Top 10 Tips on Conversion Sickness

Or   TEN NEVERS  for Coaching Reformed Calvinists so They Don’t Become Orthodox Christians  

(Offered by a facetious Orthodox blogger)

The Center for Religious Disease Control (Reformed) has recently determined that “conversion sickness” — Protestant conversions to Eastern Orthodoxy — is a serious and growing problem.  Despite well known and highly respected Reformed pastors and theologians giving talks on: “What is Eastern Orthodoxy?,” interest in Orthodoxy, rather than easing off, has intensified.  The following advisory is issued with the hope that we can contain this growing trend.

10 — NEVER STUDY church history, especially the EARLY church; and stay away from the early church fathers and the ecumenical councils;

9 – NEVER READ the five volume series by that Yale history professor, Jaroslav Pelikan (he was okay as a Lutheran, but then he became Eastern Orthodox);

8 – NEVER READ interesting Orthodox writers like Alexander Schmemann and Kallistos Ware (espeically dangerous are Schmemann’s For the Life of the World and Ware’s The Orthodox Church);

7 – NEVER READ an Orthodox critique of Calvin’s view of the icons; and NEVER check out an Orthodox biblical defense for icons (such things can’t exist!);

6 — NEVER VISIT interesting sites like Journey to Orthodoxy and NEVER GO to Ancient Faith Radio which has interesting interviews on  the Illumined Heart or LISTEN to Michael Hyatt’s At the Intersection of East and West;

5 — NEVER check out the Orthodox critique of sola scriptura or of sola fide;

4 – NEVER question the writings of the REFORMERS, the Reformed Church theologians (fathers); they have the absolutely correct (infallible) interpretation of Scripture;

3 – NEVER VISIT Orthodox blog sites like OrthodoxBridge.com (why are you reading this?!?); and never JOIN the comment thread, no matter how interesting; once you join the conversation you will be expected to give good reasons for what you believe;

2 – NEVER, NEVER ever ATTEND an Orthodox service; too many of our folks have irrationally become smitten by the beauty of Orthodox worship; AND

1 – NEVER FORGET that Reformed Pastors are nothing like those closed minded Fundamentalist!  They can refute Orthodoxy easily…. especially if you NEVER independently study it for yourself.

 

[List modified 20 April 2012]

26 comments:

  1. Good post. In all seriousness, though, one should always avoid any form of forum or internet message boards. It doesn’t matter what communion/tradition one is in, message boards are almost always intellectual and spiritual death.

  2. Dear Friends: It’s sad, however, that some Reformed people actually believe the lies you explain, the “never” statements of their mendacious (wrongheaded) thinking, which are in agreement with the enemy of all of our souls, who wants to keep us way from the truth, and lead us into all lies (against John 16:13), and keep us away from the Orthodox Church. Gospodi pomiloi.
    In Erie Scott R. Harrington

  3. Robert,

    What prompted you to write this entry? Is there a high alert increasing among the Reformed that they could be losing members of their flock to Orthodoxy?

    1. Darlene,

      Pastor Steven Wedgeworth discussed how Protestants are converting to Eastern Orthodoxy. He labeled these conversions “conversion sickness.” It’s an attempt to put a humorous spin on something that is causing concern among pastors and theologians. I’m in conversation with a few Reformed Christians who want to become Orthodox but are holding off because of their family situations. And I just learned of one Reformed Christian who just became a catechumen a few days ago. I’m sure there’s a lot more going out there that I’m not aware of. There’s no “high alert” that I know of. I wrote this tongue-in-cheek entry as a way of engaging and encouraging the lurkers and seekers out there in Reformed and Evangelical circles.

      Robert

      1. I’m actually teaching a Sunday School class this week in my very conservative Reformed Church on this topic. We are discussing Leithart’s “Episcopalian” article, Mr. Arakaki’s “Journey to Orthodoxy” article, and Dr. David Anders’ article on Called To Communion. Should be very interesting.

        Russ

    1. Darlene,

      Christ is Risen! (said with exceeding joy!)
      (If you know the Slavic: Christos Voskresyie!)

      Well said! I know exactly whereof you speak. Once they thereafter defy #2 to check out Robert’s article, for them it may as well be all over! Sadly, for their distraught Reformed friends, this is usually a one-way ticket into Holy Orthodoxy.

      To only lightly paraphrase the Liturgy, let us pray that they “. . . complete their journey unto the Lord.”
      R: Gospodyie Pomilyui.

      Blessings,
      John

  4. Hey Robert,

    LOL! I appreciate your sense of humor. But the flip side of this, of course, is who knows how many serious Reformed Protestants have done the reading, visiting…all the above…and are still staying put as Protestants, Pastors included. I know, I know, you (we) don’t know what the future holds for these and many others. But the Reformed have historically been pretty cocky about being able to hold there own with any other theological group. Lord only knows who will keep reading, visiting and thinking — and what in his wise providence, the future fatalities might result from “conversion sickness”? 🙂

    1. Hey David,

      Thanks for understanding! I was one of those serious Reformed Protestants who didn’t take Orthodoxy seriously until I decided to do a paper on icons for Dr. Richard Lovelace at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. It took a lot of reading and reflection and thinking for me to switch from Reformed Protestantism to Eastern Orthodoxy. I commend those who are open to Orthodoxy for their courage and openness to Truth.

      Robert

    2. It is life-long commitment–conversion. It took me two years of much reading, intense discussion, and prayer before I was ready to plunge into Orthodoxy from the PCA. Now a year later and recently a catechumen, I thank God for His mercy, Energies, and peace. It is hard to switch when you are trying to convince your wife who is focused on the little ones to come with you. I can sympathize with staying put.

      1. Dear TXSeraphim,

        Welcome to the OrthodoxBridge! I’m glad you took the bold step to become a catechumen. I recently asked a priest to write an article for people like you who are interested in Orthodoxy but your spouse is not. I’m hoping that the article will practical and encouraging to many out there.

        Robert

        Note: The article is “Called Together” by Fr. Isaiah Gillette. RA

  5. Robert,
    I understand the “holding off because of family situations.” I was issued a warning from a very close Christian friend and sister in the Lord, who was/is a Reformed/Calvinist Christian. She let me know under no uncertain terms that if I became an Orthodox Christian that I would be worshipping another Jesus. I had to hold the phone a distance from my ear for quite some time while she fiercely expressed her disappointment. Oddly enough, she had very little knowledge about the Orthodox faith. She had been raised as a Roman Catholic and thought the Orthodox Church was pretty much the same thing as her upbringing. When I tried to explain the difference between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, she wanted no part of it. Another Christian friend sent my husband an email saying that the Orthodox Church worships a false Christ because we believe that the Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ. I can empathize with those in the Reformed and Evangelical camps who are thinking of becoming Orthodox Christians and getting flak from family and friends.

    1. Darlene,

      It takes courage to be open to learning about Orthodoxy and a lot of bravery to be willing to become Orthodox. We need to be patient and encouraging to those who want to be Orthodox but are encountering resistance from family and friends. As much as flak and criticism may hurt, they can be viewed as a positive sign that the person cares about truth. Let’s keep those searching and those who are scared of Orthodoxy in our prayers. Let us remember the examples of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea and the important roles they played in the Gospels.

      Robert

  6. Robert,

    Thanks for your response. So often your words are grace-filled and kind. Actually, on a good note, a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to discuss the Orthodox faith with the husband of that dear Calvinist friend who was so disappointed with me. Furthermore, he was asking questions and showed an earnest desire to understand why I became Orthodox. That was a very special evening.

  7. Robert,

    Christ is risen!!! First of all, let me say thank you for writing this blog. I am currently a “secret seeker.” Your posts have been so helpful with so many questions that I’ve struggled with over the past year. We became Reformed about seven years ago. I put so many of these pastors and theologians you speak of on a pedestal. In fact, when you go to their Facebook pages, it’s not too hard to see that lots of other people do as well. That’s why I laughed so hard when I read #6. It’s true. I think so many Reformed people, especially women, are led to believe (if not consciously) that they need people like this to think for them. I started to search for the real truth after years of this attitude started to take a toll on me. I especially felt this pressure as a mother. I could no longer identify with people who had no trouble writing about the shortcomings of others, while never talking of their own struggles with sin. Orthodox teaching is so very different and “earthy.” I’ve never felt like God really loved me until I began to understand the Orthodox view of how we are saved. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a real relationship with Christ, like the people in the Scriptures are my family. Before, I always felt like an outsider. Funny thing is, we were actually told that if we joined the Greek church, we would always be on the outside. My experience there has been exactly the opposite. The people and priests there have been some of the most loving, accepting Christians I’ve ever met. Orthodoxy lets you be who you are, while gently giving you the tools, little by little, that you need in order to become just who God wants you to be. I finally feel like I can run the race, while learning to love Christ more, instead of having to reach man’s standards. God continues to confirm, almost daily, that I am on the right path. After Pascha, I don’t know how I could ever celebrate the Resurrection any other way!

    The rhetoric of the Reformed of late has been less than amicable regarding Eastern Orthodoxy. Though you said you aren’t sure if there is a reason for them to be concerned, I think that they are. If not, they wouldn’t be posting these things. I have also discovered that speaking with grace and love draws others to the truth. Their method of delivery will soon begin to turn people off. That’s partly why I began searching more earnestly. When I stopped trying to live up to the standards of some of these people, I felt like a huge weight of oppression was lifted from me. I will be honest, many of my Reformed friends have been very kind. I love them and am blessed by them. I’m mostly speaking of what I’ve seen and read on the web. May God continue to bless your work, as you proclaim the truth.

    1. Dear Monica,

      Truly He is Risen!

      Welcome to the OrthodoxBridge! Thank you for sharing your struggles and your spiritual journey. I pray you will find healing and nurture for you and your family. When I talk with my Evangelical friends about the Orthodox Church, they often get confused when I agree with their criticisms. I have to remind them that while the Orthodox Church is the true Church, it is not a perfect church. We are all sinners in need of God’s mercy. Let us pray for each other and encourage each other.

      Robert

  8. Robert,

    I definitely agree with what you said. I should have clarified that. I have run into some zealous converts to Orthodoxy that I believe probably do more harm than good. The rhetoric is on both sides. The good thing is that because of this, I am trying, though imperfectly, to be extra sensitive in how I speak to others about my journey. 🙂

  9. Thanks for the “humor.” Why don’t I feel like laughing? Especially when I have not avoided these “warnings” or found the vinegar more attractive than honey? I may not be a “really true Calvinist” (I don’t think Calvin was either) but I suspect these sorts of tongue in check sarcastic posts will do little to further authentic dialog. I suppose the conclusion is so deep that Orthodoxy is right and true that this is a one-w2y bridge — and those who stay on the other side or are walking the other way are….well what I have been explicitly labeled by the loving Orthodox (how about a little Jesus-praxis?) heterodox and worse.

    1. David,

      Sorry if the joke fell flat for you. I hope you and others will continue to join in the discussion. I suggest you read the “About” page so you can better understand the purpose of this blog. I tried to make it clear that there is an evangelistic bias to the blog.

      Coming from a broad Evangelical background I struggled with the Orthodox Church’s claim to be the true church. While some take this position to be an attitude of arrogance, the question remains whether or not the claim is theologically true. One of the turning points in my journey to Orthodoxy came when I realized that much of the theology and practices of modern Evangelicalism only go back to the 1800s. This is part of a long story. When I came to that conclusion I had to out of conviction leave my former home church of 20+ years. I still miss them and I do keep in touch with my Evangelical friends, but the Orthodox Church is my church home. Hope this helps.

      Robert

  10. I am one of those former reformed (Lutheran /Calvinists) that have helped in planting a couple of churches and at one point was starting the process of becoming a pastor/church planter (there is a slight distinction between the two) in Colorado or Africa. I have not joined the Orthodox church due to my family, I love my wife but we are at odds in a few things and it is better to be patient and see what the Holy Spirit will do, maybe I will never be a part of it or maybe I will. Now I attend a weekly men’s group where we are reading “The Orthodox Church,” these men are great.
    I have seen the harshness of some in the Reformed tradition towards the Orthodox church, I was one of them, claiming “The Orthodox are nominal Christians at best” but when I recently heard this from a pastor, it saddened me because of the time spent with the men of Saint Catherine’s Orthodox Church in Denver, they love the Lord and the Church. I also followed the writings of a man name Robert Morey, whom I love, but his book on Eastern Orthodoxy was from the presuppositions of a reformed pastor, and partially misrepresented the Church, I say this because it is possible to be so against something and have a changed mind and heart.
    I have not professed to some of my friends my decision to walk towards the Orthodox Church, I know I will receive flack but Im not worried about it. I have heard the word heretic thrown out against those in the Orthodox Church more times than I can count, and one time against myself thus far.
    All this to provide a testimony of the true sovereignty and mercy of God, and to inform those who encounter Reformed persons, to have patience and be filled with the longsuffering and mercy displayed by our God, they are indoctrinated by the doctrines of Grace, and many have no understanding of what the Church has taught prior to the 1500’s. The associate the Orthodox Church to the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, which both Reformed and Orthodox oppose.

    To sum this up! Is there a fear in the Reformed Church that many are converting, I would say only in High Church, Reformed Churches. I come from a line of Contemporary “historical” Reformed Churches, and have meet only two men that have converted, its not really discussed. I do believe the Orthodox Christians can learn a lot from men like Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll in regards to being on mission to the world, defending the faith, and practical living. You can see what I am explaining by going to this site, http://theresurgence.com/search/results?q=orthodox, I searched for the word “orthodox” and came up with that given site. But don’t just stop there look into it, they have some good information on things we would agree with them on. The Resurgence and the Acts 29 Network is becoming the largest Reformed Church Planting Organization.

    Thank You For This website!!!!

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