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Evangelization and orthodoxy
Posted By Eric Sammons On April 22, 2010 @ 8:52 am In Evangelization | Comments Disabled
An article over at U.S Catholic  recently caught my attention. It involved an interview with Donna Freitas about being “evangelical” and Catholic, specifically as that relates to attracting young people to the Church. One of the “tips” she offers is:
3. Remember that evangelical does not equal orthodox. Many think that becoming an evangelical Catholic means embracing all of the rules and practices of traditional Catholicism. This, however, only appeals to a small subset of conservative Catholic youth, Freitas says. Orthodoxy does not appeal to the average young person as much as a youth-created culture does.
There are a number of problems with this “tip.” The first is that Freitas treats the terms “orthodox,” “traditional” and “conservative” as synonyms. But of course they are not: “orthodox” means “right belief,” and therefore it follows that the orthodox person will want to conserve a tradition only if it is true. If it is false, the orthodox believer will work to liberate us from that tradition.
Secondly, by dismissing the importance of orthodoxy, Freitas is undercutting the full power of the Gospel. When evangelizing anyone – including young people – we are not evangelizing them to rules or practices, we are evangelizing them to Jesus Christ. But the rules and practices of the Faith, developed over the centuries by the Church and lived by the Saints, have been proven to bring us closer to Christ and allow us to live the Gospel life most fully. As evangelists, we are like tour guides; we point the way to the destination, which is Jesus Christ himself. But if we don’t have a map to follow, we can’t guide anyone else to him. Thus, an embrace of orthodox Catholicism is not a matter of being “traditional” or “conservative,” it is a matter of following the best path to Jesus Christ. By withholding that from our young people, we are doing them a grave disservice.
Finally, she talks about orthodoxy not being an “appealing” message to the “average young person,” and instead we need a “youth-created culture.” The emphasis is all wrong here: it is Jesus Christ who is appealing, not our message or our culture. What we need is a Christ-centered culture, not a youth-centered one (which is what a “youth-created” culture would be). Orthodoxy is the best way to Jesus, thus it is the most appealing message and culture for those whose hearts are open to Christ.
We have seen almost fifty years of failed attempts at evangelization that involved watering down the Gospel and avoiding any taint of “orthodoxy.” It is time we as evangelical Catholics proclaimed the Gospel in all its fullness, and trust that the power of the Gospel will appeal to all whom the Father calls to Himself.
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 article over at U.S Catholic: http://www.uscatholic.org/life/2010/03/catholic-evangelical-twist
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