Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Death of Orthodoxy Part 1

So much of my story as a follower of Jesus has been trying to understand the way in which my life and walk will reflect and bring honor to the Father. While this is often a challenge and lifelong journey, the one thing in my observations about the church is that there has been a death to orthodoxy. By orthodox I mean: the historical doctrines and creeds established by the apostles and early church fathers, informed by the teaching of Jesus and the words of Scripture.

As I journeyed deeper into trying to be a leader in the Kingdom of God, I soon discovered that there were so many ways of "doing" and "being" the church. Most of my earlier years as a true follower of Jesus were spent critiquing the type of church I grew up in. Most of my reasoning for this was that its methods for sharing the message of Jesus were outdated and irrelevant. Though I still hold to this idea, I'm becoming more aware of a trend: sound doctrine and orthodoxy are a dying breed in the American church, especially the "contemporary" church.

Now, before I explain myself, know that I'm not one of those guys who is cynical and angry at everybody and looking for something to complain about. Also know that I'm on the front-lines of trying to help initiate change both in my church and in the Kingdom at large. That said, I seeing a growing trend of churches becoming schools of morality and self-help instead of gospel centers where Jesus is preached, the Bible guides us, and people are challenged to align their lives to both. In the quest for relevance, and often times as a reaction to EVERYTHING associated with a "traditional" church, the solid, foundational message has been tossed along with the outdated methods. We must never mistake the message from the methods. The methods should always change. The message is unchanging. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a message that is changing or should change, for it contains the power to change and transform lives.

In our quest to be relevant, we must never sacrifice sound doctrine. We are warned repeatedly by the apostle Paul throughout his writings that the day is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine and teaching and will instead find teachers to give them what their itching ears long to ear (2 Timothy 4). I'm afraid to say that I feel I'm living in those times. I also feel an amazing burden to see that challenged and changed. Living here in the buckle of the Bible-belt, it is even more needed. Most who call themselves Christians cannot articulate the gospel, more less live it. I want to work relentlessly to see that changed.

Do you find yourself rejecting orthodoxy for the sake of relevance or even relativism? Why do you think churches are changing the message as they change the methods?


  1. Maybe I am ignorant, but what do you mean by orthodoxy? I've grown up with the word, but do not really understand what it means.
    In answer to your second question, we change or water down the message to make it more comfortable. The idea that a man that did not know us died that we can spend eternity with him sounds a little loco. We in our pride think we can better present the gospel to unbelievers in current/comfortable language. We "hang with J.C." instead of spending time "worshiping our Lord and Creator, seeking His face that we may be transformed into His likeness."
    Sadly, so many who spend time in churches every Sunday have become numb to any language of God. We need personal daily encounters with our God, yet in our numbness we don't even fully experience them when they happen.

  2. Good question about "what is orthodoxy?" - I actually just went and edited the post to add that crucial understanding in there.

    Great thoughts on how "our pride" makes us think we can somehow do better than the power of the Spirit at work in the gospel message itself. I think you are very accurate in your assessment.

  3. Great post and something that I think is very much needed today!

  4. Thanks for your post on this. I agree. In addition to scratching itchy ears, I see too much where we are a people committed to "having a form of godliness but denying its power. Chapters 3 & 4 of 2 Tim have much to say on this.

  5. Great post! Lead on Bro, lead on!