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A Letter to Frank Schaeffer from one of our EOC Priests

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by Dorothea, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    I was reading an article in my google alerts - Orthodox Christian news, and found this comment at the bottom with regards to what's been happening with Frank Schaeffer. I decided to post the letter from Fr. Mark to Frank here because I found it good for those who may not understand where the EOC stand on such moral and contemporary moral issues:

    A couple of years ago, I wrote a letter to Franky, with the help of several friends, seeking to reason with him and bring him back to Orthodoxy, in the spirit of correcting an erring brother (James 5:20). Our intent was also to help the weak, especially Orthodox who may be persuaded by Franky’s anti-Christian rhetoric, or non-Orthodox Christians who may think Franky’s fanatically liberal articles represent the Church. We were going to make the letter an open one, with multiple signatories, but ultimately gave up on the idea (I wish we hadn’t). In any case, I sent my letter to him from myself alone. I have not heard back from him. This is what I/we wrote:

    Dear Brother Frank,

    Glory to Jesus Christ!

    First of all, let us say we have been very glad to have you as our brother in communion. Your journey to the Orthodox Church has inspired many, and opened doors for those interested in the Faith. Your publishing company has introduced historic Christianity to those who otherwise would have no exposure to it. Your abilities as a writer and public speaker are wonderful gift to the Church. You have helped bring public awareness to the “best kept secret in America,” and for this we thank you, and we appreciate your work, and we embrace you as our brother in Christ.

    In recent years, however, we have noted with fraternal concern changes in your public comments and in your writing toward traditional Christian teachings. We are concerned because what you say and write represents holy Orthodoxy to many who read your words. It is to your recent writings and public comments that we feel compelled to address you, in brotherly love.

    We believe that while it is natural and to some degree a necessity for converts to make a break from their past, those from backgrounds which hold consistencies with our Holy Tradition are not required to reject everything they were raised to believe, particularly Christian teachings of a moral character.

    Specifically, you have made comments repudiating your father’s seminal works, “What Ever Happened To The Human Race?,” “A Christian Manifesto,” “How Shall We Then Live?,” and your own writings against abortion and supporting societal morality, including “A Time For Anger: The Myth of Neutrality.” This concerns us because the holy Orthodox Faith teaches us to uphold the Sanctity of Life and to be moral “light” and “salt” in our society. We believe it is a time for moral outrage when millions of innocent persons made in God’s image are slaughtered to the modern Moloch. Orthodox theologian Dr Stanley Harakas explains the Church’s historic position:

    “The Church from the very beginning of existence has sought to protect “the life in the womb” and has considered abortion as a form of murder in its theology and canons. Orthodox Christians are admonished not to encourage women to have abortions, nor to assist in the committing of abortion. Those who perform abortions and those who have sought it are doing an immoral deed, and are called to repentance.”

    Your comments during the last Presidential election cycle, ridiculing Christians including Orthodox faithful who by conscience refused to vote for a “pro choice” president were, we feel, unbecoming of a Christian. We believe your public position led many to confusion, and in some cases supported the weak in opposing the Church’s clear teaching on abortion.

    Relatedly, we note your misguided support for destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation. You oppose what you call “the Catholic/Evangelical conspiracy to derail stem cell research.” In fact, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America has clearly stated the Church’s position, that Orthodox Christians “cannot condone the manipulation of embryonic cells in any form for research purposes, including lives developed from destroyed embryos.” The Orthodox bishops call upon the president and congress “to restore and maintain a total ban” on embryonic stem cell experimentation as “inherently immoral and a fundamental violation of human life… Embryonic stem cell research results in unmitigated harm. It should be unequivocally rejected in the interests of preserving both the sacredness and the dignity of the human person.”

    We take issue with your soteriology, proclaiming “atheists or Muslims or gay men and women” do God’s will like the Good Samaritan. Your intent seems to be to admonish Christians toward compassion, but your conclusion that homosexuals will “inherit the earth,” and, “the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to…gay couples who are being denied their civil rights” misleads your readers into thinking homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, even a virtuous one, and more virtuous than the faith of “American Christians.” Elsewhere, you state, “Gay marriage and gay parents aren’t a threat to children,” a statement which flies in the face of basic psychology, as well as Orthodox Christian common sense.

    We are concerned about your public stereotyping of Christians, especially those who collectively seek to influence our nation toward moral sanity. You not only judge the hearts of evangelical leaders by name, but you publicly proclaim them “haters,” “fools” and “liars,” full of “hysteria” and “anti abortion absolutism.” You judge them –by name– as “hate-filled,” “notorious gay bashers,” and analogize the National Prayer Breakfast to a Ku Klux Klan meeting. This is slander. We fear that while you vehemently decry evangelicals, it is your angry rhetoric which is giving Orthodox Christianity a bad name. You certainly may hold opinions for or against political positions, but to condemn an entire party as a “lynch mob” is both untrue and unchristian.

    But your condemnation is not reserved for evangelicals alone. You state definitively that “If it was up to the American Roman Catholic bishops there would be no health care reform,” which is a misrepresentation of the bishops’ call to take abortion out of healthcare, and is patently false. (Those very bishops were among the strongest advocates of healthcare reform; they simply wanted the killing of children out of it.) It seems anyone who disagrees with President Obama you label, “evil,” and desiring murder and violence. You even accuse those who oppose various Obama policies as racially motivated!

    Your exegesis misrepresents the Orthodox Church’s teaching, and even Her respect for the integrity and truthfulness of holy Scripture itself. You misquote Jesus, writing in His voice, “If gay men and women are asking to be allowed to marry, I commanded you to give to him who asks of you.” With this sentence you disregard the Church’s teaching and pervert Jesus’ message at the same time. You present the Lord as saying, “Ignore the dumb harsh parts of the Bible. That is my message: pick the good, leave out the bad. The Bible is just a book.” You teach, “There is no Heaven or Hell,” without the necessary explanation for your readers to understand that in the age to come there is either eternal torment or the joy of Christ’s Kingdom. You falsely state that the Bible “doesn’t match reality,” and advise people to “reject the parts of one’s scriptures outright that fly in the face of fact, compassion and decency” (as understood by the fallen individual). You speak of the theory of evolution as “proven Darwinian biological evolutionary science,” and juxtapose it against a caricature of the biblical account of creation. You recently wrote, “…the best thing a believer in any actual God can do is to admit that a lot of the Bible is hate filled blasphemy.” These statements are against our Holy Tradition.

    We read with concern your tendency to lump all religions into one, relatively equal faith system. You defend the “truth” that “we can’t know anything conclusively because we are evolving and not “there” yet (wherever there is!).” You write, “The next great task for the human race is to wean ourselves off literal interpretations of religion. We need to eradicate fundamentalism in all its forms.” This is contrary to all the Fathers and Mothers and Monks and Nuns and Hierarchs and Faithful of the Orthodox Church stood for, and all the Martyrs died for. “God has revealed Himself to us!,” we proclaim with joy in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

    We are concerned about your misrepresentation of apophatic theology, which can easily lead others away from the true God. It seems to us that you misunderstand the quotes you cite (“Do not define the Deity”), doing precisely what you accuse evangelicals of by taking them out of context and overly literally. Apophatic theology is not “anti-theology,” as you teach; and though, as you point out, “this way of perceiving God is found not just in Christianity but in other religions too,” our Tradition is quite specifically Christian, and we claim that Christ is The Truth for all. Apophatic theology does not endorse the subjectivity you imply, or that truth is relative to individual experience. You misunderstand the patristic use of the concept of “being” (and “wise” and “good”) when you write that God neither exists nor doesn’t exist. Likewise when you teach that “one should never claim God is ‘one’ or ‘three.’” This kind of teaching confuses and misleads many. The whole point is that God is above us, beyond our finite categories of understanding. But our Gospel message itself is about a particular God, Who is the one, true God, and Who is knowable Personally, through His only Son, Jesus Christ. Orthodox apophatic theology absolutely affirms that God is Three Persons with One Nature.

    And now, again in The Huffington Post, you recently use inflammatory rhetoric against Orthodox and other Christians who oppose the building of a mosque near Ground Zero, calling them “racists.” How can you judge others’ hearts as “racists”?

    We ask you to reconsider your public comments. We urge you to take public stands consistent with The Orthodox Church that teach abortion is murder and is never a “choice.” Evangelical Christians should not to be vilified or ridiculed for positions which are consistent with Orthodox moral tradition. Destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation kills a human being. Homosexual behavior is not healthy, not for participants or for children in such an environment, or for society at large. The Orthodox Church believes in and defends the integrity of the Bible. All religions are not equal. And racism does not motivate Christians who hold the opinion that it is inappropriate to build a mosque at Ground Zero.

    I’m sure as Orthodox faithful we may disagree on various current events in the political realm. But as Orthodox Christians there are principles and doctrines which transcend personal opinion and which we are bound to support. These issues seem to us to be so plain and clear that we would ask you in brotherly love: if you feel you cannot correct yourself and retract your inflammatory public statements and judgments, that you refrain from public speaking.

    It is with genuine love and respect that we write to you. If in anything we have offended you, we apologize. We offer you this correction in the spirit of humility, welcoming any corrective response from you.

    Sincerely,

    V. Rev. Fr. Mark Hodges, Lima, Ohio

    Frank Schaeffer’s Fundamentalist Fakery | @ActonInstitute PowerBlog
     
  2. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina New Member

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    I am refusing to buy any of the books published by Regina Orthodox Press since Frankie has a very negative streak.

    When I purchased TWO PATHS by Whelton, I noticed that most of Whelton's references were from encyclopedias, which we were told to avoid in high school in favor of primary sources. In addition, there were multiple grammatical and spelling errors. Finally, I did not like the anti-Catholic rhetoric which filled this book. The truth should be expressed with love, not spite.

    It is obvious that the editors at Regina Orthodox Press are not concerned about scholarship nor the proper use of the English language.
     
  3. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member

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    wow, pretty direct article/letter. interesting, and somewhat sad, post.
     
  4. rusmeister

    rusmeister Contributor

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    I haven't followed Schaeffer, this is the first I've heard about him taking definite anti-Orthodox stances.

    But what comes up for me is this - shouldn't the first effort of a brother in Christ to correct an erring brother be private? The impression (possibly false) that I get is that this very public correction wasn't preceded by a private attempt to accomplish what Fr Mark is trying to do. And doesn't Mr. Schaeffer have a priest or confessor of his own? Does he ever even ask his priest for input?

    Not that I see anything wrong in Fr Mark's positions, but a wrong approach, even to Frank, could have undesirable results.
     
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  5. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina New Member

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    I called him on the phone after reading TWO PATHS.

    He does not care.
     
  6. ex-pat

    ex-pat Newbie

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    I've met him...he comes across as very, very arrogant, and has so much hate towards his father that he vehemently opposes everything his father does. One gets the impression he's not grown out of his teen years, and that if his father said a thing was white, he'd come along and call it black, just because. :(
     
  7. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina New Member

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    Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on Frank and save him.
     
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  8. gracefullamb

    gracefullamb Junior Member

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    Ugh, I know it is uncharitable of me, but I wish someone would put duct tape over Frank Schaeffer's mouth and lock him in a closet, then toss the key out. Every time he opens his mouth to the press my family finds out and what little progress I have managed to make of them accepting the fact that I am now Orthodox and not a heretic, that I am not returning to the Roman Catholic church but that doesn't mean I don't love or respect them, all of that progress is completely destroyed.
     
  9. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina New Member

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    Lord Jesus Christ have mercy granting Frank health and salvation.

    My mother and father refused to look further into Orthodoxy when they viewed the conversion video of Frank Schaeffer. They were shocked and scandalized. My priest was very upset that I sent my parents the video without checking with him first because much damage has been done by it.
     
  10. ClementofRome

    ClementofRome Spelunking the most ancient caves of Xianity

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    I was a lover of Francis Shaeffer before my conversion to Orthodoxy and am still a respecter of what he was attempting to do whilst most of liberal Protestantism was going to hell in a hand basket....

    I found Frankie's "Dancing Alone" to be a resonant (though aggressive) sound to me as I was leaving Calvinism and heading toward Orthodoxy. But I have been saddened at what he has now publically become.

    I have said it before....when one is at the crossroads.....Orthodoxy or Existentialism become the options.


    Lord have mercy.
     
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  11. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    Thanks all. I agree with praying for Frank. He has lots of deep-seated anger.

    Anyhow, I hadn't realized he'd taken such an 180 degree turn on some of the moral stances mentioned above. I do think sometimes when someone is so far to one spectrum, they sometimes swing all the way to the other side before coming somewhere in the middle.

    I do think it can be harmful when Frank speaks for the Orthodox Church when he says things that are erroneous to what the Church believes.
     
  12. rusmeister

    rusmeister Contributor

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    I feel like my own question is still dangling out there...
    Is he in a church in canonical communion? Does he have a priest? Why does it fall to a priest with no particular connection to him to publicly rebuke him in a letter? Where is his own priest?
     
  13. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina New Member

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    Are the various Orthodox jurisdictions becoming afraid to censure people or excommunicate them when the hierarchs have grounds to do so?

    Is the fear of legal retaliation part of this?
     
  14. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    I don't know, Rus. That's a private matter that I'm sure he doesn't share - what's going on in his spiritual life and what he's saying to his SF. But it seems that not just Fr. Mark felt this way. There were many others that did, but didn't go ahead with sending him the letter. This letter was from a couple years ago. I don't think it made much difference to Frank though. :(
     
  15. ex-pat

    ex-pat Newbie

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    GOA, canonical, Newburyport, MA. Annunciation. His current priest is Fr. Constantine Newman, although Father Constantine was not his priest at the time of his conversion, nor until fairly recently.

    As for why no one does anything??? Well, at a stab, it's because they're very liberal in MA, and may not think he's saying anything wrong, and also, they have a HUGE delight in their local celebrity. (They refers to the parish, not the priest). I visited that parish once, and was told by several complete strangers "Frank Schaeffer attends here!" I suspect that any priest who tried to deal with his behaviour would find himself in the midst of a parish schism.

    Pray for the parish, for Father Constantine, and for Frank Schaeffer and those he scandalizes.:crosseo:
     
  16. MariaRegina

    MariaRegina New Member

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    Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy.
     
  17. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    Here's another article from an Orthodox layperson that felt the need to correct errors that Frank made in a speech in 2010:




    Speaker didn't reflect the church's views

    DEBATE
    George C. Michalopulos: In a free society we should welcome open and honest debate.

    By GEORGE C. MICHALOPULOS
    Published: 7/24/2010 2:19 AM
    Last Modified: 7/24/2010 7:31 AM

    Recently, the Tulsa Interfaith Council sponsored an appearance by Frank Schaeffer. I had the pleasure of attending one of Frank's lectures. As a fellow Orthodox Christian it's always good to see Frank. Whether you agree with him or not, you know you're in for a good and lively debate.

    Personally, I've always considered him a friend and still do. (Regina Orthodox Press, which is owned by Frank, published a book I wrote.) Having said that, I was disheartened by much of what I heard. I fear that some of his statements may have been injurious to many people; at the very least some might think that because of his fame, as an author, lecturer, and television commentator, he represents the views of the Orthodox Church.

    Like many prominent speakers and authors, Frank's journey has taken him to some interesting places. Formerly a stalwart of the religious right, Frank has now become a pillar of the secularist left. That is certainly his right. Every man is entitled to his own opinions but not his own facts.

    Much of what he asserted was, to put it mildly, arguable. Possibly the most egregious thing I heard Frank say was "that Evangelical Christians were more sinister than the Taliban."

    Quite simply, this is a gratuitous assertion, one having no basis in reality. It was sheer bigotry, pure and simple. If anybody on the right said that about a minority group, he'd be condemned, and rightly so. (I for one have yet to find one instance of Evangelicals stoning homosexuals or forcing women into burqas.)

    In addition, Frank equivocated as to whether he was pro-life and justified his ambivalence by questioning the bona fides of many pro-life leaders.

    Finally, he questioned the political acumen of those who are traditional and culturally conservative.

    My purpose here is to state clearly and without equivocation that Frank does not speak for the Orthodox Church. Neither do I — only bishops sitting in council can do that.

    Nevertheless, in the interest of clearing up any misconceptions, it can be stated that there are a few givens about Orthodoxy.

    First of all, the Orthodox Church is evangelical. We are called to fulfill the Great Commission. In addition, many of our bishops and clergy have come to us from the Evangelical tradition. Our parishes have been enriched with the presence of Evangelicals and their deep commitment to the Gospel.

    Secondly, the Orthodox Church is committed to the pro-life cause. It is a pro-life church, period. Thirdly, Orthodox Christians are, broadly speaking, culturally conservative. All are welcomed, regardless of their condition or their past.

    We are taught as part of our penitential journey to judge nobody but ourselves. Our fidelity to the Gospel however prevents us from conforming to the spirit of the age. While we cannot be pigeonholed into any one political party, our concerns regarding cultural (not political) issues are informed by the Christian tradition that has been consistent to the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the very founding of the Christian church itself.

    In a free society we should welcome open and honest debate. I mean no disrespect to Frank or those Christians who agree with him. But I just wanted to set the record straight.

    Speaker didn't reflect the church's views | Tulsa World


    If priests and laypeople have to explain and correct errors from Frank's speeches, why is he still going on speaking engagements? Maybe he's not speaking from the Orthodox POV, but just on life in general? I don't know. From what I've read, he meshes them together and like that first article said, he uses the Orthodox Church as his "weapon" if you will, but in a wrong way and hurtful way.
     
  18. Dorothea

    Dorothea One of God's handmaidens

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    :crosseo: Lord, have mercy.
     
  19. ex-pat

    ex-pat Newbie

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    Quite possibly, but I think it's mainly pride in their local "celebrity". Also, his wife is on the parish council there, so I conclude that it would be unpopular to reprimand him.:crosseo:
     
  20. gurneyhalleck1

    gurneyhalleck1 The Orthodox Dark Knight Rises!

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    I never knew much about this character until I started looking into Orthodoxy. Frankly, I'm blown away at how liberal he is on social issues and how or why he remains Orthodox?

    Orthodoxy is not a political religion. Catholicism really is. I notice that most of the threads in OBOB and on most online Catholic forums are all about politics and pro-Republican agendas. I happen to be Independent, sympathetic to the Democrats with union matters, taxation, the environment, medicare, social security, animal rights, etc. But I agree with the Right Wing on abortion, homosexuality, stem cells, etc. So I think it's ok to not walk a party line. But Schaffer seems to be full on pro-gay marriage, pro abortion, the whole liberal nine yards. How his bishop has put up with this is beyond me?

    Just out of curiosity I went to Huffington Post and read his garbage. Wow, I had to quit. It was absurd....
     
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