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Author Topic: "Go Forth, And Make Gyros For All Nations"  (Read 1814 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: April 29, 2006, 05:55:38 PM »

The Christian religion, unlike many other religions, was from the start supposed to be missionary in nature. During the first millenium or so, things went slowly, but certainly there were quite prominent attempts to do something. Nonetheless, from the beginning, in spite of the (theoretical) missionary nature of the Church, most Christians seem (practically) to have not been much interested in going forth to all nations, but instead the missionary ball seemed to have gotten rolling, outside of a small space in Israel, because of persecutions. (cf Acts 8:1; 11:19, etc.). Nonetheless, the stories about the Christians in the apostolic period talk about them going to everywhere from Ethiopia to India to England.

But what I don't understand is, after a thousand years of missionary activity, the Church had not gone any further into Africa, the Far East, etc. For the most part, the major missionary works were done in the immediate neighborhood. St. John Chrysostom (early 5th century) sent (and went) towards Armenia. St. Photius (9th century) tried to convert the Bulgarians. Cyril and Methodius (9th century) missionized Eastern Europeans. There were of course exceptions, such as the work of Innocent and other Russians among the Aleut, or Nicholas among the Japanese, but even in these situations there was mainly stagnation after the deaths of the original fiery missionaries (e.g., there are roughly the same number of Orthodox now in Japan as when Nicholas was there a century and a half ago, perhaps less).

Shouldn't the Orthodox, if God is powering them and their beliefs are correct, have at the very least a prominent representation in every country and culture on earth? Why is it that 90% or more of the world's Orthodox live in a relatively small geographical area? When people would ask about this in chat rooms when I was Orthodox, I used to say that the reason was that Catholics had us bordered on the West, and Muslims on the East, so the Orthodox were sort of stuck between. Is that really the best answer there is, though?
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2006, 06:37:20 PM »

Travel. Travel. Travel. Christianity spread all over the Roman Empire because one could (a) actually arrive at one's destination MOST of the time without dying and (b) have SOMETHING in common with the culture, language and expectations of the people you found.

It would be less of a logistical problem today, I suppose, but it is still very expensive to travel and there are still many, many places in the world where a well-intentioned missionary is more likely to (a) be ignored, (b) be marginalized, or (c) be killed. The world is the way it is and people will be the way they want to be. Politics, language and safety aside, religion is always closely tied to culture (if not ethnicity) and conversion to something foreign just ain't an every-day affair.
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2006, 08:40:37 PM »

I agree with the travel idea, but I'd also like to say that there are thousands who did missionary work that aren't "saints." They don't have a title, they aren't known, but they have a place in Heaven and did a great amount of work for the Kingdom.

I'd also have to agree with the idea of having unfriendly neighbors, too. It's not so bad an answer. For example, Egypt was Christian very early on, and while religions didn't hinder the development of Orthodoxy, they later "reversed" it so to speak. In many cases, now non-Orthodox lands have been missionized 4-5 times. But, for whatever reasons, the numbers later dwindled. That is hardly the fault of missionaries.
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2006, 09:19:50 PM »

pensateomnia

Quote
Travel. Travel. Travel. Christianity spread all over the Roman Empire because one could (a) actually arrive at one's destination MOST of the time without dying and (b) have SOMETHING in common with the culture, language and expectations of the people you found.

Well I don't think I could agree with any of that. I guess I would ask why God couldn't secure safe passage for missionaries to, say, China or Central Africa? I mean, according to the Bible God helped Joshua and Israel, and according to lots of hagiographical texts God prevents attempted martyrdoms for a while to show his power. Some stories even say that God's miracles in preventing such martyrdoms converted tens of thousands (I remember one story about this type of thing happening in Persia, for example). Essentially, if Christian missionaries carried with them the answers, the way the truth and the life, then couldn't God have secured a safe route for them?

Of course, all of that wouldn't necessarily convert people, but even regarding your second point, again, Scriptures and the traditional texts seem to go further than historical reality allows. The Apostles, for example, came out speaking in such a way that every man understood them in their own language. Why didn't God continue that wonderful evangelizing tool? Seems like it would have made spreading the truth a lot easier, no?
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2006, 09:29:01 PM »

pensateomnia

Well I don't think I could agree with any of that. I guess I would ask why God couldn't secure safe passage for missionaries to, say, China or Central Africa? I mean, according to the Bible God helped Joshua and Israel, and according to lots of hagiographical texts God prevents attempted martyrdoms for a while to show his power. Some stories even say that God's miracles in preventing such martyrdoms converted tens of thousands (I remember one story about this type of thing happening in Persia, for example). Essentially, if Christian missionaries carried with them the answers, the way the truth and the life, then couldn't God have secured a safe route for them?

Of course, all of that wouldn't necessarily convert people, but even regarding your second point, again, Scriptures and the traditional texts seem to go further than historical reality allows. The Apostles, for example, came out speaking in such a way that every man understood them in their own language. Why didn't God continue that wonderful evangelizing tool? Seems like it would have made spreading the truth a lot easier, no?

God did secure them safe passage. In fact, I don't recall any missionary who was martyred before beginning his work. It was rather fear and faithlessness that stopped people from even trying, that is how it fits in.

There are records of later saints doing the same thing; it is used when necessary (and the best choice) by those with great faith. After all, if Cyril and Methodius only used tongues, where would the Slavic alphabet be?
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2006, 09:54:23 PM »

From my understanding the church has gone further into Africa, with a local church in Kenya (and/or Tanzania), though this was founded by ex-Protestants who converted.

Plus, of course, the Orthodox Church is in Australia, New Zealand and all other important places.  Grin
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2006, 02:13:11 PM »

While Christ called the church to be missionary, His pragmatic reality was, "Will the son of man find faith on the earth when he returns?".  

Also it is very rare for whole societies to embrace a faith for purely idealogical reasons - the two largest world religions (Catholicism and Islam) have spread mainly through colonization and war.  That's not to say that Orthodox, generally speaking, haven't been incompetent missionaries - but just maybe the early proliferation of Christianity is singularity.  
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2006, 02:16:47 PM »

As for the charge of making Gyros for all nations, the Turks have us beat on that as well - consider the popularity of the Döner over the gyro.  
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2006, 07:52:03 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=8916.msg118195#msg118195 date=1146420791]
While Christ called the church to be missionary, His pragmatic reality was, "Will the son of man find faith on the earth when he returns?". ÂÂ

Also it is very rare for whole societies to embrace a faith for purely idealogical reasons - the two largest world religions (Catholicism and Islam) have spread mainly through colonization and war.  That's not to say that Orthodox, generally speaking, haven't been incompetent missionaries - but just maybe the early proliferation of Christianity is singularity. ÂÂ
[/quote]

And then you say that war is no good...COMMON!   Tongue Tongue

Maybe the Serbs have caught on to something no one else has  Wink   Tongue Tongue
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2011, 03:25:36 AM »

*bump*
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2011, 10:01:20 AM »

I think the best answer to this is that people have free will and can choose to follow the orders of God. Sometimes we choose not to follow God's directives, and thus we fail to go to the places you mentioned.
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2011, 10:23:03 AM »

Keep in mind how much of the missionary work over the last 1000 years has been on the heals of an army. Orthodoxy divorces itself, traditionally from operating "with" a conquering army on the march.
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2011, 10:53:57 AM »

This is true today, but Byzantium may have "missionized with the sword"
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2011, 10:59:16 AM »

lulz.

Hilarious thread title.

Are people seriously not getting the point of the bump?

Come Monday, I am having a gyro in your honor good man.
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2011, 11:17:49 AM »

The Church of Russia was always a missionary church, at least to some extent. There were Russian missionaries in the mainland US, seeking to convert Americans, before the Bolshevik Revolution. For the last century the Russian Church has been more focused on preserving and reviving her own people.

It seems that missions largely shut down and Churches become insular when faced with existential threats. We saw it in the Soviet bloc, we saw it with Greece when the Turks took over. We saw it earlier, to a lesser extent, in the Western Church for a time when the Western Empire collapsed. Unfortunately, given long enough, this insular and anti-mission outlook becomes ingrained and normalized.

Perhaps it is providential that the Church is now growing in the US, which has always been a pluralistic society, and the influx of mission-minded former Protestants may be something the Church needs right now. (Some will chafe at this reasoning but I think it's true.)

(And I agree—a gyro sounds really good right now...)
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2011, 01:26:52 PM »

Thanks to you, Mr. Asterisk, probably half of the board will be at their local Greek restaurants come Monday afternoon.


MmMm....gyros.
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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2011, 01:42:02 PM »


The other half will be there tomorrow, as our fast doesn't even begin until Sunday!

 Wink
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« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2011, 02:43:42 PM »

Thanks to you, Mr. Asterisk, probably half of the board will be at their local Greek restaurants come Monday afternoon.


MmMm....gyros.

Try to find a gyro maker who uses stacked slices of meat rather than the awful preformed log.  Tongue
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« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2011, 02:45:38 PM »

Thanks to you, Mr. Asterisk, probably half of the board will be at their local Greek restaurants come Monday afternoon.


MmMm....gyros.

Try to find a gyro maker who uses stacked slices of meat rather than the awful preformed log.  Tongue
Well, half of the people in my church own restaurants (slight exaggeration). Their gyros are delicious! I should probably embark on a gyro tour all next week.
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« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2011, 02:46:16 PM »


The other half will be there tomorrow, as our fast doesn't even begin until Sunday!

 Wink
Sorry! I promise I won't describe my gyro experience too vividly.
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« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2011, 10:37:58 PM »

What about pierogies?  Wink Wink
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« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2011, 01:10:22 PM »

What about pierogies?  Wink Wink

I prefer steak tartare on crackers.
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I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.
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