Handbook of Catholic Apologetics: Reasoned Answers to Questions of Faith Paperback – 1 Apr 2009
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About the Author
Peter J. Kreeft, Ph.D., is professor of philosophy at Boston College where he has taught since 1965. A popular lecturer, he has also taught at many other colleges, seminaries and educational institutions. Kreeft has written more than fifty books, including Fundamentals of the Faith, You Can Understand the Bible, Catholic Christianity, Because God is Real, Heaven: The Heart s Deepest Longing and Summa of the Summa. Ronald Tacelli, S.J., is associate professor of philosophy at Boston College and has published articles in the Public Affairs Quarterly and Dowside Review.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the classics of Apologetic works ecumenically balanced and sensitive, while being unwaveringly faithful to the truth, as one would expect from Kreeft. Nice section: respectful yet unwaveringly firm on the world religions.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
BE ADVISED: This "new" volume is that exact text (as far as I can tell, it is entirely unaltered from the last edition of the HBCA) with the exception of a new chapter - just under forty pages - of very short essays, ranging from a half a page to two pages in length, on various Catholic topics.
In other words, if you already own the old handbook, then purchasing this new handbook gets you a little less than forty additional pages. What's more, the new essays are not framed with anywhere near the deductive precision of the arguments in the old HBCA. Their polemic is more of an appeal to poetry and inspiration rather than logic (in fact, the authors sneak in an actual poem in their essay on Marian doctrines). This is all horribly disappointing since the authors are clearly capable of a full volume of deductive reasoning for Catholic doctrines (which is what I expected of this text when I bought it).
ALL THAT SAID: I still rate the book 5 stars. If you do not already own the old HBCA, then the Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is a must-own. If you do own the old volume, then this new one is not worth the price. The essays are very nice and indeed inspirational, but they would have been better released as a $5 booklet. If a friend buys the book, the essays are worth borrowing the text from your friend for a quick read. Personally, I think Dr. Kreeft's audio CD "7 Reasons to be Catholic" is much better than the forty pages provided in the Handbook of Catholic Apologetics (even though the forty pages cover certain Catholic doctrines more specifically). There is also a nice little suggested reading list for the new Catholic chapter, attached to the original HBCA bibliography.
The best books I know of for the Catholic who was looking forward to this book because of the misleading description are The New Catholic Answer Bible - Librosario, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians", and The Spirit of Catholicism (Milestones in Catholic Theology), by Karl Adam. In fact, The Spirit of Catholicism is my favorite book on Catholicism that I have ever read. And believe me. As a convert, a theology major, and a Catholic evangelist, I've read a lot of books on Catholicism. The "Handbook of Catholic Apologetics" is a great book of Christian apologetics for the average reader but it is by no means an actual handbook of Catholic apologetics!
Google PhatMass and check out their forums if you want to know more about Catholicism or if you want some more book recommendations. Great crowd over there.
God bless you!
But otherwise, it is an excellent book and one of the premiere works for a philosophical defense of the Christian faith from the ground up. Some highlights from certain chapters:
The book contains the best exposition of the relationship between fath ad reason I have ever read. The authors point out the very obvious yes penetrating fact that given any two collections of things (in this case, the collection of all faith statements and the collection of all reason statements), there can only be 5 possible relationships between them. All of one are the other (or vice-versa), none of one are the other, they are the same, or there is a partial relation. The authors then go on to describe how these 5 statements correspond to 5 types of thinking; rationalism, fideism, a kind of modernism, and two others without names. It provided an excellent framework to think about faith and reason.
One chapter is spent looking at 20 arguments for God's existence. Some of them I had not seen before and were quite interesting, especially Descarte's "ontological" argument. At first it seemed silly to me, but then I thought a bit more about it and thought that there may be more to it. Taken as a whole, this chapter provides a good overview for the arguments for the existence of God. The authors are careful to note what the arguments do and don't do. For example, the moral argument does not give us the attribute of omniscience and the design argument does not necessarily say that God is interested in a relationship with us. Theism and Christianity are carefully distinguished in this chapter.
The chapter on who Jesus was/is is excellent. The authors are careful to go thoughly through every possibility; that is, was Jesus lunatic, liar, lord, legend, or guru? Each option, except lord, is carefully weighed and shown to be extremely lacking and problematic. The authors take the time to make a solid case, and look at each option from all angles, demolishing any hope of holding to any of the non-lord options. Just from looking at all the possibilities and exhausting everything except lord, the authors show that it is indeed possible to rationally hold (in fact, most reasonably) that Jesus was lord.
Thus, the book is very good and a solid defense of theism, truth, and Christianity, but doesn't give the full range and breadth of exposition that I would have liked to see for a book attempting to defend specifically Catholic issues.
Like the authors suggested at the start, this book very aptly could have been named the Summa Apolegetic, because it intends to cover all the relevant arguments for Christianity. It does this very convincingly.
The highlights are:
Chapter 2, which discusses the compatibility between faith and reason. This is a foundational chapter that explains how Christians should view there faith in light of reason.
Chapter 3 provides twenty arguments for the existence of God's. The arguments in this chapter conclusively prove the existence of God. They are highly persuasive and are highly recommended for those who do not believe. The most conclusive argument, I believe, is the argument from consciousness (#10). Namely, that Atheism cannot be true because a universe that springs from non-rational elements cannot create rational intelligence.
Chapter 6, dealing with the problem of Evil, shows how there is no contradiction between God and Evil is very hard to understand, but very persuasive in the end.
Chapters 8 & 9 dealing with the historicity and divinity of Christ are sorely needed in this culture where Jesus is all to frequently called a myth. These chapters without a doubt conclusively demonstrate the objective impossibility of that being the case.
The chapters dealing with life after death, heaven, and hell, are superb. They show the true nature of those realities and clear up both liberal and fundamentalist misunderstandings of them.
The Chapter of Christianity on other religions also strikes a very balanced viewpoint.
However, there were a few things that bothered me. Of course, I am writing about the 1994 edition. The book was specifically revised and renamed (Catholic instead of Christian) to eliminate these errors and get the approval of the Church. However, much of the 1994 edition seemed to be from an overly protestant perspective. The serious differences between the Church and protestantism were downplayed, common ground exaggerated. Protestant notions creeped in, such as assuming the Bible is easy enough to be interpreted by itself, and a lot of that was severely displeasing. I am happy the book was changed.
All in all, however, this book is amazing. It is a complete summary of all the arguments for the faith and the rationality behind it. This book shows the supreme reasonableness of the faith and is just the cure for any doubter of skeptic. It is highly, highly, recommended to everyone who wants to defend our faith. It is one of the greatest apolegetic resources out there, perhaps the greatest. It defends the faith against all possible objections, for every argument against the faith has a rational mistake in it somewhere, for faith never contradicts reason. Get this book. Defend the Faith. "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," - 2 Cor 10:5
There is something in particular that caught my attention. The arguments go beyond the current superficial positions of many. Not only in arguments against, but also in supporting positions. This was really interesting. Not to stop in what today is considered obvious, but to go beyond that and question deeply things that you may have thought were written in stone.
Bottom line: read it.