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Some people have a gospel according cats.

And others have a gospel according to dogs.

The gospel according to cats has God saying, “Please me. Stroke me. Fear me. Don’t get too close to me. Love me. Serve me and I may pay attention to you on occasion.” It portrays God as someone who is fickle, preening, and demanding.

The gospel according to dogs has God saying, “I love everything about you. You never upset me. You never do anything wrong.  Don’t ever change. I don’t care what you do or who you are. You are my master and I love  you. I am so happy to be with you–no matter what!” It portrays God as someone desperate for affection, without standards and without any real concern for our behavior or well-being.

The gospel according to cats offers no grace. The gospels according to dogs expects no obedience. Take your pick: a Christianity without mercy or a Christianity without repentance. Neither are truly Christian.

Don’t trade the bad news of finicky love for the false gospel of unconditional affirmation. There is more to grace than “it’s okay” and more to the law than “shape up.”

Run to Christ. Be forgiven. Die to self. Get happy. Follow Christ. Live forever.


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16 thoughts on “The Gospel According to Cats and Dogs”

  1. a. says:

    Run to Christ. Be forgiven. Die to self. Follow Christ. Live forever…..
    …Get happy….”

    ….i.e. be blessed! Matt 5:3-11:13:16; Ps 84:4-5; Luke 14:15b

    Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Jer 17:7-8

  2. ChrisB says:

    And cats are evil.

  3. Andy says:

    “Run to Christ.”

    Yeah but the problem with this is we’re too much like cats: We run to Christ and then for no fathomable reason whatsoever we just have to run to another room in the house RIGHT NOW.

  4. Steve says:

    Are you familiar with this ministry – http://www.catndogtheology.com/. I heard about them several years ago . It’s a much more developed teaching series built around the “cat and dog” approach to theology.

  5. Claire says:

    Both approaches avoid relationship with Christ. Bonhoeffer has a lot to say about freedom & obedience…”The action of the responsible man is performed in the obligation which alone gives freedom and which gives entire freedom, the obligation to God and to our neighbor as they confront us in Jesus Christ.” I bet he liked dogs more than cats, too. Just sayin’.

  6. Nate says:

    Dog’s do obey! Cat’s are, well I probably shouldn’t say… :-)

  7. Eric says:

    This is all but plagiarized from Bob Shogren’s “Cat & Dog Theology” book. Though my assumption is that KDY is unawares of it.

  8. Matthew Cuthbert says:

    To Eric’s point, I truly hope KDY isn’t trying to pass this off as his own intellectual property.

  9. Kevin DeYoung says:

    I’ve never heard of the ministry http://www.catndogtheology.com. I’ve never seen the book “Cat & Dog Theology” and hadn’t heard of it until reading the comment above. Any similarities are purely coincidental.

  10. Art says:

    Actually, KDY gives clear differences from BSjogren’s philosophy. KDY makes the attitudes of cats and dogs likened to what humans expect God to be (either merciless or expects no obedience). Sjogren’s Cat/Dog Theology says that cats love the attention humans give them, therefore, they (cats) think they are God. Likewise, dogs love the attention humans give them, therefore, you (human) must be God. The conclusion is that we are cats if we pride ourselves over the way God loves us, and we are dogs if we worship God because He loves us. There is no plagiarism
    .

  11. Joan says:

    Having a therapy dog that recently passed the Canine Good Citizen and TDI tests, I must respond to Nate by saying that dogs obey in theory – until something more interesting than you comes along. :)

  12. a. says:

    Nate says: Dog’s do obey! Cat’s are, well I probably shouldn’t say…

    hhey,, the Lord doesn’t have anything bad to say about cats, but not so about dogs!
    Do not give what is holy to dogs Matt 7:6
    A dog returns to its own vomit 2 Pet 2:22
    Outside are the dogs Rev 22:15

  13. Richard UK says:

    Kevin

    “Run to Christ. Be forgiven. Die to self. Get happy. Follow Christ. Live forever”

    Have you died to self?.

  14. abhilash david says:

    Hits the nail on the head.

  15. Tina says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Glad to have come across this post as I was trying to look for another one you wrote. I loved the line, “Don’t trade the bad news of finicky love for the false gospel of unconditional affirmation.” It resonates so well with a post I recently wrote, “God’s Love is Better Than Unconditional.” http://wp.me/p4Yd9L-2J

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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