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Hi Cyril. A Protestant model of mission that is certainly contrary to Orthodox life is viewing the Church as a product to be marketed to the people, thinking that we have to make church "cool" and "trendy" and "give the people what they want". This is contrary to Orthodoxy because our job is not to bring the Church to the world, but to bring the world to the Church. In other words, our job is not to transform the Church to suit that which is worldly, but rather to transform ourselves and transform society to be more in line with what God wants us to be. You asked about experience: my father is an Orthodox priest and as a kid and a young adult I was involved in the establishment of two Orthodox missions in the USA. As an adult, I've had a great deal of experience with the Ethiopian Orthodox mission churches in the USA and have visited our Coptic mission in Bermuda a few times. Orthodox mission in the West is something that is very, very important to me.
As for your other questions: I don't think that we can ever repay God and this is not why we should engage in mission. We should engage in mission because we want to obey God's commandments (go into all the world...) and because we love our brothers and sisters who don't know Christ and His only True Church (the Orthodox Church) and we want them to have what we have: a life lived in the Holy Mysteries and the fullness of the Faith. Trying to expand our Church (that is, the Orthodox Church, not an ethnic jurisdiction) is Orthodox. That's what we're supposed to do. A small minority of Christians transformed the evil Roman Empire - where abortion and slavery ruled and human life was regarded as cheap - into a Christian state. Our goal should be to evangelize America; to bring the whole nation to Orthodoxy. In terms of ecclesiological structure, I think you're right. Our goal should be to set up local autonomous churches which might one day be autocephalous, not to keep everyone beholden to a centralized mother church. That said, that will take time, and we have to be sure that the local church is mature enough and firm enough in Orthodoxy to be granted such.
These are very nice videos. It is good that our Patriarchs agree with the idea of mission. The question becomes, do we share their definition of what that term means. People love to post this video of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III speaking for mission:
It is beautiful, and in fact, I was sitting in the Maqar on the floor in front of His Holiness's throne on the day he gave this talk. But this does not mean that His Holiness accepted the idea of what some churches call mission - that is Protestant songs and books, et cetera. I love what His Holiness says in this video:
Remnkemi already adequately addressed most of what you've written here Cyril, and I'd encourage you to carefully consider his reply, but since you addressed your post to me, please allow me to reply:
AntoniousNIkolas wasn't that second video when Sayedna was younger? The first video is more recent and maybe Sayedna reassessed the benefit of the materials you're discussing.
No, that's not the case. There's nothing in the first video to indicate that His Holiness reassessed his thoughts as stated in the second video. That only makes sense if one equates mission with Protestantism. That shouldn't be the case for any Orthodox Christian and it was not the case for His Holiness. His Holiness was consistent on both of these points:
1. He was an advocate for mission
2. He was opposed to Protestant influence in the Church
Until the end of his earthly life. In fact, His Holiness led the Holy Synod to condemn Protestant teachings and songs in our Church:
The simple materials bring people and converts to the Church and the proof is in the numbers.
His Grace Anba David remarked at my church that this idea of chasing numbers is antithetical to Orthodoxy and that Our Lord said "Fear not little flock". According to His Grace, the Lord is not interested in numbers but rather that we truly lead those we convert to live our Orthodoxia.
Further, as Rem said, you can't lead people out of falsehood with more falsehood. The songs and materials aren't merely "simple", they are wrong and heretical. Besides, most of the people in the churches that use stuff aren't converts, but disaffected Coptic youth who want to be associated with what they see as "cool American culture" rather than "embarrassing FOB culture".
Look at the CTV video of HH Pope Tawadros II and it looks like the Church is very successful in growing our Coptic Church in America and Canada.
Glory to God, but this is not because of accepting heterodox materials, faith, and practice.
Also some converts may have come from a Protestant background so the materials are a middle ground for them to understand things.
I know lots of converts from Protestantism. They don't want stuff from their former church. As one woman I know very well put it, "If I wanted that stuff, I could have stayed in the African-American Protestant church where we did a much better version of it". She is right. If she really wanted Christian pop, she'd want the good stuff. Not some lame American-Coptic imitation. And don't fool yourself, that's exactly what the stuff in our churches is.
Songs are also familiar and easy to sing and also our youth in the Church like it because the songs are Biblical.
Even if the words are right from the Bible, the melody itself can be a manifestation of heterodox theology and an approach to worship incompatible with Orthodoxy.
But now you're getting closer to the mark. It's not really about mission to those outside. It's about disaffected Coptic youth who were never taught to appreciate the depth of their tradition and who confuse Orthodoxy with "Egyptian Christianity" and Protestantism with "American Christianity".Also the second video you linked is speaking about teaching wrong doctrine, the mission Church priests defend and teach the teaching of the Coptic Church today.
Lex orandi lex credendi. Praise and worship is doctrine. Ortho Doxa doesn't just mean "right doctrine" it also means "right glorification" that is "right worship" (as in Doxa Patri...). Protestant songs are Protestant doctrine in and of themselves. And Rick Warren books are clearly filled with Rick Warren's (i.e. Protestant) teaching.
They also pray the liturgy and also sing Coptic hymns (just choosing to pray only in English instead of only in Arabic or mostly Coptic). They study St Athanasius and the Fathers.
If that's all they were doing, there would be no issue. But light and darkness can't walk together. We can't study St. Athanasius AND Rick Warren. One is our Father in the Faith, the other teaches heresy.
Also the Bishops visit often and have found no fault and have in fact blessed what is being done for mission.
No, the bishops - when they have a clear idea of what's going on - do find fault in the incorporation of Protestant songs and teachings into the churches.
http://returntoorthodoxy.com/pope-tawadros-takes-stand-for-orthodoxy/Also look at the testimonials people have at one mission church:http://smsv.ca/category/testimonials/
Very nice. But this doesn't mean there isn't room for correction. No one is saying shut these churches down. Just correct the areas in which there might be errors.
Shouldn't people have a chance to have a personal relationship with Jesus? Shouldn't they know Christ in our Church?
Of course. They know Him most fully in the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and in a life lived in Orthodoxy.If they're in the Orthodox Church they'll eventually find the deeper things. Why confuse them and reinvent the wheel when there's so many materials already made by other Christians which can be baptized to teach what our Coptic Orthodox Church teaches?
It's not a matter of moving from shallow to deep but from wrong to right. Protestant music and books aren't just simple, they're wrong. We can't teach people error and later move them to what is right. We have to teach them what is right from the beginning. Of course we can do that in a simple way. We can also do it without trying to Baptize that which is unbaptizable - that is to say, heresy and error. If we don't have our own materials, there are many simple materials that teach Orthodoxy from the other, more American Orthodox Churches like the OCA and the Antiochians:
We don't have to reinvent the wheel, but we don't have to pick up a poisonous snake and call it a wheel either. What would "confuse the people" wouldn't be teaching them the simple truth of Orthodoxy from the beginning, but teaching them the errors of Protestantism and then expecting them to be Orthodox.
As tempting as such a vision might be, the true testimony of the Church is that the answer must be ‘no’"
Please read the rest of the article to find out what Fr. Irinei says is our missionary ethos and how it conflicts with those of heterodox Christians.
Or if you won't do that, at least watch the video:
Further, if we really don't have Coptic Orthodox missionary role models (which I dispute) why not look to the other Orthodox? The Ethiopians have been successful in the Caribbean, the Antiochians and the OCA in North America, et cetera. Why not look to them when they share our same missionary ethos?
Can there be said to be an Orthodox philosophy of music? What is the purpose of music in the life of the Orthodox Church? What would make one form of music appropriate for worship in an Orthodox context and another inappropriate? Orthodox seminarian and musicology student Daniel Marchant tackles these and other related questions relative to his studies and personal experiences in this fascinating essay.
Daniel L. Marchant
Music has played an important role in my life and in the story of my journey into Orthodoxy. Having grown up in various Evangelical Protestant denominations, I have seen almost every style of music imaginable used in churches: from classical music and traditional hymns, to country music, and even rock and roll—complete with smoke machines and flashing strobe lights. I sang in choirs, played the guitar (both acoustic and electric) on various worship teams, listened to the latest CCM (Contemporary Christian Music), and frequented Christian music festivals. My first exposure to the music of the Orthodox Church came when I was a teenager. A family friend who had recently converted to Orthodoxy invited us to a concert. My father and I went, even though at the time, I had very little interest. I didn’t think the music would be “relevant” or “speak to me.” After all, it was just a small choir from some monastery in Russia called Valaam…
From the moment the choir started singing, I found myself transported to a different place. Even though I couldn’t understand the words being sung, I was struck by the reverence and prayerfulness of the hymns and knew that what I was experiencing was something otherworldly. It was as if the presence of God was manifested through the beauty of the music. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but there was something special about the music I heard that night, and I will never forget that experience.
Several years later, while a student at Liberty University (the world’s largest Evangelical Christian university), I found myself attending a weekday Matins service at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Lynchburg, VA (after an encounter with Fr. Peter Gillquist, of blessed memory). My wife and I were at the time still Evangelical Protestants on a long journey that eventually led us into the fold of the Orthodox Church. We were struck by the beauty and reverence of the services and found in them a fulfilment of something we had been searching for our entire lives. After Matins concluded, we went to a required weekday chapel service at the University. The difference was day and night. After the order and reverence of the Matins service, our eyes were opened to the disorder, laxity, and casualness of what we had come to accept as normal as Evangelical Protestants. The lack of order, beauty, and reverence, stood in stark contrast to what we had just witnessed at the Orthodox Church. That experience did much to hasten our journey towards Orthodoxy.
Over the course of my time in the Orthodox Church, I have come to gain not just more knowledge about the liturgical music of the Church but also an understanding of my previous life experiences as an Evangelical Protestant. In worship, there was a sense in which I approached God on my own terms, a notion that I should have found disturbing, since I grew up reading the Scriptures. The New Testament has plenty to say about orderly and reverent worship of God, but reading the Old Testament in particular should leave little doubt as to the propriety of approaching God on one’s own terms. To confidently reject millennia of Christian practice and tradition—which has been guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—in favor of “contemporary” music pleasing to modern tastes seems prideful to me. It is an attitude in stark contrast to humbly receiving the Church’s sacred tradition and allowing it to develop and evolve within the Church over time, as the Holy Spirit works and inspires.
I agree with you. Our first mission is the salvation of our souls and bodies and to lead others into that salvation with us. "Attain the Spirit of Peace and a thousand around you will be saved". Mission is about living our Orthodoxy, not about helping people lead more fulfilling lives, et cetera, as Fr. Irinei said in the talk I linked to.
That said, what makes Fr. Peter in particular and the BOC in general especially relevant as far as I'm concerned is that they are an integrally Western Orthodox Church seeking to evangelize the British Isles. As such, they are a living, breathing example of what an authentically Western Orthodox Church looks like, sounds like, and behaves like often ignored by Coptic youth in the West with pipe dreams of a Western "Orthodox" Church that resembles bastions of heresy like Hillsong or Saddleback.
Edit: My post was addressed to Rem. I didn't realize that Fr. Peter was typing at the same time I was or that he was even posting here again. Glad to have you back, Father.