I’m thinking a lot right now about (small-o) orthodoxy and creedal Christianity. Perhaps it has always been this way, but it seems a like orthodoxy — real orthodoxy (i.e., affirming the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds to the fullest possible extent) — is out of fashion. Not just with the progressive branch of American Christianity either. I mean across the board.
Today I listened to last week’s Holy Post podcast where Skye Jethani interviewed Russell Moore, the president of the ERLC within the Southern Baptist Convention. When asked what he thought posed the biggest threat to the gospel in America right now, without hesitation, he said “useful Christianity.” In other words, means-to-an-end Christianity. Christianity adhered to for political and cultural power.
Without a doubt, he was speaking to his own camp. We just witnessed plenty of this nonsense over the last (at least) four years with the rise of Donald Trump and the consistent support of Trumpism within the Republican party by those who identify as Evangelicals. Moore was speaking to and about his own camp, calling out error in his own theological family.
But the truth is, this is a problem everywhere. It’s the same exact problem on the American theological left, where we cannot imagine a scenario where Christianity might mean more than social justice. Social justice certainly must be an outworking of Christian faith.. But we on the progressive side (I’d consider myself a blue-ish purple if I had to name it) are hesitant to affirm theological truth that butts up against our scientific and progressive and modern sensibilities. We’re also hesitant to affirm the parts of Scripture and tradition that make us squeamish because of the modern moral compass we have been handed.
This is what I mean when I say I’m thinking about orthodoxy. It’s not fun for anyone. No one likes the implications of it. Following Christ is either too hard for our brains, or it’s too hard for our hearts.
Perhaps we need a renewal. Or, dare I say, a REVIVAL — of a new people, ready to believe what it is that the Master Jesus says, and also DO what that might require of us.
That’s awful Pentecostal of me, and a little bit scary for me to write.