Orthopraxis is The New Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy = rightness in what is believed
Orthopraxis = rightness in what is done

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
-John 13:34-5

“The world does not care how much you know until it knows how much you care.”
-Pastor Folk Wisdom

For most of us reading this article, our faith journey was shaped during the Modern Era (1517-2000+CE). Orthodoxy, correct knowing, was the gold standard during the Modern Era for Christ-followers, paralleling the Enlightenment emphasis. We believed that knowing accurate and correct information was the way to human progress. Life change, individual and collective transformation resulted from knowing the doctrines and theology of our faith. This way of being a Christian resulted in numerous confessions, denominational nuances, and lengthy new member classes. The focus was on right knowing; orthodoxy.

Now (2000+CE) we find ourselves in a quite a different context, with so many faith stories and world religions circulating in our communities. Children rub shoulders with people from all across the globe, learning about the varied customs and religions of our world. Some Postmodern people know very few Christian people, if any. So, when they are exposed to the Christian story, they take note of another world religion among many. The more curious might wonder what is unique about this story; or how much it contributes to the betterment of humankind. In other words, is there anything worth paying attention to here?

This point in history, the space in time which we occupy, calls out for genuine, authentic, perhaps even radical expressions of the Christian faith. Bland, apathetic, though knowledgeable Christian expression simply won’t do in this Postmodern world. Now is the time to reclaim living in the Way of Jesus, that revolutionary social movement pioneer who described and modeled this new way of life (See beatitudes and sermon on the mount). This way of living provides proactive, healthy, significant ways for humankind to move ahead (thy kingdom come on earth…). It turns out that Postmodern people are highly interested in communities of people gathered around love as their organizing principle (we call them churches). Postmodern people rarely care how systematic our theology may be, instead hungering for incarnated good news providing hope for this revolving planet.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ brother, James: “I by my works will show you my faith” (James 2:18).
Now is the era of Orthodoxy, lived Christian faith.
Now is the time to focus on the one new commandment Jesus gave…to love one another.
Now is the time when we hope others will say things like, “I don’t know much about those Christ-follower people; I’m not sure what they do when they gather at their building. But aren’t they the groups of people who really love each other and are working to build a better society?” They, and we, will know we are disciples by our love. May we excel at orthopraxy, incarnating the Great Commandment this very day.

Mark Tidsworth
Pinnacle President