About Mere Orthodoxy

We host thoughtful and gracious conversations about Christianity’s shape in the public square.

 


What is Mere Orthodoxy? 

We are a small group of young Christians who have spent the past seven years working out what our faith looks like in public.

Whether it’s arts, movies, literature, politics (yup, we go there), sexuality, or any other crevice of the human experience, we believe that the Gospel has something to say about it and that “something” really can be good news.

We take our cues from our boys C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, two of the most thoughtful Christians of the twentieth century.  One of them wrote Mere Christianity and the other wrote Orthodoxy, and we like those books so much we stapled their names together and took it as our own.

But their thougthfulness wasn’t abstract:  it was rooted in the challenges and struggles that England was facing their time, and their mission was to demonstrate how a classically minded, creedally centered orthodox Christianity was an attractive and persuasive alternative to the ideologies of their day.

And they did it while writing poems and children’s stories.

No really, what is Mere Orthodoxy? 

Okay.  Bullet points, if we must.  Here’s what we hope you will discover within our writing:

  • Scripturally rooted, but creedally informed thoughts.  We know that it’s not enough to hang out saying the Nicene Creed and that the further we get from it, the more we’ll disagree on the particulars of how Christianity should play out in public.  But we also think that getting to the Nicene Creed is a pretty good start for most Christians in our era, so that’s where we’ll put our baseline.
  • Cheerfully contrarian when we have to be.  We disagree with each other, and probably with you too (at least on something, right?).  We think that’s part of what makes life and writing interesting.  So we’ll make arguments, but hopefully in a way that is generous and kind.
  • Eclectic.  Honestly, we could write about anything.  So be prepared for that.  Chasing our interests is the only thing that keeps us interesting, and being interesting is the one rule we have.  Other sites may have a “niche,” and Google loves ‘em for it.  Our niche is the world and where our reflections take us in it.  And we kind of like it that way (and hope you will too).
  • Publicly engaged.  We’re after the meaning and significance of things, the substance.  Which means that we are after matters of public concern.  And our hope is that you’ll think more carefully, more deeply, and hopefully more Christianly about our world and your place in it after reading us.


  • http://twitter.com/LisaColonDelay Lisa Colón DeLay

    Starting reading, and poking around, and I’m convinced that you’re too thoughtful to be America. Fess up, who are the Britons among you? :)

    • isaaccrabtree

      Americans are the last true Englishmen, according to Burke. Don’t believe all the stereotypes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peterrobertson.jennings Peter Robertson Jennings

    Keep up the good work, guys! But, please stop using the word ‘creedally’! It stuck in my ear the first time I heard it and we Christians seem to like using it. I’m ninety five percent certain that no such word exists in spite of it’s popularity. ‘Credos’ or ‘creedal’ are the correct words, I believe, in the contexts I see here on the ‘What we’re about’ page.

  • http://twitter.com/EtotheVtotheE eve

    Have Orthodox Christians gotten mad at this blog name? Or are you guys part of the Orthodox tradition yourselves.

    • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

      They are using the term “Orthodoxy” in the theological sense, not as the name of a church. The literal meaning is “correct doctrine/worship

      • http://www.facebook.com/ben.r.holmes Benjamin Holmes

        I mean no disrespect or anger. But the Orthodox Church is “orthodox” in Christian regards, maintaining the Christian faith through two millennia. We are “pre-denominational.” God bless you in your life journey.

        • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

          Benjamin, in some ways the Orthodox Church has held to “orthodox” theology. Unfortunately they have also added to that theology with tradition. Thus the Orthodox Church can not be called “orthodox” in the theological sense. You can check out a book I wrote for more detailed discussion. http://amzn.com/B00A6F032O

          • http://www.facebook.com/ben.r.holmes Benjamin Holmes

            Caleb, what is the basis for claiming they have added to Christian theology? As history shows, Rome has a tendancy to add theology, Protestants a disposition to subtract biblical teachings. Well, and now we witness the Episcopalians and mainline churches adding substantial new theology with support for abortion, same-sex marriage, and so forth. God bless. journeytoorthodoxy.com

          • isaaccrabtree

            Hold fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (2 Thess. 2:15)

            Not all “tradition” is bad, Caleb, and btw which book of the Bible lists the canon– or was that determined by Apostolic Tradition? I’m a former Evangelical turned Orthodox, some 9 years ago.

          • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

            You’re right, a lot of tradition is helpful and every church has their own tradition, but it’s not inspired. There is no one book of the Bible that lists all the other books of the Bible, if that’s what you mean. The canon was determined by early church fathers and I have no problem with that because the canon is not inspired either.

          • isaaccrabtree

            Caleb, the canon is not inspired? How do we know what books are inspired at all? Does the Gospel of Matthew say, “This is the inspired word of God”? Does it give us a test to perform to verify its authenticity like the false Book of Mormon? Here’s my point: we only know the inspired books by relying upon apostolic tradition (paradosis in Greek– that which has been handed down). The Church of Jerusalem had an epistle written by its first bishop, the half-brother of God, James, Iakovos. The Church of Rome had one Pauline Epistle, the Corinthians had two, as did the Church of Thessalonica. For all of these we rely upon a tradition to tell us their authors, and a tradition to tell us whether that particular book taught Christ’s Gospel or another gospel.

            The Apostolic Church doesn’t just have their writings, it has their biographies, their spoken teachings, accounts of their miracles. These Churches even have their bones! To accept the authority of those works we consider to by the inspired canon is to implicitly accept the authority of the 4th Century Church which kept them, interpreted them, copied them, transmitted them– and excluded others. It would behoove us all to examine what else those Christians taught and believed, things that they also claimed to be Apostolic in origin: Liturgical worship (following the liturgical worship God had revealed to Moses), the Sign of the Cross, veneration of martyrs, etc.

            One of the first people to list the New Testament canon in complete form is from the Alexandrian Church, which was founded by the Apostle (one of the Seventy, whose names the Apostolic Church has always known) Mark, at the behest of the Apostle (one of the 12) Peter: St. Athanasius the Great. This man of God not only knew which books were accepted by the Church as inspired, but he knew most of them by heart. He defended the divinity of Christ at the council of Nicea when he was only a deacon. Later he became the Bishop of Alexandria. He wrote a lot of things that he claimed were handed down by the Apostles– the Church he describes is the Orthodox Church.

            Ok, sorry. I could ramble all day. I’m sorry, brother! I don’t want to win an argument– I just want you to look beyond the stereotypes that Evangelicals can have, owing to their revulsion toward Roman Catholicism and what they claim to be tradition.

          • Matthew Anderson

            Dear people,

            These sorts of very important discussions are not, of course, our main focus around here. Please feel free to send each other an email and carry on that way. : )

            All the best,

            Matt

          • isaaccrabtree

            Apologies, Mr. Anderson.

          • MarcAlcan

            The canon was determined by early church fathers and I have no problem with that because the canon is not inspired either.

            Ergo, we don’t really know whether the books in the Bible is inspired or not.
            If God did not protect the canon from error:
            1) We have books in the Bible that should not be there (and they could be heretical)
            2) We have books that are not in the Bible that should have been there.
            Ergo, we don’t really know which book is Inspired if the canon is not inspired.
            For all we know, maybe half of the Bible is inspired and the other half is not.
            Do you see the problem in your statement?

        • HLK

          Denomination is not “pre-denominational.”

    • http://resipsalocquitor.blogspot.com/ Res Ipsa

      Note that the blog’s name is take from a combination of C. S. Lewis’ (an Anglican) book title “Mere Christianity” and G. W. Chesterton’s (a Catholic) title “Orthodoxy”.

      As Caleb notes in his comment, the term “orthodox” is commonly used in religious circles to mean orthodox, ie., correct, doctrine and doesn’t always refer to a branch of the Orthodox Churches. This has been very long the case, indeed for centuries, so the use is common, and unlikely to upset at least Orthodox clergy. While I suppose there may be examples, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Chesterton’s book title criticized for being named “Orthodoxy”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001583954046 John Stone

    keep up the good work, article in latest Christianity Today helped me find this most refreshing of sites, i.e. I am not alone after all.I refer to the THE NEW RADICALS article on Platt, Chan et al. What those fellows preach is exactly why I refused to be a Christian for many years….it’s all about me, what I do, what I believe, how radical I am, my stage, my band, my book….well you get it what about the Cross? What about families, i.e. read the application chapters in Colossians and Ephesians and it’s about the family, why we have so much social need in our culture? the annihilation of the family willingly aided by the U S Govt. My point: rich guys get on planes to fly to India to feed the poor and write a book about it and we feel guilty for living in a house in the suburbs. ?! Thank you, What about radical grace and radical work of the Holy Spirit for that see Jonathan Edwards and the RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS.

    • http://www.facebook.com/erika.green.587 Erika Green

      I disagree. The article was a “mere” compilation of too many C S Lewis wanna-be words without the genius simplicity of his writing. Mathew Lee’s criticism of radical writings (which i believe were a much needed call to think and inspect our fruit) turned out to be based on the weak argument that Platt’s church has a large audience and a podium.

  • SJ

    I think the church is finally getting a taste of what our sloppy lumping of ethics and theology has done. Looking at what secular theorists about sexuality its kind of a joke that the few voices we do have are pastors preaching sermons to laymen. Its no wonder the church isn’t perceived as on par.

    As a painter I can the same to modern and abstract art done by those who can and cannot draw. Think anything you want to of Picasso but what is little known about that artist is that he could easily paint and draw lifelike objects. Even today I can see a Picasso-like painting and tell whether or not the artist knew how to draw real life as well. The “same” product with completely different substance is a massive difference!

    In the same. The church has slacked on true theological and theoretical theory. “Homosexual lifestyle” and “don’t-have-sex-until-marriage,” or “sex-sex-sex-great-awesome-fun-married-sex,” just isn’t going to cut it in a culture systematically working in all spheres, from intellectual to laymen. The 10% of a sermon that the average Evangelical remembers is often a sub-par fraction of an already weak argument. The bones and structure of thought must be strong enough to stand as relevant when broken into the sound bites our culture will remember. We have not done so and thus suffer the consequences.

  • cowboybob

    The western church could learn much from the eastern church. The western church has become so feminized that not many men attend on their own. The Orthodox church has always been a “man’s” church.

    • http://www.plumbbobblog.com philwynk

      Why do you suppose that is? By what do you explain it?

  • Trish

    I’m reading GK Chesterton’s Orthodoxy for the first time. On the one hand I can’t believe I’ve
    waited so long to get to it. On the other hand, I’m glad I waited until I had
    gotten to everything else first! I love this: “The real trouble with this world of ours is
    not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The
    commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life
    is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians… It is this silent
    swerving from accuracy by an inch that is the uncanny element in everything”
    (60-61).

    And it is in this “swerving” that I found Christ.

    • Trish

      Or maybe it is more accurate to say that the Lord’s “swerving” found me… Oh the wonder of it!

      • Claire

        Great point! You have inspired me to start reading Orthodoxy, as I’ve had it on my shelf for a long time. It sounds like a challenging book.

  • Chris Schumerth

    Just wanted to say I am super excited to have found this blog! It is a discourse I need and have been looking for.

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