Forget Liberal Catholics — Convert the Evangelicals!
[Jesus] said to him, “A certain man made a great supper, and he invited many people. He sent out his servant at supper time to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, for everything is ready now.’ They all as one began to make excuses.
“The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please have me excused.’
“Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go try them out. Please have me excused.’
“Another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I can’t come.’
“That servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’
“The servant said, ‘Lord, it is done as you commanded, and there is still room.’
“The lord said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you that none of those men who were invited will taste of my supper.’”
— Luke 14:16-24
This particular passage from the New Testament is a parable Jesus used to explain what would soon happen between the Jewish leaders of his time, and the Church he was building. It’s brutal. Because the Jewish leaders refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, the Kingdom of God would soon be taken away from them. On a broader scale, the parable is talking about anybody really. We’re all invited to participate in the Kingdom of God, but when we make excuses (such as things of this life are more important) we risk being thrown out all together, and somebody else (somebody we wouldn’t expect) taking our place in the Kingdom.
Saint Paul discusses the Jewish problem in his day in the eleventh chapter of Romans, wherein he states that the Kingdom of Israel (which is the same as the “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven”) was taken away from the Jews, and given to Gentile converts, so that God might use the blessings given to the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealousy, and thus win their hearts that way. We can take Saint Paul’s mindset, along with the words of Jesus above, and apply them to today’s world as well.
In today’s world, we know what the Kingdom of Israel (aka: Kingdom of God/Heaven) is. It’s the Catholic Church. (If you need more information on this, read my essay entitled The Catholic Church is the Kingdom of Israel.) Over the last five centuries, the subjects of this Kingdom have been scattered among the nations following the Protestant Reformation. Thus, we could call the Catholic Church “Israel Proper” and Protestants we could call “Israel Diaspora.” We know this because the Catholic Church specifically teaches that all those who have been baptized in the Name of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) have received a sacramental baptism fully recognized by the Catholic Church as legitimate (see Catechism 818 & 1271). Proper Trinitarian baptism doesn’t make somebody “Catholic” but it does make them “Christian” by Catholic standards, and figuratively puts them into a position where they have one foot within the door of the Catholic Church. In other words, it wouldn’t take much to get them to enter the Catholic Church fully, if nudged and encouraged the right way. It’s important to understand this because we need to know that today’s Protestants are very closely related to Catholics (even if they don’t seem like it), and according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, they are our “brothers” and “sisters” or “separated brethren” in faith. Catholics and Protestants have a baptismal bond, that is sacramental, which unites them spiritually, whether they like it or not.
Evangelicals are Protestants who have stripped away most of their Protestant trappings and focus on the evangelium (or gospel) of the faith exclusively. When Protestantism was first formed, some five-hundred years ago, it was deeply nationalist. To be English was to be Protestant, and failure to be an English Protestant was treason. As the centuries rolled by, Protestantism became detached from nationalist identities. So to prevent Protestants from slipping back into Catholicism, a strong and enduring form of anti-Catholic conspiracies were created. Martin Luther was the first to do this back in his day. We see it carried on among various Protestant authors in the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, since the era of Billy Graham, many Protestants have left their traditional denominations, and have sought out a more generic (and less sectarian) form of Protestantism, that focuses more on the evangelium (gospel) of the Christian faith. I submit to you that this is a very, very good thing.
In Evangelicalism, we now have a form of Protestantism that is more concerned about the teachings of the Bible than the teachings of the Protestant Reformers. In Evangelicalism, we now have a form of Protestantism that is more familiar with the teachings of St. Paul than the teachings of Martin Luther and John Calvin. In Evangelicalism, we now have a form of Protestantism that is less concerned with national and denominational identities, and more concerned about just “being Christian.” I know that many Catholics have been put-off by Evangelicals, due to their occasionally aggressive manner with Catholics, but if we can look past this, what we’ll see is that this is exactly the kind of Protestantism we Catholics have been waiting five centuries for.
Evangelicals are highly receptive to Catholic thinking, provided they can just be shown that Catholic thinking and Biblical thinking are one in the same thing. I have found, from personal experience, that what keeps Evangelicals out of the Catholic Church is the following…
- 33% Ignorance of Catholic teaching
- 33% Misunderstanding of Catholic teaching
- 34% Emotional resistance to Catholicism that is completely irrational
The 33% misunderstanding of Catholic teaching, combined with the 34% emotional resistance, is the result of 500-years brainwashing left over from the Protestant Reformation. The remaining 33% ignorance of Catholic teaching is just the result of having been separated from the Catholic Church for so long.
We can get rid of the 33% ignorance, and the 33% misunderstanding through some basic apologetics and catechesis. (This blog is dedicated to that, and you can use its resources by clicking here.) The remaining 34% is completely emotional and often irrational. This comes from residual fear instilled into the hearts of Evangelicals by the remnants of good ol’ fashioned anti-Catholicism. When you tell a kid for years that the pope is the Antichrist, and the Catholic Church is the prophesied “Whore of Babylon” from the Book of Revelation, don’t be surprised when a young Evangelical has a near panic-attack upon walking into a Catholic chapel. This is what happens when you brainwash people. The solution to this problem is simple though. You help people overcome their irrational fears by desensitizing them to what they’re afraid of. In this case, the solution is to invite your Evangelical friends to Mass. Once they come, and they’ve been exposed to it for a number of times, some of that emotional resistance will soften.
In the old days, reaching out to Protestants was considerably harder. Nationalism was a huge barrier. Being of English descent meant that you were supposed to be Protestant. Only if you were of French, Spanish, Italian or Irish descent was it considered “okay” to be Catholic. German was considered pretty much a 50/50 thing. Half were Catholic, the other half were Lutheran.
None of this applies to the Evangelical world. These Evangelical Protestants are basically a blank slate. Nationality and ethnicity have no baring on what they presume to be acceptable religious affiliation. Never in five centuries have the English-speaking people been so accessible to the Catholic Church as they are today. The entire Anglosphere (UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) is now primed for Catholic evangelization, all thanks to the demographic shift toward Evangelicalism following World War II. If there is anyone in the first-world that God is calling Catholics to evangelize right now — it is English-Speaking Evangelicals. I highly recommend we start taking this seriously.
Historical and contemporary examples show that once Evangelicals actually convert to Catholicism, they’re all in. By that I mean they tend to be the most faithful to Church teaching, and they tend to be the most aggressive at evangelizing more people into the Catholic Church. The key to the Catholic Church’s survival in the English-speaking world is none other than English-speaking Evangelicals.
Now, in contrast, lets take a look at today’s liberal Catholics. They consistently reject Church teaching on sexual issues, and seem to be more interested in changing the Church than following her teachings. They want female clergy, homosexual “marriage,” along with acceptance of abortion and contraception. Their idea of being a good Catholic is mixed with political Marxism on various levels. Their idea of ecumenism is closer to syncretism. To them, a Catholic not steeped in social justice is no Catholic at all. In many ways, they are like the guests in the parable of the supper described above. They’ve been invited to partake in Christ’s kingdom, but it seems like too many have far more interesting things to do. Evangelization is not part of their thinking. The only “evangelization” they’re interested in is the social-justice-warrior (SJW) type, in which they attempt to convert the world into a social utopia wherein the poor and the needy are cared for by the state.
For years, decades even, traditional and orthodox Catholics have been trying to talk sense into liberal Catholics. They’ve been trying to restore traditions to the parishes these liberal Catholics now control. I submit to you that this is the wrong approach. Restoring tradition is good, very good, but trying to force it upon liberal parishes that don’t want it is only going to be a waste of time and energy. The supper’s guests have refused the invitation. It’s time to turn to the streets. I submit to you that traditional Catholic parishes, such as Roman Patrimony (TLM) and Anglican Patrimony (DWM) parishes, should now focus almost exclusively on bringing in the Evangelicals. Such an effort will truly solidify the future growth of traditional Catholic parishes at an incredibly fast rate.
As a footnote to this, I should point out there is no point in liberal Catholic parishes reaching out to Evangelicals. First of all, most liberal Catholic parishes have no interest in converting them in the first place. Second, Evangelicals are repulsed by the political, social and theological disposition of liberal Catholic parishes. If they wanted that, they would just go back to their liberal Protestant denominations. The only type of Catholicism that is appealing to Evangelicals is the traditional and orthodox type. Nothing else will do.