Picking back up with my reading of Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, DeYoung discusses the position (if they so be so inclined to allow themselves to be boxed in) many emergent church leadership hold regarding orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
DeYoung points out that historically, Christians have been concerned about orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right living). However among the emergent movement there is a view that sees orthodoxy and orthopraxy as being one in the same.
DeYoung quotes Brian McLaren in an article from the July/August 2005 edition of Modern Reformation. When McLaren was asked what is orthodoxy and who gets to define it McLaren answered, “It’s a virtue, and it’s Christlikeness…. Orthodoxy itself is a practice…. So ethics comes first, then doctrine comes second, and witness flows out of that.”
Peter Rollins in his book, How (Not) To Speak of God writes:
Orthodoxy is not longer (mis)understood as the opposite of heresy but rather is understood as a term that signals a way of being in the world rather than a means of believing things about the world.
Can right living come before right belief? Is it even possible to live right without first having a right belief? I don’t think so, and we get some insight into this via the Apostle Paul.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, (Romans 12:1-2, ESV).
How are to know what is good and how to be a living sacrifice? Where can we know how not to be conformed to the world? The will of God. Before we can enter into non-conformity we first must have our minds renewed. Knowledge and belief come before action. I seek to live rightly because of what I know and believe about God. Belief does matter and always comes before any changes in how we live.