Monday, September 24, 2007

Why Would the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly Possibly Want to Present a Review of My Book, The One-Minute Apologist?

I got a big chuckle out of this, in light of the oft-heard criticism from critics of Catholic apologetics (particularly as done by non-academic laymen like myself), that it is somehow antithetical to Catholic scholarship, that it usurps same, or that apologists supposedly claim to be scholars when they are not, or to speak for the magisterium in a way that is improper. Here is one recent quintessential example:

"Professional apologetics" is actually a subculture of post-Protestants within Catholicism. They by and large are not scholars who do critical analysis of primary texts; rather, their main audience is other Catholics and they often self-publish. One could psychoanalyze them all day, but I'll skip that and say that mostly their arguments are 1-liners for the easily amused or the simple. That's because they aren't part of Catholic academia or the Magisterium; they're part of American Catholic pop culture and as such should be taken about as seriously as glow-in-the-dark statues of Mary.

(Lutheran polemicist Josh Strodtbeck, 8-27-07)
Now, granted, I am no scholar, as I've stated till I am blue in the face (including in book introductions). Never claimed to be. Nor do I know why people like Josh keep pretending that I have ever presented myself as something along these lines. But Josh and many others who think like him want to imagine that the work of Catholic apologists is inherently in opposition to good, solid Catholic scholarship. Why is it, then, I wonder, that Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly would even consider reviewing my book, The One-Minute Apologist? Reformed Protestant, oops, "Catholic" blogmaster Kevin Johnson, after all, could only laugh away my book without comment:
When I see things on the Internet by Roman Catholic Internet apologists like the “One Minute Apologist”–what can an informed brother do other than just laugh his head off? I mean, really.
I continue to draw from pop culture to illustrate the absurdity of such an approach–as if this would ever convince anyone who is familiar with the relevant issues let alone handle the issues in question with any sort of respect for other opinions or even the truth of the matter . . . The last thing we need is rabid apologists for any point of view. . . . The sort of (Roman) Catholic I learn from is one that participates in the broader wisdom of the Church over the ages in the Western world. The sort that doesn’t have to argue people into anything because the very gravitas of their view and life is centered in the wisdom that the Church has provided her children over the centuries through a strong Western and Christocentric view of all things.

( 6-21-07 on the blog )
The more extreme version of this mentality even pits apologists who are indeed scholars, over against other Catholic scholars (in this case, Dr. Scott Hahn):
A reader who relied on Hahn for his knowledge of Catholicism would have no idea what a skewed picture he’s getting. Hahn poses as a representative of Catholic dogma, but his exegetical argumentation is hardly representative of mainstream Catholicism.

Hahn has cast the issues as if this is a debate between Catholic exegesis and Evangelical exegesis—whereas it would more often be an internal debate between a retrograde convert and soapbox polemicist like Hahn over against mainstream Catholic scholarship.

(Anti-Catholic Steve Hays, 5-26-07)
Others go right to liberal, heterodox Catholic scholars and make out that they represent Catholicism, whereas orthodox apologists do not. Some consistency-challenged Catholics get in on the action, too; for example, the following foolish utterance:

Pope warns Catholic theologians against arrogance

It would be nice to see him issue a similar warning to self-styled "apologist" sorts who can be every bit as dogmatic in their opinions as any Catholic theologian but who have a lot less to be humble about (to put it nicely).

( 9-18-07 )
So there is one end of the spectrum of opinion. Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly obviously feels quite differently. Far from laughing off my book or taking it "as seriously as glow-in-the-dark statues of Mary" the editor is calling for a possible review of it. Isn't that odd? Yet here is my book mentioned among possible future reviews in FCS Quarterly, Fall 2007, page 48, sitting next to the work of scholars, priests, even some saints:
If you would like to receive a complimentary copy of one of the books below in order to review it for a future issue, please email your request to Alice Osberger at If there are books you know of that should be reviewed, let
Dr. Brian Benestad know at

Thomas Merton:A Book of

Interior Castle:Teresa of Avila,.

Union With God: Letters of Spir-
itual Direction by Blessed Co-
lumba Marmion,.Dom.Raymond.

The Pope, the Council, and the
Mass:Answers to Questions the
“Traditionalists” Have Asked,.

Prayer in Newman,.Giovanni.

Absolute Revelation and Univer-
sal Religion: European University

Trade, Development, and Social

Worthy is the Lamb:The Biblical
Roots of the Mass,.Thomas.J..Nash,.

Transforming Catholicism: Li-
turgical Change in the Vatican II

Making the Church Our Own:
How We Can Reform the Catho-
lic Church from the Ground Up,.

101 Questions & Answers on The

We Look for a Kingdom:The Ev-
eryday Lives of the Early Chris-

The One-Minute Apologist:
Essential Catholic Replies to
Over Sixty Common Protestant

United States Welfare Policy:
A Catholic Response,.Thomas.J..

Behold, God’s Son!: Encounter-
ing Christ in the Gospel of Mark,.

Was Frankenstein Really Uncle
Sam? Vol I: Notes on the State of
the Declaration of Independence,.
Nor (far more importantly with regard to what I am contending) is my book an isolated case of apologetics authors being reviewed, or considered for review. A perusal of back issues of FCS Quarterly makes that clear. The Summer 2004 issue has (p. 46) a glowing review of apologist Mark Brumley's book, How Not to Share Your Faith: The Seven Deadly Sins of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization, by Fr. Brian Van Hove, S.J.:
. . . deserves to be read by every young person who wishes to defend the Catholic faith . . . Apologetics as a vocation must be rediscovered in this post-conciliar period. There is a need to expand its scope. Mark Brumley contributes in an excellent way to this need.
David B. Currie's book, Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind (published by Sophia, my own publisher), was reviewed by John F. Kippley in the Spring 2004 issue (p. 23). Currie is the author of the bestselling apologetics book, Born Fundamentalist; Born Again Catholic.

Timothy Drake's book about Lutheran converts to Catholicism, There We Stood, Here We Stand, that was "self-published" by 1stBooks Library (where I first published A Biblical Defense of Catholicism), was positively reviewed ("very readable book") in the Summer 2002 issue (p. 21) by Leonard A. Kennedy, C.S.B.

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