I was an enthusiastic and on-fire-for-the-Lord Southern Baptist as a teenager. I was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and somewhat active in Campus Crusade for Christ. By family heritage and infant baptism I was a Lutheran, however, and ultimately wound up returning to the Lutheran Church as an adult.
1. What first brought Orthodoxy to your attention?
I took a trip to Russia, where I met a Russian Orthodox priest named Father Aleksandr. I was deeply impressed by the goodness, holiness, and kindliness of the man, who seemed to glow (honestly). Whenever I write about him and read my descriptions later, they always strike me as woefully inadequate. Fr. Aleksandr had a saintliness about him I had never experienced before. I could honestly feel my blood pressure drop when I was in his presence.
I don't want my impression of Fr. Aleksandr to sound like hero-worship. I know he is merely a man and capable of sin like anyone else. But he is largely the reason I decided to investigate the Orthodox Church.
A year later I was back in Moscow and was surprised when I met an Orthodox nun at the Pokrovsky Monastery who made the same impression of goodness and holiness on me - Sister Concordia. To meet a second such person just floored me.
2. What were some pivotal books/articles you may have read on your journey?The Way: What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox Church
, by Clark Carlton;The Orthodox Church
, by Timothy Ware;Introducing the Orthodox Church
, by Anthony Coniaris;Becoming Orthodox
, by Peter Gillquist;Dancing Alone
, by Frank Schaeffer (son of Protestant theologian Francis Schaeffer);Sola Scriptura
, a pamphlet by John Whiteford;Apostolic Succession
, a pamphlet by Gregory Rogers (both pamphlets are available from Conciliar Press
and, last but definitely not least,The Truth of Our Faith
, by the Elder Cleopa Ilie.
A videotape series by Father David Anderson was also extremely influential. It answered a lot of my questions.
3. What was the one or two areas that was your biggest "hold up", so to speak, in embracing Orthodoxy? (and how did you overcome these obstacles?)
The veneration of Mary and the rest of the saints and the use of images in worship.
Reading the Church Fathers helped. I realized that the veneration of the saints and of icons was part of the Church's Apostolic Tradition. Ultimately, I accepted these practices on the authority of the Church. I surrendered the prejudices I had acquired as a Protestant to the teaching authority of the Church He founded.
Now these things are a source of joy and consolation to me.
4. what was it that finally made you decide to seek conversion into the Orthodox faith?
I became convinced that Orthodoxy was the truth and I wanted to experience the fullness of historic Christianity in the communion of the saints.
I am very happy as an Orthodox Christian.