Do we Christians hog-tie ourselves when it comes to engaging non-believers? Stephen Bullivant discusses at America last month. His short article focuses on one thing, faith. It seems timely this is the same topic of this year’s papal encyclical. “Christian Complicity” scratches the surface. The topic might fill a substantial book. Professor Bullivant, in fact, has such a book coming out soon.
He draws on Christian thinkers from Augustine to Henri de Lubac. The doctor first, in the challenge of Christians speaking ignorance on the sciences. Is the point “winning” an argument? Not really. Augustine is concerned about a higher goal:
If (non-believers) find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?
Aside from the caution to speak intelligently in the disciplines of secular inquiry, always with an eye to the conversion of the unbeliever, we should consider our own knowledge of the faith.
Do we ask questions? Do we prepare? Do we engage difficult points among ourselves? Recent documents from Evangelii Nuntiandi to Lumen Fidei speak of the need to evangelize believers themselves.
Henri de Lubac:
If so many observers, who are not lacking in acumen or in religious spirit, are so grievously mistaken about the essence of Catholicism, is it not an indication that Catholics should make an effort to understand it better themselves?
Really? Are we training theologians in every pew? My sense is small steps. And one at a time. A little Bible study. Some lectio divina or Centering Prayer. Attend a lecture. Read a papal encyclical.