Retrieving Apologetics

A number of Catholics, including theologians, think that the Church should not engage in apologetics. These critics claim that Vatican II made apologetics obsolete by calling for the Church to embrace, and no longer turn its back on, the modern world. They say theology is supposed to engage pressing contemporary issues that affect everyone, but apologetics seems to rehash irrelevant topics while undermining fruitful dialogue by provoking division and strife.

Ironically, the documents of Vatican II make the exact opposite claim. They implore the faithful to evangelize the world with apologetics. For decades following Vatican II, a reasoned defense of Christianity became passé due to a widespread crisis of faith. Catholics must overcome their spiritual malaise and misplaced priorities by employing reason to fulfill the Church’s mission to evangelize the world. Reason, says John Paul II, “should be seen as a fundamental and original contribution in service of the new evangelization” (Fides et Ratio, 103).

On the Need for Apologetics
Let us turn to some positive reasons why Catholics should engage in apologetics.

First, Scripture commands it. In Jude 3, Christians are told to “contend for the faith.” Paul saw his own role as that of an apologist. In Phillipians 1:16, he wrote, “I am here for the defense of the Gospel.” The central apologetics passage of the New Testament says (1 Pet. 3:15), “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” Notice that St. Peter says we are to always be ready to give a defense, not just sometimes.

Second, God created human beings with the ability to reason. Catholic theology has never held to the total depravity of the human person, which is more at home in certain Protestant circles. According to Catholic theology, God expects us to use reason. It also helps people to determine what is true, and how to justify one’s beliefs. Without reason, there is no justification for holding to any one set of certain beliefs over and against another set of beliefs.

Third, apologetics helps inculturate the Gospel. Catholics must be able to understand the wider cultural context where they live in order for evangelization to be effective. The intellectual zeitgeist of the modern West can be traced back to the secular philosophies of the Enlightenment. The hallmark of this movement was to free humanity from what it saw as the shackles of organized religion, marked not by reason but by superstition. The upshot of these materialistic philosophies is that faith is considered equivalent to an opinion or personal taste; only that which is observable through the senses and understood through reason is worthy of public discussion and debate. By employing reasoned argument, apologists can “speak a language” that unbelievers can understand. Ironically, it is a hallmark of modernity that reasoning has fallen out of favor. It is the task of the faithful to recover rational discourse in the service of truth.

Fourth, the results of apologetics confirm its effectiveness despite the claims of skeptics. After trying to debunk the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, Frank Morrison became a Catholic after recognizing the historical evidence for the resurrection. C.S. Lewis came to believe in Christ under the influence of apologetics. St. Augustine embraced Catholicism after hearing a thoughtful Catholic debate with a Manichean. The former atheist, Antony Flew, recently became a philosophical theist because of arguments for God’s existence. These and other notable examples confirm that apologetic defenses have accompanied conversions and a change of mind.

Moreover, the popular objection “only the Holy Spirit brings persons to Christ, not human arguments” is a completely shortsighted understanding of reason and theology. It limits what an infinite God can do. It is not the Holy Spirit or human reason. Rather, it is the Holy Spirit working through persons who use good arguments to reach unbelievers with the Gospel.

Some people claim apologetics is ineffective in their witness. However, what these individuals tend to overlook is that conversions often take place over time. We simply do not know how or when God will use the things we say in our apologetic witness. The seed may sprout in a few days or a few years down the road.

Conversely, everyone who entrusts themselves in faith has a reason for becoming Catholic. Not having a reason for faith is tantamount to saying that one has faith by accident. So the principle question should not be whether or not there are reasons for faith, but what kind of reasons one already has absorbed into his or her Catholic outlook. By denying the efficacy of apologetics, critics are themselves revealing their own irrationality and unfaithfulness by effectively admitting having no justification for their own belief.

An apologetical mind conforms to the heart of Christ. Hiding the truth is not a sign of love for Christ, but of fear and unbelief. If Catholics truly believe that Jesus is Lord, then they will make the attempt to win converts for him in every way that is humanly possible, not just in ways that exclude verbal persuasion. Arguments can and must be given for faith. However, apologists should not be argumentative because they will likely fall short of the ultimate objective: persuasion and conversion. Apologists are defenders, not defensive, of Catholic truth.

Moreover, the apologist is not exclusively concerned with persuading unbelievers, but also seeks to inspire believers. In this way, apologetics is needed for believers to become confident about what they believe in order to explain and live out their faith. Like a good sermon, apologetics strengthens the faith of believers. And just like catechesis in the years immediately following Vatican II, apologetics fell out of use because of growing doubt as to what Catholics believed. Thus, a successful apologetics is a sign of a confident Church.

Of course, apologetics can sometimes make people feel uncomfortable. This reaction may stems from apprehending the truth about Christ and his Church (cf. John 3:19-21). With this realization in mind, we should not only be ready to give a reason for Christian hope; we should also prepare ourselves for rejection, if not persecution. A hostile response is not necessarily the result of a failed apologetics but the reaction to a countercultural message.

Lastly, believers should engage in apologetics because a blind faith can lead to self-destruction and a reasoned faith can lead to sanctity. Richard Dawkins once noted that faith “leads people to believe in whatever it is so strongly that in extreme cases they are prepared to kill and die for it without the need for further justification.” Dawkins is partially correct: blind faith can lead one down the path of violence. But a healthy faith will seek to understand the object in which their faith is placed. A healthy faith does not forget to use reason.

Magisterium and Apologetics
The Magisterium urges the faithful to engage the world with apologetical arguments. The Council, for instance, did not break off from Sacred Tradition but rather called upon believers to defend the Gospel and Church teaching. For instance, the Council urged “all the disciples of Christ, persevering in prayer and praising God, should present themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Everywhere on earth they must bear witness to Christ and give an answer to those who seek an account of that hope of eternal life which is in them” (Lumen gentium, 10). In the Declaration on Religious Liberty, we read: “The disciple has a grave obligation to Christ, his Master, to grow daily in his knowledge of the truth he has received from him, to be faithful in announcing it, and vigorous in defending it without having recourse to methods which are contrary to the spirit of the Gospel” (14).

Further, Catholics are not merely called to dialogue with non-Christians, but must seek to convert them to the risen Christ (Optatium Totius, 16; Ad Gentes, 30, 39, 40). The Constitution on Divine Revelation goes so far as to say that we must “fight in defense of the faith” (8). Of course, this phrase is stressing the great lengths that Catholics must go in order to preserve the Church’s doctrine against challenges that confront the Church.

Moreover, it is well known that one of the great themes of Gaudium et Spes has to do with reading the signs of the times. In reading the culture, Catholics are not only called to engage outsiders with arguments for faith, they must learn effective ways to reach doubters with the Gospel. Method and context must be taken into consideration for effective evangelization to take place.

Apologetics and Dialogue
Some critics think that the Church should replace apologetics with dialogue. We have already provided some of the reasons why Catholics should engage in apologetics, including justification from Vatican II documents. While dialogue serves a valuable purpose, it is not a replacement for apologetics but a compliment to it. Nor does Church teaching countenance the elevation of dialogue to the detriment of apologetics. Dialogue has its time and place. Dialogue is not about conversion. The Magisterium urges the faithful to dialogue with members of other world religions because the presence of the Spirit can be found outside the Church.

However, the call to enter into dialogue with non-Catholics is equally marked by the concern to evangelize them (cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio). Nowhere does Scripture, Tradition, or Catholic teaching qualify who should be (or should not be) evangelized. Furthermore, the well-received document, Dialogue and Proclamation, settled the debate between evangelization and the dialogical paradigm. The Pontifical Council confirmed that proclamation holds a “permanent priority” (44) over dialogue. So although both of these enterprises play their own unique role in certain circumstances in the Church, they “are not on the same level” (77).

Practical and Theoretical Apologetics
Still other critics suggest that doubters do not come to faith through reasoned arguments. Instead, they say, people come to faith through experience.

Admittedly, the experience of Christian unity can help to foster faith. Be that as it may, ecumenists need to include apologetical tactics to attain full, visible unity. Indeed, trying to separate ecumenism from apologetics is like trying to separate blue and red from the color purple. For example, ecumenists rightly demand that Catholics familiarize themselves with other viewpoints. Theological knowledge of other faith traditions is necessary for apologists to achieve religious unity. Full communion will come about only through the embrace of truth.

Catholic tradition also emphasizes the persuasive power of holiness and charity. For example, this “apologetics of love” is displayed by the life and death of martyrs. As Tertullian said, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The Martyrs provide “evidence of a love” that does not need to be defended in order to convince honest inquirers about the faith.

However, in all of these cases, the theoretical should not immediately be brushed to the side. Although many Catholics take great pains to stress the importance of love, it must be stressed that if one loves, then he or she will speak and defend the truth to the beloved. Holiness and love may be more than rational, but they are certainly not less than rational. Conversely, if one uses argument, then this can become a means by which one is sanctified. Of course, apologetics is not always needed, and is dependent on the context of the discussion.

Apologetics and Relevance
Many other critics believe that the notion of defending Christianity does not have relevance. For them, faith is not supposed to remain enclosed within the realm of thought, but must turn outward in service to one’s neighbor. However, this objection ignores the role apologetics plays in motivating religious and charitable action.

Apologetics can enhance a minister’s awareness and confidence to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. In this respect, apologetics might safeguard believers from becoming indifferent about evangelization. If we do not consider that it is important for others to hear the Gospel, we will question its importance for ourselves.

Recall, too, that an anti-apologetic mindset can destroy the driving impetus underlying missions. If dialogue is understood in the erroneous sense that faith in Jesus is unnecessary or unimportant, and that Christians only have to dialogue to understand one another for mutual enrichment, then the missionary mandate loses its underlying rationale. But evangelization is essential to the Church’s life. Missionary drive is a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is evidence of a crisis of faith.

Part of the reason for this lessening is due to a reductive understanding of ministry that forgets the importance of reasoned defenses of the faith. The Church is not merely supposed to be inclusive, but is called to be expansive. Conversely, if the Church is not expansive, then one must seriously question whether the Church is fulfilling its mission. The apologetic mandate provides an impetus for the missions.

Conclusion
Many believers recognize the deleterious effects that de-Christianization is having on society. Part of the reason why indifferentism is gaining such strong headway in the West is due to the ongoing separation of faith and reason. When this separation occurs, the fundamentals of the faith are seen as opinions or personal preferences, undermining one’s motivation to believe in the Gospel. Of course, if faith is nothing other than an opinion, then why seek to evangelize others to believe in the Gospel when the Christian faith is strictly a matter of taste?

The teaching of Vatican II on apologetics needs to be retrieved if the spiritual tide is to turn against the ongoing progress of secularization. Criticism of apologetics is often evidence of a loss of confidence in reason and a lack of faith in the Gospel characteristic of the crisis of faith in the decades following the Second Vatican Council. Apologetics thus serves two vital functions: to build up the faith of Catholics and to spread the Good News of Christ across the globe. Other theological developments in the Church (e.g., ecumenism, dialogue, holiness, and practical relevance) that have displaced apologetics in the last half century lose much of their rationale unless they are grounded in the biblical mandate to evangelize the world.

Editor’s note: The image above titled “St. John Chrystostomos (c.347-407) Preaching Before the Empress Eudoxia” was painted by Joseph Wencker in 1880.

Glenn B. Siniscalchi

By

Glenn B. Siniscalchi currently serves as Assistant Professor of Theology at Notre Dame College in Sough Euclid, Ohio. He earned his PhD in systematic theology from Duquesne University in 2013. His articles have appeared in a number of academic journals including the Heythrop Journal, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, New Blackfriars, Theology and Science, Pacifica: Australasian Theological Studies, Journal of Interreligious Dialogue, Faith and Reason, Josephinum Journal of Theology, and Irish Theological Quarterly.

  • Philip Lishman

    This is the argument I use to argue that a belief in the existence of God is logical – a necessary prerequisite before one can begin to explore the nature of God, and accept Christ.

    The argument also introduces the fact that we can reason that the disposition of God towards human beings is as Christ tells us it is.

    Morality then logically stems from this as the attempt by human beings to emulate the behaviour of God in His treatment of man with each other and those weaker than themselves.


    Creatures at any given level of development are in many cases not directly aware of the presence of more advanced creatures, even when those creatures are all around them.

    Think about how a worm experiences being handled and moved by a human: It experiences our intervention in its life as changes in the weather and environment (as we move it from one place to another), and as subjective sensations and forces (as we handle it). It does not experience our interventions directly, and has no sense that there is volition behind them.

    Unless human beings are the apex of life’s development in the universe, then we are logically in a similar position with respect to much more advanced creatures than man, and we may expect them not to be directly perceptible to us.

    As with the worm and humans, we also must expect to experience their interventions in our lives as changes in the weather and environment, as subjective sensations, and as forces – individual examples of which we, having the concepts to do so (we are not worms), would usually attribute to coincidence and luck.

    Now, logically, just as we see there is a hierarchy of intelligence and ability amongst less developed creatures than ourselves, there is most likely the same amongst more advanced creatures than man.

    Therefore there must be one of these creatures who is the apex power, and one who is the apex predator.

    But we can know something of these beings:

    * We can know that the apex power is not the same being as the apex predator, because if he were, we would have been eaten.

    * We can know that the apex power is not a predator, otherwise we would have been eaten.

    * We can know that the apex power is stronger than the apex predator, because if he were not, we would have been eaten.

    * Finally, we can know that the apex power cares deeply for us, and is disposed towards us as Christ tells us he is, because if he were not, he would have left us to the apex predator, and we would have been eaten.

    We’ve not been eaten.

  • Gail Finke

    A fear of being over-argumentative or putting doctrine before love seems to be behind this distaste for apologetics. But you can’t pass on or share what you don’t know, and you can’t live a faith you don’t understand. If you don’t know how Catholicism is different from other faiths or from Christian sects, you will just be confused. Truth and confusion do not go together.

    • St JD George

      The real fear should be in keep doing the same thing over and over (nothing) and expecting a different result, we see where that is getting us. I agree that most aren’t comfortable openly evangelizing, but all are capable of understanding their faith, understanding the common confusion that exists in the world, and being able to defend when challenged at least some things or better yet help when those minds and hearts are open to explain without looking like a deer in the headlights. Included in that is of course sometimes the honest response “I don’t know” with a friendly offer to get back or offer to discuss with a knowledgeable person. I know it’s not easy, and it’s not a fire that’s going to rage among the lukewarm, but passivity is like a bowl of cold vomit … to me anyway.

      • CCIG

        I agree. It is not suppose to be comfortable. But it is the essence of being something called a Christian. So, those powers that be have thought themselves into thinking that the Holy Roman Catholic Church should cease to be THE church of Jesus Christ! Then, what are they? The NWO church that has each person being his own god? Billy Graham is closer to the truth than this bunch! Still, as for me and mine, we’ll outlast them and BE Catholic until he comes again. Come, Lord Jesus, Come! Glad you are out there!~

        • St JD George

          And you as well, and many others here as well. I’ve half joked before about praying for his return, but like he told us I chose not to be anxious about the hour and the day. Better to be focused like an accountant on our ledger realizing that it could be any time, whether it be our own mortality or his triumphant return.
          A priest once told me as I was coming into the church to be prepared for standing under a huge tent with a noisy crowd and many voices crying out to be heard, even though the one voice we are called to be attuned to is the word of Jesus Christ, including and no exception those called to Holy Orders.

  • St JD George

    Good gracious, it’s needed now more than ever – certainly in modern times. There are so many people walking around in the world whose heads are full of secular garbage that have no idea what the Church really stands for and who need a guiding, loving hand to help them. Studying apologetics for those who are capable and willing (i.e. not everyone has the same ability, but everyone has some capacity) should almost be mandatory to help the faithful engage the world as it is, not as we wish it to be … or to make the world a place more like we wish it to be, in Christ’s image.

    • Rich Coleman

      People don’t have time for your nonsense.

  • BXVI

    The idea that we should abandon apologetics is just plain stupid, not to mention un-biblical. Unfortunately, Pope Francis seems to be making it one of the pillars of his papacy. It will have disastrous consequences.

    Pope Francis should take a cue from his namesake, who risked his life during the Crusades to preach Jesus Christ to the Sultan face-to-face. St. Francis engaged in some spectacular apologetics, not only explicating the Christian faith and doctrine to the Sultan but telling him in no uncertain terms that God would not accept his soul if he refused to accept Christ.

    • St JD George

      I came back and read your reply again and was struck this time at the contrast with his namesake. Try as I may I can’t construct the image of a similar encounter occurring today. We seem to be in a pacifist age of Christianity where the social doctrine of go-along-to-get-along holds more standing. That sounds all well and good to the pacifist denying evil exists in the world and naively believing that those who don’t believe in Christ are happy to live by that same standard. They aren’t, some are driven by the dark prince to actively destroy Christ’s church in this world while others are lukewarm and happy to follow wherever the prevailing secular winds blow, like lemmings without any belief system other than hedonism. There will be a price for carrying the cross, but how will we be judged by our acts in these times?
      http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/01/28/christian-product-engineer-claims-ford-motor-fired-him-for-voicing-his-bible-based-opposition-to-the-companys-promotion-of-pro-homosexual-ideas-now-hes-fighting-back/

  • John-Boy

    This site is awesome. Great articles all the time. Where do they find all these good people who write with such clarity?

    • St JD George

      Welcome. This site doesn’t have a big advertising budget and so relies on word of mouth by the faithful.

    • If you like it, write a check to support it.

      • Rich Coleman

        Everybody’s got their hand out.

    • Crisiseditor

      Thank you for your words of encouragement and support. We are trying to meet a need that is lacking in Catholic online publishing and reactions like yours tell us we are making some headway.

  • samnigromd

    People are SUGGESTIBLE..ever since original sin. People need instructing and reminding of the transcendent, virtue, and the basics of humanbeingness in concert with NATURE AND NATURE’S GOD.

    A
    Suggestibility Prevention Program—

    Not true, not one, not good, not beautiful?

    FORGETABOUTIT!”

    by: Samuel A. Nigro,
    M.D.

    April, 2008

    ABSTRACT:

    Fifty years of information
    technology has overwhelmed the Church’s traditional role as the source
    of all that is true, one, good and beautiful. Therefore, Original Sin prevails
    as humans have been proven to be gullible and suggestible about anything if it is
    packaged sensationally. Suggestibility Prevention Programs can help
    everyone understand ways to cope with antitranscendental messages flooding us.
    The soul is analyzed transcendentally, and reference material is provided to
    help all, especially youths, to not be so suggestible and gullible. Until this
    is done, the Church will always come in second to the suggestibility experts of
    current information technology

    (If not with this article, mentioned
    reference material will be provided upon request from Sam@DocNigro.com. Just
    ask for “And Satan Turned Into An Angel of Light”, for “YUK the Press and
    Media,” for Chapter 12 on “Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Virtues and Sin” from my
    book Happy Ending, for “The Ten Commandments of CounterSecularization,”
    for the poster “Why Burn A Flag When You Can Burn A Newspaper,” for “The
    Journalism Ethics and Public Service Award,” for “Ideas: You Are What You
    Think,” and for “The Lack Of Survival Stress.” )

    Problems today for the Roman Catholic
    Church devolve to one major sin of omission:
    the failure to adjust and cope with information technology, a
    problem first addressed in 1994 by my pamphlet “And Satan Turned Into An Angel
    Of Light.” The problem persists. One report says that one-third of raised
    Catholics do not remain in the Church, while the dearth of vocations to
    priesthood and religious life speaks for itself…and the reason is that the five
    decade culture of information technology suggests (seduces to) other ways of thinking
    and living (“Seduction” is almost always equivalent to “suggestibility” in this
    article). Indeed, with the flood of
    messages and suggestions from the world wide web, one hardly knows what to read
    much less what to believe.

    To counter this, I now offer a Suggestibility
    Prevention Program, not to stop suggestibility itself which would be
    impossible, but to help all learn to avoid being suggested to evil i.e., to
    avoid being seduced to sensationalism, emotion, unreason, fantasy and non-being
    by the mass media of pretendvision (television, movies and internet) and of
    liarpresses (the liberal press) all without allegiance to much more than
    disgust, death, sex, and evil (the pursuit of non-being).

    The contemporary press and media are
    generally nothing more than suggestibility machines and manipulation gadgets,
    used to get people to believe and do what the owners of the press and media
    want and are willing to accept. Those in
    charge of these mind control monstrosities are usually “liberals” meaning they
    are relativists i.e., open-minded for anything except that which they really do
    not like, at which time they become fascists causing the named “Free Flow Of
    Information Act” to be a joke. But
    “suggestibility,” their suggesting, is the name of the game, and their
    brutal intolerance of that with which they disagree is never seen as
    self-contradictory and self-discrediting to their eager so-called openness
    (liberalness) to all things.

    Actually, suggestibility is proof of the
    Bible story of Adam and Eve. The serpent
    suggested (advertised, sold) the idea that they would be like God and live
    forever if they ate the forbidden fruit when, without realizing, they already
    were made in the “image and likeness of God” and if living rightly would
    already live forever. Thus, as
    satanically suggested, they made the wrong choice and broke the up to
    then automatic transcendental existence for all humanity. “Choosing wrong” became possible, and
    suggestibility (the convincing of another by rhetorical power), first offered in
    the biblical story, became part of human nature, also proving that some myths
    are true. Basically, Original Sin
    continues as man’s suggestibility, and it haunts us day in and day out,
    especially with the advent of current slick information technology flooding us
    in our homes, cars, theaters and everywhere.
    Information technology is a “look at me”, “believe me,” “do what I show
    and tell” suggestibility contest (and, more often than not, if we see it, we
    will do it, proving Original Sin).
    Information technology today has only a facade of logic and cares little
    for “reality” except to occasionally claim it.

    It is evident that ever since Adam and Eve,
    humans have competed for what and whom to believe. We all offer suggestions, this paper being an
    example of such. However, being reminded
    that we are in a continuous showbiz circus of suggestions can reduce
    impulsiveness and thoughtlessness in making choices about what to believe and
    do. Further helpful is the truism that a
    major way to confirm the acceptability of any suggestion is that the ideas
    offered can be applied to themselves, something rarely true outside of what is
    compatable with Natural Law, the metaphysics of
    St. Thomas Aquinas and the Transcendentals.

    Given all that, it is time for Suggestibility
    Prevention Programs to help everyone understand that we are being suggested
    to, manipulated, and shamelessly influenced to believe and act in certain ways
    never more enticing, seductive, and slick than with and by the contemporary
    press and media imposing what is paid for and what is demanded by whoever is
    paying. Without proper understanding of
    this, people have been and will be suggested to do almost anything—from running
    around naked to running concentration camps and everything in between.

    Especially, youth and the immature are
    prone to be suggested into all sorts of anti-transcendental aspects of
    existence which do little for the common good and are against individual
    positive development. Finally, the flagrantly
    stupid self exposures rampant on the world wide web are unimpeachable proof of
    the need for Suggestibilty Prevention Programs.
    Something is clearly needed to better prepare all youths, including the
    college and university bound, for the pandemic of liberal assaults on life,
    family, country, God, and virtue.

    Twelve
    Elementary Suggestions to Prevent Suggestibilty

    Beginning in grade schools, calculated
    educational efforts and experiences need to be taught on a regular basis about
    “not being so suggestible or gullible.”
    Consistent with that, the following suggestions are made:

    1. A
    newspaper or media story would be brought in daily and reviewed with an effort
    to identify suggestions if not errors in the article and discern what the
    writer was trying to get you to believe and do.
    An atmosphere of healthy doubt will occur in the discussions of
    alternative ways of presenting and interpreting the information provided. The universal questions will be: Why is this information presented this way;
    what do they want you to buy; and is it junk food or junk ideas? These questions should be automatic with
    every statement in the press and media not only in newspapers but in what is
    seen in television, movies and on the internet.
    Make no mistake about it: Every
    word in the press and media has been chosen to suggest something to you.

    2. Suggestibility
    Prevention Commandments to be learned:

    1. Do not be so
    impressionable.

    2. Do not be so
    gullible.

    3. Do not be a
    “monkey see, monkey do copycat” – you are not a monkey.

    4. Celebrities are
    fakes. Actors are fakes. It takes them hours to look that way and they
    get paid to carry on like that. Consider
    none of it to be real. Be who you
    are. The seeking and promoting of
    non-being is evil unless known to be entertainment.

    5. Believe nothing
    on television, in movies, on internet or in newspapers without two
    confirmations. The most you can usually
    hope for is to be entertained.

    6. Do not believe,
    do anything, or imitate except what is true, one, good and beautiful no matter
    what is done, offered or believed by others.

    7. Materially, you
    are what you eat. But spiritually you
    are what you think and will become what
    you think and do … so think matter, identity, truth, oneness, good and
    beauty, and all will be well or better.

    8. In the long run
    you will get for eternity (in heaven, purgatory or hell) whatever you have
    thought and done … so think and do what is true, one, good, and
    beautiful. You are what you think, and
    you will get forever in justice in an afterlife what you think and do on earth
    as a reward or punishment as the case may be—so do what is transcendental so you
    will get what is transcendental!

    9. Boycott all
    antispiritual dehumanizing degrading anti-nature glitzy nonsense from the
    uncivilizing unreliable press and media.
    Do not spend your life doing, thinking, or promoting unreality or
    non-being.

    10. Do not be
    suggestible. You are not missing a thing.
    Do the transcendentals and avoid evil!

    These prevention
    commandments are to be learned and discussed thoroughly.

    3. On
    a monthly basis, review portions of “Satan Turned Into an Angel of Light…” so
    that the entire pamphlet is covered each year.

    4. On
    a quarterly basis, review portions of “Yuk, the Press and Media.” This book provides the vocabulary and
    imagery necessary to prevent the ethnic cleansing routinely offered by the
    slick press and media.

    5.
    Because of the flagrant exploitation of human sexuality, the dysphoric
    but exciting, the vulgar but sensuous, the antisocial but exhilarating, the
    destructive but satisfying, and the antiplanet but self-inflating sexuality
    imposed by the press and media, more than anything, needs defusing and reduced
    to elementary understanding in order for people not to be suggestible and not
    to have to imitate all the unnatural polluting crudities seen. Sex sensationalism will never be minimized
    so it must be defused by repetitive clarifications that, for all the animal
    kingdom of which man is a part, sex is for reproduction. Period.
    When not for reproduction, sex is animal cruelty, a form of excretion,
    or non-being. Any exceptions are
    isolated deviations readily discerned as abnormalities from environmentally
    sound nature. Thus, contemporary
    non-marital human sexuality flooding the world is behavioral pollution and,
    pure and simple, against the animal kingdom, the planet and nature. Non-reproductive sexuality is a form of
    excretion better known as “sexcretion,” which is to dediaper each other and
    bring one another to “squirt/moan” or “slime/squeal” anyway possible. Such sex polluting ideas are primarily due to
    the press and media suggesting ejaculation (a simple neurological reflex) and
    its anticipation as the ultimate all-encompassing life experience to vulnerable
    excitable suggestible people, especially youth.
    To offset that, the attached Addendum:
    “1 Page Suggestibilty Education And Sex Education For All People” needs
    yearly promulgation in all schools. To
    allow this simple ejaculation reflex to be supreme ruler of the brain and body
    is absolute idiocy even if everyone suggests that should be the case.

    6. Suggestibilty is made more salutary if the
    meaning of the soul is taught and reminded of daily as the personification of
    one’s Transcendentals. The soul is the
    personification of the permanent things in our existence. That is, all being at the human level
    needs Transcendental awareness and Transcendental projection because that is
    the only way to “save” our souls. All
    else, all else, is impermanent.

    The soul contains six discernible
    components of being known as Transcendentals: the embraced material
    substance (res), forming identity (aliquid), truth (verum),
    oneness (unum), good (bonum) and beauty (bella). To relate in tune with the universe and all
    Nature, to be Catholic encompassing all possible, to be genuinely free, and to
    “save one’s soul,” each of the six dimensions listed of the soul needs to be
    enthusiastically promoted and projected at all times. The Transcendentals are basic elements to
    genuine humanbeingness:

    1. The embraced-by-the-soul material substance (res)
    of one’s being must be fostered, cared for, and engaged in and with the world. Res is our body. It must be used. It is our matter and our organizing fathering
    capacity.

    2. One’s forming identity (aliquid) must
    be established and allowed full and free expression in confluence with the essence of humanity. Aliquid is the activating gentle
    mothering capacity, giving identity and essence to all.

    3. The truth (verum) of one’s being must
    be kept consistent, conforming and in social reality confluence with one’s
    self, one’s family, one’s community, one’s species, the planet and the
    universe.

    4. The oneness (unum) of a being is the
    unifying of desirables into a totality of being as oneself relates from family
    to the universe.

    5. The good (bonum) of one’s being must
    be projected in confluence with Natural Law.
    That is, Natural Law as it is perceived and understood must be followed
    and chosen. One must be environmentally
    sound not only in terms of the planet and nature but in terms of one’s own
    personal beingness as part of that environment.
    Human beings as individuals must be environmentally and behaviorally
    real and consistent with nature. Bonum
    is choosing transcendental work and life.

    6. One’s beauty (bella) must be projected
    in confluence with the uplifting dimension of being. That is, the best must be brought out in
    one’s self and in those capable of being influenced. Bella is the elevating and ascending
    of self and others.

    These six
    components of our souls, these Transcendentals (material substance, identity,
    truth, oneness, good and beauty), are how each human being needs to grasp the
    awareness of and to project in consciousness the transcendental embracing of
    all one deals with by intellect and will.
    In total, these six Transcendentals personified are one’s soul embracing
    the body as a composite person being.
    The soul contains not only our body but in equal proportion an identity, a truth, a oneness, a good, and a
    beauty, all of which need equal attention and expression. When one starts treating all of them as our
    body (res) is treated, the whole universe changes and we become immune
    to non-being (and able to resist the pursuit of non-being, which is evil,
    overwhelmingly offered and suggested by most of the press and media,).

    7. Something
    must be provided, offered, imposed, suggested, of course, which is transcendentally
    sound to functionally replace all the exciting glitz, the psychological
    nonsense, and the bewildering confusing idea pollution continuously flooding
    the suggestible world. Not only must all be warned and trained not
    to be easily suggestible, but something must be offered to take the
    place of what is seen and heard—not only to replace it in space but with
    insight, understanding, and functional positive alternatives, i.e., to replace
    non-being with being itself. Thus
    I recommend “Chapter 12: Gifts of the
    Holy Spirit, Virtues and Sin” from my book Happy Ending. To know what sin is, to know what
    salutary habits are, and to know the influences to virtue, is to be able to
    recognize evil (sin) when being suggested, the appropriate methods of coping
    (virtues), and the motivation to do what is transcendental (the Gifts of the
    Holy Spirit). In fact, almost all
    psychology can be replaced by this chapter which is more valuable than any
    suggested psychological fantasized processing.
    (Almost all psychology is irrelevant non-being when compared to the
    knowledge of sins, virtues and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; because whenever
    psychology provides valid interpretations, documentations and actions, the
    meanings and significance thereof are fundamentally and incontrovertibly in
    terms of sin and virtue, a fact usually overlooked, ignored or denied. Even
    with volumes of Freudian or scientific data, all psychology can be replaced, in
    the final analysis, by a knowledge of sin, virtue and the Gifts.) In short, the information in these pages
    should be an annual educational experience because they will be more
    explanatory and functional for the common good and for individual positive
    development. Truly, “humanbeingness” cannot
    be understood without understanding sin, virtue and the Gifts of the Holy
    Spirit.

    8. The
    Ten Commandments of CounterSecularization are to be studied learned and taught
    yearly. These are attached or available
    by email as a separate article.

    9. A
    work of art poster “WHY BURN A FLAG WHEN YOU CAN BURN A NEWSPAPER?” is offered
    as a classroom aid. It is the first
    “PRESS ED” ever offered anywhere. It
    provides all the vocabulary and information needed to understand and cope
    better with the press and media. It was
    first promoted in 1991 as something to “immunize…to cope with PAMS…the Press-And-Media
    Syndrome (the most devastating mind-killing disorder in the history of the
    world).” An enlargement of this poster
    should be in every classroom.

    10.
    The JOURNALISM ETHICS AND PUBLIC
    SERVICE AWARD was begun in 1994. It
    conveys information exhaustively helping to understand and diminish the
    suggestibility of the press and media. Never
    has the press and media been more accurately described. This is an essential study deserving
    distribution to all in every school on an annual basis. Actually, almost all in the press and media
    should be mockingly referred to as “American Royalty.” The New York Times and Hollywood represent
    the castles, and all in the press and media in general represent the worst of
    all kings and queens who ever lived.
    They have ordained themselves for the people as divine providers of
    outlandish pretenses of justice and charity by unconditional legitimacy and
    authority to manipulate and suggest their beliefs. The American Royalty provide government of
    the press&media, by the press&media and for the press&media. Never call any of them “journalist x” or
    “actress/actor x” or “editor x” and so on, but “royalty x!” It is “The New York Times royalty” or
    “Hollywood royalty”—they know it all, are in charge of everything, and are
    never wrong—THEY ARE ROYALTY in the worst sense, and they should NEVER be
    allowed to forget it.

    11.
    The article “Ideas: You Are What
    You Think” describes how we turn into that which we see, hear and believe,
    obviously true if one follows those who left the Church for the suggestions of
    the mass media.

    12.
    Finally, Suggestibility Prevention Programs are needed to enable all to
    be able to focus on what is really salutary.
    The distractions from the press and media are so overwhelming that
    people have lost the ability to participate rather than just mindlessly
    wait for entertainment. The passivity of
    doing nothing, of thinking nothing, and of inactive thoughtless watching
    flickering lights and reading ink smudges without really participating in an
    activity, is detrimental to one’s being.
    A good example of that is the losing of participation in the Mass by
    passive numbness as described in “The Lack Of Survival Stress” available by
    e-mail.

    Conclusion:

    Recognizing and promoting A
    Suggestibility Prevention Program will be to move to the new world, the new
    age, the new millennium, the new man (male and female), and to assist in the prevention of
    suggestibility for all that is
    antitranscendental. And maybe the Church will be able to offset the avalanche
    of seductive suggestions from the press and media. Furthermore, the projection of one’s personal
    Transcendentals will enhance the bursting forth of peace on earth. By suggestibility prevention, people will be better
    immune to the Culture of Disgust and the Age of Anathema both characterized by
    labial linguistics, proctological exuberance, flirtation with feces,
    boobsolatry, phallic abuse, psychological hubris, willful entropy, and violence
    … in other words, the defeat of the Mortuary Life and escape from “the fallen
    West” and from “the pagan (demanding agreement to non-being) non-West.” So stand aside to protect your own but
    vigorously challenge all suggestions against Transcendental life, taking
    comfort in your loneliness, because while the mass media gives little, the rain
    Baptizes, the wind gives Penance, the bright warm sunlight gives Holy
    Communion, the cold gives Confirmation, the heat gives Extreme Unction, the
    lightning gives Holy Orders, and the thunder gives Matrimony. By the Transcendentals, suggestibility
    becomes salutary and the Sacraments are
    everywhere; the Incarnation is
    completed; Redemption is in hand; and Resurrection is just around the
    corner. But you will hardly ever get
    any of that from the press and media but a myriad of suggestions for
    non-being. That is, all sorts of
    non-being are offered by the mass media seducing all from the transcendental
    life,…and, once again, the pursuit of non-being is evil. The more evil one does, the more one’s being
    is annihilated and one is converted into that black hole of negative
    nothingness wherein one repeats for eternity against oneself all the evil
    (promotion of non-being) one has perpetrated while on earth. But by following and living the Sacraments,
    one’s identified matter flows on a transcendental conduit of truth, oneness,
    good and beauty, to and through eternity.
    All you have to do is reject Original Sin by not being suggestible to
    non-being and what is not real. And,
    then one can relax knowing that Easter is coming.

    You are what you think. You will get what you do. Be transcendental not suggestible. A Suggestibilty Prevention Program is needed.

    • St JD George

      Sam, there is a lot of wisdom reflected in your words. I read through once and I will reread through again later to pick up on the things I missed. As a matter of principle I hate to disparage technology but I do see the negative consequences that you point out (kind of like guns don’t kill people, people with their hand on the trigger with intent do).

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Sam…you’ve got waay too much time on your hands, my friend. Just do what Paul told Timothy and: “PREACH THE WORD!!—PEACE IN CHRIST!

  • LHJ

    My faith was greatly strengthened by Catholic apologetics. Learning how to answer the questions of non- catholic friends helped me more than them. This benefit ought not be under estimated. Peace be with you,L

    • Rich Coleman

      Is apologetics the art of BS’ing?

  • cestusdei

    We need apologetics now more then ever.

    • Glenn Siniscalchi

      Thanks Cestusdei! In Christ, Glenn

    • Rich Coleman

      What do you mean “We” white man?

  • me, myself & I r all here

    good article, thank you,
    still i’m a bit confused by the initial assertion: “a number of Catholics, including theologians, think”…….. could the good dr. name a few that he might be aware of,
    with the likes of dynamic catholic, the king’s men, ewtn, catholic answers, first things & crisis……. not to mention the growing popularity of men’s conferences (yes, like the 1st disciples, the women have already been there………) and groups, it seems that the pendulum is swinging so much in favor of apologetics that i find it few, if any, who don’t see apologetics as necessary and vital!

    • Glenn Siniscalchi

      Hi, You make a good point. But there’s an awful lot of “Catholicism” out there that is not hospitable to the New Evangelization, let alone the discipline of apologetics. You need to go beyond the crowd of people that you mention in your comment.

  • Harry

    There is no doubt that apologetics is essential to evangelization, although it is not all that is essential if the New Evangelization is ever going to take place. If the life of a Christian does not correspond to the truth he proclaims then he has the credibility of a salesman who personally uses his competitor’s product.

    There are two products to choose from.

    Product One
    Product number one is sold by the prince of this world: You’re number one. Take care of yourself first. This life is all you have, so don’t risk losing what you’ve got for the sake of another. Let everybody else take care of themselves. Your own life is hard enough without taking on the burdens of others. It is all up to you to take care of number one. You can’t count on anybody else.

    Product Two
    Product number two is ours:

    Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.
    — Mt 6:25-33, Douay-Rheims

    If we used our own product the world would be entirely different. What if we actually sought first the kingdom of God and His justice? What if we actually trusted God, in the end, to add unto us all that we need if doing the right thing for Christ in His least brethren was going to cost us something?

    Here is what would happen if we used our own product: “Legal” baby killing would end. This is because we would be seeking the kingdom of God and His justice first like we are supposed to do. The resulting enhancement of society’s respect for human life would also enhance concern for the impoverished. After all, people who grow used to the child in the womb being routinely killed in their midst can’t be expected to do much about impoverished children in some far away place. A society that will not tolerate child-killing is much more likely to not be willing to tolerate child hunger.

    Christians in many cases don’t confront child-killing with an appropriate sense of urgency because they personally use product number one. These will not really be credible selling product number two.

    The New Evangelization will begin when enough Christians start using their product as well as selling it.

    • mn_catholic

      Am I the only one who doesn’t understand what “New Evangelization” means? There is evangelization (preaching the Gospel to unbelievers) which connects to spiritual works of mercy (consoling the doubter, admonishing sinners, instructing the ignorant), but I don’t understand how much any of this relates to the “New Evangelization.” It’s been 40 years now since “Evangelii nuntiandi” and given the results I think maybe it’s time to go back to the “Old Evangelization.”

      Overall I agree with everything you said in your post, but I’m thinking that it’s time for “New Evangelization” to go the way of “aggiornamento” and other such terms that were so popular in the immediate post-conciliar years.

      • Harry

        The Early Church converted the known world by living out the faith. The world knew the disciples of Christ by their love for one another (Christ said that would happen) and for the poor among them. This is the “Old Evangelization.” It is time to try it again.

      • jacobhalo

        If the pope doesn’t want to proselytize or use apologetics, what good will evangelization do?

      • Rich Coleman

        “New Evangelization” means preaching religion to people who’ve already heard it and decided it’s a big pile of crap.

    • Facile1

      Wow! Thank you for the clarity, Harry. Sometimes, fear seizes me that I mistake the day for night when it is merely fear eclipsing the Son of GOD.

      I hope you don’t mind that I cut and paste this and use it in my prayers.

      • Harry

        Hello, Facile1,

        Your remark made my day.

    • Rich Coleman

      Looking out for #1 has always worked for me.

  • JRR

    Yes John-Boy, the Fellowship are here; but so to have the followers of sauron been drawn into engagement with them. They are all right here for your discernment. Expect to encouter sarumans, orcs and gollums addicted to their sin; as well as many Boromirs who erroneously want to use the ring (sin) to bring about a good end. Many of them are here in diverse disguises – which always fail them in the light of truth, beauty and love. Many the rest of us faithful are like Samwise’s and Frodo’s journeying through this vale of tears. Arm yourself well with truth and reason, seek out Faramir and fight the good fight. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.

    • Rich Coleman

      You’re worse than a Trekkie.

  • Nick_Palmer3

    Good stuff, Glenn, at a strategic level. In my own life, most often the action of the Holy Spirt has been manifested in the words and actions of fellow human beings. And, I’ve read most of CSL, and some Augustine (few could claim to have read “most” or even “much”), and JRRT, and many others either formally or informally apologist-ing. Yet, each of those wrote or spoke in a particular context with an audience in mind. I certainly do try to act the apologist, with some halting successes and notable failures. But, it’s not a natural, intuitive act. At least for me.

    What I sense that many need is not to read more apologists, but rather guidance in how to BE an apologist. My daughter is a third-year at University of Edinburgh where the Catholic Students’ Union is very ably guided by Dominicans — priests, monks, and sisters. She receives regular advice and encouragement in being an effective apologist.

    So, how can a middle-aged man learn some of the tools and tricks? Maybe I’m of feeble mind, but simply reading a great apologist, while helpful, doesn’t get it done.

    • St JD George

      I can totally sympathize Nick. To be sure there is an art to verbal engagement and some have that innate skill more than others. In areas outside my specialty too often I find myself fumbling for a good response only to think of the perfect reply I should have given about an hour later. There is a so much to read and learn and not having spent a lifetime immersed in Catholic culture I feel like I’m playing catch up. I personally think the best way to hone those skills is through guided discussion groups where you can talk and engage with others (in a friendly atmosphere where emotions should be in check). I have looked and haven’t seen anything like that offered in our diocese either. This is a good conversation … I think I’ll bring up with my Pastor. I know there’s a lot of folks in Steubenville who would be up for it – maybe we could invite Scott Hahn down, or take a trip there. It needs to be broadly available though to have the most impact.

    • Glenn Siniscalch

      Dear Nick, The virtues help us to know how and when to act in a certain set of circumstances. One can build up the virtues through effort and experience. At the same time, let’s not sell the apologists short. When you read the apologists, you are in fact building up some intellectual virtues. The more you practice, the better you get at apologetics.
      Given that you are a middle aged man, you should have some idea of what I’m talking about. Your experience helps you to know when to speak and when not to speak/act. Your age has helped you. You’ve trained yourself in certain ways, whether you know it or not.
      You say: “simply reading an apologist, while helpful, doesn’t get it done.” Stop worrying about the immediate results. God calls you to be faithful; so don’t worry about immediate results. Again, practice. Virtue. Time. Experience. Be faithful, not calculating.

      • Nick_Palmer3

        Glenn, thanks for the reply. Let me dial back any false modesty. I do try to act the apologist, and do a pretty decent job at times. I’ve been blessed to be well educated, well read and fairly adept “convincing” in discussion and print. Quite a few years in a well-known 12-Step fellowship has afforded me lots of opportunity as an apologist, often merely for the existence of a loving God, and at times for Christ.

        Yet without guidance one is likely to plateau, and I worry that I have. Few golfers (or substitute your favorite high-skill activity) progress beyond a certain level without professional help. While we focus on the few who do, we need to recognize that 95 percent of professional golfers would be doing something else without having had systematic instruction.

        So, I’m stuck. I can watch (read) the masters, and admire what they do, but my own game isn’t improving. At least not as much as I’d like. And to add to the frustration, I am certain (!!) that there are tools and techniques that underly what effective apologists do. I’m also certain that many who regularly read sites like Crisis, The Catholic Thing, First Things, and The Imaginative Conservative do act as apologists in their own communities.

        I guess that I’ve appointed myself as spokesman (oops, sexist language…) for these huddled masses. Although I’m sure to be deposed soon, I will ask again about how one might go about taking his apologist “game” to the next level.

        Make sense?

        • Glenn B Siniscalchi

          I think I understand what
          you are saying, Nick. I tend to think that what I originally said in
          response to your first post still holds some water. The issue with
          the virtues. Virtue is applicable for everyone. We are habit forming creatures. The very fact that you think that guidance
          can help you to develop a certain skill shows that the capability is within
          your grasp (Rom. 6:13; 2 Tim. 2:20, 21).

          Admittedly, I am reminded
          of how my education has helped me to become a better writer, thinker, speaker, theologian,
          even a better person, etc.. So, I agree with you. Without guidance, I probably would have been
          unable to develop the skills that I now have. Guidance helps one to
          develop a skill that would have been very difficult to achieve without
          that help.

          You are capturing a very
          good point, one that Newman himself emphasized.
          By the way, are you from the UK? Reading
          or hearing about apologetics is one thing, but direct encounter with the
          experience of defending the faith is quite another. Experience goes beyond the books. You are right.

          It will be difficult for
          me to recommend something for you. We
          are all different. God works in each of
          us in different ways. But I still want
          to affirm that virtue will help you. Guidance
          and lived experience can intensify whatever you may get from reading the books or
          magazine articles.

          Let me try and place
          myself in your shoes. I remember hearing
          a speech by the British theologian N.T. Wright. I was utterly mesmerized by his ability to use
          certain words and argue powerfully for a certain point. His talks are highly apologetical, simply in
          virtue of his ability to deliver a message with elegance, intellectual rigor,
          and charisma. I don’t have those skills. Not by a long shot. But I try to do my best, and I know that as
          time goes on, I see some improvements here and there. Sometimes I regress. Sometimes I get better. All in all, things tend to get better, but
          slowly. I’m sure you have wisdom that
          the “younger Nick” did not have.

          Not sure if all this
          answers your question, but I don’t think there’s a single formula for getting
          better at apologetics. You need to
          read. But you also need guidance, lived
          experience, from actually being with apologists or evangelically minded Catholics. Yours in Christ, Glenn

          • Nick_Palmer3

            Glenn, Thanks, quite helpful. And, no, I’m a plain ol’ American. Two of my children, however, chose to save their parents a good deal of money by attending Scottish universities (my son at University of St. Andrews [Russell Kirk’s footsteps?] and my youngest daughter currently a Classical Studies major at U of Edinburgh). Great educations, great settings, even better cost-benefit ratios!

            Here’s a way to think about my “request.” My undergrad education was chemical engineering, followed by an MBA and a never-completed PhD in Business Economics. After 5 years as an engineer, I have spent 30 years as a business consultant. In fields like engineering and economics, much of the education consists of learning (and later developing) frameworks to assemble information and discern patterns. A simple example is looking at a company’s books. Most folks looking at an annual report would notice pictures of products and facilities, a nice note from the CEO about how wonderful the company is, and tables full of arcane numbers. Using my “frameworks” I can take those numbers and organize them quickly. The patterns tell me lots of very interesting stuff. Yes, a good deal of that pattern recognition is from experience (to your point). But it is enabled by a framework that “works.”

            I have come to philosophy and theology late in life — starting in my late 40’s. What I’ve begun to learn is that these “soft” disciplines also have their frameworks. When I read, for example, David Bentley Hart, it is obvious to me that not only is he much smarter than I, he also builds on an underlying “superstructure” of knowledge built up over many generations. My youngest daughter’s boyfriend, a recent Catholic convert, is an economics and philosophy major. Even talking to this 21-year-old about philosophy I can discern that he, like Hart, has assimilated these ways of framing and understanding philosophical information.

            So, I found your article, as I said, “strategically” exciting. That is, a clarion call to which I feel compelled to respond. My gut tells me that if one studied apologetics — in a university or a Dominican seminary — one would be taught some of this structure and these frameworks. There are always those savants who can do this kind of thing intuitively. Since that’s not me, I’m looking for “job aids.” And advice.

            God bless,
            Nick

            • Glenn B Siniscalchi

              Dear Nick, You explain yourself very well in your
              latest. What you say evokes a significant
              thought.

              There is no doubt that the best apologists know how to
              do theology well. So if you want to
              improve your apologetics, you have to know the theology. Look at theology (not books that are easily
              associated with apologetics) that is related to your interests (God, Christ,
              Church, Morals, Family, Sacraments, Religions, etc.). That may be a painful reality for apologetics
              junkies, because theology is not always the most interesting thing for them to
              learn. Theology is not always “cut-throat,”
              if you know what I mean. Not saying you
              are an apologetics junkie. But if you understand
              Catholic theology, then you will know how to defend the faith even better than
              those who spend most (or all) of their time reading apologetics. That is a painful reality that many
              enthusiastic apologists have yet to learn.

              Let me give you an example. If you read through recent papal encyclicals
              or the documents of Vatican II, you will notice that the Catholic Church is not
              exactly concerned to provide “reasons for faith,” or “proofs for the existence of God.” So is the Church against apologetics? No. Vatican
              II and the popes rarely model the use of rational apologetics. Rather, what you find is a thorough and
              elegant description of what is meant by the Church’s faith. It can be frustrating for certain people to
              read through the papal documents. These
              documents gently and slowly massage your mind and imagination. They do not quickly provide you with
              answers.

              If you understand the Church’s faith, then you will understand
              what is worth defending. See what I
              mean? This is a lesson that many apologists
              never seem to appreciate. I am deeply
              saddened by many contemporary Catholic apologists who have bought into the
              current Protestant Evangelical style of apologetics–and masquerade it as
              Catholic apologetics. These Catholic
              apologists do not understand the depth of Catholic theology. Please do not underestimate my last point.

              Let me know
              what you think. Is it cheaper to send
              your kids to college in the UK? I am
              curious to know what you mean. Currently
              have a wife, a 9 yr old and a 5 yr old. In Christ,
              Glenn gbsiniscalchi@yahoo.com

              • Nick_Palmer3

                Very, very helpful. I love reading James Schall, whose advice led me to Robert Sokolowski (tougher, but I can get to his key ideas, still struggling with phenomenology, but…). I love reading Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger and as pope), yet trudge when reading Pope St. John Paul. Interestingly Fr. Maciej Zieba’s “Papal Economics” has been very influential on my thinking, helping me move from a radically individual economic model to one centered on the family and society. It really challenged my thinking and academic formation. David Bentley Hart is fun, but for me requires crampons and an ice axe.

                Any suggestions for other readings and authors?

                As for the UK, yes, a significant savings. It’s costing us less to send my youngest to U of Edinburgh (tuition and fees, room, board and living expenses, and airfare back and forth) than it did to send her to a private high school here in the US as a non-boarder! Tuition around $21K. Probably all in about $40 K this year. Compare this to my oldest who graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2008 (!). Her final year cost nearly $50 K, and that was over five years ago. The US private liberal arts schools are well north of $60 K now.

                And, my son (University of St. Andrews, 2011, Maths) and youngest (U of Edinburgh, planned 2015, Classical Studies) have received fantastic educations. The academic side goes without saying. And the experience of traveling, having a mix of friends from around the globe, living overseas for a full four years, has all been great. My son will be marrying his college sweetheart, a Scot and fellow maths whiz, at St. Andrews in November, reception overlooking the Castle Golf Course and the firth.

                Oh, and one applies using the US-based SATs, and US financial aid forms. The Scottish system, unlike in England, is a four-year program, like here.

                • Glenn B Siniscalchi

                  Nick, Send me an email at gbsiniscalchi@yahoo.com and I can send you some PDFs. Glenn

                • accelerator

                  Read Sheed’s “The Church & I.” Easy to find out of print book.

                • Rich Coleman

                  Too good for a state school.

          • Nick_Palmer3

            Glenn, Thanks, quite helpful. And, no, I’m a plain ol’ American. Two of my children, however, chose to save their parents a good deal of money by attending Scottish universities (my son at University of St. Andrews [Russell Kirk’s footsteps?] and my youngest daughter currently a Classical Studies major at U of Edinburgh). Great educations, great settings, even better cost-benefit ratios!

            Here’s a way to think about my “request.” My undergrad education was chemical engineering, followed by an MBA and a never-completed PhD in Business Economics. After 5 years as an engineer, I have spent 30 years as a business consultant. In fields like engineering and economics, much of the education consists of learning (and later developing) frameworks to assemble information and discern patterns. A simple example is looking at a company’s books. Most folks looking at an annual report would notice pictures of products and facilities, a nice note from the CEO about how wonderful the company is, and tables full of arcane numbers. Using my “frameworks” I can take those numbers and organize them quickly. The patterns tell me lots of very interesting stuff. Yes, a good deal of that pattern recognition is from experience (to your point). But it is enabled by a framework that “works.”

            I have come to philosophy and theology late in life — starting in my late 40’s. What I’ve begun to learn is that these “soft” disciplines also have their frameworks. When I read, for example, David Bentley Hart, it is obvious to me that not only is he much smarter than I, he also builds on an underlying “superstructure” of knowledge built up over many generations. My youngest daughter’s boyfriend, a recent Catholic convert, is an economics and philosophy major. Even talking to this 21-year-old about philosophy I can discern that he, like Hart, has assimilated these ways of framing and understanding philosophical information.

            So, I found your article, as I said, “strategically” exciting. That is, a clarion call to which I feel compelled to respond. My gut tells me that if one studied apologetics — in a university or a Dominican seminary — one would be taught some of this structure and these frameworks. There are always those savants who can do this kind of thing intuitively. Since that’s not me, I’m looking for “job aids.” And advice.

            God bless,
            Nick

            • Rich Coleman

              “job aids”? More like Kool-Aid.

        • Rich Coleman

          No.

    • Rich Coleman

      MAYBE you’re of feeble mind? I don’t think there is any doubt.

      • Nick_Palmer3

        …than to open you mouth and prove them right.

        • Rich Coleman

          Ohhh Snap!

  • “A number of Catholics, including theologians, think that the Church should not engage in apologetics. These critics claim that Vatican II made apologetics obsolete by calling for the Church to embrace, and no longer turn its back on, the modern world.”

    Nothing like a convenient excuse to engage in principled sloth.

    • Guest

      So true…and I keep reminding others that all the denial of our Catholic Traditions and thought has really helped with the spreading of the faith…NOT!! So many people are confused by this wishy-washy speech we have today. People are searching and hunger for the TRUTH!!!

    • John O’Neill

      Vatican II not only made apologetics obsolete but also Catholicism obsolete.

      • jacobhalo

        not only that, John, Vatican II made the Catholic church lose its identity.

    • Glenn Siniscalchi

      What is your question, exactly? Was that sentence that you cite written incorrectly? Am I slothful? You can do better, DE-173. Much better. Glenn

    • Rich Coleman

      Would that be a three-toed sloth?

  • jcsmitty

    Our parish has offered apologetics over the last two years not only as a way to evangelize others but to evangelize ourselves. Too many Catholics have been badly catechized and need to understand why the church teaches what it does. Without a good foundation, Catholics are easy pickings for our separated brethren, not to mention the secular society we all now live in. The more I study my faith, the history of the church, etc., etc., the more I appreciate what I have.

  • ColdStanding

    An act of faith is predicated upon a judgement of credibility.

  • JRR

    Ahh, another Gandalf voice is heard. Thank you Prof Siniscalchi. Now, brothers and sisters of the Fellowship, arm yourself well with Apologetics tactics and weaponry! For starters, visit one of the best armories: http://www.magiscenter.com/ , especially the four pillars of intellectual evangelization; and be sure to put on the Breastplate:

    Christ be with me, Christ within me

    Christ behind me, Christ before me

    Christ beside me, Christ to win me

    Christ to comfort me and restore me.

    Christ beneath me, Christ above me

    Christ in quiet, Christ in danger

    Christ in hearts of all that love me

    Christ in mouth of friend or stranger

    • Glenn Siniscalchi

      No, thank you, JRR, for reading. And may the force be with you. Sorry, wrong movie. In Christ, Glenn

  • John Soucy

    Excellent and timely article

    • Glenn Siniscalchi

      Thanks John. Yours in Christ, Glenn

  • jhmdeuce

    “Solemn nonsense.”

  • hombre111

    Apologetics is extremely important at certain moments of life. It is important for a young person confronting all the religious options suddenly present in his more grownup world, and faced by the criticism and objections of his friends. We need apologetics when we come to serious moments of doubt. It is important when we need to satisfy ourselves and others that our choice of the Catholic faith is a well grounded decision.

    But it is important to understand that apologetics is not theology. To see the difference, read some of the things Pope Benedict has written about Mary, or the Church. And apologetics is not spirituality. I think of a famous movie actor who was famous for vigorously defending his Catholic faith. And then I suddenly saw him on a Protestant Evangelical television program, a man of fervor denouncing the Church he once seemed to love. As I listened, it became obvious that he had not felt “nourished” by his Catholicism, and it was no longer sufficient for him to argue that the Catholic Church was right.

    So, argue in behalf of our Church and its teachings. But live those teachings. Deepen your understanding of the Word of God. Learn to pray. Live a sacramental life.

  • jacobum

    A bit unrealistic to expect the laity to evangelize and utilize apologetic skills when rarely, if ever, does one hear the word “sin” mentioned (let alone preached about) from the pulpits and priests of the Church of Nice.

    • Glenn Siniscalchi

      Hi Jacobum, The very fact that someone has to give apologetical arguments in support of the Gospel presumes that we live in a sinful condition. In Christ, Glenn

      • Rich Coleman

        It presumes it’s a bunch of nonsense and doesn’t speak for itself.

  • jacobhalo

    2 Tim. 4:2-8 – Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, entreat , rebuke with all patience and doctrine. For there will be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And will turn away indeed their hearing from truth but will turn to fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of evangelist, fulfill the ministry. Be sober. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…”
    We have reached this point in the Catholic church. We have clerics who are not teaching truth, but they are teaching fables. The pope was us to disregard doctrine, because it gets in the way of his fabled beliefs. The pope does not want apologetics because he doesn’t want the truth to surface. We can’t let this pope and his heretical minions win We must hold fast.

  • Facile1

    The reason apologetics fell out of favor was because the Faith community (Christian and not) lost confidence in GOD’s revelation as immutable evidence.

    Scientists challenged the theologians on the question on the nature of evidence (which led to a rational skepticism on the nature of GOD). And the theologians blinked.

    An apologetics that doubts GOD’s revelation as immutable evidence is not ‘reasonable’; and therefore, is not defensible.

    The TRUTH begins with GOD and cannot exist without GOD.

    Therefore, evidence cannot deny the TRUTH (ie GOD.)

    GOD reveals Himself in the evidence because He does not want ‘blind faith’ and a mindless obedience to authority or even to conscience.

    Evidence is not proof. But evidence anchors the truth. And FAITH that acts on the evidence is not blind.

  • ForChristAlone

    Catholics do not evangelize because of the sin of despair.

  • samnigromd

    The metaphors from science ring true and have not been promulgated…THE PRE-BIG BANG Eternity helps much….Properly understood, science confirms Catholicism…

    THOUGHTS ON ATHEISM October 2014 by Samuel A. Nigro,MD copyright c 2014.

    For most, atheism is trying to prove a negative by
    simplified nihilism about incredible nature and supernature, obvious to all
    conscious-of-consciouness creatures trying to make sense of the universe who
    conclude that there is more than this craziness. Basically, the universe is the entropy
    necessary for Love capable creatures returning to the pre-Big Bang Statimuum of
    a Loving God whose Love would naturally require the creation of creatures
    capable of returning back the Him. You
    cannot “earn” it but you can screw it up. You will get what you are: a creature trying to be Transcendent: truth,
    oneness, good and beauty, lived in Eternity by focusing on the Catholic Mass
    Mantra of: “Life, Sacrifice, Virtue, Love, Humanity, Peace, Freedom and
    Death without Fear”; or a creature in hell living over and over against
    oneself, one’s own non-being anti-transcendent acts perpetrated on earth
    against Love now received back on oneself in Justice served. Atheists just do not want anyone telling
    them they are wrong about anything–like the Ten Commandments or any other
    “wake up, there is more” shouting.
    Atheists are deluded in their know-it-all rejections of the intense
    profound ancient secrets they do not want to know or even hear about, because
    they feel unequal when someone seems to know more than they and dares to offer
    conscious-of-consciousness at a transcendent different level. “How dare the Church tell me what to
    do” but the Church is telling you how best NOT to do evil (which is the
    creation of NON-BEING). Better (no
    EASIER) to believe you have proved a negative:
    “There is no God.” The
    psychological basis for atheism is not Darwinism but the loss of significance
    of sexual reproduction (The Nazis knew and taught that unnatural sexuality
    reduced and removed people’s religiosity).
    If the sex act means nothing…if reproduction means nothing–then
    humanity is meaningless too and there is no need for love based behaviors and
    “anything goes” because “there is no God”, just
    “power.”

    But dealing
    with atheists has made clear who and what they are, epitomized by their “anti-Christmas” war with
    BEING. Atheist, secularists, and
    satanists, the whole gang, are totally self-discredited as they loudly imitate
    the “evangelists” they reject, amazingly offering dogmas of universal
    subhuman materialist NON-SPIRITUALITY, as they offer “spirituality”
    time and time again, ignorantly unaware that they are doing so. Indeed, as self-defined, they cannot honestly
    even deal with the Catholic Mass Mantra (supra)
    or any other such spiritual human concepts including truth, oneness,
    good, and beauty or any thing else they cannot reduce to chemistry or physics. On the internet, “Salon” and
    “Huffington Post” especially, and all in the atheist gang seem to be
    an obnoxious, self-righteous, juvenile, in-your-face puerile, “take that”
    primitive, mean, rude, un-intelligent, insulting, vulgar, angry, smart-alecky,
    not wanting truth seeking dialogue, unneighborly, un-historical, “evangelical”-wannabes
    carrying on about all sorts of old antireligious ideas dealt with by the Church
    so many times in the past that the Church just does not want to bother with the
    flimsy non-neocortical “scholarship” of third graders having tantrums
    and dumbed and numbed by “evolution without scientific criticism” or
    by the erroneous belief that “evolution means Godless” or that any
    “meaning” to life beyond sex or power is fiction. The smirking willful OFFENDING of others is
    simple bigoted intolerance and unconscious jealousy. These atheists really are pitiful and
    flagrant COWARDS, not preaching to where most evil comes from so-called “religion”: Muslims.
    Maybe atheists know that Muslims will treat them by something other than
    religious LOVE. Like: “Merry Loveolution”
    and “Happy Incarnation”–the physics of Christmas of which they do
    not want to understand….Atheists believe in the Big Bang, but not the pre-Big
    Bang. They tend to be scientific cronies
    and frauds, the numbers overwelming the National Academy of Science such that
    it closed its “fraud” division. Amazing. Atheists et al offer nothing; have excluded
    themselves from “spirit”; must off the periodic table for every
    phenomenon; and cannot honestly use any metaphors to explain anything.

    The atheist
    gang should be referred to, on the WWWeb:
    “God and Nature-University of Notre Dame”;
    “Theogeocalculus”; and “Teilhard de Chardin”.

  • John Mainhart

    I am happy to recognize the fact that their are teachers at Notre Dame that see the importance of the many aspects of Christ’s love and Faith and are advocates of such to to their students. God love this soul

    • Glenn Siniscalchi

      I try to do my best John! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This was very helpful. Sincerely Yours in Christ, Glenn

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