I hope no one will be offended by the title. I have been doing some more reading (and watching YouTube videos from Holy Family Monastery) on the difference between the Orthodox and the Western views of humanity and the atonement. I just watched a video by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, in which he said that the Western view, that man had infinitely offended God and that therefore God demanded an infinite payment to satisfy the demands of justice, was incorrect. This reminded me of other books and articles I had read about how the Orthodox view Christ's sacrifice as a rescue mission sent by the Father and not a case of Christ taking our place to satisfy the Father's wrath.
This Orthodox view certainly portrays God the Father in a better light than some Western views do. It reconciles the will of the Father and the Son, whereas some Western views made the Father our wrathful enemy and the Son our Savior who desired to save us from Him.
I like the Orthodox view better, I really do. I am concerned, however, that it is too good to be true. I see the Old Testament requirement for blood sacrifices, where sin had to be paid for with death, and I see God's fierce vengeance on the Israelites for their unfaithfulness. The actions of God the Father in the Old Testament seem more consistent (sadly) with a Western view of God. I am concerned that the Orthodox have attempted to "soften" God by maximizing His mercy and minimizing His wrath. This can be seen, for example, in the often hopeful statements about the salvation of non-Orthodox, or the tendency by some Orthodox (thought it is not an approved or official teaching, by any means) to hope that even Satan and the demons could someday be restored to God.
The past few years have been very educational for me, as I have searched for the Church. However, they have also been discouraging. I have come to discover that much of what troubled me about my Christian faith before (and helped put me on this journey) was not strictly the fault of my particular sect, but was within the very pages of Scripture. God, as portrayed in parts of Scripture and in Western Christian teaching, is not a being who seems very good, to be honest. Finally, I have found the Orthodox view of God, which is a view of a God who is loving and kind and who took human form to save us, not to condemn us. I worry, however, that I have found a view of God that appeals to me and not necessarily a view of God that is true.
I appreciate your thoughts and especially your prayers on this issue. Thank you.