October 25, 2020

Paleo-Orthodox Baptists?: A Recommendation For My Readers

Wyman Richardson is doing something important. He’s exploring ways to relate his Baptist faith to the larger, ancient, “paleo-orthodox” Christian tradition. I think he’s onto something important, and I want my readers to check it out. Here’s a list of the current posts. More will be coming, so blogroll his site.

1. Excursions Into A Proposed Baptist Paleo-Orthodoxy, Part I: Introduction

2. Excursions Into a Proposed Baptist Paleo-Orthodoxy, Part II: The Olson Affair

3. Excursions Into a Proposed Baptist Paleo-Orthodoxy, Part III: James Leo Garrett, Jr.’s 2004 Union Lecture

4. Excursions Into a Proposed Baptist Paleo-Orthodoxy, Part IV: Article XXXVIII of The Orthodox Creed of 1678

5. Excursions Into A Proposed Baptist Paleo-Orthodoxy, Part V: Confessions of a Baptist Pastor on Pilgrimage

6. Excursions Into A Proposed Baptist Paleo-Orthodoxy, Part VI: Clarifications


  1. What is the “paleo-orthodox” Christian tradition?

  2. Yeah, I would appreciate a bit of a primer before I go diving in and trying to figure out what Wyman is writing about. Sorry for the ignorance 🙂

  3. He’s talking about the first 3-4 centuries of church history. Early Church after the Apostles. Ecumenical creeds/councils.

  4. Interesting thoughts and much to chew on. Thank you for the tip, Michael.


  5. Many thanks to the iMonk for posting this series. I’m going to try to avoid posting here in your comment section because, frankly, I don’t know the rules of etiquette on that kind of thing (being a relatively new blogger and all) and I also don’t won’t to end up in a long discussion here on your site and in your space, Michael. Somehow seems rude to me!

    But I did want to say that some of the feedback I’ve gotten on all of this is encouraging me to try to make this discussion more accessible. Frankly, I started typing about something that interested me with no real thought that it would be read by many people! But I think there’s a real interest in this kind of topic, not just among a lot of (younger?) Baptists, but among evangelicals in general.

    In a nutshell, paleo-orthodoxy (paleo=”ancient”) is a name coined by Thomas Oden to refer to a movement back to ancient orthodoxy. It’s an attempt to listen to the “classical consensus of orthodoxy” (a phrase that could be debated all day and night! i.e., does such even exist?) mainly by listening to the witness of the post-apostolic early church. In other words, it’s trying to pull Evangelicals out of an enslavement to modernity and postmodernity and into an ancient conversation. In many ways, paleo-orthodoxy is just a call for those steeped in modern culture to listen again to what those who were chronologically closest to the mouth of the stream have to say.

    Finally, I think in a very real sense that it’s a way for us to respect our parents, and their parents, and their parents, etc. I think that a lot of our interpretation of the Bible is enslaved to a kind of modern snobbery that is incapable of evaluating our own modern tendencies. Paleo-orthodoxy is just allowing the voices of ancient Christendom to pull up a chair to the evangelical table and enrich us with their presence.

    I think it would be very interesting for somebody to explore the question of how paleo-orthodoxy interacts with the emergent church.

    I would really, really recommend reading Oden’s The Rebirth of Orthodoxy.

    Thanks Michael, and God bless.

  6. It appears that he is attempting to turn an historical mole-hill into a modern mountain.

    He would probably find his task easier if he’d forget the whole paleo thing and developed instead an excursion into a padeo-baptist orthodoxy. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist) 🙂