Monday, June 6, 2011

A Nimble Orthodoxy

One of my favorite movies of all time is, "Chariots of Fire." Yes, I know, I am becoming hopelessly old (on May 28th, I celebrated my 39th birthday) but there you have it. I remember seeing Chariots of Fire in the movie theaters, in Boise, Idaho, for the first time when I was about 12 years old (1980ish), and marveling at the music, the scenery, the 1920's British Empirial and the Scottish Presbyterian minister who was a runner - Eric Liddel. One of my favorite scenes was when Sam Masubini (an Arab-Italian running coach) who was coaching Harold Abrams (a Jewish-collegiate runner) and giving him instructions on how to run. Sam said to Harold, "If you want to win races, you have to be nimble. Your feet have to feel like they are hopping on hot coals. You have to be quick. Hop, Hop Hop, Hop," said Sam as he made Harold's feet quickly bounce off of the ground like a tennis ball on an atari video game system (I told you I was old!).

In 2003, I saw Brian Mclaren speak at a national conference on Campus Ministries. Brian had just written a book called, "Generous Orthodoxy." At the time I really, really respected what Brian had written in the pages of his book. A pastor of Anglican-Episcopalian leanings, Brian believed that orthodoxy - the core beliefs of our faith - must have a sense of grace about it. That orthodoxy must be willing to be flexible at times, around the edges of non-core issues. Orthodoxy is only powerful when it is relevant. Orthodoxy must be generous! (hence the title). When I went up to the front of the room to speak with Brian about how generous he was willing his orthodoxy to be, I was surprised to find myself to be the only one at the podium. Nobody wanted to speak with Brian - apparently his listeners weren't very generous in their approval.

Ten years into my calling as an ordained Presbyterian minister (only different from Eric Liddel in that I don't run very well - but when I run, "I do feel the Lord's pleasure") I have come to feel that generous orthodoxy isn't the answer. Generous orthodoxy is simply too generous. Orthodoxy's power doesn't lie in it's ubiquity (the ability to be everywhere at once) or it's camelionism (the ability to change shapes in different venues). But, what's needed next is stout orthodoxy, but something more....Nimble Orthodoxy.

Nimble Orthodoxy says:

- The 21st century world and it's core issues are fluid, our core beliefs have to be responsive.
-Irrelevance is the problem, and so, orthodoxy must stay orthodox and regularly strive to be relevant. It must be nimble in it's responsiveness.
- Technology, and it's advances (twitter, the blogosphere, facebook, i-cloud...), require us to apply our orthodoxy in innovative ways.
- If we are to win the race, our core beliefs must be able to hop across the ground of life, with an agility, and nimbleness that may in fact be counter-intuitive to the core of orthodoxy itself.

Most of all, "When we run, we must feel the Lord's pleasure,"

All for Now,

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