Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

5/2/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The fields are white unto harvest! Now we need the workers to step forward.

Through video, radio, internet, blogs, e-books and publishing on demand the world is opening up to the proclamation of the gospel as never before. What is needed now is an army of enthusiastic, well catechized, articulate and passionate missionaries--a new breed of evangelists is needed to tell the old, old story in a new way. The fields are white unto harvest! Now we need the workers to step forward.

Article Highlights

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/2/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Evangelization, mission, social gospel, witness, testimony, apologetics, convert making, preaching, Fr Dwight Longenecker


GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - I can remember the Evangelical preachers of my youth railing against the purveyors of something they disparagingly called 'the social gospel'. The 'social gospel' was the liberal form of Christianity that had substituted the 'old, old story' of mankind's sin and Christ's sacrificial redemption for a mixture of trendy causes, political activism and ministry to the poor. As far as they were concerned, a missionary's work , whether at home or abroad, was to preach the gospel. All that nonsense about building hospitals and schools and soup kitchens was just "the liberals watering down the faith yet again".

Such a view of Christian mission is a dangerously simplistic reaction to a perceived abuse. The Evangelical preachers had a point inasmuch as there was a stream of liberal Protestant Christianity that had ceased to be dogmatic in any sense, and had substituted a bland activism for Christian truth. However, abuse should not undo right use. To react against the "social gospel" by avoiding all political involvement and social ministry was a gross abdication of Christian responsibility.

I experienced this one-sided approach to evangelization within the conservative Evangelical churches of my youth, but it wasn't until I became a Catholic that I realized that the prejudice could go the other way too. If those interested in preaching the gospel of sin, redemption and resurrection were sometimes biased against the "social gospel", I have come to realize that there are many sincere people in the Catholic Church who are doing excellent work in the realm of "peace and justice issues" who are very biased against the proclamation of the Christian faith in all its fully dogmatic and difficulty glory.

They cringe at the idea that we should point out mankind's sinful condition. They regard a call for conversion as "triumphalistic", the see dogma as "divisive" or "ecumenically unwise". They wish for "interfaith dialogue" to such an extent that the whole idea of conversion becomes anathema.

The clash between these two views is sometimes expressed as the "kergymatic" versus the "koinonia". In laymen's terms it is dogmatic versus community-based evangelization. The first seeks to communicate the gospel through preaching and teaching. It summons people to consider the claims of Christ and it calls them to conversion in the widest sense. The second communicates the gospel through works of charity, a radiant example and a heart of love. It seeks to draw people to the attractive and overpowering love of Christ. 

If there is to be a New Evangelization then there is simply no room for a clash between these two emphases. We will all, by nature of our background and temperament, be drawn more to one than another, but this is no excuse to marginalize and exclude the other side. Both are needed if a balance is to be maintained and the New Evangelization to go forward apace.

A friend of mine who is best described as "Catholic lay evangelist" told me of his experience attending a conference on adult catechesis and evangelization. The conference was attended by diocesan leaders in the field.  My friend is definitely one of those involved in "kerygmatic" evangelization. He calls people to turn to Jesus, repent of their sins and welcome the fullness of the Holy Spirit into their lives.

He is also very involved in the Church's social witness and makes sure that the "koinonia" aspect of evangelization is a vital part of his own ministry and outreach. However, he expressed his shock that at the conference the whole emphasis was on "koinonia" to the exclusion of the "kerygmatic". In other words, the form was there, but the content was missing. The "social gospel" had become merely social.

If Evangelization is to move forward, then it is vital that the "social gospel" be rooted and enlivened by the solid dogmatic content of the faith. The social dimension is vital, but if the faith is no more than "making the world a better place" - then why bother to be a Christian at all? On the other hand, a gospel of sin, repentance, and forgiveness is empty if the social aspect is neglected. The African missionary sums it up when he says, "I cannot give them the bread of the Eucharist if I have not given them ordinary bread for supper."

The Catholic Church is strong on the "social" aspect of evangelization, but too often we have been weak in proclaiming the gospel of salvation. Happily, with increased access to the world through the new media all this is changing. The world of communications is going through a revolution of an importance that dwarfs the invention of the printing press.

Through the new media instant global communication is available to all. Through video, radio, internet, blogs, e-books and publishing on demand the world is opening up to the proclamation of the gospel as never before. What is needed now is an army of enthusiastic, well catechized, articulate and passionate missionaries--a new breed of evangelists is needed to tell the old, old story in a new way. The fields are white unto harvest! Now we need the workers to step forward.

-----
Fr Dwight Longenecker is starting a new evangelization project called Finding Faith. Keep up to date on his website and blog to learn more as it develops: www.dwightlongenecker.com

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Living Faith

BREAKING THE RULES or IS HE? Pope Francis washes women's feet and those of undetermined religion Watch

Image of This year, Francis arrived at a center for the disabled and elderly in Rome. Francis kneeled down, washed, dried and kissed the feet of a dozen people, some in wheelchairs, other with grossly swollen and disfigured feet.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has shown little regard for rules in regards to his papacy. The latest controversy now surrounds his washing the feet of 12 disabled and elderly people, some of who were women and non-Catholics. The pre-Easter ritual, Pope Francis is designed to show ... continue reading


'Priestly joy is a priceless treasure,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of The pope, presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If a priest wants to overcome moments of sadness, exhaustion and boredom, in addition to discovering his true identity, he must head for the exit sign, going outside himself to be with God and his people, Pope Francis said during the Chrism Mass at St. Peter's ... continue reading


Who's ready for the most historic canonization in modern history?

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Are you ready for the canonization of Pope John Paul II? Vatican officials are busy preparing for the historic canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. As they prepare, it's time for use to get ready as well. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - on April 27, a ... continue reading


Pope Francis encourages people to kiss crucifix and recite simple prayer Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is encouraging people this holy week to pick up a crucifix, kiss it and recite the simple prayer: "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord." He wishes to remind others that Christ's passion "isn't the happy ending of a beautiful fairytale, it isn't the ... continue reading


Pope Francis distributes Bibles, asks Catholics to perform acts of charity

Image of Bibles were handed out to all visitors regardless of their religious affiliation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has given out tens of thousands of Bibles to people that he hopes they will keep and use daily. The gifts were distributed in St. Peter's Square following Mass. The gifts came with one string attached however, Pope Francis asked all people to perform an ... continue reading


Pope Francis' Wild Ride - Pope takes happy kids for a spin through St. Peter's Square Watch

Image of Pope Francis kisses Livio Bastianelli and Davide Maria goodbye after their lucky ride.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis gave to kids the ride of a lifetime by inviting them for a spin in the Popemobile around St. Peter's Square. The gesture continues to cement Pope Francis as a man of the people who is most comfortable with the throngs of faithful who seek his wisdom and ... continue reading


Seminary is not for those who do not wish to 'get on with life,' Pope admonishes Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In addressing the Pontifical Leonine College of Anagni, the Pope did not mince words. Pope Francis was forthright in saying that the seminary is not a refuge for those who have "psychological problems" or lack the courage "to get on in life." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Pope Francis apologizes for abuse scandal, says Church deserves to pay Watch

Image of Pope Francis embraces a child in St. Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has made his strongest statement yet about the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis made clear that victims of abuse deserved an apology as well as compensation for what they have suffered.  He reaffirmed that the Church will be ... continue reading


Pope Francis makes special plea, but is asking us - Are you listening? Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis continues to call for aid to the poor as the holiday season ends. The Holy Father has set a goal to eradicate global hunger by distributing food more equitably around the world and he has called on all faithful Catholics to help. It's a call that can't be ... continue reading


'The Devil is here, even in the 21st century,' Pope Francis warns Watch

Image of Life is a constant battle against evil due to the presence of the devil, Pope Francis said, admitting that even he

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The devil is very much alive in the 21st Century, Pope Francis warns, and he often takes the form of gossip. The pope confessed that he himself was tempted to gossip, and the faithful need to stay on their toes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Speaking in the ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 1:1--2:2
1 In the beginning God created heaven and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11
5 My birthright, my cup is Yahweh; you, you alone, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 28:1-10
1 After the Sabbath, and towards dawn on the first ... Read More

Reading 2, Genesis 22:1-18
1 It happened some time later that God put Abraham to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 19th, 2014 Image

St. Alphege
April 19: Archbishop and "the First Martyr of Canterbury." He was born in ... 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