Monday, October 22

Beware the cat inside your soul

October 20, 2007


THE NEWS JOURNAL of the Detroit News.

The joke: A dog says, "You pet me, you feed me, you love me, you must be God."
A cat says, "You pet me, you feed me, you love me, I must be God."

When evangelist Bob Sjogren (pronounced "SHOW grin") of Richmond, Va., heard the punch line, it was an eye-opener.

"That's it," he says. "That's the American church. There's a tidal wave of me-ism out there."

Or, to put it in pet terms, there's too much catlike self-centeredness and not a lot of doggie glorifying of God.

That's a major thesis of "Cat & Dog Theology: Rethinking Our Relationship with Our Master" (Gabriel Publishing, $12.99), a book Sjogren wrote with his friend, Gerald Robison. They also created a DVD that churches like Newark United Methodist Church in Newark, Del., have used in adult education classes.

Haig Stubblebine of Newark United believes the dog and cat metaphor stimulates plenty of interest.

"There's a little bit of dog and cat in each of us," says Stubblebine, who led a workshop on the topic at the church.

The authors agree.

"Odds are you aren't either," they write. "You are somewhere in between."

Considering that there are so many pets in so many homes, people tend to smile at the analogy. Cats tend to be aloof and self-centered. Dogs are warm and have no trouble looking to a higher authority.

To the authors, the analogy goes farther. Cats are like Christians who always want to feel blessed and feel that life is fair. But what if a person's life becomes like Job's?
For many, he says, "our faith is three thousand miles wide and half an inch deep. Most church members pray for three minutes a day, most pastors for five minutes.

"When we do, what's on our minds? We want a bigger house, a nicer car, a prettier spouse.

"We want to get from birth to death in an easy way. Well, I've got news for you, that's cat, cat, cat. And it may not be what life has in store. So we might want to think about changing this me-ology to a theology that makes room for everything life offers, even when it's tragedy and loss."

It's not that wanting a blessed life is wrong, he says, it's just not a complete view of how God might decide to glorify a life.

What kind of Christian are you? A cat or a dog?

• God is lord

• Serve God whatever comes

• Hungry to worship

• An obedience theology

• Knows hell exists

• Repentance is in; holiness is in

• A job is an opportunity for ministry

• Blessings are to be passed on


• I am lord

• Serve God when it's fun

• Hungry to be entertained

• A feel-good theology

• Can't believe in hell

• Repentance is out; self-esteem is in

• A job is a means of wealth

• Blessings are to be hoarded

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