Thoughts from the Douthat Dialogue

I sat speechless as I wasn’t sure how I wanted to respond to the question directed my way.  Or maybe I just wasn’t really sure I knew the answer myself.

“But, are they the same?”

Beliefs in Orthodoxy and Heresy and the morals of right and wrong.  Is there such a thing as right orthodoxy and wrong heresy?

DSC_0855The discussion moved on, but as any good practitioner of our disjointed multi-tasking culture, the wheels in the back of my mind were continuing to spin on the subject as I kept up with the dialogue going on around me.

Love it or hate it, I knew Douthat’s book had stirred a larger conversation inside of me which only increased as I dialogued with others and heard their thoughts and reactions to his work.  I have continued to chew on the question asked of me during our discussion.  And while I might agree with the assessment explicitly, there is a different between orthodoxy/heresy and right/wrong.  Implicitly I believe there is a connection.  A subtle point and question I believe the author was trying to raise in his bigger quest to reveal how we have became a nation of heretics.

While belief and morals might be separate, I believe they are also intimately connected as they mutually impact each other.  We act on our beliefs and we often define belief by how we act or what we believe to be right.  We have all seen what happens when belief leads to horrendous actions throughout the history of the church.  And so the question has been raised.  What is the core of Christianity?  When are we immersed in authentic faith?

I believe the author is right in his plea that it is necessary for us to answer these questions as much as we might not want too.  What is at stake is nothing less than the gospel.  Does the gospel teach prosperity?  Does the gospel call me to patriotism?  Or does it lead me to love my neighbor and listen to those who might see the world in a different light?

Only when we are willing to say there is an authentic core can we begin to articulate why some of these “visions” of the gospel might be more a product of our society rather than the painting God is inviting us into.

I am extremely grateful for the conversation and the fruit it has stirred up inside of me.  A place I could never have reached if it wasn’t for the community I shared the day with.  Hopefully, this is the start of a great new tradition through Central as we continue our learning together in life.


Rev. Seth M. Vopat, M.Div 2009