MAKATI City, April 7, 2015 –- What is it that apologists do? Debate? Quote Bible verses from memory? According to a priest, an apologist or a faith defender is first and foremost, an evangelizer.
“A defender, an apologist is basically an evangelizer…Once you get this, you can be safeguarded from extremes,” said Msgr. Sabino Vengco, Jr., a lecturer and professor of Systematic and Sacramental Theology at the Loyola School of Theology, during a recent recollection with members of the Accredited Archdiocesan Apologists of the Archdiocese of Manila at the Bahay Pari, San Carlos Seminary in Guadalupe, Makati.
According to the priest, the role of the apologist, more than knowing about Church documents and Scripture is to make Christ available others, facilitating a personal encounter with Christ.
Sweetness of truth
“Apologetics is a form of evangelization. What is over all is Jesus Christ, His Gospel…If what we do is evangelization, we want to share the truth and the truth is Jesus Christ. The truth is a person,” he explained.
The priest, who gave the first session of the half-day recollection, was quick to dispel the image of the modern apologist who humiliates others to prove his point.
“In this life, our method, therefore, should be for the good of the others, not to crush whoever..[Our] ultimate goal is for people to taste joy in the sweetness of truth,” Vengco added.
According to him, defenders of the faith who use their knowledge and grasp of the Bible, Canon Law or Church traditions to humiliate others in debate are like modern “dinosaurs”, who step on their enemies.
Formula for apologists
Speaking to the young professionals, Vengco gave them a formula to live by as apologists: “In necessary things, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, love.”
He explained that people of faith should be united on essential matters, but should have an attitude of liberty when discussing non-essential matters with individuals of different beliefs like religious images, praying the rosary and that charity should be the compelling quality of all their interactions.
“If we don’t follow this, what we’re preaching is not Christ anymore…You will not convince anyone,” Vengco warned.
He was also quick to observe that the “truth that gives life is the truth that is given in charity.”
Apologetics comes from the Greek root word apologia or to defense.
The second session was given by Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani, Jr. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz/CBCPNews)