Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Have You Thanked a Catholic Apologist Today?

Four hours with a Master Catholic Apologist - Teófilo (Theophilus) @ Vivificat writes of his encounter with Dave Armstrong (of the website Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, a treasury of Catholic links and information, and a prolific writer of Catholic apologetics) in Detroit:

It is easy to form opinions of people from what one reads on-line. Many times, literary personalities are quite different from one's live persona. That has happened to me, and as a matter of personal policy, I myself try not to fall into the same error.

This is an error many fall into when it comes to Dave, since he rises to any challenges against the Catholic faith coming his way. He's exhaustive, punctilious and for most of his adversaries, quite aggravating. He's the Catholic that no one can seem to shut up, and this grates on the nerves of anti-Catholic controversialists, whether of the scholarly kind, or of demagogues, bigots, and sophists. Dave will perform a real analysis of their postulates, atomize their arguments into individual thought components, and judge every single one individually on its merits, and also within their literary context. Anti-Catholics lose patience very quickly under this kind of scrutiny; many of them escape it by attacking Dave personally.

Yet the man is completely unassuming, a simple soul, living simply with no pretensions at anything. I would say that his is a monastic life of work, prayer, and vast amounts of writing. . . .

Some people are inclined to dismiss Catholic apologetics as a divisive venture, one to be subordinated to the call of Christian unity as we bask in the warm fuzzies of post-Vatican II ecumenicism. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that while some good Protestants are involved in ecumenical dialogue with his Catholic neighbor, there are others who are engaged in fierce opposition with the Church, bitter opponents who would like nothing better than to see a soul forsake the Catholic faith. (Those who are curious need only turn to Karl Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism for an introduction).

In an Envoy profile of "The Catholic Answers Man", Karl Keating notes that we live in a time where many Catholics do not benefit from a Catholic education, and where even those that do are insufficiently taught. "If people were getting all the answers they needed from the pulpit, there would be no need for a lay organization such as Catholic Answers." In the event that they find themselves facing Protestants or non-Christians in conversation on issues of Catholic doctrine, Catholics all-too-often find themselves woefully unprepared.

It is in responding to Protestant apologists and anti-Catholic "ministries" that these Catholic apologists, many of them converts themselves, are of benefit -- people like Dave Armstrong, Mark Shea, Peter Vere, Scott Hahn, Karl Keating, James Akin, Patrick Madrid, Art Sippo, the people behind websites like Catholic Answers and Envoy. They perform a necessary witness, and one greatly underappreciated. It's not easy writing an article, much less a book -- and I can only admire their patience and dedication they put into their work.

So, I will take this momen tin joining Teófilo in expressing my thanks for Dave Armstrong and the many other Catholic Apologists who serve Christ and His Church, online and in print.

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