Bulgarian Evangelical Theology

September 20, 2007 by  
Filed under Research

By Kathryn Donev, M.S.

A great majority (97%) of Bulgarian protestant believers accept the evangelical doctrine of receiving Christ as Savior as mandatory for personal salvation. In this context, over three-fourths affirm the existence of free will (86%), as part of one’s personal choice to be saved (75%) and respectively to loose one’s salvation (76%).

Water baptism is viewed as unnecessary for salvation (85%), yet people baptized in water as children, as is customary in Eastern Orthodox tradition, need to be baptized again after conversion (70%). Almost two out of three (64%) claim that infant baptism is not a Biblical teaching.

Much more attention is paid to the role of the Holy Spirit in the life and praxis of the church. Although the majority (72%) claims that baptism with the Holy Spirit is not necessary for salvation, a close number (76%) attend a church where speaking in tongues is practiced and 63% claim to have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. A striking majority (90%), which apparently includes people not baptized in the Holy Spirit, affirm that the gifts of the Spirit are still operational. Additionally, two out of three Bulgarian Evangelicals are pretribulational in eschatology, which however is not always based on dispositional interpretation.

From a theological standpoint, Bulgarian protestant believers are fundamentally Biblical and conservatively-evangelical in doctrine, especially in their sotierology, and more Biblical than sacramental in practice. The majority of Bulgarian protestant believers are Pentecostal/Charismatic in experience, leaning toward a personal experience of the faith and supporting a more experiential personal salvific conversion, rather than traditionally inherited national religious confession. The genuine experience of God produces in a desire to practice the Biblical truths and be led by the Spirit, while expecting a soon and sudden return of the Lord.