Friday, May 9, 2014

Understanding the Crisis in the Ukraine (Peter Hammond)

A very interesting historical perspective on the Ukraine in light of its current crisis. However, we should balance Hammond's positive view of Russian Christianity by noting that the Russian Orthodox Church denies justification by faith alone and therefore the Gospel itself. In addition, we also have questions as to how tolerant Russia is of evangelical Christians. 


Scolaris Legisperitus said...

The present Russian civil government dosen't care about Christianity, it simply uses it to stick society together to avoid cultural anarchy in the post-Comunist vacuum. That dosen't mean there is no great opportunity for Biblical Christianity in Russia.

The root of the Russian suspicion of Protestantism is, in my view, towfold :

1. Evangelicalism is a product of America, the "Great Satan".

2. More traditional (sic) Protestantism (Lutheranism) in Europe is very vocally left-wing (feminist, pro-mass immigration, pro-multiculturalism, pro-homo, etc.).

So Russians who don't search very far easily get the impression that protestantism is just a childish Western-Europe hipster cult or a tentacle of American cultural imperialism.

Christians in Western continental Europe, and I guess in Eastern Europe as well, tend to view the USA as the chosen land of Christianity. Maybe this was somewhat true in the past, but this view is false and counter-productive right now.

The Russian authorities value order and tradition. The Protestants they encounter in Russia are mainly Pentecostal or other Evangelicals who don't value order and tradition. The Russians may be biased, but these Protestants are not helping themselves.

If I were a Protestant in Russia, I would tell my brothers and sisters that spiritual continuity can (and must) be advocated when it is consistent with the Bible : Moscow is the third Rome and the heir of Constantinople ? Then recall the Byzantine iconoclasms which rejected saints worship and the Eastern Chrurch Fathers who advocated Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. Now what do you say, Mr Kirill the First of that Name, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' ?

Anyways, Russia is not completely hostile to Portstants, see the three recent legal victories for Protestants in Russia on the Slavic Center for Law & Justice website :

As for Ukraine, I understand that, for historical reasons, some Baptists in Ukraine prefer the EU over Russia, but to my limited knowledge, there is less danger for Ukrainian Christians form neo-Tsarist Russia than there is from neo-Sovietic EU. If the Russians can get along with Muslims in Abkhazia, why not Baptists in Ukraine ?

Steve C. Halbrook said...

Hi Scolaris Legisperitus, thanks for the comments. Interesting about the Byzantine iconoclasms! Indeed, I recall Justinian's decree against images of Christ.

Regarding treatment of Protestants: even if they are treated fine now, those who hold to justification by faith alone will always be a potential target for persecution as long as the Russian Orthodox Church is in power, as the Russian Orthodox Church would naturally find the true Gospel to be subversive to society.

BTW, you may find this interesting -- Geoffrey Botkin's report on his visit to Russia. According to him, Russia is a very dark place spiritually.

Scolaris Legisperitus said...

I'm in an exam period, again !

I'll check that in a week or two.

Scolaris Legisperitus said...

Geoffrey Botkin speaks more about the Tsars and the Soviets than the present situation. I agree that the Tsars and the Soviets regimented society more than they civilised it. But I think he's overcritical. What place on eart is not « very dark place spiritually » right now ?

To me, Eastern « Orthodoxy » is not very different from Roman Catholicism. In some ways, the situation in Quebec up until de 1960's was similar to the one developping in Russia right now : the dominance of a national church which largely maintained the population in ignorance. Yet the generations of Protestant Quebecers that preceded me found it much more easy than than my generation to spread the Gospel vis-à-vis their fellow Quebecers, precisely because their Catholic background in some way « prepared » them to Protestantism. So I suppose that if the Russians become more familiar with the twisted brand of Christianity that is Eastern « Orthodoxy », they will be more likely to become Protestants.

Also, the Russian demography has recently been stabilised - actually, it's in the positive now :


Steve C. Halbrook said...

"So I suppose that if the Russians become more familiar with the twisted brand of Christianity that is Eastern « Orthodoxy », they will be more likely to become Protestants." Whenever a heretical Christian group is in power, what could very well happen is that some convert to true Christianity when exposed to the true Gospel, while others harden and persecute advocates of true Christianity.