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#41 John W.

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 07:12 PM

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.


I also pray for "more power" to the Christian missionaries in Orthodox lands, provided that said Christian missionaries are Orthodox Christians of course.

Shawn, you wrote as if these assorted Protestant missionaries are all bearing the same sort of gospel food to feed those who are in need in Orthodox countries. As a former evangelical Protestant, I certainly remember the variety of missions appeals from all sorts of Protestant organizations, all set to bring their myriad versions of the gospel (e.g. Reformed, Armininian, Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist, Charismatic, anti-Charismatic and wow, so many flavors of Baptists! More than Baskin-Robbins!) to Russia/former Soviet Union, all in competition WITH EACH OTHER for the souls of the Orthodox. The only thing that unites these competing confessions is their shared antipathy towards the Orthodox Christian Faith.

Protestant and Mormon missionaries think that they are bringing a "basic understanding" of the Gospel when from the Orthodox Christian viewpoint, they are bringing back the same old "bad news" of the yesteryears. What sort of bad news? We see evangelical Protestants bringing back that Old Time religion of gnosticism. The essential features of gnosticism : hatred for the material world, the emphasis on private, individual illumination as opposed to the reception of a concrete Faith in the midst of a Communion, a spiritual elitism that holds the average Orthodox believer in contempt and the rejection of the centrality of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the "Medicine of Immortality." And those 26,000 pentecostals in Kiev? The demon of the Montanists rears its ugly head again. (See: http://www.fatherale...al_s_rose_e.htm)

Shawn, as an evangelical Protestant, you must have had some instruction on the concept of spiritual warfare. Then you must understand that the Orthodox Church, throughout the 2000 years of its existence, has faced unrelenting combat with these evil "powers, principalities, thrones and dominions." The Church in Her wisdom, named these demonic foes in the past so that we can recognize them in the present.

If people are in want of spiritual food, we do not rejoice that sectarian missionaries are giving them various sorts of stones when they are starving for the Bread of Life.

John

Edited by John W., 05 January 2008 - 03:59 AM.


#42 Nina

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 01:44 AM

In general many non-Orthodox missionaries exploit the poverty and try to proselytize people from rural and poor areas in traditionally Orthodox countries. Some of them for the price of 2 stale candies teach Orthodox children of such areas, the "correct" way to make the cross; and some others for the price of a 5 inch pencil teach the same children that they should not make the sign of the cross at all, because Jesus does not want them to.

Edited by Nina, 05 January 2008 - 04:36 AM.


#43 Nina

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 01:46 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.


Is this the documentary "Jesus Camp"?

I saw it and laughed when the little girl said that other churches are dead because they stay in pews like dead people and do not dance or jump around.

#44 Maria Murray

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 02:13 AM

This is a very emotional subject for me, perhaps because I am an example of a nominal Orthodox evangelized by protestants. And more than once! When I was a student in Russia, missionaries came to my school to preach the "gospel" (sorry, it is in quotes because what they call the gospel is not the same gospel of the ancient Church, but I only see it now). What I remember is their casual playful attitude and them talking to us about God like we were toddlers (actually I was 15). Some students from my class, who knew much more about Orthodoxy than I did, stayed to discuss things with them and the missionaries attacked the Orthodox faith in every way, especially, the Mother of God.

Sadly, my ignorance in my later years living in the US allowed me to be truly convinced by the protestants that I am saved as soon as I believe with certainty that God punished Jesus as a substitute for me. Consequently, they convinced me of Sola Scriptura, the myth of the invisible Church, and, of course the Orthodox Church looked very ungodly in that light. All those concepts, as I later discovered, were never a part of the original historical Church and were inventions of men. I was so arrogant as to think I had never really "heard the gospel" in the Orthodox Church!! What I actually "not heard" was not the true gospel, but the protestant version of it. The true gospel was always proclaimed in the Church, I just chose not to hear it.

Now, I know that something more could be done in the education front in our churches and I don't really know what or exactly how. We have to remember that many Orthodox churches in communist lands were only allowed to exist in worship form and were prohibited from teaching anything. The change cannot be sudden, there is a lot to recover, and we need to be patient. I also thank God that there are many very sincere God-loving protestants who do the best they can to point people to Christ, but I am not sure they are the answer for evangelizing the Orthodox, as nominal as they might be. My personal opinion based on the school of hard knocks: it's better NOT to get involved with a distorted version of the gospel at all, regardless of how well-intentioned it may be. I'm sure some will disagree.

Edited by Maria Murray, 05 January 2008 - 05:39 PM.
mistakes


#45 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 04:11 PM

Maria, I think the only value in foreign missionaries is that some of them end up becoming Orthodox. I have met several of them myself. They become excellent spokespersons for the Church!

#46 Paul Cowan

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 05:29 PM

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


Hi Effie,

Sorry if I got passionate. I have only attended the two Antiochian Churches in Houston so just assumed most all Orthodox churches were similar. We cannot afford to pay for any of our cleaners or additional help though I think we did have to break down and pay to mow the grounds as we were not able to upkeep them ourselves. Our parish has members as far away as 50 miles so to ask them to come across Houston (roughly 1 hour+ each way) just to help mow is not practical. To then go to homes to visit for coffee is just as impratical. Besides this allows for common fellowship all together.

Due to the distance we all travel, for me it is 13 miles each way or 30 minutes each way, we have Sunday school classes and Catachumen classes right after fellowship time. Most of the people don't leave until 2:00pm. Some, like the priest, arrive at 8:00am or earlier. It makes for a long day. But the Day is better for it.

Paul

Yes we do have a parish council but again they are all volunteers that rely on all the other volunteers to provide for the parish. There is a cnstant call for people to bake the Holy bread, provide snacks for coffee hour, bring toilet paper and other necessities like tea cup candles used around the church.

#47 Paul Cowan

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 05:30 PM

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


Yes it is all there. You would need to read from the first blog post to the last.

Paul

#48 John W.

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 06:24 PM

Maria, I think the only value in foreign missionaries is that some of them end up becoming Orthodox. I have met several of them myself. They become excellent spokespersons for the Church!


I wish I had saved the message posted on an old Orthodox discussion board (about 7 years ago) from a student who had volunteered for a short-term missions trip to Russia so I could've posted it here. He didn't specify where exactly he served, but he took a plane, then a train, then a bus...which dropped him off in front of an Orthodox Cathedral! There he was, with a suitcase full of Bibles and such, standing in front of this Cathedral with hundreds of people filing in for the service. He went in and spent a couple of hours observing worship. In his post, he felt that he had to apologize to some Orthodox Christians for his presumptuousness. What did he know? The missions organization told him he was going to help save godless Russia. He raised his own support (read: he paid the missions organization for this excursion) and went with the best of intentions. At the end of his post that he was going to look into Orthodox Christianity. Herman, I hope that he was one of those persons that you have met!

My brother (as of this date) is still and evangelical Protestant who receives appeals and invitations still from organizations trying to "REACH" godless Russia. It's funny how so many of these organizations choose to have a photo of their reps/missionaries standing in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, so colorful and beautiful with those gleaming gold crosses on top! Why do they fail to see the irony?

I emailed one of these organizations inquiring why, in each picture in a series of photographs of St. Basil's Cathedral, the gold crosses in each picture were cropped out. I never got a reply.

John

#49 Olga

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 02:04 AM

It's funny how so many of these organizations choose to have a photo of their reps/missionaries standing in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, so colorful and beautiful with those gleaming gold crosses on top! Why do they fail to see the irony?


Quite.

I emailed one of these organizations inquiring why, in each picture in a series of photographs of St. Basil's Cathedral, the gold crosses in each picture were cropped out. I never got a reply.?


How very interesting. If you do eventually find out, could you let us know? I wonder how these people can justify this in the light of Apostle Paul's extensive pronouncements on the Cross and its significance.

#50 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 10:11 AM

Hi Effie,

Sorry if I got passionate. I have only attended the two Antiochian Churches in Houston so just assumed most all Orthodox churches were similar. We cannot afford to pay for any of our cleaners or additional help though I think we did have to break down and pay to mow the grounds as we were not able to upkeep them ourselves. Our parish has members as far away as 50 miles so to ask them to come across Houston (roughly 1 hour+ each way) just to help mow is not practical. To then go to homes to visit for coffee is just as impratical. Besides this allows for common fellowship all together.

Due to the distance we all travel, for me it is 13 miles each way or 30 minutes each way, we have Sunday school classes and Catachumen classes right after fellowship time. Most of the people don't leave until 2:00pm. Some, like the priest, arrive at 8:00am or earlier. It makes for a long day. But the Day is better for it.

Paul

Yes we do have a parish council but again they are all volunteers that rely on all the other volunteers to provide for the parish. There is a cnstant call for people to bake the Holy bread, provide snacks for coffee hour, bring toilet paper and other necessities like tea cup candles used around the church.


yes, I can understand how different situations require different solutions. And I confess that I like the sound of getting together afterwards for coffee on the church grounds. This wouldn't be practical for our Sunday services though because there are just too many people.

Most churches have reception halls built in the church grounds here. These are used after memorial services. Coffee accompanied by various delicacies cooked and brought by the women of the family of the deceased are served. Also most of the "guests" also bring something for the soul of the departed. These reception halls are also used for after funerals when people eat beans, olives, bread, and drink wine for forgiveness both for and from the deceased. Meat is not eaten after the funeral itself but at the 40 day memorial service it is.

My church is only a 10 minute walk from my house so I'm lucky, Paul. A 1hour drive is a long way and I can only admire these people. I believe we are quite spoilt here. There seems to be a church on every corner.

Effie

#51 Simon

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 02:11 PM

[Dear Rick, thanks for telling me a bit about the baptists; where I live, proselytism by protestants is really limited to JW's, who are well-meaning and open, despite getting so many things wrong. Our local RC's seem rather in awe of our spiritual awareness, and anxious to help us out with accomodation, and the Mormons - well, they're good natured lads with badges, and they don't ususally proselytise unless asked. In fact, as an English teacher, I sometimes invite them to a lesson to give my students a chance to hear American english, on condition that they'll only speak about mormonism if asked, and hitherto they've always respected this. They've never ever tried to convert me away from Orthodoxy, in fact they ask me questions about it, and say things like, "Wow, that's cool." Or "Hey that sounds awesome".

What I didn't like about that Baptist manual was that it seemed to try to gain people's confidence in order to then plant doubts and finally draw the person away from our Church. I remember years ago being told how to use a similar process in order to sell encyclopaedias. Maria's letter seems to corroborate this idea. And if one is sneaky and underhand in one's means, then what may be said for the ends?

Well, I'm off for a kip in preparation for tonight's Christmas service, love to all,

Simon

#52 Shawn Lazar

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 05:49 PM

Hi John W,

Well, I certainly do not rejoice that just ANY sectarian group goes to nominally Orthodox lands to preach the gospel, because, well, not everyone preaches the gospel. Mormons and JWs for instance, are about as Christian as Islam.

However, I have much less of problem with evangelicals going, because at the very least, they believe in the councils of Nicea and Chalcedon. In other words, the basic truths about Jesus and the Trinity are there. And considering the emphasis on reading the Bible that evangelicals have, I would say that the over all Biblical story of redemption would probably be presented more fully than in an Orthodox church. (I was speaking with a middle-aged cradle Orthodox woman the other day, and in the context of our conversation I brought up the story of Joseph in Egypt. She had never heard of him!)

Moreover, in my experience of living in the States, I've found that the majority of the most passionate Orthodox believers I've encountered were former evangelicals. (To be honest, I can't think of any exception to that rule, except for two converts from Catholicism. I just assume there are cradle Orthodox who are not nominal, perhaps who I met online). And, if I'm not mistaken, I've heard that the majority of students attending Orthodox seminaries in the US are also converts from evangelicalism. In short, the encounter between evangelicals and Orthodox seems to be a good thing, especially for the Orthodox.

#53 Michael Stickles

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 07:31 PM

I was so arrogant as to think I had never really "heard the gospel" in the Orthodox Church!! What I actually "not heard" was not the true gospel, but the protestant version of it. The true gospel was always proclaimed in the Church, I just chose not to hear it.


I'm reminded here of some of my dad's stories about when he worked in a steel mill. He learned what was right and what wasn't, what worked and what didn't, by listening, watching others, trying things himself, and using common sense. At times, recently-graduated engineers would come in with their new ideas about how to "do things better", and most of the time dad and his buddies would have to say "that won't work". Well, because these blue-collar workers couldn't explain WHY the idea wouldn't work (with appropriate blueprints and three-decimal-place accuracy), the engineers ignored them as "not knowing anything about engineering", implemented the idea, and then scratched their heads when it didn't work.

I think you can see the parallel. My dad and his friends knew the engineering facts; they just didn't know them in a form that the engineer recognized, because it was more "intuitive" or "by feel" rather than calculated and structured. And I think that often Orthodox who are thought by Protestants to have "not heard the Gospel" have simply not heard it in the logical, propositional form that Protestants prefer (since the issue usually seems to be less a matter of doctrine than of intellectual understanding). They may not "know" it in the Western way of "knowing" (head knowledge), but that certainly doesn't mean they don't know it at all.

Unfortunately, when one's head is Western (logical, propositional knowledge preferred) but one's faith is Eastern (mystery, liturgy, experience), there can be a lack of internal harmony. Those who bring a system of knowing and believing which puts mind and faith in harmony will sometimes find converts among those seeking such harmony, even if the system they bring is heterodox. The converted one winds up thinking he or she didn't really know anything before, not because they didn't, but because their understanding of what it means to "know" has changed.

Of course, as the many Protestant converts to Orthodoxy show, that dynamic works in the other direction as well.

(BTW: I'm not saying that's what happened to you, Maria, just that your post brought this idea up)

In christ,
Mike

#54 Nina

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 01:56 AM

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


I recognize that this post is old water under the bridge, but it is worth mentioning that grandparents in general in such countries tell children in addition to fairy tales, also bible stories. These countries did not have the books available that we have in modern days like "Bible for children" "Bible for kindergarten" "New Testament in pictures" etc. but they had grandparents (and of course parents) who together with the first food nourished children also with spiritual food.

One of my favorites was my grandmother explaining me the torments of hell, through the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The nuances she gave to that story and the way she recounted it, left indelible impressions on my memory.

This truth is also expressed in the reply of one of the Russian patriarchs to a communist leader about faith and grandparents as conveyors of the Orthodox faith.

Also if the Orthodox did not have a deep understanding of their God's Word how can they have gone through persecutions and difficulties without betraying their Orthodoxy? Although not every Orthodox holds a PhD and can write a paper about Orthodox matters they have an understanding of Orthodoxy and God's Word in every cell of their body. For many it molded together with the very first cells and for others it became life itself later on.

#55 Father David Moser

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 05:38 AM

, and the Mormons - well, they're good natured lads with badges, and they don't ususally proselytise unless asked. In fact, as an English teacher, I sometimes invite them to a lesson to give my students a chance to hear American english, on condition that they'll only speak about mormonism if asked, and hitherto they've always respected this. They've never ever tried to convert me away from Orthodoxy, in fact they ask me questions about it, and say things like, "Wow, that's cool." Or "Hey that sounds awesome".


In my experience (and since I live here in "Mormon country" I get a fair amount of it) most Mormons don't really know what their own Church teaches. I just baptised a former Mormon. On the eve of his baptism we went through a series of renunciations of various points of the Mormon faith that stand in stark disagreement with Orthodoxy. His most frequent response was that he he didn't know that the Mormon Church believed that (and for my part I checked most of what we discussed on the Mormon website - actually a "children's" book about Mormon beliefs - so I am confident that this is indeed the teaching of their religion). Also, most of the Mormons I know that actually "lost" their faith (rather than just never really practiced it) lost it on their mission (when they actually came into contact with real people who had different beliefs and who lived normal lives).


Fr David Moser

#56 Paul Cowan

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 03:17 AM

I do NOT want to get into a Mormon bashing dialogue. I would say 25% of my volunteers and it is alot of them are Mormon. Actually they adopted their male youth program to who I work for. So I have alot riding on their "happiness" within my organization.

We also unfortunaltely practise religious tolerance in my work and promote every religions youth religious education award. I have had to endure many prayers I have had to cringe at and keep my mouth shut.

I hope they do not ask me to pray publicly though secretly I hope they do. Boy are they going to be in for "religious tolerance". We'll start with Psalm 50/51....:)

Paul

#57 Andrew

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Posted 09 January 2008 - 08:21 PM

I do NOT want to get into a Mormon bashing dialogue. I would say 25% of my volunteers and it is alot of them are Mormon. Actually they adopted their male youth program to who I work for. So I have alot riding on their "happiness" within my organization.

We also unfortunaltely practise religious tolerance in my work and promote every religions youth religious education award. I have had to endure many prayers I have had to cringe at and keep my mouth shut.

I hope they do not ask me to pray publicly though secretly I hope they do. Boy are they going to be in for "religious tolerance". We'll start with Psalm 50/51....:)

Paul


I've heard that the Boy Scouts of America are largely run by Mormons... I knew a few Mormon Eagle Scouts in High School.

#58 Olga

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 03:29 AM

I've heard that the Boy Scouts of America are largely run by Mormons... I knew a few Mormon Eagle Scouts in High School.


That's a change from the usual charge that the Scout Movement is run by Freemasons ... Therer is little limit to the imagination of conspiracy theorists.

#59 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 03:19 AM

Most of the founding members of the Children's Shelter that I am a part of, are former Girl Guides. This is a wholly Orthodox venture and one I am proud to participate in. We start and end each weekly meeting with a beautiful hymn to the Theotokos and a prayer.

Effie

#60 Paul Cowan

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 04:58 AM

Hi Andrew,

This is not true. Yes, they are the highest number as far as members in the organization, but they only in the last 5 years surpassed the United Methodist church in highest member enrollment. SInce we are their youth program they will of course have a higher Eagle Scout ratio as well.

I have not found any more Mormons within our professional ranks than I have an other denomination. We are mostly a nominal protestant organization welcoming in every body that professes a belief in a God of their choosing. This is the hardest thing for me as I am required to offer the program to Muslims, Buddhists and other nonchristian Faiths. I regret to say I have been deficient in fulfilling my job responsibiities to these other Faiths.

Paul

You might find this link interesting

I've heard that the Boy Scouts of America are largely run by Mormons... I knew a few Mormon Eagle Scouts in High School.






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