Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ignorance Leads to Opposition to Protestantism in Russia

‘It’s not ours, it’s American, it’s alien; since it’s alien we cannot expect anything good from it.’ It’s ignorance, all around.”

This quote is taken from a Methodist minister defining the religious-political climate in Russia in relation to protestantism. The full article is found here. In the article (At Expense of All Others, Putin Picks a Church), it's stated that the "Kremlin’s surrogates in many areas have turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a de facto official religion, warding off other Christian denominations that seem to offer the most significant competition for worshipers." The sense the Methodist minister gets for why this is taking place and the reason why Protestantism is being rejected is because it's American and it comes from outside Russia.

The ignorance is found in the following:
1. The gospel comes not from man but "from God". Note Paul's statement in Romans 1:17 where it is written "For in the gospel a righteousness FROM GOD is revealed..." [CAPS, my emphasis]. So the first error committed by those who seek to oust Protestantism is to fail to understand that the source of true religion and salvation must come from outside Russia, it comes from God himself.

2. To reject Protestantism because it's "American" would also be false and out of ignorance if this is true. While protestantism has flourished in America and while American protestants have demonstrated a long and broad missionary arm, one would be misled to think that protestantism either has its origins in America or looks to America for its identity and/or power.

3. While it's true that the gospel and protestantism are "alien" on one level to man, at the same time protestantism brings with it nothing to be be feared (except for those who do not want to be confronted with the truth and with their guilt). On another level, protestantism is not alien to the Soviet Union, but was present and active will before being cast out afterwhich Russia faced their decline and downfall.

4. Soviets are misled in thinking that opposition to Protestantism and the gospel will silence it. Let protestants be encouraged in reading the Scripture (Acts) that opposition and acts to squelch the gospel were used by God as means for advancing the work and growth of the gosepl. Opposition, which it creates hardships, should not ultimately discourage believers, but be seen as part of the providence of God by which he not only advances his kingdom and the reach of the church, but brings about the very work that unbelievers through their opposition work against.

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