As Catholic converts know, the fullness of faith isn’t the same as the perfection of practice. We have much to learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters on living out the Gospel. Shaun McAfee, a convert himself, shows how we can turn to Protestants and “test everything and retain what is good” (1 Thess 5:21). From evangelization and personal testimonies, to hospitality and memorizing Scripture, his advice is clear and practical. Any Catholic who wants to live a more fruitful spiritual life will follow his direction.
Recent years have seen a slew of books defending the existence of God. Some of the best include Dr. Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition, Stephen Barr’s Modern Physics, Ancient Faith, Fr. Robert Spitzer’s New Proofs for the Existence of God, and David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God. Each of those titles are tightly written and brilliantly argued, but they can also be a bit intimidating for people with no background on the subject. Last year, Trent Horn released a more accessible introduction to these arguments in his book, Answering Atheism. But a new book by Steven Hemler, The Reality of God, makes the arguments even more palatable.
The book is arranged in three parts. Part I focuses on cosmic evidence for God’s existence and covers the Big Bang and the fine tuning of nature. Part II examines biological evidence for God, both in evolution and genetic information. Part III studies human evidence for God by exploring whether consciousness, our moral sense, and our ability to reason all serve as signposts to the divine.
Hemler’s stated goal is to help ordinary Christians articulate objective reasons why God exists. In that he succeeds well. Most of the book is breezy and clear, making this an ideal introduction to the arguments for God. I would now recommend The Reality of God to most Christians before tackling any of the previously mentioned books.
However, the book does get needlessly technical in the section on genetic information, at least more than is necessary for beginners. A novice doesn’t need to understand the complexities of how nucleotide bases in DNA correctly sequence to join amino acids together to make proteins. One other gripe is that Hemler often cites DVDs, and quotes from DVDs, to support his points. It would have been more helpful to follow the lead of other introductory books and cull from advanced texts on the topic (such as those above), pointing interested readers to higher level materials rather than other popular-level presentations.
Those small criticisms aside, this is a clear, helpful introduction that is simple without being simplistic. It doesn’t wade too deeply into the philosophical arguments for God—such as Thomas Aquinas’ five ways, the argument from contingency, or the ontological argument—but that may be beyond the purvey of an introductory book like this one. What it sets out to do, it does well, and for that reason I recommend it as the first splash in a deeper well.
Catholic Answers, the world’s largest Catholic apologetics ministry, continues to pump out tons of great books like Trent Horn’s Persuasive Pro Life and Tim Staples’ Behold Your Mother.
But along with new titles they’ve recently turned their attention to classic apologetical works. Their new Catholic Answers Classics Series brings back influential titles like G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, presenting them in deluxe, hardcover editions with beautiful typeset and ribbon bookmarks—the sort of books you’re proud to have on your shelf and happy to hold in your hands.
In my video review below I check out the first three books in the Catholic Answers Classics Series:
(Sorry for the weird color shifts and audio! Still working out the kinks.)
You can purchase these beautiful deluxe editions here:
At the beginning of each year, I reflect back on some of my favorite books of the past year. I usually try to have this list up by early January but alas, here it is. Better late than never!
I knocked out 61 books in 2014, which might be high for most people but is somewhat low for me. I failed to hit my usual 75 mark this year for a few reasons. First, we welcomed a new baby (our daughter Gianna), then a new job change (thanks Word on Fire!), and then, ironically, I spent much of my time developing a new video course on how to read more books (coming next week!)
Among those 61 books here were my 15 favorites, in reverse order: