After reading Paul’s post about how to respond to ‘Drive-By Theology‘ incidents, my friend, EWTN apologist John Martignoni, gently chided me and said, “Dan, there is a better way to answer in those types of situations then what you offered your audience.” I think John was referring to my advice that Paul referenced at the end of his post. John is very shy that way.
He then proceeded to tell me that the better way to handle such a situation would be to say, with as much surprise and amusement as you can muster,
“I can’t BELIEVE you would say something like that!”
Then, no matter what their initial response is to what you’ve said, you follow up with,
“Well, as a Christian, I know you value truth, since Jesus says He is the Truth, so I can understand that you might disagree with the Catholic Church on some of its teachings, but I can’t believe you would say things about it that simply were not true.”
Then, when they start to ask what is it about what they’ve said that isn’t true, or even if they just straight out dismiss your comment, you can follow up by either explaining why what they said isn’t true, or telling them that you don’t have the time right now, but you’ll get them some information that will give them the facts on that topic…then just walk away.
But, make sure you get that information – either an CD, a DVD, book, pamphlet, etc. – to them, or engage them in a follow-up conversation when you are indeed ready with the facts.
The beauty of this is that while they initially may have surprised you, you have turned it around and surprised them with your reply. They won’t be expecting it and they won’t be ready for it. So you now have the advantage, and you can use that advantage to explain things to them right then and there – if it is an appropriate time and place – or, at some other time of your choosing and when you are fully prepared to do so. It’s sort of like spiritual judo – using the opponent’s force against them (all in the spirit of helping them to heaven of course).
Ok – so you get John’s approach. Let me conclude with a recommendation that if you are interested in apologetics, you will find no more practical advice than John’s. He is what I call a “Blue-collar Apologist” because, no matter who you are, you can use his advice. If you want to learn more about John go to www.BibleChristianSociety.com. He provides free materials in both English and Spanish.
PS: Yes, that is John in that suit of armor. He is much more friendly that he looks!;)
Art: Tower of London, 12 September 2012, Steve Collis, CC, Wikimedia Commons.