Friday, January 12, 2007

Some Good Press

Two decent articles pertaining to the Orthodox Church have cropped up recently in the mainstream press. In the January 11th issue of USA Today, we find More Americans Join Orthodox Churches. Except for one major boner when they assert that "Orthodoxy was born from the Great Schism of 1054," the article is really not that bad, especially for such a topwater as USA Today. They even quote our friend Fr. Joseph Huneycutt, and give a plug for Orthodixie. Read it here.

And then Christianity Today (not always a friendly voice for Orthodoxy) posted an article by Bradley Nassif in recent weeks, entitled Will the 21st be the Orthodox Century? He begins by referencing Jaroslav Pelikan, always a good sign. Nassif, whether you agree with him or not, has interesting points to make. The entire article can be found here, and a few excerpts follow:

During the past two decades, mainline and evangelical scholars have rediscovered the creative relevance of the Christian East, with its insistence on the authority of the first 500 years of Christian teaching and practice....The problem with the usual Protestant approach to the Great Tradition, however, is the gaps and inconsistencies in retrieval efforts. To many, the Great Tradition is like a library, a place you go to pick out the books you find most helpful. You can discard the ones that no longer seem relevant, while choosing the ones that have proven to be of lasting value.

Simply put, I think more and more people will recognize the vital relationship between the major movements and themes of Christian antiquity and the organic life of the Eastern Orthodox Church from whence these themes came.

In two areas, especially, the Orthodox church has maintained its unbroken succession with Christian antiquity, and these areas are particularly attractive to an increasing number of Christians.

Scripture....whether they are aware of it or not, every time evangelicals pick up their Bibles, they are relying on the historic church's judgment on the colossal issue of canonicity! Without acknowledging it, evangelicals validate the authority of the Spirit-led tradition in determining canonicity. That same Spirit-led tradition has governed the Orthodox church over the centuries.

I believe an increasing number of people fascinated with the early church will see that the Spirit, the Bible, tradition, and real, historical, identifiable churches are inseparably united, then as now.

Historical continuity. I imagine that the deeper evangelicals delve into church history, the less they will confine the meaning of "orthodoxy" to the first 500 or 1,000 years. They will come to embrace the "whole story" of the faithful, not just the parts they personally like. …They will recognize that today's "rebirth of orthodoxy" cannot do justice to classical Christian faith without keeping it connected to the church that most fully produced and inherited its achievements.


Anonymous said...

Here's a boner from Bradley Nassif's piece:

"More and more Orthodox, as they explore the early church afresh, see that there are parts of its ancient liturgies that seem to have no biblical justification and that we cannot simply regard the Reformation and the last millennium in the West as nothing more than a sideshow."

Apparently, Nassif wants to entice Evangelicals into the Church in order to help him "Reform" it.

John said...

Yep, that statement bothered me, as well. And...many of the fruits of the Reformation these days are indeed looking very much like a sideshow.

D. Ian Dalrymple said...

Nassif made a similar statement in an interview in the Fall 2006 issue of Again. This statement resulted in several letters to the editor. Nassif clarifies his intention behind the statement:

"The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom itself appears to be entirely consistent with Holy Scripture. Small portions of the wider liturgical cycles, however, do raise questions about their faithfulness to the apostolic witness and we should not hesitate to say so if we are going to be faithful to Chris and his Church."

I'm not necessarily a big Nassif fan myself, but I thought you might be interested in his response.

D. Ian Dalrymple said...

Um, that should be "Christ and His Church," not "Chris." I don't know who this "Chris" guy is, but I didn't sign up for his church...