Here’s an interesting piece for those of us who identify with the term “post-evangelical.” In U.S. Catholic, Heather Grennan Gary writes about what Catholics can learn from evangelicals. It says Catholics should take three lessons from evangelicals: “building relationships, creating a culture of conversion and discipleship, and teaching young people how to tell their faith stories.” It is replete with language I consider evangelicalese: “encountering Christ,” “personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” and “experiencing God.”
Here is a quote from Father William J. O’Malley, about Catholic catechism:
They’ve substituted formulas and catechism answers for an experience of God. … No one is converted at the end of a catechism.
Much of the article seems to come down to “Catholics should feel more.”
As long as we’re on the topic of conversion, the funny thing, of course, is that a lot of evangelicals drawn to Catholicism think “Evangelicals should feel less. They should think more, like Catholics do.” That emotional “experience of God” is impossible for many of them to sustain without the thinking and the catechism and the long, dry tradition of scholarship. It’s what they find lacking in evangelicalism. It’s ironic: Catholics think Catholics should be more evangelical, and evangelicals think evangelicals should be more Catholic.
Of course it’s the evangelical converts who are the most gung-ho about not being evangelical. I showed this article to my sister, an evangelical convert to Catholicism, who said it’s silly to make Catholics less Catholic: “In the end, the evangelicals are better at being evangelical, so we’ll never beat them at their own game.”
But hey, our personality determines our theology anyway. I’ve always joked that we’re born a certain theology and discover it. Calvinists are born Calvinists. Whether they’re raised Pentecostal or Baptist or not, they’ll unearth their inner Calvinist soon enough. This language of “feeling” and “experiencing” and “thinking” and “reasoning” must show that. Some people feel more; some people think more. Hence the yearning of “feelers” who are born into “thinking” traditions, and the yearning of “thinkers” who are born into “feeling” traditions. Does a lot of our theology boil down to our own personality comfort zones? I think yes.
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