What does orthodoxy mean? How do we tell if a teaching is orthodox?

Exactly what does the term “orthodoxy” mean? Whether a doctrine claims to be orthodox, how can we determine if it is?

The term “orthodoxy” is used to describe the core tenets of the Christian religion. According to the “correct belief, as opposed with heresy,” orthodoxy is defined as in the “Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church” (Cross, F. and Livingstone, E., ed., Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 1,206). All Christians should have the same orthodox views since they are well-established and based on the Bible. While reasonable people might disagree on a lot of things, rejecting Christian orthodoxy automatically puts you on the fringes of the faith.

According to one scholar of religion, “the phrase means ‘right view,’ and pertains precisely to the tested and true interpretations of the Bible’s central theme, overarching plot, and underlying truths.” Those are the bedrock doctrines of the Christian religion that can never be altered, nor should they (Svigel, M., RetroChristianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith, Crossway, 2012, p. 87, emphasis in the original). Traditional orthodoxy, as passed down through the apostles and prophets, holds that we cannot come to God’s revelation with our own innovative interpretation of His teachings (Ephesians 2:20).

Let’s take a quick tour through the Bible and church history of orthodox Christian teachings before moving on to some easy tests for determining if a doctrine is orthodox:

The people of Israel in the Old Testament adhered to a strict code of ethics. Some of the cornerstones of Jewish (and Christian) orthodoxy are outlined in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Listen up, Israel: There is one God in heaven. As the old saying goes, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.” Just after this first statement of faith, Moses gives the Israelites the mandate to instill the Ten Commandments in their offspring and to be an example of them to the rest of the world. This is an example of how orthodoxy endures: it is preserved by God’s people as they pass it on to the next generation.

Read Also
Is there any biblical teaching for female pastors?

Israel was a special covenant society, and hence people who disobeyed the laws God gave via Moses were subject to severe punishments (Deuteronomy 17:2–7). Those who tried to persuade other Israelites to follow them in unorthodox religious or ritual activities were to be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:6–11). Divinely inspired boundaries for orthodoxy are found in the Scriptures (2 Kings 22:13).

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of New Testament orthodoxy. Everything Jesus says is true because He is God and the absolute embodiment of truth (John 1:14; Ephesians 4:21). He is, and always has been, the focal point of Christianity (John 14:6). Apostles were responsible for spreading Jesus’ teachings to the rest of the world. Instead of the word “orthodoxy,” they used terms like “sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1), “sound teaching” (2 Timothy 1:13), and “the faith” to describe these basic tenets (Acts 6:7). The church was ordered to maintain the teaching they had received from Jesus Christ via the apostles (Ephesians 2:20; see 1 Timothy 3:14–4:10, 2 Timothy 1:13–14, Titus 1:9) since it was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” Those who preached heresy were told in no uncertain terms that churches should not welcome them (2 Corinthians 11:3–4; Galatians 1:6–9; 1 John 4:2–3, 15; 5:10; 2 Peter 2:1–2). For the sake of “the faith that was once for all delivered to God’s holy people,” Jude writes, “contend for it” (Jude 1:3). The substance of this faith is what we mean when we use the term “orthodoxy.”

Read Also
"Why You Should Stop Confessing Your Sins To God" - Pastor Abel Damina Says As He Recommends What To Do

The church was given the orthodox ideas by the apostles and eloquently stated them in many debates with early heretics. Although there was no formal Christian hierarchy at the time, many of the early church fathers condemned heretics who spread heresy inside the church. Christian leaders from all around the globe convened to examine orthodoxy at what became known as ecumenical councils as theological conflicts over basic concerns threatened to pull the church apart. Although imperfect, several of these councils do show the early church’s agreement on key matters in light of the Bible and hence are reflective of Christian orthodoxy.

Christian orthodoxy includes the conviction that Jesus fully embodied both human and divine natures. The church has always held that Jesus was completely God and fully man, without any kind of division or misunderstanding, despite the claims of many heretical organizations that He was just human, or only God, or only human until He became God, etc. One who denies Jesus’ complete divinity or full humanity stands in contradiction to what the Bible and the church have always taught, and hence beyond the bounds of Christianity. This is the orthodox view, which has been confirmed by a number of ecumenical councils. God created the creation out of nothing (Psalm 89:11-12), Jesus died and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3-6), and Jesus will return for His people (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). (Hebrews 9:28).

Christians may and do differ on many major matters that have nothing to do with orthodoxy. Orthodox principles are what define a religion; personal preferences and conflicts over minor things are not. Two churches with the same doctrinal foundations might have wildly divergent practices, such as one holding Communion once a month and the other once a week. We risk needlessly splintering the body of Christ if we make differences in opinion and religious affiliation into doctrinal issues. Similarly, we strip the term orthodox of its meaning and reduce it to a cultish adherence of our own views. If everything is conventional, then nothing is, to borrow a statement from The Incredibles.

Read Also
What does speaking in tongues mean?

Some beliefs are so essential to the Christian faith that they deserve to be called “orthodox.” Whether we want to know if a certain doctrine is “orthodox,” what criteria must we use? As a starting point, we may consult the Bible, the church, and God.

The Bible should be consulted for clarification. Christian doctrine and behavior are to be interpreted only through the lens of the Bible. A theory is considered heretical if it stands in opposition to the clear teaching of the Bible.

If you’re unsure, ask the priest. Although they were far from faultless, the early church had a collective memory that extended beyond the apostles’ own. While not perfect, the ecumenical councils did capture the consensus of an early, somewhat united Christian church. As a result, a fresh reading of the Bible is undoubtedly beyond the boundaries of orthodoxy if it entirely opposes the teachings of the church fathers, the findings of the early ecumenical councils, and the lasting convictions that most of the global church still believes today.

Pray about it. There should be prayer at every stage of the decision-making process. God encourages us to seek Him out with our problems and seek His counsel (James 1:5). His assistance is necessary in any circumstance. Don’t worry about anything, but instead “submit your requests to God via prayer and supplication, always with thankfulness” (Philippians 4:6).

Nobelie’s Founder

My Passion for The Gospel bought about this great Platform.. I love to share the Good News. That's my PASSION. I don't believe the Gospel should be boring. Nobelie is so exclusive. You won't find what we offer any where else. You ask a friend.
About Nobelie 6828 Articles
My Passion for The Gospel bought about this great Platform.. I love to share the Good News. That's my PASSION. I don't believe the Gospel should be boring. Nobelie is so exclusive. You won't find what we offer any where else. You ask a friend.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.