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Orthodoxy for People Who Don’t Care

August 15, 2009

Seminaries, pastors, and scholars tend to use a lot of big words that most people don’t care about. I attended seminary and I am currently a pastor; two out of three isn’t bad. Two out of three also means that from time to time I use words that deter most people from caring about what I say after them. In some cases, I think they are completely justified in tuning me out, but in other cases, certain words hold a great deal of importance and deserve our attention. “Orthodoxy” is one of those words. It sounds big, old, and uninteresting, but nothing could be further from the truth. Simply put, orthodoxy means “right belief” and this is where it gets interesting.

We live in an era of relativism where truth is, at the very least questioned, and, at the very most said to not exist. If orthodoxy is right belief, than who gets to decide which beliefs are right? Many want to answer, “No one” or, “Me.” Unfortunately, these kinds of answers betray the very notion of orthodoxy. In order to have a true belief, it must derive from someplace outside of yourself. For Christians, the object of our belief is Jesus Christ.

All over the New Testament, the word faith is used to refer both to what is believed and how it is believed (it is something known and something acted upon). To have faith in Jesus Christ makes him the reason for having faith and the purpose of living in faith. Oppositely, if you put your faith in something derived from yourself, it will ultimately fail, it will not stand up under the weight of a confrontation with someone else who has done the same thing. Your conviction may be that it is wrong to steal, but another person’s conviction may be that stealing is acceptable. They may even steal from you. Who is right and who is wrong? Both, neither, either way, you no longer have your ipod, wallet, or Ford Focus and you can’t be sure whether you just got ripped off or not, maybe that other person is right after all.

Orthodoxy matters, a system of belief and something outside of yourself to put your faith in are essential to life (not just life here, but beyond here as well). In this, and every case, Jesus and faith in Him is our orthodoxy. He is the standard of right belief, both in the way He lived His life and the truths that He taught.

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