Which is more important: Orthopraxy v Orthodoxy

Which pleases God more, believing the right things, (orthodoxy) or doing the right things? (orthopraxy) I’m not leaving a “none of the above” option because I don’t want to leave an easy way out. If you don’t think one is more important than the other, then don’t vote.

We spend a lot of time as Catholics talking about how we have the “Full Truth” and how what we believe is correct and those who don’t believe like we do are not correct. This thread is intended to give a little “equal time” to another point of view. I don’t intend to prove in a court of law that God doesn’t care about what we believe – far from it. But I do think we need to break any evil thinking that because we are “orthodox Catholics” we are somehow automatically closer to God than others who aren’t.

Matt 25:37-40
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’"

Notice that the “righteous” didn’t even know that what they were doing was for the Lord. I say this is an example of orthopraxy over orthodoxy. They did the right things, presumable out of a pure heart or at least out of a nature that is disposed to responding to God’s call even though they don’t (intellectually) know God. Either way, God was pleased with what they did even though they didn’t even know they were serving Him.

Compare that with:

Matt 7:19-23
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’”

Here we see that the fruit we bear is more important than the praise we offer – which shows our faith is apparently of no value without our works? Apparently going around and proclaiming the Lord doesn’t cut the mustard.

Another:

Matt 21:28-31
“What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first. Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you."

So here, doing the work of God trumps the fact that we might say the wrong words. Why didn’t Jesus say, “but of course they won’t make it into heaven because of their many sins, and their lack of faith?”

And of course, one of my all time favorite stories against “salvation by group identity,” the Good Samaritan. Would you rather be an orthodox Catholic who hasn’t time for a person in need, or not an orthodox Catholic who stops and helps an injured person?

Faith without works? Obviously unless we do the will of God, then our being “orthodox Catholics” means basically nothing to God.

If you think this is about bashing orthodox Catholics, think again. I’d like to be able to say I’m an orthodox Catholic, but I know I don’t meet that standard. I’m using the term to signify somebody who believes they are right with God and that others who believe differently are wrong and disadvantaged and are looked on less favorably by God.

Alan

Sorry, I voted but did not read the Original Post. I have to get to Work!

But PRAXY is the END, and DOXY is merely ONE of the MEANS to that END.

“God is love” is said in the Scriptures, not “God is doctrine” or “God is orthodoxy.”

To me, one of the bad consequences of the “New Apologists” movement among Catholics in the USA is that promotes a kind of “Saved by Orthodoxy” mentality.

Of course, it is all more complicated than that. But, life is short, so, that’s all I’m going to say!

According to Judaism, orthopraxy is more important than orthodoxy, even–or, in a sense, especially–for so-called Orthodox Jews, many of whom prefer the name Torah Jews. Judaism and its Law are based on moral behavior. One can have all the faith in the world, but if that faith is not practiced in one’s daily life, it is of little use.

Another possible answer to the question is that this distinction is a false dichotomy, in that the practice of faith is the only sure sign of having it to begin with.

One who knows the truth and occasionally fails is a sinner, with a hope of redemption. One who rejects the truth but lives a charitible life is merely a social worker.

I think both are important. Orthodoxy, if I correctly understand how you are using it, is understanding of God’s truth. We need to know God’s truth to be able to practice that faith, to do righteous deeds. For example, the alleviation of suffering is a good thing. However, mercy killing is not an acceptable way to do alleviate that suffering. So we must both know the right thing to do and then to have the will to do it. We cannot go runing off doing deeds while not knowing if they are right or not, but neither can we say that we know the right things and not act on them.

You can’t have one without the other and expect to be saved. False dichotomies injure the completeness of the Catholic religion.

Without faith it is impossible to please God (cf. Hebrews 11:6). Without faith, good works cannot lead one to salvation. “Since “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.” (CCC 161)

What is this faith? The First Vatican Council defined it like this:

“This faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, the Catholic Church professes to be a supernatural virtue, by means of which, with the grace of God inspiring and assisting us,** we believe to be true what He has revealed**, not because we perceive its intrinsic truth by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself, who makes the revelation and can neither deceive nor be deceived.”
ewtn.com/library/councils/v1.htm#4

As such, orthodoxy goes hand in hand with faith. That’s why heresy is considered a sin against faith and the First Commandment. (cf. CCC 2809).

But, as we all know, faith without works is dead (cf. James 2:26). and works are therefore also necessary for salvation.

I agree that both are important. Faith without works is dead.

Basing St James on your above definition, this is my reply. :slight_smile:

James 2:19-22 You believe that there is one God. You do well: the devils also believe and tremble. But will you know, O vain man, that faith [orthodoxy] without works [orthopraxy] is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works [orthopraxy], offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? You see that faith [orthodoxy] did cooperate with his works [orthopraxy] and by works [orthopraxy] faith [orthodoxy] was made perfect?

I think what you did say was awesome! Thank you for the reply! Yes, life is short so … :dancing:

Maybe the reason I thought of “dancing” has to do with an Alan Watts lecture excerpt, from which his relatives and South Park animators made this clip: Music and Life.

Thank you for an informative reply!

Perhaps it is a false dichotomy, but maybe it isn’t. An extreme example comes to mind. Even animals do helpful things to other members of the species. Do they do it from kindness? We’ve seen dogs rescuing other dogs. We see mothers protect their young. We see ants sacrificing themselves to make a bridge over a stream so that others may cross.

So to me, if we don’t at least do these things, we are worse off than animals, and obviously what we do is not going to be pleasing to God. :mad:

But if we act “like animals” in the social sense, and help each other out, is that not pleasing to God, compared to not doing the right things without regard to our beliefs? And in fact if we profess to believe but still don’t do the right things, doesn’t that make it worse? Then I’d say we are “evildoers,” rather than just clueless.

But what if we act “like animals” in the social sense I’ve alluded to, in that we help each other out in a sacrificial way, and believe in God, know we are doing His work, and open ourselves to His improvements and guidance? Then I’d say we have it all, and can look forward with hope to Divine Union. :heaven:

I notice you didn’t say God is displeased at having social workers. So maybe God is still happy with our work and smiles down at us in a loving way. Does he at the same time grieve that we don’t believe, or long that we do? Does God “long” anyway, since He really doesn’t “need” us? After all, He could make a replacement for us, then send it back in time to live out our entire lives in such a way we wouldn’t even know it’s not us! :stuck_out_tongue: But He doesn’t, because He is pure love and not just “using” us to get a job done with no heavenly reward available?

Here’s a tough question: does a dedicated social worker who has had Christianity explained by fallible human beings and rejected it, go to hell? Or is that a false dichotomy in itself? :hmmm:

I like your point. We can have all the greatest intentions in the world, but without knowing and understanding our faith, we may make wrong decisions in ignorance and end up doing temporal damage? I mean, if the intentions are good and you have no way to know you did the wrong thing, then I don’t suspect there would be a lot of spiritual damage – how could there be? Because we would fall into “invincible ignorance” in that case? :confused:

I’m thinking of Peter. Cutting off the servant’s ear. Telling Jesus “surely not You, Master!” Walking on water only to experience fear and sink. Would you say He was spirit-led in doing those things? :nunchuk:

Tough question: Why would Jesus build His Church on someone who obviously had a good heart and plenty of motivation, but kept doing the wrong things? Is that an example of the “foolishness of God” or the “wisdom of God that is foolish to the worldly mind?” :whacky:

Alan

God doesn’t call the equipped. God equips the called. :slight_smile:

Awesome!

I don’t think they should be set up as comparatives.

I replied to another poster about my presenting a false dichotomy. Maybe it is, but by the excellence of the replies I’m getting I think it was a worthy thought exercise. At least it’s good for me. :wink:

Without faith it is impossible to please God (cf. Hebrews 11:6). Without faith, good works cannot lead one to salvation. “Since “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.” (CCC 161)

This is a good counterpoint to the issue I have brought forth, and I thank you for enticing me to go read Hebrews 11:6 so I could get some context. Completing the verse and adding the next one I think is interesting to consider together:

Heb 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

So basically it sounds like you cannot have works without faith. Earlier we established you really can’t have faith without works. Maybe this shows that the thread question really is a false dichotomy, so that would imply the answers to the quiz are neither right nor wrong, but representative of the personal situation of the voter and what is going on in their faith life?

OK how about the next passage:

Heb 11:7
By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen, with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household. Through this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

See? I want to protest here. Because Noah deliberately disobeyed God and it wasn’t until the fish incident – making world history forever – that Noah was convinced. Why is he being held up as an example? Or perhaps could we get from this, that Noah repented and that pleases heaven more than 99 who did not need to repent – and then got around to doing the Lord’s work?

I don’t give Noah credit here for being like the son who said, “no” but then went and did the right thing because let’s face it: he was pretty much forced into it by correction unlike any other that had ever before or will ever again be given to a man.

So I guess that says that if that’s what it would take convince me to do the right thing, I’m probably in trouble. :eek:

What is this faith? The First Vatican Council defined it like this:

** we believe to be true what He has revealed**, not because we perceive its intrinsic truth by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself, who makes the revelation and can neither deceive nor be deceived."

I also like the part right after your highlight “not because … reason, …” This speaks to me because I strove like the dickens to understand my faith and ended up going crazy. It is beyond human reason. God had to take me on a path totally unlike anything I would have chosen – or even found tolerable – if I’d had an advance choice. I truly would have been the rich man who walked away sadly because I couldn’t detach from my possessions and talents.

As such, orthodoxy goes hand in hand with faith. That’s why heresy is considered a sin against faith and the First Commandment. (cf. CCC 2809).

But, as we all know, faith without works is dead (cf. James 2:26). and works are therefore also necessary for salvation.

Hence, your assertion it’s a false dichotomy. :thumbsup:

Yes, it could be a false dichotomy.

Alan

I believe that you are mixing up the stories of Noah and Jonah. Noah built the ark, (Genesis 6, 7, and 8) Jonah got eaten by the big fish. (Book of Jonah)

Buddhism is the ne plus ultra of orthopaxy. A community of monk may not care what you believe, but if you want to live with them, you might have to wear a saffron robe that is off the right shoulder. If you’d rather wear it off the left shoulder, there’s a community of monks down the road that does that, and they are truly Buddhists, but if that’s how you want to practice, you have to do that other them.

I’m not sure if Christianity is the ne plus ultra of orthodoxy, but it may not be far off in the context of the above. I guess what I most like about Christainityy, and Catholicism especially, is that it is both/and not either/or.

Billy

+JMJ+

I too feel this is a false dichotomy, but if I really have to choose between the two, it is orthodoxy, right belief, that is more important, the reason being that you cannot do the right things if you do not believe the right things.

Let me ask this: of which is Jesus more often disappointed with his disciples in the Gospels, that they have little love, or that they have little faith?

Even the parable of the judgement of the nations in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25 presupposes orthodoxy, in that each and every person has the primordial moral code written in their hearts, according to the doctrine of natural law:

CCC 1954 Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:

[INDENT]The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted.[/INDENT]

OMG! You are absolutely right! I can’t believe I just did that!

:rotfl:

Now I feel like a total fool, instead of a partial one. :o

I take back everything I wrote about Noah/Jonah. Jury disregard that evidence. :smiley:

Alan

That’s really a good point. But on the other hand, those whose faith He was chiding were the ones he chose as His followers. But is “faith” synonymous with “orthodoxy?” It seems to me faith has an intellectual component and a more “touchy-feely” component similar to trust. When the disciples woke up Jesus in the boat, for example, it was because of fear I assume, in place of trust. Like it doesn’t seem like an issue of the disciples not understanding the He was God. Or maybe it was some of both? So yeah, back to the false dichotomy.

But what about the things that really got Jesus going? Other than the money changers in the temple, it seems He focused wrath almost exclusively on those who knew the faith inside and out from an intellectual (orthodoxy) standpoint, but behaved unacceptably toward those they judged to be inferior to themselves.

Even the parable of the judgement of the nations in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25 presupposes orthodoxy, in that each and every person has the primordial moral code written in their hearts, according to the doctrine of natural law:

I’m not sure how you mean that. Both the righteous and the accursed were unaware their acts directed toward Jesus’s siblings; it was their behavior toward each other that determined which group they were in, was it not?

CCC 1954 Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:

[INDENT]The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted.[/INDENT]

Maybe I have some apophatic leanings or something, but I don’t believe this law that is written on our hearts, is based on an intellectual understanding, but an intuitive intent to do good and not bad. When I think of “orthodoxy” I think of intellectual understanding, which is something we are taught. Based on how well we are taught and where we are in our journeys, we may work in harmony or in dissonance with this silent love that’s built into us, or it may simply be lost in the noise of our busy minds. That’s why I like contemplative prayer – it intends to help with that.

It’s fine with me if you want to say orthodoxy is more important, and I respect that you also mentioned the false dichotomy which I do not deny. So please accept my replies as personal reactions rather than objections. :slight_smile:

Thank you for your post. :tiphat:

Alan

Orthodoxy:
**God is love **. 1 John 4:16

Orthopraxy:
** Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. **1 John 4:16

…to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

At the evening of life we shall be judged on our love St John of the Cross

Couldn’t vote. :slight_smile:

:slight_smile:

Thank you for posting! :tiphat:

Alan

:thumbsup: This.

Part of believing the “right thing” is believing in the moral obligation to put faith into action. Jesus tells us to love God AND neighbor.

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