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#1 Olympiada

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 01:41 AM

Hello Community
I was wondering how the Baptists established a presence in Serbia? I thought Serbia was evangelized by Ss Cyril and Methodius. How did the Baptists get up there and establish a theological seminary?!
In Christ
Olympiada


#2 Edward Henderson

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 09:43 PM

I know that the Baptists have existed in Russia since the 19th century. One of the oldest Protestant sects to do missionary work in Eastern Europe were the Mennonites.

Baptists have missions in Serbia because they are wealthy and can afford to do so. My two roomates in Moscow were members of International Baptist Fellowship, whose members included some of the wealthiest members of the ex-patriate community in Moscow. It is ironic how much they criticize the Russian Orthodox Church for "all that gold and robes", when their pastors enjoy a much higher salary and live a much more lavish lifestyle than your average Russian Orthodox parish priest.

On the other hand, as is probably the case in Serbia, there are many people there were grew up without any religious upbringing and they are usually the ones targeted by Baptist missionaries, not active Orthodox Christians. So, meeting a Russian or Serbian baptist, usually is not someone who was an active Orthodox Christian, but first came to believe in Christ through their missionary work.

During my first trip to Russia, I met a good many Russians who had been baptised Orthodox as infants but not raised in the Church. When communism fell and the missionaries came, they came to really believe there. But, like many western converts, through studying Church history and just by their general exposure to Orthodoxy, returned to the Orthodox Church and are active Orthodox believers now.

Perhaps that is why God permits them to exist in Orthodox countries.

Edward


#3 Olga

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 02:32 AM

Dear Olympiada

Hetereodox sects are present in varying numbers in other nominally Orthodox nations, not just Russia. There are small numbers of protestant evangelicals, Baptists and similar groups even in Greece, a country which has been independent of Ottoman rule since the 1830s, and where the Orthodox faith continued to be practiced in the open or in secret (depending on the tolerance of the local provincial Ottoman overlord) throughout the Ottoman period of almost 400 years.


#4 Olympiada

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 05:01 AM

Dear Group
I belong to an ecumenical liturgy group with pastors from many different Christian traditions and I think we have to be careful with the word Heterodox, myself included...I can supply the web address to this group if anyone is interested. We need more Orthodox witness there. But I get the feeling that people in the group respect each other's traditions.
I am realizing I can not judge another man's Christianity. That is for God to do, not me. Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann was a great supporter of ecumenical dialogue and I am with him...
My friend the Reverend Victor Sokolov has a website devoted to him if anyone is interested.
I know I raised this topic, but as I have said, I have learned a lot from the ecumenical liturgy group in the past couple of days on the other Christian traditions in Russia.
In Christ
Olympiada


#5 Trudy

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 01:27 PM

I agree with Olympiada that all peoples must be careful with the use of words. Heterodox is a definial term only, not one used in judgment. I think the word heretic has a far more judgmental tone to it, though it can be used definially as well.

I do not see Olga using it in any other way than to define a group not Orthodox


#6 Olympiada

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 10:43 PM

Olga, Did you know that the Orthodox persecuted the Baptists in Russia and that this not right? Oh yes. I am getting to know Baptists now who have been hur t by the Orthodox. That is why I do not like this word heterodox. It is imperialistic. And I do not like imperialism. I invite you all to join the ecumenical liturgy group I belong to. If any o f you are interested please contact me and I will give you the address. We need more Orthodox on there so they can learn to be more ecumenical. In Christ Olympiada I would also encourage everyone to join the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. If you want information on that let me know as well.


#7 Shawn Lazar

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 11:42 PM

"in other nominally Orthodox nations..."

Forgive me for asking, but aren't ALL Orthodox nations nominally Orthodox?

I think this situation feeds into the Baptist (or generally evangelical) desire to do missionary work in such countries. People in 'Orthodox' countries have enough religion to recognize they are not Buddhist or Muslim, but not enough to actually understand the truths of the gospel. And so long as this is true, and people perish for lack of faith in Christ, I imagine that the Baptists and other evangelicals will be there to preach the gospel for the salvation of people's souls.

~Shawn

#8 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 09:23 AM

[quote name='Shawn Lazar']"in other nominally Orthodox nations..."

Forgive me for asking, but aren't ALL Orthodox nations nominally Orthodox?

I think this situation feeds into the Baptist (or generally evangelical) desire to do missionary work in such countries. People in 'Orthodox' countries have enough religion to recognize they are not Buddhist or Muslim, but not enough to actually understand the truths of the gospel. And so long as this is true, and people perish for lack of faith in Christ, I imagine that the Baptists and other evangelicals will be there to preach the gospel for the salvation of people's souls.

~Shawn[/QUOTE]


"People in 'Orthodox' countries have enough religion to recognize they are not Buddhist or Muslim, but not enough to actually understand the truths of the gospel. And so long as this is true, and people perish for lack of faith in Christ, I imagine that the Baptists and other evangelicals will be there to preach the gospel for the salvation of people's souls.

~Shawn[/QUOTE]"

I cannot speak for other countries, but Greece definitely does not fit this description. "Not enough religion to actually understand the truths of the gospel"? Who are the Christians who do understand the truths of the gospel? I believe that there are godly christians in the hundreds of Protestant factions, in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Orthodox church who understand very well the "truths of the gospel". Statements such as yours are very insulting, not only to the Orthodox but to all Christians. Arrogance has nothing to do with christianity. This is one of the "truths of the gospel". Humility has everything to do with what Christ teaches us.

"... reading and spiritual knowledge are good, but only when they lead to greater humility... St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 169)

Effie

#9 Father David Moser

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 04:10 PM

People in 'Orthodox' countries have enough religion to recognize they are not Buddhist or Muslim, but not enough to actually understand the truths of the gospel. And so long as this is true, and people perish for lack of faith in Christ,


I'm sorry, but this is extremely offensive to me. Who are you, or anyone else for that matter, to judge the quality of the spiritual life of someone else. This attitude that these "Christian people" are so ignorant of the Gospel that they need to be taught by someone from the outside - someone who doesn't comprehend their faith at all - so that they can "be saved" is hubris at its greatest height. Sending missionaries to those who have not heard the Gospel, who are not steeped in it in every moment of their lives, who do not have their own pastors and shepherds to guide them on the path of salvation - that's one thing. But to send "missionaries" to evangelize already Christian people because you judge them to be "nominal" and lacking a sufficient understanding of the truths of the Gospel (regardless of the fact that they have their own pastors and teachers) is pride - nothing but pride and arrogance.

Fr David Moser

#10 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 07:08 PM

That is why I do not like this word heterodox. It is imperialistic.


hetero = other or different. Heterodox simply means other doctrines. How is that imperialistic? If you don't like "imperialistic", then I would avoid the word "Orthodox" at all costs. It means Right Worship or True Belief, which rather explicitly implies that other worship or beliefs are something "other" than true. Hmmm. Seems to be something of a conundrum.

#11 Andrew

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 08:08 PM

I agree with Olympiada that all peoples must be careful with the use of words. Heterodox is a definial term only, not one used in judgment. I think the word heretic has a far more judgmental tone to it, though it can be used definially as well.

I do not see Olga using it in any other way than to define a group not Orthodox


A heretic is someone who is within the Church, but preaches heresy. The heterodox are those outside the Church who preach or believe in heresy. So, Arius was a heretic, while the Baptists are heterodox.

There is nothing wrong with judgement in these matters. We are not condemning other people created in the image of God. We are saying that their beliefs are not conducive to the salvation of man. They are equivalent to well intentioned quack doctors. Orthodoxy is the true medicine of incorruption. Those who hold true to the Faith are healed, and take part in the healing of the entire cosmos.

#12 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 10:09 PM

Dear Olympiada,

What is an "ecumenical liturgy group" ? What do you do there, what is the purpose?

Thank you in advance.

Matthew Panchisin

#13 Shawn Lazar

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 11:20 PM

I'm sorry to offend people by claiming there are many (mostly) nominally Christian people in Orthodox countries. But isn't that common knowledge? I didn't think I was saying anything controversial (althought I knew it was a sore point). All one needs to do is look at the very low church attendance in Orthodox countries, the dwindling populations (think Egypt, Antioch, Israel, Turkey, etc)... or contemplate the ever present problem of cradle Orthodox who never quite learn what the faith is (Eastern Europe).

Someone raised the question of Greece as an exception. Perhaps it is. But Greeks in the US and Canada are certainly not. You don't need to be a great spiritual ascetic with the gift of discerning the innermost secrets of a person's heart to judge their spiritual condition. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask them what they believe! :) For instance, I had a Orthodox Greek coworker. He was adamantly Orthodox, attending church every Christmas and Easter. When I asked him about the basics of the gospel... who Jesus was, why he came to die, what we must do or believe to get into heaven, I tell you with pain in my heart that my friend was completely clueless. He didn't understand the "old language" of the liturgy he only occasionally attended, and hence, never learned the basics of the faith. He went to church and identified as Orthodox, not because he believed in Christianity (indeed, I couldn't tell whether he had any specifically Christian beliefs at all and his life reflected that), but because he was proudly Greek, and being Greek meant being Orthodox (as opposed to the Italian Catholics).

Likewise, my mother, a hairdresser, fixes the hair of a certain Greek woman every week. The first time she went to this woman's house, they got to talking about God (my mother is a very exuberant evangelical). The father of the house was there and was very interested. Despite being lifelong Greek Orthodox with all the trappings - making the signs of the cross, going to church, having icons, etc, it seems they had never heard the gospel before. The husband especially was spiritually distraught (this is how my mom described it). Long story short, my mom got out her Bible and took this man through some basic verses in the gospel of John explaining that if we believe in Jesus, who died for our sins, then we will be 'born again' by the Spirit and have eternal life (perhaps she went through John 3). As my mom recounts it, the man was in shock, because he had never heard anything about being born again through faith in Jesus in his church (this is 60+ years of Orthodox church attendance). And, of course, shock turned to great joy as my simple hairdressing mother explained the gospel to him and to the family in plain language. Now she goes to their house every week, to ostensibly fix the women's hair (mother and daughters), but largely because they want to hear more about the gospel. Apparently, this Christmas the family showered her with presents saying in their Christmas card how great a spiritual blessing she has been to their family.

In short, I can only assume that it is much the same situation in those Orthodox countries where Baptists and other evangelicals go and find such a willing audience (I'm told Europe's largest church is a 26,000 member pentecostal assembly in Kiev). And as much as I wish that the Orthodox churches were doing their job better, if the people are hungry, even starving for spiritual food, then more power to the Christian missionaries who are willing to go and do the feeding for the glory of Christ.

#14 Father David Moser

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 11:37 PM

A heretic is someone who is within the Church, but preaches heresy.


And even further than that - a heretic is not someone who holds an erroneous belief without knowing that it is wrong. A heretic, in the language of the Church, is someone who knowingly preaches a heresy.

Fr David Moser

#15 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 12:18 AM

The Soviets allowed Baptist missionaries into Russia in 1921, primarily to try and weaken the Orthodox Church any way they could. Missionaries come in with money to throw around. Of course many people will flock to them. There is one Baptist Church I am aware of that was specifically built to look exactly like an Orthodox Church from the outside, but obviously it is very different on the inside. I think the technical term is "bait and switch".

Orthodox priests were crucified on the doors of their churches. People were sent to gulags and "re-education camps" for talking about their faith. Church schools were illegal. Faith was vigorously attacked in the public schools. And people wonder why many "Eastern Europeans" are not very knowledgeable in their faith?

Why send missionaries? Why not simply help the Church in Russia to mission to her own? Russia needs the Church, not McReligion.

#16 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 12:51 AM

Hello Community
I was wondering how the Baptists established a presence in Serbia? I thought Serbia was evangelized by Ss Cyril and Methodius. How did the Baptists get up there and establish a theological seminary?!
In Christ
Olympiada


RE: "Persecution" of Baptists in Russia.
I would take this with a pound of salt. It is hard to comment without knowing what exactly you had been told, but here is a plausible scenario. Last week the Don Cossack host announced creation of an anti-sectarian unit. Since this event has received Church publicity, presumably this was done with a blessing of a local Bishop. What this means practically. The members of the unit with identify local actively proselytizing sects and will try to persuade their leaders to leave the area (or Russia for that matter). They will talk to local rank-and-file "converts" so as to explain them the origin of the sect, its beliefs, methods, sources of funding, who its leaders are, etc and hopefully set them on a straight course. They will try to thwart any public "preaching" in schools, colleges, etc. Perhaps someone spreading sectarian leaflets at the local bus station might even get flogged - these are Cossacks after all, they don't know much about ecumenism and political correctness. Now, is this persecution? It would say, definitely not. Nobody cares about what this or that sect believes. This is only an attempt to put one's OWN house in order and ensure that those who assumed the place to be some sort of a spiritual desert and climbed over the fence to spread weeds, leave the way they came.

A good question is: why did it happen that some weeds have been spread and took root to the extent that Cossack are needed to help pull then out (although, fortunately the Protestant drive to "evangelize" Russia of early-mid 1990s largely failed despite billions of $s spent on the "mission"). What Shawn wrote might sound harsh, but I think is basically true. In case of Russia this info comes from Church herself, from secular sources as well as from one's personal circle of friends and acquaintances. If you study opinion polls you will find very bizarre responses: 80% of respondents consider themselves Orthodox but 60% believe in God and 60% believe in horoscopes, charms, spells and other most primitive occult ideas. It is precisely this lack of Orthodox awareness and general religious backwardness that baptists and others capitalise on when they work in Russia (http://www.namb.net/...odox_Manual.pdf).

In the Lord,
Yura

#17 Irene

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 01:12 AM

He was adamantly Orthodox, attending church every Christmas and Easter. When I asked him about the basics of the gospel... who Jesus was, why he came to die, what we must do or believe to get into heaven, I tell you with pain in my heart that my friend was completely clueless.


Hi Shawn,

I had not heard there were Orthodox who didn't know the Bible. I am a convert, from a Protestant Church to Orthodoxy, of 21+ years and I did not know the Bible until I became Orthodox.

In my first 15 or so years I attended Churches where the services were in Church Slavonic. So with guidance from others I followed the service in my prayer book and I read the scriptures for each day from my own Bible. I noticed that other converts did the same thing.

It is not something I would ask a cradle Orthodox person, "do you know the scriptures". Very sad. The Orthodox that I know personally, who are Russians, Greeks and Serbians, in their heritage, know the language of their own Churches so would hear the readings in Church every Sunday and Feastday.

Having said that, oh what a joy to hear the service and understand it! I had the opportunity of attending English language Church for a few years and now I am back to the Slavonic and this time slowly learning the language.

This is so sad for those that have missed out on knowing the Bible. I have started to realise what a blessing it has been to be a convert and take nothing for granted.

In Christ
Irene

#18 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 09:18 AM

I'm sorry to offend people by claiming there are many (mostly) nominally Christian people in Orthodox countries. But isn't that common knowledge? I didn't think I was saying anything controversial (althought I knew it was a sore point). All one needs to do is look at the very low church attendance in Orthodox countries, the dwindling populations (think Egypt, Antioch, Israel, Turkey, etc)... or contemplate the ever present problem of cradle Orthodox who never quite learn what the faith is (Eastern Europe).

Someone raised the question of Greece as an exception. Perhaps it is. But Greeks in the US and Canada are certainly not. You don't need to be a great spiritual ascetic with the gift of discerning the innermost secrets of a person's heart to judge their spiritual condition. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask them what they believe! :) For instance, I had a Orthodox Greek coworker. He was adamantly Orthodox, attending church every Christmas and Easter. When I asked him about the basics of the gospel... who Jesus was, why he came to die, what we must do or believe to get into heaven, I tell you with pain in my heart that my friend was completely clueless. He didn't understand the "old language" of the liturgy he only occasionally attended, and hence, never learned the basics of the faith. He went to church and identified as Orthodox, not because he believed in Christianity (indeed, I couldn't tell whether he had any specifically Christian beliefs at all and his life reflected that), but because he was proudly Greek, and being Greek meant being Orthodox (as opposed to the Italian Catholics).

Likewise, my mother, a hairdresser, fixes the hair of a certain Greek woman every week. The first time she went to this woman's house, they got to talking about God (my mother is a very exuberant evangelical). The father of the house was there and was very interested. Despite being lifelong Greek Orthodox with all the trappings - making the signs of the cross, going to church, having icons, etc, it seems they had never heard the gospel before. The husband especially was spiritually distraught (this is how my mom described it). Long story short, my mom got out her Bible and took this man through some basic verses in the gospel of John explaining that if we believe in Jesus, who died for our sins, then we will be 'born again' by the Spirit and have eternal life (perhaps she went through John 3). As my mom recounts it, the man was in shock, because he had never heard anything about being born again through faith in Jesus in his church (this is 60+ years of Orthodox church attendance). And, of course, shock turned to great joy as my simple hairdressing mother explained the gospel to him and to the family in plain language. Now she goes to their house every week, to ostensibly fix the women's hair (mother and daughters), but largely because they want to hear more about the gospel. Apparently, this Christmas the family showered her with presents saying in their Christmas card how great a spiritual blessing she has been to their family.

In short, I can only assume that it is much the same situation in those Orthodox countries where Baptists and other evangelicals go and find such a willing audience (I'm told Europe's largest church is a 26,000 member pentecostal assembly in Kiev). And as much as I wish that the Orthodox churches were doing their job better, if the people are hungry, even starving for spiritual food, then more power to the Christian missionaries who are willing to go and do the feeding for the glory of Christ.


Knowing one or two Greeks in your country should not serve as a basis for you to make such assumptions. The "old language" that you assume the liturgy is in, is Greek and everyone understands it. I want to emphasize this because I know it to be true : ALL greeks understand the language of the liturgy. Even I understand it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To do what your mother did is a good thing, but please accept that there are exceptions in life and perhaps this woman grew up in America and was uninformed about her heritage and her religion. This happens.

You presume that Greeks don't know their bible and the New Testament. You might not be aware of the fact that each Sunday 2 portions of the New Testament are read. This means that these people, even if they have never even seen a bible in their lives, which is absurd, know their New Testament thoroughly.


Our churches here are filled to overflowing each Sunday and on special days - Saints days etc.. There is also good attendance at the morning and evening services. Am I to assume that my city is an exception or can I assume that what is common here is also common in other cities in Greece. Is 100% of the population Greek orthodox? Of course not! But, what I can assure you about is that a very, very high percentage are practicing Orthodox and know exactly why they are. We live here in a very religious community, whether this seems strange to you or not.

Evangelists like yourself are free to spread the Word of God (I enjoy listening to the Evangelist radio station myself especially when the sermon is about the application in our daily lives of Christ's teachings) and I am sure that many people who are uncomfortable with the rituals of the Orthodox Church have been attracted to this type of Christianity. What does this mean? To me, it means very little. It certainly does not mean all you assume it to mean.


Yesterday I was reading St. James - something I try to do at least once a week because this saint gives us some very good practical advice.

"Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.....be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
...If anyone thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain."


Be happy that you are a christian and respect the fact that other people are also christians. Have you ever thought of investigating the Orthodox religion? You might be surprised at its honesty, its beauty, its freedom, and its history.

Effie

Edited by Effie Ganatsios, 01 January 2008 - 01:28 PM.


#19 Simon

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 11:14 AM

Dear Brethren, well, happy calendar new year.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that our pal Shawn seems to have a point. This site is dominated by genuine Orthodox believers mostly from North America, who really think about the faith.

However, in some places, there is an ethnic tinge to our Church which seems to be stronger than the basic Christian message. His mother's experience seems entirely credible to me. To get back to Serbia, it seems that in Leskovac, a town I visit every year, our Church has been unable to reach out to the Rom
community, where Evangelicals have stepped in. It pains me to say that some elements (Patriarch Pavel
is unable to stop this) do identify being Serbian Orthodox as an expression of ethnic identity rather than
an attempt to follow the teachings of the Gospel. A friend of mine who is an Orthodox deacon in the town
says that if a Rom discovers Christ through Evangelicals rather than not discovering Him at all, that this is good.

There is, of course a strong note of hope. The Church at its highest level is trying to overcome the problem. Dear Shawn, could you honestly say that in bible belt America - I've never been there - there are not Baptists who are not religious by habit and tradition rather than conviction? In Vicenza where I live, the majority religion, RC, seems to be a comfortable means of marrying and dying. I think what I'm trying to say is that what you've found in our Church is present in all churches.

Come to one of our Liturgies with an open mind if you haven't yet done so, and try to get to know what
our Church really is.

Happy continued fasting to Russians and Serbs,

Simon

#20 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 01:40 PM

Dear Brethren, well, happy calendar new year.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that our pal Shawn seems to have a point. This site is dominated by genuine Orthodox believers mostly from North America, who really think about the faith.



Simon


Simon, this forum is also in English, so how can we expect a larger percentage of Greeks from Greece than there are now. I, myself, found this forum by accident a couple of years ago. And I thank God that I did!

English is the official second language for Greeks, but this does not mean that it would be easy for the average Greek to post here. My city has a couple of wonderful forums (in Greek) about local issues but, even though I enjoy reading the posts, I hesitate to post because of the language problem.

Effie




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