Mastodon CounterSocial September 2006 - Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Articles from September 2006

Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge

Should Christians join the Freemasons?  The trouble with a secretive society is that it’s hard to make definite judgments about what it does or teaches.  The Wikipedia article is here.  Still, from what I’ve researched, the charges against the Freemasons are highly exaggerated.

However, various Christian denominations forbid membership in the Freemasons.

What about fraternities and sororities?  Do they come under the common ban on secretive societies?  Should they?

It can be argued that hazing and excessive (often underage) drinking are unChristian, best left alone by the Christian college student.

During my short-lived time pledging a sorority, I was hazed in occasionally humiliating ways, all in the name of “unity.”  (This in a Christian college which forbade hazing.)

How is it unifying for one sister to haze another?  It unified us pledges, but against the actives.

Once, while visiting friends in a sorority living suite, I overheard Sigma frat pledges getting paddled in the Sigma meeting room up above.

And pledges in many such organizations are forced to drink far too much in far too short a time, sometimes resulting in death from alcohol poisoning.

I recommend that Christian students avoid fraternities and sororities which use hazing of any kind, discriminate against non-members, and/or give alcohol to minors.

Here’s one take on the issue from a nondenominational site.

The view of WELS, a very conservative branch of Lutheranism: Membership in Sororities/Fraternities, Organizations: Sororities, Other Lodges

The view of LCMS, which is conservative but less so than WELS: Lodges, Fraternal Organizations and Fraternities, Campus Crusade for Christ, Boy Scouts, Masons

The Orthodox view, which is against Freemasonry but apparently not fraternities/sororities: Masonic Fraternity

The Nazarene view:

We hold specifically that the following practices should be avoided…Membership in oath-bound secret orders or societies.  The quasi-religious nature of such organizations dilutes the Christian’s commitment, and their secrecy contravenes the Christian’s open witness. –p. 46, Manual/1997-2001

 

Written probably in 2006/2007

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing
End Times and Christian Zionism
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine
Cat and Dog Theology
Raising One’s Hands in Worship
Christian Music
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings
The Message Bible
The Purpose-Driven Life
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers
Republican Party
Abortion Protests
Creation
The idea that God has someone in mind for you
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse
Other Resources

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday?
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go?
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated)
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship?
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries

There is nothing wrong with sending off missionaries to evangelize non-Christian countries or to evangelize non-Christians in Christian countries.

But there is a common practice of some Protestants sending missionaries to countries which are predominantly Catholic or Orthodox, and actively trying to convert people who are already Christians (Catholic or Orthodox).

For example, in January 2009, I found this on a Protestant website (connected with e3 ministries):

Just imagine…true Christianity has only existed in the nation of Ecuador for just over 100 years; and less than 1% of those who live in this South American Country know Jesus Christ personally.

The need is for new, disciple-making churches! There are communities averaging 3000 residents in the Manabi Province, that currently have no church whatsover. Please come with us to share the Gospel, and behold the wonder of the birth of these new faith communities!

I did a little Web surfing; apparently, Ecuador has been a Roman Catholic country since the days the Spaniards first arrived.  I found this:

The Roman Catholic Church in Ecuador is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome.

It is one of the most Catholic countries in the world – around 12 million out of a total population of 13 million profess the Catholic faith.  Catholicism was introduced in the 1530s and the first diocese was erected in 1545.

Highly influential during colonial period, the Church was practically enslaved by constitution enacted (1824) after independence from Spain. –From http://www.mundoandino.com/Ecuador/Roman-Catholicism-in-Ecuador, site no longer extant

These particular Protestant groups don’t consider the Catholic and Orthodox to be truly Christian.  No, I am NOT attacking a straw man: I was Protestant for more than 30 years.  In my own childhood denomination, I was taught this.  I heard the same thing in an Evangelical church which I attended in the early 2000s.  You can also find it prevalent in the Left Behind novels.

The problem is, I’m now hearing from Catholic or Orthodox people who live in those countries, and they’re not happy.  Established churches consider it to be “invading their turf” or “stepping on their toes.”

Russia was Christianized 1000 years ago; the Orthodox Church is still there, still predominant among Christian groups, and still considers itself part of Russian ethnic identity (p. 15, Presbyterians Today, April 2006).

In fact,

70% of Russians identify themselves as Orthodox, though church authorities estimate that only 3-4 % participate actively in church life.  Baptists and Pentecostals are the largest Protestant churches in Russia and have been growing. (ibid)

I don’t know if the practice of individual churches follows this, but the PCUSA as a whole does its mission work with established churches in Russia: Orthodox, Lutheran and Baptist (ibid).

I’m told, through Internet forums, that there are people in the former Soviet Union who will “convert” weekly to please whatever Protestant missionaries are there that week, because they get “free stuff,” such as free lunches or T-shirts.  The missionaries don’t follow up or, in most cases, even know Russian, so they think they’ve made real converts.

For thorough and enlightening critiques, see The Battle for Russia’s Souls and Mission in Post-Perestroika Russia.

I have heard charges that the Orthodox church is pagan, that the Catholic church is not really Christian.  Yet these churches sometimes charge Protestant churches with the same thing.

Believers in predominantly Catholic countries, such as in Latin America, have problems with Protestant missionaries as well.  One Orthodox convert reports that she once went on a mission trip to Mexico, thinking they’d be helping the poor; instead, she felt “frustrated, disgusted and used” because the trip ended up being about converting Catholic children to Protestantism.

A young Brazilian woman told me that churches in Brazil have begun turning out American and even European missionaries, claiming that the American church is destroyed and Americans ruin churches.  Brazilian churches started by American churches have been left on their own when their “mother” church failed.

A woman in my church who has done mission work says that she’s seen people try to evangelize Muslims on their holy days, such as during Ramadan!  This is disrespectful, to say the least, and does not make Christians/Christianity attractive to Muslims!  [Note 5/24/15: I don’t recall if this woman was in the PCUSA or Orthodox church.]

I’ve also heard from an Orthodox friend that the Russian Church is proclaiming missionaries–the ones who proclaim the Rapture of the Church is coming–to be apostates, preaching a different Christ than the Orthodox preach, because Christ would not steal people away from his people.  This different Christ is seen as “buddy Christ.”  (One such critique of evangelicalism is here, “The Right Answer.”)

From The Greek Orthodox Church/Faith, History, and Practice by Demetrios J. Constantelos, published by The Seabury Press, page 69-70:

While the [Orthodox] Church does not preach the gospel among people where Christ is accepted, there are every year numerous converts from various Christian bodies in such countries as Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States of America.  These converts choose the Orthodox faith freely and willingly….

Today there is an ever increasing zeal for missionary activity in non-Christian territories.

Unlike some denominations that make every effort to convert other Christians to their creeds, the Greek Church follows St. Paul, who said:

‘I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: but as it is written, to whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand’ (Rom. 15:20-21).

It is indeed unfortunate that there are Christian groups which send missionaries to such Christian countries as Greece.

Professor Edward Jurji, of Princeton Theological Seminary, speaking of some missions in the Middle East, admitted that they are successful in converting only a few Christians to their denominations while they fail to convert non-Christians.

Our friends of such misinformed groups must take heed lest the words of Christ apply to them: ‘Woe unto you…for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves’ (Matt. 23:15).

Now this is not to say that the Orthodox consider other denominations to be of Satan.  Rather, this demonstrates how Protestant proselytizing upsets the Orthodox in countries which are predominantly Orthodox.

Catholic proselytizing has also been done in Orthodox countries in the past.  And I’d expect that Catholics feel the same about Protestant proselytizing in Latin America.

What should we take away from this?  I think we should follow the PCUSA practice of working with local churches when doing mission or evangelization trips, rather than trying to set up new churches or make converts from already Christian groups.  Local holy days should be respected, whether they’re Orthodox, Catholic or Muslim holy days.

And, if it’s an evangelization trip and not just a trip to help build houses or hand out food, the missionaries should know the language and follow up with the converts later.

You’ll note that in the Early Church, the apostles established churches, put someone in charge who knew the doctrine, and regularly visited or had someone visit the churches.  The new churches weren’t allowed to just die.

Priest Stephen Freeman, “Mission and Evangelism from the Fathers to the Present”

Written probably in 2006/2007

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

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