I began a series of blog articles last week reflecting on the question, “How do you evangelize a culture that used to be Catholic?” Our whole culture used to be based on Christian faith. People are now turning away from Christianity. How we do invite them back and help them have a relationship with Jesus?
Before continuing, for those who have been long-time followers of my blog and website, much of what I say in this series of articles repeats things I have said in the past. My goal in this particular series is to try to bring it together specifically in the context of evangelization.
My first blog article in this series, “The Quest for Fulfillment in the Modern World”, talked about the searching that all people do to find happiness, i.e. “fulfillment.” Next, I addressed the question, “Has Science Eliminated the Need for God?”
Now, I want to turn to those who think faith has become irrelevant.
We might ask is why do some people think faith has become irrelevant. My previous blog article, “Has Science Eliminated the Need for God?” addresses one part of this. Another aspect of why some people think faith has become irrelevant involves morality. They look at the morals (or the lack they of) in society today and see they differ from what faith teaches. Our faith says sexual intimacy is meant to be only between a man and woman who have totally given themselves to each other in marriage. Modern culture says sex between any consenting adults is fine. God tells us, “Thou shall not kill” but many in the modern culture say abortion and physician assisted suicide is okay.
Many people choose to accept what the modern culture says. I don’t think they even necessarily “agree” with this except that is what they have grown up with as “normal”. Since it is “normal” it must be okay. I see a fundamental flaw in their thinking. It is not the role of culture to shape our faith. It is for our faith to shape our culture (cf. my presentation Where Do We Go for Truth?).
So, when faith tells us something different based on the Bible written between 1,900 and 3,000 years ago, they think the Bible must be outdated and, thus irrelevant. They say the world was different back then, no technology, no highspeed/mass communication. Most people were farmers and tradesmen. Yes, the world was different when the Bible was written. That doesn’t mean the Bible is outdated. We need to understand the culture of the past and to ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand how to apply God’s Law today.
Yes, we need to examine what our culture says. In the “Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Various Needs III, we hear the phrase, “looking into the signs of the times” (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 4). For some people, that is all they hear and think, yes, our faith should learn from our culture. However, we should look at the whole sentence in this Eucharistic Prayer, “Grant that all the faithful of the Church, looking into the signs of the times by the light of faith, may constantly devote themselves to the service of the gospel.” Yes, we need to look at our culture, “the signs of the times” but to do so “by the light of faith.”
For instance, in the last couple of centuries, the field of psychology has emerged and become a tool in understanding human behavior. I emphasis understanding because psychology does not make a behavior right or wrong. Psychology is a tool to help understand why a person acts a certain way. We can then use that understanding to help us end our bad behavior.
I’m sure there are other arguments as to why people might think faith is irrelevant today (if you have questions, please feel free to offer them by commenting). I’m going to conclude this article now. Next, I will turn to a new blog article, “Answering Those Who Say They Don’t Much Out of Mass.”