Does Doctrine Matter (answering a question)


#1

Lenten_ashes asked me this in another thread (that was for some reason closed so I can’t answer him)

Does Doctrine Matter? The answer is yes doctrine matters. However, it is not doctrine that saves us. It is Christ who saves us, not our doctrinal position on any given topic.

Doctrine is, at its core, intellectual understanding of spiritual matters. As humans, our intellectual understanding varies from person to person and is formed by a myriad of variables. In all these variables somehow the majority of Christianity has came to the same conclusions on a large amount of doctrinal understandings. Through the centuries the more detailed the questions asked the more difference the intellectual understandings and more different “camps” sprang up it Christianity.

But more important than intellectual understanding of spiritual matters is the reality of spiritual change/adoption in a person’s heart/life. God dwelling in someone via the Holy Spirit connects that person to Christ Spiritually. The Holy Spirit is how we are united with Christ and how we abide in Christ and He is us. When we are in Christ and He in us by the Holy Spirit then we are part of the universal church.

The Holy Spirit living and working in a person’s heart and life trumps all intellectual and religious understanding. When someone is made alive in Christ by the Holy Spirit that is God putting His stamp on that person and saying “He is mine and I am his”.

So a person can have all the facts straight and intellectually understand doctrine better than any person alive. But if they are not Spirituality united with Christ then they are just wasting their time. On the other hand someone can be spiritually united with Christ and intellectually not understand or have a wrong understanding about doctrinal matters and still be a “great, God fearing Christian” who is in Love with Jesus and has a spiritual burden to help his fellow man come to the same kind of relationship with Christ.


#2

I don’t think anybody argues that being mistaken about some matters of doctrine leads one to damnation, or that being correct about all points of doctrine leads to salvation.

The problem is not being wrong on matter of doctrine, but rather persisting in wrongness after being corrected.


#3

But what if you are convinced that you are the one who is correct and the one trying to correct you is wrong?


#4

IMO, depends on why one persists in wrongness. If one persists in things that are simply flat-out contrary to Scripture, like (to make this easy to agree on) denying that Jesus Christ died for sinners, that’s one thing. If one persists in things that are less clear in Scripture and harder to articulate, such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary, I think that’s a different matter.

Shades of grey and all that. At the end of the day, I don’t think someone will be judged for an inability to grok things, but will be judged for a refusal, whether by negligence or obstinacy.


#5

This is basically the attitude of American Evangelicalism. There are some things the Bible is clear about and some things that are debatable. We don’t hold the debatable things as dogmatic. We recognize that it is possible for someone to be united with Christ and having differing opinions on different doctrines and still be a faithful brother or sister in Christ. That is why you see Calvinist Presbyterians and Arminian Methodist have Bible studies together. That is why you see Christian community groups made up of people from various denominations working together to spread the Gospel and help those in need.

I don’t have a problem with people having different doctrines/understandings about debatable matters. I do have a problem with people saying that if your understanding is not the same as mine then your not “in Christ” and you will not inherit eternal life.


#6

You misunderstand me. See, I’m not taking the point that there should be no dogma arising from “reading between the lines.” I’m saying that an inability to accept those dogmas is less damning than an inability to accept the plain text. I’m most certainly not saying that there should be no dogmas not drawn directly from Scripture. Because, as Catholics love to point out, nowhere in the Bible does it say that we should rely on the Bible alone for such matters.


#7

I need a little bit of help and this seems like the thread and forum to get it. I was watching a Beth Moore video on youtube and some guys were saying that we do not believe that we are saved not by works but by God’s grace. Is that truly what we believe!? I am so upset I have been fighting tears! I love God so much and want to get heaven some day and that is what I personally believe. That we are saved, not by human works, but by His grace alone! They also said that we are a theological cult. Not drink the kool-aid cult, but different. I am just so confused!! I believe in the Nicene Creed. I have been a Catholic for almost 34 years.


#8

Catholics and Protestants agree that we are saved by God’s grace, not by our own works. The disagreement is in how that grace works.


#9

Even then we, as humans, have differing intellectual understandings of both scripture and tradition. (I see Catholics often arguing among themselves on this board).

At some point we have to say, " I disagree with you but you are a Spirit filled believer as I am, one day God will sort it all out" and then go have a pint and talk about something less divisive, like President Trump :slightly_smiling_face:


#10

Thank you so much! I was really freaking out for no reason I guess. I’m staying off youtube for awhile unless I need it for school! LOL Which I do quite frequently! :joy:


#11

I’ll shoot you a DM in a few minutes to try to help clarify further.


#12

Thanks! Appreciate it!


#13

If truth matters, doctrine matters.

For example, saying “Jesus saves,” is a doctrinal statement.


#14

Thanks for the response. IAN. I have not visited this forum in maybe a year, so i do not know why threads keep closing, suddenly?

I get what you are saying. And agree we need Christ or we are doomed.

But let me just point out a single verse to illustrate my point:

# 2 Peter 3:16 King James Version (KJV)

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Ignorance is lacking understanding… is it not?

We all know what this is. It’s Peter talking about Paul’s letters…something that doctrine is derived from, and saying it can be twisted to our own destruction. That’s pretty heavy stuff. That’s why I asked how much doctrine matters and who determines it and by what authority are they doing so? These are obviously Christian believers that Peter is talking to. People who already believe in the Gospel.

If the Church was designed this way that you describe…intended for each believer to sort of self-sustain in a Jesus and Me type of gospel, then I do wonder why such strict warnings are contained in the scriptures about the importance of doctrine. And how it is that ignorance can actually lead to our own destruction.

I am not picking on any particular denomination…but some of them seem to be wonderful Christians who will tell you that the Holy Spirit told them that living in a gay relationship is OK so long as they are faithful to their partner. Or that believing in Mormonism is ok, etc, etc.

So it would appear that some sort of authoritative and visible force is a necessity in order to preach absolute truth and clear up all these misconceptions.

Thanks


#15

Human beings are a unified whole, not disparate parts. It is important to understand. Understanding (reason) informs faith, faith opens the mind to reason. Intellectual understanding and assent is an integral part of our faith.

St Paul

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,
of the gospel I preached to you,
which you indeed received and in which you also stand.
Through it you are also being saved,
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,
unless you believed in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he was buried;
that he was raised on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;


#16

Doctrine definitely matters. What is doctrine? Doctrine is essentially the teaching of the Church. If the Church gets its teaching wrong, then it may not be presenting the whole gospel, it may be obscuring the gospel, or outright teaching a false gospel. Doctrinal issues are definitely important.


#17

I didn’t say the church was designed as a Jesus and Me type of gospel. I believe the church is important and necessary. God instituted and gifted overseers of the church and gifts people the ability to teach and preach the gospel. We each have our place in the life of the body of believers.

All I’m saying is that we sometimes get so caught up in “being right” that we fail to grasp that we are talking about a Spiritual reality that is unique to each person as they “work out their salvation”.

I contend that the spiritual communion with God through Christ via the Holy Spirit is more important than having the correct understanding. Especially when there are multiple groups claiming they have a correct understanding. Christ didn’t comes to save us from bad doctrine. He came to set us free from the law of sin and death.


#18

As JimG indicated, to ask whether doctrine matters is to ask whether truth matters which amounts to asking whether Jesus Christ matters and faith in him who is the Truth as Jesus said about himself. Yes, Christ saves us if we have faith in him for without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the first of the three supernatural theological virtues and it resides in our intellect whose object is truth and knowledge. Faith is a gift from God by which we believe all the truths that Holy Mother Church proposes for our belief as divinely revealed from God. The principle truths of the catholic faith are presented in summary fashion in the professions of faith, namely, the creeds such as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed we recite every Sunday at Mass or the Apostles Creed which we recite in the rosary or at baptisms I believe it is or which can take the place of the Nicene Creed at Mass in various circumstances.

Love or charity which is in the will follows knowledge or faith which is in the intellect for as St Augustine said, we cannot love what we do not know. Charity does not exist in the soul without faith and hope in this life on earth. Human beings are created by God in his image and likeness principally in their immortal spiritual soul with the spiritual faculty of intellect by which we can know God, truth, and the good and with the spiritual faculty of the free will by which we can love God, truth, and the good. Neither the intellect or will exist without the other nor do they proceed to their acts without the other.

And so Jesus says:
“And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

“Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

“And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17:19).

“For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37).

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).


#19

(continued)

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth because he leads us to the truth about Jesus, the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father become incarnate in human flesh, and Jesus leads us to the Father. The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Love in the Scriptures and in catholic theology: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). The Scriptures, the Church, and catholic theology attribute Wisdom especially to Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity: “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24); and

“For she [Wisdom] is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness” (Wisdom 7:25-26).

That the will follows the intellect we see in the very nature of the Godhead and the processions of second and third persons of the Holy Trinity from God the Father. For the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God who became incarnate in human flesh, proceeds from the intellect of the Father and thus Wisdom which is in the intellect is especially associated with Jesus. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, proceeds from the one will of the Father and the Son and thus Love is especially associated with the Holy Spirit as love is in the will. Thus, in the explicit revelation of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, the eternal Son of God is revealed in his incarnation in human flesh as a man from which follows the sending of the Holy Spirit by Christ and the Father at Pentecost.


#20

I had wondered one time why people say the creed during mass. I already believe these things, so why say the creed?. I put this question a few years ago on Catholic forums. One person said we say it as an expression of faith.
I agreed with this. Doctrine isn’t just something we believe in our mind. It has to do with our faith, a spiritual thing.


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.