Friday, July 20, 2007

Reading (BBB Part Eighteen)

What really caught my attention about this book was the fact that it was not just about Protestants converting to Orthodoxy, nor even just about evangelicals converting. I had heard stories before about both of these types of conversions occurring. What amazed me was that the book was about a group of leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ converting. For those of you who have never heard of Crusade, it is an evangelical organization primarily devoted to evangelizing college students. Campus Crusade was an organization that nearly all evangelicals, myself included, held in high esteem; its workers we practically viewed as saints. They ranked right up there with missionaries and martyrs in the evangelical “hall of fame.”

So now I was being told that not only did Orthodoxy inspire great loyalty among the Serbs and Eastern Europeans, but it also attracted some of the most dedicated evangelical Christians in the world. Needless to say, I had to find out why these high ranking leaders of an esteemed evangelical ministry, along with two thousand of their followers, found so persuasive about the ancient faith.

The book, of course is Becoming Orthodox, by Fr. Peter Gillquist. It is a quick, easy read, and the story it narrates is gripping. I read the book in one day. After I finished it, I remember thinking, “Well, Gillquist raises some interesting points, but I need to do some further research.” I was not able to reject his arguments outright, but neither could I immediately accept them.

So, I called Melanie and asked her if she had any other books.
Sure enough, she did; this book was called Common Ground, by Fr. Jordan Bajis. Whereas reading Fr. Gillquist’s book was like nibbling on an hors d’oeuvre, reading Fr. Bajis’s book was like consuming a hearty meal. In Common Ground, Fr. Bajis makes a very persuasive case for infant baptism. He also convincingly demonstrates that the evangelical method of interpreting Scripture comes not from the Bible itself, nor from the first century Church, but from sixteenth-century religious humanism. One by one, the doctrines that I had believed since I first began to follow Jesus, including Sola Scriptura, justification by faith alone, believer’s baptism, non-sacramental theology, and the idea that the Bible alone is a valid source of spiritual authority, began to fall.

(Note: The reader may be wondering exactly what the authors said that I found so persuasive. At this time, I will not go into much detail about this. Rather, I plan to write a completely different series on the Orthodox view of key evangelical Protestant distinctives in the future)

After reading Common Ground, I decided to reread Becoming Orthodox. I did so even quicker than I had read it the first time. After my second reading, I thought, “You know, I think that Fr. Gillquist is absolutely right. I think that I have been mistaken about a lot of key theological issues.”

That evening, I said to Jennifer, “You know what? I think that we might be in the wrong church!”

1 comment:

Clint said...

Heh, heh. I can't wait to see your wife's reaction.