The Way: What Every Protestant Should Know about the Orthodox Church Paperback – 1 Jul 1997
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About the Author
Carlton earned a B.A. in philosophy from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Mr. Carlton earned a Master of Divinity degree from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York. In 1993, he earned an M.A. in Early Christian studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. At present he is working as an adjunct instructor of philosophy at Tennessee Technological University.
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It wasn't until I began to take seriously Paul's words that the woman should have her head covered that I began to question Evangelicalism. This growing desire for Biblical literalism led me to the Anabaptists. A group that takes many of the passages of the NT literally including nonresistance, nonconformity, modest dress etc. Once I had questioned the group that had brought me into a relationship with God I believe it opened a door in my mind. Some might say it was a dangerous, potentially soul destroying door since it caused me to question the very faith I was resting in. But I could not shake the feeling that if Evangelicals were wrong about some things what if they were wrong about other bigger thing like the canon of the Bible or how a person is saved. This has led me to many many headaches and days of intense spiritual depression and anxiety. (To be continued)
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I also think he could have been far more thorough on issues such as Sola Scriptura.
Many posters seem to be making some incorrect assertions though:
1. The Coptic Church is not part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is part of the Oriental Orthodox Church, which is something entirely different. The Oriental churches (Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, etc) broke away from the Orthodox Church in 451 A.D.
2. There is no division within the Orthodox Church. There are a number of self-governing juristictions (meaning they can elect their own Bishops and govern their own internal affair) which often differ in non-essential things such as language and music style. However, they have exactly the same Bible, the same Faith, the same Eucharist, etc.
3. "But which one is it then? Catholic or Orthodox?". This is a book about Orthodoxy and Protestantism, not Orthodoxy and Catholicism. There have been written a number of books on the latter subject.
4. Tradition bears witness to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, as first among equals because Rome was the Imperial city at the time. The Orthodox Church accepts this 100% and if Rome and the Orthodox Church were ever to be reunited, the Pope would once again hold such a place of primacy. However, the Pope's primacy was place of honour only. He never had juristiction over the Eastern churches, nor was he ever infallible.
Primacy not Supremacy!
The Way's main failing point is that Carlton starts out nasty. Maybe, as a former Baptist preacher himself, he felt that was necessary to get our attention. But it is worth slogging past the first half-chapter and getting into his discussion. Several reviewers have dismised the volume because, well, they missed the point.
Carlton's big point is that Protestants broke from Rome and ostensibly sought to restore the original church of the apostles, but didn't even come close, and, in fact, that Church was there all along in eastern Orthodoxy. He documents this with records dating to 70AD!
Carlton's subsidiary point is that the reason for Protestant failure was that Calvin, Luther, etc. were actually strong individualists with preconceived notions and that Protestants have genrally followed their error of trying to make the church fit them, rather than the other way.
Carlton spends much time on the sola scriptura argument. While there is much to be said both ways, he does a good, meaty summary of the Orthodox position on the relationship and origins of Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition. Absent, unfortunately, is a good chapter on Sola Fide; as one Orthodox priest recently told me, "You Protestants and Catholics think it has to be either-or on everything."
So, yes, buy this book. It isn't perfect but it's an excellent, thought-provoking read.
The book does contain some good information about the Orthodox church. However, it also contains some very inaccurate observations about Protestants in general (where on earth did he come up with some of this stuff?!?). I wish the author would have spent more time examining the positives of the Orthodox church rather than harping on his perceived negatives of all other denominations in existance. I believe that the author does not try to intentionally mislead. But, it is clear that his background and/or investigation of other Protestant denominations is very limited and subjective.
Despite all the above negativity in this review, I do think this book should be purchased (along with some of the author's other books). However, comments made that are not about the Orthodox faith should be taken with a grain of salt.
I appreciate an honest and blunt book. I believe this author to be very talented, but I hope that he will consider his tone in future books that he writes so as not to "turn away" those who may be genuinely interested in the Orthodox church.
The "numerous factual errors" referred to by the previous reviewer are actually only disagreements between the author and the reviewer.
The author's statement that for Baptists "truth is what each individual says it is, and any attempt to suggest otherwise is a violation of individual freedom." Is perhaps strident in its tone, but IS factual; this is basic to the radical reformation. While it is true that Baptists state that truth claims must be judged against scripture, the proliferation of Baptist denominations and "non-denominational" fellowships underscores the authors point. To say that "Carlton has no idea what Baptists really believe" is simply the reviewers way of attempting to out-polemicize the Baptist seminary trained author.
The "numerous other deficiencies in this book" can be summed up by stating that the author is an Orthodox Christian and not a protestant like the reviewer.
BTW, the buttons below reviews have to do with whether the review is helpful, not whether you agree with the review.