Dr. Amir Azarvan’s collection of essays works to advance Catholic and Orthodox ecumenism. It will also make Protestants wonder how much they lost by separating themselves from branches of Christianity which prospered for 1,500 years before their revolt against authority.
The above is a recurring idea which one will obtain on reading the often trenchant essays in this 188-page volume (8 more pages of a bibliography). That is, if Byzantine and Roman Catholic Christians may not know much about Eastern Christianity, specifically the Orthodox Church, then they will be struck by the numerous points of comparison between the traditions, including the compatibility between science and faith, Scripture, devotion to the Virgin Mary, and salvation. Protestant Christians, in contrast, may perceive that they have lost much after the misnamed “Reformation” removed them from two branches of Christianity which developed theology derived from the apostles and asceticism meant to assist Christians on their journey to salvation.
For example, one essayist mentions that Hubble disproved Einstein’s idea of an “infinite past” and that the universe is only 13.7 billion years old (17). Some Protestants would not be able to reconcile the facts of science with a fundamentalist interpretation of the Genesis creation passages.
More importantly, regarding Scripture, Protestants have some “splainin” to do if, as several contributors remarked, the idea of “sola scriptura” is not in the Bible and was fabricated by Martin Luther to justify his revolt against the hierarchy of the Church.
Beyond sectarian insights, however, some quotes from the book can be useful not only for evangelizing, but also for apologetics. For example, if you encounter someone who argues that it is uncertain if Jesus ever existed, then cite Eugenia Constantinou, who writes in her masterly essay “The Historical Jesus” that “more independent evidence exists for Jesus than for the existence of Socrates, Homer, Abraham, Moses, and many other important historical figures whose existence people would never think to question” (32).
Several “new” ideas discussed in this collection of essays will probe deeper into theological tenets long understood by scholars and theologians but which may not have been perceived by ordinary practicing Christians.
For example, Jonathan Resmini argues two such novel propositions. First is his claim that, “If God is love and his love is eternal, indiscriminate and inescapable, then it stands to reason that there is nowhere that God is not present. Not even hell” (183). Resmini’s second claim is that “The Orthodox believe that heaven and hell are relational realities, that is, they are reflections of the way in which the human being perceives the love of God” (184). One can see how Catholic theologians would be able to agree with these claims while Protestant Christians would stumble over the deeper philosophical principles.
Overall, Azarvan’s anthology is a profound book, discussing theological concepts written by Orthodox scholars in language that ordinary people will easily comprehend.
Since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life material, purchase this book from Wipf & Stock directly: https://wipfandstock.com/9781498224048/re-introducing-christianity/.