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Author Topic: An Outsider's Impressions of Orthodoxy  (Read 31774 times) Average Rating: 0
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David Young
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« on: November 21, 2008, 11:24:14 AM »

An Outsider’s Impressions of Orthodoxy

I have found it hugely interesting and helpful, as a Baptist working on the home base of a missionary society which operates in Orthodox areas, to read your impressions of us in several threads on this forum. It is seldom we get the chance to see ourselves as we appear to others. So I offer the following in two hopes:

1) It may be of interest or even help to Orthodox to see how you appear to outsiders.
2) I may have formed wrong impressions by not understanding what I have seen in the right way. If so, I should very much like to be corrected, and shall look for your replies.

In November I went to the village of Zervat, southern Albania, as I wished to view the 10th century Byzantine church there. Sadly it was locked, but I very much enjoyed its old beauty from outside. Whilst two friends went off on a fruitless search for the key, I fell into conversation with an elderly man in the road, who is an adherent of that congregation. He spoke warmly and brightly of the need to have Christ as a daily reality in one’s life and heart, and is grieved over the poor relations between the denominations. Having spent much of his life in an atheist society, and now in a church which (in SW Albania at least) has a shortage of clergy, I felt that here was, perhaps, a brother in Christ, touched and made alive by the Holy Ghost but with little knowledge beyond an enthusiasm for Christ himself. I wondered how many Orthodox worshippers there are in this area, whose hearts are like kindling, ready to be ignited by the operation of the Word and the Spirit.

Then we headed for another village with a 10th century church. It is reached by a long, stony track without a signpost, and we stopped to ask the way when we espied a man and woman. We gave them a lift, as they were going that way. The woman is the wife of the priest, who lives in a nearby village, and we let her out whilst we turned right to visit the church, which was unlocked and again of great beauty. We decided to visit the priest’s home, and again came upon his wife in the road, who took us there and introduced us to him. We were at once made welcome in the sunshine on his balcony, where Turkish coffee and home-made raki were promptly brought (and enjoyed).

This priest serves five churches, and said he has been priest here since 1992. (I assume in reality he was among the first intake at the seminary in Durrës in 1992, and returned to his home village as priest after ordination.) He was born in the house he now lives in.

Sadly I could get no spiritual conversation out of him. He told us that a pagan temple had been on the site of the church before Christianity came. I observed that men have always sought to find God and worship him. He replied that God is an invisible power. I answered that he is indeed, but that his character has been made visible in the life and character of his Son, Jesus Christ. His reply was no more than, “I hope so.” Should I see him as the blind leading the blind? Or feel sad that maybe here is a man seeking to do what needs to be done, but with no input from elsewhere to learn what it is and how to do it? I leave that to the Lord.

Back in the city of Gjirokastër, my hotelier, himself an Orthodox, phoned one of the priests in the city, and said I should like to see him. I found his manner of address on the phone to the priest charming, for it began, “O Papa!”

The priest is a delightful man. His attitude to us Evangelicals was expressed by reference to the words of our Lord, who said, “He that is not against us is for us” (Mark 9.40). This seemed to me a token of better relations than in other times or places. He seems to feel frustrated by the fact that he can only preach for seven minutes: after that, people start fidgeting, looking at their watches, and saying that they can’t sit here so long as they have other matters to attend to. There is, he said (as has one of our own missionaries on many occasions), a reduced interest in Albania in reading - not only religious, but all literature. This has implications for the growth in faith of the flock of Christ. He also said that some villages receive only one visit a year from a priest.

In another place I visited I was told that some members of the Orthodox Church see the priests as corrupt, enriching themselves by acquiring people’s money. I had previously heard a similar idea elsewhere. Whether it is justified, I cannot say. Privately some members are reading the scriptures in their homes, and are disgruntled about the priests.

In another city the Orthodox bishop is a convert from Islam. Under him, the Orthodox Church no longer lays a public curse on the Evangelical Church and its workers and helpers as it did under a previous bishop: another heartening sign of improved relations between us.

Such are some first-hand observations and impressions from contact with Orthodox a few days ago. I would be genuinely interested in your comments, corrections or confirmation of them.

But finally, here is a thought for you to mull over. Several posts on this forum accuse us Evangelicals of going to Orthodox countries and stealing your sheep. Personally (and I speak only for myself), if I saw an Orthodox priest, with his black robes and ‘chimney-pot hat’, standing under the village tree in one of these remote mountain villages, with a group of listeners around him, telling them of Christ in such a way as to enable to Holy Spirit to create repentance and faith in Jesus in their hearts, and then gathering them into an Orthodox church in the village, I would not wish to go now to the same village and start an Evangelical church. It is written that when Barnabas saw the grace of God, he was glad: and I think I would be too. There are perhaps 700,000 Orthodox in Albania - maybe ten times as many as there are Evangelicals. Don’t leave it to us to preach Christ to these distant villages where men and women live unreached and untaught, ‘having no hope and without God in the world’: send them your best men to point them to the way of eternal life through Christ, and I for one will wish you the blessing of God.
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2008, 11:54:19 AM »

At the conference I went to this year, I saw a power-point presentation of what's going on in Albania. The lady who gave it goes to "All Saints Orthodox Church" in Chicago . They do alot of work in Albania.

http://www.allsaintsorthodox.org/ministries/missions_albania.php


The problem that many Orthodox have about Evangelicals that send missionaries East, is that as soon as the Red wall collapsed, there was no time for the Orthodox to reach their own people. It is rude for hundreds of different western christian groups to go east just when the Orthodox were free from communist oppression.

You don't see Evangelicals in Saudi Arabia preaching, but you are all over Eastern Europe. Baptists are not the only ones going over there. Everyone is going over ther......from Mormons, Seventhday Adventists, Jehovia Witnesses, to Mennonites, Methodists, Assembly of God, Roman Catholics, and Prespyterians.....not to mention a hundred other groups.

I guess alliances can be made for the common good, but it is rude to be flooded by hundreds of different groups....all trying to grab people for themselves.





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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2008, 12:08:55 PM »

I think its key to remember how battered the Church has been in countries like Albania, and while the "gates of hell" haven't conquered; the people in these countries have been pushed to the limit, there lives often on the line for their beliefs- we in America largely have no frame of reference for it. I do think that sadly many Orthodox complaints have been justified by naive evangelicals (I do not count you as such- and there are naive people everywhere, just ask my good wife), who basically cannot understand the Orthodox way, and basically mis-interpret the Orthodox every chance they get; it seems to me that instead of preaching Christ many evangelicals are too busy getting offended at Icons and Tradition and thinking that these things (and the Orthodox Church by implication) are in the way of people getting saved. But then- we don't even bother to find out what "saved" means to an Orthodox believer. I think for us, too often, "saved" means simply getting to Heaven, and so, while we may have sermons longer than a 7 minute homily do we ever learn what it means to "participate in the Divine Essence"; do we even take any more than a fleeting glimpse of the mystery of the Incarnation? No, we're too busy beating John 3:16 to death.

In any case I love that you said you wouldn't need to plant the 1rst Baptist Church of a given Albanian Village if you saw Christ being preached by an Orthodox Priest- I agree.

Sorry- it was more of a tangent.
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2008, 12:21:08 PM »

I hope, too, that we have not given you a skewed view of how Orthodox see Evangelicals.  Many of us (myself included) on this forum are former American evangelicals and I think there is some difference between American and European evangelical groups.  I agree with ironsideroger that Americans don't always understand situations like Albania, Serbia, etc. so some have launched missions there without realizing there is already a native church presence.  A friend of mine went to Sarajevo in 2000 on a mission and was surprised to learn there were so many Christians already there. 

To speak for myself, I still struggle with animosity towards evangelical groups because my former church spent much more time on outward appearance and social ladder climbing than on spiritual growth.  Forgive me if I've said anything in the past to defame the evangelical movement as a whole. 

Unfortunately, I do feel there is a certain amount of standoffishness within Orthodoxy, intentional or otherwise.  Most Orthodox I know are very friendly and willing to share and discuss the faith but they're also very cautious about approaching others without invitation because they don't want to be seen as proselytizing or judgmental.  Perhaps we rely too heavily on the idea that Orthodoxy will naturally draw people to the truth.  I would like to see more Orthodox evangelism but it needs to start at home in our own parishes and then reach outward. 
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2008, 12:43:47 PM »

Alot of Evangelical people don't know (and I even didn't know until I saw that presentation) that even before Communism, they were under ISLAM for 500 years. Well, it's been some months when I saw that presentation so it may not be exactly 500 years, but they were under Islam for some centuries.

So when you take all this into account then you can understand some of the hostility. Most American evangelicals don't know anything about real persecution and suffering. The Albanian people understand suffering, and just as the Orthodox were trying to let the people of Albania know about Orthodoxy........they get flooded by hundreds of different western groups.

It's not right! But it is what it is, and you have to make the best of it.




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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2008, 01:26:34 PM »

Just one quick thought:

It's often best to judge a way by those truly following it.

There are many corrupt priests.  There are many ignorant priest.  There are also many corrupt, ignorant, or worldly protestant ministers.  That doesn't mean we come and try to convert the members of that poor protestant congregation.  If their people are dissatisfied, they may come to us, or they may go to another protestant group, but we don't go and try to poach them.

At my church sermons are 20 - 30 min on Sundays.  There are also 45 min - 1 hr sermons on Saturday nights, 1 hr per week sunday school lessons,  1 hr per week collage & graduates meetings, and a 1 hr / week adults meeting.  After these long talks there will usually be groups of people sitting with the priest continuing to ask questions for another hour.  In Orthodox churches you can find this things that the Protestants judge to be to important things in Christianity, and in other Orthodox churches you find them lacking... just like in various protestant groups.

On the other hand, at my church we also have the grace we receive from the Mysteries, the consistent teaching handed down from the fathers, a wealth of spiritual experience handed down from the desert fathers, and the a liturgical tradition that developed over a long period of time to offer the best possible spiritual nourishment to those who follow it.  You won't find this in any protestant group.  I don't expect you to buy this advantages, but...

Don't compare the best cast Protestant groups to the worst case Orthodox situations.  Compare the best to the best and draw conclusions based on that.  Try spending a month in a monastery in Egypt and then saying that the Holy Spirit is not active among the Orthodox, or that the Orthodox are not fed.  In the mean time, why not focus on the multitude of Protestant churches that are not fed anything spiritual rather than going after the Orthodox who have problems which you are less equipped to address?
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2008, 01:46:04 PM »

Thanks for your honest appraisal.

As a former Southern Baptist (USA) turned Eastern Orthodox, I definitely can relate to (and probably surpass you in terms of) the frustration felt when encountering Orthodox Christians, both lay and clergy, who possess such minimal education regarding their faith.  The same frustration arises concerning pastoral indifference and financial mismanagement.

I am aware -- having grown up in evangelical youth groups of many different doctrinal stripes -- that nominalism is alive and well in evangelicalism, as well.  A lot of evangelical youth think that if you wear the t-shirts, listen to the CDs, read the popular fiction and know the lingo put forth from the neighborhood Christian bookstore, you're in good shape.  Actual knowledge of Scripture, taking up of one's cross, and development of virtue is secondary.  Were we to have some sort of catastrophe in the West (God forbid) that sent us back 100 years or more technologically and educationally, I would predict massive attrition from many evangelical camps, since the seeker- and user-friendly baubles that hold a lot of the adherents in place would no longer be in place, and they wouldn't have any idea what it was that they were supposed to do as Christians.

I say this, not to excuse the Orthodox, but because this is, I think an explanation of what happens when Orthodoxy is no longer the state religion.  We get comfy, we come to church (when we want to, since we're free to do so or not), and when that liberty or privilege is no longer there, there's a vacuum.  Although it's not right, many people get attached to the externals of our rites and link them to some sort of cultural nostalgia, missing (or even ignoring) much of the theological meaning behind said externals.  It's for this reason that much-beloved saints like St. Kosmas of Aetolia sacrficially wandered to and fro throughout the Turkish-occupied lands educating as best he could and encouraging the faithful to hang onto their faith.  This was not easy work.

It sounds like the "I hope so" priest is similarly stressed, and is approaching burnout.  I know I'd be tempted to give in if I had to serve five churches.  We should pray that the Holy Spirit refreshes him and, more importantly, raises up other men to help!

Again, thank you for your charitable take on our faith in Albania; have you any experience with the beloved Archbishop Anastasios?
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« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2008, 10:08:08 AM »

Jonathan: at my church we also have the grace we receive from the Mysteries, the consistent teaching handed down from the fathers, a wealth of spiritual experience handed down from the desert fathers, and the a liturgical tradition that developed over a long period of time to offer the best possible spiritual nourishment to those who follow it.  You won't find this in any protestant group.
I think you are very nearly right in all this – sadly. We are indeed impoverished. As regards the Church Fathers, only Augustine seems to get a look-in, and then only because of his views on sin and grace. The Desert Fathers are unknown (I have not dipped into them myself). We have no liturgy in the usual sense of that word. I do believe we have “the grace we receive from the Mysteries”, for this reason: that (in my view) if a Catholic comes to mass, an Orthodox to the Eucharist, an Evangelical to the Lord’s Table, all with different views of “how it works” but all having in their hearts penitence over sin and faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord, they will all receive the same blessing from God. It is not our understanding of the “mechanism” of the ordinance or sacrament that makes it effective, but whether in our coming our heart is right before God: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

David Bryan: It sounds like the "I hope so" priest is similarly stressed, and is approaching burnout… We should pray that the Holy Spirit refreshes him…

I think so. His face looked stressed. He had a heart attack some time ago. He was a heavy drinker, now turned teetotal for medical reasons (though he served raki to us as his guests). We should indeed pray for such men.

David Bryan: have you any experience with the beloved Archbishop Anastasios?
Not personally. I have warmed to what little I have read of his writings, for he seemed a man truly centred on Christ.
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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2008, 09:09:48 PM »

I do believe we have “the grace we receive from the Mysteries”, for this reason: that (in my view) if a Catholic comes to mass, an Orthodox to the Eucharist, an Evangelical to the Lord’s Table, all with different views of “how it works” but all having in their hearts penitence over sin and faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord, they will all receive the same blessing from God. It is not our understanding of the “mechanism” of the ordinance or sacrament that makes it effective, but whether in our coming our heart is right before God: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

This sounds beautiful, but I would have to disagree a little...

One of my professors once said to me that when an Orthodox Christian comes to the Eucharist, we leave changed in one of two ways... we are either burned, or sanctified.  In this way, I would agree that what we "get out" of communion depends on what we "put in."  In other words, yes, it is imperative that we come with a broken and contrite heart, so that we are sanctified, and not burned by our Lord's body and blood.

But there is where I would stop agreeing.  While it is important that our heart be in the right place, to say that the effectiveness of the Eucharist is dependant on what WE do (we repent, we have faith, etc.), is to limit the power of the Eucharist, and the power of the Holy Spirit.  For us Orthodox, the sacraments are not just something that WE do to show commitment and faith in God or our repentance.  They are something that God does for us.  Holy Communion, for us, is medicine that we receive "for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body, and the pledge of the future life and kingdom."  Through it, God Himself works spiritually and physically within us, and we are literally united with Him.  It is an armor against evil...

You get the picture, I'm sure.  My point is that we would not limit the power and effectiveness of the Eucharist to what we the faithful are doing.  Rather, it is much more about what God does for us (after all, it is the Holy Spirit that does the consecrating, we don't...).

I want to comment on the OP, but I'll have to come back to it later.  Fr. Christos is waiting on me for dinner!!!

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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2008, 07:22:05 AM »

when an Orthodox Christian comes to the Eucharist, we leave changed in one of two ways... we are either burned, or sanctified. 

...to say that the effectiveness of the Eucharist is dependant on what WE do (we repent, we have faith, etc.), is to limit the power of the Eucharist, and the power of the Holy Spirit.  For us Orthodox, the sacraments are not just something that WE do to show commitment and faith in God or our repentance.  They are something that God does for us. 

Holy Communion is medicine that we receive "for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body, and the pledge of the future life and kingdom."  Through it, God Himself works spiritually and physically within us

Fr. Christos is waiting on me for dinner!!!

Concerning the first section of my quotation from your posting, I think this is illustrated very well indeed by that devout Tridentine Catholic J R R Tolkien in his "The Lord of the Rings". The effect of the holy or numinous in Lothlórien is such that no-one goes in and comes out unchanged.

Regarding the second, you are saying, better than I did, what I was trying to say when I wrote "we all receive the same blessing from God." It is God who blesses us. But here is an irony: I obviously came across unintentionally as seeming to hold some kind of idea that the blessing we receive at the Lord's Supper is dependent on our worthiness (or works, or merit), which you rightly refute. Isn't it ironic that many Evangelicals see Orthodoxy in precisely the same way - a system of gaining God's blessings by works and merit?

Concerning the third section, your Orthodox writings have quickened my appreciation of the Lord's words in John 6 that eating his flesh and drinking his blood (which I believe refers to the Lord's Supper as well as other ways of feeding our souls on Him, though I hold a spiritual rather than a literal (realist?) view of the sacrament) is linked with his promise, "And I will raise him up at the last day" - i.e. the bodily resurrection in glory. I have in fact already prepared a meditation on this very theme for the next time I lead and preside at a Communion service at our church.

Regarding the fourth section, seeing your pseudonym as Greek Chef, I wish I were at table beside him! Do you have the retsina to wash it down with? Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2008, 05:42:58 PM »

Jonathan: at my church we also have the grace we receive from the Mysteries, the consistent teaching handed down from the fathers, a wealth of spiritual experience handed down from the desert fathers, and the a liturgical tradition that developed over a long period of time to offer the best possible spiritual nourishment to those who follow it.  You won't find this in any protestant group.
I think you are very nearly right in all this – sadly. We are indeed impoverished.

I have to comment on how refreshing it is to have someone on here who is so willing to own up to the shortcomings of his own confession. 

I do believe we have “the grace we receive from the Mysteries”, for this reason: that (in my view) if a Catholic comes to mass, an Orthodox to the Eucharist, an Evangelical to the Lord’s Table, all with different views of “how it works” but all having in their hearts penitence over sin and faith in Christ as Redeemer and Lord, they will all receive the same blessing from God. It is not our understanding of the “mechanism” of the ordinance or sacrament that makes it effective, but whether in our coming our heart is right before God: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

As GreekChef mentioned, this is a "yes and no" issue for us.  My thoughts on your thoughts are the following: while we Orthodox would concur (as GreekChef showed) that we must prepare ourselves to commune "in a worthy manner" as St. Paul instructed, we recognize that the "blessing from God" comes at a specific place, through a specific means.  The bread and wine are themselves the κοινονια, or "particpation in," or "fellowshipping with" the Body and Blood of Christ Himself; Evangelical churches believe that the bread and the wine are devoid of any such participation in divine reality, do they not?  This would seem to separate their view from the view of St. Paul which saw the Eucharist as elements which themselves participate directly in Christ and, in so doing, were made capable and worthy instruments of communing the divine nature to the communicants.

Concerning the third section, your Orthodox writings have quickened my appreciation of the Lord's words in John 6 that eating his flesh and drinking his blood (which I believe refers to the Lord's Supper as well as other ways of feeding our souls on Him, though I hold a spiritual rather than a literal (realist?) view of the sacrament) is linked with his promise, "And I will raise him up at the last day" - i.e. the bodily resurrection in glory.

I emphasized certain words because I think it may help you if I clarify the Orthodox understanding of some of those boldfaced terms.  In many modern and post-modern mindsets, "spiritual" is synonymous with "immaterial" or even "mental," while "literal" is synonymous with "material" or "physical."  To us, however, the fact that Christ is mystically present in the Eucharist does not mean that 1) He is there in the exact same way as He was there on the Cross of Calvary, nor does it mean that 2) in light of 1), He is somehow "less there" than if He were there in the same way as He was on Calvary.

To put it another way, we see the Church as the Body of Christ, physically.  We see the Eucharist as the Body of Christ, mystically.  Meaning, we're not sure of the "mechanics," either.  We insist that He is there, otherwise we could not partake of Him through our action of communion; we would simply be eating bread and wine while thinking about Him instead of eating His flesh and drinking His blood...somehow.  This is a spiritual -- meaning sanctified and holy and by and according to the Spirit -- act, even though it is done with corporeal bread and wine and our corporeal bodies.  Spiritual does not mean intangible.

Likewise, to say that "literal" is the opposite of "spiritual" would be to suggest that the only "real" reality would be the tangible one -- which I know you don't ascribe to, being a believer -- and it would suggest that the only other option for believing in a "memorial meal" would be saying that it became His Body and Blood in exactly the same way as it was when He walked this earth.  Neither is what we believe.  He is present, through the means of and inseparable and indistinguishable from the elements which themselves become for us His Body and Blood (somehow), though microscopic investigation of this would not lead to seeing tissues and blood cells, anymore than investigating Christ's DNA would lead to God the Father's genetic code.  This is why we do not often call it a sacrament, but rather a mystery.
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2008, 09:21:44 PM »


Concerning the first section of my quotation from your posting, I think this is illustrated very well indeed by that devout Tridentine Catholic J R R Tolkien in his "The Lord of the Rings". The effect of the holy or numinous in Lothlórien is such that no-one goes in and comes out unchanged.

Can I just say how much I LOVE "The Lord of the Rings?!"  Smiley

Quote
Regarding the second, you are saying, better than I did, what I was trying to say when I wrote "we all receive the same blessing from God." It is God who blesses us. But here is an irony: I obviously came across unintentionally as seeming to hold some kind of idea that the blessing we receive at the Lord's Supper is dependent on our worthiness (or works, or merit), which you rightly refute. Isn't it ironic that many Evangelicals see Orthodoxy in precisely the same way - a system of gaining God's blessings by works and merit?

That is ironic indeed, as a proper study of Orthodox theology will clearly show that the opposite is in fact the case.  The very nature of our sacraments is dependant fully on the Holy Spirit and His work.  Without the Holy Spirit, we're just praying together in a big building.  And while personal prayer is wonderful and necessary, prayer as a group is wonderful and necessary, fellowship is wonderful and necessary, it's the work of the Holy Spirit and God's grace that make the Body and Blood of Christ present and that allow us to unite ourselves to Him.  Without that, as DavidBryan just said, we're just eating and remembering.  I'd like to go into more thought on this, but I think it will derail the thread to go into Eucharistic theology too much...

I would be interested in learning why such thought concerning Orthodoxy has come up among Evangelicals.  I read both the Fairbairn and Clendenin books on Orthodoxy, but to be honest, I don't remember their explanations very well, as it's been a few years ago.  There are misunderstandings and misrepresentations of every faith.  To judge a faith based on those is wrong indeed.   

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Concerning the third section, your Orthodox writings have quickened my appreciation of the Lord's words in John 6 that eating his flesh and drinking his blood (which I believe refers to the Lord's Supper as well as other ways of feeding our souls on Him, though I hold a spiritual rather than a literal (realist?) view of the sacrament) is linked with his promise, "And I will raise him up at the last day" - i.e. the bodily resurrection in glory. I have in fact already prepared a meditation on this very theme for the next time I lead and preside at a Communion service at our church.

I would enjoy hearing more of what you think on this.  I think it is clear that we disagree on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as I am an adherent of Orthodoxy, which has proclaimed Christ's presence in the Eucharist since the time of the apostles, and you have stated that you do not believe in the real presence.  That aside, I would really like to hear more about this thought.  I would like to hear your reasoning on the real presence as well at some point.  I am always interested to hear the opposite point of view, as mine always seems so obvious to me, and I struggle to understand why people don't believe. (I'm being sincere in that thought, by the way, not trying to provoke a controversial discussion or anything...)
 
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Regarding the fourth section, seeing your pseudonym as Greek Chef, I wish I were at table beside him! Do you have the retsina to wash it down with? Smiley
As a matter of fact, I do have a bottle in my cabinet just waiting to be opened (after the advent fast...)!  We would love to have you over for dinner!  Do you ever travel to the Atlanta area, by any chance?

Forgive me a sinner,
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2008, 10:07:37 PM »

An Outsider’s Impressions of Orthodoxy

I have found it hugely interesting and helpful, as a Baptist working on the home base of a missionary society which operates in Orthodox areas, to read your impressions of us in several threads on this forum. It is seldom we get the chance to see ourselves as we appear to others. So I offer the following in two hopes:

1) It may be of interest or even help to Orthodox to see how you appear to outsiders.
2) I may have formed wrong impressions by not understanding what I have seen in the right way. If so, I should very much like to be corrected, and shall look for your replies.

In November I went to the village of Zervat, southern Albania, as I wished to view the 10th century Byzantine church there. Sadly it was locked, but I very much enjoyed its old beauty from outside. Whilst two friends went off on a fruitless search for the key, I fell into conversation with an elderly man in the road, who is an adherent of that congregation. He spoke warmly and brightly of the need to have Christ as a daily reality in one’s life and heart, and is grieved over the poor relations between the denominations. Having spent much of his life in an atheist society, and now in a church which (in SW Albania at least) has a shortage of clergy, I felt that here was, perhaps, a brother in Christ, touched and made alive by the Holy Ghost but with little knowledge beyond an enthusiasm for Christ himself. I wondered how many Orthodox worshippers there are in this area, whose hearts are like kindling, ready to be ignited by the operation of the Word and the Spirit.

May I ask what gave you the impression that he had little knowledge of his faith?  Even if he lacks knowledge, I would say the fact that he has faith despite the situation is a wonderful miracle!  My opinion would be that, rather than changing the theology and system of worship that the man has grown up in by converting him, we should pray for his priest and for the Albanian church to be blessed with more priests!  Had I met this gentleman myself (of course, I'm Orthodox...), I would have encouraged him to educate himself and speak with the priest frequently.  

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Then we headed for another village with a 10th century church. It is reached by a long, stony track without a signpost, and we stopped to ask the way when we espied a man and woman. We gave them a lift, as they were going that way. The woman is the wife of the priest, who lives in a nearby village, and we let her out whilst we turned right to visit the church, which was unlocked and again of great beauty. We decided to visit the priest’s home, and again came upon his wife in the road, who took us there and introduced us to him. We were at once made welcome in the sunshine on his balcony, where Turkish coffee and home-made raki were promptly brought (and enjoyed).

This priest serves five churches, and said he has been priest here since 1992. (I assume in reality he was among the first intake at the seminary in Durrës in 1992, and returned to his home village as priest after ordination.) He was born in the house he now lives in.

Sadly I could get no spiritual conversation out of him. He told us that a pagan temple had been on the site of the church before Christianity came. I observed that men have always sought to find God and worship him. He replied that God is an invisible power. I answered that he is indeed, but that his character has been made visible in the life and character of his Son, Jesus Christ. His reply was no more than, “I hope so.” Should I see him as the blind leading the blind? Or feel sad that maybe here is a man seeking to do what needs to be done, but with no input from elsewhere to learn what it is and how to do it? I leave that to the Lord.

Honestly, from what you describe, my reaction is that this priest is probably burned out.  My husband serves only one parish (granted it's a huge one) and works extremely long hours.  I can only imagine what it must be like to serve five.  And to be frank (please don't take offense), he may have not been interested in talking theology to someone that he viewed as an outsider, whose motives he probably questioned.  Obviously I don't know, I'm only going by what you describe and by what my experiences have been-- I love to sit down and talk to people of other faiths (to learn more from them as well as to educate them).  But many, many priests and Orthodox do not feel the same way.

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Back in the city of Gjirokastër, my hotelier, himself an Orthodox, phoned one of the priests in the city, and said I should like to see him. I found his manner of address on the phone to the priest charming, for it began, “O Papa!”

The priest is a delightful man. His attitude to us Evangelicals was expressed by reference to the words of our Lord, who said, “He that is not against us is for us” (Mark 9.40). This seemed to me a token of better relations than in other times or places. He seems to feel frustrated by the fact that he can only preach for seven minutes: after that, people start fidgeting, looking at their watches, and saying that they can’t sit here so long as they have other matters to attend to. There is, he said (as has one of our own missionaries on many occasions), a reduced interest in Albania in reading - not only religious, but all literature. This has implications for the growth in faith of the flock of Christ. He also said that some villages receive only one visit a year from a priest.
May I ask why he can only preach for seven minutes?  Is it simply because of the people's lack of attention span?  And I would say that it's not suprising that the interest in reading has waned, considering the influence of communism in the region.

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In another place I visited I was told that some members of the Orthodox Church see the priests as corrupt, enriching themselves by acquiring people’s money. I had previously heard a similar idea elsewhere. Whether it is justified, I cannot say. Privately some members are reading the scriptures in their homes, and are disgruntled about the priests.
Sadly, I've heard this a lot.  There are, of course, some corrupt priests, just as there are corrupt preachers, ministers, etc.  If you've ever read the book "People of the Lie," by Dr. M. Scott Peck, he talks specifically about how evil people (he uses the term "evil," not me-- it's a wonderful book on the lack of a "psychology of evil" and an understanding of evil) often gravitate toward positions of religious power.  This is nothing new.  The sad part is that all too often, ALL priests are judged by the bad conduct of a few.  This is a battle my husband fights every day-- whether it's a congregant who is angry over a decision he has made and judges (and badmouthed) him, or a random person on the street who sees his cassock and judges him because of a few Catholic priest's indiscretions.  I have some stories I could tell about the looks and comments my husband gets because he is seen in public with a woman.  It frightens me sometimes to think what might happen when we have children and he goes out in public with them without me.

I guess my point here (which I'm sure I'm not making very well) is that this is an excuse.  People have many reasons for rejecting the Church.  Saying that the priests are the reason is, in my opinion, an excuse.  One's faith should not be dependant on perfect priests.  Instead of concentrating on the (albeit many) sins of any priest, they should be concentrating on their relationship with Christ.  Their opinion of any cleric should NEVER be a reason not to go to church.  I have encountered many priests I didn't like, and one whom I truly believe to be corrupt in the worst way.  Even faced with that one priest, I never ceased receiving the communion that he consecrated, as the sanctity of the Eucharist has NOTHING to do with the sinfullness (or sinlessness) of the priest.  Christ overcomes all.  This is what I always say when the people complain to me about the priests or bishops (which happens often, unfortunately).  This is what I would say to the people in Albania.  And the way I would END that conversation is by asking them, "have you prayed for the priests?"

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In another city the Orthodox bishop is a convert from Islam. Under him, the Orthodox Church no longer lays a public curse on the Evangelical Church and its workers and helpers as it did under a previous bishop: another heartening sign of improved relations between us.

Such are some first-hand observations and impressions from contact with Orthodox a few days ago. I would be genuinely interested in your comments, corrections or confirmation of them.

But finally, here is a thought for you to mull over. Several posts on this forum accuse us Evangelicals of going to Orthodox countries and stealing your sheep. Personally (and I speak only for myself), if I saw an Orthodox priest, with his black robes and ‘chimney-pot hat’, standing under the village tree in one of these remote mountain villages, with a group of listeners around him, telling them of Christ in such a way as to enable to Holy Spirit to create repentance and faith in Jesus in their hearts, and then gathering them into an Orthodox church in the village, I would not wish to go now to the same village and start an Evangelical church. It is written that when Barnabas saw the grace of God, he was glad: and I think I would be too. There are perhaps 700,000 Orthodox in Albania - maybe ten times as many as there are Evangelicals. Don’t leave it to us to preach Christ to these distant villages where men and women live unreached and untaught, ‘having no hope and without God in the world’: send them your best men to point them to the way of eternal life through Christ, and I for one will wish you the blessing of God.


I would have to echo the sentiments that have been expressed here.  The influence of communism in the region had terrible effects on the people and their faith.  It is truly unjust for people to take advantage of that weakness and come in and convert people.  

When you say we should not "leave it to you," to preach Christ, I would say that we are doing the best we can.  It sounds as though you think we are doing nothing, when in fact we have many active missionaries.  But as you said, there are 700,000 in Albania alone.  Nevermind Russia and all the other countries that were victimized by communism.  We have to reach those people as well.  And the situation is much more complicated than you or I understand.  Each one of those 700,000 is an individual who needs to be ministered to, educated, and loved.  And again, that's just Albania.  Each has his own reasons for leaving the church, rejecting the church, never returning to the church, returning without full understanding, etc.  Ministering to all those people is a monumental task and we are doing our best, as are the churches in those countries (we are not in the same jurisdictions as they are-- we are under different bishops and have different programs, etc. for addressing those issues).  I hope I'm being clear in what I'm trying to say.  I'm not saying this as an excuse.  I'll be the first to admit that we don't have enough priests in any country, and that we have much work to do, so much so that it often seems overwhelming and like we'll never accomplish it.  But that is where the Holy Spirit comes in.  He has never let us down yet, and He is in everything.  He won't let us fail.

The other thing I would have to say is that there is an element of judgement implied by the presence of missionaries, by the things they have said, and even in what you said (please don't take offense to that).  Just because you didn't see a priest under a tree with a group of people listening doesn't mean that they aren't there.  Just because you don't see it (and I mean this in the general sense, not just toward you in particular) doesn't mean that Christ is not active in the lives of the people.  It is one thing to evangelize to people who have never heard of Christ and never heard the good news of His death and resurrection.  It is quite another to judge that someone's (or some group's) understanding of the Gospel is not good enough by your standards and it is your God given duty to "fix" them and their faith.  Again, I'm speaking in the general sense when I say "you."

I hope I'm not offending with my words!
God bless,
Presbytera Mari
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2008, 11:57:50 PM »


The Baptists who are coming into Russia from the USA have a US Manual on how to convert the Orthodox. But.... it is so good as a mini instruction course on Orthodoxy that it has had the reverse effect and has brought Russian Baptist people into Orthodoxy.  Well, that is only anecdotal evidence; I don't know how many Baptists it has brought into Orthodoxy.

They list this manual on their Webpage for "Cults and Sects."  Us - a cult?  That hurts!!     Shocked
 
http://www.namb.net/atf/cf/%7BCDA250E8-8866-4236-9A0C-C646DE153446%7D/BB_E_Orthodox_Manual.pdf


"Witnessing to People of Eastern Orthodox Background:
Turning Barriers of Belief into Bridges to Personal Faith
"


It is a .pdf file of 1.10 MB so it will need a minute to download if you are on a slow connection.
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2008, 01:31:22 AM »


But finally, here is a thought for you to mull over. Several posts on this forum accuse us Evangelicals of going to Orthodox countries and stealing your sheep. Personally (and I speak only for myself), if I saw an Orthodox priest, with his black robes and ‘chimney-pot hat’, standing under the village tree in one of these remote mountain villages, with a group of listeners around him, telling them of Christ in such a way as to enable to Holy Spirit to create repentance and faith in Jesus in their hearts, and then gathering them into an Orthodox church in the village, I would not wish to go now to the same village and start an Evangelical church. It is written that when Barnabas saw the grace of God, he was glad: and I think I would be too. There are perhaps 700,000 Orthodox in Albania - maybe ten times as many as there are Evangelicals. Don’t leave it to us to preach Christ to these distant villages where men and women live unreached and untaught, ‘having no hope and without God in the world’: send them your best men to point them to the way of eternal life through Christ, and I for one will wish you the blessing of God.


Are there no places in Great Britain where "men and women live unreached and untaught, 'having no hope and without God in the world?'"

Is every man and woman in your own country fully alive in Christ?  Why do you feel the need to go all the way to an Orthodox country to convert people to Christ?  Are your own people that well off spiritually?

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« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2008, 10:03:55 AM »

GreekChef: Can I just say how much I LOVE "The Lord of the Rings?!"  Smiley

A pastor in Bradford asked me to come and give an evangelistic talk, not using the Bible but "The Lord of the Rings", thinking that people who have no interest in the Bible might come to hear about Tolkien, in the wake of the film being released. It was no hard task.

On another occasion I was invited to give a talk ("Please speak for an hour") about Tolkien, especially "The Lord of the Rings", to an austere gathering of Calvinistic ministers in the county of Kent in southern England. Now remember that Tolkien is not likely to be much in favour in such circles, seeing (a) he was a Catholic and (b) he has elves, and worse, wizards (witchcraft, sorcery - forbidden!). But a number went away afterwards saying, "I must read it."

Thing is, Tolkien points his readers towards Christ, not by having a Christ-figure in his tales (how could he, seeing they are set in an age before his Coming?), but by making one aware of a hunger, a lack, in one's life, a dimension not filled and satisfied. When we discover there is no real "Middle Earth" to slake our thirst, we should start to look for where the reality is which alone can satisfy the heart. And, by God's grace, we find it in Christ. "Ye are complete in him."

As another Catholic wrote:

Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts,
Thou fount of life, thou light of men!
From the best bliss that earth imparts
We turn unfilled to thee again...

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Where'er our changeful lot is cast,
Glad when thy gracious smile we see,
Blest when our faith can hold thee fast.


On other matters in your and other posts I must write later, for I have a series of meetings to speak at in South Wales and Wiltshire, and shall not be around for a while. There is much of interest in those posts.



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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2008, 04:46:26 PM »

Are there no places in Great Britain where "men and women live unreached and untaught, 'having no hope and without God in the world?'"

Is every man and woman in your own country fully alive in Christ?  Why do you feel the need to go all the way to an Orthodox country to convert people to Christ?  Are your own people that well off spiritually?
______________________

Consider that people might already be reached by the Gospel but reject it.  Can that be compared to those that are hungry for the Word in another land?  Does the Lord partition creation, or does mankind?

Might I suggest that you discern the difference between those that choose not to hear the Truth, and those that will hear it no other way than having missions reach them. 

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?

Have you heard of William Carey?  Give him a read .........

Shalom


Fixed quote tags  -PtA
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2008, 04:50:07 PM »


Are there no places in Great Britain where "men and women live unreached and untaught, 'having no hope and without God in the world?'"

Is every man and woman in your own country fully alive in Christ?  Why do you feel the need to go all the way to an Orthodox country to convert people to Christ?  Are your own people that well off spiritually?


I'm new here and fouled that last one up.....allow me to try again


______________________

Consider that people might already be reached by the Gospel but reject it.  Can that be compared to those that are hungry for the Word in another land?  Does the Lord partition creation, or does mankind?

Might I suggest that you discern the difference between those that choose not to hear the Truth, and those that will hear it no other way than having missions reach them. 

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?

Have you heard of William Carey?  Give him a read .........

Shalom

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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2008, 08:27:07 PM »

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?
Prelest.
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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2008, 04:25:27 AM »

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?
Prelest.

The prelest coming from going to Christian lands, or from going at all?
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« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2008, 05:07:31 AM »

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?
Prelest.

The prelest coming from going to Christian lands, or from going at all?
Neither.
The prelest which leads one to believe they do God's work when they do Satan's.
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« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2008, 10:33:33 AM »

Why do missionaries have to travel to distant Christian lands, leave their families, risk their security, learn another language just to minister for Christ and witness the need to worship the one true God?
Prelest.

The prelest coming from going to Christian lands, or from going at all?
Neither.
The prelest which leads one to believe they do God's work when they do Satan's.

St. Paul would have gotten a good laugh from that comment.  It might remind him of the Jews that sat in their temple and refused to hear about the Holy Spirit, accept the Great Commission, and how the Messiah had come in order bring men to the likeness of God.  Sadly the Jews would think that they were already fulfilling God's will by sitting in their buildings, feeling superior and merely being hypocrites.

Might I suggest browsing over:
Mark 16:15-16 and Matthew 28:19-20 for starters (from a book called "The Bible"), and discerning what Jesus Christ is saying to all of His disciples.

Please refer to Matthew 16:23, as well.
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« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2008, 11:59:16 AM »



Consider that people might already be reached by the Gospel but reject it.  Can that be compared to those that are hungry for the Word in another land?  Does the Lord partition creation, or does mankind?


I've been to Great Britain and barely anyone goes to church.  I'm not judging them, but if they've been "reached by the Gospel and reject[ed] it," perhaps then the Gospel hasn't been preached correctly to them.

I would advise David to go among his own people and try again.  It's ridiculous to think you can convert the people of another Church to Christ when you have so miserably failed with your own.  You want a Bible verse?  Try Matthew 7: 3-5.
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« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2008, 12:12:53 PM »



Consider that people might already be reached by the Gospel but reject it.  Can that be compared to those that are hungry for the Word in another land?  Does the Lord partition creation, or does mankind?


I've been to Great Britain and barely anyone goes to church.  I'm not judging them, but if they've been "reached by the Gospel and reject[ed] it," perhaps then the Gospel hasn't been preached correctly to them.

I would advise David to go among his own people and try again.  It's ridiculous to think you can convert the people of another Church to Christ when you have so miserably failed with your own.  You want a Bible verse?  Try Matthew 7: 3-5.

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« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2008, 01:00:48 PM »


I've been to Great Britain and barely anyone goes to church.  I'm not judging them, but if they've been "reached by the Gospel and reject[ed] it," perhaps then the Gospel hasn't been preached correctly to them.

I would advise David to go among his own people and try again.  It's ridiculous to think you can convert the people of another Church to Christ when you have so miserably failed with your own.  You want a Bible verse?  Try Matthew 7: 3-5.

David is imitating Christ in his missions.  You my brother, are instead parroting His words and living Matthew 7:3-5.
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« Reply #25 on: December 06, 2008, 01:15:21 PM »

St. Paul would have gotten a good laugh from that comment.  It might remind him of the Jews that sat in their temple and refused to hear about the Holy Spirit, accept the Great Commission, and how the Messiah had come in order bring men to the likeness of God.  Sadly the Jews would think that they were already fulfilling God's will by sitting in their buildings, feeling superior and merely being hypocrites.
I see. So you think Orthodox Christians are Jews.......
Yawn....

Might I suggest browsing over:
Suggest all you want.

(from a book called "The Bible")
Oooooooooohhhh, aren't we the facetious one?

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« Reply #26 on: December 06, 2008, 01:23:26 PM »

You my brother, are instead parroting His words and living Matthew 7:3-5.
And you have just called your sister your brother. I guess you're not the prophet you think you are.
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« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2008, 01:42:07 PM »

David is imitating Christ in his missions.

Abandoning your own sheep and going after the sheep of another is not imitating Christ. 

All Churches that went under Communism had a hard time.  This is true of everyone, from the Armenians and Ethiopians, to the Russians and Ukranians.  The Albanians, however, had it particularly hard.  From what I understand, the Church was not only restricted, it was completely banned.  The Communists there hunted down and killed or imprisoned just about every priest they could get their hands on. 

Today, the Orthodox Church in Albania is trying to get back on its feet after some of the most devastating persecution leveled against Christians in the twentieth century.  You wouldn't know that, however, from reading David's post above.  Reading David's post, one would think that the priests there are lazy, apathetic and don't really care about Christ.  The reality is, they have the horrendous task of rebuilding a Church that just barely survived an aggressive athiest state.  The churches there are not closed because of lack of interest.  They are closed because the priests who used to serve in them are now among the martyrs in heaven, robed in white and praying for all of us. 

After so many priests are killed, it is hard to rebuild the priesthood.  That is the situation the Armenians were in after the Genocide.  Having Protestants proselytize and convert people away doesn't help.  It spread division and has a damaging effect.  This is not the work of Christ.
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« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2008, 01:47:46 PM »


I see. So you think Orthodox Christians are Jews.......
Yawn....


No, but I know a sleepy one that would fit right into the Jewish temple mentality.
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« Reply #29 on: December 06, 2008, 01:49:11 PM »

No, but I know a sleepy one that would fit right into the Jewish temple mentality.

Not sleepy, just bored with listening to the same heretical tripe.
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« Reply #30 on: December 06, 2008, 01:50:51 PM »

This is not the work of Christ.

BINGO!
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« Reply #31 on: December 06, 2008, 02:09:22 PM »


Abandoning your own sheep and going after the sheep of another is not imitating Christ. 


Missions work is a calling.  It is also a separate, sodalistic outreach to witness Jesus Christ to unreached people.  Reached people, such as in UK have the resources, structures and congregations already in place to provide services and worship opportunities to the entire population.  

The Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim presence in Albania have joined together to try and keep Christian missions out of Albania.  This would result in an end to the education, training, feeding and other social assistance that missions provides all the people of that country with no matter of their religious affiliation.  This is not designed to replace the existing, indigenous Christian presence and in most cases works along with those churches when they are willing to cooperate.

Albania, being used as an example, has a seventy percent Islamic population that is being reached more successfully by disciples such as David than indigenous Christian resources, don't blame David (maybe The Holy Spirit?) for that.  There is no reason that the Orthodox church worldwide can't focus on missions projects that put experienced people in contact with unreached people, and even work along with already existing missions groups.  You don't need ordained priests to serve as servants of Christ to the people.  Subdeacons and trained laity can provide training and services in the name of the church and direct people to local churches for Chrismation and worship.

I recently attended services at an Albanian Orthodox church in the USA. When I asked is they were involved in missions, I was told by a group of the congregation that they don't like 'modern' Albanians because they are mostly thieves.  Sounds to me like there could be some in-house education going on for the Chrismated at the church and on this forum.
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« Reply #32 on: December 06, 2008, 02:14:12 PM »

No, but I know a sleepy one that would fit right into the Jewish temple mentality.

Not sleepy, just bored with listening to the same heretical tripe.

Yet you can't seem to stay away!

Perhaps the Spirit is calling you to missions support or work, my brother.  Christ is the true power behind the shifting of shaky paradigms.
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« Reply #33 on: December 06, 2008, 02:15:58 PM »

The Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim presence in Albania have joined together to try and keep Christian missions out of Albania.  
Um, the Catholic and Orthodox are Christian.
I want you to write that out a hundred times, then it might sink in.
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« Reply #34 on: December 06, 2008, 02:28:40 PM »

The Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim presence in Albania have joined together to try and keep Christian missions out of Albania.  
Um, the Catholic and Orthodox are Christian.
I want you to write that out a hundred times, then it might sink in.

Exactly my point........ thank you.

I knew we would agree that love and cooperation is the answer if we continued to discuss this problem that faces Christians of Orthodox, Catholic and all Christian missions workers.  All working together, and offering the gifts of the Spirit for the glory of the Lord and to bring the Word to the very ends of the earth.
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« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2008, 02:33:04 PM »

Yet you can't seem to stay away!
You amuse me.

Perhaps the Spirit is calling you to missions support or work, my brother. 
Firstly, we are brothers in the flesh only. You are not my spiritual brother. My brothers are those who belong to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ. You do not (yet). That's not your fault, you've just been fed a lot of lies which come from the father of lies. You know no better.

Christ is the true power behind the shifting of shaky paradigms.
Umm....OK....

Exactly my point........ thank you.
I knew we would agree that love and cooperation is the answer if we continued to discuss this problem that faces Christians of Orthodox, Catholic and all Christian missions workers.  All working together, and offering the gifts of the Spirit for the glory of the Lord and to bring the Word to the very ends of the earth.
Nope. I said the Orthodox and Catholics are Christians, I didn't say you were. Your "church" was invented in the 19th century. Mine was Established by Christ in AD33.
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« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2008, 02:36:43 PM »

Nope. I said the Orthodox and Catholics are Christians, I didn't say you were. Your "church" was invented in the 19th century. Mine was Established by Christ in AD33.


Fixed quote tags  -PtA
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« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2008, 02:38:13 PM »

Nope. I said the Orthodox and Catholics are Christians, I didn't say you were. Your "church" was invented in the 19th century. Mine was Established by Christ in AD33.
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« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2008, 02:39:14 PM »

^
There! Now try quoting again.
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« Reply #39 on: December 06, 2008, 02:55:10 PM »

Firstly, we are brothers in the flesh only. You are not my spiritual brother.

Sorry about that last post....my mouse is overly sensitive.

This is sad to hear, and is not true to Orthodox church teachings.  We are all brothers to the Creator.

Another minor point is that you have no idea what my church, ministry or denominational affiliation is.  This is a spiritual trap for people of pride that think their denomination or jurisdiction is somehow the only one bonafide.  It is also not a true representation of the Orthodox theology, or the great minds that minister in the Church.

The cry of heresy cuts both ways.  You might wish to see what Irenaeus has to say in Contra Haereses" about the doxa of our faith.

You are my brother.
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« Reply #40 on: December 06, 2008, 03:02:44 PM »

Firstly, we are brothers in the flesh only. You are not my spiritual brother.

This is sad to hear,
Yes, indeed.

and is not true to Orthodox church teachings.  
Yes it is. Only those who belong to the Body of Christ, who share the One Cup and the One Bread are our spiritual brothers. I think you need to study a bit about Orthodoxy before you make claims about it.

We are all brothers to the Creator.
Says who?

Another minor point is that you have no idea what my church, ministry or denominational affiliation is.  This is a spiritual trap for people of pride that think their denomination or jurisdiction is somehow the only one bonafide.  It is also not a true representation of the Orthodox theology, or the great minds that minister in the Church.
You obviously are unfamiliar with the Symbol of Faith, AKA, the Nicean-Constantinoplian Creed which is the basis of the Orthodox Christian Faith. There can only be One Church according to the Christian Faith.

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« Reply #41 on: December 06, 2008, 03:06:07 PM »

BTW, Orthodox Christianity is not a denomination. Nor is it a religion.
It is the only cure for the neurosis of "religion".
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« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2008, 03:32:35 PM »

BTW, Orthodox Christianity is not a denomination. Nor is it a religion.
It is the only cure for the neurosis of "religion".

You are actually diminishing the reach of the Church that your profess to promote.  I would suggest starting with a publication from St Vladmir's regarding Sacramental Economy before proclaiming who is a Christian when you set personal parameters (as a beginning).

Do you think Origen is Orthodox, or does he fall into the category of heretic and fall off the Old Church Calender?

St. Patrick, Columcille, Todri?

The words of Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Metropolitan Jonah welcome the Christian walk of all brothers to be Chrismated with them as part of their overall Orthodox experience.

Brother, you seem to turn "Welcome Home" to others into "Members Only".  Hardly missionary worthy.  If this same attitude is prevalent in the Balkans, no wonder disciples like David are collecting crowns.
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« Reply #43 on: December 06, 2008, 03:54:02 PM »

I would suggest starting with a publication from St Vladmir's
Why? I'm EP.

Do you think Origen is Orthodox, or does he fall into the category of heretic and fall off the Old Church Calender?
I'm New Calendar, but anyway, Origen held some heretical doctrines (kind of like you), but some of his writings are accepted.

St. Patrick, Columcille, Todri?
All Orthodox Saints.

The words of Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Metropolitan Jonah welcome the Christian walk of all brothers to be Chrismated with them as part of their overall Orthodox experience.
If you're going to try to argue that Chrisimation is somehow a recognition of the "validity" heterodox baptism, you can forget it. Any Orthodox Christian will tell you that Chrisimation makes an invalid baptism valid. It is an economia. Non-Orthodox Christian "baptism" is invalid for the Orthodox Church, which is why you have to be at least Chrisimated (by economia) or Baptized (by akrevia).


no wonder disciples like David are collecting crowns.
Yes, Satan is pretty active in sowing the weeds among the wheat isn't he? He's lucky to have such willing helpers.
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« Reply #44 on: December 06, 2008, 04:04:39 PM »

Hening,

Welcome to the forum!  Cheesy
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