A. Swan digs up the texts where Luther said A (or some other text he sees as related), and notes that he also said B, C, D and E, the "context" of A. Swan then claims that because Luther said B, C, D and E, none of which contradict A, it follows that he didn't say, or didn't mean, A. This is false on the face of it and, in my opinion, deserves no response other than perhaps a curt dismissal.

Swan Doesn't Take Me "Seriously" (Despite His Obsessive 150 Papers or So About My Work)

It should be no mystery that I don’t take Catholic apologetics all that seriously. My writing will reflect that. (3-23-06)

It was simply an example of "shock" apologetics, . . . No wonder I have a hard time taking Dave seriously. He's not doing serious work, as this little historical inquiry into Melanchthon shows. (5-22-06)

After Dave Armstrong reviewed my paper
Luther’s Theology of Mary, I provided this detailed counter response, which took months to write. If I recall, Dave Responded in about a week or two (I’m sure he’ll post the dates). Dave’s counter-responses to this paper are the reason I don’t take his work with great seriousness. (6-8-06)

I'm somewhat polemical with DA, simply because his comments and behavior usually provoke me to be so. I have a hard time taking him seriously, as will be expressed in my responses to him. (10-19-06)

Ok, I tried to take Dave Armstrong seriously and I got back exactly what I expected. Once again, Dave has given me an entire response filled with mocking and silliness, mixed in with attempts at fruitful dialog. Ok, back to not taking Dave Armstrong seriously. That was a nice exercise in futility. It reaffirms exactly what I decided a few years ago. (3-28-07)

Indeed, I don't take you seriously as a "professional" apologist, . . . (2-26-10)

Welcome to an example of what I've gone through with him for years. There is a reason why I've often said I don't take his work seriously. That is, when I read it, I know I'm not getting the insights of someone looking honestly or in-depth at an issue involving Luther. (3-1-10)

And, I’ve repeatedly said that others do take you seriously, so I critique your “work”- especially since you write on Roman Catholicism and the Reformation, subjects that interest me. Part of looking over your “work” and commenting on it is nothing else than showing why you shouldn’t be taken seriously. (4-18-10)

Accusation of My Allegedly Unethical, Cynical Editing of Opponents' Words

The link was an edited down version of my discussion with Dave from the CARM boards. I recall reading it and thinking, “I said a lot more than this!” I went back over to CARM and I posted something like “Watch out when Dialoging with Dave Armstrong” …“because when you do, he takes the discussion, edits them down, and makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.” The CARM moderators were none too pleased and threatened to ban me if I kept up my complaint against Dave. I never forgot this episode with Dave Armstrong. (3-9-06)

Dave thinks that his “edited down” dialogs are fine examples of ethical discourse. I disagree. (3-17-06)

Then you edited to suit your needs. This was my gut reaction. It stands now as a challenge for me in my own work to rise above and beyond such a low standard in documentation with people I dialog with on the Internet. (3-17-06)

My Alleged Profound Narcissism

I wouldn't want my favorite Catholic apologist to think I'm ignoring his hard work and skillful apologetic materials he consistently puts out by not publicly referring to this recent blog article. Dave thrives on recognition, so thank you Dave from my heart to yours. Remember, heart speaks to heart. (12-17-07)

So, to aid Mr. Ray, the Catholic-apologetic-Knight-in-Shining-Armor has arrived! Three Cheers!And here for a brief moment, I thought Steve Ray could actually rise above the silliness that goes along with the pop-Catholic apologetic approach. Nope, we're back to the Cochlaeus level, perpetuated by well....the one who craves attention. (12-22-07)

How can Armstrong add stuff to a Bible, collect cash from it, when he doesn't know Hebrew and Greek? That is arrogance. Why would someone knowingly sell a book containing blatant truth and error at the same time? Mr. Armstrong is a theologian of glory. It's all about the glory of DA. (4-14-09*)

It does get a bit painful to watch Matthew in battle against not only us heretics, but also against the upper echelon of Catholic apologetics [i.e. the blog that has refuted everyone everywhere]. (6-30-09)

The sooner you realize it's all about Dave, the quicker it is you won't be offended by my comments. This blog post was never about Dave. (8-4-09)

Should I post such positive responses every time someone pats me on the back? Wait a minute.... that would be like....something Dave Armstrong would do. (2-26-10)

But well done with this diversion, now that we're talking about your favorite subject (you), you don't have to explain contexts that you never read. (2-26-10)

Accusation of Constant Dishonest Tampering With My Own Blog Posts

If you visit DA's blog, you know his entries can appear, disappear, or change hour to hour. . . . I think Dave will probably edit his use of Luther in this instance, . . . Dave's blog is often now you see it, now you don't. (6-18-07*)

A Roman Catholic recently blogged a large amount of material on John Calvin. I held out reading any of it and waited to see what he'd put forth in a published book. So I recently received his book on Calvin. Material on a blog can be edited or deleted as if by magic. A published work though sets one's opinion and research concretely. (3-22-10)

Charge That I Am Dishonest and/or Cynically Revise Past History

Unless you've had a few years of interaction with DA, and see how the past is like a bit of putty in his hands, molded how he wants it, selective citations of one's own words, and a lot of insults and rhetoric (he said)left out, I'm sure the whole thing seems absurd. (8-22-09)

If all of Armstrong's work on the Reformers is geared toward proving they were at least as bad the Catholic morality of the sixteenth century, I question if such a motivation is honest, and if perhaps throwing mud on the opposition takes the spotlight off the mud on the Roman Catholic Church. If Armstrong and Ben would simply read Luther in context and write honestly, maybe they would produce better historical research. (9-13-09)

You are fundamentally dishonest, and as your mentor DA would say, . . . (9-15-09) [strongly implied]

Accusation That I Am Unethically Motivated by Filthy Lucre, Without Principle

How to Make $$ Perpetuating "a serious problem for millions of Catholics" [title of a post] (4-13-10)

If it were me that was involved in such a project, I wouldn't affiliate my work or name with a potentially problematic book. Perhaps in his zeal for a royalty check, DA didn't bother to do the necessary research for this project. . . . If one is going to claim to be a professional Roman Catholic apologist, and also continue to advertise an alleged "study Bible" that has notes that are more than problematic to the position one defends, I have to ask... why? . . . My opinion is that the NCAB is junk. The inserts are the same old pop-apologetic stuff one could find on the Internet or on the Catholic Answers website. The book is bogus: throwing in a bunch of Watchtower-esque inserts and then calling it a "study Bible" is something P.T. Barnum would've done if he were a Roman Catholic apologist. . . . Yes, of course DA would argue that. That's why he's a theologian of glory. A theologian of glory would advertise The New Catholic Answer Bible, a theologian of the cross would rather starve. . . . I could not in good conscience promote or sell a book that actually corrupted God's word . . . I would admit that I’m not worthy to sell God’s word with any of my notes, and that task should be left for those whom God has called to be Biblical scholars, not a guy who simply claims to be an apologist. How can Armstrong add stuff to a Bible, collect cash from it, when he doesn't know Hebrew and Greek? That is arrogance. (4-15-10)

I replied:

It would be ungrateful of me not to thank you for greatly blessing me:

Matthew 5:11-12a: "Blessed are you when men revile you . . . and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. [12] Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven . . . (4-16-10)

I found out another fascinating tidbit. There is such a thing as The Apologetics Study Bible: Understand why You Believe.

This also has a bunch of articles about various topics, just like The NCAB does. I suppose Swan would say (in his rush to always oppose me, no matter what) that these are scholars. Most of the dozens of contributors who wrote the articles are indeed. But many are not also.

In looking through the list many were not listed as professors from universities or seminaries; e.g., Robert Bowman, Chuck Colson, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Ron Rhodes, Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias, and eleven more that I counted. Many of these guys are lay apologists just like I am.

Some of these might possibly have advanced degrees, but some of those are not theological degrees (e.g., Colson, who was trained as a lawyer). So that is exactly the same thing we did: articles written by lay apologists. The original Bible had only my notes, but the present revised version is by myself and the editor Dr. Paul Thigpen, who is indeed a scholar (professor of theology at Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville, Georgia; degrees from Yale and Emory universities, including a Ph.D. in historical theology).

No difference here at all that would lead any rational person to conclude that one is "junk" and only an "alleged" study Bible, fit for P. T. Barnum. But because it is Catholic and I am involved, then the double standard and manifestation of asinine ignorance and hostility must occur.

Don't you have better things to do with your time, than to make an abject fool of yourself in this manner? (4-17-10)

Yet another analogous case: The Case for Christ Study Bible: Investigating the Evidence for Belief, by general editor Lee Strobel, who apparently wrote all or many of the articles. He is not formally trained theologically. Strobel was a journalist and has degrees in that field and law, not theology. So he's a lay apologist. So am I. He has books; I have books. No essential difference once again. His books sell a lot more, no doubt, but it doesn't follow that I am not also a legitimate apologist, just as he is.

The difference is: he is a Protestant and I am a Catholic, and Swan personally despises me; therefore he writes what he does about the Bible I was involved with, while he would never say the same sorts of things about these Bibles of a similar nature, which also entail lay apologists with no theological degrees participating, even editing. (4-17-10)

Insinuation That I Am Not a Legitimate Catholic Apologist (I Simply "Proclaimed" Myself to Be One)

Dave Armstrong is neither a historian nor a theologian. As far as I know, he's a guy in Michigan sitting in his attic with a computer. (4-26-07*)

. . . Dave Armstrong (a self-proclaimed Catholic apologist). (4-3-09*)

. . . a guy who simply claims to be an apologist. (4-14-09*)

For most of us, putting up blog posts is just a hobby, or a feeble attempt at "ministry" (It's so much easier to shout from a blog than than talk to your neighbor). For Mr. Armstrong, it's his profession and livelihood. Leaving blog comments and putting up blog posts is part of his profession, if not the main aspect of his profession. He doesn't do many in person appearances at your local Catholic parish, as far as I know. He's not teaching in any schools or parishes, as far as I know. He's not engaged in any public moderated debates, or hosting Catholic Answers live, as far as I know. He babysits the Coming Home forum and puts up blog posts. (8-3-09)

If someones work deserves respect, I'll give it. If though they try to pass themselves off as something they're not, I will continue to expose that work and write in such a way to show the work in question does not deserve to be taken seriously. (8-4-09)

This is a big difference between DA and I. I've never been bored. I actually have a job, . . . On the other hand, I think DA considers sitting up in his attic tapping away on a computer all day an actual job. Oh that's right, he's a professional Catholic apologist. Part of his "job" must've been to post a large number of comments on my blog throughout the day. Sorry, this isn't "a job." (7-17-09)

I fully accept the idea that someone can be a full time Catholic apologist. I don't think though, someone simply proclaims themselves to be one, at least these days. I would consider Hahn, Kreft [sic], Pacwa, professional Catholic apologists. They've been trained, and tested. A guy posting massive amounts of stupid comments on a blog is not a professional Catholic apologist. I could never justify that to my family, that's for sure. Wife comes in: Hi honey how was work today? Husband: today I spent all day posting inane blog comments and compiling a list of someone else's blog posts about me. Wife: That's great dear... how much did you get paid for doing it? Husband: well, um, err, um... (7-17-09)

I replied to these inane smears on 7-17-09 on Swan's blog: the following was removed alongside his two remarks above.

So what do you call my profession, then, seeing that I am a staff member of The Coming Home Network as Forum Coordinator and resident Network Apologist (30 hours a week), and receive royalties from six books and a pamphlet, published by Catholic publishers; also from other books on Lulu and e-books (and soon, audio books), making up the vast majority of my income?

Do you refuse me to the title of author as well? If so, on what grounds? If one writes books that are published, that are bestsellers in their field, and have been for years (books from 2002, 2003, 2004, etc.), how is that not being an author? How is it not being a professional author when it makes up a great chunk of my income? And since all those books are about apologetics, I am an author in the apologetics field, making me very much a professional apologist, whether that rankles and angers you or not.

It's a profession. It's my vocation, too. It's what I do (no matter how unqualified and undeserving you think I am). I'm an author and I am an apologist. Because I do this full-time for a living (and have since December 2001, before we ever "met"), I am a professional apologist and author, since all that means is "one who engages in x profession and gets paid for doing so."

From all that I have observed these past six years, I believe you engage in this incessant lying about my very profession because you would love to be able to devote yourself to work like this and you are unable to do it (and I also fully support a wife and four children doing it). So you try to belittle me, with your cynical mantra (expressed many times now) that I am some sort of eccentric oddball who works in an "attic" (thousands in my town sleep in "attics" by your mentality, because there are a lot of bungalows around here, and that is what my library / office is: an upper bedroom) and that all I do is deal with nattering nabobs like you all day long.

You can try to set Scott Hahn against me, but he certainly recognizes me as an apologist (with glowing words to that effect in his book, Reasons to Believe, a foreword to one of my books, an invitation to speak at the Defending the Faith conference in Steubenville, etc.). . . .

You can . . . pretend that I am merely "self-anointed" or "self-appointed," when in fact I had the support of one of the major Catholic catechists of the 20th century and candidate for possible sainthood, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., from the very beginning of my apologetic writing career (in 1991): six years before I ever had a website. Keating, Madrid, and Fr. Peter Stravinskas were aware of my work (since they published it) as early as 1993: four years before I ever had a website and before you and your cronies knew me from a hole in the ground. So was Scott Hahn, because I met him the day before I was received (on 8 February 1991), and gave him some of my writing.

Any way you look at this, you are full of hot air and can't get the facts straight to save your life, But that has never bothered you. You'll keep on saying the same stupid stuff and lies if you think it can harm my credibility and reputation. That's what you do. You've been doing that for six years, with your 110 posts: each and every one designed to somehow denigrate my work and my name.

And it is one of the many reasons I refuse to waste any of my time debating you in theology anymore. I'll only deal with you in this fashion when you promulgate lies and slanders about me in public. If that is what you want, go right ahead. Mock and lie away. We know where those characteristics come from. I recall a certain fallen angel whose name means "accuser."

And of course even this response will immediately be derisively dismissed as my supposed self-centeredness, self-obsession, narcissism, defensiveness, etc.; as if a man doesn't have a right to point out simple facts when he is being lied about and slandered (and for years on end, and publicly at that). If you insult me and bear false witness, even regarding the most important things in my life (my faith, my profession; even -- in some cases -- my family life and whether I am properly providing for my family) I will respond, and have every right to do so.

If you can't comprehend that, and think it proves mental or emotional stability, then many others will understand it. Go ahead and do it. I'll add it to my paper and you can make fools of yourselves to thousands of my readers once again, if you like. I can't prevent ludicrous, senseless behavior if you insist on doing that.

This is a simple factual matter. I make my living as an apologist and author. I have all the credentials to describe myself in that way. I don't have to have a degree in theology to be a legitimate apologist (Chesterton, Lewis, Howard, Kreeft, Muggeridge, and many others had no formal theological training; Chesterton obtained no degree at all).

In fact, historically, the most successful and influential Catholic apologists (and not a few Protestant ones, too, like Lewis) were precisely those who did not have formal theological training. So this is nothing new. If you had any inkling of the history of modern apologetics, you would know this (not that mere facts ever change your mind when you are hostile to someone).

Swan went right on insulting, as if I had written nothing:

No, I wouldn't want to be you, if it means sitting in front of computer all day, and spamming blogs with a multitude of comments, or counting someone elses blog posts mentioning my name. You can keep that job. I'm sorry it disturbs you that I don't take you or your alleged profession seriously. If you think posting comments on a blog all day and counting blog posts is an honest days work, well I can't reason with a person like that, so we'll have to agree to disagree. . . . Your work discrediting the Reformation is historical silliness.. . . you turned the other cheek, and removed all sorts of negativity against me. I remember that little heroic experiment. . . . We both know, I've caught you numerous times with bogus information. . . . If this is the work of a professional apologist, the standards are very low. (7-17-09)

I replied again:

Life is so unfair, ain't it? Here I am, dumb as a doornail, writing all these books and doing apologetics full-time (all for my own "glory" of course; I've never paid any dues to get where I'm at: we all know that, right?), and there you sit on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, so infinitely more qualified than I (as you have proven and stated again and again, beyond all conceivable doubt), and all you can do is snipe from the sidelines and make sure everyone knows that I an imbecile who has no business doing what he is doing. Doesn't it make you feel alive and important and valuable doing this? Everyone needs to have a purpose in life. Yours, apparently, is to lie about and denigrate my work and myself. (7-17-09)

And he lobbed more insults:

. . . if you were so good at what you do, a simple layman like myself would not be finding blatant errors in your professional work. . . . It's not about "qualifications" it's about being accurate. Luckily for you, most people probably don't care to look at your "professional" work closely. . . . Don't worry Dave, most people who like what you do will just take your word for whatever you post. You can keep building your empire.. . . I review your work from time to time, until you spam my blog or want to talk about YOU. You post something ridiculous, which will at times, provoke a response from me, time allowing. (7-17-09)

Armstrong considers himself a "professional apologist." Any "professional" should know the importance of context. (2-26-10)

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The main people who believe all these lies are already in the anti-Catholic camp, and will believe anything that is said about a Catholic. That's been proven again and again, and there is little or nothing I can do about it. They are presently beyond reason. Doing this continues to harm James Swan's reputation, not mine. If he can't see that, then I will help him to see it by posting it for one and all to see, in hopes that it will jar him into ethical reality, or cause one or more of his followers to urge him to do so. This is the New Testament practice of putting pressure on someone so that they will repent of their sins.

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