There have been a few happenings lately which have really gotten me thinking about where orthodoxy (correct thinking) and orthopraxy (correct practice) should meet. Recently a church here in Ramona made it public knowledge that they were officially pulling their support away from In His Steps Christian Recovery Program because of some doctrinal issues they had with the program--actually not even directly with the program but with an exercise that some members of the program have gone through. This church also had issue with the program because they accept help from churches in town which don't meet their orthodoxy standards.
In His Steps is a recovery program for men and women who want to be free from drug and alcohol addiction. In their program, their primary objective "is to introduce people to Jesus Christ and give them an opportunity to accept Him as their Lord and Savior." And, already by that language, you can tell they've remained theologically conservative. The program has created an amazing network between churches which, otherwise, would probably have nothing to do with each other. Besides being very successful in helping people get off drugs and alcohol, this program has brought Catholics and Baptists, Methodists and Calvary Chapel folks, Congregationalists and others together in this town, working toward the same goal. Even though the program maintains a very conservative mission statement, I guess it was only a matter of time before doctrine became an issue.
The first issue which the church that decided to pull away had was the "healing prayer" aspect of the ministry, which is not a requirement but many do go through it. Generally, I plead ignorance as to what this is because I haven't experienced it. But it is a session of prayer, the goal of which is to allow people to identify and let go of past wounds. This is something which has been very helpful to people, especially in a program where many people come from tough families, were raped in their childhood, or have gone through a variety of other tough situations which they have carried with them for years. The church indicated, in so many words, that they thought that this practice placed human experience over Scriptural authority.
Their other issue was that the program accepts help from a couple churches in town that they apparently thought were "deceived" by "Satan." When I read this, I was particularly troubled because one of the churches they were talking about was my church. I was also troubled because I don't remember ever seeing anyone from their church leadership attending our church, so I couldn't understand how they'd know if we had been "deceived."
The bottom line, for them is that our church apparently believes that there is more than one way to get to heaven. This was a surprise to me because in the 22 years I've gone to our church, all the teachings I've received would suggest exactly the opposite.
Secondly, our church accepts homosexuals into church membership, which we might if anyone ever wanted to, but I don't remember it ever being talked about at our church. It wasn't even that we thought homosexuality was ok, which I don't think we do, it was just that we let them be members.
So because of these things they felt that they could no longer be involved in the ministry. They could no longer help people get off of drugs and alcohol because of doctrine. Does this sound right to you? I don't mean to pick on this church and I don't want to bash them (that's why I've neglected to use their name), but when does doctrine become a reason to stop working toward something which is obviously good?
When does orthodoxy get in the way of orthopraxy? At what point should our disagreements with a particular church or churches stop us from partnering with them? Can someone have orthopraxy without having orthodoxy?