Beautiful Orthodoxy: How You've Responded
In February 2015 Christianity Today unveiled Beautiful Orthodoxy, the ministry cause that we believe is necessary to advance the gospel in these confusing—and often discouraging—times. With the world in desperate need of truth, goodness and beauty, we are leading to strengthen the church by richly communicating the breadth of the true, good, and beautiful gospel.
Our editor in chief, Mark Galli, sums it up saying, "We believe our cause at Christianity Today is to point people to the unimaginable beauty of the gospel."
This cause isn't new. It brings clarity to our founder Billy Graham's vision sixty years ago for a publication—a movement—that would take the responsibility of speaking truth in love and be a rallying point for a fractured church. However, the cause is needed now more than ever as we see the direction of the cultural conversations from both outside and inside the church. We can all do better.
We've received a lot of feedback and had common questions over the last 1 ½ years, and I asked Mark Galli to respond to some of these questions:
What is the first reaction when you describe Beautiful Orthodoxy?
Most people are intrigued and react, "Yes, we need this!" but quickly want to know more. Beautiful Orthodoxy gets people's interest. Then we go deeper, explaining how it is a response to two problems: ugly orthodoxy and attractive heresy—truth spoken in shrill and unloving ways, or falsehood spoken in winsome and compelling fashion.
How has Beautiful Orthodoxy changed things at Christianity Today?
Beautiful Orthodoxy is actually a restatement of what we have championed for many decades, when we used phrases like "irenic journalism" and "speaking the truth in love." This emphasis has shaped what topics we tackle, the issues we advocate, who writes for us, and the tone of our articles. We want to also live out Beautiful Orthodoxy outside of work, and we pray that tens of thousands of Christian leaders who interact with our offerings will do as well. There isn't a day that goes by in the halls of Christianity Today where you don't hear or see Beautiful Orthodoxy.
How are others responding?
We've had opportunities to talk about Beautiful Orthodoxy in many settings—at Christian college leaders, roundtables and forums, and in several gatherings with our long-term subscribers and friends. Recently, I attended the National Hispanic Leadership Conference in Anaheim, where the leaders, while calling for energetic efforts in the public square regarding religious freedom, cautioned the conference leadership to do so in the spirit of Beautiful Orthodoxy, specifically referencing Christianity Today.
Are you more focused on "orthodoxy" than you are on loving people who are different than you?
No, because Beautiful Orthodoxy is about both truth and love. To proclaim truth without love is a denial of orthodoxy, which is about the God who is love. At the same time, to love without helping people hear the truth of the gospel denies the truth who is Jesus. Naturally, at times we'll emphasize one or the other, depending on the context, but in the end, it's a both/and emphasis.
What's the difference between the Orthodox Church and Beautiful Orthodoxy?
When we use the word orthodoxy, we're referring to what Christians all over the globe have generally believed and lived consistently since the early church—often referred to as classic Christian orthodoxy. It is not a reference or comparison to the Eastern Orthodox Church traditions.
Can you say more about what you mean by the true, good, and beautiful gospel?
You'll have to wait for my forthcoming book, Beautiful Orthodoxy. But by way of summary, we believe Jesus Christ is ultimate truth, goodness, and beauty, and anything we say about these three words is reflected in his life and ministry. Truth is about what we believe (doctrine). Goodness is about how we live our faith (ethics). Beauty is the tone and context in which we believe and live our faith.
How has Beautiful Orthodoxy played out in the pages of CT magazine and your other ministry brands?
We hope every article and podcast we publish will reflect Beautiful Orthodoxy. But a couple of recent articles modeled it especially well. "What It's Like to Be Gay at Wheaton College" showed how an orthodox school that affirms biblical sexuality could nonetheless treat a celibate gay student with respect and love. And one of our bloggers, Ed Stetzer, who has serious concerns about Donald Trump, nonetheless cautions anti-Trump evangelicals in an article, "Lord, I Thank Thee That I Am Not like Those Evangelical Trump Supporters."
Cory Whitehead is executive director of communications and development at Christianity Today.