“True orthodoxy”It’s ‘too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals,’ writes columnist in San Francisco’s archdiocesan newspaperMAY 21, 2011 (http://calcatholic.com) - “Purity of dogma alone doesn't make us disciples of Jesus,” writes Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, in a syndicated column published May 16 in the archdiocesan newspaper Catholic San Francisco.
“What makes for a healthy, balanced, orthodox faith?” asks Fr. Rolheiser. His answer is that orthodoxy is more complicated than not “crossing a dogmatic boundary” or “stretching Christian truth further than it may be stretched.”
“Heresies are dangerous, but the danger is two-sided,” opines Fr. Rolheiser. “Faith beliefs that do not respect proper dogmatic boundaries invariably lead to bad religion and to bad moral practice. Real harm occurs. Dogmatic boundaries are important. But, equally important, we don't do God, faith, religion, and the church a favor when our beliefs are narrow, bigoted, legalistic, or intolerant… God, religion, and the churches are, I suspect, more hurt by being associated with the narrowness and intolerance of some believers than they are by any theoretical dogmatic heresy. Right truth, proper faith, and true fidelity to Jesus Christ demand too that our hearts are open and wide enough to radiate the universal love and compassion that Jesus incarnated.”
“Anyone who reads the Gospels and misses Jesus' repeated warnings about legalism, narrowness, and intolerance is reading selectively,” writes Fr. Rolheiser. “Granted, Jesus does warn too about staying within the bounds of proper belief (monotheism and all that this implies) and proper morals (the commandments, love of our enemies, forgiveness), but he stresses too that we can miss the real demands of discipleship by not going far enough in letting ourselves be stretched by his teachings.”
“True orthodoxy,” continues Fr. Rolheiser, “asks us to hold a great tension, between real boundaries beyond which you may not go and real borders and frontiers to which you must go. You may not go too far, but you must also go far enough. And this can be a lonely road. If you carry this tension faithfully, without giving in to either side, you will no doubt find yourself with few allies on either side, that is, too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals.
That tension, writes Fr. Rolheiser, is “something we are meant live daily in our lives rather than something we can resolve once and for all. Indeed the deep root of this tension lies right within the human soul itself.”
“We live always in the face of two opposing dangers: disintegration and petrification,” Fr. Rolheiser concludes. “To stay healthy we need to know our limits and we also need to know how far we have to stretch ourselves. The conservative instinct warns us about the former. The liberal instinct warns us about the latter. Both instincts are healthy because both dangers are real.”
To read Fr. Rolheiser’s full commentary in Catholic San Francisco, Click Here.