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Why is Orthodoxy a declining denomination?

andrewlya

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Hi, why is Orthodox Christianity a declining denomination? As fat as I know (being a former OC) they don't believe in active evangelism i.e. going on street or other countries to preach the Word. Do you think this could be the reason for not growing? "Orthodoxism Is Declining in the Overall Christian Population | Best Countries | US News"
 

hurrrah

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Orthodoxy has been buried for two thousand years, and still it not buried...
 
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Hi, why is Orthodox Christianity a declining denomination? As fat as I know (being a former OC) they don't believe in active evangelism i.e. going on street or other countries to preach the Word. Do you think this could be the reason for not growing? "Orthodoxism Is Declining in the Overall Christian Population | Best Countries | US News"
Myguess would be low birth rates also.
 

andrewlya

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The research shows that Pentecostal denomination is the fastest growing Christian denomination in the world,JWs and Mormanism, Hebrew Roots are some of the fastest growing in the USA/world. I suppose if you don't preach the Word and do not evangelise then this is bound to happen.If you visit an Orthodox Church on a typical Sunday you would mainly see old grand mothers in attendance, very few young people. I think protestants do more to encourage young people to attend churches and grow the number of believers.
 

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Matthew 7:13-14
 

Ainnir

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The research shows that Pentecostal denomination is the fastest growing Christian denomination in the world,JWs and Mormanism, Hebrew Roots are some of the fastest growing in the USA/world. I suppose if you don't preach the Word and do not evangelise then this is bound to happen.If you visit an Orthodox Church on a typical Sunday you would mainly see old grand mothers in attendance, very few young people. I think protestants do more to encourage young people to attend churches and grow the number of believers.
Then you haven’t been to my parish. 😊
 

JTLoganville

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We are Christianity's best-kept secret....and that is a problem.

We rely too much on the phrase "Come and see" as web site banner and too little on the power of simply inviting friends and neighbors.
 

Arachne

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The research shows that Pentecostal denomination is the fastest growing Christian denomination in the world,JWs and Mormanism, Hebrew Roots are some of the fastest growing in the USA/world. I suppose if you don't preach the Word and do not evangelise then this is bound to happen.If you visit an Orthodox Church on a typical Sunday you would mainly see old grand mothers in attendance, very few young people. I think protestants do more to encourage young people to attend churches and grow the number of believers.
Pentecostal, and generally Evangelical, sects crash and burn all the time. People hop here and there, as likely to settle somewhere as nowhere. If you're looking for a high, you'll move on once the high wears off. How many of those young people encouraged by Protestants will swear off church altogether a few years down the line and go to therapy to deal with their abuse issues?

Orthodoxy doesn't advertise, but somehow people keep finding it. I've lost count of how many members have signed up here or joined FB groups I'm on, saying they feel called but there's no Orthodox church for 200 miles around, or even in their entire country.
 

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Here is a good source for facts and stats. The data is old, but gives one a general idea on the state of Orthodoxy and Christianity.
https://stewardshipcalling.com/stats-and-facts/
Except for Mormons, Jehovah's, 7th Day Adventists, and Assemblies of God all denominations are declining.

My gut feeling as to why we aren't growing are several:
1. We are losing the youth by not defending the faith against the secular world. Our beliefs are under constant attack and if leaders continue to give in (e.g. evolution vs. creationism, Gen 1 -11) and keep putting God aside then the youth will question everything and walk away.
2. Many Orthodox churches are more concerned with building grand churches instead of the spirituality of her people.
3. Youth programs are focused on non-spiritual things: dancing, basketball, meetups.
4. Youth sporting events are on Sundays.
5. Parents are not setting good examples by not making Christ the center of their home. Once they leave Divine Liturgy, it's back to "normal" for the next six days. Absent of reading scriptures, teaching the importance of prayer, fasting, alms giving.

Our church was growing prior to the pandemic. Once restrictions were lifted we have seen our numbers grow steadily. Our growth is from converts who are dissatisfied with the other denominations.
 

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The research shows that Pentecostal denomination is the fastest growing Christian denomination in the world,JWs and Mormanism, Hebrew Roots are some of the fastest growing in the USA/world. I suppose if you don't preach the Word and do not evangelise then this is bound to happen.If you visit an Orthodox Church on a typical Sunday you would mainly see old grand mothers in attendance, very few young people. I think protestants do more to encourage young people to attend churches and grow the number of believers.
Pentecostalism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormonism aren’t even Christian, so it’s apples to oranges there.
 

andrewlya

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Here is a good source for facts and stats. The data is old, but gives one a general idea on the state of Orthodoxy and Christianity.
https://stewardshipcalling.com/stats-and-facts/
Except for Mormons, Jehovah's, 7th Day Adventists, and Assemblies of God all denominations are declining.

My gut feeling as to why we aren't growing are several:
1. We are losing the youth by not defending the faith against the secular world. Our beliefs are under constant attack and if leaders continue to give in (e.g. evolution vs. creationism, Gen 1 -11) and keep putting God aside then the youth will question everything and walk away.
2. Many Orthodox churches are more concerned with building grand churches instead of the spirituality of her people.
3. Youth programs are focused on non-spiritual things: dancing, basketball, meetups.
4. Youth sporting events are on Sundays.
5. Parents are not setting good examples by not making Christ the center of their home. Once they leave Divine Liturgy, it's back to "normal" for the next six days. Absent of reading scriptures, teaching the importance of prayer, fasting, alms giving.

Our church was growing prior to the pandemic. Once restrictions were lifted we have seen our numbers grow steadily. Our growth is from converts who are dissatisfied with the other denominations.
I absolutely agree with ever point. You have pretty much summed up why Orthodxy is declining. The biggest point for me would be that too much focus is placed on rituals and services and very little on the teaching the Word of God, sermons on how a Christian should live his or her life is almost absent from Orthodox services. Sunday spiritual service for a couple of hours and then go back to secular activities on the same Sunday. Bible reading is not even encouraged,is it. That's the biggest issue.
 

andrewlya

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Pentecostalism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormonism aren’t even Christian, so it’s apples to oranges there.
Well, they are Christians if they believe in Christ? That's an odd point to make. You mean they are not Orthodox.
 

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The research shows that Pentecostal denomination is the fastest growing Christian denomination in the world,JWs and Mormanism, Hebrew Roots are some of the fastest growing in the USA/world. I suppose if you don't preach the Word and do not evangelise then this is bound to happen.If you visit an Orthodox Church on a typical Sunday you would mainly see old grand mothers in attendance, very few young people. I think protestants do more to encourage young people to attend churches and grow the number of believers.
Cults do the same, so effective evangelism alone is not a sign that a sect should be followed. We live in a hedonistic world; feel-good religion, which is what Pentecostalism and most Protestant sects peddle, sells in that kind of environment.
 

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We are Christianity's best-kept secret....and that is a problem.

We rely too much on the phrase "Come and see" as web site banner and too little on the power of simply inviting friends and neighbors.
2nd best. Eastern Catholicism is even more of a secret.
 

Christos3

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I absolutely agree with ever point. You have pretty much summed up why Orthodxy is declining. The biggest point for me would be that too much focus is placed on rituals and services and very little on the teaching the Word of God, sermons on how a Christian should live his or her life is almost absent from Orthodox services. Sunday spiritual service for a couple of hours and then go back to secular activities on the same Sunday. Bible reading is not even encouraged,is it. That's the biggest issue.
I believe the rituals and services are very important and that is one of the many reasons why people convert to Orthodoxy. It depends on the priest regarding sermons. Our priest does a wonderful job in relating scriptures or lives of Saints to how we should navigate this world. I agree that daily scripture reading and prayers should be encouraged. The decline in most denominations is a symptom of the fallen world we are in, and only the one's who truly believe are make it to church on Sundays. And who knows, maybe God is in the process of separating the wheat from the tares.
 

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I absolutely agree with ever point. You have pretty much summed up why Orthodxy is declining. The biggest point for me would be that too much focus is placed on rituals and services and very little on the teaching the Word of God, sermons on how a Christian should live his or her life is almost absent from Orthodox services. Sunday spiritual service for a couple of hours and then go back to secular activities on the same Sunday. Bible reading is not even encouraged,is it. That's the biggest issue.


Have you been to services at various parishes?

or is this just what you have decided is true based on things online and a USA today report?

You linked website leads to a ministry...so are you here to discuss and gain knowledge? or just prove to us that we need to leave as well?

serious questions by the way
 

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I absolutely agree with ever point. You have pretty much summed up why Orthodxy is declining. The biggest point for me would be that too much focus is placed on rituals and services and very little on the teaching the Word of God, sermons on how a Christian should live his or her life is almost absent from Orthodox services. Sunday spiritual service for a couple of hours and then go back to secular activities on the same Sunday. Bible reading is not even encouraged,is it. That's the biggest issue.
You don't seem to have visited many Orthodox churches if you think that is common.

The word of God is taught, both in the sermons you haven't seemed to witness, and through the rituals and services themselves you discount. Go to Vespers or Orthros. It's pretty much non-stop chanting and praying from Scripture. If Bible reading isn't encouraged privately, it's to avoid the same kind of misinterpretations, which lead to heresy, that every single Protestant denomination has fallen into. The Bible is preached and prayed during every service, and many parishes have Bible studies for people to read it together in the light in which it was written, not some individual's personal interpretation that rarely is fully informed on the historical and cultural context it was written in, or how it was understood by those first Christians to receive it.
 

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Have you been to services at various parishes?

or is this just what you have decided is true based on things online and a USA today report?

You linked website leads to a ministry...so are you here to discuss and gain knowledge? or just prove to us that we need to leave as well?

serious questions by the way
Yes, I used to attend Russian Orthodox Church and then served at the alter for many years of the Greek Orthodox Church. There was not much focus on preaching the Word, it was mainly about rituals and singing. But not much preaching. I've learned a lot since I had started to read the Bible..I wish Orthodox taught the Word as much as they focus on rituals and services. People need to learn how to live their lives according to the Bible.
 

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Well, they are Christians if they believe in Christ? That's an odd point to make. You mean they are not Orthodox.
No, they have to believe in the True Christ. Some "Christians" such as Oneness Pentecostals, don't believe in the Trinity. They believe that Jesus is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Their Christ is a false God. JW's don't believe that Christ is God. They don't believe in the true Christ either, and so aren't even Christians.

If anyone has an erroneous belief about Christ, particular if it is serious enough that it alters the understanding of who Christ is, then they can't be properly said to be Christians. They are something else.
 

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Yes, I used to attend Russian Orthodox Church and then served at the alter for many years of the Greek Orthodox Church. There was not much focus on preaching the Word, it was mainly about rituals and singing. But not much preaching. I've learned a lot since I had started to read the Bible..I wish Orthodox taught the Word as much as they focus on rituals and services. People need to learn how to live their lives according to the Bible.
People need to do more than just the bible..... and like Melkite says above, the entire service is scripture... in all honesty even IF one just followed what was in the Liturgy one would be well on the way to following how Christ said to live and interact with others.

If you listen and are fortunate to be listening in a language you understand, the Liturgy is not just about ritual, its about scripture and what we need to do in life. But as with all things, if you are there just waiting for it to be over and not hearing and truly focused on the words, then it could be thought of as not biblical at all.

and so many parishes have Bible study groups these days....
 

sestir

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Looking around a bit on the Internet it seems the Jehovah's Witnesses no longer increase but decline. Wikipedia gives a "growth" of -0.6% for year 2019. They are almost the exact opposite of what they were in the beginning of the 20th century, so it should surprise nobody.
 

augustin717

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Because Eastern Europeans have some of thé lowest birth rates out there, if not the lowest. Certainly lower than WE .
 

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People need to do more than just the bible..... and like Melkite says above, the entire service is scripture... in all honesty even IF one just followed what was in the Liturgy one would be well on the way to following how Christ said to live and interact with others.

If you listen and are fortunate to be listening in a language you understand, the Liturgy is not just about ritual, its about scripture and what we need to do in life. But as with all things, if you are there just waiting for it to be over and not hearing and truly focused on the words, then it could be thought of as not biblical at all.

and so many parishes have Bible study groups these days....
Yes. The Liturgical calendar takes a person through the bible every year.
 

biro

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We have Scripture readings throughout the service, and the priest pauses in the middle to give a teaching on them. That’s called a homily. Then on with the rest of the liturgy.

If your idea of a service is two hours of someone else’s opinion, that is a class, not a liturgy.

Liturgy means that the people have to join in.
 

LizaSymonenko

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I absolutely agree with ever point. You have pretty much summed up why Orthodxy is declining. The biggest point for me would be that too much focus is placed on rituals and services and very little on the teaching the Word of God, sermons on how a Christian should live his or her life is almost absent from Orthodox services. Sunday spiritual service for a couple of hours and then go back to secular activities on the same Sunday. Bible reading is not even encouraged,is it. That's the biggest issue.
You must not be aware of the "daily readings" prescribed by the Church. We are to read the Bible daily. So, I don't know why you would ever say that Bible reading is not encouraged... when it is not only encouraged, and recommended.... but, is part of the daily life of every Orthodox Christian.

You also should listen to a few of the sermons I have heard... by my parish priest... and especially by my bishops. They certainly do advise us on how to live a good Christian life... and that it extends beyond the four walls of the church building.

Well, they are Christians if they believe in Christ? That's an odd point to make. You mean they are not Orthodox.
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21–23).
 

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Well, they are Christians if they believe in Christ? That's an odd point to make. You mean they are not Orthodox.
No, I mean they are not Christian. One hundred years ago, none of those groups were recognized as having anything to do with Christianity. Mormons are true polytheists, Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, and Pentecostals revive many of the old heresies of the Montanists. They faithlessly deny, for example, that baptism is anything more than being rinsed with water, a mere external sign of faith, and divide baptism from the reception of the Holy Spirit. They are not like heterodox Christian groups like the Lutherans, for example, who though having erred significantly, have faith in the Holy Trinity and in the regenerative power of baptism.
 

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Here is a good source for facts and stats. The data is old, but gives one a general idea on the state of Orthodoxy and Christianity.
https://stewardshipcalling.com/stats-and-facts/
Except for Mormons, Jehovah's, 7th Day Adventists, and Assemblies of God all denominations are declining.

My gut feeling as to why we aren't growing are several:
1. We are losing the youth by not defending the faith against the secular world. Our beliefs are under constant attack and if leaders continue to give in (e.g. evolution vs. creationism, Gen 1 -11) and keep putting God aside then the youth will question everything and walk away.
2. Many Orthodox churches are more concerned with building grand churches instead of the spirituality of her people.
3. Youth programs are focused on non-spiritual things: dancing, basketball, meetups.
4. Youth sporting events are on Sundays.
5. Parents are not setting good examples by not making Christ the center of their home. Once they leave Divine Liturgy, it's back to "normal" for the next six days. Absent of reading scriptures, teaching the importance of prayer, fasting, alms giving.

Our church was growing prior to the pandemic. Once restrictions were lifted we have seen our numbers grow steadily. Our growth is from converts who are dissatisfied with the other denominations.
Agreed, and to build on what you said, but maybe just as well to regurgitate it...

1. Orthodoxy in Orthodox lands is happy to rest on its laurels. The church is too comfortable to coast as a cultural institution at home, and doesn't bother evangelizing or doing anywhere near enough missionary work at home and abroad. I know there are some initiatives in Africa, south Asia, and the Caribbean, primarily being led by the Russians, but it's miniscule. Evangelicals, Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses have filled that vacuum quite effectively until now.

2. Orthodoxy in non-Orthodox lands similarly doesn't bother evangelizing. The ethnic jurisdictions are wrapped up in their own communities, language and all. Even if seekers discover Orthodoxy on their own, how many are put off by showing up in a church with a service and community speaking different languages, oftentimes side-eyeing unfamiliar faces and reacting with hostility or incredulity as to why you're there? And then the emphasis on culture over religion leaves the congregations ossified and elderly, so the children and grandchildren drift away and are absorbed by the secular milieu. As someone else here said, Orthodox is a "best kept secret".

3. It's not so much a uniquely Orthodox problem, as it's also a well-known issue throughout the heterodox as well, but people treat Christianity as something you do for an hour or so on Sundays, while the rest of the week they're living in the world. Secular society doesn't make it easy to be a practicing Christian outside of church, and people feel peer-pressured to fall into line on secular consensus social values (on issues of gender and sexuality, abortions, morality writ large, etc.) because their friends, employers, and such make them feel forced (and indeed they are), but living the faith was never meant to be easy. Examples need to be set in this day and age.
 

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Hi, why is Orthodox Christianity a declining denomination? As fat as I know (being a former OC) they don't believe in active evangelism i.e. going on street or other countries to preach the Word. Do you think this could be the reason for not growing? "Orthodoxism Is Declining in the Overall Christian Population | Best Countries | US News"
At some point, Gnosticism was the fastest growing sect of Christianity. At various points in history, so were Arianism, Marcionism, Montantism and many others. Fastest growing is completely irrelevant to truth. That being said, the fact that countries with high Orthodox populations tend to be the same countries with very low birth rates. I would probably attribute this to most of them being former Soviet bloc countries which tended to do quite a number on family life, but I'm sure there are other theories as well. Certainly there is nothing in Orthodox theology that discourages having children.

Yes, I used to attend Russian Orthodox Church and then served at the alter for many years of the Greek Orthodox Church. There was not much focus on preaching the Word, it was mainly about rituals and singing. But not much preaching. I've learned a lot since I had started to read the Bible..I wish Orthodox taught the Word as much as they focus on rituals and services. People need to learn how to live their lives according to the Bible.
If you weren't studying Scripture, that's on you. The Church has daily readings it encourages people to read. It also has tons of services which are essentially reciting passages from the Bible. Your complaint sounds like a baby that throws all his food off his high chair and then cries that he doesn't have any more food on his tray.
 

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Yes, I used to attend Russian Orthodox Church and then served at the alter for many years of the Greek Orthodox Church. There was not much focus on preaching the Word, it was mainly about rituals and singing. But not much preaching. I've learned a lot since I had started to read the Bible..I wish Orthodox taught the Word as much as they focus on rituals and services. People need to learn how to live their lives according to the Bible.
Tell us you learned nothing from those years without telling us you learned nothing from those years. :rolleyes:
 

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Tell us you learned nothing from those years without telling us you learned nothing from those years. :rolleyes:
That wouldn’t ´make him unique, as most Orthodox people in my experience know little to nothing about the church , in the way we on this forum know . Orthodoxy being a liturgical and ethnic church, or , since the 19th ce or so, even a folklore repository, it’s simply not encouraging the type of Bible knowledge people that leave it claim to find elsewhere. In Romania there is this pietistic Orthodox movement, a century old now, called “The Lord’s Army”: they’ve been persecuted by the hierarchy until 1990, but most didn’t want to formally leave the Church. They are the only Orthodox that I know of that were as knowledgeable about the Bible as the evangelical sects, but that’s in spite of the Orthodox ethos, not because of it. They were heavily influenced by western pietism.
 

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I grew up in several GOA parishes and everything seemed to be centered around the festival and building funds. My biggest hurdle as a third generation Greek, was not understanding the Greek language. So as a kid where services where 80% in Greek I didn't get anything out of it. But as years went by and English more prevalent, it began to stick. But, even at 40% Greek, services can be tough. Fortunately, several years ago we found an OCA parish (100% English) and all services have been a joy and have learned so much more.
 

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That wouldn’t ´make him unique, as most Orthodox people in my experience know little to nothing about the church , in the way we on this forum know . Orthodoxy being a liturgical and ethnic church, or , since the 19th ce or so, even a folklore repository, it’s simply not encouraging the type of Bible knowledge people that leave it claim to find elsewhere. In Romania there is this pietistic Orthodox movement, a century old now, called “The Lord’s Army”: they’ve been persecuted by the hierarchy until 1990, but most didn’t want to formally leave the Church. They are the only Orthodox that I know of that were as knowledgeable about the Bible as the evangelical sects, but that’s in spite of the Orthodox ethos, not because of it. They were heavily influenced by western pietism.
Most Orthodox people don't go around talking about how they spent years serving in the altar but failed to notice the daily Gospel and epistle readings, or that the 'singing' goes through the complete book of Psalms twice a year. Too many smoke breaks?

The type of Bible knowledge that people claim to find elsewhere usually falls into (a) memorising proof texts so they can 'gotcha!' the heretics from the other church down the block, or (b) too much emphasis on the OT and/or Revelation. Neither is particularly impressive. There are exceptions, but they are just that.
 

Tzimis

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I grew up in several GOA parishes and everything seemed to be centered around the festival and building funds. My biggest hurdle as a third generation Greek, was not understanding the Greek language. So as a kid where services where 80% in Greek I didn't get anything out of it. But as years went by and English more prevalent, it began to stick. But, even at 40% Greek, services can be tough. Fortunately, several years ago we found an OCA parish (100% English) and all services have been a joy and have learned so much more.
Its a shame. So many people are bilingual today. It has to do with numbers unfortunately. When I go to the DMV, I swear im in a different country.
My wife who wants to go vacation because of lockdowns. i tell here to go renew her license.
 

augustin717

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I didn’t say it’s impressive, not to us at least, but those that join those denominations must find it impressive.
perhaps it’s not as popular in Greece, but among Romanians there is an association of sorts of a few tens of former priests and monks, that go around saying just that: I was a priest for 20, 40 years and knew nothing about the Bible.
 

Tzimis

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I didn’t say it’s impressive, not to us at least, but those that join those denominations must find it impressive.
perhaps it’s not as popular in Greece, but among Romanians there is an association of sorts of a few tens of former priests and monks, that go around saying just that: I was a priest for 20, 40 years and knew nothing about the Bible.
Nobody enters AA unless they figured out that there is a problem.
Most people are to busy with portraying a perfect life on social media.
 

Arachne

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perhaps it’s not as popular in Greece, but among Romanians there is an association of sorts of a few tens of former priests and monks, that go around saying just that: I was a priest for 20, 40 years and knew nothing about the Bible.
LOL, priests in Greece have very close ties to the education system. A lot, though not as many as they used to be, teach religion in secondary schools. (It usually doesn't even cross the average Westerner's mind that this is a thing, but yes, we all get 2-3 hours a week of Orthodox-focused religious education throughout our school years. The liturgics and Gospel selections in year 6 were by far my favourite.) Further back, a lot of priests trained and worked as schoolteachers too; not the romanticised idea of the secret school of Ottoman times, but openly, in one-room rural schools. The academy at the Vella monastery, in my neck of the woods, operated until 1989, before becoming a regular tertiary theology college. The illiterate priest is very much a staple of popular culture, but it's far more often a source of wisdom beyond books than comic relief.
 

augustin717

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LOL, priests in Greece have very close ties to the education system. A lot, though not as many as they used to be, teach religion in secondary schools. (It usually doesn't even cross the average Westerner's mind that this is a thing, but yes, we all get 2-3 hours a week of Orthodox-focused religious education throughout our school years. The liturgics and Gospel selections in year 6 were by far my favourite.) Further back, a lot of priests trained and worked as schoolteachers too; not the romanticised idea of the secret school of Ottoman times, but openly, in one-room rural schools. The academy at the Vella monastery, in my neck of the woods, operated until 1989, before becoming a regular tertiary theology college. The illiterate priest is very much a staple of popular culture, but it's far more often a source of wisdom beyond books than comic relief.
I had religion (orthodoxy) classes in school and they were taught, at first, by the parish priest, then by a religion teacher. It’s not that they were uneducated, but, unless you had some personal interest in the thing, the classes themselves were treated as a joke by virtually everyone, no less those supposed to teach them . The priest was somewhat more serious I admit , but majority of pupils still didn’t even learn the creed by heart. I was writing papers for almost half of the class because there were two, at most three of us, somewhat interested and conversant with the subject.
 
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