by George Mikhail
Is it ok to pray with the heterodox? One person's answer was, "No, but they can pray with us." ...and I agree 100%.
As Fr. George Dragas from Holy Cross Orthodox Seminary stated when speaking before His Grace Bishop Serapion and the priests and laity of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, we do not know what these people really believe in and we don't know if they are even truly Christian.
If we both claim to know person x, but I describe him as having blue eyes while you describe him as having green eyes, then it's clearly not the same person.
Just because they believe in Christ doesn't mean they see Christ as we do, and therefore, their Christ may not be our Christ. Muslims believe in Jesus as a prophet. They obviously don't understand the Divinity of Christ and reject the idea. When I was in elementary school, I heard a misinformed Orthodox priest say that "Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in the same God." Being young and not knowing any better, I believed this concept for years. Muslims describe their god (with a lower g on purpose) as a god of vengeance, destruction, and hate. That is definitely not the God of the Christians (the TRUE God). And the Lord Jesus Christ that some protestants pray to may not be the same Lord Jesus Christ that we pray to.
Therefore, to pray with protestants is to perhaps participate in praying to one lesser than God, for the protestants undermine the hypostatic nature of Christ by denying the Apostolic Church and the Mysteries & Sacraments established by Christ Himself.
Only a foolish man would walk away from the Truth to live in falsehood.
I cringe when I hear of Orthodox youth adopting practices and traditions from the heretics. They are ignorant and too lazy for Orthodoxy (too lazy to learn the hymns, the theology, the dogma, the canons, the doctrine, the tradition; too lazy to participate in the mysteries, sacraments and fasts). And for this reason, many turn to praying with the heterodox. In the Coptic Church, I don't know of any youth that know the midnight praise or the hymns of the church and yet prefer protestant songs. It's always the ones who don't have any sense of this stuff. Bringing heterodoxical songs into our church and using their language when contemplating on scripture is the same as praying with them. You don't have to be in a protestant church or with protestant people to pray with the protestants. The liberal Orthodox parishes fail to examine this from a broader perspective. They just want to hold hands and say Jesus loves them. And so their youth grow up suffering and deprived of the true beauty of Orthodoxy (deprived of learning the theology, deprived of learning the hymns, deprived of practicing the tradition).
The Grace of God will push the pure in heart to the Orthodox church as it pushed and converted Cornelius, who was then Baptized (Acts 10). There is no TRUE relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ without being baptized by water and spirit (John 3:5). But the Grace of God is only to push. The person must then take the initiative and seek the Truth, as did Cornelius. Or in the case of Orthodox youth in liberal parishes: seek another parish-church.