How many times have you heard this?
All God really cares about is that you are a good person. Or God doesn’t really care about what you believe, just as long as you try to be good. Now would it really surprise you to know that these statements were made by Catholic school students who had 11 years of “Catholic” education? Probably not.
Many of us however, when we are met with the most common liberal/secular challenge are somewhat dumbfounded. Could God really damn someone to hell because they didn’t believe the right thing? So what if someone didn’t teach exactly the right thing?
If you want to really mess them up, just say yes, it is the least expected answer. Yes, if you do not profess the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic faith, you will not be saved. Obviously there are gray areas. Intention comes into play, so someone who teaches heresy without knowing and without correction, then of course, God takes intention into account.
Remove all gray areas for a moment. That is the biggest smokescreen used by liberals to muddy the waters of truth. Pure black and white, does right doctrine matter? YES.
The attempt to remove dogma and doctrine from the place of importance in religion is a modernism. If that was the case, and they didn’t matter, then Our Blessed Lord would not have wasted his time teaching theology, or preaching the resurrection, or for that matter rising from the dead. He would have merely taught people how to share, and probably voted Democrat.
However, our Blessed Lord was very much concerned with right teaching, and right belief.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him may not perish; but may have life everlasting. (John III:14-15)
But it doesn’t matter what you believe.
For if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin. (John VIII:24)
But it doesn’t matter what you believe.
Enter in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter there. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! (Matthew VII:13-14)
But hey, it doesn’t matter what you believe, the wide path is fine after all.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. (Galatians I:8)
Who was that Paul guy anyway? What did he know?
This is just starting with the Bible, let alone Church teaching! First there is either only one religion or no religion by logical necessity. The Bible might be right, or the Qur’an might be right, or neither might be right, but they can’t both be right. This applies to Christianity likewise. All Churches claiming to be Christian contradict each other, therefore they can’t all be right. Since no Church teaches the same thing, only one of them could be right. There is only one fold and one shepherd, not many.
The Catholic Church is the only Church to have maintained the same doctrine going back to the apostles. She has done this, against immense pressure in all times in History for a reason, because she is not a human institution, but a divine one which has men as her members. The heros of the faith, the martyrs, have not shed their blood by the gallon from Nero to Stalin so that they might teach people how to share, or be tolerant or to engage in ecumenical dialogue. They did so because they clung to truth, to the whole teaching of the Church, which is Christ Himself.
Ego sum vita, et veritas……
Our Blessed Lord said that he is the Truth (John XIV:10). He did not say a truth, but the truth. Truth is not a thing, but a who. When Pilate demanded to know what is truth, he did not realize that it was standing before him and his Roman seat of judgment. Thus when someone denies the truth, he denies Christ himself. This is why in the early Church heresy would result in such riots that imperial troops had to be sent in order to quell the fighting. Truth mattered! This is why the Church had convened councils to explain what was always and everywhere believed. At Nicea, the question of Arius had innumerable consequences. If Christ was not God, then that which they did at his command, namely the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, would have been idolatry, since even if it did turn into his body and blood, you would be adoring the body and blood of a man. If Arius was right, we would not be worshipping the true God. However it is not sufficient to stop there and say yeah, but whatever you want to believe is fine. No! Because if you don’t believe in the truth, what kind of God are you worshipping? Is it Christ? If not, take to heart some scripture quotes above and ask yourself, does Jesus care about heresy?
The martyrs, the true Christians, who when push came to shove laid down their lives for God, did not do it for “their version”. They did it for the eternal and unchanging truth. Heresy, which comes from the Greek word hereseo (I choose) is a choice against the truth. It is always centered around a selfishness. All the early heretics are associated with the worst vices: the Judaizers denounced Catholics to Roman authorities, the Donatists lied, forged documents and murdered, the Arians bore false witness and destroyed people’s lives, the Albigensians and the Fraticelli used to seduce innocent virgins and nuns to sex by the reasoning that they would become more pure, or were so pure that the act could not be sinful. Heresy, as a denial of truth, disfigures the soul and makes it prone to vice. Worst of all, it separates one from the true worship of God. Material heresy on the other hand, that is the act of believing a heresy without knowing, has its ill effects slowed by good will. However it is not long before good will gives way, as other subtle activities of life are transformed by heretical thought. The modern world with all of its moral sickness, the world which has deprived men of productive property and made them slaves in factories and cubicles grew out of medieval heresies which denied the truth of Christ and the transforming power of his grace.
True doctrine on the other hand builds up true worship. As the ancient maxim goes, lex oriandi, lex credendi (The law of praying is the law of believing). The Nicene Creed in the original Greek is almost like a song, and was set to music very early by the title of Pisteo, as it is known by “Credo” in Latin. Its articles were theology woven in golden threads which the post Nicene fathers meditated on as their daily bread. The doctrine of the Councils through the ages, rather than chains restricting free thought, are liberating decrees freeing the mind from the deceit of error. The proof of this is in the fact that the doctrine of the Church comes from God not men. Giving assent to an authority other than ourselves removes from us both the decision and the pride inherent in creating one’s own doctrine. Rather than becoming our own lights of doctrine, we submit, not as Muslims do to an impersonal will of God, but to the very person of God, to virtue, to being transformed to be the light expounding His doctrine, not ours. This is something fundamentally different from every other religion in the world.