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.
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:
“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.
“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.