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Review: ‘Why I Am Catholic’ is convincing and convicting

Ava Maria Press
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If you feel like Catholic apologetics needs something accessible and genial, this is what you want.

When I was in my teens and 20s I loved apologetics books. I loved learning all these scriptural zingers to hit Protestants with. It made me feel secure in my faith.

But then something changed.

I realized this form of apologetics, while strengthening my own faith, did little to help others. It was just good for arguing, but not necessarily for convincing. It also seemed to miss wide swaths of the population who weren’t hardcore sola scriptura defenders but were vaguely Protestant or more-or-less nothing.

Kreeft and Tacelli’s Handbook of Christian Apologetics helped me see a way to respond to non-Christians. But something still felt incomplete.

Recently, I found the book that gives me completion. Why I Am Catholic, by Brandon Vogt, is the best book on apologetics I’ve read in a long time and one of the few apologetics books I’d feel comfortable sharing with non-Catholics. It combines three key elements:

  • Its language is accessible, avoiding technical terms I’d understand but not everyone would
  • It is personal without being just a biography of the author
  • It talks about truth, goodness, and beauty rather than just one of those gifts, alone

I want to give a brief biography, go through these three points and then show how Brandon expertly handles tough issues.

Brandon Vogt emerged out of relative obscurity in the Catholic world with The Church and the New Media six years ago. He’s a convert who chose to become Catholic while in college, only eight years ago. In recent years, he’s been working for Bishop Barron managing online content for Word on Fire.

He opens his book by acknowledging how crazy it seems for a young person like him to join the Church, and therein quotes Chesterton: “The difficulty of explaining why I am Catholic is that there are 10,000 reasons that all amounted to one reason: that Catholicism is true.”

When describing the Church as true, he recognizes we don’t have a monopoly on truth. He charitably notes: “The Catholic Church indeed believes Catholicism is the fullest expression of truth on earth … But it doesn’t assume other religions are thus completely wrong. It draws the commonsense conclusion that other religions … offer a mixture of truth and confusion.”

In describing how the Church is good, he admits this isn’t because she is sinless, but because, on the whole, she has done far more good than evil. An interesting point in this section is that he sees the Church’s not going with the times as a sign of its goodness: it stands for what is good whether culture agrees or not. This section is also full of examples of Catholic scientists and Catholics who practiced heroic charity.

Finally, he moves to beauty. I assumed this would be an exposition on the great art, but that is only part of it. Much of the beauty of the Church is shown in how it treats others. That the Church welcomes all types of society, even serious sinners, shows its beauty. He sees the Church’s wisdom and welcome as revealing a tapestry rather than a single shade, as many religions do.

If you are looking for an apologetics book that closes the gaps you might have found elsewhere, Why I Am Catholic needs to be in your collection.

To learn more about Why I Am Catholic, go to WhyCatholicBook.com.

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