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Author Topic: An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions  (Read 4682 times) Average Rating: 0
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TomS
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« on: December 31, 2003, 05:43:19 PM »

With all credit to Seraphim who posted a link to this article on eCafe.

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article8089.asp

I was stunned by this sentence:

"Orthodoxy recognizes and accepts the mandate to seek Truth and to follow the Holy Spirit wherever He leads, including in other religions or philosophies when his Truth is to be found there."

What? The Church teaches that there is only one truth and it is through Jesus Christ and delivered via the Orthodox Church!!

They held COUNCILS to refute this types of Heresy!

This paragraph alone undermines the whole teaching of the Church!!

Not to mention this:

"The pages that follow will explore a view of non-Chnistian religions from an Orthodox Christian perspective. This view holds firmly to the centrality of Christ, a doctrine which is not negotiable, yet acknowledges that salvation can be found outside Christianity.

"Those who live in faith and virtue, though outside the Church, receive God's loving grace and salvation.

Huh? So I should just become a Buddhist, because FAITH in Jesus Christ is not REQUIRED anymore?

And you wonder why I ask the questions I do?Huh?

Or maybe I am reading too much into this???

I find this very disturbing!
« Last Edit: December 31, 2003, 05:57:26 PM by Tom+ú » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2003, 05:54:30 PM »

I find it equally disturbing, and ironic that while the EO sometimes seem to strain at the gnat of listening to what I and my fellow Oriental Orthodox believe nevertheless it seems that such teachings as described here are fostered in the heart of Eastern Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2003, 05:59:17 PM »

I think it's mostly a badly worded way of saying that we cannot say where God's Grace will be, only that He has revealed to us that salvation is in the Church, outside of which we cannot say.

I would email the author of the statement and ask him for clarification.
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2003, 05:59:36 PM »

That is blasphemous.  

I think a barrage of emails to the GOA is in order.
http://www.goarch.org/en/archdiocese/contact/webcontact.asp

PLEASE, everyone write in!

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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2003, 06:02:02 PM »

But David, the author states that we follow the Holy Spirit "wherever He leads, including in other religions or philosophies when his Truth is to be found there"

This plainly states that the Church believes that TRUTH may also exist in non-Christian religions.

That goes against everything that I have ever heard ANY Christian Church teach.
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2003, 06:03:27 PM »

If it was one of use here writing a few words that might be easily expected to be the case, but this is a proto-priest, quoting Orthodox professors and scholars, and its published on an official site. It shouldn't be badly written at all.
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2003, 06:04:30 PM »

As I said, I am asking everyone to click that link I posted and give them a few words!

OC.net has a voice, and we need to make it known that what is posted is WRONG!

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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2003, 06:09:05 PM »

If that is what is implied then I agree with you, but I am still one for giving this the benefit of the doubt in that it was just poorly expressed.   I read it as urging Orthodox to not think that the Holy Spirit is not able to operate outside of The Church.  But on a second(and third reading)  perhaps you are correct.  I would urge anyone who contacts this person to be charitible and not assume that they deliberately posted this to lead Orthodox astray.
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2003, 06:18:46 PM »

Here is the message I sent:

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Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to request clarification on an article posted on the GOA webiste entitled "An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions" by Fr. George C. Papademetriou.  There are several disturbing statements that seem to be outside of the teachings of the Church.

"The pages that follow will explore a view of non-Chnistian religions from an Orthodox Christian perspective. This view holds firmly to the centrality of Christ, a doctrine which is not negotiable, yet acknowledges that salvation can be found outside Christianity."

"The pages that follow will explore a view of non-Chnistian religions from an Orthodox Christian perspective. This view holds firmly to the centrality of Christ, a doctrine which is not negotiable, yet acknowledges that salvation can be found outside Christianity."

From these statements, it appears that the author is asserting that faith in Jesus Christ is not required for salvation, which is contrary to the position of the Orthodox Church as I understand it, which is; The Church is the source of salvation revealed to the world by God and though God is not confined to only working within The Church we cannot say where outside of the Church God is present.  

Please forward this message to the author of the article if possible.

Cordially,

David Galloway
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2003, 06:20:10 PM »

Excellent! I sent my reply in as well, unfortunately I didn't cut and paste it, but I followed the same points that your article did. Thanks David!

Everyone else, send away!!

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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2003, 06:57:25 PM »

Everyone else, read carefully.

It is basic Christian doctrine that the Holy Spirit may act wherever and whenever. Presuming to constrain the activity of the Holy Spirit - to limit God Himself- is not the way. Orthodoxy recognizes and accepts the mandate to seek Truth and to follow the Holy Spirit wherever He leads, including in other religions or philosophies when his Truth is to be found there.[37]

Inclusion...that middle road, IS the Orthodox position.  GOD judges. MEN do not.  To say that only those in theOrthodox faith are saved is to say only the baptized go to Heaven...stop and put this in the perspective it deserves...No one on the board...among the Orthodox, will get up and say "The Church teaches unbaptized infants die and go to hell because they were not part of the Church!"  Rubbish! We say "The Church recognizes that God is merciful, and that HE may save whom he wishes..." SO IT IS HERE.

Bobby? Please tell me you think God is gonna say to....Mother Theresa..."You gave your life in service to Me and My sheep...but in the wrong church...thank you for playing, go to hell?"  

THAT is what this article points out...INCLUSION. That GOD can save whom He chooses...because He is God!!!! It's His game. He knows men's hearts...the judgment is His.  Stop baraging the GOA until you read the article with prayer, and your priest.

Evlogite.
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2003, 07:04:08 PM »

I understand your fear of indifferentism, Tom, but with all due respect I think you're overreacting.

First, about truth in non-Christian religions, one need not adopt the pathetic fallacy to be faithful to Christ! A Christian need not be threatened if Buddha, for example, taught something true like 'thou shalt do no murder'. All that means, and I think all this Greek Orthodox writer means, is the law of God is written in the heart of every man and you find manifestations of that wherever you go.

As for salvation, God is all-powerful and saves who He will. Damning somebody who through no fault of his own was outside the visible Church (quite different from apostasy - no, you can't just go off and become a non-Christian and think nothing of it) would be, in my view, unjust, the act of a god who is a monster and not worthy of our love and worship. Not God!

I understand one can believe that as opinion but AFAIK it isn't dogma in any of the ancient churches worth taking seriously and as I said I find it abhorrent.

Reminds me of the case of the American RC priest Fr Leonard Feeney, a popular writer among RCs in the 1940s who decided that extra Ecclesiam nulla salus meant everybody who wasn't registered at an RC (or BC, etc.) parish was hellbound, no ifs, ands or buts. And his mistake was he started saying it was the dogma of his church. The RC Church ended up excommunicating him* - and this was in 1952, back in the good old days before liberalism was in the ascendancy there.

*This was lifted before he died, out of charity.
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2003, 07:06:05 PM »

Vicki

The difference is that in your short post you make the position clear. The lengthy post on goarch does not make it clear and it does sound rather liberal and vague and wishy-washy. Official documents on official sites should not be ambiguous.
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2003, 07:24:05 PM »

Thank you, Sub-Deacon Peter. I remind everyone that the GOA website is a compliation of papers and articles that have appeared elsewhere, and that one looks suspiciously like someone's thesis.... The position is correct, but the article IS very badly worded.

I'll make it shorter for anyone who cares to restate the position:

God is All-Powerful
----We all agree
The All-Powerful CANNOT have limits placed on that power
----We all agree
To say God,  the All-Powerful, can ONLY save Orthodox Christians, is to limit Him.
----We all agree
Therefore, we cannot say, He can save ONLY Orthodox.

Q.E.D.

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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2003, 07:27:46 PM »

I second Peter.

To the casual reader who is less informed on such issues, he might actually THINK that what the article was saying was true verbatim.

Luckily, we all know the case about what the priest was [hopefully] trying to get across.

The GOA should really reword such an article, as not to lead people astray.

Bibby
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« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2003, 07:30:11 PM »

Indeed. Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2003, 07:31:42 PM »

As someone who writes theological stuff, but not a theologian (one whose prayer is true) I know how difficult and yet important it is to write very carefully to make sure that error is excluded and misunderstandings circumvented as far as possible. I do sympathise with the father writing this article but on a church website rather than a private or personal one it really is most important that material be even more carefully scanned before publication.
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« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2003, 07:36:16 PM »

I'm thinking it was never intended for the website...betting not...I'll give the webmaster a hiding for you....he liked our site today when I showed it to him....
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« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2004, 10:34:25 AM »

"It is basic Christian doctrine that the Holy Spirit may act wherever and whenever. Presuming to constrain the activity of the Holy Spirit - to limit God Himself- is not the way. Orthodoxy recognizes and accepts the mandate to seek Truth and to follow the Holy Spirit wherever He leads, including in other religions or philosophies when his Truth is to be found there.[37]

I don't have a problem with the idea that people from another religion can be saved through Grace. But I think when you use the term "when his Truth is to be found there" kinda sounds like it has been given (as opposed to assimilated or from standard social morals, i.e. "thou shalt not commit murder") to that religion directly by the Holy Spirirt. And if the Holy Spirit is going to work that way, then why do you need to become a Christian because the Holy Spirit has many flavors.

Bobby? Please tell me you think God is gonna say to....Mother Theresa..."You gave your life in service to Me and My sheep...but in the wrong church...thank you for playing, go to hell?"  

Well, I don't think any of us believe that the author is saying that it MUST be the Orthodox Church, but you should (must?) at least acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour IF you have been made aware of the Faith.

Wonder why the author felt the need to try to explain who God saves in the first place?
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« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2004, 02:37:21 PM »

We need to be Christian for the reasons the author outlined: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life."

That, by the way, was me, from memory, and may not match the text the author used....

The inclusion concept rejects the idea that it's a free for all....the author points out that that is pluralism...and only a few "out there" (my phrase) priests in the Orthodox Church believe that, just as exclusion, the limiting of the action of the Holy Spirit to the Orthodox ONLY...placing limits on God is only believed by a few extremists. He states, badly, and with much unclear preamble, that his point is inclusion.  

We ARE called to believe....that is clear...if we are NOT, then that is the heresy of pulralism...the Wiccans are just as valid as the Muslims are as valid as the Orthodox.  That is why the author, IMO, on a careful reading,  felt it necessary to try to explain  who God saves in the first place....to try to AVOID being accused of pluralism.

I wish to remind that the Church says we believe God CAN/ MAY save those He chooses, from anywhere.  NOT that we know He does....only that it is the supremest arrogance in US, MAN, the creation, to speak for the Creator in this...so...the Church says....WE, the Orthodox, are to follow the teaching of the Church.  This does not include judging the state of another's odds of salvation.

MEMO: Remember, please...the teaching of the Church concerning the three days Christ spent in Hades....those who had fallen asleep before Christ's incarnation were givien the opportunity to know Him, and accept Him, or reject Him, then.   Can we suppose those who were not given the opportunity to know Him after the Incarnation, due to circumstances such as religious persecution or remoteness, or death in youth, etc., will not be given that same opportunity to meet Him, and accept or reject Him?  A young Hindu, for example, who lived in a remote village, lived a life otherwise blameless, or no more so than most Christians, Wink  but who lived it without contact with a Bible, or an Orthodox Church...would we imagine Christ would be unmerciful? Or would we say...others were given the opportunity to know Him after death?

The point is....we do not know...we cannot know...consistently, the Church says, "Christ is Merciful"...They say this without saying "All religions are equally valid.  They are not.  "Grace and Truth come from Jesus Christ"

Did that answer your question, Tom?  It was a horribly written article.


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« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2004, 04:30:24 PM »

We need to be Christian for the reasons the author outlined: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life."

True, but didn't Christ also say "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me."

I understand the teaching of the church on Grace, and I agree with it. But sometimes in order to be "inclusive" this stuff is taken to far. And based upon how I read this article, I believe that this is one of those times.

Through the preaching of the truth of Jesus Christ, people of every race and language and culture and type come into the possession of eternal life. Christ alone is the way, the truth and the life; no ones come to the Father, except by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2004, 05:26:12 PM »

Correct, Tom....No one come to the Father except through Christ...BUT...the teaching of the Church is that those souls who did not have that opportunity (ie: unbaptized infants. etc) MAY be accorded God's Mercy in the same way that those who lived before Christ was incarnate, and MAY be accorded the opportunity to meet Him, and accept Him at the Judgment...BUT WE AS MAN do not know, so it is our job to be happily Orthodox, and NOT tell others they are damned for not knowing of Christ. Now, a deliberate REJECTION of Christ is different.
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« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2004, 03:58:21 PM »

I'm reading the new biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose now, and he, too, would find this statement very disturbing.

It's probably well-intentioned but obviously very garbled when it comes out.  It would be very naive to think Orthodox Christians would find this statement inocuous (as I'm guessing it was intended).

Those guys on East 79th Street and at HC/HC need to quit doing so many feel-good, ecumenical things.  It can really get them in trouble, not to mention cause them to lose parishioners!
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« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2004, 04:58:06 PM »

Take back the GOA!
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« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2004, 10:16:36 AM »

This article horrified me.  It needs to be taken down, re-worded, or replaced.  If this is indeed a position of the church, then Nektarios is correct, the GOA needs taken back.
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« Reply #25 on: November 23, 2012, 08:11:52 AM »

Do the EOs here at OC.net agree with above article?
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« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2012, 12:08:03 PM »

Do the EOs here at OC.net agree with above article?
What article?

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We're sorry, but that page doesn't exist…

Please double check the web address or use the search function on this page to find what you are looking for.

If you are certain you have the correct web address but are encountering an error, please contact the Department of Internet Ministries.

Thank you.
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« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2012, 12:52:39 PM »

The article may be found here. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8089

There is really nothing all that scandalous in this article, unless one has a faith not truly rooted in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #28 on: November 23, 2012, 01:13:04 PM »

Maybe the OP's link didn't work because it's,  um, almost a decade old? And the OP himself is long gone?

And as long as I'm here being snarky, hi everyone, I'm back! Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.   
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« Reply #29 on: November 23, 2012, 01:36:22 PM »

The article may be found here. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8089

There is really nothing all that scandalous in this article, unless one has a faith not truly rooted in Orthodoxy.
So you believe one can be saved without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
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« Reply #30 on: November 23, 2012, 05:35:21 PM »

The article may be found here. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8089

There is really nothing all that scandalous in this article, unless one has a faith not truly rooted in Orthodoxy.
So you believe one can be saved without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

This depends on what you mean by faith. What do you mean by having faith in Christ God?
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« Reply #31 on: November 23, 2012, 05:41:14 PM »

The article may be found here. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8089

There is really nothing all that scandalous in this article, unless one has a faith not truly rooted in Orthodoxy.
So you believe one can be saved without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

This depends on what you mean by faith. What do you mean by having faith in Christ God?
Believing in Him (I.e. His Divinity, His being the Savior, His being the sole source of Salvation, etc.).

Sorry if I am being too vague...
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« Reply #32 on: November 23, 2012, 06:10:08 PM »

Do the EOs here at OC.net agree with above article?

I don't, but I'm not an EO.
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« Reply #33 on: November 23, 2012, 06:24:31 PM »

The article may be found here. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8089

There is really nothing all that scandalous in this article, unless one has a faith not truly rooted in Orthodoxy.

Believe it or not, Cavaradossi, but there's room for some disagreement in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #34 on: November 23, 2012, 06:52:32 PM »

The question this brings to my mind is - How much is to live blissfully in the future life dependent on us?Like our sins/how we condition our inner-selves/recieve forgiveness/healing,etc.? .. How much is it really a matter of God saying "yes" or "no" to entrance of His Kingdom?
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« Reply #35 on: November 24, 2012, 06:15:31 PM »

The article may be found here. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8089

There is really nothing all that scandalous in this article, unless one has a faith not truly rooted in Orthodoxy.
So you believe one can be saved without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

This depends on what you mean by faith. What do you mean by having faith in Christ God?
Believing in Him (I.e. His Divinity, His being the Savior, His being the sole source of Salvation, etc.).

Sorry if I am being too vague...
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« Reply #36 on: November 24, 2012, 06:39:46 PM »

Do the EOs here at OC.net agree with above article?

Severian, if medals were awarded for most thread reusrrections, yours would be gold. Cheers.
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« Reply #37 on: November 24, 2012, 06:44:54 PM »

Do the EOs here at OC.net agree with above article?

Severian, if medals were awarded for most thread reusrrections, yours would be gold. Cheers.
Why, thank you. Cool
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« Reply #38 on: November 24, 2012, 06:46:16 PM »

If anyone is saved, it will be by Christ. Now, what they bring to the table in synergy with the Savior is another matter. I don't think we're qualified to judge how non-believers will stand at the judgment. We have to worry about ourselves. But we know that God wills that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Foremost, this means being received into the Orthodox Church and partaking of the Sacraments. But time is short, resources are limited, the person's understanding is hampered in many ways. Clearly, there are people who seek after and love God who have never in in an Orthodox church or even heard of Orthodoxy. I think we can say confidently that God knows who they are, what they need, and how to help them in his own mysterious ways. "Those who seek the Lord shall find him; their hearts shall live forever."
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« Reply #39 on: November 24, 2012, 06:50:57 PM »

^I understand what you mean. Still, I think that it is reasonable to say that God will not treat an ignorant non-believer the same way He would treat, let's say, a Muslim who willfully blasphemes against our Lord Jesus Christ by denying Him of His proper glory as God.

I mean, is there any sin greater than reducing the Creator of Heaven and Earth to the status of a mere Prophet?
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« Reply #40 on: November 24, 2012, 07:32:09 PM »

^I understand what you mean. Still, I think that it is reasonable to say that God will not treat an ignorant non-believer the same way He would treat, let's say, a Muslim who willfully blasphemes against our Lord Jesus Christ by denying Him of His proper glory as God.

I mean, is there any sin greater than reducing the Creator of Heaven and Earth to the status of a mere Prophet?

Blashpmizing against the Holy Spirit, or so ive heard.


Not to mention, denying that God exists.
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« Reply #41 on: November 24, 2012, 07:44:20 PM »

Maybe the OP's link didn't work because it's,  um, almost a decade old? And the OP himself is long gone?

And as long as I'm here being snarky, hi everyone, I'm back! Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.   

I did, thanks. So happy to see you again!  Kiss Grin
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« Reply #42 on: November 25, 2012, 12:43:36 AM »

^I understand what you mean. Still, I think that it is reasonable to say that God will not treat an ignorant non-believer the same way He would treat, let's say, a Muslim who willfully blasphemes against our Lord Jesus Christ by denying Him of His proper glory as God.

I mean, is there any sin greater than reducing the Creator of Heaven and Earth to the status of a mere Prophet?

Well, this sort of leaves all Muslims to condemnation, because if one is a faithful Mohammedan, one of course believes what one has been taught. But there are many Muslims who do not hate Christians or Christianity. There are even some Mohammedans who evangelize to their faith without dishonest means. At least one Orthodox priest, a former Mohammedan, became a Christian through verses from the Koran on the Mother of God. If one ponders the teaching of Mohammed, one can find enough of the truth there to lead one away from the lies.

"Remembrance of God is the cure for the heart," Mohammed said.
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« Reply #43 on: November 25, 2012, 12:51:01 PM »

Do the EOs here at OC.net agree with above article?

Severian, if medals were awarded for most thread reusrrections, yours would be gold. Cheers.

Tied with Asteriktos.
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« Reply #44 on: November 25, 2012, 10:00:46 PM »

Maybe the OP's link didn't work because it's,  um, almost a decade old? And the OP himself is long gone?

And as long as I'm here being snarky, hi everyone, I'm back! Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.   
Greetings from earth!
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