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Wednesday, September 26, 2007



Referring to Mark Brumley's This Rock article cited I would suggest that methodology in evangelism must necessarily be somewhat different between Evangelicals and Catholics even though we Catholics can learn a lot from them.

There are a couple of differences that affect methods;

First, if we are talking about new converts to the Catholic faith from an entirely other religion, or from no religion at all, we recognize that there is a period of catechumenate while the convert is learning and preparing for Baptism, just as there was from the earliest days of the Church. We are talking here about a serious time commitment to the catechumen on the part of the evangelist, the catechist, the clergy and the laity.
Even someone coming from a Protestant tradition must go through the RCIA process.
On the Evangelical side, the message has been distilled over time to its barest simplistic minimum and has become highly subjective, so that it is possible to do more of a hit-and-run approach to evangelism. That is not to say that Evangelicals don't concern themselves with follow-up. Most highly respected crusade-style evangelists follow Billy Graham's example in making a sincere effort to connect converts to local churches, having laid some of that ground-work prior to the crusade event. Still, we have the theological construct that allows for that kind of mass conversion to happen in the first place, wherein the object is to bring the converts to the point of saying, from the heart, the sinner's prayer, and at that point they are saved.

Which raises the second issue of "once-saved-always-saved" (or OSAS for convenience sake.) Mark Brumley mentions this common, though not universal doctrine among Evangelicals. Conversely we as Catholics understand that our free-will is never removed from us right to the day we die so that it is always possible to turn our backs on God's Grace and walk away.

Practically speaking, then, evangelization should never end for Catholics and, to be sure, many parishes have annual parish missions. But the curious and humorous reversal is that we find the Evangelicals preaching constantly, every week at least, to the converted who have eternal security under OSAS, whereas we Catholics, who believe we really are at risk, are hard-pressed to find a homily on the average Sunday with any of that urgency in it. Is that not backwards?
In any case one focus of evangelization for Catholics must always be the Baptized, for the purpose of ongoing conversion, and we could learn something there from the practices of the Evangelicals who, strangely enough, often live and act as though they don't believe in OSAS, listening to preachers, praying and studying their Bibles. On the other hand, many of us Catholics act as though we believe OSAS.

Ed Peters

Carl, vita Brumley scribenda est, sed caute et quiete ne, sciens proiectum nostrum, deleat opus honoris. Quid putas, amice?

Robert Miller

I hate to be the perennial municipal patriot, but wouldn't Louisville be a great venue for this kind of dialogue (with the presence here of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, its center of studies in Intelligent Design and its president Albert Mohler who commented so perceptively (from his point of view) on the recent CDF pronouncement)? Maybe, if the Pope visits,he could inaugurate the dialogue.


Any chance this exchange will be recorded and, perhaps, available in mp3 format?

Mark Brumley

Tom: I don't know whether it will be recorded or if it is in what form the recordings will be available.

As for Robert Miller's question: I have been to Louisville in Fall and I lived in San Diego for six years. There is no question that San Diego is the better choice--with all due respect to Louisville, Dr. Mohler and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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