Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More Orthodox Books for Beginners

Matthew Gallatin, author of the oustanding introduction to Orthodoxy Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells, and the host of the "Pilgrims from Paradise" podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.

As promised, here is part two of my list of recommended introductory books about Orthodoxy. The books on this list are works that I did not read until after I became Orthodox, but I found them all helpful in my "rookie season" of Orthodoxy.

Carlton, Clark, The Faith. Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 1997. Used in catechumen classes in Orthodox parishes around the country, this book is an outstanding, easy to read overview of the Orthodox faith.

Carlton, Clark, The Life. Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 1997. A must read for all evangelical Protestants, especially those who struggle with the Orthodox theology of salvation. In this book, Carlton argues persuasively against Sola Fide and “once saved always saved,” among other things.

Carlton, Clark, The Truth. Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 1999. This is the equivalent of The Way for Roman Catholics. Protestants would do well to read it too, particularly Chapter Three, which is the best argument against the “Satisfaction” theory of atonement taken granted by most Protestants as well as Roman Catholics.

Coniaris, Fr. Anthony, Introducing the Orthodox Church. Mineapolis: Light and Life Publishing, 1982. Just what it says—an outstanding overview of all aspects of Orthodoxy, covering more topics that The Orthodox Church, but going into less detail.

Elder Cleopa of Romania, The Truth of Our Faith. Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 2000. Written by the saintly abbot (now with the Lord) of a monastery in Romania, this book is similar to Fr. O’Callaghan’s pamphlet (see below), but less broad and more deep. This would be especially helpful for evangelicals from a Reformed or Calvinistic background.

Gallatin, Matthew, Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells. Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 2002. This book was not published until after my family and I were Chrismated, but we still found it helpful in confirming the truth of our new faith. I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough to evangelical inquirers. It is a kinder, gentler version of The Way that covers more topics, albeit in less depth than Carlton’s books.

Gillquist, Fr. Peter, ed. Coming Home: Why Protestant Clergy are Becoming Orthodox. Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1992. A series of gripping stories about how a wide variety of Protestant ministers, from high church Anglican to “holy roller” Pentecostal, found their way to Orthodoxy.

Mathewes-Green, Frederica, At the Corner of East and Now: A Modern Life in Ancient Christian Orthodoxy. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1999. Mathewes-Green, a prolific writer, popular speaker and wife of an Orthodox priest, combines vignettes about life in her parish, Orthodoxy in general, and living the life of an Orthodox Christian in the world.

Nieuwsma, Virginia, ed. Our Heart’s True Home. Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1996. Similar to Coming Home, but written by and primarily for women.

O’Callaghan, Fr. Paul. An Eastern Orthodox Response to Evangelical Claims. Minneapolis: Light and Life Publishing, 1984. Fr. Paul lists several common questions that evangelicals ask about Orthodoxy and answers them briefly but persuasively.

Pulcini, Fr. Theodore, Orthodoxy and Catholicism: What are the Differences? Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1995. This is my favorite work on Orthodoxy vis-à-vis Roman Catholicism, written in a completely irenic tone by a former Roman Catholic who is now an Orthodox priest and scholar. This would be a great resource to give to a Roman Catholic friend, and it has the added bonus of being very brief (25 pages).

Ware, Timothy (Metropolitan Kallistos), The Orthodox Way. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995. The companion volume to The Orthodox Church, this work provides a brief introduction to the Church's theology.

Whelton, Thomas, Popes and Patriarchs: An Orthodox Perspective on Roman Catholic Claims. Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 2006. This is a well-reasoned, recently published discussion of the issues that separate Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics. Whelton also wrote a similar but more extensive book entitled Two Paths (Regina Orthodox Press) in 1998.

Whiteford, Fr. John, Sola Scriptura: An Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology. Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1996. This is the most thorough treatment of the many problems with Sola Scriptura that I have ever read. I wish all evangelical Protestants would read it!

In addition to these books, Conciliar Press publishes a set of short (15-30 page) pamphlets on various beliefs and practices of the Orthodox Church that differ from those of Protestants. The ones that I found the most instrumental in convincing me of the truth of Orthodoxy include Finding the New Testament Church, by Fr. Jon Braun, Scripture and Tradition, by Raymond (Fr. Thomas) Zell, Which Came First, the Church or the New Testament?, by Fr. James Bernstein, How to Read Your Bible, by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Entering God’s Kingdom and Finishing the Race (both on the Orthodox concept of salvation), by Fr. Peter Gillquist, and Heavenly Worship, by Fr. Richard Ballew. Also, Conciliar Press has just published a pamphlet called Infant Baptism, by Fr. John Hainsworth, which would be especially helpful for Baptists and other evangelicals that believe that only adults and older children should be baptized. Conciliar offers a total of 31 of these pamphlets, and all of them are excellent. Visit http://www.conciliarpress.com/ for more information.


charlene said...

Oh my, Father James!
My mouth is watering in anticipation of reading some of the suggested titles, with still more to come. Your comments on each are very helpful. Too bad Bob does not read your blog: he would know this was going to dig deep into his pockets.

Paul said...

Father James,

When on earth do you have time to be a priest, husband, father, teacher and other duties between all these books?

I encourage you also to share this list on Monachos.net They have opened a book review which is exactly the same information you have given us here.

so many more Orthodox and Orthodox want-a-be's can benefit from your path to conversion. Please do consider it.

Clint said...

Father, another great list. I actually don't have many of these (nor have I read them). I am glad you have it here, so I can reference it next time I am going on an Amazon spending spree...

Fr. James Early said...

Greetings all!

Thank you for the comments. Any of you are welcome to borrow any of these titles from me whenever you would like, so that you don't have to borrow them.

Paul, I would be happy to post my recommendations on Monachos.net. How do I do it? I'll try to figure it out on my own, but I may be calling you to get help.

Fr. James Early said...

Paul, I forgot to answer your question "How." I read all of these books between 2000 and 2003, when I had only 2 (later 3) kids, I was not a priest, and I didn't write a blog!

Sadly, nowadays I read very little - I average maybe 5 pages a day. This means it will probably take me 5 years to read through Fr. Stephen's list. But, as he says, this is not that big of a problem (see his article on reading for more information) as I make it out to be, provided that I am consistent in prayer and worship.