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Author Topic: Addressing Protestant Influence in Oriental Orthodoxy  (Read 8442 times) Average Rating: 0
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Antonious Nikolas
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« on: July 07, 2013, 07:28:28 PM »

Hey Folks,

As you might've noticed, there have been a lot of threads on this and other Orthodox forums lately (not to mention websites like this http://dissidentcopts.blogspot.com/2009/06/things-to-straighten-protestant-thought.html) complaining about Evangelical and Charismatic thought and practice creeping into Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Well, a small group of us - Oriental Orthodox priests, deacons, and laity - believe that the time has come to stop complaining and do something.  Our desire is to work with - and in obedience to - our respective bishops and:

• develop a curriculum to be included in servants programs and seminaries so the future generation of servants and priests will be of a sound Orthodox Mind.
• facilitate the production of literature and hymns that are in line with the Orthodox teaching.
• conduct workshops in local churches and in different regions to train servants to adopt the Orthodox Mind and do away with protestant ways.
• create a website and Facebook page where clergy and servants interested in preserving Orthodoxy in their respective parishes can access patristic materials, essays, articles, videos, audio lectures, and other resources.

This fellowship is under the patronage of the great, pan-Oriental Orthodox Father St. Jacob Baradaeus (St. Jacob Baradaeus story: http://www.neamericandiocese.org/feasts-memorials.54/st-jacob-baradaeus.aspx).

The idea behind the fellowship is basically what I articulated in another thread on this issue.

We have to face the fact that the average Orthodox Christian isn't the amateur theologian who argues ad infinitum on these boards.  Rather, he or she is generally a pious person, not particularly theologically sophisticated, who has the same spiritual needs as every person.  When we don't meet those needs by teaching them about true Orthodox mysticism and theosis and how this cannot be achieved apart from living liturgically and participating in the Holy Mysteries - basically, opening to them the treasure trove of Orthodox spirituality - of course they turn to shallow means of satisfying the soul.  This is why we end up with folks who fool themselves into thinking that they can simultaneously be Orthodox and pseudo-tongue talkin' holy rollers, or worshippers of Haile Selassie, or crystal-carrying New Age mystics, or "Crazy 4 Christ" mega-church imitators, or whatever else.  We need to start working with our hierarchs to address this.

As the brilliant Orthodox theologian Harry Boosalis says in his wonderful book Taught by God:

“We are called not simply to preserve Patristic tradition. We are called to pursue it and to participate in it ourselves. From out of the well-spring of Holy Tradition and through our participation in the liturgical life of the Church; by attempting to acquire some share in the Fathers' spirit of humility and life of prayer; by pursuing their path toward purification, illumination and theosis, students of Orthodox Theology are called, and must be committed to, acquiring this same 'mind of the Fathers' which is nothing less than the mind of Christ Himself.

This not only keeps outside influences from infiltrating our inheritance; it also inspires and emboldens us as we confront, address, and reach out to the non-Orthodox around us. Only then can we speak with the same voice as our Fathers -- from out of the depths of their same experience, utilizing their same categories of thought, and rightly applying their same method and manner of approach.”


Amen.

I want to be very clear that this fellowship is not about advocating a rediscovery of Orthodoxy alongside warped, Protestantized theology and practice, but to the absolute exclusion of it.

If any Oriental Orthodox Christian on these boards is interested in taking a stand along these lines against heterodox faith and practice creeping into our Communion, please pm me with your email.

In Christ,

A.N.
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2013, 01:39:39 AM »

Great initiative!

I am also very concerned about this. I actually have a site that I don't use anymore (since I joined a youth group of my Church), I posted translations in swedish of quotes, videos, etc. from OO fathers/mothers: http://qolomendabro.com/

If it could be of any help or spark any ideas. The name might not be suitable though, Qolo men Dabro, A voice from the desert in Syriac. I think I made a nice and clean design though. I was actually thinking of turning it into an English site with the same content a while back.
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2013, 04:00:19 AM »

This is a topic I didn't know was actually taking place.  I would be very interested in hearing from other OO on this.  Does anyone know exactly how the infiltration of protestant ideas happened?
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Antonious Nikolas
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2013, 08:19:10 AM »

Great initiative!

I am also very concerned about this. I actually have a site that I don't use anymore (since I joined a youth group of my Church), I posted translations in swedish of quotes, videos, etc. from OO fathers/mothers: http://qolomendabro.com/

If it could be of any help or spark any ideas. The name might not be suitable though, Qolo men Dabro, A voice from the desert in Syriac. I think I made a nice and clean design though. I was actually thinking of turning it into an English site with the same content a while back.

It is a nice, clean design, Suryoyutho.  I can't speak to the content as I don't read Swedish, but if you'd be willing to work with us, this site could be very helpful for our cause.  Thanks very much for volunteering.  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2013, 09:42:11 AM »

Great initiative!

I am also very concerned about this. I actually have a site that I don't use anymore (since I joined a youth group of my Church), I posted translations in swedish of quotes, videos, etc. from OO fathers/mothers: http://qolomendabro.com/

Great site! Tack så mycket!
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2013, 11:16:17 AM »

Great initiative!

I am also very concerned about this. I actually have a site that I don't use anymore (since I joined a youth group of my Church), I posted translations in swedish of quotes, videos, etc. from OO fathers/mothers: http://qolomendabro.com/

Great site! Tack så mycket!

+1
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2013, 03:24:03 PM »

This is a topic I didn't know was actually taking place.  I would be very interested in hearing from other OO on this.  Does anyone know exactly how the infiltration of protestant ideas happened?

Same as any, I would guess: Missionaries came, started spreading their ideas, winning converts, etc. One of the saddest things about the OO churches' relationships with the Westerners is that since most of the OO churches are surrounded by Islam, and the Western missionaries generally found Muslims too difficult to convert, they usually focused on the preexisting Christian communities instead, creating new branches of their churches out of whatever number that they could gain. And while time was that the bishops of the Orthodox churches found them just as curious as the Western missionaries themselves found the native Christians (see, for instance, the famous exchange between the Presbyterian missionaries in Egypt and the Bishop of Assiut in the 1860s, wherein the bishop asked the missionary: "We've been living with Christ for 2000 years; how long have your people been living with Him?"), it does seem that in our time the novelty has worn off and some feel obliged to treat a charismatic, evangelical whatever as a fellow brother or sister in Christ first and foremost. Any doctrinal differences are secondary in this way of thinking, since after all most OO churches are still surrounded by Islam, so the wider society reinforces this "well, you're all Christians anyway" idea.
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« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2013, 03:55:47 PM »

This is a topic I didn't know was actually taking place.  I would be very interested in hearing from other OO on this.  Does anyone know exactly how the infiltration of protestant ideas happened?

Same as any, I would guess: Missionaries came, started spreading their ideas, winning converts, etc. One of the saddest things about the OO churches' relationships with the Westerners is that since most of the OO churches are surrounded by Islam, and the Western missionaries generally found Muslims too difficult to convert, they usually focused on the preexisting Christian communities instead, creating new branches of their churches out of whatever number that they could gain. And while time was that the bishops of the Orthodox churches found them just as curious as the Western missionaries themselves found the native Christians (see, for instance, the famous exchange between the Presbyterian missionaries in Egypt and the Bishop of Assiut in the 1860s, wherein the bishop asked the missionary: "We've been living with Christ for 2000 years; how long have your people been living with Him?"), it does seem that in our time the novelty has worn off and some feel obliged to treat a charismatic, evangelical whatever as a fellow brother or sister in Christ first and foremost. Any doctrinal differences are secondary in this way of thinking, since after all most OO churches are still surrounded by Islam, so the wider society reinforces this "well, you're all Christians anyway" idea.

Yeah, Western proselytism played a big part.

I would add to this a few things:

a.) Failure to teach proper Orthodox ecclesiology on our part
b.) Failure to adequately address the errors in Protestant theology and "contemporary" approaches to worship
c.) People confusing cultural assimilation with adoption of heterodox faith and practice
d.) a general fear of the youth deserting us for more worldly churches that don't insist on fasting, where the service is a party, et cetera

I know I've said this a few times, but can't emphasize the ecclesiology thing enough.  After one Oriental Orthodox concelebration, a kindly middle-aged Coptic woman said she was disappointed the Catholics weren't invited (!?!)  When I expressed my astonishment at her statement she said, "Why not?  It's not Pope Shenouda's Church or Pope Benedict's Church, it's Jesus Christ's Church!"  That says it all.
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« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2013, 11:17:01 PM »

Reading the dissidentcopts entry, for example, I have to say that I'm completely sympathetic to the frustration that comes through the tone there.

But I would urge caution. Before taking a heavy hand to this problem, we have to ask why did it arise?

If we consider SMSV for example, it did not arise in a vacuum. It arose with the best intentions. There was no desire to make an evangelical community with an Orthodox veneer. The problem was that many of the youth were leaving the church because their culture was not egyptian, but north american. They felt like foreigners in their own church. Plus, the church is full of people who want to impose their self-will on others remake the church in their image. "No, you have to do it like this, that is how we do it in Egypt." Then the next guy comes and says the oposite with the same reason. (And I've been to St. Mark's that SMSV came out of, I've sat down in a pew and had people stand up and walk away from the foreigner, it's not just a perceived problem).

SMSV is a great place in that people who have not felt they have any place in the church feel at home. People who have never served before serve there. People who have always felt like second class at best feel that it is their church. This is wonderful. But they're too accepting, not just accepting people, not just rejecting self-will and bullying, but accepting everything, being afraid to rightly divide the word of truth for fear of offending. So there is an exceptionally strong evangelical influence, to the point where even the priests have been sucked in. It is not a malicious movement though, it is a reaction to another wrong.

Now, wanting to teach true Orthodoxy to those who have been fed only Orthodoxy-lite is laudable. A zeal for the truth is wonderful. But it has to be done carefully.

If we just go correcting with a firm hand, pointing out what is wrong everywhere, criticizing, etc., if we allow ourselves the tone of that blog post, which we are all tempted to take and feel comfortable in, how will it be perceived?

It will feel to them just like the ignorant people who push arbitrary made-up rules to feel good being able to tell others what to do. It won't matter that what's being said is the truth, it will be brushed aside as the same bullying, the same stupidity that drove them out in the first place.

It is not the role of the church to dictate to people who to live their lives. God allows us freedom to sin or not, to follow him or not. The role of the Church is to invite people to the truth, to teach people the way to God, to show them His love so that they want to follow, and to guide them along the way.

If we want others to want Orthodoxy, the way is not to argue with them about how wrong the way they know is. It is to show them how beautiful Orthodoxy is. The only way to do that is to live Orthodox lives that are filled with the presence of Christ so that other people want to live that live. Not yelling at them angrily about how much better the love of Christ is experienced in the narrow way of Orthodoxy.

It is always tempting to correct other people. It's the Coptic pass-time. But it's always wrong to correct others if it is out of anger, or frustration, or anything other than love and a desire for their salvation. Those who are called to fight heresy are few and far between, and great, like St. Athanasius.

God doesn't need us to save the Church. If we focus on our own salvation, He may choose to use us in small ways. But that is the only way, the inner way, not to start a war as if we were qualified to teach it, not through self calling.

So I hope that your efforts are fruitful, and productive, and a light to the world. But I have to say be careful, dont' over reach, don't presume, and don't correct out frustration. Only God can save the Church, not our own efforts. What you are proposing is a good work. But be very careful that Satan doesn't twist it subtly to his purposes.
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2013, 12:39:20 AM »

I totally second Jonathan's response. I am OO myself from the Indian church, and we have some pseudo-protestant trends rising once in a while.
But correcting someone or teaching the Orthodox faith much less defending the Orthodox faith requires a substantial amount of spiritual maturity, ascesis , prayer and self-purity. I write as someone who has been down the path and regret how stupid I was when I was younger.
Zeal for our Holy Faith and our Holy Orthodox Church is good, a gift of the Spirit to be treasured, so don't loose it amongst the many temptations this world will throw, but go about this business with caution, knowing in your heart that you are taking a heavy responsibility for which you may be called to account.
As Jonathan said, don't overreach, your efforts must bring back people to the Church not cause them to go farther away.

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« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2013, 01:52:55 AM »

Thank you Orthodox11 and Alpo.

What Jonathan and surajiype write is important. It depends a lot on the person you're talking to as well. Some people will really listen when you tell them something while others will get extremely defensive.

Reading that dissidentcopts blog post, it's not nearly as bad in Sweden (flutes are used sometimes...?).

It would be nice with some kind of OO project though. We really don't have much easy to find resources on the internet compared to others.
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« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2013, 03:17:46 AM »

Just going by what I can find on Youtube about Oriental Orthodoxy vs. Protestantism, I think it would be extremely beneficial if someone with knowledge of both Amharic and English could provide English translations of the many, many videos coming out of the EOTC that address the encroachment of Protestantism upon Orthodoxy. Some appear to be quite in-depth in a way that I have not seen from my own church (I remember HH Pope Shenouda III addressing particular Protestant sects, but then his writings were never very well-translated, either).

For those of you who have never seen them, I am referring to videos like this one on the "Protestantawi Jihad" against Ethiopian Orthodoxy. The Tewahedo have made a lot of efforts against Protestantism, which is great to see given the success of various Protestant sects in Ethiopia, largely at the expense of Orthodoxy. We in the other OO churches ought to be doing the same, before we end up in a similar situation.

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« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2013, 03:35:44 AM »

Some of it is a little too hard maybe (whole enemy thing) but I agree with and have noticed myself what he writes under "Religious Dangers"...

Quote
Dangers of the Diaspora
by Bar Yohanon
Fr. Dale A. Johnson is a Syrian Orthodox Priest formerly a clergyman of the United Methodist Church

Recently I did a thought experiment in Christology. I asked myself what would happen if we found the DNA of Jesus? How would this affect the theological formulation of the Son of God? First of all, what would his chromosomes looks like? Most humans have 46 chromosomes, twenty-three from the mother and twenty-three from the father. Would half the chromosomes of Jesus be human and the other half of the Holy Spirit?. In other words, "Conceived of the Holy Spirit" fully human and fully God.

With these questions one can see the Christological dialectic emerging. But in this case we have scientific facts before us. If we had the DNA of Jesus we would know once and for all if He were fully God or fully man. Or would we know. Would we recognise the DNA of God? From the standpoint of natural reason we would have all the evidence before us. But is it possible that there might be information that lies outside of the natural paradigm? If our paradigm is not correct them we can not interpret the evidence correctly.

I bring this question before us to suggest how it is possible that we might not recognise evidence before our very eyes. It is one of the problems Christians from the Middle East who have migrated to the West. They may have a view of the world that does not correspond to the realities of the western world and thereby not perceive correctly.

In a Syriac dispute poem, there is a dialogue between Joseph and Mary. Mary informs Joseph that she is pregnant. Joseph asks who is the man who violated her. Mary tells him it was not a man but an angel. Joseph cannot believe this. He warns Mary not to tell this to him again. Again he asks who led her astray. Mary gets slightly angry and insists that Joseph believe her. But Joseph cannot believe her and is greatly troubled. Not until in a dream that night does he understand that Mary is carrying the Lord of the Universe. His natural mind could not see this possibility even though Mary told him, a firsthand witness. Mary's information does not fit into his natural view of the world so he does not recognise the evidence before him.

I say all this to suggest how it is possible to not recognise the dangers to Syriac Christians in the Diaspora in Europe and the west. Christians who come from the Middle East have lived for centuries in the context of an Islamic dominated society. They have faced hostile governments, religious and ethnic bigotry. The paradigm of their reality is formed before they move to the West and it does not always fit the New World in which they now live.

In Europe and America, members of the Syriac Diaspora no longer live in a Moslem dominated culture. For the most part they live in a post-Christian culture primarily Protestant. In the Middle East it was easy to identify the enemy. He was the one who called you "gower". He was the one who said it was illegal for you to repair your churches and speak your language. He was the one who kidnapped your children and confiscated your property. In the West the dangers are far more subtle and pernicious. The trouble is that we do not recognise the dangers even though they are in front of our eyes.

Religious Dangers

Generally among Christians in the Middle East there is solidarity. On the most fundamental level Christians of any denominations are recognised as Christians. As a monk in Turkey once told me, "If you are baptised then you are a Christian and we are brothers." In the West this may not always be so. Many evangelical Protestants do not look upon Syriac Christians as "saved". This means that they do not view Syriac Christians as Christians at all. Unless one accepts Jesus Christ as his or her personal saviour by praying the sinner's prayer, one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This specific formulation is characterised in the four spiritual laws of Campus Crusade for Christ, which is an evangelical organisation in Universities and Schools all over the world. Anyone who listens to Billy Graham, perhaps the most famous preacher in America will hear at the end of every sermon a call for people to come to the front of the podium and give their heart to Jesus. Even though Syriac Christians in the Diaspora have been baptised, this makes no difference to the evangelical Christian. Infant baptism does not count. You must be of "the age of accountability". This means that you must be old enough to consciously understand that you are a sinner and must repent and ask God for forgiveness. The reason for not recognising the form of Christianity that Syriac Christians bring to the West is that evangelical Protestants do not have a sacramental view. Their paradigm of reality blocks out seeing the spiritual miracle in the Syriac people( I shall comment on the spiritual miracle of the Syriac people later in this essay).

Syriac Christians often view Protestants in the West as one and the same. Many, if not most see Protestants as fellow Christians because they are baptised. This is precisely where the problem lies. This paradigm works in the Middle East because most Christians come from sacramental Churches except for a few protestant groups. But in the lands of the Diaspora, Protestants vary greatly and we must relate to them differently.

This naivete has been evident in Russia where the Russian Orthodox Church opened its arms to missionaries from the West. They saw them as fellow Christians coming to help them. But in fact the Church experienced a terrible assault from evangelical Christians and other groups not even considered by Protestants as Christian. The Russian Orthodox Church thought that this fellow Christians would respect their spiritual heritage and identification. What they did not realise is that Protestants did not view them in the same way. They felt free to pillage the church by planting doubts and questioning the legitimacy of the Orthodox Church.

There were also Jehovah Witness, Mormon, and Seventh Day Adventists who brought their doctrines into Russia. These groups savagely attacked the Christians of Russia in the same way they attack the Christians of the Diaspora. They use scripture to prove that their particular theologies are correct and convert Syriac Christians to their denomination. For the most part, Syriac Christians of the Diaspora are poorly prepared to defend themselves against such Bible based arguments. Knowledge of the scriptures is very low among Syriac Christians and because Syriac Christians love the Gospel they are particularly vulnerable to the predatory nature of some Protestant and cult groups.

Recently I visited a Syrian Orthodox priest in Switzerland. I was happy to see him teaching several bible study groups. He admitted that some of his families had been divided by influences from what he called "Protestants." Upon further questioning it was clear that he made no distinction between the various protestant groups who were impacting some of his congregation. Through his clergy associations he was familiar with Calvinist and Reformed Protestants. He thought they were all like these Protestants who were quite liberal. He could not understand how some of the evangelical protestants were so aggressive with some of his people. He appreciated our discussion for it helped to clarify for him the differences he was beginning to notice.

Secular Dangers

Mainline Protestant groups for the most part will not directly encourage Syriac Cbristians to leave their churches. But in some ways they are more dangerous to the Syriac Diaspora. Liberal social attitudes invade the Syriac Church through contact with the young people primarily. Issues such as birth control, abortion, sexual relations outside of marriage, homosexuality, divorce, and euthanasia are considered to be broadly permissible in varying degrees. Syriac Christians coming from the Middle East have very conservative and historic mores. Because the Church out of modesty and cultural conditioning, they have been relatively silent on these subjects. It has put our young people in conflict and created doubts about the authority and relativity of the Church. These cultural mores of the West seem enlightened to some of our youth and a dichotomy arises in their minds so that they feel they have to choose between the secular culture and the Church. The mainline Churches embody of these secular views. In ecumenical councils there has been conflicts between the moral and ethical perspectives of the Orthodox Churches and Churches of the West. Some Orthodox Churches have pulled out of the World Council of Churches for this very reason.

The Roman Catholic Church is much more in line with the social mores and sacramental perceptions of the Syriac Christians of the Diaspora. Fortunately, the Catholic Church is less of a threat to the Diaspora. The theological arrogance of the past suggesting that they are the one true church has given way to more enlightened acceptance of the legitimacy of the See of Antioch and the Churches associated with it.

The more sacramental a church is the more it is aligned with the views of the Syriac Diaspora. Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist Protestants have varying degrees of sacramental perspectives. Although protestant, they are vastly different than groups on the other end of the spectrum such as Assembly of God, Pentecostal, some Baptist denominations (There are 42 Baptist denominations in the USA), and cult groups previously mentioned. In the middle are Calvinist groups such as the Reformed, Presbyterian, Nazarene, and Covenant churches.

The Miracle

The miracle of the Syriac Christians is that they have been saved by God through centuries of oppression and persecution. By my own count at least 38 ethnic cleansings have occurred in the regions of the Fertile Crescent. Syriac Christians have faced the sword and the bullet, the politicians and the police yet somehow survived. They rebuilt their churches and villages again and again. They migrated to new lands and still the language of Jesus is heard in their homes and in their hearts. The danger of freedom in the West threatens Syriac Christians as never before.

Drugs, divorce, and the very nature of the Diaspora are pulling families and the religious culture apart.

I believe God has saved the Syriac Christians for a reason. Syriac Christians are a holy remnant. To go back to the thought experiment I used at the beginning of this essay, we can say that some of the protestant groups would look at the genetic data of Jesus purely in a scientific and materialist way. There would be no supernatural considerations and therefore even if presented to the sense it would not be perceived. In the same way Joseph did not perceive the miracle before him in the pregnancy of Mary.

Only when Mary came to Joseph in a dream did he finally "see" the miracle. The Syriac Christians can be to the post-protestant culture of Europe and the West a new light. We are the Angel and the Diaspora is the dream. It is a dream that came true for the people of the Diaspora, finding a land of freedom. But it can be a dream come true in another way. It can be a dream for the West to awaken them out of their naturalist and materialistic hallucination. We have an obligation to proclaim the Gospel to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps in the third millennium, a light from the East will appear once again through the Syriac Diaspora. So whether we are looking at the chromosomes or Christ or even the chromosomes of Christ we can see the miracle of creation and the creator himself.
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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2013, 09:08:26 AM »

Reading the dissidentcopts entry, for example, I have to say that I'm completely sympathetic to the frustration that comes through the tone there.

But I would urge caution. Before taking a heavy hand to this problem, we have to ask why did it arise?

Everything you’ve typed is sound advice, Jonathan, and as I hope you can tell, it was the path we had chosen from the start.  I linked the blog post not because I approve of the combative tone (I don't - although like you I do understand the frustration and share the author's sentiment in terms of the actual complaints made) but as just one example of the many complaints made about this sort of thing online and in the real world.

No one here is advocating a “heavy hand”.  This is an effort that must be carried out with caution, humility, and above all, love.  The mistakes that were made may have been made with the best of intentions as you describe, but they are mistakes still.  Addressing them, at least having the conversation, is necessary.  For the most part, whether it’s because we  don’t want to offend anybody or in the interests in displaying the kind of prideful humility that makes a public show of saying, “It’s not for me to correct anyone about anything ever because I’m a sinner”, so far we’ve been shying away from doing anything more than griping about this on the internet and at youth meetings, basically preaching to the choir, and all the while the frustration simmers on the one side and a generation of youth are led astray on the other.  It’s time to have the conversation.

If we consider SMSV for example, it did not arise in a vacuum. It arose with the best intentions. There was no desire to make an evangelical community with an Orthodox veneer. The problem was that many of the youth were leaving the church because their culture was not egyptian, but north american. They felt like foreigners in their own church.

SMSV is a great place in that people who have not felt they have any place in the church feel at home. People who have never served before serve there. People who have always felt like second class at best feel that it is their church. This is wonderful. But they're too accepting, not just accepting people, not just rejecting self-will and bullying, but accepting everything, being afraid to rightly divide the word of truth for fear of offending. So there is an exceptionally strong evangelical influence, to the point where even the priests have been sucked in. It is not a malicious movement though, it is a reaction to another wrong.

This is valuable information to have, and I thank you for it.  It seems that, as frequently happens, we have once again confused acculturating in the West with accepting heterodox faith and practice.

For many people in our Oriental Orthodox communities Orthodoxy = the “faith of the homeland” and Protestantism or Catholicism = “the faith of the land of immigration” and we start thinking that the differences are mostly “cultural” when they’re anything but. We can make the Faith relevant to the youth and the Western born without adopting Protestant errors in faith and practice.

I honestly think that with a little education, presented in a gentle, loving manner, people will see the truth for themselves.

Now, wanting to teach true Orthodoxy to those who have been fed only Orthodoxy-lite is laudable. A zeal for the truth is wonderful. But it has to be done carefully.

If we just go correcting with a firm hand, pointing out what is wrong everywhere, criticizing, etc., if we allow ourselves the tone of that blog post, which we are all tempted to take and feel comfortable in, how will it be perceived?

Amen.  We agree here.


It is not the role of the church to dictate to people who to live their lives. God allows us freedom to sin or not, to follow him or not. The role of the Church is to invite people to the truth, to teach people the way to God, to show them His love so that they want to follow, and to guide them along the way.

I agree here as well, but with one caveat: God gave people free will, and what they do with that in their private lives is their own business, but our corporate worship is another thing.  Free will doesn’t cover the right introduce heterodox faith and practice into the Orthodox Church.  I don’t recommend reading Rick Warren or Joyce Meyers books or listening to “pop Christian” music, as you’re bound to pick up some bad theology there, but if that’s what you want to do in your private life (not you, Jonathan, but a general “you”) then go for it.  Once you try to introduce into the life of the Church, however, especially the life of the youth, then it becomes problematic.

If we want others to want Orthodoxy, the way is not to argue with them about how wrong the way they know is. It is to show them how beautiful Orthodoxy is. The only way to do that is to live Orthodox lives that are filled with the presence of Christ so that other people want to live that live. Not yelling at them angrily about how much better the love of Christ is experienced in the narrow way of Orthodoxy.

Amen, not yelling, but showing them the joys of the narrow gate and the spiritual poverty of the wide gate.

It is always tempting to correct other people. It's the Coptic pass-time. But it's always wrong to correct others if it is out of anger, or frustration, or anything other than love and a desire for their salvation. Those who are called to fight heresy are few and far between, and great, like St. Athanasius.

It’s not about correcting people, per se, but correcting behaviors.  Of course we can’t all be St. Athanasius (may his prayers be with us) but this doesn’t absolve us of our duty as Christians to speak up when we see something wrong in the Church, even if all that means is to make our hierarchs aware and let them take the wheel.  What love are we showing to the youth if we see them being led astray and shrug and say, “Not my problem”?


God doesn't need us to save the Church. If we focus on our own salvation, He may choose to use us in small ways. But that is the only way, the inner way, not to start a war as if we were qualified to teach it, not through self calling.

Amen.  God doesn’t need anyone to “save the Church”.  No one here is under any delusions about that.  Focusing on our own salvation and keeping our own sins before our eyes when we do any work for the Church, or when we think of correcting, in love, anyone else is the only way to go.  That said, it doesn’t free us of our responsibility of speaking up when we see something very wrong happening in our Church.

Thanks again for all your sound advice.  Pray for my weakness.

I totally second Jonathan's response. I am OO myself from the Indian church, and we have some pseudo-protestant trends rising once in a while.
But correcting someone or teaching the Orthodox faith much less defending the Orthodox faith requires a substantial amount of spiritual maturity, ascesis , prayer and self-purity. I write as someone who has been down the path and regret how stupid I was when I was younger.
Zeal for our Holy Faith and our Holy Orthodox Church is good, a gift of the Spirit to be treasured, so don't loose it amongst the many temptations this world will throw, but go about this business with caution, knowing in your heart that you are taking a heavy responsibility for which you may be called to account.
As Jonathan said, don't overreach, your efforts must bring back people to the Church not cause them to go farther away.

Amen.  Thank you for this excellent advice.  Pray for us.

It would be nice with some kind of OO project though. We really don't have much easy to find resources on the internet compared to others.

This is true.  We need to work on this.  I’m sure Apu Jose isn’t the only one looking to address this issue in his local community who is in search of resources on this issue from an Oriental Orthodox perspective.

Just going by what I can find on Youtube about Oriental Orthodoxy vs. Protestantism, I think it would be extremely beneficial if someone with knowledge of both Amharic and English could provide English translations of the many, many videos coming out of the EOTC that address the encroachment of Protestantism upon Orthodoxy. Some appear to be quite in-depth in a way that I have not seen from my own church (I remember HH Pope Shenouda III addressing particular Protestant sects, but then his writings were never very well-translated, either).

For those of you who have never seen them, I am referring to videos like this one on the "Protestantawi Jihad" against Ethiopian Orthodoxy. The Tewahedo have made a lot of efforts against Protestantism, which is great to see given the success of various Protestant sects in Ethiopia, largely at the expense of Orthodoxy. We in the other OO churches ought to be doing the same, before we end up in a similar situation.

Amen.  I was actually in touch with one of the guys who made those videos awhile back and we shared resources with one another.  I’m going to see if I can find his contact info again.  This is a great idea, dzheremi!

Some of it is a little too hard maybe (whole enemy thing) but I agree with and have noticed myself what he writes under "Religious Dangers"...

Quote
Dangers of the Diaspora
by Bar Yohanon
Fr. Dale A. Johnson is a Syrian Orthodox Priest formerly a clergyman of the United Methodist Church

Recently I did a thought experiment in Christology. I asked myself what would happen if we found the DNA of Jesus? How would this affect the theological formulation of the Son of God? First of all, what would his chromosomes looks like? Most humans have 46 chromosomes, twenty-three from the mother and twenty-three from the father. Would half the chromosomes of Jesus be human and the other half of the Holy Spirit?. In other words, "Conceived of the Holy Spirit" fully human and fully God.

With these questions one can see the Christological dialectic emerging. But in this case we have scientific facts before us. If we had the DNA of Jesus we would know once and for all if He were fully God or fully man. Or would we know. Would we recognise the DNA of God? From the standpoint of natural reason we would have all the evidence before us. But is it possible that there might be information that lies outside of the natural paradigm? If our paradigm is not correct them we can not interpret the evidence correctly.

I bring this question before us to suggest how it is possible that we might not recognise evidence before our very eyes. It is one of the problems Christians from the Middle East who have migrated to the West. They may have a view of the world that does not correspond to the realities of the western world and thereby not perceive correctly.

In a Syriac dispute poem, there is a dialogue between Joseph and Mary. Mary informs Joseph that she is pregnant. Joseph asks who is the man who violated her. Mary tells him it was not a man but an angel. Joseph cannot believe this. He warns Mary not to tell this to him again. Again he asks who led her astray. Mary gets slightly angry and insists that Joseph believe her. But Joseph cannot believe her and is greatly troubled. Not until in a dream that night does he understand that Mary is carrying the Lord of the Universe. His natural mind could not see this possibility even though Mary told him, a firsthand witness. Mary's information does not fit into his natural view of the world so he does not recognise the evidence before him.

I say all this to suggest how it is possible to not recognise the dangers to Syriac Christians in the Diaspora in Europe and the west. Christians who come from the Middle East have lived for centuries in the context of an Islamic dominated society. They have faced hostile governments, religious and ethnic bigotry. The paradigm of their reality is formed before they move to the West and it does not always fit the New World in which they now live.

In Europe and America, members of the Syriac Diaspora no longer live in a Moslem dominated culture. For the most part they live in a post-Christian culture primarily Protestant. In the Middle East it was easy to identify the enemy. He was the one who called you "gower". He was the one who said it was illegal for you to repair your churches and speak your language. He was the one who kidnapped your children and confiscated your property. In the West the dangers are far more subtle and pernicious. The trouble is that we do not recognise the dangers even though they are in front of our eyes.

Religious Dangers

Generally among Christians in the Middle East there is solidarity. On the most fundamental level Christians of any denominations are recognised as Christians. As a monk in Turkey once told me, "If you are baptised then you are a Christian and we are brothers." In the West this may not always be so. Many evangelical Protestants do not look upon Syriac Christians as "saved". This means that they do not view Syriac Christians as Christians at all. Unless one accepts Jesus Christ as his or her personal saviour by praying the sinner's prayer, one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This specific formulation is characterised in the four spiritual laws of Campus Crusade for Christ, which is an evangelical organisation in Universities and Schools all over the world. Anyone who listens to Billy Graham, perhaps the most famous preacher in America will hear at the end of every sermon a call for people to come to the front of the podium and give their heart to Jesus. Even though Syriac Christians in the Diaspora have been baptised, this makes no difference to the evangelical Christian. Infant baptism does not count. You must be of "the age of accountability". This means that you must be old enough to consciously understand that you are a sinner and must repent and ask God for forgiveness. The reason for not recognising the form of Christianity that Syriac Christians bring to the West is that evangelical Protestants do not have a sacramental view. Their paradigm of reality blocks out seeing the spiritual miracle in the Syriac people( I shall comment on the spiritual miracle of the Syriac people later in this essay).

Syriac Christians often view Protestants in the West as one and the same. Many, if not most see Protestants as fellow Christians because they are baptised. This is precisely where the problem lies. This paradigm works in the Middle East because most Christians come from sacramental Churches except for a few protestant groups. But in the lands of the Diaspora, Protestants vary greatly and we must relate to them differently.

This naivete has been evident in Russia where the Russian Orthodox Church opened its arms to missionaries from the West. They saw them as fellow Christians coming to help them. But in fact the Church experienced a terrible assault from evangelical Christians and other groups not even considered by Protestants as Christian. The Russian Orthodox Church thought that this fellow Christians would respect their spiritual heritage and identification. What they did not realise is that Protestants did not view them in the same way. They felt free to pillage the church by planting doubts and questioning the legitimacy of the Orthodox Church.

There were also Jehovah Witness, Mormon, and Seventh Day Adventists who brought their doctrines into Russia. These groups savagely attacked the Christians of Russia in the same way they attack the Christians of the Diaspora. They use scripture to prove that their particular theologies are correct and convert Syriac Christians to their denomination. For the most part, Syriac Christians of the Diaspora are poorly prepared to defend themselves against such Bible based arguments. Knowledge of the scriptures is very low among Syriac Christians and because Syriac Christians love the Gospel they are particularly vulnerable to the predatory nature of some Protestant and cult groups.

Recently I visited a Syrian Orthodox priest in Switzerland. I was happy to see him teaching several bible study groups. He admitted that some of his families had been divided by influences from what he called "Protestants." Upon further questioning it was clear that he made no distinction between the various protestant groups who were impacting some of his congregation. Through his clergy associations he was familiar with Calvinist and Reformed Protestants. He thought they were all like these Protestants who were quite liberal. He could not understand how some of the evangelical protestants were so aggressive with some of his people. He appreciated our discussion for it helped to clarify for him the differences he was beginning to notice.

Secular Dangers

Mainline Protestant groups for the most part will not directly encourage Syriac Cbristians to leave their churches. But in some ways they are more dangerous to the Syriac Diaspora. Liberal social attitudes invade the Syriac Church through contact with the young people primarily. Issues such as birth control, abortion, sexual relations outside of marriage, homosexuality, divorce, and euthanasia are considered to be broadly permissible in varying degrees. Syriac Christians coming from the Middle East have very conservative and historic mores. Because the Church out of modesty and cultural conditioning, they have been relatively silent on these subjects. It has put our young people in conflict and created doubts about the authority and relativity of the Church. These cultural mores of the West seem enlightened to some of our youth and a dichotomy arises in their minds so that they feel they have to choose between the secular culture and the Church. The mainline Churches embody of these secular views. In ecumenical councils there has been conflicts between the moral and ethical perspectives of the Orthodox Churches and Churches of the West. Some Orthodox Churches have pulled out of the World Council of Churches for this very reason.

The Roman Catholic Church is much more in line with the social mores and sacramental perceptions of the Syriac Christians of the Diaspora. Fortunately, the Catholic Church is less of a threat to the Diaspora. The theological arrogance of the past suggesting that they are the one true church has given way to more enlightened acceptance of the legitimacy of the See of Antioch and the Churches associated with it.

The more sacramental a church is the more it is aligned with the views of the Syriac Diaspora. Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist Protestants have varying degrees of sacramental perspectives. Although protestant, they are vastly different than groups on the other end of the spectrum such as Assembly of God, Pentecostal, some Baptist denominations (There are 42 Baptist denominations in the USA), and cult groups previously mentioned. In the middle are Calvinist groups such as the Reformed, Presbyterian, Nazarene, and Covenant churches.

The Miracle

The miracle of the Syriac Christians is that they have been saved by God through centuries of oppression and persecution. By my own count at least 38 ethnic cleansings have occurred in the regions of the Fertile Crescent. Syriac Christians have faced the sword and the bullet, the politicians and the police yet somehow survived. They rebuilt their churches and villages again and again. They migrated to new lands and still the language of Jesus is heard in their homes and in their hearts. The danger of freedom in the West threatens Syriac Christians as never before.

Drugs, divorce, and the very nature of the Diaspora are pulling families and the religious culture apart.

I believe God has saved the Syriac Christians for a reason. Syriac Christians are a holy remnant. To go back to the thought experiment I used at the beginning of this essay, we can say that some of the protestant groups would look at the genetic data of Jesus purely in a scientific and materialist way. There would be no supernatural considerations and therefore even if presented to the sense it would not be perceived. In the same way Joseph did not perceive the miracle before him in the pregnancy of Mary.

Only when Mary came to Joseph in a dream did he finally "see" the miracle. The Syriac Christians can be to the post-protestant culture of Europe and the West a new light. We are the Angel and the Diaspora is the dream. It is a dream that came true for the people of the Diaspora, finding a land of freedom. But it can be a dream come true in another way. It can be a dream for the West to awaken them out of their naturalist and materialistic hallucination. We have an obligation to proclaim the Gospel to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps in the third millennium, a light from the East will appear once again through the Syriac Diaspora. So whether we are looking at the chromosomes or Christ or even the chromosomes of Christ we can see the miracle of creation and the creator himself.

Thank you for this!  This is an excellent article.  Do you know where I could contact the author?
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2013, 09:38:19 AM »

Unfortunately I don't have any contact info but I know he travels around a lot; China, Tur Abdin, etc.

Here is his China blog: http://daleinchina.wordpress.com/ (seems to be the most recent thing from him).

Father Dale A. Johnson, a Syriac Orthodox missionary priest, is on temporary sabbatical in China seeking out the history of contributions of Syriac Christians in China

In another article by him about an old Syriac last supper icon he writes:

Quote
Perhaps one of the purest and most distinct Syriac icons is of the Last Supper. It has no Byzantine parallel. It is a unique contribution in the world of sacred art. The first thing we notice about this work of art is that the table is round. In so many Syriac churches we find DaVinci’s Last Supper where we look across the long table at Christ and his disciples. While this image is not an icon, it is treated as an icon in many Syriac churches. This is sad when we have a supreme iconic images within our own tradition.
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2013, 12:43:25 PM »

Thanks!  I'll try to track him down. Should be like playing "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2013, 02:21:31 PM »

I'm by no means Oriental Orthodox, but for different reasons I started a blog here: http://miaphysitism.blogspot.com/ where I started translating from Arabic some of the writings of Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffa'.... I've been meaning to get back to it eventually, but it didn't really get that much attention when I was actively updating it. In any case, I'd be happy to help with translations of Arabic texts. What I would suggest you do as a first step is to try to create a list of people who are willing and able to translate Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, and Syriac materials, figure out which materials would be best to translate first given available resources, and then try your best to work closely with clergy...
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« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2013, 03:33:37 PM »

Samn!, thanks for your help, man!  That is awesome.  We were just talking about our need for exactly that kind of work.  Prayer works.  God bless your service.  I'll pm you.
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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2013, 02:29:11 AM »

I'm wondering what our EO friends have done in similar situations.  I believe with the EO's there have been some priests who have become involved in the charismatic movement:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9819.msg132980.html#msg132980

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy_and_the_Charismatic_Movement


I'm wondering if it would be helpful for our EO friends to share what was done to deal with it.  Were letters sent to bishops?  If so, did the letters help?  Sometimes its useful to see what others have done, as opposed to "reinventing the wheel," as the saying goes.
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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2013, 08:54:14 AM »


LOL!  I just read the Wiki apologia article, and boy is it a joke.  It makes it seem like the Charismatic movement is a potent and widely accepted force in Eastern Orthodoxy with only a few controversial cranks like Hieromonk Seraphim Rose of blessed memory rocking to boat.  Talk about a disconnect between reality and someone’s fantasy world on the internet!

And with lines like this in abundance, it's hardly up to Wiki’s NPOV standards:

"Rev. Fr. Eusebius A. Stephanou, Th. D. of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America experienced along with other Orthodox priests an outpouring of the Holy Spirit."

I'm surprised it even exists in its present form, as Wikipedia is usually pretty conscientious about making sure their articles reflect reality. 

I wonder if it was created by someone in one of those pseudo-Orthodox movements like this one: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/02/fusing-orthodox-and-pentecostal-worship.html

Back on topic though, I truly give glory to God for the fact that when most Oriental Orthodox speak of "charismatic influence" all they really mean is priests with a Jonas Nightengale preaching style or kids singing "Christian pop" songs that originated in Charismatic or Evangelical circles in youth meetings; not the pseudo-tongues or "falling out" stuff.  If left unchecked though, I can see how the one could eventually lead to the other.

I'm wondering if it would be helpful for our EO friends to share what was done to deal with it.  Were letters sent to bishops?  If so, did the letters help?  Sometimes its useful to see what others have done, as opposed to "reinventing the wheel," as the saying goes.

Based on what folks have said on these boards over the past several years (this subject has come up from time to time in an EO context), they just pretty much let it burn itself out.  It never had much traction, and just sort of withered on it's own.

Side note: I keep waiting for someone from one of the above-mentioned pseudo-Orthodox groups to start posting here and telling us all that we're "fighting the spirit", etc. lol
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« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2013, 06:56:29 PM »

Quote
If we consider SMSV for example, it did not arise in a vacuum. It arose with the best intentions. There was no desire to make an evangelical community with an Orthodox veneer.

Wrong.

I was involved in and eye witness to the circumstances that led to the formation of SMSV, and you are totally misled.

In any case, does not matter. 
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« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2013, 07:15:26 PM »

Truly prayer is the best guide to success.
I pray your important work bears fruit.
Lord have mercy!
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« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2013, 07:19:29 PM »

Quote
If we consider SMSV for example, it did not arise in a vacuum. It arose with the best intentions. There was no desire to make an evangelical community with an Orthodox veneer.

Wrong.

I was involved in and eye witness to the circumstances that led to the formation of SMSV, and you are totally misled.

In any case, does not matter. 

Could you please elaborate, Stavro?  I'd truly like to know.

Truly prayer is the best guide to success.
I pray your important work bears fruit.
Lord have mercy!

Amen.  Thank you, Spyridon.  Your prayers are much appreciated.  This is something I actively pray about three times a day.
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« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2013, 09:45:58 PM »

I'm wondering what our EO friends have done in similar situations.  I believe with the EO's there have been some priests who have become involved in the charismatic movement:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9819.msg132980.html#msg132980

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodoxy_and_the_Charismatic_Movement


I'm wondering if it would be helpful for our EO friends to share what was done to deal with it.  Were letters sent to bishops?  If so, did the letters help?  Sometimes its useful to see what others have done, as opposed to "reinventing the wheel," as the saying goes.

I heard the bishop stepped in at my parish back in the day as I've mentioned elsewhere, but I'll have to ask how it came to his attention and get back to you. The priest at the time might have opposed it even, I'm not sure.
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« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2013, 02:44:48 PM »

Quote
If we consider SMSV for example, it did not arise in a vacuum. It arose with the best intentions. There was no desire to make an evangelical community with an Orthodox veneer.

Wrong.

I was involved in and eye witness to the circumstances that led to the formation of SMSV, and you are totally misled.

In any case, does not matter. 

Could you please elaborate, Stavro?  I'd truly like to know.


My reply would be immediately removed to the private forums, the land of the crazy posters.
Will send you a pm.
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« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2013, 02:50:31 PM »

...the private forums, the land of the crazy posters.


I love you, you make me smile.  Smiley
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« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2013, 04:11:25 PM »


My reply would be immediately removed to the private forums, the land of the crazy posters.
Will send you a pm.

LOL!  Okay.  I'll be waiting.
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« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2013, 08:36:18 AM »

I completely agree with the need to address the heresy that has crept into many churches.  It is so hard to see these things happening and feel like the bishops are doing nothing about it...  I can't emphasize enough how much it grieves me.  However, I don't see how the tone of the blog (i.e. "We're looking straight at you, "Abouna") could lead to anyone to repentance, or any reaction besides defensiveness.  Would it not be better to send letters to the bishops?  What does the history of the church tell us about how the laity should deal with these problems?

Also, I am having difficulty with people posting details about the names of persons and churches involved publicly in this way.  You do not know who is reading this, and how it may cause them offense.  This is just me questioning, and praying that we continue to seek the Truth, in love.
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« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2013, 09:48:12 AM »

I completely agree with the need to address the heresy that has crept into many churches.  It is so hard to see these things happening and feel like the bishops are doing nothing about it...  I can't emphasize enough how much it grieves me.  However, I don't see how the tone of the blog (i.e. "We're looking straight at you, "Abouna") could lead to anyone to repentance, or any reaction besides defensiveness.  Would it not be better to send letters to the bishops?  What does the history of the church tell us about how the laity should deal with these problems?

Also, I am having difficulty with people posting details about the names of persons and churches involved publicly in this way.  You do not know who is reading this, and how it may cause them offense.  This is just me questioning, and praying that we continue to seek the Truth, in love.

I agree.  As I said earlier, "I linked the blog post not because I approve of the combative tone but as just one example of the many complaints made about this sort of thing online and in the real world".

I'm not a proponent of "calling people out" by name either.  For me, this isn't about personalities, it's about Orthodox Faith and Orthodox practice.  Fix the problem, not the blame.

To be honest, I wish this wasn't an issue in our Church at all.  Addressing it is awkward and uncomfortable, especially in public.  I hate doing it, and I hate the world knowing "our problems".  Do you think the idea of militant Chalcedonians citing our vulnerability as proof that we're outside of the Church - or jubilant Evangelical and Charismatic pseudo-missionaries gleefully wringing their hands, delighted to know that the seeds of discord they've sown have born their poison fruit - are comforting?  Addressing this, publically or otherwise, isn't fun.  It hurts.  Cry

But not addressing it - and allowing a whole generation of youth to grow up thinking this is Orthodoxy - is not an option.

I agree that the way to handle it is to write to our bishops and let them take the lead in addressing it.  We can also provide patristic resources and explain to the youth why Protestant teaching and a Protestant approach to worship can never be a part of the life of the Church.

Right now, there are only two perspectives on this being heard: the angry, frustrated voices we've already been discussing and Misguided Sixteen Year Old X posting on her facebook about how "awesome" Fancy Name Conference X was where they sang Protestant songs and studied the wisdom of our father among the saints Billy Graham.

The concerned laity need to raise a third voice; a voice that says we're not going to be vitriolic, disrespectful or belligerent, but we're not going to allow our youth to grow up with a distorted idea of what Orthodoxy is either.  We're not going to allow our corporate worship or the life of our Church to be Protestantized.

The most painful part of all this for me, and what I really want to avoid, is the possibility of someone's faith being bruised in the process.  I agree with everything you've said.  We really have to be careful, gentle, and loving.  We have to allow the Holy Spirit to do the work, and we have to allow those in authority over us (the bishops) to take the lead.  Some of them (like H.G. Anba Suriel, for instance) already are.

The other thing that bothers me is I have folks telling me all kinds of different things about the origins of this stuff in our Church.  One person says it's all an innocent mistake due to lack of education (which I'd like to believe), another says there's some kind of a built-in Protestant fifth column that wants to "reform" the Church along Protestant lines.  They both seem to have some kind of inside track that I don't have.  I'd love to know the truth.

God have mercy on His Oriental Orthodox Church and preserve it in Orthodox Faith and practice.
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« Reply #29 on: July 13, 2013, 09:03:13 AM »

Quote
I'm not a proponent of "calling people out" by name either.  For me, this isn't about personalities, it's about Orthodox Faith and Orthodox practice.  Fix the problem, not the blame.

Athanasius and Cyril, among many saints who combated heresy , called heretics out by name and utterly destroyed their person and ideology.

There are no politically correct saints in the history of the church. They did not care about the feeling of the heretics as much as protecting the faith.

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« Reply #30 on: July 13, 2013, 09:11:37 AM »

Quote
I'm not a proponent of "calling people out" by name either.  For me, this isn't about personalities, it's about Orthodox Faith and Orthodox practice.  Fix the problem, not the blame.

Athanasius and Cyril, among many saints who combated heresy , called heretics out by name and utterly destroyed their person and ideology.

There are no politically correct saints in the history of the church. They did not care about the feeling of the heretics as much as protecting the faith.



1 you are not a patriarch or a bishop

2. St Cyril wrote against the heresies of Nestorius but did not name him, showing the respect due to the office of his fellow patriarch, until he was deposed by the church.

We can show proper respect to our priests and bishops without condoning any errors.
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« Reply #31 on: July 13, 2013, 09:37:06 AM »

1. I am called to follow the lead of the saints and not of politicians like you do.
    You are ignorant about history and you think that only clergy have a role in the Church. It is not so.

2. Cyril called Nestorius a serpent and St. Shenouda, a layman, slapped the serpent on his face in Ephesus. We are talking about certain principles and not about persons, it just so happens that these persons have violated the principles and are called out for their transgression. Your approach is to try to protect the heretics by talking about how we have to respect their heresy and person because at one point of time they have sneaked into priesthood. What you are doing is advocating their agenda.

3. I do not find any reference in the history of the church about respecting heretics. If you find one, let me know. Until you do, save me your lectures about respecting heretics.






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« Reply #32 on: July 13, 2013, 10:02:03 AM »

Stavro, he already gave you an excellent example of our father st  Cyril. Besides even the apostle rebukes those who took the internal affairs of the church to public courts . Naming people who are still ingood standing with the Church of all places on the Internet Bishops and priests alike, do you honestly think that is serving The Church? Be careful my brother. That's all I have to say.
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« Reply #33 on: July 13, 2013, 03:06:04 PM »

The site for this is currently in development: http://returntoorthodoxy.com/
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« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2013, 07:50:25 PM »

The site for this is currently in development: http://returntoorthodoxy.com/

+100

Nice work!
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« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2013, 10:06:15 PM »

Yeah, see, I never said that only the clergy have a role in the church. The people are the church, not just the clergy (who are a subset of the people). It is not Abouna who prays the Liturgy, it is the people, presided over by Abouna. We can't go be passive audience members. It is the work of the people, and we must do our work. We must obey our fathers in the Lord, and never follow them against Him. We are all together responsible for receiving, safeguarding, and transmitting the Orthodox faith.

You were saying that since St. Athanasius and St. Cyril (even if you hate our current hierarchy, can we at least show these pillars the respect of suitable titles?) called out  heretics by name and destroyed their "person and ideology". The implication being that therefore it is appropriate and necessary for you to do so.

I was pointing out that they are Patriarchs. We aren't. What's appropriate for them is not necessarily appropriate for us. Paternal correction must be done with great humility, respect, and love.

I'm all for beard pulling, anathematizing, first fights, stoning, whatever it takes to preserve Orthodoxy. When that point is reached. Not as a starting point.

Even St. Athanasius and St. Cyril didn't start there. They made every effort to reconcile and restore first. This type of hostility was necessary for the sake of the salvation of the people who were being lead astray only after every other means was exhausted. And then when it came time for drastic actions, they were patriarchs, so it was appropriate for them to anathematize and fight with every means. There are times when the laity rose up as a whole to defend Orthodoxy and reject innovation. But when did individual laymen stand up and attack their clergy "destroying their persons and ideologies"?

St. Paul said that he didn't realize it was the high priest he was addressing or he would have shown more respect. Ham uncovered Noah's nakedness and was cursed for it, while Shem and Japheth covered the nakedness of their father. Which should we emulate?

I am no politician. Thank you for demonstrating the weakness of your position by resorting to ad hominem attack... but in fact I'm quite unpopular for refusing to budge on Orthodox. In fact, I carried on a lengthy discussion with one of these priests at one of these churches in question, first in person, and then by email, until they no longer responded. I expressed my concerns with their approach quite frankly. To their face. And have had no hesitation addressing my concerns to other members of the clergy, who are aware of the problem, and who are approaching it in a prudent and patient way, with knowledge greater than ours. Do you think destroying their person and ideology on anonymously on an internet forum or website is more productive and appropriate?


1. I am called to follow the lead of the saints and not of politicians like you do.
    You are ignorant about history and you think that only clergy have a role in the Church. It is not so.

2. Cyril called Nestorius a serpent and St. Shenouda, a layman, slapped the serpent on his face in Ephesus. We are talking about certain principles and not about persons, it just so happens that these persons have violated the principles and are called out for their transgression. Your approach is to try to protect the heretics by talking about how we have to respect their heresy and person because at one point of time they have sneaked into priesthood. What you are doing is advocating their agenda.

3. I do not find any reference in the history of the church about respecting heretics. If you find one, let me know. Until you do, save me your lectures about respecting heretics.







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« Reply #36 on: July 14, 2013, 11:59:57 PM »

Weakness of my position?

This is my position:

Protestantism is destroying the church. The bishops and priests are either actively involved in spreading heresy or are behaving so cowardly by ignoring the problem and do nothing.

This is my approach:

Expose them and say the truth as it is, in public, in their face and on every public forum.

You are entitled to your position and to your own approach. I did not and have no intention to challenge your "respect all heretics" approach. Maybe it works for you, but it doesn't work for me.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2013, 12:01:24 AM by Stavro » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2013, 02:09:15 PM »

Just going by what I can find on Youtube about Oriental Orthodoxy vs. Protestantism, I think it would be extremely beneficial if someone with knowledge of both Amharic and English could provide English translations of the many, many videos coming out of the EOTC that address the encroachment of Protestantism upon Orthodoxy. Some appear to be quite in-depth in a way that I have not seen from my own church (I remember HH Pope Shenouda III addressing particular Protestant sects, but then his writings were never very well-translated, either).

For those of you who have never seen them, I am referring to videos like this one on the "Protestantawi Jihad" against Ethiopian Orthodoxy. The Tewahedo have made a lot of efforts against Protestantism, which is great to see given the success of various Protestant sects in Ethiopia, largely at the expense of Orthodoxy. We in the other OO churches ought to be doing the same, before we end up in a similar situation.


I remember when I was Lutheran hearing about the missions in Ethiopia.  We actually had a minister visit once in Chicago.  They had 2.3 million members in 2007 and 5.3 million baptized members in 2008, according to their claims (which the census figures back up), approaching 10% of the population (the Protestants all together are 18.6%, well over half the percentage of Muslims, and helping to push the Orthodox percentage below 50%.
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« Reply #38 on: August 09, 2013, 03:36:45 PM »

Thank you, brigidsboy!

We are now starting to add articles/videos/etc. to the site.

There's also a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/returntoorthodoxy
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« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2013, 02:35:10 PM »


We are now starting to add articles/videos/etc. to the site.

There's also a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/returntoorthodoxy

Ideally this site will serve as a resource bank for folks like Apu who are interested in addressing the spread of heterodox theology, materials and practice in their local parish.

If you think you have materials you'd like to contribute (articles, videos, audio files, etc.) please pm Suryoyutho or my weakness.

Above all, please pray for this service and that God may preserve His Church in Orthodoxy.  Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2013, 02:44:19 PM »

After receiving complaints from bishops, priests, and servants about a so-called “New Age Orthodoxy” movement in the Washington, DC area which incorporates Evangelical and Charismatic theology, materials and so-called “praise & worship” music into the life of the Coptic Orthodox Church, H.H. Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria has appointed a committee of three bishops to investigate the matter. Originally from the 5 April edition of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s official publication, el-Keraza magazine.

http://returntoorthodoxy.com/pope-tawadros-takes-stand-for-orthodoxy/
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« Reply #41 on: September 21, 2013, 01:17:50 PM »

It's not just the Copts, or the EO's associated with Fr. Eusebius A. Stephanou, who have experienced this.  In my internet meanderings, I encountered this blog about Charismatic influence in the Catholic Church:

http://charismatic-heresy.blogspot.com/

Just skimming this blog gives me the impression that the Charismatics have made significant inroads there. 

Could any Catholics here tell us of anything that is being done to combat this?  Are there any stories about this sort of thing being fought against, and what has worked or not worked?  I would imagine input from others who have already dealt with this sort of thing would be helpful.
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« Reply #42 on: September 21, 2013, 01:55:49 PM »

From what I've been able to find, the current Roman Pope appears to approve of such things. Not sure how that affects whatever might be done about the Charismatic Catholics, but I'll bet it's not so popular these days to speak against them these days. For whatever it's worth, I never encountered such people when I was RC (only later, and only on the internet), though it appears that there is a "Catholic Charismatic Center" here in ABQ. Maybe Wyatt can tell us about it, if he sees this. Needless to say, I don't like what I'm seeing at that webpage, though that's neither here nor there.


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« Reply #43 on: December 19, 2013, 05:25:52 PM »

In Fr. Peter Farrington's paper, "Protestant Attempts to Influence the Coptic Orthodox Church", he states:

...but even as recently as November, 2009, reports in the Egyptian press described a controversy between the Coptic Orthodox and Protestant communities caused by the revelation of CD which documented plans to try to convert the Coptic Orthodox community to Protestantism in just two decades[20].

[20] The International, Nov 10, 2009.
http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/evangelicals-woo-egyptian-c


The reference doesn't work. Does anyone have the details on this matter? Thanks.




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« Reply #44 on: December 19, 2013, 05:39:41 PM »

In Fr. Peter Farrington's paper, "Protestant Attempts to Influence the Coptic Orthodox Church", he states:

...but even as recently as November, 2009, reports in the Egyptian press described a controversy between the Coptic Orthodox and Protestant communities caused by the revelation of CD which documented plans to try to convert the Coptic Orthodox community to Protestantism in just two decades[20].

[20] The International, Nov 10, 2009.
http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/evangelicals-woo-egyptian-c


The reference doesn't work. Does anyone have the details on this matter? Thanks.


This looks like the full link:
http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/evangelicals-woo-egyptian-copts
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