How To Be An Effective Catholic Apologist

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The first verse every catholic apologist should keep in mind, and I love it because it’s very encouraging, is this:

My brothers and sisters, if any of you wander away from the truth and another one brings them back again, remember this: whoever turns a sinner back from his or her wrong way will save his soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
– James 5:19-20

However, remember these two things while you evangelize: firstly, expect to be persecuted because of the Gospel. But, since this calling to evangelize is from God (Mark 16:15-18), do not be afraid; God will be with you. All you have to do is make a firm decision for Christ before you begin to evangelize. As you know, a double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). Jesus says:

This will be your chance to tell the Good News. Make up your minds beforehand not to worry about how you will defend yourselves, because I will give you such words and wisdom that none of your enemies will be able to refute or contradict what you say. You will be handed over by your parents, your brothers, your relatives, and your friends; and some of you will be put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a single hair from your heads will be lost. Stand firm, and you will save yourselves.
– Luke 21:13-19

Secondly, God didn’t call you to please everyone, neither did He call you to annoy everyone. There is a right way to evangelize, and there are many wrong ways to do it. The most common error people make when they evangelize is that they to downplay the effect of sin. They don’t want to sound judgmental or insulting.

This makes no sense to me because whenever you speak the truth, you will offend people. Even St. Paul found that a lot of people took offense, and that is why he wrote:

Have I now become your enemy by telling your enemy by telling you the truth?
– Galatians 4:16

Do NOT judge!

In the biblical sense (Matthew 7:1), when you pass judgment, you’re saying that a certain person, because of their present or past actions, is incapable of repentance and as a result, is bound to go to hell. That is something only God can know. As far as we know, anyone can repent at any moment and be saved.

Criticizing and pointing out wrongs, however, is not that kind of judgment judgment. In fact, these criticisms are how the apostles and their successors preached the Gospel for many centuries. Without pointing out a wrong, there’s nothing to repent from and the entire Gospel would be meaningless to the person you’re talking to.

However, if we do not recognize that we’re speaking to someone whom we’re trying to save, and speak to them with love, we may make it even more difficult for them to come to see the sinfulness of their ways. The Bible says:

You are to open their eyes and turn them from the darkness to the light and from the power of Satan to God, so that through their faith in me they will have their sins forgiven and receive their place among God’s chosen people. …

But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honour him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect. Keep your conscience clear, so that when you are insulted, those who speak evil of your good conduct as followers of Christ will be ashamed of what they say. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if this should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
– Acts 26:18; 1 Peter 3:15

The sleazy sales man

The second error many people fall into is being unnecessarily relentless in their efforts to convert others. Know when to stop. Jesus himself tells us when to stop:

When you come to a town or village, go in and look for someone who is willing to welcome you, and stay with him until you leave that place. When you go into a house, say, ‘Peace be with you.’ If the people in that house welcome you, let your greeting of peace remain; but if they do not welcome you, then take back your greeting. And if some home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you that on the Judgement Day God will show more mercy to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than to the people of that town!
– Matthew 10:11-15

It is not biblical to keep preaching to someone who, after listening to you, says, “I don’t want to hear about your God.” It’s also unwise to keep arguing with someone who has made it clear where he stands on the matter and is only in it for the argument. You’ll know such people by how they openly disagree with everything you say. They’ll either insist that there is no God, or that some other religion, school of thought, or denomination is better than the Gospel Truth as taught in Catholicism:

But keep away from foolish and ignorant arguments; you know that they end up in quarrels. As the Lord’s servant, you must not quarrel. You must be kind towards all, a good and patient teacher, gentle as you correct your opponents, for it may be that God will give them the opportunity to repent and come to know the truth. And then they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the Devil, who had caught them and made them obey his will.
– 2 Timothy 2:23-26

Pray always

My advice to you, and this comes from personal experience, is that you should pray before every mission. I find that praying for them starts their conversion before your ministry, and it continues it long after you’ve left their homes. Sometimes, and people usually do this with a very personal case like a family member or close friend, you can even fast.

Before you fast, I advice you read and understand Matthew 6:16-18 and Isaiah 58:1-12.

Do you wish your prayers to fly to heaven? Give it two wings: fasting and almsgiving.
– St. Augustine

Also, always pray the rosary for the conversion of youths. You never know when you’ll bump into one who needs to learn to love and experience the One True God through the teachings of the Catholic Church. It’s not nice to procrastinate evangelism; no one knows when the Lord will demand our lives.

Your own salvation is at stake here!

More importantly, pray for yourself. When you begin the work of an evangelist, you are messing with territories that have long been under the influence of the evil one. Demons, are in charge of the souls you want to save, and they don’t like Catholic missionaries.

Many ministers have fallen into sinful lifestyles because they neglected this very vital part. They’ve been trapped in sexual immorality, greed, lust for money, fame, and power. Many have even caused more harm to those they minister too.

You cannot fight a spiritual battle using physical weapons. Click To Tweet

The bible says:

Finally, build up your strength in the union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. Put on all the armour that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks. For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. So put on God’s armour now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.

So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.
– Ephesians 6:10-18

Keep in mind that preaching does not guarantee your salvation, neither does performing miracles while on a mission. For the bible says:

Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do. When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’ Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!’
– Matthew 7:21-23

All this I do for the gospel’s sake, in order to share in its blessings. Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever. That is why I run straight for the finish line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.
– 1 Corinthians 9:23-27

To succeed at ministry, you MUST be disciplined and prayerful. Click To Tweet

Ora. Audi. Parere.

Related: How to be an effective Catholic Apologist
Related: What most Protestants (and Catholics) don’t know about the bible

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