April 29, 2022
It’s all yours today…
August 7, 2017
June 4, 2014
May 24, 2014
Just finished a new book that I would highly recommend, ‘The Eastern Orthodox Church: A New History’ by John Anthony McGuckin (Yale University Press). It is not as urbane as ‘The Orthodox Way’ by Ware, but I think it is much more authentic and informative in its presentation…
Honest question: why should a “squishy evangelical, like myself. (Or other non Orthodox person) read this book? I don’t intend to switch sides (haha) so how would it benefit guys like me?
To learn and understand the faith of 200 million Christians. Additionally, Orthodox theology has more to do with evangelical sensibilities than one might think…
I am thinking of switching so I ordered the Kindle version of the book for $16.99! I know of so many ex- vangecals who now attend Orthodox churches I thought it was time I investigate it.
I feel like I’m always enriched in my Faith when I learn and understand from other branches I’m not necessarily a part of. Doesn’t really matter whether I personally decide to join said group, or not. It’s often been a boon to my faith to realize what another branch of the faith believes, teaches and affirms.
Also, my understanding is that there’ve been any number of evangelicals who’ve become Orthodox over the last several decades. What comes to mind is the Campus Crusade ex-staff like Pete Gillquist, and Jack Sparks. I think there’ve been a new US-based Orthodox denomination or two.
I agree with Duane, that Orthodox theology carries some affinities with evangelicalism. Of course, not with everything. But we both affirm the Creeds and orthodox view of Christology, right?
The benefit comes with understanding that the oldest expression of Christianity has some very different ways of looking at theological issues than the West does.
Without switching “sides” the Orthodox fathers have expanded my theological horizons immensely and deepened my faith considerably…and I’m grateful.
“To learn and understand the faith of 200 million Christians.”
That sounds very weighty, but it also needs to be held in some context. That would similar to saying American evangelicalism should be studied because over 25% of Americans are evangelicals. Numbers mean something, but not to the extent that we sometimes give them.
Our individualistic culture can prevent us from recognizing our communal, ecclesiastical bonds, which I think are important to acknowledge and foster. I did give Orthodoxy some strong considerations about 6-7 years ago, but for a number of reasons that I won’t go into, decided that it was not the right path for me to follow. Orthodox theology still fascinates me, and in some areas seem to make more sense than Western (whether Protestant or Roman Catholic) doctrinal portions of the faith. There is a depth in some Orthodox theology that far exceeds most Western views. That in itself, would be a reason to read this book, at least in my opinion.
I like your second point, that is, the affinity of some doctrines between Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism. I have all heard echos of Orthodoxy in Celtic Christian writings. Systematic work is based on hermeneutical practices and our cultural understandings. Understanding these differences are valuable to further develop our ability to interpret the world around us.
As you might remember, I gave some room to Orthodox practice in one part of my dissertation. Many thanks to Xenia who loaned and gave me some books to get me on my way. What you don’t know is that I exceeded the word limit by several thousand words, and part of that work ended up on the cutting room floor.
All that being said, this sounds like a good primary source to read from.
Could it be said that the practices/expressions of the Faith reflect the civilization in which it exists? ? ?
I consider learning to be a “good” in and of itself, regardless of the particular tradition.
Also, a disclaimer: I knew Fr. McGuckin when he was an external examiner to the theology faculty I was a part of in the UK. He’s a delightful person and his wife is a skilled iconographer…
Paradigm shifts can be a bear. I agree that being only exposed to your own “kind” (theologically) can shut you off from something rich.
Meant to also add that you can start thinking that your tribe/construct/etc has a corner on God’s truth. More than a few times I felt like I was deserting God when I left a particular church for a different one.
“More than a few times I felt like I was deserting God when I left a particular church for a different one.”
Me too…….. It took awhile, but I finally got over it. Yet there are still those times when the ghosts of teh past still haunt me……………..
For myself, being exposed to other traditions – Orthodox, RC, Reformed, Lutheran, evangelical, etc. – has made me a better Anglican…
Could it be said that the practices/expressions of the Faith reflect the civilization in which it exists? ? ?
Why, sure, Em. A certain point. Of course.
But, “to a certain extent. After a point, if the faith is only associated with a particular cultural/ideological expresssion, that’s called folk religion.
When the local faith expression occurs without regard to other expressions of the Faith, you’ve crossed the line into idolatry.
It’s easy to spot this in totalitarian regimes, especially on the Right (on the left, they basically
shut the church down, such as Stalin did). The German church under Hitler replaced the Jesus of the Bible with the Jesus of the Aryans. I’ve read some of this stuff, and it’s absolutely
This kind of folk religion also runs parallel to empire…when a certain faith or expression of that faith attempts to conquer subjects and convert them to that, the “only” faith. Most branches of Christendom have been guilty of this in the past, and some in the present.
White American folk religion is a present thing, too…see this CT article.
pstrmike….whew! Glad I am not the only one who experienced that!
Does that say more about who I am and my internal conversations, versus the church I left? Could be.
“Does that say more about who I am and my internal conversations, versus the church I left? ”
It probably says something about both. I often wonder what came first, the internal conversations, or the external? I was reading Eugene Peterson’s writings on the Psalms where he believed that our prayers are always a response to the God who has already spoken.
Thanks, bob1, to a certain exrent… 😉
Thanks for the discussion regarding my question. I agree that exposure to different expressions of faith is good.
A tribute to a very good boy…
I went on amazon and found this book. Looking at the table of context, the first three chapters alone are worth the price of admission. It’s $17 on Kindle, and I’ll probably pick it up and add to the ever increasing stack of books that I am attempting to get through. I hope I don’t die soon, too many books to read 😉
If you are talking about the McGuckin book, the last chapter on the Nicene Creed is very good…
Eastern Orthodoxy… or eastern orthopraxy… all done with god on their side, and it is a historically immutable dumpster fire, a tradition of blood. At some point, people have to hold traditions to their track record rather than their claims.
And I will say it again, what good is a cup of coffee with “only a little” arsenic in it?
Which reminds me, I turned to tradition once, and then was faced with the reality of how the Anglican Church came to be. The reasons why the split happened from the Roman Orthodox according to Henry VIII has nothing to do with pure intent. He just wanted out of a marriage… and the rest is history.
“Killing in the name of…”
(Rage Against The Machine, 1991)
Sorry, but this is “old news”. The historians I know are pretty honest (in some cases, brutally honest) about origin stories and histories…
BTW, love Tom Morello…😁
Then I am vexed…
I do not comprehend tipping one’s hat to traditions that were founded on unadulterated evil. My mind wanders to understanding the biblical emphasis on foundations. One could say the god uses evil for good, but even god does not display much in the way of glorification for this. One could say the foolish builds his house upon the sand.
What I have had it with, even in my own political persuasion, is the corruption of good to inflict evil, and history proves the evil is glorified because of the good. Always.
My answer to this is Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, my god even Jim Jones
Maybe you can explain to me why there is good to be found in the foundations of evil? I don’t ask in jest, or even with an altered motive, because I truly want to know why evil becomes good, tradition, religion, foundation, and even orthodox becomes justifiable in light of pure foundations of wickedness?
Again, Gott Mit Uns inscribed on the belt buckles of those who attempted to wipe out another religious tradition, and still both are glorified to this day, and even brings wrath on those who don’t
It’s really pretty simple.
Humans have a sin nature that corrupts every attempt at organization at some point.
Humans also bear the image of God, so we try to overcome our propensity toward evil with varying amounts of success and failure.
I make the good my ideal and live in constant awareness of the snake not far from my mind.
When I look at the first centuries of the Church compared to the imperial/monarchial church and its abuses, I see the root of evil being the pursuit of power…
Michael, none of my examples did the same. And the list goes on…
Again, foundational awareness is critical to understanding one’s current path. For example, slavery in this “god born” nation. Reverend Wright had it right, god damn this nation. The genocide of indigenous is alone a “foundation” that is passed over because god…
Duane, a fair point
The genocide of the natives wasn’t passed over because of God…it was accepted that the indigenous were collateral damage to the greater goal of the collection of wealth.
Human history is rife with this sort of evil…and a cursory read of the Scriptures informs us that God has nothing to do with it.
On the other hand…the prophets and Jesus condemn such and have informed how I live my life…though I have not been immune to evil, either…
Humans may have a “history”, but without a god on their side, none of it would have happened. I don’t believe this is debatable. Look to atrocities, question why, the answer is always there. The very foundations of human tradition are shaped by the notion that god is with us. This is why my hero literary author penned the book “God Is Not Great”.
Jesus is not the point. Nobody ever listened to him. Not then, not now. Indeed, you are right, god speaks against these things, but at the end of the day for billions of dead, it did not matter. Those voices don’t get to speak when we praise Eastern Orthopraxy. They just don’t. Because you have a gold calf to exalt. The same gold calf that never knew you.
I can not fathom a world in which I align with this sort of ignorant and pretentious evil. It’s why I choose to never be associated with its sort again. I will never walk through it’s doors, never sing it’s praises, never extol it’s virtues, because it’s foundations are pure hatred and evil.
Those virtues are attempting the genocide of an entire race today. This very day. Today. Not in the past. Eastern Orthodoxy is standing behind genocide today.
Mayday, mayday, mayday…… 😚
Your assumption is that without religion, the atrocities wouldn’t’t have happened.
That’s a stretch…because history shows us the real reason behind the atrocities was a thirst for power and wealth, not a said faith in a deity.
What the Russian church is doing is blasphemous and evil…but much of Orthodoxy is opposing them and many are trying to care for the victims…
Birds aren’t real.
Pass it on.
Birds aren’t real… that’s hilarious. And also someone has too much time on their hands…
That’s funny. Area 51 or bust..
Some of us do have too much time on our hands.
I listen to a lot of sermons, read commentaries, listen occasionally to radio talk shows.Amazing to me are the different views, and interpretations and applications of scripture. Most are used in support an established view or perspective. The more I listen to these guys and read, the more I wonder if the post modernist are right; There is no truth!! Just opinion and interpretation. (FYI I am being cynical. It’s my spiritual gift!)
I look at so many factions of American Christianity alone, and wonder how we have not turned into Ireland of the not so distant past. When I was a preacher, I truly believed there was a real truth, one that could be found if I studied hard enough. The only truth I found to be biblically impenetrable is the concept of the absolute wickedness and unacceptable nature of humanity to god. Of course this is the entire enchilada when it comes to soteriology. Because nobody is righteous, no, not one, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of god, because the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, we have been forced to believe that only a god can reconcile us to him. I have found this to be the most abusive concept of scripture.
I have two books right now that I am slowly absorbing. Both are written by Universalists. I don’t yet know how they can fight the entirety of church tradition, but they give me a glimmer of hope.
I think I am able to recognized what’s true and important. As a pastor I do my best to stay true to the context. But the abuse of scripture by some to promote an agenda is disturbing. No wonder people scoff at those “crazy Christians.”
Although there are some wack jobs out there I haven’t lost my faith. Still hanging in there—doubts and all
I am trying to hang in there. Forcing it to a degree.
I have been soaking Travis Meeks latest work. It has me floored. When he came onto the scene, all things changed. Face of the Earth, Shelf in a Room, they altered what lyrical expression was. He was stricken with addiction and pain. Why is it that the best artists are all in the same boat, oppressed with mental illness and disparities with normal human function? Yet… hearing the cries of those like me, not the woes of the church, it has given me hope for another path. Sometimes I find that there is no truth because the human experience is so vastly different from one human to another. If this is god ordained, it’s a truth in and of itself that can be banked on.
Listen to “Limited Eyes” by Travis. I cried uncontrollably the first 20 times.
Dear Reuben, may God bless you and your family and may your search result in peace.
I know many of you are quite negative about Eastern Orthodoxy right now, and I understand this. Here’s what I think: We are drawing towards the end of this Age, and Satan is using his wiles to tempt Christians, and succeeding many times. He’s got a personalized temptation for each church:
For the Catholics, he tempts them with sexual perversion and liberal theology.
For the Evangelicals, he tempts them with an affinity for extreme politics and nationalism.
For the mainstream churches, he tempts them with liberalism, both cultural and theological.
And for the Orthodox, he tempts us also with nationalism.
It is the job of us individual Christians to avoid these temptations and pray for our leadership.
And that’s probably all I will have to say on this topic.
“Why is it that the best artists are all in the same boat, oppressed with mental illness and disparities with normal human function? Yet… hearing the cries of those like me, not the woes of the church, it has given me hope for another path. ”
I have pondered that same question without answers. I can speculate, which I won’t do here other than to say that a friend told me that “normal” is simply a setting on a dryer.
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