I am a protestant (and former Catholic) and I notice that sometimes when Catholics and Evangelicals discuss what they believe, they end up speaking past each other, speaking confrontationally, or get into secondary issues such as the immorality of priests or other things. How can we better dialogue with each other on the primary issues that divide us without being too argumentative or mean-spirited. I would be interested in your thoughts. Disclaimer: I do not intend for this to be a platform to discuss which side is right but rather for us to be able to discuss how to better dialogue.
Both sides can get into point-scoring and a kind of ‘shotgun apologetics’ (throw a bunch of points at the person, ensuring they can’t answer them all) as opposed to a conversation centered around mutual enrichment of faith.
Ive been wondering about this for many years now, i will be lurking in hopes of reading something refreshing.
Befriend them. Relate to them as people on such a level that by the time you discuss such heavy topics your level of tact and desire to not accidentally insult them by striking at the heart of their beliefs is in place.
Once you’ve had success doing that, just behave that way in dialogues with strangers too.
Always remember that insulting someone’s mother doesn’t go well. For over a billion Catholics, that’s Our Lady.
Well it is easy to say and hard to do. Really listen to each other. Stay on topic, one issue at a time.
Both sides often have deep seeded beliefs so that makes it hard. It might also help if there was a time of reflection on what was said. The truth, IMO is that arguments seldom end in conversion. Faith is a gift and we have to be open to receive it. Sometimes something said can stir us into further inquire. Then we become seekers, looking for the truth.
I also hope but I suspect I hope in vain.
Do you think that we should be more interested in listening rather than making points?
I believe that you have made great points. I think that many protestants are not sure what Catholics believe and are reluctant to dialogue for fear of offending them. I remember having a conversation with my mom and I referred to Mary and she was offended that I just said Mary and not “Holy Mary.” I didn’t mean to offend her but apparently I did. I often offend Catholics without even meaning to. How can I be more tactful knowing that Catholics view many things to be sacred and cherish certain traditions?
The more time goes by, the more I am recognizing and appreciating that the only way to really evangelize and share our faith is to love people. If you are not friends, and if there is not the sense that you care for each other, it’s more likely to lead to bickering rather than dialogue.
By approaching it as a sharing of beliefs instead of an attempt to evangelize?
I think the arguing and the talking over each other comes because each side is trying to prove that they’re right and the other side is wrong.
If it was instead an exchange of beliefs it would be a far calmer, friendlier exchange. I should know. I’ve had many such exchanges with Mormon friends, atheist friends and agnostic friends.
I’m a cradle Catholic and don’t say “Holy Mary,” so that’s an idiosyncrasy with your mom. Your point is a good one, however. I find the same hesitation is talking to any sincerely religious people. When religion is your life and your love, we always risk offending. I think, for me, my friends who just ask questions at the start and really listen are then people I want to dialogue with. For example, someone who says: I see that you are Catholic. What do you love about that faith? How do you practice it? Tell me more.
This is the opposite of people immediately closing down conversation by saying something like (as I heard someone say yesterday in a group I was in): Oh, you’re Catholic. I’ve experienced a lot of hypocrisy in the Catholic Church. Or, gosh terrible things are happening with the sexual abuses crisis.
I don’t dialogue with those sort of people.
“Oh sweetie, do you love Jesus? Do you have him in your heart?”
“… I mean, I eat him every week, so yeah…”
Ok, I’ve never said the last line but the first two lines have happened numerous times. It’s either ‘But do you love Jesus’ or it’s ‘So you like child diddling priests eh?’
When I hear those things I know there’s no point attempting a dialogue.
I would hope that a person you are talking to would not be easily offended by someone talking in good faith whose missteps were out if ignorance.
I see what you mean about if you don’t know enough about what they believe it can be difficult.
The times I’ve felt the Church was insulted(i could care less about someone insulting me) is when it sounds like they got their information about the Church from some awful Jack Chick tracks.
Evangelicals and Catholics would converse much more effectively if nobody involved has read or is trying to draw from Jack Chick.
My thought is better dialogue would come from asking and being willing to and able to answer questions.
Like you said quite often we end up speaking past each other. I remember a thread a few weeks back where this near impossible to define question was asked. People started asking questions and the OP came right out and said if you can’t answer my question don’t post, I’ve spoken to many apologists and no one can answer my question. I don’t have time to answer everyone’s questions I just need an answer. Well no wonder no one could give a good answer they couldn’t figure out what was being asked and to be honest I don’t think the OP knew exactly every angle of what they were asking either.
Anyway back on topic, I try my best to answer every question that someone brings up about the Catholic Church, just wish more non-Catholics I dialogue with would be willing to do the same about their church so I could see how their different teachings all line up. Catholics are at a definite disadvantage here because most non-Catholic denominations don’t have a readily available Catechism that we can search to find out how they are defining something.
Also, if we are talking about having a better dialogue on this forum I would recommend the OP making sure they put their question in the correct Category. Seems like a lot gets dumped into Apologetics that isn’t Apologetics.
For instance you are posting in the Apologetics (defending the faith) category and asking everyone here not to defend their side. My thoughts would be a question on better dialogue would go more into the Non-Catholic or the Catholic Living section.
Finally, it drives me crazy when you type till the word limit runs out and the other person responds with you are taking that out of context and no other reasoning. Well if it’s out of context explain why, break down the why’s of the verses in question and point out why you feel your context is correct. But to ignore what someone wrote and just flat out tell them they are wrong is mean-spirited in my book.
Dialogue is good, questions are good, silence is bad.
Do your dialogues in person, rather than online. Its easy to become intemperate and start engaging in or being baited into flame wars.
When I bought my first computer 20 years ago, Gateway included a brochure on “netiquette” which I think isn’t really considered nowadays.
I do agree that some Protestants are misinformed. However, I think that many people dismiss others because they don’t agree with them. Is quoting (in context) the Cathechism of the Catholic Church and other official Catholic sources a good way to show that you care about accurately representing their position? I assume so but it might not be.
How does worship music relate to seeing how Evangelical and Catholics can better dialogue?
Some evangelicals consider Catholics to not be Christians. This would obviously be a non-starter.