5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Orthodox Christianity
The Orthodox Church is Eastern Christianity's attempt to introduce itself to Christian readers from either a Protestant or Roman Catholic background. The book is written by Timothy (Kallistos) Ware, an Anglican convert to Orthodox Christianity, making the writing clear for anyone with an English speaking background. This also helps the reader since Ware has perspective...
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2.0 out of 5 stars No longer trustworthy.
After its latest revision, Bishop Kallistos (Timothy Ware)'s book no longer provides a good starting point for those generally unfamiliar with the original Christian Church, its history, and its doctrines. This revised edition shows signs of compromise with the general melt-down of bygone Christianity going on in Great Britain. For example, His Grace says that the...
Published on July 25 1999
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No longer trustworthy.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)After its latest revision, Bishop Kallistos (Timothy Ware)'s book no longer provides a good starting point for those generally unfamiliar with the original Christian Church, its history, and its doctrines. This revised edition shows signs of compromise with the general melt-down of bygone Christianity going on in Great Britain. For example, His Grace says that the question of female priests is seen by the Orthodox as an open question; one wonders what in the world he can be talking about, since there isn't a hint of this development in any of the sources of authority the Church understands as binding. (Can you say "when Gehenna freezes over"?) Here, he must be trying to appeal to the culture around him. Additionally, his approach to the lamentable ecumenical efforts in which the Ecumenical Patriarchate is engaged is deplorable: it is simply inconsistent with the Church's history for its hierarchs to participate in WCC events that include pagan prayers, etc., even if only as observers. A non-Orthodox who read this edition at my suggestion came back to me with the notion that Bishop Kallistos' teaching regarding the relationship among the various "Christian" bodies differed from what I had previously explained. That was true, since I had repeated the Church's nearly 2,000-year-old insistence that it is the one, true Way. In this regard, Bishop Kallistos' attempts to be "understanding" are simply going to mislead the heterodox regarding what they are missing (i.e., the New Testament fellowship of Christ). The unbroken witness of the Church disagrees strongly with his "friendly" opinions. (If it didn't, the decision of the New Romans in the fifteenth century that they would rather remain Orthodox and suffer conquest by the Muslims than apostatize to Papism in exchange for military assistance would make no sense.) In sum, this is not a good place to start someone who might be interested in joining "the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic" (that is, the Orthodox) Church; as to anyone else, well, why do they need to know about the Church, anyway? This revision is a great disappointment. Get an earlier edition.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Orthodox Christianity,
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This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)The Orthodox Church is Eastern Christianity's attempt to introduce itself to Christian readers from either a Protestant or Roman Catholic background. The book is written by Timothy (Kallistos) Ware, an Anglican convert to Orthodox Christianity, making the writing clear for anyone with an English speaking background. This also helps the reader since Ware has perspective from both Western and Eastern Christianity. The book reflects an understanding of both traditions; since the Anglican tradition itself reflects the dual Protestant and Roman Catholic character of the Western Church, Ware is an ideal candidate for explaining the Eastern Orthodox Church to Western Christians of any background. Ware introduces the reader to Orthodox Christianity in two parts: history and theology. The first half of the book is dedicated to the history of the Orthodox Church and is divided chronologically from the Acts of the Apostles to the 11th Century Schism to the attacks made by the militant atheists of Soviet Russia. The second half of the book is dedicated to the theology of the Orthodox Church, looking at a very wide variety of theological issues such as the nature of God, the role of the Church and its sacraments and the requirements for a reunion between the Eastern and the Western Church. The book is accessible and easy to read but highly condensed and meant as the first point of entrance into the world of Orthodox Christianity. Nevertheless, Ware does not leave out details and the book is rich in names, dates and the specific nuances of Orthodox theological positions. The Orthodox Church is the ideal place to start for any English speaking person interested in understanding the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
The first half of The Orthodox Church offers a brief summary of the history of the Orthodox Church from Pentecost up until the post-communist era. Ware divides the book chronologically, discussing the history which is common to all Christians from the the founding of the Church until the great schism of 1054 and proceeding to discuss the history of the medieval and modern Orthodox Church. While the emphasis is on history and the prominent political and religious figures which shaped the development of the Church, Ware also briefly discusses the trends in theology during this time period. In the first section of the book detailing the life of the early Church, Ware examines the role of the Church in early Christian society, the significance of martyrdom and the development of monasticism after the conversion of Constantine the Great. In order to understand the history of the Church, the broad trends in theology are important since they are both a product of development in the Church and an instigator of this development. Ware saves the primary theological discussions for the second half of the book but makes note of the interjection between the politics of the Church and its theological development when appropriate. In the section on the seven ecumenical counsels, Ware discusses the themes and content to each of the seven counsels. Ware discusses the first six counsels and their theology, all centered on the person of Christ. While the first two counsels emphasized Christ's divinity, the latter four established the correct doctrine of his humanity. The first six ecumenical counsels established the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith such as the dual nature of Christ and the trinity and dealt with corresponding heresies such as Arianism and Nestorianism which these doctrines were defended against. The seventh ecumenical counsel which focused on icons and their role in the Church is shown by Ware to be equally theologically significant since icons establish the ultimate worth of the material world, ensuring that variants of Platonism do not detract from the Faith. This is an especially important point for Western Christians, who are usually informed by either St. Augustine or Luther and tend to be more Platonist than Christianity necessarily allows for. Ware contextualizes his discussion of the seventh ecumenical counsel to the development of Islam and its influence on Christian life, showing the possible influence Islam may have played on the iconoclasts. Ware then shifts attention from the theological developments of the early Church to the high church politics which led to the schism between Latin and Greek Christianity. An important emphasis is laid on both the theological and secular contributions to this schism. In evaluating the history of the Church one cannot over emphasize either the two theological issues which led to the schism (papal infallibility and the revision of the Nicene Creed) or the secular issues which led to the schism. The cultural and political differences between Byzantium and Rome alongside the two theological amendments made by Rome played an equal role in the schism. Much of this section is devoted to the cultural and linguistic differences, the difference approaches to the faith, political developments in Western Europe and the politics between the four Eastern Patriarchates and the Roman Patriarchate. While there is a brief discussion on the significance of the Roman revision of the Nicene Creed and the problems associated with papal supremacy, Ware saves these more theological discussions for the latter half of his book. After discussing the schism, Ware breaks from most of what Western Christians might know about the history of the faith. In his discussion of the medieval and modern Orthodox Church, Ware looks at the problems which Islam has posed for the Faith in what was once Byzantium and the struggle of the Church in Russia and Eastern Europe. The patriarchate of Constantinople struggles with Islamic rule both during its medieval life as well as its life in the 20th century. Meanwhile the medieval Church in Russia occupies a position of being a 'third Rome', a center for Christian life and development. Much of the discussion of the latter chapters of the first half of The Orthodox Church deal with the internal and external problems faced by the Russian Orthodox Church. Where the patriarchate of Constantinople figured prominently throughout the life of the early Church up until the schism, the patriarchate of Moscow takes on a central role during the medieval and modern eras. Ware discusses significant saints and political developments which affected the Church during this era in Russia, he takes the reader up to the persecution of the Church by the Soviet Union during the twentieth century. This persecution is argued to be the most difficult time in Church history, more so than the persecution of the early Church by the pagan emperors. Ware concludes the first half of the book by discussing the diaspora or Orthodox Christians living outside of a country possessing a national church. Developments show promise but we are encouraged to be weary of stagnation and to take seriously the Church's need to be a 'living Church'.
The second half of The Orthodox Church offers a comprehensive introduction to the theology and religious practice of the Orthodox Church. The section is roughly divided into three different parts. The first part examines the source of authority in Orthodox Christianity and the basic theological position the Church. In this part Ware emphasizes the factors which distinguish the Orthodox position on the source of authority from the Protestant and Roman Catholic position on the source of authority. In Orthodox Christianity, tradition is the single unitary source of authority which encompasses scripture, patristic writings, ecumenical councils, icons, canon law and liturgy. While this is clearly distinct from protestant sola scriptura, it is also distinct from the Roman Catholic position on the source of authority. In Roman Catholicism, hierarchy between the different sources of authority develops so the Papacy and scripture are regarded as the 'higher' authority than something like icons. The Eastern Orthodox Church sees all of these sources of authority as interdependent (while still ascribing a special status to scripture) and ultimately indivisible from one another. Ware also clarifies the theology of the Orthodox Church around the nature of God and mankind. Here he presents the universal theology of Christianity by explaining the theistic theology central to Orthodox Christianity. While Orthodox Christianity does regard itself in some circles as 'panentheist', its use of this word is entirely different from the way it is understood in Western theology. While Orthodoxy sees God as permanently sustaining life in the universe by perpetually willing it into existence it also emphasizes that God is distinct from the universe. Orthodoxy refutes any pantheistic or panentheistic interpretation of Christianity, God creates mankind distinct from himself and the human being is saved as an individual. Ware's inclusion of this distinction is important, especially since these heresies are becoming increasingly widespread in the West with the growing popularity of Eastern religion. The beliefs about the nature of God and mankind central to Orthodoxy are the same fundamental beliefs which are central to the Roman Catholic and trinitiarian protestant churches. This discussion includes a brief introduction to the 'hesychast' theological position of the Orthodox Church. This position effectively bridges the apophatic and cataphatic understandings of God by making the distinction between God's essence and his energies. While God is fundamentally unknowable in his essence, human beings have experience with God and know him personally through his energies. Thus, Orthodoxy affirms both God's nature as fundamentally personal as well as God's nature as fundamentally beyond human comprehension. While Ware describes the fundamental similarity between Eastern and Western Christianity in its commitment to a theistic model of the universe he also highlights the significant differences between the Eastern and Western understanding of the human being. The most significant theological difference between the Orthodox Church and most Western branches of Christianity is the doctrine of original sin. While the West, taking its cue from St. Augustine and later Martin Luther, sees the creation story as a literal and historical event where Adam became guilty of transgressing God, Orthodoxy Christianity takes a more balanced position. Acknowledging throughout most of its history the metaphoric nature of the creation story, Orthodoxy holds that the human being did not fall from the 'height of perfection' but rather fell from innocence or 'undeveloped simplicity'. As a result, human beings are not judged as harshly as they are by the God of St. Augustine and Luther, unbaptized babies are not damned and the image of God present in the human being, though distorted by sin is not destroyed by the fall. This theological position is sensible, remedying the paradox in Western Christianity between a loving God and the existence of hell while simultaneously not sacrificing the importance of grace for the human being. Ware later goes on to discuss hell itself, arguing in a line similar to C.S. Lewis that hell is necessary in order to uphold free will. While it is fundamentally heretical to say all must be saved, denying free will, Orthodoxy shares a belief with Lewis that all might be saved. Ultimately Christianity is not a religion that emphasizes damnation. In the second part of section two of the book, Ware discusses the worship of the Orthodox Church. Most of the second section of The Orthodox Church is devoted to the worship of Eastern Orthodoxy, this indicates what Ware explicitly states in the book: Orthodoxy is fundamentally liturgical in nature. The way in which someone comes to understand God and their relationship to hum in the Orthodox Church is through worship and liturgy. Unlike Western Christianity, where philosophy played a key role in understanding Christianity (seen most strikingly in St. Thomas Aquinas), the Orthodox Church understands itself through worship. As a result, the argument put forth by St. Augustine about the Church being the 'City of God' is seen in the sensory beauty of Orthodox worship. Icons, paintings and Church buildings themselves exist to point the human being towards heaven and the liturgy itself is seen as a meeting place between heaven and earth. After discussing the significance of outward beauty to the Church, Ware discusses the sacraments with a special emphasis on the Eucharist. While much of the sacramental theology of the Orthodox Church overlaps with that of the Roman Catholic Church, it does not employ an Aristotelian epistemology in understanding the sacraments. Rather, they are 'mysteries' which, like God, are beyond human understanding. As a result, both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians understand the Eucharist as the very body and blood of Jesus Christ but only the Roman Catholics attempt to make logical sense of this phenomenon. During his discussion of the sacraments, Ware tackles the textbook issues which Western Christianity has struggled with over the last century. While the Church clearly sides against abortion and validates the absolute right to life, it does not take a firm theological position on the ordination of women. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church where ordination of women has been conclusively decided against, the Orthodox Church has left the possibility open. While most Orthodox Christians would share the Roman Catholic position, this viewpoint is not universal and having not decided the issue, it remains a possibility in the future of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church shares with C.S. Lewis the belief that divorce can be excused in some instances when it is better to amputate than allow the limb to destroy the body. However, it does so only to a point and fourth remarriages are strictly forbidden. Ware concludes this large part of the section section by discussing the significance of prayer, fasting and feasts in Orthodox Christianity. All three of these play a central role for Orthodox Christians and fasting is far more rigorous than it is for most Western Christians. Included in this part is a discussion of the 'Jesus Prayer' and its significance to Orthodox Christian living. This prayer affirms the Christ centered nature of the Orthodox Church and is used on all occasions both during worship and in daily life for the Orthodox Christian. The final part of the second section of The Orthodox Church examines the possibility for reunion between the Western churches and the Orthodox Church. One of the themes which has run consistently through section two of the book has been the diversity within Orthodox Christianity itself. In Orthodoxy, there are 'progressives' and 'conservatives' much like there are in Western Christianity. While conservatives, usually represented more in the Russian Orthodox Church, see reunion as impossible due to the fact that Orthodoxy is regarded to be the one true Church, much dialogue has taken place between the Orthodox Church and the various western churches. Ware discusses each of these points of dialogue and plays attention especially to the Orthodox Church in relationship to the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. Ware highlights instances where the Orthodox Church has learned from western Christians (using the adoption of regular communion to give an example), and argues that dialogue is fundamentally beneficial for both sides. Ware concludes The Orthodox Church with optimism for continued dialogue and the potential growth for all involved in this dialogue.
The Orthodox Church is an easy read and an excellent introduction to Orthodox Christianity for anyone who has an interest in it. At under 350 pages, it can be read quickly; despite its small length it is very detailed and concise and effectively introduces both the history and the theology of the Orthodox Church. Ware being a formed Anglican makes it easy to understand as a Western Christian, it also helps that he is very balanced in his approach. While Ware does assert the Orthodox Church as the only Church, he also is careful to emphasize the value of other Christian traditions. The Orthodox Church is easy to read and provides a firm foundation for further inquiry into Orthodox Christianity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Number ONE book on Eastern Orthodoxy,
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)"The Orthodox Church," by Timothy (Bishop Kallistos) Ware, is (and has been for decades) the number one book in the English language on the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith. It appears on virtually all recommended reading lists and bibliographies. (Not surprisingly, the number two book is "The Orthodox Way," by the same author.)
The cover states that this title is "a clear, detailed introduction to the Orthodox Church written for the non-Orthodox as well as for Orthodox Christians who wish to know more about their own tradition." I couldn't have said it better myself.
This volume is divided into two sections. Part one covers the history of the Church from the beginnings at Pentecost through Byzantium (the Seven Councils and the Great Schism), then the conversion of the Slavs, the Church under Islam, the Russian Church, and on into the twentieth century. Especially sobering is the author's summary of events surrounding the eastern European Orthodox Churches under communism. Coverage of the growth of the Orthodox Church in North America helps explain the current state of things.
Part two discusses faith and worship and covers such important topics as: Holy Tradition, God and humankind, the theology and structure of the Church, and detailed explanations of various components of Orthodox worship (including sacraments, feasts, fasts and private prayer). The final chapter, entitled "The Orthodox Church and the Reunion of Christians," explains various views within the Church concerning the ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches, and highlights dialogues with various church bodies including Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, Anglicans, and other Eastern Christian bodies such as the Coptic Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church.
An extensive, annotated list of further reading, organized by topics, such as "The Early Church and Byzantium," "Orthodox Theology," and "Liturgical Worship," will be extremely helpful for those who wish to dig more deeply into specific areas of interest.
While this may indeed be the definitive introductory book on Eastern Orthodoxy, it would certainly be more accessible to readers with some background in the Bible, Church history, or with some experience in liturgical churches. As the author suggests at one point, there is no better introduction to Orthodoxy than to actually attend an Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Those who have attended Orthodox services (or who have been members of the Church for a while) are likely to be those who are most drawn to this excellent book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of Orthodoxy,
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)As a Reformed Christian, I enjoyed this book immensely. It really helped me feel that I understand the Orthodox Church and many of its beliefs. The theological section was interesting and deep, though understandable. The history section is absolutely superb and led me to want to study more about the history of Byzantium. Top notch for anyone looking into this rich tradition and heritage.
5.0 out of 5 stars Started me on my jouney,
By A Customer
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)I just bought the book to get some kind of understanding of the Orthodox faith, and this book gave me that and a lot more.
The book for me personally was somewhat of a journey into learning about a faith I knew almost nothing about. I truly got into reading this book in Oct. 2003, and ended up getting Baptized in the Orthodox Church in Jan. 2004. That alone kind of speaks volumes about the book's impact on my life.
5.0 out of 5 stars History of the Orthodox Church,
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)_The Orthodox Church_ by Timothy/KALLISTOS Ware is a history of the Orthodox Church first published in 1963. The first part of the book traces the Church's history from the First Ecumenical Council under the Emperor Constantine until the recent Communist regime in Russia and the ecumenical movement in which Orthodox churches have participated in. The main focus is on the Russian and Greek churches, and the account of the Russian Orthodox Church under Communism was particularly disturbing. The story of how the three Romes rose and fell was truly great: Rome fell apart and was overrun by barbarians, and Constantinople was ordained the new capital of the Roman Empire by Constantine, and Christianity became the official religion of the Empire. Constantinople in turn was taken by the Turks in the 1400s and became incoperated in the Ottoman Empire, which was officially Muslim but protected Christians. The Slavs and other peoples of Eastern Europe in the meantime were Christians at this time, and Moscow, the capital of Russia became the new "Rome" with the Grand Duke adopting the title "Czar" or "Caesar" in Russian. The second part of _The Orthodox Church_ outlines the doctrines, worship and positions of Orthodoxy and compares both their similarity and differences to Western Catholicism and Protestantism. The only shortcoming of this book was that it did not discuss the Nestorians and Mononphysites enough, as these ancient Christian sects broke off from the Church before the East-West schism of 1054 and remain very similar to Orthodoxy.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Christianity,
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)There has been a great surge of interest in Eastern Orthodoxy in recent years. Partly owing to the turn towards liturgical worship and historic Christianity by disenchanted Evangelicals, many have explored this great Christian tradition with a sizable number swelling its ranks. Almost without exception, one of the starting points on any such journey is The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (now Bishop Kallistos Ware). Books listed as entry points for conversion are often polemical works but this is not the case here. Instead, Ware calmly states the position of Orthodoxy on issues facing the Church without any hint of rancor towards other Christian traditions. It is a mature understanding of the Faith of the Church that is Ware's greatest strength.
The irenic approach should not lead one to believe Ware is indifferent towards ecclesial affiliations. It is quite apparent he holds Orthodoxy as the one true Christian Faith. However, this does not lead him to wholesale condemnations of Christians in other traditions, but rather a clear contrast of the Orthodox position to those of the Western Churches.
Intertwining theological and historical developments in the Church, Ware gives a highly readable analysis of the development of Orthodox doctrine and spirituality. The book is divided into two parts. The first of these presents an Orthodox view of Church history. Beginning with the early Church and working his way through the Ecumenical Councils, the spread of Christianity throughout Europe, the Islamic conquests, the Great Schism, the witness of the Russian Church, and the tumultuous events of the twentieth century, he presents an enlightening view of the development of doctrine and worship that is free from the vindictiveness that plagues many treatments.
The second part of the book is an overview of faith and worship in the Orthodox Church. Covering all the important aspects of the Orthodox faith, Ware gives clear expositions of Orthodox doctrine and points out the contrasts with Western Christianity - both Protestant and Roman Catholic. Included are such controversial topics as the role of tradition, salvation, and ecumenism. Ware never displays any animosity towards other Christians but insists that any union must be based upon truth and he believes this is held in its fullness by Orthodoxy.
One criticism leveled at this book is Ware's supposedly superficial treatment of Orthodoxy. However, this charge is quite unfair considering the intended audience. The Orthodox Church was written for a Western audience with no prior historical connection to the Orthodox faith. Yes, there are works with more depth (including some by Ware himself), but these are likely to confuse Western Christians. This book may thus be considered as a prologomena for future studies in Orthodoxy. Coming from a Western Christian upbringing and now an Orthodox bishop, Ware has a firm grasp of how to communicate the Orthodox faith to a Western audience. The fact that so many prominent converts cite The Orthodox Church as a turning point in their spiritual journey is evidence to its effectiveness. As an introduction to the riches of Orthodoxy, Ware's The Orthodox Church is unsurpassed.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to the Orthodox Church,
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)In most Christian circles, the Orthodox Church is known as the forgotten church because many Christians do not even know of it's existence. Coming from an evangelical background I was in the same situation, until I attended college and was able to learn about this mysterious Church. Because of this sparked interest, I decided to pick up Bishop Ware's book and read it to discover more about the history and beliefs of the Orthodox Church.
Basically, this book is a beginner's guide to the Orthodox Church. Ware begins by discussing the history and and events surrounding this 2,000 year old Christian institution. I believe that Ware's appraisal and handling of history was fair and accurate. When it came to discussing the various schisms that erupted between East and West he was, I believe, very fair and accurate. When discussing the root and causes of the permanent schism of 1054, he did not try to blame the Pope as some do, but instead showed that it was a tragic misunderstanding and lack of thorough communication that led to these events.
In the second part of the book, Ware discussed Orthodox theology and beliefs. Everything from the nature of the Trinity, the Saints and Mary, the Sacraments, the Word of God, and spiritual life are examined. I liked how he handled the whole filioque controversy because it really shows that the Orthodox Church believes that dual procession is not the correct view. I never really understood on what basis they formulated their objections until I read this book. Also, Ware's discussion of sin and the fall was intriguing because I never knew the East avoided the Augustinian/Pelagian controversy.
Finally, in the last part Ware attempts to show how the Orthodox Church views the other church bodies around her. Without a doubt, the church the Orthodox share the closest heritage with is the Catholic Church. Ware states that the East is willing to grant the Pope the position of primacy and honor that he deserves, but they are not willing to sacrifice the integrity of the other great Patriarchal sees at the expense of Roman jurisdictional claims. Also, Ware shows that the Orthodox Church has much in common with Anglicans, Lutherans, and other Protestant groups. Although there are many barriers which separate them, there is also hope for healing and reunification.
All in all, an excellent introduction to the Orthodox Church. The only downside is that this book leaves you desiring more, but I guess that's why Bishop Ware has written other books which examine Orthodoxy on a deeper level.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best " First Book " on Orthodoxy,
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)This was the first book that I read about Orthodoxy, and with the benefit of hindsight I must say that I couldn't have done any better. Bishop Ware is himself a convert to Orthodoxy, so he is keenly aware of what the novice to Orthodoxy needs to learn. He is one of the world's foremost scholars on the Orthodox Church, yet his writing is lucid and approachable.
Like all of the world's faiths, Orthodoxy is practiced and understood, at least a little differently, from person to person and nation to nation. One of the many things that Bishop Ware does so brilliantly in this book, is to transcend these issues and to introduce the reader to the core values of Orthodox spirituality.
The Orthodox Church is filled with wonderful surprises for the uninitiated. It is the closest thing we have to the earliest, familiar expressions of Christianity, while possessing a decidedly " Eastern " outlook that is refreshing and unique. Bishop Ware is able to express this quality in a compelling and enjoyable fashion.
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you unorthodox?,
This review is from: Orthodox Church (Paperback)I knew virtually nothing about this Church, despite the fact it dates from the time of Jesus Christ.
I've read a few customer reviews, and like them, this book was recommended as a way of introduction to Orthodoxy.
If you'd like to know about this very old, but very much living Church, this is it.
On a negative note however, most of the book deals with the historical development of the Orthodox Church(es). Some of this involves dogma, but it's only at the end that we get into the nitty gritty of the faith.
Having come from a Catholic background, I find Orthodoxy a lot more gentler... less authoritarian.
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Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (Paperback - July 1 1993)
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