Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

evangelism

4 Entries

For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force ... It is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have authority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice. St. John Chrysostom



Let us also imitate Him, and despair of no one. For the fishermen, too, when they have cast many times have not succeeded; but afterwards having cast again, have gained all. So we also expect that ye will all at one show to us ripe fruit. For the husbandman, too, after he has sown, waits one day or two days, and is a long while in expectation; and all at once he sees the fruits springing up on every side. St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. Matthew

When the zeal of the religious emperor (Constantine I) had brought together priests of God from all over the earth (to the council of Nicaea in 325), rumor of the event gathered as well philosophers and dialecticians of great renown and fame.

One of them who was celebrated for his ability in dialectic used to hold ardent debates each day with our bishops, men likewise by no means unskilled in the art of disputation, and there resulted a magnificent display for the learned and educated men who gathered to listen. Nor could the philosopher be cornered or trapped in any way by anyone, for he met the questions proposed with such rhetorical skill that whenever he seemed most firmly trapped, he escaped like a slippery snake.

But that God might show that the kingdom of God is based upon power rather than speech, one of the confessors (who had suffered tortures during the persecutions), a man of simplest character who knew only Christ Jesus and him crucified, was present with the other bishops in attendance.

When he saw the philosopher insulting our people and proudly displaying his skills in dialectic, he asked everyone for a chance to exchange a few words with the philosopher. But our people, who knew only the man's simplicity and lack of skill in speech, feared that they might be put to shame in case his holy simplicity became a source of laughter to the clever.

But the elder insisted, and he began his discourse in this way: "In the name of Jesus Christ, O philosopher," he said, "listen to the truth! There is one God who made heaven and earth, who gave breath to man whom he had formed from the mud of the earth, and who created everything, what is seen and what is not seen, with the power of his word and established it with the sanctification of his Spirit. The word and wisdom, whom we call "Son," took pity on the errors of humankind, was born of a Virgin, by suffering death freed us from everlasting death, and by his resurrection conferred on us eternal life. Him we await as the judge to come of all that we do. Do you believe this is so, O philosopher?"

The philosopher, as though he had nothing whatever that he could say in opposition to this, so astonished was he at the power of what had been said, could only reply that he thought that it was so, and that what had been said was the only truth. Then the elder said, "If you believe that this is so, arise, follow me to the church, and receive the seal of this faith."

The philosopher, turning to his disciples and to those who had gathered to listen, said, "Listen, O learned men: so long as it was words with which I had to deal, I set words against words and what was said I refuted with my rhetoric. But when power rather than words came out of the mouth of the speaker, words could not withstand power, nor could man oppose God. And therefore, if any one of you was able to feel in what was said what I feel, let him believe Christ and follow this old man in whom God has spoken." And thus the philosopher became a Christian and rejoiced at last to have been vanquished. Rufinus, Church History 10.3



You were not worthy of having what you possess and what you keep Through the grace of the giver. Do not hesitate, then, to distribute To those who ask, just as the woman of Samaria once shared. For having drawn from the well by herself, she shared with others what she received. No one asked her, and yet she gave to all ungrudgingly of her free gift. She thirsts, yet gives lavishly, not drinking, she gives to drink. When she has not yet tasted, still as one who is drunk, she cries out to those of her race: "Come, I have found a spring; is not this the One who furnishes Exceeding great joy and redemption? St Romanos the Melodist - Vol. 1, On the Woman of Samaria





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