Thursday, August 09, 2007

Estrogen Induced Apologetics...

Over the last week, I have been in dialogue with Executive Pastor Chuck Jamison of 'The Rock' Church in San Diego, California. The dialogue began as a mistake, really. In Googling some information regarding the historical elements of the Church, an article came up which was essentially notes from a talk given by former pastor at 'The Rock' named Kyle Osland. The Title was: True Religion: Catholicism?

The article was embarrassingly inaccurate on several counts regarding the Catholic faith, even going so far as to claim that Catholics believe Paul to be our first Pope! He muffs the concept of infallibility, claiming that this charism means the Pope a) cannot sin and b) cannot make a mistake in matters outside of faith and morals. In short, there were too many errors in that small article than can/should be mentioned here. I wrote a polite but firm letter to Pastor Jamison who politely (and quickly!) informed me that Pastor Osland had moved on to another ecclesial community, apologized for the Paul/Papacy issue and was very gracious. He then honestly put forth some questions about Catholicism, including 'Do non-Catholics go to Heaven in light of the Pope's document clarifying the Nature of the Catholic Church in recent weeks?' and 'Where do I find the doctrine of Purgatory in Scripture?'.

Honest questions, to be sure, and at some point I hope to post the entire exchange. But that's for another day. One thing I noticed is that, in my responses, I proceeded to set up an almost adversarial relationship between us and recall feeling that adversarial demeanor in me as I wrote. Not in a disrespectful or tasteless way, but confrontational to be sure. In showing my responses to my wife, her first reaction was 'wow, 6 pages of berating him followed by one charitable remark in your last paragraph.' OUCH.

As is true in athletics, business, and other disciplines, men just don't get it sometimes. We grunt, we grind, and we win--that is all. We care little for long walks by the beach, bouquets of flowers, or pillow fights. We prefer to get dirty, stay impersonal, and win. A fundamental difference in men and women has become SO apparent to me--men wanna rule, women wanna understand. For men, knowledge is power. For women, knowledge is understanding. My wife's response to Pastor Chuck would've been softer, more encouraging, and desirous of cultivating a bond between them via sincere questions and answers. My response was thorough, to the point, and hopeful that Pastor Chuck would take a few swings so I could prove something to him. In short, my response came from the James White School of Charm. The result? Pastor Jamison didn’t seem all that interested in me and my responses after 2 or 3 exchanges. I’m sure I hadn’t changed his mind and/or heart because I didn’t know what was IN his mind and heart.

This is why we need more women in the field of Apologetics in the Catholic Church. Look at the preeminent apologists in our Church today--Cardinal Dulles, Peter Kreeft, Scott Hahn, Tim Staples, Pat Madrid, Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, Dave Armstrong....See any pattern forming? They're all GUYS! Where are all the women at? I've seen many a strong Catholic woman shred uneducated (and super-educated, for that matter!) non-Catholics in person, on blogs, and on message boards, so why are they not among the ranks of big time Catholic apologists? Regardless of the reason, we need them. We need you, ladies! You hold the key to apologetics because you hold the ability to cultivate relationships with your interlocutors. You possess compassion to go along with your knowledge and ability to make an argument. You don't scare people off, you invite them into your faith, and quell their fears while making Truth abundantly clear. In short, women are the Church’s secret weapon of evangelism. Sure, our priests are key, our husbands/fathers are important as spiritual priests in the domestic church, but our women can be the link between Mother Church and those who would burn the Catholic Church at the stake in the outside world.
Edit: OK, I think I may have an idea to the 'why no women apologists' question. In perusing a Catholic message board in my attempt to find some information on an atheist-related question, I found this thread, entitled, 'Women Should Not Engage In Apologetics With Men?'
The topic was broached by a woman who apparently had been debating a gentleman (non-Catholic) on the existence and nature of Hell. The woman rightly presented the historical context of the Catholic teaching on Hell from the Early Church Fathers and received this:

your posts here attempting to instruct me and other men goes against the
way the church has traditionally viewed the role of women. Of course there
are many exceptions, as there are with how hell is viewed. But typically, women have not been permitted to instruct men on matters of
A survey of traditional interpretations of 1 Corinthians
14:34-35 -- Catholic and Protestant -- may surprise you. So, seeking to
unswervingly follow the traditional majority through time may help you maintain your view on hell, but in the process, it would make you unable to share your views with us.
I don't want that to happen!)

Huh? Now I don't want to get off on a rant here but rule number ONE of engaging in apologetics is PLAY FAIR. The pomposity, ignorance of history (biblical and church history), and outright audacity of someone to claim that an argument is incorrect because a woman is making it blows me away. But it does give me insight into the burden that women can encounter in the field of
apologetics or other disciplines. I guess it's not all that different from other
professional fields. The prooftext that this bozo is referring to is 1Corinthians 14:34:

"women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church."

The bolded part actually means something, it's not there as some esoteric verbiage. Catholic teaching on this verse is reflected in the General
Instruction of the Roman Missal as well as in Canon Law--only a priest may instruct in doctrine in Church. Hint: it's called a 'homily'. Further, Canon 212 states about ALL Catholics:

"According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and
to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals,
with reverence to their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons. "

In other words, we all, via our dignity as followers of Christ through our Baptism, have a duty to speak up when not in Church! Sounds to me like this guy just didn't want to answer or just couldn't answer. Finally, you don't have to be a Historical Theologian to look at the Church and see that women have taught men from the beginning. The Catholic Church has 3 Doctors of The Church who just happen to be women! All 3 are canonized saints! Probably the most popular theological or spiritual work during the 20th century was the Diary of Saint Therese. Mary appeared at Fatima, Guadalupe, and other places, and instructed us all (men and women). RCIA and Catechism classes are filled with women teachers!

Men, check your egos at the door. If you get schooled by a woman, t's no different than being schooled by a man. If it stings more, God's probably scraping away that chauvinistic inner-idiot.


Post a Comment

<< Home