Where Should Ecumenical Dialogue Begin?

I have a been a Catholic-Christian since April 11, 2009. That was 1,015 days ago. In all that time, many things about me have developed and changed. A thousand days ago I was ready to pick a fight with any post-Reformation heretic of my choosing and I was ready to win that fight. Each fight only ended in frustration because despite the reason behind my arguments, I won a total of zero of those fights.

My views have changed a lot in the last thousand days. Now I realize that just picking a fight is not enough. People won’t convert just like that with a well thought out, completely reasonable idea. I have discovered that the only place that true dialogue can begin is when certain basic truths are accepted and acknowledged.

1. That there is absolute truth
Unless one acknowledges the reality that there is an absolute truth, true dialogue cannot begin. The reason is that they are not interested in what is true, they are not interested in right or wrong, facts or fiction, because in their eyes, the facts are only opinions. Essentially they will argue all day that a fact is “just your own personal opinion.” These types of people are not seekers of truth or knowledge, but seekers of self and pleasure.

We can be confident, though, that there is absolute truth in this universe. For instance, either Paris, France exists or it doesn’t. It doesn’t exist for some people and not for others. Just by saying “Paris isn’t real” doesn’t make it so. Or what about something like 2+2 which equals 4. It isn’t 5. It isn’t 3. It isn’t 6.5. It is 4, and nobody who tries to say it is otherwise is not going to change it. It is always and forever absolutely 4.

This may seem like a “duh” moment, but you’d be surprised at how many people deny absolute truth, especially when it comes to God, who is, the only standard, undeviating being in existence.

2. That God is Knowable
One must be to the point where they acknowledge that God is knowable. It is not enough to acknowledge that there are absolute truths about God. We must also admit that these absolute truth are knowable. If they aren’t knowable, then we still must subject ourselves to a guessing game about what is true of God and his Will. That puts us in a place that is little better than relativism.

Non-Christian religions excluded, it is pretty easy to show, through Scripture that God has made himself knowable and that it is a gift he has given to mankind.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

John 3:16

Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you have sent, Jesus Christ.

John 17:3

This serves to show the purpose of God’s mission earth. In his love he has sent his Son to give us eternal life and that eternal life is knowing God, the only true God. Substitute the second half of John 17:3 in for eternal life (since John 17:3 is the definition of eternal life):

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might know you, the only true God, and the one whom you have sent, Jesus Christ.

It is only when a heart admits that there is absolute truth, that morality and God’s character are not up for personal definitions, and that God, in his love has made it possible to know what is truth, that a heart can truly be open to true dialogue and begin seeking the truth. It is at this junction that God’s grace empowers us and enables us to converse and lead people to communion with reality, with the Bible, with the Church, and with God.

For those hearts that are not to the point of accepting these simple truths, we pray that God would grant them the grace to understand, and accept these truths and to act in the light of that revelation.

For those hearts that have reached this critical junction, we pray that they would receive the graces to discover who God is and what God’s will is and to move forward without any fear.

And for us, who have come to the full light of truth, we pray that we would be patient, encouraging, and wise when entering into dialogue with the souls that God is drawing to him, and has longed for since the pre-dawn of Creation.