According to Wikipedia, the word orthodoxy comes from the Greek ortho (right, correct) and doxa (thinking, teaching, glorification). The word is used in reference to correct worship or observance of correct theological doctrines. It is the opposite of heresy and schism. So, to be an Orthodox Christian means to think according to the right teaching, to respect the correct teaching of God, and to glorify God according to that teaching. God uses the term “sound teaching” in the Bible to define orthodoxy. In this article I will present the definition of orthodoxy, or righteous teaching as God presents it to us in Paul’s Epistle to Titus.
The island of Cyprus is the place where the Apostle Paul first preached the gospel and then left Titus, his disciple, there to put “in order what remains to be ordained and to place elders in every city.” So the newly formed churches did not yet have a sufficient number of leaders, and Titus had to take care of the preparation of these leaders and the organization of the life of the churches in Crete, so that they would have a normal and healthy growth.
ORTHODOXY is the Word of God written in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments
Listing the criteria by which Titus was to choose the bishops (overseers, leaders) of the churches in Crete, the Apostle Paul says:
For the overseer must be beyond reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not overindulging in wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, self-controlled, righteous, holy, disciplined, holding firmly the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. (Titus 1:7-9 NASB)
The word of God is the Bible, or the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Right or orthodox teaching is that which is in complete agreement with the Word of God, and if a teaching or doctrine contradicts what is written in the Bible, it can no longer be qualified as orthodox. So, according to this verse, it is not the church that determines what is and what is not Orthodoxy, but how that teaching fits or does not fit with the Holy Scriptures. The Bible is the norm and criterion of Orthodox faith and teaching.
ORTHODOXY IS NOT any teaching or doctrine of human origin that contradicts the Holy Scriptures.
In the rest of the Epistle, the Apostle Paul speaks of people who have deviated from Orthodoxy, that is, from the teaching of God’s Word, and here is what he says about them:
For there are many rebellious people, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of dishonest gain. (Titus 1:10-11 NASB)
This passage shows us why some people abandon the Word of God and preach things they should not teach. Paul goes on to tell Titus how to deal with those people and what to teach Christians in Crete.
This testimony is true. For this reason reprimand them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. (Titus 1:13-14 NASB)
Orthodoxy is the doctrine that is according to the Word of God, that is, the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This is the sound teaching that, being preached and taught in the churches, makes the Christian to be and remain sound in the faith and to inherit eternal life.
Orthodoxy is not any other doctrine that does not fit or contradict the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. These doctrines are not orthodox because they are not based on the Word of God, but on fairy tales or commandments given by people who turn from the truth, that is, from the Word of God. These teachings seriously affect the Christian faith and the eternal fate of the people who follow them.
Study the Holy Scriptures because there is no other way to know the true, that is, Orthodox, doctrine. If you don’t have a Bible, go today and buy one and start studying it. Otherwise, do not be surprised when you follow heresies that are based on human tales and prophecies given by those who turn away from the truth.
Translated by Ina Croitoru