I have desired to write about my recent journey towards the Orthodox Christian faith for some time. Having been in the process of converting, for something like a year now, I am just now at the point where I think I can begin to comment on it (it often takes time to process significant moments in one’s life). In large part, these writings are geared for my family and close friends who have repeatedly asked me “why Orthodoxy?” Such a question is much more involved than one can imagine. It’s not as if the Orthodox Church lends itself to platitudes and “drive-by” inquiries. Many in the West have never had contact with the Orthodox Church, never even thought about the Orthodox Church, and even fewer have a full orbed understanding of its treasure trove of liturgy and theology. Giving a “full orbed” understanding is not the intent of these articles; rather I wish to present my own journey and some of the milestone, theological “awakenings” I have experienced thus far.
I have noticed that those closest to me are not at all interested in benign and superficial answers to the “why”. I sense in most of them a true desire to understand, perhaps not Orthodoxy as such, but my reasons for turning to Orthodoxy in light of my background in the faith. Being raised Mormon, then renouncing Mormonism as a teenager and becoming “born-again” in what would be labeled an independent, charismatic, evangelical church (too many titles to choose from), turning to Orthodoxy has come as a bit of a shock to many who know me well.
I invite you to enter into the journey with me, at least on some level, and hear about the Christian faith from the Orthodox perspective. I promise that you will find many things/concepts so foreign as to be almost offensive, and many things that you have always believed about Christ and the Christian life but were afraid to face the wrath of evangelical Christianity if you were to commit yourself to such knowledge.
With Orthodoxy you always have one thing on your side: you have the whole range of the historic Church from the Apostles to the present day, captured in the writings of the Church Fathers and defenders of Orthodoxy over the course of two millennium from which to measure and test your own ideas about God. One is never again at the whim of the newest trend in Christian scholasticism, to whatever new idea a particular minister may have thought up, or even any long standing traditional interpretation of biblical concepts (such as salvation, baptism, the end-times, speaking in tongues, etc).
One closing note, I will not attempt any thorough “apologetic,” or defense, of Orthodoxy (as my natural inclinations always seems to be when discussing anything theological). Orthodoxy is very content to know what it knows and know what it doesn’t know without making a big fuss over it. Primarily because, as my priest told me at the beginning of my journey, the way of the Orthodox is not, ironically, to be right (ironic because Orthodoxy literally means: “right thinking” or “right worship”). The Orthodox way is a living, existential mode of being. It is not primarily a collection of abstract doctrines and dogmas, but a transformation from an existence of autonomy and death to an existence of communion and life in Christ. Orthodoxy does not invite you into an argument where there are only losers; it invites you to come home.