East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 2, No. 1, Winter 1994, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe

Are Evangelicals Interlopers?
Readers React

Letter to the Editors:

I am writing in response to your article "Are Evangelicals Interlopers?" 1 (Summer 1993), 3-4.  While there is much to commend in this article, it nevertheless fails to address what is, from the Orthodox perspective, most objectionable about the activity of evangelical Christians in Russia and other traditionally Orthodox countries now free of communist rule.

Perhaps this objection may be stated most succinctly by asking you and Dr. Hill why you do not become Orthodox.  Perhaps you would find it of interest to ask former evangelical Christians, like Frankie Schaeffer, Fr. Peter Gilquist, Fr. Jon Braun, and several thousand other former evangelicals, not to mention graduates of various evangelical and fundamentalist seminaries who have become Orthodox clergy, why they decided to become Orthodox....They became convinced that it is impossible to participate in the fullness of the Christian faith outside the Church; and, that there is only one, true, holy, catholic, and apostolic Orthodox Church....

All the arguments you make in your article, in favor of evangelical witnessing in Russia, are beside the point unless you first consider the Orthodox teaching on the nature of the Church.  For example, the fact that some Russian Orthodox hierarchs have been compromised by the KGB is irrelevant to whether the Orthodox Church in Russia is a part of the one true Church.  The fact is that there have always been corrupt clergy in the Church.  The holiness of the Church has never depended upon the purity of her clergy or laity.  Rather, it has always depended upon the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the guarantor of the truth of her teaching....

Certainly there is much to admire in our nation's [the United States'] tradition of religious tolerance; but, at what price has it been established?  To find ground common to the over two thousand Protestant denominations in this country would of necessity be to settle on the lowest ground:  "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth"  (Rev. 3:16).

Scott R. Stripling, Brooks School,
North Andover, MA

Hill and Elliott Respond

Numerous critics have rightly decried the culturally insensitive, aggressive manner of some Western evangelical ministries in the former Soviet Bloc.  We find it sadly ironic and equally deplorable when some Orthodox believers use the same offensive, proof-texting, triumphalist approach to non-Orthodox.


Letter to the Editors:

Conclusions in "Are Evangelical Interlopers?" 1 (Summer 1993), 3-4, that we should study Orthodox culture, evangelize secularized Russians, and promote religious tolerance, I believe, have unquestioned virtue.  But I seriously question the conclusion that we "should serve Orthodox ends" by "assisting" this church.  As a missionary, I am deeply sensitive to the issues of theological and cultural syncretism.  The poisonous mixture of biblical theology with mysticism, superstition, and blatant idolatry found in Orthodoxy as well as in Catholicism prohibit me in good conscience from "assisting" this religion to achieve its goals....My purpose in writing is to express my concern over the rise of a new theological and ethical relativity and pragmatism which is suffocating the position of the absoluteness of supernaturally revealed truth, regrettably, even among those who were once its greatest defenders.

Terry L. Schnake, President
Word Ministries International

Hill and Elliott Respond

We do not believe that encouraging the best in Orthodoxy, without sacrificing evangelical distinctives of salvation by faith and sola scriptura, should be viewed as posionous syncretism.

"Are Evangelicals Interlopers?  Readers React," East-West Church & Ministry Report, 2 (Winter 1994), 15.

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1993 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664

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