Missionary Conversations with Protestant Sectarians
by Rev. Kyril Zaits
New Sarov Press Edition 1993
Printed with the blessing
His Grace Bishop HILARION
Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia
Editorial Notation: We present this to you who have had, or are having, trouble explaining the difference between the non-Orthodox, non-Catholic and Protestant denominations.
The "Anglican Orthodox" sometimes called "Orthodox Anglicans" are, for many of them, very Orthodox in faith and use the Liturgy approved by St. Tikhon which is often referred to as the "Tikhon Liturgy". We praise them, We bless them and We pray for them. But many "Anglicans" outside of the Orthodox Anglican and Catholic jurisdictions are not truly Orthodox or Catholic in spirit and truth. The same can also be said of many who claim they are "Orthodox" or "Catholic".
As for the many who are Protestant in faith and praxis, this article may help in delineating those who hold to heretical teachings, theologies and practices that were never, ever, a part of the true Christian Church no matter how much they may hold to their belief with a sincerity of faith. Those pastors or ministers of their churches are, for many of them, carpet baggers whose agendas are more political and pocket-book than having a desire to learn truth from error. They use their halls of worship as entertainment centers for such draw people in who are lazy with their faith. They draw upon politicians to draw on those whose emotional balance for a particular issue is central to whether or not they belong to the right church. Cafeteria Christianity is, for most of them, what Protestantism has become.
One understanding that is so important comes forth, amongst other understandings:
WHO MAY TEACH IN THE CHURCH
Mt. 28:19-20; Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28; Bom. 10:15; 2 Tim. 1:11; 2:2; Heb. 5:4.
(Those who may teach in the Church are: The apostles and their successors; only those set aside by Christ Himself — those who are ordained; those who are sent by the Church; those especially appointed and called by Christ, through His Church and in His Church. But no one may appropriate the position for himself).
Therefore, read all of the article, for it is very lengthy... and use it appropriately and properly. But, remember, there are some things in this article that could very easily be applied to some of our Orthodox and Catholic brothers and sisters not so much as being "Protestant" as they can be applied to the manner with which some clergy and faithful of the Orthodox and Catholic jurisdictions have opted for a 'politically correct' and 'entertainment' approach' instead of what might be called the 'struggle' approach for things eternal ...
Conversation about the Holy Church
A baptist peopagandist, from either Petrograd or Helsinki, arrived in one village, accompanied by several Baptist women who served as singers. Meetings were arranged for the purpose of propagandizing.
The local priest, an elderly little man — Father John, asked the missionary priest Father Kyril Zaits to come and bring the parishioners to their senses since several of them had begun to visit meetings arranged by the sectarians.
Father Kyril agreed to come on August 20, 1912, and Father John announced his impending arrival to the entire parish, requesting that as many as possible be present. The sectarians were also invited.
The day turned out to be warm and clear and by nine o' clock the •church began to fill up with worshippers. Towards the end of the Divine Liturgy, not only the church but the entire court-yard was filled with people. It was decided, for convenience, to open the conversation from the steps of the church porch. A lectern and a small table were carried out.
In front of the crowd there stood a sectarian with a Bible in his hands and near him were the women who had arrived together with some of the local parishioners.
We all sang the prayers, *'O Heavenly King" and "O Lord, save Thy people".
Father John appealed to his parishioners in a short speech, calling on them to hold firmly to Holy Orthodoxy and not to listen to those who slander the Holy Cross, throw out Holy Ikons, refuse to honor the Theotokos. There are many faiths in the world and one cannot pursue all of them. Our faith is true; our Orthodox Church is the one which the Lord founded and which the gates of hell, all the satanic powers, cannot defeat. There is salvation only in the Orthodox Church...
After his short word, we sang the "Our Father" and the conversation about the Church of Christ began.
"These people have come to you from afar," Father Kyril began, "as if to their relatives or friends. In actual fact, it is evident that they have come with the aim of offering you some sort of new teaching, some sort of new path to salvation without the Orthodox Church.
"Regardless of their sharp condemnation of Holy Orthodoxy, of their mocking of sacred things, you not only have failed to turn away from their propaganda, which at times is sacrilege, but many of you have begun regularly to visit the meetings which they have arranged. Some few have even joined together with them, daring to blaspheme the Holy Orthodox Church.
"Unfortunate ones! They have forgotten the warning of the Holy Apostle Paul:
" ' ... or if even an angel from heaven preach another gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema" [Gal. 1:8-9].
"Understand! Our Orthodox Church has existed since the time of the Apostles; our Church is the very one which the Lord Jesus Christ founded, our Church preserves in a pure, unaltered form all that has been handed down from the Apostles.
"What does this sectarian-Baptist say, however? He who comes from who knows where, for who knows what reason? He refutes all the apostolic teaching, as you yourselves have heard, and in its place he offers a new teaching. But if the Apostle Paul pronounces 'anathema' even on an angel if it would offer a new teaching, then, of course, this gentleman and all preachers of new faiths are under this anathema.
"Brethren, fear the apostolic anathema and flee from those who offer new teachings!"
Suddenly the sectarian shouted out: "We are not offering a new teaching! We are teaching and living according to the Gospel. The Lord wants everyone to be saved and we teach how to be saved. We are opening up everyone's eyes according to the Gospel; we call upon everyone to believe in Christ. We want everyone to be saved as we are, so that all will be holy as we are!
"This is what we wish, what we speak about and what we preach. Is teaching about salvation and faith in Christ really a new teaching?
Is this not apostolic teaching? Why, then, are you placing us under anathema ?"
This sharp shouting out of the sectarian evidently created an impression with the people. Deep silence reigned in the crowd.
"Let us try," replied Father Kyril, "to examine, in an unperturbed manner, what you have said and to shed some light upon the matter of salvation from the point of view of the Gospel.
"In the first place, it is an act of vanity for you to call upon these listeners to come to believe in Christ. You see how many people there are here? I know that they have believed in Christ since childhood. It is necessary, however, for them to understand that faith alone is not sufficient for salvation. It is quite possible to believe and yet at the same time be walking along the path which leads to destruction.
"Think of yourself, young preacher: you may believe, but are you walking along the path which leads to salvation, or are you complacent in that mistaken conviction that you are already saved and an un-doubtable heir to heavenly bliss, thanks to the fact that you believe?"
"Yes, I am saved, I am saved, I am holy and I will definitely be in paradise!" the sectarian cried out passionately.
"Do not fly into a passion!" Father Kyril rejoined, "Remember and think about what I will say to you and to everyone gathered here.
"Everyone, with the exception of some lunatics about which the prophet said: 'The fool has said in his heart — there is no God — ' seeks salvation.
"Some hope to reach salvation through Christ, others through Mohammed, still others through Buddha, the Jews through the fulfillment of the Old Testament law, etc. Who is walking along the true path? Who is in error? Take a look — even amongst those seeking salvation through Mohammed or Buddha, there are many very good people who fulfill God's moral laws according to the direction of their consciences, themselves not knowing why. Are there not many good people amongst the Jews?
"How are we to think about them? Is there hope for them for a blessed life after death? I know that you will agree with me when I say: it is necessary to believe in Christ. Without faith in Christ, in the direct sense of the Gospel teaching, salvation is not available. It is written: 'Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved' [Acts 4:12].
"And so, not in Buddha nor in Mohammed, not in Judaism — not in anything else is there salvation, except in Christ. Everyone seeks salvation, but their hopes are in vain if they do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the only path to eternal bliss: 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,' He Himself said. It is quite dear, 'There is salvation in no-one else'.
"Do you agree with this?" asked Father Kyril, turning to the Baptist "Do you believe this ?"
*'Yes!" replied the minister. "We also believe and preach this. It is said in God's word: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and all your house will be saved' "[Acts 16:81].
"Correct It is evident that the path to salvation is the same for you as for us: faith in Jesus Christ But, alas 1 Not all who call upon the name of Jesus and believe in Him are going along the same path. The Baptists are going on one separate path, the Papists on a different path, the Lutherans on another separate path, the Adventists on still another path, etc. Yet on each path there is, as we see and hear, the name of Christ; everyone believes in Christ, everyone hopes to be saved through Christ.
"Which path is to be followed, which path is to be chosen? Can it be that all paths equally lead to Christ in His heavenly abode ? Will all those who call upon the name of Christ and who believe in Him be saved ?
"We find the answer of the Lord and the apostles in God's word:
" 'Not everyone who calls to me, — Lord, Lord — will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.,"[Mat 7:21] And again;’ the demons also believe and tremble."[ James 2:19].
"The demons tremble even though they believe, because they fear God's judgment. Faith will not save them. Faith all alone will not save these new preachers of new faiths and their followers, even though they invoke: 'Lord, Lord', 'dear Jesus', etc.
"In addition to faith, something else is necessary. What is still required ? — It is necessary to belong to the Church. It is necessary to enter into a special union with the Lord. What is the nature of this union? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself speaks of this. Let us read the Lord's words in the Gospel of John, the fifteenth chapter:
"Abide in Me and I in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit by its own power, but only if it abides in the vine; neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine and you are the branches: He that abides in Me and I in him shall bring forth much fruit; but without me you can do nothing.
"'If a man does not abide in Me, he is cast off as a withered branch and men gather them up and throw them into a fire where they are burned.'"[Jn. 15:4-6].
"Are you, my co-interrogator, and all your Baptists on this Vine like its branches?"
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