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75 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Introduction9 Dec. 1999
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Frank Schaeffer's book is an excellent introduction for those interested or curious about Eastern Orthodoxy. As the son of perhaps this country's most famous Protestant theologian, Francis Schaeffer, Mr. Schaeffer's book is instructive on a number of levels. The book is part testimonial, part explanation and defense of Orthodox theology, and part cultural critique of contemporary American culture. Mr. Schaeffer sets out to explain why our individualistic, feel-good social ethic has compromised many denominations and why Orthodoxy offers an organic, living form of worship and piety that is Christianity in its completest form. Mr. Schaeffer references Church Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils in his explanation of Orthodox doctrine in his defense of Orthodoxy's claim to being the living, True Church of Christ. This may upset or surpise some who accept today's ecumenical claim that all the denominations taken together are branches of the one true Church; but, as Mr. Schaeffer points out, you cannot have a number of Churches who all claim different things that contradict the claims of each other comprising the one True Church: this is a contradiction that makes no sense. Mr. Schaeffer's book will be of particular interest to anyone interested in Orthodoxy, whether he be Orthodox, Protestant, or Catholic. This is important since Mr. Schaeffer IS NOT saying (nor does the Orthodox Church teach as much) that you can only be saved or please God if you are Orthodox; the mystery of a man's salvation is something man cannot judge and is for God alone to know. However, Mr. Schaeffer is interested in establishing the historical and theological case that establishes Orthodoxy as the one True Church of Christ that possess the fullness of Christ's Truth that other churches that split from Her do not possess. In a world where many traditional forms of worship and piety have been forgotten or dismissed, where other liturgical churches have abandoned or gutted their liturgies, taking a serious look at Orthodoxy might be of value for those disaffected with modernist denominations and parishes.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
half good, half bad3 Mar. 2005
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When Frank Schaeffer spoke at the Festival of Orthodoxy in Dallas in February 2005, he said that he was too harsh in this book, and that were he able to do it over, he would rewrite half of it. I don't know which half or which parts he would rewrite, but I agree with him about the harshness of his tone, which to me seriously degrades the value and trustworthiness of this book. It's interesting, but Schaeffer's jeremiad makes for wearisome reading after awhile.
84 of 100 people found the following review helpful
A deeply flawed book21 Dec. 2003
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Frank Schaeffer's " Dancing Alone: The Quest for Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religion " is a challenging book. Not necessarily because of it's effective reasoning but because of its flaws. Like many other converts, Schaeffer is attracted to the most " traditionalist " theology and has become a bit of an extremest. I found a great deal of his writing to be overly strident and often repetitive. I agree with many other reviewers that believe that this books cries out for editing. I think he could have made his points very effectively in a book half its size. There are places where he seems to be ranting. His attacks on homosexuality, abortion and feminism are lacking in depth and poorly fashioned. It is important to state that, contrary to how this book is presented, it is not about one mans journey to Orthodoxy. Rather it is a lengthy presentation of the authors belief in the errors of thinking that typify the theological underpinnings of Protestantism, and to a slightly lesser extent Roman Catholicism. I am, like Schaeffer, a convert to Orthodoxy. However, though I fundamentally agree with much of what he has written, but I do not like the anger that his writing reflects. I also was very disappointed that he didn't write a single word about the Orthodox view of capital punishment. What he does offer is a very descriptive ( but hardly unique ) critique of the history of the Reformation. I was taught by my father to never pin your adversary down ( in a debate, formal or otherwise ) with no wiggle room. The most successful approach to persuasiveness is to let your competition agree with you in a manor that doesn't insult their dignity. This book possesses no such tact, and as a result I suspect that a non Orthodox individual might quite reasonably feel insulted and put on the defensive by its aggressive nature. I believe that this is not a good introductory book on Orthodoxy. Its ideal audience might be individuals who have been born into Orthodoxy or whose conversion is complete. Sadly, I think that Schaeffer has forgotten to describe the extent to which Orthodoxy is a faith of deep compassion, with an unshakable foundation built on the unconditional love of God for his people. It is a tradition that has tolerated dissent within its ranks and has been ( at its best ) highly reluctant to pass judgment on others.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Convert to Orthodox Christianity or else!!28 Nov. 2002
J Lee Harshbarger
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I found this book to be stunning. There are two main theses I see in the book. One is how first the Catholic Church and then especially the Protestant Church are responsible for the malaise of today's Western culture (the Catholic Church is primarily responsible because its excesses caused the Reformation backlash). The other thesis is his attempt to show that the Orthodox Church is the one true church. Schaeffer does not mince words in this book; he writes with a hard-hitting style that has no problems with giving out devastating criticism. He goes after both the political Left and Right in America; some prominent figures in church history that he levels harsh criticism against include St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, Charles Finney, and Billy Graham. He attacks Anabaptists harshly, accusing them of anarchy, and gives Quakers a similar rough treatment. If you get offended easily, don't read this book. I find his thesis that Protestantism is the cause of the secularization and moral downfall of Western civilization to be convincing in itself, although I can't help but wonder if the same secularization might have eventually occurred anyway even if the Reformation hadn't happened. It was enlightening to me because I had always attributed the sad state of our society, dominated by the idea of relative truth, as going back to Darwin, since the elimination of a Creator God meant man could do whatever he wanted. But this book convinced me that the roots of our current cultural war go back way, way before Darwin, to the early centuries of the Christian church, although the biggest changes were brought on by the Protestant Reformation. The second thesis of the book I find to be less convincing. In itself, his argument that the Orthodox Church is the one true church is relatively convincing, but when I step away and consider where the Orthodox Church is today, and compare it to the vitality of the Protestant church, I have a hard time agreeing with Schaeffer that the Protestant church is a scourge to Christianity and separated from the body of Christ. On the other side of the coin, his book has created in interest within me to do more research about the early church and about the Orthodox Church in particular, since I know virtually nothing about it, apart from what I've read in this book. This book would get a 5-star rating because of its ability to radically change my way of thinking and outlook on history and the church. What drops it down to the 4 level: 1) This book badly needs a competent copywriter. There are way too many spelling and punctuation errors, which are distracting, especially in a book with such heady material. (My copy has a different cover from the one pictured, though, so I hope there is a new edition that took care of all the spelling and punctuation errors.) 2) The font is distracting. 3) The book seems a bit unorganized. For example, there is a chapter on abortion thrown in between chapters describing the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Why is it there, rather than with the rest of the chapters on societal issues? So these weaknesses drag the book down to a 4 level, but 4 in my book is "Excellent." (See "About Me" for a full description of my ratings.) If you want to be challenged in your thinking and can take someone hitting you over the head with their beliefs and the butchering of sacred cows, go for it. This book will certainly engage you.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Logic Fails20 Sept. 2005
Daniel E. Sullivan
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Frank Schaeffer, a.k.a. Franky, was an inspiration to many evangelicals in the 80s. The opening chapter of his book "A Time for Anger", in which for several pages he documents the lunatic contradictions of advances in prenatal medicine contrasted with pro-abortion militancy is one of the most brilliant and compelling satires I have ever read. But Franky became disillusioned with the wishy-washy response of evangelicals to the issues of the day, Evangelical provincialism related to the arts and soon seemed to fade from sight.
This book documents that disillusionment, as he studied the early church with others and eventually embraced Orthodoxy.
He provides many insightful critiques of the shortcomings of Evangelicalism. His methodology follows in father's, in many respects, seeing roots of ideas in earlier eras which blossomed into worldviews that ran counter to essential Christianity. Why did Frank wind up in a different place than Francis?
Francis was often accused (unjustly) of reductionism, condensing complex historical movements into tidy little compartments. But Francis was at least careful to hedge his conclusions and tended to connect the dots well. Frank, on the other hand, speaks in bold and sometimes condescending terms, and frustratingly makes huge leaps of logic. He builds a foundation from A to B to C, then leaps all the way to Z and pronounces his conclusion inevitable.
Hence, where Francis Schaeffer lamented the rise of rationalism and its effects on secular and Christian thought, Frank instead blames rationalism on Augustine and the Reformers. It is as if all ideas which have developed in the Western world are constructions of confused Western theology and no ideas sprung from thought outside the church. He criticises virtually everything in the west, democracy included, and lays the blame for every ill from rampant abortion on demand to even theological excesses within the American Orthodox church on Protestantism. The key point, hammered mercilessly, is that rationalistic theology led to individualism, individualism led to endless division, and endless division led to pluralism and a lack of any solid moral compass. Western Christianity was not influenced, then, by secular and anti-Christian philosophies, rather Protestanism caused those philosophies by cutting theology away from "holy tradition".
It is not that his logic from A to B to C is faulty or that his base points are not well taken. In fact some of the early points are rather compelling. But his leaps from C to Z is so outrageous as to make every previous point irrelevant.
Daniel Clenendin's, or Kallistos Ware's books on Orthodoxy are much more worthwhile for a Protestant who wants to understand the Eastern Church. If you are just curious to know what happened to Franky Schaeffer, this is the definitive answer.