Skip to comments.Apologetics: The Next Generation [Ecumenical]
Posted on 05/06/2012 8:23:34 AM PDT by Salvation
by Eddie O'Neil in Faith on Saturday, April 17, 2010 6:00 AM
Easter reminds us to go and share the good news of Christs glorious resurrection. Young adults who are on fire for the faith are doing just that using some traditional means of defending the Church as well as tapping into the use of new media to get the message out.
Down south at Texas A&M University, the opportunities are plentiful for the more than 12,000 Catholics students to get involved in their faith. According to Marcel LeJeune, assistant director of campus ministry at St. Marys Catholic Center, there are about 80 different Catholic student organizations.
One of those organizations is Aggie Cat: Aggie Catholic Apologetic Team. LeJeune estimates that 30 students are regulars at this apostolate. Under the guidance of a peer leadership team, the students pick an apologetics topic such as grace, salvation or authority; they research it, then give a talk about it to the group at large. A discussion follows.
The students learn a lot, notes LeJeune. It helps them to grow in their knowledge and being comfortable to talk about their faith.
Another popular program under way at the universitys Catholic Center is Ask a Catholic a Question. Trained students wear bright shirts emblazoned with the phrases Ask a Catholic a question on the back and Ask me a question on the front. They stand in high-traffic areas on campus to wait for questions.
Howard Sonnier, a senior bioenvironmental science major, wasnt afraid to show his faith as a campus bus driver a few years ago. He donned his brightly colored shirt and found the daily commute to be a great venue for apologetics.
Every semester I would have a few people who would actually wait for my bus on their route in order to continue the conversation that we had previously begun, notes Sonnier.
LeJeune says that the majority of questions are from fundamentalist or evangelical students.
There has been a lot of fruit from this, LeJeune says. We dont try to get into arguments. I teach the students to have respect for the person asking the questions. They are there to offer themselves as an embrace of God.
In the world of the blogosphere, Jennifer Fulwiler has a story to tell. Her website ConversionDiary.com counts close to 5,000 clicks a day from readers who want to hear from her: a lifelong atheist who entered the Church along with her husband and family in 2007.
The mother of four small children says that she began the blog in August 2005 after having read Lee Strobels popular work The Case for Christ. She was then reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and felt alone in what she was discovering about Christianity.
I didnt have any friends who had any faith of any sort, Fulwiler recalls. In my social circle, I was the most committed atheist of the atheists. So I started this blog completely anonymously in order to ask questions of Christians.
Those questions attracted her to the teaching authority and Tradition of the Catholic Church. Fulwiler describes her journey as purely intellectual, with little emotion attached. Her conclusion: Christianity and specifically the worldview of Catholicism is more reasonable than atheism.
Fulwiler notes that her own story has struck a chord with readers who have a similar story or have questions on how to deal with an atheistic friend or family member. While she confesses that she is not sure that she would qualify as an apologist in the strict sense of the term, she feels that the blog is there to help others understand the richness of the faith.
I promised myself that if I ever found any answers I would share what I found as a resource for other people with a background of atheism, she says, and that is what I have done with the blog.
At VulgataMagazine.org, Melinda Selmys, a frequent Register contributor, describes a similar mission. It was 10 years ago when the then twentysomething Selmys and her social group of atheists, neo-pagans, pantheists and existentialists started attending Mass, and as she describes oit, rhapsodizing about the doctrine of transubstantiation.
She says that she and her band of friends, while diving into the intellectual and philosophical dimensions of the Church, found that the apologetics materials available were narrow and aimed at an American audience.
To solve that problem, they began a print and online magazine that would revive the medieval aesthetics of the Church and address some of the more pertinent topics that faced their generation.
Our goal is to make the Catholic worldview aesthetically appealing first and intellectually convincing second, says the mother of five. Straight apologetics usually gets read and raved about by the choir but makes little impression on the average reader. So, we are going for a kind of guerrilla apologetics.
A new edition of Vulgata, which is currently available only online, usually contains a column called The Latest Thing, a spoof in which biblical events are reported with blatant liberal bias.
A typical issue will have the translated work of Czechoslovakian Cardinal Tomas Spidlik and a smattering of fiction. All of it is surrounded by classic medieval Catholic artwork. Selmys, who is responsible for putting all of these pieces of the puzzle together, says that the websites audience is for those who think of themselves as perhaps countercultural.
If Catholicism is stuffy, prudish or authoritarian, then its going to lose out to queer culture, gangsta rap and the juvenile vampire brigade, notes Selmys.
In the end, both Selmys and Fulwiler would agree that blogging apologetics is a wonderful way to give testimony to the marvels that God has done in their lives.
Ive seen how many people God has helped through me sharing my own bumbling efforts of faith, explains Fulwiler. Knowing that my story is helping others makes it well worth the effort.
Eddie ONeill writes from Green Bay, Wisconsin. this article originally appeared in our sister publication, the National Catholic Register.
I’m not Catholic but my son is a junior in a classically oriented Christian HS and one of his required classes is Apologetics. He also has Rhetoric, Logic and Latin. I really like the classic education model because it teaches him not what to think but how to think for himself and to educate himself on any subject throughout his life.
His Apologetics teacher is currently having them study “Letters to a Christian Nation” written by an atheist attempting to explain why God doesn’t exist. They are learning how the other side thinks and how to defend their faith against it. His papers revolve around pointing out the fallacies and flaws in the book. In fact the atheist author commits many of the same lapses in atheist dogma that he accuses the religious believers of doing.
I don't think I've met too many true-blue Methodist, Presbyterians, etc. I know some Texans who come close. One is so good she ought to be Catholic. Her daughter is on husband number five, nice woman, who can't make up her mind.
None of the above Protestants know their faith well enough to make me even furrow my brow a TAD.
That sounds like a pretty good class.
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