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What Does It Mean to Be a Chrisitan? A Debate

This book records a conversation between two philosopher-theologians with different ways of conceiving God and practicing Christianity.  One of the speakers is John F. Crosby, a personalist philosopher teaching at staunchly Catholic Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.  The other is Stafford Betty, a “New Thought” Christian recently retired from staunchly secular California State University in Bakersfield. Both think of God as personal, not some impersonal force out of Star Wars.  Both are prayerful men. 

Crosby’s primary subject is his own inner experience as seen through the lens of Catholic teaching—from Aquinas to Newman to his mentor Dietrich von Hildebrand.  Betty has spent much of his career looking outward at the world’s major religions, especially Asian, and has watered his garden with the insights of thinkers like Emerson and Tolstoy, and more recent pluralist theologians like John Hick, Huston Smith, Diana Eck, and Marcus Borg.

Crosby thinks that Betty has made serious mistakes with serious consequences that affect the way one prays and views the sacraments, while Betty thinks that Crosby’s conclusions owe too much to Church teaching and lack plausibility in the modern age.

Readers will find much to ponder in their many skirmishes, always delivered with respect and often outward signs of an old friendship, reaching all the way back to boyhood, that has weathered half a century. 

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