Does Doctrine Matter Anymore?

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76 Responses

  1. stu says:

    Does a winsome character trump doctrine?

    Gag me with a Joel Osteen. Non Catholics like this pope because, as you say, his charm and his reaching out to the poor. That’s good stuff, even good doctrine, but it’s still Rome. I won’t say this man is the antichrist but he has some of the qualifications.

    I have anathemas to spare. Anathamas all around. 😉

  2. Bob Sweat says:

    While I certainly have my differences doctrinally with the Pope, I do admire his humility. At a time when Protestant superstars major on “Things”, it is refreshing to see a leader who refuses the luxury that comes with his position.

  3. Michael says:

    I think he’s stuck a chord…I just haven’t completely defined what chord that is.

  4. I actually think this is kind of easy. People like nice people. People who do kind acts receive admiration.

    In that sense, no, his doctrine does not matter. The same way I can admire the good deeds of Ghandi, or MLK, or Mandela, I can admire the good deeds of this pope.

    I do not, and will not ever, agree with his doctrine.

  5. Ricky Bobby says:

    No, disagree strongly.

    Pope Francis is addressing the sin and corruption in his Camp and he is addressing the most significant ills of our World vs. nitpicking what people do in their bedrooms.

    To spell it out clearly:

    Pope Francis is judging his Church first and cleaning house after acknowledging sin/errors, he is then speaking to the worst of sins of the World: Greed (instead of making phony taboos out of what people do in their bedrooms) and he is emulating the Good Jesus of the Gospels by going out an helping poor people (though an argument could be made that the RCC could do a lot more with all that money they have).

    I don’t think this Pope is nearly perfect, I’m sure some of it is PR, but he’s doing a lot better than any other religious Guru I’ve seen from Evangelicalism (so far).

  6. Michael says:


    The thing that interests me is that this kindness is considered unique and refreshing.
    What does this say about the impression that many people have about religious leaders?

  7. “What does this say about the impression that many people have about religious leaders?”

    That most of them are anonymous.

  8. Laura Scott says:

    I, for one, am very thankful for the Pope, so says this former Catholic. Why?

    Because this man’s humility and folksiness has eroded the distance people feel between themselves and Rome. My mother and sister are devout Catholics and this man has re-energized their faith in both men and the Scriptures. That’s a big YAY GOD from me any day.

    The church (meaning us Protestants) need to stop being so freaking paranoid and superior about how we think the faith needs to be grown and lived out. The majority of the pitched battles on this blog are over differences in opinion rather than that of doctrine. Don’t get me wrong: doctrinal importance is central to our faith. I am not debating that.

    Just as Diana moved a world with extending a non-gloved hand to an AIDS patient, so did the Pope did with touching a disfigured man who many of us would think twice about.

    Pope Francis on the church: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

    More of that kind of thinking would help the church as a whole, rather than sitting prideful and distant. That kind of thinking helps people get off their butts and into ministry which I believe we all can agree needs to happen more now than ever.

    Our fearfulness can only hamper our faith and get in the way of unconditional ministry.

  9. Michael says:


    I appreciated that quote from the Pope as well…

  10. stu says:

    Michael #3- The chord is C major dominant read in Roman numerals and played for the masses.

  11. Bob Sweat says:

    I agree with RB.

  12. Jim says:

    Time is in the business of selling media, in this case a magazine. The annual run up includes releasing a list of contenders, which garners free press. Then the big reveal..”it’s whatshisname!”, which garners more free press which leads to big newsstand bank.

    Who gives a rip what Time thinks? This was the safest choice they could have made.

  13. Michael says:


    I imbibe a lot of “Christian” thought from a lot of places…and this pope has better press even among the Reformed than any I’ve ever seen.
    I have a theory…that simple kindness and grace is not something we associate with religious leaders in this country anymore and that one who models those traits will be beloved no matter his doctrinal stance.
    This is a reaction against perceptions in my opinion.

  14. Ixtlan says:

    “Does a winsome character trump doctrine?”

    Yes. Even easier barriers than doctrine are ethics and vice.

  15. Jim says:


    I’ve chosen to disassociate with religious “leaders”. I interact with heroes of the faith on a regular basis, none of whom will ever become a celebrity.

    I think that we should do our part to starve the machine.

  16. Jim says:

    ….and feed what we want to thrive.

  17. I don’t mind him being a nice guy, humble and all that stuff. Since most people don’t understand the difference between Catholics & Protestants, I guess he presents a good image to the world.

    But you know, this guy is old school right back to the 16th century. When he was at the World Youth Rally in South America this summer, he gave out indulgences to people who watched live feeds of the event.

    I don’t know about you, but offering indulgences instead of Jesus makes him a classic anti Christ.

  18. I think the Time person of the year is more for making news than anything else. Once, even Hitler was the Man of the Year.

  19. Yes, doctrine matters, but it cuts both ways. The “prosperity Gospel” of so many Evangelical leaders has the same hubris as paid indulgences. I think it may too soon to make absolute judgements about Pope Francis either way. Give it a number of years, look at the totality of what he does (or does not) do and then evaluate his work as a pastor. To return to a familiar theme, the Chuck Smith of the late 1960s turned out to be somewhat different than the Chuck Smith of 2010. At the very least, we can rejoice that Francis speaks the words of the Gospel with humility and has made a choice to align his life and lifestyle with those words.

  20. Not a fan Bob says:

    I’m not sure how to take the comments here but I think there’s universal truth in the idea people like those who are kind and helpful to them. But, is there an inherent danger in that human trait. From the beginning it seems so.

    As RB states about the Pope’s qualities, we need more men and women who will stand up for what is right and good, but what is right and good? This Pope is clearly making his mark, as has every pope before him, the danger is he represents an organization which teaches a right belief system, theirs.

    Loving nice people is good except when they come between loving God with all your heart, soul and power and when they come between loving others.

    Do I love right belief systems of something else and would a flower that rises in the spring be equally as difficult symbol as the Pope?

  21. Ixtlan says:

    “I think that we should do our part to starve the machine.”

    There it is. Stop being fuel that keeps the fires burning.

  22. MIchael,

    I’ll be in the car most of the day and won’t be able to interact much (if at all), but two things:

    1. You gotta hand it to a guy who can elicit the praises of the most Christianity-hating sector of the American public, all the while acknowledging, and getting them to acknowledge out loud, that he has no intention to compromise the teachings of the Church on those hot-button issues.

    2. The anathemas of Trent have nothing to do with you. It’s a technical matter of canon law, but anathemas do not apply to people in situations like yours, but are directed toward Catholics who knowingly embrace heretical teachings. If you want a more thorough explanation, I’m sure I could locate one for you.

    Here’s a piece I wrote on Francis for Creed Code Cult:

  23. MLD, I think Hitler was Man of the YEar in 1939 or so, when he was just rising to power, and people thought he was really good.

    I could be wrong.

  24. Josh, Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 – I think people knew he was bad. Everyone was at war in 1939 except the USA.

  25. Bob Sweat says:

    The Time nominees for 2013 were:

    President of Syria Bashar Asaad, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Singer Miley Cyrus, Leader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis, President of the United States Barack Obama, President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, N.S.A. Leaker Edward Snowden and gay rights activist Edith Windsor.

    Although I’m sure MLD was disappointed that Miley lost, I think Time made the best choice.

  26. Bob,
    I think Miley on the cover ‘twerking’ would have sold more magazines – so yes I am disappointed. 😉

  27. Okay, I googled it. He was man of the year in ’38. Don’t know if it was in appreciation or not, but it was before Poland.

  28. Michael says:


    “At the very least, we can rejoice that Francis speaks the words of the Gospel with humility and has made a choice to align his life and lifestyle with those words.”

    I’m hoping this becomes contagious…

  29. Laura Scott says:

    Concerning Germany in 1939, you have to get that from someone who lived there at that time. My uncle, originally from Munich, gave me a picture of Germany during that time that few of our textbooks ever address. Hitler, as hard as this is to believe, got his country moving again during a recession which crippled the nation in ways our country did not experience.

    The country went from people starving on the streets to full scale industry. And as so many before him (and certainly since), the moment Hitler started believing his own press is when everything went south and horrifically so.

    According to my uncle, if you went with the party, you ate.

    People will go with a lot of bad ideology to keep eating.

  30. Josh, no one in Europe liked Hitler – even before Poland. The guy had support in Germany and was rattling everyone for a couple of years before Poland.

    I doubt the editors of Time, said “Hitler is a swell guy and deserves to be on our cover.”

  31. Nonnie says:

    I like what Matt Redmond said, “I continue to love Pope Francis despite my Calvinism.”

    What I have seen of the new pope is humility and love. As one outside of the Catholic church, he seems like a decent, humble man who is trying to make some changes and point others to Christ. Some of the theology of the Catholic church I can’t abide by, but I’m guessing there are believers who would say the same about some theology I happen to believe.

  32. Noelle says:

    I do love this Pope.
    His authenticity (words matching deed) is profoundly inspiring..

    He has struck an elusive balance, and that is to connect deeply with one kingdom while not devaluing or trivializing his place in the other.

    My favorite thing about Jesus was his ability to be a perfect heavenly representative wherever he placed his feet. He never feared defilement, rather he brought light into dark.
    While I understand we are no Christ, i think there is far-reaching personal application to be found in that quality.

    I see Francis echoing that quality in his impartial servant-hood.

    He is just someone I like to watch.
    I think he has secrets and I want them.

  33. Andy says:

    “Why do so many find Francis such a breath of fresh air?”

    Anyone that avoids telling you what they really believe, will be perceived as nice and fun and jolly.

    As soon as you require them to delineate exactly what they believe, you will find the same zeal for their beliefs as anyone has.

    In that, I’m sorry, but that makes him more of a hypocrite, in my opinion, than the person that is up front about what they believe, and clear about it. Yes we speak the truth in love, but it still has to be speaking the truth.

  34. Michael,

    Many thanks. Contagious… Yes. Can you imagine if Christian leaders actually competed to align their lives, churches and, yes, even their wealth, with the values of the Gospel. It would be a wonder…

  35. I find this pope to be refreshing.

    Trent is troublesome, indeed, but for me, as long as The Blessed Mother, The Ever Virgin Mary, Co-Redemptrix & Co-Mediatrix remains as a doctrinal cornerstone of the Roman Catholic doctrine I can remain friends with my RCC family but I cannot ever return to membership.

  36. Julie Anne says:

    I think he’s stuck a chord…I just haven’t completely defined what chord that is.

    Maybe augmented?

    signed, JA, the smart-alec musician

  37. Noelle says:

    I like Julie Anne. 🙂

  38. The pope, with a raised 5th?!?

  39. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Pope Francis= False Teacher of a False Religion. These Popes allow themselves to be worshipped by people unlike the Angel who told John that he is his fellow servant and to only worship God.

  40. Bob Sweat says:

    And then came Solomon.

  41. Noelle says:

    *bites clean through tongue*

  42. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    “And then came Solomon.”

    I am wrong? Ephesians 5:11- I for one am not fooled by this guy, it’s a public image you see on the T.V Wonderdland. Wolf in sheeps clothing! I wasn’t fooled by Obama either, now everyone is crying about him.

  43. Dude says:

    Nothing will change in Rome in the matters of church doctrine.Yes the pope wants to get back to basics…..yet in the end it will only be for a short time.Then a new pope will arise and then what.

  44. Bob Sweat says:

    Solomon you’re just an overall smart guy. When I grow up I want to be like you.

  45. covered says:

    Bob, you read my mind. I wondered how long it was going to take for church hating, pastor hating & pope hating Sol Rod to impart some of his infinite wisdom, love and grace on this thread.

  46. erunner says:

    It’s interesting but it seems Rick Warren has been doing a lot of good in reaching out to the least of these yet he seems to have a bulls eye stuck to his back. Doctrine though, must matter at some point lest we forget Who it is that separates us from the rest of the world.

  47. covered says:

    erunner, I agree but I think in Rick’s case most of the bulls eye was painted by our friends at CC. It wasn’t until after Rick and Greg L became friends that others in that tribe realized that maybe Rick wasn’t the enemy after all. I think that the whole Purpose Driven stuff did more harm than good for the opinion of Rick’s celebrity peers but Saddleback does a lot of community service both domestic and abroad.

  48. erunner says:

    covered, Maybe I’m mistaken but it seemed Warren was getting it from everywhere. I sure hope all of the discernment folks aren’t CC! Also from what I’ve read here it seems that CC is split as far as Warren is concerned as well as other issues which may become lines in the sand as time moves on. I don’t know if tightrope is the right description but I feel like I’m on one at times as I seek to find unity with as many in the body as possible. And I will confess I don’t know enough about the RCC as so many here do but there’s still some apprehension on my part as to how I see them. And yes, that comes from over 30 years being a part of CC. Hope you’re well.

  49. Ricky Bobby says:

    SolRod is entitled to his opinions as much as any of us. I agree with some of his take and disagree on other stuff, but he’s doing no differently than any of us…he affirms what he agrees with and blasts away at what he doesn’t.

  50. Eric says:

    Being Time’s Person of the Year does not imply that someone good. It’s always been someone who has been influential. A number of dictators have been man of the year.

    Two previous popes have also been man of the year.

  51. erunner says:

    I saw myself today and it wasn’t pretty. I’m reading a lot about good deeds and doctrine here and at times we/I tend to measure myself not really knowing what I’m capable of. I went to a gas station today and the pumps on the aisle I pulled into were all clear. As people enter the islands from both sides I stopped at the first pump just in case another person pulled in from the opposite direction. Little did I know there was a car right behind me. As I got out of my car the guy behind me is honking and gesturing at me with his hands. And then I snapped. I yelled at him to not hassle me loud enough for all to hear. The man got out of his car, went inside and paid. I went over to him and apologized and I could tell I shook him up a bit. He responded and said God’s peace be with you. I responded and told him that wasn’t me and then added that maybe it was. He said all was forgiven and I finished up and left. One of the things about me is I am a low key man who today forgot his flesh is not mortified. I asked God for forgiveness and later on I was back in good spirits. Being a nice guy, having sound doctrine can be quite deceiving if our hearts aren’t right or we think too highly of ourselves.

  52. Bob Sweat says:

    There’s opinions, and there’s the I know more than you attitude.

  53. I like a lot of what Pope Francis does.
    I think he really feels for people and sympathizes with them.

    Some I don’t.
    I agree with MLD, the whole indulgences thing was like a blast from Reformation past.

    I do think that when we try too hard to ensure that everyone likes us, a lot of times we end up sacrificing truth.
    Jesus after all said a lot of things people didn’t want to hear and look at where that got him at the time.
    Sometimes, you have to say things people just don’t want to hear, even if it costs you popularity.
    Christianity isn’t about being popular.

    But ultimately, it is up to Catholics to judge him, after all, last time I looked he wasn’t in charge of me.

  54. Not so good Bob says:

    How come this thread has degenerated into whether or not the Pope is a good guy or not?

    The issue Michael brings up seems to be this, does it make a difference if a person is a “good guy” and yet teaches a doctrine and theology of God which seems to clearly be in error?

    How about Robert Schuler, and Jack Hayford or some other persons who are “good guys” and yet on the edge of doctrine and theology, where do we draw the line or should a line actually be drawn?

  55. How about L Ron Hubbard if he were a sweet guy and won Man of the year? Does doctrine matter?

  56. Here is what I know about Robert Schuler. Crystal Cathedral. That is it. Never listened to him or felt the need to.
    I had to google Jack Hayford and he doesn’t really ring a bell.

    All I now about Pope Francis is what they show him doing in the media. I hear a story hear and there, but I haven’t felt the need to dig any deeper on his beliefs.
    I am sure they actually conform to RCC teachings, he just isn’t emphasizing them.
    I could be mistaken though..
    Like I said, he isn’t really relevant to me. I am Protestant, he isn’t.

    Everyday pastors, like those you meet on here are far more relevant to me.

  57. erunner says:

    A point I tried to illustrate I just saw demonstrated on the tube. Bill O’Reilly was doing an interview about a religious commercial ESPN wouldn’t air. As he was explaining why he thought it was stupid on the part of ESPN is that the United States is 80% Christian. Now O’Reilly isn’t a theologian but it’s clear that we are not a nation comprised of 80% Christians. That type of thinking opens the door to all sorts of nice people who do nice things being seen as Christians. I’m sure there are many nice satanists that live among us but we know their good works count for nothing as do the good works of Mormons, JW’s etc. I see a move towards inclusiveness as to who are believers and it’s logical end seems to be that all roads lead to God as long as you are sincere. There will be no hell for unbelievers. Jesus’ death on the cross will essentially become meaningless.

  58. Dude says:

    80percent christian more like closer to30 at most.

  59. filbertz says:

    for me, respect and alignment are two significantly different things. I have grown to respect the current Pope largely for two reasons: first, he has refused many of the palatial trappings of the position opting instead for a simpler, more accessible, humbler, more identifiable papacy. Second, he is a thoughtful, literate, critic of the church he leads and has sounded a tone of accountability and reform. I didn’t grow up in Catholicism nor do I feel drawn toward it, but I will speak respectfully of the Pope as long as he continues to earn it.

  60. randallslack says:

    Interesting… 10 comments on the previous post for Saheed, and 59 for Francis. Just saying…

  61. So as far as doctrine Michael why is it always about Trent? While trent has not be rescinded it has been superseded by Vatican II which was far more generous about the salvation of non-catholics.

    As for liking the Pope… my friends believe him to be charismatic and thus very open to a fresh renewal in the Catholic church and they believe the rhetoric they are hearing about the need for the church to be genuinely converted to faith in Christ.

    I am parroting what I have heard so I cannot be an apologist on these matters. But humility always finds friends.

  62. Ian Elsasser says:

    MLD said, “But you know, this guy is old school right back to the 16th century. When he was at the World Youth Rally in South America this summer, he gave out indulgences to people who watched live feeds of the event.”
    MLD, he did the same thing the day he was announced to the world after being selected, for all who were tuned in to the event.

  63. The pope has an unlimited access to what is called The Treasury of Merit – in other words he could hand out unlimited indulgences.

    If he was really such a nice guy, why doesn’t he spring everyone from purgatory and release them to their final destination, which would be heaven anyway? He could do it – but he won’t.

  64. J.U. says:

    The question on the floor is “does doctrine matter any more?”

    I think, before it can be answered, it has to be qualified.

    “To whom.”

    What does doctrine mean to the 80% of Americans mentioned above that are “Christians”?

    What does doctrine mean to the 20% or 30% of Americans mentioned above that are “real Christians”?

    I added the word “real”.

    What does doctrine mean to the percentage of Americans that post on this blog?

    So the answer to the question will depend a lot on who you ask, as well as what you think is the belief system of the 50% of Americans that are in the 80% and not in the 20-30%. Then there’s the 20% of Americans that are not Christian.

    Now, what percentage of Americans actually read Time?

    Always answer a question with a question. It make you look smarter. 🙂

  65. Solomon Rodriguez says:


    You got one out of three right, can’t stand the Pope. Just cuz I disagree with the untouchable Steve Wright doesn’t mean I hate Pastors.


    So true, if I had dissed Mark Driscoll no one, woulda said a word but because its the Pope they get up in arms. Folks here aren’t very consistent.

  66. Who got up in arms?
    I saw one or two people that responded to you and “up in arms” doesn’t quite make the cut there Sol.

  67. Solomon Rodriguez says:


    Again your Avatar bears a striking resembalance to “Dirty” Dutch Mantel

  68. Jim says:

    Yeah, all bearded guys look alike. Except mine’s grey 🙂

  69. Muff Potter says:

    It’s good to see that this thread hasn’t been hi-jacked and turned into 200-plus-comment-Catholic-bashing-fest.

  70. Ricky Bobby says:

    Put a trucker cap on him and it’s Derek! LOL

  71. Jim, you nailed it.
    Had a woman at work, tell me I looked like some dude on American Idol.
    I don’t watch the show, so I had no clue who she was talking about.
    Told my wife and she said “No, you don’t look like him”
    Still have no idea who they were talking about.
    Just some “bearded guy” I suppose.

    Here is a reason for the media to start hating on the pope again.

  72. I will have to give Mark Driscoll props for this.

  73. Not RCC Bob says:

    “Does doctrine matter?”

    Of course it does!

    The Pope is the head of a very large religious organization with a very sordid history and I really don’t care how cool, nice, snappy dresser, or any other “good” thing about him and his organization if they mislead others.

    Kind of reminds me of the ‘God Father’ series of films, “I made him a deal he couldn’t refuse.”

    We need to be real and remember this guy is probably a great neighbor but sells a wicked product.

    Maybe this could be said of him, “love the man, hate the doctrine.”

  74. stu says:

    To tie this up, the new pope has to compete with the coming 12th imam who is expected to surface at any time. Just like Jesus. So we have the real thing and 2 main imitators. This pope is good!

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