Catholic evangelist Peter Herbeck says Catholics need to follow Church teachings.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Catholic evangelist Peter Herbeck says Catholics need to follow Church teachings.

September 19, 2011
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Catholics are often too willing to compromise their faith in order to get ahead in the world, laments an American evangelist.

“They are keeping one foot in the Church and another in the world just in case,” said Peter Herbeck, a leader with Renewal Ministries in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“This is a big problem for the Church. Think of the problem of sexual morality that’s happening in the Church.

“The Church has all these wonderful teachings: sex is sacred and meant for marriage; no premarital sex; the Church’s teaching on contraceptives; the Church’s teaching on abortion; the Church’s teaching on pornography.”

Catholics in general don’t follow these teachings, Herbeck said. In fact, things like same-sex marriage are being pushed forth by Catholics in political office in the U.S., he said.

“Catholics behave no differently when it comes to fornication, adultery, pornography and abortion. Statistically there is almost no difference.”

SEX IS SACRED

This is not the way of the Lord, the preacher said. “Sex is sacred. It’s a wonderful gift from God to allow us to participate in his creation.”

Herbeck, vice-president and director of missions for Renewal Ministries, was the keynote speaker at the Edmonton Catholic Charismatic Conference and Prayer Breakfast Sept. 10.

More than 300 registered for the event at Edmonton’s St. Theresa Church. The previous evening charismatic leader Ralph Martin spoke at the conference.

Herbeck said the Church is suffering from a Christian minimalism, meaning it’s looking for moral guidance from the world in order to be successful in the world.

“What happens is we keep one foot in the Church just in case this is all real because if there is really a hell, we don’t want to go to it. We take a minimalist approach.”

Once Herbeck tried to keep some cards up his sleeve but the Lord caught him.

“The Lord looked at me and said, ‘Peter, it’s either all in or nothing.’ That’s Christianity. That’s what Jesus said — all in or nothing.

“St. Paul said, ‘Christ must reign in our lives.’ Go all in while you can. That’s what it means to be a disciple. Jesus says if you want to follow me everything must come under my lordship.”

Catholics must listen to the Lord first, insisted Herbeck. “We are persons made by God for love. This is the source of our dignity. Our life is worth something because God thought of us and God loved us, not because of what we have accomplished.”

Our value, our meaning is a gift from God and it will never be taken away, Herbeck said.

HE’S THE ONE

“In the midst of tribulation, in the midst of trial, the most important thing is to remember who is the Lord, who is in charge, who’s got all the authority and power. He is the one.

“He loves you. He is with you always. He never leaves or abandons you.”

Jesus said love those who hate you. “But honestly, examine your heart. What’s your first instinct towards those who hate you and who do bad things to you — pay back,” lamented Herbeck.

NO EASY ROAD

“That’s not the way of the Lord. The Lord wants us to love those people who are after the Church, who are mocking the Church, ridiculing the Church. That’s not an easy road for us to go but we have no choice. We were made by God for love.”

Herbeck, who has been active in evangelization throughout the U.S., Canada, Africa and Eastern Europe for the past 25 years, called on all Catholics to become missionaries — people who dedicate themselves to evangelize and spread the Word of God.