Contours of Conversion and the Ecumenical Movement
Some Personal Reflections
by Hieromonk Alexios Karakallinos
A talk presented at the September, 2004 conference
"Ecumenism: Origins, Expectations, Disenchantment", sponsored by the School
of Pastoral Theology, The Aristotelian University, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Christ is “the true light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world,”
and as Saint John Chrysostom notes, “grace is shed forth upon all, turning itself
back neither from Jew, nor Greek, nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor free, nor bond,
nor male, nor female, nor old, nor young, but admitting all alike, and inviting
with an equal regard.” In other words, Christ calls all “to come to the knowledge
of the truth.” Although some of the nations have different names today, Christ
still continues His same work drawing many who were born into heterodox communities
to the Orthodox Church. Their accounts of how they have come to Orthodoxy are like
unto a tapestry woven from the wonderful workings of grace and the mystery of the
human heart. There are many reasons why someone in a heterodox confession may come
to Orthodoxy, but the most important factor is always the presence and influence
of divine grace that acts in various ways and at various times, touching the soul
of someone who is receptive to illumination and leading him to seek the Truth and
then sell all that he has in order to acquire that pearl of great price, the Orthodox
I believe that I have been asked to speak on this topic, because, by the mercy of
God, divine grace has also touched my own heart, initially leading me to the Orthodox
Church and eventually to the Holy Mountain of Athos, even though I was lovingly
raised in a small Protestant household in a small town in America where I neither
encountered a single Orthodox parish nor had any contact with a single Orthodox
Christian. In my youth, I was taught that all Christian denominations were basically
the same and that the divisions between them were unimportant. Nevertheless, experience,
common sense, and illumination from God made me question that teaching central to
the ecumenical movement. When I was fourteen years old and attending Methodist Sunday
school at the church where my grandfather was formerly the pastor, I asked my Sunday
school teacher, why should I be a Methodist and not a Roman Catholic, or a Presbyterian,
or a Baptist? How do I know that Methodism is true? My teacher had no good answer
for me, and that is when my own long search began. I see my path and search reflected
in the many accounts of others who have also turned from heterodoxy to Orthodoxy
and from those accounts and my own personal experience I would like first to sketch
the general contours of how someone converts to Orthodoxy and then to suggest some
of the implications this has for Orthodox involvement in the ecumenical movement.
One Church and the Action of Grace
Before proceeding, I should mention that most protestants, like most Christian ecumenists,
do not identify the article of the Creed, “I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and
Apostolic Church” with any particular community of Christians, much less with the
Orthodox Church. They envision the Church as encompassing everyone irrespective
of dogmatic differences. From my own experience, I can say that it is difficult
for protestants to grasp the idea that Christ founded only one Church, which historically
continues to exist today as the Orthodox Church, the only Church that has preserved
both historical apostolic succession in its episcopacy and the apostolic, ascetic,
and patristic traditions that encompass the sacramental and ascetic life of the
believer. Protestants recognize that Christ is their Savior, the Noah of the
New Covenant, as Saint Cyril of Alexandria refers to our Lord, but they do not realize
that the Church is the ark, as real and concrete as an ark of wood and as essential
for salvation from the floods of this world as a ship is for those drowning at sea.
Similarly, it is not easy for those outside of the ark of the Church to realize
how Divine Grace is uniquely present in the Mysteries of the Orthodox Church. Just
as the blazing sun shines without regard on all people, good and bad alike, so God
loves, illumines, and touches with His grace also the souls outside of the Church,
inviting them in many different ways, comforting them, and even working miracles
when they call upon Him in faith. Notwithstanding, these other confessions do not
have the means to purify, illumine, and deify the believer through the sacramental
and ascetic life.
I recall weeping as a child when my mother would read to me about Christ’s crucifixion
and afterwards feeling Christ’s nearness. I also recall being healed of a crippling
childhood disease as a direct miraculous answer to prayer. I attribute both of
those experiences to the initial action of external grace upon the soul. Notwithstanding,
the grace present in the Orthodox Church involves more than the granting of physical
health or proper emotional feelings towards the Savior. The grace of and in the
Church is the grace that after Baptism works within the soul purifying us of the
passions in conjunction with our own ascetic endeavor, cleansing the image of God
within, and thus enabling us to have continuous union with Christ in the heart.
This grace, that can produce Saints, is available only in the Orthodox Church to
the Orthodox Christian who struggles lawfully to be purified and sanctified and
partakes of the life-giving mysteries of the Church. Those who have known a Christian
way of life before becoming Orthodox and then after becoming Orthodox struggle lawfully
to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit through the immaculate mysteries and the
ascetic life humbly lived can offer empirical proof for these statements by comparing
their lives before and after entering the Orthodox Church.
It should be clear from what we have just said that in our relations with those
outside of the Church, it is imperative that we do not act in a way that hinders
the initial workings of the grace of illumination in their lives. Of course, our
own struggle to attract divine grace can give us the sensitivity and knowledge,
which will prepare us to discern how to provide the appropriate conditions for this
initial grace to act. Being able to recognize the characteristics of the activity
of grace that are observed in many who are turning from heterodoxy to Orthodoxy
will also enable us to recognize when we should speak and when we should keep silent.
In most people who turn to Orthodoxy, myself included, we find the very characteristics
that are present in those who have received the gift of repentance. We already know
these characteristics from our own personal repentance. They include: the pain of
a broken and humble heart, a determination to find the Truth regardless of the costs,
a humble mindset that makes it possible to consider another perspective and hear
another voice apart from the voice of one’s own self-centeredness, a willingness
to make comparisons between what one has known and what is being revealed, and a
determination to make a change in one’s life.
Unfavorable Conditions: Those Who Do not Convert
Of course, as the ecumenical movement and involvement in the World Council of Churches
clearly show, not everyone who is exposed to Orthodoxy necessarily converts, even
if many admire certain aspects of the Orthodox faith. In fact, Frank Schaeffer asks
the question, “How many converts have the ecumenists made amongst the heterodox
in the last sixty years? How many evangelistic efforts have they mounted to reach
Protestants, Roman Catholics, and others with Orthodoxy? The answer to both questions
is ‘none.’” Outside of the universal failure of ecumenism to bring people to
the faith, human factors like thorns can choke the seed, deluded notions like birds
can take the seed away, and an improper approach like shallow soil can prevent the
seed from ever putting down roots.
We can all empathize with the human factors that choke the seed making a conversion
to Orthodoxy difficult. For many heterodox, their ties to their confession are emotionally
powerful with associations that span a lifetime. A former American protestant admitted,
“Whenever I visit an old Episcopalian Church I am flooded with nostalgia. I think
of my mother.” Someone else struggling to decide wrote, “My father, I thought,
would have been deeply hurt by what he would have seen as my rejection of the Church
of my upbringing.” Things seemingly wise, such as the writings of Thomas Acquinas,
things beautiful, such a Gothic Cathedral, and things familiar such as friends in
one’s community are hard to walk away from. My own mother wept when she saw
me rejecting the religion of my childhood, but now by the grace of God, she too
is an Orthodox Christian. For those in the clergy, practical considerations such
as a promising career and a high salary make the choice seem exceedingly difficult.
Of course, such considerations stem from a worldly mindset that must be discarded
for a healthy entry into the Orthodox Church. We need to humbly encourage these
people to acquire a strong enough faith to truly believe that “there is no man that
hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children,
or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now
in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and
lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.” Of course,
this means that we must show these people that we are their brethren and that heterodox
confessions are houses to be left behind. Naturally, ecumenism would tell them to
remain in their own houses.
Another set of stumbling blocks that resemble birds that remove the seed arise from
misconceptions and deluded notions about the heresy with which one is associated
and about the nature of Orthodoxy; many of these notions are intentionally promulgated
by ecumenists themselves. Many sincere heterodox Christians, if not the majority
of them, continue in their confession on the basis of false assumptions about their
confession. One former Anglican priest felt for years that “the Church of England
taught the full Orthodox faith.” Another would ignore the heresy clearly present
in his confession. Another still would even harbor false hopes that ecumenism
would unite Anglicans with the Orthodox. To such people, we are obliged to reveal
the Truth with discretion, even though it will be painful for them and again in
opposition to the approach of ecumenism that shies away from painful subjects.
Perhaps, the most difficult problem involves those who approach Orthodoxy with a
level of complacency with respect to their heterodox confession that does not permit
them to put down roots and probe Orthodoxy, but only to judge Orthodoxy according
to appearance. If such was not the case of the respected historian Sir Steven Runciman,
it certainly is the case of the protestant theologian, Daniel Clendenin. Both men
have written books in admiration of much in Orthodoxy, but never taken the step
to become Orthodox. In particular, Clendenin’s pitfall involves the acceptance of
the false and superficial ecumenical view that the Orthodox and evangelicals hold
the ecumenical councils in common and his distant investigation of Orthodoxy without
a personal commitment. His position of admiration without commitment is common
to those in the ecumenical movement who seek unity, but not salvation. It’s
not enough, however, to admire the Truth. It must be embraced. And in fact those
who simply admire the Truth don’t really believe it is the Truth, but simply one
truth among many others also worthy of admiration.
The Possibility for Conversion: a Broken and Contrite Heart
Those who do convert to Orthodoxy, like all of us whom God leads to genuine repentance,
can overcome human factors such as personal and family ties, break through false
conceptions about the Truth, and approach the Truth properly, because of what David
the Prophet king calls “a broken and contrite heart,” leading to what Saint
Gregory the Theologian calls “the beautiful conversion” in which “the more blissful
comes out of the painful.” It is “pain of heart” that enables those in heterodoxy
to no longer trust their own reasoning, views and emotions, so that they can
take the claims of Orthodoxy seriously, critique their own beliefs, and ask themselves
what matters most in life. In fact, Saint Barsanuphios the Great says, “without
pain of heart no one receives the gift of discerning thoughts.” And this applies
to the entire spectrum of discernment. The trials, the tribulations, the sorrows,
the crises that bring about this pain of heart are among the greatest blessings
from God, for they bring about that due season in which views can be reexamined
and a turning towards Orthodoxy can take place.
For many, the first steps towards Orthodoxy are made by recourse to God on account
of physical and emotional pain. An American black woman describes her life in the
inner city in terms of drinking, fighting, and broken marriages. In the midst of
terrible back pain, she turned to Christ and earnest prayer that eventually led
her to Orthodoxy. Father Moses Berry’s journey to Orthodoxy began when he was
alone in his prison cell facing a ten-year sentence. With great pain of heart, he
called for Christ’s help promising to serve Him, and on that very day he was released.
For a feminist and practicing witch named Catherine, the pain of broken marriages
and being haunted by evil humbled her to the point of seeking Baptism into the Orthodox
For those more deeply involved in their heterodox confession, pain of heart is often
generated by a personal crisis in response to the failure of that confession to
reflect the Christianity of the gospels. A goodly number of Episcopalian laymen
and clergy began looking outside of Anglicanism in response to the crises over the
ordination of women to the priesthood and the proclamation of clearly heretical
teachings by their bishops. Protestant pastors from other confessions likewise
came “to the conclusion that the mainline Protestant denominations were theologically
bankrupt,” a conclusion that led them to Orthodoxy. Other protestant pastors
would become “tremendously” disillusioned by serving a mainline Protestant denomination
if they were not already disillusioned with Protestantism by their exposure to it
in seminary, as was the case with the now Orthodox writer Clark Carlton. For
former evangelicals such as Peter Gilquist involved in the missionary organization,
Campus Crusade, their failure to bring about lasting conversions to Christ made
them question the value and effectiveness of their missionary organization, leading
them on a search for the New Testament Church, a search that ended in 1987 with
their reception into Holy Orthodoxy. In my case, I recall being in graduate
school in religious studies, and yet I didn’t feel as though being a protestant
Christian changed my entire way of life. I felt guilt and sorrow over my failure
to live as Christ would desire, without the alleviation or the hope found in the
mystery of confession, and I began to question if I could find real help anywhere.
Some of my professors only aggravated my condition, since some of them would even
make the most blasphemous remarks about Christ. Our merciful Lord, however, used
all of this to push me to seek out and to read about other “types” of Christianity,
including the genuine Christianity of the Orthodox Church. What struck me particularly
and encouraged me was the unashamed confession of the Truth in the works of certain
Orthodox writers I read.
For others, the very encounter with Orthodoxy brings about a crisis that makes them
question their own beliefs. There have been a number of converts to Orthodoxy that
started out by attempting to prove Orthodoxy wrong, such as Father Thomas Avramis
who was raised in a Greek Orthodox home, but became involved with Protestant groups
in high school and college. In order to be able to “convert the Orthodox” and be
convinced that Orthodoxy was false, he began to read about Orthodoxy until he instead
became convinced that Orthodoxy was in fact true. Another convert to Orthodoxy,
Father Seraphim Bell, was a pastor who started to study Orthodoxy history and theology
in order to prove that the Orthodox speaker Frank Schaeffer, author of Dancing Alone,
was wrong, only to discover that he was in fact right.
Of course, there are many people who suffer crises of all kinds in this world without
converting to Orthodoxy, because the fullness of time has not come for them or because
they pridefully respond to their pain with anger and self-indignation, instead of
that humility, which would make them receptive to the grace of God that both initiates
and completes the process of a person’s conversion. Now humility and heresy
are generally mutually exclusive categories, but in fact “most Western Christians
are not conscious, willful heretics.” Neither any of my relatives nor I knew anything
about the Orthodox Church until I started investigating it systematically in graduate
school. Peter Gilquist, the leader of a large group of Protestant communities that
entered the Church, notes that the Antiochian Orthodox Church “provided a home for
people such as the Evangelical Orthodox Church—Christians who for so long didn’t
even know this Church existed.” Since these people were unconsciously in heresy
out of ignorance, Saint Cyprian of Carthage’s teaching would seem apropos: “one
who errs by simplicity [of mind] may be pardoned as the blessed Apostle Paul says
of himself, ‘I who at first was a blasphemer, and a persecutor and injurious; yet
obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly.’” And although the Saint’s remarks
do not change how the sacred canons should be applied, it does make it possible
for some of these people to be compared to “New Testament God-fearers like Cornelius”
or Candace’s eunuch who “neither believed aright concerning God, nor taught others
the truth,” but because they humbly and diligently sought Christ, they were particularly
worthy of a special help.
The Path towards Conversion: A Humble and Diligent Search
This humble and diligent seeking of Christ can be seen in the questions those who
would convert to Orthodoxy would ask themselves or others. Father Edward Wilson,
for example, recalls asking his friend the question, “if we saw God at work doing
something that was different from what we were doing, would we have the good sense
to join it?” Another Orthodox priest when taught in Methodist seminary not to
accept any authority, but to decide on his own what to believe, asked himself, “Who
was I to invent or even re-invent the Christian religion? I needed someone or something
higher and wiser than I.” Humbly seeking in turn gives way to humbly submitting
to the Truth, once the Truth has been found. Frank Schaeffer puts it in this way:
“I no longer believed it was my duty to stand in arrogant judgment over the historical
Church... as if it were merely a matter of personal taste, amusement, or comfort.
Rather I began to see that it was the Holy Tradition of the historic Church that
stood in judgment over me... This is no theoretical or theological assertion, but
a very practical one, since as a moral cripple I need the crutches —this historical
certainty—offered by the historic community of belief.” When Father Peter Gilquist
was asked what prompted him to leave the Protestant world, he gave a similar response,
“ultimately the change came for us when we stopped trying to judge and re-evaluate
Church history, and for once invited Church history to judge and evaluate us.”
Once someone has humbly accepted the universality of the Orthodox Church as the
unique theanthropic body that is authoritative in his life on matters of salvation,
the movement from an assent in the mind and heart to the actual act of converting
to the faith requires another virtue that Saint Clement of Rome calls “strength
of devotion and of purpose.” This realization that nothing is more important
than properly entering the Church and pushing towards that goal is necessary for
the person who is seeking the Church to be able to overcome the obstacles that the
evil one will surely put in his way. We can see this “strength of devotion” in many
of the accounts of those coming to Orthodoxy. Father Jack Sparks, for example, spoke
of being “committed to finding that Church and becoming part of it, no matter what
the cost.” Father Peter Gilquist saw Ruth the Moabite as a model for entering
the Church, in which following God meant humbly making His people (that is, the
members of the Orthodox Church) your people, regardless of the conditions. I
remember after six months of reading nearly every book on Orthodoxy that I could
find in the University of Chicago library and before even visiting an Orthodox parish,
I told myself, “I will do whatever it takes to become Orthodox, even if I have to
become a Russian or a Greek, or learn to speak Russian or Greek in order to do so.”
To a certain extent, I ended up doing both.
The Cause of Conversion: the Action of Grace
As important as it is to humbly seek the Truth with a contrite heart and to submit
to it with determination, the chief factor at any conversion is always the working
of divine grace. “Saint Athanasios the Great, in his On the Incarnation of the Word
of God states, ‘The Saviour is working mightily among men, every day He
is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond
the Greek speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching.’”
And while according to the Fathers, grace does not work on man from within the soul
prior to Orthodox Baptism, it can and does move the unbaptised person towards the
good from without.
Of course, grace acts in a multitude of ways on souls that are prepared and receptive,
and it would seem helpful to enumerate some of them. In some cases, it is the right
book falling in the right hands at the right time. In my first year of college,
I read the Brothers Karamazov and was amazed by the beauty of a Christianity
I had never encountered before. This is when I was first conscientiously attracted
towards Orthodoxy. For others, it is cumulative effect of reading many books on
the Orthodox faith. When a Roman Catholic seminarian in Africa was awaiting
ordination, he encountered a woman who told him about Orthodoxy, and after reading
some books and praying, he understood that the Truth of Christ is found only in
Orthodoxy. For others, it was the study of Church history that brought them
to the doorstep of the Church.
Apart from reading, many have felt the pull of grace by attending liturgical services.
For example, one former protestant seminarian, now an Orthodox priest, found “the
presence and power of the Kingdom of God in the Church as a Eucharistic community.”
Others have inadvertently entered an Orthodox Church and been captivated by the
beauty and holiness of the icons. When I first entered an Orthodox Church and saw
the icon of Christ and heard the priest exclaim “let us commend ourselves and one
another to Christ our God,” I knew that I had found my place and in fact the Church
I had been seeking from my youth. One protestant woman spoke of her first visit
to an Orthodox Church in this way, “I stared into the faces of Michael the Archangel,
the Lord Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. It was as if I were being taken right up into
heaven with them. It was right then and there that I knew that I had found home;
I knew I wanted to become Orthodox.” Father Moses Berry, describes the first
time he walked into an Orthodox Church as a young American black man and how he
saw a large icon of Saint Moses the Ethiopian. He writes, “I was stunned by its
terrible beauty and other-worldliness. It was as if he were saying to me, ‘Welcome
home! Welcome to the Church my son!’ I wanted to cry or shout for joy.”
In others, the action of grace is even more manifest, such as a family in Africa
who were desperately watching their loved one dying and asked an Orthodox priest
who happened to be in the hospital to pray for them, and the priest read a prayer
and the dying man arose, and with him, his entire family desired to learn about
Orthodoxy and be baptized. Or there is the case of a former Christian who strayed
into Buddhism and became a practicing Buddhist who was inexplicably awoken every
night at three in the morning. His guru told him to call on the name of a Tibetan
deity, but when the man did that, he heard a voice saying, “I am not that.” Shaken,
he asked, “Who are you?” and he felt a Light that knew him and loved him and he
knew it was Christ, even though he had earlier rejected Christ completely and would
not even refer to Christ by name.
The Final Step Before Conversion: Making the Comparison
And in a sense, every convert has this feeling of being awakened by the grace of
Christ in one way or another. Like the prodigal son, he comes to himself, makes
the comparison between his father’s house and the squalor in which he is now living,
and makes his decision to return home. In the words of another convert who has since
become an Orthodox priest, “the reality of Orthodoxy is far better than the illusions
of life outside.” Some compare the order and cohesion of Orthodoxy with the
confusion of Protestantism. Others contrast the historical continuity of Orthodoxy
with the lack of historical connection in modern Protestantism. Others compare
worship rooted in the Holy Spirit’s guidance with the make-it-up-as-you-go-along
affair of Western Christendom. Others contrast the shallow “how to” programs
developed over the course of a few short years with two millennium of proven guidance
and council.”  Still others note the presence of tools to combat sin in Orthodoxy
with their absence in heterodox confessions. They compare, they contrast, and
they come to a decision.
And so the person from another confession completes his catechism and by the grace
of God is baptized into the Holy Orthodox Church. From this point onwards, “it should
be of no importance to a man who joins the Church what he was,” according to Saint
Hilarion, “it is important and saving for him only that he, by becoming united with
the Church, becomes a member of the Body of Christ.” Following Holy Baptism,
the one time process of conversion becomes the life-long process of repentance within
The Conversion Process and Ecumenism
What we have said about the process of someone’s conversion to Orthodoxy—in terms
of pain of heart, humbly seeking God’s will, and a determination to do God’s will
whatever the cost—must continue in the Church in the life of repentance, because
the struggle for purification and sanctification essentially begins with Holy Baptism
and because the life of repentance is a similar life of continuously seeking God’s
will. Just as it is a fearful sin to do something that would hinder someone’s repentance,
it is a fearful sin to hinder someone’s approach to Orthodoxy by our lives, our
actions, and our words. An ecumenism that pretends that the real differences between
Orthodoxy and heterodoxy are insignificant is precisely such a sin of fearful proportions.
It denies the Truth that so many former heterodox Christians have struggled to find
and attempts to shut the door to others still searching. We must not be deceived
by the smiley mask of ecumenism. Ecumenism is in opposition to someone seeking the
Truth and striving to enter the Church of Christ at every single step. Ecumenism
encourages feeling good about discovering a superficial unity, not compunction and
a life of repentance. Ecumenism discourages a search for the Truth that would mean
admitting that there is also falsehood. Ecumenism does not really have the humility
to listen to another perspective apart from its own, especially if it suggests that
ecumenism is itself a lie. Ecumenism allows for comparisons, but not conclusions
that one tradition is more genuine than another. And in the end, ecumenism discourages
any decisive action that would be in opposition to its own goals. In truth, Christ’s
words to the Pharisees apply to the ecumenists, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go
in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”
Saint John Chrysostom advises each of us how to help those outside of the Church,
“thou canst not work miracles, and so convert him. By the means which are in thy
power, convert him; by showing him brotherly love, by offering him shelter, by being
gentle with him, by dealing kindly him, and by all other means.” In other words,
we need to reach out to those heterodox Christians outside the Church with that
hospitality and love so characteristic of Orthodoxy. This means being able to see
whatever virtue is present among those in error even as Saint Peter, not to mention
an angel of God, saw virtue in Cornelius prior to his Baptism. The path to conversion
is not an easy one, and those struggling along it need our love, concern, and support.
At the same time, however, we must proclaim the “hard saying” of the Truth,
even if it is painful. The truth that the Orthodox Church is the “One Holy Catholic
and Apostolic Church” as well as the unique ark of salvation is “our chief cornerstone,
elect and precious,” that has always been and will always be “a stone of stumbling
and a rock of offence.”
It should not be surprising that those formerly heterodox Christians who have converted
to the Church are the fiercest opponents of ecumenism. For ecumenists, converts
to Orthodoxy are clearly an embarrassment, since conversion denies the existence
of some middle ground between the Church and heterodox confessions. For converts,
their involvement in ecumenism would be the fulfillment of the proverb “as a dog
returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” Converts are intimately
familiar with the spiritual sickness and suffering caused by infidelity to the teachings
of Christ and His Church in heterodox communities. They cannot be duped by soothing
words about love that sacrifice the Truth or empty words about a unity that in reality
does not and cannot possibly exist. Their repentance over what is wrong in those
communities was by the grace of God a fount of knowledge leading to salvation. They
will not let ecumenism deny this knowledge to themselves or to others.
And this position of theirs is not a negative position. On the contrary, it springs
from love for Christ, love for the Church, love for the Truth, love for those within
the Church, and love for those outside of Her bosom. In love, we reject ecumenism,
because we want to offer those in heterodoxy precisely what the Lord has graciously
given to all of us in the Holy Orthodox Church, the opportunity to become members
of the Most Pure Body of Christ, “children of light” and “heirs of the kingdom
which He hath promised to them that love him.”
 Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 8 on the Gospel According to Saint John. According
to Saint Peter of Damascus, it is God’s providence that does not permit heresy to
be concealed forever. Saint Peter of Damaskos, Book II, Twenty four Discourses,
XXIV Conscious Awareness in the heart, Philokalia 3 (Faber and Faber Press:
London, 1984), page 278.
 1 Timothy 2:4.
 Cf., “It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish
to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested
throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were
by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession
of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like
what these [heretics] rave about.” Irenaeos, Against Heresies, book III,
chapter 3. “The preaching of the Church is everywhere consistent, and continues
in an even course, and receives testimony from the prophets, the apostles, and all
the disciples.” Against Heresies, book III, chapter 24.
 Cf., Metropolitan Meletios of Nikopoleos, ”Oidate ti aiteisthe” Synaxis,
issue 90, April—June 2004 [in Greek], pages 6-7 and PG 69, page 68 B.
 When I was fourteen years of age after six months of bed rest, I was diagnosed
with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in Philadelphia’s children’s hospital. My mother
went to a small congregation where everyone present prayed for me and by God’s grace.
The external symptoms as well as the results from further blood-work tests were
 Frank Schaeffer, Letters to Father Aristotle: A Journey through Contemporary
American Orthodoxy, (Regina Orthodox Press: Salisbury, MA, 1995), page
 Larry Uzzel, “Beyond Canterbury,” Again Magazine, volume 13, number
3: September 1990, page 23.
 Father Athanasios Ledwich, “Cracks in the Cathedral,” Again Magazine,
volume 13, number 3: September 1990 page 20.
 Father Alistair Anderson, “Forty Years Later,” Martyria of the Holy
Metropolis of Kidonia and Apokoronos [in Greek], issue 52, 2001, pages 90-91.
 Father Chad Hatfield, “Will Holy Orthodoxy Fail in Her Pastoral and Evangelical
Responsibilities to These Homeless Christians Because She is not Prepared, or Willing,
to Deal with Large Groups of Converts,” Again Magazine, volume 17, number
4: December 1994, page 9.
 Father Chad Hatfield, “Will Holy Orthodoxy Fail,” pages 8-9. It should be noted
that others fighting to preserve what they loved in their tradition could hardly
direct their attention to investigate Orthodoxy while those wearied from fighting
would often be afraid to dare to love again. (Father William Olenhausen, “A Broader
Vision: New Horizons for an Episcopal Reformer,” Again Magazine, volume
14, number 3: September 1991, page 23.) As Father Athanasios Ledwich put it, “It
is difficult to appreciate the beauties of the harbor and its surrounding countryside
when you are struggling to swim at sea.” “Cracks in the Cathedral,” page 22.
 Mark 10:29-30.
 Father Athanasios Ledwich, “Cracks in the Cathedral,” Again Magazine,
volume 13, number 3: September 1990 page 22.
 Father William Olenhausen, “A Broader Vision: New Horizons for an Episcopal
Reformer,” Again Magazine, volume 14, number 3: September 1991, page 23.
 Father Alistair Anderson, “Forty Years Later,” Martyria of the Holy
Metropolis of Kidonia and Apokoronos [in Greek], issue 52, 2001, page 87.
 Clark Carlton, The Way: What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox
Church (Regina Press: Salisbury MA, 1997), pages 20 and 22-23. Another
example is offered by Archbishop Louis Falk of the traditional Anglicans. When he
was asked why he did not become Orthodox, he answered that it was because “in its
many New World iterations, it is very ethnic in character. It is liturgically beautiful,
theologically astute, and ecclesiologically appealing to Anglicans, but it is uncompromisingly
Eastern and I am quite utterly Western.” “Interview with Archbishop Louis W Falk,
Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion,” The Rock: A Journal For Anglican
Traditionalists, volume 21, number 4, December 15, 2003, page 8.
 Frank Schaeffer, Letters to Father Aristotole, page 68.
 Psalm 50:19.
 Oration Thirty-eight.
 Hieromonk Damascene, Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, (Saint
Herman of Alaska Brotherhood: Platina, 2003), page 844.
 Clark Carlton, The Way, page 24.
 Answer 265 of Saint Barsanuphios, BARSANOUFIOU KAI IWANNOU KEIMENA DIAKRITIKA
KAI HSUCASTIKA (ERWTAPOKRISEIS) TOMOS B (EKDOSEIS ETOIMASIA, KAREAS 1996),
 Cf., Saint John Chrysostom, Homily LXXXVIII on Mathew.
 Thelma Michaila Altschul, “31st and Troost: An Orthodox Mission Flowers in
the Inner City, ”Again Magazine, volume 17, number 2: June 1994, page 24.
 Father Moses Berry, “An Encounter with a Saint,” Again Magazine, volume
17, number 2: June 1994, page 26.
 Sarah Elizabeth Cowie, More Spirited than Lions: An Orthodox Response and a
Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life of Women (Regina Press: Salisbury,
MA, 2001) pages 286-289. Another woman named Alice realized that her attempt to
govern herself via feminism was a failure, filling her with anger and drawing her
into a world of evil. In this pain, she turned to Christianity. (Sarah Elizabeth
Cowie, More Spirited than Lions, pages 292-293.)
 Father Alistair Anderson, “Forty Years Later,” pages 88-89.
 Father Athanasios Ledwich, “Cracks in the Cathedral,” page 21. Examples of
such heretical teachings include denying such creedal beliefs as the Incarnation,
Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection. One Episcopalian priest, who was already attracted
to Orthodoxy and teaching Orthodox doctrine to his parish, was offered by his bishop
“the choice of resignation or an ecclesiastical trial on the grounds of apostasy.”
Father William Olenhausen, “A Broader Vision,” page 24.
 Father Thomas Renfree, “A Funny Thing Happened to Me at a Baptists Seminary”
Again Magazine, volume 14, number 3: September 1991 page 16.
 Father Andrew Harmon, “Ashbury Dreams and Orthodox Realities,” Again Magazine,
Volume 14, Number 3: September 1991, page 1.
 Clark Carlton, The Way, page 46.
 Clark Carlton, The Way, page 25. They realized, as Father John Braun
put it, that “God’s program for his people was not a para-church, something created
alongside the Church, but the Church.” Father Jon Braun, “The Early Years: Parachurch
to Church,” Again Magazine, volume 20, number 1: March/April 1997, page
 Clark Carlton, The Way, page 26.
 Father Seraphim Bell, “O Lord, Establish this Vineyard,” Again Magazine,
volume 20, number 1: March/April 1997, page 52.
 Saint John Cassian, The Conferences, Conference III of the Abbot Paphnutios,
 Father Peter E. Gilquist, “Our Ten years in Orthodoxy,” Again Magazine,
volume 20, number 1: March/April 1997, page 43.
 Patrick Barnes, The Non-Orthodox:
The Orthodox Teaching on Christians Outside of the Church (Regina Press:
Salisbury MA, 1999), pages 46-47. One may also include other examples from Church
history of those who were attached to heresy, because of simplicity of mind, and
later repented and returned to Orthodoxy, such as Saint Ioannicios (November 14).
 Patrick Barnes, The Non-Orthodox, pages 49 and 73. Saint John Chrysostom
remarks that both Cornelius and Candace’s eunuch were remarkable for their piety
seen in the pilgrimage and study of the one and the almsgiving and prayer of the
other (Homily XXII on Acts). Saint Jerome in his 108th letter to Eustochios claims
that the eunuch “was so great a lover of the Law and of divine knowledge that he
read the Holy Scriptures even in his chariot. And although he had the book in his
hand and took into his mind the words of the Lord, nay even had them on his tongue
and uttered them with his lips, he still knew not Him, whom—not knowing—he worshipped
in the book.” Even in his ignorance, his intense love for the good was reckoned
in his favor by the Just Judge and later rewarded.
 Father Edward Wilson “In God’s Lampstand: Looking Back on Twenty Years at Saint
Barnabas Church,” Again Magazine, volume 20, number 1: March/April 1997,
 Father William Olenhausen, “A Broader Vision,” page 22.
 Frank Schaeffer “On Why I became Orthodox,” Again Magazine, volume
14, number 4: December 1991, page 15.
 Father Peter E. Gilquist, “Sealed! 5 Years Later,” Again Magazine,
volume 15, number 1: March 1992, page 7.
 “Do not suppose that the proof of conversion is shown by length of time, but
by strength of devotion and of purpose. For minds are manifest to God; and He does
not take account of times, but of hearts.” Recognitions of Clement, book X, chapter
 Father Jack Sparks, “The Middle Years: A New Foundation,” Again Magazine, volume
20, number 1: March/April 1997, page 29. Father Jon Braun recalled, “we wanted the
Church, and we meant to find it.” In “The Early Years: Para-church to Church,” page
 Father Peter E. Gilquist, “Sealed! 5 Years Later,” page 7.
 Chapter 30, The Reality of the Resurrection.
 Saint Diadochos of Photiki writes, “Before Holy Baptism, grace encourages the
soul towards good from the outside, while Satan lurks in its depths trying to block
the nous’s way of approach to the divine. But from the moment that we are reborn
through baptism the demon is outside, grace within.” “On Spiritual Knowledge and
Discrimination: One Hundred Texts,” 76, Philokalia 1 (Faber and Faber Press:
London, 1979), page 279.
 Such was the case with Steven Walker, Kenneth Washburn, Larry Uzzel, and Ron
Olson. Cf., Steven Walker, “A Journey to the Orthodox Faith,” Again Magazine,
volume 17, number 2: June 1994 page 14. Kenneth Washburn, “Thinking It Through,”
Again Magazine, volume 14, number 3: September 1991, page 12. Larry Uzzel,
“Beyond Canterbury,” page 24. Ron Olson, “From Biola to the Barriok,” Again Magazine,
volume 14, number 3: September 1991, page 20.
 Father John Rakontodrazafy, “How I became Orthodox” Martyria of the
Holy Metropolis of Kidonia and Apokoronos [in Greek], issue 53, 2001, page 54.
 Father Thomas Renfree, “A Funny Thing Happened to me,” page 17 and Father Andrew
Harmon, “Ashbury Dreams,” page 18.
 Kenneth E. Hines, “Why This Reformed Seminarian Took The Plunge to the Orthodox
Faith,” Again Magazine, volume 14, number 3: September 1991, page15.
 Thelma Michaila Altschul, “31st and Troost,” page 25.
 Father Moses Berry, “An Encounter with a Saint,” page 26.
 Metropolitan of Kenya Makarios, “The sick Muslim and the Grace of God,” Martyria
of the Holy Metropolis of Kidonia and Apokoronos [in Greek], issue 1, page 44.
 Nilus Stryker, “The Sunrise of the East: The Light that Knows my Name,” The
Orthodox Word, Number 217, 2001, volume 37, number 2, March-April 2001,
 Father Andrew Harmon, “Ashbury Dreams,” page 19.
 Father Seraphim Bell, “O Lord, Establish this Vineyard,” page 54.
 Frank Schaeffer “On Why I became Orthodox,” page 14.
 Kenneth Washburn, “Thinking It Through,” pages 11-12.
 Franky Schaeffer “On Why I became Orthodox,” page 13.
 Patrick Barnes, The Non-Orthodox, page 120.
 Matthew 23:13.
 Saint John Chrysostom, Homily XVIII on Acts.
 Patrick Barnes, The Non-Orthodox, pages 118-119. “Then Peter opened
his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted
with him.” Acts 10:34-35.
 John 6:60.
 Nicene Creed.
 I Peter 2:6 and 8.
 Proverbs 26:11.
 Ephesians 5:8.
 James 2:5.