Answering The Call To Full Communion | An Interview with Dr. Francis Beckwith | Carl E. Olson | June 5, 2007 | IgnatiusInsight.comAnswering The Call To Full Communion | An Interview with Dr. Francis Beckwith | Carl E. Olson | June 5, 2007

http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2007/fbeckwith_intervw1_jun07.asp

In early May, Dr. Francis Beckwith (personal website), Associate Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University, publicly announced, on the Right Reason blog, that he had returned to the Catholic Church in late April after spending over thirty years in Evangelical Protestantism. The news was met with a wide range of reactions and, in some cases, with strong rhetoric. Beckwith's decision garnered substantial attention, in large part because he had been the recently elected president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a position he resigned from in order to spare the ETS and its members the burden of asking him to step down. In interviews with Christianity Today and National Catholic Register, Beckwith outlined some of the major reasons for his decision to return to full communion with the Catholic Church.

Recently, Beckwith graciously agreed to a detailed and wide-ranging interview with Carl E. Olson, editor of IgnatiusInsight.com. In addition to discussing his journey away from and then back to the Catholic Church, Beckwith sets the record straight about his educational background and how it informs his understanding of both Evangelical and Catholic theology. He also reflects on the influence that philosophy and natural law have in attracting scholars to the Catholic Church, assesses the current and ongoing state of Catholic-Evangelical dialogue, discusses his plan to write a book about his journey back to Rome, and comments on his many years of apologetic and scholarly endeavors, including his soon-to-be published book about abortion.

IgnatiusInsight.com: Since announcing your return to the Catholic Church you've given several interviews and have talked at length about your reasons for returning. Especially striking, I think, were your comments (in a June 3rd interview with National Catholic Register) about the "innovations" you experienced as a boy in the Catholic Church, including "'folk Mass' with cute nuns and hip priests playing 'Kumbaya' with guitars, tambourines and harmonicas." Isn't it ironic that the very things meant to be "hip" and "contemporary" were part of what paved the way for you to leave the Catholic Church? What does it say about the dangers of trying to be relevant without being grounded solidly in theological and historical truth?

Dr. Francis Beckwith: I think it says that form itself cannot substitute for substance, that at the end of the day, theology is either a knowledge-tradition or it isn't. If it is, then our forms of worship must conform to that knowledge and properly express it and convey it to the church and to the wider world. Of course, there are different ways that Christians and Catholic Christians worship God, and I am not saying that the folk mass is necessarily bad. What I am suggesting is that such cosmetic changes by themselves, without adequate theological training or understanding, teaches precisely the wrong lesson: it's all just song and dance signifying nothing.

What is ironic, for me, is that the Evangelical churches that I attended for most, though not all, of my adult life did in fact have contemporary music. But those churches did it better than the Catholic church of my youth, for the songs and the way they were delivered pointed toward theological truths firmly embraced by the church's pastoral leadership and congregation. So, it is not contemporary music per se that's bad--in fact, some of it is quite good if done well in the appropriate context--but rather, what is bad is the attempt to paper-over and ignore serious theological issues with feel-good poorly-executed campfire jingles performed below ugly felt banners dangling from the rafters. That is an abomination.

IgnatiusInsight.com: Can you tell us more about your younger years when you left the Catholic Church and became an Evangelical?

Dr. Beckwith: I still considered myself Catholic when I was fourteen, though I was attending both Protestant and Catholic services intermittently as I explained in my National Catholic Register interview. But as I grew into my teens and the charismatic movement at my parents' church began to wane, I sought theological insight at the Catholic high school I attended. But the religion teachers did not seem to have a serious interest in theology. They were more interested in exploring our feelings with contrived moral dilemmas, reading Jonathan Living Seagull and watching contemporary films. These activities are certainly not in-themselves bad. But they were no way to introduce young people to the study of Catholic theology and the foundations of the Christian faith. Remember, this was the mid-1970s and the American church was still trying to find itself after Vatican II. So, I don't blame my religion teachers. They were doing the best they could under a confused and directionless American leadership. (I understand that things have changed at my alma mater, that the school's religion curriculum is much more intentionally Catholic and theological.)

IgnatiusInsight.com: So, is that when you migrated to Evangelicalism?

Dr. Beckwith: Yes. I began spending time at several Evangelical bookstores in Las Vegas, where I grew up. There I obtained materials from a variety of Evangelical scholars and popular writers. These authors exposed me to the thought of the Reformation as well as to the study of Christian apologetics. This was intellectually exhilarating for me. Here I had discovered serious people who believed that their faith is reasonable and defensible. I began attending Evangelical churches, mostly non-denominational ones that had outstanding Bible teachers. It was at that time that I began to learn the solas of the Reformation. Once I became fully convinced of them, I felt comfortable saying that I was no longer a Catholic.

In 1980, a good friend of mine, Dan Green, to whom I dedicated my 1997 book, See the Gods Fall: Four Rivals to Christianity (College Press), introduced me to the works of Francis Schaeffer. Along with the works of Norm Geisler, John Warwick Montgomery (with whom I would later study), Ron Nash, R. C. Sproul, and Alvin Plantinga, Schaeffer's writings contributed to my theological and philosophical formation. In fact, in 1986, two years after Schaeffer's death, I had an incredible encounter with his widow, Edith Schaeffer, in a Christian bookstore in Manhattan. Edith was there signing copies of her books. I bought one of her books and asked her to sign it. I told her my name and also shared with her my appreciation of her husband's work and how it influenced my decision to pursue a PhD in philosophy. She looked at me with affection in her eyes, then pulled out a black marker and proceeded to draw in the inside cover of the book a picture of a mountain scene with trees and birds. At the bottom she wrote, "Dear Francis: May your life be as significant in history as another Francis I once knew. Love, Edith Schaeffer."

IgnatiusInsight.com: Do you have any formal training in Evangelical theology?

Dr. Beckwith: Yes. I earned my first master's degree (M.A. in Christian Apologetics) under the direction of two Lutheran theologians, Charles Manske and John Warwick Montgomery. It was at the old Simon Greenleaf University that has since merged with Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. In any event, at SGU I studied Evangelical theology, apologetics, comparative religion, and church history under Montgomery, Manske, and Michael Smythe. Among the several works that Smythe had us read for his church history course was Progress of Dogma by James Orr, the great Scottish Presbyterian scholar. This is when I first came in contact with the Council of Trent. Orr's interpretation, as well as the interpretations of others I would read over the years, would shape my understanding of Trent when I finally got around to reading it for the first time a few years later. However, as I pointed out in my NCR interview, when I read Trent again with fresh eyes several months ago at the suggestion of several friends, I was shocked at how much I had missed the first time, largely because I did not read it then with a teachable spirit. I had read it more like a prosecutor trying to entrap a hostile witness rather than as a dispassionate judge seeking to issue a just verdict based on all the evidence.

IgnatiusInsight.com: What was your attitude toward Catholicism during those years?

Dr. Beckwith: Even though I thought the Catholic Church had missed the boat on the Reformation and had incorporated some non-biblical ideas into its theology, I never engaged in anti-Catholic polemics. I knew too many serious Catholic believers who loved Jesus to believe that one could not be a practicing Catholic and a true Christian at the same time, which is what some Protestant Christians actually believe. My early experience in the Catholic Charismatic movement probably immunized me from aligning myself with rabid anti-Catholicism.

IgnatiusInsight.com: You earned your PhD and MA in philosophy from Fordham University, a Jesuit institution. How did those years at Fordham shape you?

Dr. Beckwith: During those years, 1984 to 1987, I lived with my Italian grandmother, Frances Guido, a devout Catholic who was delighted that I was attending Fordham. Although she knew that I was Protestant, she seemed confident that some of my professor-priests would help steer me back to the Church. I left Fordham in June 1987 and finished my doctoral dissertation in Nevada in November 1988.

My experience at Fordham was terrific. I took memorable classes from some great philosophers. I took "Thomas Aquinas" and "Metaphysics" with W. Norris Clarke, "Medieval Humanism" with Gerald McCool, and "Plato," "Nietzsche," and "Hegel" with Quentin Lauer. In McCool's class we read Augustine's Confessions and in Clarke's Aquinas class we covered important sections of the Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles.

Although it would be wrong to say that my experience at Fordham led me back to the Church, it is fair to say that because I studied under some of the finest philosophical minds American Catholicism had to offer, I acquired a deeper appreciation of the philosophical underpinnings of Catholic theology and its relationship to the histories of philosophy and Christian thought. This understanding helped form and shape my views on God's nature, the human person, and the natural moral law. But none of these philosophical views were inconsistent with Protestant theology, as the works of some Thomistic and Thomas-friendly Evangelical philosophers--such as Geisler, Paul Copan, and J. P. Moreland--clearly show.

IgnatiusInsight.com: Some noted Protestant philosophers have entered the Church recently, including you, Dr. Robert Koons (University of Texas), and J. Budziszewski (University of Texas in Austin). Is there something in the water in Texas? More seriously, is there something about philosophy in general and the natural law tradition in particular that helps point a person toward the Catholic Church?

Dr. Beckwith: Both questions are difficult to answer, but I'll pass on the one on water unless you can somehow turn that water into wine. So, let me try to answer the second question. First, both these men are good friends for whom I have the deepest respect. They are both very good philosophers and would have remained such even if they had not been received into the Catholic Church. Second, there are many outstanding Protestant Evangelical philosophers, such as Moreland, William Lane Craig, and C. Stephen Evans, who I do not anticipate becoming Catholics anytime soon. Nevertheless these philosophers have caught the attention of Catholic scholars, such as Avery Cardinal Dulles, who see such philosophers as part of a rebirth of Christian apologetics and a true gift to both Protestants and Catholics.

Having said that, I do think that there is something about philosophy and the natural law tradition that makes a transition to Catholicism easier for an Evangelical trained in philosophy and open to natural law. The latter goes hand-in-hand with natural theology, which claims that one can discover some truths about God and ultimate reality apart from special revelation. So, for example, when I read the Nicene Creed and come across the line that the Lord Jesus Christ is "not made, being of one substance with the Father," I understand that this scripturally supported truth is made coherent by a philosophical notion of substance that the Council of Nicea brought to the text of Scripture in order to illuminate its content and to make sense of the phenomena of God found there. After all, if one denies the realist view of substance assumed by Nicea, then it becomes difficult to make sense of what it means for God the Son to be of one substance with God the Father. Although Nicea is saying that Jesus and the Father are different persons, it is also saying that they share both the same nature as well as the same being or substance. These distinctions, though subtle, are philosophically profound, and for that reason, they were instrumental in helping the council to properly fix the historical trajectory of the Church and its theology. That is why it is plain to me that these carefully crafted, well-reasoned creeds could not have arisen from a church that had an understanding of theological knowledge that isolated sola scriptura from the authority of a visible ecclesiastical body. Those who think it is possible to do this are like a son spending his rich father's inheritance but calling it salary.

I say all this because the Council of Nicea spoke authoritatively for the church universal, and did so in order to publicly and visibly resolve a theological controversy. And in the end, it offered to us a creed that is a model of clarity and economy, one that resulted from weaving together an elegant tapestry of scriptural, historical, and philosophical arguments. As someone trained in philosophy, it is a marvel to behold, for it is a testimony to the undeniable fact that the church derives its doctrine from a reading of Scripture through the inherited eyes and practices of its theological predecessors and with the assistance of philosophical reflection. And once an issue like this is settled, future generations of believers, including Protestants, are provided a bequest that assists their reading of Scripture that makes it unlikely that the Church will stray from sound doctrine.

IgnatiusInsight.com: How have attitudes toward it changed over the past 20 or 30 years among both Evangelicals and Catholics? What basis does it provide for ecumenical dialogue and common endeavors in fighting the culture of death?

Dr. Beckwith: The issues on which many Evangelicals and Catholics are united, such as the sanctity of life and the institution of marriage, have helped forge alliances that would not have seemed possible three decades ago. These alliances, which have been manifested both in national leadership and local churches, have provided opportunities for Evangelicals and Catholics to understand each other better. Once we begin to understand that both groups embrace a common philosophy that informs our understanding of the good, the true, and the beautiful--one derived from the Biblical tradition--this will lead to more fruitful discussions on contested theological questions.

Things have really changed. In fact, I briefly document the degree to which things have changed in the opening paragraph of an article I published in Touchstone Magazine two years ago: "When my father attended St. John's University in the late 1950s, his apologetics professor (a Catholic priest) told his class that the two greatest evils of the age were Communism and Protestantism. In the early days of Fuller Theological Seminary, Professor Harold Lindsell (later the editor of Christianity Today) offered a course on cults that included a section on Roman Catholicism."

IgnatiusInsight.com: You've mentioned, in past interviews, that Dr. Mark Noll's book, Is The Reformation Over? (Baker, 2005), was a helpful work for you to read. Do you agree with Noll's assessment that "the central difference that continues to separate evangelicals and Catholics is not Scripture, justification by faith, the pope, Mary, the sacraments, or clerical celibacy ... but the nature of the church"? How significant is the issue of ecclesiology in current and ongoing Catholic-Evangelical dialogue?

Dr. Beckwith: I partly agree with Noll. I think he is right that logically that once the authority question is answered, the other issues that he mentions fall into place. However, practically, the process is more organic, as it was in my case. Once I saw that the Catholic view of justification could be defended biblically and historically, and that the sacraments, including a non-symbolic understanding of the Eucharist, have their roots deep in Christian history prior to the fixation of the biblical canon, the authority issue fell into place.

Something else concerning authority factored into my internal deliberations as well. But I do not think I can conjure up the words to properly express it. So, I will just rely on an elegant insight offered in First Things by a recent Catholic convert, R. R. Reno, which perfectly echoes my own sentiments: "In the end, my decision to leave the Episcopal Church did not happen because I had changed my mind about any particular point of theology or ecclesiology. Nor did it represent a sudden realization that the arguments for staying put are specious. What changed was the way in which I had come to hold my ideas and use my arguments. In order to escape the insanity of my slide into self-guidance, I put myself up for reception into the Catholic Church as one might put oneself up for adoption. A man can no more guide his spiritual life by his own ideas than a child can raise himself on the strength of his native potential."

I hope to write a book about my journey in the next year. There are a lot of people who are clamoring for my reasons and what went into my decision. This is why I have consented to several of these interviews, since they give me a chance to provide, however superficially, the reasons for my decision.

But given my status in the Evangelical world, I think a more detailed memoir of my pilgrimage is needed. It will not be a polemical work. What it will be is a narrative of my own reflections and what led my wife and me to first consider and then choose to seek full communion with the Catholic Church.

One of the points that I want to make clear in the book is that my reception into the Catholic Church has not changed my vocation as a Christian philosopher. I will continue to work on projects that offer to the Christian and secular worlds reasons for the Christian faith and the moral and social implications that follow from it. In that sense, there has always been a catholicity about my work. I do not anticipate that changing.

IgnatiusInsight.com: Have you read the various documents produced by the "Evangelicals and Catholic Together" (ECT) initiative? If so, what did you think of them?

Dr. Beckwith: I've not read all of them. I did read the first one published in 1994 as well as "The Gift of Salvation." The latter was particularly important to me, since it said things about salvation in a way that were inconsistent with what I had read by Protestant authors on Roman Catholicism. I also read some of the Protestant criticisms of the document. But some of these critics, though certainly not all, seemed bent on not allowing the Catholics to speak for themselves. It was almost as if these critics were jealously guarding the Catholicism that even the Catholics didn't believe. However, there were some thoughtful critics who brought out important points, such as on forensic justification, that the "Gift of Salvation" did not address.

IgnatiusInsight.com: Not long after you made your announcement, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. Bruce Ware, vice president of Evangelical Theological Society, spoke about your decision on Dr. Mohler's radio show. In the course of that program, Dr. Mohler made a rather surprising statement: "Scripture alone doesn't protect Evangelicalism from error. That's why we have to have constant correction." Granting that he was speaking off the cuff, as it were, is that an accurate summary of what many Evangelicals believe? If so, who might provide the "constant correction" referred to?

Dr. Beckwith: Before I answer your question I do want to commend Al Mohler and Bruce Ware for the gracious manner in which they talked about both my return to the Catholic Church as well as my contributions to the Evangelical Theological Society.

As for your question, I am not quite sure what Dr. Mohler means, but if I had to speculate I would guess he means that one can come to Scripture with bad philosophical assumptions that distort the text and meaning of the Bible and that results in flawed doctrine. If that's what he means, then Dr. Mohler is largely in agreement with John Paul II's views in his encyclical Fides et Ratio in which the late pontiff argues that biblical theology cannot get off the ground unless one has the proper philosophical framework when one approaches Scripture. But embracing such a view means that Dr. Mohler has to qualify sola scriptura to include certain interpretative requirements that cannot themselves be derived from Scripture since they are necessary conditions for the reading of Scripture. In fact, it was just such reasoning that pushed me toward Catholicism. I thought to myself that if sola scriptura can result in everything from the philosophical theology of Calvinism to the Open View of God, from Nicean Trinitarianism to social trinitarianism to Oneness Pentecostalism's rehabilitation of Sabellianism to 19th-century Unitarianism, then sola scriptura is not a sufficient bulwark for sustaining Christian orthodoxy.

IgnatiusInsight.com: Some Evangelical theologians point out that although the Catholic Church seems to present a unified or monolithic whole when it comes to doctrine and belief, there are actually all sorts of competing and even contradictory Catholic schools of philosophy and theology. How is that similar or different from the many different philosophical/theological movements within Evangelicalism, including controversial issues such as "open theism" and the "emergent church" movement?

Dr. Beckwith: Within Catholicism there are different approaches to questions that the Church has not claimed are settled. That is why Molinism and Thomism, the Catholic equivalents of Ariminianism and Calvinism, are live options within the Church. There are, of course, Catholics who hold views contrary to Church teaching and, in rare cases, are excommunicated from the Church because of that. But in those few cases the person is not considered non-Catholic or non-Christian. Such a person, if excommunicated, is not allowed to receive the Eucharist because the Church seeks repentance and reconciliation with the brother or sister who has gone astray. Because Catholics have the benefit of a well-defined and articulated Catechism, these sorts of issues can be adjudicated in accordance with a rule of law and are thus not that easy to reduce to matters of ecclesiastical fiat.

The Evangelical movements you mention--open theism and the emergent church--are instructive in this regard, since they both claim to be purely scriptural and sometimes charge their more conservative critics of incorporating "non-biblical" ideas. In that sense, these projects are thoroughly Evangelical in their insistence on being committed to sola scriptura.

For example, the open theists claim that classical theism is just Greek philosophy Christianized and all that they are doing is getting us back to the pure, non-corrupted, view of God in Scripture. The emergent church charges traditional Evangelicals with corruption as well, but in this case the corruption is Enlightenment rationalism and an overemphasis on American culture war issues such as abortion and homosexuality. But both groups are simply taking the Protestant Principle to its logical conclusion. For this reason, unless Evangelical critics of these movements are willing take a more modest view of sola scriptura and a more charitable posture toward tradition, they do not have the resources to respond to these movements in an effective way. Having said that, I should say that there are many Evangelicals, such as my Baylor colleagues Dan Williams, Ralph Wood, Steve Evans, and David Lyle Jeffrey, Biola's J. P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds, and Samford's Timothy George, who take approaches to Scripture and the Great Tradition that are bearing fruit in both their scholarship and their presentations of the Gospel.

IgnatiusInsight.com: Some books by Joseph Ratzinger, including Truth and Tolerance and Introduction to Christianity, played a role in your journey to Rome. What do you think of him as a philosopher? In what ways is he providing a blueprint for addressing contemporary philosophical, theological, and cultural challenges?

Dr. Beckwith: Although Joseph Ratzinger is a trained theologian, he is a very good philosopher. Because of his long-time pastoral role as bishop, his philosophical work in theology is directed toward advancing the cause of Christ both in and outside the Church. Take for example his emphasis on the need for the West to return to a view of faith and reason that sees theology as knowledge rather than merely subjective belief. It has the virtue of calling us back to an understanding of reason that accounts for the successes of modernism in the sciences, the arts, and government while showing that it was the ideas of Christian civilization that provided modernism with the philosophical scaffolding for these successes and not modernism's inherent skepticism on matters of human nature and transcendent ethics. The Enlightenment opened a door, but it was the Church that built the house.

IgnatiusInsight.com: You mentioned in your National Catholic Register interview that some reactions to your return to the Catholic Church surprised you. Did any of them disappoint you?

Yes. For example, one friend, a scholar I deeply respect, commented on my blog that my move to the church was likely the result of my not being sufficiently well grounded in Reformation theology. His conclusion, of course, is that my return to the Church was the result of ignorance. I understand why he has to believe that. For if I am knowledgeable of Reformation theology and I still seek full communion with the Catholic Church, this would mean that I am either wicked or that it is not unreasonable for a faithful Christian to believe that the Reformation answers on salvation, scripture, and authority are contested answers and not axiomatic deductions or undeniable inferences from the Bible. But this means that "the gospel" is not reducible to one theory of justification, one theory of ecclesiology, or one theory of scripture's sufficiency. For someone like my friend, who equates the gospel with the doctrines that arise in 16th century Christianity as a unified and interdependent set of beliefs for the first time in the church's history, the thought that one may have the gospel without the Reformation is conceptually unfathomable. But unlike my friend, I do not believe one is saved by embracing one particular cluster of contested theories on justification, authority, and scripture. One is saved by Jesus Christ and his grace alone, which is exactly what the Catholic Catechism, the Council of Trent, and the Bible all teach.

But the truth is that the supportive comments far outweighed the negative ones. My wife and I received many kind and encouraging messages from Protestant Evangelicals as well as Catholics. In fact, several notable Evangelical scholars and teachers privately told me that they understood why we sought reception into the Catholic Church, but for a variety of reasons, including serious theological ones, they could not follow us. Two Evangelical ministries with which I am associated told me that my status with them would not change. One of them will retain me on its editorial board, refusing to accept my resignation, which I procured several months ago for their protection. I was deeply touched by their generous spirit. And the other ministry will keep me as a lecturer for the seminars it offers. Because this ministry just requires its staff to affirm the Apostles' Creed, there was no problem with me remaining on its faculty.

IgnatiusInsight.com: You've been involved in apologetics--high level, sophisticated apologetics--for many years, having written articles and books about miracles, moral relativism, applied ethics, Mormon theology, and other issues. It seems to me that, generally speaking, Evangelical apologists are doing a better job addressing skepticism and relativism than are Catholics. Is that a fair assessment? What can Catholic apologists learn from Evangelical apologists such as J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and others?

Dr. Beckwith: I think that is generally a fair assessment, though there are outstanding Catholic thinkers doing good work in these areas as well, such as Peter Kreeft, Ron Tacelli, and J. Budziszewski. Having said that, I do think that Evangelical apologists are producing an important body of work that Catholics should access and master. Because philosophers like Moreland and Craig make a case for those beliefs shared by Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox--such as God's existence, resurrection of Jesus, reliability of Scripture, existence of the soul, moral realism, etc.--Catholics would clearly profit from their works.

This will hopefully lead to collaborations between Christian apologists from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds. A good sign of things to come is Geisler and Hoffman's book, Why I Am A Christian?, (Baker, 2006; 2nd ed.), which includes essays by Kreeft, Budziszewski, and me. I think with all the talent out there the opportunities for collaboration are limitless.

In terms of Christian approaches to social issues that are accessible to popular audiences, I do not think anyone can match the works of Greg Koukl and Scott Klusendorf, both of whom have penned some of the best training manuals and books for prolife ministry. Catholics would do well to read the works of these two men. (I should say that Greg has written a few essays critical of Catholic theology, but they are penned with respect and a charitable spirit. Also, a serious Catholic should feel honored to be challenged by such a thoughtful and winsome representative of Protestantism.).

IgnatiusInsight.com: This fall Cambridge University Press will be publishing your book, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice, which is described as "the most comprehensive defense of the prolife position on abortion ever published." Would you like to give it a shameless plug and tell readers what is unique about the book and what you hope to accomplish with it?

Dr. Beckwith: You gotta love publishers! Now to the shameless plug. Some of your readers may know of my 1993 book, Politically Correct Death: Answering the Argument for Abortion Rights (Baker Book House). Defending Life was originally going to be a revised edition of that book. But since so much has been written over the past decade on abortion, and because Politically Correct Death did not cover some issues and was a bit outdated, I decided to just write a whole new book. Defending Life covers not only the popular arguments for abortion, but also some of the most sophisticated cases offered by abortion-choice advocates in the academy. I deal extensively with the arguments of thinkers like David Boonin (author of A Defense of Abortion [Cambridge University Press, 2002]) and Judith Jarvis Thomson on issues of fetal personhood and the mother's obligation to her unborn child. But I also deal with the paucity of the legal case for Roe v. Wade, the cloning and stem-cell research debate, and whether prolife religious citizens have the right to shape laws in a liberal democracy, none of which I addressed in Politically Correct Death. Although Defending Life covers sophisticated arguments offered by professional philosophers and bioethicists, the publisher believes that because it is clearly written and includes sections on popular arguments, it will be marketing the book to an audience broader than academics and scholars. In fact, the publisher asked me to place the book's footnotes as endnotes in order to make the text attractive to non-scholars. I, of course, said yes.

What I hope to accomplish with the book is this: I want to offer my colleagues as well as the general public an intelligent, clearly articulated, and non-polemical defense of the prolife position on abortion that does not rely on theological or religious arguments. I also want to help college students and my friends in the prolife movement so that they are better equipped to deal with the best arguments offered by our fellow citizens who do not share our point of view.



Related IgnatiusInsight.com Links/Articles:

Has The Reformation Ended? | An Interview with Dr. Mark Noll
Evangelicals and Catholics in Conversation | An Interview with Dr. Brad Harper
From Protestantism to Catholicism | Six Journeys to Rome
Thomas Howard and the Kindly Light | IgnatiusInsight.com
Objections, Obstacles, Acceptance: An Interview with J. Budziszewski | IgnatiusInsight.com
Thomas Howard on the Meaning of Tradition | IgnatiusInsight.com
Why Catholicism Makes Protestantism Tick | Mark Brumley
Surprised by Conversion: The Patterns of Faith | Peter E. Martin
Reformation 101: Who's Who in the Protestant Reformation | Geoffrey Saint-Clair
The Tale of Trent: A Council and and Its Legacy | Martha Rasmussen
The History and Purpose of Apologetics | An Interview with Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.
Foreword to A History of Apologetics | Dr. Timothy George
"Be a Catholic Apologist Without Apology" | Carl E. Olson
"Love Alone is Believable: Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Apologetics" | by Fr. John R. Cihak
"Kreeft On Apologetics" | An interview with Peter Kreeft



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