Heresy and Orthodoxy

I’ve been thinking about something all day long…

G.K. Chesterton once expressed that in his attempt to be theologically original, to stand alone apart from the rest of civilized religion, he realized that he actually stood with all of Christendom, that he had “only succeeded in inventing all by [himself] an inferior copy of the existing traditions of civilized religion.” He tried to “found a heresy of [his] own; and when [he] had put the last touches to it, [he] discovered that it was orthodoxy.”

This concept has stuck with me ever since I read it and as I think about today’s religious climate, and especially the state of Christianity within American protestantism, I see the truthfulness of such a sentiment to be ever present.

As I was studying the Gospel reading for this coming up Sunday (the 12th Sunday after Pentecost), Matthew 16:21-28, I came across another great thinker’s thoughts which caused me to pause as Chesterton’s wisdom pushed forward through the grey matter in my head.

Francis Schaeffer, in his book, True Spirituality, expounds on Luke’s parallel to my Matthew passage. He notes that Jesus provides an order to his coming substitutionary death – rejected, slain, raised – and then applies it to the Christian life, declaring that there is no other order with regards to true spirituality (a term he uses synonymously with “Christian life”). But the most profound idea, the thought that trapped me in my mind with “the master who left no masterpiece” (which is, by the way, a completely inaccurate title for the man who wrote Orthodoxy) comes next.

Frank writes,

“If we forget the absolute uniqueness of Christ’s death we are in heresy. As soon as we set aside or minimize, as soon as we cut down in any way, as the liberals of all kinds do in their theology, on the uniqueness and substitutionary character of Christ’s death, our teaching is no longer Christian.” He continues that likewise “if we forget the relationship of this order to us as Christians, then we have a sterile orthodoxy, and we have no true Christian life. Christian life will wither and die; spirituality in any true biblical sense will come to an end.”

What was on your mind today?

Photo © 2014 Tyrel Bramwell

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