Thanks. I do not know about any gifts I may have; I just try to stick with what I have learned from far better Orthodox Christians than I am
Ah, well the humble people are usually the ones that deny they are gifted or humble, as our administrator “Mor Ephrem” is an example. Humility must be the greatest virtue to have as a Christian second only to love. I hope you don't mind me saying this, but it is important for the Protestants to see "Ethiopian Orthodox" standing up for the truth. They know from the Bible that Ethiopia was one of the first lands to go Christian. Your name alone impresses them. It is also important for persons of African heritage to see that there is an alternative to the same old Baptist propaganda they've gotten all their lives
Of course I don’t mind. I believe this, and my Church as a whole believes this. What you said is similar to what some of our hierarchy say. Take this statement by Getahun Atlaw, Liqa Diyakon (Archdeacon) of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and spokesperson of the Jerusalem Archbishop of the EOTC:
“I should indicate our interest in developing an Ethiopian Orthodox outreach program throughout the African diaspora, including Black America and the Caribbean. This outreach program has great potential for positively resolving certain aspects of the African-American identity crisis and we have already taken the initial steps in this direction through the Ethiopian Research Council at the Center for African American Culture, Florida State University in Tallahassee.”
Yes, the Baptist tradition is a mess and is indicative of the long-term results of adherence to Protestantism. Aside from the overall sectarianism that characterizes Baptists, such as the multiple conventions (Southern Baptists, First Baptists, Independent Baptists, etc.), the Black community by itself has three separate Baptists conventions with membership in the millions. This is not to mention the different conventions of African American Methodists and others.
The ‘once saved always saved’ doctrine is particularly strong with the Baptists. I know people who think that sense they ‘used to be very religious’ that they are still saved now no matter what they do. I have a friend that I grew up with whose grandfather is a Baptist pastor. He was active in the Church growing up of course but when we went to college he fell in love with a woman from Somalia and converted to Islam in order to marry her (her family insisted). This is a rejection of Christ, no way around it. But the amazing thing was to see how his family rationalized it. They figured that sense he used to confess that Jesus was Lord and died for his sins, and sense that (in Baptist understanding) is enough to save him, that he is still saved now because he already believed in Jesus at one time.
Another theme that has emerged in the Black community is the practice of having different Churches, of the same denomination, separated by class. The middle class well-to-do’s go to a big Church in the suburbs with Rev. Dr. so and so, while the poorer and working class attend the more traditional brimstone and lake of fire preaching pastor who made it to the 9th grade.
I am sure that berean is probably frantically searching the internet looking for some pictures he can post of our clergy or practices but I am confident he will not find much. or the deceptive lure of Islam.
Very true. The distortions and hollowness of the modern
American Protestant tradition, not to mention its sinister ties to slavery and the slave trade, have made Islam seem like an attractive alternative to Christianity for many.
Look at the left picture on this page and then read below. http://www.abyssinian.org/html/history_3.htm
I once read a speech that Malcolm X gave at Abyssinian Baptist Church while he was still a member of the Nation of Islam. During his speech he gave the usual NOI charade about Islam being the ‘true and natural religion of the Black man’ and claimed that African people were Muslims until they were forced to Christianity by westerners. During the question and answer period one member of the congregation got up and pointed to the Ethiopian Cross that H.I.M. Halie Sellasie, defender of the Orthodox Faith, gave to that Baptist Church as a gift in the 1950’s. The member of the congregation recalled the way Halie Sellasie reacted when he was told that there were groups in Harlem that were promoting this idea that Africans were Muslims. The king responded by saying that his country had been Christian centuries before there was such a thing as Islam and that it was an Ethiopian king that gave Muhammad and his followers refuge when they were fleeing from persecution in Medina. Upon hearing these words Malcolm X paused and then said “wellGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚ÂªuhGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âªactually that is not trueGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âªthe Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us thatGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âª” you get the point. He was stuck and stuttering upon hearing of Orthodoxy. What other time had Malcolm X ever stuttered or hesitated? This point obviously hit him hard.
Overall, we have to realize that we are confronting not just Protestantism but American Protestantism. American Protestantism has of course Sola Scripitura
and Sola Fide
as it’s basis but the extra element is an almost hysterical Romophobia that makes our job even more difficult. The Puritans did not do us any justice I am afraid. The level of instinctual anti-Catholicism in this country is astounding. I am learning that many, and not just the crazies out there, Protestant denominations have this thing that Rome is the ‘whore of Babylon’ and the Pope is the anti-Christ. The way that anti-Catholicism is expressed in America makes it almost anti-Orthodox by default. It does not specifically oppose doctrines of the RC like Purgatory, Papal Infallibility and the like but opposes anything Liturgical or Sacramental itself.
We have our work cut out for us, and it is surely a blessing to have you on our team.