Generous Orthodoxy  

The word ortho-doxy (Greek for "right doctrine") has both positive and negative connotations. In a culture that prizes what is iconoclastic and transgressive, orthodoxy has come to sound constricted and unimaginative at best, oppressive and tyrannical at worst.

The position taken on this website is that we cannot do without orthodoxy, for everything else must be tested against it, but that orthodox (traditional, classical) Christian faith should by definition always be generous as our God is generous; lavish in his creation, binding himself in an unconditional covenant, revealing himself in the calling of a people, self-sacrificing in the death of his Son, prodigal in the gifts of the Spirit, justifying the ungodly and indeed, offending the "righteous" by the indiscriminate nature of his favor. True Christian orthodoxy therefore cannot be narrow, pinched, or defensive but always spacious, adventurous and unafraid.
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Latest News

Preaching conference coming up and open to participants

Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015

Fleming is a principal preacher and workshop leader at a large preaching conference in Toronto, November 2-3. A warm Canadian welcome awaits any Americans—I can personally verify that—and our dollar goes so much farther in Toronto, a delightful city to visit. (As of this writing, maybe the Blue Jays will be in the World Series, as well! Watch out, Yankees….) The web site for the conference is

Fleming's book will appear in November

Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ, will be out by November 15, if not before, from Eerdmans. It can be preordered at a discount from Eerdmans directly, or from Amazon if you must.

Fleming's schedule of preaching and teaching continues, but at a much-reduced pace based partially on ease of travel (car or train greatly preferred). Priority will henceforth be given to opportunities of meeting with students and younger clergy, as well as congregations where she is already known. Some attention will be given to launching her new book.

Recent Ruminations

Marilynne Robinson calls us to our better selves
Saturday, October 3, 2015

It has been a long, long time since The New York Review of Books has published anything overtly, confessionally Christian (they used to, but that was at least 20 years ago. Well, maybe Eamon Duffy counts, but not really, since he writes as a Cambridge historian.) Anyway, all of a sudden here comes the unimpeachable literary icon Marilynne Robinson, who has written an article entitled, simply, FEAR. The first sentence is, "America is a Christian country." She is not being ironic. She is serious. "As a result, we carry a considerable responsibility for its [Christianity's] name in the world, though we seem not much inclined to consider the implications of this fact. If we did, some of us might think a little longer about associating the precious Lord with ignorance, intolerance, and belligerent nationalism."

How many A-list American intellectuals would undertake to confess our "precious Lord" in the ultra-highbrow NYRB? This article is astonishing. (It's acidly funny, too, in spots.)

She states her two basic premises: 1) "...contemporary America is full of fear"; 2) "Fear is not a Christian habit of mind." She elaborates: "Christ is a gracious, abiding presence in all reality, and in him history will finally be resolved."  Wish I'd written that.

The article is illustrated with a photo of a Glock (?) with an American flag tag attached to it, and an image of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry with his gun. Yes, the article is certainly about our gun culture, and it is about French Protestantism, and the United Nations, and various other things, but mostly it is about Christianity in America, and the fear-filled turn it is taking in some quarters (see for instance this link):

Here is an excerpt from the closing section of Marilynne Robinson's piece:
I take very seriously Jesus' teachings, in this case his saying that those who live by the sword will also die by the sword....Death is no simple thing when Jesus speaks of it. His thoughts are not our thoughts, the limits of our perceptions are not limits he shares. We must imagine him seeing the whole of our existence, our being beyond mortality, beyond time. There is that other death he can foresee, the one that really matters. When Christians abandon Christian standards of behavior in the defense of Christianity, when Americans abandon American standards of conduct in the name of America, they inflict harm that would not be in the power of any enemy. As Christians they risk the kind of harm to themselves to which the Bible applies adjectives like "everlasting."
I think this is the first time I have ever urged my readers to read a specific essay. It's short, only two pages. You will probably have to pay to read it, but it's worth it. Here is the link:


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Latest Tips From the Times

The spiritual wisdom of Donald Trump
Sunday, September 13, 2015

I tore this out of the New York Times one day this week and forgot to note the date. I won't take the time to look it up. Here's the salient portion:

Mr. Trump, observes the writer of the article, is not in favor of the time-honored virtue of self-reflection. He once told Time magazine, "When you start studying yourself too deeply, you start seeing things that maybe you don't want to see."

Somehow I doubt if Mr. Trump has the slightest idea that, in one sentence, he has defined the human condition.

It's the opposite of New Age spiritual thinking where we are urged to go inside and find that place of peace in our inner core. When John Calvin taught what has unfortunately become known as "total depravity," he never meant that the human person is totally depraved in the sense that we would mean today. He meant, rather,  that there was no pristine component of the self that was untouched by the Powers of Sin and Death.

The Donald states that he "goes to church" and is a Presbyterian (he used to attend Marble Collegiate, actually). He receives "the little wine,"he says, and eats "the little cracker." But he has stated recently that he can't think of anything he needed to be forgiven for. I wonder if he'd grown up with the Episcopal General Confession ("we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts") it would have made any difference. Probably not. But at least he has said this one true thing, even if he doesn't realize it.

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