The book “The Path to Oikonomia with Jesus Christ as our Lighthouse” by Dr. John Panagiotou gives a refreshing look at the whole question of Christian stewardship and the issues surrounding it in our contemporary Church.
In a concise, but thorough way, Dr. Panagiotou both explains the problem and gives solid and Biblically based solutions that are both practical and meaningful.
While chapters 2-4 provide a Biblical and Patristic foundation for both identifying the problems and providing answers, it is chapters 1 and 5 that are of most use to the average parish council and “stewardship” committee, as well as the clergy and faithful at large.
For those wishing to delve into an in-depth understanding of the foundation of Christian stewardship, Dr. Panagiotou provides all of the Biblical and patristic evidence to support his conclusions. For those without the time or wherewithal to go that deeply, chapter one and five explain the problem our parishes are facing and provide solutions that are both Christocentric and based on the teachings of historical Christianity.
This thought filled, but challenging book is a loud foghorn warning the “ships” that represent our parishes to re-examine how they look at Christian stewardship and spiritual growth connected to it before it is too late.
The models of giving and sustaining our parishes that carried us early on (although ultimately, they burdened and hindered us) are no longer sustainable and, in fact, were based on an improper understanding to begin with.
As we move away from ethnocentric parishes held together by common bonds of both faith and culture, we are left with our faith; and that should be sufficient. This faith has survived the early persecutions of the Roman Empire, atheistic communism, the Ottoman domination, and many other trials and tribulations over the centuries.
Today, however, we are witnessing a different kind of attack. Today, our faith is being challenged by the secular, anti-Christian and materialistic world in which we live; a nihilistic world where anything goes in the name of “freedom.”
The infamous quote of Ivan Karamazov in “The Brothers Karamazov” written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in the late 1800’s, “If there is no God, all things are permissible” is the anthem by which our modern society, including many so-called Orthodox Christians unknowingly (or even worse, knowingly) march.
The results of this permissive and secular attitude leave our faithful with bad choices and destructive alternatives to Christ and the Church. It is only through a proper understanding of what it means to be Christian stewards in the truest sense, in the Biblical and patristic sense, that we can both work out our own salvation and, in turn, provide a beacon for others seeking the truth of our Orthodox Christian faith by providing a well-run and functioning “hospital” (the Church in general and our parishes in particular) so that they too can first find and then properly embrace the faith “once and for all delivered to the saints.”
This book gives the blueprint for how to do that very thing.
Finally, while this book is an excellent resource for our Orthodox parishes and, no doubt, the intent and focus of the writer is just that, it can also be used by non-Orthodox Christians as a solid resource for renewal in their own parishes. Well-done, Dr. Panagiotou!
About the author
Archpriest Thomas Zain is the Vicar General of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and Dean of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.
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