Wednesday, September 03, 2014


Orthodoxy and Reality

Wendy J. Deichmann writes a defense of orthodoxy that that is both excellent and awful. (HT: Juicy Ecumenism) The excellent:
It is also the case that some doctrinally “orthodox” Christian leaders have used their positions and power to oppress others. For example, for many decades leading Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and others rode vociferously along on the band wagons that justified the horrific evil of American slavery, oppressed women and persons of color, and discriminated unapologetically against persons who were divorced in both church and society. But these political and social opinions and actions had nothing to do with these leaders’ “orthodoxy.” In fact, we can say they held such views in spite of, rather than because of, their orthodoxy. Tragically, they failed to allow the God in Christ of the gospel to permeate and transform their status quo politics and social views.
The awful:
What’s right with Christian orthodoxy? Not any given theology, politic, or social view. What’s right with Christian orthodoxy is that it makes it possible for Christians to live in peace with one another and thereby to have a credible witness to the Prince of Peace. Most important, what is right about Christian orthodoxy is the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ that it proclaims to us and to the whole world.
I find the latter awful because it implies we are "at war" with the unorthodox. If orthodoxy is the force that binds us - are not the unorthodox unbound and therefore the enemy?

I find this problematic because there are so many forms of unorthodoxy. She counts trinitarian belief as part of the essentials of orthodoxy, but I would bet you a survey of the pews in most orthodox churches would sound more Mormon than orthodox. Are they therefore the enemy? She tries to separate theology from orthodoxy, yet what is trinitarian belief other than a theological statement? How can these things be separate?

This woman's efforts inside United Methodistism are to be applauded - make no mistake, it's this kind of sloppy thinking that has gotten the nation in the post-Christian decline that it is in. We are united on a spiritual level. Orthodoxy, theology, or any other human formulation of that spiritual activity is, of necessity, incomplete and therefore must be grasped only softly.


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