"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).

Friday, October 18, 2019

Eastern Christian Soteriology

I've previously read, and cautiously recommended, at least one of James Peyton's previous books introducing parts and figures of the Christian East to evangelical Christians in North America. He has a new one just released a couple of weeks ago: The Victory of the Cross: Salvation in Eastern Orthodoxy (IVP Academic, 2019), 244pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
How can Christians claim that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is a victory? Yet the doctrine of salvation affirms precisely that: in his death and his resurrection, Christ is victorious over the power of sin and death. The articulation of this tenet of faith has taken different shapes throughout the church's life and history. Eastern Orthodoxy has made its own contributions to the belief in salvation through Christ, but its expressions sometimes sound unfamiliar to Western branches of the church. Here James Payton, a Western Christian with a sympathetic ear for Eastern Orthodoxy, explores the Orthodox doctrine of salvation. Payton helps Christians of all traditions listen to Orthodox brothers and sisters so that together we might rejoice, "Where, O death, is your victory?"
For Eastern Christians a little bit nervous at reading a book by a non-Orthodox, two of the blurbers are well-known Orthodox scholars:
 "James Payton is a theologian skilled in patristic and contemporary thought. He is also a careful and sympathetic reader in all things to do with Eastern Christianity, an area in which he has immersed himself in a deeply insightful manner. In this present study he has surveyed Orthodox thought on salvation in Christ, and the result is an elegant and masterful survey of a major theme at the very heart of the Christian message. His approachable style is unfailingly clear, and this important study will surely be a new standard on the reading lists." (John A. McGuckin, Oxford University faculty of theology)
"Professor Payton belongs to a charmed circle of bridge builders working between the Orthodox and evangelical worlds today. This book brings together a wide range of topics related to the doctrine of salvation in the Eastern Church from creation to consummation and compares it with classical Protestant thought. The author's dependence on original biblical, patristic, liturgical, and monastic texts has produced a masterful synthesis of the Orthodox vision of salvation. Free of artificial contrasts between Eastern and Western theology that are too often made today, this book is carefully nuanced and critically reliable. Readers, both East and West, will find it to be an ideal textbook for theology classes as well as a handy resource for understanding selected topics in Eastern Orthodox doctrine." (Bradley Nassif, professor of biblical and theological studies, North Park University).

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