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Monday, February 02, 2004

Apologetics: "It's a Dirty Job, but Somebody's Got To Do It"

I've been reading the exchange between various bloggers (Bill Cork, Dale Price, Envoy Encore among others) about Robert R. Gaillardetz's article in America. This humourous assessment from Lane Core, Jr. particularly resonated with me:
Gaillardetz seems to have a rather romantic notion of "dialogue". I don't suppose the following scenario has occurred to him.

Sincere Protestant Fundamentalist: "The Romish Church is the Whore of Babylon! Drunk on the blood of the 50 million Christians it killed during the Dark Ages! And the pope and his evil minions are still dragging millions of dupes into hell with their man-made system!"

Newer Catholic Apologist: "Can we dialogue?"

For every Catholic turned off by the New Apologists, I'll bet there are ten former Protestants who thank God every day for them — and ten cradle Catholics equally grateful that somebody finally explained and defended the faith that had been handed on to them so poorly.

Unfortunately, Lane Core's "sincere Protestant Fundamentalist" is more than a caricature; it's an all-too-common menace one encounters in many parts of the United States, and which can easily choke the budding faith of a new Catholic. And like it or not, you really can't get "ecumenical" with these kind of people; "dialogue" is hardly an option when you're dodging slander and lies -- at least not until somebody like Karl Keating rolls up his sleeves and gets to work clearing away the b.s. with a book like Catholicism and Fundamentalism.

I share Bill Cork's enthusiasm for Thomas Merton and Cardinal Newman. Both certainly have their places on my bookshelf, but in a time where anti-Catholicism is rampant, I'm sincerely grateful for apologists like Kreeft, Keating and Madrid. And while Bill blogs on the importance of evangelization, some of the very apologists he's criticized can be -- should be -- credited with evangelizing countless fallen-away Catholics and Protestants in America. I'm probably not the only one out there who as a new convert experienced a thrill in discovering magazines like Envoy and This Rock, which provided a refreshing course in the Catholic faith and the necessary tools to refute the challenges of the fundamentalists. Hahn, Keating, Madrid, Fr. Pacwa and others are also part of the inspirational Coming Home Network providing support for Protestant and Orthodox clergy on the journey to Rome.

That said, let's cut Gaillardetz some slack, as he appears to be presently occupied with Voice of the Faithful and dialoguing on the finer points of women's ordination. I don't know to what extent he has evangelized "insecure Catholics and fundamentalists," but had he spent a significant amount of time in a small town or college campus populated by "bible Christians," perhaps he would display greater appreciation for the service of the New Apologists.

From the new blog Against The Grain

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Against The Grain is the personal blog of Christopher Blosser - web designer and all around maintenance guy for the original Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club (Now Pope Benedict XVI).

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