Shane Schaetzel is a Catholic convert from Evangelical Protestantism through Anglicanism. Schaetzel writes the thoughtful CatholicintheOzarks.com blog as part of his lay ministry to spread the Good News through the written word. Catholicism for Protestants (2013. Lulu) draws upon his faith history, his love of language and history along with his religious education to answer some challenging spiritual queries that he has heard living in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Schaetzel also sees Catholicism for Protestants to be a good primer for all Catholics on the fundamentals of the faith.
Schaetzel starts the book with his compelling personal faith history which underlies the material. But in an effort to show that there are many different kinds of Catholics, like there are many different kinds of Protestants, Schaetzel wrote: “There are: Roman Catholics, Byzantine Catholics, Maronite Catholics, Franciscans, Benedictines, Carmelites, and even Anglican Use Catholics”. This conflates Churches (Roman, Maronite and “Byzantine” branch), with religious orders (Franciscan, Benedictines). Later, Schaeztel teaches that there are 23 rites in the Catholic Church. It may be minor distinction but that is incorrect. There are 23 Churches which comprise Catholicism. A Church may have several different rites. For example, the Roman Church currently has the Roman rite, the Ambrosian (around Milan, Italy) and the Mozarabic (at several parishes in Toledo Spain). Some might argue that Anglican Use is a rite, but for now it is part of a Personal Ordinariate established by Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI to reach out to High Church Anglican and reincorporate the richness of traditional English Patrimony in the Roman Church. For those unfamiliar with these concepts, proclaiming yourself as a Roman Catholic layman of the Anglican Use could be kind of confusing as opposed to boldly proclaiming the author’s point of view.
Most of Catholicism for Protestants is structured in a question and answer format which is eminently readable. This cradle Catholic was able to finish the short 100 page book in one sitting. Schaetzel does try to answer many common questions Evangelical Protestants have about the Catholic faith. This sort of apologetic can be challenging as Evangelicals come from a non-sacramental, non-liturgical and non-ritualistic practice of faith so Catholicism’s practices and even its vocabulary can be confusing. While Schaetzel’s scholarship is evident in the presentation and the supplemental footnotes (pointing to scripture, Church Fathers, the Catechism and some fine contemporary Catholic scripture scholars), his prose does not get bogged down by too much high church jargon.
Shane Schaetzel has done a good job at authoring an engaging and enlightening apologetic aimed at answering Protestant’s common questions about the Catholic faith. Moreover, the author is practicing his understanding of the faith by his publishing and dissemination method by employing distributism, which favor small mom and pop religious bookstores.
Being in an inter-faith marriage, I often am prompted to explain parts of my faith to my curious in-laws. They seem to admire my pursuit of being a good Catholic but sometimes wonder why I am spiritually compelled to do what I do. Shane Schaetzel’s Catholicism for Protestants will not only offer a clear Catechism but will also give the chapter and verse citations which sola scriptura Christians tend to seek.