Orthodoxy is defined “in the Christian sense” to mean “conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church.” This word comes from the Greek orthos meaning correct and the Greek doxy meaning opinion.
Orthopraxy is defined as “correctness or orthodoxy of action or practice.” The word comes from the Greek orthos meaning correct and the Greek praxis meaning deed or action.
It is often stated in many circles that doctrine divides. Doctrine does certainly divide but the belief or conformity to the Christian faith is a lofty ideal that many hold to unswervingly. The average person may not fully understand all the words or theological terms, but they have no issue repeating the creeds or stating that they believe just like their church believes.
The problem is NOT with too much orthodoxy in the church. Orthodoxy is easy to fine in most evangelical churches. Creeds grace the walls of many sanctuaries. Hymnbooks contain creeds or doctrinal statements that encourage the reader to understand what his or her chosen congregation believes. Bulletins include calls to recitation of orthodox doctrine. Books line the walls of the libraries found in the pastor’s study or the church lending room. Many of these books are a basis or a foundation of what can be expected in regards to doctrine. Pastors and teachers speak each week and many messages are based on a particular aspect of Christian doctrine. In essence, they are standing to share the “correct opinion” of what the Word of God has to say to the hearer.
The problem in much of what passes for American Christianity is that the orthodoxy rarely translates into orthopraxy. “Correct opinion” of the Word of God is not being seen as “correct deeds or actions” either within the church or outside of the church.
Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxy means:
- We believe God’s Word is sufficient for all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), AND we practice this in each aspect of our daily walk.
- We believe the law of Christ (Luke 10:27), AND we show that we love God and our neighbor through daily interaction.
- We believe we are to have godly families (Ephesians 5 & 6), AND we show to those closest to us that our correct opinion translates into correct actions.
- We believe we are to be lights to a dark, sin-sick world (Matthew 5:16), AND we strive to share the truth of the Gospel by reaching out to those around us.
- We believe church is to be a fellowship of true blood-bought believers (1 Peter 1 & 2), AND we practice fellowship by desiring to spend MORE time than just 1 hour and 20 minutes on a Sunday morning each week.
- We believe church should be a representation of the fellowship we will enjoy together for all of eternity, AND we work diligently not to let minor things separate us.
- We believe covenanting together in Christian unity (Acts 2), AND we stop shopping for the next big fad on the Christian church horizon.
- We believe pastor-teachers are called to edify and exhort and encourage the local body of Christ (Ephesians 4), AND we refuse to compare them with the latest and greatest speakers on TV, radio, or internet.
- We believe pastor-teachers are to protect the flock (1 Peter 5), AND we take comfort as they lead us in straight paths instead of looking for reasons to leave.
- We believe we are to bear one another’s burden (Galatians 6), AND we take an active interest in the lives of those we have covenanted together with to ensure that needs are being met (including emotional and spiritual needs).
- We believe Christ died for His Bride (Ephesians 5), AND we take delight in loving and forgiving those for whom He died.
- We believe Christ forgives us of our sins (1 John 1), AND we do not hold unforgiveness or bitterness in our hearts toward those who can NEVER wrong us to the degree that we did to Christ before He saved us.
- We believe strife and contention are not part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), AND we refuse to take needless offense when others don’t respond JUST like we do or JUST like we expect them to do.
- We believe prayer is vital in the life of every true believer (James 5:16), AND we learn to discipline our lives and the life of the church to pray without ceasing.
- We believe only Christ is Perfect (1 Peter 1), AND we encourage each other to become more like Christ daily instead of demanding perfection from imperfect sinners saved by grace.
- We believe the Scriptures are infallible and inspired by God (2 Peter 1:21), AND we stop running to the local so-called Christian bookstore for the latest drivel that makes vain attempts to make us feel better about ourselves.
- We believe we are not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12), AND this means we will stop liking and loving what God hates. Wizardry, witches, demonology, vampires, titillating reality shows, etc. are NOT what God likes. In fact, if you can love these things of the world, 1 John makes it clear that the love of God is not in you and you are NOT a true believer.
- We believe we are but sojourners in this world (Hebrews 11), AND we strive to keep our focus on things of heaven and to have a continual perspective of eternity.
These are just a few ways in which we must grow in our spiritual walk if we are to make a difference in the world. All of the orthodoxy (or correct opinion) of God’s Word will never change you or those who know you unless it can be seen that such orthodoxy transforms you into having a biblical orthopraxy (or correct deeds).
The church has no business even claiming they believe correct orthodoxy if they do not also believe and strive to practice correct orthopraxy.
So, the question is this for each of us to consider today and every day – does your orthopraxy proclaim your orthodoxy or does your orthodoxy get in the way of your orthodoxy?
That was outstanding. I actually teach a class on Sunday mornings on Doctrine so obviously I consider it very important. I found this post very convicting of the fact that I need to teach not just the dry facts of it but the practice of it in our lives. Thank you
The lack of care in walking and working together (orthopraxy) comes when what is taught and then we end up holding to different doctrines because the application has no meat on the bones. And may God help those (I speak of myself) who sit under a preacher who declares a truth as he sees it but also declares that he knows not why he believes it to be truth, he just does. sigh.
Wally, I appreciate your encouraging comments. May the Lord bless as you faithfully teach your class to the glory of God.
Manfred, that is indeed a sad situation when circular reason becomes the backbone of many congregations.
“What do you believe?”
“Well, I believe like my church believes.”
“What does your church believe?”
“Why, they believe what my pastor believes.”
“So, what exactly does your pastor believe?”
“Well, he believes just what I believe!”
And the circle continues in an ever-widening drift away from orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
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