This interview took place in 2013 with Catholic writer and apologist David Armstrong.
Who is Dave Armstrong?
Catholic, Catholic apologist, author, family man, and fun-loving guy!
What were your experiences as a Campus missionary?
I shared the gospel (as an evangelical Protestant) and tried to demonstrate that Christianity was compatible with reason. I didn’t seem to accomplish much in that period (1985-1989), and it ended up as a failure (or so I thought at the time), but you never know who may be affected in some way.
As an Evangelical Christian, what was your understanding of Sola Fide?
I believed that one was saved and justified by faith alone, and that works are what one does in gratification for the salvation already supposedly obtained once and for all (formal separation of sanctification from justification): standard evangelical (Arminian) soteriology . . .
Why is Sola Fide so popular among Protestants?
I think it’s because they wrongly believe that we teach salvation by works, and they are reacting against that. But in practical “everyday life” terms, the two belief-systems work out the same way: both hold to salvation by grace alone, and the notion that works are absolutely necessary in the Christian life (over against the heresies of antinomianism and Pelagianism)
Is Sola Fide the Gospel?
No. According to the Bible, the gospel is the life, atoning death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ: the “good news”. He died for us so that we can obtain eternal life through His blood, by grace through faith (yet not excluding works in the overall equation, since :”faith without works is dead”)
What was your view on Catholicism in your Evangelical days?
I accepted it as Christian (was never anti-Catholic) but with a lot of flaws and nominalism, and far inferior to evangelicalism. I came to respect its moral teaching more and more as time went on.
Why did you become a Roman Catholic?
1) Because only the Catholic Church upheld the prohibition of contraception as mortal sin, which was believed by all Christians of all sorts until 1930. This was the first issue where I changed my mind.
2) Studying Cardinal Newman’s development of doctrine convinced me that Catholicism alone could make sense of the course of Christian history and history of Christian doctrine. It demonstrated historical continuity and fully explained why the Church looks different today in many respects, compared to the early Church.
3) My study of the 16th century conflicts from both sides showed me that the Catholic arguments were superior. The so-called “Protestant reformation” was actually a revolt and a revolution, and it was on altogether inadequate grounds.
You are an author and Catholic apologist. What inspires you?
Great Catholic saints and minds through the centuries, and the thought that sharing the message of the gospel and fullness of Catholicism actually plays a role in transforming people’s lives, through God’s grace (always): leading to happier, more fulfilled and rewarding lives in service to God.
What books would you like to recommend for both Catholics and non-Catholics?
Lots there. See my several lists of recommendations on this page:
Why should anyone become a Catholic?
Because it’s true. That’s the bottom line. What is true is also good and is the best route to go, in all respects.
Your final thought.
All glory to God! I’m humbled that he uses anything I do to try to influence another human being. It’s an unspeakable privilege and honor to pass along His message, through His Church. God is good! He loves us! He has a plan for all of us!
Dave Armstrong became a Catholic in 1991; conversion story in Surprised by Truth (1994). Articles: The Catholic Answer, This Rock, Envoy, & others. Many radio appearances incl. Catholic Answers Live, Faith & Family Live, and Catholic Connection. Website since February 1997: nearly 2,500 papers (including 50+ “index” pages). Sophia Institute Press has published five of my 39 books: A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (2003), The Catholic Verses (2004), The One-Minute Apologist (2007), Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths (2009), & The Quotable Newman (editor: 2012). Co-author (w Dr. Paul Thigpen) of The New Catholic Answer Bible (Our Sunday Visitor: 2005), editor for The Wisdom of Mr. Chesterton (Saint Benedict Press: 2009) & author of 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura (Catholic Answers, 2012). The Quotable Wesley will be published by Beacon Hill Press in Fall 2013. Happily married to Judy (Oct. 1984) with 4 children. Residence: metro Detroit (Michigan). His website is Biblical Catholicism.