My DIY Catholic Study Program

September 10, 2021


Why I'm Doing a Catholic Study Program

There were a few different reasons why I left Evangelical Protestantism to return to my Catholic faith.  Some, like the issues I had with sola scriptura, were clear to me at the time.  Others, were more intuitive.

At the time a partial / intuitive understanding was good enough but now, as I write the last two chapters of my testimony ebook, I realize that I need to dig deeper.

This means study.  But what kind of study can I afford - in terms of time and money?

Some ex-new agers (like Doreen Virtue) have actually gone back to school to get advanced (usually Evangelical) degrees in apologetics or Scripture.  That isn't feasible for me in terms of time or money, so I decided to come up with my own (relatively) low cost DIY program in Catholic studies. 

This may not be a good fit for everyone but I hope that some of the info that follows will be of use!

The 3 Main Areas I Decided to Study

The areas I decided to study parallel many of the issues I had to come to terms with both as an ex-new ager turned Evangelical and as an ex-Evangelical newly returned to the Catholic Church.  Those three main areas are: 

  • Sacred Scripture / Bible study (Old Testament and New)
  • Sacred Tradition (as found in the teachings and history of the Catholic Church)
  • Understanding why so many things non-Catholics say about the Church are inaccurate.  

Obviously there is a lot of crossover between these three topics but there is a difference in focus.  Because of this I made a separate resource list for each category.

If it seems like a lot of material remember that some of the books are reference books (and don't have to be read cover to cover) - some others are relatively short.

A few of the resources are available for free online. Most of the shorter books are not expensive.  Almost all are available used.  Shorter less expensive books include Beginning Apologetics 1, A Pocket Guide to Apologetics and the 20 Answers books.*  I included links for material that is free online.

I did spend some money getting these books together, of course.  Luckily I had an Amazon birthday gift card and Kindle Summer Reading points at my disposal!  If you're interested in doing a similar study consider starting out with one or two books and using as many free resources as possible.

So here is what I'm doing - and a bit about why!

Catholic Study: Apologetics

Catholic apologetics addresses the inaccurate ideas people may have about Catholicism and prepares us to defend our Catholic faith.  I do NOT have any intentions of becoming an apologist but I would like to be equipped to respond to common misconceptions about the faith in my media and writing.  And I think it's a good skill for any Catholic to have.

It is especially important that I be able to do in my testimony ebook because there were people in the Evangelical New Age to Christianity movement I was part of for a time who were very misinformed about the Catholic faith.  

This experience did have an affect on me and is a part of my story.  It is actually one of the main reasons I was motivated to begin this study.

Apologetics Resources

  1. The Case for Catholicism by Trent Horn
  2. The Catholic Answers 20 Answers Series - The Church + many others in the series
  3. Beginning Apologetics 1: How to Explain and Defend the Catholic Faith by Frank Chacon
  4. A Pocket Guide to Catholic Apologetics by Patrick Madrid
  5. The Council of Trent YouTube channel and podcast.  FREE
  6. Catholic Answers YouTube channel and podcast.  FREE

Catholic Study: Sacred Scripture

To me, studying Sacred Scripture is important because the Bible is one of two pillars upon which our Catholic faith is based.  On a personal level it's relevant because seeing the Bible used as a weapon in certain circles changed my relationship with Scripture.  As a result, for a long time after returning to the Church, I didn't read the Bible often outside of mass.

Thankfully, some of the great Catholic apologists I've been reading and watching have brought me back to the Bible.  When that happened I realized that Scripture is not a weapon to be used against Catholics or anyone.  It is refuge and, in many cases, our best defense.

Sacred Scripture Resources*

  1. The Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (St. Ignatius Large Print Edition) (FREE RSV-CE)
  2. The Ignatius Study Bible (New Testament)
  3. The New American Bible (New Catholic Answers Edition and St. Joseph's Edition) (FREE NAB)
  4. Little Rock Catholic Bible Study series. There are many studies in this series but I'm starting here: Letters from Prison
  5. Does the Bible Really Say That? by Patrick Madrid
  6. Where is That in the Bible? by Patrick Madrid
  7. Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible (New Testament)
  8. The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz) - podcast and YouTube**  FREE

*Please note, you don't need four Bibles!  I just happened to already have two of the Bibles listed.  Of the four, I like the St. Jos. NAB best (the Catholic Answers NAB is great too - if you don't need large print) but am told that it is a good idea to also have the RSV because it is a more literal translation.

Catholic Study: Sacred Tradition

I think that Sacred Tradition is probably my weakest area.  I was so weak on it when I came out of the New Age, in fact, that I couldn't even say why Catholic Sacred Tradition was valid - which made me a prime target for Protestant evangelization.  Now I want to learn about things like Apostolic succession and Church history and the authority of the Church!  

Sacred Tradition / Catholic Teachings

  1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church  (FREE online version -  you may have to turn off your adblock to use the online flip book)
  2. The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church by Jimmy Aikin
  3. Why is That in Tradition? by Patrick Madrid
  4. Scripture and Tradition - Catholic Answers, 20 Answer series
  5. The Baltimore Catechism  (FREE online) This is an older Catechism and not as long as our modern version.  I'm not sure when I'll actually get to this one but wanted to include it because of the free study (below).
  6. Baltimore Catechism Course (FREE online)

My Goals

I started to study the faith as research for the ebook and quickly realized it is something I love doing and really do want to talk about. So I'll be sharing about what I'm learning from time to time here, on my YouTube channel and in the ebook.  And I believe that there are some real benefits to doing that.  

One, talking about what I'm learning helps me to really understand it.  Two, sharing on YouTube and this blog keeps me accountable.  Three, the possibility that doing this  (even though I'm not the best equipped) might encourage others and / or get people to think about what the Catholic faith has to offer.  Four, it's part of my story, like it or not.

I hope that over the long-haul, this study will also make me a better Catholic, grow my faith and bring me closer to God.
_______________
*Please note the resources listed above include Amazon affiliate links.  If you purchase through one of these links, I'll get a small commission at no cost to you.  If you're not a fan of Amazon, please check out Thrift Books or eBay.  I use both (in addition to Amazon).
**The Fr. Mike Schmitz Bible study uses the Ascension Press Adventure Bible but it can be done with any Bible.  There is a downloadable reading plan for use with any Bible (visit the Ascension Press website here to download).

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