Call Me an Evangelical Charismatic Liberal Conservative Progressive Traditionalist…

…or call me Catholic.

One of my life slogans is the dictum by F.D.Maurce that “A man is most often right in what he affirms and wrong in what he denies.” I realize that my own prejudices and background incline me towards what seems to be a more conservative viewpoint, but I reject the title and kick against the walls of any box I’m put into.

So here is what I affirm: I am an Evangelical because I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is the message for the world’s salvation. I believe the mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel of God’s love and redemption to a needy world, and I believe the old, old story of sinful humanity in need of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. That love is granted to the world through the sacrificial death of Our Lord Jesus Christ–Son of God and Son of Mary, and it is ministered to the world through his Holy Church. It is my mission and the mission of all the baptized to go out into the world and share this good news with love, power and passion.

I’m a charismatic because I believe we cannot do this without the infilling power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals and the whole of Christ’s body the Church. I believe the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit for healing, reconciliation, forgiveness and transformation are alive in the world today and are available through prayer and the sacraments of Christ’s Holy Church. I believe in the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit which empower and enliven individuals and Christ’s church. I believe it is the Holy Spirit who charges our hearts with the power and grandeur of God and lifts us from merely being human.

I’m a liberal in the classic sense of the word–meaning I wish to have an open mind and an open heart to the viewpoints of others–seeking to embrace and affirm all that is beautiful, good and true in every philosophy, culture, group or perspective. I wish to have an open heart to those in need–to have a preferential option for the poor, to be suspicious of hypocrisy, cant, croneyism and the establishment powers. I want to be liberal in the administration of God’s love for the lost, the needy and the disenfranchised. I like the radical call of the liberal–I admire the maverick and the rebel amongst them. I follow a table turning Jesus.

I am a Conservative because I wish to conserve all from the past that is beautiful good and true. I believe if a thing ain’t broken you don’t need to fix it. I am a conservative because I trust things that have stood the test of time more than that which would replace it. I’m conservative because I want to conserve and repair something old and precious rather than junk it and get something new. To put down roots and grow deep and strong I want to value all that has been tested through generations of thinking people. I’m conservative because I want to make sure those good things from the past continue to live and be relevant and dynamic in the world today.

I’m progressive because I believe God’s Spirit is always doing something young, new and fresh in the world. God’s work is ever creative, ever new and ever bold. I’m progressive not because I believe that the progress of mankind is inevitable, but because it is possible. I’m progressive because all creation is groaning for redemption and God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year. He is not dead and he is not done. He is not done with me and he is not done with our beautiful world and he is not done with the human race. I am progressive because I believe in his loving providence the best is yet to come.

I am Traditionalist because tradition provides the roots whereby the new work of God can blossom. Tradition is the trellis on which the vine can grow. Tradition gives the structure, the discipline and the wisdom which instructs and channels the powerful work of the spirit. Tradition treasures the beauties of art, music, architecture, literature and drama which echoes from the past into our age and gives us inspiration and guidance on how to go on. Tradition on its own is dead, but tradition with the power of the spirit is a dynamite that can transform the world and transform me.

I refuse any particular category and will kick out of any box, and I encourage readers who wish to be fully Catholic to do the same. Read More.



  • PJ

    Bravo Father! Well said (or written as the case may be). Joyous day!

  • Howard

    What, you insist on using simplified stereotypes of others, but do not wish a simplified stereotype of yourself?

    • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

      I would suggest Fr L isn’t stereotyping at all, but it’s the Emergent Theologians who are. They are the ones basing their Christianity and Ecclesiology on such stereotypes.

      Catholicism can include all the things Fr L points out to as good and part of his ‘makeup’. There is nothing wrong with this, is there. However, Brian McLaren, for example, claims he’s Catholic, but doesn’t accept the Primacy of Peter, so he’s not. Therefore, ‘Cathiolic’ in Brian McLaren’s sense, is definitely a sterotype of cherry-picked beliefs or practices he likes.

      Fr L is not talking about denominations or religions, and yet terms like ‘charismatic’, ‘conservative’, ‘liberal’, etc., have taken on (or been given) such a life of their own (reified), that many see them as such!

      They are not movements or groups of people, and yet, people have so identified with them, they take any criticism of these terms as personal insults. We need to be constantly wary of this, I believe.

      • Howard

        “Franciscan” and “Augustinian” are “boxes”, though. A Franciscan friar and an Augustinian monk have two different ways of life. Which one of them is merely “Catholic”? There is nothing wrong with calling a Franciscan a Franciscan and an Augustinian an Augustinian. These differences are what makes the Catholic Church the CATHOLIC Church, not the Church of the Homogenous Lowest Common Denominator. Also, there is something about the tone of this series that I don’t like. No doubt Fr. Longenecker means to say something like, “Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ,” but it comes across more like, “God, I thank thee that I am not as the rest of men….”

        • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

          Howard, in a sense you’re arguing for me. Your idea of ‘Homogenous Lowest Common Denominator’, is excellent (I wish I’d thought of it), because that is exactly what McLaren and the Emergents are creating.

          McLaren is a Protestant, but he wrote a book called, “Why I Am A Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed – Yet Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished Christian”

          He can be any of those, except Catholic. Because one can’t be Protestant and Catholic simultaneously, and can you see that Father L’s title might just be a skit on it?

          Also, I really don’t think Fr L would be thanking God he wasn’t like the rest of men – his earthiness and honesty is evidence of that – but I believe he was making a point about the growing obsession with labels.

          I have been looking through quite a few books on my bookshelf which are pre-Vatican II, and I have to say, the issue of what ‘brand’ of Catholic simply doesn’t come up.

          This way of qualifying our Catholicism – what sort of Catholic I am – seems to be a novum, and it concerns me.

          Even the great Frank Sheed doesn’t label ‘good’ Catholics as any different, despite plenty of criticism of ‘cradle’ Catholics and the like, and Ronald Knox talks about the ‘mixed bag’ of the Church, in his, ‘Creed in Slow Motion’.

          As to your other related point, are Franciscans baptised Franciscans or as Catholics? This is what I mean by what could be referred to as the ‘reification of accidents’.

          Baptism changes me substantially. Whether I ‘become’ a Franciscan or Charismatic later, is not a change in my nature, and yet, people seem to be fighting for these things as if they were essential (in it’s ontological sense).

          Many Charismatics insist I have to be baptised in the Holy Spirit, but according to their subgroup’s own prescription, and they treat me as ‘second rate’ because I don’t fit into their model. I also have traddies telling me all sorts of conflicting things about the Mass. One person even told me his spiritual director told him not to attend ‘OF Missae’, as he called them, because they were occasions for sin!

          To me the this sort of behaviour is like returning to the paranoiac Protestantism I left because of this sort of behaviour. :)

          • Howard

            I think we’re on the same page. I had never heard of McLaren, but I suppose his book must be behind the rash of “I’m a …” and “Don’t call me…” posts I’ve seen in the Catholic blogosphere lately.

            I’ve even done that myself. I can no longer describe my cultural and political thinking as “conservative” because that now seems to mean nothing but “Republican”, and I don’t think anyone is really sure any more what the Republican Party stands for. I’m thinking of calling myself “Chestertonian”, but I saw a comment in which another fellow called himself a “Norman Rockwell American”, and it was pretty clear he meant the same thing.

            Too often, though, these posts have been written as though ONLY THE AUTHOR does not fit neatly into categories. I’m thinking specifically of another priest blogger who had a similar post and thought he was being “a good Catholic” by refusing to be “partisan” in the way he identified himself — only he was extremely partisan in the way he categorized everyone else. He really, really ticked me off, so unless he someday becomes my bishop or the Pope (both very very very unlikely), we are done for this side of the River Jordan.

            That personal history has no doubt left me a bit harsh in my judgment of similar blog postings. I have no problem with anyone refusing to be boxed in for the convenience of the media or politicians, but I do want to see some awareness that a lot of other people also are more complicated than merely “left” or “right”.

          • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

            Hi, Howard.
            The Catholic blogsphere is getting very tetchy, and I sympathise with your experience.

            One of the paradoxes of ‘tolerance’ (relativism/pluralism) is it is very intolerant – as in the example you give of that other priest blogger.

            The epithet, or disguise of this position, is often expressed as, ‘I’m spiritual but not religious’ (said in a rather self-righteous, hatred of Catholicism kinda way). It’s merely a cloak for their antinomian, anarchic, lifestyle, that wants to be free of any constraint on their libido.

          • Howard

            There’s something about this medium that makes us all jerks…. I know it does that to me.

            As for Charismatic Catholics, I have had a few friends who tended in that direction, but honestly that was before I converted, and I don’t think these friends were “hard core” Charismatics, either. Likewise, I have some Traditionalist friends, but not from the fringe — I don’t think I really *could* be friends with a Sede Vacantist. Still, what you say about your experience with Charismatics is troubling.

            I sometimes wonder what the Church would look like if She were healed. I think some recognizable aspects of Protestantism would remain. For example, I think the Amish and Mennonites might still retain their “simple” lifestyle, but become something like the Franciscan 3rd Order or Opus Dei. Hey, if the Church can even cite the Sibyl with approval, to say nothing of the use made of Aristotle, surely some good could be found from the Protestants. The problem is making sure you bite into the side of the apple that is not poisonous.

      • Howard

        Oh, and I prefer 1 Timothy 1:15 as a motto. I used to have it printed on my checks. (Last time I reordered, I just got the cheapest, generic kind, though.)

  • Cathy R.

    Very nicely said Father. I really thought you were just a “trad”- mea culpa. I have been spending time observing & trying to understand the trad/rad conflict. I wonder how can we evangelize a sick & lost world when we ourselves waste so much time yelling at each other. I seem to remember Jesus saying that Satan wants to sift us like wheat and I see that we Catholics spend a good deal of time putting each other “through the mill’. My prayer is that we can all be one, as Jesus & the Father are one!
    I do not hold your love for the TLM (frankly I prefer Novus Ordo) but I think it is just fine that it is offered to those who love it. Vestments: whatever. Music: when I was young I liked the more modern stuff (I was a Charismatic Catholic for many years and enjoyed the hand clapping hand waving stuff. A friend of mine, who was “High Church” Anglican once said to me: “You can’t get much “Lower Church” than the Catholic Charismatic renewal”-Funny!!! I understand that we are all different and what appeals (or makes not much different to me) is very important to others. As I have gotten older, I tend to be a little more traditional that I used to be. I like the fact that some of the old traditions have returned (like Eucharistic Adoration). My main focus is the Eucharist, I don’t care where I get it from, whatever form the church declares licit (because Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to Peter & his successors) is fine by me. Unlike you however, I am more likely to attend Novus Ordo. Anyway I have gone on too long. Peace to you!

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    Below is a comment I wrote a few weeks ago in a combox in relation to an article which implied parishes needed to be made up of ‘Evangelical Catholics’ ™, in order to thrive.

    I was feeling rather cynical at the time, as the blogsphere seems buzzing with ‘Weigellian Catholics’, and it seems some authors actually generate these terms to sell books (like ‘Forming “Intentional” Disciples’, too), when they’re simply describing what a Catholic or Disciple should be, as a norm, without the need for the qualifying adjective. (This is no slur on the excellent content of either of these books.)

    ‘ “I’m an Evangelical catholic/Intentional disciple/Faithful to the Church/Orthodox Catholic…”/“I’m of Paul/I’m of Apollos…”

    It seems to me that whenever a section of the Church is going off the rails it separates itself, names itself – denomination – or later it is declared as a heresy by the See of Peter after the person who led the group if it goes too far. Feeneyism, for example.

    Why can’t we just be Catholic? Why a need for distinguishing ourselves from the rest of the heaving mass? Are we special if we’re Evangelical Catholics? Are those not in Evangelical Catholic parishes somehow ‘lesser’ Catholic?’

    The last two questions I feel particularly strongly about, because the labels become rather like a brand, like those who ostentatiously wear Gucci or Dolce and Gabbana…

    • Sherry Weddell

      Ha! How very funny! You pay me a compliment of being far more shrewd and strategic than I deserve. We started using the language of “intentional discipleship” in sheer desperation in 2005 after finding that so many Catholics had no imaginative category for the reality that the simple term “disciple” meant. It was not a term I was familiar with before – but when we used it, people did finally seem get what we were talking about, so we hung onto it. (Its a teacher thing – when you find the illustration or language that “clicks”, you hang onto it.) The book was not even dreamed of at that point. In fact, the book was not my idea at all. Six years later, my editor at OSV, who had been after me for a couple years for a book on gifts discernment, wrote me out of the blue to check in and I told her I was working on a book based upon what we had learned in 8 years of putting on Making Disciples seminars for 1600 Catholic leaders from around the world. At 6:30 am, I received an e-mail saying that she wanted everything I had on the project and at 2:30 pm, I got a call saying that OSV wanted it. So my whole life turned on a dime in less than 24 hours. That it took off and became a best-seller was another total surprise – to me and my editor and everyone involved. NONE of this was my idea – it is all the most surprising grace of God. This reminds me of the woman who once asked me what my “five year plan was.” All I could do was laugh and say I had a “two year guess”. I don’t use the term “evangelical Catholic” in public or private but the idea that the conversations emerging in the Catholic community are all the result of a clever “branding” campaign is not reality-based – at least in as far as our work is concerned.

      • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

        Hi Sherry,
        Thanks for your reply. I’m glad it wasn’t strategic as it often is in publishing in order to ‘segment the market’ and thereby sell more books. I wanted to use alternatives to Traditional’, ‘Faithful’, ‘Orthodox’, or ‘Neo-whatever’, to make a point about people labelling themselves as there are so many fads about. That said, I still have egg on my face, for making such an assumption, for which I am sorry.
        My copy of your book is covered in underlinings and asterisks, because it’s so insightful or it’s affirming things I have been saying in our parish as it’s ‘under review’ by the diocese, whilst being told I’m talking nonsense. If I have any criticism, it would be opening your book with a chapter devoted to statistics, rather than as an appendix!

        My comment, however, was initially driven by what seems to be happening in many Catholic ‘factions’ (as pointed out in some of the recent posts on SOMH), and outlined in ‘Step 83′ in Christian Smith’s, How to Go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-five Difficult Steps, and I will quote it in a new post, below, as it’s rather long, but I hope Fr L will indulge it, as I think he’d agree with it, too.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          I disagree with your criticism about the statistics (and that makes you WRONG, heretic!). For me, the stats were a wake-up call that set up the rest of the book.

  • Alexis La Joie


  • Andrew

    Well said – thank you

  • Brother Juniper

    Did you write “Must We Call Them Rad Trads?” to set up writing this article or did you evolve so much in your thinking in just a few days? Either way, Bravo Father, the fullness of the Catholic faith is what we all should seek.

  • Gus from PA

    Well said Father. I am a former protestant who had evangelical leanings. And now I am a Roman Catholic who has the same leanings you cited in your essay. In my view those who profess Jesus as all divine and all human, who try to be led by the Holy Spirit in all aspects of life, who believe the duty of Christians is to feed the hungry, who pray for a return to real religious freedom where government should fear to tread will one day stand before the Father with Jesus as defense counsel making a case for our entry into heaven. To me religious affiliation is not as important as affiliation to Christ and commitment to his commandments to be doers of the word not just hearers.

    • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

      ‘To me religious affiliation is not as important as affiliation to Christ and commitment to his commandments to be doers of the word not just hearers.’

      So you’ve remained Protestant then? :)

      Seriously, I think you’ve missed the point. I don’t believe he’s being ‘ecumenical’ (pluralist) as most commonly perceived, but Ecumenical in it’s true sense.

      To me Fr L’s making a point about what it is to be truly Catholic rather than ‘Emergent’ (which is most of Evangelicalism these days). To be Emergent is to have the tail wag the Dog.

      Catholicism isn’t a sort of ecclesial and doctrinal mongrelism, like Emergentism. Catholicism is a great organic unity, a Hierarchy of Truth.

      Christianity is not merely the sum of the beliefs and traditions of those who call themselves – who McLaren thinks are – Christian: which is perfectly in line with traditional Protestant Ecclesiology.

      Rather, Christianity, in its fullness, is the Catholic Church, and from her, all else follows. She is visible because she has substance. The Church is the Body of Christ and communicates Christ, not like minds who get together with those who agree with me and ‘My Jesus’.

      He’s actually turning Brian McLaren and his cronies on their heads. (Now, what a surprise…!)

      • Howard

        I had to look up who Brian McLaren is. From the little I’ve seen, it is not apparent how anyone could think he is a Catholic. He seems to be someone who thinks Jesus is the Way, the [obsolete idea omitted], and the Life. Whatever he is, he is not mentioned in the original post.

        • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

          Hi Howard, as I mentioned in my other reply to you, above, it’s not Brian McLaren, in particular, but the pluralist mindset. He’s not mentioned, but the mindset is implied – but also the problem with it.

          I think people tend to equate Pluralism with Catholicism as they’re both a form of ‘universal’, but in very different senses. To be fully Catholic is not to be a Pluralist/Universalist, but…Catholic.

  • Theophilus2

    Amen. It really is that simple. For our Savior Jesus Christ says “abide in Me”. We follow and live the Gospel of God. Apart from this, as we heard Sunday, “all things are vanity”. Also… Col 3:11 “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all”.

    All things in Christ

  • David_Naas


  • Greg B

    Spot on.

  • johnnyc

    “you’ve been challenged to get out of your comfortable little box and think things through a little.”

    What exactly am I supposed to think things through about catholics who support abortion, homosexual marriage and women priests?

    • Greg B

      You’re missing the message of the article.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      You don’t have to think through anything. If they’re wrong, you love them anyway, but you still treat them like brothers and sisters in Christ.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      You’re supposed to look at their arguments carefully and thoroughly so you can respond to those arguments equally thoroughly, with truth and charity. Few dissenting Catholics will have a change of heart by being screamed at with, “Because the Church says so, that’s why!”

    • Chip98

      Are these things True, Good or Beautiful? Does the natural process process of having a child or the definition of Marriage from the very dawn of man need fixing? Those were two points in the article. How did you miss them?

  • Kevin Tierney

    I’m everything, but not the rad trad. We gotta avoid the scary other. :p

    Only kidding Father. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Actually I tried at catholic lane. It didn’t work.

  • Kat Carney

    Me, too! No wonder I get accused by “liberals” of being a conservative, and by “conservatives” of being a liberal! I really enjoy reading your articles.

  • Peter Ascosi

    great article. Amen.

    you should add ecumenical (committed to praying and working towards the full and visible communion of all Christians)

  • UAWildcatx2

    Well written. Excellent.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    One of Christian Smith’s 95 ‘tips’ to an Evangelical who’s considering Catholicism, from “How to Go From being a God Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps.”

    ‘…Some Catholic parishes are wonderful. Others are frankly just bad, at least in some ways. Your Puritan instincts will show themselves the more the parish you visit is closer to bad. By “Puritan” I mean only accepting the pure. Puritanism is making sure that everything is correct and ideally getting better, and all of the people involved in any church are serious, worthy, and creditable. The Puritan impulse is to quickly criticize when particular things (e.g., sermons, teachings, music, aesthetics, the singing) are not up to par, and to feel some sense of superiority when other people seem lax or uncommitted.The Puritan way is to demand that things be purified as a condition of staying or else leaving and doing things more purely elsewhere.’

    Step 83, Visit your local Catholic Parish for Mass and pay close attention to your instinctive reactions, p 153

    - This is what I see as a growing phenomenon within Catholicism, and often evinced by the use of an adjective to qualify one’s Catholicism as somehow different from the ‘hoi polloi’, especially amongst the more ‘conservative’. :)

  • exxe

    “I refuse any particular category and will kick out of any box, and I
    encourage readers who wish to be fully Catholic to do the same.”
    I refuse to be categorized as a Catholic, since it leaves the impression that we are just another sect. I am a Christian, who acknowledges, and obeys, the authority from the seat of Peter, and all councils since Nicaea. God Bless all my Christians.

  • Will

    I read somewhere (?) that most Americans used to be between the twenty-yard lines, with most near the fifty-yard line, as far as politics. Now people are scattered all over the football field with far too many in opposite end zones. Could the same thought apply to Catholics and religion?

  • Kathleen M. Ritter

    In other words, you are sane.

  • Danielle E.

    By an I relate fr! Sometimes I feel like I can’t belong because I don’t fit in one little you, I’m attached to many or all of them. Thanks for pointing out that I am actually just a Catholic.

  • priest’s wife

    this sums me up, too

  • anna lisa

    This is simply perfect. Thank you. I sent it to someone I love who thinks I’m a liberal freak sometimes. I’m going to ask him, “did you read it?–because this is what I’m about…” Thanks be to the Holy spirit who made beautiful use of you to write it.