The Orthodox Dilemma

Personal Reflections on Global Pan-Orthodox Christian Conciliar Unity

Christian - Non-Fiction
420 Pages
Reviewed on 03/18/2016
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

Important to consider with any informative evaluation of The Orthodox Dilemma by layman George Alexander is the necessarily circumscribed focus of his attention – the historical delineations, early schisms, and later separations of Orthodox Christianity into various Churches, along with a specific concern for a conciliar unification of all the separate Orthodox Churches – as well as his own confession to having a highly restricted and non-definitive personal objective in writing this exhaustive treatise: “This book does not have any guidelines for Orthodox unity as such, but contains random thoughts, wild dreams, reflections and life experiences [of someone] who deeply desires to see the Church of Christ united in conciliarity,” defined as “the adherence of various Christian communities to the authority of ecumenical councils and to synodal church government.”

Therefore, The Orthodox Dilemma by George Alexander is a passionate and heartfelt plea for Orthodox Churches everywhere, but especially at the local level, to find a personal way - demonstrating basic Christian principles - to get along, while at the same time adhering to fundamental Orthodox doctrines such as the very nature of the One Lord Jesus Christ, perfect God and perfect Man, and the history of the Church traced in unbroken continuity from Christ and his Apostles. Alexander believes that these fundamental Orthodox canons, if pursued with sincerity, can still be the foundation on which conciliar unity is achieved and founded upon a common universal platform. The author stresses conciliarity “because the nature and structure of administration and decision in Orthodox Churches is always based on councils.”

The interested reader may find much of value in The Orthodox Dilemma, including several anecdotal experiences of both severe division and blessed unity within the Church. He may also feel, however unfairly, that George Alexander does not articulate much more of a practical agenda than his passionate demand for unification, heartfelt as that may be, though he is careful to enumerate in relentless detail the seemingly overwhelming odds against it, including a severe lack of Orthodox religious education among the membership in general. Still, if his purpose - as stated - is mostly to provoke the same desire and passion in others and to stimulate further ideas and plans for unifying actions, he may consider this book to be a particular success.