Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition, By James R. Payton Jr.
Light from the Christian East
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: July 26, 2007
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 2594
  • ISBN: 9780830825943

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The Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Awards winner

"Do they really pray to icons?" "Why do they use incense?" "What do they believe?"

To many people, the Orthodox Christian tradition (or Eastern Orthodoxy) seems unfamiliar and mysterious. Yet this tradition is arguably the most faithful representative of early Christianity in existence today and numbers roughly 250 million adherents worldwide. What's more, a steady stream of evangelical Christians has been entering the Orthodox Church in recent decades. Isn't it time we gained a deeper understanding of Orthodoxy?

In Light from the Christian East, James Payton gives us just that. With a sympathetic eye and even hand, he ushers readers into the world of Orthodox Christianity--its history, theology and religious practices. In doing so, he clears away the confusion and misunderstandings that often prevent non-Orthodox Christians from fully appreciating the riches of this ancient tradition. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in Orthodox Christianity.

"James R. Payton Jr. has written a clear, concise and appreciative introduction to the unique contributions of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. I was glad that I read his book."

Daniel B. Clendenin, author of Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective,

"One of the best introductions available to the Eastern Orthodox Church and its theology. The comparisons and contrasts make for fascinating reading and clearly illuminate the main issues. This book will find its way into many syllabi."

James J. Stamoolis, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean, Trinity College and Trinity Graduate School, and author of Eastern Orthodox Mission Theology Today

"James Payton has combined his thorough familiarity with Eastern Orthodoxy--her history, theology and practice--with a gracious and respectful sensibility, and produced a book that is inviting, accessible and more content-rich than an introductory work is expected to be. Light from the Christian East is an excellent book."

Frederica Mathewes-Green, author of The Illumined Heart: The Ancient Christian Path of Transformation

"In a day when people look to the Far East for truth and light, Dr. Payton suggests that they consider the Christian East as well. This ancient tradition gets us away from the weary Catholic-Protestant split and opens up rich possibilities for fresh reflection. This book feeds one's soul and quickens one's intellect."

Clark H. Pinnock, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, McMaster Divinity College

"This is a lucidly written, highly approachable book that highlights some of the key distinctions between the 'Christian East' and the 'Christian West.' It shows the theological thinking of the Orthodox East to be the best-kept secret in the West. It will invite other studies that will rightly seek to draw the lines a little less sharply, but such responses will benefit greatly from the clarity of Payton's preliminary exposition."

Peter Bouteneff, D.Phil., assistant professor of dogmatic theology, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary

"This is a book for those who want a more comprehensive vision of the Christian faith without feeling the need to convert to the Orthodox Church. It ably and accurately provides information on major themes in Orthodox theology while inspiring readers to embrace all that is holy and right within it."

Bradley Nassif, professor of biblical and theological studies, North Park University (Chicago)

"For anyone interested in learning more about Eastern Orthodoxy, James R. Payton, Jr. leads his reader on an informative tour through the theology and practices of this tradition. Payton deeply appreciates what he finds in the Orthodox tradition and urges his Western readers to do the same."

Calvin Theological Journal, April 2010

"Payton provides a sympathetic introduction to Orthodox theology for Western Christians, especially Protestants. His aim is not merely to inform, but also to enrich and deepen Western theological traditions and faith practices."

Amy Plantinga Pauw, Christian Century, May 6, 2008

"Light From the Christian East can illuminate the pathway of our Christian pilgrimage and help us better recognize how to journey through this life to the hope set before us."

Ed Harris in Criswell Theological Review, Spring 2008

"For Evangelicals interested in understanding Orthodoxy, Payton?s book is an excellent study, it will also give many a better idea of how outsides might look at our own faith."

Faith Today, Nov/Dec 2007



1. Historical Perspectives
2. Western Reactions
3. Orthodoxy's Approach to Doctrine
4. Talking About God
5. The Creator and the Creation
6. Humanity as Created and Fallen
7. The Accomplishment of Salvation
8. The Application of Salvation
9. What is Grace?
10. Going to Church
11. Icons
12. Tradition and Scripture
13. Prayer

For Further Reading
Name Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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James R. Payton Jr.

James R. Payton Jr. (PhD, University of Waterloo, Canada) is emeritus professor of history at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition and Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings, as well as the editor of A Patristic Treasury: Early Church Wisdom for Today.