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Author Topic: Prayers and Advice for Dealing with My Fundamentalist Brother-In-Law  (Read 6013 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: October 02, 2009, 03:20:11 AM »

                    Besime Ab, WeWolde, WeMenfes Qidus, Ahadu Amlak       
      In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God,
                                                       -Amen-


I really need your prayers and advice. My Brother-In-Law and his beautiful family have recently moved here to Mississippi. He is a Fundamentalist Baptist Evangelical pastor just out of seminary, and he has started a church here. He promotes a "faith alone" doctrine, and believes that the King James version is the only authoritative version of the Bible.

We have exchanged a few emails in which we discussed the doctrine of "faith alone." I tried to lovingly and thoroughly explain the Orthodox understanding of "salvation," using many biblical texts and notes from the OSB. But instead of addressing the points I made, he just kept repeating "faith alone." He also kept mistaking Orthodoxy for Catholicism, and refused to acknowledge his error when I pointed out that I am NOT Catholic and do not agree with Catholic theology. He also questions my relationship with Christ, since I do not subscribe to the erroneous doctrine of "faith alone."

I have prayed for God to allow us to have a healthy relationship in spite of our theological differences, especially since his children and my children love each other and get along so well. But I know that my Brother-In-Law has his fundamentalist agenda and that he is trying to "convert" my family. He is a nice fellow and is raising terrific children, but he has his head buried in the sand when it comes to true Christian theology and Orthodox doctrine. 

In my emails to him I always emphasize that I view him as my Christian brother, and that I think we can both learn from one another. But he has never reciprocated those sentiments, which makes me sad. He is intent on trying to get us to come to his church, but I will never allow my children to be subjected to the false doctrines of fundamentalist evangelical Protestantism.

My wife was baptized into the EOTC with my children and me, but she has never tried to really understand Orthodoxy. I do not want to say too much about this publicly, because I don't want to criticize her. She is wonderful wife and a wonderful mother, and she loves Christ. But because she grew up in the evangelical South, Orthodoxy is completely different to her. Now her brother (my Brother-In-Law) is trying to lure her away from Orthodoxy and into his fundamentalist church. I feel like satan is trying to get to our children by causing problems in our marriage. I am really frustrated, because I have always hated to see religion be a source of conflict when it should be a source of peace. But I know that I must stand firm for Orthodox truth, and that I must fight to preserve Orthodox unity within my family.

My wife has always said that she will never get in the way of how our children and I choose to worship. But she says that all she needs is Jesus, not rituals. Our situation is even more difficult because we live 7 hours away from our Church in Atlanta. I continue to pray for God to make it possible for us to move closer to our Church, but right now it just isn't possible for us to do so.

But now I feel like dark forces are threatening to undermine our family, and I'm not sure how to deal with it. I had hoped that my Brother-In-Law and I could cultivate a respectful relationship and treat each other as fellow Christians. But he doesn't seem to desire anything but getting my family "saved," and baptized into his church. My children were sad when I told them that we couldn't go to his church, but they understood the reasons. And yet, the simplicity and innocence of children is so beautiful. They just want to be in an environment where they can learn about God and be with their cousins. So I think, "What's wrong with that? Am I allowing the differences between my Brother-In-Law and myself to interfere in the happiness of my children?"

My Brother-In-Law and his family also now live just a few blocks away from us. I was truly excited when they first moved here, until I discerned his agenda. So I decided that my children will only go visit them when I am present, because I don't want his family trying to subvert them with false doctrines. If my Brother-In-Law was more humble and open to mutual edification and learning, then I would not have these fears. But unfortunately, he has demonstrated a dangerous combination of ignorance and arrogance that makes it difficult for me to trust and respect him.

My wife is a grown woman, and I do not and cannot control what she does. But I want so badly for us to be as one in our Faith, and to present a healthy Orthodox Christian marriage in the eyes of our children. Our children love their EOTC Church. They observe the fasts and faithfully say their prayers. They always ask, "Papa, when are going back to Atlanta to the Church?" It is beautiful to see! But I know that it is so important for them to see their mother and father in agreement and accord in matters of the Faith. And this is why I'm so concerned.

I am sad, worried, frustrated, and in dire need of some wise and loving advice. As you probably know from many of my posts, I am not one to easily compromise just to get along. I stand strongly for what I believe is right, and this often causes me much heartache and pain. I have emailed my Priest about the situation, and I hope to hear from him soon.

Please give me your advice, and especially your prayers. If you perceive that I am being overly paranoid, hypocritical, or hyper-sensitive, please let me know. I only ask that you be gentle in your repsonses. I am really hurting and need strength and encouragement from my wise OO Christian brethren. I have probably already shared too much personal info; but if we can't turn to our Orthodox Christian brethren, then who? Of course I do turn to Christ Our Lord in good times and bad, and I know that He is ultimately in control.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond to this. I really need you all right now. Please pray for my Brother-In-Law and his precious family as well.

"Lord have mercy."

Selam
« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 03:24:10 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2009, 05:28:41 AM »

Lord, have mercy!

Grace and peace to you and your family!  I don't know if you're being overly paranoid or not, as I don't know the situation.  I understand your not wanting to let your children go to his church, I wouldn't let mine (if I had any) go either.  I would not bring up your differences with him and if he brings them up, I would try to just explain what you believe, and why you believe it without being defensive or seeming like you're trying to convert him.  If he really is being aggressive, I would talk to him about it in honesty and sincerely ask him to stop trying to convert my family.  I wouldn't take an angry attitude but rather one of pleding.  I think ultimately you will win him over by your life of piety and your love for our Lord.

I think you've done the right thing by talking to your priest and I'm sure he'll be able to advice you much better than I can.  I would also talk to your wife about this and explain that you see this as being a threat to the unity of your family and potentially causing confusion in your children.  From your brief description of her, I think she would understand. 

May the strength of the Lord be with you!  Through the prayers of the Theotokos may the Lord have mercy upon you and save you!

        Beneath your compassion,
        We take refuge, O Mother of God:
        do not despise our petitions in time of trouble:
        but rescue us from dangers,
        only pure, only blessed one.



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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2009, 07:48:08 AM »

Lord, have mercy!

Grace and peace to you and your family!  I don't know if you're being overly paranoid or not, as I don't know the situation.  I understand your not wanting to let your children go to his church, I wouldn't let mine (if I had any) go either.  I would not bring up your differences with him and if he brings them up, I would try to just explain what you believe, and why you believe it without being defensive or seeming like you're trying to convert him.  If he really is being aggressive, I would talk to him about it in honesty and sincerely ask him to stop trying to convert my family.  I wouldn't take an angry attitude but rather one of pleding.  I think ultimately you will win him over by your life of piety and your love for our Lord.

I think you've done the right thing by talking to your priest and I'm sure he'll be able to advice you much better than I can.  I would also talk to your wife about this and explain that you see this as being a threat to the unity of your family and potentially causing confusion in your children.  From your brief description of her, I think she would understand. 

May the strength of the Lord be with you!  Through the prayers of the Theotokos may the Lord have mercy upon you and save you!

        Beneath your compassion,
        We take refuge, O Mother of God:
        do not despise our petitions in time of trouble:
        but rescue us from dangers,
        only pure, only blessed one.





Thank you so much for that excellent and wise advice. I truly appreciate it, and I totally agree with it. Thank you for your prayers.

Selam
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« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2009, 11:43:35 AM »

Lord have Mercy.
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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2009, 12:07:00 PM »

Lord have mercy! It sounds like you are in a very difficult situation. I wonder if there isn't an Orthodox parish much closer to you? Maybe that would be easier than driving such a distance to the other one. I don't know much about where you live etc., but I'm certain there must be closer churches. You reallly need active support from real, live Orthodox people, I think.
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« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2009, 12:13:14 PM »

What seminary did he go to? I assume he went to a conservative one, if so, then give him a few years to cool down. It may take that long for "some" of his convictions to mellow out some what. It will take time for him to be more practical and not so idealogical outside of seminary.

Also, I would question him on what "interpretation" of faith alone? You see, back when I was Baptist, there was a fued between Mcauthor, and Zane Hodges(I think)  in regards to the issue of "Faith alone". Mcauthor's camp was called "Lordship salvation", whereas the Hodge camp was called "easy believism".

I would also look at the slight difference between the Lutherians and the Reformed in regards to the doctrine of "sola fide". If you challenge him on this point then it may cause him to be more open to what you have to say about the issue.

There is also a difference in interpretation in the area of sola scriptura as well. There is the restorationist version and the Magisterial protestant version.



Prayer always works too!


In regards to your family, you can always visit a Chalcedonian parish in your area or the nearest Coptic or Armenian parish. At my parish, we use to have a few Indian Orthodox families attend there, as well as a few Ethiopians every now and then.

If your Parish is too far, that can always be an option. I know that the Antiochians are very hospitable towards nonchalcedonians.......very hospitable.

Most of the Ethiopian Orthodox parishes I know of are in the Washington D.C. metro area. So look for an Antiochian or OCA mission near your area.......because they are growing in the south.








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« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2009, 01:34:17 PM »

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Always be sure to invite him to your Church.. keep telling him how much he will get out of it. Recommend the Jesus Prayer to him often...etc. Keep inviting him.

And when he is provocative and pushes various doctrines on you, just say you don't know anything about it, it's not what the Church teaches and then invite him to Church again.

This is easier said than done, I know. But arguing is their turf. Setting a pious example is ours. 
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« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2009, 02:15:24 PM »

He promotes a "faith alone" doctrine, and believes that the King James version is the only authoritative version of the Bible.

James 2:24 (KJV) "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

There are other verses that counter the "faith alone" doctrine, but this one is concise and difficult to counter because the language is so plain. 

May God have mercy on you and your brother-in-law and your families.
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« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2009, 02:27:59 PM »

Definitely we'll be praying. Wow. That's the darker side of things, it seems. I too well remember my days of sola-protestanta; it's not easily left behind, much less even questioned. Even in my stop-and-start journey towards Orthodoxy I come across people who simply cannot fathom any existance outside of their "biblical" constraints. I'm glad to hear you've contacted your priest, I'm also glad to hear you're being protective of your family; it's a sad move, but what else can you do? There's a very precise language that your in-law wants to hear, and until he does, unless God touces him in some way (which we pray He does) he'll probably always assume that you and your family are "unsaved". Hopefully you can reach an arrangement where he can respect the bounds of your family- they are not his flock, they are yours. Lord have mercy- and Lord have mercy on me for the times when I would have been doing the same thing as your brother-in-law.

If he is so concerned for the eternal destiny of your family, then he should direct that zeal that he seems to abound in towards prayer. Also, remember that to him, most likely, "salvation" means fire insurance only. He's not seeing the overall entirety of biblical and Orthodox salvation- he probably thinks that you believe your works are somehow gaining your entry into heaven.  My heart truly aches for you, I'll be praying.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 02:29:03 PM by ironsiderodger » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2009, 02:31:32 PM »

                    Besime Ab, WeWolde, WeMenfes Qidus, Ahadu Amlak       
      In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God,
                                                       -Amen-


I really need your prayers and advice. My Brother-In-Law and his beautiful family have recently moved here to Mississippi. He is a Fundamentalist Baptist Evangelical pastor just out of seminary, and he has started a church here. He promotes a "faith alone" doctrine, and believes that the King James version is the only authoritative version of the Bible.

We have exchanged a few emails in which we discussed the doctrine of "faith alone." I tried to lovingly and thoroughly explain the Orthodox understanding of "salvation," using many biblical texts and notes from the OSB. But instead of addressing the points I made, he just kept repeating "faith alone."

Well then, he's sola scriptura, no?  Then show him the only place where it says "faith alone":
James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Of course, I had to go to the RSV: it "faith alone" doesn't appear at all in the KJV.


Quote
He also kept mistaking Orthodoxy for Catholicism, and refused to acknowledge his error when I pointed out that I am NOT Catholic

Acutally, you are REAL Catholic.


Quote
and do not agree with Catholic theology. He also questions my relationship with Christ,

Ask him if Jesus has "appeared" to him like Joseph Smith.  If not, ask him on what basis does he claim he has a relationship with Jesus.


Quote
since I do not subscribe to the erroneous doctrine of "faith alone."

I have prayed for God to allow us to have a healthy relationship in spite of our theological differences, especially since his children and my children love each other and get along so well. But I know that my Brother-In-Law has his fundamentalist agenda and that he is trying to "convert" my family.

Knives are sharpened on hard rocks.


Quote
He is a nice fellow and is raising terrific children, but he has his head buried in the sand when it comes to true Christian theology and Orthodox doctrine. 

In my emails to him I always emphasize that I view him as my Christian brother, and that I think we can both learn from one another. But he has never reciprocated those sentiments, which makes me sad. He is intent on trying to get us to come to his church, but I will never allow my children to be subjected to the false doctrines of fundamentalist evangelical Protestantism.

Wise descision.  If he asks why, tell him you worship only in a manner based on a continuous, unbroken practice going back to the Apostles.  Unless Jesus revealed Temple ceremonies to him a la Joe Smith, he has to explain where he got his "service" from.

Quote
My wife was baptized into the EOTC with my children and me, but she has never tried to really understand Orthodoxy. I do not want to say too much about this publicly, because I don't want to criticize her. She is wonderful wife and a wonderful mother, and she loves Christ. But because she grew up in the evangelical South, Orthodoxy is completely different to her. Now her brother (my Brother-In-Law) is trying to lure her away from Orthodoxy and into his fundamentalist church.

Satan doesn't like being spit on (I assume the Ethiopians do that too): of course he is using your brother in law.

Quote
I feel like satan is trying to get to our children by causing problems in our marriage. I am really frustrated, because I have always hated to see religion be a source of conflict when it should be a source of peace. But I know that I must stand firm for Orthodox truth, and that I must fight to preserve Orthodox unity within my family.

Indeed.

Quote
My wife has always said that she will never get in the way of how our children and I choose to worship. But she says that all she needs is Jesus, not rituals.

Ask her to explain exactly what she means by "all she needs is Jesus."  In particular in how that conflicts with "ritual."  Point out that all those with Jesus in Heaven (according to Revelation) certainly have (as portrayed in the book of Revelation) ritual.


Quote
Our situation is even more difficult because we live 7 hours away from our Church in Atlanta. I continue to pray for God to make it possible for us to move closer to our Church, but right now it just isn't possible for us to do so.

Do you have prayer services, like the hours?

Look here:
http://orthodoxyinamerica.org/

Is there another Orthodox Church of a different jurisdiction closer? (Unfortunately, I don't know of a similar site for the Armenians, Copts and Syrians, but you might try their websites, here's a start
http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/296424/On_Line_Directories_of_Eastern
).  Is/are there families from your Church who live close(r) to you, with which you can gather together, to reinforce the Faith inbetween trips to Atlanta?  You're in central Mississipppi?  There are OCA, Antiochian and Greek Churches there, for example:
http://www.holyres.net/

Phyletism sometimes can be put to good use: point out to your chidren that they belong to the Church which had its beginning in Acts 8, a Local Church which predates the Church in England, Germany, Scandinavia.  Tell them they belong to the real Baptist Church, and show them where Acts 8:36-8.

Quote
But now I feel like dark forces are threatening to undermine our family, and I'm not sure how to deal with it. I had hoped that my Brother-In-Law and I could cultivate a respectful relationship and treat each other as fellow Christians. But he doesn't seem to desire anything but getting my family "saved," and baptized into his church. My children were sad when I told them that we couldn't go to his church, but they understood the reasons. And yet, the simplicity and innocence of children is so beautiful. They just want to be in an environment where they can learn about God and be with their cousins. So I think, "What's wrong with that? Am I allowing the differences between my Brother-In-Law and myself to interfere in the happiness of my children?"

Not in the circumstances described. Going to a Vacation Bible School is one thing, but you outline a program to pry your family from the Church.

Quote
My Brother-In-Law and his family also now live just a few blocks away from us. I was truly excited when they first moved here, until I discerned his agenda. So I decided that my children will only go visit them when I am present, because I don't want his family trying to subvert them with false doctrines. If my Brother-In-Law was more humble and open to mutual edification and learning, then I would not have these fears. But unfortunately, he has demonstrated a dangerous combination of ignorance and arrogance that makes it difficult for me to trust and respect him.

I think you have assessed the situation and taken appropriate action.

Quote
My wife is a grown woman, and I do not and cannot control what she does. But I want so badly for us to be as one in our Faith, and to present a healthy Orthodox Christian marriage in the eyes of our children. Our children love their EOTC Church. They observe the fasts and faithfully say their prayers. They always ask, "Papa, when are going back to Atlanta to the Church?" It is beautiful to see! But I know that it is so important for them to see their mother and father in agreement and accord in matters of the Faith. And this is why I'm so concerned.

As you should be.

Quote
I am sad, worried, frustrated, and in dire need of some wise and loving advice. As you probably know from many of my posts, I am not one to easily compromise just to get along. I stand strongly for what I believe is right, and this often causes me much heartache and pain. I have emailed my Priest about the situation, and I hope to hear from him soon.

Please give me your advice, and especially your prayers. If you perceive that I am being overly paranoid, hypocritical, or hyper-sensitive, please let me know. I only ask that you be gentle in your repsonses. I am really hurting and need strength and encouragement from my wise OO Christian brethren. I have probably already shared too much personal info; but if we can't turn to our Orthodox Christian brethren, then who? Of course I do turn to Christ Our Lord in good times and bad, and I know that He is ultimately in control.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond to this. I really need you all right now. Please pray for my Brother-In-Law and his precious family as well.

"Lord have mercy."

Selam
Lord have mercy and preserve you all.
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« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2009, 03:44:32 PM »

Lord have mercy.
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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2009, 04:32:53 PM »

Tell your BIL that he needs to read James 1:22-27.  We're studying this book in our Wednesday study session after Vespers, and we just finished Chapter 1.  It clearly mentions deeds in conjunction with faith.

You are right to be concerned about his influence.  Make sure your children understand that they are already baptized and that they may not commune at his church if somehow they are taken to his church.  I'm sorry your wife won't tell him to stop interfering (is he her brother or her sister's husband?), but something tells me this wouldn't deter him.
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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2009, 05:49:36 PM »

Tell your BIL that he needs to read James 1:22-27.  We're studying this book in our Wednesday study session after Vespers, and we just finished Chapter 1.  It clearly mentions deeds in conjunction with faith.

You are right to be concerned about his influence.  Make sure your children understand that they are already baptized and that they may not commune at his church if somehow they are taken to his church.  I'm sorry your wife won't tell him to stop interfering (is he her brother or her sister's husband?), but something tells me this wouldn't deter him.


Fortunately, I doubt communion would be a problem: Baptists do that infrequently.

I would challenge him to list 10 fatal flaws in Orthodoxy, and 10 proofs of Baptist thought.  That way you can get some focus.

Did you get a chance to show him what using the King James Version entails?:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,8666.msg340392.html#msg340392
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2009, 08:46:14 PM »

Gebre,

Lord, have mercy on you in this difficult situation.

I believe it might be an idea to set some boundaries with your BIL. Arguing with him is pointless and, more importantly, it could put extra strain on your marriage; if your wife finds dealing with familial loyalty a difficult issue. Not that I'm suggesting that she does; just that there is a possibility that you could risk putting her in a position of making her choose between her brother and you. We always expect our spouses to side with us; sometimes that doesn't turn out quite as we hoped; so I see no need in risking this becoming an issue that could divide your family.

I would, as pleasantly as possible, veto all conversations about religion; perferring to set an example of brotherly harmony. I'm not suggesting compromise, but gentle determination to avoid any possibility of unnecessary aggression. 

I agree with Rosehip. If you can find an Orthodox Church closer and visit more regularly, you are taking empty Sunday's out of the equation; and having your wife and children experience the nourishment of the Liturgy and the Eucharist; and to receive the support of other Orthodox believers.

Quite honestly, Gebre, I suggest that you don't imagine that you can "win the day" with this situation by clever and persuasive argument; no matter how passively you structure your responses.

Pray hard about this; and then pray some more. 

God be with you.



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« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2009, 12:08:54 AM »

THANK YOU ALL for your wise and in depth responses. Everything that has been said thus far makes perfect sense, and has been very helpful. In reading the above responses, I really feel the power of Christian love and the power of your prayers.

Father Chris's Greek Orthodox Church is here in our city, so I think I will try to begin taking my family there on Sundays. I think the Liturgy is in English, which might make it easier for my wife to understand what's going on. I know that there are a few Ethiopians here that go to the Greek Orthodox Church. This seems like the appropriate thing to do for now.

Everyone's posts mean so much to me, and your words of wisdom have helped calm my troubled spirit. Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I know that Our Lord will honor you for doing so. I hope that I can somehow be of help to some of you in the future. Don't hesitate to ask.

I will try to respond below to your individual posts.

Thank you again.


Selam

« Last Edit: October 03, 2009, 12:10:20 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

"There are two great tragedies: one is to live a life ruled by the passions, and the other is to live a passionless life."
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« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2009, 12:13:36 AM »

Lord have mercy! It sounds like you are in a very difficult situation. I wonder if there isn't an Orthodox parish much closer to you? Maybe that would be easier than driving such a distance to the other one. I don't know much about where you live etc., but I'm certain there must be closer churches. You reallly need active support from real, live Orthodox people, I think.

Thank you Rosehip!

I agree with you. I hope to begin taking my family to the Greek Orthodox Church near us very soon. As informative and edifying as this discussion board is, you are correct in saying that nothing can replace real face to face Christian fellowship and communion.

Selam
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« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2009, 01:21:52 AM »

What seminary did he go to? I assume he went to a conservative one, if so, then give him a few years to cool down. It may take that long for "some" of his convictions to mellow out some what. It will take time for him to be more practical and not so idealogical outside of seminary.

Also, I would question him on what "interpretation" of faith alone? You see, back when I was Baptist, there was a fued between Mcauthor, and Zane Hodges(I think)  in regards to the issue of "Faith alone". Mcauthor's camp was called "Lordship salvation", whereas the Hodge camp was called "easy believism".

I would also look at the slight difference between the Lutherians and the Reformed in regards to the doctrine of "sola fide". If you challenge him on this point then it may cause him to be more open to what you have to say about the issue.

There is also a difference in interpretation in the area of sola scriptura as well. There is the restorationist version and the Magisterial protestant version.



Prayer always works too!


In regards to your family, you can always visit a Chalcedonian parish in your area or the nearest Coptic or Armenian parish. At my parish, we use to have a few Indian Orthodox families attend there, as well as a few Ethiopians every now and then.

If your Parish is too far, that can always be an option. I know that the Antiochians are very hospitable towards nonchalcedonians.......very hospitable.

Most of the Ethiopian Orthodox parishes I know of are in the Washington D.C. metro area. So look for an Antiochian or OCA mission near your area.......because they are growing in the south.



ICXC NIKA


Thank you jnorm888!

I think the "lordship salvation" vs. "easy believism" debate was between MacArthur and Charles Ryrie. I remember siding with Ryrie, as I used to be a "faith alone" adherent. But I also remember thinking that the debate was silly and semantical, because both guys really believed the same thing. My Calvinist philosophy professor was very defensive of MacArthur's position though, and he said that Ryrie was dead wrong. So in my youthful arrogance I asked my professor, " Well if the issue is salvation and only one of them is right, then I guess the other one is going to hell. Right?" Of course my professor was not about to say that Ryrie was going to hell. Anyway, that's how arrogant I used to be. (I still have a long way to go. Embarrassed)

I think my Brother-IN-Law actually went to a Bible College and not a seminary. It was somewhere out in California, but I forget the name. It wasn't MacArthur's school. The actual name of his denomination is "Fundamentalist Baptist," so you can just imagine...

Our email exchanges began with him sending me info and invitations to his church, which was not a problem at all. He asked if he could put me on his email list, and I said fine. But a couple of weeks ago I sent an email to about 10 people with the link to an excellent lecture by Kallistos Ware on the meaning of salvation. I also included the link to a wonderful 3 minute Orthodox video called "Are You Saved?" (The links are below.) Since he is constantly talking about people "getting saved," I thought he would be interested in these videos. I suspect he did not watch the Kallistos Ware lecture, because his questions were thoroughly answered in it. He replied to my email by asking how we get to heaven if not by "faith alone." I reponded by quoting James and may other Scriptures, as well as some notes from the OSB which explain the doctrine of deification and the concept of synergy. But he ignored every Bible verse and explanation I gave him. He is an intelligent guy, but not very well versed in theology.

I suspect that theological discussions with him will not be productive. Challenging his theology will only make him more defensive it seems. But on the other hand, I am not afraid to fight fire with fire. I will gladly refrain from religious discussions with him if he will agree to do so, but I can't allow him to aggressively "evangelize" my family while I keep silent about Orthodox Truth.

But you are right, prayer always works!

Thanks again my friend.

Selam

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1088949815257678826&ei=74-hSt2IE4KmrAKaybT5BA&q=kallistos+ware&hl=en#

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAlCze3ZFjA&feature=player_embedded 
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« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2009, 01:31:25 AM »

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Always be sure to invite him to your Church.. keep telling him how much he will get out of it. Recommend the Jesus Prayer to him often...etc. Keep inviting him.

And when he is provocative and pushes various doctrines on you, just say you don't know anything about it, it's not what the Church teaches and then invite him to Church again.

This is easier said than done, I know. But arguing is their turf. Setting a pious example is ours. 

Thank you Marc!

I agree with your advice 100%. I have frequently invited his family to come visit us at our home. They did so a few times. But lately my sons have invited his sons to spend the night on Fridays and watch football with us on Saturday. But they have yet to do so. My Brother-In-Law may have the same fears about me that I have about him. He may not be comfortable with his family being around us without him present. But I would never try to "convert" his children.

I agree that the best defense is a good offense, and that a righteous example is the most profound argument for the authenticity of our faith.

Thanks my friend.

Selam
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« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2009, 01:31:33 AM »

THANK YOU ALL for your wise and in depth responses. Everything that has been said thus far makes perfect sense, and has been very helpful. In reading the above responses, I really feel the power of Christian love and the power of your prayers.

Father Chris's Greek Orthodox Church is here in our city, so I think I will try to begin taking my family there on Sundays. I think the Liturgy is in English, which might make it easier for my wife to understand what's going on. I know that there are a few Ethiopians here that go to the Greek Orthodox Church. This seems like the appropriate thing to do for now.

Everyone's posts mean so much to me, and your words of wisdom have helped calm my troubled spirit. Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I know that Our Lord will honor you for doing so. I hope that I can somehow be of help to some of you in the future. Don't hesitate to ask.

I will try to respond below to your individual posts.

Thank you again.


Selam



going to the Greek Church will have the added benefit that when your BIL braggs about his "Bible believing" KJV church, you can point out that you go to the Church in the original.
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« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2009, 01:36:01 AM »

He promotes a "faith alone" doctrine, and believes that the King James version is the only authoritative version of the Bible.

James 2:24 (KJV) "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

There are other verses that counter the "faith alone" doctrine, but this one is concise and difficult to counter because the language is so plain. 

May God have mercy on you and your brother-in-law and your families.

Thank you!

I have definitely shown him this verse and many others. But he just ignores them. Kind of strange for a Sola Scriptura guy.

Thanks for your prayers.

Selam
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« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2009, 01:38:00 AM »

going to the Greek Church will have the added benefit that when your BIL braggs about his "Bible believing" KJV church, you can point out that you go to the Church in the original.

Doubt that will help at all.  That style of fundamentalism will just view it as "Constantine's Church".
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« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2009, 01:39:14 AM »

going to the Greek Church will have the added benefit that when your BIL braggs about his "Bible believing" KJV church, you can point out that you go to the Church in the original.

Doubt that will help at all.  That style of fundamentalism will just view it as "Constantine's Church".

the kind that claims that if English is good enough for my Savior...
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« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2009, 01:48:42 AM »

Definitely we'll be praying. Wow. That's the darker side of things, it seems. I too well remember my days of sola-protestanta; it's not easily left behind, much less even questioned. Even in my stop-and-start journey towards Orthodoxy I come across people who simply cannot fathom any existance outside of their "biblical" constraints. I'm glad to hear you've contacted your priest, I'm also glad to hear you're being protective of your family; it's a sad move, but what else can you do? There's a very precise language that your in-law wants to hear, and until he does, unless God touces him in some way (which we pray He does) he'll probably always assume that you and your family are "unsaved". Hopefully you can reach an arrangement where he can respect the bounds of your family- they are not his flock, they are yours. Lord have mercy- and Lord have mercy on me for the times when I would have been doing the same thing as your brother-in-law.

If he is so concerned for the eternal destiny of your family, then he should direct that zeal that he seems to abound in towards prayer. Also, remember that to him, most likely, "salvation" means fire insurance only. He's not seeing the overall entirety of biblical and Orthodox salvation- he probably thinks that you believe your works are somehow gaining your entry into heaven.  My heart truly aches for you, I'll be praying.

Thank you so much my friend!

Sounds like you and I have a lot in common as far as our Protestant background. I used to think a lot like my Brother-In-Law, although I was never a KJV only fundamentalist type. I also would like to think I was more open to biblical reasoning than he is, and yet I could always wiggle around any verses that contradicted my "faith alone" Calvinist doctrine. So if I were a Hindu, I'd say that this is Karma! But I know better than that.

When I was in Bible College, a buddy and I went home for the weekend and my younger sister (who was 18 at the time) and about 5 of her friends from college were also there. They were going to a concert that night (I think maybe R.E.M.), and they had the fridge stocked with beer to enjoy when they got home. Well, my buddy and I decided that it was our Christian duty to throw out all the beer while they were gone, since none of them were of legal drinking age. To make it even worse, it was Sunday and they couldn't buy any more beer because it isn't sold on Sundays in Atlanta. Needless to say, my buddy and I did not win any "converts" with our self righteous and stupid actions. My sisters college friends probably still hate me to this day, and I don't blame them!

Anyway, I guess this should make me a little more tolerant of my Brother-In-Law. It wouldn't bother me a bit if it weren't for the concern I have for my own family. And yet I trust in the power of our baptism, and I know that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church.

Selam  
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« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2009, 02:12:08 AM »

                    Besime Ab, WeWolde, WeMenfes Qidus, Ahadu Amlak       
      In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God,
                                                       -Amen-


I really need your prayers and advice. My Brother-In-Law and his beautiful family have recently moved here to Mississippi. He is a Fundamentalist Baptist Evangelical pastor just out of seminary, and he has started a church here. He promotes a "faith alone" doctrine, and believes that the King James version is the only authoritative version of the Bible.

We have exchanged a few emails in which we discussed the doctrine of "faith alone." I tried to lovingly and thoroughly explain the Orthodox understanding of "salvation," using many biblical texts and notes from the OSB. But instead of addressing the points I made, he just kept repeating "faith alone."

Well then, he's sola scriptura, no?  Then show him the only place where it says "faith alone":
James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Of course, I had to go to the RSV: it "faith alone" doesn't appear at all in the KJV.


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He also kept mistaking Orthodoxy for Catholicism, and refused to acknowledge his error when I pointed out that I am NOT Catholic

Acutally, you are REAL Catholic.


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and do not agree with Catholic theology. He also questions my relationship with Christ,

Ask him if Jesus has "appeared" to him like Joseph Smith.  If not, ask him on what basis does he claim he has a relationship with Jesus.


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since I do not subscribe to the erroneous doctrine of "faith alone."

I have prayed for God to allow us to have a healthy relationship in spite of our theological differences, especially since his children and my children love each other and get along so well. But I know that my Brother-In-Law has his fundamentalist agenda and that he is trying to "convert" my family.

Knives are sharpened on hard rocks.


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He is a nice fellow and is raising terrific children, but he has his head buried in the sand when it comes to true Christian theology and Orthodox doctrine. 

In my emails to him I always emphasize that I view him as my Christian brother, and that I think we can both learn from one another. But he has never reciprocated those sentiments, which makes me sad. He is intent on trying to get us to come to his church, but I will never allow my children to be subjected to the false doctrines of fundamentalist evangelical Protestantism.

Wise descision.  If he asks why, tell him you worship only in a manner based on a continuous, unbroken practice going back to the Apostles.  Unless Jesus revealed Temple ceremonies to him a la Joe Smith, he has to explain where he got his "service" from.

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My wife was baptized into the EOTC with my children and me, but she has never tried to really understand Orthodoxy. I do not want to say too much about this publicly, because I don't want to criticize her. She is wonderful wife and a wonderful mother, and she loves Christ. But because she grew up in the evangelical South, Orthodoxy is completely different to her. Now her brother (my Brother-In-Law) is trying to lure her away from Orthodoxy and into his fundamentalist church.

Satan doesn't like being spit on (I assume the Ethiopians do that too): of course he is using your brother in law.

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I feel like satan is trying to get to our children by causing problems in our marriage. I am really frustrated, because I have always hated to see religion be a source of conflict when it should be a source of peace. But I know that I must stand firm for Orthodox truth, and that I must fight to preserve Orthodox unity within my family.

Indeed.

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My wife has always said that she will never get in the way of how our children and I choose to worship. But she says that all she needs is Jesus, not rituals.

Ask her to explain exactly what she means by "all she needs is Jesus."  In particular in how that conflicts with "ritual."  Point out that all those with Jesus in Heaven (according to Revelation) certainly have (as portrayed in the book of Revelation) ritual.


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Our situation is even more difficult because we live 7 hours away from our Church in Atlanta. I continue to pray for God to make it possible for us to move closer to our Church, but right now it just isn't possible for us to do so.

Do you have prayer services, like the hours?

Look here:
http://orthodoxyinamerica.org/

Is there another Orthodox Church of a different jurisdiction closer? (Unfortunately, I don't know of a similar site for the Armenians, Copts and Syrians, but you might try their websites, here's a start
http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/296424/On_Line_Directories_of_Eastern
).  Is/are there families from your Church who live close(r) to you, with which you can gather together, to reinforce the Faith inbetween trips to Atlanta?  You're in central Mississipppi?  There are OCA, Antiochian and Greek Churches there, for example:
http://www.holyres.net/

Phyletism sometimes can be put to good use: point out to your chidren that they belong to the Church which had its beginning in Acts 8, a Local Church which predates the Church in England, Germany, Scandinavia.  Tell them they belong to the real Baptist Church, and show them where Acts 8:36-8.

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But now I feel like dark forces are threatening to undermine our family, and I'm not sure how to deal with it. I had hoped that my Brother-In-Law and I could cultivate a respectful relationship and treat each other as fellow Christians. But he doesn't seem to desire anything but getting my family "saved," and baptized into his church. My children were sad when I told them that we couldn't go to his church, but they understood the reasons. And yet, the simplicity and innocence of children is so beautiful. They just want to be in an environment where they can learn about God and be with their cousins. So I think, "What's wrong with that? Am I allowing the differences between my Brother-In-Law and myself to interfere in the happiness of my children?"

Not in the circumstances described. Going to a Vacation Bible School is one thing, but you outline a program to pry your family from the Church.

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My Brother-In-Law and his family also now live just a few blocks away from us. I was truly excited when they first moved here, until I discerned his agenda. So I decided that my children will only go visit them when I am present, because I don't want his family trying to subvert them with false doctrines. If my Brother-In-Law was more humble and open to mutual edification and learning, then I would not have these fears. But unfortunately, he has demonstrated a dangerous combination of ignorance and arrogance that makes it difficult for me to trust and respect him.

I think you have assessed the situation and taken appropriate action.

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My wife is a grown woman, and I do not and cannot control what she does. But I want so badly for us to be as one in our Faith, and to present a healthy Orthodox Christian marriage in the eyes of our children. Our children love their EOTC Church. They observe the fasts and faithfully say their prayers. They always ask, "Papa, when are going back to Atlanta to the Church?" It is beautiful to see! But I know that it is so important for them to see their mother and father in agreement and accord in matters of the Faith. And this is why I'm so concerned.

As you should be.

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I am sad, worried, frustrated, and in dire need of some wise and loving advice. As you probably know from many of my posts, I am not one to easily compromise just to get along. I stand strongly for what I believe is right, and this often causes me much heartache and pain. I have emailed my Priest about the situation, and I hope to hear from him soon.

Please give me your advice, and especially your prayers. If you perceive that I am being overly paranoid, hypocritical, or hyper-sensitive, please let me know. I only ask that you be gentle in your repsonses. I am really hurting and need strength and encouragement from my wise OO Christian brethren. I have probably already shared too much personal info; but if we can't turn to our Orthodox Christian brethren, then who? Of course I do turn to Christ Our Lord in good times and bad, and I know that He is ultimately in control.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond to this. I really need you all right now. Please pray for my Brother-In-Law and his precious family as well.

"Lord have mercy."

Selam
Lord have mercy and preserve you all.


Thank you Ialmisry!

I appreciate your excellent points and your helpful information. As usual, your wisdom and knowledge are of great benefit to me. You know that I am a spiritual warrior, and my instinct is to fight. But Our Lord told His disciples to be "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." I know from past experiences that I can win the debate and yet lose the war. Marriage is often like that. I have never won an argument with my wife, even when I am 100% right and she is 100% wrong. In fact, the more I prove her points wrong and prove my points to be right, the less receptive she is to what I'm trying to say. But whenever I focus on just loving her and treating her as Christ would have me treat her, then her heart and mind quickly become open.

So, pray for me to have wisdom and discernment in these matters. I have the personality of Peter, who was quick to pull out his sword. I think I need to focus more on living out my Orthodox Faith rather than merely preaching it. My wife is not interested in theological theory, she only wants to see the practical spiritual benefits of spiritual Truth in our marriage and our family. That makes perfect sense to me. So, pray for me to love her in a more Christ like manner, to be a better husband and a better father.

BTW, can you explain the spitting reference? Not sure what you meant.

Thanks again dear brother. I really appreciate your help and advice!

Selam   
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« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2009, 09:46:56 AM »

Thank you Ialmisry!

No problem.

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I appreciate your excellent points and your helpful information. As usual, your wisdom and knowledge are of great benefit to me.

Thanks.

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You know that I am a spiritual warrior, and my instinct is to fight. But Our Lord told His disciples to be "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." I know from past experiences that I can win the debate and yet lose the war.
Exactly.  Our purpose is not to prove we are right, or that they are wrong, but, hacking through rock if need be, to plant a seed:
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John 4:27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

Notice that once Jesus reveals "everything she ever did," that she tries to engage him into a theological debate: Christ points out, that is besides the point.

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Marriage is often like that. I have never won an argument with my wife, even when I am 100% right and she is 100% wrong. In fact, the more I prove her points wrong and prove my points to be right, the less receptive she is to what I'm trying to say. But whenever I focus on just loving her and treating her as Christ would have me treat her, then her heart and mind quickly become open.


Hold that thought.

One of my ex wife's most destructive traits is that, as she puts it "I hate to lose and argument."  That is why she never admits she is wrong, never apologizes, argues more to try to regain an advantage etc. no matter how much destruction she wrecks on a relationship. Which is why she is home alone.

Sometimes (usually) who's right is besides the point.

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So, pray for me to have wisdom and discernment in these matters. I have the personality of Peter, who was quick to pull out his sword. I think I need to focus more on living out my Orthodox Faith rather than merely preaching it. My wife is not interested in theological theory, she only wants to see the practical spiritual benefits of spiritual Truth in our marriage and our family. That makes perfect sense to me. So, pray for me to love her in a more Christ like manner, to be a better husband and a better father.


LOL.  I remember one wife stating the division of labor in her home "he gets to make all the big decisions, like what the US policy should be towards the Soviet Union [this was in the 80's], what the Fed should do on interest rates, and what should be done to fix the trade imbalance with Japan, and I decide where the kids will go to school, where we'll go for vacation and whether we can afford a new car."

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BTW, can you explain the spitting reference? Not sure what you meant.

In the Constantinopolitan rite of baptism, when you are asked to renounce Satan, after 3x you are told to face West and spit on him.  Visitors are always taken aghast when people do just that.

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Thanks again dear brother. I really appreciate your help and advice!

Selam   

Btw, I'm glad that some Ethiopians are also at the Greek Church. Solidarity.  Maybe you can meet as a group in Mississippi when you can't go to Atlanta, and between going to the Greek parish, and meet and pray according to the Ethiopian typika.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2009, 09:48:02 AM by ialmisry » Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
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« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2009, 12:49:03 PM »

Prayers Lord Have Mercy !...Amen
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« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2009, 04:16:31 PM »

The Greek Orthodox church in your city probably has other people that attend that also belong to another jurisdiction.  If there is not a Serbian or Russian church nearby, they may attend the Greek church but drive to other cities on Christmas/Pascha to hear DL in their homelands’ language.  When you can’t attend your church, go to the Greek Church.  They may have a lot of activities for your children.  Your kids will meet more Orthodox kids. The Greek Church has excellent children’s activities and camps in the summer.  Having a church nearby will allow you to go to many of the Lenten Services and Feast Days.  The more often you attend, the more your wife will feel “Orthodox” rather than Protestant. 

When I was first married, my husband was rather apathetic about being Orthodox.  His mother did not want him to leave her faith and  she caused a lot of trouble in my marriage.  My husband had “a church is a church” attitude but I never gave up and allowed him to return to his old faith.  (Yes, I know Orthodox are not supposed to push spouses into Orthodoxy but children NEED to see both parents worship God.)

This summer we attended a liberal, Catholic university graduation, a nun went to the podium and prayed to Sophia in front of the crowd.  Then she addressed God as She and spoke at length about her female god. This event upset my husband and he actually wanted to talk about it.  It took many years but he now understands much of our faith, defends it,  and strongly identifies himself as being an Orthodox Christian. With love and patience, your wife will do the same.

Praying for your family.
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« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2009, 05:52:27 PM »

Thank you Ialmisry!

No problem.

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I appreciate your excellent points and your helpful information. As usual, your wisdom and knowledge are of great benefit to me.

Thanks.

Quote
You know that I am a spiritual warrior, and my instinct is to fight. But Our Lord told His disciples to be "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves." I know from past experiences that I can win the debate and yet lose the war.
Exactly.  Our purpose is not to prove we are right, or that they are wrong, but, hacking through rock if need be, to plant a seed:
Quote
John 4:27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

Notice that once Jesus reveals "everything she ever did," that she tries to engage him into a theological debate: Christ points out, that is besides the point.

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Marriage is often like that. I have never won an argument with my wife, even when I am 100% right and she is 100% wrong. In fact, the more I prove her points wrong and prove my points to be right, the less receptive she is to what I'm trying to say. But whenever I focus on just loving her and treating her as Christ would have me treat her, then her heart and mind quickly become open.


Hold that thought.

One of my ex wife's most destructive traits is that, as she puts it "I hate to lose and argument."  That is why she never admits she is wrong, never apologizes, argues more to try to regain an advantage etc. no matter how much destruction she wrecks on a relationship. Which is why she is home alone.

Sometimes (usually) who's right is besides the point.

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So, pray for me to have wisdom and discernment in these matters. I have the personality of Peter, who was quick to pull out his sword. I think I need to focus more on living out my Orthodox Faith rather than merely preaching it. My wife is not interested in theological theory, she only wants to see the practical spiritual benefits of spiritual Truth in our marriage and our family. That makes perfect sense to me. So, pray for me to love her in a more Christ like manner, to be a better husband and a better father.


LOL.  I remember one wife stating the division of labor in her home "he gets to make all the big decisions, like what the US policy should be towards the Soviet Union [this was in the 80's], what the Fed should do on interest rates, and what should be done to fix the trade imbalance with Japan, and I decide where the kids will go to school, where we'll go for vacation and whether we can afford a new car."

Quote
BTW, can you explain the spitting reference? Not sure what you meant.

In the Constantinopolitan rite of baptism, when you are asked to renounce Satan, after 3x you are told to face West and spit on him.  Visitors are always taken aghast when people do just that.

Quote
Thanks again dear brother. I really appreciate your help and advice!

Selam   

Btw, I'm glad that some Ethiopians are also at the Greek Church. Solidarity.  Maybe you can meet as a group in Mississippi when you can't go to Atlanta, and between going to the Greek parish, and meet and pray according to the Ethiopian typika.

Thanks again my brother!

Selam
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« Reply #28 on: October 03, 2009, 06:11:16 PM »

The Greek Orthodox church in your city probably has other people that attend that also belong to another jurisdiction.  If there is not a Serbian or Russian church nearby, they may attend the Greek church but drive to other cities on Christmas/Pascha to hear DL in their homelands’ language.  When you can’t attend your church, go to the Greek Church.  They may have a lot of activities for your children.  Your kids will meet more Orthodox kids. The Greek Church has excellent children’s activities and camps in the summer.  Having a church nearby will allow you to go to many of the Lenten Services and Feast Days.  The more often you attend, the more your wife will feel “Orthodox” rather than Protestant. 

When I was first married, my husband was rather apathetic about being Orthodox.  His mother did not want him to leave her faith and  she caused a lot of trouble in my marriage.  My husband had “a church is a church” attitude but I never gave up and allowed him to return to his old faith.  (Yes, I know Orthodox are not supposed to push spouses into Orthodoxy but children NEED to see both parents worship God.)

This summer we attended a liberal, Catholic university graduation, a nun went to the podium and prayed to Sophia in front of the crowd.  Then she addressed God as She and spoke at length about her female god. This event upset my husband and he actually wanted to talk about it.  It took many years but he now understands much of our faith, defends it,  and strongly identifies himself as being an Orthodox Christian. With love and patience, your wife will do the same.

Praying for your family.

Thanks so much for the kind and encouraging words.

Wow! What a crazy story about the feminist nun! I have a good Catholic friend who is very devout. He often goes to the Greek Orthodox Church here because he loves its Liturgy. But he is committed to Catholicism. Anyway, he told me that in the late 50's and 60's, communists and homosexuals began to deliberately infiltrate the Catholic Church. Scary stuff.

I appreciate your prayers and advice.

Selam 
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« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2009, 02:06:27 AM »

My only encouragement is that you can not be asked to bear the weight of all of this alone.  Take comfort in the fact that you are not God, and you should start feeling much better!  I often begin to worry about my family and friends, those who don't know Christ, and then I simply remember that God is in control of everything, and that I trust His love to bring everything together.  One of my sisters is attending a Pentecostal church and for a while I was worried that she would begin to 'speak in tongues' and all other sorts of things foreign to the Orthodox faith, but then I remembered that I am not God and that Christ is infinitely greater than I am.  He loves my sister and knows her heart.  Perhaps some day He will lead her into the fullness of faith, but for now she's making her best attempt to move toward God, and I can trust God to guide her correctly.

God will take care of your wife and your boys, just as he has taken care of you!  It's not always the way that we want it, but God works in His own ways.  Don't worry about what might happen tomorrow; today has enough worries of its own.  Love your wife and your sons today, and you will have shown them Christ.

Also, let us know if you end up going to the Greek parish in the morning.  If so, good luck!
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« Reply #30 on: October 04, 2009, 04:26:49 PM »

Gebre, my personal experience is, there is no way to argue with fundies, ever, whoever they claim thay are, "denomination-wise." Just don't. Let go. Breathe. Smell the coffee. Do your job, support your family, raise your wonderful kids. That's all one can do. Fundies are like ants, they never die and you cannot do anything about them.
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« Reply #31 on: October 04, 2009, 06:29:53 PM »

Just a P.S. of sorts: to me, fundies are like Ted Bundies. I cannot "convince" them in anything. I just know one when I see one even if he/she calls him/herself Orthodox... And just like a Ted Bundy is on the other side, across the line that separates me (I hope) from serial killers, similarly, fundies are on the other side.
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« Reply #32 on: October 04, 2009, 08:59:29 PM »

UPDATE:

Everyone's prayers and advice have been very helpful. This morning I took my children to Father Chris's Greek Orthodox Church, which is not too far from our house. What a beautiful Church! The Icons are amazing! We were very blessed by the Matins and the Liturgy. Everyone was so receptive and welcoming, and we felt the Spirit of Christ there. My children really enjoyed it, and they can't wait to go back.

Father Chris gave a beautiful homily about loving others unconditionally. He said that authentic Christian love is the most truly counter cultural force  there is. I also liked the fact that he said we should try to concern ourselves with who people are rather than judging them by their careers or their skills. And sure enough, his Church is the only other Church besides our EOTC in Atlanta where nobody asked me, "So, what do you do?" That was really refreshing! People seemed genuinely interested in my family and me without assessing my worth by my education or career.

My wife would have come with us, but she had to take care of her father who was sick with the flu this weekend. (Her father is blind, so she often uses the weekends to prepare his meals and read his mail to him, etc.) But she is going to come with us the next time we go, and we plan to try to be regular attenders now.

I want to thank you all again. God has worked through your wise advice and faithful prayers to give me much needed peace in a very difficult time. I am grateful to Father Chris and the wonderful people of his parish. They seemed truly happy that we were Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, and I didn't sense anyone trying to convert me to EO. I am excited to learn and grow in my Orthodox Christian Faith through participation in the Greek Orthodox Church until we are able to return to our EOTC Church in Atlanta.

Please keep our family and my Brother-In-Law's family in your prayers.

Selam
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« Reply #33 on: October 04, 2009, 09:04:51 PM »

My only encouragement is that you can not be asked to bear the weight of all of this alone.  Take comfort in the fact that you are not God, and you should start feeling much better!  I often begin to worry about my family and friends, those who don't know Christ, and then I simply remember that God is in control of everything, and that I trust His love to bring everything together.  One of my sisters is attending a Pentecostal church and for a while I was worried that she would begin to 'speak in tongues' and all other sorts of things foreign to the Orthodox faith, but then I remembered that I am not God and that Christ is infinitely greater than I am.  He loves my sister and knows her heart.  Perhaps some day He will lead her into the fullness of faith, but for now she's making her best attempt to move toward God, and I can trust God to guide her correctly.

God will take care of your wife and your boys, just as he has taken care of you!  It's not always the way that we want it, but God works in His own ways.  Don't worry about what might happen tomorrow; today has enough worries of its own.  Love your wife and your sons today, and you will have shown them Christ.

Also, let us know if you end up going to the Greek parish in the morning.  If so, good luck!

Very wise words my friend. Thank you. Pray that I will take them to heart.

Selam
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« Reply #34 on: October 04, 2009, 09:05:44 PM »

Good to hear you had such a positive experience.  Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: October 04, 2009, 09:17:30 PM »

UPDATE:

Everyone's prayers and advice have been very helpful.

Even mine? I am sorry, I was perhaps too rough. Thank you for not jumping at my maximalistic statements...

This morning I took my children to Father Chris's Greek Orthodox Church, which is not too far from our house.

Looks like you and I have the same spiritual Father...
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« Reply #36 on: October 04, 2009, 09:18:33 PM »

I was so happy to read your update, GMK!
I hope things will improve for you. I've always found attacks from my fundamentalist friends more difficult to handle if I'm not attending services regularly. Attending services seems to have a way of enforcing and strengthening one's faith.
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« Reply #37 on: October 04, 2009, 09:19:58 PM »

Just a P.S. of sorts: to me, fundies are like Ted Bundies. I cannot "convince" them in anything. I just know one when I see one even if he/she calls him/herself Orthodox... And just like a Ted Bundy is on the other side, across the line that separates me (I hope) from serial killers, similarly, fundies are on the other side.

Thank you Heorhij.

It's difficult when you try to view someone as your Christian brother but they think you're going to hell. I try not to fall into a my side/their side mentality, because I think this is what causes so many problems in the world. But Christ did say that He came to bring a sword, and that loving and following Him will inevitably cause division- even amongst one's own household.

I guess in situations like these, the words of St. Paul are worthy of consideration: "If it is possible, as much as it depends upon you, live peaceabley with all men." [Romans 12:18] Some people just don't want to be at peace with us. They don't want to be our brothers. They seem to thrive on conflict, and sometimes even agreeing with them won't help. I guess it's one of those spiritual warfare things. So we just try our best to love them and pray for them and focus on removing the beam from our own eye. But these things are much easier said than done, aren't they?

Thank you again my brother.

Selam
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« Reply #38 on: October 04, 2009, 09:23:38 PM »

I was so happy to read your update, GMK!
I hope things will improve for you. I've always found attacks from my fundamentalist friends more difficult to handle if I'm not attending services regularly. Attending services seems to have a way of enforcing and strengthening one's faith.

Thanks Rosehip. Just being in the presence of other Orthodox Christians and praying and absorbing the Liturgy of St. John Chysostom was very empowering.

Selam
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« Reply #39 on: October 04, 2009, 10:35:16 PM »

Glory to God!
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« Reply #40 on: October 04, 2009, 11:27:11 PM »

Glory to God!

Amen!

I am glad that you got a warm welcome, especially as Ethiopians (meaning that they respect your own Church).
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« Reply #41 on: October 05, 2009, 12:14:09 AM »

There have been Ethiopian Orthodox attending the various GOA Churches in MD, DC & Northern VA for quite some time.

Ethiopian Orthodox are married at St. Sophia Cathedral in Washington, DC (with their own clergy, I believe) with no issues from presiding clergy and/or the GOA Archbishop.

Never heard of any issues with a GOA Church and Ethiopian Orthodox.   Smiley
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« Reply #42 on: October 05, 2009, 01:06:45 AM »

I am so glad that it went well!  I'm glad that they accepted you, and even though it might not be your ideal situation, weekly attendance at that parish is really going to strengthen your family.  Your children need the regular fellowship and sense of community, and you need the peace of the liturgy as well!  If I was in some odd situation where I could not attend an Eastern Orthodox Church, I would definitely attended an Oriental Orthodox parish.  I attended a Coptic liturgy once and it was wonderful!  Anyway, congratulations on your small victory.

So, what is the name of the parish you are attending?
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« Reply #43 on: October 05, 2009, 01:52:18 AM »

There have been Ethiopian Orthodox attending the various GOA Churches in MD, DC & Northern VA for quite some time.

Ethiopian Orthodox are married at St. Sophia Cathedral in Washington, DC (with their own clergy, I believe) with no issues from presiding clergy and/or the GOA Archbishop.

Never heard of any issues with a GOA Church and Ethiopian Orthodox.   Smiley

That's good to hear. We are all brothers!

Selam
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« Reply #44 on: October 05, 2009, 01:54:19 AM »

I am so glad that it went well!  I'm glad that they accepted you, and even though it might not be your ideal situation, weekly attendance at that parish is really going to strengthen your family.  Your children need the regular fellowship and sense of community, and you need the peace of the liturgy as well!  If I was in some odd situation where I could not attend an Eastern Orthodox Church, I would definitely attended an Oriental Orthodox parish.  I attended a Coptic liturgy once and it was wonderful!  Anyway, congratulations on your small victory.

So, what is the name of the parish you are attending?

Thank you my brother!

The name of the Church is Holy Trinity-St. John The Theologian. A beautiful Church located on the edge of downtown Jackson, Mississippi.

Selam
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