Our mutual challenge
Despite its title and subtitle, Daniel B. Clendenin's piece on "Why I'm Not Orthodox" [Jan. 6] was fair-minded and dialogical. Much of its content showed that "the ancient and alien world of the Eastern church" is no more so than the world of Scripture itself at whose center is the One, living and holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, working out the mystery of our salvation.
As the dialogue between evangelicals and Orthodox continues to grow, the chief issues raised by Clendenin concerning the church, sacraments (not an Orthodox word), Scripture, tradition, authority, and hermeneutics deserve thorough discussion by speaking the truth in love and in mutual respect. My hunch is that, theologically, such dialogue will be mutually beneficial-enriching for the evangelicals and cleansing for the Orthodox, discerning what is truly orthodox and abiding. What binds us is the commitment to the authority of Scripture, which is both indisputable and massive in the Orthodox tradition. Scripture and tradition cannot be placed at the same level as alternatives, because Scripture is the record of revelation while tradition is the ecclesial hermeneutical context, a category which is equally important for evangelicals who, in the words of Clendenin, have their own "key distinctives of the Protestant evangelical tradition."
Our mutual challenge is, then, to engage the above issues not only in terms of the "distinctives" which differentiate us, but above all in terms of the full and total witness of the canonical Scriptures themselves, which can hardly be divorced from the historical growth of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church that canonized the Bible. Such study, accomplished with prayer and the work of the ...1