When it comes to evangelization I have to confess that the Protestant Evangelicals have a pretty sweet sell.
They don’t have purgatory so it is a stark choice: Heaven or Hell. So they ask an innocent bystander, “Brother if you died tonight do you know that you would spend eternity in heaven?”
Most people aren’t sure.
“Would you like to be sure”
Who would say no?
“Then let’s just bow our heads and confess our sins and ask Jesus into your heart. Then you will be saved and know that whatever happens you will go to heaven.”
It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s successful.
Yes well maybe but not really
The good thing about this form of evangelization is that it is clear and direct and calls for an immediate decision. “Do you want to repent of your sins and follow Jesus Christ or not?”
The problem with this form of evangelization is that it is built on a faulty understanding of grace and salvation. The doctrine of eternal security is specious and the threat of eternal hell and instant heaven is deceptive.
Catholic evangelization is more of a long term project since we have always seen catechesis and initiation to more of a process rather than an instant decision.
However, there is nothing wrong with beginning the process through a clear, honest and instant decision.
So can the strength of the Evangelical approach be used by Catholics?
I think it can.
What if we were to present the gospel to people clearly but instead of asking “Would you like to know that you are going to heaven if you die?” we were to ask, “Would you like to decide right now to step on the path to heaven? Would you like to know how you can be assured that you are headed to heaven and stay that way?”
That would be thoroughly Catholic in its doctrine, but have the strength of calling people to a decision for Christ. It is also a way that ordinary Catholics could evangelize effectively and simply.
If only we had the courage to do so!