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Coptic Church in Germany Permits Dual Membership in Protestant Church

AntoniousNikolas

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The program Faith Matters recently aired a report on the Coptic Orthodox Church in Germany.  In the documentary, a Protestant convert says:

Now my wife and I belong to the Coptic Church. We have been confirmed by the bishop, and I’ve been made a deacon. But we didn’t have to leave the Protestant church. It’s like having dual nationality. We belong to two denominations and that’s what I find so open and so welcoming about the Coptic Church.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdoGF4RFTYk&feature=youtu.be&t=352

Does saying that he was "confirmed" by H.G. Bishop Damian mean that he wasn't rebaptized, as the Coptic Church mandates?  It would seem so since the documentary calls this man "a Protestant by baptism".  Further, how is this man - now ostensibly a deacon (which could mean anything from a chanter to a full deacon, really) - still permitted to remain a member of his former confession?  A man cannot be Orthodox and Protestant simultaneously any more than he can be a Christian and a Muslim.  What is going on with the Coptic Church in Germany?

Later in the documentary (around 24:04) it says that H.G. Bishop Damian and his friend the Catholic priest are - and I quote - "...celebrating mass together.  a sign of Christian solidarity" - and then the Catholic priest chants, "You bring together what is divided".  I am sure that someone from the Coptic Church will rush to the defense here and point out that His Grace was not vested, and thus probably not concelebrating, but what we are seeing and what has been expressed is disturbing enough.  Even if it was innocent, it is being represented as a form of false ecumenism, and coupled with the obviously shoddy catechesis and unquestionably wrong practice concerning the convert deacon with dual membership in the Coptic and Protestant churches, the overall message received is that in the interests of being accepted in Germany the Coptic Church is engaging in dangerous practices.

Of course, most of the Copts on social media are applauding this and saying "This is what is great about our Church!"  Lord, have mercy.  :(
 

Alpo

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How it is possible that something like that is happening? Doesn't the priest get defrocked or something by the synod?
 

AntoniousNikolas

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Alpo said:
How it is possible that something like that is happening? Doesn't the priest get defrocked or something by the synod?
Do you mean the bishop?  If you are referencing the convert deacon's dual membership in the Protestant and Orthodox churches, he says that the bishop "confirmed" him.  If you are referencing the sharing of premises and services with the Roman Catholics, it seems that His Grace is the driving force behind that as well. 

It would seem that to His Grace, integrating into German society means creating a mélange with the local heterodox churches.  This would also have the added benefit of providing insulation against the sort of persecution other Middle Eastern and African communities might face in Germany.

Unfortunately, if this is the case, this would not be the first time that we heard a prominent Coptic bishop articulate a sketchy ecclesiology which seems to hold that the Orthodox Church is simply a part of the Church, along with its local Western manifestations, the Catholic Church and the multifarious Protestant denominations.  It would also not be the first time that a Diasporic Coptic community - including its clerical leadership - has conflated the idea of integrating into the local society with embracing the local heterodox as representatives the universal Church in that location.
 

Alpo

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Fair enough. Just skimmed through your post and misunderstood it being about a priest. I'm still confused though. The Finnish church is as "liberal" as an Orthodox church can be but that kind of behaviour would get fairly swift response from the archbishop and probably the Synod of Constantinople too.
 

ialmisry

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I almost married a Copt who was raised Protestant but baptized Orthodox. It was not unusual to find in Egypt Protestants who baptised, married and were buried in the Orthodox Church. (the engagement fell through, for one thing, because her family insisted she become solely Orthodox which she didn't want and I didn't require).
 

AntoniousNikolas

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Alpo said:
Fair enough. Just skimmed through your post and misunderstood it being about a priest. I'm still confused though. The Finnish church is as "liberal" as an Orthodox church can be but that kind of behaviour would get fairly swift response from the archbishop and probably the Synod of Constantinople too.

I think that is true of almost any Orthodox Church - Eastern or Oriental - excepting the Coptic Church.  This is, of course, much to our shame.  Up to five years ago or so, most EO or OO Christians who heard about this kind of stuff in our church - Purpose Driven Life used in the Bible studies, CCM songs (erroneously dubbed "English hymns") sung in the youth meetings or even in the Liturgy, Pentecostal Nicky Gumbel's Alpha curriculum employed in the education of our people - were shocked, and used to say, "I thought you Copts were an ultra-conservative church?!?"  Not anymore.  Now, it's more an attitude of "There they go again".  Keeping long and strict fasts, praying long liturgies, and looking down our noses at priests of other jurisdictions who trim their beards and don't wear their cassocks to the supermarket only gets us so far in the "conservative" department when we're using heterodox materials in the education of our youth, permitting heterodox pop songs to infiltrate the life of our church, and now, apparently, permitting Protestant "converts" (has one truly converted if he is still a member of a church he never left?) "dual citizenship" in the Coptic Church and in their former (current?) confession.  This all really needs to be addressed flat out and in no uncertain terms once and for all.  We're de facto like the Anglicans now, with churches that use CCM in the liturgy (after Psalm 150, of course) and more "conservative" (read: normal) churches in the same Archdiocese, within a 30 minute drive of one another.  This is unteneble.  If it turns out that the Church is going to put all of this to right, then we can begin to get on with the healing that comes after a problem is corrected and progress as a church.  If it turns out that the Church is going to officially endorse these errors, then those of us who can never accept them can begin to determine our next step as individual families.  "Co-existing" in a big tent where we all look the other way and ignore each other though - "You pray at your conservative church, and I'll pray at my CCM church" - is not sustainable in the long run.  A decision has to be made one way or the other.  Existing in limbo injures the souls of everyone involved.

ialmisry said:
I almost married a Copt who was raised Protestant but baptized Orthodox. It was not unusual to find in Egypt Protestants who baptised, married and were buried in the Orthodox Church. (the engagement fell through, for one thing, because her family insisted she become solely Orthodox which she didn't want and I didn't require).
Interesting.  I guess they think they're ticking the necessary boxes by having those particular Mysteries performed in the Church?  I wonder why the priests agree to marry people who aren't living their life as practicing Orthodox Christians?  Or bury those who died estranged from the Church?

On a related note, I know a Coptic girl in the USA who was baptized Orthodox and considers herself Orthodox, but prays almost exclusively in an Evangelical church (which she also erroneously believes is "still part of God's Church") because she "doesn't want to conform to Egyptian culture" and she "gets to do a lot more service there, as a woman".
 

RaphaCam

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Here Antiochian hierarchs seem to be very proud to have faithful that go to the Divine Liturgy Sunday morning and RC mass Sunday night. When Patriarch Kirill came, Russians seem to be very disturbed by how anyone was getting communion with no questions, including people notably not Orthodox... I have no idea why they find it so cool...

xOrthodox4Christx said:
Christian Muslim. Europe's next new trend I'm sure.
It's already the thing in Nigeria, I believe it's a matter of time as soon as Islamic communities in Europe start creating roots.
 

Mor Ephrem

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Antonious Nikolas,

With all due respect to you as my friend, and as a non-Copt (so take it FWIW), I think the title of this thread is way over the top considering the paucity of evidence presented in it, and I believe this to be regrettable. 

Antonious Nikolas said:
Does saying that he was "confirmed" by H.G. Bishop Damian mean that he wasn't rebaptized, as the Coptic Church mandates? 
It could mean that.  Or it could be his way of describing his conversion in a way that won't alienate people who would probably be dumbfounded at the idea of "re-baptism".  It could be his own peculiar way of speaking.

Also, the man is speaking in German and we are hearing a translation, presumably by Deutsch Welle.  Can we be certain that what he said is what they are telling us he said?  I can't make out all of his words over the voice of the translator, maybe someone else here can?     

It would seem so since the documentary calls this man "a Protestant by baptism".
I wouldn't put much stock in the narration, as journalists routinely get basic things about religion very wrong.  But I think it's a stretch to suggest that this statement means that he was not baptised when he joined the Coptic Church.  It may very well be the case that the bishop accepted his baptism by economy, but I wouldn't necessarily draw that conclusion from this description.  It more likely means that when he was (first) baptised, it was as a Protestant (i.e., it's about his origins, not about Coptic sacramental practice).   

Further, how is this man - now ostensibly a deacon (which could mean anything from a chanter to a full deacon, really) - still permitted to remain a member of his former confession?  A man cannot be Orthodox and Protestant simultaneously any more than he can be a Christian and a Muslim.  What is going on with the Coptic Church in Germany?
The question I think we should ask is what he means by "belong to two denominations".  Does it mean he communes in both?  Or does it mean simply that he has not severed any and all ties to his former Protestant community but still continues to share in its life in some limited way?  The former is certainly reprehensible.  The latter needs some unpacking but may not be problematic. 

Later in the documentary (around 24:04) it says that H.G. Bishop Damian and his friend the Catholic priest are - and I quote - "...celebrating mass together.  a sign of Christian solidarity"
Again, I wouldn't put much stock in the narration.  If a guy in green robes is celebrating Mass and there's a guy in black robes standing nearby, the average journalist will conclude that they celebrated Mass together.  Even by RC standards that's not true, but can we depend on a journalist to be familiar with such nuances?  Unfortunately, no. 

- and then the Catholic priest chants, "You bring together what is divided".
Catholic priests have some leeway to improvise that part of the Mass.  That's hardly the goofiest thing I've heard at that point.

Personally, I think it's better if Orthodox clerics avoid attending non-Orthodox services so that we don't have to post-game analyse what happened based on edited videos and what it does or doesn't imply, but for at least a hundred years bishops all over the world have thought it appropriate to do so from time to time, and the Church survives.   

I am sure that someone from the Coptic Church will rush to the defense here and point out that His Grace was not vested, and thus probably not concelebrating,
Until that Copt arrives, I'm happy to substitute for him.  :p

...but what we are seeing and what has been expressed is disturbing enough.  Even if it was innocent, it is being represented as a form of false ecumenism,
Like I said, I'm not a fan, but a) I am not sure this was as problematic as you think, and b) I don't believe we should put much stock in how a secular news agency is describing this.  It falls to the Coptic Church herself to explain this. 

...and coupled with the obviously shoddy catechesis and unquestionably wrong practice concerning the convert deacon with dual membership in the Coptic and Protestant churches, the overall message received is that in the interests of being accepted in Germany the Coptic Church is engaging in dangerous practices.
The only thing obvious to me is that the "convert deacon" is alleged to have said things which, on their face, are confusing.  I think it's a jump to assume "obviously shoddy catechesis and unquestionably wrong practice" and "dual membership in the Coptic and Protestant churches" without more information.
 

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AN,
I am going to concur with Mor. This video seemed to me to be another example of conflating wrong information from multiple sources. I felt the journalism was the worse part of it. You can easily tell the journalist had very grasp on the Coptic Church. It was almost like a Copt gave them the background hymn and they looped it, not acknowledging that the Coptic Church has an enormous corpus of recorded hymns. It seemed to be high school journalism at best.

Secondly, the content was clearly written by someone Protestant and highly ecumenical. Given the 19th century Protestant missionary history in Egypt, this video hints at an ethnocentric view of the Coptic Church. There is so much comparison with Egypt and German culture, female freedom and roles in Coptic vs German cultures, Coptic vs German architecture. I felt like I was watching someone trying to compare apples and oranges and somehow concluded the Coptic Church is doing what the German Christians did in German.

Thirdly, I think there was a political ulterior motive for this piece. It came across as the Coptic Church in Germany is welcoming refugees in new ways (like leasing an abandoned military base) and Germany justifiably takes partial credit to the shame of other countries who refuse to help refugees. Maybe I am reading into it a little too much also. I think this video says more about Germany's view to the rest of the world compared to Germany itself.

Next, the convert himself seems to be very uneducated. Maybe he simply used the "dual nationality" as a simple explanation for rebaptism as Mor said. Maybe he simply doesn't understand the nuance of theological fidelity yet. I have seen many converts to Orthodoxy feel they are allowed to continue Protestant tendencies (like refusing to venerate the Virgin Mary, cautious of episcopal hierarchy, avoidance of liturgical texts and music, etc). This is a problem for all churches, not just the Coptic Church. Maybe, this convert was not properly catechisized. Maybe Bishop Damian didn't know his Protestant preferences when he was "confirmed". Maybe Bishop Damian thinks this simple minded convert is just blowing nonsense that is inconsequential. No one knows. I just wouldn't take this convert as example of the Coptic Church in Germany.

I will say that I personally have seen priests and bishops make a conscious effort to not rock the boat. They refuse to allow "liberal" ideas or actions so as not to get in trouble with the synod. There is still a conservative understanding among the synod and most clergy and bishops refuse to enact new, controversial actions without approval from the larger ecclesial body. Even Pope Tawadros was not going to allow an open ended "missionary" movement to divide the Coptic Church. Instead he had an international conference to get a better idea of how to incorporate missionary work among the Coptic Church with the approval of everyone. This is just one example. There are more.

This is not to say we don't have our ecclesiological problems. Everyone does. This video is another example of something I wish I didn't see n because it added nothing but confusion.
 

AntoniousNikolas

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Mor Ephrem said:
Antonious Nikolas, With all due respect to you as my friend, and as a non-Copt (so take it FWIW), I think the title of this thread is way over the top considering the paucity of evidence presented in it, and I believe this to be regrettable.
We are indeed friends, Mor Ephrem, but I must respectfully disagree, as I am referencing a direct and to-the-point quote from Schmidt-Rieding.  I realize that you have tried to call my interpretation of the quote into question, as well as its translation, but, again respectfully, I don't think you've accomplished your goal on either score.  (Though in truth, I wish you had.)  My German is pretty good, and from what I can hear (I will go into detail concerning what precisely I can make out further below) this man clearly feels that he is simultaneously a member of both the Coptic Church and his former denomination.

Also, please consider that I did not create this thread in a vacuum, but as a living member of the Coptic Church who is concerned with the effects that bad ecclesiology and false ecumenism have had on her of late.  As I have indicated, I do not wish to call names, but I could easily link to recent articles and speeches by prominent Coptic clergy (including bishops) which promote the idea that the Coptic Church is part of the Universal Church along with various heterodox confessions.  If Schmidt-Rieding had been a member of the Russian Church and had said the same thing, I would happily write him off as a delusional anomaly or a singular crank.  In the Coptic Church, however, where I can personally attest to priests permitting (and even spearheading) the use of Protestant CCM in the Liturgy, the use of Purpose Driven Life in the spiritual meetings, priests copying Evangelical Protestant sermons word-for-word and posting them online, the Pentecostal Alpha program being used in the educational curriculum of entire dioceses, etc., etc., etc., then I see Schmidt-Rieding's comments as part of a disturbing trend.

By the way, I tried to put "Convert Deacon Contends that Coptic Church in Germany Permits Dual Membership in Protestant Church" (or something similar) in as the title, but apparently that was too long for the forum to accept, so I had to shorten it.  If you find my shortened version regrettable, I am indeed sorry for that, but please understand that we have a huge problem in our Church, which so far, is apparently not being addressed outside of the dioceses of certain enthroned bishops (H.G. Anba Youssef and H.E. Metropolitan, may God preserve their lives, as well as the general bishop H.G. Anba Abanoub in Muqattam).  Schmidt-Rieding's comments - especially when coupled with both this general trend in the Coptic Church, and the apparent mélange being created with the heterodox in Germany - are troubling to me, and I feel that they need to be addressed.  Any heterodox Christian watching this report would walk away with the impression that the Coptic Church concelebrates with the Catholics, permits dual membership in heterodox confessions, and considers itself a part of a Universal Church that includes the same (which is more regrettable than my critical commentary here), even as many who watched the 60 Minutes report on Muqattam might have walked away with the impression that the Coptic Church endorses Charismatism.  (Which apparently was the case in that particular parish, until H.G. Anba Abanoub straightened things out there, glory to God.)

Mor Ephrem said:
It could mean that.
Indeed, which would be troubling.

Mor Ephrem said:
Or it could be his way of describing his conversion in a way that won't alienate people who would probably be dumbfounded at the idea of "re-baptism".
I would consider such a tactic to be disingenuous, especially given the prevalence of wrongheaded ecclesiology in the modern Coptic Church and the ramifications of deliberately creating such a false impression.

Mor Ephrem said:
It could be his own peculiar way of speaking.
I doubt it.  He makes his position clear.  He doesn't feel as if he has left the Protestant church.  He feels that he belongs simultaneously to two confessions.  The question is how he came to believe that he could.

Mor Ephrem said:
Also, the man is speaking in German and we are hearing a translation, presumably by Deutsch Welle.
I do wish that they had simply used subtitles - not only here, but in all of their reporting - but my German is pretty good, and as a frequent viewer, I generally trust Deutsche Well in to be accurate and not to misrepresent those they are translating for.  Also, as indicated above, although it is admittedly hard to hear with the translator talking over him, it seems he says something along the lines of, "Wir mussten nicht aus der evangelischen Kirche kommen", ("It wasn't necessary for us to come out of the Evangelical Church") and he says, "doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft", confirming the "duel citizenship" paraphrase.  Overall, I'd say the translation is pretty close to the mark.  Also, there's this recent booklet featuring an article on the Coptic Church in the cloister in question in which Schmidt-Rieding is described as, "einen bekennenden evangelischen Christen" (a confessing Evangelical Christian").  It seems he is trying to keep a foot in two confessional worlds.

I'd honestly be more than happy to be wrong about this, but so far, you haven't shown me that my concerns are entirely unfounded.  :)

Mor Ephrem said:
Can we be certain that what he said is what they are telling us he said? 
I think so, yes.  We can at least trust that it is a very close approximation.  Though I would be happy to be corrected, I don't see any reason to doubt the general truth of the translation.

It is clear that this man feels that he has not left his former church.

I am all for giving someone the benefit of the doubt within reasonable limits, but please, and I say this even as you did as a friend, let us not play the obfuscating game to the point that all attempted criticism of bad ecumenism in the Coptic Church becomes neutered and meaningless.  I remember being forced to spend several pages unnecessarily quibbling with my other friend Remnkemi over the meaning a term which already has a standing definition - Charismatism - in the thread about the charismania formerly carried out in the Church of St. Simon the Tanner, until, thank God, H.G. Anba Abanoub stepped in and put his foot down for all the world to see.  I'm not going to be exhausted by such tactics, nor withdraw any criticism without a definitive answer proving that nothing wrong is going on.  All I'm doing in this thread is asking questions, Mor.  I think it is reasonable to expect answers to them, and not simply to assume that it's all good until proven otherwise, especially given the present situation in our Church.

Mor Ephrem said:
I can't make out all of his words over the voice of the translator, maybe someone else here can?
I can make out enough to hear that the translation is not misrepresenting the gist of what Schmidt-Rieding is saying.  Why would we assume that it was?   

Mor Ephrem said:
I wouldn't put much stock in the narration, as journalists routinely get basic things about religion very wrong. 
A fair point, and this may be the case with the overall story, but I don't think it is the case with Schmidt-Rieding, or as it pertains that Sayedna apparently invited the Catholics to share the grounds with his faithful.

Mor Ephrem said:
But I think it's a stretch to suggest that this statement means that he was not baptised when he joined the Coptic Church.
I am not entirely convinced, but that may indeed be true.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that he considers himself to belong to two confessions.

Mor Ephrem said:
It may very well be the case that the bishop accepted his baptism by economy, but I wouldn't necessarily draw that conclusion from this description.  It more likely means that when he was (first) baptised, it was as a Protestant (i.e., it's about his origins, not about Coptic sacramental practice).   
Perhaps, but it does seem that he is still presenting himself to the wider world as a "confessing Evangelical Christian".

Mor Ephrem said:
The question I think we should ask is what he means by "belong to two denominations".  Does it mean he communes in both?  Or does it mean simply that he has not severed any and all ties to his former Protestant community but still continues to share in its life in some limited way?  The former is certainly reprehensible.  The latter needs some unpacking but may not be problematic. 
I disagree.  He says, "...we didn't have to leave the Protestant church.  It's like having dual nationality.  We belong to two denominations."  There is no way to understand this that is not problematic.  "Having dual nationality" and "belonging to two denominations" doesn't mean you're just showing up at your former place of worship for funerals and no longer consider yourself a part of them.  I think his meaning is clear, and I will continue to take him at his word until compelling not to are presented.  Thus far, none have been.

Mor Ephrem said:
Again, I wouldn't put much stock in the narration. 
I wouldn't just write it off as nothing to worry about either, especially given the present situation in our Church and since it seems that the Catholics were invited to share the premises with the Copts and carry out many joint activities with them.

Mor Ephrem said:
If a guy in green robes is celebrating Mass and there's a guy in black robes standing nearby, the average journalist will conclude that they celebrated Mass together.  Even by RC standards that's not true, but can we depend on a journalist to be familiar with such nuances?  Unfortunately, no. 
True.  But again, there is context to consider.  I don't think that Sayedna concelebrated with them, but I do think that there is an overall pattern of blurring the lines between us and them and creating the false impression that we are members of one Church whose fully unity is sadly impaired.

Mor Ephrem said:
Catholic priests have some leeway to improvise that part of the Mass.  That's hardly the goofiest thing I've heard at that point.
And it is obvious why he is improvising in that direction.  We should not endorse such tactics, even tacitly.

Mor Ephrem said:
Personally, I think it's better if Orthodox clerics avoid attending non-Orthodox services so that we don't have to post-game analyse what happened based on edited videos and what it does or doesn't imply, but for at least a hundred years bishops all over the world have thought it appropriate to do so from time to time, and the Church survives. 
Agreed.  But again, there is the larger context to consider in this case.

Mor Ephrem said:
Until that Copt arrives, I'm happy to substitute for him.  :p
Like I said, I don't think that Sayedna concelebrated with them, but given the context, I don't think it is wise to write the situation - considered as a whole - off as "no big deal".

Mor Ephrem said:
Like I said, I'm not a fan, but a) I am not sure this was as problematic as you think, and b) I don't believe we should put much stock in how a secular news agency is describing this. 
We should put a great deal of stock in how this will be distorted by proponents of false ecumenism in the Coptic Church, even as proponents of Protestantization in the Coptic Church distort videos of the late H.H. Pope Shenouda III, making it seem like he was on board with their agenda.  Or those who ask their bishop if he is okay with "English hymns" and when he - having in mind Orthodox hymns in English, not Protestant pop song - says "Of course!", parlaying that into an endorsement of the latter.

Mor Ephrem said:
It falls to the Coptic Church herself to explain this. 
I doubt any clarification will be forthcoming.

Mor Ephrem said:
The only thing obvious to me is that the "convert deacon" is alleged to have said things
I don't think there's any "alleged" about it.

Mor Ephrem said:
which, on their face, are confusing. 
What he said is not simply confusing.  Rather, it is an indication that he himself is unfortunately confused.

Mor Ephrem said:
I think it's a jump to assume "obviously shoddy catechesis and unquestionably wrong practice" and "dual membership in the Coptic and Protestant churches" without more information.
I think we have enough evidence to conclude that he was either not properly catechized or rejected that catechesis after baptism (?) to suit his own views on the matter.

Look, Mor, in the absence of Stavro, someone has to be Stavro.  There are lots of us in the Coptic Church who have been demanding a resolution on the matters we're discussing here - in the broader sense - for 20 years or more, and what we've gotten in response has been a lot hedging and a lot of "Let Sayedna (or Abouna) handle it", and it hasn't been handled, except in H.E. Anba Serapion's Diocese, H.G. Anba Youssef's Diocese, and in Muqattam by H.G. Anba Abanoub.  In its twin, barely regulated North American epicenters  in (and the places it has spread to from there) and in other parts of the Diaspora, it remains unaddressed.  Is it frustrating?  You bet.  Is speaking out against it an unpleasant task that sometimes leaves one looking like a crank?  Absolutely.  Am I going to stop speaking against it though, or minimize it, or help to sweep it under the rug for it to never be dealt with?  No.  I love my Church too much for that.

Remnkemi said:
AN, I am going to concur with Mor.
Okay.

Remnkemi said:
This video seemed to me to be another example of conflating wrong information from multiple sources. I felt the journalism was the worse part of it. You can easily tell the journalist had very grasp on the Coptic Church. It was almost like a Copt gave them the background hymn and they looped it, not acknowledging that the Coptic Church has an enormous corpus of recorded hymns. It seemed to be high school journalism at best.
Agreed!

Remnkemi said:
Secondly, the content was clearly written by someone Protestant and highly ecumenical.
True, but I feel that we (the Coptic Church) helped them to advance that agenda and played into that model.

Remnkemi said:
Given the 19th century Protestant missionary history in Egypt, this video hints at an ethnocentric view of the Coptic Church. There is so much comparison with Egypt and German culture, female freedom and roles in Coptic vs German cultures, Coptic vs German architecture. I felt like I was watching someone trying to compare apples and oranges and somehow concluded the Coptic Church is doing what the German Christians did in German.
I caught that too.

Remnkemi said:
Thirdly, I think there was a political ulterior motive for this piece. It came across as the Coptic Church in Germany is welcoming refugees in new ways (like leasing an abandoned military base) and Germany justifiably takes partial credit to the shame of other countries who refuse to help refugees. Maybe I am reading into it a little too much also. I think this video says more about Germany's view to the rest of the world compared to Germany itself.
Yes, but I think that cuts both ways.  It seems that as a survival mechanism, the Coptic Church is shielding itself from the abuse that other immigrant communities might receive in Germany by ingratiating itself with the native heterodox in such a thorough way that it lends itself to the false ecumenism championed by those communities and unfortunately swallowed whole by the ignorant in our Church.  We both know that there are many Copts who don't subscribe to our Church's true ecclesiology.

Remnkemi said:
Next, the convert himself seems to be very uneducated.
True.  And that is unfortunately often the case.  I knew a white Lutheran guy in the USA married to a Coptic girl who after baptism and marriage in our Church COMMUNED in both churches and attended both with some regularity (with his Egyptian wife!).  I told Abouna about it, and I don't know what went on from there.

Remnkemi said:
Maybe he simply used the "dual nationality" as a simple explanation for rebaptism as Mor said.
Maybe, but I don't think so for reasons articulated above.  Baptism into our Church would better be described as renouncing his former citizenship, not holding dual citizenship.

Remnkemi said:
Maybe he simply doesn't understand the nuance of theological fidelity yet.
And this is indicative of poor catechesis on our part.

Remnkemi said:
I have seen many converts to Orthodoxy feel they are allowed to continue Protestant tendencies (like refusing to venerate the Virgin Mary, cautious of episcopal hierarchy, avoidance of liturgical texts and music, etc). This is a problem for all churches, not just the Coptic Church.
Yes, but it is especially pronounced among us, and unfortunately, that is sometimes due to the fact that those doing the catechesis are themselves in need of catechesis, especially as it pertains to ecclesiology.

Remnkemi said:
Maybe, this convert was not properly catechisized.
That's what I said!  :)

Remnkemi said:
Maybe Bishop Damian didn't know his Protestant preferences when he was "confirmed". Maybe Bishop Damian thinks this simple minded convert is just blowing nonsense that is inconsequential. No one knows.
True.  But again, this is indicative of shoddy catechesis.

Remnkemi said:
I just wouldn't take this convert as example of the Coptic Church in Germany.
That's a fair point.  Although, as I said, the whole mélange with the heterodox depicted in the video doesn't paint a pretty picture.

Remnkemi said:
I will say that I personally have seen priests and bishops make a conscious effort to not rock the boat. They refuse to allow "liberal" ideas or actions so as not to get in trouble with the synod. There is still a conservative understanding among the synod and most clergy and bishops refuse to enact new, controversial actions without approval from the larger ecclesial body.
Agreed.  But I have also seen priests and bishops make a conscious effort not to rock the boat with the heterodox by refuting their statements that we are part of one Church.

Remnkemi said:
Even Pope Tawadros was not going to allow an open ended "missionary" movement to divide the Coptic Church. Instead he had an international conference to get a better idea of how to incorporate missionary work among the Coptic Church with the approval of everyone. This is just one example. There are more.
Please elaborate on this.  Are you referring to the "Lands of Immigration" conference?  If so, I must sadly point out that the most Protestantizing elements in the Coptic Church were not only represented there, but have been allowed to continue with their usual modus operandi before and after said conference.  The conference did not impede them or lead to their being regulated in any way.  Also, what ever came of this official investigation?  Why aren't these things being addressed?

Remnkemi said:
This is not to say we don't have our ecclesiological problems. Everyone does.
Amen.  But in our Church, it seems to be allowed to fester in certain areas, like an infected wound full of pus.  I was so encouraged by the Keraza article I linked to.  I even talked to one of the bishops involved and he said not to worry.  Disturbing things had been found, but it would be dealt with.  That was four years ago, and the same stuff is still happening, all over the internet for everyone to see.  Can you see, beloved brother, how this can be vexing to the soul even if Christ will surely prevail in the end?  Because in the meantime, countless youth will be poisoned and lost.  :'(

Remnkemi said:
This video is another example of something I wish I didn't see n because it added nothing but confusion.
Amen and amen.
 

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Antonious Nikolas said:
Also, please consider that I did not create this thread in a vacuum, but as a living member of the Coptic Church who is concerned with the effects that bad ecclesiology and false ecumenism have had on her of late.  As I have indicated, I do not wish to call names, but I could easily link to recent articles and speeches by prominent Coptic clergy (including bishops) which promote the idea that the Coptic Church is part of the Universal Church along with various heterodox confessions.  If Schmidt-Rieding had been a member of the Russian Church and had said the same thing, I would happily write him off as a delusional anomaly or a singular crank.  In the Coptic Church, however, where I can personally attest to priests permitting (and even spearheading) the use of Protestant CCM in the Liturgy, the use of Purpose Driven Life in the spiritual meetings, priests copying Evangelical Protestant sermons word-for-word and posting them online, the Pentecostal Alpha program being used in the educational curriculum of entire dioceses, etc., etc., etc., then I see Schmidt-Rieding's comments as part of a disturbing trend.
I understand that this is how you see the comments, and you may be right.  But I watched the entire video and I'm not convinced it is enough proof on its own to claim that the Coptic Church in Germany "permits dual membership in a Protestant Church", which is what the subject line claims is happening.   

By the way, I tried to put "Convert Deacon Contends that Coptic Church in Germany Permits Dual Membership in Protestant Church" (or something similar) in as the title, but apparently that was too long for the forum to accept, so I had to shorten it.  If you find my shortened version regrettable, I am indeed sorry for that, but please understand that we have a huge problem in our Church, which so far, is apparently not being addressed outside of the dioceses of certain enthroned bishops (H.G. Anba Youssef and H.E. Metropolitan, may God preserve their lives, as well as the general bishop H.G. Anba Abanoub in Muqattam). 
While I'm not entirely ignorant of the problems in the Coptic Church, I am certainly not an expert in them.  Nevertheless, claiming that the "Coptic Church in Germany Permits Dual Membership in Protestant Church" without even a "?" at the end is, IMO, a weighty and serious assertion to make based on the video in the OP.  In no way do I feel that such an opinion lessens the gravity of the more well-substantiated problems in the Coptic Church, but I need more information before I'm willing to add this German issue to that group.   

Any heterodox Christian watching this report would walk away with the impression that the Coptic Church concelebrates with the Catholics, permits dual membership in heterodox confessions, and considers itself a part of a Universal Church that includes the same...
I don't know, I watched it and I'm not entirely sold on those conclusions.  If a heterodox Christian comes to those conclusions based on a video most likely written and produced by other heterodox Christians, agnostics, and/or atheists who themselves don't seem to have a firm grasp on everything, how do you police such a thing without refusing journalists' requests for access or putting out the reports yourselves? 

I am all for giving someone the benefit of the doubt within reasonable limits, but please, and I say this even as you did as a friend, let us not play the obfuscating game to the point that all attempted criticism of bad ecumenism in the Coptic Church becomes neutered and meaningless. 
I don't believe I am obfuscating.  As you went on to say after these words, I too am asking questions in an attempt to figure out what actually is going on here.  But I don't feel comfortable answering those questions for myself based on an analogy to other situations. 

Mor Ephrem said:
I wouldn't put much stock in the narration, as journalists routinely get basic things about religion very wrong. 
A fair point, and this may be the case with the overall story, but I don't think it is the case with Schmidt-Rieding, or as it pertains that Sayedna apparently invited the Catholics to share the grounds with his faithful.
Since I am happy (in a manner of speaking) to concede regarding the bizarre nature of what Schmidt-Riedling says, I will pass over that.  As for Bp Damian inviting Catholics to share the grounds with the Orthodox, what do you see as problematic in that? 

Mor Ephrem said:
If a guy in green robes is celebrating Mass and there's a guy in black robes standing nearby, the average journalist will conclude that they celebrated Mass together.  Even by RC standards that's not true, but can we depend on a journalist to be familiar with such nuances?  Unfortunately, no. 
True.  But again, there is context to consider.  I don't think that Sayedna concelebrated with them, but I do think that there is an overall pattern of blurring the lines between us and them and creating the false impression that we are members of one Church whose fully unity is sadly impaired.
I agree.

Mor Ephrem said:
Catholic priests have some leeway to improvise that part of the Mass.  That's hardly the goofiest thing I've heard at that point.
And it is obvious why he is improvising in that direction.  We should not endorse such tactics, even tacitly.
I don't know.  In the context of a penitential ritual in which people are seeking God's forgiveness for their sins, a priest saying something about God bringing together what is divided need not primarily be about ecumenism as opposed, say, to Ephesians 2.  What does a bishop do in such a situation (other than not be there in the first place)?  Walk out based on an assumption of ecumenism? 

Mor Ephrem said:
Until that Copt arrives, I'm happy to substitute for him.  :p
Like I said, I don't think that Sayedna concelebrated with them, but given the context, I don't think it is wise to write the situation - considered as a whole - off as "no big deal".
I wouldn't say it's "no big deal".  The situation considered as a whole is a big deal.  But I've limited myself to this video and claims made by it or made about it.  If, on the other hand, I have to talk about the bad aspects of ecumenism, this video is peanuts.  I can show you worse videos. 

We should put a great deal of stock in how this will be distorted by proponents of false ecumenism in the Coptic Church, even as proponents of Protestantization in the Coptic Church distort videos of the late H.H. Pope Shenouda III, making it seem like he was on board with their agenda.  Or those who ask their bishop if he is okay with "English hymns" and when he - having in mind Orthodox hymns in English, not Protestant pop song - says "Of course!", parlaying that into an endorsement of the latter.
From descriptions on OCNet, it seems as if Coptic clergy don't inquire too deeply when people ask to do something.  Maybe that's a subject for another thread, but that informal attitude and the miscommunications that can arise from it ought to be addressed. 

Mor Ephrem said:
It falls to the Coptic Church herself to explain this. 
I doubt any clarification will be forthcoming.
Has a clarification been demanded? 

Look, Mor, in the absence of Stavro, someone has to be Stavro.  There are lots of us in the Coptic Church who have been demanding a resolution on the matters we're discussing here - in the broader sense - for 20 years or more, and what we've gotten in response has been a lot hedging and a lot of "Let Sayedna (or Abouna) handle it", and it hasn't been handled, except in H.E. Anba Serapion's Diocese, H.G. Anba Youssef's Diocese, and in Muqattam by H.G. Anba Abanoub.  In its twin, barely regulated North American epicenters  in (and the places it has spread to from there) and in other parts of the Diaspora, it remains unaddressed.  Is it frustrating?  You bet.  Is speaking out against it an unpleasant task that sometimes leaves one looking like a crank?  Absolutely.  Am I going to stop speaking against it though, or minimize it, or help to sweep it under the rug for it to never be dealt with?  No.  I love my Church too much for that.
I hear you.  I've had to be "that guy" at times, even directly to bishops, and I know something of the frustration of nothing or not enough getting done.  We're on the same team.  :)   
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
I understand that this is how you see the comments, and you may be right.  But I watched the entire video and I'm not convinced it is enough proof on its own to claim that the Coptic Church in Germany "permits dual membership in a Protestant Church", which is what the subject line claims is happening.
It looks like this is one of those occasions where we'll have to agree to disagree.  I think the subject line is warranted in light of what I saw and heard in the video.  You don't.  We can both restate our opinions in various ways as many times as we feel like replying to one another, but I doubt that we'll either convince one another to change our minds or definitively prove that the other guy is wrong.  This isn't the sort of subject in which that can be done, I think.  I stand by my post, and while your criticism is noted, and you are someone whose opinion I generally respect, mine has not changed.

Mor Ephrem said:
While I'm not entirely ignorant of the problems in the Coptic Church, I am certainly not an expert in them.  Nevertheless, claiming that the "Coptic Church in Germany Permits Dual Membership in Protestant Church" without even a "?" at the end is, IMO, a weighty and serious assertion to make based on the video in the OP.  In no way do I feel that such an opinion lessens the gravity of the more well-substantiated problems in the Coptic Church, but I need more information before I'm willing to add this German issue to that group.
See my response above.  In short, I stand by my post.  You think the subject line was unwarranted.  Regrettable even.  I don't.  I think it was perfectly justified.  You can't prove me wrong.  I can't prove you wrong.  It is what it is. 

Mor Ephrem said:
I don't know, I watched it and I'm not entirely sold on those conclusions. 
I am.  This is really becoming a Ping-Pong match.  There's no way to prove or disprove one another on these matters of opinion.  Like I said, I stand by what I've written and the conclusions I've reached.

Mor Ephrem said:
If a heterodox Christian comes to those conclusions based on a video most likely written and produced by other heterodox Christians, agnostics, and/or atheists who themselves don't seem to have a firm grasp on everything, how do you police such a thing without refusing journalists' requests for access or putting out the reports yourselves? 
Perhaps by not creating an environment which lends itself to such interpretations in the first place.

Mor Ephrem said:
I don't believe I am obfuscating. 
Another matter of opinion.

Mor Ephrem said:
As you went on to say after these words, I too am asking questions in an attempt to figure out what actually is going on here.  But I don't feel comfortable answering those questions for myself based on an analogy to other situations. 
Spoken like someone who doesn't live in the Coptic Church and who hasn't seen every nefarious attempt to subvert Orthodox praxis and ecclesiology written off as something innocuous by those who could do anything about it and hordes of delusional youth.

Mor Ephrem said:
Since I am happy (in a manner of speaking) to concede regarding the bizarre nature of what Schmidt-Riedling says, I will pass over that. 
Okay.

Mor Ephrem said:
As for Bp Damian inviting Catholics to share the grounds with the Orthodox, what do you see as problematic in that? 
I think you already know.  It is part and parcel of a general blurring of the lines between us and them and creating the false impression that we are members of one Church whose fully unity is sadly impaired.

Mor Ephrem said:
I don't know.  In the context of a penitential ritual in which people are seeking God's forgiveness for their sins, a priest saying something about God bringing together what is divided need not primarily be about ecumenism as opposed, say, to Ephesians 2.  What does a bishop do in such a situation (other than not be there in the first place)?  Walk out based on an assumption of ecumenism?
This is part of what is problematic about cohabitating with the heterodox.  It is like it is a joint institution.  Sayedna isn't just attending some special ecumenical event.  The video makes it clear that this is a regular occurrence.  Both the Catholic priest and the Coptic bishop are probably both publicly praying that "our unity be restored" like this all the time in one another's services.

Mor Ephrem said:
I wouldn't say it's "no big deal".  The situation considered as a whole is a big deal.  But I've limited myself to this video and claims made by it or made about it.  If, on the other hand, I have to talk about the bad aspects of ecumenism, this video is peanuts.  I can show you worse videos. 
I'll criticize what I deem to be bad ecumenism, bad ecclesiology, and bad praxis in the Oriental Orthodox Church wherever I find it and on whatever scale it presents itself.  There are too many people doing the opposite and lauding it like crazy.

Mor Ephrem said:
From descriptions on OCNet, it seems as if Coptic clergy don't inquire too deeply when people ask to do something.  Maybe that's a subject for another thread, but that informal attitude and the miscommunications that can arise from it ought to be addressed. 
True.  Many are like that.  Others are not.

Mor Ephrem said:
Has a clarification been demanded? 
Give me the contact info.  Google avails nothing, and its not in the usual directories (nihov.org, etc.)

Mor Ephrem said:
Look, Mor, in the absence of Stavro, someone has to be Stavro.  There are lots of us in the Coptic Church who have been demanding a resolution on the matters we're discussing here - in the broader sense - for 20 years or more, and what we've gotten in response has been a lot hedging and a lot of "Let Sayedna (or Abouna) handle it", and it hasn't been handled, except in H.E. Anba Serapion's Diocese, H.G. Anba Youssef's Diocese, and in Muqattam by H.G. Anba Abanoub.  In its twin, barely regulated North American epicenters  in (and the places it has spread to from there) and in other parts of the Diaspora, it remains unaddressed.  Is it frustrating?  You bet.  Is speaking out against it an unpleasant task that sometimes leaves one looking like a crank?  Absolutely.  Am I going to stop speaking against it though, or minimize it, or help to sweep it under the rug for it to never be dealt with?  No.  I love my Church too much for that.
I hear you.  I've had to be "that guy" at times, even directly to bishops, and I know something of the frustration of nothing or not enough getting done.  We're on the same team.  :) 
Okay.  :)
 

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As I said before I hold you will not be judged for not accepting Protestants unless you have hatred. Nevertheless I think you drive people away from salvation and I think therefore you will have less reward but you could still be saved because you do it unintentionally and unknowingly.
I must rebuke your actions since I do not know if you have hatred and even if you do not you could stop people from being saved if they do not listen to me or other priests who accept others .
Though that is very bad you will be excused because orthodox people are preferred because it is the truth
They have to choose to listen to me so they be saved and I teach they can be saved in their churches one day if they are not holding their churches heresies
Hopefully I can even be stronger than your affect
I do not appreciate your demonising me and people like me and hindering me from doing good
You can think I will have less reward we might have the same but I will consider it that one can have greater
 

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Not preferred as in having greater chance to be saved but preferred in terms of knowing one can be saved
 

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mikeforjesus said:
As I said before I hold you will not be judged for not accepting Protestants unless you have hatred.
What do you mean by "not accepting Protestants"?

mikeforjesus said:
Nevertheless I think you drive people away from salvation and I think therefore you will have less reward but you could still be saved because you do it unintentionally and unknowingly...Though that is very bad you will be excused because orthodox people are preferred because it is the truth
Who are you to judge what kind of reward I will or will not have or whether or not I will be saved?  Last time I checked, your name was "mikeforjesus" not plain old "Jesus".

mikeforjesus said:
I must rebuke your actions since I do not know if you have hatred and even if you do not you could stop people from being saved if they do not listen to me or other priests who accept others .
What do you mean by "accept"?

mikeforjesus said:
They have to choose to listen to me so they be saved
If they choose to listen to you, they can be saved?  Wow.

mikeforjesus said:
I teach they can be saved in their churches one day if they are not holding their churches heresies
You teach?  Who are you?

mikeforjesus said:
Hopefully I can even be stronger than your affect
It sounds like you already think you are.

mikeforjesus said:
I do not appreciate your demonising me and people like me and hindering me from doing good
What are you talking about?

mikeforjesus said:
You can think I will have less reward we might have the same but I will consider it that one can have greater
Who are you to determine who will get what reward in the world to come?

mikeforjesus said:
Not preferred as in having greater chance to be saved but preferred in terms of knowing one can be saved
What?
 

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Antonious Nikolas said:
mikeforjesus said:
Nevertheless I think you drive people away from salvation and I think therefore you will have less reward but you could still be saved because you do it unintentionally and unknowingly...Though that is very bad you will be excused because orthodox people are preferred because it is the truth
Who are you to judge what kind of reward I will or will not have or whether or not I will be saved?  Last time I checked, your name was "mikeforjesus" not plain old "Jesus
Yet you seem to teach as though you know who will be saved or not so you also think you represent Jesus
 

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mikeforjesus said:
Antonious Nikolas said:
mikeforjesus said:
Nevertheless I think you drive people away from salvation and I think therefore you will have less reward but you could still be saved because you do it unintentionally and unknowingly...Though that is very bad you will be excused because orthodox people are preferred because it is the truth
Who are you to judge what kind of reward I will or will not have or whether or not I will be saved?  Last time I checked, your name was "mikeforjesus" not plain old "Jesus
Yet you seem to teach as though you know who will be saved or not so you also think you represent Jesus
Mike, I have a simple question for you! Is the truth relative?
 

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Because you asked that question with a ! next to me I don't think you deserve a response.You are not looking to help me but to shame me. 
But it is quiet obvious that I do not think it is relative but you do not know how God judges those outside so can not make conclusions about them. He said you have to be baptised, confess to a priest, and have communion. Do that for yourself but don't tell others what to do. Jesus said to take the plank out of your eye so you can see clearly to remove the speck out of others eyes that is with reference to fellow church members but you are not permitted to judge those outside for Paul who spoke in absolutes said what have I to do with judging those outside. Only God is a perfect judge so you will always have a log inside so don't judge those outside. Jesus clearly throughout all the new testament taught with certainty people have to believe in Him but it is arguable about those who believe but do not join the church if they will ever be saved since who knows what He means by forgiven in the world to come. Pope Shenouda did not judge them. St Theophan the Recluse did not judge them
 

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The truth is absolute. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. He has mercy on those whom He chooses to have mercy. And I think He chooses to save people who noone cared about like He found the paralysed man and healed Him. He may have taught you need the sacraments but He can choose not to insist on them. He also said the wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it but you do not know where it comes from so is everyone who is born of the Spirit. So that is a witness He left. The changed life of believers or God being in their life. The truth is Jesus. No one but a few which is supposed to be all priests fully understand the whole bible. So I am not contradicting absoluteness. As long as God is a fair judge He can choose not to depend on the sacraments. What is fair? Those who do not desire the light and the truth God will not reveal it to them. He can manifest Himself to those who do and have a personal relationship with them without demanding they join the church  though believers in the church are good to fellowship with as many outside are fake. It is not therefore fitting to reject those who may have desired and wished to follow the truth if they can and Jesus assures them of their sonship. He may lead them to the church or He may not perhaps depending on the level of their spirituality or purpose
He can give the same reward to those who don't confess as those who do but we are not to presume if we are born orthodox we can neglect the sacraments
To him much is given to him more is required because we have no excuse not to be orthodox because no one in our family is not orthodox and also everyone should be orthodox if their family is not affected with good reason
 

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You are not required to preach something you are not certain of so I am in error to blame antonious but you have to desire to learn more supposing there is more to be learned which there may not be. My error is that I judged that he may not desire to learn more

mikeforjesus said:
No one but a few which is supposed to be all priests fully understand the whole bible.
I think this is wrong should not have said that
 

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mikeforjesus said:
Yet you seem to teach as though you know who will be saved or not so you also think you represent Jesus
No, I don't.  I don't have a heaven or a hell to put anyone in.  Please show me specifically where I ever postulated on who would be saved and who wouldn't.  Thank you.

mikeforjesus said:
You are not required to preach something you are not certain of so I am in error to blame antonious but you have to desire to learn more supposing there is more to be learned which there may not be. My error is that I judged that he may not desire to learn more

mikeforjesus said:
No one but a few which is supposed to be all priests fully understand the whole bible.
I think this is wrong should not have said that
Thanks for this, but I want you to understand that speaking the truth that we are not one Church with the Protestants is not the same thing as offering an opinion on whether or not they will be saved, what sort of reward they will or won't receive in Paradise, etc.  Please understand that, mike.  Thank you.  :)
 

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Please forgive me for judging. I misunderstood you 
 

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Antonious Nikolas said:
The program Faith Matters recently aired a report on the Coptic Orthodox Church in Germany.  In the documentary, a Protestant convert says:

Now my wife and I belong to the Coptic Church. We have been confirmed by the bishop, and I’ve been made a deacon. But we didn’t have to leave the Protestant church. It’s like having dual nationality. We belong to two denominations and that’s what I find so open and so welcoming about the Coptic Church.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdoGF4RFTYk&feature=youtu.be&t=352

Does saying that he was "confirmed" by H.G. Bishop Damian mean that he wasn't rebaptized, as the Coptic Church mandates?
Do all OO churches require rebaptism for those who underwent Trinitarian Anglican or Lutheran baptism?

I know that the third c. (pre-EO/OO Schism) Saint Pope Stephen said that rebaptism shouldn't be used for Trinitarian baptized Christians, and the EO churches today typically follow that rule.
 

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rakovsky said:
Do all OO churches require rebaptism for those who underwent Trinitarian Anglican or Lutheran baptism?
Only the African churches, so far as I am aware.

rakovsky said:
I know that the third c. (pre-EO/OO Schism) Saint Pope Stephen said that rebaptism shouldn't be used for Trinitarian baptized Christians, and the EO churches today typically follow that rule.
Take it up with our bishops if you think we are wrong.  I certainly won't be debating it here.
 
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