Skip to main content

Evangelical--a loaded word

Not too long ago I was engaged in some discussions about the term “Evangelical Catholic”. Those associated with groups and movements who describe themselves as “Evangelical Catholics” couldn’t understand why such language raised the hackles of many Catholics. As an explanation, consider the negative response of “Evangelical Christians” when Frank Beckwith, the president of the Evangelical Theological Society, recently came into the Catholic Church. The following response is from Dr. James White, Director of Alpha & Omega Ministries:

Let's ponder the hypothetical situation of a President of the Evangelical Theological Society converting to Roman Catholicism in the midst of his tenure. In 1998 I attended the national meeting of the ETS in Orlando, Florida. At one of the sessions some of the founding members were being asked questions about why they did certain things, why they wrote the statement of faith as they did, etc. A woman asked a question of the panel. "Why did you write 'the Bible alone' in the statement of faith?" The ETS statement of faith is very, very short. It reads:

"The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory."

Roger Nicole rose, slowly, and made his way to the podium. He looked out at the lady and said, "Because we didn't want any Roman Catholics in the group." He then turned around and went back to his seat. While most sat in stunned silence, I and a friend with me broke into wild applause. The brevity of the response, and Nicole's dead-pan look, was classic. Most looked at us like we were nuts, but we appreciated what he said. Here, one of the founding members made it clear that the ETS was founded as a Protestant organization and that primary to their own self-understanding was a belief in sola scriptura.

Anti-Catholic bias has deep roots in the evangelical sects of Protestantism. Trying to co-opt the language of these movements and imbue it with Catholic meaning seems destined to propagate confusion. Nor should there be any attempt to “re-invent” Catholicism in the Evangelical Christian model. Certainly we should evangelize. We take to heart the Great Commission:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

But we will evangelize as Catholics, always mindful that we lead others to Christ through both Scripture and Tradition.


Sir Seamus, Knight of The Round Table, said…
At the considerable risk of coming across as something other than charitable, if James White can call himself a "doctor," then I ought to be able to call myself "Sir Seamus, Knight of The Round Table."

"Doctor" James White claims to have earned both a Master's degree and his Doctorate from "Columbia Evangelical Seminary" (CES). For those that are interested, the following link will take you on a quick -- a very quick -- tour of the "campus" of CES:

Columbia Evangelical Seminary:
The Photographic Tour

"Does James White have a genuine doctorate? Here is what we know. The degree is granted by an unaccredited correspondence school. There are no set course syllabi; students write their own syllabi. CES has no library, student services or bookstore. The school has no curriculum committees and no course review procedures. There appears to have been no committee and no thesis or dissertation defense...""

Does James White Have a Genuine Doctorate?
Marybeth said…
Actually, this is one of the key issues addressed in the book "Maintenance to Mission". This isn't a book I would recommend because of the bias against many things orthodox, as well as the constant references to, and quoting of, people with questionable loyalty to the magisterium but it does address some salient points such as using the word "Evangelize". The book prefers to use "disciples" and "disciple-makers". It does stress that evangelization is one of our primary callings as Catholics but never addresses "what" we are to evangelize, just "how" we should do it.
Our Bishop has decreed that all clergy in our diocese read this book and our parish has dutifully set up a commission to examine the book in greater detail. I will stop short of saying that this commission is a total waste of time, because I do think evangelization is an important part of our Catholic identity. However, without real education and proper formation, I don't see how we can effectively evangelize anyone.
uhmm - *embarrassed grin* - I'll get off my soapbox now....

Popular posts from this blog

Parent Letter from a Catechist

I am going to be teaching seventh grade CCD this year. We do most of the preparation for confirmation during this year since Confirmation is usually scheduled for the fall of the eighth grade year.I have composed a letter to the parents to try and keep them active in their children's religious education. I thought I would post it here and get your feedback before I send it out in a couple of weeks.

I am privileged to be your child’s seventh grade CCD teacher for the 2006-2007 school year. This is a very important year. We will focus on your child’s preparation for confirmation. Of course, you have already been preparing your child for this sacrament for many years. You are the primary catechist for your child. You show how important your Faith is by making Mass attendance a top priority and by family prayer.

Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation. It is a beginning. It is not a graduation. This year we will work to solidify the foundation of your child’s Catholic Faith.…

United Breaks Guitars

This guy is really talented and what a creative way to get your message across. I think he captured the "indifferent employee" perfectly. They don't just work for airlines. I think I ran into them at Walmart on Friday!

Dispelling the Myth of the Travel Dispensation

One of the fun things about having a site meter on my blog is I can see which posts garner the most attention. I can also see how people find my blog. One of the most read posts from my two years of blogging is this one that discusses finding Mass while traveling. I would like to think this post is so popular because it is so well written. The truth of the matter is that it generates so much traffic because I use the words “travel dispensation for Mass”—as in “There is no such thing as a travel dispensation for Mass.” I would guess that nearly a dozen times every week, someone googles “travel dispensation for Mass” and finds my blog. I wonder how many of these folks are poor souls trying to assuage their Catholic guilt with evidence of a justification for missing Mass while on the road.

I know that when I tell my seventh grade CCD students that attending Mass every Sunday is a commandment (one of the top ten!) and not just a pretty good idea they are amazed. Missing Mass has become so …