Help Me Be An Apologist!


#1

Greetings Mighty Catholic Apologists!

I recently posted a story about my “first apologetics moment” here:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=17560

It turns out that my Hindu Indian friend is still interested in learning more about Christianity. He mentioned that he’s interested in learning about all “peaceful religions”. I told him that I would be happy to answer any of his questions about Christianity. The other day I even gave him a “short” history of Christendom from the day of Pentecost to the Battle of Lepanto to Sobieski’s defeat of the Turks in Austria. He seemed really intrigued by our battles with the Islamic world and the fact that at one time Muslims controlled large chunks of Europe. Apparently the same thing happened in India.

Unfortunately, the other day he also mentioned something about reading a fascinating publication called the “Watchtower” (oh no!). He asked me if I’ve heard of it, and also mentioned that he found it really interesting because it was talking about scripture and it frequently referenced scripture. He also mentioned that a few years ago a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to his house and invited him to come to their “church” and he went (double oh no!), though just because he was interested in learning about them, not to convert or anything. My friend said that when he was there they also said bad things about Catholics and other Christian groups.

I told him that he should watch out and be careful around those Jehovah’s Witnesses, that they were a little bit wacko and that no other Christian group considers them to be real Christians. I also tried to be as polite as possible about it. He replied that another former acquaintance of his, and Indian Roman Catholic, had also said the same thing about them.

My friend seems to have a real interest in studying the ancient scriptural texts of all religions (except for one in particular, which he told me he has absolutely zero interest in reading). He also has indicated that he wished to learn more about Christianity and seems especially excited about the opportunity to learn about it from a real genuine Christian! :slight_smile: I’m not really sure why he has this interest, I mean, it’s pretty unusual for people to come up to me and ask me to teach them about Christianity, but I think it has something to do with the fact that “there are many Christians in India”.

So now to the purpose of my post! I need the assistance of my fellow Catholic Apologists! I told my friend that I would recommend some good Christian books and web pages to him from which he could begin his studies. I was thinking of lending him 3 good books, sending him 3 good links, and giving him the name of 3 good authors. I could give him more stuff, but I don’t want to overdo it. These are what I was thinking of: (please let me know what you think of my selections, and please offer any of your own suggestions!)

Books:

  1. Theology for Beginners (Frank Sheed). I figured I’d lend him this book because it’s really good for getting an understanding of the Christian Worldview and the concept of the Trinity, which he seems really interested in.

  2. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lews). This is another good book for understanding Christianity from the point of view of the Christian (that’s the point of view he’s interested in learning about).

  3. Ignatius Study Bible: Gospel of John (Scott Hahn, Curtis Mitch). Since he seems really interested in Scripture, I figured I’d whet his appetite a little. Do you think I should give Matthew instead?)

*I think I’ll also give him my copy of the Catechism as a gift (I can pick up another copy for myself for pretty cheap). That makes four books I guess.


#2

Links:

  1. www.ewtn.com. He can watch it online, I’m going to recommend that he watch Fr. John Corapi.

  2. www.catholic.com. I’m going to point him in the direction of the tracts against the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  3. www.biblegateway.com. He can read many translations of the bible here, though unfortunately they are most (all?) protestant versions. Does anyone know of any page that has the full text of the RSV-CE online somewhere?

Authors:

  1. Frank Sheed.
  2. C.S. Lewis
  3. G.K. Chesterton

So what do you think of my selections? Please post your own suggestions and advice. Help me be a Defendor of the Faith! Next week I’m going to give him the stuff.


#3

Depending on his background in philosophy I would recommend Jacques Maritain who speaks highly and frequently of Hinduism is his book “Approaches to God”…a fabulous book but like all Maritain, very heavy.

If he is interested in Scripture studies, Lawrence Boadt OFM’s “Introduction to the Old Testament” gives a modern Catholic view of the OT and dispells many of the fundamentalist myths while discussing the literary infuences on the composition of the OT. A much better study Bible is the Catholic Study Bible (NAB) edited by Donald Senior CP.

If he likes war so much…for a history of the Crusades, try Hilaire Belloc’s “The Crusades: the World’s Debate” which is prejudiced history at its best. Belloc doesn’t let little things like facts or dates clutter up and get in the way of narrating a good story. Like Chesterton’s biography of Charles Dickens which contained two dates, both of which were wrong.

There is only one site on the internet really worth recommending: www.newadvent.com

www.catholic.com has many decent articles but remains an apologetics site and apologetics is not equivalent to scholarship.

But many suggestions depend on the level of scholarship he is looking for. Sheed is a good read but his philosophizing is at an “Alpha” course level and far too Platonist for any Thomist. Chesterton is much better than Lewis, especially “Thomas Aquinas: the Dumb Ox” and “Autobiography”. If he has a scientific background “The Everlasting Man” will ring hollow and only frustrat; but if he doesn’t it has some of Chesterton’s most beautiful passages in it. I prefered “Heretics” to “Orthodoxy” which seems rare amongst Chestertonian fanatics, but I enjoyed the combativeness of Heretics though if I could only give one book, it would be Orthodoxy. “The Thing” is about his conversion to Catholicism and defense of it, but it is merely rehashed from most of his previous books. As a collection of essays (short essays) it was hard to get into.

What level of books are you looking for?


#4

Pope John Paul II wrote a book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope.” Some of it I have found rather dry and dogmatic but some of the chapters, especially those regarding Catholicism and its relation to other Christian denominations as well as other religions might be worth reading.

-Jim


#5

Um, You might want to start with The Life of Christ first before moving into theology and ecclesiology!
You might get a movie on the life of Christ and invite him to watch it with you. I would not recomend viewing the Passion at first.


#6

hi there. what a great question! besides my advice, for what IT’S worth, i will pray for you, which is much better. :slight_smile:

cs lewis is a fantastic choice, especially mere christianity. chesterton is a GREAT writer, but i actually wouldn’t recommend him to a newbie, as he is pretty opaque in places, and uses ALOT of ‘current idioms’ in his writing - which WERE current in the late 19th, early 20th centuries, but are now kind of confusing.

belloc is great, as well, but i wouldn’t give him to a beginner. hahn is a good choice.

our brother rich has a great recommendation in giving him, first, Jesus. have him read john or luke, or, as rich said, watch them on video with him. best place to start, i think.

but - above all else - be his friend. don’t make the whole relationship about apologizing. find his other interests and connect with him that way. love him, in other words. :slight_smile:


#7

[quote=amarischuk]Depending on his background in philosophy I would recommend Jacques Maritain who speaks highly and frequently of Hinduism is his book “Approaches to God”…a fabulous book but like all Maritain, very heavy.

If he is interested in Scripture studies, Lawrence Boadt OFM’s “Introduction to the Old Testament” gives a modern Catholic view of the OT and dispells many of the fundamentalist myths while discussing the literary infuences on the composition of the OT. A much better study Bible is the Catholic Study Bible (NAB) edited by Donald Senior CP.

If he likes war so much…for a history of the Crusades, try Hilaire Belloc’s “The Crusades: the World’s Debate” which is prejudiced history at its best. Belloc doesn’t let little things like facts or dates clutter up and get in the way of narrating a good story. Like Chesterton’s biography of Charles Dickens which contained two dates, both of which were wrong.

There is only one site on the internet really worth recommending: www.newadvent.com

www.catholic.com has many decent articles but remains an apologetics site and apologetics is not equivalent to scholarship.

But many suggestions depend on the level of scholarship he is looking for. Sheed is a good read but his philosophizing is at an “Alpha” course level and far too Platonist for any Thomist. Chesterton is much better than Lewis, especially “Thomas Aquinas: the Dumb Ox” and “Autobiography”. If he has a scientific background “The Everlasting Man” will ring hollow and only frustrat; but if he doesn’t it has some of Chesterton’s most beautiful passages in it. I prefered “Heretics” to “Orthodoxy” which seems rare amongst Chestertonian fanatics, but I enjoyed the combativeness of Heretics though if I could only give one book, it would be Orthodoxy. “The Thing” is about his conversion to Catholicism and defense of it, but it is merely rehashed from most of his previous books. As a collection of essays (short essays) it was hard to get into.

What level of books are you looking for?
[/quote]

Oh, I’m sorry. Perhaps I was unclear in my post, or perhaps you didn’t even read it, but I was looking for helpful suggestions. If you have none to offer and can’t set aside your own miserable ego for five minutes then I respectfully ask that you do not make any further posts on this thread.


#8

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]Um, You might want to start with The Life of Christ first before moving into theology and ecclesiology!
You might get a movie on the life of Christ and invite him to watch it with you. I would not recomend viewing the Passion at first.
[/quote]

The Life of Christ…who is that? Fulton Sheen?

Good suggestion about the movie. I agree that the Passion may not be the best introduction to Jesus Christ. I was thinking of buying the Gospel of John Film on DVD one of these days anyways (gospelofjohnthefilm.com). Maybe I will lend it to him when I get it. I saw it in theaters and really enjoyed it.


#9

I was also thinking that after he’s done with this first round of books, I’ll invite him to come to mass with me after work one day. There is a beautiful Cathedral Church a few blocks away.


#10

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]Um, You might want to start with The Life of Christ first before moving into theology and ecclesiology!
You might get a movie on the life of Christ and invite him to watch it with you. I would not recomend viewing the Passion at first.
[/quote]

Billy,

I think what Br. Rich probably meant was teach him what Christ taught. Give him, or walk him through Scripture, and show him how our Saviour was God incarnate and man, and how He lived. How He lived. How He loved people. How He rebuked people. How the Old Testament points to Him in so many ways.

But don’t let it stop there with “oh, I’m glad to learn about another religion.” In that case, you would not be much of a friend to him if indeed he is inquisitive about Christianity. Love him as a person, and make sure he understands that Christ taught that without Him we are under the wrath of God and are subject to both temporal and eternal punishments for sin God because we have offended the Holy God with our sin.

I can just recommend the Church Fathers to your attention. St. Augustine would be great. His book “Confessions” is a classic. It’s magnificent, in that he talks about the futility of living in sin and the gloriousness of redemption in Christ. Perhaps that would be another appropriate choice.

Rob


#11

[quote=BillyHW]The Life of Christ…who is that? Fulton Sheen?

Good suggestion about the movie. I agree that the Passion may not be the best introduction to Jesus Christ. I was thinking of buying the Gospel of John Film on DVD one of these days anyways (gospelofjohnthefilm.com). Maybe I will lend it to him when I get it. I saw it in theaters and really enjoyed it.
[/quote]

Sheen or Papini either one is very good. The Gospel of John is a good choice. I would suggest not loaning it but viewing it together maybe in a small group who can answer questions after.

This is how evangelization does actually takes place in middle eastern countries. Viewing videos in small groups in private homes.


#12

i’ve worked in christian retail for years, and can recommend a good video collection for watching with him. it’s called ‘the visual Bible’, and the actor who plays Christ, bruce marchiano, is fantastic. the speaking parts are entirely comprised of scripture, and the cinematography and acting are very well done.


#13

**’**Perhaps I was unclear in my post, or perhaps you didn’t even read it, but I was looking for helpful suggestions.’

don’t take it personally, **amarischuk. **he’s a spicy italian. :slight_smile:


#14

[quote=jeffreedy789]i’ve worked in christian retail for years, and can recommend a good video collection for watching with him. it’s called ‘the visual Bible’, and the actor who plays Christ, bruce marchiano, is fantastic. the speaking parts are entirely comprised of scripture, and the cinematography and acting are very well done.
[/quote]

I believe that The Gospel of John Film was a creation of the Visual Bible people.


#15

they did the gospel of john, yes. but the bruce marchiano gospel was matthew. both are good, but i’d recommend the matthew one.


#16

[quote=BillyHW]Oh, I’m sorry. Perhaps I was unclear in my post, or perhaps you didn’t even read it, but I was looking for helpful suggestions. If you have none to offer and can’t set aside your own miserable ego for five minutes then I respectfully ask that you do not make any further posts on this thread.
[/quote]

You are obviously on the right path to being a successful apologist.

Sorry if I spoke over your head, or perhaps you didn’t read my post. I guess Jacques Maritain, Hilaire Belloc, Lawrence Boadt, G.K. Chesterton, Donald Senior, and www.newadvent.com aren’t helpful suggestions. Which makes me wonder just how deep your “intense theological studying” was when you returned to your faith.

Besides, you suggested Chesterton but didn’t give any indication you have any familiarity with his books. I just walked through the books of his I have read and gave some suggestions (St. Thomas Aquinas, Autobiography, Orthodoxy (and Heretics) and if he is interested in science but lacks a scientific background, Everlasting Man).

I hope you are not the only example of a Catholic this poor man encounters.

Adam


#17

Nice.


#18

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