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Friday, May 8, 2015

In case this comment doesn't get published

at Roads From Emmaus, I'm reproducing it here:
Some questions:

What approach should we take to evangelizing our Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant neighbors? Most people would say they respect others' heritage and don't broach such topics, leaving it to the working of the Spirit and the individuals. Is this approach wrong?

What utility is there to evangelism in a country where Muslims come to be good Muslims?

Are any Orthodox hierarchs or clergy exhorting their flocks to have large families, and assuring them that if they do, the Church will be there for them? There seems to be a dearth of discussion on the Baptismal font as a source of new Christians. Has anybody analyzed critically whether we'd add more to the ranks of the faithful by providing social and material support to our young people to encourage them to marry and have children, rather than tripping over the Catholic and Protestant missions trying to find some purported un-evangelized Third World village?

Via Trifon.

42 comments:

Ingemar said...

>There seems to be a dearth of discussion on the Baptismal font as a source of new Christians.

That's because Christians are not Jews; they're not a race. And if we're bringing up the topic of the baptismal font, why aren't we discussing bringing ADULTS to it? Oh, I see that when you complete this piece you'll bring that up and we would have walked through a Moebius strip.


>Has anybody analyzed critically whether we'd add more to the ranks of the faithful by providing social and material support to our young people to encourage them to marry and have children,

...and bring them up in an anti-Christian, anti-natalist society? It's hard enough to have that third child without the friends and neighbors criticizing you. It's even harder to have them be Christian (what does that even mean to you?) when the schools, the mass media and laws prevent them from doing so.

Here's your options if you want to get out from under that: You can invade an isolated savage country and totally displace the natives, or you can emigrate en masse to rich, decadent country and push its government for more rights and recognition (and sprinkle with huge acts of terrorism for effect).

Those are some practical ways to make a space for Christians (whoever those are to you). Let me know if such measures are objectionable.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

That's because Christians are not Jews; they're not a race. And if we're bringing up the topic of the baptismal font, why aren't we discussing bringing ADULTS to it? Oh, I see that when you complete this piece you'll bring that up and we would have walked through a Moebius strip.

Baptism is a Sacrament, which you seem strangely repulsed by. What sort of traction do you think the Orthodox Church gets by being a book club for barren, middle-aged converts? I can imagine people like you dashing their newborns' heads against the rocks lest they divert resources from the parish library.

Those are some practical ways to make a space for Christians (whoever those are to you). Let me know if such measures are objectionable.

What the hell are you even saying here? When Hasidim, Amish and Muslims want to make a cultural space for themselves, they take it. Why can't Orthodox Christians do the same?

You seem pretty consumed by the guilt of living and utterly opposed to reproducing yourself in the pews. Why don't you just kill yourself?

Fr. Andrew said...

FWIW, if you intended your comment to be submitted at the RFE site, it never was sent to me.

Fr. Andrew, RFE

Ingemar said...

>What the hell are you even saying here? When Hasidim, Amish and Muslims want to make a cultural space for themselves, they take it.

You seem to have missed what I just said. I WAS mentioning ways to have a cultural space but I neglected a third option--find an available space, go there, stay put, don't make waves, and hope the larger society doesn't see you (the Amish option). Of course, that depends entirely on (1) the goodwill of the host society and (2) your own society having the gumption to leave a hostile society. If the early Anabaptists stayed put, the secular authorities would have drowned them all.

>Why can't Orthodox Christians do the same?

I guess it's because (going by Anti-Gnostic logic) the Church of Constantinople or Moscow is not physically supporting people who want to make such a space. But then, also according to Anti-Gnostic logic, each ethnos needs to have its own church answerable to no other cleric. But since the mixed, confused, white ethnos of America is not historically Orthodox (and in fact has constitutionally resisted establishing a national church) there is no major top-down push for that to happen. Our only hope then is that more Greeks and Russians come to our shores in order that more churches will be built (even if the average Greek and Russian goes to church twice a year, if that).

>you seem strangely repulsed by [the sacrament of Baptism].

Based on what? On the fact that I mentioned adults can get baptized too?

>You seem pretty consumed by the guilt of living and utterly opposed to reproducing yourself in the pews.

Find me a wife and I'll get that project of making more Orthodox Christians for you. I don't feel guilty. Then again, I'll also contribute to that awful, awful phenomenon of brown people outbreeding white people.

How are you own (Orthodox?) children doing? Are they remaining faithful and NOT getting lost to the culture at large?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Bless, Father! Your site seems to be eating my comments.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Fr. Andrew - if you're still around, I have submitted this comment. And this one:

“I think Protestant Converts are the ones who are best positioned to know the fundamentals of the Gospel. ”

I think Protestant Converts (I’m one) are best positioned to turn an organic institution wedded to its native culture thru an inter-generational procession of baptisms, weddings and funerals, into a book club for middle-aged amateur theologians.

patrick kelly said...

Reading this reminds me how blessed I am to have found my current parish in my journey into Orthodoxy.

We both embrace evangelism and encourage braving the challenges of marriage and blessings of many children. There are several 5+ children families, mostly home schooled, and they are thriving and growing in the faith.

I write this not to brag or gloat, but to give hope to those who long for this so they will know others pursue the same path successfully. As for me, I have failed to be such an example,

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.

August said...

My Mom is working (as a secretary I think) at an RC parish near New Orleans and she received news of this collection the Archdiocese wanted everyone to be a part of- which was a collection to help poor people to keep (or put) their children in Catholic schools. Well, Mom called the person in charge of the drive up to let her know that most folks weren't going to want to be a part of this drive, because there aren't any Catholic schools where they are at. I felt compelled to mention to my Mom that this was because she's deep in Catholic territory, and, as she well knows, we are now commanded to go out to the peripheries.
I think this is a classic case- I suspect New Orleans area catholic schools are now trying to educate inner city youth, rather than moving to where Catholics are and educating them. The non-Catholic kids might get a better education than they otherwise would, but they don't tend to become Catholics.
It is more of this classic retard behavior.

Fr. Andrew said...

Well, now it seems that your site is also eating my comments! But I'll try to recreate what I just typed in...

Anyway, it seems that most of the gist of your comments, as regards my post, could be summarized as, "I would have liked it if your post had been about a different topic."

But just to address your comments:

You mention the baptismal font as the source of new Christians. Is there some other source? You of course mean babies, but to suggest limiting things in that manner is to miss the point of the Gospel, whose telos is not merely to increase the size of the Church but to rescue mankind from sin and death. In preaching the Gospel, we preach so that all mankind may be brought into the Church, not merely so that we may compete for market share.

Regarding large families, I am of course in favor of them and encourage them as I am able. I can't actually speak to the rather wide net you're casting regarding what anyone else is saying, though. But I do not believe that the point of having a large family is merely to increase the size of the Church.

As regards evangelizing non-Christians and the non-Orthodox, of course we have to do that. And we do indeed bring them truth. Put merely as a proposition, of course Orthodoxy is just another truth "claim," but Christ is not a proposition nor an argument, but Life Himself. And He has power to convert and to save that is just not in false gods and religions. So, yes, we should unabashedly preach Christ to the non-Christian and work through both apologetics and (good, non-compromising) ecumenism to bring about the return to Orthodoxy of the heterodox.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Is the Church immune to cost-benefit analysis? What's the bigger bang for the buck: evangelism or encouraging marriage and childbearing? Muslims Hasidim Mormons and Amish seem to be doing well by the latter approach. Do people really not know where to find us?

Do you actually evangelize Jews Muslims Hindus Buddhists Catholics and any of the innumerable Protestant sects? What's the contacts to conversion ratio? You mention ecumenical gatherings; do you really proselytize at such events?

Understand I am not a bashful person and am happy to expound (at length) on the True Faith if asked. But I'd be very reluctant to start spouting off with relations from Jewish Muslim Protestant Catholic backgrounds. How do you broach the topic?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I submit that a Church primarily focused on "evangelism" will end up a spiritual tourist trap for middle-aged converts, ultimately dwindling and all but disappearing, like the Christian Scientists and the Shakers.

A Church focused on feeding and caring for her flock ends up wedded to her people thru an inter-generational succession of baptisms, weddings and funerals; a true, organic institution safeguarding the Tradition. The evangelism will take care of itself.

Fr. Andrew said...

The evangelism will take care of itself.

Not exactly Christ's words, though, are they?

Anyway, I don't see a dichotomy between both taking care of the flock and bringing all mankind into it. Both things are commanded by the Lord and His Apostles, and neither are antithetical to the other. Indeed, one (evangelism) feeds into the other (feeding the flock).

If making evangelism one's "primary" (perhaps you mean "sole"?) occupation will yield a "book club" parish, making "caring for our own" one's primary (again, "sole"?) occupation will yield what the American northeast sees everywhere -- dying parishes. Apostasy, nominalism and of course the reality of kids just moving away are the result of that approach to things.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I think evangelism certainly has its place, and I've asked you for details on how I should evangelize the Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Catholics, Buddhists, and Protestants I know in personal and family life. How do you do this, specifically? I picture a polite, entirely passive approach which belies any zealous evangelistic fervor.

The Amish came here with 5,000 people 95 years ago. Now they're up to 300,000 and still growing and viable. Do you think there's nothing we can learn from them? The Hasidim? The Mormons?

In realistic terms, what is the utility and ROI on "evangelism" in the US, where there are churches built next door to each other and Muslims move here to build mosques?

What are the rates of conversion to Islam vs. Christianity? Do clergy talk about this?

Fr. Andrew said...

How do you do this, specifically?

That depends a great deal on the situation, culture and relationships one is in. I'm not sure anything programmatic will work in all situations. It might work for some, but especially in cultures which are advertised at to death (e.g., the US), it likely won't.

The Amish came here with 5,000 people 95 years ago. Now they're up to 300,000 and still growing and viable. Do you think there's nothing we can learn from them? The Hasidim? The Mormons?

No, I don't think that. Why would you think I do?

In realistic terms, what is the utility and ROI on "evangelism" in the US, where there are churches built next door to each other and Muslims move here to build mosques?

What are the rates of conversion to Islam vs. Christianity? Do clergy talk about this?


I really don't know the answers to those questions or even how to get them. Do you?

As for the "utility" of evangelism, that isn't mentioned in Christ's command. And, based on ROI, He certainly wasn't much of a success Himself. Utilitarianism isn't a Christian virtue, though.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I'm trying to picture the operational details of evangelism in the United States, where you can find any number of Christian churches all espousing the "true faith" within blocks of each other. You and your correspondents seem to have this vision of yourselves as coming ashore in North Africa to evangelize the pagans. Again, do you really think nobody knows where to find us?

Operationally, how does evangelism work? Do we invite co-workers out for lunch and lay it on them? Processions in front of Hindu and Buddhist temples, and mosques and synagogues, and Protestant churches?

Like I said, I am not bashful in the slightest at inviting people to "come and see." But being forward about this is, frankly, going to lead to some awkward, impolitic moments. Again, you're picturing things in the context of the Church in the late Classical era, when we were preaching this new doctrine to the pagans. A few centuries later, and we had the full might of an Empire behind us and the great problems of the day were not "evangelism" but "heresy." Neither condition is prevalent now, but the hierarchy seem awfully backward-looking on this point.

August said...

"The evangelism will take care of itself.

Not exactly Christ's words, though, are they?"

Christ's words, to particular people, who, it turns out, did a reasonably good job considering the name of Jesus did reach the far corners of the Earth.

It seems just possible that now, at this particular time, evangelism could well take care of itself. That it may be more important for young women to be acquainted with 1st Timothy- so that they might know motherhood is more important than some useless degree or even a ministry for that matter.

But, in the end, I think it is the risk level that really bothers people. A real church threatens these stupid and dangerous governments- mostly by providing an actual example of good governance.

Fr. Andrew said...

You and your correspondents seem to have this vision of yourselves as coming ashore in North Africa to evangelize the pagans.

Um, what?

Again, do you really think nobody knows where to find us?

Do you really think I think that? I'm not sure you're actually responding to what I'm writing.

I do think that most Americans (at least) are unaware of Orthodoxy. That's certainly been my experience, even where I now live, an area which has some 9 Orthodox parishes in a single valley.

Operationally, how does evangelism work? Do we invite co-workers out for lunch and lay it on them? Processions in front of Hindu and Buddhist temples, and mosques and synagogues, and Protestant churches?

Why not? You're basically asking for a book-length (or more) work to be written in the comments of a blog post.

I've actually published elsewhere such "operational" stuff, especially focused on things that can be done at the parish level. There's no dearth of other material out there on this, as well. I'm not sure why you're pursuing the "But nothing is out there! / Nothing is being done!" line here, an approach which seems to be endemic to Internet discourse. Everyone is outraged that nothing is being done no one is saying something they want said, but of course being able to make such claims in the first places requires that you survey literally everything everyone is saying.


Look, it's clear to me that you have your own narrative that you're trying to promote, but what's not clear to me is that it's actually in response to anything that I (at least) am saying. You're responding to arguments I'm not making.

Again, you would seem to have preferred my post to be about something other than what it was about. It's okay that you're not interested in what I'm talking about.

Fr. Andrew said...

Christ's words, to particular people, who, it turns out, did a reasonably good job considering the name of Jesus did reach the far corners of the Earth.

So, what you're saying is that the Great Commission was for the Apostles and no one else?

If so, the rest of Church history doesn't seem to have gotten that message.

Also: There are still people not in the Church. So, the job is not done.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I really don't know the answers to those questions or even how to get them. Do you?

If I were Christian clergy dependent for my entire livelihood on donated money, I'd definitely be thinking about it.

As for the "utility" of evangelism, that isn't mentioned in Christ's command. And, based on ROI, He certainly wasn't much of a success Himself.

Utilitarianism isn't a Christian virtue, though.


How very noble. But I seem to recall some advice about "shaking the dust off." What is it--specifically and operationally--that you believe the Orthodox are not doing but should be? Do we need a website? Pamphleteering? What?

That depends a great deal on the situation, culture and relationships one is in. I'm not sure anything programmatic will work in all situations. It might work for some, but especially in cultures which are advertised at to death (e.g., the US), it likely won't.

You're speaking entirely in the third person. I'm guessing you do what I do and are happy to discuss Orthodoxy if asked but otherwise you respect people's cultural space.

August said...

I believe conversion rates are in the single digits- 7% if I remember correctly.
I tried to find reference to this directly, and I am guessing I heard it from Larry Iannaccone when he was interviewed by Russ Roberts on Econtalk a long time ago, but unfortunately the site Iannaccone had some of his research up on has gone down. Frankly, conversion to Orthodoxy may be even lower since to do so probably requires some intelligence, and there are a variety of denominations marketing feelgoods to the average and below average.

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2006/10/the_economics_o_7.html

The Anti-Gnostic said...

If so, the rest of Church history doesn't seem to have gotten that message.

Post-Constantine, most of Church history has been concerned with the problem of heresy.

I really don't see us marching off to preach to the Baptists much less the Muslims two blocks over. I think a Church actively feeding her sheep has something to offer the un-Churched; middle-aged people enamored of arcane theology, not so much.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Frankly, conversion to Orthodoxy may be even lower since to do so probably requires some intelligence, and there are a variety of denominations marketing feelgoods to the average and below average

This is the other ignored point: arcane theology and elaborate liturgics appeal solely to high-g individuals.

The Church should be there for all strata of society, including and perhaps especially those just looking for some sense of status in a world that chews them up and spits them out, and reasonable assurance that they can get their kids married off to good spouses from good families.

August said...

"So, what you're saying is that the Great Commission was for the Apostles and no one else?"

This reinforces my biases, as it is disingenuous. You don't ask this of people trying to explain to you how to achieve the goal. If you keep going down the modern evangelical road, you will close the doors of your church. This is what happens when no one has children, and those that do have children have them outside of the church.

IA said...

I am very interested in this discussion even though I'm not Orthodox. I have one question and I'd be grateful if anyone would take the time to answer. Namely, does the Orthodox Church believe in Human Rights? If so, what are they?

Thanks to anyone who wants to respond.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

IA - that's above my paygrade. But I imagine it would be something along the lines of rulers should be just and all people should be treated with dignity. I imagine "human rights" would be as scarce in the writings of the Church Fathers as "democracy."

Ingemar said...

AG, it is clear that you and Fr. Andrew are talking past each other.

From my experience, people who don't "evangelize" (and I use this term to include more trivial things like TV shows, hobbies, political ideas) do so out of fear, apathy or shame.

I'm not saying which of those apply to you, AG. That's your issue.

When you complain that Orthodox Christians Are Not Like Other Religions Enough it seems to me that you're criticizing them based on things that are totally incidental to the Christian life. I recall that the Apostles labored tirelessly and fearlessly because of their belief that the Lord would be coming soon.

If we say we believe but do not act in line with those beliefs... I think both James and John had words for people like that.

The Church is in the business of salvation but you would see it as a business that has to expand its market share, a consumer choice in a sea of many alternative such choices. Perhaps if we could seat you as the Patriarch of Constantinople you can enact such sweeping changes as abolishing monastic celibacy so that monks and nuns can make babies.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Ingemar - how do you "evangelize" to your Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, etc. friends and family members?

The question was asked directly to Fr. Andrew and his response was, it depends. I challenged him on that and suggested that he simply does what I do: he is happy to tell people about his faith if they inquire, but otherwise he respects their cultural space. He had the opportunity to correct me, but chose not to.

This belies his purported apostolic zeal for evangelism. Evangelism is actually easy. Nobody is getting thrown to the lions or hacked to death by a pagan tribe. The reason we don't hit the bricks to preach in front of the synagogues and mosques and evangelical meeting halls is 1) it would be impolitic and frankly rude, and 2) it would be ineffective, and we know it even if we can't bring ourselves to admit it.

I think a lot of lofty-sounding phrases and ideas are being thrown around to evade some hard realities about life in a secular, post-modern society.

Ingemar said...

>1) it would be impolitic and frankly rude

So it's better to let your neighbor go to Hell if it saves face?

>I think a lot of lofty-sounding phrases and ideas are being thrown around to evade some hard realities about life in a secular, post-modern society.

Those realities including we'd rather be nice and let our neighbors go to Hell rather than have the audacity to tell the the truth and have them think less of us.

The other reality is (quoting Barnhardt) we don't really believe any of that bullshit.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

So it's better to let your neighbor go to Hell if it saves face?

Need to answer that first question in my comment, champ. Let me know how your outreach goes at the local mosque and Sikh temple. (If you don't know where to find any, I can point you to one of each in my hometown.)

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Also, my wife has two very old and dear friends of her family who are Muslim since birth. They have always treated everybody with incredible respect and courtesy. How would you advise I bring up the topic of their eternal damnation with them?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The OCMC spends thousands of dollars for missions all over the globe. I guess they haven't realized they could just send them to Riverdale, GA.

Freeway said...

The pre-Tomos Metropolia was teeming with life. The services were served beautifully and reverently, the choirs were huge, the FROC provided opportunities for young people to meet, marry and raise children in like-minded communities. How will it be different this time?

This is not rhetorical, mind you. All of your points are worthy of consideration, AG, and I especially like that you're calling for your critics to put up. But the temptations we face today, and that my daughter will face at my age, are arguably worse than what decimated an entire generation of Orthodox.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Fr. John Peck has made some good points, but he seems not to be elaborating on the theme very much any more.

I imagine what happened to Orthodoxy was what happened to everyone: the 1960s. I don't know the pre-1960s history so I can't comment. But certain groups came thru with their praxis unchanged and are not only still here, but thriving. So that's probably where we should start our inquiry.

Cheech And Chong Found God said...

“What's the bigger bang for the buck: evangelism or encouraging marriage and childbearing?”

Evangelism leads to the preferred Christian lifestyle of marriage and childbearing.


“Muslims Hasidim Mormons and Amish seem to be doing well by the latter approach. Do people really not know where to find us?”



Perhaps people already are immersed with their daily activities within their congregation and are spiritually comfortable with their own religious decisions.


“But I'd be very reluctant to start spouting off with relations from Jewish Muslim Protestant Catholic backgrounds. How do you broach the topic?”

Easy. As a Christian, I recognize my love with Jesus while acknowledging other faiths legitimately exist. Should Jews, Hindus, Muslims, etc. desire on their own accord to know more about my faith, I am more than willing to share the Word of God. Regardless, their beliefs are not any “better” or “worse” than my own beliefs. They believe in a higher power and they act in accordance to their Holy Book.

Must I demand that they convert to “my” religion?

Must I shame them into thinking they are unworthy of God’s glory merely because they are “different” than I from a religious standpoint?

Evangelism is not "selling" your faith to anyone. The faith, to some, sells itself. For other people, they have "bought" into other faiths.


“You and your correspondents seem to have this vision of yourselves as coming ashore in North Africa to evangelize the pagans.”

Pagans to Christians, my friend. North Africans, like North Americans, embraced a faith. Some willingly converted through evangelical efforts, while others were forced to abandon their traditions. Nothing inherently immoral in trying to convince people to become a Christian, until that convincing becomes coercion.



“…we had the full might of an Empire behind us and the great problems of the day were not "evangelism" but “heresy.”

Indeed, the “might of an Empire” and accusations of “heresy”. That is one “spiritual tourist trap”.


“reasonable assurance that they can get their kids married off to good spouses from good families.”

Shouldn’t that be “white kids”??? We know how you feel about “vibrants”…


“Frankly, conversion to Orthodoxy may be even lower since to do so probably requires some intelligence…”

Since when does conversion to Orthodoxy require “some intelligence”?


“and there are a variety of denominations marketing feelgoods to the average and below average.”

Isn’t that characterization elitist?


“How would you advise I bring up the topic of their eternal damnation with them?”

They probably would accuse you of enduring the same thing! See, who is it for you to say that YOU absolutely know anyone is damned?

August said...

I do not think my arguments are particularly elitist, nor do I think them racist, but let me point out that even if they were, neither elitism nor racism necessarily make them untrue.

Modern evangelists are not evangelists- they are gamblers. Do you see any of them talking about Palamas? Have you had an in depth discussion about the 7 ecumenical councils with anyone? Have you ever tried to talk about the filoque to anyone? For the most part, you get glassy eyes and someone saying, 'that doesn't matter.'

No, modern evangelists try to sell feelings and they often end up preying on the weak, poor, downtrodden specifically because those are the people most likely to put up with whatever nonsense the evangelizer is into this week.

bluto said...

I think the modern church of all denominations spends too much effort on conversions and too little on making disciples. Working harder on the latter would seem to unify both goals.

Cheech And Chong Found God said...

“I do not think my arguments are particularly elitist, nor do I think them racist, but let me point out that even if they were, neither elitism nor racism necessarily make them untrue.”

But your argument is not necessarily true. When you say modern evangelists, to whom are you specifically referring to? Pat Robertson? Joel Osteen? What is your criteria?


“Do you see any of them talking about Palamas? Have you had an in depth discussion about the 7 ecumenical councils with anyone? Have you ever tried to talk about the filoque to anyone? For the most part, you get glassy eyes and someone saying, 'that doesn't matter.”



The Power of the Word of God embraces these important tenets by way of a powerful verbal message. Both work in concert.


“No, modern evangelists try to sell feelings and they often end up preying on the weak, poor, downtrodden specifically because those are the people most likely to put up with whatever nonsense the evangelizer is into this week.”

You are assuming that this particular flock is being emotionally hoodwinked, that they lack the intellectual and spiritual capacity to comprehend the Lord’s message and their relies responsibility to live and spread that message.



“I think the modern church of all denominations spends too much effort on conversions and too little on making disciples.”


Ok, to you, what are the metrics involved as to who and is not a “disciple”?

August said...

I mean pretty much everyone, including the two obvious examples you pointed out. Evangelism has been heavily influenced by modern marketing principles, and people dumb down the message. Some evangelists are actually dumb, and cannot understand that their simple dialectic based on whatever they think the bible means isn't particularly relevant to Christianity.
This sentence worries me:


"The Power of the Word of God embraces these important tenets by way of a powerful verbal message. Both work in concert."

If you look at a very evangelical phrase 'personal relationship with Jesus' and the falling rates of people going to church at all, well, apparently the Power of the Word of God like anti-matter, causing faith to implode and shredding what is left of our Christianity.

It all sounds like a comic book promise in the end- where if you just step up and talk, your superpower will appear, and suddenly all these people will believe in Jesus. Meanwhile, in the real world, more and more people fall away in no small part due to this approach- we don't need just talk, we need to be able to live.

Cheech And Chong Found God said...

“I mean pretty much everyone, including the two obvious examples you pointed out.”

They are God-fearing men who seek to promote the faith in their own manner, as clearly evident in Romans 12:11--“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality."


“Evangelism has been heavily influenced by modern marketing principles...”

The apostle Paul had numerous hardships in being a messenger of Christ. He faced scorn and persecution. But in spite of all the hardship he wrote: "But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, ‘I believed in God, so I spoke.’ We know that God, Who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.

In other words, “I believe in what I’m selling that I’m willing to endure this kind of rejection. Because what I’m offering will benefit the world!”


“and the falling rates of people going to church...”

People who embrace the word of God need only the Bible by their side, as the Church follows them.


“where if you just step up and talk, your superpower will appear, and suddenly all these people will believe in Jesus.”

It’s talking about and acting upon the faith, exactly what Robertson and Osteen demonstrate, and what millions of Christians do every single day.


“more and more people fall away in no small part due to this approach...”



Why, because there is only ONE particular way to preach and/or worship God?

Bert said...

Corvinus has taken yet another name.

NZT said...

Interesting stuff in these comments. I've been struggling with the difficulties of practical evangelism myself (as a Protestant, but never mind that now) and was drifting towards some of the points you make well here, AG. Rants about "so you're just going to let your co-worker BURN IN HELL because you're too much of a COWARD to share salvation in Christ with him?" are just posturing. We are to be wise as serpents, and the wrong word at the wrong time is not only not helpful, it just hardens the person in their current views (weirdos with megaphones yelling at passersby on street corners are not conspicuously successful in their evangelism, though they do seem to feel pretty satisfied with themselves). Effective evangelism seems to require patience, tactics, and some knowledge of the other person's mindset, and the process can take a long time (it definitely did in my case).

Which leads to the next point. The doors of the church should always be open to those who knock, and they are. But as your verse about shaking the dust from their feet illustrates, the Apostles were advised that many would reject their message and it was necessary to leave them to God and move on rather than casting their pearls before swine. And it's hard to find a non-Christian today who hasn't heard the message and rejected it; I don't think I know any such people myself, except for children.

To your other point about encouraging community and natalism, I can't imagine how anyone could dispute it. I have some issues with Mormon and Amish beliefs but I have enormous respect for both groups for the way they hold their members to high standards and take community seriously. I think in many ways they are much closer to how God meant for people to live than the rest of us, and you're right that there's a lot to learn from them, especially the idea of cradle-to-grave immersion in a strong community of believers. I think you're right that in the long run that kind of setup becomes a powerful magnet for converts too.

Bumbling American said...

Continuing your theme: A top Vatican official has called the Irish vote a grave defeat and says "the Church must strengthen its commitment to evangelization." Outreach, that'll solve everything...