In the post below, Carrie suggests that before Vatican II, there was little talk of apologetics. I don’t know if this is quite true, even though I wasn’t alive before Vatican II. I am sure there are historians of the field who can fill us in, but the truth is, apologetics is as old as Christianity in a way, and even in more recent variations of popular Catholicism, you see it. The Catholic Evidence Guild, of course, but even in normal religious study you find apologetics. I believe, for example, that in high school religion classes, it was common for part of the senior year to be given over to apologetics – to prepare the students for what they would meet in the outside world.
I have, for example, a copy of a 4th-year high school textbook called Toward the Eternal Commencement, part of a series called Our Quest for Happiness, published by Mentzer, Bush & Co. in 1946. The last section concerns apologetics, introduced by an explanation of the need for apologetics, as well as the importance of adapting one’s answers to the times. It ends this way:
One final word upon the limits of apologetics. We have called it a statement of the case for the Church. But at best, it is only part of the case, and not the strongest part: it is the statable part: the part that cannot be uttered is greater. The overwhelming case for the Chuch is what life in the Church means to those who live it; no one knows Christ our Lord as those know Him who have lived, or even tried to live, by His teachings and have been fed with the Eucharistic food.
The difference between living in the Church and merely hearing the arguments for the Church is like the difference between seeing the Grand Canyon and seeing a map of the Grand Canyon. Yet a right understanding of the arguments can accomplish great things, for others and for ourselves.
Yeah, you know all that pre-Vatican II catechetical material. So dry and over-intellectualized. Such meaningless head games.
And one more quote, from a rather well-known (at the time) apologetics book written, I believe, to be used in colleges, but heaven knows, since people used to be so much smarter, it might be a high school book for all I know. Apologetics by Paul J. Glenn, part of a “Philosophical Series” he wrote that Herder published.
Apologetics explains and justifies the Catholic religion as the true religion. That is to say, Apologetics shows that the Catholic religion in its essentials, and in such individual doctrines as may be investigated by the unaided mind of man, is reasonable, right, and true; and it shows that the arguments used against the claims of the Catholic religion are unwarranted, unreasonable, and fallacious.
So, it seems fairly clear to me that in a culture in which basic Christian faith is widely derided as unreasonable and Catholicism in particular is regarded as false, there is a tremendous need to answer those questions. The answering is like any step the intellect takes towards belief. It is not the belief itself. It opens the door to belief.
And why is that a problem?