This article was first published in the June print edition of Christianity Today.
Three brief excerpts in the efforts to unite evangelicals and Orthodox believers.
Four years ago in Istanbul, a humble Turkish book partially reversed the 11th century’s Great Schism. Catholics joined Eastern and Oriental Orthodox—alongside Protestants—to publish a slim, 12-chapter treatise on their common theological beliefs.
“You can’t find a page like this in all of church history,” said Sahak Mashalian, an Armenian Orthodox bishop and the principal scribe of Christianity: Basic Teachings. “It is akin to a miracle.”
If this is contemporary, here is history…
“The Copts largely resisted conversion,” Suriel wrote, “[but it] awakened in them a spirit of inquiry and an impulse to reform.”
Missionaries supplied Girgis [Orthodox founder of the Sunday School Movement] materials, and the Bible Society of Egypt gave him free or low-cost Bibles for his students, said Sinout Shenouda, the Orthodox vice-chair of its board. “The Americans initiated the idea, and the Orthodox came to imitate,” he said. “It was competition, but useful in that it profited from the missionaries rather than just attacking them.”
So what about the future?
Evangelical principles seep into traditional churches. Evangelicals do too—and the cross-pollination continues.
“I don’t think it is possible to overstate the influence of evangelical converts to Orthodoxy in terms of missions,” said Alex Goodwin, annual giving director for the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC). “It has been transformative for many of us who are ‘cradle Orthodox.’ ”
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