George Weigel always gives a good pep talk, and not only to Catholics. He’s a can-do Catholic. Weigel does it again in Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church . The Counter-Reformation church is dead, and the “Presentitis” of some post-Vatican II Catholicism is a dead end. Weigel attacks all expressions and forms of “lukewarm Catholicism” too. It’s time for “deep reform,” and that means “submitting to the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit” (20).

At the heart of the reform Weigel calls for is friendship with Jesus. Citing Benedict XVI, Weigel claims that “friendship with Jesus Christ is the raison d’etre of the Church. The Church exists to offer the possibility of personal friendship with the Lord Jesus, the acceptance of which leads both to the truth about God and to the richest imaginable human life.”

Where is friendship with Jesus found? Acts 2 tells us all we need to know: “where the apostolic teaching is transmitted and where the bread of fellowship in the Body of Christ is broken and shared. In that community, men and women are empowered to live lives in conformity to the ways in which the Lord Jesus himself tells us that friendship with him is lived: in giving bread to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and freedom to prisoners” (35).

That “where apostolic teaching is transmitted” highlights the specifically Roman Catholic shape of Weigel’s proposal. But much of what he says is transferable to other ecclesial settings. And, as I say, he gives a good pep talk.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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