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Predvestnik: The Russian Language Forerunner

Tatarstan: Making a Decision Between Islam and Christianity

By Editorial Staff
Published April 1, 1994

A Special Report from the Russian language Forerunner

By Oleg Aleksandrov
Translation by Roman Medvid

KAZAN, Tatarstan – The spread of the gospel in the former USSR has become an irreversible process. You can hear a lot about new churches and Bible schools being started, Christian literature being distributed and the lives of millions of people being healed.

The louder the gospel proclamation, however, the more indignant are those who see it as a threat to their well-being. It is no wonder that many inter-religious and inter-denominational problems emerged recently. These conflicts are dramatized in major cities where religion is tightly knit with nationalistic endeavors.

One of these “hot spots” is Kazan. The capital city of Tatarstan, the city is a large industrial, academic and cultural center in the Volga river valley region. The population of Kazan surpassed one million many years ago. Russians and Tatars make up 90 percent of the city, having equal shares of the population. However, local government offices and economic leadership are dominated by people of Tatar nationality. In attempt to maintain and enlarge their influence, the Tatars are evoking national conflicts. One of the most influential means, Islam, is the most traditional and common religion for the majority of the population.

During the rule of the Soviet Union, the roots of Islam were not entirely done away with in Tatarstan. Even though many priests were persecuted, many mosques were closed and Islamic religious literature was banned, the Muslim presence remained. Having penetrated the historical and national traditions of the Tatar nation, Islam recently became the “national religion,” as opposed to Christianity, which had been brought here by Russian migrants.

Antagonism between the two religions reached its climax recently. The conflict led some nationalistic groups under Islamic banners to call for the jihad, or “the Holy War.” The ideological position of Islam sees a struggle with another religion’s adherents as something that pleases Allah and every person killed in the struggle is seen as a martyr.

However, this extreme position has not been in favor with the common people of Tatarstan. In fact, the Orthodox Church, characterized by a great tolerance of other religions, has never promoted the conflict. Relations between Russians and Tatars have never been in enmity. Before it became a means of political struggle, Islam never had this strong support from the government.

Now the shift has taken place: old mosques in the Old City are being rebuilt at a rapid speed, new ones are built in modern districts and Islamic literature is being distributed through regular news stands. The idea is being promulgated among the common people that a real Tatar is to go to a mosque. Mass media promotes traditionalism, a return to old religious values and a refutation of anything new that has come during the past few decades.

This situation causes many problems to numerous young Christian churches, missions and centers. Evangelical Protestants have to counter much opposition not only from the government and followers of Islam, but also from the Russian Orthodox Church. Members of different Protestant denominations are far from agreement. This fact inevitably leads to the weakening of their influence. We hope that Christians from all denominations and confessions would unite in order to carry the Word of Truth to the people.


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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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