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The New Orthodoxy

Thomas Whitley

I have previously written about the heresy/orthodoxy dichotomy here, here, and here. There are many so-called and often self-professed "progressive Christians." Often these people are "young," but not always. This group tends to see the world and their religion through a different lens than other Christians, namely the (more) conservative background from which many of them come. I in large part support this movement within Christianity because I often identify with this group and I believe that many of its adherents are sincere in their care for others and their desire to be open to other perspectives.

It has become apparent to me, though, that there is a "new orthodoxy" emerging, or better yet, "new orthodoxies," in American Christianity. For you see, each camp has its own orthodoxy, be it the fundamentalists, the progressives, the reformed, the neo-reformed, the moderates, etc. These things tend to move in cycles, much like worship music styles. That is, the "younger" generation questions the traditions/music/beliefs of the "older" generation and stirs things up. They then eventually become the "older" generation that will then be questioned by a new, younger generation. The specific traditions change, but the reality of stubborn traditions will always remain.

My point is this: no matter how "progressive" your movement is, it is not immune to settling in to a rut and refusing to move, change course, or entertain a different perspective. Let those of us who have pushed so hard against being told how to believe and what to believe not become those people for others. Let us not push our own "orthodoxy" on others because that is all it is, our version of orthodoxy.

Remaining open to different views becomes exponentially more difficult the more set we become in our own perspective, but we must not forget the freedom we experienced when we began to question and see things anew. Just because we are comfortable with our current beliefs, views, etc. does not mean we should stop questioning.

We should start running when anyone speaks of something as nonsensical as "progressive orthodoxy." Besides the fact that it is an oxymoron, it portends a group that is stifling, close-minded, and set in their ways. Nothing good can come of it.

Simply put, those of us who desire so deeply to change the course of Christianity by being about love, reconciliation, and acceptance cannot afford to become the new orthodoxy.