During my time in youth ministry there were many great products I utilized from time to time, then there were the resources I would use ALL OF THE TIME. These are the things that I would go to first when planning out my teachings. The Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is one such product.
The Handbook is written by Dr. Peter Kreeft and Father Ronald Tacelli, a Catholic priest. They both teach philosophy at Boston College. If you are even mildly interested in the world of Catholic apologetics, you probably know the name Peter Kreeft. He’s a great apologist and philosopher and one of my very favorite commentators on Catholic/Christian issues. If you are interested in Catholic thought, philosophy, the thought of C.S. Lewis, or good fiction in general, you have to pick up something from Dr. Kreeft.
Okay. I’m done with my fanboy-ism. Back to our topic for the day.
Kreeft and Tacelli published the Handbook of Christian Apologetics way back in 1994. The Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is an updated version of The Handbook of Christian Apologetics. It’s basically the same book but the new version contains a section at the end that treats issues specific to Catholicism. My best friend, who is not Catholic, loves and uses the Catholic version for his own work in his community. The word “Catholic” may be in the title, but this book is a great read for anyone interested in philosophy and religion.
The book has many great chapters that unpack accessible, deep philosophy that are all worth reading. It covers faith and reason, life after death, free will, the problem of evil, objective truth, and so much more. But if you pay for the whole book just to read the third chapter it will have been worth it. The third chapter covers the existence of G-d and it is phenomenal. I’ve studied philosophy in a university and I can say that the chapter on the existence of G-d in this book is one of the best things I’ve ever read. And it is way cheaper than any philosophy text book I’ve bought.
Almost every week as I would plan my youth group meetings I would grab this book and see if I could add anything from it. I can’t recommend it enough. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and anywhere else good books are sold, but check with your local Catholic bookstore first. Help them out if you can.
Philosophy can seem daunting, but anyone who wants to teach the Catholic faith needs to have a background in it. Resources like The Handbook of Catholic Apologetics help even the totally uninitiated to begin integrating philosophy into their youth programs. I’m positive it will elevate your teachings and help to really set your youth program apart. Good luck! And happy reading.