Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Difference Between Proselytizing and Witnessing

Recently, I was listening to a relatively new-to-me, but favorite podcast, This Inspired Life with Kristin Sanders.  She read a list of 10 tips for a Happy Life, from Pope Francis. One of the things he said was: Stop proselytizing.  Respect others, do not try aggressive tactics; in other words, according to the Italian saying, "live and let live." Catholicism should grow by attraction, not by proselytizing.

I agree. Let’s look a little closer at this framework, and let me make one clarification.

I believe that Catholics should keep three things in mind.  First, what is the difference between proselytizing and witnessing? Second, I DO believe it is okay to witness about your faith, if it is done in a peaceful way.  And third, what does attraction mean?

According to Webster’s Dictionary:
Proselytize means,  “to try to persuade people to join a religion, cause or group.”
(recruit, induce)

Meanwhile, Witness means, “Public affirmation by word or example of usually religious faith or conviction.”
(testament, substantiate)

Finally, attraction means: “something interesting or enjoyable that people want to visit, see, or do.”

I get the idea that proselytizing is more about someone who is needy, needs attention, or is harshly demanding that someone believe something or think a certain way.  If someone is proselytizing, they probably are not doing so in a peaceful way. They are trying to "talk someone into something," rather than asking questions, setting a good example, or living it out simply and talking about one's life without fear.

Meanwhile, someone who witnesses believes you should “live and let live,” but if that faith is a natural outflow of your life, it will bleed into all areas of your life. If an example is set, it is done naturally.

Attraction takes it a step further. It means we give witness to our life, in a loving way. Or in a loving manner.

Think of the blogs and books you love to read.  There's a pretty good chance you are attracted by it- the beauty, and the truth- rather than convinced by a reasonable argument that that person is making.

Something to keep in mind, I think. ;)
Adding my link to Tuesday Talk


Annie said...

I really love the distinctions here between the three! I've been doing some reading on why it is that many young Catholics decide to leave the Church. A recent study suggests it's because they never had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ... and that totally makes sense! If you think about the sort of education kids in Sunday School might receive... a lot of times, it's semantics and dogmas, and not sharing a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. If we were to share that -- the personal encounter we have with Him -- then I think the faith would be all the more appealing :) It is what we all desire deep down, anyhow, and it is the only thing that will satiate that hunger of loneliness.

Christie said...

Good food for thought (to use a trite expression, but it's true!). I wonder where does "evangelization" fit in there, cause we're definitely called to "go and make disciples of all nations." Also, I think making a reasoned argument IS an attraction for some people. It definitely was for Jennifer Fulwiler, and it is for me!

Tacy said...

@ Annie. Thanks for the comment. Wow, what you said is interesting. Sounds very sad. I think children today need better catechizing, for sure.

@Christie I agree. I thought the words of Pope Francis were so very insightful, but also extremely thought-provoking. I had a very good, long conversation with my husband about this as well. So much to think about!

Christie said...

Indeed--now if only I could get a moment alone with my hubby, LOL!