I know that this is an old thread, but could someone please provide some authoritative citations on this topic?
Fr. George's essay proposes salvation for those outside of Christianity, but I don't know of anyone of greater authority who said it as, if not more, directly.
An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions
Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou
...Those who live in faith and virtue, though outside the Church, receive God's loving grace and salvation.
So for example, Armchair Theologian, could you please be more specific about what citation St. Seraphim made that says this:
And also St Seraphim of Sarov talks a bit about salvation for those who wholeheartedly seek the truth, even pagans who have never known of Christ. God is not confined to the church or her sacraments, but has ordained participation in the sacramental life of the church to be the usual and correct means whereby a person is united to Christ and to partake of His divine nature unto salvation (theosis), from what I understand.
I posted this in another thread.
The fate of those who are outside the Church
By fr. Vadim Leonov from his book "Fundamentals of Orthodox anthropology".http://ocapodvorie.org/prezentatsiya-knigi-protoiereya-vadima-leonova-osnovyi-hristianskoy-antropologii/
Translated from Russian.
This is a very difficult and mysterious question. People, who are not in the Church all really differ one from another spiritually wise, therefore simple answers here are impossible.
Those who step away from the faith and likewise those who conciously go against God and the truth, according to the Holy Sciptures, lose hope in salvation. For they, like the apostol Peter said, denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (2 Pet. 2:1). About those who conciously go against God the Lord said: And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Mt.12:32)
What goes for other people, those who do not go against God or faith betrayers but nonetheless have not believed in Christ or have believed incorrectly - about their fate the Holy Fathers never said anything specific - this is a myster of God. The Church leaves these kind of people to God's mercy. The Holy Fathers directly speak of the fact of salvation through Orthodoxy and malignity of heresies and schisms, but this does not equal as an eternal sentence for specific people, who were not themselves the fault of these sins but turned out to be in non-Orthodox surroundings because of certain life circumstances. No-one, except God, can know the level of harmfulness of being in these surroundings for a certain person.
If for members of the Church, Christ is our Redeemer, Saviour, then for those who are outside the Church he is their Lord and Divine Providence. In the Holy Scipture we read that God's providence spreads upon everyone, including those who don't belong to the Church: we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. (1Ti.4:10). God wills to have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1Ti.2:4) Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Ac.10:34-36) God will render to every man according to his deeds (Ro.2:6) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile (Ro. 2:6,9-11).
God's mercy extends unto every man, but just mercy is not enough for salvation. A person is given life on earth so that he in co-work with God might transfigure himself and come into accordance to eternal life with Christ. If this does not happen, then even with all of God's mercy if a person who is not prepared were to go to heaven, he would not be able to exist there, to live there. Therefore the Holy Fathers teach: Neither does he that is baptized with water, but not found worthy of the Spirit, receive the grace in perfection; nor if a man be virtuous in his deeds, but receive not the seal by water, shall he enter into the kingdom of heaven. A bold saying, but not mine, for it is Jesus who has declared so.
(St. Cyril of Jerusalem).
Sometimes, saying that the Lord can save those who do not belong to the Church, as an example are brought the Old Testament righteous, who did not belong to Christ's Church, but were saved nonetheless and many are even glorified as saints. However this example is incorrect. First of all, these righteous were not saved right after dying. All of them descended to hell and were brought out of there only by the Saviour, in whose coming they believed. Second of all, after Christ had already come to the earth and suffered on the Cross, Ressurected and ascended it would be absurd to believe and wait for some other kind of messiah. Such an awaiting would be a conscious neglection of the Gospel. Salvation by faith in a future messiah like in the Old Testament is impossible, because He has already come long ago.
In agiographic literature there are a few examples of some sort of relief in the afterlife of some who did not belong to the Church by the prayers of holy people. However leaving aside the question of the authenticity of these examples, first of all, in these examples it was never said that by the prayers of these Saints that these people were saved in the full sense of the word. They only speak of a certain relief in their abode there in the afterlife. Second of all, these very few cases are exceptional cases and can not be interepretated as some sort of soteriological tenet, as some sort of possible path for all who don't belong to the Church. If someone who falls from the 10th floor remains alive, and these kinds of cases are known, then this doesn't mean that every one of us can recklessly jump from such a hight. Third of all, even if a relief in someone's afterlife (who didn't belong to the Church) is possible then it will be done none other way than by the Church, by the prayers of the Church. Salvation is possible only through the Chuch, through oneness with Jesus Christ, who said: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6).