Welcome to , 10 Sep 2011
Fortnightly Report on Christianity in Former Soviet Bloc Countries,
by Dr. Robert D. Hosken
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FIRST, THE NEWS:
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MOLDOVA: UN HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERT CALLS FOR MORE FOSTERING OF RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY
from UN News Centre

Select to read the article! (9 Sep) Moldova's Government leaders should demonstrate robust leadership to encourage religious diversity and ensure that the country's minority groups are not marginalized, a United Nations human rights expert warned today. The Eastern European nation has made "noteworthy progress" on religious freedom since the era of the Soviet Union, but it can still take further steps to foster diversity, according to Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

In a press statement issued in Chisinau, the capital, after an eight-day visit, Mr. Bielefeldt noted "the obstacles deriving mainly from the overly predominant position of the Orthodox Church, which enjoys a privileged status at variance with the constitutional guarantee of a secular State. Moreover, important sectors of society see Orthodox Christianity, in particular the Orthodox Church of Moldova, as constituting the backbone of national identity. Some groups go as far as to explicitly demand, often in an aggressive fashion, to put followers of other denominations - such as Protestants, Jews and especially Muslims - in a marginalized position." [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: NEW PROPOSED LEGAL RESTRICTIONS ON RELIGION REACH PARLIAMENT
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

(6 Sep) The proposed new Religion Law which reached Parliament yesterday (5 September), if adopted in its current form, would impose a complex four-tier registration system, ban unregistered religious activity, impose compulsory religious censorship and require all new places of worship to have specific authorisation from the capital and the local administration.

A second proposed Law imposing changes in the area of religion in nine other Laws would also amend the controversial Administrative Code Article 375, widening the range of "violations of the Religion Law" it punishes. The texts - seen by Forum 18 News Service - have been approved by Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Karim Masimov, but have not yet been published. [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN TO SCRUTINIZE FOREIGN RELIGIOUS LITERATURE
from Interfax-Religion

(8 Sep) Kazakhstan will examine all the religious literature imported to the republic, said Kairat Lama Sharif, head of the State Agency for Religious Affairs. "The religious literature, which arrives in Kazakhstan, will be sent by the customs service for religious appraisal," he said at a session of a parliamentary working group debating a bill on religious organizations in Astana on Thursday.

"Our agency has set up a scientific research center, which currently employs 30 experts in religion," he said. "We have commissions for conducting complicated religious appraisals, involving religious scientists. All religious literature intended for informational purposes will undergo the religious appraisal, and information posted on the [agency's] website will show, which literature has been banned and which has been permitted," the official said. [read more...]


UZBEKISTAN: RELIGIOUS FINES LEAD TO TRAVEL BANS
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

(9 Sep) Seven months after a fine for "illegally" bringing Christian magazines into Uzbekistan was overturned on appeal, passport officers stopped Tashkent Baptist Lidiya Guseva from leaving Uzbekistan fellow Baptists complained to Forum 18 News Service. She was taken off a late-night train and had to return to Tashkent by taxi. Bailiff Sanjar Sultanov told Forum 18 that the failure to cancel her exit ban was the fault of the Court for failing to tell them it had cancelled the fine.

The Court insisted to Forum 18 it had told the Bailiffs. This was the second case known to Forum 18 since the beginning of September of an individual punished by an administrative court for their religious activity being denied permission to leave the country. Powers to place individuals on the exit black list for unpaid fines was handed from the courts to bailiffs at the end of 2010, one told Forum 18. [read more...]


RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ASKED BY OLDEST CHURCH PATRIARCHATES TO OBSERVE ITS CANONICAL TERRITORY
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(5 Sep) Patriarchs of the four oldest churches of the world and the primate of the Cyprian Autocephalous Church called the Russian Orthodox Church to observe its canonical territory. "Due to the events which have recently taken place in the Orthodox Church," the council stressed the necessity that the Orthodox Churches should respect and strictly observe the geographical borders of their jurisdictions "as defined by the holy canons and Tomoses on the foundation of these churches."

With these words the pentarchy hinted at nonrecognition of a canonical status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow patriarchate as an "integral part" of the Moscow Patriarchate since the Constantinople Patriarchate stated in the Tomos on the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Poland issued in 1924 that it never legally renounced its jurisdiction over the Kyivan Metropolitanate. As for the whole Moscow Patriarchate and its canonical borders, the Constantinople Council observes the Tomos of 1589 according to which the territory of the present-day Ukraine is not part of the Moscow Patriarchate. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

UKRAINIAN AUTOCEPHALOUS ORTHODOX CHURCH WELCOMES DECISION OF COUNCIL OF FIVE
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE COMPLAINS OF SLIGHT BY ORTHODOX PATRIARCHS
from Portal-credo.ru

LEAKED CABLES: OBAMA ADMIN CALLED CATHOLIC CHURCH A SOURCE OF SPREADING "HOMOPHOBIA" IN POLAND
from LifeSiteNews

TURKMENISTAN: YOU'RE NOT GOING ON A SUMMER HOLIDAY
from Forum 18 News Service

NUMBER OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS GROWS IN RUSSIA
from Interfax-Religion

MOLDOVA: YOUNG AMERICAN WOMAN BUILDS UNIQUE MINISTRY IN DEPRESSED NATION
from Mission Network News

INTER-COUNCIL PRESENCE'S COMMISSION ON ATTITUDE TO NON-ORTHODOXY AND OTHER RELIGIONS MEETS AT DECR
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

It is difficult to know how to relate to people who have quite different religious beliefs, especially since the events of 9-11. Both the first news article and the last news headline address this issue, each from a different point of view. The UN human rights expert projects upon Moldova the UN's viewpoint of tolerance to the extreme of relativism, and the Orthodox Church discusses how to relate to the non-Orthodox spouse of an Orthodox Christian or how to pray for non-Orthodox people when they die.

The last news article and the first two news headlines all deal with an extremely important event: four leading Orthodox Patriarchs have rebuked the Moscow Patriarchate for attempting to extend its scope of authority beyond its "canonical territory" - the territory of the civil government of Russia, specifically into the territory of Ukraine, now under a separate civil government. Of course, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church agrees with the four Patriarchs, but the Moscow Patriarchate complains that it wasn't invited to the deliberations of the four Patriarchs.

From Affliction To Transformation

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In our last issue of Hosken-News I discussed the topic "Grace: God's Transforming Power," emphasizing that God's grace transforms us from glory to glory, but this happens only when we are colaborers together with God, doing good works by His gracious, transforming power. The great temptation for many of us is to secretly (or sometimes rather blatantly) assume that once we understand these theological ideas, we are transformed already into God's glory. In Russian this is called "prelest" - the self-deception of spiritual pride.

Pride is considered the root of many other sins, perhaps even of all sins. Lucifer fell from his glorious state when he said, "I will be like the Most High." Then the serpent appealed to Eve's pride by tempting her: "You will be like God, knowing good and evil!" The disciple Peter boasted, "I will lay down my life for you" (John 13:37), and "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!" (Luke 22:33)... and then denied Christ three times. Pride causes us to gossip in order to belittle someone else so that we appear bigger. Pride leads to stealing, murder and war in order to seize another person's possessions or another country's territory and wealth.

But spiritual pride is most dangerous, because it leads us to believe that we already possess God's glory, that we are already transformed into the state of perfection. A modern manifestation of this is the intellectual ideology of human perfectibility, that mankind is gradually but inevitably becoming better and better. This humanist ideology, however, teaches that we can be good without God.

In our last issue I quoted 2 Corinthians 3:12-18, which ends with: "we... are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit." But take a look just a few sentences further, at 2 Corinthians 4:17 - "For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory." We can only be transformed into His glory when we willingly undergo affliction.

In Philippians 2:5-9 we read: "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who... being found in human form, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted Him, and gave to Him the name which is above every name." This is the way of Christ to being glorified: the cross. No cross - no crown. St. Paul echos this in the next chapter, in 3:8 - "I count all things (his education, wealth and status as a pharisee) to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for Whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ."

Notice especially what St. Paul says in verses 12-14 - "Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I don't regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Paul was carefully guarding against the self-deception of spiritual pride: he admits that he hasn't attained perfection. But this wasn't the false humility that leads to laziness and lethargy: Paul says "stretching forward to the things which are ahead" and he repeats twice: "I press on." We can only attain perfection and transformation in eternity, but we should never be lazy, and always stretch forward and press on toward the goal of glorification.


Prayer and Praise:
Sun. - Pray that Christians in Moldova - and everywhere - will learn to relate fairly to each other and non-Christians.
Mon. - Ask God to block Kazakhstan's new legal restrictions on religion: limits on registration and more punishments.
Tue. - Intercede for Lidiya Guseva, a Baptist in Uzbekistan, who was incorrectly prohibited from exiting the country.
Wed. - Pray against Kazakhstan's "scientific research center" where "experts in religion" censor religious literature.
Thu. - Thank God that four leading Patriarchs told the Moscow Patriarch to let the Ukrainian Church be autonomous.
Fri. - Pray that the current U.S. administration will stop pressing other countries to promote homosexual behavior.
Sat. - Ask the Lord that all Christians will guard against spiritual pride, but press on toward glory and transformation.

 

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from Phyl, 09/14/11, 8:41pm:
As usual, very informative. Will there ever be freedom of religion over there, I wonder? Phyl


Dear Phyl,
Thanks for your comment! It may take a generation or two, in order that the older folks with a socialist-materialist mentality pass on and are replaced by people who know how to think differently.
In Christ, Bob



Select to see full-size!   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

p.s. Live your life so that the preacher won't have to lie at your funeral.


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