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Russia and Evangelical missionaries


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#1 Jacob

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 11:03 AM

Friends,

I was in a discussion with a Protestant friend who was worried about my interest in Orthodoxy. Eventually the discussion meandered and he asked, "Why is it that EO countries (presumably Slavic) are so antagonistic to Western missionaries? (He actually used more mean and scathing words, but that's the jist of it).

Well, since I am interested and sympathetic to Orthodoxy, as well as having a love for Slavic countries, I tried to answer him as best I could. But for many of us who grew up in America and are essentially western in orientation, whether we like it or not, we are often at a loss on how to answer such questions.

If you could give me an Orthodox perspective to this issue, I would appreciate it.

Kindly,
Jacob

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 02:11 PM

"Why is it that EO countries (presumably Slavic) are so antagonistic to Western missionaries?


Well, ask your friend how he would like it if Philippino (to pick a foreign country with a strong Christian component) missionaries of a Christian tradition different from his own came to his town and began to preach and give out money, food, clothing and other material goods and told everyone that they needed to become Christians and when the people replied that they were already Christians, their faith would be discounted and told it was only a cultural relic and not real Christianity.

Now add the above into the mix that in other Orthodox countries the Church works closely with the civil government to encourage basic moral behavior and patriotic duty. When you come in and try to pull people out of that Church and tell them that what they believed was wrong and that the Church should not only have nothing to do with the government but should oppose the government - well then it starts to look not like religious teaching, but more like the seeds of revolution. Many governments are not going to look kindly on that kind of activity.

Why send missionaries into a developed nation where the people are already Christian and who have a tradition of Christian faith centuries older than your own? If you want to send missionaries into an Orthodox nation to convert the non-Christians there, then have some respect for the traditions of the people and the Church that is already working in that field. Send your missionaries to work under the guidance and direction of the national Church - not in opposition to it.

Fr David Moser

#3 Jacob

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 03:23 PM

Well, ask your friend how he would like it if Philippino (to pick a foreign country with a strong Christian component) missionaries of a Christian tradition different from his own came to his town and began to preach and give out money, food, clothing and other material goods and told everyone that they needed to become Christians and when the people replied that they were already Christians, their faith would be discounted and told it was only a cultural relic and not real Christianity.

Now add the above into the mix that in other Orthodox countries the Church works closely with the civil government to encourage basic moral behavior and patriotic duty. When you come in and try to pull people out of that Church and tell them that what they believed was wrong and that the Church should not only have nothing to do with the government but should oppose the government - well then it starts to look not like religious teaching, but more like the seeds of revolution. Many governments are not going to look kindly on that kind of activity.

Why send missionaries into a developed nation where the people are already Christian and who have a tradition of Christian faith centuries older than your own? If you want to send missionaries into an Orthodox nation to convert the non-Christians there, then have some respect for the traditions of the people and the Church that is already working in that field. Send your missionaries to work under the guidance and direction of the national Church - not in opposition to it.

Fr David Moser


Thank you. That was very helpful.

#4 Owen Jones

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 03:58 PM

On the other hand, what if Orthodox in the West were more missionary minded, in our own countries? We could teach the importance of humility, for example, without which there is no true faith or knowledge. We could witness to the importance of giving all of our worldly possessions away, i.e. the monastic calling, as last Sunday's Gospel addresses. That passage is one of many that Protestants don't underline. etc.etc.etc.

#5 Nicolaj

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 06:45 PM

Thank you Father for the big Point you made!

And Owen, about being more missionary minded, Christ told us not to put the light under the table, but to raise it up. We all are there to be witnesses and to tell others about the way Orthodoxy touched our lives.

Christos voskrese, Nicolaj

#6 Julia Hayes

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 06:04 AM

I think this site shows very clearly why Orthodox countries have a problem with protestant missionaries. These are BAPTISTS in Georgia.

#7 Ryan

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 11:58 AM

I think this site shows very clearly why Orthodox countries have a problem with protestant missionaries. These are BAPTISTS in Georgia.



Well, that crosses the line from offensive to just plain weird. I'm looking around for bits about their history. It looks like they've been around for a while (since 19th century)... it might be that Orthodox religious culture seeped in more gradually than it looks here.

#8 Nathaniel Woon

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 01:37 PM

This is most unusual and to me a bit dishonest - if they really were Baptists, why are they dressed as if they were Orthodox? And if all the 'trappings' of Orthodoxy are important to them, perhaps they really should look into becoming Orthodox

#9 Julia Hayes

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 02:36 PM

This is most unusual and to me a bit dishonest - if they really were Baptists, why are they dressed as if they were Orthodox? And if all the 'trappings' of Orthodoxy are important to them, perhaps they really should look into becoming Orthodox


They are wolves in shepherd's clothing.

#10 Nicolaj

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 08:54 AM

They say themselves that they behave this way to have a more easy approach to the native believers.

So they get the orthodox to come to their services and make them baptists also.

Real wolves trying to look like sheep.

In Christ, Nicolaj

#11 Andrew

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 03:32 AM

Evangelical missionaries are oftentimes, wittingly or not, agents of Anglo-American empire. They are a means of destabilizing independent national movements (traditional Orthodoxy or Catholicism) and allowing for Western interests to take control of third world nations. Jeff Sharlet's The Family has a lot of bits of good information here and there regarding this issue. The big evangelical missions throughout the world take grassroots energy away from independent political movements for liberation and redirects the poor to have a "personal relationship with Jesus" instead of concern for the health and future of their own communities. Orthodoxy is not conducive to globalism or Anglo-American imperialism because it values culture and homeland. Wahhabism and Evangelical Christianity are conducive to globalists, and that is why they are well funded by globalists.

#12 Shawn Lazar

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:52 PM

I suppose a relevant question is, who exactly is offended by these missionaries?

I don't think you can paint with a wide brush and say that Orthodox countries as a whole are offended by their presence, as opposed to certain Orthodox hierarchs, the faithful, and many politicians.

Consider the evidence. Isn't there a Pentecostal church in Kiev with over 20,000 people attending? And isn't that the largest single church in the entire (historically) Orthodox world? That number is, presumably, larger than the EP's entire diocese. My point is, clearly there is a need, and at a popular level people are spiritually hungry. People want to know more about Jesus and about the Bible and they simply aren't getting it from the Orthodox Church, and so, it appears, they aren't offended by these missionaries at all.

And who can feel offended by having missionaries come to Orthodox countries after such a long period of atheism, preceded by an even longer period of nominalism when it has long been recognized that Russia was baptized but not enlightened? (Leskov) No doubt that is true of most Orthodox countries. Judging from the cradle Orthodox I meet in the West, hardly anyone can articulate their faith in Christ. At best, you encounter a vague form of Deism. If its the same in the Orthodox world, no wonder the missionaries come believing the gospel (as they understand it) will be received as something completely unknown among Orthodox people... probably because it is!

At the very least, I hope this situation forces the Orthodox pick up the mantle of evangelism given to us by Christ, and start to truly educate the people of Christ and God's revelation in the Bible. Because, needless to say, the 'evangelical' gospel is partial at best, and distorted at worst.

#13 Jake A.

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 11:25 PM

Friends,

I was in a discussion with a Protestant friend who was worried about my interest in Orthodoxy. Eventually the discussion meandered and he asked, "Why is it that EO countries (presumably Slavic) are so antagonistic to Western missionaries? (He actually used more mean and scathing words, but that's the jist of it).

Well, since I am interested and sympathetic to Orthodoxy, as well as having a love for Slavic countries, I tried to answer him as best I could. But for many of us who grew up in America and are essentially western in orientation, whether we like it or not, we are often at a loss on how to answer such questions.

If you could give me an Orthodox perspective to this issue, I would appreciate it.

Kindly,
Jacob



This is very simple, Orthodoxy has a 2,000 year history of martyrdom, persecutions, sainthood, and miracles. Orthodoxy and it's Mysteries, to it's practitioners, are a very special part of their life, and the Protestants specifically deny these Mysteries like the Eucharist and the Confession of sins. Everywhere where there is Protestantism (especially in America) there follows not the traditional Christian way of life as is (or in these times just the elements of the once existing) seen in Orthodoxy, but a morally stripped watered down pseudo Christianity.

This is called charismatic Christianity, as quoted on father alexander's page

Regrettably such a naive conception of one's own sinlessness and holiness, along with a failure to understand the essence of Christianity, has characterised Protestant denominations since the time of Martin Luther (the beginning of the 16th century). A prominent Protestant theologian summed up the Protestant understanding of Christianity thus: "The justification of a sinner is an all-embracing act of God. When a believer is justified, all his sins - past, present and future - are forgiven. The moment God pronounces him justified, the totality of his sins is pardoned" (William G. T. Shed, Dogmatic Theology, Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1888; emphasis added).

Apparently faith in Jesus Christ automatically guarantees a man, if not sinlessness, at least an absence of guilt for his sins. Such an opinion is not only radically wrong, but also very harmful, because it deprives man of the powerful means of regeneration which our Lord Jesus Christ gave to believers for their spiritual purification and sanctification.



This is what the Orthodox fear.

YouTube - ИСТИНСКИ ПРАВОСЛАВНИ СВЕШТЕНИК (2.део)This is a great video explaining everything that you need to know about Protestantism, from a view of an American convert to Orthodoxy who is a priest.

Edited by Father David Moser, 13 September 2009 - 03:38 AM.
fixed links


#14 Paul Cowan

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:27 AM

I suppose a relevant question is, who exactly is offended by these missionaries?

I don't think you can paint with a wide brush and say that Orthodox countries as a whole are offended by their presence, as opposed to certain Orthodox hierarchs, the faithful, and many politicians.

Consider the evidence. Isn't there a Pentecostal church in Kiev with over 20,000 people attending? And isn't that the largest single church in the entire (historically) Orthodox world? That number is, presumably, larger than the EP's entire diocese. My point is, clearly there is a need, and at a popular level people are spiritually hungry. People want to know more about Jesus and about the Bible and they simply aren't getting it from the Orthodox Church, and so, it appears, they aren't offended by these missionaries at all.

And who can feel offended by having missionaries come to Orthodox countries after such a long period of atheism, preceded by an even longer period of nominalism when it has long been recognized that Russia was baptized but not enlightened? (Leskov) No doubt that is true of most Orthodox countries. Judging from the cradle Orthodox I meet in the West, hardly anyone can articulate their faith in Christ. At best, you encounter a vague form of Deism. If its the same in the Orthodox world, no wonder the missionaries come believing the gospel (as they understand it) will be received as something completely unknown among Orthodox people... probably because it is!

At the very least, I hope this situation forces the Orthodox pick up the mantle of evangelism given to us by Christ, and start to truly educate the people of Christ and God's revelation in the Bible. Because, needless to say, the 'evangelical' gospel is partial at best, and distorted at worst.


I think if you take the time to read up on these "orthodox" countries and what they have gone through and endured and what they are now being subjected to by these "missionaries" you will see what you have said above is, well, uneducated.
Orthodoxy does not deal in popularity. Neither did Christ. Yes, the people are probably spiritually hungry because all they are getting is bombardment from PC missionaries. If they will go back to the church of their fathers and actually participate, they will have their fulfillment.

If you truly think Russia was not enlightened, you truly have not done any research on its history. 80 years of oppression, is not enough to wash away 1100 years of Orthodoxy. Damage, sure. Just because a person can not quote scripture and verse does not mean they do not know their bible. Proof texting scripture is a poor way to win people.

Because, needless to say, the 'evangelical' gospel is partial at best, and distorted at worst.[/


This alone should cause to want to prevent missionaries from going to Orthodox countries, if they are in such bad spiritual shape. No?

Paul

#15 Shawn Lazar

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:55 AM

Paul, I don't deny that EO countries have suffered, and terribly! Nor am I saying that its necessarily a good thing for evangelicals to be there. The original question was, why are EO countries so antagonistic towards these missionaries? I'm just questioning whether that is really so. It seems to me that given the evident success of these groups winning large amounts of converts, its hard to say that entire countries are antagonistic to evangelical missionaries. Rather, the antagonism is restricted to the OC and other people who stand to lose ground, whether political or religious.

And hey, I didn't make up the idea that Russia was baptized but not enlightened. Nikolai Leskov said that. And in reading, say, the opening chapters of St. Theophan's 'Path to Salvation', it seems to be an opinion widely shared at the time, and still holds true today: http://www.orthodoxy...-The-Gospel.php.

That being said, given the choice between being nominally Orthodox or a genuine Jesus-loving Baptist or Pentecostal, I'd much rather see Russians and Greeks and others go evangelical. I know that I became a Christian, and started to love Jesus and want to follow Him when I was 17, long before I was received into the OC. So I can't deny that evangelicals will do some, maybe even a lot of good, among people who would never hear the gospel otherwise (because the OC doesn't do much evangelism anymore). Would it be better if they became fervent Orthodox instead? Sure.

#16 Paul Cowan

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 05:09 AM

I don't think it is fear of losing ground that heiarchs try to keep missionaries out of their countries, but they are so fervent for their flocks or what is left of them they do all they can do prevent heresy from entering in.

I grew up PC. I think there is a place in God's big plan for what they teach. My mind sees them as God's training wheels for a bicycle. We use them while we need to but at some point we become better at riding the spiritual bicycle and no longer need them. I also know Orthodoxy is the fullness of the faith. There are over 22,000 groups attesting to be "christian". I am sure they all believe they are the "true" body of Christ. Well, perhaps they are a fingernail or a mole on the body of Christ. Who is to say.

We had a thread a year or so ago on Orthodox evangelism. It did not go well as I recall with all the posters. I will see if I can find it. Yes, I think we need to open our doors a little wider. But I think people will come to Orthodoxy from our witness rather than our knocking on doors. I seem to recall reading a while ago about one of these mega PC churchs in Russia that had as many people leaving as they had coming in. I think when the people see what they are being taught versus what they grew up learning from the matushkas, they leave just as quickly as they came.

We can all do better in getting the word out. It is our commission after all. How we do that is each person's responsibility.

Paul

#17 Father David Moser

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 12:15 PM

I don't think it is fear of losing ground that heiarchs try to keep missionaries out of their countries, but they are so fervent for their flocks or what is left of them they do all they can do prevent heresy from entering in.


This, I think, is key. It is the pastoral love for one's own flock that generates the antagonism towards the outsiders coming in and preaching what they call "the Gospel". Sure there is a great hunger for Christ among these cultures that were for so long starved by their Godless rulers, but lets put this in a perspective we can all understand. Your family suffers a setback and is stricken by famine. For years you feed your children what little you can gather, but no one is full, everyone is always hungry. All of sudden the famine is over and food is again plentiful and you begin to feed your children lots of healthy food. But some stranger comes into your house and begins to offer your children candy and ice cream and all they have to do is come with him. Sure he's giving them food, but it is not healthy food and the cost is that they renounce their family. As a father, I'm more than a little antagonistic towards the interloper and will do everything in my power (including calling upon the civil authority, i.e. police) to toss him not only out of the house, but out of the neighborhood and send him back to where ever it was that he came from.

The "genuine Jesus loving" protestant theology is (in the words of one of my God-daughters) "Bubble gum religion". It has a lot of sugar coating and fancy flavors, but it is empty of substance. Once the emotional "flash in the pan" is gone, then there isn't much left. Returning to the healthy diet of Orthodox teaching is made all that more difficult because even if you realize that this is not healthy food, now you have to unlearn the bad "eating habits" that you picked up and relearn from the beginning. As a father to my flock, I would rather they remained hungry but healthy than have my family fill up on poisonous food and then have to detox them before they can begin to learn to eat again.

There is no place for "genuine Jesus loving" heresy (talk about an oxymoron) in the spiritual life of the Orthodox Christian. The Church (and the government who sees the danger as well) is just trying to protect their children from a glut of poisonous candy.

Fr David Moser

#18 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 01:00 PM

To people who are starving, even garbage can seem like a feast. The Church does not want her children to feed on garbage and it seems no surprise to me that the bishops might be less than happy about it.

Sure, junk food "satisfies" at first, and many obviously prefer it to healthy food. But that does not mean it is good for you, witness the severe problem the US has with overweight and heart and other health problems.

Who is offended by it? I am. Why should we be happy with seeing the children being given a stone instead of a fish? Orthodox countries do not need MacReligion!

http://www.monachos....d=3&pictureid=8



#19 Owen Jones

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 02:01 PM

I know for a fact that many pious ethnic Orthodox in the U.S. hunger to be evangelistic. But the clergy tends to keep that bottled up. "That's why we send money to the OCMC!!!!"

First of all, I'm not sure if it is a good mission strategy to accuse Protestants of practicing bubble gum religion, as much as it is true, or begin by establishing their heretical lineage. That is certainly not the way St. Paul approached the Greeks. To say, on the other hand, that you lack knowledge of the fullness of the Holy Trinity, or the means for acquiring the fullness of Christ in you, might be a better approach. Or, you believe whatever you want, and you call it the truth. But still probably too critical. Evangelism hardly begins with criticism.

My friends who are converts from protestantism say that their biggest problem as a protestant was that they were searching for the Church, and the problem in protestantism was that it was all personality based, but no Church.

Then, I think we have to ask ourselves, what is our motive? Is it out of love for all mankind, or is it a feeling of superiority, as if we were driving around town in our Bentley while sneering at the people driving Chevys?

#20 Owen Jones

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 02:10 PM

Perhaps the simplest way of putting it is that Orthodoxy is spiritual. This implies, of course, that Protestantism isn't. But let them infer that instead of rubbing it in their noses.




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