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Author Topic: From Presbyterian To Orthodoxy  (Read 1766 times) Average Rating: 0
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tangentdi
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« on: December 24, 2011, 05:12:59 AM »

Hello all,
     So this question isn't for me, its for my Girlfriend. I'm a cradle Orthodox (or near enough) but my Girlfriend is Presbyterian (PCA). She has been asking me to explain a few challenging things about Orthodoxy and why it disagrees so strongly with Calvinism. I've tried very hard to find any sort of debate or comparison of the doctrines of the two religions but the closest I've gotten is a series of podcasts by Father Andrew Steven Damig called "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" Which I love but I cant get her to listen too. I've tried on my own to explain the basic beliefs and Doctrines of the Orthodox church but I'm young and though I've read much about the church and tried to do research on the major christian denominations in in America Im no scholar and I'm worried about making a major error.
     Now she has shown much interest in the church aside from learning the actual beliefs. she often comes with me to church during the week and most weekends, often times comming with me to all 5 services. However I get the sense that her interest is largely in the Physical beauty of the church.
     My questions are these:
1. Does anyone know of a few good Essays or lectures I could show to her?
2. How should I explain such alien concepts as Theosis and the Nous to her, she has asked but I'm not quite sure how to explain.
3. How should I approach talking to her about this?

I've talked to the preist at my church but I'd like to get a few opinions from those who have been in similar situations, so any advice would be very welcome

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TD Andreis

TD Andreis
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Clare G.
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2011, 06:12:38 AM »

She might prefer reading Fr Stephen Damick to listening to him. His blog http://roadsfromemmaus.org/ has links to reviews of his book and to the book itself Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy.

But don't push her into any reading if she doesn't feel inclined. It's wonderful that she's coming to those services with you, but are they in a language she understands? If so, the services themselves, especially Matins/ Orthros, over time will be the best explanation of Orthodox teaching she could have. So her mind is being fed at the same time as her soul is nourished by the sheer beauty surrounding her, and she is surrounded by all the saints depicted in the icons supporting her learning.

All of us are inadequate in explaining what we believe at a conceptual level. Sidestep the discussions and keep going to the services together. Introduce her to the priest and leave the hard questions to him to deal with.  And trust God to lead her in the way He knows is best for her. We all follow different paths to Him.
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2011, 11:46:49 AM »

2. How should I explain such alien concepts as Theosis

Biblicially speaking, partaking of the divine nature, being transformed by the renewing of the mind, and being conformed to the image of God's Son. Not exactly in depth and detailed, but a basic enough description to get the point across using the language of scripture.

[/quote]and the Nous to her,[/quote]

I don't know a good explanation for it in terms that would be useful for someone who isn't used to seeing the word used. It's really not that important to define that word, I hardly ever see it used outside of the internet and books that get into things that are typically over a converts head (like books on the Jesus prayer written by and for monks). Everywhere else, if that word is used, there is either a clear context in which it is being used, or a short explanation for converts and others who aren't that familiar with some of the vocabulary used. I think the typical explanation is something along the lines of the eye through which we see God.

What about some more practical issues that are part of daily life as an Orthodox Christian? You've already brought up theosis, which if even left undefined, the concept is a part of our daily struggle and goal. Things like our use of icons belief in synergism might be good topics to discuss with her and explain to her if you guys haven't already done that.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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arnI
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2011, 07:21:27 PM »


You are likely aware, but I felt it proper to mention that The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware offers an introduction to these matters.

Hello all,
     So this question isn't for me, its for my Girlfriend. I'm a cradle Orthodox (or near enough) but my Girlfriend is Presbyterian (PCA). She has been asking me to explain a few challenging things about Orthodoxy and why it disagrees so strongly with Calvinism. I've tried very hard to find any sort of debate or comparison of the doctrines of the two religions but the closest I've gotten is a series of podcasts by Father Andrew Steven Damig called "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" Which I love but I cant get her to listen too. I've tried on my own to explain the basic beliefs and Doctrines of the Orthodox church but I'm young and though I've read much about the church and tried to do research on the major christian denominations in in America Im no scholar and I'm worried about making a major error.
     Now she has shown much interest in the church aside from learning the actual beliefs. she often comes with me to church during the week and most weekends, often times comming with me to all 5 services. However I get the sense that her interest is largely in the Physical beauty of the church.
     My questions are these:
1. Does anyone know of a few good Essays or lectures I could show to her?
2. How should I explain such alien concepts as Theosis and the Nous to her, she has asked but I'm not quite sure how to explain.
3. How should I approach talking to her about this?

I've talked to the preist at my church but I'd like to get a few opinions from those who have been in similar situations, so any advice would be very welcome

Signed
TD Andreis

TD Andreis
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jnorm888
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« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2011, 09:37:17 PM »

Hello all,
     So this question isn't for me, its for my Girlfriend. I'm a cradle Orthodox (or near enough) but my Girlfriend is Presbyterian (PCA). She has been asking me to explain a few challenging things about Orthodoxy and why it disagrees so strongly with Calvinism. I've tried very hard to find any sort of debate or comparison of the doctrines of the two religions but the closest I've gotten is a series of podcasts by Father Andrew Steven Damig called "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" Which I love but I cant get her to listen too. I've tried on my own to explain the basic beliefs and Doctrines of the Orthodox church but I'm young and though I've read much about the church and tried to do research on the major christian denominations in in America Im no scholar and I'm worried about making a major error.
     Now she has shown much interest in the church aside from learning the actual beliefs. she often comes with me to church during the week and most weekends, often times comming with me to all 5 services. However I get the sense that her interest is largely in the Physical beauty of the church.
     My questions are these:
1. Does anyone know of a few good Essays or lectures I could show to her?
2. How should I explain such alien concepts as Theosis and the Nous to her, she has asked but I'm not quite sure how to explain.
3. How should I approach talking to her about this?

I've talked to the preist at my church but I'd like to get a few opinions from those who have been in similar situations, so any advice would be very welcome

Signed
TD Andreis

TD Andreis

I almost married a woman who was PCA some 10 years ago. And so maybe I can help you out for the PCA is a very conservative Presbyterian protestant group with a high conviction of discipline and theological precision! To be honest, I actually enjoyed my visits to the PCA bunch that my ex was with. They were nice people. But this was in the South, and so the PCA in other regions of the country might be different. Less disciplined and somewhat lax. Who knows! Do her elders know that you two are dating? The PCA group that my ex belonged to were very strict. They believed in courtship! They wanted the boyfriend to ask the girlfriend's father for permission to date his daughter. Then the girlfriend's parents, your parents, and a church elder would watch over that relationship or help hold it accountable. For the end goal of courtship is marriage. The elder of my ex didn't want her to Marry a non 5 point Calvinist and so she broke off the relationship. This was years before I became Orthodox. If her parents and elders know that you two are dating then they will try and convert you to the PCA. The more dominant partner in this relationship will win this fight!

And so no need to rush it! Just continue to be yourself around her for you don't want to be un-normal around her as if she is some sort of pet project or experiment or something. Some women are able to sense a difference in the other person and so be yourself, don't try to be something you are not use to being when around her.

 Also continue to pray for her and continue to invite her to Divine Liturgy. This is step one!


Step two is to let her listen to a number of Podcasts, and let her read some online articles, e-books, and paperback books. Also if she is willing then let her watch videos as well. But all within it's proper time. Steady as she goes! No need to rush this! There is a real good Orthodox website that focus it's attention on the Reformed protestant tradition. Check it out sometime, it's called Orthodox Bridge! This blog might be perfect for her! It might be just what she needs!

http://orthodoxbridge.com/ (Orthodox-Reformed Bridge: A Meeting Place for Evangelicals, Reformed & Orthodox Christians)

As seen from the site itself:
quote:
Quote
"Recently, there has been a growing openness among Christians in the Reformed tradition to Eastern Orthodoxy.  The OrthodoxBridge is intended to serve as a meeting place where Calvinists and Orthodox can dialogue, ask questions, exchange opinions, and debate matters of faith in a civil manner.

The title has several meanings.  One, a bridge serves as a connection that reaches across a deep gap.  Two, a bridge brings people together for friendly dialogue and exchange.  Three, a bridge can serve as a  means by which a person can cross over from one side to the other.

The beliefs and practices of Eastern Orthodoxy can seem strange to those not familiar with it.  While interested in Orthodoxy many Calvinists find aspects of Orthodoxy questionable.  It is our hope that we can show our Calvinist friends that big “O” Eastern Orthodoxy is truly biblical and small “o” orthodox in the fullest sense of the word.

We welcome your reactions, questions, and feedback, and look forward to many interesting and invigorating dialogues.  May our great God and Savior Jesus Christ be glorified!"


Please visit the website to read more about the blog!




Books to get would be:
http://www.amazon.com/Common-Ground-Introduction-Christianity-Christian/dp/0937032816 (Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian)


This book is perfect for Evangelical protestants looking into Orthodoxy! He did an excellent job with this book! He really did! Now this book may not be for every American reader for it's focus is limited in scope! Yes, the Evangelical and fundamentalists traditions are not exactly the same as the Reformed tradition, but your girlfriend will be able to relate in many ways.





Hmm, knowing that your girlfriend is coming from a strong conservative Presbyterian back-ground that might have a tendency to not believe something like this if they think it's not Biblical. Hmm, knowing she is from this back-ground then I would say that this would be the best book to get for her. However, it will cost you a pretty penny! So save up! Don't worry, if you set aside 20 dollars a month, then you should be able to buy a used copy in 4 to 5 months. I have the book, and it is lovely!
http://www.amazon.com/Deification-Eastern-Orthodox-Tradition-Perspective/dp/1593333242/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309476274&sr=1-12 (Deification in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition: A Biblical Perspective)




and

This might be a bit too much for her right off the bat, for this goes to the very heart of what she believes, and so don't let this be the first thing for her to read. Wait a year or two for this one. Let her read other books and articles first.
http://www.lulu.com/product/file-download/reconsidering-tulip/14269986 (Reconsidering Tulip)




Mp3's:
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/podup/illuminedheart/god_essence_and_energies (GOD: Essence and Energies)


http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/holyfathers/god_is_there_where_the_understanding_does_not_reach (“God Is There, Where the Understanding Does Not Reach”)


http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/frederica/distractions (Distractions)




Videos:
http://www.amazon.com/How-to-Run-the-Way/dp/187289710X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324777821&sr=1-2 (How to Run the Way)






Have a Merry Christmas!
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 10:07:52 PM by jnorm888 » Logged

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NicholasMyra
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« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2011, 12:58:01 AM »

Just let her keep coming to church with you. She sounds like a lovely young lady who cares a lot about you. You don't need to bombard her with theological texts.

Give thanks to God for her and have a Merry Christmas.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2011, 12:58:21 AM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.
tangentdi
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« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2011, 02:37:37 AM »

First I want to say THANK YOU for all the replies. Cheesy

Clare- Thanks for the link , I will certaintly share it (and read it myself  Wink ) I'll try to take things slow, Patience is the better part of success after all.

Melodist - I've seen your replies on a lot of different topics and you always give a very intelligent impression, Thank you for the concise definition.  I think it will be helpful to me.

ArnI - I have read the book but it has been a few years. I'll dust it off and read it again now. Thank you.

Jnorm888- Now this reply was very informative and has already proven helpful in understanding some things in her back ground that were a little unclear before. I think her church may be a bit more liberal than the above mentioned but its not devoid of this sort of thing. I dont think she is happy at her current church so It helps allay some of my fears.  The books you listed seem to me to be a wealth of information for many many of my friends who are all intensely curious about Orthodoxy, but entirely intimidated by it.  I think I will read them all myself as well. My reading list just got a major vitality boost Smiley
     Thank you so much for this wealth of knowledge.

NicholasMyra- I will do so.


And to all A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

 God bless and keep you all.


TD Andreis
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« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2011, 03:08:18 AM »

Just let her keep coming to church with you. She sounds like a lovely young lady who cares a lot about you. You don't need to bombard her with theological texts.

Give thanks to God for her and have a Merry Christmas.

Agreed.
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« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2011, 05:51:42 PM »

tangentdi,

Christ is born!

Immediately before joining the Orthodox Church, I belonged to the PCA. I hope I can be of some help to you.

most people in the PCA are quite theologically savvy and very interested in talking about theology. Calvin is kind of the archetype Protestant scholasticist, so many Presbyterians (the conservative ones, like in the PCA) emphasize understanding what their church teaches and why it is true. They tend to be both philosophically and theologically minded. I'm actually a bit surprised she isn't more interested in the theology of Orthodoxy, particularly if she is so drawn to the atmosphere of the Church.

For me, I wrestled for a long time with many doctrines of the Orthodox Faith, since they were in conflict with my Presbyterian conviction. However, I don't think this is a necessary step for many. Honestly, I don't think it was necessary for me, I'm just stubborn. Apologetics eventually came for me (I also had Protestant friends to question my thinking and what the Church was teaching me. I'm very grateful for them arguing with me about Orthodoxy, since they challenged me and made me step back and examine what I was doing. I still converted, obviously, in spite of their arguments...but it helped me make sure I knew what I was getting into), but what really converted me was constant attendance at the Divine Services, speaking with the priest to develop a prayer rule, establish fasting, etc. One day, I realized that I had essentially left Presbyterianism and had taken up the way of Orthodoxy. At that point I sought baptism and was officially enrolled into the catechumenate.

So, definitely speak with her if she's open to it, offer her these resources, etc. But, for me it was living an Orthodox spiritual life that ultimately converted me. I didn't figure out why I rejected Presbyterianism and Calvinism for some time later. It's quite backwards, especially for such a knowledge-minded Protestant, but it worked for me. I found beauty and peace in the unsearchable depths of Orthodox theology...deeper waters than I could've ever imagined as a Calvinist. Once I rested there, I started making sense of it in my head...but my heart converted long before my head was ready.

So, when you two talk about Orthodoxy, talk about the services, what they're saying and why, talk about the importance of a private prayer rule, fasting discipline, etc. Help her to do Orthodoxy...perhaps understanding it will come later. It worked for me. Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2011, 11:29:59 PM »

First I want to say THANK YOU for all the replies. Cheesy

Clare- Thanks for the link , I will certaintly share it (and read it myself  Wink ) I'll try to take things slow, Patience is the better part of success after all.

Melodist - I've seen your replies on a lot of different topics and you always give a very intelligent impression, Thank you for the concise definition.  I think it will be helpful to me.

ArnI - I have read the book but it has been a few years. I'll dust it off and read it again now. Thank you.

Jnorm888- Now this reply was very informative and has already proven helpful in understanding some things in her back ground that were a little unclear before. I think her church may be a bit more liberal than the above mentioned but its not devoid of this sort of thing. I dont think she is happy at her current church so It helps allay some of my fears.  The books you listed seem to me to be a wealth of information for many many of my friends who are all intensely curious about Orthodoxy, but entirely intimidated by it.  I think I will read them all myself as well. My reading list just got a major vitality boost Smiley
     Thank you so much for this wealth of knowledge.

NicholasMyra- I will do so.


And to all A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

 God bless and keep you all.


TD Andreis


Anytime Fam! When I became Orthodox I never burnt my bridges from my protestant past and so I still talk to a number of protestant people from my past. Even those who still go to that conservative PCA church I mentioned in the south. Now, I must admit. I don't talk to them as often as I use to. It seems that ever since I became Orthodox the frequency of our conversations diminished tremendously over the years. Especially in recent times. But the door is still open, they never shut me out completely. Well, at least not yet, and so if you have any questions just let me know. I was never PCA, but I do know about them.

Also, all the books I posted I personally read and so if you have any questions about them just let me know.
  


Christ is born!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2011, 11:34:39 PM by jnorm888 » Logged

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