Sunday, December 17, 2006


Since I've spent "a week with radical orthodoxy" last week I've been thinking a lot about how we in the church "use" orthodoxy as a way to yield power over groups who disagree with us. If somehow my group that I identify with can align ourselves with Christian orthodoxy then we can maintain power of those who obviously hold views that are heretical.

There is a problem with this modern way of thinking. There was much wisdom that came out of the Early Church leadership. If one goes back and looks at the reasons for a lot of our "orthodox" doctrines I think you might just find that orthodoxy came out of conversations among heretics.

The issue that really stuck out for me is that of the Trinity. The way we have our "orthodox" doctrine of the trinity is not because Jesus spelled it out to us. It's not because Paul wrote a letter on it and explained it to us.

No, instead we had several groups who had some VERY different ideas about the nature of Christ. Some believed he was comepletely and utterly Spirit and not at all human/flesh. Implication: flesh is evil, the crucifixion didn't really hurt Jesus or cause him pain, etc... Another group believed Jesus was completely and fully human. He might have been the son of God but it was through a spiritual "adoption" by God and Jesus was in no way equal to God.

Orthodox thinking on matters such as the Trinity issue came about when leaders came together and brought these issues "to the table" together. It wasn't easy, they probably weren't always, if ever, "politically correct" (especially since PC is a modernist invention) in order to keep the peace. No, these conflicting Christian voices were tied together through the body and blood of Christ. Orthodox views on doctrine in the early church tended to be a "fusion" of paradoxical views held by the "heretics" on fringes of the church.

So for instance, the orthodox teaching on the Trinity can say to one group- you are right, Jesus IS entirely God, however Jesus is ALSO ENTIRELY HUMAN at the same time. But the orthodox teaching could also say to the other group- you are right, Jesus is entirely human, however Jesus is ALSO ENTIRELY GOD. If we look at the origins of orthodox doctrine I think we'll find that Orthodoxy and "Paradox" go hand in hand.

For us today we like the idea of Orthodoxy but we definitely don't like the idea of paradox.

But I would suggest that Orthodoxy AND Paradox is what we need in our theological conversations, doctrinal conversations, and how we live together in the world. As we talk over hard doctrinal issues we can "practice" not just orthodoxy but a more orthodox version of orthodoxy- "orthoparadoxology"; which does not suggest that that there's no right or wrong but there is a paradoxical nature to the gospel of Jesus Christ that we are called to live out within the Christian community. Maybe in order to be truly orthodox there needs to be more conversations among heretics... hmmm.


Zoomdaddy said...

an interesting parallel translation study note is that the word "faction" in the NASB is translated "heresy" in the KJV. there is something to be said about the divisive nature of heresy. and many who have beat the "dialogue" drum did so as a distraction to push their agenda (case in point the Episcopal debacle). in principle i'm with you, but good luck getting some honest table talk going.

birdinflight said...

It seems to me the church in Rome became a political structure based on political expediency and cultural perspectives that included interest in Christian writings, Judiasm and Paganism. The Church's focus on the politics of religion did not clarify Christian Life but distorted the teachings of Christ and in a real sense blocked the possibility of guidance by the Holy Spirit in the lives of many Believers. Why? Perhaps Orthodoxy became a replacement for an authentic experience of the mystery of the indwelling of and transformation by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, Church leaders became a replacement for the less rational reality of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Again why? Because the Mystery of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit requires complete surrender to God's will. Such surrender is irrational. It is hard to believe or surrender to all that is beyond reason. What I am learning is only by God's grace can we believe in Christ without a doubt and become active parts of the Body of Christ.

Is such thinking heretical?

Zoomdaddy said...

however, God also redeems our rationality by the same spirit. likewise, God works through people and structures. this doesn't negate any Spirit-baptism experience--in fact, it enhances it, magnifying the scope of grace beyond simply the interior workings of our personal lives. you seem to be flirting with an unwarranted dichotomy between body and soul/spirit, preferring the latter. if that preference is indeed the case, then you are too close for comfort (at least for my comfot) with gnosticism, which is a heresy.

Oloryn said...

But I would suggest that Orthodoxy AND Paradox is what we need in our theological conversations, doctrinal conversations, and how we live together in the world.
Been reading Chesterton lately? You reflect an insight I first ran into in Chesterton's "Orthodoxy", chapter 6. True Christian balance is often "The collision of two passions apparently opposite", as G. K. put it. If you're not prepared to deal with paradox, you're likely to only see one side and miss the fragile balance required to see both sides properly.

The Fridge Elf said...

Enjoyed this post...came across it when searching Google images for Orthodoxy (weird hey). I have linked your post on my blog, hope you don't mind...check it out