"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

On the Ecumenism of Exploding Heads

I shall let you in on three secrets:

1) In the 1990s, numerous evangelicals entered Orthodoxy, details of which are to be found in several studies, including the superlative one of D.O. Herbel, Turning to Tradition: Converts and the Making of an American Orthodox Church. (I interviewed the author here.)

2) Some of those converts turned around and scorned their Protestant heritage, and indeed all non-Orthodox Christians of whatever tradition, loudly and virulently denouncing them as heretics and any efforts at working with them as guilty of the "pan-heresy" of "ecumenism," all phrases that nobody uses except tendentiously and as weaponry.

3) Some evangelicals repay the favour, as it were, if they even know anything at all about Orthodoxy, which they often regard as being in essence a version of Roman Catholicism: icon-worshipping, Mary-devoted, priest-confessing, works-righteous folks with too many statues in their churches and too much formality in that weird biscuit ceremony they call 'Mass' or 'liturgy.'

What, then, will past and present evangelicals and Orthodox alike make of the co-operative efforts of a new book that brings both together in missionary efforts? Will we see an ecumenical explosion of heads?

Edited by Mark Oxbrow and Tim Grass, The Mission of God: Studies in Orthodox and Evangelical Mission (Wipf and Stock, 2016), 270pp. is a collection of essays which has garnered a variety of positive blurbs from evangelical and Orthodox folks:

This is a 'must read' collection of essays that are rooted in prayer, in the Scriptures and in the rich histories of two very different traditions. The variety of topics and perspectives are presented by senior scholars and leaders, giving the reader an excellent glimpse into the ways in which Orthodox and Evangelical Christians around the globe have come together to participate in God's transforming mission. I highly recommend it for all pastors, seminary and Bible college students and staff. (Dr. C. Rosalee Velloso Ewell, PhD, Executive Director, Theological Commission, World Evangelical Alliance.)
The wealth of material in this extraordinary symposium is indicated by the widely dispersed backgrounds - geographical, cultural, and theological - of its contributors. I cannot think of a comparable example in which the evangelical mission of the Church is placed so firmly in the varying contexts of theology, ethics, exegesis, ecumenism, and spiritual transformation. Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Orthodox Pastor in Chicago and Senior Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity 
Can Evangelical and Orthodox Christians move from exclusion and competition of the past to mutuality and complementarity in the present? Can the depth of a powerful spiritual tradition be (re)discovered and in some ways appropriated by modern activistic evangelizers and can they both be enriched by each other's strengths? The amazing recent dialogues in the spirit and under the umbrella of the Lausanne Movement for world evangelization - as documented by this extraordinary book - provide us with promising answers to these questions. Diversity, quality and experience of the contributors assure the reader that this compendium points the way toward a future of greater understanding and desirable partnerships in the mission of the Triune God in our complex world. Ecumenism at its best! (Dr. Peter Kuzmic Eva B. and Paul E. Toms Distinguished Professor of World Missions and European Studies, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...