or·tho·prax·y

[awr-thuh-prak-see]
–noun
1. correctness or orthodoxy of action or practice
[from Greek orthos correct + praxis deed, action]

This post comes about due to a discussion growing out of a paper on Deuteronomy 14:1-21 I presented in one of my graduate theology courses at Trevecca Nazarene University recently. As part of our discussion, the instructor raised the subject of orthopraxy. As you can deduce from the definition, orthopraxy concerns itself with correct practices. This is not the same as orthodoxy, which is concerned with correct beliefs. Orthopraxy is developed out of orthodoxy.

The questions raised for me due to the discussion in class are two:

1) Is there a concept of orthopraxy in the Church of the Nazarene today?
2) If so, then what set of practices do all Nazarenes agree on and engage in?

As we thought about this and discussed it, I became very disturbed by a lack of answers to both questions. One might say that our Manual defines our orthopraxy, but I don’t know that this is the case, at least not at current time. Although I’ve been involved with the Church of the Nazarene only for about 3 years, it’s very obvious to me that the specifics of the Covenant of Christian Conduct is not held to or put into practice by some — possibly even many — as it was in years past. Our Wesleyan heritage has fallen into disregard by some, so it would be difficult to say that there is orthopraxy there. Our denomination does not have a formalized liturgy, so there is no orthopraxy among Nazarene churches there, either.

The only thing that the dozen or so of us students — most of whom are are full-time pastors — were able to come up with as a practice shared by every Nazarene church is a focus on missions. Since this is something that could be found in most evangelical churches, it hardly seems like a distinctive orthopraxy in the Church of the Nazarene. I find this disturbing on a level I am having difficulty expressing, and apparently I am not the only one. Our instructor (who is a visiting professor and chair of theological and biblical studies at another Nazarene university) went so far as to speculate that without a developed orthopraxy, within 50 years there will be no Church of the Nazarene in anything but name.

There has to be an answer to this, but I sure don’t know what it might be. What’s your take on the matter?

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