What’s Right about the New Evangelization?

Wow! The providence of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit never cease to amaze. This week I am pondering the Holy Father’s Evangelii Gaudium and on this blog I was expressing some questions about the pope’s emphasis and some frustrations about the idea of evangelization for most American Catholics today.

Then I pick up the next book on my “Books which should have been reviewed long ago” pile and it is Ralph Martin’s The Urgency of the New Evangelization: Answering the Call this little book packs a powerful punch. It is a concise version of Ralph’s longer study on evangelization and the problem of universalism– Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization which I reviewed recently here. The question of whether hell will be highly populated is considered here.

Now Ralph and his colleagues Mary Healy and Peter Williamson offer a concise and effective summary of the arguments. This book should be read along with Sherry Weddell’s excellent Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by all priests and seminarians.

The most insidious cancer in the Christian church today is universalism and semi-universalism combined with indifferentism. Indifferentism is the lie that it doesn’t really matter what church or religion you belong to. Universalism is the lie that everyone will be saved because God is so merciful he will not send anyone to hell. Semi-universalism is the commonly held lie that there may be a hell, but there probably won’t be very many people there. All of these beliefs are clearly contrary to the plain words of Scripture.

Ralph writes clearly and concisely with abundant quotes from Scripture and the documents of the Church. He tells us what the New Evangelization is, answers the question “Why Bother?”, discusses the laity’s role, the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s power. He then goes on to outline the simple message of salvation: human beings are sinners separated from God from sin and they need salvation or they will go to hell.

Sorry folks. That’s the message, and the message is clear from Scripture and the unanimous teachings of the church from antiquity to the present day. Ralph goes on to advise how to share this message with joy and compassion–avoiding the “bull in a china shop” approach and avoiding any sense of being judgmental and un loving. There is no room for the Westboro Baptist approach, but plenty of room for a joyful, honest and firm proclamation of the faith.

Ralph’s text is completed with a short section on the Biblical Orientations for the New Evangelization by Mary Healy and Peter Williamson. This practical section considers the methods of the apostles from Scripture and show us how to get on with the work of sharing the soul saving gospel of Jesus Christ with a generation that has never been more in need of it.

As the popes from John XXIII to Francis have re-iterated time and again, the reason the church has become lax and lost its passion and fervor is because she has lost the driving fire of the Holy Spirit which empowers the missionary spirit. Ralph Martin and the team at Renewal Ministries are a key driving force of the New Evangelization. In addition to his role as founder and president of RM Ralph is also the Director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He was also appointed by Benedict XVI as a consultor to the {Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

Read Ralph! Connect with his two books on the subject here: The Urgency of the New Evangelization: Answering the Call and Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization