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Surprised By Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic Paperback – April 7, 2016
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“These converts, coming from varied backgrounds, converged on the Catholic faith because their intellects were enlightened by divine grace to accept its truth…They bring apologetics to life in an exciting way.”
- Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, author of The Bible and the Mass
“I’m privileged to know personally several contributors to Surprised by Truth. Each is deeply committed to Jesus Christ; each relentlessly sought Him and was amazed at where he found him.”
- Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, S.J., host of EWTN Live
“These eleven stories of conversion merge into a sustained argument for the truth of the Catholic faith. The converts’ anxieties, doubts, reasons, and affirmations are reported candidly – nothing is held back.”
- Karl Keating, author of Catholicism and Fundamentalism and What Catholics Really Believe
“The apostles preached the Catholic faith regardless of the cost. These converts have accepted that faith – in each case at a great cost. What they learned is here distilled in a masterpiece of Catholic apologetics.”
- Most Reverend Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver, Colorado
“Conversion involves many strands of theological and personal struggles. Surprised by Truth weaves those strands in a tapestry of great beauty.”
- Kimberley Hahn, co-author of Rome Sweet Home
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Top Customer Reviews
I've read the few negative reviews, and there are a couple questions posed that are very asily answered. One reviewer asked why, if people found Christ outside the Church, did they see the need to become Catholic. The answer is because the formation of my generation was so poor that we were never introduced the Christ as we should have been. Parents expected Catholic schools or CCD classes to handle that, and the priests, nuns and catechists were too busy "liberating" themselves to pass on the faith. So we grew up knowing only that the old Church was terrible, the new guitar-playing Church is the wave of the future and everybody is going to be in heaven together someday singing Kumbaya. Truth is what you say it is, and it doesn't matter what part of the Body of Christ you belonged to, all roads ascended the same mountain and all of us would reach the same summit. So naturally, when someone introduces Christ to one of us, using Scripture, and pointing out the weaknesses of our formation, we leave and find Christ in the beautiful, Spirit-filled separated churches. But, when exposed to the TRUE catholic church from history, we want to come into the fullness of the truth. It's not so much that there is anything so terribly wrong with the Protestant faith traditions, it's more that they are incomplete.
Another question concerned cafeteria Catholics. This phenomenon is a result of that same poor formation that this generation has received. When Humanae Vitae (Pope Paul VI's 1968(?) Encyclical "On Human Life" condemning contraception) came out, misguided priests told people who questioned it that it was OK to "follow their conscience" even if they were informed of the evil of the practice in question. So, the idea was applied to all of the Church's teachings, so if Joe Parishioner thinks women should be priests or that he doesn't need Confession or that this or that is no longer a sin, he claims he is following his conscience.
Anyway, good book. I've reread it a few times over the last 10 years as well as the two sequals. It woke me up from my 30-year slumber and ignited a fire that is burning hotter now than ever.
Now there are no excuses for this generation. We have the Catechism, all the writings of the Councils, the legacy of JPII and another dynamic shepherd, BXVI, and this new generation of well-formed and energetic converts to the faith. The young priests coming out of seminary these days are awesome. The misguided generation that formed us is beginning to age... I believe we are poised at a monumental tipping point. The new springtime of evangelization is dawning and this book was part of the first pink glow in the eastern sky. God willing, the next 10 years will bring more light to the world than anyone alive today has ever seen.
This is the first in the series and caused a sensation (for a Roman Catholic book) when published. The fact that so many moving to Rome cite Surprised by Truth provides some evidence of Patrick Madrid's astuteness in selecting testimonials - a point further confirmed by reading it. The essays blend together remarkably well and Madrid adroitly avoids the danger of stifling uniformity by drawing upon those who approached Rome from across the ecclesial spectrum. Another plus in this regard is an intermingling of those who were initially drawn by different concerns so the approach is not completely one-dimensional.
Protestants often criticize the essays as insufficient to prove the Roman case and highly emotional in character. Both these claims are quite true but this is not the detriment the critics make it to be. One could hardly expect a new convert to prove within twenty pages what the greatest theologians have employed years and many volumes to attempt. As for the emotional content, conversions always have an emotional aspect to them and a presentation that attempts to ignore this is built upon dishonesty. The essays contained here are more or less emotional depending upon the makeup of the individual, the amount of "surprise" experienced, and the sense of betrayal felt by discovering what you had been told what was of the Apostles is actually of recent origin. A positive sign by these converts is despite the emotional upheaval, they display no evidence of lasting anger at their former ecclesial homes.
The one flaw in this book is shared by the genre - shallowness. New converts are not always the best ones to express the riches of the faith. Even if they have done much prior study, reading about the grace of God and receiving the grace of God are not equivalent experiences. While the "let's have the new guy go up and give his testimony" approach may suffice in the superficial environs of modern Evangelicalism, those more mature in their faith are probably better witnesses in richer traditions.
Any expectations of an exhaustive defense for Roman Catholic beliefs in a book like this are remarkably wrongheaded. Madrid planned neither a work of systematic theology nor a catechism. Collections like this are usually read by those already on their way but unsure if things are quite what they seem. The message given is not "this is all you need to see we are right" but "come on in - the water's fine". Given that limitation, Surprised by Truth can only be viewed as a rousing success.
This book was 10 times easier to understand (and fun to read) for a novice like me. Karl Keating's book Catholicism and Fundamentalism was a struggle for me to understand.
Our country's Catholic schools failed us in the 1970s here in the midwest and this book needed to exist back in the day!
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