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Author Topic: Protestant Evangelism the Orthodox East  (Read 7859 times) Average Rating: 0
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simmmo
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« on: July 04, 2012, 06:37:56 PM »

I was wondering what the Orthodox think of Protestant evangelism in Orthodox countries such as Russia, Romania, Ukraine and so on. Does this cause tensions in the places where this is happening? How successful are such Protestant missions to the Orthodox East likely to be?

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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2012, 06:45:29 PM »

We already believe in Christ as our Lord, God and Saviour, and we do so in the way the Christians of the first centuries did. We do not need to become Protestants.

Success of Protestant missions in Orthodox countries depends. In Romania, they got the Roma (gypsies) with money. If tomorrow, someone else will pay more, they will go there.

In the former USSR, many people did not have the chance to study Christianity during communist times, so Protestants had some success stealing our people there. But they are already going down, as people learn more about Christianity. They find out that Orthodoxy is the original Christianity and Protestantism only came up in the 16th century. Many Orthodox priests and misisonaries in Ukraine were Protestant, especially Baptist. And more and more serious Protestants return to Orthodoxy, even in Western countries.
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2012, 06:52:37 PM »

It depends on who you ask. I have heard people critize protestant missionaries for taking advantage of the Church's weakened position after the soviet oppression and for spreading lies about orthodox theology. Others seem to welcome them in the hope that the protestants will insoire the Church to be more active in reaching out to the faithful. And if this will not happen then the orthodox will at least be able to better learn the scriptures.

Concerning the reaction of the Church, it is a bit complicated. There are places where the grups live relatively peaceful and then there's the cases where tension, harrasment and even violence can break out as a result of the meeting.  
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2012, 07:51:24 PM »

Thanks for your replies.

I've also heard that in Russia Mormon missionaries are not allowed to proselytise anymore. Any truth to this?
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2012, 08:09:29 PM »

Thanks for your replies.

I've also heard that in Russia Mormon missionaries are not allowed to proselytise anymore. Any truth to this?

Yes that is correct, at this time they are restricted as they are considered a cult.
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2012, 08:20:15 PM »

Thanks for your replies.

I've also heard that in Russia Mormon missionaries are not allowed to proselytise anymore. Any truth to this?
Possibly. The Russian state has seriously restricted the rights of some religious groups.

From this 27-page state department report:

Quote
According to the SOVA Center, on August 18, the Department of Culture and Art
in Nyagan, Khanty-Mansysk published a list of totalitarian sects and required local
institutions to prevent groups on the list from using movie theatres and recreation
centers and refuse to provide facilities for the groups' events. The list included
members of the Russian Associated Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith
(ROSKhVE) and the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith
Pentecostals (RSKhVEP), Messianic Jews, Krishnas, Mormons, Scientologists,
Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Scientists.
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simmmo
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2012, 08:32:37 PM »

Thanks for your replies.

I've also heard that in Russia Mormon missionaries are not allowed to proselytise anymore. Any truth to this?
Possibly. The Russian state has seriously restricted the rights of some religious groups.

From this 27-page state department report:

Quote
According to the SOVA Center, on August 18, the Department of Culture and Art
in Nyagan, Khanty-Mansysk published a list of totalitarian sects and required local
institutions to prevent groups on the list from using movie theatres and recreation
centers and refuse to provide facilities for the groups' events. The list included
members of the Russian Associated Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith
(ROSKhVE) and the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith
Pentecostals (RSKhVEP), Messianic Jews, Krishnas, Mormons, Scientologists,
Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Scientists.


Wow. You know what tho? I actually don't see this necessarily a bad thing. The separation of Church and State is a very recent development. And when this was removed, explicitly in the US and implicitly in Western Europe more recently, all sorts of sects emerged - some of them dangerous and some who were simply wrong but mostly harmless (actually, most sects come out of America).  I realise Americans have very different ideas to others as to the limits of government, but I don't have a problem with the state banning the activities of groups that espouse ideas that are outright false and are actually very derogatory towards established religions such as Orthodoxy. Anyone looking at the state of evangelicalism in the US today and also the history of very radical groups who emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries there would surely want to avoid the same happening in their countries. That's just my opinion anyway.
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« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2012, 08:52:23 PM »

It would be really nice if Russia would ban Protestant missionaries like they did the Mormons.
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« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2012, 09:37:30 PM »

I would rather convert the Protestants to Orthodoxy than ban them. That happens too, let's not forget! The only mission-type trip I ever went on (I didn't personally proselytize anyone there, but it was with the Presbyterian church I grew up in) was to Mexico, and I found their faith much superior to ours. That was probably a major part of why I ended up in the RCC church for a time, in fact. Granted, I ended up Orthodox eventually anyway, but still...Orthodoxy is true and Protestantism is not, so for people who know their faith, Protestant missionaries are better potential converts than potential converters. Wink If you ban them, they'll likely never be exposed to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2012, 09:45:29 PM »

Wow. You know what tho? I actually don't see this necessarily a bad thing. The separation of Church and State is a very recent development. And when this was removed, explicitly in the US and implicitly in Western Europe more recently, all sorts of sects emerged - some of them dangerous and some who were simply wrong but mostly harmless (actually, most sects come out of America).  I realise Americans have very different ideas to others as to the limits of government, but I don't have a problem with the state banning the activities of groups that espouse ideas that are outright false and are actually very derogatory towards established religions such as Orthodoxy. Anyone looking at the state of evangelicalism in the US today and also the history of very radical groups who emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries there would surely want to avoid the same happening in their countries. That's just my opinion anyway.

The thing is, if America and the west in general weren't such a free-for-all, would most of the people on this forum (or converts in general) have become Orthodox? I'm guessing not...
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« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2012, 10:17:31 PM »

The thing is, if America and the west in general weren't such a free-for-all, would most of the people on this forum (or converts in general) have become Orthodox? I'm guessing not...

Point taken. But I don't think you reqire a "free-for-all" US approach to religion for Orthodoxy to flourish. Orthodoxy was probably brought to America through migration. Everyone acknowledges that Eastern Orthodoxy is one of the three main categories within Christianity. We're clearly not talking about a cult here. On the other hand, if you require a "free-for-all" for things like Mormonism and JWs and Scientology to take root. I just don't think there's any problem with setting limits on spiritual expressions. There's a massive difference between the Orthodox faith and Joseph Smith going into the woods and digging up golden plates. It's a question of integrity. It's also a question of caring for our neighbour. Some are simply too gullible and naive and are prone to being deceived. That's a fact. Unfortunately our secularised and consumer-orientated western world sees no problem with the vulnerable being exploited.
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2012, 03:27:14 AM »

I would rather convert the Protestants to Orthodoxy than ban them. That happens too, let's not forget! The only mission-type trip I ever went on (I didn't personally proselytize anyone there, but it was with the Presbyterian church I grew up in) was to Mexico, and I found their faith much superior to ours. That was probably a major part of why I ended up in the RCC church for a time, in fact. Granted, I ended up Orthodox eventually anyway, but still...Orthodoxy is true and Protestantism is not, so for people who know their faith, Protestant missionaries are better potential converts than potential converters. Wink If you ban them, they'll likely never be exposed to Orthodoxy.

Agreed wholeheartedly. I was actually working for a Protestant charity in Romania (I don't like to call it missionary work because it was religiously motivated aid not preaching) when I first encountered Orthodoxy. I know of at least one other who went out a Protestant and ended up Orthodox too. My experience of Protestant missionaries in Romania is that those that are successful tend to be the more way out (some pretty odd Pentecostals in my wife's area for instance) and that it's no exaggeration to say that they bought many/most of their converts. They are popular amongst the gypsies but it would be a lie to suggest that those are the only ones they've snared. More mainstream (and scrupulous) Protestants tend to return home without converts, though I've met the odd Orthodox who was made more active in their faith as a result of run-ins with them.

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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2012, 04:42:29 AM »

There's a massive difference between the Orthodox faith and Joseph Smith going into the woods and digging up golden plates. It's a question of integrity.

What is the difference?
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2012, 04:56:19 AM »

Relatioship with God is the thing. If a lax nominal Orthodox doesn't have a relationship with God it's always good thing if he/she gains it through Protestantism. But the fullness of Christianity can only be found within the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2012, 06:54:48 AM »

Part of me says its a right of theirs to try and preach and convert from Christianity, but the other half says they shouldn't do this as Orthodox are the fullness of Christianity.
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2012, 07:30:00 AM »

Thanks for your replies.

I've also heard that in Russia Mormon missionaries are not allowed to proselytise anymore. Any truth to this?

What I heard from Ukrainian Mormons is that foreign Mormon missionaries do not receive Russian visas anymore, so Mormons use only Russian citizens as missionaries in Russia.
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2012, 07:35:47 AM »

Relatioship with God is the thing. If a lax nominal Orthodox doesn't have a relationship with God it's always good thing if he/she gains it through Protestantism. But the fullness of Christianity can only be found within the Orthodox Church.

I cannot agree with you. I believe that the kind of "personal relationship with God" is based on so many false assumptions that it cannot be considered a good thing, and certainly not better than nominal Orthodoxy.

Anselmian atonement theology is an abomination, especially since it divided the trinity into a wrathful Father, a nice Son and an irrelevant Spirit. Basically, it is a blasphemy against God the Father. I know quite some nominal Orthodox in Eastern Europe, and none of them would ever come up with such an idea. They all perceive the whole trinity as loving.
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2012, 08:22:15 AM »

It would be really nice if Russia would ban Protestant missionaries like they did the Mormons.
So I take it that you don't believe that governments should uphold freedom of religion? Would it still be "really nice" if the USA were to ban Orthodox missionaries?

The best defence against Protestant and Mormon missionaries in Russia (or anywhere else for that matter) is a vibrant Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2012, 10:31:08 AM »

I was a protestant missionary in some Orthodox countries (we were trained to specifically refute Orthodoxy) and we were moderately successful.

The Orthodox treated us kindly, even though they took offense to proseletyzation, as they viewed us as Christian.

We didnt look at it like that as were were trained that Orthodox and RC's were not Christians (no magic prayer = not Christian).

PP
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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2012, 12:04:31 PM »

I cannot agree with you. I believe that the kind of "personal relationship with God" is based on so many false assumptions that it cannot be considered a good thing, and certainly not better than nominal Orthodoxy.

I don't remember any exact sources but IIRC some Fathers have spoken about relationship with God. While I understand that the concept is widely misused by Protestants it does have certain good points.

Quote
Anselmian atonement theology is an abomination, especially since it divided the trinity into a wrathful Father, a nice Son and an irrelevant Spirit. Basically, it is a blasphemy against God the Father. I know quite some nominal Orthodox in Eastern Europe, and none of them would ever come up with such an idea. They all perceive the whole trinity as loving.

I wasn't talking about fine theological theories but more simple things like loving God and taking care of the poor.  Smiley If Protestantism makes people love God and take care of the poor that can't be a bad thing. The Church with all her glories and mysteries doesn't benefit people who doesn't actually attend the services and read her daily prayers.
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« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2012, 12:16:29 PM »

It would be really nice if Russia would ban Protestant missionaries like they did the Mormons.
So I take it that you don't believe that governments should uphold freedom of religion? Would it still be "really nice" if the USA were to ban Orthodox missionaries?

The best defence against Protestant and Mormon missionaries in Russia (or anywhere else for that matter) is a vibrant Orthodox Church.

I'm not taking a side here, per se, but if you believe Orthodoxy is the One True Faith, I don't see why you would look at banning Orthodox missionaries and banning Protestant missionaries the same way. That's like saying that if another country lets your foreign aid workers in, you have to let their terrorists in.

Again, this is not to say I think anyone should be banned, but from an Orthodox perspective, aren't bringing people the True Faith and trying to take them away from the True Faith rather different things?
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« Reply #21 on: July 05, 2012, 01:09:48 PM »

There's a massive difference between the Orthodox faith and Joseph Smith going into the woods and digging up golden plates. It's a question of integrity.

What is the difference?

I'm curious about this too.  There is not really anything more fantastical about golden plates in the ground in a secret language, than that God is three persons but at the same time there's only one God, and one of those persons became a human being, without losing anything of His divinity, and somehow had no ontological change.
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« Reply #22 on: July 05, 2012, 01:32:03 PM »

It would be really nice if Russia would ban Protestant missionaries like they did the Mormons.
So I take it that you don't believe that governments should uphold freedom of religion? Would it still be "really nice" if the USA were to ban Orthodox missionaries?

The best defence against Protestant and Mormon missionaries in Russia (or anywhere else for that matter) is a vibrant Orthodox Church.

I'm not taking a side here, per se, but if you believe Orthodoxy is the One True Faith, I don't see why you would look at banning Orthodox missionaries and banning Protestant missionaries the same way. That's like saying that if another country lets your foreign aid workers in, you have to let their terrorists in.

Again, this is not to say I think anyone should be banned, but from an Orthodox perspective, aren't bringing people the True Faith and trying to take them away from the True Faith rather different things?
Please understand that you and I don't disagree at all, really. Notice my "best defence" statement.

But if we're going to deal with the realities of this world, the likely reality is that the US government does not see Orthodox Christianity as being the True Faith - just as the Russian government does not see Protestantism and its offshoots as the True Faith. It is not I who see the banning of Orthodox missionaries as being the same as banning Protestant missionaries, but, rather, the respective governments that are in a position to enforce such a ban.

Truth be told, I'm in favour of religious freedom, so my position is that such bans should not be in place. If a government can ban one religion, it can ban any religion - including my own.
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« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2012, 01:40:46 PM »

The laity are too often severely neglected in Orthodoxy. Overall ignorance allows missionaries to draw individuals away & ethnic churches in america to whither away & die within a couple of generations.
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« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2012, 02:34:18 PM »

If Protestantism makes people love God and take care of the poor that can't be a bad thing.
Yes, it can. While it has some good aspects, it remains bad overall, because their notion of God and their conception of human relationship with him is so disfigured that it finally causes more harm than good. Many Evangelical Protestants (and I mean the kind that proselytize in Orthodox countries, not the Lutheran Church of Finland*) cause people to be obsessed with fear of hell, proud because of assurance of salvation etc. All this is mentally unhealthy, certainly worse than nominal Orthodoxy and a real practical difference, not just "fine theological theories".

*with the exception of Laestadianism
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« Reply #25 on: July 05, 2012, 03:12:49 PM »

I think it's a good thing. It wakes people up who have been sleeping.
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« Reply #26 on: July 05, 2012, 03:28:32 PM »

I think it's a good thing. It wakes people up who have been sleeping.
I wakes people up to what? I think Gorazd is the only one that gets it. They are, in general, better humans without going through the evangelical mental pathologies (like obsession with God, bible, hell, salvation). But it's not the state's role to intervene here especially not in an overtly partisan way, al;though I think the various states would have the interest to preserve-to some extent- the traditional religion inso far as this is part of the local culture. But individual rights and freedom should be respected too.
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« Reply #27 on: July 05, 2012, 05:27:45 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


Success of Protestant missions in Orthodox countries depends. In Romania, they got the Roma (gypsies) with money. If tomorrow, someone else will pay more, they will go there.


This is how they thrive in Ethiopia currently, essentially a combination of bribery and blackmail.  If Protestants were a bit more sincere in their efforts, I wouldn't be so disillusioned by it, but in all actuality, it seems that a lot of these groups could actually care less about the actual people they convert, more likely just trying to add notches on the rhetorical scoreboard and stick it to the opposition (i.e., we Orthodox). 

Further, a lot of Protestants in Ethiopia use sociopolitical issues to drive wedges in Orthodox communities, using social divisions, family drama, political beef, rivalries, personality feuds, etc etc. to convert folks away from their parishes.  Remember, from time to time ALL of us get frustrated with Orthodox in one way or another, maybe we get in an misunderstanding with a priest or some other parishioners, maybe there are some church politics we disagree with, maybe we have some personal things going on which cloud our judgement under the duress of stress, but in all these instances, sometimes it seems there is a Protestant waiting behind the next bush with open arms pretending these things don't also exist in Protestant churches. 

We need to pray about these matters then, and do what we can to stop the bleeding.  Its not about Protestantizing our Orthodox services, but it is about dealing productively with the actual gripes of Orthodox Christians, be they social, political, or otherwise.  The Church loses Her own only through neglect.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #28 on: July 05, 2012, 06:51:21 PM »

I think ive asked this question here before, but...

Is someone better off hearing the Gospel from a protestant than not hearing it at all?  Is it better to be a protestant than not a Christian at all?

I would say, personally, that protestant is better than nothing.  In a country like Russia, the protestant converts may soon get curious about all the Orthodox churches everywhere. 
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« Reply #29 on: July 05, 2012, 07:07:28 PM »

In the same way that it is better to drink fetid water and eat bark and dry grass than to starve to death by eating and drinking nothing, sure. But nobody would council anyone who had better, healthier options to do so in lieu of eating actual food.
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« Reply #30 on: July 05, 2012, 09:34:27 PM »

I would feel better about Protestant proselytizing if it weren't for the fact that the western nations where Protestantism comes from are so spiritually lost.  I have issues with pastors deserting their own flocks to go after the flocks of others.  They need to save their own sheep first before they steal the sheep of other Churches.
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« Reply #31 on: July 05, 2012, 11:26:45 PM »

I would feel better about Protestant proselytizing if it weren't for the fact that the western nations where Protestantism comes from are so spiritually lost.  I have issues with pastors deserting their own flocks to go after the flocks of others.  They need to save their own sheep first before they steal the sheep of other Churches.

What percentage of their own sheep should be saved before they go after others?
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« Reply #32 on: July 06, 2012, 04:20:42 AM »

There's a massive difference between the Orthodox faith and Joseph Smith going into the woods and digging up golden plates. It's a question of integrity.

What is the difference?

I'm curious about this too.  There is not really anything more fantastical about golden plates in the ground in a secret language, than that God is three persons but at the same time there's only one God, and one of those persons became a human being, without losing anything of His divinity, and somehow had no ontological change.

The massive difference is that there is a Tradition of Orthodoxy going back centuries - to the apostles themselves. And this is universally accepted in Christendom. There is a "cloud of witnesses" to this. The Apostles, Fathers, Saints, Martyrs and so on. Even a secular historian would recognise Orthodoxy as an ancient form of the Christian faith. I wan't talking about the mysteries etc.
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« Reply #33 on: July 06, 2012, 06:45:59 AM »

There's a massive difference between the Orthodox faith and Joseph Smith going into the woods and digging up golden plates. It's a question of integrity.

What is the difference?

I'm curious about this too.  There is not really anything more fantastical about golden plates in the ground in a secret language, than that God is three persons but at the same time there's only one God, and one of those persons became a human being, without losing anything of His divinity, and somehow had no ontological change.

The massive difference is that there is a Tradition of Orthodoxy going back centuries - to the apostles themselves. And this is universally accepted in Christendom. There is a "cloud of witnesses" to this. The Apostles, Fathers, Saints, Martyrs and so on. Even a secular historian would recognise Orthodoxy as an ancient form of the Christian faith. I wan't talking about the mysteries etc.

And why secular countries should care about all that stuff?
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« Reply #34 on: July 06, 2012, 07:11:21 PM »

There's a massive difference between the Orthodox faith and Joseph Smith going into the woods and digging up golden plates. It's a question of integrity.

What is the difference?

I'm curious about this too.  There is not really anything more fantastical about golden plates in the ground in a secret language, than that God is three persons but at the same time there's only one God, and one of those persons became a human being, without losing anything of His divinity, and somehow had no ontological change.

The massive difference is that there is a Tradition of Orthodoxy going back centuries - to the apostles themselves. And this is universally accepted in Christendom. There is a "cloud of witnesses" to this. The Apostles, Fathers, Saints, Martyrs and so on. Even a secular historian would recognise Orthodoxy as an ancient form of the Christian faith. I wan't talking about the mysteries etc.

So Orthodoxy is old, and Mormonism isn't, and that means Mormonism is bad and Orthodoxy is good?  Well Buddhism is older than Orthodoxy, maybe you should join it.
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« Reply #35 on: July 07, 2012, 04:43:58 AM »

they bought many/most of their converts. They are popular amongst the gypsies

You may well be right to some extent, but:

1) It might be better to say "they bought many of their adherents": they are probably not so blind as not to realise they are not true converts.

2) My experience is mainly in Albania, never Romania, and it is true that many gypsies are drawn to western Evangelical and Pentecostal missionaries, and that their motive (as far as can be humanly discerned) is financial, but my conversations with missionaries tells me that this is a grief to the missionaries, who are quite aware that they are sincerely preaching their message, and are attracting 'rice Christians'. Often they worry deeply about what to do to solve the problem - but meanwhile the adherents continue to come, and the missionaries do not turn them away.

3) The most successful, and well respected, admired work among gypsies which I visited in Albania is led by an American Negro. Many east European gypsies have very dark skin, and I think this brother's skin-colour has enabled him to penetrate the barrier of financial aspiration and reach some, perhaps many, of their hearts at a deeper level.

Gypsies and the 'white' population in Albania tend to operate an unofficial apartheid, and it is very difficult to get the two races to integrate, even in church life. The most successful I came across was a large church which had a well-loved and respected older man as one of the elders, who is also a gypsy.

Nonetheless, there may regrettably be some gullible or unscrupulous Evangelical missionaries who 'buy many of their converts'. As it is somewhere written, the Day will reveal it; I cannot say.
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« Reply #36 on: July 07, 2012, 05:07:05 AM »

There's a massive difference between the Orthodox faith and Joseph Smith going into the woods and digging up golden plates. It's a question of integrity.

What is the difference?

I'm curious about this too.  There is not really anything more fantastical about golden plates in the ground in a secret language, than that God is three persons but at the same time there's only one God, and one of those persons became a human being, without losing anything of His divinity, and somehow had no ontological change.

The massive difference is that there is a Tradition of Orthodoxy going back centuries - to the apostles themselves. And this is universally accepted in Christendom. There is a "cloud of witnesses" to this. The Apostles, Fathers, Saints, Martyrs and so on. Even a secular historian would recognise Orthodoxy as an ancient form of the Christian faith. I wan't talking about the mysteries etc.

So Orthodoxy is old, and Mormonism isn't, and that means Mormonism is bad and Orthodoxy is good?  Well Buddhism is older than Orthodoxy, maybe you should join it.

Orthodoxy is the religion of Adam, though your point isn't lost on me.
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« Reply #37 on: July 07, 2012, 09:07:27 AM »

I may be wrong, but I think America is beginning to see a growth in the Orthodox Church, though how much is hard to predict.  Many have become disgruntled at the state of their current churches and set out to find truth, which many times lead them to the Orthodox Church.  As this takes place, I foresee a decline in Protestant denominations and then a rise (as they begin to change and accept sinful acts as normal people will want to join, etc.).  This will then result in many of their (Protestants) mission work failing in the east more so than they already have.  People will see the debauchery and want nothing to do with it…at least I hope.

I say these things to come to this point.  Let them proselytize as much as they want.  Those who seek the Gods truth will not be convinced and those who do not will cling to anything which makes them feel better about their sin.  Of course this does not encompass each protestant and is a generalized prediction, and could be wrong.  The result all depends on the heart of the individual hearing their message.
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« Reply #38 on: July 07, 2012, 11:13:21 AM »

It would be really nice if Russia would ban Protestant missionaries like they did the Mormons.
So I take it that you don't believe that governments should uphold freedom of religion? Would it still be "really nice" if the USA were to ban Orthodox missionaries?

The best defence against Protestant and Mormon missionaries in Russia (or anywhere else for that matter) is a vibrant Orthodox Church.

It's always interesting to hear Orthodox opinions on this topic, which comes up every so often on OCnet.

I find that in the United States, religious people tend to support one another's religious liberty. Just ask any atheist who has tried to get a cross taken down because it's "offensive".

(Incidentally this has probably been mentioned before, but for anyone who hasn't seen it, the video "The All-Male Panel" is pretty good.)
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« Reply #39 on: July 07, 2012, 11:23:06 AM »

they bought many/most of their converts. They are popular amongst the gypsies

You may well be right to some extent, but:

1) It might be better to say "they bought many of their adherents": they are probably not so blind as not to realise they are not true converts.

2) My experience is mainly in Albania, never Romania, and it is true that many gypsies are drawn to western Evangelical and Pentecostal missionaries, and that their motive (as far as can be humanly discerned) is financial, but my conversations with missionaries tells me that this is a grief to the missionaries, who are quite aware that they are sincerely preaching their message, and are attracting 'rice Christians'. Often they worry deeply about what to do to solve the problem - but meanwhile the adherents continue to come, and the missionaries do not turn them away.

3) The most successful, and well respected, admired work among gypsies which I visited in Albania is led by an American Negro. Many east European gypsies have very dark skin, and I think this brother's skin-colour has enabled him to penetrate the barrier of financial aspiration and reach some, perhaps many, of their hearts at a deeper level.

Gypsies and the 'white' population in Albania tend to operate an unofficial apartheid, and it is very difficult to get the two races to integrate, even in church life. The most successful I came across was a large church which had a well-loved and respected older man as one of the elders, who is also a gypsy.

Nonetheless, there may regrettably be some gullible or unscrupulous Evangelical missionaries who 'buy many of their converts'. As it is somewhere written, the Day will reveal it; I cannot say.

Oddly enough I was thinking "rice Christians" even before I got to the part where you said it -- it's odd b/c I only know that term because of the movie "Keys of the Kingdom" which I haven't seen in a great many years.
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« Reply #40 on: July 07, 2012, 11:37:13 AM »

Some of the problem is based on Protestant ignorance of Orthodoxy and the history of Christianity.

There was a story going around about Protestant Missionaries who went to Iraq after it became possible. They drove into a village and found out that the people there were already Christians. Surprised, the missionaries asked who had converted the village.

After a moment or two, they replied "It was St. Paul" 
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« Reply #41 on: July 07, 2012, 12:23:01 PM »

Some of the problem is based on Protestant ignorance of Orthodoxy and the history of Christianity.

There was a story going around about Protestant Missionaries who went to Iraq after it became possible. They drove into a village and found out that the people there were already Christians. Surprised, the missionaries asked who had converted the village.

After a moment or two, they replied "It was St. Paul" 

Brilliant  Cheesy
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« Reply #42 on: July 07, 2012, 05:33:49 PM »

I think it's a good thing. It wakes people up who have been sleeping.
I wakes people up to what? I think Gorazd is the only one that gets it. They are, in general, better humans without going through the evangelical mental pathologies (like obsession with God, bible, hell, salvation). But it's not the state's role to intervene here especially not in an overtly partisan way, al;though I think the various states would have the interest to preserve-to some extent- the traditional religion inso far as this is part of the local culture. But individual rights and freedom should be respected too.

Agree 100% with your depiction of evangelical mental pathologies.

However, people have to realise that what constitutes government and their limits differs from time to time and from place to place. The primacy of the individual is only a very recent (and secular) development. Of course there have been benefits of the Western notion of individual freedom. But there are some very big drawbacks. Western society is fragmented, the family (and I'm talking not only about the immediate family, but also extended family) is disintegrating. Self, mammon and sex are the gods of Western world. This is the unfortunate consequence of the Enlightenment and, even, the Reformation - which took Christianity and made it a personal response, rather than seeing Christianity as a religion of the community. See Brad Gregory's new book on the unintended consequences of the Reformation.
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« Reply #43 on: July 07, 2012, 05:54:31 PM »

There's a massive difference between the Orthodox faith and Joseph Smith going into the woods and digging up golden plates. It's a question of integrity.

What is the difference?

I'm curious about this too.  There is not really anything more fantastical about golden plates in the ground in a secret language, than that God is three persons but at the same time there's only one God, and one of those persons became a human being, without losing anything of His divinity, and somehow had no ontological change.

The massive difference is that there is a Tradition of Orthodoxy going back centuries - to the apostles themselves. And this is universally accepted in Christendom. There is a "cloud of witnesses" to this. The Apostles, Fathers, Saints, Martyrs and so on. Even a secular historian would recognise Orthodoxy as an ancient form of the Christian faith. I wan't talking about the mysteries etc.

So Orthodoxy is old, and Mormonism isn't, and that means Mormonism is bad and Orthodoxy is good?  Well Buddhism is older than Orthodoxy, maybe you should join it.

Absolutely not my point. I think what is fueling this misunderstanding is that Americans (and Westerners more generally) can not conceive of governments approving certain religions and banning others. This is because we live in a culture that is dominated by "individual choice" and so on. Choice is often equated with freedom in our culture. I don't think that this is necessarily right. It's certainly not a Christian understanding of what freedom is.

But going back to the original talking point. To be frank, the point is that there is a massive difference in credibility. Yes, age does comes into it (and anyone who thinks that a religion popping up in the 19th century has any credibility can only appeal to the ideals of secularism and individualism to make this claim). Buddhism and Orthodoxy are old. They are time-honored religions and part and parcel of many communities and have been for centuries. But they are also not little sects which have very dubious beginnings. Russia is probably the only country with substantial populations of both Orthodox and Buddhists. The church does not have a problem with the Buddhists. They have been in Russia for years and are a part of the fabric of society. Mormons have not been, and I can see why the State AND the Church would be concerned about this - particularly taking advantage of vulnerable people in society. I am not trying to disparage the LDS, I am personal friends with some and they are very good people. And, in your culture and mine, it is hard to imagine how you could ban certain religions. All I'm trying to say is that for other people, this is totally appropriate and I can see where they are coming from.
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« Reply #44 on: July 08, 2012, 05:42:08 AM »

I think I've relayed this story once here before, but I'll do it again.  A Greek friend of mine from Salonica returned home for a few days to visit family.   There he ran into some Evangelical (I don't know if we're making too much of a distinction between Evangelical and Protestant; I don't see too much of a difference, but I digress) missionaries.  After a long question and answer period, the Americans eventually conceded that the reason they were in Greece (and I imagine this rationale extends to countries in the former Soviet bloc) was not to convert them to Protestantism but to make the people into Americans.  During the debate, the Evangelical missionaries frequently brought up things like "freedom of religion,"  opposition to abortion, individualism, capitalism, in short, trademarks of American civil religion that has infiltrated into modern American Evangelicalism.

If missionaries of any type were interested in spreading the message of Christianity, they would be better served by spreading it to places where Chrisitanity has never flourished or where it has been repressed.  Of course, these people would never venture to Saudi Arabia or Iran or Pakistan where such efforts could meet with death. It's easier, of course, to go to Europe and see the sights while "spreading the good news."

While we Orthodox complain that the Protestants are "sheep-stealing" we must acknowledge that the churches in these countries have the duty to bring people back to the faith.  Of course, the horrors of communism cannot be undone so quickly.
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« Reply #45 on: July 08, 2012, 08:03:30 AM »

(I don't know if we're making too much of a distinction between Evangelical and Protestant; I don't see too much of a difference, but I digress)

Evangelicals are subset of protestants.
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« Reply #46 on: July 08, 2012, 11:13:10 AM »

^I'm aware of that, but some people do make distinctions between the actions of the mainline Protestants (e.g. Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians) and those of Evangelicals.  I didn't know if the OP was talking more of the actions of Protestants (as I defined above) in traditionally Orthodox countries or those of evangelicals.  Their approaches are often quite different.
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« Reply #47 on: July 09, 2012, 02:46:40 PM »

If missionaries of any type were interested in spreading the message of Christianity, they would be better served by spreading it to places where Chrisitanity has never flourished or where it has been repressed.  Of course, these people would never venture to Saudi Arabia or Iran or Pakistan where such efforts could meet with death. It's easier, of course, to go to Europe and see the sights while "spreading the good news."


Yes, it's always puzzled me that so much time, effort, energy and money is devoted to "evangelizing" countries that have been Christian for centuries.
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« Reply #48 on: July 09, 2012, 02:47:53 PM »

If missionaries of any type were interested in spreading the message of Christianity, they would be better served by spreading it to places where Chrisitanity has never flourished or where it has been repressed.  Of course, these people would never venture to Saudi Arabia or Iran or Pakistan where such efforts could meet with death. It's easier, of course, to go to Europe and see the sights while "spreading the good news."


Yes, it's always puzzled me that so much time, effort, energy and money is devoted to "evangelizing" countries that have been Christian for centuries.
Because they dont view Orthodox or RC's as Christians. So to them, its no different than if all those folks were Hindu or Muslim.

So they dont see it as proseletyzation.

PP
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« Reply #49 on: July 09, 2012, 03:18:35 PM »

Because they dont view Orthodox or RC's as Christians. So to them, its no different than if all those folks were Hindu or Muslim.

So they dont see it as proseletyzation.

PP

That's true. Some Baptist friends of mine going on a mission trip to Romania were were shocked when I told them that Romania had been Christian for centuries. But of course, the Romanians weren't Baptists and that was the difference.
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« Reply #50 on: July 09, 2012, 05:56:44 PM »

Yes, it's always puzzled me that so much time, effort, energy and money is devoted to "evangelizing" countries that have been Christian for centuries.

So I take it that I'm fine as a Catholic, and there's no need to "convert" to Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #51 on: July 10, 2012, 03:30:52 AM »

Because they dont view Orthodox or RC's as Christians. So to them, its no different than if all those folks were Hindu or Muslim.

So they dont see it as proseletyzation.

PP

That's true. Some Baptist friends of mine going on a mission trip to Romania were were shocked when I told them that Romania had been Christian for centuries. But of course, the Romanians weren't Baptists and that was the difference.

I actually met an American Baptist missionary on a plane to Romania (or possibly from, can't quite remember) wearing a T-shirt saying something like 'Preaching the Gospel where it's never been heard' above a picture of an Orthodox Church! I tried to point out the irony to him (and I was still Protestant at the time) but he was having none of it. It's no wonder that these types of missionaries generally rub Romanians up the wrong way and have little or no success.

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« Reply #52 on: July 10, 2012, 09:54:12 AM »

Because they dont view Orthodox or RC's as Christians. So to them, its no different than if all those folks were Hindu or Muslim.

So they dont see it as proseletyzation.

PP

That's true. Some Baptist friends of mine going on a mission trip to Romania were were shocked when I told them that Romania had been Christian for centuries. But of course, the Romanians weren't Baptists and that was the difference.

I actually met an American Baptist missionary on a plane to Romania (or possibly from, can't quite remember) wearing a T-shirt saying something like 'Preaching the Gospel where it's never been heard' above a picture of an Orthodox Church! I tried to point out the irony to him (and I was still Protestant at the time) but he was having none of it. It's no wonder that these types of missionaries generally rub Romanians up the wrong way and have little or no success.

James

That reminds me of something I heard years ago: when the Joint Declaration on Justification was signed, one church body (don't know which one, surely an Evangelical or Fundamentalist group) announced that Rome and the Lutheran World Federation had agreed to abandon the Gospel.
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« Reply #53 on: July 10, 2012, 10:07:22 AM »

Yes, it's always puzzled me that so much time, effort, energy and money is devoted to "evangelizing" countries that have been Christian for centuries.

So I take it that I'm fine as a Catholic, and there's no need to "convert" to Orthodoxy?

Surely it hasn't escaped your notice that we Orthodox don't proselytize? Or even evangelize, come to that. You are welcome to pursue whatever heresies and errors you wish. However, I for one am willing to welcome you home to the One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church whenever you are ready. And I will never bring up the past again!
 Grin
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« Reply #54 on: July 10, 2012, 10:23:31 AM »

Surely it hasn't escaped your notice that we Orthodox don't proselytize? Or even evangelize, come to that.

Well, I did wonder.

:emoticon:
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« Reply #55 on: July 10, 2012, 01:57:15 PM »

Surely it hasn't escaped your notice that we Orthodox don't proselytize? Or even evangelize, come to that.

What do you call what the Byzantines and the Copts are doing in sub-Saharan Africa and South America, then? Smiley
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« Reply #56 on: July 10, 2012, 09:39:00 PM »

This is a really good book about a priest who worked in Zaire. It's one of the things that gave me the idea to look into the Church.
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« Reply #57 on: July 11, 2012, 12:37:47 AM »

Surely it hasn't escaped your notice that we Orthodox don't proselytize? Or even evangelize, come to that.

What do you call what the Byzantines and the Copts are doing in sub-Saharan Africa and South America, then? Smiley

A working vacation.
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« Reply #58 on: July 16, 2012, 06:54:31 PM »

This clip from youtube was made known to me on another blog post here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo5lK9qLK7w

It's shows an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists at a roadside literature stand during a procession. He overturns their tables and books. You can see from the comments that the Adventists are viewing this as persecution from the Orthodox. I wonder what the Orthodox make of this. Please comment.
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« Reply #59 on: July 16, 2012, 07:12:23 PM »

This clip from youtube was made known to me on another blog post here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo5lK9qLK7w

It's shows an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists at a roadside literature stand during a procession. He overturns their tables and books. You can see from the comments that the Adventists are viewing this as persecution from the Orthodox. I wonder what the Orthodox make of this. Please comment.

Terrible Sad
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« Reply #60 on: July 16, 2012, 07:17:10 PM »

I have a feeling there is a lot more to this than a few minutes of video.
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« Reply #61 on: July 16, 2012, 07:19:07 PM »

I have a feeling there is a lot more to this than a few minutes of video.

Probably, and being from a different culture probably is important in how I react as well. Nonetheless, throwing the buckets and water and such... . .?
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« Reply #62 on: July 16, 2012, 07:19:53 PM »

I have a feeling there is a lot more to this than a few minutes of video.

Good comment. I think you're right.
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« Reply #63 on: July 16, 2012, 07:36:06 PM »

I have a feeling there is a lot more to this than a few minutes of video.

Probably, and being from a different culture probably is important in how I react as well. Nonetheless, throwing the buckets and water and such... . .?

Christ wasn't so pleasant when he overturned the moneychangers tables in the Temple and so on. It doesn't say that he threw water on people, but I'm sure those whom he disrupted were pretty humiliated. Not saying this is a direct parallel... Perhaps this was a poorer moment for the Priests. Of course we have to be more careful in this day and age because of how this appears to others. But this certainly would not constitute any significant "persecution" in my opinion.

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« Reply #64 on: July 16, 2012, 09:27:06 PM »

This clip from youtube was made known to me on another blog post here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo5lK9qLK7w

It's shows an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists at a roadside literature stand during a procession. He overturns their tables and books. You can see from the comments that the Adventists are viewing this as persecution from the Orthodox. I wonder what the Orthodox make of this. Please comment.

Hmm ... I'm no fan of Seven Day Adventists by any stretch of the imagination ... But I have to wonder if perhaps next time it will be the Methodists' stand, then maybe the time after that it will be the Latin Catholics (then the Eastern Catholics because they're "not really Eastern" :rolleyes:).
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« Reply #65 on: July 16, 2012, 09:38:02 PM »

This clip from youtube was made known to me on another blog post here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo5lK9qLK7w

It's shows an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists at a roadside literature stand during a procession. He overturns their tables and books. You can see from the comments that the Adventists are viewing this as persecution from the Orthodox. I wonder what the Orthodox make of this. Please comment.

Hmm ... I'm no fan of Seven Day Adventists by any stretch of the imagination ... But I have to wonder if perhaps next time it will be the Methodists' stand, then maybe the time after that it will be the Latin Catholics (then the Eastern Catholics because they're "not really Eastern" :rolleyes:).

I learned years ago the best reaction to someone’s missionary work with whom you do not agree is to allow them to complete their work under the condition you have the same opportunity.  Many years ago in the middle of winter with sleet and snow falling, I had a knock at the front door from two young Jehovah Witnesses.  To their surprise, I invited them inside to warm up and gave them something to drink.  I agreed to listen to everything they had to say as long as they listened to all I had to say.  After two hours, they left happy and warm with a lot of new information to think over.  Doesn’t always work, but sometimes it works out really well.
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« Reply #66 on: July 17, 2012, 03:46:31 AM »

an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists

I am not sure what this post has to do with the theme of the thread. I thought (wrongly?) that Adventists were regarded as heretics, not one of the creedal Christian churches at all.

I recall a probably true anecdote in which A said to B something like, "I disagree with everything you say, but I would die for your right to say it." But no doubt the priest felt that overturning their tables was a truly dominical act undertaken in the spirit (or Spirit) of Christ.
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« Reply #67 on: July 17, 2012, 07:03:37 AM »

Quote
I am not sure what this post has to do with the theme of the thread. I thought (wrongly?) that Adventists were regarded as heretics, not one of the creedal Christian churches at all
I know they hold to some heretical beliefs (soul sleep, spirit destruction) but I think they are "creedal" in the broad sense of the term.

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« Reply #68 on: July 17, 2012, 09:34:33 AM »

I think they are "creedal" in the broad sense of the term.

I was thinking of Nicæa and Chalcydon.
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« Reply #69 on: July 17, 2012, 09:42:36 AM »

I think they are "creedal" in the broad sense of the term.

I was thinking of Nicæa and Chalcydon.
Then yes, I believe they are. However the water gets murky when dealing with Penecostal Holiness folks...especially of the "oneness" stripe.

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« Reply #70 on: July 17, 2012, 09:51:46 AM »

Pentecostal Holiness folks...especially of the "oneness" stripe.

I embrace neither Pentecostal nor "Holiness" (i.e. Wesleyan) doctrine, but I see nothing in their creeds which gainsays Nicæa or Chalcydon. The odd thing about the "oneness" stripe is that one of their members had be hauled in to interpret for me when I was preaching in Sicily, and I have since followed her posts on Facebook, and they seem remarkably Christ-centred and truly devotional. It leaves me puzzled.

(You ask, How did I get on among believers in Sicily if I don't speak Italian? Well, conversation was in Albanian, but services in Italian - a tongue of which I have almost no knowledge beyond learning the importance of the fact that cornetto = croissant (not ice-cream).)
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« Reply #71 on: July 17, 2012, 11:51:08 AM »

Pentecostal Holiness folks...especially of the "oneness" stripe.

I embrace neither Pentecostal nor "Holiness" (i.e. Wesleyan) doctrine, but I see nothing in their creeds which gainsays Nicæa or Chalcydon. The odd thing about the "oneness" stripe is that one of their members had be hauled in to interpret for me when I was preaching in Sicily, and I have since followed her posts on Facebook, and they seem remarkably Christ-centred and truly devotional. It leaves me puzzled.

(You ask, How did I get on among believers in Sicily if I don't speak Italian? Well, conversation was in Albanian, but services in Italian - a tongue of which I have almost no knowledge beyond learning the importance of the fact that cornetto = croissant (not ice-cream).)

Regarding the Oneness Pentecostals, should it really be so puzzling that heretics can be Christ-centered and devotional? Just from a historical perspective, heresies usually were not charged on grounds of their devotion or the place Christ holds in their lives, but on the grounds of the place Christ, the Father, or the Holy Spirit hold in their teaching. Oneness Pentecostals don't hold to Arianism, which would place Christ as a created being, nor to a gnosticism that would accuse the Creator God of being evil, nor are they Pneumatomachians rejecting the divinity of the Holy Spirit. They are modalists, they are quite specific in their rejection of the Trinity; they cannot fathom Three Persons in One God and so charge Trinitarian Christianity with polytheism. For the Oneness Pentecostal, God has revealed himself in "manifestations" as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but at no time has there ever been distinct Persons. For the Oneness Pentecostal, the Word was not begotten of the Father before all ages, a distinct Person in the Unity of the Godhead, but was rather One Person and was only One Person-God during the Incarnation- the only thing that makes Jesus the Son of God is his human nature. Likewise, the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father, but rather IS the Father

For them there is no problem with Jesus Christ being the God-Man, fully God and fully Man, and worthy of worship, honor, and glory. The only problem is with the Triune God.
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« Reply #72 on: July 17, 2012, 01:12:20 PM »

Regarding the Oneness Pentecostals, should it really be so puzzling that heretics can be Christ-centered and devotional?

Thank you. You clearly know a good deal more about heresy and heretics than I do. (Some of you think I am one!) What puzzles me might be explained like this. It took the Church some three hundred years of theological reflection, debate and refinement on the part of its finest thinkers to arrive at the definitions of Nicæa and Chalcydon. Following the universal acceptance of those creeds, folk who disagreed were properly deemed heretical. But what about people during the previous three centuries? Their views were current among the believers before a clear definition had been hammered out, and were surely less culpable than later generations if they felt a devotion to Christ coupled with what was later realised to be a mistaken concept of his person or nature(s). Would such a person be saved before 325 AD, but damned after that date? The question is rhetorical, for it involves a reductio ad absurdum: but it remains a puzzle which I cannot yet 'get my head round'.
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« Reply #73 on: July 17, 2012, 01:25:57 PM »

Regarding the Oneness Pentecostals, should it really be so puzzling that heretics can be Christ-centered and devotional?

Thank you. You clearly know a good deal more about heresy and heretics than I do. (Some of you think I am one!) What puzzles me might be explained like this. It took the Church some three hundred years of theological reflection, debate and refinement on the part of its finest thinkers to arrive at the definitions of Nicæa and Chalcydon. Following the universal acceptance of those creeds, folk who disagreed were properly deemed heretical. But what about people during the previous three centuries? Their views were current among the believers before a clear definition had been hammered out, and were surely less culpable than later generations if they felt a devotion to Christ coupled with what was later realised to be a mistaken concept of his person or nature(s). Would such a person be saved before 325 AD, but damned after that date? The question is rhetorical, for it involves a reductio ad absurdum: but it remains a puzzle which I cannot yet 'get my head round'.

I know you said the question was rhetorical, but fwiw St. Photius talked about this problem when discussing the filioque...

Quote
Read through Ambrose or Augustine or whatever Father you may choose: which of them wished to affirm anything contrary to the Master's word? If it is I, then I insult your Fathers. But if you say it whilst I deny it, then you insult them, and I condemn you of insolence towards the Fathers. But, you retort, they have written so, and the words the Spirit proceeds from the Son are to be found in their writings. What of it? If those fathers, having been instructed, did not alter or change their opinion, if after just rebukes they were not persuaded — again, this is another slander against your Fathers — then you who teach your word [Filioque] as a dogma introduce your own stubbornness of opinion into the teachings of those men. Although in other things they are the equals of the best [Fathers], what does this have to do with you? If they slipped and fell into error, therefore, by some negligence or oversight — for such is the human condition — when they were corrected, they neither contradicted nor were they obstinately disobedient. For they were not, even in the slightest degree, participants in those things in which you abound. Though they were admirable by reason of many other qualities that manifest virtue and piety, they professed your teaching either through ignorance or negligence. But if they in no way shared the benefit of your advantages [of being corrected], why do your introduce their human fault as a mandate for your blasphemous belief?

. . . But I do not admit that what you assert was so plainly taught by those blessed men. Even so, if any among them has fallen into something unseemly — for they were all men and human, and no one composed of dust and ephemeral nature can avoid some trace of defilement — I would then imitate the sons of Noah and cover my father's shame with silence and gratitude instead of a garment. I would not have followed Ham as you do. Indeed, you follow him with even more shamelessness and impudence than he himself, because you publish abroad the shame of those whom you call your Fathers. Ham is cursed, not because he uncovered his father, but because he failed to cover him. You, however, both uncover your Fathers and brag about your audacity. Ham exposes the secret to his brothers; you tell yours not to one or two brothers, but in your rash and reckless abandon, proclaim the shame of your Fathers to the whole world, as if it were your theatre. You behave lewdly towards the shame of their nakedness and seek other revellers with whom to make more conspicuous festival, rejoicing when you expose their nakedness to the light!

. . . Admittedly, those things were said (by Augustine and Jerome). But perhaps they spoke out of necessity in attacking [pagan] Greek madness, or whilst refuting heresy, or through some condescension to the weakness of their listeners, or due to the necessity of any one of the many things presented by daily life. If, by chance, such a statement escaped their lips because of one or more of the above reasons, then why do you still dismiss their testimony, and take as a necessary dogma what they did not mean as a dogma? Do you not realise that you bring irreparable destruction upon yourselves by enlisting those men in your rebellious contention?

. . . It is possible to find many other examples in our holy and blessed fathers. I have in mind Clement, one of the bishops of [Old] Rome. Consider the books which are known from him as Clementine (I do not say write because, according to ancient report, Peter the Coryphaeus commanded they be written). Consider also Dionysius of Alexandria, who in stretching out his hand against Sabellius nearly joins with Arius. Consider also the splendour of the sacred-martyr, Methodius the Great of Patara, who did not reject the idea that angels fell into mortal desire and bodily intercourse, even though they are incorporeal and without passions. I shall pass over Pantaenos, Clement, Pierios, Pamphilos and Theognostos, all holy men and teachers of holy disciples whom we hymn with great honour and affection, especially Pamphilos and Pierios, distinguished by the trials of martyrdom. Although we do not accept all of their statements, we grant them honour for their patient disposition and goodness of life and for their other doctrines. In addition to those previously mentioned, there is Irenaeus, the bishop of God, who received the supervision of sacred things in Lyons and also Hippolytus, his disciple, the Episcopal martyr: all of these were admirable in many ways, though at times some of their writings do not avoid departing from orthodoxy.

Consequently, you should produce this double dilemma and strive against all of these men and, with raised brows, say: Either these men should be honoured and their writings not rejected, or, if we reject some of their words, we should simultaneously reject the men themselves. But will not these more-than-righteous, expert men more fairly turn your facile argument back upon you, saying, Why, O man, do you enjoin what is not enjoined? If you really call us Fathers, why do you not fear to take up arms against the Fathers and, what is even more prideful, against our common Master, the Creator of all? But once you decided to behave insultingly towards us by being zealous for your doctrine, are you not evidently insane when you simultaneously stretch patricidal hands towards us? How many ways your sophisms can be turned against you! But just as we passed by the Fathers previously named, let us pass by discussion of these points for now.

Who does not know about Basil the Great, who (whilst preserving the royal garment of pure godliness in the secret chamber of his soul) was silent about the deity of the Spirit? A soul burning with divine love, but not flaring into an open flame lest it be extinguished by that very progress and open splendour! This man ordered his words with judgement and guided the godly with small, gradual increases (for when it has been gently introduced into men's souls, the mighty flame of faith arises more strongly; for the hasty assault of light frequently blinds the spiritual eyes of men as when strong light overshadows the eyes of those who have weak vision). For this reason, he is silent, inflaming them before he proclaims it. He passed over it in silence so that a more seasonable time would come to eloquently proclaim the secret. If one wished to name all the men and their reasons for often not revealing the blossom of truth, one would have to compose a huge book! Their ultimate concern was how this blossom might bloom more beautifully and how its fruit might multiply so that an abundant harvest could be gathered. But we admire those men who had unspeakable inspiration which surpasses reason and for their judiciousness of wisdom. Now if any of you would introduce laws and dogmas into the Church which are hateful to the Holy Fathers, we would consider him an enemy of the truth and a destroyer of piety. Since he becomes guilty by himself, we would condemn him with the judgements he himself provides.


-- St. Photius, Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit, 68-77
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« Reply #74 on: July 17, 2012, 01:33:25 PM »

Regarding the Oneness Pentecostals, should it really be so puzzling that heretics can be Christ-centered and devotional?

Thank you. You clearly know a good deal more about heresy and heretics than I do. (Some of you think I am one!) What puzzles me might be explained like this. It took the Church some three hundred years of theological reflection, debate and refinement on the part of its finest thinkers to arrive at the definitions of Nicæa and Chalcydon. Following the universal acceptance of those creeds, folk who disagreed were properly deemed heretical. But what about people during the previous three centuries? Their views were current among the believers before a clear definition had been hammered out, and were surely less culpable than later generations if they felt a devotion to Christ coupled with what was later realised to be a mistaken concept of his person or nature(s). Would such a person be saved before 325 AD, but damned after that date? The question is rhetorical, for it involves a reductio ad absurdum: but it remains a puzzle which I cannot yet 'get my head round'.
David, how many Orthodox Christians do you think can clearly define Christ in terms of His Natures and Person? Can the average Baptist do that? So often just when I think I've got it figured out, I find I have to rethink the whole thing. If my present and final salvation depends on my being able to state this definition, I'm hopelessly doomed. However, I keep striving for the truth (or do I mean the Truth?). I think that's what keeps me from being labelled as a heretic.

Are you a heretic? I'll answer that when I get to be a bishop  Grin.
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« Reply #75 on: July 17, 2012, 01:46:39 PM »

how many Orthodox Christians do you think can clearly define Christ in terms of His Natures and Person? Can the average Baptist do that?

We Baptists certainly can't, though we believe firmly in the Trinity and we hear the doctrine preached. In one sense, none of us Baptists understands the Trinity, that is, the deity; what I (and I think you also) mean is, do many even understand the trinitarian dogmas or formulas? I am sure the answer is still No.

So it seems to me that the distinction is a very fine (or 'nice') one between my fellow-worshippers on a Sunday today, the ordinary man in the non-pew before Nicæa, and my interpreter in Sicily. Nearly all have a hazy if not downright mistaken view of God's triune nature.
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« Reply #76 on: July 17, 2012, 03:02:19 PM »

Regarding the Oneness Pentecostals, should it really be so puzzling that heretics can be Christ-centered and devotional?

Thank you. You clearly know a good deal more about heresy and heretics than I do.
It comes from being taught the Landmark theory of Baptist succession as a child. When you start studying all those paragons of good ole Southern Baptist thought from the first millennium you are in for some real eye openers!  laugh

Quote
(Some of you think I am one!)
I personally try not to be too free with that term. There are certain boundary lines, though- most of us would not seek to include a Jehovah's Witness's Arianism as being under the Christian umbrella (indeed, I remember a post of mine where I referenced JW's and Mormons as being children of the Reformation which had you scandalized). Likewise I cannot consider modalism to be anything other than a grave error. 
Quote
What puzzles me might be explained like this. It took the Church some three hundred years of theological reflection, debate and refinement on the part of its finest thinkers to arrive at the definitions of Nicæa and Chalcydon. Following the universal acceptance of those creeds, folk who disagreed were properly deemed heretical. But what about people during the previous three centuries? Their views were current among the believers before a clear definition had been hammered out, and were surely less culpable than later generations if they felt a devotion to Christ coupled with what was later realised to be a mistaken concept of his person or nature(s). Would such a person be saved before 325 AD, but damned after that date? The question is rhetorical, for it involves a reductio ad absurdum: but it remains a puzzle which I cannot yet 'get my head round'.

I think Asteriktos' quotation of St Photius answers your rhetorical question quite well.

how many Orthodox Christians do you think can clearly define Christ in terms of His Natures and Person? Can the average Baptist do that?

We Baptists certainly can't, though we believe firmly in the Trinity and we hear the doctrine preached. In one sense, none of us Baptists understands the Trinity, that is, the deity; what I (and I think you also) mean is, do many even understand the trinitarian dogmas or formulas? I am sure the answer is still No.

So it seems to me that the distinction is a very fine (or 'nice') one between my fellow-worshippers on a Sunday today, the ordinary man in the non-pew before Nicæa, and my interpreter in Sicily. Nearly all have a hazy if not downright mistaken view of God's triune nature.


The difference between the Orthodox, Baptist, and pre Nicene Christian and the Oneness Pentecostal is that while the former group cannot hope to ever truly comprehend or understand the Trinitarian dogmas (any more than any of us could ever hope to comprehend what was really going on with the Incarnation), and a good many of us cannot even grasp the basics, what we do not do (I would hope) is promote our misunderstandings as the Gospel truth. Heresies mainly become heresies after an opinion or thought-exercise is proclaimed as dogma (or at the very least taught to such a degree that it creates controversy) over and above the revelations from the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures and the Church. In the case of the Oneness Pentecostals, a view of the nature of God that is contrary to both Nicene Christianity and Scriptural revelation in general is taught as the absolute truth. The average Christian of any denomination might not have more than a vague and possibly mistaken idea of the Trinity, the average Oneness Pentecostal believes as a matter of fact that any belief in the Trinity as such is wrong. The latter is not merely a "mistaken" view of God's Triune nature, it is a complete denial of it.
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« Reply #77 on: July 17, 2012, 03:08:08 PM »

...promote our misunderstandings as the Gospel truth. Heresies mainly become heresies after an opinion or thought-exercise is proclaimed as dogma (or at the very least taught to such a degree that it creates controversy) over and above the revelations from the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures and the Church.

Excellent! Well said, sir.
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« Reply #78 on: July 17, 2012, 04:03:12 PM »

Heresies mainly become heresies after an opinion or thought-exercise is proclaimed as dogma (or at the very least taught to such a degree that it creates controversy) over and above the revelations from the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures and the Church.

Very perceptively and succinctly put. Thank you.
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« Reply #79 on: July 17, 2012, 05:17:19 PM »

an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists

I am not sure what this post has to do with the theme of the thread. I thought (wrongly?) that Adventists were regarded as heretics, not one of the creedal Christian churches at all.

I recall a probably true anecdote in which A said to B something like, "I disagree with everything you say, but I would die for your right to say it." But no doubt the priest felt that overturning their tables was a truly dominical act undertaken in the spirit (or Spirit) of Christ.

David, I am currently in the SDA church. Whilst we don't like to think of our Trinitarian belief as Nicene, or our Christology as Chalcedonian, in reality they are. And, as you mention below, Baptists aren't explicitly creedal in this narrow sense either.

I should mention, however, that SDAs participate in the World Council of Churches. The explicitly heretical groups like the JWs and Mormons don't.

SDAs are at the very edge of (small "o") orthodoxy. I should also mention that, in their general attitudes to the early creeds, they are not much different from other radical Protestant groups in America like the Southern Baptists etc. I think Harold Bloom wrote a book on American Religion which showed that sects like Mormons, Pentecostals, Southern Baptists, JWs, SDAs are really part of the same fabric. Many similarities to Gnosticism etc.
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« Reply #80 on: July 17, 2012, 06:02:49 PM »

an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists

I am not sure what this post has to do with the theme of the thread. I thought (wrongly?) that Adventists were regarded as heretics, not one of the creedal Christian churches at all.

I recall a probably true anecdote in which A said to B something like, "I disagree with everything you say, but I would die for your right to say it." But no doubt the priest felt that overturning their tables was a truly dominical act undertaken in the spirit (or Spirit) of Christ.

David, I am currently in the SDA church. Whilst we don't like to think of our Trinitarian belief as Nicene, or our Christology as Chalcedonian, in reality they are. And, as you mention below, Baptists aren't explicitly creedal in this narrow sense either.

I should mention, however, that SDAs participate in the World Council of Churches. The explicitly heretical groups like the JWs and Mormons don't.

SDAs are at the very edge of (small "o") orthodoxy. I should also mention that, in their general attitudes to the early creeds, they are not much different from other radical Protestant groups in America like the Southern Baptists etc. I think Harold Bloom wrote a book on American Religion which showed that sects like Mormons, Pentecostals, Southern Baptists, JWs, SDAs are really part of the same fabric. Many similarities to Gnosticism etc.

!
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« Reply #81 on: July 17, 2012, 06:42:54 PM »

an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists

I am not sure what this post has to do with the theme of the thread. I thought (wrongly?) that Adventists were regarded as heretics, not one of the creedal Christian churches at all.

I recall a probably true anecdote in which A said to B something like, "I disagree with everything you say, but I would die for your right to say it." But no doubt the priest felt that overturning their tables was a truly dominical act undertaken in the spirit (or Spirit) of Christ.

David, I am currently in the SDA church. Whilst we don't like to think of our Trinitarian belief as Nicene, or our Christology as Chalcedonian, in reality they are. And, as you mention below, Baptists aren't explicitly creedal in this narrow sense either.

I should mention, however, that SDAs participate in the World Council of Churches. The explicitly heretical groups like the JWs and Mormons don't.

SDAs are at the very edge of (small "o") orthodoxy. I should also mention that, in their general attitudes to the early creeds, they are not much different from other radical Protestant groups in America like the Southern Baptists etc. I think Harold Bloom wrote a book on American Religion which showed that sects like Mormons, Pentecostals, Southern Baptists, JWs, SDAs are really part of the same fabric. Many similarities to Gnosticism etc.

!

This is news to you? American religion is quite dualistic.
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« Reply #82 on: July 18, 2012, 08:21:15 AM »

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I think Harold Bloom wrote a book on American Religion which showed that sects like Mormons, Pentecostals, Southern Baptists, JWs, SDAs are really part of the same fabric. Many similarities to Gnosticism etc
A book I would probably agree with. Evangelical protestantism IS very dualistic. Although if you told them that you'd probably lose a tooth or two Smiley

PP
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« Reply #83 on: July 18, 2012, 06:23:07 PM »

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I think Harold Bloom wrote a book on American Religion which showed that sects like Mormons, Pentecostals, Southern Baptists, JWs, SDAs are really part of the same fabric. Many similarities to Gnosticism etc
A book I would probably agree with. Evangelical protestantism IS very dualistic. Although if you told them that you'd probably lose a tooth or two Smiley

PP

haha... I think if you told them that, they probably wouldnt have a clue what you were talking about! As long as they have their "personal relationship with Jesus" everything would be good! I have to say that most evangelicals are very nice people. I think hyper Calvinists might punch you in the face tho. Some of these are very unpleasant people.
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« Reply #84 on: July 18, 2012, 06:30:06 PM »

I would like to ask : Do many protestants (or specifically Evangelicals) push into theology, or Church Fathers ? Or they rather focus on, yeah, the relationship with Jesus ? More pratical than theological ?
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« Reply #85 on: July 18, 2012, 08:13:23 PM »

I would like to ask : Do many protestants (or specifically Evangelicals) push into theology, or Church Fathers ? Or they rather focus on, yeah, the relationship with Jesus ? More pratical than theological ?

I think there is a growing appreciation of the Fathers in evangelical circles. That's why there seems to be many converting to Orthodoxy. But I'd say that the main thrust of American evangelicalism is still towards mega church type stuff or Southern Baptist non-creedal type stuff.

There is appears to be resurgence in Calvinsim in the US and less so in the UK. This new wave of Calvinists tend to take the Fathers seriously, or at least attempt to do so. An example of this is a book entitled "Pierced for Our Transgressions" to defend the penal substitution theory of the atonement as the controlling way we should understand the cross. There was a chapter in that book on penal substitution in the Fathers. The trouble with Calvinist treatments of the Fathers is, obviously, that none held beliefs remotely like Calvinism. I think what happens is that the Fathers are looked at as another source to mine for statements that can appear to support Calvinistic doctrine. It also makes them look legitimate if they can quote from the Fathers. As if dropping a statement from St John Chrysostom means that they know about Church history and that the early church agrees with them. But these Calvinists are probably on the fringe - they are an ever growing fringe however. They have the appearance of rigorous thinking about Scripture and the Church, and this appeals to many who are dissatisfied with much of the wishy washy stuff in modern evangelicalism.  But, if I could indulge, statements like this from one prominent Calvinist preacher show that their understanding of Christianity have nothing to do with Christ, the apostles and the Fathers:

"In the Final Judgment, we see the triune God settling violence on the heads of the rebellious forever and ever."

"if you don't believe in the vicarious death of Jesus Christ on the cross, suffering violence at the center of history at the hands of His Father, if you don't believe in a final judgment in which the sheep and the goats are separated... then you are in revolt against God's revelation and definition of His justice."

And in the comment section of this blog:

"The point here is that judicial violence executed by the Almighty was so vast and overwhelming that the modern Secular Man can't stand to look."


These are appalling statements to make. This is completely incompatible, as far as I know, with Orthodox understanding of God. It makes most Protestants wince. Calvinists embrace this completely distorted picture of God. I think that Calvinism will to be regarded as a sect or a cult in the future, with no ecumenical progress possible with the overwhelming majority of Christians.

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« Reply #86 on: July 19, 2012, 07:26:16 AM »

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I would like to ask : Do many protestants (or specifically Evangelicals) push into theology, or Church Fathers ? Or they rather focus on, yeah, the relationship with Jesus ? More pratical than theological ?
Alot of Evangelicals are starting to think about the Early Church, especially in light of so many people coming up with their own theology. They want something rooted. Alot (not all) of them are wanting historical roots for their faith. That is one reason why the Messianics get alot of "airtime" in evangelical circles, because they think that it puts them in connection with the apostolic times.

Its also a big reason why alot of evangelicals look into Orthodoxy. Of course they're also looking into the "restorationist" movements too. lord have mercy.

PP
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« Reply #87 on: July 19, 2012, 07:18:55 PM »

Thanks for your replies.

I've also heard that in Russia Mormon missionaries are not allowed to proselytise anymore. Any truth to this?

Yes that is correct, at this time they are restricted as they are considered a cult.
Unfortunate. However I feel about a certain religious group, I'd like it to be up to the individual to decide if its right or not. Not Big Brother
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« Reply #88 on: August 10, 2012, 01:15:42 PM »

This clip from youtube was made known to me on another blog post here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo5lK9qLK7w

It's shows an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists at a roadside literature stand during a procession. He overturns their tables and books. You can see from the comments that the Adventists are viewing this as persecution from the Orthodox. I wonder what the Orthodox make of this. Please comment.

http://www.religion.in.ua/news/ukrainian_news/17743-krymskaya-eparxiya-upc-nakazala-svyashhennikov-za-razgrom-palatki-adventistov.html

They have been disciplinde by the dioceasan court.
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« Reply #89 on: August 10, 2012, 02:20:56 PM »

This clip from youtube was made known to me on another blog post here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo5lK9qLK7w

It's shows an Orthodox priest in the Ukraine confronting some Adventists at a roadside literature stand during a procession. He overturns their tables and books. You can see from the comments that the Adventists are viewing this as persecution from the Orthodox. I wonder what the Orthodox make of this. Please comment.

http://www.religion.in.ua/news/ukrainian_news/17743-krymskaya-eparxiya-upc-nakazala-svyashhennikov-za-razgrom-palatki-adventistov.html

They have been disciplinde by the dioceasan court.

Interesting. I eagerly wait to see how that goes over with people on this forum ...
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #90 on: August 10, 2012, 02:24:12 PM »


Bing translate isn't very good, what exactly was the decision other than them having to apologize?
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« Reply #91 on: August 10, 2012, 02:27:21 PM »

One was deprived of the right to wear pectoral cross, for the second one - kamilavka.
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« Reply #92 on: August 10, 2012, 02:33:12 PM »

Ahh, thank you.
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