Combating Heresy – The Second Solution: Orthopraxy

As previously seen, Orthodoxy is extremely effective at preventing heresy when properly followed. In fact, it combats three of the four types of heresy and even aids in the fourth. Orthodoxy outright combats the rejection of God as God, the rejection of Christ as Christ, and the rejection of the Law. It aids in combating the rejection of Biblical morality by giving us a proper basis for understanding the virtues, but it only goes so far.

To truly fight against the heresy of vice, we must engage in orthopraxy, that is, living rightly. It is not enough to believe the right things about God. We must also live rightly.

I think of the numerous “conservative” leaders who have been caught in scandals, generally involving some sort of sexual encounter. While such scandals are horrible, sadly enough such scandals should have been seen before they ever happened. What I mean is that such churches were so busy putting an emphasis on thinking rightly that they forgot to live rightly. When a pastor becomes arrogant in the truth it is only a matter of time before he begins to engage in the heresy of immorality (in fact, by being arrogant he has already engaged in such a heresy).

If we are taught that God loves all humans and furthermore that all humans are still good (in substance, not in morality) because they were made by God, what excuse are we left with to ignore the plight of billions around the world? The orthodox teaching is that all men were made by God in His image, meaning that they have dignity. Orthodoxy goes on further to say that because the Word took on human flesh, our nature was raised (though not changed) to be a god (not in being or essence, but in terms of our morality and good actions). So when we see a human suffer, we’re seeing an image-bearer suffer, which should be abhorrent to us.

While not all of us can dedicate our lives to combating the ills of this world, a certain percentage of us can. I ask of you, those who attend what can be considered a “mega-church,” how many of your members are actively involved in ending sex-trafficking in the United States? By involved I don’t mean giving money, but actually setting up centers to help such children. How many of you believe abortion is wrong? Now how many of you have a church that has set up a pregnancy crisis center or, even better, rented apartments for pregnant women facing abortions or even brought them into your homes? For those who rail against the state of education in our nation, has your church opened up a private school, but one that even the poor can attend?

Christianity is, in many ways, a practical religion. While the truth of Christianity is not determined by its effects (it is not pragmatic), every single Christian doctrine has practical applications. When we fail to live out these applications then we have failed to understand the central message of Christianity. Everything from the Trinity to the Incarnation to our future hope of the resurrection all have practical applications. If we’re not applying orthodoxy then we’re not engaging in orthopraxy, meaning we are heretics in practice.

The second solution to combating heresy is to live rightly. When the world sees how we live then they will see our beliefs and tremble at the compassion of our Lord.


2 thoughts on “Combating Heresy – The Second Solution: Orthopraxy

  1. Great thoughts here.

    I was thinking, can you have a seemingly perfect or accurate orthodoxy and have a nonexistent or shabby orthopraxy?
    Can you have a orthopraxy like St. Francis or Mother Theresa and have the orthodoxy of Oprah or Larry King?

    Which of those two scenarios would Jesus track with?

    I am saddened by the amount of Christians that will leave a healthy giving vibrant community of friends and family because of their orthodoxy not aligning perfect. My feeling is the reason there are so many sects of Christianity is that orthodoxy is king not orthopraxy.
    We can come to a unity of the faith when we focus on orthopraxy. Not too many people will argue that helping the poor, healing the brokenhearted , forgiving 70×7, love your enemies, serve others to serve God and the like are good solid doctrines from the mouth of Christ. We can unify on these practices even if we are at odds with an orthodoxy issue.

    Orthodoxy driven people often use phrases like “you’re going down a dangerous path” or “that’s a slippery slope you’re on”. I like to ask “where is that path or slope going to take me?” They never answer. Maybe its orthodoxy that leads to the slippery slope.


    1. Though I will talk of orthodoxy and orthopraxy as separate, in reality they aren’t separate at all. However, if we must ask which one is more important, the answer would lean on orthodoxy. Our mind directs our body – very rarely will our body direct our mind. Since this is true, it is good to have right doctrine that will then lead to right actions.

      Now, what do we mean by “orthodoxy.” Quite simply, “That which has been believed by all, in all places, at all times.” The things that have traditionally been considered essential to the faith would fall under orthodoxy. When or how Christ will return, how we should cross ourselves (or if we should cross ourselves), or issues of that nature wouldn’t constitute orthodoxy. Whether or not Jesus is God, God is Trinitarian, or Christ’s death atoned for our sins (which all Christians – Protestants, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics – believe, they just debate over the type of atonement) and things of this nature do matter in terms of fellowship. How can we commune together when we disagree on these beliefs? How can we serve God when we disagree and believe in different Gods?

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