Monday, November 23, 2009

Are Catholic Doctrine & Dogma REALLY that important???

~ These aren't just "nice" words in a book.


This conversation came from a question started by a friend from a Catholic group on Facebook who is seeking to join the Catholic Church but was wondering if all the doctrine was important to believe or if some of it could be rejected. I think the question is important enough to share with others...

From my own perspective, doctrine and dogma were dry chaff to me for the most part of my life until I went through a major conversion. It just seemed like "stuff" I had to know but it had very little meaning for me. But after a serious car accident and realize where my life was going without a real relationship with God and being serious about following Him (the ominous and dreadful thought that I would be headed there if I died without seriously changing my way of life), the Faith really came together and actually started to make sense. Doctrine and Dogma isn't there just for the fun of it or just because it is man putting it out there to point to what they think we should believe. It is based on REALITY and therefore we really do need to pay heed to it. There might be a lot that you don't agree with at first or struggle with, but be patient and ask Our Lord to increase your faith and understanding.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
170 We do not believe in formulas, but in those realities they express, which faith allows us to touch. "The believer's act [of faith] does not terminate in the propositions, but in the realities [which they express]." All the same, we do approach these realities with the help of formulations of the faith which permit us to express the faith and to hand it on, to celebrate it in community, to assimilate and live on it more and more.

Let me give you a concrete example of what I am talking about...

The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is a Divine Person who had 2 natures, human and divine. Let's take a look at what happens if we just say, "Well, that is find and dandy but that doesn't mean a hill of beans to me or my walk with Our Lord." But ACTUALLY it does mean a lot if you are Christian and we need to understand WHY this is important and that this must be a reality or we are really doomed.

If Jesus was just a human person, then we don't have a Redeemer... but only a fallen man just like the rest of us who just lived a good life. Heaven could not be opened by a someone who only had a fallen human nature. Furthermore, the pains of sin not only offend others... it greatly offends God who is infinite and so the punishment due for those sins... is well.... DEADLY and ETERNAL (Sin separates us from God forever). So, the only antidote would be for God to pay our debt because we are talking about an offense that has eternal consequences and infinite debt that we on our own could not possibly pay back what is due. But there is another problem, God doesn't owe any debt to Himself and He did not cause the offense... we did it and we need to pay it. So, we are in a terrible fix. We did it but cannot pay back the debt we owe God for our offenses to Him, and God alone can pay the debt but that is a cause for injustice because we are the one's who did the damage. So, God in His Wisdom became one of us... took on the fullness of human nature, was born as a child and became man. This man who is a Divine Person (Jesus) had the human nature to pay the debt that we owe and had the Divine Power and Authority to actually pay the debt that was due through His own suffering and death so that we could pass from death to life.

All the doctrine and dogma are like this... they fall on top of one another like dominoes and are based on reality. We can't just pick and choose which aspects of the Faith we want to accept or reject... because the moment we begin to pick and choose, we are following what we want and are no longer walking by faith according to what God has revealed and asks us to believe. We would be living in our own opinions.

1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God." For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."

"In short, what I'm wondering, would my agnostic character prevent me from being accepted in the congregation of the Catholic Church?"

~ Does your agnostic character prevent you from being accepted into the Catholic Church? Well, if you don't believe in God would it really matter? I mean you wouldn't want to live a lie and say I am part of a Church and a Faith but I don't believe in it. God knows you heart and whether or not you desire to follow Him. If you are seeking Him even if you don't know Him yet but you want to, then by all means join us. But if you have no interest in believing and don't want to, then really there is no point.

If you have a desire to believe in God and want to follow Him but aren't there yet, then you already have the beginnings of Faith and you can build on this by entering into the Catholic Church. You don't have believe everything in the beginning of your journey, but you do need to be open to not rejecting it outright and begin to cultivate your Faith. There is no harm in just going to the Catholic instructional classes called RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and learning about what the Catholic Church teaches and believes. If you don't want to accept it, you can always leave and not join. If you want to believe it and seek understanding it, you can join and grow with us as long as you never knowingly reject anything we believe.

4 comments:

  1. Padre Scott, Thank you for your clear and inspiring explanation of what our Lord Jesus Christ who is True God and True Man accomplished for us at the Cross. Your brother in Christ from Bosque N.M. Luis Montero, by the mercy of God married in the Catholic Church on August 8, 2009 to Eveling del Pilar, now a public school history teacher, and grateful to God and Our Lady for all that you have taught me then and now! May God bless you Padre Scott! Luis at antioch112@hotmail.com.

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  2. Please excuse me, Padre Scott, I should have said what Our Lord accomplished for us ON the cross!

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