by Orrologion (March 23, 2009)
“I think it is important for Orthodox to be more thoughtful about their online presence, especially as this relates to sharing the faith with non-Orthodox.
A couple of random thoughts I am hoping to hang together in a more pithy fashion one day (in no particular order):
1. Evangelism is about Orthodoxy. First and foremost, Orthodox evangelism must be about Orthodoxy; about what Orthodoxy is, what we believe and do, and why. It is not about what other Christians or other religions do or believe wrongly.
2. Orthodoxy is about Jesus. Orthodoxy is a means to an end: the God-man, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Word of God Himself (not itself), Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy is not the history of the Orthodox.
3. Answers require questions. If no one asks your opinion or understanding, don’t give it. St. Peter’s exhortation to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15) assumes a question has been asked.
4. “Meekness and fear”. St. Peter caps his apologetical command in his first letter (1 Peter 3:15, again) with how we are to go about answering others’ questions on the faith – “with meekness and fear”. If you find yourself other than “meek”, shut up and do 12 prostrations; if you find yourself speaking in a tone other than that which you would use in Confession, shut up and do 30 prostrations.
5. There is no such thing as an Orthodox blog. There are only blogs by Orthodox Christians – let neither blogger nor reader think otherwise. Most bloggers are laymen, some are clergy, few are saints and saints are not perfect. Orthodoxy speaks for Orthodoxy, no one person or group of people, regardless of how eminent, is Orthodoxy or speaks for her – Nestorius was a Patriarch of Constantinople, Judas a disciple.
6. Inquirers & Debaters. Inquirers are those that are sincerely curious, interested and/or struggling with understanding the Orthodox faith, its theology and practice; this may include comparison with the beliefs of other faiths. These questions must be answered in accordance with #1 and #3. Debaters are those convinced only of the rightness of their own faith and argumentation. They must be answerd once, twice, perhaps thrice. Thereafter, any conversation or answer given will do no more than sear their conscience and establish them in error – add no millstone to thy neighbor. Cease conversation with debaters thus: “Please release us from these cares. Therefore, going about your own ways, write no longer concerning dogmas; but if you do, write only for friendship’s sake. Farewell.” (Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople)
7. You are not Philip. It is best to check your answers against others. Trust not in your own ability; trust not in your understanding; trust not yourself. You are your own proof why. Ask, first, your spiritual father – he knows your soul – while you ask God and His friends in prayer. Only then ask works by ancient and modern Fathers; then ask those with more experience and knowledge than you how to understand what you read. You are not Phillip, you are the eunuch. (Acts 8:26-39)”