HOLY GROUND: Walking With Jesus as a Former Catholic
First-time author Chris Castaldo, a former Catholic raised on Long Island, New York, who also worked in the Catholic Church for years, has written a definitive and comprehensive primer that will help bridge the divide between evangelicals and Catholics. Readers from either side of this ever-broadening chasm will find Castaldo’s work both empathetic (to evangelicals and Catholics alike) and highly instructive.
Castaldo delves into his text by first offering perspectives on Roman Catholicism. He shares basic reasons why some Catholics become evangelicals and does so by examining five fundamental reasons. He explains that, when surveyed, the following issues repeatedly rose to the top of the list:
1. Every believer is called to full-time ministry.
2. Relationship with Christ must take precedence over rules keeping.
3. We enjoy direct access to God in Christ.
4. There is only one proper object of devotion: Jesus the Savior.
5. God’s children should be motivated by grace instead of guilt.
After establishing the primary reasons for Catholics migrating into evangelicalism, Castaldo then tackles each of these suppositions in depth. Readers will find HOLY GROUND replete with historical citations that bring further understanding as to how the Catholic Church developed its traditions and beliefs on matters in the “church” worldwide and for individuals.
Castaldo does a fine job capturing the spirit of Martin Luther’s treatises and gives an honest account of the man’s faults as well. This balanced approach to “reporting” both the strengths and weaknesses of this church reformer encourages further discussion between evangelicals and their Catholic counterparts. He similarly spends considerable space on evangelicals’ often harrowing attempts at browbeating Catholics with the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” that short-circuits any future communication because of “delivery” issues.
Other equally hot topics on which Castaldo delivers are the whole matters of being motivated by grace instead of guilt, speaking for God, the disagreement over the Papacy, and a brief look at the three types of Catholics (ex-Catholic, traditional Catholic, Evangelical Catholic).
Following his extensive and essential backdrop, readers will likely be most interested in section two, which specifies how evangelicals can relate to Roman Catholics best. Here, Castaldo opens with some telling objections Catholics have with evangelicals’ expression of faith. They frequently see evangelicals as embracing salvation as "Fire Insurance"; often they are too "Chummy Chummy" with God; they identify a sad lack of unity; and there is an undignified superficiality amongst the ranks when evangelicals support such incongruent oddities as an evangelical theme park.
Always balanced, Castaldo then moves into descriptions of the traditional, evangelical and cultural Catholic believers assisting evangelicals in better understanding these varying belief systems and lifestyles. Perhaps his most practical material challenges evangelicals to always, always communicate with grace and truth, citing a lovely visual of red light, yellow light and green light guidelines to help keep over-zealous Christians from killing the message through absence of love. From start to finish, Castaldo’s work is expertly conceived and graciously delivered, a sure “keeper” for evangelicals and those Catholics who love them.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe, author of STILL GOING IT ALONE: Mothering with Faith and Finesse, and Single Parenting Columnist (http://www.bizymoms.com/experts/michele-howe/index.html)
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