Stimulated by the two responses given to his paper when the LOI Initiative met in Albania last month, Dr. Elmer Theissen has now written a further contribution to the debate. On the final day at St. Vlash Dr. Theissen presented a challenging paper on the ethics of evangelism. This paper received appreciative but robust responses from Dr. Danut Manastireanu and His Eminence Metropolitan Dr. Youhanon Mar Demetrios followed by a lively debate.
In his reply Dr. Theissen says, “I maintain that proselytizing understood as sheep-stealing need not always be wrong. …. I argue that it need not be unethical. There is an oddity about the very notion of sheep-stealing that needs to be brought to the fore. Is it even appropriate to talk about sheep (i.e. church members) being stolen? Or owned? There is a possessiveness here that worries me. Ultimately, the sheep or members of a church are not owned by the church. If anything, we should rather talk about sheep being owned by the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep (John 10). Further, the Good Shepherd is very concerned about sheep that get lost. Both Orthodox and evangelical Christians need to acknowledge that church members can get lost.”