The Evangelical Orthodox
by James M. Kushiner
On various occasions in the past few months I have been asked if I have heard of the Evangelical Orthodox Church. I have been aware of their existence from about the time they formed in 1979; I brushed up against one of their bishops in 1980 while attending a conference of the Orthodox Church in America in Detroit as an unofficial observer. Since then, theirs has been a very interesting story.
Briefly, the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC) was formed by evangelicals from various backgrounds who in the mid-sixties began looking for an expression of Christian faith and worship which had deeper historical roots in the early Church. Through a prolonged period of study of the post-apostolic period and the ecumenical councils, they became convinced that the Eastern Orthodox Churches best preserved the tradition of the early Church in ecclesiology, theology, and worship. A gradual conversion took them from “low church” non-sacramental evangelicalism to a “high church” sacramental, liturgical faith. As the story has been reported, they felt compelled to enter into union with the orthodox churches and their bishops, whom they regarded as legitimate successors to the apostles and bishops of the early church. All that remained to do was to make a decision how and when to effect this union.
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James M. Kushiner is the Director of Publications for The Fellowship of St. James and the former Executive Editor of Touchstone.
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