Orthodoxy, Orthopraxy, and Orthopathy

Right belief. Right practice. Right experience.

All are critical to the life of a believer in the Anointed One. They each need to be balanced with the other two. But one thing must be noted. There is an order, a flow to them, which needs to be maintained. Observe:

Right belief, if firmly held, will lead a person to a right practice of that belief. The practice will be an outgrowth of the conviction or belief. With a right belief and a right practice, the believer will have the God-ordained right experience, that is, the experience intended by God when right beliefs and practices are embraced.

However, a person may, for example, have many right experiences in their walk with God, but without understanding them, or realizing why they are right. They can be received as if by accident. Many people receive the Holy Spirit in this way. Not knowing too much about the Bible, but feeling drawn to God, they cry out to Him in a moment of faith and crisis, and receive the promise of the Father. But and unless they continue on with Him and allow the Spirit of Truth to lead them into all truth, they may never come to a right “anything”, whether belief, practice, or additional experience.

As Yeshua said, only those who continue in His Word are His students (John 8:31-32). This shows that doctrine comes first.

Additionally, many people maintain a right practice, and perhaps are even seeking a right belief about something, but and until the experience validates the belief and practice, it all become empty religiosity. This tendency causes much discouragement. I have met several people over the years that have pined about how the Book of Acts doesn’t seem to come alive here in the 21st century. And why not? Or at least seemingly why not? Because the right experiences of those 1st century believers isn’t happening in some of today’s groups of believers.

So, perhaps there is so much discouragement because right beliefs aren’t being maintained regarding the operation of God in the modern church? I mean, if I don’t believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as an example, they aren’t going to happen in my life or ministry. I will walk right by them, and never get to see the glory of God in power and demonstration.

Further, if something about God, His Son, or the Word is true, but for whatever reason, that truth is unknown to, or disregarded by, the believer, there will be an automatic limitation upon the life of that believer, until whatever is true is finally believed.

How many people have been incorrectly immersed? Why? An unrighteous, i.e. incorrect belief about baptism has led far too many to practice it incorrectly, and so, far too many have received an unrighteous, that is to say, incorrect experience when getting immersed. For some, all that happened was they got wet.

However, when a right belief about baptism is maintained, and when a believer with that right belief is immersed correctly (according to the right practice of Biblical immersion), they always receive the right experience: remission of sins and the promise of the Holy Spirit.

And yet, some have practiced immersion correctly, even invoking the name of the Lord when performing it, but nothing happens to or for the immersed. Why not? There could be many reasons, but here a few:

  • An incorrect belief about the Son of God
  • An incorrect belief about the Gospel
  • An incorrect belief about the need for repentance and faith prior to immersion
  • An incorrect belief about the reason to be immersed
  • An incorrect belief about normative experiences when immersed

Do you see how right belief has to come first? Without a doctrinal conviction regarding immersion, even if performed correctly, the immersed isn’t going to receive the correct or right experience God intended when He gave us immersion as part of the New Covenant.

Finally, what happens when right belief is present, but right practice and/or right experience is/are not? If a person correctly believes the core doctrines of the Bible, but doesn’t practice the faith accordingly, then they either tend toward extreme legalism, caring only for doctrinal purity as an intellectual pursuit, or extreme carnality, as an anything goes mentality is developed. Any experience, no matter how un-Scriptural, is validated, because how one practices the faith of the Son of God is non-essential. This is how many false prophets make their money. They may generally agree on the doctrines of God outwardly, but in practice, it doesn’t matter overly much what God actually says about a subject. Conversely, what God says about a subject may be so limited by the doctrinal purist, that no one can have a question or disagreement, or feel a liberty to practice their faith and receive Biblical experiences apart from what the purists maintain is acceptable.

There is so much danger in imbalance!

Start with correct belief, dearly beloved saints. Right belief, if held and maintained, will, because God is faithful, lead you to right practice. Orthodoxy will guide and direct all that you do as a Christian. And when orthodoxy and orthopraxy get together, because God is faithful, He will make certain you have the type of Scripturally ordained experiences He wants you to have, the ones you read about in the Bible, Book of Acts or otherwise.

But if your experiences are not towing the line, or aren’t meeting your expectations, chances are your practice or your belief is off. Same with your practice. If the practice of your faith is un-Biblical, be sure to realize you’ll never have sufficiently right experiences in the Lord. Your beliefs about Him and how to practice His faith need to change. In either case, if ever something is amiss, look at what you believe first. That’s the first, and really only way, to correct anything and make things right.


~ by votivesoul on 12/08/2015.

4 Responses to “Orthodoxy, Orthopraxy, and Orthopathy”

  1. Very well written, and a great explanation for why so many struggle after receiving an experience with the Lord. There is a balance that has to be found, and you have hit the nail on the head!

    • Thanks, MM. I appreciate the comment and feedback. May the Lord bless and keep you.

      In the meantime, what are some ways you believe the church could do a better job at helping new converts not struggle so much after an experience with the Lord? Is there a way to teach orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and orthopathy, in that order? Have you been involved in teaching? What successes can you share?

      Thanks again, and in advance of your answers,


      • Hello Bro. Aaron, I did not receive this response in my inbox, perhaps you have your settings in your blog set as a no-reply blogger? If you change this, then when you respond to someone’s comment they will receive it in their inbox, otherwise, they have to come back to the post to see what you’ve said.

        To answer your question, yes, I have been involved in teaching in the past, Sunday School, and youth. The best advice I could offer would be to help new believers understand that they MUST study to show themselves approved. They cannot just accept someone’s word for it, they must study it and see it for themselves. If young believers can be taught to be study the Word for themselves, it points them in the right direction immediately.

      • I took a look at my settings, and didn’t see anything that would indicate anything was amiss vis a vis you not receiving an email showing I had replied to your comment. Maybe it went to your spam folder?

        Well, regardless of what happened, I’m glad you eventually saw my response and offered one of your own. I agree that self-study must become the norm for the people of God, with a strong circle of like-minded friends who trust one another enough to bounce all manner of thoughts and ideas off of each other without fear of reprisal, judgment, or ridicule. We need healthier study habits taught in the church.

        I’ve had different times in my life when I could open up with close friends and talk about wild curiosities and difficult uncertainties. Iron has always sharpened iron. I think we need to all see ourselves as woefully inadequate to make sense of all of the Bible on our own. But neither should we feel we always need to sit at someone’s feet and eat the words of God out of their hand, when we have the Master available to teach us as a personal rabbi and friend.

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Mark Showalter's Blog

Always seeking to know God more

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

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