Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy and Orthopathy

by | Mar 28, 2022 | Faith, Family, Writing and Reading | 6 comments |

You can’t have orthodoxy without orthopraxy.

While thumbing through the March issue of Christianity Today last week, I came upon this article and quote from Tish Harrison Warren: “… orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right action) are so essentially entwined that if we neglect one, we lose the other.” Love God, love others. Orthodoxy with orthopraxy. Belief and action.

I thought about my younger self, the atheist who believed she could have practice orthopraxy without orthodoxy. That is, flaunting my “I’m too smart to believe in God” posture while chalking up good deeds. Until I realized without orthodoxy, “right actions” are tainted by self-righteousness, rationalizations, and excuses. Pride.

You can’t have orthopraxy without orthodoxy.

I was a freeloading hypocrite for the first forty years of my life. But when I looked in the mirror after my first marriage failed, I discovered I counted on those who followed the Law to set the standard of good behavior, that which I wanted for my children. As I wrote in a post two years ago, the Law’s curb tells us what to do and what not to do; the mirror allows us see our transgressions and repent; the guide helps us to walk in the light. But without God, there is no morality, just personal preference. My rules and little admission of shortcomings. 

I was not walking in the light. As an atheist, I did not love God at all. Though I tried to do good, I often came off as a fraud, a hypocrite. I wanted to love others on my terms. Self-righteous orthopraxy.

You can’t have orthopraxy without orthopathy.

If I wanted righteous orthopraxy—right action in myself and a model for my children—I decided I’d better stop freeloading and embrace orthodoxy. That was thirty years ago. But while reading Tish Harrison Warren’s article, I discovered the name for a third quality I’d avoided years ago but have worked on for the past decade: orthopathy. 

According to Warren, orthopathy “… names the reality that we as Christians not only profess the truth of Jesus and practice the things he says to practice, but we also endeavor to do all this in the posture of Christ.”

Orthopathy goes to the heart of walking in the light. Having a redeemed and transformed life “… comes through years of repentance and deep union and communion with God,” according to Warren.  

Profession, practice, and posture. I set the article aside and prayed. “Dear Lord, I have a long way to go.” Then I picked up my Bible and read Paul’s letter to the Philippians 1:3-6.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It’s not where He starts with you, but where you finish in Him.

Other posts about Tish Harrison Warren:

https://caroleduff.com/2021/05/10/she-was-my-mother-she-is-a-mother-she-is-me/ – Prayer in the Night

Warren’s thoughts on Advent: https://caroleduff.com/2019/12/02/o-come-o-come-emmanuel/


  1. Bruce Cooper

    It’s not where He starts with you, but where you finish in Him. Good realization Carole, and that is a truth for all of us. Blessings!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, Bruce, and for sharing your insights with us. -C.D.

  2. Gary Fultz

    Great post Carole. I’m saving this to reread and put those 3 words in my journal. looks like 3 strands all different to complete the same thing

    • Carole Duff

      I’m glad to know that you found the post helpful. Highly recommend Tish Harrison Warren’s writing.-C.D.

  3. Linda

    Big words and important truth. Without God’s guidance, none of us knows how to walk. I’m so thankful for your testimony of God’s faithfulness in drawing you to Himself. Bless you, Carole!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for your encouragement, Linda. -C.D.


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