Speaking to some 8,000 people at Student Leadership Summit in Chicago, Bishop Robert Barron said on Tuesday that trust in the risen Christ should give us the courage to preach the truth boldly.

In bringing the message of heaven to earth, Catholics should be careful not to water down the Gospel or fall for bland and uninspiring half-truths, he said.

He recalled an encounter that he had with Biblical scholar Scott Hahn, who remarked that “there is no historical basis for the for the claim that St. Francis said, ‘Preach always, and when necessary, use words.’”

While indeed “our whole life should be a kind of preaching,” Barron said, the statement attributed to St. Francis can become a problem when it is “used as a justification for a kind of pastoral reductionism,” for example, the idea that “what it all really comes down to is taking care of the poor.”

While caring for the poor is important, Barron said, this work “in and of itself can never be evangelically sufficient.”

“This is not the time for anti-intellectualism in our Church! We have lots of young people, you know them, they’re your friends and colleagues, who are leaving the Church for intellectual reasons,” Barron said.

He called for a kind of “bold speech” needed to proclaim the Gospel, pointing to the preaching in the early Church, which challenged the widely held belief at the time that “Caesar is Lord.”

The Roman empire at the time, Barron said, was rather liberal with regards to new religions, yet still rejected the early Christians because they identified Jesus – and not Caesar – as the only Lord.

“If he is Lord, everything in your life belongs to him. Your personal life, yes. Your body, yes. Your friendships, yes. Your political life, yes. Your entertainment, yes. All of it.”

When Christianity becomes reduced to a mere message that can be gained from the dominant culture, Bishop Barron said, it moves from the faith of early persecuted Christians to one which is rewarded lavishly by others.

“That’s what happens to a weakened, attenuated Christianity,” he said.

“In the Acts of the Apostles we hear that when those first disciples spoke, people were cut to the heart. Still true, still true to this day. Bland spiritual teachings, saying what everybody else says, that won’t cut anyone to the heart, but trust me, declaring the lordship of Jesus, that’ll cut them to the heart.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.