In time this approach brought me into the Catholic Church. I had moved from American Evangelical fundamentalism to English Evangelical Anglicanism, and the step from there to Catholicism was the result of my attempt to be open minded and accepting of ideas and customs that were new and strange to me. So, for example, when I was invited from the staid and stark worship of Anglican Evangelicalism to experience the Anglo-Catholic worship of Pusey House in Oxford, I went with an open mind. I soon came to understand the statues and candles and incense and vestments and discovered that I not only understood, but appreciated that form of worship. When I encountered a Catholic understanding of the sacraments and the priesthood, I tried to understand and accept rather than respond with my instinctive Protestant criticism and rejection. Some years later a friend came back from a pilgrimage to the great English Marian shrine of Walsingham and brought me a rosary. I can remember holding the beads and feeling repulsed, but then Maurice’s quip popped into my mind and I asked myself why a billion Catholics should be wrong and I should be right. I got a book instructing me how to pray the rosary and got started.
The typical Protestant is instinctively opposed to Catholicism. It is in his bloodstream. He may not know his own faith very well, but he knows what he’s not: a Catholic. The typical well read, Bible based Evangelical thinks he knows more than that. He knows specifically where Catholicism is wrong. As far as he is concerned, Catholics are just plain wrong through and through and he expects that he will disagree with a Catholic on just about everything. His Achilles heel is that he expects every Catholic to be as anti-Protestant as he is instinctively anti-Catholic.
The ‘More Christianity’ approach to apologetics is positive because it genuinely affirms what is good and positive about the faith of non-Catholic Christians. It is possible to do this without being either condescending or false. It may be true that their denial of Catholicism hinders their appreciation of the fullness of the faith. It may be true that vehement denial and rejection of the Catholic faith (when they know better) may imperil their souls. Being aggressive towards them, however, doesn’t accomplish much, and being positive towards our separated brethren doesn’t mean that we endorse or turn a blind eye to their rejection of the faith.
More Christianity gives a firm foundation for apologetics that is not only positive, but expansive in its scope. It keeps the big picture in front of us rather than allowing us to get caught up in the minutiae of argument. Some apologists enjoy the cut and thrust of swapping Biblical texts, quotes from the Fathers of the Church and authoritative statements from theologians and scholars. I prefer to keep to the big picture of affirmation or denial.