Think much of a personal relationship with God? There’s an interesting discussion at the online version of Homiletic and Pastoral Review about it. Sherry Weddell takes some heat for her treatment of Catholics. But I think the treatment is suspect and Ms Weddell’s approach is sound, even if to some it sounds “Protestant.”
Dr Jay Boyd:
In the end, the phenomenological and personalistic construct of a “personal relationship with Jesus” leads to relativism. After all, implicit in the notion of a “personal relationship” with the Lord is the conclusion that one can define that relationship as one pleases. It’s personal, after all! This is a false notion of what a relationship with Jesus truly entails; it implies that one must “feel” something.
This conclusion is a big stretch. The writer has offered a long essay to make a case that the “Catholic” way is something beyond Protestantism and beyond what we “feel.” I’m unconvinced. There’s some grousing about the new evangelization, about bad-mouthing passive believers, and in the commentariat, some unchristian and unfounded accusations. I’m not surprised that Forming Intentional Disciples (reviewed on this site here) catches some bother from some Catholics. It takes a good and fair poke at many sacred cows. Thing is about Catholicism: we don’t worship cows.
All a personal relationship means is something that’s person-to-person. It usually involves affect. But there are other elements: service, sacrifice, conscious choice. There’s a serious misunderstanding when people misinterpret “personal” for being “emotional.” The truth is that many millions of non-Catholics have personal, spiritual, vibrant, engaging, true, and salvific relationships with God. If that rankles, I have a Luke 15 story to tell you that will bother you even further.
I don’t have a problem with people, including myself, having a personal relationship with God. I confess great surprise that some Christians would object.