The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture

The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture

The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture

The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture

Synopsis

  • This important work offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date account of the Orthodox Church available, providing a detailed account of its historical development, as well as exploring Orthodox theology and culture
  • Written by one of the leading Orthodox historians and theologians in the English-speaking world
  • Offers an in-depth engagement with the issues surrounding Orthodoxy's relationship to the modern world, including political, cultural and ethical debates
  • Considers the belief tradition, spirituality, liturgical diversity, and Biblical heritage of the Eastern Churches; their endurance of oppressions and totalitarianisms; and their contemporary need to rediscover their voice and confidence in a new world-order
  • Recipient of a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 award

Excerpt

In the course of my own winding, pilgrim’s, road to Orthodoxy it was the tangible sense of beauty that served as a constant allure. It was the radiant kindness of a few luminous souls, several of them bishops and priests, that made flesh for me what I had been searching for, not so much the zealotry that many were eager to offer me as their witness to the truth. Years later I came across a saying of St Symeon the New Theologian to the effect that a candle can only be lit from the flame of another living candle, and it struck me as exactly apposite. When Truth is a living person, we can no longer try to make it synonymous with mere accuracy. What is at stake is more a question of authenticity. Orthodoxy is often approached by those outside it as a system of doctrines. But it is far more than this, and this is why a book of systematic theology does not quite capture the reality. Orthodoxy is the living mystery of Christ’s presence in the world: a resurrectional power of life. It cannot be understood, except by being fully lived out; just as Christ himself cannot be pinned down, analysed, digested, or dismissed, by the clever of this world, whom he seems often to baffle deliberately. His message is alive in the world today as much as when he first preached it. The Orthodox Church is, essentially, his community of disciples trying to grow into his image and likeness, by their mystical assimilation to the Master who abides among them.

This book is an attempt to explain that mystery of church in a variety of approaches: theological, historical, liturgical, spiritual, political, and moral. The union of all these avenues is difficult to effect intellectually, but is much easier to accomplish organically. Indeed it is clear that the Christian life itself, in its deepest and most authentic manifestations, is exactly a matter of this synthesis: this ‘coming together’ or ‘coming home’ that is sought after as the life of virtue that brings peace to the soul and the mind. The Fathers of the Church tended to refer to the Christian faith as ‘our philosophy’, which exactly caught the aspect of Christianity as a fundamental lifestyle; a way of being, as much as a way of thinking. This book, then, has been designed to assist Orthodox to a renewed appreciation of their faith, at once ‘ever ancient and ever new’, as well as to introduce it in a way that could be of benefit to readers who are not overly familiar with Orthodox life and practice. The book’s imagined readership is a double one: English-speaking readers who have come to Orthodoxy by the grace of God and wish to learn more of their own tradition; and those who have an ecumenical interest in the . . .

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