Last night, I got into a discussion via twitter with someone who seems to think SSM exclusion is part and parcel with Christology, Creation, and Ecclesiology — the Creed. Indeed, the generalizations made against those who affirm both historical orthodoxy and inclusion is rather unfounded and based, I believe, on personal ignorance of what orthodoxy is and how one can come to a position — as a Protestant — in favor of inclusion.
Orthodoxy is defined by the Creeds., we receive those in Antioch also who confess the unity of the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
In Canon 7, we read of heresy and orthodoxy. Notice what makes the heretic:
Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari or Aristori, and Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, and Apollinarians, we receive, upon their giving a written renunciation and anathematize every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God. Thereupon, they are first sealed or anointed with the holy oil upon the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears; and when we seal them, we say, “The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost.” But Eunomians, who are baptized with only one immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, and all other heresies—for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians:—all these, when they desire to turn to orthodoxy, we receive as heathen. On the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens; on the third, we exorcise them by breathing thrice in their face and ears; and thus we instruct them and oblige them to spend some time in the Church, and to hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.
The heretic is one who has denied in some way the Creed.
In Corpus Juris Civilis, the Emperor Justinian gives us another evidence that orthodoxy is defined by the Creeds:
Let all bodies of heretics be prevented from holding unlawful assemblies, and let the name of the only and the greatest God be celebrated everywhere, and let the observance of the Nicene Creed, recently transmitted by Our ancestors, and firmly established by the testimony and practice of Divine Religion, always remain secure.
(1) Moreover, he who is an adherent of the Nicene Faith, and a true believer in the Catholic religion, should be understood to be one
who believes that Almighty God and Christ, the Son of God, are one person, God of God, Light of Light; and let no one, by rejection, dishonor the Holy Spirit, whom we expect, and have received from the Supreme Parent of all things, in whom the sentiment of a pure and undefiled faith flourishes, as well as the belief in the undivided substance of a Holy Trinity…
Let those who do not accept these doctrines cease to apply the name of true religion to their fraudulent belief; and let them be branded with their open crimes…We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the test, the source, and the definition of orthodoxy. It was so much so that those who refused it were not permitted fellowship in the Church:
And those who have fellowship with men that reject the consubstantiality as a doctrine foreign to the Scriptures, and speak of any of the persons in the Trinity as created, and separate that person from the one natural divinity, we hold as aliens, and have fellowship with none such.
Unfortunately, the burden of proof is on those who seek to combine ethics, dogma, and theology into the Creed as a requirement to be orthodox. Those who know better understand that while ethics, dogma, and theology can never be separated from orthodoxy, this doesn’t mean that they are required beliefs (unlike the Creed). I would recommend reading some on the Orthodox Church and the formulations of ethics as derivative of Scripture and Tradition but not considered a test of orthodoxy.
I would also recommend reading to understand that since the 4th century, the Creed (rather than ethics, theology, or dogma) has been seen as the test of orthodoxy. I’d also recommend reading not only the Athanasian Creed which declares a certain and limited set of guidelines of believe for being a Christian as well as the Chalcedonian definition and the role of the Creed as soon by the Church then.
This doesn’t mean that a set of ethics, dogmas, and theologies does not naturally developing from the Creed (lex orandi lex credendi lex vivendi) only that when we attempt to infuse these things into the Creed we gravely ere. Let us not make assumptions about one another, nor import more tests upon what is orthodoxy. The History of the Church, the Great Tradition, has given us that and I am no one enough to change it.