Tag Archive | Orthodoxy

Meaningless Talk

What troubles me most about this question is that the church is usually the one on trial rather than the motives of the unchurched and unbelieving. Why is the church always on trial? Why is the church always in question? Why are the motives of the church always under the spotlight and never the motives of the unbelieving community? – Kevin Shrum, “9 Reasons People Leave The Church When The Church Isn’t To Blame”, Christian Post, July 29, 2015

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[P]eople feel like the church is a horribly judgmental place more concerned with keeping its own brand of morality afloat than actually helping anyone in need. You’ll notice that Shrum never says a word about service or ministry. It’s all holiness all the time. Unfortunately for churches like Shrum’s, holiness just isn’t very popular in our culture these days. What people want in spirituality is egalitarianism, an emphasis on the ways in which God welcomes, rather than rejects. – Daniel Schultz, “Millennials Put Off By Rigid, Judgmental Religion Offered . . . More Orthodoxy,” Religion Dispatches, August 3, 2015

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More broadly, articles like Shrum’s are further evidence of the fact that evangelicals need to conduct some serious self-examination on these questions. They must ask themselves whether this oppositional mentality comprises a core component of who they are. In other words, if they were to drop the discourse of “us” versus “them” altogether, would they cease to be evangelicals at all? Moreover, without such vigilant policing of theological and social boundaries, would their movement“lose its identity and purpose and grow languid and aimless?” . . .

The “us” versus “them” disposition clearly benefits evangelicals in a variety of ways. Individual believers may take comfort in the ability to easily identify one of “us” in an increasingly diverse society, political leaders can use it to mobilize the powerful white evangelical voting bloc, and of course it does seem to, for the time being at least, keep church attendance from going the way of the Mainline. –Jonathan Orbell, “Sure, Evangelical Numbers Are Steady . . . But At What Cost?”, Religion Dispatches, August 14, 2015

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I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk,desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. – 1 Timothy 1:3-11

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One single tear as our world groans for something more.

One single tear as our world groans for something more.

There are many things in this world I abhor. Cooked cabbage is probably at the top of that list, although I love brussel sprouts, with vinegar and butter. I’m turned off by casual, unthinking, knee-jerk reactions some people make about things others say. The Internet, it seems, provides far too many lessons in not listening/reading; we have forgotten the preciousness of others, that – barring such extreme views as the desire for the death of others – even views we might hold in contempt are still those held by our fellow human beings, children beloved by God. We are becoming far too casual in our dismissal of others. It used to anger me, this refusal to understand others. Now, it makes me sad.

Perhaps what makes me more sad, however, is the kind of bickering among Christians we see represented above. The abuse of the word “evangelical”, something all Christians should embrace, considering it is always and only the willingness to share the Good News of Infinite Divine Love embodied in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, makes me want to bang my head against a wall. It is not the property of this or that party – “one says ‘I am of Apollos’, another says ‘I am of Paul'” – but part and parcel of being a Christian, a part of the Body of Christ. There is nothing political, social, cultural, uniquely American, or anything else about being an Evangelical Christian (except, of course, historically where the word has been used to differentiate Protestant and Catholic styles of theology).

Buzzwords and proof-texts are tossed around like a graduate marketing seminar. “The narrow way”, “millennials”, “orthodoxy”, “holiness”, “liberal”, “spirituality” and so many more find their way to these articles, typed with neither thought nor reflection they might really mean things. Indeed, perhaps they mean the most important things. Rather than remain gentle, however, these authors all seem to be of one mind about one thing, at least: it is far better to distinguish “us” from “them” even as we acknowledge that is something Jesus didn’t do. So caught up in taking sides, in proving a point, in arguing, in being right at the cost of the ministry of the Church, these authors have no idea how much they are hurting the rest of us. They have no idea how much they are hurting a world in need of words of comfort, in need of those willing to stand with the nameless and faceless, in need of a vision of promise and hope for a world cast about by too many plans and visions and threats that promise nothing but pain and death. While we stand atop our sinking steeples yelling at one another, we forget there are children dying of preventable diseases; there are women hiding in shame, covered in bruises and scars; there are men so full of fear and rage they sense only violence will give them a voice.

The quote from Kevin Shrum is a remarkable whine that nevertheless holds at least a grain of truth. The church should and must sit in silence and hear the complaints of those we try so hard to reach. When that reach is pushed away, we need to know why. A refusal to do so is a betrayal of our faith. It is a stance rooted in our own sense of our own righteousness. It is, in other words, a whine rooted in our sin and brokenness. The moment we wish to stop hearing from those outside the church how we are perceived regardless of our stated intentions is the moment we are lost.

Still, the Church should also be careful that criticisms that extend beyond our identity as the Body of Christ aren’t taken too much to heart. We have an obligation, after all, to the Living God, to whose glory we work. We are the hands and feet of the Risen Christ, empowered by the Spirit to live in love to the world around us. What Shrum writes earlier in the article shouldn’t be of any concern to us at all:

Once possessing a “favored place at the community table” along with other community leaders, with portfolio and reputation to boot, the church in North America is now hemorrhaging members at an alarming rate. Further, the indifference toward the church by non-attenders and unbelievers has been a shock to the often insulated and isolated members of an all too often recalcitrant church. To make matters worse, most people in the church are clueless as to the reasons for this indifference.

Pastor Dan is correct in his observations about stated trends in recent surveys concerning the religious preferences of the American people. I would agree we as churches still have far to go to be what we are supposed to be. That, of course, has always been the case; in many ways, particularly in the mainline churches, we are more active in the pursuit both of personal and social holiness than at many times in history. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

What it also doesn’t mean is that we surrender the reality that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is not just about the happy ending at the end of the story. On the contrary, along side the freedom and salvation God in Christ brings to the world is the judgment that the Christ-event was necessary at all; we are all judged and found unworthy of Divine love. The strain of spiritual sickness that is always with us, even in the Church, can only be removed through Divine condescension. There is always judgment with grace, and that judgment is always death – our death, our eternal separation from the God who created us. The moment we lose that, the rest of the story becomes nonsense and the Church is little more than a private social welfare agency staffed by people who think just a bit too much of themselves. Until we remember the whole story, we aren’t living the Gospel at all. We’re trying to feel better about ourselves at the expense of some other.

The use of the buzzword “consumerist” in the last article by Orbell is – or should be – strange. The idea that the either/or of a “faithful few” against the “consumerist majority” is solely the creation of the binary thinking of “evangelicals” is absurd. The reality is we are indeed a consumerist society; our religious preferences no less than the brand of soap we buy or car we drive is driven by a capitalist ideology that understands all things as having a market value, to be weighed on the scales of worth against what we are willing to pay. We can no more escape this reality than we can the reality that our churches still struggle with racism and sexism: they are an indelible part of our history and need always be kept in mind. To be an American is to be a consumer. Whether it’s coffee or churches, the role of final arbiter of “best value” is always us. That this distorts so much of what we do as churches, particularly as we try to get out our message, should be obvious. The lie of individualism is part of the ideology of capitalism, an ideology that infects our churches no less than our schools, our politics, and our sport.

What made me angrier and angrier, then sadder and sadder, as I read these related pieces, was the reality that our Scriptures offer something so different from this kind of petty bickering, nonsensical talk with empty words, all rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking ship of the Christian churches in America. In 1 Timothy, St. Paul asks his young protege to remain in Ephesus. Why? Because there are those in that city who worry themselves overmuch with all sorts of matters that have nothing to do with the Gospel, the Gospel that St. Paul preached, the Gospel that St. Paul received from God.  Rather than hold in love the Word of Life, they pay attention to fads and fashions, to abstruse and nonsensical ideas. They carry on as if they actually knew what they were talking about, rather than attending in love to the Gospel.

At its heart, we are to hold fast to a life in which we recognize the ordinances of God exist for us not because we are blessed. Rather, they pronounce judgment upon us as sinners. The life of holiness, personal and social, to which we are called is not for us, but for the Glory of the God who saves us. Carrying on with little understanding, using words without knowledge, having no idea what they’re talking about, we find little of the Gospel that is the precious kernel at the heart of the Church’s life. As the world around us cries out in need, rather than offer bread we toss as many stones as we can, some called “orthodoxy”, others called “holiness”, still others “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”. Is it any wonder the Church has been tried and found wanting by so many?

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By Whose Authority?

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. – Matthew 21:23-27

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Cassian’s insight is similar to what would later be called the Vincentian Canon, named after its progenitor St. Vincent of Lerins.  He argued, “we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all.”

The early church, led by the apostles and their successors, saw themselves as in continuity with the teaching of Jesus handed on by the disciples.  They determined to hold “the authority of all,” led by the Holy Spirit, above any individual or regional variations. – Rev. Drew McIntyre, “”Orthodoxy As The ‘Authority Of All'”, Uniting Grace, August 11, 2015

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Once I was all keen on calling all sorts of folks heretics. Now, I realize it’s a game, pure and simple, one I choose not to play. Are, say, Mormons “Christian” or not? They certainly think so. Are Jehovah’s Witnesses? Again – they believe themselves to be. Considering the bloody history of hunting heretics, I think it far wiser, and far more in keeping with a Wesleyan understanding of grace, to preach and teach our faith without worrying overmuch if we’re all getting it right. Isn’t that, after all, no different than wanting to make sure we are good enough and work hard enough to win salvation? All our doctrine errs, because we are human and sinful. Our faith is in the Living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not some words on a page or computer screen. – Me, comment on “Orthodoxy As . . .”, August 12, 2015

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A depiction of the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, where the first anathema against false doctrine was announced. It took about a century, and a couple more councils, to make it stick.

A depiction of the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, where the first anathema against false doctrine was announced. It took about a century, and a couple more councils, to make it stick.

Over time, Christian doctrine has been understood as the content of the teaching office of the Church. When people wish to know what it is we believe, we profess the doctrines of the Church as the collective wisdom of the saints. Theology, as distinct from doctrine, is the variety of ways in which ages have come to understand what those doctrines mean for them; how they apply both to faith and life; in their variety, and more than occasional conflict, demonstrated the brokenness of the Body of Christ. All the names we give ourselves – Catholic and Orthodox, Protestant and Radical, Calvinist and Arminian – are our collective confession of sin before the throne of God.

Doctrine itself, however, is little different. Not anything Divine, certainly not contained within the testimony of Scripture unless teased out by various methods and through a variety of hermeneutical tools, Christian doctrine is the all too human profession of self-identity. Not at all confession, because our confession is always in the Living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, doctrine is the always changing self-understanding of the people called by God to proclaim the Good News and work for the Kingdom of God. When I say that doctrine is “always changing”, I do not mean to imply there is nothing solid on which to hold. Rather, I am noting only the simple historical fact that Christian doctrine is now, and has always, changed.

Once upon a time, millions of Christians believed that Jesus Christ, no matter how exalted, was still a creature. Adopted by God to fulfill God’s purposes of salvation, there was nothing Divine in Christ, either in body or soul. This teaching, by the Bishop Arius, gained quite a following in the late Roman Empire. Holding that Divinity was a substance vouchsafed to God alone, not to be divided or subsumed under human nature, they refused to grant equality to Jesus as the Divine Son of God.

There were others, however, whose self-appointed leader was Bishop Athanasius, who insisted that the efficacy of salvation could only come through Divine action. Thus, Jesus Christ, for all it might sound confounding, confusing, and contradictory, was both fully human and fully divine, being of one substance with the Father. A better politician than Arius, Athanasius convinced the Emperor, Constantine, that the division within the church was harmful to the peace of the Empire; that the self-professed Arian Christians, erring as they did, threatened not only the stability of the Empire, but the immortal souls of those who so believed. Constantine agreed, less on theological and more on political grounds, and called a Council of all the Bishops of the Empire at the resort city of Nicaea, not far from the Imperial capital of Constantinople.

The Council convened quickly, before Arius and many of his followers could arrive. Athanasius managed to convince a majority of the correctness of his position. The result, the confession of Nicaea, expressed not only the belief in the dual nature of Christ, but anathematized anyone teaching or holding the belief that, as Athanasius claimed the Arians taught, “There was a time when He was not.” Lacking the kinds of instant communication we have today, however, it took time to spread the word. Arius poo-pooed the Nicaean declaration, rightly noting that the whole thing was rigged. He continued to lead his city, preach and teach his doctrine, and millions continued to believe as he did. The bishop who baptized Constantine on his deathbed was an Arian believer.

It took about a century for the general consensus that we as Christians now hold – the dual nature of Christ, that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, with no intermingling of the two natures – to become fully accepted in the Church. After Arius died, his writings were confiscated and destroyed; what little we know of his actual teachings comes from those who insisted he erred, and erred dangerously.

In the centuries since, the Church’s authority has come down hard on those whose teachings strayed from the “official” doctrines of the Church. By the tenth century, even the eastern and western churches had become separated over an argument about the procession of persons in the Trinity, each excommunicating the other. Luther considered the Pope the anti-Christ; Luther, for his part, was anathematized, excommunicated, any followers denied communion with the Mother Church, and because of the long-standing teaching extra ecclesiam nunc salus, damned to hell for all eternity. John Calvin thought it a good idea to burn Servetus at the stake because Servetus was, for all intents and purposes, a Unitarian. The desire to enforce conformity has been a deadly reality over seventeen hundred years of church history.

Which is why I am troubled by some among fellow United Methodists who not only insist on a juridical role for doctrine, but that doctrine is more than the collective self-identity of the professing Church. I always say that I hold to what I consider the traditional doctrines of the Church; my theology is so orthodox it’s actually boring. All the same, to insist that doctrine is not just profession but confession, that in which we believe, makes an idol no different from the golden calf of the Israelites in the desert. To insist that United Methodists all hold as “true” the words in our Articles of Religion makes such action little different from purchasing indulgences or other forms of what has been called works righteousness. To make of doctrine some kind of test of faith for individuals, rather than our collective profession of identity, all too human and subject to change, is not just dangerous. It perverts doctrine, making it something it is not.

To write, as Rev. McIntyre did, that “[h]eresy is by definition a lie” makes a categorical distinction between what is different only in degree. Of course those who teach what is not held in the official teachings of the various churches err. What they do not do is “lie”. Their “error”is little different from our own self-proclaimed “orthodox” doctrines. What difference exists is only matters of degree rather than kind. There is nothing of grace in the insistent demand for orthodox conformity. There is certainly none in the desire to make of doctrine something with legal force, particularly in the United Methodist Church. Down that way lies heresy trials, something we neither need nor should desire. Does the acceptance of distinct theologies, such as various liberation or protest theologies, become heretical? Indeed, on a personal note, I don’t really think the Virgin Birth is a doctrine that we need to hold. It matters not a whit to who Jesus was or is. It certainly defies the testimony of Scripture, in which St. Mary had other children, at the very least St. James, whom St. Paul calls, “our Lord’s brother”. In any event, the sexual history of Jesus’s mother hardly matters to who Jesus was or is; it’s more a residue of a genetic theory of original sin than anything else (and probably was originally conceived, no pun intended, to counter claims that Jesus was the result of Mary being raped by a Roman soldier). I don’t have any problem with it being a part of our collective profession; I also do not hold to it as a doctrine, and when speaking the collective confession, I remain silent on that line.

The ongoing demands for doctrinal conformity is just far too dangerous a road down which to travel. We have no business on that road, not least because ours is a Church that understand history. That history is just too bloody, in the name of orthodox conformity, for me to believe any good can come from it. Enforcing doctrinal conformity not only raises an idol at the Altar of God; it violates the spirit of grace that is at the heart of our unique Wesleyan approach to the faith. Considering Wesley’s doctrine of Christian Perfection was considered heretical both in his own time, and by many in our own, it would seem far more humble to be gracious and humble rather than strident and triumphant on such matters.

Enter In Prayer, Stay In Prayer, Leave In Prayer

Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
the beautiful, the beautiful river;
gather with the saints at the river
that flows by the throne of God. – Refrain, “Shall We Gather At The River”, Robert Lowry

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My church, Christ UMC, Rockford, IL. That is Rev. Scott Himel leading worship

My church, Christ UMC, Rockford, IL. That is Rev. Scott Himel leading worship

It is Sunday morning. Millions of Christians around the world have or will gather together this morning to give praise and honor and glory to our God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We shall confess our sins. We shall sing our praises. We shall offer our prayers. We shall gather around the table The LORD sets for us, remembering and hoping that this gathering has been and will be our final gathering place. We shall hear the Word read and proclaimed, the Good News offered to us. We shall hear the commandment to share that Good News in and through our words and lives with the whole world.

It is Sunday morning. It is the time to worship.

For all the nonsense, not only in the United Methodist Church but in all churches however they call themselves, this is the day and the hour we gather before God to sing and pray and be renewed by our God of eternal life. All our strife and name-calling. All the carrying on, the myriad ways division and discord are sewed, threats of schism and denunciations as heretics for this or that ridiculous reason gets set aside as the people of God in all our glorious diversity of languages, traditions, doctrines, and worship styles will allow the Spirit to intercede for us, taking our fumbling words and half-hearted confessions and offerings and make of them something holy, something worthy, acceptable to the Father in the Son.

St. Catherine's Church, Moscow

St. Catherine’s Church, Moscow

One church might have people sitting quietly. Another might feature rousing choruses, people standing and clapping and shouting for joy. Still another might have people move from seated to kneeling to standing. Of course the Russian Orthodox Church continues the ancient tradition of people standing in worship (and please not that gorgeous altar in the photo). The reality of diverse worship styles should humble our need to insist on particular ways in which we as the gathered people of God sing, pray, hear, taste, and confess our lives. Our Sunday realities belie whatever demands we make of others the rest of the week.

We all get so caught up in our own little agendas, I think we forget that the true test of whatever we offer others is how well our words match up to what others are really doing in the real world. I don’t just mean ethical controversies about sex, say, or deep doctrinal differences such as those between the East and West or Protestant and Roman. Even those temptests in tea-pots like whether or not to clap in worship; whether shouting acclamation during sermons is acceptable; whether we dress in suit and tie or shorts and a t-shirt. The reality is these are all part of the worshiping life of Christians around the world, and as we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, on this day most especially, grace should be our first response to those in our midst who might look or act in ways different from “the way we’ve always done it”.

Most of all, Sunday should be the day we set to one side the ridiculous shouting about who’s right and who’s wrong; who’s a heretic and who’s orthodox (however that word is defined); who is really a Christian and who’s just going through the motions. If the doctrine of original sin has any meaning at all; if the need for salvation is as real as we claim it to be; if the reality of constant confession and the intercession of the Spirit even in our holiest of moments is necessary; perhaps we should be just a bit less strident, at least on this day, even to those whose ideas about some things strike us as funny:

englishbibleRight or wrong, these no less than we are children of God, beloved and embraced. Is anyone willing to say that even these blessed Baptist believers exist outside the bounds of the Christian faith? Just how sure are any of us, on this day when we confess our sins; confess our need always for God’s presence; accept the just Word that our sins should require our death but that God has chosen life for us; just how sure are we that the Spirit isn’t hovering over those waters of chaos, that Christ isn’t present because two or three are gathered in the name of the Crucified and Risen One?

In the bulletins in my home church as a child, “Enter In Prayer. Stay In Prayer. Leave In Prayer” appeared just before the announcement of the Prelude. Few things have been as formative for my faith and worship life as those nine words. It is time to worship, to gather before our God to give honor and glory and praise; to confess our inability so to come based on any merit we have; to be thankful for the grace offered to us in Word, at the Table, and in the Water of our Baptisms. In all the ways we are so different, we are all the same. Let us now worship our God.

Orthodoxy? Not Really

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Prof. Timothy Tennent from Asbury Theological Seminary shared some thoughts:

What we actually have is a group (however imperfectly) which is committed to historic Christianity. The second group (however imperfectly) is committed to a re-imagined church. One, however flawed, is committed to the recovery and defense of historic Christian orthodoxy. The other, however nice and erudite, has not demonstrated a robust commitment to historic Christian orthodoxy. Thus, we actually have two groups; one orthodox and one heterodox. I will be the first to concede that even orthodoxy in North America has become so weak and bland that is has become hardly recognizable. Likewise, I believe that many in the heterodox camp are driven by important “branches” of the gospel, even if they have lost touch with the Christian “root.” But, this should not confuse the deeper point I am trying to make.

I dearly love this paragraph.  The orthodox aren’t as orthodox as they should be; the heterodox are orthodox in a lot of ways.  That doesn’t really matter because at least the orthodox don’t want gay people sullying our churches.

The orthodox group stands with the Apostles, the prophets, the martyrs and the biblical witness as revealed in Scripture. The orthodox have the whole of the church throughout the ages standing with them. The orthodox are contending for the faith “once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). The heterodox come and go with every generation. They rise up, make a big noise, cause a huge stir, and tell the church that we are no longer “relevant.” However, in just one generation the faith of the heterodox has withered away until the next challenge comes. We are now over 2,000 years into the Christian proclamation. The orthodox message is still here. In fact, from a global perspective, it is alive and well. It is robust and flourishing. The heterodox are sweeping in for another assault. We’ve endured the gnostics, the Arians, the Marcionites, the Montanists, the Pelagians, the Manicheans, the neo-liberals, the “prosperity” gospel, and the populistic reductionists, to name a few. But, take heart, in a generation this group will be long gone and orthodoxy will still be preaching the gospel, baptizing new believers, believing the Bible, worshipping the Triune God, planting new churches and looking for the return of Christ. So, be encouraged: Do not lose heart. Keep the faith. Keep Loving. Remember the Gospel. Preach the Word. This present storm will pass and the gospel will prevail.

Now this is a thing of beauty.  “Orthodoxy” is not “a thing” that has persisted over the Christian millennia.  It has changed constantly; just ask Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, Jan Hus, John Wesley, Peter Waldo to name a few.  As for what “the orthodox” have stood for over the centuries – butchering men and women indiscriminately; burning people at the stake who thought differently than they did; chasing the Jews of Jerusalem in to the synagogue, blocking the doors, then burning them alive; torture; burning or hanging women who were accused of “witchcraft”; the Roman Catholic branch of “orthodoxy”, just over a century ago, denounced as “heterodox”, among other thing: democracy, “Americanism”, and freedom of religion.  The church supported slavery for nearly 2,000 years as a natural state for some people.  I could go on, but I hope you understand the point here.  Standing with “the orthodox” on any particular moral issue creates all sorts of far more troublesome moral issues, unless you are willing to face them.

Furthermore, when has support of gay marriage ever in the history of the church been a test of orthodoxy?  Indeed, when has any particular moral issue ever been a test of “orthodoxy”?  Holding the centrality of the Gospel story as our story – the story of God’s infinite, prodigal, intra-Trinitarian love overflowing to create an Other than God that would exist solely to give God praise; the broken, sinful creation saved from death understood as separation from God redeemed in the death and resurrection of Christ; the hoped-for consummation of the New Creation when all – in heaven, on earth, and under the earth – shall kneel and give this loving God the Glory.  That is orthodoxy.

Gay marriage?  Not so much.  Taking a stand on orthodoxy that includes gay marriage is kinda-sorta not understanding what “orthodoxy” means.  Except, of course, as code, as I wrote, for not sullying our churches with gay people who think they can be Christians.

Finally, I would add Matthew 25 to the whole discussion.  Central to the teachings of Jesus was not “orthodoxy” as a bunch of stuff we say and think.  It is how we live in love toward others.  Have we welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, visited the prisoner, fed the hungry?  Then, we are orthodox.  Marriage, one way or another, just doesn’t enter in to it.  Furthermore, I would contend that an expansive “orthodoxy” that includes jettisoning forced rape and marriage, which has Biblical roots as deep as hatred of sexual minorities; that opens our pulpits and the episcopacy to women, despite clear Biblical injunctions against it; such an expansive orthodoxy should have room enough to welcome our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans brothers and sisters as full participants in the life of the church.  I mean, compared to celebrating the near-destruction of the Jewish population of Jerusalem during the Crusades, it seems to me, if that is indeed “heterodox”, I might be willing to go there a lot quicker than holding on to a tradition that is glossed over too quickly, without care or a willingness to see how much blood drips from the word “orthodox”.