You did not mention whether or not the person who makes the remark is a Catholic or noncatholic. For noncatholics, the statement may be true, since the scope of their theology is narrow and that is commonly their learned perception.
How do you respond to this comment if you are with someone you don’t know really well, or you’re in a group of people, or even with friend, and you don’t want to agree, but then again it’s probably not the time to respond in such a way that a debate will likely begin?
If you are in a group or with those whom you don’t know well, it is probably not good timing, as you already understood. The entire group could turn on you and egg on one’s face is not desirable. You need to know your facts extremely well beforehand in order to carry on a good discussion.
It sounds as though the person’s mind is already made up, or it would have been expressed in a different manner, with more leverage towards those of other faiths. *After that, it really doesn’t matter what church you go to!] *I heard Father Dubay speak on TV the other night, and he had a wonderful summary of John Henry Cardinal Newmann’s writings. Speaking about the brilliancy of his mind, Father quoted him as teaching:
It is not by argument that one is converted, for their decision is most usually born of their own preference and sympathies.
This was for me a very timely and beautiful answer to prayer as to whether or not to continue my own debate with those whose mind is already made up. Many years ago, prior to beginning a catechetical ministry to children, we learned in a workshop that very little learning occurs until the “seeker” feels a gap between where one is spiritually and where one seeks to know truth. At that point, it is readily and easily digested and accepted.
The presenter helped us to see that our job is to plant seeds, but leave the growth to the Holy Spirit. Very few of our words will take root. We had a test to see how many of about 25-30 items mentioned by the presenter could be recalled five minutes later. It was demoralizing to see how memory is so inept to instant recall. If we named ten, we did well.
How refreshing it was to remember all of my earlier training when Father spoke the other day, for a full half hour. Yet this one statement of his is all I am able to repeat.
And how true it is that unless someone is specifically “seeking,” and God puts them in our path for us to enlighten them, we can become a sounding board that renders another person even more obstinant through argument.
If the person you are with is one-on-one and is Catholic, you can mention that their conscience has been formed with incorrect learning, and that they may want to discuss it with the priest. Should they press you for more, not as if to argue, but to learn — you may find that open door for the Lord to prompt you and speak.
With every good blessing as you witness for Christ,