Apologetics for the Masses #241 - Blue Collar Apologetics (cont'd)

Bible Christian Society

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General Comments

Hey folks,

A couple of things:

1) If you live in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New Mexico, or Utah - and you are a listener of Immaculate Heart Radio (IHR) - I just want to give you a heads up that IHR is contemplating moving EWTN's Open Line to a time that you'll probably never hear it (presumably late, late night), or just take it off altogether.  That means you won't be able to hear my program any more (which I know will absolutely ruin Monday afternoon for thousands!), or Fr. Mitch, Colin Donovan, Barbara McGuigan, or Fr. Larry Richards (our newest Open Line host). 

So, if you currently listen to the show, and you don't want them to move it, now is the time you need to act.  You need to email the President, Doug Sherman (dsherman@ihradio.org), and let him know your preferences.  Obviously I would prefer to continue to be heard on their stations, but I will live either way.  It's just a matter of whether or not you like listening to the program and want to continue to do so, or not.  So, let Doug hear from you, or not.

2) I had planned to get this newsletter out last week, but right as I was sitting down to type it up, an atheist newsletter that I am subscribed to popped into my inbox.  I thought I would take a few minutes to just look over the stories in that issue and then get to the newsletter.  Well, there was a story there by an ex-Christian pastor on the "argument from evil" - since evil exists that precludes the possibility of the existence of an all-good, all-loving God (so goes the argument) - that caused me to leave a comment in the combox of that column and that comment led to conversations with several atheists over the next several hours, and the next few days (and is still ongoing), which, even though it distracted me from getting an issue out last week, it gave me a lot of fodder for future issues of this newsletter and for my book.  So, I look forward to sharing those conversations with you in the future.


Okay, continuing with the "new" Chapter 1 of my book, Blue Collar Apologetics.  This chapter is a quick look at the apologetics strategies that I use, and that I teach to one and all who are interested in learning how to explain and defend the Faith.

Blue Collar Apologetics, chapter 1 (cont'd)

The Ignorant Catholic

You're talking to a friend, or maybe a co-worker, or, quite possibly, a family member, who is not Catholic.  They have asked you some questions that you really weren't sure how to answer.  Maybe you didn't even really understand all of what they were saying to you.  And, they might be throwing some Bible verses at you that you have no clue how to react to.  Have you ever been in a situation like that?  A situation where you were just getting overwhelmed with questions about the Catholic Faith and the Bible?  I’ve been in that situation before, and in the past 20 years or so that I’ve been involved with apologetics and evangelization, I’ve talked to thousands upon thousands of Catholics who have found themselves in similar situations.  Short of going to school to get a degree in Theology (which may or may not help), or something else along those lines, what can you do to be prepared for a situation like that?  

Well, whenever you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you're in over your head, or you've just simply been caught off guard and don't quite know how to respond to the person asking you questions about your Faith, or maybe even attacking your Faith, all you have to do is remember the Ignorant Catholic strategy.  This strategy is so easy to remember, and it is so effective at getting you out of what otherwise could be a difficult situation, that I’ve had people tell me that this one strategy alone has given them the confidence to go out and share their faith with others - whether it be their family, or friends, or even their co-workers and their neighbors.

The Ignorant Catholic strategy is simply this: Never be afraid to say...“I don’t know,” whenever you’re asked a question about the faith.  However, always follow...always follow...“I don’t know”, with, “But, I will find out and get back to you”.  And then you go and do your research, get the answer to the question, and get back to them.

For example, you might be asked a question like this: “You Catholics follow all of these man-made traditions that are nowhere found in the Bible, like Purgatory...where does it say anything about Purgatory in the Bible?”  Unfortunately, a lot of Catholics would just sort of hem and haw in answer to that question and they will end up looking bad and making the Church look bad.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Using the Ignorant Catholic strategy, though, this is how you would respond: “You know, that’s a good question.  And, right off hand, I have to be honest and admit that I don’t know the answer.  But, I know there is an answer.  So, I tell you what I’m gonna to do.  I’m gonna go and find out the answer, and I’ll get back to you on that.”  

Boom!  You’re out of a potential jam.  You’ve admitted that you don’t know the answer to their question, but you’ve told them you’ll find an answer for it and get back to them.  That’s a very reasonable response and it’s one that no one should have any problem with.  You’re being honest with them that you don’t know the answer to their question, but you’re telling them you will get an answer for them.  Just remember, do not be afraid to appear ignorant...especially if you are ignorant.  A little humility can go a long way, folks.   

The worst thing you can do is to try to “wing” it.  Don’t ever “wing” it.  Quite literally, a soul could be on the line here.  So, the stakes are too high for you to give it your best guess just because you don’t want to be embarrassed by not knowing the answer to a question about your faith.  And this is especially true since no matter what question you’re asked about your faith, there is an answer out there...you just sometimes have to go looking for it.  People, we are standing on the shoulders of 2000 years worth of folks defending the Faith against all comers.  You have people like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Justin Martyr, St. Anselm, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Therese of Liseaux, and thousands more like them - some of the greatest minds and some of the humblest souls to ever walk this planet - on your side.  You have the holiest people who have ever lived - on your side.  You have the Scott Hahn’s, Tim Staples, Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s and a host of other such folks alive today - on your side.  There are answers to the questions.

As Scripture says, there is nothing new under the sun.  You will not be asked any question about your faith that has not already been asked, and answered.  There are answers to the questions, folks - sometimes you just have to go looking for them.  Or, maybe you do already know the answer to a question, but you’re not quite sure on one or two details, and you want to get it down a little bit better before you give your answer.  Or, you want to get a little more scriptural backup for your answer.  There is absolutely no harm in not answering something at that moment so that you can come back better prepared later on.

What you have just done by being the “Ignorant Catholic” is that you have performed a tactical retreat from the battlefield, a retreat where you have suffered no losses.   But, you now have the advantage.  The next time you talk with this person about Purgatory, or whatever the topic might be, will be when, where, and how you decide to do it.  And, you will talk about Purgatory with this person again.  Because once someone questions, or even attacks the Catholic faith in front of you, you need to realize that God has just opened a door for you...you cannot let that door shut!  

You go and do your homework.  You read a book, do your internet research, listen to a CD...whatever you need to do...and then, when you are ready, you get back to that person with further dialogue, with books, with pamphlets, with CD’s, with whatever...but, do not let that door shut!  It could be the next day, the next week, the next month, or six months later, but you get back with them!  You could get back with them in person, make a phone call, send an email, you could even write them a letter if you want. You could talk to them yourself, or you could give them a book to read or a CD to listen to...that’s the beauty of this technique...you decide when, where, and how.  “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you.”  

If you remember that one line, you can consider yourself a Level 1 Catholic apologist.  You know, being a Catholic apologist doesn’t mean you have to be a theologian or some such thing, or that you need to know everything there is to know about the faith. Our faith is so deep that no one...no one!...in this lifetime will plumb its depths.  So if you wait until you know everything there is to know about the faith before you go out and evangelize, then, guess what?  You will never, ever, go out and evangelize.  

Just remember: “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you.” It can, and will, get you out of any number of difficult situations.  It’s just basic common sense.  If you don’t know something, you just say you don’t know.  So many times Catholics think they absolutely have to answer someone’s question right now!  Right then and there!  And they can end up giving an answer that isn’t very good, or might actually be wrong.  I have to tell ya, some of the things that I have heard Catholics say in response to a question about their faith, have made me want to come out of my skin.  

A Catholic once told me that when he was asked where in the Bible some teaching of the Church was, he told the person asking him the question, "I'm Catholic, and Catholics don’t go by the Bible."  Really?!  No!  Don’t give an answer just to be giving an answer.  Make sure it’s the right answer.  And if that means having to tell someone you don’t know the answer to their question, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  You don’t have to answer a question right now.  Just remember, “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you.”  

(to be cont'd)


If all goes according to plan, I should have another installment out next week.  Of course, all doesn't always go according to plan, but I will "endeavor to persevere."  (A free set of CD's to the first person who sends me an email with the name of the movie that quote is from.)

I hope all of you have a great week.  You guys are in the Martignoni family prayers daily! 


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Apologetics for the Masses