Discussing the Faith with non-denominationals

I suppose non-denominational isn’t the best term.

Here’s my problem.

I am not trying to actively evangelize anyone but my best friend has taken a marked interest in my faith journey. She likes to ask questions now and then and I always feel a bit run over by the time we’re done.

She doesn’t believe ANY church has the fullness of truth. She believes that believing in and loving God is ALL she needs. She firmly believes that God will lead us to different denominations throughout our lives to teach us different things. She **sneers **at baptism (she just does not understand it and when I try to explain she doesn’t seem to get it - so clearly I’m explaining badly. I’ve pointed out ALL the verses about baptism but for some reason she’s just not willing to hear that it IS necessary). She’s a fan of the iBethel church right now and from them has developed this idea that God will accept us even IF we are dirtied with sin.

Now, she’s free to believe all this stuff but when she asks me questions about my faith I find it VERY difficult to explain ANYTHING to her because of her currently standing beliefs. She doesn’t know the Bible, or ever really read the Bible so pointing out scripture is USELESS in any debate.

Sometimes I feel a bit like she’s asking but unless my answer lines up with her pre conceived beliefs she won’t listen to it. Almost like she’s a cake pan and any faith that gets poured into her has to match her contours… anything that doesn’t fit into her pan is simply discarded. You know what I mean?

So, besides the obvious (prayer) how do I deal with this? Right now I find it very discouraging because I just can’t seem to speak to her in a way that she’s able to understand. I can’t use the Bible to share points with her, I can’t use history to share points with her (she really doesn’t care what the early Christians did, to her that’s unimportant), I can’t use Church Fathers, I can’t use any conventional means… I suppose all that’s left is to appeal to reason but I’m not sure how to do that when it comes to issues like the Pope, Baptism, Praying to the Saints and Mary.

Help guys? I’m really lost in how to continue with her. I don’t want to refuse to answer her questions when she asks them… but I feel as if I’m failing miserably when it comes to explaining the faith to her.

Disclaimer: She is VERY smart… please don’t think I’m trying to bash her in the above post. I just wanted to be very clear about how she is when it comes to faith.

Why not ask her why she is asking?

Try listening more than responding.

You might ask her why Jesus founded a Church. (See Matt. 16:18) Was it a joke? Was He in error by doing so? What was the purpose?

Also, ask her if she thinks Jesus left us no way to know the fullness of His teachings, that we’re all just out here, hit or miss. Also, if there is no sure way to know the truths of Christ, how does she know that “ALL we have to do is believe in and love God?” She could certainly be wrong, if that’s the case, since according to her theory, there is no way to know Christ’s truths for sure. What is the basis and origin of her beliefs, if not from Christ through the Apostles and their successors?

Is she asking only to have an opportunity to disagree? There is a difference between answering questions to inform and answering to debate/defend. You can stick with informing her and just say that’s what Catholics believe without debating it.

It’s very common to find people who want to design their own religion and call it Christian and say they get it directly from the Holy Spirit. It’s nothing more than a way to convince themselves they can live as they please without guilt.

Wow. How interesting. She questions your faith, it’s basis, and it’s teachings but is unwilling to accept any responses. Maybe a good starting point would be to come to an understanding of what beliefs are in common. Then, you can gently start challenging her for her basis of one particular belief. Don’t relinquish when she throws out, “Well you believe it!” Make her articulate the basis for her belief. S L O W L Y. The point is to make her THINK about what she is saying and not express her feelings.

Honestly, this sounds like moral relativism, i.e. “What’s good for me is good for me and what’s good for you is good for you.” Based on that, nothing can be absolute. To use an extreme example, if I felt murder was OK because it allowed me a way to express myself and relieve stress, that wouldn’t make it OK. Likewise, I could insisted that 2 + 2 = 3 because that just feels right. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s right in my world and that’s all I really care about because that’s all I can really impact.

As you can see, taken to extremes or it’s logical conclusions, this really is an empty faith because it stands for nothing. Jesus definitely stood for SOMETHING and we should do the same.

Hope this helps.

Jeff

phoooiee - I should have clarified. I do know why she’s asking. She hasn’t attended church in years and she is seeking to learn more about Christianity in general. When she heard I was joining the Catholic Church she started asking me questions because she believes I am the only Christian she knows who actually studies these things. but she’s contradictory because on the one hand she openly expresses her admiration of me and the fact that I study the faith but on the other hand she rejects pretty much anything I share with her. I kind of feel like she’s searching to know God better but her heart isn’t ready to hear the Truth.

Scoobyshme - Yup, I brought those points up to her. She professes, quite confidently, that the Holy Spirit has retained the faith. The Church has fallen into things that displease God but the Holy Spirit has retained the faith through the Bible (the Bible she doesn’t read and doesn’t seem to respect). It’s VERY difficult to try and explain things to her because she seems to have abandoned reason.

momor - Honestly I have felt that she was being sincere in her questions. As in she truly wanted to learn more about Christianity but the more we discuss things the more I feel as if she has some agenda of her own that isn’t quite clear to me yet. I’m trying to treat her sincerely though and I don’t want to shut down her questions.

ctkrcia - Moral relativism! I think you hit the nail on the head, but the problem is how do you deal with that without seeming to directly attack someone’s beliefs? I think you’re right. I need to stop speaking and start encouraging her to think about what she currently believes. It’s not going to be easy because she does throw in little digs now and then that make me want to defend the faith (for example she feels the Church has ‘fallen’ away because it’s led by sinful man - amongst other little things. I don’t think she’s meaning to be offensive but sometimes it just riles me up). This definitely isn’t going to be easy. :slight_smile: I hadn’t thought about approaching this from the viewpoint of finding common beliefs and questioning her beliefs as well (not questioning as in challenging, but just asking her to explain them more in depth). Thank you.

Ask her if she believes in one God or three Gods. There is one God, but three Divine Persons in that one God. But they are entirely inseparable. Wherever we find one Person of the Trinity, we necessarily find the other two. They cannot be separated.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God, not a book. He taught orally. The Bible, assembled BY the Catholic Church (which has never changed any of its teachings), only contains SOME of what Jesus taught (see John 21:25). Yet, Jesus commanded the Apostles (and, logically, their successors, the bishops) to go forth and teach ALL that He had taught them. (See Matt. 28:20) The vast majority of earth’s population could neither read nor write till the late 1800’s. How does she propose the faith was passed on? Osmosis? LOL

It was passed on orally. That’s why the Bible says that faith comes by HEARING the Word of God. Doesn’t say by READING the Word of God.

Challenge her to show you one doctrine that the Catholic Church changed in it’s 2000 year history. There are none. (She may try to point to matters of discipline, but that doesn’t count. Only formal teachings (doctrine/dogma) count.)

Jesus founded a (one) Church, promised to send the Holy Spirit to “lead it into all truth,” and promised to remain WITH His Church till the end of time. Either He told the truth, or He didn’t. If He didn’t, and the Church failed as she claimed, then we’re all wasting our time because He couldn’t be God, then.

People like that are very difficult. I used to get very upset with someone asking questions and then rejecting everything simply because they don’t likethe answert. Now I just answer questions, try to be coherent and point out the faults in their reasoning. That can make people think, puts them on the spot a bit.You never know how a seed will be planted so even when you feel frustrated and upset, pray for patience and that your friend eventually opens up and listens to what you have to say.

I know this is probably not a ‘good thing’ to say but I feel like these kind of mentalities are the result of mixed marriages. :\ I was raised with an atheist father and Christian mother and as an adult I had my own ‘falling away’ from faith, as it were. This friend I’m dealing with was raised with an atheist father and ‘spiritual’ mother and here she is… confident in her salvation but also completely complacent in it.

That’s not to say children of faithful Christian parents won’t fall on the wayside but I think mixed faith parents make things that much more difficult and confusing for children.

Just my two cents.

That said, I will continue to engage my friend and I will keep the things you guys have said in mind when I do. I’m really feeling lost when it comes to how to express Truth to her. My biggest concern is misrepresenting the Church in anyway, especially since she is not a huge fan of Catholicism. sigh Oh well, if it was easy I guess I’d be on the wrong road!

I like your signature. Who said it? Was it you? God bless:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

I’m pretty sure it’s my own invention. :slight_smile: It popped into my head while I was reading Scripture one day and it just stuck with me. I’m not 100% certain I didn’t just hear it somewhere else and it stuck though because I’m not usually so clever. :smiley:

Thanks.

It sounds to me like she is not actually interested in evaluating what you say, except maybe as a curiosity. To reach a relativist, pointing to what is objective is just a way to get ignored. The truth isn’t what catches her attention: instead, maybe it’s goodness and beauty. In that case, the task left to you is one we Western Catholics are often poorly prepared to do: show her God’s love and beauty lived out through your life and the life of the whole Church. If her beliefs are lead along by the whims of her desires, then let her taste of holiness and so come to desire it. Then when her desires on fixed on the Beautiful One she will be grounded enough to see objective truths.

Good advice. I’m no where near Holy but I hope that as I grow in faith those around me WILL be able to see God working. I hope, I hope… I’m not sure I’ll ever be good enough to be the sort of person that inspires others though. :\ When it comes to holiness - I fail.

Along these lines, get her a book on Fatima or Lourdes. She might see the beauty and love of Mary, and impressed with the events that took place. There is a book “Mysteries,Marvels,Miracles” by Joan Carroll Cruz, that have impressionable stories about the saint’s miracles. There a bunch more books that are “wows” that may just reach her if she reads at all. She may think it all “poppycock” but it might be worth a try.

You mentioned she dosen’t read the Bible. Does that mean just that, or does she not believe in the Bible? If she says she is a Christian, I don’t know off hand of any Christian of any denomination that rejects the bible, for they are all Bible based or Bible baptised and would not comprehend anyone who went to their church and not accept the Bible.
So how could she say she can go to any denomination when she rejects the very instrument of their holiness upon which they are based. Suggest to her that she is not a Christian or a valid Church goer if she rejects the Bible. Therefore she is not “Churched” since any church would deny her rejection. This of course is not said to get the best of her but just as matter of observation. Let her think about it.

If you want my sixth sense about this person, I believe she is “looking” for filling up the hole in her life. It may take the Holy Spirit a while to hit her with the right idea. It seems that most journeys to God is just that, a journey, quite a while. You can help her get a little closer with your kind patience and offering that pain and frustration up for her. Just a thought, Jesus died for her and loves her very much and chose you at this point to point the way. Seeing the argument of kindness will impress her the most, for that is the real Bible she is looking for.

If I may add one more explaination of her denial of the importance of baptism. Some churches only require a personal moment of experiencing Jesus in the heart to be saved.
They do not require baptism. Baptism is merely a formality after this experience of the heart. They would call baptism a symbol only.

You might ask her if she believes in the Ten. And which one is the hardest to believe for her? This may give you a clue.

It’s not that she rejects the Bible - necessarily, she doesn’t read it. And she’s not at all interested in what this verse or that verse says. Nor is she interested in what early Christians did, or even what the apostles did. It seems to me the only arguments she’s interested in are the ones that speak to her heart, anything that makes her even slightly uncomfortable gets rejected off hand.

I’m seeing her this afternoon. :slight_smile: It should be interesting, I’ll take a new approach and try to get a better grasp of what SHE believes.

Concerning the Bible, if she goes to any church, encourage her to talk to her pastor about it, because he may help her understand its importance if she goes to his church.

Since she is saved, and that is what it sounds like, she may think that she dosen’t need to observe the Ten, because some believe that “once saved always saved” without keeping the Ten. It may be she is trying to forget something in the past, covering it up with “always” saved, therefore not dealing with her past or future with regard to that something. So she may be tring her best to cover it all up by “feely good” ideas and nothing more. Of course the Bible is full of non-feely good things which she wouldn’t like.

It might be helpful to explain that everyone in the Catholic church can feel good about themselves for sure. They all have that power, everyone. At this point, stop the explaination until she would ask for it. Leave it there and it may take a day or two after she thinks about it, she might ask you how that is possible. Now you have your opening to tell her about how Jesus forgave the man on the pallet, and the woman caught in adultery. That every Catholic has that same power to be forgiven just like those two. With certainty, with no doubt. And for everything. That there have been not a few who have cried because they received the peace they so desperately longed for.

Good Luck in Jesus name.

I know I’m a late-comer to this thread, but sometimes prayer is the only thing you can do. I would, however, point out that it is disingenuous to disregard any point of discussion you bring up, i.e., the Bible, the early Church, etc. Those all have relevance.

God Bless.

I’m not sure that she IS saved… because she believes but is not baptised. :\ I don’t know enough to know the Catholic position on that…

It is complicated about anyone being saved. But she may think she is saved or wants to be saved so much so that she can not be at peace with whatever is bothering her. But if deep down inside she is not at rest with it, then there is the opportunity to point her in the right direction to find the peace she needs. It is a building point.

“Prince of peace, counslor…”

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