Catholic teaching getting mischaracterized at Awana?

Catholic teaching getting mischaracterized at Awana?

To the people who hang around the “Apologetics” area here (because I think it is important how the apologists see this).

Seems to me Catholic teaching is getting mischaracterized at Awana.

This suggests to me to be an example of how the Catholic message of being “born again” or “baptized” and our justification gets reduced down to mere “church rituals” and “good works”.

Then this gets passed off in this distorted fashion to our own children or their friends (or our grandchildren or their friends) who in some cases are directly involved in this group or indirectly (as with the friends of our children) involved and contributes to misunderstandings about the Catholic faith.

Awana (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed) is a para-church Protestant children’s ministry whose goal is, “evangelizing and discipling kids in the church and community”.

Here is a so-called “quiz question” (you can see it for yourself here if it is still posted there).

The people in Rome tended to mix two things with the message of justification. What were they?

A. Circumcision and church rituals
B. Church rituals and good works
C. Circumcision and good works

The answer is “B.”

Any thoughts? Do you think I am reading into this group by seeing a misrepresentation of Catholicism, or do you think this is not aimed at Catholicism? Or do you think it is aimed at St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (and Judaizers)? Both? Something else?

What is Awana?

If B is the correct answer, it’s obviously talking about Catholicism.

I don’t remember this “quizzing” system from my time. (I am particularly annoyed by the “Bible quizzing” terminology, because what I knew of Bible quizzing was a completely different program, which a Christian and Missionary Alliance friend got me into, and which consisted of memorizing whole books or other large passages of Scripture–much preferable, in my opinion, to the prooftext method used by AWANA).

The view of Christianity promulgated in AWANA was certainly implicitly opposed to Catholicism, and I think I remember negative references to it in talks by leaders, etc. (though explicit denunciation of Catholicism was less common than general references to “religion” and “good works” which were clearly intended to refer in large measure to Catholicism). I don’t remember anything as explicit as this. But it was a long time ago (25 years since I finished the program).


A good opportunity for someone to present the Catholic view in response.

Awana is a Baptist or Evangelical program for kids, typically meets wednesday night at one of their churches. Fun and Games and Scripture from their perspective. So naturally it will include anti catholic elements and incorrect teachings…

Why are you using this source? Aren’t there any local sources. Most Dioceases have adult education courses on Catholic teaching. It may be catechetics training for catechists or for the New Evangelization. But someting is usually offered. And there is nothing like reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church on your own.


I don’t think the OP is using AWANA for Catholic catechesis.

That would be a very bad idea. Not simply because it’s not Catholic–there are other non-Catholic materials that might be very helpful for Catholics. But the theology behind AWANA, even apart from outright attacks, is particularly incompatible with Catholicism. The Baptist version of sola fide and the fundamentalist version of sola scriptura (i.e., particularly radical forms of each) are at the core of the program and permeate everything.

As a Wesleyan, I argued with the leaders a lot–it was fun, actually, though I’m sure I was obnoxious:D


Yes, AWANA is very big here in some of the protestant churches of the Mid-South US. its a shame these programs are teaching their children such dislike and hatred of another Christian religion instead of truth. one of the reasons i left one of these churches when i was 16. i knew most of my childhood that something was “wrong” with a lot of their teachings, they also teach that if you question the preacher or his teachings then you are questioning God, i got in a lot of trouble with that growing up. :tsktsk:

Awana isn’t about teaching Catholicism. It’s strictly a Protestant program.

What else would you expect?

I don’t expect Protestants to teach Catholicism correctly.

Awana is a Bible study program for children designed and used in protestant (mostly non-denominational) churches. They have no reason to explain or support Catholic teaching. Some groups may be more hostile to Catholics than others.

If you are Catholic, don’t send your children to Awana. If you want them to learn more about the Bible, teach them yourself, speak to the DRE at your parish, offer to run a Catholic Bible-study program.

In our area AWANA was at one time hostile even to Protestant churches that were Pentecostal. So it is no surprise that they would not be supportive of CATHOLICISM!


Why are you using this source? Aren’t there any local sources.

We are NOT using these sources.

But I did want your thoughts on the Awana teaching as it is . . . .well . . .apparently teaching (wrongly) Catholicism.

If we understand these types of attacks (if that’s what this is), then we will get an idea
of how the people around us think about us as Catholics.

We then have a better understanding of the Protestant objections that eventually inevitably get raised to us or to our children (especially from their friends in Awana).

Then we can better respond to the objections directly or prepare our children and grandchildren accordingly.

Kal2012. You asked:

What else would you expect?

Good question. I’m not sure what I expect. But I don’t expect they should teach anti-Catholicism.

John Martignoni is a Catholic apologist. Martignoni who sends out free inbox Catholic Apologetics Newsletters (here) that anyone may sign up for, has a pretty good definition of anti-Catholicism.

Here it is (with one minor spelling correction) . . .

Anti-Catholic - someone who tells a Catholic what they believe, even if that is not what the Catholic believes, and will not accept any explanation or evidence to the contrary. For example, an anti-Catholic would say to a Catholic, “You worship Mary.” When the Catholic responds that he in fact does not worship Mary, and explains that he honors and loves Mary just as her son Jesus did, and shows them in the Catechism where it says that Mary has a human nature, not a divine one, the anti-Catholic responds, “You do too worship Mary!” In other words, they wish to impose their understanding of our belief on us, no matter how much their understanding of our belief is shown to be false. Simply being opposed to Catholic teaching and practice does not make one an anti-Catholic.

These Protestants are exposing their children to the great divide between Protestants and Catholics. Namely, the reason for which Jesus died on the cross. Catholics teach that Jesus died for original sin only and not also for actual sins. Catholicism teaches that mankind atones for their own actual sins through penance.

Protestants teach that Jesus atoned not only for original sin, but even for the actual sins committed by the believer. This is why Protestants allege that Catholics teach salvation by good works.

Actually, the Catholic Church also teaches that Jesus’ death redeemed humanity and all Creation not just from original sin, but from the actual sins of every human. Whether or not that person chooses to have their sins absolved or not, Jesus did die for our individual sins as well as the original one.

John and Mary’s sins are just as much a weight on humanity (and Creation) as Adam and Eve’s sins, albeit Adam and Eve’s big original sin was allowed to have more effect on humanity (and Creation). So if Jesus did not die for John and Mary’s sins, we are all in pretty deep trouble, and so are the trees and the birds.

It is fitting that we should do penance for our sins, and for the sins of our brothers and sisters and enemies, because love is good and because we all have sinned and made things worse (except Mary and Jesus, of course). But that’s not really atonement, and it certainly doesn’t redeem our sins. It’s nice and good, but it’s not what you’d call effective or sufficient to the problem. God gives us a subordinate part in His work and helps us respond in a way that helps us join in His salvation of us; and He allows us to choose with our own free will whether we will agree to be saved by Him at all – which is glorious for us and awfully kind of Him – but our response doesn’t and couldn’t save us or atone for our sins all by itself.

But anyway… the Bible and the Catechism say in unison that Jesus died “for our sins.” Not for our sinfulness, or solely for Adam and Eve’s sin, but for our sins. All our sins.

The Catechism says: "By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” "

The Catechism says: "St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” "

The Catechism says: "The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.” "

The Mass says the blood of the Covenant was poured out for many “for the forgiveness of sins.”

gwarald. You stated:

Catholics teach that Jesus died for original sin only and not also for actual sins.

Please clarify this quote and also give me a Catholic source like a Council or a CCC statement so I may see the context.

As a Catholic, this is a foreign teaching to me, but I’ve missed things in Catholicism before so I will await your follow up and proceed accordingly.

Thank you.

Also this quote isn’t quite correct either.

Catholicism teaches that mankind atones for their own actual sins through penance.

This isn’t true. It’s the classic mischaracterization of Catholic teaching by Protestants.

The misunderstanding arises from the fact that many Protestants think of Jesus’ dying for sin as something that functions “automatically.” This view only really works if you are a strict Calvinist who believes in limited atonement. All other Protestants agree with Catholics that there are conditions you must meet before Jesus’ death will do you any good, even if it’s just one condition (believe on Jesus as your Savior). Yet many Protestants who don’t believe in limited atonement skate over the fact that they do place one condition on our reception of Jesus’ death for our sins, and then criticize Catholics for having a different understanding of how we receive grace (faith that is formed by love and persevered in by free choice up to the moment of death).

Of course Jesus’ death has a different relationship to original sin than to actual sin, for the simple reason that original sin isn’t something we freely chose, so we don’t need to “un-choose” it in the same way that we need to “un-choose” the sins we have freely chosen. That’s the germ of truth behind the misrepresentation.

Some Protestants I’ve known teach that " original sin " is called that because all sin originates with one committing it. Also, that babies and small children are not sinners until they reach the “age of accountability” therefore infant baptism means nothing. I have never understood what they do with kids who are mentally challenged and never reach an age where they are “accountable.” Because of their disability.:shrug:

It only gets passed on to our “own” kids when they are allowed to go to AWANA. Which they shouldn’t be doing in the first place.

No, you are not reading into this group, their goal is to indoctrinate little baptist kids and convert little Catholic kids.

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