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Author Topic: Orthodox Evangelism  (Read 8948 times) Average Rating: 0
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Linus7
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« on: April 15, 2003, 08:24:40 PM »

What is it?

How is it done?

As a teenaged Protestant I was involved (not super deeply) with Campus Crusade for Christ and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I "witnessed" to many people and even won some "converts." No discipling was involved, and some of them, whom I talked into attending my church for awhile, ultimately fell away.

The Orthodox Church, with its lengthy catechumenate, is another story.

I am creating this topic specifically to replace the "To the Orthodox Apologists" topic.

I would like to discuss evangelism in general, but especially outreach to Protestants.

However, since the Apologists topic, with its too-narrow focus on The-Board-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, evidently bothered some folks, I would like for us to stay away from spending too much time talking about any one board outside this one.

That said, however, I would not want to try to limit speech on this board and would suggest that those who want to post here say anything they want as long as it is within the rules and conforms to Christian standards of civility and politeness. Grin

Those who get annoyed by this board should simply avoid it and read something else.
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2003, 08:41:50 PM »

Great question.  I don't know how this happens...I just hope it's got nothing to do with TRACTS!

In my own situation, I didn't know anyone Orthodox and didn't even know Orthodoxy existed prior to doing some research into the roots of Christianity -- mostly online -- about 2 years ago.  What prompted me to get there?  It's a very long story, but it all boils down to His drawing me toward Orthodoxy.  

The Orthodox church I'm at has services regularly to pray for non-Orthodox folks -- y'all probably know much better than I what these services are called.  That's got to be one of the most effective forms of evangelism.
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2003, 08:50:50 PM »

My own experience involved study of the Bible and Church history, but I cannot claim that I reasoned my way into Holy Orthodoxy.

A trip to Russia played a big part. When I was there I met a priest named Father Aleksandr who seemed to have an almost visible light around him (you would have had to be there to know what I am talking about). When I was around this guy (who spoke almost no English) I did not want to leave him. I could feel my blood pressure drop in his presence. Father Aleksandr caused me to look into the Orthodox Church when I returned to the states.

Later, when I returned to Russia, I met a nun at the Pakrovsky Monastery in Moscow who had the same kind of light about her, Sister Concordia. By that time I was already Orthodox. I was floored to meet a second such person in one lifetime.

I had met some nice Christians as a Protestant, but I had never met really holy people like these two Russians. They were more convincing to me than volumes of Systematic Theology, Church History, or Patristic writings.
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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2003, 09:18:20 PM »

One method of evangelism that we as Orthodox possess more than Evangelicals is in our asthetics.  

The Southeastern Deanery(OCA) Combined Choir has performed in a few venues over the past three years, including the international Piccolo Spoleto music festival.  As a result of our choirs working hard to maintain the beauty of services we now have a vocal music major at a local college as an inquirer.  

Iconography is another doorway into the Church.  There have been more than a few art students over the years who have become interested in Orthodoxy through an in-depth study of iconography.  Parish priests and/or laymen catechists can learn enough history and theology behind iconography to make presentations at local schools.  Speaking of visual art, we also have a parish member who was brought into Orthodoxy by learning and teaching Psankii(ukranian egg decoration).  

Even incense can bring in inquirers.  There's an Orthodox bookstore an hour's drive from here that has, among other things, the largest selection of incense in the southeast; over 200 types of liturgical incense.  The gentleman who operates this store routinely talks to young people who are looking for indian style incense.  Often they are intrigued when they walk in and are surrounded by icons, smell incense, and hear ancient chant.  

So in addition to all the normal methods of evangelism we should also look at these areas that can introduce Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2003, 09:58:40 PM »

At www.antiochian.org they had a booklet called "Making America Orthodox" or "Bringing Orthodoxy to America" or something that was an 80 page pdf doc that had step by step instructions for evangelization.  They are reorganizing their site so if you can't find it I'd suggest you email the webmaster.

The writings of Archbishop Anastasios of Albania are also instructive for Orthodox missiology.  His book will be published in June by SVS press.  He was the man who "reignited" Orthodox missions in this century.

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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2003, 11:22:20 PM »

"The-Board-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named"?

Huh I'm pretty new here.
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2003, 11:31:44 PM »

Here ya go !  Enjoy  Shocked
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2003, 03:43:11 AM »

The more I read and learn, the more I seem to find that Orthodox evangelism is living the Orthodox faith and being ready to go when God says go. Most important is to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling so that when God places us near to those He is calling, they will see in us the image and likeness of God. They will be attracted to God, not to us.

To put it simply, if we do not walk the walk then they will not listen when we talk the talk.

God already knows who will hear his voice and when they will be ready to hear. How He speaks to them is His concern, not ours. The example of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch keeps coming to mind for some reason.

John.
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2003, 08:49:38 AM »

Well, I'm not going anywhere near the subject of "Protestant Poaching", but it does seem to me that Orthodoxy has a history of getting its converts from active members of other churches. (Protestantism as catechumenate?  Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley ) What about evangelizing to the unchurched?
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2003, 09:30:41 AM »

I don't know how many were "poached", I certainly wasn't. I think you will find many found their way on their own (or should I say were led there by the Holy Spirit).

I must admit that I do want to "poach" my parents and my siblings though, because I have found a pearl of great price which they are missing out on. Is it a bad thing to want them to know the fullness of truth?

John.
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2003, 09:36:15 AM »

Like, prodromos, My wife and I searched out the truth and are blessed to have found it.

If we had one poacher for every Fundagelical prosteletizing in Orthodox lands, it would be a happy day for America.
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2003, 09:51:49 AM »

Like, prodromos, My wife and I searched out the truth and are blessed to have found it.

If we had one poacher for every Fundagelical prosteletizing in Orthodox lands, it would be a happy day for America.

Part of the reason that there are evangelical Protestants in "Othodox" lands is that the state churches in those lands are manifestly doing a miserable job of keeping people churched.
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2003, 09:53:04 AM »

Well, I'm not going anywhere near the subject of "Protestant Poaching", but it does seem to me that Orthodoxy has a history of getting its converts from active members of other churches. (Protestantism as catechumenate?  Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley ) What about evangelizing to the unchurched?


I doubt that they were *ACTIVELY* poached by the Orthodox Church (the Orthodox Church *should*, IMHO, do more evangelizing among the Prots, unchurched, etc.).  

I certainly wasn't "poached"--in fact, after much study and prayer and long-distance telephone calls to former seminary profs, I almost had to fight my way into Holy Orthodoxy from the Unia to gain admittance--the Greeks, for example, did not understand why I wanted to be Orthodox since I wasn't Greek and, therefore, should remain where I was in the Unia.  The OCA, however, was far more accepting, and that's where my immediate family and I remain to this day.

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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2003, 09:56:48 AM »

Part of the reason that there are evangelical Protestants in "Othodox" lands is that the state churches in those lands are manifestly doing a miserable job of keeping people churched.

You mean like in Russia where thousands of Priests and Bishops were martyred during the Communist era?

John.
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« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2003, 10:11:51 AM »

Quote
Part of the reason that there are evangelical Protestants in "Othodox" lands is that the state churches in those lands are manifestly doing a miserable job of keeping people churched.

Then why don't they help the existing churches to reach out to the unchurched, and help the existing churches to recover from decades of state oppression and murder ?  My guess would be is that they manifestly believe that Orthodoxy is a false religion and that they are simply 'saving' all those souls from the lie of Orthodoxy.  Roll Eyes  Given that that is a false premise, they simply have no business being there.
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Linus7
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« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2003, 12:50:25 PM »

Like, prodromos, My wife and I searched out the truth and are blessed to have found it.

If we had one poacher for every Fundagelical prosteletizing in Orthodox lands, it would be a happy day for America.

Part of the reason that there are evangelical Protestants in "Othodox" lands is that the state churches in those lands are manifestly doing a miserable job of keeping people churched.


The reason there are Evangelical missions in historically Orthodox countries is that they are now free to be there. Some Evangelical groups have big money behind them and slick, Madison Avenue-style marketing.

In Eastern Europe many of the people have little knowledge of Orthodox Christianity or of any other kind. They were never "churched" to begin with, having been raised in the old Soviet system.

Young East Europeans are primed for anything flashy and western and like the sleek feel of prosperity that Evangelical groups sometimes convey.

As Oblio said, Evangelicals do not really think the Orthodox are Christians and thus believe that they must be "brought to Christ."

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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2003, 07:10:04 PM »

What really appalls me about the way this discussion has veered off is the way it has turned into a complaint about how the Protestant missionaries aren't playing fair. Well, if they are of the Devil, why would they? If "Madison Avenue" works, then why isn't Orthodoxy doing it? If "big money" is needed, then why isn't Orthodoxy raising it-- or learning how to do without?
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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2003, 07:19:34 PM »

What really appalls me about the way this discussion has veered off is the way it has turned into a complaint about how the Protestant missionaries aren't playing fair. Well, if they are of the Devil, why would they? If "Madison Avenue" works, then why isn't Orthodoxy doing it? If "big money" is needed, then why isn't Orthodoxy raising it-- or learning how to do without?


Well, if it "veered off" it did so because someone chose to turn a thread about Orthodox evangelism into a discussion of how Protestants were doing their thing in historically Orthodox countries.

I never said Protestant missionaries are "of the Devil."

Madison Avenue works for Evangelical Protestants because what they count as a "conversion" we would count as someone showing an interest or succumbing to momentary emotions. Madison Avenue techniques seem to produce superficial conversions.

What happens when the glitz wears off and the day-to-day Christian struggle sets in?

Actually, I can tell you because I have seen up-close-and-personal the results of such evangelistic techniques. Many of the newly "born-again" Christians return to their own vomit, confident through the doctrine of "Once Saved Always Saved" that they have done enough, their salvation is secured.

You have a point about raising money. We need to do that.

In my opinion we Orthodox also need to be a bit more proactive in our outreach. People are going to hell and we seem to be doing little to stop it.
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2003, 07:21:21 PM »

Quote
What really appalls me about the way this discussion has veered off is the way it has turned into a complaint about how the Protestant missionaries aren't playing fair.

You jerked the wheel of this bus ...

Quote
Well, I'm not going anywhere near the subject of "Protestant Poaching", but it does seem to me that Orthodoxy has a history of getting its converts from active members of other churches. (Protestantism as catechumenate?      ) What about evangelizing to the unchurched?

OTOH, you do ask some valid questions.

Quote
Well, if they are of the Devil, why would they? If "Madison Avenue" works, then why isn't Orthodoxy doing it? If "big money" is needed, then why isn't Orthodoxy raising it-- or learning how to do without?

I'll go with the first premise.
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2003, 08:22:20 PM »

Well, if it "veered off" it did so because someone chose to turn a thread about Orthodox evangelism into a discussion of how Protestants were doing their thing in historically Orthodox countries.

Not me! As far as I'm concerned, the only interesting aspect of the phenomenon is the Russian Church attempts to keep everyone else out. Half the time I get the impression that they feel they can't compete, and the other half of the time it seems as though they except to claim every Russian as a birthright. The first impression embarrasses me, and the second seems foolhardy.

The Antiochians in the USA at least realize they do not have the luxury of either position. I get the impression that some other American Orthodox bodies do fall into these (IMHO) bad attitudes. Someone I know was criticized for going to the "wrong" ethnic Orthodox church, as an example of the "these people belong to us" attitude.

The thing is that, from my Protestant perspective, the Orthodox churches ought to be able to evangelize to people whom evangelicals and fundamentalists are failing to reach.
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« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2003, 08:41:25 PM »

I do not think the Russian Church thinks in terms of competing with anyone except perhaps the devil.

If her hierarchs want to keep Protestants out, it is probably out of concern for the souls of Russian people.

I think we would all agree that certain Orthodox churches here in the USA can be too exclusively ethnic. But that is a human sin problem, not a flaw in the Church herself.

It is a consideration, however, as we attempt to bring American newcomers into the Orthodox Church.

Will they be run off by unwelcoming and too-foreign ethnics who seem to feel the Church is their private, genetic preserve?  - That is a concern.

Then again, God can and does take care of His Church.

I wasn't run off by the "ethnics" I encountered, just the opposite.
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« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2003, 10:01:59 PM »

Again, this is hopeless.
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« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2003, 11:53:12 PM »

Back at the end of summer/early fall my church operated a table at a local festival (I don't recall what the festival was about). We answered questions from curious passersby, handed out pamphlets, and sold Orthodox books. We had a pretty lively table and a darn good time, too.

A number of us took shifts at the table. Our priest and his wife were there almost the entire time.

Some people had no idea what the Orthodox Church was until stopping by our table.

I think that was a pretty decent form of evangelism and not overly aggressive.
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« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2003, 03:16:06 AM »

Again, this is hopeless.


Um, why do you say that?  Linus and Oblio are just pointing out the historical facts that you fail to see.  The facts within their context need to be considered.
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« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2003, 04:30:00 AM »

I remember years ago, before the fall of communist Russia, reading about the terrible persecution of christians in Russia. In every thing I read, not once was I given the impression that the christians in Russia were anything other than Evangelical christians like ourselves.

The only time I remember the orthodox church being mentioned was in regards to it being controlled by the state, thus implying it was not a true church.

John.
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« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2003, 08:43:30 AM »

Again, this is hopeless.


Um, why do you say that?  Linus and Oblio are just pointing out the historical facts that you fail to see.  The facts within their context need to be considered.

The context originally was Orthodox evangelism. I originally remarked that it seemed to me that the converts I knew tended to be people who used to be Protestant (and I would add, active in their churches), and I brought up the matter of evangelizing to the unchurched and total unbelievers.

This was almost immediately sidetracked by arguments against me about Evil Protestant Missionaries In Orthodox Territories. Now, I have no control over these people, and I feel no responsibility for these people, and it most assuredly is not my church that is sending them. And if Orthodoxy cannot deal with them as a fact of life, but is reduced to having to call out the authorities on them, that it's going to lose potential converts. I could go on at length about the problems that state churches in general paint themselves into, all of which has no relevance in the context of Orthodox evangelism in the USA. And in any case I have to expect that if I mention Protestant state churches, their situations are going to be dismissed as irrelevant to the situations of the One True State Churches anyway, so why should I bother?

Now, I can suggest a lot of things that might be helpful. Making a presence in public festivals is surely a good idea (some Catholic confraternity always has a table at the county fair, for instance). Worship materials adapted for visitors strike me as a good idea as well. I remember going to Holy Cross in Linthicum (the M-G's church) in the days when they were still trying to get over having been Episcopalians. They were using looseleaf-bound service books with extensive commentary on the various parts of the service. What was intended to help the newly converted would surely help the visiting stranger.

And as I said, as an Anglican I have an investment in effective Orthodox evangelism to the unchurched.

The point is, that's not the way the discussion went. It seems that what other people want to do is denouce Protestants. In my opinion, a lot of hand-wringing about Protestant missionaries in Russia isn't going to solve mission problems here-- or there. And it should be everyone else's opinion too, because that's the way the world works.

There is not enough time in the world if, every time I mention the word "Protestant" even in passing, a bunch of people jump all over me, and I have to hack my way through a bunch of excessive generalizations and the impulse to denounce Protestants in general as a bunch of undifferentiated heretics. I've been effectively told that there's no point in any mention of the Anglicans because any position they offer is irrelevant (and wrong) simply because they offer it. I cannot defend Protestantism in general, and I've given plenty of reasons why the demand is unreasonable. I'm not going to mount a spirited defense of Anglicanism in general because (a) I don't feel his is the place to do so, and (b) in any case I am so outnumbered here that to be able to keep up with all the responses I'd have to quit my job-- and make sure that all the opposition were working enough overtime to slow them down to a manageable rate of responses. None of these reasons are being respected. Under the circumstances, discourse is impossible, and further conversation is hopeless.
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« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2003, 09:01:59 AM »

I did help veer this discussion off track while trying to grab the wheel back from Keble  Wink, my apologies.

I do think that Protestants are a valid source of new members of the Orthodox Church.  There are many who were quite active in their church, such as myself, that were looking for what is present in the Orthodox Church and missing in Protestantism.  I think that is perhaps a valid topic in the context of this discussion.

On a more technical matter, we are currently building a new church, and have found that placing a weatherproof box with materials describing the Orthodox faith and our parish information has at least drawn some takers of the materials.  As we just started to make these available, it is too early to know if there will be any visitors or better from this effort.
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« Reply #27 on: April 17, 2003, 01:31:22 PM »

On a more technical matter, we are currently building a new church, and have found that placing a weatherproof box with materials describing the Orthodox faith and our parish information has at least drawn some takers of the materials.  As we just started to make these available, it is too early to know if there will be any visitors or better from this effort.

This is something I certainly would like-- particularly a flyer explaining the iconography, which is something I miss at a lot of Episcopal churches too (who is that in the upper panel of the third window on the right, anyway?)
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« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2003, 01:40:06 PM »

The one we are currently using is called Our Faith which we got from the OCPC (OC Publication Center).  We've got some spares, if you like, email me your address and I'll send you one  Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: April 17, 2003, 01:41:43 PM »

I know my own experience is like that of many others who have come to Orthodox Christianity - essentially, it was a movement largely devoid of obvious human participation...but lots of odd "coincidences" and being at the right place at the right time (and eventually getting a hold of good books and articles).

The harvest is enormous, but the labourers are few.  I agree with Linus' comments, that the biggest draw to Orthodoxy, is God Himself (manifest in the Divine services and in His Saints.)  I think genuine Orthodox evangelism works along those lines, and not along the lines that evangelical protestants work along.  I seriously doubt there will be an Orthodox America (or as I desire to see, Orthodox Canada) until the situation of monasticism improves in the new world, and alot of the ethnic/juristictional problems are resolved.

In the meantime, I firmly believe that God is still finding a way, even without sufficient labourers - but it is to our condemnation that things are not better.

Seraphim
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« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2003, 04:11:46 PM »

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I seriously doubt there will be an Orthodox America (or as I desire to see, Orthodox Canada) until the situation of monasticism improves in the new world, and alot of the ethnic/juristictional problems are resolved.

I really agree with Brother Seraphim's statement above, especially the second part regarding the jurisdictional mess.

I also think the best evangelism for Orthodoxy will be Orthodox Christians living holy lives out among the people of their communities.

I have read some of the history of Orthodoxy in America, and I know some of the reasons for what has happened (re:jurisdictions), but I still have a hard time understanding the why of it all.

I don't see why we cannot all get together and have one truly autocephalous American Church, recognized by all the rest of the Church.

I know this thread is really not the place for a discussion of the jurisdiction problem, but I agree with Seraphim that it must be resolved before we can dream of an Orthodox North America.
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« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2003, 10:02:29 PM »

Shouldn't America be regarded by Orthodox Christians as a mission field?

Obviously, wherever a Christian finds himself is his mission field, but America knows little about the Church founded by Christ Himself.

About 70 years or so ago in England, Frank Sheed and his wife Maisie started the Catholic Evidence Guild in England, training street preachers to go out and present the Roman Catholic message to a mostly-Protestant audience.

Is there anything wrong with such an approach when used by Orthodox Christians?

We spoke once before on this web site of establishing a "St. Justin Martyr Society."

Can we really do it?

Should we?

Ideas? Comments?

I know there is the Orthodox Answers web site, and it is an excellent idea, but beyond that, what can we do at the person-to-person or "street" level?
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« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2003, 10:21:33 PM »

The more I read and learn, the more I seem to find that Orthodox evangelism is living the Orthodox faith and being ready to go when God says go. Most important is to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling so that when God places us near to those He is calling, they will see in us the image and likeness of God. They will be attracted to God, not to us.

To put it simply, if we do not walk the walk then they will not listen when we talk the talk.

God already knows who will hear his voice and when they will be ready to hear. How He speaks to them is His concern, not ours. The example of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch keeps coming to mind for some reason.

John.

John, you make such an excellent point. If we are not living the Orthodox life, than no amount of talk will convince anyone.
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« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2003, 07:37:41 AM »

The more I read and learn, the more I seem to find that Orthodox evangelism is living the Orthodox faith and being ready to go when God says go. Most important is to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling so that when God places us near to those He is calling, they will see in us the image and likeness of God. They will be attracted to God, not to us.

To put it simply, if we do not walk the walk then they will not listen when we talk the talk.

God already knows who will hear his voice and when they will be ready to hear. How He speaks to them is His concern, not ours. The example of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch keeps coming to mind for some reason.

John.

John, you make such an excellent point. If we are not living the Orthodox life, than no amount of talk will convince anyone.

While all that is true, it is also true that no amount of silence will convey God's message to the world.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Holiness is important, but if we don't tell anyone the Good News of Christ, how will they know?

Besides that, there are plenty of heretics out there leading what appear to be holy lives. And they are spreading their message.
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« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2003, 04:02:11 PM »

Keble does have a very valid point.  I don't see very much active evanglisation (maybe I haven't been looking) among unchurched and non christians (count mormons, JW's here).

However, it is also true that we could put an Orthodox Tract in the hands of every man woman and child in North America and it wouldn't do a lick of good.  What we need is prayer.  The only thing that will convert North America is grace.  

One local NO Church has a big marque in the front lawn of the rectory that says "Want to be Catholic? call xxx-xxxx).  Another local NO church mailed information on the Catholic Church to every address in the phone book.  And another NO church did D2D evangelization.  All three were successful.  One that is in the works at a local NO Parish is to have a group of experts in Catholicism to come and put ads in the paper etc.  advertising an open q/A session on what Catholics Believe.

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« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2003, 07:17:40 PM »

Keble does have a very valid point.  I don't see very much active evanglisation (maybe I haven't been looking) among unchurched and non christians (count mormons, JW's here).

However, it is also true that we could put an Orthodox Tract in the hands of every man woman and child in North America and it wouldn't do a lick of good.  What we need is prayer.  The only thing that will convert North America is grace.  

One local NO Church has a big marque in the front lawn of the rectory that says "Want to be Catholic? call xxx-xxxx).  Another local NO church mailed information on the Catholic Church to every address in the phone book.  And another NO church did D2D evangelization.  All three were successful.  One that is in the works at a local NO Parish is to have a group of experts in Catholicism to come and put ads in the paper etc.  advertising an open q/A session on what Catholics Believe.

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Joe -

Pardon my ignorance, but what does "NO" stand for?

Whoever they are, it sounds like they are at least trying to get the word out. I would be willing to do the things you mentioned above.

I agree with you about prayer, but I also think a few tracts couldn't hurt. A lot of tracts get thrown away, but many of them get read, as well, and start the wheels of the mind turning.
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« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2003, 07:34:42 PM »

It's hard for Orthodox Christians to do "evangelism" because how "evangelism" is done has changed so drastically. Orthodoxy, unfortunately, doesn't really know what to do in a mixed-bag culture like America. Ethnic food festivals are as close as we seem to come to "reaching out" (and then, for some Churches, it's more about money than evangelism). How do we balance the Gospel command to go to everyone with the Orthodox principle that we are to work on ourselves first, before we start trying to convert others? God knows the answer, but we who are the human aspect of the theanthropic body of Christ as still trying to understand that answer.

Hmm, let me give some further thoughts, slightly at odds with what I just said. The hard part is that people simply don't care in America. We as Orthodox Christians know what we have, but it's hard to convey that to others when all they see are things that they don't find very appealing (abstaining from your favorite foods for over half the year? long services standing on your feet? the Church tells you what days you shouldn't have sexual relations? the church preaches poverty and celibacy as higher callings?  etc...)   We can talk all we want about how great Orthodoxy is, about how it is the Church of Christ; we can all invite hundreds to Church. We shouldn't expect a big response, though.

We're going to need to help the culture transform as a whole before we see much movement among individuals on a large scale. But then, the transformation of the culture starts with decisions made by individuals (albeit, individuals in the minority), so we need to focus on these individuals who are likely to embrace what Orthodox is. Again, this comes back to being ourselves: asceticism and being strongly orthodox are what will attract the only people we can attract right now, trying to do "seeker sensitive" stuff, or use "modern evangelistic" methods, will probably be a miserable failure (with some notable exceptions, such as using the internet).  My 2 1/2 cents.
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« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2003, 07:55:44 PM »

Paradosis -

You make some excellent points, and I definitely think we should avoid the pitfalls of modern Evangelical Protestant methods.

But I also think we are obligated to spread the word of Christ to the world, which means to everybody.

As much as I hate to sound like a Baptist, I think we Orthodox do need to be "soul winners."

The fact is, we do not exactly know who is and who isn't open to our message, which is, after all, the message of authentic Christianity, of the love of Christ.

As important as the disciplines of fasting and periodic sexual abstinence are, they are not the core of the message of the Church. We need to be about introducing people to the real Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to real worship in the real Church He founded.

Once they get the Holy Spirit the people will want to get closer to Christ. Then they will fast, then they will abstain, then they will fill our monasteries.
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« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2003, 08:24:36 PM »

Good points /   <--that's the code for a thumbs up at another forum Wink

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« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2003, 08:31:29 PM »

I think the Antiochians do a good job in this country of reaching out and bringing people into the true faith. I have heard of many coming into Orthodoxy via the Antioch church. I think we have to understand that America will never be an Orthodox country. Our culture is far too hedonist and post-modern for that to occur. Our best hope is reach those who are tired of living those ways and bringing them into the fold. Of course, it is important for us to live our lives in a pious manner so that others can see Christ in us. I think this is probably the most effective way to convert people, and not by discussions on internet message boards or sock puppets or any glitzy marketing. There is no substitute for people living their faith. We live in a culture of talk, we love to shoot our mouths off, but we have trouble doing the walk. I guess what I am trying to say is that we Americans can talk a could good game, but we are lousy at actually finishing.
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« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2003, 08:31:50 PM »

Linus:

I take it as a good sign for your soul you don't know what NO means.  NO means Novus Ordo (always say NO to the NO;))

The ways mentioned are met with moderate success.  When paired with the sheer holiness of Orthodoxy, I think it would be more successful.  Whether they mention it or not most people realize they are missing somthing spiritually.

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« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2003, 08:39:45 PM »

Thanks, Joe.

I do think we need to obey Jesus' command to preach the Gospel to everyone, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

I would like to get involved in doing just that, but it is difficult to know how to start.

If I were a Baptist, it would be easy. I could just take my Bible and a few tracts and go out and start talking to people, like I did when I was with Campus Crusade (briefly).

At times, I am tempted to do just that.

Is anybody else doing anything to reach people?

What do you do?
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« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2003, 08:42:35 PM »



What do you do?

I am trying to live a pious and holy life. For me, that is the little that I can do right now.
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« Reply #43 on: April 22, 2003, 08:48:22 PM »



What do you do?

I am trying to live a pious and holy life. For me, that is the little that I can do right now.

That's great, sinjin. And prayer is definitely a good work that will not be forgotten at the Judgment.

Some folks do not have the temperament to get out and meet and greet people and preach to them. If that is not their calling, then they should not be doing it. They can do other things, like supporting through prayer those who do evangelize , etc.

I just wonder if anyone here is involved in some kind of outreach and what it is they are doing in that regard.
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« Reply #44 on: April 23, 2003, 12:30:55 AM »

It is difficult to compete with the simplified message of "mere Christianity" in its now sleek, easy-to-swallow form.
As a fundamentalist, all you have to understand are the basics of Christianity and make JESUS CHRIST your
personal Lord and Savior in a one-time proclamation and you are eternally saved because "once saved always
saved".

It fits message fits PERFECTLY with the "we have to have it now" fast-food society that prevails in the United
States.  They really have no idea about traditional, historical Christianity and have been taught from conception
that we are some paganized form of Christian apostasy that lost the truth long ago with Constantine.  Christian
history for them started about 100 years ago when when the fundamentalist papers were published.  There is no
respect for ancient traditions, in fact, there is an aversion to them because they have been convinced that they
have all been added by men "traditions of men" and they practice what was the "pristine" Christianity before we
corrupted it, but very few would even look into Church history to find out the REAL truth that has been kept from
them.

I have tried to evangelize fundamentalists on another board (theCBBS.com) and after being there for quite some
time they now delete my posts that defend our traditional beliefs that are heavily under attack there and they
just told me that my posts are not welcome.  They say that I am deceived.  That is the mindset we are dealing
with ...

Peace and God Bless!
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« Reply #45 on: April 23, 2003, 12:47:56 AM »

This is just what they posted about me claiming that * I * was the one acting uncharitably when they were the ones attacking as wolves.  Unbelievable.

We should not allow posting of pagan and false doctrine as though it were the truth.

Much of the world thinks that the RCC is the Christian church and is either being led straight to hell by this misunderstanding or knowing the history of the RCC wants nothing to do with Christianity at all because of them.

Discussion of the RCC should not enter into every thread.

RCC Doctrine should not be posted here as though it were the Gospel of Jesus Christ and can be used to mislead the unstudied or unknowng.

Our resident Catholic, does not contribute to this board in a manner that reflects the fruit of the Spirit. I find him aggressive, hostile, and rude to all who do not agree with his false doctrine.

The discussions that have gone on here do not amount to honest apologetics but to tiresome endless promotion of the Catholic religion, which most here consider to be a false religion, and I for one agree with Kindgo and the others who would like to see it go elsewhere.

There are people dying each moment of each day who do not know the precious name of Jesus and the Salvation of the bare cross and empty tomb. Do we really believe that we have the luxury of time to waste that has been dedicated to this endless and relentless vain babbling on catholocism?

Father God, In the name of Jesus purge the enemy and all its distractions from our midst and help us to be about your business. Cause to strife and contention that the enemy has brought among the brothers and sisiters on this board to cease immediately; help us not cast our pearls before swine and to know when to shake the dust from our feet and move on with the work you have called us to do... bringing freedom to the captives, healing to the sick and the Gospel to the poor.

In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Name above All Names, I pray. Amen!

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« Reply #46 on: April 23, 2003, 01:00:18 AM »

Father God, In the name of Jesus purge the enemy and all its distractions from our midst and help us to be about your business. Cause to strife and contention that the enemy has brought among the brothers and sisiters on this board to cease immediately; help us not cast our pearls before swine and to know when to shake the dust from our feet and move on with the work you have called us to do... bringing freedom to the captives, healing to the sick and the Gospel to the poor.

In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Name above All Names, I pray. Amen!


They call that a prayer?  Sheesh...

Yes, we ask you, O good Father, Who loves goodness, lead us not into temptation, nor let any iniquity get the rule over us but deliver us from worthless works and form the thoughts, motions, sights and touch thereof. Destroy the tempter and drive him away. Rebuke also his movements implanted in us, and cut off from us all impulses which drag us into sin. And deliver us by Your holy power, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom the glory, the honour, the dominion, and adoration are due unto You, with Him and the Holy Spirit, the Life-giver, Who is of one essence with You now, and at all times, and unto the age of all ages. Amen.

Copts are better...  Cool
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« Reply #47 on: April 23, 2003, 03:38:47 AM »

Linus I know exactly what you mean.  I used to carry my KJV with me like it was my left lung.  I didn't go into the grocery store even without carying it and it was always full of little tracts put out by Chick such as "The Death Cookie" and "Last Rites".  When I became Catholic I carried my Duay with me wherever I went and it was always stuffed full of extra copies of "Confession of a Roman Catholic" and "The Catholic Church has the Answer."  Now that I'm seriously thinking about becoming Orthodox, I don't know.

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« Reply #48 on: April 23, 2003, 06:56:51 AM »



What do you do?

I am trying to live a pious and holy life. For me, that is the little that I can do right now.

That's great, sinjin. And prayer is definitely a good work that will not be forgotten at the Judgment.

Some folks do not have the temperament to get out and meet and greet people and preach to them. If that is not their calling, then they should not be doing it. They can do other things, like supporting through prayer those who do evangelize , etc.

I just wonder if anyone here is involved in some kind of outreach and what it is they are doing in that regard.

I am the newly-appointed Charity and Outreach Chairman in my parish, a new position.  Thus far I have my hands full with pushing the monthly food drive for the needy.  Father announces the date in the Sunday bulletin, I bring the food barrel to the narthex for that Sunday, the people each bring one non-perishable food item for the needy and fill the barrel, and I deliver the foodstuffs to the local Emergency Food Pantry in the name of the parish the next day.  The amount of food delivered has more than tripled in the past three months, and Father only became Acting Rector in January and asked me to take this position in February.

I've suggested guest speakers, etc., as additional forms of outreach, with ads being placed everywhere, e.g., college bulletin boards, local ethnic stores and newpapers; adult education; teaching English as a second language (thus far I'm the only volunteer), but things move slowly-- some parishioners already complain that there are too many changes since Fr. Michael's arrival.

Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #49 on: April 23, 2003, 07:53:59 AM »

"I have tried to evangelize fundamentalists on another board (theCBBS.com) and after being there for quite some
time they now delete my posts that defend our traditional beliefs that are heavily under attack there and they
just told me that my posts are not welcome."


Welcome to the club!!
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« Reply #50 on: April 23, 2003, 10:54:08 AM »

Some simple ways to evangelise that anyone--and because of their simplicity and ease, everyone--should consider doing:

- Invite people to Church. Even if you don't think they'll come, invite them. If they say no, then let God deal with them, but it's our duty to at least try to get them there. If they aren't Orthodox but are regular church-goers, invite them to Vespers.

- Don't pound them over the head with Orthodox rhetoric or talk about how great Orthodoxy is in a way that makes it sound like a sales pitch. Let them explore for themselves, and if they show interest, follow up. Otherwise, don't pressure them. Make sure they know that you're there, but don't insist on telling them 101 things that you think are great about Orthodoxy.

- When you arrive at Church, park your car far away. I'm serious. Some people--usually first time visitors--will look for any excuse to not attend Church; if they can tell themselves that they "can't find a parking spot" then they will leave. I know this sounds dum, and that they weren't serious to begin with, but it's not dum, and who cares if they are serious! Do we say the same things about someone who has a life-threatening illness but won't go to the hospital? We can't allow Satan to dissuade them from going into the hospital. If they don't attend, let it be because of them, not because of us (ie. not because we took up all the parking spaces and they'll have to walk a distance). This one applies especially to the youth, and obviously doesn't apply as much to the elderly.

- Greet new people if they look like they want to be greeted. There's two mistakes commonly made here: people fall all over a new person who actually just wants to be an "unnoticed observer," or people don't say anything to someone who's looking for the love and warmth of Christ. We need to think about what this person appears to want before we avoid them or start talking their ear off. If they aren't interested, don't both them (except maybe to say hello or nod)! If they are very interested, invite them to dinner or something similar.

- One thing we learned in "seeker sensitive" classes that I think is applicable in Orthodoxy as well is related to the last point. It is said that new comers will not usually stay in a Church where they do not know at least 2 people or two families. It just makes them feel isolated and like they are outsiders. I'm not saying that we should become charismatics and start hugging everyone and stop in the middle of the service to have a "meet and greet" time. We should, however, each take notice of a new comer, and consider getting to know them, or at least making contact.

- I find it hard to believe that Churches still do not have web sites on the internet. Goodness, you can get them for free, and you don't even need programming knowledge. You can make a church website on geocities in one night's sitting, and you can update it in a very short time each week. In an age when so many people are online, I don't understand how some Churches still don't have websites. There's also the fact that the websites (even if not updated regularly) will at least have service times, directions, etc. on it. I learnt something sad early on as I was exploring Orthodoxy: Priests, generally, don't answer phones, and they don't return your calls either (even when they have an answering machine). One Greek Orthodox Church I called had Holy Week Services discussed on the answering machine...  I called in NOVEMBER. There was no mention of normal service times for the rest of the year. This is exactly what will keep people from becoming Orthodox. I know, it sounds dum and like they aren't very serious. Again, we can't let Satan win by planting seeds in a fickle person. If they are going to not become Orthodox, let it not be because of the shortcomings of we Orthodox (though they be many).

- Give new comers something. When I was at Nicholas' church a few weeks ago, I was amazed. Even though they knew we were Orthodox, they gave us a brochure and a cassette tape. Who gives out cassette tapes? That's an expensive thing to do, but they did it. I'm not saying that we need to give out such things to every new comer, but giving them something will help them remember the church and Orthodoxy throughout the week, and might make them come back the next week.

Ok, I'm probably sounding like Warren's Purpose Driven Church, I'll stop now. Smiley


PS. Just to clarify regarding the cassette, it wasn't like a short sermon cassette tape, which costs a buck.. it was a tape of a Liturgy, it was the same tape they were selling in their bookstore for something like $8.
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« Reply #51 on: April 23, 2003, 11:05:28 AM »

One Greek Orthodox Church I called had Holy Week Services discussed on the answering machine...  I called in NOVEMBER.

The Really Old Calendar?  Tongue

(Sorry, couldn't resist!)
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« Reply #52 on: April 23, 2003, 11:12:36 AM »

:cheeky:

A great point too! Evangelism requires some warmth and humor. Smiley If it's a constant stream of doctrines and historical happenings, they're probably gonna tune out quick (unless they're a geek like me Grin )
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« Reply #53 on: April 23, 2003, 12:20:51 PM »

You all have posted some great stuff!

Catholicious got himself run off another Fundamentalist web site (his new specialty), so he deserves our applause. :disco:

I like what Hypo is doing with his church. I am actually certified to teach ESL (English as a Second Language), so that may be an option in my church, as well.

Paradosis had some absolutely great suggestions.

I think one of the things that attracted me to my church as a Protestant seeker was the way people recognized me, welcomed me, but then did not attempt to smother or embarass me.

One thing that troubles me is the scarcity of Orthodox churches in many parts of this country.

Suppose I witness to someone and discover he is interested in the faith. Where do I send him? Often there is just nowhere!

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« Reply #54 on: April 24, 2003, 12:54:21 PM »

This is my 500th post!

 :disco:
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« Reply #55 on: April 24, 2003, 02:18:05 PM »

You all have posted some great stuff!

Catholicious got himself run off another Fundamentalist web site (his new specialty), so he deserves our applause. :disco:


Hehe, thanks for the props Linus!  Yeah I must admit that I am getting pretty good at getting kicked off of sites!  I guess they want to remain in their little glass bubble so there they will remain.  They do not realize there is a whole other world out there!   Grin
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« Reply #56 on: May 01, 2003, 09:58:27 PM »

Here is a quote from St. Jerome which I think is really applicable to modern Protestantism:

We ought to remain in the Church that was founded by the Apostles and continues to this day. If ever you hear of any that are called Christians taking their name not from the Lord Jesus Christ, but from some other, for instance, Marcionites, Valentinians . . . you may be sure that you have not the Church of Christ there, but the synagogue of Antichrist. For the fact that they took rise after the foundation of the Church is proof that they are those whose coming the Apostle foretold. And let them not flatter themselves if they think they have scriptural authority for their assertions, since the devil himself quoted Scripture, and the essence of the Scriptures is not the letter, but the meaning. Otherwise, if we follow the letter, we too can concoct a new dogma and assert that such persons as wear shoes and have two coats must not be received into the Church (quoted in The Way of the Fathers, by Mike Aquilina; Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2000; page 34). I added the underlining for emphasis.
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« Reply #57 on: May 03, 2003, 08:54:05 AM »

Here is a quote from St. Jerome which I think is really applicable to modern Protestantism:

We ought to remain in the Church that was founded by the Apostles and continues to this day. If ever you hear of any that are called Christians taking their name not from the Lord Jesus Christ, but from some other, for instance, Marcionites, Valentinians . . . you may be sure that you have not the Church of Christ there, but the synagogue of Antichrist. For the fact that they took rise after the foundation of the Church is proof that they are those whose coming the Apostle foretold. And let them not flatter themselves if they think they have scriptural authority for their assertions, since the devil himself quoted Scripture, and the essence of the Scriptures is not the letter, but the meaning. Otherwise, if we follow the letter, we too can concoct a new dogma and assert that such persons as wear shoes and have two coats must not be received into the Church (quoted in The Way of the Fathers, by Mike Aquilina; Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2000; page 34). I added the underlining for emphasis.

Anglicans have been saying this for a long time, but its use in evangelism is perilous.

It isn't scripture, so for a Protestant it does not get automatic assent. It relies not on Jerome's authority as a church father, but on ordinary reasonability. As such, to advance it you have to say things that are also ordinarily reasonable.

Also, a canny response would point out that the passage doesn't say not to quote scripture, but rather that exegesis is also important. It doesn't stop anyone from assenting to the proposition and still demanding that all exegesis be done from scripture, denying the use of tradition as an authority.
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« Reply #58 on: May 03, 2003, 08:32:06 PM »

Here is a quote from St. Jerome which I think is really applicable to modern Protestantism:

We ought to remain in the Church that was founded by the Apostles and continues to this day. If ever you hear of any that are called Christians taking their name not from the Lord Jesus Christ, but from some other, for instance, Marcionites, Valentinians . . . you may be sure that you have not the Church of Christ there, but the synagogue of Antichrist. For the fact that they took rise after the foundation of the Church is proof that they are those whose coming the Apostle foretold. And let them not flatter themselves if they think they have scriptural authority for their assertions, since the devil himself quoted Scripture, and the essence of the Scriptures is not the letter, but the meaning. Otherwise, if we follow the letter, we too can concoct a new dogma and assert that such persons as wear shoes and have two coats must not be received into the Church (quoted in The Way of the Fathers, by Mike Aquilina; Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2000; page 34). I added the underlining for emphasis.

Anglicans have been saying this for a long time, but its use in evangelism is perilous.

It isn't scripture, so for a Protestant it does not get automatic assent. It relies not on Jerome's authority as a church father, but on ordinary reasonability. As such, to advance it you have to say things that are also ordinarily reasonable.

Also, a canny response would point out that the passage doesn't say not to quote scripture, but rather that exegesis is also important. It doesn't stop anyone from assenting to the proposition and still demanding that all exegesis be done from scripture, denying the use of tradition as an authority.


The passage relies on St. Jerome's authority as a Father of the Church, its "reasonability," and on the fact that it is true.

Why would a Church Father like St. Jerome say one should not quote Scripture? Of course that is not what he is saying.

He is saying that those who quote Scripture to support innovations in doctrine, to support rebellion against "the Church that was founded by the Apostles and continues to this day," are simply wrong.

Notice that I quoted the passage from St. Jerome on an Orthodox web site, where I expected that most who viewed it would accept it at face value.

When I discuss various topics with Evangelical Protestants, I generally draw my arguments from the Bible and restrict my use of patristic writings to those of the Apostolic Fathers. It is usually easier to convince Protestants to believe them than it is to get them to believe anyone who lived after Constantine legalized Christianity, even St. Jerome.
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« Reply #59 on: May 05, 2003, 08:43:59 PM »

Over on another thread there has been an on-going discussion of the creation of a single, universally-recognized, truly autocephalous American Orthodox Church.

I am one of those who believe such a Church is not only desirable but necessary.

Have any of you ever gotten another person interested in Orthodoxy only to find that the only Church near enough for that person to visit is a highly ethnic Church, with liturgy only in a non-English tongue?

Would the creation of an American Orthodox Church help with this problem, or would it continue?

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« Reply #60 on: May 05, 2003, 09:15:16 PM »

Such a plan would help ease the problem, but I think it'd still be a problem. Where I live, for example, there are over a dozen Orthodox Churches within driving distance. In some areas of the country, on the other hand, there are no Orthodox Churches within driving distance. In both of these two situations, the creation of one autocephalous Church (which all current North American Orthodox Churches included) wouldn't help (in the way being discussed at least). I suppose, however, that such a unified Church could better plan, start, and support missions, which would help.

Regarding getting people interested, I can only think of two examples from my own life. One friend of mine, who was a Philosophy/Religion student at Baylor, said he tried to go to an Orthodox Church but that it was a Serbian Church which (literally) looked down upon outsiders (from what I can tell, this parish isn't under a Serbian bishop, but is just sort of "loose"). The only other thing that I can think of was when my friend visited an OCA Church in the town he lived in. While a few people were pleasant, the atmosphere was spiritually dead. (I've been to this Church, and can understand what he felt, though it's not the priest's fault, he just has too much to do and not enough resource or cooperation to do it).

I think this 2nd type of Church is as big a problem as the "ethnic parish". I've been to parishes (mostly OCA) where the Priest and parishioners were very happy to have a visitor... but you got the feeling that the parish was dying. Perhaps this is just a local phenomenon (many young people left Western PA when industry went south decades ago), but I've been to a number of parishes that seem to be a generation or less away from closing their doors. If a visitor goes to a parish like this, it's probably not the vibrant, living Orthodoxy that he will see, but rather an overworked priest (trying to rotate between multiple parishes that have maybe 25 attending on sundays) and people who seem to be past the point of really being "on fire". For someone new to Orthodoxy, who can't recognize the beauty or depth, it will just seem like rituals performed by a dying Church.
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« Reply #61 on: May 05, 2003, 09:30:09 PM »

Good points, Paradosis.

I guess it does depend a lot upon the local situation. I was very much blessed to land in a vibrant mission parish with a very mixed congregation: Russians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Arabs, Greeks, and run-of-the-mill Americans (converts) like me.

When I started there we were in a little storefront and had maybe 30 people in attendance at Divine Liturgy. But it was great!

We quickly outgrew the storefront and last year moved into a much bigger building that used to be a Protestant church. New people keep coming from somewhere! I used to know absolutely everyone in my church; now I see many people I don't recognize. Glory to Jesus Christ!

I have been to the other kind of Orthodox Church, however. I once visited a Greek church whose membership seemed to be aging and dying before my eyes. There were almost no young people there (maybe a few). The liturgy was in Greek, which was understood by the elderly parishioners.

The church building was lovely and the location excellent. I couldn't help thinking, "Man, this could be a great church if someone would reach out to the local community and have an English liturgy!"
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« Reply #62 on: May 05, 2003, 09:41:18 PM »

America is an interesting place and somewhat unique.  I think it's okay to have foreign languages in the services proportional to the percentage of folks actually born in the motherland who attend the parish, IF another Church is within close proximity that does all English. For instance, a Greek Church in Kalamazoo, MI should not be doing 75% of its liturgy in Greek, and even if 75% of the people were born in Greece, it doesn't matter since there is no other Orthodox Church in 30 miles.

The fact is that mission comes first, period.  Taking care of the immigrants is a form of mission but spreading the Church among new members is the whole point of Church in the first place.  If there is no English parish around, then the local __________ (fill in ethnic blank) Orthodox Church needs to switch primarily to English.

Even ethnic congregations need to reach out. The Bible is clear: you don't do mission, you don't get blessed.

In Christ,

anastasios
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« Reply #63 on: May 05, 2003, 09:48:18 PM »

America is an interesting place and somewhat unique.  I think it's okay to have foreign languages in the services proportional to the percentage of folks actually born in the motherland who attend the parish, IF another Church is within close proximity that does all English. For instance, a Greek Church in Kalamazoo, MI should not be doing 75% of its liturgy in Greek, and even if 75% of the people were born in Greece, it doesn't matter since there is no other Orthodox Church in 30 miles.

The fact is that mission comes first, period.  Taking care of the immigrants is a form of mission but spreading the Church among new members is the whole point of Church in the first place.  If there is no English parish around, then the local __________ (fill in ethnic blank) Orthodox Church needs to switch primarily to English.

Even ethnic congregations need to reach out. The Bible is clear: you don't do mission, you don't get blessed.

In Christ,

anastasios

Amen!

Beautifully put. Grin
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