Love > Orthodoxy

People with strong beliefs are often concerned about “orthodoxy”. I get this.  As a new Christian I wanted to be sure my faith was based on truth.  And yet, I think a focus on orthodoxy will often pull us away from what’s most important.

Time has taught me deep truth can’t rarely be fully captured by orthodox creeds because God’s truth transience the human ability systemize knowledge. God’s Spirit cannot be contained in human constructed theological assertions.

In Unity, Freedom, Charity I noted that Christians should unify around what is essential and not use differences in the non essentials to separate themselves from others. In that post I suggested that an essential Christian theology could be defined by something as simple of the Apostles or Nicene Creed.

On a trip to Yosemite, my friend David raised an interesting question:

If you took the beliefs of everyone you know who seems to have a real relationship with Jesus as evidenced by their lives (James 2), what is the intersection of their beliefs?

David went on to suggest that it would be the null set.  He doesn’t actually believe that, but was taking an extreme position to force me to think. I said surely there would be something, like the Apostle’s creed. David asked me if everyone I thought had a real relationship with Jesus fully embraced the Apostle’s Creed. I realized that there were several people who didn’t. I was reminded of the phrase “People who are saved in spite of their doctrine rather than due to it”.

What is essential? Before Jesus there were many people of faith who  didn’t know truths contained in the Apostle’s creed yet are held up as examples of faith (Hebrews 11). When asked about faith, the answers Jesus gave failed to include key elements of the Apostle’s creed: Luke 23:39-43, John 3, Mark 1:15, Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 7:21, John 14:15. Likewise later such as Acts 16:30-31, Romans 10:9 are rather minimalist. It seems to me that there are just two core elements of a real faith which are relational in nature:

  1. Help – We are lost without God
  2. Thanks – God will provide if we respond to Him

When I think about Jesus’ life, I don’t see a focus on theology, I see a focus on responding to God and to love  others. While overly simplistic, the WWJD campaign got something really right by using the word “do” rather than “believe”.

Orthodoxy provides guardrails to keep use from going off track, but it should not be our focus. Our goal should be to know Jesus, and for our lives to be transformed to be more like Him. We need to leave room for the Spirit to work, or we will find ourselves in dead orthodoxy and in the company of religious who worked against Jesus.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)

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