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Evangelism and the Holy Mysteries


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#1 James Scott

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 07:55 AM

I have heard it said that we should not speak to our enemies about the Holy Mysteries because when they reject the truth of these matters, it will bring greater condemnation upon them.

Is this true? And if it is, why should we evangelize? Will not those who hear the Holy Gospel and reject it be under a greater condemnation than those who have never heard of it?
And will those who have never heard of it be under any condemnation at all?
Thanks.

#2 Owen

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 05:28 PM

We evangelize because Christ commanded us to do so. Evangelism, at a basic level, does not involve discussion of the Holy Mysteries; it's about Who Christ is, and why we need to be in a relationship with Him: Does Man have a problem? Yes: death and sin. How did the problem arise? The Fall. What did God do about it? He became incarnate to defeat death and remit sin. If all that makes a favorable impression, then, perhaps, one may go on to discuss baptism and why that is necessary; discussion of other Sacraments will follow in due time.

#3 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 06:09 PM

Well, here's the thing. I am not so sure that each and every Christian has a divine mandate to evangelize. I suspect that the command to "go and make disciples to all nations" was made to the Church as a Body, not to each and every individual. We only call certain saints "Evangelists". Yes, we are all called to "witness" to our faith, to defend the hope within us, but I'm not sure that involves knocking on doors or standing on street corners.

You know, this whole "everybody has to evangelize" may simply be a Protestant thing, and not necessarily an Orthodox requirement. There are MANY ministries, not just one, there are many gifts, not just one. There are many parts of the body with different functions, not just one. Evangelizing is just one thing, and if it ain't your thang then there are other things, other ministries that one may have.

So, I do not think that everybody has to "evangelize", but each and every one has to live their Faith as best they can, and that lived Faith may indeed be effort enough, it may even be witness enough.

But that might just be me, and I am a bear of very little brain.

Herman the Pooh

#4 Benjamin Amis

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 06:39 PM

I believe I have to agree with Herman here. To echo St. Paul:

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." -Ephesians 4:11-13.

and further,

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desirethe greater gifts." -1 Corinthians 12:27-31.

Certainly in both of these passages St. Paul affirms that the whole "body of Christ" is to "become mature" and attain the "fullness of Christ." That we are to "eagerly desire the greater gifts." However, not all are teachers, nor are all prophets or miracle-workers. It is good to always remember that a prophet is first and foremost one who "proclaims." This is usually in reference to proclaiming the truth, and the prophetic ministry of foreknowledge is only a secondary function. These are people who are proclaiming the Gospel, they are the "evangelists." St. Paul affirms our different functions earlier in the chapter, saying,

"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." -1 Corinthians 12:14-20.

Just as not everyone is called to clerical vocation, not all are feet or eyes or noses. We even recognize our saints in such catagories: some are martyrs, some are teachers, some ascetics, etc. Not all are called to martyrdom, nor are all teachers or missionaries. We should remember that it is the mission of the Church to "go and...make disciples" but personally the words of Christ to us are to, "take up your cross daily and follow me."

St. Serphim of Sarov famously said, "acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands around you shall attain salvation." He did not say, "preach from the streetcorners." He did not even say "speak." Simply live within the Spirit. This, I believe, is the witness of every Christian.

#5 Michael Stickles

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 01:43 AM

This reminds me of the saying "Preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words."

#6 Benjamin Amis

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 11:40 AM

This reminds me of the saying "Preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words."


Francis of Assisi, IIRC. I usually avoid quoting him, but, in this instance, it does apply.

#7 Raphael

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 12:34 PM

Francis of Assisi, IIRC. I usually avoid quoting him, but, in this instance, it does apply.


I prefer this quote from St. John Chrysostom. Similar sentiment, if slightly less pithy:
“There would be no need for sermons, if our lives were shining; there would be no need for words, if we bore witness with our deeds. There would be no pagans, if we were true Christians.”

#8 Michael Stickles

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 04:51 PM

Francis of Assisi, IIRC. I usually avoid quoting him, but, in this instance, it does apply.


Usually attributed to him, anyway, but I've not seen a definitive attribution (i.e., with a reference), and I've also seen it (or a version of it) attributed to several other people. Its original use probably predates any of them.

I prefer this quote from St. John Chrysostom. Similar sentiment, if slightly less pithy:
“There would be no need for sermons, if our lives were shining; there would be no need for words, if we bore witness with our deeds. There would be no pagans, if we were true Christians.”


Less pithy, true, but far more convicting.




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