Truth be told, I’m rather non-confrontational. I don’t seek out arguments. And if there’s one skill I learned at the auto body, it’s patience and calm under fire.
That being said, it seems rather ironic that I’ve always had an interest in Catholic apologetics- studying, explaining and defending the faith against misconceptions (and the occasional outright lie).
As Christians, we are called to evangelize. What does this mean? St. Francis of Assisi is famously quoted saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Our love should be the primary witness to Christ in our lives. No one likes a pushy door-to-door Bible salesman, or the people who confront you at the mall on Sundays when all you want is a new pair of jeans.
But what about those times when words really are necessary?
I usually don’t start discussions about differences in faith. My general philosophy is that no one is converted in an argument. If someone asks me questions about my Catholicism, I’m happy to answer. I love religious discussions. But I usually don’t go looking for debates.
Recently, thanks to social media, I’ve been involved in a few of these. The first was quite amicable. It was difficult, but everyone involved was respectful and polite. I truly believe that the participants were seeking the truth.
The second of these was markedly different. It was with a stranger: a professed atheist. He started poking me a little, but he seemed polite enough. It was civil, so I entertained him for a bit. But as the conversation wore on, he lost his cool. He started getting rude. And then he crossed the line: he referred to his atheism as “the way, the truth and the life.”
That’s when I knew who was talking. I said a prayer and ended the conversation.
So what’s the takeaway? How do we handle conversations about differences of faith? Do we never discuss religion at all, be friends with everyone, and go through life never making waves? But what about all the misinformation out there? Don’t we need to be witnesses to the truth of the gospel, and aren’t words necessary at times? How should we handle things like this?