Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Orthodoxy in Indonesia

The link to this article originally came from Fr. Stephen Freeman at Glory to God for All Things:

Incarnational Approach to Orthodoxy in Indonesia
An Interview with Fr.Dionysios (Rm.Dionisius Surya Halim)and his presbytera Artemia Rita:
Orthodoxy was first established in Indonesia in Batavia, Java as a parish of the Harbin Diocese in accordance with the Ukase of the Harbin Diocesan Council of November 23, 1934, № 1559. In the late 1940's, the parish was under the omophorion of Archbishop Tikhon of San Francisco. Unfortunately, after the Dutch relinquish their powers to the local leadership, many of the Russian parishioners have already fled during this period of civil unrest, and eventually the parish closed in the early 1950s, when its rector Fr Vasily immigrated to the USA. The following is an online interview conducted by with Fr.Dionysios (and his wife Presbytera Artemia Rita), one of the six newly ordained priests in Indonesia.

Archimandrite Daniel The rebirth of Orthodoxy in Indonesia is widely attributed to Archimandrite Daniel B.D. Byantoro, a Muslim Indonesian who converted to Orthodoxy in the 1980s. His missionary effort eventually brought official government recognition of the Orthodox Church in Indonesia in 1996 (with a legal act of Government:" SK Dirjen Bimas Kristen Depag R.I. no.: F/Kep/Hk.00.5/19/637/1996"). Can you tell us how Orthodoxy has grown since then in this predominately Muslim country?
-Fr.Dionysios: When Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro (who has some Chinese among his ancestors) started his mission in Indonesia, he was not aware that there was an Orthodox presence prior to his conversion and his mission efforts in Indonesia. This is because what you mentioned about the Church in Batavia (Old Jakarta) happened before Indonesian independence and before the country was called Indonesia. Besides, it was not mainly a mission Church for the Indonesians, but a foreign Church catering to the Russian people. Therefore, as Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has said, our mission, when viewed in the light of the recent connection to the Church of Russia, is indeed a "rebirth" for the Orthodox mission, but being completely independent from any foreign mission endeavor, it is also completely new "phase of modern mission" movement within Orthodoxy. For it is being done by a local son of the Indonesian soil rather than by the missionary efforts of a foreign mission body. It is the Church for the Indonesians started by an Indonesian. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro learned that a Russian Orthodox Church existed in Batavia (old Jakarta) during the last years of the Dutch colonial government in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and the first years of Indonesian government only after he had contact with Archbishop HILARION of Australia. Before that he knew nothing about it. So there is no direct organic connection between the Russian Church in Batavia during the Dutch colonial era and the present indigenous movement of the Indonesian Orthodox Church among the people of Indonesia. The separate histories, the one in the Batavian era and the other in modern Indonesia, are connected by way of the recent ordination of the new priests by Archbishop HILARION.
Right from the very beginning of his mission, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has been conscious of the ethnic diversity of Indonesia, and he made the point from the very beginning that, as part of his mission policy, there has to be an Indonesian-Chinese cultural expression for Orthodoxy in Indonesia in addition to his concentration on the Javanese cultural expression in the city of Solo where he started his mission. And of course there has to be a national expression in the Indonesian language as well. Unfortunately, during the early phase of the mission, there were not many Chinese members who came to the faith. The only Chinese descendant for whom Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro expected to develop the Chinese-Indonesian cultural expression of Orthodoxy was himself. Yet he was culturally more Javanese than Chinese, because he grew up in Java among the Javanese. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, who has a Chinese name "Chao Heung Jin ( Cáo Héngjìn 曹衡进)", himself has made efforts to learn the Chinese language. Because of time constraints, he had to abandon the effort, but he is fluent in Korean. However, with the recent marriage of Fr Kyrillos Junan Iswaja (himself a Chinese) before his ordination, Fr Daniel has given us guidance on how to keep the Indonesian-Chinese wedding custom within the context of Orthodox practice without changing the Liturgical tradition of the Church. It was a very beautiful combination.
Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro provides us with much guidance on how to incorporate the Indonesian-Chinese (or other Indonesian ethnic) cultural expression within Indonesian Orthodoxy, and we are going to implement it slowly when the time comes. He has also done similar things with the introduction of some Javanese cultural expressions into Orthodoxy. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has an academic background in cultural anthropology and at present is teaching world religions and cultures at Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, USA. He also knows seven languages and is beginning to learn Russian. It will be his eighth language.
The guiding principle that helps Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro accomplish his mission is the "Incarnational" approach, which means that the Gospel has to be incarnated within the context of the local cultures, languages, financial support and leadership. The great principle of Nevius, a Protestant missionary to China, is very compatible with this incarnational approach. The Nevian principle states that, in order for any mission effort to be successful at all, it has to fulfill the criteria of "self propagation" (the proclamation of the gospel has to be done by local people with local expression), "self-supporting" (as early as possible the local people have to be able to support themselves financially so that they will not depend upon foreign aid all the time, which results in an unhealthy dependency on the foreign leader rather than the local people) and "self-rule" (as early as possible after proper training the leadership of the Church has to be relegated to the local people, so that it is not under the dictate of foreign interests and power). With the bitter history of colonialism from which Indonesia has freed itself, it is imbedded deep within our psyche to detest and to loathe any sign of colonialism, whether it is political, religious or cultural. Anyone who wants to do mission work in Indonesia while disregarding this Indonesian cultural psychology will be bound to fail in his endeavor. The Indonesian people will revolt against anything that they smack of foreign religious-cultural colonialism (whatever and wherever it comes from). The vision of Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, which has also become our vision, is that there has to be an indigenous Indonesian Orthodox Church, not an implanted outside culture, interest and power in Indonesia. Any foreign power and cultural imposition will be deemed unacceptable. We want to become Orthodox as Indonesians, we don't want to become what we are not. Our interest is not in foreign culture, we are only interested in the " Orthodox Apostolic Faith" of the Church, pure and simple.
Therefore the plans and visions of the mission work for Indonesia were not something incidental, but had been contemplated for a long time by Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, even when he was still a student in Korea. They became more intense when he was at Mt. Athos. He was already well taught in his former Protestant Seminary in Korea (which is an affiliate of Fuller Theological Seminary) on the principles of indigenization and inculturation of the Gospel. He knew his culture, and he wanted to express Orthodoxy within the contexts of his own culture. And he found that the history of Orthodoxy and many features of Orthodoxy are conducive toward implementing that kind of indigenization and inculturation.
It was on Mt. Athos that he started to translate the Divine Liturgy into the Javanese language and write the first Orthodox theological treatises in that language. Also during his stay on Mt. Athos, he started to create and coin new terms for translating many Orthodox terms that had not existed within the language. When the newly created terms sounded too awkward and strange, he resorted to using the original Greek terms side by side with them, such as using "Theotokos" alongside "Sang Pamiyos Widdhi."
Theologically speaking, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro also used the existing thought patterns of Indonesian culture to package Orthodox teaching within the Indonesian mental set up. Just as the Church Fathers had to face Greek paganism, Judaism, and Gnosticism in order to present the Gospel intelligibly to ancient peoples, Orthodox theology faces similar challenges in the context of the Indonesian mission.
Those challenges are:
The Islamic strand that has similarities with Judaism.
The Hindu-Buddhistic strand that has similarities with Greek paganism.
The Javanese-mystical strand called "Kebatinan" (the "Esoteric Belief") that has similarities to Gnosticism. (It is a blend of ancient shamanistic-animism on the one hand and Hindu-Buddhistic mysticism and Islamic Sufism on the other, and is divided into many mystical denominations and groups, just like Gnosticism was.)
The secularistic-materialistic strand of the modern world.
The first three strands have made the Indonesian people intensely religious. Into this religious and theological climate, the Patristic approach to ancient Greek paganism, Judaism and Gnosticism has provided, for the present writer, a paradigm to deal with all those strands inherent in Indonesian culture. In this regard, Orthodoxy must build trust among religions in Indonesia before it can have any significant influence. By maintaining a harmonious relationship with other religions existing in the country, Orthodoxy can contribute toward combating the pernicious influence of materialistic secularism.
In term of Orthodox religious practices, there are religious practices that cannot be described as belonging to any particular religion in Indonesian culture. They are practiced all over Indonesia, and although they have many different names and some slight variations in practice, they basically have the same pattern. These practices include fasting, ascetic labor, communal meals, prayer for the dead, and the keeping of relics. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro had to deal with these cultural religious practices carefully, in order that Orthodoxy be acceptable to the Indonesian people.
For example, the practice of sitting on the floor for religious purposes is adopted in the worship of the Church in Indonesia. "Coned rice" instead of kolyva is used for commemorating the dead, since Indonesians do not eat bread as their main staple and do not grow wheat. The prayer of the Trisagion is used to replace the traditional Indonesian practice of honoring departed ancestors. Women wear veils in the Church, as was traditionally done by Orthodox people, but also conforms to the idea of the pious woman in the Indonesian culture. Icons and relics, with a right Orthodox and biblical understanding, have replaced amulets and heirlooms. Communal meals are usually done during festivities in the Church, as well as during Lent, where everybody breaks their fast together in the Church after Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. Some cultural symbolism has been adopted as well for the usage of the Church, such as the usage of young coconut leaves for decorating the Church building during festivals and feasts.
The first thing Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro did when he arrived back in Indonesia to start his mission was to form an evangelistic foundation named "Yayasan Dharma Tuhu" ( "Orthodox Foundation") and then changed into "Yayasan Orthodox Injili Indonesia" ( "Indonesian Evanglistic Orthodox Foundation"). This foundation later became what we know as the "Gereja Orthodox Indonesia" ("The Indonesian Orthodox Church"), an umbrella organization for all Orthodox jurisdictions if they want to be legally recognized when operating in Indonesia, of which Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro is the president to date. It is the only legal Orthodox organization, and Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro is the only legal president and founder of the organization. No foreigner is allowed to be a head of any religious organization in Indonesia.
When he arrived in Indonesia, the city of Solo, Central Java, there are several forms and methods of mission that Archimandirite Daniel Byantoro adopted, namely:
Proclamation of the Gospel in its wider sense, namely, through preaching, Bible study, direct personal evangelism, friendship evangelism, the distribution of literature, radio broadcasting programs, seminars, socialization, and mission travel.
Preaching means not only what we do during Liturgy in the Church, but also preaching about Orthodoxy at non-Orthodox gatherings, such as during the Christmas festival, during family gatherings, during marriage ceremonies and so on, so that a wider audience will be introduced to Orthodoxy.
Bible Studies are done not only within Orthodox communities, but also done for everybody who is interested to hear. During such Bible studies conducted by Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, between 50-100 non-Orthodox people usually come to attend.
Direct personal evangelism has been done by many of our priests. It is done through house-to-house visitation, or when meeting someone on the road, at shops, or at any place the priest or the Orthodox person happens to meet people. It can be done also through personal friendships with non-Christian or non-Orthodox.
We are also sending literature and books to interested people within the city, outside the city, within the island, and outside the island. Sometimes we also sell that literature to other people.
The translation of liturgical books is still being done because we have not finished the Menaion, the Festal Menaion, the Triodion, Pentacostarion, and the Paraklitiki / Octoechos. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, in spite of his busy schedule in the USA, is still doing the translation of the Liturgikon, Eirotelestikon, the Great Horologion, and the Liturgy of St James.
In the Jakarta area, a radio program was started with the Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro as the speaker and an occasional radio program is also done in the city of Solo. The Church in Solo has a vocal group that accompanies such a program.
Seminars on Orthodoxy were done only occasionally because it costs a lot of money, especially to rent a space in a big hotel. The seminars target people in the middle to high-class levels of society.
Last but not least, in order to open the possibility of new mission areas in this huge country of Indonesia, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has done mission travels to different parts of Indonesia, such as to Kalimantan (Borneo), to West and East Sumatra Island, and to Timor Island.
The first thing he did was the translation of liturgical and theological books for the purpose of teaching, and most of the main services have been translated into the Indonesian language and partly in Javanese, Balinese, and the Batak language of Sumatra. You yourself are of Chinese descent. From what region of China and when did the Chinese migrate to Indonesia? What percentage of the Indonesian population is of Chinese descent? Do they still speak and read Chinese? Can you tell us how about your family background?
-Fr.Dionysios: There has been a long history of interactions between China and the Indonesian archipelago. But most Indonesians do not know them well. Nowadays, in every part of Indonesia especially in cities there is always a Chinese presence. During the first nation-wide Kingdom of Sriwijaya (founded in the 7th century in southern Sumatera), there was a Chinese Buddhist scholar from China by the name of "Hui Ning (会宁)" who visited and resided in the capital of the Kingdom, to study Buddhism in the famous Nalanda Buddhist Seminary in the capital city of that kingdom. During the second nation-wide Kingdom of Majapahit (around 13-16th century), Admiral "Ceng Ho ( Zhèng Hé 郑和)" was sent from China to Majapahit to establish relations. There were Chinese princesses married to the nobles of the Kingdom of Majapahit. During the first wave of Islamic expansion in Java, the son of the last Majapahit King who had been converted to Islam, known as 'Raden Fatah" (his Chinese name: "Jin Bun") whose mother actually was Chinese, was the founder of the first Javanese Islamic kingdom. Some of the "Walisongo" (or the Nine Saints) who had brought Islam to the predominantly Hindu-Buddhist Java island were said and believed to be of Chinese descent. In modern times, the fourth president of the Republic of Indonesia (2001-2002) popularly called "Gus Dur" acknowledged that part of his family ancestry is Chinese.
So there has always been movement of people from China to the archipelago. In so far as the modern Chinese population of Indonesia is concerned, there are actually four groups of Chinese who have settled in this country. These four groups are based on their language and origin in China. This modern Chinese migration into Indonesia happened between the 16th and 19th centuries.
The Hokkien people came from Fukien ( Fújiàn 福建) Province, an area very important for the history of Chinese trade in the south. They have a very diligent, patient, and delicate character. They are very good at trading. So most of them are economically successful. Their migration into Indonesia reached a wide area in east Indonesia, central Java, East Java, and west Sumatra.
and 3. The Teo-Chiu ( Cháozhōu 潮州) and Hakka (Khek, or in Mandarin Kèjiā 客家) people from Swatow ( Shàntóu 汕头) of eastern Kwantung ( Guǎngdōng 广东) Province in southern China. The Teo-Chiu and Hakka people were employed in mines, such as in East Sumatera, Bangka island, and Belitung.
The Kanton ( Guǎngzhōu 广州) people ( Kwong Fu, or in Mandarin Guǎngfǔ 广府) were the residents of the southern part of Kwantung province. At the beginning they were interested in the Indonesian mining industry, and they came with their skills. They are the people who own shops, and blacksmiths. There are not as many of them as there are Hakka and Teo-Chiu.
For the Indonesians the four groups are not that important, as they are much more known as:
Indonesian-Chinese or "Peranakan"
Pure Chinese or "Totok"
This classification is based largely on the degree of their assimilation and acculturation with the local people and culture. Most Hokkien (mainly men) who migrated first to Indonesia have experienced deep assimilation and acculturation, even their physical characters are almost the same as the local people due to intermarriage. Most of them have forgotten their language, and speak the local languages and Indonesian.
Groups of immigrants lived in west Java, Sumatera, on small islands off the east coast of Sumatera, and West Kalimantan. There are still Totok with Chinese villages, who speak their own language and continue their culture in Indonesia. This Totok group was enlarged by later migrations (with women/wives from China in the early 20th century).
In the early 1990s, Totok considered themselves as keepers of Chinese cultural ideals and maintained their traditions through household shrines, reverence for ancestors, and private language instruction (writing & speaking) in Chinese schools and homes. Highly oriented toward success, they saw themselves as more dedicated to hard work, individual social mobility through the acquisition of wealth, and self-reliance than the Peranakan. Whereas Peranakan were more likely to have settled on Java, Totok were better represented on the other islands (e.g. Selatpanjang island, Bagansiapiapi & Medan on Sumatera, Pontianak on western Kalimantan island).
The government program of assimilation for the Chinese was carried out in several ways. Symbols of Chinese identity had long been discouraged and even occasionally prohibited: Chinese-language newspapers, schools, and public ritual use of Chinese names were all subject to strong governmental disapproval. In the years following independence, nearly 50 percent of Chinese Indonesians failed to seek Indonesian citizenship, either because of continuing loyalty to the People's Republic of China or the Republic of China of Taiwan, or because of the prohibitive costs of gaining citizenship papers. To carry out its stated policy of assimilation in a period of rapprochement with China, however, the Suharto government enacted new regulations in the 1980s designed to expedite the naturalization of persons with Chinese citizenship. The assimilation policy was successful. By 1992 only about 6 percent, or 300,000 out of approximately 15 million Chinese Indonesians (at most: 3% of the population of the country) were acknowledged by the People's Republic of China as being Chinese citizens. Regulations announced in June 1992 by the director general of immigration allowed immigrants from China who had lived illegally in Indonesia for decades to receive entry permits and to reside legally in Indonesia once they obtained a Chinese passport.
As a result of the different treatments based on social status during the Dutch colonial period, they did not want to be classified as locals. This attitude was strengthened by Chinese Nationalist propaganda during the 20th century—this propaganda of re-orientating their nation. This led to a return to the Chinese patrilneal system or nationality based on blood relation called ius sanguinis. Prior to 1955, this policy had caused double nationality. The most important consequence was a growing awareness of the Great China family or a simple process of Totokinization.
In general most Chinese in Indonesia work in trade, especially the Hokkien. In West Java and West Sumatra they are farmers. In Bagan Siapi-api (Riau) the Hokkien are fishermen. The Hakka in Sumatra work at mining, while in West Kalimantan they are farmers. The Teo-Chiu work as farmers but many also labor on farm estates in East Sumatra.
The trade of Chinese in Indonesia is based on family ownership and management. Most are small size and do not need outside workers. If their business grows, they open a new branch which is given to their brother, child or any other family member to manage. If they build a limited corporation, then they work with other Chinese clans or even other ethnic groups if they consider such cooperation profitable.
The Totok consider the Peranakan to be lower class due to their mixed blood, while the Peranakan consider the Totok to be lower class as they all came to Indonesia as laborers. During the Dutch colonial era, the Chinese lived as if they were an autonomous society, and they were permitted to rebuild their own culture in Indonesia. When their ethnic identity became strong, the Dutch realized the situation and closed all educational institutions that belonged exclusively to the Chinese. During the Japanese control of the Dutch East Indies, all western schools were closed, and again Chinese schools were rebuilt. After Indonesian independence, all educational facilities and systems were reorganized and adjusted under the basic constitution of Indonesia, which states that educational facilites are to be for everyone, and no special treatment is allowed to exist. Since 1957, all Indonesians have had to follow the rules with no exception for any ethnicity.
The kinship system of the Chinese in Indonesia is almost the same as that of the main ethnic cultures in Indonesia. The only difference is that their family unit is much bigger ( big virilocal ). The status of women in the past was low. A woman was subordinate to her husband, brothers, and their parents-in-law. Men sought to have boys and could take more women as wives until a son was born.
I, Fr. Dionysios or "Lim Eng Chiang ( Lín Róngqiáng 林荣强)," consider myself to be a "Peranakan," as I do not speak Chinese, while my wife ( presbytera Artemia Rita) I consider to be a "Totok," because her domestic language in the family is Chinese (i.e. Hokkien and Mandarin). Both of our parents are still alive and healthy. (My father recovered from a brain tumor, thanks to the Red Fruit Juice or "Sari Buah Merah" from Papua, given to us by the kind benefactors Mr. David Hadiningrat & Mrs. Christine Photini).
My father "Lim Ho Tjoean ( Lín Huòquán 林和全)" can speak Hokkien a little bit, because his grandfather came straight from Fukien in southern China. My mother (from the Hokkien people) "Tan Tjoei Tie Nio ( Chén Shuǐzhìniáng 陈水智娘)" can speak Mandarin (Pǔtōnghuà 普通话) a little bit because she went to a Chinese school for a while. (It was then closed down by the Japanese occupation forces.) She was born in Lahewa village (devastated just now by the earthquake of March 28; my "Shaie," i.e. my mother's elder sister, was killed together with her husband, crushed by the falling roof of their concrete three storey home) on the island of Nias. At home, we speak the Indonesian language "Bahasa Indonesia".
My presbytera Artemia Rita, born "Hoang ing ing ( Huáng Yíngyíng 黄莹莹 )", still speaks Hokkien and Mandarin in her home (when we visit her family). She learned Chinese characters in her primary school on Selatpanjang island. Then she went to Jakarta for her secondary & high school and university education and seldom wrote in Mandarin. Her father "Hoang Beng Sun ( Huáng Mínshùn 黄民顺)" and her mother "Lim Pek Luan ( Lín Báiài 林白嬡)" speak, write and read Mandarin / pu tong hoa. (They watch Chinese TV Programs from PRC and Taiwan by satellite, read the Christian Bible & newspapers in Mandarin, and speak Mandarin to their five-year-old granddaughter and two-year-old grandson i.e. my niece and nephew). I hope to learn to speak Mandarin together with these nieces and nephews while they are growing up. Recently, six priests including you were ordained by His Eminence Archbishop HILARION of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. How were you introduced to Orthodoxy and what led you to decide to join the priesthood?

Fr. Dionysios withH.E. Abp HILARIONat St Thomas parish
-Fr.Dionysios: I was educated as a Roman Catholic, and I studied philosophy in a Roman Catholic university including a two years post graduate program. Upon completion of the entire course of study, I began a career in teaching Roman Catholic theology. However, when in 1999 I met my wife-to-be, Presbytera Artemia, I began to question many aspects of Roman Catholic theology and practices. With the agreement of my wife-to-be, we were searching for the true apostolic faith, and it happened that when we were in Singapore (I myself stayed in this city country for six months starting around the time that the rioting and looting occurred in Jakarta in 1998; when I visited the historic cities of Melaka and then Kualalumpur, I did not see any Orthodox Church there), we saw on a map the "Armenian Church". We then visited the "Armenian Church" at Hill street in Singapore, and through the Orthodox priest there we made contact with Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, and the search of Orthodoxy began in earnest with the guidance of Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro. At last we decided to become Orthodox and were married by Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro in the Orthodox Church. Finally in September 2001 Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro invited me to Jakarta to learn the Orthodox faith more deeply and to help him in his ministry. The more I learnt the more I was drawn into the calling of becoming an Orthodox priest. Finally I was able to go to Russia, for a year to deepen my understanding in Orthodoxy, until I was ordained by His Eminence Metropolitan HILARION. The earthquakes and the devastating tsunami last December has caused much untold disruption in people's daily lives. International Orthodox Christian Charity and the Office of Philanthropy of OMHKSEA have joined many relief organizations in bringing back some sense of normalcy to the country. How has this affected parish life in the Orthodox Church, and what role has the Orthodox Church played with the humanitarian relief effort.
-Fr.Dionysios: The Orthodox Churches and communities throughout East and South East Asia (eg. in Hong Kong, in Jakarta, in Medan-Sumatera) have offered prayers, help and donation to the victims of the devastating tsunami. It is for the glory of the Lord’s name! This is a testimony and example of the Orthodox Christian faith responding to their suffering fellow neighbor human beings.
May the Holy Spirit of God strengthen them who are suffering. May He grant in turn the Orthodox communities in the region one moment of a spiritually fruitful reflection. Thus we are to live on this blue planet with unconditional and forgiving love of our Lord. Then, when the time comes for us to leave this world at any moment, we in peace and joy may face our Creator WHO forgives and has mercy on us. Realizing the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy for us, it is a proper thing that we are to forgive and have mercy for others. You were also granted to establish an Orthodox community in the city of Pekanbaru of the Province of Riau, on the island of Sumatera, Indonesia. The community is named after the Chinese martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion, St Metrophanes and his presbytera St Tatiana. What is your vision for this community and are there missionary opportunities among Indonesians of Chinese descent? Are there any obstacles?
-Fr.Dionysios: Answering shortly, based on the teaching of St.Justin Martyr about "Logos Spermatikos", the vision is to bring the pearls of the Chinese-Indonesian's way of world-view and beliefs into the fullness of the Lord's light.

Fr. Dionysios andPresb. Artemia, first twomembers of the communityof Sts Metrophanes & Tatiana
We are looking to the future with optimism, and with the newly recognized basic human rights for the Chinese-Indonesians, we believe that these people will come forward to the light of the national stage to contribute to the development of their "tanah air" / country Indonesia based on a firm commitment to truth and justice, nurtured by the Orthodox faith of the Apostolic Church with Chinese-Indonesian characteristics.
Some of the obstacles are of a transitional nature, i.e. how to gather people to worship in a place not yet formally and legally recognized as a house of worship without upsetting non-believing neighbors and the authorities.
The Parakletos help us, The Lord be with us, The Holy Trinity bless our work, Holy Theotokos pray for us, the guardian Angel keep us safe; the holy fathers and saints and martyrs be our example.
31st of March 2005:priest Dion. & presbytera Artemia Rita.Jakarta-Pekanbaru, Indonesia.

original article can be found here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

OT Sacrifices: Whole Burnt Offering

The Major Sacrifices of the OT:

Whole Burnt Offering
Grain Offering (also the Drink Offering)
Peace Offering
Sin Offering
Trespass Offering

A couple words on sacrifice:

The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is multi-dimensional. There is not one image that can fully display all that happened. Because of this there were multiple sacrifices given in the OT in order to picture the content of the sacrifice of Christ.

The sacrifice of Christ is the ultimate expression of Christ's self-emptying love. The extent of this love demonstrates for man the life of the Trinity ("if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father").

Just as the tabernacle is a picture of what is happening in heaven. We also have a sacrifice for us that is going on for us in heaven eternally. Jesus is eternally offering His perfect sacrifice to the Father on our behalf.

The Greek for offering is “anaphora”. In the Liturgy we are joining into the one eternal sacrifice that Christ made to the Father on the cross.

Whole Burnt Offering:

The purpose of this offering is not necessarily for forgiveness of sins but for an act of total commitment to God. It is an act of worship.

The details of this offering can be found in Lev. 1ff.

Here is a summary:

- male without defect (they were to give their best representing the giving of yourself completely to God). Different animals were allowed based on one's economic status: a bull, a sheep or goat, or a turtledove/pigeon.
- offer at the doorway of the tent
- the offerer was to lay his hand on the head of the animal in order make atonement on his behalf. (What is atonement?)
- the man would kill it
- priest would sprinkle the blood around the altar
- all would be offered except the skin
the skin would be given to the priest for clothing as a memorial of what was offered.


The keys to understanding this sacrifice is vs. 4 about atonement and the nature of the sacrifice as being total.

Atonement: an easy way to remember what atonement means is to break up the word: at-one-ment. It is an act that makes us one with God, or in communion with God. The offerer of this sacrifice would be saying to God that he offers himself wholly and completely to God by placing his head and the most precious animal that he has and then offering the animal completely to God.

Lev. 17:11 “the life is in the blood” blood is then a symbol of life; to give blood is an expression of giving one’s life to the object of worship.

How does this offering of one's life to God make the man “at one” with God?

The offerer is joining into God’s action toward him. God has offered all to man and man offers back imperfectly all to God. This is critical to the understanding of atonement in Scripture. Some of inserted the pagan Greek understanding of atonement into the Judaic Biblical context. In pagan society one always feared a wrathful angry god. Events in life either went good or bad depending on the attitude of their god. The only way to placate this god was through some type of sacrifice. The greater, more dramatic the sacrifice the more hope an individual might have that the god would now be on their side.

The Biblical sacrifice was different than the pagan nations. It was an act of worship out of love or thankfulness for the self-giving love God was always displaying to mankind. The sacrifice of an animal was a way that man could offer a physical representation of self-giving love to God. These sacrifices were given context and structure under the Mosaic law to communicate this idea of true worship to people of Israel. By offering oneself to God through the best of herd or flock, man could mirror the love that was God giving. It was not an act of placating an angry but an act of communion.

Psa 51:16-19 displays this attitude. On one hand David says, "You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;You do not delight in burnt offering." But then he ends by saying that God will "be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then they shall offer bulls on Your altar." The killing of an animal does nothing for God or man. The sacrifice mattered little unless it was accompanied with this self giving love that David calls "a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart." This is evidence that man has entered into the physical sacrifice with his heart and out of emptiness and brokeness he gives all to God in worship.

The key for this is that man can not have communion without sacrificial commitment.

This sacrifice is perfectly fulfilled in Christ. Just as the man was to offer the best that He had to God in order to represent the total offering of himself to God, God does the same through Christ.
God offers Himself to us through Christ, and ultimately as Christians when we offer ourselves now to God we do so through Christ. Man could not perfectly offer Himself to God totally due to sin. Yet Christ offers Himself back to the Father in total love on the cross. The cross expresses the eternal Trinitarian relationship of love. We are able to enter into this sacrifice of the cross by being placed in the physical body of Christ (The Church), and offer ourselves to the Father as we enter into the eternal Sacrifice of Christ each time we celebrate the Eucharist.

Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship.


This aspect of sacrifice is proclaimed in the Divine Liturgy. Throughout the Liturgy we offer ourselves totally to God. “let us commend ourselves and each other all our life unto Christ our God” (at least 5 times we say this)

Other times during the priestly prayers the priest makes it clear that we are offering ourselves totally to God.

During the offering the priest proclaims, “Thine own of thine own we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all and for all”.


This offering was offered by Mary and Joseph at the presentation of Jesus in the temple. Mary was performing this sacrifice 40 days after giving birth. According to the law, a woman became unclean after birth, and was so for 40 days. The whole burnt offering sacrifice was given at the end of this time period. Unclean did not necessarily mean sinful, but it meant that something was keeping this person from being part of the worship community. Obviously 40 days was a perfect time for a woman to recover from birth and once again enter normal society. The offering in effect said the woman was once again worshipping God with the people of God.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Tabernacle - part 2

The previous entry discussed the Tabernacle up to the Holy of Holies. The next piece will discuss the Altar of Incense and the Holy of Holies.

Altar of Incense: This is considered part of the Holy of Holies even though technically not in there. For example, in the NT we see Zachariah (John the Baptist’s father) at the altar of incense making the daily offering. This is where God spoke to him through an angel about the birth of John. What were the people doing while he was offering the incense? Praying.

- 3ft high
- was gold and just like the bronze altar it had four horns on the four corners
- the priest were to burn incense every morning and evening
- the incense was made of 4 spices and was considered holy and the people could not use the formula for anything else. Lev 10:1; Num 16ff
- symbol of the prayers and praises of the people of God
- Ps. 141 - “let my prayer arise as incense before Thee, and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.”
- Mal 1:1; Rev. 8:3
- this was between the Lampstand and the Bread of the Presence and represented the prayer of the people praising God for being the giver of life and light to His people. Also it is through prayer that God’s life and light infuses His people.
- this is another picture of Christ who is our mediator with Father (Rom. 8:34)
- the horns on this altar were also daubed with blood representing the power of prayer in Christ.

Veil & Holy of Holies:

- place of God dwelling
- it was a perfect cube 15x15x15
- veil was blue, purple and scarlet with images of cherubim
- the veil was there to protect sinful man from a Holy God.
- High priest only entered there 1 yr on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
- When the High Priest entered he would wash, wear special clothing, burn incense, and bring blood (Heb 9:7)
- What happened to the veil? Upon crucifixion the veil was torn from the top down. In the temple this was 60 ft high and 30 ft wide and 4 inches think.
- Veil was the body of Christ (Heb. 10:19-22; Rev. 21:16; Heb. 9:24-26)

Ark of the Covenant:

- 3ft 9 in long; 2 ft. 3in wide & high
-contained the 10 commandments; the rod of Aaron; and a bowl of manna
-upon was the mercy seat representing the throne of God surrounding by the
- Ex. 25:22; Lev.16:2; God’s presence
- 2 Sam 6:2; Is 37:16; 1 Tim 6:16
- Manna: God’s provision (Jn 6:32)
- Staff: God’s Authority
- 10 commandments: God’s Righteousness
- objects of stumbling are covered by God’s mercy
- Day of Atonement: sprinkled with blood for all Israel

At the top of the post is an icon of the Virgin Mary often referred to as the Icon of the Sign or "More Spacious than the Heavens". This icon figures prominently behind the altar in the apse of the church in most Orthodox temples. According to the Fathers of the church, one of the OT types of Mary is the ark of the covenant. For the ark was the physical container of the presence of God, and Mary became the physically container of God incarnate. Just as the ark brought the presence of God in the midst of the people, so Mary brings Christ to the world through her assent to God's word. This imagery becomes more consistent when you consider the parallels of the Dormition account with an OT story about the ark.

In the OT, there is a story about the moving of the ark within the confines of the promised land. The ark had been neglected and had not been handled the way that God had commanded. Moses had laid down the regulations relating to the way the ark was to be carried and cared for. This was done in order to protect sinful man from the presence of God. The men carrying the ark in this story had thrown into an oxcart, and eventually it began to tip offer. One man, Uzzah, reached out to steady the ark and died upon touching it. The parallel Dormition account takes place during the funeral procession of Mary's body toward the grave. The apostles were carrying the funeral bier, and a zealous Jewish persecutor ran toward the bier in order to tip over the body. Upon doing so, an angel from heaven cut off his arms. One of the apostles, reached down picked up his arms and miraculously reattached them. The man repented and was converted to the faith.

The story does not end with Mary. Just as Mary was made the ark of God, we too must follow her paradigm for she is the prototypical Christian. We must hear the Word of God and receive it so that the Word may be borne in our hearts as well. We too must become an ark of God bringing God's presence to the world.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Orthodoxy for UK fans

For those outside the Bluegrass, UK means University of Kentucky, not the United Kingdom. Being a red-blooded Cardinal (U of Louisville), it is difficult to type something so complimentary of Big Blue Nation. However, within the hallowed halls in Lexington there lies a philosophy professor that is upholding the banner of Orthodoxy. If you have not made yourself familiar with the writings and thoughts of Dr. David Bradshaw, you have missed out on one who speaks clearly and succinctly about the "faith once delivered to the saints". I have yet to meet the man, so I can not speak of his character, but those I respect speak highly of him.

He most recently gave a lecture at the Chrysostom 1600 Anniversary lectures that I heard was fabulous. He spoke about Chrysostom's views on grace and free will. Hopefully Ancient Faith Radio was there to record and publish the lectures.

He has written a book on Aristotle that seems to be a must read for religion and philosophy geeks: Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom

You can read many of his essays and articles on the UK website at the following link: Dr. David Bradshaw

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Tabernacle - part 1

The Tabernacle:


The tabernacle was a mobile place of worship that God instructed Moses to build for the people of Israel. The word tabernacle means tent of meeting. This is the place where the people met with God. (Ex. 29:45-46) "They will know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of Egypt." The important piece to remember is Moses was instructed to build something reflective of the heavenly worship of God. It was a physical earthly representation of the worship of God in heaven. Today we have the same concern for worship. Just because much of the contents of the tabernacle/temple were fulfilled in Christ, it does not negate the pattern mirroring heavenly images. We do not create our own structure or plan for worship but continue to join in eternal worship in heaven. Orthodox churches are still today modeled after the OT temple, and continue to reflect "heavenly worship". Rev 11:19

Jesus is the tent of meeting, and is where we meet God. John 1

Gate: about 30 ft wide. When one approached the gate they saw only the bronze altar. The significance is there was only one way to enter. Upon entry one could find forgiveness of sins as long as it accompanied sacrifice and repentance.

There is one way to communion to God to do otherwise is to ultimately fall into deception.

How does this relate to Jesus? Jesus is the door or gateway to communion with the Father. John 14:6; John 10:9; Rev 21:3; Jn2:19ff

Bronze Altar: 7.5 ft high with 4 horns projecting from the corners. This was the place of sacrifice. The man or priest would place his hand on the animal before it was killed. Lev. 1:4; Lev. 17:11; Heb 9:22; Mk 14:24; 1 Pet 1:18-19; Heb 10:10ff

The horns were a symbol of power, and the blood from the sacrifice was daubed on them to signify the power of the blood to cleanse their sins.

Jesus is the horn of our salvation: Ps 18:2; Lk 1:69

Bronze Laver:

The priest washed there before entering the holy place.

There is a symbolism of the washing away of sin; the purity of water; this is a beautiful picture of baptism; it is through the waters of baptism man is sanctified and able to approach God the Father.

Eph 5:25-27; Heb. 10:22

Holy Place:

Gold Lampstand:

The lampstand had seven branches with one main branch and 3 on each side. It looked like an almond tree. (Lev. 24:1-3)

This was the only source of light in the Holy Place

It was from a miracle of this lampstand the feast of Hannukah arose. The Jewish priests were trapped and had no way to gather oil to burn due to the onslaught of their enemies. Miraculously, the oil continued to replenish and the lamp burned for 8 days. Jesus is referencing this feast when He proclaims, "He is the light of the world" John 1:9; Jn 8:12; Jn 9:46

It was a symbol of God as light and the lightgiver. The seven lamps reflect the perfection of God Himself.

Jesus is the main center and the believers are the 6 extensions. Jn 15:5

Table of Shewbread: (Bread of the Presence)

Lev. 24:5f

The table held 12 loaves representing 12 tribes or the totality of Israel. All of Israel was held in the presence of God.

Every Sabbath the priests would eat the bread.

The bread was anointed with oil in the form of a cross. Even among ancient Judaism it was seen as a symbol of the Messiah. The bread was immediately before the one approached the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. In a sense it mediated the presence of God to man.

The act of a meal spoke to the people about God willingly communing with man in an invitation to share a meal with Him. - John 6:35ff; Rev. 3:20

Questions or Comments, post here

Click for part 2

Getting Saved in the Church

If you have not found Fr. Stephen Freeman's blog yet, then you are missing out on one of the most edifying blogs. Yesterday, he posted an excellent article on "getting saved". Here's a link to the article and don't forget to added it to your favorites:

"Getting Saved in the Church"


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