These are not in any order of importance or priority except that I put my four books at the top of the list. As a convert from Protestantism, I have emphasized books that have helped me and others to understand and defend the Catholic faith. I have added some on general apologetics, cults, New Age, theology, patristics, etc. I try to mention books in-print but some are now out-of-print but usually easy to find (see the next paragraph). I will try to update this periodically as new books appear. Last updated 5/2011. If I have overlooked any important books, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In-print books are linked to Amazon (www.amazon.com) and out-of-print books can usually be procured through Loomes Theological Booksellers at 612-430-1092 (email@example.com). Out-of-print books can also be found at ABE Books, PCPBooks, Bibliofind, DoveBooks and EBay. For excellent apologetics books visit Ignatius Press and Catholic Answers.
- Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historic Church, by Stephen Ray. Section One is our conversion story dealing with Tradition and Scripture and our spiritual, historical, and biblical journey from Evangelical Protestantism to the Catholic Church. What started out as a letter to my Baptist parents, ended up being a passionate book explaining our conversion. Sections 2 and 3 are biblical and patristic (the Fathers) defenses of Baptism and the Eucharist using many Protestant sources to prove the Catholic position. Published by Ignatius Press. Four hundred footnotes and 284 pages. For reviews, defenses or to purchase, click here.
- Upon this Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in the Scriptures and the Early Church by Stephen Ray. For a picture, full explanation, cirtiques and defenses, excerpts and Table of Contents, click here. This is the most complete compilation of Scriptural and patristic quotations and explanations in print today. It takes on the opponents and explains the Catholic reasons for the Catholic teaching. Other good books on the papacy are Jesus, Peter, and the Keys by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, Rev. David Hess, published by Queenship Publishing Company, Santa Barbara, California at (800) 647-9882. This is “a scriptural handbook on the papacy”. In a question and answer format, this book covers all the scriptural and patristic evidence for the papacy and the primacy of Peter. Another recent and very helpful book is The Shepherd and the Rock:Origins, Development, and Mission of the Papacy by J. Michael Miller and published by Our Sunday Visitor. Patrick Madrid’s Pope Fiction deals with many of the common misconceptions and lies about the Papacy. See my Writings for info on Peter and the Primacy.
- St. John’s Gospel: A Bible Study Guide and Commentary by Stephen Ray. For picture, explanation, excerpts, endorsements and Table of Contents click here. As Catholics in ever-growing numbers are taking part in Bible studies, many questions arise. How do I study the Bible? Where do I begin? Is it OK to interpret the Bible for ourselves? What Bible should I use? How can I understand such a deep book as the Gospel of St. John? This book has the answer to these and many other such questions. A verse-by-verse study of St. John.
- The Papacy Learning Guide by Stephen Ray and Dennis Walters published by Catholic Answers. Catholics revere the pope as the head of their Church; but how much do we know about the papacy itself? This guide will lead you to a deep understanding of the Holy Father’s office. Here you’ll find answers to common objections to the papacy, a discussion of historically prominent popes, and explanations of terms such as papal infallibility. It comes with a companion We Have A Pope.
- Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic. A conversion story by Dave Currie and published by Ignatius Press. This book centers on his past as a Fundamentalist Protestant and deacon of a Baptist Church. He explains the transition of his thinking on the Eucharist, Authority, The Bible, Salvation, and Mary. Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s wildly popular and easy-to-read conversion story Rome Sweet Home is very helpful and is now in over 13 languages.
- Evangelical Is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament. This book “flipped the switch” for my wife and I as we began to consider the Catholic Church. Written by Thomas Howard and published by Ignatius Press. While still an evangelical Howard writes about his search for reality in worship and faith. Howard discusses the worship of God in liturgy and sacrament and contrasts it with minimalist Protestant forms of worship. It lovingly demonstrates how the ‘stripped down’ version of Christianity, known as Evangelicalism, is weak and impoverished, having negated the great doctrines of the ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church’. Also, read his booklet Lead, Kindly Light published by. Steubenville, OH: Franciscan Univ. Press, 1994), which gives a detailed account of his journey from Protestant Fundamentalism to Anglicanism and finally to the Catholic Church. Also,On Being Catholic recently published by Ignatius Press.
- Surprised By Truth. A best-selling book containing eleven conversion stories edited by Patrick Madrid and published by Basilica Press. For more information contact Envoy Magazine or call 1-800-55-ENVOY. This best-seller has sold over 100,000 copies in two years. It’s helped countless Catholics and non-Catholics understand the Catholic Faith. These 11 personal conversion accounts are unlike any you’ve ever read – they’re packed with biblical, theological, and historical proofs for Catholicism. Each year thousands of atheists, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Pentecostals are being surprised by Catholic truth—and these converts tell you why! You can now also read Surprised by Truth 2 and Surprised by Truth 3.
- The Faith of the Early Fathers. Edited by W. A. Jurgens, 3 volumes, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1970 (about $50). Massive quotes from the Fathers of the first centuries compiled with scriptural, topical, author, and bibliographical references. The early Church was Catholic, not Protestant, and here’s the proof. Discover the writings of the early Church Fathers on the Eucharist, the papacy, purgatory, prayers to saints, Marian doctrines, salvation, and much more. This set is a must for Catholics who want to explain and defend the Faith. A mountain of historical evidence for the Catholic Church! Also the invaluable four-volume work entitled Patrology written by Johannes Quasten and published by Christian Classics. An easy to use and accessible source of biblical and patristic references to doctrine and practice in the early Church. Also try to find a copy of the out-of-print, three-volume set Faith of Catholics edited by Msgr. Capel and originally published by Fr. Pustet & Co. in 1885. Also, one will find both of these books interesting and helpful: Four Witnesses: The Early Church in her own Words (Clement, Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus) by Rod Bennett and The Teachings of the Church Fathers by John Willis.The best thing to come out is Jimmy Akins The Fathers Know Best which is a handy and useful handbook.
- Catholicism and Fundamentalism. Karl Keating’s very helpful book published by Ignatius Press. When I was struggling with the Catholic Church in 1993, this book was invaluable. Karl’s book touches on all the major topics of controversy between Catholics and Fundamentalist Protestants. Also by Keating What Catholics Really Believe. Another good Scriptural reference book to the Catholic faith is Bible Basics by Kellmeyer. Another is Catholic Doctrine in Scripture by Oatis.
- Radio Replies. Fathers Rumble and Carty, 3 volumes, TAN Books (originals 1938-1942). These three volumes comprise actual questions and answers presented on their radio program. Well indexed and easy to use, Frs. Rumble and Carty ably defend every possible challenge to the Catholic Faith. An excellent book that also covers all the topics in a simple way is The Essential Catholic Survival Guide.
- By What Authority? Mark Shea, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, Huntington, Indiana. This book refutes the Protestant claim that Tradition is a Catholic hoax, making the case for Tradition using Scripture, Church history, and impeccable logic. Fun and informative to read! This is a masterful challenge to sola Scriptura. He demonstrates that without Catholic tradition the Protestants have no claim to a New Testament canon and no basis for many of their “non-negotiable” teachings. This book is an excellent critique of Protestant thought and the necessity of Sacred Tradition. Also read Shea’s books – This Is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence and Making Senses out of Scripture.
- Theology and Sanity. By Frank Sheed who was this century’s greatest Catholic apologist, and this is his greatest book. Considered to be the pinnacle of popular apologetics, Sheed delivers a luminous explanation of everything from the Trinity to the sacraments to the mission of the Church. You’re not prepared to explain the Faith until you’ve read this book. Many have concluded that this book has the best and most lucid description of the Trinity in print. Also consider three other books by Frank Sheed that should be a part of every apologist’s library: Catholic Evidence Training Outlines: A Classic Guide to Understanding and Explaining the Truths of the Catholic Church (Catholic Evidence Guild, re-published by Catholic Answers), A Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith, and Theology for Beginners.
- Dave Armstrong’s two books Biblical Defense of Catholicism and More Biblical Defenses for Catholicism are both excellent resources for defending the Catholic faith. This exciting book shows that, far from straying from the Bible, Catholicism is eminently and thoroughly biblical. Indeed, Catholicism is the only Christian religion that is in full conformity with what the Bible clearly teaches. To demonstrate this, Catholic author Dave Armstrong ( a former Protestant campus missionary) focuses on those issues about which Catholics and Protestants disagree the most: the role of the Bible as a rule of faith, whether we are justified by faith alone, whether doctrine develops, what the Eucharist really is, veneration of Mary and prayer to the saints, the existence of purgatory, the role of penance in salvation, and the nature of infallibility of the papacy. Visit his website: Biblical Defense of Catholicism.
- The Salvation Controversyby James Akin discusses faith vs. works, penance, purgatory, indulgences, Calvin’s TULIP, and cooperation with God’s grace. This book clarifies the the topic of salvation and especially the differences between Catholic and Protestant. Another book with much helpful information is Not by Faith Alone: The Biblical Evidence for the Catholic Doctrine of Justification by Robert Sungenis and published by Queenship Publishing. It can be ordered at (800) 647-9882. Almost 700 pages of biblical arguments and patristic evidence for the Catholic teaching on justification and salvation. (Note: I recommend Sungenis’ book without endorsing him and the direction he has recently taken.) An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Included in the book Conscience, Consensus, and the Development of Doctrine by John Henry Cardinal Newman, New York: Image Books, Doubleday, 1992. This marvelous book-length essay demonstrates the organic continuity between the Catholic Church of today and the apostles of the New Testament era. A profound proof and development of how doctrine and practice develop which has brought many into the Church. Also Apologia Pro Vita Sua which is Newman’s conversion account. For many links and information on Newman, check out Dave Armstrong’s website dedicated to Newman at Biblical Catholicism.
- Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church. By Henry Graham, published by Catholic Answers in San Diego.
(www.catholic.com). Graham explains how the Catholic Church compiled the sacred text, how medieval monks preserved it, and how Catholic scholars, not Protestant Reformers, first gave Christians the Bible in their own languages. Along the way Graham destroys myths about Catholic opposition to Scripture. This book also contains the story of Graham’s conversion from the “Kirk” of Scotland to the Catholic Church. In the same vein, one should have the book defending biblical inerrancy by Fr. William Most entitled Free From All Error published by Franciscan Marytown Press and available through Catholic Answers at www.catholic.com.
- Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism. By Scott & Kimberly Hahn and published by Ignatius Press (www.ignatius.com). The conversion story of the one this centuries most famous converts. Presbyterian minister Scott Hahn gives a popular account of his journey to the Church, his wife’s resistance and eventual conversion. Scott’s new book on covenants is recently published by Servant Publications in Ann ArborMI. The book is entitled A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture. Also, check out Scott’s website and other new books on Mary, Confession, the Trinity, and the Mass.
- The Founding of Christendom: A History of Christendom. Warren Carroll is the author of this complete and compelling history of the Catholic Church published by Christendom Press (www.christendom.edu/press.html). It is a fundamental affirmation of Christianity that God entered history as Jesus Christ. Yet history today is almost never written from this Incarnational perspective. Carroll does this in a readable and moving story. A strong affirmation of the Catholic Church. Also completed The Building of Christendom, The Glory of Christendom and The Cleaving of Christendom. I would also recommend a short and easy to read history of the Catholic Church entitled The Compact History of the Catholic Church by Alan Schreck and published by Servant Books. H. W. Crocker has come out with a feisty new book on Church history entitled Triumph: the Power and Glory of the Catholic Church, A 2000 Year History.
- The Faith of Our Fathers. By James Cardinal Gibbons, 1876 republished by TAN Books (www.tanbooks.com). An incredibly popular and successful book explaining the basic tenets of the Catholic faith and (more importantly) why we hold them. It delves into the historical background of virtually everything people find hard to understand about our religion, such as priestly celibacy, sacred images, the Church and the Bible, the primacy of Peter, Communion under one kind, invocation of the saints and more. This book sold over 1.4 million copies in its first forty years. Also try Christ the King Lord of History: A Catholic World History from Ancient to Modern Times by Anne W. Carroll and published by TAN Books. It is a fast-paced, enjoyable, highly readable adn fascinatingly interesting Catholic world history that is in great demand for high-school students–and makes great reading for adults too.
- The History of the Church. Written by Eusebius about AD 300 and published by Penguin Classics. This should be available in various editions in every major bookstore and can be purchased at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com. This book will always be considered as on the most important books I’ve ever read and one that paved the way for me to become a Catholic. I was shocked as a Protestant to see the importance of “apostolic succession” and “apostolic tradition” and the uncertainty of the New Testament canon until well after Eusebius’ day. What happened to the Twelve Apostles? What did they do after the Day of Pentecost? I would suggest reading The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles after Calvary by C. Bernard Ruffin (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor) and The Search for the Twelve Apostles by William Steuart McBirnie (Living Books, Tyndale House, Wheaton, IL). Warren Carroll’s The Founding of Christendom is also valuable on this topic. Also check out One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church by Whitehead.
- Early Christian Writings: The Apostolic Fathers. Translated by Maxwell Staniforth, this book is a compilation of writings from the first and beginning of the second century. Published by Penguin Classics. Contains the first epistle of Clement to the Corinthians; the epistles of Ignatius, the epistle of Polycarp, and the Didache among others. These writings are included in many different collections and editions but this one is very easy to ready and very accessible. It made me a Catholic.
- The Catholic Controversy: St Francis de Sales’ Defense of the Faith. Written by St. Francis de Sales and published by TAN Books (www.tanbooks.com). Text from the back of the book: “The Catholic Controversy is a collection of pamphlets written by St. Francis de Sales as a young priest struggling to reach people who would not listen to him. He had volunteered to re-evangelize the Chablais, a region in France south of Geneva consisting of some 72,000 people, almost all of whom were now Calvinists, their ancestors having succumbed to Protestantism 6 years before. It seemed like a hopeless mission, reaching people who would not listen to Catholic preaching for fear of reprisals. St. Francis’ first few months saw mostly failure I as he spent a very cold winter tramping over the countryside, receiving a frigid welcome and some times sleeping in haylofts at night. So he resorted to writing pamphlets—which he posted on walls and slipped under doors. By this method he was able to reach the souls he was after, such that at the end of four years almost the entire population of 72,000 had returned to the ancient Catholic Faith. The reconversion of the Chablais is truly one of the most remarkable conversion stories in Catholic history. Today we are extremely fortunate to have these I little tracts, which have been gathered together and titled The Catholic Controversy. They show their author’s great learning and familiarity with Scripture and the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, yet they come right to the point, addressing questions that are still of burning interest. These pamphlets are fresh and powerful yet today, and they give some of the most cogent arguments; against Protestantism ever penned, presenting a defense of the Catholic Faith that in some respects has never been equaled.”The Spirit of Catholicism. By Karl Adam and published by Crossroads. The Spirit of Catholicism “is a brilliant and widely influential reflection on the fundamental nature of the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church. First appearing in 1924, this is a truly pioneering work of Catholic theology, one that had a major influence on subsequent theology”. This book examines the essential nature of the Catholic Church from the basic premise that it was expressly founded by Christ, traces its historical development and analyzes its actual functioning through the ages.
- The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism written by Fr. Louis Bouyer and published in 1961 by the Newman Press Is now available again through Scepter Press. “‘This book’, notes Father Bouyer, speaking of himself, ‘is a personal witness, a plain account of the way in which a Protestant came to feel himself obliged in conscience to give his adhesion to the Catholic Church. No sentiment of revulsion turned him from the religion fostered in him by a Protestant upbringing followed by several years in the ministry. The fact is, he has never rejected it. It was his desire to explore its depths, its full scope, that led him, step by step, to discover the absolute incompatibility between Protestantism as a genuinely spiritual movement stemming from the teaching of the Gospel, and Protestantism as an institution, ion, or rather complexus of institutions, hostile to one another as well as to the Catholic Church. The study of this conflict brought him to detect the fatal error which drove the spiritual movement of Protestantism out of the one’ Church. He saw the necessity of returning to that Church, not in order to reject any of the positive Christian elements of his religious life, but to enable them, at last, to develop without hindrance. No mere biographical account of personal experience, the work is concerned rather with an objective analysis of Catholic and Protestant Christianity. The principles of the Reformation are considered in detail, and Father Bouyer explores what for many will seem a profound paradox: that deep basic agreement exists between Catholicism and the authentic Christian aspirations of the Protestant movement. This remarkable study is sure to be of unusual interest to Christians everywhere.”
- Handbook of Christian Apologetics. Written by Peter Kreeft and Fr. Ronald Tacelli published by Intervarsity Press. “Sensible and concise, witty and wise, the authors offer compelling arguments for and defenses of every aspect of Christian belief, including faith and reason, God’s nature, creation and evolution, providence and free will, miracles, the problem of evil, the Bible’s historical reality, Christianity and other religions, and objective truths.”
- Beginning Apologetics (all 6 workbooks). Father Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham, published by San Juan Catholic Seminars, Farmington, New Mexico, 1994. Volume I contains information on how to explain and defend the Catholic faith. Volume II contains information on how to answer Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Forward by Patrick Madrid. New volumes have come out to cover all aspects of apologetics including dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and more.
- Journeys Home. Written and edited by Marcus Grodi, founder of the Coming Home Network and host of the television program “The Journey Home”. This book describes “the journeys of Protestant clergy and laity coming home to the Catholic Church and the Coming Home Network International, a lay ministry committed to helping them. Over 19 conversion stories and much helpful information are contained in this book. Grodi has a new novel about conversion which is an excellent fiction story with the ring of truth – Firm Foundation. Other conversion stories: Spiritual Journeys. Twenty-seven conversion stories (including Peter Kreeft, Sheldon Vanauken, Ronda Chervin, Thomas Howard, Helen Hull Hitchcock, James Likoudis, Paul Vitz), edited by Robert Baram and published by St. Paul Books and Media. Available through Catholic Answers at www.catholic.com. Other spiritual journeys worth reading are The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor who Changed his Mind by ex-abortionist and atheist Bernard Nathanson, M.D., published by Regnery Publishing, WashingtonDC. Also M. D. Forrest’s Chats with Converts: Complete Explanation and Proof of Catholic Belief published by TAN Books (www.tanbooks.com) with a preface by Bishop Fulton Sheen.
- Catholic & Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs. Written by Alan Schreck and published by Servant Publications. “You re on the spot. Someone wants you to explain some aspect of Catholic belief. Do you really think the Pope is infallible? Why do Catholics pray to Mary? Where do sacraments come from? What do you think of the Bible? Are you saved? You wish some well-informed Catholic friend was around to help with the answer. “Catholic and Christian contains the answers you need. It is a readable and concise summary of commonly misunderstood Catholic beliefs—the teachings and practices that often don’t get much attention in Sunday sermons and in religious education, but which puzzle Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It is a book for all Catholics who want to know more about their faith.”
- Mary of Nazareth. Written by Dr. Kenneth Howell and published by Queenship Publishing Company, Santa Barbara, California at (800) 647-9882. “Kenneth Howell believes that one of the greatest obstacles to Christian unity has been Mary, the Mother of Jesus. No woman in history has been so honored in some human hearts while being so ignored by others. For that reason, no genuine unity can exist among Christians which ignores the central role played by Jesus’ Mother in the history salvation. Mary of Nazareth will lead you through the relevant Scriptures about Mary and will help you understand how intimately bound to one another Jesus and Mary are. Ken has also just finished the Meeting Mary Learning Guide and Evangelization bookletwith Catholic Answers. It will explain how troubling Catholic doctrines of Mary are rooting in the biblical testimony.” Also, The Truth about Mary: A Scriptural Introduction to the Mother of Jesus for Bible-Believing Christians in three volumes and written by Robert Payesko and published by Queenship Publishing Company, Santa Barbara, California at (800) 647-9882. The first volume is entitled: From Human Inventions to the Truths Taught by Scripture. Volume two is entitled: Mary in Scripture and the Historic Faith. The third volume is entitled: A Response to Fundamentalist Misconceptions and the Return to Historic Christianity. A wealth of information.
- Mary the Second Eve. Selections from the writings of John Henry Newman, compiled by Sister Eileen Breen and published by TAN Books (www.tanbooks.com). When I was struggling with the Marian doctrines of the Church, this book was the one that pushed me over the top. My wife accomplished the same thing by reading St. Jerome’s The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary. Newman’s writings demonstrate that the Marion doctrines are rooted in the teachings of the early Church and based on sacred scriptures and the testimony of the Fathers and are therefore not invented later by the Church. Also, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed: Biblical Mariology. Written by Stefano M. Manelli and published by Academy of the Immaculate, New Bedford, MA. This book examines in detail the Church’s understanding of the scriptural presentation of Mary—not only in terms of the traditional interpretation of the texts themselves, but also support of the Catholic vision of Mary. This is a very helpful book. Since the last two were recently out of print, you may want to try ABE.
- Is the Catholic Church the “Whore of Babylon? That is what Alexander Hislop would like to tell us in his book The Two Babylons: or The Papal Worship (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Bros., 1916, 1959). His book goes into great detail attempting to prove that Catholic theology and practice came from ancient religions, especially Babylon and that it conforms to the . His follower Ralph Woodrow followed in his footsteps and published a popular version of the book entitled Babylon Mystery Religion (Evangelistic Association, PO Box 21, Palm Springs, CA92263-0021). He continues to promote the idea that the Catholic Church is the “whore of Babylon” based incorrectly on the book of Revelation. Everyone who is effected by this unhistorical and fabricated perspective needs to purchase Ralph Woodrow’s new book in which he carefully refutes Hislop and his own previous book–which takes amazing courage and honesty. His new book, which should be on every Catholic’s bookshelf, is entitled The Babylon Connection? and is available from Evangelistic Association (address mentioned above) or through www.amazon.com.
- Baptist Successionism: A Crucial Question in Baptist History. Written by James Edward McGoldrick and published by The American Theological Assoc. and the Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ and London, 1994. Available at www.amazon.com. This book is a must for those who have been raised with, or influenced by the idea that the Baptists can historically trace their roots back to the apostles through a succession of churches and groups outside the Catholic Church. With over 2 million copies of J. M. Carroll’s little booklet The Trail of Blood (AshlandAve.BaptistChurch, 163 N. Ashland Ave., Lexington, KY, 40502 (606) 266-4341. The blurb on the booklet says, “Following Christians down through the centuries or, the history of Baptist churches from the time of Christ, their founder, to the present day”). McGoldrick, a Baptist scholar and professor of history CedarvilleCollege, shows the utter impossibility of making such a claim. Another excellent book on the same topic, Baptist Successionism: A Critical View, written by another Baptist, W. Morgan Patterson. Patterson, associate professor of church history at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary writes, “Although the belief was widespread among nineteenth-century Baptists and is still often cited today, the author demonstrates that it rests largely on the insecure footing of books written long ago by unscholarly, careless, or even biased historians. If they are out of print try contacting Loomes Books at 612-430-1092. For my review and critique of Baptist Successionism and the Trail of Blood, click here.
- Catholic Apologetics: God, Christianity and the Church. An overlooked 4-volumn gem written by Fr. John Laux and published by TAN Books (www.tanbooks.com) as a High School course in religion. It is easy to read, precise, clear, enjoyable, and faithful to the teaching of the Church. The other volumes are: Catholic Morality, Mass and the Sacraments, and Chief Truths of the Faith. Though written for young adults, this book has proved very beneficial for me. Parents should use it to learn themselves and to instruct their children in the faith. For college apologetics, try College Apologetics.
- The Facts About Luther. Written by Msgr. Patrick O’Hare in 1916 and republished by TAN Books (www.tanbooks.com) in 1987. Even though this book is a bit polemic, it is nevertheless, an important read, telling the whole story of Luther that Protestant authors and historians have failed to tell. This book is a sobering, eye-opening, record-straightening analysis of the life, thought, and work of Martin Luther. How many know that Luther wrote the following to Pope Leo X a year after posting his 95 Thesis? Luther wrote, “I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity. . . . That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. . . . Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church. On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church that we can make her better. . . . There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body.” Other books in the same vein, providing the whole story on Luther, are Martin Luther: The Man and the Image written by Herbert David Rix and published in 1983 by Irvington Publishers, Inc., 551 Fifth Ave., New York, NY10017. The German Hartmann Grisar has written a one-volume (Martin Luther: His Life and Work) and a massive six-volume set (Luther) which set the record straight. As a Protestant, Martin Luther was my hero, now that the whole story is known, my opinion of the man has changed. Read also Hillare Belloc’s Characters of the Reformation and How the Reformation Happened.
- Tradition and Traditions. Written by Yves Congar and republished by Basilica Press, which can be reached at (888) 396-2339. I think it is now out of print. Envoy magazine refers to it in this way: ” ‘Apologetics at full throttle.’ That’s how one leading Catholic apologist described this classic work on Tradition. And he should know—it’s a gold mine of information on how to explain and defend Catholic teaching on Tradition, Scripture, and the authority of the Church. It contains a fabulous -wealth of biblical and historical evidence for Tradition—what it is, why we need it, and how to respond to arguments against it.” The shorter and more concise version by Congar is entitled The Meaning of Tradition.
- The Bible and Birth Control. Written by Charles D. Provan and published by Zimmer Printing, 410 W. Main St., Monongahela, PA15063. Since it is out of print as of this revision, check ABE. Provan gives us the forgotten story and facts about the historic Christian teaching on contraceptives. All Christian denominations were united in their teaching that contraceptives would destroy the souls of those using them. After 1930 most Protestant denominations have succumbed to secular influences. “Protestant opposition to birth control has largely been forgotten in our decadent Twentieth Century. If you want to know about Biblical principles which oppose contraception, or wish to know what the Reformers and their heirs thought about this important subject, we certainly hope that you’ll get this book.” Also recommended are Humanae Vitae, a short and prophetic encyclical written by Pope Paul VI, Why Humanae Vitae was Right: A Reader by Janet Smith (Ignatius Press), The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy by Christian Cochini (Ignatius Press), The Case for Clerical Celibacy by Alfons Maria Cardinal Strickler (Ignatius Press), and 100 Answers to Your Questions on Annulments by Edward Peters and published by Simon Schuster and Basilica Press. Also, John Paul II Gospel of Life.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (pocket version) or the much better larger version. The first major Catechism since the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century. Though not strictly a book of apologetics, it is invaluable and indispensable in any attempt to understand, promote, and defend the Catholic faith. Another excellent catechism is Fr. John Hardon’s The Catholic Catechism published in New York by Doubleday Books. It’s an extensive, easily read, and well organized compilation of Church teaching. An apologist should also have a copy of The Catechism of the Council of Trent, written in 1566 and published by TAN Books (www.tanbooks.com). Another important book is The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent also published by TAN Books.
- G. K. Chesterton, Collected Works, Volume 3. Published by Ignatius Press (www.ignatius.com), this volume contains the works The Catholic Church and Conversion, The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic, and others. A brilliant mind makes one proud to convert to the ancient Church and he certainly had a big impact on my own conversion. His books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man should also be in every apologist’s library.
- Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents. Edited by Austin Flannery and published by Liturgical Press, these documents are beautifully written, profound, and the official teaching of the Church’s last Ecumenical Council. These should be owned and read by every Catholic.
- Inquisition. Written by Edward Peters and published by the University of California Press, this book dispels the myths and historical fabrications surrounding the Inquisition. Many such issues are blown out of proportion and used to condemn and dismiss the Catholic Church. Other such issues are the Crusades, Galileo, and the Church’s response to Hitler. Several books that address these issues should be known and read by apologists so as to learn the truth and defend the faith. Following is a list of helpful books. Why I Became A Catholic by Eugenio Zolli the former Chief Rabbi of Rome (published by Roman Catholic Books, Fort Collins, CO) who converted as a result of Rome’s response to the Nazi holocaust. Pius XII and the Holocaust published by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Crusades by Hilaire Belloc and published by TAN Books. Galileo by James Brodrick and published by Harper & Row. For more books and material on Galileo and Catholic scandals, click here and here.
- Winning Converts: A Symposium on Methods of Convert Making for Priests and Lay People. By John A. O’Brien and the first book published by Catholic Answers: Eighteen expert convert-makers explain their successes—as many as 450 converts a year! The methods they used fifty years ago can be used today with equal results. Available at Catholic Answers.
- Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics. Written by Peter Kreeft and published by Ignatius Press. Also recommended: G. H. Duggan’s Beyond Reasonable Doubt published by St. Paul Books and Media. He addresses the nature and history of apologetics, the immortality of the soul, the existence of God, the divinity of Christ and the divine origins of the Church. College Apologetics: Proof of the Truth of the Catholic Faith by Fr. Anthony Alexander and published by TAN Books. Another is Catholic Apologetics Today: Answers to Modern Critics by Fr. William Most and also published by TAN Books.
- And On This Rock: The Witness of One Land and Two Covenants. A study of the papacy focusing especially on the words of Jesus in Matthew 16 “You are Peter and on this Rock I will build My Church”. Fr. Stanley Jaki presents an extensive study of the geography and history of Caesarea Philippi and the implications for Petrine Primacy. Published by Christendom Press. Also recommended is the companion volume by Fr. Jaki, The Keys of the Kingdom: A Tool’s Witness to Truth. Published by The Franciscan Herald Press in Chicago, IL, this book explains the words of our Lord, “And I will give you (Peter) the keys of the kingdom”.
- Mere Christianity. Written by C. S. Lewis and published by Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 3rd Ave., New York, NY, 10022. Lewis is one of the finest and most profound Christian thinkers of the Twentieth century. He has been the cause of many thousands of conversions to the Christian faith. Though Lewis was himself an Anglican, he has brought many, many Evangelical Protestants into the Catholic Church. I am one that was greatly influenced by his thinking and writing. For a more detailed discussion of C. S. Lewis see Lewis, on Dave Armstrong’s website. As listed in the books that most effected my life, Francis Schaeffer’s trilogy are worth reading. They made me proud to be a Christian in my early years. Even though he is “anti-Catholic”, not fond of St. Thomas Aquinas, very dedicated to sola Scriptura and “faith alone”, Schaeffer had a grasp of many things in current apologetics. His three books—The God Who Is There, He Is There and He Is Not Silent, and Escape From Reason (published by Intervarsity Press)—had a big impact on my confidence as a Christian.
- The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Written by “the German Doctor”, Ludwig Ott, this book is an invaluable compendium of Catholic teaching, theology, and the source of Catholic doctrine. Published by TAN Books (www.tanbooks.com). Also, in the same vein, one should consult the following reference works. The Sources of Catholic Dogma by Denzinger and originally by B. Herder Books. It is currently on the CD Rom produced by Harmony House entitled Welcome to the Catholic Church (see Recommended Bible and Catholic Software). This book provides the basis for Church teaching as found in the creeds, Councils, and pronouncements. The Christian Faith: in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church edited by Jacques Dupuis and published by Alba House (www.albahouse.org/books2.htm). “This classic compendium of the documents which define the Christian faith as understood by Catholics includes creeds of the Church from the earliest times, along with major extracts from all the important decrees and declarations of councils, popes and Vatican congregations touching on matters of faith and Christian living” tied to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation by Jesuit Fathers of St. Mary’s College.
- Catholic Replies. Written by James J. Drummey and published by C. R. Publications, 345 Prospect St., Norwood, MA02062. Karl Keating writes of this book, “In my work as an apologist, I’ve learned that the questions between these covers are the questions real Catholics ask. Master the answers, and you’ll be able to satisfy any inquirer.”
- The Belief of Catholics. Written by Ronald Knox and published originally by Sheed & Ward in 1927. Chapter titles include “The Catholic Notion of God”, “Where Protestantism Went Wrong”, “The Foundation of the Church”, “The Truths Catholics Hold”, “The Rules Catholics Acknowledge”, etc. A classic by Msgr. Knox who “has two special gifts—an astonishingly logical mind of his own, and a clear grasp of the mind of the unbeliever. But it is controversy of the newer mode, with the emphasis on the truths of the Catholic faith themselves. We are shown not only why they are true, but what they mean.”
- Catholics and the New Age : How Good People Are Being Drawn into Jungian Psychology, the Enneagram, and the Age of Aquarius. Written by Fr. Mitch Pacwa and published by Servant Publications. It can be purchased at www.amazon.com. A defense of the Catholic faith and a critique of the New Age movement.
- The Catholic Answer to the Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Challenge Accepted. Written by Louise D’Angelo and published by the Maryheart Crusaders, Inc., 22 Button St., Meriden, Conn.06450. A basic primer on dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other excellent books, though written by Protestants, are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John written by Robert M. Bowman, Jr. and published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI. and The Kingdom of the Cults written by Walter Martin and published by Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN 55438. For further information on the modern day cults, refer to Catholic Answers at www.catholic.com and Biblical Defense of Catholicism by Dave Armstrong here. Much is also available to counteract the very rapidly expanding Mormons.
- Any Friend of God’s is a Friend of Mine. Written by Patrick Madrid and published by Basilica Press. This book discusses the Communion of Saints and the Catholic teaching on the intercession of the saints.
- For good books on the false Protestant teaching on the Last Times and the “Rapture“ read these excellent books. Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”, by Carl Olson, The Rapture Trap, by Paul Thigpen, Rapture, the End-times Error that Leaves the Bible Behind, by David Currie, andIs Jesus Coming Soon? By Ralph Martin.
- Catholic Answers’ List entitlted Apologist’s Bookshelf with their top recommendations.
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This list is a GREAT contribution in itself – THANKS.
Have you seen James Drummy et al’s Book I of the Catholicism and Reason series? It is titled Catholicism & Reason, subtitled “The Creed and Apologetics.” It’s especially good at motivating secular minded modern teens and adults to take up the question of religion in the first place. It begins by showing that the existence of God can be known by reason alone, and that it is important to inquire whether God has communicated with us. I’ve found these two preliminaries immensely important to my high school students whether they are believers or not. If they’re not, it establishes immediately that nobody is asking them to START with a blind leap of faith, that in fact to do so would be contrary to God’s plan. This removes an insurmountable barrier to their own evangelization, since they are just at that age where they are seeking reasons for everything they’ve been taught – the few (in my experience) that have been taught. If they are believers, focusing on these two principles enables them to become effective evangelizers of their peers who do not believe…the members of the other category who are usually right there in the class with them. Thanks again for your invaluable list with the superb synopsis. One other suggestion for Mary and the Mass – the Legion of Mary Handbook by Frank Duff (a candidate for beatification and an auditor of Vat. Council II during the writing of the Council document on the Apostolate of the Laity. (The assembled bishops spontaneously gave him a standing ovation, unprecedented or followed in the Council – the Legion had been practicing for some 50 years the principles expounded in the Council document, and I’ve heard it said many bishops consulted the Handbook during it’s composition. The Legion IS evangelization in union with the Mother of God.) Frank Duff was vastly well-read and the Handbook is a distillation of all that is good from the Fathers forward, in terms intended to take to the man on the street by ordinary Catholics, especially regarding Mary – precisely in her misunderstood role of Mediatrix of Grace – and the Eucharist, which as FD notes is the center of the Legion because Mary bringing souls to her Son is Mary bringing them to the Eucharist. I have nowhere seen such a concise (2.5 pages) , profound, simple explanation of the Mass. It answers all the usual objections in a non-polemic context / tone which is tremendously effective also in removing barriers to Mary…when one remembers/realizes that she stood under the Cross beholding and offering her Son’s agony, how can anyone refuse to consider opening their hearts to her?
I would love to receive your impresion of these two books.
Mr Ray, My friends and I are in a discussion with some Protestent Ministers, and they are persistent in our inability to answer there question on infalibility, in that me have to be infalible to believe what the Pope says, and what the ROMANE Catholic Church teaches.
We one of the ministers stated that he has a degree in Greek and we, Catholics, need to be awair of the meaning of “This” in the context of This Rock. That Peter had spiritual enlitement, and the meaning of This Rock had nothing to do with authority of Papal authority.
Have you had ,”This”, this type of refeerence or wat in Greek is the meaning of This in regard to This Rock.
Sorry for being so wordy.
I am an evangelical christian seriously considering the claims of the catholic church. I have been listening to some of your videos and reading some of your books among many others. I listened to a debate yesterday between Karl Keating and Dave Hunt. I have an idea, invite Dave Hunt to go on a holy land tour with you as a kind of travelling proof debate and see if that makes a difference in how he sees things.