‘Catholic Perspectives on the Reformation’
Apologetic Perspective: Viewing the Reformation through the lens of Protestant (and Catholic) prejudice and propaganda
(SNR) - The Diocese of Lincoln’s Office of Evangelization presented a five-part series about the Reformation during the annual “coffee house” series at Gianna’s Java & Gelato in Lincoln.
October 17, 2017 was marked as the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. As the Protestant population within the diocesan boundary is more than six times the Catholic population, the series was held to equip Catholics with a thorough understanding of the Catholic perspective on the Reformation.
The speakers prepared short recaps of their talks for the Register. The full video of each talk is available online. Bob Sullivan was the guest speaker at the coffee house event Dec. 10. He provided a thorough apologetic perspective, and a brief summary is included.
By Bob Sullivan
All Catholics are called to share the Good News. This has always been the case, but Vatican II emphasized the important role of the laity more than the Church had emphasized since the 1500s.
Defending the faith and inviting others to the faith go hand in hand. This is why I call it “Evangeletics,” a combination of evangelization and apologetics.
In order to evangelize people who have heard a lot of misinformation about the Catholic Church, or who have only been told unflattering things about Catholics, there are some essential steps:
1. Pray. We cannot be effective ambassadors unless we have a strong and enduring relationship with Christ through the sacraments and through prayer.
2. Listen. How can you know a person’s thirst, unless you listen to them first?
3. Be Confident. You may not know the chapter and verse, but you know the Scriptures and you know what the Church teaches. You have personally experienced the truth, beauty and goodness of the Catholic faith. Share your personal story by sharing these experiences.
4. Ask questions. Nobody wants to be lectured. Instead of preaching, ask questions to promote deeper thought. Questions allow you to open a person’s heart and mind without making you seem like a know-it-all.
5. Be persistent. They will likely change the subject or try to divert the conversation when they feel like they are not in control. Don’t take the bait. They may choose to end the conversation instead of answering the question, but the question will still linger in their mind.
6. The Challenge. In the end, give them something to pray about or think about when they are alone with God. If you have their contact information, follow up with an email or text containing a link to a trusted Catholic website.
In addition to those steps, here are some more tips to help:
Tip #1: When you ask them questions, do not ask them why they are not Catholic. Instead, ask them why they are whatever they are.
Non-Catholics can almost always come up with at least one reason as to why they are not Catholic, but when you force them to explain why they are something other than Catholic, they often realize that they don’t have a very convincing reason. This can open the door for a much richer conversation about the Catholic faith.
Of course, this means that you should be able to give a short explanation as to why you are Catholic. Share your personal story as noted in step #3 above. Your personal story should take approximately three minutes. If you go too long, you might sound preachy or lose their interest.
Tip #2: Have the tools of evangeletics with you at all times. Keep a few good pamphlets, booklets, tracts or books in your car, purse or briefcase. These can serve as the challenge at the end of a conversation. Texting or emailing links to good websites is a good practice too.
Tip #3: Be joyful, charitable (loving) and humble. As is often the case, it isn’t what you ask, but how you ask it.