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Q & A: Bishop Kallistos Ware on the Fullness and the Center

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    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/july/fullnesscenter.html Q & A: Bishop Kallistos Ware on the Fullness and the Center The metropolitan archbishop of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 6, 2011

      Q & A: Bishop Kallistos Ware on the Fullness and the Center
      The metropolitan archbishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church in the U.K.
      on evangelism, evangelicals, and the Orthodox Church.
      Interview by David Neff | posted 7/06/2011 10:18AM

      In 1960, Penguin Books asked the 26-year-old Timothy Ware to write a
      book on his newfound Eastern Orthodox faith. His first reaction was to
      say no; he had been Orthodox for only two years. But a friend urged
      him to try and so he set his pen to paper. Now nearly 50 years old,
      The Orthodox Church remains the go-to book for people who want an
      introduction to Orthodoxy. Since that first book, Ware became a monk,
      took the name Kallistos, became a lecturer at Oxford University, and
      was made Metropolitan Bishop of Diokleia for Greek Orthodoxy in

      Earlier this year, Ware lectured at North Park University and Wheaton
      College about what evangelicals could learn from the Orthodox and what
      the Orthodox could learn from evangelicals. Christianity Today editor
      in chief David Neff interviewed him during that visit.

      Some friends who have joined the Orthodox Church talk as if the
      Orthodox tradition was fixed very early and handed down without
      change. You treat tradition in a much more dynamic way.

      You're quite right that I think tradition is dynamic. I recall the
      definition given by the great Russian Orthodox theologian, Vladimir
      Lossky: "Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the church."
      Clearly, tradition is life; it's not a fixed formula. Still less is it
      writings in leather-bound volumes. Tradition is life, and it is the
      life of Christ present in the church through the Holy Spirit. It is
      not simply fixed doctrines, but the continuing self-understanding and
      self-criticism of the Christian community.

      What keeps that dynamic self-understanding from going off the rails?

      Holy Scripture as it has been understood in the church and by the
      church through the centuries. With that understanding of Holy
      Scripture, we would appeal particularly to the fathers and the saints.

      Tradition is not a second source alongside Scripture; clearly
      normative for us Orthodox is Scripture as interpreted by the seven
      ecumenical councils. But tradition lives on. The age of the fathers
      didn't stop in the fifth century or the seventh century. We could have
      holy fathers now in the 21st century equal to the ancient fathers.

      The implosion of Communism left a spiritual vacuum, and my fellow
      evangelical Protestants rushed into Russia. There have been tensions
      as they have tried to help people get to know the Bible better and to
      make their faith personal. Why has it been so difficult for Orthodox
      and evangelicals to work together in post-Communist countries?

      The Orthodox felt and still feel deep resentment at the way—as they
      see it—evangelicals have moved in on their territory. They feel we
      suffered persecution in Russia for 70 years, often very severe, and we
      struggled to keep the faith going under immense difficulties. Now that
      the persecution has stopped, people move in from the West who have not
      suffered in the same way for their faith, and they are stealing our
      people from us. We feel as if our Christian brethren are stabbing us
      in the back. I'm putting it in extreme form, but there is this deep

      Bound up with this is the sense in Russia and other Orthodox countries
      of what is called canonical territory. Orthodoxy is the church of the
      land. Therefore, they feel if other Christians come in, they are
      stealing their sheep.

      I know evangelicals look at it differently. They would say, "Here is a
      country with enormous numbers of people who are totally unchurched,
      who for 70 years have had no chance to have a living link with Jesus
      Christ, and we must help them." But that's not the way the Orthodox
      look at it. They would welcome cooperation, but they resent anything
      that involves stealing their sheep.

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