This post takes me a little while to get there. Bear with me.
In Collapse, Jared Diamond writes about why, after five hundred years, the Viking colony on Greenland died out around 1400. Turns out the Medieval Warm Period ended, it got colder, they couldn’t grow crops or livestock, and they starved to death. Which sucks. What’s fascinating, though, is why they starved to death when the native Inuit did not. It seems that the Vikings starved while surrounded by lakes and streams teeming with a kind of fish that they refused to eat. The Inuit, meanwhile, munched away.
That’s worth repeating: orthodoxy killed them.
There are lots of things Christians today consider orthodox. Not only do their definitions of orthodoxy vary, but many of them are things that were not always orthodox. My guess is that many of them will be things people will not consider orthodox in the future. If my father-in-law went to Greenland, he’d probably eat those same fish the Vikings had declared “unclean” and enjoy it. He wouldn’t think anything of it. That’s the funny thing about orthodoxy- it often changes. That’s true in all cultures, and it’s true in Christianity as well.
I think it’s good to have things for which you are willing to die. The alternative is to have nothing worth dying for, and that doesn’t sound like a very meaningful life. But such a death should accomplish something. Advance the cause, set an example for future generations, imitate Christ…something like that. Today, though, I don’t see so many Christians willing to die for their faith. I do see lots willing to let their faith die, though, and they are willing to let it die for many things they consider orthodox when they’re really just a different kind of fish. That’s all. Just fish, and a couple hundred years from now people will look at ponds teeming with fish and think “Huh. Wonder what the big deal was.” Orthodoxy matters, but what’s most important is to be orthodox about the right things. Or it will kill us, and like the Vikings in Greenland, our death won’t accomplish a thing.