Orthodox Bridge to the Evangelical World

Terry Mattingly’s latest column mentions the outreach of Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev) of the Russian Orthodox Church to non-Orthodox Christians, a topic we’ve discussed on Monomakhos. Mattingly also includes the American angle:

The archbishop’s statements were especially significant and timely because of a related conflict now raging in the Orthodox Church in America, which has Russian roots.

A major cause of the controversy was the decision by the church’s leader, Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen, to privately endorse The Manhattan Declaration, a document produced by a coalition of conservative Christians that focuses on abortion, euthanasia, sexual morality and religious liberty. Numerous Catholic bishops and several other Orthodox leaders have also signed as private citizens, not in their roles as church officials.

At the very least, this bitter dispute has demonstrated that some OCA leaders are opposed to public stands on hot-button political issues, especially any that proclaim church teachings on sexuality. Some prefer isolation and silence.

While +Jonah’s critics argue that they oppose +Jonah because he aligns Orthodoxy with the “Religious Right,” I think Mattingly is closer to the truth that “some prefer isolation and silence.” I haven’t seen any real cultural apologetic from those quarters except their criticism of +Jonah.

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Source: The Republic | Terry Mattingly

As point man for Russian Orthodox relations with other faith groups, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev is used to talking shop with Catholics, Anglicans, leaders in older brands of Protestantism and other world religions.

These duties have long been part of his job description. Meeting with leaders from the world’s booming evangelical and Pentecostal flocks?

Not so much.

However, recent ecumenical contacts by this high-profile representative of the Moscow Patriarchate is evidence that times are changing. Time after time, during meetings with evangelical leaders and others here in America, Hilarion has stressed that it is time for Orthodox leaders to cooperate with traditional Catholics, evangelical Protestants and others who are trying to defend ancient moral truths in the public square.

“I am here in order to find friends and in order to find allies in our common combat to defend Christian values,” said the 44-year-old archbishop, who became a monk after serving in the Soviet army. He also speaks six languages, holds an Oxford University doctorate in philosophy and is an internationally known composer of classical music.

For too long, Orthodox leaders have remained silent. The goal now, he said, is to find ways to cooperate with other religious groups that want to “keep the traditional lines of Christian moral teaching, who care about the family, who care about such notions as marital fidelity, as giving birth to and bringing up children and in the value of human life from conception until natural death.”


Read the entire article on The Republic website.

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  1. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    There was an article recently in NYT about how the Russian Orthodox church is reaching out to pro-life organizations in the US to help combat the high abortion rate in Russia.

    Here’s the money quote:

    Larry Jacobs, president of the World Congress of Families, based in Rockford, Illinois, attended the Sanctity of Motherhood forum and praised Russia’s new activists as allies. He has met with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow patriarchate’s department of external church relations. On a tour of the United States, where he was invited by Jerry Fullinwider, an oil executive who has done business in Russia since the 1980s, Hilarion highlighted a vocal anti-abortion stance as a uniting factor between Russian Orthodoxy and Protestant evangelicals. He has said they should form a “strategic alliance” with Roman Catholics.

    Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/10/world/europe/10iht-abortion10.html?_r=1

  2. Geo Michalopulos says

    Lola, isn’t it wonderful to just proclaim ancient truths and not have to always look over your shoulder? We need to pray for the Russian Orthodox Church that it continues to maintain its unapologetic stance.

  3. A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says

    Let’s face it. This is the future of Orthodoxy, everywhere. From Indonesia , where Father Daniel Byantoro was faced with a lavender Greek bishop and jumped to ROCOR to the U.S. where 30 years of misrule by a lavender metropolitan led to the loss of untold numbers of parishioners and to the current crisis , Orthodox Christianity must either “show or fold”. I find it increasingly difficult to understand the hesitance of the Church to preach the whole gospel. What are we afraid of?

  4. What are we afraid of? Taking a stand — especially if we are personally and privately compromised.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Amen. hence these idiotic resolutions to bind the Metropolitan from speaking out.

  5. Fr. Hans Jacobse says

    If the resolutions impede the preaching of the Gospel they have got to go. But you vanquish them by preaching the Gospel, not by wringing your hands because someone is trying to constrain it. That’s why Paul preached in prison and rejoiced that even though he was constrained the Gospel wasn’t.

    • Geo Michalopulos says


      Fr, of course you’re right. Nothing can constrain the Gospel message from getting out but our reticence to proclaim it. The tragedy is not that the Word can’t be preached but that otherwise sane individuals adhere to a restricted view of Orthodoxy and rely on shibboleths to justify their lethargy.

      Personally, I’d rather +Jonah (or any other hierarch for that matter) come out and preach in a robust voice to the people in his diocese. He doesn’t have to do it all the time, but should cultivate a real air of piety and ascesis so that when he does speak, it has genuine moral authority behind it.

      One of the reasons that Bp Benjamin’s recent foray into local Alaska politics doesn’t seem to go anywhere is not because it’s not worthy of publicity (it is) but because he seems like most other bishops –timeservers, administrators, and otherwise nondescript. Maybe that’s unfair, if it is, I’ll apologize. I certainly don’t want it to be the case but it seems to me that positive media coverage seems to coalesce around a religious figure who has something special about him. We saw this with Gandhi, MLK, Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, etc. We continue to see this today with the Dalai Lama.

      We definately saw this with +Jonah ever since he was elected. He was invited everywhere. He had that something “X” factor that made him an attractive media celebrity. Hilarion Alfeyev seems to have it as well. Anyway, I ramble.

  6. Of course, one of the main points of my column was to demonstrate that Met HILARION came to the USA to seek more cooperation with precisely the people that Met JONAH is being attacked for associating with. Highly ironic.

    What will happen? Who knows.

  7. Terry, not only ironic but terribly short-sighted.

    Missionary work always involves the transformation of culture, and who has a better developed theology of mission than the Orthodox? In fact, Christian engagement of culture is the only means by which any transformation takes place. It was so in the beginning (as David Bentley Hart lays out so well in Atheist Delusions) and it remains so today (as the Russian Orthodox Church demonstrates).

    The attempts to circumscribe Met. Jonah betray a critical failure of vision. His detractors do not understand what we are up against. Thankfully, Met. Jonah sees past his critics. This week he is speaking at the Acton Institute.

    Purists will object to the Acton talk because Met. Jonah might be sullying the Orthodox faith by mingling with Roman Catholics. Liberals will object because he is aligning himself too closely with conservatives. I’d rather follow the example of the Russian Orthodox Church who understands that our cultural obligations calls for collaborations with those who hold the same values on the needful things even though we disagree on theological particulars.

    Listen to the talk Met. Hilarion Alfeyev of the Russian Orthodox Church gave to Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX recently (below). What could explain any objection to this kind of work except a failure of vision?


    More information.