Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What errancy yields in the East

David (not David Bryan), I'm simultaneously gladdened and saddened to see your comment about mission work.
Gladdened b/c I believe your Gospel is a false one and I don't want it proliferated.
Confused b/c there are hundreds of people groups out there who've never heard the name of Christ. Do you think that they'll be "attracted...to Christianity (by) the fact that Christians (act) like, well... Christians" when there aren't any anywhere near them?
Also, since when has "well, it didn't work" been a valid excuse for disobeying a direct command (Matthew 28:19-20) by Jesus Christ?

29 comments:

Lucian said...

The Church is the Ark, and God led the animals to the Ark, He didn't sent Noah to go looking for them. And the same is still happening today (against all our minuses).

John said...

There are some historical issues. First under the yoke of Islam and then under Communism, open evangelisation was very difficult, and couldn't be too open. This of course harkens back to the first three centuries under persecution where things had to be done softly and carefully. Naturally, Russia sending missions abroad under communism was out of the question.

Still, much has been done through the centuries, both with Islamic evangelisation, and greenfields and of course Greeks and Russians fleeing persection have brought the faith to the west.

Rhology said...

First under the yoke of Islam and then under Communism, open evangelisation was very difficult, and couldn't be too open.

Understood, but that's hardly a problem now, is it?
Also, I don't see a clause in Matthew 28 about "unless you're persecuted". Seems to me that's the exact opposite of Christ's message.
What I DO see is a lot of excuses and a lot of disobedience. That wouldn't bother me if there were a genuine desire to change and do better, but talking to y'all, I get the exact opposite impression.

Soldier4Him said...

Just because you will be persecuted is NEVER a valid excuse, look at Paul, most of the places he went he was kicked out of the city, if he was "lucky", In most of the other cases he was falsely accused, beaten and then at least once stoned, simply because there are governmental decrees that say you shall not teach the Gospel is no excuse.

Will you die? Maybe but then you will be in Heaven with God and what can man do to you then? Nothing.

Also Lucian you seem to have an interesting view of how evanglism works. It is not as if we are going hunting for people to save and then saving them. No, we are going to the places that have no one speaking the Truth of the Gospel and proclaiming it, who ever comes to the "Ark" as you call it though I will call the "Ark" salvation rather than the church is God's business, to which I agree with you, but Jesus himself to his diciples to go make more disciples through out the world, that means for some their field is in their own back yards, but others have the calling from God to go to those places that have not yet heard. It is like fishing we go where there is no fisherman yet, God will decide how man come to the net.

John said...

"Also, I don't see a clause in Matthew 28 about "unless you're persecuted".

The point is, you don't do things the same way under persecution. Everybody going out the first day and getting killed serves nobody. If the 12 had gone and gotten killed on day one, we wouldn't be having this discussion now.

While we all might wonder why they didn't go evangelise the world in the 2nd century, people are a victim of their culture and background.

Even still, did you know Orthodoxy went to America in the 5th century? Still beat you guys by well over a millenium.

Rhology said...

Whoa, cool. No, I didn't know about the church in CT.

To say they "beat us" is a little misleading. Weren't too many Calvinists around at the time.

Finally, it's not going to kill you to admit that you're wrong here. It cashes out to the same history, but God is either sovereign and to be obeyed or He's not. If He wants to let everyone die and then start another church somehow, He can do that. Let's not play games and minimise the commandments and how bad we break them. Doing that leads us into jacked-up soteriology like what we find in EOC and RCC, to say nothing of, say, Islam.

John said...

Not evangelising, and doing it covertly are not the same thing. We all know Americans like to always go in guns blazing, but it begs the question to assume that is always the right way.

Rhology said...

Your "guns blazing" comment is pitiful in its ethnocentrism and ignorance. You're squirming, and that's pretty clear.
And Matthew 28:19-20 says what it says, to everyone, not just Americans.

John said...

Are you enjoying judging from your comfy armchair?

Now go read what the Orthodox faithful have endured.

I hope to see you on the news at the Kaaba next week preaching Christ,

Soldier4Him said...

@ John
But if the 12 had gotten killed the first day they spoke out it would prove that God is not in control over people, instead the results show that God's Will, will be done, no matter what obstacles come in the way, remember, Paul was stoned, basically declared dead, but raised him from the dead, it does not matter if we are killed, now I don't think that everyone is Paul, but simply because we will die for speaking out does not give us an excuse to not speak out.

John said...

Reality check folks. More Orthodox have died for the faith than any other branch of Christendom. So don't go lecturing us about that. More than 50 millions in the 20th century alone.

Rhology said...

Self-righteousness is not the best fulfillment of James 2, apparently your favorite passage.

John said...

Physician, heal thyself.

David said...

Rhology and Soldier4Him,

I think that both of you are exercising a little bit of self-righteousness on your part here. Read the things that the Orthodox have endured for their Faith in Christ from the earliest days of Christianity to this very day. While I was in Iraq, an Orthodox Church in a neighborhood under our control was attacked by a suicide bomber, killing about a dozen people, on one of Orthodoxy's holiest days (August 15, Assumption). An Orthodox Priest, Father (or, rather, Saint and Holy Martyr) Boulos Iskander (in English: Paul Alexander) was kidnapped while walking home from a Church service and beheaded. The Christians of Iraq, Orthodox, Assyrian, and Catholic, live martyrdom (an essential -- perhaps the most essential -- aspect of Christian life, according to Christ himself) everyday. Would you dare criticize them because they don't go out and "actively" evangelize?

Read about the state of the Church under the atheist Communists in the Soviet Union in the 20th century. Orthodox Christians had to worship in secret. They were banned from teaching their children about the Faith. Bishops, especially, were targets; nearly a hundred of them were killed at once in one event. Read about Butovo Field, where the KGB executed tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians because of their Faith.

Read about the persecutions by Muslims upon Orthodox Christians, not just in Iraq, but in Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere.

Read about the persecutions of the Orthodox under the Nazi co-conspirators in Croatia and Serbia; and later, God forgive us, with America's endorsement, in Kosovo. Read about what's still going on there; the mass deportations, the imprisonment of monastics and clergy; the destruction of ancient holy sites, churches, and monasteries; all under, again God forgive us, the "watchful" eye of NATO and KFOR.

As John said, the 20th century, called "the century of martyrs" by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, has given Christ approximately 50 million new martyrs from the Orthodox Church. How many has your Church given?

It's easy to lean back now and criticize them for their shortcomings, but until you've been there yourself this is nothing but hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

John said...

I might add that I started the Christian life in the Church of Christ Boston Movement. And anybody who knows anything about that knows that Matthew 28:19-20 is their central verse. I was taught that the whole lot of you are all going to hell for disobeying this verse.

Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt. Left that insanity. Anyone who wants to go around judging others about this are just Boston Movement all over again.

Rhology said...

I prefer to measure numbers in terms of people who actually believe, not people who are "born into the faith", as if such a thing could happen. And Evangelicals have given many, many, just so you know. The main reason for that is that Evs actually do missions.

Remember, it's not ME making the original assertion; it's an EO priest and one of the founders of oc.net. I tend to take priests' statements as a little weightier than an anonymous commenter and a soldier (though no offense to soldiers, obviously, but you're a bit young).

Finally, I'm quite familiar with the BC of C; a very cute little cult, they are. We have some around here and I've interacted with them multiple times. They were surprised to learn that we believe in the Trinity. Then my friend said, "Yeah, our church is named 'Trinity Baptist'." Funny.

David said...

I prefer to measure numbers in terms of people who actually believe,

And why do you think that these nearly 50 million were killed? Certainly not for renouncing their faith...

not people who are "born into the faith", as if such a thing could happen.

Nobody is "born into the faith." Some may be blessed enough to be born to parents of Faith who care enough for their young souls to have them baptized and chrismated and brought regularly to Liturgy for Communion. But everybody eventually has to choose whether or not to actually believe and practice themselves. Those who have been brought into the Church at a young age, though, receive the spiritual strength given them by the Lord through the Sacraments from infancy which, God willing, helps to guide their decision.

And Evangelicals have given many, many, just so you know. The main reason for that is that Evs actually do missions.

Really? When? Where? I named specific events, places, and numbers. I can name specific people if you'd like. And the events and places I named aren't even a portion. There's much, much more. There's the anti-Christian riots in India; the atheist Communists in Ethiopia and Eritrea in the 1970s. There's the Boxer Rebellion in China, in which the Chinese Orthodox Church (formerly an autocepholous jurisdiction in its own right) was entirely wiped out. I wouldn't know where to stop if you got me started. Christ's Church is a persecuted one, as he himself promised it would be. Can you affirm the same?

Remember, it's not ME making the original assertion; it's an EO priest and one of the founders of oc.net. I tend to take priests' statements as a little weightier than an anonymous commenter and a soldier (though no offense to soldiers, obviously, but you're a bit young).

And that's fine; you take my words with as much or as little salt as you wish. It's unfortunate that this Priest would say something like this. Apparently he's unfamiliar with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (www.ocmc.org), the mass conversions of late in Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda especially), the great re-evangelization ongoing on the Slavic world, etc., etc. etc. As I said, we have several individuals right in my own small parish church (my Parish Priest's daughter and a family of five) who are heading out soon to do missionary work abroad and quite a few (most of them college students) who do so right here in Texas. I can't think of a time in the 3+ years I've been attending this parish that we haven't had at least four or five catechumens (individuals awaiting baptism). I understand that this may not be the case with every single Orthodox Church, but I've visited enough around the country to know it's not entirely abnormal.

Rhology said...

And why do you think that these nearly 50 million were killed?

B/c in the EOC, ppl are Serbian and therefore Orthodox, or Armenian and therefore Orthodox. Etc. I've seen it too many dozens of times to be persuaded otherwise. This muddled thinking afflicts Americans too (ie, one is born to a Baptist family in TX, therefore one is Baptist), but not nearly to the extent it does EO-dox and Romanists.
So I'd bet lots of money the majority weren't actual faithful and practicing Orthodox, but rather members of an Orthodox ethnic group. Doesn't make their deaths any less evil or tragic; it DOES affect whether they're martyrs. But there's no way to make a final observation one way or the other, so the point is sort of moot. All that to say that it's highly questionable to claim so many martyrs as this.

Anyway, you're wondering about Protestant martyrs? Ever heard of Foxe's Book of Martyrs? How about Brother Yun's "The Heavenly Man" and the Chinese house church movement, which has more true believing members than American Protestant churches and who are persecuted widely by the Chinese gov't? "Through Gates of Splendor"? Bonhoeffer and the Protestant resistance to the 3rd Reich? Adoniram Judson? Voice of the Martyrs?
It looks like this is more a case of clash of cultures; each is ignorant of the other's history. I was foolish to take the priest's word for it, just as you were foolish to call into question how many Protestant martyrs there have been. I will learn from my mistake (ie, I won't trust EO priests anymore) and hope you will too.


Nobody is "born into the faith."

This seems to be a case of your Western sensibilities conflicting with how EOxy is actually lived out in most of the world. I don't know why anyone would accept your word over and against what most people in your (allegedly unified) church believe.


Peace,
Rhology

John said...

It's hard to be sure how much we can really trust in Foxes. And when both sides are slaughtering each other, its a bit like casualties of war.

While the "heavenly man" suffered, he eventually escaped to the west didn't he?

If people are "Serbian and therefore Orthodox", that isn't always a bad thing. After all, the Jews were Jewish and therefore Jews. Nobody complains about that.

Concerning being "born into the faith", I think David is saying that you are baptised into the faith, not born into it. So we have cradle Orthodox, but not womb Orthodox.

Rhology said...

And when both sides are slaughtering each other, its a bit like casualties of war.

Yes, and those who die for the faith are martyrs. That's what "martyr" means.


While the "heavenly man" suffered, he eventually escaped to the west didn't he?

I think he did, yes. And his book tells the story of many who didn't.


If people are "Serbian and therefore Orthodox", that isn't always a bad thing. After all, the Jews were Jewish and therefore Jews.

Except that the OT covenant is not the same as the NT covenant.
Besides, Romans 9:6-7 - For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.”

John said...

Martyr means "witness", and I'm not sure how much of a witness you are when the other side happens to get you before you get them. Not that I'm saying that is applying to all those protestants, but the witness is soured by the spectacle of two Christian groups trying to slaughter each other.

"Except that the OT covenant is not the same as the NT covenant."

They both call people to faithfulness within their respective institutions.

"Besides, Romans 9:6-7 - For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel"

That doesn't make the fact of institutional Israel, with wheat and tares, to be bad in itself.

Rhology said...

Oh come now, John. "Martyr" does not mean "witness" IN ENGLISH. This is a false cognate.
I didn't use the Greek word.


And I never claimed institutional Israel was bad in itself. I'm explaining the diff between the invisible and the visible church in the Bible. I'm not at all sure that concept exists in EO theology; if it doesn't, so much the worse for EOC.

John said...

"Martyr" does not mean "witness" IN ENGLISH."

I thought you wanted to claim martyrs in the historic Christian sense, not just chalk up a head count.

"And I never claimed institutional Israel was bad in itself."

But you seemed to be claiming that institutional Serbian Orthodoxy was bad in itself. You don't seem to want to deal with the claims you make.

Rhology said...

Your statement about martyrs and head count...I think you've lost track even of what you were trying to say.

And yes, institutionalised Orthodoxy is bad in and of itself. For a few reasons:
1) Orthodoxy's Gospel is heretical and does not save. So that's pretty bad.
2) The point I've been making is that you attempted to justify the institution with a parallel to OT Israel when entry into and participation in the institution is significantly different. In OT Israel, entry was by circumcision and participation by partaking in the institutions, the rituals, the Temple, the sacrifices, the feasts and offerings, etc. So, you had to be there, in the country. The NT is totally different - entry into the cov comm is by God's justifying and regenerating the person by grace thru faith, not thru an outward act like circumcision (or baptism). Participation is with other believers, anywhere, forming a church body under elders and fulfilling the NT terms of church.
3) How does a situation where most of the ppl who claim to be born into the institution and in reality have virtually no commitment to it other than in name honor the Lord Jesus Christ?
It doesn't.

David said...

Rhology,

Your argument (and, honestly, I'm not really sure what the implications you're trying to get across are) here is essentially meaningless. Being "Greek and therefore Orthodox" or just "Orthodox Christian" in name only is not in any way unique to Orthodox Christians.

I'm from the South; I've met a great deal of people who are Southern and therefore Baptist, even if the last time they saw the inside of a church was their uncle's funeral five years ago. This isn't just a Christian problem either; the majority of Iraqis I knew were Iraqi and therefore Muslim, even though they drank alcohol (forbidden in Islam) and didn't pray even once much less five times a day.

That said, I'm not sure what all of this has to do with martyrs. The martyrs are not called martyrs simply because they were baptized Orthodox as babies. If that were the case, Stalin would be a saint! I'm talking about people killed for practicing their Faith. I'm talking about the Christians under Communism and Islam, the vast majority of them Orthodox, who have suffered and died for Christ in the 20th century. This is not the same as saying "he was Armenian, therefore he was Orthodox, therefore, when he was killed, he became a martyr." That's garbage logic that you're trying to attribute to us.

Might I suggest that you actually read about some of the events I listed for you previously rather than working from prejudice and supposition?

David said...

1) Orthodoxy's Gospel is heretical and does not save. So that's pretty bad.

Elucidate on "does not save." How do you know this? Please present your evidence for this statement.

2) The point I've been making is that you attempted to justify the institution with a parallel to OT Israel when entry into and participation in the institution is significantly different. In OT Israel, entry was by circumcision and participation by partaking in the institutions, the rituals, the Temple, the sacrifices, the feasts and offerings, etc. So, you had to be there, in the country. The NT is totally different - entry into the cov comm is by God's justifying and regenerating the person by grace thru faith, not thru an outward act like circumcision (or baptism). Participation is with other believers, anywhere, forming a church body under elders and fulfilling the NT terms of church.

Is it really "totally different" or, perhaps, Protestants have simply departed that far from Apostolic teaching?

3) How does a situation where most of the ppl who claim to be born into the institution and in reality have virtually no commitment to it other than in name honor the Lord Jesus Christ?

Are you really claiming that "most" Orthodox Christians do not actually practice their faith?

Rhology said...

Hi David,

Here's a good comparison. Let's say Osama bin Laden nukes Texas, whose pop in 08 was ~25 million, with most of those of Protestant background. So, do the Protestants get 15 million martyrs for our ledger?
I'm saying I doubt the counting of them as martyrs. Sure, some of them were practicing, no problem. But most?
And if I'm killed during a mugging in France by a Muslim thug, am I a martyr? What if I'm a Christian US soldier KIA in Iraq? The boundaries are very fuzzy when you start talking about these massive countrywide military actions in Orthodox countries.
I'm not saying that's all of them but I'm saying that's at least some of them.
You can have the last word; I'm not interested in talking about this anymore.

1) Galatians 1:8 and the rest of Galatians.
2) Apostolic teaching is found in the NT. Who holds closest to the NT?
3) In Serbia and suchlike, yes.
But you don't have any statistics to back up your claim!!
True. And when was the last time you spoke to a European? I haven't met one, not one, out of hundreds, who practiced Romanism or Orthodoxy seriously. Europe's descent into secularism is well-documented.

David said...

Rhology,

Sure, some of them were practicing, no problem. But most?

That's exactly the point; they were killed for practicing. Soviet Russia during the 1920-30s virtually banned Christianity; Albania at one point declared itself to be entirely religion free (and, of course, proved this wide scale destruction of anything religious). But I won't get into listing them again; I only strongly suggest that you actually take the time to research how Orthodox Christians have lived and died (and continue to in many places) under the Communists and Muslims, not just in the 20th century but for the last several hundred years (in the case of Muslims, not Communists, obviously).

1) Galatians 1:8 and the rest of Galatians.

Yes, and who is that talking about? Hm...

2) Apostolic teaching is found in the NT.

Apostolic teaching is found not only in the NT but in the Tradition of the Church. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." - 2 Thess. 2:15. But I guess we'll save that for our debate...

Who holds closest to the NT?
The Orthodox by far. The Orthodox Church wrote, preserved, compiled, and canonized Holy Scripture, and, more importantly, it lives the Faith contained in those Scriptures.

3) In Serbia and suchlike, yes.

See below.

True. And when was the last time you spoke to a European? I haven't met one, not one, out of hundreds, who practiced Romanism or Orthodoxy seriously. Europe's descent into secularism is well-documented.

Very sad; you must not have looked hard, though. I know many, many. I'm glad you mentioned Serbia above, actually. I happen to know a very old Serbian man who spent time in a Nazi-Croatian concentration camp for his Faith. But then, he's not really a witness for Christ because he was born into the Faith and etc... The logic here is strained, very strained.

Rhology said...

But then, he's not really a witness for Christ because he was born into the Faith and etc... The logic here is strained, very strained.

The careful reader will note that I never said anythg of the kind. Rather, I was simply pointing out that MOST of those who are born "into the faith" aren't really believers at all but rather culturally-conditioned to identify with a faith b/c they're of a particular people group. Such ppl are few and far between. Yes, even in Texas.