Book Review: Why We’re Catholic

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Review of: Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love by Trent Horn. Published 2017 by Catholic Answers, Inc.

By Ben Daly-Labelle, University of Rhode Island

The apostle and our first pope Saint Peter tells his audience in his first epistle “but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;” (1 Peter 3:15). There is a segment within theology called apologetics which is devoted to defending the faith. The word apologetics come from the Greek word apologia. To deliver an apologia meant making a formal speech or giving an explanation to reply and rebut the charges.

Catholic Answers, based in El Cajon, California, is the largest lay-run apostolate of Roman Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the United States. Found at https://www.catholic.com/, they provide various resources to assist in learning more about the Catholic Faith and being able to defend it. I can remember coming into college from a situation where I was basically in a Catholic bubble. I was never put into uncomfortable spots where I had to explain something such as why God would allow suffering or how the Eucharist, appearing as bread and wine, is actually Jesus; body, blood, soul, and divinity. I thought that even though I would be coming to a non-religious college, I could continue to live in my little bubble. Obviously, my experience has proved otherwise.

 As I have continued to grow in faith, God has called me into conversation with people who don’t know God through the lens of the Catholic faith. One of the biggest ways God has challenged me was when I joined Intervarsity Christian Fellowship a few years ago. Even though Intervarsity is a predominantly Protestant organization, they were very welcoming towards me. However, I realized pretty quickly that when they talked about “Christian Unity,” this idea that what matters is having faith in Jesus Christ, as if our theological differences don’t matter, was contrary to the Catholic faith.

 It particularly bothered me that the Eucharist has been described as “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324), and yet this has been completely disregarded by much of the Protestant community. How can people who are indifferent to Christian denominations say no to an opportunity for the highest intimacy with Christ this side of Heaven, to become “partakers of the divine nature”(2 Peter 1:4), and living tabernacles?

We know from various scripture passages that Christ prayed for unity among his church (cf. John 17:20-23), which is the pillar and bulwark of truth (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15), built on Peter the rock and safeguarded from heresy (cf. Matthew 16:18), with the apostles as the foundation and Jesus as the cornerstone (cf. Ephesians 2:20), preserved through apostolic succession ( cf. 1 Timothy 4:14, 1 Timothy 5:22, Acts 1:20, 2 Timothy 2:2), with the authority to teach (cf. Titus 2:15, Matthew 18:17-18), and faithful to Sacred Tradition and devoted to the sacraments (cf. Acts 2:42, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Peter 1: 19-21, John 20:21-23, Luke 22:14-20, Mark 6:13, James 5:14-15, Acts 8:14-17, Matthew 19:4-6, 1 Peter 3:21, 2 Corinthians 5:20).

Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love by Catholic apologist Trent Horn helped to cement my belief in these truths and communicate them to people. He employs what he calls a “funnel” structure—wide at the top with questions like “Why do we believe in anything?” and “Why do we believe in God?” and then slowly narrowing as he helps the reader understand divine revelation, truths about Christ, and distinctively Catholic doctrines and moral teachings. Horn blends scripture, tradition, writings by the Church Fathers, philosophy, historical evidence and personal testimony that is both accessible and effective. Whether you are looking to explain the Catholic Faith to a lapsed Catholic, non-Catholic Christian, a person from a non-Christian religion, an atheist, or anyone just generally curious about the Catholic Faith, Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love is a great place to start.

One piece of advice I will give is that you shouldn’t expect this book to be the be-all end-all apologetics book. Since Horn covers such a wide range of topics and doesn’t give comprehensive answers to each and every question one might have about the faith, this book is better used as an introduction to apologetics and the Catholic faith. It is still very helpful in getting a basic understanding of some of the most important topics to know about and how to faithfully address them.

“This is why we’re Catholic. Not to follow arbitrary rules or rituals, but to go home. Everyone knows, deep down, that sin has wounded our relationship with God and with one another. We are Catholic because we want to give up the empty promises of sin and trust in God’s promises to his family, which is united to him through the Church his Son gave us” (Excerpt from book, 209).

Edited By: Ariel Hobbs

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