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Baptist -> Eastern Orthodox

Discussion in 'Traditional Theology' started by Fenwick, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. Fenwick

    Fenwick I literally don't care

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    Maybe my situation is just a unique one, but it seems like I've encountered a many testimonies from Orthodox individuals who began in the Baptist church. I was just perusing the "census" thread, and I noticed that our friends Tzaousios and Mary of Bethany both started off Baptist and either converted or have heavy EO leanings/sympathies.

    The former (now retired) EO priest at the OCA mission in my town was also raised Baptist and later converted to Orthodoxy and entered the priesthood.

    I'm wondering if this is a larger trend or maybe just an odd coincidence on my part? Is there some sort of connection that drives people in the Baptist tradition to explore Orthodoxy?

    I mean, there are also a lot of converts from Catholicism, which makes sense to me since they're so similar, but the Baptist - Orthodox transition seems a bit more peculiar to me.

    Just thought I'd bring this here for discussion and see if anything's pointed out that maybe I missed before.

    Cheers.
     
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  2. Michie

    Michie Perch Perkins. Catholic reporter. ;) Supporter

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    I've noticed former Baptists migrating to other Christian faith traditions across the spectrum. I think it is because there are just a whole lot of Baptists! ^_^ I do think Baptist become fascinated with more liturgical faiths once they learn & understand what is behind it. Baptists tend to be the opposite of that type of worship.
     
  3. Fenwick

    Fenwick I literally don't care

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    That is true. 15 million+ just in the SBC alone. I just wonder why I seem to only be exposed to Baptist -> Orthodox converts. :scratch:
     
  4. Michie

    Michie Perch Perkins. Catholic reporter. ;) Supporter

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    Do you have an Orthodox Church in your area?
     
  5. Fenwick

    Fenwick I literally don't care

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    Just a small mission parish that's part of the OCA. The next closest one is maybe a 45 minute drive or so.
     
  6. Michie

    Michie Perch Perkins. Catholic reporter. ;) Supporter

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    I was wondering if that might have something to do with it. I know I was looking into Orthodoxy myself at one time but there is nothing in the way of Orthodox Churches in my area.
     
  7. Fenwick

    Fenwick I literally don't care

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    That could be it. I visited in on several occasions before the priest retired, and it seemed like a rather small community. Although the priest said there are actually quite a few non-practicing Orthodox in our town.
     
  8. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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    Part of it might be the demographics where you live.

    I think among western Christians, Orthodoxy has become more visible than it used to be, maybe especially because of the internet.

    I also think there has been in more evangelical circles generally an increased interest in actually looking back further than the Reformation, and they are finding that the early church didn't look like they had been taught. I know an Anglican woman who taught a class at an evangelical college, and in recent years quite a few of the professors have become fairly conservative Anglicans, to the puzzlement of the people who run the college. I think it may be a similar kind of movement.

    Also - it may be that people who come from other liturgical traditions are less likely to find their own groups really wanting in connection to the history of the Church.
     
  9. Fenwick

    Fenwick I literally don't care

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    That's a possibility, although the ratio of Baptists to, say, Evangelicals in my town is probably 1:8. It still may yet be a factor though.

    Yes, this is certainly true. There seems to have been massive growth in all of the autocephalous churches, which I'm sure leads to greater exposure to people who didn't know much about it.

    This is certainly true. The associate pastor at my church, a brilliant man, went to great lengths to educate our church on Christian history including dedicating a whole sermon series to the Creed.

    Some time later, my church spent a whole season essentially utilizing the sermon time of each service to introduce the congregation to the different expressions of Christianity and the first Sunday they did it, they had the Fr Michael (the Orthodox priest) speak about the nature and history of Orthodoxy. So I can definitely see what you're saying here as being true.

    That's also a good point. The contrast between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism or Lutheranism is significantly less than that between Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism or the Baptist tradition. So the leap in the former may seem less worthwhile than in the latter.
     
  10. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    I started as Baptist as well, though I went through other churches before discovering Orthodoxy.

    Our priest is a former Baptist as well.

    We don't have a great number of local converts, but around here I would say (if we did) the cause could just be the number of Baptists.

    I will say something else though. My Baptist foundation gave me a great respect for Scripture (which the Orthodox Church also holds in high regard). Studying the Bible was important, and considering original meaning was always a Baptist goal. My parish is Greek, so having people who can read the Bible in the original and explain quite a bit about the words used is a plus for me. I was taught a certain reverence which I missed in the Pentecostal circles, though in the Baptist it was too "stand-offish" toward God - in the Orthodox Church we have utmost respect and reverence, and yet a closeness at the same time.

    Oh ... There is a lot more I'd like to say. But for me, there were both good things in the Baptist Church that predisposed me to appreciate things in Orthodoxy, as well as deficiencies that found a fulfillment in Orthodoxy.

    Of course, it also gave me certain theological stumbling blocks, but thankfully the ECFs provided enough commentary for me to accept that Orthodoxy has indeed remained faithful to the teachings of the early Church. And if it was good enough for them - and theologically sound based on their reasons - then I'm not willing to accept those who would discredit certain things almost 2000 years later.
     
  11. Yardstick

    Yardstick Episcopalian

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    I didn't convert to Orthodoxy but I will say that as a young baptist I was under the impression that we did things the way the original church did. When I learned that wasn't true I pretty much immediately went to Roman Catholicism in order to do church the way I thought the apostles did it.
     
  12. Tzaousios

    Tzaousios Αυγουστινιανικός Χριστιανός

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    Well, for me, it was a little bit of a different process than for most others. Naturally, as a Baptist, I had been drawn by Roman Catholicism in terms of the history and the liturgical aspects. I also had the good fortune of growing up in a Baptist church that was not overtly bigoted or anti-Catholic.

    However, as a result of my studies and training (I teach premodern history and am working on my PhD in late antiquity and the later Roman Empire), I discovered the Eastern Roman Empire and eventually Eastern Orthodoxy. Through reading the early church fathers, as well as church history and ecclesiology, I became drawn more and more to Eastern Orthodoxy. This has been a process that has spanned across more than fifteen years.

    My first experiences with Orthodoxy outside of books and history were at a Greek Orthodox Church in my hometown that a college friend was a cradle member of. Now I attend Vespers and Divine Liturgy when I can at a local Antiochian parish. I am hoping one day to enter the Church as a catechumen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
  13. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    I think I have lost track of the number of fellowships I have been part of that claimed they did things the way the original Church did.
     
  14. Mary of Bethany

    Mary of Bethany Only one thing is needful. Supporter

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    Darth,

    I'm in North Texas which has a huge number of Southern Baptists, so now that Orthodoxy has become visible here, it is not unusual for people to become curious about us.

    When I first began looking outside of the Baptist churches, for sacrament & liturgy, I knew nothing of Orthodoxy beyond the fact that there were such things as Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox. By the time I actually joined an Anglican Church, Orthodoxy was just beginning to be on my radar. I was already looking for "the original Church" and was leaning towards the RCC, but as I learned more and more about Orthodoxy, the more I was drawn to it. That was around 2000, and the number of converts was already large.

    Abp. DMITRI of blessed memory, grew up Southern Baptist and he used to say that they made great Orthodox! They already had a love for Christ, and a relationship with Him. Living a holy life was important, and of course they are well grounded in Scripture. So if they became open to the early Church, and the ECFs, it really wasn't such a hard transition as you might think.

    Mary
     
  15. MoreCoffee

    MoreCoffee Repentance works.

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    I started as a Baptist but I am a Catholic not an Orthodox :)
     
  16. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    I've seen plenty of multi-directional movement over the years. I myself being a former Evangelical/Pentecostal and now Lutheran, and having known others who grew up Roman Catholic and are now Evangelical or Pentecostal.

    I think it's difficult to try and systematize it too much, the reasons for people making swims in either direction can be incredibly diverse.

    Having said that I notice a trend among the Evangelical -> Traditional in that many become disenfranchised due to a sense of lacking something ancient and sacred. I know for myself it was a discovery the Church's ancient and abiding history that was fundamental in drawing me to the liturgical and the sacramental.

    But then the reverse can be just as true, though usually the stories I hear of those who go Traditional -> Evangelical is that there was something missing in their spiritual life, an intimacy that they found more meaningful in more energetic environments such as contemporary Evangelical and Pentecostal worship.

    But then I also have noticed that many of the former Catholics who became Evangelical that I've known personally grew up in a household that was nominally religious, their families attended Christmas and Easter Mass and that might have been it. The contemporary worship they found, say, at the youth groups they visited may have felt far more relevant to them.

    Whereas for me it was specifically that contemporary form of worship that started to feel very shallow, superficial, and irrelevant; and it is the historic liturgy that I find lively, energizing, and authentic. Any more I have a hard time hearing most contemporary worship songs as much more than noise, it all comes across as idle repetition of words and noises to my ears (and I understand that that's just my experience) whereas I hear in the chants and hymns of the Church holy, enduring music. Music that really says something.

    But, like I said, I don't think we can systematize it. These are my experiences and observations but I hardly think they are exhaustive.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  17. BornAgainBrian

    BornAgainBrian The Honourable Schoolboy

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    I guess I went the opposite route. I started at 16 with Roman Catholicism and moved toward being Baptist today.
     
  18. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    I kept thinking of making a thread(s) to explore this. (At least I don't think I ever did, or if I did, I didn't get too many answers.) I am more familiar with the reasons some decided to make the same move as I did, but I'm aware of others who did the opposite. From what little I do know, your characterization seems to be pretty accurate.

    I'd love to get really large-scale input on thus though.

    I have been very sensitive to what I found to be good in various denominations, and in a sense, perhaps we internalize and carry with us the good we learn. So I have not abandoned what I received, but instead I have added to it, and I think put it now into a more proper framework. But I do try to imagine others and what they might not have learned and still be seeking.

    Maybe I'm fortunate. While I did certainly enjoy corporate worship in some evangelical congregations (and I should say that special atmosphere existed in only a few places - not every one of them by any means), I also learned the same kind of deep devotional worship on my own alone in prayer before I went to any church. So for me, the only addition was doing so corporately. The liturgy is of course different, but maybe because I don't need a certain type of music or an excited crowd to worship, I find such a wonderful spiritual connection in the sacred atmosphere. (Eta: checking my post for typos, this struck me as sounding so shallow compared to my real experience in Orthodox worship, but I guess I'm focusing only on music - there really is SO much more to it than that!)

    I have to agree that I have so much less patience with contemporary music than I used to. I always did prefer certain songs far and above others, and they never seem to play the good ones anymore anyway.
     
  19. AlexLL

    AlexLL Junior Member

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    Interestingly enough, I know of a least 2 Methodist pastors who post in Wesley's Parish that are also former Baptists. The change was probably not quite as dramatic as someone converting from the Baptist tradition to Orthodoxy, but it is still interesting to consider.
     
  20. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    I have the feeling that when people begin to sense that there's something missing in whatever church or denomination they belong to, they often can find another that represents a little needed correction. HOWEVER, some people (perhaps they are the more thoughtful or the more involved?) are not quite satisfied to have small adjustments. They often wind up moving to the opposite end of the spectrum because they have arrived at the conclusion that the basics or fundamentals of their original church were in error. Seeing it that way forces them to go to the mirror opposite or--we might say--make a complete change.
     
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