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Though, as with any high-church Protestant, conversion to Roman Catholicism is always in the back of my mind, I have really come just short of sticking my toe in the Tiber only twice. Both times I was deterred by the unscheduled absence of a priest from his office, once in Boston and once in Washington; crestfallen, a good night’s sleep was enough to put the idea out of mind. But coming to that point meant leaping over a hundred roadblocks that, ultimately, prove themselves the greatest obstacles to any would-be convert: I mean, of course, Roman Catholics.

Now before we get off on the wrong foot, I do not say that because I believe Protestants are on the whole more affable than Catholics, or because I resent those Catholics I have encountered in spiritual dialogue. On the contrary: what I want is mainly to shed some of my own insight onto what G. K. Chesterton meant when he said, “There is many a convert who has reached a stage at which no word from any Protestant or pagan could any longer hold him back. Only the word of a Catholic can keep him from Catholicism.” Indeed, I have met many a Catholic who seem not to like converts —who are frustrated and dismayed upon discovering a creature to whom the complete and magisterial truth of Rome is not entirely evident at first glance. This is, of course, not always the case: I have also encountered any number of youth evangelism groups who entice students with pizza and ice cream and (I am sorry to say) flirtation, and do not get around to the religion bit until one’s thoroughly stuffed and head-over-heels in love. But that is a matter, perhaps, for another essay.

What I would like to offer my Catholic friends is a guide to the behaviors and approaches to evangelism that I have found deeply off-putting. Why? Because I believe in religious dialogue for its own sake. I am a Victorian: I reject the persecutionism of the Elizabethans and the ecumenism of the Postmoderns. I believe in, proverbially, burning one another at the stake and then sharing a few pints down at the pub. I believe in loving accusations of heresy. I believe either the Reformed or the Counter-Reformed faith is true, and I do not want to adhere to the wrong one only because my opponent’s skewering me the wrong way. I believe this is a war in which we should arm our enemies to the teeth and say, “May the best Man win,” because we know He will.

So, here are my recommendations to my Roman Catholic brethren, who may freely disregard what I say if they find it offensive:

1) Don’t attack the Reformers.

This is a fallacy tantamount to the ad hominem and as likely to backfire on the Catholic as any ad hominem would.


The burning of John Hus

The truth of the matter is that Protestants today generally do not care very much about John Calvin and Martin Luther and Henry VIII. Most Calvinists accept that Calvin was a rather nasty character, that Luther had a rather disagreeable fetish of some sort, and that Henry VIII was a tyrant. But if you would like to see an otherwise-indifferent Protestant defend his Founding Reformer, make that man’s personal shortcomings the crux of your argument against the other fellow’s faith. A moderately well-versed Protestant will be able to give at least a remedial defense of his respective Reformer’s character—but the conversation (and thus the conversion) will perish there.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that it is a poor debating style. As I said, it is a particularly revolting fallacy to attack a thought on account of the thinker. We can find any number of great and gruesome men on both sides of the Reformation, and the sorry (or perhaps glorious) fact is that any number of rascals and miscreants have lived and died within the true faith —whatever that is. It’s no use dismissing the Calvinist because you don’t like Calvin anymore than it would be to dismiss Platonism because you do not think highly of Plato.

The second and more important reason is that it makes the Protestant feel as though his ideas are not being taken seriously. Of course he does not believe in Calvinism by force of Calvin’s personality. If he is a good Calvinist (that is, a Calvinist worth arguing with), he has read the Institutes of the Christian Religion and been convinced by Reformed Christianity in its own right. Attacking his chief Reformer shows that you do not take the conversant Protestant’s own convictions and arguments seriously. And perhaps you do not; but do not applaud yourself as doing any service to the Catholic faith by hardening a man against it for the sake of getting a rise out of an opponent. Dismissing the Calvinist because you are not overly fond of Calvin is the easiest way of being thrown out of his heart and slamming shut the doors of his mind.

2) Don’t argue from the Church’s authority.


Pope Leo X

The most tiresome and unconvincing argument a Protestant encounters from Catholics is that Christ founded one Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and so all others are in error. That is not an argument—it is a doctrine. I know this point is apt to inflame Catholic ire, but again, no man has ever been convinced by the circular logic of, “Christ founded the Catholic Church; therefore, the Catholic Church is true. How do I know Christ founded the Catholic Church? Because the Catholic Church said so.” I am sympathetic to the Roman Catholic reading of Church history, but one must understand that Protestants believe the Church fell into error, namely the errors of idolatry and authoritarianism. Explain the Catholic reading of history, which has tremendous merit in its own right. Do not simply assault him with it.

Put it another way. However true you might feel it to be, no Protestant is receptive to being bludgeoned over the head with extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation) and Roma locuta, causa finita (Rome has spoken the debate has ended). This is the fallacy of argument from authority—which is not to say that the authority is not real, but a man unconvinced by an authority will not take that authority at its word. Argue for the authority of the Magisterium, not from them. Everything else will fall into place.

3) Give the Protestant credit whenever you can. 

Holy_Orders_PictureOne of the reasons so many Anglo-Catholic priests have hesitated to convert to Roman Catholicism is that they see the need to take new Holy Orders as a mark that their years as an Anglican clergyman were meaningless. Of course this is not true—at the very least, the pastoral care they offered to their flock was invaluable—but, valid or not, it is an understandable reservation. The Roman Catholic Church now acknowledges very clearly that a man may vividly encounter the Divine without ever having belonged to the Church. Whether this is sufficient for salvation is another matter, but there is no doubt that men can know God to a great extent without Sacramental intermediaries. Let it suffice to say by way of example that any man can pray, which is no small feat. Indeed, it is one of the greatest and most astounding feats of which man is capable.

None of us like to have our religious experiences trivialized. It is difficult to know where to draw the line; of course a Catholic is not allowed to admit the validity of Protestant sacraments, and only a petulant Protestant will demand he do so. But according to the Roman Catholic faith, God hears a Protestant’s prayers and He touches a Protestant’s heart; indeed, He loves a Protestant as much as He loves a Catholic. The same is true in the Protestant faiths regarding Catholics. It is tantamount that this be borne in mind when dialoging with a Protestant, not only because it is objectively true, but because it is the personal truth Protestants cherish most.

4) Be a robust Catholic. 

This is essentially the flip-side of the third point. I have seen dozens of conversions die at the altar of a Novus Ordo Mass, and that is not a coincidence. Many well-meaning Catholics believe that introducing a Protestant to the Roman Catholic Church by way of the Novus Ordo will give them something to which to relate. The problem is that Catholics have never managed to out-Protestant Protestantism. Praise bands, however unseemly, are always better at Protestant churches than they are at Catholic ones; Protestants incorporate multimedia better than Catholics do, etc. There are two reasons for this: the first being that Protestants have been doing it for longer; and the second being that the sacramental Catholic faith—which must still follow the basic frame of the Missal—does not lend itself well to the free-flowing style of Protestant worship out of which praise bands and the like emerged.

traditional-latin-mass_jimIf a Protestant is going to become a Catholic, nine times out of ten they are going to become a traditional Catholic—vernacular, if not Latin Massers. We can speculate on the reasons but it is, in my experience, a fact.

If I may speculate, I would say this: the most novus variations of the Novus Ordo were instituted to keep Catholics in the Church and bring apostates home; the needs of converts were given little consideration. And I say this because those who come to the Catholic Church are generally escaping the merely modern for the ancient, the enduring, and the everlasting. They do not want worship that reflects the current mood: they want worship instituted for all men and for all times. And if they are convinced of Catholicism, the sacramental aspect (if that is the right word) of the Mass will be dearer to them than life itself. To say the obvious thing, it is impossible to convert to Catholicism without being converted to the Sacraments; and it is impossible to be converted to the Sacraments without being converted to Sacramentalism—to reverence and adoration for the Body of Christ made manifest.

I say all of this, again, for not reason other than to help Catholic evangelists understand the Protestant mindset, which a “cradle Catholic” could not reasonably be expected to understand. Chesterton makes this abundantly clear in The Catholic Church and Conversion, as does Hillaire Belloc in his introduction to the same. So often converts make the best evangelists for this reason. We notice that Chesterton—like C. S. Lewis with Christianity more broadly—does not frighten or condescend to his audience. Nor, as it happens, does God.

So I would like it very much if any Catholics found this little essay at all helpful in their dealings with Protestants, and to close I say very sincerely, may the best man win.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

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21 replies to this post
  1. The primary reason for not trying ad hominem attacks on the Reformers is that the Catholic church’s personnel has a vastly worse record in every area in which criticism can be levelled at Protestant leaders.

  2. Talk about a hot topic!

    Without delving into a lot of theology right now, let me mention something along these lines. I converted from Judaism to evangelical Christianity while in college. My friends were chiefly Catholic, and didn’t even pretend to lead holy lives. They were happy for me, they were intrigued, and they asked questions. They were, to put it simply, fun to be around.

    Years later, I would run into Calvinism full-force. People would get angry at me for stating that I made a conscious, logical, calculated, analytical decision for the gospel while in my unregenerate state. That upsets some of today’s Calvinists, because it goes against their doctrine. They can see that mine is not a false conversion, so they can’t just tell me that it never happened. If I got saved the way I say I did, then they have a doctrinal problem, and rather than consider that, they might lash out at me and try to convince me that they know more about how I got saved than I do. This is not true of all Calvinists, of course. But I dare say that they, like so many of us, are parroting some dogmatic theology that others came up with, and I don’t mean the apostles.

    I have also debated Catholics on a couple of amazon book sites, which I really don’t like to do any more. Catholics are nicer. Even the hard-core Catholic doesn’t make me feel like I’m at the stake with someone lighting the fire on the wood under my feet. I could almost smell the smoke of the fire being lit at the stake while debating a Calvinist friend of mine on Facebook years ago.

    I teach at a (Protestant) Christian school. I’ve discussed Catholic doctrine with a Catholic teacher there who recently left for another position. It was never a debate. I listened to a person who was not trying at all to convert me to Catholicism, but who was certainly not going to convert to Protestantism. Although she never asked me to do this, I went to a couple of Catholic services, so that I would not be forming opinions out of ignorance, or strictly by what Catholic-bashers were telling me. We would all do well to come across a bit nicer than some of us do, and that includes non-Calvinist evangelicals.

  3. Most excellent read, but… I am a cradle Catholic who wandered far and wide, from attempted agnosticism to the most unyielding of Protestantism (which I define as Wisconsin Synod Lutheranism; ymmv) and have slowly moved toward the conclusion that the Roman Catholic Church uniquely has adult leadership. At least I was feeling that way until the current Pope, with his artless forays into blatantly political matters, cut the ground out from under this evangelist-from-the-outside. (If the Pope actually made a public proclamation about the state of another man’s heart,which I find unlikely, strident reporting notwithstanding, he did far worse than that. I realize that no man, not even the Pope is the Church, but I must say that the Lord works in weird ways sometimes.) What bothers me is that Christians of any stripe should be fishing in ponds containing different varieties of the same species as themselves. Although I understand that the advice in the article could be taken as “do no harm,” how about five points for the conversion of secular humanists? Or Muslims? Or most poignantly, unformed youth trending in either of the latter directions? For it may be easier to modify something already there, it is far more important to instill the right thing where there is nothing. Or worse.

  4. I agree with the advice, and I am a Roman Catholic. But I was taken aback when you said this:
    ” I have met many a Catholic who seem not to like converts…”

    I have never in my life ran into a cradle Catholic or an established convert to Catholicism that did not like converts. Converts bring energy and passion and a fresh way of looking at things. We welcome every single one. God bless you on your journey.

  5. Brilliant little article. As a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic who has pondered what life would be like across the Tiber, I came to realize my romance with Rome is with Rome as she was in some misty past. The current incarnation is not a little troubling, and what baggage I would supposedly give up to for entering officialized fellowship with the Bishop of Rome means I inherit a whole slew of new luggage. No thank you. The Prayer Book tradition, our venerable formularies, divines, poets, and scholars — they all have Mere Christianity at the core, and very well at that.

    Having said that, I am always interested in rational theological debate with Catholics who don’t feel like they have to defend Rome at the expense of historical integrity. I’ve met quite a few splendid fellows, and some have inspired me to seriously consider conversion. I covet those friendships.

  6. Thank you for this. In my years as a Catholic among Evangelicals at our local homeschool group, I learned many of these things firsthand. One thing struck me, though, and this may have to do with the particular group I encountered: Many very earnest and devout Protestants (outside academic circles) do not seem to have much historical education except the tired old propaganda from the English reformation — e.g., Catholics worship statues, they think the pope is sinless, they think Christ is re-sacrificed in the Mass, etc. Realizing that much of these good people’s animosity came from wrong information rather than ill will helped me a lot.

    These Bible-believing Protestant ladies put me and my whole circle to shame with their faith and love of Scripture. They have been role models in ways that, unfortunately, we often lack in the typical American parish.

    • “These Bible-believing Protestant ladies put me and my whole circle to shame with their faith and love of Scripture,” Maybe it’s because modern evangelical Protestantism emphasizes a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ first and foremost, and the relationship with the church second. I’ve had contact with Catholic theology, and it appears at times that Catholics emphasize their relationship to the Church first. So while we Protestants emphasize faith and Scripture, Catholics emphasize Church and sacraments.

      I always try to learn from those who believe their faith. I’d rather learn Catholicism from a Catholic who really believes it than from someone trying to attack it. That “tired old propaganda from the English reformation” is typically reinforced by those outside the Catholic Church. I get sick of hearing how the Catholic Church is the great whore of Babylon or however that goes. And I, a graduate of a low-level Bible school (and real universities later on), have become so frustrated about things like our own lack of knowledge of church history and the linguistic, cultural, and historical context of the Bible, that my newsletters have seemed obnoxious enough for me to stop sending them out and catch my breath. My belief is that we should, time permitting, learn the basics of the whole spectrum of Judeo-Christian thought, even if we don’t believe every doctrine presented by different groups. There are relationships between the different branches of Christianity to each other and to Judaism. And we as any type of Christian should know both church history and Jewish history, some of the latter of which forms more of a basis for New Testament background and even interpretation than most of us realize.

  7. It may not be a directly relevant response to this article, but one of the difficulties of converting from Protestantism ,at least in most forms,to Catholicism is the marked loss of community. When one joins ,or even attends, a Protestant church one often finds a sense of fellowship that is second to none in our increasingly atomized society. Individuals in these churches truly do bear each others burdens (this is especially true of the much maligned evangelicals).
    Nothing comparable exists in most Catholic parishes. The late William F. Buckely ,himself a devout Catholic, once wrote that the reason Catholics come together to receive the Mass is for the convenience of the priest. The parishioners are there to receive the sacraments ,no small matters, not have a group worship experience. For many ,particularly those from fellowship rich traditions, Catholicism ,at least initially, can seem cold and lonely.

    • There’s some truth in that Catholics are less social, but not entirely. At my parish there are many events that come up to socialize. The difference is that they are after church, such as evenings and mid week. It’s just different and you have to seek them out. They are there in the weekly parish builtin. And then there are many events at the diocese level.

    • To previous comments by Howard Merken and Manny, I add the suggestion that the underlying variable is the percentage of members born to the species and, secondarily, size. My experience is that old, established, and generally large Protestant churches (speaking specifically of various Presbyterian outlets, a denomination toward which I have leaned for (in general) quality of preaching and of music) can be every bit as cold as many Catholic churches. In smaller churches, the “stranger in our midst” is easily recognized and will almost always receive positive attention. (For this reason, some outlets restrict their size, often by dividing rather than expanding.) In larger churches, unless there is an explicit and well-organized effort, not so much. And when a preponderance of attendees are there (only a slight exaggeration) because they feel that they must be, well, also not so much.

      I submit that he megachurches, which manage to be not only welcoming but borderline consuming, size and lack of born-in-the-pew membership notwithstanding, are a challenge analogous to that which I see in contemporary music: the shift in focus from the composer to the performer.

  8. The issue of “cold” Catholicism versus “warm Protestantism goes well beyond the initial welcoming stage. In Protestant ,particularly Evangelical, churches, one can encounters opportunities to study, serve, and socialize (I apologize for the alliteration- it wasn’t intentional). Manny is correct that some of this may exist in Catholic parishes, but on a much smaller and less enthusiastic scale (forgive the generalization).
    I am skeptical of the entire mega-church phenomenon on any number of grounds. Yet, my understanding is that these churches offer a plethora of small groups, designed to fit a variety of interests, talents, and demographics. These groups meet weekly or even more often, so as to be an integral part of their members lives. This prevents folks from getting lost in the shuffle of the larger congregation. Once again, Catholic parishes offer little that is comparable.

    • Megachurches are like universities, where you can pick your major and to some extent your classes. A megachurch has services in the sanctuary, but also several Sunday school classes, divided by age, topic, and even status in life. There might be classes for teenagers, other classes for 50’s-60’s, and another set of choices for 70’s-80’s. I’ve even read of a class for divorced people. That is part of the attraction for a megachurch. And yes, you really do get to know people through small groups, even if you feel lost in the crowd during a service with thousands in the sanctuary.

      One aspect of Catholicism that I really admire as an educator is how well Catholics teach. While in a dark hour of teaching in Christian schools, which often have serious issues due to the principle of “partnering with the parents”, I thought of my childhood. The best instructors, be they in school, sports, or summer camp, were Catholics! To give you an idea of the populace in which I grew up, my home town is about one third each of Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant, and surrounding towns also have large numbers of each.

      Why are Catholics so good at teaching, so organized? Talks several months ago with a Catholic co-worker (teacher) might have revealed why. She told me that a Catholic takes classes before being allowed to take communion. You Protestants just take the cracker and grape juice, she told me. Confirmation requires classes. She has two daughters, one of which was going through one of these classes. If her daughter missed a class, she’d have to take them all again. That’s right, miss a class she had also told me in a previous talk, and you’ve got to take them all again.

      This approach to religion could easily turn off a Protestant, who would likely go to the Bible and see this take-a-class approach missing from the Bible. But I wonder if that’s why the best summer camps, public school gym classes, football programs, and the like, were run by Catholics. It could also be that some of these people had gone to the old-time no-nonsense Catholic parochial schools taught rather strictly by nuns who hit your knuckles with a ruler, and taught so well. See John Taylor Gatto’s “The Underground History of American Education” for a look at what a Catholic boarding school was like, probably in the 1940’s. Catholic churches today have a class for communion and a class for confirmation, whereas megachurches have a pick-and-choose approach which gives Protestants more choice in the matter.

      Maybe that has something to do with a really good and very controversial gym teacher I had in junior and senior high school, whom I met again several times later. While jogging in my early 30’s, I spoke to him. He didn’t like the “pick-and-choose”, as he called it, that gym had become, because of those “damned liberals”. This was a tough guy whom parents tried for decades to get rid of, and eventually, and stupidly in my not-so-humble opinion, did. Yet he didn’t just have us do exercises or play games, he taught us why we were doing things. He had a reputation for this sort of thing, such as explaining to his own kids outside his house certain things about sports.

      And perhaps this all reflects different approaches to religion. The Catholic approach is a rather educational approach, a tougher approach so to speak, with much knowledge being passed down. The Protestant approach, at least today, seems more based on choice, with more personal and ecclesiastical freedom, allowing for a lot of crackpot personalities in the pulpits and even church-run university positions. And here we see that it’s not just doctrine that separates these forms of Christianity, but also approaches to spirituality.

  9. I agree with your criticism of Protestantism, but I thing you give the Catholic Church way to much credit. I took an RCIA class a few years ago. The course was anything but rigorous. With the exception of myself and one other attendee, the participants were becoming Catholic not out of belief, but to appease a current or potential spouse. The instructor seemed embarrassed by the doctrine of Transubstanation. Evangelicals ,while not always being any great shakes intellectually, take their doctrines far more seriously.
    Eastern orthodoxy seems to be the demanding of all the current forms of Christina expression (I confess too demanding for me at this point in my life). They have managed to avoid both consumerism of the megachurch and the cafeteria quality of much of Roman Catholicism.

    • “Evangelicals ,while not always being any great shakes intellectually, take their doctrines far more seriously.” Boy, does THAT open up a can of worms.

      Evangelicals are typically evangelicals because they WANT to be. Want more evangelicals? Then win them through evangelism.

      Now compare this to Catholicism. It’s like my US citizenship, you’re born and baptized a Catholic, and you stay a Catholic, whether you attend church as an adult or now.

      Now intellectually? I’ve had my problems there. Never mind that Paul had both Greco-Roman education and Jewish education, in some circles, ignorance is a sign of spirituality. I’ve left two movements because of issues like this. I’m not talking intellectual pride, but with the New Testament quoting not only the Old, but also the Pseudepigrapha and the Greek philosophers, and perhaps alluding to the Apocrypha, why do we ignore the historical, linguistic, and cultural context of both Testaments? Such study strengthens my faith and introduces neither doubt nor liberalism into my mind, yet some churches, generally those pastored by the undereducated (and one who only graduates a low-level Bible school is probably undereducated in a free country such as ours), can’t seem to handle anything outside their denominational mantras.

    • Another issue is that even Catholic priests do not always agree with Catholic doctrine. The worst I heard of was a Catholic priest who was a Buddhist. There’s a problem getting priests when celibacy is a requirement, and liberalism is no longer restricted to old line Protestant denominations.

  10. By the way, let me add that I enjoy these conversations. They’re civil. Now if only politicians could get the hang of this…

  11. It’s nice to read that this essay evoked and emoted a strong, varied, collegial and, except for a few, my now non- collegial response.

    In my 65 yr. long cradle-Catholic experience, more than ever, I recognize that the intentional acts of evangelism in the Protestant Christian faith, its deepest core of identity, is witnessed from a palpably stronger manifestation and understanding of “relationship” than the vast majority of Roman Catholics.

    With authentic Evangelical Protestants, a primary relationship with self, others, investing and entering into community, the very sacredness of mingling and sharing together IS Eucharist!

    With Roman Catholics, the personal relationship, the often neglected presence and personhood of Jesus is often lost, forgotten, un-examined or even dismissed as not historical or theological enough. We, as Catholic, have all the sacred symbols, tokens, images, art, music and canonical texs that point the way toward this Christos.

    Yet, so often, I perceive that these same hyper-parochial folks have far more of a trenchent fixed attitude or position with the habits themselves, yes, of comforting ritual and inspired liturgical ceremony, bur more, the habit of ritual and the ritual of habit, for its own sake. This has been a long-held observation, a grief-observed, not a critique of who is or isn’t evangelizing enough in their Christian faith.

    For me, a faith that is real is self-embodied in deeply personal and psychic-spiritual relational ways. It beckons us to continue on in the ‘Christ-heart of the matter,’ places and spaces where we might meet the few or the many who are marked with the same fragile imprimatur, or the processional communion of saints.

    As an examined American Catholic, I give due respect to Rome, but Rome is not where my Christ-heart beats, nor is it where it leads, except for the early catechumens, who exiled from the Palestine birthplace of Jesus. This ‘outs me’ to say that I am not all that impressed or interested in ‘succession,’ as all homo-sapien tribal thinking invests itself in. Succession doesn’t make my heart beat faster or stronger, but the sacrificial investments in my deepest relatiionships do!

    The prophetically misunderstood Romano Guardini said it best for what this Relationship means for us in the early 21st century:

    “Loneliness in faith will be terrible. Love will disappear from the face of the public world, but the more precious will that love be wihcih flows from one lonely person to another, involving a courage of the heart born from the immediacy of the love of God, as it is known in Jesus Christ.”

  12. There’s one more thing I’d like to say here. This article reminds me of a pamphlet on Jewish evangelism that I read ages ago. Concede when it comes to Christian anti-Semitism, for example, for horrendous acts really have been done by “Christians” against Jews. In other words, don’t try to win an argument by overwhelming people with how you are right. “Don’t attack the Reformers” and “Give the Protestant credit whenever you can” correlate with the pamphlet. And maybe we can all learn from this. There are bad things that any group has done; I can get as peeved with my own evangelical peers as with others not in our camp. Probably every major group has had their share of scandals, and we all face the temptation of repeating our denominational mantras and treating theology like a football game, our team must beat your team.

    Remember that Vatican II changed Jewish-Catholic relations. The word of God does not change, but our denominational paradigms can. Years ago, I read the complaint some woman had about “guitar-strumming Protestantizing elements” in the Catholic Church. I’m getting to appreciate tradition as we now go to a church with hymnals, and the liturgical year and the colors to match; the services seem “nicer” to my wife and me than those in more contemporary settings. But we must remember the fundamentals of our faith, and understand that Jesus Christ walked around during His ministry, and looked so much like everybody else that it took a bona fide traitor to point him out to those arresting Him.

  13. I am also enjoying these conversations, and I hope the can of worms I opened was THAT big. I was just watching a clip of Roussas Rushdoony on “spiritual autism”. I have no truck with Rushdoony’s views on theocracy, but he was making a profound point. Much ,if not most, of what passes for worship in our society is very individually centered. People ,Catholic and Protestant, go to church to get their needs met, not to serve God and their fellow man (Rushdoony contended that this “autism” also greatly influences our politics where the ultimate question the electorate poses the representative is “What have you done for me lately?”).
    Perhaps we need to move away from focusing on our own “stories” and “testimonies”. C.S. Lewis said that when one engages in true Christian worship two possibilities present themselves. The first is to focus on how small you are in comparison to God. The second is two forget yourself altogether. Lewis found the latter to be preferable.

  14. I don’t like the kind of really preachy evangelism that is akin to say Southern Baptists or whoever.
    I think the best form of Evangelism simply bearing witness to a Holy Place like just doing the sign of the cross when you pass a Church or a cemetery. Be Holy and seek the Truth.
    Nothing less.

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