Our Idol Orthodoxy

: Old United Methodist Church building
: Old United Methodist Church building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about orthodoxy (right belief) versus orthopraxy (right practice). Here are some group discussion questions to ponder:

Is one more significant than the other when it comes to the faithful life? Should one be given preference over the other? Are they equally as important, and this is a distinction without a difference?

For me – based on recent discussions, readings, and my own interpretation of where we are as a church (universal) – I would have to say they’re equally important, but we have treated orthodoxy as an idol. Right belief is important, but our idol orthodoxy has mortally wounded our orthopraxy – all to the detriment of the gospel of Christ.

Take yesterday’s news from the United Methodist Church’s Connectional Table. This is a deliberative body charged with stewardship matters of the church’s finances, mission, and ministry. They came out with proposed legislation offering a compromise having to do with the church and it’s LBGTQ adherents. For supporters, it offers a way to achieve partial headway in what has become hopeless and dangerous church gridlock over the issue. For opponents, it represents something over which they are willing to divide the church – all because they believe it represents an unacceptable level of sway in the church’s orthodoxy.

To be fair, however, the opponents of this legislation see no room for sway – lest the entire structure be toppled.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why we don’t find that type of rigidity as just as unacceptable, and demand it be fought just as hard against.

For my part, I serve a church that mostly differs very greatly with me on this issue – I would think. I don’t know because we’ve been too busy doing great ministry in the name of Christ. This ministry has gone so wonderfully that we must begin looking at ways to increase capacity in our current worship space. We have a thriving children’s ministry that extends our reach well out into the community, we’ve taken in over 15 new members this year, and the Spirit is moving so powerfully you can almost feel it vibrating under your feet each Sunday. All of this is happening without having to make a big fuss over something that does little to be constructive, and a lot to be destructive.

Of course, I would like to see the church’s position change. However, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord with a proper grasp on orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

These are just a few musings, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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5 Replies to “Our Idol Orthodoxy”

  1. Good stuff. I don’t know that I think one can be independent of the other. Without right belief there is no right action and without right action there is not right belief. It is very much a circle that one draws. That being said, a circle is drawn from a beginning point and I believe that beginning point to be orthodoxy (right belief). Right action is the result of right belief. While one can perform good actions (feed the poor, clothe the naked, etc) without right belief, one can not perform right action (this is to say actions that are holy because they are in the name of God) without right belief. Hopefully that made a bit of sense.

  2. On the other side of the equation, religions have to evolve or die. Just ask the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

    After conservatives hell bent on preserving a purified Christianity — largely existing in their limited collective imagination — hijacked the SBC a few decades back, the Convention wound up in such dire straits that they eventually elected a black convention president!

    LGBT is merely the latest so-called liberal issue to confront religion in American life. What to do about blacks has been dogging white churches for at least 150 years. Half a century ago, the church was faced with divorce and single parenting.

    Comfortably living with the Jesus in their head, the typical white parishioner seems largely oblivious to the fact that the historical Jesus wasn’t one of them. Instead, he was an unmarried, unemployed, vagrant, hanging out with undesirables sorts, while bedeviling secular and religious authorities.

    Not only that, Jesus wasn’t even a white boy. Neither was he Christian!

    Forget Paul; if Jesus walked into the typical American church today spouting his wisdom, somebody would call the cops. In a way, that’s also what happened in Jesus’ day.

    Jesus challenged Judaism so much that a new religion had to be created in order to accommodate his radical theology. Despite the foot-dragging, that religion is still changing today.

  3. This shows the need for leadership. In a democracy a vote of the majority is not always a Divine decision. And stating the Bible is just parables and metaphors is not justification for changing God. We don’t need a new church we need a revival of the Old first century Universal Church, the true Bride of Christ.

  4. Wesley is right here in his sermon called The Way of the Kingdom. Wesley points out that orthodoxy is not enough.

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