Doctrine is not necessary?

As the title reads, that is the question here folks.

After a long debate on this matter and an accusation that I had derailed a thread, I thought what better way to settle this matter than by creating a new thread (a simple solution).

So far this is where the matter stands. A proposition has been set forth that

“Doctrine is not important. Love is what is important”.

My position in reply has been to point out that Doctrine describes the truth. There can be no love without knowledge of the truth. Therefore, doctrine is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for love or anything else. I also propose that those who advocate love over doctrine have a grave misunderstanding that either

  1. Doctrine is not really a description of the truth, or
  2. Truth is not important for love

Now I hope we can continue this discussion without any accusations of “derailing the thread” and settle it once and for all.

I completely agree with you. I should admit that I used to think like the person you’re referencing, but I eventually realized that a canon of books written before the 2nd century is going to be a VASTLY more accurate record of Jesus’ ministry than my ala carte 21st century opinions.

The issue you’re talking about has already been settled by Jesus and also by the Holy Spirit, Who continues to guide the Church into all truth (as Jesus promised) during “the age of the Church” (this current time between Jesus’ ascension and whenever the end of the world is).

There IS objective truth, and it’s vital for human beings. Love and truth are not separable. Jesus told Pontius Pilate that He came to testify to the truth. He is the way, the truth and the life. We can’t disregard dogma in favor of love, as if the two are separate things. If we want to strive (“to enter the narrow gate”), and if we want to run the race and compete well according to the rules (as Saint Paul said), we need the truth that God gives us.

Doctrine is inevitable. Those who adhere to “Doctrine is not important. Love is what is important” have not jettisoned doctrine, they simply have created a new doctrine (doctrine isn’t important, love is.) Because doctrine is inevitable, the only question is whether a doctrine is true (orthodox) or false (heresy).

Not only that, but the statement is illogical. The statement indicates that the importance of Love is doctrinal. It places it as a fundamental tenet of Faith, that one must hold that Love is important to have a correct understanding of God.

The most valuable lesson I have learned in my 50 years on earth is to not be too sure of myself. It took a lot of struggle - addiction, the death of a child, abandonment by a spouse - but through the struggle I learned that I really don’t know as much as I thought I knew and that most of what I thought was fact was really just my own opinion.

I have also learned how easy it is to fall. All the doctrine in the world can’t save you from temptation. One moment you are sure that you will someday be canonized a saint and that St. Michael the Archangel himself goes before you. The next moment you are kneeling in the confessional in tears, begging Jesus Christ to take the temptation away, wondering how you could have possibly fallen so far and sure that God has abandoned you.

So I have learned not to trust myself. I have learned not to be too sure of myself. I am a cracked and broken vessel, held together poorly with tape and glue, and I have to frequent the sacraments again and again to fill myself up with divine grace. Those sacraments are not acts of doctrine but a Father’s act of love toward his children.

When you go to the hospital to visit a man with no friends and family, who was told the day before that he is being taken off the list for a liver transplant and that he should consider hospice - the last thing he wants to hear about is doctrine. When you tell him you have to go but he won’t let go of your hand, and through his tears he says how grateful he is that you showed up and prayed with him, then you will realize the value of love. This is something Mother Theresa understood. I hope everyone who reads this gets a chance to minister to a dying person once in their life.

-Tim-

The OP’s question was misstated and misrepresented completely. The argument he proposed is that a person is not able to love … without first knowing doctrine. That is completely untrue as stated. It was cited in St. Paul’s clear teaching in Romans 2:13-16, that a gentile may indeed love his unknown God and be justified without knowing the law (doctrine) … giving evidence that the law is written in his heart.

To negate this scripture and insist that one cannot love unless one knows doctrine is a fallacy. It puts the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Who speaks to the conscience of every man, at the mercy of doctrine alone, saying that He is not able to guide a person with invincible ignorance into a justification worthy of his salvation … unless he knows revelation. St. Thomas Aquinas also refuted this in more than one instance, and also in the teaching on baptism of desire.

I believe many are responding in this thread, based on the OP’s skewed presentation of what was actually discussed by several posters…all of whom he disregarded. Not one of them said doctrine is not important, but he overlooked that one major point. Yes, it is important, but what was said was that love can be borne in the heart initially without it, and ultimately leads one into a more full acceptance of truth.

The scriptures are full of details where people, ignorant of doctrine, came to Jesus with love and He ministered to them. He said to each, “your faith has saved you” … not your doctrine. Their faith was in the person of Jesus Christ with hearts that were open to Him.

We cannot love that which we do not know. We cannot love fully that which we know in part.

Doctrine helps us to know God more fully, and thereby, we are able to love him more fully.

Those who love their gods have at least some idea of the nature and characteristics of them, attributes that are admirable, etc. The one who worships does so with at least some knowledge of these things.

To negate this scripture and insist that one cannot love unless one knows doctrine is a fallacy. It puts the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Who speaks to the conscience of every man, at the mercy of doctrine alone, saying that He is not able to guide a person with invincible ignorance into a justification worthy of his salvation … unless he knows revelation. St. Thomas Aquinas also refuted this in more than one instance, and also in the teaching on baptism of desire.

Paul speaks of milk and solid food. New Christians know God to some degree and love Him with great passion. But this is similar to a young man falling for a pretty girl whom he barely knows. In time, the mature Christian moves beyond the milk of his youth and begins to take the solid food of real doctrine…and his love for God deepens into a mature love.

Yes, that is true. But the knowledge they have, initially, is infused into their hearts by the Holy Spirit, Who draws them through natural law and actual graces. The knowledge is of His magnificense that they sense in God’s creation and nature, not from knowledge of doctrine or Revelation. That is the essence of what some of us have written.

Romans 1:19-20 "Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

The OP has denied even this initial grace that draws some men to God, stating that it is impossible to love Him unless they have doctrinal knowedge. This is not Church teaching.

It is a heresy to say that we need one part of the Faith, e.g. Love, and not another, e.g.
Doctrine. We need the full “Deposit of the Faith”.

Please know, Brian, that nobody has said both are not necessary! This was a misstatement made by the OP that is being carried to extremes here.
How is that folks are illiterate with respect to critical reading? While you’re at it, do you have a solid teaching source that says faith is not sufficient for salvation unless it knows doctrine? A source that labels it “heresy?”

I know this won’t be acceptable because it is too simple.

The devils have great knowledge of God.

“Doctrine is not important. Love is what is important”.

Be careful with this. It is a false dichotomy.

But the statement that “doctrine is not important” is a self-contradiction (and thus illustrates itself as being false).

Consider the self-contradicting proposition . . . .

It is MY DOCTRINE, that DOCTRINE is NOT IMPORTANT. And this DOCTRINE of mine (about the unimportance of doctrine) IS IMPORTANT!

Do you see the problem with such a statement?

Could we please have a proof-text where anybody whomsoever has made this statement? *Anybody? *

Could we please have a proof-text where anybody whomsoever has made this statement? Anybody?

Sirach2. Nobody made this explicit statement. I used it as a rhetorical device to emphasize the crux of the issue. (That’s why I called it a “proposition”)

It is MY DOCTRINE, that DOCTRINE is NOT IMPORTANT. And this DOCTRINE of mine (about the unimportance of doctrine) IS IMPORTANT!

The statement they use denying doctrine gets dressed up, but when the window dressing is removed, that is essentially what they are saying.

If you want you can see this whole issue developed much further in Peter Kreeft’s book: A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist. It can be found here.

Sorry about that. I assumed everyone would see my statement as such (a rhetorical device meant to highlight the self-contradiction in denying the importance of doctrine). Guess I was wrong.

Who are “they?”

Sorry about that. I assumed everyone would see my statement as such (a rhetorical device meant to highlight the self-contradiction in denying the importance of doctrine). Guess I was wrong.

I just finished listening to Colleen Carroll Campbell’s interview with Card. Timothy Dolan on EWTN’s nightly news (second guest). She mentioned the program is found on Youtube, but when I searched for the actual comment to share it here, I note the broadcast is not uploaded yet. However, the program will repeat later at 9 PM EST.

Noteworthy with respect to this topic, His Eminence stated that Jesus did not draw people to Himself by stating, *Let me tell you about the Trinity. *Rather, He invited people, saying “Come and see!” Cardinal Dolan remarked that it is foolish to place the cart before the horse. Isn’t this the gist of this thread? Nobody has denied the importance of doctrine … not anywhere that I have noticed. Rather, when love causes the initial drawing to Jesus, the doctrine will follow, and not the reverse. First milk, then solid food, as another poster put it.

The Canticle of Canticles begins, “DRAW ME, and we will run after Thee to the odor of thy ointments.” The drawing is the work of the Holy Spirit, initially, not doctrine. That’s all we have been trying to say.

People who I have dialogued with concerning the Catholic faith have have said to me (on many occasions):

“The Church and its doctrines are really not important. The only thing that is important is accepting Jesus into your heart as personal Lord and Savior.”

And I am saying THAT in and of itself is a “doctrine” and is thus a self-refuting statement.

That is the “they”. These are people as the thread title says would state: “Doctrine is not necessary”.

Nobody has denied the importance of doctrine

Yes they have at least to me.

Rather, when love causes the initial drawing to Jesus, the doctrine will follow, and not the reverse. First milk, then solid food, as another poster put it

Good point Sirach2.

I am sure you know (but I will post it for others that may not) this concept is called “God’s prevenient grace.” This just means God makes the first move to us and is a movement of grace.

This was defined (but believed before) at the Council of Trent in the 1500’s.

COUNCIL OF TRENT Decree on Justification (Chapter V) The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight. Whence, when it is said in the sacred writings: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you, we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer; Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted, we confess that we are prevented by the grace of God.

CANON III. (From Trent, Sixth Session) If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

This concept of God’s prevenient grace is encapsulated nicely in 1st John.

1st JOHN 4:19 19 We love, because he first loved us.

The purpose-the ultimate goal- of the Christian faith is to lead people to love God with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves. That is our justice. All of the Church’s teachings-her doctrines-are aimed at that one goal in the end.

:thumbsup: Looks like we have a meeting of the minds.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.