Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
No, I think I understand you quite clearly, and that it's you who misunderstand me. I didn't say anything about whether the grace of God is confined to the Sacraments. I spoke only to your claim that Protestants reject the grace of God and try to follow Christ purely on their own strength by rejecting the Sacraments, which one can read quite clearly for himself in
In some regard, yes. But I wouldn't call it a complete rejection of the grace of God in favor of doing things purely by one's own strength, as you so stated.
Even here I object to your claim that Protestant rejection of the Sacraments is a full rejection of the grace of God, the New Covenant as you call it.
What I am arguing in regards to Marriage is that only Orthodox Marriage is a Sacrament, and only Orthodox marriage is therefore Blessed in the Church by the fullness of God's Grace. It would be misleading and blatantly false to allow Evangelicals and Protestants to believe their symbolic and legal contract marriages are anything similar to the miracles inherent in the Divine Mysteries. The Grace folks experience outside of the Church is intended by God to bring them to the Church. Why would God then bless Marriages outside the Church with the fullness of His Sacramental Grace? In this regard, yes, symbolic Protestant marriages are a human creation of human will, and while are blessed with the same kinds of normative Grace which God grants on the sinners and saints alike just as His sun rises each dawn on the entire world, nonetheless we know He only specifically blesses Marriage in the context of the Sacraments. To suggest anything else is to demean, disregard, and deny the absolute seriousness of the Sacraments.But this is a lot different than saying that Protestants consciously reject the grace of God and try to keep their marriages together purely on their own strength. I don't disagree that they're unconsciously depriving themselves of the fullness of the grace of God by remaining outside the sacramental Mysteries of the Church, but to say that they try to live according to some "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" type of Christianity that relies not at all on the grace of God is generally false. Most of the Protestants I knew worked very hard to receive the grace of God as they knew it; they just weren't aware that they could receive this grace in much more abundant measure by joining themselves to the Orthodox Church, the fountainhead of all grace.
You've nailed the difference in our discussion, I am referring specifically to the capital "G" G
race of the Sacraments, and you are referring to the lower-case g
race which include ALL of God's actions. Grace is but another term to explain the activities, energies, and actions of God in the verb sense. Grace then is how God created and sustains all of His Creation at every nano-second of time and beyond! However, within the New Covenant of the Orthodox Church, capital "G" Grace has been established uniquely through the Divine Mysteries and no where else.
obtain the Grace from Baptism aside from Baptism. We can't
obtain the Grace from Holy Communion aside from Holy Communion. And yes, we can't
obtain the Grace of Marriage outside of Holy Matrimony in the Church. This again is capital "G" Grace, referring specifically to the Grace God grants us through the Mysteries. So if we, be it Orthodox (yes we count to, many Orthodox equally neglect the Sacraments and therefore are leaving themselves to have to fend for themselves) or Protestant, deny or reject or fail to participate with the Mysteries, we precisely going at a "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" Christianity because God's Grace in the capital "G" sense is exclusive to the Mysteries. So a marriage outside of the Sacraments is by very definition a human creation, whereas a Sacramental Marriage is the process of synergy, combining Human will with God's Grace. God established Sacramental Marriage, human beings may accept or reject it, and if they reject it stemming from any persuasion, philosophy, gripe, or religion, then such humans are rejecting true Marriage and instead creating their own flawed human pseudo-marriage.
My point is this: Protestants who reject the Sacraments reject the New Covenant. If anything, I would say they live EVEN MORE SO then in the grace of God (lower-case sense) in that God must send EXTRAORDINARY blessings their way to account for the lack of Sacraments. We in the Church are given the Sacraments in order to save us and heal us. We simply can't expect God to send us the capital "G" Grace outside of the Sacraments, and it is even spiritually dangerous to suggest or imply such. So yes, Protestants who reject the Sacramental marriage of the Church, are attempting to go at it alone. If Orthodox Christians chose to have unmarried, sexual relationships they are equally going at it alone, however these are blessed by Baptism, Confession, and Holy Communion to assist in our human weaknesses, but I sincerely fear for the broken hearts and spiritual wounds of those non-Sacramental Christians who openly defy and reject God's Grace inherent in the Mysteries, and what then do they have to help them? Again, they are surely asking a lot of God, considering God already sent His Church precisely to be the vehicle of His capital "G" Grace, and it exists no where else, for to suggest such is to again disregard, deny, and disrespect the Eternal Seriousness of the Sacraments.
I am not saying we in Orthodox are any better or worse than any other people, but our Church surely is by the Grace of God