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Author Topic: True church? Visible AND Invisible?  (Read 809 times) Average Rating: 0
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sprtslvr1973
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« on: November 28, 2009, 06:33:53 PM »

     Some time ago I read an article on the Antiochian website that discussed what in today's mindset is a very politically incorrect idea: that there is a 'true church'? Being a Protestant at one time I understand the objection to that idea. Moreover many are bothered by the claim "no salvation outside the church."
     As I understand it the EOC means that it has the full truth. However this does not mean all non-Orthodox Christians will go to Hell. It means that they are lacking what we understand to be fullness of truth, and that a true relationship is part of salvation. What's more I understand that the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved.
     Is my understanding fairly representative of the Church's meaning?

     In Christ
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2009, 06:51:25 PM »

While I am not an Official representative of the Church, I can say that yes, you are correct as far as I have come to understand it.

I move for a sticky being put on this one though. There are many people who will say that "there is no salvation outside the church, period" is the belief as well.

To them, I say "TSBTHRRRP!"(rasberry) Grin

Let us worry about our own judgement...and do our best to live the example.
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2009, 07:00:59 PM »

    Some time ago I read an article on the Antiochian website that discussed what in today's mindset is a very politically incorrect idea: that there is a 'true church'? Being a Protestant at one time I understand the objection to that idea. Moreover many are bothered by the claim "no salvation outside the church."
     As I understand it the EOC means that it has the full truth. However this does not mean all non-Orthodox Christians will go to Hell. It means that they are lacking what we understand to be fullness of truth, and that a true relationship is part of salvation. What's more I understand that the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved.     Is my understanding fairly representative of the Church's meaning?

     In Christ


I don't know, but this statement strikes me as being judgemental and more Protestant than Orthodox; though I'm sure you don't mean it to be. The thing I appreciate about Orthodoxy, at least as I understand it, is that we don't make statements about the salvation of our brothers and sisters who might appear to be Orthodox (or NonOrthodox) Christians "in name and on paper only". We pray for them as we pray for our sinful selves. The Orthodox Church isn't about external appearance, about rule-keeping but about what happens in the heart. Think of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee was the guy who from all outward appearances was the doing all the right things; the Publican was the guy who was Orthodox "in name and on paper only". The Pharisee who, consumed with pride, thought he was in the life-boat as far as salvation went. One the other hand, the Publican understood his sinful condition. As we don't know how close or how far people are from Christ we don't even hazard a guess as to who will or will not be saved.

edited for clarity
« Last Edit: November 28, 2009, 07:08:32 PM by Riddikulus » Logged

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sprtslvr1973
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2009, 07:46:45 PM »

But by saying "no salvation outside the church we do make statements about others' salvation
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2009, 08:15:42 PM »

But by saying "no salvation outside the church we do make statements about others' salvation
Which is why I said what I said.
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2009, 11:34:41 PM »

    Some time ago I read an article on the Antiochian website that discussed what in today's mindset is a very politically incorrect idea: that there is a 'true church'? Being a Protestant at one time I understand the objection to that idea. Moreover many are bothered by the claim "no salvation outside the church."
     As I understand it the EOC means that it has the full truth. However this does not mean all non-Orthodox Christians will go to Hell. It means that they are lacking what we understand to be fullness of truth, and that a true relationship is part of salvation. What's more I understand that the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved.
     Is my understanding fairly representative of the Church's meaning?

     In Christ

The Orthodox teaching is that there is one true Church and that outside of this Church there is no salvation.  This is not a negotiable belief.  As Fr. George Florovsky wrote, no salvation outside the Church is possible, because "salvation is the Church".  (I put the italics here, I am not sure if there are any in the original.)

But by saying "no salvation outside the church we do make statements about others' salvation

No, we don't.  There exists today a "moderate" point of view in Orthodoxy that basically posits that people can be members of the Church in some way that we do not understand, and that is known only to God.  Even the "stricter" point of view that insists that this is not the case is careful to admit that some kind of divine grace may well be at work in those outside the Orthodox Church and that God is merciful.

Personally, I align myself with the "moderate" belief because of my own experience.  (I also don't think that we should automatically discount things that the "strict" camp has to say.)  I don't lose any sleep over the belief that the Orthodox Church is the true Church.  I don't know why this particular tenet of the faith should cause people scandal. Sixty years ago, many major Christian bodies thought that their particular brand of Christianity was the true one and that others were mistaken.  Now that all of these Western confessions have in one way or another jumped on the relativist bandwagon, why is it so necessary for the Orthodox to imitate this fluffy, incoherent, modernist and arguably dishonest ecclesiology?

« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 02:08:23 AM by Pravoslavbob » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2009, 02:40:53 AM »

    Some time ago I read an article on the Antiochian website that discussed what in today's mindset is a very politically incorrect idea: that there is a 'true church'? Being a Protestant at one time I understand the objection to that idea. Moreover many are bothered by the claim "no salvation outside the church."
     As I understand it the EOC means that it has the full truth. However this does not mean all non-Orthodox Christians will go to Hell. It means that they are lacking what we understand to be fullness of truth, and that a true relationship is part of salvation. What's more I understand that the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved.
     Is my understanding fairly representative of the Church's meaning?

     In Christ

The Orthodox teaching is that there is one true Church and that outside of this Church there is no salvation.  This is not a negotiable belief.  As Fr. George Florovsky wrote, no salvation outside the Church is possible, because "salvation is the Church".  (I put the italics here, I am not sure if there are any in the original.)

But by saying "no salvation outside the church we do make statements about others' salvation.

No, we don't.  There exists today a "moderate" point of view in Orthodoxy that basically posits that people can be members of the Church in some way that we do not understand, and that is known only to God.  Even the "stricter" point of view that insists that this is not the case is careful to admit that some kind of divine grace may well be at work in those outside the Orthodox Church and that God is merciful.

Exactly. And even in saying that there is no salvation outside the Church, does not mean "that the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved". If we are sinners saved by God's mercy through the Incarnation, why would we be so daring as to look at other sinners who are also saved by God's mercy through the Incarnation to imagine that they will not be saved. We don't know who manages to slip in at the eleventh hour; perhaps that late-comer might even be ourselves. It's not our business to presume that anyone will not be saved. We simply pray for God's mercy for all; hoping for all, loving all.   

Quote

Personally, I align myself with the "moderate" belief because of my own experience.  (I also don't think that we should automatically discount things that the "strict" camp has to say.)  I don't lose any sleep over the belief that the Orthodox Church is the true Church.  I don't know why this particular tenet of the faith should cause people scandal. Sixty years ago, many major Christian bodies thought that their particular brand of Christianity was the true one and that others were mistaken.  Now that all of these Western confessions have in one way or another jumped on the relativist bandwagon, why is it so necessary for the Orthodox to imitate this fluffy, incoherent, modernist and arguably dishonest ecclesiology?



Indeed.
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sprtslvr1973
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2009, 09:00:12 AM »

Exactly. And even in saying that there is no salvation outside the Church, does not mean "that the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved". If we are sinners saved by God's mercy through the Incarnation, why would we be so daring as to look at other sinners who are also saved by God's mercy through the Incarnation to imagine that they will not be saved. We don't know who manages to slip in at the eleventh hour; perhaps that late-comer might even be ourselves. It's not our business to presume that anyone will not be saved. We simply pray for God's mercy for all; hoping for all, loving all.  
The bottom line here is that Hell is real and people go there largely under their own volition as Hell's torments are spiritual seperation from God, which unrepentant sinners choose



Fixed quote tags to make post more readable...  nothing more...  -PtA
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 09:42:31 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged

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sprtslvr1973
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2009, 09:03:52 AM »

The bottom line here is that Hell is real and people go there largely under their own volition as Hell's torments are spiritual seperation from God, which unrepentant sinners choose
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2009, 03:38:04 PM »

Exactly. And even in saying that there is no salvation outside the Church, does not mean "that the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved". If we are sinners saved by God's mercy through the Incarnation, why would we be so daring as to look at other sinners who are also saved by God's mercy through the Incarnation to imagine that they will not be saved. We don't know who manages to slip in at the eleventh hour; perhaps that late-comer might even be ourselves. It's not our business to presume that anyone will not be saved. We simply pray for God's mercy for all; hoping for all, loving all.   

I agree wholeheartedly.
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2009, 04:22:05 PM »

The bottom line here is that Hell is real and people go there largely under their own volition as Hell's torments are spiritual seperation from God, which unrepentant sinners choose

Please forgive me for persuing this, but this is quite a different statement from saying, as you have above, that “the Church definitely believes that some so-called members (people who effectively are [Orthodox] Christians in name and on paper only, but in spirit are about as far from Christ as they can get) will not be saved".

Of course, there are people who choose hell over heaven, but any judgement statement regarding a group of people who are "not quite as Orthodox as they should be" seems to me to be something that is quite foreign to Orthodoxy. We are not called to look at the external behaviour of other people to judge them as unworthy of Christ, but to carefully guard our own salvation from the dangers of pride. We don't want to fall into the trap of the Pharisee. While he was a decent man, doing all the right things, he judged the other without knowing the inner spiritual turmoil that was working to save the Publican while he was being excluded by his own pride regarding all that he had achieved. If we have the leisure to look at other sinners, there is the danger that we have become static in our own growth; in danger of not attaining the prize that they might receive while we have been seeing them as unworthy. We don’t know how God works in the lives of other people, even those who are Christians "in name and on paper only", and thus the Church does not make declarations regarding a certain groups' salvation. God knows the heart; we don't.
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