Home Voices The Exchange The Danger of ‘Make-Believe’ Orthodoxy

The Danger of ‘Make-Believe’ Orthodoxy

Because of our shared commitment to Scripture, we have constructed theological safety hedges and required adherence. Our beliefs are summarized, transcribed, posted on websites, and in some cases, compel signatories of agreement. And for corporate compliance, there’s usually a willing cadre of self-appointed religious snipers ready to sniff out anything smelling “off-brand” and fire their poisoned-tipped rounds on social media

And our twenty-first century cyber-stonings are bold, bloody, and final. But do they work? Do they produce more faithful disciples? Do they correct our course and redirect us back to the mission of Christ? Or do they just heap more religious corrosion that further obscures our Namesake?

I believe the answer can be measured in the mission field’s deteriorating attitude toward the mission force. The never-ending flood of news stories of fallen clerics, power and sexual abuse scandals, and financial malfeasance disgraces that are hemorrhaging from churches across our land has had a staggeringly degrading effect. Where once we were held in high stead, now we pastors, as a group, stand flatfooted on the very lowest rung of society’s “most trustworthy” professions. And the salacious headlines concerning our most prominent orthodoxy inquisitors have only served to hurry the parade on our descending march of humiliation.

So, what’s wrong with our Western version of orthodoxy?

Perhaps, for some of us, we might have misunderstood the true nature of “belief.”

Essential to a sincere belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word is an assumption that Jesus calls his disciples to become a Bible-obeying people, and not merely intellectual stakeholders of theologically orthodox positions. Scripture maintains that true orthodoxy affirms that biblical belief is a verbdoctrines that we humbly live and practice—rather than a nountheoretical precepts to which we philosophically subscribe. (See: Luke 6:46, Luke 11:28, John 14:21–23, John 15:14, 2 Timothy 3:16, James 1:22–25, James 2:19, 1 John 2:3–6, 1 John 5:3, 2 John 1:6)

Therefore, our most appropriate response is to measure spiritual maturity and doctrinal integrity with the benchmarks found in our everyday obedience to God’s Word. Only a disciple’s life marked by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) can verify their signature on their statement of beliefs.

When our beliefs migrate from the “appearance of godliness” to the Holy Spirit’s empowerment of our surrendered mouths, hands, calendars, social media accounts, and bank statements—then we can, in good conscience, remove ourselves from Paul’s “avoidance” list.

And we’ll be safe to hang out with Timothy.

(Note: For each of the Seven Temptations in this series of articles, I will include a few illustrating paragraphs of narrative from my novel “Once You See: Seven Temptations of the Western Church.”)

Obedient ‘Belief’ Illustrated…

Omar sensed a depth and intensity of both relationship and purpose that could only be described as otherworldly. He had always been close with his own blood, but this familial knitting was a different kind of blood. Deeper. Truer. And Omar wanted more.

After sharing an almost mystical meal together, Muhammad stood up and walked across the room toward a green, hammered steel bureau. He unlocked it. Then he pulled the top drawer completely out, reached his arm through the opening, and carefully removed a coverless, tattered volume, bound together with black tape. He held it in his hands with a look of pride and contentment as if he were holding the Crown Jewels. Then he carefully opened it about three quarters of the way to the end of the book, and softly spoke: