EPC stated clerk’s report
Orthodoxy. Orthopraxy. And orthopathos?
By Carmen Fowler LaBerge, The Layman, June 24, 2011
In his comments to the 1,000 plus attendees of the 31st General Assembly meeting of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Stated Clerk Jeffrey Jeremiah said, “I believe our Lord is saying to us today, ‘I see your orthodoxy. It is essential and I commend you for it. I see your orthopraxy as well. Now, show me your orthopathos. Show me your passion for me.’ We are called to love the Lord with all our heart, all our mind and all our soul.”
Two legs of this three legged stool of true religion are well known and oft discussed.
- Orthodoxy is right doctrine or right belief in the truth.
- Orthopraxy is right practice or right implementation of truth to life.
But what exactly is orthopathos or orthopathy? The short answer is right affection or righteous passion.
Affections or passion is not to be equated with emotions or feelings. Historically, “affections” was a term used to describe holy and godly inclinations of the soul. The affections are attributes of the heart of God and include love, reverence, holiness, long-suffering, honor and righteous anger. These are God’s affections, God’s passions and by the power of the Holy Spirit they are communicable attributes to His people. When properly expressed, God’s people show forth God’s image. Indeed, His people reflect His glory to a world desperately in need of redemption.
For true religion to really stand, you need all three legs. The truth of God must be rightly understood and received by the power of His Holy Spirit through His revealed Word. That’s orthodoxy. When right belief in the truth is rightly implemented by the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church and the believer orthopraxy is in evidence. Wrapped up in all that and as of a covering over both orthodoxy and orthopraxy is othopathy, the righteous expression of Godly affections, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the life of the church and the believer. The things that break the heart of God would break the heart of His people. Likewise, the things that inflame the heart of God would burn within His people.
Jeremiah concluded, “If the passion of our hearts energizes all we do in pursuit of our Savior and His great commission, then we can look forward to seeing our Savior doing things in us and through us that will blow us away – and we will be left in awe and praise and worship.”
“In order for that to happen, an era must come to an end. The era of the Presbyterian Church as frozen chosen is over; today. It must be over if we are going to be faithful, effective and obedient to our Savior. We have great work to do, let’s do it with all our minds, with all of our souls and with all of our hearts.”
Rev. Dr. Jeff Jeremiah is the executive officer of the General Assembly of the EPC. In his role he provides leadership to a denomination that recognizes itself as in transition. The EPC is addressing two significant simultaneous shifts: 1. Embracing “missional” as a God-given element of its congregational and collective design for the 21st century and 2. Receiving and integrating a large number of new congregations into the life and culture of the denomination. In 2007, there were 185 churches in the EPC. In 2011, there are over 300.
Formed in 1981 and headquartered in Livonia, Mich., the EPC is centered around seven essentials of faith drawn from the Westminster Confession of Faith which is the denomination’s sole confessional standard. The 31st General Assembly of the EPC is meeting this week at Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn.