Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

1/16/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Some Evangelical Catholics often sound like Protestant Evangelicals, both in tone and diction -- few Catholics evangelize in a distinctively Catholic manner.

Since John Paul II there has been much discussion of "evangelizing the culture" and for Catholics to become more "evangelical" in their witness to the world.  Those Catholics who describe themselves as evangelical or are doing evangelism, often look and sound to my ears anyway, like Protestant Evangelicals with a slightly different vocabulary. To my eyes and ears, there have been few examples of a genuine integration of evangelical zeal with Catholic piety; rather, Southern Evangelicalism has been laid over the Catholic faith like peanut butter over stale bread.  That's not enough!

Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, will begin broadcasting in February on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, will begin broadcasting in February on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/16/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: culture, faith and culture, apologetics, catholic culture, cultural apologetics, politics, theatre, music, evangelization, Deal W Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - Since John Paul II there has been much discussion of "evangelizing the culture" and for Catholics to become more "evangelical" in their witness to the world.  Those Catholics who describe themselves as evangelical or are doing evangelism, often look and sound to my ears anyway, like Protestant Evangelicals with a slightly different vocabulary. To my eyes and ears, there have been few examples of a genuine integration of evangelical zeal with Catholic piety; rather, Southern Evangelicalism has been laid over the Catholic faith like peanut butter over stale bread.  That's not enough!

I don't mean to say that Catholics have failed the culture without exception. My initial impressions of Pope Francis suggest he may become our exemplary Cath-olic evangelist! But until we see Catholics develop their own evangelical message and style - think of what Archbishop Fulton Sheen did for his generation - Catholics will never have the impact on the culture proportionate to their numbers. By comparison to our Evangelical brethren, the Catholic presence in today's culture falls far short of its potential.

I've been a Catholic thirty years, since 1983. During that time I've tried to serve the Church in a variety of ways, from teaching and writing, to magazine publishing, radio, television, and political participation. The experience of doing this work has been rewarding but also disappointing.  In my conversion memoir, An American Conversion: One Man's Search for Truth and Beauty in a Time of Crisis (Crossroad 2003),  I described the freedom I had discovered in becoming a Catholic, that is, the encouragement I felt to use my gifts to engage the totality of the culture.

A small but fairly recent example -- a weekly radio show of mine on the Guadalupe Radio Network (1160 AM WMET) was canceled for including "inappropriate content," pages that I had read verbatim from my conversion memoir. The objectionable passage was about the great French Catholic writer Julian Green who I identified as a homosexual. As a result, I was then accused of promoting my own homosexual desire on Catholic radio. My wife and friends got quite a belly laugh over that one! But it's an example of a pervasive attitude among some of those who consider themselves to be Evangelical Catholics: They are on the defensive against the culture, rather than evangelizing through it.

Where does this defensiveness come from, this deep fear of being "infected" by anything that is not clearly branded "Catholic" and "orthodox?" Does the pervasive culture deserve this? Yes, but in the same way all cultures going back to Moses and the Golden Calf need to be scrutinized critically. If you read history closely you will find that the evils of our age - particularly abortion - are equaled, and usually surpassed, by the dominant cultures of earlier ages. Think of the days, not so long ago actually, when the Catholics and Protestants of Europe used their theological differences as an excuse to loot, plunder, rape, burn, torture, and kill each other for hundreds of years.

One factor creating these defensive and fearful attitudes is a lack of education, not merely of history, but of the rich traditions of Catholic art, music, literature, philosophy, and other works of reason and of the imagination. As I have said before, apologetics is not enough, we need cultural apologetics to be taught as well.

Along with the fearful defensiveness of some Evangelical Catholics, is something you will never meet in a Protestant Evangelical, grim dutifulness. This lack of vitality pervades our parish life, though there are many notable exceptions (so don't write to me about yours)!

What I mean is this: If you went back and forth between Evangelical Protestant and Catholic communities, as I often do as part of my work, one thing stands out in stark contrast -- the individual Evangelical Protestant church is more dynamic, more unified, more committed to sharing its faith, more hopeful about impacting the culture by its witness.

You don't see Evangelicals backing into parking spaces to make a quick getaway after Mass; you don't see them quick-stepping, head down into the church or ignoring everyone around them; you don't see them leaving as quickly as possible after their "obligation" has been fulfilled.  You see a community; you see friends who have gotten to know each other through the church, many of whom are making plans to spend time together outside church services.

My wife, Theresa, who is also a convert, has commented to me many times, "Catholics make it so difficult to be Catholic."  She was referring to the deadness of the liturgies, the lack of welcome, expressions of gratitude, the underlying attitude of "you're required to come to Mass or you're in mortal sin and consigned to hell." (Let me emphasize, once again, there are exceptions).

I've had this discussion with Catholic lay leaders and clergy many times in different parts of the country.  Never have I encountered more than a mild protest -- most of the time there is general agreement with the need for parish life to undergo a change in kind, not in degree. In other words, a fundamental conversion that will involve the bishop, chancery staff, clergy, religious, and most of all, the laity.

An example of someone who has integrated his Catholic faith with Evangelicalism is the prolific Matthew Kelly whose books and appearances have deservedly gained a national following. An Australian, and an excellent golfer by the way, Kelly is the kind of model of Catholic evangelization that is both distinctive and effective. But this needs to find its way into the parishes and take root there.

I will return to this theme often as we make our way through the integration and interconnections of our Church and the culture. I hope that one outcome of this series will be a richer and more effective form of Catholic evangelism, one that does not begin in a defensive posture but a posture based upon these words of our Lord, "Come unto me all ye who are weak and heavy laden, I and will give you rest."

Summary

1. The impact of Evangelicals on American culture, especially in politics, appears far greater than that of Catholics who far outnumber them.

2. Some Evangelical Catholics often sound like Protestant Evangelicals, both in tone and diction -- few Catholics evangelize in a distinctively Catholic manner.

3. If Catholics want to evangelize they should start with the parishes, with the vitality and beauty of the liturgy.

Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, will begin broadcasting in February on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

As death toll passes 2,600 U.S. lawmakers worry about spread of Ebola Watch

Image of Red Cross workers in Guinea in protective gear. Currently, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are the worst nations worst hit by the West African Ebola outbreak.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Legislators in Washington are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of Ebola and worry that it could become more contagious and potentially spread into the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - President Obama's new plan to put 3,000 U.S. ... continue reading


Obama gains support from House to further fight against ISIS Watch

Image of President Obama, with the support of the House of Representatives, may now start arming and training Syrian groups to fight the Islamic State, and will continue to strike targets in Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Barack Obama told Americans-in somewhat ambiguous terms-last week that he intended to destroy the Islamic State, as of September 17, he promised that the United States will not fight another ground war in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Values Voters: What We Can Learn from Ted Cruz Being Booed at the In Defense of Christians Conference Watch

Image of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a Gala Solidarity Dinner. Sadly, it certainly did not demonstrate solidarity between Christians. A small group in the assembly, rudely and loudly, reacted negatively to some of the words Senator Cruz spoke as he expressed his convictions concerning the persecution taking place in this land which is properly holy, precisely because of its role in God's loving plan of salvation for the whole human race.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The events of Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Inaugural In Defense of Christians Gala make abundantly clear that there is a serious and urgent need for values voters to meet and discuss the crisis in the Mideast and ways in which we can work together to ... continue reading


Our Age Need Rebels of Love: The Christian Church is the Real Counterculture Watch

Image of As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. As I studied the early Church fathers I came to understand that the true humanism is authentic Christianity, the kind professed, in word and deed, by the early Christians. As I read early Church history I was brought back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church. I came to believe that she offers the theological anthropology, ecclesiology and world view of the early fathers of the Church. I also came to believe that she was the real counterculture.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We can - we will - change the culture of the contemporary West, if we are willing to suffer, struggle and offer ourselves to the Lord for the task. His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, working through us, will accomplish what we can never accomplish on our ... continue reading


What is a Catholic Deacon? Bishop Kevin Rhoades Gives the Answer Watch

Image of The Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, presiding over the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate of six new Holy Cross Deacons

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

It is a privilege to ordain you permanent deacons.  No, I didn't make a mistake.  Don't worry: you are scheduled to be ordained priests next year by Bishop Jenky!  But what happens today in the sacrament of Orders is not something transitional; it ... continue reading


ISIS among us! New York man sought to kill Iraq war veterans Watch

Image of Mufid Elfgeeh, a 30-year-old, Yemeni born man who lived in New York, attempted to send three people to Iraq to fight for the Islamic State, and purchase firearms to kill veterans from the Iraq War.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni born food store owner in upstate New York sent funding to the Islamic State and attempted to sent three jihadists to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist cell while plotting to perpetrate attacks against American troops who had served in Iraq. LOS ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone: 16433 Children Buried in One Grave Watch

Image of Fr. Pavone prays at the graveside of the children

By Fr. Frank Pavone

For many years, this mass grave had no marker or headstone, just as the children have no names. But now there is a stone, and we are going to name the babies. Supporters of abortion do not want people to see mass graves in our midst. It's too disturbing a ... continue reading


Nice try! Democrats try to distance themselves from Obama for midterm, but it's too late! Watch

Image of Kentucky Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, seen here with a shotgun in an ad where she attempts to distance herself from the disastrous and unpopular policies of President Barack Obama.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Democratic Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, is trying her best to let Kentuckians know that she is certainly not an Obama Democrat, releasing a campaign ad where she wields a gun to prove it. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grimes' 30-second ad takes place in ... continue reading


Are terrorists invading the US through the open border with Mexico? Watch

Image of The Islamic State nay already have sympathizers and cells within the USA. The porous border does nothing to aid the situation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Americans are worried that the Islamic State will soon conduct terror attacks within the U.S., inserting agents via the porous border between the states and Mexico. At least one sheriff has told the media he received an official alert while the federal government is ... continue reading


'We'll send them to hell!' Texas sheriff declares war on Islamic State Watch

Image of Texas sheriff Gary Painter reveals that he believes the Islamic State has already infiltrated the U.S. through the porous southern border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Law enforcement agencies along the U.S.-Mexico border have received alerts to be on the lookout for terrorists from Islamic State attempting to cross into the United States, a sheriff from the region has said. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Midland County ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:12-20
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 17:1, 6-7, 8, 15
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen, Yahweh, to an upright ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:1-3
1 Now it happened that after this he made his way ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 19th, 2014 Image

St. Januarius
September 19: St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter