Orthodox mission, diaspora and bizarre Protestant questions
In October the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization is being held in Cape Town, and a web site has been set up to discuss the themes of the Congress beforehand, in preparation. There are some very interesting articles on a variety of topics relating to world mission and evangelization, and one of the topics was “diaspora”.
I was recently asked to write a journal article on the Orthodox diaspora in South Africa in relation to mission, and I contributed a more generalised article on the same topic to the Lausanne Conversation pages, dealing with the Orthodox diaspora and mission throughout the world, and not just in South Africa.
There is space for comments under each articles (and there are a lot of very interesting articles, and I may blog about more of them later), but the only comment on this particular article was quite weird. Here it is:
1. Do you believe Orthodox Christians are Evangelical?
2. Do you believe the “most holy traditions” of the Orthodox Church are co-equal in redemption with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?
I must say I didn’t understand either question.
Any answer to the first one would depend on what the questioner means by “evangelical”, but in the context of the article, I would expect “evangelical” to mean “interested in and concerned about evangelism” — and the answer to that was in the article itself, so the question was really redundant.
The second question, however is utterly bizarre: “Do you believe the “most holy traditions” of the Orthodox Church are co-equal in redemption with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?”
What kind of question is that?
It seems to be an almost classic example of confusing the map with the territory. But the questioner seems to think that I also suffer from his particular delusion.
Well, you come across all sorts of weirdness on the Web, and as they say, there’s nowt so queer as folks — so why blog about this particular bit of weirdness?
I suppose it’s because it’s the second example of American Protestant weirdness I’ve come across in as many days. The other one commented on the previous post in this blog. They seem to have thinking processes that are entirely different from mine. They join the dots to make a different picture. They add 2+2 and get 56. They go off at a tangent, and it is very difficult to follow what they are on about, or how they get from A to B. I really can’t see what in my article prompted those questions, and cannot see what was in the mind of the questioner. They are like those 1960s plays in the “theatre of the absurd” genre, which dealt in complete non sequiturs, with dialogues like this:
Do you believe in God?
God. Do you believe in him?
Have a biscuit.
Except that the plays at least had some artistic merit, but these bizarre discussions don’t. These examples convince me that the Internet doesn’t increase international communication. It rather reveals that the problem of our failure to communicate is far bigger than we ever imagined.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not being anti-American (though the people who as such weird questions would probably think I was). I’ve met lots of sane and sensible Americans and have had very interesting converstions with them, and most of the papers on the Lausanne Conversation site written by Americans are well-written, articulate and very interesting. But these instances of weirdness keep popping up.