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Author Topic: Eastern Orthodoxy Through Western Eyes  (Read 1985 times) Average Rating: 0
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Mor Ephrem
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« on: May 13, 2003, 11:38:31 PM »

Dear Friends,

Christ is risen!

God willing, the fall semester this year will be my last semester of undergrad, and I'll graduate with a B.A. in religious studies.  As part of the major requirements, I am supposed to take a seminar in religion, where I basically get to work with an advisor on a project of my choice and present it before the faculty or something like that.  I've been thinking of how to do something related to Orthodoxy, and I thought that, to help me get ideas, and for my own edification, it would probably be good if I went to the university library and took out a few books on Orthodox theology; I figure I might find something that particularly interests me.  If not, at least I will have learned a good deal.  

While I was in the library, I found a book that wasn't there the last time I was there, which was only a few weeks ago.  It's written by Donald Fairbairn, and it's called Eastern Orthodoxy Through Western Eyes.  I haven't had much time to leaf through it, but it seems to take a look at Orthodox belief and how it compares to Protestantism.  If you look at the table of contents, it looks like it could be any intro level book on Orthodoxy written by a Protestant looking in, a Protestant who seems to have been a missionary in Orthodox Eastern Europe.  There is a decent bibliography for readers who want to read more, and the notes to the text refer often to books and authors I've been recommended, so that much seems solid.  Even leafing through the body of the text, it seems like a good intro to Orthodoxy and how it is similar and how it differs from Western Christianity, specifically Protestantism.  

But there is an appendix at the end for "Christian Workers in the East" which, from one quick glance, looks like it is offering advice to Protestant missionaries on how to spread their message to Orthodox people.  I don't like that, and I'm wondering if it's just the appendix, or the whole book has that sort of thing running through it.  

Has anyone read the book?  Could anyone offer their thoughts on it?  Or maybe people here would like to read it?  

Here's the Amazon page for it:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0664224970/qid=1052880536/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/102-5976214-6825714?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

« Last Edit: May 13, 2003, 11:40:45 PM by Mor Ephrem » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2003, 10:32:20 AM »

Daniel Clendenin has written similar articles and a book in which he basically judged EOxy using evangelical Protestantism as his standard, concluding that they don't agree. (Duh.) He was being anachronistic as well as theologically wrong. It doesn't seem to occur to such Protestant writers that maybe their standard is a flawed knockoff of what they're criticizing.

Reminds me of my junior-high literature class in which one student (not me) wondered why the captain in an 1800s poem about a sea disaster didn't radio for help! More accurately, it's like comparing great literature like Greek classics - works that first showed the archetypes used in fiction today - or Shakespeare's plays unfavorably to the latest episode of 'Buffy' or 'Charmed'. ('Great movie', said the 1940s teenager after seeing a movie of Hamlet, 'but it was full of clich+¬s!')
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2003, 02:39:57 PM »

Fairbairn's book takes a very two faced approach to Orthodoxy.  In the first few chapters he says some very complimentary things about Orthodoxy and then proceeds to blast it.  The book is endorsed by a seminary professor at Samford University, a Baptist college whose "mission center" primarily sends "missionaries" to Orthodox countries.  That's what kind of book you're dealing with.
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2003, 03:32:58 PM »

Fairbairn's book takes a very two faced approach to Orthodoxy.  In the first few chapters he says some very complimentary things about Orthodoxy and then proceeds to blast it.  The book is endorsed by a seminary professor at Samford University, a Baptist college whose "mission center" primarily sends "missionaries" to Orthodox countries.  That's what kind of book you're dealing with.

Yup, a bunch of sheep stealers.  Remember this?
http://www.namb.net/evangelism/iev/PDF/BB_E_Orthodox_Manual.pdf
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2003, 05:14:02 PM »

Yup, a bunch of sheep stealers.  Remember this?
http://www.namb.net/evangelism/iev/PDF/BB_E_Orthodox_Manual.pdf

Never seen that, but it looks like a condensed version of Fairbairn's book after a quick glance.
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2003, 10:38:54 PM »

 :)Why don't you read Clendenin and Fairbairn and see what they have to say, and then write your paper on what you find to be the most pointed obstacle to accepting the Orthodox faith you find in these authors.  I've only glanced at Fairbairn and having done so find there are other books I'd prefer to read.  I read Clendenin when I was first being introduced to Orthodoxy.  I found it, for the most part, a very balanced presentation.  

Later, Clendenin wrote an article in Christianity Today on "Why I am not Orthodox."   But he didn't really answer the question, and one wonders what he thought he was trying to do there.  I e-mailed him once about that, and only got back the reply that he preferred the distinctives of the Reformation and the Protestant tradition, or something like that.  

Maybe there's something about people who have actually been in some "Orthodox" countries not being as willing to accept Orthodoxy as we who grew up on in  Western Evangelicalism.   You might ask why that is the case.  

Blessings on finding a topic.  That's often the hardest part.
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2003, 05:25:31 PM »


I haven't quite read the whole thing but...  Shocked Describing the church as "gingerbread" how quaint.  Roll Eyes Think Span read Hansel and Grettle (sp?) once too many times?

I have also heard of missionaries erecting churches in villages under the guise of "rebuilding" they looked liked orthodox churches replete with onion dome and an "iconless" iconostasis.

I read Fairburns book this summer, I felt his points were confused at best.  It's a big "Look at me I'm right and your not".  It's worth the read, soley for the point view. It helped me to understand my opponent.


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