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Author Topic: Calling Eastern Orthodox priests, what books are good for inquirers?  (Read 1192 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 01, 2009, 06:57:02 PM »

Fathers Bless!

What books do you recommend to inquirers BESIDES the works by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and The Truth Series by Clark Carlton.  What is a good English language inquirer book that clearly explains the A B C's of Orthodoxy? 
I have given my brother my copies of Clark Carlton's "The Truth: the roman catholic one" and my slightly older edition of "The Orthodox Church" by Metropolitan Kallistos.  However, I'd like to be able to recommend something different to him.  I borrowed a copy of a Catechism from Light and Life from someone but it's really not what I would consider deep enough in material or complete enough. 
I'm sure I'll get plenty of lay people responses but I'd really like to hear from the Priests on this.
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2009, 07:24:30 PM »

I'm not a priest.

Timothy Ware's "The Orthodox Church," is the classic.  A more recent, short book, but an excellent orientation is "Orthodoxy 101," by Fr. Evagoras Constatinidis.  Somewhat out of date, but written so that one w/a Western/American perspective can relate, is Fr. Anthony Coniaris' "Introducing the Orthodox Church."
Clark Carlton's books, though superb, are a complex for a neophyte, but you be the judge.

Over the past 35 years, the three presiding priests of my parish have used these books for non-Orthodox spouses who are preparing for marriage in the Orthodox Church, and may not necessarily be preparing for conversion.
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2009, 10:42:23 PM »

What books do you recommend to inquirers BESIDES the works by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware?

What else really matters?  Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2009, 10:57:43 PM »

If one is approaching Orthodoxy from a historical and doctrinal POV (not everyone comes to Orthodoxy this way; would that everyone recognize this fact!) then I would suggest approaching the issue somewhat differently than standard fare. Before delving into Orthodoxy directly, I think it's best to set the stage using materials that use a common language to most Westerners.

1) The Early Church by Chadwick. Succinct treatment of the history of the Church with copious suggestions for further reading. Will help set the stage for the historical development of the Church. We read this in seminary. It's by a famous Anglican author and is a Penguin Classic series work.

2) Pelikan's history of the Church volumes 1 and 2; the first deals with the emergence of the Catholic tradition (universal tradition) and the second the Christian East. It is a very dry work in places but extremely thorough. Pelikan was Lutheran at the time but joined the OCA in 2001ish before he reposed.

3) JND Kelley's Early Christian Doctrines. More of a reference work really--if you can read it cover to cover you are more a scholar than me! But it covers everything in excruciating detail. One could probably omit it but it offers a very deep analysis, albeit dated in places.  Prince Press has an attractive hardcover edition. That can be found cheaper then the ugly bright yellow paperback from time to time. Another famous Anglican author.

Now it's time to read a few basic Orthodox apologetics works to make the transition.

4) Clark Carlton's The Way (Protestants) and The Truth (Roman Catholics).  Generally good and not too polemical, but in his introduction he makes some rather direct statements which while true might be offputing to people still unsure.

What about the other works?

-Maybe Whelton's Two Paths if you are Roman Catholic. Mixed reaction from inquirers though.
-Avoid Dancing Alone by Schaeffer as it is virulent. Besides, he doesn't believe much of what he wrote there anymore anyway.
-Becoming Orthodox by Gilquist and friends is a nice book. Not scholarly at all but gets you in that "rah rah Orthodoxy is such a great Church" mood and makes you want to delve in further.
-Frederica Mathews-Green might appeal to some; she has a book called Facing East. It's a reflective, critical book (both of self and of Orthodoxy's and Protestantism's mode of existence in modern times), with some insight, but often Frederica's comments seemed snotty to me.
-David Dale's Upon this Rock (Regina Press) is a good look at authority in the Church. He actually makes a book about this topic engaging. Bravo to him.

Now that you have understood Orthodoxy in a way common to your background, it's time to dig in and have the mental and spiritual shift.

5) The Mind of the Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Hierotheos.  It's sometimes hard to find but available via interlibrary loan. This book will readjust your whole way of thinking about Orthodoxy.

6) Orthodox Spirituality by Metropolitan Hierotheos.

7) Lossky's Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. Classic work.

Again, this progression would suit a particular kind of person, and not everyone.

Fr Anastasios
« Last Edit: February 01, 2009, 11:09:19 PM by Fr. Anastasios » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2009, 11:13:38 PM »

While not a book, the radio programs (archived, and fully downloadable) produces at www.ourlifeinchrist.com are brilliant, as they are geared to inquirers and prospective converts, though, of course, us Orthodox can't help but learn a lot as well!  Smiley. Thorough, but very easy to listen to.
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