Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity
“Orthodox Christian Meetings” first appeared in the Special Issue: The Bible 1991 issue of Touchstone.
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Orthodox Christian Meetings
Orthodox Christian Meetings
reviewed by Ted Bobosh
Michael McKibben opens up a new field of study for the Orthodox—holy administration. His book is one of the first which aims at bridging the gap between the practices of twentieth-century America and the faith of the ancient Orthodox church.
McKibben himself is one of the Evangelical Christians who converted to Orthodoxy in the Evangelical Orthodox Mission. As an Orthodox, he has a love for trinitarian thinking. As an Evangelical he has a desire to share the fullness of the Orthodox message with the world. As a business management consultant, he understands the importance of carefully planned meetings for accomplishing the work which has to be done. It is these three elements—Orthodoxy, evangelism, and administration—which he has brought together in his book Orthodox Christian Meetings.
Since converting to Orthodoxy, McKibben has been struggling with the bi-cultural existence in ways which he did not have to deal with as an American Evangelical. For Orthodoxy today still remains outside of the framework of American cultural thinking. As an American Evangelical, Christianity and America went hand in hand. But as an Orthodox Christian, McKibben has encountered a new world view, which often is suspicious of, and sometimes in opposition to, American cultural and spiritual values.
Orthodox Christian Meetings is McKibben’s first book which deals with the two cultures in which he functions. While it is particularly geared to helping Orthodox churches improve their parish and council meetings, the book offers some good insight into how practical theology is. One of the basic assumptions of the book is that everything in parish life ought to be derived from or reflect the theology of the Church. McKibben sets out to show how Orthodox theology, particularly trinitarian theology, is put into practice at every level of parish life. This becomes particularly significant for a church which rejected the Western interpolation of the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed as a theological aberration.
While the book offers well-researched and documented ideas, it is not a purely academic work. McKibben’s ultimate goal is to effectively improve the local administration of every parish. He offers his theological and historical analysis as the defense for reestablishing in parish life the importance of conciliarity and hierarchy. Church meetings become for him a way to measure whether or not Christians are being faithful to the Tradition which has been handed down to us from the Apostles. Though critical of certain aspects of standard Protestantism, he remains quite sympathetic and open to other aspects; his work is not in the least triumphalistic.
Rev. Ted Bobosh is Pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church, Dayton, Ohio and Director of the Department of Religious Education of the Diocese of the Midwest, Orthodox Church in America.
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