Is your orthodoxy bound to the data, or is going to be shaped like a hockey stick, no matter what? In reference to the “Climategate” scandal, Weekend Fisher analogizes:
There is a kind of “orthodoxy” that follows reality wherever it goes. This defines orthodoxy in terms of faithfulness to the original data. If we were talking about global warming, then the reality-oriented orthodoxy would say “warming” if the data warranted it, “cooling” if the data warranted it, or “don’t know” if the data warranted it. Applied to theology, there is a fact-driven orthodoxy in which truth follows things we know with certainty and is shaped by external reality. It is open to new discoveries based on the existing data, if further analysis reveals trends not yet detected.
There is another kind of “orthodoxy” that is ideology-driven; it is so sure that it already knows the overall trend that it reinterprets / adjusts any contrary data to fit that view. In ideology-driven orthodoxy, truth is pre-defined and the data must be changed to fit it. That’s what the linked “Climategate” code did. That’s what the concerned environmentalists accuse “deniers” of doing. An ideology-based orthodoxy is not open to new discoveries, regardless of what the realities may be. In fact, the ideology-based orthodoxy will warp the data and prevent an accurate understanding of it.
Read the whole thing to see where the “hockey stick” fits in. As a former Southern Baptist, I would further observe that hockey sticks are also really handy for beating up on people.