intrinsic value and orthopraxy

In response to Randy’s post on the Harbour Blog regarding his reflections on the disaffiliation of Faith Harbour from the SBTC, I’ve been reflecting myself, too:

Two things, really, I’d like to share tonight. One from a thought shared this week at the Futuring seminar I’ve been attending, and the second stemming from a thought by Brian McLaren. These are two reasons, I think, why we attract such opposition, not only from the SBTC but from everyone who is more “connected” to the culture we’re coming from than the culture we are becoming.

1) We are living in a culture which measures people’s worth by what they have and by what they do. To live into the future, however, we will need to value people more by who they are and whose they are. Extrinsic worth, which is based on people’s productivity and possessions leads to inequality. Intrinsic worth, which is internal and unique, is based on who we are and who we are becoming as children of God; intrinsic worth leads to equality. As that was shared in our group today, I was thinking that Jesus values people according to their intrinsic value, not their extrinsic value. That was the huge political, sociological and theological shift Jesus made. Yet, here we are, 2000 or so years later, still valuing people by what they do or by what they have. I think Faith Harbour found opposition, in part, because we are building our ministry on the foundation the intrinsic value of all people. And that the intrinsic value is, ultimately, more important to the world and to the kingdom, than what one does. So, a ministry, such as Eklektos, which says we’re about accepting and affirming all people, a ministry based in intrinsic value, is counter-cultural. And it will continue to do so. Focusing on intrinsic value doesn’t mean that what we do isn’t important … of course it is … it’s just not the first thing we focus on. We, instead, meet people as God meets them … with full love and acceptance. This is so threatening to people who judge and value people based on their extrinsic worth.

2) McLaren has been writing lately about the difference between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Orthodoxy is about “right thinking” and has been very important in the history of Christianity. Most church splits have been over orthodoxy … a different set of beliefs. The Orthodoxy our churches profess is based on the decisions our predecessors have made regarding the right way to think about God over the centuries. But, according to McLaren, and others who are looking to the future … we are moving into an age where it’s not as important whether we think the right things about God or Jesus, what’s most important is the way we live. The question is no longer, do you believe the right things? The question is, are you living in the way of Christ? Orthopraxy is “right practice.” That is what unites us at Faith Harbour … we have differing thoughts about God, about sin, about Jesus, about the Bible … but we are united in a way of living that strives to be Christ-like. Churches and pastors who are defined by orthodoxy cannot understand or even condone a church that is founded on orthopraxy. But, in my opinion, that’s exactly what will make the Gospel real … to live valuing people based on who they are, not what they do … wow! That’s what I strive for.