Apologetics for the Masses #222 - Blue Collar Apologetics

Bible Christian Society

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General Comments

Hey folks,

Two things:

1) Next weekend (October 25/26) I will be in Wilmington, North Carolina for a talk and a couple of debates.  If you're in the area, I'd love to have you come out for one or more of the events.  You can find all the information you need about what, where, and when at this site: http://www.wilmingtoncatholicradio.com/.  Hope to see you there...

2) Check out the new "Radio" page on our website: www.biblechristiansociety.com.  It has the podcasts of my new radio program, "Balaam's Ride - the Edge of Catholic Radio."  Only a few episodes so far: Is Billy Graham Be Saved?  Questions Protestants Can't Answer - parts 1 and 2.  And, the Rapture.  And, you can click the box on the Balaam's Ride page and subscribe to the show through iTunes!  I hope you'll listen and enjoy!


Okay, I started writing a book a couple of years ago - a book that I was putting in this newsletter as I was writing it - but the effort just sort of fizzled out.  I wasn't happy with the way it was going, so I pretty much dropped it after getting a few chapters done.  Well, I have new purpose and new energy and some new thoughts in regard to writing this book, so I'm going to give it another shot.  So, here's the intent: to write this book piece-by-piece using this newsletter as its launching platform, and then, once I've finished the book, send it off to a publisher to see if they would want to put it all together to offer to the general public.  But, you'll essentially be getting it for free - although, I would love for you to actually buy the finished copy should it ever actually be published - just so you have it all in one place.  In fact, I'll probably offer (again, assuming it makes it that far) pre-sales to my loyal readers at a discount (if allowed to do so by the publisher).

This book is going to be different from the last one I started in that it is going to focus as much on how to "do" apologetics, as it does on the apologetics themselves.  I don't know if that makes sense or not, but hopefully my intent will become clear as we go through this.  What I am envisioning is different from anything that I have seen out there before.  It will draw from my talks and my newsletters, but also will include things that I don't think you can find in either...at least, not put together in the way I am going to put them together.  Oh, I plan to call the book: "Blue Collar Apologetics," with a subtitle: "Apologetics for the Average Catholic in the Pews," or something along those lines.

So, I hope you enjoy this little adventure in book writing of mine, and I hope you will give me some good feedback as to whether or not the things I write are actually making sense.  The book may not end up in the exact order as which I write these newsletters, because it might be that once I've written something down, I realize it would fit better somewhere else, but it should be pretty close.  Let's begin with the Introduction:

Blue Collar Apologetics - Introduction

This book is being written for the average Catholic sitting in the pew at any given Mass.  Most Catholics know a lot of the "what" of the Catholic Faith, but not necessarily a lot of the "why" of the Catholic Faith.  We know, for the most part, what we do and what we believe, but we're not always clued in to why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe.  This is because, over the last 40-50 years or so, catechesis in the Catholic Church has not been nearly as good as it could have been in teaching the ins and outs of our faith.

Which is why so many Catholics have left the Faith.  I have seen a number of different studies that show Catholics as being the largest single faith grouping in the United States.  Care to hazard a guess as to what the second largest grouping is?  Former Catholics.  Whether they have simply stopped going to church altogether or they have left to join a non-Catholic Christian faith tradition or have left Christianity completely for Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, New Age, or some such other religion, former Catholics are more numerous than any other single faith tradition in this country, other than Catholics. 

But, even among those who currently identify themselves as Catholic, only a relatively small percentage of them attend Mass on a weekly basis.  I have seen studies that suggest around 20%, or maybe as high as 33%, of those who self-identify as Catholics regularly attend Mass.  A number of these people could be classified as "cultural" Catholics.  They are Catholic because their family - parents, grandparents, and so on - were Catholic.  For them, attending the Catholic Church has more to do with the culture they were raised in, and a certain level of comfort that they experience, than in them actually believing what the Church teaches.

In both of these cases, for those who have left the Catholic Church, or for those who are still in the Church but not "all in," and possibly just hanging on by a thread, I believe the problem generally lies in a lack of catechesis.  They were never properly taught as children, or as adults, why we Catholics do what we do and why we believe what we believe.  And if you don't know why the Church teaches what it does on the Eucharist, on Confession and the other Sacraments, on salvation, on Mary, on contraception, on homosexuality, on same sex unions, on marriage, and all of the other articles of faith and morality, then what incentive do you have to stay?  If you don't know the reasons why the Church teaches what it does, then you cannot know how important what the Church teaches is.  And, if you don't know the importance of what the Church teaches, of how it matters to you - not just in this lifetime but the next - then, again, what incentive do you have to stick around?

This lack of catechesis which results in people leaving the Church, or in being merely cultural Catholics, is oftentimes also behind the phenomenon of the "cafeteria" Catholic.  A cafeteria Catholic is one who picks and chooses which articles of Catholic teaching they will accept, and which they will reject, in the same manner someone picks and chooses what they will eat for lunch while going through the line at the cafeteria.  "I'll have some of that...no, none of that, thank you...yes I'll take that...oh, no, I don't like that at all," and so on.  They accept a dogma or a doctrine here and there and reject a dogma or a doctrine here or there.  A cafeteria Catholic usually is, however, bound and determined not to leave the Catholic Church.  "Nobody is going to tell me what I have to believe and nobody is going to force me to leave my church - it's just as much mine as it is yours!" 

So, you might be asking yourself, what does a book entitled, "Blue Collar Apologetics," have to do with all of that?  Well, it is my hope that this little book might be able to turn things around, even if just a little bit.  No, I do not hold to any delusion that this book is the be all and end all of apologetics books.  I always get a chuckle when I come across the claims of authors, or maybe their publishers, that say their book will, "End abortion as we know it."  Or that "If you are going to read just one book about your faith this year, it should be this book."  Or that this book, "Is going to rock the Church!"

No such grandiose claims on behalf of this book by me.  I will, however, make a couple of smaller claims about this book.  First of all, much of it is at a level that can be understood by children of middle school age, and maybe even younger; yet, I believe adults will not find it childish.  Secondly, if you, as an average Catholic sitting out there in the pews, read and digest the material in this book, if you make it your own, you will have a better understanding of the "why" of the Catholic Faith, and will be much more capable of explaining and defending that Faith when called upon to do so.  Not to mention being less nervous about doing so.

You see, I use apologetics as a tool, first and foremost, not for the evangelization of non-Catholics, but for the catechesis of Catholics.  As you learn to explain and defend the Faith, which is what apologetics is all about, you are actually learning about the Faith in a deeper way.  You can't explain what you do not know.  You can't defend that which you cannot explain.  Through apologetics, you are learning not just the what of the Faith, but also the why.  Blue Collar Apologetics is, if it accomplishes the purpose I am trying to accomplish, a first step...an introduction if you will...in helping folks - Catholic and non-Catholic alike - to better understand the why of the Catholic Faith.

That is how it relates to the groups that I mentioned above - whether "former" Catholic, "cultural" Catholic, or "cafeteria" Catholic - the main disconnect in all of these groups with the Catholic Church is the lack of understanding, truly understanding, why the Church teaches what it teaches.  That is where I hope this book will make a difference - helping folks to understand the why. 

First, I want you to understand the why.  Then, I want you to share what you've learned with others and to share this book with others.  Do you know of some cafeteria Catholics?  Maybe you know of some Catholics - possibly even family members - who have fallen away from the Church and are now attending services in some non-Catholic Christian faith tradition?  Or, perhaps you know of someone who is still Catholic, but they are wavering.  Maybe they've been invited by a friend or co-worker to a "worship service" at this or that denomination.  Maybe they're questioning what they thought they knew.  Read this book and then talk to them, ask them questions, help them to see that the truth is right in front of them and they don't really want to leave it.  Plant a seed.  

Basically, that's all this book is about - planting seeds.  Planting a seed that will be a jumping off point to start delving into your Faith more deeply.  Planting a seed that will help you be better prepared to share your Faith.  Planting a seed that will cause you to get comfortable with "talking Bible" to our separated brothers and sisters in Christ.  And, planting a seed that will inoculate you from the arguments made by those who are trying to pull you out of the Church - whether well-meaning but misguided fellow Christians who are simply trying to "save your soul," or by materialists and atheists and such who believe the Church is archaic, hostile to "progress," and needs to simply be done away with.

This book is also not about something - it is not about trying to "prove" anything to anybody.  I merely offer evidence...I offer arguments...for one to ponder.  It is the Holy Spirit who changes the hearts and minds of men, not me.  My job, our job, is again, to merely throw out the seeds. 

One last thing: I would caution you that if you are looking for deep theology or deep philosophy or any such thing, you will not find it here.  If you want a book that takes you five minutes to read a single page because it is so deep and so erudite, you do not want this book.  I try to use common sense, simple logic, and a decent bit of Scripture to accomplish my task.  If you want simple, straight forward, easy to understand, and to the point, that's what I hope I have given you in the following pages. 




Okay, that's my Introduction.  Not too long - I hate long Introductions in books - and I hope this gives folks a fairly clear understanding as to what it is I am trying to accomplish with this book.  And, before anyone asks or volunteers, I do have an editor already, so I'm sure what gets written in these newsletters will not be exactly like the finished product, although it should be fairly close. 

I hope all of you have a great week.

Apologetics for the Masses