Friday, July 18, 2008

Church Words -- Orthodox

After several recent discussions that involved the words "orthodox" or "orthodoxy" (used in the sense of "I'm right and you're wrong"), I started wondering a) what people mean when they use this word and b) what the word meant and might still mean.

Orthodoxy is becoming a word of indeterminate meaning, standing for all sorts of things, including fundamental evangelicalism, conservative Catholicism, and the Right Way to Be an Anglican. It seems to mean, as Humpty Dumpty said in "Alice in Wonderland," what the speaker wants it to mean.

So I went to The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology and found this definition: "The word 'orthodoxy' is ambiguous. It can mean 'right worship' (ortho means straight and doxa means praise) or 'right belief.' The Athanasian Creed affirms that, 'We worship one God in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity.' Orthodoxy is not a matter of purely intellectual assent to propositions, it involves giving glory to God. This emphasis on worship shows clearly that right belief, assent or opinion, correct dogma, was not understood in abstraction from practice." (p. 422)

In my mind, orthodoxy comes down to holding the basic tenets of faith ... One God in Trinity of Persons, God as creator of all that is, Christ as fully human and fully divine, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the single redemptive action that reconciles humanity to God, the gift of the Holy Spirit as the ongoing presence, guide and power of God in the world.

That is the God I praise and worship. All the rest, I think, is details, discussion and disputations.

+ Kit

No comments:

Post a Comment