Adaptation to Catholics

Although there is but one gospel and one in Jesus, nevertheless different ways and methods of approach are required if we expect to win souls for Christ from different creeds and re­ligious convictions, such as Roman Catholics.

By GUSTAVO L. STORCH, Union Evangelist,North Brazil Union Mission 

Although there is but one gospel and one in Jesus, nevertheless different ways and methods of approach are required if we expect to win souls for Christ from different creeds and re­ligious convictions. It is not always easy to trans­form a nominal Protestant into a leo per cent Ad­ventist, and it requires much more wisdom, tact, and grace from above if one is to bring a Catholic to ac­ceptance of Bible truth. The apostle Paul had to preach to various nationalities and creeds in his travels and ministry. He expounds his way of gaining souls in the following words:

"Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews ; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without the law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might . . . be partaker thereof with you." 1 Cor. 9:20-23.

As the result of my evangelism in a strictly Cath­olic country I have the conviction that we need a more adapted reading material, especially prepared for Catholic minds. And this principle also holds good when it comes to preaching to an audience composed of Catholic listeners. In general our preaching and our literature have too strong a Protestant flavor to appeal to Catholics.

I realize that whatever method we may use, and in spite of our tact and adaptability, we cannot hide very long that we are somehow related to Protestantism. Notwithstanding this, we may re­move a great deal of prejudice as we prepare our sermons, if we give consideration to certain safe­guards.

To the average Catholic the term "Protestant" represents a people cursed of God and His holy church. So avoid a Protestant atmosphere as far as possible. A Catholic honestly believes that the Bible we use is false. He is forbidden to read it or listen to its reading. Therefore do not use the word "Bible" in your first sermons, literature, invi­tations, or propaganda. Say instead, "Holy Scrip­tures," or "Word of God." In citing Bible writers, do not say merely John, Paul, Peter, and so forth, but always say, "Saint John, Saint Paul, Saint Peter." Catholics like to hear the terms "holy" and "saint."

When you make reference to the mother of Jesus, do not call her simply Mary. Say, "the virgin Mary," or "mother of Jesus," or "the blessed among all women." On the first night of an effort I like to talk about the prophecies of the first coming of Jesus. This gives a good founda­tion for the following sermons and offers a fine op­portunity to mention the virgin Mary as the mother of Jesus and blessed among all women.

Since Catholics like to see religious- pictures, show about twenty lantern slides, mainly those where prominence is given to the virgin Mary, to the holy angels, and to the infant Jesus. Catholics like to hear about a cross ; therefore, preach the cross of Christ. Exalt it in all its glory and its meaning to our salvation. Show it often in your slides. Sing about it.

In dealing with the prophecies of Jesus' second coming, cite frequently the holy apostles' creed, especially that part which says that Jesus will come again to judge the quick and the dead. A good Catholic knows the Lord's prayer by heart, and so I often dismiss my audience with this prayer at the close of the meeting.

Later on in the effort all this is not so important. But remember that much depends on how you deliver your first sermon. Do as the apostle Paul did—make yourself a "Catholic" to win a Catholic. Win their confidence first. Have a proper "Catho­lic" start, and you will win souls even in a strictly Catholic city and country.

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By GUSTAVO L. STORCH, Union Evangelist,North Brazil Union Mission 

October 1944

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