Apologetics for the Masses #237 - Blue Collar Apologetics (cont'd)

Bible Christian Society

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General Comments

Hey folks,

The response to my proposal to do some sort of apologetics seminar was so overwhelmingly positive, that I have decided to travel down that path.  So, I am going to work on developing just such a seminar this summer and will be happy to talk to folks who would like to have one in their city/town/parish beginning this Fall.  I haven't planned out every single detail of how it will work, and I don't really intend to, as I want to leave some flexibility for parishes or groups to structure this in a way that suits them best.  Plus, I want to allow for this thing to kind of grow and develop on its own as I start doing it.  But, I do have a baseline of what I'm thinking of doing, in general, and that is as follows (and I'm always open to feedback/ideas/suggestions):

1) Asking the sponsoring parish or parishes (or organization) to guarantee a baseline of $2500 plus expenses (travel/hotel/food), which will then be reduced by the fees paid by participants (see #2).  That allows the parish to cover all of the expenses, and charge nothing, or supplement part of the fee, or anything else along those lines.  This also allows parishes to go in together on this venture, reducing the potential cost to any one parish.  It also gives the pastor(s) an incentive to really push the seminar with his folks, as the more people who attend, the less the cost to the parish.  If enough people attend, the cost to the parish could be $0.00.  

2) The suggested fee will be $50/person, with a discounted price of $25 for a 2nd family member, and $10 to cover all other family members.  So, a family of 3 comes for $85, and a family of 10 comes for $85.  Some suggested that $50/person was too much.  Others suggested it was too little.  There are similar seminars out there that will cost you up to around $400 per person, with no discounts for additional family members.  The undeniable fact is, though, I need to charge a certain amount in order to be able to support my family and to cover the expenses (binders with outlines/notes; CD's, etc.).  But, I am always willing to work with parishes to do what I can to get this seminar to them regardless of their circumstances.  

3) This seminar will be appropriate for adults, young adults, and teens.  I think kids from middle school age on up will be able to benefit from these seminars.  I've had parents tell me that their kids as young as 8 or 9-yrs. old have learned from my materials and have even sometimes used them to successfully evangelize their elementary school peers.  It should be great for homeschoolers.

4) The seminar will be a Friday night and all day Saturday (8:30 - 3:30 or 9:00 - 4:00 or something along those lines).  It will involve me talking, me listening, me answering questions, me asking you questions, me posing situations for you to see what you would do and say, you giving me situations to see what I would do and say.  This seminar is not just for me to talk to you and you listen, it is for you to learn certain principles and methods and then learn how to apply those to your given situation.  I will give answers/strategies/tactics that will involve common sense and simple logic, and then build on those with Scripture.  So, whether you know a lot of Scripture or very little Scripture, whether you've engaged a number of times with non-Catholics or never at all, my goal is for you to learn something from this seminar.  I want you to come out of this seminar with new knowledge, but also with something else - confidence.  Confidence to go out and evangelize and win souls for Christ and His bride - the Church.  

5) Some have suggested that I do a web-based seminar with videos and such, but the practical reality is that I simply do not have the resources to do such a thing (we operate on a very small budget here at the Bible Christian Society - I'm the only employee and my wife volunteers to do all of the CD dubbing and mailing and bookkeeping and such).  Maybe I can eventually work towards something like that if this proves successful, but it isn't going to happen right off the bat.  

So, those are my thoughts, but as I said, nothing is set in concrete right now.  If you have any suggestions, thoughts, ideas as to how to make this work, and work well...I would be interested in hearing them.  And, if you're interested in having this seminar at your parish, wherever you are in these United States, talk to your pastor - and/or neighboring pastor(s) - and see what he says.  If he is interested, or if you can get a group or organization interested, either you or the pastor shoot me an email and we'll talk about it.  


More from my book - Blue Collar Apologetics....

Blue Collar Apologetics - Chapter 3 (cont'd)

Solo vs. Sola Scriptura Round 2
Again, as I mentioned above, I have been told, on two, maybe three, occasions, that the definition of Sola Scriptura that I gave above, and that I will use throughout this book, of Scripture being the sole rule of faith for the Christian, or the sole authority for the Christian in matters of faith and morals, is actually a definition of something called Solo Scriptura, not Sola Scriptura.  I have been told that the distinction between the two is very important, and that I am quite wrong, and quite ignorant, to confuse these two terms.

I want to discuss the supposed difference between the two one more time and give a few more arguments for why there is, essentially, no difference between Solo and Sola Scriptura.  

So, what’s the supposed difference between Sola and Sola Scriptura?  Solo Scriptura, according to these folks, is the belief that Scripture is the only authority, period, for the Christian on matters of faith and morals.   Sola Scriptura, however, according to these folks, is the belief that Scripture is the only infallible authority for the Christian when it comes to faith and morals.  So, according to these Sola Scriptura purists, there is authority within Christianity other than Scripture - the authority of the church, Church councils, tradition, the Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, and Chalcedonian Creed), and so on - but since Scripture is the only infallible authority, that makes it the ultimate authority in Christianity, with all other authority being subordinate to the authority of Scripture.  

This definition of Sola Scriptura allows the folks who believe in it to get around, so they think, some of the arguments from Catholics against Sola Scriptura, like those I made earlier in the section about the perspective on Sola Scriptura provided by logic.  But, does it really?

There are problems with this distinction between Solo and Sola Scriptura that make it, in reality, a distinction without a difference.  First of all, why do I, as a Catholic, use the definition of Sola Scriptura that I gave above?  I use it because that is the definition that I have learned from...guess who?  Protestants.  The definition of Sola Scriptura that the vast majority of the Protestants I have talked with over the years - which is probably a couple of thousand or so - is that Scripture is the sole authority for Christians in all matters regarding faith and morals.  Period.  Forget about the church.  Forget about tradition.  Forget about anything else other than the Bible.  Oh, yes, there are other types of authority in Protestantism, for example, the pastor has the authority to buy a new stove for the church kitchen, or the deacons have the authority to hire a new pastor, and so on, but the only authority one need to consult on matters of faith and morals is the Bible, according to the vast majority of Protestants I have talked with.  

These few Protestants I’ve heard from who accuse me of using a faulty definition of Sola Scriptura readily admit that the definition I use is indeed the working definition for a majority of Protestants today.  They told me, though, that the vast majority of Protestants are wrong in what they believe about Sola Scriptura.  So I told them their problem, then, is with their fellow Protestants, and not with me.  I also asked them what authority they claim to have that they can tell me their definition of Sola Scriptura is the “real” definition of Sola Scriptura, since a whole lot of their fellow Protestants disagree with them.  After all, who within Protestantism, gets to define such things?  The response I received to that question was quite intriguing.  They told me that their definition of Sola Scriptura, versus what they describe as Solo Scriptura, is the “classical definition” as used by the “Reformers.”  

Oh, the definition of Sola Scriptura as used by the “Reformers.”  Do you see the problem here?  The Sola Scriptura purists can trace their definition of Sola Scriptura all the way back to the teaching of the “Reformers,” i.e., Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli, and so forth.  It is the “classical Reformation” teaching on the matter.  I was never told it was the classical Thomist teaching on Sola Scriptura.  Or the classical Augustinian teaching on Sola Scriptura.  Or the classical Patristic teaching on Sola Scriptura. No, it was always the “classical Reformation” teaching on Sola Scriptura.  Which tells me that the Protestant teaching on Sola Scriptura that these purists hold to, can be traced back to the 1500's.  Go figure.

Another problem with this Solo vs. Sola Scriptura distinction, is that the folks who make this distinction actually argue with me as if Scripture is indeed the only authority on matters of faith and morals.  In other words, they may talk about other types of authority in Christianity besides Scripture, but when it comes down to arguing matters of doctrine with Catholics, what do they do?  They tell the Catholic that if it isn’t found in Scripture, then it can’t be an authentic Christian belief.  I have never, ever - EVER! - had a Protestant appeal to the authority of the Church, or to a Church Council, or to tradition, or to one of the Ecumenical Creeds to tell me I was wrong.  Never!  

I have never had anyone tell me that some Catholic belief is contrary to one of the Ecumenical Creeds, or to one of the Church Councils, or to tradition, or anything of the sort.  The one and only question I get is: “Where is that in the Bible?”  And, should I appeal to Tradition, or to a Church Council, or to Church authority, I am always and forever told, “That’s not from the Bible, so I don’t have to accept it because it holds no authority.”  In other words, on the one hand, some folks try to make a distinction between Solo and Sola Scriptura, but when it comes down to it, they argue from a Solo Scriptura position - as they define it - that Scripture is the only authority in all matters pertaining to Christian doctrine and morals.  So, they may say that Scripture is not the only authority in matters of doctrine and morals, but they certainly act as if it is indeed the only authority in matters of doctrine and morals.  At least, it’s the only authority they ever appeal to.

Finally, one last problem with this whole Solo vs. Sola Scriptura thing.  In one of the major articles I’ve seen arguing that this distinction between Solo and Sola Scriptura is a real and important distinction - an article written by a gentleman named Keith Mathison, who has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary - the author emphasized how Solo Scriptura, as opposed to Sola Scriptura, “...undermines the legitimate ecclesiastical authority established by Christ. It negates the duty to submit to those who rule over you, because it removes the possibility of an authoritative teaching office in the Church.”  

Uhmm...doesn’t that pretty much describe what Martin Luther did?  He undermined the “legitimate ecclesiastical authority established by Christ.”  And, he did not “submit to those who rule[d] over [him],” and he rejected the “authoritative teaching office of the Church.”  So, cannot one argue that Martin Luther was a believer in, and practitioner of, Solo Scriptura?  

I could go on for another few pages with more arguments on this matter, but I think what I’ve written so far will suffice to prove my point: The distinction between Solo vs. Sola Scriptura is a distinction without a difference.  Folks can argue all they want about some theoretical difference between the two, but when it comes down to it, there is no practical difference between the two, which is why the vast majority of Protestants hold to the definition of Sola Scriptura that I have given above, and which is why I will use that definition throughout this book.  

I keep wondering how it is any Protestant who holds to the ideals of the “Reformation,” can  claim to believe that there is any authority other than Scripture, whether it be the authority of the Church or of tradition, when Martin Luther himself rejected and undermined that authority and did not adhere to his “duty to submit to those who rule over you?”  


I hope all of you have a wonderful Memorial Day holiday, and please remember to say some prayers for the repose of the souls of all those who have died in the service of their country since 1775.


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Apologetics for the Masses