What is orthodoxy and how important is it to ECs?

For me, this discussion brings up a few questions:

What or who defines whether a doctrine is orthodox or not?

How crucial is it to have orthodox opinions of God and scripture? Or in other words, does having unorthodox doctrine make one un-Christian on some level?

Do you think evolutionary creation is orthodox?

(And mods, if you think this is more appropriate as a separate thread, feel free to split it out.)

That would depend on who is doing the judging. I imagine God and people would probably come down in different places and we would be surprised at the differences.

There is also a difference between unorthodox and heterodox.

Unorthodox theology directly contradicts an orthodox doctrine.

Heterodox theology is different from traditional orthodoxy in some way, but not to a degree that is considered heretical or diametrically opposed to orthodoxy.

Evolutionary creationism by itself is not a Christian doctrine. People who embrace evolutionary creationism may or may not have heterodox (or even unorthodox) beliefs about various Christian doctrines like the doctrine of creation, the doctrine of divine providence, the doctrine of humanity, the doctrine of Imago Dei, the doctrine of original sin, the doctrine of the atonement, the doctrine of inspiration, the doctrine of perspicuity of Scripture. But I think it is possible to maintain an evolutionary creationist position within a completely orthodox framework.


What defines orthodoxy and unorthodoxy is dependent on the person. The Christian Church has debated this issue for ages and the issue seems to never stop.

To me, (and this is my personal bias belief) true Biblical orthodoxy is promoted within Protestantism though it has its own shades of color and views of how it works, but the main basics of the Protestant doctrine (which is Biblical doctrine); that is: salvation by grace through faith alone, salvation made in Christ alone, Scripture alone for our understanding of who and what God is and the goal of salvation, and glory to God alone (not angels or saints but honor to those saints and hero’s of the past is okay, yesterday was All Saint’s Day by the way)
Of course, other than Protestant doctrine, the other doctrine that make one a orthodox Biblical Christian are: the belief in the Triune nature of God-one God in three persons. The humanity and divinity of Christ, His suffering and death as payment for sins, His resurrection from the dead and His soon return to judge the living and the dead*.
(*I am lineant on the issue of the end times and am willing to accept people who see the judgement as when a person dies and meets Jesus so don’t fret my Full Preterist/Realized Eschatology friends :slight_smile: )


Quadruple AMEN to that! I think this is the case to the point where it practically little more than an imaginary standard. I think little more than the doctrine of the Trinity defines the religion of Christianity theologically – and that is little more than the definition of a human word for a religion distinguished from other religions. Beyond that the most important issue is the tricky one of balancing grace, faith and works – definitely pretty heated and complicated. The eschatology issues are nothing but a lot pure nonsense as far as I am concerned – I have no interest in them at all.

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I think it is best to hope of agreement only on the basics, the bare minimum, and embrace as brothers and sisters in Christ those who accept the basics whether or not they agree on other doctrines and positions.

I consider the Apostles’ Creed to encapsulate the basics, and I recognize that there is leeway in the interpretation of that creed.

Many splits and ardent disagreement occur over unimportant things.

For instance, if “one God in three persons” were an essential belief, shouldn’t it be found in the Bible somewhere (not just teased out or imagined as an interpretation)?

Shouldn’t a belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt, and a recognition that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, be sufficient?

Why insist on calling them “persons?”

Amen to that!

Essential for what is the question!

For salvation? Even the idea that salvation requires believing the right things is utter bogus.

To distinguish Christianity as a religion from other religions like Islam? Yes. Can you show me a way of doing this in any other way than the doctrine of the Trinity? Notice that I do take exception to the use of the word “Triune” which is not in the Bible or in the creeds agreed to by the early ecumenical councils.

Sufficient for “orthodoxy”? Absolutely!

That is the doctrine of the Trinity – to make it clear that this is the ONLY way in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate and distinct – as persons.

How about the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

A Messiah that did not try to build an earthly, material kingdom?

A leader who did not gather a group of women (and, in the case of Islam, girls) for his own pleasure?

Resurrected religious figures are not that uncommon: Attis, Quetzalcoatl, Krishna, Tammuz, Lemminkainen, Ganesha, Odin, and Osiris.

And yes there are plenty who fit your other requirements too like Buddha.

But even defining Christianity by the person of Jesus alone doesn’t work because other religions believe in Jesus also and even call Him messiah.

Then perhaps it is just a false goal to try to differentiate Christianity from other religions using characteristics, as a false religion can match any claim.

Either way, trying to define God past what is revealed in scripture seems both arrogant and inappropriate.

Perhaps it is best just to let others see Jesus through us and follow His instructions that we love one another.

John 13:34-36 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Differentiation and the definition of words is essential for human communication without which there is no point whatsoever in a discussion forum.

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I see the term “orthodox” as another way of saying “what most Christians believe.”

I don’t want to say that the opinions of my brothers and sisters are not important, or that I should not in some way be tied back to the traditions of the church, but I have some convictions that are in tension with what most Christians believe, most notably my unipersonal view of God, and now in recent years, a view of creation and Genesis that allow for evolution.

Certainly there are core beliefs of Christianity. Your list may be longer than mine, but for starters, here is my list:

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

End of list.

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But if Jesus wasn’t God, what did it accomplish?

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I certainly agree that the definitions of words are important.

For example, some people think not taking an affirming position on a “triune” God is disagreeing with the deity of Christ. That thinking comes from not following the standard definitions we all need to communicate.

And some read the doctrine of the Trinity into the Apostles’ Creed. That thinking comes from abandoning the promulgated (by church council) definition of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Others have a definition of Bible that reads “Word of God,” yet I have not seen that definition in a respected dictionary.

If we make up our own definitions, there are sinkholes and quicksand pocketing the common ground for discussion.

It accomplished nothing less than a hugely significant and pivotal moment in God’s plan for the redemption of humankind and the entire cosmos.

If Christ is the human mediator between God and humans, and the perfect lamb, so to speak, then his sacrifice should be sufficient to cover for our sins.

Is there a biblical requirement that God himself must die in order for this atonement to take place?

And how does that work? Certainly God can’t die, right? Or would you say 1/3 of God died? Or would you say only the human nature of Jesus died, but not the divine nature?

Yes, that is my understanding. Because humanity was incapable of reconciling themselves to God because no one is righteous.

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So perhaps I can bridge this by saying we are 100% in agreement that Jesus was righteous. And it is reasonable to say that is a clear biblical claim.

It is a clear biblical claim that Jesus was righteous. It’s also a clear biblical claim that Jesus was God. To claim Jesus was just an especially good human with especially good teaching is to deny one of the most central claims of the Christian gospel. When they early church claimed “Jesus is Lord,” it was an assertion of his divinity. You would not be the first person to think Jesus was just an especially good human with especially good teaching who died sacrificially, but that isn’t Christianity.


This is a case where I agree with the conclusions but disagree with the argument.
I believe Jesus is God, and in particular God become man and not man become God.
But the argument that salvation requires some kind of magical power derived from a divine sacrifice is something I very much disagree with. In fact there is a list of weird claims behind this argument that Jesus has to be God in order for the atonement to “work.” I reject them all as totally insane!

  1. An innocent person can pay for the crimes of the guilty. CRAZY IRRATIONAL AND IMMORAL!
  2. God cannot forgive people without some kind of blood sacrifice. DEMONIC!
  3. The value of a punishment depends on the value of the person punished! MEDIEVAL!
  4. The value of a crime depends on the value of the person wronged! CLASSICIST HOGWASH!

AND PLEASE do not quote the Bible at me in support of this garbage. I am well aware of what the Bible says and I affirm all of it. I just do not think it means any of these four things above. But I guess the key point is that there are several metaphors in the Bible for understanding the atonement and making this one legal metaphor literal is not rational. So instead I will say…

  1. The innocent pay for the crimes of the guilty all the time… i.e. they suffer the consequences and the fact that they do is often what it takes to make people change. So Jesus paying for our sins is also a metaphor just like when we say that our soldiers pay the price for our freedom. Taking this literally is just stupid.
  2. God can, of course, forgive people easily but that doesn’t mean He should because it is well known that cheap forgiveness is the worst thing you can do for your children, teaching them that their actions have no consequences.
  3. The most important value of punishment derives from how well it helps people to change. Even the second value of punishment as deterrence is dubious.
  4. The only thing that might vary the “value” of a crime are mitigating factors having to do with what the victim may have done to incite the crime against them. To be sure there are no mitigating factors when it comes to God. But this is true of many victims, who did no more to incite the crime against them than God did.
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