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"ORTHOPATHY"

In a recent blog, entitled “The Christian Faith,” Kevin Bauder discusses the relationship between correct doctrine, that is “orthodoxy,” fulfillment of the ethical commands of Scripture or “orthopraxy,” and what he terms “orthopathy.” Of the latter he writes:

“The Bible requires not only that we speak truly about God (orthodoxy) and obey Him (orthopraxy), but that we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. …Doctrine is never…an end in itself. The purpose of doctrine is to teach us to love God aright. Obedience is never an end in itself. Obedience is always the overflow of a heart that finds its satisfaction in God rather than idols. In some senses, orthopathy is even more fundamental than orthodoxy and orthopraxy.”

What Dr. Bauder calls “orthopathy,” I have called “orthokardia”—literally “a right heart”—in the past. But I like Dr. Bauder’s term better since it is a better linguistic parallel to “orthodoxy and “orthopraxy.” I suppose “orthopathy” would literally translate as “right affection.” It is a good term for something that Christians of the past, men like John Calvin, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards, knew was vital. As Bauder goes on to state:

“Therefore, anything that misdirects our love will do severe damage to our Christianity. If we are taught not to love God, or to love something more than God, or to love God as a means rather than an end, or to love God with the wrong loves, or to love things that God hates, or to hate things that God loves, or to debase what is lovely, or to love what is base—if we are taught any of these things, then we are doomed to a stunted, shriveled version of Christianity, at best.

“That is why we cannot afford to take casually anything that shapes the affections. This is especially true of those works that are intended to reach the affections through the moral imagination. Such media as music, poetry, art, architecture, theater, and dance are enormously important to the Christian. Either they will propel us forward in the life of faith or they will devastate us.”