Apologetics and Pride

I have a question/concern about apologetics and pride. I have not intentionally engaged many people in dialog about Catholicism, etc. for a couple of reasons: 1) I am somewhat fearful that I am not prepared enough for such discussions, and 2) because I fear I would be debating topics more for pride than for faith. That is, I enjoy friendly debates, and I can be quite passionate, but of course, I also like the satisfaction that is gained when making people really think about something they hadn’t previously thought about.
After an unplanned dialog with a non-Catholic friend recently, I found that I was better prepared than I thought on some points, though there is always room for improvement. Also, I do love and respect my friends and family and always try to go out of my way to help others; I do truly care about other people and want them to find the Truth. That being said, I still had that satisfaction of making my friend falter on his stance with the Church. I don’t have the feeling that I am better than the other person, I just had this sense of satisfaction. I don’t know how else to describe it. Is this wrong? Should I refrain from such actions and dialog? In the end, neither one of us was upset, and I think it opened many doors, but I want to be cautious that I am not doing these things for the wrong reasons.

I don’t think so, as long as the satisfaction was the result of the discussion rather than the purpose of the discussion.

Should I refrain from such actions and dialog?

I don’t think so, keeping in mind the real objective, truth, rather than the feeling.

In the end, neither one of us was upset, and I think it opened many doors, but I want to be cautious that I am not doing these things for the wrong reasons.

That you are aware of this potential will go a long way toward keeping the satisfaction a result rather than the purpose of the discussion.

On it’s face, Apologetics is simply doing as the Bible commands and offering a reason for the joy in your heart. One need not be particularly scholarly or trained the the art of debate and rhetoric.
When Apologetics turns into a battle where you declare a winning side and a losing side, then I think you have lost sight of the focus of apologetics. If the submission of your “opponent” becomes the goal, with points awarded for how many zingers you can come up with then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. If it is to spread the Gospel and the Truth of God’s one True Catholic Church, then even the little old lady at Mass should be an apologist.

Apology, in this case, simply means “To give a reason for”

I agree with David and with Hoosier Daddy. Just continue to be aware of it, and don’t get complacent in thinking it won’t become a problem or a struggle in the future. You’ll do fine. :thumbsup:

It sounds like that feeling is just a sort of “side-effect,” and not your goal in these discussions. The real goal, of course, is not to “win” the debate, but to correct false assumptions and “plant seeds” that may help the person grow closer to Christ. It sounds like maybe that sense of satisfaction you felt was that you think your friend may now begin to see the Church in a more positive light. And that is a good thing! :cool:

In the meantime, keep praying for your friend!

Thank you all! I appreciate the feedback!

Proceed with caution. You wrote that you “had that satisfaction of making my friend falter on his stance with the Church.” You didn’t say exactly what you were discussing, and I don’t know how it went, but it sounds like you scored a point on your friend.

Whenever we explain our faith or preach or evangelize, we should do it always for the good of the person (or persons) we are talking to. It is all about them, building their faith, helping them to better love their neighbor, bringing them closer to God.

When we are motivated by selfish concerns, like explaining why we are right, showing our knowledge, or demonstrating our loyalty to God or the Church, we run the risk of failing the person in front of us. I would even go as far as to say if our motives are good but not about the other person, for example, if it’s all about defending or promoting the Catholic Church, we are missing the point.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

So your challenge as an apologist is to do the best you can for the other person. The greatest satisfaction you can obtain from apologetics may be to see that the other person lives better according to the Greatest Commandment (see Matthew 22:36-40).

And don’t forget the importance of evangelizing by your good example in ordinary ways.

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:35)

Great post! Sometimes it is easier in person to communicate love than in writing. I feel its hard to.communicate love when you feel someone is doing something wrong by God, & I tend to be a LOT more understanding with non-catholics & non- christians.

How can we let our God be rejected & misunderstood by His own? Where does He lay His head, if not here? Or will He be taken from the children & given to a people who will bear fruit?

Its like; Jesus is born in the manger for us, but will we take care of Him?

Thank you.

Proceed with caution. You wrote that you “had that satisfaction of making my friend falter on his stance with the Church.” You didn’t say exactly what you were discussing, and I don’t know how it went, but it sounds like you scored a point on your friend.

Whenever we explain our faith or preach or evangelize, we should do it always for the good of the person (or persons) we are talking to. It is all about them, building their faith, helping them to better love their neighbor, bringing them closer to God.

When we are motivated by selfish concerns, like explaining why we are right, showing our knowledge, or demonstrating our loyalty to God or the Church, we run the risk of failing the person in front of us. I would even go as far as to say if our motives are good but not about the other person, for example, if it’s all about defending or promoting the Catholic Church, we are missing the point.

Beryllos: What you stated is my concern. Again, this was unplanned, and I think my friend instigated it, though I of course encouraged the conversation. We began talking about Catholicism, because I explained the Catholic view of something–it might have been science and faith, I cannot remember exactly. Anyway, he then stated, I am uncomfortable with the Catholic Church because of X, Y, Z; namely the typical Protestant issues with Mary, the saints, the pope, and the Real Presence. So we covered a wide range of topics. He conceded some on Mary and the saints, though still did not accept Catholic practices overall. The issue that I referred to as having satisfaction was regarding the Real Presence. This person is a member of a denomination that interprets the Bible word for word as it is written, yet they still reject the Real Presence. I asked how this could be and mentioned numerous verses from the Gospels and Epistles. This left him at a loss. If it were a debate, not that I’ve ever been in an actual debate, I guess it would be a point, I don’t know. Overall, I am not sure that I even intended to have a debate once we started; I was more just trying to be informative and explain/defend what we, as Catholics, believe.
This was a person that I had never spoken about religion to besides a couple of sentences. This was a colleague of mine that I have worked for and with for several years and this had not really come up like it did that day. Yet, I could sense that there was some curiosity, and so the conversation ensued. Interestingly, I had something similar happen again yesterday with another colleague. I again did not instigate the conversation. This time, there was nothing even similar to a debate. The person is a non-Catholic Christian, but is thinking about leaving her particular church. I do not know if she is interested in Catholicism, but she holds more beliefs in common with the Catholic Church I think, than she does with her own conservative church or definitely any more liberal churches. We spoke for three hours about Catholicism and various dialogues that the Catholic Church has been having with some Protestant denominations. There were no zingers or points, just nice, informative dialogue.
After reflecting last night on things, I *think *I know why I am struggling with this. I care about my friends, family, and everyone else. I am pretty sure that I want everyone to find the Truth and get to Heaven, though, in my everyday life, I just don’t think about it that much. I pray and think about God throughout the day, I try to do nice things for people, I am sure that I do it out of love, but usually I just don’t think about my motivation that much. As in, “Am I holding this door open for a stranger (or friend) because I love them?”, “Am I offering help or advice to this person because I want to spread the love of Christ?”, and likewise, “Am I discussing Catholicism with this friend because I want them to have the fullness of Truth?” I mean, I do want these things, but that is not what is going through my mind when I do them. So, then, the concern is, what is my reason? Is it selfish? Is it prideful? Is it just out of habit? I doubt it is the two former, but if it is the latter, that still doesn’t seem very Christ-like. I appreciate the quote from 1 Corinthians. My struggle is deciding whether I have been doing this out of love, or… not. Is it habit or is it love? Could it be both?

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