Showing posts from December, 2020

Do We Need to Send Money for Missions?

And how do we apply all these ideas in our parishes today? Do we build our own mission parishes here at home or send money to foreign “missions”? I do not want to go too far, as if to suggest that the Protestant drive toward missions that I grew up with is completely misplaced, because, otherwise, “how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” And truth be told, their zealousness toward missions shames us. However, I would say that using money to support people to go and live among another culture often gives us a false sense of self-accomplishment. We feel like we are “doing missions”, but we choose to ignore the negative effects of what is actually happening. Your parish will choose how to use your money and how to engage in missions. However, there is one waning sign I would like to share, something that might be helpful in determining to whom or to what organization you should send your money. An organization totally focused on evangelism and without any mention of es

A Problematic Viewpoint of Monks in Missions

 “If you are called to be in the monastery, you better not go [into missions], and if you are called to go, you better not be in the monastery.” How these words came from the mouth of an Orthodox Christian deeply involved in missions, I cannot understand. In context, it was clear that this viewpoint came from someone who sees monasteries as merely a place to provide spiritual health to parishioners in the world, maybe something like a retreat center. Even if that was all monasteries were, then we should we not start monasteries wherever we are involved in mission so that the host people can also have the benefit of that spiritual guidance? But it is not a well thought out viewpoint; it is (as a best case scenario) an accidental misunderstanding of monasticism and the various vocations of the Christian faith, likely from a leftover Protestant, Romo-phobic viewpoint. Point 1 : the easiest case to make for monastics in missions. Later in the same person’s talk, there was an encouragement

What Is Incarnational Missions?

 The term “incarnational missions” is one of those catch phrases used so much it almost lacks any meaning when we hear it now. It seems that now, all it really means is ‘to go and live among a people’. The idea of incarnational missions is based on the Incarnation of Christ, God taking on flesh, the uncreated entering into the created. St. Gregory of Nazianzus’s oft-quoted, “that which is not assumed is not healed”, not only helps us understand the impact of God’s Incarnation, but would naturally also extend to incarnational missions. As for the Incarnation of Christ, he becomes fully man...every aspect of man. Therefore, every aspect of man is healed as it is united to God. And in missions, the extent to which we are truly incarnational will be the extent to which the world will be able to be healed by the gospel message. In the past twenty-five years, as we have watched “old school” Protestant mission efforts be retired out and new missions methodology implemented, we have also seen

What Is Living a Christian Witness?

Heading toward a fuller understanding of what it means to live incarnational lives, whether you stay in your local parish or are sent out to cross into another culture and incarnate Christ in that context, we should first investigate some key words from the gospels to build an appropriate understanding of what it means to “bear witness” to the gospel. Witness , testimony . Maybe some of you have heard this before, but it is a good reminder: the word “witness” and “testimony” are the same word in the Scriptures. To bear witness, false witness, give a testimony, “his testimony is true”, and every other instance, are built on the same root word in Greek. And that is not all. The root on which they are built is the word martyr . So, intentionally transposing these words in English will help us feel some of the nuance that word holds in all of its various contexts: “There was a man missioned from God, whose name was John. This man came for a martyrdom , to bear forth a living martyrdom of

What Is the Difference between Missions and Evangelism?

What do all these words mean? That will greatly help us understand the commission given to Christians to “go and make disciples...teaching them to observe”. And particularly, we need to look at the difference between missions and evangelism. Missions . Think of the word missive , as in ‘to send out a missive ’. It is ‘to send’, which would mean it carries the same meaning as “apostle”, ‘one sent out’. A disciple is a learner, but the Disciples became Apostles when they were sent out. So, missions is when someone is sent. A missionary is the person who was sent. “Mission parish” is a small problem, unless we think of it only as a parish established in a place that required the Church to stretch out and develop a parish in a new place; that could be seen as ‘sending’, I guess. Evangelism . From the Greek word for ‘good news’ or ‘good message’. An angel is a messenger, and even in today’s English word, you can still see “angel” inside of “evangelism”. The word “evangelism” is directly tie

What Was the Gospel before the Gospel?

Trick question for you: what does it mean to “preach the gospel”? To tell others about the death and resurrection of Christ, right? Then, what did Jesus mean when he said to the disciples of John the Baptist: “‘The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them’”? Jesus was not yet crucified and resurrected. So, what was this gospel they were preaching? And that is not the only challenging use of “gospel” in the Gospels. When Jesus sends out the Twelve, tells them to take nothing, staff, bread, or money; shake off the dust if a city does not receive you; the passage then says, “So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” And again, elsewhere, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’

Tabernacled in Us

Having grown up Protestant, books like Baruch were not in my Old Testament back in the old days. Don't worry, this is not that post, kicking up dust. Maybe some other day. I just came across a verse in the book of Baruch the other day that caught my eye, and I am glad it did. Especially in this Nativity season, as we prepare for the coming of God himself and his taking on of human flesh, the uncreated taking on created nature, this verse fits in perfectly. This is our God; no other shall be compared to him. … Afterwards, he was seen upon the earth and lived among men ( Baruch 3:36,38) . This clearly refers to Christ (...though I cannot figure out what the writer might have meant at the time of writing). This one simple verse holds the truth that sets Christianity apart from all other religions: God himself became man. And, in Greek, that is not "lived among men" as translated here and also in the Prologue of the Gospel of John in just about every translation out there.