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Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Do Catholics believe that we need to have a personal relationship with Jesus as our Pentecostal or evangelical brothers and sisters preach?

Thomas Ryan, CSP Answers:

Yes, we do. What makes Christians unique from other monotheists like Jews and Muslims, for example, is the belief that who God is and what God is like, we find most clearly in Jesus. So for Christians, the way to God is through Jesus and in the power of his Holy Spirit.

Not cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus would be like buying a house and being handed the keys to it, and then trying to get into the house without using the door. Pentecostal and evangelical piety really gives central importance to putting the key in the door, opening it, and stepping inside to enjoy the warmth and intimacy of home, of life-in-God through Jesus. Catholic piety stresses this, too. The best example is the centrality of the Eucharist in Catholic life. Who calls us to prayer? Whose life and teachings do we listen to in the gospel? Who presides at the table? Who offers his body and blood as food and drink for our journey home? If Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life,” and we’re neglecting the relationship with him, then it’s hard to see how we’re really “Christ-ian”.

The Author : Thomas Ryan, CSP
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP, directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in Washington, D.C.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Roaming Catholic

    On the other hand, we also need the community of faith, which I think is the part that Catholics emphasize more, certainly in our liturgy. So while there is undoubtedly a personal dimension to being Christian, it can’t be reduced to that.

  • Tyler M.

    So if you have Jesus and Jesus has repeatedly touched the unclean and made them clean, the ultimate sacrificial lamb for our sins, why do we need purgatory…and if we have purgatory, why do we need Jesus?

  • Katy


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