Welcome to , 09 Oct 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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(Note: the "prayers" link in the heading will take you to this issue's "Prayer and Praise" list.)

RUSSIAN CHURCH WANTS NOVELS BANNED
from Boston Globe

(29 Sep) A senior Russian Orthodox official said yesterday that novels by Vladimir Nabokov and Gabriel Garcia Marquez justify pedophilia and argued they should be banned in the nation's high schools. Father Vsevolod Chaplin's demand that Russia's government investigate and limit the use of the books was the Church's latest effort to impose religious norms in a nation that once rejected religion.

Chaplin, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate's public relations department, discussed Nabokov's Lolita and Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude on Echo of Moscow radio, accusing both of "justifying pedophilia." The book Lolita, published in the U.S., describes a relationship of a middle-aged intellectual with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, was briefly banned in several European countries, Argentina, and South Africa - as well as several library systems and public schools in the United States. One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in the USSR during the Soviet era - despite numerous references to incest and sex with minors. [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: "A NEW WAVE OF PERSECUTION HAS BEGUN ONCE MORE"
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

(27 Sep) Viktor Gutyar was not even present when his church in Satpaev in central Kazakhstan was raided on Sunday morning, 11 September. Yet, unless he succeeds in his appeal, he expects the administrative fine of nearly ten months' minimum wage for leading an unregistered religious community to be docked from his wages as a coalminer. His was one of five Baptist congregations raided in Karaganda Region in September, including a Harvest Festival in Zhezkazgan attended by 150 people, which was raided by regular police and riot police on Sunday 25 September.

"A new wave of persecution," is how one Baptist described it. But Mereke Myrzabekova of Zhezkazgan's Internal Policy Department told Forum 18, "They refuse to register in accordance with our Religion Law, so it's their problem." She admitted they would not have been raided had they been watching football or drinking vodka together "because that's not religion." [read more...]


THE MEETING OF PATRIARCH AND POPE COULD BE ON NEUTRAL TERRITORY - METROPOLITAN HILARION
from Interfax-Religion

(06 Oct) The Russian Church has stated again that it is early to speak about definite terms of meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Benedict XVI of Rome. "This prospect is real, but as we said it earlier, we're interested not in the fact of the meeting, but rather in its content. It has meaning for us only if it means that our relations truly and radically improve," the Izvestia daily quotes the Metropolitan as saying on Thursday. If the meeting takes place, it is likely to happen "on a neutral territory," he said.

The meeting between the Patriarch and the Pope should be carefully arranged "not only from the point of protocol, but from the point of finding shared position on the questions that divide us today," said the hierarch mentioning that the main obstacle to the meeting is the situation in the Western Ukraine. "There still no peace and harmony between Orthodox believers and Greek Catholics in the region. This topic has been touched many times, but we still don't see any changes," Metropolitan Hilarion said. [read more...]


UZBEKISTAN: "WE ARE A FREE COUNTRY"
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

(05 Oct) Uzbekistan has been harassing people meeting peacefully for worship: the authorities in the west of the country have prevented women and children from attending mosques, and in the central city of Samarkand police raided and fined Baptists conducting worship. Bahodyr Mamedkarimov, Legal Advisor to the Minister of the Interior, denied to Forum 18 News Service that worshippers were under surveillance. "It's nonsense, we are a free country," he claimed.

In separate incidents, Baptists in Tashkent have been fined 50 times the monthly minimum salary for visiting a friend in hospital; the Baptists were also detained by police for more than 24 hours. Also a Protestant has been fined 50 times the minimum monthly salary for possessing four books and two DVDs. He had earlier been fined 80 times the minimum monthly salary for possessing religious literature at home. [read more...]


ALL-UKRAINIAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS CALLS CITIZENS TO ESTABLISH UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENCE
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(28 Sep) The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) on 22 September published a joint address on occasion of the 20th anniversary of the restoration of the state independence of Ukraine. The document says that "the absence of our own state was one of the main causes of numerous tragedies which Ukraine passed through" and that "there is no turning back" from the way of independence gained in 1991.

The Ukrainian Churches and religious organizations say that "the state independence of Ukraine is not a question of politics, not a question of polemics or discussions." The protection of its sovereignty, integrity, fostering of social peace and agreement, development of relations with the neighbours and the international community solely on the basis of equality and partnership should be a priority for each citizen of Ukraine regardless of the political views, nationality or confession.

The document stresses the importance of the freedom of confession which is tolerated in modern Ukraine and lists the problems faced by the Ukrainian society, such as the deeply rooted corruption, moral and spiritual crisis, legal nihilism. AUCCRO is calling each Ukrainian "to do what one is called to as much as possible according to one's conscience. For only by doing so, by joint efforts will we change the life in our common home for better." [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

MOLDOVAN PREMIER WARNS CHURCH AGAINST POLITICAL MEDDLING
from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

TAJIKISTAN: CREEPING IMPLEMENTATION OF PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY LAW
from Forum 18 News Service

BILL PASSED BY KAZAKH PARLIAMENT RESTRICTS FREEDOM OF RELIGION - OSCE
from Interfax-Religion

DEBUNKING RUSSIA'S ADOPTION MYTHS
from Mission Network News

YANUKOVYCH MEETS WITH ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH ON MOUNT ATHOS, SAYS SOURCE
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

Russian government tries to prohibit free religious activity
from Portal-credo.ru

PATRIARCH KIRILL CONSECRATES THE HOUSE FOR DISABLED CHILDREN AT THE ASCENSION MONASTERY IN BANCHENY
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

IS ESTONIA REALLY THE LEAST RELIGIOUS COUNTRY IN THE WORLD?
from Th Guardian

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


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

The question of religious freedom and freedom of expression has come to the fore again in Russia: should the Russian Orthodox Church have a voice in society, asking that two books, by Soviet-era authors who described pedophilia as normal activity, be banned in Russian high schools. The tone of the article expresses the view that banning such books amounts to censorship, and almost akin to burning women accused of witchcraft. But we do have laws against pedophilia, and should not undermine these laws by teaching our young people that such behavior is acceptable.

I've just received a message from a dear Evangelical friend in Udmurtia: "We have many opportunities to minister together with the Orthodox. Please pray: from 6 to 12 November will be an Orthodox exhibition and fair in which 100 churches in Russia will participate. The theme is 'From Repentance to Rebirth.' An Udmurt singing ensemble will participate with its spiritual repertoire. We need wisdom in all matters. Thanks for your prayers."

Where Is The Fullness?

(Let us know what you think - use the online feedback form!)

In several previous issues I've addressed the topic of "fullness" that appears over and over again in the New Testament. You can review the Jan. 26, 2008; Jan. 11, 2010; Jan. 23, 2010; Feb. 21, 2010 and May 2, 2010 issues here. Today I feel the need to summarize what the NT says about this topic.

Recently I've written about the transfiguration of Christ and our transformation into His image and likeness. Those two English words, "transfiguration" and "transformation," are actually the same word in Greek: metamorphosis. We're familiar with the Gospel stories in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9 about Christ's transfiguration, how Peter, James and John saw His appearance become dazzlingly bright. The Apostle John briefly mentions this transfiguration in ch. 1:14-16 of his Gospel: "The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We gazed on His glory, the kind of glory that belongs to the Father's unique Son, full of grace and truth. ...From His fullness we have all received one gracious gift after another."

St. Paul also mentions it in Col. 1:18-19 - "He [Christ] is also the head of the Body, which is the Church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself might have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all of His fullness live in Him." St. Paul uses much the same wording in Eph. 1:22-23 - "God has put everything under His [Christ's] feet and has made Him the head of everything for the good of the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills everything in every way." Here's the answer to our question "Where Is The Fullness?" - it's in the Church, the Body of Christ, where He is the head!

Writing to the church in Ephesus, St. Paul prays "that Christ would make His home in your hearts through faith. Then, having been rooted and grounded in love, you will be able to understand, along with all the saints, what is wide, long, high, and deep - that is, you will know the love of Christ, which goes far beyond knowledge, and will be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19). And in Col. 2:9-10 St. Paul writes - "For in Him [Christ] the whole fullness of God lives in bodily form. And you have been brought to fullness in Him, who is the head of every ruler and authority." Bear in mind that Paul is using the plural form of "you" in these passages - he is addressing the whole church in Ephesus and Colossae, not just one individual. We can only attain the fullness when we are part of the Church, the Body of Christ, not as rugged individualists.

Again, St. Paul writes to the Ephesians - "He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints to the work of ministry, to the building up of the Body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-13). Here also Paul is using the plural form "we" - we are saved, sanctified, transfigured and glorified together, but as isolated individuals we are left behind.


Prayer and Praise:
Sun. - Pray that the Church will speak out and be heard in the struggle against pedophilia in Russia and in the West.
Mon. - Uphold Viktor Gutyar in Kazakhstan who may be fined ten months' minimum wage for a church meeting in his home.
Tue. - Pray for peace and harmony between Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Western Ukraine, so the Church may be one.
Wed. - Pray for Baptists in Samarkand fined for conducting worship and those in Tashkent fined 50 times the monthly wage.
Thu. - Uphold the AUCCRO in Ukraine in its struggle for independence, unity and freedom of religious confession.
Fri. - Praise the Lord for ministry between Evangelicals and Orthodox in the upcoming "From Repentance to Rebirth" expo.
Sat. - Strive together in prayer toward the fullness of God that can only be found in the Church, the Body of Christ.

 

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from Terry, 10/09/11, 11:20pm:
Dear Bob and Cheryl,
Thank you for sending me your electronic newsletter. Please keep me on you list for regular updates. I am wondering how the Lutherans in Tashkent are being treated. The Lutherans there are descendants of the 1766 migration to the Volga initiated by Catherine the Great. My ancestors were in that group and came to America in 1892.


Dear Terry,
Thanks for your encouraging note. I've checked, and haven't found any recent news on the Lutherans in Tashkent. One of my current online students, though, lives in Tashkent. I'll ask her what she knows about the Lutherans there.
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. The majority of the mob outvotes the prudence of the wise.


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