Beginner apologetics


I admit it…I’m nowhere near educated enough in the Catholic Church to be an adequate apologist. I am reading the Bible, reading apologetics work such as the Salvation Controversy, and “Surprised by Truth” and all that sort of good stuff. I also have the Catechism which I plan to read, and a book on the scriptural basis of the Catholic Church that I will read, eventually, too.

I just feel like I’m a disappointment apologetics-wise; anytime somebody says something, I feel like I think I know the answer, but I’m afraid of speaking up for fear that I will misrepresent the Church. Are there any helpful hints about gentle apologetics, beginner apologetics? I’m not ready for a nitty-gritty one, but something that would spur the other person to just think and consider and discuss would be nice. Especially apologetics for Calvinists specifically, if possible.

For example, “Blessed Assurance”…I had given somebody a link to the hymnal my parish uses, and he was looking through all the songs listed on there, and he noted that Blessed Assurance wasn’t. Then he realized why, theologically it’s based off of the Calvinistic “Irresistible Grace”, and at this point I wanted to say something to open up a discussion on grace, the Calvinistic and the Ariminain views and such, mostly for my benefit, because I wanted to understand that point of view more. But I was afraid to, because I didn’t feel like I knew enough to bring it up, as he’s very knowledgeable and I most certainly am not. Yet I felt like I had an idea of what to say, I just didn’t want to get in over my head and actually leave things worse than when I began.

And then reading the Bible…I noticed a lot of places mention “elders”…which is precisely what Presbyterians call their church leaders. How’s this fit in with bishops? Just a curious thought that came up as I was reading.

I don’t know, this is just a really general question, but I’m just not sure how to go about doing this. I don’t know enough to ask specific questions, if that makes sense, and I’m sorry this is rambling, but it’s nearly 1 am now, and I should be getting to bed. Just couldn’t feel like I could sleep leaving this unresolved. I know the people here at CAF would be able to help me a lot :slight_smile: This may be the first of many questions to come, though.


I found this series helped me a great deal. They’re short, to the point, and loaded with easy to grasp answers. God bless.


Hi Holly,

You’re probably doing fine. No one develops skills overnight, so don’t worry too much about it.

This will be a great help to you, but start at the beginning. Two-Minute Apologetics and he’s got all of it written out on 2-Minute Apologetics.

The Beginning Apologetics Series from San Juan Catholic Seminars is a great suggestion. Just getting the very first one will help you immensely.

As you come up with different questions, post them as the first post in their own threads and I can assure you you’ll get the answers that you seek.
Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.


Holly, I second (or third) the recommendation for San Juan Catholic Seminar’s Beginning Apologetics Booklet Series. It is simple and easy to use. It gives great talking points for most of the major issues you encounter with people.

I know that I often have that same fear of not knowing enough, but don’t let that fear keep you from speaking up. You might be surprised at what will happen. There’s no shame in telling someone you don’t know, but you’ll find out, either.

In regards to your “elders” questions, the word translated as “elders” in many English translations is the Greek word “presbyters”, which is where we get the word “priest” from. And this, of course, is what Catholics call their leaders. :slight_smile:


Besides Holly, I have found that in most cases the a-Cs don’t know either the Word of God or Christian history nearly so well as they like to think. What you’ll most often find is that they know only their propaganda source and once you even begin to refute them most can’t make a case for beans…

Just keep studying and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you.

I used to know a couple of guys who jumped my case on a regular basis and would get real frustrated when I’d shoot their stuff down. Then one day a Catholic magazine I got had a 50 question quiz in it on very basic Bible knowledge. I think it had only three questions that only a Catholic would have known, so I gave them those three and got them to take the quiz. They scored dismally (as in under 50%!) while I think I only missed two or three. Frankly I was kinda surprised because these dudes talked like they ate, drank, and slept the Bible.

Now, do we ever need to stop reading and studying our Bibles? Of course not! (And there’s always room for more!) but don’t buy into the hype that the average Joe or Jane n-C/a-C is a formidable Bible scholar, because it just ain’t so. :smiley:


This is my experience as well. If you scratch behind the surface, you will find they probably know about 20 or so verses, max.

The one-eyed man is king in a land of blind men. All you need to do is know their 20, and learn about 10 more of your own that can not only refute theirs, but ask some tough questions of your own.


Hi Holly, memorize I Peter 3:15. It tells you to be prepared to give an answer to those that Ask. If a person comes to you “preaching” they simply are not asking and arguing with them violates Titus 3:9. Daily seek to kill off your sin nature Romans 12:1-3 and ask God to fill or enpower you with the Holy Spirit Eph 5:18 to live a godly life for Jesus. Those whom the Father is drawing unto Jesus will see your life and ask questions. Make Jesus your primary topic, the rest with study and research will fall into place.


My question about apologetics is: when is it appropriate to engage in apologetics? So often, it simply becomes a contest where people are simply looking for an excuse to argue.

Yet, it is important to be able to explain our faith when genuine questions are asked.


Wow…thank you everybody for your help :slight_smile:

I got a book from Amazon today, the Catholic Source Book, and now I feel like I’m prepared…now all I have to do is to continue to carve out time for studying…it seems like everything! Many many things, the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know. Is it ever possible to reach a point where you feel like you’re “knowledgeable enough” ?

Thanks, Tiejen, I will put a request for those from the library! They look like they’re awesome, and the local library should have them for the benefit of all :wink: (I would purchase them myself, but currently I’ve already spent much of monthly “fun money” from my budget on books. Perhaps in the future :slight_smile:

Church Militant, thank you for your confidence! I just felt like I was failing the Church somehow, but I realize this is a process…and thank you for the link to that website! It already answered a question that occurred to me in a previous talk with him! And that was definitely interesting…I’ll keep that in mind, but I was thinking he was more knowledgeable because he’s an inactive Presbyterian deacon, so that’s kinda why I’m cautious.

And thanks, Joe! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one, and thanks for the tip on the etymology of the word! Now I feel better about that already :slight_smile:

Fidelus, haha, wonderful tip!

Thanks Dan…

Exactly, HelenRose! Thank goodness he’s not the type to argue. We’ve both been very respectful of each other’s religions…it’s sometimes we just start talking about this or that thing, and sometimes we do have genuine questions for each other, but most of the time it’s just the way conversations go that we speak about it :slight_smile: It’s in these conversations that topics come up and I’d love to be able to speak confidently with knowledge that, yes, this is true, not just repeat back what I’ve been told, because for the latter, if it brings up a question, I’d be unable to answer it. Thus my hesitancy to even mention it in the first place.


It sounds to me that you are on the right track. I think that to engage in apologetics requires, first of all

Love: love for Christ, love for knowledge, love for the Church and above all genuine, deep abiding love for whom we our discussing our faith.

Patience: we need to appreciate the journey other souls are making. It is the Holy Spirit that leads us. It is our job to show forth God’s love. It is not our job to convert anyone, we leave that to God.

Humility: we will accomplish nothing if we come across as “holier than thou.” We will accomplish nothing in God’s plan if we are looking for a fight. The position that “I am right, You are wrong” will destroy all trust.

Honesty: If we do not know or understand a question or problem, say so. “Let me think that over before I comment.” Is a very useful statement.

I walk a very strange road because my son is a Presbyterian Seminarian. I am very proud of him and know that God is leading him for His own purposes. My son and I are very careful to respect each other’s journey.


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