Top critical review
Not as "Catholic" as I would have liked...
Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2009
This book is the Handbook of Christian Apologetics with an additional chapter on "Catholic" issues at the end. While I do really like this book and think that the Handbook of Christian Apologetics is a 5-star book, this book attempting to be a handbook of CATHOLIC apologetics was a bit disappointing, as another 3-star reviewer mentioned. A handbook on Catholic apoloegtics should have whole chapters devoted to topics like Mary, historical controversies, salvation, etc. as opposed to only a couple of pages at most on 20 topics, as important as they are. So I just thought that as a handbook for specifically Catholic issues, the book is lacking.
But otherwise, it is an excellent book and one of the premiere works for a philosophical defense of the Christian faith from the ground up. Some highlights from certain chapters:
The book contains the best exposition of the relationship between fath ad reason I have ever read. The authors point out the very obvious yes penetrating fact that given any two collections of things (in this case, the collection of all faith statements and the collection of all reason statements), there can only be 5 possible relationships between them. All of one are the other (or vice-versa), none of one are the other, they are the same, or there is a partial relation. The authors then go on to describe how these 5 statements correspond to 5 types of thinking; rationalism, fideism, a kind of modernism, and two others without names. It provided an excellent framework to think about faith and reason.
One chapter is spent looking at 20 arguments for God's existence. Some of them I had not seen before and were quite interesting, especially Descarte's "ontological" argument. At first it seemed silly to me, but then I thought a bit more about it and thought that there may be more to it. Taken as a whole, this chapter provides a good overview for the arguments for the existence of God. The authors are careful to note what the arguments do and don't do. For example, the moral argument does not give us the attribute of omniscience and the design argument does not necessarily say that God is interested in a relationship with us. Theism and Christianity are carefully distinguished in this chapter.
The chapter on who Jesus was/is is excellent. The authors are careful to go thoughly through every possibility; that is, was Jesus lunatic, liar, lord, legend, or guru? Each option, except lord, is carefully weighed and shown to be extremely lacking and problematic. The authors take the time to make a solid case, and look at each option from all angles, demolishing any hope of holding to any of the non-lord options. Just from looking at all the possibilities and exhausting everything except lord, the authors show that it is indeed possible to rationally hold (in fact, most reasonably) that Jesus was lord.
Thus, the book is very good and a solid defense of theism, truth, and Christianity, but doesn't give the full range and breadth of exposition that I would have liked to see for a book attempting to defend specifically Catholic issues.