General Apologetics

Art Sippo's Recommended Reading List for Catholic Apologists

To learn more about each book or to place an order, please click on it's title.

Blanket endorsement can be given to certain Catholic authors without reservation. Everything these folks have written is worth reading:

Mortimer Adler

Aristotle for Everybody 
Paideia Proposal : An Educational Manifesto
Six Great Ideas
The Great Ideas : A Lexicon of Western Thought (Scribner Classics)
Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth, an Essay in the Philosophy of Religion
The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes
How to Read a Book

James Akins

Mass Confusion
The Salvation Controversy

Dave Armstrong

A Biblical Defense of Catholicism

Hillaire Belloc

The Crisis of Civilization
Characters of the Reformation : Historical Portraits of the 23 Men and Women and Their Place in the Great Religious Revolution of the 16th Century
The Crusades : The World's Debate
Essays of a Catholic
Europe and the Faith
Great Heresies
How the Reformation Happened
The Mercy of Allah

G. K. Chesterton

All Things Considered
The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown
Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens
Autobiography of G. K. Chesterton
The Ball and the Cross
Brave New Family : Men and Women, Children, Sex, Divorce, Marriage, and the Family
The Club of Queer Trades
Collected Nonsense and Light Verse
Collected Works G.K. Chesterton V. 16
The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton : Christendom in Dublin, Irish Impressions, the New Jerusalem, a Short History of England, the Patriotic Idea,
Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton : Collected Poetry : Part 1
The Everlasting Man
Father Brown of the Church of Rome : Selected Mystery Stories
George Bernard Shaw
The Outline of Sanity

Christopher Derrick

Church Authority and Intellectual Freedom
Escape from Scepticism : Liberal Education As If Truth Mattered
Honest love and human life: is the Pope right about contraception?
Rule of Peace : St. Benedict and the European Future
That Strange Divine Sea : Reflections on Being a Catholic
Too Many People : A Problem in Values
Trimming the ark: Catholic attitudes and the cult of change
C.S. Lewis and the Church of Rome : a study in proto-ecumenism
Joy Without a Cause : Selected Essays of Christopher Derrick

Tim Gray

Mission of the Messiah; On the Gospel of Luke
Boys To Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue

Scott Hahn

El regreso a casa, el regreso a Roma
Rome Sweet Home : Our Journey to Catholicism
A Father Who Keeps His Promises : God's Covenant Love in Scripture
First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity
The Gospel of Luke : The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible Revised Standard Version
Hail, Holy Queen : The Mother of God in the Word of God
The Lamb's Supper : The Mass As Heaven on Earth
Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God
Scott Hahn Audio Cassettes

Tom Howard

The Achievement of C. S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis : Man of Letters : A Reading of His Fiction
Chance or the Dance : A Critique of Modern Secularism
Christ the Tiger
Evangelical Is Not Enough : Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament
If Your Mind Wanders at Mass
Liturgy Explained
On Being Catholic
Splendor in the Ordinary: Your Home as a Holy Place
Chance or the dance?
Lead, Kindly Light : My Journey to Rome

Karl Keating

Catholicism and Fundamentalism
Controversies : High-Level Catholic Apologetics
Nothing But the Truth
The Usual Suspects : Answering Anti-Catholic Fundamentalists
What Catholics Really Believe--Setting the Record Straight : 52 Answers to Common Misconceptions About the Catholic Faith

Steven Kellmeyer

Scriptural Catholicism

Pat Madrid

Any Friend of God's Is a Friend of Mine : A Biblical and Historical Explanation of the Catholic Doctrine of the Communion of Saints
Pope Fiction: Answers to 30 Myths and Misconceptions About the Papacy
Search and Rescue : How to Bring Your Family and Friends Into, or Back Into, the Catholic Church
Where Is That In the Bible?
Radio Apologetics  Audio Cassette
The Hold Fast to the Traditions You Were Taught Catholic-Protestant Debate  Audio Cassette
The Does the Bible Teach Sola Scriptura? Catholic-Protestant Debate  Audio Cassette
The First Catholic-Mormon Dialogue  Audio Cassette
The "Search the Scriptures" Catholic-Protestant Debate  Audio Cassette
Catholics and the Rapture: Will You Be Caught Up Or Left Behind?  Audio Cassette
There's Something About Harry: A Catholic Analysis of the Harry Potter Phenomenon  Audio Cassette
An Introduction to Islam: A Catholic Answer to the Call of the Minaret  Audio Cassette
The Speak the Truth in Love Conference: An Introduction to Catholic Apologetics  Audio Cassette

Ralph McInerney

Disputed Questions on Virtue : Quaestio Disputata De Virtutibus in Commune and Quaesito Disputata De Virtutibus Cardinalibus
Boethius and Aquinas

Steve Ray

Crossing the Tiber : Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church
Upon This Rock : St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church (Modern Apologetics Library)

Mark Shea

By What Authority? : An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition
Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did
This Is My Body : An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence

Frank Sheed

Theology and Sanity
What Difference Does Jesus Make?
Map of Life : A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith
To Know Christ Jesus

Steve Wood

Christian fatherhood : the eight commitments of St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers
Study Guide for Beginning Apologetics

Marcus Grodi

Journeys Home


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.

Back to Virtue : Traditional Moral Wisdom for Modern Moral Confusion
Best Things in Life
Between Heaven and Hell
C.S. Lewis for the Third Millennium : Six Essays on the Abolition of Man
Catholic Christianity : A Complete Catechism of Catholic Beliefs Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Christianity for Modern Pagans : Pascal's Pensees
Handbook of Christian Apologetics : Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions
Making Sense Out of Suffering
A Refutation of Moral Relativism : Interviews With an Absolutist

Robert Sungenis

Not By Faith Alone
Not By Scripture Alone
Not by Bread Alone: The Biblical Evidence for the Eucharistic Sacrifice

Certain non-Catholic authors can be generally recommended as well:

C. S. Lewis -  No real reservations on any of his work.
Particular favorites:

Mere Christianity
Screwtape Letters
Pilgrim's Regress
The Space Trilogy :
Out of the Silent Planet
That Hideous Strength
The Narnia Chronicles
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Prince Caspian
The Horse and his Boy
The Magician's Nephew
The Silver Chair
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Last Battle

Austin Ferrer -  Anglo-Catholic priest (Confessor of C. S. Lewis)    
Particular Favorites:

The Freedom of the Will

Commentary on Revelation


J. N. D. Kelly - A very reliable Anglo-Catholic Scholar.
Particular Favorites:

Early Christian Doctrines
Early Christian Creeds
The Oxford Dictionary of Popes
Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies
Golden Mouth (Biography of St. John Chrysostom)

Jaroslav Pelikan - Former Lutheran, recent convert to Eastern Orthodoxy
Particular Favorites:

Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture
Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture
Christianity & Classical Culture: The Metamorphsis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism

Imago Dei : The Byzantine Apologia for Icons
The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine    (5 Volumes):

1- The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100-600
2- The Spirit of Eastern Christendom 600-1700
3- The Growth of Medireview Theology 600-1300
4- Reformation of Church and Dogma 1300-1700
5- Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture since 1700

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 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 reading.

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.

Radio Replies
(Vol 1) (Vol 2) (Vol 3) by Fr. Mortimer Carty and Fr. Leslie Rumble – Reprints of transcripts from a1930’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 series Ancient Christian Writers. 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 series Ancient Christian Writers. 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!)

Enchiridion Symbolorum 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 Ignatius.

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
(Vol 1) (Vol 2) (Vol 3) – 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.

Art Sippo
The Catholic Legate