one plus one equals ten?

Upon rereading this post, I found that I had made a gross error. The post was originally called “One plus one equals eleven?” I referenced the binary system and did some incorrect additions. All is now corrected below.

Now begins the original post, with the correction to my binary addition.


I must admit that I have already read a pretty good portion of McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy.  I picked up a copy of the book shortly after it came out and immediately dove in. It left such an impression that that part of my brain died, and I remember nothing of what I read. Very sad.

I hope to do much better this time around, and it is starting with the very title of the book. I appreciated John Frame’s foreward much more this time around than I did the first time I read it. I have matured some and read more broadly, giving myself a firmer foundation (is that okay to say in a postmodern conversation?) for understanding the background of the book. So as I was reading the foreward to the book, I really started to ponder the title, A Generous Orthodoxy – as I said, something that I had not done before. And it struck me.

Orthodoxy can be generous. And generosity in belief can be orthodox. And everyone CAN live together and sing Kum Ba Ya. Okay, so I’m a cynic, too. But that does not change the magnitude of my reflection on generous orthdoxy. Hans Frei’s term really is groundbreaking.

I grew up Southern Baptist, and of what I know of foundationalism (which is to say enough to know that if I thought about using it in a philosophical conversation, it would be better for me just to assume that my thought is wrong, silly, or completely in an alternate unverse), that’s pretty foundational. And Southern Baptists have a way of not being very generous in their orthodoxy, especially in the last couple of decades. If you happen to believe wrong (differently) on a particular point of minutiae – say that perhaps Paul had a wife (or not) – that could be grounds for accusing one of being liberal and clearly NOT saved.

So the idea of allowing orthodox faith to be flexible, to be a 2-d defined area instaed of a 1-d line of thought, is new. And I am not quite sure whether I like it or not. I certainly like the IDEA of it. But it is so ingrained in me that orthodoxy is believing the right thing, and that there can only be one right thing. 1+1=2, and that is always true. And then we learn about binary system where 1+1=10, which really isn’t different mathematically, but it sure looks different from our decimal point of view.

I guess I am saying that the idea of generous orthodoxy is refreshing and frightening, and I am not so sure that it really is safe ground. I am not sure that salvation is found there. I WANT Christian faith to be more than intellectual assent to all the right things. But it is so different that it might as well be saying that one plus one equals ten.


One thought on “one plus one equals ten?

  1. I revel in the idea of a generous orthodoxy. To me, orthodoxy as it has so long been defined is like a blind man trying to map a continent – there’s no way to even think about defining the boundaries. Everyone’s idea is different, so that everyone has their own definition that’s not really the same as anyone else’s orthodoxy.

    Never mind that the One we’re trying to map is bigger than the universe.

    I’m reminded of the joke – that all of us have laughed at, but only because we sadly know it’s true – that if the perfect church existed, I’d be the only member. You can’t walk side-by-side on a tightrope.

    What if orthodoxy WERE generous? What if the Truth was not this narrow, razor-thin tightrope we try to walk, but rather a much larger place than we had thought? Suddenly, the air seems thinner and fresh, and we realize we’re not as alone as we thought.

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