In one of my spiritual directions, I told my priest about my interest in apologetics. I have this desire to know more about the faith and defend it to the best that I can. I didn’t tell it in order to impress him nor to boast that I know all about the intricate business of argumentation. The truth is I don’t.
Because we are free to say anything we want during SD’s for as long as it concerns our seminary life, telling it is one way for me to let him know that there are people who don’t take church doctrines lightly. He told me that it’s good that I had this desire. However, according to him apologetics is not what the church is promoting now. It’s not what the Church “really emphasized” (I hope my paraphrase did justice to his statements). What the Church needs are people who are strong enough to proclaim Christ in the way they live.
One time in my bible class, we came across the word apologetics. The instructor told us that the leaning of the Church now is more on ecumenism than apologetics. For whereas apologetics produces spirit of dissent, ecumenism engenders spirit of unity.
For sure, I was enlightened with what they say. However, I don’t look at apologetics they way they look at it. Why? Because as man advances in his knowledge and experience, questions will inevitably arise. I have experienced it myself. I questioned the doctrines of the Church before. Because these questions created prejudices in me, I searched for the answers not in the Church but outside of it. These led me to bible studies with born-again groups, attended indoctrination with the Iglesia ni Cristo, bible study with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, fellowship with an Anti-Trinitarian group, and so on. I may not have the intention of affiliating with them, but it’s a way of trying to figure out the answers to my questions.
And I wasn’t surprised to find out that I am not alone in that quest. Many others also feel the same. Some chose to remain Catholic despite that, while others chose to leave. It’s also hard to find someone who can answer your questions. Once, there was an input on Church teachings in our school handled by a missionary sister. I attended the. event. At the end of the input there was a Question and Answer portion. I chose to remain silent and just listen; I believe that others would question the same questions that I have. But I was surprised with the sister’s answer, she said “Why do they question our faith, do we question theirs? Ang imo, imo ug ang aho, aho.” I smiled.
Of course, attacks by other denominations are not uncommon, especially in MSU where they prey on new students whose only intention is to study and were innocent about their faith. And what if a Born-Again out there would indeed question them, what would they answer, “Ang imo, imo ug ang aho, aho?” A question begs an answer, and that kind of answer does not answer the question.
The truth is, many Catholics out there are in dire need of answers to their questions. Many are not contented by simply knowing that Mary is the mother of God, that Peter was the first pope, and that Jesus is God. They want to know why. They want to know the reason behind their beliefs. Of course, it should be faith and not reason that should be the lynchpin of our beliefs but as St. Anselm put it, “Faith that seeketh understanding.”
Plus, there are a lot of sects out there who are in need of people to come to their fold. While we Catholics are so careful not to tamper on their religious sentiments, yet sometimes they are not that careful when it comes to us. Of course, we can just simply stand our ground and reject whatever they would tell us but doing so would only give them the impression that Catholics are narrow-minded individuals. In fact, we are their favorite prey because they already had the impression that we don’t care about the why’s of our faith. In such situation, we are an easy target.
So is it haughtiness when you tackle doctrines to your peers? I don’t think so. Oh well, I know the necessity of learning the lessons from the proper authorities. We cannot interpret Church doctrines according to our own understanding. Besides we cannot learn all these on our own. It would be a very big advantage to have tutelage under the Catholic Faith Defenders. But if not, there are books, there is the internet they are very helpful resources. We only have to be extra careful in choosing the websites we would use. We can ask help from our priests, if they are willing since I’ve met some who are not so predisposed to such undertakings. And most of all, it should be done with humility, loyalty and love for Christ and His Church because without these our knowledge would only lead to heresy.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
-1 Peter 3:15