February 13, 2008

There's a Lively Discussion Going On...

I have been engaged in a lively and, I think, important discussion over at Paul's place concerning truth and it's role in our relationship with Jesus (you will need to go to the comments section to browse through the discussion). It largely boils down, I think, to the relationship between orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right practice). I am convinced that they are two wings of an airplane - you need them both to get very far.

If I err and focus solely on orthodoxy, as the church has been guilty of doing in recent decades, then truth becomes a weapon with which to fight rather than an instrument of healing and hope. My denominational landscape is littered with the casualties of this kind of focus.

However, if I err and focus solely on orthopraxy, as I perceive some in the emergent church to be doing, then my feelings become "truth" and I can quickly wander off into all kinds of self deception. I hear reports of "churches" that are doing all kinds of good things socially - soup kitchens, rebuilding homes, literacy programs, etc - but have devolved into an anything goes theology. (Some even celebrating Buddhist and Hindu holy days.) Is this acceptable practice? Only if I jettison orthodoxy in favor of orthopraxy.

I believe the two go solidly together. As James stated, "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:17) Or to state it another way, "Orthodoxy without orthopraxy is dead." On the other side of the issue Jude found it necessary to encourage the early church to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 3)

Is it within the realm of possibility that this "new" discussion surrounding what church should look like is a question with which the early church leaders were wrestling?

1 comment:

Mike said...

John,

I have enjoyed your posts and your comments on Paul's blog.