April 20th, 2007


Cross-posted at Blogger of Jared.

photo credit: quikdraw

Orthodoxy is an interesting subject as it pertains to the LDS faith. The word itself comes from the Greek ortho (‘right’, ‘correct’) and doxa (‘thought’, ‘teaching’, ‘glorification’). As it relates to religion, the word can be defined as an authorized or accepted set of religious beliefs and doctrines.

My personal observations lead me to conclude that orthodoxy is looked down upon by a society that grows ever more secular and liberal. As we tilt to the left, more and more turn to heterodoxy and scorn those paleoconservatives clinging to tradition and time-honored practice.

Even within a Church (and especially the bloggernacle) one can observe a tendency among some individuals to shirk orthodoxy and embrace more radical, liberal teachings, practices, and doctrines.

Why is such a course of action wrong? Elder Maxwell explains:

True orthodoxy thus brings safety and felicity! It is not only correctness but happiness. Strange, isn’t it, even the very word orthodoxy has fallen into disfavor with some? As society gets more and more flaky, a few rush forward to warn shrilly against orthodoxy!

Remember how, with Pharaoh’s angry army in hot pursuit, ancient Israel aligned themselves with the Lord’s instructions? Moses stretched forth his hand and the Red Sea parted. With towering walls of water on each side, Israel walked through the narrow passage obediently, and no doubt quickly! There were no warnings about conforming on that day!

There are passages ahead which will require similar obedience, as prophets lead the “men [and women] of Christ” in a straight and narrow course. (Neal A. Maxwell, via Quoty)

It is interesting to note the link Elder Maxwell establishes between orthodoxy and obedience. In my own life, those acquantances I have who veer to the left in the LDS faith are most certainly the ones who are less obedient to certain commandments and policies established both in scripture and modern prophetic teaching.

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord taught about the “straight and narrow course” Elder Maxwell referred to:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Strait and narrow = obedience = orthodoxy
Wide and broad = disobedience = heterodoxy

A simple principle that perhaps some overlook, as they become soaked in the stain of Babylon and find luxury and comfort in the broad way that, as Jesus taught, ultimately leads to destruction.

7 Responses to “Orthodoxy”

  1. mother
    April 20, 2007 at 8:35 am #

    I agree with these comments generally as we’ve discussed many times. But I am also very aware that there is also a line between orthodoxy and fanatacism. I love the quote from Brother Millet (and if I recall he was quoting Bruce R. McConkie)–“We do not need to be more righteous than the Brethren.”
    Satan likes to peel people off the left AND the right. It is my experience that those who cross the line of fanaticism first exhibit signs of “I know more than they do.” which they first apply to their peers and then they apply to the Church leadership.
    Vigilance and humility are constantly necessary.

  2. Connor
    April 20, 2007 at 8:46 am #

    Satan likes to peel people off the left AND the right.

    Oh, totally. Practically anything can be taken to an extreme, and within the Church people can and sometimes do form “gospel hobbies” based in such extremism.

    Vigilance and humility are constantly necessary.

    Wise words.

  3. Richard K Miller
    April 20, 2007 at 4:11 pm #

    Great post, Connor, and I liked your mom’s comment too.

  4. Carolynn Duncan
    April 20, 2007 at 11:21 pm #


    Where would you align the “Spirit vs. letter of the law” concept in regards to orthodoxy?

    Do you consider following the letter of the law as obedience & orthodoxy, but going “by the Spirit” of a particular concept as heterodoxy? Or would a combo approach within the confines of doing what’s morally right, though bypassing dogma, still be in the strait & narrow?

    A favorite quote: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. …” from Joseph Smith, quoted by Elder Holland in Nov. 2003 “The Grandeur of God”. I like the idea that God is mindful of the broad spectrum of life that exists, yet maintains the integrity of the laws He sets forth.

    How do you determine this:

    Those acquaintances I have who veer to the left in the LDS faith are most certainly the ones who are less obedient to certain commandments and policies established both in scripture and modern prophetic teaching.

    Unless you have specific examples and inside knowledge on others’ habits & obedience levels, I’m not that excited about a statement like this.

    Is it possible to have a more “liberal view” that considers and accepts broad concepts thoughtfully yet maintains an obedient approach, or would that be ruled out from really being orthodox? And is that approach wrong, or just a personality difference from a more conservative take?

  5. Curtis
    April 21, 2007 at 10:55 am #

    Good points Carolynn,
    My hunch is that the liberality of God is far more radical than most of us are ready to accept.

    I think that Maxwell made a good point when he qualified the orthodoxy he was referring to with the word, “true”. The problem with much of the orthodoxy in our church (the Mormon church) is that so much has arisen out of tradition and is not necessarily “true.”

    Hugh B. Brown once said, “We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts.”

    Insisting on conformation to orthodoxy which is not true in essence suppresses this freedom of the mind.

  6. Aaron
    April 21, 2007 at 10:15 pm #

    I like your quotations from Elder Maxwell. I am reminded by the countless times that he taught us about the principle of “discipleship”. I think that fits in this discussion somewhere, too.
    I can be a disciple by following Christ and His teachings.
    I can be orthodox in my beliefs in that I don’t stray from the strait and narrow and meander away from the iron rod. I can avoid fanaticism by remaining humble, and focusing on my personal righteousness (as opposed to other people’s way of being; people in general or specifically).
    I can be obedient in my orthodox beliefs, or I can be disobedient in those beliefs.
    The key to any discussion of obedience is humility (mother pointed this out). Mosiah 3:19: “submissive, meek, humble, full of love, willing to submit to all things. . .”

    When all is said and done, Heavenly Father sent us here to find out one thing: “Can he/she be trusted to obey me?” Perhaps Heavenly Father likes to see us wrestle with gospel principles and weigh things out in our minds, but only if this wrestling (intelectualizing, analyzing, etc.) comes during and after our obedience, not before.

  7. Steve M
    April 23, 2007 at 10:28 am #

    As it relates to religion, the word can be defined as an authorized or accepted set of religious beliefs and doctrines.

    While orthopraxy seems to be very well-defined in the Church (and I believe your post has more to do with behavior than belief), I don’t believe Mormon orthodoxy is as clearly defined. From the beginning, we haven’t been much for creeds. Outside of the core, fundamental doctrines of Mormonism (belief in continuing revelation, the Godhead, Jesus Christ’s atonement, etc.), there’s some gray area as to what constitutes “doctrine” and what doesn’t. For instance, do we believe that God was once a man? Joseph Smith thought so, but President Hinckley doesn’t seem so sure about it.

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