From Publishers Weekly
Eastern Orthodox Christians in the United States number more than three million, a membership higher than that of some mainline Protestant denominations. Yet the doctrine and practice of the world's second-largest group of Christians has lacked American interpreters with a popular touch. Readers who like their Orthodoxy with a strong Reformed Protestant flavor will enjoy this careful West-meets-East primer. An Erskine University professor, Fairbairn has the advantage of having spent significant time in the former Soviet Union. He sensitively fleshes out Orthodox doctrine in counterpoint with traditional Reformed Protestant theology. While using the expatriate Russian Orthodox writers of the 20th century as his main resources, he is comfortable traveling more than a millennium backwards in time to probe the roots of Orthodox theology. Although he expends considerable effort parsing the role of icons, Church tradition, and the meaning of theosis (human transformation into the divine likeness), Fairbairn argues it is most crucial to grasp the nuances of the place of Scripture in the Eastern churches. "It is the unfinished task of Christians and of the entire Church to develop the mind of Christ, to move closer to a fully biblical expression of faith and practice," he states. Although Fairbairn is critical of what he terms the distortions of popular and nationalistic Orthodoxy, he sympathetically and carefully aims to present Eastern church history and doctrine in such a way that his Western Protestant and Roman Catholic readers can better understand their own faith.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
is Professor of Historical Theology and Associate Dean of Theology at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina.