Debate or Talk? Print
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 30 March 2007 06:55
Jeff Vihige over at Thursday Night Gumbo has a really interesting post on how those with a minority religious worldview can interact with a the majority secular worldview.

A short summary of Jeff's options:

The religious person can adopt:

1) a ghetto mentality
2) a "liberal" mentality
3) the attitude of open-dialogue with the secular mind

Jeff is proposing:

, i.e., an open consideration of the secular, modern mindset. This attitude rejects the isolationism of the ghetto; it realizes that Christianity, if it is to be effect, cannot exist in a hermetically sealed community. The modern world is asking questions. If Christianity is the truth, then it should be able to answer those questions. If it cannot . . . then do we not have a bigger problem at our door?

But the ghetto mentality has a legitimate concern, namely, that aggiornamento can lead to liberalism. What, exactly, is meant by an open consideration of the secular, modern mindset? Of what do these considerations consist? Is there a line between consideration and concession? Where is that line? If the Christian engaged in this open discussion with the modern world is not careful, they will soon loose everything distinctively Christian. They will be left with nothing.

So what is a modern Christian, who is interested in evangelization, to do? The best answer I can give is this: Study your faith. Do not study apologetics, because that won't help you much. Why? Because your study is based on your interlocutor's questions, not on the whole of Catholic theology. If you want to evangelize, then you need to know what the Church teaches, not how to win a debate.

Then when you come into contact with a non-Catholic view, regardless of whichever perspective it takes (secular, anti-Catholic, Protestant), you will be able to both defend the Church as well as evangelize the person. Why? Because this kind of in-depth study teaches you that when it comes to truth, one cannot debate, one can only talk."


As some of you know, I am busily at work on a new four day seminar on evanelization that we will be offering this summer called Making Disciples.

One of the issues that is coming up is that post-modern people simply don't think in categories of "this is true" and "this is not true". And that the classic catechetical approach that arose in the early modern era (late 16th, early 17th centuries) as part of the Catholic Reformation
(as many contemporary historians prefer to call it since it wasn't just a reaction to the Protestant Reformation as the term Counter-Reformation would imply) doesn't work as well in a post-modern era when people's beliefs and issues are very different.

Yet, Christ and the faith must be proposed for people to respond. So how did we propose it effectively in a very different era?

I'll post more on this later but now I must work. Thanks Jeff! Your post has triggered some great "ahas!"