Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Christianity in Orthodox Countries?

I  haven't written in a while. Sometimes life gets in the way, and it has lately, but I aim to fix that. But I am also jumping on here quickly to Rant for a brief moment. 

I receive posts-by-e-mail of probably a dozen different blogs on various subjects: several "organizing" blogs, a few home school blogs, Thomas Jefferson education blogs, and, of course, several that are put out there as "ministries" of various kinds by Protestant women. I like some of what they write; in spite of having never met these women, I can say that they seem to be good and decent folk and I appreciate some of the points they make. However, one of the blogs I follow (and have only been following for a few months) has included a comment that hits a hot-button point for me. It is this:

(Note from the translator: In the Ukraine, there are two kinds of Christian… the orthodox church which is essentially pagan and just Christian in name only. The other kind is typically called “Believer” instead. There are only 0.4% Believing Christians in the Ukraine. To the Ukrainian being Christian reflects something on the outside but a believer is one who believes in Christ. Very Different Concepts. That is why there are very few believers in her school, even though Marina says 40% of people are Christians. There is a difference in the Ukraine between believer and Christian.)
She had done an interview of a 16-year-old girl in the Ukraine on her daily life as a Christian there, and this was a comment, as you can see, by the translator. Here is why it sticks in my craw:

I have heard many western Christian people talk about a need to go to traditionally-Orthodox countries and "teach" them about Christianity and "convert" them from their pagan beliefs. I have heard missionary types talk about how they need to "reach out" to the folks in Orthodox countries because "many of them have never heard of Christ." I respectfully (though adamantly) disagree. So I've responded to the blog post above (the rest of the interview was not worthless, so here is the original post) and share my response below - and open myself up for comment, question or criticism, as your own beliefs lead you to respond. I also see there is a need for more of my own posts to introduce Orthodox faith and practices down the line!

Here is my response:

To start with the positive, I want to say that I look forward to reading more interviews and sharing parts of the answers with my home schooled children. However, I must confess to being somewhat irritated. As an Orthodox Christian in America, I get tired of hearing people say that people in Orthodox churches in other countries (or even in our own country) are “pagan”. I have heard MANY Protestant folks talk about a need to go to these countries and “convert” them to Christianity, when they are practicing the Christian faith as the earliest Christians practiced that Faith. We are *not* pagans, our faith and love for God is real and abiding – at least as much as one finds in churches populated by humans everywhere, whatever your professed Christian following (Baptist, Catholic, ‘Non-denominational’, etc.) The thing of it is, because so few people know about Orthodox Christianity, they assume that because we use icons that we “worship” those icons (we don’t), because we have liturgical services (instead of services that are ‘non-scripted) that our prayers are not real or genuine (they are – and our use of ‘scripted’ prayers gives us a *starting* point for our own prayers), and on and on. I am fairly new to your blog and have enjoyed it thus far, but this is a sticky point for me because we do not need to be “converted,” we are Christian already. In fact, my husband and I were both raised in the Baptist church and the Church of Christ, respectively, and converted to Orthodoxy as adults after much research and travel – when going to Israel, the oldest churches look VERY much like the churches in which we Orthodox worship today, it is similar when traveling to Ethiopia – again, an ancient bed of Christianity.

I will not throw the baby out with the bath water; your interview here was an interesting one to read and I appreciate it, but had to address that one aspect and I hope you’ll forgive any offense if I have made any.

I'll make my own posts later about Orthodoxy, from my - still-being-educated - perspective.


1 comment:

  1. I read the original post - and follow up comments. I feel bad for this teen girl being taught that other Christians aren't really Christian. How incredibly sad - and lonely for her.

    Orthodox Christians in Orthodox Countries are no less Christian than Orthodox Christians in the US! I have family members who are Orthodox Christians in an Orthodox Country!

    On the upside, it's a long story, but I am Orthodox today because my relatives went as "missionaries" to an Orthodox Country about a century ago. God CAN use these exchanges to reveal Himself to us : )


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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