A Meeting Place for Evangelicals, Reformed, and Orthodox Christians

A Calvinist Who Crossed Over to Orthodoxy

Fr. Josiah Trenham

Fr. Josiah Trenham

Journey to Orthodoxy just uploaded a very interesting interview with Fr. Josiah Trenham who grew up in the Reformed tradition then later converted to Orthodoxy.

Fr. Josiah grew up in the Presbyterian tradition and claims one of the Mayflower Puritans as an ancestor.  He did his undergraduate studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA.  His senior thesis was on Jonathan Edwards.  From there he went to Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, and Orlando, FL where he studied under Reformed theologians like R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and John Frame.  He received his M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, CA.  He then went on to do doctoral studies at the University of Durham, England where he received his Ph.D.

While in seminary Fr. Josiah was licensed as a minister by the Presbyterian Church in America.  In 1993, he was received into the Orthodox Church and ordained into the priesthood by His Grace Bishop Basil, Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.  He currently pastors St. Andrew Orthodox Church in Riverside, CA.

Read this fascinating interview in JTO to find out why someone who studied at some of the best Evangelical and Reformed schools decided to become Orthodox!

For a slightly longer version of the interview visit the Examiner.com.

Robert Arakaki


  1. David

    My FB Friend and parishioner of Fr. Josiah Trenham say this:

    “He left alot of the really cool details out, but knowing him, and having gotten to talk to him quite a bit about the reformed church, he really tries not to speak ill about the reformed church. In fact, the first thing he ever said to me about reformed theology was “The reformed have a great love for scripture” and the first time we met his wife, she said “I heard that you two come from the reformed tradition. The reformed church really gave us (fr josiah/wife) a great love for the bible”. I actually pressed Fr Josiah for the details of how he left, and he told me. It is pretty much what he said in this article, but he left out the fact that when he graduated from Westminster with honors, and was the one student in his graduating class that was awarded a theological scholarship to continue on to his PhD, which he had to turn down, in which he told them that he was entertaining Orthodoxy, and Westminster reaction was sort of like “Oh…..” He then studied under XXXXXXX and XXXXXX (two prominent Reformed Theologians) who both tried their best to convince him that the reformed was the place to be, but Fr Josiah says that this was when he knew the reformed church wasn’t going to live up to Orthodoxy, because XXXXXX seemed to be unaware of Orthodoxy, as did XXXXXXXXX, and when Fr Josiah finally ended up telling them both that he decided, and was going to become Orthodox, they didn’t really say much, thought XXXXXX later met with him privately and said “If the XXX knew what I really believed about worship, and some other things, I would be kicked out of the church in a heartbeat.”

    Interesting world no?

  2. Jnorm

    I know who one of the xxxxx’s is.

    ““If the XXX knew what I really believed about worship, and some other things, I would be kicked out of the church in a heartbeat.””

    This is what gave it away. But I will keep it to myself. I won’t tell anyone.

  3. Bryan Castleman

    The Mayflower sailed in 1620. One of my 8th Great Grandfather’s was born in 1615.

    Everyone has 1,024 8th Great Grandparents. That number would be doubled at the next generation.

    I don’t know what the point of identifying with one Puritan out of a thousand of his direct ancestors would be. Would that of made him more Protestant ?

    I trace my lineage back to various places. Sweden, Norway, and Germany. However, I haven’t discovered all of my lines. I have some Puritans and some Lutherans in the family. But that is only because I can trace my line so far back. If I could go further, I’m sure my ancestors would have been Roman Catholic or even tribal pagans. DNA evidence even shows some Eastern European blood. But even that scientific evidence only reaches so far back.

    There are certain parallels in the way a person looks at their own genealogical heritage, and how they construct their own religious identity.

    I prefer not to idealize the past.

    • robertar


      It’s great you know your family history. I know a lot of people who know so little about their family background. As great as it is knowing our family past, conversion to Christ introduces a new element into our family line, God’s grace and mercy.


      • Bryan Castleman

        If anyone has ancestors that go back a hundred years or more in the USA, they will find that the majority of their relatives are either Protestant/Baptist or Roman Catholic. Protestantism would claim the majority.

        Personally, I have only Protestant American lineage. My wife has Irish ancestors and therefore some Roman Catholicism is in there. However, she has plenty of Protestants in her line. She too most likely traces her line back to Plymouth. We have a missing link in her chain at the moment.

        But we all descend from a variety of places. Take your pick on which ancestor you want to highlight.

        The bible has genealogies in a variety of places. I’ve actually had fun building out the diagrams to see who relates to who. I started with a line straight from Jesus’ genealogies back to Adam and have fleshed it out with stories in Genesis and beyond.

        I realize the difference in our spiritual identity and our identity according to the flesh. I know that the “children of God” are “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)”.

        I’ve watched Josiah’s introduction to his church. There’s plenty of description on the furniture and the building itself. They went to great lengths to construct a building with a certain type of aesthetic. In one video he even describes the process of the furniture making as “authentic”.

        My Christian identity has little to do with the aesthetic principles in Byzantium.

        My not go lakeside without the building ? There’s an aesthetic. All the icons you could need, created by God Himself, in nature.
        It’s even more ancient than the 2nd-3rd century churches that are being invoked.

        • Bryan Castleman

          Supposed to read: Why not go lake side ?

  4. Patrick

    Bryan, who so far has even mentioned aesthetics, except yourself, and if yours was the first mention of them, then what are you dismissing? Orthodoxy has no more to do with aesthetics, per se, than whatever faith you affirm has to do with the tree in the front yard.

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