Anyway, I've been thinking more about possible lines of reasoning I could use with Protestants, once I get the opportunity. (I'm more interested in explaining to them why I
want to swim the Bosporus, rather than trying to convert them to my way of thinking. They might not agree with me, but at least I'd like them to respect my decision and not think I've gone crazy).
So I've thought of several analogies that I could use.
The first is regard to ecclesiology. Evangelicals hold to an "entrepreneurial" model. They believe that just anyone can start their own assembly, call it a church, and as long as it "follows the Bible", it automatically becomes part of Christ's church.
But that's a bit like saying that if I decide to start a burger stand in my backyard and call it a McDonald's, that means it's actually a McDonald's. Actually, if I did that, I'd be arrested for fraud and/or violating copyright. That's because the name McDonald's, the golden arches symbol, etc., aren't open source
, they're copyrighted. I'd probably face a harsher penalty if I used substandard meats in my recipe, or otherwise conducted myself in a way that reflected poorly on the name McDonald's.
The question then becomes: is the Bible "copyrighted"? Are other aspects of Christianity (like the doctrine of the Trinity, etc.) "copyrighted" or open source? If they're "copyrighted" and it's Jesus Christ who owns the copyright, then that would imply that just anyone
doesn't have the right to start their own church from scratch, at least not if they want it to be the same church Christ founded.
Instead, it would imply that there's one original Church, and if you want to respect Jesus Christ's "intellectual property rights", you need to be part of (or in communion with) the one church He founded, rather than starting your own assembly from scratch that would compete with it.
Some might interpret Matthew 18:20 to argue in favor of an "open source" church. But, as a recent post on these forums indicates, the classical
interpretation of that verse is a reference to the Christian family (as a "domestic church") rather than as a license to allow individuals to start their own churches from scratch. The modern Protestant interpretation of that verse was completely absent prior to the Reformation.
The second argument I've thought of came to me after reading Fr. Daniel Byantoro's essays on being Orthodox in a primarily Muslim country (Indonesia). The difference between Orthodoxy and Islam is like night and day, in that Islam teaches that God's word became book (the Qur'an), whereas in Orthodoxy the focus is on God becoming flesh (Jesus Christ).
Evangelicalism muddies this distinction in that it makes the Bible into a "Christian Qur'an" of sorts. "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so". This kind of attitude (giving primacy to the written
word) can quickly lead to a kind of wooden legalism, and frequently it does. Whereas the Orthodox would say that they believe what the Bible says because it points to Jesus Christ. The contrast with Islam is starker, whereas when Evangelicals debate Muslims it ends up becoming a "my book vs. your book" sort of debate.
The third argument also concerns evangelism of Muslims. Evangelicals and Pentecostals have found Muslims notoriously hard to evangelize. The Orthodox, on the other hand, have made inroads among them in the past, and are one of the few churches to have any success in this regard. One reason I think this might be the case is because Muslims, upon seeing most evangelical and charismatic forms of worship, would recognize what they saw as extremely impious, perhaps even not worthy of being called religion. When they saw an EO or OO liturgy they'd find a lot more things familiar (not the icons, of course, except in the case of Shiites and Alevis), but there'd be a far more reverential and theocentric
atmosphere, more like is found in Islamic services. We have a very large Somali community in my area and evangelizing them has long been a dream of local evangelical missionaries, but so far they've had almost no progress in this regard and I think I know why.