Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

5/2/2012 (2 years 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.

Highlights

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/2/2012 (2 years 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: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Living Faith

Andrew M. Greenwell: St. Bonaventure and the Fear of the Lord Watch

Image of You want God's mercy?  Here is St. Bonaventure's advice: avoid sin and develop a healthy fear of the Lord.- Andrew Greenwell

By Andrew M. Greenwell

The Church teaches that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given us as part of sanctifying or habitual grace.  If we are in a state of grace, these gifts are present.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit are similar to supernaturally-infused virtues in that they ... continue reading


The forgotten plight of Native Americans

Image of

By Tony Magliano

When it comes to the harsh difficulties many Native Americans face every day, the saying "out of sight, out mind" hits home. Many people have only a vague sense of the serious past and present injustices suffered by Native Americans.From the very beginning, starting ... continue reading


Mustard Seed Faith and Living as a Christian in the Real World Watch

Image of The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened. (Matt. 13: 31 - 33)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

All the images Jesus uses in these parables concern the spreading of the kingdom or reign of God. They are meant to bring home the new reality that comes when we choose to live our call to discipleship and truly begin to cooperate with grace in our daily lives. ... continue reading


VATICAN HELPS THE HOMELESS, plans to provide free showers, haircuts and shaves near St. Peter's Square Watch

Image of Rome's homeless can receive free haircuts, shaves and showers beginning February 16.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican will begin providing homeless people in Rome a place to not only shower, but to also receive haircuts and shaves starting next month, according to Pope Francis' charity office. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - St Peter's Square will open with the ... continue reading


Play with your children, Pope Francis commands fathers Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While some of his comments have provoked controversy, Pope Francis in a private audience this week said something that very few people would argue with. The Pope commanded that all fathers take time to play with their children - and not be so absorbed with work ... continue reading


Archbishop reprimands Catholic lawmaker, says no true Catholic can dissent from church teaching on abortion Watch

Image of Archbishop Cordileone said in a written statement, that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a press conference on January 22 at the Capitol, was asked twice whether an unborn child 20 weeks into pregnancy is a human being. Pelosi finally replied that a woman has "the right" to abort her child. Archbishop ... continue reading


Religious persecution uniting Christians worldwide in 'Ecumenism of blood,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"In this moment of prayer for unity, I would also like to remember our martyrs, the martyrs of today," Pope Francis said as he was speaking to members of a number of Christian Churches. Gathered in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls this past weekend, ... continue reading


Andrew M. Greenwell: Jesus is the Heart and the Marvel of the Gospel Watch

Image of Since the incarnation of the Word, the

By Andrew M. Greenwell

If pursued, and pursued rightly (that is, without moral or intellectual prejudice), metaphysics leads us to a threshold, a threshold we might call the limina fidei, the threshold of faith.  Reason takes us to a place where we know God--that He is.  But ... continue reading


Who Are My Mother and Brothers? We are the Family of Jesus Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Through our Baptism, we are invited into the very family of God. When we choose to respond to grace and live in obedience to the will and the Word of God; we enter into an eternal relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We actually become a part of ... continue reading


St Francis DeSales Challenges Us to Live a Life of True Devotion Watch

Image of Today in our Liturgical calendar in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we remember St Francis DeSales (1567-1610). The Saints are all given as examples to emulate. They are our companions on the journey, men and women like us who responded to God's invitation to become like Jesus. They pray for us because we are joined with them in the eternal communion of love. They also put legs on the Gospel, showing us what holiness looks like.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of ... 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, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
1 Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope ... Read More

Psalm, Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
69 and he has established for us a saving power in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:35-41
35 With the coming of evening that same day, he said ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 31st, 2015 Image

St. John Bosco
January 31: What do dreams have to with prayer? Aren't they just random ... 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