Founded in 1986, the International Institute for Christian Studies (IICS) not only establishes Christian studies in state universities, but also provides professors, research libraries, and curriculum for classes. While most missionaries target the general population, people like Dan Clendenin, who teaches Christian studies at Moscow State University, face more skeptical, intellectual minds. His students and colleagues are made up of the former Communist faithful. Recently IICS professors, staff, and advisers met in Kansas City, Missouri, to discuss accomplishments and goals. Journalist Alicia Chai spoke with Clendenin.
What are the main tensions between the Orthodox Church and Protestant churches that have entered the country?
There is the problem of cultural heritage. Few people realize that Russia has a thousand-year history of Christianity. In fact, the Russian Orthodox service is still conducted in ninth-century Slavonic. The Orthodox church has made it very clear that they are unhappy with the West sending people to Christianize what they feel is an already Christianized country.
What are the fundamental problems in Russian society?
Other than the religious ones, there are political and socio-economic problems. Ethnic hostilities are on the increase. There was a standard wisdom that after the fall of communism the old breed of Communist politician would be replaced with a new breed. However, time proved that the new breed, which was composed of right-wing national extremists, was worse than the former Communists. The economic problems are still terrible. There is also the problem of cults that are flourishing in all areas of the former Soviet Union. Mormons, Hare Krishna, Moonies—everything and anything—which causes confusion. ...1
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