Putin, patriarchs, and thugs...
(Tim, w/thanks to Lucas) From my perspective, there's little difference between the claims of unity of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Both amount to little more than, "We're real, real old."
Read Calvin's Institutes and you'll see that evangelical reformed doctrine and practice are much older, going back to the Apostles themselves with much support in the early and medieval church. I like to tell my congregation that the Roman Catholic church didn't exist until the Council of Trent when it went off in schism. Yes, it's slightly hyperbolic, but a good bit true, too.
Here's an article from the New York Times documenting something those of us with brothers and sisters in Christ working in former Soviet bloc countries knew already. Just as Orthodoxy's scribes were tight with the KGB before Communism's fall, they're tight now with the blinkered nationalistic thugs governing these countries today. And Orthodoxy's patriarchs are in The Man's hip pockets...
Listen to a couple lines taken from the article:
Just as the (Russian) government has tightened control over political life, so, too, has it intruded in matters of faith. The Kremlin’s surrogates in many areas have turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a de facto official religion, warding off other Christian denominations... They have all but banned proselytizing by Protestants and discouraged Protestant worship through a variety of harassing measures, according to dozens of interviews with government officials and religious leaders across Russia.
“We deplore those who are led astray — those Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, evangelicals, Pentecostals and many others who cut Christ’s robes like bandits, who are like the soldiers who crucified Christ, who ripped apart Christ’s holy coat,” declared (Orthodox) priest, the Rev. Aleksei D. Zorin.
The Rev. Vladimir Pakhomov, the minister of the Methodist church, recalled a warning from an F.S.B. (successor agency to the K.G.B.) officer to one of his parishioners: “ ‘Protestantism is facing difficult times — or maybe its end.’ ”
God have mercy on these lands and their people. Doesn't the pic the Times has at the top of its article say it all? Who needs the Roman Catholic Pope when we can have so much pomp and circumstance (not to mention idols of gold) without him? Imagine emerging from Communism's darkness only to be shoved back into the darkness of this coalition of Putin, patriarchs, and thugs, all intent on suppressing evangelical Christian faith--the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pray for those who preach the Gospel in former Soviet bloc countries, that the Lord will protect them from persecution and expulsion already suffered by many, including men and women I know personally.