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Kallistos Ware: Theologian Who Defined the Orthodox Method to Oth…

As Orthodox Christians commemorate Metropolitan Archbishop Kallistos Ware, who fell asleep within the Lord early Wednesday morning in England at age 88, evangelicals even have a loss to mourn and cause to hope—as Orthodox funerals do—“Might his reminiscence be everlasting.”

Born Timothy Ware in 1934 and raised in an Anglican household, he transformed at age 24 and have become probably the most influential Japanese Orthodox theologians within the English-speaking world within the twentieth and early twenty first centuries.

Bishop Kallistos’ most well-known books have been The Orthodox Church, the usual introductory textbook for almost 60 years; The Orthodox Means; and The Philokalia, a traditional textual content of Orthodox spirituality which he co-translated. He served because the Spaulding Lecturer in Japanese Orthodox Research at Oxford College for 35 years till his retirement in 2001, and plenty of of his doctoral college students acquired influential posts.

After Oxford, he continued to publish however centered the remaining years of his life on strengthening the interior lifetime of the Orthodox Church and on constructing bridges with non-Orthodox Christians, together with Catholics, Anglicans, and evangelicals. An individual like him solely comes round as soon as in a century.

Bishop Kallistos’ work modified the panorama between Orthodoxy and evangelicalism, and his contributions can finest be understood by situating them at a time when evangelicals first developed curiosity within the historical religion.

This curiosity started not directly within the Nineteen Seventies with Robert Webber, a theology professor at Wheaton School. His writings made the early church engaging to evangelicals by stressing the constructive position of church custom and liturgical types of worship. He additionally documented a large motion of evangelicals into Anglicanism in his e book, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Path: Why Evangelicals are Drawn to the Liturgical Church. From there, it was a small step for some evangelicals to maneuver from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy.

Close to that point, Billy Graham held evangelistic campaigns in communist Orthodox lands similar to Russia and Romania. The Orthodox patriarchs welcomed Graham as a result of his coverage of “cooperative evangelism” allowed those that got here ahead in his conferences to be given over to their very own clergy for discipleship. Then in 1988, a former Campus Campaign for Christ chief, Peter Gillquist, led his 1,800-member denomination into the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Over the following 15 years, complete evangelical and charismatic church buildings joined native Orthodox parishes all through America.

Methodist theologian Thomas Oden started writing earnestly on classical Christianity within the religion’s first thousand years. His monumental sequence, Historical Christian Commentary on Scripture, cultivated in evangelicals a theological ardour for the early Church Fathers that has grown through the years. In 2005, the Wheaton Middle for Early Christian Research was inaugurated with funding from an Orthodox donor. And in 2013, the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative (LOI) launched probably the most formidable worldwide convention ever between Orthodox and evangelical leaders. Its first convention, entitled “On the Mission of God,” introduced collectively in Albania over 60 Orthodox and evangelical leaders from the world over. LOI has since held common worldwide conferences and stays the epicenter of Orthodox-evangelical dialogue immediately.

It was within the context of this flowering curiosity in early Christianity that Bishop Kallistos impacted Orthodox-evangelical relations, extra powerfully than nearly anybody else might. The burden of his affect got here not solely from his famend fame as a instructor and scholar at Oxford College, nor solely from his official place as a bishop within the Orthodox Church. These, little question, performed a major position; nonetheless, place these attributes in a scholar whose non secular life was so stunningly built-in with theology and the outcomes have been nothing in need of transformational for Orthodox and evangelicals alike.

A brief tribute like this can not probably talk in phrases what might solely be skilled in individual. Bishop Kallistos was very similar to the nice monk, St. Anthony of Egypt (AD 251–356). A well-known story was advised about three brothers who got here to Anthony yearly to debate the state of their souls. One, nonetheless, by no means requested him something. Anthony lastly spoke up: “You come to see me yearly right here within the desert, however you ask me nothing. Why is that?” The brother answered, “It’s sufficient for me to see you, Abba (father).” Phrases weren’t wanted. The sheer power of Anthony’s presence was sufficient to carry a couple of non secular transformation within the brother.

The identical was true for these of us who frolicked with Bishop Kallistos. His holy life gave his phrases a remodeling energy that would change the hearts of these with whom he talked, whether or not Orthodox or evangelical. His very presence reshaped the connection.

His first written help of Orthodox-evangelical dialogue got here in 1991 when he endorsed the work of the newly shaped Society for the Examine of Japanese Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism . This was a groundbreaking group of Orthodox and evangelical theologians which met yearly on the Billy Graham Middle with the help of James Stamoolis, dean of the Wheaton School Graduate Faculty. Bishop Kallistos expanded his involvement with evangelicalism in 1997 when he gave a keynote address on the European Pentecostal/Charismatic Analysis Middle in Prague on the “Private Expertise of the Holy Spirit within the Greek Fathers.”

I had the nice fortune of internet hosting Bishop Kallistos in our house on two events earlier than his loss of life. In 2011, I organized for the metropolitan to provide a lecture at Wheaton School and at North Park College entitled “Orthodox and Evangelical Dialogue: What Have We To Study From Every Different?” In that lecture, he confused the necessity to love each other; however earlier than that, we first have to perceive one another. He believed in a dialogue of reality, not a dialogue of evasion or compromise. To be human, we’d like one another as a result of people are, by nature, dialogical simply because the Trinity is dialogical.

Bishop Kallistos believed Orthodox and evangelicals appear on the floor to be extensively completely different, however the truth is we share way more in widespread than most notice. Our variations aren’t as nice as we would suppose. He believed Orthodox and evangelicals share a standard religion within the holy Scriptures as totally truthful, within the Trinity, in Jesus Christ as totally human and totally divine, and within the virgin delivery, miracles, Christ’s sacrificial loss of life on the cross, his bodily resurrection, and his second coming. The bishop believed we additionally share a standard religion within the divine ordering of marriage and a standard strategy to the issues of homosexuality, bioethics, and euthanasia.

On that 2011 journey, Bishop Kallistos additionally performed among the finest interviews on Orthodoxy and evangelicalism with the editor in chief of Christianity In the present day (CT) journal. Entitled “The Fullness and the Center,” the matters centered on the gospel, evangelism, social justice, and custom.

He advised CT:

“We Orthodox are nonetheless actually too inward wanting; we must always notice that we now have a message that many individuals will take heed to gladly. … To me, crucial missionary witness that we now have is the Divine Liturgy, the Eucharistic worship of the Orthodox Church. That is the life-giving supply from which all the things else proceeds. And subsequently, to those that present an curiosity in Orthodoxy, I say, ‘Come and see. Come to the liturgy.’ The very first thing is that they need to have an expertise of Orthodoxy—or for that matter, of Christianity—as a worshiping neighborhood. We begin from prayer, not from an summary ideology, not from ethical guidelines, however from a dwelling hyperlink with Christ expressed by way of prayer.”

The sum of Bishop Kallistos’ impression on each Orthodox and evangelical Christians was game-changing. He constructed a bridge for a united Christian witness, to the extent attainable on all sides; his Orthodox engagement with the evangelical neighborhood legitimized a dialogue that was beforehand absent; and he inspired the Orthodox neighborhood to view evangelicals as real brothers and sisters in Christ. Although our unity is imperfect, we nonetheless want and belong to one another as members of the physique of Christ. His respect for the mental heritage of evangelicalism gave the motion a credibility that was not at all times evident among the many Orthodox.

He additionally launched evangelicals to a beneficiant Orthodoxy that was time-tested and rooted in centuries of apostolic custom. When requested by CT what retains the Orthodox Church from going off the rails, Bishop Kallistos answered: “Holy Scripture because it has been understood within the church and by the church by way of the centuries. … However custom lives on. The age of the fathers didn’t cease within the fifth century or the seventh century. We might have holy fathers now within the twenty first century equal to the traditional fathers.”

To me, Kallistos Ware was a dwelling Church Father within the twenty first century. Might his reminiscence be everlasting.

Bradley Nassif is creator of The Evangelical Theology of the Orthodox Church (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2021).

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