It recently dawned on me that in our Orthodox Church we have in a way a split personality. It seems there are two categories of Orthodox believers: those who are born into Orthodoxy and those who are called "Converts".
And no matter how long a person has been part of the Orthodox Church, if they got baptized and/or chrismated when they were barely the age of accountability, and are 99 years old now, they still will be referred to and 'classified' as Convert.
I'm always told on this forum that it doesn't really matter what the Bible says. Important is what the Holy Tradition says. So, may I ask those who are familiar and have access to those Holy Traditional Writings, what do the Fathers say about this?
To my simple understanding, a person who comes to believe in Jesus Christ and is baptized and/or chrismated into the Orthodox Faith , becomes a new creature in Christ, according to the words of our Church Father and Holy Apostle Paul, as documented in His second letter to the Church in Corinth. (" Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.")
And again Saint Paul speaks to the believers in Ephesus as recorded in his letter to them - and I can only quote him from the Holy Scriptures, my apologies to those who would rather have me refer to something in the other Patristic Writings) - " Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12. That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13. But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
So, in the Orthodox Church, is the one who is "born into it" because he had parents who belonged to the Orthodox Faith already , of greater value than the one who has come to the Faith after birth and by his personal decision?
If indeed a person's sins are forgiven and the blood of Christ has made atonement, why do we keep referring to their former state?
Aren't we all considered sinners until the day we die?
Are Orthodox priests, who once have been, let's say, Baptists many years ago, less "authentic" Orthodox than priests who have been born, raised and always remained Orthodox?
And could someone please tell me what, according to the Writings of the Fathers in the Holy Tradition of the Church, is the commission of the Orthodox Church in regard to what is commonly called 'the great commission' ? Some say, to make disciples, some followers of Christ, some converts.
I am only aware of what the Apostle Saint Paul says in his writings that are part of the official Canon of the Bible. In his letters to the Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians and Thessalonians he uses the Greek word 'mimetes' which means imitators and is commonly translated as followers. He exhorts the believers to become followers. I understand that to do so, someone has to 'convert' (Greek epistrepho) which the Apostle Saint Mark connects with having one's sins forgiven in Mark 4:12, and that to me is a good thing.
So, why do we keep pointing out 'converts' if in the end, we all have become converts anyhow?