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“The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman. It isn’t non-denominational; it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the Faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost 2,000 years ago.” Steven Robinson

A thought-provoking video by Steven Robinson that compares the mainstream substitutionary atonement views and the Orthodox view of salvation illustrated with chairs.

Here are some of my favorite books for those with little or no knowledge of Orthodoxy.

– Philokalia Volume Two

– anything by Ss Maximos the Confessor, Dionysios the Areopagite, John of Damascus, or Gregory Palamas

– On the Incarnation, St Athanasius (SVS Press)

– Christology, St Nektarios of Aegina (St Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monastery, Roscoe, NY)

– The First-Created Man, St Symeon the New Theologian (St Herman’s, Platina)

– The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God, St John Maximovitch (St Herman’s)

– Partakers of Divine Nature, Archimandrite Christoforos Stavropoulos (Light and Life)

– The Holy Angels, Mother Alexandra (Light and Life)

– Surprised by Christ, Fr James Bernstein

– On the Christian Sacraments, St Cyril of Jerusalem (SVS Press)

– On the Unity of Christ, St Cyril of Alexandria (SVS)

– Three Treatises on the Divine Images, St John of Damascus (SVS)

– Deification in Christ, Panayiotis Nellas (SVS)

– The Apostolic Fathers, edited by Fr Jack Sparks (Light and Life)

– The Life of Moses, St Gregory of Nyssa

– From Glory to Glory: Mystical Texts of St Gregory of Nyssa, edited by Jean Danielou (SVS)

– The Life of Antony, St Athanasius (Classics of Western Spirituality)

– The Life of the Virgin Mary (Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, CO)

– Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ, St Justin Popovich, translated by Fr Asterios Gerostergios (Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies)

– The Universe As Signs And Symbols, St Nikolai Velimirovich (St Tikhon’s Seminary Press)

– The Homilies of St Gregory Palamas, translated by Dr Christopher Veniamin (Mount Thabor Press)

– Prayers by the Lake, St Nikolai Velimirovich

– The Prologue from Ohrid, St Nikolai Velimirovich (Sebastian Press – Serbian Diocese of Western America)

– The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox, edited by Johanna Manley (SVS Press)

6 comments

  1. I saw your comments on Fr Stephen’s blog and I appreciated many of them.

    Good suggestions here. I have read a couple of these on my road into Orthodoxy. The only one I would probably add, that was literally life changing for me, would be The Way of a Pilgrim.

    1. Hi, Jeremy 🙂

      Thank you for your comment. I apologize for not responding earlier, but work, family, Church & farm duties increase once spring rolls around.

      I seriously considered putting The Way of A Pilgrim on the recommended reading list. Like you, it was one of those greatly influential books for me as a catechumen. However, I chose to “err on the side of caution” in not recommending it at this time. For a catechumen or one newly received that is under the guidance of a priest I do whole-heartedly recommend this very fine text along with recitation of the Jesus Prayer.

      The main reason I chose to not include it at this time is due to the growing predominance of those that call themselves “spiritual-but-not-religious” (SBNR) as well as those of the charismatic persuasion that chase after the “spiritual high”. These individuals continually search through various religious systems & pick out various spiritual practices without committing to anything. They fail to realize that the Jesus Prayer & other such hesychastic practices should never be used in isolation from the rest of the Faith, Tradition & Body of Christ (community) of the Church. Hesychasm without the guidance of a priest or spiritual guide firmly rooted in the Church is potentially dangerous, especially if the practice extends beyond the mere recitation of the Jesus Prayer to include breathing techniques & such. In the introduction to the Philokalia Volume 1 (written by G.E.H. Palmer, Phillip Sherrard & Met. Kallistos Ware), it states:

      It must be stressed, however, that the spiritual path known as hesychasm cannot be followed in a vacuum. Although most of the texts in the Philokalia are not specifically doctrinal, they all presuppose doctrine even when they do not state it. Moreover, this doctrine entails an ecclesiology. It entails a particular understanding of the Church & a view of salvation inextricably bound up with its sacramental & liturgical life. This is to say that hesychasm is not something that has developed independently of or alongside the sacramental & liturgical life of the Church. It is part & parcel of it. It too is an ecclesial tradition. To attempt to practice it, therefore, apart from active participation in this sacramental & liturgical life is to cut it off from its living roots. It is also to abuse the intention of its exponents & teachers & so to act with the presumption that may well have consequences of a disastrous kind, mental & physical. (Philokalia, Vol. 1, Introduction, p. 15)

      I know that many have used the Jesus Prayer while they were still outside of the Church, such as Fr. Stephen Freeman (Glory to God For All Things), & several other posters also disagreed with my stance when I posted it on his blog site awhile back. However, it should also be remembered that Fr. Stephen was an Anglican priest for decades before he was received into & ordained in the Orthodox Church. It is my opinion that those from more liturgical Protestant denominations (for example, Anglicans, Episcopalians, certain Lutherans) may be able to do so safely as their religious backgrounds tend to be historically more stable doctrinally & group-oriented. However, I do not think it wise for those from other groups whose backgrounds tend to be historically less stable doctrinally & more individual-oriented.

      If my readership grows & changes to one of a more Orthodox-oriented demographic, then I will definitely be adding The Way of The Pilgrim to the recommended list. Until then though, I shall continue to “err on the side of caution”.

      Thanks again, Jeremy for a great recommendation 

      Rhonda

      1. I believe your reasons are excellent, Rhonda. I can see both sides of the argument. When my priest found out I was reading through The Pilgrim he took an interest in talking to me about my prayer life (we met for a couple of hours every other week). I now see that he wanted to gently guide me and make sure I wasn’t falling into anything strange or dangerous. About a month after that, he formed a group in our parish for a few other people who had contacted him about wanting to have a group setting to discuss contemplative prayer. With that said, I’ve been sheltered by spiritual authority (and the Holy Spirit within) during the whole process and am a bit naive to the dangerous implications.

        1. When I was a catechumen my local parish was not yet even a mission. A mission priest came in once or twice a month for Divine Liturgy & Confessions as well as my catechumen training. I actually read through The Pilgrim with one of the ladies in the parish who had a very mature faith & was very knowledgeable. The priest would then talk with the two of us about such things as you mentioned regarding prayer, fasting & acesis in general to keep everything well grounded within the Orthodox Faith. Thanks again for you comments.

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