My general feeling is that we can be saved just as the man on the cross next to Jesus was . He was not at the last supper and did not drink of his blood and body. I do believe in what communion means and partake it and do as my church says , but I also feel that those who do not or believe their way is good It is not for us to judge their way as "Deprived".
Our role is better served as blessed peacemakers and Lord knows I am a hypocrite who fails to do it too.
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Blessings and love, indeed I believe through the Grace and Mystery of God ALL can (and will) be saved, and when I was ministering on skid row with a miraculous Protestant group, I was condemned two-fold, for embracing the Saints and the Virgin, and for quieting fire and brimstone Bible thumpers who loved to revel in saying "Going to Hell" etc etc. In my heart, I have no right to say ANY person of ANY tradition or of no tradition at all is to be eternally condemned, and when confronted once by a person who asked rather angrily, "So Hitler should go to heaven?" My humble reply in the same sincere sentiments of Saint Francis and said, "Yes, and I would not want to go to a heaven that excluded ANY person for ANY reason."
It is my own spiritual understanding that the spiritual benefits of Orthodox Sacramental Theology are not necessary for the Grace of Eternal life, as this is a gift out of the gratuity of the love of God in sending us His Son on the Cross (Amen!). It is as you say, the Thief on the Right of the Cross received none of the Divine Mysteries, neither did any of the Prophets or Patriarchs of old, who believe and confess to be Saints! It is not only through our participation in the Divine Mysteries does God grant His Eternal Grace, but truly through His own Will and Grace alone, and nothing more or less.
But I think we all can admit and confess that the Buddha had a rather potent observation in concluding that the real
Hell is the suffering we experience here and now on the earth. I believe that only the Sacramental Theology (ie, Orthodox Baptism/Confirmation, Repentance/Confession, Communion, Ordination, Anointing, Marriage) are part of the Divine economy of the Grace of God to remove the suffering, hurt, baggage, pain, fear, judgment and condemnation which makes life on earth feel as heavy as any Hell. Sermons, Bible readings, prayers, fellowships and luncheons are not enough, even our fathers the Apostles confessed to our Lord, "How is it that we could not cast those demons out?" To cast out the demons and sins of our lives, we must enter into the Sacramental Time of God, through our active participation in the Divine Mysteries, and this is not of ourselves but only a gift of the Grace of God.
But Protestantism, and I say this having been raised a stern Baptist (and all that self-incrimination and fire and brimstone it implies) denies such Divine Mysteries as superstition and even blasphemy! The tradition of Protestantism (aside from Anglicanism and Lutherism which remains faithful in the Sacraments) defines itself precisely in its opposition to the Holy Tradition and the Divine Mysteries, and from my own experience the tradition of Protestantism itself does NOTHING to save the faithful from the suffering and Hell of our lives on earth in the midst of Satan and his evil armies. Sermons are wonderful, Bible reading is crucial, prayer is a gift, fellowship and luncheons keep our faith reaffirmed and our hearts flowing in joy, but these alone can not save a man from the binding traps of Sin, only the Divine Mysteries can do such! Unfortunately, and this is from my experience and observations, this is ALL the protestant tradition has to offer "With man this is impossible, but not with God, for nothing is impossible to God." (Our Lord and Savior)
This is precisely what led me to conversion, that the Grace of God came into my life and invited me into the Divine Mysteries. This does not negate the Protestants, the Orthodox have a lot to learn from many Protestant movements and communities about charity and faithful works, but nonetheless I must again confess that the Protestant tradition is deprived in that it deprives itself of the Divine Mysteries! Please do not misunderstand the word deprived and depraved, as deprived means to be missing something crucial or necessary, whereas depraved is immoral and lost, and I do believe you have confused the two terms which are by no means interchangeable and depraved was not my intention.
It is a difficult task to convince a protestant that their tradition is lacking while at the same time not insulting them or their belief system. Even if we ignore the protestant tradition altogether, and solely affirm our tradition as the most authentic or 'the fullness of faith', we are still asserting ours is superior to the other traditions, thereby seeming arrogant. How can we affirm the truth of Orthodoxy without demeaning others or their faith?
Honestly, the only way that I have gotten around this is to take an ecumenical approach. That is, I say that "it works for me" and not even assert the superiority of such. Of course with this approach, I risk conveying the attitude that any belief system or variant is ok, so long as it 'works for me'. This is a very sticky situation indeed.
agreed. I have found that to simply live the Orthodox life openly and honestly, teaching without preaching, through example and humility and delightful conversation, many folks begin to see Orthodox has something to it. Evangelism is not to go out in the streets and preach from the soap box (actually that is more like politics
) the true Evangelism of the Apostles is to live in the love and Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and share this love with all we meet. I have learned a great deal myself from many many faithful, wise and good folks of many traditions including Protestants and Jews and Muslims and kindhearted skeptics and agnostics. We should teach each other what wisdom from experience God has given us, demonstrating effectively the power of God operating in our lives.
In Rastafari we say "this world is like a mirror, reflect upon what you do, for if you face it smiling the whole world will smile with you."
If we spread this love and gladness and smile which God puts in our hearts, the natural curiosity of humanity will attract people to inquire what it is that makes us so content in a frightening and painful Multiverse..
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