This is part 2 of a three part reflection which basically tries to raise questions about how evangelization, and the “new” evangelization, can come across. In part 1 I raised questions about how we can look elitist, raising the bar and, indirectly, writing many Catholics out of the ranks of “disciple.” In part 2, I want to explore broader patterns of inclusion and exclusion, urging certain attitudes upon evangelizers. In the final part I will talk about discipleship in more detail.
Read Part I
Catholicism, like all Christian forms of expression, has to parse out some biblical tensions that pull in opposite directions. When Jesus says that the path to salvation is narrow (Matt 7:13), that “many are called, but few are chosen (Matt 22:14),” doesn’t this amount to a kind of gloomy Calvinist viewpoint? Or whereas Mark says that those who are not against us are for us (Mk 9:40), Luke says that those who are not with us are against us (Lk. 11:23). The end of Mark’s Gospel has this phrase: those who refuse to believe will be condemned (Mk. 16:16); on the other hand, 1 Timothy tells us that God “wills all to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4)-a pivotal concept in much Catholic thinking in the second half of the twentieth century, thanks to Karl Rahner, S.J., and other theologians.
This means that Christians have always had an option in reading the Scriptures. We can read them narrowly, emphasizing the radical demands of the Gospel, with only a few being saved. Or we can read them broadly, emphasizing the more universal and inclusive dimensions of the Scriptures. Because our Scriptures come to us after being strained through early conflicts with some segments of Judaism, internal conflicts which we can peek at in First Corinthians and the Letters of John, we can easily look at one line, or one direction of thought, as if it said everything. Yet every believer has to read the Scriptures from the viewpoint of a Redeemer who came for the outcasts and the marginalized, who upset established religious categories, and who affirmed that humankind was not made for the Sabbath, but just the opposite (Mk. 2:27).