Friday, January 14, 2005

Quote from A Generous Orthodoxy

I'm very excited to finally be getting into Brian McLaren's book A Generous Orthodoxy. I just came across a paragraph on page 30 that I've GOT to quote:

"To link orthodoxy with a practice...further makes this book seem ridiculous because many orthodoxies have always and everywhere assumed that orthodoxy (right thinking and opinion about the gospel) and orthopraxy (right practice of the gospel) could and should be separated, so that one could at least be proud of getting an A in orthodoxy even when one earned a D in orthopraxy, which is only an elective class anyway. In fact, one could even get into a good graduate school based on high orthodoxy grades alone. In that traditional setting, orthodoxy could be articulated and debated by scholars or officials who had little responsibility to actually live by or live out the orthodoxy they defended. Defenders of orthodoxy were seen more like referees than basketball players; nobody cared if they could pass, dribble, or shoot, as long as they could blow a whistle and name an infraction in their black-and-white striped shirts."

I have got to say that this totally nails it for me. The huge gap between right beliefs and actions is one of my biggest gripes with myself and with the Church in general. Hey, I'd even say society at large is guilty of this one, big time, probably even worse than the Church (though our culture is loathe to admit it). In my small group this morning we were talking about how culture has redefined sin so as to alleviate guilt. I truly believe that our culture has come to define "natural" as "good." This is very convenient as it allows people to claim that "That's just the way I am" whenever they do something wrong or offensive (it strikes me as ironic that people think that, as I don't see people rolling around in poison ivy just for the fun of it, though it does occur naturally). At the same time, people know, deep down inside, that something is wrong, and they believe that they are beyond redemption (saving). God's view is so totally different. He says, "You are a sinner, especially if you are doing what comes naturally to you, but you are not beyond redemption." God's view is the exact opposite of humanity's view. We say we're not sinners, but we're too bad to be saved, God says we are sinners, but that we are able to be saved.

Anyway, the gap between what we believe and what we practice is a gap that should never have been allowed to exist within the Church. I hate to think that the owner of a strip club could be a person of high standing in a church, but I know it was the case even here in my home town. The modernist way of thinking has been allowed to infiltrate the Church over the last couple centuries to the point where people will actually defend this. The gap between what one says and how one lives has been allowed to grow too large. Thank you, Brian, for putting this into perspective. Your words phrase my thoughts too well on this point.