Welcome to , 18 Mar 2012
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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CHURCH OFFICIAL URGES NATIONWIDE 'GAY PROPAGANDA' LAW
from RIA Novosti

Select to see full-size! (12 Mar) This poster with the title "Let's cross the border," pasted on the wall of a subway station entrance, shows a Russian border guard wearing lipstick. A new law in Russia's second city, St. Petersburg, that imposes fines for spreading "gay propaganda" among minors should be implemented nationwide, an Orthodox Church official said on Monday, a day after such legislation was signed by the city's governor. Homosexual groups have been demonstrating outside kindergartens in St. Petersburg. "The determination displayed by representatives of sexual minorities and their desire to continue rallying outside children's establishments indicate the timeliness of this regional law, which should, without delay, be given federal status, this, however, is the task for State Duma lawmakers," Hieromonk Dimitri Pershin, the Russian patriarch's representative on youth issues, said in a statement obtained by RIA Novosti.

Homosexuality was punishable by prison terms in the Soviet Union and was only decriminalized by President Boris Yeltsin in 1993, although discrimination against gay people remains widespread. According to a 2010 survey by the independent Levada Center polling agency, 74 percent of respondents said gays and lesbians were "amoral," while only 45 percent said they should enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals. The St. Petersburg law, which follows similar legislation in the southern Astrakhan region and the central Ryazan and Kostroma regions, imposes fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($170) for individuals and 500,000 rubles ($17,000) for companies for "public actions aimed at promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors." The legislation could also complicate efforts by gay activists to organize a Russian Gay Pride parade. Numerous attempts to hold gay rights protests in Moscow and elsewhere have been either vetoed by officials or hampered by riot police and other groups. [read more...]


AZERBAIJAN: RAIDS CONTINUE, LIQUIDATION CASE ADJOURNED
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

(15 Mar) Christian meetings continue to face raids involving the ordinary police, National Security Ministry (NSM) secret police, and officials of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. A Baptist pastor working in the southern town of Neftechala was fined in February. Meanwhile, the first hearing in a suit by the State Committee to close down the Baku-based Protestant "Greater Grace Church" took place today (15 March). This is thought to be the first attempt to forcibly close a religious community through the courts since compulsory re-registration was imposed by the harsh 2009 Religion Law. If successful the Church will lose the legal right to exist. The case resumes on 29 March, the court told Forum 18.

Today (15 March) the State Committee began in court moves to remove legal status from Baku's Greater Grace Church, the first such move since the harsh 2009 Religion Law was adopted. If the State Committee is successful, that church will lose the legal right to exist. Judge Tahira Asadova held the first full hearing in the case at Baku's Administrative Economic Court No. 1 on the afternoon of 15 March. The case was then adjourned until 29 March, the woman who answered the Judge's telephone told Forum 18 after the hearing had concluded. She confirmed that the State Committee had been represented in court by Sabina Allahverdieva of its Legal and Registration Department. It was she who, on behalf of the State Committee, had signed the 20 December 2011 suit to the Court seeking liquidation. This document has been seen by Forum 18. [read more...]


PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA, POPE WILL MEET, BUT NOT NOW
from Interfax-Religion

(14 Mar) The Russian Orthodox Church said its position on the possibility of a meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Pope has not changed. "In a nutshell, I think it (such a meeting) will happen," Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, said in an interview with Dozhd television. There are no time frameworks because the Russian Church "is concerned about the content of this meeting, not its time and location," he said.

"Such a meeting will take place when we feel that both sides are ready for such a meeting to bring real results and really improve the situation in the Christian world," he said. Work is being done on this, but it takes patience "because the main obstacle to such a meeting is the religious situation in Western Ukraine, which began there in the late 1980s and early 1990s," he said. "We expect very specific steps from the Catholic Church to begin improving this situation," Metropolitan Hilarion said. [read more...]


UZBEKISTAN: CHRISTIAN LITERATURE ORDERED DESTROYED
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

(16 Mar) On 15 January Odiljon Solijanov, a member of an unregistered Council of Churches Baptist church from Pap District in Namangan Region in the east was stopped by Pap District Police officers. Solijanov was offering Christian books to passers-by on the street in the small town of Halkabad in the District, Baptists told Forum 18. Anvar Ganiyev, the local policeman and other police officials took Solijanov to the nearest Police Station and confiscated all his books. Baptist Odiljon Solijanov was fined 20 times the minimum monthly wage. He was asked by the judge in his court hearing: "Is it true you were distributing literature harmful to our state?" He answered: "The Word of God is not harmful to anyone, and we are called in the Gospel to spread the good news," Baptists told Forum 18.

Other religious communities have suffered police and National Security Service (NSS) secret police raids (including during meetings for worship), confiscation of religious literature and musical instruments, and court ordered fines. In one case in Samarkand in February, a court ordered Christian literature confiscated from a Protestant to be handed to the local branch of the officially controlled Islamic religious leadership (the Spiritual Administration of Muslims or Muftiate). [read more...]


UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS DEMAND THAT GOVERNMENT PROHIBIT ABORTIONS
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(13 Mar) "The Christian community is faced with a great moral responsibility for those who consider abortion to be a way out of difficult situations. We demand that the Ukrainian state should at the legislative level confirm the right to life of unborn but conceived persons by prohibiting abortions," reads an official address of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Conference of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine. According to the Catholic bishops, the Ukrainian society suffers from the harmful consequences of abortions. According to various statistics, 1 million married couples in Ukraine are infertile of which 868 thousand are infertile due to female barrenness. Eighty percent of cases of female barrenness are caused by abortion.

The document says that human life is "sacred and untouchable as it originates from God and belongs to Him only." Therefore, the Holy Tradition prohibits abortion regardless of the term of pregnancy. During the whole period of its historic development, the church has considered "the destruction of human life by way of abortion to be the sin of deliberate murder of a person," and those who deliberately have abortions to be hypocrites before God and themselves. "According to the medical science (particularly results of ultrasound tests and antenatal optical filming), a baby killed in its mother's womb bears the same suffering as a born person tortured to death. From the viewpoint of medical ethics, an abortion is a distortion and defilement of the high calling of the doctor whose task is to treat and save human life and not to destroy it through direct intervention," reads the address posted by the Information Department of the UGCC. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

MOLDOVA: LOCAL COUNCILS BAN LGBTI DEMONSTRATIONS
from HREA.org

OVER 90% OF CITIZENS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHEASTERN UKRAINE BELIEVE IN GOD, 84% ARE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS
from Kyiv Post

TURKMENISTAN: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM SURVEY, MARCH 2012
from Forum 18 News Service

SOME 35,000 RUBLES STOLEN FROM PROTESTANT CHURCH IN ST. PETERSBURG
from Interfax-Religion

KYRGYZ NEXT-GENERATION CHURCH LEADERS LEAD THE CHARGE AS THE NATION STRUGGLES
from Mission Network News

UKRAINIAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES POINTS TO DEFECTS OF LAW ON PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

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


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

Our first news article and the first headline under OTHER NEWS HEADLINES both deal with the assault on Russia, Moldova and other Orthodox Christian societies to cave in under the pressure from LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) minorities to "normalize" these sexual perversions. Many western post-Christian countries have already yielded to this pressure, totally disregarding the teaching of both the Old and New Testaments concerning such sexual perversions. The article in our OTHER NEWS HEADLINES is from HREA, the "Human Rights Education Associates," an organization that lumps LGBT practices together with other "human rights." Many other "human rights" organizations including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) are pressuring Russia and Moldova to allow the propagandizing of LGBT lifestyles among children and youth. They should have the right to exist and be treated with compassion, just as we should treat anyone with a compulsive-addictive behavior disorder such as alcoholics or obese people, but they should not push their lifestyles on schoolchildren and teenagers.

What most people fail to realize is that although LGBT people claim a person's sexual orientation is an inborn trait the same as real male or female gender or race, at the same time these LGBT people also actively attempt to recruit the most gullible people: young children and teenagers, telling them they are free to choose their sexual orientation. Here's the inherent contradiction: if a person claims a "human right" to be LGBT because it is an inborn trait, why do these people claim it is a free choice and attempt to recruit gullible young children and teenagers? The fact is that LGBT people have a sexual addiction: on average they have hundreds of sexual liasons during their lifetimes, both spreading venereal disease among these gullible recruits and keeping them from having normal marriages and families. When the fertility rate in any society falls below 1.8 babies per adult woman, that society is doomed to collapse. Homosexual activity and abortions are the two main causes of the population collapse now occuring in western European and post-Soviet societies, where the fertility rate is below 1.8 and has fallen to as low as 1.4 in some of these countries. When will people wake up and realize that God knew what He was doing when He prohibited such socially destructive acts as homosexual activity and abortion?

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The Church and the Kingdom of God, Part 2

In the last issue it stated - "Just as Christ is the visible, incarnate image of the invisible God, so the Church is the visible incarnation of Christ on earth. For the first ten centuries of Christianity, all believers understood that the Church was one distinct, visible entity." What is the Church, and what is the Kingdom of God? Are they identical, one and the same? Or are they different but overlapping entities? Let me try to explain this by using a metaphor: "Kleenex" and "Xerox" are brand names, but these words are often misakenly used as generic terms. When a mother says - "Please use a kleenex!" to a child who's wiping his nose on his sleeve, or when an office manager asks his secretary - "Would you xerox these papers for me?" - we understand that they aren't neccessarily insisting on using the brand-named articles. In fact, it would sound strange if that mother would say - "Please use a scottie!" or if that office manager would say - "Would you kyocera these papers for me?" But they have no intention of discrediting or diminishing the Kimberly-Clark or Xerox companies.

Something even stranger occurs, however, when people use the word "church" in a generic sense: they often refer to various denominations as "churches" or as part of some sort of "invisible church" - a term that was invented only about 500 years ago. At the same time, however, in order to assert this claim, they must attempt to discredit any entity that claims to be the true visible Church, the incarnate Body of Christ on earth. (Can you imagine how ridiculous it would sound if someone were to claim that Kimberly-Clark or Xerox don't really exist any more, and that the true facial tissues and photocopying machines are the generic knock-off brands?) This idea was clearly stated in the book Transforming Mission by David Bosch which I recently perused. Bosch refers to the Orthodox Church only as leading the missionary effort for the first 600 years of Christianity (pp. 197-209). But then he makes no further mention of the original Church. People often refer to "orthodox" Christianity as if it were only a generic term, which implies that real, visible Orthodox Christianity no longer exists.

Another missions book, Mission in the Twenty-first Century, states: "And not only was Europe Christian territory, it was, or so it seemed to people at the time, the only Christian territory" (p. 195). The assumption here is that "Europe" means Western Europe, which ignores all the Orthodox Christian peoples of Central and Eastern Europe. It continues: "When, therefore, their isolation ended and they met representatives of the old Christianity of Asia and Africa, they often decided that the latter were deviant" (p. 196). To say that something is "old" or is "deviant," similar to ignoring it, is another way to discredit it as no longer relevant. Modernity assumes that anything old-fashioned is not good, that the new is always better.

It is as if the Orthodox Church simply fell off the edge of the earth: no mention is made of the evangelization of the Slavic peoples by Saints Cyril and Methodius, or the spread of the Gospel to the non-Slavic people groups of Russia - the Udmurts, Komis, Maris, Mordvins, Bashkirs, etc. - by such missionaries as Saint Steven of Perm, or of Saint Innocent of Alaska and Enlightener of North America, or Saint Tikhon of Russia who evangelized in the United States in the early 1900s and was later named Patriarch of Russia, only to be arrested by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 Revolution and dying while under house arrest. No mention is made of the fact that Orthodoxy is no longer just an "Eastern" form of Christianity, because it is growing rapidly in the West and throughout the world. For example, the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America has quadrupled in size over the past 25 years, while at the same time mainline and evangelical Protestant denominations are in decline in North America.

Stan Nussbaum's overview A Reader's Guide to Transforming Mission of Bosch's book, after reviewing Bosch's brief treatment of Orthodoxy in the first six centuries, gives faint praise to Orthodoxy by stating - "Since Bosch's main objective is to expose the Enlightenment to Christian criticism and help Western Christians think outside the Enlightenment box, the main surprise for me in the whole book is that Bosch pays so little attention to the two segments of global Christianity that have been least affected by the Enlightenment - the Orthodox and the Pentecostals." But then Nussbaum himself only refers to Pentecostal missions in Africa and South America, and only mentions one evangelist in the Ukraine - the Nigerian Pentecostal missionary named Sunday Adelaja, who is now known to be a charlatan and criminal, having bilked members of his "Kingdom of God" church out of millions of dollars in a housing scam. Nussbaum makes no mention of Orthodoxy other than using that word only in the title and intro of this section - very faint praise indeed!

The easiest way to discredit and diminish an entity is to completely ignore it, pretending it no longer exists. While in seminary, I was amazed and appalled that my church history textbooks only devoted three or four pages to Orthodox Christianity, which mostly referred to it in the Early Church period. Many Western Christians have been given the impression that when Christianity became the state religion under Emperor Constantine, the real visible Church ceased to exist or went underground for more than 1,000 years when the Protestant Reformation began.

But the real visible Church still exists, and it isn't the Roman Catholic Church led by popes who have proclaimed themselves infallible, or paper popes that claim to be inerrant. Both of these are infinite attributes that can only belong to God Himself. The real visible Church is led by God the Holy Spirit, revealing the right Way to councils of godly men whose decisions must be ratified by the Church as a whole.

What, then, is the Kingdom of God? In Ezek.37:24-28 we have a foretaste of a purified Kingdom under the Son of David, the Messiah: "My servant David [Jesus, the Messiah] shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my ordinances, and observe my statutes, and do them. They shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob my servant, in which your fathers lived; and they shall dwell therein, they, and their children, and their children's children, forever: and David my servant [Jesus, the Messiah] shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. My tent also shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.The nations shall know that I am Yahweh who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forevermore.

Then in Dan. 7:22 and 27 we read - "...until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the Kingdom.   ...The Kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heavens, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: His Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him." This tells us that the saints, the Church, the new and purified Israel, will rule with the Ancient of Days, the Son of David, the Messiah, over the whole earth.

This idea is repeated in the New Testament: Rev. 20:6 states - "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him one thousand years." And we read in Rev. 22:4-5 - "They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night, and they need no lamp light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever." So it seems quite clear that the saints, God's holy people, the Church, will rule over the Kingdom of God that will take over all other kingdoms of the earth.

The Church, the Bride of Christ, the new Jerusalem, will descend from heaven, and the Kingdom will be purified of all evil and Christ-denying people: "I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, 'Behold, God's dwelling is with people, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.'   ... But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Rev. 20:2-3 and 8).

So we see that the saints, the true Church, will reign and rule with Christ over His Kingdom that will include all of the remaining people on earth: the God-fearing and Christ-believing people who are left after the wicked and Christ-denying people are consigned to the lake of fire. Just as all the generic "kleenexes" and "xeroxes" aren't Kleeenex and Xerox, generic "Christianity" is not necessarily the Church. In my humble opinion, Christianity is the Kingdom of God: it is larger than the Church, because the Church, the Bride of Christ, will reign with Him over the Kingdom. It would make no sense if the Church were identical to the Kingdom, because the Church would only reign over itself. The Lord's Prayer will then be fulfilled: "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The Kingdom can be defined as all of Christianity, all those who confess Christ as Son of God and Savior, but might not be part of His visible Church which reigns over Christ's Kingdom that covers the whole earth. These people come under the Lordship and Kingdom of Christ, but do not reign with Him.

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Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray that the Church in Russia and Moldova will stand firm on Biblical Christian teaching against LGBT propagandizing.
Mon. - Thank the Lord that the legal case to liquidate the Protestant "Greater Grace Church" in Azerbaijan has been adjourned.
Tue. - Pray for reconciliation talks between the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Church, divided now for over 1,000 years.
Wed. - Ask God for freedom of religion for Odiljon Solijanov, a member of an unregistered Baptist church in Uzbekistan.
Thu. - Pray for the Ukrainian Catholic bishops' call for the right to life of the unborn by prohibiting abortions in Ukraine.
Fri. - Praise God that over 90% of citizens of central and southeastern Ukraine believe in God (84% of citizens are Orthodox).
Sat. - Thank the Lord for both the Church and the Kingdom of God, not the same but overlapping entities.


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. Status: Spending money you don't have, to buy things you don't need, to impress people you don't like.


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