“Why I Am Catholic (and You Should Be Too)” by Brandon Vogt. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2017). 245 pp., $20.
Catholic wunderkind Brandon Vogt, who joined the church in 2008, is one of the go-to spokesmen for both Catholic and secular media when they need an articulate young Catholic to interview.
A best-selling author of seven books on Catholic topics, he also is the founder of the website StrangeNotions.com and content director for Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron’s Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Vogt’s eighth book is a highly readable apologetic treatment of Catholicism that should attract many readers. To his credit, the book isn’t organized into explanations of the traditional “marks of the church,” i.e. “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” Instead, following an introduction titled “The Only Rebellion Left,” the three parts of the book unpack declarations that Catholicism is “true,” “good” and “beautiful.”
Each of the three major parts of “Why I Am Catholic” is divided into various subtopics that explain why Catholicism is “true,” “good” and “beautiful.” For example, Vogt declares that Catholicism is good because of its heroic charity and because it built Western civilization, doesn’t go with the times and offers true forgiveness.
Among the explanations for “Catholicism is true” are “because Jesus is God” and “because Jesus started a church.” While faith cannot deny what Vogt says here, it is in parts of his book such as these that his academic background — mechanical engineering, not theology — peeks through.
Perhaps Vogt should have explained that such beliefs are far from simple; indeed, they involve complex historical, scriptural and theological issues, and an adult faith needs to gain at least some understanding of this complexity.
Theologians have written many books on what it means to say that “Jesus is God” and “Jesus started a church,” and no one should simply repeat these declarations without helping the reader to understand the complex issues they raise. What does it mean to say that Jesus is God? What does it mean to say that Jesus started a church?
“Why I Am Catholic” does get around to the above-mentioned four “marks” of the church — one, holy, catholic and apostolic. These “marks,” Vogt says — found in the Nicene Creed — are what one must look for to find “the church Jesus established.” Indeed, this book explains admirably the meaning of each of these “marks” of the church.
The overall aim of this newest of Vogt’s books, however, is, one may propose, to show how attractive Catholicism is and to extend an invitation to the reader to take a closer look at it.
“If your heart hungers for something more than what you’ve found elsewhere,” Vogt writes, then you’re warmly invited to open the door to the Catholic Church and “discover all that waits on the other side.”
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Finley is the author of more than 30 books on Catholic themes, including “What Faith is Not” (Sheed & Ward) and an updated edition of “The Rosary Handbook: A Guide for Newcomers, Old-Timers, and Those In Between”
(Word Among Us Press)