January 20, 2010

Correct belief, correct practice, and real belief

Filed under: Theology — quotable1988 @ 7:49 pm

Orthodoxy fuels orthopraxy. -Josh King, Gloria Dei

[W]hat I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do. -Donald Miller: Blue Like Jazz, p. 110

Orthodoxy – correct doctrine – is essential. Orthopraxy – correct practice — is also essential. But how do the two relate?

Josh’s quote has been at the forefront of my thoughts for awhile. I mis-remembered the quote until I just looked the reference up. I remembered it as “Orthodoxy always fuels orthopraxy.” The resulting thoughts prompted me to form my own version of that: “Orthopraxy is always fueled by orthodoxy, but orthodoxy doesn’t always fuel orthopraxy.”

It was important to me to make this distinction. When I was younger (and even sometimes now), I fell into dead orthodoxy. I believed correct theology, but it didn’t lead to correct practice.

This leads to the Donald Miller quote. I did not truly believe what I said I believed. My true beliefs were evidenced by my active apathy toward God. My real belief (heart belief) was not orthodoxy, though what I said I believed (my head belief) was orthodoxy.

But a question has recently arisen in my mind. Can doctrine that is theologically correct but that does not produce orthopraxy really be called orthodoxy? True orthodoxy is not fodder for the mind; it is food for the soul. This would produce the statement: “True orthodoxy always fuels orthopraxy.” I realize that the statement is redundant–ortho- means true–but I cannot think of any other way to differentiate between correct doctrine that fuels orthopraxy and correct doctrine that only fuels intellectual pursuits.

Perhaps the best way to resolve this is by combining the quotes.

You do not truly believe in orthodoxy if you only say you believe it; true belief in correct doctrine always produces correct practice. –Matthew Williams


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