Apologetics R&D: getting to the application phase

There’s that old Jedi phrase “Search your heart, you know it to be true.” That is kind of what I want this thread to be about. I am open to suggestions. What kind of rhetorical device; what manner of discussion, line of questioning, logical statement; is there out that could gently (but without directly trying to manipulate) bring the people we are discussing the faith with to “apply” the logic of the faith?

Because I have seen people complain elsewhere on this site that they will come out with “solid” “knock down” or “air tight” arguments only to be shocked when the next day the conversation picks up as if the logical argument had never been mentioned.

Some have questioned the sincerity of the non-Catholics they share religious discourse with and I too have been perplexed by a seeming lack of attention to detail when talking with non-Catholics friends, but this has happened so many times with so many different people, that I have come to the conclusion that the problem may not be with their sincerity, depth of religious fervor, or intelligence. I realized this was especially true when I realized that I was also guilty of the same during my own conversion!

Here is what I think is happening: there is no application phase. What is an application phase? Well, anyone who teaches languages or studies languages knows that your typical class is divided into parts: a warm-up/review part, an introduction of a new concept(s) part, and a final part where the students are asked to apply their new found knowledge in a practical setting. This typically involves something like a role play that focuses on getting the students to test drive a given set of vocabulary, grammar patterns, or cultural nuance.

Apologetics happens on the fly for most of us. The environment is not controlled – it is open and subject to catcalls from the peanut gallery who try to laugh you out of the room for proclaiming something as simple as the Church’s teaching on contraception. Because of this, things get said (or read, or heard) and they do not get a seriously tested. During my conversion, I had the benefit of frequent contact with my girlfriend who was also converting. She was drawn to the Church. I was repulsed by it. But our conversations often “forced” me to think it out.

And once I tried the logic, I was surprised how strong it held. After a while, I realized the logic of God’s Church was crystal-clear, unified, self-supporting, and always consistent. I would not have come to this moment had I not been coached to test the logic.

I know the rational aspect of the faith is only one part of the universe of Catholicism, but it is so powerful, I have every “reason” to believe that anyone who tests it, will be moved by its clarity and universality.

Let’s develop some apologetics techniques to encourage people to enter into an application phase where they mull over the idea, contrast it, compare it, attack it, and see how perfect it is! :thumbsup:

God said some are unable to believe because “their hearts are hardened”. Whether or not this applies to any one individual you are thinking about, I think the point is clear - you cannot have a successful, rational debate with someone unless they want to.

It is like negotiation - unless I am willing to change my position, consider alternatives, and find a “win-win”, there is no negotiation.

In debate, unless you can honestly establish a point that both sides agree with, you want move ahead. Now, maybe you can start at a much more fundamental level, as do some of the apologetics books, like “Do we both agree that Chris is the Son of God” (which A Christian would agree with, a non-Chrisitian of course would not), and then proceed with “then if so, do you belileve the Bible is God’s inspired Word…” and so on to get to a point. That would likely work if they and you had the paitence for it, and you were able to successfully perform the work of centuries to get to some higher point you want to prove. But IMHO it will take a long time to accomplsih this.

Didn’t God say sometimes you just have to teach by example? I don’t think debates save many lives…

[quote=awalt]God said some are unable to believe because “their hearts are hardened”. …

He is the expert but in my experience there are also those unable to believe because their heads are hardened.

I can give a good idea of what I am talking about.

Mormon missionaries like to “clinch the deal” in their task of conversion by asking people to read the Book of Mormon and then meditate and see if they get a “burning in the bossom.”

This is an application phase. Albeit, it is an application of intuition vice logic, it is still the type of process I am thinking about developing. I think the forums are a good place to try this, because we have direct access to a large number and a large variety of non-Catholics with which to hone techniques.

Just because the Mormon conversion technique is formulaic, does not mean that the people they convert are any less sincere in their conversion. There are other issues in their techniques that are of course deplorable (encouraging lying from an early age, misrepresenting their faith, twisting the meaning of words) but there is nothing wrong with developing techniques. Polemics is defined as “The practice of theological controversy to refute errors of doctrine.” (dictionary.com)

Whenever you engage in discussion at any level, you apply techniques and strategy. What I am wondering is if there is a way to get people to apply a newly posited argument on the spot.

What I do not want is someone telling me that I am wasting my time. No answers are just as good as negative answers, please!

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