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A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Eastern Orthodox Theology: An evangelical perspective

By Panagiotis Kantartzis
October 2021 | Review by Robert Letham
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-52710-641-3
  • Pages: 128
  • Price: £5.99
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Book Review

For centuries, Orthodoxy had little impact in the West, but following the expulsion of leading theologians from Russia by the Bolsheviks and the rapid growth of population mobility and communications, this has changed.

However, most Western Christians consider that Orthodoxy differs little from Rome. This is a misperception. Due to historical developments, the Greek and Latin churches drifted apart. The problems of the medieval church, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment largely passed the Greek and Russian churches by. For them there is no pope, no centralised hierarchy, no vast accretion of dogmas, no assertion of human merit in salvation.

Senior minister of the First Greek Evangelical Church in Athens, and with impeccable scholarly credentials, Panagiotis (Giotis) Kantartzis is ideally qualified to address the strengths of Orthodox theology and the obstacles it poses for evangelicals. There are difficulties in working in Orthodox countries rather than in the West where there is greater openness.

Giotis explores areas of doctrine that might pose a concern: sin and grace, the atonement, and the relationship of Scripture to the church. He handles the Orthodox teaching on deification sensitively and well, indicating areas of compatibility and dissonance in the respective views of our being transformed ‘from one degree of glory to another’ by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV). He probes critically the Orthodox understanding of salvation.

The Greek church clarified and resolved the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology. Its liturgy is rooted in the fourth century, as close to the early church as we are likely to experience. It is well to approach this with a sympathetic mind but critical antennae. This Dr Kantartzis does superbly.

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