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What is the role of an Evangelist in the Orthodox Church?


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#1 Brad D.

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 12:09 AM

I guess the title to this post is basically the whole question. What is the role of an Evangelist in the Orthodox Church? Is there such a title or role in Orthodoxy anymore?

Thanks,
Brad

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 01:27 AM

What do you mean by "evangelist". The title of "Evangelist" is generally given to the writers of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Other than that there is no formal title or ministry of "evangelist" of which I am aware.

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#3 Brad D.

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 12:09 PM

Well, I mean as in Ephesians 4:11 where it says

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,


Although I guess you have answered my question. Thank you.

Brad

#4 Owen Jones

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 03:02 PM

The role is zero, unfortunately.

#5 Brad D.

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 03:07 PM

I find this very interesting about the Orthodox Church...it seems like this would not be so.

#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 03:23 PM

I would beg to disagree. Evangelist is not an ordained role, but there are, indeed many ministries. There are, in fact, "evangelists" within Orthodoxy, especially those who are particularly good at being ready at all times to defend the hope that is in them. There does not seem to be ENOUGH of them these days and we could use more, but the role exists, but like many ministries it has not been formalized.

Herman the informal Pooh

#7 Jason Hunt

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 04:10 PM

Brad, you asked if there is such a title or role of “Evangelist” in Orthodoxy anymore. You also quoted Ephesians 4:11 that says, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists…” In the Orthodox Church, as Fr. David and others pointed out, we do not use the titles of “evangelist” or even “prophet” to refer to people alive today, but I think it would be correct to say that people within the Orthodox Church still fulfill the roles of “evangelist,” “prophet”, “apostle”, etc… Only the Gospel writers have the title of “Evangelist”, the title of “Prophet” is reserved for those having this title prior to Christ (though the term was still utilized during the time of the Apostles and there is at least one exception of a saint after the Apostolic era who was referred to as a prophet for his clairvoyance), and the title “Apostle” is reserved for the 12 and the 70 whom Christ appointed as apostles in the Gospels. However, there are still those who do the work of evangelists, prophets, and apostles in the Orthodox Church today. We have saints who, after their repose, were given the title “Equal to the Apostle” to recognize the apostolic quality of their missionary activity among non-Orthodox people (like St. Nina). A few years ago there was a book written about Fr. Cosmas, a monk from Mt. Athos who was sent as a missionary to Zaire. His book is titled “Apostle to Zaire” to describe the nature of his work and ministry. While nobody in the Orthodox Church has the title of “Evangelist”, in a certain sense we all may fulfill the role of the “evangelists” any time we speak to others about the gospel, whether we are a priest explaining the words of the gospels in an homily or sermon, or a layperson speaking about the gospel to a non-Orthodox person, or if we are leading a missionary effort in a non-Orthodox land. Monks and nuns are often seen as fulfilling the role of the prophet in the life of the Church, as emulating the way of life of the Prophet Elijah and the Forerunner and Baptist John. Some monks, because of their holy life and their profound humility, may be given the grace by God to see things which might occur in the future and to discern the hearts of others (the Elders of Optina and countless ascetics on Mt. Athos and throughout the world). Monastics with the gift of clairvoyance fulfill a prophetic role in a very particular sense. So, again, the Orthodox Church does not use these titles which are reverently reserved for those referred to as such in the Holy Scriptures. Nevertheless, being the Church which has received the grace of the Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost, the Spirit which “spoke by the prophets”, the same gifts and same roles can be found in the Orthodoxy Church today as in the time of the Apostles.

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 03 May 2011 - 08:34 PM.
Extraneous formatting removed


#8 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 05:32 PM

The role is zero, unfortunately.


I would disagree with that - I know some very talented evangelists, some among clergy and some among the laity. Just because there isn't and official office of "evangelist" in Orthodox structure doesn't mean that there is no place for an evangelist in the Church. Some evangelists are great apologists, contending against the various other beliefs and religions that surround us in this work and others are simply those people who practice what St Seraphim described (acquire the Holy Spirit and thousands around you will be saved) and whose lives simply draw people to the Church and many other varieties of the above.

There are, as Owen seems to indicate, sometimes those who are "anti-evangelists" who seek to maintain the purity of Orthodoxy (as they perceive it) by repelling and even driving away those who are "outside" and "not one of us" - but that's our sin and not Who we are supposed to be.

Fr David Moser




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