"Of course nobody says dogmatically that all non-Orthodox go to hell! 1. The Church is the normal means of salvation but God isn't limited to it. 2. People born outside the Church may implicitly be in the Church. 3. God won't judge someone born outside the Church like someone who left.
Serge: I humbly point out that when you make such statements, you are inevitably placing yourself in a state of grave danger. Danger because to teach something against that which Christ has taught is a very horrible position to be in. I frequently see people teaching others about the faith, which is good, but a tremendous responsibility that I think all to often is not taken nearly as seriously as it should. This is especially true when discussing Salvation. I could think of few greater responibilities than to have the salvation of others on my own head, and this is by nature the task of a priest or someone who is quite sober in approaching the issue. Not to say you are not "sober", but I certainly feel you are wrong.
The Orthodox concept of Hell is entirley different than that of the West, so while we could not say the non-Orthodox are condemned to eternal torment, and the Western concept of "hell fire", we absolutley could not say the Kingdom of God is attainable by them.
If there ever seems to be a contradiction in speculating about that which may seem unclear, we must always yield to the primacy of the Church and admit the inadequacy of theory.
Intellectual speculation about "wider boundaries" of the Church are new and the direct product of this new-age relativism going on around us. These are not things which are subject to debate or restatement. This is because they are not ideas, but are spiritual facts that have been revealed to us. The nature of the Church, Christ as Her sole Head and the source of Her unity, and the spiritual vision of Her children also fall into the category of these universal spiritual Truths. These Truths are the pillars of our Faith.
There is no salvation outside the Church.
Just as one cannot approach the Father except through the Son, so too, nobody may approach the Son except through the Church. This is why, as only one example, St. John Chrysostom writes:
ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â´We know that salvation itself is a property of the One Church, and that no one can be outside of the catholic Church and yet share the Faith of Christ, or be savedÃƒÆ’ Neither do we offer any part of that hope to the ungodly heretics, but we place them entirely outside of that hope; indeed, they have not the least participation in Christ, but vainly assume for themselves that saving Name.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¶ -St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (4th Century AD)
Again, just like "baptism" outside the Church, to say there is salvation outside the Church would be to also say the Church has "wider invisible boundaries", which you know all to well is a Protestant notion and a product of new-age modernizers.
To Protestant Seeker,
The important point to ponder in you and your wifes search for Christ is to always find what motivates you.
The root of what motivates you must be a genuine seeking of the Lord by seeking His truth and a recognition that the Church has the ultimate authority. Many people, even in Christ's earthly ministry, reacted in different ways to Him. Some feared him, some followed, some hated him, some recognized Him but would not follow, and some even saw fit to kill Him.
Well, the Church seeks to break your self-will in every way, you may not like that at first. And neither did the Scribes (not that you are a Scribe) like what Jesus did to upset their comfort, but sometimes what our bodies tell us are not always compatible with what we are called to do.
Truth is the measure in which you will find Christ. This truth is evidenced by His Saints.
Anti-Christ does not come to us in a foreign tongue and as an unbeliever. He comes to us in our own language and with a lukewarm commitment to the Faith. He speaks to us of love, while he hates us. He may even glorify the Church, but not the true faith. He exalts unity, but not in Truth. He takes what is temporary and seeks to make it universal. He makes what is standard the exception and what is the exception standard. He holds vitues up high but whispers in your ear how troublesome they are to you. We must never succumb to his tactics, however noble and good our intentions.