Can a Protestant Evangelical find a home in Orthodoxy?
Can a Protestant Evangelical find a home in Orthodoxy? Can a Westerner with no Russian, Greek, Romanian or Arabic background find a home in Orthodoxy? Is this a chasm too wide to be crossed? These were the questions I would seek to answer.
I was raised in a nominally Protestant home and made a commitment to faith in Jesus Christ when I was a college student. I became a devoted Evangelical Protestant. For many years, I was active in Protestant churches, serving in a variety of capacities, as pastor, Bible teacher, youth leader and volunteer youth worker. I had deep fellowship with numerous committed believers and took my spiritual journey and spiritual struggle very seriously.
The years passed. I moved from the East Coast to Colorado and became involved in churches in Colorado. Over time, however, I became restless. I was looking for more depth in my faith, longed for worship not compromised by pop culture, and sought deep roots.
During my travels, I noticed a church with a gold dome. From its appearance, I knew the church to be Orthodox. I knew little about Orthodoxy. I had long been fascinated by Russia and had the vague notion that there was a deep well of spirituality in Russia. But that’s about as much as I knew. One day, I visited that church with the gold dome. If the church seemed to be a “cult,” I would not return. But if I felt at home there, I wanted to explore further. Some Evangelicals were moving in a direction of cultural accommodation that I did not want to go. I was looking for a new church home.
That visit to the church with the gold dome went well. Yes, it was very different in format but I saw and heard nothing to scare me off. To this Evangelical Protestant, the beliefs and words I heard sounded “orthodox.” Nothing sounded heretical or scary.
I resolved that I would take my time. I was not going to rush into anything. I contacted the parish priest of that church to ask for some book recommendations. I was not looking for polemics, I was looking for spiritual nourishment. The books recommended were food for the soul. One of them, in particular, was life-changing.
During subsequent visits, my question became, “Could I in good conscience, as an Evangelical, find a home in Orthodoxy? Were there deal-breakers that would drive me off?” Certainly there were differences. But I found that the core essentials were the same. Committed believers, whether Evangelical or Orthodox, ultimately sought the same goal: REALITY WITH GOD. I found that the worship in which I participated, the conversations I had, the books I read, connected with the same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that I had sought, followed, and known for years.
The decision came slowly and gradually. But the day came when I was ready. I “came home” to Orthodoxy. I had found a new church home.