How do I become good at apologetics?

I feel called to research my faith and be able to defend it. Right now I am reading a book called “Born Fundamentalist Born Again Catholic.” I want to know if there’s anything that someone suggest me to read or research. Also, what are the most common reasons people object to the Catholic faith?

I think the best way to lear how to defend the faith is just practice. Every time you hear someone badmouthing the pope or saying something incorrect about the faith, chime in and correct them. I recently went back to school to study journalism, and don’t know if it’s the entire field of journalism today or just my school in particular, but it seems like everyone has a chip on their shoulder about the Catholic Church. I’ve had opportunities almost every day to practice apologetics. I don’t really start conversations about religion, but I no longer let incorrect things pass like I used to. I think people think I’m a religious nutcase, but that’s okay.
As far as books, Frank Sheed is really good for basic apologetics. I’ve gone through his Theology For Beginners three or four times, and each time I get a little more out of it. His other well know book, Theology And Sanity, is really just an expanded version of theology For Beginners, or maybe it’s the other way around.

The thing I’ve found about apologetics is that most people really know very little about the Catholic Church, and usually it’s limited to what’s covered in the popular media. You get the same accusations against the Church all the time. So if you engage in apologetics, you’ll get pretty god at defending those points. Patrick Madrid has put out some really good apologetics books, especially for defending against the more common accusations against the Church. Peter Kreeft is another one, especially if you’re interested in a more philosophical background to you apologetics.

Read Karl Keating’s " Catholicism and Fundamentalism"
Read Bob Sungenis’s “Not By Faith Alone” and “Not By Scripture Alone” and “Not By Bread Alone”
If you get through all 4 books you will be well grounded in apologetics!

Get those beginning apologetic books (more like pamphlets) they are awesome! They come up on the shop thing to the right had side.

Just spotted your post and question NFrancis ‘.How do I become good at apologetics?’

First of all you must know your Catholic Faith. Then you must have complete faith in the Catholic faith. Then you must have a natural talent to debate what you know of the Faith, and this usually takes time. Experience is the best guide. The best debaters on CA are usually over 50 years old. You must pray and never get embarrassed or beaten by those who do not have the faith. Remember also that Christ was ridiculed, jeered and even crucified for being a divine apologist.

Millions learned their faith from the old Penny Catechism, a Q & A booklet. try to get hold of one if you are a beginner.

But beware. One of the best stories I have heard was of two great philosophers who endlessly debated religion. One died and got permission from God to appear to his friend for one last talk. He told his buddy he was in Hell, not heaven as they both anticipated. ‘How did that happen’ asked the living philosopher. ‘Well, on my deathbed the Devil appeared to me and we got into a discussion about the faith. Before I knew it I had doubts as he was so good at apologetics. By the time I died doubts had developed to certainties and I had lost my simple faith. I ended up in hell.
For the rest of his life the friend pondered on this. In time, he too lay dying on his bed. And like his friend the Devil appeared and tried to coax him into debate. ‘And what do you believe in John’ asked the Devil. ‘I believe in the Catholic faith’. said John. ’ And what does that faith tell you John’ was the reply. ‘What the Church teaches’ said John. ‘Yes I know that’ said the Devil, ‘but what exactly does the Church teach you.’ ‘What I believe.’ ‘And what do you believe’ shouted the Devil this time. ‘What the Church teaches’ repeated John. The Devil knew here was a man whom he would not trick out of his beliefs and so he gave up. John died and went to heaven, a humbler man by far.

I hope NFrancis you see the moral in this story. Sometimes it is just better to believe in the simplicity of our faith rather than analyse and disect it until it no longer looks like something we can believe in. Remember too, one very wise man once told me not to dare rob the simple faith of any Catholic with apologetics and scandals. Learn there are times to leave that simple faith of others alone.

I found the Patrick Madrid CD set on apologetics very helpful (8 CDs). He’s from Envoy Institute. Also, Peter Kreeft has some great stuff based on logic. To debate, you must use logic. His book, Socratic Logic, teaches the fundamentals of logic.

What I’ve learned from apologetics is that you have to know when NOT to debate (sometimes it’s fruitless) and that you should not neglect your prayer life. Always pray before you begin to debate.

If your position is true, then other arguments against you either:

a) support your arguments
b) they do not argue at all

I don’t know how good I am, but here is what I did…

I listened to every Q&A Open Forum archived episode of Catholic Answers Live with Jimmy Akin from 1998-2003 (until they had the music dispute and I stopped listening…although I think that’s fixed now). It helps to have an ipod and an auxiliary jack in the car so you can just listen during commutes. You can also pick Karl Keating as well, who is excellent. I just like the way Jimmy phrases things.

Doing that will lead you to a host of resources, what you like most, and then you’ll research deeper the subjects that interest you.

Then, once you get into apologetics here, I also follow a couple rules.

  1. Be as brief as possible always.
  2. Don’t respond to polemical talk, like “The Catholic Church is just a bunch of child abusers” or something nonsensical like that. The people you want to talk to will ask normal questions or perhaps misrepresent a fact that you can correct. Polemical talk isn’t an argument, it’s just ranting.
  3. Learn to not need to have the last word. Often someone will respond to your argument with what they said prior to your rebuttal. When you see it going in circles, just bail. Other people reading will see that your points were ignored.

And do pray before you engage in apologetics that you present the truth fairly and that God will use you for the truth. :o

Some advise:

The motive for being a good apologist must be correct. It is too easy to get pulled away from an original desire to help others and be lured into a “contest” of winning and losing at any cost. One must keep focused on the motive being to benefit Christ’s Church and His People. For every person you debate or try to help there are at least 10 others here at CAF listening silently. Even when you encounter a very hateful or determined anti-catholic it is important to have the discipline to never stoop to a lower form of rhetoric and polemics (I have this done this before regrettably) just to “win” the argument or to make the other person look foolish. Keep in mind that the other person even if hostile to the Catholic faith is also called to be a child of God and if an atheist or a misinformed “bible-Christian” etc. they are also like you made in the image of God and have a right to work out their faith and explore their beliefs.

I suspect that MORE are converted to Catholicism by example of good Christian behavior and charity of “humble” apologetics than by all the good arguments and debating styles and knowledge of aggressive apologetics.

Also, it is important to know the inner psychology and belief systems of the other person so you can empathize more with their perspective and find ways to let in the light in the contexts they are most familiar with. In this way the Holy Spirit who is essential in all conversions to the faith can operate to speak His truth in ways that the other person will be able to hear. It is a long process for some to come step-wise into the Catholic faith and we must not impost our own schedule on others - even when the arguments and evidence are overwhelming blatant to us and demand an immediate acceptance.

Patience and modesty and focus on Christ and the dignity of the other person are as essential as is knowledge and correct theology. With apologetics you have to know all the other major faiths and secular belief systems and it you must have a strong faith to deal with being hit with a legion of plausible yet wrong teachings and not lose your own faith.

ALWAYS remember its “not about you” it’s about Christ and the other person’s soul and the souls of others who are also listening in silence and watching the debates etc.

Just some advise and I need to heed this in myself as well.

James

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