Sending missionaries to countries with an established church

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, I noticed that several Christian churches and organizations were sending missionaries to Russia and its former republics. Russian has had an established Christian church since 989, so this bothered me; I found it insulting–IMHO–to the Orthodox Churches.

So my questions are:

  1. Why send missionaries to a country that already has a Christian tradition?
  2. Wouldn’t it be better for Christian organizations to support the Orthodox church rather than attempt to draw away its parishioners, considering that the Russian Orthodox church was suppressed for so long?

Same answer to both #1 and #2:

There are still souls to be won for Jesus out there, and the missionaries in question feel that they need to do their part for the Kingdom by helping out wherever they can, in this case, Russia. Perhaps they feel that the Russians have enough on their plate, what with survival and all, without having to worry about saving souls, too.

They’re not trying to “draw parishioners away” from the Russian Orthodox church. Have you got a cite for that behavior?

BTW, there are American Christian churches and groups who send missionaries to that most Christian of nations–America.

So your advocating the suppression of other Christian beliefs so that the establishment of one Church will not be insulted?

The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, (IMO) was created to address this very issue rather than the so called Seperation of Church and State. Rather than establishing a particular orthodox religion, it made law that all religions, traditional or not, should be given the same opportunities under the law. And there are some fundamental differences in almost every kind of Christian faith that should not be supressed.

There is also that missionaries do more than just establish churches - some also do things like set up hospitals and clinics, feed people, help house the homeless, etc.

Because if you don’t belong to the right chritian tradition, you go to hell.

Wouldn’t it be better for Christian organizations to support Islam in Russia rather than attempt to draw away its parishioners, considering that the Russian muslims were suppressed for so long?

The First Amendment does not apply outside US borders. :rolleyes: I’m not advocating suppression, but ecumenicism.

Do Christian churches have radically different beliefs? For example, this is the Nicene Creed used by the Russian Orthodox Church:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

And this is the Apostles’ Creed used by many Protestant Churches:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Is there really that much difference? Some of the missionaries may not believe in confession or the use of icons, and some may not take/offer communion, but does that supercede an ecumenical spirit?

Let’s see if I have this straight:

Your assertion is that if there’s already an established church (doesn’t that mean state sponsored, btw?) in a particular land, you want anyone who just so happens to have been born in that particular land or who’s immigrated there to be denied the freedom of thought so far as religion is concerned?

Doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.

I never said the US Constitution applies outside of US borders. :rolleyes: Give me a break.

And you are not advocating ecumenicism when you say that only one denomination should have a monopoly. And those details you listed are very important. For instance the idols, icons, saints etc; and the veneration of them is seen as breaking the second commandment.
And if you are saying this is for the sake of the Church and the people I would personally disagree. I was braught up going to Pentecostal churches. When I was old enough to look at my relationship with God, the dictates and rituals of the denomination left me personally in turmoil. Fortunately there is diversity in Christianity and I was able to reconcile my beiliefs without going against the dictates of my faith.

So while you are trying to say that diversity is a bad thing, from my experience it is the opposite.

Exactly. That’s what a lot of Catholic missionaries tended to do in Latin America amd other areas of the Third World. It was more of a set up hospitals, shelters, feed the people, teach them, etc. Yes, they attempted to convert people, but not by force-by example. They set up schools in areas where literacy was non-existant.

Sometimes, these people had absolutely nothing-no food, no money, nothing, because of the living conditions of these countries.

LOL! The Russian Orthodox Church is hardly state-sponsored. The Church was suppressed for decades under the Soviets, and I would think it would be more ‘Christian’ for other churches to support it rather than sending ‘missionaries’ to Russia as though it were the ‘darkest Africa’ of the 19th century.

Then what was your point in referring to it?


If you equate icons with idols, then you are ignorant of the purpose of iconography in the Orthodox Churches. I refer you to the website for information.

Maybe, but the fact is that some Christian denominations do consider iconography idolitry, and there are even some Christian denominations that don’t think the Orthodox churches (or the Catholic churches, to take another example) are “really” Christian. Obviously, a denomination that believes that isn’t going to want to support the Russian Orthodox Church.

Squish: I know that the Russian Orthodox Church isn’t state-sponsored. I was making a point, said point being that established church usually means state-sponsored church. You might’ve noticed that I put it in parentheses (these nifty little things between which this particular parenthetical comment is enclosed) so as to make it an aside. You might’ve also noticed that I indicated said comment to be an aside.

The rest of the post stands: you seem to think that if there’s already some group preaching or whatever it is that group does, then no other group should be allowed to come in and preach, etc. That’s called denying someone an opportunity to exercise his or her freedom of thought (in this case, religion).

Sort of off-topic, I’m pretty sure that Nigerian churches actually send missionaries to England.

You really do not know why I would refer to a law that prohibits exactly what you are promoting? Ummm… how about because there is a legal precedent that states what you are saying is wrong. And that there is a majortiy of a nation that disagrees with you and I gave you that law in reference. And then I went so far as to tell you why it is wrong. Do you understand now?

And I did not know we were debating the validity of icons in the Christian religion. I never said I equate idols with icons, I said it is seen as such and that there is a fundamental difference.

well, the othodox church is a bit miffed about other churches rushing in. the orthodox church in russia is trying to find its feet after 70+ years of repression. it will take a bit of time to get churches, clergy, laity, etc organized. many people have to overcome a distrust of clergy and hierarchy.

  1. why send missionaries?
    interestingly, not many people knew there was a russian orthodox church, and saw a chance to save the godless excommunists.

  2. yes, it would have been nice if they checked first. although when jehovah witnesses knock on my door they don’t check to see if i belong to a church first.

Most missionairies have their own axe to grind. Be it bring converts into their “true church” or scam money for missions. A bit of a hijack, but there are still organizations in the US that collect donations for bible smuggling into China. Never mind at the Amity Foundation, a NGO in China, has printed and distributed over 27 million bibles.

No, I don’t understand when that law does not apply. As far as icons being seen as being the same as idols (and the way you phrased it: “idols/icons/saints” made me think you equated them), that is still a case of ignorance.

Monty, you said:
“Your assertion is that if there’s already an established church (doesn’t that mean state sponsored, btw?)…”

No, an established church does not mean state sponsored. Don’t tell me I’m misperceiving your comments when they are as far from what you claim you mean as that.

Squish: See those nifty little things you freaking quoted? That’s called a freaking parenthetical comment.

BTW, here’s the honest-to-goodness, actualy definition, brought to you courtesy of Merriam-Webster:

Learn the language.