In the aftermath of the collapse of Communism the opportunity occurred for a great renaissance, a rebirth that would put the Church and the word of the Gospel back at the centre of the lives of the traditionally deeply religious Russian people.Two qualifications need to be made against this otherwise incisive religious commentary by a secular thriller writer. Mormonism should not be classed as Christian, and whilst it is unhelpful to teach the Bible in 'archaic language', faithful and well-applied biblical teaching is actually the Lord Jesus' solution to church decline, not part of the problem.
Instead, the turning-back to religion was brought about by the newer churches, vigorous, vibrant, dedicated and prepared to go and preach to the people where they lived and worked. The Pentecostalists multiplied, the American missionaries poured in with their Baptism, Mormonism and Seventh-Day Adventism. The reaction of the Russian Orthodox leadership was to beg Moscow for a ban on foreign preachers.
Defenders argued that root-and-branch reform of the Orthodox hierarchy was impossible because the lower levels were also dross. The seminary-trained priest were of poor calibre, spoke in the archaic language of the scriptures, were possessed of pedantic or didactic speech and had no training in non-academic public delivery. Their sermons were delivered to captive audiences, few in number and elderly in years (Icon, Corgi Books, p322-323).
Mr Forsyth is quite brilliant on the spiritual opportunity missed by the failure of the established Church:
The opportunity missed was vast, for as dialectical materialism was proved a false god and as democracy and capitalism failed to provide for the body, let alone the soul, the appetite for comfort was pan-national and profound. It went largely unanswered.
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