Two Ways to Become a Catholic Apologist for Your Students

Two Ways to Become a Catholic Apologist for Your Students

As religious educators, you serve as the “go-to” for students when they have questions or concerns about their faith and how it fits into the bigger picture of history, science, and culture. In order to help students navigate through times of uncertainty in their faith journey and defend their beliefs in a largely secular society, catechists must serve in another role: that of the apologist. If we want our students to grow into lifelong defenders of faith, we must equip them with the tools they need to do so, and those tools are found within the field of apologetics. In this article, you’ll learn about why apologists are needed now more than ever, how the study of apologetics is beneficial personally and professionally to educators as well as students, and how to become an apologist today. Plus, you’ll get access to a free download of our Prayer for Knowledge  Prayer Card—a perfect resource to use in your classroom for promoting discussion about challenging topics.

The Need for Catholic Apologetics

Apologetics is an ancient tool that is supremely useful for addressing the challenges of our modern society. With a growing rise in religious indifference and more and more youth walking away from the church entirely, it is critical that we take a different approach to address the problem. Apologetics gives educators the tools they need (the history, the language, the evidence) to help students find answers to difficult questions and run towards science, history, and reason in order to fortify rather than undermine their faith.  

There is so much on the line here. That is why it is so crucial that anyone and everyone involved in the faith formation of children and young adults become fluent in the study of apologetics, including…

Parents
Parents are children’s first educators. Parents have some of the same questions as their kids. For these reasons and many others, parents need to increase their knowledge to be fluent in apologetic teachings to help support their kids faith formation.  

Teachers & Catechists
Who encourages and helps parents become apologists? Who supports parents in defending the faith? EDUCATORS. It is critical that youth educators of all kinds learn the principles of apologetics.
 
Parishes & Ministries
Although it might seem like just the place of a catechist to learn the language and tools of Catholic apologetics, it is also critical that parishes and ministries play a role in the apologetic development of today’s Christian youth.

To learn more about the history of apologetics and why it is needed today, read our article, “Why Catholic Apologetics Religion Educators are Needed” and download a free copy of A Brief History of Catholic Apologetics Timeline.

Download a free copy of A Brief History of Catholic Apologetics Timeline.
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Benefits of Catholic Apologetics in Faith Formation

With so many other sound catechetical programs out there, many religious educators wonder if taking the time to integrate apologetics into their current curriculum is really worth it. The short answer is… yes! Learning about and using the study of apologetics in your classroom is hugely beneficial to both teachers and students.

Benefits for Educators
Learning about and using apologetics in the classroom benefits religious educators not only in their role as teachers but also in their personal faith formation as well. If you are a religious educator, teaching about apologetics can…
  • Allow you to help children/youth when tough questions come up or their faith wavers
  • Give you the confidence to have open dialogue with others about your faith
  • Help you reason and defend the Christian faith
  • Allow you to inculturate* the Gospel
  • Increase your love and respect for others, specifically those not of your faith
Benefits for Students
Having a teacher who is an apologist is hugely beneficial to students because…
  • Students know when tough questions come up or their faith wavers, it does not mean they should give up their beliefs. They know they can study, use reason, find evidence, and talk to trusted resources in order to find answers.
  • It instills in students the confidence to dialogue with others (both believers and non-believers) about their faith. These conversations fortify rather than undermine their faith.
  • Students get to see educators using reason to defend the Christian faith.
  • It makes the secular world less of a threat of oppositional force. Instead of feeling hesitant to discuss their faith with non-believers, students have the knowledge to go out into the secular world confident in their beliefs.

Two Ways to Become a Catholic Apologist Today

In order to use the tools of apologetics to drastically change the way your students think about analyzing and defending their faith in our modern world, you must first do two things: shift your mindset about the field of apologetics and gain the knowledge you need to educate yourself and others.

#1 Shifting Your Mindset

We hear over and over again from people who, when we bring up the study of apologetics, seem to feel, well. . . pretty nervous! And that hesitancy has some basis in reality. As we discussed in the previous article, the history of apologetics has been fraught with controversy, and it still affects the way people think about the field to this current day. Many people still shy away from the idea of being an apologist. So many fears and questions bubble up, like…

  • Will being an apologist mean I will garner all sorts of attention?
  • What if someone asks me a question and I do not know the answer?
  • What if I get something wrong, I make a mistake, or I explain myself poorly?
  • I have heard that apologists like to argue, what if people think I enjoy the debate over the content?

In order to see the incredible things apologetics can bring to your religious education program, we must shift our focus away from how apologetics has failed in the past and towards how it can be positively utilized in the future.

Let’s face it, catechists: it is hard to let go of preconceived notions. But it is time to think about how a reinvigorated, modernized version of apologetics can help us solve twenty-first century problems. The truth is, the modern-day version of this field of study is vastly different than the tactics of the past. Today, being an apologist is empowering because it allows you to delve headlong into difficult questions and face uncertainty with confidence. It does not mean you will get all sorts of attention and have to constantly defend yourself. It means you can intelligently discuss your own beliefs when asked. You may say things incorrectly now and again, and that is okay. Being an apologist does not mean you can not make errors or that your reason needs to be airtight. It does not mean arguing and picking fights just to be disagreeable. It simply means that you are able to analyze, discuss, and defend your faith with sound reasoning, clear logic, and evidence based in history, science, and scripture.

It is critical that we help others shift their mindsets to change how we see apologetics today , so that all can take advantage of the benefits of this ancient and eye-opening field.

Two ways to become a Catholic apologist for your students

#2 Empowering Yourself through Knowledge

"The problem today is that people do not know why they believe what they believe [yet] there is a solution. All they have to do is study it.” -Father Spitzer, former President of Gonzaga University and founder of the Credible Catholic Curriculum.

Father Spitzer points to a great need in our community of faith—a need for an education which helps analyze, discuss, and defend our faith.

Imagine yourself as a young kid, raised in the church but nervous, anxious, and awkward (as are most adolescents). You know what you have been told to believe, but then someone asks you a question—a tough question. Your palms sweat, you trip over your words, maybe you draw a blank, you really do not know what to say, and now you might be doubting if there really is an answer to the question that does not completely topple your belief system.

I think we have all been there at some point in our lives, whether as kids or as adults. It is hard enough to stand up for your own beliefs amongst peers let alone when you have never been given the tools to do so confidently and cogently.

We do not want our students to feel that way, and equipped with the knowledge of apologetics, they will be able to tackle questions with ease. But in order to teach your students the tenants of apologetics, you must first learn them yourself. Fortunately, there are several really wonderful programs that will help you feel confident in your own beliefs and provide you the knowledge you need to best support your students in their own faith formation.

Credible Catholic now offers three ways to access training, apologetical teaching techniques and resources.

1.) Register for Credible Catholic's Master Teacher Program

Starting in February 2021, you can register for Credible Catholic’s ground-breaking new Master Teacher Program! Educators in Catholic schools and religious education programs can become certified in contemporary, science-based apologetics with curriculum designed by speaker, author, teacher, and apologetics expert, Father Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D. For only $149, you will be able to learn lessons and access resources on four eye-opening apologetical topics:

  • 1 - Evidence of a Transphysical Soul
  • 2 - Evidence for God from Contemporary Science
  • 3 - Proof of God and Relevant Questions
  • 4 - Evidence for Jesus and His Divinity
  • With more to follow!
 

Study anywhere you have a computer and complete the lessons at your own pace. Once you finish the course, you will earn a Certificate in Contemporary Apologetics through the Magis Center in partnership with Catholic Distance University that you can use at the university or take back to your diocese for continuing education credits.

Click to learn more!

2.) Take one of Credible Catholic’s Online Courses

For those who do not yet have enough time for the certification, get your feet wet with a sample course for only $29.00 a course! 

Credible Catholic offers individual classes on a wide range of topics—a great option for subject-specific teachers that only need instruction on a certain content, like science, history, philosophy, etc.

Pick and choose from the following modules, or take all of the following:

      • 1 - Evidence of a Transphysical Soul
      • 2 - Evidence for God from Contemporary Science
      • 3 - Proof of God and Relevant Questions
      • 4 - Evidence for Jesus and His Divinity
      • With more to follow!
 

Download the Prayer for Knowledge  Prayer Card  and use it as you work to acquire knowledge, evidence, and resources to intelligently and intellectually defend your faith.

Prayer for Knowledge Prayer Card
Free Download
 

3.) Snag a Credible Catholic Membership 

Love all the resources that Credible Catholic offers and want even more? Starting in February 2021, you can purchase a Credible membership for only $6.99/month.  

What perks are included with membership? You’ll get access to a bundle of incredible benefits and resources, including…
  • Most Asked Questions (MAQ) Video Series
    • With a simple click you’ll have a library of videos designed to help guide your instruction and answer any lingering questions on contemporary apologetics your students might have
  • Best Practice Videos
    • See other apologists demonstrating how to teach Credible Catholic’s course content in the classroom, explaining their teaching methodology, and providing direct instruction on how to incorporate course content into your lesson plans
  • Teacher Forum
    • Join discussion groups on contemporary apologetical topics
    • Discussion groups are moderated by experts in fields regarding apologetics, so you’re learning even beyond the course

Curious about a membership and want to learn a little bit more? We’re offering a free sneak peek of some of our favorite Most Asked Questions videos, including discussions on Science, Suffering, and much more.

We’re offering a free sneak peek of some of our favorite Most Asked Questions videos, including discussions on Science, Suffering, and much more.Access Now

In Summary

We have to face the facts, catechists: the stakes are just too high for us to ignore any tools at our disposal for fortifying the faith of our youth and keeping them from leaving the Church. It is time to shift the way we think about apologetics towards the incredible benefits this field can afford both religious educators and their students. Once you alter your mindset and start thinking positively about this incredible field, you can begin seeking opportunities to educate yourself on how to incorporate apologetical teachings into your current catechetical program.

 
 
 
 
 
 

* The process by which the Gospel is proclaimed so that it can be heard and understood by people within a particular culture, take root within that culture, and then bring forth new and exciting ways of living and expressing the Gospel appropriate to that culture.