Orthodox mission: evangelism without proselytism
One of the spin-offs of the recent interfaith synchroblog on interreligious dialogue was the difference between evangelism and proselytism.
Perhaps some Orthodox bishops were eavesdropping on the conversation, for the Primates of the Orthodox Churches have just said:
Inspired by the teaching and the work of the Apostle Paul, we underscore first and foremost, the importance of the duty of Mission for the life of the Church, and in particular for the ministry of us all, in accordance with the final commandment of the Lord: “you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The evangelization of God’s people, but also of those who do not believe in Christ, constitutes the supreme duty of the Church. This duty must not be fulfilled in an aggressive manner, or by various forms of proselytism, but with love, humility and respect for the identity of each individual and the cultural particularity of each people. All Orthodox Churches must contribute to this missionary effort, respecting the canonical order. (Hat-tip to Eastern Orthodox Librarian)
And of course the problem with proselytism is that it lacks “love, humility and respect for each individual and the cultural particularity of each people”.