Apologetics Class

My priest has asked me to put together a class in apologetics for our parish, and I could use a little help. Because classtime is limited, this will be an overview, and I won’t be able to get into specifics too often.

What are some of the major questions/charges concerning Catholicism that you have heard from our non-Catholic brothers and sisters? I plan on having classes covering Scripture and Tradition, Justification, Papal and Church Authority, The Sacraments, Mary, plus a class on miscellaneous charges such as “Call no man father”, the use of statues, etc.

In the class on Church Authority, I want to get into the charge of apostasy. I know a charge of the Church going off the rails before the end of the 4th century raises the question of why anyone would accept the New Testament canon of a supposedly apostate Church. But if the claim is that the Church became apostate later than the 4th century, then the one making the charge should accept all teachings the Church said were true up to that date. Does anybody have a list of Church doctrine that was definitely in place before the books of the New Testament were canonized?

Thank you so much for your time and help!

Fortunately for you there is
shop.catholic.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/small_image/135x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/b/e/beginning-apologetics-1.jpg Beginning Apologetics Volume 1: How to Explain and Defend the Catholic Faith


This is pretty much the overview that you are looking for and covers apologetics topics that are common.

I can also vouch for Devon Rose’s excellent book …
shop.catholic.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/small_image/135x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/p/r/protestants-dilemma.jpg The Protestant’s Dilemma


Which contains the apostasy and authority issues that you mentioned as well as much more. (I have it, so I know.)

There are also a host of related tracts/articles available such as Call No Man “Father”?

PM me if you need anything else. :thumbsup:

Catholic Answers recently released a book called “The Fathers Know Best” that quotes the early Church Fathers in support of almost all the controversial Catholic doctrines. In that book you should be able to find early witnesses for everything you’re looking for. Fortunately for you, you don’t have to buy the book because its contents are freely available online. (Keep reading!)

It appears that the book is essentially a repackaging of the “Fathers Know Best” tracts that used to be hosted on the Catholic Answers website. They have since been removed, but the Internet Archive captured them beforehand and they can all be accessed through its Wayback Machine: visit web.archive.org/web/20110427144520/http://www.catholic.com/library/fathers_know_best.asp and click around.

I’ve checked the Table of Contents for the recently-released book and each of its chapters corresponds to one of those tracts, except that they re-arranged the tracts under new sections and changed a few of the titles. Thus, you can be confident that you’re getting the real deal by clicking those links. However, the introduction of the book indicates that the editors updated some of the quotations by quoting a more recent translation, and I think it’s possible that they added a few quotes into some of t

he chapters that weren’t included in the original tracts.

There are very few controversial topics not covered by that resource, but two of them are: Sacred Images and Mary’s Assumption. Re: Mary’s Assumption, I’ve compiled some of the evidence for early belief in that doctrine at this thread.

Re: sacred images, if you search these forums, evidence of sacred images supported by the Church Fathers from before the fourth century can be found at this thread, and archeologists have discovered several examples of Catholic sacred imagery from before the fourth century. A lot of these are covered well by patrick457 at this thread.

If there is any topic where you aren’t satisfied with the information from before the fourth century, please don’t hesitate to post your questions on this forum, and remember that a lot of the documents of the Church from that period have not survived the ages. We still have some very fascinating info if you know how to hunt for it, though, and I (for one) would be glad to give you what information I have. I hope others would join in too!

I love finding examples from the early Church where it mirrors the current Church or gives evidence of the “seeds” from which our current Church practices developed. It is a fascinating topic and I would love to dive into it more deeply with you.

God bless! And please let me know if this post was any help for your project.

Kay Cee,

I would also address the issue of “how to share the faith vs. how not to share the faith.”

There is a book out dealing specifically with that topic written by Mark Brumley called How Not to Share Your Faith: The Seven Deadly Sins of Apologetics and Evangelization.

It is available from Ignatius Press for around $12.00.

God bless.

A couple of VERY hard to discount teachings: The Trinity and the Nicene Creed.

The more you look into it, the weaker Protestantism becomes with these two. The teaching of the Trinity was questioned by many for centuries, and settled by the Church in the 4th century with the fight against Arianism. Any serious Christian MUST accept that the Church was infallible on this teaching. Some may try to squirm out of it by saying the Bible alludes to the Trinity, but this doesn’t pass muster, since that is what the whole argument was about. It wasn’t explicit. (That’s also why we have some communities who still deny the divinity of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.)

Also, the same with the Nicene Creed. And especially look to the last paragraph. MANY Protestant denominations believe contrary to this pararaph, and don’t realize how FAR they have drifted from the Christian faith.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Many do NOT believe in the four mark of the Church, or that there is one. And MANY do not believe that baptism forgives sins, or that there is ONE baptism.

You don’t specify the time constraints of your class. This would help us give you a better answer.

I was asked to do a four-week, one-hour per session apologetics class back in 2004. Like you, I posted a question here asking for course suggestions. Based on the input I received, I came up with a course outline (post #21).

But I also accepted the suggestion that the entire presentation be rooted in the AUTHORITY of the Church. NEVER teach doctrine without first establishing authority. If I recall correctly, a number of topics on my original syllabus got bumped so that I could more thoroughly cover the topic of authority.

Great point!!!

A huge thank-you to all your suggestions.

The class will last 1 1/2 hours (probably with a short break), once a week. It’s uncertain at this point how many sessions there will be. If necessary, it could last from September to June.

It will be held at the same time as the CCD classes for our younger students. Some of the parents bring their children to class and then just sit in their cars until it is over. Father and I figured that, since they’re either already staying there or have already driven there to drop off their kids, it would be a good time for them to learn more about the faith as well.

I second the recommendation for the Beginning Apologetics series! We have an informal apologetics class (more like a study group) at our parish, and we use that series. It’s easy to follow, and has plenty of Catechism and Scripture references, as well as quotes from the ECFs. Some are printed in full in the book. For the ones that aren’t, I recommend looking them up beforehand for your own reference, but NOT printing them out in full for your students–that way, they can practice finding verses and references in the Bible and Catechism, too. :wink:

There are a couple of topics in the series so far that I think could be expanded upon (we chose to look them up in the CCC and using, “Where Is That In The Bible?”), but overall, it’s an accessible, helpful series for adults. We generally get through about one chapter per one-hour session (including discussion), though a few chapters are longer or shorter. Oh, though if you don’t have many JWs and/or Mormons in your area, I’d skip Books 2 and 2.5 and just go from Book 1 to Book 3. Just a suggestion. :wink:

Another option may be to watch the Catholicism DVD series (Fr. Robert Barron) and then discuss it. I’ve only seen part of it, but it seems excellent and I’ve heard many good things about it (in fact, I haven’t heard anything negative). I believe it is divided into several 50-60 minute videos for about 12(?) total sessions. I think there is even a “Leader’s Kit” available that includes a study guide and discussion questions, etc., so that might help you fill the full 90 minutes.


No problem! I forgot to mention in my last post that another topic not covered by the “Fathers Know Best” resource is the topic of original sin. I recently put together a list of Eastern and Western Church Fathers from before St. Augustine who taught the doctrine of original sin. You might be interested in it: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=884495

The class will last 1 1/2 hours (probably with a short break), once a week. It’s uncertain at this point how many sessions there will be. If necessary, it could last from September to June.

Let’s see…September to June is 9 months…if it’s going to be once a week that’s 4 times a month…times 9 months = about 36 sessions.

Well, I am doing something very similar at my parish and I think I may be able to help. At my parish I’m leading a weekly apologetics class that I’ve called the “Defend Your Faith Series.” Each week covers a different topic and is based on a single-page double-sidede handout (one for each topic) that has resources from the Catechism, the Bible, and typically either some Church Fathers or some reason-based arguments for whatever the Catholic position is on the topic. If you’d like, I could upload the handouts for you so you can print them and use them.

Our curriculum looks like this:

Series 1, Answering Secularists

Creation & Evolution
Adam/Eve & Evolution
The Bible and Violence
The Bible and Slavery
The Bible and Women
The Bible and Homosexuality
The Possibility of Miracles*
God’s Existence
The Case for Christ: The Rational Basis
for His Existence, Resurrection, and Divinity*
Proving the Bible’s Truth*

Series 2, Answering Protestants

Why the Church Fathers are Important
The Pope
Salvation Outside the Church?*
The Trinity
The Books of the Bible: 73 or 66?*
Baptism and Salvation*
Infant Baptism*
Baptism by Pouring*
The Eucharist
Calling Priests Father & Priest or Elder?*
The Male Priesthood*
The Celibate Priesthood*
Confirmation & Anointing of the Sick*
Marriage, Divorce, & Annulments*
Mary: The Immaculate Conception
Mary: Ever-Virgin
Mary: Assumed into Heaven
Mary: Apparitions*
The Rapture*
Devotion and Prayer to the Saints
Relics & Sacred Images*

That’s 37 topics, which is almost exactly what you need. The ones with asterisks are ones I haven’t created handouts for yet; I could upload the other ones for you, though. Would you like that? I’ve uploaded a sample with this post so you can see what the handouts look like. (Remember that they are supposed to be double-sided.)

EDIT: NM. See post above. :smiley:


Thank you so much for the offer. Give me a chance to look the list over carefully, and I’ll PM you about it later (that is, if my husband isn’t hogging the computer when I get back from Mass–which is highly doubtful!)

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