Elemental Season 1 - Day 5

"Orthodoxy, Are You Ready?"

Orthodoxy, in its simplest definition, is right thinking. And we were taught to think rightly, or correctly, or whatever. From my first memory of church, we were taught to think about God correctly. Who he was, what he wanted, how he wanted it, and how I fit into his plan, that was definitely for me in particular. All of these things were what we were taught. And that is okay, I mean, maybe that is okay. 

Answers were given before there were questions, but I know that there were many great and brilliant people who worked on these answers so that they would be age appropriate and would be made of good theology. I know this because my father was one of those who created a curriculum for young people to come to grips with who and what God is in their lives, and even how to think about God at all. 

So let me tread lightly. I love those people, and I completely understand why they did what they did. In fact, I have done it too. I have tried to anticipate questions that people would ask and answer them. We do this because we are asked to lead people to a better understanding of God. This is appropriate and right and good. 

However, it is possible that we have given answers to questions that no one was asking. We were giving them the language, but we weren’t always giving them the nuance that this language and this God suggests. We gave lockbox answers to open fields of questions, and as we got older, the answers seemed to fall short of the vastness of God. They seemed to be a trickle when the knowledge of God is a torrent, and when our need for answers and discussion overflowed our pre-made lock boxes, we began to feel as if we had been doing a disservice to those seeking to play in those vast fields that we call God. 

So does that mean there is no such thing as orthodoxy? No, of course not. What it means is that we have to approach this “right knowledge” with a pretty generous eye to the greater understanding of the world. This does not mean we tear down everything we have learned, studied, and believed. Rather, it means that we are open to looking at this orthodoxy from every angle. It means that we are seeking to find new perspectives that might be able to be incorporated into our worldview, and it means that our worldviews may become much greater. 

The problem is when we say we have a “biblical worldview” that is really a culturally Christian worldview and often disengages from what scripture speaks to directly, particularly the words of Jesus. The misogyny, the bravado, the violence, all of these things were anathema to Jesus, so when our worldview says these things are good, we have departed from a “biblical worldview” and have morphed the words of scripture into something else entirely. 

So what is orthodoxy to be then? Can we trust anything anymore? 

Of course, we can. But we have to grow and learn to understand the nuances, the metaphors, the direct words, and the intent behind the words of scripture as well. The whole “God said it, and I believe it, and that settles it” thing is probably going to have to be reworked a bit in our lives and in our spiritual journeys for things to continue to make sense for us. 

So, with this in mind, how do we approach the authority of scripture in our lives? Let's pick that up tomorrow. . . 

  1. Did you ever receive answers to questions that didn’t seem to make sense? 
  2. Did you grow up in a place that allowed for questions? 
  3. Have you grown in your understanding of faith/answers/scripture over the years? 
  4. What responsibility does a church have to be a place where you can have questions? 

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