Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Apologetics in Community

An interesting question to ponder as an Apologist is why do people believe what they do. What mechanism does God use to reach those without faith? Typically, in apologetics the tool that is most often used and focused on is rational arguments. In reality, faith is rarely the result of rational arguments, although it does play a part. The key instrument that God uses for conversion is sanctity in community. Jesus said the following…

This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

People will know that we follow Christ if we have love for one another. In Jesus’ prayer to the Father he asked the following…

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. (John 17:20-21)

The love and unity in the body of Christ, through the Spirit, to the Father will produce belief. I would think that the inverse is also true, that our lack of love and unity produces skepticism in the world. If community is important to belief, then apologetics cannot be done in isolation. For online apologetics this is a challenge. How do we bring nonbelievers into the Christian community when the Internet is a barrier to authentic community? At the very least we must go out in pairs (Luke 10:1-12) to do apologetics if not with a close community of online Catholics who have the unity of Christ’s love for one another.

In our apologetic efforts, when possible, we should first invite the nonbeliever to be a part of the Catholic community and then from within this context teach and defend the Truth. This would make it possible for others to see the love and unity that we share. This has to work better than the direct approach of trying to argue someone into the faith and never getting to the point of witnessing to the unity and love we share in the body of Christ.

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