I hear the comments all the time: “Doctrine divides.” “What really matters is not what the church believes, but how it lives.” “Scripture isn’t clear on many issues, so it’s best to make room to disagree.”
To many, orthodoxy — holding the central truths believed by Christians throughout the centuries — seems like an extravagant luxury we can no longer afford, and one that no longer looks desirable anyway.
As Trevin Wax writes in his new book The Thrill of Orthodoxy, we’ve lost “confidence in the truth and goodness of the Christian faith.” The solution: to not only recover truth but to be thrilled by it; to inhabit the ancient castle of orthodoxy, one with “spacious rooms and vaulted ceilings and mysterious corridors,” and then to sift through its treasures.
Orthodoxy isn’t dull; as Dorothy Sayers wrote, “The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man.”
Three Reasons I Appreciated This Book
I appreciated this book for four reasons.
First, this book helps us understand some of the contours of orthodoxy. We get a taste of important truths and heresies throughout the centuries. This book provides an introduction to ancient creeds and councils, and why the church has drawn certain theological lines. Wax gives us just enough to help us understand some of the major issues, making us want more without getting bogged down in details.
Second, this book speaks to many issues we face. It’s like Wax read my mail. He answers questions I face all the time. He describes the ways people think that I pastor. He shows some common ways we begin to drift from orthodoxy. He hasn’t written an abstract book; he’s written one that addresses the needs of my local church. Reading his book helped expand my answers to some of the difficult questions I've received.
Third, this book shows why orthodoxy matters. Wax shows why the details matter, and what’s at stake when we lose them. “Defending a doctrine is like safeguarding a treasure,” he writes. Following Jesus is a matter of life-and-death urgency.
Finally, I appreciate how this book points us to the adventure of orthodoxy. If you think doctrine is lifeless and boring, you’re doing theology wrong. Wax’s book isn’t just an invitation to orthodoxy; it’s an invitation to a challenging, exhilarating quest.
The Call to Truth and Wonder
We’re called not just to know and believe the truth, but to maintain our wonder. How could we ever get bored with the truth of Scripture?
As Wax reminds us:
The future of the church will not be forged by those who jump on the bandwagon of fads and fashions, who hang on to a passing moment or movement as if it assures success. The future of the church will follow the path of pilgrims who remain empowered by the Spirit, who are thrilled by the discovery and definition of orthodoxy — men and women who can see past the fads and fashions of the day, who have no patience for the narrow-minded heresies that mutilate the Christian faith, who lean fully into the richness of the truth they've inherited and will pass on to the next generation. The future of the church belongs to those who want to scale the mountain, who yearn to become more like Christ, who rely on the Spirit for salvation and sanctification, as we are made anew into the image of the one who saves us. The future of the church depends on the thrill of orthodoxy.
Buy this book. Share this book. Study this book. Rejoice in the thrill of orthodoxy.