When Patrick Madrid started in Catholic apologetics back in 1987, it wasn’t nearly as popular as today. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, apologetics didn’t jive with the ecumenical spirit of the 60’s and 70’s, which put more emphasis on what Catholicism had in common with other faiths rather than what set it apart.
Yet along with Karl Keating, Dr. Scott Hahn, and a small group of others, Patrick helped revive the lost art. For eight years, he worked at Catholic Answers, an apologetics and evangelization apostolate, where he served as vice president and helped launch the group’s flagship magazine, This Rock (now called Catholic Answers Magazine.)
Since then he’s spoken around the world and has written or edited over twenty books, which together have sold almost a million copies. They include The Godless Delusion, Search and Rescue, and Surprised By Truth. His latest book is Envoy for Christ: 25 Years as a Catholic Apologist (Servant Books, paperback, 392 pages.)
Patrick recently launched a new call-in radio show called “Right Here, Right Now,” which you can hear Monday through Friday from 4:00pm-5:00pm ET on EWTN-Radio affiliate stations across the country, as well as on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio.
Patrick recently sat down with me to discuss several things including Catholic apologetics, the new atheism, and his favorite books on apologetics.
(As I explain in the video, the first two questions got cut due to a glitch. However, they’re transcribed in their entirety below.)
Watch or download our interview below:
Patrick’s Recommended Books on Apologetics
- Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas
- Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed
- Handbook of Catholic Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli
(These are the first two interview questions that got cut out from the video.)
Q: Let’s start by talking about your newest book, titled Envoy for Christ: 25 Years as a Catholic Apologist (Servant, paperback, 392 pages). The book is part memoir, part apologetics. What can people expect to find in the book?
Well, in addition to how you just aptly described it, the greater part of the book is given over to a series of essays I have written over the last 25 years on many different themes in apologetics. Some are in regards to specific religious groups like Mormons, Protestants, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also, there is apologetics for the culture, so dealing with things that are not religious per se but rather with the pressures and worldviews that are rampant in our culture.
I also wrote a good deal of new material to offset the material that is collected there from previous essays. This new material is largely a memoir including several behind-the-scenes anecdotes and stories which people otherwise would not know about. For example, I write about how I met Karl Keating and Scott Hahn, how I introduced the two to each others, and things we did back in the “olden days” when the popularity of apologetics was still being reestablished.
Q: In your history of being a professional Catholic apologist, which now spans more than 25 years, you’ve heard just about every objection to Catholicism under the sun. In your experience, what is the most common objection people have, and how can we explain or answer it?
If I may define that into two categories, I’d say that among non-Catholics, especially Protestants, at the top of their list would be the notion that Catholics do not follow the notion of sola Scriptura. It’s a Reformation principle which holds that Scripture is formally sufficient for Christian believers and that Tradition and the Magisterium are ultimately unnecessary with regard to interpreting Scripture properly. From that point of view flows so many other errors and heresies and problems, so when you see this issue of sola Scriptura is at the heart of many misunderstandings and problems between Catholics and Protestant it becomes easier then, once you’ve dealt with that issue, to talk about the papacy or Mary or the Eucharist.
Now for Catholics, the number one objection they raise has to do with birth control. Contraception is widely practiced by the vast majority of Catholics who, likely because of ignorance and improper catechesis, never really understood why the Church teaches what she does on this issue. So many of them have the idea that they can dissent from this teaching, ignore it, and go their merry way practicing contraception. Unfortunately, most Catholic couples are contracepting. So that is not only the de facto objection to the Church but it is one that requires good answers so that people understand this is not just something that the Church mandates in order to prevent people from having fun. There are good, solid, urgent reasons why they should not be practicing birth control.
Follow Patrick through his website, PatrickMadrid.com and also through Twitter and Facebook.
What’s the most common objection you hear to Catholicism?