truth vs love???

One of the dangers of reading too much, is that you store brilliant little nuggets in your brain and then forget where you read them! This is especially true when I`m cyber-surfing. I zip from local to national to international news, checking out several sites for balance. Then it`s time to check out the latest catholic news pages and blogs. Oh, and who can resist those tantalizing head-lines on the Yahoo home-page. Yes, of course I want to see the shocking fashion disaster on the latest red carpet…who doesn`t?!

I read recently (I don`t know where!) that our theology is affected by the emphasis we place on either truth or love. Oh no, yet another dividing line to categorize Catholics. Truth and love are central to our faith. How can we think of placing them in competition?

But, as is often the case, we build up a dichotomy by placing an undue emphasis on one to the detriment of the other. Church history is full of examples. The early councils concerned themselves with the heady question of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. They finally concluded that it`s not either-or, but both-and. Hard to wrap your head around, but such is the reality of mystery.

The reflection around truth-centered or love-centered theology goes something like this. Those who focus on the truth are more concerned about rules and regulations. Faithfulness is measured by obedience to the teachings of the church in all matters.

Those who focus on love are less concerned about dogmas, doctrines and ritual and more concerned about social justice and living the gospel in the world.

We have to be wary of any generalizations or over-simplifications. But, there is some truth (!) in this observation. And, as with other unnecessary dichotomies, they occur when we take the pendulum and swing it too aggressively in one direction or the other. And when we hang around on the extreme edges too long, the judging often begins. Traditionalists accuse the progressives of apostasy or heresy. Progressives accuse traditionalists of having a lack of gospel charity.

There is beauty and harmony when truth and love are in balance. How well do we balance truth and love in our own lives? Do you know someone who exemplifies this balance? What does their faith look like?

8 thoughts on “truth vs love???

  1. As Isabella mentions the truth is that there is a rough edge of our society, the anxiety that fills the airways with anger, frustration, judgments and projections and fears. It is difficult to watch the news, or read the front page of the newspaper. How do we consciously, lovingly, humanly enter into this world?

    Anthony De Mello in his book, “The Song of the Bird” has a great quote about love and truth unfolding in our lives. Please forgive the sexist language, this was written quite some time ago.

    “What does it mean to love God? One does not love him the way one loves the people one sees and hears and touches, for God is not a person in our sense of the word. He is the Unknown. He is the wholly Other. He is above terms like he and she, person and thing.

    When we say an audience fills the hall and a singer’s voice fills the hall, we use the same word to refer to two totally distinct realities. When we say we love God with our whole heart and we love our friend with our whole heart, we also use the same words to express two totally distinct realities. The singer’s voice does not really fill the hall. And we can not really love God in the usual sense of the word.

    To love God with one’s whole heart means to say a whole-hearted Yes to life and all that life brings with it. How did Jesus respond in his historical time frame to truth and love? He accepted without reservations, all that God had ordained for his life, “Not my will, but yours be done.” To love God with one’s whole heart is to make one’s own the words made famous by Dag Hammarskjöld:
    For all that has been, Thanks;
    To all that shall be, Yes.”

    Balancing truth and love seems to me to be more about our capacity to say “yes” to all of life from our love for God. Neither love nor truth is about avoidance, but about entering into the Mystery.

    • “Balancing truth and love seems to me to be more about our capacity to say “yes” to all of life from our love for God. Neither love nor truth is about avoidance, but about entering into the Mystery.”

      Beautifully said, Ray. Thank you!

  2. Oh – loved this. I wrote one similar on Grace and Truth but love could be substituted for grace. I love your last two sentences and the balance is the mystery. Thank you.

  3. Thanks, Marilyn! I tried to find the post on Grace and Truth on your site, with no luck. Can you share the link, please? Reading your blog continues to be a bright moment in my day. 🙂

  4. Soft as Velvet, Hard as Steel….a poetic title, and deep wisdom! Thanks for sharing the link, Marilyn. Your conclusion sums it up beautifully,

    “The reality is that grace and truth combined have never been more needed, never been more longed for, yet never been more divided. We sit in our private truth-only prisons and grace-only chaos pointing the finger, when all the while the two were never intended to be separated.”

    BTW….the quality of your writing is all the pressure I need, thank you! You set such a high standard, especially for a daily blog. A real inspiration! 🙂

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