THE JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
Jam.2: 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Question: “Are you orthodox, Rick?”
Answer: “I am on that Journey.”
Look closely at what the Holy Spirit is teaching in these verses from the Book of James. The word orthodox is a term which means in ecclesiastical vernacular to be Scriptural sound in your doctrine. And therein is a colossal deception. No one can be orthodox by a written set of doctrines alone. No one. The Spirit makes it clear that without obedience those doctrines are worthless. And so doctrines along with spiritual works are symbiotic in their relationship. One without the other is useless.
This is a serious issue about which the humanitarian works wing of evangelicalism as well as the written doctrinal wing of evangelicalism both do battle to win the argument that they alone are orthodox or Scripturally sound. Paper doctrines have no life without flesh and blood actions. They are dead. And yet there is a segment of the evangelical community which embraces their doctrines as proof that they love and follow Jesus because their systematic theologies can be proven exegetically. And there is the opposite segment which suggest that good works toward our fellow man makes written doctrines secondary and subordinate.
But let us peel away all the man made terms and measures and structures. This “orthodox” moniker has become very self serving and even self righteous. And in the midst of important truth debates we seem to have almost ignored the debate which the Spirit makes clear in James. I do believe that the wicked spirits love Scriptural compromise and error, and they seek to lead people away from truth. But somewhere along the line we have forgotten a vital aspect of truth. Obedience. Just saying “Amen” to a set of doctrines means nothing without a life which is just as passionate to live as Jesus lived. I hope we all can see what has happened here.
Christianty: To believe on Jesus, understand what He taught, and do what He did. So how did it get so complex and convoluted? And how did we come up with terms which validate us based solely upon what we say we believe? Think about that. Would the early believers be thrown to the lions just because they wrote their beliefs upon a scroll? What was it about their lives which so irritated the Romans that they killed them? And considering just how cozy the orthodox camp is with America what could possibly put our lives in jeopardy? Half the unsaved country loves fiscal and moral conservatives and seem not offended in the least with the name of Jesus lightly sprinkled among all the earthly battles.
And so just who is orthodox? Is it not those who believe Scriptural truth and live out the teachings of Jesus? Like a row boat with one oar going around in circles, so is the church which either ignores doctrinal truth or ignores obedience to the teachings of Jesus. It is not enough to do the things that Jesus taught without sharing and believing the gospel. And it is not enough to believe the written teachings of Jesus are inspired without doing them. So the path to orthodoxy is a journey which includes faith in the Scriptures and revealing Jesus from the heart and through your life. “Orthodoxy” is a journey and a pursuit. Go ahead and present your written doc trines on gilded leaves of papyrus but that does not make you orthodox.
Following Jesus with all your heart, mind, body, and soul makes a person orthodox. But since that is not a Scriptural term, let us use the term which the Bible uses.