In the last decade, Eastern Orthodoxy has moved from being virtually unknown to Western Christians to being a significant presence on the religious scene in North America and Great Britain. In light of Orthodoxy's growing presence, this book will introduce Western Christians to the Eastern Orthodox vision of the Christian life by examining Orthodox theology and worship. The three parts of the book deal with: tradition as the source of the Orthodox vision; union with God as the heart of the Orthodox vision; and distortions of the Orthodox vision. This book also alerts readers to the cultural and historical factors which influence the way any person or group understands the Christian faith. Throughout, the differences between Eastern and Western cultural mindsets are pointed out as these shape different conceptions of Scripture and the Christian life.
In the last decade, Eastern Orthodoxy has moved from being virtually unknown to Western Christians to being a significant presence on the religious scene in North America and Great Britain. In light of Orthodoxy's growing presence, this book will introduce Western Christians to the Eastern Orthodox vision of the Christian life by examining Orthodox theology and worship and will also alert readers to the cultural and historical factors that shape any interpretation of the Christian faith.
Donald Fairbairn is Professor of Historical Theology and Associate Dean of Theology at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina.
Eastern Orthodox Christians in the United States number more than three
million, a membership higher than that of some mainline Protestant
denominations. Yet the doctrine and practice of the world's second-largest
group of Christians has lacked American interpreters with a popular touch.
Readers who like their Orthodoxy with a strong Reformed Protestant flavor will
enjoy this careful West-meets-East primer. An Erskine University professor,
Fairbairn has the advantage of having spent significant time in the former
Soviet Union. He sensitively fleshes out Orthodox doctrine in counterpoint
with traditional Reformed Protestant theology. While using the expatriate
Russian Orthodox writers of the 20th century as his main resources, he is
comfortable traveling more than a millennium backwards in time to probe the
roots of Orthodox theology. Although he expends considerable effort parsing
the role of icons, Church tradition, and the meaning of theosis (human
transformation into the divine likeness), Fairbairn argues it is most crucial
to grasp the nuances of the place of Scripture in the Eastern churches. "It
is the unfinished task of Christians and of the entire Church to develop the
mind of Christ, to move closer to a fully biblical expression of faith and
practice," he states. Although Fairbairn is critical of what he terms the
distortions of popular and nationalistic Orthodoxy, he sympathetically and
carefully aims to present Eastern church history and doctrine in such a way
that his Western Protestant and Roman Catholic readers can better understand
their own faith. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.