March 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm #21456
This is a question that has been on my mind for a while and haven’t been able to find an answer anywhere. I had done a study in comparing the doctrine of Catholicism to other protestant forms, focusing specifically on those who call themselves, or have been labeled Evangelical. I have taken particular note of their tactics in teaching what they believe to others, or their method of “preaching the Gospel.” More often than not they are talk about the people they are teaching are doing wrong, focusing on pointing out their sinful behavior, the likeliness of them going to hell, or that their current conception of Christianity is false and deadly, and what little they have to say in encouragement to them doesn’t go much farther then telling them to except Jesus. Whenever I have seen it brought to their attention that these tactics, or lack thereof seems mean spirited, I most often here the justification along the lines of not sugarcoating the truth or quotes like these as examples of why they focus on such forms of Evangelizing:
“The Bible may hurt you with the truth but will never comfort you with a lie.”
“A best friend won’t agree with you to make you happy. If anything, They’ll say what needs to be said, no matter if you want to hear it or not.”
Granted everyone uses this tactic at times, but it seems like some Christians use this as their main tool, and then use honesty and straightforwardness as their defense for doing so. I have heard this sort of thing before. I have often seen these methods and defenses for it as parallel to my experience with people who are verbally abusive. They talk to you in angry, demeaning ways and then say that because they are just being honest about their opinions and feelings, that automatically makes it not abusive.
I was just wondering if their was anyone else talking about, because I couldn’t find anything when I looked it up. I guess my main question is; can’t overuse of this preaching tactic be equated to verbal and spiritual abuse?March 15, 2017 at 4:43 pm #21457
Larry D. MihmParticipant@Lastdazeman
I am taking a series of classes at the end of which I will receive a certification for the New Evangelization from the Benedict XVI Institute. The current book I have been assigned is **The Joy of the Gospel – Evangelii Gaudium** by Pope Francis. I could go into deep detail since I need to write two reflections per week for five weeks. For now I’ll just say the Pope addresses these concerns and explains, especially in chapter 4, there are many dimensions to the Gospel.March 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm #21458
I have thought about this quite a bit as well – how to address Protestant friends/family. I have known some zealous Christians that were a bit condescending – it might work for a few people here and there, but usually not.
The difference with the Protestant perspective of that approach however, is the lack of a provable foundation to back up the message (i.e. a 10 year old church of 500 people has nothing on the 2000 year old Church Christ founded). While many of these people are energetic and determined, it is partly based in self-justification (as is all Protestant Christianity). But what strikes me as convicting as a Catholic, is that we know the truth, and have a responsibility to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone” who asks for the reason for our hope (paraphrase – 1 Peter 3:15-16). I think that it is then that we must be clear about the truth, abiding by the rest of 1 Peter 3 in doing so with gentleness and reverence.
I like the last part as a description of evangelizing – with “reverence”. To me that connotes respect for the other person, but even more, respect for our Lord as it is He who we are representing! A deeper sense of reverence for Christ is missing from a lot of Protestant evangelism (that I knew of at least). Part of the reason is that most Protestant denominations have removed reverence from worship (the Eucharist) out of rebellion against the Church; and as a general concept, thinking it an “old tradition” that isn’t relevant. But that is exactly how we approach the mass (or should) every week – with deep reverence. If we talk about our faith with non-believers and non-Catholics with the same reverence for Christ, letting Him speak through us, I believe we will speak gently with the fullness of truth. We may never convince anyone through a conversation, but the Holy Spirit will inspire people to seek the truth. No matter when the conversation happens, we should always have a clear answer for our hope.March 16, 2017 at 12:50 am #21459
lindseymay, as a Protestant, I always hated Protestant evangelization techniques, and so of course I was no good at it at all. I could always have a conversation if someone was interested in faith, or if somehow we got around to the topic naturally, but I would only speak until they lost interest or it became argumentative and then I would stop. There isn’t any point in beating a brick wall with the truth. He who has ears to hear let him listen. And if he doesn’t, it’s probably better to just wipe the dust off and resolve to be there for the person if and when they have serious questions.
When it comes to social/moral issues, perhaps I would speak up even if they didn’t want to hear the truth. I would speak so that the truth was there hanging in the air even if they wanted to shoot it down with an artillery barrage. I learned a long time ago that I cannot change anyone except myself, so I don’t waste a lot of effort trying to change someone’s mind if they obviously have a vested interest in what they believe, even if it is all a lie. Again, always be ready with that answer when they finally have some serious questions about what you believe.
As a Catholic, I find far more emphasis on living the word than preaching it to those who will not hear it. Actions do speak louder than words in any case, and when love is what is driving us they will start to wonder why. THAT gives us a great opportunity to speak. But we must not use actions as an excuse to never speak either. There are times we must stand for truth or point it out even when nobody around us appreciates it. Opportunities arise in a conversation that must be used to point out the way of the Gospel, absolutely, but hammering people over the head with information they despise or are just not willing to hear proves useless almost every time. There are some good resources on Catholic evangelism here.March 16, 2017 at 3:52 am #21461
Howard HampsonKeymaster@Howard the Pilgrim
dedrict mentioned 1 Peter 3:15-16. The latter part of verse 15 says “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope”. The verse suggests when people observe our hope in the Gospel of our Lord some of them will be prompted to ask us to explain why we are so hopeful. When people ask questions, that indicates an openness to at least listen. They are curious about what makes us tick. That is the time to evangelize, only answering what they ask unless they ask for more.
But our lives usually have to speak first before the questions will come.March 16, 2017 at 4:06 pm #21462
I came across something interesting in a collection of writings by Thomas Aquinas that could be looked at in this context. The collection said it came from his “On Boethius On The Trinity (that’s how it printed it) where he posts the question “Should divine things be veiled and hidden with obscure language” Overall I think the point he makes here is not to needlessly expose the Bible to ridicule. He says:
“The words of a teacher ought to be so fashioned that they help not harm the hearer. There are some things which when heard harm nobody, such as all those things everyone is held to know; and these are not to be hidden but manifestly set forth to all. There are other things, however, which when set forth openly harm hearers; this happens in two ways. In one way, if the secrets of the faith are disclosed to infidels who abhor the faith. For with them they come into derision and for this reason the Lord says in Matthew 7:6, ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs’, etc., and Denis in Celestial Hierarchy 2, Concealing what is holy from unclean multitude I have kept it intact.’ Second, when subtle matters are proposed to the unlearned, who cannot perfectly comprehend the matter they are led into error……the gloss of Gregory says: ‘He who understands in sacred writ things so high, protects with silence the sublime meaning from those incapable of grasping it, lest by scandal he should harm the simple believer or impede the non-believer who would believe.’
Sorry that was long. This particular collection is easy to find. It’s the first one that comes up on Amazon under books when you type in Thomas Aquinas. This section is on page 138.
I don’t mean to pick on Evangelicals in particular but they are the example I have that I have most noticed not taking these things into consideration.
Do they take into consideration protecting the words of scripture from those who are only going to ridicule it or use it to there own advantage in furthering their disdain for Christianity?
Does the individual know when to leave off preaching and allow the person opportunity to teach themselves or seek out their own chosen resources, like a local parishioner or other writers who talk about it?
One needs to take into consideration whether their innocent desire to lead people to Christ weighs more or less then their desired gratification in being the ones who led them there.March 16, 2017 at 11:39 pm #21473
I agree with you and St. Thomas very much so, lindseymay. When I was converting, I was a moderator on an evangelical Protestant page. We had known one another for probably 12 years, so when I told them that I was going to convert to the Catholic faith, many of them went ballistic. I answered their objections, but I refused to argue with them. They immediately made me step down as moderator which I fully expected and understood. Then the anti-Catholic posts and rhetoric started to increase in general, and I knew it was in response to my conversion. I refused to call them out, or take the bait and argue. What was the point? They did not want to learn, and so me putting all my newfound information in front of them was only going to invite derision. I could not bare to see the Church and its theology trampled under foot. Eventually, I left the group very quietly, without really making a fuss. When we argue, at least when I argue, I have a tendency to become prideful, and God knows that I am prideful enough without adding arguing to the mix.March 28, 2017 at 12:43 pm #21616
Larry D. MihmParticipant@Lastdazeman
Really, I have never professed to be a spirit-filled evangelizer. I believe I’ve probably more than occasionally professed to be an evangelizer but I don’t think I’ve claimed to be particularly spirit-filled. I’m working on it (not as hard as I should).
As of Tuesday of last week I became aware of some very encouraging developments in our diocese. St. Paul Street Evangelization is starting to expand their activities into the upper midwest of the United States and our diocese has invited St. Paul Street Evangelization to hold training in our city in June. In addition the theme for this year’s ministry days in our diocese is Go, and Make Disciples: Forming Missionary Disciples for Gospel Witness. One more initiative is the third year of our Institute in Lay Formation will also have the theme Forming Missionary Disciples for Gospel Witness.
On Monday night last week I had presented and facilitated discussion at our weekly RCIA meeting about the new evangelization. I had not read the email I received late Monday afternoon or I would have been able to tell our group about these initiatives. You can bet as soon as I read about them on Tuesday morning I forwarded the email to the RCIA group. I also contacted the contact at the diocese who sent the email and told him how encouraged and excited I was to see these developments. I wrote he should let me know how I can help. His response was to get me in contact with a representative of St. Paul Street Evangelization. We will be meeting sometime after Easter which really is our first opportunity due to conflicting established travel plans.
My history up to this momentous turn of events has been much prep to proclaim the Gospel but not as much actual evangelizing.
I’ve made series of unsuccessful attempts on-line, etc. to get myself onto the front lines of the new evangelization. One of my the posts in my blog lists links to many evangelization related sites, etc.
I think the major reason I’m so passionate and zealous about the new evangelization is I called myself an evangelical (non-Catholic) Christian for about 20 years before my wife and I got interested in the Catholic Church. I was delighted to read in documents from Vatican II, these few encyclicals I’ve read, and documents from the US Council of Catholic Bishops where all Catholics are encouraged to share the love of Jesus by proclaiming the Gospel. The frustration came when I discovered some priests and most of the laity either didn’t want to hear it, don’t care, or fear the word evangelization and these attitudes are keeping them from taking evangelization seriously.
So I did not grow up in the Catholic culture we are working to change. I grew up learning to share my faith. When I got to college I was fairly heavily involved with what is now CRU and then was Campus Crusade for Christ. I’ve received a goodly amount of training in evangelizing and I have to some extent been out in the streets, on the front lines, but not as much since becoming Catholic. I really think Jesus set up a good system when he sent the disciples out by twos, but I’ve had a heck of a time finding anyone willing to hit the streets, so to speak, with me.
Some of the training, practice, and the little actual evangelizing I’ve actually done have been through programs and organizations such as Evangelism Explosion, Share Your Faith Seminars. I’m a certified trainer in the Evangelism Explosion program.
I don’t know if anyone here knows anything about Lighthouse Catholic Publishing (related to Lighthouse Catholic Media). I am involved with Lighthouse’s initiative to produce parish magazines to be mailed to all registered parish families. The goal is to reach those parishioners who don’t come to Mass at all or only come at Easter and Christmas. I’ve also suggested with no real success we should form teams to go visit those families and invite them return and be a part of all the parishes’ front-line work to advancing the Kingdom of God.
Last year I finally joined the Knights of Columbus and I’ve made some unsuccessful attempts to get our council fired-up about evangelization.
Today, while thinking about all this, I thought of a not-so-concise way to articulate a conviction I hold about evangelization. “Getting people into the Catholic Church should be a by-product of proclaiming the kerygma, not a primary goal. Our primary goal should be to lead people into deep, joyful relationships with Jesus Christ.
We are responsible to share it is our conviction that the Catholic Church is the single, greatest resource to facilitate and sustain a deep, joyful relationship with Jesus but getting people into the Church is not the primary goal. People can be initially introduced to Jesus before they are introduced to his Church. Putting too much emphasis on the church when introducing people to Jesus may give the impression our faith is more in the Church than our faith is in Jesus. Our faith may be rooted in the Church but it is faith in Jesus. We have faith the Church can help us grow in Jesus but growing in Jesus is the goal. Growing in the church is the vehicle to the goal of growing in our relationship with Jesus.”
Does this make sense?
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