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Author Topic: Convincing my girlfriend of Orthodoxy  (Read 3459 times) Average Rating: 0
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NicholasL
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« on: December 03, 2009, 08:55:41 PM »

Greetings,

Background: I am, and was born, Orthodox. My girlfriend/fiancee was not. She was and is currently protestant (probably associates with Pentecostal). During my years at university I have sadly become more lax in faith and have not been focused upon it. Now I am graduating and we wanted to get married, I would like to show her why Orthodoxy is the true faith (and strengthen my own faith through knowledge and practice). Sadly I am not as prepared as I should be. Mea Culpa.

I hope that this post is not in the wrong forum or such. I have been sifting through the vast information on this site - a fantastic site, and haven't found quite the answer that I am looking for yet. (If I have missed it could someone like to the forum for me?)

I almost hesitate to use the phrase 'mounting an argument' but that is what I am looking for help doing. My girlfriend, lets call her C, is very emotionally attached to the church of her upbringing and will need some compelling 'evidence' to switch. I would appreciate any advice, prayers, citations, materials, etc.

A few of our issues:

  • She is concerned with the point that salvation is attained. She views the Orthodox standpoint as we do not know that we have been "saved" until repose. Whereas I believe the protestant tradition is that you attain salvation upon dedication of your life to Christ.
  • She doesn't believe in Saints and says that there is no justification for them. Not that they are bad 'people' but shouldn't all good Christians just pray straight to Jesus? I have tried to respond that we do not pray to saints rather we seek their intersessions. Her counter is 'how is that more powerful that prayer straight to Jesus?'
  • I am also working against her "dream" of what a wedding looks like.
  • I try and explain the position that we view the bible in highest regard but also view the writings of the Holy fathers in regard as well. Some of the writings, stories, and lives of the saints I can't even reference because they are not in her experience/lexicon. I tried to ask where in scripture does it say "scripture alone." I am not sure how well that will be received.
  • There are a lot more issues, but I don't want to overwhelm one post, nor take advantage of any gracious responders.

I know that I am asking a tough question (and asking a lot), but I think my more general question is some guidance as to how I can show her that Orthodox over Protestantism is correct. We have attended a few services, but that is tough for her (some haven't been in English), and they are obviously unlike any service that she is accustomed to and therefore "scare" her a bit.

Much Regards,
God Bless.

Nick.
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2009, 09:15:24 PM »

I would not mount an arguement at all. Ask her if she would like to come to church with you, maybe bring her to Vespers one evening. (Vespers is always a great service to introduce non-Orthodox to because the Eucharist is not served.)

Introduce her to your priest.

Then just be casual about it. Don't talk to her about your faith; show her your faith. Go to church regularly, follow the fasting and prayer rule as set by your priest, begin reading books about Orthodoxy, and start living the faith.

If she asks you questions, answer to the best of your ability, and then ask your priest for the answers. Maybe the two of you can sit down with him together to answer any questions she may have.

You will never "argue" anyone into the faith. What you can do is show her the faith, pray about it, and leave the rest to God.
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2009, 09:55:27 PM »

^Excellent advice from HandmaidenofGod
Welcome to the forum Nick!
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2009, 10:12:57 PM »

^Excellent advice from HandmaidenofGod

Agreed!  Trying to convert someone through direct means will typically blow up in your face, and possibly lead to resentment.  Just let her witness you going about your faith.
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2009, 10:25:54 PM »

^Excellent advice from HandmaidenofGod
Welcome to the forum Nick!

I wholeheartedly agree with Handmaiden! 



Welcome to the forum, Nick! Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2009, 10:41:39 PM »

Greetings,

Background: I am, and was born, Orthodox. My girlfriend/fiancee was not. She was and is currently protestant (probably associates with Pentecostal). During my years at university I have sadly become more lax in faith and have not been focused upon it. Now I am graduating and we wanted to get married, I would like to show her why Orthodoxy is the true faith (and strengthen my own faith through knowledge and practice). Sadly I am not as prepared as I should be. Mea Culpa.

I hope that this post is not in the wrong forum or such. I have been sifting through the vast information on this site - a fantastic site, and haven't found quite the answer that I am looking for yet. (If I have missed it could someone like to the forum for me?)

I almost hesitate to use the phrase 'mounting an argument' but that is what I am looking for help doing. My girlfriend, lets call her C, is very emotionally attached to the church of her upbringing and will need some compelling 'evidence' to switch. I would appreciate any advice, prayers, citations, materials, etc.

A few of our issues:

  • She is concerned with the point that salvation is attained. She views the Orthodox standpoint as we do not know that we have been "saved" until repose. Whereas I believe the protestant tradition is that you attain salvation upon dedication of your life to Christ.
  • She doesn't believe in Saints and says that there is no justification for them. Not that they are bad 'people' but shouldn't all good Christians just pray straight to Jesus? I have tried to respond that we do not pray to saints rather we seek their intersessions. Her counter is 'how is that more powerful that prayer straight to Jesus?'
  • I am also working against her "dream" of what a wedding looks like.
  • I try and explain the position that we view the bible in highest regard but also view the writings of the Holy fathers in regard as well. Some of the writings, stories, and lives of the saints I can't even reference because they are not in her experience/lexicon. I tried to ask where in scripture does it say "scripture alone." I am not sure how well that will be received.
  • There are a lot more issues, but I don't want to overwhelm one post, nor take advantage of any gracious responders.

I know that I am asking a tough question (and asking a lot), but I think my more general question is some guidance as to how I can show her that Orthodox over Protestantism is correct. We have attended a few services, but that is tough for her (some haven't been in English), and they are obviously unlike any service that she is accustomed to and therefore "scare" her a bit.

Much Regards,
God Bless.

Nick.

I agree with Handmaiden.  But to give you some defense, as you have let your defenses down, before you get them up again:

We are being saved: I Corinthians 10:12 "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

God told Abimelech to have Abraham pray for him (Genesis 20:7), and He told Job's friends to have Job pray for them (Job 42:7-9). Since God was telling them Himself to have someone pray to Him, it seems He put some importance on their prayers.   Btw, that's why we say God glorfies the saints: He wants to give them (and us) a share of His glory. John 17:22-4.

I take it that you will be married in the Orthodox Church. Is that the problem of her "dream" wedding?

It doesn't say scripture alone.  It says quite the opposite: II Thessalonians 3:6  "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us...(2:15) So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter." I Corinthians 11:2 "Now I praise you, brothers, that you remember me in all things, and hold firm the traditions, even as I delivered them to you."

Again, I second the recommendation that you work on yourself first.  As St. Seraphim of Sarov said "convert yourself, and a thousand around you will be saved."  Btw, try to find services in English if you go.  If the services are in Greek, you can at least tell her that they are in the language of the New Testament.
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2009, 10:53:27 PM »

Add another vote for Handmaiden's advice.

If you 'mount an argument' then it's just natural that she will argue back and the most likely result is each of becoming more invested in opposed positions.

The single most persuasive thing you can do is to actually live the Faith yourself--go to confession, follow a daily prayer rule, feast and fast. Do some reading on your own to deepen or renew your own understanding. And go to services and take her with you.

When she asks a question answer it to the best of your ability--but don't worry about proving it to her. Just explain. And if you can't explain, tell her you're not sure and you'll get back to her--then do the research, check with a priest, etc.

You realize that as an Orthodox Christian, you *have* to be married in an Orthodox Church? Let her know that as soon as its reasonable--don't spring it on her 3 minutes after you've proposed or an hour before she books a location. But that means that as the day gets closer, she will have to do some talking with a priest just to make the wedding plans.

(I have some experience behind what I say here. As soon as things started getting serious with my wife, who was not Orthodox at the time, I mentioned to her that 'if' I ever got married it would have to be in an Orthodox Church. That in itself gave her a reason to take a longer look at the Church than she ever would have otherwise and she was received 3 months before our wedding.)
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2009, 10:57:31 PM »

I'm not sure what the criteria for Post of the Month is, but so far everyone has prefaced their post with a nod to Handmaiden's post.  Seems like a nomination to me.  Wink
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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2009, 11:01:04 PM »

Welcome to the forum!  May God grant you peace and guidance!
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2009, 12:41:16 AM »

You mentioned that she's your girlfriend\fiancee.

Which is it?

Because I would recommend getting this area straightened out one way or the other before moving to the next level in your relationship.


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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2009, 04:17:00 AM »

I, too, wholeheartedly agree with Handmaiden and second nomination for post of the month! Absolutely sound advice.
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2009, 11:42:04 AM »

Welcome to the Forum Nick!

The purpose of the Convert issues forum is to provide a a place on the OC.Net where inquirers, catechumen, and newly converted could ask their questions about the Orthodox Faith in a safe and supportive forum without retribution or recrimination.  We try to direct and simple answers with sources if possible that may be most helpful to you or your girlfriend.

Again Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum!

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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2009, 11:48:24 AM »

Nick,

Your girlfriend has many valid questions. The primary thinkg that you will need to remember with her is that she is enetering a world and culture she knows nothing about.  Even Convert parishes have a special other worldliness culture that may be foreign to your girlfriend. Meet with you local priest and discuss the issues with him  and he may be able to point to certain members of teh parish with similar backgrounds as that of your girlfriend who can discuss their own conversion and understanding of the Faith. See if their is a local wedding that will be taking place in the area and arrange to be invited to observe it with her.

My daughter who married several years ago had an Orthodox wedding that was so beautiful that it won her non -Orthodox Lutheran inlaws over to accepting her Orthodox beliefs as Christian and they still over 10 years later talk about the most beautiful wedding they ever attended.

I hope that God will be done in your relationship and will keep you in my prayers as you perform this special missionary work with her.

Thomas

 
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2009, 12:34:36 PM »

I am, and was born, Orthodox. My girlfriend/fiancee was not. She was and is currently protestant (probably associates with Pentecostal). During my years at university I have sadly become more lax in faith and have not been focused upon it. Now I am graduating and we wanted to get married, I would like to show her why Orthodoxy is the true faith (and strengthen my own faith through knowledge and practice).

Hey Nick. First of all I recommend asking yourself very carefully how important it really is that your girlfriend is Orthodox. There are other ways to salvation outside the Orthodox Church. I have been told by Orthodox monastics and clergy alike that God judges people by their behaviour and their souls rather than what church they prey in. If the difference in faith is really going to be a difficulty in your marriage then perhaps you really do need to attempt to convert her, but if it isn't that big an issue it might be better to focus on being a better Orthodox Christian yourself (your good example might bring her towards Orthodoxy anyway).

Quote
A few of our issues:


  • She is concerned with the point that salvation is attained. She views the Orthodox standpoint as we do not know that we have been "saved" until repose. Whereas I believe the protestant tradition is that you attain salvation upon dedication of your life to Christ.

You could try to explain to her that Orthodoxy views salvation as an ongoing process which continues long after death and well into the next life. Whereas Protestantism teaches that in order to be saved all one needs to do is put their hand up and 'accept Jesus,' kind of like saying 'I'm in,' Orthodoxy teaches that in order to be saved one needs to spend a very long time perfecting their heart, mind and soul through prayer, righteous and Christ-like actions and behaviour, love for all humanity, love for God, etc. We look to the Beatitudes for guidelines on how to live and what our souls should be like - the process of this 'internal perfection' requires discipline and effort. Simply believing in doctrines in not enough - one needs to live, breathe, pray, love and act in Christ. Protestants accept that the only way to enter the Kingdom of God is through Christ. Perhaps it would be a good idea to talk to your girlfriend about what it really means to live 'through Christ.' Does it just mean to believe that Christ is God and died for our sake? If a person sincerely believes in Christian doctrine - eg, that God exists, Christ is God, Christ died for our sins, etc - but acts in a totally contrary way (for example, are intolerant, judgemental, jealous, hipocritical, etc) are they really living through Christ?

Quote
  • She doesn't believe in Saints and says that there is no justification for them. Not that they are bad 'people' but shouldn't all good Christians just pray straight to Jesus? I have tried to respond that we do not pray to saints rather we seek their intersessions. Her counter is 'how is that more powerful that prayer straight to Jesus?'

Tell her that we absolutely do believe that prayer to God/Jesus is the greatest and most effective form of prayer - the ONLY form of prayer which we can utilise to improve ourselves and come to greater closeness to God in soul and actions. Tell her that everyone in heaven, who has achieved salvation, is a saint. The saints which we recognise in the Church are people who were so holy in their lifetimes that we are absolutely confident are indeed in heaven. We don't pray to the saints - we ask/beseech them to pray for us, just as we can ask our friends to pray for us. It is fitting to ask holy people who have already achieved theosis and attained salvation to help us in that same quest by praying for our souls. Make sure she understands this and doesn't think that we are 'worshipping' saints instead of Jesus.

Quote
  • I am also working against her "dream" of what a wedding looks like.

Perhaps the two of you could agree on some sort of compromise, a mid-way point between the both traditions. The ceremony could be Orthodox in the technical sense, but with the presence of her Pentecostal family and friends it could also somehow incorporate aspects of their religious tradition.

Quote
  • I try and explain the position that we view the bible in highest regard but also view the writings of the Holy fathers in regard as well. Some of the writings, stories, and lives of the saints I can't even reference because they are not in her experience/lexicon. I tried to ask where in scripture does it say "scripture alone." I am not sure how well that will be received.
The sola scriptura attitude of Protestantism might be very difficult to overcome. I had a conversation with a Pentecostal recently about this. I said to him that the Bible is mankind's record of spiritual truths which were revealed to men and women over a long period of time. Revelation - that is, the process by which men came to understand these spiritual truths, whether it was in the darkness atop Mt Sinai (as it was for Moses), attending the sermons and speeches of Jesus (as it was for Matthew), by the banks of the river Chebar (as it was for Ezekiel) or on the road to Damascus (as it was for St Paul) - is the act of God. Writing down and recording these spiritual truths in human language is an act of man. The spiritual truths contained within the Bible are indeed true, but to consider each word of the Bible to be literally divine truth and 'our sole authority in faith and religious practice' (as Protestants view it) is Bibliolatry. Personally I believe quite strongly that God is not like Agent Smith from The Matrix, that is, he doesn't possess people and take over their free will - which would be necessarily if God is indeed the sole author of every word of the Bible (rather than men such as Solomon, Moses, John, Paul, Isaiah, etc...).

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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2009, 01:39:32 PM »

First of all I recommend asking yourself very carefully how important it really is that your girlfriend is Orthodox. There are other ways to salvation outside the Orthodox Church. I have been told by Orthodox monastics and clergy alike that God judges people by their behaviour and their souls rather than what church they prey in. If the difference in faith is really going to be a difficulty in your marriage then perhaps you really do need to attempt to convert her, but if it isn't that big an issue it might be better to focus on being a better Orthodox Christian yourself (your good example might bring her towards Orthodoxy anyway).

No, this is wrong.  Even to those outside of the Church, any salvation that occurs happens only through the Church, which is the Body of Christ.
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« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2009, 02:34:42 PM »

Welcome to the forum!   Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2009, 02:55:06 PM »

First of all I recommend asking yourself very carefully how important it really is that your girlfriend is Orthodox. There are other ways to salvation outside the Orthodox Church. I have been told by Orthodox monastics and clergy alike that God judges people by their behaviour and their souls rather than what church they prey in. If the difference in faith is really going to be a difficulty in your marriage then perhaps you really do need to attempt to convert her, but if it isn't that big an issue it might be better to focus on being a better Orthodox Christian yourself (your good example might bring her towards Orthodoxy anyway).

No, this is wrong.  Even to those outside of the Church, any salvation that occurs happens only through the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

I was told otherwise by a ROCOR archpriest who had a major role in the communion between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate.
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« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2009, 03:08:00 PM »

I'm not saying that Christ does not save those outside of the Church, but that the salvation still occurs through Christ and His Church.
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2009, 03:44:22 PM »

First of all I recommend asking yourself very carefully how important it really is that your girlfriend is Orthodox. There are other ways to salvation outside the Orthodox Church. I have been told by Orthodox monastics and clergy alike that God judges people by their behaviour and their souls rather than what church they prey in. If the difference in faith is really going to be a difficulty in your marriage then perhaps you really do need to attempt to convert her, but if it isn't that big an issue it might be better to focus on being a better Orthodox Christian yourself (your good example might bring her towards Orthodoxy anyway).

No, this is wrong.  Even to those outside of the Church, any salvation that occurs happens only through the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

I was told otherwise by a ROCOR archpriest who had a major role in the communion between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate.

Perhaps you misunderstood what he was saying??
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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2009, 03:52:21 PM »

Welcome to the Forum, Nick!

I myself am a newly illumined Orthodox Christian who was raised Roman Catholic, lived as a Greek Catholic for 10 years, and am married to a Roman Catholic for four years.

My wife likes the idea of converting to Orthodoxy.  She loves the tradition.  She loves the music (the Byzantine tones as done by the Antiochians is her favorite).  She even likes our local parish community.  But she is honest in admitting that she is still very much a western Roman Catholic in thought and even in praxis.  She's also having some "God issues" now that have their roots in the long illness and slow death of her beloved grandfather.  She is honest in admitting she hasn't started to deal with those yet (it's been almost a year since his passing) and, until she can do that, her conversion to Orthodoxy is not going to happen.  (As a side note, she thankfully finally visited her grandparents grave (her grandmother died just a few months after her grandfather dide) just his past week, the first time she's been back there since the funerals) and I hope and pray that the rift between her and God can finally begin to close for her).

In the meantime, she supports my fasting and prayers at home.  She comes to church with me when she can (she works retail and often on the weekends Sad ).  For my part, I'm just trying to be a good example and answer her questions as best I can with as little attitude as possible.  I think that last part is key in any conversation with a loved one in any topic, but especially religion in general and Orthodox in particular.  One can speak the Truth w/o being confrontational or dismissive, even if the other person happens to be vehemently against a particular teaching of the Church.  My mother always taught me to try to see things from someone else's perspective and try to discover why such beliefs exist; diagnose the cause and not the symptom, so to speak.  Then one can actually have a discussion rather than a debate.  My wife, unfortunately, has some peculiar ideas regarding spirituality and is a bit superstitious (she's part very ethnic Italian).  We discuss these things when they come up.  She knows that I am vehemently against such practices (the mano fico charm, for instance) but I deal with them not with violence or disdain, but with the sign of the Cross, done not out of fear but out of triumph, for example.

As others have pointed out, St. Seraphim's dictum of "converting oneself to convert others" is, I think, the foundation of all evangelism, and most especially evangelism of our near and dear ones.  Live as Christian a life as you can and others will want to follow you. Smiley

Again, welcome and we hope you will participate more.
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« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2009, 04:29:35 PM »

Feanor, you wrote:

Quote
Perhaps the two of you could agree on some sort of compromise, a mid-way point between the both traditions. The ceremony could be Orthodox in the technical sense, but with the presence of her Pentecostal family and friends it could also somehow incorporate aspects of their religious tradition.


Non-Orthodox are most welcome to attend an Orthodox wedding (indeed, any Orthodox service), but "incorporating aspects of pentecostal tradition" into the wedding service would be out of the question, I'm afraid. There is no provision for "writing one's vows" or "choosing hymns", as is often the case in non-Orthodox denominations, it's a standard service for everyone.
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« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2009, 05:03:59 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Nick!

If you will allow me the indulgence, I'll give you a little story of my own struggle with this same issue.

I dated a wonderful woman this time last year (we broke up in March).  She was not only one hell of a cook, but very generous and fun and very beautiful (I mean drop dead gorgeous; definitely out of my league).  She was an evangelical and came from a family that was, at best, ambivalent or agnostic when it came to things religious.  She came with me to church fairly often.  She loved the beauty of it and really enjoyed my priest's sermons.  It was only fair that  I reciprocate and went with her to one of her church's functions as well as a Sunday service (there was none at my parish that Sunday).  We talked a lot about our faith and I even gave her an icon of our Lord and one of the Theotokos.  But we couldn't pray together.  Her language was, for lack of a better word, so superficial.  I have no doubt that it was sincere and full of thanks to God for His great bounties, but it was very shallow.  I suggested praying the Psalter, but that was just so unnatural for her, though completely natural for me.  So, I got to thinking, how can I possibly expect to marry her, let alone start a family with her if we cannot do together the bedrock of Christian spirituality--prayer?  She loved the Orthodox praxis but she didn't want to become Orthodox and it was the realization of that very fact that I broke it off with her.  I regret it in a lot of ways, but I think it was the correct decision.

Now, I know many people, even on this forum, who have a spouse or so that is not Orthodox and go their separate ways on Sunday.  And that may work for them; I know it would not have worked for me.  I believe that marriage is a martyrdom to each other for the sake of Christ, but it is not a sacrificing of the one true faith for matrimonial harmony and bliss which is what some couples do. 

I would also counsel you to be aware of a fact about divorces in this country.  This is from a friend of mine who is a divorce attorney.  Following infidelity and finances, the biggest reason for divorce is difference in religion.  Now, I'm not trying to scare you nor am I implying you would get a divorce, but I thought you should be mindful of the full spectrum of considerations.

She may very well become Orthodox.  She may very well not.  She may convert well after you're married.  She may very well not.  You have to be very acutely aware of these things.  God keep both you and her.  Good luck.
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« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2009, 05:53:02 PM »

I'm not saying that Christ does not save those outside of the Church, but that the salvation still occurs through Christ and His Church.

Ah, yes, fair enough. I agree. Thank you for clarifying. Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2009, 06:13:03 PM »

I'm not saying that Christ does not save those outside of the Church, but that the salvation still occurs through Christ and His Church.

Alveus,

I know that you are right, but haven't actually thought more deeply than this truth; other than Christ judges who are saved on what they have been rather than an intellectual decision they make. It might benefit others, too, if you would expound on this - how this occurs.  
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« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2009, 07:41:19 PM »

We cannot say who makes up the members of the invisible church.
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« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2009, 12:08:26 PM »

I'm not saying that Christ does not save those outside of the Church, but that the salvation still occurs through Christ and His Church.

Alveus,

I know that you are right, but haven't actually thought more deeply than this truth; other than Christ judges who are saved on what they have been rather than an intellectual decision they make. It might benefit others, too, if you would expound on this - how this occurs.  

I also would like to hear more about this - but I think this is relevant.

In the Orthodox Church (and please correct me if I'm wrong - despite being chrismated - I'm still learning), we believe that we are saved as a Church - in a corporate sense.  We believe that God judges us as a Church - so essentially - we are saved if we are a part of the Church - the Bride of Christ - with the possibility of some people being invisibly a part of that Church (i.e. non-Orthodox).  Orthodox Christians are visibly a part of the Church.  We are immersed with the teachings of the Church, have the Church as a guide, have the Church to administrate the sacraments to us.  We are priviledged to be a part of THE Church - the Bride of Christ - and I personally believe that since we have this knoledge and help from the Church - we will be judged accordingly - since we are aware and know the truth.  Therefore, since we have been given the beliefs of the Church - and have the Church to guide us - we will be judged accordingly.  (To whom much is given, much is expected. - Luke 12:48).  But that note aside, Protestants believe in being saved individually.  They believe that they do not need the Church to be saved.  Instead - they believe that we are judged individually - and that God will (at the judgement day) judge us based on the individual rather than whether you are a part of the Church (spiritually - not just physically - you can 'be' a part of the Orthodox Church and not be a part of The Church spiritually if you don't believe and don't follow Christ, just as you can be invisibly a part of The Church even if you aren't Orthodox).  Sorry - I know I'm rambling.  My point is - we have the Church to help us with our salvation.  We are given the tools and the means to be saved.  We essentially are on the 'Ship' to salvation - whereas non-Orthodox Christians are pretty much on their own (compare it to a rowboat - where they are rowing themselves to Salvation rather than having a corporate body - or ship - with the resources and necessary elements to reach Salvation.)

I hope this helps.  I can't reread this very well to see how well it flows because (for some reason) the reply box keeps on going up and down and I can't really see what I'm writing. 

I also second that you need to first work on your own salvation.  And when you're talking to her - don't inundate her with the details which may be very difficult to understand - unless she asks.  Show her your faith.  Talk about the common elements of faith.  And help her reach the premise to the point where she can understand what you are talking about with the finer details of our theology.  Protestants and Orthodox speak a different spiritual language, so to speak - so it is helpful to have her experience it first.
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« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2009, 12:15:24 PM »

I'm not sure what the criteria for Post of the Month is, but so far everyone has prefaced their post with a nod to Handmaiden's post.  Seems like a nomination to me.  Wink

Duly noted! Smiley  This is listed as the first PoM nominee for December.
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« Reply #27 on: December 06, 2009, 01:09:03 AM »

I'm not sure what the criteria for Post of the Month is, but so far everyone has prefaced their post with a nod to Handmaiden's post.  Seems like a nomination to me.  Wink

Duly noted! Smiley  This is listed as the first PoM nominee for December.

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« Reply #28 on: December 06, 2009, 01:10:26 AM »

laugh
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« Reply #29 on: December 06, 2009, 01:34:18 AM »

I know that you are right, but haven't actually thought more deeply than this truth; other than Christ judges who are saved on what they have been rather than an intellectual decision they make. It might benefit others, too, if you would expound on this - how this occurs.

I don't know how any of it works.  It seems that God judges corporately and individually, and we shouldn't try to think of it in either way exclusively.

I do want to be clear that I don't think that non-Orthodox or even non-Christians are somehow "good enough" for God and get some kind of a "pass" into Heaven or something like that based only on what they have done.  There aren't anonymous Christians.  However, I know that God is bigger than all of us, and I hope for the salvation of all.  I don't want to create a false dichotomy between "good works" and "faith", but I am not comfortable with the idea that people die and they somehow meet God's criteria for having done enough good with their lives to warrant salvation in His presence, despite never having heard the name of Christ.  I don't think people are necessarily hopelessly wicked or anything like that.

I'm totally rambling.  May God have mercy on us, and on the whole world!
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« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2009, 11:09:28 AM »

No one was ever "argued" into belief in anything. So I also concur with St. Theophan's advice to see to ourselves and our own sins.

A couple of thoughts: what about reading a book together, and discussing it? Perhaps "Facing East" by Frederica Mathewes-Green? An easy read but brings up interesting points for discussion.

Also, perhaps you could both go together to an Orthodox wedding of friends or family? The Orthodox marriage service is the most beautiful wedding service ever, and I always will feel a twinge of regret that we got married before becoming Orthodox.
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« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2009, 07:55:37 PM »

I'm not sure what the criteria for Post of the Month is, but so far everyone has prefaced their post with a nod to Handmaiden's post.  Seems like a nomination to me.  Wink

Duly noted! Smiley  This is listed as the first PoM nominee for December.

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Hm does that almost look like some kind of Orthodox cross that he is presenting him with??
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« Reply #32 on: December 07, 2009, 07:56:23 PM »

Quote
No one was ever "argued" into belief in anything.

This is incorrect.
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« Reply #33 on: December 07, 2009, 08:19:19 PM »

I'm not saying that Christ does not save those outside of the Church, but that the salvation still occurs through Christ and His Church.

Alveus,

I know that you are right, but haven't actually thought more deeply than this truth; other than Christ judges who are saved on what they have been rather than an intellectual decision they make. It might benefit others, too, if you would expound on this - how this occurs. 
As it was put to me - We are all responsible for the knowledge of God, which we acquire, in life. May we watch ourselves carefully, that we would make good use of that which we were given.
(I also subscribe to Handmaiden's view.)

NicholasL -
I have had much experience with this too! (now married to a woman 6 yrs. (with our two kids) raised in the Jehova's Witnesses and she converted shortly before we were married.) And one thing I can say for sure...Seek God! Care for His will and not your own in this matter. You may love this woman. Good! You can love her best by taking care for your own soul and praying for her's. Be mindful of your passions and let God's will be done in your relationship, whether it leads for you to be together or seperated. His will, not your's.
By taking this approach whatever will transform, will transform the both of you.
May our true and living God bless and keep you.
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« Reply #34 on: December 08, 2009, 10:20:37 AM »

Quote
No one was ever "argued" into belief in anything.

This is incorrect.

Of course, I only have my own experience to support this, but I still believe that it is correct. Someone else may present evidence or assertions that are compelling that may cause another to rethink their position and perhaps change their mind, but simply "arguing" that "I am right and you are wrong" is counterproductive and usually results in resentment. As evidenced on this very forum many times.
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« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2010, 01:37:59 AM »

Dear Nicholas,

It is certainly true arguing is seldom convincing and tends to make the other person resistant and defensive.

That said, with respect to the saints consider the Church who is the Body of Christ. What body has members which are not in communion with all its other members.  If I cut my thumb or stub my toe, the rest of my body is intimately aware of the injury and every part of my body works in some way to help and heal the injured member...even if it is by just being still so another attached member can minister in steadiness. And how does one member of my body know to help another injured member...by means of the head of course which directs all things concerning the body.  Does not Scripture tell us we gain understanding of spiritual things by way of natural analogy (seedsowing/harvest, parables of being watchful, shrewd or helpful)?

Is Christ's body joined together by the bonds of His Spirit? Did Christ conquer death, hell, and the grave or did He not? If He did then how can death ever sunder the unity of His Body which is forged and exists by His Spirit? Consider also the analogy of salvation with respect to the disciples drawing in full nets of fish (fishers of men). The apostles did not fish individually with rod and reel but collectively with nets. Why would this change for them with respect to preaching the Gospel...casting out nets of faith not hook line and sinkers. Thus our salvation is not just between us and Jesus, the saviour, but between us and the Church (living and reposed) who labor to drawn in the nets into the boat (the ark of salvation/church). Christ says let down your net here...but they throw the net over the schooling fish and draw it in.  In the Church we are saved...and are being saved personally, not individualistically but rather in relationship with all others being saved and those who labor in Christ to save us.

Also the Orthodox understanding of the content of salvation is a lot less forensic/courtroomy and a lot more therapeutic than the definition she might be used to. For us salvation is not freedom from the guilt of sin (as a lapse of moral law), but freedom from sin (as a defect/wound of our fallen nature) itself...that takes a lot longer to achieve...even to attempt than a moment of sincere mental assent to a truth proposition.

Just something to think about.
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« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2010, 04:27:39 PM »

The effects of Orthodoxy upon a woman are totally and completely different than what is received by a male. You will not reach her heart by arguing the benefits, historical purity or any other aspect of Orthodoxy.
When my dh and I were searching, we came to Orthodoxy (oddly at the same time but unaware of each others progress) in totally different ways. What moved him to tears oddly had no affect on me whatsoever. Each of us needs something in particular that is missing in the protestant equation, she might not even realize there are holes in her doctrine/theology/faith history.
If your beloved has not reached a point in life where her religious background has become less than adequate, and she isn't questioning its validity already-then no amount of arguing is going to persuade her otherwise. Your life before her might do that, but debating will not.

I agree with several of the posters here, you actively living the faith before her with fervor and dedication (not to be mistaken with arrogance and self righteousness) will have a far more profound affect. Even if she is not the one God intends for you, you will have planted a seed nonetheless.
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