Monday, July 16, 2007

6 tips on how not to to witness to Catholic Christians
As I travel about the Protestant Christian blogosphere certain phrases and ideas keep popping up from our separated bretheren that just are not helpful in furthering the discussion! Sure, it's easy to persuade and compel an almost-ex-Catholic-wanna-be who has one foot outside of the church and the other on a banana peel to the Catholic faith! But where's the fun in that!

So for all of you Christian apologists who wish to enter into discussion and debate with catechized Catholics, here are some tips that will help keep both sides in the discussion!

1. Don't use terms like "whore of Babylon" or "come out of her." "Papist is a word you should probably retire too. First of all, it tips your hand. When you use those buzz words, we catechized Catholics then know EXACTLY where you are coming from and that gives us the advantage.

2. Don't link to sites like this or this. Any catechized Catholic who has ever been challenged in his/her faith has seen these and they don't come across as compelling or persuasive. They come off as being ridiculous and melodramatic.

3. Don't dump all of your problems with Catholicism out there at one time. Yea, we know you have problems with Mary, and the priesthood, and the Eucharist, and purgatory and the saints. However, dumping it all out there at once is overwhelming for the novice and time consuming for the experienced. A much better approach is to take one objection at a time and deal with it.

4. Don't say something like, "If you would only read the bible for yourself, your eyes would be opened!!" First of all, that assumes that we have not read the bible for ourselves. For many Catholics, it is reading the scriptures that has kept us in the Catholic Church. Many of the great converts to Catholicism, have been scripture scholars. Secondly, it's not a reading thing; it's a paradigm shift. Catholics can read John chapter 6 and see the formation of the Eucharist, and many Protestants don't see that at all, even if we're reading the same translation and the same words. It's the reader's paradigm that guides the interpretation, not the reader's reading comprehension skills.

5. Don't expect the first answer to your objections to be totally satisfactory. For examples there are libraries full of books on Mary, The Blessed Mother. It's very difficult to boil all of that down into one page or paragraph that will be totally understandable and acceptable. Which leads me to my last point...

6. Expect to dialogue for a while. Nothing is more frustrating than spending time answering objections to Catholicism, posting them or sending them in, and then getting a reply like, "This isn't up for debate," or "I'm done with you!" The Reformation is over 500 years old. You're not going to solve it in five hours of 500 words or less.

and as a bonus tip! Lots of times during debates I get comments like, "Well, it's not very Christian for both of you to go back and forth like that. If that's Christianity, then count me out!"

My response to that is, "we'll miss you!!"

Because discussion and debate are very much a part of Christian history and tradition. Be sure to read the introduction of Dave Armstrong's new e-book- Bible Conversations!

The word dialogue appears in the Bible. The Greek dialegomai occurs 13 times in the New Testament, and refers to reason, rational argument, discussion, discourse, debate, dispute and so forth. Particularly, we often see it applied to the Apostle Paul as he reasoned and argued with Jews in the synagogues (Acts 17:2,17, 18:4,19, 19:8) and Greeks and other Gentiles in the marketplaces and academies of the time, where the exchange of ideas took place (Acts 17:17, 18:4, 19:9-10).
St. Paul’s evangelistic preaching wasn’t simply thrilling oratory and edifying, “homiletic” exposition; it involved in-depth reasoning; even – at times, such as on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-34) --, literally philosophical discourse.
Our Lord Jesus, too, often engaged in vigorous, rational, scriptural argument, especially with the Pharisees, much in the spirit of the ancient rabbis. One example of this among many occurs in Mark 12:18-27, where He is said to be “disputing” (Greek, suzeteo) with the Sadducees (cf. Acts 9:29, where the same word is used).
Rational argument, thinking, or open-minded discourse and dialogue is altogether permissible; indeed, required of all Christians who wish to have a robust, confident, reasonable faith amidst the competing ideas and faiths of the world and academia. Our Lord instructs us to love God with our minds as well as with all our hearts, souls, and strength (Luke 10:27).
The word apologetics; that is, the defense of Christianity (or Catholicism in particular, in the present instance) is derived etymologically from the Greek apologia, which term was used by Plato as a title of one of his many classic dialogues, in description of the philosopher Socrates’ lengthy and elaborate defense or justification of himself against trumped-up, politically-motivated charges in Athens, in 399 B.C.
Apologia is also a biblical word, and appears much in the same sense as with Socrates, with regard to St. Paul’s defense of himself during his lengthy trial (Acts 22:1, 25:16). It is also used with reference to Paul’s defense and confirmation of the gospel (Philippians 1:7,16 -- rendered defense in the RSV in all four instances).
The use of apologia in the imperative verse 1 Peter 3:15, with regard to the explanation of the hope of the gospel which resides in the heart of every Christian believer, makes apologetics a duty of every Christian, to some extent. But of course, people have different God-granted gifts and abilities, and the Christian or Catholic apologist is specifically called to that task as a matter of vocation and life’s work.

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