This week I’m excited to have two episodes on the podcast – one part of the season and another bonus episode – that deal with the Eastern Orthodox Church. I don’t know about you, but growing up I know of the small Pentecostal/charismatic churches I grew up in, Methodist, Baptist, and Catholic – that was it. And really, if you grew up in either a Pentecostal denomination or similar non-denominational setting, those other churches weren’t spoken ill of from the pulpit directly, but it was made clear that we were the only ones who had the “full gospel” – which means a second baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.
I was 18 years old and a freshman in college before I learned anything of substance about church history, it was something that expanded my worldview a little, but nothing beyond that class. Which isn’t surprising because I was never taught about the church fathers and mothers growing up – it had to have happened in the Bible, been a pretty prominent figure like Martin Luther, or after the Azusa Street revival to know much about it. There was a very large chunk of about 1500 years that wasn’t taught or even mentioned, almost as if God didn’t truly reveal himself until the Second Great Awakening or on Azusas street and all those other people who has been faithfully practicing their faith for over a millennia missed something.
In fact, many things that I was taught in church growing up were new ideas and new beliefs that had just come into the church in the mid to late 1800’s – rapture, dispensationalism, penal substitutionary atonement – these things aren’t found in thousands of years of church history, but they become the prominent belief in churches in the last les than 200 years.
All of this to say – there is a rich, vibrant, and multi-layered Christian faith practice that has been around long before the United States, long before the evangelical church, and long before what many of us were taught was church history. They faithfully follow Jesus, they have sustained in caves and catacombs, and have many writings and stories out there that go deeper into who God is and have theology and insight that is still practical today. Don’t write it off because it’s different than what you’re used to, don’t judge their spiritual walk and depth because it doesn’t look like yours or your church’s, but listen and hear their words and how God has sustained his church for 2,000 years.
A new episode will be on the podcast on Wednesday talking to someone who deconstructed their evangelicalism and converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church and on Friday there is a bonus episode where I interview a local parish priest about some of the beliefs and the history of the Eastern Orthodox church in America. I look forward to you listening to those and hearing from others outside the American evangelical church.