Imagine this situation on social media. There is a Catholic discussion group and the members are currently discussing good First Communion gifts, and a new group member breaks in. ‘Hello, I’m a REAL Christian, not like you hellbound Catholics. I know this is supposed to be a Catholic group. I lied about being Catholic to get in. But that’s OK because I’m here to SAVE YOUR SOULS by getting you to repent of your sins of worshiping Mary and the Pope instead of Jesus. And you call your priests ‘Father’ and my father always told me it’s a sin to call any man ‘father.’ I have ten great books written by the pastor of my church on why all Catholics are hellbound, I will give you the list, and you can buy the books, read them, and then I can explain to you all the things you don’t understand…’
Now, is this person witnessing, or just Catholic-bashing? Most Catholics would say the latter. It doesn’t matter how sincere you are, when you insult people you are trying to witness to, you are not planting seeds of your faith but pushing people farther away.
If you feel called to ‘witness’ to a Catholic, you must know actual facts about what the Catholic Church really teaches. Don’t go by some anti-Catholic book written by a member of your denomination, or even the testimony of someone who came from a Catholic family and got ‘saved’ in your church. Many childhood Catholics never had any sort of Catholic religious education and may know less about what practicing Catholics believe than anybody.
Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church to know what real-world Catholics believe. This document has many references to Bible verses or sayings of Early Church leaders that back a certain teaching up. If you are not willing to read from a Catholic source, perhaps you should restrain from making claims about what Catholics believe.
Read The Catholic Verses by Dave Armstrong. He is a former Protestant who became Catholic.
Another important point is to know what you believe and why you believe it. If your church has a catechism or statement of faith, read it. If you don’t believe in ‘doctrine ‘ but just in ‘what the Bible teaches,’ learn more about the many different teachings different Bible-believers find in the same Bible. Learn from Bible commentaries or by learning to read the Bible in the original languages.
Above all, be civil enough to see things from other points of view. You may think a Catholic is hellbound, the Catholic may think you are hellbound. Bickering and insulting is not the way to win people over.
I find that a good number of those who purport to ‘witness’ online are just exposing their ignorance and incivility. Remember, Jesus did not win over the Samaritan woman by declaring she was a whore from a false sect. She had heard insults before, she would not have been moved. But Jesus cared enough about her to be kind even when she was in the wrong on some things.
Let us hope we can all be more like Jesus and less like the online jerks we have all encountered.
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