The CC: Too much rules and doctrine, not enough Jesus?


#1

Hi, I’m a practicing Catholic. I’ve been thinking a lot about faith lately, and it has been starting to seem to me that many in the Church, and a few on these forums, are so caught up in the many rules and doctrines of the Church that they’ve lost sight of the what the central focus of the Church should be, Jesus. Rules this, rules that, rules about everything.
For example, and I know this has been covered ad nauseum in these forums, but would Jesus, if He walked the earth today, look towards gay people and those that support them with the vitriol that some Catholics do, just for the sake of upholding the rules and doctrine of the Church? I don’t think so- I think Jesus would also invite them to His table, and be gentle but firm with them regarding their homsexuality. Would He not allow someone who could not get a marriage annulled, but is truly sorry for their divorce, to eat with Him?

It seems to me that a drop of honey catches more flies (or converts) than a gallon of vinegar. What does anyone think about this? Am I wrong?

-rep, confused about his Catholic faith and searching for answers


#2

All the CCC does is go what guidelines are given in the Bible and expand on them.As far as homosexuals go who said we are supposed to be hateful:confused: I think the irritation you see on the board is that it is not the person people are accepted to condon,it is expected that you accept the behavior and to do that could mean the loss of his or her soul,that isn’t loving at all.:nope:


#3

I generally agree with what you are saying. Let’s look at the gay example you presented. Jesus came to be the physician for the sick. He died for sinners. You are absolutely right that He would sit with homosexuals and try to lead them to repentance. On the other hand if homosexuality were being shoved down His throat like many gay organizations are trying to do to us nowadays, I think He might pull out the bullwhip at that point.

As for divorce, I agree with you. I do not, however, think Jesus would allow somoeone to divorce and remarry no matter how sorry they were since He personally made the specific point that this is adultery. He would not allow sin.

Finally, I think the reason why you see a lot of doctrinal arguments on these forums is because that is the primary point of these forums. We Christians agree on all the major things, but we also want to know the WHOLE truth which means even the small points need to be resolved. Likewise, answers to many of the difficult moral dilemmas require looking at doctrine in detail to come to the right answer.

Just go to Mass any day and you will see where the focus of the Church is:)

As for rules, people always say that but I can never really think of what they are talking about. The only thing I can think of are the liturgical rules. Someone else on these boards was complaing about all the rules and when i asked them to explain, they basically just wanted to use contraception. Maybe if you say which rules you thing aren’t needed someone here can help you see why they are needed:thumbsup:


#4

I think the ‘rules’ thing is a paradox - a seeming

contradiction.

Example: The Church says what it says on the topic
of divorce/remarriage. It sets up Tribunals [canon law]
to hear out each situation, for each is different in some
way. So, the ‘rule’ has a counter-part; a ‘mechanism
of mercy’ for some situations.

The apparent contradiction, is Jesus talking with the
Samaritan woman at the well. He saw her as an
individual…not a ‘canon law’ “case.” Notice that
Scripture doesn’t really tell us what she did about
her situation, after telling her neighbors about her
encounter with Jesus.

If a Catholic accepts that the Church re-"presents"
Jesus, and the moral law that He expounded,
then the Church is obligated to treat each human
being with mercy, while applying the ‘law’ - praying
to the Holy Spirit for guidance- clergy and laity alike.

This is not an easy thing to do in the modern world,
but it is the reality in which the human condition is
"played out" in our lifetime.

How to treat a human being with mercy and the
’law’, without making that individual feel emotionally
’marginalized’ is the conundrum.
I sure don’t have any answers to that reality.

reen12


#5

I think what we have to remember is that rules are set up because people start violating the norm, they aren’t rules for the sake of rules.

Also, rules are there to keep us safe and on the right track. Just like traffic rules keep drivers orderly, the rules and commandments that Jesus gave us keep us on the straight and narrow road – without them it would be as chaotic as driving with no traffic lights or road lines. As these rules get “challenged” then something has to be said about them.

I agree that Jesus is merciful and forgiving, but whenever he healed someone, the message was “Go and sin no more,” not “Oh, what you’re doing isn’t really that bad and I’ll love you anyway.” Because sin takes us away from Jesus, no matter what the sin. So if we really want to eat at His table, we must be willing to love as He loved and to change our lives with His help.


#6

Christ violated rules within Judaism; but the rules He violated were rules of praxis, not morals. He didn’t advocate sleeping around, but He definitely violated rules concerning keeping the Sabbath holy.

The difficulty is in determining what rules may not be absolute, and then determining what justifies the violation of that rule.

rules are seen often as being “restrictive”; and to an extent they are. The are there to guide us along a path; the define pretty much where the edge of the path is.

Moral rules go to the heart of who we are and what our relationship is with God (as exercised through our relationship, in large part, with others). Moral rules are not something one can violate, as they are based on who we are fundamentally. They go to the very nature of who we are. Many violate them with impunity, and often base their reasoning on a presumption that the rules are simply societal innovations; and thus can be changed. But that presumes that the Bible, which is God’s revelation of Himself to us, is not real and true.


#7

Hello rep1867,

I felt the same way before I came back to the Church, why so many rules?

I think someone answered very accurately by pointing out rules are made as people violate the norm. The rules are set up just to set up rules but to maintain truths, respect and the faith.

I find the Church to be the most forgiving of the faith traditions I have encountered without bending the truth. The Church has to maintain things like, killing is wrong, therefore abortion is wrong. It is pretty easy though to go out and find a church out there that accepts abortion to appease a certain point of view. The Catholic Church doesn’t change to fashions or culture changes.

A better example is contraception. There was a thread on this already which was pretty interesting.
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=57876
Read a little down the thread as then it gets some substance.

Another thing that has led to so much rules and stuff is the reformation, once the idea was promoted that you could just grab a Bible and start your own denomination then new interpretations spread like wildfire. The Church had to define and maintain the faith in whole new ways, this continues today.

In Christ
Scylla


#8

[quote=Genesis315]I generally agree with what you are saying. Let’s look at the gay example you presented. Jesus came to be the physician for the sick. He died for sinners. You are absolutely right that He would sit with homosexuals and try to lead them to repentance. On the other hand if homosexuality were being shoved down His throat like many gay organizations are trying to do to us nowadays, I think He might pull out the bullwhip at that point.

As for divorce, I agree with you. I do not, however, think Jesus would allow somoeone to divorce and remarry no matter how sorry they were since He personally made the specific point that this is adultery. He would not allow sin.
[/quote]

I’m watching C-SPAN’s Book TV and they’re interviewing Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. He was asked would Jesus have invaded Iraq and he answered the question is not “What would Jesus do?” but What would Jesus have us do?"

Would He have us start a gorup called God Hates Fags? NO.
Would he have us teach that homosexuality is wrong and, in charity, try to bring homosexuals (and adulterers, and fornicators) away from their sin to Christ? YES. (imho)


#9

The original post assumes that the “rules” are a burden. Far from it, they are a joyous gift. With Christ as the center of your being, they are not that hard to follow.

As far as the so-called “vitriol” against gay people, I don’t see it that often. I do see many calling homosexual acts evil which they are. Remember Jesus and the woman about to be stoned for adultery. We are supposed to be merciful, yes. But people often forget the end of the passage. He tells her to sin no more (i.e. adultery IS a sin). There is no mercy in pretending sin is not sin.

Chesterton pointed out the these complicated rules actually prove the truths of the Church rather than disprove them. A rock and a hole in the ground are simple. And if a rock fitted the hole perfectly it would be a coincidence. A door lock is complex, meaning that if a key fits you know you have the right key.

Someone said all heresies spring from attempts to simplify the faith. I tend to agree.

Scott


#10

[quote=rep1867]Hi, I’m a practicing Catholic. I’ve been thinking a lot about faith lately, and it has been starting to seem to me that many in the Church, and a few on these forums, are so caught up in the many rules and doctrines of the Church that they’ve lost sight of the what the central focus of the Church should be, Jesus. Rules this, rules that, rules about everything.
For example, and I know this has been covered ad nauseum in these forums, but would Jesus, if He walked the earth today, look towards gay people and those that support them with the vitriol that some Catholics do, just for the sake of upholding the rules and doctrine of the Church? I don’t think so- I think Jesus would also invite them to His table, and be gentle but firm with them regarding their homsexuality. Would He not allow someone who could not get a marriage annulled, but is truly sorry for their divorce, to eat with Him?

It seems to me that a drop of honey catches more flies (or converts) than a gallon of vinegar. What does anyone think about this? Am I wrong?

-rep, confused about his Catholic faith and searching for answers
[/quote]

Jesus invited the rich man in the Bible to follow Him, did the rich man accept ? no !

The Church invites everybody, do they accept the teaching and want to live up to it ? some do and some don’t.


#11

There are two great traditions in the Catholic Church.

One, the kataphatic (please excuse possible misspellings) tradition, is the only one that most mainstream Catholics ever even hear of.

The other, the apophatic tradition, is tightly wound up with mystical theology, the science of love. It has been practiced mostly by religious, especially prior to Vatican II when allegedly it was affirmed that holiness is for everyone.

The kataphatic tradition involves all the trappings you’re talking about, the rules, the history, and all that. This tradition is probably exemplified by the Bible.

The apophatic is based on achieving inner silence, inviting the Holy Spirit to dissolve our false selves (the “self” me must deny). Here is where you’ll find out about prayer in our inner rooms and the spiritual journey which I think you are seeking.

Sometimes I think of the kataphatic and the bushel basket that keeps the light of the apophatic covered, but that’s a bit mischievious view. The kataphatic, instead of looking at what we know about God, accepts what we don’t know about God and defines Him that way – as beyong the Cloud of the Unknowing. The Cloud of the Unknowing is one 14th century book that exemplifies one form of contemplative prayer (see paragraphs 2700-2724 in the CCC). I think if the Dark Night of the Soul is another shining example of apophatic thinking; we aren’t so much looking at rules and good/bad, but more looking at a soul which yearns to reach its lover (union with God) and all the characteristics and errors the souls makes while on its journey.

Check your diocesan office or retreat center or whatever is available, and see if there are any groups that practice contemplative prayer forms, such as Lectio Divina of Centering Prayer (caution: some say CP is bad but please let’s not argue it out loud here – PM me if you want details).

It’s great stuff. I wish the hidden were made better known!

Alan


#12

Dear AlanFromWitchita,

quote: AlanFromWitchita

The kataphatic, instead of looking at what we know about God, accepts what we don’t know about God and defines Him that way
…"

quote: AlanFromWitchita

…we aren’t so much looking at rules and good/bad, but more looking at a soul which yearns to reach its lover (union with God) and all the characteristics and errors the souls makes while on its journey.

Thank you for this explanation. It conveys a reality
that I knew, but could never adequately articulate.

Again, many thanks,
reen12


#13

I think it’s really the opposite - there are really only a few basic principles - love God above all, and love your neighbor as yourself, forgive one another, serve one another, go forth and make disciples of all nations, do everything for the greater glory of God, etc.

It is because of our own hardness of heart, that we try to get away with so much garbage, and hide our sin in the grey areas, and do the bare minimum possible to meet our obligations, that more specific rules are sometimes necessary. Sure, some people get caught up in all of that, and lose sight of what’s behind all of it. But a recurrent theme in both the Old and New Testaments is that God desires interior conversion - the New Covenant will be written not on tablets of stone, but carved on our hearts, so that we will truly know and desire how to please God. St. Paul instructs us that the circumcision of the heart is what’s important, not the physical body as under the old covenant.

I personally find that the Catholic Church embraces this understanding fully. Yes, all the specific rules are there, but if you are really making Jesus Christ the center of your life, and striving for holiness, as the Bible as well as the Church instruct, then following all the rules is easy, because it’s what comes naturally.


#14

[quote=rep1867]For example, and I know this has been covered ad nauseum in these forums, but would Jesus, if He walked the earth today, look towards gay people and those that support them with the vitriol that some Catholics do, just for the sake of upholding the rules and doctrine of the Church? I don’t think so- I think Jesus would also invite them to His table, and be gentle but firm with them regarding their homsexuality. Would He not allow someone who could not get a marriage annulled, but is truly sorry for their divorce, to eat with Him?
[/quote]

I find it interesting that people always seem to think the rules are the problem when those rules have anything to say about we do with our genitals.

– Mark L. Chance.


#15

[quote=rep1867]Hi, I’m a practicing Catholic. I’ve been thinking a lot about faith lately, and it has been starting to seem to me that many in the Church, and a few on these forums, are so caught up in the many rules and doctrines of the Church that they’ve lost sight of the what the central focus of the Church should be, Jesus. Rules this, rules that, rules about everything.
For example, and I know this has been covered ad nauseum in these forums, but would Jesus, if He walked the earth today, look towards gay people and those that support them with the vitriol that some Catholics do, just for the sake of upholding the rules and doctrine of the Church? I don’t think so- I think Jesus would also invite them to His table, and be gentle but firm with them regarding their homsexuality. Would He not allow someone who could not get a marriage annulled, but is truly sorry for their divorce, to eat with Him?

It seems to me that a drop of honey catches more flies (or converts) than a gallon of vinegar. What does anyone think about this? Am I wrong?

-rep, confused about his Catholic faith and searching for answers
[/quote]

…i think Christ looks at all of us with Love… however, he wouldn’t be divided against himself… these doctrins you mention are inspired by the Holy Spirit/Christ/God the Father… so to insinuate that he would not see them as important or vital begs nonsence… IMHO of course:thumbsup:


#16

About “Rules”…
I like what St. Paul says; …
"Similarly, if one takes part in an athletic contest, he cannot receive the winners crown unless he has kept the rules."
2 Tim. 2:5

gusano


#17

thanks everyone, i appreciate all of your insights. i’m proud to be catholic, believe me, but life and faith both seem to be so complicated sometimes…


#18

First, didn’t Jesus say that those who followed His commandments were His friends? So I don’t see a conflict between rules and following Jesus. Likewise, before He asked the rich young man to give up all his possesssions and follow Him, He asked him if he’d followed the laws/commandments…

Second, loving God and putting Him first in our lives necessarily means wanting to follow His rules, the details of which He left to the Apostles and their successors. That doesn’t mean it is easy (some of the rules seem harsh and some of the bishops may seem unworthy of being followed). Nevertheless…that’s the way the Lord left it and we have to defer to Him.


#19

[quote=rep1867]Hi, For example, and I know this has been covered ad nauseum in these forums, but would Jesus, if He walked the earth today, look towards gay people and those that support them with the vitriol that some Catholics do, just for the sake of upholding the rules and doctrine of the Church? I don’t think so- I think Jesus would also invite them to His table, and be gentle but firm with them regarding their homsexuality. Would He not allow someone who could not get a marriage annulled, but is truly sorry for their divorce, to eat with Him?
x
[/quote]

Jesus would follow Church teaching, which he gave us exactly, and treat all with unconditional love, demand that they follow the narrow way, embrace the cross, give up all the impedes them from following him, and not approach the wedding banquet until they have been clothed in a wedding garment.


#20

**Matthew 28:19-20
**Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

So the Church ought to be (and is) standing for the same things that Jesus commanded.

If everyone focused on Jesus, no rules would be needed. But part of the work of the Church is to be the “way” to Jesus in exactly the same sense that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

This is a pastoral work. We need to be the pillar of truth in the world. Jesus’ commands are the guard rails on the sides of the roads. There IS a wrong way to go. The rails indicate the right way. Ignore the rules/rails and you will leave the way.

They go hand in hand.

Lastly, I find it helpful to think of your relationship with the Father AS a father. If you live in his house, you follow the rules. If you do, there is no conflict and you don’t really notice them. It’s only when you displease him that you start noticing all the rules. Therefore, it’s not about rules, then, it’s about pleasing your father.


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