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
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
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
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.
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 Lords 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 ones own image of God.
Booksandauthors.net: What is a "Supernatural
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 Gods 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
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.