Books for the Catholic Apologist

by Fr. Gary Coulter

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A list of suggested resources for learning one's own Catholic faith, so that one will be able to explain in clearly and convincingly to others.

Also see the comprehensive list of Conversion Stories


Essentials

The Bible The wellspring for every believer. Read a literal translation such as the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church Read all of it. Pay attention as you read. Note what it does and does not say.
The Code of Canon Law (online) The Church's principal legislative document founded on revelation and tradition, including laws on the obligations and rights of the faithful, authority and structure of the Church, teaching, sacraments, penalties, and more.
The Second Vatican Council Documents (online) So many speak about what the think is the "spirit" of the Council, but have never actually read what the Church said in the documents.
Faith of the Early Fathers by William A. Jurgens, Volume 2, Volume 3 Numerous people have converted to the Catholic Church upon discovering the teachings of the earliest Christian writers, showing Catholic through from apostolic times to the eighth century.


Apologetics

50 Questions on the Natural Law: What It is and Why We Need It Charles E. Rice Helps formulate moral arguments framed in the context of natural law instead of religion. Very useful when speaking with nonbelievers or in the secular world.
All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed Stefano M. Manelli, F.F.I. Biblical Mariology that shows Mary in the pages of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Annulments and the Catholic Church: Straight Answers To Tough Questions Edward Peters Answers the most common questions about annulments, given the crisis in marriage and family in today's society.
Answer Me This! Patrick Madrid Concise and well-documented answers to questions - exactly as Protestants would ask - about what (and why) the Catholic Church believes and teaches.
Answering Jehovah's Witnesses Jason Evert An easy-to-read, practical guide to help refute the doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses from a Catholic perspective.
Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine Archbishop Michael Sheehan
editor Fr. Peter Joseph
An updated classic that provides arguments and answers to many of the typical questions people ask. Comprehensive and well organized, this dense work will reward those who study it with dedication.
Beginning Apologetics (9-part series) Jim Burnham and Fr. Frank Chacon Clear concise answers to common apologetics questions and issues with scriptural references.
Biblical Defense of Catholicism, A Dave Armstrong Learn to explain and defend Catholicism with Scripture, how the Bible upholds Church teachings and how Catholicism is consistent with biblical teaching. Also see: More Biblical Evidence for Catholicism and The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants
By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition Mark P. Shea Subtitled: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition. An explanation of how and why Sacred Tradition occupies a central role in divine revelation and is the only sure guarantee of the truth.
Catholic and Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs Alan Schreck This blend of scripture and theology, tradition and history, provides a sound explanation of what Catholics believe and why, demonstrating Catholicism's sound rational basis and validity. Catholic and Christian for Young Adults: Questions and Answers About the Faith
Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, A Dom Bernard Orchard An excellent one-volume commentary for understanding the Bible. (Not in print, but usually available used.)
Catholic Evidence Training Outlines: A Classic Guide to Understanding & Explaining the Truths of the Catholic Church Frank Sheed and Masie Ward Basis for the training members of Sheed's famous Catholic Evidence Guild.
Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" Karl Keating Important apologetics survey of the standard issues and arguments, it also explores how extreme some forms of anti-Catholicism can be.
Controversies: High-Level Catholic Apologetics Karl Keating A presentation of the writings of five (British) apologists who give a clear and forceful exposition of Catholic truth with erudition, accessibility, and wit: Newman, Belloc, Thurston, Lunn, and Knox.
Courage to Be Catholic, The: Crisis, Reform and the Future of the Church George Weigel A book to help understand the underlying causes that have led the Church into the current crisis of faith, identity and discipleship (i.e. a lack of fidelity) - then we will more easily come to know what part we play to help it through.
Does God Change?: The Word's Becoming in the Incarnation Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M. Cap A more serious work that deals with God's immutability. A helpful resource in dealing with advocates of process theology and the like.
Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, An (online) John Henry Cardinal Newman One of the best arguments that the Church's doctrine was not "invented" but indeed develops, as a tree does from its acorn. Also see his Apologia pro Vita Sua (online).
Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament Thomas Howard Introduces the truth and beauty of Catholic worship with an exploration of Christian liturgical tradition by this convert.
Exploring the Catholic Church Marcellino D'Ambrosio Starter book for seekers, inquirers, new Christians, RCIA candidates, or Catholic who want to refresh their faith and practice.
Faith of Our Fathers, The James Cardinal Gibbons Classic apologetics from 1876 on over thirty subjects.
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma Ludwig Ott A great reference for determining how authoritatively the Church teaches on various subjects, from de fide dogma to theological opinion.
Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics Peter Kreeft Many call this the "Mere Christianity" of Catholicism. A clear explanation of our fundamental beliefs in an essay form. See also his Catechism based Catholic Christianity
God Help Me! These People Are Driving Me Nuts Gregory K. Popcak While not strictly apologetic, this Catholic psychotherapist helps you deal with the difficult people in you life; offers techniques to approaching others in a firm, charitable manner, without diluting Christian truth.
Good News about Sex and Marriage Christopher West Agains not strict apologetics, but concise, straight-forward, Catholic answers to some of the most difficult (and personal) questions on sex and marriage. An invaluable resource to better understand what the Church teaches on human sexuality.
Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith Fr. C. John McCloskey and Russell Shaw Drawing on moving, firsthand accounts of conversions, this book combines personal testimony, solid theology, and effective methods of communicating the Catholic Faith. **Appendix: "Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan" lists a hundred books by leading Catholics.
Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli All the major arguments for the reasonableness of the Christian faith found in one volume. Also see the abridged version: Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics
History of Christendom (multi-volumes) Dr. Warren H Carroll A definitive series on the history of Christianity from its birth to the French Revolution. "The Founding, Building, Glory and Cleaving of Christendom"
How _Not_ to Share Your Faith: The Seven Deadly Sins of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization Mark Brumley Focuses on principles that apologists must employ to defend and explain the Catholic faith. Will steer the beginning apologist away from many pitfalls.
Inside Mormonism Isaiah Bennet A great help in understanding just what Mormonism is about.
Intellectual Life, The: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods A. G. Sertillanges, O.P. A 1948 text on how to research, study and learn. (Harder to find but worth the effort.)
Introduction to Mary: The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion Mark Mariavalle A simple but excellent explanation of Marian doctrine and devotion, including answers-to-objections sections.
Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body Pope John Paul II Though heavy in places, this treatment of love, sexuality, and chastity will bless the Church for centuries. Equally valuable is his more philosphical Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla before he became Pope.
Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible As the First Christians Did Mark Shea Helps one understand and appreciate the Bible, not only from a literal sense but beyond into the deeper meanings of the texts.
Mariology (3 volumes) J. B. Carol Unsurpassed set in its depth and readability on Marian doctrine and devotion.
Mass Confusion: The Do's & Don'ts of Catholic Worship James Akin Answers liturgical challenging questions. Now in second edition.
Not by Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura
Not by Faith Alone: A Biblical Study of the Catholic Doctrine of Justification
Not by Bread Alone
Robert Sungenis These are not just a critique and rebuttal of the protestant claims, but also present and explain the Catholic doctrine. Comprehensive, scholarly works.
On Being Catholic Thomas Howard A convert presents the meaning and richness of Catholic prayer, practices, liturgy and spirituality in a unique, simple prose.
Radio Replies: Three Volume Set Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty As the title says, these were questions answered by two priest on the radio in 1937, and then published as a classic text of Catholic apologetics. Well indexed.
Rapture, Left Behind, and Bible Prophesy Resources Fr. Gary Coulter My own recommended books and articles for critiquing the "Left Behind" series and rapture theology.
Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith Scott Hahn This great scripture scholar (and convert) explains the Catholic faith, not just what it teaches, but why we believe these truths. Also focuses on the characteristics of the Church in the Scriptures. Also see his A Father Who Keeps His Promises
Salvation Controversy, The James Akin An easy way of dealing with "once saved, always saved" objections and more.
Salvation Is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History Roy Schoeman A Catholic approach to salvation history from a Jewish convert. The book rebuts the error that Jews do not need Christ for salvation and shows that Israel, through whom the Messiah came, has a role in his Second Coming.
Scriptural Roots of Catholic Teaching, The: How the Bible Proves the Truth of the Catholic Faith Chantal Epie Explains to both Catholics and non-Catholics alike how Scripture provides the foundation for the Church's teaching.
Search and Rescue: How to Bring Your Family and Friends Into, or Back Into, the Catholic Church Patrick Madrid A rescue plan for friends and family outside the Catholic Church; includes a three-stage reading plan for budding apologists.
Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, The Louis Bouyer A Lutheran convert's incisive look at the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism, and why the Reformation cannot be sustained.
Spirit of Catholicism, The Karl Adam One of the best books on the nature and structure of the Church, including the source and meaning of its teachings.
Surprised By Canon Law: 150 Questions Laypeople Ask About Canon Law Pete Vere, et al. A question and answer format: many interesting and useful questions clear up misconceptions and ignorance with easily understood answers about Church laws.
This Is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers The Real Presence Mark P. Shea An excellent scriptural defense of the Eucharist from an Evangelical convert. Easy to read and refer as a beginning book for seekers.
Understanding Scrupulosity: Helpful Answers for Those Who Experience Nagging Questions and Doubts Fr. Thomas M. Santa, C.SS.R. While awareness of the reality of sin is good, hypersensitivity to sin in orthodox Catholics can become scrupulosity. Helps you help fellow Catholic who are tortured by scruples.
Usual Suspects, The: Answering Anti-Catholic Fundamentalists Karl Keating A supplement to his book Catholicism and Fundamentalism, he focuses on the common attacks of the Catholic faith and who they come from.
What Catholics Really Believe-Setting the Record Straight: 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions About the Catholic Faith Karl Keating This book is good for Catholics who may be lukewarm or have a very poor understanding on their faith.
When Only One Converts Lynn Nordhagen, ed. A collection of stories by Catholics in mixed marriages, it offers support for both spouses who are in the same situation.
Where is That in the Bible? Patrick Madrid Provides the biblical origins of Catholic doctrines, to explain and defend them from the scriptures; organized by topic.
Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church Bishop Henry G. Graham Learn about the origins of the Bible and the Catholic Church's role in compiling, preserving and revering it throughout history.
Why Is That in Tradition? Patrick Madrid Offers insight into explaining how Catholic practices are not anti-scriptural.
Winning Converts Karl Keating and John A O'Brien, eds. Multiple authors suggest how successful evangelization can be done in many ways.
Yes or No? Straight Answers to Tough Questions about Christianity Peter Kreeft This simple dialogue format is a great primer on how to answer the most common doubts about Christianity.


Conversion Stories

Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic David B. Currie This devout Evangelical christian was led to the Catholic Church by his theological study.
Bread from Heaven Ronda Chervin The stories of 23 Jews who found the Messiah in the Catholic Church.
By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition Mark P. Shea While telling his faith journey to the Catholic Church, he skillfully explains the how and why of the importance of Sacred Tradition.
The Catholic Mystique: Fourteen Women Find Fulfillment in the Catholic Church Jennifer Ferrara and Patricia Sodano Ireland 14 modern American women from various religious backgrounds recount their conversion to the Catholic Church.
Classic Catholic Converts Fr. Charles Connor Stories of 25 well-known converts of the 19th and 20th centuries and their spiritual struggles. See also his Defenders of the Faith in Word and Deed.
Confessions of an Ex-Feminist Lorraine Murray A reversion story of a woman who becomes enchanted with feminism, abortion and cafeteria Catholicism, but returns to the fullness of the Catholic faith. Read an interview on Zenit.org: "To Radical Feminism and Back"
Crossing The Tiber Stephen K. Ray The conversion story of an Evangelical Baptist who struggles with the history of the Catholic Church and doctrines that are often the most difficult, emphasizes Baptism and the Eucharist.
Home at Last: 11 Who Found Their Way to the Catholic Church Rosalind Moss, ed. One of the better collections of conversion stories
Honey From the Rock Roy Schoeman Inspiring stories of 16 Jews who find the sweetness of Christ in the Catholic Church.
The Ingrafting: Conversion Stories of Ten Hebrew Catholics Ronda Chervin Stories of Jewish converts who found the completion of their Old Testament faith in the New Testament.
Journeys Home Marcus C. Grodi Conversion stories of strong christians who found the truth of Christ in the Catholic Church
Lead Kingly Light Thomas Howard His journey from Evangelicalism to Anglicanism to the Church of Rome.
Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief Joseph Pearce A look at Christian converts, both Catholic and Anglican, of the 20th century literary revival in England.
My Life on the Rock: A Rebel Returns to His Faith Jeff Cavins Personal story of this famous "revert" who fell away into evangelical protestantism / bible christianity but then discovered the truth in Catholicism.
No Price Too High: A Pentecostal Preacher Becomes a Catholic Alex Jones An incredible story of a black Pentecostal minister's challenging and dramatic spiritual journey, and the flock that followed him.
One Shepherd, One Flock Oliver Barres One man's story of his conversion, taken from his diary.
Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism Scott and Kimberly Hahn The struggles of two devout Protestants as they converted to Catholicism
Surprised by Truth Patrick Madrid, ed. 11 conversion stories; each different, inspiring journeys.
Surprised By Truth 2 Patrick Madrid, ed. Perhaps even better than the first volume, 15 more eye-opening stories of recent converts from a variety of backgrounds.
Surprised by Truth 3 Patrick Madrid, ed. 10 More Converts Explain the Biblical and Historical Reason for Becoming Catholic; perhaps not as good as the prior volumes (less apologetic material) it still shares several popular conversion stories.
There We Stood, Here We Stand: Eleven Lutherans Rediscover Their Catholic Roots Timothy Drake, Richard John Neuhaus Unique in examining only Lutheran converts, helpful for Lutherans who struggle to understand the Catholic faith.
Welcome Home!: Stories of Fallen-Away Catholics Who Came Back Victor R. Claveau, ed. Spiritual journeys of 11 "reverts", both famous and not, who wandered but came back home.
Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome Patrick Allitt Some of the more famous men and women who came to Catholicism
A Century of Catholic Converts Lorene Hanley Duquin Many known and unknown conversion stories.
Prodigal Daughters: Catholic Women Come Home to the Church Donna Steichen, ed. 17 women tell their stories of leaving the Church for errors of feminism and dissent, but then "revert" and are reconciled.


Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of UnbeliefJoseph PearceBoth Catholic and Anglican converts in this engrossing account.
Literary Giants, Literary CatholicsJoseph PearceA survey of Catholic writers, some of whom were converts, that goes all the way back to Dante.
The Third Spring: G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Christopher Dawson, and David JonesAdam SchwartzAn expensive, but well-done discussion of four important literary figures in the context of their times.


Special thanks to the December 2004 issue of This Rock Magazine for inspiring the beginning of this webpage. See Catholic Answers.
Contact Fr Gary Coulter Go to Fr. Coulter's homepage Sign my Guestbook