Personal Online Journal

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Orthopraxy over Orthodoxy

It is aha moments like I found reading this comment by Seth R. that I love the bloggernacle, and evangelical-mormon blogs.

I think the reason for the “it’s not doctrine” line is that you’ve got Mormons who spend a lot of time wrestling with the formalized theology and dealing with its criticisms. Then you have all the other everyday church-going Mormons who don’t go in much for theological inquiry and frankly, don’t care much. The latter are far and away the majority in the LDS Church, and in most any other church, I would argue.

The question is how you deal with that divide.

In Protestantism, which emphasizes orthodoxy first and foremost, the solution is to put the thinking class in the leadership posts and charge them with bringing everyone else up to speed theologically.

In Mormonism, which de-emphasizes orthodoxy and instead pushes orthopraxy (”right practice”), the solution is to place the academically average LDS member in positions of leadership – even all the way to the top. The theologians are not put in charge, but are rather shunted off to a limited corner of Mormon life. A Mormon will typically almost always emphasize personal spiritual life over theological training as desirable qualities in a minister.

I think this approach is probably the main reason that Mormons can be so careless and unconcerned about the philosophical integrity of their religion. It’s also why it’s taking so freaking long to get Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph F. Smith out of our system, and why it took so long to get Brigham Young out of the system earlier.

You get someone with a strong vision of Mormonism, like those men, and if it’s serviceable in the day-to-day worship life of the average LDS, the thinking is – why not use them? Even when the theologically trained Mormons point out some problems with the paradigm, it still remains useful for most Mormons, and there just isn’t much sense of urgency about changing it. After all, the main concern is with ethical and spiritual living. Debatably, you don’t need a perfect theology for that.

Mormon theologians, on the other hand, recognize this emphasis within Mormon life and they don’t want to “kick over the beehive” just to make an esoteric theological argument. Building Zion comes first for Mormons – whether you are theologically minded or not. We’re not going to sabotage that just to score theological points.

I had never heard of Orthopraxy before. I also believe that "right practice" is much more important than having the "right opinion". I include in right practice my belief that Jesus Christ is my savior.

1 comment:

my mudda' calls me jack said...

That is very interesting... thanks rich.