So: I question I would often ask my Calvinst friends: What’s the point of evangelism if God elects who will be saved (whether they like it or not)?
On the flip side, however, I would have to ask this question of Catholics: What does evangelism look like from a Catholic view if conversion is NOT about “asking Jesus into your life”, but only about “baptism”?
It seems Protestant evangelism involves a rather definitive moment of decision – where someone becomes Christian and “gets saved”. However, they have a very fuzzy view of what it means to “stay saved” (unless, of course, you’re a Calvinist). Catholics, on the other hand have a very definitive idea of what it means to “stay saved” (ie., living out the holy life, the sacrament, etc.) but a very fuzzy view of what it means to “get saved” (apart from the act of baptism)
While I agree with the Catholic understanding of Justification in general (we’re brought into God’s covenant family and “infused” with Christ’s righteousness, not merely forensically “covered” or “imputed” .), I have difficulty understanding how evangelism plays into the life of the Catholic.
I believe when a person realizes the “despair” and fraility of their lives apart from God – then when they repent and “give” their lives over to CHrist — God accepts that person (even though the ordinary means would be through baptism).
However: It seems to me there is almost a disproportionate emphsis in the Catholic CHurch on the very act of baptism as being the point of conversion in a persons life.
So: Back to the question: What is the Catholic evangelism story to athiests, for example?
I’m trying to imagine how this scenario would look…
God wants you to become his child and repent, but first you must take an introductory class, and then RCIA, and then during Easter, you’ll be baptised – and only THEN, will you become “Christian”.
It seems to me it cannot possibly be that complex.
I can accept that the “ordinary” means to becoming a Christian — or brought into God’s covenant family is through baptism, but doesn’t God also work through the extraordinary means of personal contrition, repentance in an adult convert?
I’ll give you an illustration:
When we were living overseas in Ireland for a few years, I was able to drive legally the first year without having to get a FULL Irish drivers license. About after a year, we took our “written” test and got what’s called a “provisional drivers license”. NOW: According to Irish law, holders of a “provisional license” are required to place a big “L” on the back of their car, which indicates “LEARNER”! And learners, incidentally, are not allowed to drive on the Motorways (only local roads). Go figure.
So, this left us puzzled. We’ve ALREADY been driving for quite sometime on the Motorways using our American license, and NOW we have to place an “L” on our car, and restrict our driving to the local roads? (When I asked some authories about that – and never DID get a straight answer about that).
I guess the the illustration here applies to my “salvation”.
I truly believe the “ignition” of my salvation started precisely on September 9, 1988 when someone led me to Christ in a prayer of repentance and acceptance of Christ. I can clearly say my life changed quite radically since that moment, in such a way, that NO other explaination sufficies than God truly accepted me as his child at that moment.
Now: It turns out that I WAS already baptised in the Lutheran chuch as an infant – but I later got “re-baptised” (in true, Protestant fashion), after I made a public confession of my faith as an adult. Some have told me the second baptism was really unnecessary — and I can sort of see that. HOWEVER: I can truly say that most of my life was lived in darkness and sin until I was about 18, when I “asked Jesus in”.
Anyway: I hope you can follow my train of thought here – as I’m writing rather fast and furiously! (because I have to get back to work).
DO Catholics “tell people about Jesus?”, or do you just “tell people about the RCIA process and baptism?” How does that work?