Why Apologetics?


#1

I understand the need for strong teaching and reference sources for Catholics (and those interested in the faith). However, what good do we do when we tend to lean towards arguing or debating with people who do not believe in the fullness of truth? I cannot think of one time in my life when a person converted because of a debate or argument.

Wouldn’t the Kingdom be better served if each one of us simply gave witness to our faith in the way we live, rather then in the clever and quite defensive way in which we have learned to argue and debate?


#2

One of the greatest witnesses to the faith was Pope John Paul II, and he provided that great witness by the way he lived, not by how well he could argue or debate.

Apologetics are used–in the current culture–as weapons for debate and aruguing with non-Catholics and for Catholics on the edge. How does this help?


#3

It’s not that apologetics are really arguing. They are telling why we do this, that and the other. Why we believe this, that or the other. Also to explain why we do this, that or the other. :smiley:


#4

Hi Paris,

I can understand explaining the faith to those interested, in fact we are mandated to be prepared to do so. However, I think Catholics today tend to fall quickly into defensive postures and sink into debates and arguments, rather then evangelizing through the way they live.

Examples: If Catholics went to Mass every day, they could let those around them know how much receiving daily Graces help them. Or, Catholics could be very open and positive about value of confession. If we say these things with true heart-felt joy and peace, that will help to soften many hearts to the truth. If, on the other hand, we are aggresive and “just waiting” for a fight, then people will not get a favorable view of us or the faith and they will steer clear of both.


#5

While I agree that most face-to-face debates do little to help someone determined to stick to his ideas (mostly because he sees everything through the lens of his sect’s mind set). But, here on the board we get a lot of lurkers and seekers who have the same questions, who really want to know what answer we Catholics have for them, but who would never ask about them themselves.

So, if I engage someone who I know has no intention of actually listening to my points, I think of those lurkers and seekers, some of whom have privately contacted me to thank me for giving answers that are direct, clear, and yet charitable. :wink:

Besides, we cannot know another’s heart. I used to be a fire-breathing anti-Catholic, too. But, through reading careful arguments and meeting Catholics who wouldn’t roll over and play dead when challenged, I came to see that the teachings of the Church were correct and that my mind set was wrong.


#6

Della,

Thank you. :slight_smile:

Jesus never rolled over and played dead either. He presented Himself as the lamb who came to save us and to teach us. He converted hearts by His living, breathing example…not by cleverly crafted arguments. In fact, He often tore apart the clever arguements of the Jews that approached Him by simply stating the truth.

Being prepared to discuss the truth and joy of our faith is something all Catholics should do, yet all too often Catholics fall into a war-like mode.


#7

I would agree that apologetics is often misused. With rare exceptions, it doesn’t make the best evangelization tool.

But for those who already have some level of Faith, apologetics is a good tool for confirming that Faith or for directing that person towards deeper Faith.


#8

[quote=TPJCatholic]I understand the need for strong teaching and reference sources for Catholics (and those interested in the faith). However, what good do we do when we tend to lean towards arguing or debating with people who do not believe in the fullness of truth? I cannot think of one time in my life when a person converted because of a debate or argument.

Wouldn’t the Kingdom be better served if each one of us simply gave witness to our faith in the way we live, rather then in the clever and quite defensive way in which we have learned to argue and debate?
[/quote]

I agree. However, it is important to remember that apologetics is not used to evangalize. It is used, in the Catholic sense, for defense. There are those out there who would like to see the Catholic faith reduced to ruin. The major part of their attacks is not based in facts, but a total lack of knowledge on their part. This is why we have to defend ourselves. You do not win converts through debate. You win converts by dispelling the lies. Rome wins her own converts, but it is our job to make sure the truth of Rome is known.


#9

[quote=TPJCatholic]Della,

Thank you. :slight_smile:

Jesus never rolled over and played dead either. He presented Himself as the lamb who came to save us and to teach us. He converted hearts by His living, breathing example…not by cleverly crafted arguments. In fact, He often tore apart the clever arguements of the Jews that approached Him by simply stating the truth.
[/quote]

Of course, he didn’t make many “converts”, either from among those who were determined to stick to their mind set. :wink:

Being prepared to discuss the truth and joy of our faith is something all Catholics should do, yet all too often Catholics fall into a war-like mode.

Yes, it’s a great temptation to beat the other person over the head. But, it only ratchets up the emotions and so clouds the issue. I too try to simply present the truth with love, but people being people it doesn’t always help. All we can do is help those who are willing to be helped, isn’t it? :tiphat:


#10

sadie,

As I stated in the op, I agree that apologetic materials have their place. Yet, they are often used as battle zone wepaons and imo that just will not help anyone.


#11

Della,

IMO, the best help we can be for those in our lives is to visibly live the faith, talk to them when they have a true open heart, and to offer up mortifications and prayers for them in humility. The rest is, and always will be, up to our Lord and the Holy Spirit.

IMO, we should use the xample set by Christ and by people such as John Paul II…not the warrior.


#12

[quote=TPJCatholic]Della,

IMO, the best help we can be for those in our lives is to visibly live the faith, talk to them when they have a true open heart, and to offer up mortifications and prayers for them in humility. The rest is, and always will be, up to our Lord and the Holy Spirit.

IMO, we should use the xample set by Christ and by people such as John Paul II…not the warrior.
[/quote]

Well, if you aren’t the St. Michael type, like I am, being a warrior must seem like a waste of time. But, if I believed that I wouldn’t be here. I have plenty of other things to do with my time, but I have seen results and I feel compelled to be involved in this kind of apostolate. You may simply be burned out or this sort of thing just isn’t for you, and that’s fine. Can the hand say to the foot, “I don’t need you?” We all have our place and our ministries, yes? :slight_smile:


#13

[quote=TPJCatholic]sadie,

As I stated in the op, I agree that apologetic materials have their place. Yet, they are often used as battle zone wepaons and imo that just will not help anyone.
[/quote]

Then we are all in agreement. The fact that apologetics is misused doesn’t mean that people should not engage in it; only that they should engage in it properly: in charity and for the right purpose. A well-rounded apologist should exhibit holiness and not just knowledge. I am reminded of a passage from Pope Benedict’s just released encyclical, Deus Caritas Est:

If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be “devout” and to perform my “religious duties”, then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely “proper”, but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me.

In a perfect world, apologetics would not be necessary. But if the Faith is misunderstood, misrepresented, or flat-out attacked, a charitable but clear answer needs to be given, or the ignorance will just spread and do harm to innocent souls that no amount of personal holiness on our part can correct. If there was no such thing as anti-Catholicism, apologetics would not need to exist.


#14

Della,

Yes, of course, we all have our place and ministries.

I used to be a warrior myself, not long ago actually. Yet, I have come to view the faith a bit differently. I wonder if we are called to be true warriors, then why wasn’t Christ a warrior (instead of being a lamb)? If we are calledd (any of us) to be warriors, then why did John Paul II help to attract millions to the faith through his love and passive faith?

I am not saying we should ever compromise our faith, we must stand boldly and strongly in what Christ has given us…and to never compromise on ANY truths. However, we do not need to be warriors to do that, we can (and should be imo) be lambs living the truth for all to see.

We are the salt and light of the world…if people see that light in us, they will want to enjoy that same light. If they see a warrior, they will merely pick-up their own sword.


#15

fidelis,

Jesus offers the entire world salvation through the act of His dying passivley on the cross. He could have stopped His own Passion and Death…instead He chose to be the sacrifice that we all need so bad.

Jesus could have called a legion of angels to defend Him. He could have destroyed all non-believers on the spot–yet He came to serve us and to save us and He chose not to lash out at His enemies…He chose to show us what Love really is al about.

And through His passive acts, billions have known Jesus throughout the ages.

How can we do less?

Sure, the truth must be given in love and charity, we agree on that point. Yet, Catholics today set themselves up as warriors for Christ, and yet Christ was not a warrior.

There would be far more converts to the truth if Catholics simply lived their faith for all to see, and lived it in complete joy and openness. Jesus never hid His light, we should not either and if we let Jesus’ light shone through us, then people will notice and they will ask “US” questions about the joy and peace we hold.

We should pray for those around us, offer Masses, say rosaries, say novenas, and mortify ourselves all for the sake of their conversions…and then in the end be ready to answer questions if they approach us.


#16

[quote=TPJCatholic]fidelis,

Jesus offers the entire world salvation through the act of His dying passivley on the cross. He could have stopped His own Passion and Death…instead He chose to be the sacrifice that we all need so bad.

Jesus could have called a legion of angels to defend Him. He could have destroyed all non-believers on the spot–yet He came to serve us and to save us and He chose not to lash out at His enemies…He chose to show us what Love really is al about.

And through His passive acts, billions have known Jesus throughout the ages.

How can we do less?

Sure, the truth must be given in love and charity, we agree on that point. Yet, Catholics today set themselves up as warriors for Christ, and yet Christ was not a warrior.

There would be far more converts to the truth if Catholics simply lived their faith for all to see, and lived it in complete joy and openness. Jesus never hid His light, we should not either and if we let Jesus’ light shone through us, then people will notice and they will ask “US” questions about the joy and peace we hold.

We should pray for those around us, offer Masses, say rosaries, say novenas, and mortify ourselves all for the sake of their conversions…and then in the end be ready to answer questions if they approach us.
[/quote]

I appreciate your sentiments, but I think you are falling into a false dichotmy. It shouldn’t be either or, it must be both. Jesus may not have come as a “warrior” in the extreme sense you are alluding to, but at the same time he never failed to call a spade a spade and in no uncertain terms let people know they were in gross and dangerous error (Just ask the Pharisees who he pronounced seven woes upon for not practicing what they preached. In the Book of ReveIation it explicitly says he will be actively involved in smiting his foes. I won’t even get into the table-turning incident in the Temple, a stunt which if performed today, would get our Lord shipped off to sensitivity training pronto).

Again, resist thinking in either/or terms. One of the great things about being a Catholic is the ability to embrace balance. The balance between truth and love is one of those.


#17

fidelis,

Thank you for your suggestions. :slight_smile: I can assure you that I fully embrace balance and do NOT take an either/or position.

Jesus said that if we live by the sword, we shall die by the sword. Jesus did not live by the sword.

A person can speak the complete truth without being a warrior and without cramming it down a person’s throat through cleverly concocted arguments.

Recall the bread of life discourse. Jesus spoke some very hard truths in that discourse and many people walked away. He let them walk away, He did not force them or coerce them to come to Him. He simply spoke the truth and let hearts go where they will. That is a wonderful example of how we should act…tell the truth, then let the hearts go where they may. We cannot save anyone, God does that. All we can do is to tell the truth and to live our lives in the full truth–letting the light and truth shine through our statements, not through clever arguments and years of apologetic training.


#18

[quote=Fidelis]I appreciate your sentiments, but I think you are falling into a false dichotmy. It shouldn’t be either or, it must be both. Jesus may not have come as a “warrior” in the extreme sense you are alluding to, but at the same time he never failed to call a spade a spade and in no uncertain terms let people know they were in gross and dangerous error (Just ask the Pharisees who he pronounced seven woes upon for not practicing what they preached. In the Book of ReveIation it explicitly says he will be actively involved in smiting his foes. I won’t even get into the table-turning incident in the Temple, a stunt which if performed today, would get our Lord shipped off to sensitivity training pronto).

Again, resist thinking in either/or terms. One of the great things about being a Catholic is the ability to embrace balance. The balance between truth and love is one of those.
[/quote]

I agree completely. I just would like to add, just from my own perspective, that there is a big difference between a clean fight and a dirty one. There is nothing wrong with the clash of swords if the fight is fair and both sides agree to it. I have seen people throw down their swords and run when cornered, but at least they know that someone was willing to step up and defend the Church. They won’t be so eager to engage another knowledgeable Catholic so quickly or make assumptions about the ability of the Church to answer them again. And that too is a part of the process for many people. They have to “wrestle with the angel” before they can be tamed into obedient children of the Church.


#19

Della,

Did Jesus use a sword or His Divine Intellect and Tongue? Did John Paul II or Mother Teresa use swords or their tongues and intellect?

The moment we back pick-up swords, we are seen as warriors, not as loving Christians–we are seen as people to do battle against, rather then people who carry the most important message ever known.

People who carry swords have no room to carry light.


#20

[quote=TPJCatholic]I understand the need for strong teaching and reference sources for Catholics (and those interested in the faith). However, what good do we do when we tend to lean towards arguing or debating with people who do not believe in the fullness of truth? I cannot think of one time in my life when a person converted because of a debate or argument.

Wouldn’t the Kingdom be better served if each one of us simply gave witness to our faith in the way we live, rather then in the clever and quite defensive way in which we have learned to argue and debate?
[/quote]

I think the key word you used in your OP is “defensive”. Apologetics are a tool to defend our faith. Especially against those who believe we are the “whore of babylon” or that we “worship” Mary, etc.

Apologetics are also useful on these Catholic forums when someone from another religion logs on to question our faith in order to learn more (which is OK) or criticize our faith (which is not at all productive). It is usually the latter that leads to uncharitable posts.

So as a defensive tool, apologetics is great. I wish that critical non-catholics would slow down and try to learn more about our Catholic faith rather than just jump in with the false accusations and criticisms. If more people did this, maybe we could have the perfect situation as you describe in your second paragraph.

You do have a point, time is much better spent tryng to live the way Jesus wants us to. And our example, many times, will speak louder than words. But, some people just want to argue, I guess!

Mother Angelica put it very eloquently when she said “There are some people you can talk about Jesus to, and there are some people you must just be Jesus to.”

Pax!


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