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Book Review: Sweeter than Honey by Dr. Peter Bouteneff

Sweeter Than Honey
Book review by Brandon Talley of St. John Chrysostom Parish, York, Pennsylvania

Whether you’ve been a part of the Orthodox faith for most of your life, or have only just become familiar and seeking to know more, Sweeter Than Honey gives a fresh look at the faith of the Church and specifically how it is to be understood in light of the Western culture we find ourselves in today.

We live in a time where ‘truth’ is an extremely subjective term, and to assert that one particular idea or faith has got it right to the exclusion of others is oftentimes controversial to say the least. In Sweeter Than Honey, Dr. Bouteneff doesn’t simply claim that the Orthodox Faith is the one, truth faith, rather he examines at length the means by which one arrives at that conclusion.

In the Gospels, Pontius Pilate asked of Jesus “What is truth?”, and this question is precisely where the book begins. Bouteneff takes great care in examining how we approach the term, “truth,” positing that there is more to truth than just sheer fact. He explains that “truth” is a living relationship and progression towards life in Christ. As the book unfolds we see how relativism plays an active role in the way our culture operates. Bouteneff does not reject other truth claims outright, but rather demonstrates how we can carefully, honestly and sensitively navigate through them to find our way to an absolute truth. He goes on to show us how the church has provided us with several means of discerning truth, which help us understand how church doctrine developed. In the end, to quote from the book itself, “This book’s main point is that the dogmatic teachings of the Orthodox Church are true. That statement rests on the fact, pivotal for Orthodoxy, that Jesus Christ is the truth.”

I can personally say that after reading this book, I came away with an even greater appreciation and deeper understanding of what it means to be a part of the Orthodox faith, and I would recommend it to anyone who seeks to grow in their relationship to Christ and the Church.