Publisher-Hodder and Stoughton
Subtitled “an evangelical’s journey to Orthodoxy’, this book is quite a story. Michael Harper has been an evangelical leader in Spiritual Renewal in the United Kingdom over many years. He left the Church of England in 1995 along with his wife Jeanne to join the Orthodox Church. He writes of his gradual disillusionment with developments in Anglicanism over the last three decades along with a similarly growing sentiment towards the changes taking place and emphases being pressed in the charismatic movement, a movement in which he formerly held a prominent place. He testifies to a new found joy as he and his wife have been accepted into the Orthodox Church. He is not alone among evangelicals who have made this monumental shift. At least two thousand were received into this church from in the USA just within the last decade. Mostly they testify to a discovery of a church having at its heart is rich spiritual heritage, that it is soaked in the blood of martyrs and has much to commend it. He examines its theology, worship, music and icons. All of these things are considered in a simple and almost cursory way, the length of the book not permitting a more in depth study. He answers questions as to why he did not become a Roman Catholic, also, whether his evangelical and charismatic views have been compromised by this major shift. He considers too, as to whether the Orthodox Church has anything to offer other Christians who are struggling with their own denominational and church affiliations and with their faith. Those who have read any books on the beliefs of the Orthodox Church and who have any experience of its actual rituals and life will be tempted to look quizzically at this testimony. But, it cannot be easily dismissed any more than the theological emphases of this church should be dismissed. Those who have read any doctrinal explanations of the major tenets of Orthodoxy will know that there are elements of emphasis which are sorely needed and are a helpful balance to both Roman Catholic doctrine and that of the Reformers, not to mention Pentecostal, charismatic beliefs. So, for those interested in reading a book to make them sit up and think, this one will do just that. Perhaps, should Michael Harper continue to live into further old age a follow up book would be welcome as he himself freely admits this one was written after only three or four years of life within the Orthodox Church communion.