March 9, 2009

In The Middle :: A Life of Tension pt.1

I’m confused; like normal. This is about my struggle to figure out what is more important, orthodoxy or orthopraxy, then concluding that both must be equals and it is when they are no longer seen in equal tension that we begin to have misguided thinking.
I usually never start out my blogs like this. I like to let the argument form without actually stating my main point, but recent feedback says its confusing. So there it is, my main point for all to read right in the front of everything. No confusion. Now… lets begin…
I believe in right thinking (orthodoxy) and I also believe in right living (orthopraxy). Is one better than the other? no… no I don’t think so. Especially lately with all the emerging this and emergent that talk (which I find fascinating usually), this has become a heated debate. Some people will argue through a video screen, over phone, face to face about this while others will just write books. No matter what media the argument uses, most have an opinion.
One opinion, that is dominated mostly by emerging Christians, is that orthopraxy, living in line with Jesus (essentially living “right”), is more important than crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s of our theology (essentially orthodoxy). This is seen in many emerging Christian’s lacking emphasis on dogma and theological doctrines and their lean towards social issues of justice and compassion and what not.
The second opinion obviously sees doctrines, dogmas and theology has crucial. these Christians hold to the fact… that there are facts and there is truth and it needs to be found out and taught. You may find them asking fewer questions about doctrine and instead advocating for the truth (on youtube) because it does exist, but more importantly it can be found out.
These are two fantastic views with many great points each. So which view is right? Which is most important? Which side holds more weight?
I believe truth can be known… it can be known partially, but not fully. Does this mean that we can’t know anything for sure? No…we can. It just means that no one is capable of obtaining all truth… I don’t think anyway J So should we abandon the task of theology and doctrines because deep down we know that we will never know anyway? …um no. This could be bad, instead we should adapt a different posture.
We should struggle, investigate and research through our theologies in light of the biblical text. I think we should be doing the best we can to wrestle with and exegete the biblical text and apply it. *(a side note about this “struggle”) This struggle, when we are day and night meditating on and breathing in the inspired words of the Bible, may be where the most marvelous transformation happens. It is impossible to wrestle with the Bible and not be changed. It’s kind of like when Jacob wrestled with God all night. Jacob walked different after that night… literally. We will too.
But(!)… at the same time, it’s crucial to remember that theology will never be organized, clean nor systematic the way we want it to. All our questions won’t be answered. How do I know? Just glance at history. There are so many brilliant theologians who have done their share of struggling with God’s word… who in the end disagree. They didn’t find the same answers. Is there a right answer? I believe so, but maybe obtaining the right answers isn’t the most important thing. I think the most important thing, which is what I see as the third and best opinion, is when these two rivals, which is what some have made them, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, are held in perfect and equal tension.
I imagine a teeter-totter; those things kids think they like at parks and stuff. If on one end you had a big-fat kid and on the other you had skinny Johnny, the teeter-totter wouldn’t work that good. It’s the best when the two kids are equal weight. On one end you got right thinking and on the other you got right living. They are suppose to weight the same, but many times people will heap certain arguments and evidences on one side and at this point everything leans one way causing everything to be out of whack and out of balance. We need both. The center of gravity needs to be placed in the middle and remain there. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy are to be held in perfect tension so that justice and doctrine may live in peace.