Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Bishop Calls for Catholic Apologetics

I am just reading through a copy of the latest document from Bishop O'Donohue, "Fit for Mission? Church", and the good bishop has made one of the most sensible suggestions I've seen from a member of the English hierarchy: to renew Catholic apologetics.

An urgent demand of the times is that we encourage and foster members of the Catholic faithful to become apologists with the knowledge and courage to proclaim the rationality and beauty of our Catholic faith. The question of God’s existence is again a popular topic due to polemical works from writers such as Richard Dawkins. This is a great opportunity to present the rationality of belief in God developed by the Church’s natural theology tradition.

I would like interested parties and individuals to contact me with recommendations about how we develop this vital ministry in the Church.

I recommend the following works of Catholic apologetics:
• Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s Christianity Pure and Simple series of booklets published by Catholic Truth Society. Also, his Adventures in Orthodoxy
• Peter Keeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Intervasity Press, 1994.
• Mgr Ronald Knox, The Beliefs of Catholics, Ignatius Press, 2000.
• Patrick Madrid, Where is that in the Bible? Our Sunday Visitor, 2001.
• Resources for Believing. Aseries of pamphlets published by the Faith Movement.

Anyone have any more to suggest to his Excellency?


Dad29 said...

Sheed's Theology and Sanity

Anonymous said...

Agree about Sheed.

There's a major problem with Mgr Knox's 'The Belief [it's not plural] of Catholics': I know this well, as it's the book which converted me. It's, well, er, how can one put this...? Pre-conciliar. It presents Catholic dogmas utterly straightforwardly, with no apology, no waffle and what would now be called 'triumphalism'.

I converted, and have been longing for that Church ever since.

DP said...

(1)Rare-ish and OOP but belongs in the parish library, to be sure:

Canon George Smith's two volume "The Teaching of the Catholic Church." A remarkable compendium of essays on all things Catholic reprinted from the Irish Ecclesiastical Review in the 40s.

(2) Kreeft's Summa of the Summa, a nice condensation of St. Thomas. The Dumb Ox helps us silly fledglings to think, and that's desperately needed. Well, really, everything Kreeft puts his name to is worthwhile.

(3) The Idea of The Church, a neat little gem by B.C. Butler, which ought to help it appeal to Angles in need of the Gospel. Yes, also OOP, but a great exploration of the Church as a visible society, and why the Catholic conception of it is the only one that makes sense.

(4) On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard. I almost never use the word "lyrical" in an unironic sense, but it applies here. A neat series of meditations on the Catholic sensibility. I know I appreciated it greatly as I went about my own Poping.

I'm sure I can come up with about 10 more, but it will have to wait until I get home, first.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Sheed was the one I was thinking of too.

Of course, he was the English (even though Australian) Catholic apologist par ex. and wrote lots and lots of books after years of real life experience on the streets doing outdoor apologetics.

A giant.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


yes that's the general problem when you learn the Catholic religion. You then go to Church, or look around for a convent, with all the good will in the world, only to be told by the smiling hippies at the door that all that stuff is all over now.

It's enough to make one a screeching Trad.

Anonymous said...

Chesterton, C S Lewis.

And, yes, virtually anything written before the Great Leap Forward.

Anonymous said...

GK Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" and "Everlasting Man" are a must.

Karl Keating's "Catholicism and Fundamentalism" is excellent and provides, in the ninth chapter, a well laid out argument for the teaching authority of the Church.

This ninth chapter alone and CS Lewis' "Mere Chritianity" read prior to it, should present the average atheist with ample reason to believe.

Anonymous said...

Also, "Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine" by Archbishop Michael Sheehan (an Austrlian offering) is a favourite of mine and sets things out very neatly.

Anonymous said...

"Mere Christianity" and "Australian" - I should have hit preview.

Lucille said...

When it comes to writing apologetics, Lewis is very overrated. I found it fairly easy to poke holes in his arguments.

Anonymous said...

Spelign and tpng don't count in commoboxes. its the only place where it doesn't

Anonymous said...

I'd say that is true on some points, Lucille, but I found his main arguments in "Mere Christianity" to be pretty sound.

Yes, Hilary, it seems a bit pointless caring about such things in comboxes.

Anonymous said...

Pascal's Pensees. Kreeft did an annotated edition ("Christianity for Modern Pagans", or something) which was pretty good, although he ends up rather drowning out Pascal.

df said...

Some fine books recommended, but many of them not really Apologetics.

Archbish Sheehan's 2-part 1926 Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine was an Irish textbook for high schoolers. It was drilled into my father in the 40's and he's still a Catholic despite 40yrs of listening to homilies. I found it among his books 4yrs ago and it was as if I'd heard half of it from him already! It was reprinted a few yrs ago in Australia as a single volume in a somewhat revised form to conform it to the CCC, but is now out of print again.

Another wonderful book, much referenced but hard to get hold of (though I see abebooks.com has one copy at the moment) is Rev. T.J. Walshe's 1919 The Principles of Christian Apologetics. It's available for free download in pdf from archive.org. It's "specially written for senior students" for part of the "Westminster Library for Catholic Priests and Students" and is rather terse. Based in part on Garrigou-Lagrange's wonderful work.

Mulier Fortis said...

I think the bishop of a diocese is addressed as "your Grace"...

Anonymous said...

in England and Australia, you can address a bishops as "Your Lordship" and an archbishop as "Your Grace". but this is less and less common

(a friend of mine, now deceased, used to do so, partly because it was "good form" and partly because it annoyed progressives)

in the US, you can address them as "Your Excellency"

Mark S. Abeln said...

I've heard that the materials of the 'Marian Catechists' are very good: it was started by Fr. Hardon and is headed up by Abp. Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis. Catechesis, of course, is different from Apologetics.

Crucial for me becoming Catholic were:
- Catholic friends.
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the online Catholic Encyclopedia, especially the unity of faith and reason.
- The moral teachings.
- The beauty of traditional churches and music.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Catechism isn't apologetics.

But yes, the Marian Catechists is good stuff if you want to be a catechist.

owenswain said...

David Armstrong's A Biblical Defence for Catholicism was crucial in my conversion from 30 years of protestant ministry.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think that
apologetics and catechesis overlap - sometimes? Is it the audience that determines which you use?

I very much like Kreeft's Fundamentals of Faith, although I am not sure which catergory it best fits.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Troy's suggestion, that apologetics and catechesis can overlap

Example: discovering Thomism helped become a Catholic, as it showed that you can be both a serious Christian and a thorougj going rationalist

russell said...

actually; it is the 1926 edition by Walshe:Princiles of CATHOLIC apologetics that has garrigou-lagrnges' de revelatione. on amazon at 175.00! but scarce.