Blanket endorsement can be given to certain
Catholic authors without reservation. Everything these folks have
written is worth reading:
G. K. Chesterton
Certain Catholic authors are very good with some reservations:
Peter Kreeft: Is too favorable to Luther especially in his book
"Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics." Otherwise his work is excellent.
Certain non-Catholic authors can be generally recommended as well:
C. S. Lewis: No real reservations on any of his work.
Austin Ferrer: Anglo-Catholic priest (Confessor of C. S. Lewis)
The Freedom of the Will
Commentary on Revelation
J. N. D. Kelly: A very reliable Anglo-Catholic Scholar.
Jaroslav Pelikan: Former Lutheran, recent convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.
Specific Book Titles:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church – Know this book inside out and you will know
Catholic teaching. Whenever possible, relate your studies to the
Catechism's treatment on any given topic.
The Baltimore Catechism (Fr. Connell's Edition) – What I was catechized with in
grammar school in the 1950's. Simple questions with
deceptively simple answers that are much more profound than they
first appear. My memorization of these questions and answers as a
child has been a large help to me in apologetic work. The themes
in the catechism are limited and so this is not a truly
comprehensive resource, but it is a good foundation to build on.
Get one for your kids and test their memories like a spelling bee.
Iustitia Dei (2 volumes) by Alister McGrath – The best treatment on the history of the
doctrine of justification. McGrath is an evangelical Anglican and
so his viewpoint is colored by Reformation concerns, but his
treatment of Trent is balanced based primarily on Fr.
Jedin's work. McGrath makes it clear that all of the major
Catholic thinkers prior to the Reformation were clearly and
consciously anti-Pelagian. In the summation of Volume 1, McGrath
admits that the distinctive Protestant teachings on justification
represented a "theological novum" when compared with
historical Christian teaching. In the early portions of Volume 2
(pages 15-21), McGrath points out how Luther's views
differed from those of St. Augustine. There is no similar book on
this topic. For a detailed Catholic critique, see the review in
the June 1990 Issue of The Thomist.
Justification and Sanctification (2 volumes) by Peter Toon –
Evangelical/Anglo-Catholic scholar. This book surveys the various versions of the doctrine
of Justification among major historical thinkers including St.
Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Shows in detail how Luther
deviated from previous Catholic teaching.
Kinship by Covenant by Scott Hahn – I cannot recommend this
work more highly! This is Dr. Hahn's doctoral dissertation
and can be obtained from UMI in Ann Arbor, Michigan or from St.
Joseph's Communications. A scholarly yet accessible
compendium which shows the continuity between the Old Testament,
the New Testament, and distinctive themes in Catholic theology.
Every educated Catholic can and should read this book.
Kinship by Covenant: A Biblical Theological Analysis of
Covenant Types and Texts in the Old and New Testaments
Ph.D. Diss, Marquette Univ (Ann Arbor: UMI, 1995; revision to be
published by T & T Clark, forthcoming 2001).
Not By Faith Alone by Robert Sungenis –
Another must for the Catholic apologist! There is
no other book like this in print. It is an extended apologetic on
the Catholic doctrine of justification and a refutation of
specific Protestant claims. This is only one in a series of books
Bob is writing on apologetic themes. All of them deserve careful
Not By Scripture Alone, Edited by Robert Sungenis –
Detailed refutation to the Protestant
claim that the Bible should be the sole rule of faith. Of
particular note is Joe Gallegos' chapter demonstrating that
the Church Fathers did not believe in Sola Scriptura.
Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A
Primer for Suspicious Protestants by
Daniel H. Williams – Doctor Williams is a Protestant Scholar
and an expert on the Arian Heresy. This book is his attempt to
educate his co-religionists on the real truth about the Patristic
Era. Of special note is an appendix in which he shows that Sola
Scriptura cannot be found in the Patristic period and explains
why this is so.
by Fr. Mortimer Carty and Fr. Leslie Rumble – Reprints of transcripts from
the 1930's and 1940's Australian Catholic radio program
which refuted many of the charges that Protestants were making
against the Church. Virtually every objection Protestants and
skeptics raise is covered here in detail.
The Apostolic Fathers (Several editions) – This collection
contains the earliest Christian writings that were not made part
of the New Testament. They show that in the late 1st and early
2nd Century the Catholic Church had monarchical bishops, the
three-fold ordained ministry (bishops, priests, and deacons),
confession of sins, belief in Eucharistic sacrifice, belief in a
substantial Real Presence of Christ's body and blood in the
Eucharist, marriage performed as a ceremony in Church, and
acknowledgment of both St. Peter and St. Paul having been
martyred in Rome. The edition by Lightfoot has the added benefit
of quotations from lost works attributed to the Apostolic Fathers
by later authors.
On Faith and Works
by St. Augustine – Part of the Paulist Press' Ancient
Christian Writers series. This short treatise shows how St. Augustine
REALLY approached this question. I read this after my debate with
James White on the topic of Justification and I was surprised at
how similar my line or argument was to St. Augustine's.
On Free Choice (or On Freedom of the Will)
by St. Augustine – Another volume in the Paulist Press' Ancient
Christian Writers series. St. Augustine addresses
the notion of free will before he became embroiled in the
Pelagian controversy. This edition includes his reflections on
this issue AFTER becoming involved in the Pelagian controversy
from his book The Retractations. St. Augustine concludes that we
need to have a freedom of indifference in order to be sinners and
to absolve God for responsibility for our sins.
A Summa of the Summa
by Peter Kreeft – An excellent abridgment of the Summa Theologiae
of St. Thomas Aquinas that hits the high points with helpful
commentary. It uses the actual words of St. Thomas form selected
sections of the Summa. For those wanting an introduction to St.
Thomas, this is a good place to start. This is not easy reading
but it is worth the effort and it will equip you to deal with the
master's work in its entirety. After reading this book, get
a copy of the full text of the Summa and you will be able to
refer to it often.
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
by Ludwig Ott – An amazing resource that suffers from a mediocre
to poor English translation based on an edition from the
1950's. This book is still in print in Germany in a more
current edition. If you read German, get that recent German
Edition. Meanwhile, the English edition is still important albeit
not a s faithful to Dr. ott's work as it could be. (To
Ignatius Press: we need a new translation!)
by Fr. Heinrich Denzinger (Edited by Fr. Schoenmetzer). Compendium of
Magisterial texts from the ancient Church up through the works of
John Paul II. The most current version is in Greek, Latin, and
German and published in 1999. Ignatius Press is working on a new
English translation, which should be ready by early 2003. GET
THIS BOOK! An unparallel resource.
Sources of Catholic Dogma translated by Fr. Defarrari – A
translation of a 1930's edition of the Enchiridion
Symbolorum. Several SERIOUS typographical errors. IF you have a
copy of this book, you need an errata sheet. Okay as far as it
goes, but I am looking forward to the new English edition from
The Christian Faith: Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church
by Fr. Josef Neuner (Editor), Fr. Jacques Dupuis (Editor) – An English translation of extracts
from the Enchiridion Symbolorum arranged topically. Helpful but
not complete. No replacement for the original texts in the
Enchiridion. Some of the original texts cannot be topically
categorized. Bits and pieces of texts (e.g., from the Ecumenical
Councils) are scattered throughout the book. This layout is not
conducive to showcasing the historical flow of Catholic teaching.
The Faith of the Early Fathers by Fr. William A. Jurgens
– The best single
compendium of quotations form the Church Fathers on a variety of
topics. Helps to point you to Patristic works for a more complete
treatment of a topic.
Navarre Bible Commentaries –
The best series of Catholic biblical commentaries in print. Based
on original work done at the University of Navarre in Spain under
the auspices of Opus Dei.
International Bible Commentary
William R. Farmer (Editor), Armando Levoratti (Editor), Sean
McEvenue (Editor), David L. Dungan (Editor) – Pricey but
very modern and loyal to the Magisterium. The very best that
Catholic scholarship has to offer.
Catholic Study Bibles: There are no good ones in print. Ignatius
Press is working on a Study Bible with Scott Hahn based on the
RSV-Catholic Edition with new notes. Bob Sungenis also has one in
the works based on the Douay-Rheims version with copious notes
from the Fathers. Both of them promise to be excellent resources
when they are completed. They will be complimentary to each
other. The old Haydock edition of the Douay-Rheims version is in
print, but its notes are outdated.