Thoughts From My Covid Wilderness 2.0

November 2021

I am a logophile.  A logophile is someone who loves words. I love the meaning behind them.  I love the sound of them. I love how other languages have words that do not exist in English and how those words can have such a complex and deep meaning it takes multiple words to express in our language.  In fact, Tara and I play this game called, “Really, Really Big Words Trivia.” Come to the office sometime and we will test your skill with vocabulary.

Anyway, as you can imagine, when I got to seminary I was in hog heaven (which is an extremely satisfying state or situation according to Merriam-Webster).  Not only was a whole new understanding brought to my reading of scripture as I learned Greek and Hebrew words, but every class taught me English words I had never heard before, such as hermeneutical, exegesis, and eisegesis.  

Lately, I have been wrestling with two of those words and how they relate to one another, because I see the tension between them growing in our Christian culture once again.  Perhaps because our nation is experiencing an identity crisis amid ongoing racial mistrust, distrust in our two-party system, distrust of social media, perhaps all media, and our Covid fatigue.  This tension was certainly present during the Reformation.  It was present in first century Christianity, and it is present now.  The tension is between the orthodoxy of the church and the orthopraxy of the church:  Faith vs. Works.

Orthodoxy is the beliefs, rituals, and practices of the institution of Christianity that is accepted to be true or correct.  Our creedal statements, such as the Apostle’s Creed, reflect our orthodoxy because it clearly states what we believe about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, about life, resurrection, and salvation.  The recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, the celebration of Lent and Advent, in which the doctrines of grace, sacrifice, and redemption are highlighted, reflect FVPC’s orthodoxy.  Also, our Confirmation classes and Officer training seek to teach the beliefs, rituals, and practices that we accept to be true or correct.  This means we teach that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human and reject any teaching that opposes, for example, Jesus’ divine-human identity.

Orthopraxy is the belief that right action is as important as religious faith.  Orthopraxy is reflected in statements such as, “This is the way we have always done it.”  The fight between singing hymns or praise songs is rooted in our orthopraxy.  Orthopraxy focuses on cultural integrity, our ethical system, the passing down of our traditions.  Hanging of the Greens is an orthopraxis tradition here in our church.  Orthopraxy governs (or should govern) our behavior toward one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.