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Remember us, brothers & sisters

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  • bovineslug
    Greetings, I am new to this group, and I would like to take a moment of introduction. I pray that these words will be an encouraging blessing to you. By
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2002
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      Greetings,

      I am new to this group, and I would like to take a moment of
      introduction. I pray that these words will be an encouraging
      blessing to you. By sharing my experiences, and subsequently my
      introduction to Holy Orthodoxy (via the Indian Churches), I hope to
      inspire my brothers and sisters in the Syrian Orthodox Church to
      better appreciate their tradition. I also pray that my words will
      encourage the Syrian Church to remember those of us who have received
      the honor of coming to know your tradition, and why we desparately
      need your help to bring us to the fulness of Christian truth.

      I am an American, of British and Native American descent. I was
      raised an evangelical protestant and my faith has always been the
      most important thing in my life. Since I was young, I had a strong
      sense of religious inquiry. I was quite independent and attended
      several churches of various traditions, even at the young age of 10.

      My journey eventually led me to a more experiential and charismatic
      form of worship, known to many today as Pentecostalism. However, the
      intellectual and spiritual depth of this movement soon proved to be
      lacking. So i left, and began my own studies in College. During
      these years I spent most of my time studying western theology, mostly
      liberal historical criticism ("higher criticism"). This led me to
      the doors of atheism, where I lingered for several years. After
      receiving my B.A. in Religious Studies, I slowly discovered that my
      education was exclusively western, and had several blind spots
      concerning the Church Universal.

      As a protestant, I never understood the purpose of the eucharist.
      Our tradition generally relegated this act to a irreverent side
      ritual, and few of us understood why it was necessary in the first
      place. We had little if no sacramental theology. As I began to
      study the eucharist, I was introduced to liturgics and ecclesiology
      (something completely absent from my college education!).

      Let me add this note to further bring out the thrust of my message; I
      am known in evangelical circles as a "cultural guru", in the sense
      that I have always had a keen understanding of the ever shifting
      landscape of American culture (and sub-cultures). For the
      evangelical church, this is a great asset, as our worship and
      outreach has generally followed the trends of secular philosophy and
      pop-culture. My ability to translate Christian truths (as I then
      understood them) in our cultural context came naturally for me. When
      I discovered the centrality of the Holy eucharist in early Christian
      worship, it was as if I discovered the missing link!

      Right now, there is a major shift occuring in the Protestant church.
      I have been invited to several panel discussions where concerned
      leaders are struggling to figure out how to do ministry in this post-
      modern, "post-religious" culture. The old ways of following culture
      are becoming more difficult, if not impossible to implement an
      effective strategy in reaching people. This has caused many of us to
      re-examine our approach. In doing so, many of us have discovered the
      ancient traditions of Holy Orthodoxy. One example of this is the
      incredible growth of the Byzantine Antiochian Archdiocese in North
      America (hundreds of thousands of evangelical protestants are joining
      Metropolitan Saliba).

      I am not among those who joined the Byzantine Church. The truth is
      that I do not yet belong to a canonically recognized Oriental
      Orthodox Church either. But this has not prevented me from being
      greatly rewarded by my interactions with The Syrian, Armenian,
      Coptic, and other OO Churches. I find in them the most intact form
      of ancient Christianity. I am often internally persuaded that I must
      proceed to full reception into Communion, and perhaps this is what
      will eventually happen. However, I believe that this decision must
      be made with utmost sincerity and with an honest heart. I see
      several Americans (including clergy) who seek entrance in the Church
      for reasons of position and comfort, rather than a wholehearted
      embrace of the Orthodox faith. Until i can honestly stand with full
      conviction in ALL of Orthodox theology, ecclesiology, and
      comtemporary praxis...then I must refrain from taking that final step.

      I have watched for quite some time, the debate in the Malankara
      Churches. To a westerner, the situation is initially overwhelmingly
      complicated. However, I have followed long enough to understand the
      positions of all those involved. My purpose here is not to take a
      side, as my opinion is certainly of no value. What I most urgently
      want to convey to you all is this; Remember us brothers and sisters!
      the global community is getting smaller day by day. This means that
      Syrian Orthodoxy is being observed more and more by those of us in
      the west.

      There are many of us who would be eternally grateful to receive the
      ancient blessings you have to offer to our disintegrating western
      culture. We NEED you to be a light for us. We desparately need you
      to see beyond your historical experience, to look to the
      future...where multitudes of westerners await reception into the
      Universal blessing of Holy Orthodoxy! But you must remember our
      cultural/historical context. You must learn how to translate the
      faith into our dialect, without compromising Holy Tradition. I
      personally feel it has been a grave mistake of the Orthodox Church,
      to have left theological creativity behind in the Middle Ages. The
      early Syriac tradition is brilliantly creative and this is what the
      Church owes its very life to (remember Mar Jacob Bardaeus, Mar
      Severus and others who defied opposition to bring the true faith to
      the people). We must look to the Fathers for help, but there must
      also be Fathers among us today in this critical time in history.

      It takes great courage to be a Father. It means he must look beyond
      the internal conflicts which afflict his own tradition, without
      losing sight of them. He does this to ensure the prosperity and
      truthful transmission of the Holy Orthodox Faith to the WHOLE WORLD,
      which is the only way the early Church perceived catholicity. If our
      primary concerns do not first take into account this truly catholic
      perspective, then I do not see how it is possible to be truly
      Orthodox.

      Perhaps this reason for my abstaination is not acceptable to you. I
      doubt that it will be. But I do hope and pray that it will at least
      provoke my readers to take a critical examination of their own lives,
      in order to see if they are living a PERSONAL life of true Orthodoxy,
      and true catholicity!

      I am forever grateful to all of you. You who have kept the
      traditions and are now sharing them with us in the west. My prayers
      and supplications will continue to be offered for H.H. Mar Ignatius
      Zakka Iwas I, and for all those everywhere who profress Jesus as
      Lord. Please remember us also, and especially our difficulties in
      understanding our theoligcal "blind spots."

      Your unworthy friend,

      Severus Shemashen
      Los Angeles, CA
      ----------------------------------------
      From the desk of the moderator
      We welcome you in our Lord's Love. Be part of us and share your
      heavenly given spiritual experience. If any members want to contact
      him, please email to SOCM-FORUM-owner@yahoogroups.com
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