Christian Orthodoxy: A Layman’s Perspective -- By: C. H. McGowen

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 12:1 (Winter 2003)
Article: Christian Orthodoxy: A Layman’s Perspective
Author: C. H. McGowen


Christian Orthodoxy: A Layman’s Perspective

C. H. McGowen, M.D.

Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “There is nothing so ugly as a Christian Orthodoxy without understanding and without compassion.” No one would doubt Shaeffer’s allegiance to the doctrines of the Reformed faith and yet his caveat gives me pause when I reflect upon my own dogmatism and zealous teaching in the past, based upon some very strong convictions in matters of election, effectual calling, and eternal security. The “pause,” however, in no way alters my convictions but merely the manner in which I now present them.

I shall first discuss my earliest introduction to “correct [ortho] opinion [doxa] “and then consider the ugliness that I have found being reflected by some members of the Body of Christ. Next I will proceed to a discussion of our Lord’s call for compassion among the flock in our dealings with other sheep and finally conclude with some thoughts of my own.

Orthodoxy and Understanding

I was never a stranger to the Church, at least not in body. For as long as I can remember, my “tent” (2 Corinthians 5:1) was found in some pew or other on the Lord’s Day. I was catechized and baptized at the age of twelve. I sang in the choir, attended, and later taught, Sunday school and even rose to

the elected position of elder. Thus for the first thirty-four years of my life I appeared to be, and was in fact, a member of the visible Church. My life was however, within my sin-darkened soul, a profound contradiction. I was what you might call a “practical atheist”; I believed in God but lived as though he didn’t exist.

That all changed on June 28, 1970, when through a series of temporally misfortunate, yet eternally fortunate circumstances I was born again; that is, our God who is rich in mercy made me alive when I was dead in my trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:4–5). He made his light shine into my sin-darkened soul so that I could “see” (John 3:3) and have the “knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

From the very moment of my new birth the Lord placed within my heart and mind an intense desire to study and diligently search the Scriptures so that I might “understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:5). That deep passion for truth has continued unabated to this day, and has found a satisfying and comfortable home in the doctrines...

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