Have you ever wonder how the Apostles defended the faith? They did it civilly, and by the end, you will be a more effective apologist all because you learned these six rules. In a future article, I will explain how the Bible can’t prove Catholicism wrong, but for now, I explain the rules. Moreover, when we defend, we do so not to argue or win a debate, but to be Ambassadors for Christ. So, here are six rules to defend like the first Christian Ambassadors, the Apostles:
1. Don’t Be Afraid
“Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10). It is scary to defend the faith. You are scared of two things 1) sounding like you do not know the answer or 2) you do not want your friends or those you know to reject you. The former, I have a solution: study. The latter, you need to calm down and realise some things. As Catholics, we are not respecters of men. Ask yourself, “How do I know I will be rejected?” In reality, if you are rejected no big deal, most people aren’t going to make you a martyr for teaching Catholicism if they inquire in some way about it. And, if they do, you still have me. Though, I have to say that people love hearing and discussing God. So, give it a chance.
2. I Do Not Know
Never be afraid of saying, “I do not know.” However, you had better tell them you will find the answer. Then, give it to them. If someone asks you a question and you do not know the answer, be honest. Your objective is truth, not winning arguments. All most every time, someone asks me a question on the Faith, I follow this rule. Even if I know the answer, it reassures them that I care about the truth and I am not trying to win a debate.
Has someone attacked you for your faith? I have. I think most have unless you are a hermit, and I know you are not a hermit. The key is to accept attacks as the same thing as honest questions: an opportunity. An attack is an opportunity to share the Truth. Attacks are good-natured, meaning the attacker is trying to save you or thinks you are in a dangerous cult. Keep this in mind. Though they are mistaken, still show mercy and charity.
Never get frustrated. You should only engage in civil discourse. This is part of you becoming an Ambassador. It can be frustrating to do the theological merry-go-around. I can get frustrated with this method of debate by those I have discourse within the realm of apologetics. Just remember their attempt to confuse is a bad attempt to persuade you and save you. This is somewhat noble. Stay firm, do not ever react, and be patient. As they get off track, remember to stay focused.
5. Stay Focused
Ever been on a merry-go-round? Hard to focus. Same thing for discussing theology. If they ask you about Mary, stay on Mary until you have said all you have to say on Mary. If they start saying, “What about…” you need calmly to say that you would like to focus on the subject and you can discuss that later. Other methods work, but that is what I do to stay focused on one topic.
6. Know Who You are Talking to
If you are talking to someone whose knowledge about Catholicism amounts to the Pope is Catholic and so are you, it might not be a good idea to start with the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome. Plainly, they do not believe anything the Catholic Church teaches. So, Sacred Tradition, Councils, oral teachings, &c. do not mean much to them. The mean something only to us, that is reasonable, wouldn’t you say? If you are talking to Protestants, you will have to stick to the Bible. Even better, start with where Christian’s get their canon of Scripture.
Following these six rules will make you a better Ambassador. It will help you defend the faith and show those who you talk to that you are after the truth and not just after a win. This is important. So, I will repeat it for the third time. As Catholics, we are after the Truth, and not just trying to win an argument. We are not debaters, but Ambassadors.
Do you have any rules for when you put on your apologist hat? Share them in the inbox!
Remember, if you want to get a hold of me you can contact me on twitter @chrisorbuster.