Eastern Orthodox Lose Two Evangelical Bridges

Christianity Today:

Metropolitan Jonah, by most accounts the highest-ranking, evangelical-friendly archpriest in North America’s Eastern Orthodox Church, resigned under duress in July.

His removal has observers less concerned about his leadership shortcomings, which allegedly led to his removal, than about the widening gap between conservatives and the Orthodox Church.

“His efforts were the most explicit attempt by any Orthodox hierarch to join with evangelicals and other conservatives in a common social agenda,” North Park University professor Brad Nassif said of Jonah’s nearly four-year tenure as primate.

Jonah, a former Episcopalian, was especially popular among the convert wing of the Orthodox Church of America (OCA), which in 2008 constituted 51 percent of the denomination’s 85,000 North American adherents, according to the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute.

His ecumenical social efforts also endeared him to a wider conservative audience. In 2009, he linked arms with prominent evangelicals and conservative Catholics in signing the Manhattan Declaration, which defended a traditional definition of marriage and denounced abortion.

His bold social stances drew the ire of members of his own community, according to conservative pundit and Orthodox convert Rod Dreher.

Dreher, who broke the news of Jonah’s resignation, compared the OCA synod in a blog post to “a pack of ravening wolves” that he said has long been trying to unseat its leader.

The New York-based synod countered the Internet buzz with a statement outlining the allegations that led to Jonah’s forced resignation, including that Jonah knowingly harbored a priest accused of rape in his diocese.

The synod said its request “came at the end of a rather long list of questionable, unilateral decisions and actions, demonstrating the inability of the Metropolitan to always be truthful and accountable to his peers.”

Jonah’s resignation came only five days after the death of 73-year-old Peter Gillquist, who infused evangelical fervor into the Antiochian Orthodox Church beginning in 1987, when he led some 2,000 of his Protestant followers into Eastern Orthodoxy.

“If he had not come into the church and brought those people in, our church would have atrophied to the point of near extinction,” Nassif said. “Gillquist came along at the right moment in American Orthodox history.”

Among his many accomplishments, Gillquist helped create the first Orthodox study Bible and served for a quarter of a century as chairman of the archdiocese’s department of missions and evangelism.

Gillquist, like Jonah, served as a critical bridge for relations between evangelicals and Orthodox, having spent the majority of his career on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ before his conversion.

Frederica Mathewes-Green, a prominent Orthodox author and speaker, called the losses a “double blow” to American Orthodoxy. However, she doesn’t believe this will affect relations between the two groups.

“The change that has taken place so steadily over the years can’t be undone by these two losses,” she said. “And yet, they are losses we regret all the same.”



23 thoughts on “Eastern Orthodox Lose Two Evangelical Bridges

  1. Indeed the loss of Peter Gillquist is huge, he was a true Evangelical Orthodox in American Orthodoxy! I have had that Orthodox Study Bible (NT, NKJV), myself, since it first came out, (Thomas Nelson). A nice tool for understanding generally Orthodox theology and the Bible.

  2. This article is really atrociously bad journalism. Rod Dreher is hardly a reliable source on the Orthodox Church. Having himself been involved in underhand dealings to create division, he is now promoting conspiracy theories (together with other vitriolic bloggers) as to why Metropolitan Jonah was asked to resign. No Orthodox Christian should take seriously a man who can refer to his bishops as a “pack of ravening wolves.”

  3. And a very anti-catholic underlay..sadly.

    Gilquist sadly took his Evangelical anti-Romanism and simply adapted it.

    The Orthodox contracept and divorce and re-marry up to three times. In my view they have been punished so much in history. Islam wiped out the Byzantine pretensions…the Ecumenical Patriarchate is reduced to a tiny sect in a city of twenty million Muslims and can only comment authoritatively on ” green ” issues. I kid you not. Man proposes..God disposes. And I won’t even start on the Communism and the orthodox.

    Some of the most anti Catholic persons I have met were Eastern Orthodox.

    1. Indeed, he rarely has fully correct historical lines, but almost always presses his own bias and even prejudice. His shot at the Rev’d Fr. Gilquist gives not one real historical reference! Just a negative and really “hate” type statement about the EO in general, and again Gilquist personally…once again poor ad hoc and ad hom! Like R. Catholicism has not had some of their own haters! And sadly, all Christian so-called Communions have had such men.

  4. And yet you, IrishAnglican, profess to be an Evangelical and call yourself Father! In my Evangelical days NO eVangelical Anglican would ever use that title.

    I restate my case..there is a serious anti Catholic bias amongst the Orthodox, and I feel long term unity with them is as unrealistic as union with Anglicanism. You have obviously not read the literature that came from Gilquist and his grouping.

    The Byzantine schism came unstuck 400 years after it started, with the collapse of the Byzantine empire and similarly Protestantism is now coming to an end, 400 years after the Reformation.

    Thanks for not making fun of my typo’s anyway.

    1. @Robert: First, we all make typo’s! 😉 And, as I have said many times, I used to be something of an Anglo-Catholic myself years past, and many if not most of my older friends call me “Father” still. And so it is useful still now as my work as a hospital chaplain. Many people seem to feel at ease with the term. I could myself live without the title, but as I have said so many times before, it is a Pauline term itself, as Paul used it pastorally in 1 Cor. 4:15. Indeed many Anglican evangelicals don’t use the term, seeing it Roman Catholic, etc. But the EO use it also. And I have too been somewhat close to them too in my Anglican history, being at one time in an Anglican/Orthodox fellowship, mostly fellow priests & theolog’s. And then of course there is our “Father” Abraham, (Rom. 4: 1, etc.) Finally, as I have also mentioned, I am certainly eclectic! And certainly I can be a “pain” among my Anglican Evangelical’s also! 😉 Yes, I seen my ministry at times to be a combination of pastor-teacher, and certainly a prophetic (kerygmatic type), in seeking scholastic and historical-theological method. Yes, I am always an old “theolog”!

      As to the “Reformation”, and certainly Calvinism, this is certainly not “coming to an end”! And if I must, I will use the term, “Calvinism”. Though I am an Anglican one, certainly! (Note those three certainly’s) Indeed, I don’t agree with much at all of your historical and theological use of words and meaning! And btw, I would be nice to hear about “your” religious and theological history! I mean we all come from some…place! And I do seek to write in some sense of Chiristian brotherhood, myself! 🙂

      1. Btw, I know ALL about certain EO groups, that are definitely sectarian, but the “autocephaious” (self-governing) nature of the EO can be problematic, certainly! But, the overall rich history of the EO, and btw their great dogmatic work of the Ecumenical Councils – in that definition of that portion of the creed of Christendom…the theology proper of the doctrines of the essential nature of the Godhead and the doctrine of the Godhead in relation with manhood in the Incarnation, i.e. both the Trinity of God, and the Incarnation of the Logos! Here, we are always in great debt to our Orthodox Brethren! 🙂

  5. Well, I don’t think it is to ‘hate’ orthodoxes to point out that they are really biased toward Catholicism. An example: the patriarch of Moscow recently prefaced a book by a monk whose point was to proove that we Roman Catholics aren’t even Christian, but “papolatrists”….
    And in former USSR, the orthodox Church is still using its influence to prevent full religious liberty. Another example: in May, the orthodox Bishop of Odessa asked the mayor of the city to forbid the Corpus Chrisi procession of the Catholic Community, threatening him if he does’nt comply to ask his people not to vote for him at the next election. The mayor complied and the police seized the canopy and the monstrance when the parish attempted to carry on with the procession… The same interdiction happened in Minsk (Belarus) back in 2011.
    When Bishop Hilarion travelled in Italy, he was offerend to sing a Liturgy in the basilica of St Appollinarius. Do you imagine cardinal Sodano beeing offered to say Mass in the church of the Mother of God of Kazan in St Petersburg? Impossible. The dialog with orthodoxy is fruitless in the same way than with the Anglicans: we do make compromises and seeks good relations, they don’t and carry on with whatever agenda they have, beeing a modernist one for the Anglicans, and a Cesaro-patriarchalist for the Orthodoxes.
    Another problem with orthodoxes is that those Churches imagine they own the souls of their faithfuls and are constantly denying religious freedom. It’s not our fault (they accuse us of “proselytism”) if people are fed up with them and convert to another confession! Did you know that in the last 20 years, 10% of the practicing Christians in Russia have walked out from the orthodox Church and are now either Protestants (7%) or Catholics (3%)?

    + PAX et BONUM

    1. This was supposed to be an answer to “irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert says: September 8, 2012 at 01:24”. I don’t know why it’s here.

    2. @Henri: Just to help you out here, it is perhaps better to refer to the Eastern Orthodox, as the EO, or just Orthodoxy! And it is no secret that I have been actually very close to the EO over the years! Yes, I really love much of their theology and so-called “orthopraxy”! Though on some major theological places, especially the Pauline Imputation, Adoption..etc., I have big disagreements. Let me recommend (for those that might read them?), two nice books by Protestants on the EO – Through Western Eyes, Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective, by Robert Letham, (Mentor, 2007). And, Eastern Orthodoxy, Through Western Eyes, by Donald Fairbairn, (WJK, 2002). Both are friendly, but certainly fair!

      Btw, I think the long hatred between the EO and Rome, really has more to do with the Great Schism. 9th-10th century. Of course Rome verses Constantinople, i.e. power! But, too some theological differences, iconoclasm, jurisdictional matters, etc. Again, mostly ecclesiastical powers, created factions. But I would btw, agree basically on the Filioque with the EO! The Father is the regal and even the monarchy of the Godhead, here even Augustine would follow on the latter!

      Sadly, I think your “straining” out a gnat, but to swallow a camel! (Matt. 23:24) And yes, I know many on both sides do it! Our Lord Jesus hates it without doubt! Whew our Lord has much to say about such a “spirit” in Matthew 23! Again here is that old “Judaization”!

      1. I was not AT ALL speaking about theology or anything. I just say, as a resident of an Eastern European country where orthodoxes are the majority, and Catholics are just above 10%, that we are treated dreadfully by the orthodox majority. Most of them really do hate catholicism and catholics, and wish the state to listen to them and put an end to our mere existence.

        + PAX et BONUM

      2. “or anything”? It seems we all must learn to elevate ourselves and thinking ‘In Christ’, but of course not everyone who names Christ, really knows and loves Christ. This is always the sad truth! I have had some EO just loathe me, because I am Irish. Iv’e been to Europe too. And you are right about many Eastern Europen EO, sadly. So that road is sad and real! But still the life and reality of Christ, especially “crucified” in HIs people, must needs be seen and lived, even if it falls short. There is really no place of “hate”, at least for people in true Christianity!

  6. Thanks Henri..the proof of the pudding is always in the eating.How can stating the truth be hate. the Orthodox accept contraception and divorce and re-marriage up to 3 times.They have not got the successor of Peter and the living magisterium of God.

    1. Sorry Robert, but speaking completely negative of the EO is just absolute nonsense! YOU sir sound just like another Traditional Roman Catholic bigot! (I saw my share of those in Dublin Ireland as a lad!) Again, sorry but one must call them as they see them! Our Lord said…”for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12: 34)

  7. Just thought I’d throw this in: A Glass of water

    Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) :

    “You are quiet right to emphasize that Orthodoxy is the Church. It is the Catholic, Universal Church of Christ on Earth. We respect the other Christian bodies, but we believe that the Orthodox Church is the One True Church of Christ on Earth. Not because of our own merits, for we are sinners, but because of God’s Grace and we must not forget this. The ethnic element in Orthodoxy,the different national traditions, Serbian, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Georgian, these are very precious, but they must not obscure, the fundamental, Ecumenical and Catholic element of the Orthodox truth. We are not here as a group of ethnic associations, we are here as the church of Christ on Earth, so we need to keep this in mind. To preserve all that is good in our national heritages, but never to allow the ethnic element to obscure the catholic unity of the Church. We could use the analogy of a glass of water. The water in the glass is the life giving through of Orthodoxy. The glass that contains the water is the ethnic traditions that hold us together. To drink the water we need the help of the glass, but the glass must be transparent, not opaque. we must be able to see the thought of Orthodoxy through the glass; we must not forget that it is the drink of water that matters, not the glass.”

    1. Great quote Fr. from Kallistos, or Timothy Ware! 🙂 Of course he is Brit and an Englishman by birth. I wonder sometimes how many people, both Roman Catholic and Orthodox have actually read him? Just a great Orthodox Christian! His book: The Orthodox Way is well worth the read! (As of course his classic: The Orthodox Church).

  8. A latin/roman catholic cathedral in brazil has had several masses for freemasons (widely documented online), gay masses are de rigeur at several cosmopolitan roman catholic cathedrals. We all point out various heresies and shortcomings. I wouldnt be too arrogant if I were either Orthodox catholic or Roman catholic. Both have their comparitive corruptions amongst individual members and individual hierarches. The SSPX would be happily in good standing if Romes current leadership were without fault. The “True Orthodox” old calendarists would also be without motivation were calendar changes, theological changes and ecumenism not detriments to the faithful. None of this is as simple as it seems.

    1. Anyone who expects either The Church or his local church to be filled with sinless people will…be sadly disappointed. The Church and churches are filled to the brim with sinners in need of salvation, which is why The Church and church exist. (Being heretical (heresy) is not the same thing as being a sinful (sin); not all sinners are heretics.) We, both clergy and laity, all fall short of the mark. And we should all be working cooperatively and prayerfully for Christian unity in a secularizing western world.

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