I attended a crusade at a friend’s born-again Christian church a few months ago where it is likely that most members were former Catholics. Somehow the lack of teachings, doctrine and tradition becomes useful to them as it doesn’t get in the way of the central message.
It got me thinking about how, in many parts of the world, the church seems to be haemorrhaging souls to cults on the one hand and to the born-again Christian or Pentecostal churches on the other.
With cults clearly there is a strong demonic influence, it goes beyond mere brainwashing and coercion to get people to believe their zany teachings and demi-god status of leaders. They promise freedom and deliver bondage.
With the born again groups its quite the opposite I find, they are successful because they offer freedom and deliver on it, leading their congregation to be open to the Holy Spirit and into a close union with Him. The bad thing is that, now that what was missing in their lives is now filled, the converts perceive that all that they had before was lacking or irrelevant, so an element of deception creeps into the equation.
As Catholics we are really good at praying, going up the mountain, the private room, and it is our strength, as Padre Pio said it was the Masses said throughout the world everyday that hold it together, I believe that.
Perhaps the born again Christian groups only exist because of our reluctance to enter in fully to the other dynamic areas of Jesus’ mission, empowered by the Holy Spirit to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Imagine if everyone in your parish was equipped like that!
The strength of the born again groups is that they take Jesus at His word, “you will do even greater things” and then allow Him to work His miracles through them.
Surely we can do the same, and when you think about it, as our church has God given authority, would He not pour His Spirit out on us all the more, if we ask for it?