A Meeting Place for Evangelicals, Reformed, and Orthodox Christians

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7 Comments

  1. Greg

    Hi Robert,

    Thank you for this informative website. I am investigating Orthodoxy and am curious as to your thoughts regarding this critique of the Orthodox Church:

    http://christiantruth.com/articles/orthodoxycominghome.html

    God bless,

    Greg

    • robertar

      Thank you for visiting the OrthodoxBridge! There are many differences between the Orthodox and the Reformed traditions. I took a quick look at Pastor Carrino’s essay and will make just a few comments here.

      One is that not all Orthodox Christians are stridently anti-West. My favorite church father is Irenaeus of Lyons who lived in what is now France. I have a positive regard for Augustine of Hippo even though I don’t agree with all his teachings. I believe that there is much of value to be found in the Latin theological tradition. I find much of value in Ambrose of Milan and Pope Leo the Great. You might find it interesting that the Orthodox Church uses Pope Gregory the Great’s Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts during Great Lent. But having said that I must also note that the West departed from Holy Tradition after 1054, and deviated even further with the alien methodologies of Scholasticism. I believe that this the “West” that much of polemic has been directed towards.

      Two is that Pastor Carrino has a point when he complains about the limitations of the convert testimonies. Personal experience should not be the basis for theological truth. But one has to wonder how healthy Evangelicalism is when people complain about the lack of unity or the lack of holiness. While entertaining and enlightening conversion testimonies are not the same thing as biblical exegesis and sound theological reasoning, that is why I have grounded many of my papers on biblical exegesis and sound theological reasoning. I invite you to read my other postings and make your comments on them. You might be interested in my recent posting on semi-Pelagianism and Sola Fide.

      While personal experience should not be the basis for doing theology, they can be a means of testing the soundness of a religion; sound theology brings us closer to God and makes us more Christlike. The problem with Carrino’s approach is that it seems to focus on theology as a logically coherent set of arguments However, if the arguments rest upon flawed premises and mistaken assumptions then the whole argument is wrong despite all the logic it contains. That is why one must take into account the historical context of the biblical writings and the historical development of doctrine if one wishes to decide between the Orthodox and the Reformed positions. The convert testimonies provide us with valuable empirical data about the impact of Protestant theology on their spiritual lives. Keep in mind that the Christian Gospel is good news, not just great ideas. It is about the coming of the kingdom of God that will change peoples’ lives. And if Pastor Carrino objects to this testimonial approach, I would remind him that even the Apostle Paul recounted his conversion stories several times in the New Testament in his presentation of the Gospel.

      I’m glad to hear you are investigating Orthodoxy. I urge you to visit an Orthodox Sunday service if you have not done so already. We will be starting Great Lent fairly soon. If you could attend the various services held during Lent you will learn much about the Orthodox faith. If you can, I recommend that you attend a church where the services are all in English.

      Robert

  2. Greg

    Thank you for your quick response Robert.

    From Pastor Corrino’s artice, I am most interested in the Orthodox response/answer to the following:

    “What is truly concerning (particularly for Protestant converts to Orthodoxy) is that despite the wealth of Biblical evidence for man’s salvation set primarily in terms of substitution and satisfaction; hence the imputed righteousness of Christ being the basis for man’s approach to God in relationship or worship, the foundation moves to a process which is set in more neo-Platonic categories than Hebraic, and is built on scanty textual support.”

    I think you allude to this topic in your response by way of asserting a false presupposition in the Reformed exegesis of Scripture. Do you recommend any resources that deal with this specific topic in great detail?

    In Christ,

    Greg

    • Greg

      Oops, Pastor “Carrino,” not “Corrino.”

    • robertar

      Greg,

      You raised a very important point, one that cannot be answered adequately in a few sentences. Responding to Pastor Carrino’s assertion would require a fairly lengthy blog posting. If you look at the sentence you will see a lot issues and assumptions that need to be unpacked and analyzed. I’ll take this as a suggestion for a future blog article.

      I would like to point out that when Scripture teaches about salvation it uses a wide variety of approaches besides the law/justice language. There is also the language of reconciliation/relationship/forgiveness, the language of slavery/ransom, the language of captivity/deliverance, lost/found, dead/alive, orphaned/adoption etc. Then there is the political/covenant language of being an outcast vs. becoming a citizen. So on that basis I would have to view with skepticism Carrino’s assertion about “the wealth of Biblical evidence for man’s salvation set primarily in terms of substitution and satisfaction.” But I leave it to you to do the research. But as I said earlier this would make a good starting point for a future blog posting.

      For now, I recommend you get a hold of the “Orthodox Study Bible” and read through the Scripture passages in Romans and Galatians and the study notes to see how Orthodox understands the meaning of the biblical teachings. If you are more theologically inclined I recommend Paul O’Callaghan’s “Fides Christi: The Justification Debate.”

      Robert

  3. David Lindblom

    Hi Robert, I’ve enjoyed your website and appreciate your knowledge of the Faith and of the beliefs of the Reformed. It is on that I’d like to draw your attention to a recent critique of the Faith from a Michael S. Horton of Westminster Seminary in California that can be found here: (http://tinyurl.com/83pbaap). David Withun of Pious Fabrications has started a YouTube series on it. Just thought this might interest you and possibly even respond publically to it. Thanks.

    • robertar

      David,

      Thank you for bringing my attention to Pastor Michael Horton’s podcast. I posted: “A Response to Michael Horton.” which is based on his chapter in the book Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism. Towards the bottom of the posting I provided links to his podcast presentation and a response by the blog The Fullness of Orthodoxy. Hopefully, good discussions will come out of this.

      Robert

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