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Why I am NOT Catholic
  • Although I was raised in the RC, and having lived in France where there the RC is very well known and active, I find myself more attached even more to my orthodox faith.

    I'd like to give a few reasons why:

    a) All the RC dogmas that differ from us are generally redundant. They have no bearing, and in fact, in most cases, reduce the importance of the sacraments.
    b) There is no discipleship between priests and bishops. A priest can do as he pleases, and a bishop will not do anything about it.
    c) There are communities that are excommunicated from the main Catholic Church. These are mainly latin rites, or those from Monsignor Lefbevre. (that traditionalists).
    d) There is a huge lack of orthodoxy in the RC. They seem to do things that are popular rather than those that are right.


    FINALLy, the MOST IMPORTANT reason why I cannot be part of the RC is because of this:



    I was there when it happened, and now its here to stay. Do not worry if you do not understand French, trust me, you will understand this video 100%


    Its a disgrace!! And it gets worse! This the Cathedral of Notre Dame FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!!!

  • You know Zoxsasi, you are very insightful.
  • iLoveSaintMark,

    Its gone completely charismatic. After they dance around the alter , they go and speak in tongues and start pushing people over (something called "Slain in Spirit").

    There are many Catholics who are dead against this, and many who are for. But what worries me is that what kind of Church has Bishops that promote charismatic prayer and Bishops who are against it? Where is the authority of the Pope in this? Is he agreeing with this!?? Does he think dancing around the alter is good???

    How does dancing around the alter edify the Church? How does it edify you?

    What a load of nonsense!!

    This is the lack of Orthodoxy I'm talking about. Its a HUGE shame. Its a disaster. If there was any sort of unity possible between us and the RC, this has blown it right away.
  • Wow, are they doing this in the church(dancing around and jumping everywhere)?

    If they are, i can clearly see why you are growing more attached to the true church(Coptic Orthodoxy)?
  • [quote author=geomike link=topic=9363.msg115559#msg115559 date=1276620235]
    Wow, are they doing this in the church(dancing around and jumping everywhere)?

    If they are, i can clearly see why you are growing more attached to the true church(Coptic Orthodoxy)?


    Dude, this is the tip of the iceberg. This hurts as I love the RC. I think we all do. We are both apostolic Churches. This is a disaster for the traditionalists catholics and for the Orthodox Christians looking to unite.

    This whole Charismatic movement began in the WORST way possible.

    There were a 1 or 2 Charismatic movements that were light. They just spoke in tongues and that's it. Now there are many many more. with the most notorious being:

    a) Emmanuel Community
    b) Beatitude (Verging on black magic)
    c) Saint John

    Habibi, no Church is perfect. Certainly not ours, but I cannot be united with stuff like this. The Catholic Church is on a road to self destruction. It has tried so hard to reach out to charismatic protestant groups that it has lost its own identity.

    Just keep on looking on youtube.. it gets worse.
  • I would rather not look up more of these videos because the one you posted really disturbed me and i am afraid that when i see these kind of people on the street i will look at them differently.
  • Hello my brothers and sisters in Christ,

    I hope that this message finds you all well. It is my personal opinion that we do not try to intentionally point out the shortcomings of others; these people are, after all, made in the image of God, and though they are misguided in their ways, it is important and necessary that we pray and do so fervently for their souls, that God may lead them back into the proper path of their salvation. We are all afflicted with our own shortcomings, and it would certainly be comforting for me to know that others were praying for me, that my ways be corrected and that I come closer to God.

    Rather than concerning myself with why I am not a Catholic, perhaps I should consider how Orthodox I truly am in my actions, words, thoughts, feelings, and disposition towards God and towards others.

    Forgive me and pray for my own weakness,
    childoforthodoxy
  • Ok let me rephrase it. The reason why myself and many others have chosen to be orthodox apostolic rather than roman catholic IS for the reasons given below. The catholic church is now charismatic.
  • Zoxsasi,

    You mean the perpetual fireside sing-a-long of Kumbayya.
  • [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=9363.msg115583#msg115583 date=1276635090]
    Zoxsasi,

    You mean the perpetual fireside sing-a-long of Kumbayya.


    Oh you mean the song of "Kumbayya me Lord , Kumbayya.. Kumbayya me Lord... " LOL.. that was funny Saint Mark.

    I didnt know Catholics sang that.

    Anyway, let me speak to you as to WHY I am Orthodox and not Roman catholic:

    I complained to a catholic priest and clergy as well as deacons etc about the charismatic movement in the Church. They said that they did not agree with it either. So far, so good; but they said that if I don't like it, I should go to another Catholic Church where they do not pray in this way.

    WOW.

    Let's examine that statement closely:

    "If you don't like it, go to another Catholic Church where they do not pray in tongues, nor dance around the alter".

    If His Holiness Pope Shenouda said only congregations who are from Alexandria can get divorced, but those from Cairo must remain married under all circumstances; do you think I would remain Coptic Orthodox?? No. Even if divorce does not concern me, what bothers me is that within the same church, you have different values. That cannot be right!!!

    I cannot respect that!! I cannot fathom a Church where the Bishops disagree with people dancing around a Church, and some bishops think its "cool", and the only solution is to avoid them if u do not like that type of prayer. What then IS the point of having a spiritual leader or hierarchy? That renders the Catholic Pope useless. That means that if stuff like this goes on in the open, what concessions do they do in the closed???

    What kind of hierarchy is that?? That was the BIGGEST Cathedral in France!! It was Notre Dame. The Bishops of Paris and the Cardinal of Paris were 110% aware of it.
    The Traditional rites are totally against it. What is that!? How can you have bishops opposing bishops???

    Regardless, because I personally believe that dancing, speaking garbage or gibberish, falling over in spirit Is NOT from the Holy Spirit, I cannot help but feel that if they have gone THIS far to deceive people about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, what else then will they do?? What other things are being hidden!?

    It was said that when you speak in tongues, it edifies the Church; and if you speak and  do not have an interpretor, it is best to shut up. But they boast in these gifts. These gifts only seem to edify their egos, and furthermore, who is believing because of them???

    The Orthodox Church is not lacking in miracles nor Graces from God to need to swoop down to petty trivial spooky African Black Magic in order to edify itself. It is not lacking in these things. And I choose my words carefully! These charismatic characteristics came from anglican african priests who entered the catholic Church. The Catholic Church literally told them to "NOT COME AGAIN".

    The video I posted is from a group called the Beatitidues. Their spiritual father is a priest called Silouane who taught them all this nonsense. He was a protestant priest that came from Africa and entered into the Catholic Church proclaiming the Catholic faith. However, he never let go of his charismatic habbits. Instead , he combined them, and made the Catholic Church - Charismatic!!!

    So what happened next? Well, as you can see, it became HUGELY popular. Youth were so inspired by that. The result was the biggest prayer groups and communities in France. The RC was quite happy to see a big youth turnout in their diocese, and all this was largely thanks to Silouane.

    When the Archbishop of Versailles saw what was going on, he told Siloane: "Listen, do not come here again. We dont want you. We do not approve of your methods". They could not stop the youth from still adopting these charismatic methods. I've seen with my own eyes the followers of Silouane take young girls, and boys and make them "slain in spirit" - making them fall over, claiming that this is from the Holy Spirit! That is RIDICULOUS and against the fundamental basis of our relationship with Graces we receive from the Holy Spirit.

    Whenever I read the Bible, I can see that this is leading people away from repentance and confession. It leads them away thinking that they can abide in the Holy Spirit by a few hand movements over their head, and without repenting, without confessing, without ANYTHING, all of sudden, the Holy Spirit has descended upon them, and made them fall over. Yeah, right! Whatever!

    That makes a mockery of "I am the Vine, and you are the branches in the vine" - for the Holy Spirit to work in you, you keep MY COMMANDMENTS. So, where is the pursuing of keeping God's commandments in ANY OF THIS CRAZY CHARISMATIC SPIRITUALITY!!???

    There is also a danger that this nonsense is close to coming in our Church. Many protestants have become Coptic, and have not left their charismatic ways. This is a worry.

    Anyway, I hope this clears things up. Orthodoxy has been faithful to the apostolic teachings. It is the shortest distance between 2 points: Earth and Heaven.
    It has kept faithful and sincere to itself all the teachings and doctrines of the Church from the time of the Apostles. When St Paul commanded us in Titus: "Keep hold of the teachings we have given you by WORD OF MOUTH and by LETTER" , the Orthodox Church has done so, and at a cost to being popular. The Coptic Orthodox Church has done what is right, and not what is popular in the hope of maintaining, passing on, and continuing what it has received from the Apostles.

  • all other churches might fall but it will take alot of power to bring down the coptic Church
  • Nevermind the inquisition, the crusades and all the other horrible things. How about John Paul being blessed by a pagan priestess? Placing an idol of buddha on the altar in Assisi? Worshipping with jews AND kissing the koran. We kiss the Gospel in willing submission to Gods word, so why would he kiss the koran?

    This video is wonderful Zoxa Si, and reinforces my point. The Latin church is more about image than anything, which has led to its liberalization. Which even Latin priests tried to warn the pope about and were silenced. ( Fr Paul Hanley Furfey who wrote The Mystery of Iniquity and Fr Felix who wrote Liberalism is a Sin) There are several instances in which charismatic and other protestant mumbo jumbo has influenced the church, much to my suprise this behavior is accepted.

    Even in the 2nd vatican council they discussed that several people had paid their way to "Sit on the throne of St Peter" and nobody seemed to have a problem with that, or the fact that the bishops were unbelievably wealthy, and stingy on top of it, when they didnt even have to pay any taxes! its sad to see something like this, thanks for the video.
  • After first reading this thread, I couldn't agree more, for I am too not so fond of charismatic worship.  But to be completely fair and not close-minded, I would like to point out that as Orthodox Christians we accept some sort of 'charismatic' worship.  The Ethiopian church's method of worship is quite festive, people dance, people sing, people drum, yet it does not affect their orthodoxy, does it? 

    Likewise, many of the new converts to Orthodoxy in Africa[specifically Coptic,] follow a similar style of worship, that incorporates their native ways of worship, with the more concentrated Orthodox way.  Many of the spiritual songs played at Youth Retreats are usually Protestant in-origin, but does that make them wrong to sing?
  • gregorythesinner,

    It is completely unfair and incorrect to put the Ethiopian and African expression in worship in the same realm as the charismatic "mumbo jumbo" [to quote Ioannes].
  • As someone who was a Protestant, and has a great deal of sympathy for many Protestants, I would have to say that I am not happy with the fact that so many Protestant songs are sung by Copts, so many Protestant books are read by Copts, and even so many Protestant churches are attended by Copts.

    It is true that Protestant and Catholic hymns and songs can be Orthodox in content, but it does not seem to me that all, or many, of the songs which are sung have been subject to approval by priests and bishops. It is also the case that tunes also communicate a message, and an attitude in worship, and this is also not always Orthodox, though it can be.

    We should be very careful that while we are outgoing and generous in our evangelistic activity towards Protestants we do not allow Protestantism to take root in our Churches and in our hearts.

    The hymns of St Severus have not been set to English tunes or made into songs or hymns. They could be. That would be a more worthwhile exercise for some Copts who have musical gifts than accepting wholesale the various collections of Protestant hymns. Setting the psalms to simple tunes in English would be a worthwhile activity. We need to be vigilant. We should not allow ourselves to become Protestant by the back door.

    Father Peter
  • Amen. Amen. Amen. Fr. Peter.  My sentiments exactly.
  • St Theophan the Recluse said..

    You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins... I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever.

    Let us all be watchful so that we do not allow anything outside of Orthodoxy to enter our hearts so that it might lead us away from life and truth. It is possible to enter a different faith even while still being notionally Orthodox. It is possible to betray Orthodoxy even while knowing all the hymns and attending all the services.

    Let us all be careful. What we allow into our hearts and minds will affect the nature and direction of our faith. The fathers of the Church suffered exile, persecution and death to preserve our Faith. The choir of martyrs gave their lives rather than compromise the Orthodox Faith. Let us all be very careful that we do not allow error into the Church, into our hearts and homes. It has the appearance of being reasonable, of being modern and contemporary, of being exciting. This is how it begins, but error leads us away from truth and life. Let us all be careful.

    Father Peter
  • I have watched carefully many Ethiopian spiritual songs, the women/men spiritual singers were always humble with deep spirituality in words and attitude, and in the case of more festive ones I found they were always highly organized with many similarly well-dressed deacons, etc.

    I assure you this cannot be classified with such chaotic charismatic dancing around the Altar.

    GBU

    EDIT: sorry Father Peter I was just posting.
  • Dear John,

    I think that if anyone watches the video from the Oriental Orthodox Festival they will see entirely what you describe.

    Indeed when I was in Senegal for a while many years ago the music and singing of the local people was not the same as modern Western charismatic and pentecostal worship either.

    We do know that many of the fathers set theological lyrics to their contemporary tunes, so I am not absolutely against contemporary music. But these ancient examples did not intrude into the congregational worship of the Church. I also note that in my own lifetime the nature of contemporary Protestant music has changed greatly. When I was young the music would be acoustic, based on simple folk tunes, but now it is often either a rock band or a jazz band. The songs have become emotionally charged and full of natural energy rather spiritual energy.

    I preached a couple of weeks ago about how our Orthodox worship was ideal for broken and struggling people such as we are, since we had already repeatedly asked God for his mercy, and for the forgiveness of our sins. I preached that it was my experience that if you were struggling it was hard to attend a charismatic or pentecostal worship service since it was geared almost entirely for people who were excited, up for plenty of noise and dance, and who tended to view things in a triumphalistic manner.

    If we are going to set Orthodox lyrics to simple acoustic folk tunes then we need to ensure that the lyrics are entirely and completely Orthodox, and that the music supports the words rather than adding some additional element which detracts from the lyrics.

    Father Peter
  • [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=9363.msg115656#msg115656 date=1276724179]
    Setting the psalms to simple tunes in English would be a worthwhile activity.

    Father Peter


    The psalms in the Coptic church do in fact have tunes that are fairly simple. Just not many have heard them or are aware of them. They aren't always recorded and there are variations in the tunes. The tradition actually came from the monasteries as the monks always chant the psalms.
  • Not everything in Protestantism is bad by any means. There are old Protestant groups in parts of the UK who only sing Psalms. That is their hymn book, and they use simple tunes which they have used for centuries.

    We cannot read and learn the Psalms too much. I wish I knew the Psalms by heart. These were the songs of the Church.

    Father Peter
  • [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=9363.msg115673#msg115673 date=1276730319]
    Not everything in Protestantism is bad by any means. There are old Protestant groups in parts of the UK who only sing Psalms. That is their hymn book, and they use simple tunes which they have used for centuries.

    We cannot read and learn the Psalms too much. I wish I knew the Psalms by heart. These were the songs of the Church.

    Father Peter


    Fr. Peter, do you think that when discussing protestantism that we should make distinctions between older protestant groups and the newer ones? Many of the older ones from the reformation era still held the belief that the eucharist is a sacrament, with the exception of some like Zwingli. But it seems to be the more recent of the denominations that is really out there. I dont know just a thought, but what do you think? Wont that help so its not so broad when we say "protestantism"?
  • Dear Ioannes,

    Yes, I think you are right. There is a difference between the older Protestant groups and the very modern ones. But this is not to say that the older groups are more sound than the newer ones when we think of Orthodox being attracted to Protestant books and churches. In my own mind it just helps me understand where a person is coming from and respects the fact that a Lutheran does not have the same faith as a Pentecostal and so lumping them all together is not always helpful. It would be like saying that all 'traditional' churches are the same and ignoring the differences between Catholics, Orthodox, Byzantines and Assyrians.

    The oldest groups are the Lutherans, Anglicans and Reformed. All of these suffer from liberalism more than pentecostalism. This is not to say that there are not groups within each of these groups who are trying to bring their community back to a more 'orthodox' theology and spirituality. But to be honest I think they are facing an impossible task.

    Out of these groups, in the UK at least, came the Methodists, Plymouth Brethren, Baptists, Salvation Army etc, who were important especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were all serious attempts by serious people to live more Biblical and spiritual lives. But the Methodists are now almost entirely liberal, and the other groups have tended to become affected by the pentecostalist spirit of the age and have abandoned the theology of their own founders.

    Indeed the great issue as I see it is that modern Protestantism in the UK has tended to become a-theological, believing nothing very much, or believing anything, while it has also become more emotional. While the church services I might have attended 30 years ago might have been rather dull but fairly serious, now they would attempt to create, unwittingly generally, some sense of excitement and emotion, while having the form of a business seminar. In many places the worship of the church has indeed become like a multi-level marketing recruitment meeting.

    And yet, there are still those who are serious about their faith, who know the Bible, and are seeking to serve God. So I find it very hard to dismiss all Protestants as if they were the same. I know that they are not. There are many people who are in various groups, feeling rather lost, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. They are where they are because that is as far as they have been able to walk with Christ - they were not evangelised by Copts or Orthodox. We cannot and should not criticise them for attending a pentecostal church or a liberal church if the only person to talk to them about Christ came from such a group.

    But whether liberal or emotional, whether committed to a social gospel or a political one, whether old-fashioned and serious, Protestantism of all varieties is gravely deficient in comparison to Orthodoxy. We can see how a person can make connections from Protestantism and become Orthodox - which is why I keep stressing these connections. But I cannot see how a faithful Orthodox whose spiritual life is sound could turn from Orthodoxy to Protestantism.

    I was on a train the other day and as we were stopped at a station I saw that there was a siding. It was quite short and i could see that it led to some buffers. It made me think that the siding was connected to the same track that I was on but that what mattered was the direction a train was going. If the train was on the siding and heading away from London then it was heading to a dead-end that would lead nowhere. But if it was heading towards London then that siding could and would join up with the mainline and the train would reach the same destination as I was going to. It was the same track, and it was still connected to the mainline, but what mattered was the direction of travel. If a Protestant is drawn towards the mainline then he/she will find life and truth, but if an Orthodox chooses to head down the siding he/she will pretty soon hit the buffers.

    Father Peter
  • wow, that's an awesome thought.
    i am praying for our brothers on the sidings.
    and i will pray for you all as u continue this very important discussion,
    i have to get back to my books and study.
  • May I say that I've already addressed this issue Fr. Peter to our Priests and Bishops. I explained to them that we should NOT have protestant "emotional songs" in our Church, and they said "But the words are not in contradiction to our faith, so we allow it, because the youth enjoy singing them".

    They do not realise that by allowing them, they are causing a huge problem:

    The Coptic Orthodox Youth who sing these songs in our Church will say to themselves: "Well, if we sing these songs in the Coptic Church, why not sing them with Protestants?". This will lead them to say "What then is wrong with going to protestant temples and worshipping there with them if we've already accepted that we have things in common?". Many of them , although they are trying to be open minded, cannot distinguish between Orthodox Spirituality and Protestant Spirituality, and what's more, they tend to import their spirituality into our Church.

    I have been in MANY arguments with youth that already go to Protestant Temples that singing in tongues (GIBBERISH) is NOT from the Holy Spirit. They refuse to acknowledge this. Whenever there is a youth meeting, I am always surprised to see protestant songs being sung. I am thinking to myself "Where did they learn this? How comes I never learnt this at Sunday School?"

    It turns out that they ALL go to the protestant temples in London and elsewhere.

    Our youth are not good amabassadors to our Church: rather than having the high spiritual capacity to export Orthodoxy, they foolishly have imported protestantism in our Church, and our own priests and bishops seem very oblivious to all this.

    I spoke to one Bishop about this issue, and he said to me: "It was worse before, at least now they accept some Orthodox hymns, so we allow a mix of Protestant and Orthodox hymns".

    We are already rich in hymnology, songs of praise and vespers - why aren't they singing from what our Church gives them? Why are we now acting like a Proxy for the Protestant Church??

    I was in the Catholic Church for many years because there was NO orthodox church around, and believe it or not, I taught them all 2nd and 3rd Hoss and Golgotha (Good Friday Hymn). I didnt lose my Coptic Identity when I'm surrounded by Catholics!! On the contrary, many have liked very much the Orthodox Church. But I don't all of a sudden become "Catholic" because its popular!!

    But these youths cannot see that they are replacing and promoting Protestantism in our Church because of their foolish ignorance of what their own Church has. They are not interested in knowing about their Church, but rather more enlightened with the feel-good fuzzy feeling they get when going to the Protestant Church.

    I'm sad, because we are throwing, by our own hands, our CHurch away and helping the adversaries of the Church. It was easy before for the Church to denounce heresies or heretical spirituality, but now, by foolishness we have allowed it in ourselves, and I fear the identity of our Church will be affected.

    If someone is Orthodox, and attends protestant temple worship, I would suggest that they decide whether they are orthodox or protestant and choose. But NOT both! That's it. They cannot have both.

    I met a guy in a Coptic Church who was protestant before. He is now coptic orthodox, and has invited MANY of our youth to his old Church. They all pray in tongues, and their prayers are very charismatic. Their minds are so open that if they open it any more, something will fall out.

    We are talking about Church servants in the Church!! Not small individuals who never come to Church.

    These people influence others. Its not right.
  • Zoxsasi,

    You are one fiery young lady.
    You said word for word what I think and say.
    I did not know I had a twin in Europe.
    I appreciate your words--well said.
  • For me I find it important to distinguish between the elder protestant and newer protestant. Alot of these newer denominations popping up are very liberal, in the true sense of the word, that everyone's truth is truth and we dont all have to agree on everything. I do notice in that red book from St Marks in DC that there are several "worship" songs from relatively new denominations, many from the charismatic sect "The Vineyard", who believe there must be one united church for Christ to return. I cant tell you how sick I felt that this was in my church, I left that for a reason.

    Needless to say Fr Anthony Messah of St Marks in DC is somewhat liberal, unfortunately the sermon I had of his from Orthodoxsermons.org is no longer posted, in which he made jokes about the Orthodox church. I dont think we should incorporate these songs because "the youth like to sing them", many of these songs have no real substance. Like our Psalmody, I remember literally crying when I heard it. There is so much theology in it that one could learn about our church from that itself! When I studied it and learned directly from our sub-deacon, that knows every single hymn in the church, english, coptic, and arabic, I gained much more respect for it.

    The thing that scares me about this is exactly what Fr Peter had said, we should not let any of this in, even through the back door. It may seem harmless but everything does at first. The reason I find many of these denominations more dangerous than say Islam, is because these ideas can lead someone astray from the true faith. I may be going overboard but our church has done just fine the last 2,000 years with the hymns we have, we dont need to add any more, especially those from sects that directly oppose ours. Of course I also believe that the church should seperate the men and women, and most youth dont agree with that.
  • I just want to say that at a time when many denominations (Catholic, Anglican, Baptists) etc are losing their identities, it is more important that we maintain ours and stick to our Apostolic heritage. This is our differentiator.

    Although I am extremely sad that the Catholics have been attacked by the Charismatic movement, and the Anglicans have been divided over whether or not to ordain gay priests, I can see that this will open doors for those who are searching for the fullness of the Christian faith, for the original apostolic traditions and spirituality.

    It is with this in mind that we cannot make concessions with hymns, spirituality or ideology in our Church that comes from elsewhere, outside the Orthodox faith. Their division, their perdition from Orthodoxy will only differentiate us more and show others our faith. A faith that we can be proud of.

    However, we need our bishops and priests to be steadfast in their faith and stop bend over back-wards to appease the youth.

    Furthermore, in SundaySchool, I do not see any mention of our patristics, but on many occassions, I HATE to hear opinion being preached as dogma, and worse still opinion emanating from either Catholic or Protestant thought.

    NOw, I am more partial towards the Catholic Church, more than any protestant Church, but still, I would not recommend it even in our Church as we do in fact have our own identity, and that should be respected.

    By all means, LEAVE the Orthodox Church if you love the Protestant; but do not bring protestantism to us. I feel this is what is happening. Just like Fr. Silouane, he didnt leave his Charismatic ways, and now this has exacerbated an already growing Charismatic movement, the same with our youth who are hell bent on attending Protestant worship and bringing it inside our Church.

    I would prefer our CHurch to be empty,rather than to attend ANOTHER protestant-style prayer meeting (like St Marks' London Friday Meetings) ever again. I HATE IT. The youth bring their guitars, girls sing solo in the Church, and if u say "Shall we do something from the tasbeha?" - they all arrogantly respond saying: " no no... let's stick with English." or "we do not know any doxologies from the tasbeha".

    What is this!!!!!!!?

  • Zoxasi, I think we should all remember Luke 18:8 "When the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?" This relates to the apostasy, which is in full swing right now. Hopefully there will be many who will find their way here, but hopefully those IN the church find their way as well and stop treating church as a cultural thing as opposed to a mode of salvation.

    Our church also started doing these kind of liberal things too. They did not get anyone with a guitar to my knowledge, but encouraged people to do so. I staunchly objected, and I know people view it as stubborn and dont quite understand the implications of it. I think we should take the lessons of the early church fathers and adopt their stubboness and refusal to submit to foreign ideas. Needless to say I would not shut up, and it eventually just died out, simply because there is no substance to it. They were doing it more for fun as opposed to glorifying and worshipping God.

    An example of how things can get done. When I first started going to this church, I felt kind of out of place to begin with. Then the majority of the Liturgy was in arabic, so when they did the prayers it was almost if they were for the arabic speaking people only. Once baptized I wrote a letter to the head of the church, at that time we did not have our own priest, detailing why the liturgy should only be in english. It apparently worked because we use predominantly english, I still throw tantrums when we start backsliding, I love coptic, but I am thinking of people just walking in and what they would think.

    We all must be bold not just the priest or bishop, but voice our opinions in a bold yet respectful way. We are all in charge of keeping this church, not just a few. We have kept this  church for 2,000 years, longer than any single government, and in the face of constant persecution. It is our duty to stand up for what is right in our church, and to defend it. I do not want to end up like the Latins, or protestants.Mk 13:13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved."
  • From my experiences with friends who have turned to Protestantism, it's never been about our youth introducing themselves to Protestantism, but rather Protestantism introducing itself to them, mainly through the media.  As you all must know, 90% of Christian media is Protestant-related.  I find it real easy for anyone to be attracted to a fiery sermon, that is interrupted by a catchy musical number, where the whole congregation sings along.  Comparing that to the conservative Orthodox liturgy and the more intellectual/spiritually-based sermons [yet not as catchy] the youth usually opt to attend the former.  One must admit, that the protestant church does a much better job, than either the Catholic or the Orthodox churches, in attracting new members.

    As a result, the Orthodox church, agrees to compromise [as to not lose it's youth to the Protestant churches] by allowing/accepting the usage of popular Christian songs that do not contradict our beliefs, in youth meetings and other extra-liturgical gatherings.
  • Gregory, This is what I dont want, compromise. There can be NO compromise with any other religion, we should remain distinctly Orthodox. If we compromise on something little, then we may compromise on something else, then another, and another. As you correctly point out, protestantism, referring to the much more recent denominations that seem to dominate the airwaves, is much better at attracting new members. There is a very simple reason for this too, they are like used car salesmen. They tell you what you want to hear as opposed to the truth. For instance the flavor of the day in protestantism right now is Joel Osteen who preaches the "prosperity gospel". He seems to think that Christianity is opposite of suffering and that if you believe in God, He will give you anything you want, including a sports stadium for a church. I have watched his program several times and on several occasions have caught him completely massacring verses from the bible, changing them so much you could not even recognize them. On Larry King Live he is quoted as saying that Mormons are Christian, even tho they believe Jesus and Lucifer are brothers and Christ had several wives.

    Protestantism attracts people because they sell themselves to the weak. People who cannot face the truth of this world and instead opt for the path of least resistance. I hope nobody is offended, I am not trying to point fingers, as I said before my parents are both protestant, it pains me to say this, but it is true. We Orthodox should not get caught up in trying to "win souls to Christ". Christ says that Nobody comes to Him unless the Father wills it, so we cannot force it, but we can be good examples by practicing the Orthodox spiritual life and exposing people to Orthodoxy and letting them decide for themselves, I say this yet have a hard time following those very words. I constantly debate thinking it will help, although it has helped people watching the debate but not the person I am debating with.

    We have gotten off topic a bit.
  • As much as I agree with you, I see that the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to 'opening' up and allowing these songs.  I've always held the belief, that 'if it's too hot, get out of the kitchen.'  If you find Orthodoxy hard and undesirable, leave it.  Thankfully however, someone corrected me, and taught me that it's very un-Christian to think like that.  If we know where our salvation lies, we shouldn't stay quiet if we find a member straying from it, for a path [he mistakenly finds] easier/more pleasurable to salvation. I'm not really speaking about converting other denominations to Orthodoxy [which I believe should be promoted through education], but rather saving Orthodox Christians from converting to Protestantism.  It's really a shame to find out that many Orthodox Christians can actually be drawn into such communities, by their human senses, completely ignoring the fact that they're leaving Christianity at it's purest form.

  • What distinguishes us from Protestants, Baptists, Anglicans and Catholics?

    a) Apostolic Heritage: Teachings and Traditions
    b) Sacraments - the way they should be.
    c) Correct Dogma
    d) Correct Spirituality

    All the above denominations have failed in these items. Although the Bible is rich in wisdom and many people can benefit from it without being Orthodox, on many occassions they do not come to the same conclusions on many passages as us. Not everything. A lot of protestants do have interesting contemplations, but its hard to know whether their interpretation is right It always sounds good with them, but its hard to say whether everything they say is in fact correct.

    I think also the fact that Saint Mary appeared in our Church in the most unique, unprecedented way ever, in a very awesome appearance she graced Egypt with her apparition, I think we are quite blessed in every spiritual sense.

    The catholics always try hard to keep the Coptic Orthodox apparitions low-keyed. They like to think they have a monopoly on Saint Mary. lol ... they cannot accept that she appeared in our Church - on MANY occasions.

    We are not lacking anything. Perhaps the only thing we are missing is a larger congregation. Usually orthodox communities are so small, but I would prefer a small community than praying / worshipping God by dancing around the alter like school girls.

    I would agree with Ioannes - its best, at this stage, until our youth are solid in their orthodox faith, to not even sing ANY protestant hymn.

    Finally, I should stress one IMPORTANT issue we can do to promote our Church:

    OUR DEACONS NEED TO BE EDUCATED IN THEOLOGY - NOT HYMNS!! The JOB of the Oghnostos is a reader - he should KNOW our theology and be able to explain it.

  • Zoxsasi,

    I want to nominate you as the "Defender of the Faith".  I think I can just change your signature at the bottom of your posts, and add my name, and it would be as if it came from my own mouth.
  • Well yea, if youth-group leaders can avoid incorporating Protestant hymns and songs, then I'm sure they would've done it.  I'm positive that although they allow them, they don't promote them.  We seem to keep forgetting that a lot of youth ask to sing these songs in specific.

    Imagine the predicament the youth-leader is put in.  What's he to say?  "oh sorry, we can't sing this song because it's not written by a member of our church."  That sentence alone can make our church seem rigid and stiff, in the eyes of the impressionable youth, specially those who in-addition to the Orthodox meeting attend Protestant gatherings, as well.

    This is just my personal opinion, but I feel that Mother Mary appears to those who want/need/accept her.  She's appeared to Catholics, Orthodox, even Muslims.  The thing these three groups have in common, unlike most Protestants, is that they all venerate Her [even if they hold warped understandings of Her].  Thus I feel, her appearances are not necessarily indicative of who holds the correct faith, but rather to serve a purpose [for no miracle is done, without reason.]
  • There are several factors that are obvious but not being stated: 
    a.  youth group leaders are being tainted, and they are introducing these hymns.
    b.  they do not show enough leadership and example to thwart the suggestions of using these hymns.
    c.  the youth leader prints the material and helps with the distribution.

    I find youth leaders, when stuck on material, going to the Protestant sector for material, inspiration, and emulation rather than their own Mother, i.e., the Orthodox Church.  You know what happens when you do not listen to your Mother.


  • I have to agree with ilovesaintmark and Zoxasi. I think that many people that were raised Orthodox do not fully realize just how dangerous this can really be. Incorporating protestant songs and hymns is just opening the door for then to come on in. Because many in the church regard them as Christians, they see no problem with this. I personally, no offense to those who disagree with me, do not consider anyone without sacraments as Christian. I do not regard anyone who is not apostolic as Christian. I do not regard anyone who has broken this apostolic line by adding to the faith all sorts of erroneous doctrine. I am not acting as a judge saying who is and who is not going to heaven or hell, that is not my place, and all are free to disagree with me I have no problem with that.

    We cannot risk watering our faith down with protestantism, just think of what our church fathers would think of protestantism, would they regard this as Orthodox? Then would they allow these types of things to infiltrate our church? We cannot look at protestantism and think, they are doing something right because they are attracting so many people, so what? Having belief is great, but where does that get you? Teaching children through simply accepting songs and hymns, that these denominations are Christian, then why practice the Orthodox spiritual life, it is much easier to just believe, sing some songs and be done with it. Why fast, why receive communion, why baptize...why? According to them it is only faith that saves, despite what St James has taught us.

    I do agree, the main thing we should worry about is teaching our Orthodox people correctly in hopes that they will understand and NOT convert. I do also believe that we should share Orthodoxy with people, as well as be well prepared to answer their questions. The problem I see in our church is people unwilling to engage one another, for whatever reason. I have heard people in my own church say they dont believe in intercession, they would rather go straight to God, this is very protestant. Nobody seems to want to deal with this kind of beliefs entering into our church. I am sure I offended someone so I apologize, I welcome criticism and am not trying to force anyone into believing as I do, this is just my observation.
  • I have to say that I find it problematic that any Coptic Orthodox youth are being allowed to attend any Protestant meetings at all.

    If the youth do not understand why they may not attend these meetings then those in positions of leadership and with pastoral responsibility at various levels need to be explaining it to them. The same with singing Protestant songs.

    We should never allow spiritual things to take place just for the sake of keeping people happy. It is too dangerous, both for the youth and for our Church as a whole. What we do need to do is evangelise our own communities and educate our own communities so that everyone is both aware of the treasures of spirituality we have received, and is experiencing them for themselves.

    As has been said in the thread already, we need the youth to be theologically and spiritually literate as much as and even more than they may be literate in hymnology. We need to ensure that they understand why the Orthodox Faith cannot be mixed with Protestantism, why we should not attend Protestant meetings as if they were the same as Orthodox ones, and especially why we must not and cannot introduce Protestant ideas and teachings into our Orthodox churches. The Orthodox Faith is the narrow way, it is easy to wander off it. We must do all we can to teach our youth, and all members of the Church, the boundaries of this narrow way, and why they exist.

    Father Peter
  • Fr. Peter you make a very good point. I have seen this happening in more than one church, thankfully my loud mouth has helped, prolly the first time ever! The biggest problem is when it IS introduced, because it is, atleast in the US, all around us. I had a very difficult time trying to explain to people why protestantism, in my opinion, is not Christian and IS dangerous.

    Finally it dawned on me, or God inspired me, something. Numbers 16 graphically shows us that protestantism is NOT acceptable. Martin Luther says virtually the SAME thing Korah says to Moses, "We are all priests in the congregations of the Lord." This, Martin Luther believed, he believed that all are equal and all are priests. I believe this very thing was said in the diet (general assembly) of worms. Now what happened to Korah and his followers? Korah was swallowed up by the earth and went to hades alive. The rest were consumed by fire. Now of course protestants are still alive, but we have to remember that most of them are ignorant of the Orthodox church, however I feel that if an Orthodox person knowingly converts he or she is committing a grave sin. I dont know if they will be consumed by fire, and I sure hope not, but this shows us how seriously God takes the priesthood, and of course everything else he instituted for mankind.

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but I see a stunning similarity between Korah and protestantism.
  • Let me keep reminding ourselves that we are not against Protestants as people, we must love them and do all that God gives us grace for to lead them to the fulness of the Christian Faith. For myself I prefer to say that most Protestant teaching is not Christian, rather than to make any judgements about Protestants. There are many Protestants who are only seeking after God and are not committed to the teaching of the place where they find themselves. And of course there are many Orthodox who don't have much idea of the teaching of the Orthodox Faith. I find it hard to criticise most ordinary Protestants, but I believe, with you Ioannes, that we must judge every idea and teaching and not allow any false ones to have any place in the life of the Church. Some false ideas spring up WITHIN our Church, many others are circulating OUTSIDE and both are dangerous.

    About the priesthood. Yes, the Protestants are very much in error when they deny that there is an order of priesthood. We know that from the very beginning St Ignatius teaches us that the Church had a divinely ordered structure. But there is also a proper doctrine of the priesthood of all believers which the Protestants have misunderstood and misinterpreted. It has always seemed to me that in the Orthodox Church the general is guaranteed by the particular. I mean that the priesthood of all believers, their service of worship and praise, is guaranteed by the particular priesthood of those ordained to the priesthood and episcopate. If we do away with the particular priesthood then the wider congregation is unable to exercise its ministry of the priesthood of all believers.

    Likewise we pray at particular times and in particular places, making these holy, so that the rest of our time and the rest of the world may be sancitified. If we abandon the particular time of prayer, as many Protestants do, saying that we can pray whenever we want, then we will actually lose the ability to pray at all. Likewise if we deny that God hallows particular places, saying that we can meet God anywhere, then we will also lose the sense of his presence in all places. The particular guarantees and facilitates the general.

    One of the main issues with modern Protestantism is the denial of any authority over the believer. Not only within particular congregations which can usually adopt whatever beliefs the majority choose, but between congregations, as many Protestants will leave one congregation they don't like and start attending one which suits their own choices. I don't say this to criticise Protestants at all, most are entirely ignorant of 'traditional' Christianity, let alone Orthodoxy, rather the criticism should be of us Orthodox when we allow this same idea of personal choice to come into the Church.

    My bishop has a conversation with various priests and others about some matter, comes to a conciliar decision, and then I do as he instructs. I have had a chance to express my opinion but when he makes the decision on behalf of the Church and for the good of the Church then my responsibility is to be obedient, not to continue insisting that things are not as I like it. In my own congregation, I also talk about things with my deacons and the congregation, and at some point I make a decision for the good of the Church and it is Orthodox and Christian for me to expect it to be followed without continuing criticism. I must of course make sure that I have a sense of the understanding of the congregation, and not act tyrannically. But in the end we are called to be obedient, all of us, to those in authority over us, because they are in authority for our salvation.

    It seems to me that it is entirely within the scope of the necessary spiritual authority of the bishop and priests to regulate everything that happens in the Church, and to take care that no outside elements are allowed into the Church. The fact that some youth might enjoy singing Protestant songs and attending Protestant worship is already problematic. But the bishops and priests are entirely reasonable in drawing a line and saying this will not be allowed any more. Of course there are clearly other issues which would need to be dealt with. Not least a programme of spiritual and theological education.

    There may well be congregations which are rooted in their Orthodox Faith and who might sing one or two of the simpler, more thoughtful songs, or one or two of the older hymns, many of which are based on ancient Orthodox-Catholic texts, with the permission of their priest without harm, but if many of the congregations are attending Protestant services then it seems to me too late to allow anything Protestant into the congregation, and there must be a rigorous rooting out of such influences.

    It would be better, in social contexts etc, to sing the Psalms, to sing songs and hymns from the Coptic tradition, even learn songs from the other Orthodox Churches.

    Father Peter
  • I find the writings of St Theophan the Recluse very helpful, he is an Eastern Orthodox figure, and he wrote very widely on spirituality and was a spiritual guide to many ordinary folk. Therefore it seems to me that it is a serious matter when such a writer says something strict. Let me quote what he says since it does seem to be relevant to the topic of Orthodox drifting towards protestantism...

    ...it is particularly instructive to recall the answer once given to an inquirer by the Blessed Theophan the Recluse. The blessed one replied more or less thus: "You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins... I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever."

    Father Peter
  • Fr. Peter I am glad you bring this point up. I often forget to make sure to point out that it is the ISM not the people who I am directing my criticism towards. I hope I did not offend you, I am trying to get better at making that clear, and have had good results thus far.

    We truly need to pray for them, and ALL people that are without Christ. Thank you again Fr. Peter, you have been a big help to me in furthering my spiritual life and how I speak with people and the need to respect them.
  • Dear Ioannes,

    God bless you. I was not directing that comment at you, or myself, or any of us. But it seems useful and necessary to keep repeating it. Generally Protestants are not the enemy of the Church, though there are those who do really seem to want to deliberately harm the Church. And Protestants are, in a real sense, as much the victims of a false theology and spirituality, as those Orthodox who fall or lean towards error.

    Father Peter
  • [quote author=peterfarrington link=topic=9363.msg115803#msg115803 date=1277055916]
    Dear Ioannes,

    God bless you. I was not directing that comment at you, or myself, or any of us. But it seems useful and necessary to keep repeating it. Generally Protestants are not the enemy of the Church, though there are those who do really seem to want to deliberately harm the Church. And Protestants are, in a real sense, as much the victims of a false theology and spirituality, as those Orthodox who fall or lean towards error.

    Father Peter


    Fr Peter that is a good point. I would definetly say that the earlier protestant churches are especially not really militant towards the church, atleast as much as when they first broke from the Latins.

    Here in America the more modern protestants I wouldnt even say are that militant, but do not really regard us as Christian. But generally there is not a whole lot of confrontation, like nobody really goes out and seeks a debate or anything. But there are instances depending on where you go. But your right that it is mostly out of ignorance that they reject us, which is understandable.

    Ethiopia is a very different story. I have been working with Orthodox over there for a while, and these protestants are worse that the first reformers. In the early reformation, or the break away, many people were destroying churches, deficating in baptismal fonts, exposing themselves during the liturgy etc. The protestants there are extremely militant, and are growing in number. The main reason is because alot of people that go to church, do not know what they are saying because the church language GeEz is being used, and very few people speak it. So the Orthodox there dont really know much in terms of theology, and Orthodox doctrine.

    Some of the things they do are just unacceptable. The common thing is to dress as a priest and preach to people that Orthodoxy is wrong, that they have converted because protestantism is the truth. They sometimes, but not as often, pull poor beggars off the street, clean them up, and have them pretend that they were bishops, then stomping on the bishops garments. Their attacks are constant. Constant forms of propaganda in the form of trickery, pretending to be Orthodox to confuse people.

    While I have my fair share of run in's here in America, its much worse there. So we are mounting a defense in the form of a book so that the Orthodox can understand a bit better what each church really believes. We are also trying to get the church to do the service in Amharic as opposed to a dead language nobody understands, and teach people that frequent communion is a good thing.
  • Yes, I will tell you from first hand experience. I have graduated last year from a school that I have attended for 9 years. It was a protestant private school. So many issues came up when i decided to get involved and start growing in my orthodox faith. I started Jesus differently, like He is some "chill" guy who is just sitting up there telling us what to do, and when we do anything bad he doesn't care, He already died for us we can sin as much as we want and still enter the kingdom of Heaven. Thank God i have gotten over this mentality and now i am in the mentality of our pure orthodox faith. Please, guys don't think ur cool or you r so spiritually strong that you can just go and attend protestant meetings and services over time it WILL mess u up.

    May God take care of His people.
  • Some of the things they do are just unacceptable. The common thing is to dress as a priest and preach to people that Orthodoxy is wrong, that they have converted because protestantism is the truth. They sometimes, but not as often, pull poor beggars off the street, clean them up, and have them pretend that they were bishops, then stomping on the bishops garments. Their attacks are constant. Constant forms of propaganda in the form of trickery, pretending to be Orthodox to confuse people.



    Wow it's scary to hear of such un-Christian things happening in an attempt to 'direct' people to their beleifs.  As I mentioned earlier, I personally know a number of Orthodox-turned-Protestants, who were attracted to it by their 'overly-friendly' nature, and ended up staying because of the 'fun' meetings and prayer sessions.  My earlier arguments were for a position of compromise, a position that I don't support by any stretch of the imagination, but one that I find some-what needed.  I would appreciate any opinions on how one would go about dealing with an Orthodox person, who is attracted and immersed in Protestant meetings.

    I started a thread about a buddy of mines on this site two years ago, who although is an Orthodox youth leader and teaches Sunday School, started regularly attending a Protestant weekly-meeting.  His decision for attending so often was because he was  attracted to their worshiping songs.
  • geomike that is a very interesting story. You are very fortunate and blessed with a very discerning mind. I know many people personally who went to protestant school and it really messed them up. The majority became protestant, and the one I know well still struggles. She goes to Catholic and protestant churches because, "it is all Christian, worshipping the same God". While her heart, as the rest of the protestants heart, is in the right place with good intentions I cannot agree with her less. So you bring up a great point, it can be dangerous, especially in the long run. Much like evolution is the catalyst to transition one to atheism, protestantism is a catalyst to lead someone into the outer darkness.

    The parable of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins. This is such a beautiful parable and make sure to read this hour every night from my agbeya. Notice, both were virgins, who obviously practiced chastity, yet, the foolish were much more lazy in waiting for the bridegroom in not having oil in their lamps. While they both were very similar, they were just as different from one another as well, and for their mistake were left out in the dark. I dont know, I can read this parable and always seem to be mezmerized by it, and always take away something new from it.

    I love Jesus Christ so much.
  • You're too kind Ioannes. God has also blessed you with wisdom because I know you grew up in a liberal household and yet you chose orthodoxy. Sometimes i feel like i am being offensive when it comes to these matters, so if i have said something wrong please correct me. I am sorry that your friends have been brain washed by this false teaching of Christianity. The thing that really angers me in their service is that their services consists of "praises" and a sermon.


    First of all, their "Praises" aren't praises everybody is looks like they are so into it, but they are not, they are just reacting to the loud music and people banging on the drums. In 1 Corinthians ch. 11 it talks about how to do church services, one part of it says that the Ladies should cover their heads in worship, and guess what, THEY DON'T COVER THEIR HEADS.


    Second of all, their sermons aren't given by Abounas who are qualified by the diocese to have that rank, no it's given by anybody who "feels that God called them to be a pastor". Of course, anybody who wants to be famous and wants everybody to think that they are knowledgable in the Bible will say "God chose me to be a pastor". Also, if you examine the age of the pastors you will see that they are mostly all under 21. I have seen atleast 7 first handedly smoking after the service in their car. I have also seen one sit in his car and turn on rap music then try to read the bible at the same time. When he got out of the car, i asked him why he did that, he told me that it puts him in the mood to read the bible because the Bible is a boring book. This coming from a pastor!

    May God have mercy on these stray people.
  • Gregory, I will say this, there can and will be no compromise on this issue. We will not give in to any heresy. This heresy is particularly different in that they have not seperated from us, and many if not the majority did not and have not ever known Orthodoxy, but none the less protestantism is not Christian and is not acceptable. What is worse is that we have people that unknowingly are embracing this and setting this sort of incorrect example for our youth, which mark my words, will lead them away from the church. In my opinion we should take those red books published by St Mark's in DC and either omit all protestant songs or burn it outright, it has no place in the House of God.

    geomike I can definetly say from experience that I never really knew the bible as a protestant, in fact I was probably more confused by it than anything else yet at the same time preached it as if I knew it. They teach that there is no priesthood and all are equal in the sight of God, this is true to some extent such as in front of the law we are equal, in our work we are not. So what is to stop anyone from ousting the "preacher" in favor of their own authority? Or what is to stop someone from just making their own church, clearly nothing does stop them, there are somewhere around 38,000 denominations! These differ from one another so how CAN they be led by God? While we must pray for the protestant people, and we must approach them with the utmost respect and speak the truth in love, we also cannot compromise with them. It is either Orthodox or not, a mixturre due to compromise is unacceptable. They reject everything that defines a person as Christian, and yet we still consider them Christians. So what is stopping anyone from becoming protestant if we reach the same goal? Protestantism surely is much easier than Orthodoxy and much less guilt ridden, so if they ARE Christian, then Orthodoxy is obsolete.

    I hope that this has not offended anyone, I try my best to speak the truth in love, my goal is not to offend people but I feel truth is truth, and in our "politically correct" society that I am going to offend someone no matter what, so be it.

    Also Fr. Peter has a unique perspective on this too, as you all know he was also protestant. The biggest difference between he and I in our experiences as protestants is that I think, correct me if I am wrong, that he has more experience in dealing with the earlier protestants who are much less militant and some much closer to Catholicism and Orthodoxy than todays famous protestant preachers.
  • We have to say that there are in fact many older preachers and teachers among the Protestants and that many go through a lengthy period of preparation. We should not describe all Protestants based on our experience of some. When I was growing up there were godly men who sought to understand and teach the Bible in a very serious and expository manner. There is a difference between saying that Protestantism is wrong and false, and saying that there is nothing good and Christian in the lives of every Protestant.

    As I look back on my own life I see that they were wrong in almost all that they taught apart. But many of their hearts were seeking after God. Many of them are still seeking, but Orthodox are generally not there for them.

    I echo Ioannes thoughts as he speaks about an ignorance of the Scripture while being in a supposedly Biblical movement. This was the case for many of us. Yet I must say that I have reason to feel a little angry that no Orthodox ever approached me with knowledge of the Orthodox Faith. My life has opened up tremendously for me since I began looking into Orthodoxy. My heart, mind and soul are fulfilled at many different levels. This is a treasure that was kept from me until I went looking myself.

    How terrible a thing it is then when this treasure is disregarded by those who already have possession of it. How terrible a thing for this great gift to be abandoned for a counterfeit?

    Let me disagree a little with Ioannes. I am not convinced that all Protestants have an easy life. Quite the opposite. Those who are seeking have none of the tools with which to amend their lives, and they do not have access to the grace of God in the sacraments. Wanting to be holy and obedient, they do not know how to be holy and obedient and are often liable to despair. I know this from experience.

    The problem is that even over the last 30 years Protestantism has changed very much in the English speaking world. It has tended to become either liberal and spiritually tired, or emotional and/or intellectual. The serious men of my childhood are much less prevalent, and many people seem caught up in a busy activism, doing things, even good things, but not really knowing the transforming power of the Gospel.

    I have experience of all sorts of Protestants, from Plymouth Brethren, Methodists, Anglicans and Baptists to Charismatics and Wonder Workers such as John Wimber. I have attended a WCC study conference on the Bible with different Protestants, I have spent three years studying at a Protestant seminary. I have heard many of the well known modern Protestant speakers in the UK and some from the US. I was captivated by Hal Lindsey and 'studied' prophecy assiduously.

    I know that there are loonies out there. I know that there are dangerous people out there. I know there are liberals and fundamentalists, charismatics and traditionalists. But I am still convinced that many protestants are not so different from many Orthodox. Many are just people trying to get through the day with Christ, but they struggle under the great impediment of not having the gifts and graces, the tools and experience, which we have available to us in the Orthodox Church. Therefore I cannot speak harshly of the majority of Protestants. If we truly shared our faith then many of them would already be Orthodox.

    Of course there are those who are militant, those who are aggressive. We can still pray for them.

    But in all cases, IN ALL CASES, we must resist the influence of Protestantism in all its forms, whether better or worse, however much we should have warm relations with Protestants. And especially we must resist the influence of the new Protestant groups which are generally even less connected to traditional Christianity than the older and tired Protestant groups. They cater to the emotions and therefore are a temptation to those who are attracted to them. We must resist this temptation.

    It does not seem to me to be productive to spend time describing various protestants we have met and who have shocked us by their views. To be honest I am sure that many Protestants could describe people who claim to be Orthodox and yet live ungodly lives, or are very confused about their faith. I spent Saturday with some very pleasant and warm-hearted Anglicans. It would be unfair to describe them as if they were the worst and most liberal members of their Church, they are not. But that doesn't mean that I have to accept anything which they teach as a distinctive theological position.

    It seems to me that we must have a multi-pronged approach.

    #1 We must explain our faith to those outside who do not know anything about us, or have misconceptions about what we believe. And this can be done entirely positively and does not need an aggressive approach, even if we are sometimes attacked ourselves by those who do not really know what we believe.

    #2 We must explain our faith to those within the Church so that people have a good knowledge of our theology, history and spirituality. Deacons especially must have a very good grounding and be able to explain to others what we believe and why we believe.

    #3 We must deliberately exclude Protestant influences within the Church and all such influences must be carefully monitored by bishops and priests. Folk should not be attending protestant services without the explicit permission of their priests acting under the authority of their bishop. The Holy Synod has already issued instructions prohibiting private Bible Studies apart from the control and supervision of the priests and is clearly concerned about wrong influences. There should surely be no Protestant songs sung without some explicit permission from the priest not a deacon. There is such a richness in our spirituality beyond the services in the Church, that it is a great shame that there are those who do not embrace that spirituality fully, and worse that they have perhaps not been instructed in it.

    There is so much that we should be doing. Protestantism is error but it cannot harm us if we keep the doors of the Church shut to such influences. This may take a great amount of effort on our part, but we must protect the faithful.  And we must be on the lookout for false ideas to be propagated within the Church. We need a spiritual and educated laity because without a personal experience of our spirituality and without a knowledge of our Faith folk will always be at risk from the temptation to seek fulfillment outside the Church.

    When my parents were young they also belonged to the Plymouth Brethren. Most Christian groups kept themselves apart from others and considered that in some sense they had the truth. But when Billy Graham came to London many of the younger people from the variety of Protestant churches attended the missions and sang hymns and were excited by the atmosphere and the preaching. They found a certain unity in worship which was made possible by skating over the details of the faith. From that moment the Protestant churches started losing their identities as more and more people abandoned distinctive theology and spirituality for the experience of worshipping God with a bare minimum of theology. This is one of the dangers for us. That some folk will enjoy themselves worshipping in a Protestant context and will ask, 'what is the difference?'. They can only do this by abandoning most of what we believe. Nowadays there are hardly any Plymouth Brethren groups because they have mostly become a vague, evangelical type of congregation. But having lost their theology there is nothing there any more for people. Why go to church A which has a vague theology if I can go to church B which has a vague theology but an exciting band?

    So we must educate our own folk and teach them about what they are throwing away when they attend a Protestant service with the intention of acting as if it were the same as an Orthodox liturgy, but more fun. They are truly throwing something away. And it is not because we need speak as if Protestants were terrible, most are not. But to attend a Protestant Church with the intent of participating fully is to already have denied much of our Orthodox Faith.

    (This is not to say that folk should never attend any Protestant service, there are a variety of acceptable reasons to do so, but with the permission of one's priest or bishop).

    What a terrible thing to throw away our faith. It is like Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of soup. We must surely support our bishops and priests as they seek to preserve and protect the Church and the faithful from influences that will lead them astray. We should pray for all those who do attend Protestant services, that they might be led back to the straight and narrow way. Those of us who have begun to experience the depths of the grace of God know that there is nothing which could compare.

    Father Peter
  • I apologize to all for not making the proper distinction between protestant groups. I promised I would get better at that and yet I keep falling back into the habit of grouping them all together. I do see your point very clearly Fr Peter, but in my own personal experience, which is by no means the same for everyone, there was not much of a spiritual struggle at all. I feel, in hindsight, that it is due to the fact that while it was good that I had faith, I possessed none of the tools in which to achieve salvation. Again let me be very clear that I am speaking of the protestant groups that I have had contact with and that which dominate mainstream media in america, which is what gives the appearance that they are THE Christian church.

    I too feel you Fr. Peter. I did feel some resentment when I became Orthodox. We see the depth, the beauty, the truth, all things Orthodox. And we wonder, why the heck didn't I know about this? How did I not know about this, I said this because I thought I knew everything. I then came to understand, again in my opinion, why it is that I have never heard of Orthodoxy. One reason is because many of the Orthodox people who come here, come from a country which is rife with persecution, with an exception to the Greek Orthodox, which I feel has become somewhat lazy and very liberal here in america. Orthodoxy is not as militant and forceful with their beliefs as say, evangelicals, or any number of the door to door evangelizers. That is the first thing I noticed, I walk into the church, and I am given space. I was not bombarded with questions and over zealous people trying to "save" me.

    I began to understand that there is a proper way of exposing people to Orthodoxy while given them their own space and letting them choose for themselves. I do feel that any nation that has access to Orthodoxy, God will give those people every chance to choose Orthodoxy or not. Along my way I was introduced to it several times and never paid attention and never even knew it was different than the Latin church. So I do think that God does not abandoned them, I feel he gives them opprotunities in which they can seek the truth, or not.

    Fr. Peter you are very right when you say that no matter what we should resist all influence. Unfortunately I think the major problem is that we are not addressing this enough in our churches for fear of offending someone, and as you are a priest I can totally understand that being that you are in charge of their souls. It definetly starts with education, no matter if I think they are not Christian and you do or this or that, I think we all agree this matter needs to be addressed in the church. I dont know Fr. Peter you know better than I do, what do you suggest should be done?


Memorial for HH Pope Shenouda

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