I recently heard the phrase, “a kind orthodoxy”, used by a local pastor in his Sunday sermon.
I’m not sure how he came up with this phrase but it sent off warning alarms in my head. Because I’d seen this phrase somewhere before. I just couldn’t remember where.
Then I did some research; and my fears were justified.
Now, I don’t wish to accuse this pastor or his team of leaders of anything. Because how they used this phrase and what they meant by it, may be something entirely different than what I found in my own research.
Only time will tell where they really stand on all this.
But, with our churches smack dab in the middle of a battle over biblical doctrine, we have to be on high alert about false teaching.
Because behind this “kind orthodoxy” idea is a belief that biblical doctrine can be selected, trimmed, or presented in a way that is “kind”. The word, “kind”, meaning whatever is least offensive to the culture we are trying to reach. And whatever is “nice” and “friendly”.
And that is a dangerous road to travel.
A “Generous” Orthodoxy
The place where I saw this phrase was in a book titled, “A Generous Orthodoxy”, by Brian McLaren.
Brian McLaren is a leader within the Emergent church movement or the Emergent Village or whatever name they are calling themselves this week. He is often cited as one of the most prolific and well-known of the writers that push the Emergent ideas.
Mr. McLaren does not hold to the same doctrines that most Evangelicals do. In fact, he is part of the Post-Modern wing of “Christendom”; part of a group that is re-defining and re-thinking everything that Christians believe.
For a long time, I believed that the kind of doctrines that Mr. McLaren professed would be easily spotted and rejected by Evangelical leaders. That they would clearly see his basic unbelief and steer clear of him.
But, that has not been the case. Instead, young Evangelical leaders are reading and quoting him in their sermons!
Quoting him as they would men like Moody, or Torrey, or Spurgeon. Quoting him as a man to be trusted and revered for biblical faithfulness.
Going Beneath the Surface
Just to be clear, I am not an expert on Brian McLaren. Right now, I am reading “A Generous Orthodoxy” so that I can speak first-hand about his positions. So, that I can be fair in my analysis of his statements.
However, a primary focus of Brian McLaren’s work has been to re-shape the “orthodoxy” or doctrine of the church. To establish a doctrinal position that is helpful toward winning the culture. To fit in with the culture. To be “kinder” and “gentler” in our presentation of the gospel.
Even while he states that he doesn’t know, that he can’t be sure, etc., etc. It is a position common among those who are Progressive Christians. They claim to be orthodox and solid on doctrine while they cast doubt on all doctrine. Taking a posture that is really a false humility. Like throwing a bomb into a crowd but only wanting to make the crowd “think”. Only wanting to increase “dialogue”.
And, on the surface, this seems like a legitimate goal. It seems like something that any missionary would do when trying to reach a different culture or people with the gospel. Wanting to find a better way. A kinder way. A more tolerant way.
But, how does one really go about doing this? How does one make the gospel “kinder” or “gentler” or more “generous”?
Saved and Kept by Faith
As an aside, there is a difference between “orthodoxy” and “orthopraxy” (or “orthopraxis”). Orthodoxy relates to the beliefs that are held. And Orthopraxy relates to the works or practices flowing out of those beliefs.
It is also critical to note that modern Progressive Christians are trying to establish that orthopraxy is more important than orthodoxy. Because, they would say that what you do is what really defines what you believe. As if to say, professed belief without proven works is not true belief.
And that is precisely where they are misleading themselves and the church. They are trying to establish a romanticized form of Christianity that even Paul didn’t profess.
Each of us are saved by faith, not by our works. Faith comes by hearing the truth. And truth comes from the word of God.
A New “Discipleship Management” Program
Granted, our lives will always fall short of the ideal. We may even be hypocrites on things where we take the correct positions on things but don’t consistently follow through in our practical lives.
Welcome to Paul’s world as he explained this conflict in Romans 5, 6, and 7. Where he said, “O, wretched man that I am“. Any true believer that has gone beyond the infant stage of his growth knows this to be true. The older and more mature one is in the Lord, the more one sees his own failings, his own shortcomings, and his own sins.
So, to focus on works or outward manifestations in our lives FIRST, is a serious mistake for Christians. It is a road into bondage to whatever list of things a particular church or group says you must focus on to be a proper disciple.
And, in the case of our current Progressive-Christian culture, we are witnessing an attempt to establish that true discipleship is that which is demonstrated by those who are socially-engaged believers. Those who focus on the poor, on the sick, and on a host of other good works that fit in with what the “woke” culture demands.
All of which, changes the Biblical basis of discipleship.
Changing our focus from deep study and trust in the words of God. From growing deeper in our love for Christ and for the defense of His truth.
Changing the focus to another kind of “disciple management”, — of works over doctrine, of works over faith, and of “love” over truth.
To Be Continued . . .
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