Sunday, July 15, 2007

More from Gustavo Gutierrez on "action"

". . .the rediscovery of the eschatological dimension in theology has also led us to consider the central role of historical praxis. Indeed, if human history is above all else and opening to the future, then it is a task, a political occupation, through which we orient and open ourselves to the gift which gives history its transcendent meaning: the full and definitive encounter with the Lord and with other humans.

"To do the truth," as the Gospel says, thus acquires a precise and concrete meaning in terms of the importance of action in Christian life.

Faith in a God who loves us and calls us to the gift of full communion with God and fellowship with others not only is not foreign to the transformation of the world; it leads necessarily to the building up of that fellowship and communion in history.

Moreover, only by doing this truth will our faith be "verified," in the etymological sense of the word.

From this notion has recently been derived the term orthopraxis, which still disturbs the sensitivities of some. The intention, however, is not to deny the meaning of orthodoxy, understood as a proclamation of and reflection on statements considered to be true.

Rather, the goal is to balance and even to reject the primacy and almost exclusiveness which doctrine has enjoyed in Christian life and above all to modify the emphasis, often obsessive, upon the attainment of an orthodoxy which is often nothing more than fidelity to an obsolete tradition or a debatable interpretation.

In a more positive vein, the intention is to recognize the work and importance of concrete behavior, of deeds, of action, of praxis in the Christan life. 'And this, it seems to me, has been the greatest transformation which has taken lace in Christian conception of existence,' said Edward Schillebeeckx in an interview. 'It is evident that thought is also necessary for action. But the Church for centuries devoted its attention to formulating truths and meanwhile did almost nothing to better the world. in other words, the Church focused on orthodoxy and left orthopraxis in the hands of nonmembers and nonbelievers'"

(A Theology of Liberation, page 8)


1 comment:

Brian said...

When I hear about orthopraxy versus orthodoxy in the works of the emerging church writers (and others), I always find myself conflicted and more than a little confused. On one hand, YES! we need to constantly relearn how Christians act in the world. But on the other hand, I am confused as to why it has to be one way or the other? The German Moravians and English Anglicans of the 16th century revivals were profoundly committed to strictly orthodox (often Calvinist) faith, but expanded the reach of that faith in their lives.
This either/or paradigm is not only unhelpful, it is unhealthy to a church that wishes to encompass ALL aspects of the gospel.