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Author Topic: How much disclosure during Orthodox evangelism?  (Read 1311 times) Average Rating: 0
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Peleg
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« on: September 10, 2009, 05:04:04 PM »

I have noticed somewhat of a trend in some major pushes in Orthodox evangelism.  I wonder if we are overselling the Orthodox Church and setting some people up for disappointment once they convert.  Kinda like Protestants when they present the gospel by saying God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.  While there is truth in statements like this it is also very simplistic and deceptive in that the Christian life is one of struggle for all and for some it brings suffering and death.  With us it is attempting to show how Orthodoxy is not fragmented like Protestantism is yet, in America for sure, it is a mess!  We point to a lack of holiness and reverence on the part of many Protestants and yet anyone whose been Orthodox for any time will see we are just as guilty as they are.  We point to the advantages of our episcopacy and yet we too are rife w/ corruption at the very top.  It's like we are painting a picture of the Church as it should be not as it actually is. 

I'm asking these questions because I know of someone who was poorly catechised and when he began finding out more of the reality of the Church both past and present he left.  W/o doubt some of this ignorance was his own fault but we also bare some responsibility.  Where's the balance?  I see much of what I'm talking about coming from the evangelistic efforts of those who came into the Church from Fr. Peter Gillquist's group.  I too came into the church, in part, due to their efforts.  I attend one of those churches.  Should we not focus on Christ and bring them into the Church instead of focusing on the Church and how it is better than what they have?  Just thinking.  What are your thots??
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2009, 05:15:55 PM »

Grace and Peace,

One of the first things our Orthodox Parish Priest did when I told him I was considering converting was it point out all the ugliness within contempory Orthodoxy in America. It was an eye opener for me because I had a very 'idealized' view of the Church because of Forums like this and because our Orthodox Parish Priest was such a wonderful example of the fruit of Orthodoxy. I recognize that not every Orthodox is Saint Seraphim of Sarov but I understand that many do 'idealize' Orthodoxy as you appear to suggest. I think Roman Catholics do the same thing. So what is the difference? Perhaps it's in the reality that within Orthodoxy there exists the fullest 'means' to transcend our worldly weaknesses. Perhaps we don't all participate fully in that pursuit but the 'means' are not less present. Does that help in anyway coming from one who is converting?
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2009, 05:29:00 PM »

Someone said that there should be a canon that a seeker should be required to go to a parish council meeting before being accepted as a catechumen.

Obviously the Church is better than what they, as she is the Body of Christ, warts and all.
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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2009, 05:37:05 PM »

Grace and Peace,

One of the first things our Orthodox Parish Priest did when I told him I was considering converting was it point out all the ugliness within contempory Orthodoxy in America. It was an eye opener for me because I had a very 'idealized' view of the Church because of Forums like this and because our Orthodox Parish Priest was such a wonderful example of the fruit of Orthodoxy. I recognize that not every Orthodox is Saint Seraphim of Sarov but I understand that many do 'idealize' Orthodoxy as you appear to suggest. I think Roman Catholics do the same thing. So what is the difference? Perhaps it's in the reality that within Orthodoxy there exists the fullest 'means' to transcend our worldly weaknesses. Perhaps we don't all participate fully in that pursuit but the 'means' are not less present. Does that help in anyway coming from one who is converting?

First, praise God you're coming over!  Actually, the way you just stated things is a wonderful way of putting it.  The means to the pursuit of God and the Christian life are here like no where else.  That's a great way of putting it and it's true.  Thanks.

I too availed myself to the darker side of Orthodoxy before my conversion so I have not been as shocked as some have been at its failures.  Also, I too have a great priest and healthy church.  I and my family are very blessed.
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2009, 09:21:23 AM »

When I became Orthodox, I expected the Church to be wonderful, but I certainly didn't expect everyone in it to be perfect. I expected them to be just like me, sinners in desperate need of the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I haven't been disapointed in either! Wink

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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2009, 10:45:01 AM »

One of the first things our Orthodox Parish Priest did when I told him I was considering converting was it point out all the ugliness within contempory Orthodoxy in America. It was an eye opener for me because I had a very 'idealized' view of the Church because of Forums like this

Wow. I'm not being confrontational, but we air dirty laundry here every day, and those threads tend to be among the most commented upon here. Do you read selectively, or only certain forums here?

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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2009, 11:26:20 AM »

When I became Orthodox, I expected the Church to be wonderful, but I certainly didn't expect everyone in it to be perfect. I expected them to be just like me, sinners in desperate need of the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I haven't been disapointed in either! Wink



I guess what Peleg might also be bringing up is if Orthodoxy is truly therapeutic that there should be evidence of that 'grace' amongst it's Laity, Priests and Religious.
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2009, 11:27:44 AM »

One of the first things our Orthodox Parish Priest did when I told him I was considering converting was it point out all the ugliness within contempory Orthodoxy in America. It was an eye opener for me because I had a very 'idealized' view of the Church because of Forums like this

Wow. I'm not being confrontational, but we air dirty laundry here every day, and those threads tend to be among the most commented upon here. Do you read selectively, or only certain forums here?



Oh no, I've read some rather tough stuff on this forum. I wasn't trying to suggest that such things are avoided here or anything.
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2009, 11:52:14 AM »

I too, think that we should be honest with catechumens.  I teach the catechumen class at our parish, and when I discuss certain issues (like the issue of jurisdictions, or language, or pews, or organs/choirs, or women in the church, or headcoverings/dress, etc.), I am quite upfront with them about the fact that these are areas where the Church needs improvement, where individual parishes (even when it's a lot of individual parishes, or most individual parishes) need to make some changes.  I tell them gently but clearly what I believe, what the Church teaches (with the assistance of the priests, catechism materials, etc., of course), and what is actually happening in the parishes.  Sometimes they are, indeed, disappointed, confused, and even upset.

But I make a very clear distinction, which I think is important for all of us to remember... while the Church is perfect, the people who run it and the people who are members of it are NOT.  And there is always growing to be done in our journey to theosis, both as individuals and as a body worshipping together.  And I try to offer them the opportunity to be part of the solution, by suggesting that they talk to the priests, write to or talk to the Bishops (if they feel very strongly and want to), write articles (like the famous "12 things I wish I knew" by Fredrica Matthewes-Green), etc.  And of course, I tell them to seek guidance in grappling with these issues from a spiritual father, and pray about them.  I find this is the best way to approach it.  Honesty and love, admitting our downfalls and trying to improve upon them, being part of the solution rather than allowing the problem to continue.
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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2009, 12:28:23 PM »

When I became Orthodox, I expected the Church to be wonderful, but I certainly didn't expect everyone in it to be perfect. I expected them to be just like me, sinners in desperate need of the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I haven't been disapointed in either! Wink



I guess what Peleg might also be bringing up is if Orthodoxy is truly therapeutic that there should be evidence of that 'grace' amongst it's Laity, Priests and Religious.

Well, there is, of course. I've seen it. And in some mighty unexpected places. But since I don't know the truth of every human heart, and AFAIK we're all just struggling sinners, I don't expect perfection.
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2009, 01:36:12 PM »

I don't know for sure, but I feel as though before and even during my catechumenate I have looked for any and every reason not to convert, simply because this is causing some big problems in my marriage and family life in general.  No one around me, friends, family or whoever really understand what I am doing.  Leading up to Orthodoxy I have spent years studying world religions and such, and I do not consider myself an expert by any means, but ultimately I know that I want the Truth and not what is easy.

I think a lot of people are looking for religion to solve all of their problems, and they are disappointed and give up when it does not.  Orthodoxy seems to be creating more problems in my life in some ways, although I would certainly say it has been a blessing above all else.  Anyway, I have even read many of the books people post on here as give the real picture of Orthodoxy, such as When Angels Fall and A Concise History of Greece.  From years of historical/critical study of early Christianity, I am more than familiar with all of the arguments against the imperial Church. 

I feel like I've been dragged through the mud and dirt of all of human history.  I feel as though I've stretched myself so thin through endless paradigm shifts that it is hard for me to have my own perspective anymore without it being contradicted internally by a thousand squabbling voices.  The tempest of possibilities crashing against the walls of my mind give me no peace, and I am constantly full of doubt and sorrow.  Some days it's a struggle simply to want to go on existing.

But in all of this screaming chaos before me, I find refuge when I hear the words of Christ alone.  I find Truth when I read the Holy Gospels.  I find calm from the storm when I enter the nave of the church; when I board ark of salvation.  The liturgy synchronizes me with the eternal and leads me into the heavenly courts.  When I pray the Church's prayers in the evening before I go to bed, I am at times filled with peace instead of panic.

So before I have even entered the Church, I feel as though I've looked for everything else, and have even sought all the ways in which I might doubt and leave the Church.  But I cannot escape Christ, no matter how hard I try.  He is the only true life, love and peace I have known.  When I cut myself off from Him all I feel is more death and more hopelessness.  I decided that I could be miserable for the rest of my life running away from God, or I could take up my cross and begin to fight the passions rather than cowering before them.

I don't know how any of this relates to the thread, so forgive me and moderators feel free to delete the post if it is irrelevant.  I kind of went off on a tangent and started venting.  Peace to all of you!
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« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2009, 02:24:09 PM »

I moved this topic to the Religous Topics Forum. It is an excellent topic however it is dealing with what we should tell or disclose to Catechumen rather than being an issue the inquior,catechumen, or new convert would have that needs addressing in the Convert Issues Forum. Please continue this great topic  here in the Religous topics.
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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2009, 02:31:56 PM »

I don't know for sure, but I feel as though before and even during my catechumenate I have looked for any and every reason not to convert, simply because this is causing some big problems in my marriage and family life in general.  No one around me, friends, family or whoever really understand what I am doing. 

...I think a lot of people are looking for religion to solve all of their problems, and they are disappointed and give up when it does not.  Orthodoxy seems to be creating more problems in my life in some ways, although I would certainly say it has been a blessing above all else. 

...But in all of this screaming chaos before me, I find refuge when I hear the words of Christ alone.  I find Truth when I read the Holy Gospels.  I find calm from the storm when I enter the nave of the church; when I board ark of salvation.  The liturgy synchronizes me with the eternal and leads me into the heavenly courts. 

...So before I have even entered the Church, I feel as though I've looked for everything else, and have even sought all the ways in which I might doubt and leave the Church.  But I cannot escape Christ, no matter how hard I try.  He is the only true life, love and peace I have known.  When I cut myself off from Him all I feel is more death and more hopelessness.  I decided that I could be miserable for the rest of my life running away from God, or I could take up my cross and begin to fight the passions rather than cowering before them.


This so resonates with me and my own personal experience/struggles/journey that I just wanted you to know you're not alone!
Beautifully said, btw.
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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2009, 02:39:43 PM »

I don't know for sure, but I feel as though before and even during my catechumenate I have looked for any and every reason not to convert, simply because this is causing some big problems in my marriage and family life in general.  No one around me, friends, family or whoever really understand what I am doing.  Leading up to Orthodoxy I have spent years studying world religions and such, and I do not consider myself an expert by any means, but ultimately I know that I want the Truth and not what is easy.

I think a lot of people are looking for religion to solve all of their problems, and they are disappointed and give up when it does not.  Orthodoxy seems to be creating more problems in my life in some ways, although I would certainly say it has been a blessing above all else.  Anyway, I have even read many of the books people post on here as give the real picture of Orthodoxy, such as When Angels Fall and A Concise History of Greece.  From years of historical/critical study of early Christianity, I am more than familiar with all of the arguments against the imperial Church. 

I feel like I've been dragged through the mud and dirt of all of human history.  I feel as though I've stretched myself so thin through endless paradigm shifts that it is hard for me to have my own perspective anymore without it being contradicted internally by a thousand squabbling voices.  The tempest of possibilities crashing against the walls of my mind give me no peace, and I am constantly full of doubt and sorrow.  Some days it's a struggle simply to want to go on existing.

But in all of this screaming chaos before me, I find refuge when I hear the words of Christ alone.  I find Truth when I read the Holy Gospels.  I find calm from the storm when I enter the nave of the church; when I board ark of salvation.  The liturgy synchronizes me with the eternal and leads me into the heavenly courts.  When I pray the Church's prayers in the evening before I go to bed, I am at times filled with peace instead of panic.

So before I have even entered the Church, I feel as though I've looked for everything else, and have even sought all the ways in which I might doubt and leave the Church.  But I cannot escape Christ, no matter how hard I try.  He is the only true life, love and peace I have known.  When I cut myself off from Him all I feel is more death and more hopelessness.  I decided that I could be miserable for the rest of my life running away from God, or I could take up my cross and begin to fight the passions rather than cowering before them.

I don't know how any of this relates to the thread, so forgive me and moderators feel free to delete the post if it is irrelevant.  I kind of went off on a tangent and started venting.  Peace to all of you!

I agree with Katherine; this is a really good tangent to go on.

I think being tested in faith is good. I'm sorry you're having a tough time of it, but this way at least you really   know you are meant to be Orthodox. For me, it's the other way round and it would be convenient if only I could convert, but it's not in me. So, I wish you best of luck with the remaining problems.

God bless,

Liz.
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« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2009, 05:14:37 PM »

I don't know for sure, but I feel as though before and even during my catechumenate I have looked for any and every reason not to convert, simply because this is causing some big problems in my marriage and family life in general.  No one around me, friends, family or whoever really understand what I am doing.  Leading up to Orthodoxy I have spent years studying world religions and such, and I do not consider myself an expert by any means, but ultimately I know that I want the Truth and not what is easy.

I think a lot of people are looking for religion to solve all of their problems, and they are disappointed and give up when it does not.  Orthodoxy seems to be creating more problems in my life in some ways, although I would certainly say it has been a blessing above all else.  Anyway, I have even read many of the books people post on here as give the real picture of Orthodoxy, such as When Angels Fall and A Concise History of Greece.  From years of historical/critical study of early Christianity, I am more than familiar with all of the arguments against the imperial Church. 

I feel like I've been dragged through the mud and dirt of all of human history.  I feel as though I've stretched myself so thin through endless paradigm shifts that it is hard for me to have my own perspective anymore without it being contradicted internally by a thousand squabbling voices.  The tempest of possibilities crashing against the walls of my mind give me no peace, and I am constantly full of doubt and sorrow.  Some days it's a struggle simply to want to go on existing.

But in all of this screaming chaos before me, I find refuge when I hear the words of Christ alone.  I find Truth when I read the Holy Gospels.  I find calm from the storm when I enter the nave of the church; when I board ark of salvation.  The liturgy synchronizes me with the eternal and leads me into the heavenly courts.  When I pray the Church's prayers in the evening before I go to bed, I am at times filled with peace instead of panic.

So before I have even entered the Church, I feel as though I've looked for everything else, and have even sought all the ways in which I might doubt and leave the Church.  But I cannot escape Christ, no matter how hard I try.  He is the only true life, love and peace I have known.  When I cut myself off from Him all I feel is more death and more hopelessness.  I decided that I could be miserable for the rest of my life running away from God, or I could take up my cross and begin to fight the passions rather than cowering before them.

I don't know how any of this relates to the thread, so forgive me and moderators feel free to delete the post if it is irrelevant.  I kind of went off on a tangent and started venting.  Peace to all of you!

Wow, that has been very similar to my own experience.  I come from the background of being a hard core Protestant for 30 years.  During the 2+ years I spent checking out the Church I got all kinds of coincidental assurances that I was headed in the right direction.  I would show up to catechumin classes racked w/ doubt only to experience incredible peace of being home w/in a very short time of being there.  But...once my family and I came full time to the church and were received in things reversed.  Now these same kinds of coincidences seem to be trying to separate us from the Church.  The timing of these things seem to be telling me I had made a terrible mistake and God was trying to get my attention.  For a month there recently I got very frustrated and angry at God and fell into what Prots like to call backsliding.  I've come back now but the difficulties continue.  I'm hanging in there though.
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« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2009, 09:58:08 AM »

I don't know for sure, but I feel as though before and even during my catechumenate I have looked for any and every reason not to convert, simply because this is causing some big problems in my marriage and family life in general.  No one around me, friends, family or whoever really understand what I am doing.  Leading up to Orthodoxy I have spent years studying world religions and such, and I do not consider myself an expert by any means, but ultimately I know that I want the Truth and not what is easy.

I think a lot of people are looking for religion to solve all of their problems, and they are disappointed and give up when it does not.  Orthodoxy seems to be creating more problems in my life in some ways, although I would certainly say it has been a blessing above all else.  Anyway, I have even read many of the books people post on here as give the real picture of Orthodoxy, such as When Angels Fall and A Concise History of Greece.  From years of historical/critical study of early Christianity, I am more than familiar with all of the arguments against the imperial Church. 

I feel like I've been dragged through the mud and dirt of all of human history.  I feel as though I've stretched myself so thin through endless paradigm shifts that it is hard for me to have my own perspective anymore without it being contradicted internally by a thousand squabbling voices.  The tempest of possibilities crashing against the walls of my mind give me no peace, and I am constantly full of doubt and sorrow.  Some days it's a struggle simply to want to go on existing.

But in all of this screaming chaos before me, I find refuge when I hear the words of Christ alone.  I find Truth when I read the Holy Gospels.  I find calm from the storm when I enter the nave of the church; when I board ark of salvation.  The liturgy synchronizes me with the eternal and leads me into the heavenly courts.  When I pray the Church's prayers in the evening before I go to bed, I am at times filled with peace instead of panic.

So before I have even entered the Church, I feel as though I've looked for everything else, and have even sought all the ways in which I might doubt and leave the Church.  But I cannot escape Christ, no matter how hard I try.  He is the only true life, love and peace I have known.  When I cut myself off from Him all I feel is more death and more hopelessness.  I decided that I could be miserable for the rest of my life running away from God, or I could take up my cross and begin to fight the passions rather than cowering before them.

I don't know how any of this relates to the thread, so forgive me and moderators feel free to delete the post if it is irrelevant.  I kind of went off on a tangent and started venting.  Peace to all of you!

Wow, that has been very similar to my own experience.  I come from the background of being a hard core Protestant for 30 years.  During the 2+ years I spent checking out the Church I got all kinds of coincidental assurances that I was headed in the right direction.  I would show up to catechumin classes racked w/ doubt only to experience incredible peace of being home w/in a very short time of being there.  But...once my family and I came full time to the church and were received in things reversed.  Now these same kinds of coincidences seem to be trying to separate us from the Church.  The timing of these things seem to be telling me I had made a terrible mistake and God was trying to get my attention.  For a month there recently I got very frustrated and angry at God and fell into what Prots like to call backsliding.  I've come back now but the difficulties continue.  I'm hanging in there though.

One of my favorite priests in the world said something to me just last week that I think applies here.  The evil one attacks us the most when we are coming down from a spiritual "high."  When we are at our most secure spiritually, feeling good about the decisions we make in our relationship with Christ, when we have just received the sacraments, etc... This is when the evil one attacks us the hardest and tries his best to separate us from Christ.  He throws every doubt, every temptation, everything but the kitchen sink at us. 

Stay strong, friend.  By God's grace you'll make it through.
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2009, 01:15:19 AM »

I have noticed somewhat of a trend in some major pushes in Orthodox evangelism.  I wonder if we are overselling the Orthodox Church and setting some people up for disappointment once they convert.  Kinda like Protestants when they present the gospel by saying God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.  While there is truth in statements like this it is also very simplistic and deceptive in that the Christian life is one of struggle for all and for some it brings suffering and death.  With us it is attempting to show how Orthodoxy is not fragmented like Protestantism is yet, in America for sure, it is a mess!  We point to a lack of holiness and reverence on the part of many Protestants and yet anyone whose been Orthodox for any time will see we are just as guilty as they are.  We point to the advantages of our episcopacy and yet we too are rife w/ corruption at the very top.  It's like we are painting a picture of the Church as it should be not as it actually is. 

I'm asking these questions because I know of someone who was poorly catechised and when he began finding out more of the reality of the Church both past and present he left.  W/o doubt some of this ignorance was his own fault but we also bare some responsibility.  Where's the balance?  I see much of what I'm talking about coming from the evangelistic efforts of those who came into the Church from Fr. Peter Gillquist's group.  I too came into the church, in part, due to their efforts.  I attend one of those churches.  Should we not focus on Christ and bring them into the Church instead of focusing on the Church and how it is better than what they have?  Just thinking.  What are your thots??

I understand what you are talking about, and this is why I am honest about what it takes to make it as an Orthodox Christian. It takes the ability to persevere through suffering.....both inwardly as well as outwardly. If you are not able to persevere through negative statements, short comings of clergy, and laity then you may not last.

A convert needs to know that the Church isn't perfect, and that the people in it aren't always nice and loving. But, but if they are able to have thick skin, and if they are able to persevere through both internal as well as external suffering, then they will be able to survive.

I am an advocate of more missions, for converts will thrive easily in a mission environment.

You don't have to worry about some of the country club church politics........you can easily side step all of that through a church mission.











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