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Author Topic: non-Orthodox "infiltrating" a church  (Read 1667 times) Average Rating: 0
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Salpy
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« on: May 12, 2005, 11:09:10 PM »

Somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to recall a thread where it was mentioned that some time ago Protestants had tried to "infiltrate" some Coptic (or maybe it was Syriac?) Orthodox churches.  Something along the lines of Protestant Copts passing themselves off as Orthodox, getting themselves ordained as priests, and then trying to change the beliefs of the churches they were appointed to.  Or it may have been something along the lines of Protestants joining the staff of Orthodox Sunday schools with the same motives.  Did I read that here, or somewhere else, or am I completely mistaken?

If indeed anything like what I described did happen and anyone here knows the details, I'd like to ask for the following information:

1.  What exactly happened?

2.  What did the Coptic (or Syriac) Orthodox Church do about it?

3.  What does the Church do now to prevent this from happening in the future?

4.  Is there any written literature or websites which discuss this?
« Last Edit: March 21, 2006, 01:35:02 AM by Salpy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2005, 01:52:36 AM »

Somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to recall a thread where it was mentioned that some time ago Protestants had tried to "infiltrate" some Coptic (or maybe it was Syriac?) Orthodox churches.  Something along the lines of Protestant Copts passing themselves off as Orthodox, getting themselves ordained as priests, and then trying to change the beliefs of the churches they were appointed to.  There may have been something along the lines of Protestants joining the staff of Orthodox Sunday schools with the same motives.  Did I read that here, or somewhere else, or am I completely mistaken?

If indeed anything like what I described did happen and anyone here knows the details, I'd like to ask for the following information:

1.  What exactly happened?

2.  What did the Coptic (or Syriac) Orthodox Church do about it?

3.  What does the Church do now to prevent this from happening in the future?

4.  Is there any written literature or websites which discuss this?

Uhhh....what?  Did you just have a bad dream that you thought was real?
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Salpy
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2005, 02:22:26 AM »

Actually, the way things have been going lately, it's possible  Smiley

There is a reason I am asking this.  My church, like many Armenian churches, suffers from a lack of volunteers.  Among other things, we have had a hard time finding people willing to staff our Sunday School.  Consequently, when some people with Evangelical tendencies volunteered to teach Sunday School a few years back, they were accepted.  This included a married couple who actually are members of a nearby Evangelical church.  They go to church there on Saturday night and teach Sunday school at our church on Sunday. 

I don't want to go into detail, but the situation has blown up into something of a nightmare.  Everyone is disagreeing on what to do.  I was just wondering if some other church has been through this and what was done about it. I seemed to recall something like this being discussed before, but I could be wrong.

Re-reading my original post, I realize it sounds a bit paranoid and weird.  That wasn't my intention.  It is just that the current situation at my church is very unpleasant right now and I'd like to know of others who have had similar situations.
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2005, 01:56:36 PM »

Geez Louise Salpy, that is a nightmare! I can't even imagine how they were accepted as teachers in the first place. Evangelicals teaching their heresies in an Orthodox Sunday school? I'm sorry if that sounds critical, and I am sympathetic to your situation, but whoever made the decision had to know that they wouldn't be teaching Orthodoxy. You Church will be in my prayers, and I hope the situation improves.

I know the kind of infiltration tactic you mentioned has taken place in Ethiopia with some frequency.  Maybe one of our Ethiopian Orthodox members will be kind enough to elaborate on what can be done to counteract it.

Our bishop just gave a lecture to the Sunday school teachers stressing that we be sure we are teaching Orthodoxy and nothing else, and if we don't know the answer to a student's question, don't guess and risk teaching something wrong, just say "I'll look it up and get back to you". So far, the "worst" mistake that was made was someone telling the kids that AD stood for "After Delivery" instead of "Anno Domini". Smiley

« Last Edit: May 19, 2005, 02:16:19 PM by Antonious Nikolas » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2005, 03:50:41 PM »

I believe Salpy is refering to a defrocked priest who used to serve in Colerado. According to his own testimony (the defrocked priest testimony), he was protestant and wanted to infiltrate the Orthodox Church in Egypt by pretending his conversion to Orthodoxy and entering the theological school in Egypt. His testimony was attached as media file some time back on this forum. He was ordained priest, and a year after, he started to preach his poisonous protestant teachings in which he denied the sacraments. He was defrocked, anthamized after two rounds of apparent repentence and returning to his old ways. He was anathemized permanently afterwards. His ugly trick was dismissed by him and by his interviewer on the Lutheran radio broadcasting channel as the only way to infiltrate the Coptic Church. Very dirty.

Individuals such as this priest and other example along histories should not be a cause for worries, as long as they are defrocked and excommunicated. Yet what is a cause of great distress are such unorthodox practices such as allowing people with protestant tendencies to preach in the church and not taking tough stands against it. Specially in the West, the kids grow up in a very evangelical and protestant (or atheist) influenced society and they tend to have a group hug mentality that embraces all ideas and rejects none. This lack of discernment made the church service depend mostly on immigrants with a more conservative background, yet with other problems such as language. It is a tough challenge.

The churches in Egypt do not suffer from such problems because of the overwhelming presence of Orthodox. The Protestant missions that get financial support from many organisations started out trying to convert muslims, yet due to the difficulty of such mission, they targeted the Orthodox where they do not have to deal with apostacy from the government, and do not have to struggle with dogmas such as trinity, Incarnation, .... .

The obvious remedy is intensive teaching to the whole congregation about Orthodoxy. In the West, I rarely hear anything in mass or general sermons about the necessity of the Apostolic Faith for salvation. I am all for spiritual sermons, but without proper basis in Orthodoxy it is in vain. How can repentence be accomplished without proper understanding of the confession sacrament, and how can the person be assured of savlation if he does not know why we partake in the Body and Blood of Christ. Unfortunately, in some churches, these topics are considered only for theologians, which is not true.
The next step would be to cut any unorthodox branch off from service if repeated advice does not bring fruits. We cannot afford to leave such tendencies in our church. I was shocked and furious to know that a church was using the "40-day thing" by Rick Warren in their service meeting. I was more shocked that such practice went unnoticed by the servants themselves for many weeks, until a friend told the bishop and he took action ( a severe one ). We have by far better books to deal with servants that have been very successful, why the need to go to unorthodox sources ?

There is a great difference between an inquirer about faith and between somebody who tries to change the faith from within the church. The latter can do so outside the church under any title they want, but not under the umbrella of the Orthodox Church. The former are most welcome. This fine line (not that fine) has to be discerned.

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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2005, 04:01:23 PM »


PiKhristos Aftounf!

Excellent post Stavro.  I wholeheartedly agree.  The insidious Protestant influence is very pervasive here in the West.  I found a Protestant book in a Coptic Church bookstore one time that listed Orthodox Christianity among the cults, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.  It derided the Orthodox Church for its perceived "Mariology", "Praying to Saints", etc.  I showed it to the guy working in the bookstore and he couldn't make heads or tails of the content.  He just said, "Are you sure they're talking about us?"  I had to bring it to the priest's attention to get it tossed out. 

The "group hug" mentallity you speak of is very dangerous.  I think some folks from traditionally Orthodox countries are conditioned to accept anything with a "Christian" label on it without checking to see if it contains heretical or heterodox teachings.  If it seems like a generic "brand X" Christian book or picture, or whatever, it is okay in their mind.  More education is of course the answer.

May God preserve His Church and disperse the council of the infiltrators and slanderers as He dispersed that of Ahitophel.
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2005, 07:47:33 PM »

I believe Salpy is refering to a defrocked priest who used to serve in Colerado. According to his own testimony (the defrocked priest testimony), he was protestant and wanted to infiltrate the Orthodox Church in Egypt by pretending his conversion to Orthodoxy and entering the theological school in Egypt. His testimony was attached as media file some time back on this forum. He was ordained priest, and a year after, he started to preach his poisonous protestant teachings in which he denied the sacraments. He was defrocked, anthamized after two rounds of apparent repentence and returning to his old ways. He was anathemized permanently afterwards. His ugly trick was dismissed by him and by his interviewer on the Lutheran radio broadcasting channel as the only way to infiltrate the Coptic Church. Very dirty.

Individuals such as this priest and other example along histories should not be a cause for worries, as long as they are defrocked and excommunicated. Yet what is a cause of great distress are such unorthodox practices such as allowing people with protestant tendencies to preach in the church and not taking tough stands against it. Specially in the West, the kids grow up in a very evangelical and protestant (or atheist) influenced society and they tend to have a group hug mentality that embraces all ideas and rejects none. This lack of discernment made the church service depend mostly on immigrants with a more conservative background, yet with other problems such as language. It is a tough challenge.

The churches in Egypt do not suffer from such problems because of the overwhelming presence of Orthodox. The Protestant missions that get financial support from many organisations started out trying to convert muslims, yet due to the difficulty of such mission, they targeted the Orthodox where they do not have to deal with apostacy from the government, and do not have to struggle with dogmas such as trinity, Incarnation, .... .

The obvious remedy is intensive teaching to the whole congregation about Orthodoxy. In the West, I rarely hear anything in mass or general sermons about the necessity of the Apostolic Faith for salvation. I am all for spiritual sermons, but without proper basis in Orthodoxy it is in vain. How can repentence be accomplished without proper understanding of the confession sacrament, and how can the person be assured of savlation if he does not know why we partake in the Body and Blood of Christ. Unfortunately, in some churches, these topics are considered only for theologians, which is not true.
The next step would be to cut any unorthodox branch off from service if repeated advice does not bring fruits. We cannot afford to leave such tendencies in our church. I was shocked and furious to know that a church was using the "40-day thing" by Rick Warren in their service meeting. I was more shocked that such practice went unnoticed by the servants themselves for many weeks, until a friend told the bishop and he took action ( a severe one ). We have by far better books to deal with servants that have been very successful, why the need to go to unorthodox sources ?

There is a great difference between an inquirer about faith and between somebody who tries to change the faith from within the church. The latter can do so outside the church under any title they want, but not under the umbrella of the Orthodox Church. The former are most welcome. This fine line (not that fine) has to be discerned.




Hi,

I find this interesting.  I've heard of allegations on the past on this and other internet forums.  I would like to read more about it from official documents/media reports.  Could you or others please provide references and links?

thanks so much!
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Salpy
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2005, 02:08:07 AM »

Thank you, Stavro.  For a while there I feared I was losing my mind, thinking I remembered something that didn't exist.  I'm pretty sure what you are referring to is what I had in the back of my brain. 

What happened in our Sunday School is something of a "wolf in sheep's clothing" situation coupled with a severe lack of volunteers and some naivete on the part of the people who, up until this year, ran our Sunday School program.  I and a few others felt uneasy about the situation as early as over a year ago, but we were viewed as being a bit too paranoid by everyone else.  These last few months, however, it has become apparent that some real damage has been done.

Our poor parish priest is the sole pastor of over 5,000 souls (yes, that's five thousand.)  He barely has time to eat or sleep.  He works seven day weeks.  Since the current situation exploded, however, he has had no choice but to "roll up his sleeves" and deal with it.  He is not the kind of person who likes being "tough" with people, but I think he has no choice now.  I get the feeling this is not going to be easy for him.  One of the offending parties is closely related to a much beloved, pillar-of-the-church family at our parish.  This is obviously a delicate situation.  Please pray for my priest and for my church.

Thanks,
Salpy
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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2005, 09:24:07 AM »

May God help and strengthen Der Hayr, and send good and faithful servants of the Orthodox Faith to help him.
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2005, 12:27:47 PM »

prayers indeed for this sticky situation...
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hmmmm...
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