Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, May 24, 2013


1) A 2012 Reform interview with Keith Ward in which he talks about his own beliefs, including about his conversion, about being a priest, and about universalism ....

[...] There was some controversy when Rob Bell, a popular US pastor, came out in support of Christian universalism – it could be that everyone will be saved through Christ. Do you agree?

Yes, that is exactly what I think. Pope John Paul II said: “We cannot guarantee that everyone will be saved but we should certainly hope for it and pray for it.” It is the standard Catholic view these days.

I am a hopeful universalist, just like Karl Barth and Karl Rahner, two of the greatest theologians of the 20th Century, probably. They both agreed that you can be hopeful of universal salvation but not say definitely that it will happen ....

2) A 2010 Reform interview with Rob Bell. I especially liked what he said here, given my own feelings about the amount of money the Catholic Church spends on buildings like the Taj Mahony ....

[...] Why the very simple décor and plastic chairs [at Bell's then church]? Lakewood Church in Houston spent $95 million dollars refurbishing their sanctuary. This is very different.

Ours is probably as nice as their storage closet!

So you’re purposely steering away from associating church with the building?

If you’ve travelled just a bit, you’re less impressed with American altars to spiritual achievement. If someone wants to build a really nice building then that’s fine. The problem for us is that we have a lot of people in our congregation who are having trouble paying the rent and their food bill. We’ve been trying to help out with a microfinance bank in Burundi and we’ve engaged with people who are living on less than a couple of dollars a day.

It becomes hard to justify expenditures when the world is suffering like it is.

In fact, what we have here is extravagant on a global scale. I was in Costa Rica and saw a church where they don’t have any walls because they can’t afford them. It’s all a matter of perspective ....


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