Aceia dintre evanghelicii romani care s-au nascut inainte de 1960, cunosc, din experienta, penuria de Biblii si de literatura religioasa din acele decenii ale perioadei comuniste. Lucrurile aveau insa a se schimba radical, in contextul unor inundatii catastrofale care au avut loc in Romania in 1970. Continue reading “Literatura religioasa de colportaj in perioada comunista”
9. 1977 “Call for Truth” from Ton, Pavel Nicolescu and four others. Latter now emerged as leader and set up Romanian Christian Committee for the defence of Freedom of Religion and Conscience (ALCR). 24 demands. 27 signed, including one Orthodox. Ton did not – said would detract from pastoral work. Huge scandal in Caransebes – fully documented. 1979 Nicolescu emigrated.
10. Suppression of Eastern Rite – story of Cardinal Alexandru Todea. Interrogated by Securitate in 1979, he said, “You have no power to fight me. I risk nothing, because I have nothing to lose – not work, not money, not even my freedom. After 1989 began new life… Continue reading “Michael Bourdeaux – Keston College and Romania – Lecture notes – 3”
4. Keston began 1969 – Alan Scarfe to Bucharest seminary – got to know Baptists as well as Orthodox. On his return we became main spokesmen in West for them – at an exciting time. He began systematic reporting on all aspects of church and “neo-Protestant” life. For example, he told us about evangelical revival within the Orthodox Church. Fr Tudor Popescu in 1920s began a Bible-based revival, concentrating on a new translation. Eventually unfrocked for bringing “Protestant” influences into RomOC Iosif Trifa in 1930s instrumental in establishing Lord’s Army (Evangelical movement within Orthodox Church) in 1930s). No one had ever heard of “Oastea Domnului” – but we publicised the life and work of Trifa. He died in 1938, stripped of priesthood, but movement carried on – even strongly in communist period, despite official church’s efforts, backed by State, to extinguish it. Right to Believe 2/78: “The Army of the Lord Marches on” – story of Traian Dors (1914-89) – never lived to see religious liberty, but fearless ministry. Joined Lord’s Army at 16; movement outlawed 1947; seventeen years in prison, then house arrest from 1964. Unceasing writer of hymns – thousands. Deserves greater recognition.
5. The Baptists – Alan Scarfe’s most important contribution to work of Keston and to religious liberty. My personal involvement goes back to meeting Iosif Ton in Oxford in 1969, when he came to do a three-year course for the prestigious Oxford degree in theology. He sought me out to discuss book on Russian Baptists (Religious Ferment in Russia) published 1968 and which he had read. Tells the story – in academic detail – of schism between state-registered Baptists and “Initsiativniki” – those who opposed state interference in church affairs. Iosif told me situation similar in Romania, except no schism. Continue reading “Michael Bourdeaux – Keston College and Romania – Lecture notes – 2”
Here are a few pictures from the recent visit of Michael Bourdeau in Iasi, where he lectured on church in communism.
Dorin, Michael, Danut – mission accomplished Continue reading “Rev. Cannon Michael Bourdeaux’s Visit to Iasi, Romania”
1. 9th visit – June 1990 – just passing through – but already rich experience after 10 months of denuded shops in Moscow. Longer in 1977 – taking American tourists by bus on wonderful route from Bulgaria – Bucharest, Sinaia, Brasov, Cluj, Oradea and into Hungary.
2. Last two weeks of August 1978. Sadness in my life. Invite “to come on holiday with your children” via Fr Lucian Gafton (d.1996) from Patriarch Justin (elected 1977). Graciousness, universal kindness – but another side: “Let’s take a closer look at this man”. Convoy – Sinaia, Paltinis, Iasi, Suceavita, Black Sea. 3 cars in Moldavia! “Dorin” who couldn’t see watchtowers. Last night – answered desperate plea from Fr. Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa to visit him and wife. He knew his time at liberty was up. Arrested 10 March 1979. Part of what I wrote for The Guardian when he died in December 2006: Continue reading “Michael Bourdeaux – Keston College and Romania – Lecture notes – 1”
10. These events led directly to the fall of the Berlin Wall – and you know the rest of the story. I want to pause just for a moment to point out that the continuing power of the Christian faith was playing its part in other communist countries, too. For example, in Hungary the example of the imprisoned Cardinal Mindszenty was just as inspirational as Cardinal Wyszynski. In Germany Lutheran pastors provided a safe haven in several churches, especially Leipzig, where discussions on freedom – and not just religious freedom – could take place in an environment where the Stasi (secret police) did not dare – in later years – to interfere. Romania – well, that could be a whole lecture to itself – indeed, I plan to give just such a lecture tomorrow. There were heroes and martyrs in the Romanian Orthodox Church. Perhaps the best known was Fr Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa. Continue reading “Michael Bourdeaux – The Role of Religion in the Fall of Communism – 4”
7. The other Baltic States, Estonia, and Latvia, were less outspoken in their growing demands for freedom, but their inner determination proved just as effective in the end. In both countries the (Protestant) Lutheran Church played a role. Even Ukraine, which had seemed so sovietised in many ways, produced a strong movement for religious liberty – and eventually independence. Here the Soviet authorities in 1945 made a serious mistake in abolishing the Byzantine- or Eastern-rite Catholic Church or forcing the Orthodox Church to take it over (as happened also here in Romania). It maintained itself underground – or rather in the prisons to which its bishops and many of its priests had been condemned. But in the 1980s it came more and more out in the open and appealed to Rome to help its cause. Eventually, after huge public demonstrations on the streets in Lviv and elsewhere Gorbachev recognized that a grave injustice had been done. He visited Pope John Paul II in Rome and announced that the Ukrainian Catholic Church was legal again. It became a major factor in Ukraine’s move for independence from Moscow. Continue reading “Michael Bourdeaux – The Role of Religion in the Fall of Communism – 3”
4. In the 1970s examples of podvig were growing. The story of Alexander (Sasha) Ogorodnikov is one among very many. He was a bright young communist with a brilliant future. He was accepted into the Moscow Film Institute. There he studied the films of the Italian communist director, Pasolini, and he had access even to those which were banned in Russia. One was The Gospel According to St Matthew (a beautiful account of the life of Christ which I have seen). Sasha went into the private cinema a communist – and came out a believer. He called together his friends to see it, too – and they were all converted. They began to meet for regular discussions – for which Sasha was expelled from the institute. He could find work only as a night watchman in a hospital, but in his little room his friends gathered – the Christian Seminar was born. It spread to several other cities – a true youth movement. Occasionally priests helped them to guide their discussions and, very rarely, they acquired a Bible and other Christian literature. Of course, the groups were all broken up and the ring-leaders given prison sentences of up to ten years – but the “damage” was done – it was obvious that communism was no longer commanding the affection or even the loyalty of many in the younger generation. Sasha received appalling treatment in prison, but he would never renounce his faith in order to secure early release. Only when Gorbachev came to power was he freed. The movement for religious liberty among younger Orthodox believers was never, of course, going to topple the Soviet regime. Indeed, it never became political in the sense of trying to overthrow communism – but it did have an effect – the “leaven that leavens the whole lump” in Christ’s words in St Matthew’s Gospel. Even more powerful, though, were events affecting the Baptist Church and Catholics in Lithuania. Continue reading “Michael Bourdeaux – The Role of Religion in the Fall of Communism – 2”
Iasi: Public Lecture – 24 May 2012
1. When a small group of British “academic activists” established Keston College in 1969, our leader, Sir John Lawrence, coined a memorable phrase: “one day communism will collapse like a house of cards”. None of us ever forgot his words. 25 years later (1984) I was awarded the ”Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion”. In my acceptance speech I said of the Soviet Union, “I see an empire in the process of decay. The Red Army, not Marxism-Leninism, provides its cement… The subject peoples retain their individuality, they retain their hopes… Religion strikes the deepest chord of all in the hearts of people who will never accept Moscow along with enforced atheism.” But already there had been much movement since John Lawrence’s words – and the very next year Mikhail Gorbachev would become Soviet leader. Four years after that the Berlin Wall came down and communism did indeed collapse like a house of cards, with remarkably little bloodshed. Two years, almost to the day, after the death of Ceausescu, the Soviet Union was no more. Continue reading “Michael Bourdeaux – The Role of Religion in the Fall of Communism – 1”
Today in the early afternoon Rev Cannon Michael Bourdeaux, from Keston College, arrived in Iasi for a few days of lectures at the university, on the history of communism.
We have had the pleasure of having him as a guest at our table tonight, for a Romanian dinner.
Tomorrow morning at 10am we start work.
Since I am at it, let me tell you how I have met Rev Bourdeaux for the first time. Continue reading “Rev. Michael Bourdeaux Arrived in Iasi”
NOTA: Gasiti AICI inregistrarea unei emisiuni Digi24 TV din 21 mai, in care Dr. Dorin Dobrincu vorbeste despre prezenta la Iasi a Rev. Canon Michael Bourdeaux.
UPDATE: Michael Bourdeaux a sosit cu bine la Iasi si va prezenta miine diineata, 22 mai, la ora 10am, un curs in programul de masterat dedicat Istoriei comunismului romanesc din cadrul Facultatii de istorie a Universitatii AL. I. Cuza din Iasi.
Mikhail Khorev – Russian Baptist leader who suffered three decades of persecution to live in better times
May 16 1966 was a glorious day of spring sunshine in Moscow, with tourists from all over the Soviet Union milling about the central streets. On Old Square, outside the drab walls of the offices of the Central Committee of the USSR, there was a noticeable swelling of the crowd. This would soon be the first-ever organised demonstration in a communist country, with some 500 participants having assembled from one hundred and thirty towns and cities representing almost every republic of the Soviet Union.
One of the organisers of this unprecedented event was Mikhail Khorev, registered partially sighted and working full time as an itinerant preacher in the unregistered Baptist Church. The “Initsiativniki” Movement, as it became known, took its name from the “initiative” of its leaders from 1961 to establish free elections to the central Baptist leadership which, they believed, had compromised itself by accepting renewed state restrictions imposed by Nikita Khrushchev’s regime. He had inaugurated a period of more severe persecution, leading to the imprisonment of some 200 leaders of the ‘Reform Baptist’ movement, as it is sometimes called in English. Continue reading “Michael Bourdeaux – A Tribute to Mikhail Khorev”