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Engaging Eastern Orthodoxy

August 2021 | by Evangelical Times

Giotis Kantartzis
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What do you know about Eastern Orthodoxy? Do you think it’s a bit like Roman Catholicism, but with an Eastern flavour and one or two minor doctrinal and liturgical differences?

Eastern Orthodoxy happens to be the most European of all the major religions: the vast majority of the world’s Eastern Orthodox people live in Europe.

Its adherents in the UK are slowly growing, and more and more disillusioned Protestants are finding themselves attracted to Eastern Orthodoxy.

That was the theme of a recent EMF (European Mission Fellowship) webinar in its series ‘Europe Needs the Gospel’.

The guest speaker was Panagiotis (‘Giotis’) Kantartzis, senior minister of the First Evangelical Church of Athens (the oldest Protestant church in Greece), director of the Centre for Eastern Orthodox Studies, and author of the recent book, Eastern Orthodox Theology: An Evangelical Perspective (Christian Focus).

Giotis treated us to a delicious aperitif on the topic, as it was impossible to do it justice in just one webinar. He honed in on Eastern Orthodox teaching on salvation, comparing that with the evangelical position.

We learned that in Eastern Orthodoxy salvation is a two-stage process: creation and deification, as opposed to the three-stage evangelical model: creation, fall, and redemption.

Giotis moved from theory to practice, addressing some dos-and-don’ts when sharing the gospel with Eastern Orthodox people.

The speaker’s brief but very helpful presentation was followed by a question and answer session. This gave Giotis the opportunity to give some enlightening answers to some good questions, such as on Scripture, forgiveness, and assurance of salvation.

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E. G.
E. G.
1 month ago

“We learned that in Eastern Orthodoxy salvation is a two-stage process: creation and deification, as opposed to the three-stage evangelical model: creation, fall, and redemption.”

This characterization is grossly misleading and oversimplified. That “creation, fall, and redemption” model or metanarrative certainly is present in Orthodox theology. Maximus the Confessor’s views on the Fall of Man make even Augustine’s seem pollyannish by comparison, and deification is glorification in essence: human beings are glorified with divine glory by becoming conformed to God’s nature through the operation of the Holy Spirit—deified. It shouldn’t be an alien concept for Evangelical Protestants, even if the term is unfamiliar.

E. G.
E. G.
1 month ago

Are even respectfully critical comments being deleted by ET?