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Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith

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This is the story of a handful of courageous men and their congregations who risked stable occupations, security and the approval of life-long friends to be obedient to God's call.It is also the story of every believer who is searching for the Church. Where Christ is Lord. Where holiness, human responsibility, and the sovereignty of God are preached. Where fellowship is mo This is the story of a handful of courageous men and their congregations who risked stable occupations, security and the approval of life-long friends to be obedient to God's call.It is also the story of every believer who is searching for the Church. Where Christ is Lord. Where holiness, human responsibility, and the sovereignty of God are preached. Where fellowship is more than a covered-dish supper in the church basement. And where fads and fashions take a backseat to apostolic worship and doctrine.This is a book, for Orthodox Christians, looking for ways to bring new life to their own Churches. It's also a book for those completely dissatisfied--those on their own search. And it's a book for Orthodox Christians, looking for renewal.


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This is the story of a handful of courageous men and their congregations who risked stable occupations, security and the approval of life-long friends to be obedient to God's call.It is also the story of every believer who is searching for the Church. Where Christ is Lord. Where holiness, human responsibility, and the sovereignty of God are preached. Where fellowship is mo This is the story of a handful of courageous men and their congregations who risked stable occupations, security and the approval of life-long friends to be obedient to God's call.It is also the story of every believer who is searching for the Church. Where Christ is Lord. Where holiness, human responsibility, and the sovereignty of God are preached. Where fellowship is more than a covered-dish supper in the church basement. And where fads and fashions take a backseat to apostolic worship and doctrine.This is a book, for Orthodox Christians, looking for ways to bring new life to their own Churches. It's also a book for those completely dissatisfied--those on their own search. And it's a book for Orthodox Christians, looking for renewal.

30 review for Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wuertz

    I think this book does the best of all I have read of addressing the many issues Protestant converts and their families would face. Gillquist does it in a manner that is very down to earth and easy to read. I think this is also just a great book for Christians to read in general even if they are not remotely considering Orthodoxy. There is a lot to be gleaned from these pages. The book specifically addressed several things that have come up as walls for me, but was very brief and as such unfortu I think this book does the best of all I have read of addressing the many issues Protestant converts and their families would face. Gillquist does it in a manner that is very down to earth and easy to read. I think this is also just a great book for Christians to read in general even if they are not remotely considering Orthodoxy. There is a lot to be gleaned from these pages. The book specifically addressed several things that have come up as walls for me, but was very brief and as such unfortunately silent about many other things. While I appreciate and like many things about the Orthodox church and now feel a greater understanding of my faith and the practice of that faith as it relates to church history and tradition, I am still not convinced about specifically cultural practices in the Orthodox church from music styles, to Byzantine chanting for reading scripture and praying, to interpersonal greetings and such. I just find much of it very Eastern and not at all like Western culture or appealing to Western culture. It isn't that these cultural practices offend me or that I think people are wrong for practicing them, they just are not my culture. One of the things I learned as a communications major about interpersonal communication, particularly when you are going to be communicating with those of another culture is you learn about them and adapt to their preference. Everything from approximate personal space preference, to proper titles, forms of address, mannerisms, proper clothing, colors, expectations of gifts, etc is studied prior to communicating with those of another culture on a business level. I think some Protestant churches in many ways have done an excellent job of this in missions and learning about another culture before sending people out (to be sure they have made made serious mistakes, but I'm just saying my own experience has seen otherwise). I think the Orthodox church is failing miserably in this even with the efforts of Gillquist and others involved in the AEOM. Our experience in Orthodox churches in the last few months has found them to be still very Eastern. We are not Eastern! I think if the Orthodox church wants to be more effective they need to stop trying to preserve the cultural identities of the jurisdictions like Antioch, Greece, Russia, etc. and embrace and realize that American culture is different and that it is OK (I am not saying they should embrace all of American culture because we all know that has its problems). I am not of Byzantine heritage, so why do I need to chant my prayers and scripture in the Byzantine style? Most American music is in the major scale and that is what we are used to, why at church do we need to submit to the harmonic minor scale in order for it to be proper worship to God? Because I don't think these really are the things that make or break the faith. Some may argue then why not submit to them while I argue why should I.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    BECOMING ORTHODOX is a personal testimonial by Fr Peter Guilquist written to track the conversion of nearly a thousand Evangelical Protestants to Orthodox Christianity in 1987. This mass conversion was one of the biggest events in modern American Orthodoxy, and Fr Guilquist's book paints a vivid picture of the theological wrestling and jurisdictional complications which ended in the reception of the converts in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Fr Guilquist and many other leaders of this movement s BECOMING ORTHODOX is a personal testimonial by Fr Peter Guilquist written to track the conversion of nearly a thousand Evangelical Protestants to Orthodox Christianity in 1987. This mass conversion was one of the biggest events in modern American Orthodoxy, and Fr Guilquist's book paints a vivid picture of the theological wrestling and jurisdictional complications which ended in the reception of the converts in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Fr Guilquist and many other leaders of this movement started their Christian occupations in the 1950s and 1960s as activists for Campus Crusade for Christ. They travelled widely, trying to organise rallies at such universities as the uber-liberal Berkeley and Roman Catholic Notre Dame. Their focus was entirely on bringing young people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not on building community, which they saw as denominationalism. Over time, however, they became jaded by their work, because many converts fell away after the initial dedication. They understand the need for a Church which would provide lasting support. Yet, they had no idea what such a church should look like. In the early 1970s these former CCC leaders came together to begin a study of what the Church looked like in the decades after Pentacost, using only the Bible and early Fathers, so that they might form a community mirroring it entirely. They found that the early Church was liturgical, retaining a Judaic structure of worship after the expulsion from the synagogues, and that it was built around the Eucharist, which was seen as no mere commemoration but as a true mystery of faith. They discovered that the Church had a three-tiered division of authority, with bishops defending the faith, and priests and deacons serving the flocks of faithful. In the end, they felt that the only place today that this ancient Church was continued and contained fully was the Orthodox Church. Over time, they discovered that many of the exotic qualities of Orthodox Christianity, such as veneration of Mary and icons, and the liturgical use of incense, were entirely in keeping with the Gospel that gave them strength. However, they had no personal experience with the Orthodox Church, which in the North America of the time was still seen as an ethnic conclave, in spite of a steady stream on individual conversions. They attended various offerings at Orthodox churches, met with Orthodox apologists such as the famed Fr Alexander Schmemann, and tried themselves to follow Orthodox traditions in their own worship. For a long time they were unsure of how to enter the Church which seemed to fulfill the discoveries of their investigations, and the division of Orthodoxy in North America along numerous ethnic lines was a sad complication. The Greek Orthodox Church was disapproving of their entering the Church, afraid that so many Americans would "dilute Greek traditions", a shameful blot of nationalism on the Church. Their attempt to meet the Patriarch of Constantinople for guidance was shrugged off. In the end, many of them were losing hope that Orthodoxy could provide a lasting home for them. Then, the Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in America invited them to enter under his guidance, and wished that they would all come in within only a few months. The book ends with a recounting of the mass charismations and ordinations which brought these travellers home after a journey of over a decade. A new afterword written in 1992 talks about the victories made by these converts and their fellow Orthodox in the years since. Fr Guilquist's writing is entertaining and smooth-flowing. Theological arguments are not very deep, but friendly to Evangelical Protestants without much formal training. I am reluctant to criticise a work of such admirable zeal and which is so spiritually uplifting. I wish, however, that the book could have enjoyed some tighter editing and academic typesetting. There is a profusion of exclamation points and italics, and the formatting of the text is not up to professional standards. As it is, the work looks unfortunately amateurish. If you are curious about the Orthodox Church, an academic work like Kallistos Ware's THE ORTHODOX CHURCH (a modern classic) is a must. However, personal testimonials like BECOMING ORTHODOX are also worth reading, and many readers will Fr Peter Guilquist's story quite inspiring.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Ogden

    For those who think that the early church is no more, look again. The earliest traditions have continued for two thousand years through the Orthodox church. If you are curious about it, here is the book for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    An extraordinary journey told extremely well. The first and third parts are story - how did they get from Campus Crusade to Antiochian Orthodox Church - and the middle third is theology - the big issues for Evangelicals when interacting with Orthodox Christianity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    The most interesting section was the first section describing how so many Campus Crusade for Christ staff reverse engineered Apostolic Christianity by analyzing primary sources with an open mind. The second section argued many theological points in pretty simplistic terms. It was tough for me because I believe the things Fr. Gilquist was arguing, but didn’t think the arguments were particularly intellectually honest or charitable. The third section, which details the assumption of the EOC by the The most interesting section was the first section describing how so many Campus Crusade for Christ staff reverse engineered Apostolic Christianity by analyzing primary sources with an open mind. The second section argued many theological points in pretty simplistic terms. It was tough for me because I believe the things Fr. Gilquist was arguing, but didn’t think the arguments were particularly intellectually honest or charitable. The third section, which details the assumption of the EOC by the Antiochian Orthodox Church, was also rather interesting (though it dragged at times. It was moving to read about how all these spiritual wanderers finally found peace and fulfillment in the Orthodox Church.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leo and Suz

    This book is one that keeps to a very simple purpose and executes it well. It’s casual, easy reading that at times can be cheesy, but there lies the book’s genius. It lends itself to a surprisingly greater level of take-away on major theology tenets separating Orthodoxy and Protestantism, whereas other books, for me at least, I find myself bunkered down carefully slaving over every paragraph like it were an Orthodox treatise. Fr. Gillquist discusses these tenets subjectively as it relates to his This book is one that keeps to a very simple purpose and executes it well. It’s casual, easy reading that at times can be cheesy, but there lies the book’s genius. It lends itself to a surprisingly greater level of take-away on major theology tenets separating Orthodoxy and Protestantism, whereas other books, for me at least, I find myself bunkered down carefully slaving over every paragraph like it were an Orthodox treatise. Fr. Gillquist discusses these tenets subjectively as it relates to his group’s journey from a contemporary, culturally-influenced Protestant organization (Campus Crusade for Christ) to discovering the authentic New Testament church, which they found in Orthodox Christianity. What’s remaining is a desire to further pursue the topic of Orthodoxy and the theological issues raised even further. Thus, it is a good book from which to begin one’s reading on Orthodoxy, especially if it’s a whole new world like it is for me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Growing up, and spending most of my young adult life in, American Evangelicalism, Fr. Gillquist’s book was a great read while on my inquiry into Orthodox Christianity. If you’ve ever been around evangelicals that talk about getting back to the “ancient church” or the “church in Acts” but you feel like, more often than not, something just isn’t quite right with the execution, read this book. Like Fr. Gillquist and so many former evangelicals, you may find (to steal a quote from a Roman Catholic p Growing up, and spending most of my young adult life in, American Evangelicalism, Fr. Gillquist’s book was a great read while on my inquiry into Orthodox Christianity. If you’ve ever been around evangelicals that talk about getting back to the “ancient church” or the “church in Acts” but you feel like, more often than not, something just isn’t quite right with the execution, read this book. Like Fr. Gillquist and so many former evangelicals, you may find (to steal a quote from a Roman Catholic priest) that “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” Fr. Gillquist holds no grudge against his former religious tradition, and simply, kindly, tells his story, or to borrow the familiar term, his testimony. Good stuff.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    What do you get when a sentimental and provincial Protestant (Gillquist was a Campus Crusade director in the 60s), ignorant of his own tradition, falls in love with the smells and bells of Eastern Orthodoxy? This testimony. Protestants really need to recover the beauty and maturity of the liturgy and our ancient church. Sadly, Eastern Orthodoxy believes it's the only true church and cuts of fellowship (and communion) from other churches. Which of course, like other spots and blemishes, will be l What do you get when a sentimental and provincial Protestant (Gillquist was a Campus Crusade director in the 60s), ignorant of his own tradition, falls in love with the smells and bells of Eastern Orthodoxy? This testimony. Protestants really need to recover the beauty and maturity of the liturgy and our ancient church. Sadly, Eastern Orthodoxy believes it's the only true church and cuts of fellowship (and communion) from other churches. Which of course, like other spots and blemishes, will be loved away one day by Jesus.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David

    An interesting account of what eventually became a mass conversion. However, Gilquist, I believe, can at times be a bit simplistic and anachronistic. Perhaps he is carrying over quite a few Evangelical prejudices. History and theological development are a tad more complicated than Gilquist makes them seem.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marcás

    Anecdotally engaging but lacking in academic rigor and real depth. It's the story of Peter and his friends, who wanted to find the new testament church. This admirable journey culminated in joining the Orthodox Church. Much better authors to read instead for the seeker after The Orthodox Way- Frederica Mathewes-Green, Metropolitan Ware, Schmemann.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tiana Dalichov

    Fantastic book for anyone considering Orthodoxy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shanda Smith

    Becoming Orthodox chronicles one man's journey from the Protestant church to the Orthodox faith. It is beautifully written and the audible version plays much like a fireside chat with an old friend. Don't let the age of this timeless book fool you, It is just as relevant today as it was decades ago. Peter Gillquist did a fantastic job detailing the timeline of his spiritual journey to the Orthodox Church. Being neither a deeply theological book nor a broad-stroke reading, this book weaves its wa Becoming Orthodox chronicles one man's journey from the Protestant church to the Orthodox faith. It is beautifully written and the audible version plays much like a fireside chat with an old friend. Don't let the age of this timeless book fool you, It is just as relevant today as it was decades ago. Peter Gillquist did a fantastic job detailing the timeline of his spiritual journey to the Orthodox Church. Being neither a deeply theological book nor a broad-stroke reading, this book weaves its way through the questions, discovery, longings, and emotions of his path to the faith. I love how each section addresses the why's of what the evangelical movement was looking for and the answers that were found. I appreciate his writing style and that this book truly lives up to its name on his personal journey to Becoming Orthodox. So who should read (or listen to) this book? The answer is simple, Anybody. Whether it is a cradle Orthodox who is wanting to learn why the converts are now joining the church or someone interested in discovering a deeper faith with God, there is something for everyone to take away. It is a regular read for me to remember my own journey to the faith years ago. I purchased a hard copy prior, but I jumped at the opportunity to review the Audible version. Becoming Orthodox is an easy listen. The reader has a strong calming voice. You could easily understand what he was saying up to 2x's speed. I found the sweet spot to be 1.5x's speed. I love having the audible version to share with my children and play in the car. It also made a great before bedtime audible book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Geoffroy

    A book following a group of Protestants looking for the true New Testament Church. They found Catholicism to essentially be Church without Jesus, and Protestant churches to be Jesus without the Church. After examining various aspects of the early church, such as history and early worship they found themselves leading to the Orthodox Church. They were scared initially by "Romophobia" or the fear essentially of being too Catholic. But ultimately they found that things like liturgical worship (as o A book following a group of Protestants looking for the true New Testament Church. They found Catholicism to essentially be Church without Jesus, and Protestant churches to be Jesus without the Church. After examining various aspects of the early church, such as history and early worship they found themselves leading to the Orthodox Church. They were scared initially by "Romophobia" or the fear essentially of being too Catholic. But ultimately they found that things like liturgical worship (as opposed to "rock music worship"), the adoration of Mary and many other things were consistent with the early church founding and further confirmed by the Bible.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chad Lynch

    Disappointing. I’ve wanted to read this for years, but the author seemed rather Cage stage, and made several polemical statements and arguments against Protestants in particular that were simply ludicrous. I wish she had tried harder to simply focus on what he loved about Orthodoxy, instead of making ridiculous statement, such as when he essentially said Sola Scriptura, in dividing Scripture from Tradition, was “dangerously close” to the unpardonable sin.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brandylynn

    Simply put, it was a good introduction to very basic EO theology, which commingled with Gillquist's move from the Protestant faith, his involvement with the early years of a developing Campus Crusade for Christ, to a thirst and study for knowledge of the church Father's, the historical faith of the early church and Tradition, which led him (and others in his core group) to become part of the Eastern Orthodox faith.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dustan Holland

    The parts about orthodoxy itself was pretty interesting. The rest was just about how this group of priests joined the orthodox church. I thought it was going to be a more general book about joining the orthodox faith, as I will soon be crismated into the church. Didn't hate it, liked parts of it. It was ok. Which is what Goodreads says 2 stars are for. Feels low though.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dimmy-jimmy

    I knew little of the orthrodox faith,the book was good but,it dealt more with his journey than the faith itself. the orthrodox faith seems to fill a void the catholic faith cant fill, one day iam going to act on it

  18. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Stoffregen

    Very easy to read, and interesting. However, I felt that Gillquist dealt with a lot of the theological concerns in a superficial way. He writes as an enthusiastic convert, and I wasn't swept away with his enthusiasm.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Great read! It was an interesting story about their way into the Church, yet it also explained various Orthodox beliefs that non-Orthodox (particularly Protestant) Christians do not understand. I liked it!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dana Cheryl

    Well-written & Easy to read An interesting and well- written account of a unique mass conversion to the Orthodox Church. The author was honest, thoughtful, and inspiring. Well-written & Easy to read An interesting and well- written account of a unique mass conversion to the Orthodox Church. The author was honest, thoughtful, and inspiring.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    A very interesting an inspiring book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Long journey.... The story of these peoples journey to orthodox is incredible! It is definitely a story about the search for truth!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Jones

    good book. tells the story out of evangelicalism and into the rooted traditions of the orthodox church.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Hall

    An excellent summary of Fr Peter's journey to the Orthodox faith. This was a quick and enjoyable read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This is such a great book. A group of protestants search out the New Testament Church only to come to the Orthodox Church. 2,000 of them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Demetrios Klados

    Excellent representation of orthodoxy and the faith. I very eye opening

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Walser

    Great intro and reintroduction into a beautiful faith

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jared Walker

    An entertaining and inspiring read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    A fascinating story!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lidya

    I have always wondered why things are the way they are in my church. This is a good confirmation that it's not all ridiculous tradition, seriously enlightening.

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