Monday, June 28, 2010

What Evangelicals Teach Us: Evangelism

I once heard the topic of evangelism mentioned to a room full of Catholics. It was met with laugther. They weren't laughing at the idea of evangelism, but laughing at the fact that it's something they don't do.

There seems to be a culture among American Catholics that not only doesn't encourage but seems to even, at times, discourage evangelism. We're scared of offending people or turning them off. We don't want people to think we're...those evangelical protestants.

Yes, evangelicals can have a bad reputation for how they share their faith. 
But that's (at least partially) because they are out there doing it. The gospel is offensive. The life of Jesus is enough proof of this. And so, knowing this, he gives us encouragement: ""Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Mt 5.11-12)

Let us be reminded that, as was the case with the Bible, it is 
to the Catholic Church that God has entrusted the Gospel. It is our job, by God's grace, to bring it to the world as effectively and accurately as possible. The Church reaffirmed this duty of all the faithful in her Vatican II council when she  wrote: "every disciple, as far in him lies, has the duty of spreading the faith" (Ad Gentes, 23)

And so I ask: Are we sharing our faith? Do we really believe that every single person on the planet desparately needs the Gospel? Do we believe the Holy Scriptures when they say: "Salvation is found in no one else [but Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4.12, my emphasis)? Do we believe Jesus when he said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Jn 14.6, my emphasis)?

Another group has claimed the title 'evangelical'. Let us reclaim it. Let us be inspired by our evangelical brothers and sisters and take seriously the duty of sharing with the world the good news of Christ.

Note: Whenever a person criticizes the Church, he should be careful. It's Christ's Church afterall! I do not intend these criticisms to apply to everyone or even necessarily the Church worldwide, but primarily to my experience of the Church in the US.

2 comments:

  1. as a recent convert also, I had to get used to this, but it's actually "Evangelization" in Catholic-speak. not sure the implied difference in etymology ("Evangelization" implies action maybe, while "Evangelism" implies ideology?), but there you go.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Brantly,

    I stumbled upon your blog. I think your criticism of the parts of the Body in the US is just. I think this stems in part because of the Catholic ghetto. The parish was for numerous Catholics the source of cultural life. Vatican II challenges us to preach in our everyday settings. I think we are to ask why we do what we do. Do I work at X place to build the Kingdom or for some other reason?

    I do have one question: how do you distinguish proselytizing and evangelizing?

    ReplyDelete