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Evangelism and arrogance


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#1 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 06:32 AM

I just read the following article and I don't know whether to laugh or whether to start screaming at something - what? the pine trees around my house???Christians Hope to Win Souls at 2004 Olympic Games
Charisma News Service


World-class athletes will be going for the gold next summer when the Olympic Games return to Greece, but believers hope to win souls in Athens.

Thousands of Christians plan to use the event to evangelize a spiritually needy country, whose language God chose for communicating the gospel to non-Jews.

Twenty centuries after the apostle Paul made history-making mission trips to Thessaloniki (Thessalonica) and Korinthos (Corinth) and eternalized the ancient cities through his letters to the Christians there, Greece today is anything but a Christian country.

Though 98 percent of the population belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic churches comprise some 0.14 percent of the population, or a mere 15,000 people out of 10.5 million.

But as the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Greece is poised for a spiritual awakening, Christian leaders told "Charisma" magazine in a forthcoming report on evangelism plans for Athens in 2004.

"The international church will focus on Greece, and there will be a global wave of prayer for our country that will release a wave of revival," predicts Johnathan Macris, a high-profile Greek Protestant and director of Hellenic Ministries.

"I aim at mobilizing 100,000 committed intercessors," he adds. "It is time for the Western church [in Europe and North America] to return a measure of the blessing it has received by way of Greece and through the Greek language."

Macris claims the Olympics are critical not only to saturating Greece with the gospel -- in August thousands of believers will come to Greece for evangelistic outreaches -- but also to reaching the 1.2 billion Muslims in the Asian countries that lie between Athens and Beijing, the host city of the 2008 Olympics.

Macris views the Olympics as a step toward a unified worship of the Antichrist as outlined in the biblical book of Revelation, which was written on the Greek island of Patmos. The worship of idols, and of man, is a fundamental element of the world's most famous sporting event.

Macris believes the 2004 Games will be the largest event of idol worship in world history to date. But he says God's plan is to mobilize an army of intercessors to pull down the "[spiritual] stronghold over Greece" for the purpose of opening the door to evangelism in the country.

Macris and local church leaders, though, anticipate a spiritual battle. An anti-proselytism law is in place, but church leaders and missionaries say the government currently takes little action. The general mentality of the Greek Orthodox Church and the public remains strongly anti-Protestant.

"The real problem is that the Greek are very skeptical toward non-Orthodox churches," Timotheos Antoniadis of Thessaloniki, who pastors a typically small Protestant church, explains. "The perception of Protestants as a threat is a [spiritual] wall that we need to breech!"

Antoniadis' congregation attempts to break this stereotype by reaching out to the needy, the poor, the prostitutes and the immigrants. In the last four years, the average Sunday attendance at his church has doubled from 20 to 40. Most of the new attendees, including Russian-speaking converts, belong to socially marginalized groups."


What arrogance!!!! As I said at the beginning, should I laugh or what? Do these people really believe this rubbish?

I think I can now better understand the person who started the salvation thread. I don't think he was interested in learning anything at all - he just wanted to show that he was a Christian but that apparently the Orthodox weren't.

Effie

Effie






#2 Fr Averky

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 08:53 AM

Dear Effie,

I rather think that the "intercessors" are in for a surprize.

I do not know if you remeber this , but in the early 1980's, the Charismatic Movement, attempted to make inroads into the Greek Orthodox Church in N. America. A priest miffed that he was not made a bishop - he was considered mentally unstable- looked for a way to be "loved," and to establish some sort of a power base. He started to go about telling of the "glories" of being "baptized in the Spirit," and those Greeks who had not been taught much piety, or had been stengthened by knowledge of their faith , for whatever reason, ) no judging anyone) they fell into the trap. When I was assigned to a city in the Central Northeast, one netire parish of several thousands had fallen into that demonic spell led by a vigourus young Greek lawyer. Filled with demonic pride, the priest. Eusebios Stephanou, took his anti-Christ inspired
spirit filled-"message" to Greece. He manged to hav one meeting. The Holy Archbishop of Athens, had him thrown out of Greece with a policd escort to the airport. After that an official and very strong complaint was publicly issued to Aecxhbishop Iakovos, demanding to know why he had permitted such a heretic, a liar, and enemy of Christ's Church and a buffoon to step one foot onto the ancient land of the blessed St. Paul When Stephanou returned, he was suspended, publicly shamed and his movent quidkly died. died-it never had life. the poor souls caught up in such Charismatic and Evangelicalheresies are indeed filled with a spirit- the spirit of the Father of Lies, and they become unwilling or willing kindred of the demons , who howl when they hear name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. they are pleased when those who not know christ our Saviour call Him with such familiarity, "Jesus,' a common name Joshua- for they do not take into account that the Jesus we worship is Jesus Christ -Christ the Anointed one. And they are even worse heretics, they are Arians- for they preach that "He is the only son of God", never acknowledging that he has two natures, True God and True Man- as defined by the Ecuumenical Councils. The tragedy, is that so many poor souls do not even know it. Their preachers are those who as Scripture say, go roaming about like a lion, seeking the ruin of souls. They are not going to Greece to save souls, they are going to try to lead them into perdition.

The people of Greece might seem to those poor false christians to be "needy" for they cnnot beginto perceive the richness of faith they possess. They try to "buy" souls with their offering of food , trinkets and Bibles, as if being missionaries to some ignorant savages ,expecting them to grovel at their feet and praise them for their godliness and blessing them for freeing them from "idolatry." It is the :missionaries who worship idols, and their most powerful idol is the demon of Pride.

I pray that every old ya-ya will greet them with a broom, brushing them away with their false teeachings and their errors. Matthew might get angry with me, and Mr. Tanner will send another ill-informed lettter, but this subject touches a nerve, because, even the most simple person can be taught, but if he thinks he knows it all, what can be done for him? There is no way you can have an educa

Just a few days of these Bible people have brought back terrible memmories to me, and as I told someone today how when I was eight, some Pentecostals tricked me into being "saved," for which they were evicted the very next day by my mother, who owned the building they were meeting in. this they did when she had given them much reduced rent and paid the utilities herself because they were poor, with the proviso that they did not try to in any way evangelize us, and they went behind her back. I have cast them out of my life and I want to hear nothing they have to say. I am talking about those 'Bible' people with no seminary or higher educationj, no theology, no tradition, just just their pride. I am not talking to sincere men of good faith who truly are seeking the kingdom of heaven, and do not prattle about being saved. Don't worry I hope they go to the Olynpics, otherwise they can look at all the thousands of Orthodox churches and eat the wonderful food. May the shingles fall from their eyes.

They tried the same in Russia, and they were invited to go home. At one point several groups had ammased 13 million dollars for evangelization, but the Russian Federation refused to register their Churches, and thus they cannot function. Now the greatest threat to Russian Orthodoxy, struggling to revive after eighty years of intense persecution is the vatican. God help all of us! And please God, let the bible people see their erors and repent-no one deserves to be lost. Let them be converted and live!

Effie, I hope to go to Istanbul and to visit the ancient cities where my Turkish ancestors are from-I'll stop in Athens on my way, and we can eat! One of my most memoravble meals in my life was a delicious and leisurely lunch in Aegina-with the sun and the sea such a special color and the sun sparkling like diamonds on the water- my heart often goes to back to those days when I was healthy, and did not know what would be in the years to come. I will always tresure my month in Greece-I received many blessings there. Just to see so many churches, and people crossing themselves, and icons in the shop windows and all the priests, monks and nuns to be seen walking around- now, I think of it, and wished I had stayed...


#3 Guest_Waldemar

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 12:56 PM

Light and Life
World's Largest Orthodox Supplier
www.light-n-life.com

is keeping Stephanou in business.

Here is a list of his publications for sale to Orthodox Christians:

Are Sacraments Doing Any Good to Anybody?
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Are You Ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Born Again: When?
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Can We Know When We Are Saved?
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Divine Healing: Is It Orthodox? Is It for Today?
by Fr. E. Stephanou

How Can an Orthodox be Born Again?
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Orthodox Charismatic Renewal: A Response
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Orthodox Renewal Series
by Fr. Eusebius Stephanou

Rediscovering the Lay Ministry in the Orthodox Church
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Relying on the Holy Spirit for Orthodox Renewal
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Selected Passages From the Writings of St Symeon the New Theologian
by E. Stephanou

To be Born Again: An Orthodox Approach
by Fr. E. Stephanou

Why the Church Should Get Out of the Restaurant Business
by Fr. E. Stephanou




#4 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 03:53 PM

Each person has the right to believe whatever he or she wants to and I have no problem with Catholics, Protestants, or any other Christian group. (I have no problem with religions other than Christianity because I respect other people and their right to believe in whatever they want). In fact when I was growing up my only contacts with religion were Protestant pastors. That's not the problem as I see it.

The ignorance and the arrogance of this article were the things that truly annoyed me.

some of the phrases used :

"Thousands of Christians plan to use the event to evangelize a spiritually needy country, whose language God chose for communicating the gospel to non-Jews. "
- spiritually needy country???

"But he says God's plan is to mobilize an army of intercessors to pull down the "[spiritual] stronghold over Greece" for the purpose of opening the door to evangelism in the country. "

God's plan? - does this person have a personal line to God? What does he know of "God's plan"?

"Greece today is anything but a Christian country."

This is so untrue that it is absolutely laughable. Where do these people learn these things? Who gives them their information?

"Macris claims the Olympics are critical not only to saturating Greece with the gospel .."

When he uses the word "gospel" I assume he means the Bible. Grandmothers in church can follow the liturgy without even reading it (as I have to do) because they know it by heart. The liturgy of course is not part of the bible but I used this as an example of how well-read even the old women who go to church are. What does he think Greek Orthodox read? The Koran?

"Most of the new attendees, including Russian-speaking converts, belong to socially marginalized groups."


In the last few years a lot of foreigners have settled in Greece. These people are given special benefits that Greeks don't get, such as
free housing, public service jobs, etc. I know that the Russian immigrants are Old Church Orthodox so I don't imagine they are the ones who are interested in becoming Protestant. There are a lot of Albanians who are Muslim and others from many other parts of the world. If the protestants can get these people into their churches then "good on them" - I have no problem with this.

I truly cannot believe that these people are so ignorant of other countries and the people who live in those countries.

I'm sorry I'm so angry about this but the ignorance of people who want to go to other countries and act as "teachers" to the poor natives or whatever they think people other than their own countrymen are is horrifying.

I don't think I understood exactly who Fr. E. Stephanou is. Is he an Orthodox priest? Has he been excommunicated? Were these books written before he became a Protestant? As you can see I don't even know what this Charismatic thing is.
Can Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants be Charismatics as well?

Effie












#5 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 04:11 PM

Father Averky, for you to be thinking about a trip to Greece means that you are feeling much better. I'm so glad.

The old grandmothers will definitely have the time of their lives if an evangelist tries to convert them. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

I like the fact that your messages usually include either a personal anecdote or something from the fathers. This is always a simple and pleasing method of conveying something that we wish to say. I say this because in one of your messages you apologized for it being too long. I only hope that you never shorten your messages by deleting these anecdotes. I think that a lot of other people on this forum feel as I do.

Effie




#6 Johanna

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 04:22 PM

Dear Effie and Fr. Averky,

Effie, I agree with you in regards to Fr. Averky's personal anecdotes or sharing something from the fathers. I hope and pray that he never shortens his posts by leaving these out, for even I, the immature and simple one am able to benefit greatly from his posts.

Fr. Averky, I also am glad to hear that you are feeling better. You remain in my weak prayers.

In Christ,

Johanna


#7 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 04:47 PM

Glory to God in all things. It would be my sincere hope that "evangelistic" efforts in Greece would indeed be fruitful, but not necessarily in the way that the "evangelists" would expect.

Note to ponder: When I visited an OCA church in Colorado Springs, it was my pleasure to meet three families that had formerly been Protestant missionaries to Romania. While in Romania they, of course, came into contact with Orthodoxy, and all three families ended up becoming Orthodox!

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

May such of the Protestant "evangelizers" who may indeed have a deep thirst for God and His Truth come to know and better understand the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church and be welcomed to her bosom, and may their zeal manifest as a "mission to the missionizers."

A simple thought from a simple mind.

Herman the simple


#8 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 05:20 PM

Fr. Eusebios Stefanou...Ah, that brings back memories. I met him back in the mid-70s, when he was still a priest in the GOA before he was defrocked for heresy, something along the lines of Donatism. As it was summed up by him rather quaintly: "If the Dove [Holy Spirit] sees a bunch of vultures hovering around the Chalice, He does not necessarily come down..." meaning that the bread and wine do not necessarily become the Body and Blood, if the clergy/parish are not "right with the Lord." I suspect not much explanation is necessary to understand why the bishops of the GOA became rather disenchanted with him.

He is a rather colorful character, and many are the anecdotes about his ministry. I remember hearing him tell of healing people over the telephone, and I seem to recall an amusing story of his exorcising the demons from a typewriter, unfortunately the Holy Water rusted the keys.

Haven't heard too much about him lately...

Sorry for the digression, but nostalgia is a strong temptation to this simple mind.

Herman the simple


#9 Richard McBride

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Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:22 PM

Monochos: Unbelievable Arrogance

Blessed of the Lord Effie

I know just how you feel. My own immediate reaction to the mountain of ignorance revealed in such tracts as you sent us is just what the prince of lies hopes for. It makes me mad. And then I react.

Father John is much cooler about it. I pray for his strengthening, and thank God for him.

These are good lessons for us. We must think about our reactions, and whether it is the Holy Spirit calling us to True Anger; or whether this test is from the black hearted liars who disguise themselves as evangeliz-ea-lots to drag our children away from their place at the Divine Liturgy. My first reaction to anger is often not reliable, however, for I still have a hard heart, and the demons know it. They know full well how to push my buttons.

The saddest thing of all is to see Orthodox yourth fall into apostasy, pulled down by the very sort of smiley faced niceness we admire, into the new age muck where all things are found to be OK. There is such an awful potential of this falling away for our young ones. I know you fear for you children, for the world from where the evangeliz-ea-lots arise is covered with all the glitz and glitter which seems so OK -- to inexperienced youth. How can they resist the huge pressures? They are prepared to resist the pusher and the panderer of drugs, but how can they know about the ones who come all smiles, selling a glitz covered apostasy?

We must do our best with them, then rely on the Holy Spirit to answer our prayers for the safety of our youth. We have seen young people on this list as they leaped to their death, out of Orthodoxy. But thank God, He receives the prodigals back -- the problem, howver, is in their own returning. (Even then, they may never return to their same place at the table.)

Thank you Effie

richard mcb



#10 Guest_Waldemar

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 12:51 AM

"By all means be pugnacious and angry my brothers, but about things that will lead to salvation." - St. Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians

If you have a strong enough Christian constitutiion:

East West Church & Ministry Report
http://www.samford.e...bal/ewcmreport/

This is a clearinghouse of information for Evangelical Protestants with a missionary focus on the former Soviet Union.




#11 Richard Leigh

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 03:12 AM

Dear Effie and everyone,

I don't know if I can help, but let me try.

One of the first things I learned from the Fathers is "we are not our thoughts." When dealing with passions, we are most certainly not those either. When we're reacting, we are reacting to something from the outside only because of even some small match the thing we are reacting to has with something inside. That is the time to remember the commandment against judgment, but we must also remember insidious self righteousness. I mean, in pretending non-judgment which must always be after the fact.

Here is clear indication that Love is not motivating us etc, etc. Well, we all know what to do when caught in sin, right!?

"...having removed the beam from [our] own eye, we can then remove the mote from our brother's eye."

I for one can's see why anyone would get upset over a raft of foreighners who love their country's people so much they would die to see the salvatiomn of all their souls! MIsguided you say? They need a little more education maybe? I don't think a little challenge ever hurt anybody (anybody in Faith, at any rate).

Loving you all,

Richard



#12 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 04:57 AM

Dear Richard, let me answer the last message first....

the anger I experienced was because I felt that this article belittled the people of Greece and showed how arrogant Evangelists can sometimes be. In Mother Gabriela's biography there are quite a few references to the Evangelists in India. I am going to re-read it because the way they behaved in that country is, I think, an indication of how they think and act.

I am not afraid that Orthodox Greeks will be converted, and if some of them are, then that's their choice. My frustration after reading this article was not about what these people wanted to do but was due to the concept these people have of Greece.

If you want to understand my feelings better put yourself in my place. Richard, forgive me if I'm mixing you up with another member, but if I remember correctly you are a Lutheran. How would you feel if thousands of Greeks, who happen to be Orthodox, decided that American Lutherans were not Christian,had not been "saved" by the Lord, were not spiritual enough for us, did not live in a Christian country and therefore obviously needed converting. Imagine us devising various strategies so that when we descended on your city we would go right to work converting people we obviously consider to be inferior to us. How would you react to us? Wouldn't you think "the nerve of these people!!"

Thank you for your comments and I know that you are right when you say that when something annoys us or makes us angry then we are probably reacting to something in ourselves. I think my national pride came into the picture somewhere.

Disrespect for the beliefs and cultures of other countries is something we are all guilty of in one way or another, aren't we?


I have calmed down since yesterday and I can now look on the whole thing as insignificant and even quite amusing. It just gave me a bit of a shock when I realized how little these people know of Greece.

thank you for your comments.

Effie





#13 Fr Averky

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 06:00 AM

My Friends,

When I was reading the Holy Gospel of St. John last night, these words of our Saviour summed up so well the error of "Bible-based" Christians:

"you diligently study the scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life."

I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.
John 5:39-42

Every time I read these words, I think of how Protestants generally, and Pentecostals particularly say that everything in the Bible is literally true, yet, they strumble on our Lord's very clear words:

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."
John 6:53-56

And then it then it says:

On hearing it, many of his disciples said,'This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?"...From this time many of mhis disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
John 6:60,66

How often they fall back on our Saviours words, "Do this in commemoration of me," claiming that He wanted the bread and wine, or Wonder bread and water, or the tortilla to be a symbol of some sort, but not His Flesh and Blood -not, not really! Sadly, many Catholics no longer believe either, but say it is just "symbolic."

Of course, I know that we have all read these verses many times, and when I have heard Pentecostals say "It's all in the Bible," I just smile, and shake my head. They do not realize in their folly that the Eucharist, the Divine Mysteries is the very center of the existence of Christian life. Our Saviour is eternally alive in us in His Precious Body and Blood. St. John of Kronstadt writes, "Once when pondering the Divine Mysteries, I thought to myself, 'how is it that bread and wine can become Flesh and Blood?'Then it occured to me; is it not true that when I eat some bread and drink some wine, don't they become part of my flesh, and part of my blood?" I then thanked our most merciful Saviour for taking something so simple and easy for us to understand in order to give us His most loving gift."

Let us who are in the fold of the Holy Orthodox Church rejoice in the Truth, and humbly thank God for His manifest mercy!

Love,

Fr. A.



#14 Guest_Waldemar

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 11:38 AM

A challenge well met:

At one time Father B. went to a village on business for his monastery. The villagers came to him as soon as he arrived asking him persistently to help them defend the Truth before an Evangelical preacher who, using quotations from the Bible, was bothering them greatly with slanders regarding the veneration of saints and the Theotokos. The monk was simple and almost illiterate, and he felt awkward. But after he had thought for a while, recalling all he had frequently read about the saints and their lives, he invited the Protestant preacher to meet with him and proposed this:

"Let us light a fire," he said, "in the middle of the village square. Each one of us will go through it and let God prove this way which from the two of us has the Truth."

Very early the next morning, the villagers gathered wood and piled it up in a great heap in the middle of the square. Father B. arrived, but the preacher did not come. He had fled, taking the first boat out at daylight. The whole village raised cries for joy for the glorious victory over the teachings of human deceit. When Father B. returned to the monastery, the other monks asked him: "Were you prepared to go through the fire?"

"I was anxious, but I did not doubt our faith, and I thought, 'On this earth you deserve nothing, but to be in hell. It would be better if you burned here on earth than to be burning through all eternity: Let us then enter into the fire'." Thus did this deeply humble, simple monk defend our Faith - just as had the first martyrs and the spiritual fathers before him.

(<u>An Anthonite Gerontikon</u>, Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas, 1991, p.53)


#15 Guest_Waldemar

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 12:12 PM

Gerontissa Gabriella said:

Once when I was there where I was, some foreign missionary came and said to me, “You may be a good woman, but you’re not a good Christian.”

I said, “Why?”

“Because you have been here so long and you only go about speaking English. What local languages have you learned?”

I said to him, “I haven’t managed to learn any of the local languages, because I travel a great deal from place to place. As soon as I learn one dialect, they start speaking another. I’ve only learned ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good evening.’ Nothing else.”

“Bah, you’re no Christian. How can you evangelize? All the Catholics and Protestants learn all the local dialects in order to.”

Then I said, “Lord, give me an answer for him.” I asked it with all my heart, and then I said, “Ah. I forgot to tell you. I know five languages.”

“Really? What are these five?”

“The first is the smile; the second is tears. The third is to touch. The fourth is prayer, and the fifth is love. With these five languages I go all around the world.”

Then he stopped and said, “Just a minute. Say that again so I can write it down.”

With these five languages you can travel the whole earth, and all the world is yours. Love everyone as your own--without concern for religion or race, without concern for anything.


#16 Guest_john choate

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 02:25 PM

Hello Everyone:

Just a few thoughts:

First, I don't think the Church Fathers enjoyed a little "healthy competition" when it came to the pagans, Arians, and other heretical movements. I get the impression that they recognized that any perversion of the Truth that Our Savior taught led those weaker ones to jeopardize their salvation.

Secondly, that being said, did not Christ Himself chastize the moneychangers (in rather strong ways) for perverting both the use and purpose of the House of God? Is this not exactly what these protestants are doing in Greece? These people pervert the Gospel. Period. Certainly we should pray for them and the ignorant ones that follow them. Yes, we should love them. But should we get upset that 'wolves are let into the fold?' I think so.

While it would bring some comfort to me to know that some misguided 'missionary' might become Orthodox thereby placing him/her on the correct path of Salvation, I shudder to think of those people that were misguided before he/she found the Truth.

Pray for me a sinner.

john




#17 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 02:47 PM

What's wrong with evangelizing protestants? A lot of Protestants in America are confused about the culture, and Protestantism doesn't really have a culture -- a phronema -- to fall back on when the surrounding culture is deteriorating. So it becomes extremely stressful for a Protestant in the current cultural environment. That's fertile ground. But we are so defensive we don't want to evanglize; we just react.

There are a lot of wonderful Orthodox books that are readily accessible that would really open a lot of minds, but we keep our tradition hidden under a basket.

#18 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 03:02 PM

Of course, it is in no way accurate to say that 98% of the people of Greece are Orthodox. It's probably more like 10%.


#19 Guest_Waldemar

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 03:10 PM

Father Averky wrote: “I know that we have all read these verses many times, and when I have heard Pentecostals say "It's all in the Bible," I just smile...”

As far as a common language that we can all speak together, Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, it seems that the Bible (even the expurgated version of the Protestants) is our only option.

But when we discuss the Bible, it is important that we get beyond beyond the Protestant method of argumentation of throwing proof-texts at one another.

I have had repeated encounters with a zealous young Evangelical Protestant (his in-laws live next door), a fresh MDiv from a Bible College that specializes in training missionaries in cross-cultural evangelism (for instance, they have a Russian Studies program). Even after he learned that I was an Orthodox Christian and formerly a Protestant like himself, he insisted on trying to “share the gospel” with me.

I gave him a book and some booklets written by converts from EPism with these words, “I know about your faith tradition, but you know nothing about mine. If you would like to continue this dialogue, please read some of these so that you will know where I am coming from. This information will be useful to you if you ever accept an assignment overseas to an Orthodox country. At least you’ll know what you’ll be up against.”

A few weeks later he approached me while I was working in the yard with these words, “I would like to invite you and your wife over so that we can discuss, argue and debate so that we bring you back over to the right side.” (verbatim)

I asked him if he had read any of the materials that I gave him. He answered in the negative and this is how a three hour debate began. Our common language was the Holy Scriptures and so a good part of the debate was the exchange of Bible broadsides. It was going nowhere and I began to get tired of his prefacing each of his arguments with, “Let me throw this scripture at you...” Finally, I said, “Throw away, but you know there is nothing that you can ‘throw’ that is not a part of the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. One of your own preachers is fond of saying, ‘Text without context is pretext’. The context of the Holy Scriptures is the Holy Tradition of the Church. It’s the Church’s book.”

A friend of mine had just returned from Thessaloniki where he studied theology. According to the notes in one of my Bibles, the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians is the oldest book in the New Testament. I tried to point this out to the missionary, “The Church that St. Paul established is still there! If you feel that the ‘original Greek’ of this or that text supports your version of the gospel, then let’s make an appointment with the the Greek Orthodox priest down the road and let him translate the Greek for us...” The Church that the Apostle Paul built is extant not extinct.

The point I was trying to make with the missionary is that there is continuity.

The“In the Foosteps of Paul” Mediterannean cruise package is popular among Evangelical Protestants. What do they expect to see? Ruins? (Okay, granted Ephesus of “Ephesians 2:8,9” fame is in bad shape) But look all around you! Greek Churches! Orthodox Greek Churches! Places permeated with Orthodoxy!

The mythology that the Church of the New Testament is either extinct (Matthew 16:18 notwithstanding) or corrupted to the point of death serves the purposes of these “Arrogant Evangelists.”

The problem when they get to Greece is that our Greek Orthodox brethren did not conveniently die off for them.

Fr. Averky, we can’t agree with the pentecostal’s “It’s all in the Bible”, but we can show them that they, or at least their ancestors -the earliest Protestants, are indeed “in the Bible”:



They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

1 John 2:19



#20 Richard Leigh

Richard Leigh

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Posted 10 October 2003 - 03:21 PM

Dear Father Averky,

Yes, thank you for your message regarding the true use of scripture, the particular doctrine you point out was precicesly the one that divided Luther from Zwingly who was "of a different Spirit."

And Waldemar, your issue is what divided Luther from iconoclastic Karlstadt.

So John, of course you are correct, the wolves in sheeps clothing need to be discerned and routed, for their own sakes as well as the sake of the flock.

So yes, above all else, test the Spirits to see if they be of God, and test the "apostles."

But most expecialy:
Dear Effie,

How would you feel if thousands of Greeks, who happen to be Orthodox, decided that American Lutherans were not Christian,had not been "saved" by the Lord, were not spiritual enough for us, did not live in a Christian country and therefore obviously needed converting. Imagine us devising various strategies so that when we descended on your city we would go right to work converting people we obviously consider to be inferior to us. How would you react to us? Wouldn't you think "the nerve of these people!!"


Actually, I think the analogy would have fit better if the country of choice were Germany or a Skandinavian one, but of course America fits because I am American. There are hundreds of thousands of nominal Christians in this country who think it is a Christian one, and tens of thousands who actively fear the moral slide of anti-Christianity taking over the county. I personally contend that America is not "Christian"
nor can any country be. But your real question is about attitudes one group has about another and how those attitudes are reacted to.

To be offended when someone tries to convert me to what that one believes is the Truth tells me that I think of my own conversion attempts as attacks against people. Well, if they are, and they fall into the category of "demanding my own way," in their lives, contrary to 1 Cor. 13, then of course something is wrong with my attitude about the Truth I bear (which is Jesus Christ in the Unity of the Holy Spirit with the Father). OTOH, not to share that Truth is disobedience to the command to share it, as Christ himself did, in practical and verbal ways. But befor I do so, I will have to embrace, or be wrapped in His and His Father's own attitude toward people.

There is an attack, but it isn't against people, it is against the enemy that would keep people in the dark.

I am curious to know, Effe, what is the percentage of Orthodox church attendance in Greece currently? And do Greek youngsters stop communing at puberty the way the (admittedly non-Chalcedonian) Ethiopian Orthodox do?

But you askede me how I would feel. Presumably they would be Orthodox, as you said I think, then I would say, "Bring it On!"

I might add that I have known a Greek Orthodox man to have converted to Lutheranism in his youth because he was not "getting it" from his pastor. All I can do there is examine him (as much as he might allow) to be sure he hasn't lost any of what I see and hear as the Truth of Orthodoxy. OTOH, I knew an imigrant who was Orthodox looking for a church, and because he liked the "gospel" he saw in the practice of a co-worker of his who happened to be Lutheran, where he went to church.
He was not asked to re-cant anything when he was taken into membership, but after being in the country longer, and hearing from his Mother in "the Old Country," and the baby came, he found an Orthodox Church of some African variety (that matched what he was, I don't know whether Chalcedonian or not -- most of the people don't know the difference, so can't say). So he and his family "went back, for which I felt particulary good for him, and I learned something about refining the examination process.

Well, I am sorry if I offended you Effie, (or anyone else), but I just felt it needed saying.

Yours,

Richard

P.s., remember "All things work to the good for those who love the Lord." ---R




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