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Through Western Eyes
Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective
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"Just finishing Bob Letham's brilliant and accessible Through Western Eyes: Eastern Orthodoxy -- a Reformed Perspective. Typical of Bob's style -- awesome learning, accessible writing, and a fine critical exposition of the history and theology of Orthodoxy, which is careful and honorable throughout. It gave me much food for thought, especially on the matter of icons (I'd never thought of the photographs of the great Hugh Miller and R S Candlish in my office as icons before....).The book is a great read, and Bob's way of using Orthodoxy as a means of sharpening the reader's own understanding of the Reformed tradition is a piece of classic pedagogy".
Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Historical Theology and Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The culture of the Eastern Church is alien to our experience. Yet the more we familiarize ourselves with the Eastern Church the more we recognize, for all the differences, the family resemblances. The family has been parted for a very long time. But chances have arisen to meet again and get to know one another.
In recent years, Eastern Orthodoxy has emerged vividly on the radar of Western Christians - hitherto, it was largely ignored. The separation has been due to the long-term historical disruption caused by differences in language, outlook and theology and eventually by the depredations of Islam. Because of these East and West went their separate ways. As a result, the respective theologies appear at times to inhabit parallel universes.
However, this ignorance is changing. Eastern Orthodoxy is increasingly popular in the Anglo-Saxon world. It conveys a sense of mystery, of continuity with the past, of dignified worship at a time when evangelical Protestantism is increasingly cheapened and trivialized.
This book examines the history and theology of Orthodoxy from a Reformed perspective. There are clear and significant areas of agreement - a common allegiance to the triune God; the person of Christ; the authority of Scripture and the truth of the gospel. At the same time there are many areas of disagreement, where it seems that Orthodoxy and Protestantism are at odds. However, there are also misunderstandings on both sides, where proponents of either position are not normally dealing accurately with what the other holds to be true. In drawing attention to the agreements and misunderstandings Robert Letham trusts that readers may come to a better understanding of exactly where the real differences lie. We can learn from Orthodoxy - if our assumption is that the most important thing is to grow in our knowledge of Christ.
Robert Letham is Senior Lecturer in Systematic and Historical Theology at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology, Bridgend, Wales. Previously he was pastor of Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Delaware. He has taught at London Bible College, is Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia and Visiting Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary.
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"Nevertheless, conversations will continue and Dr Letham's book is probably the best one there is from a reformed perspective. It should be in the library of every pastor and theologian and consulted whenever questions relating to the eastern church and our links with its tradition arise."
Gerald Bray, Research Professor, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama
Several years ago on one of my visits, to Eastern Europe countries, I was asked by local students to explain the difference between their local Orthodox Church and my own Baptist church. It would have been useful to read this book before then, even if my answer was basically correct...This book will be useful to those living and working (perhaps as missionaries) in countries where these churches are active. It will give a balanced insight into their beliefs - and challenge our thinking too!
J. H. John Peet, Grace Magazine
"The publication of Robert Letham's magnificient piece of work is deeply significant..It is essential reading for Chrsitian Ministers, theological students, schoolteacher/lecturers, and Christians who needs to informed."
Rt Revd Dr J Barry Shucksmith Royal Navy (Rtd)
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