A Call To Arms



  • qawe said:

    Zoxsasi said:

    I spoke to a bishop who told me that there's no such thing as a protestant/orthodox/catholic hymn. Either its orthodox/correct in the hymn's theology or its not.

    That makes 'Allahu Akbar' OK too! And maybe even some Mormon/Jehovah's witness hymns.
    Right.  I also know some Rastafari hymns that would be acceptable. It's all good!
  • edited October 2014
    qawe said:

    But we're a hierarchical Church.  If the Synod proclaims something, we're supposed to abide by it, not just ignore it.

    It was probably proclaimed on the informal understanding that it would not be completely enforced.

    That being said, there could be some wiggle room in the wording: "Declared that “No Protestant chorals [singing] and no unorthodox prayers are allowed in Orthodox churches” (May, 2005)"

    Eg, how is 'Protestant chorals' and 'unorthodox prayers' defined exactly?

    Even if we're going to try to worm out of the prohibition on Protestant songs that way (and I don't concede that we actually can), what about the rest?  Let's have that list again.  There's some pretty strong stuff in there.  It's clear that our Synod is not cool with a Protestant-influenced Orthodox Church.


    Ioannes said:

    Formal Measures

    Formal Measures Taken by the Oriental Orthodox Churches to Counter Heterodox Influence

    In order to address the spread of heterdox influence on our Church and our youth, the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod, under the leadership of H.H. Pope Shenouda III of thrice-blessed memory:

    • Forbid priests to accept invitations to appear at Protestant gatherings unless they had first received the express approval of the Patriarchate (June 1996)
    • Declared that “No Protestant chorals [singing] and no unorthodox prayers are allowed in Orthodox churches” (May, 2005)
    • Warned against unauthorized “house meetings” and the spread of Protestant books, cassettes, and CDs (June 1996, June 2001)
    • Authorized a committee for the revising of religious books to remove any Protestant influence or doctrine, warning that “the statement that we are all one in Jesus is deceiving” (June 1998)
    • Warned specifically against music as a means of spreading Protestant influence and theology [H.H. Pope Shenouda III] (June 1998)
    • Declared that “clergy should be careful about teachers in church and check whether they are influenced by Protestant thought or not” (June 1998)
    • Convened a conference on how to face Protestant activities and how to protect the Coptic Orthodox Church from the spread of Protestant influence from the inside out (October 1998)
    • Instructed Orthodox clergy not to write introductions for non-Orthodox books so as not to give Protestants the opportunity to deliver a non-Orthodox message to Orthodox believers (May 1999)
    • Warned Orthodox Christians against attending non-Orthodox retreats (May 1999)
    • Warned Orthodox youth not to join in activities held in joint cooperation with Protestants or Roman Catholics, including sports activities, conferences and lectures, “since these are used for proselytism”; The Synod is explicit that “these are very dangerous issues” (June 2000)
    • Convened a conference to warn the Coptic Orthodox faithful against the activities of the Seventh Day Adventists (October 2002)
    • Organized a number of seminars, sermons, spiritual days and conferences stressing Orthodox dogma, differences with the Protestants, and explaining why the Coptic Orthodox Church rejects false unity, declaring that, “God is not only Love but the Truth” (June-September 2003)
    • Warned specifically against the activities of the Southern Baptist Convention, which published materials stating explicitly that they were targeting the Coptic Orthodox Christians of Egypt for conversion (June 2006)
    • Prohibited Coptic clergy from appearing on Protestant satellite channels (2009)
    • Prohibited Coptic Orthodox bookstores from carrying a number of heterodox titles, materials and publications (1999, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010)


    In order to address the growing spread of Protestant influence on some of its communities in North America, the Coptic Orthodox Church has taken the following measures:

    • H.G. Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States issues an official press release to counter the misconception that a so-called “unity of love” eliminates the point of unity of dogma between the Orthodox Church and heterodox bodies (May 30, 2013)
    • Following complaints from bishops, priests, and servants about the rise of a Protestant-influenced movement in North America, H.H. Pope Tawadros II sends an official investigatory committee consisting of three bishops to the Washington, DC area (February, 2013).


  • @qawe,
    Good point although I share @Ioannes's and @AntoniosNikolas's sentiments, will things ever change? Let's pray
  • edited October 2014
    Zoxsasi said:

    I spoke to a bishop who told me that there's no such thing as a protestant/orthodox/catholic hymn. Either its orthodox/correct in the hymn's theology or its not.

    That makes 'Allahu Akbar' OK too! And maybe even some Mormon/Jehovah's witness hymns.
    Excellent point you make Qawe!!!

    I'm not really happy about this. Not that I have anything against Protestant hymns, but a lot of it is like a rock concert. The point i'm trying to make is that we have an identity. I learn a lot from many non Orthodox speakers such as Nabil Qureshi, Hassan Youssef, Nicky Gumbel etc. : this is not an issue; but during a Coptic Orthodox Liturgy, we have our own identity - our own hymns that should be used. Not because non Orthodox hymns are heretical, per se, but because orthodoxy isn't just about correct theology - the music itself is important: Gregorian Chants have 2 dimensions, the chants and the words being chanted. Coptic Orthodoxy has chanting a lot. The type of music has its impact on you and your mood. The protestant hymns - if I can call them that, are full of emotion and are basically love songs with Our Lord being sung about. 

    I disagree with my beloved Orthodox bishop: there are in fact Orthodox and Non-Orthodox hymns: you'll find that Orthodox hymns are basically the Biblical passages in musical format. That means participating in Orthodox worship, you'll simply end up SINGING the Bible. The words of the Bible edify you. If you don't have time to read the Bible, but at least know hymns, you'll end up killing 2 birds with 1 stone: its like reading the Bible, living the Bible and singing at the same time. This is very edifying. (If you are not sure, just read the entire Psalmody. You are basically singing Bible passages).

    Protestant love songs are good. We should love God, we should tell God we love Him too; but the problem is that we prefer to avoid sinning as a sign of our Love for God; and what helps you stop sinning? The words of the Bible. Hence we sing the Bible passages in the Coptic Church as a way to grow in our love with God. What made us sin?? What made us sin in the 1st place? Following our emotions, following the desires of our heart our impulsions? What are protestant love songs based on?? Our emotions, desires, our feelings... the very elements that caused us to sin in the 1st place, we are exercising them to help us not sin. 

    I believe in choice. I believe that a Christian should have the choice to decide which church he wants to go to, and how he wishes to worship. If he/she goes to an Orthodox Church to chose Orthodox style of worshiping God then he should be given what it says on the box: Orthodox Spirituality and Worship. If an Orthodox Christian decides he wishes to go to a Protestant Church and engage in singing love songs to God, then I would not want him to hear Coptic Hymns in a Protestant Temple.

    Protestant hymns, no matter how much I want to dance the salsa to them, belong in a Protestant Temple. Bringing them into our Church simply dilutes our identity.

    The next question you should be asking yourselves is this:

    Why were/are they being brought in our Church in the 1st place? What is motivating Coptic Christians to introduce this type of worshiping, and neglect what they already have?


    Are they not filled/satisfied with what the Coptic Church offers them? Is it the language perhaps in which we worship in that bothers them? But as I mentioned, even if our Coptic Orthodox worshiping is mainly in the Coptic Language, the efficacy isn't only in the words of the hymn, but the manner of the chanting and music. This also plays a part. Reading a translation of what is being sung maybe more beneficial than actually singing emotionally-charged songs in a language you understand. 

    If the language of Coptic was bothering them, the next logical (sane) step would be to have sung the same song using English/Italian/Spanish (or whatever language you think in) as an alternative to the Coptic language ; it wouldn't be to go and neglect the hymn that's in place and just replace it with something else from another Church, especially if the spiritual result is antagonistic to the spiritual objective of the hymn it is replacing.

    We are losing our Church here and what it represents and how it heals you. We are losing this very fast. I'm in no way attacking the Protestants or Protestant type of hymns; but as I mentioned, this has its place in protestant temples - it should not be used to substitute Orthodox hymns.
  • edited October 2014
    Excellent post @Zoxasi.

    Zoxsasi said:

    Zoxsasi said:

    I believe in choice. I believe that a Christian should have the choice to decide which church he wants to go to, and how he wishes to worship. If he/she goes to an Orthodox Church to chose Orthodox style of worshiping God then he should be given what it says on the box: Orthodox Spirituality and Worship. If an Orthodox Christian decides he wishes to go to a Protestant Church and engage in singing love songs to God, then I would not want him to hear Coptic Hymns in a Protestant Temple.

    For that matter, an Orthodox Christian has the right to choose even an Islamic/Hindu/etc type of worship.

    And I think it's about more than just identity, Sasi.  If it's just about a bit of Coptic pride, then we should probably swallow that pride and thus avoid conflict with the Protestantised members of our congregation.  I believe that the Orthodox style of worship is inherently better, i.e. more conducive to theosis, than Protestant worship - it's not just about maintaining an identity.

    Zoxsasi said:

    Zoxsasi said:

    I'm in no way attacking the ... Protestant type of hymns

    Why not? What's wrong with attacking this?

    Zoxsasi said:

    Zoxsasi said:

    then I would not want him to hear Coptic Hymns in a Protestant Temple.

    Actually HG Bishop Raphael makes the very same point in this great video (God bless him!): 

    Personally, I would actually want a Protestantised Copt to hear Coptic hymns in a Protestant temple, so that he could come to his senses and realise the contrast and what he's missing out on (and also for the benefit of the other Protestants attending).  Of course this will never happen, and we as Orthodox should not be expecting this to happen either, as much as it would gladden our hearts.  In contrast, the Protestants expect Orthodox to accept their type of hymns, and if we don't, accuse us of being 'unloving'.
  • lovely quotes, cyril.
    remnkemi, minasoliman, theophilus 1,
    thanks all so much, such wise words. i would have logged in to say something the last few days if i had not had an internet problem and been very busy.
    but now i don't need to; you said it far better than i could have.

    perseverance is a VITAL spiritual virtue that we need to obtain, and of course, it takes years to obtain it.
    i am delighted that there are people out there who think the theology is vitally important.
    guys, just work hard to obtain the blessing of perseverance and God will bless you by fulfilling your dreams of being part of His renewed and faithful church.
  • @cyril, you're in the habit of starting a fire, watching it burn, and then standing there saying that fires are destructive, and giving instructions on how to put it out. You can fuel heat, and then stand back and say something like "don't feed the passions." Its a little unsettling and makes it difficult to carry on a conversation. Essentially, your tone changes 50 times in a conversation from one of being passionately and intensely against a certain movement, to one of monastic passiveness. 

    @mabsoota @remnkemi @minasoliman I have much love and respect for you, but I do disagree to heart. And so what if I'm talking with a chip on my shoulders. I could very well be "Frito Lays" and that wouldn't effect anything. The reality that I would not think that any of you (well, maybe mabsoota) could deny is that the ecclesiology of the Coptic Church these days is Islamic, that we've tried to make a change for too long, and all efforts seem to be in the opposite direction. Its not "quitting" to step back and say, "I'm not a Muslim. I'm not a protestant. I'm supposedly a Christian. Let me step back and find a church community that embraces that." If, as you "higher level" theologians believe, there is no such thing as the "Coptic Church" but rather "the Church of God that is in Egypt" then what is so "pessimistic" or what makes me a "quitter" to say that this community of Christians is going off the deep end, why don't I worship that same God in a more Christian spirit with "the church of God that is in Russia in America" or "the church of God that is in Ukraine in America."

    Besides, all jokes aside, once you leave, your opinion begins to matter. I left and had the same priests who insult me offer me rank in the church (of course I rejected because this foolish ecclesiology is the exact reason I stepped out.) Those same priests who told me to "shut up" asked me to write articles for the church magazine on "How to be Orthodox" (whatever that means lol.) If what we want is a change, there has to be some radical actions to it. That is the reality. Pope Shenouda changed the church (in whatever way you see it) by radical actions whether as Nazir Gayed, the Monk Antonios, Bishop Shenouda, or Pope Shenouda. Radical! Fr. Matta El Meskeen as well. The spiritual charge he emits was a product of him being radically unafraid to show disfavor and extreme distaste for the road the church was traveling (his name wasn't buried for no reason.) 

    Look, I'd love to side with Remnkemi and Minasoliman. Theologians and spiritual guys. It would be wonderful for them to say about me "I agree with Ray." Its much easier that way but you can't convince me that it is juvenile, or wrong to want out of whatever I've seen around me in the Coptic Church. Mabsoota, maybe you're a chipper little one. I don't know exactly what it is about your psyche that allows you to see a fire burning destructively, and instruct everyone to pull out marshmallows and get roasting. But I'm sorry, I don't have that. What I do have is years of men in black whose black clothes could cover up the fact that they're wearing Nike shorts underneath, but which couldn't cover the fact that they were devious, cunning, and ultimately wolves in priests clothing. I say that fearlessly now because I have calloused to the whole "mat2olsh kea 3ala abouna."

    Whatever it is, the protestant infiltration of our church is not "coming." Its here and in full effect. You know why? Because its not a far cry from "lets let a protestant heretic spew his heretic filth on the children of God" to "lets accept this heretic filth as truth because it makes people happy and we need donations to build the new megachurch. ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD" As long as the one basis is there of "it's all good" were more protestant than Joel Osteen. 

    Seriously, dress Joel Osteen in Black clothes, make him grow a beard, and call him "Abouna." The congregation won't notice. 

    My personal perspective on the Coptic church has become summed up in this right here. "Get happy or get out. Things won't change in your life-time." Mabsoota, you've found a way to be happy. And power to you, it really shows that your relationship with God is excellent! Me, I think its best to take off.


  • Oh, Ioannes, a priest in my church saw me walking around with a Copy of the Synodial decisions that I found in my church library and looked at me like a dear in headlights. Like he knew what was coming. Its not followed because certain clergy make every effort to not expose it right up until the Pope comes down to visit. The less people know, the less accountable the priests can be made to seem. 

    But forget that! If Abouna says something you do it. If the Synod says otherwise, you probably mis-understood. Abouna understood, and if you think Abouna's instructions are diametrically opposed to the synodial decisions, then you're misunderstanding the Synod. Bro, if the teachings of the fathers have been forsaken because Abouna *literally* cringes at the word "theosis" or "unity with God" the synodial decisions aren't whats gonna set them straight. 

    Raymond Melika (to answer your question Ioannes :P)
  • edited October 2014
    Nazir Gayed and Youssef Iskander had every good reason to leave the church at their times because of the corruption and the bishops wrote them off as extremists and not in with the times. They stood their ground (despite their disagreement with each other, which only shows that today there is still positive change towards clearing those disagreements). They became revolutionaries to bring the fullness of Orthodoxy into people's lives. Every generation of Copts, there is only glory to glory. If we compare today with the past, we find more progress than anything. During times of progress, you will find parishes that will hinder these situations and you may become part of it. If you go to another church, how do you know you will not be involved in the problems of that church? People left Egypt for religious freedom and they come here lamenting the moral disintegration of our free society. So there is never greener grass on the other side. There is grace, even in the midst of troubles. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.

    But if you're not able, it is up to you. Here it is Protestantizing influences. In another church it could be lack of service to the youth. In another, it could be financial corruption. In another, it could be adulterous or perverse clerics (yes it has happened in some Orthodox churches). When you think of leaving, think of this. Is it worth your or your family's spirituality to take a risk into another parish's problems? Is this the worst and most dire problem for your spirituality? Or is there still something you can do with the fruit of the Spirit, in long-suffering?
  • edited October 2014

      When I'm inside listening to abouna praying the Commemoration of the Saints, I think of the good those saints have done for the church in our Lord's name and also about those who have pasted away, (three in a very short space of time last year whom I miss dearly) and I get feelings of identity and of contributions none of which I'm sure, doesn't include an protestant asceticism. The way we live life in Christ is different because our path was set by Christ, whereas, the protestants lost that lineage. Our lineage is straight, so for every protestant way of doing things that comes into  our church a little bit is lost on our journey to Christ.

       I'm not comfortable with it, but what can I do? My son goes to Sunday school and sings, one way Jesus and sings it at home, and I'm happy that he has Jesus on his mind, but I know none of the church Fathers sang it. It speaks of anyone to have faith in the Lord Jesus without the Holy Spirit in our church guiding them as the Holy Spirit did guide our fathers.

        If we are to change something or to keep it the same, it takes a conscious effect to do so. We maybe voices in the wilderness, but never give up reminding those who seek changes, of our church fathers and the lineage of the church.

        I'm helping teaching a class about Joseph who was imprisoned but ended up in a high position and my thoughts are guided to that is the nature of what we do, in that contemplation and prayer is what Joseph did before he was rewarded and that is where we should be. Not about making Jesus popular. That's easy, and if it's easy, then weak.

       If a protestant song comes up in communion or any other time, please speak to the father of confession about your discomfort with such songs distracting you contemplation and prayers as you want the Holy Spirit that comes through our church to guide you.

  • Im just glad that i'm not the only one sad if not concerned over this issue. Having said that, I still think its a blessing that they at least attend Protestant Prayer Groups than the stuff I've seen already. 
  • edited October 2014

    Oh, Ioannes, a priest in my church saw me walking around with a Copy of the Synodial decisions that I found in my church library and looked at me like a dear in headlights.

    Is this available in English?
  • not certain. Read it in Arabic

  • hi, i am not saying ignore the problems (we don't have same problems here in uk) but sometimes when you leave, some of the problems follow you.
    i will never accept incorrect teaching in church, but i would find another way to deal with it. 
    may God guide u 
  • I think we're making progress.  A year ago, a thread like this would've been full of people telling us we were wrong and arguing passionately and vitriolically for Protestantization.  See the conversation here:


    We're making headway.  God is good.  Keep fasting, praying, spreading the word, writing and working.  Don't let up.

  • Should I keep writing books nobody reads? LOL My new one even has an introduction written by HG Bishop Youssef and so far only my mom bought one.
  • @Ioannes Tell us the titles and we'll read them!!
  • @Ioannes lol the way you said that was just hilarious. I am sure if you start a thread about each book, they will at least become popular on this site. Then each user will spread to their parish and so on.
  • edited October 2014
    Ioannes, I agree with Ifamhy.  Post the books here as pdfs.  We need soldiers like you to keep up the fight here.  Don't be discouraged.  Look at how those who love Orthodoxy are slandered non-stop online as "bringing division in the Church" simply because they don't approve of the use of Protestant songs and materials.  It isn't those who disapprove of these innovations who are bringing division, but those who introduce them.  God bless your service and your sacrifice.
  • I have posted everytime I have a new book out, I give a link where it can be purchased and even say that I will email them pdfs if they cannot afford it.
  • Where are the links?
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