Orthodoxy in Conversation

Fr. Brendan Pelphrey

Today, Orthodox Christian students on every campus in America inevitably meet teachers and fellow students from a wide variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. A large majority of the people we meet know little or nothing about Orthodoxy, Church history, or the Bible. Even Christians, especially form Protestant backgrounds, have prejudices about Orthodoxy which are based on false information. Because of this, we often find ourselves trying to defend our faith, our way of life, basic spiritual truths, or the idea that there is such a thing as “truth.”

This session aims to draw out encounters the participants have already had, or are likely to have, with non-Orthodox and non-Christian friends. Then we will explore how to answer questions about our faith from people of different backgrounds. What can we learn about their views of God, the world, and our own human destiny? How do we avoid appearing ignorant, or even withdrawing into our own comfortable cultural and religious worlds? We will keep in mind the example of St. Peter, who said that we should always to be prepared to make a defense of our faith in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).

Rev. Dr. Brendan Pelphrey is a convert to Orthodox Christian faith from a Protestant background, who personally explored several world religions before obtaining degrees in Orthodox patristic theology. As a professor of graduate and undergraduate students he taught theology, philosophy, world religions and missiology at a number of college and universities in the United States as well as in Hong Kong, including Hellenic College. In this capacity he participated in dialogues with followers of many different spiritual and philosophical backgrounds from around the world. This has included followers of virtually all major world religions as well as new religious movements, cults, Wicca, Native American spiritual paths, New Age and atheism; and particularly Buddhism in China, Macau, Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Philippines, Japan, and the United States.

He has helped to form OCF groups on several campuses, and on one campus actually led Bible studies for several years that were attended regularly by Pagans and Wiccans. Today he is presiding priest of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in San Antonio, Texas and continues as a resources for the OCMC, OCF, and as a Frontline priest for IOCC. He has lectured and published widely in the fields of Orthodox Christian spirituality, medieval Christian mysticism, interfaith dialogue, and Orthodox Christian missiology.