Formal Measures

Formal Measures Taken by the Oriental Orthodox Churches to Counter Heterodox Influence

In order to address the spread of heterdox influence on our Church and our youth, the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod, under the leadership of H.H. Pope Shenouda III of thrice-blessed memory:

  • Forbid priests to accept invitations to appear at Protestant gatherings unless they had first received the express approval of the Patriarchate (June 1996)
  • Declared that “No Protestant chorals [singing] and no unorthodox prayers are allowed in Orthodox churches” (May, 2005)
  • Warned against unauthorized “house meetings” and the spread of Protestant books, cassettes, and CDs (June 1996, June 2001)
  • Authorized a committee for the revising of religious books to remove any Protestant influence or doctrine, warning that “the statement that we are all one in Jesus is deceiving” (June 1998)
  • Warned specifically against music as a means of spreading Protestant influence and theology [H.H. Pope Shenouda III] (June 1998)
  • Declared that “clergy should be careful about teachers in church and check whether they are influenced by Protestant thought or not” (June 1998)
  • Convened a conference on how to face Protestant activities and how to protect the Coptic Orthodox Church from the spread of Protestant influence from the inside out (October 1998)
  • Instructed Orthodox clergy not to write introductions for non-Orthodox books so as not to give Protestants the opportunity to deliver a non-Orthodox message to Orthodox believers (May 1999)
  • Warned Orthodox Christians against attending non-Orthodox retreats (May 1999)
  • Warned Orthodox youth not to join in activities held in joint cooperation with Protestants or Roman Catholics, including sports activities, conferences and lectures, “since these are used for proselytism”; The Synod is explicit that “these are very dangerous issues” (June 2000)
  • Convened a conference to warn the Coptic Orthodox faithful against the activities of the Seventh Day Adventists (October 2002)
  • Organized a number of seminars, sermons, spiritual days and conferences stressing Orthodox dogma, differences with the Protestants, and explaining why the Coptic Orthodox Church rejects false unity, declaring that, “God is not only Love but the Truth” (June-September 2003)
  • Warned specifically against the activities of the Southern Baptist Convention, which published materials stating explicitly that they were targeting the Coptic Orthodox Christians of Egypt for conversion (June 2006)
  • Prohibited Coptic clergy from appearing on Protestant satellite channels (2009)
  • Prohibited Coptic Orthodox bookstores from carrying a number of heterodox titles, materials and publications (1999, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010)

Sources

In order to address the growing spread of Protestant influence on some of its communities in North America, the Coptic Orthodox Church has taken the following measures:

  • H.G. Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States issues an official press release to counter the misconception that a so-called “unity of love” eliminates the point of unity of dogma between the Orthodox Church and heterodox bodies (May 30, 2013)
  • Following complaints from bishops, priests, and servants about the rise of a Protestant-influenced movement in North America, H.H. Pope Tawadros II sends an official investigatory committee consisting of three bishops to the Washington, DC area (February, 2013).

Sources

On June 14th 2003, the Committee of Faith, Education and Legislation of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod produced a paper entitled “The Criteria of the Coptic Orthodox Song”.

  • The sentences of the Orthodox song should be far from claiming the guarantee of obtaining the eternal life through faith only without deeds.
  • Be far from claiming that repentance without baptism is considered a new birth, such as the following statements: (in a moment of change, to be born as new).
  • The song must emphasise the value of the deeds next to the faith, because faith without works is dead, as what comes in a prayer in the Sunset Prayer [Eleventh Hour of the Agpeya (Horologion)] “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where shall I, the sinner, appear?”
  • The sentences of the song should be far from implying that the past sins of man and present [sins] have been excused through faith without practising the sacraments of repentance and confession such as the statements saying “I am now renewed” or “victorious and more than victorious”.
  • The song should not be against or devoid of Orthodoxy, meaning that it is neither ANTI nor NON.
  • The song should not encourage neutrality, meaning neither being Orthodox nor Protestant.
  • The Orthodox song is not an emotional song, meaning touching emotions for the person, far from the spirit of repentance and being near to God.
  • The Orthodox song must be void of heavy musical instruments, as rock music, jazz, and fast tempo, and the loud sound of the drums, but should be accompanied by light music and composed upon the ecclesiastical chants and the chants of the tasbeha [Midnight Praises].

Sources