When I was in seminary, my husband and I met with a trusted pastor. We told him how we were savoring our courses in systematics and biblical studies. The conversation then turned toward our personal lives. My husband mentioned that he was struggling to spend time in prayer and that he and I were fighting like cats and dogs.

Our pastor matter-of-factly replied, “You know, you can’t have orthodoxy without orthopraxy.”

We were familiar with this idea, but nonetheless it struck both my husband and me like lightning. We had entered seminary to steep in Scripture and good doctrine, but we needed to be reminded that orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right action) are so essentially entwined that if we neglect one, we lose the other.

Christians champion this unity of belief and action. But they often neglect another key part of faithfulness: orthopathy.

The word denotes right passions or feelings. It names the reality that we as Christians not only profess the truth of Jesus and practice the things he says to practice, but we also endeavor to do all this in the posture of Christ.

Orthopathy involves a redeemed and transformed interior life. This includes our feelings and emotions. But more foundationally, it involves our motivational structure, our longings, and our desires—that which most deeply drives us. The broader goal of orthopathy is that our total disposition would be changed to be more like that of Jesus.

This idea isn’t new. Isaac the Syrian said that virtue is not simply doing the right thing but doing it with “a heart that is wise in what it hopes for, and whose actions are accompanied by right intention.” Augustine told his flock that any study of ...

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A Drink of Light
Tish Harrison Warren
Tish Harrison Warren is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and the author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night (IVP, 2021). Follow her on Twitter @Tish_H_Warren.
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