How to debate with friends and family about the faith?


#1

I have a coworker who has become a dear friend to me. We eat together nearly every day…she is Presbyterian…I’m Catholic. We don’t always discuss religion (after today, I now know why)

She believes that the RCC is wrong to repress women from positions of stature…she said that when she was Methodist, she ‘ran’ the financials of the church…the service programs, etc…she was ‘in charge.’ It was almost said to me in an angry tone.

So…we continued the conversation…and we started talking about Confession. She said that ‘all one needs to do is ask God for forgiveness…a priest doesn’t know if you are going to repent, even if you really mean to.’’ I said, "true, but this is something Jesus Himself told the Apostles that they could do. I choose to think that if Jesus was forgiving sins…then He wanted to appoint people to act on HIS BEHALF.’’

No no…she wasn’t buying it. I wasn’t selling it. I felt upset that her voice started raising…and I said…’‘Yes, I believe that God forgives sins when we speak to him…but as a Catholic…this is what we believe. The priest is acting in the persona of Christ. I don’t believe that Jesus intended for us to choose from a thousand different denominations.’’ She listened and then we started talking about mass. She said that she goes to church when she feels she needs it…if she doesn’t need it, she doesn’t go.

I said to her…’‘Well, we need mass …God doesn’t need us to go to mass.’’ I was surprised by all that she was saying. I felt sad that her faith seemed so…empty. Not her personal faith…but that the church she belongs to seems so…do whatever…who cares?

The RCC is sort of like a father figure to us…who guides us…leads us…doesn’t condemn us, like I think she thinks.
I don’t want to belong to a faith that doesn’t care about my soul…you know? That’s the nice thing about the RCC…say what you will…the rules are there to help us get to Heaven.

So…what’s a healthy way to debate? When someone gets heated about the RCC, what do YOU do? Any advice is helpful…because one of my husband’s brothers is Lutheran…and I know when we move closer to him, the debates will begin!

Is it wrong to just listen to them rant…in silence??:o


#2

My dad also gets heated in our arguments (I wish I could call them “debates”) about Catholicism. I’ve not yet found a way to have a reasonable theological discussion with him. I’m all ears as well :slight_smile:

Jeremy


#3

Whatevergirl, you are in a tough position.
What we have to do is be firm in our beliefs and keep praying. You have been placed in this position for a reason that you do not know and may have an effect on this person if not now, some time in the future. Keep studying your faith and learn as much as you can. The Lord puts us in these positions to not only sharpen our communication skills but to do the work of evangelization. Remind yourself that this will not be the only time you will be having these conversations. They will come up again and you will learn how to handle them from past experience.
In the meantime, I would try if possible to focus on what Christ told us using His words. For example, when talking about confession we can use “whose sins you forgive they are forgiven…”, and say “what do you think Christ meant by telling these apostles that?” For Mass you can use “Unless one eats my body and drinks my blood he has no life within him”. Ask what do you think Christ meant by that? Ask what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God. This avenue of discussion asks the person the question of what they believe. If you acknowledge their answer and not tell them they are wrong, you can just say “this is what I (or the Catholic Church) believes, etc,etc.” and ask if they can ever see a time of reconciliation of the differences. Basically I am saying not to be confrontational in talking. I know that you were not confrontational, but I add this only because others may read the post. If at all possible, use the gift of empathy in trying to put yourself in the other one’s shoes. Tell them that you would probably believe the same things they do if you were in the same situation. Tell them that you have been gifted by God in learning about His Church and appreciate all the things He went through to bring it to His people.
I hope this helps.

mdcpensive1


#4

It is not easy to debate with family. I can’t debate with my sister anymore. She said she felt distant from me if I talk about Catholic. So, I respect her that but I always pray for her.

Well, I don’t debate, but I find chances to mention what I do at my church every chance I get especially when she asks me what I do for for weekend. - ie: I go to Adoration, pray the rosary with the group, visiting nursing home and pray the Divine Mercy with the elders.

Another example: when she had tough time and asked me to pray, I would say I go to daily Mass and pray for her. In long run, I will mention more about whom I am praying to (intercession of Saints …)

To my situation, this is far more effective than to have heated debates.


#5

It can be helpful to discuss the necessity of Christian charity when speaking on matters of faith. Love and respect are important and we all need to be make the effort. If we hit a point in the discussion where things get heated we need to difuse the tension. No one listens when they are angry. Even if the other party can’t do this, we must do so.

It is also important that we show appreciation for the other person’s faith and for their love of God. Likewise, we can make a big impression by bearing witness to what God has done in our lives and by expressing how much we love God. The apostle Peter puts it this way:

1 Peter 3:15-16
Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

I hope this helps.


#6

Friends and family are very different. With family religion is often a cipher for other, unrelated tensions.

With friends the relationship is voluntary. You will see eye to eye on some issues, not on others, and one of the others may be religion. Generally if you disagree with a friend over religion that is what you genuinely disagree about, and so it is possible to have a productive discussion.

The main thing to remember is that people take a long time to chage their opinions. If Jill decides to leave the Methodist church and join the Catholics because of some converstion she had with whatevergirl the the works canteen, Jill’s conversion probably isn’t worth very much. She’ll be a Buddhist when she gets bored with Catholicism. However, if after some months, maybe after leaving that job and going to another area, she realises that although whatevergirl was a fool and didn’t take her own faults seriously, at least she went to Confession, then the conversation will have been worthwhile.


#7

she needs an update on how things are “run” in the Catholic Church today. The majority of positions in a parish, other than priest and deacon, are held by women: office manager, business manager, director of religious education, school administration etc. as well as the volunteer positions being dominated by women, to the extent that many men feel church work is barred to them. In this diocese, like many others, top administrative positions are held by women including directors of key diocesan departments such as Catholic Charities, Catholic schools, catechetics, evangelization, family life, human resources, communications and so forth. In many parishes that have no pastor on site a woman is pastoral administrator handling day to day affairs of the parish, while a priest who is responsible for several parishes confects the sacraments and has pastoral care responsibility.

If she wants to rant she will have to find another topic to rant about.


#8

When I was at University, a fellow student who became a life-long friend, was from a staunch Protestant family in County Antrim [the epi-centre of Loylist political Protestantism in Northern Ireland].

I, from a traditional Catholic background, you would have assumed it would not have taken long before we too were bitterly embroiled.

I was quietly passionate about my faith in Christ, so too was he.

It took about 2 months before I believed that he really was Protestant and him the same to realise that I was not Protestant.

We never discussed differences between Catholicism and Protestantism but similarities. :slight_smile:

We prayed together and socialised together. He was an excellent Preacher. I often stood in profound admiration of him.,

He used to walk into a crowded bar, start telling a few jokes, then as his voice got louder, the jokes got cruder and more vulgar, so the background noise diminished as 'all ears were by now on him [as a stand up comedian]. Then he would come out with some profoundly humerous joke and everyone would be hanging on with bated breath for his next comment. Then he would come out with something profound wisdom about faith in Christ. It would take him about 20-seconds to say, by which time everyone were silent in awe of what he had said; during which time he would drink up his drink and quietly leave.

We spent a lot of time philophising on Christianity looking at its deeper meanings. But we never had a crossed word. We were closer in Christ than I have been with most Catholics. :slight_smile:


#9

Invite her to join CAF:D Then she can debate with all of you and take the heat off:thumbsup:

Plus I think she would learn alot and relax a bit about the CC as I have.:thumbsup:

Even though Im not catholic----when I have conversations with people who are–I just dont let the convo heat up. When I see things going that way I back off and I pray.

I have said before I live in an area that is mostly catholic----I just live my life for Christ and through my behavior people notice something different and they ask me questions. Like Water I speak about what I do in church what I have learned in bible study.
I never try to convince anyone they should come over to my church or that my church is the right one because that is where the fight will come in catholic or protestant.

I just talk about my faith like this is my part of my life and how I live it and how happy and content I am.

If your going into a conversation with the intent on showing her how the CC is better then her church–or trying to convince her the CC is better—you will not win her over.:frowning:

Just live by example. If she is not open to the CC then just live by example and show her love.:thumbsup:


#10

How to debate with friends and family about the faith

‘Actions speak louder than words’ the saying goes!

It is not so much WHAT we say as WHO we are that witnesses to the faith.

I have had many arguements with my in-laws about what I believe. In particular: one fellow a self-confessed athiest who used to ‘target me’ whenever I visited mother-in-law. I grew to dread it. All I felt I could do was to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on what to say. I was NEVER negative about what he believed. I never said anything negative period. I ALWAYS respected his right to believe what he believed. I never told him he was wrong. Who was I to say that.

Today, he is a very committed Christian, so too his wife and children. He often alludes to ‘the misery he used to inflict on me’ in what was initially his anger at ‘belief in God’, which turned to an enquiring mind searching for answers.

I claim no credit, it was entirely the work of the Holy Spirit. All we can do is ‘be willing servants’ and leave the rest to Him.

Recognise your limitations. Do what you can and leave that which you cannot, to Him. He will more than compensate if their are ears willing to listen. :slight_smile:


#11

How to debate with friends and family about the faith

‘Actions speak louder than words’ the saying goes!

It is not so much WHAT we say as WHO we are that witnesses to the faith.

I have had many arguements with my in-laws about what I believe. In particular: one fellow a self-confessed athiest who used to ‘target me’ whenever I visited mother-in-law. I grew to dread it. All I felt I could do was to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on what to say. I was NEVER negative about what he believed. I never said anything negative period. I ALWAYS respected his right to believe what he believed. I never told him he was wrong. Who was I to say that.

Today, he is a very committed Christian, so too his wife and children. He often alludes to ‘the misery he used to inflict on me’ in what was initially his anger at ‘belief in God’, which turned to an enquiring mind searching for answers.

I claim no credit, it was entirely the work of the Holy Spirit. All we can do is ‘be willing servants’ and leave the rest to Him.

My advice is do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! but what the Holy Spirit teaches you to do which you won’t know until that moment comes. But we can prepare ourselves by reading Scripture and Apologetics.

Recognise your limitations. Pray to the Holy Spirit for her, ask Him for guidance when you speak, say what you can and leave that which you cannot, to Him. He will more than compensate if there are ears willing to listen.



#12

If we learn our faith, live our faith, love our faith we will reflect our faith.

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
St. Francis of Assisi

I am learning everything I can about our faith as well as others just in case.

1 Peter 3:15

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

If we show how beautiful our faith is and we explain how precious it truly is, in a loving voice, like our mother would. People would be drawn to it.

Do we make the sign of the cross in front of others? And then lovingly explain why we do?
Because we love God with all our mind, all our heart and all our strength.:signofcross:
Can we show our brothers and sisters that before 1517 there was no one “protesting” the Catholic Church?
Can we ask our friends what they believe and why? Ask them questions and just listen.
Every time I listen I learn.

          I keep my voice soft and steady as I ask.

Then when my turn comes (and it does) I explain why I believe what I believe. And having a Bible handy to show where it is in scripture really helps.

Yes they will know we are Christians by our love by our love, yes they will know we are Christians by our love.
Become the Thumper not the Thumpee


#13

The moral to what I have said above is '‘we are all unique’. What is right for one person will not work for another. All we can do is trust in Him who sent us to that person and situation. :slight_smile:

Any advice given here is at best only a rough guideline. I rather like the advice about inviting her to join CAF. :slight_smile:

My advice is do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! but what the Holy Spirit teaches you to do which you won’t know until that moment comes. But we can prepare ourselves by reading Scripture and Apologetics.

It is not so much WHAT we say as WHO we are that witnesses.

I have brought folk to faith, or rather not I but HIM :slight_smile:

Every situation is different so you cannot prepare for it.

Recognise your limitations. Pray to the Holy Spirit for her, ask Him for guidance when you speak, say what you can and leave that which you cannot, to Him. He will more than compensate if there are ears willing to listen.


#14

The moral to what I have said above is '‘we are all unique’. What is right for one person will not work for another. All we can do is trust in Him who sent us to that person and situation.

Any advice given here is at best only a rough guideline. I rather like the advice about inviting her to join CAF.

My advice is do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! but what the Holy Spirit teaches you to do which you won’t know until that moment comes. But we can prepare ourselves by reading Scripture and Apologetics. :slight_smile:

It is not so much WHAT we say as WHO we are that witnesses.

I have brought folk to faith, or rather not I but HIM :thumbsup:

Every situation is different so you cannot prepare for it.

Recognise your limitations. Pray to the Holy Spirit for her, ask Him for guidance when you speak, say what you can and leave that which you cannot, to Him. He will more than compensate if there are ears willing to listen.


#15

Since you are asking about method, I highly recommend the free downloads at the Bible Christian Society, especially the one entitled “Apologetics for the Scripturally Challenged” which goes into techniques for debating.

You can find those here: www.biblechristiansociety.com/download


#16

I would start with PERSONAL INTERPERTATION of the Bible.

First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” 2 Peter 1:20

There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 2 Peter 3:16


#17

Your words help more than you know. It’s tough, because she’s my friend…and for some reason, gets very angry over Catholicism…as if she thinks I’m a dummy for following the doctrines. The one thing I left her with is that nothing in the Cathecism is BAD for us…everything is meant to guide us, mold us…in His image. She did think about that one. I’m not a great debater…I mean, I am on some levels…but, I hesitate to start ‘one upping’ her with what I know, etc…I will take your words to heart, and pray. Thanks!


#18

Oh wow–that’s great! Question though…if someone were to ask…‘why does the Pope have authority to interpret Scripture, then?’ What might be a ‘good’ answer to that?


#19

LOL–I love it…I just might!:smiley: HA! That’s terrific. She would love it…she loves to debate.:slight_smile:


#20

You can say Jesus only started ONE Church and left the interpretations of the Bible to the Bishops. Ask her how far
back she can trace her Church .

And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. Matthew 16: 18-19

Tell her that, St.Peter was the first Pope of the Catholic Church.


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