Iakovos, the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America since 1959, has issued an interfaith marriage encyclical labeling Assemblies of God and Pentecostal adherents "not of the Christian tradition."
Iakovos, concerned that some clergy "perform marriages in an uncanonical fashion," warned Orthodox priests that marriage between an Orthodox and non-Orthodox cannot be recognized by the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" if one of the partners is non-Christian. In addition to the Assemblies of God and Pentecostalism, other religious groups singled out by Iakovos are Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Seventh-day Adventism.
Milton Efthimiou, ecumenical officer for the New York-based church, says letters of complaint have been received from Pentecostal leaders as well as some Greek Orthodox priests.
"A blanket statement that all Pentecostal and Assembly of God are not Christian was not right," says Efthimiou, who notes that four in five Greek Orthodox marry outside the faith. "We should have said some Assembly of God and Pentecostal groups would be in that category."
Efthimiou says some charismatic and holiness groups are cultic because of "incoherent theology" and "failure to baptize in the name of the Trinity."
He says Iakovos is preparing a second encyclical that will expound on the first. Other groups will be added to the exclusion list, he says, including branches of the Church of God and the Salvation Army.
The Greek Orthodox Church is the largest branch of Orthodoxy in the United States, with more than 2 million members.
George Wood, general secretary of the Springfield, Missouri-based ...1
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