Kallistos Ware: On the Orthodox-Evangelical dialogue

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

On the Orthodox-Evangelical dialogue

Personal notes during a talk delivered on 2/21/2011

at Wheaton College, IL

You can now listen online to this talk!


These notes are very partial, I mostly wrote down a few quotations and what I considered spiritually nourishing for myself in my daily life. Please do not consider that these notes reflect the whole topic treated by Metropolitan Kallistos.

I have to say that his approach was very respectful and loving, and that there was not ONE word that sounded polemical in his whole talk. This in itself is certainly a wonderful lesson.

To be united we need to love each other, and to love each other, we need to know each other.’

“The self exists only in dynamic relation to the other. It has its being in relationships.”John MacMurray, Persons In Relation

To be human is to be dialogical. I need you in order to be myself

Cf Zizioulas

The word person in Greek = prosopon = face. I’m a true person only when I face others

The same is true at the level of churches: an isolated church is no church. We need you in order to be ourselves

What Orthodox and Evangelicals have in common:

1) Church and Eucharist

The Church is here to proclaim the salvation in Christ; not only in words, but also in action (“DO this in memory of Me”)

The action of the Eucharist (with baptism indissolubly united.)

The Church is a Eucharistic organism; the Church becomes what it is when it celebrates the Eucharist

The unity is created from within, through the communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ

Grace is transmitted through the ear and the eye; hence the value of beauty, physical and material: icons, relics, and a strong doctrine of creation in Orthodoxy

The Church at prayer = heaven on earth

“The Church is an earthly heaven.” Germanos (7th c.)

“The church is so vast it holds both heaven and earth.” Bishop Anthony Bloom

What can Evangelicals bring to Orthodoxy?

A more conscious, reflective, and personal understanding of the faith through Scripture and sermons

2) Scripture and Tradition

No separation between both. “The Holy Bible is the test of every dogma.” Gregory of Nyssa

“Everything needed for salvation is stated in Scripture.” Philaret of Moscow

But do we live up to it?

There’s only 1 source = Tradition, how the Bible has been received and lived through the centuries

We should do together all that we are not obliged to do separately

3) The Work of Christ

“Conversion begins, but it never ends.” Anthony Bloom

Evangelicals can give us a more personal sense of salvation, Jesus died for me

“The Orthodox Church is the most evangelical Church.” Bradley Nassif

Instead of “I am saved,” the Orthodox prefers to say: I am BEING saved. Salvation is an ongoing process


We’ll learn to turn to God in new ways even in eternity, in that sense there will still be conversion.

God will always have new things to teach us = Ireneus

Problem of intercommunuion:

It is not realistic as long as there are significant differences between us

Holy Communion is not a means to an end, but the crown and fulfillment of unity

Communion cannot be isolated from the rest of your faith and life

*** *** ***

Incidentally, I would recommend a book  I read recently:

Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition, by James R. PAYTON Jr.

It presents Orthodoxy from a Western perspective. It is very exact. It shows what we have in common or not, and what we can bring each other.

My review of this book is available here:



Light From the Christian East

Light from the Christian East:

An Introduction
to the Orthodox Tradition

by James R. PAYTON Jr

224 p.

InterVarsity Press, 2007

This counts for

My Dewey Decimal Challenge


This book was recommended to me by my Orthodox godparents.
Being a recent convert from Catholicism, with a large background in Western Christianity, I found this book excellent.
The author belongs to the Protestant tradition, but he is also a Church historian, very well read in both Western and Eastern traditions.

I don’t think I have ever read any book as good as this one presenting Orthodoxy from a Western point of view. It is extremely balanced and sympathetic – actually, all along I wondered how long it would take for the author to make the plunge and become Orthodox, lol, as many other great Church historians, Jaroslav Pelikan being one of the latest ones.

He tackles all the major Christian themes, sums up the Western position, and then highlights what’s common and different from an Orthodox point of view.
His main point is that Western Christians can learn so much from Eastern Christianity and have a broader and deeper understanding of Christianity.

The tone of the book is perfect, in the sense that there is no trace of polemic whatsoever, at least that was my feeling.

My Orthodox godfather,  a Philosophy and Religion teacher, has used it to introduce his students to Orthodoxy.

This is not an easy read, this is for study. But if you want to have a view of  the whole of Christianity, this is for you.

As I read along, I posted a few short excerpts – as well as a quotation on the Transfiguration.


The Orthodox tradition is arguably the most faithful representation of early Christianity in existence today. Yet despite a quarter billion adherents—including growing numbers of evangelical converts—it remains unfamiliar and mysterious to many. Payton’s sympathetic, evenhanded introduction illuminates Orthodoxy’s fascinating history, theology, and practice. Dispelling common misperceptions, he explores the riches of this ancient faith. [christianbook.com].

Here is the Table of Contents:


Dr. James R. Payton Jr., B.A., M.A., Ph.D, is a history professor at Redeemer University College. He is the author of the acclaimed book Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition, and has published a number of different articles that have been published in numerous scholarly magazines, books, and other media. You can find more about his biography, education,  and work on wikipedia