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Re: New Church Construction at Parumala

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  • Sajy Thannikkottu, Kathmandu
    I also support Jacobite groups right to construct a place of worship for our God. However, I do have reservation about anyone constructing a new church few
    Message 1 of 33 , Sep 29, 2010
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      I also support Jacobite groups right to construct a place of worship for our God.

      However, I do have reservation about anyone constructing a new church few hundred meters away from the existing church.

      It is true Jacobites always claim that they are a separate church & has nothing to do with MOSC faith, etc but same time they address MOSC as "methran kakshi". That means when they are claiming a separate identity their conscience says it is not separate but a faction so calling the other faction as "Methran faction".

      Though Jacobite is calling them "Jacobite", the fact is that MOSC is also Jacobite for the reason that MOSC also practices the faith of Jacob Burdana. I use the term "Jacobite" to refer the other party only due to the absence of a term to indicate this group as HB Thomas I made them a nameless group. Earlier, we had two different groups called Patriarchal faction & Methran faction. As HB Thomas I wanted to establish that it is not a faction but a separate identity, he has selected the word "Jacobite" in the society constitution. This has only supported the claim of Roman Catholics as they were saying RC was the only church in the world established 2000 years ago & rest all churches got divided from RC. RC is even using the word "Jacobite" to establish their claim that orthodox church (both Malankara and Syrian) was established only after Jacob Burdana. The term "Jacobite" was rejected by SOC and also this term is mentioned in MOSC constitution indicating as a wrong practice.

      Since we practice same faith, I wish if any group is going to build a new church, it should be at least 5 kilometers radius away from the existing church, so that it will be convenient for those who are staying far from the existing church.

      I believe someday we will become a united church and two churches few meters away from each other makes no sense for their faithful. For the same reason, I consider any loss of MOSC is a loss of Jacobites also and any loss of Jacobite is a loss of MOSC also. And I always look at MOSC/ Jacobite happily when they grow as that growth is eventually going to be a growth of our united church.

      However, if this was a Pentacostal church or Marthoma church, I would have taken a different stand as they are totally a separate church and have got nothing to do with our faith.


      Sajy Thannikkottu, Kathmandu
    • Rev. Dn. Philip Mathew, Bronx, NY
      Dear Mr Alexander, You ended your last correspondence with me by implying that my post was specifically directed towards you. While I admit that your and Mr
      Message 33 of 33 , Oct 19, 2010
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        Dear Mr Alexander,

        You ended your last correspondence with me by implying that my post was
        specifically directed towards you. While I admit that your and Mr Eapen's
        comments were the immediate cause for my jumping in when I did, I did not
        address anyone in my response because you are not the only one in our Church
        who has these opinions, and so what I had to say I said to all. But I would
        like to address some of the issues you have raised.

        Evidently, you have a big ax to grind with the "Western missionary model"
        (from our previous conversations, I wonder if you don't have an ax to grind
        with "the West" in general, which is ironic since you're from New York). In
        this conversation, we haven't really defined what the "Western missionary
        model" is and what it is not, but I think we have some of the same things in
        mind since there is a standard stereotype of this model. I thought my post
        was sufficient in its rejection of this, but you disagree, citing my
        "begrudging" acknowledgment of some of your points followed by a summary
        dismissal. You may think that last sentence is a perfect example of this.
        But in viewing things this way, you betray your hand and illustrate my
        point. It is true that much damage has been done in the name of
        evangelization, but abusus non tollit usum. We must reject the "Western
        missionary model" if by that one means the spread of Christianity not for
        the sake of bringing people to life in Christ, but as a means toward
        cultural, political, economic, or other domination of peoples through
        various ways and means. But that doesn't require that we eliminate the idea
        of evangelization in toto. On the contrary, evangelization is an authentic
        part of the Church's life and mission, without which the Church cannot be
        who and what it was constituted to be. The "Western missionary model" can
        be a powerful reminder to Orthodox Christians of what not to do, without
        discouraging us from evangelization completely. There are many bad examples
        of missionary work in the West, but there are also a number of good ones.
        Similarly, there are numerous examples of missionary work in the Orthodox
        East that involve more than what I'll call the "quiet witness" model of
        evangelization. To see them will require removing the blinders from one's

        The experience of the saints in the Orthodox Church is all love and
        humility. Their humility (which is not a character trait alone, but a gift
        of God) leads the authentic saints to realize precisely how far from
        holiness they really are--a paradox to our minds, surely, because we see
        them as super-holy compared to ourselves, but this is their experience,
        because they see God as super-holy compared to themselves. So yes, on their
        own authority and initiative, none of them would dare to take on such
        activity. The authentic saints always ran away from office: St Ambrose
        tried to avoid becoming bishop of Milan; St Ephrem, St John Chrysostom, St
        Gregory the Theologian, etc. all had the same experience. But their
        humility is also such that when the Church gives them a responsibility, the
        authentic saints will take it up wholeheartedly, because their trust is in
        God. That's where their love comes in: the love of God, and the consequent
        love of neighbor, which is also the gift of God, and not a mere human
        virtue. So I am not saying that the true saint will never, ever undertake
        this work, as you allege I said; they will never take it upon themselves, on
        their own initiative, to do this work, but only if it is given from above,
        and if it is given from above, then they will live, breathe, and bleed this
        work, because the call is from God. This is the difference between true
        humility and false humility: the saints' humility will have them believe,
        with St Paul, that they are foremost among sinners, but they are not too
        humble to utterly reject the call of the Church and of God for a certain
        work. They may believe themselves to be eminently unqualified, but they
        will put their trust in God and do it to the best of their ability. False
        humility will reject the call of the Church and of God no matter what,
        because it is ultimately born of pride.

        In your post, you make several allegations about my position, among which
        are that I prefer to "lower the bar" for the Church's missionaries. I
        categorically reject this and all the others as your misunderstandings of my
        position, and nothing more or less. I think I am maintaining a high
        standard for Christians in general, and for ministers in particular. We are
        called to be saints, and it is definitely possible to be saintly in this
        life. Your statement that "If we cannot raise enough saintly people up in
        our community, then we have no business preaching our religion and values to
        others" is based on a false premise; namely, that our faith and values
        derive their authority from the sanctity and perfection of those who profess
        them. This is wrong: our faith and values are revealed by God in human
        history, and their truth value is not dependent on us. If we believe the
        things we say we believe, then we ought to share them with others so that
        they may freely choose to enjoy the same blessings. We don't need to have a
        certificate of perfection to do this (who would even be able to award this
        degree?); human weakness is to be constantly engaged so that we can become
        holy--only hypocrisy and pride are to be shunned.

        Your remark that I "would rather see more outside converts, than more saints
        within because you believe it is impossible for a good number of us ordinary
        people to be saintly" is simply flat-out wrong, as anyone with a clear mind
        should be able to see by now. First off, I reject as false the apparent
        dichotomy between "us ordinary people" and myself. I consider myself an
        ordinary person; my diaconal ordination did not render me a saint, it made
        me a servant of the "ordinary people": to the best of my ability, I am
        called to try to help them, and they often help me more and put me to
        shame. Secondly, I have already rejected the idea that "ordinary people"
        cannot in great numbers become saints: to become a saint is the vocation of
        every baptized Christian, because to be a saint is to be in communion with
        God. It's not that I prefer the number of outside converts to be higher
        because it's impossible for many to be saints: I would like more people to
        enjoy fellowship with the true God than just the three million or so members
        of the MOSC. In that sense only is it a "numbers game". Thirdly, why are
        they "outside converts"? If they join us freely, they are not "outside",
        they are "us". People will sometimes say such things with the implication
        that "Orthodoxy" is nothing more than a caste, and I reject that, and so
        ought the Church, as it has done and continues to do throughout its history.

        In my post, I accused you of nothing you allege, because I wasn't addressing
        you specifically. I was simply making the observation that there are those
        who look at evangelization and equate it with the negative "Western" models
        they have seen or experienced. Like you, I decry the fact that "we have
        equated evangelization with its Western definition and model", primarily
        because evangelization is of the esse of the Church and should not be
        abandoned because of abuses, but also because I reject the idea that there
        is a "Western definition" of evangelization that involves all the negative
        things you seem to think are part of it. I think that the authentic Western
        Christian tradition has more or less the same vision as we do in the
        Orthodox East regarding evangelization, but this has been hijacked over time
        by kings and rulers in the name of cultural, political, and economic
        concerns, by opportunistic religious leaders for the advancement of their
        teachings, and so on. I reject the hijacking, I want to promote the truth.

        Finally, a note about your quote from the late Metropolitan Paulos Mor
        Gregorios. You have not identified the source of the quote, context, etc.,
        and so it is hard to address it, except as your attempt to pit Paulos Mor
        Gregorios against me. From what little you have quoted, I'm not convinced
        the late Metropolitan and I would disagree on this matter substantially; as
        an Orthodox bishop and theologian, I trust that his views on evangelization
        throughout his body of scholarly and pastoral work were more nuanced than
        the precious little being presented in this tiny quote. But insofar as
        church history demonstrates that even Patriarchs can fall away from
        Orthodoxy, the Gospel and its proper interpretation (that is to say,
        Orthodox theology) must be the final criterion for all of us. Name dropping
        doesn't work in matters of faith because truth is no respecter of persons.
        Metropolitan Mor Gregorios would certainly agree with this, as he was
        ordained, as all Orthodox bishops are, under an opened Gospel book.

        Anyway, I do not wish to carry on a lengthy debate here and take up the
        readers' time. If you would like to continue this further, please let the
        moderators know, and we can arrange something offline.

        Dn Philip Mathew
        St Mary's Orthodox Church, Bronx, NY
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