we Orthodox can provide answers different from the stereotypes of Orthodox Christianity provided by their Pentecostal pastors.
I have been pondering this post for a couple of days, and it has produced a number of thoughts. Why would Pentecostal pastors give their protégés a distorted picture Orthodoxy?
One possible explanation is that they do it knowingly, deliberately and (one might even say in some cases) cynically, so as to divert their people from inquiring further into Orthodoxy. I cannot assert that this does not happen.
On the other hand, maybe some of them have known Orthodox individuals or churches which have earned the twisted stereotype of your Faith. Let me illustrate. Take us Baptists - American, British, and Russian. I do not doubt that on essentials we are in substantial or full agreement; but in ethos we can vary widely. Orthodox in the southern States who post here give a very different picture of Baptist ethos from what they would be likely to find in most churches in Britain, and I have no reason to doubt the portrayal. Indeed, my Bible Baptist friend from southern California who is over here pastoring a nearby church quite openly says that I would not be acceptable in a lot of churches in the States (though he has me preach at his church here). Further, I have heard it told that in Germany, Russian Baptists (no doubt Auslandsdeutsche
) who have left the Soviet Union since 1991 and settled in Germany cannot settle in German churches and instead set up Russian Baptist churches. This does not even consider the Black churches.
Similarly, there must surely be a wide range of depth, understanding, practice, piety and ethos in various Orthodox churches. Even in Albania, in one town a previous (visiting) bishop cursed us publicly from the Orthodox pulpit, but a later, resident bishop welcomed me with coffee, cognac and friendliness, wished me blessing in (as he put it) "the Lord's vineyard", and gave me a book as a parting gift. Whether of the twain embodied the real Orthodoxy to which I should respond? And should I believe the deeply Christ-centred writings I enjoy from some Russian Orthodox writers, or should I believe the Albanian priest who could go no further than telling me that he hopes
Jesus portrays the character of God?
It is possible - and we are bidden in scripture to hope and believe all things (1 Cor. 13) - that the Pentecostal pastors to whom you refer have only met the less noble forms of Orthodoxy and are sincerely warning their young people off for that reason.