Something has been on my mind as of late...
My mother has invited us to enroll our three year-old in a program I was in when I was a child -- some of you may have heard of AWANA
-- and my wife and I, after having looked at some of the literature for the youngest group which our three year-old would attend, had some reservations.
While, at this point, it would, by and large, be simple recitation of basic Bible verses and knowledge of Bible stories, the idea of Christ's satisfactionary atonement -- that is, paying the price for our sin to avoid everlasting punishment -- is at odds with our Orthodox belief in a soul's experience of heaven or hell based on his reaction to the presence of Christ as consuming fire and as Judge. Even my mother, who is not one for complexities in doctrine, admitted that that's a very real difference.
What's got me thinking as of late, though, is this: when I stated the ramifications of satisfactionary atonement -- namely, that we are basically being saved by Christ from the Father's wrathful actions against us because of something that doesn't have to do with our actual righteousness -- she stated that that's not what she believes. And I think that's rather common among Evangelicals. And I'm not at all sure why. Indeed, though it is what is declared in many statements of faith in many Evangelical churches (and in statements of organizations like AWANA), many believers in the pews still see God as a loving Creator who they desire to live in communion with rather than a legalistic despot more concerned with fulfilling cosmic debit and credit legers and eternally torturing people than actually sanctifying and purifying people's hearts.
In contrast, though the Orthodox view of God as all-consuming Love is most definitely preached from pulpits in our churches, it seems to me that our God is often perceived by folks in the nave as Someone who is more concerned with sacramental requirements and external conformity than in a real, ontological change of nous
and heartfelt, life-long, grateful metanoia
Of course, I
still see the differences as quite stark, but my question remains: why do you think Evangelical Protestants often have a religious culture that fosters gratitude instead of obligation and fear, while it seems that Orthodox often have the opposite?