Six Cultural Trends That Challenge The Modern Evangelizer

By Msgr Charles Pope

It is critical for us who would preach the Gospel to ponder what sorts of presuppositions our listeners bring to the conversation. Today, sadly, there are many trends that have poisoned the culture and thus make our task much more difficult.

But difficult does not mean impossible. It helps to describe modern mindsets, not to despair of them, but rather to look at them with some insight rather than being only vaguely aware of them. If we are more clear on the presuppositions that people bring to the table, we can better direct our message to them and ask them to consider whether or not these notions are helpful or even right. For indeed, most people carry their preconceptions subconsciously. Bringing them to light can act as a kind of medicine or solvent, which will assist us in clearing the thorns so that the seeds of truth can be sown.

I list here six presuppositions; I’ve tried to avoid an overly philosophical analysis, instead using a more descriptive approach. The first few may be familiar to you, but the last three are less often discussed. Feel free to add to this list in the comments box. I will discuss a few other presuppositions in tomorrow’s post.

I. Secularism – The word “secular” comes from the Latin saecula, which is translated as “world,” but can also be understood to refer to the age or times in which we live. Secularism is excessive concern about the things of this world and the times in which we live to the exclusion of the values and virtues of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.

Hostile – It is not merely a matter of preoccupation with the world, but often of outright hostility to things outside the saecula (world or age). Spiritual matters are often dismissed by the worldly as irrelevant, naïve, hostile, and divisive. Secularism is an attitude that demands all attention be devoted to the world and its priorities.

Misplaced Priorities – Secularism also causes those who adopt it to put their faith beneath worldly priorities and views. In this climate, many are far more passionate about and dedicated to their politics than to their faith. Their faith is “tucked under” their political views and made to conform to them. It should be the opposite—political views should be subordinate to faith. The Gospel should trump our politics, our worldview, our opinions, and all worldly influences. Faith should be the doorkeeper. Everything should be seen in the light of faith. Secularism reverses all this and demands to trump the truths of faith.

Secularism is the error through which one insists that faith give way when it opposes worldly ways of thinking or worldly priorities. If faith gets in the way of career, guess which one gives? If faith forbids me from doing what I please and what the world affirms, guess which one gives way? The spirit of the world often sees the truths of faith as unreasonable and unrealistic, and demands that they give way, either by compromise or a complete setting aside of faith.

As people of faith, we should put the world and its values on trial. Secularism instead puts the faith on trial and demands it conform to worldly thinking and priorities.

Secularism also increasingly demands that faith be privatized. Faith is to have no place in the public square of ideas or values. If Karl Marx said it, that’s fine, but if Jesus said it, it has to go. Every other interest group can claim a place in the public square, in the public schools, etc. But the Christian faith has no place. Yes, God has to go. Secularism in its “purest” form demands a faith-free, God-free world. Jesus promised that the world would hate us as it hated Him. This remains true, and secularism describes the rising tendency for the world to get its way.

To make this world our priority and to let it overrule our faith is to board a sinking ship with no lifeboats. With secularism, our loyalty is primarily to the world. This amounts to “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” If the world is really all that matters then we are the most pitiable of men, for everything we value is doomed and already passing away.

II. Materialism – Most people think of materialism as the tendency to acquire and need lots of material things. It includes this, but true materialism goes far deeper. In effect, materialism is the error that insists that physical matter is the only thing that is real. Materialism holds that only those things that can be weighed on a scale, seen in a microscope, or empirically experienced (through the five senses) are real. The modern error of scientism, which insists that nothing outside the world of the physical sciences exists, flows from materialism. (You can read more on that HERE.)

In effect, materialism says that matter is all that “matters.” The spiritual is either non-existent or irrelevant to the materialist. This of course leads to the tendency to acquire things and neglect the spiritual. If matter is all that really matters, then we will tend to want large amounts of it. Bigger houses, more things, and more creature comforts are amassed in order to give meaning and satisfaction.

In the end, however, it is a cruel joke, because All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing (Eccles 1:7). Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. [It] is meaningless … The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep (Eccles 5:10-12). But never mind that; the materialist will still insist it is the only thing real or relevant.

The error of materialism is ultimately tied up in thinking that matter is all that exists and that man, a creature of matter and spirit, can be satisfied with matter alone. Materialism denies a whole world of moral and spiritual realities that are meant to nourish the human person: goodness, beauty, truth, justice, equity, transcendence, courage, feelings, attitudes, angels, and God. These are ultimately spiritual realities. They may have physical manifestations to some extent, but they are not physical. Justice does not walk through the door and take a seat in the front row. Transcendence does not step out for a stroll, give a speech, or shake hands with beauty. Such things are not merely material.

To deny the spiritual is to already be dying, for the form of this world is passing away. To deny the spiritual is to have little to live for other than today, for tomorrow is uncertain and one step closer to death.

III. Individualism – The error of individualism exalts the individual over and above all notions of the common good, and our need to live responsibly in communion with God and others. Individualism exalts the view of the individual at the expense of the received wisdom of tradition.

Individualism demands autonomy without proper regard to the rights and needs of others. It minimizes duties to others and maximizes personal prerogatives and privileges. It also tends to deny a balanced notion of dependence on others for human formation, and the need to accept correction and instruction.

Individualism also tends to be defiant and declare, “I will not be told what to do.”Hence there is little notion of being required to conform to the truth or even to reality. The notion that I should live by the “creeds of dead white men” is rejected as absurd, repressive, and even unhealthy.

Most individualists think of themselves as having an intrinsic right to make their own religion, to invent their own deity, and even to craft their own reality. In the past these sorts of things were called idolatry, syncretism, heresy, and delusional thinking. But today many in our culture celebrate this notion as a strange form of liberty, not seeing it for the isolation that it is, and not recognizing that they are consigning themselves to the status of spiritual orphans.

Personal freedom and autonomy have their place and should not be usurped by government or other collectives, but freedom today is often misunderstood as the ability to do whatever one pleases rather than the ability—the power—to do what is good. Freedom is not absolute and should not be detached from respect for the rights and welfare of others. Individualism ultimately scoffs at this idea.

Never mind that excessive and mistaken notions of freedom have caused great harm in our culture and that it is often children who suffer the most. Sexual promiscuity, easy divorce, abortion, substance abuse, etc. are all abuses of freedom and cause harm to both children and to the wider society that must often seek to repair the damage caused by irresponsible behavior. Individualism still scoffs at this, refusing to acknowledge any personal responsibility for societal ills.

Individualism, because it rejects the collective wisdom of the ages, also leads to the iconoclasm of the next problematic area: the hermeneutic of discontinuity.

IV. The Hermeneutic of Discontinuity – The word “hermeneutic” refers to the interpretive key by which one sees and understands the world. Thus, the phrase “hermeneutic of discontinuity” refers to an interpretation that the wisdom of previous generations is flawed, erroneous, naïve, and so forth.

It is true that no past era was perfect or all-wise. Nevertheless, there is an accumulated wisdom that has stood the test of time.

But those possessed of the hermeneutic of discontinuity will have none of it. It is old, and therefore bad, irrelevant, unenlightened, bigoted, naïve, superstitious, backward, medieval, etc.

In the Church, we are just emerging from a time when anything “old” was dismissed as “pre-Vatican II.” There was a presumed break and a great chasm with the past that we “ought” to observe, that it was somehow “wrong” to quote St. Thomas or the Council of Trent.

There is a widespread, arrogant, modern notion that we have “come of age.” We confuse our technical knowledge with wisdom. But our arrogance cuts us off from the collected wisdom of our ancestors and we make mistakes that were long ago recognized as harmful and foolish.

Here, too, as the Church “re-proposes” the Gospel, she is proposing the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the ages. Yet a modern world, often locked in the hermeneutic of discontinuity, scoffs merely on the basis that what we propose is ancient rather than modern.

Regardless, we must continue to insist upon and preach the wisdom of God, in season and out of season. We must refuse to be swayed by false notions of and demands for relevance. The true meaning of the word relevant is not “modern” or “hip.” The word comes from the Latin re (again) + levare (to lift). And thus, it means to take up again what was dropped or which fell by the wayside.

Our job is to persevere and by our persistence to keep the wisdom of God ever before humanity like a burning torch. We must preach the Gospel in season and out of season and not confuse ephemeral notions with wisdom. But neither should we imagine that there is nothing good today or that something is bad simply because it is modern. Jesus says, Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old (Mt 13:52).

V. Neo-Nominalism – There are at least two main versions of nominalism. One version denies the existence of universals—things that can be illustrated by many particular things (e.g., strength, humanity). The other version specifically denies the existence of abstract objects since they do not exist in space and time. Most nominalists have held that only physical particulars in space and time are real, and that universals exist only subsequent to particular things. The term “nominalism” stems from the Latin word nomen (name).

The modern and lazier version of nominalism, which I will here call neo-nominalism, holds that words (nomen = word) are simply arbitrary sounds we assign to things, and that they reflect us more than they reflect anything we call reality. In a more sweeping way, whole categories are also dismissed.

Thus, for example, words and categories such as male, female, marriage, abortion, euthanasia, etc. are just words we assign; they are mere human constructs that do not exist in reality. So, many claim the right today to move beyond human words and categories such as male, female, marriage, and so forth. They also claim the right to assign new words to describe these realties. Abortion becomes “choice,” “reproductive freedom,” or “women’s healthcare.”  Unnatural acts of sodomy are called “gay” (a word that used to mean happy) and anal sex is celebrated as an “expression of love.” Same-sex “pseudo-gamy” is called “marriage.” Suicide or killing of the aged or imperfect is called “euthanasia” (a word that mean means “good death” in Greek). Sexual identity is now called “gender” (a grammatical category of nouns in nearly one-fourth of the world’s languages, not a word for human sexual differentiation).

Neo-nominalism claims the right to define new reality and scoffs at the humbler proposition that we ought to discover reality and conform to it. Nominalism casts aside such humility and claims the right to merely define reality by inventing new words and thoughts and then imposing them on what really is. And thus we get endless absurdities such as LGBTQ (and Lord knows what letter will be added next). We have bizarre notions such as being “transgendered,” a concept that denies human distinctions that could not be more obvious and are literally inscribed in our bodies. But the neo-nominalists will not be troubled with reality.

The next and even more absurd “edge universe” for many of them is the so called “trans-human” movement, in which even the reality of being human is dismissed as a mere construct. People will claim the right to start calling themselves other species and (presumably) the right to engage in all sorts of bizarre consort with animals, the “right” to develop cross-cloning, etc. After all, who is to say what is “human” to these neo-nominalist iconoclasts?

For them, there is no reality per se, just human constructs that are fungible. So-called “reality” is merely to be toyed with and defined according to the latest whim and need for self-justification through the re-describing of what is actually happening.

Neo-nominalism gets dark and absurd very quickly, as we are observing every day in our increasingly indecipherable “anti-culture.”

VI. Hedonism – This is the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the chief good in life. It comes from the Greek word hēdonē “pleasure” and is akin to the Greek hēdys meaning “sweet.”

Of course pleasure is to be desired, and to some degree sought, but it is not the sole good in life. Indeed, some of our greatest goods and accomplishments require sacrifice: years of study and preparation for a career; the blood, sweat, and tears of raising children.

But hedonism seeks to avoid sacrifice and suffering at all costs. Hedonism is directly opposed to the theology of the cross. St. Paul spoke in his day of the enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things (Php 3:18–19). He also taught that the Cross was an absurdity to the Gentiles (1 Cor 1:23).

Things have not changed, my friends. And thus the world reacts with great indignation whenever the cross or suffering is even implied. And so the world will cry out with bewildered exasperation and ask (rhetorically) of the Church: “Are you saying that a poor woman who was raped needs to carry the child to term and cannot abort?” (Yes we are.) Are you saying that a “gay” person can never marry his or her gay lover and must live celibately?” (Yes, we are.) “Are you saying that a handicapped child in the womb must be ‘condemned’ to live in the world as handicapped and cannot be aborted and put out of his (read ‘our’) misery?” (Yes we are.) “Are you saying that a dying person in pain cannot be euthanized to avoid the pain?” (Yes, we are.)

The shock expressed in these rhetorical questions shows how deeply hedonism has infected the modern mind. The concept of the cross is not only absurd, it is downright “immoral” to the modern hedonistic mentality, which sees pleasure as the only true human good. To the hedonist, a life without enough pleasure is a life not worth living. And anyone who would seek to set limits on the lawful (and sometime unlawful) pleasures of others is mean, hateful, absurd, obtuse, intolerant, and just plain evil.

When pleasure is life’s only goal or good, how dare you, or the Church, or anyone seek to set limits on it let alone suggest that the way of the cross is better or is required of us! You must be banished, silenced, and destroyed.

And indeed many faithful Catholics in the pews are deeply infected with the illusion of hedonism and take up the voice of bewilderment, anger, and scoffing whenever the Church points to the cross and insists on self-denial, sacrifice, and doing the right thing even when the cost is great. The head wagging in congregations is often visible if the priest dares mention that abortion, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, contraception, and so forth are wrong; or if he preaches about the reality of the cross. The faithful who swim in the waters of a hedonistic culture are often shocked at any notion that might limit the pleasure others want to pursue.

Hedonism makes the central Christian mysteries of the cross and redemptive suffering seem like a distant planet or a strange, parallel universe. The opening word from Jesus’ mouth, “Repent,” seems strange to the hedonistic world, which has even reworked Jesus and cannot conceive that He would want them to be anything but happy and content. The cry goes up, even among the faithful, “Doesn’t God want me to be happy?” And on this basis, all sorts of sinful behavior should be tolerated because insisting on the opposite is “hard” and because it seems “mean” to speak of the cross or of self-discipline in a hedonistic culture.

Bringing people back to the real Jesus and to the real message of the Gospel, which features the cross as the way to glory, takes a lot of work and a long conversation. We must be prepared to have that long conversation with people.

I will discuss four other modern trends in tomorrow’s post (reductionism, scientism, “designer” religion, and arrested development).

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Six Cultural Trends That Challenge The Modern Evangelizer

  1. Brother Burrito says:

    This article reads like it was dictated straight from Heaven.

    READ IT!

  2. JabbaPapa says:

    This is a great article.

    One (very abstract) quibble —

    There are at least two main versions of nominalism. One version denies the existence of universals—things that can be illustrated by many particular things (e.g., strength, humanity).

    erm, no

    The Universals are the fundamental truths of Reality, everywhere and everywhen.

    What Monsignor Pope is attempting to refer to is the notion that these particular things are the Universals.

    But ultimately, the Quarrel of the Universals ended up concerning the location of Truth ; the version of it that he refers to decided that Truth was located in the relationship between words and things. viz. his excellent explanations about Materialism …

  3. I have never read – and cannot even imagine – a more brilliant exposition of the “many trends that have poisoned the culture.”

  4. Roger says:

    I think its important to look at what the Church has taught, and warned Us off.

    Naturalism
    “..a theory that relates scientific method to philosophy by affirming that all beings and events in the universe (whatever their inherent character may be) are natural. Consequently, all knowledge of the universe falls within the pale of scientific investigation.
    ..”
    “..
    Naturalism presumes that nature is in principle completely knowable. There is in nature a regularity, unity, and wholeness that implies objective laws, without which the pursuit of scientific knowledge would be absurd. Man’s endless search for concrete proofs of his beliefs is seen as a confirmation of naturalistic methodology. Naturalists point out that even when one scientific theory is abandoned in favour of another, man does not despair of knowing nature, nor does he repudiate the “natural method” in his search for truth. Theories change; methodology does not.
    While naturalism has often been equated with materialism, it is much broader in scope. Materialism is indeed naturalistic, but the converse is not necessarily true. Strictly speaking, naturalism has no ontological preference; i.e., no bias toward any particular set of categories of reality: dualism and monism, atheism and theism, idealism and materialism are all per se compatible with it. So long as all of reality is natural, no other limitations are imposed.
    ..”

    Pope Leo XIII on April 20, 1884 Humanum Genus
    “.. Now, the masonic sect produces fruits that are pernicious and of the bitterest savour. For, from what We have above most clearly shown, that which is their ultimate purpose forces itself into view – namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere naturalism.
    ..”
    “..12. Now, the fundamental doctrine of the naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide. Laying this down, they care little for duties to God, or pervert them by erroneous and vague opinions. For they deny that anything has been taught by God; they allow no dogma of religion or truth which cannot be understood by the human intelligence, nor any teacher who ought to be believed by reason of his authority. And since it is the special and exclusive duty of the Catholic Church fully to set forth in words truths divinely received, to teach, besides other divine helps to salvation, the authority of its office, and to defend the same with perfect purity, it is against the Church that the rage and attack of the enemies are principally directed.
    ..”

    The problem is not the attacks of those outside of the Church, which strengthens her BUT that the smoke of Satan has entered the Church and hasn’t been expelled.

  5. This is wonderful, difficult, but very helpful. Thank you for sharing it. I’m saving it for deeper reading and reflection – but my immediate response is that these are great challenges and we have to keep them constantly in mind when we work to evangelise. But what great opportunities they pose to us! Truly, we are blessed.

  6. Toad says:

    I’m puzzled that the comments so far are so favourable. The article seems childishly naive on several counts.
    For example: “Secularism is excessive concern about the things of this world and the times in which we live to the exclusion of the values and virtues of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.”
    But who knows for sure what the “values and virtues of Heaven” are? So Lutherans? Muslims? Mormons? Hindus? Astrologists? In which case “secularists” are wise to “exclude” all of the abpve and, Catholics would surely agree?
    Secularists believe all talk of metaphysics is ultimately fruitless, since no conclusions can be reached – enjoyable though, at times. And, as such, it should not be banned.
    No such talk should be.

    And I”d advise careful reading of Roger’s comment on Naturalism, e.g.
    “Naturalists point out that even when one scientific theory is abandoned in favour of another, man does not despair of knowing nature, nor does he repudiate the “natural method” in his search for truth. Theories change; methodology does not.
    Nicely put, I’d suggest. And little to argue about.

    “There is a widespread, arrogant, modern notion that we have “come of age.”
    Really? That’s news to Toad. I’v never heard anyone state that.

    I suppose it’s that Mngsr Pope assumes anyone who’s not a materialist, secularist, hedonist, neo-nominalist, or whatever label is handy – must be a Catholic.
    Dream on, Mnsgr P.!

    “For indeed, most people carry their preconceptions subconsciously. “
    Well, we can absolutely agree on that! Catholics included!

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    But who knows for sure what the “values and virtues of Heaven” are?

    The Catholic Church, from Divine Revelation.

    Secularists believe all talk of metaphysics is ultimately fruitless

    Ironic, given that it’s a metaphysical claim in itself to suggest it …

  8. Toad says:

    “The Catholic Church, from Divine Revelation.”
    Well, that’s’ that, then. End of rational discussion. The fact that Muslims, Methodists, and Mormons would put forward exactly he same explanation is irrelevant, I suppose.

    But possibly some people on here can see why others “outside” are sceptical. Those of us who van’t been favoured with examples of divine insight into thee matters.
    But I now reflect, and concede, that Mgnsrgr Pope was guilty, not so much of “naivety” – as oversimplification.
    It is true that it’s as unwise to be too materialistic as it is to be too credulous. We know nothing. about metaphysical matters. But music sounds nice to some of us.

    “Secularists believe all talk of metaphysics is ultimately fruitless
    Ironic, given that it’s a metaphysical claim in itself to suggest it …”

    Agreed, Jabba. How can secularists ever “know” metaphysics to be fruitless? How can anyone?
    Although, maybe the just talk is fruitless, not the subject. But that doesn’t help.
    Rich vein of topic, this.

  9. johnhenrycn says:

    Msgr Pope seems to have forgotten a seventh problem confronting the modern day evangelist, namely that good Pope Francis doesn’t approve of proselytizing, which he has called “nonsense”. So much for the special charism of the Jesuit Order in its pre-modern persona.

  10. Toad says:

    I must disagree with the good Pope that – ” Proselytising ” is “nonsense.”
    I might “proselytise ” to JH that Bruch is better than the Beastie Boys.
    Might not convince him, but there’s no harm in trying.

  11. johnhenrycn says:

    There’s a fairly reputable story doing the rounds about how good Pope Francis advised an Anglican bishop against converting to the One True Faith, just a short while before being killed in an accident (the Anglican bishop, that is, not the Roman one). As a former Anglican communicant, if I’d been discouraged from converting by the priest I first contacted about doing so, I would have been very embarrassed and might well never have followed through on the best decision in my life. There actually are *Catholic* priests who prevent conversions by means of negative condescension or otherwise.

  12. Toad says:

    “There’s a fairly reputable story doing the rounds about how good Pope Francis advised an Anglican bishop against converting to the One True Faith, “
    I’d like to know why Good Pope Francis would bother doing that. Quicker and easier to say, “By all means – good idea,” I’d have thought. But yes – people do the oddest things.

  13. johnhenrycn says:

    Speaking once more (sorry) of “negative condescension”, I can well imagine why homosexual priests would seek to prevent conservative Protestants from converting to Catholicism. Many adult Protestants have converted to Catholicism with that very reason – hatred [sic] of homosexuality – at the forefront of their minds. That certainly was important to me – not the most central teaching – but an unconditional one.

  14. Pingback: Christ, you walked on the sea |

  15. kathleen says:

    JH yesterday

    Good points in your comments, JH – thank you.
    Yes, a lot of the problem appears to come from the negative connotations attached to the word to proselytise, although I wouldn’t be surprised if this has come about only recently, perhaps in the last century or so. The author of the link from the N. C. Register article that you gave @ 14:45 writes:

    … Pope Francis could not be condemning catechesis (which he takes care to explicitly reaffirm) or strong Catholic identity in schools—yet even so, problems arise with the term “proselytism,” which can be ambiguous. There’s a negative connotation to proselytizing that’s difficult to pin down, which allows it to be confused with healthy forms of evangelization. As Lawrence Uzzell wrote a decade ago in First Things, “Today’s Christian missionaries often contrast ‘proselytism’ with ‘evangelism’; the former is what they accuse rival denominations of doing, while the latter is what they claim to do themselves.”

    And yet my inbuilt Mac dictionary gives a similar description of the meaning of the two words, except that the word “Christianity” is lacking in the first:

    To proselytise – “convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another”;

    To evangelise – “convert or seek to convert (someone) to Christianity”.

    Certainly the news of the sudden death of the Anglican ‘bishop’, Tony Palmer, who had wanted to become a Catholic but had been dissuaded from converting by Card. Bergoglio (and that you mention) is sad. See this article by Austin Ivereigh in the Boston Globe. An excerpt:

    At one point, when Palmer was tired of living on the frontier and wanted to become Catholic, [then-Cardinal] Bergoglio advised him against conversion for the sake of the mission.

    “We need to have bridge-builders”, the cardinal told him.

    Seems like Pope Francis left him standing on the bridge… instead of guiding him over into the One True Church!😦

    AFAIK, the Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes on the Return of Protestants to the Church (1868) of Pope Pius IX, after his 1865 letter Ad Quosdam Puseistas Anglicos (translation: “To Certain Puseyite Anglicans”); plus Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Satis Cognitum, on the unity of the Church (1896), have never been abrogated.

  16. Roger says:

    A wonderful creature is the Chameleon and their skin has a superficial layer (skin deep) and the ability to camouflage themselves.
    Bridges off course provide access in both directions more often built to provide alternative access that is other than the front door. Now a door however has very different characteristics.

    John 10
    1 Amen, amen I say to you: He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber.
    2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

  17. Toad says:

    “John 10
    1 Amen, amen I say to you: He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber.
    2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.”

    …Unless the thief haveth stolen the key, of course.
    Nevertheless, details aside, one of your most illuminating comments ever, Robot.

    …And as H.Dmpty says, (sort of) “Proselytise, “ means precisely what I choose it to mean – no more, no less. Just so.

    “Certainly the news of the sudden death of the Anglican ‘bishop’, Tony Palmer, who had wanted to become a Catholic but had been dissuaded from converting by Card. Bergoglio ..”
    Then Palmer couldn’t have wanted it very much, could he?
    (I deeply mistrust this “story.” Might be entirely wrong, of course.)

  18. JabbaPapa says:

    the negative connotations attached to the word to proselytise, although I wouldn’t be surprised if this has come about only recently, perhaps in the last century or so

    As I pointed out in the other thread, in fact in the 1st Century, and in clear instructions from the Lord Christ in His own Words to the Disciples about how not to evangelise.

    Do not go around door-to-door — do not go and bother passing strangers along the way.

    The Pope was explicit in his comments to the Protestant Heretics that he was addressing that these particulars were what he was referring to.

    If you watch the video, instead of reading the somewhat hysterical anti-Francis 3rd Party opinion pieces, it is extremely clear that these Heretics are applauding various statements of heresy formulated to the Pope as “questions”, whereas the (surprisingly doctrinal) responses from the Pope are met with stony silence.

    This is because he was preaching the basics of the Catechism to a hostile crowd.

    Do not go around door-to-door — do not go and bother passing strangers along the way : these are direct instructions from the Lord Himself. It is proselytism as such.

    Meanwhile, let’s all completely ignore the Pope’s very clear teaching during those very same days that it is the duty of every Christian to evangelise. … because whoops-a-daisy, that FACT is incoherent with our tidy little political narrative …

  19. johnhenrycn says:

    Jabba says (19:51) – “As I pointed out in the other thread…”

    Is it egomania (thinking people actually read everything you say) or laziness that causes you to not give links to the pronouncements you make from your cave? I did spend a valuable, irreplaceable minute searching for your “As I pointed out in the other thread”, but without luck and that’s it.

    “If you watch the video, instead of reading…”

    That’s exactly your problem, Jabb – Jabb – child of the 1960s. I’ve no idea what video you mean.

    “Do not go around door-to-door – do not go and bother passing strangers along the way : these are direct instructions from the Lord Himself.”

    Is that a quote from Pope St Francis’s First Letter To The Chinese 24:7, or is it something actually written in the Gospels? Show me, as they say in Missouri.

  20. JabbaPapa says:

    Is that a quote from Pope St Francis’s First Letter To The Chinese 24:7, or is it something actually written in the Gospels?

  21. johnhenrycn says:

    You’re big on tumbleweeds, Jabba – not so big on exegesis. Meh.

  22. kathleen says:

    Hmmm, you sound pretty angry, Jabba. Were you directing your last paragraph @ 19:51 to me?

    I can’t say I’ve ever known Catholics to adopt those aggressive methods of Evalgelisation that you describe. If Pope Francis was saying it to the Lutherans, that doesn’t make sense either; it is more the style of the hysterical Protestant tele-Evangelists, or semi-Christian Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons, not that of mainstream Protestants!
    Besides, to all non-Catholics he says the same thing: ‘just stay where you are and don’t convert!’, (or words to that effect). Or are you now going to say it’s not true, and just the result of a faulty translation? This is clearly the way Pope Francis thinks (unlike that of all his predecessors) that conversion to the One True Church is not necessary for salvation.

    So what’s your opinion of Pope Francis’ advice to his Protestant friend, Tony Palmer, then?

    In his reply to a 15 year old girl on the topic, according to this article on LifsiteNews, Pope again criticizes ‘proselytism’: ‘It is not licit that you convince them of your faith’, he says: “proselytism is the strongest poison against the ecumenical path.” !!!
    “Poison”? That’s a pretty strong word.
    Understanding “proselytism” as meaning being pushy about converting another to the Faith, is certainly not the way to go about it, but could you call an attempt to bring someone to the Truth of the Catholic Church, “poison”? Pope Francis may well have been saying the above to “Protestant heretics”, but he says the same to Catholics too!

  23. JabbaPapa says:

    You’re big on tumbleweeds, Jabba – not so big on exegesis. Meh.

    (nor am I so big on taking your whining seriously ; if you knew your Scripture, the Dogma, and the Catholicity and the Holy Tradition of the Faith half so well as you pretend, you’d spare us the spectacle of this seemingly non-stop promotion of factionalist ideology and schismatic anti-Popery. Read the Scripture ; understand the Dogma ; embrace the Catholicity with your Soul. Childish pot-shots against me personally, nor against any other individual Catholic, even if he were the Roman Pontiff himself, do not serve to elevate your person to exalted consideration)

  24. JabbaPapa says:

    Hmmm, you sound pretty angry, Jabba

    No.

    Were you directing your last paragraph to me?

    And no.

    The word “proselytism” can be understood in various different ways, and it is very unhelpful to refuse to accept the Pope’s deliberate clarifications on what he meant by it in one’s interpretations of what he meant.

    That the Pope condemns “proselytism” in a manner extremely close to the Christ’s instructions NOT to go around door-to-door and NOT to bother passers-by in the road in a Homily where he explicitly states the duty of every Christian to evangelise is completely incompatible with the narrative that some have created around some cherry-picked phrases removed entirely from all context.

  25. johnhenrycn says:

    Jabba says (21:15) – “Read the Scripture ; understand the Dogma ; embrace the Catholicity with your Soul.”

    Thank you so much, Deacon Jabba. You say that Pope Francis admonishes us to not seek conversion of the nations to Catholicism through preaching of The Word. You second that advice with your learned Gospel lesson: “Do not go around door-to-door – do not go and bother passing strangers along the way”, which you say “are direct instructions from the Lord Himself”.

    It’s hard to heed anything you say – what for your prolixity and high opinion of your Catholicism.

  26. JabbaPapa says:

    You say that Pope Francis admonishes us to not seek conversion of the nations to Catholicism through preaching of The Word

    I certainly do NOT “say” this utter nonsense that you have produced out of your own apparently fevered imagination.

  27. johnhenrycn says:

    Staff Pick of the Caddyshack crew where Jabba earns his daily crust.

  28. johnhenrycn says:

    My frenemy (h/t John Kehoe) is an animal. In order to conquer him, I have to think like an animal. Mr Gopher (Jabba) Caddyshack YouTube:

  29. TerryC says:

    Late coming here but I just have to say this is one of the best rundowns of the problems of modern times.
    Re Mr. Toad; Your response in the face of divine revelation is a prime example of the appeal to materialism and secularism. As a religion based on revelation, supported by natural law, at it’s basis Catholicism comes down to faith. Mormonism, Islam and at some level all Protestant Christian religions are also based on a belief of divine revelation. To assume all of them are wrong because they have contradicting beliefs is not rational. Just because you can’t tell which is correct strictly through rational thought does not make all of them wrong. Certainly the secular framework is rationally incoherent.
    In any serious discussion of Catholic beliefs and how Catholicism should interact with the secular world must be the acknowledgment that it is based on divine revelation. If you deny that then the whole exercise is a waste of time. Either the Catholic Church is the church founded by God or it is not. If it is not then perhaps one of the other groups claiming divine revelation is where you should be. If none of them are right then materialism is true. Since materialism/secularism is incoherent that seems unlikely.

  30. Toad says:

    “Mormonism, Islam and at some level all Protestant Christian religions are also based on a belief of divine revelation. To assume all of them are wrong because they have contradicting beliefs is not rational. Just because you can’t tell which is correct strictly through rational thought does not make all of them wrong. “
    I don’t do that, TerryC, but thanks for the comment, which is good.
    And I agree with the paragraph above.
    [Moderator- Tut-tut, more pure relativism? No, thank you. Two sentences deleted.]
    They may be right. I don’t know that either., but I doubt it. So do you, it seems.

    “In any serious discussion of Catholic beliefs and how Catholicism should interact with the secular world must be the acknowledgment that it is based on divine revelation. If you deny that then the whole exercise is a waste of time.” Too true, i’m sorry to say. And how can we ever know whether the revelation is divine, or not? [And another sentence of boring relativism deleted here. You may revel in your doubts and indecisiveness Toad, but no need to keep rubbing it in the face of everyone else.]]

    But what do you find “incoherent” about secularism? Ir may not be “true” itself, short-sighted, unimaginative, and so on,, but it seems coherent enough to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s