There are loads of Roman Catholics here in Louisville. Our neighbors on both sides of us are Roman Catholic, so I’m thrilled to see the publication of Chris Castaldo’s Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Roman Catholic. I would commend this book to anyone interested in seeing the gospel believed by Roman Catholics.
Chris was kind enough to stop by here for a blog tour for the new book, and I trust you’ll benefit from our exchange:
Jim, it has been a pleasure getting to know you over these past several weeks. Thanks for the privilege of this blog tour “visit.”
1.) Do you think Holy Ground would be a good book to hand to a Roman Catholic neighbor still active in the Catholic Church?
Yes, I wrote Holy Ground with Catholics in mind, with a commitment to representing them accurately and fairly. Catholic scholars and laypeople, including some author friends, read the manuscript throughout its composition and offered feedback to ensure that this was the case.
2.) Why did you write Holy Ground?
It’s mostly an outgrowth of my ministry at College Church. Several years ago I noticed some folks from our church were approaching Catholic friends in one of two ways: either attacking them like foaming-at-the-mouth pit bulls or with such open-mindedness that their brains seemed to have fallen out of their heads. Therefore, I taught a class entitled “Perspective on Catholicism” intended to bring more biblically informed balance. With the Lord Jesus as our model, the class sought to maintain the virtues of “grace and truth” in relation to Catholic friends and loved ones (John 1:14). The material eventually became a manuscript and, thanks to Zondervan, Holy Ground was born.
3.) Do you think evangelicals should actively seek to evangelize Catholics?
Yes indeed. And I also think that evangelicals must regularly evangelize evangelicals, and, for that matter, I must constantly evangelize myself. In other words, we need to reflect upon the gospel beyond the point of our personal conversion; every day I must remind myself of Jesus’ death and resurrection and who I am in light of that. Since man looks only on the outward appearance and the Lord looks at the human heart, I don’t presume to know the nature of my Catholic friend’s faith. Yet, precisely because I’m an evangelical—a person whose life is dedicated to embodying and proclaiming Jesus, the Evangel—I’m committed to evangelism, even among Catholic friends and family.
4.) What are the distinct features of Holy Ground that separate it from other such books?
Among evangelical books that address Catholicism, Holy Ground has a couple of features that make it unique. First, many such books convey an unkind attitude. The doctrinal emphasis of these works is commendable, but the irritable tone rings hollow and fails to exhibit the loving character of Jesus. It’s the tone that my seminary professor warned against when he said, “Don’t preach and write as though you have just swallowed embalming fluid. As Christ imparts redemptive life, so should his followers.” This life is communicated in the content of God’s message and also in its manner of presentation. Therefore, I seek to express genuine courtesy toward Catholics, even in disagreement.
Second, most books on Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism emphasize doctrinal tenets without exploring the practical dimensions of personal faith. Important as it is to understand doctrine, the reality is there’s often a vast difference between the content of catechisms and the beliefs of folks who fill our pews. Holy Groundis concerned with understanding the common ideas and experiences of real-life people.
Hopefully, as a result of reading Holy Ground, people will have a deeper grasp of the gospel’s wondrous grace and more ardent commitment to the enterprise of embodying it as a vibrant witness among Catholic loved ones and friends.
Thanks again Jim for the privilege of this exchange. Blessings to you and yours!