Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On the Nightstand: A Generous Orthodoxy

I'm still pretty much a noob when it comes to Emergent, but Brian McLaren's name keeps popping up and I was impressed with how he handled himself in the discussion at Out of Ur. So I finally broke down and picked up Generous Orthodoxy at my local B&N. I'm really just getting started with it, but I wanted to call your attention to a particular passage that says so much of what I've been trying to say, only with an economy that I lack. Essentially, McLaren makes the point that that living rightly (orthopraxy) is ultimately the point of right doctrine (orthodoxy):
...[T]his book assumes that we're all on the court, so to speak... this book can be rightly be accused of blurring the distinction between the orthodoxy of the referees and the orthopraxy of the players. Absurdly (to some at least) this book seems to approach orthodoxy as a tool or means to acheive orthopraxy. You want to know the rules, not so you can blow whistles as a referee, but so you can have a lot of glorious good clean fun as a player... [i]n sum, this book sees orthopraxy as the point of orthodoxy--again, a concept so unorthodox as to encourage a good many good readers to abandon this book right now.
Amen, brother. The point of orthodoxy is orthopraxy, which for Christians is the practice of obeying God's greatest commandment to love him and love our neighbor. I believe Paul was saying the same thing here:
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Of course no one thinks that they "have not love." But truth is that we will invest a great deal more time and energy on -doxy than we will on -praxy. It's easier, more fun, and less fundamentally challenging. Just look at us in one of our debates. Do we really sound any different than the "pagans", when you strip the words away?

I will say this about McLaren too--I have read and heard exchanges he has had with others and he strikes me as among the most patient and thoughtful Christians I have had the privilege to experience. He certainly seems like one who takes orthopraxy very seriously, which is something of an unfortunate rarity these days.


At 5:17 PM, Blogger dorsey said...

My copy just arrived from Amazon with a sticker on the front from Zondervan that says, "We guarantee you'll love this book, or it's free."

I'm sure you'll read it faster than I will, but it's cool that we picked it up at almost the same time. I'll try to keep up.


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