Why I am NOT Catholic



  • 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?
  • Ioannes,

    I don't blame you - if there wasn't 2,600 Christian denominations, it would be easy to mention pertinent groups clearly, but I think given the massive range of protestant churches out there, it is quite hard to be exact; but as Fr. Peter says, they are not all the same, and generalising is wrong - which I am guilty of also. This is an important point because if we label people incorrectly, we will end up being biased subconsciously; and that is so bad.

    I just wanted to say that with respect to this topic, I AM SORRY.

    I should have chosen the title carefully, because although I am extremely proud be part of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and its spirituality has been a huge source of blessing and strength for me, I cannot deny that I do in fact love the Roman Catholic, and seeing it in this state is a very sad day for me.

    This is still a Church. I'm so sorry its gone this way. If you are upset that we are allowing protestant hymns in our Church, the Catholics have allowed protestant EVERYTHING in their church to the extent it is no longer distinguishable as an apostolic church with sacraments.

    The Charismatic Protestants believe that by faith, you acquire the Holy Spirit, and if you really need a booster dose of Divine Holy Spiritness in you, then by being slain in spirit (which is performed by a recommended charismatic guru), you get that extra dose to help you through the day. When I see the Catholic Church like this, and exercising these things, at that moment, I do not see any need for their priesthood. I do not know how long it will take until someone Charismatic Catholic stands up and says "Hey, look, we are JUST like our protestant brothers. They have the Holy Spirit the same as us, and they don't have any priests!! They don't have communion, NOR do they have confession. Let's drop all these pointless sacraments, and priesthood and just live in the spirit".

    They do not realise that these are false gifts. God's gifts are for the edification of the Church, not for its destruction.

    This is a sad day for every orthodox Christian. I would be hoping for protestants to get back to the RC, not make the catholics leave their sacraments and become protestant.

  • Let me say that the reason I think it is necessary not to generalise is that until very, very recently there was no such thing as 'protestants' as one group. Until the Billy Graham missions in London for instance a Baptist would not attend a Methodist church and a Methodist would not attend an Anglican and an Anglican would not attend a Plymouth Brethren, and each group carefully preserved its distinctive teachings and considered itself in some sense the 'true Church'. All of these were very separate groups.

    Now even today the Reformed tradition is different to the Lutheran which is different to the Episcopal which is different to the historic Baptist and Methodist traditions which is different to the historic Pentecostal tradition. And all of these are very different to the modern and most recent evangelical groups.

    Why do these distinctions matter? Well on the one hand they do not, because our Orthodox Church should have such a theologically educated community that it is impervious to all false and erroneous teachings. The protestant errors should be just another error such as modern liberal humanist views or catholic errors etc etc. We should be so filled with a sense of the comprehensiveness of our faith and spiritual tradition that we do not look elsewhere for satisfaction.

    But on the other hand they do matter because we should always be concerned to reach those outside the Church, and if we do not properly understand what they teach then we cannot easily communicate. Nor does this require a detailed knowledge of 38,000 groups. Most can be categorised as Reformed, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and Independent Evangelical. Now it matters because if we say that Protestants don't believe in priests and bishops we will not be heard by the Lutherans, Methodists and Episcopalians (who number many millions all together) who do indeed have priests/pastors and bishops. If we say that Protestants are emotional and have a false view of the Holy Spirit then we will not be heard by the more traditional
    groups who find modern charismatic experience as problematic as we do.

    Let me repeat - We do not need to study every group. But for the sake of reaching out we do need to know roughly where people are coming from. If we are speaking to Lutherans then it is helpful to know the reasons why Lutheranism began. If we are speaking with Baptists it might be helpful to know that we should speak about how much we Orthodox value the Bible etc. There are probably no more than 5 or 6 different groups we should consider.

    You get the point I am trying to make.

    When I kept bumping into Mormons around town I made it a point to get a small book that described their beliefs. It would have been a waste of time to have a conversation with them in which I acted as if they were extreme Pentecostal Protestants or Episcopalians. I needed to know some of the basics of what they believed to be able to show them the respect that all people deserve in our mission. And to be able to intelligently consider how to introduce our Orthodox Faith.

    Father Peter
  • [quote author=Zoxsasi link=topic=9363.msg115875#msg115875 date=1277239506]
    This is a sad day for every orthodox Christian. I would be hoping for protestants to get back to the RC, not make the catholics leave their sacraments and become protestant.

    I also am hopeful that the increased profile of the Catholic Church in the UK will benefit all those seeking the Apostolic Faith.

    Personally, I think that the issue with Protestantism is not so much particular teachings, which vary, but the issue of authority, which is consistent across the board. Where is spiritual authority found? Is it, in the end, down to me doing and believing what I choose? If it is then we get a variety of Protestantism, and the particular mix of teachings is not so important.

    If we embrace a life lived within a community in which spiritual authority is vested in a priestly hierarchy and in the community as whole, then I must live a life of obedience and not of self-rule.

    The danger for Orthodox is not so much when particular teachings are imported - though of course that is serious and must be resisted. But in the attitude which says I can choose for myself what I do and what I believe. When we have that attitude we are already Protestant even if we are not singing Protestant songs.

    Even when I was an Evangelical I remember a dear friend teaching me, 'we are not called by God to be victorious, but to be obedient'. This is even more true for us as Orthodox. We must begin the resistance to Protestantism within our own hearts and the hearts of the folk in our community. That is where it begins. Everything else is secondary. When we let people sing Protestant songs so that we do not upset them then it does seem to me that it is giving way to a protestant attitude of heart.

    When I was a Protestant I formed the Church in my own image. When I became Orthodox I realised that the Church was forming me in the image of Christ. We must not allow Orthodox to think or believe that the Church is there to be formed into an organisation or institution that suits us. It is always we who must be obedient to the spiritual formation of life in the Church. Anything else is Protestantism even if it is in the Orthodox Church.

    Father Peter
  • Zoxasi, there are actually 38,000 denominations. And yes, we ran into problems with this before. While I was referring to a specific group of protestants Fr. Peter was referring to another. This was my mistake in not clarifying my point, and I do believe both Fr. Peter and I, who have a great love for protestants and which to present them with the truth of Orthodoxy, that it would be best to refer to either early protestantism, and modern protestantism. Either way we are going to be generalizing, but in this we we can narrow it down a bit. Generally modern protestants share many similarities that are not necessarily shared with early protestants, except usually Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. So I think we all need to make that distinction and I think that would be much more acceptable than just saying protestant or protestantism. I am also guilty of not making this clarification.

    Fr Peter is most definetly Coptic. Historically Copts have been genius in converting people. We do not force converts to be like us, rather we help them integrate their current traditions to make the transition much easier. I should not leave out Eastern Orthodox as they did a fantastic job in Alaska, in which many Orthodox still live.

    I am not sure if this is a protestant trait that both Fr. Peter and I have carried over to our Orthodox faith, but clearly we still have that drive to convert people, and now have the proper tools to put it in motion. Educating ones self of others beliefs is crucial. I remember discussing Hinduism with a Hindu, and they were astonished that I knew anything about their beliefs. It is exciting to people when you know about their culture and or religion. For instance when I go to Ethiopia, I have Tewahedo tattood on my neck, Tewahedo is the equivalent to hypostasis in Greek. The people go nuts over this. They are shocked to see my praying as they do. I use this to attract people and help strengthen their faith.

  • When you say Protestant hymns are being sung in the Coptic Church, are they being used in the actual Coptic Liturgies?
  • [quote author=Antonios72 link=topic=9363.msg162644#msg162644 date=1358114368]
    When you say Protestant hymns are being sung in the Coptic Church, are they being used in the actual Coptic Liturgies?

    Not the Liturgy, I think they are referring in Sunday school and congregation meetings etc.
  • [quote author=qawe link=topic=9363.msg162648#msg162648 date=1358137094]
    [quote author=Pharaoh714 link=topic=9363.msg162645#msg162645 date=1358128576]
    [quote author=Antonios72 link=topic=9363.msg162644#msg162644 date=1358114368]
    When you say Protestant hymns are being sung in the Coptic Church, are they being used in the actual Coptic Liturgies?

    Not the Liturgy, I think they are referring in Sunday school and congregation meetings etc.

    or during holy communion

    Ok, seriously? During communion? That is... slightly disturbing.

    I read an earlier comment here about compromising music to appease the youth. Are there any good Orthodox rock bands?
  • I am someone who leftvthe cathokic church. I was a member of sspx, a very traditional catholic society. I constantly worried about the diriction the popes where taking. It scared me and sadden me to no end.
    I feel that the catholic church is an a internal war trying to define herself. We have extremist who want to make the church modern and prograssive. Than you have the traditionalist who cling to Trent and try to keep to the unchanging faith.
    It was exhausting. I felt lost in the middle. I knew as a catholic i needed to remain loyal to the pope and his bishops. How could one be loyal to bishops who speak against aborition, than hand out euchrist to politacians who are pro aborition.
    I am sad i left the church, but i am not sure how catholic that church is.
    I pray for guidance in my life. I pray for the catholic church i left. That she might become the bride she is meant to be.
    Sorry typing a cell phone.
    Pray for me
  • Hi Aschaur,

    Don't forget that ontop of all that, you have the charismatic movement that is also trying to define the Church's identity.

    You also have communities that promote gay marriages.

    My 2 cents is this:

    The Catholic Church isn't so bad. It depends which church you go to. Have you considered the Byzantine Catholic?

    I really would recommend for you that you not judge the catholics according to what your bishops do, but simply take the Eucharist as an essential part of your spiritual well being and benefit from it.

    There are some awesome catholic communities around, and indeed, those communities that I am integrated with have the same problems you do (hence why I'm still Coptic).


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