Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


A problem with missionaries

posted by Rod Dreher

We heard from an Orthodox missionary at church yesterday, as I wrote in last night’s post. In his talk, he lamented that there is only a relative handful of Orthodox missionaries in the world. He mentioned that American Protestants are flooding Albania, where he serves, with missions, and that that’s having a big effect on the population. Far from complaining about this, he put the question to us Orthodox, in effect: do these Protestant Christians love the Albanians more than we Orthodox do, such that they are willing to sacrifice to serve them and bring them the Gospel?
It’s a good point. Of course there are plenty of people who have a problem with missionaries, but I think without the mission spirit, there would have been no Christianity, and there will be no Christianity. Yesterday’s missionary, Nathan Hoppe, addressed the objection that we Christians ought to sort out our own problems in our home communities before going overseas to engage others. Imagine, he said, that the early church in Jerusalem had taken that point of view, and decided that it was going to get things squared away where the church was born before sending apostles into the mission field. Christianity would have died with the Roman sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Those lines came to mind when I received the following e-mail last night from a friend and reader who grew up Southern Baptist. He writes:

I read about your missionary, and I support missionaries in principle. When I was a teenager, we heard about missionaries all the time in church, and the importance of the mission field was pounded into our heads constantly. That’s all well and good, but looking back on it, I was suffering from a lot of serious emotional problems back then. I needed help in a big way. Nobody could see me, and I couldn’t really see myself, because all we were told to think about was the missions. It would have seemed childish and selfish to have shared our own needs with the local church. How could I, a middle-class kid in [place], possibly have any problems compared with the poor suffering people in Africa, or wherever? That logic made sense to me back then, because we were all teenagers, and subject to the kind of strong emotions typical of teens. Today, though, I see all that as a form of denial, not only in myself but also in my old church community. I’m not saying that the mission field isn’t important. It really is selfish to ignore the Great Commission, and we Christians don’t have that option. All I’m saying is that I came out of a church tradition that strongly emphasized missions, but to a degree that in my view was unhealthy for the local church. We were all about getting as many people in the world saved as we could, but we weren’t so great about what to do with them after they had accepted Christ. We hardly knew what we were supposed to do with our own teenagers, of which I was one, confused, suffering, and full of self-doubt and self-hatred, but working hard to maintain a brave face and focus on the missions, because in my world then, that’s what it meant to be a good Christian.
Don’t misunderstand me, I really do support missionaries. Christianity is a missionary faith. Whenever the topic of missionaries comes up, though, I struggle with my own mixed feelings about whether or not people really have a heart to bring the world to Christ, or whether it’s easier for a certain kind of Christian to deal with the people of the Third World rather than with the people in his own back yard. Nobody ever thinks about “missions” to the lost teenagers of American suburbia, but boy, could I have used a missionary once upon a time.

I’d like to discuss that point in the thread. I didn’t come from a church background that emphasized missions, so I don’t know what to think about this. Could we please avoid the tired old conversation about missionaries-as-cultural-imperialists? Christianity and Islam, for example, have to be missionary faiths. Across the street from my Orthodox parish now is a Chabad Lubavitch house, dedicated to evangelizing for Judaism among fallen-away Jews. There is nothing in principle wrong with any faith taking it upon itself to tell the world about what they believe, in an effort to win converts. People who despise missionaries as a category (versus the behavior of particular missionaries, which can, of course, be disgraceful) are typically those who hate religion, or who don’t like religious freedom. I’m in favor of atheist missionaries too — their freedom to speak publicly about the supposed virtues of atheism, and their attempts to win converts — because I favor freedom of speech and freedom of religion (or no religion at all). That said, again, I’d like the thread below to focus on the point my formerly Baptist reader made about the mission field, and how missionary activity works among Christians in the developed world. I will say that I would rather we Orthodox Christians had the supposed problem the Baptists do, of possibly putting too much emphasis on the missions field, than the one we do have, which is that we pay almost no attention at all to it.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(25)
post a comment
Your Name

posted March 8, 2010 at 8:56 am


My problem with missions is when they make the help they provide contingent on first hearing a message. I think mission through example and love is a positive thing – and I say this as an atheist. I think mission as manipulation and a way of creating a captive audience is unChristian.
Fundamentally, I think mission coming from a belief in the power of good deeds is one I can support – it’s the school of thought who think deeds matter not and that prostulatizing is the call create more problems though ignorance and manipulation than they actually solve – because they’re not really there to help, just to talk and trick. That’s just brainwashing and taking advantage of the disadvantaged.
It’s the same way I feel about the combination of terror plays followed by altar call – you shouldn’t scare people into your religion, or take advantage of their desperation.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted March 8, 2010 at 8:57 am


Rod,
I also grew up in a Southern Baptist church in North Carolina. I experienced many of the teen-age issues that your friend mentioned; but I must say that my experiences with the “Missions” of the Church were not as negative as your friend. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at 14 – and was committed to the work of the Church all of my young adult life. I felt a committment to missions in a very strong way – without any regrets. I did not feel a call into the mission field myself – but did all I could to support our church’s goals – and was thrilled to hear anyone speak from the mission field. There was something so much more different in the testimony of a missionary – than in many of the Christians in my church. In fact my biggest complaint was with the men on my local church – who were not only poor examples of biblical Christianity, but openly hypocritical. I had a much tougher experience learning how to put Christ to work in my personal life because of that – rather than believing in the work of missions.



report abuse
 

Karl G

posted March 8, 2010 at 9:23 am


I stand pretty well with the first commenter on this. Mission work, in and of itself is a good thing- giving to those in the the things and care they need to improve their lives. It’s only when it it used to force them to endure active attempts to convert them that it misses its mark and begins to deviate from following Christ’s example.
The seeds of faith (here in the form of giving aid to those in need) should be scattered without regard to who they’ll take root in. But the fundamental point of the work should always be about helping those in need, not about using it as a debt that they need to repay through faith or as a personal vehicle for salvation. The faith of Christ demands giving up any hope for reward or repayment and simply reaching out to those who are in need because it is simply right to do so.



report abuse
 

Mark

posted March 8, 2010 at 9:23 am


One thought is that many congregations do have “missionaries” to the teenagers – they get called youth ministers.
The focus on foreign mission work to me is a hang-over from the 1950s/60s. During that era, and many churches are still led by people formed in that era, everyone had a church or that was the perception. Hence, unless you were sheep steeling, the only real mission work was overseas. Today the view should be much different. The call of most congregations should be toward localism, to be a real community in a local area where people often don’t even know there neighbors. There is danger that way also, that the congregation just serves itself. The foreign missionary is that reminder of serving outside and that local missions are not to serve ourselves but those around us.



report abuse
 

Connie Connie in Wisconsin

posted March 8, 2010 at 9:36 am


The Lutheran view (at least in the ELCA) of missionaries has changed to emphasize training native Christians to speak to their countrymen, rather than sending in (white) Americans to evangelize. I don’t know if the new approach has been more or less successful in converting people to Christianity, but it does smack of less colonialism and more accommodating-in-place than the traditional missionary model.



report abuse
 

Joseph

posted March 8, 2010 at 9:56 am


If we approach mission work as a form of sales – simply trying to get as many people as possible to pray the sinner’s prayer – then once they’ve bought in, we can move on to other pastures. In fact we almost must do so if we don’t want to waste our resources on folks who are already saved. If, on the other hand, we approach mission work not as directed to the moment of conversion, but as a lifelong opportunity to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling by loving our neighbors as the Samaritan did, I think it’s easier to imagine how we might avoid neglecting the needs of people who may already be “washed,” but have only just started down the path to salvation. In other words, I suspect that your Baptist friend’s experience comes not from a church too committed to missionary work (indeed, would that we were all so committed!), but rather from a soteriology that sees mission work as totally separate from the work of ongoing conversion in both individual and community.



report abuse
 

DoctorMike

posted March 8, 2010 at 10:16 am


I believe that thought and conversation about missions is often rife with false dichotomies (e.g., doing missions locally or internationally, ministering in word or deed, evangelism or discipleship, etc.).
According to the Great Commission in Acts 28, the primary purpose of missional activity is to make disciples – going, baptizing, and teaching are all subsumed under the primary activity of making disciples.
According to Acts 1:8, this activity is to take place simultaneously at all levels of geographic and cultural proximity and distance: in Judea (locally, and within the same culture), in Samaria (somewhat more distally, and with a somewhat different culture) and to the ends of the earth (distally, and across cultures).



report abuse
 

kenneth

posted March 8, 2010 at 10:24 am


One of the reasons why I think you don’t see Orthodox missionaries all over the place is that conversion, as in Catholicism, is a very different deal from the evangelical churches. Most of the missionaries that prowl the streets, whether in America or third world countries can “win” a convert by just getting someone to “make a decision for Christ.” You can run up on stage and receive the holy spirit before some preacher dressed like Snoop Dogg. Conversion to Orthodox is a process, as is Catholic catechism, maybe more so for all I know. . You have to go to school for a while and learn what it is you propose to sign on for.



report abuse
 

lancelot lamar

posted March 8, 2010 at 10:42 am


Amen to Joseph.
I have often had the sense that Southern Baptists (I am one) have worked hard to get folks to make that initial profession of faith while neglecting the lifelong project of conversion. We have emphasized justifying grace at the expense of sanctifying grace, rather than seeing them as an inseparable unity. Thus we work constantly to get others saved while being barely converted ourselves.
Then we are surprised when so many of our young people–”saved” and baptized in the fevered world of summer camps, revivals, and intense youth group rallies–just fall away completely when they get to college, and basically live and believe like pagans for the rest of their lives. They may still consider themselves Christians in some sense, but they are unchurched and basically of the world. In the studies I’ve seen we keep more of our youth than the mainline churches, but still lose most of them.
A church of truly converted people who lived the gospel in faith, hope, and love, and who possessed the fruits of the Spirit, would naturally draw those who are seeking to be saved, and God would use them to do that. Their missionary spirit would be one of love and service to others, with the hope the the Spirit would draw these others to Christ through the living of the gospel.
Just an anecdote, but Christian counselors I know who have worked with missionaries report high levels of dysfunction among them, individually and in their families. The one missionary family I knew closely was dysfunctional this way. In my experience he same is true among many evangelical seminarians committed to missions. It seems to me that many are seeking to justify and make right their lives by their focus on and sacrifice to missions, rather than resting in God’s grace. As Rod’s correspondent said, this is a kind of denial; a running away from who they really are and what they really need.



report abuse
 

Clare Krishan

posted March 8, 2010 at 11:36 am


And lets not forget America is a mission field for the likes of these orders:
http://www.ive.org/map.asp
dedicated to the very types of kids from poorly catechized families who may have lapsed into lax practices. I volunteer in a parish manned by the IVE and they’re a great bunch of South Americans serving we North Americans, down to earth and orthodox.
Sherry at the Siena institute pondered on the racist failures of Catholics in the 40′s here
http://blog.siena.org/2010/02/glimpse-of-american-catholic-life-in.html
its interesting how barriers to evanglizing are erected within communities that don’t pose the same obstacles outside, further from home…. we are all strangers in a foreign land, isn’t that the truth God wants us to grasp?



report abuse
 

Anti Dhimmi

posted March 8, 2010 at 11:47 am


Rod, if you are still reading this, I wonder if we could differentiate a bit more among the set of missionairies. Can we, for example, note the differences between a family that goes to another country to live for a long time, working at a mission, and a group of people that fly into that country for a week or two, visiting coffee houses & other public places, only to leave?
The former seem to me to be workers in the mission field, in the same vein as Thomas and all the rest who have gone out into the world, the latter are a bit more problematic. Once I met a man who was working in a sub-Saharan country right up against the Islamic sphere. He, his wife and his children were at some risk as a result, but they were filled with Spirit in the process. He had nothing but contempt for what he called “mission tourists”, and had some stories about how little effect these trips leave behind. Given the cost of flying half a dozen people from the US to Uganda or Bulgaria or Albania, he questioned what exactly the congregations that sent them were really doing; he pointed out that for what such trips cost, he could plant another missionary family for a year.
So can we separate out the short term workers from the longer term, in this discussion?
To turn to the other facet of this topic, it is all too easy for any group of people to be carried away by an emotional enthusiasm. Your correspondant may have been in a church where the position of youth pastor was essentially unfilled, due to an overcommittment to mission work. I believe Paul had a thing or two to say about the head of a household that spends so much time taking care of others that he neglects his own family?
Finally, it seems obvious to me that there is a growing need for missions within the United States. I’ve visited churches planted in the San Francisco Bay area, and have listened to missionaries who work in New England, and their situations are not all that different from those working in Eastern Europe, in terms of the moral decay that they contend with, the faith-hunger people have, and so forth. The last time I chatted with a Christian from Uganda, I thanked him for coming to America. I thanked him for coming to help us…



report abuse
 

Houghton

posted March 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm


To be honest, this is to me one of the “weak links” of Orthodoxy.
I attended an Orthodox service for the very first time this weekend (and boy, I just happened to unwittingly choose the Sunday for the extended liturgy of St. Basil and Adoration of the Cross — hope I’m getting that right). I found the service to be overwhelming and beautiful and ultimately fulfilling and I didn’t even know what was going on half the time.
This was a friendly group of mostly converts, but I did not detect the zeal and excitement for sharing the Gospel that I’ve found with American evangelical groups. Nor would I think the setting would in any way reach out to the “unchurched.” I am someone seeking a deeper liturgy, seeking the solidity of tradition, so naturally I was more open to the experience of the Orthodox liturgy. But if I were to walk in as a believer in vague Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, I’m not sure what I would make of it. If I were one of these “lost in America,” I’m not sure I would find anything in that setting to help me.
I came to faith in Christ because of proselytism in the works of C.S. Lewis, theological depth from Protestants like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and vigorous mainstream apologetics from the likes of William Lane Craig and Lee Strobel. If I thought about Eastern Orthodoxy, if ever, it was a mental picture of a closed-off religion inaccessible to outsiders. Fairly or not, this is the perception of the vast majority of American evangelicals.
After converting, I then found a church home in a nondenominational house church, where everyone is truly “on fire” for Christ and talks openly and unabashedly about their daily walk of discipleship.
On the other hand, as I stood throughout the service yesterday, questions kept popping into my head like, “Why doesn’t my house church ever recite the creed? Ever?” or “Why don’t we ever pray the ‘Our Father’ and instead insist that every prayer be extemporaneous?” So those are some of the weak links of passionate nondenominational American evangelicalism as it stands today — completely unmoored from tradition.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted March 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm


Houghton: This was a friendly group of mostly converts, but I did not detect the zeal and excitement for sharing the Gospel that I’ve found with American evangelical groups. Nor would I think the setting would in any way reach out to the “unchurched.” I am someone seeking a deeper liturgy, seeking the solidity of tradition, so naturally I was more open to the experience of the Orthodox liturgy. But if I were to walk in as a believer in vague Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, I’m not sure what I would make of it. If I were one of these “lost in America,” I’m not sure I would find anything in that setting to help me.
That’s a fair comment, Houghton. As someone still fairly new to Orthodoxy, I am a bit amazed that Orthodoxy is still so little known in this culture. I think a lot of it is the legacy of the cradle Orthodox in this country, many of whom fought so hard to fit in that they didn’t want to reach out to others; they just wanted to be left alone. In other cases, it’s the ethnic club thing. But among congregations like the one you found, it may be a case of converts struggling to grasp the Orthodox mindset enough to be comfortable sharing the faith with others.
In my old Dallas parish, it is amazing to see the healthy zeal for the Lord among more than a few people. It seems that so much of that energy is spent trying to build up our own parish there. It is not a wealthy parish, and the needs are great. To develop an authentic Orthodox spirituality requires a lot of dying to self, and of erecting the structures of parish life that support an Orthodox way of life. That’s not to excuse not reaching out to others, of course, but I think about how hard I’ve worked to learn the Orthodox way of thinking about the faith and one’s life, and it really is something that requires a fairly radical re-orientation. It could well be that the folks you were among are trying to understand their faith better before engaging in a more intentional religious outreach. That’s just a guess.
Along those lines, it’s simply true that Orthodoxy won’t be immediately accessible to someone who just walked in off the street. But that’s part of its strength, I think! It’s not supposed to be something immediately accessible. This stuff is deep, and it calls you to deepen yourself as you move forward in it. It’s definitely not about achieving depth via acquiring a more scholarly knowledge of dogma and doctrine. Rather, it’s a spirituality that is achievable in theory by anybody … but is also very profound. St. Silouan, one of the great monastic ascetics of the 20th century, was a rough, barely literate Russian peasant. And yet he is revered today as one of the great Orthodox spiritual masters of our time. Though Orthodoxy does speak to a certain kind of middle-class intellectual Christian in this culture, for the vast majority of its history, Orthodoxy was the religion of the poor … and still is. If Orthodoxy, in all its complexity, is accessible to Russian peasants, why should we Americans find it so daunting?
I think it’s because of the aesthetic trappings. It seems so … strange. Funny, but yesterday I was telling Julie how I’d spoken after liturgy to a young couple, one of whom is a convert, about Orthodox Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and young adults. One of my interlocutors mentioned that Orthodoxy satisfies the craving within oneself to be more serious about religion, not to have a religion tailored to fit your needs. You can’t really engage with Orthodoxy and make it fit into one’s lifestyle. It is a way of life that radically reorients you — and if it’s not, then you’re not doing it right.
Anyway, I mentioned this conversation to Julie, and she said, “Do you remember when we first started going to St. Seraphim’s, we didn’t stay for the whole liturgy?” I had forgotten that, but yes, it’s true. At the cathedral, the typical Sunday liturgy is 2 1/2 hours long. It seemed impossible to do. But we kept going back, because we knew something important was going on there. Now, four years on, this is joy, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
We do have to figure out, though, how to reach out to contemporary American culture. The thing is, Orthodoxy will never be the sort of religion that wraps everything up in a neat, easily digestible package. The thing we have to hope for is that curious folks like you, Houghton, will come see what’s going on in our worship, sense that something beautiful, rich and important is going on there, and will come back to keep exploring the mystery. Write me privately if you want to discuss this off-list.



report abuse
 

Joseph

posted March 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm


God bless you on your journey, Houghton!
You write:
“I am someone seeking a deeper liturgy, seeking the solidity of tradition, so naturally I was more open to the experience of the Orthodox liturgy. But if I were to walk in as a believer in vague Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, I’m not sure what I would make of it. If I were one of these ‘lost in America,’ I’m not sure I would find anything in that setting to help me.”
I suppose the hope is that you would find the people, living icons of Christ. Ideally they would be friendly and ready to welcome you into their family. Probably that is what would speak to the “lost in America” more than anything else. On the other hand, I do know people like you describe here who have stumbled into liturgical worship and been blown away by the reverence for the Lord they saw there. Maybe they didn’t understand much else, but that’s one thing they got from it: God is great and worthy of all honor. I also know non-believers who came in and were initially turned off to every other aspect of church (the vestments, the chanting, the incense, the people, the art – everything) but they heard the Gospel read there and were moved by the words and deeds of Christ. Just that simple. I would guess, though, that most folks connect to people first, so in that sense the triage of most Orthodox parishes is coffee hour or invitation to lunch afterwards, not the service itself.



report abuse
 

James

posted March 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm


Houghton,
Good words. The aim and purpose of Orthodox Christian evangelistic work, in my view, should rightly be to bear witness to Resurrection of Christ to those who do not know that good news. In other words, we needn’t worry too much about whether Evangelicals are attracted to our services. (others disagree with me heartily on this)
Orthodox Christian missions have had their greatest successes in places where culture is less, let’s say sophisticated and cynical than the postmodern United States. I grew up an Evangelical Missionary Kid in rural East Africa. The Evangelical missionaries I grew up around (mostly national African missionaries, as well as many from Europe, South Korea, and North America) lived worthy lives as sacrifices to Christ and their work bore good fruit. There were a few bad apples, but not a lot.
Nevertheless, our Evangelical religion was, by virtue of Sola Scriptura, exclusively for the literate. Illiterate people could still “accept Christ,” but because they couldn’t read the Bible for themselve they didn’t have direct access to God in the way that we educated people did. Or people into whose language Scripture had not been translated– they couldn’t even have the Bible read to them.
This limitation meant that huge sections of the population were unreached and were essentially incapable of becoming Evangelical Christians. You just can’t expect folks to become literate late in life, you can’t make that a prerequisite for being transformed by the Resurrection of Christ. An illiterate person can “get saved” into a Sola Scriptura religion, but cannot become a disciple.
The sacramental life of the Orthodox Christian faith, in contrast, offers deep participation in the life of the Church and the Resurrection of Christ even (especially?) for the uneducated and illiterate. This is one of many reasons why Orthodox Christian mission work in East Africa is limited only by personnel– there are villages and communities who have requested an evangelist come teach them the Faith, and are only waiting for someone to become available.



report abuse
 

Pat

posted March 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm


I have a friend who does lots of mission work, both on short-term ‘mission trips’ and in long-term work with people in our city.
When she goes on mission trips, the place where she arrives has well-defined tasks, is ready for the mission workers to do those tasks, and supports them both socially and logistically. When she works with people here at home, they aren’t sure what they want, often aren’t sure they want her help, and she works without any support system – in fact a lot of her work seems to be fighting through bureaucracy, and against the kids’ families, to get them the help they need.
Asking for missionaries here at home would be more fruitful if we gave them half as much help here at home as we do when they go on a ‘mission tourism’ adventure.



report abuse
 

James

posted March 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm


Rod,
Your Baptist correspondent who was raised to send missionaries but never received the missionary he needed– his situation wasn’t too different from what might have been faced by a peer in Albania or Africa. In a real sense, all missions is domestic. Most of the good evangelistic “missionary” work being done in Albania is being done by Albanians, in Tanzania by Tanzanians, in Korea by Koreans.
Foreign missionaries are a smaller but necessary part of this. Foreign missions is an active way for Christians to be “members of one another” throughout the world, helping geographically distant Churches to truly participate in their fellow Christians’ lives. Sometimes a foreign missionary may have special access that a domestic missionary lacks (a covert American missionary in an Islamic country only faces expulsion if caught; a domestic missionary faces death). Sometimes a foreign missionary has special training or skills that edify and build up a domestic Church.
And a missionary from a wealthy country who has forsaken considerable advantage in order to become one with the suffering peoples of a distant land– this is an example not too different from the example set by a monastic who gives up power or prestige for the sake of the Gospel. For such people to be members of the domestic Church of a suffering nation– even if the specific tasks they perform could be performed by a national worker– can be of great encouragement.
Short-term missions teams are often villified for just reasons. There is much potential for “spiritual tourism” that does great and lasting harm among the peoples hit by poorly organized teams. Done well and properly, however, under the guidance of a local Church, short-term teams provide a powerful witness to the unity of the Faith across the globe, and can be instrumental in establishing and mainintaining strong relationships that bear holy fruit.



report abuse
 

Captious

posted March 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm


My own sense–based on ten years in an Orthodox parish, and being now myself extremely disillusioned–is that the otherwordliness and endless introspection of Orthodoxy makes it reluctant to reach out in tangible ways in a gritty, real world.
Add to this the sense that the faith would require a lifetime to understand, and that one’s personal work of repentance also would take a lifetime, and the result is, in practice, hard to distinguish from complete self-absorption.



report abuse
 

Houghton

posted March 8, 2010 at 4:38 pm


Thank you all for the kind words.
I must say right away that though I’ve observed here the “weak point” of Orthodoxy, the experience of the liturgy yesterday has remained with me.
I did not sleep very well last night (though I woke up feeling fairly refreshed) because the “stream” of the liturgy (as well as the physical experience of it — the incense, the sight of the icons, the vestments) kept pouring through my dreams and when I would wake.
I really did not expect this. I expected to “enjoy” the liturgy or appreciate it, especially as I had read enough to understand the basic outlines of it and because I’d listened to some downloads of the liturgy of Chrysostom.
I did not expect it to remain with me so firmly. I am giving a great deal of thought and prayer to these matters, and I have been “radio silent” on Rod’s blog for awhile as I have been ruminating and reflecting on these things.



report abuse
 

MMH

posted March 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm


I’ve always had a problem knowing what position to take re. missionary work. On the one hand, in Christianity we are enjoined to spread the Gospel, and, if we do indeed think that Christianity is a good, it seems that we should in love spread this good to others (good being self-diffusive). But, and here’s the hesitation, I always go back to the dictum Nemo dat quod non habet, no one gives what he does not have. How many of us really have the truth? For myself, I find that I hesitate to try to pass on to others what I am only too far from reaching, myself. I suppose it’s a question of a person’s vocation. If one believes oneself to be called to missionary work, one’s own unworthiness becomes irrelevant.
Speaking of such things, I was favorably impressed with William Buckley, who, because he took seriously the injunction to spread the good news, wrote a book on his faith, not a very good one, I didn’t think, but I was impressed that he was serious enough to do it at all.



report abuse
 

michael

posted March 8, 2010 at 10:10 pm


The Great Commission absolutely begins in your own family and in your own church. See to it that you bring the Gospel to your own children and your own fellow church members. If you don’t do that, while saying you care about the lost, you’re doing spiritual malpractice. This is a specifically Reformed perspective but I’m sure that other perceptive Christians would agree.



report abuse
 

William Gall

posted March 8, 2010 at 10:39 pm


Nathan was at our Parish in York Saturday. I’ve been Orthodox Christian 10 years; I was formerly a Baptist.
I remember that social service was considered a sell out on the absolute priority of evangelism in our Baptist Church. Now this is just one Baptist Church.
The Orthodox do place absolute priority on personal, continual repentance. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” But this orientation in its pure form is a joyful sorrow. But I personally have experienced this only in snatches.
Now for the one who by vigilance maintains this joyful sorrow, this humble joy is the stuff a missionary could be made of. Such a one is not flattened by the enormity of his sins, nor smug in the experience of grace.
Some of the most integrated Orthodox Christian persons I have read about, say, Elder Paisios, take their integration, their vigilance, into a monastery to pray, not only for themselves, but the world.
Now St. Cosmas of Aiotolos sensed- from his monastic setting- the calling to evangelize.
My conclusion from all this- missions is a calling, not necessarily THE calling. But Nathan’s presentation sure made me wish I was more prepared to help with this window of opportunity. And so the hymn from Orthodox Christian matins, “I have wasted my life in slothfulness” becomes real- a call to sustained joyful sorrow.



report abuse
 

James

posted March 8, 2010 at 11:36 pm


MMH,
How many of us really have the truth?
While we certainly cannot possess the Truth, Christians do believe that we can know Him. And the Truth sets us free. Should a former slave, once free from bondage, refrain from telling fellow-captives that they can also be free because he worries that he is not *worthy* to spread the good news…?



report abuse
 

Karl G

posted March 9, 2010 at 7:34 am


“While we certainly cannot possess the Truth, Christians do believe that we can know Him. And the Truth sets us free. Should a former slave, once free from bondage, refrain from telling fellow-captives that they can also be free because he worries that he is not *worthy* to spread the good news…?”
Maybe instead of telling him about freedom constantly, he should instead help get them free first and then let them decide whether or not to listen to him afterwards.
Jesus’s example wasn’t to just help people who will listen, but to help everyone, knowing that those who were ready to listen would come of their own accord once they were given the chance.



report abuse
 

Usedayquasesy

posted April 10, 2013 at 12:05 am


I was highly pleased to find this web-site.I wanted to thanks for your time for this marvelous read!! I certainly enjoying just about every small bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

[url=http://buyschristianlouboutina.web1337.net]christian louboutin outlets[/url]



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Rod Dreher. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Most Recent Scientology Story on Beliefnet! Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:25:02pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mommy explains her plastic surgery
In Dallas (naturally), a parenting magazine discusses how easy it is for mommies who don't like their post-child bodies to get surgery -- and to have it financed! -- to reverse the effects of time and childbirth. Don't like what nursing has done to your na-nas? Doc has just the solution: Doctors say

posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the October 12, 2006, entry in which I revealed and explained wh

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to!

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a racist verdict, and a bizarre one -- but there's more t

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.