Teaching 4-week Apologetics class - suggestions welcome!


#1

Hello!

I’ve been asked to teach a four-week Adult Education class (one hour for four Sunday mornings during Advent). Praise God - this topic has been sorely neglected in Catholic Parishes.

I’ve been involved in apologetics for twenty years; I have an extensive library and consider myself very well informed. However, I have never attempted to present Apologetics in a classroom setting to a (presumably) receptive audience (my audience is generally hostile to my viewpoint).

I have a total of four hours of instruction time (probably three hours “quality” time), and my audience is not expected to be well informed even about general apologetic topics.

I’ve torn up at least ten prospective syllabi. I’m finding it very challenging deciding what topics to cover in such a short timeframe. I’ve come to realize that teaching the class will probably be far easier than deciding what to teach!

I would very much appreciate any suggestions!!!


#2

Hmmm. Maybe class one on ecclesiology (one of my favorite questions for JW’s and such that come to my door is, “exactly when do you believe Christ allowed Satan to rape His bride?”). Having confidence in the church as “pillar and bulwark of the truth” should lay the groundwork for everything that follows. Included should be the doctrine of infallibility - what it is and, at least as important, what it isn’t.

Class two on soteriology, specifically focussing on faith and works. Historically, the most important topic of “protest”.

Class three on eschatology, just because so many Protestants are absolutely obsessed with end times, and so many Protestants groups spring from interpretations of Revelation.

Class Four on Mary and the saints, always a stumbling block for our separated brethren. Maybe throw in the doctrine of the real presence, if you have time.

I think that’s how I would approach it.

God bless you, however you decide to go at it.


#3

Please, I urge you – no, I beg you – devote the first class to the history of the Bible and the Church.

You can use this book from Catholic Answers:
Where We Got the Bible by Henry G. Graham

Make it required class reading.

If Catholics knew their history they’d never (or rarely) leave the Church! They should teach this history to their children.


#4

Class three on eschatology, just because so many Protestants are absolutely obsessed with end times, and so many Protestants groups spring from interpretations of Revelation.

I hadn’t even considered eschatology. I understand that many protestants are obsessed with it, but the Catholic Church hasn’t really weighed in on the subject. Thus, a Catholic is free to embrace many of the protestant eschatological ideas and still be faithful to the Magisterum, right? Do you believe we’re loosing many Catholics because of eschatological issues? I’ve never had that impression. Besides, what would I say? The Church hasn’t really weighed in! I cannot authoritatively challenge pre- or mid- or post-trib positions, etc.

Your other points are well taken, though I intend to make certain that I fit the Eucharist into the discussion. Eucharistic theology seems to be at the center of anti-Catholic attacks (which is logical, because it’s at the center of Catholic spirituality).


#5

My wife presented a beginning apologetics bible study for her women’s group which was very well recieved. We worked on it together and here’s the topics we covered:

Apologetics 101: What Do Catholics Believe and Why?

Week 1: Sola Scriptura? (The Bible Alone?)
Where did we get the Bible? What is the role of the Bible in the Church? What is Sacred Tradition?

Week 2: Salvation – How do we get to heaven?
Do Catholics really believe we can work our way to heaven? Can we lose our salvation?

Week 3: The Sacraments
What are sacraments? Why are they necessary? Why do we baptize infants? Why do we believe in the Eucharist?

Week 4: The Pope, the Bishops and the Magisterium
Where does the pope get his authority? Why do we have a church hierarchy? When does the pope speak infallibly? What exactly is “Church teaching?”

Week 5: Mary and the Marian Doctrines
Do Catholics worship Mary? Does she have a role in salvation? What about the Marian Doctrines (The Immaculate Conception, The Assumption) and Marian apparitions (Lourdes, Fatima, etc)?

Week 6: Communion of Saints
What do Catholics believe about the saints? Why do we pray to them?

Week 7: Tour of the Church/The Meaning of Catholic Practices
What is the meaning of the various items in the church? Why do we have statues, paintings, icons, holy water, incense, candles, etc? Why do we have a crucifix instead of just a cross?
Why do Catholics cross themselves? Why do they kneel, stand and sit at various times of the mass?
What are relics, scapulars and medals?

Week 8: The Last Things – Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and the End Times
Do Catholics still believe in Purgatory? Why? What do we know about heaven and hell? What is “Limbo”? What do we believe about the end times?

In our experience, you cannot assume your audience, even lifelong Catholics, have any working knowledge of apologetics, the Scriptures, and an adult level knowledge of Catholic teaching. Be prepared to explain the basics.


#6

Fidelis: :clapping:


#7

Puh…leeze. A first book to read is Karl Keating’s “Catholocism and Fundamentalism”. (The attack on “romanism” by “Bible Christians”)

This is the greatest, easy to read and understand Apologetics book I know of. Go here.
inhisname.com/Books/Apologetics5.htm $14.95 delivery in 5 days.

It is down to earth, has concrete examples.


#8

David:

If I had a dime for every time I’ve had to address Revelation and the church as the “whore of Babylon”, I’d be wealthy enough to retire and spend all day debating theology. :slight_smile: If that doesn’t crop up repeatedly in your efforts at apologetics, you’re a lucky man.


#9

[quote=DavidFilmer]I hadn’t even considered eschatology. I understand that many protestants are obsessed with it, but the Catholic Church hasn’t really weighed in on the subject. Thus, a Catholic is free to embrace many of the protestant eschatological ideas and still be faithful to the Magisterum, right? Do you believe we’re loosing many Catholics because of eschatological issues? I’ve never had that impression. Besides, what would I say? The Church hasn’t really weighed in! I cannot authoritatively challenge pre- or mid- or post-trib positions, etc.
[/quote]

Many, many people leave the Catholic Church because they buy into the type of End Times theology presented in the “Left Behind” books. The type of theology presented is called pre-millenial dispensationalism and, among many other errors, it has no room for the truth that Christ came to establish a church, much less the Catholic Church.

People usually start by reading this series of books, assuming it reflects orthodox Catholic doctrine. While the books are not overtly anti-Catholic, the “non-fiction” works by the authors most definitely are. Many Catholics start with the novels, get sucked in and want to learn more, so they turn to the authors other books. If they are lucky, they only end up confused about what the Church teaches about the Last Things. Many, however, end up being ex-Catholics. Do not underestimate the effect this type of theology has. That is why my wife and I included it in our study, posted above. And based on our response to this segment, many Catholics are like sheep being led to the slaughter through this issue.

For more info, start here, with Catholic Answers:

catholic.com/library/Rapture.asp

Then go to Carl Olsen’s website where you’ll have all the info you need to speak confidently about this issue.

carl-olson.com/rapture_articles.html


#10

I would agree with most here as to the level of knowledge you will encounter. Not that there aren’t knowledgeable catholics and protestants, there are, but that seems to be the exception not the rule.

I like the basics and to build a foundation on things like; the trinity, the resurrection, sin (in general and specific types of sin), and the person of Jesus is always a nice topic…His humanity and deity, and where we got our bible as someone suggested…hope this helps…


#11

catholicapologetics.com/

Have you checkout these great materials from San Juan Catholic Seminars? Clear, concise, inexpensive, brief but intense & dealing with most of the kinds of questions we face all the time. Apologetics 1 is a great overview & the other six booklets go into much more depth. They are a real godsend. I have all of them myself.

Dominus Vobiscum,
Mike


#12

+JMJ

David,

I would start of with kind of a basic quiz to test how the knowlege of apologeitcs is. Then develop a lesson plan around the class knowlege. For the first class you can always give them a brief over view of where we get the hail mary or something to “snack on” as I say for thier first class. After you see thier test scores you can then develop a lesson plan based on that class and that way they can get the most out of what you they are most interested in. Or for the first class you can do just a simple Q & A session.
Pax


#13

I would suggest that 4 sessions is insufficient. However, San Juan Catholic Seminars has short, inexpensive introductory apologetics material available that may be useful (see here: catholicapologetics.com/seminars.htm and here catholicapologetics.com/booklets.htm). I have them all, and they are all very good. I’ve used them in introductory apologetics classes, and they seem to be at the right level for beginners.

I recommend finding out from your audience what they are most interested in discussing, given the limited time you have with them. I would steer them toward topics from Volume 1 of the seminar materials. It has the following contents:
[list=1]
*]A Beginner’s Guide to Apologetics
*]Practical Points on Bible Reading
*]The Eucharist
*]Appendix 1: The Early Church Father’s View on the Eucharist
*]The Canon of the Bible
*]The Bible Alone?
*]Apostolic Authority: Peter and the Papacy
*]Marian Doctrines
*]Appendix 2: The Protestant Reformers’ View of Mary
*]Questions Asked about Mary
*]Confession
*]Scandals in the Church
*]Prayer to the Saints
*]Purgatory
*]Miscellaneous Questions
*]Call no man father?
*]Saved by Faith Alone?
*]Other questions
[/list]The other volumes get into greater depth on specific topics. Good luck.


#14

Hmmmm… what Church Militant said. :slight_smile:


#15

A Must!
catholic.com/library/practical_apologetics.asp This is Catholic AAaanswers Apologetics. Go to it.:tiphat:


#16

when your done, i would be more interested in what you have learned, than what your going to teach… :thumbsup:

listen, and open your mind and heart, and see what the class and spirit might teach you… :thumbsup:

should be a fun class… look to serve, and not so much to rule… just a few suggestions… been there, done that… :thumbsup:

good luck… :thumbsup:


#17

[quote=itsjustdave1988]Hmmmm… what Church Militant said. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

:hmmm: Thanks Dave! We must’ve posted w/in seconds of each other Great stuff though isn’t it!

:smiley:


#18

catholic.com/library/practical_apologetics.asp This is Catholic Apologetics.>


#19

God bless you.

I have been moderating a young adult apologetics class for five years now… 24-28 classes Sept thru May. What a wonderful experience.

I have also tried a few agenda’s with the adults. The most recent was the most responsive. I used Mark Brumley’s How Not To Share Your Faith as an outline for the 4 sessions. We would explore two “do nots” per session (there are seven chapters) and use examples of Protestant vs Catholic beliefs that gave attendees a better picture of what apologetics really is…and is not.

I was pleased, no amazed, at how much more involved the adults were. It led them to ask more questions, and give more senarios, from their own lives… like “some one at work…” or " a familiy member said…" “my neighbor left the church because…”

I feel the incentive to continue learning after the sessions were completed was multiplied when they saw how widespread the need for apologetics really is. One couple has even gone to a local seminary to ask why priests are not taught more apologetics like they used to be. And they are willing to fund the cost of materials to the seminarians if need be.

Anyway, we can’t teach in 4 sessions what the Church has taught for 2000 years. So my opinion is we need to plant the mustard seed.

And have food… either danish, or pizza, or snacks… Make them comfortable and give time for Q&A.


#20

thank you for all those resources about apologetics. at the moment i only have a few books by david currie, scott hahn and father frank chacon that i use for answers if not i always go to website and bookmark them. :blessyou:


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