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Author Topic: What is "The Gospel" to Orthodox Christians? *LONG post/story/rant*  (Read 11923 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 17, 2011, 10:39:02 PM »

Lately I've been watching many Youtube videos from this man Chris White, who goes on YouTube by the name of Knowwheretorun1984. He is a highly skilled Evangelical Christian apologist who is well versed in end time prophecy and conspiracy theories (interests of mine),as well as refutations of New Age and occult practices of the current era.

I posted a thread recently where I linked to his video about 2012, and in it he elaborated on how he believes that in the end times the Antichrist will deceive the established churches (ie, Catholic and Orthodox) into believing the Antichrist. I recently Youtube messaged him. This is what I sent to him.

"Hello Chris,

First off I would like to say that I think that your videos are very interesting and many of them I enjoy very much. Today I watched your 2012 "enlightenment" videos, and I came across the claim you made where you said that the institutional churches will accept this supposed Christ and that the Bible is wrong. By this do you mean that all Catholic and Orthodox leaders are not true Christians? Do you think that no Catholic or Orthodox is a true Christian? If so, what are the marks of a true Christian?
"

This is the audio response that he sent me. Please listen to it before replying, as he makes claims about the Orthodox Church specifically.
http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheretorun/email/New%20folder/malive.mp3

In response, this is what I wrote to him.

"Thanks for replying, I cant say I agree with everything you have said, but I do thank you for replying.

There are a couple points that I would like to raise.

The main reason that Catholics and Orthodox don't stress a single conversion experience is because that it wasnt really taught in the early church fathers. The majority of ancient fathers interpreted the discourse on rebirth with Jesus and Nicodemus as referring to baptism. Catholics and Orthodox (Orthodox especially)stress "daily" conversion experiences, saying that one should die to themselves every day. You see the single conversion experience logic arising out of the Great Awakening era in Christian history.

Lets put it like this. One is born a Christian, baptized as a baby, raised by his parents and his clergy in the tenets of the faith. He lives a truly Christian life, trust in Christ for his salvation, and truly has deeds to show for it. Is he not a Christian just because he never had an initial conversion experience?

Another point I would like to raise is that of the penal satisfaction theory of Christ's atonement that you mentioned.

The more you study Christian history the more you see that there are several different "theories" on what Christ's salvific work on the cross accomplished. Some, however, arose later than others. Penal satisfaction (that is, the idea that God poured out his wrath on Christ as he suffered on the cross)is one of those "late-comers". You see references to a "substitutionary" element in the Bible and the Fathers (especially Augustine), but it was truly elaborated upon in the 11th century by Archbishop of Canterbury Anselm. It was then developed even more by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. I myself believe that no theory on what happened on the cross can truly explain it in full.

Here is a good article on the atonement and the many different viewpoints of the early Christians, from an Orthodox point of view:
http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A.php?c=Salvation-The%20Atonement

And on interpreting the Bible allegorically, I think there are many passages in the Bible which could be interpreted as allegory, but when it comes to the life and teachings of Christ, there is no room for compromise. If someone comes along and claims that Christ was only one of many who reached a certain "Christ consciousness", and that that someone is that consciousness in the flesh, I highly doubt anyone in the Orthodox and Catholic camps will believe that, as its basically separating the Jesus from the Christ, which is exactly what Nestorius (condemned as a heretic by the Council of Ephesus)did. And even if many high-level ecumenist Orthodox and Catholic leaders accept this, I am almost certain that many monks, humble laity, clergy, and other bishops will never fall for it.

Thank you again for responding. I hope we can continue this discussion, and I hope you will reply again soon.
"

I'm sure it was an alright response, but Im not even sure if I meant what I've said. I read Volnutt's new thread yesterday and I am in his EXACT position. I have trained myself to think that the Orthodox view of Christianity is the correct view, without actually examining it in the Bible and actually reading the Fathers myself. To quote Volnutt, in my response to Chris I spit out the "pop-Orthodox apologetic", honestly without even understanding what I was saying.

Back to my main point, what Chris stressed most in his audio response, for those of you who listened to it have heard, is "the Gospel". He blatantly said that Orthodox Christians do not teach "the Gospel", which in his view is penal satisfaction/substitution; that God needed to punish sinners, and he instead gave us His Son, who was crucified, being punished in our place so God's wrath could be satisfied, and that if we believe in faith that Jesus died for our sins, and if we truly repent, we are saved.

A simple look at the Bible for any person can show that THIS is the message of salvation preached in the Bible. The Bible says clearly that the penalty for sin is death. Yes Jesus broke death in his resurrection, but it was in his death that he paid the penalty.

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified. Where is the simple message of salvation that the Bible seems to teach in Orthodoxy? Whatever happened to "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"? Why does understanding Orthodoxy require so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology, whatever; why has Orthodoxy made a science out of the simple Gospel message that should be understood by any five year old?

In my heart I have known for a while that the Bible (the way I see it at least) and Orthodoxy don't seem to match up in my eyes. I WANT to believe Orthodoxy is true, I really do. I have seen so much beauty and wonderful tradition in Orthodoxy, I really want to believe its right. Maybe that's what it has come to, what I MYSELF want. I want liturgy, smells and bells, chanting, tradition, ancient-ness, history, etc; but is that what GOD wants for me? Honestly, I really dont know. Its hard for me to hear the voice of God.

Maybe I need to talk to a priest, visit a church, sit in on a catechism class, maybe read through a catechism myself. But as for now, I just cant see the message of Orthodox salvation matching up with the Gospel that is preached in the Bible.

So, after my rant, maybe I have it all wrong. If I do, tell me, what is "the Gospel" to an Orthodox? And is it really the Gospel that is preached in the Bible?

PS- I know that some of the things I have said seem very judgemental and critical of Orthodoxy. That is not what I intend. I am truly struggling with this.
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2011, 10:54:00 PM »

Why would God punish the sinner and not the sin?
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2011, 11:39:16 PM »

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified. Where is the simple message of salvation that the Bible seems to teach in Orthodoxy? Whatever happened to "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"? Why does understanding Orthodoxy require so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology, whatever; why has Orthodoxy made a science out of the simple Gospel message that should be understood by any five year old?

Sure sign of too much time with hyper / netodox.

Quote
The Orthodox Gospel Sung Joyfully by the Theotokos:

Luke 1:46-55
New King James Version (NKJV)
  
46 And Mary said:

      “ My soul magnifies the Lord,
       47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
       48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
      For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
       49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
      And holy is His name.
       50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
      From generation to generation.
       51 He has shown strength with His arm;
      He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
       52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
      And exalted the lowly.
       53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
      And the rich He has sent away empty.
       54 He has helped His servant Israel,
      In remembrance of His mercy,
       55 As He spoke to our fathers,
      To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

The Orthodox Gospel Sung with Joy by 5 year olds to 95 year olds with joy unimaginable in small parish in Cincinnati:

Quote
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

Go through Lent, Holy Week, and arrive at Pascha.

And tell me you really have to nerd out to understand all this. In fact, all that nerd stuff will feel foolish in the celebration. I am a cynical ass and thought for sure Pascha would be corny.

It wasn't. As my buddy said with no irony, none, looking at me with sincerity: This is better than Christmas.

Can we bring that Lenten to Paschal movement everyday into our lives, especially from Great Vespers to the Divine Liturgy?

The last enemy is destroyed! We are free! If we are willing to die to ourselves and the world. It's that last part that is the one we don't want. The kicker.

Spend time with a Priest who will knock the Philokalia right out of you. Are you following the Decalog? How about the Sermon on the Mount?

Five years olds seem to understand that stuff and I won't romanticize and say they "do it" better, but they sure seem to has less trouble accepting it. Or getting side tracked by everything we do.

Hope that is helpful.

I too want to tear my hair at times over the minutia. But why am I engaging it in the first place? Cause I want to avoid the dead simplicity. I would rather think and rant than pray and act.

FWIW.

 





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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2011, 11:42:28 PM »

Here's my problem with this evangelical. He references the Council of Ephesus, Nestorious as a heretic, references some Church fathers etc, but doesn't that honestly beg the question on the actual Church of Christ? There are quite a number of Orthodox on this board who were thorougly convinced of the historical backing of the Orthodox Church and seeing it had a direct apostolic continuation and the Church was unified up until a few schisms. It almost sounds like the Church cannot be trusted, which is why we see think tanks like the Jesus Seminar come to prominence.

This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards. The Church existed before the Bible and by the Church's tradition came the 27 books of the NT. This is undisputable. If the Church had no tradition to fall back on, how else would it select 4 Gospels instead of the many other "Gospels" out there?

The Church authored, interprets, discerns, etc the Bible. The Bible can only be placed in one context: The Church. Outside of that, it has no foundation whatsoever.
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 11:47:33 PM »

Here's my problem with this evangelical. He references the Council of Ephesus, Nestorious as a heretic, references some Church fathers etc, but doesn't that honestly beg the question on the actual Church of Christ? There are quite a number of Orthodox on this board who were thorougly convinced of the historical backing of the Orthodox Church and seeing it had a direct apostolic continuation and the Church was unified up until a few schisms. It almost sounds like the Church cannot be trusted, which is why we see think tanks like the Jesus Seminar come to prominence.

This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards. The Church existed before the Bible and by the Church's tradition came the 27 books of the NT. This is undisputable. If the Church had no tradition to fall back on, how else would it select 4 Gospels instead of the many other "Gospels" out there?

The Church authored, interprets, discerns, etc the Bible. The Bible can only be placed in one context: The Church. Outside of that, it has no foundation whatsoever.

I was the one who mentioned Nestorius. The italic is my writing. For HIS response to my initial question, I posted a link to an audio response he made.
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 11:53:34 PM »

Here's my problem with this evangelical. He references the Council of Ephesus, Nestorious as a heretic, references some Church fathers etc, but doesn't that honestly beg the question on the actual Church of Christ? There are quite a number of Orthodox on this board who were thorougly convinced of the historical backing of the Orthodox Church and seeing it had a direct apostolic continuation and the Church was unified up until a few schisms. It almost sounds like the Church cannot be trusted, which is why we see think tanks like the Jesus Seminar come to prominence.

This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards. The Church existed before the Bible and by the Church's tradition came the 27 books of the NT. This is undisputable. If the Church had no tradition to fall back on, how else would it select 4 Gospels instead of the many other "Gospels" out there?

The Church authored, interprets, discerns, etc the Bible. The Bible can only be placed in one context: The Church. Outside of that, it has no foundation whatsoever.

I was the one who mentioned Nestorius. The italic is my writing. For HIS response to my initial question, I posted a link to an audio response he made.

Ah gotcha, sorry I jumped over the link and saw the second italic an went off that. I'll check the audio later tonight/tomorrow.

Again sorry for my terrible reading comprehension.

EDIT: Some of that response was for Volnutt too.
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 11:57:48 PM »

I will try to answer more in depth later. For now I will only respond to your comments about the Orthodox view of salvation being more complex than the Evangelical idea:

I strongly disagree. The Orthodox view of salvation is very simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. [Acts 16:13] Evangelicals take this statement and turn it into to a forensic adjudication, a moment in linear time, a rationalistic syllogism, and a systematic formula. But Orthodoxy does not complicate the matter.

The Gospel is simple: Christ died for sinners (I Peter 3:18), He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4), and He established His apostolic Church (St. Matthew 16:18). Therefore we must cling to the Cross, trust in the Resurrection, and participate in the sacramental life of His Church. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), feeling secure in the unfailing mercy of God (Psalm 136) and offering this grace to all the world (Revelation 22:17).

It is also worth noting that we Orthodox affirm the simplicity of Our Lord's words. When Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," [St. John 6:53] we do not seek to interpret His words according to our mortal logic; we accept what He says with simple faith.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.


Selam
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2011, 12:09:57 AM »

I'm sure it was an alright response, but Im not even sure if I meant what I've said. I read Volnutt's new thread yesterday and I am in his EXACT position. I have trained myself to think that the Orthodox view of Christianity is the correct view, without actually examining it in the Bible and actually reading the Fathers myself.

So read the Fathers. Seriously.

With where you are at right now, anything that one of us could fit into a message board post is likely to come across as 'pop-Orthodox apologetic'--not that I think you are asking in bad faith, that's just the way it is.

Go read some of the basic Patristic texts--St. Ignatius' Letter's, St. Cyprian's 'on the Unity of the Catholic Church' and above all St. Athanasius 'On the Incarnation.' These are all available in fairly cheap editions--or if you can't afford that but are willing to put up with a slightly old-fashioned translation they are available for free online (see, for example, http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html).

The core of the Orthodox faith is very simple--you could just quote John 1:1-14  (or the Nicene creed) and you've got it. There are plenty of Orthodox faithful and Orthodox saints who were illiterate--understanding Orthodoxy does *not* require "so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology,"--that's the Sola Scriptura folks who close the door on anyone who doesn't meet a minimum education level.  

But Orthodoxy has had 2000 years for some very smart and very spiritual people to meditate on all the implications of those amazing words "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. "--and to seek to share their insights. For those who are capable of using it (and more important *ready* to use it), that meat (cf. Heb 5:12-14) is an incredible treasury. But if you're confused, it's because you are trying to climb into those heights without having built the foundation first. So go to Liturgy, listen to the hymns and the psalms and the scripture readings which go together in a seamless flow. Go home and read 'On the Incarnation.' It will help.
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2011, 12:26:27 AM »

Or to answer you even more simply - the Gospel:
"Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3



But the thing is, when you are talking about 'knowing' the Infinite God, there is always more to know. A five year old knows Jesus, and that's a perfect example of the Gospel. But the 5-year old doesn't just freeze their knowledge at that point. It continues to grow and deepen throughout the Christian life to whatever level one is capable of.


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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2011, 12:29:15 AM »

Quote
This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards.

This is true.  When I first realized this, it made me feel so much better about not calling myself a protestant anymore.  Maybe Im wrong, but I dont think the Bible was ever designed to be a catechism for the Christian faith.  It doesnt clearly instruct us on how to do every little thing.

Scripture can definitely seem like it contradicts itself from time to time.  The whole reason we are even having this discussion is because even salvation itself can be interpreted different ways. On one page, it says to 'believe and you will be saved'.  On another page, it says 'faith without works is dead', or 'work out your salvation'. Both sides have an adequate amount of scripture to back up their points.  THIS is why tradition is SO important.  The Tradition predates the Bible.  And the Bible is best understood within the context of that Tradition.  

This is how I understand it, but I could be wrong.  If I am, let me know.
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2011, 12:48:37 AM »

Quote
This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards.

This is true.  When I first realized this, it made me feel so much better about not calling myself a protestant anymore.  Maybe Im wrong, but I dont think the Bible was ever designed to be a catechism for the Christian faith.  It doesnt clearly instruct us on how to do every little thing.

Scripture can definitely seem like it contradicts itself from time to time.  The whole reason we are even having this discussion is because even salvation itself can be interpreted different ways. On one page, it says to 'believe and you will be saved'.  On another page, it says 'faith without works is dead', or 'work out your salvation'. Both sides have an adequate amount of scripture to back up their points.  THIS is why tradition is SO important.  The Tradition predates the Bible.  And the Bible is best understood within the context of that Tradition.  

This is how I understand it, but I could be wrong.  If I am, let me know.


Excellent points.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDezrybpuO8&feature=player_embedded

Selam
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2011, 02:02:03 AM »

I will try to answer more in depth later. For now I will only respond to your comments about the Orthodox view of salvation being more complex than the Evangelical idea:

I strongly disagree. The Orthodox view of salvation is very simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. [Acts 16:13] Evangelicals take this statement and turn it into to a forensic adjudication, a moment in linear time, a rationalistic syllogism, and a systematic formula. But Orthodoxy does not complicate the matter.

The Gospel is simple: Christ died for sinners (I Peter 3:18), He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4), and He established His apostolic Church (St. Matthew 16:18). Therefore we must cling to the Cross, trust in the Resurrection, and participate in the sacramental life of His Church. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), feeling secure in the unfailing mercy of God (Psalm 136) and offering this grace to all the world (Revelation 22:17).

It is also worth noting that we Orthodox affirm the simplicity of Our Lord's words. When Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," [St. John 6:53] we do not seek to interpret His words according to our mortal logic; we accept what He says with simple faith.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.

Selam


I would go one step further and claim it is not simplly the complication of the gospel that they are guilty of, but the intellectualization of it, which I think is just as tragic, if not more so.


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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2011, 02:06:39 AM »

I will try to answer more in depth later. For now I will only respond to your comments about the Orthodox view of salvation being more complex than the Evangelical idea:

I strongly disagree. The Orthodox view of salvation is very simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. [Acts 16:13] Evangelicals take this statement and turn it into to a forensic adjudication, a moment in linear time, a rationalistic syllogism, and a systematic formula. But Orthodoxy does not complicate the matter.

The Gospel is simple: Christ died for sinners (I Peter 3:18), He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4), and He established His apostolic Church (St. Matthew 16:18). Therefore we must cling to the Cross, trust in the Resurrection, and participate in the sacramental life of His Church. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), feeling secure in the unfailing mercy of God (Psalm 136) and offering this grace to all the world (Revelation 22:17).

It is also worth noting that we Orthodox affirm the simplicity of Our Lord's words. When Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," [St. John 6:53] we do not seek to interpret His words according to our mortal logic; we accept what He says with simple faith.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.

Selam


I would go one step further and claim it is not simplly the complication of the gospel that they are guilty of, but the intellectualization of it, which I think is just as tragic, if not more so.



Too much rationalism for me. I'd like to live out what I feel is a simple faith.
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2011, 03:31:47 AM »

I will try to answer more in depth later. For now I will only respond to your comments about the Orthodox view of salvation being more complex than the Evangelical idea:

I strongly disagree. The Orthodox view of salvation is very simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. [Acts 16:13] Evangelicals take this statement and turn it into to a forensic adjudication, a moment in linear time, a rationalistic syllogism, and a systematic formula. But Orthodoxy does not complicate the matter.

The Gospel is simple: Christ died for sinners (I Peter 3:18), He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4), and He established His apostolic Church (St. Matthew 16:18). Therefore we must cling to the Cross, trust in the Resurrection, and participate in the sacramental life of His Church. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), feeling secure in the unfailing mercy of God (Psalm 136) and offering this grace to all the world (Revelation 22:17).

It is also worth noting that we Orthodox affirm the simplicity of Our Lord's words. When Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," [St. John 6:53] we do not seek to interpret His words according to our mortal logic; we accept what He says with simple faith.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.

Selam


I would go one step further and claim it is not simplly the complication of the gospel that they are guilty of, but the intellectualization of it, which I think is just as tragic, if not more so.



Too much rationalism for me. I'd like to live out what I feel is a simple faith.

Ya there is plenty of room in Odoxy to live the simple faith, and plenty of room to grow in knowledge and wisdom as well for those who seek it as well.
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2011, 07:17:00 AM »

The Good News Christ proclaimed was not "God is going to punish me, and here is the theory behind it" but "repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."

Living the way of Christ, following Him, is the message He preached. If we truly follow Him, we follow Him to a cross; scripture speaks of two crosses: His and ours. We follow Him to the Church He established before He ascended. If we seek with all our heart we may find Him, receive of His body and blood, and become partakers of His divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).

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in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2011, 09:20:56 AM »

Back to my main point, what Chris stressed most in his audio response, for those of you who listened to it have heard, is "the Gospel". He blatantly said that Orthodox Christians do not teach "the Gospel", which in his view is penal satisfaction/substitution; that God needed to punish sinners, and he instead gave us His Son, who was crucified, being punished in our place so God's wrath could be satisfied, and that if we believe in faith that Jesus died for our sins, and if we truly repent, we are saved.

I apologize in advance, I wasn't able to open the link but will comment on this.

This "gospel" leaves little to no room for the resurrection to mean anything. The reason "anyone" can find this in scripture is because anyone can find anything they want in scripture and many people are ta ught that the scripture says nothing but this, that is why it is so "easy to find" and "clear". The reason that we have "complicated" the gospel (which we really haven't, just listen to the entire anaphora in the liturgy, it's not very long and pretty simple) is because we are trying to use human words to affirm and express a divine reality and also in response to errors that have come up over the centuries. The Gospel isn't a theory, it's (literally) God in the flesh being brutally tortured and bled to death on a cross, being raised from the dead, ascending into heaven, and coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead. By being united to Him in His suffering and death and being conformed to Him, we inherit His life that He offers us.
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2011, 09:35:44 AM »

Too much rationalism for me. I'd like to live out what I feel is a simple faith.

Nothing simpler than an illiterate grandmother or child just lighting a candle and receiving the Eucharist.
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« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2011, 01:25:44 AM »

Too much rationalism for me. I'd like to live out what I feel is a simple faith.

Nothing simpler than an illiterate grandmother or child just lighting a candle and receiving the Eucharist.
lol that's not what I mean.

I feel that Christianity at it's core is very simple in how one should live their lives. You can complicate that with all kinds of theology, fine, but I think the Gospel is pretty clear and simple to me. It becomes hard when you have to conform with what it says...
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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2011, 11:46:35 AM »

It becomes hard when you have to conform with what it says...

Excellent! And so true...
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2011, 04:25:20 PM »

Thanks for all the replies everyone. Some stuff just still doesnt add up to me.

For example, when I read Romans chapter 3, it says that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. To me Orthodox theosis and the idea that one must be fully sanctified to be really saved sounds like earning one's way into heaven. I actually saw a video where an Orthodox monk said specifically that the point of this life is to "earn" the next. Romans chapter 3 says that we cant earn salvation though, because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Romans 3 also says that Christ's blood is propitiation for our sins. The OSB study note on this verse compares the word "propitiation" to the ancient Jewish practice, where the high priest would offer up an animal and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat to atone for the sins of Israel. The note said that Christ, through his ascension to heaven (the real mercy seat), is our propitiation(paraphrased of course). That to me sounds a LOT like penal satisfaction.

Also, the St. Paul does say that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin", and compares Christ to the OT sacrifices. Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins? Why then wouldn't Christ's sacrifice (which is so often compared to the OT system of sacrifice)be the same?

Does not the Anaphora in the DL imply some sort of propitiation?
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« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2011, 04:30:54 PM »

Does not the Anaphora in the DL imply some sort of propitiation?

Which part??
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2011, 08:51:53 PM »

I could be wrong, but I think when you hear people mention "works" in regard to salvation, its different than when the Bible mentions "works of the law."  I think that means all of the old jewish traditions and stuff.   Maybe you know that already though...

I know this sounds cliche, but what about the other verses that mention works?  Thats why I mentioned the importance of understanding the scriptures within the context of the Church's Tradition. The Orthodox church has understood it this way since the beginning, and they were founded during the time that all this stuff was written.  I think they had a better understanding than the more modern Christians. 

And also, Im not sure that even the Orthodox believe that you are saved based on the merit of your works.  You are saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.  The works are evidence of that faith.  How can you have real faith and not do good works?  If you dont do good works, maybe you dont really have faith....

I may be wrong, so you can feel free to completely ignore this... heck, im not even Orthodox yet.  Ha!
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« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2011, 08:53:06 PM »

Thanks for all the replies everyone. Some stuff just still doesnt add up to me.

For example, when I read Romans chapter 3, it says that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. To me Orthodox theosis and the idea that one must be fully sanctified to be really saved sounds like earning one's way into heaven. I actually saw a video where an Orthodox monk said specifically that the point of this life is to "earn" the next.
I know the video you're talking about, I think the subtitles are badly translated from the Romanian by someone who doesn't speak English well. The words meant might have been "attain to" or "arrive at" or even "be worthy of" which are all Biblical expressions.

Either way, I know what you struggle about because I've been through it as well. I think the problem is what I've come to call, "salvation as a math problem." I can't count how many times I've heard something like, "if you add even one ounce of your own free will effort to your salvation, then you believe you earn your salvation. You have something to boast about. Salvation is God's effort 120%."

But if that choice itself is even a gift of God, how can I truly boast? To use a friend's analogy, if I win that race, it's only because God gave me a rocket belt. Orthodoxy does not believe in salvation by works, only in saying to Jesus, "I want to follow you, give me the strength and I'll walk with you as best I can, Lord." He leads us step by step, but He also gives us the choice to give up, to not follow Him. Maybe I'm naive, but to me it just doesn't seem meaningful to say someone has room to boast just because they didn't spit Jesus out of their mouth and stop trying. God picks us up, God carries us, and God will save us in the end. We just have to extend our hand like the beggar we are, to keep showing up.


Look at the icon of the Descent into Hades. Look how Jesus takes Adam and Eve, all humanity, not by the hand but by the wrist. We can only follow Him because He is keeping our legs working.

Synergeia is not 1+1, God's works and ours. That's like saying the Trinity is three gods because 1+1+1=3.

I hope I've been a help.
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2011, 09:31:20 PM »

For example, when I read Romans chapter 3, it says that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

The "works of the law" means primarily being being circumcised, eating kosher, performing the Jewish sacrafices, etc... all the stuff that Christ abolished on the cross. We are saved by our faith in Christ, not by the animals that we offer up or an aversion to pork and shellfish.

Quote
To me Orthodox theosis and the idea that one must be fully sanctified to be really saved sounds like earning one's way into heaven.

It just means that we must be conformed to Christ by the power of the Holuy Spirit.

Quote
I actually saw a video where an Orthodox monk said specifically that the point of this life is to "earn" the next.

Christ Himself used a lot of language that included words like "reward".

Quote
Romans chapter 3 says that we cant earn salvation though, because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".

Jesus said "without Me you can do nothing". It doesn't mean we don't have to do anything, only that it is in Him that anything is really accomplished and without Him nothing counts. God doesn't "owe" anyone anything.

Quote
Romans 3 also says that Christ's blood is propitiation for our sins. The OSB study note on this verse compares the word "propitiation" to the ancient Jewish practice, where the high priest would offer up an animal and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat to atone for the sins of Israel. The note said that Christ, through his ascension to heaven (the real mercy seat), is our propitiation(paraphrased of course). That to me sounds a LOT like penal satisfaction.

It just means that our salvation is accomplished by Christ's death and resurrection.

Quote
Also, the St. Paul does say that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin", and compares Christ to the OT sacrifices. Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins? Why then wouldn't Christ's sacrifice (which is so often compared to the OT system of sacrifice)be the same?

Nope. The OT offerings weren't magic where you sinnded and then just made an offering to make your sins go away. God desired mercy, repentence, and a heart that loves Him in the OT. Without these, God would reject their offerings.

Quote
Does not the Anaphora in the DL imply some sort of propitiation?

"Propitiation" doesn't mean "punishment", it just means that Christ's death and resurrection is what reconciles us to God.

Some links where I have written more thoughts about some of this stuff -

http://openthoumylips.blogspot.com/2011/09/jesus-prayer-part-5-jesus.html

http://openthoumylips.blogspot.com/2011/09/jesus-prayer-part-6-christ-as-great.html

http://openthoumylips.blogspot.com/2011/09/jesus-prayer-part-7-christ-king.html

http://openthoumylips.blogspot.com/2011/10/jesus-prayer-part-9-son-of-god.html
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« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2011, 09:36:02 PM »

I wish I'd read this back when I first began my inquiry. http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/kingdomofheaven.aspx

neon, this is kind of long, but please read it and notes all the times St. Innocent speaks of salvation both in terms of work and in terms of it being all up to God's effort.
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« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2011, 10:18:06 PM »

Also, the St. Paul does say that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin", and compares Christ to the OT sacrifices. Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins? Why then wouldn't Christ's sacrifice (which is so often compared to the OT system of sacrifice)be the same?

Nope. The OT offerings weren't magic where you sinnded and then just made an offering to make your sins go away. God desired mercy, repentence, and a heart that loves Him in the OT. Without these, God would reject their offerings.

For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I had given it; with whole burnt offerings Thou shalt not be pleased.
A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise.
--Psalms 50: 16-17


(and, seriously, go read St. Athanasius' 'On the Incarnation')
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« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2011, 10:47:11 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified. Where is the simple message of salvation that the Bible seems to teach in Orthodoxy? Whatever happened to "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"? Why does understanding Orthodoxy require so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology, whatever; why has Orthodoxy made a science out of the simple Gospel message that should be understood by any five year old?

Two things,

(a) that was actually a very knowledgeable and accurate response by that Chris fellow, especially in his apologetic defense of Orthodox as being actually Christians, that is a rare treat from Evangelicals.  Of course, on the original topic of "if the Church will be duped by the Antichrist" interestingly that sounds ridiculous.  The Church is constantly operating within the Grace of God in the Holy Spirit, she can never be duped or deceived by the Antichrist.  Are there imperfect individuals within the Church, including leadership, yes, people are not perfect, but the Church remains perfected in the Divine Mysteries.  If anything, the Church might feel that it is Pentecostals, Protestants, and Evangelicals who are duped by the Antichrist to reject the very Salvation inherent within the Church through Jesus Christ who established and maintains her.  These are the ones who are constantly divided, ever splintering, always following the whims of teachers and the charisma of individuals, rather then the consistency of the Tradition as passed down each generation in the Grace of God by the laying of hands.  By the way, I am in NO WAY trying to say that denominational Christians are of the Antichrist, rather we are speaking about rhetorical interpretations of Revelations, which this Chris had mentioned that Orthodox would be duped, rather I would say it seems more likely that the scenario would be reversed.  It is the Church that has the constant history of remaining Apostolic, even while Underground (as in our modern histories in Communist nations), and I would suppose in the Grace of God that if this rhetorical Antichrist scenario is true the way folks suppose, that the Church would survive Underground as she originated, has been, and could be.

b) to address your question:

Grace is not worked towards, it is a gift of God.  We in Orthodox are healed day by day from Sin by God's Grace in the Divine Mysteries. That is our simple message.  The Church simply provides the formula of Salvation to enact it into the reality of our day to day lives.  We were Baptized and Chrismated to seal us with the Holy Spirit which continues the healing effect of Grace continually through out our lives.  We Repent and receive the Holy Communion in order to further cooperate in synergy with God's Grace for this continuing healing.  We revere our Clergy who are Ordained in the Spirit, and we revere our family structures by the Grace of Holy Matrimony which sanctifies our familial relationships.  When we are in more dire straights, we have Unction of the Sick, to commend us to God's Grace in the most direct way according to our needs.  This is the process of Orthodox life, it is one continually in God's healing Grace.  We do not work for it so much was work in cooperation with it.

Let me explain to you the function of Tradition (the science of Orthodoxy as you've called it) as I explained it to my teenage Sunday school class this past weekend. All the matters of Tradition, and even of the Bible, are really just ways to get us to ask the right questions to God in our hearts.  The answers are not in the materials or the Traditions, the answers come from God.  This is what the Church means by Mysteries.  We read the Bible, the Gospel, and the Tradition in order to formulate and reflect in our own internal, individual hearts, the right, deep, and soul-searching questions which we yearn for God to answer in order for us to communicate and expand our personal relationship with Him, just as we converse with friends grow our bonds.  The healing of God is automatic, but we also Sin from our own free-will, so the Tradition in action helps us APPLY the saving Grace of God.  We chant prayers and hymns to help us in our hearts find that calming peace of God and to maintain the inner healing of Grace.  In five year old terms, God's Grace is a healing, but it takes time.  The things we do in the Church are just a part of that healing just like going to the doctors.  You don't work at the doctors but there are things you are responsible to do, and its the same with Church.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2011, 01:01:52 AM »

Thanks for all the replies everyone. Some stuff just still doesnt add up to me.

For example, when I read Romans chapter 3, it says that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. To me Orthodox theosis and the idea that one must be fully sanctified to be really saved sounds like earning one's way into heaven. I actually saw a video where an Orthodox monk said specifically that the point of this life is to "earn" the next. Romans chapter 3 says that we cant earn salvation though, because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Romans 3 also says that Christ's blood is propitiation for our sins. The OSB study note on this verse compares the word "propitiation" to the ancient Jewish practice, where the high priest would offer up an animal and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat to atone for the sins of Israel. The note said that Christ, through his ascension to heaven (the real mercy seat), is our propitiation(paraphrased of course). That to me sounds a LOT like penal satisfaction.

Also, the St. Paul does say that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin", and compares Christ to the OT sacrifices. Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins? Why then wouldn't Christ's sacrifice (which is so often compared to the OT system of sacrifice)be the same?

Does not the Anaphora in the DL imply some sort of propitiation?




Salvation is work, not works. The grace and mercy of God are freely offered to all, but to apropriate these gifts in our lives and avail ourselves of their benefits requires great struggle and effort. The love I have for my children is unconditional and free. I will never disown them or cast them away from me, regardless of what they do or don't do. However, because they love me, they therefore work, struggle, and strive to please me and to cultivate a deeper, closer relationship with me. They can choose to rebel, disobey, forsake my love, and turn to a life of sin and evil. If they do this, my love for them shall remain the same, but their actions will nevertheless separate them from me and from the love that I extend to them without condition.

Salvation is free, but not easy. It is completely dependent upon the grace of God, and yet we must work it out with fear and trembling. It is given to all, but only a few find it. We are saved only by His Cross, and yet not without taking up our own.


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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2011, 03:39:45 AM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.

What if you can't find it?
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« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2011, 03:45:40 AM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.

What if you can't find it?

Ask God I guess...
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« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2011, 08:07:19 AM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.
What if you can't find it?

Seek and you shall find.
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« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2011, 12:43:55 PM »

I'm sorry I forget the man's name, but I heard an Orthodox priest say, "We are saved by grace, through faith, for works." Sounds pretty good to me.  angel
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« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2011, 12:46:56 PM »

I'm sorry I forget the man's name, but I heard an Orthodox priest say, "We are saved by grace, through faith, for works." Sounds pretty good to me.  angel

yea, and faith itself implies works (following christ's commandments), much more than intellectual consent.
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« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2011, 01:08:45 PM »

I wish I'd read this back when I first began my inquiry. http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/kingdomofheaven.aspx

neon, this is kind of long, but please read it and notes all the times St. Innocent speaks of salvation both in terms of work and in terms of it being all up to God's effort.
Oy, that was a pretty badly worded post. I meant to ask you to notice how Saint Innocent demonstrates the paradox here, how it isn't just a simple "God's effort, plus our effort" issue that some would make it out to be and that caused Martin Luther so much stress.

And if you really want to dial things back to ontology, God created this reality as a "package" with all the choices from all us agents which would make it up. So in that sense, it really all depends on God since He could have created a different possible world (in my opinion) or even none at all. We could have been born into a world where I chose to be a Muslim and you chose to be an atheist.
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« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2011, 04:06:23 PM »

Chris made another audio response today.

http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheretorun/email/New%20folder/magicsXfive.mp3
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« Reply #35 on: October 20, 2011, 04:51:54 PM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.
What if you can't find it?

Seek and you shall find.
Well I'm going to use an old hat argument. If you are born on an island that worships coconuts, and the Gospel hasn't been preached there how can you still find?

Romans 8 I think takes care of that...
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« Reply #36 on: October 20, 2011, 05:27:51 PM »

Chris made another response today.
http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheretorun/email/New%20folder/magicsXfive.mp3
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« Reply #37 on: October 20, 2011, 08:38:24 PM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.
What if you can't find it?
Seek and you shall find.
Well I'm going to use an old hat argument. If you are born on an island that worships coconuts, and the Gospel hasn't been preached there how can you still find?

Romans 8 I think takes care of that...

Scripture also speaks of the natural law written in man's heart and that all of creation glorifies God.
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« Reply #38 on: October 20, 2011, 10:31:26 PM »

My response to his last one:

Hey Chris, thanks again for responding.

I think you have a common misconception about Catholic/Orthodox doctrine. You seem to think that the Catholics and the Orthodox feel that they can earn their salvation, which is not at all what Catholics or Orthodox believe.

From my understanding of Orthodox doctrine (and its limited, so Im not the best source), salvation is by grace, through faith. The Orthodox have this concept of "synergy", which means that God saves us through grace, but we need to cooperate with His grace and let Him work through us. If we do not let him work through us, than our faith is dead, and it cannot save. St James the Lord's brother has said in his letter that faith alone does NOT save (only time the words "faith" and "alone" are used in the NT I'm pretty sure), and that our faith is dead without deeds, or "fruit". Through God working through us, we become more and more like Christ, and we can become "as partakers of the divine nature".

The Catholics I believe have a similar understanding, although it is more legalistic and specific. For example, Catholics distinguish between initial justification and actual justification. Im not sure if the Orthodox do this. Then again, I'm not the best source.

There is a difference between the law of faith, where we have faith in God to save and cleanse us, and let him work through us, which saves, and the law of works, in which men vainly attempt to please God and "earn" salvation. This does not save.

You asked me if I "feel" forgiven. I'm not entirely sure what you mean. Do you mean do I know absolutely for sure if I will go to heaven? I would have to answer no, but I have a strong faith in God my savior that I will go to heaven. I do know that I am still a wicked sinner and I often resist God's attempts to work through me.

I have watched parts of your apostolic succession video, and I didnt really find it relevant to my personal views on apostolic succession. Ive actually never heard Acts 1 used as a defense for it. I dont really know the full dogma of apostolic succession from the Catholics, but I do know that however you interpret it, at its base (that is, a line of bishops in each see starting from the original bishop down to the current one), it is entirely true and un-debunkable. For example, you could look up "apostolic succession lists" on google, and see the list of Bishops of Rome, Byzantium, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc. starting from the apostle who either served as overseer there or ordained the first overseer, down to the incumbent bishop. For me, it provides an actual link from modern times to the times of the apostles. You wouldnt be able to trace this with any other form of Christianity except the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran, Assyrian, and possibly the Indian Marthoma Reformed communions. This is probably straying from the pain point of the discussion though.

I hope you can reply again soon!
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« Reply #39 on: October 20, 2011, 11:10:40 PM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.
What if you can't find it?
Seek and you shall find.
Well I'm going to use an old hat argument. If you are born on an island that worships coconuts, and the Gospel hasn't been preached there how can you still find?

Romans 8 I think takes care of that...

Scripture also speaks of the natural law written in man's heart and that all of creation glorifies God.
Ah yes forgot that last bit, thank you Melodist!
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« Reply #40 on: October 21, 2011, 11:17:19 AM »

Ah yes forgot that last bit, thank you Melodist!

Awesome avatar.
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« Reply #41 on: October 21, 2011, 11:59:09 AM »

I'm sure it was an alright response, but Im not even sure if I meant what I've said. I read Volnutt's new thread yesterday and I am in his EXACT position. I have trained myself to think that the Orthodox view of Christianity is the correct view, without actually examining it in the Bible and actually reading the Fathers myself. To quote Volnutt, in my response to Chris I spit out the "pop-Orthodox apologetic", honestly without even understanding what I was saying.

Back to my main point, what Chris stressed most in his audio response, for those of you who listened to it have heard, is "the Gospel". He blatantly said that Orthodox Christians do not teach "the Gospel", which in his view is penal satisfaction/substitution; that God needed to punish sinners, and he instead gave us His Son, who was crucified, being punished in our place so God's wrath could be satisfied, and that if we believe in faith that Jesus died for our sins, and if we truly repent, we are saved.

A simple look at the Bible for any person can show that THIS is the message of salvation preached in the Bible. The Bible says clearly that the penalty for sin is death. Yes Jesus broke death in his resurrection, but it was in his death that he paid the penalty.

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified. Where is the simple message of salvation that the Bible seems to teach in Orthodoxy? Whatever happened to "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"? Why does understanding Orthodoxy require so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology, whatever; why has Orthodoxy made a science out of the simple Gospel message that should be understood by any five year old?

In my heart I have known for a while that the Bible (the way I see it at least) and Orthodoxy don't seem to match up in my eyes. I WANT to believe Orthodoxy is true, I really do. I have seen so much beauty and wonderful tradition in Orthodoxy, I really want to believe its right. Maybe that's what it has come to, what I MYSELF want. I want liturgy, smells and bells, chanting, tradition, ancient-ness, history, etc; but is that what GOD wants for me? Honestly, I really dont know. Its hard for me to hear the voice of God.

Maybe I need to talk to a priest, visit a church, sit in on a catechism class, maybe read through a catechism myself. But as for now, I just cant see the message of Orthodox salvation matching up with the Gospel that is preached in the Bible.

So, after my rant, maybe I have it all wrong. If I do, tell me, what is "the Gospel" to an Orthodox? And is it really the Gospel that is preached in the Bible?

PS- I know that some of the things I have said seem very judgemental and critical of Orthodoxy. That is not what I intend. I am truly struggling with this.

Neon_knights, at the beginning of the thread you mentioned Chris White and some of his comments that you found convincing regarding “the gospel” (as he sees it), and you shared some of your doubts about Orthodoxy.  You have since invited us in to your debate with him, allowing us to read your messages to him and listen to his responses.  Perhaps, as your dialogue with him develops or when it concludes, you can share with us your thoughts as to whether your exchange with him is increasing your confidence in the Orthodox position or raising more doubts and questions.  There is a lot that can be commented upon about your exchange with Mr. White, but it would probably be more productive to discuss in this thread the specific questions or doubts you might have about Orthodoxy coming out of (or going through) this dialogue.   
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« Reply #42 on: October 21, 2011, 09:42:10 PM »

jah777, I would love to hear your comments on my discussions with Chris. If im not adequately representing Orthodox doctrine I should probably halt the discussion...

I'm not really sure what Im getting out of it yet. I think that if I want to understand Orthodoxy, I need to go to a church and talk to a priest head on.

If you really want to know, whats making me stumble the most is Orthodoxy's distaste for the legal metaphors of Christ's salvific work on the cross, which are clearly written in the Bible, and the idea that we have to be fully sanctified in order to be justified.
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« Reply #43 on: October 21, 2011, 09:53:23 PM »

I think that if I want to understand Orthodoxy, I need to go to a church

Yes.

Quote
and talk to a priest head on.

This helps too.

Quote
If you really want to know, whats making me stumble the most is Orthodoxy's distaste for the legal metaphors of Christ's salvific work on the cross, which are clearly written in the Bible,

This is most likely in response to the groups that hold too strictly to the legal language, especially to the exclusion of all others. There is legal language most definitely used. Christ's work was very substitutionary. The "penal substitution" that I was taught in my Baptist sunday school as a teenager is by no means an accurate description of what Christ accomplished on the cross.

Quote
and the idea that we have to be fully sanctified in order to be justified.

God is our destination. He only asks that we move in the right direction.
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« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2011, 09:57:57 PM »

Neon,

srsly. Melodist is never wrong. Well not around here much.
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