DEFEND THE FAITH!
by Robert M. Haddad
(Parousia Media, hardback, 2012, 512pp, $34.95, ISBN: 978-0-97515-713-8. Available from Freedom Publishing)
Nowadays it seems that the Catholic faith, and individual members of the Church, are constantly under attack in the media. Many of us know what we believe, but find it hard to explain and defend our beliefs to others, especially when under pressure. What we need is a reference book of the basic Catholic teachings that are most commonly challenged by non-Catholics, and that is what Robert Haddad has given us.
Defend the Faith! provides a comprehensive resource to help those who engage with Protestants, Muslims and atheists to explain their Catholic faith. In a similar style to Dr Rumble's Radio Replies series, which older readers may remember, the book is divided into chapters each based on a particular topic, such as Original Sin, The Infallibility of the Church, the Real Presence.
Within each chapter various objections to the teaching are posed, and then answered. The answers come from a number of sources, including Scripture, the writings of the Fathers of the Church, the Roman Catechism 1566 ( Catechism of the Council of Trent), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each chapter ends with a selection of relevant quotations from the Church Fathers, and the two Catechisms, showing the consistency of beliefs and teaching of the early Church, through to the 16th and then the 20th century.
The author's thorough knowledge of Scripture and New Testament Greek allows him to rebut dubious translations or illogical interpretations used against the Church (see for example his discussion of the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation on hell, page 297, and the section on veneration of Mary, page 228ff).
Haddad includes most of the issues that Protestants are inclined to raise about Catholic teachings, such as justification and salvation, Sola Scriptura, auricular Confession, Purgatory and praying for the dead, indulgences, celibacy of the clergy, and four chapters of questions on Mary. There is also a chapter on answering basic questions from Islam about issues such as the Trinity, Original Sin, and Mohammad versus Jesus.
The final chapter is an introduction to the problems in the anti-Christian arguments of contemporary atheists such as Richard Dawkins. Rather than setting out Dawkins' objections to religious faith, Haddad discusses the weaknesses in his writings, including misrepresentation of Christianity, poor philosophy, deification of chance, and inaccurate history. Also included are appendices listing all the Ecumenical Councils, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, and Popes, as well as a short but pertinent list of further reading for those interested.
In summary, Defend the Faith! is an elegantly written and well-researched work. The author's experience in debating non-Catholics is evident in his understanding of their own beliefs and consequent misconceptions about Catholicism. This book will be of great benefit to anyone needing to defend the more unpopular or misunderstood teachings of Catholicism.
This review first appeared in the Melbourne archdiocesan magazine, Kairos .