If you are a normal American Christian, like me, you have either just found the Orthodox Church and want to learn more or you just learned about it when you opened this book. That’s exactly where my family was in 2014 when we decided to go to a Greek Orthodox Church to see what it was like. For us it was life changing as I hope it will be for you.
We all know the church started when the flaming tongues of Pentecost came upon the disciples. We read about the formation of the early church in Acts For many of us the next major item in its history was the Protestant reformation. Sadly that is all the church history most of us have gotten which is why we don’t know about the Orthodox Church. What is I was to tell you that 500 years before the reformation, in 1054, the church split into the east and the west.
I graduated from a very large Christian College and when I reread the history we used it explained the Eastern Church away like it had died and made no further reference after the rise of Islam. The truth is that church survived and even flourished at times under the Islamic caliphates, the Ottoman Empire, and in Russia under communism that tried to destroy the church outright.
I know, the winners write the histories and as far a size goes the western church dwarfs the Eastern Church when it is combined but at 300 million adherents the Orthodox Church is second only to the Catholic Church worldwide but less than a million members in the U.S., which is why most of us have not heard of or have misconceptions about Orthodoxy.
In all honesty, I’m writing this against my better judgment. There are several great introductions to the Orthodox Church that have already been written like Becoming Orthodox by Fr. Peter Gillquist or The Forgotten Faith by Fr. Philip LeMasters. If you have had any introduction to the Orthodox Church you have probably read the scholarly books of Bishop Kalistos Ware or the homey storytelling of Frederica Matthews-Greene. All of which are great books to introduce you to the Orthodox Faith.
When I was a protestant I had to stop buying books during certain parts of the year because all of the books in a certain cycle seemed to be the same thing with different words. So why add another voice to the crowd? First, I hope this is more than just another introduction to Orthodoxy. As a convert, I have fallen in love with the Orthodox Faith. From the beauty of the liturgy to the mystery of the sacraments. From the holiness of our sacred tradition to the diversity of people I see at every liturgy. I hope this is an introduction for you to see the beauty of God’s church in a new way.