Thursday, January 14, 2010

What do we want from orthodoxy? Does that tell us anything about the true identity of orthodoxy?

We look to our ideas of "orthodoxy" time and again; we have given "orthodoxy" a number of jobs.

We want orthodoxy to keep out falsehood, to keep us from being led down a wrong path. We want orthodoxy to help us understand the Bible, to show us the big picture, to give us the true and deeper meaning. We want orthodoxy to help us evaluate what various people proclaim as being from God. We want orthodoxy to be trustworthy, solidly grounded. So far it is a fence, a shield, a criterion ... but that's not quite enough.

We want orthodoxy to form our virtues, we want it to inform our morals. We want it to teach us right from wrong. It is where we look for knowledge and wisdom. That's still not quite enough.

We want orthodoxy to help us understand God himself. When it shows us that deeper meaning of Scripture, we expect to see the true picture of God. We want our thoughts to approach God in his holiness, to see him as he is. Orthodoxy is where we look for the incomprehensible richness of the mind of God. It is where we look to know the heart of God. And there we expect to find life, and the renewal of all things.

When I started a post on "What do we want from orthodoxy?", I wasn't quite sure where it would end up. But the more I looked at what I wanted from orthodoxy, what I expected from orthodoxy, the more that pointed me towards one end.

Consider this: We want orthodoxy to be the truth. We want it to keep us from being led around by all the people going down different paths. That jarred a memory: "I am the way. I am the truth." We want orthodoxy to help us understand Scripture. And it jogged a memory: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you have life. These are they that testify of me, yet you refuse to come to me and have life." We want orthodoxy to show us God. By now I was no longer surprised that thinking of orthodoxy triggered a memory: "He who has seen me has seen the Father."

Those memories are quotes of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John. Here we see Jesus claiming to personally fulfill the roles we assign to orthodoxy. If we want to see God, we should look at Jesus.

Orthodoxy, then, holds fast to Jesus -- the one who walked this world, the one the apostles knew. It follows him wherever he goes, does what he asks, seeks to understand God by listening to him and watching him. If our orthodoxies and systematic theologies hold forth Jesus as the way to know God, as the truth about God, then they are serving their purpose.


Martin LaBar said...

Thanks. That's often why I blog about something -- to see what, if anything, I think about it.

Howard said...

I wonder how often supposedly deemed orthodoxy effectively prevents us from growing? Some years ago, I worked for a Protestant charity which had an array of positions on matters like the sabbath, grace gifts, alcohol, bible translations and the like that you were meant to subscribe to which lead to my departure when it was clear I wouldn't go along. Genuine orthodoxy, as you so rightly state, leads us directly to Christ, for only He has the words of eternal life.

Weekend Fisher said...

One of the things that started me talking about this plainly was an experience like that. I'd had a certain interpretive framework presented to me as all-encompassing, and I kept getting this "cognitive dissonance" feeling whenever I read the beatitudes. I finally decided to set aside the lens & saw the beatitudes in a whole new light. And the interpretive lens is still really useful ... when used rightly. It's just like what they say, if the only tool you have is a hammer you start acting as if everything is a nail ...

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF