Q. Do you think that your theology is “orthodox”?
A. Yes, I do!
The word orthodoxy was a word that I rarely, if ever, heard while growing up in churches within the classical Pentecostal denominations. In that tradition, the emphasis was always placed upon the power and manifestation of the Holy Spirit over and above the correctness of theology or Biblical doctrine. Orthodoxy and all that it entails became a big part of my consciousness during my Bible College years because of the theological courses that I had to take, but it didn’t really become so personally important to me until recently.
The dictionary defines orthodoxy as the quality of being orthodox (especially in religion) a belief or orientation agreeing with conventional standards. The word is from the Greek ortho ('right', 'correct') and doxa('thought', 'teaching', 'glorification'), and is typically used to refer to the correct theological or doctrinal observance of religion, as determined by some overseeing body; those beliefs which reflect the faith of the whole Church since the time of the apostles; a term used in a number of senses, of which the following are the most important: (1) Orthodoxy in the literal sense of 'right belief,' as opposed to heresy; (2) Orthodoxy in the sense of the forms of Christianity which are dominant in the East.
At the time of this writing I am currently authoring another book under the working title THE CREED: Finding a “Now” Word Within Ancient Christian Orthodoxy, and in it I will be examining the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and other historical and foundational Christian statements of faith, and their relevance to our ministry. The more research that I do, the more confirmation I receive that the message that we preach at CITN is organic, original and orthodox Christianity…the Gospel of the Kingdom. The actual, original Gospel is preached so rarely these days in the mainstream churches, that when it is presented in a simple, straightforward manner, many people who think that they are orthodox in their beliefs, actually believe that what we preach is unorthodox!
In recent years I have particularly developed a greater appreciation for the Apostles’ Creed, which is accepted by both the Roman Catholic and Protestant Church (the Greek Orthodox Church favors the nearly identical Nicene Creed) as an official confession of Christianity. In both creeds (and this is true for all the other ancient Christian creeds) there is nothing mentioned about the devil, or a “rapture”, or a “tribulation period”, or about Israel becoming a nation in 1948, or anything about hell and eternal damnation. The older Roman Catholic version of the Apostles’ Creed used to contain the phrase “He descended to hell”, but the Modern English Version uses the more Biblically accurate phrase “He descended to the dead”, because true Hebrew and Greek scholars cannot deny anymore that the Hebrew “sheol”, and the Greek “hades” should never have been interpreted as “hell”, because they simply mean the grave, or more specifically, “the unseen”.
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
(Modern English Version)
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again;
He ascended to heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
This creed is what I believe and preach. The only revision that I would make to it would be to replace the phrase “God’s only Son” with “God’s firstborn Son” because of Romans 8:29: For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the FIRSTBORN among many brothers and sisters.(TNIV)
And I would also point out that the word catholic (lower case), simply means the Church Universal, the Body of Christ. This term is not to be confused with Roman Catholicism, but is accepted by Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. Webster defines “catholic” as “broad-minded, as in belief or tastes; liberal; comprehensive; large; universal in reach; general.”
I love the Church of Jesus Christ with my whole heart, and I respect its ancient traditions. Jesus said that He would build His church, and that the gates of hades, or the unseen, could not prevail against it. In other words, death or anything from the unseen realm (including the mysterious force of religion) can not ever overpower the life-giving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, Who was crucified, buried and resurrected, and is the Head of the Church, the Lord of the Universe, and the Savior of all people, especially those who believe. So, to answer…yes, I do…and that is why I embrace true, Christian orthodoxy!