Recently, I was asked by to write as one of their “Cross Investigation” contributors. The question was asked to the group (including Andy Crouch, Douglas Groothuis, and Mark Roberts).

The Question for Cross Investigations #1:
“Evangelical churches are showing renewed interest in theology and theological training. If the church in America could recover one area of doctrine or theological tradition (i.e., ecclesiology, pneumatology, doctrine of God), what should it be?”

My answer:

“The evangelical tradition of the 20th century has a lot to commend it. Our emphasis on the Scriptures, the Gospel message proclaimed, and making the main things the main thing is very strong. Our ability to think outside the box can also serve the church well, as we can contextualize the Gospel with more relevance.

Our biggest problem comes in our ecclesiology. Not so much in the way we “do” church (although we do have many related problems here), but in our reverence for the church as the representative of Christ that goes back 2000 years. I once asked Bradley Nassif, an Orthodox theologian with evangelical sympathies, what he believed the biggest problem with evangelicalism is. He told me that we have “historical amnesia.” Ouch. I agree. And to fit this into our current issue of ecclesiology, evangelicals don’t realize that the churches we start and belong to fit into a 2000-year-old tradition of keeping the Gospel pure. The problem with our churches today is that we don’t know where we have come from and, therefore, often lose sight of where we are going. The Gospel is easily corrupted in such an environment. Therefore, while many people proclaim a “gospel” in evangelicalism, it is starting to look like nothing that ever went before it. What legitimizes a church to be a church? That is a question we rarely ask. We need to start asking it and look to those who have gone before us for the answer.”

I encourage you to read the rest here at the Patheos Evangelical Portal.

My biggest surprise is that every answer is different. I am the only one who got it right! 😉

Once you are done, come back here and give your answer to the same question. Evangelical or not, you are encouraged to participate.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    37 replies to "What is the Biggest Problem in Evangelicalism?"

    • Hodge

      I think our problem with ecclesiology is symptom of a larger problem that evangelicals, as Westerners, have with authority in general. People don’t care about what the Church has said for 2000 years because all that matters to them is their personal opinion. They don’t want the Church, historical or contemporary, telling them what to believe and what to do. The death of evangelicalism will be the millions of theological adolescents shouting, “You’re not the boss of me!”

    • Ed Kratz

      Hodge, YES! We have to include scriptural authority in there as well.

    • Susan

      Michael’s response rang more true to my observations of what has been lost in my own church (where I have been for 40 years) than any other response. If we went back to what was important 100 years ago when our church began we would see an entirely different mission. And yes, that would include the clarification of the gospel which came about with the Reformation.

    • Joe

      You are the biggest in evangelicalism.

      Yes, you are.

    • dac

      young earth creationism

      When youth realize all the hammisms have been shown to be wrong, there is nothing left of their faith

    • steve martin

      In my opinion, there are two huge problems in Evangelicalism.

      1) “Free will”

      2) The inability to distinguish God’s law from His gospel.

    • r,herodotou

      3800+ years ago Moses presented the Law and by the time the Christ arrived, the Law was corrupted (for the religion split into denominations) to the point not many recognized the Christ. The Christ presented the New Covenant and just like the Law Covenant was corrupted by divisions, so is the New Testament by the Church. This is the biggest problem with Evangelism.

      We just need to get back to basics and read the Bible from cover to cover not in passages.IMHO

    • Damon

      From my personal experience in several churches over the last 10 years, and from personal interaction with dear friends who I fear are sorely misguided on the concept of absolute truth, I would have to agree with both:

      Timothy Dalrymple – Theology of the Cross. Nobody wants to worship an ugly, beaten, broken, bleeding Jesus. We (the ‘modern’ church) seem to only want the loving, clean, giving, tender Jesus, who is ‘just like us’ and would ‘never hurt anyone’.

      Mark Roberts – Fully Biblical Theology. I think Mark covers this well. There is a root of corruption in the church. It goes to the veracity of the bible, the assault on tradition and ultimately the authority and character of God.

      I recently read that polls since 1944 indicate that although 50-60 percent of people believe in hell, only 3-4 percent think their chances are good of going there.

      Jesus is a…”stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”. Why? Because we cannot say what is true anymore in some of our churches.

      Just a thought….

    • Damon

      Steve #7

      Please expound….

    • I believe that the biggest problem with Evangelical Christianity is that we do not really believe we are sinners. We are good at mouthing it, but I think many times deep down we really believe we are generally good people who are made somewhat better by knowing Christ. Therefore we often do not evidence the love and humility that comes from the recognition that we are sinners saved by grace. Nor do we often evidence the trust and dependence on God that come from recognizing that apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). Therefore we can end up trusting in our programs, our organizations and our abilities rather than God.

    • steve martin


      “Free will”, decision theology, sets people off on the wron foot from the begining. It’s starts with ‘themselves (and their decision), and it continues with them (self-focus), and it ends with them. The onus is on ‘self’.

      Law/Gospel seperation.

      Evangelicals use the law as principles to make them better Christians, make their life “work”, and to receive rewards in Heaven.

      Well, their motives are pretty much shot, so…so much for rewards.

      And they mitigate the law so that it is managable (unlike Jesus’ full force re-presentation of the law in his Sermon on the Mount.

      The law ought be used (theologically) to kill us off to any pretense of goodness or righteousness by ‘what WE DO’.

      It should paint us into a corner so that there is no place to go…but to the cross of Christ.

      Then, when we realize our true need of God, the gospel can go to work on us and raise us again.

      Law/Gospel…not Law/Gospel/Law (they give the gospel to you with one hand…and take it back with the other by placing the burden of the law (the yoke of slavery) right back on your sholulders. The gospel just goes away.

      I hear it in sermons time after time, day after day, by well meaning preachers (on the radio).

      It’s a real shame. People in those churches just never really arrive. There is always one more book to read, or seven more principles to follow…but they can never rest in Christ Jersus and what He has done for them.

      That is a huge problem (I think).

    • Steve Allen

      Michael, you hit the nail right on the head!

      I’m a Baptist Bible College grad, and in the few years since graduation, I have been all over the theological map searching for the “fullness” of the faith in each area mentioned.

      Now, I believe I have finally found this fullness, in a communion that has been called “the best kept secret in America,” because while it is the second largest Christian communion in the world (behind Rome), it is virtually unknown in the States.

      As one of the sites from this church puts it, this faith is “evangelical, but not Protestant. It’s orthodox, but not Jewish. It’s catholic, but not Roman. It isn’t non-denominational; it’s pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago.”

      So which church is this? It’s the one Mr. Nassif belongs to: the Eastern Orthodox Church; and I am now a catechumen, entering into Her membership.

      I highly recommend anyone who is curious to check it out!

      However, I would give a couple of words of advice:

      1) Attend a Vespers (Sat. PM) service first. It is, IMHO, the least confusing to the “new guy.” Also, at 45 minutes to and hour, it’s the shortest. And since in most churches you stand the whole time, that’s very important. 🙂

      2) Check your assumptions at the door. Pretty much all of mine were wrong, and I’d bet dollars to doughnuts some if not all of yours are too.

      So ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. I mean, we’re talking about a church that has been around for all 2000 years (and has the documentation to prove it)! They might actually have something to say that you haven’t heard before, or that — while it doesn’t exactly square with your own understanding of things — is still true (“your understanding of things” being, frankly, wrong).

      And before you ask; no, we do not worship Mary. 🙂

      Grace, Mercy, and Peace in Christ,


    • Josh Mueller

      I think the greatest problem within evangelicalism is its obsession with trying to define who’s “in” and who is “out” in the distinction between the church and the world. The problem is not that a clear border-line doesn’t exist. But by treating those people who are perceived as non-believers as “out” and as those who don’t belong unless they go through certain initiation rites (i.e. sinner’s prayer, “asking Jesus into your heart” etc.), they are actually being pushed further away and given a very skewed image of what God’s grace actually means.

      I suggested a different approach at another blog once. I wrote:

      “But what if the whole point of repentance and conversion was not those rites but a waking up to the fact that God treats us as being “in” completely independent of any response? What if the prodigal sons and daughters never ceased being treated as true children of the Father? Why shouldn’t WE treat others exactly the same way?

      The point of pleading and of evangelism in general then becomes something much different. It’s a pleading to wake up to the reality of a love so limitless and amazing that it makes a compelling case to overcome our state of open rebellion or hiding in shame – a state in which we did not want or have been able to believe that such love and acceptance could truly exist.”

    • Rick

      Steve Allen-

      I may be reading your incorrectly, but you seem to imply that the Orthodox Church(s) does not believe in “free will”.

      From the Very Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky (Orthodox):

      “Only human beings have been created in the image of God, and like God Himself they are endowed with the gift of free will. The gift is gratis. That free will offering makes it both precious and dangerous. The offeror has the responsibility of developing his potential and living in communion with the Lord and with all others in his community, either using his gifts in selfish ways, neglecting his gifts, like the foolish man in the parable, burying them in the ground in case he is called to account for his life, or he will please the Lord of all gifts, multiplying them in a lifetime of labor.”

    • Brandon

      I think many doctrines are lacking, but one that really sticks out to me is salvation.

      So many people are running around wondering if they are saved, thinking they are saved, are saved but fall in and out of grace all the time, doing everything they can in “their own power” to be saved or to keep it.

      Many people today think that going to church is their salvation. They think the “church denomination” is their salvation. I have a very close relative who thinks going to church once a month is all he needs. He has many hobbies and doesn’t have time for church, but he will tell you that he is a believer and is saved.

      The lack of understanding the doctrine of salvation stems from not having good Biblical theology. I know from experience though, before I was called and regenerated, I couldn’t and wouldn’t understand the Bible. So maybe it’s more of what God does to us, and not what we think we can do for ourselves……Just a thought.

    • Damon

      Steven #11

      Amen brother and well put. Thanks for sharing.

    • Steve Allen

      @Rick (13):

      I apologize if you got from my comment that the Orthodox Church does not believe in free will. As you’ve pointed out, quite the contrary! 🙂

      Did you perhaps get Steve Martin (11)’s post mixed up with mine (12)?

      In XC,

      Steve Allen

    • steve martin

      Thank you, Damon.

    • Rick

      Steve #16-

      I did get you two mixed up. I need to wake up before commenting ;^)

    • Damon

      Steve Allen #12

      I am not convinced that ‘orthodoxy’ is the answer. I have nothing against the eastern orthodox church. If I understand it correctly, there is a good portion of ritualized liturgy. I have nothing against a formal liturgy. However, teaching people how to worship in a formalized manner does not address the root of the problem.

      Whether protestant or orthodox, it does not matter how it is packaged…we should have the same message for all believers.

      The telltale sign of the problems in the American church is…do they preach Christ crucified? 1 Corinthians 1: 21-31.

      The truth of Christ crucified can be denied/overlooked in protestant, orthodox or catholic churches…

    • W. Vida

      I think the biggest problem in evangelicalism is our lack of a big picture. We make the faith all about personal salvation but fail to see how God is acting in the broader world and building his kingdom. Personal salvation is like a carpenter building a cabinet but scripture is a story about a carpenter building a mansion.

    • Susan

      However, if we go too far in the other direction we fail to recognize that true transformation does not take place in the lives of individuals unless that hear the gospel and respond to in with saving faith! There’s only one way to be admitted into the kingdom after all….

    • Canadian

      The answers over at Patheos were thoughtful. As we can see, one question brings numerous and varied answers. I took a long look at Eastern Orthodoxy recently, and they would have to answer for many deficiencies if the question was posed to them, as well. We evangelicals have jettisoned so many things that it has sent many of us looking across the Bosphorus or the Tiber only to find that they too are lacking in some crucial areas the which the Reformers tried to address. However, the question posed at Patheos assumes that the current schism is ok. (Though schism is sin according to scripture, can it even be regarded as a sin in Protestantism?) It’s as if we are saying “we inherently have the right to pick and choose what doctrine or practice we would like to incorporate to improve ourselves.” But everyone picks and chooses differently because of their own tradition and its assumptions. The ancient church dogmatically proclaimed truths that were not negotiable especially regarding formulations of the Trinity and Incarnation, and these have serious implications for everthing else we believe and practice. We need authority, real authority.Not just human authority, but God’s authority IN the church which leads her into all truth. And we can see what happens when thousands of groups all hold up the scriptures and say “this is our only authority” all the while disagreeing with countless others proclaiming the same thing. We need authority in regards to soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology, anthropology, and especially theology proper and Christology. Would to God that the church was not divided….it creates so much uncertainty in all these areas if we have the guts to admit it. It seems that Rome and the East need us and we definately need them, but I pray God would bring unity and clarity for all of us. Remember, the church was virtually unified for nearly a thousand years with some exceptions. We need that again.

    • Steve Allen

      @Rick: no worries. 🙂

      @Damon (21): Regarding liturgy…everyone (and I mean everyone, even the home churchers) does liturgy. All liturgy is, is an order of service. Some are more flexible about the details than others, but everyone does the same (for them) outline every week.

      The question is more whether the liturgy actually means anything, or not. In Eastern Orthodoxy (EO from here on), pretty much every action and garment and thread has symbolic meaning, which proclaim visually, and in action, the faith. Even signing yourself with the sign of the Cross is a proclamation of belief in the Trinity, the dual nature of Christ (God and Man), the Incarnation, and His Death on the Cross; and it’s supposed to be an active identification with Him in the Cross, and a reminder that not only was He crucified, but we are crucified with Him, and, since He is alive evermore, we also shall live with Him. All this in a two-second (if you go slow) action.

      Regarding preaching Christ Crucified….I totally agree that we ought to preach Christ crucified, and that all too often churches forget about that. One thing I’ve found in EO is that, precisely because of the “formalized” liturgy, it is nigh unto impossible to forget about that. (I can say this especially after having gone through last night’s Passion Gospel service, in which they read the Passion story from ALL FOUR GOSPELS, interspersed with prayers and hymns….yes, the service was over three hours long!)

      @Canadian (24): I’m just curious here…how long a look was it, and how did you go about it?

    • Lee H


      1) I have to say it is Young Earth Creationism and what it represents, a lacking in scientific and rational understanding, which as you have said before is pushing more people out of the Church.

    • Canadian

      Steve Allen #25
      Thanks for the interest. I was a Calvinistic Baptist going along just fine until I began reading some Catholics (Bryan Cross for example) and some Orthodox (Perry Robinson for example) and some church fathers. Wow! You better be prepared to think deeply and have every cherished assumption and doctrine challenged by some of these formidable apologists. I couldn’t dismiss either Rome or Orthodoxy with a wave of the hand any more. I felt the East had the inside track historically so I left my church and began to attend regularly. This lasted about 2 years but due to an illness in the family, we attended much less regularly than we first intended. I love the liturgy, sign of the cross, icons, mystery, exhaustive focus on the Triune God and Incarnation, the constant appeal to conciliar dogma, basic idea of the communion of saints, the centrality of the eucharist, the historical connectedness, and the enormous amounts of scripture read every service. I disliked the absence of personal use and knowledge of the scriptures among the laity, the communication with angels and saints, excessive language regarding certain aspects of Mary, the weak proclamation of the Gospel, the ethnic divisions, the lack of a warm evangelistic zeal. I came away doubting that they actually are what they proclaim to be. They are Christian, but are they the church that Christ established 2000 years ago….hmmmm. So for now I am back at the Baptist church wondering why we refuse to allow our children into the covenant people, why we don’t use wine in the eucharist, why we don’t recognize the Christological reasons for the real presence in the Lord’s Supper and that Mary is the mother of God, why the walls are barren, why we have a stage but no altar, why we aren’t much more liturgical, why no creed. Yet, the preaching here is amazing, the people warm and caring, and the gospel central.

    • bethyada

      I am not certain what doctrine is most needed by I suspect that a right understanding of the Fall (?anthropology) would be of benefit in what appears to be an increasingly narcissistic generation.

      Christians’ thoughts about human nature seem to resemble pop psychology rather than right theology. And there seems to be a tendency to externalise evil, we see our difficulties due to bad circumstances rather than identifying sin in our own lives. Blame seems preferable to confession, and many do not recognise how badly man is broken. But such knowledge shows us how desperately we need a saviour.

      While suffering may lead us to grapple with the existence of evil, the types of questions makes me wonder that people do not really grasp the Fall, nor it cosmological extent.

    • Steve Allen


      Ok, well at least you actually attended! If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about the EOC, it’s that you absolutely cannot make a judgement based on internet or second hand information. You HAVE to experience the life of the church, and ask Lots and Lots of questions.

      Regarding the personal use and knowledge of the Scriptures among the laity…true. But that is the laity going directly against the counsel and recommendations of the leadership (unlike in the Roman church where the leadership actively discourages personal Bible reading). Protestants, in my experience, have the exact same problem.

      The communication with angels and saints is rooted in ecclesiology. To put it in a nutshell — they are alive in Christ. Now, it’s not healthy to expect them to actually reply when we talk to them. 🙂

      But to ask, for example, St. Timothy to pray for me in a certain matter is the exact same as asking YOU to pray for me in that matter. Better, even, since he is already “there”. Of course that does NOT preclude going to Christ. I ask St. Timothy, not to grant my request on his own, but to pray to the Father THROUGH Christ BY the Holy Spirit (same as we who are still here on earth do), with and for me. As St. Paul wrote: “There is ONE mediator between God and man: the man Christ Jesus.” Yet in the same chapter, “I will therefore that…intercessions…be made for all men.” The intercessions of the saints, both here and in heaven, are possible only in and through the one mediator, Christ. But since we DO have Him as mediator, the intercessions of the saints are definitely something we are to take advantage of and participate in.

      More in Part 2…

    • Steve Allen

      @Candian, pt. 2:

      Regarding Mary…yes, that has been the biggest sticking point for me, too. But once I realized that everything she is, she is in and through and by and because of her Son, Christ, and that she is ONLY human, and NOT to be worshipped in any way (although some of the poetics might confuse one on this point), now it’s fine. Now, every time they say something that might be construed as over-the-top, it reminds me of the person and work of Jesus, not Mary!

      Essentially, it’s Christological, not Mariological. I look to Mary in the same way I look to Paul….as a fantastic example of how to live the Christian life. Of course, in her case, there is the added bit about actually being the mother of God! So by the reckoning of the church, she’s the #1 human that’s not also God-by-nature. And that’s all.

      I’m not sure where you get the “weak proclamation of the Gospel” part. In my experience, the proclamation of the whole Gospel is front and center in everything they do! But maybe it’s a definitions thing, or maybe the particular local church you attended was weak on it.

      But having just returned from Matins of Holy Saturday, (which we did on Holy Friday night), including the Lamentations, and the homily by St. Ephiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, “On the Burial of the Divine Body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” etc., I can honestly say that I’ve never heard the Gospel so clearly AND fully declared in my life. Ever. Including in Baptist Bible College.

      Regarding evangelism, I like to think of the EOC as the original “lifestyle evangelists”. The problem is, as you’ve pointed out, that so many of the individual instances of the Church are ethnic social clubs as well, that they’ve lost the whole “go tell the world” part.

      Gladly, though, in the States, this attitude is going away quite rapidly, and a new dawn of evangelism is breaking.

      Anyway, I’m out of space, so I’ll conclude in the third (and final) part.

    • Steve Allen

      @Canadian: Pt. 3 (final)

      So in conclusion, I’m glad you gave it a real look! I totally sympathize with your condition now, being back in the Baptist church. I’m pretty sure that I could never go back — maybe for a visit “for old time’s sake”, but not permanently! Not now. Not after tonight, especially! I’ve never been fed so well, drank so deeply, as tonight. (spiritually)

      But to each his own. 🙂 We are each on a journey, and none takes the same path. (Not referring to salvation here.)

      At every step on the path, may the Lord bless you, and keep you, and cause the light of His face to shine upon you.

      O Holy Trinity, “keep us in Thy holiness, that all the day we may meditate upon Thy righteousness.”

    • Ed Kratz

      I’ve had a chance now to read through the panels thoughts. The one that most resonates with me is Mark Roberts, with this comment here

      “a fully biblical theology. I mean this literally. We need a truthful, and therefore expansive and engaging, understanding (logos) of God (theos), one that’s anchored to the Scripture and centered in the Incarnation.”

      The source of the problem, I believe and what Hodge has addressed, is denigration of the revelation of God and his ultimate authority. If we don’t see it as being about him and his purposes, then we have missed the boat. This provides the conduit through which we understand how the sub-disciplines line up.

      What has been thoroughly undermined in Evangelicalism is authority of Scripture and the disconnect with revelation. Scripture has become a model, a record, a self-help guide and a platform on which to build consumer oriented empires. This has influenced many theological disciplines, most notably soteriolgy and ecclessiology. I love how one panel member thought the problem was a low Biblical anthropology. If anything, I think our anthropology has become too significant and becomes the filter through which we arrive at our doctrine of God using scripture as a convenient accommodation when necessary.

      I do think tradition is important and protestant evangelicals have undermined this as well. But it is only important to the extent that it helps inform adequately balanced doctrines that are sourced in God’s revelation.

    • Susan

      Lisa, so true. I was talking with a woman at our church last week whom I have known for years and always thought was very solid…but I was amazed and disheartened by our conversation. She was questioning and doubting core doctrines …based on a postmodern perspective (it seemed to me). I finally said to her, “when it comes to scripture our attitude should be to bow in humble submission to what GOD is revealing to us, rather than to alter our perspective to what feels like the way a loving god should be toward us. She doubts there is a Hell…and the wrath of God to come. I tried to remind her that all of us deserve God’s punishment. She doesn’t think Sodom and Gomorrah were extinguished because of homosexuality…because homosexuals are ‘born that way’…so why would God call it sin and punish them. She has a few good friends who are non Christians now (which is good) but instead of sharing the gospel with them she is just kind to them and leaves the rest up to the Holy Spirit…and she is skeptical about evangelism (typical at our church now).

      I used to think that the biggest problem at our church was that our pastor had lost sight of the mission of the church–to proclaim the gospel, but now I see an even deeper problem– that the gospel itself is being watered down from the pulpit…in very subtle ways. Sometimes it is the omissions which concern me more that what he does say….but our pastor emphasises is also of concern. It seems that the message he heralds is that it is our mission to bring about shalom and ‘human flourishing’ by our good deeds in the world…thus redeeming culture. There seems to be very little concern about personal salvation. He’s a big fan of N.T. Wright, and I think that some of it comes via his influence.

      My heart aches for our church. The pendulum has swung way too far, for far too long. To even mention the word ‘evangelism’ at this point is to set myself up for a barrage of defensive rhetoric.

    • Canadian

      Steve Allen,
      When it comes to scripture, this is different than evangelicals who don’t read their bibles because they are lazy. My priest said “don’t trust in the scriptures, trust in Christ.” Now, I understand what he is driving at whereas a typical evangelical would not. But this is the basic view of EO and it causes them to have very little urgency for their people to know the written word, AS WELL AS the living Word, for fear of missinterpretation. When I read a book from a monastery that we need to be daily communicating with our guardian angel, It jolted me back to where I am now. Not because I think we are not in the same living fellowship and communion as the angels and saints, but that I don’t think it is right. You don’t see this kind of thing for several centuries, even in the east. I love the memorial/feast days for saints to remember and learn the faith of our fathers (this to me is proper communion with them as they are certainly alive) but to communicate with them is a later development and I think unwarranted. Though Revelation indicates those in heaven may cry out to God for the earthly church, this is in a general way and does not imply they have divine properties to hear direct appeals from thousands of believers at once.
      In regards to Mary, I drive my Baptist brethren crazy when I exclaim that there is NO salvation without her! And that to believe she is NOT the Mother of God is NOT Christian. And that she is not just any Jewish chic who happened to be available but that she consented to the voice of an angel in obedience to God whereas the first woman consented to the voice of an angel in disobedience to God. I love some of the lofty poetic laguage about Mary which reveals her role in the Incarnation, but some of the Akathist prayers are too much. Regarding the gospel, I am referring to the free gift of righteousness through and because of Jesus Christ not just the free access to synergistic theosis which is greatly emphasised.

    • Steve Allen


      On the Scriptures, I only know that every EO leader I’ve talked to laments the fact that their people are lazy in this regard (sounds familiar); and they actively encourage them to know and study the Scriptures. Maybe it’s just different in my area?

      Also, if a leader does not believe that personal Scripture study is good or beneficial, one need only point him to the Church Fathers, who all with one voice proclaim that it is absolutely necessary! (For growth in the Lord, that is.)

      LOL @ you driving your Baptist brethren crazy with Mary. 🙂 The Akathist is precisely what I was referring to in the “over-the-top” part. But then I realized that we are singing it while facing an icon of Mary WITH Christ, and the parts that cannot be for any but Christ must actually be sung to Him. However, I would put an explanatory note to that affect in the book, which they don’t do. That has been the one sticking point.

      But for me, it was a question of “this is clearly the church with the ‘inside track’ on the historical side. They also have the fullest, most complete, richest worship and theology I’ve ever encountered anywhere. Ok, so they go over-the-top a bit on Mary in the Akathist, but that can be explained (see above). Ok, so they call their priests “father,” which Jesus said not to do. Ok, so they are human. But is there any other church that has the catholicity of the faith?” For me, the answer was a resounding “no.” Especially after Holy Week.

      Regarding evangelism, according to St. Paul himself, the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures, i.e. the Kingdom of God in Christ, Who “trampled down death by death.”

      The Gospel is NOT justification by faith. “Justification by faith” is what happens when you believe the Gospel; it is not the Gospel.

      And synergistic theosis is what follows (commonly called “sanctification” in the Baptist world), as preparation in this world for life in the next.

    • Adam

      *Some* people have turned Christianity into a religion about the bible rather than Jesus. Not naming names….

    • Anon

      Canadian – you might try a different parish – you can wind up with a pastor with strange directives or an apathetic congregation anywhere. Believe me, I’ve been in questionable Churches in a bunch of denominations. However, having been in 4 Orthodox parishes as a “regular”, while they are all different, I’ve never had the experience of Bible reading being discouraged. Our current parish runs Bible studies and our priest teaches Bible study at other parishes as a volunteer. Similarly, we are expected to read the Bible daily. Having said that, it is very true that the focus is always on Christ – including the insistence that the entire Scriptures are to be understood in terms of Christ Himself. That was something that disarmed me when we turned to Old Testament studies.

      You guys are a bit hard on St. Romanos! The Akathist hymn was one of the things that attracted me to Orthodoxy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.