For a few month I am researching orthodox church and its teaching. I would like to ask you if you can answer a few questions
1) Do you know anybody/did you hear about anybody who was really delivered from the power of darkness (different degrees of possesion and/or outside influence of unclean spirits) in the orthodox church?
2) Was this deliverance lasting, i.e. was is sustainable? If not why?
3) Is membership in the orthodox church necessary condition to be actively delivered by God/ starets/ orthodox priests? (The reason I ask you is that two priests said to me that using of orthodox treasures by non orthodox people is not recommended - however similar logic/schemes are used by most other christian and non christian sects - i.e. enter our holy sect and God will work miracles and if not than it is not God will to fix the particular problem).
3) How about people who are outside one true orthodox church - do they have any chance to be delivered? Could they be delivered in other christian churches or in sociates where christianity is not preached - muslim, hindu, budhist, agnostic and secular countries/ societies?
4) Is (previous) catholic baptims sufficient for entry to orthodox church? One priest said yes the second recommended full immersion baptism?
5) Is former baptism in baptist church sin to be confessed?
6) How long is on average catechumen period? Why is it much longer than the cases shown in the new testament?
7) How about finances? Are they audited and controlled by laity people? What is Gods wiew on frauds with money happened in one american orthodox church a few years ago (do not remember details)? Why the people did not get word of knowledge/ prophecy not to support such a church? I see double standard - converts who lied about their possesion to apostols in the new testaments died immediately - the priest who lie or representatives of churchus who manipulate are not punished by God at least in most of cases.
Kalistos Ware wrote in the Orthodox way that the problem that infinately good God knew in advance even before acts of creation that his creatures will stay for eternity in hell is a mystery? Has anybody better explanation?
9) Why is God so occult/ hidden etc? Why is Jesus so divided? Why the Holy spirit did not lead in the history many believers into one faith? What is the view of orthodox saints on the divisions of churches? Do the orthodox saints recognise sainthood of other christian saints - ie. for example did athonite starets recognised Padre Pio or coptic saints?
Pavel a bit critical but honestly asking
1. I do not know anyone like that personally, but I have heard stories.
2. From what I heard, sometimes lasting, sometimes not.
3. We do not know God's plans regarding salvation of those who are outside of the Church. God certainly CAN save anyone who does not resist Him (as for those who do resist, He does not force anything on them).
4. As Mike has pointed out above, it depends on a particular Orthodox jurisdiction. Some require re-baptism, some don't.
5. I am not sure that baptism can be viewed as "sin." Some bishops see a Heterodox baptism as "non-valid" or "devoid of Grace," but still even they hardly call it a sinful act.
6. People say, between one year and three years. Sometimes it is shorter (in my own case it was only about a month, because I am originally from Ukraine and my priest saw that I knew quite a lot about Orthodoxy).
7. AFAIK, Orthodox parishes do not own property; all posessions of a parish are, legally speaking, the property of the bishop. No one is forced to give. Fraud perhaps happens, occasionally, because people are sinful, but the Church does all She can to prevent theft or fraud.
8. I am not an expert in theology, but I think God never "planned" Hell. God certainly knew, before all ages, that His creation can fall; but He also, before all ages, knew that if men fall, God the Word will become man and save the fallen humanity.
9. God is not "occult" - He is "transcendent," meaning principally different from His creation. As Prof. Karl Bart put it, He is "entirely OTHER." Whatever we, humans, think about Him in our imperfect, weak human mind, He is most definitely NOT "it." We cannot penetrate into the Divine Nature. However, God is also "immanent," meaning accessible, close, intimately related to each and every one of us. In the Person of Christ, the "fullness of Deity" "dwells corporally" (St. Paul). Christ is not "divided" - He is one Person; the two natures, Divine and human, are united in this one Person perfectly, without confusion, without division, inseparably, forever. In other words, Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. As God, He is eternal, without beginning, without change, without passions, and different from us humans. As man, he is exactly like each and every one of us, except sin.
About other questions, I am afraid I am even less of an expert.
Good to have you aboard! I hope and pray you will find everything you need!