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#21 Rick H.

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 03:45 PM

The Big Picture

I think what I'm trying to say is that what you've found in our Church is present in all churches.



Very true Simon! Thanks for presenting the big picture.

In Christ,
Rick

#22 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 03:55 PM

Happy continued fasting to Russians and Serbs


I found this ironic in light of the comments on ethnic identity earlier in your post. ;-)

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#23 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 05:49 PM

Dear Shawn,


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!


Actually that's not quite true Shawn. A few weeks ago I saw a beautiful Babushka in Church. When she approached the Bishop to venerate the cross she asked the Bishop to bless her as well. Now she is an ethnic Russian and perhaps she doesn't know the bible like Shawn and others, but the reality of the matter is that it was Babushka's like her that kept the true faith alive in their hearts during the communist era. Indeed it was simple minded and perhaps even unlearned Russian Babushka's like her that laid down their very lives for what the believed. Perhaps Shawn you would not be able to deduce or discern that even by asking such ones about what the believe.

I'm sure Father David, Father Raphael and many others here can appreciate innermost secrets of a person's heart. I think repentance is very important and one never knows when that can happen in others, it depends. Sometimes people repent and understand much on their death beds, more perhaps than they understood during the course of their entire lives. Perhaps many things come together then, even things that had been heard many times in Church but not understood.

You see Shawn had you asked Saint Mary of Egypt what she believed and what she knew about the bible during some specific times of her life you might be shocked to hear how little she knew, but latter she knew much even without a bible in her hand anyway. The Church actually came to her even in the desert without Shawn around.

Perhaps as something of an ethnic things are seen differently, I'm not sure, but I'm sure there have been Greek Orthodox Ya Ya's that had been of the same yolk as the Bubushka that didn't know the bible etc.

In Christ,
Matthew Panchisin

Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 01 January 2008 - 06:04 PM.
Typos


#24 Father David Moser

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 06:44 PM

I'm sorry to offend people by claiming there are many (mostly) nominally Christian people in Orthodox countries.


Why limit it to Christian people in Orthodox countries - there are "many (mostly) nominally Christian [moslem/buddhist/hindu/etc] people" in every country. I'm not offended at that observation, but rather your response to presume that you know better.

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).


Well the Churches in Russia are full and the people seem to know their faith - maybe not in the head, but certainly in the heart where it counts. OTOH, the seminary program in Russia is incredible. Also we are on the verge of "Rozhdestvenskie Chtenia" which is the most significant Christian cultural event of each year in Russia. This can be best described as hundreds of spiritual conferences all occurring during the same week in and around Moscow. This event is open to the public and is attended by thousands upon thousands of people learning about their faith. There is nothing like it in our "Christian" countries in the west. Eastern European countries get the kind of "turnout" and participation in religious events that only the biggest sporting events can draw in the west. And again, as I said - it is a knowledge of the heart, not of the head that these people have. It is the love of God that is not expressed in words but which flows bountifully from the heart. The problem that I see in what you write is that you have a very specific idea of what Christian faith should look like and you impose it on every other religious tradition and culture. When it doesn't match up to what you think it should be, then it is evidence that somehow the faith of these people is "nominal" - and nothing could be further from the truth.

You have cited numerous examples, but these examples only demonstrate that there is a deep and abiding faith and love of God which is exists without words n the heart and when the words of the Gospel are given to them, it gives voice to the grace already resident in their hearts which to this time had no voice. And remember we are saved not by belief, but by grace. Your examples do often point up a problem that is well known by Orthodox clergy and that is that there is at least one, and more likely two generations who were not well taught and that since they don't understand their faith, often they lose it. But the way to help this is not to convert them or to proselytize, but rather help them to understand the sign of the cross and the icons and the meaning of the liturgy and the lives of the saints and so on.

In Russia (and Eastern Europe) and in Greece and in the Holy Land (and its environs) there is a deep faith and font of grace which is lived not in the head (as we are so accustomed to do in our western culture) but in the heart. The faith is lived without words but with feeling and desire that runs so deep that we sometimes miss it, but it is strong (stronger often than my "head based" faith) and filled with the love of God.

Just because someone can't articulate the "message of salvation" or can't parrot back the Bible verses that tell us about God's provision for us and the Divine Economy of our redemption doesn't mean they are "nominal" or even "ignorant" What it may well mean is that you (and I) don't know how to hear or understand the cry of their hearts for God. We are asking the wrong questions and then we judge based on the "head" but forget about the heart.

Fr David Moser

#25 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 07:42 PM

I feel like we are arguing a little bit about apples and oranges... the problem of nominal/double faith among people born into Orthodoxy is widespread and indisputable. The very Rozhdestvenskie Chtenia addressed the issue in the past and will address in the future again and again. Every diocesan conference in Russia starts with the words: we need to seriously catechise people, not simply administer mysteries. Nobody is attacking babushkas or trying to measure their sincerely and dedication. What it boils down to is that if you, while believing sincerely, do not understand your faith and yet worse mix it up with things that are plainly pagan you cannot transmit the faith to your children. You can only transmit a household tradition. Your children will have to learn the true basic meaning of the faith for themselves; and they may or may not do this because it is very hard to do this when something is simply taken for granted, without ever making a conscious effort. How many souls in Russia (or elsewhere for that matter) baptised but never taught the faith have irreparably damaged and soiled themselves because of not knowing any better.

I guess we all are speaking from personal experience and personal pain...

Yura

Edited by Yuri Zharikov, 01 January 2008 - 07:58 PM.


#26 Father David Moser

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 08:56 PM

I have to agree with Yuri that there is grave danger in not understanding your faith - but that doesn't mean that you don't have faith or aren't on the path of salvation. The cure for this condition is catechism - to teach the people about the faith that they have. The cure is not to send missionaries to tell the people that their faith is wrong and that they need instead to adopt some heterodox confession. If these Christian groups truly have compassion for the people of Orthodox nations, they would go to the diocesan authorities and volunteer to be trained as catechists and to go and teach the Orthodox people about their Orthodox faith (that might be a problem since to truly teach Orthodoxy, they would have to be Orthodox). Or perhaps they could simply go and relieve the parish priest of some of his many non liturgical and non teaching responsibilities so that he can focus more of his energy on the teaching of his flock.

Fr David Moser

#27 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 09:34 PM

Or perhaps they could simply go and relieve the parish priest of some of his many non liturgical and non teaching responsibilities so that he can focus more of his energy on the teaching of his flock.


Perhaps some of us in the flock should simply go and relieve the parish priest of some of his many non liturgical and non teaching responsibilities so that he can focus more of his energy on the teaching of his flock.

If our Priests asked for such relief, would they get it?

It's really our fault in many ways Father...

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin

#28 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 11:16 PM

I know a priest who, when the time is short, simply allots his parishioners things to do. For the most part works quite well. :-)

Yura

#29 John W.

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 12:31 AM

Check out a Southern Baptist playbook entitled:

'Witnessing to People of Eastern Orthodox Background: Turning Barriers of Belief into Bridges to Personal Faith'

here:

http://www.namb.net/...odox_Manual.pdf

#30 Paul Cowan

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 02:09 AM

Perhaps some of us in the flock should simply go and relieve the parish priest of some of his many non liturgical and non teaching responsibilities so that he can focus more of his energy on the teaching of his flock.

If our Priests asked for such relief, would they get it?

It's really our fault in many ways Father...

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin


Who cleans the candles after church after everyone leaves to go to the hall for refreshments after Liturgy? Father. It takes about 15-20 minutes in my Parish. How silly it is for a priest to have to clean the used wax out of the stands. or to refill the tea cup candles before services. We have 16 that have to be replaced each service.

I am NOT tooting my own horn. But I realized one day he was having to do this so I just did it. He was more than appreciative. After doing it wrong once, he taught me how he wanted it done. Sometimes I can get the kids to help me. They like to blow them out as if it were a birthday cake. The only "bad" thing now is he knows when I am not in church. ;)

Basically, Don't wait to be asked to help. Just do what you see needs to be done. Now if it is something major, yes of course ask him first. But if it is cleaning up after coffee hour just do it. After coffee hour and all is cleaned up and the trash is bagged, who takes it to the dumpster? My church does not have one. So it was the "Holy garbage man" who for a long time, without complaining, took the garbage home with him every Sunday.

Did not the apostles appoint others to do the menial work so they could teach?

Who mows the grounds? Who sweeps the sanctuary and replaces the chairs neatly for the next service while picking up the used bulletins carelessly left on the floor? Who replaces the toilet paper in the bathrooms? Our priests already have minimal time to prepare for services along with their other Shepherd's duties.

Come on people, get off your tush and DO SOMETHING to help them. Don't wait to be asked. YOU ask! Don't think paying your tithe replaces or "buys" these services from your priest as if he were a restaurant waiter working for his "tip".

passionately,
Paul

#31 Paul Cowan

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 03:50 AM

Here is the story of how my associate priest came to the Faith.

He was a Baptist missionary who went to Banja Luka and tried to evangelize the people there. You will need read from the bottom of the page up.

I wish all evangelists turned out this way.

Paul

#32 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 08:14 AM

I have mentioned this before in an old post but it is still true.

I used to be quite arrogant on this subject because I started reading my bible every night at the age of 11 or thereabouts and never stopped. When I came here I found that bible reading was not a top priority for some people and was quite smug about myself.

Then I started going to church and was truly humbled, Thank God. I saw old and young women, some modestly dressed, others in the newest, most fashionable clothes and hair that looked as if they had come straight from their hairdressers, attending church regularly and knowing everything in the liturgy by heart. They took part in everything and knew everything. What did I know. I knew my New Testament very well, but where was my faith, my absolute certainty that God was present during my daily life, my faith in the afterlife, etc. I felt deeply humbled, and set about learning the Orthodox religion.

I bless the Internet because I can download so many things from the Orthodox sites.Whenever I have a query I can find an answer.

I bless the Metropolitan bookshop in Kozani for their fairly new English section. I also bless this forum, as Mary has already done, for being here and allowing us to seek answers through others who have already been where we are now.

Effie

#33 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:24 AM

Come on people, get off your tush and DO SOMETHING to help them. Don't wait to be asked. YOU ask! Don't think paying your tithe replaces or "buys" these services from your priest as if he were a restaurant waiter working for his "tip".


Paul, churches here employ people to look after the church and its gardens. There is also a church committee in each church. The priests don't do these things. We don't have a coffee hour after the service. We do, however, get together as friends and have coffee afterwards either in each others houses or we go out.

Effie

#34 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:34 AM

Check out a Southern Baptist playbook entitled:

'Witnessing to People of Eastern Orthodox Background: Turning Barriers of Belief into Bridges to Personal Faith'

here:

http://www.namb.net/...odox_Manual.pdf


Wow! Could we perhaps compile a similar manual in order to convert Baptists to Orthodoxy? The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary certainly send their missionaries in well prepared.

There were quite a few mistruths in the first part of the manual I read (I downloaded and will finish it if I have time). One example : we consider our home to be holy and a church in itself, the manual says that the Orthodox can only worship God in their churches.

A liked the historical timetable for the Orthodox Church. I wonder what a similar timetable for the Baptist Church would reveal.

Effie

#35 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 07:44 AM

Here is the story of how my associate priest came to the Faith.

He was a Baptist missionary who went to Banja Luka and tried to evangelize the people there. You will need read from the bottom of the page up.

I wish all evangelists turned out this way.

Paul


I enjoyed reading this story, Paul. There was nothing about why this man converted to the Orthodox faith. It would be interesting to read. Perhaps this is on an earlier page.

Effie

#36 John W.

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 11:56 PM

Wow! Could we perhaps compile a similar manual in order to convert Baptists to Orthodoxy? The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary certainly send their missionaries in well prepared.

There were quite a few mistruths in the first part of the manual I read (I downloaded and will finish it if I have time). One example : we consider our home to be holy and a church in itself, the manual says that the Orthodox can only worship God in their churches.

A liked the historical timetable for the Orthodox Church. I wonder what a similar timetable for the Baptist Church would reveal.

Effie


Effie,

You probably haven't read this far yet, but here is how one of the Baptist scholars summarizes the concept of "faith" in the Orthodox Church:

"Russian Orthodoxy can by summarized by three 'M's. It is mysterious, mystical, and magical. The sacraments are referred to as mysteries and much of the popular understanding of a person’s relationship to God through rituals is akin to mysticism and magic. Just as a child might believe his rabbit’s foot brings good luck, so is the popular understanding of faith in Orthodoxy."

Look for Appendix F: Rabbit's Foot Religion.

"The SBC, We put the 'hetero' in Heterodoxy!"

John

#37 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 08:39 AM

Last night there was a documentary on TV about christian fundamentalists in North Dakota. Strange but true, considering this thread.

I didn't know it was on so didn't start watching it until it was half way through. I saw young children 7,8,9 years old go into raptures during "church services", crying, flinging their arms about, mass hysteria. I saw a lifesize effigy of Bush, made out of either very thick cardboard or plywood, brought into church and I saw these young children crawling towards it, touching it and blessing it at the request of the women pastor who was directing everything. I heard these children talking about their lives and their beliefs. How their souls felt "icky" (the actual word one of the children used) whenever they came into contact with non-christians (apparently everyone not belonging to the Baptist faith). I heard these children talking about the evil of the world and how to save it. I saw them visit Washington and then canvas the area in front of the White House, asking people whether they "had been saved" and where they were going after they died. The commentator said that these children are being raised as soldiers for their faith - christians and republicans.

I saw children who are being brainwashed.

Edited by Effie Ganatsios, 04 January 2008 - 10:47 AM.


#38 Simon

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 01:35 PM

Dear Brethren,

My knowledge of evangelicals hitherto has been the Methodist church in Britain, for whom I maintain the greatest respect, whilst not going along with their approach towards God.

The whole tone of that Baptist manual to convert us (which I hope is not a complete picture of this religion with which I have had little contact) seems a crude attempt to manipulate faith by sophisticated half truths in order to extend faithwise the American crusade that is being forced down the throats of Iraquis and Afghans by the barrel of a gun. They must have some kind of complex. And then, of course, as with any form of Christianity, there are the people like Shawn's mum who are just open to that transcendant message of love and sacrifice which comes from the New Testament.

As I know little about Baptists, can anyone tell me if this attitude is prevalent amngst those black churches where they sing Gospel? Are bible belt Republican baptists in the same demonination?

Happy Theophany to Greeks, happy Xmas to the Russians,

love, Simon

#39 Father David Moser

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 02:33 PM

"Russian Orthodoxy can by summarized by three 'M's. It is mysterious, mystical, and magical. The sacraments are referred to as mysteries and much of the popular understanding of a person’s relationship to God through rituals is akin to mysticism and magic.


Oh, now that's funny! Coming from the religion that would have you believe that salvation automatically comes when you recite the magic formula (asking Jesus into your heart as your personal savior) but then I guess we are all most blind when it comes to ourselves.

Fr David

#40 Rick H.

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 03:12 PM

An Attitude/ A Mood


As I know little about Baptists, can anyone tell me if this attitude is prevalent amngst those black churches where they sing Gospel? Are bible belt Republican baptists in the same demonination?



Dear Simon,

In a former life I was an ordained Southern Baptist Pastor. Before that I was a commissioned North American Misson Board (NAMB) missionary through the Nehemiah Project of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. SBTS is the flagship of the others such as the Southwestern Baptist seminary of which the DMin project came that has been presented above. As part of my haunting of various seminaries east of the Mississippi I attended SBTS as a divinty student for three years full-time. And, I say all that to buttress my answer to your question(s) above.

First of all, pretty close to 99% of (non-academic) Baptists do not have any idea what Orthodoxy is or even know that it exists. Most know about the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope, most think the RCC is apostate and led by one filled with the spirit of Satan. But, the few that may have even heard of Eastern Orthodoxy know little more than it has something to do with beards and hats and objects made of silver and gold. so when we may consider the prevalance of this attitude, as you say, on one hand, due to the ignorance of "the baptists" this attitude does not exist at all. How could it given the vast ignorance of the subject. But, on the other hand, if there was more knowledge of the issues, I would say pretty close to 99% of both the academic and the non-academic Baptists would read this manual and say something like:

Yep, I heard that, that aint no lie, you said it brother, etc. . . .

As for your specific questions pertaining so particular groups, this cannot be answered because there is no such thing as "the baptists." There is such diversity and plurality of belief in those who tag the word baptist church onto their chosen flavor that there can be no generalizing within even cultural or political realms as you have asked about these. For example, do we want to consider the gay and lesbian baptist churches in Texas, or do we want to consider the ultra conservative fundamental SBC churches in Texas . . . and the list goes on and on.

Ultimately though Simon, I think as you wisely told another in this thread above:

I think what I'm trying to say is that what you've found in our Church is present in all churches.



This attitude, this mood, this fundamentalism, is not limited to the so-called baptist churches. We see this mood present in all churches through various persons, both the academic and the non-academic.

In Christ,
Rick




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