EA: Stavro, I'm not sure if you will get this joke, because I certainly didn't, but I remember a while ago that my uncle told me that the difference between a Protestant and a Jehovaha's witness, is the difference between one who is ghetet and one who is gheles though I can't remember which is which.
. Maybe both words are best translated as "annoying" or "irritating", to various degrees.
I remember the discussion from the thread you revived, thanks for bringing it up again. I am happy the Reformed couple were "relieved" from their Sunday School duties, but there is a chance the situation will be repeated again. The underlying problem is one of relativism and fake tolerance. I can relate to that from my own experience in the mid-90's in Egypt.
The problem is not so much with the Protestant missionary techniques, for if they find a solid rock of Orthodoxy as their working field they will never bring any fruit and the seeds of destruction they sow will rotten. We should make all effort to oppose and expose such techniques, I am all for that and I opened this thread for this purpose, but I am equally concerned with the inside situation of the OO churches, especially in the West. It is the level of conspiracy of some members, few as they are, within the churches that is alarming, the level of complacence of few others that is surprising and the level of ignorance by many that is frightening. A friend commented on the display of the above by fellow church members on a coptic site and in servant meetings with the following statement. It is not eloquent, but it was from the heart:"This is a trying time that we live in, and those who raise their voices against the overwhelming tide of "everyone must love everyone, and love means accepting everyone" is currently sweeping over our friends and family in the church. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER has loving someone meant that you must accept and tolerate everything that person believes in. Christ loves us unconditionally, but that in no way means that he enjoys or agrees when I sin. Our champions of faith, these are our teachers who offered their lives as an example for their children who would follow them. They teach us that while their may be 99 around us who would rather not cause a "fuss", there will always be 1 who does not see "fuss" as fuss, but as stating and declaring the time proven , historically backed, defended with blood and tears proclamation of our pure Orthodox faith
The faith has always been passed down from one generation to the next, led by the Church but with magnificent contributions from the orthodox families that make up the congregations. Even in the darkest hours, when the hierarchs were banished and the churches closed, the faith continued from one generation to another. The situation is now different, especially in the churches in Europe and North America. One does not have to be a theologian to be Orthodox nor trained as one, but the simple practices such as bringing the child to church to make him get used to the hymns, praying in front of the icons, smelling the incense definitely makes the child get attached to the Church. Many parents do not make such effort for many reasons, and the children grow as strangers to the Church.
The culture does not promote Orthodoxy. True religious fundamentalism has a bad reputation in many circles in Northern America and Europe, and its image is further tarnished by the fake fundamentalists who do not present the right approach to faith. Because Orthodoxy is a practice that goes back to the fundamentals, without the theological development BS nowadays propagated among some suspicious circles, it does not resonate with the public who are raised up on relativism. Little is said in the church and in Sunday schools about the approach to faith and how it can only pass through Orthodoxy.
On the other hand, not every parish has capable teachers who stress on the importance of going back to the fundamentals and build your way up from there. You rarely find a sermon in the liturgy, when most of the congregation is present, which deals with a theological or soteriological aspect of the faith. Morals and good Christian behavior are the subjects of many sermons but the foundation is not solid enough to bring such fruits. Talking about morals is not lacking in the Protestant and Catholic churches or teachings, and they are only part of salvation that does not suffice alone. A balance is required between both.
This ecumenical movement has hurt the Church badly. Protestants, when they established the World council and the other regional councils, had a certain task in their mind and it was to unit all sects under one umbrella. This is a very feasible and reasonable goal for the Protestants, for they have no absolute standard of faith to begin with and everything is open to negotiation and to manipulation. One has to admit that they have achieved some good compromises, like any flexible and intelligent political leaders would be able to achieve. The case is different for Orthodox. We do not have the liberty of evolving theology. The Coptic Church has sent its best youth out to the youth conferences, dominated by number and by teachings by the Protestants, and has thrown them into the fire to “communicate” our beliefs to the Protestants. These servants were being prepared to be leaders in their age, and they became such. Oh, I forgot to mention that they brought back all the “tolerance” they learnt from such conferences with them. Now they are youth leaders themselves, promoted from within the Church. I am concerned with the mind set they bring to the Church, one of relativism. They do not present the faith as the truth, but as an ideology. Once this has been established, all kind of heresies will follow.
Then comes the problem with the library and books, and the lack of control over it. The purchase of books by the library and its promotion is not always the fruit of a policy to raise the awareness level of the congregation and identify the areas they need to get more educated on. It is sometimes a very random process and depends on the personal views. I was surprised to find a Coptic orthodox book site featuring two famous protestant books that contain many errors, starting with the translation of verses. These books are about service and the purpose of life, as if the Orthodox fathers and orthodox contemporary writers of the Church have not written enough about these topics. If we might excuse the bookstore keeper based on ignorance, how would we excuse a priest who endorses such books?
If anybody wants to present anything else other than the Orthodox Faith, let them do that freely, but OUTSIDE THE CHURCH. There cannot be any tolerance with such practices inside the Church. In the end, the question concerning Protestants has to be sealed once and for all. Are they saved or not? The worst answer is: We do not know. There is no basis for fighting heresy if this "common" answer
is tolerated and propagated more than it has been among our congregations. It is a deviation from Tradition and biblical command not to test the spirit and judge the faith of others.
By the way, heresy is not a politically correct word in many circles. Let us refer to it as the "theologically inadequate", or "the H-word" .