Brothers:This is a very sobering article about what has happened to a good portion of "evangelical Baptist" churches in the country of Georgia. (Not as in Atlanta, USA, but as in the country.) Note the date of this article: July 2005. The biggest point is that God will not allow His Name to be mocked, and especially not by those who call themselves His people. A good part of the leaders with many people's "blessing" dragged the church away from the liberating pure and simple Gospel of the grace of God in Jesus Christ to the manmade rites and bondage of a heretical decoy called "orthodoxy". And that in an effort to be "relevant" to the culture. This could never happen to the You church? Well then, let us consider the "gurus" of "Christianity" who tell us we need to be "relevant" to our culture: emergent church, Saddleback / Willow Creek "church growth", Evangelicals and Catholics Together/ecumenism.... "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." (Heb. 10:36-9)
Vladimir Chayka wrote, "Sometimes we find situations where people offer us money but with strings attached: do things exactly as we tell you! Of course, we can never agree to such conditions, because we oppose false teaching, occultism, and modernism, which destroy the foundations of the church. In such situations I tell the brothers: we will not adapt some strange teaching, because we already have the Gospel teaching that has been proven over time, which brings its fruits and blessings to our and your land, let us hold onto it."
From a completely unexpected direction, the observation of this minister received confirmation. In "The International Christian Newspaper" in 2005, a minister among the Evangelical Christian Baptists of Georgia wrote with a heartfelt request that his letter be published in the newspaper.
Observant Christians noticed that in recent times in our world something strange is occurring in the Protestant churches. It is as if church leaders are competing with one another as to who can bring about the most novelties into the church. In connection with such activity one often hears the word "reform". This word has become very popular among pastors and ministers.
I want to give an account of one "reform" (if, of course, one in fact can describe it as a "reform"), which resulted in the division of the Baptist churches of Georgia. I am certain that similar processes are going on in other countries.
Everything started almost 8 years ago. During that time I worked in the Baptist Union of Georgia as its General Secretary. In 1997 I resigned that position of my own volition, as it was impossible to continue commuting 120 kilometers each way from my home to the city Tbilisi. They elected a new General Secretary, and the President of the Union, Malhaz Songulashvili, remained. He was also President during my tenure.
Soon after the elections, the president began to "reform" the Central Baptist Church of Tbilisi, which always had been an example for the other churches of Georgia. The substance of the implemented reform consisted of the following: the President grew a beard, dressed up in a "Catholic-like" (!) priestly robe, wore on his head a crown (something similar to the Roman Pope), and a staff appeared in the hands of the president...
At the corners of the church building they hung icons (frescoes), they also placed candles, and on the day of the Lord's Supper, they burned ... incense! For the ceremony of Communion, they admitted not only believers, but also all kinds of non-believers - that is to say, both those who are baptized into Christ and those who are not... In that year they also began to hold regularly scheduled "ecumenical" services, to which they invited Muslims and denominations - Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants. The services bore a characteristic of prayer - for the victims of September 11, for those who perished from the tsunamis, and others. These prayer sessions ended up with processions into the streets, which were broadcast (to the great irony and surprise) of the central television station of Georgia.
Also in 1997, when it all began, several of us ministers demanded from the leadership of the Baptist Union an explanation for all that was taking place. Their answer was so ridiculous as it was simple: "The Georgian people cannot accept the Protestant way of worshiping God, so therefore we need to become closer to the national culture and religion." We realized that this was nothing more than exaggeration or a pretense, but the complication was that around the president Malhaz already appeared a circle consisting of young ministers who also found such "reform" to their taste. This carried on for 3 to 4 years, during which time we begged, asked, prayed... It was all futile. When it became clear that we could no longer wait for results of our determined efforts, the leaders of 14 local churches proclaimed this "reform" to be apostasy and resolutely broke all ties with the Union.
In the last year, these 14 churches gave birth to a new Baptist church. Regarding the "reform", one could put an end to the story, but there is one more "but". This is the question: "Who was the one during this whole time that gave inspiration to this Georgian "reform"?"It was no other than the European Baptist Federation (EBF). Yes, do not be surprised, it was their ministers along with Karl Heinz Walter and Hilda Seyers, who leads the department of women's ministry in the Federation. Out of our naivete, we appealed to the leaders of the EBF with several letters. 2 years later, Karl Heinz Walter visited Georgia. He wanted to see the "reform" with his own eyes. They brought him to the Catholic-Lutheran-Orthodox service, at the end of which appeared a group of girls in panty hose and performed "Christian dances" (pantomime). Witnesses testified that Karl Heinz Walter could not hold back his feelings and gushed forth much praise on behalf of the young "reformer" Malhaz. The European guest was so struck by these reforms, that he did not even see it necessary to meet with us. He left us a mere note: "It would be good if you too were to adopt these reforms!"
In the year 2004, the president of the EBF visited Georgian for the second time. Other leaders of the Federation also escorted him. The praise after their acquaintance with the "reforms" came with even more delight.One other fact is interesting. About what was occurring in Georgia, as well as the role of the EBF in this process, I personally on numerous occasions informed my brothers in other Baptist Unions in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and other countries... Not one of them gave me any response. Naturally, everyone has their problems, they are many, and we understand that. We understand also that the EBF provides material aid to these Unions, finances many good projects, including the building of houses of prayer. But since when did material aid become more important than the purity of the Gospel teaching and steadfast stance against moral compromise? It is a secret to no one that the EBF, which 12 years ago called themselves the "European Baptist Family", became, in essence, a center of ecumenism. But maybe it was always that way, but just that we had not realized it?
Dear Brothers! You, of course, can continue to keep silent and put on the air that nothing serious is taking place in Georgia. But what will you do when these "reforms" with the "blessing" of the EBF and World Baptist Alliance will arrive at your churches?! They will come to you as "loving and authoritative" brothers from these organizations and say: "Everything that is taking place in your churches is good! Do not worry. It is making you more relevant to the national culture." Will it not then be too late?
May the Lord give us help!
Pastor Gruzhdaansk Church of Georgia
International Christian Newspaper, July 2005