The subtitle’s “Western perspective” is a Protestant perspective since author Daniel B. Clendenin is Protestant, although the Catholic point of view is not left out. A theology professor with a Ph.D. from Drew University, Clendenin teaches at Stanford University and has taught at Moscow State University in Russia. This book is more for the academic reader – the reader needs to have some theological background to understand the discussion, which can become complicated since so many traditions are being compared or contrasted, but this should not scare off readers. Clendenin is quite thorough in his discussion and shows he knows what he is writing about; he has studied Orthodoxy and Catholicism well enough to explain them to Evangelical Protestants.
In the first two chapters, Clendenin introduces and explains the differences between the Orthodox and the other Christian denominations in the U.S. Chapter three discusses Orthodox theology and how it differs from that of the West. Chapter four examines the use of icons and the conflict that occurred over them, while chapter five discusses the place that Scripture and Tradition hold in the Orthodox Church.
Clendenin shows how the Orthodox view on authority differs from that of the Catholics and the Protestants. Chapter six discusses divinization, controversial to most Protestants (and most Catholics) because it is so misunderstood. Some think it means that humans become god or part of the Trinity, but this is not what is meant. Divinization means humans are adopted children of God through baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection. Following the concluding chapter, the epilogue discusses the future of Orthodox and Evangelical Protestant dialogue. Clendenin provides an extensive bibliography of English resources for further study as well as a subject index.
Daniel Clendenin is the editor of Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader (2003), a companion to this book, and he is the author of Many Gods, Many Lords (1996) and of From the Coup to the Commonwealth (1993). This present book is recommended by Fredericka Mathewes-Green, the author of Facing East, and Fr. Paul Meyendorff, an Orthodox priest and theology professor at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. This book is recommended, too, by this reviewer to those interested as a Protestant or as a Catholic in the Orthodox Church. Academic and public libraries will want his book too to add to their collection of materials on the Orthodox Church.