August 4, 2009

Embracing a New Orthopraxy

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:53 am by Editorial Team

My church background stressed a very stringent orthopraxy on rituals and church tradition.  Much of this orthopraxy was grounded in an even stricter orthodoxy.  The churches I attended growing up held a more moderated view on such things, but I had a few encounters with the strictest orthodoxies.

One such encounter was a summer spent in rural African missions.  This experience was a bit of a turning point in my life, as it forced me to choose between a strict or loose orthodoxy.  For the summer, I chose to accept the strict, partly out of respect for the missionaries, and partly out of a lack of willingness to think for myself.  The strict orthodoxy was very easy to accept, it created a sense of comfort in knowing and completely understanding and being able to interpret the word of God.

For that summer, I had all the answers.  I could find my own way to paradise through personal knowledge of a correct belief and action.  Salvation lay within.  I felt confident, emboldened before everyone.  I was ready to uproot heresy.  I could argue the proper forms of baptism, Lord’s Supper, and worship, and I could cross-reference scriptures to strike the fear of god into anyone who had a different plan of salvation.  My orthodoxy was like economic currency — effective as I had created it, but completely useless with any slight alteration or forgery.  And because I was a guest, and white, they listened as if it were gospel.

My return from the field that summer yielded a rapid regression from this theology.  I enjoyed the power of a strict orthodoxy/praxy, but it thankfully never took hold in my life.  Realizing the love of God and his desire to redeem all of creation, I quickly began to move towards a universalist position.  Though denying confidence in it, internally, I was still holding on to that power of comfort, of knowledge that I knew the end result.

Yet, I cannot force my own understanding onto God’s.

I have found a new orthodoxy, though not fully elaborated, which I am initially less comfortable with.  I am powerless over it.  It is an orthodoxy completely defined by God.  I do not have power over salvation, and neither do I have power over the determination of who receives that salvation.  Judgment belongs to God, and the determination of salvation is his alone.  As evidenced in the parable of the wheat and the tares, any separation that will occur is at God’s discretion.

If I find full comfort in orthodoxy, then I have created an idol.  To fully define and understand belief is to place myself above God, when his knowledge far surpasses that of my own.  I cannot fully comprehend God, and to assume that I have is blashphemy.

I am not comforted by the fact that I know everything about God.  I am comforted by the fact that he loves me and has a plan for redemption through Christ.  I believe God has a plan for the redemption of his creation and that Christ is of him, and is the firstfruit of that redemption.  I am called to seek out his kingdom, and for my life to be transformed into Christ’s life and to learn what it really means to be the human that God created me to be.  Other than those principles, I find most of my time and efforts should be spent on orthopraxy, specifically on trying to be human… the human God created me in his image to be.

The world has enough religion.  The world needs more people to live as the humans God intended us to be.  And Christ is that example.

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