For the prospective apologist, I’d like to mention one thing. Maybe two. Well, a bunch of things. As I’m writing this, I’m getting a bunch of ideas. Anyway…
1. The importance of prayer. Catholics are famous for making the sign of the Cross before we endeavor to do anything serious or dangerous. That little prayer is the least we should do before we begin to fight against the dominions and powers with whom we begin to wage war when we begin to practice apologetics.
2. We all have different gifts. For example, myself. You’ll find my apologetics all over the internet. Why? Because, before I respond to anyone, I need to consider their argument, break it down into its smallest parts, look up the Catholic Doctrine and Scriptures which are relevant, etc. etc.
Street Evangelists don’t have that luxury. They have to be quick on the draw, humorous, thick skinned, calm, and over all skilled at verbal repartee. All gifts which are absent from my personality. Therefore, I stick to written, deliberate responses.
3. Make friends. Its easier to talk to friends. As I said above, I’m not good at street evangelization. I have about 20 years of experience at written apologetics and that has made it easier for me to talk to say, Jehova Witnesses and Mormons who come to my door.
But friends are a different matter. I have many Protestant friends. And after they get over the shock of realizing that there are actually Catholic explanations for the Scriptures, we have many excellent discussions.
4. Plant a seed. I learned long ago that my eloquence has nothing to do with whether a person will be converted or not. In twenty years, I know of one couple that emailed me and said they were going to investigate the Catholic Church based upon my responses. I never heard anything from them again.
So, don’t set out to convert anyone. Leave that to God. Your job is to give people reasons for your hope. Tell them why you believe what you believe.
4. How I talk to strangers. I do talk to stingers, occasionally. When they come to my door. The first few times that I tried that, it ended miserably bad. Angry arguments and yelling.
So, I did what I’m best at. I wrote out a plan. I’ve got it sort of memorized now, so I don’t need to refer to it, anymore.
When I was younger, I played sports and my coaches had a very important lesson for apologetics. Stick to your game plan. It doesn’t matter what question they bring or what they say, I always turn their attention to Matt 16:18-19. Let’s say for instance, that a JW or Mormon asks, “Sir, have you received one of our pamphlets?” I’ll say, “No. But there’s a reason for that. Do you have your Bible? (They always do.) Please turn to Matt 16:18-19. You see, Jesus Christ did not write any Scripture. He established a Church with authority and He promised that this Church would never succumb to the gates of hell. I searched everywhere and the only Church I found that has been around since the time of Christ is the Catholic Church.”
Then they might bring some objection about the time of Constantine or the great apostasy or something. But I’ll dismiss it by saying, “I believe the promise of Jesus Christ, that His Church will last forever.”
Anyway, I’ve added more to it in the many years since I started doing that. Normally, they’ll read a Scripture and I’ll listen to it. Then, when I’m ready to end the discussion, I’ll turn their attention to Gal 1:8. And I’ll explain why I can’t listen to their strange gospel which was not taught by the Apostles.
I’ll do my best to end on a polite note and thank them for their visit. And I always tell them that I admire their courage for coming out to evangelize their faith.
I’ve had no more shouting arguments with anyone.