I Don’t Believe The Way You Do: And I’m Still A Catholic!

conformity-2It is clear that Jesus was not a member of any of the sects of Judaism in his time (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, or Zealots). Jesus was critical of much of these sect’s beliefs and practices, but also praised them when they were in line with the goodness and love of God. Jesus was not beholden to one theological construct over another, and Jesus never identified with any of these sects as his own. He simply was a “believer” and called God his Father. Jesus was a universalist; he was for everyone, and that is why Jesus was a Catholic.

In his book, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind, scholar and Catholic priest Raymond Brown found seven distinct traditions in the various churches that were started by the apostles. Brown said, “There is no reason why there could not have been in the one city house churches of different traditions….”[i] Yet, Brown shows that even though these churches had different traditions and theological emphases, they would have still have been in communion with one another.

So, Jesus was not a member of any sect, and the early Christians did not practice exclusivism even as members of unique traditions. Yet, today Christians, to become members of churches, are obliged to hold to the distinctives of the various denominations and sects of Christianity, which way too often do not have communion with one another. Even within a particular tradition there are those who would criticize and even condemn those who don’t hold perfectly to a certain “party-line” of dogmatic teachings. Rigid religious exclusivism abounds and is often encouraged!

This is why I am advocating well-ordered anarchism as the solution to the exclusivism nightmare from which so many Christians cannot seem to awake. I want us all to be Catholics (universalists), if you will, no matter what group or non-group you identify with. All who even remotely have faith in Jesus are Catholics, no matter if some Grand Poohbah, clergy person, or even the person sitting next to you in a pew tries to say otherwise. You are free in Christ! You are beautiful before God!

Some of the issues of which I have been indoctrinated by an Evangelical or conservative Catholic upbringing are simply man-made constructs based on a narrow and often times erroneous interpretation of Scripture. For instance, Just-War Theory simply does not line up with Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels. Rigid and absolutist teachings about divorce and remarriage, male-only clergy, hierarchical organization, homosexuality, abortion, capitalism, and how we see other religions are simply unhelpful and, worse, they are hurtful and oppressive.

It is time to do away with the denominations, do away with rigid dogmatism, do away with systems of theology which are exclusivist, do away with church institutionalism, and to embrace the diversity of belief which Jesus and the early church proclaimed and embraced.  It is time to see God for who God really is and always has been: Ultimate Love! When we do this, we can be like Jesus, the One and True Catholic.

© Paul Dordal, 2017

[i] Raymond E. Brown, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1984, 23.


2 thoughts on “I Don’t Believe The Way You Do: And I’m Still A Catholic!

  1. James A. Bing April 5, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Very interesting position, I wonder how this was received by your fellow clergy and especially the Bishops of your church. Not certain as to what, well-ordered anarchism, means.
    I do believe that we should pursue God and God is ultimate love, not sure about His not wanting us to uphold some things that point righteous living, Jesus loved all but did uphold standards.
    God Bless you Paul


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul Dordal April 5, 2017 / 2:28 pm

    Hey Jim, good to hear from you. As far as the other Syro-Chaldean clergy/bishops response to my theological musings, I have never heard from any of them. Perhaps they don’t read my stuff. Nevertheless, I am practicing imaginative and prophetic theology in much of what I write here. I do not claim it is consistent with the teachings of the Syro-Chaldean Church.

    I do agree with you that Jesus did uphold standards, and the highest one was love of God, neighbor, and self. Certainly, living righteous lives is a priority for the Christian, but I think sometimes this is focused on so much, that it is too much about individual piety rather than the collective good. American Christians focus on holiness as abstaining from sin almost to the exclusion of holiness as the practicing of the good.

    I do hope you will get a chance to read my book when it comes out in a few weeks. It will show that “well-ordered anarchism” is not so much a new way of looking at Christian faith, but a more engaged way of living for Jesus.

    Thanks again for dialoguing with me. Much love and peace to you and Lourdes.


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