I do believe that David would agree that Manual is unfair to Orthodox Christians. The words and sentiments he used in his reply are not his own, but are a paraphrase of what is contained in the Manual.
I have no intention for a rhetoric here
We are friends, no?
I am against the text and whoever wrote it.
1. Firstly: 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'
Is this not judgment, sir?
2. You explained the former as:
"What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ."
What made you say that 'many' donot experience renewing? Do you have statistics for this? How do you know if a person is renewed?
I have no intention of fighting with you sir, I just wish to defend this Faith in which I really love! The Faith which, I believe, is from the Lord Jesus Christ.
As David said, there are several hundred comments on this thread alone on this topic.
What we Orthodox need to do is to live in such a way that the words contained in the Manual (and similar ones elsewhere) are proved to be false. Let us focus on our own salvation. Because my own wife is still an Evangelical Protestant, I often find myself facing some of these issues, usually indirectly. I struggle to avoid judging the Ev Prots and their motives, and sadly, I'm not always successful.
You are certainly right. I also agree with David that "judging" in the Biblical sense does not mean analyzing, assessing, observing or offering an opinion. "Judging" has the distinct connotation of distinguishing between right or wrong, sin and virtue, guilt and innocence.
Now, lets take the Manual's assertions that "'the percentage of practicing members is very small' and 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'"
The first statement is obviously true in Russia, and most other nominally Orthodox countries. It is an observation that is backed up by various polls, arithmetic (counting the number of folks who attend divided by those who are on the rolls), and/or the testimony of Orthodox Church officials.
The second statement is a combination of observation (percentage of lost people among nominal Orthodox people) and of an unwarranted conclusion (percentage of lost people among practicing Orthodox people).
In the first instance, it is obviously true: by definition, nominal (not practicing) Orthodox are lost. This is according to our own doctrine, for they have excommunicated themselves from the Church. They can be reconciled (we do have a major Mystery just for that) but until they do, they are lost.
In the second instance, the author reasons (elsewhere in the Manual) that many of the practicing Orthodox are merely going through the rituals either without knowing what is happening or knowing very little. I can cite you Orthodox theologians who tell us that such a situation is dangerous in that our services may descend to the level of magic. Since our services are the work of the people and not merely that of the clergy, it is indeed imperative that all of us should know what we believe, preach and practice. That is the argument of the author of the Manual but I think this argument is too simplistic.
I think that one does not have to be a theologian or to have memorized the Scriptures to know what to believe and do. It is possible (and indeed I think this is the case in most instances) that an uneducated person (like my grandfather) can know the gist of the Holy Scriptures, our beliefs and our services. My father was college and seminary educated and I daresay that his and my grandfather's beliefs and practices did not diverge all that much in their essence. Indeed, if one faithfully attends our services (and can understand the words), one will be educated in the Old and New Testaments and be very familiar with the story and teachings of our Lord, even if one attends only from Zaccheus Sunday to the Paschal Vespers.