Evangelican Conversions to Eastern Orthodoxy

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yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Many have commented on the rash of conversions to the Church of Rome. Perhaps this is a problem that affects Anglicans more then other Protestants but I have noticed a large number of men going over to Orthodoxy. Some of the Eastern Orthodox groups have facilitated this by allowing the liturgical use of a Western Rite that closely resembles the historic Anglican Book of Common Prayer liturgy.

Some of the men I have talked with who have made this move point to the mysticism of the Eastern Church as resolving a number of issues for them. This movement would not seem to be related to Shephard or the New Perspective on Paul stuff that has played a role in some departures for the Church of Rome.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
The focus on mysticism is interesting. Most of the converts I have read about focus more on the ecclesiology and historicity. They rightly want to be apart of the original church founded by Christ.

Frankly, in this regard they have some good points with respect to evangelicalism. I have been reading D.g. Hart's Deconstructing Evangelicalism and he traces the major points of evangelicalism and looks at how it has affected the shape of conservative Protestantism.

Evangelicalism has largely replaced Protestant orthodoxy with a very shallow theology. This was intentional, as it was an appeal to the lowest common denominator of Conservative Protestantism. Evangelicalism was developed as an action coalition to respond to issues of the day, including inerrancy, prohibition, and abortion.

Further, biblical ecclesiology and a high view of the church and church life was replaced with an emphasis on the individual. A distrust of of "the Church" (meaning the institution) arose out of the losses of the fundamentalist battles of the early 20th century and the slipage into apostasy of the mainline denomination. Needing organization, evangelicalism created an informal association of parachurch organizations not within the control or supervision of denominations or churches. Rather, they tended to be dominated by "evangelical celebrities" who were unaccountable to church authorities.

Commitment to the Church is very low these days. A high percentage pf people move in and out of churches effortlessly. It is understandbale for classic Protestants and others to want something more, something that is actually biblical. I certainly do.

Orthodoxy claims to offer this. Whether it produces it is another issue (more later).

Scott
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Among others, I have read articles and books and listened to tapes by Frank Schaeffer (Francis Schaeffer's son), perhaps the best-known evangelical convert to Orthodoxy. He has venom for all things evangelical. Anyway, he denounces evangelicalism for being shallow, ahistorical, unbiblical, and as failing to produce society-changing results.

What is interesting are his post-conversion criticisms of Orthodoxy (see his Letters to Father Aristotle, for example). While he believes that Orthodoxy is biblical and historical, its practical effects seems to be similar to his experience with evangelicalism. He charges that most Orthodox parishes tend to be ethnic enclaves that are mostly interested in preservation of ethnic indenties. They have the same trouble keeping their children from secularism and leaving the Church that evangelicals do. Their focus on ethnicity makes them overlook moral or theological concerns for people of their own ethnicity. A good example is their treatment of politicians in spite of his policy shortcomings. Pro-abortion Dukakis was lauded by Greek Orthodox, as he was Greek. George Stephanopolous was the same way. The supposedly pure monks of Mt. Athos said a liturgy for George during the Lewinsky scandal.

Anyway, Schaeffer seems to derive intellectual benefits from Orthodoxy (being part of a historical church, for example) but the moral dimension seems little different.

Scott
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
That's interesting about Frank Schaeffer. I had heard something about a while back, but my exposure to the writings of Frank and Francis is limited. Francis was an evangelical Protestant, correct? Does the son then repudiate his father's religion?

A broader question: Should we as Reformed Protestants view the Eastern Orthodox Church in the same vein as the Roman Catholic Church (ie., apostate)? If not, what are the reasons for the distinction?

I'm curious as to people's thoughts because this issue has been recently recently by friends of mine. As a former Roman Catholic, I know how bad Rome is, but I am less informed about Constantinople.
 

Abd_Yesua_alMasih

Puritan Board Junior
Does anyone have a webpage with a clear layout of Eastern Orthodox theology from a reformed perspective? I am not very used to it except for seeing it on tv and a few friends who were adherants.

The one person I really talked to about it was earlier this year while on campus. He said he could not understand why we in the west take religion so seriously when back in Greece his family (which were 'very' religious being priests etc...) took Christianity only as a culture and would go to church on sunday etc... and that was about it. I am not sure how many people he speaks for - he was only talking about his town and society he was from.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Eastern Orthodoxy in practice partakes of most of the errors of the Church of Rome. They have not officially rejected the doctrine of salvation sola fides so they are not officially committed to that error. In practice most do not differ from Rome.
In my experience I have known some who areso mystical you don't know where they fall out.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
[quote:f5ee4573e2="VirginiaHuguenot"]That's interesting about Frank Schaeffer. I had heard something about a while back, but my exposure to the writings of Frank and Francis is limited. Francis was an evangelical Protestant, correct? Does the son then repudiate his father's religion?
[/quote:f5ee4573e2]

Although I only know a little about Franky Schaeffer, he doesn't so much repudiate his father's heritage as he does embrace the [i:f5ee4573e2]cultural[/i:f5ee4573e2] aspect of Eastern Orthodoxy. That is really sad, given one of the tangents of his father's ministry. Schaeffer longed to see a cultural renaissance in protestantism; it is too bad his son couldn't carry it out.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Franky has a disdain for all things evangelical, including Francis' religion. In fact he satirically lambasts his family (especially his father) in his novels Portofino and Saving Grandma, which are parodies of his childhood experience. For example, the family runs L'Arche (a parody of L'Bri).

Here are descriptions of the books:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A...69013/sr=ka-1/ref=pd_ka_1/103-1850217-9231838

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A...69013/sr=ka-2/ref=pd_ka_2/103-1850217-9231838
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
[quote:f4da758a3a="Scott"]Franky has a disdain for all things evangelical, including Francis' religion. In fact he satirically lambasts his family (especially his father) in his novels Portofino and Saving Grandma, which are parodies of his childhood experience. For example, the family runs L'Arche (a parody of L'Bri).

Here are descriptions of the books:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A...69013/sr=ka-1/ref=pd_ka_1/103-1850217-9231838

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A...69013/sr=ka-2/ref=pd_ka_2/103-1850217-9231838[/quote:f4da758a3a]

Wow, in reading the book reviews it seems pretty clear that Franky is lampooning his own family and religious heritage. What a shame!
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
[quote:49d5ae097d="Scott"]Franky has a disdain for all things evangelical, including Francis' religion. In fact he satirically lambasts his family (especially his father) in his novels Portofino and Saving Grandma, which are parodies of his childhood experience. For example, the family runs L'Arche (a parody of L'Bri).

Here are descriptions of the books:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A...69013/sr=ka-1/ref=pd_ka_1/103-1850217-9231838

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/A...69013/sr=ka-2/ref=pd_ka_2/103-1850217-9231838[/quote:49d5ae097d]

Wow, in reading the book reviews it seems pretty clear that Franky is lampooning his own family and religious heritage. What a shame!
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Yeah, I understand his sisters especially are pretty upset about the books. In his tapes and books, he is clearly an angry person.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Andrew: On another thread you mentioned something about your conversion from Catholicism. Could you give you testimony on this? I, for one, would be very interested in how this came about.

Thanks
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
[quote:b68cd42312="Scott"]Andrew: On another thread you mentioned something about your conversion from Catholicism. Could you give you testimony on this? I, for one, would be very interested in how this came about.

Thanks[/quote:b68cd42312]

Hi Scott, Since you asked, I will be glad to give you a short version of the story (although I apologize in advance if it's more info than you wanted). To God be the glory! I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, albeit a very liberal one. I got mixed messages about religion growing up. My father is an atheist who teaches evolution at a college in New York state. My mother was Roman Catholic, but is now a member of the PCUSA. She sees little difference between the two. I remained a Catholic by conviction until I arrived at college. While there I joined the Bahai Faith for a year. The reasons behind this change are a bit superficial, I must say (there was a girl involved). This religion however, while appealing to my modern mindset, did not fulfill me. I even wrote a poem at the time: "I left the Pope/I took the dope/I have no hope..." Then, by the grace of God and the witness of Christians on campus who were generally associated with parachurch ministries, I experienced a conversion to evangelical Christianity. The writings of C.S. Lewis were influential, but it was a particular verse that I could not reconcile with the Bahai Faith (John 14:6: "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me"). That verse is contray to the general Bahai teaching of progressive revelation by prophets. I chose to accept the word of Christ over the word of Bahá'u'lláh. At the time, if asked to explain the gospel, I could only do so in Arminian, evangelical terms because I had never heard anything else. I attended a non-denominational Bible church and served as a sexton there. In the church library, I found a copy of Calvin's [u:b68cd42312]Institutes[/u:b68cd42312]. I read (devoured) the entire book in three weeks as I travelled alone in Germany by train. I began to look into predestination. I also found that my political views coincided with a group known as the Scottish Covenanters. The Lord used these things to lead me in the direction of Reformed Christianity. I was introduced to a psalm-singing PCA church in North Carolina by a cousin and a friend. I got reacquainted with my cousin providentially at the very time I was learning about Reformed Christianity (he was already there) and we found that our experiences growing up and coming to faith in Christ were similar. The experience of embracing the Reformed Faith and leaving evangelical Arminianism behind was for me like a second conversion. I have since been a member in the PCA, a member and deacon in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and currently, am a member in the Presbyterian Reformed Church. To sum up, the Lord has brought me through different religions and churches to a place where I see that Christ alone is "the way, the truth and the life." That's my little testimony to God's wonderful grace in my life.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Scott:
Thanks for filling me in on Franky Schaeffer; I didn't know he was that far off.

Andrew:
Wow! I really enjoyed that. I found it interesting in your part on the Scottish Covenanters. I came to the Reformed Faith via the Puritans and always held a deep appreciation for the political views of the Scots, even if I had not yet embaced their Presbyterianism.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Hey Jacob,

I have often contemplated the "coming together" of Puritans and Covenanters at the Westminster Assembly. To me, the standards arising from the Assembly's work reflect the godliness and genius as well as harmony of those two remarkable groups. The WCF is a true testimony to the unity of the brethren, both then and now.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Amen!

I didn't start studying the Confession until recently and I am amazed at the sheer logical precision and balance that went into it.

BTW, do you know how the assembly came up with the answer to the question, What is God?

Legend has it that after much debate, they called upon George Gillespie to pray. He opened his prayer, "O God, Thou who art a Spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable..." and so the question was solved.

I don't know if it is true or not. I found it in WIll Barker's Puritan Profiles.
 
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