29 October, 2009

What is "Evangelical" Catholicism?

In my profile, I self describe myself as being an "evangelical" Catholic priest. "Evangelical" is not a word normally ascribed to Catholic clergy as it has been, for better or worse, appropriated by those of the Pentecostal sects of the Christian family.

I would like to claim ownership of this term, but the credit belongs to Fr. Jay Scott Newman, the pastor of St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina (Diocese of Charleston). I have included at the end of this post a link to Fr. Scott's excellent webpage, but I include here the eight principles of what he describes as Evangelical Catholicism- with great appreciation to him for encapsulating in them the essence of what I have always held to be my model of Catholicism and priesthood.

"During the nearly twenty-seven years of his pontificate, Pope John Paul the Great called the Church to the urgent mission of fulfilling the Great Commission in our time, a project he called the New Evangelization. This evangelical summons of John Paul continued the same call given to the Church by Pope Paul VI in the years of and after the Second Vatican Council, and now the same commitment to announcing the timeless truths of the Gospel with new ardor, new methods, and new conviction is being asked of us by Pope Benedict XVI."

"Another way of expressing our commitment of the work of the New Evangelization is to say that we must become Evangelical Catholics. By our Baptism, we are called to be men and women of the Gospel who are Christian disciples by conviction rather than mere Church members by convention. Being Evangelical Catholics requires that we know the Gospel, believe the Gospel, live the Gospel, and share the Gospel with others, and becoming Evangelical Catholics is a lifelong adventure of letting go of the various counterfeit catholicisms of our time (casual, cultural, cafeteria Catholicism) by accepting the liberating truth of the Word of God and living by grace through faith in the Son of God."

"Evangelical Catholicism is not meant to be a movement within the Church, still less a sect or sub-set of Catholicism; it simply a way of understanding the vocation of every Christian to be a true disciple of and faithful witness to the Lord Jesus. I offer these principles as a catechetical tool in the service of helping the people of St. Mary’s to follow the Lord Jesus ever more faithfully in the Way of the Cross through radical conversion, deep fidelity, joyful discipleship, and courageous evangelism."

The Principles of Evangelical Catholicism

1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the crucified and risen Savior of all mankind, and no human person can fully understand his life or find his dignity and destiny apart from a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is not enough to know who Jesus is; we must know Jesus.

2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is divine revelation, not human wisdom, and the Gospel is given to us in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition which together constitute a single divine deposit of faith transmitted authentically and authoritatively by the Bishops in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. We must surrender our private judgments in all matters of faith and morals to the sacred teaching authority of the Church’s Magisterium if we are to receive the whole Gospel.

3. The seven Sacraments of the New Covenant are divinely instituted instruments of grace given to the Church as the ordinary means of sanctification for believers. Receiving the Sacraments regularly and worthily is essential to the life of grace, and for this reason, faithful attendance at Sunday Mass every week (serious illness and necessary work aside) and regular Confession of sins are absolutely required for a life of authentic discipleship.

4. Through Word and Sacrament we are drawn by grace into a transforming union with the Lord Jesus, and having been justified by faith we are called to sanctification and equipped by the Holy Spirit for the good works of the new creation. We must, therefore, learn to live as faithful disciples and to reject whatever is contrary to the Gospel, which is the Good News of the Father’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

5. The sacred liturgy, through which the seven Sacraments are celebrated and the Hours of praise are prayed, makes present to us the saving mysteries of the Lord Jesus. The liturgy must therefore be celebrated in such a way that the truth of the Gospel, the beauty of sacred music, the dignity of ritual form, the solemnity of divine worship, and the fellowship of the baptized assembled to pray are kept together in organic unity.

6. Receiving the Sacraments without receiving the Gospel leads to superstition rather than living faith, and the Church must therefore take great care to ensure that those who receive the Sacraments also receive the Gospel in its integrity and entirety. Consequently, before Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, and Marriage are administered, there must be in those who request these Sacraments clear evidence of knowledge of the Gospel and a serious intention to live the Christian life.

7. Being a follower of Christ requires moving from being a Church member by convention to a Christian disciple by conviction. This transformation demands that we consciously accept the Gospel as the measure of our entire lives, rather than attempting to measure the Gospel by our experience. Personal knowledge of and devotion to Sacred Scripture is necessary for this transformation to occur through the obedience of faith, and there is no substitute for personal knowledge of the Bible. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

8. All the baptized are sent in the Great Commission to be witnesses of Christ to others and must be equipped by the Church to teach the Gospel in word and deed. An essential dimension of true discipleship is the willingness to invite others to follow the Lord Jesus and the readiness to explain His Gospel.

Visit Fr. Scott's webpage at: http://web.mac.com/jayscottnewman/Site/A_Parish_Priest.html

1 comment:

  1. Tim,

    Under The Principles of Evangelical Catholicism, it says:
    "1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the crucified and risen Savior of all mankind, and no human person can fully understand his life or find his dignity and destiny apart from a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is not enough to know who Jesus is; we must know Jesus."

    Quite true. However, we know in the teachings of the RCC, that is not all that is required for salvation. The rest of the principles listed here highlight the problem. The initial statement in number 1. is completely destroyed by piling on a whole list of requirements, if, even if followed to the letter, will not result in any assurance of salvation.
    For example, it says "We must surrender our private judgments in all matters of faith and morals to the sacred teaching authority of the Church’s Magisterium if we are to receive the whole Gospel."

    You will find, in the Scriptures of truth, this is completely contrary to what God has taught. The apostle John said "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." 1 John 2:27

    Concerning this verse, great Bible commentators such as Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown say "The anointing abideth in us; we do not need a teacher [for we have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, Jer 31:34; Joh 6:45; 16:13]; it teaches us the truth; in that teaching we will abide" [BENGEL].

    "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." John 6:45

    The Scriptures were written not only to church leaders such as bishops or ministers. They were written to the whole church. "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul's Epistle to the Romans. We see in this verse Paul addressed this epistle "to all that be in Rome". Not just church hierarchy. The same is seen in the beginning of 1 Corinthians. "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:" 1 Corinthians 1:2

    If the Bible was meant to be interpreted by only church hiereachy such as bishops, why are some of these epistles addressed to the whole church, to every believer in Christ?

    Another point in relation to this. The RCC claims the bishops have the same authority to interpret the Scriptures as the authority which the apostles had. However, the authority of the apostles dissappeared when the apostles died. This is proven by the fact that in order to be an apostle one had to have seen the resurrected Christ. This is proven by the Scriptures. "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?" 1 Corinthians 9:1 Paul here points out his qualifications to be an apostle, one of which is he had seen the resurrected Lord.

    Other qualifications of the apostles were signs and wonders they were able to perform.

    "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?" Hebrews 2:3,4

    Bishops today can not perform the same signs and wonders such as raising the dead, and they have not seen the resurrected Lord. They do not meet the qualifications described in the Scriptures. They are not apostles and do not possess the same authority as the apostles. The authority to write the N.T. Scriptures was a one-time event in the apostolic age.

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