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Author Topic: Ethiopian Evangelicals Excommunicated - reactions?  (Read 4820 times) Average Rating: 0
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Rho
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« on: February 02, 2005, 06:53:42 PM »

Hello all,

This article appears in the Feb 2005 issue of the Voice of the Martyrs monthly magazine.

---Recently a Christian from Ethiopia visited VOM's offices in the US with reports of extreme persecution on evangelical Christians there.  Christians face persecution on 2 fronts:  On one side is Islam, which covers 35% of the population and is growing; and on the other are Orthodox followers, who often combine various parts of Christianity, Judaism, spiritism and tribal religions into their practices. 
  Our contact told us that if a person from the O-dox church chooses to join an evangelical group, he is brought up before the church congregation and elders and urged to "return to the faith" and be re-baptised as an O-dox adherent.  If he refuses, then family members are told to kick him out of the house.  If they don't, then the whole family is kicked out of the church.
  Those believers who have been excommunicated in this way are no longer permitted to enter an O-dox church, not even to attend a wedding or funeral.  One Christian woman was beaten at a funeral when it was learned that she had become an evangelical.
  Evangelicals are so ostracised that no one will visit their house except other evangelicals.  Muslims and O-dox believe that the evangelicals are cursed.  O-dox adherents will not even walk along the same path as an evangelical until a priest can come and bless it to remove the curse.---
 
  So what do you think about this?  I know what you think about Evangelicals (a wide variety of things, as it happens), so ignore that part.  Try to think of these as well-meaning and slightly ignorant heterodox, like your friendly local Methodist. 
A few questions to help you mull it over:
1) Why is no one stepping in to stomp out these syncretistic beliefs?
2) If the priests are not doing their job to do so, why aren't they being dealt w/ by their superiors?
3) Why are their families urged to kick them out and are excomm'd if they don't?  What kind of "love of the brethren" is that?
4) Why can't they even go back to the O-dox church, even for a wedding or funeral? 
5) What is the deal w/ this "curse" thing?

I'm guessing that #4 and #5 will be explained as offshoots of the syncretism, which leads us back to the fact that the leadership is obviously involved.

I appreciate your thoughts, and would ask that you head off at the pass any thoughts of "well, this is just some fundy Prot NGO and doesn't deserve our respect."  Look into VOM's work and you'll probably be convinced otherwise.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2005, 06:56:50 PM »

I personally don't care for Evangelicals myself (obviously I do CARE for them....it's just a rhetorical phrase)....but what they are doing in Ethiopia is not Christian at all.

I think the OO Church should have a Council to denounce these acts as anti-Christian.
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2005, 07:14:20 PM »

A few questions to help you mull it over:

Well, these questions are reasonable only if you accept the story as true.  I am not sure how much truth there is in it since the author's presentation of Orthodoxy is lacking. 

1.  They need to go into more detail than "...Orthodox followers, who often combine various parts of Christianity, Judaism, spiritism and tribal religions into their practices" for me to talk about syncretism.  What they see as syncretism may simply be the Church "baptising" aspects of Ethiopian culture and making them Orthodox.  What do they see as "spiritist" and "tribal" about Ethiopian Orthodoxy?  Is it just practices, or do they allege that the theology is also skewed?  I am willing to guess that the author just doesn't understand what's going on, and so "thinks" it is some paganistic Christianity when in reality it's harmless apostolic (and thus authentic) Christianity...they probably think the RC's are paganistic, so why not Ethiopians? 

2.  Think about it in light of my answer to #1.     

3.  In one sense, if you leave the Church, the "schismatic" is no longer one's brother, but I won't go down that road. 

I don't know to what extent Protestants are preaching among the Orthodox in Ethiopia and converting people to a heretical faith.  Perhaps the Church there feels it must exercise "really tough love" in order to protect the flock from those who would take them away from the straight path; I've seen the effects of the opposite, where an Orthodox family sees a few members become Pentecostals, and everyone's OK with it--usually, more follow. 

4.  Again, technically, in all our Churches, non-Orthodox are not allowed past a certain point, both in the church building and in the liturgical celebration.  It's not done everywhere like that anymore, but it can be.  It's more of a pastoral call, and since I'm not there, I can't say what I'd do.  Perhaps they feel it is called for.  I won't defend it or attack it, not knowing what the Orthodox there are having to contend with. 

5.  I don't know about "curses".  It could just be a popular superstition, it's not a tenet of faith.     
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2005, 07:29:00 PM »

Rho,
Did you see that episode of the Amazing Race recently where they were in Lalibela Ethiopia (Antonius, settle down - this has a valid point  Wink)?  If so, what did you think of Ethiopian Christianity and the faithful/clergy?  Why do you think this way?
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2005, 08:32:14 PM »

Great Mor!
             
Thanks Bro, you said what I would have said except better.

Evengelicals; with all of their dollars, developmental projects, and pop culture are spreading like wildfire in Ethiopia. They are especially targeting Orthodox Christians. I don't think people understand the severity of the problem sometimes.

These Evangelicals (especially of the southern Baptist ignoramus variety) think everything Orthodox is pagan. They think hours prayer is pagan, they think the Liturgy is a magic book, refer to Ethiopian priests as "local wizards" and assert that one need to fall over backward and foam from the mouth to have the holy spirit (talk about pagan!) Antonious Nikolas had a discussion about their activities in Ethiopia on the African Orthodox website some time ago.

Try to think of these as well-meaning and slightly ignorant heterodox, like your friendly local Methodist.


No way! Evangelical groups are part and parcel of cultural imperialism. Missionary groups paved the way for colonialism long ago and pave the way for Orthodox to slip to heresy still. They use the money given by their laity in the west to start up renegade groups inside the Orthodox Church like "Tahadisso" to subvert doctrine and spread confusion and apostasy. It has always been their intention to eradicate real Christianity in Africa and destroy the Ethiopian Faith. They are enemies of the Church and enemies of Africa!

I do not know the statistics. All I know is my observations, reports I have received, and my personal experience. Most of the Protestant missionaries are American Bible-belt evangelicals. Those that I have met personally inside of Ethiopia are like Frank and Karon Auterson--from a split off group of Southern Baptists. Usually very ignorant about Orthodoxy and using financial incentives (like rug making projects) to win over poor converts. Karon thinks she is doing Ethiopia a favor by dressing up in traditional clothing while at the same time trying to bring down the Orthodox church and engage in sheep stealing. She looks like one of those British colonialists in India causing famines and killing people while at the same time wearing robes and turbans and speaking about their love for Indian culture. Give me a break.
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2005, 08:46:03 PM »

They...assert that one need to fall over backward and foam from the mouth to have the holy spirit

Hmm.  This need not be the Holy Spirit...it could be rabies.

Quote
No way! Evangelical groups are part and parcel of cultural imperialism. Missionary groups paved the way for colonialism long ago and pave the way for Orthodox to slip to heresy still. They use the money given by their laity in the west to start up renegade groups inside the Orthodox Church like "Tahadisso" to subvert doctrine and spread confusion and apostasy.  It has always been their intention to eradicate real Christianity in Africa and destroy the Ethiopian Faith. They are enemies of the Church and enemies of Africa!

Reading this kind of stuff makes me glad that I am blessed twice a day with the chance to pray:

Preserve, O God, the Holy Orthodox Faith and Orthodox Christians unto ages of ages.
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2005, 09:48:20 PM »

Quote
Evengelicals; with all of their dollars, developmental projects, and pop culture are spreading like wildfire in Ethiopia. They are especially targeting Orthodox Christians. I don't think people understand the severity of the problem sometimes. 

These Evangelicals (especially  of the southern Baptist ignoramus variety) think everything Orthodox is pagan. They think hours prayer is pagan, they think the Liturgy is a magic book, refer to Ethiopian priests as "local wizards" and  assert that one need to fall over backward and foam from the mouth to have the holy spirit (talk about pagan!) Antonious Nikolas had a discussion about their activities in Ethiopia on the African Orthodox website some time ago.

This reminds me of the American Missionaries in Syria during the late 1800s and early 1900s. They cannot even fathom that the oldest churches just might be different from theirs and that they might acctually be legeitamte. Unfortunately, unlike in the Syria, the Evangelicals are winning and weakening the church with their antiOrthodox rehetoric. These are also very different from ones before, I have noticed that the same Protestant churches that about the "glitz and glamor" of the "gaudy" Orthodox churches are just as bad, often worse, with the 'megachurches" and "give us money and ye shall be saved" lines. Its really sad.
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2005, 09:51:35 PM »



This reminds me of the American Missionaries in Syria during the late 1800s and early 1900s. They cannot even fathom that the oldest churches just might be different from theirs and that they might acctually be legeitamte. Unfortunately, unlike in the Syria, the Evangelicals are winning and weakening the church with their antiOrthodox rehetoric. These are also very different from ones before, I have noticed that the same Protestant churches that about the "glitz and glamor" of the "gaudy" Orthodox churches are just as bad, often worse, with the 'megachurches" and "give us money and ye shall be saved" lines. Its really sad.

Do they have "Praise bands"? i'd liek to sit in on a syrain "recreational christian" church one day..
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2005, 10:44:27 PM »

haha. I have no problem with a church doubling as a place of worship and a community center. I would encorage that. But the Protestants seem to ahve gone overboard. Its terrible in the States, how they have all these tv shows and whatnot. They have music videos and Jesus infomercials (big long avertisements that usually sell crummy appliances or hair care products) and the church services they show have people dancing. They rutinely call on Orthodox and Catholic churches as "wayward" and even compare it to satanic ritual. But then their services have dancing in the pews and speeking gibberish and seezures. That seems closer to what they describe IMO. Not to mention I am reading now about (I have yet to buy it myself) the Book of Mormon a major Protestant work that tells of how Jesus took a trip to South America and preached to the American Indians and this is why they thought Europeans were "gods" when they met them and how a man named John Smith was given magical gold tablets that noone but him was allowed to see. These "Mormons" are now one of the fastest growing Protestant groups. Huh :-  It is strange that the Protestant groups say we are "Decedant" and yet it Catholic and Orthodox leaders who often take oaths of poverty and devote their whole lives to nothing but the word and ministy. And their preachers drive BMWs and have mansions from their infomercials. YOu cannot trust such leaders with half a dinar I would say.
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2005, 10:54:58 PM »

Of course, when an EO (and I presume OO) faithful leaves the EO (in this case OO) church for another, s/he is voluntarily excommunicated.

In areas where the local church is such a part of the local culture it is no surprise that the community would react negatively.  Of course, violence is never right.  But, as with other things, why do we presume these people are well catechised?  Perhaps they are not. 

There are surely elements of truth to the accounts but I honestly doubt it is exactly are presented.
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2005, 11:28:56 AM »

Of course, when an EO (and I presume OO) faithful leaves the EO (in this case OO) church for another, s/he is voluntarily excommunicated.

Aklie Semaet and Mor Ephrem basically said what I was about to say, so instead of responding directly to the "Evangelical" propaganda piece, I 'll just co-sign what they wrote.

I have only this to add:

1.) As TonyS said, people who leave the Church to become "Evangelicals" have already excommunicated themselves.  They are no longer Orthodox.

2.) These reports of "oppression" by the Ethiopian Orthodox are greatly exagerrated if not out-right lies.  Breeze through a copy of Charisma magazine, and you can see almost identical allegations about the Orthodox "fighting the Holy Ghost" in Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Romania, Greece (especially during the Olympics), and so forth.

May God preserve His Church against the Wolf of Souls and his deluded henchmen.
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2005, 11:55:21 AM »



Aklie Semaet and Mor Ephrem basically said what I was about to say, so instead of responding directly to the "Evangelical" propaganda piece, I 'll just co-sign what they wrote.

I have only this to add:

1.) As TonyS said, people who leave the Church to become "Evangelicals" have already excommunicated themselves. They are no longer Orthodox.

2.) These reports of "oppression" by the Ethiopian Orthodox are greatly exagerrated if not out-right lies. Breeze through a copy of Charisma magazine, and you can see almost identical allegations about the Orthodox "fighting the Holy Ghost" in Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Romania, Greece (especially during the Olympics), and so forth.

May God preserve His Church against the Wolf of Souls and his deluded henchmen.

I agree, I didn't know this sort of thing was happening in Ethiopia, but it doesn't surprise me. I've seen the same things happening in Romania, predominantly with American Pentecostals (but also Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons - it almost never seems to be main stream Protestants) coming in and buying converts with such things as modern tractors and the like (I used to work in a very rural area near the border with the Ukraine).

Understandably, the people who convert to such churches are considered money-grubbing fake Christians and shunned by their Orthodox neighbours. This is particularly true in the villages where the church is usually the centre of everything. The fact that many of them also act as though they're part of some religious maffia also doesn't help. Whenever I've seen their outrage at the way they've been treated by the Orthodox I usually end up laughing - they usually treat the Orthodox far worse than they are treated by them.

Their missionaries also tend to be extremely ignorant. Have any of you ever seen anything so ridiculous as a missionary T-shirt with 'Preaching the Gospel where it has never been heard' printed above a picture of an Orthodox cathedral? I, unfortunately, have!

James
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2005, 01:27:51 PM »

Evengelicals; with all of their dollars, developmental projects, and pop culture are spreading like wildfire in Ethiopia. They are especially targeting Orthodox Christians. I don't think people understand the severity of the problem sometimes.

I have no doubt this is true.  However, statements like the following...

Quote
These Evangelicals (especially  of the southern Baptist ignoramus variety) think...that one need to fall over backward and foam from the mouth to have the holy spirit (talk about pagan!)

and

...the Protestants...have dancing in the pews and speeking gibberish and seezures.

and ESPECIALLY

I am reading now about (I have yet to buy it myself) the Book of Mormon a major Protestant work

show a very substantial ignorance on our part towards Evangelicals in general, and Baptists in particular.  What you are describing is a particular sect of Protestantism and, while the things they do are indeed heresy and downright dangerous and disturbing, the chaos you attribute to "Protestants" in no way descibes all under that banner.  Every Evangelical I know--myself formerly included--would hesitate to ally themselves too quickly with the charismatics and would run screaming from any attempt to be put in the same camp as the Mormons, God forbid.

Evangelicals are the lesser of many evils within Protestantism, I'd say.

I do not know the statistics. All I know is my observations, reports I have received, and my personal experience. Most of the Protestant missionaries are American Bible-belt evangelicals.  Usually very ignorant about Orthodoxy and using financial incentives (like rug making projects) to win over poor converts.

This I have seen myself...appealing to physical needs to "help them open up spiritually."  And they are often ignorant of the Christian confessions w/which they come into contact...when I went as an Evangelical missionary to South America, not only did we stay away from the Mormons (actually, we just saw their churches but they were nowhere to be found), but we were told to pray that God would "save the nuns" who ran the wonderful old folks home in the city we were in.  We went and "ministered" there only to have those who told us to pray such garbage put to shame when they saw the humility of these monastics.

We were told Catholics don't belive Jesus rose from the dead because "they still have him up on that cross!"  Many things that just aren't true.

Now, as for local customs, yeah, those existed.  May even exist in Ethiopia.  But I'm with Mor here; there's been enough distortion of what certain ethnic groups have themselves said they actually believed to suggest that I take the VOM article with a grain of salt.

It may be that the folks were ostracized by family.  Happened that way in the days of the Roman persecution when one went back out of the Faith.  Didn't the Lord say that if someone continues in error and tries to remain in the Church that we are to kick them out?

If they want to leave, it's their call.  Violence is uncalled for, no matter how much of it's going on.  But I would hesitate to say that the chicanery is one-sided here.

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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2005, 03:32:59 PM »



I agree, I didn't know this sort of thing was happening in Ethiopia, but it doesn't surprise me. I've seen the same things happening in Romania, predominantly with American Pentecostals (but also Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons - it almost never seems to be main stream Protestants) coming in and buying converts with such things as modern tractors and the like (I used to work in a very rural area near the border with the Ukraine).

Understandably, the people who convert to such churches are considered money-grubbing fake Christians and shunned by their Orthodox neighbours. This is particularly true in the villages where the church is usually the centre of everything. The fact that many of them also act as though they're part of some religious maffia also doesn't help. Whenever I've seen their outrage at the way they've been treated by the Orthodox I usually end up laughing - they usually treat the Orthodox far worse than they are treated by them.

Their missionaries also tend to be extremely ignorant. Have any of you ever seen anything so ridiculous as a missionary T-shirt with 'Preaching the Gospel where it has never been heard' printed above a picture of an Orthodox cathedral? I, unfortunately, have!

James

Wow James, they really printed that on a t-shirt above a picture of an Orthodox Church?  It would be downright laughable if it wasn't so dangerous spiritually.  This is indeed the very definition of rice-bowl Christianity.  But we should bear in mind that the Lord promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church.

Aklie, you used the right word: Imperialism.  This kind of thing is insulting on so many levels. The whole phenomena has overtones of cultural and religious imperialism.  How long will these folks look on the Orthodox lands as primitive, superstitious backwaters, mired in idolatry, and ripe for "evangelization"? I mean c'mon, there were great Christian saints and theologians emerging from Africa, the Middle East, India, and the Balkans centuries before the first Westerner ever set foot in what is now "The Bible Belt", or for that matter, North America in general.

I also remember the discussion you are talking about.  It began in response to an article about a "Charismatic" family from Texas "bringing the Gospel to Ethiopia" and using digital camcorders to wow the locals, after which they would bring them in to the "tent meeting".  I impressed the natives with my fancy technology.  Most of them had never seen their own picture!  Look, me make fire!  Ooooh!  My God powerful!  Now come in tent and get "saved".  How condescending can you get?

These guys trying to teach the Ethiopians about Christianity is like me coming into your house, sitting on your couch, and teaching you about the pictures in your family photo album.  You are also correct about their teaching people that you do not possess the "Holy Ghost" unless you fall out, talk "in tongues" and so forth.  I have had them tell me this personally, but then again, the guy who said it also seemed to have an almost pathological hatred of St. Mary.
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2005, 05:01:37 PM »

Whether these news are true or not, and I doubt the percentages and I share Antonio's Nikolas concern about the accuracy of the figures from the misrepresentation of Orthodoxy, there is no doubt that Protestant movements try to snatch the believers to fall in their heresies everywhere.

Quote
Evengelicals; with all of their dollars, developmental projects, and pop culture are spreading like wildfire in Ethiopia. They are especially targeting Orthodox Christians. I don't think people understand the severity of the problem sometimes.
We have faced some of this in Egypt, where the Protestants with their top dollars found it easy to preach to Orthodox instead of muslims (the original target of their missions) for they do not have to struggle with all the doctrines like Trinity and so on. Moreover, while the Orthodox Church is persecuted daily in all hostility, the Protestant churches have many links to the government and have no problems in obtaining permission for their worship places.

I am not shifting attention away from our dear brothers the Ethiopian, but the only way this movements can be ended or their influence confronted is by :
- Teaching: The didache tells us: "Remit the sin by teaching". It requires top hierarchs of the Church to make sure first that all clergy are sound Orthodox, and excommunicate those who are not. In addition, in areas afflicted by this plaque various bishops of ability to teach should intensify their visits in those areas.
- Excommunication: Actually, those who accept Protestant teachings, and do not listen to repeated Orthodox preachings, should be excommunicated. There is no other way. The door for repentance should be always open if they truly come back.
- Attack: Fearing to be labeled close-minded or hostile to our "brothers" the Protestants, who snatch the sheep, we often resort to a self destructive method of appeasing them. One has to vigourously and with determination attack their doctrine, express why Protestants are not christians and are not saved, and expose their low methods of conversions.
- Social services: While the Church is not built on the social services, rather on faith, yet the heretic find this way open through their top dollars. If closed, even partially, for the competition is very tough, it will strangle these movements.
- Prayer: Should come at the top of the list, of course. Like Bishop St.Alexander prayed when Arius was about to enter in triumph and pray in an Orthodox Church, and God listened to him and struck Arius down, pray for the safety of the Orthodox Church.

May the Lord keep the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia safe.
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2005, 05:14:21 PM »


Amen my dearest brother Stavro!  What a wonderful post!  May God bless you, and spread your ideas to all Orthodox seeking to combat this insidious infestation!
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2005, 06:53:54 PM »

Quote
show a very substantial ignorance on our part towards Evangelicals in general, and Baptists in particular.  What you are describing is a particular sect of Protestantism and, while the things they do are indeed heresy and downright dangerous and disturbing, the chaos you attribute to "Protestants" in no way descibes all under that banner.  Every Evangelical I know--myself formerly included--would hesitate to ally themselves too quickly with the charismatics and would run screaming from any attempt to be put in the same camp as the Mormons, God forbid.

I am not talking about Baptists, I am talking about the "spirt filled" services they air on television. Obviously not all of the Protestants behave this way, when I lived in Sweden I saw very boring looking Lutheran sevices. Appearantly it is true that many people do not associate with Mormons, but they are Protestants nonethe less and their book is major as it is the basis for their system with in Protestantism.
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2005, 11:15:58 PM »

the chaos you attribute to "Protestants" in no way describes all under that banner

Of course it doesn’t and no one ever said that they did. The topic of this thread is the Protestants in Ethiopia and in Ethiopia that is what most Protestants are. The Amharic word for Protestant is Pente which of course derives from Pentecostal. The way you say cereal is Corn Flakes (don’t forget to roll the r) and the way you say toothpaste is colgate. When a particular brand dominates a certain product then the brand name become the generic name. At present to be a Protestant in Ethiopia means to be a charismatic. It means to go to Church and await for the Holy Spirit to touch you so you can jump up and down and start speaking some language that no one can interpret.

I know there is diversity in Protestantism. Heck, with over 35,000 sects, cults, and splinter groups there better be diversity. Some are more orthodox in doctrine than others. The oldest ones are even liturgical. But they are all sacramental. They share common sacraments “The Sacrament of the Church Choir,” “The Sacrament of the Sermon,” and can’t forget “The Sacrament of the Offering Tray.” Some throw into this “The Sacrament of Baptism by the Spirit” and some “The Sacrament of the Altar Prayer.”

But we are not talking about the diversity of Protestants but the attempt to destroy the heritage of Orthodoxy.

Evangelicals are the lesser of many evils within Protestantism, I'd say.


Which evil is the lesser is debatable: Charismatics trying to openly steal sheep and destroy the Church or the sly behavior of those traditional mainline Protestant denominations that fund renegade “reform” movements inside Church with a “destroy from within” approach?

The “Tahidiso” (reformers) movement that I mentioned earlier are backed by mainline Protestants. I know similar groups are trying similar tricks in Syria now as they did in Ethiopia during the 90’s. That is why the Syrian Patriarch just put out an edict banning these types of groups in the Orthodox Church. They start off by having “bible study groups” which quickly degenerate into complaints about the Orthodox Church and then end up in Protestant conversions. I know that mainline Protestants send in their converts undercover into the Coptic Church trying to get converts. Worst of all is the mainline Protestants creating the Mar Thoma “reformed” Christians in India by far the biggest group of Protestant defectors in Orthodoxy. One can call that the lesser evil but just like Malcolm X said about lesser evils in politics applies here as well. One is a fox, the other a wolf—both canines. No matter which one you choose you end up in the doghouse.
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« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2005, 04:27:55 AM »


The Amharic word for Protestant is Pente which of course derives from Pentecostal. The way you say cereal is Corn Flakes (don’t forget to roll the r) and the way you say toothpaste is colgate. When a particular brand dominates a certain product then the brand name become the generic name. At present to be a Protestant in Ethiopia means to be a charismatic. It means to go to Church and await for the Holy Spirit to touch you so you can jump up and down and start speaking some language that no one can interpret.


That was interesting! In Romanian they do the same sort of thing ('adidasi' are trainers/sneakers, 'blugi' - from blue jeans - are jeans and so on). Mainstream Protestants like Lutherans or Anglicans are known as 'protestanti', but the word for the various sects I described is 'pocahiti'. This word comes from the name of a 19th century sect that believed that it didn't matter what sins you committed or whether you continued committing them, just so long as you confessed them to God afterwards. I believe the sect was confined to Hungary and Romania. Personally, I find it a useful distinction (and certainly use it when I speak Romanian, though it is considered somewhat insulting by the sects themselves). Nobody really has too much of a problem with normal mainstream Protestants (experiences may be different in other countries, though) but a sharp distinction is made between them and the 'pocahiti' - Mormons, Pentecostals, JWs and the like. It's a shame we don't have a similar distinction in English. Then you could distinguish between the relatively harmless (I think of Anglican vicars here) and the downright dangerous.

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« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2005, 07:51:51 AM »

I am not talking about Baptists, I am talking about the "spirt filled" services they air on television.

Well, OK, but one of your quotes linked the two together.

But I'm a (probably overly-sensitive) ex-Baptist.  So, yeah, I'll drop it.  Not the topic here.

I can definitely see the harm coming from the charismatics...what about the more Evangelical types?
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« Reply #20 on: February 04, 2005, 01:52:51 PM »

Two things...

1) The criticisms of Ethiopian Orthodoxy being part "spiritism" and "part Judaism" is based on the ignorance of the Evangelicals in question.  It's likely that many of the early Ethiopian Christians were from the Falashas, or Ethiopian Jewry, and like many early Hebrew-Christians (all of whom were eventually absorbed into the "mainstream" so to speak), retained quite a few of the Judaic customs of their forefathers (circumcision, observance of Saturday & Sunday, big emphasis upon the Ark of the Covenant, etc.)  As for the "spiritism" part, I suspect this charge would probably be leveled at other Orthodox as well - simply a misunderstanding of the significance of such practices as venerating the Saints, praying for the dead, the use of sacramentals, etc.

2) While it certainly would be the "exacting" approach, the reality is that the Gospel of St.Matthew puts an injunction for Christians to shun the excommunicated man upon the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself...

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (St.Matthew 18:17-18)

Like so many things, there is "exactitude" and "leniency", a well known principle in Orthodox discipline.  It would seem the Ethiopians, faced very directly with sects who think nothing of speaking of their faith in the most unflattering way, and actively engaged in "sheep stealing", are practicing the exacting approach (and given the circumstances, I'm inclined to believe it's probably the prudent choice.)

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« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2005, 04:10:30 PM »

Given the patent lack of outrage, I'm getting the impression that it's cool with you if the church excommunicates the WHOLE FAMILY if they refuse to kick out their family member who converted.

Why is it OK to kick the *whole family* out of the church just b/c they don't want their family member to die?
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« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2005, 04:28:23 PM »

I belive it was stated earlier that the claims are probably be exaggerated, as many times they are. 

I personally think it's overly exaggerated and insulting when protestants send missionaries to Orthodox countries in order to "preach the Gospel" and "save souls" when the work has already been undertaken.  It's as if they are unaware or dont want to be aware that the Church is Christian. 

And saving souls?  Is that not ultimately God's decision? One should not presume anything about his destiny.  It is that humility that keeps us strving for the Light, and keeps the light growing.  It grows by struggle and hardship, God refining us every step of the way.  The idea of "once saved, always saved", proported by many protestant sects does not hold water in light of the Gospels that they hold dear.  Salvation according to whom?  Every sect and even every person, even in the most traditional sects, seems to have an opinion on the subject.  And many times, you will find people being a mixed bag of beliefs, changeing in light of a new opinion or new "eveidence". 

No, I don't think it would be right to kick someone out of the house if one was not orthodox.  But consider the source and it's bias.  Even this one!  Smiley


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« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2005, 04:36:16 PM »

Given the patent lack of outrage, I'm getting the impression that it's cool with you if the church excommunicates the WHOLE FAMILY if they refuse to kick out their family member who converted.

Why is it OK to kick the *whole family* out of the church just b/c they don't want their family member to die?

Before I'd even begin to answer that question, I would want to know on good authority that this was indeed what was happening. Perhaps from an impartial source, not from an organization/publication that is ALWAYS accusing the Orthodox Church (in Eastern Europe and elsewhere) of "persecuting" the "Christian Church" by which they mean "Born Again, Slain in the Spirit Evangelicals". VOM is by no means an impartial source, and I would say that like Charisma and other such publications, they tend to sensationalize these reports.

Go to their website (http://www.persecution.net/) and enter the words "Orthodox Church" in their search engine. Most of the articles that pop up cast the Orthodox Church in the role of the persecutor, whether it be in Russia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, or elsewhere. Most of the articles also slander the Church, accusing it of idolatry, witchcraft, and the like. I trust these "Born Again" publications to give me an accurate appraisal of what is happening in the Orthodox world as much as I'd trust Joe Goebbels to give me an impartial report on the merits of Semitic culture.

Furthermore, even the title of this thread is somewhat problematic: "Ethiopian Evangelicals Excommunicated - reactions?"  As if that is at all unusual or inappropriate.  What if it was: "Ethiopian Catholics Excommunicated - reactions?" or "Ethiopian Mormons Excommunicated - reactions?"  The reaction should be the same: If someone leaves the Church, they excommunicate themselves.  Just because the "Evangelicals" see themselves as being "non-denominational" or "generic Christians" that can be a part of any church, that doesn't make it so.

P.S. - Augustine, thanks for the great post!  I agree 100%!
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« Reply #24 on: February 04, 2005, 04:40:20 PM »

Why is it OK to kick the *whole family* out of the church just b/c they don't want their family member to die?

I don't recall from the story that the family members who broke away from the Church in favour of Protestantism were in danger of losing their lives, causing their families to feel pity on them and not kick them out, leading the Church to excommunicate everyone involved.  Is this JUST the kind of exaggeration others (including myself) are concerned about? 
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« Reply #25 on: February 04, 2005, 05:09:49 PM »

Good points, Ian, Antonious and (especially) Mor here:

I don't recall from the story that the family members who broke away from the Church in favour of Protestantism were in danger of losing their lives...Is this JUST the kind of exaggeration others (including myself) are concerned about?

I was thinking the same thing; no where does it say they were being martyred--there was a woman beaten, according to the article, but how did the hierarchs react to that action? Was it sanctioned by the elders of the parish? Or was it denounced immediately afterwards? We don't know.

To echo Antonious: they weren't just excommunicated; they cut themselves off from the Church.
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« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2005, 05:27:30 PM »

Quote
Ian Lazarus--- I personally think it's overly exaggerated and insulting when protestants send missionaries to Orthodox countries in order to "preach the Gospel" and "save souls" when the work has already been undertaken.  It's as if they are unaware or dont want to be aware that the Church is Christian.
>>That is the whole point of missionary work, to "save souls."  Why does the EOC, then, undertake missionary work?
And it is not that Prots are unaware that the EOC is Christian.  It's that there is unsureness of whether an Orthodox believer possesses a faith that saves, a justifying faith.  When you get right down to it, you believe that about Prots too.

Quote
Ian Lazarus---And saving souls?  Is that not ultimately God's decision? One should not presume anything about his destiny. 
>>You sound like one of those scary Calvinists.  Wink

Quote
Ian Lazarus---Salvation according to whom?  Every sect and even every person, even in the most traditional sects, seems to have an opinion on the subject.
>>Of course.  So do you.  Salvation for me is what the Scr says.  Salvation for you is what the EOC says.  Salvation for a Branch Davidian is what David Koresh says. 

Quote
Ian Lazarus---No, I don't think it would be right to kick someone out of the house if one was not orthodox. 
>>Does everyone else agree?  Or would you excomm the family for not kicking the family member out of the house?

Quote
Antonious Nikolas---Perhaps from an impartial source, not from an organization/publication that is ALWAYS accusing the Orthodox Church (in Eastern Europe and elsewhere) of "persecuting" the "Christian Church" by which they mean "Born Again, Slain in the Spirit Evangelicals".
>>That is not true. 
They mean "Born Again believers," yes, but you are engaging in the invalid debating tactic called "poisoning the well."  You said "slain in the spirit" b/c you are trying to debase those making the accusation that makes you uncomfortable by calling them all crazy charismatics. 
That's the 1st time I've heard SoBaps and "slain in the spirit" end up in the same context!

Quote
Antonious Nikolas--- Most of the articles that pop up cast the Orthodox Church in the role of the persecutor, whether it be in Russia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, or elsewhere.
>>And it is just unTHINKable that that could be true!  Given that you cannot bring yourself to condemn this action of kicking people out of their homes for changing their religion, it doesn't sound so far off to me.
I suppose next you will try to make the point that most of the people in E Europe and Russia are indeed faithful EOs.  I don't know if I would want to claim that if I were you, given the widespread implications.  I don't claim that the majority or even 15% of Americans are born-again. 

Quote
Antonious Nikolas--- I trust these "Born Again" publications to give me an accurate appraisal of what is happening in the Orthodox world as much as I'd trust Joe Goebbels to give me an impartial report on the merits of Semitic culture.
>>I hope you were using hyperbole and obvious exaggeration to make a point.
If not, you may count yourself among the shrill masses who scream "Hitler!" and "Nazi!" at the slightest provocation or disagreement.  You, sir, are crying wolf.  But I'm sure the people at VOM will be happy to know that they are Goebbels.  I wonder where around Bartlesville, OK, they buried the millions of bodies?

Quote
Antonious Nikolas--- The reaction should be the same: If someone leaves the Church, they excommunicate themselves.
>>That's not the question.  I think you have answered it though - you support the excommunication of the WHOLE FAMILY if they do not force the apostate Orthodox to leave the house.  Very nice. 

Quote
Mor Ephrem---I don't recall from the story that the family members who broke away from the Church in favour of Protestantism were in danger of losing their lives, causing their families to feel pity on them and not kick them out, leading the Church to excommunicate everyone involved.  Is this JUST the kind of exaggeration others (including myself) are concerned about? 
>>Are you proposing that getting kicked out of one's house in Ethiopia is similar to getting kicked out of one's house in the affluent West? 

Quote
Pedro---there was a woman beaten, according to the article, but how did the hierarchs react to that action?  Was it sanctioned by the elders of the parish?  Or was it denounced immediately afterwards?  We don't know.
>>Would you indeed, then, repudiate this action?  Why not?  And don't forget to take into account the reactions of the other posters up until now in this thread.
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« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2005, 05:41:46 PM »

Salvation for me is what the Scr says. Salvation for you is what the EOC says. Salvation for a Branch Davidian is what David Koresh says.

Wow. :scratch: Must be nice to have it laid out that simply.

>>That's not the question. I think you have answered it though - you support the excommunication of the WHOLE FAMILY if they do not force the apostate Orthodox to leave the house. Very nice.

Talk about not being the question...he never said he supported that. You're putting words in his mouth.

>>Would you indeed, then, repudiate this action? Why not?

WOW. You ask me a question, then presume my answer. As you said: Very nice.

And don't forget to take into account the reactions of the other posters up until now in this thread.

Would those be the "reactions" you have painted for the others?
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« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2005, 07:02:17 PM »

Quote
Must be nice to have it laid out that simply.
>>It is, thanks.

Quote
Talk about not being the question...he never said he supported that.  You're putting words in his mouth.
>>You probably meant "not answering the question."
Has he not had multiple chances to repudiate it?  He can put words in his own mouth if he should so choose.

Quote
WOW.  You ask me a question, then presume my answer.  As you said: Very nice.
>>Sorry...didn't mean to get you in a tizzy.
How about this:  Why or why not?
I do note that you didn't answer the question, though.  Would you mind?

Quote
Would those be the "reactions" you  have painted for  the others?
>>Did you read the same posts I did?  Yes, yes, I know: "Of course, Rho.  What were YOU reading?"
Perhaps it was the allusions to Goebbels, slain in the spirit Southern Baptists, and other strangeness that put me on the edge.  But I'll be interested to see the answers to those...
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« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2005, 07:16:51 PM »

Dear Rho:

">>That is the whole point of missionary work, to "save souls." Why does the EOC, then, undertake missionary work?
And it is not that Prots are unaware that the EOC is Christian. It's that there is unsureness of whether an Orthodox believer possesses a faith that saves, a justifying faith. When you get right down to it, you believe that about Prots too."

Missionary work in the Orthodox Church and in many Protestant denomination does not mean the same thing. Missionary work for the Orthodox at its very heart is to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, be in constant prayer, and to do good works whilst in worship. The Great Commission takes place through one's life, and if one should ask, we gladly tell. Many protestant circles (and being a former protestant I have observed and experienced it) means building a house or going into a poor neighbourhood and and handing out food, sometimes giving a bible away and preaching for a bit, other times giving money or food if one learns the verse or comes to the prayer meetings. It seemed manipulative, in my eye, that one should have to do this. The Word of God (which is Christ, not the Bible) and his worship should be enough.

Asa justifying faith goes, what do you entail as justification? Justification is not the goal of the Christian faith, but transformation (theosis). God became a man that we might become like unto Him. That is the gift he offers. His death was the commitment of shattering sin and death. His Resurrection proved to us that is was done and would occur if we believe on Him. The Church can confidently offer this, because of the examples of Her Saints who lived in the Light of Christ, and conquered. But it remains ones decision to follow it.    

" >>You sound like one of those scary Calvinists. "

Waht is so calvinistic about not being presumptuous about your ultimate bideing? "Once Saved, Always Saved" is not biblical at all. St. Paul speaks of those in Hebrews about those who are not vigilant falling away from the faith. We do not presume in the Church about our faith. We simply live the best we can according to the example and teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Saints, ergo thsoe who actually made it to what we call Theosis, or becoming Godlike, sharing in his Eternal and Uncreated energies through struggle and prayer. Calvin did not preach such. His was the precursor to the full doctrine of predestination wherein if you seem successfull upon earth, you are saved, and if you are not, you have the mark of damnation upon you. The scriptures contradict this. Remember, "It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than to enter the Kingdom of God." The Church has always said it was possible, but it requires discepline. And with countless examples, it has been proven.

 
 ">>Of course. So do you. Salvation for me is what the Scr says. Salvation for you is what the EOC says. Salvation for a Branch Davidian is what David Koresh says."

And whom interprets the scriptures? Who has the power to alone? None. Read St. Peter's second letter. "Knowing this first, that NO prophecy of schipture is of any private interpretation: for the prophey came not in old times by will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy ghost. (2 Peter, 1:20-21)". " And also in his Epistles, speakin in them of these things, in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scrpitures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter, 3: 16)". Christ did not leave behind a Bible. He left behind a body of believers whos belife was concilliatory by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The scriptures are a product of the Church, not the other way around. They are the product of the movement of the Holy Spirit which spoke with one voice in everything. And so the Orthodox Church, in keeping with the Scripture and the Tradition of the Apostles, given to us by them, and they by the Holy Trinity, practice the unbroken faith that the Spirit showed and continue to show his Body, which has never veered from the truth and speaks with one voice. We trust that though we as individuals and as a whole are flawed, that God has keps and continues to keep His word. Scripture and tradition are inseperable. So the Church speaking conciliarly is infallible, for it is guided by the Holy Spirit.

Again, when I was a protestant, I did not see the same things. I saw that everyone had their opinions and they stuck to them, even in debate. In the words of Clark Carlton, "Is the Holy Spirit schizophrenic?". Does he speak with many opinions or with a resoundiong voice of fact?

">>Does everyone else agree? Or would you excomm the family for not kicking the family member out of the house?"

If I were apriest, and I am not, I would consult my bishop. What he would say would go. But I seriously doubt it would invove excommunicating an entire family. The traditions is conciliar, but the journey fo faith is individual. If one chooses to exommunicate hinself, its not his family's fault. It's his. Understand that taking communion which is the true Body and Blood of Christ is communion with the Holy Spirit, and as I mentioned above, what He has shown us. To be out of accord with it is to be out of communion.

Know, friend, this is not a persecution, but you tone is an accusitive one. What does it profit you to be thus? Do not judge the faith by a single report. As my priest invites all, come and see. Smiley God Bless you.

Peace.

Ian Lazarus :grommit:      

 
   
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« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2005, 07:38:39 PM »

>>That is the whole point of missionary work, to "save souls." Why does the EOC, then, undertake missionary work?

Orthodox "missionary work" is qualitatively different than the kinds of tactics that Aklie, myself, jmbedjl, and others have described in this thread. The Orthodox never try to set up "Tahidisso" style fifth columns in Protestant churches. Ian Lazarus already described our missionary witness quite eloquently, so I see no need to elaborate further.

And it is not that Prots are unaware that the EOC is Christian. It's that there is unsureness of whether an Orthodox believer possesses a faith that saves, a justifying faith. When you get right down to it, you believe that about Prots too.

Oh please! They invest all of that money and effort just because they're "not sure"? It is obvious to anyone who reads their literature that they are quite "sure" that we are a bunch of Mary-worshipping, relic-obsessed, icon kissers, who are no more Christian than a practicioner of voodoo. Shouldn't they be "sure" before they embark on the endeavor in the first place?

And as for "justifying faith", again, please see Ian Lazarus' post.


>>Of course. So do you. Salvation for me is what the Scr says. Salvation for you is what the EOC says. Salvation for a Branch Davidian is what David Koresh says.


 Cheesy Very funny! You get on me about the "slain in the spirit" thing, and then you go and make a comment like this! For you it is the Holy Scriptures, for us and the Branch Davidians, it is the word of our mortal leaders! Unbelievable!

>>Does everyone else agree? Or would you excomm the family for not kicking the family member out of the house?

Again, no reliable source has ever confirmed that this has even happened, just the propaganda machine, and as you can see their word just isn't good enough for us.

>>That is not true.
They mean "Born Again believers," yes, but you are engaging in the invalid debating tactic called "poisoning the well." You said "slain in the spirit" b/c you are trying to debase those making the accusation that makes you uncomfortable by calling them all crazy charismatics.
That's the 1st time I've heard SoBaps and "slain in the spirit" end up in the same context!

Actually, all I was doing was clarifying who the authors of these anti-Orthodox publications are talking about when they talk of "Christians". They obviously don't include the Orthodox Christians in their definition. And in case you didn't notice, the Southern Baptists are not the exclusive topic of this conversation, but also the Charismatics and other Pentes who send missionaries to "evangelize" lands that have been evangelized since the Apostolic era.

>>And it is just unTHINKable that that could be true!
Given that you cannot bring yourself to condemn this action of kicking people out of their homes for changing their religion, it doesn't sound so far off to me.

Talk about engaging in fallacious debating tactics! Since the posters on this board don't accept your source material as valid, and hence won't condemn the people you want them to condemn WITHOUT PROOF, then the Orthodox Church must be guilty of persecuting the Protestants. Roll Eyes

I suppose next you will try to make the point that most of the people in E Europe and Russia are indeed faithful EOs. I don't know if I would want to claim that if I were you, given the widespread implications. I don't claim that the majority or even 15% of Americans are born-again.

Now you erect a strawman and proceed to knock it down by making fallacious arguments and trying to force them into my mouth. Were "poisoning the well" and "hyperbole" the only things you learned in debate club?

And just as an aside, why do you say that not even 15% of Americans are born again?  What about all of those Roman Catholics and Orthodox who are born again through Baptism?  Or doesn't that count?

>>I hope you were using hyperbole and obvious exaggeration to make a point.
If not, you may count yourself among the shrill masses who scream "Hitler!" and "Nazi!" at the slightest provocation or disagreement. You, sir, are crying wolf. But I'm sure the people at VOM will be happy to know that they are Goebbels. I wonder where around Bartlesville, OK, they buried the millions of bodies?

This is barely worth responding to, but I think you already know that I was not accusing VOM of mass murder. Of course I was using hyperbole to make a point. Calm down and think about it for a minute. Goebbels wasn't a mass-murderer, he was a propagandist. Are you beginning to see why the comparison was made? The fact is that the Orthodox Churches are not the ogres that these Protestant publications make them out to be, just as the targets of Goebbel's propaganda were not what he made them out to be.

>>That's not the question. I think you have answered it though - you support the excommunication of the WHOLE FAMILY if they do not force the apostate Orthodox to leave the house. Very nice.

Once again, you try to put words into my mouth, and again I must tell you that I don't even know if anyone was ever put out of their house over this. The only source for this accusation is an article from a publication which routinely slams the Orthodox, which claims that the Ethiopian Orthodox "combine various parts of Christianity, Judaism, spiritism and tribal religions into their practices", something I know to be completely false. How can you expect us to accept this source, much less condemn people over it?
« Last Edit: February 04, 2005, 08:35:55 PM by Antonious Nikolas » Logged

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« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2005, 01:59:29 AM »

>>It is, thanks.

Then let me ask you this: why on earth are you here at this site?  I know, I know: I told you about this site.  But seriously: if you're so thoroughly convinced that your doctrine is based simply on the Scriptures and no derivitive thereof, and that we (at best!) merely listen to humans and their off-base doctrine without a passing glance to holy Scripture, then why bother even asking for our opinions?  They seem to be summarily dismissed, with "conclusions" we never concurred to being prematurely set forth by you.

Honestly, bro...I expected more tact, more respect for others (and me) than that comparison afforded.   I guess you're just here to pick a fight?

If so, I'm personally not interested.  Have fun at Catholic Answers.

---------------------------
(Edited to clear up two things Rho asked me)

Quote
>>You probably meant "not answering the question."
Has he not had multiple chances to repudiate it?  He can put words in his own mouth if he should so choose.

No, I meant "being the question."  He said something to you, you said that that "wasn't the question," then proceeded to reply to something he never asked.  That was not "being the question," if you will.  And he put words in his own mouth just fine in his last post, I thought.

Quote
How about this:  Why or why not?
I do note that you didn't answer the question, though.  Would you mind?

OK...you're right that it's not the same to be kicked out of one's house in Ethiopia as it is in Middle America.  There are definitely more places you can go if that happens here.  However, neither is the situation comprable from the Orthodox family's point of view.  They're under attack from muslims, they're under attack (in their eyes) from Protestants, and they can't afford to play live-and-let-live.  It's like it was in the Roman persecutions...you put your faith even before your family.  Audra's (my wife, for those of you who don't know) saint is Natalya, whose husband Adrian converted to the faith after being in the Roman legion.  He was imprisoned, but allowed to go home one last time to say goodbye.  When Natalya saw him coming, she barred the door, refusing him entry, thinking he had denied Christ.  Her own husband!

All that to say that if the point can be made that it is unusually cruel to oust someone in such severe situations, it can also be made that those who consider the act as a betrayal in the same severe situations can act in an equally unusual way.  Would I do that here in the US?  No.  But I'm not where they are and don't serve as a very good judge of their values whilst sitting in front of my PC in my house in Fort Worth, protected by my country's Constitution.

If all else failed, I suppose the ousted person could stay with his or her fellow Pentecostal brethren.  That certainly would be the Christian thing for them to do....
« Last Edit: February 05, 2005, 02:01:07 AM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2005, 12:18:12 PM »

Evangelicals are blind to the existence and truth of Orthodoxy.  Just watch TBN for a few minutes and have a good laugh. 
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« Reply #33 on: February 12, 2005, 12:54:30 PM »

I sincerely hope that you don't believe TBN to be anything like true evangelicalism.
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« Reply #34 on: February 12, 2005, 01:08:26 PM »

I sincerely hope that you don't believe TBN to be anything like true evangelicalism.

Seriously, guys; Rho's right.  Having come from both camps I can tell you that charismatic--which is more what TBN is--and Evangelical--which you're more likely to see here, here and here--are really completely different animals and they DON'T like being put together (at least, the Evangelicals don't like being lumped together w/charismatics, though they may both be active in foreign missions).

The evangelical and Baptist churches I grew up in railed against TBN, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, name-it-and-claim-it, prosperity crap all the time.  It'd be better not to confuse the two.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2005, 01:08:41 PM by Pedro » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: February 14, 2005, 01:46:57 PM »

Stuff like this makes me wonder... do the evangelical "missionaries" even bother consulting the Orthodox Church before barging in and slinging out copies of that ever-popular Jesus video?

(okay, i know that last bit was sarcastic, but as an ex-evangelical myself i am curious as to the real question i am asking... does Evangelical America ever stop to consider that they may not have the "majority shareholding" of the Gospel?)
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« Reply #36 on: February 14, 2005, 03:12:33 PM »

... does Evangelical America ever stop to consider that they may not have the "majority shareholding" of the Gospel?)

I know I never did; I had to get blindsided...
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« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2005, 04:09:43 PM »

Hello all,

May God be with all of you.

First I would like to begin by saying that the topic of Evangelical Christian vs. Orththodox Christianity has been a topic of interest for me for more than a year so far. I have done so much soul searching, researching about different sects of Chrisitianity, history of Christianity and so and so forth to come up to a conclusion about this topic. If I may share some of my discoveries from my earnest prayers and discoveries;

First of all, I would like to point out to everyone that attempting to find truth and salavation in religion is really a waste of time. Some of you have mentioned that the bible is subject to interpretation. I agree fully in this notion. However, there are certain facts that are universal. Perhaps the universal topics might act as a leverage to an understanding of other ways of interpretations and such. Primarily, let's agree that the bible is our guidance in life and it is written by the guidance of the holly spirit. If you all really read the bible from spiritual lenses rather than trying to prove/disprove other relgions, it will change your lives and indeed, it has changed mine! The bible says that those who live in God’s love live in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4:16. Therefore, it can be deduced that salvation is only through the bestowal of God's love upon the soul of human beings. Without the involvement of the soul, we really are just followers of rules/laws and we may have starved our soul. Now, it can be argued that there are some Orthodox members that have involved their soul in connecting with God however, there exists several memebers of the Orthodox church that follow creeds, rules and laws and never involve their soul in connecting with God. Their intent might be all Christian but their soul is not in unison with God's love. It is only when one involves their soul that one can recieve the holly spirit's guidance and you will no longer be a prinsoner of rules but all God's rules become so automatic to you. Don't you all want to do good deeds to those that you really love??? I am sure you all do. Therefore, it is imperative for all to read and live the first commandment of God "love your God with all your heart and soul". This really is the key element to reach salvation.

Second, let's remember that religion is man made but spirituality is not! Let's connect to this amazing and loving God by the involvement of our spirits. Let's not be bound to some cultures just because we have inherited them from our forefathers. Ofcourse there are some culturual practices that can enhance our lives but let's not compromise the bible with man made cultural rules. When we defend a religious sect, let's first question to see how it has enhanced our lives. Let's first ask, "does the fact that I belong to this church enhancing my life??? Has my church made my fellow citizens spiritually enlightened or spiritually delusional? How has people's life style changed as a result of going to this church? What am I really defending?

I believe these questions are necessary for us to reflect upon prior to passing some judgements about other sects of Christianity.

Thank you all and may the love of God be with you all!

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« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2005, 06:00:21 PM »

Misrak,

First of all...welcome!  Glad to have you on the forum!

Secondly...thanks for your thoughts.  It's good of you to come right out and express your thoughts as a "newbie."

Just as a response to your thoughts...I'd agree that, if religion is an end in and of itself, then you're right: it's a waste of time.  I like your emphasis on connecting with God as the point of it all. 

I would offer, perhaps, the "other side of the coin" here: the rules of the Orthodox faith have actually been put in place by holy men and women of ages past who were guided by the Holy Spirit and, by these rules, were able to attain theosis.  If our goal is union with God, these rules (which really just means a sort of spiritual "regimen" we get on) become something God uses to save us.

It's all about WHY you do something, it seems to me.
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