I wonder what our Lutheran friends will make of this passage in Evangelii Gaudium (if they read it):
36. All revealed truths derive from the same divine source and are to be believed with the same faith, yet some of them are more important for giving direct expression to the heart of the Gospel. In this basic core, what shines forth is the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead…
38. It is important to draw out the pastoral consequences of the Council’s teaching, which reflects an ancient conviction of the Church. First, it needs to be said that in preaching the Gospel a fitting sense of proportion has to be maintained. This would be seen in the frequency with which certain themes are brought up and in the emphasis given to them in preaching. For example, if in the course of the liturgical year a parish priest speaks about temperance ten times but only mentions charity or justice two or three times, an imbalance results, and precisely those virtues which ought to be most present in preaching and catechesis are overlooked. The same thing happens when we speak more about law than about grace, more about the Church than about Christ, more about the Pope than about God’s word.
The Lutheran tradition also knows a “hierarchy of truths” – or at least one truth that is at the top (or perhaps the foundation) of the heirarchy, namely the article of “justification by faith alone apart from works”. They call this the “article by which the Church stands or falls”. There is a version of Lutheran doctrine derisively called (by other Lutherans) “Gospel reductionism”. This makes the “chief article” the one article that judges all others, to the extent that one’s own personal idiosyncratic interpretation of the “chief article” can be used against set and firm teachings of the Christian tradition.
For Francis, the “heart of the Gospel” is the love of God revealed in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. He later identifies this with the apostolic kerygma (cf. paragraphs 164 following) in a way that I think even C.H. Dodd could recognise. But it is quite clear that Pope Francis is not a “Gospel reductionist”, as he goes on to explain:
39. Just as the organic unity existing among the virtues means that no one of them can be excluded from the Christian ideal, so no truth may be denied. The integrity of the Gospel message must not be deformed. What is more, each truth is better understood when related to the harmonious totality of the Christian message; in this context all of the truths are important and illumine one another. When preaching is faithful to the Gospel, the centrality of certain truths is evident and it becomes clear that Christian morality is not a form of stoicism, or self-denial, or merely a practical philosophy or a catalogue of sins and faults. Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! All of the virtues are at the service of this response of love. If this invitation does not radiate forcefully and attractively, the edifice of the Church’s moral teaching risks becoming a house of cards, and this is our greatest risk. It would mean that it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options. The message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have “the fragrance of the Gospel”.
So. All revealed truths are to be believed with the same faith, but in the preaching of the faith, the heirarchy of truths indicates we should place our primary focus on the central Kerygma. It then becomes possible to teach the fullness of the faith upon a firm foundation in a way that the beauty of all those truths which follow from the Kerygma are clearly seen and becomes “attractive” rather than repellant (as they often are today). And Francis has already indicated in this document that he sees the primary modus operandi of evangelisation in terms of attraction rather than proselytisation (cf. paragraph 14).