Sunday, April 06, 2008

Two Methods of Apologetics towards Catholics

Passionately (link).

The link is to a Catholic blog, in which is embedded a video of a man dressed a Catholic priest shouting a message of repentance to an assembled congregation of Catholics, apparently during their service. The audio is somewhat indistinct - a combination of amateur recording equipment and lousy acoustics / camera location.

The man shouts out warnings to the Catholics that the priest cannot save them, and that they are endangering their souls by their religion. At first the priest (it seems) tries to tell the man to go away. Eventually, after a bit, the priest realizes that the man's shouting can really only be overcome by the vox populi, and consequently leads the congregation in song.

Cons of this approach:

1. The Catholic blog that posts the video in the link above suggests that this is illegal in many places. While illegality is not an absolute bar to evangelism, it may be more seemly to pursue methods of evangelism that honor the king. Also, getting arrested for disrupting a worship service is not necessarily the same as getting arrested for preaching the gospel, even if that is what you were doing when we disrupted the service.

2. The approach is rude. These are people who clearly do not want to be disturbed. Again, it is not absolutely necessary that an evangelist be polite at all costs, but being rude is not the Pauline model, to say the least.

3. The approach doesn't seem effective. It is too easy to drown out the message with a hymn - it is too easy to write off the messenger as a "rabid anti-Catholic." The mockery in the Catholic blog post above demonstrates both of the ways in which the message will be minimized.


1. These are people who may not otherwise hear the gospel warnings, that may be jolted by such an approach.

2. It cannot be completely ignored.


I'm not in favor of this sort of apologetic methodology, at least not in the society in which we live. I am not trying to judge the man in the video: I don't know his heart, his motivation, or his intent. Perhaps he simply longs for the Catholics in his community to be saved. Calling him an "anti-Catholic" for that it is wrong. I could alternatively ascribe negative motivations, but I don't know the man's heart. I really don't like the fact that he dressed up as a Catholic priest, although in a few places other ministers also were similar atire. From the voices in the video, it sounds as the person calling the parishioners to repentance is an American, which tends to make me think that the garb is assumed.

Rationally (link).

The link is to a post by James Swan over at Alpha and Omega Ministries. The link presents a studied examination of one particular station of the so-called "stations of the cross." It provides a demonstration that one of the stations is based on ingrained legend founded in etymological error.


1. Catholics have to be interested in reading to get the message.

2. Catholics have to actually go to the website to read the message.

3. Catholics have to think to get the message.

4. It's fairly easy to ignore: just call Swan names and don't go to his web site.


1. If someone goes, they have a tough time answering matter rationally.

2. The message is polite but firm, based in fact and compelling to someone who makes an historical examination of the matter.

3. The message is engaging. If you disagree, you cannot just stick your fingers in your eyes and sing a song, because your mind expects something more.

Compared to the former approach, Swan's approach seems better - but then Swan has a different intended audience. The rank and file of Roman Catholicism do not go to Swan's website and check out what he writes. On the other Swan's approach is also more durable: he doesn't have to shout every day to be heard every day. Also, Swan's approach is more winsome. I think if I were Catholic, I'd be more well persuaded by Swan's approach than by the approach in the first video.


Of course, these are not the only two approaches that exist. I have no doubt that someone may think that there is a better approach than either of the two I've outlined above. Regardless of how we go about it, we must do so from the right motives - and ought to do so in a way that is aimed toward bringing souls to Christ.

Paul encourages us this way:

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33
31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Therefore, let us be constant continually preaching to those who do not trust in Christ alone for salvation, that they do so, repenting from their sins, and receiving the gift of God by faith in the Savior.

Praise be to His glorious grace!


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