How to talk to a non-believer (part 2)

How to talk to a non-believer (part 2):

This reading is in support of the St Thomas mission to support the Year of Faith and the Emeritus Pontiff’s call for mission.

Last week we started a discussion on how to talk to the non-believer. We outlined that a person without the upbringing and knowledge of history, the scriptures, or even advanced philosophical discussions might not be quite prepared to hear what it is you have to say.

There are many discussions and debates that can be had in the discussion for the Devine; for the meaning of life; the “Why are we here?” questions that come in the middle of the night, or in Philosophy 101 at your university.

We Catholics as a whole are not known to be evangelical. We do not go on mandatory missions to foreign countries like the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). We go to church, maybe manage a pilgrimage or two during our lives and pass our faith on to our children.

So when confronted by someone who does not believe in Christianity, or doesn’t believe that Catholics are Christians, or even that there is a God, might we start with some tips on how to manage the discussion?

First Point: Listen

The key to shaping any discussion is in knowing what the heart of the problem is. We don’t know at this point if the person we are talking to is mad because of the Spanish Inquisition, or if they are having trouble with the concept of creating the Universe in 6 days. Just what is it that they are having trouble with?

Listening will help you get a grip on what the person is trying to come to grips with.

Number two: Don’t just quote standard statements.

That is don’t try and use the Unicorn argument that we discussed in last week’s message. The fact that accepting Jesus and being baptized into his church gives you a warm fuzzy doesn’t mean that telling someone else to blindly do this will make them feel better.

Number three: Speak from personal experience.

There are Atheist and believers from different denominations who believe that their way is the only way; the only truth. They will try to embarrass you and achieve a feeling of superiority. I strongly encourage you to think twice before engaging with one of these types, as it will take a self-confident and knowledgeable person to joust with this type of person.

If the person has genuinely opened this type of conversation with you, then it will be because they have seen something in your life that is missing in theirs. Whether or not they admit this, it means they trust you.

You should feel free to tell them what about your religion reassures you at night. You should tell them about the tough times in life that you knew God was there for you and helped you get through that tough time. You do not have to share each detail, but by sharing experiences from you life, you will make the telling all the more real for the listener.

Number Four: Get to know the person

The person you are talking to is in this discussion for a reason. They may have something on their mind that goes beyond just their salvation status. I know this may sound like listening and that is an important part of it, but getting to know who you are talking to and what is important to them at this time in their life, may help you bridge the gap.

Five: Know your subject

We all envy Father William’s recollection of the scripture, stories and amazing antidotes of each Saint. He is a treasure for us.

We all cannot be like him, but we should know the basics. We should relearn our lessons from the gospels as they make us not only better Christians, but better overall people. We should know why we believe in the Communion of Saints and what our Apostle’s Creed says. We should know the difference between praying to Mother Marry and worshipping her.

Given the church is over 2000 years old; it helps to know a little something about history as well. What life and the environment were like during the times that these events happened makes a difference.

Finally, Don’t try to win the argument! Making significant life changes isn’t normally accomplished by a 30-minute conversation. Normally people take one or two points and then think them over before accepting them. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of others in the Church or in your family. We always have others that we can turn to for discussion and opinions.

Plant the seed and pray. Let God and Jesus’ love do the heavy lifting.

God Bless: