Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #181

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Alright, back in the saddle again.

I want to give you a heads-up about a book I’ve been reading. The book is “Extreme Makeover,” by Teresa Tomeo. The subtitle is, “Women Transformed by Christ Not Conformed to the Culture.” Are you a woman, or do you have a woman – wife or daughter or girlfriend – in your life? If so, I recommend this book to you. When I’m done with it, I’ll be giving it to my wife. And, I plan on eventually giving it to my daughter to read. She’s only in 6th grade right now, and because of some of the topics discussed in the book, I don’t plan on giving it to her until sometime in high school. But, she definitely needs to read this book when she’s old enough.

Teresa does a very good job of mixing Church teaching with data drawn from research on societal and media trends to give women plenty of reason to be transformed by Christ and not by the culture. So, again, I recommend it for all women, especially the younger women (around age 16 or 17 and up) and I also recommend it to men, so that they can speak on such things to the women in their life. Particularly if you are a father with young daughters who may not be ready to read the book, you can use what’s in the book to talk to them about various topics relating to the way women are viewed by our culture.

The book is put out by Ignatius Press and you can get it at their website, but you can get it for several dollars less at Amazon.com.


A few of the comments that I received after asking in the last newsletter for suggestions as to what my “Priority #3” should be for 2012 – Priority #1 being to get some new talks recorded and #2 to get the newsletter out more often – were that I should make my newsletters shorter. 2 or 3 people said that they couldn’t read my newsletters in one sitting.

Well, my first thought in response is that it is pert near impossible to adequately address matters theological in a sound bite fashion. The majority of my newsletters, when printed out, are probably what, 5 or 6 pages long or so? Unfortunately, our culture has raised up a generation of folks who get “bored” by reading articles longer than a few paragraphs. And, while I can do a few paragraphs when answering a particular question, there is no way I can do just a few paragraphs when responding point-by-point to someone else’s article trashing this or that Catholic teaching or when participating in a “dialogue” with a non-Catholic. So, I’ll just say that if any of my newsletters are too long to be read in one sitting, then just print it out, put it in the bathroom, and read it in two or more sittings…

But, lest I be thought completely indifferent to those requests, I thought I would make this newsletter a bit shorter and something not so theologically weighty. I often have people send me several rounds of an email exchange they are having with a Protestant, and ask me to read through it all and give them some pointers or tell them what to say next and so forth. I also get any number of questions sent from people who have been asked those same questions by a fallen-away family member or maybe a Protestant co-worker, and they ask me to answer the question for them. Or, I often have people send me a Scripture verse or two and ask me to tell them what it means.

Unfortunately, I simply do not have the time and resources to respond to all of these folks. I wish I did, but I just don’t. I could literally spend all day long answering questions and giving advice, but if I did that my family would go hungry and we would be living on the street.

Which is one reason I started this newsletter. Years ago I would spend as much as 4 or 5 hours a day answering individual questions from people or giving individual advice, but no money was coming in from such apologetics consulting with which to pay the bills. So, I started asking these folks if they could make a donation to the Bible Christian Society when they would send me a question, or ask for advice, but I got some very angry responses about how dare I ask for money when it came to helping people with matters of religion. So, I couldn’t win. If I answered questions and gave advice all day, my family would starve. If I ask for money for my advice, I get hammered. What was one to do?

Start a newsletter. Start a newsletter so I could reach large numbers of people with answers to a lot of their common questions and give advice as to how to handle certain situations that seemed to be common experiences for many people. It worked, at least, for a while. But, as the number of folks receiving the newsletter increased, the number of questions and requests for advice that I receive has slowly climbed back up into the hundreds, if not thousands each year.

So, since I cannot answer all of the requests, I thought I would use one of these newsletters to tell you where I go when I have a question. I thought that if I point you in the direction of the resources that I use, it will hopefully help many of you to find an answer on your own to at least some of the questions that you have. Which is a good thing, as generally, when you have found an answer on your own, it sticks with you longer.

So, below is a listing of some of the resources that I use when I am doing my research. I hope it helps you to increase your knowledge of the faith and your ability to engage others about the faith.


Okay, here are some of the main resources I use when researching a particular topic related to the faith:

www.newadvent.org – I love this website.  The home page has all sorts of articles and blogs and such from folks on current topics, but the thing I use it most for is the Catholic Encyclopedia.  On the home page click on the "Encyclopedia" tab in the upper right of the page.  Then, pick a topic and get to reading.  If you want to learn more about Catholic teaching on justification, for example, click on the "J," and then scroll down until you come to "Justification."  They have articles on just about every topic related to the faith that you can think of: Purgatory, Inquisition, Galileo, Masons, any number of saints, Sacraments, and on and on and on.  The articles use lots of Scripture, quotes from Councils, magisterial documents, and so forth.  If you have a question about a particular topic related to the Church, start here.

Also, this site lists the full text of hundreds of the writings of the Early Church Fathers.  Want to read something by St. Justin Martyr, Augustine, Ambrose, Chrysostom, and a lot of other folks who you may not even have heard of?  Just click on the "Fathers" tab from the home page and then proceed to feast on the accumulated spiritual writings of the Church.  In addition, they have Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, an online Bible, and a library of Church documents.

www.catholic.com – This is Catholic Answers website.  I cannot say enough good things about this site, especially since they revamped their home page in the recent past.  What I use this site for, more than anything else, is all of the "This Rock" articles they have there.  "This Rock" is their apologetics magazine that they’ve been publishing for a number of years now.  And they have all of the articles from their past issues posted on this site.  To access any of these articles on a particular topic, just type a key word or words into the search engine on the home page.  When the search comes up, you will have the choice of clicking on results from a view different categories: "Entire Site," "Magazine Articles," "Quick Questions," and so on.  First check out the responses from the "Magazine Articles," then, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, try the "Quick Questions" and the "Tracts" categories. 

Also, they have a lot of good written and audio resources you can order from the "Shop" page.  You want something on the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses?  Go to the "Shop" page and type those key words into the search engine and you’ll have the opportunity to acquire some really good resources on those topics, or many other topics as well.

www.biblechristiansociety.com – In addition to the free CDs and mp3 downloads, the "Apologetics for the Masses" newsletter, and the "Two-Minute Apologetics," there are a couple of very valuable resource tools on our site that you need to know about and use.  Under the ‘Resources" headline on the home page, click on the "Haydock Bible Commentary."  This is an online commentary on the Douay-Rheims Bible.  The language can be a little trying at times, but I think most people can understand the vast majority of it.  I receive so many questions about what this or that verse of Scripture means.  Well, you don’t have to ask me anymore, you can go to this online Catholic commentary and get the answer.  Or, if you want to spend some money to buy a commentary, I recommend any and all of the following: 1) Scott Hahn’s New Testament Bible Commentary – lots of good stuff in here.  2) The Navarre Bible Commentary.  This comes in a number of different volumes (or in a condensed New Testament version).  You can get the Condensed New Testament version on the "Recommended Reading" page of this website, but you can get it cheaper on www.amazon.com.  You can also get the individual volumes for a good price at amazon.com.  3) A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, by Orchard.  This was put out in the 50’s, and is excellent.  Every Catholic needs to have a good Catholic scriptural commentary available to them when reading Scripture – it really helps.

The other valuable resource on my site that you need to make use of is on the "Links" page. It is the "Greek/Hebrew Bible Tools," link.  This tool opens the world of Greek and Hebrew to the layman.  I have often been confronted by a Protestant with something along the lines of, "Well, the Greek words behind the text do not fit with your interpretation of that text," or some such challenge to the "Catholic" interpretation of a particular Bible passage.  Well, since I don’t read Greek, how do I deal with that?  I deal with it by using this particular website. 

Let me run you through an example so that you have an idea of what a great tool this can be in your conversations with non-Catholics, but also in your own personal study of Scripture.  Go to the "Links" page on my site and click on the "Greek/Hebrew Bible Tools" link.  After doing that, you’ll see a box on this site that allows you to do a search on any passage of the Bible.  So, let’s do John 6:53-54.  So, put "John" in the "Book" column.  "6" in the "Chapter" column.  Then, un-click the box that says "All verses," unless you want to see every verse in John 6.  Next, put "53" and "54" in the "Start" and "End" columns, respectively.  Now, make sure to check the box that says, "Show Strong’s numbers," and then click on "Get Verses." 

You’ll see those two verses and almost every word will have a number in brackets next to it.  Those numbers represent Greek words.  So, let’s examine, just as an example, the word "eat" in both verses.  And note, that the Bible verses on this website, since it is a Protestant website, are all from the King James Version.  Now, notice that in verse 53, the word "eat" is associated with #5315. However, in verse 54, the word "eat," or "eateth," is associated with #5176. So, write both of those numbers down, and then go back one page to where you began.  Scroll down that page until you see the box that says, "Enter a Strong’s Number."  Put the #5315 into that box, click on the "Greek" circle, and hit "Search." 

Once you do that, you should come to a page that gives you the pronunciation and meaning of the Greek word, "esthio," which means, "to eat."  And, if you scroll down, you will see everywhere in the New Testament that Greek word is used.  Now, go back one page and plug in 5176 and hit "Search."  This time, you get the Greek word, "trogo," which means, "to gnaw."  So, we see that in the Greek, Jesus not only said to "eat" His body and drink His blood in verse 53, but He got even more specific in verse 54 when He said to "gnaw" on His body.  So, you see how this Greek/Hebrew Bible tool can aid in your understanding of Scripture and help you to respond intelligently to those who throw Greek words at you – as if they are Greek scholars or some such thing.  As a little warning, however, don’t get carried away with this tool and let yourself start thinking that you are a Greek scholar and start going all crazy quoting Greek and Hebrew and such to any Protestants you might be talking with.  Use it for your own personal study and to respond when someone talks about "the Greek behind the text," but don’t push it too far.

You can repeat this same process with every verse in the Bible – Old Testament and New.  You just have to remember to click "Hebrew" for Old Testament words, and "Greek" for New Testament words.  And, again, you get to see how the word is pronounced, its meaning, and where else it is used in the Bible.  All-in-all, a very useful tool for Bible study and for engaging in discussions about the faith.  Well, those are a few of the main resources that I have used to answer your questions and to respond intelligently, and in a manner that is faithful to the Scripture and the Church, to anyone who challenges Church teaching, regardless of the topic. 

So, that’s it for now.  I’m hopping on a plane early Saturday morning to fly up to D.C. for the March for Life.  We all need to pray continually for an end to this national disgrace of legalized abortion.  

In Conclusion

Well, I hope that those resources help you in your studies to learn more about the faith and help you to better share the faith. I also hope it cuts down on the number of questions and requests for individual advice that I get. If I were independently wealthy, I would be happy to spend hour after hour responding to all the emails, but I’m not, so I can’t. But, I still feel bad when someone writes needing help. I want to be able to answer, but my kids also want to be able to eat. So, for those who often send in questions and ask for help, I hope that between the newsletter and these resources above, you’ll be able to up the level a bit of what you’re capable and confident of doing, and I hope you’ll understand why I generally cannot reply on an individual basis.

How to be added to, or removed from, the list

If this newsletter was forwarded to you by a friend, and you would like to be added to our distribution list, all you have to do is go to www.biblechristiansociety.com and click on the “Newsletter” page to sign up. It will take you about 10 seconds.


Apologetics for the Masses