Orthodoxy or Orthopraxy?
Two words that you have probably heard, but never given much thought to before. Simply put the definitions are “Right” thinking, or “Right” doing. So the question then becomes is it more important to think the right things, or is it more important to do the right things.
You have heard the prefix ortho many times before, but perhaps you have never thought about what it means. You are familiar with an orthodontist or an orthopedist. The prefix ortho means straight, right, or proper. So an orthodontist makes crooked teeth straight or right. An orthopedist makes crooked bones straight or right. For something to be crooked or straight it has to be compared to something else. If you want to know if a line is straight you hold a ruler against it for comparison. If a builder wants to know if his wall is straight he holds a level against it for comparison. In matters of religion the absolute standard is the word of God. So if we want to know if our thoughts or actions are right or not we compare them to the word of God.
In religion, Orthodoxy is believing the right, straight and proper, tenets of faith. Orthpraxy is doing the right, straight, and proper good works.
Some groups will argue that right thinking is the most important thing, while other groups argue that right doing is.
I am of the opinion that both are critical, and that right thinking produces right doing.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. As a Christian I must believe that there is nothing I could do to earn my salvation. There is nothing I could do to gain a place in Heaven. There is nothing I could do to deliver myself from Hell. Salvation is God’s free gift to me through His son Jesus Christ. That’s right thinking!
Ephesians 2:10 “FOR we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” While there is nothing I can do to earn salvation, the Bible is clear, the outworking of my salvation must be in good works.
I put the word for in all caps because it helps us understand. In this sentence the word for is drawing a conclusion. It is saying you have been saved by grace THEREFORE you are His workmanship, THEREFORE you are saved for the purpose of doing good works. That’s right doing!
James makes it more clear when he writes, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
Right thinking and right doing are both absolutely essential... but it does matter the order. Right THINKING must precede right DOING. First, I must be assured that I am saved by grace; salvation is absolutely the free gift of God. Then, I must be persuaded that I am saved for a purpose... to do the good works that He has prepared for me in Christ Jesus.
The Bible says “a tree shall be known by its fruit”; and again, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit...”
Is the life of Christ which flows in you producing much fruit?
C3 Newberg is a community church located in Newberg, Oregon. We exist to impact our City and help individuals find and know Christ. We are a Church for the City and a City for Christ.
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