"Ronald Knox was the most original and eloquent writer of the century." -- Fr. George Rutler
"Knox was a bright star whose work was unflaggingly wise, urbane, witty and all done in the purest prose imaginable." -- Thomas Howard
"He had used the weapon of laughter in addressing himself to people who could no longer laugh, and the weapon of reason in talking to people who could no longer think and the weapon of knowledge in informing people who were indifferent to fact." -- Robert Speaight
NEW: In Soft Garments: Classic Catholic Apologetics
Ronald A. Knox
When the Holy See gave general permission for Catholics to study again at Oxford and Cambridge, the stipulation was made that lectures be offered to provide support for their faith, as Catholics would be a minority in a rather hostile atmosphere. In the days when C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien trod the greens of Oxford, those lectures were provided by the wise and witty Msgr. Ronald Knox, himself a convert to the Catholic Church.
Erudite and profound, Monsignor Knox not only helped keep the Catholic students aflame with faith, but also led many lapsed Catholics and non-Catholics into the Church. His writings continue to provide inspiration and instruction to all those confronting questions of life and faith.
Some of the best talks by Knox are gathered in this volume. "If God Exists", "The Unholiness of the Church" and "Unselfishness in Marriage" are but a few of the topics he deftly discussed in a manner as entertaining and pertinent now as when they were first given at Oxford in the 1920s and '30s.
"In what Msgr. Knox calls the '4 a.m.' mood, a sense of futility creeps in, a suspicion that the Christian system does not really hang together, that there are flaws in the logic . . . that there are too many unresolved contradictions. To this mood with its temptation to despair, Msgr. Knox talks with unfailing kindness . . . Those who have left their formal education far behind them will find huge solace in reading and re-reading this book. It should be at every bedside, ready to be opened at 4 a.m." -- Evelyn Waugh, Author, Brideshead Revisited
Read a chapter from In Soft Garments:
COMPLETE LISTING of Ronald Knox books from Ignatius Press
Monsignor Ronald Knox (1888-1957) was the son of the Anglican Bishop of Manchester and it appeared that he, being both spiritually perceptive and intellectually gifted, would also have a successful life as an Anglican prelate. But while in school in the early 1900s Knox began a long struggle between his love for the Church of England and his growing attraction to the Catholic Church.
He was particularly drawn to ritual and ceremony, writing years later that long before I had ever seen a ritualistic service I became a Ritualist.
For many years he harbored the hope that somehow, by Gods providential working, the Church of England would be reunited with Rome. But in 1917, four years after being ordained in the Church of England, Knox became a Catholic; two years later he was ordained a priest. Upon being received into the Catholic Church he expressed his great relief and sense of joy:
I have been overwhelmed with the feeling of liberty the glorious liberty of the Sons of God; it [is] a freedom from the uncertainty of mind; it was not until I became a Catholic that I became conscious of my former homelessness, my exile from the place that was my own. (Quoted in Fr. Charles B. Connors Classic Catholic Converts [Ignatius Press, 2001],150).Knox was a prose stylist of immense talent whose sharp wit and biting satire poked holes in the smug secularism of his day. In books such as Essays in Satire and Caliban in Grub Street he mocked the dogma-lite Christianity, shallow agnosticism and glib atheism so popular among the elite classes of England. A superb spiritual director, he led many retreats and wrote a number of books about retreats and the spiritual life for both religious and laity. He also wrote murder mysteries (as did G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers), translated the entire Bible over a nine years period and wrote Enthusiasm, a fascinating and sympathetic history of enthusiast movements (such as Montanism and Quietism) in Christianity.
Like all great preachers and teachers, Knox had a gift for distilling complex matters into understandable and compelling language, and his wry humor makes his lucid writing that much more enjoyable. This was certainly true of his greatest apologetic work, The Belief of Catholics, written in 1927 (and recently republished by Ignatius Press). In it he addressed modernism and the growing skeptism in England about the claims of Christianity; he also took on arguments made against the Catholic Church by various Protestants, many of which are still commonly used by certain Fundamentalists and Evangelicals today. One of these is the faulty claim that a Christian is not dependant, whether historically or practically, upon the Catholic Church for correct doctrine, but that all a believer needs is the Bible. In The Belief of Catholics, in a chapter titled Where Protestantism Goes Wrong, Knox demonstrated that how one views the Church will either make or break the basis of their view of Christ, the Bible and authority:
a proper notion of the Church is a necessary stage before we argue from the authority of Christ to any other theological doctrine whatever. The infallibility of the Church is, for us, the true induction from which all our theological conclusions are derived. The Protestant, stopping short of it, has to rest content with an induction of the false kind; and the vice of that false kind of induction is that all its conclusions are already contained in its premises. Perhaps formal logic is out of date; let me restate the point otherwise. We derive from our apprehension of the living Christ the apprehension of a living Church; it is from that living Church that we take our guidance. Protestantism claims to take its guidance immediately from the living Christ. But what is the guidance he gives us, and where are we to find it?The claim of many Christians that it is the Bible which fully guides them and provides the final say in matters of their faith is inconsistent and cannot stand in the face of reason:
In fact the Protestant had no conceivable right to base any arguments on the inspiration of the Bible, for the inspiration of the Bible was a doctrine which had been believed, before the Reformation, on the mere authority of the Church; it rested on exactly the same basis as the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Protestantism repudiated Transubstantiation, and in doing so repudiated the authority of the Church; and then, without a shred of logic, calmly went on believing in the inspiration of the Bible, as if nothing had happened! Did they suppose that Biblical inspiration was a self-evident fact, like the axioms of Euclid?As Knox indicates, not only does the Bible itself not teach that it is the final and sole authority in the Christian life, this belief ignores the historical facts as to how we received the Bible and by whose authority the canon of Scripture has been set. The Catholic Faith is a seamless garment which demands all or nothing; if someone accepts the authority of Scripture, it is logical that they, like Ronald Knox, must also accept the authority of the Catholic Church it is both necessary and consistent.
BOOKS BY or ABOUT RONALD KNOX from IGNATIUS PRESS:
Second Friends: C.S. Lewis and Ronald Knox in Conversation
Fr. Milton Walsh
C. S. Lewis and Ronald Knox were two of the most popular authors of Christian apologetics in the twentieth century ... and for many years they were neighbors in Oxford. In Second Friends, Milton Walsh delves into their writings and compares their views on a variety of compelling topics, such as the existence of God, the divinity of Christ, the problem of suffering, miracles, the way of Love, the role of religion in society, prayer, and more. They both bring to the conversation a passionate love of truth, clarity of thought, and a wonderful wit.
Lewis and Knox both experienced powerful conversions to the Christian faith, an important aspect that Walsh covers in detail. Both wrote about their conversion experiences because they wanted to explain to others why they took that life-changing step. They each valued logical thinking, and they professed that the Christian faith should be embraced, not only because it is good, but because it is true. Reason provides the intellectual foundation of belief for both authors.
For both these apologists, Christianity is much more than a doctrinal system: it is above all a personal relationship with Christ that entails romance, struggle, and loyalty. A common adjective applied to Lewis and Knox as writers was "imaginative". They saw lack of imagination as a great hurdle to faith, and they believed that imagination is a privileged path leading to a deeper apprehension of the truth.
Lewis and Knox, while convinced that the Christian faith rested on sound reason and that it fulfilled the deepest human longings, also knew that God is a mystery--and so is the human heart. In the face of these twin mysteries, Milton Walsh shows that both men approached their evangelizing efforts in a spirit of humility, as he explores how they appealed to the mind, the heart, and the imagination in presenting the Christian faith.
"It is a great delight to see that Fr. Milton Walsh has brought together the incomparable Knox and the indomitable Lewis in a way that enables us to understand both of them better." -- Joseph Pearce Author, C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church
"This--to quote C.S.Lewis--'is the most noble and joyous book I've read these ten years.' ... This book has led me deeper into Lewis's own writings than any I've read." -- Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis' former secretary and biographer>
Fr. Milton Walsh, a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, wrote his dissertation on Ronald Knox, and he is a longtime reader and researcher of the works of both Knox and C.S. Lewis. He is the author of the work Ronald Knox As Apologist.
The Belief of Catholics
Of Knox's many works, The Belief of Catholics is his best-known book and his premiere piece of apologetics. While it deals extensively with Protestantism, its target is more the unchurched or lightly-church modern who, if he gives any thought at all to Catholicism, thinks it mildly foreign.
As Knox knew, it is not the most difficult part of modern apologetics to convince the devoted Protestant that he has much of Christian truth but now needs to move on to the rest, which is found only in the Catholic Church. The most difficult part is convincing the nominal Protestant (or nominal Catholic), the vaguely religious person, or the person without any religious inclinations that God really does exist, that His existence matters, and that only knowledge of Him and obedience to Him can lead to answers to the questions that haunt everyone.
Knox discusses "the truths Catholics hold", "the rules Catholics acknowledge", "the strength Catholics receive", and "the ambitions Catholics honour". These truths, rules, strengths, and ambitions were attractive to the book's first readers. They were answers to the ever-present "Why?". These answers will prove equally attractive to today's readers who, after so many decades of failed isms, yearn for understanding and commitment even more than did their grandparents' generation.
Captive Flames: On Selected Saints and Christian Heroes
The well-known Catholic convert and apologist Ronald Knox was highly esteemed for both his gift for writing and preaching. This volume combines both skills as it is a collection of his homilies on his favorite saints, men and women of history who were "inflamed with the love of Christ."
In his always descriptive, profound and witty style, Knox shows how these heroes of history struggled with many of the same spiritual battles that modern believers encounter daily, and overcame them with faith, courage, character and virtue. These are the shining witnesses of the truth and charity we all seek to grasp and emulate.
In his vivid style, Ronald Knox tells the stories of a variety of these Christian stalwarts including St. Cecilia, St. George, St. Dominic, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas More, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Philip Neri, St. Anselm, St. Joan of Arc, and many more.
The Hidden Stream: The Mysteries of the Christian Faith
This book is a collection of stimulating, informal discussions in which Msgr. Knox re-examines some of the fundamental precepts of the Catholic faith as well as the formidable challenges facing Catholics today.
Writing with his usual effortless grace and sparkling wit, Knox confronts such controversial topics as what is religion, man's doubts about God, the miracles of Christ, salvation outside the Church, sin and forgiveness, the Christian notion of marriage, and the resurrection of the body. The incisive religious insight and spiritual depth peppered with mischievous humor are the characteristic hallmarks of Knox's writing. He emphasizes that the Church in her teaching and sacramental life is a secret stream nourishing the world.
The Hidden Stream is a lucid refresher course in the teachings of the Church for informed Catholics, a pleasant "must" for uninformed ones, and a bulwark for all concerned with explaining the faith to others.
"I can think of no man of this century who enjoyed as did Ronald Knox such a mastery of the English language in all its varieties." -- Evelyn Waugh
"Few can match Msgr. Knox's pungent blend of humor and learning, his shrewd understanding of modern life and the vagaries of human nature." -- New York Times Book Review
Pastoral and Occasional Sermons
The highly esteemed Catholic convert, writer and apologist Ronald Knox, a master of the English language, was well regarded for his gifts both of writing and preaching. This volume combines both skills as it is a collection of his homilies on all the important themes of the spiritual and moral life, and on his favorite saints, men and women of history who were "inflamed with the love of Christ".
In his always descriptive, profound and witty style, Knox covers a very wide variety of pastoral themes for Christian living and growth in spiritual perfection. Themes such as "The Fatherhood of God", "The Sermon on the Mount", "The Gifts of God", "The Triumph of Suffering", "The Divine Sacrifice", and dozens more. In his "occasional" sermons on saints and Christian heroes, he shows how these heroes of history struggled with many of the same spiritual battles that modern believers encounter daily, and overcame them with faith, courage, character and virtue. These are the shining witnesses of the truth and charity we all seek to emulate.
This is a deluxe volume, beautifully printed and bound on Bible paper with a faux-leather hard cover.
NEW: Ronald Knox as Apologist: Wit, Laughter and the Popish Creed
Fr. Milton Walsh
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, both as an Anglican and as a Roman Catholic, Ronald Knox was a well-known part of the English literary landscape. He was a favored preacher for occasions great and small; his articles on a host of topics found a place in the newspapers and monthly literary magazines; his voice was heard often on the BBC. Most significant was the tide of books that flowed from his pen and found a wide readership in Great Britain and the USA.
In this book, Milton Walsh, an expert on Knox's writing, has analyzed and provided ample quotations from the most significant writings of Knox that fall under the genre of apologetics. Knox was a superb apologist because as a priest he was a man of deep faith, and as a writer he had a wonderful way of expressing the Christian truths in an elegant and clear language. Knox was also a man with a grand sense of humor and a keen wit, as well as empathy and kindness, and both his humor and charity are captured well in these writings. Ronald Knox stands alongside G. K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and Evelyn Waugh as a great spiritual and literary British writer whose works are once again receiving wide readership and appreciation.
Milton Walsh, a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, wrote his dissertation on Ronald Knox and is a longtime reader and researcher of the works of Knox.
Related Articles and Book Excerpts:
The Church and Human Progress | Ronald A. Knox
The Modern Distaste for Religion | Ronald A. Knox
The Decline of Dogma and the Decline of Church Membership | Ronald A. Knox
The Four Marks of the Church | Ronald A. Knox
The Mind of Knox | Preface to The Wine of Certitude: A Literary Biography of Ronald Knox | David Rooney
Monsignor Ronald Knox: Convert, Priest, Apologist | An Interview with Fr. Milton Walsh
Experience, Reason, and Authority in the Apologetics of Ronald Knox | Milton Walsh | From Ronald Knox As Apologist
Review of The Belief of Catholics | Carl E. Olson
A Lesson Learned From Monsignor Ronald A. Knox | Carl E. Olson
Ronald Knox, Apologist | Carl E. Olson
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