Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic
Christopher A. Castaldo
240 pp., 18.99
In recent decades remarkable strides have taken place in bringing evangelicals and Catholics together for mutually fruitful theological discussion. Chris Castaldo, who is on the staff of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, not only knows about and appreciates these discussions, but he refers to several of them as helping in the writing of this book. Yet as a former Catholic who came spiritually alive only after a personal encounter with Christ and who has ministered in several evangelical settings to many Catholics who share his experience, Castaldo is not primarily concerned about high-level theological discussions. Rather, he wants to probe the spiritual pilgrimages of people in the pew; he seeks a ground-level angle on issues that continue to differentiate the Catholic and evangelical streams. In this effort the book is entirely successful.
Much of it recounts Castaldo's own journey from faithful Catholic to energetic evangelical, and also the experience of others who have made the same journey. As a complement to these personal testimonies, the book also carefully examines the issues that continue to move a good number of Catholics toward evangelical churches. They include the importance of encountering Christ personally, the difficulties experienced in a church structure culminating in the papacy, and the experience of grace in day-to-day existence. Along with extended accounts of personal experiences that moved people to evangelical faith, however, Castaldo also includes appreciation for Catholic strengths (e.g., the concern for unity, the strong sense of the past) and awareness of evangelical weaknesses (e.g., the excess of informality with God, the dangers of superficiality). The book is filled with sane practical advice about how evangelicals might interact peacefully with Catholic family members and engage winsomely with Catholics in diverse settings. By providing a clear picture of reasons why ordinary lay Catholics have been drawn to evangelicalism, Castaldo makes a charitable, yet firmly evangelical, contribution to the best kind of Catholic-evangelical interaction.
Mark Noll is Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author most recently of The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith (InterVarsity Press).
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