I’m coming in on the home stretch of my podcast analysis of John Allen’s book The Future Church. The book was written in 2009, so it’s interesting to see how Allen’s predictions have panned out. An abridged version of the podcast is available free of charge at BreadBox Media here. The full length version of each podcast is reserved here on the blog for Donor Subscribers. Go here.
In the last podcast I did an overview of three of John’s chapters: Biotech, Globalization and Ecology. It was interesting that John picked up the ecology theme ten years ago and with the election of Pope Francis this theme has become so prominent in certain sectors of the Catholic Church. Indeed, part of the reason Pope Francis chose the his papal name was because of the association of St Francis with the ecology movement.
Last night I finally got around to reading the Working Document for the upcoming Amazon Synod. You can read the whole thing here.
My summary would be, “What a load of silly nonsense!” By placing the whole emphasis on cultural adaptation, ecological disaster and accompanying indigenous people it does a dis service not only to the core of the Christian gospel, but also to the other subsidiary causes it is trying to promote. Being good stewards of natural resources is a good thing. Learning from and adapting to the people we are evangelizing is a good thing, however these good things find their true value and purpose and power when they are in proper relationship with the truth of the gospel. If you promote them at the expense of the core gospel they become nothing more than politically correct talking points.
The working document comes across as a secular, globalist tract full of gobbledegook which could have been written by the United Nations Committee for the Integration of Indigenous Peoples and the Inculturation of Ecological Concerns.
I’ll let you read the whole thing and make up your mind, but here are some excerpts:
Listening to indigenous peoples and to all the communities living in the Amazonia – as the first interlocutors of this Synod – is of vital importance for the universal Church. For this we need greater closeness. We want to know the following: How do you imagine your “serene future” and the “good life” of future generations? How can we work together toward the construction of a world which breaks with structures that take life and with colonizing mentalities, in order to build networks of solidarity and inter-culturality? And, above all, what is the Church’s particular mission today in the face of this reality?
Here is the document’s thoughts about the redeeming cross of our Lord Jesus Christ:
The death and resurrection of Jesus illuminated the destiny of all of creation, filling it with the power of the Holy Spirit, who had already been evoked in the Wisdom tradition
What is evangelization?
The mission of evangelization always has “a clear social content”… In fact, “from the heart of the Gospel we see the profound connection between evangelization and human advancement” and between the acceptance and transmission of divine love. Thus, if we accept the love of God the Father and Creator, who conferred an infinite dignity upon us; the love of God the Son, who ennobled us with his redemption; and the love of the Holy Spirit, who invades and breaks all human-made bonds, we will be impelled to communicate that Trinitarian love by respecting and promoting the dignity, nobility, and freedom of each human being in our every work of evangelization. In other words, the evangelizing task of receiving and transmitting the love of God begins with longing, searching, and caring for others.
Therefore, evangelization means being committed to our brothers and sisters, improving community life, and thus “making the Kingdom of God present in the world”, promoting throughout the whole world (cf. Mk 16:15) not “a charity à la carte”, but a truly integral human development, that is, for all persons and for the whole person . This is what is known as the “principle of universality” in the task of evangelization, “for the Father desires the salvation of every man and woman, and his saving plan consists in ‘gathering up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth’ (Eph 1:10). […] All creation refers to every aspect of human life” (EG 181), that is, to all its relationships.
Note the mention of “universality”. There is no call for conversion. There is no call for repentance and faith in the saving work of Christ. There is no call for anyone to proclaim this message. Why? Because the drafters of this document are universalists. They believe everyone is already saved. The only thing left to save is the rainforest.
This is a grotesque distortion of the Christian gospel and any follower of Jesus Christ must be shocked and dismayed to find that his Great Commission has been distorted into the Greta Commission.
I mention Pentecostalism because this is the next chapter I’ll be reviewing from John Allen’s book, and it is no co-incidence that Evangelical Pentecostalism is sweeping through Latin America like a wildfire with thousands and thousands of Catholics turning from the Catholic faith and being converted by the Pentecostalists.
I’ll write more about this here on the blog and will be producing that podcast within the next few days. Today suffice it to say the reason Pentecostalism is surging through Latin America is because the Catholic hierarchy, clergy and theologians are peddling this mish mash blend of liberation and ecology theology which is driven by some sort of utopian universalist ideology.
This clap trap has been the very thing that has poisoned the liberal Protestant denominations across Europe and North America. They are in terminal decline and Catholic modernists can’t see it. It’s an old saw that insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different result. I’ve used the illustration of the guy who puts orange juice in his gas tank and when his car doesn’t start he concludes that he must not have put enough orange juice in the tank so he opens the back window and fills the interior of the car with orange juice too.
Why is Pentecostalism sweeping through Latin America? Why are thousands of Catholics becoming Pentecostals? Because the ordinary people are thirsty for God. They are burdened by sin and are crying out to hear the old, old story of a loving God who sent his son to defeat Satan, rescue a fallen humanity and throw a lifeline to desperate sinners. This simple gospel message has been abandoned by the Catholic leaders so the people are abandoning them.
The Pentecostals come in with a message of personal salvation and a personal infilling with the Holy Spirit. They come in with small communities that care and share with one another. They galvanize their people to share the gospel–a gospel that connects with their lives with power and surges with an authentic encounter with God.
Do I think the Pentecostals have all the answers? No. There are many critiques one could make of their message and their methods. Do I personally like Pentecostal worship and theology? Of course not, but if I had to choose between a guitar strumming, chorus singing congregation and a hallelujah hollering preacher who was calling people to repentance and faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ and a German theologian telling me loftily about how the gospel was a message of cultural accompaniment and ecological integrity I know who gets my vote.
I imagine a “serene future” and “good life” where I get a new iPhone every year. I dress up in the latest fashions and hang out with “the cool kids”. I imagine “there is no heaven above us or hell below us. Above us only “the sky god”. I imagine inclusivity for all except for those who don’t believe in inclusivity. I imagine diversity for all except those who don’t believe in diversity.
I imagine that one day, “we too will be like God”.
On the other hand, I believe what G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The human race, according to religion, fell once, and in falling gained knowledge of good and of evil. Now we have fallen a second time, and only the knowledge of evil remains to us.”
I imagine a “serene future” and “good life” is one in which we have complete hope and trust in Jesus Christ and that we accept suffering with joy. For without suffering, how could we know that we are a “Manalive”. Hint, hint.