Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Orthopraxy


Orthopraxy is a term derived from Greek (ὀρθοπραξις) meaning "correct action/activity", and is found in "religions" or "faiths" that place emphasis on conduct, both ethical and liturgical, as opposed to faith or grace etc. In other words, the benefit sought by the adherent is derived from the correct act or acts required by the rules of the adherents religion. An example of orthopraxy would be the Jews careful practice of tithing. They were to tithe everything that they had including fruit, crops, wheat, wine, vegetables, herbs/spices, and animals. 

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." (Matthew 23:23) 

The reason Jesus rebuked the Pharisees was not because they did wrong activity, but because they believed that doing that activity correctly would justify them or benefit them. They missed the point or principle inherent in the command to tithe herbs and spices and turned faith and trust into a self righteous work. No work that we can perform can ever justify us before God. Jesus said that they were to do the work, tithe the mint and anise, but not at the expense of God's method of justifying, His mercy and the operation of faith. It is a heart breaking fact that so many people around this world are meticously performing actions believing that they will receive benefit and blessing from the accurate performance of those actions. 

Orthopraxy contrasts with orthodoxy, emphasizing a correct belief. It is crucial to build correct practices from correct or biblical doctrine. It is not enough to attempt to do something "right or correct" if motives, principles or context is wrong. We must understand the principles behind the activity in order to exercise faith in God who justifies by his grace.

The dual danger facing sincere people who desire benefit and blessing are equally dangerous and deceptive. One can do various activities perfectly or one can believe the right teaching or doctrine and still miss out on an eternity with God. God has given us the right "thing" to do and to 'believe."

"Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house."  (Acts 16:30-31, ESV)

2010 A-Z Challenge:  O is for "Only"
2011 A-Z Challenge:  O is for Orthopraxy


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Love this Gregg, a word I knew the meaning of, excellently written.

Have a good day.

Wanda said...

Great commentary. Doing the right things for the wrong reasons still leaves us in the wrong.

Seams Inspired said...

Great post, Gregg! When you've grown up in a church that practiced orthopraxy, it takes years to un-do that mindset. I'm grateful for my salvation and that my eyes were opened. Happy Monday! :o)

Darlene said...

Great post. I haven't heard of the word, but I have seen it practiced a lot! Thank God, our salvation comes through grace and not works.

Brianna said...

Raised in a religion that does emphasize rules and correct actions, this post spoke to me!
Thank you Gregg!

Marinela Reka said...

Love this Gregg, Great post!
You have lovely blog! Love it!
Take care
Short Poems

Cathy M. said...

Can orthopraxy also have a positive connotation? Can't it also describe the acceptable fruits of our salvation which manifest in good works? I always just thought of it as the stuff we Christians do, while orthodoxy was the stuff we believe.

Robyn Campbell said...

Great day in the morning. I've never heard of this word and here I thought I knew all the words in the dictionary.

I'm so very thankful that I am filled with God's grace. Thank you for this post, Gregg. :-)

Penned Pebbles said...

Very interesting! You're a good teacher. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

I'd heard of othodoxy, of course, but not this term. I really enjoy learning new words. Thanks for the explanations and illustrations, as well.

Anonymous said...

I've witnessed and no doubt have unknowingly practiced orthopraxy at times, especially performing church work. I didn't know it had a name? Now I do :-)

Trisha said...

Hmm, I always thought our orthopraxy should line up with our orthodoxy. I didn't know it was a negative term. Now I need to go study this one more. :)