Karlo Broussard and I met for the first time in person last year while he was visiting the Great White North on a short speaking tour. We had been in touch through social media for some time previously, but during his visit to Western Canada we were able to spend a couple days together.
Over the course of those two days what I learned about Karlo (who would shortly afterwards join Catholic Answers as their newest staff apologist) was that, not only did he have a sweet Cajun accent, but that he was also enviously smart, passionate about his work, committed to learning, and most importantly, that he possessed the true heart of an evangelist. Ever since he has continued to show the authenticity of these characteristics time and time again.
Thus I was not surprised to see these things shine through in Karlo’s new booklet on Miracles, a part of the 20 Answers booklet series from Catholic Answers Press. Miracles is intellectually deep but accessible, erudite but not boring, and excitingly profitable for the New Evangelist.
I’ve learned an important lesson from editor Todd Aglialoro and the hard-working personnel behind Catholic Answers Press: don’t underestimate the far-reaching power of a booklet.
From Chris Stefanick’s Absolute Relativism, to the recent booklet on divorce and remarriage, to the ever-growing 20 Answers series and others, a well-assembled booklet can work as a exemplary evangelization tool (“Here Joe, read this short booklet on abortion and let me know what you think”) and as a good study resource for every pew-sitting Christian (I’ve read all my 20 Answers booklets with a pencil in hand).
Karlo’s booklet is no exception as he successfully distills the main issues regarding the rationality of miracles, the historicity of miracle claims, and the Church’s stances on related issues. If you want the bare bones on miracles, philosophically and historically, get this booklet.
If you’ve ever listened to Karlo on the Catholic Answers Live radio show or read his blog posts, you’ll know that Karlo has been greatly influenced by the indispensable work of St. Thomas Aquinas; and in Miracles he brings Aquinas’ first-rate philosophy and theology to the reader in an easy to understand manner. We need more Thomists like Karlo who are capable of bringing St. Thomas’ work to the popular reader in an accessible manner.
Karlo comes at the topic of miracles from three different perspective: the philosophical, the theological, and the historical.
No one should expect to read philosophy (or, really, to think seriously about any topic) without putting in a bit of effort and strain. We are not angels; our knowledge is not infused. We must work if we desire to grow adequately in knowledge. Doing philosophy is more akin to eating steak, and less akin to eating pudding. But steak can be tenderized without losing any of its basic benefits. The same goes for philosophy; and in the case of this booklet, Karlo has “tenderized” some of the main philosophical arguments for and against miracles.
Philosophical arguments against miracles often include some kind of an appeal to the rarity of miraculous events, or to their apparent contradiction with what science has shown us about the real world. Karlo tackles these objections with ease and exposes their errors, and he does so in very few words; and that’s a sign that he knows what he’s talking about.
Theologically there are some tough questions about miracles that may arise, even among committed Christians; even some that I myself have thought about and wrestled with. Karlo has cleared these questions up for me. Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t allow more miracles to occur? Or why our prayers don’t always result in the miracles we request? These questions and more are addressed, and in a way that both satisfies and challenges the reader to pursue further reading and study.
This is the sign of a good book or booklet: when it inspires continuous learning—good books please, but do not satisfy. They make you want more. Such books stimulate wonder—and wonder, as Aristotle taught, is the beginning of philosophy. Karlo, like St. Thomas, not only wonders at the world but is able to push his readers to grow in wonder themselves. Miracles is one more little work that reminds us of Chesterton’s observation: “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”
20 Answers:Miracles also provides a detailed synopsis of the evidence for Jesus’s miracles, the foremost of which is the resurrection. For me personally, the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection has been one of the most ground-breaking discoveries I’ve made in my examination of Christian history. The rigour and academic sharpness that today’s New Testament experts have argued for the resurrection is not to be ignored or downplayed. Karlo’s booklet is a great introduction to just how rigorously the resurrection of the Son of God can be argued for.
David Hume and others have claimed that miracles are rare and therefore unbelievable as “the best explanation” for what really happened. Perhaps they are rare, at least in the sense that they are not regularities in the natural world. But the fact that miracles are not regularities does not mean that a great many miracles haven’t occurred. Indeed miracles abound in the real world. New Testament scholar Craig Keener’s recent two-volume tome on miracles has demonstrated this in impressive fashion. Referring to Mark 16:17, Karlo writes:
“According to Jesus, we don’t have to go chasing after miracles because the miracles will chase after us.” (p. 68)
Karlo reminds us of this and, coming from a distinctly Catholic perspective, Karlo illustrates some of the most popular “Catholic” miracles that have taken place in recent times. But he doesn’t just tell the stories well—he also demonstrates just how seriously the Church takes miracles claims and the great scientific lengths that Rome takes to validate a given miracle claim.
There are even some miracle stories referenced by Karlo that I was not familiar with. One such example is that of an ailing Sicilian woman with a particular congenital condition—this story blew my mind (I’m not going to tell you who she was or what happened; you’ll have to buy the booklet!). But these stories—and the Church has a rich collection of them—are powerful evangelization tools. Fatima, Lourdes, Lanciano, and all the others: we need to know these stories by heart! And we need to tell them. By doing so I am certain that we will win hearts for Christ and, in the process, will find our own hearts inflamed with love for God. Karlo Broussard’s 20 Answers: Miracles is as good for the heart as it is for the head.
Visit Karlo’s blog here.