“Orthodoxy,” by Andrew Schatkin

Some years ago, the English writer G.K. Chesterton wrote a little book called Orthodoxy in which he traced his journey to what he referred to the Orthodox Christian faith. I would like to talk a bit here about “orthodoxy” in the context of what it means to be a Christian in today’s world.

In the world today, orthodoxy is a bad word for many people, because it implies absolute truth, definitive truth claims, and a whole host of tenets with which the modern politically correct world is uncomfortable. For many Christians today, ever since the enlightenment in the 18th century the Orthodox Christian faith has been “watered down.” For many Christians the confusion is so great that they are willing to believe that some sort of generalized love and tolerance constitute Christian religious belief. That stance in my opinion is misconceived and incorrect. For that reason I would like to say a few words about orthodoxy or the deposit of faith.

Orthodoxy or he Orthodox Christian belief system, for a starting point, presumes a number of principles. The first one is the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient creator God, living apart from nature. The second principle is he idea that there is another world beyond our present material world. The third principle is that God created the world and mankind, and did so out of his love and his desire to share his Being with men and women, his created children. The fourth principle is that God reveals himself initially in the Hebrew Bible through a series of historical events, including the handing down of the Ten Commandment on Mount Sinai, his covenant with the Jewish people (which is still in force today) his further revelation in the word of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible, and other historical events that are too numerous to delineate. The fifth principle of Christian Orthodoxy is that the Bible is the revealed word of God and at least one of the ways in which we come to know and understand
God.

The are other principles in connection with Christian Orthodoxy including God’s revelation in Jesus of Nazareth, the virgin birth, the miracles in the New Testament, Jesus’ death for our sins on the cross, his resurrection from the dead and his ascension into heaven. The sixth important principle of Christian Orthodoxy is that the sacrifice of Christ was necessary on the cross to rescue people from sin and possible destruction, and, in a word, to repair our broken relationship with God the creator.

The seventh principle of Christian Orthodoxy is that God exists in three-fold form, being one substance and three persons the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, The eighth tenet of Christian Orthodoxy is that by faith in Jesus we may obtain eternal life. There are other principles of Christian Orthodoxy including the sacraments such as Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper by which we may obtain relationship with God and Christ and come to know God and Christ.

The ninth principle of Christian orthodoxy is that Jesus will return again to judge mankind some to eternal destruction in hell and some to eternal life in heaven with him and in this process with establish new cosmic order.

This is a brief summary of what I believe in the Orthodox Christian faith. I am not an astute theologian, not terribly sophisticated in this area of thinking, but this much is clear: that the Christian dogmatic system is far more than a few loving words of encouragement, or some sort of politically-correct tolerance in which the world tries to convince us that everybody and everything is okay. It is quite clear that things are not okay and the fact of the matter that things are really very bad. Without laws, even in civilized Western countries such as the United States and the European countries, human nature, unloose, would create an intolerable situation. In countries without laws where strongmen rule such as in Africa and Asia, life is basically impossible and everyone suffers.

Human beings far from being pleasant and nice, given the slightest smidgen of power are a brutal and intolerable with respect to those whom they may perceive as under them. The simple fact of the matter is that the Christian dogmatic system posits a certain number of truth principles and make a claim that we may choose to accept or reject at our peril.

I feel that the modern world’s shallow facile position that things are getting better and that people are really very nice are not true based on my experience; the Christian dogmatic system or Orthodoxy provides an explanation beyond the expectation and position of the modern that human nature is quite all right and needs no fixing, repair, and change. In fact the world is a jungle in which the strong survive and the weak fall by the wayside and die. Christian Orthodoxy provides an explanation for the present human predicament and that explanation I submit in this little essay is far more reasonable than political correctness.

At the present time the thought system of the world I think it is fair to say very shallow. For many people, materialism is as far as they wish to go as establishing any life principles or having any thoughts beyond themselves. I find materialism unsatisfying and I do believe that that anybody who adopts materialism as the answer is poverty-stricken in imagination and intellect.

For all its faults and failings, Orthodox is the answer. It is clear that the world has been and always will be a mess at the hands of untrammeled human nature. Jesus provides a way out and offers an alternative to our collective predicament. If you could or can provide a better way of approaching and understanding the world, I am willing to listen, but at this point, nobody has thought up anything better or offered a better explanation with hope for the future. If anyone wishes to contact me and discuss what I say here please e-mail me at a.schatkin48@gmail.com.