Cat-ma and dog-ma

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Today was the first day of our church's annual missions conference. This is not the typical missions conference, with slideshows about specific missions work in specific countries. Instead, the aim of the conference is to shake up our understanding of the purposes of God, the central message of the Bible, the main point of the Christian faith. The aim of the conference is to help us replace cat theology with dog theology.

What's the difference between dog theology and cat theology?

A dog says: "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me. You must be God."

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

Cat theologians don't necessarily believe that they are God; they (we, really) just act that way. We search the Bible for God's promises of blessings. We come to church to learn how to have happier marriages, how to be better parents, how to have more satisfying careers. We critique the worship service on the basis of our tastes, whether it moves us emotionally, whether it meets our needs. Christianity is all about me, and theology gives way to "me-ology," a word that has a cat-like ring to it.

Dog theology doesn't deny that God seeks to bless his people, but it puts that fact into perspective. God blesses his people, so that ultimately all peoples (every tribe and tongue on the face of the earth) will glorify God, giving to him the praise and worship he is due. Christianity, particularly here in the U.S., is in need of a Copernican revolution -- the discovery that the universe does not revolve around us.

This could be another entry on the practical implications of Calvinism, because Reformed theology emphasizes that it isn't about me, and it isn't about you -- it's all about God and his purposes and his glory. If you understand that and live in light of it, it will change the way you order your life. If that understanding grabs hold of a church, it will change the way a church structures its programs, conducts its worship, and allocates its resources.

Our speaker, Gerald Robison, who is with a ministry called UnveilinGlory, pointed out that the Great Commission -- Jesus' command to make disciples of all the nations in Matthew 28 -- wasn't a novel notion, but God's intention to bless all the nations is evident from the very beginning of Scripture. When God makes covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, there is a "top line" promise and a "bottom line" promise. The top line -- "I will bless you" -- is certainly there, but it isn't the whole story. The bottom line is the purpose for the blessing -- "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Gerald took us through a number of other scriptures, showing that we had learned the top line well, but the bottom line was typically overlooked. For example, Psalm 67 -- your pastor might use verse 1 as a benediction:

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us

but the sentence doesn't end there. Here's the purpose for the blessing, in verses 2 and 3:

that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

In fact, the psalm is 75% about God being praised among all nations, and only 25% about God blessing his people. Christians tend to look at the Bible the way a high school student looks at the yearbook -- the first thing he turns to is his own picture. I read the Scriptures to see what it has to say about me and God -- and that is there and it is important -- but I tend to overlook that the bulk of it is about God and all the peoples of the earth.

Christ Presbyterian Church's missions conference will continue over the next three weeks -- here's the schedule. The notion of cat and dog theology and the lectures we had today were developed by UnveilinGlory -- you'll find the lecture notes here. (Acrobat Reader required.) The ministry has an online bookstore, where you can buy a multimedia version of the seminar if you can't go to see it in person.

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» Cat-Ma vs. Dog-Ma from Le Sabot Post-Moderne

Batesline Blog posts good stuff daily daily. Here's a great one: What's the difference between dog theology and cat theology? A dog says: "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me. You must be God." A cat says: "You pet me, you feed me, you... Read More

» Now HERE Is A Trend from Blogotional

When I discuss this with people deep into the trend, they tell me that we have to do what is necessary to attract people to the church. There's a problem though, people never seem to move past the "seeker" stage. Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 20, 2005 9:34 PM.

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