Expert Answer Forum
Pagans QUESTION from Douglas December 29, 1999 Hello this is my first time writing into this site but i have been following its progress for sometime now. I myself believe that I am a soldier of Christ. I have seen the growing numbers of pagans in my community as well as on the net and i am concerned. What can be done about them? They do not listen to advise on the path that they are on leads to the devil. They mock and curse at me when i try to bring Gods word to them and they have even threatened violence to me. They are everywhere and there is no talking to them all they seem to do is to fight. As one who beleives in Gods word and his wisdom i want to know if you can give me any ideas as to how to try and spread the word to these lost souls and save them as well as bring them back to the light of heaven.
Thank you sincerely Mr. Douglas
NOTE: this is a long answer. Please wait while it loads.... ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on December 30, 1999 Dear Mr. Douglas:
Thank for your question and welcome to the Forum. Your question is an extremely important question that every person called to a ministry of evangelism and apologetics MUST contemplate. It is also a question that all people must consider as they relate with people in the world among their various circumstances.
The Answer to this question is found squarely in Scripture. Jesus knew his people would be subjected to the kind of treatment you describe when they preach Truth. Thus Jesus Himself gives us advice, as does our first Pope, St. Peter, and also St. Paul.
First we must examine the passage of John 6:44:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. Jesus is telling us here that no one can come to the Father UNLESS the Father draws the person to Himself. What does that mean?
It means that we don’t’ save people. We cannot convince people to convert. We cannot bring people to God. That is not our job.
Our job is to present the Gospel message as clearly, reasonably, and as convincingly as possible, but allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest. We are messengers. The Holy Spirit uses the message to work with a person’s soul to hopefully convince him to convert, repent, or whatever the case may be. God does His part, we do our part by being the mouthpiece for the information.
In other words, it is not up to us to win the argument or debate. It is not up to us to bring the person to a convincing position so that he might convert. Our job is simply to preach the Gospel, not to win debate points.
We need to do our part as messengers of God, and then GET OUT OF THE WAY so the Holy Spirit can do His job.
So often we keep at a person trying to convince them, trying to make them see, and what we are doing is providing noise that distracts the person from hearing the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
We are humble messengers. The Holy Spirit is the convincer.
But what do we do when we meet a person or group of people that refuse to even listen, who are so hardhearted or steeped into their sin that they refuse to listen and in addition may turn and attack?
Again Jesus gives us the answer.
Consider the following passages:
MT 10:14 Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. MK 6:11 Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.
LK 9:5 And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.
LK 10:11 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
Does this sound harsh? Well it is the advice of Jesus Himself.
There are plenty of people ready to hear the Gospel. Are we to neglect them by spending too much time with those who will not listen? While we are wasting our time with these people, others may be dying and going to hell who were ready to listen and to convert. But no one was around to give them the message. Why? Because we were too busy with our ego trying to convince the unconvincable.
I know this is not politically correct. We are NEVER to give up on someone is the politically correct lament. Well Jesus wasn’t politically correct. He is God and He says we are to leave behind those who will not listen.
The politically correct and plausibility philosophies are doctrines of demons. Satan has a vested interest in our wasting time with people who refuse to listen. As mentioned above, each minute we spend with a person who refuses to listen is one less minute spent with a person who is ready to convert. Satan likes that.
But this problem is not just with non-Christians. What about people who claim to be Christian, or who claim to be Catholic but seem to assert their opinions above the Church and/or live lives and promote lives of sin and rebellion. Jesus tells us how to deal with them too.
MT 7:6 Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. Again this is a harsh measure that today’s plausibility cannot tolerate. But it is the advice of God!
If we spend our time giving of ourselves to those who claim to be Christian but do not live that way what happens? Jesus tells us. We will have our pearls trampled on and they will turn to tear us into pieces.
Who are the dogs? The dogs are feral dogs. A feral dog is a dog gone wild, a dog who has gone against his master. Feral dogs are FAR more dangerous than wolves. I would rather deal with a wolf in sheep’s clothing ANY DAY than with a feral dog. The feral dogs would be people like former priests who left the priesthood and perhaps have left the Church and have become anti-catholic overtly or covertly, or former religious who have done the same. Many of these feral dogs remain in the Church usually as hidden heretics causing dissension and ruining people’s faith. It is most evil.
Who are the swine? All those who claim Catholicity, but deny teachings of the Church in some way. These are the religious liberals, the Ulta-traditionalists, and the sedevacantists. These are all the people who think their opinions outrank the Church. The people who re-invent the Church into their own image, who covertly or overtly rebel against the Church’s teachings and discipline, those who stir up factions and dissension and fear and distrust in our Church, in the Vatican, or in the Pope and our pastors. Many of these people may not rise to the level of technical heretics or schismatics, but they sure revel in the spirit of heresy or schism. These are the ones who have nearly destroyed our Church since Vatican II claiming they were just teaching in the spirit of Vatican II. NO THEY WEREN’T. These people were and are spreading their fowl rebellion in the spirit of the devil violating the teachings of Vatican II. Vatican II is NOT the cause of all the problems we see. It is the feral dogs and swine who caused all the problems. The problem is not Vatican II, it is the ABUSE of Vatican II.
Jesus says to not throw our pearls before them and to not give what is holy to them. This is a warning to bishops, I believe, who do not have the courage to be shepherds and excommunicat some of these feral dogs and swine. To give what is holy refers, according to the Narvarre Bible Commentary, to the sacraments.
The liberals and other dissenters who took their opportunity after Vatican II would not have been successful had it not been for the cowardice of many bishops to pull in the reins. The Bible tells us to NOT give the devil an opportunity. Jesus tells is to not give what is holy to dogs or pearls to swine. Many bishops ignored this advice out of plausibility and misplaced sense of pastoral concern.
Jesus shows us true pastoral concern in the verses I have presented here.
But let us go on.
Let us look at St. Paul’s advice to Timothy and to Titus:
1 Timothy 6:20-21 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid profane babbling and the absurdities of so-called knowledge. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith. The feral dogs and swine, those people who are dissenters (regardless of whether they rise to the technical level of heresy or schism), boast of knowledge that shows how things should be the way they describe. Somehow the Church is wrong in its assessment, and these arrogant people know better. But as St. Paul says, by professing it, some people have deviated from the faith.
Titus 3:9-11 Avoid foolish arguments, genealogies, rivalries, and quarrels about the law, for they are useless and futile. After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned. Here we find the central key to answer your question.
When a argument becomes unproductive, back away. Avoid such arguments. They will always bring us down to their level of foolishness.
We are, according to St. Paul (according to the Word of God), warn a divisive person once, twice, and then shun him. That’s right, shun him!
There are plenty of other people out there ready and willing to listen to the Truth. Spend time on them not on those who refuse to listen, or with heretics and schismatics, and other people who have departed from the true Faith.
If we were to continue our Bible study on this, I would present several more verses that go along with what I have already outlined. These are not isolated verses taken out of context, but a certain principle that is being taught by Christ and the Apostles.
The eventual direction these situations, with respect to believers, is to give them up to Satan (excommunication)if they continually refuse to conform to the faith. St. Paul refers to this in 1 Corinthians 5:5: you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
Jesus never taught a flower children kind of love. Love insists upon righteousness and Truth. Love, TRUE love, is a TOUGH love that will bring us to shunning people when necessary.
Please don't misunderstand what St. Paul and Jesus are saying. These actions of shunning or backing away from people are ACTS OF LOVE. We are lovingly saying, I am sorry but your behavior or your beliefs are beyond the pail. I can no longer associate myself with you or I am sorry but you are obviously not open to even listening to the truth, I can no longer spend time debating this with you.
Doing this lets the person know just how serious their actions or erroneous beleifs are that would cause a Christian to back away from them and have no more to do with them. Some will get the message and repent or begin to listen, others will not.
Now of course we don’t shun people at the drop of a hat, but there is a time that we are commanded to shun people. We have a responsibility before God to be stewards of the time He has given us. Wasting time on people who refuse to listen is wasting God’s time.
And, of course, if a person repents or begins to listen, then we should embrace him like the Father did with the prodigal son, like our Father in heaven does with us after we have sinned and repented.
But when this drastic measure has to be done, what do we do?
We continue to pray for them.
This is another aspect that people have trouble with. Prayer is the FIRST method of attacking a problem, not the last resort. All of the above, the shunning and backing away, should be the last resort. Prayer is what we should be doing all along.
But many people have a mistaken notion that action is to follow prayer. Sometimes that is true, sometimes it is not in how people use the word action. Sometimes the best action is prayer alone.
Do we not think that God can handle the situation without our direct physical presence?
The action of our efforts to bring the message of the Gospel may be wasted time with some, but the prayer for those people is never wasted. Sometimes we have to back off from direct personal action and pray for God’s action.
This method of prayer alone doesn’t stroke our egos like getting in there and winning debate points, or the thrill of someone converting as a result of are arguments, but it is the most powerful and the most productive in many situations.
One last thing. It is very easy to be in what appears a productive discussion, argument, or debate. Then, all of a sudden it turns for the worse. You may feel like you’ve just been ambushed. You may say to yourself, How did this turn ugly?
When that happens we MUST discipline ourselves to not give the devil the opportunity. We must find a way to back out of the conversation gracefully if possible.
But sometimes one must be blunt. For example, in a chatroom setting I have said to so-called Catholics who are really heretics or dissenters:
The views you are expressing are not in communion with the Catholic Church & you appear to not wish to conform to Church teaching, thus the advice of St. Paul & other saints, says that such a person should be ignored. You are now given to St. Ignora. We pray the your will someday return to the Church. St. Ignora refers to the ignore function in chatrooms. This ignores the offending person so one cannot see their postings in the chatroom.
I have said similar things to non-Catholics who just want to fight. In their case I say that they appear to not be willing to listen to what the Catholic Church teaches and instead want to assert lies about the Church, thus upon the advice ……
If we don’t follow the advice of Jesus, Paul, and others we will find our own peace with Christ disturbed and our own spirituality damaged.
Bottom line: when there is no talking to them and all they want to do is fight…..leave them alone. Don’t allow Satan to suck you into the fruitless battle. I speak as one who has been sucked into 100’s of fruitless battles. It is not worth it. Jesus and the Apostles knew what they were talking about when they gave the advice to walk away from some people.
Walk away from them, but pray for them.
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