A Recent Doctoral Work on Orthodox-Evangelical Dialogue in North America

Danut Manastireanu

Rev. Ovidiu Dorin Druhora, minister of a Romanian Pentecostal church in Los Angeles, has defended in 2016, at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology of the University in Bucharest, Romania, his doctoral research titled ‘Protestantism and Orthodoxy in North America: Dichotomy and Ecumenical Dialogue’, realised under the coordination of Dr. Remus Rus.

The text, written in Romanian, is divided in five distinct sections. The first one presents the methodological approach of the author, which centres on the concept of koinonia as a dialogical model, with serious theological and hermeneutical implications for upholding the New Testament ideal of ecclesial unity. The second part presents a historical excursus on Protestant-Orthodox theological dialogue in N America and beyond. The third section of the thesis analyses what the Orthodox and Protestant Evangelicals hold in common, but also what still separates them. The fourth part of the work offers a suggestion for what the author considers to be the most fertile ground for the continuation of this dialogue, which, he suggests, should be found in models that predate the Great Schism and some recent neo-evangelical approaches (it remains to be seen how realistic this proposal is, and how these tenth-century models could be appropriated in the current context). The final part of this work sets the discussion in the contemporary postmodern context, and explores its possible future, not only in N America, but also in Romania, the author’s country of origin.

The author’s approach to ecumenical dialogue is informed by David Lochhead’s triad (in The Dialogical Imperative: A Christian Reflection on Interfaith Encounter, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 1988) – information, formation, transformation – which we commend as having a great inspirational potential for various ecumenical dialogues, including that initiated by LOI.

Those accustomed with the various Evangelical-Orthodox encounters will meet in the course of reading this text very familiar names, like Bradley Nassif, James Stamoolis, Kallistos Ware, Edmund Rybarczyk, Stelian Tofana, Emil Bartos, and others. The contribution of various key players and initiatives is presented and analysed.

One of the exploratory instruments used by Dr. Druhora in his research was an interview which consisted of three basic questions – dealing with uniqueness, the challenges and the future of Evangelical-Orthodox dialogue, which he addressed to 33 theologians and church leaders, mostly from the US, UK and Romania. He includes in full some of the responses to this interview, which gives readers the opportunity to taste the reality which the author has analysed in his research.

The doctoral work discussed here, with its concentration on the N American context, is really a premiere, and it deserves the full attention of those interested in ecumenism, particularly the interaction between Evangelicals and Orthodox, be it in theological or missiological terms. We welcome it and we hope that, in time, it will become available, in book form, in Romanian as well as in English.

Axios, Rev. Dr. Ovidiu Druhora!