How do you answer someone who says that doctrine isn’t important, but rather what matters is promoting the Kingdom of God on Earth? (And by implication, ecumenism centers on action, not belief.)
What is the Kingdom of God without truth? The Kingdom of God is governed by the law of Christ–and to know what this is we need the doctrine of the Church handed down from the Apostles.
That is where we find Christ’s will for us, the unity He prays for, and the true love He teaches. To say His truth is irrelevant would be the height of blasphemy, exalting our own limited wisdom over His eternal and omniscient wisdom.
Acting while ignoring truth is what leads to sin. Sin is missing the mark in our thoughts and deeds–the doctrine of the Church lets us know where the mark is.
I would tell that person to read scripture and then give them these passages:
What does the New Testament say about teaching and doctrine?
Romans 6: 17-18
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching *to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Romans 16: 17-18
I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded.
Ephesians 4: 13-14
…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
1 Timothy 1: 3
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,
1Timothy 4: 1
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
1 Timothy 4: 6-8
If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness;
for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
2 Timothy 4: 3-4
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.
For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.
Titus 2: 1
But as for you, teach what befits sound doctrine.
2 John 1: 8-10
Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward. Any one who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son. If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting;
Hebrews 13: 7-9
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents.
2 Peter 1: 20-21
First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
2 Peter 2: 1-2
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled.
2 Peter 3: 15-17
So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.
Revelation 2: 15-16
So you also have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
After this have your your friend read about unity in Jn chapter 17.
Dorothy Sayers, the author of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, discusses this in Creed or Chaos?
I don’t recall a passage from Scripture in which Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a fast-food restaurant – have it your way!” :rolleyes:
The assertion you’re citing is an excuse for a relativistic worldview, in which I believe what I want because it’s right for me, and you do the same. Jesus came to show us the Truth and the Way in order to lead us to the Life – note, it is not a truth and away – and in so doing he established a Church and gave it authority to teach in His name. To insist that doctrine isn’t important is to fly in the face of what Jesus said and did.
Doctrine is the logical result of determining what is true. Without it, we are picking and choosing what to believe based on convenience.
I’d say they sound like Pontius Pilate when he said to Our Lord, " …What is truth?.." in John 18:38.
They apparently don’t believe in absolute truth and that is where one should challenge them, because most people who say stuff like that have never thought it through. :shrug:
It would seem odd to me that anyone would say such a thing. Obviously scripture, tradition and doctrine together inform us of what the Kingdom of God is. Without that, one would think such groups would be strictly secular in their approach.
There’s some truth in there. For instance people in the opening centuries of the Christian era spent far too much time and energy on what now seem to be very obscure debates about the nature of the Trinity.
On the other hand, doctrine does inform action. If people believe that Jesus was never man, then that soon translates into the idea that the flesh is sinful, or to be rejected. The they might have contempt for poor people’s material needs. Alternatively if they believe that Jesus wasn’t God, they might think that all that matters is to get economic relationships right, even at the cost of killing rich people and confiscating their property.
So we do have to be extremely careful, in cooperating even on purely practical matters with non-Catholics.