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Author Topic: Protestant Evangelism the Orthodox East  (Read 6997 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).

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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.

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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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