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Eastern Orthodox Christianity: a Western Perspective.

By Daniel B. Clendenin. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.2d ed. Pp. 192. Paperback $16.99.

Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader.

Edited by Daniel B. Clendenin. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.2d ed. Pp. 224. Paperback $19.99.

With an added epilogue on Orthodox-evangelical exchange, the revised edition of Clendenin's presentation of Eastern Orthodox Christianity continues to serve its original purpose: to introduce aspects of Orthodox history and theology to evangelical Christians. This perspective shows in the concentration on Orthodox approaches to theology and truth claims about God and in the book's emphasis on Orthodox understanding of Scripture, the believer's growth in holiness, and the piety connected with seeing the divine in the icons. Ecclesiology, the sacraments, liturgy, and the role of Mary and the saints receive scant attention. Clendenin provides much useful information on the history of the early and Byzantine church, and he helps readers understand the alienation between the Eastern Orthodox and the Latin church. To its great credit, the book relies heavily on the giants of modern Orthodox scholarship (Lossky, Schmemann, Meyendorff, and Kallistos Ware). The writing is colored by the author's own experiences of a "hermeneutics of love" and is aimed at fostering mutual respect and overcoming mistrust and facile stereotyping. The accompanying volume--Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader--is a wonderful supplement, presenting basic texts that have become classics.

The Orthodox emphasis on the ecclesial mediation of faith and salvation is acknowledged, but Orthodox Christians may have a hard time with the author's very Protestant discussion of sola Scriptura versus "Scripture within the church." The many descriptions of the Protestant West cannot convince this Scandinavian, Lutheran reviewer that Clendenin is not grinding the axes of evangelical opposition to Reformation churches that root doctrine and interpretation of the Bible in liturgical worship. But by Clendenin's own admission, the implied readers are not High Church Scandinavian Lutherans but American evangelicals who expect the Christian faith to be more than a head trip and who look to the evangelizing of post-Soviet Russia as a part of their Great Commission. Christians with that agenda can do nothing better than, with Clendenin, adopt a hermeneutics of love and policies of respect.

Anna Marie Aagaard is Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Theology, University of Aarhus, Denmark.
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Title Annotation:Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader
Author:Aagaard, Anna Marie
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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