April 23, 2014

From Russia, with Love

Source: Christianity Today

Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion offers evangelicals more than an olive branch.

Hilarion Alfeyev, the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, located 80 miles northwest of Moscow, has a very big job. As head of external relations for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hilarion is responsible for talking to global Christianity on behalf of the 150 million people in Russian Orthodoxy worldwide.

Given his gift for languages, Hilarion arose as an easy pick for the job by Russian Patriarch Kirill. This year, the Russian-American Institute, a faith-based educational and support organization (formerly the Russian-American Christian University), helped Hilarion interact with a cross-section of evangelicals around the United States for the first time. Christianity Today deputy managing editor Timothy C. Morgan interviewed Hilarion while he was in Washington, D.C.

What’s the purpose of your trip?

To establish contacts and to find common positions. Often we are in circles in our own ecclesiastical environment and don’t communicate with those who might be our allies.

With regard to evangelical leaders, until recently we didn’t have any systematic collaboration or dialogue or conversation. Many evangelicals share conservative positions with us on such issues as abortion, the family, and marriage.

Do you want vigorous grassroots engagement between Orthodox and evangelicals?

Yes, on problems, for example, like the destruction of the family. Many marriages are split. Many families have either one child or no child.

There are many incomplete families, not to speak of various homosexual unions, which are equated with the family. This completely changes the whole picture of human relationships. It directly affects the future of many nations. The sign of a spiritually healthy nation is that it expands—it grows. If it shrinks, it is a very clear sign of unhealthiness.

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Read the entire article on the Christianity Today website.

Comments

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    Scott Pennington says:

    “Church leaders worldwide are challenged by secularism and Islam. Which do you see as a greater threat to global Christianity?”

    “Secularism.

    If we speak about Islam (and of course if we mean moderate Islam), then I believe there is the possibility of peaceful coexistence between Islam and Christianity. This is what we have had in Russia for centuries, because Russian Islam has a very long tradition. But we never had religious wars. Nowadays we have a good system of collaboration between Christian denominations and Islam.

    The picture is different in many other countries, and recently, even the European Parliament publicly recognized that Christians are persecuted and discriminated against in many countries, including in Islamic countries. This is a problem we have to address. Yet I believe that on many essential points, especially in many aspects of moral teaching, Christianity and Islam are allies, and we can cooperate in those fields.

    Secularism is dangerous because it destroys human life. It destroys essential notions related to human life, such as the family. One can argue about the role of the church. One can even argue about the existence of God; we cannot prove that God exists to those who don’t want to believe that God exists. But when the difference in the world outlook touches very basic notions such as family, it no longer has to do with theological truths; it has to do with anthropological issues. And our debate with secularism is not about theology; it’s about anthropology. It’s about the present and the future of the human race. And here we disagree with atheist secularism in some areas very strongly, and we believe that it destroys something very essential about human life.”

    Amen.

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