As soon as one understands that apologetics comes from the Greek word for defense (apologetikos), the term becomes very easy to understand. Apologetics is a branch of study which aims to explain and justify Christian doctrine, demonstrating its reasonableness in the face of objections by those who do not accept it. Doing apologetics means defending the faith through the presentation of evidence and arguments.The late twentieth-century revival of Catholic apologetics, which continues into our own time, was reviewed in a recent essay by Avery Cardinal Dulles. Cardinal Dulles is particularly well-qualified to undertake this task because he has made apologetics a lifelong study, and is the author of a comprehensive work on the history of Catholic and Christian apologetics.The revival was just beginning in the early 1980's when, after developing the apologetics program at Christendom College, Jeffrey Mirus wrote a booklet to introduce the basic purposes and methods of apologetics to a wider audience. The booklet remains an excellent place to turn for an overview of what apologetics involves and how to go about it.Beyond this, it becomes necessary to read great apologetical works to strengthen one’s own faith (Chesterton and Belloc come to mind) and to find and study the evidence and arguments for various points which one might wish to explain to others. This latter task is very easily accomplished today on the web.
If you only have time to look at three things, LOOK AT THESE.
- The Rebirth of Apologetics (Avery Cardinal Dulles)
- Apologetics: Forgotten Science, Lost Art (Jeff Mirus, Trinity Communications)
- Catholic Answers (website)
And if you've got more time...
A search of our site reviews for the term “apologetics” will bring up a number of excellent web sites devoted to this task. Three of them have excellent ratings in all of our review categories (fidelity, resources, and usability). These are led by the site listed in item 3 above, sponsored by Catholic Answers. This organization, under the leadership of Karl Keating, has been the most potent force in the ongoing revival discussed above.