Losing our Religion: On “Retaining” Young People in the Orthodox Church

A recent article on the challenge of interfaith marriage in Greek Orthodoxy has been circulating widely on Facebook.[1] One reason for the article’s popularity is its startling claim that 90% of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Orthodox Church. Similarly dismal statistics are likely true for most Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, but the article in…

Which Path to Church Unity? Recognition vs. Reception

From time to time, my friends and I get into a discussion about Christian unity.  Anglicans and Roman Catholics seem to be especially eager to reunite with the Orthodox and I have to explain why such efforts are difficult, if not improbable.  This position is often met with frustration and perplexity: Why can’t we just be one?  What’s the hang up?  I began…

The Ecumenism of Fr. Georges Florovsky

A short piece on the ecumenism of Fr. Georges Florovsky has been written by Florovsky scholars Fr. Matthew Baker and Seraphim Danckaert and published in Orthodox Handbook on Ecumenism: Resources for Theological Education. It’s brief but fascinating it its detail. Here are a few highlights: Georges Florovsky (1893-1979) was the leading architect of Orthodox ecumenism in the 20th century. He combined magnanimity…

Is Our God Too Small? A Response to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos

On the night of March 9th, 2014, countless pop-science buffs like myself waited with bated breath for the premier of the rebirth of the Carl Sagan’s beloved science series Cosmos. Produced by Seth McFarlane of Family Guy and hosted by the popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the reborn series follows in the wake of many similar shows of more recent vintage, such…

Is Orthodoxy the Same Everywhere?: Understanding Theological Controversy Within the Church

What do we mean when we say that Orthodoxy is the same everywhere? One of the “features” of Orthodoxy that is commonly put forward especially by converts as proof of the truth of the Orthodox Christian faith is that Orthodoxy is the same everywhere. They may point to the unanimity of liturgical practice, that all Orthodox look to the same councils and…

A Joint Orthodox-Catholic Forgiveness Vespers? A Response on “Liberal Engagement”

When the blog Red River Orthodox announced a change in format in order to attempt a “liberal engagement with the ‘West,’” many of us were both intrigued with the hopeful possibilities of such an endeavor but troubled at what might actually occur.  Now that a number of posts have been published, I would like to take this opportunity to reexamine the notion…

The Death of Jesus as Sacrifice (Part 2): The Atonement and Justification

My last post, which may now be considered Part 1, was narrowly focused upon the notion of the death of Christ as a sacrificial, expiating atonement.  This is of course not the only aspect of Christ’s death and resurrection that we can contemplate, and therefore, I proceed in this post to examine the notion of the atonement in relation to St. Paul’s…

The Death of Jesus as Sacrifice: An Orthodox reading of Isaiah 53 and Romans 3:25

The propitiatory or expiatory* nature of Christ’s death on the Cross is perhaps poorly understood in much of contemporary Orthodox theological discussion, and as a result, the notion of the sacrificial atonement of Christ is often minimized or excluded altogether. As an almost knee-jerk reaction to Anselmian notions of penal substitution that have taken hold in the Catholic and Protestant West, Eastern…

The Great Apostasy: John Calvin and the Fall of the Church

Did John Calvin believe in the “Fall of the Church”?  That is, did he believe that the early Church apostatized from Apostolic doctrine and worship, and that true Christianity was not restored until the Protestant Reformation?  The “Fall of the Church” is widely held among Protestants but some readers on my personal weblog deny that Calvin held this view, calling it a “canard.”…

“I Don’t Worship God by Singing”: So Why Bother Going to Church?

A reader alerted me to best-selling author Donald Miller‘s Feb. 3 post “I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere,” and I was immediately struck by both the rightness and the tone of his critique: I’ve a confession. I don’t connect with God by singing to Him. Not at all. I know I’m nearly alone in this but it’s…