Difference between revisions of "Daniel (Byantoro)"

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Revision as of 16:17, December 9, 2008

Archimandrite Daniel (Bambang Dwi) Byantoro (Chinese name "Chao Heung Jin (Cáo Héngjìn 曹衡进)") is an Indonesian Muslim convert to Orthodoxy to whom is widely attributed the rebirth of Orthodoxy in Indonesia.

Fr. Daniel was born into a middle-class family in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world. He was raised primarily by his maternal grandparents, who took great care to make sure that he received a complete religious education. Devout by nature, he studied the Qur’an, and accepted with great piety the teachings of Islam as they were passed on to him. As a Muslim, he opposed the teaching of Christianity, and was proud of his ability to win debates with Christians. He was nevertheless intrigued by the passages in the Qur’an that referred to Jesus, the son of Mary. One day during his evening Islamic prayers, Christ appeared to him in a miraculous and life-changing vision, similar to the experience St. Paul had on the road to Damascus. From that moment, Fr. Daniel’s life was radically and permanently altered.[1][2]

In 1978, he went to study in the Protestant Theological Seminary, the Asian Center for Theological Studies and Mission, (ACTS) in Seoul, Korea, without finding the answer to his quest. In 1982 he found the book The Orthodox Church by Timothy (Kallistos) Ware in a book shop in Seoul, which helped him to discover the Church for which he had been looking. Finally on September 6th, 1983, he converted to Orthodoxy with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Patriarch Demetrios, and of His Eminence Metropolitan Dionysios of New Zealand, and was chrismated by the hand of Archmandrite Sotirios Trambas (Bishop of Zelon, stationed in Korea).[3]

Having graduated from Korea, he went to Greece, where he stayed on Mount Athos. During this time he began to translate liturgical books into Indonesian, and struggled with terminology suitable to express the faith. By the end of 1984 he went to study in the U.S., at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston. Having finished his study in Boston and in two other schools in the U.S., he was ordained by His Grace Bishop Maximos of Pittsburgh to the Diaconate in the Holy Cross Church (pastored by Fr. John Chakos), and to the priesthood in the St. Paul Orthodox Church in Cleveland, Ohio, (pastored by Fr. James Symeonides).[4]

Mission In Indonesia

The Mission in Indonesia was started on June 8th 1988, as Fr. Daniel left the United States for Indonesia. The first convert to the Orthodox faith was a Muslim young man named Muhhamed Sugi Bassari, who was baptized by the name of Photios, on April 1989.[5]

Fr. Byantoro has said that the mission is a completely new phase of the modern mission movement within Orthodoxy, in that 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. 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".[6]

Theologically speaking, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has 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:

  1. The Islamic strand that has similarities with Judaism.
  2. The Hindu-Buddhistic strand that has similarities with Greek paganism.
  3. 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.)
  4. The secularistic-materialistic strand of the modern world.[7]

During his service in Indonesia, Fr. Daniel has been able to convert over 2000 people to Orthodoxy using principles and practices tried and tested throughout the Church's evangelistic experience.[8] Under his leadership, the Indonesian Orthodox Church has grown to its present size of over 20 clergy, approximately 30 local parishes and missions, and several thousand Orthodox Christians.[9] For this his life has been threatened more than once.

Jurisdictional Change

Although ordained in the Ecumenical Patriarchate, serious conflict arose among the ecclesiastical leadership in Indonesia in 2001, and Fr. Daniel returned to America for several years. In 2004 he began a dialogue with Archbishop (now Metropolitan) Hilarion of Australia, and in 2005 the Synod of ROCOR (the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) accepted him as a Priest, as well as the clergy and parishioners of the Indonesian Orthodox Church that were formerly under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (Ecumenical Patriarchate). Under Metropolitan Hilarion’s oversight, Fr. Daniel has been appointed Dean of the Mission for the Indonesian Orthodox Church under ROCOR, and continues to split his time between Indonesia, supervising the work of church planting, and evangelism, and raising up additional clergy for ordination, and the US, where he raises support for the Indonesian Orthodox Church.[10]

See also

External Links