When do we LISTEN, and when do we CORRECT?


This is a pretty verbose post. Here’s the short version if you’re short on time:

-I talked with a friend

-Friend talks about evils of religion

-I tried listening and agreeing to some valid points, and throwing in an occasional “but what about x situation…?” in the hopes they might consider a different viewpoint and and be open to the possibility of being wrong in other contexts

-Friends final word uses the metaphor of a glass of water with a drop of contaminants in it to describe the Bible. To paraphrase: “Even if you pour the glass of slightly contaminated water into a different glass, it isn’t any less contaminated. So how can the Bible, which has been tampered with by so many people over the centuries, still be the absolute truth of God?”

-I post this thread and pose the question for discussion: How might one better define when to simply hear out what ones convictions, and when to try to correct errors based on misconceptions, etc.?

Onto the post:

Maybe I’m just upset because I don’t like it when someone seems sure they’re right. :shrug: I just read about hindsight bias and overconfidence as described from a psychological perspective the other day after all…

I just got done with talking with a neighbor about how things are going with life in general, and as usual we end up talking for well over an hour about all sorts of random stuff.

Towards the end, the topic managed to shift towards religion, and its effects on society. One of the main themes was the crusades and the idea that religion, when believed in strongly enough, leads to trying to force others to believe in religion. The other theme was that this was bad because forcing the belief of oneself upon another denies them the right to use their intelligence to reason, to learn, and ultimately use these for the betterment of mankind.

For the most part, I had been patiently listening. After all, he didn’t seem to have the attitude of the “gospel-esque” scribes and pharisees, but rather that of a person genuinely revolted with clear injustice. I agreed that forcing beliefs in this way was wrong, and on many other points. I was hoping this openness would cause him to consider that, while religion was involved in these evils, it wasn’t the ultimate cause of them.

I did make some effort to try to point out that the Catholic Church doesn’t stifle learning and reasoning (which ultimately are actually as temporal as rocks and dirt, a point I also tried and failed to validate). I described the Catechism of the Catholic Church as evidence of this, and tried to describe how well thought out and reasoned the written statement on what Catholics truly believe are. “Almost as detailed as a lawyer might write something” was the description I gave.

I guess that made the Church look even more evil. “Like lawyers!? That’s even worse!” It wonder if my attempt at correction was ultimately a poor decision.

Finally, there was his statement on the Bible. The paraphrase at the top of the post pretty much says it. I agreed with him that “that makes sense.” I was hoping that something “making sense” would ultimately be a red flag for him, like it is for me as of late. Of course, there are a ton of possibilities you could throw in that would make it not make sense anymore.

It felt as though regardless of whether I was listening or whether I was saying anything, the conviction against religion, particularly the Church, was only going to get worse. I can do naught but pray and keep learning and try to get more good info to give people.

Should I have said more? Should I have said nothing? When people attempt to evangelize in general, how do they determine when to speak and when to listen? Obviously, reliance on the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the most important aspect, but perhaps input from those who the Holy Spirit has successfully worked through would make his future intervention easier?


I think having confidence is important - not arrogance, mind you, but confidence. We often find ourselves in a defensive position but I find it beneficial to steer conversations away from the negative rhetoric and into a more personal arena. Using my experience as an example and asking TONS of questions usually brings about a more productive conversation. It can be disarming when someone is on a rant against religion or the Church to be asked personal questions about their own experience. Anyone can rail about the crusades but really, it’s so middle ages! Better to focus on what the real gripe is.

I also don’t think we should FORCE conversations to turn into evangelization scenes. Sometimes people just want to talk and the best Christian witness we can offer is to listen. In my experience, when God wants me to speak up for His Church, He provides a clear opportunity!:thumbsup:


I only know exCatholics here, or I should say strayed Catholics, the one Catholic I knew well, I don’t know where he is. I have the 1994 Catechism and I’ve not added corrections to it. I have been listening to the Catechism online (TTS reader). I should eventually buy a new one and share it.


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