Religion of Greece and its features
In the Orthodox world, the Greek, or, as it is commonly called, the Greek Church is the third in number of its followers and one of the most influential. At the same time, the Hellenic Republic became the only country that constitutionally enshrined Orthodoxy as a state religion. In the life of her society, the church plays an important role, and faith has historically become an integral part of culture.
Faith approved by law
Religiously and culturally, modern Greece is rightfully considered the successor of Byzantium. Of its 11 million inhabitants, 9.4 million people belong to the Orthodox Church of Greece, headed by the Archbishop of Athens. In addition, a significant number of citizens (according to some data, about 800 thousand people) are followers of the so-called old-age Orthodox churches, who use the Julian calendar in their worship.
The main religion of Greece ─ Orthodoxy ─ is based not only on centuries-old traditions, but also on a number of legislative acts adopted in recent decades. For example, marriage is not legal without a wedding ceremony.Most church holidays have the status of nation-wide, and professional ones are usually celebrated on the days of the memory of saints who are the heavenly patrons of this kind of occupation. In view of the authority that the Orthodox Church has in Greece, baptism is considered obligatory, and birthdays are a more weighty reason for celebration than a birthday. Belonging to a particular religion is indicated in a special column of the passport.
The beginning of the Christianization of Hellas
It is known from the New Testament that the light of the Christian faith in the first century was brought to the Greek land by the first Apostle Paul. Before its appearance in these parts, the state religion of Greece was paganism, and the inhabitants of a country that had the richest cultural heritage defiled themselves with idolatry. For many years, the holy evangelist spent among them, preaching the teachings of Christ.
The Greeks very vividly perceived a new doctrine for them, and in many areas where the apostle Paul preached, after his departure, the Christian communities created by him remained. They later gave impetus to the spread of Christ's teachings throughout the European pagan world.
Followers of the First Apostle
The holy evangelist John the Theologian, who worked there with his pupil Procopius, who was later canonized by the Orthodox Church, also contributed to the Christianization of Hellas. The main places of their preaching were the city of Ephesus and the island of Patmos in the south-east of the Aegean Sea, where the famous “Revelation of John the Theologian” was written, also known as the “Apocalypse”. In addition, the holy Barnabas and Mark were worthy successors of the work begun by the Apostle Paul.
However, despite all the apostolic works, Greece still remained pagan for three centuries, and Christians were subjected to cruel persecution, only occasionally followed by periods of relative calm. Orthodoxy triumphed in it only in the IV century, after the rise of the Byzantine Empire.
Faith that preserved the nation
Since that time, the Orthodox religion of Greece received a nationwide status, resulting in the emergence of numerous temples and the establishment of a network of monastic monasteries. The same historical period was marked by a stormy upsurge of theological thought and the affirmation of the organizational structure of the church.
It is generally recognized that it was thanks to religion that Greece managed to preserve its national identity during the years of Turkish rule of the 15th and 19th centuries. Despite all attempts at violent Islamization, the inhabitants of Hellas preserved their faith, which helped them carry the cultural heritage of past centuries, their language and traditions through the years of the Ottoman yoke. Moreover, many researchers are inclined to believe that at that time only thanks to the church the Greeks did not disappear from the face of the earth as a nation.
Earthly lot of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Greece has become the birthplace of many saints revered throughout the Christian world. Suffice to mention only such well-known names as the Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica, Hierarchs Gregory Palamas and Nectarius of Aegins, Saint Paraskeva the Martyr and a number of other saints of God who left a noticeable mark in the history of Orthodoxy. Many of them chose the holy Mount Athos, recognized as the earthly lot of the Most Holy Theotokos, as the place of their service to God.
It is to her that the Sacred Tradition ascribes the commandment prohibiting women from visiting the monasteries located there. It is curious that the preservation of this rule, observed for 2 thousand.years, was among the conditions put forward by the Hellenic Republic when joining the European Union.
Features of the religion of the Greeks
Despite the fact that the Russian and Greek churches have one common faith, between them there are some differences of a purely ceremonial nature. For example, divine services in Greek churches are shorter than in Russian, and they are distinguished by their deliberate simplicity. Not all priests can confess parishioners, but only hieromonks, and the confession itself is not performed during liturgy. In the church choir, only men sing. Temples are open around the clock, and women are allowed to enter them without headgear. There are also differences in the vestments of priests.
Nowadays, the religion of Greece is not limited to Orthodoxy. According to statistics, in the country today there are 58 thousand Catholics. In addition, 40,000 people profess Protestantism in Greece. The country also has about 5 thousand Jews, living mainly in Thessaloniki. There are also representatives of the ethnic Greek religion (polytheism) ─ about 2 thousand.
Pentecost ─ who are they, what are the dangers and what are their characteristics?
At present, in Greece, as in the rest of the world, various mystical teachings enjoy considerable popularity. The most common among them is Pentecostal.It is impossible to call this current a religion, since for a number of characteristic signs it represents a sect. Having broken away at the beginning of the 20th century from the Protestant Church of America, the Pentecostals have since then confessed their own doctrine, on a number of issues diverging from Christian dogma, and practice completely alien to the canons of the church.
The sect members put special emphasis on the so-called Baptism of the Holy Spirit ─ a ceremony based on the Christian dogma of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, but having a form that is deeply alien to the church tradition. It lies in the fact that during prayer meetings all those present are brought into a state of trance, in which they lose their sense of reality and begin to emit incoherent sounds (glossaries) that are close in their phonetic structure to human speech, but devoid of any meaning.
This ceremony of the Pentecostal reproduce the episode cited in the first chapter of the book "Acts of the Holy Apostles", the author of which is considered to be the Evangelist Luke. It describes how on the fiftieth day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ on His disciples,those who gathered in the Zion's chamber in Jerusalem descended the Holy Spirit in the form of fiery tongues, after which they found the gift, preaching the Word of God, to speak in languages unknown to them earlier.
Members of the sect believe that in the process of the rite they perform, they receive a gift similar to the one that was sent down to the apostles when the Holy Spirit descended on them. Proof, in their opinion, is the glossos, mentioned above, which sectarians issue as involuntary speech in languages unknown to anyone.
Ceremonies leading to insanity
Immediately, we note that experts have repeatedly conducted research on this phenomenon and concluded that glossary not only is not a speech in any of the modern languages, but does not even resemble any of the deceased. In turn, doctors find in them many features that correspond to the symptoms of a number of mental illnesses that the Pentecostals are trying to disprove by all means.
Who they are, what is dangerous and why their sect is considered destructive ─ issues that have been repeatedly covered in the media. Harsh criticism of the rites performed during prayer meetings,sounded both from the side of doctors, who emphasized their negative impact on the human psyche, and from the representatives of the official Church, who attributed the glossolalia to the effects of satanic forces.
Piety and non-resistance to evil
In everyday life, the Pentecostals adhere to the "doctrine of piety," preaching a rejection of drugs, alcohol, smoking, and gambling. They are ardent supporters of family values and a conscientious attitude to work.
The Pentecostal traditions are prescribing them to follow the doctrine of "non-resistance to evil by violence." In this regard, many of them refuse to serve in the army and generally take up arms. This position resonates among people from different countries of the world, and due to this the number of followers of the Pentecostal sect increases every year.
Tolerance that has become a national trait
In the previous sections of the article, the period of Ottoman domination in Greece was mentioned, as a result of which, beginning in the 15th century, it became the borderline between the Christian and Muslim worlds. Despite the fact that the events of those ancient times became the property of history, their echoes are heard to this day. Today, about 250,000 live in the country (mainly in Western Thrace).Muslims, and although they make up a small percentage of the total population, the Islamic factor in Greece continues to play a very significant role.
In their daily lives, the Greeks, like all other people, are busy solving ordinary everyday problems. But the system of religious holidays, fasting and regular worship services helps the Church to rise above the everyday bustle and does not allow to forget about eternity, waiting for each of the people beyond the threshold of death.
Raised in the Orthodox faith, they show sympathy for representatives of other religions, so the population of Greece has always been distinguished by toleration. Among them, from time immemorial, it was decided to respect the choice of others and not to limit the civil rights of the Gentiles.