I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this:
I sent a copy of this post to Reese Currie, the author of the page I was criticizing, “Can Catholic Tradition Be Valid?” He responded, and we started what I think has been a really great dialogue. He has had a lot of qualms and questions about the Catholic Church, but he’s respectful and genuinely devoted to the Truth. Certainly, we have different views on some points, but he read my criticisms of his post, added a few of his (like the fact that since the Eastern Orthodox believe in transubstantiation, it obviously predates 1215 as a belief, since the two halves were split by then). Anyways, he wrote to the webmaster, and asked that the page be taken down, either permanently or until it can be revised. Additionally, he promised to notify me if a revised page went up, so I could criticize it if it was still flawed.
It’s be an incredibly edifying experience. I’ve resisted the urge to blog about it, because I feel like big chunks of it are personal, and that the whole process would work less well if I was publicizing everything that either one of us said to each other.
I realize that this is, in the scheme of things, a small achievement, to have one of the probably millions of anti-Catholic pages taken off the Internet (I mean, there are other old articles he’s written still up on the same site), and even if every author were as open-minded and capable of handling criticism as Reese (and most of them aren’t), the sheer amount of effort it would take to address each falsehood would be too much. But nevertheless, it’s been a rewarding and wonderful experience. I think that I’m not alone when I say that it seems like people who post patently untrue things about the Catholic Church seem like an “impossible to reach” demographic, but when you find out that the overwhelming majority mean well, and just rely upon bad sources, and more than that, are open to hearing the other side, it’s great.
One of the things that struck home about this was how much further humility gets you than aggressiveness. It’s easy to wield the truth as a sword against people who don’t know what we know, but that’s an arrogant and ineffective manner of evangelism. I’m reminded again of the first passage I put up when I started this blog, 1 Peter 3:15b-16: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.” It’s always a struggle, but I’m going to keep trying to do what St. Peter says there.