The Role of Apologetics

August 29, 2022 | NEW MINDS

You may have heard the term “apologetics” before in relation to Catholic Evangelization. Apologetics generally refers to explaining to someone why Catholics believe what they do. You are making a defense of the faith to someone.

St. Peter tells us to “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

There are a few different ways that we can do this. One of those ways we often do this is to give your testimony - to talk about the ways that God has moved in your life and you have experienced his love. To be able to Tell Your Story can help make the faith approachable for others - as often times their stories are not too different than ours and it might inspire or give hope.

Sometimes though, people’s objections to the faith can be more intellectual than emotional or personal. They often just don’t understand how Catholics can believe what we do, or maybe they find that the Catholic faith seems to be at odds with science or modern culture. Or perhaps, when engaging some of our Christian, but not Catholic, brothers and sisters, they may have struggles with some of the Catholic teachings that are most commonly opposed or attacked.

Bishop Fulton Sheen once said “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

In order to clear up some of this confusion of what the Church actually believes and why She believes it, the Church offers us apologetics - or simple ways to explain and defend the faith in the midst of misunderstandings.

Many times, when people say that they don’t feel ready to evangelize, it’s because they feel like they don’t have the answers to all the questions that they may be asked by someone who they are in a discussion with. They don’t feel fully equipped to give a defense of why they believe what they do.

There is such an overwhelming amount of beautiful tradition in the Catholic Church, it’s hard to know everything - and that's okay - as long as we know where to look to find the answers! . Here are three principles to remember.


1. You don’t have to know it all.


It’s okay not to know. We should do our best to be ready with as many answers as possible, but it’s also okay to tell someone that you will look up an answer and get back to them. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great place to start - or you can always ask your parish priest for help - after all, they have studied these topics for years.


2. It’s not your job to convert someone


Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. We can, and should, answer as many of the questions and objections that people have, but at the end of the day we can’t make them believe. Do your best in the conversation and then remember to pray for them.


3. Don’t kill the channels of communication 


Rather than shouting someone down, or making them feel embarrassed because they were proven wrong, our goal should be to continue the conversation. By doing so, that may lead to more conversations where questions can be answered. If we set out simply to win the argument, sometimes we lose the opportunity for further conversation and witness.


Be on the lookout for our next series of posts that will help you begin to know the most common apologetics necessary for Missionary Disciples who are looking to share the good news with others!

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