"The Imperative of Mission in Orthodox Theology"

The Imperative of Mission in Orthodox Theology


James John Stamoolis


            The Orthodox Church has been a missionary church from her origin in Jerusalem.  The history of Orthodox missionary work continues without disruption to this day.[1]  The work of the Archdiocesan Missions Board carries on in the tradition of the earliest missionary expansion of the Gospel.

       While the activity of the Church in mission can be easily demonstrated, it is not enough to speak of missionary work in the past, nor to be satisfied with only a part of the Church interested and involved in mission concerns.  The current situation demands that more, and ideally all, of the Church be involved in missionary activity.  Faced with a world population of 5 billion and a total Christian population of 1.5 billion (and of these, only 1 billion are active, practicing Christians), the need for missionary work is apparent if we really believe that we have received the decisive revelation from God.

            Mission has been a concern of the Church from her founding.  The problem is that missionary work, which is a natural and logical consequence of our service to God, was not an explicit theological foundation by earlier generations.  In our day, such a foundation could strengthen missionary support by the Church as a whole.  We need to demonstrate clearly what the ancients took as axiomatic.  It is not enough to raise missionary support on the basis of emotion, though emotion has its place.  If one claims to be truly Orthodox, the necessity to be missionary-minded must be set before the entire Church.

       Therefore, while it is possible to make successful appeals for missionary funds on the basis of demonstrated needs and perhaps even personal guilt, it does not lay the foundation for correct thinking about our obligation.  This obligation laid upon us is to be synergoi, fellow-workers, with God.[2]

       The work God calls us to join him in is the proclamation of the gospel of eternal life through the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, who became man so that we might become god.[3] Why do we praise the triune God?  It is precisely the actions of the Godhead on behalf of a fallen humanity that cause us to worship and adore the Trinity.

       The Orthodox Church understands that her task is to offer orthodoxia, right praise, to the living God.  The entire Orthodox Church, bishops, clergy and laity, should also understand that her task is to work with God in extending that worship to the ends of the earth.  If we say we worship God correctly and do not seek to spread the news of God's revelation to this world, is our profession really credible?[4]

       What can the foundation be for this missionary understanding?  Where do we find the missionary imperative in Orthodox theology?  It must come from the deposit of Tradition, from what has been handed down to us.  There are three areas that I would like to explore: the Scriptures, the Fathers and the Liturgy.  For in Orthodox tradition, they are the elements of a theology of mission.  The actual missiology I have written about elsewhere.  What we will look at here are some of the aspects of tradition that compel our interest in and work for the missionary involvement of the Church.  These aspects can give us a foundation for our mission thinking and work.

The Scriptures

       We all know that the Scriptures are part of the Tradition.[5] The manuals of Orthodox dogmatic theology in my library point out the richness of the Tradition which illuminates and interprets the Scripture.  But this very interpretive function can stand in the way of our understanding of Scripture.

       We cannot be content with the answers that others give without asking any questions of the Scriptures.  Not to ask questions is to deny that the triune God still speaks in the revealed words.  This attitude makes the Scriptures an old document in which God spoke once but does not use in the same way again.  There is no interaction with the Scriptures and therefore no profit from them.  The Scriptures are words that, at best, God spoke to someone else and are interesting historically; and at worst, formulae to repeat unthinkingly.

       We need to interact with the texts as did the Fathers.  We only discover answers as we ask questions of the text.  If our questions are questions of previous generations which faced different historical situations, then we will not hear what God's revelation has to say to our historical situation.  This is not to demean the answers that our forefathers in the Faith received.  We must study to discover the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gave to them.  But we must also understand what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.

       This does not mean we are adrift in a sea of relativism, detached from Tradition, for we check our answers against the received deposit of truth.  We must look to see if there are parallels to our situation in other historical periods.  Indeed, we must identify the historical pattern which corresponds most closely to our situation.

       In the United States there are elements of a pre-Constantinian arrangement between the Church and the State.  Please note, I said "elements." One example is the illegal nature of religious expression in certain public situations, like school.  A church that has the largest part of its history rooted in an alliance between Church and State must reach back to an earlier age to ask of Tradition what are the appropriate responses to the legal restrictions of this age.  But if the Church does not ask from the Tradition, and particularly the Scriptures, questions which relate to this fact, then the answers which are obtained will not fit the real world situation.

       What is true in the secularized and increasingly pagan West is certainly true in areas of missionary work.  If we are serious about having the praise of the thrice-holy God spread throughout the earth, then we need to look more closely at the New Testament and see how modern missionary situations parallel the historical examples of the apostles.  Therefore, with a sense of being contemporary with the first Christians, let us look at the missionary imperative they faced.

       In his prayer for the disciples, our Lord acknowledges that he was sent into the world, and that he has sent the disciples in the same way.  "As thou didst send me into the world, I also have sent them into the world" (Jn 17:18). This commission he repeats in his first appearance to the Twelve after his resurrection.  "As the Father has sent me, I also send you" (Jn 20:21).[6]

       Whether the words were only directed to the Twelve or have application to all Christians is not really the question.  This is because the principle that is being stated by our Lord is what is important.  The incarnational principle, a pillar of Orthodox mission practice, is that the followers of the Lord must imitate his incarnation in the world.  If we refuse to understand that we are sent to be incarnations of God's revelation, then we have no right to claim to be heirs of the effect of the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity.  If we refuse to incarnate truth, then we should not expect to be transformed by theosis.

       But someone may ask, "What is the geographical area where we practice this incarnation?" Again we hear the words of the Lord:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20). 

       The apostles are commanded to spread the news to all the world.  The original group fulfilled its commission and handed on the authority and responsibility to its successors.  If the authority remains, does not also the responsibility for spreading the Gospel?

       Certainly some Orthodox believe the responsibility remains.  The first words of verse 19, "porefthendes," was the title of a journal and the name of a missionary study center in Athens devoted to Orthodox missionary work.[7]  The center never usurped the canonical authority of the bishops, but did serve to remind those in authority of the evangelistic responsibility that is part of the apostolic tradition.

       The connection between power and witness is made even more clear in the commissioning as recorded by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles 1:8, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

       The evidence that the power had been received by the Apostles was their successful evangelistic work in Acts.  The gospel proclamation accompanied by the power of God resulted in the conversion of 3,000 people on the day of Pentecost.  Throughout the Book of Acts we see people converted because they have come into contact with the power of God.  Saint Paul can later write that this power is the Gospel, "the power of God for salvation to every one who believes." (Rom 1:16).

       One useful outline of Acts is to see Luke picking up each geographic theme mentioned in verse 8 as a heading.  Acts is thus outlined: the witness in Jerusalem, Acts 1-7; the witness in all Judea and Samaria, Acts 8-12; the witness in the uttermost part of the earth, Acts 13-28.[8]

       We are still contemporaries of those in Acts since we have not yet reached the uttermost parts of the earth.  It is true that there were periods when men thought this commission had been fulfilled.  But God continued to push open new frontiers where the name of Jesus had not been known.  Even today there are areas where the Gospel has not penetrated.  Only by ignoring the facts can we delude ourselves into thinking that the Gospel has penetrated to the ends of the earth.

            It is a natural tendency to idolize previous ages.  We do it in our own lives when we hark back to our age of innocence and bliss as children, forgetting how difficult childhood was and is.  We do it when we look back to previous generations which experienced prosperity and peace, forgetting the pain and suffering relieved by modern medicine and technology.  We do it when we think back to the ideal experience of the early Church, forgetting the sins and problems besetting those in contact with the apostles and who may have even seen the Lord.  Consider the case of Ananias and Sapphira who withheld a portion of the selling price of some land but claimed to give all to appear to be pious before the church (Acts 5:1-11).  How modern it all sounds.  Other examples are easily given: the unbelief of those at the prayer service for Peter that he had actually been released by the power of God (Acts 12.1-17); and the problems of immorality faced by the Corinthian church.  In these days, the New Testament speaks more to our situation than we imagine.

       If we can see how relevant the ethical, spiritual, doctrinal and liturgical sections of the New Testament are, then we must also confess that the missionary imperatives have not been removed but still need to be fulfilled.

       The whole Bible is a missionary book.  The element of witness is clearly present in the Old Testament.  We think of Jonah as an example of a foreign missionary sent by God to preach to Nineveh.  But the whole history of Israel revolves around their election to be witnesses to God's revelation in the world.  Even in the call to Abraham, the promise is to bless all the families of the earth (Gen 12:3). There is no hint of God considering himself a tribal deity in the Old Testament.  It is always the nations that are in view.  We are unfortunately like the Israelites in thinking that God is our deity, reserved for people of our language and race.

       In many places the intent of God is distinctly stated.  "So the Lord said . . . 'as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.' " (Num 14:20-21). Or speaking of Israel, God says that he will set his "justice for a light of the peoples" (Isa 51:4). Speaking of the Servant to come, God calls him "a light of the nations, so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Isa 49:6). We identify this Servant with the incarnated Christ.  How then can we not be concerned about mission if the salvation brought by our God has not yet reached the ends of the earth?

       I have stressed some of the explicit missionary commands in the New Testament.  But the whole tenor of the coming in the flesh of the Second Person of the Trinity makes all the New Testament a missionary document.  God the Father sent God the Son for the salvation of the world.  God had only one Son, and he was a missionary.

The Fathers

       An area in which much research remains to be done is that of the Fathers and mission.  Mission does not seem to be a key issue with the Fathers.  But before dismissing the theme as completely irrelevant to the patristic period, one must prove that there was no thought to missionary work among the Fathers.  This cannot be done.  In 1962, Porefthendes published "Mission and Fathers: A Bibliography" in which were listed twenty-six studies on the missionary thinking of the Fathers.[9]

       One of the reasons that mission is not given the prominence in the patristic age is that much of the then-known world had some form of Christian witness.  But perhaps research will demonstrate that the Christological controversies which took so much energy and time both detracted from the formulation of missionary theology and at the same time provided what would be the strongest basis for missionary theology.

       The missiological thought of one of the Fathers would be an interesting subject for a thesis or dissertation.  It would not be easy, but the results for the Church would be of great value.  One of the reasons it would not be easy is that the categories and questions used by the Fathers are different from those used to discuss mission theology today.  Therefore, the researcher must be skilled in both understanding the patristic age and understanding the basics of missiology.  May God grant that some in this audience be given this vision and task.

            I am not an expert on patristics.  But believing that the Fathers had an understanding of the nature of God's plan for the salvation of the world, I looked at a few of the patristic writings.  In the search for a missionary imperative in Orthodox theology, we can examine some quotations from the patristic period.

            Let us commence with Saint Athanasios.  In The Incarnation of the Word of God we read,

Did anyone ever fight against the whole system of idol worship and the whole host of demons and all magic and all the wisdom of the Greeks, at a time when all of these were strong and flourishing and taking everybody in, as did our Lord, the very Word of God?  Yet he is even now invisibly exposing every man's error, and single-handed is carrying off all men from them all . . .[10]

 Here is mission, attributed to the work of the Lord, even in Saint Athanasios' own time.  What are the idols that are worshipped today?  Are they not advertised in the media as the things that will bring happiness, peace and contentment?  What is the wisdom that decries the revelation of God and sweeps all before it in our public educational institutions?  Is not this age as superstitious as any other and more so than many past generations?  Is not our situation more like that described by Athanasios than we care to admit?  What is the antidote for this?

But since the Word of God has been manifested in a body, and has made known to us his own Father, the fraud of demons is stopped and made to disappear; and men, turning their eyes to the true God, Word of the Father, forsake the idols and come to know this true God.[11]

These are such positive words.  If we did not know better, we would think that they had been written in a time of great missionary advance.  But we do know better.  Athanasios against the world is his epitaph.  Popularity was not his goal.  His goal was to be faithful to the revelation of God.  He stood for the truth because only in the truth of God was salvation found.  This is the basis for mission.  This is why we undertake missionary work.  Because God became man that mankind might have the truth of God.

            A modern writer, C. S. Lewis, makes this comment on Athanasios:

He stood for the trinitarian doctrine, "whole and undefiled," when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arios into one of those "sensible" synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and, which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen.[12]

The same temptation is ours today.  We are besieged on all sides to be reasonable, to be modern, to be accepting, and above all, to be sensible.  Without the gift of God in giving the Church an Athanasios, we would be overwhelmed today.  But in looking for direction and a missionary voice, we can turn to his writings and believe the same Lord who banished the fraud of demons in Athanasios' day will perform the same task in our day.

            Turning to Gregory of Nyssa, we find in The Great Catechism a proof of the Incarnation in the universal appearance of Christian places of worship.

For those who are not so vehemently antagonistic to the truth there exists no slight proof of the Deity having sojourned here ... throughout the whole world there have arisen in the name of Jesus temples and altars and a holy and unbloody priesthood and a sublime philosophy, which teaches, by deed and example more than by word, a disregard of this bodily life and a contempt of death ...[13]

Here we have a clue as to why what we would call mission is not more prominently displayed in the Fathers.  Gregory of Nyssa can speak of a worldwide dispersion of the Gospel.  Can we?  If a proof of the divine sojourn is to be found in the worldwide praise for Jesus, then are we not remiss for not doing more to provide the material evidence for that proof. Is not the lack of worldwide praise in the name of Jesus a condemnation to those who claim to hold the correct understanding of that praise?

       Do we confess one thing with our lips yet fail to live in accordance with our creed?  One evidence is the spread of the Faith in every place.  Another evidence was the lifestyle of the Christians.  If the evidence of the Incarnation was the disregard of bodily life and a contempt of death, what do our actions give evidence of?

       I mentioned above the clue to the lack of prominence of mission in the Fathers being the then worldwide dispersion of the Gospel.  But notice at what cost it was dispersed.  Again we find the imperative for which we seek, that of making known the Gospel of the Incarnation at all cost, even of life itself.  Is this our attitude today?  If it is not, can we call ourselves keepers of the Tradition as found in the Fathers?

       We must not easily dismiss the need for the whole world to know the name of Jesus and to confess him as their God.  For Saint Cyril of Jerusalem can say:

This name caught the world in its grasp: for Jews are only in a certain region of the world, but Christians reach to the ends of the world; for it is the name of the only-begotten Son of God that is proclaimed.[14]

As the borders of the known world increase, so does the need to have the name proclaimed to new areas.  For if we do not proclaim the name, we stand under condemnation for restricting the name of the only-begotten Son of God to a certain region of the world.  That means that we either do not think that our Savior is the Savior of the world or we are content to have a regionalized religion claiming certain lands (or parts of lands) as ours and ignoring the rest.

       If we believe that Jesus Christ is the only Savior and is truly God, then there is an imperative upon us to spread this name to all the world.  There is no excuse for lack of means.  In many periods of church history, gospel advances were made with less resources than we have available today.  "This name caught the world in its grasp." Can we say this of our day?  I think not.  What plans are we forming before God to make this a reality?

       Where will the resources come from?  That is unfortunately the first question many will ask.  That question, too, can be answered from the writings of the Fathers.  In his eighteenth homily on the Acts of the Apostles, Saint John Chrysostom pleads for those with estates and villages in their possession to construct churches on their lands.  He tells them they are anxious to construct baths and markets, and other buildings for profit, but care not for the profit of the workers' souls.

When you see thorns ... you cut them up, you burn, you utterly destroy them, to rid your land of the hurt thence arising.  And seest thou the laborers themselves overrun with thorns, and dost not cut them up, and art thou not afraid of the Owner who shall call thee to account?[15]

       We take pains to care for our own property and perchance even for the property of the Church.  But what of God's property?  Do we not regard our obligation to care for the world that he created and desire to come to salvation?  For Chrysostom's hearers, the excuse of insufficient means was not accepted.

Make for a beginning a small house to serve as a temple.  Thy successor will build a porch, his successor will make other additions, and the whole shall be put to thy account.  Thou givest little, and receivest the reward for the whole.  At any rate, make a beginning: lay a foundation.[16] 

Some have laid a foundation in the matter of Orthodox mission involvement; some have even built small houses.  More need to be challenged by these words of Chrysostom to make a beginning.  And for the beginning already made, more must join in the work.

       We have means, we have funds, we have time, but we choose to spend it on other things and in other pursuits.  In this we show our lack of appreciation for God and his goodness.  Chrysostom has an antidote for this in another of his homilies:

After acknowledging to him our general obligations... let each one of us reckon ... the benefits of God... if we call to mind, and make diligent enquiry of these two points, what sins we have committed against God, and what good he has done to us, shall thus be both thankful, and give him freely all that is ours.[17] 

Is it possible to draw the corollary that if we are not thankful and do not freely give, then we have not tasted the goodness of God?

            For one who has tasted the goodness of God and received benefits from his hand, no sacrifice is too great to demonstrate that love.  As Chrysostom said to his congregation in Constantinople:

There is nothing I love more than you, no, not even light itself I would gladly have my eyes put out ten thousand times over, if it were possible by this means to convert your souls; so much is your salvation dearer to me than light itself.[18]

Marvel not then that the speaker of these words is considered a doctor of the Church.  Who would not be attended by such a physician?  Here is found an imperative for mission work, the love of others that compels the missionary to seek the salvation of their souls.  And such love is understood and by God's grace bears fruit in mission work and congregational work as well.  For we all know that it is possible to go through the correct motions, but not have our hearers' salvation at heart.  If we would be heirs of the Fathers, then we must ask God for the love for those outside the faith that they had.

            Listen again to Chrysostom:

Nothing is more frigid than a Christian who cares not for the salvation of others.  Thou canst not plead poverty: for she that cast down the two mites shall be thine accuser     (Lk 21:1). And Peter said, "Silver and gold I have none" (Acts 3:6).... Thou canst not plead lowness of birth: for they too were ignoble men, and of ignoble parents.  Thou canst not allege want of education: for they too were "unlearned men" (Acts 4:13). Even if thou be a slave therefore and a runaway slave, thou canst perform thy part: for such was Onesimos . . . Thou canst not plead infirmity: for such was Timothy . . . [19]

            For Chrysostom, everyone had a part to play.  Commenting on the descent of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire, he writes: "Was it upon the twelve that it came?  Not so; but upon the hundred and twenty."[20] They were all filled so that they could share the news of salvation.  If we have received the same Holy Spirit, is our obligation any less to proclaim the words of God and to use our means to enable others to proclaim those works in distant situations?

            One final word from the past.  Is it only in proclamation that Chrysostom places his emphasis?  By no means.

Let us win them, therefore, by our life.  Many, even among the untaught, have in that way astounded the minds of philosophers, as having exhibited in themselves also that philosophy which lies in deeds, and uttered a voice clearer than a trumpet by their mode of life and self-denial.[21]

            With regard to missionary method, for those who would bemoan the loss of miracles which accompanied the early expansion in the Acts of the Apostles, Chrysostom has a rebuke:

For even if miracles were wrought now, who would be persuaded? ... For so it is, that our upright living seems unto the many the more trustworthy argument of the two: miracles admitting of a bad construction on the party of obstinate men: whereas a pure life will have abundant power to stop the mouth of the devil himself.[22]

            Here is our mission imperative: we must seek the salvation of others.  We need not miracles, but pure lives.  We need not extraordinary incomes, but the widow's mite in that the resources given to God accomplish his purpose.  But we hide not behind the mite, when it is in our power to give more.  "Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also" (Lk 12:34). Our hearts and our actions condemn us and tell us clearly what our concerns are.

       The Fathers speak of mission in terms of the worldwide dispersion of the Gospel and of the concern for the news of salvation being spread to everyone.  This imperative does not die with the end of the patristic age.  If we are the heirs of the Fathers, then their concerns for the worldwide establishment of the Church must be ours. 

The Liturgy

       It is not necessary to demonstrate here the connection between mission and the Liturgy.  That has been done elsewhere.[23]  Rather, what I would like to do is to discuss how the Liturgy, and in particular the Eucharist, reveal the mission imperative.

       It may seem strange that the gathering of the Church in worship is an occasion for missionary emphasis.  But if these are our thoughts, then it is indicative of how we are prevented by familiarity from seeing the eucharistic act as a proclamation event.  This is what Saint Paul called it in 1 Corinthians 11:26, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." I am not suggesting that we are not proclaiming the Lord's death; that is very clear in the Liturgy.  Equally clear is the proclamation of the salvation that the death of Christ brought.

       But for the purpose of missionary imperative, we need to note that Saint Paul reminds us that the Eucharist is for us until he comes again.  What will he do when he comes?  Judge the world on the basis of the nations' and individuals' belief in the Son of God.  Therefore, the service of thanksgiving, the Eucharist, should also be a reminder that one day an opportunity for thanksgiving will be over, and the judgment throne will appear.  What greater imperative for mission is there than to celebrate the mystery of God Incarnate offering himself for our salvation and know that the time of opportunity is passing.  "Behold, now is 'the acceptable time,' behold now is 'the day of salvation' " (2 Cor 6:2). As Saint Paul wrote to the Romans, "And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed" (Rom 13:11).

       There is another aspect to the missionary imperative as found in the Liturgy.  When we look at the prayers, we see that the scope of the work of Christ, and consequently our commemoration of it, is not limited to our congregation.

       Consider two phrases found in the Anaphora and the Epiklesis.  In the Anaphora, the priest says that our Lord "surrendered himself for the life of the world (cosmos)." Here, in a few short words, we have the purpose of God explained.  The Second Person of the Trinity surrendered his life for the life of the world.  The universal mission of salvation is also found in the Epiklesis when the priest prays: "We also offer this spiritual sacrifice for the whole world (oikoumenes)."[24]

       I will not enter into the discussion as to whether all or most of the inaudible prayers should be said aloud for the benefit of the congregation.[25] But it is indeed problematic that these parts are not said audibly.  For what would better express the missionary concern of the Liturgy than for the congregation to understand that the spiritual drama taking place is not only for them, but for the whole world?

            It is too easy for any congregation to think that the benefits of the Eucharist are reserved for it alone.  And why would they not think this way?  It is performed before them, for them to partake of (though, for the most part, infrequently) and not for outsiders.  Actually, as those who press for liturgical renewal would maintain, it does not even seem to be performed for laity, or at least not for their instruction.

       In the search for an imperative of mission, we must not ignore the purpose of the Eucharist.  The priest confesses in his prayers that the Lord offered himself for the whole world and the sacrifice the priest is offering is also for the whole world.  Therefore, the extent of the mission of the Church is confessed at every eucharistic service.

       Are we dulled by the familiar?  Do we need to look again at the very confession we make and the prayers we say, and then ask humbly for God's forgiveness?  The imperative for mission is preserved in the liturgical formulae.  May this imperative burn within us every time we offer these prayers in worship.


       It is interesting to see that when we do not plan for mission, the triune God moves his Church out.  Is it an accident of history that Orthodoxy exists on six continents?  I think not.  The sovereign God moved his Church out and into position.  The question is, what advantage will the Church make of the places where God has established it?  "Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name" (Rev. 3.8).

       The doors are open; opened by God himself.  Will we use the opportunity to go through them for the sake of the Lord Jesus?  If we do, only then can it be said of us that we kept his word and did not deny his name.



[1] While this may seem too bold a statement, if one considers the expansion of the Church in the early centuries, the work of the Byzantine Church, the Russian missionary expansion which carried on during the Turkish oppression of the Greek Church, and the Orthodox diaspora in the twentieth century, then the dispersion of the Gospel has continued unabated even if some of the expansion (in particular, the diaspora) was not consciously planned as missionary expansion.


[2] 1 Cor 3:9; cf. 2 Cor 6:1.


[3] For references to this patristic phrase, see Vladimir Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God (Crestwood, NY., 1974), p. 97.


[4] Anastasios Yannoulatos asked, "Can a church that, for centuries now, has had no catechumens but jealously guards the treasure of faith for itself, totally indifferent to whether other people are being born, breathe, live and die, within the Lie - which therefore is alien to the feelings of world love and justice - be really "Orthodox?" This quotation first appeared in "Orthodox Spirituality and External Mission," Porefthendes 4 (1962) 4. The article was reprinted under the same title in the International Review of Mission 52 (1963) 300-02.


[5] I know that some Orthodox scholars write about the two sources of theology, Scripture and Tradition.  I myself have written on the subject in this way. ("Scripture and Tradition as Sources of Authority in the Eastern Orthodox Church," Th.M thesis, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1971.) However, for the purpose of this discussion, it makes no difference whether we see Scripture as a part of Tradition or as a complementary source.


[6] There are many references to the Second Person of the Trinity being sent by the First Person.  See John 3:17, 34; 5:36, 38; 6:29, 38, 57; 7:29; 8:42; 10:36; 17:3; 8, 21, 23, 25.


[7] It is inconceivable that anyone interested in Orthodox missionary work would not know of the Inter-Orthodox Missionary Centre, Porefthendes, and the journal they published from 1959 to 1969.  For more information, see James J. Stamoolis, Eastern Orthodox Mission Theology Today (Maryknoll, 1986), pp. 82f, 120L


[8]Cf.  T. Walker, Missionary Ideals (London, 1969) for an expanded version of this outline.


[9] EIias Voulgarakis, "Mission and Fathers: A Bibliography," Porefthendes 4 (1962) 31.


[10] St. Athanasius on the Incarnation, trans. by a religious of C.S.M.V. (Crestwood, NY., 1953), pp. 91-92.


[11] Ibid. pp. 94-95.


[12] Ibid. p. 9.


[13]Gregory of Nyssa, vol 5, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, ed. William Moore and Henry Austin Wilson (Grand Rapids, 1972), p. 490.


[14] St.  Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory of Nazianzen, vol 7, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, trans.  Edwin Hamilton Gifford (Grand Rapids, 1974), p. 62.


[15] St. John Chrysostom, vol 6, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1st series, trans.  J. Walker, J. Sheppard and H. Browne (Grand Rapids, 1975), pp. 117f.


[16] Ibid. p. 119. 


[17] Ibid. pp. 237-38.




[19] Ibid. p. 133.


[20] Ibid. p. 25


[21]St. John Chrysostom, vol 7, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1st series, trans.  Talbot W. Chambers (Grand Rapids, 1969), p. 15.


[22] Ibid. p. 33.


[23] In particular, one can consult Ion Bria, ed. Go Forth in Peace: Orthodox Perspectives on Mission (Geneva, 1986), Alexander Schmemann, Church, World, Mission (Crestwood, NY., 1979); Idem, For the Life of the World (Crestwood, NY., 1977); and James Stamoolis, Eastern Orthodox Mission Theology Today, especially pp. 86-102.


[24] I am using as my source the older text of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese as found in The Orthodox Liturgy (Garwood, NJ, 1976).  It is interesting to note that two words are used for world in the Greek.  The first, the biblical term, cosmos, can carry some element of ambiguity in the Bible since the cosmos can mean the world system to be opposed by God's people.  But the meaning is clear.  Christ died for the cosmos, even the cosmos that hated him.  The Byzantine word, oikoumenes, more clearly relates to the inhabited world.  Both clearly testify to the extent of the mission imperative.


[25] Some of this discussion can be found in the section by Nicon D. Patrinacos in The Orthodox Liturgy.  See also Stanley S. Harakas, Living the Liturgy (Minneapolis, 1974).