by Reviewed by Marvin J. Newell
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.”
By Bob Sjøgren and Gerald Robison. Gabriel Publishing, P.O. Box 1047, Waynesboro, GA, 30830, 207 pages. $9.99.
—Reviewed by Marvin J. Newell, professor of intercultural studies, Moody Graduate School, Chicago, Ill.
I own both a cat and a dog. They are complete opposites. Sjøgren and Robison use these animals’ opposite mindsets to stake their case. 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.” The basic premise is that a Cat Christian thinks mainly of himself, living out the mantra, “It’s all about me. God blesses me so that I can enjoy the fullness of life that God intended for me.” Dog Christians, on the other hand, are focused on and passionate about God. They desire to see God glorified in their lives and in the lives of all others. Life is not about “me,” but about him.
Sjøgren and Robison are careful to state that Cat Theology is not necessarily incorrect, but it is incomplete. Cat Theology stops short of the greater goal of being a blessing to others, leaving God’s ultimate goal for people incomplete. It focuses only on what God does for us and not on what God wants to do in and through us. It misses the point that God’s blessings are for a purpose—to reflect his glory, to be a blessing to people of every tongue, every tribe and every nation. Dog Theology, on the other hand, sees all things ending in the glory of God—that is the end goal. Everything else we do is merely a means toward this end.
The core chapters are devoted to the ten dangers of Cat Theology. Topics such as feel-good theology, suffering, fairness, “winner’s-circle gospel,” wrong priorities, and Christian humanism are dealt with in a fresh way that causes even the most seasoned theologian or missionary to ponder if he or she has not unwittingly been affected with this self-centered mindset. Implications for missions are skillfully interwoven throughout, making this discussion a treasure house for mission application.
Sjøgren and Robinson admit in the Epilogue that they have purposefully overstated their case in some parts of the book. But they have done so for a reason: Cat Theology has permeated the Western Church for so long that it takes a book like this to begin to turn the tide of prevalent self-centered theology, a “Christian humanism.”
I was disappointed with this book in only two regards. One is the omission of how the different ways Cat and Dog theologies would deal with the subject of discerning God’s will. I mention this because it would naturally have been an appropriate discussion in the mix of all the other related topics the authors covered. The other disappointment is that the book contains several grammatical and spelling errors that should have been edited before publication. When the book goes to its second printing, as I am sure it will, these will need to be corrected.
At first the book’s title made me skeptical about its contents. But once I began reading it, it was one book I could not put down. Its message is so important I now require all my missions students to read it, and recommend missionaries and mission committees to do so as well.
Check these titles:
Piper, John. 2003. Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich,: Baker Book House.
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