To Evangelicals Tempted By Eastern Orthodoxy: Something To Watch Before You Convert

Planting A Reformed Congregation In Romania


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  1. Living in a country, where Eastern Orthodoxy culture is also dominated, I don’t know, how thinking Protestants can be tempted by it. That was (in a worse sense of this word) archaic tradition, which is full of ceremonies and heathen superstitions (obligatory veneration of corporal relics, icons, and other rubbish included). In all respects, it’s like a pre 1517 catholicism (and moral condition of clergy too). In general, Eastern Orthodoxy theology is very weak and semipelagian.

    Also, today 80 % or more of Eastern Orthodox in post-soviet countries are just nominal “cultural christians”. And all their christianity consists of their child baptism, wearing small pectoral cross, placing religious icons on dashboards of their cars, and painting of eggs on Easter. More religious of them also can hold jars and bottles with “consecrated water”, and diving into the ice-hole in honor of Epiphany day. Most of them never read the Bible, never known their religion, never heared the word of God, and very rare visits the church. When this occured, they just put a prayer candle… and that’s all.

    Of course, more religious and not so superficial Eastern Christians are existed, but they are rare and almost imperceptible. Strange fact, but Eastern Orthodoxy is most often a religion of old women. Men usually are very rare.

    Such unviable form of Christianity is the cause of rapid growth of atheism in USSR.

    • Unfortunately in Christian circles EO is almost always portrayed in the most sanitized, whitewashed light. Even from men who have no problem breathing fire when it comes to Rome, you will hear the constant rejoinder that the East “isn’t as bad” as Rome, even on points where she is manifestly *worse* than Rome, sops to the pretended antiquity of EO beliefs, as though that is not as selective as Rome’s, lending credence to self-serving doctrines and distinctions, credulously honoring their mysticism founded in the grossest monkery and otherwise needlessly ceding ground to the unbiblical, unevangelical system of Constantinople. Between that and Aquinas (how I abhor how immodestly that monk has been elevated beyond his station in his time), we are so soft that even Schaff is spinning in his grave. Finding serious pushback against these things is as rare as hen’s teeth and so potential converts are often totally shielded from ugly realities until they find out the hard way, and by then they’ve imbibed so much unchristian nonsense that they are numb to it.

  2. Re Romania, I understand that some of the Magyar minority in Transylvania, Banat, Crisana, and Maramures belong to the Hungarian Reformed Church. I understand this denomination is as liberal as most mainstream “Protestant” churches in Europe, but is there any evangelical strain in it?

    Please, no jokes about vampires when I mention Transylvania. It comes up every time I teach the history of post-WWI Europe and the territorial losses of the Kingdom of Hungary and Empire of Autria. I had distant kin from there, but, being Jews, they didn’t even drink animal blood…

    • Yes, there is a small ”evangelical” movement within the liberal ”Hungarian Reformed” denomination in Transylvania. Sadly though, there is no confessional Reformed movement within it.

  3. One interesting thing can be mentioned, when we speaks about EO. I mean mysterious 1629 “Eastern Confession of the Christian faith” of patriarch Cyril Lucaris (1572-1638), influenced by Calvinism. Probably, that was the only moment, when EO come close to Reformation, yet Calvinism was condemned by Synod of Jerusalem (1672).

    • A murky point indeed. EO are forced to deny that Lucaris was the author of it, not only because he is in fact canonized in their denomination but because their Synod of Jerusalem explicitly denied his authorship. Scholarship on the topic has fairly conclusively decided in favor of his authorship; we have his correspondences from Protestants and Catholics alike which demonstrate his theological sympathies in no uncertain terms, his acts as Patriarch demonstrated at least Protestant tendencies (translating the Bible into the Demotic centuries before that “blasphemy” caused riots in Greece for one), and we even, as I recall, have an autograph of the confession written in his hand. Attempted refutations rest on their best evidence on official correspondences affirming in general terms his orthodoxy and fidelity to other EO church figures, but are easily accountable for. But in the absence of a compelling and accessible presentation of this, and a near ubiquitous pathological weakness toward challenging EO claims means at best the claims will remain in the air. Not that this is a primary issue for EO apologetics in any case.

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