Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dawning of the Age of the Heterdox

A post on the Inter-Faith/denomination Forum on Facebook by John Brandkamp:

An interesting issue that keeps coming up here is the concept of what is "orthodoxy" and who gets to define that. In certain respects I'm quite "orthodox" (within the Evangelical Protestant tradition) and yet in other areas I'm quite off the beaten path. It seems to be a movable feast to say the least. And it seems to be as true in other traditions as well. Are we left with a cacophony of theological noise and nothing else?

My (lengthened) response:

Conveniently, there's a term called "heterodox": those of us who are generally orthodox or at least accepted by the church but have some points of view that disagrees with generally accepted theology. I wonder if this age of the Christian church is the "heterodox" age.

While there is not the multiplications of denominations, as there was in the Reformation era (circa 1530), but there are certainly the multiplications of beliefs.  Just within the evangelical movement, one of the more conceptually restrictive movements, there are a variety of political ideas and belief systems.  Both Jim Wallis and Pat Robertson can call themselves "evangelical", but they certainly agree on very little.

This is more so in other denominations and religious groups.  For the most part, we have all had to learn how to get along with people we strongly disagree with, people who hold radically different beliefs than ourselves.  What is "orthodox" is being shrunk to some very basic beliefs, that seem to matter less in our everyday lives.

On the one hand, this is good.  We need to learn to rub elbows with, and not judge, those who see life differently.  This is why God established marriage as He did.  We become one with a person who cannot think "right".  Yet we need to learn to live with that person, to care for that person, to support even some of their "wrong" decisions.  To have the church at large do this can be constructive.

On the other hand, it could undermine the whole idea of orthodoxy and lead us to a concept of relative truth.  We need to determine what is really, basically true, and stick with that.  For me, there is one basic truth-- Jesus is Lord.  There are some basics that come from that one belief, but there's also a lot that I hold dear that can be disagreed with by good followers of Jesus.  

The key to heterodoxy is to have that balance of accepting diversity and defending basic truths.

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