To a lot of Protestants I know, monks and nuns are fanatics, none greater. And to a lot of monks and nuns I know, my Protestant prophets are fanatics.
For my part, I think the only difference between them is that if you are a Catholic and have this intensity of belief, you join the convent and are heard from no more; whereas if you are a Protestant and have it, there is no convent for you to join and you go about in the world getting into all sorts of trouble and drawing the wrath of people who don’t believe anything much at all down on your head.— Flannery O’Connor
I know a man who is a convert to Catholicism from Evangelical Christianity, and was a church-planting minister for many years. Once, he and I took a long lunch sharing about the theology of the laity, and specifically about the above O’Connor quote. At one point in the conversation, he said something I found remarkable. He said,
Evangelicals really get what Catholics call the ‘lay vocation’ in the world, because they only have baptismal priesthood, since they jettisoned Ordained priesthood and Religious life. Those believers Catholics call ‘the laity,’ Evangelicals simply call Christians, and what Christians do is be good disciples by bringing Jesus into everything they do. They see the path to holiness everywhere …
… One of the most striking differences I noticed soon after I started getting involved in the inner Catholic circles was this tendency of Catholic leaders to see in wealthy or influential Catholics potential benefactors, while Evangelicals tended to see wealthy or socially influential people first and foremost as potential culture-warriors.
Or, I noticed when Catholics saw the fresh zeal of new converts, they tended to channel them into internal church ministry worker-bee activities, or into future vocations to priesthood and religious life — Evangelicals were more likely to disciple these converts as missionary movers-and-shakers in secular culture. My church had the motto, ‘change a heart, change the world.’
… Though I have noticed some progress on the Catholic side recently, on the ground what I described remains pretty much the default pattern. With some notable exceptions.
I then brought up the example of Tyler Joseph from Twenty One Pilots, whose early approach to music-as-mission was deeply influenced by his Evangelical faith, and by a pastor in the church, Five 14, which describes itself thus:
Our name, Five14 Church, comes from Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” We exist to bring light to a dark world.
As we finished our conversation, my lunch partner introduced me to a song by the Evangelical musician, Steven Curtis Chapman — “Do Everything.” He said Chapman’s song captures this Evangelical vision that the hard core work of grace is to empower the believer to do everyday things as a way to “tell the story of grace.”
I have posted that song here probably a hundred times, so here is one hundred and one.