We Need an Honest Talk
Itinerant preacher Yuri Sipko stays on course
M o s c o w – On 14 and 15 October 2011, Yuri Sipko, the colourful president of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB) from 2002 to March 2010, held two sermons at a large local congregation in the Far Eastern city of Blagoveshchensk belonging to the Charismatic New Generation movement. Although a few RUECB-pastors do speak in Charismatic or Pentecostal churches on occasion, it was precisely this instance which caused a strong negative reaction. (We reported on this on 14 December.) More than a few observers labelled these two appearances a mistake. In a follow-up interview in Dallas’ Russian-language “Slavic Voice” news service on 19 December, the unrepentant Ex-President conceded that reactions had been “mixed”. Yet other reactions were very positive and “strengthened me in my conviction that we need a serious and honest spiritual talk”.
Despite his lectures in the Far East, Sipko assured that the condemnations expressed in the Baptist film “Kharismatiya” of 2005 are still in force. He was referring thereby to phenomena such as the “Toronto Blessing”, holy laughter and the Prosperity Gospel. But he stressed that the simple church member dare not be blamed for all of the extremist teachings propagated by the Riga-based “New Generation”. A “condemnation of teaching and practice” should not lead to a condemnation of people.
Regarding the complaint that he had addressed Charismatics as „brothers“, Sipko responded that he also addresses unbelieving listeners in prisons and concert halls as „brothers and sisters“. This is a part of his own personal style. He also noted that in the sermon of Peter at Pentecost he had addressed some of those responsible for the death of Christ a few weeks earlier as “men and brethren” (Acts 2,29 and 3,15). Sipko mourned the fact that “some Baptists do not regard other Baptists as brothers. You know whom I mean. They see the rejection of others as a sign of their own godliness.”
He continued: „We cause damage when we claim to love the sinner, but not his sin. But we honestly do not love those who think differently than we do. We hate those who do not act as we do. We are not attempting to return them to the proper path. We instead are crushing and destroying them.” Christ’s Great Commission calls on us to “go forth and teach all nations”. Yet we have modified this to read: „Take a seat and condemn others.“ In this follow-up interview the Ex-President assured: “I do not want to be a Pharisee.”
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Moscow, 22 January 2012
A release of the Russian Evangelical Alliance. It is informational in character and does not express a sole, official position of Alliance leadership. Release #12-01, 411 words, 2.464 keystrokes and spaces.