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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

True, Balanced Doctrine and Orthopraxy

I am currently reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. It has been a fascinating and compelling read so far, but he has said something twice that has stood out to me both times (I think he wanted to make sure I caught it) and I have taken exception with it. It seems to be a sentiment that is shared with many in the emerging and postmodern Christian circles.

He said "Political ideologies and religious doctrines just aren't very compelling, even if they're true" and again, "Doctrine is not very attractive, even if it's true".

I think I can understand his motivation for saying this and, if it had been only once, I may have been inclined to ignore it. But when it bears repeating, it bears addressing. Certainly his intention was to say that what is compelling and attractive is missional, communal, Jesus-like, (fill in your own Christian buzzword here _________) living that reaches out to the lost, marginalized, and hopeless.

The problem is you can't divorce that sort of living from the doctrine behind it. Some people, swinging like a pendulum away from fundamentalism, will abandon the language surrounding their faith. However, as they continue to live the way Jesus lived and wants them to live, they are still affirming and acting on true, balanced doctrine.

Jesus died for my sins. Doctrine. He saved me from hell, both here on earth and in eternity. Doctrine. He asks me to share His love and Gospel. Doctrine. When I serve the marginalized, I serve Jesus. Doctrine.

I am not defending all doctrine. There is doctrine that is false, and it is patently dangerous and destructive. There is also true doctrine that, if out of proportion and unbalanced by other true doctrine, can be equally dangerous and destructive. But true, balanced orthodoxy is behind all right living.

Though you can have orthodoxy (right belief) without orthopraxy (right living), you cannot have orthopraxy without orthodoxy. While we can run away from the words, true doctrine will be at the core of all faithful Christian living. This is because all true doctrine is rooted in the character of God and his revelation. Whether from the Bible or the motivation of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life, true and balanced doctrine lies in the bones and sinew of a Christian life rightly lived. Or, stated another way, when your life aligns with the character of God in any area, your life aligns with true, balanced doctrine.

And that is compelling and attractive.

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