Living by Faith

Imagine this: a poor peasant in El Salvador is born in the 1960s. Let’s call her Anita. She was baptized. She was lucky. She went to school until third grade, and then was pulled out to work in the fields to help support her family. She lived in the same village her whole life. Her family were simple,hard working and poor. They prayed the rosary together most nights and went to Mass every Sunday. The priest prepared her for first Holy Communion with the other girls. She accepted what he said and went forward to make her first confession and receive Christ. A few years later she went into a class with the other boys and girls that met on a Sunday afternoon and they prepared for confirmation. She accepted what the priest said, and accepted confirmation at the hands of the bishop. She got married in the church to a local boy who worked on the same plantation. They had children and they too took them to church to be baptized. They prayed the rosary with them. They went to Mass every week.

At no time did Anita reject her Christian faith. Indeed, as far as she was able she was instructed and lived that faith. When she sinned she went to confession. She tried to bring up her children in the faith, and she always accepted Jesus Christ and his blessings in her life.

Here’s the question: is Anita a Christian or does she need to be converted to Christ?

The Catholic says, “No brainer. Anita is a wonderful Christian who lives by faith. She has accepted Christ. She is a good member of the Church. She is a sister in the Lord.”

The big problem I have with Baptist missionary teams going to Latin America is that, by default, they consider Anita to be ‘unchurched’. Because Anita has not ‘been saved’ they regard her as a target for their evangelism efforts. The first problem is their arrogant assumption that Anita does not ‘have a personal relationship with Christ.’ Yet every objective sign is that she does indeed have a very simple, very profound and very serious committment to Christ. It may not use the same language as a Southern Baptist, but it is a personal relationship nonetheless.

So Bobby and Betty Sue came marching in with their loud American voices, their rich clothes and their flashy style and tell poor Anita that she’s not really a Christian. She hasn’t really ‘been saved.’ Without troubling themselves to really understand Catholicism at all, they assume that Anita is locked into superstition, salvation by works and ‘empty rituals to please a demanding God.’ Anita needs not only to have a more personal understanding of what Christ has done for her and what her baptism and membership in the church means.

She also needs to be delivered from the bondage of the darkness of Roman Catholicism.

It’s pretty hard not to believe these bright, enthusiastic American young people. They seem so convinced, so happy and so ready to help Anita with all her needs. Maybe if she joins their church she will be able to be rich like they are. So Anita goes to church and ‘accepts Jesus into her heart.’ Next she learns that the Catholic Church was wrong about everything and she needs to be re-baptized. She needs to reject that old Catholic faith, and she soon learns all sorts of terrible things about the Catholic faith that her priest never told her…

Catholics are properly annoyed at this evangelistic enterprise. We’re annoyed not just because many of these simple Catholic folks are lured away from the fullness of their faith, but also because their dignity is trampled on by the crass assumptions of the sincere missionaries. Protestants doing sterling work among the genuinely unconverted and winning those who are genuinely unchurched is one thing. More power to them. What we object to is that for most of them every Catholic (just because they’re Catholic) is considered to be unconverted and in need of salvation.

I’d ask any Evangelical who engages on this kind of missionary effort: how would you feel if a Jehovah’s Witness visited your godly, but simple Baptist grandma, and with leading questions, psychological pressure and constant badgering eventually got her to join the Jehovah’s Witness and so separated her from her faith, her family and maybe even her salvation?

You’d be dismayed and a not a little put out.

That’s how I feel when you ‘evangelize’ my sister Anita.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15185875893212146794 Ttony

    This is a good fight you are fighting, Father. Please keep on fighting it. Our prayers are with you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05998290681038658399 truevyne

    The same story could be written about a Protestant evangelical in Nicaragua with our own check list: Baptized Marries another protestant evangelicalattends churchraising our children in the church The thing is that the check list doesn’t make one a Christian. It is the person of Christ who transforms, renews, heals, deeply loves who draws us to relationship with Himself. Please, DO go proselitize my little old grandma. Show her the ancient paths to the heart of Jesus. On another note, isn’t there some patronization in the assumption that Anita could be duped away from the Catholic Church?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    Fr. Dwight:I’ll try later to compose a response to your real substance, but let me first respond to three of your distractions, to get them out of the way.1. Is it possible you have too much negative energy about “loud American voices”? Being American–really American, with all its loudness and brashness and obesity and cowboy gunslingerhood–is just fine. It’s OK. You can relax. You’ve escaped from Europe, and from England the Land of Understatement. You can stop being embarrased about George Bush or fat men wearing shorts or rejection of Kyoto or whatever it is that’s embarrassing you. You can stop assuming that your audience will intuit the unworthiness of things distinctively American. America hasn’t done so bad in the world. In my later response, I won’t address American-ness.2. And is it possible you have too much negative energy about Ev Prot missionaries? There must indeed be some, somewhere, who are arrogant and self-assured, who “march” instead of walking, and are oblivious to their own rich flashiness. But I’ve not seen them. I can assure you that the ones I have met do not act that way. Certainly not the career missionaries I have known. (Have you really met some who meet your description?) They tend, instead, to be sweet, humble people, who are broken-hearted about the lostness of the people to whom they minister. So either my own experience has been selective, which is possible, or else your descriptions are bigoted caricatures. In my later response, I won’t assume that the Ev Prot missionaries are arrogant.3. To regard someone as an appropriate target of evangelism is NOT to conclude that that person is hell-bound. I just taught a confirmation class of 40 baptized Anglican teenagers who are pretty faithful in church attendance. I evangelized them–not because I was sure that they were lost (not at all) but because I wanted to make sure that they will NOT be lost. In my later response, I won’t accept that to evangelize is to anathematize.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06124533937104720078 CL

    Fr Dwight said: “By all means let Protestant missionaries win souls for Christ, but then encourage such souls to be better Catholics.” Comparing the comments of DGus to Fr Dwight in recent posts, I notice a significant difference in their respective positions. DGus is happy to see nominal Protestants convert to Catholicism if RC missionaries draw them into closer relationship to Christ and a clear faith in the Gospel. Christ and the Gospel are more important than Protestant vs. Catholic. However, Fr Dwight is unwilling to see nominal Catholics convert to Protestantism in the opposite scenario. Would Fr Dwight be content to evangelize a nominal Baptist, encouraging him to be a better Baptist, without any attempt at drawing him into the RCC? Is it fair for Fr Dwight to expect different from a Protestant missionary?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    CL’s obvious assumption is that Catholicism and Protestantism are equal and the same. They are not. Protestantism is derived from the fullness of the faith in the Catholic Church. A convert to Catholicism from Protestantism enters into a fuller expression of the faith. A Catholic becoming a Protestant, must, by definition, deny that fuller expression of the faith.What I am most annoyed about is not that Protestants may convert some nominal Catholics. I would rather that person be a good Protestant believer than a non believer. What I am annoyed by, and what I keep repeating, is the assumption among most Protestant missionaries that all Catholics (by definition) must be unsaved, and therefore are targets for conversion to Protestantism. I am against the position which every conservative Evangelical must admit is true, that the majority of conservative Evangelicals still consider Catholics not to be Christians at all.On meeting a nominal Baptist I would indeed encourage him first to find the Lord within his own tradition more fully. That is the natural and best place to start with evangelism because that is most likely where he will find an idiom most suitable.However, if that person expresses no desire to know more about the Baptist religion, and enquires about the Catholic faith, I would, of course, encourage him to explore the fullness of the faith that can only be found in Catholicism.

  • Anonymous

    Fr.A question for you. Say hypothetically there is a situation where a priest who has a blog talks about a person and while does not put specific topics up about the confession talks about the confession inculding that an item of ‘challenging the person who came to confession on an item’ And gave enough identifying information that a 3rd party knew who the penitent was because the 3rd party knew the person’s history with this priest.The blog post also included a portion of an e-mail from the penitent (who also went to the priest for spiritual direction).What should the person do? There are a lot of hurt feelings flying right now in a parish in Maryland…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05227411938775535934 Jeffrey Smith

    Keep up the good work. I’ve been seeing the damage caused by the predatory practices of Evangelicals who limit the word “Christian” to themselves, for thirty years.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16113255393803157563 Peter

    I wonder if the Anglicans (and the evangelicals before them) feel the same way when one of theirs runs off and becomes a Catholic?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01718162592660319087 Radical Catholic Mom

    Father you are not joking.True story: When I was serving in a Catholic mission in a Catholic Latin American county, my die hard Protestant Grandma asked me with full sincerity if they celebrated Christmas where I was located. A friend of mine served a Protestant mission in Russia soon after the fall of Communism. I asked her if she had had the opportunity to attend Divine Liturgy at an Orthodox Church. She said,”I did and I did not like it because it was so dour. There was no joy.” All I could think of was, after all those years of atheism and people are STILL attending services and they are being judged because they are not happy enough? Dear Jesus!From what I see of American evangelical Christian efforts is they think it is not “real” Christianity if you do not have the happy clappy music type of faith. It is almost superficial. It is like they have completely missed the concept of, you know, suffering, the cross, etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03120073132125924274 Toby

    Hello, Father Dwight.Yes, you have repeatedly said that what annoys you is “the assumption among most Protestant missionaries that all Catholics (by definition) must be unsaved, and therefore are targets for conversion to Protestantism.” In order to make your point, you then proceeded to give a purposely obvious example of a Catholic with a “personal relationship with Jesus”. We have all seen the responses that followed.What you have not heard from your Protestant commenters are:1. “Yes, Anita has a close relationship with Jesus and people like her should not be targets for evangelization.”, or2. “Catholics (by definition) should not be considered unsaved. We should, however, focus on evangelizing the ignorant Catholics.”, or3. “Catholics with a personal relationship with Christ should not be targets of evangelization.”It is quite striking that none of the Protestants who have commented after reading your obviously leading example simply say, “Of course this example is obvious. I see your point and agree, Fr. Dwight that people like Anita are definitely not targets of evangelization”. They just can’t say it. Just can’t. And you probably won’t hear any of them say that. Because as you said, Father, *all* Catholics are targets. Never mind if different evangelical/protestant denominations teach contrary things “based on the bible”. They’re not the concern. Let’s not focus on evangelizing “Christians” who promote the Prosperity Gospel, those that demand as a requirement that you must speak in tongues to be saved etc. It’s okay, they’re fellow evangelicals. It’s them Catholics we want.On a related note, the Filipino student’s blog you pointed out a while ago has some posts that relate to this topic. I like his blog. Thanks for pointing it out.God bless you, Father for all your work.

  • http://aimeemilburn.typepad.com/ Aimee Milburn

    Fr., you said, The majority of conservative Evangelicals still consider Catholics not to be Christians at all.Of course. For true Evangelicals (not those “Catholics and Evangelicals Together” types, whom real Evangelicals don’t believe are real Evangelicals), to cease to believe this would be to undermine their foundational beliefs as Evangelicals, their reason for existence: discoverers of the true biblical faith of Christianity, freed from the yoke of non-biblical, off-the-rails, superstitious Catholicism. Their whole existence is based on rejection of Catholicism.To believe a Catholic is saved, an honest Evangelical has to do one of two things: either believe they are saved in spite of Catholicism, in which case they still want to get them out of the Catholic Church and into a “good” church where they’ll get “good” teaching and fellowship; or believe they are saved because of Catholicism, which is to admit the goodness of Catholicism and therefore cease to truly be Evangelical. Anything else is to descend into relativism and cognitive dissonance.I speak as a former Evangelical, who used to try to convert Catholics and get them into my “good” Evangelical church, for the reasons I mentioned above. But when I saw the goodness of Catholicism, I ceased to be an Evangelical. Now I’m a Catholic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06124533937104720078 CL

    For the record, I see your point and agree, Fr Dwight, that well-catechized Catholics who are in relationship with Christ should not be seen as targets of evangelization.I, too, am frustrated that many, if not most, of my fellow Protestants firmly believe that good Catholics cannot be good Christians because certain crucial Catholic beliefs are dangerous, unbiblical, and very very wrong. They hold their position, not out of hatred or even arrogance, but out of concern for the truth of the Gospel and the souls of the “lost.” They don’t have any real understanding of why Catholics believe the what they do, and they’re unable to examine the issues from any other perspective. And so, they assume that in general, Catholics need to be evangelized. Until more Protestants meet Catholics who inspire them to rethink typical Protestant notions, I’m afraid things are unlikely to improve. I suspect that future improvement will be proportional to the Church’s success in raising up devoted Catholics who actually know what the Church teaches and believe and follow it. Godspeed, Fr Dwight.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    Dear Aimee,If you define “real Evangelical” to mean someone who believes that Roman Catholics are not Christians, then you will find it to be sadly true that Evangelicals (the real ones, anyway) believe that Roman Catholics are not Christians. But is the circularity of your tautology now obvious to you?By the way, even the Evangelical opponents of ECT do NOT generally believe that RCs are not Christians. Their objection and non-cooperation results from their disagreements with RC doctrine, and (for some) their belief that the RCC is so far-gone in error that one can’t cooperate with it; but I doubt that a single leading opponent of ECT would say that “RCs are not Christians”. Rather, I’m confident that they would ALL say that whether a given RC individual is really a Christian depends on whether he is trusting Jesus Christ for salvation–which they would also say in answer to the question whether a given Baptist is a Christian, whether a Presbyterian is a Christian, etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    Dear Toby,I can’t recall if you’ve given your background, but I gather you didn’t have a personal upbringing in Evangelicalism. I’d like to insist that you do not at all understand us–not remotely.With only slight editing I could make the 3 numbered assertions you say no one is making. Your #2 is a very good statement of my sentimants. But I fear you still don’t get it. You are quite wrong, for example, in thinking that Ev Prot missionaries would consider nominal Protestants to be exempt from evangelism.FYI, I personally support an evangelical missionary (whom Fr. Dwight has met) who partners WITH Catholics in doing evangelism projects among nominal Catholics, with a view toward encouaging them toward a conscientious profession of faith and a Christian walk (in the RCC). These efforts are decidedly NOT oriented towards luring people out of the RCC. Why? Because leaving the RCC saves no one. Coming to Jesus is what saves. For some people, coming to Jesus will involve leaving a church (for some, the RCC as they experienced it) in which they never met Him, and which distracts them away from Him. For some–and I met them at the Bible Church–coming to Christ involved leaving the Baptist Church where (they say) they never met Him. For others, coming to Christ involved leaving the Methodist Church where (they say) they never met Him. Whatever. I can’t help having my own beliefs and opinions about what churches are best, but the point is NOT to get someone out of one church and into another. The point is to get them to faith in Jesus Christ.Even the staunchly anti-Catholic fundamentalists would affirm that: One is not saved by being in or out of any given church; one is saved by faith in Jesus Christ.Fr. Dwight’s story presents a good scenario for discussing this–but do bear in mind two things about the facts he gives about Anita: (1) Those facts are unknown and unknowable to an Ev Prot missionary. Anita doesn’t bear an aura that announces to this missionary that she has accepted and assented to the authentic Gospel. He can quickly learn that she professes to be a Catholic, but this isn’t a definitive warrant that she doesn’t need evangelization. (2) Those “facts” are rather porous. What she has accepted (according to the scenario) is “what [the priest] said”–and the missionary can’t know whether this priest has faithfully taught what the RCC teaches, or whether the priest is an unreliable teacher even by RC standards.Rejoice that the Gospel is preached.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    DGus, Your reply to Aimee sounds good, but it begs some questions: While one says that a Christian is defined as one who is ‘trusting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior’, we still have to define just what we mean by that phrase.Most classical Evangelicals I know define this as meaning that a person has had a ‘born again’ experience or they have ‘accepted Jesus in their heart’ or they have ‘repented and accepted Christ.’ This is all well and good, but the faithful Catholic says that he too ‘trusts in jesus Christ for his salvation.”However, by this he is more likely to offer as evidence not a subjective religious experience, but membership in the Body of Christ–the Church, baptism and a partiipation in the sacramental life of Christ’s body.This is just the sort of evidence that doesn’t really impress the classic Evangelical. It is this allegiance to a ‘man made institution’ the Catholics reliance on ‘human traditions’ and his trust in ‘magical sacraments’ which causes the Evangelical to recoil and fall back on his foundational conviction that Catholics aren’t really ‘saved’ and therefore are not really Christians.If an Evangelical does allow that a Catholic could possible be ‘trusting in Jesus Christ for his salvation’ through the Catholic Church and her sacramental and catechetical system, then he will become a very different kind of Evangelical.I realize there are some such Evangelicals out there, and the ones I know are doing wonderful work assisting the Catholic Church in her mission, but they are few and far between.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    Fr. Dwight:This is not a game in which we are picking up teams. The eternal destiny of precious souls is at stake. We don’t call “dibs” on individuals, make them ours, and exempting them from the evangelistic efforts of others.If you can sincerely liken Ev Prot evangelism to Jehovah’s Witness evangelism, then I suppose you must object to it as you do here–but then your persistent irenic commentary about Evangelicalism becomes incoherent or dishonest. The Ev Prot missionary worships and proclaims the true, Triune God (as contrasted with JW’s unitarian monad); the Ev Prot proclaims Jesus Christ, true God and true man (as opposed to the JW’s Arian creature). Of course I’m quite aware that, by RC lights, the Ev Prot message is still defective. You’d say, e.g., that the Ev Prot lacks the sacraments (unless you’re in your sometimes-mood of saying just that you can’t be SURE whether Prot sacraments are valid). You’d say the Ev Prot lacks the true Church (unless you’re in your sometimes-mood of saying he lacks the fullness of it). But as important as these Ev Prot defects are, they are simply not on a par with the defects of proclaiming (as the JW does) a false God and a false Christ.It’s therefore absurd to say that the Ev Prot should feel about JW missionaries the way that you feel about Ev Prot missionaries–unless Team Spirit is your motivation, and the bottom line is to get people signed up on one’s roster.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    And again I say: Rejoice that the Gospel is preached.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    DGus, I really wish it were so that ‘this is not a game in which we are picking up teams.’ However, when Evangelical missionaries go to Catholic countries, not just to get Catholics to be better Catholics, but to get them to leave the Catholic Church to join a Baptist Church they are very much ‘picking up teams’You must agree that the majority of Evangelical Protestant missionaries to Catholic countries make it their clear intent to ‘deliver souls from the darkness of Roman Catholicism’. You and I have both sat through many such missionary presentations where the good folks say that is exactly what they are aiming to do.The idea that they would discriminate at all, and understand some Catholics to not only be saved, but to be good Christians is beyond their wildest imaginings.For them all Catholics are lost and need to be saved, and they are so by the very fact of being Catholics. Not only do they need to be saved, but they need to leave the Catholic Church and repudiate her teachings.By all means, let us rejoice that the gospel is preached, but let us also discern what the gospel is. Are they actually preaching the historic faith once delivered to the saints or a seriously defective, Americanized Protestant version of that faith? By all means let us rejoice that the gospel is preached, but let us also challenge the ways and methods that are used, the professionalism of our missionaries, their tactics and their targets.If the huge amounts of money, energy, goodwill, sincere desire to save souls and the desire to grow the Body of Christ that Evangelicals exhibit were to be used in tandem with the Catholic Church we would actually benefit and learn from them, and likewise, their message, their style and their wonderful Christian life might also be deepened and widened by what we have to offer.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    Fr. Dwight:I have no way to quantify the phenomena of Ev Prot missionaries who have the attitude you describe vs. those who have the attitude I describe, but I can’t help supposing that you picked up your impressions about 30 years ago from an eccentric slice of fundamentalism. Truthfully, I can’t remember any missionary sessions of the sort you describe, though I do remember slide shows with bloody-kneed Mexican people climbing up the rough stone steps of a cathedral on their knees, so maybe that’s what you had in mind. BTW, that picture still makes me sad, and still makes me think that those dear people need to hear the Good News–and that they aren’t hearing it in that cathedral.I certainly can’t join you in warranting that a majority of Ev Prot missionaries in RC countries can be fairly characterized as being about “deliver[ing] souls from the darkness of Roman Catholicism.” I think it probably is fair to say that they, like me, regard the RCC as a defective evangelist, teacher, and pastor and make no assumption that the professing Catholic is spiritually hunky-dory. That is not the same.I think a lot of what you are reacting to is the fact (which you don’t realize or acknowledge) that the Ev Prot missionary is treating RCs the way he’s treating Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans, everyone: I.e., he’s treating them as if they are in peril of a real, eternal, populated Hell. People without Jesus are dying and going there daily. We have to save them, and our only chance is in this life. When someone with a ministerial collar pooh-poohs the urgency, takes offense at the turf violation, and assures everyone that everything is well in hand–then that person becomes part of the problem, and not part of the solution. I think it’s fair to say that the typical Ev Prot missionary sees the institution of the RCC as part of the problem, for just those reasons.And THAT attitude, BTW, is shared by some RC evangelists.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I’m sorry. I just don’t buy it. You and I both know that for conservative Baptists, Catholics are ‘in need of salvation’ in quite a different way than say, Methodists or Church of God or Pentecostals or Lutherans.They may preach the gospel of repentance to their fellow Protestants with gusto, and good for them, but they do not assume that, simply by being Church of God or Pentecostal or United Church of Christ they must de facto, be un Christian, the way they automatically do for Catholics.I am certainly not discouraging Evangelism. I’m discouraging an ignorant and insensitive approach to evangelism that is offensive to fellow Christians.My simple bottom line is this, and it is something you seemingly refuse to admit: that conservative Baptist missionaries assume without question that every Catholic–simply by the fact that they are Catholic–must be unsaved. I am not saying the converse is true–that every Catholic is necessarily a committed believer who is not in need of further evangelisation. I am saying that it is wrong to assume that every a Catholic is by definition, not a Christian.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    I’ll bet you’ve never heard the presentations of Baptist missionaries who serve in predominantly Lutheran countries. I assure you that the Lutheran ministers there would be making the same territorial, defensive, complacent arguments that you make here–and my replies would be basically the same. (Ditto Ev Prot missionaries in EO countries.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    You’re still avoiding the main point: Baptists aren’t just benignly preaching the gospel to the many who are lost. They begin with the assumption not just that a religious person might still need conversion, but on the assumption that all Catholics (simply by being Catholics) cannot possibly be saved. A Catholic might say until he’s blue in the face, “But I have repented. I do so every time I go to confession. I have accepted Jesus. I do so every time I go to Mass. I do trust Jesus Christ for my salvation.”Tell me honestly, would a Baptist missionary hear those words or understand them, much less accept them as having any validity?Of course not. They would say, “But you need to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. you also need to come out of the Catholic Church and be rebaptized and join the Baptist Church. You can’t be a Christian and remain a Catholic.” In other words, “Your Christianity is not really Christianity. You can only be a Christian if you become my kind of Christian and have the sort of religious experience that I have had.”I accept that not all Evangelical missionaries are quite so crude, but you must also, I think, accept that many are, and that this is lamentable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08110491371985845560 Apostolic Anchoress / Rowena Hullfire

    Agree w/you strongly Fr. Dwight. I live in Appalachian eastern KY which is very Baptist and Church of Christ and Pentecostal and fundamentalist etc. and I hear it all the time how I’m not saved and I’m going to Hell, in spite of my declaring with vigor that I HAVE ACCEPTED JESUS CHRIST AS MY PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR.And they tell me how they are funding missionaries to bring Christ to Poland because there’s no Christians there. Can you believe?!So, my question is:Do the ends justify the means–is it OK to be a Deceiver for Jesus?Is it OK to tear up families in conflict to drag some to your church, where these Christians formerly had unity and harmony?Is in an effective evangelistic approach to be a Jerk for Jesus?I experienced the beatitude of persecution for Jesus’ name at a large bluegrass concert, where the artists were asking people to cheer when they announced a whole long list of different denominations. Of course I cheered vigorously when they said Catholic…cuz I have holy boldness…and I was the ONLY one. It was the last on their list, apparently, the culmination of the build-up to the punchline. They made a comment from the mic from stage in front of thousands implying that I was hellbound, not a Christian, and they’d love to talk to me afterward, stop by the table after the show, and buy some CD’s too. The whole audience laughed at me.Can you believe?! I am not surprised, really. It was just so bold and public and obvious and mean. I decided not to support any bluegrass music as a result of this because I did not feel welcome in the crowd. There was a great wound of disunity inflicted.Maybe that’s why Jesus prayed for unity in Jn 17 SO THAT THE WORLD MIGHT BELIEVE and St Paul fiercely condemns factions and dissensions in 1 Cor and Gal…the latter is particularly thunderous, as he puts factions and dissensions on the same list as immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies and the like. This list is a list of the works of the flesh that are opposed to living by the Spirit. Paul says about factions and dissensions and the rest of the list: I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.Those who have hacked the Body of Christ to bits should read and tremble.If we are led by the Spirit of God, would the results be unity or division?Unity, according to Jesus (Jn 17). Including visible unity, because the world has to see it to believe in Him. No such thing as an invisible unity that the world could see.Who is the father of division? What does the Scripture say?Paul again, in Romans:I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching you have learned: avoid them. For such people do not serve out Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent. For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet.Ah, obedience and goodness and avoiding those who stir up dissensions crushes Satan!Promoting sheep-stealing and stirring up ever more divisions in Christianity accomplishes the goals of the Divider.When I explained to my friends the history and faith and vigor of Poland, I explained to them also that the pattern of evangelization is that the Catholics turn pagans into Christians and then other Christians go to those same lands and try to get the Catholic Christians to join their church. The hard work is already done. Their method is honed on that goal and strategy. What a waste of resources on what could be used on the Great Commission! Think of all the non-Christians they’re not converting, wasting time going after Catholic Christians!

  • bernadette

    Rowena’s right. I attend many evangelical/Protestant events that catch my eye – often because I love hearing The Word preached with such fire and excitement. It builds me up. But inevitably one has to brace oneself for the anticipated anti-Catholic moment that arises: “They worship Mary and even call her The Queen of Heaven” cue booing and cat-calls. “They wear crucifixes – dopn`t they realize that Jesus rose?” and last Summer, at what was an extremely good course on Freemasonry run by a fantastic Ev/Prot group from Australia, I was asked to remove my miraculous medal as it was idolatory. I didn`t, of course. I do love learning from the wonderful apostolates in thre Ev/Prot tradition, but I wish the abuse of Catholics could stop. What are they frightened of ?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03120073132125924274 Toby

    cl,Well, it’s nice to be proven wrong. Unfortunately, you say that you are in a great minority which shows why Father Dwight feels the way he does.Re: dgus’ comments:”(1) Those facts are unknown and unknowable to an Ev Prot missionary. Anita doesn’t bear an aura that announces to this missionary that she has accepted and assented to the authentic Gospel. He can quickly learn that she professes to be a Catholic, but this isn’t a definitive warrant that she doesn’t need evangelization. (2) Those “facts” are rather porous. What she has accepted (according to the scenario) is “what [the priest] said”–and the missionary can’t know whether this priest has faithfully taught what the RCC teaches, or whether the priest is an unreliable teacher even by RC standards.”Wow, there it is. The arrogance demonstrated in those two statements is almost unbelieveable. What a stunning claim. It goes like this:1. While Anita looks to be a good Christian from the outside, we do not know if “she has accepted and assented to the authentic Gospel.” We will ask her certain questions and be the judges of whether or not she is close to Jesus.2. Questions are asked e.g. “Do you believe in the ‘bible alone’?” or “Are you saved?” etc.3. Anita answers and is told, “Oh, you believe in ‘tradition’? Oh no, look at this pasage from the bible where Jesus condemns traditions” or “You confess your sins to a priest? Oh no, look at this passage that says there is only one mediator between man and God” or “You follow the teachings of the Pope? Oh no, look at this passage that shows the pope is the whore of Babylon” or “You call your priest ‘father’? Oh no, look at this passage where Jesus says to call no one father. You are contradicting Jesus!” etc.4. “Anita, we have judged you to not know the authentic Gospel and/or to not know authentic Catholic teaching. We will now teach you what you need to know. First, let’s thank God we came along.”5. First, “bible alone”. Oh, you can’t read (as most people in third world countries can’t)? Well, we will replace your teachings of “what [the priest] said” with “what we say” (i.e. replace “their tradition” with “our tradition”) because God has given us the authority to interpret the bible for you. Then you will be closer to Christ. Tell all your friends who can’t read that we have the correct interpretation of the bible. If that isn’t getting people to “switch teams”, I don’t know what is.What arrogance from these self-appointed Christian police. “Judging whether or not you are close to God since (insert year denomination was formed here)”.Also, given the misrepresentations of Catholic teaching by ev prots, aren’t Catholics comforted in knowing that “the missionary can’t know whether this priest has faithfully taught what the RCC teaches, or whether the priest is an unreliable teacher even by RC standards.” Thank goodness the ev prots will judge whether authentic RC teaching has been followed and/or if the priest is knowledgable.Aside from the American Christian bias of bible alone that American Christians bring (because of course, everyone can read), they will not speak to the people in a way they’ll understand. They’ll speak to them in American Christian lingo like “Are you saved?” For educated Catholics in *America*, it’s hard enough to understand what the question is getting at given Catholic teaching so it’s “confusing”. Ev prots know this. Will they form their questions in a way Catholics outside America will understand? No. Because the confusion is the first step in judging the soul of that Catholic. “If she doesn’t know if she’s saved, then she is not saved, and we judge her not to know the true Gospel/not to be close to Jesus etc”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    Dear Toby,No, no, no, no and no. These issues are difficult enough to discuss without trying to imagine the heart condition (e.g., arrogance) of the other person (the very thing you criticize when you suppose the missionary is doing it). And as you can imagine, on my end it is unappealing to try to make substantive points under a hail of insulting presumptions. It seems you can’t read what I say without seeing red, so I’ll bow out. God bless you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03120073132125924274 Toby

    Well, that was a first for me.First, in all things charity. dgus found me uncharitable. I apologize to dgus for this. I withdraw all the polemical tone in my previous post and will repost my points below in a neutral manner. I do not expect dgus to respond as he has already bowed out but, for the benefit of Father Dwight, I want to demonstrate that I was not just slinging mud.Father Dwight, I apologize if you found my tone too polemical for your blog. I had no intention of dragging your blog down to the level of many a combox discussion.So below is the neutral version of what I gather from dgus’ two points.1. Since the given facts about Anita are unknowable to ev prots, how do they know if she needs to be evangelized? I assume ev prots don’t just sit back and observe her behaviour for a week or so. I assume they must begin by asking Anita questions. Essentially, Anita’s knowledge of or commitment to Jesus must be checked and verified. But by what criteria and authority do ev prots check and verify the faith of someone who calls themselves a Christian?2. Assuming they do ask questions, what questions do the ev prots ask? Unless they are Orthodox missionaries, the answers given by Anita will not sound good. It seems Anita, by virtue of being Catholic and giving Catholic responses, would more than likely be judged to need evangelization even if she knows what the Catholic Church teaches.3. Assuming ev prots conclude that Anita needs evnagelization and must be re-taught Christ’s message, by what authority do they claim to have the “correct” Christian teachings? How can they claim to know better than “what [the priest] said”?If the people of a “village” are Catholic and are converted by Baptists, do the next ev prots, who are Denomiation A, who come along skip over the village or do they re-check to see if this village needs evangelization? Does the next group that comes by, Denomination B, skip the village or re-check to see the people’s commitment to Christ? I don’t know. But we all know that if the village is Catholic when the Baptists or Denomination A or Denomination B come along, they automatically get checked out. No questions asked. And that is Father Dwight’s basic point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus