I think I’m getting dumber. No, not think, I know I’m getting dumber. Anyway, to combat that, I’ve been trying to read more significant books. Started with The Prince by Macchiavelli. Interesting, somewhat disturbing, and, in my opinion, fairly irrelevant to modern life.
Recently I started reading A History Of Christian Theology: An Introduction, by William Placher. Definitely not an evangelical Christian book, but it’s utterly fascinating.
He brings up one really interesting point about orthodoxy. You mention orthodoxy nowadays and people generally react negatively, conjuring images of close-minded, intolerant bigots. With the current fad of pluralism, people popularly bemoan how the Christian church silenced competing ideas outside the mainstream. Like the DaVinci Code is big on how the Gnostics were unfairly alienated by the Christian church. The general idea is, a plurality of ideas is good, orthodoxy is bad.
The interesting point the book makes is, far from being a bad thing, orthodoxy is necessary for any idea (religious and otherwise) to survive. Unless one makes the effort to define what is and what isn’t orthodox, the idea will cease to exist. Like, say some random group of people decide that in basketball, instead of dribbling the ball, they can kick the ball. And instead of having a hoop, they’ll have a big soccer goal. If no effort is made to say, no that’s not basketball, and define what basketball really is, and everyone starts playing “basketball” their own way, then what is basketball? By failing to draw boundaries and define common rules, “basketball” ceases to exist as a useful concept.
So pluralists don’t seem to realize is that unless Christianity defined what it was, it would have ceased to exist as anything real (or maybe that’s their point). And defining something necessarily involves excluding competing ideas. It’s simply a logical necessity and can’t possibly be considered bad. We can argue about what the definitions are, but the existence of lines is a logical requirement of basically every concept in life, so criticizing “orthodoxy”, which seeks to define those lines, is logically ridiculous.
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