Troublesome in-laws
#1
Hi all. 

So, we frequently get phone calls and emails from a couple in-laws (who are exaggerated Calvinists), whom I like a lot. 
The conversation, though, goes inevitably like this:


"Did you hear this INSANE thing this preacher or Christian (at a church that I don't attend) said!! He is worse for thinking it. Isn't he n U t S!!"

Sometimes, I agree with the quoted preacher; sometimes I disagree - I never think it absolutely ridiculous.

I always find myself saying something like, "On the one hand he has a point (X), but you have a point too (Y), and we probably won't resolve it now, but it's an interesting question, and both the points that motivate the dispute are valid" whether I agree with it or not, because she is uninterested (I suspect) in opinions not her own. (She usually changes the topic when I do that). Plus, her attitude about these things appears so arrogant.

I suspect if I really engaged her, I'd be wasting time and damaging the relationship.

Which brings me to a question: What are the lines on evangelizing or not evangelizing people? Most of them aren't really interested anyway.

It also makes me worried that religion for some people is what the 12 steppers call "the resentment drug."  Or it's fun intellectual stimulation/infotainment, with a low barrier of entry. Or its a book-club. Or it's an emotional escapism that has to be defended at all costs from all sides.And I wonder about all that with myself.

 Religious discussions are just people looking up "they-say/you-say stuff" online and being obnoxious and confirmation bias-y. Many converts are starting to seem to me, like really arrogant people, who are easily lead. They were easily lead to arrogantly espouse atheism or Leftism, and then they were easily lead to some Christian variant, and are really arrogant about that.

And I am not heroic or virtuous or admirable at all really, when I'm honest with myself. And theological interest hasn't helped. And it seems to have made others pretty awful too.

I guess I'm saying: Is the conversation even worth it? All these Protestants have reversed the humanist "I doesn't matter what you believe so long as you are a good person," into this ungodly, "It doesn't truly matter if you're a good person so long as you believe right things."

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That was a rant.
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#2
(01-28-2020, 04:23 PM)19405 Wrote: Which brings me to a question: What are the lines on evangelizing or not evangelizing people? Most of them aren't really interested anyway.

It also makes me worried that religion for some people is what the 12 steppers call "the resentment drug."  Or it's fun intellectual stimulation/infotainment, with a low barrier of entry. Or its a book-club. Or it's an emotional escapism that has to be defended at all costs from all sides.And I wonder about all that with myself.

 Religious discussions are just people looking up "they-say/you-say stuff" online and being obnoxious and confirmation bias-y. Many converts are starting to seem to me, like really arrogant people, who are easily lead. They were easily lead to arrogantly espouse atheism or Leftism, and then they were easily lead to some Christian variant, and are really arrogant about that.

I'm more often than not guilty of this arrogance too, as I still have the "new chrism" scent having been Catholic only for close to two years now.


Quote:And I am not heroic or virtuous or admirable at all really, when I'm honest with myself. And theological interest hasn't helped. And it seems to have made others pretty awful too.

I guess I'm saying: Is the conversation even worth it? All these Protestants have reversed the humanist "I doesn't matter what you believe so long as you are a good person," into this ungodly, "It doesn't truly matter if you're a good person so long as you believe right things."


Honestly, a priest told me, regarding my own issues with whether or not to actively evangelize my unbelieving wife, that its best to be prepared to answer their questions when they have them. Rather than get in their face about hell, or what this Pope said, or what this doctrine says, which can drive people away from conversion. But I really guess it depends on the individual you're talking to, some respond to direct hard truths, others need softballs. There's no real blanket tactic for evangelizing people to the Catholic faith.

With all of that being said, and I could be wrong, I think it's more of the mission of the priests than the laity to evangelize. This doesn't exonerate us from defending the faith or clarifying misconceptions through apologetics, but it really is a vocation to evangelize. Plus, Catholics really have our work cut out for us given the state of our culture and the scandals in our own house.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

'And he shall be as a tree that is planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots towards moisture: and it shall not fear when the heat cometh.' - Jeremias 17:8
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#3
(01-28-2020, 07:55 PM)Augustinian Wrote: others need softballs.
Yes, well, that's what I tend to do.

I just say, "You have a point, but you wanna look out for this other extreme that other Christian traditions seem to be worried about."

I don't know. That probably doesn't count as responding to the objection. But if I did give a direct response, I can't help but feel I'd be casting pearls before swine. The walls are too high up.
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#4
I like how Greg Koukl (a Protestant apologist) puts it: our goal shouldn't be to convert anyone since Christ alone has the power to convert as St. Paul reminds us: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (1 Cor. 3:6). Instead, we should be more modest in our goals, like Paul, and as Koukl metaphorically puts it, "Just put a small pebble in their shoe," the sort of thing that may well bother their conscience over time even if it's small. And you don't need to be a saint to do that. 

Conversion is always a game of patience, and few people want to be patient. They think that just because they're "ahead" at half-time, that they've won the game. You never know how long something like this takes or what pathways a person walks to come closer to Christ. A good friend of mine in this 60s came to Catholicism 7 years ago, but his wife is only starting to take catechism lessons this past month. Grace works over time.

On the other hand, Our Lord says that if people ignore your message, if they're not willing or ready to listen, move on to the next town, so to speak. Sometimes the refusal to let people live their little intellectual excuses and games when they're around you is enough to prod them to self-reflection. Religion, like anything, can be a psychological illusion people use to give themselves a false sense of security. But true religion is reality, and reality shatters illusions. True charity sometimes means not letting people indulge in illusions.
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