Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 7, 2005
WCR Letters to the Editor
Is JP II Bible School hurting the Church?I have privately, among my friends, and occasionally among larger groups of people, mentioned that I believe that John Paul II Bible School has been granted this mythic status which is undeserved.
I feel, however, that talking about the Bible school behind closed doors isn't fair, since the Bible school doesn't get a chance to defend itself so I decided to come out in public with my concerns.
You see, I don't really think the Bible school has problems; it's more that I think it's hurting the Church. So I wanted to come out and say . . . stop . . . stop hurting the Church, because we need people of great faith to work in the Church right now, but what the Bible school is actually doing is hurting us.
The people at John Paul II have the very best of intentions; they honestly want to strengthen young people's faith. This isn't bad. It's hurting the Church because what they are creating is Catholics who appear to be confident and strong in their faith, but, on closer examination, may not necessarily possess a deep understanding of what it means to be Catholic.
My understanding is that the basis of the school is the charismatic renewal movement. This movement has a certain amount of danger associated with it because it can often lead to a faith that over emphasizes emotions at the expense of reason.
Students at JPII are not always given adequate tools to know how to discern what is truly from God. This can lead them to mistake their own emotions and desires for direct revelation from God.
Often their students feel strong in their faith, but lack the tools necessary for a true understanding of their faith.
The location of the Bible school is also problematic because it breeds a level of exclusivity.
Some of those I know who have attended the Bible school essentially believe that proper faith formation is not possible outside its walls. In order to be truly effective, we must not separate those who are being formed in faith from the world, we must teach them to confront the world.
We need Catholics who love and accept, rather than Catholics who believe that they have all the answers. This type of mentality smothers discourse and allows the secular world to dismiss religious arguments. There are many who think that JPII is helping because those who emerge from it have a "strong faith" and a personal relationship with Christ.
Perhaps what they need to ask is "A strong faith in what?" and "What limitations does this world view place on their relationship with Christ?" Is it a faith in God or faith in an institution?
What we actually need are Catholics of a different breed. We need smart, charming, well-spoken Catholics. The people we need must both understand their faith and face off with the culture by presenting intelligent arguments.
We need people, who understand how the culture has thoroughly subverted Christian values, and why the Church is losing more and more ground in the culture wars.
We can settle for no less than people who can debate the culture and point out its moral and intellectual shortfalls and inconsistencies.
We need Catholics who have more than just a deep faith, who do more than merely pray for change; we need Catholics who can organize resistance. John Paul II Bible School isn't helping us . . . it's hurting us.
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