Despite the helpful clarity Scholes provides, he argues against a point that I never made. Scholes claims that I maintain "the Orthodox Church was motivated substantially, or perhaps even primarily, by a desire to stop the CoMission." In reality, I merely suggest that the negative Orthodox attitude towards Protestant evangelistic and church-planting efforts, exemplified in its interactions with The CoMission, proved fatal for religious freedom in Russia.
Furthermore, Scholes does not address the major question that faced ISP and The CoMission that I discussed. Did these groups effectively balance their dual goals of moral education and evangelism both in practice and marketing? While I would agree with Scholes that ISP did for the most part, I would suggest that The CoMission could have more effectively balanced the two. Of course, even if it did, I am skeptical it would have softened Orthodox resistance to The CoMission's efforts to establish small group Bible studies and churches. As Kent Hill writes in the issue in which our articles appeared, "The Moscow Patriarchate insists that virtually everything 'well-financed' Evangelical Protestants and Catholics do among Russians is 'proselytism.' The Russian Orthodox Church believes the truly civil and Christian thing to do would be to support the Orthodox materially, or at least stand aside and let the Orthodox Church regain its strength." I found this to be true with most Russian Orthodox leaders' attitudes toward ISP and The CoMission. They do not mind if ISP and The CoMission distribute their materials in Russian schools. They are concerned when these same groups try to convert Russians to a Protestant form of Christianity or attempt to start Protestant Bible studies or churches in Russia.
Perry L. Glanzer
Moscow State University, Yaroslavl Branch
Thanks for the information on CoMission. I continue to be amazed at the ethical stance of telling different publics whatever they are looking to hear. A utilitarian Gospel? Hmmmm?
Dr. Larry Ort, Academic Dean
Russian-American Christian University, Moscow
Editor's Note: The following letter is in response to Robert L. Saucy, John Coe, and Alan W. Gomes, "Eastern Orthodox Teachings in Comparison with the Doctrinal Position of Biola University," from the previous issue of the Report.
If Adam and Eve shared full communion with God then it would have been impossible for them to fall. From this you should be able to deduce that Adam and Eve were not perfect. How can a perfect person sin or fall? If you think about the consequence of your proposition that it is possible to fall into sin while sharing full communion with God you will find that it leads to a radically false view of God. As a Greek Orthodox Christian I appreciate your attempt to know and understand the differences between us and the West. Eastern Orthodox Christians consider their faith simple and beautiful but for Western Christians it would take years of study and research. Of course this research should be done with the aid of an Orthodox Christian since much has been written and there is a lot to decipher.
I was interested to see the list of Internet resources published in the latest edition of the East-West Church & Ministry Report. I was sharing this with a friend of mine who is involved in churches in Siberia and his response I copy below: " 'Word and Act' Web site and newspaper are no longer supported by the Bratsk Christian Fellowship. The Internet version of the "news" bulletin continues to be published; since the financial resources for the print edition were from local churches in the province, all of which have withdrawn their support of the work, as of April 2000 there has been no print edition."
Robin Evans, Buryat Partnership
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