Friday, 24 July 2015

Pope Francis and Evangelicals

Catholic Herald: The Pope’s great Evangelical gamble

An interesting article, but it rather misses the elephant in the room. That is the fact that the Pope Francis' constant emphasis on social justice is not going to excite or interest the majority of Evangelicals all that much. No matter how warmly His Holiness feels toward Evangelicals, he is speaking a different language to them.

I suspect that the Holy Father simply does not understand Evangelicals. I rather imagine that he thinks that because a lot of converts to Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism in Latin America are poor, they appreciate his talking about poverty every five minutes. However, the poor do not always wish to be politicized. The reason that Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism are growing in Latin America is because the Latin American Catholic churches have become obsessed with social justice and have forgotten the heart of the Catholic faith. People in Latin America convert to Evangelicalism because it offers them a spiritual direction and moral leadership which they no longer find in the Catholic Church. They don't become Pentecostals because Pentecostals constantly call for justice for the poor. I don't see any sign that Pope Francis has learned this lesson. With the greatest respect to the Holy Father, I see very little spirituality in his message and the same overemphasis on social concerns.

There are many Evangelicals who will applaud Pope Francis message of social justice. I was attending a church with a strong social interest until I became a Catholic. But such concerns
are always secondary with Evangelicals to a call for spiritual conversion and transformation. If Pope Francis persists in making poverty and social justice central to his message, he will inevitably come across as closer to a Liberal Protestant than an Evangelical.

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