Monday, August 10, 2020

Should We Evangelize Protestants?

by Steve Ray on August 10, 2020

Excellent article in The Catholic Thing by Casey Chalk affirms that we SHOULD evangelize Protestants. I have always said evangelism does not stop until all Christians are eating one meal together, in one house at one table (altar). As a convert, I understand the blindness that prevails and the need to teach all of the truth, especially to our brothers and sisters out on the rafts. Bring them home to the ship, which is the fullness of the faith.

We should stop trying to evangelize Protestants, some Catholics say. “Let’s get our own house clean first, before we invite our fellow Christians in,” someone commented on a recent article of mine that presented a Catholic rejoinder to a prominent Baptist theologian. Another reader argued that, rather than trying to persuade Protestants to become Catholic, we should “help each other spread God’s love in this world that seems to be falling to pieces before our eyes.” As a convert from Protestantism, actively engaged in ecumenical dialogue, I’ve heard this kind of thinking quite frequently. And it’s dead wrong.

One common argument in favor of scrapping Catholic evangelism towards Protestants is that the Catholic Church, mired in sex-abuse and corruption scandals, liturgical abuses, heretical movements, and uneven catechesis, is such a mess that it is not, at least for the moment, a place suitable for welcoming other Christians.

There are many problems with this. For starters, when has the Church not been plagued by internal crises? In the fourth century, a majority of bishops were deceived by the Arian heresy. The medieval Church suffered under the weight of simony and a lax priesthood, as well as the Avignon Papacy and the Western Schism, culminating in three men claiming, simultaneously, to be pope. The Counter-Reformation, for all its catechetical, missionary and aesthetic glories, was still marred by corruption and heresies (Jansenism). Catholicism has never been able to escape such trials. That didn’t stop St. Martin of Tours, St. Boniface, St. Francis de Sales, St. Ignatius Loyola, or St. Teresa of Calcutta from their missionary efforts.

The “Catholics clean house” argument also undermines our own theology. Is the Eucharist the “source and summit of the Christian life,” as Lumen Gentium preaches, or not? If it is, how could we in good conscience not direct other Christians to its salvific power? Jesus Himself declared: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) Was our Lord misrepresenting the Eucharist?

Or what of the fact that most Protestant churches allow contraception, a mortal sin? Or that Protestants have no recourse to the sacraments of penance or last rites? To claim Protestants aren’t in need of these essential parts of the Catholic faith is to implicitly suggest we don’t need them either.

For the rest of the article, click HERE.

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