Deadly Orthodoxy

“Orthodox” thinking is usually contrasted with thinking that is “out in left field.”  So it is in theological circles.  Theological orthodoxy can be a very good thing, keeping believers from being ensnared by every false teaching that comes along, and providing stability in their beliefs.

But orthodoxy can also have a negative side.  When the weight of orthodoxy is brought to bear on the free exchange of ideas and understanding of the Bible, the effect is usually to squelch ideas and force people back into the current mold of the day.  Sometimes orthodoxy can imprison the truth for hundreds of years.  The Protestant reformation began because Martin Luther challenged 95 practices of the Catholic Church that he believed could not be supported scripturally!  What if Martin Luther had just “knuckled under” and said, “Oh, well, I guess that is pretty unorthodox thinking — sorry, boys, I take it all back!”

Winston Churchill once stated, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened.”  Never was it more true than in theological circles.  Orthodoxy provides a convenient retreat for folks who don’t want to face the truth!  Even when confronted with scripture passages that irrefutably demonstrate the truth of an “unorthodox” concept, the vast majority will dismiss it with a wave of the hand simply because it isn’t orthodox.  Some will feel threatened by it, and will do everything they can to stomp it out, citing scriptures about false teaching and false teachers.

Either situation is sad, because believers are pressed into the mold of current human majority thinking instead of the mold of Scripture itself.  Luke did not praise the Berean believers because they consulted orthodox thinking daily to see if what Paul said was true — they consulted the Scriptures, and for this they are eternally seen as “more noble.”

Orthodox thinking in Jesus’ day led Israel’s leaders to murder the Prince of Peace.  Orthodox thinking in Paul’s day brought persecution after persecution as he moved from city to city.  Orthodox thinking justified the martyrdom of hundreds of believers in the minds of their persecutors.  The list goes on and on.

God does not want children who are loyal to what men have decided is orthodox.  He wants children who are loyal to what He says.  What He says is Truth.  Orthodoxy, an agreement between men about what they think He says is a poor substitute.  God has promised, dear brothers and sisters, that He will explain His Words to you directly through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Don’t settle for anything less.

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