defending the faith – should we?

image via microsoft

Marceta wrote the following comment on yesterday`s post,

But it seems to me that “defending the faith” is about debating and positioning. The focus is on rules and regulations. I would rather families send their kids to learn more ways to ‘live’ their faith.

She is right. The term, “defending the faith” is loaded with ideological tones. The way we interpret the term affects the way we live out our religious identity. In our Catholic tradition, it brings to mind images of Crusaders in fighting mode – off to not only defend the faith, but to forcibly convert the heathen masses. Zealous apologists are our own modern day Crusaders. Often blessed with an amazing mental capacity to remember and recall details of ecumenical councils, papal pronouncements and scripture references, they are ever-ready to give theological backing to all doctrines and beliefs of the Church. And, as Marceta wrote, apologetics is often more about debating and positioning.

And yet, if we truly believe then we must be ready to give the reasons for our belief. We must be ready to share that which gives us joy and hope. 1 Peter 3:15 provides the well-known exhortation, “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”

So, here’s a question….

In the past, we were taught that we are all part of the “Church militant” – the communion of saints here on earth whose role is to defend the faith.  What image can we use that still affirms the need to speak intelligibly of the “hope that is in you”, but with a good dose of gentleness and reverence?