Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Rules of Engagement for Indirect Approach

I have found that debate forums can be counter-productive in many, if not most cases. People dig into their apologetic trenches and people get defensive, feelings/egos get hurt, and people end up being more entrenched than when they started. I came up with the following strategy to counter this tendency.

Strategy: Indirect Approach

“Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.” (Mat 10:16)

“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” (The Sun, Tzu, The Art of War)

Rules of Engagement for Indirect Approach

  1. I am at war; spiritual warfare and I will only win with spiritual weapons. I need the humility to realize that I cannot directly convert anyone. I need the indirect approach of letting the Holy Spirit do his job. Prayer is the ultimate indirect approach and I must spend more time doing this then any other apologetic activity.
  2. The direct approach is to try to convert the person. The indirect approach is to focus first on building a relationship. The number one priority must be to build trust, respect, and charity. Most topics should focus on building relationships over building a logical case for theology.
  3. The relationships that I build must be authentic not manipulative. There is nothing worse than someone building a relationship only for the conquest of converting someone.
  4. I will post topics that build common ground. This will earn the respect, trust, and charity of others.
  5. Know thy audience. This is essential to avoid making people defensive. It is essential in building real common ground.
  6. Know thy enemy, Satan the father of lies. Even the anti-Catholic is not my enemy. They are my patients.
  7. Know thy self. Know what pushes my buttons so I can avoid reacting in anger. Know my strengths and my weaknesses. Work on my weaknesses.
  8. Creativity is a must, it a lot easier to just give the standard direct response than to post something that will build a relationship and at the same time enlighten.
  9. I must not give into the temptation of a direct attack before I have earned this line of approach. There is a time to be direct, but only once the foundation has been laid.
  10. Do not use satire when defending the faith; it is too much of an attack. Humor should only be used if it is unlikely to offend or make people defensive. Humor can be a powerful indirect apologetic tool.
  11. In response to hostile anti-Catholic attacks, I will not make a personal response. Instead, I will offer a link that addresses the attack. This will make it less likely that people’s egos will get in the way. There is little threat when someone posts a link because it is impersonal. After this, do not respond. Let the post drop. Offer it up to Christ and let him take care it. This takes discipline. I might lose the battle, but by giving this to Christ, He will win the war.
  12. When I talk about the indirect approach I am not talking about deceit. In the book, “The Art of War it say, “All warfare is based on deception.” But our enemy is the father of deception. The devil cannot follow truth, he doesn’t understand it and it makes no sense to him. To confuse the devil I must live like Christ, I must live his truth. The devil is in the dark and can see all dark but he is blind to the light. So I must never deceive, misrepresent, or compromise the Truth.

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