Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts

Reintroducing Logic and Reason to the Age of Sentimentalism

Proselytism Vs Evangelization

November 5, 2013 | 3 Comments

We’ve heard Proselytism is “solemn non-sense”. We have also been told to go out and promote the New Evangelization. We are told we are to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to evangelize our brothers and sisters, both within the Catholic faith and without, but, when we do preach the faith, strongly and firmly, we are told we might offend others and we should choose our words wiser. We can’t be “touting our faith as better”. So, what is going on here? First, I want to explain the difference between Proselytism and Evangelization.


Let’s define the terms.

Proselytize: to try to persuade people to join a religion, cause, or group.

Evangelize: to try to convert (a group or area) to a different religion (especially Christianity).

What is the difference? Absolutely nothing. Both have the same definition, really. Proselytizing is the same as Evangelizing. I don’t care if proselytizing has “taken on a negative connotation” these days. Instead of trying to appear hip and cool with the rest of the world, we teach the rest of the world what a word actually means, you know, kind of like we are attempting to do with marriage. Marriage has taken on a negative connotation these days, maybe we should forego this word?

Both these words attempt to persuade/convert to a different religion, and in this case, that religion is Catholicism, the religion Jesus Christ started (but don’t tell anyone, it might offend them).

This is something you can trace back from a secular (historical) view. Protestantism started with Martin Luther, formally breaking with the Catholic Church, and starting his own church. From there, others broke from Martin Luther and founded their own church. Kind of get the picture? Proselytism and evangelization are in essence, the same. exact. thing. Both attempt the same, to bring the person to your faith, with the intent they convert.

Really, there is no point to evangelize if the intent is the person stay where they are. Faith requires conversion, even if you are already a part of that faith. We need to continually convert because we are not perfect.

I say, go forth and proselytize while you evangelize. And if the New Evangelization leaves out proselytizing, the actual intent of bringing said person into the Catholic faith, then count me out. I’ll stick with the Old Evangelization.

3 people are talking about “Proselytism Vs Evangelization

  1. In St. Matt. 28: 19-20 Our Lord’s mandate was to go out and proselytize and
    evangelize. And this mission belongs especially to the Pope and bishops as
    successors of St. Peter and the Apostles. It’s the continuing work of Christ
    that is to endure until the end of the world.

    We, too, the laity should do the best we can to call all those outside whom
    we come into contact to convert to the one true Faith of Christ.

  2. I think you need to be a bit more fair to the Holy Father and to the meaning of words than just flippantly declare, “What is the difference? Absolutely nothing. Both have the same definition, really. Proselytizing is the same as Evangelizing.”

    προσήλυτος/προσήλυτοι in the OT and the NT (Acts 2:11) has the sense of a convert to Judaism. It has come to mean essentially anyone who converts from one thing to another, or in the verb form to try to convince or convert anyone from one position to another, etc.

    Evangelize is quite specific to the good news of the Kingdom of God (Is 41:27, Lk 8:1, Act 21:8, 2Tim 4:5) which is to proclaim the Gospel.

    I would suggest that you give Holy Francis the benefit of the doubt that he really does know what he is talking about, and probably actually understands the real difference between these terms. There is no sense in which he is telling us to not evangelize — but the point is not to make proselytes out of people, merely converting them to our side, but sharing with them the faith of Jesus Christ.

    You might take some time to read what he actually says about the need to evangelize.

  3. One cannot force religion or faith upon a nonbeliever or even force the Catholic way on a non-Catholic. The immediate human response is to push back, to resist. You cannot ask or tell someone to convert when they are at the stage of disbelief that is filled with polarized opposition. It’s by living a Christ-like life out loud that we lead as examples. Personally, I wish more Catholics truly put great effort into living a Catholic life. That is our best form of evangelizing, which, yes, does not mean the same thing as proselytize or we would not have introduced the word into our English language. There are subtle differences in words, which is why we have such a huge — and often unused, vocabulary. Words have both connotation and denotation associated with them. The connotation associated with the term proselytize is not positive.

    Focus on living Catholic, being Catholic, believing Catholic and we will be able to set such a wonderful example that others will want to join the joy!

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