Thursday, February 23, 2012

Apologetics on tap -- in the Philippines

I haven't seen this sort of animated public debate about the Catholic Faith in a long time. I suppose some "Theology on Tap" sessions could take a turn in this direction. But what other venues can you imagine in the United States today for this sort of public confrontation over theological issues? I don't mean the Internet. I mean live bodies hashing out the issues before an animated crowd like St. Paul on Mars Hill (Areopagus) as related in the Book of Acts, ch. 17.

Of course, there is Hyde Park in London, where anybody can mount a soap box and hold forth in front of anyone willing to listen. I remember at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, there is also a place called "The Pit," where there is a similar arrangement.

The phenomenon raises interesting questions. Are people too apathetic in the United States today, either as speakers or listeners, to get involved? I should hope not. I hear a great deal about "The New Evangelization" these days, mostly associated with in house programs about aspects of the Catholic Faith with fellow parishioners; but I'm more interested in the verb: is anyone actually "evangelizing" in the sense of communicating the Catholic Faith to those outside the Church? Is there any sense of urgency about this?

What we have in this video, of course, is "Apologetics," which is a bit different from "Evangelization," but hardly unrelated. If "evangelizing" is sharing the Faith, "apologetics" is defending it. And nobody is likely to make much headway in evangelizing these days, without also being willing and able to deal with all the predictable sorts of arguments and false assumptions he will confront when raising religious issues with nonbelievers. Positively put, one must be willing and able to offer replies to objections, along with good reasons for accepting the claims of the Faith as true.

I suppose this will all come in due time, with adequate persecution. There's nothing like suffering to focus the mind.