Rebuttal – Part 1: 10 Beliefs Christians Have That Really Mess Us Up

JoAnna Wahlund - Rebuttal Part 1


A few days ago, a friend sent me an article titled, “10 Beliefs Christians Have That Really Mess Us Up.” I read through the article and then clicked over the the author\’s “About Me” page, curious about his background and credentials. As it turns out, the author, Phil Drysdale, claims no formal training in theology or Scripture; he says he\’s just a regular guy who\’s not afraid to ask tough questions. He says, “If what I’m standing on is a solid foundation then it will stand. If not – then I’m glad to be shot of it!”

I\’m glad to hear Mr. Drysdale has this philosophy, because I found that most of his article contained inaccurate and flimsy reasoning. I have written this rebuttal in hopes that he will continue testing his beliefs and asking tough questions on his path toward Truth.

Belief #1 – I\’m just a sinner saved by grace.

Drysdale says: I grew up hearing frequently in church that we are sinners saved by grace. In one sense this is true… but the problem is we still identify with the past rather than the logical conclusion. A sinner saved by grace is by very definition no longer a sinner. We are saints. We have been made righteous. We must identify with the new nature, not keep dragging around the old.

My response: The only way you can say that someone is “no longer a sinner” is if that person once committed sin but no longer does. To my knowledge, no single person alive or dead fits that description, Jesus Christ and his mother Mary included.

We are all sinners, because we all commit sin. Accepting Christ as our savior doesn\’t mean we stop committing sin or stop being sinners. It just means that we are no longer condemned to death due to our sin, and that we are better equipped to fight against our sinful natures.

Perhaps Drysdale means that we shouldn\’t allow our past sins to define our present selves, and we can agree on that, but it\’s not how his belief comes across. He seems to be saying that we shouldn\’t acknowledge our past sins at all, but I think that is a dangerous road to go down. Look at Abby Johnson, for example – she\’s very open and honest about the sins of her past, but she\’s used that experience for good in helping other employees leave the abortion industry. Should she have moved across the country, changed her name, and pretended that her old self never existed? I think she\’s done a lot more good by choosing to learn from her past sins and warn others from going down the same path she did.

Belief #2 – God created us to worship Him.

Drysdale says: We are often told that we were created to worship God. But that’s not all that accurate really. Believing that creates a very warped image of God. Is God so insecure that He needed to create us to worship Him. God did not create man to have more beings worshiping Him… He is all sufficient in and of Himself. In fact, even if we didn’t worship Him the rocks would cry out. Rather, God created us to enjoy relationship with Him! It is in that place we will worship Him. We were made to be in relationship with God. Worship is a byproduct of that.

My response: Drysdale is falling into a typical Protestant paradigm – he\’s framing the answer is EITHER God created us to worship him OR God created us to enjoy a relationship with him. For Catholics, it\’s not either/or, but both/and. The very first paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life. (CCC 1).

Does God NEED us to love him? No, but that doesn\’t change the fact that we were created to love him. I don\’t NEED my children to love me, but by husband and I created them with the expectation that they would return the love we gave to them (which is different than creating them because we needed the love we gave to them reciprocated). And just like God, we will never stop loving them even if they cease to love us.

Belief #3 – I have to try hard to love God

Drysdale says: Have you ever read the “greatest commandment” and felt good about yourself? I’ve not. Reading “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” rarely makes me feel encouraged about the degree to which I love God! The truth of course is that Jesus was not giving us a rule to follow. No, He was summing up the law and showing us that we couldn’t love God in our own strength. It is because God loved us that we can love Him. Our job is not to love God more but to receive His love more. As we focus on God’s love for us our love for Him will in turn grow.

My response: If this isn\’t a rule to follow, why is it a commandment? Jesus was pretty clear that we had to keep the commandments. Again, Drysdale espouses a common Protestant misconception here – he seems to believe that love is nothing more than a feeling, and we don\’t get warm fuzzy butterflies in our stomachs every time we think of God, that means we don\’t love Him. The Catholic stand is that love is a decision, an action – love is a verb, not a noun. We show our love by our actions and our decisions. If we strive to follow God\’s will in every action of our daily lives, then we are loving him even if we don\’t have an accompanying emotional response.

Furthermore, like any relationship, it will flourish in direct proportion to the time you spend cultivating it. A garden won\’t grow if you only allow the sun and rain to fall upon it but don\’t spend time pulling out weeds and fertilizing the soil.

Belief #4 – I have to become more holy.

Drysdale says: What a funny notion it is to “become more holy”. Holiness by very definition is an either/or thing. You are either holy or you are unholy. So where do we get the idea that we can become more holy? Of course, as we study the scriptures we discover that we are holy! God has made us holy in Christ. Sure there is an outworking of that as we discover it. But we don’t become more holy rather we discover our holiness! In that place God will transform our lives and bring forth more good fruit.

My response: It\’s interesting to note that Drysdale says, “Holiness, but very definition is an either/or thing”… but he doesn\’t define holiness. I\’d like to know what his definition is and where he got it, because it seems a far cry from the traditional Christian understanding of holiness. We are holy people, yes, but we are constantly fighting a spiritual battle in which our sinful human natures want to quash and trample our holiness. As the Catechism says:

Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam\’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence\”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ\’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle. (CCC 405)

Belief #5 – It’s my job to change people’s actions.

Drysdale says: This might be really disappointing news to you… We can’t change people. God changes people. Not only that but it’s not our job to change people. Discipling people is not a process of getting them to clean up their act and stop sinning. Discipling is the process of helping people connect with God and renew their minds to the truth about who God is and who they are in Him. In that place, sure, they’ll stop sinning, but it is God who does the work… not you.

My response: I think that far too many Christians take this as a cop-out to avoid challenging others on tough subjects (for example: same-sex “marriage,” or abortion), instead claiming that “it\’s not my place to judge” (which is not true, because we are called to judge acts and behavior) or, as Drysdale says, “Only God can change people.”

Despite the fact that “Only God can change people,” we\’re still called to judge the acts and behaviors of other Christians and call them to repentance. God may use one of us as the instrument of His change. For example, during my conversion process to Catholicism, I was convicted by many of the testimonies I read online. Those people may not have written their stories with the intention of changing my actions, but God certainly used them to do so.

[I\’d hoped to address all ten of his beliefs in this post, but due to length I\’m going to stop here, and will address the last five in my next Catholic Stand post.]

© 2014. JoAnna Wahlund. All rights reserved.

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42 thoughts on “Rebuttal – Part 1: 10 Beliefs Christians Have That Really Mess Us Up”

  1. Pingback: REBUTTAL – PART 2: 10 Beliefs Christians Have That Really Mess Us Up : Catholic Stand

  2. Yes. In spite of Jesus’ admonition to “Judge not, lest you be judged”, and to remove the beam from our own eye before pointing out the splinter, in our own, it is real solid Christianity to judge and condemn others. We should also castigate the Pope for his wishy-washy statement, “Who am I to judge?”. Ah for the days of the Inquisition, when the church was not afraid to wipe sinners and heretics off the face of the earth.

  3. Joanna this is a wonderful article, with alot of insight. I so appreciate the excellent points you made. I love the quotes from the Catechism! I think Mr. Drysdale has gone past traditional Protestantism, and is relating the current pop culture Christianity that unfortunately many non-denominationals find so appealing. I thank God for the Catholic Church. Thanks again, and God bless.

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  5. The authors description of protestants must be from his own experience and does not explain the belief of protestants any more than the Catholic Church can be explained by the actions and beliefs of a single Catholic Church.

  6. “My response: The only way you can say that someone is ‘no longer a
    sinner’ is if that person once committed sin but no longer does. To my
    knowledge, no single person alive or dead fits that description, Jesus
    Christ and his mother Mary included.” St. Augustine of Hippo, for one. Adam, Abraham, and Moses. St. Paul. St. Peter. King David. The Blessed Virgin never committed a sin or had the stain of original sin; neither did the Holy Angels. St. John the Baptist never committed personal sin, but he had the stain of original sin; I suspect the same was true of St. Joseph. All the rest of the saints committed sin, but a SAINT IN HEAVEN no longer sins.

    1. And, of course, Jesus Himself never sinned at all. I hope that phrase”Jesus Christ and his mother Mary included” was a typo, because neither of them ever had sin, original or actual.

    2. Jesus and Mary never “once committed sin”, so indeed they do not fit that description (of past sinners who ceased to sin).

    3. That was my interpretation of what she wrote, but I agree that the phrasing was a bit awkward because I had to re-read the definition to understand her meaning.

  7. A quick peruse at this guy’s site makes me conclude that this poor fellow thinks he can be a Christian without, well, actually BEING a Christian.

    It’s as if he’s taken all of the challenging and intellectually difficult parts of faith and, rather than tackling them, simply asserted that they don’t actually exist.

    It looks to me like he’s attempting to reconcile his faith with “secular humanism.” I can see how it can be a temptation for him, as our education systems in Western societies are very much geared toward this way of thinking.

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  9. I must take serious exception to one categorical statement which you assert: “We are all sinners, because we all commit sin.” With a small bit of thought, this is absolutely untrue. I give my son as an example: he is a spastic quad, is non-verbal, non-mobile in any limb, has a cognition incapable of measurement. How is he a sinner when he is objectively incapable of sin or wrong doing, he just is.
    I am a disability advocate and know many people who are sp medically fragile and impaired from a young age or products of corrupted genetic codes that they are incapable of doing anything, never ,omd any sense of wrong doing. Their numbers are in the hundreds of thousands….original sin and concupiscence? When one is incapable of sin, one is also incapable of a sin, one is equally incapable of a propensity to sin. So other than in a solipsistic cosmology, there are people, like my son, who are not sinners nor do they commit sin….there are pure beings among us primates.

    1. Newborns are also psychologically and physiologically incapable of sin but were born into original sin. I disagree that being physiologically incapable of sin means equals being incapable of a propensity to sin. Your son and the other disabled people you list are very human and thus have a sinful human nature. If one of them were my child, I would make sure they were baptized.

    2. How can a child who is born with anencephaly (without a brain) be “capable of a propensity to sin.”? This is morally, ethically, physiologically, and religiously impossible. Being severely medically compromised is a human condition and having a sinful nature is illogical as applied to this population. I cannot understand and accept why anyone would attribute a quality like “propensity to sin” to a human who is pure essense. Makes no sense.
      Original sin? Well the RCC acknowledges that Genesis is an allegorical creation story…every religion has a similar creation myth. The RCC does not attribute Adam’s sin to anyone but Adam…no one is responsible for other’s wrongs. Original sin has no solid biblical basis was theorized by Origen and the Augustine chimed in in his treatise against Pelagius a British monk who came to Rome and believe that human nature was good. The Council of Origen put to rest the debate between Augustine and the Palagians. Neither the Jews who own the OT nor Eastern Orthodox bought this tainted view of man. A newborn is pure, born in the image and likeness of God, and both are free from the taint of a propensity to do evil….It’s time to reconsider the way we view humanity.

    3. Phil, you are free to believe anything you like but its wrong to come here and mischaracterize Catholic teaching. The CCC clearly defines original sin and we all have it and the medically affected children you mention here are fully human thus have the same inborn nature as the rest of us. I have likely met more anencephalic babies than the average person and baptism from original sin os just as powerful for them as for anyone.

    4. Phil, it’s not what your son was born with, it’s what he was born without, “Sanctifying Grace”. Stop judging him!

    5. Judging him? I am asserting the reality that he is pure and that his essence as a human being is complete. Anthropological human normalcy was achieved 60,000 years ago…are you claiming that human beings of the first 58,000 years of human behavioral normalcy were without the benefit of sanctifying grace because they were not baptized as Roman Catholics?

      No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them. Elie Wiesel

    6. Phil, I so sorry, but, here is the reality, you live in the flesh, in the natural. In what you can see, feel and touch. No judgement is judgement. Your truth is not truth, it’s based solely on your intellect. You said, “I am asserting the reality that he is pure and that his essence as a human being is complete”. Sorry Phil, he needs to be saved like everyone else! You are not God and your assertion means nothing, except, YOU are judging him good.

    7. @John…who are you to judge that I live in the flesh (even the Pope says “who am I to judge?”). I believe that I live in constant union with the Source; I do not solely rely on my intellect, but on my intuition, meditation and personal experience with the Source. Because a person is born they are saved because they are part of the Source and will always be energetically connected to All. . You are right however that I’m not God, but reflect on John 10:34

      “Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” John 10:34

    8. Phil, you’re hard to take serious when you quote scripture. Do you understand why I say that?

    9. Of course, because I am not a practicing Roman Catholic and because I question many assumptions of the Church, and because I never take at face value what was spoon fed me as a child. I believe every word that I write and practice and I would appreciate that people would address my specific questions that I raise and not level “ad hominem” speculation. Take me serious and answer my challenges…it would help both of us! One God, yet many paths….that is what you reject in my thinking.

    10. Phil, I don’t stay involved too long in chaise your tail arguments. I am a realist. You said, ” I believe that I live in constant union with the Source”. Where does your new age thinking come from? Who / what source?

    11. Phil, I’ll make a judgement about you, (I’m not judging your soul), somewhere along the line you got involved with the new age movement, or the like, maybe a Ouija board, Jehovah witness, something. What was it? No reason to hide it at this point, come clean!

    12. Sure, I’ll come clean with you and I have never hid anything. I was a Roman Catholic, baptized, etc. I was a member of a Roman Catholic religious order for 8 years and know the inside workings quite well, got a dispensation from my vows. Married, two kids, one totally disabled who I care for. Never been to a seance, played with a Ouija board, and call the police whenever I see JW’s coming by. I belong to no new age cult. do not place my faith in crystals. I have had a past life regression and have actually physically met several of my spiritual guides. I believe the energetic totality of ALL is God and that God is love…the energy which binds us all…you and I. Since you want a label, I would guess that I am a pantheist …God is ALL, everywhere and there are many roads to unite with his energy. No doubt you will view this as New Age, while it stems from the Egyptian mystery religions which pre-date Christianity by thousands of years … so not New Age, but Old Age.
      I read and research constantly, every day. That;s why I wish people would respond to my issues I raise, be they church history or scripture. The key is dialogue. Also, since my consciousness and soul are one…you are judging my soul….that you may do, that I do not do. Deal with the substantive issues I raise, not who you perceive me to be.
      I am not a troll as I use my real name, I have a facebook profile using my same real name and data and I maintain a blog using my real name, Now, that I have been clean, let’s discuss issues in a civil manner.

    13. Phil, How did this happen, “I have had a past life regression and have actually physically met several of my spiritual guides”

    14. @John654…Fr. Pierre Teilhard deChardin, a Jesuit paleontologist wrote in The Phenomenon of Man (1955) that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
      This should explain how…I would be be happy to share detail and I will respond at…otherwise we are diverting from my my original statements about the capacity to sin.

    15. Ok, let’s try again…how about Pope Benedict and a homiy he gave in 2009 praising deChardin as a model priest….On July 24, 2009, during his vacation in northern Italy, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a homily in the Cathedral of Aosta before Vespers. He commented on a passage of a Epistle of St. Paul (Rom 8:1-2). At the end of his commentary, he praised the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as a model for priests, attributing to him the idea of a cosmic liturgy, which he said was something they should aim to achieve.

      As you blithely dismiss the NCR, how about L’Osservatore Romano English edition online (July 29, 2009) for a text of the homily .

      And also, “Some of Teilhard de Chardin’s ideas came into conflict with certain officials in the Roman Curia and in his own Jesuit order. Specifically, Teilhard’s superiors thought that Teilhard’s views on the doctrine of original sin were contrary to Catholic doctrine. As a result, many of Teilhard’s writings were prohibited from being published during his lifetime. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said in July 2009: “By now, no one would dream of saying that [Teilhard] is a heterodox author who shouldn’t be studied.” You quote out-dated views of deCardin.

      PS awaiting for your e-mail

    16. Phil, thanks for the link to a “Traditional” site? As for e-mailing you, I think a public forum will be fine. I think there are people here who could help you that are more qualified than me. So, your guru is a Catholic Priest, and you don’t believe that Jesus Christ is God? You take one quote from Pope Benedict so as to confirm your position. Incredible! The Mass is more than Cosmic! You quote Popes, Scripture, dissident news papers, deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ, reject the authority of the Catholic Church, deny the Eucharist, deny the Priesthood and accept a “energy” of division, and you want to dialog with me. Phil, Jesus is God and I love Him! You need to listen to Jesus and HIS Church.

    17. Phil over the past months I have seen you attempt to dialogue with people here, and on the one hand that’s comendable. I don’t usually jump into the fray like this but I have a question. My question is are you really open to dialogue — or is it just a matter of coming against ideas that you don’t like? There is something there Phil which does not seem right. I don’t know, and only you can answer that.
      My main concern is that you seem to have made God in your own image instead of accepting the idea that we are made in His image. It seems like you have made your own god. If that is so — is is plain wrong, and you cannot rationalize yourself out of it.

    18. To answer your question, I am open to dialogue and communication and I interact with people who have a wide range of beliefs and I continue to search for answers which address issues of theodicy. I read, research and reflect om history, scholarship thru the ages and religion. I question that which contradicts history or that which demeans the value of others, regardless of the source.
      I do not make God into my my image , but I do beieve that I am part pf God as are all. I protest and reject the anthropomorphization of God….God cannot be known by the intellect, God long ago defined himself…I am Who am.
      I do challenge some religions beliefs about people like in this thread, I have maintained that the absolutely disabled are incapable of sin … well, the objection is based on original sin which a tradition and belief of Western Churches and yet not a belief of the Eastern Orthodox…so let’s dialogue and not dismiss each other.
      We should discuss ideas and beliefs and not make assumptions and judgments about those who challenge us.
      Blogging should be about ideas not assumptions about people’s motivations…we all look for the Truth.

    19. Phil, I accept what you have said about being open to dialogue, and I realize each person is entitled to their own opinion. I respect everyone, and I wish you and your family the best.

  10. Excellent! Thank you!

    There is something Drysdale says that really confuses me: “We have been made righteous”. Well, yes, from the Catholic perspective, our baptism makes us righteous, objectively. The grace of God makes us righteous, objectively. But I thought that Protestant theology (and I’m assuming that Drysdale subscribes to the basic tenets of the Reformation) does not subscribe to the concept of infused righteousness? It’s imputed righteousness that is the Protestant belief, correct? And if so, then we are not really “made righteous” after all. We are still (as Luther said) “snow-covered dung hills”. So, we look clean on the outside, but we are really still dirty underneath. In other words, we were not made clean and we are not righteous. And if that’s the case (as Luther held), then God is a liar (declaring us righteous when we are objectively still dirty).

    I’d be interested to know how he squares this, or if perhaps he holds a Catholic view on infused righteousness.

    I look forward to Part Two!

    1. “Snow-covered dung hills”? That sounds too much like whitewashed sepulchers, but the One who used that expression started the passage with “Woe!” (Matthew 23:27)

    2. Right. Those whitewashed sepulchers were the ones that were decidedly NOT righteous. That goes to my point.

    3. I’m just surprised Martin Luther would not see the similarity. He was an heresiarch, but I would not expect him to make such a ridiculous mistake.

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