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Anonymous wrote:

Dear Mike,

  • Why have so many Roman Catholic apologists on the web resorted to insults instead of reasonable discussion?

We've been willing to discuss the issues, but we keep getting personal insults. We remember, at one time, you got a bit heated but backed off and apologized. People get tired at times, so we can understand, but why do these others (not you, but others) move to personal cut-downs?

  • Is this what the Catholic Church advocates now?

We don't think so.

  • Why does an e-mail lynch mob go on?
  • Whatever happened to cordial discussions?

There used to be a few Roman Catholics on the web that discussed in such a manner, but since the e-mail groups have been going on, there has been an increasing amount of hostility. We've had to back out of it, as people were just getting too testy.

Anytime we say anything to these people, we get pounded, ignored, and then they say, that we gave no answer. This is getting nowhere in a discussion. There used to be just a few like this,
but now the problem has manifested itself mainly due to carbon copy correspondences.

We appeal to you, Mike, as your site at least has presented itself as having the approach of
open-minded discussions. If these Roman Catholic apologists who get nasty, continue to spread this attitude amongst themselves, we think people will not only be offended by Roman Catholicism, but also by the name of Christ.

We'd like to know your thoughts on this matter. Please don't think that we are trying to confront you, Mike, in any way.

Faith working by love,

Anonymous

  { Why is there an increasing amount of hostility among Catholic apologists? }

Mike replied:

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for the very good question.

I believe the root of the problem, on both sides, is based on:

  • Catholic and Protestant ignorance and
  • a lack of personal maturity.

What do I mean? When I start faith-sharing with someone, I really have no idea:

  • What is in that person's heart.
  • Whether [he/she] really wants to faith-share or is just striving to
    re-affirm [his/her] own belief system.
  • What that person's <faith journey> is? (see below)

    My definition of Faith journey includes:

    • What faith was that person born into, by God's choosing.
    • What has he/she done with that faith?
    • Did he/she leave that faith for another and why?
    • Was he/she brought up in a "faith-filled" family or not?
      Here is an example of my faith journey.

AND the most important thing:

  • What is important to that faith-sharer?
  • What is personally close to that faith-sharer's heart?

Let's be honest:

Your side:

Any true Protestant denomination has a set of beliefs.
You strive to stay close to that set of beliefs because you believe them to be true.

My side:

Any true practicing Catholic Christian believes and acts according to the beliefs of the Church. I strive to be a practicing Catholic apologist for the Church because I believe it to be true.

All faith-sharing discussions are semi-ventures because "true" faith sharers are not interested in hurting other people but in sharing different beliefs while still being friends. By:

(agreeing to agree and agreeing to disagree)

Being able to disagree while still being friends is one of the key elements of any friendship. If I agreed with everything you believed, I wouldn't be Mike Humphrey, I'd be YOU! Being able to maintain our friendship, despite our disagreements, is the basis of our friendship. We are not each other's enemies.

The true problem is ignorance and a lack of patience and maturity on both sides.

Confession time for me:

  • Yes, I may be impatient at times.
  • Yes, I may say something, in an e-mail, that is immature or overly subjective.
  • Yes, I may say something in an e-mail that was not what the Church taught. (my ignorance)

Why? Because I'm human and open to sin and need the grace of Jesus to sustain me, re-justify me or reconcile me with Him through the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Important point: Not all people can faith-share in a mature way, but this does not bar everyone's responsibility for responding to Our Lord's call to evangelize all mankind. Ultimately,
it comes down to finding a faith-sharer with whom you can fruitfully correspond with.

Check out my piece here: A problem: Sincere hearts but terrible results

If you knew nothing about the Catholic faith and you told me this in a faith sharing environment:

"I think the Pope is Satan and nothing but evil has come out of any Pope including Pope John Paul II."

Ten years ago I would have been emotionally offended:

  • How dare you say that about our Holy Father!!, or
  • How dare you say that about Our Blessed Mother!!

  • Why?

Because you have unknowingly attacked something that is near and dear to me, Mike Humphrey, as a person. If I knew nothing about your denomination of Christianity and I said to you in a faith sharing environment:

"I think nothing but 100% evil has come from both Martin Luther and John Calvin."

But I didn't know you had attended: — "school names made up by me."

  • The Martin Luther School for Biblical Studies and
  • then received your Masters in Biblical Studies from the John Calvin School for Advanced Biblical Studies.

I wouldn't think you'd be too happy :))

The point: People can unknowingly hurt other people by what they say or do. This is part of the risk of striving to build good faith-sharing relationships.

These things go to the root of the "increasing amount of hostility", as you put it.

You said:
We've been willing to discuss the issues but we keep getting personal insults.

You must be saying something that is attacking something that is very near and dear to the person or dealing with a Catholic who has a poor prayer life.

  • How can I make this last judgment?

Because a solid prayer life, over time, will increase the virtues of any man or woman; this includes their maturity level.

e.g. Speaking as a cradle-Catholic, practicing Catholics love our spiritual family.

  • Jesus is close to our hearts.
  • Jesus' Blessed Mother Mary is close to our hearts.
  • Jesus' foster father, St. Joseph is close to our hearts.
  • Our living brothers and all the Saints in Heaven are close to our hearts.
  • The man we believe Jesus left in charge of His Church, the Holy Father, is close to our hearts.

This may be a little unusual to you, but remember, in your theological belief system, it is, generally a "me and Jesus" theology.

In Catholic Theology it is a me and Jesus" theology and a Family Affair.
<no not Buffy and Jodie from the TV show.>

In my faith-sharing conversations, on an array of doctrinal disagreements, 95% of the time, the Catholic answer is an and/both answer not an either/or answer. You can probably get your Catholic faith sharer to agree with what you believe but they will insist you accept an additional teaching along with the one you believe.

  • Does this make sense?

Last note:

You said:
Anytime we say anything to these people, we get pounded, ignored, and then they say, that we gave no answer.

RE: "that we gave no answer."

I know this may be referring to me so let me explain:

Sometimes, when I have given an intellectually logical and honest argument on one issue, I occasionally find the subject of following replies I receive changes and I get the impression that my reply on the last issue we discussed was not answered.

I then wonder whether or not  I'm wasting my time with a faith-sharer who is using a "got you!" approach to faith-sharing OR one that wishes to discuss the issues, on a issue by issue basis.

  • See where I am coming from?

What I recommend to both the Catholic and Protestant faith-sharers is if you are discussing,
let's say, the Immaculate Conception, and one side makes a good point that you can't reply to —

  • Don't get defensive.
  • Just say, "I hadn't thought of that point, let me pray over it and talk to my friends about it:
    Can we now talk about Eternal Security?"

This way, whether you are a Catholic or Protestant, you are acknowledging a good point you wish to pray over and now wish to change doctrinal topics.

Remember, the enemy is not a person, the enemy is ignorance and pride, on both sides.

Thanks for the question,

Mike Humphrey

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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