Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st Century Opponents is a new book by Radio host Al Kresta. Now I am already thoroughly a Kresta-fanboy in that I never miss his show via podcast (I review his podcast here).
This book takes on a variety of topics that might not be a the forefront of what you think are the biggest opponents to the Catholic faith. It is also interesting what he has not listed in this book. In the introduction he noted a “book can only be so big” and so deliberately not bring up the biggest part of the culture wars regarding abortion and same-sex marriage. As he noted there are many fine books on these topics. Al Kresta addresses four main parts with chapters dedicated to what he describes as opponents.
While this book includes mentions of many famous personalities, this book concentrates primarily on beliefs and philosophies of the people mentioned. The first chapter deals with Oprah and how she mainstreamed so many New Age and other self-styled spiritualities. There is a lot of interesting information here looking at Oprah’s early turning away from Christianity partly over the problem of evil to her openness to entertaining seriously so many individuals who have repackaged the “Law of attraction” and other New Age spiritualists. Part One addresses both competing spiritualities and and abuse of scripture to support them. It is interesting that the area is has concentrated on in this regard is the New Age movement, reincarnation, and Islam. An interesting mix and I think an accurate selection of some of the spiritual competitor to Christianity.
Part Two addresses science and religion a topic that often gets addressed on his radio show. Scientism as a philosophy has infected so much of modern thinking and its usual fruits of materialism and relativism. Expecting that anything true must be proven by the scientific method while maintaining a philosophy not subjected to this method. Scientism has become almost a spirituality for atheists and agnostic along of course with some theists. That he titled this section “Abusers of Science and Reason” is quite apt.In Part Three we see abuse in the form of revisionism. Mostly a revisionism towards scripture and to an understanding of scripture and tradition passed down. This abuse comes from a throng of opponents such as religions like Mormonism and others who invent a great apostasy to explain why their beliefs can’t be found in the history of Christendom. The same is true of the Jesus Seminar that also takes its preconceptions as a lens to narrow down scripture to only what they already accepted. We also see a sort of revisionism of the human person as regards to Transhumanism. We will make ourselves into our own image of what we should be.
In the last part of the book we see a secularized government that strives to take control of all aspects of our lives to consumerism where a barrage of messages are crafted by business for a constant cycle of desire and hopeful-fulfillment. Often both of these are more than just two sides of the same coin, but maybe both on the same side.
So what this book delivers is an honest perspective of who are opponents are in the realm of ideas. To be able to pray for our enemies we need a good understanding of who are enemies are and specifically the philosophies that drive them. What Al Kresta has been able to do here is to both document and provide analysis regarding these dangers to our faith. This book contains close to a hundred pages of notes at the end of the book providing references to pretty much every thing mentioned and asserted. The balanced view this book applies is not the type that drives you to anger concerning these false world-views, but a helpful assessment of what is out there.