I'd like to read what others think about this. I don't recall if I've mentioned this here before, but one of the things that drove hubby and me out of an Evangelical Free church several years ago was this new "Cat and Dog Theology." "Cats" are me-centered and "dogs" are God-centered. Apparently it's become quite popular in Protestant churches, but the theology appears very Calvinist:http://unveilinglory.com/index.php?o...id=31&Itemid=1http://www.zimbio.com/Maximizing+our...t+Dog+Theologyhttp://www.unveilinglory.com/dmdocs/notes.pdf
Many of the things they say are true: The Church is full of a lot of materialism, man-centered worship, lack of passion for the things we're supposed to be passionate about, God as a cosmic slot machine, expectation of a life of ease and plenty. But where it falls apart for us is the teaching about God. Some examples:
--It's a "cat" thing to focus on the suffering of people who go to Hell. Rather, we're to do the "dog" thing and focus on the praise God won't get from the people who are in Hell.
From a Cat and Dog sermon titled "It's All About Him":
In 1 Chronicles 21 Satan prompted King David to count his fighting men. The Lord wasn't pleased for He wanted the glory for giving military victories. But David swelled with pride, in himself, his country, and his men and took the glory of God. So it was the Lord, not Satan, who sent a plague and killed 70,000 of David's chosen men, military leaders and believers from the nation Israel. Let's listen in on the conversation these men might have had with God. Men: Lord, why did you bring us all home at once? We weren't even fighting a war.
Lord: David sinned.
Men: What? David sinned and we were all punished for his sin?
Lord: I don't see bringing you home into my presence as punishment but that's what I did. [Note from me: This was Old Testament--when everyone went to Hades.]
Men: Oh Lord, we're sorry. You're wonderful. but why didn't you take him home?
Lord: Because I had a greater plan for his life.
Men: What about our lives?
Lord: I had a plan for your lives as well.
Men: Well, what was it?
Lord: To die when David sinned, and to serve to bring about his repentance.
Men: But Lord, that just doesn't seem fair.
Lord: Well, I have never run My kingdom based on fairness, I run it for my glory.
God uses all nations, both good and bad, for His purposes. When God wanted to take the gospel message past Jerusalem He persecuted his people in that city to spread them throughout the Roman Empire. When He wanted to extend the gospel message past the Empire He sacked Rome with barbaric tribes from the north that scattered Christians from Ireland to China. What does that say for America? Can you think for a more historically accurate, God-honoring way to take the gospel to the Muslim world than to scatter the church, perhaps even the American church? After all, it's not about America. It's All About Him.
Let's ask some questions: Did God love the first nine generations [of Israelites living as slaves in Egypt] as well as the tenth one He freed? (Absolutely)
Did God have a plan for their lives? (Definitely)
What was God's plan for their lives? (To be born a slave, to live as a slave, and to die a slave.)
Because God used their captivity to teach future generations to be kind to people from other countries. Because It's All About Him....
Would you be willing to be a slave for the glory of God? What if God wants to sell you into slavery so He can position you for His glory, like Joseph? ...Suppose it is God's will that you be stoned to death like Stephen? ...As a woman would you be willing to live in southern Sudan, to be raped, mutilated, homeless and hungry if your being on the front lines of spiritual war brought great glory to God?
Other things we heard as our pastor preached Cat and Dog Theology:
--Every single thing God does is primarily driven by a passion for his own glory (which was defined as reputation). This includes the Cross.
--Even if God did not have all these wonderful attributes--love, compassion, caring, blessing us, etc.--we should still glorify him because he is God.
--Even if we didn't sin, Christ still would have died on the Cross because it was for God's glory.
--If I recall correctly: It's "catlike" to wish your loved one to recover from a terminal illness; God has a plan you may be wanting to thwart.
I remember seeing a couple of years ago an argument between John Piper (Calvinist author) and an Orthodox writer about the Indonesian tsunamis. Piper said it was for God's glory; the Orthodox writer took offense at this. I don't know if this argument is still posted on the Web; I don't remember where it was.
Week after week after week, the pastor made God sound more self-centered and less like a loving Father; my husband felt like just a tool being used for God's purposes, not someone God cared about as a person. After all, if God wanted to kill you for His own glory, who were you to complain that wasn't fair?
And yet the pastor seemed to wonder why we didn't consider this a wonderful theology that made us more in love with God. We watched in disbelief as other members of the church embraced it and began teaching it to others. Even now, members from that church--which is now gone--propagate this doctrine, and Cat and Dog Theology has become quite popular in the American Church.
My opinion is, this "theology" is the product of modern American Protestantism mixed with Calvinism, not the theology of the ancient Church. To summarize, God created us for communion. The Calvinists say we're saved from Hell for God's glory; I've seen how this ultimately leads to the doctrine of double predestination. Cat and Dog Theology said we are supposed to hunger for God's glory; from what I understand, in Orthodoxy, we are to hunger for God Himself. As we come together as a congregation to worship God, and sing praises and glory to Him (since this is a good and worthy thing to do), our worship culminates in the Eucharist. Our hunger and thirst for God is satisfied as we take His body and blood into our bodies in an intimate union which has even been compared to a man and his wife becoming one. Out of this pours our honor, glory and praise to God, and we desire to become more and more like Him and help others to do the same. So just because we do not focus on glory above everything else, hardly means that we are "cats." But so much of what I have heard and read from Reformed sources makes it sound like we are robbing God of His glory if we do not focus on His glory above all else.
The Latin church taught that the Incarnation happened because man sinned. The Greek Fathers wrote that it would have happened even if man had not sinned, but their reasoning was, God wanted intimate union with man. This is not what my pastor said!
Also, Cat and Dog Theology says "everyday life was designed to be one big worship service" and goes on to ask, What does God get when you hug a child, see a sunset, listen to music, eat a chocolate covered strawberry, etc. etc. However, this is not what worship is all about. Such experiences can show us God exists, and it is good to remember all of it is possible because of God's goodness. But worship "reflects the fullness of Truth," "strives to make holy," and all "flows from the one, essential act of worship and thanksgiving, the 'common union' with the Trinity and with God's people into which the 'community' enters through the reception of Holy 'Communion'. ...'Enjoyment' is not a goal in worship" (Orthodox Worship vs. Contemporary Worship). http://www.oca.org/QA.asp?ID=190
Another deficiency, which is a common problem, is that I read so much in the Cat and Dog writings and other Protestant writings about God, which makes God sound like one Person who is God-centered (John Piper writes that God is God-centered). In Orthodoxy, God is more commonly referred to as the Trinity and "Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Yes, Protestants are usually Trinitarian, but in common speech, oftentimes Christ and the Spirit seem more like subordinates, while the Father is God. One thing that is very important to note, which some proponents of Cat and Dog theology may be fully aware of but can be missed in the pews, is that the Persons are equal to each other and each are God; instead of seeking what's best for Himself, each member of the Trinity loves the other two completely and seeks to glorify them. This is demonstrated by the Trinity icon, in which the three members of the Trinity sit around a table in perfect love and communion, their heads bent toward each other. Looked at in this way, God is not self-seeking or self-loving, but loves and seeks what is best for the other, just as we are to do.
Cat and Dog Theology focuses our attention on God's glory (as in, reputation); Orthodox theology focuses our attention on God Himself. Cat and Dog Theology says that Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we might point to God and glorify Him; Orthodox theology focuses on the love of God in reconciling us to Him, showing us how to live, and bringing the suffering souls out of Hades so they could commune with Him forever. Cat and Dog Theology focuses on God's reputation (glory); Orthodox theology longs for the wondrously beautiful manifestation of God's energies (glory).
Cat and Dog Theology makes life's unfairness sound like it was deliberately caused directly by God; Orthodox theology realizes that the Devil is our enemy and the source of all evil, that we ourselves cause our own troubles (such as Hell, which we cause ourselves by rejecting the love of God). Cat and Dog Theology focuses on the lack of praise of God in Hell; Orthodox theology focuses on the suffering people will endure because they have rejected the love of God and cannot get away from it. Cat and Dog Theology would probably call Orthodox theology "me-centered cat thinking" because of its focus on our becoming like Christ and acquiring the Holy Spirit.
DH and I both saw this "theology" as offensive slander against God. The image of the Loving Father was diminished, replaced by a deity that did not seem to care about fairness, justice or mercy, so long as he was glorified. Some people are born to be killed for the glory of God??? Basically, this deity causes death and suffering so he can be glorified.