I wrote a blog earlier about dialoging with non-Catholic Christians and promised a later entry about extending this to dialoging with non-Christians about our Catholic faith. Of course in this context the non-Christian believer and the Catholic do not have a shared heritage. Points about the Protestant Reformation of a Church the person never believed in aren’t going to be much help.
The playing field here has to be about witnessing for Jesus Christ and His Church. It also means listening to the other person’s questions and points.
What I focus on are the following points:
- Jesus Christ claimed to be the promised Messiah of the Jewish people
- He backed up this claim during His lifetime by performing the signs that were to accompany the appearance of the Messiah: the blind were made to see, the lame walked, the dead were brought back to life. These miracles were attested to by eye witnesses
- Not only did this happen during Jesus’ life, but His chosen Apostles also performed these same signs as well
- Jesus resurrected from the dead on His own power. While this has been rejected by people, they have not produced a body or a grave which contains the known remains of Jesus Christ.
- Furthermore, His disciples were so convinced of the truth of His claims that they were willing to give their own lives. After Judas Iscariot hanged himself, eleven of the original apostles remained. Of that eleven, only one, John the son of Zebedee, died a natural death. The other ten gave their lives for their belief in Jesus.
- It defies logic and reason to believe that men would be willing to be crucified upside down (Peter), flayed alive (Bartholomew), stoned (James the Less), etc., and hold true to something that they knew deep down was fraudulent. How many people would knowingly die for a lie?
- Subsequent generations of Christians were also willing to go to their deaths for Jesus Christ. Something convinced them. Again, people don’t willingly lay down their lives for a lie.
- Jesus Christ formed a community of disciples and promised to remain with them always. In Matthew 16:18 Christ designated Peter as the “rock” upon which He would build His Church. Therefore Christ did come to form a community of believers and intended that this community survive past His time on Earth.
- The Catholic Church has survived since Christ charged His apostles to go out and spread the Good News. The Church has in fact outlasted any dynasty or government known to man.
Bear in mind that there is a difference between evangelization and proselytizing. We are not called to proselytize. We are called to evangelize. Evangelize means we testify to the truth of Jesus Christ and His Church.
Think of it this way: If you were called to court to give testimony in a murder case, your job as a witness would be to tell what you know. It would not be your job to harangue the jury to make sure they voted a certain way as to the guilt or innocence of the person on trial.
So too with evangelizing. When you tell people about Jesus Christ, especially those who do not already accept Him as Lord and Savior, you give witness to what you know to be true. What they do with your testimony is their own business.
One more important piece of advice: you may give testimony about Jesus to people who will not only reject what you say but laugh at you for saying it. They may even heap insults or abuse on you. Read scripture. The apostles rejoiced when this happened.
And consider that by testifying to Jesus you may be planting a seed in the person’s soul. You don’t know how that seed may grow. Maybe it will die from lack of water. Maybe it will not take root. But perhaps it will, and with time and experience in life, the person who once scoffed at you may stand at your side at a Divine Liturgy (Mass).
It is something to hope and pray for!