NOTE: American Baptist correspondent William Yoder continues to manifest in his newsletters a definite pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian position, concerning the Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine. He should know better.
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M o s c o w – The Mennonite Harley Wagler, a US-American who has spent the last 21 years in Nizhny Novgorod/Russia, describes the difference between Ukrainian and Russian Baptists as a theological one. He writes: “Many Russian evangelicals are now being pilloried by the Ukrainian ones, who say they are ‘stooges’ of Putin. But the difference is theological. The Russians, generally speaking, say the church should honour the government, even if it is imperfect, since the church represents another kingdom. Even in the worst Stalin years, Baptist leaders never directly criticized the government, simply asserting that they followed a higher calling. One should recall the Baptist Alyosha in Solzhenitsyn’s ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’. That remains the Baptist position.”
“In Ukraine however, many evangelicals have taken the opposite position. They now say they must support the new government, that this is their patriotic duty. Even the president of Ukraine, for several months, was a Baptist lay minister (Oleksandr Turchynov). He has gained notoriety as the ‘bloody pastor’ because of his thundering and militaristic, anti-Russian pronouncements. Which position is closer to the Biblical one?”
This Russian assessment of Turchynov is harsh, and the Russian Baptist Union did briefly stick its head above the trenches and into politics when its statement from 30 May 2014 questioned the theological justification for support of the Maidan revolt. (See our article from 24 July.) Continue reading “William Yoder – The Protestants of Ukraine and Russia Have A Spiritual Problem”