Chapter 1 -- Introduction
The National Directory for Catechesis lists six tasks of catechesis. They include:
- Promoting knowledge of the faith
- Liturgical education
- Moral formation
- Learning to pray
- Active participation in the Christian community
- Development of a missionary spirit
These are tasks for catechetical teaching. Indeed, they could be considered the pattern for living the Catholic life. Apologetics touches all six tasks, but primarily addresses the first task--knowledge of the faith.
The Apostle Peter encourages us to know our faith and be prepared to discuss it. Apologetics specifically addresses this biblical mandate.
An 'apology' in the legal sense is a reasoned defense a lawyer offers on behalf of his client. It is not an apology in the common sense, known by 21st Century English-speaking Christians, which is saying you are sorry for something. A Catholic apology is a reasoned defense of a Catholic doctrine. Apologetics, then, is the study of what we believe and why we believe it.
Categories of Apologetics
Many divide Apologetics into three main categories: Natural, Christian and Denominational.
Natural Apologetics is what we can discern just from our natural surroundings and use of reason. Natural Apologists offer defenses for the existence of God, the nature of God, creation and evolution, physics and miracles, good and evil, spirits and demons, objective truth and the like. It provides a reasoned defense against atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions that do not believe in God.
Christian Apologetics is what we can discern from faith in Jesus Christ. Either He was the Son of God, or He was delusional. Considering the Scriptures fulfilled, the many miracles He performed, not to mention His own resurrection, and considering what His followers accomplished after He ascended into Heaven, a conclusion one could possibly draw is that He was who He said He was. He was the son of God, born of the Virgin Mary; He suffered, died and was buried for our sins; He arose again, ascended into Heaven and will come again to judge us. It presumes you already accept Natural Apologetics. It provides a reasoned defense for Christianity as compared to Judaism, Islam and other religions that accept God, but deny the divinity of Christ.
Denominational Apologetics compares one Christian faith with all others. It presumes you already accept Christian Apologetics. There are several thousand different Christian faiths in the world today, and each differs from all others in some respect. Catholic Apologetics explains and defends the Catholic Church's position on all matters of faith and morals as compared to Protestant positions. It presumes you already accept Christian Apologetics.
This Site Addresses Catholic Apologetics
If you have problems with Natural Apologetics issues or Christian Apologetics issues, I encourage you to research a number of good books or other web sites on those subjects. This site deals with Catholic Apologetics. In particular, it deals with common disbeliefs and misunderstandings about the Catholic faith that prompt Catholics to leave the Church and stay away. It assumes you already believe in God and Christ.
This site is not a course in theology which will prepare the reader for high-level debate. It will give the reader enough confidence to trust the Catholic faith as the repository of truth. All too often, well-meaning Protestants mislead Catholics (who are weak in their understanding of their faith), and draw them away from the faith.
This site is designed to address most of the more common arguments presented against the Catholic faith. Note that since many Protestants trust no source other than the Bible, all defenses described herein rely solely on Scripture, although there is a wealth of information available elsewhere. I encourage you to pursue some of those other sources as well.
A Call To Be an Apologist
The Catholic Church has a spotless track record on theology. It is about 2,000 years old. It has endured through countless challenges over all those years. Challengers may have disagreed with Catholic beliefs, but those beliefs could never be disproved. There are good, solid reasons for everything the Church teaches.
If you research enough, you will find the same challenges resurfacing again and again because the challengers don't realize it has all been done before. You can find many responses to the common challenges by reading through writings of the Early Church Fathers. If you are confronted with a challenge to the faith you cannot defend, there is a response somewhere, and you just need to find it. This is a call for you to find it, and when appropriate, share your finding with others. If the Spirit touches you in this regard, I strongly encourage you to consider becoming an Apologist yourself. You will learn a wealth of information and if you even reach one soul through your efforts, it will be worth it.
As described in the Chapter on Origins of the Bible, the Bible is a Catholic book. The Catholic Church gave the Bible to the world. There is nothing in the Bible that contradicts Catholic theology and there is no Catholic theology that contradicts the Bible. It may appear contradictory at first glance, but careful research will always show unison between Church teaching and Scriptures.
If you remember nothing else from this site, remember these two things. There is always a rebuttal to any challenge anyone can present against Catholic doctrine, and the Bible is a Catholic book. You may not have the rebuttal, but be assured there is one. Most of your doubts and insecurities can be erased by applying this knowledge to any challenge you face. Do not leave the faith because you did not realize one or the other of these two things.
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