Show me a Catholic who’s skilled in apologetics, and I’ll show you someone who’s read Karl Keating.
OK, you may find some apologist who hasn’t read Keating’s “Catholicism and Fundamentalism.” But there aren’t many. Indeed, his seminal 1988 book, subtitled “The Attack on ‘Romanism’ by ‘Bible Christians’,” is where many apologists got their start. There are many other fine volumes out there, to be sure, but Keating’s work is a veritable “Apologetics 101” for those courageous enough (some might say foolhardy enough) to answer the Church’s critics with that elusive blend of zeal and charity.
Keating has followed up his fine work in “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” with other books, including “Nothing But The Truth,” “The Usual Suspects” and “What Catholics Really Believe.” He’s also written numerous articles for “This Rock” magazine and engaged in more than a few debates with Protestants. Through it all, his intelligence and wit shines through. He gives his readers (or listeners, as the case may be) a comprehensive, but not overwhelming, overview of the other side’s arguments. Then, he presents the eternal truths of our Faith — and demolishes those arguments, one by one.
In an age in which many Catholics under the age of 50 have little or no religious instruction, doing just this often proves extraordinarily illuminating. Millions of Catholics, through no fault of their own, are completely unable, as St. Peter exhorts, to “give a reason” for the hope that lies within them. Consequently, they are easy prey for those well-meaning people who whip out a Bible and flash a smile.
Not those who have read Keating’s work, however. God bless him for the strong work that he’s done over the last two decades to educate these poor souls — to make them realize that they have inherited a precious treasure.
It’s easy to see why Matthew Warner of Fallible Blogma included Keating for his Support a Catholic Speaker Month project. There’s no telling how many Catholics have been prepared for combat, as it were, by Keating’s words — how many, indeed, have not lost their faith outright.
If you’re Catholic, ask yourself: “If someone came up to me now and asked if I were ‘saved,’ what would I say? What if they questioned my belief in the Real Presence? Or told me that my Marian devotions and my prayers to the saints amounted to worshipping someone other than God? How about the infallibility of the pope?”
What would you say?
If you don’t know — and chin up if you don’t; you’re in good company — pick up a copy of “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” or one of Keating’s other works. You don’t need to become a Thomistic scholar to defend your Faith. But you do need to do a little bit of homework. As an added bonus, it will deepen your spiritual life and make you a more confident Catholic.
And who knows? Maybe you’ll wind up winning your interlocutor to the Faith. Stranger things have happened.