A fresh and comprehensive case for Catholicism

Half a millennium of contention and division

October 31st 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of a period in the history of Christianity commonly known as the Protestant Reformation. According to the traditional accounts, Martin Luther drafted and nailed a set of 95 theses or propositions for theological debate to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Even if Luther didn’t actually nail his 95 theses to a church door, it is an undisputed fact that he lies at the epicenter of a chain of events that radically transformed the face of Christendom back in the 16th century. His influence is enormous and practically impossible to dispense with. As a result, the division between Catholics and Protestants have been with us ever since.

An up-to-date defense of the Catholic Faith

Trent Horn, staff apologist with Catholic Answers, recently released his first book with Ignatius Press titled “The case for Catholicism: Answers to classic and contemporary Protestant objections

Trent has accomplished a remarkable feat in this book by doing two things. First, over the course of 16 chapters that can be read fairly quickly he has touched on all the major points of division between Catholics and Protestants; from the issue of ecclesial authority to the burning question of how people are saved.

Trent’s points and arguments can be easily understood even if you’re not particularly well-read in the field of Catholic apologetics. For example, this quotation from chapter 1 “Sola Scriptura”

“Given that Protestants hold contradictory positions on mutually exclusive issues (such as whether baptism takes away sin), this shows that many who defend sola scriptura do not understand what they are reading” (emphasis in original) 

Second, as Trent indicates in the preface of the book, he has incorporated many findings of Protestant scholarship that support arguments made in favor of Catholicism. The strength of this feature of the book should not be underestimated. It means that the evidence Trent has marshaled cannot be dismissed due to a perceived bias. It demands to be wrestled with.

The narrow gate of adherence to the truth

The path to the full and visible reunification of all Christians lies in the heartfelt commitment to dialogue between the disagreeing parties. As more and more Christians become aware of the scandal that their division brings and the damage it inflicts on the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is my hope that Trent Horn’s work, and similar ones, will help the ecumenical initiative bear much fruit for the greater glory of God.

Those anti-Catholic lies that won’t die

Setting up the context

The Catholic Church has been around for two thousand years. It has an extremely rich and variegated history that has witnessed everything from the height of the ancient Roman Empire to the current hyper-connected state of our globalized world.

Given such length and complexity, it’s no surprise that we find many inaccuracies, oversimplifications and outright lies and myths used by the detractors and enemies of the Church in an effort to cast her in an unfavorable light.

I have personally experienced such myths of Catholic history in the form of questions ranging from the legitimacy of the Crusades of the Middle Ages to the alleged atrocities of the Catholic inquisitions in medieval Christendom. What’s the average Catholic to do in the face of such challenges?

A much needed and longed-for resource

 

Professor Steve Weidenkopf is a lecturer of Church history at the Christendom college graduate school of theology and a regular contributor to Catholic Answers’ published material. His most recent work titled “The real story of Catholic History: Answering twenty centuries of anti-Catholic myths” is a magnificent compendium of sound scholarship and apologetic finesse that seeks to put to rest the most vicious and pernicious myths of Church history.

Without ever whitewashing the faults perpetrated by some of her members, Professor Weidenkopf deals honestly with the major events of Church history and applies a much needed corrective to the popular yet false narratives that still enjoy widespread circulation.

At 55 yet succinct chapters, the book is staggering in the number of topics it addresses. All the major events in Church history that have been subject to gross distortions are aptly handled including some you probably have not heard of such as this one: “The Church began mandating clerical celibacy during the Middle Ages so that it could acquire the clergy’s family property.”

Our mission

Pope Leo XIII once said that the detractors of the Church “narrowly inspected archives; unearthed stupid fables; and repeated for the hundredth time legends a hundred times confuted.” (Saepenumero Considerantes, slightly modified quote). It’s a good question to ask ourselves: in light of such solid scholarship, why do these myths endure?

Professor Weidenkopfs’ answer is worth quoting in full :”because avowed enemies of the Church find them useful in discrediting the Church and limiting its influence in the world; because bitter ex-Catholics use them to paint the Church in a negative light; because atheists who hate religion in general use them to point out the folly of faith; and because some Protestant groups use the myths to justify their separation from the Church Christ founded.”

We have the mission as Catholics to bear witness to the apostolic faith in word and deed. Equipped with Professor Weidenkopf’s new book, we can be more confident that the splendor of truth will shine more radiantly as we work for the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth.