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I also suspect that the emergence of the philosophy of personalism as a driving force in the change in perspective on many Catholic issues also allowed this “personal relationship” idea to enter the minds of Catholics who have been exposed to Protestant thinking.
The book is , by Sherry Weddell; it has a charismatic bent and is liberally sprinkled with the phrase, “a personal relationship with Jesus.” Though this essay is not meant to be a book review, I shall rely on many examples from Ms.
Weddell’s work, as it illustrates very well the thinking behind what appears to be a current trend in the “New Evangelization.” The basic assumption of the people who ask others whether they have a personal relationship with Jesus—and the premise of Ms.
Steve Wood also points out (emphasis in original): In my experience as a Protestant, all the Catholics who had a conversion in a Protestant setting lacked a firm grasp of their Catholic faith.
In twenty years of Protestant ministry, I never met a Catholic who knew that John 3: 3-8 describes the sacrament of Baptism.
They stress the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus and the reward of eternal life.
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Most of the Catholics who attend these services are not accustomed to hearing such direct challenges to abandon sin and follow Christ.And yet, that call to conversion is heeded mightily in Protestant settings.Catholics seldom hear the message that they are sinful, and so they see no need for the sacrament of reconciliation (“I haven’t killed anyone” being a common excuse for not going to confession).Let’s consider the implications of asking whether one has “a personal relationship with Jesus.” Frankly, the question is not one that has a Catholic meaning.The object of the question is more likely to be “me” or “I” than it is Jesus, and in American Protestant circles, the phrase is spoken in reverent tones, as if those words alone are sufficient for salvation.It wasn’t hard to convince them to disregard the sacraments along with the Church that emphasized the sacraments.The Book of Proverbs says: “He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prv ).However, such an expectation can lead to false “epiphanies,” and many saints counsel against having a desire or expectation to receive this type of spiritual consolation.Therefore, it is not necessary—or even desirable—to have a “turning point” or an “overt conversion experience” to be a Catholic in good standing, who does, indeed, have a “relationship with Jesus.” But people are drawn to and “convinced” by conversion experiences. In an article entitled “How I Led Catholics Out of the Church,” Steve Wood, a convert to the Church, recounts his own extensive experience at facilitating such conversions when he was an Assembly of God youth minister: Most Protestant services proclaim a simple gospel: repent from sin and follow Christ in faith.Weddell’s book—seems to be that most Catholicshave such a relationship; and this is what they need in order to be “intentional disciples” who spread the Good News (and, presumably, bring converts into the Church).The problem with this approach is that it has a distinctly “Protestant” ring to it; that is, the emphasis is on “me ‘n’ Jesus,” with less emphasis on understanding the teachings of the Church that Jesus instituted.