California, Here I Come

In a few weeks I will be traveling home for Christmass with my family. Said home is in southern California. Usually I get together with a few friends for dinner, drinks and this sometimes includes visiting various theological discussion venues in the area, as a don the role of theological gadfly. (This only gets better with dark beer.) Should you be a native of such parts and wish to join our happy throng, please let me know via email so I can orchastrate the outing so as to maximize happiness for the greatest number of people.

53 Responses to California, Here I Come

  1. The Scylding says:

    I only saw those last couple of comments now – I’ll try and give some attention to them soon. Bu I have to admit, my brain is a bit fuzzy of late, after long hours of overtime and and… so, it might take some time. But prayer is always appreciated, whether I agree with your theological distinctives or not…..

  2. Andrew says:


    Think long and hard about Lutheranism, brother. I spent four years in a confessional Lutheran parish (Missouri Synod), and I am now an Orthodox catechumen. Hands down, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

    Please, before you actually take the plunge, give these lectures a listen:

    Read this article:

    And this (Warning! PDF!):


  3. carlos says:

    I didn’t know where else to post this, since it seemed irrelevant everywhere else. Anyway, Perry I just wanted to say “hi”. You may not remember me, as I have not had any contact with you since I’d say ’91 or ’92 but you made quite an impression on me for being such a bright guy (you’re welcome for the ego stroke). You were Anglican at the time and I had recently joined the Reformed camp (OPC). You helped me out with some very persistent Mormons and JW’s at the time. I also got a few books from you that were very useful.
    Anyway, I googled you and your blog came out. I had always been curious to know if you were still Anglican or what. I see now that you’ve joined the Orthodox Church and though I don’t claim to know much about it, I’m happy for you (just from being a Dostoyevsky admirer and from what little I’ve read about it).
    I can see from the little bit I’ve read here, that you’ve gone on to aquire much more knowledge than back when I knew you (and you were pretty sharp back then) since I can’t even follow your arguments anymore. You just lose me after the first couple paragraphs (not your fault obviously, just my ignorance displayed in its full glory).

    Well, like I said before, I just wanted to say ‘hi” and am glad you’re doing well.

    Take care


  4. Rob G. says:

    Scylding — before you become Lutheran…have you read Bouyer’s “Spirit and Forms of Protestantism”? If you haven’t, you should.

  5. Scylding,

    “partly because of Orthodox writings”

    Does this mean your going to STILL hold onto that NeoPlatonic Gnostic God of “Augustinism?” I hope not.


  6. The Scylding says:

    Sorry, but this is all to familiar. I’m becoming Lutheran (partly because of Orthodox writings 😉 ) after a Calvinist sojurn, but I must say, Reformed Baptist critiques of ANYTHING needs to be taken with a truckload of salt. It is simply a theology with enourmous blinkers on. With some minor exceptions (Wyman Richardson for instance – a good guy), you simply waste your time trying to interact with them, whether you’re Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran Anglican and (especially) Reformed. I don’t wish to slander, but that has been my (geberalized) observation. I wish to be proven wrong, though.

    And yes, its true, Orthodoxy payed a role in my “swimming the Rhine”….. is that a good thing?

  7. Rob G. says:

    Josh — as a former Protestant now Orthodox, in addition to reading the Church Fathers as has been suggested above (St Vladimir Seminary’s “Popular Patristics” series is a great place to start) I’d highly recommend you read some Orthodox works of a deeper or more scholarly type. Suggestions:

    George Florovsky — “Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View”
    John Meyendorff — “Catholicity and the Church”
    ” ” “Living Tradition”
    Vladimir Lossky — “Orthodox Theology: An Introduction”
    Alex. Schmemann — “For the Life of the World”
    Archimandrite Vasileos — “Hymn of Entry”
    Tito Colliander — “The Way of the Ascetics”

    Also, read Lossky’s introduction to the book by him and Ouspensky called “The Meaning of Icons.” It is the best short treatment of the Orthodox understanding of Tradition that I’ve run across. These works were very helpful to me when I was first looking at Orthodoxy some seventeen years ago. “Hymn of Entry” and “The Way of the Ascetics” are books I discovered after I was already Orthodox, but ones that I wish I had found earlier.

    In any case, you’ll never be able to understand and/or critique Orthodoxy by limiting yourself to popular works such as Butler did.

  8. Elliot B says:

    Apropos getting one’s eyes, if not hands, on primary materials in EO theology, is there any kind of forum or database with excerpts of the Philokalia on it?

  9. Lee says:


    Umm… you’d better continue to add to your list. The sources you have listed so far are not primary sources. By primary sources, Perry is referring to the writings of the Church Fathers themselves, not explanations thereof, even if written by Orthodox theologians.

    Just a helpful hint from one Protestant to another 😉

  10. Josh Brisby says:


    To be honest, I don’t know what a grunion run is. :0(

    Perry, I will be happy to list the primary source materials that I have read. I have read Kallistos Ware’s The Orthodox Church. I have read Berzonsky’s articles and critiques in Three Views On Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism. I have read several articles on I have read several articles on I have read Daniel Clendenin’s works, although admittedly it is secondhand, but most Orthodox agree that he accurately represents their thought. I have read an older book called Icon and Pulpit: The Protestant-Orthodox Encounter. Admittedly this is older, but the Orthodox themselves say their church never changes. And quite honestly, the list could go on and on.

    Now please be fair and tell me where I can find your responses to Butler’s critiques. I would love to read them.

    Photios, I was just kidding around. Please don’t take it personally. But, I’ll be more careful in the future.

  11. Robert Mahoney says:

    Mmmmmm fresh fish.

    Hey Josh, do they still allow grunion runs in SD? I went to one years ago, but since I have been in exile in Texas I don’t get much fresh fish now a days. Is it still legal to have grunion run parties with Bon fires?

  12. Elliot B says:

    Wow. Robert M.’s presentation of the emperor’s new clothes (Butler’s bibliography) is stunning. I have no dog in this skirmish but it’s humorous indeed to see what “firsthand materials” look like for some critics. In any case, Perry, I reassert the meaning of this thread and wish you a happy sushi fest in SoCal.

  13. “I have read Butler’s articles and he uses primary sources and accurately represents Orthodoxy.”

    Here is what Butler uses as primary sources.

    Peter E. Gillquist, Becoming Orthodox
    Charles Bell, Discovering the Rich Heritage of Orthodoxy
    Frank Schaeffer, Dancing Alone
    Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, 2nd ed
    Ware, The Orthodox Church

    That is just in his first essay. In his second essay he offers none and also in his third essay he offers none. That is what passes for reformed scholarship these days?

  14. Josh,

    You were asked to do a very simple thing, list what primary sources you have red from cover to cover. You claim to be a Van Tilian, you stand in the paradosis of Bahnsen, but all we have seen is you evade answering a simple question.

    What have you read from cover to cover? We know you have read Butler, there is no doubt about that, but what works have you read that have given you a proper understanding of the Orthodox position from the Orthodox themselves?

    I think it is silly that Perry has to critique Butler before you will post what you yourself so freely boasted of.

  15. Mark Krause says:

    Jeez, can’t there be one simple noncontroversial post that doesn’t get hi-jacked by someone with an attitude? You’d think the Advent season would mellow people out a little bit. Lord have mercy.

  16. Josh,

    I suppose you have a reading comprehension problem. I said that I was referring to a LECTURE that Butler gave back in 2000. Robert was there was well. I am also familiar with the stuff he wrote off his web page which is sophmoric and filled with multiple errors. But initially I wasn’t referring to that.

    I don’t see why I need to write a whole detailed piece of Butler at the moment just for you. I actually have a partial critique of that material I wrote about six months ago. (And I know Mike Butler personally btw) But if you are not sharp enough to know that you should do research yourself, which you claim to have already done and apparently haven’t in fact done, then why should I bear the burden of making you a better critic? Better just to sit back and let you fall into the same mistakes Butler made and then skewer you and throw you on the Bar-b-Q along with him. That’s a Two-fer.

    If you haven’t spent a substantial amount of time reading primary source materials and understanding Orthodoxy from the inside out, just as you would any other system, why would anyone think that you were in a sufficient position to evaluate Butler’s peice? I have yet to see from you any critique let alone you give any bibliographic references that would indicate that you have done the research you claim to have done.

    In any case, I don’t bear the burden of proof for your claims. If you wish to use his material in your post on your blog, go right ahead. I know what’s out there from the Protestant world critiquing my position. I have read it all practically. And I have read a good load of primary source material in the Protestant Reformation as well. If you aren’t bright enough to catch a clue and avoid using his material, I am all too happy to vivisect you and him together with one scalpal.

    So I’d recommend that you either clam up or get to writing your magnus opus.

  17. Josh,

    One more post with this bombastic attitude and your gone. I don’t care to see my blog wasted with this crap.


  18. Josh Brisby says:


    The reason I asked you to cite some mistakes in Butler’s articles (he has parts 1-3 BTW on the web) is to prove that the common Orthodox cry “we’ve been misrepresented! They don’t understand Orthodoxy!” is not always true. I have read Butler’s articles and he uses primary sources and accurately represents Orthodoxy. Show me that Butler misrepresented Orthodoxy. If you can’t, then I’ll assume that you were speaking out of your rear-end when you said it was a misrepresentation. :0D

  19. Rob G. says:

    Speaking of small worlds, it’s an interesting thing about Calvinism and Orthodoxy, isn’t it? Although I was never a Calvinist, I became interested in Orthodoxy after reading some references to it in Calvinist author David Chilton. Up until then I had no idea what Orthodoxy was — I thought it was the Greek branch of the Catholic Church.

    I believe that Orthodoxy is very much the polar opposite of Calvinism, much more so than Catholicism is. In a sense, Calvinism is simply a warped, denatured Catholicism, with most of the good stuff taken out, while Orthodoxy and Calvinism have no common root whatsoever.

  20. David Richards says:

    Josh, since YOU came on PERRY’S blog and asked for a debate, I would think it is only fair that you first display the credentials to critique Orthodoxy from having read primary sources, and not ask Perry for his critique of Butler, which as he said is beside the point. This could go round-and-round forever.

  21. Josh,

    Butler comments were located in a lecture he gave that I was at at Cal State Fullerton. I am not sure why I need to detail the mistakes that he made since that is not to the point of substantiating your claims regarding being significantly well informed on Orthodox theology. I am not sure why I should provide you the benefit of escaping from making the same mistakes that he did if you can’t evade them by your own study. All is fair in love and war. Haven’t you ever played poker?

  22. Josh Brisby says:


    I will be happy to tell you the material I have read on the Orthodox Church. First, you tell me what was wrong with Butler’s articles. Please do not generalize, but tell me specifics of how Butler misrepresented Orthodoxy.

  23. Robert,

    I was Anglican at the time but Butler’s take was a hatchet job if ever there was one.

  24. I remember when he said that that there were some guys from Catholic Answers who gasped out loud when he said that.

    I really used to enjoy attending the SCCCS conferences, they were such a high point of my year. I used to go and stay with some folks who attended the Church that Greg Bahnsen pastored. Those were good times.

    Funny,Disney was right, Its a small world after all.

  25. Robert, no bad, just wanted to let you know.

    Do you want to know something funny? I was at the SCCS conference! And you are right. Butler basically read the Credenda Agenda piece which was horrible. I remember Butler saying that the Orthodox Church was a “synogogue of Satan.” He made the same mistake of seeing words used in Platonism with Orthodox teaching being Platonic. Word-concept fallacy strikes again!

  26. “Daniel wasn’t privy to our missives, so for him, Josh popped in out of nowhere.”

    I see, my bad.

  27. Josh thinks I am a victim of the Auburn Avenue conference.

    It actually wasn’t that at all, rather, my journey was many years in the making. The seed was actually planted many years earlier by RC Sproul, and one thing that started me really looking at the EO Church was a conference I atteneded at Cal State Fullerton put on by the Soiuthern California Center For Christian Studies that was dealing with the issue of Protestant, Catholics and Orthodoxy. As far as my memory goes there was only one lecture delievered dealing with the question of Orthodoxy, and the speaker was Michael Butler. I went home and began reading up on Orthodoxy, and started reading what the Orthodox themselves said. I found the two were quite different.

    Michael Butler has written a series dealing with Eastern Orthodoxy, and I have to say that it is as close to a Calvinist Chick tract was I have ever seen. It is so bad it doesn’t even get cut and pasted any longer on discussion boards.

    All in all Josh is a nice guy, he believes what he believes. He throws around a lot of reformed slogans, doesn’t make him a bad guy, but he can be a little bombastic but it wouldn’t prevent me from having a beer with him.

  28. Robert,

    Daniel wasn’t privy to our missives, so for him, Josh popped in out of nowhere.

  29. Robert Mahoney says:


    Josh is friend of mine who goes way back. He is none to happy that I have left the reformed faith to embrace that which was once and for all delievered to the saints.

    I can assure you he is not a troll. He is a reformed baptist who believes that in spite of the historical facts that the Church of the apostles looked exactly like and taught exactly the same things his denomination currently teaches.

  30. Perry,

    Josh looks like a troller or a stool pigeon of someone elses making. How boring!


  31. Josh,

    Reformed writers that engage Orthodox thought say such things of the Reformed themselves regarding Orthodoxy. So if I am unjustified in making such claims then it certainly doesn’t bode well for Reformed writers being in knowledgeable about their own communities let alone someone elses.

    Moreover, it would only be an “out” if it were in fact true and it is often true that self confessedly the Reformed know little if anything about Orthodox theology beyond a superficial level. My judgment regarding Reformed theology didn’t depend on how long you have been Reformed but on conceptual mistakes from material on your blog.

    Since you claim to have done substantial reading in Orthodox theology I’d invite you to put your money where your mouth is and put forward what you take to be the most substantial works on Orthodox teaching that you’d read cover to cover.

    As for another Christ, “you yourself have said it.”

  32. Josh Brisby says:


    I noticed that the guys at Triablogue (one of the guys there is a good friend of mine) already gave you a theological spanking. Are you sure that you want to come back for more? :0)

  33. Josh Brisby says:


    Thanks for the advice, but I am well aware that Rome and the East think very differently and have different paradigms. I agree that it is a shame that many try to argue against Eastern Orthodoxy the same way they try to argue against Rome. As far as firsthand sources, I have read many firsthand sources, in both articles and books, as well as secondary sources which critique.


    I completely agree with you that I worship a different God and a different Christ than the Eastern Orthodox Church does. There is no argument there.

  34. JKC says:


    We went to Satsuma Sushi in Rancho Cucamonga last time, but if you want to stay in OC that will work too. Also, if you are going to St Andrew’s let me know.

  35. David Richards says:

    Josh, an explanation might help you to understand where Perry and Photios are coming from. Protestants tend to see Orthodoxy and Papism as mirror images, with their ecclesiology of infallibility (my phrase) and fidelity to Holy Tradition cited as evidence of their commonality; the differences between them then are often dismissed as incidental rather than recognized as stemming from essentially and profoundly divergent paradigms. The result is that Protestant arguments fail to engage Orthodoxy, at least on its own terms, because they are arguments rehearsed against Papism, and the Eastern Christian Church, though it employs many of the same surface concepts and terminology (Holy Tradition, Simplicity in God, etc.), uses those terms to mean radically different things. You will probably have to demonstrate at least an adequate grasp of Orthodox theology as a system, from the “inside out,” using the Church’s own theologians, before–no offense–anyone on this blog takes you seriously. A simple attempt to dismantle our theology in the same way you would go about dismantling Latin theology will not do, and neither will reading second-hand, popular sources such as an Evangelical manual of arguments against Orthodoxy. Perry and Photios for their part take their theological studies quite seriously and I would advise you to familiarize yourself with some of their archived writings on this very blog before you start in on a debate with either of them. They may have addressed some of your objections before, and I know that Perry gets tired of having to write the same counter-arguments over and over. Just giving you fair warning, y’know.

  36. photios says:


    What work or how much work have you done on Triadology? Since all the differences more or less fall out of who we worship and our understanding thereof, that would be the proper starting point to engage us. To put it bluntly, you worship a different God, a different Christ then we do.


  37. It is quite interesting to me that I always hear the Orthodox claim that the non-Orthodox don’t understand their religion. This seems to be a kind of “out” for the Orthodox.


    I find it interesting that that is the same claim the Reformed make against those who don’t accept reformed theology. I have piles of tapes from the White Horse Inn making that claim. :o)


  38. Josh Brisby says:


    It is quite interesting to me that I always hear the Orthodox claim that the non-Orthodox don’t understand their religion. This seems to be a kind of “out” for the Orthodox. Also, I am not sure where you got the idea of me not understanding Reformed theology. I have been Reformed for 11 years (and counting), and I have studied it every single day since. I am also very familiar with Eastern Orthodoxy, although arguably I am sure not as familiar as you–but that does not mean a reasonable critique cannot be given.

    I look forward to our upcoming interaction on my blog. I’ll let you know when it’s posted.

    At least we have sushi and beer in common. :0D

  39. Brad says:

    Psh. Sushi’s just fine in Texas, just not so great in College Station.

  40. Mark Krause says:

    Perry, where do you go for sushi? Always looking for good new place 🙂

    What church do you go to when you’re out here? Just curious if I might see you in church while you’re out here. I go to St. Barnabas’ in Costa Mesa and once in a while I go to St. Andrew’s in Riverside because I have some good friends that attend there and Father Josiah is pretty awsome.

    In any case, I hope you have a really blessed and Merry Christmas.

  41. George says:

    Given the vigorous comment volley following one recent post, might I suggest that alongside the AB and Newcastles, you try the respectable Polygamy Porter (saw, but didn’t try, during my last business trip to Salt Lake) 🙂

  42. David Richards says:

    What’s wrong with sushi in Texas?!

  43. Josh,

    First, I don’t know you from Adam and given that I will be in OC and my family committments I am not driving two hours likely a good portion of that in traffic, to SD to talk to you about a blog post. So thats my first reason not to do so. Second, given the kind of dogmatic assurance that you seem to have in light of practically no serious study of Orthodox theology, and arguably even Reformed theology on your part, I can’t see what profit there is to be gained by my doing so. If you want to post something on your blog and I will reply thats fine, but its a big hassle to get the free time to go all that way to talk about a blog post. Third, I get to go home to see my extended family once a year for a few weeks and thats it. If I am lucky I go out with a few friends one night and even more fortunate if I get to go out for Sushi (JKC, thats for you-everyone else-don’t eat sushi in Texas or MO btw). So the answer is no.

  44. Brad says:


    ::shrug:: Drink whatever you want. 😉 Newcastle’s respectable.

    I’ve actually had that beer, probably because of the label, at a beer tasting once. Nobody liked it, but that doesn’t mean anything. Maybe we just weren’t sophisticated enough. 😉

  45. David Richards says:

    Dude, I thought drinking was a sin.

  46. Josh Brisby says:

    Mr. Robinson,

    Hello, my name is Josh Brisby. I am an old friend of Robert Mahoney’s. You had said that you would be happy to debate me on the subject of Eastern Orthodoxy. I noticed your thread here. My wife and kids and I live in southern California in the San Diego area. Before we debate, I would love to get together with you and chat, maybe have a few brews or something. My e-mail address is Please let me know if you would like to meet in person before we debate.

    Josh Brisby

  47. T says:

    Say, this will be a great move for me (Reformed to Orthodox)! I thought the Reformed folk were the only ones to get together and talk theology over beer and stogies.

  48. I’m looking forward to your visit, Perry.

  49. Rob G. says:

    “I thought the label was funny and I am a Newcastle drinker myself. Besides humor is a way to highlight my moral faults.”

    Better ‘Arrogant Bastard’ than ‘Old Leghumper,’ I guess. 😉

    I just had an A.B. the other night, along with a couple Christmas beers — Sierra Nevada and Anchor. This is my favorite time of year for beer, as all those great winter and Christimas brews are making their arrival. But my beer of choice, when I can find it, is Fuller’s ESB. Nectar of the gods, IMHO!

  50. Bill Zuck says:


    I would love to get together with you during the time you are here in Southern California. It has been too long since the last time we got together. Also I have a friend you might like to meet. He was originally from Lebanon and grew up as a Syrian Orthodox. He is now preparing to be reeived into the Antiochian Orthodox after having flirted with Fundamentalism and Reformed Thheology. In any case, I would enjoy seeing you again.

    Bill Zuck

  51. Brad,

    I thought the label was funny and I am a Newcastle drinker myself. Besides humor is a way to highlight my moral faults. What better than beer to do it with? Perhaps brandy I suppose.

  52. Brad says:

    Egh. Last time I tried, I had to choke that stuff down. Maybe our batch was bad. Either way, cheers.

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