“Apologetics” is a technical term that describes the means by which we share our faith with those who do not have faith or have a misunderstanding of our faith. Apologetics as a theological category is not new, but has been taken to new heights and extremes, particularly by Protestants—who, with good intentions, have made an effort to have cut-and-dry methods to approach just about every objection to the Christian faith as they understand it. This leads, for example, to an actual website which lists sects, cults and other religious groups to show what they believe and thereby how to counteract their false doctrines. (Parenthetically, this site lists the Orthodox Church as unorthodox! ‘Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.’)
Indeed, we do need to know what people do and don’t believe to know how to address their questions and concerns. We also need to know our own faith well enough to articulate it to them, as well as (often) at least a bit about their faith to draw parallels, make comparisons, and to correct when necessary. This is a lively part of our faith as Christians, and is certainly approaching officially with the opening of our bookstore.
Among the first considerations, we must keep in mind that everyone who is sent to us, is sent to us by God for our mutual salvation. Each interaction is for the working out of salvation. We must remember that we each have been shown great mercy and patience by God, and in turn, we are to be humble, patient, and full of the love of God. Even if someone shouts at us, our response, like our Lord’s is one of self-offering, not a return blow.
Along with this critical piece is this one: any question someone asks us is an opportunity for us to facilitate a drawing closer to Jesus Christ or a repelling from Him. Our response will be the catalyst one way or the other. We must be in a constant state of prayer, asking God to give us the grace to speak in love and concern. Ultimately, God will defend His Gospel and His Church. Our task is faithfulness in the moment to treat the one in front of us as our neighbor, and by biblical extension, both as ourself and our Lord.
…To be continued…