- Hardcover: 686 pages
- Publisher: Baronius Press (November 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1905574665
- ISBN-13: 978-1905574667
- Shipping Information: View shipping rates and policies
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine Hardcover – November 1, 2015
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Almost 500,000 copies of this classic high school text were printed, which was used to teach the Faith to generations of English-speaking Catholics around the world for more than four decades. Its outstanding clarity, persuasiveness and comprehensiveness are totally unique. No popular textbook in English published since it was last published in 1962 has repeated Sheehan's successful presentation of the Faith.
For years, this book gave to many young Catholics the support and knowledge to sustain their Faith throughout their lifetime. They knew the Catholic Religion, and they knew the reasons for it. Both teachers and students who used it have testified to its lasting impression upon them.
The structure and sequence of the argument of Sheehan's Apologetics have a unique clarity and logical force. The exposition of the deposit of faith in Catholic Doctrine is clear and thorough. Objections are faced openly and honestly. Dr Sheehan's whole text breathes a loving confidence in the truth of the Faith founded on Him to Whom all honour and glory is due: Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and forever.
About the Editor: Father Peter Joseph is Vice-rector, Dean of Studies and lecturer in Dogmatic Theology at Vianney College, the diocesan seminary of Wagga Wagga, Australia.
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It is extremely unfortunate that this book is out of print and that used copies are so expensive (as I write this review, the current cheapest used copy is around $7500, and I have seen it going for up to $10000). This is the best book I have read for an introduction to apologetics and doctrine. By that, I mean that it is thorough, precise, compelling, and traditional, as it is deeply grounded in Thomism. To make this book even more attractive, it was a high text book back in the day, and it reads like you would think; that is, it is easy enough for a competent adult to understand without sacrificing any intellectual loftiness of ideas. I have been studying Catholic apologetics and doctrine for the past 10 years, and I was quite shocked at how much I was able to learn from this "high school" text. Very impressive.
As I understand it, this book is strictly speaking a formal combination of two other books by the author, one on apologetics and one on Catholic doctrine. Of course, the two go hand in hand so such a combination is natural. The first part, roughly 300 pages, is devoted to Catholic apologetics. The standard (and in my opinion, correct) 3-pronged approach is taken: that is, in order to make a full and defensible case for the truth of the Catholic faith one must prove 1) the existence of God (natural apologetics/religion) 2) that the historical figure Jesus is God (Christian apologetics, including historical defense and reliability of the gospels as well as non-scriptural sources) and finally 3) that Jesus established the Catholic Church here on earth as the ordinary means by which we would be saved. 1) is against the atheists, agnostics, and all non-monotheistic religions while 2) is against Judaism, Islam, and other non-Christian monotheistic religions and 3) is against Protestant, Evangelical, etc. non-Catholic Christians. These three points are extremely important, and no thoughtful Catholic should be ignorant of them.
The second part of the book deals with Catholic doctrine. As I mentioned above, the author is heavily influenced by Thomism. Although not a book on Thomistic theology or the doctrines of Aquinas, all of the Catholic doctrine that the author shares is interpreted in or harmonized with Thomistic principles when applicable. This is invaluable, as you not only are getting Catholic doctrine, but doctrine framed in a Thomistic sense so that it is both understandable and safe. The part of doctrine covers all the major areas including the nature of God, God as Trinity, the Incarnation, the Church, the sacraments, and the four last things.
I really wish this book was still in print. Along with Feser's "Aquinas," this would be the book I get people who are looking for a good introduction to apologetics or the Catholic faith. It will be an invaluable references for me, both to know what teh Church teaches about certain things and where she teaches it. If you have an extra $7500, highly recommended.
The work is based upon a Thomistic foundation which makes it very clear and easy to understand. If there is one book to lay along side the Catechism of Trent for basic study, which can be used to explain and defend the essentials of the Catholic faith, this is a great choice. This one book far surpasses any modern pop-apologetics book on the market. At 686 pages it may look intimidating, but do not let that deter your purchase. The book is written in such a way that you do not have to go cover to cover to get a comprehensive use of it. The book is laid out in two parts. Part I being Apologetics, further broken down into three subsections, Natural Apologetics, Christian Apologetics and Catholic Apologetics, then broken into 14 chapters, or 301 pages. This first part argues from the existence of God, to the signs of Revelation, to the historical proofs of the Gospels, to the person of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the one Catholic Church.
The first chapter gives a summary explanation of the ways of knowing God, from order and law in nature, from motion, from change, from causality and from dependence. After giving this summary explanation it then gives a fuller treatment of the subject complete with objections and further rebuttals to the objections. So you can use it to gain a simple understanding, and then later delve into the more fuller explanation of the subject giving you the ability to defend the arguments. Most of the chapters in part one give a summary of the material, more detail, and then address objections. For example in chapter 10, `The Identification of the Church of Christ: The Catholic Church is the True Church' it summarizes the four marks of the Church: 1. It must be universal, 2. It must be one, 3. It must be Holy, 4. It must be apostolic. It then explains these principles and then moves on to examine the Protestant sects and how none of them bear even one mark of the true Church. It then covers the history of the rebellion and proves that "Protestantism, as a doctrinal system, is perhaps the weakest heresy ever proposed." The chapter then marches forward to cover the Orthodox Churches in the same manner.
Chapter 11 covers the papacy, and answers common objections that we often hear from the Protestant pop-apologists on the internet like James White and the folks over at Beggars All blog. For example, the Galileo controversy as well as the Pope Liberius and Honorius controversies are clearly addressed. They are clearly shown that they are not strong arguments against the papacy. I find it quite alarming how Protestant pop-apologists like James White keep bringing up these same lame arguments in their debates. The Spanish Inquisition is also covered over several pages. It was not the monstrosity that the Protestant spin machine has cracked it up to be.
Part II, which covers Catholic Doctrine, is broken down into five subsections and then into 19 chapters or 385 pages including the subject index. This second part covers subjects such as God and His Divine Essence, the Trinity, the Angels, the Fall of Man, Jesus Christ and the Incarnation, the Church, Grace, Worship, the Eucharist and the Sacraments and the Last Things. The book is concrete in its teachings. For example it lays out the argument against Darwinian evolution very clearly and in great detail, using some modern sources to question the fossil records and the lack of proof for the evolutionary change of species, etc. It makes clear the teaching of the Church which holds that God directly created the soul of Adam. This is where the modern additional material not found in the original really benefits the book. Footnotes in this section refer to scholars such as Behe and other modern scientists or biologists.
Thankfully grace is covered in the traditional manner, which has been a lost art in recent decades. The work explains sanctifying grace, actual grace, external graces, merit and perfection, and then explains common errors such as Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, Lutheranism and Calvinism and the heretical "Faith alone" heresy. Chapter 14 covers Transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Christ in great detail, explaining substance and accidents properly, which must be understood in light of Thomism in order to follow Trent's infallible dogma. It then offers a rich defense of the dogma as well as answering some difficulties. All seven Sacraments are also richly covered and defended.
It must be noted that the book also contains great footnotes referencing many Church documents, Church Councils such as Trent and Lateran, the CCC, Scripture, Aquinas, the Church Fathers and other Catholic works. This is one extensive yet easily understood work that can be used to teach your children the faith while you brush up on the basics yourself. I am working through it again underlining as I go, because this is the material that you need to have internalized in order to converse with people outside the Church. I am convinced that if you work through this book no trickster is going to be able to talk you out of your Catholic faith.
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