February 5, 2011

To be Christian and yet not a disciple simply does not compute...

Sherry Weddell, Of Spiritual Babies & Graduate School:

...Increasingly, evangelicals are more than willing to acknowledge Catholic strengths and are more than a little dazzled by them. I attended a gathering of high powered evangelicals committed to spiritual formation in early July. They were talking and quoting Catholic authors almost exclusively: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Green and referred a great deal to monastic practice. Their passion was a profound union with God and so naturally, they turned to the great mystics. I learned from them that many of the foremost evangelical universities in the country now have spiritual formation programs in place that are adopting the same approach.

But so many of their evangelical assumptions were still in place. One impressive missionary leader, who lives in St. Petersburg, was stunned when, in response to his questions, I had to explain to him that being a Christian and being a disciple weren't the same thing in the Catholic tradition. One was sacramentally based and the other a personal response.

The bewildered look on his face said it all. There was no place in his spiritual worldview for such a distinction. After all, he was turning to historic Christianity for guidance in how to help immature disciples become mature disciples. It had not yet dawned upon him that a faith that produces such saints could simultaneously have large numbers of members who are not yet disciples at all. Who don't even know that discipleship is possible. Many of whom don't even have an imaginative category in their heads for discipleship. Because they have never heard anyone talk about it....

I was raised Evangelical, and the odd thing is that I'm only really getting into that now that I'm a Catholic. All sorts of memories rise up from my youth; things I had quite forgotten.

And I too am, increasingly, "stunned" to discover what Sherry describes... "I had to explain to him that being a Christian and being a disciple weren't the same thing in the Catholic tradition.." I felt immediately at home in the Catholic Church, and still do. And yet, I also keep discovering that Catholics—cradle Catholics that is—are kinda weird.

But the interest of Evangelicals in Catholic teachings is an astonishing thing. I've never encountered this, but I've heard many rumors of it. It makes good sense, since the Church is a inexhaustible treasure house. But she is also mysteriously attractive, she draws people, and I'll bet dollars to your donuts that some of those evangelicals Sherry mentions will bye and bye be writing their conversion stories. Heh heh.

Myself, I'd advise evangelicals to infiltrate the Church and take over!

 

Posted by John Weidner at February 5, 2011 10:31 PM
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