Latin for Six . . .
Orthodoxy . . .

The usual place to begin in a discussion of orthodoxy is . . . orthodoxy. Before I head down that road, I have a few words to say. Cattle. Buffalo. Thesaurus. Antidisestablishmentarianism. Okay, okay. I'm just being silly. I know it. Well, enough of that.

I do not care about you. Actually, personally I care about you all. If you are feeling amazingly joyful, I will be joyful with you. If you mourn, I will mourn with you. I care. It is in the context of these remaining issues of Somniare that I do not care. I do not care if you feel spiritually broken. I do not care if you cannot see an end to the pain. I do not care if all you want is faith the size of a dust-mite, let alone a mustard seed. I do not care if you are agnostic, atheist, pluralist, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever. Neither do I care if you all filled with joy overflowing. I do not care if you are always, always, always filled with the Holy Spirit. I do not care if you get excited about everything. I do not care if you are Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, Christian Reformed, Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Orthodox, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, United Churchgoer, charismatic, conservative, orthodox traditionalist, liberal, evangelical or desire no label other than "Jesus Follower." Some of you fall into one or many of the above categories. At least one of you defines himself as an evangelical charismatic orthodox traditionalist Anglican. I call myself a Jesus Follower. What I will write here will be truth. Sometimes I will give reasons, but not always. Some of it will be debatable, most I hope won't be. Truth is truth. If you feel broken and sorrowful, that is valid. If you gave your sorrows to Jesus and he gave you joy, you are not two-dimensional--that also is valid. Humanity is valid. And truth is true. I do not seek to invalidate. I seek to present truth as I perceive it, as God reveals it, and as the Bible relates it.


Foundational Orthodoxy

There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.

-G.K. Chesterton

A discussion of Christianity has a logical starting-place: the Christ. I am beginning with orthodoxy. I choose to do so because it is as an "orthodox" Christian that I will examine the issues, concepts, truths, and claims of Christianity.

Orthodoxy is usually defined as being the traditional way of thinking or doing things, as conventionality. Therefore, in the Christian context, orthodoxy is basically traditionalism. With this definition, orthodoxy is following the way things have been done "forever." I would argue against such a definition of orthodoxy. For example, someone could be an orthodox Anglican and proclaim that only the King James Version of the Bible was the true translation of Gods Word and also proclaim that the only true way to worship God is the Book of Common Prayer. Not only that, but the only way to sing praise is with a Book of Common Praise and an organ. But what about another person who considers himself an orthodox Anglican? What if this person uses a modern translation of the Bible, the modern-language Book of Alternative Services, and sings "contemporary" worship songs at his local church? The given definition of orthodoxy does not leave enough room for this difference.

Uncle Ted once revealed to me that orthodox comes from the Greek for right, straight, erect (orthos) and the Greek for opinion, judgement, view (doxa). Therefore, orthodox is right judgement. Orthodoxy is essentially the right judgement of things of God. Orthodoxy is not a bunch of stuffed-up old codgers who sit about in the back pews whining about the fact that back in 1872 they did NOT say the creed with everyone facing the front, and why is it so quiet back here, and worship is supposed to have organs, and why aren't those young people dressed smartly, the vicar should wear a cassock and surplus, why back in my day you couldn't have communion unless you were confirmed, and we most certainly should NOT refer to the deity as you, clearly He needs the respect of thee, and thou, and why did they make the Service of Holy Communion start on page 67, and the new hymnbooks are too heavy, and the Book of Alternative Services is too green, and we never had full communion with the Evangelical Lutherans when I was a boy, and what do you mean baptised in the Holy Spirit, and we never went to a home group, and who needs a Bible study when you go to church on Sunday, and why don't women wear hats anymore, and why hasn't the vicar's son shaved in the past week, and why hasn't that boy over there cut his hair, and what's with this new rock and roll business, and I dont' think my grandchildren should listen to that and . . . .


Orthodoxy is the right view of things of God. How then do we attain the right view of the things of God? Do we attain this view through rites and ceremonies? Do we attain this view by looking at the world and reasoning? Do we attain this view by reading the BCP over and over and over again? Nope. Wrong. Imagine this: there is a God. This God decides to let people know about him. What would be the most likely way? I vote for direct revelation. Imagine this: this God is madly in love with someone (you). So he writes that person a love letter (the Holy Bible). He has directly revealed himself to us through this book we call the Holy Bible. It is comprised of history, prophecy, poetry, law, teaching. Since God has directly revealed himself to the world, then the best way for the world to gain a right view or understanding of God would be through his direct revelation. Therefore, the foundation of Christian orthodoxy is not tradition. The foundation for Christian orthodoxy is the Bible.

It will be through the Bible that I will go on to view the rest of the topics in Somniare. The Bible cannot be twisted for our purposes. Anything anti-Biblical is not orthodox. Therefore, the traditional teaching of some evangelical churches, I argue, that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit do not occur in our age is unorthodox despite its conventionality and tradition. So also are teachings that forbid dancing and the consumption of alcohol. Neither are teachings that condone sin of any sort, such as homosexual practice or common-law "marriages". That we must worship with a certain "format" is unorthodox. The necessity for a church building is unorthodox. Some things may be good, but are they truly orthodox? Can I not worship God with my friends in a home church as well as I can in a big Neo-Gothic building? Can we not worship God spontaneously in a gathering of Christians as well as if we have Cranmer's liturgy laid out before us? The liturgy is good, the buildings are useful; those who claim they are necessary have missed the mark. Orthodoxy is not about the way we did things in 1872 or 2002. Orthodoxy is about connecting with God, learning about God, and seeing God in a true way, in a way that matches up with the manner and truths presented to us in the Bible. Therefore, both the traditionalist Prayer Book Society and the charismatic Anglican Renewal Ministries are orthodox. The organisation "Integrity" that lobbies for the acceptance of homosexuality in the Anglican Church of Canada is not orthodox. Yet orthodoxy is as wide and varied as the Christian Church. I am orthodox. I am also--apparently--charismatic and "Arminian" (two rather slippery terms I never actually chose). A friend of mine (no more than a few feet from me at this moment) is orthodox. She is not charismatic and fairly "Calvinist". Somehow we are both orthodox. In fact, the more orthodox we get, the less we disagree. I will always probably be "charismatic" and "Arminian" (whatever either of those words means), and she will probably always be not really "charismatic" and "Calvinist". Yet we agree on so many fundamental truths of the Bible and so much else that our doctrine, although "different", differs less the more we read the truth of God's Word, the more we know him.

Orthodoxy will not come to us from John Stott. Orthodoxy will not come to us from GK Chesterton (although he has book of that name). Orthodoxy will most certainly not come to us from Marcus Borg. Orthodoxy will only come to us from God. And we will only get it when we are willing to submit ourselves to his will and get into his Word and be filled by his Holy Spirit. That, in a nutshell, is orthodoxy. It has nothing to do with organs, pews, buildings, or the Rev. Dr. such and such. It has to do with loving hearts and willing minds.

Copyright 2002, Matthew Hoskin