Fr. PhD GABRIEL SORESCU, Orthodox Church and Religious Movements, 2020

Publishing House Mitropolia Olteniei, Craiova, 2020, ISBN 978-606-731-071-9

            The book “The Orthodox church and the regious movements” comes as a response to the changes that appeared on a religious plan in the romanian society. The author exposed here concisely the history of the heterodox movement helping the reader understand the phenomenon, including it in the logical course of events. The author presents, on one side, a personal approach on the relationship between the Orthodox Church and the religious movements, that from the perspective of mission and prozelitism. On the other side, the author shows that, the representatives of some of the new religious movements, starting from the wrongful way of viewing out country as terra deserta, refer to the romanian orthodox through a false mission – in reality it being an incisive, abusive, disrespectful prozelitism – and apply different ways to convert the romanian orthodox people to new cults and religious groups.

            The pressent work is divided in Introduction, four chapters and conclusions. In the introduction, the author presents the actuality and necessity of approaching this subject in the european integration context and the opening of Romania’s borders, which led to a massive influx of missionaries and preachers of other concepts and faiths. In chapter I, the Orthodox Church’s mission is addressed from a historical perspective, highlighting the mission’s steps and important factors, and analizing the theological implications of the Orthodox Church’s mission. The conclusion is that the Orthodox Church, from our Saviour Jesus Christ until today, has been working and is continuing to work missionary as a continuity of the Divine Mission, correctly dogmatically grounded, applied in a noble way and respectful of one’s freedom.

            The second chapter offers an overview over the prozelistist phenomenon. The historical incursion reveals the highlights of this negative phenomenon, easy to identify in the activity of some of today’s preachers of the new faith. The reader will be surprised to also find here a display of the factors of vulnerability towards heterodox prozelitism.

            The third chapter presents an analysis of the main religious groups, christian and non christian, older or newer, who are active from a prozelitist point of view in our country. There are presented 22 heterodox groups belonging to old and new religious movements, in which the author analizes, together with historical landmarks refering to their emergence, aspects like: their arrival in the romanian space, evolution in the number of members, specific methods of prozelitism, the existence and types of official relationships with the Orthodox Church.

            The last chapter, the fourth one, discusses the relation between the Orthodox Church and the religious movements. Here the author refers first to the consequences or aftermaths of the divine mission relized in and by the Church on a personal and also familial, eclezial and social plan, but also to the effects of prozelitism on a personal, familial, communitary plan, and from the perspective of the religious group from which the recruited left. The mission’s effects are presented as being good and the effects of prozelitism are mainly negative. From this perspective, a series of measures become necessary, which is why the author also proposes in his work an applicable plan of prevention, stop and counteraction of prozelitism. In the final of chapter IV the relation between cults in the limits of tolerance and intolerance is analized. There are exposed, comparatively, the perception that the Orthodox Church has of the prozelitist heterodox groups, and the perception that the neo-religious groups have of the Orthodox Church, aspects that might determine reciprocal tolerance and knowledge. In the conclusions part, father Gabriel Sorescu shows that the Orthodox Church is still keeper of a correct form of mission, honest and based on the evangelical principles transmited by Lord Jesus Christ. Through this kind of mission, the Church proposes itself to the world in a delicate, noble way, praying and waiting for everyone’s salvation.