Dr. Scott Hahn: "The Evangelical Catholic Moment?"
In Germany, evangelizing, mission work, making disciples or whatever you might call it, is a touchy subject. At best, smaller evangelical churches might practice it - the way it should be done. The two big ones - Lutheran and Catholic - have (if at all) a totally different concept. For most of the Christians here, this is at best something fundamentalists do. Ar members of religious orders when they go to Africa. We donate a little money. This is what we contribute to mission work.
Dear Pope Francis,
I read these days that you that you spoke against “religious proselytism” which in your view means talking with someone to persuade him. Instead we should respect other’s beliefs and inspire them through witness so we can grow together in communicating.
As a fellow Catholic who loves you like a father I want to respond you publicly.
You might mean well when you are saying this, but this goes so much against everything Christianity stands for I need to reply in love.
I am a cradle Catholic, but I have taken a long way till I came back to the Catholic Church. Among others I spend years with Israelis and in evangelical churches, so I am somewhat familiar with non-Catholic belief systems.
Wikipedia says “proselytism […] is the act of attempting to convert people to another religion or opinion”. How can this be wrong for a Christian?
Matthew 28:16-20New International Version (NIV)
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
You seem to have a great love for Evangelicals. So do I. I would even call myself an Evangelical Catholic. Evangelicals, however, pay great importance to evangelizing (or what you might call “proselytizing”). That’s something different, you might object. No, it’s not – not with regard to the Great Commission. We could discuss about the means (and here our personal witness through our words and deeds is very important), but not about the need thereof.
Sadly though most Catholics seem to have given up on the Great Commission or do not even know what that is. The common view is “live and let live” or “it does not matter what somebody believes in, they will all go to heaven”.
No, they won’t. I am not saying that all of those who have never heard of Jesus will go to hell, but from that speaking against attempts to convert people is a whole lot different.
Look to Jesus and His apostles: They gave their lives to convert other people who previously adhered to pagan beliefs – or to Judaism. That is exactly what “proselytizing” is all about. Saint Paul was even chosen for this reason – the disciple of the most important Jewish rabbi in history that became a follower of Jesus to reach out especially to the non-Jews.
I am afraid that what you said will confirm people in the erroneous belief that it does not matter what people believe in and that evangelizing (or however we might call it) is something we don’t do anymore.
Jesus did not talk about the small and the wide gate for no reason. Neither was his warning that nobody will come to the Father unless through Him just something one needs to see in a different light today.
It is not up to us to decide who will go to the Father and who not. However, it IS up to us to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
Dear Pope Francis, I respect you and I love you – but there is someone I respect and love even more: Jesus. Therefore I call you to clarify your position so people will not be lead astray.
Some might laugh and say who is this guy that he dares to tell the Holy Father what to do?
I am nobody – and I am everybody. Jesus died for me as He died for each one of us. In His eyes we are all at one level – God’s children. As a brother in Christ – with the full responsibility and authority thereof – I call you to follow Jesus’s Great Commandment and teach others how to do that.
In brotherly love,
July 30th, 2014
(Sources: http://www.ucatholic.com/blog/10-secrets-for-happiness/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proselytism)
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”