Christian Witness vs Apologetics

I think Christian Witness is often more powerful than apologetics.

People think that “Christian witness” is a Protestant thing but it is not. Jesus commands that we be witnesses and Paul gives his witness three times in Acts of the Apostles.

***1) What my life was like before Jesus.
2) How I met Jesus
3) What my life is like now that I know Jesus. ***

That is Christian witness.

Apologetics usually leads to arguments. Witnessing is not argumentative. Recounting how our lives were before Christ makes us vulnerable; people are not defensive but see that we are weak just like them, and approachable. I have two versions of my “Witness” ready in my mind at all times. One is about 30 seconds long and another is about two minutes long. I can also tell it in more detail in about eight or ten minutes.

On more than one occasion it has prompted a phone call after a family gathering or someone quietly pulling me aside. The conversation usually starts with the other person saying something like, “I have been thinking about my life a lot lately. Can I ask you a question?”

***…you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama’ria and to the end of the earth. *(Acts 1:8)

Are any of you ready to be witnesses to how Jesus has changed your life?

-Tim-

:hmmm: I think I have to disagree with you Tim.

Though they are not the same, they are also bound together in that one cannot effectively share what one does not understand and cannot explain.

Your quote of Acts 1:8 is just fine, but even n-Cs acknowledge Matthew 28’s “Great Commission”, which says,
[19] Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

We are commissioned to teach as part of this witness, and apologetics is very much a part of being able to do that.

People think that “Christian witness” is a Protestant thing but it is not. Jesus commands that we be witnesses and Paul gives his witness three times in Acts of the Apostles.***1) What my life was like before Jesus.
2) How I met Jesus
3) What my life is like now that I know Jesus. ***That is Christian witness.

Yet, Paul spends a tremendous amount of time in Acts teaching, and explaining and defending what he believes and then continues that process in his epistles, so, in context we see the need for and intermarriage of apologetics in the New Testament.

Both have a interlocking place in the New Testament and one does not exist without the other. St.,Paul was indeed a very active apologist.

Apologetics usually leads to arguments. Witnessing is not argumentative.

Unfortunately this is a generalization and untrue since we see many cases of arguments and debates occurring there in Acts.

Faith sharing can be tricky and seems to often lead to questions that any witness will need to be able to deal with. You cannot blow off the teaching aspect of Our Blessed Lord’s commission for us to share our faith. :shrug:

Recounting how our lives were before Christ makes us vulnerable; people are not defensive but see that we are weak just like them, and approachable. I have two versions of my “Witness” ready in my mind at all times. One is about 30 seconds long and another is about two minutes long. I can also tell it in more detail in about eight or ten minutes.

Are you a convert or a revert? I can do this as well but it all depends on time constraints and the person’s receptivity. Here’s My Testimony.

On more than one occasion it has prompted a phone call after a family gathering or someone quietly pulling me aside. The conversation usually starts with the other person saying something like, “I have been thinking about my life a lot lately. Can I ask you a question?”***…you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama’ria and to the end of the earth. ***(Acts 1:8)Are any of you ready to be witnesses to how Jesus has changed your life?

-Tim-

That’s wonderful Tim! :thumbsup: God bless you for it, but without your knowledge of apologetics, how can one answer those inevitable questions and so fulfill Our Lord’s mandate to teach them? Certainly that is one reason for RCIA, but again, we need to be well familiar with our most holy faith “being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.” (1st Peter 3:15)

They go hand in hand and cannot be separated. Yours is a way to open a dialog, but apologetics is what will ultimately do what the Lord has commanded of us.

Somewhere on YouTube you can see the account that Lauren Booth, sister-in-law to Tony Blair, gives of her conversion to Islam. It is quite a moving and powerful witness in its way. It does not, however, give me the slightest inclination to become a Muslim myself because emotion is not a good guide in such matters unless tempered by reason. And my reason finds Catholic Apologetics a darn sight more persuasive than heartfelt witness testimony from Muslim converts however sincere they may be.

CS, that’s a very good point.

I think our witness is important because we have to act the part before we can even start and open the door to even talking about Jesus with others but knowing your facts and your faith are the whole key to conversion.

I’ve had more success with witness than I have had with doctrine and debate. That’s my experience.

My point is that many Catholics think Christian witness is a Protestant invention but it is not, and they ought to think about their faith in terms of how Jesus has changed their life. Many Protestants will be completely floored when they hear a Catholic give their witness, explain how Jesus changed their life, and then will be willing to listen.

Here in the south people are serious about their faith, and you have to be willing to demonstrate your faith publicly before people take you seriously.

-Tim-

To be fair though saying a rosary and silently meditating on the life if Christ durning the rosary down South will only get you called an idolator. I live in New York and I work with a Baptist I love her as a sister but man she pushes every button of grace I have with her anti-Catholic chides that are flat out rude and bigoted. Like when someone in the office said they were sending their daughter to Catholic school she responded that everyone knows that all Catholic school girls are the bad girls. It hard to give witness in this type of setting.

That is not my experience.

I lived on Long Island for 42 years and commuted to New York City daily. I happen to live in Suburban Atlanta now. I’m sorry you are having a problem with a Baptist but my experience with Christians in the south is nothing like you have described.

-Tim-

I agree with this up to a point…(I’ll explain in a bit), and this has been my experience as well. Witnessing through living my daily Catholic life has been more effective than any arguments I’ve ever used to defend the Faith.

However (here’s the “up to a point”), once we have given that witness, we now have a duty to teach, as CM points out. A friend can see the witness I give and say, “gee, I like what you’ve got there and I want it too…where do I get it?”. Now I must be able to defend why he/she should go to the Catholic Church instead of that Cowboy church down the road from his/her house, where he/she can ALSO find Christ. And this is where apologetics is necessary.

My point is that many Catholics think Christian witness is a Protestant invention but it is not, and they ought to think about their faith in terms of how Jesus has changed their life. Many Protestants will be completely floored when they hear a Catholic give their witness, explain how Jesus changed their life, and then will be willing to listen.

Amen! to that.

Here in the south people are serious about their faith, and you have to be willing to demonstrate your faith publicly before people take you seriously.

-Tim-

My brother lived in a town in east/central Texas, and this was exactly the case. As a Catholic, he had to be able to show Christ’s effect on his life. And after that, (and here’s the apologetics side of it), he had to be able to explain his Catholic Faith effectively just to get his foot in the proverbial door.

@ahs, yes, I think you understand.

I’m not saying that witness should replace apologetics, but that it should precede apologetics. People will be more open to hearing about our beautiful religion when they are able to see how it has powerfully changed our lives for the better. People will respond positively and express a desire for that same joy/peace/forgiveness/healing/power/grace/fortitude/etc. They will ask how they can get it. Then it is time to talk about the sacraments.

I challenge everyone reading this thread to come up with their own Christian witness. Explain three things; 1) what my life was like before Jesus, 2) how I met Jesus and, 3) what my life is like now that I know Jesus.

The truth is that if you cannot explain how your life has changed because of Jesus then maybe your life needs to change. :wink:

-Tim-

We are all the body of Christ - Paul explains this - we can’t all do the same thing - different parts of the body do different things - we do what we are called to do - if you are called to be an apologious then do it - some are called to be examples - some to work acts of mercy - some are called to be peace makers and so on - Paul is very clear on this - you must always be able to explain your faith though when asked.

Its not all about argueing about whos right and whos wrong - that is what got us in this mess to start with.I Think it sad that we as Christians are in this situation.

Atlanta has a decent size Catholic community, I know of at least five families who lived in New York who live in Alpharetta now, I feel like it has become New York for smart who figured out it was time to leave the craziness. Have you ever talked openly about the rosary or the Pope with Evangelicals? I had one Southern Baptist who does missionary work in South East Asia tell me he met one the Cardinals in the Philippines and he asked the cardinal if Pope Benedict ever smiled and he said he hadn’t really ever seen Pope Benedict smile and his conclusion was you can’t trust anyone who doesn’t smile. What the heck! Half of my family is German and Germans aren’t terribly emotional to begin with combine that with being on the shy side and an incredible intellect, he might be awkward but it doesn’t mean he is untrustworthy, if you read anything from Benedict you can easily see his love for Jesus and the relationship he has with our Lord is just incredible.

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