Review: Orthodox Christian Beliefs

Time for another book review. Orthodox Christian Beliefs: Real Answers to Real Questions from Real People, edited by Stanley Samuel Harakas, professor of theology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. This volume, published by Light and Life Publishing Company, which has now been absorbed into the Orthodox Marketplace of the Department for Religious Education of the GOARC, seems to have been part of an intended larger series, although I was not able to find any companion volumes with a cursory internet search. That said, on to the actual book. It consists of a series of questions submitted to the religious section of the Hellenic Chronicle, which seems to be a Greek newspaper, and their subsequent answers. The topics range from basic questions on the nature of the Church, God, etc; more detailed and specific inquiries about things like icons and chants; basic apologetics on suffering and free agency; and, unfortunately, a good deal of speculation about things like angels, the end times, etc. All in all, I found it quite useful. The author managed to avoid too controversial or political topics, but managed to provide a concise introduction to the teaching of the church on numerous basic points of doctrine, in a quite easily readable way, liberally quoting from the Fathers. Other than a few nitpicks I really have no major criticisms. Although it would almost certainly not be very useful to a more experienced Christian, I would recommend it to catechumens and other new believers.

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