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Customer reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars

on 31 August 2016
This book is clearly written, tackling numerous topics covering both doctrine and practical devotion as part of life. Each chapter contains an essay, followed by quotations from the Fathers, a "Special Study" tackling one concept in more detail, and questions for reflection (they would make a good focus for a group discussion, exactly in the way a catechism is intended).

Unfortunately, problems arise in Chapter 3, "Creation" in which the author asserts that evolutionary theory is incompatible with the Orthodox faith (although the author actually appears to referring to abiogenesis). It does so in much the same manner as some of the more fundamentalist protestant sects, namely, by firstly presenting an inaccurate account of how the process works (eg using words such as "random" and "chance self-creation" and phrases such as "the chances of such a cell coming into being as a result of the random conglomeration of acids are astronomically remote" [well, yes - no scientist believes that this is actually what happened - it is a misrepresentation of science]); secondly, by trying to introduce an artificial distinction between "micro" and "macro" evolution; thirdly, by implying that Darwin's theory is some kind of blueprint for society; and lastly, by directing the reader towards other creationist (ie not mainstream, peer-reviewed) sources.

This viewpoint is promoted as part of an Orthodox catechism, despite the Orthodox faith having never taken an official position on evolution, and despite many Orthodox (and other Christians) being entirely comfortable with both faith in God and an acceptance of scientific findings.

Unfortunately, this just left me wondering how just much of the rest of the book is an accurate reflection of both reality and the official teachings of the Orthodox faith, so I'm reluctant to rely on it without other corroborating sources... which kind of defeats its purpose. It's a shame, as it's well written in terms of style and clarity.
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on 6 May 2014
If you are newly Orthodox, becoming Orthodox, or need to brush up on the doctrines of your faith, this is the book for you. Absolutely superb, and I would recommend it to all. Well written, well organized, a true joy to read. My husband and I read a chapter a day, including the little quiz sections at the end of each chapter, and thoroughly enjoyed it, as well as learned a lot. Many fine points and distinctions are made. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
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