Randal Rauser: A Review of Trent Horn’s “Why We’re Catholic”

Trent Horn, Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love (Catholic Answers, 2017).

In his 2017 book Why We’re Catholic, Catholic apologist Trent Horn aims to provide a clear, concise, and winsome introduction to the Catholic faith. The book consists of twenty-five short and punchy chapters divided into five sections: truth and God, Jesus and the Bible, The Church and the Sacraments, Saints and Sinners, and Morality and Destiny.

I count Trent a friend and a joint laborer in the cause of Christian apologetics. And as I’ve said before, he is in the very top tier of young Christian apologists. At the same time, I am not a Catholic, so you can expect this review to identify some number of disagreements.

Let’s begin with the points of agreement. As I just said, Horn is a top tier apologist and that means he’s a top tier communicator, one who can dispense with errant arguments and misguided reasoning with a quick and memorable rejoinder. Consider, for example, the tired attempt to marginalize Christian belief with the statement “You’re only a Christian because you were born in a Christian country” (or whatever). Horn retorts,

“If I had been born in India, wouldn’t I be writing a book called Why We’re Hindu instead of Why We’re Catholic? Maybe, but if I had been born in ancient China I might have written a book called Why We Believe the Earth Is Flat.” (7)

In other words, if social location marginalizes our beliefs about God, it also marginalizes our beliefs about nature … and everything else. In this way, Horn handily takes down the objector with a reductio ad absurdum.

Horn argues ably for the existence of a creator with brief statements of the kalam cosmological and design arguments for God’s existence. That leads to another common objection: if God created the universe, then what created God? Horn replies that that question is akin to asking, “If the locomotive is pulling the train, then what is pulling the locomotive?” (27) With that simple analogy, he effectively communicates the concept of a necessary concept to the layperson without any need to introduce modal distinctions between contingency, possibility, and necessity. Once again, that’s evidence of an excellent communicator.

Overall, I appreciated Horn’s treatment of the problem of evil which culminates in an account of the heroic witness of Maximilian Kolbe (36-7). However, when Horn condemns genocide and slavery as social evils (35) he invites the skeptic’s question: if genocide and slavery are evil then why did God approve of them in ancient Israel (e.g. Deuteronomy 20:10-20)?

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Randal Rauser