Through Western Eyes

‘Through Western Eyes’ by Robert Letham is a great book. It is an examination of Eastern Orthodoxy from a Reformed Perspective. The first half of the book is an historical survey of eastern orthodoxy and introduces some of the key figures and debates in the early centuries of the church. The second half examines the theological emphases of Eastern Orthodoxy. Whilst familiar with some of the material in the first half of the book the sends half introduced me to an expression of Christianity of which I was largely ignorant.

Some of the points raised that were especially striking was how the Orthodox liturgy was suffused with Scripture and how unhurried services were. It was a challenge to contemporary evangelical culture where as Letham notes Scripture is often sidelined and services are ruled by the clock. I was also struck by the sense of reverence and mystery that there are in Eastern Orthodox services. Also by the strong trinitarian emphasis.

A couple of areas I would like to have seen addressed were how far theory translates into practice. Does  sacramentalism give rise to a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? The other issue I would have liked to have seen explored is how far the Orthodox church is an ethnic church. What is its attitude to mission and evangelism?

I would recommend this book to anyone who like me knows little of Eastern Orthodoxy. I certainly found it profitable, enlightening, and challenging.

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