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Orthopraxis



Orthopraxis is the theological term for ''correct practice.''

Correct practice required of anyone who would be regarded as a Christian.
- Source: A Biblical Guide To Orthodoxy And Heresy, Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, by Robert M. Bowman.

Christian orthodoxy leads to orthopraxis. Unsound theology, however, leads to unsound practices (aberrant behavior).

A church or movement that persists in unsound practice - all or not supported by unbiblical and/or extra-biblical teachings - may be (or may eventually turn into) a cult of Christianity.

Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk

The Bible teaches that Christians should not just 'talk the talk,' but also 'walk the walk.' While a person can not achieve salvation by doing good works, the Bible shows that good works are evidence of salvation:

Christians are saved by grace and not by works:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, {2} in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. {3} All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. {4} But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, {5} made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. {6} And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, {7} in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. {8} For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- {9} not by works, so that no one can boast. {10} For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
- Source: Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV

Salvation is then evidenced by good works (deeds):

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? {15} Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. {16} If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? {17} In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. {18} But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. {19} You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. {20} You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? {21} Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? {22} You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. {23} And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. {24} You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
- Source: James 2:14-24 NIV

Origin

The term “orthopraxis” was introduced into Christian theology by liberation theologians in the 1960s. It was meant as a corrective to an orthodoxy that affirmed all the right things about God and yet was complacent about (or worse, complicit in) systemic injustice and oppression.

“Praxis” denotes a way of relating theory and practice. It seeks to avoid both unreflective practice and theory that does not lead to transformative action in the world. Instead, praxis involves an ongoing critical reflection on practice that leads to the revision of theory, even as theory serves to direct practice. What makes praxis “ortho” is its consistency with the understandings and imperatives of Christian faith.

Liberation theology is informed by social theory that discloses the nature of systemic injustice. “Orthopraxis” is then focused on socioeconomic change on behalf of the oppressed. But the term can take on wider meaning. It can refer to Christian discipleship more broadly, and raises the question of how our actions as Christians are or are not consistent with the faith we profess. It is in this wider sense that we can speak of “orthopraxis” in Wesley’s theology.
- Source: Consider Wesley, Catalyst Online

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This post was last updated: Jan. 30, 2007