Friday, April 21, 2017

The Christian Worldview and Victimhood

by Teresa Beem

We are in a time when the most obvious observation is despised because it goes against this idea of being nice. Being nice and even good have become about not saying anything that corresponds with reality. And that is because reality makes people angry. So, nice people don't mention it.

Well, I am going to mention it because I think reality is important. Reality itself isn't nice. Blame reality and not me! I figure Christians should be able to understand what I am about to write, but today, I am not so sure anymore.

A World of Victims

Everyone is a victim. Everyone feels victimized: men, women, racial minorities, old people, young people, transgendered people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, fat people, ugly people, short people, stupid people, poor people even rich people.

Oh poor, poor me! Oh poor, poor us!

And they are RIGHT! If you are feeling victimized, you are feeling reality correctly. Life isn't fair and life is filled to the brim with injustices. Everyone ought to feel exploited and used and abused because this corresponds with reality.


Whose to Blame?

Everyone clearly understands that injustices need to be righted, so they demand government to deal with it.
Men need to think above the waist.
The rich need to give more to the poor.
There are conspiracies against the regular Joe.
Enforce laws.
Make new laws.
More jails.
More education.
More tolerance.
Why can't we just all get along?

If every possible injustice had a law against it, that would not eradicate injustice. Laws cannot stop the problem, even if they can punish it.

Unfortunately we live in a society of such monumental irrational pride, so bent on self-destruction, we would rather tear each other apart with blame than actually admit the cause of injustice is right there in front of us and pretty much most civilizations in the last four thousand years knew or at least suspected it.

We are oppressed because we are guilty of disobedience to God.

Yeah, I know nobody wants to read that. I know some readers are saying, "You always want to blame everything on sin." Yes, that is true, because that is what God did. Sin makes us sinners who hurt each other.

God didn't die that we may have the best government system or to show us the correct political affiliation. Christ didn't suffer on the Cross that we could be wealthy and comfortable. He is not the Savior from being offended. His life and death were not to help us feel good about ourselves. He didn't die so we would be free to sin. He came to conquer the sin that brings about our death and misery and injustice and oppression and enslavement.

But I get it.
If we admit that moral crime is causing suffering and injustice, that would make us all victims! And no one could feel much superiority in their oppression-hood. Wrongdoing, of course, is not equally distributed, so we are not equally abused, but make no mistake, sin brutalizes everyone.

No one wants to think about evil because they want the bad guy to be someone else—someone they can fight against. We all want to be the good guy! Of course, that is how we were created! It is wonderful to want to be the good guy and beat up the bad guy. It's just that because of disobedience to God, no matter how sincerely or ignorantly done, we have to re-learn how to be the good guy. It is not easy or as natural to us as we wish it to be.

I Don't Believe in Evil

Many of us who call ourselves Christian don't really believe in wickedness. That makes us feel uncomfortable and judgmental.

Why? Why do we all freak out (even Christians) when someone states the obvious?

Because no one wants to get rid of iniquity! Sin not only makes us the prey of evil, it makes us predators too. Transgressing God's law, being the source of injustice, means we sinners become not only the victims, but the bad guys who create the injustices.

We all believe and feel ourselves to be the good guys and it is a shock to our system—a shock to our reality—if we place the blame on injustice on ourselves. That means there is no guy in the black hat we can all corporately get rid of and injustice will vanish. We can't protest or strike against or boycott sin—unless we do it in our own life.

The Empowerment of Righteousness

There is nothing we can do to stop the victimization of evil unless we personally stop doing evil things. If we wish true freedom so that nothing can victimize us anymore—we need to stop that which is enslaving us. And… that is sin. This power is right there for us no matter your gender, age, race, etc. God's mercy and grace is the ultimate heaven for those who wish to live in a non-biased, color-blind and just society.

Few can handle this truth—that most of the guilt of society comes from our personal decisions! While it is evident that the world suffers from others' transgressions, our deepest persecution is our own fault and derives from our own choices.

The Christian worldview of evil and oppression really is the nicest and most personally empowering because God promised that He would pull us from the depths of this horrible victimization and take our transgressions from us! Through His grace, Christ provided a way out of this enslavement. That is the good news! That is the gospel.

But no one today seems to want to hear that gospel because it means they would have to admit there was a problem with not just the world—but themselves—and admit the problem is wickedness and submit to the Great Shepherd for healing.

And for every holy man and woman, for each example of the saints who defy the law of sin through Christ's miraculous grace, a thousand injustices we can't control are defeated. Personal holiness effects much more than your own personal enslavement to sin, it shines the light so that others too may leave the prison of persecution.

And evil doesn't want that. It wants us humans to love our own oppression and blame others. Sin keeps us blind to our own faults but shines the light constantly on others. Evil is the master deflector, the master blamer, the master at dulling us to guilt, the master at tempting us to feel the enslavement it has us in, but to love our own choice to remain as a victim in our jail cell while screaming injustice at other prisoners from within it.

Christ opened the door for us. He gave us the solution to injustice. And the solution begins with each of us falling on our knees daily in repentance, having faith that His mercy is great. He wants to shower grace upon us so that we can no longer be victims, but walk as kings and queens in His eternal kingdom.

He wants us to rise from the deepest filth of victimhood and will freely give us the love, courage and strength to go and sin no more. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What is the Catholic Mass


The other day, I mentioned to an Evangelical  that I was going to mass. Protestants often wonder why Catholics don't just say, "I am going to church." So this person asked me, "What is the difference is between church and mass?"

Ah, what a question. And now I get to pour out my love in an answer I hope and pray will be understandable. And an answer of love, often requires many words! 

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Creation


Before the babbling gurgle of babies, before the laughter of children and the words of men, there was a deep and dark silent mystery.

Then suddenly, from the heart of God, burst forth a cosmos. Galaxies were thrown forth in an everlasting expanding spin, light exploded and in the wake of God's voice, trillions of stars were left against a black sky to mesmerize us each time we would look up to find God.  His love song radiated a divine offering of life. The universe echoed back His song as a beautiful symphony of love. And the oceans teamed with the first generation of babies. The sky grew heavy with thousands of species' first baby birds! The lion and lioness lay down with their cubs, and the cattle filled a thousand hills.

That is what love is! Love does not simply inspire creativity. Love's form is creation. As the sun does not simply produce radiation, it is radiation, as perfume does not create a sent, it is the scent. As flowers do not create beauty, they are beauty, so love does not simply create life, it islife. That's the nature and essence that God formed and called love. You cannot separate the life producing from love or it ceases to be love.

All acts of love create. The bliss of total self-gifting love is reproductive, in that it reproduces itself.


Destruction

Then the perfect symphony went silent. Adam sinned.
Sin stole from us the blessedness of life-giving sacrifice. Sin's nature is the very opposite of love. It is destruction. Satan's ultimate goal is to rip life from love, leaving it sterile and selfish. 

Sin began a war.

Man chose to battle God. When Adam took the forbidden fruit, he placed himself at war with God. No matter his heart. No matter that he was deceived in the ultimate outcome. No matter how sincerely he repented and was sorry. Satan trapped man into a life of utter enslavement to self.  


Recreation

Two thousand years ago, the definitive battle of this still ongoing war was won by a Savior who totally surrendered His life for love. The Cross showed the raving madness of wickedness. Sin is hate so powerfully deceptive that given reign convinced the creation to murder its own Creator. But so much more, the Cross showed us the extent of Christ's love in a pure life-giving sacrifice. Christ offered us freedom from sin and death and He did it through the creative and jubilant sacrifice of love.
As excruciatingly painful as it was, it was a joyous gift offered that those who accepted it would be restored to their rightful position as His Sons and Daughters. And for those who choose to obey the King, they will reign forever with Christ.

Because we live in a world crowded and confused with sin, our understanding is clouded and we cannot clearly comprehend the Cross of Christ. For most humans, Calvary is indistinct, remote, and unreachable. 

So Christ gave the world His Church to bring back His love song and the music of life. He commissioned His people to bring the meaning of His sacrifice clearly focused into reality. We are to show the Cross through our actions to a dulled and desperate world. 

Catholics go to church for this purpose of re-creation. The word "mass" contains the entirety of the meaning of the Cross packed into it. The wording bursts forth with that life-giving memory of Calvary.

The mass is where we go to received the grace of Christ's Crucifixion that we may leave and be "little Christs" to the world. For that is how we got our name. The Roman pagans living in Antioch called us Christians, because they saw our living sacrifice and it reminded them of that criminal who died a cruel death because He believed in bringing us the love of His Father.

As true Sons and Daughters, we still should be doing that today. Bringing the living symphony of His creative life to the world! We pour ourselves out as He pours Himself in to us in mass. We become the living cup that overflows with His pure living water to satisfy the world's thirst. We become His broken bread to feed the hungry.

Not through just spoken or written words but through yielding up our freedoms and rights in the daily little things, often unnoticed by others.

By our gift of self-control when we are insulted or offended and desire to spit vengeful words and instead speak words of encouragement, we bring the Cross near.

When we have made plans to do something relaxing on our time off, and we see someone in need, we lovingly gift
 our much needed rest and act unselfishly to help—we bring the Cross near. 

When we have a right, a liberty we fought hard for, but for the sake of others, give that right up—we bring the Cross near.

When we give supernatural forgiveness to someone who has despicably wronged us—we bring the Cross near. 


The mass gives us the grace to do the heroic even in the most mundane and irritating moments. His grace awakens in us the needs of those around us and urges us to give even when it is against our very fiber.

Dozens of moments during the day, we are faced with tiny choices of self-preservation or a painful sacrifices of what we want or need and we choose to take the hit out of love—we become Christ and bring the Cross more clearly to a confused and defeated world. Surrendering to God these precious tiny moments build and build until they form a tsunami of grace that floods the world.

And as we grow like Him as the decades go by, Christ is bringing us to His ultimate goal: that self-sacrifice becomes a exuberance and we are more able to pour out our life for others in an unending song. 

The Church is the building.
 

The mass is God's gift of His love that brings forth life in us, so we may then pour out our soul in charity, bringing the Cross near to everyone we encounter. The mass is His life. His love is creative through us

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Seeing that the Law of God is Good


At the consecration of the newly built temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon pled to God for His people, Israel, that they would live according to Yahweh's commands. Then Solomon thought of foreign visitors, who evidently must have been many to merit mentioning in his prayer:
As for the foreigner who does not belong to Your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of You, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear you, as do Your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears Your Name. 2 Chronicles 6: 32-33

 Historically, Jews have not evangelized. Israel's neighbors and those who heard of them from distant lands, were not impressed with Israel's charities, or community outreach outside of their own people. The foreigner didn't think, "Wow! Those Israelites are nice, warm, friendly people." 

In fact, it was quite the opposite. I am not saying they were mean-spirited, not at all. Few foreigners could get to know an Israelite in an intimate way because God's laws restricted interaction with non-Hebrew people. Israel could not live among the gentiles, for they would become unclean and unable to perform God's ritual laws. So they stayed separate, even when living in a diaspora city. 

The Talmud records how the Jews would measure off their section of town so they would be a certain distance from Gentile homes, and orient their windows, preventing interaction with non-Jews on Sabbaths and holy days.

In a general sense, if the non-Israelite was kept from being friends with the Israelite, how could they hear the people of God's heart-felt testimonies? Why would foreigners come from a long distance to worship Yahweh at His temple? 

Because in the Old Testament, God set up Israel's system of laws to announce the coming gospel. And rather than saying, "Look at the nice, friendly people of Israel!" the foreigner thought, "Look at the good laws of Israel!" 

The Torah itself spoke of the goodness of God. God was seen as a light unto the world through His commandments. The Old Covenant system itself proclaimed the character of God. Israel was a living example of the fruits of God's laws. In a sense they were performing, as if on a world stage, the Torah. 

The commandments cried out the glory of God as the humble people of Israel acted faithfully.  


The New Covenant 


Before Christ ascended into heaven, He gave the New Covenant and told His disciples to go out into the world and announce the good news. This was radically different than the way the gospel was proclaimed by Israel before Christ. Now, the followers of God were expected to go out and live among the gentiles and verbally tell the story of Christ while continuing to magnify the laws of God through acting with righteousness.

If you look at the modern evangelical strategies, you would think that the Great Commission was merely the spoken word. Our bishops, priests, Protestant pastors and laymen express faith as only what one says rather than what one does. The idea has disappeared that Christian obedience to God's New Covenant laws proclaim His glory equally with that of what we say. They go hand in hand. 

I fear it is because so many of our bishops and priests are embarrassed by the law of God. Rather than loudly live the glory of God through His just and merciful commandments, Christians uncomfortably demur and apologize that God has set such a high standard. We have hobbled our witness because we have defaulted into only telling the story of Christ. 
______________________________________
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi
_______________________________________________________________________ 

Are we truly, deep down, convicted that God's call to holy living and sanctification is too difficult? Too harsh? Unreachable? Or even that His laws are mean-spirited? Is God judgmental and intolerant?

Is it possible that we are not convinced that God's commands to us are loving? 


What a tragedy! 
Christ's commandments are life! They are the way and the truth. Our living them is just as glorious a witness of the gospel. Christian morals and standards are the very foundation upon which our gospel stands. If we take the commandments out of the picture because we are embarrassed by them, we give the listener an experience whereby they may joyfully understand God's love for them and then rob them of the very netting that will catch them when they fall back into sin. 

His ways, His New Testament laws are good, very good. And as we live them, the foreigner will be drawn to the glory of God even if we kept silence! Because God made man to love His law. His laws will bring us the joy and peace we so long for. We do the unbeliever a great disservice when we recoil from presenting the joy of the obedience of faith. 

God commanded that we go and tell of Him. And that is wonderful. But let us never withhold the fullness of the Gospel. Let us never shirk to proclaim the goodness of God's morals both through our voices and through our lives. 

And we can only do that if we find His laws good and joyful! 




Saturday, February 4, 2017

There is Freedom and Then There is Freedom!



Let me start with the fact that I agree with this guy. Please remember that: I AGREE with this guy. What frustrates me is that it seems no one gets the BIGGER picture. The bigger picture happens to be philosophical and not emotional--so people will tune out how to SOLVE this problem because thinking in a rational, analytical way hurts one's brain. We have A.D.D. as a nation and are too impatient to even focus for a few minutes on something we don't want to think about. Thinking hurts!!! But many people (not my family and friends, of course!) need to realize they must THINK PAST the pain.... it is so important for our future.

(Note: Any use of the word "you" is general--not intended for anyone in specific.)

I get why this man is saying that our freedom is threatened by politically correct language. I agree--a whole BOOK could be written about this subject. But to address it, we really need a higher perspective--historical, intellectual, philosophical and most important-- theological perspective.
__________________________
Number one: WHY are we feeling triggered in the first place?

TRENCH-LEVEL

ANSWER: Because the family has fallen apart. Because we no longer trust our authorities BECAUSE the family has fallen apart. We worship comfort and stability BECAUSE we have substituted food, entertainment, and fun for reality because reality hurts. Why does reality hurt? Because the family has fallen apart. Realize, I am not blaming these university kids. They are a product of their parents who are a product of their grandparents. In general, the blame points backwards.

Most people look at their family and think, "My family was okay." That may be true. I am not arguing the individual family. When the structure of a culture strains under the weight of the corporate collapse of the family, and when everywhere you look there are children of divorce, people who cannot hold down jobs, people who can't relate to others.... it will affect you no matter how perfect and functional your own family was.

No matter how wonderful we personally may be, we are swimming in a culture of depravity, corruption, vulgarity, emotional instability and despair BECAUSE the family has fallen apart. America has one of the top divorce rates on the planet. It is among the top in drug abuse, pornography addiction, materialism. Studies have suggested our nation is one of the most unhappy on the earth. Our prisons are overflowing. Think about this: When HALF of all adults are being medicated for emotional problems, we have a real crisis.

AND THIS IS IN THE CONTEXT OF WHAT IS CALLED A FREE SOCIETY!! Freedom didn't prevent this..... Freedom can't solve this. In fact, a fake freedom helped cause it.
___________________

AIRPLANE-LEVEL

So why are the families falling apart? Because we live in a society that is driven by hedonistic, materialistic pleasure. Our god is money, emotion and comfort. We feel it is our God-given right to pursue happiness and live according to our own wills. We have wrongly conflated patriotic ideals with Christian ideals. Americans often believe that at the Founding Father's words were birthed from the Apostles' words. We actually ignore the
scripture that says that we must take up our cross daily, and sacrifice in love to live for others and try to fit that into a slice of "right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness." These two things are diametrically opposed to own another. You can't live for yourself and live for Christ. You cannot serve two masters. You are either living to make money so that one day you can retire and do what you want to do, or you are giving your life to serve Christ. It is impossible to do both.

More FREEDOM will not solve this problem. Christians need to choose this day whom they will serve.
____________________

HEAVENLY-LEVEL

If you are living in sin you are not free. That's the bottom line. No matter what laws you put in place to protect rights, no matter how many lives are given for the idea of freedom, there is NO freedom outside of a holy life. Christ tells us the TRUTH will set us free--not a well-written, nor carefully enforced Constitution. Living in His Truth sets us free. And not immediately... but eventually as we learn to accept more and more of His forgiveness and grace. We become free AS WE BECOME LIKE HIM! (smile!)

Look at the mess we are in under all the false freedom and libertine liberty and riot-producing rights? Have we found peace as a nation? No. We have been lied to. Peace is not about getting to walk around and do what one wishes without impediments. Rights do not empower us, nor give us respect or value. Liberty was known, even to the ancient pagans and to the greatest Greek and
modern philosophers of all history, to be but a puff of smoke. And that is why you have the brilliant Nietzsches and Sylvia Plaths putting their heads in the oven and committing suicide. That is why the Freuds and the Hegels, who helped birth the nihilistic spirit of our age, have philosophically inspired three generations to plunge into the most hedonistic and narcissistic lifestyles unknown since the Imperial family of Caligula.

Real freedom; true freedom is not living in a country that flies a flag and tells us it is there to protect our freedom. Freedom comes--not from without--but from WITHIN US! Few people are authentically free, for they are enslaved in a system that has utterly imprisoned them in body, soul, mind and spirit.

People live their lives--without any meaning--as automatons moving about in a fake world in a little box run by Siri, who spend their evenings isolated and entertained, their days dutifully
responsible to the capitalist system awaiting that future moment when they can take their money and go find a little peace and pleasure.

This is the system we proudly call freedom. And it is a horrible lie. A Devilish lie. And it is why we are unhappy and we don't even know the source of our confusing and meaningless existence. Most people are not even AWARE of their own existence other than when their body calls out to be fed or rested or anesthetized.

Each soul longs for true freedom. But humans in every age and in every time have sought it unsuccessfully until they found it in Him. At the foot of the Cross. In humbly letting go of self and witnessing a God of such love that He was willing to die to conquer sin so that we could taste TRUE freedom. And that freedom is felt when we repent and turn from the sins that we believe give us so much comfort and pleasure, the sins that seem to give us so much power and respect. That freedom is an illusion. Do not allow the devil to fool you any longer--to make you stupid and keeping you blind and deaf and dumb.

Our freedom and our liberty can only be found in one place, and that is in Christ. Devotion and utter obedience to God will truly undo the shackles of narcissism, the meaninglessness of self-centeredness. In giving our lives to share in His Divine life through uncompromising devotion and the obedience of faith, we open up the vast eternal cosmos and we go from the darkness of deception to the true enlightenment.

In fact, we find there, underneath all the rubbish of false promises what our hearts and minds were yearning for. Love. Not a love that fades but a love that burns so brightly, it has the energy of a trillion stars. It is a love that burns sin from our souls and sets us free. And that is worth giving up a life time of illusory freedoms.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

MY PLEA TO THE WOMEN WHO MARCHED ON WASHINGTON


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After God had formed the earth and the stars, the sun and the moon; after the oceans were teaming and the skies were filled with the creatures of flight; after He had breathed the animal kingdom into existence and after the Creator had made a man in His own image, God crowned all that He had made with a creature of unsurpassed radiance. God gasped at her glory. Only then did He announce for the cosmos to pause and look upon the woman.
"Behold," God announced, "My creation is finished and it is very good!"
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To the precious women—the mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, neices and granddaughters who marched on Washington yesterday, (specifically the speakers and those who placed those depraved, bizarre pink caps on themselves in protest. I have no problem with being pro-women and protesting Trump.)

I must cry out and ask you:

Who has done this to you? 

Who has convinced you to display such depths of self-loathing?

You have fully and willingly submitted to having your eyes blinded! You, who have so eagerly tossed aside your limitless capacity to love, that you would form a mob to overthrow your own gender?

Why would you wish your sex to commit genocide with such irrational disgust for your own womb? To be at enmity with your own body and the body of the innocent unborn? Your movement is nothing but reckless, visionless self-carnage!

What deceiving snake has whispered into your gullible ears that your power derives from casting off all that is beautiful of womanhood and convinced you that femininity is to be crushed? 

You debase yourself in order to protest men debasing you! 
You demand men and the government give you rights that you freely have trampled underfoot.

You have tossed aside your glory to become all that you claim you hate in men.

Your anger and lust for power have given you over as silly pawns to your greatest enemy and you do not care. You would rather publicize your laughable, ridiculous "victimhood" to the world than live in a way that would generate respect. A
s long as you can vent your uncontrolled emotions in a spectacle, it doesn't matter to you that the majority of women who did not join your vulgar revelry will be painted into your hellacious picture of women. 

Do not fool yourself that you were courageous. 
You may have had the eye of the world for a moment. But ultimately, you have made your movement irrelevant and all thinking, decent people will no longer take you seriously. The shame of your behavior will linger far longer than your demands. All you have left yourselves, to make your voices heard, is to sink even lower and screech even louder.

Soon the world will weary of your mindless, meaningless tantrums and the next, wiser generation of young women will abandon your pathetic movement to embrace the glory that you stole from them. 

I call out to you my sisters to no longer be deceived. 

Return to the true feminine that inspired
princes to launch a thousand ships for you, that infinite power that excites and entices in men a passion that would write sonnets and sing your praises--the womanly charm that stirs in men's hearts to shed their blood to protect you and the children you bare. Rouse the noble masculine in men, not by your vicious spewing, but in your alluring gentleness. 

Return to the lofty position that made men die to civilize the world for you. 

With joy embrace the children you were created to bare and live so that your children will call you blessed. You will never find lasting joy in this indecent, coarse behavior. 

Open your eyes and your intellect and look upon yourself as God looks upon you. You have flung yourself to the dogs and handed out your treasures for free making yourself far more stupid than whores, when God created you to be queens! Value yourself again--for you are precious beyond limit. You have within you greatness as a woman and a mother and wife. Love your self again and that can only happen with humble submission to God.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Brief Review of Gregg Allison's Book : Roman Catholic Theology & Practice: An Evangelical Assessment

I don't review books. I am just a layperson who became Catholic in 2008 and who wants to write about my life and, right now, my life is about finishing up this book. 

Therefore, this will not be a scholarly review, just a few thoughts. 

I have a family member who converted into the Reformed Calvinist faith and to have a book that compares and contrasts Catholicism and Calvinism is helpful for me to understand her faith. This person absolutely believes with all her sincere heart that Catholics are lost and they teach a false gospel. I would like to be able to dialogue with her someday about her erroneous understanding of Catholicism. (Anyone reading this: please pray for this situation.) Hence, why I thought this book might be helpful. 


What is the book?

The author, Dr. Allison, pulls passages from the Roman Catholic Catechism and gives a Protestant assessment of it. I applaud his efforts to actually use the catechism because so many Protestants, who speak with great authority about Catholicism, use only anti-catholic propaganda or cite Catholic authors who--intentionally or not--give a false testimony about their faith.

The book is fair. He didn't seem to be looking for that "gotcha" moment many Protestants scan for when reviewing Catholic beliefs in order to expose the "Romanists" for the great whore of Babylon they believe their church is. 

Dr. Allison also attempts to understand the broader worldview of the Catholic and paints a fairly accurate picture of the framework by which the Catholics understand the Bible and their Church.
Most Evangelicals are not aware of the nature-grace connection and the Church-as-the-mystical-Body-of-Christ that Catholics base their interpretation of scripture upon. Most Protestants simply pull individual threads (doctrines and dogmas) out of the tapestry and then don't understand why that thread makes no sense to them. Dr. Allison gives a good introduction to how Catholics think.

And thank you, Dr. Allison, for writing that Catholics do not re-sacrifice Christ at the mass!
However, it is usually the error of the author that impel people to write a review. So, keep in mind that any criticism on my part is about five percent of the book. (That is always hard to get across as one is criticizing.... Sorry, Dr. Allison.) 

I will not be making any reference to where Calvinism is theologically wrong. Obviously, to have embraced Catholicism and rejected my Protestant roots, I think the Reformed movement is absolutely unbiblical. I will only address where I think Dr. Allison got it wrong in his assessment of Catholicism. 

As impressive as his attempt, the author still doesn't quite get Catholicism. Allison still propounds the myth that Catholics believe salvation is synergistic--that it is a work of God and man. It's a tough thing for Protestants to really understand, I know. For Catholic believe in freewill. Christians do make a choice. We do not believe salvation is thrust upon us by a God who predestined us to be saved no matter what we want. But we also believe that God's grace is sufficient. We are justified by our faith. 

Dr. Allison's misunderstanding is forgivable for he sees the world through Calvinist lenses. I freely admit I don't get Calvinism. For, to me, it seems unbiblical, mean-spirited and paints a picture of an arbitrary, unloving God. So I am still attempting to work on this from my side. 

Besides the salvation model, here are a few other points:

On page 48, Allison writes that evangelicals take sin more seriously; then on the next page he quotes another author who claims that Catholics have a "mild concept of sin."

Completely wrong. I can't imagine anyone knowing Catholicism and thinking they don't take sin very seriously. However, we are not obsessed nor oppressive in our beliefs. We are very reconciliation-oriented

He doesn't quite understand the hierarchy of Catholicism. But I don't think it is a big enough deal to comment further here. 

It is in the conclusion of the book where things go off rail into the bizarre. 

In chapter fourteen, "Evangelical Ministry with Catholics," Dr. Allison gives suggestions on how to convince Catholics they are wrong and Protestantism (specifically Calvinism) is right. He claims these things work, but I would suggest that they work with only Catholics who do not know their faith.

He tells evangelicals to really stress to the Catholic the depravity of man. 

If that works, I would not just be surprised but really sorry for the poor person trying to be convinced of such a dreadful thing. 

He suggests that the evangelical should insist that the Catholic Church isn't the original church Christ began. 

That would work. However, I don't know how a Protestant would actually do that. You can't prove it historically or biblically. Just insisting that it is true because that is the Calvinist belief isn't enough.

And if the Catholic Church isn't, then it would be the Orthodox Church--but never, ever could it be the Protestant Church. So I have to ask, what would the point of throwing out that erroneous belief be? If the Catholic Church isn't the Church Christ started then you would have to throw out the Bible because the Catholic Church put it together in the late fourth century. The evangelical would be cutting off his own nose to spite his face. 

Dr. Allison writes that all a Catholic needs to become Protestant is exposure to scripture and to "become familiar with the person and work of Jesus Christ."

Now I understand that this university teacher of theology and Roman Catholicism had literally no idea what he is writing about. Catholicism from front to back, up and down, diagonally, backwards and infused into everything is our Blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. If he claims to have read the Catechism and then wrote those words, I have to assess that Dr. Allison can't see the forest through the trees.

Then on page 456, I just had to stop reading to ponder the strange encounter the author suggests. He says evangelicals need to ask a Catholic a critical question, "Have you ceased to rely on all of your own efforts to earn God's love and forgiveness?"

Did the author actually ever ask such a demeaning, insulting and unnecessary question to a believing Catholic? What was their response? I  hope it was gentle and Christlike because that is how a Catholic is taught to respond and how most Catholics responded to my deeply prideful and elitist questions when I entered RCIA. However, the question shows a strange blindness to Catholic beliefs that should have been healed when he read the catechism.

Then, he tells the evangelical reader to assess how the Catholic answers the above question and if "the person grasps the importance of faith but is still committed to adding something to faith alone for salvation--[it] signifies that the person is not yet ready to embrace Jesus Christ." 

I sat back non-plussed. What tragic judgmentalism! The equipoise of the book just toppled and at that moment I realized the author simply judged Catholics by the people who were raised in it but did not understand it. What if Catholics judged Calvinists by its adherents who didn't understand it? 

If you wish, as a Catholic, to understand how a Calvinist sees your theology, the book is helpful. You might want to say a rosary before you read the conclusion. Calvinists are sincere and they mean well. 









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