Letter

In This Issue

Eric Landry
Friday, September 5th 2008
Sep/Oct 2008

Orthodoxy has fallen out of favor among evangelicals. Among a growing number of younger evangelicals, the fight for orthodoxy is seen as a power play that attempts to overthrow community and diversity with certainty and authoritarianism. Among those of a different generation and ethos, orthodoxy is seen as a sort of supernatural baking powder that sucks all the Spirit-filled life out of the church and is to be abandoned so that we can just love Jesus. Underlying both concerns is a significant challenge to a Protestant point of view that considers how we act to be not only more important than what we believe, but also more fundamentally true than statements of belief. Beliefs aren't unimportant, of course, but they are situated differently in this scenario.

On the confessing evangelical side of the fence, orthodoxy has also gotten a raw deal. Orthodoxy has been neutered by nostalgia: the good ole' days (right or wrong) are the new vantage point from which beliefs and actions are judged. At the same time we're hankering for a golden age, we're also busy expanding the boundaries of the Faith's essence to include all those (primarily cultural) points of view we happen to hold. Is it any wonder confessional churches are becoming less confessional and more culturally situated?

What's a confessing evangelical to do? Reformed theologian and Editor-in-Chief Michael Horton goes to the heart of the matter by defining orthodoxy: both the boundaries of belief and the right to establish those boundaries to identify communities and traditions within larger movements of faith. But before you start shaking your head in agreement too hard, be sure to follow up with Presbyterian pastor and history professor T. David Gordon, who warns confessional Reformed folks especially about certain distractions from orthodoxy that have become established in our circles. These are sacred cows we would do well to smash because they have tamed orthodoxy, and Lutheran pastor John Bombaro argues that orthodoxy-by its very nature-is missional and bridges historical and social divides that always seem to be in danger of dividing the church. Peter Anders (Reformed, evangelical, and loving it) finishes up the issue by reevaluating the risk factor of orthodoxy for those who have become blind or apathetic collaborators with the dominant culture, and the real risk of persecution for those who choose to be faithful to Christian orthodoxy. Also in this issue, we're proud to feature a new interview with Methodist bishop (and former Duke University chaplain) Will Willimon, a frequent guest on the White Horse Inn and a sort of lonely voice in the wilderness warning evangelicals of the danger to which their present course might lead.

Can't get enough Modern Reformation? Make sure you get through this one quickly because an extra issue of the magazine is coming your way in a few short weeks. Just in time for the elections, a special seventh issue examining the Lutheran and Reformed doctrine of the two kingdoms and its implications on our civil society. This extra issue is a gift to you for your support of the mission and work of the magazine. Let us know how it challenges and stimulates your own election year thinking by dropping us a line at letters@modernreformation.org.

Friday, September 5th 2008

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

J. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church