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Many picture God as the One who arbitrarily decides when to answer prayers, when to give special blessings and when to let people suffer. To run away from the problems that these images present, some turn to God as an abstraction, such as the Force. I hope that my book will offer the reader some direction in determining one’s own image of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My approach in writing Forgive 70 X 7: Our Forgotten Power was different. First, I decided to use the Bible (especially the Gospels) and history as my primary sources. But my primary purpose was to explain the basic teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clement T. DeWall

Clement DeWall is a graduate of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy and received a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Iliff School of Theology, Denver, Colorado. He has lectured in the US and Canada, and his books include Escaping the Mental Straightjacket and Saving Remarriage from Guilt-and-Punishment Theology. He is married with two adult children and two grandchildren and has retired from careers in ministry and data processing.

 

Booksandauthors.net: Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life? Who were your earliest influences and why?

Clement T. DeWall: I was born in Oklahoma and raised in Dodge City, Kansas, during my grade school years. Since my father was a retail store manager, we moved often. I spent about a year in Rapid City, South Dakota; then went to high school in Loveland, Colorado. I consider Colorado my home state.

In 1947 I lost my brother Calvin to rheumatic fever, which he got while in the navy. I was fourteen at the time, and my parents and I turned to religion for comfort and answers. Since one of my older brothers had become a Catholic, the Roman Catholic Church became our spiritual home, and all matters religious became of interest to me.

My first published writings were in magazines: articles for religious education or homilies for priests to use in Sunday sermons. This was in the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council raised my hopes for religious and spiritual renewal in all the Christian churches.

Later I became intensely interested in near-death and other extraordinary or paranormal experiences. Looking back, I remembered that my mother had many unusual psychic experiences; those memories, previously ignored, became more treasured, and I read extensively about the paranormal. As a result, my theology expanded to use a wider spectrum of human experience as its base.

 

Booksandauthors.net: Why do you write?

Clement T. DeWall: I believe that I have a message to convey and something new to say. In discussion groups my opinions and views have been well received. Whether I ever reach large numbers is not for me to say. I can derive satisfaction in knowing that I have had a positive influence on a few, just as others have influenced me. My friends and family have encouraged me to reach a wider audience.

I do not write to convert others to my way of thinking. I believe that theology is the domain of every person. Of course, I do want my opinions to be seriously considered, but I first want my readers to think for themselves. If they do that, disagreement is not important.

 

Booksandauthors.net: Talk a little about your background and your Ministry.

Clement T. DeWall: I was ordained a Catholic priest in 1958 and resigned in 1976 because I could no longer support the doctrines of the Catholic Church concerning divorce and remarriage. In 1977 I graduated with a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver; and a short time afterward I published a work entitled Saving Remarriage from Guilt-and-Punishment Theology, based on my degree research.

My current ministry is within the Federation of Christian Ministries, of which my wife and I are co-presidents. FCM is a national organization that helps persons of any church to practice their ministry. If a member wishes, he or she can obtain from FCM an official or legal authorization to perform various types of ministry, such as to officiate at weddings, baptize, perform funerals or do healing or worship services. FCM certification is legally equivalent to ordination. On the local level, my wife and I are available for all these services. I consider writing a part of my ministry, and I write an article for each FCM newsletter, Diaspora, which is published bimonthly.

 

Booksandauthors.net: "Forgive 70 X 7 Our Forgotten Power" --Describe this work. Please explain the title. How is this book different from others? Talk briefly about other books you have authored.

Clement T. DeWall: In 1998 I published a work called Escaping the Mental Straightjacket: Personal Experience As Our Spiritual Guide. My purpose was to encourage the reader to think for oneself and recognize the many ways in which society and religion control our world view and the way we think. I analyzed many extraordinary experiences, such as near-death and out-of-body experiences, after-death communications and various psychic phenomena. I wanted to show that the unusual, the paranormal and the psychic are for the most part in total harmony with basic Christianity.

My approach in writing Forgive 70 X 7: Our Forgotten Power was different. First, I decided to use the Bible (especially the Gospels) and history as my primary sources. But my primary purpose was to explain the basic teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.

For me the focus of Jesus’ teaching was on forgiveness. Regretfully, what he taught is not what most Christians believe. The common belief for most is that forgiveness is a gift Jesus came to give — a gift we can receive only if we have sufficient sorrow. On the contrary, Jesus never mentioned sorrow as a prerequisite for being forgiven. Instead, we are forgiven only insofar as we forgive others, as the Lord’s Prayer so aptly states. In Jesus’ terms, forgiveness is not so much a gift he gives to us as a gift we are to give to others. That is why I subtitled the book Our Forgotten Power. Topics related to forgiveness include confession, baptism, grace and salvation.

As with everything I have written, I am not concerned if my readers disagree with my conclusions. I only want them to examine what Jesus actually said and how our beliefs changed over time — then make up their minds for themselves.

Jesus’ teachings were radical for his time, so much so that his hearers must have been startled by what he said. We will react the same way, if we can peel away our conventional beliefs to discover what he actually said.

 

 

Booksandauthors.net: In "Forgive 70 X 7 Our Forgotten Power" you write that, "Most images of God... have proven unsatisfactory." Please explain.

Clement T. DeWall: The problem with our images of God is that our ideas of God raise more questions than they can answer. Old Testament stories tell of God ordering the annihilation of whole cities, including women and children. Our interpretation of the New Testament often presents God only as masculine. Many picture God as the One who arbitrarily decides when to answer prayers, when to give special blessings and when to let people suffer. To run away from the problems that these images present, some turn to God as an abstraction, such as the Force. I hope that my book will offer the reader some direction in determining one’s own image of God.

 

Booksandauthors.net: What is a "Supernatural Grace."

Clement T. DeWall: Supernatural grace is another term for sanctifying grace. In Catholic theology it is a quality that God gives to an individual soul when someone is forgiven serious (mortal) sin and goes from being an enemy of God to being a friend of God. It is supposedly a requirement for sharing in God’s divine life or friendship and for entry into heaven. Grace, as theologians have defined it, is not found in the Bible, but is a theological postulate made necessary because of the belief in the universal redemption of Christ and in the need for everyone to be baptized to be saved. As proposed in my book, supernatural or sanctifying grace, as defined by Christian theologians, is an impossibility.

 

Booksandauthors.net: What do you hope to achieve with your books? What do you hope readers will take away after reading your books?

Clement T. DeWall: I would like to impart to the reader the possibility that there is a different way to look at long established dogmas and beliefs. Next, I hope not that the reader will rely on my words, but begin his/her own search for truth. Finally, for this particular book, I believe that a new view of forgiveness would be of immense benefit to the spiritual life of many.

 

Booksandauthors.net: What has been your feedback from readers?

Clement T. DeWall: These are some of the comments: “I liked the book, gave it to our Jesus Seminar Group.” “I thought it was very precise and well thought out.” “For a small book, it covered a lot of territory.” I have also received favorable comments about the format of the book, with the comparison between the old and the new, between “conventional belief” and “hidden truth.” Some who bought the book asked for additional copies to give to others. I am pleased with the response, but the book does not yet have a wide distribution.

 

Booksandauthors.net: What's next?

Clement T. DeWall: Probably the next book will be in the same format as Forgive 70 X7, since comments have been favorable. A possible theme might be the attitude of giving thanks, which would encompass prayer and the Eucharist.

 

Booksandauthors.net: What was the last book you read?

Clement T. DeWall: My last book was Angels and Demons — and before that The Da Vinci Code — both by Dan Brown. Both were well written and enjoyable. I have started to read Forbidden Archeology by Cremo and Thompson, but at over 800 pages I may skim through it rather than really read thoroughly.

 

Booksandauthors.net: Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?

Clement T. DeWall: My main pastimes are cooking/baking and hiking. I also belong to several discussion and prayer groups, and the other members give me their own ideas along with feedback on my own. I also enjoy writing poetry. What I enjoy most is taking a Gospel passage, especially a parable, and putting it into a poetic format — or sometimes explaining it in a poem.

 

 

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