Saturday, October 06, 2007

Which Comes First? Orthodoxy or Orthopraxy?

At a recent conference I attended, I heard again this belief that orthopraxy is more important than orthodoxy. The statement was (my paraphrase), "I'm not sure if I believe in inerrancy, but I do know what it means to care for the homeless, because I have spent my life ministering to them."

For those who emphasize orthopraxy, there is often the accusation that orthodoxy does not usually lead to orthopraxy. And where there is no orthopraxy, there is dead faith.

Guilty as charged, if one defines orthodoxy as "right teaching." But Phil Johnson (HT: SharperIron) makes the helpful observation that orthodoxy is better understood as "right belief." And this being the case, the only cure for evil praxis is orthodoxy. He writes:

On the one hand, it's certainly true that "doing is more important than words." No one here has argued otherwise. However (and this is the point I have labored to make), "orthodoxy" is not about words. It's about truth, real belief, and the Word of God. If it doesn't result in "doing," it isn't true orthodoxy; it's dead faith. That's James's point in chapter 2.
So the problem with Christian failure to live rightly is not a problem of over-emphasizing orthodoxy but a failure to fully grasp orthodoxy.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Ben, where does orthodontistry fit into all of this? Hahahahahahah. Just kidding.