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Isn’t it enough that I am just a good person?

November 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Church Teaching, Dan Burke, Videos

Isnt it enough … that I am just a good person?

Isn't it enough that I am a good person? What does it matter if I don't believe the doctrines of the Church?

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to bring you this video, entitled “What You Believe Makes a Difference” from Father Robert Barron, founder, in 2000, of the “Word on Fire” ministries, which discusses these questions.  He comments on a survey that shows that there is a disconnect between people's beliefs in Catholic Doctrine and people's sense of their viability as Catholics, such as those who do not accept the doctrine of the real presence of the Eucharist (basic Catholic Doctrine), but still way they are good and faithful Catholics, and those who say it's what you do that matters, not what you believe, what is in the heart and not so much what the Church teaches.

Father Barron (now Bishop Barron) has written a number of books, produced many DVDs, including the popular Catholicism Series, and has a radio show “Word on Fire” which airs on Relevant Radio.  He has appeared on EWTN, Catholic TV and various other shows.

Seek Him – Find Him – Follow Him,


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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Becky Ward

    AMEN!! I needed this today.

    It’s not like we can take credit for being a good person………not when God writes His law in our hearts.

    We cannot obtain a supernatural end, heaven; by purely natural means, being a good person.

    I’m liking Fr. Barron more and more……………..

  • Danny

    I’ve encountered the question in the topic of this video many times in apologetic discussions. Many people want to push aside religion and rely only on their own subjective definition of what it means to be a good person. The question that has always popped into my mind when I encounter these individuals is I understand they are trying to be a good person, but according to who’s terms? Theirs? God’s? Society’s? 

    I’ve spent months now studying ethics in college, and one of the most fundamental lessons a person will learn in class is that the morals and ethics of different cultures come directly from the beliefs, rules, doctrines, etc., the people of that culture adhere to. Given that, when a person says doctrine doesn’t matter, it’s only important that you be a good person, he or she is essentially violating and/or ignoring the basic principles that exist in all cultures. Beliefs and morals come from somewhere; they traditionally are not just invented on the fly.

    People need to dig deeper and think about what they are saying. If they think they are a good person, I ask – good according to what standard? Where does your standard come from? I think Fr. Barron’s video is an excellent starting point to get people thinking.

    God bless.

    • Barbara

      To believe that being good is sufficient for salvation seems to deny
      the fundamental understanding of original sin.
      The Pharisees were “good” but Jesus called them whitewashed

      • Barbara – dead on. Our goodness is real but it is tempered or tainted by sin and even at our best there is an uncrossable chasm of unrighteousness between us and God. Only Christ could span the chasm on our behalf and we walk across only on his shoulders, his strength, and his righteousness.

  • jack g.

    Fr. Barron, he is great and very well versed. I needed this today, too. I was undone again today and this little talk just reinforced my way of thinking or God’s expectations from me. I am sure by now that being good is relative nowadays. Many people who think they are “good” and loving behave in way people in Sodomah did, so being good is not enough. We need doctrine and we need God to make sure we know what is Good. The way world is going nowadays, we need to be more undone and give it to God, only he can fix this mess, what we as Christians can do is to be part of what God entrusted to us. And that is not an easy task, especially in todays world. Just to bring up kids is so hard and difficutl with culture sneaking everywhere into the family, making all relative. We need God more than ever, to do that Christians, I think must trust more and pray more with love and heart full of hope for others that are so lost.

  • Avila Power

    Fr Barron is just wonderful the way he explains everything. His knowledge and and way he explains all the answers about the questions he is asked, is perfect.
    I am anxiously awating “Catholicisn” which has been posted to me from my son in America and should arrive next week. I have spread the Word on Fire to all whom I meet, and will be introducing “Catholicism” into the parish immediately I receive my copy. Carry on the good work Fr Barron, and Fr John and Dan Burke. 2012 has been declared ‘The Year Of Faith’ by Pope Benedict so its up to us to spread the Faith.

  • Genny

    Thank you Fr.Barron for that explanation. I have come across many Catholics with this kind of thinking and have seen the dangers it leads them into. First they believe they are good people and that is more important than any religion especially belief in Jesus Christ. Next they believed they are NOT sinners, they dont have to account for their sins and that there is no hell or the devil. Then they are believed they are gods and have to realise it. Today they are neck deep in the New Age and are fast sinking. They have even begun a Yoga centre and are misleading several other Catholics. God is no where in their lives. Please keep them in your prayers.

  • Lindazdanowicz

    Absolutely wonderful!  I was once one of those people who thought I didn’t have to go to church to be a good person or to go to heaven.  And that proves Fr. Barron’s point; it was all about me, not about love for God or others, even though I didn’t see it that way at the time.  Thinking about my own goodness, or feeling sure I was heaven bound was taking my focus off God and putting it on me.  The longer I stayed away from church, the farther I grew away from God.  
    The gift of my life is the call of our Lord back home to church.  Being away, I can fully appreciate the gift we have as Catholics to receive the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to worship in community.  The love of the Holy Spirit is evident to me every day and my day is spent in communication with God, even if it’s just in the running conversation I have with Him in my mind.  He keeps me aware of loving others and shows me the love He has for me every day.  It wasn’t like that when I thought I was good enough without church.

  • Terr60

    Thank God for Father Barron, This explanation is so well define it brings joy and more clarity of my responsibility of being a Catholic. As I read this I was reflecting on my past and how I don’t want to ever look at life that way.
    Again thank you, God bless you.

  • judeen

     I dont agree at all… His talk is all deep education , but missed what most people are trying to say when asked this question.. he went off to hitler and so on and not beleiving in God at all.. this is not what people are saying … when they answer… scripture talks about Jesus and those who beleive… the centurian, the possesed daughter mother,, so on… Jesus said I have never saw such belief…
         the heart is good or bad… wants to do good .. or bad… we will stand alone infront of God and God will judge the Heart…. no one will stand with us.. we are alone.. , last sundays reading in revelations , when did you do it for me… that is what people are talking about..
       but too… we need doctrine. for the devil is tricky.. and it is easy to be swayed to the right or the left . we see this in even catholic retreats that let all people of all faiths come. they are over whelmed too about the healing and sacraments that heal and have you grow in God and love.. but when they become in charge (run the retreat it starts out good.. but slowly losses what is right and goes very wronge.. for they do not have the boundrys to see what is right.. and go off doing their own thing. too as we grow into holiness , we see greater sins.. as we are purified .. we are not all there yet.. so guideness is needed there to even more.. to grow in Holiness and spiritual warfare… Father miss alot of people , I think…

  • judeen

    I also want to comment on how the church split… people saw there was things wronge… they were all good people… it needed correction … not in the doctorines… but how it was being run.. we had 3 popes for a while at one time.. but Jesus promised HE would Guide His church and that is when all the saints are. .. to guide it back to what was right…. with out the docrtines… the other chuch split, than split again…. and again.. farther and farther away…. from even each other .. the devil ran with it… and to keep His power He keeps us apart…because our faith together fighting for good would be to powerful… (fighting in whos better than the other who knows how to pray so on…) and I heard some one say ,,,once I think they took some gifts from God with them…. but when we come back together agaIN all the gifts will brought together and we will have the fullness of God for the Glory of God….

  • Cathid

    Great post. It’s a question you hear from so many people today not just young people. It’s an excuse given by those who do not wish to “bother” going to Mass every Sunday. We are living in a “feel good” society and people have gotten caught up in the ‘as long as you feel good it can’t be bad”.

    I believe God planted goodness in our hearts and when we fall short we usually know it. It seems to me that if someone is asking the question “isn’t it enough…” it might not be….

    Cathi D

  • Jan England

    Very good video lesson – thank you for posting! I hope I can remember this next time someone says “all that matters is if….” to me!  By the way, Catholicism is very, very good. For those who may not have seen it I would encourage them to try to get a hold of it. Will make an excellent study program in parishes or private groups, too.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Father Barron for this wonderful Post.  Yes, I, too ask this question when someone makes this kind of self-serving comment : “Isn’t it enough that I am a good person”.  O.K. so you are good and you do not need to follow or accept everything the Catholic Church teaches.  And you have decided you can pick and chose what to accept and what to reject because the Catholic Church is….. well…. so archaic and old-fashioned in Her Doctrines, Dogmas, Magisterium and all…..well whose Standard have you used to arrive at the conclusion that you are a Good Person?  At that point the discussion becomes somewhat  fuzzy, incoherent and we begin running around in circles. Then I feel compelled to tell that person, very politely that he/she is treading on very dangerous grounds. I have to keep in mind the 5th Spiritual Work of Mercy : “Be patient with those in error”. 

  • Jimshoe52

    It sounds like the topic is taking about universalism. If so, then many have been hood winked into believing that “being good” will get us into heaven, that “all are saved, all are good regardless. “Universalism is not Just. Universalism violates individual free will.
    Universalism denies the basic teachings of Jesus about hell.
    Universalism denies the basic teachings of Scripture about hell.
    Universalism eliminates the need to accept Christ. Universalism
    determines your eternity (whether you like or not). Universalism
    distorts the love of God. Universalism strips the Gospel of its power.
    Universalism can give someone a false sense of security. Universalism
    can have eternal, irreversible ramifications for its adherents if it is
    not true. Universalism leads to religious and moral indifference.
    Universalism undermines the uniqueness of Christianity. Universalism
    eliminates the need for evangelism.

    If love wins, someone must lose. If not, then the Game is fixed.”

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