orthodox mission



  • edited September 2014

    Haven't we heard all our Abounas teach these essential truths?

    Unfortunately, no.  When they follow the Protestants, they are not teaching the essential truths, as Mina demonstrated with the sermon above.

    So what if some abounas are using different material?

    It is very important.  As H.G. Anba David said, all of the books and other materials used in the education of our Orthodox youth should be from Orthodox sources.  The theology of the Protestants informs every aspect of their teaching,

    Our Abounas are smart and very qualified and can baptize the material.

    Above you were saying that they weren’t theologians and that we didn’t need priests who studied theology.  Now you are saying they are qualified to discern what is in error and what is not in Protestant tracts?  How is this so?  Further, heresy cannot be baptized.  There is no need to do so when we already have Orthodox materials.  There is no need to attempt to baptize that which itself is rooted in an erroneous conception of who God is and how He relates to us.

  • edited September 2014

    They have gone through the material and if it's taught it's probably aligned with Orthodox teaching or at least doesn't contradict it.

    If they’re not “theological abounas” as you said above, what makes them qualified to do this?  Why is there a need to do this when we already have a treasure trove of materials in the Orthodox Church?
    Like don't the following quotes sound correct and logical?

    No, they don’t.  They seem like generic weak and shallow self-help tracts and marketing schemes that have little to nothing to do with Christ or Christianity.

  • edited September 2014

    They look like they pray in English but I wonder if these Churches can be helped with some more modern worship music and by what is mentioned in the Lucado & Warren quotes above.

    No, they cannot.  If the take that poison in, they will cease to be Orthodox.  Lucado and Warren are not icons to be emulated by the Orthodox, but rather icons of what is to be avoided.

    Please see why this “modern worship music” is not fit for the life of the Orthodox Church:



    Like where are their youth? How will they connect with all this theoretical stuff?

    It shouldn't be theoretical.  We should be living our Orthodoxy and teaching our youth to do the same.  You don't have to limit yourself to two choices: high theology or poisonous Protestant fluff.  What about the depth of Orthodox spirituality?  What about acquiring the Holy Spirit and thousands around you will be saved?  What about those priests who excel in connecting with the youth without resorting to the cheap tricks and theological poison of Rick Warren and other Protestants?  Why is all of Orthodoxy “theoretical stuff” to you?  Aren’t we called to live our Orthodoxy?  As H.G. Anba David says, “Tradition is not something that we read in books, it is something that we live. It is our Orthodoxia. It is our strict way of glorifying God; this is what Orthodoxy means: the straight way, the upright way, of glorifying God…Why are we influenced by non-Orthodox? Because we don’t know our Orthodoxia. This is our problem. We need to understand our Orthodox Faith and how beautiful and deep it is before we can begin to do missionary work. What are we going to teach others?…When you understand the true Orthodox life, then you will appreciate it very much. And that is why even many of the Protestants are discovering their roots and they are coming back to Orthodoxia – to Orthodoxy – and I wonder how some Orthodox want to be influenced by non-Orthodox. This is very strange. We need to understand who we are before we can really preach about our Christ”.


  • edited September 2014

    Like at least the following video shows how we're making things accessible:  St. Paul's Coptic Orthodox Mission Church Attracts the Young

    So, I’m not seeing Abouna bringing in Protestant songs or materials here.  Is he?  So, we can attract the young without imitating Protestantism.  My Abouna does it too.

    And these two show how the Mission Churches are teaching the Bible while building community.

    That is nice, but if it involves incorporating Protestant tracts or so-called “praise & worship” into the life of the community, they are inadvertently leading God’s people into error.  What a shame if they ruin their good work by planting thorns among the fruit.  Please understand, Protestantism isn't just something "nice and American".  It is poisonous and dangerous for the soul.

  • edited September 2014

    Many have loved God and led others into error.  There is not such thing as neutral, generic, white-label “Christian”.  Everything has a theological orientation, and ours must be 100%  Orthodox.  Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick answers your question here wonderfully.

    “I would certainly think that anything that draws thoughts toward God is good, but that doesn’t make it worship. Worship actually has an objective meaning in both Jewish and Christian tradition—one primarily centered on human sanctification through identification with a sacrifice (in Judaism, repeated sacrifices, but in Christianity, with the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ).

    There is a difference between good thoughts, praise, etc., and worship. To worship God is to be united to Him through the sanctification from sacrifice. In Judaism, sacrificed/sanctified blood was sprinkled on worshipers, while in the Church, worshipers partake of the sanctifying Body and Blood of Christ.”



    Therefore, not everything that causes a person to think about God, or to feel a certain way, has a place in our corporate worship.

  • edited September 2014

    About the using of any means can't we still use any Christian source? That wouldn't be pluralism if it is Christian right? Again as long as it brings people to the Church isn't that more important?
    It is indeed pluralism, even if the sources self-identify as “Christian”.  Christianity is Orthodoxy and we should not delude ourselves otherwise.  We have arrived at the root of the problem here.  Unfortunately, brother, like many others you do not have a proper understanding of Orthodox ecclesiology.  When we speak of “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” in the Creed, we mean the Orthodox Church.  Protestantism is not included here, and their teachings are not fit for incorporation into our spiritual life.
  • edited September 2014

    Plus didn't HH Pope Shenouda III bless missions? 

    His Holiness blessed authentic mission, not the incorporation of Protestantism.



    Also say the churches still teach about the importance of the holy mysteries and also of the fathers, couldn't they also allow these other sources because they would bring people to eventually learn the deeper stuff after they get introduced with the simple stuff? Like we might not be comfortable with praying like evangelicals but if that brings people to know God what's wrong if we use that as long as it's not in liturgy? Same with modern worship music like hillsong, at least people come to our church and learn about Christ in an Orthodox Church, doesn't the end goal (their and our salvation and getting as many people into heaven) justify the means?

    No, the end does not justify the means.  In fact, even the end itself is in doubt in this scenario.  Light and darkness cannot walk together.  We cannot feed the people spiritual milk with one hand (Orthodoxy) and poison with the other (Protestantism).  We cannot teach them about the value of Orthodox worship – and a life lived in the Mysteries – while attempting to seduce them with an evil and unacceptable “worship” on the other.  This is why His Holiness Pope Shenouda III and our Holy Synod forbade the singing of Protestant songs in our churches, and H.H. Pope Tawadros III and H.G. Anba Abanoub have begun to enforce it:





  • edited September 2014

    Also what if Abouna or servants made sure the material didn't say anything directly bad against the Church? If the books are being suggested in our abounas' sermons they're obviously good and beneficial to people. OK so some books don't mention our sacraments but they don't say they're bad either so can't we just supplement what they don't say with what is needed? It's not like reading the books or hearing the sermons will make us protestant overnight.

    As Anba David said, all of our materials should come from Orthodox sources.  These materials may not make someone “Protestant overnight” but it is part of a gradual process that teaches the youth that they can be fed by heresy and creates a false equivalency in their mind between the Christian Church (Orthodoxy) and falsehood and heterodoxy (Protestantism).  I would highly suggest you read the book “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy” by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick:



    Also the churches also make sure teaching is pro-Coptic while being multicultural and using other Christian resources. Even if sometimes modern worship music is used outside the liturgy it is the same anyways in other Coptic churches and at conventions. If you go to the churches there is no Eastern Orthodox influence or teaching, rather Coptic teaching is always emphasized first. Again if some of the sources are of different material it doesn't matter because at the end of the day, the souls saved are in the Coptic Orthodox Church.

    There is a difference between being “multicultural” and incorporating modes of worship rooted in Protestant theology into the life of our Church.  “Modern worship music” is not merely a cultural thing, but a manifestation of a heterodox approach to God, as has been demonstrated in the above posts and lines.  Further, the idea of “souls being saved in the Coptic Church” through the use of heterodox ideas, materials, and practices is self-contradictory.

  • edited September 2014

    There is even corrective teaching on one of the many heresies of the Eastern Orthodox, where the EO claim that the humanity must be completely and totally dissolved in the divinity of God. If you looked I'm sure you could find at least twelve or more heresies but this one is the biggest one that needs to be addressed and it is important we tell people so that they're careful. Abouna recently spoke about this teaching and made clear distinction about where our Church differs in understanding: http://smsv.ca/sermons/partakers-divine-nature/

     Mina has already demonstrated how you have misapprehended what theosis is all about here.
  • edited September 2014

    The talk is theological so I'm not sure where everyone is claiming that the mission churches don't have good Orthodox teaching. This kind of teaching and theological talk is also good because it keeps things Christian and not pluarlistic. And the teaching is simple so that people are not confused or caught up in theories. The Abounas are very well trained and they do defend the Coptic Church so why are we saying that they can't use other material, they have read it and if they teach it it's probably ok and safe right?

    Wrong.  You’ve repeated this argument often enough and it has been refuted often enough by other posters.  Now, I’ve also addressed it above numerous times.

    Plus instead of judging and being muta'3asib shouldn't people go and see and try to understand first? And they're also trying to save people so why should we object to that? If you saw a drowning person would you let them drown? would you stop someone from trying to save them just because they don't swim butterfly or backstroke but freestyle?

    Protestantism is not trying to save someone from drowning by other means.  It is trying to convince them as they’re drowning that they are actually breathing water.  Hetrodoxy is spiritual death.

    Plus if it were an issue the Synod would have said something.

    It has: http://returntoorthodoxy.com/formal-measures/

  • edited September 2014

    And how does this apply to missions anyways? It's all theology. There are people who need saving and all these ideas like confuse people.

    Rather, the people are being confused by those who feel they can bring Protestant theology into the life of our Church through Protestant tracts and practice which – contrary to their delusions – are not theologically neutral but are the product and outgrowth of heterodox theology.

    We can make the statement that Bishop David supports Abouna Antony. He said it himself. If, as you say, Rem, that implies he supports protestantism, so be it.

    Again, I asked His Grace about this directly and he does not support all that Fr. Anthony is doing.  In fact, I think he was largely unaware of the most grievous aspects of it.
  • edited September 2014

    Bishop David has, on more than one occasion, shown to play both sides of the field. Its like halftime of a soccer game sometimes. At times, he will be a stalwart defender of Orthodoxy. At other times... meh. Of all the things that discouraged me was (what I saw as a tactful play) to get Fr. Antony vindicated from the frequent attacks against him by Orthodox minded people. Bishop David hosted the one conference in 2012 where he invited Fr. John Behr as keynote. The next year, he invited Fr. Antony Messeh. Note that while one is an Orthodox Father with the mind, spirit, and heart of Cyril the Great, the other is not (he may be holy, but not an Orthodox theologian.) By inviting one after the other, it gives the illusion that Fr. Antony and Fr. John are comparable. The both are equipped to keynote an inter-orthodox discussion of bright minded, theologically driven individuals. This turned me off tremendously from attending the One Conference.

    His Grace doesn’t organize the One Conference.  It is organized by a group of servants, many of whom do endorse these Protestant-influenced things.  Until recently, I don’t think that His Grace – or even people like Fr. John Behr and others from St. Vlads – were aware of the Protestant-influenced elements.  I have to say that when I attended, I was shocked by them, as were many from the sister Oriental Orthodox Churches and from the Eastern Orthodox Church.  His Grace usually comes at the very end by the time all of the Protestant stuff has subsided.  Maybe you should let him know how you feel and what is going on at the conference before he arrives.  Other than that, I agree with your assessment of the event.

    Doesn't Coptic Theology teach itself. Like singing the hymns has theology in the notes? It's a mystical and mysterious thing which is why the mission churches keep it too and they are preserving Coptic tradition.

    Yes!  And what is running through the notes of the heretical and poisonous Protestant pop songs but the spirit of their author, the Prince of this World?

  • edited September 2014

    ReturnOrthodoxy would you say that people connected with Fr Anthony more? And people didn't get all the theological stuff that Fr John was speaking about? Wasn't there a bigger turn out the year after Fr John came? More people probably found Abouna's talk more practical and relatable so they might have gotten deeper in their relationship with God. All that theology and academic stuff just takes away from simple piety no?

    God is not interested in numbers.  He said, “Fear not LITTLE flock”.  We can attract more people with honey-coated poison than we can with the narrow path of Orthodoxy perhaps, but again, you are confusing simple piety with a blind acceptance of heterodox teaching.  Being simple in faith does not mean accepting things without discernment.  The question should be, how many people picked up erroneous teachings from Fr. John’s sermon grounded in Orthodoxy, and how many people picked up erroneous teachings from sermons, songs and materials lifted from Protestantism?

    Remnkemi, what is your opinion on the British Orthodox Church? Why can they not have the same thing in America? Just want to see your reasons and stuff

    I’m glad you brought them up.  Their mission is to make Orthodoxy wholly contextualized and acceptable in Western culture, but they are not the least bit Protestant and are opposed to Protestant materials, songs, et cetera, in all respects.

  • edited September 2014

    If they were to use or draw from other sources they don't do so in the liturgy. Also if Abouna approved these methods should be ok and they're also just ways to introduce people to the Coptic Orthodox Church. Why are we insulting the Abounas?

    The means of introducing people to the Church have to come from the Church herself.  They must be rooted in her ethos.  We can contextualize Orthodoxy in the West and make it more palatable to Westerners without embracing heterodox materials and modes of worship.  These can never be introductions of Orthodoxy.  No one “insulting the Abounas” but we are allowed to call a mistake a mistake, and looking to Rick Warren and other Evangelicals as role models is a mistake.
  • edited September 2014

    Also to #4, what if the mission churches that sometimes use other sources and methods outside the liturgy, also only use source material or methods that don't contradict Church teaching?

    They contradict the teaching of the Church by their very approach and nature.  “Christian” pop songs are never appropriate for our corporate worship in any context.  The Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod did not ban these songs merely from the Liturgy, but from Orthodox gatherings.

    Like what if they sing praise songs that are perfectly biblical and quote the psalms? Don't all praise and worship songs essentially talk about our Lord Christ, or the Holy Spirit or the Holy Trinity? They don't say Coptic Orthodox Church is bad or become Protestant. They also don't use any theological words or like say anything about Theotokos being Mother of Christ instead of Mother of God, so they cant be Nestorian.

    Musical forms are not inherently neutral vehicles to be filled with content.  They are – in and of themselves – outgrowths of theology.  The way we pray IS theology.  Within a North American, Australian, or British context, the reception of Charismatic and Evangelical “praise & worship” music would not be an instance of baptizing a theologically-neutral cultural custom into the life of the Church, but rather a compromise of our Orthodoxy through the acceptance of an approach to worship rooted in and informed by heterodox theology.

  • edited September 2014

    If these songs are so so bad then where is the proof that they make people protestant or that they teach bad things? They don't say sacraments are bad in those songs. They're just a way that people in North America worship in the culture right?

    No, that’s not true.  They are manifestations of a particular theological perspective, not just North American culture.  We must recognize the enormous and important difference between authentic mission (including the baptism of local culture and custom into the life of the Church) on the one hand, and the reception of heterodox theology through the adoption of heterodox practice on the other.  The two concepts must never be conflated.  The Apostles did not endeavor to transform the various peoples they converted into Jews in a cultural sense, but they did make sure that they transmitted to each of them an Orthodox approach to worship.  Although each of the nations evangelized by the Apostles interpreted the traditions passed on to them in ways that were relevant within their respective cultural contexts, in each case an exclusively Orthodox (that is to say liturgical) approach to worship was maintained.  Indigenous worship practices which were harmonious with the Apostolic Faith were baptized into the life of the Church, but those which conflicted with the Orthodox worldview (as modern “praise & worship” music most certainly does) were abolished.  This is why the Oriental Orthodox of today still feel “at home” when attending one another’s liturgies, however superficially dissimilar they might at first seem.  The inherent spirituality and the basic structure of each liturgical rite, the Heavenly inheritance passed on to each of our nations by the Apostles, remains the same even in the present day.

    Maybe the abounas have reviewed these songs and found them compatible with Church teaching, just like the sermons that are borrowed from other sources. Again if the abounas are using them, they are probably safe stuff cause the Abounas have been blessed to understand and teach. All the mission churches also have bible studies so they're encouraging people to know the Church teaching from all angles.

    No, that’s not true.  If the Abounas have decided that these songs and materials are fit for incorporation into the life of our Church, then the Abounas are in error.  Perhaps, as you said, because they are not sufficiently trained, having attended Protestant seminaries or no seminaries at all.  Throughout your post, you criticize “theological Abounas” but it is not the “theological Abounas” who are making the error of bringing the Trojan Horse of Protestantism into the life of our Church and inadvertently misleading our youth.

  • edited September 2014

    Also our Bishops visit the churches and they seem to have no issues.

    Actually, the bishops DO have issues, when they see what is really going on in these churches.




    about non orthodox songs, yes, some of them are fine

    None of them are fine for the corporate life of our Church.

  • I remember reading somewhere that American culture was strongly influenced by Protestant and maybe even Puritan theology... The theology shaped the culture, the songs and the morality of the nation. If this is so...isn't Protestant modes then the culture of America? And then isn't adopting worship songs just speaking to the culture? And the Church can teach after people come.

    Also what evidence or proof is there that Protestant sources are affecting us in a bad way or that the Church is becoming more "Protestant"?

    All the mission Churches pray the Coptic Orthodox Liturgy exactly the same but in English and I don't think there is any Protestant Worship done in the Liturgy. Worship music is what connects the youth and many people feel closer to the church because it is done.

    What evidence is there to show that these materials are making anyone less Orthodox? People are coming to the mission churches and they are being baptized Orthodox. They also belong to a community that cares for them with small groups and bible studies and also the sacraments and the worship songs that are familar with the American culture...
  • edited September 2014
    Also His Holiness has visited the Mission Churches in Canada and based on the photos there is affirmation that they are 100% Orthodox so I'm not sure where this claim of the mission Churches being non-Orthodox comes from... Has anyone actually visited a mission church? Shouldn't we hear from those who attend?
  • I remember reading somewhere that American culture was strongly influenced by Protestant and maybe even Puritan theology... The theology shaped the culture, the songs and the morality of the nation. If this is so...isn't Protestant modes then the culture of America? And then isn't adopting worship songs just speaking to the culture? And the Church can teach after people come.No.  There is a difference between speaking to the culture and endorsing something rooted in alien theology antithetical to the life and teaching of the Church.  Respectfully, I took a lot of time in replying to the posts you've made above.  Did you bother to read the whole of what I wrote or follow the links I posted?  Did you read - in particular, as far as this point is concerned - the article by Robert Arakaki or the article by the OCA?  They both explain why this kind of worship is unacceptable for Orthodox Christians. http://returntoorthodoxy.com/orthodox-church-america-orthodox-worship-vs-contemporary-worship/http://returntoorthodoxy.com/orthodox-worship-versus-contemporary-worship-robert-arakaki/ Our Fathers the Apostles were selective in baptizing elements of the pagan cultures they were sent to evangelize.  They discriminated and made judgment calls as to what to baptize and what not to baptize.  They chose not to baptize modes of worship based on secular music or emotionalism.  Evangelical "praise & worship" music is based not only on emotionalism, but it is anthropocentric.  It is the opposite of Orthodox theocentric worship.  As the British Orthodox Church and the Western Rite parishes of the ROCOR and Antiochian Archdiocese demonstrate, Orthodox worship can be thoroughly and integrally Western (British, American, et cetera) without incorporating Evangelical pop "worship". Please read the two articles posted above before making your next reply on this point.  It is pointless attempting to have the discussion otherwise.  Although I disagree with virtually every point you've endeavored to make in this discussion, I did you the courtesy of reading every word you've typed and responding to those I felt merited refutation. The idea that "whatever gets them through the door" is good is not valid.  This is especially true when we are talking about something harmful, like Evangelical anthropocentric worship.  We might as well say, "Hey, if a bellydancer or a shisha would get them through the door, and then we can teach them, let's go with that!"  Protestantism - especially mass-marketed mega-church Evangelicalism - is not something "harmless" or "neutral" that "points people to God".  It is poison.  We can't use what is wrong to get people in the door and then teach them that that same thing is wrong.
    Also what evidence or proof is there that Protestant sources are affecting us in a bad way or that the Church is becoming more "Protestant"?It is self-evident.  If people are reading Evangelical tracts and taking in their teachings, they are harming themselves.  If they are adopting an Evangelical way of looking at the world and an Evangelical perception of who Christ is, they are harming themselves.  If churches are removing the word "Orthodox" from their official logo and website, they are harming themselves and leading their sheep astray.  If the actions of priests and servants give the youth the wrong-headed idea that they can watch Protestant broadcasts, listen to Protestant music, and buy Protestant books, then they are leading them into danger.  Why do you think our Holy Synod banned these things?

    All the mission Churches pray the Coptic Orthodox Liturgy exactly the same but in English and I don't think there is any Protestant Worship done in the Liturgy. You are wrong.  Posters on these boards from Canada report that Protestant songs - with guitars  - are sung in addition to Psalm 150 as the people process up to receive communion.  It is a creeping effect.  If it is okay in our meetings, why not a little in the Liturgy?  After all, it's all praise, right?  That's the mentality.  Besides, we don't serve a schizophrenic or hypocritical God who tells us that theocentric worship is appropriate for the Liturgy and that anthropocentric "me-centered" worship is appropriate at other times.  As Fr. Peter Farrington has said, Evangelical pop Christian songs aren't actually worship at all.  Again, did you take the time to read any of my replies to you, or did you just fire off a quick attempt at a rebuttal?  Relative to this point, did you read Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's article?http://orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org/2013/02/26/god-is-much-bigger-than-your-style-of-worship-or-mine/ Worship music is what connects the youth and many people feel closer to the church because it is done.It does not connect all of the youth, but only those who haven't been properly taught to appreciate Orthodoxy and to distinguish between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy.  I am a youth servant, and my youth, for example, will not participate in any events that involve Protestant songs.  They know them for what they are: poison.  Those who think that bringing these songs into our Church is a good idea may have their hearts in the right place, but they are making a grievous error and hurting and endangering the souls of those they seek to serve.  The question now is whether they will accept correction in love or harden their hearts and remain attached to the things of this world.

    What evidence is there to show that these materials are making anyone less Orthodox? People are coming to the mission churches and they are being baptized Orthodox. They also belong to a community that cares for them with small groups and bible studies and also the sacraments and the worship songs that are familar with the American culture...
    Again, it is self evident.  If they are bring Baptized into the Church but are bring taught that an abominable hybrid between the Coptic Church and Protestantism is "American Orthodoxy" than they are being misled at the peril of their souls.  God have mercy on them and on their teachers and lead them to the truth.  Being cared for in small groups and Bible studies is a good thing IF those Bible studies and small groups are using Orthodox materials and not "Purpose Driven Life" or the "Daniel Plan Fast" or similar harmful heterodox books.  Adding songs that reflect an anthropocentric form of worship to the life of the Church is like sewing a dead arm onto a living person.  The product of heterodoxy - songs that are expressions of heterodox theology - have no place in the Orthodox Church and they never will.


  • Also His Holiness has visited the Mission Churches in Canada and based on the photos there is affirmation that they are 100% Orthodox so I'm not sure where this claim of the mission Churches being non-Orthodox comes from... Has anyone actually visited a mission church? Shouldn't we hear from those who attend?


    Do you think that when the Pope attends they break out the guitars and sing "Shifting the Atmosphere"?  Do you think they do this in front of the same Pope who did this?




    Or said this?

    “Let us not forget that Unorthodox worship can pollute our being, leading to forgetfulness. It can cause one's mind to drift quite far, rendering him unable to value the Traditional Orthodox melodies and style of Church Worship.[...] Orthodox worship is distinct in its constant reminder of the real presence of Christ and His saints in our lives. We must be careful to ensure that the worship songs we use are Orthodox in their origin, lyrics, melodies and in their spirit.  Communion and unity with Christ ought to be embedded within their meaning.” 

    No, of course not.  Just like they don't sing the Protestant songs when H.G. Anba David walks into the One Conference or other meeting.  So, the bishops are against Protestant songs in our Church.  THE HOLY SYNOD HAS FORBID IT!




    But they can't be everywhere at once.  So the servants who want to promote this kind of thing tell the bishops that they are merely acculturating the Faith, but they never reveal the entire picture.


    As for me, yes, I have visited several mission churches in the USA.  Some were perfectly Orthodox and rejected so-called "praise & worship" and other Protestant materials, but others were very Protestant not only in their materials and songs but in their ethos.  I won't call names on here, so don't ask me, but I'm not speaking from ignorance. The first time I encountered this stuff in our Church was at the One Conference several years ago, and it hit me like a punch in the stomach.  Since that time, I have become more aware of its existence.  It is a poison in our Church, but eventually, by God's grace, it will come to an end and the Church will remain.  Here is what the Orthodox approach to mission should be:




    If we're going to have this discussion, I encourage you to actually read the articles and watch the videos linked to.  I read everything and watched every video you posted and responded to it.



  • How does modern “praise & worship” music conflict with an Orthodox worldview? Again if the Abounas have allowed the songs the songs have probably been checked and only things compatible allowed. What evidence or research is there to substantiate the claim that modern worship music is not worship for Orthodox or that it is not compatible or that it makes people less orthodox?
  • Okay, so just to be clear, you're really not going to read, consider or respond to any of what's been posted here?  That's alright.  I'll continue to respond for the benefit of others who might be reading, but that's really no way to carry on a dialogue, my man.

    Again if the Abounas have allowed the songs the songs have probably been checked and only things compatible allowed.

    I know for a fact that's not the case, as I've heard songs that articulate heterodox theology played and sung at these events.  For example, the One Conference Theme Song "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" (also known as "We Are One") is a song from the Charismatic Movement written by a then Charismatic Catholic priest (who later left the priesthood and his church and became a Protestant).  It was one of the themes of the Charismatic Movement and is a call for the thing that motivates the Charismatic Movement (hint: it is not the Holy Spirit) to descend upon the disunited Christians of the earth and unite them in Charismatism.


    The Copts and Indians who were singing it thought it was "just a nice song about Christian unity" but the ex-Pentecostal (now Orthodox) I brought with me to the conference knew what it was right away.  Another time we went to a Missions Conference put on by some folks from the same church and featuring the same priest (I don't call names unless others have said so first) and the servants sang another song referencing the same theology BUT IT WAS LIKE A DOG WHISTLE TO THEM.  THEY MISSED THE REAL MEANING ENTIRELY.  Coptic youth unfamiliar with Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism think this stuff is "just Christian.  News flash: there is no basic, vanilla, "just Christian".  Everything has theological import.

    And don't even get me started on Purpose Driven Life and the Daniel Plan Fast and how these conflict with Orthodoxy.  We are not a "prosperity gospel" church.  So, it doesn't matter to me if Abouna so-and-so (who is not a theologian, because that would be a bad thing, right? - Like you said, honor our Fathers, but God forbid we have to read what they wrote!) has screened it.  If he's a fan of Evangelical preachers himself, of course he's going to okay it.  He probably brought it in himself because he thinks it's "more relatable".

    How does modern “praise & worship” music conflict with an Orthodox worldview?

    You didn't read the Arakaki article or the OCA article, did you?  If you did, you'd know the answer.  That's okay.  I'll post the OCA article below.

    What evidence or research is there to substantiate the claim that modern
    worship music is not worship for Orthodox or that it is not compatible
    or that it makes people less orthodox?

    Again, did you read any of the articles linked to that demonstrate how this stuff conflicts with Orthodox teaching and leads one away from theocentric worship to worshiping one's self and one's emotions?  Apparently not.  Did you read the el-Keraza article or watch Pope Shenouda's video about its corrupting influence?  Does it mean anything to you that our Holy Synod and Pope forbade it?  Or are you just attached to it and don't want to give it up no matter what the reality is?
  • The Orthodox Church in America on Orthodox Worship vs. Contemporary Worship

    Oftentimes, proponents of introducing
    heterodox modes of worship into the life of our Oriental Orthodox
    Communion contend that those who wish to preserve our Faith are being
    “ethnocentric” or not open to “acculturation” and “baptizing the local
    culture”. While these arguments are inaccurate and without substance,
    for some they have the appearance of truth because at this point in
    their history our churches in the Lands of Immigration are in the main
    composed of first and second generation immigrants and their children.
    This is not, however, the case with the Orthodox Church in America,
    whose stand on “Contemporary Worship” echoes our own.


    I get in arguments all the time with my boyfriend about churches. He
    is Lutheran and I am Orthodox and all the time I tell him about how the
    Orthodox church is the original, whole and unchanged. He does not like
    “formal” type of worship and prefers contemporary worship with drums,
    guitar, etc. He asks me, “Does God care how you praise him?” [I go to a
    Christian College and I am challenged all the time because I have
    conflicting views because I am Orthodox. I see these people living great
    lives, very devoted to Christ, and I can’t help but think, are they
    wrong for not worshiping the original, Orthodox way? So, how would you
    answer the question, "Does God care how you praise him" if someone's
    heart is in it while they are praising in contemporary style?"

    How could I get them to become interested in Orthodox worship.


    Unfortunately, since I do not know your friend personally, it is
    impossible for me to tell you precisely how to "convince" or "interest"
    him. What I can say, however, is the following.

    1. The tradition from which he comes is what we Orthodox Christians
    might call "man centered." The focus is on how God affects "my life,"
    what "I get out of worship," etc. In this mindset, worship must be
    "appealing to me," to "fit my needs," and so on. "Personal taste,"
    rather than the faith, often dictates the external form of worship,
    which can lead to congregations offering "traditional," "contemporary,"
    "pop," "folk," "rock," and other "styles" of services, each "form"
    appealing to the taste of a specific "group" within a community, yet no
    one form appealing to the community as a whole.

    2. The Orthodox Tradition approaches such things from the exact
    opposite position, undestanding as well that how one worships is not a
    matter of "personal taste." Rather than being "man centered," Orthodox
    Christian worship is "God centered." Worship, as we read in Scripture,
    must be offered "in Spirit and Truth" and must be "well pleasing unto
    God," Who is the only One we strive to "please" by our worship.

    We do not gather for worship to be entertained, to be "relevant," or
    to "appeal" to this group's "taste" at the expense of the whole. While
    humans have the need to worship, worship must offer a glimpse of the
    divine, not an affirmation of humanity. Worship must always be seen as
    focused on God, period, and not on "me."

    3. Unless you can impart a change in another's essential and
    fundamental outlook from "man centered" to "God centered," you will
    probably find that it will be virtually impossible to convince him or
    others, or to change their attitude toward worship. We're dealing with
    two radically different traditions, theologies, ecclesiologies, and
    soteriologies here, and unless the underlying elements, the internal
    faith and vision that support their views are changed, their views
    probably will not change.

  • 4. With regard to whether God cares how we praise Him, I cannot
    presume to speak on God's behalf. But I can say that we are called to
    worship "in Spirit and Truth," as we read in Scripture; that we are
    called to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ "as often as you come
    together" lest, as we read in the words of Our Lord Himself in the
    Gospel of Saint John, we have no life in us; that we are to "lay aside
    all earthly cares" [which is pretty difficult with rock music, and often
    lousy rock music at that]; that we are called to transform our fallen
    human existence by bringing it into the very presence of God Himself—in
    His Kingdom, not ours—and meeting God “where He is,” rather than “where
    we are” or “where we would like Him to be.”

    Hence, the external form of worship must reflect the internal faith
    of the worshipping community. Orthodox Christian worship reflects the
    fullness of Truth as preserved and proclaimed by Orthodox Christianity.
    It is “sacramental”—that is, it strives to “make holy.” It is
    Eucharistic—that is, all worship flows from the one, essential act of
    worship and thanksgiving, the “common union” with the Trinity and with
    God’s People into which the “community” enters through the reception of
    Holy “Communion.”

    Orthodox worship is not “fossilized,” as some non-Orthodox would
    opine, nor is it true to say that God only accepts this or that ritual
    action. God accepts worship “in Spirit and Truth;” if the “externals” do
    not accurately reflect the “internals,” there is a disconnect, just as
    if the “internals” are not reflected by the “externals,” something is

    In the early Church there were a wide variety of Liturgies, in
    addition to those of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great, and
    all were considered “valid,” because they were God-centered and
    God-focused, sacramental, and consistent with the faith of the
    community. Over time, the Liturgy took on the external form to which we
    are accustomed today, but the internal faith that is reflected in
    worship has remained the same, for as Saint Paul teaches us, Christ is
    the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and inasmuch as our faith is in
    the “changeless Christ,” the key is to remain faithful to Him and to
    express that in the externals of our worship, rather than changing the
    externals to accommodate the “changing world” and its ever changing

    5. As far as how you can get others interested in Orthodox worship, I
    would have to emphasize again, that unless you can transform or
    reverse—or, to be more precise, “complete”—the underlying understanding
    of worship or impart to them the fullness of Truth as proclaimed and
    preserved by the Orthodox Church at all times and in all places, you
    will probably not interest them in Orthodox worship. It is essential to
    understand that the Church’s mission is not to get people “interested”
    in the externals of our worship.

    Our Lord came into the world to proclaim reconciliation between the
    Creator and His creatures, and this is the very heart of the faith. If
    we cannot interest others in this, then it is futile, and even
    dangerous, to try to interest them in how we express the heart of our
    faith externally, through worship. The Church’s mission is to proclaim
    the fullness of Truth as revealed by Jesus Christ through the Good News,
    and then to express this as a community through “liturgy,” the “common
    work” of God’s People. If one accepts the fullness of Truth, one will
    naturally worship accordingly.

    I might also add that the Liturgy was never meant to be an
    evangelization tool, a means of interesting or attracting people. While
    it is true that there have indeed been countless individuals for whom
    their first contact with the Orthodox Church may have come through an
    Orthodox worship experience, it is also fact that, in the early Church,
    those who had yet to fully embrace the faith were dismissed after the
    Liturgy of the Word, because the Liturgy of the Eucharist was not
    something that they could participate in until after they had converted.

    It is only my opinion, but one of the biggest mistakes we Orthodox
    Christians make is thinking that by taking a non-Orthodox individual to a
    Liturgy, he or she will be convinced instantaneously of the fullness of
    Orthodoxy. Ultimately, those with no understanding of the faith, just
    as those who define “good worship” by their personal tastes or
    interests, are not in a position to fully understand the Liturgy, even
    though they may “enjoy” the experience. ["Enjoyment" is not a goal in

    While there are indeed those who may “enjoy” the incense, chanting,
    vestments, icons, candles, and the other externals of our worship, it
    must always be remembered that the externals are a reflection of the
    “internal” faith of the People of God, at all times and in all palces.
    For someone to pursue conversion to Orthodoxy simply because he or she
    likes the externals of the service, with only a secondary concern for
    the fullness of Truth that the worship expresses, he or she would, in my
    opinion, be entering into a spiritually dangerous state, since the
    greater emphasis would be placed on the “form” of worship while placing
    the “power” of the faith which the worship expresses in a secondary
  • edited September 2014
    Hey brother...I was going to comment on your editing of posts (as it was painful to read as much as it was painful for you to have posted them), but it seems like you're starting to get the hang of it in your latests posts ;)
  • edited September 2014
    Hey, Mina.  The problem is that I wanted to respond to all that was
    written in the previous posts, but due to the new format was unable to
    quote blocks of texts as I did on the BB board, so I cut 'n' pasted into
    a word document and typed my answers there.  Pasting back, it came out
    like that.  It was rough indeed, and maybe I'll try to go back and edit
    it, but such are the limitations of the current forum.  :)

    Maybe one of the kind editors will be so kind as to help me with reformatting it.
  • Hi everyone, what is the role of the poor in mission? Is mission going to Africa? Is it sandwich runs? Does a Church that only seeks to serve its own actually a missionary Church? Does a Church that serves the poor in order to fix or save them a missionary Church? What makes a mission "successful"? World changing leadership? Bigger Churches? More people?

    Does it matter if we model our missions on Protestant techniques as long as we make it Orthodox?

    Does community play a role? Does the Liturgy? What happens when we don't understand the liturgy? What happens when we do liturgy badly? What happens if we disconnect liturgy from the works of mercy, praying in cathedrals while our brothers lie in the street lonely and starving?

    Do the mission churches meet the needs of mission or do they just continue the trend of the ethnic mother church with just the language replaced?

    What is Orthodox mission? Can a book express it? Can a sermon? Can view of a romanticized past be it's goal? Does it have to be lived? Does it have to be learned and grown in spiritual formation? Are there any Orthodox models for this? Are Protestant models better?
  • Cyril, we all understand how you feel. But let me attempt to answer your questions. 

    There is no single exclusive type of mission. Missions range from feeding the poor in a soup kitchen to preaching God in the remotest area of Africa. But mission is also expressed in praying with the angels (regardless of language); which is a foreign concept in anthropomorphic Protestantism. Missionary is also denying and fighting heterodox teachings. Defining a successful mission depends on the definition of success. Christ tells us that "you will know a tree by its fruit". A successful mission is not about numbers and magnanimity but the fruits of the Holy Spirit. 

    Yes it matters if we model our mission on Protestant techniques. Does a spring set forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? (James 3:11) Protestant techniques are designed to promote Protestant theology. Just like salty, bitter water looks like fresh water, you cannot have Orthodoxy with Protestant theology. Now with the reality of Protestant theology, it is not salt water. It is colorless, tasteless, odorless poison.  Period. You cannot have fresh water with poison from the same opening. Period.

    The needs of the people served by mission may never be met. Christ tells us "The poor we always have". If one expects to setup missions that will result in the eradication of poverty and heterodoxy, then the mission has failed before it ever started. 

    Here is the point I want to make. Mission evangelism is the only response of true union with Christ in the Eucharist. Since we cannot offer anything to Christ to repay Him for saving us, the only thing we can do is preach how His love is manifested in the Orthodox faith. The problem with a Protestant model is that they do not have a proper theology of the Eucharist. It is therefore a mission, not to preach God but to proselytize anyone whom they view as heretical. They use cultural discrepancies like language as a smoke screen to promote modern day heresies.  We have sufficient evidence from the Protestant missionaries of 19th century Egypt. This is no different modern Protestantism. We have had plenty of examples of Protestants who came to this forum covertly attacking our Orthodox faith of the priesthood and intercessions. Protestant models are not better. They never were and they never will be, regardless of how popular they have become. 

  • edited September 2014
    Thank you Rem. These a beautiful observations. I think there's lots to ponder on.
This discussion has been closed.