Lets Just Focus on our Agreements!


#1

How do you all respond, when discussing and apologizing for the Catholic faith to others, and they respond with a plea to stop debating and just focus on what we have in common. Usually this is followed by pointing out something like, “We are both Christians, and there are many others out there who don’t even know Christ…that is who we need to evangelize to, not each other.”

After debating eternal security for some time, I was told, “this debate is pointless, for all christians love God, love Christ, and love good. Therefore, with or without eternal security, it is best to do what the Lord desires. I think the main thing to remember during all this, that whether you believe “once saved, always saved” or if you believe you can lose your salvation, the important thing is not really to debate this subject in too great of detail…we need to focus on improving our walk with Jesus.”

What is an appropriate response to give, to uphold the necessity of such discussion in coming towards one truth?

All I could respond with was: 1 Tim. 1:3 Paul says “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” and Titus 1:9 “he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

Thanks for your thoughts and answers.


#2

While it is true that you must pick your battles, it might be helpful to point out their own inconsistencies. Would they stop professing their faith in Jesus just so they could avoid offending people or so that they could work toward the common goal of “just being good people” (whatever that means)?

I doubt it.

Ironically, this minimalism is the result of picking and choosing your own beliefs, whether due to “sola scriptura” or modern moral relativism. When everyone becomes their own final authority, nothing is final.


#3

[quote=michaelgazin]How do you all respond, when discussing and apologizing for the Catholic faith to others, and they respond with a plea to stop debating and just focus on what we have in common. Usually this is followed by pointing out something like, “We are both Christians, and there are many others out there who don’t even know Christ…that is who we need to evangelize to, not each other.”

After debating eternal security for some time, I was told, “this debate is pointless, for all christians love God, love Christ, and love good. Therefore, with or without eternal security, it is best to do what the Lord desires. I think the main thing to remember during all this, that whether you believe “once saved, always saved” or if you believe you can lose your salvation, the important thing is not really to debate this subject in too great of detail…we need to focus on improving our walk with Jesus.”

What is an appropriate response to give, to uphold the necessity of such discussion in coming towards one truth?

All I could respond with was: 1 Tim. 1:3 Paul says “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” and Titus 1:9 “he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

Thanks for your thoughts and answers.
[/quote]

**The best thing to do is to know how to do apologetics. You must do it in an inoffensive manner, kindly, clearly, and always be ready for a counter attack. If the person shows in the tone of voice or body language that they are unwilling to listen or reason, then you stop immediately because it’s a waste of time. **

When they come with that “we’re all Christians we should focus on those who…” at least you know their not anti-catholic, but only in heresy. When they start saying “I don’t think I’m going to hell for not…” you point out how they can. When they say “We’re brothers and sisters in Christ and his church…” show them how important physical unity is, and how the Church described in scripture is the Catholic Church. If then they say “yes, but the church has since got corrupt…” you address their misconception and prove how the Church can not fail in teaching matters of Faith and morals.


#4

** You must do it in an inoffensive manner, kindly, clearly, and always be ready for a counter attack. If the person shows in the tone of voice or body language that they are unwilling to listen or reason, then you stop immediately because it’s a waste of time. **

Bears repeating.


#5

This reminds me of a story I heard the other day, told by a priest, Rev. Larry Richards. He relates that one of his parishioners was planning on leaving the Church. His father asked Fr. Richards to talk to his son, Timmy. When Fr. Richards met with him, Timmy told him about his plans. Fr. Richards asked him, “What’s wrong, do you doubt the primacy of the Pope”.
“Oh no, Father, I fully understand and believe in the primacy of the Pope, and all that”.
“Well, do you doubt the Immaculate Conception?”, he asked.
“Father, I believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception, in her perpetual virginity, and in her Assumption”, Timmy replied.
“So is it the Real Presence in the Eucharist that’s bothering you?”
“No, Father, I believe in the Real Presence, and all the Sacraments that the Church teaches”, Timmy said.
“So, Timmy, what is it that’s bothering you about the Catholic Church”?
“Father”, Timmy said, “I’ve gone to this parish for 18 years, and I’ve never felt loved. That’s why I’m leaving the Catholic Church”.

In our debates, sometimes I feel we are missing out on Christ’s most important commandment, “To love one another, as I have loved you”, while concentrating on proving that We are right (even though we’ve been through these same debates over and over again), (Well, at least ya’ll have).

NotWorthy


#6

[quote=michaelgazin]… “this debate is pointless, for all christians love God, love Christ, and love good. Therefore, with or without eternal security, it is best to I think the main thing to do what the Lord desires. remember during all this, that whether you believe “once saved, always saved” or if you believe you can lose your salvation, the important thing is not really to debate this subject in too great of detail…we need to focus on improving our walk with Jesus.”…
[/quote]

Hmmph. Let’s take it apart:
**“this debate is pointless” **- read: “I’m losing.”

“all christians love God, love Christ, and love good” - Right…but which Christ?!? I suppose my biggest problem with the “just me and Jesus” guys is that they, by and large, do not offer Christ latria. They seek to be “buddies” with God, which isn’t wrong in and of itself, but they fail to respect Christ with the humility and reverence with which they should. I had one guy tell me that he negotiated with God all the time and told God how he thought things should be, and that’s the way it was supposed to work. In my head I was screaming, *"*ARE YOU FREAKIN’ CRAZY!?! WHERE WERE YOU WHEN HE CREATED THE EARTH, OR TOLD THE WIND HOW TO BLOW?!? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TO TALK TO GOD THAT WAY?!?" What came out was more along the lines of, “Well…I suppose Job tried that tact…didn’t seem to work out too well for him.”

“the main thing to do what the Lord desires.” - Right…and that’s what you were discussing. When they say that the fine points really don’t matter, they’re saying that some of the things Jesus and the Holy Spirit had to say aren’t really that important. They’re not worth getting spun-up about. I reject that flatly, and so should they!
**
“the important thing is not really to debate this subject in too great of detail” - **Tell that to the Judiazers, or the Nicolaitans for that matter!

Revelation 2:15
Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

Yeah…that’s Jesus talking. Whether or not the Nicolaitans wanted to do what they thought God wanted was irrelevant - they taught unsound doctrine, and God didn’t like it; in fact, He said he hated it. Better take care not to duplicate the mistake, as not nice things tend to happen to those whom God hates!

“we need to focus on improving our walk with Jesus.” - On this point, they are entirely correct. Again, however, the problem is *which *path you think Jesus is walking, and how badly you want to take that path to get to where He’s going. If you follow the wrong path, there’s no guarentee that you’ll end up where Jesus does. The Bible and the Church give us that path - the map, the compass, the flashlight, and the granolas to get us there. If you take away the food supply (read: Bread of Life), leave the flashlight behind (read: Light of the Magisterium), ditch the compass (read: ignore the Pope), and rip up the map (read: deuterocannon), do you really think you’re going to make it?

But…again…say it with love.

May God bless you and keep you, my friend,
RyanL


#7

This is pretty ridiculous. If anything, it’s just flat out self-centered. If he really did believe in the Real Presence, he would know Jesus’ love and the love of random people in the parish would be insignificant. Plus, as St. Francis puts it:

***Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved
as to love…***:thumbsup:


#8

Focusing on agreements is a good starting point to evangelization. But it does not stop there. We have to discuss our differences because that is what Christ told his Apostles to do. I think we often seem to believe that evangelization = apologetics, when evangelization is so much more. Let’s remember the charity! God Bless.


#9

[quote=Roree] I think we often seem to believe that evangelization = apologetics, when evangelization is so much more. Let’s remember the charity! God Bless.
[/quote]

I like thinking about it this way: Evangelism is spreading the good news; apologetics is answering objections to it. So, they kind of go hand in hand. It’s kind of funny, but focusing on agreement is a bit of a waste of evangelizing energy. Why tell them them the good news they already know? We need to tell them the good news they don’t know or what they are mistaken about:thumbsup: .


#10

[quote=Genesis315]This is pretty ridiculous. If anything, it’s just flat out self-centered. If he really did believe in the Real Presence, he would know Jesus’ love and the love of random people in the parish would be insignificant. Plus, as St. Francis puts it:

***Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved
as to love…***:thumbsup:
[/quote]

Wow, you entirely missed the point! The posting is meant to remind US to Love one another, not to be loved. When we are evangelizing, we need to be more Christ-like. And what is it to be Christ-like? To love unconditionally. This does not come across when we are brow-beating people with our Church Doctrines.

Notworthy


#11

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Galatians 5:22 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, [font=Tahoma]patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.[/font]

When we do not show these qualities, how can we really be credible witnesses? :love:

If we do not show these qualities, do we really have God in our lives?


#12

[quote=Genesis315]I like thinking about it this way: Evangelism is spreading the good news; apologetics is answering objections to it. So, they kind of go hand in hand. It’s kind of funny, but focusing on agreement is a bit of a waste of evangelizing energy. Why tell them them the good news they already know? We need to tell them the good news they don’t know or what they are mistaken about:thumbsup: .
[/quote]

Focusing on agreement is one of the tools that Paul used. I find it interesting when people (such as “staunch” Catholics) say indignantly, “I’m not going to change around anybody because I’m proud of my religion.” Well, that’s nice but Paul saw a different strategy. You act like the people you’re around in order to win them over.

It isn’t like you walk up to someone, give them a quick exam and proceed to operate on those parts that are sick. They wouldn’t stand for it.

Finding areas of agreement is only a waste of time to a wannabe drive-through apologetic sniper. That would be the kind of apologist that is so right and so important that a few words of fellowship are a distraction, not an important component of, his mission.

Discussing areas of agreement is a powerful way to gain trust of the person you are going to evangelize. It is also a way to survey how they think now so you know what they need to get on the right track.

Some people think good manners are a waste of time, but there’s a lot to be said in how we present ourselves as to whether they are going to even hear the Magic Bullet we wish to offer them.

You see, I am not a two-faced person. In fact, you might say I’m multi-faceted. :wink:

When I see that someone is not accepting my message well, I adjust and find a different approach to see if that helps. Talking about what we have in common gives me a bit of test runs to see what sort of reasoning and logic make sense to this person. In this way, I sneak into his psyche like a thief in the night.

Don’t believe Paul was a chameleon? His words:

[quote=1 Cor 19-23]Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law–though I myself am not under the law–to win over those under the law. To those outside the law I became like one outside the law–though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ–to win over those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.

All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have share in it.

[/quote]

That’s how you win people. You act like you’re one of them, not like you’re better than them and don’t they wish they were more like you. (Of course you may think that but don’t let on to it. :smiley: )

Certain Catholics seem to have a problem where we are so drilled in judging ourselves by our outward behavior, that we confuse compliance with faith. We think that we have to wear “I am a Catholic” signs lest anyone see that we’re happy and want to know why. That’s a shortcut that doesn’t work. Obedience to His commands apply to matters of the heart at least as much as matter of ritual and tradition. A person who knows only a tiny bit of Church teachings, but has empathy and social skills, is much more likely to reach an outsider than a person who presents himself a walking encyclopedia or advertisement for All Matters Catholic.

Alan


#13

[quote=Roman_Army]**The best thing to do is to know how to do apologetics. You must do it in an inoffensive manner, kindly, clearly, and always be ready for a counter attack. If the person shows in the tone of voice or body language that they are unwilling to listen or reason, then you stop immediately because it’s a waste of time. **

.
[/quote]

Precisely, what* they* say.


#14

[quote=NotWorthy]This reminds me of a story I heard the other day, told by a priest, Rev. Larry Richards. He relates that one of his parishioners was planning on leaving the Church. His father asked Fr. Richards to talk to his son, Timmy. When Fr. Richards met with him, Timmy told him about his plans. Fr. Richards asked him, “What’s wrong, do you doubt the primacy of the Pope”.
“Oh no, Father, I fully understand and believe in the primacy of the Pope, and all that”.
“Well, do you doubt the Immaculate Conception?”, he asked.
“Father, I believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception, in her perpetual virginity, and in her Assumption”, Timmy replied.
“So is it the Real Presence in the Eucharist that’s bothering you?”
“No, Father, I believe in the Real Presence, and all the Sacraments that the Church teaches”, Timmy said.
“So, Timmy, what is it that’s bothering you about the Catholic Church”?
“Father”, Timmy said, “I’ve gone to this parish for 18 years, and I’ve never felt loved. That’s why I’m leaving the Catholic Church”.

In our debates, sometimes I feel we are missing out on Christ’s most important commandment, “To love one another, as I have loved you”, while concentrating on proving that We are right (even though we’ve been through these same debates over and over again), (Well, at least ya’ll have).

NotWorthy
[/quote]

He went to church to find love?? Did he think the church was a dating service?? I go to church to worship God and Our Lord. I am not there for entertainment, make friends, please my wife, or to find love. That I have made friends in SOME parishes, that my wife fully supports me, is a bonus. Where did we get this idea that church is some sort of social therapy experience. This is not to say that we should not welcome people, nor that we should not love our fellow Christians, but this is NOT why we come to church and if HUMAN LOVE is all that binds us to the Church then we have lost the true meaning of Christianity.


#15

[quote=InnocentIII]…I go to church to worship God and Our Lord. I am not there for entertainment…
[/quote]

Too many people go to Church to “learn how to live” - not me. I go to Church to “learn how to die” so that *Christ *might live in me. It’s this “fill me with joy and excitement, while I do nothing” mentality that has self-centered Catholics leaving the pews, and it’s our collective fault that we never taught them this way of worship. Hopefully there’s still time to change their hearts.

InnocentIII, you’re completely right.

May God have mercy on me, a sinner,
RyanL


#16

[quote=InnocentIII]He went to church to find love?? Did he think the church was a dating service?? I go to church to worship God and Our Lord. I am not there for entertainment, make friends, please my wife, or to find love. That I have made friends in SOME parishes, that my wife fully supports me, is a bonus. Where did we get this idea that church is some sort of social therapy experience. This is not to say that we should not welcome people, nor that we should not love our fellow Christians, but this is NOT why we come to church and if HUMAN LOVE is all that binds us to the Church then we have lost the true meaning of Christianity.
[/quote]

Who said anything about a dating service?!?! We are called to evangelize. Where does evangelizing begin? First in the family, second in the parish, and third to the rest of the world. Our Parish is our Family, is it not? If people come to our Church, unsure of themselves and their faith, and do not feel welcome, they are going to move on, and we’ve missed out on a chance to evangelize.

Remember, the goal is not just to get to heaven, but to bring along as many souls as we can!

Not to belabor the point, but Jesus’ greatest commandment was to “love one another, as I have loved you”. Do you expect to convert people just because you are right and they are wrong? How many arguments have you won in this fashion? Jesus’ conversion sermons were all about love, nothing more and nothing less.

NotWorthy


#17

That passage about Paul becoming one to win over one is something I can say amen to.

There are many different situations in which we have to kind of adapt to or ease into evangelization. Focusing on agreements doesn’t mean agreeing or backing down to doctrine but showing you too believe in the Bible. Show how you read the Bible too, but did they ever think where it came from? Show that you love Jesus, but you are humble and loving about it.

I was talking to some people from the Door,(which is a sometimes agressive in it’s preaching) and I did try to focus on the importance of the Bible and took mine out to show them. We had a good conversation and he was surprised that a Catholic would even read the Bible with him. When he started going on a diatribe about sinners and how they were going to hell I pointed out
Peter 3:15-16
"but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame."

He agreed with me and toned down. Later on when I met him again he actually said was very charitable about the Church and complimented The Passion of the Christ, saying he was surprised about the Catholic Church.

So yes, focusing on our agreements should be encouraged, but truth should never be watered down.

God Bless
Scylla


#18

[quote=NotWorthy]Who said anything about a dating service?!?! We are called to evangelize. Where does evangelizing begin? First in the family, second in the parish, and third to the rest of the world. Our Parish is our Family, is it not? If people come to our Church, unsure of themselves and their faith, and do not feel welcome, they are going to move on, and we’ve missed out on a chance to evangelize.

Remember, the goal is not just to get to heaven, but to bring along as many souls as we can!

Not to belabor the point, but Jesus’ greatest commandment was to “love one another, as I have loved you”. Do you expect to convert people just because you are right and they are wrong? How many arguments have you won in this fashion? Jesus’ conversion sermons were all about love, nothing more and nothing less.

NotWorthy
[/quote]

The original anecdote was about a young man who had been a member of the Church for 18 years and left because he never felt loved. How is this so? Are we not loved by Our Lord Jesus Christ? and do we not come to church to worship that same Lord really present in the Sacrament?? So is he saying he never felt loved by Jesus? or is he saying that the parishioners never showed him love? If the latter then he is guilty of narcissistic self-absorption. Yes it is nice to make friends at church, great to be part of the family of the Church, but we are called to the Church through faith in Our Lord Jesus not as a therapeutic experience. Our Lord spoke of love yes, but he also spoke of sacrifice, of division in families, of rejection for His sake. Let’s not confuse the modern world’s obsession with individual emotional needs with Christ’s teachings on love.


#19

The appendix to my St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism puts it this way. Apologetics are to help the Catholic be firm in his faith by showing it is in accordance with reason. (I would also add that it helps remove barriers for people close to converting but still have difficulties.) But it generally does not win converts. The Holy Spirit and good example do that.

As far as practical advice when someone gives you the “can’t we all just get along?” routine is to agree with them, but continue to inculcate Catholic theology because it is an interconnected, living whole.

Scott


#20

[quote=InnocentIII]The original anecdote was about a young man who had been a member of the Church for 18 years and left because he never felt loved. How is this so? Are we not loved by Our Lord Jesus Christ? and do we not come to church to worship that same Lord really present in the Sacrament??

[/quote]

We are indeed loved. Whether we “feel” it is another story. Most people I know only know about the love of God intellectually, and from brief moments of relief maybe. He may be telling the truth; he never felt loved in the Church, and you are also right that in fact, he IS loved by Christ. Therefore his feelings are not reliable as universal love detectors.

So is he saying he never felt loved by Jesus? or is he saying that the parishioners never showed him love? If the latter then he is guilty of narcissistic self-absorption. Yes it is nice to make friends at church, great to be part of the family of the Church, but we are called to the Church through faith in Our Lord Jesus not as a therapeutic experience.

Looked at the other way, it is good to go to Church and go through the ritual and receive the sacraments, but without a the feeling of communion with others it is a rather empty experience.

I think our faith in our Lord Jesus should create a therapeutic experience. The whole point of giving our wills and hearts to God is to “be transformed” in mind, which brings emotional healing by the Divine Therapist (the Holy Spirit). When the woman touched Jesus’ robe she was healed; that was therapeutic. Communion is therapeutic. If we are not improved by our faith (and therefore religion is not therapeutic) then frankly, what’s it good for?

Of course, the original story was about a kid who was looking for human therapy, and didn’t realize the therapeutic value of the sacraments, making you both right in that regard.

Our Lord spoke of love yes, but he also spoke of sacrifice, of division in families, of rejection for His sake. Let’s not confuse the modern world’s obsession with individual emotional needs with Christ’s teachings on love.

You are right that people in the Church can be trying, divisive, and reject each other. We have to get past that and look to God, of course. At the same time, all things being equal I think there are psychological advantages, in addition to spiritual advantages, to people in the Church behaving warmly to each other, so that they can help each other heal from rejection rather than dishing it out right there in the pews.

My guess is that in any given case like this, either this is a “dead” parish, or the kid really didn’t extend himself out to the others. I find that when I am somewhere I’m supposed to be and people are not very close, often I can strike up a conversation and help people get interested in each other. This kid needs me to go with him to Church a couple times; then I could show him how to go create the close atmosphere he craves instead of wishing somebody else would do it.

What if every other person in the Church felt the same way, but nobody said anything because they all thought the others were stand-offish. That place might be ready to explode in fellowship with a little kindling to the fire that is the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

Alan


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