This thread actually concerns two sets of questions that I have.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The first set concerns the Orthodox understanding of non-Orthodox "Christians."ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The second set more specifically concerns the Orthodox attitude towards Roman Catholic saints.
You will not find unanimity on soteriological issues in Orthodoxy; neither amongst modern Orthodox, nor amongst the Fathers. There tends to be two soteriological schools of thought, Alexandria and Antioch (with the Cappadocians tending to take most their soteriology from the Alexandrians), in spite of my adamant aruging in defence of Chalcedon on other boards, I do tend to favour the more Philosophical Alexandrian tradition, at least in Creation, Soteriology, and other philosophical issues, so I will answer your questions that perspective, specifically from a posistion fairly close to St. Clement of Alexandria's. But keep in mind, there is another side, the Antiochian side.
I am having difficulty grasping the Orthodox perspective of those "Christians" who are not Orthodox but rather are Roman Catholic, Protestant, etc.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Do the Orthodox consider members of schismatic and heretical groups as good as damned?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Or, do the Orthodox claim a less assertive position of "We know that salvation is through the Orthodox Church, but we are not sure about other 'Christian' churches"?
No, they're not 'as good as damned,' they may be wrong and even subject to the harsh sentence of anathema, but Salvation, of both the Orthodox and heterodox, is ultimately in God's hands, and I suspect that he will grant salvation to any who ask it of Him in the life to come, for any other act would be inconsonant with Divine Love and Mercy.
I notice that, in the early Christian works, there is a sense that all heretics and schismatics cannot achieve salvation, no matter how holy and noble.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š However, I have also heard from some Orthodox that the Orthodox do not know whether or not those not Orthodox can be saved.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The one side says that "all schismatics and heretics are wolves"; the other side seems to say "those in the Orthodox Church are the lambs, but who knows which ones outside are not wolves."ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Then you're not reading the right early Christian works, try St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory the Theologian. Yes all schismatics and heretics are wolves, but there will come a time when the lion will lay down with the lamb...why not the wolf as well, God is a Merciful and Forgiving God.
I know that there are many who might object, but I just can't fathom how certain Catholic saints who gave everything away to the Lord and who dedicated themselves to the Lord can be damned.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, St. Malachy--these are just a few of the earlier Roman Catholic saints that I would have a hard time considering as "damned," if that's the Orthodox belief.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I mean, I suppose that if you're a hardcore Coptic Christian, you could consider all post-Chalcedonian saints in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as Nestorian and therefore accursed, damned.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š There goes Cyril and Methodius.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
They may heretics, but they are not necessarily damned, for God is Merciful; however, as they lived their lives in heresy, they can hardly be called Saints either.
What are your reflections on this? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Is it fathomable for a holy person who gives his life to Christ and his possessions to the poor, who lives a morally righteous life, to go to hell because he has a slightly different Christological understanding? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Yes, this is possible, if he is too proud to submit to God's truth in the life to come; but, it's also possible for someone with a correct Christology and fits all the criteria above to go to Hell, if he is too proud to accept the forgiveness of God or unwilling to forgive their neighbour in the life to come.
Do the Orthodox see the Eastern Catholics as any different from other non-Orthodox in terms of their potential for salvation?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Personally I'd say they're in worse shape, more akin to Schismatics than Heretics; people who are knowledgable of the ways of the Church, and thus cannot be said to reject them out of Ignorance, but rather out of Pride and self-righteousness; but in the end, all is up to God's mercy.
I already touched on this in 1c quite a bit, but what is the Orthodox attitude towards Roman Catholic saints who follow 1054?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I know of one Orthodox friend who has expressed to me an interest in the writings of St. John of the Cross.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I am sure that there are other Orthodox who have read Roman Catholic spiritual works and feel that they have gained at least some spiritual substance from reading them.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š For example, I know that in his book, The Orthodox Way, Bishop Kallistos quotes from the work of Julian of Norwich, an English anchoress who lived after 1054.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
They followed heresy, or possibly even Schism, they're not saints. There have been some good Buddhists as well, but they're not saints either.
So, I guess what I'm asking is, how do Orthodox approach Roman Catholic spiritual literature that was written after the Schism of 1054?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Read it objectively from an Academic Perspective it it is in a subject of Interest or Research, I still read the Summa Theologica
, though I read it Critically. But for edification of one's spiritual life, I would recomment one stick with Orthodox Sources; Medieval Latin spirituality became very carnal, focusing primarially on such tings physical pain and physical passions, relegating the spiritual to almost a seconday posistion, dependent on the physical.
Is there an attitude of, "Its author was a heretic and therefore his or her work should not be read as spiritual literature"?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Or, is there an attitude of, "All right, this guy (or gal) might not be Orthodox, but he clearly seems to have had an intimate and selfless love for Christ, and therefore there might be some great spiritual wealth in what he has written"?
I'm often skeptical of spiritual literature, even when the Author is Orthodox; if they are not Orthodox I would be Extremely Cautious. I think good advice in general is to analyse any writing academically before using it spiritually. As I hinted at above, there are probably some very well written and helpful buddhist texts, that may even convey a message consonant with Christianity, that doesn't mean I'm going to use them in my spiritual life.
I know that I am bound to get a variety of answers.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I'm presently reading the journal entries of a Cistercian monk who stayed on Mt. Athos for several weeks (I can't remember the exact length of time), during which time he writes down the views of the Orthodox monks there.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š In the book containing these journal entries, there seems to be the prevailing view that spirituality should flow from doctrine, and therefore that Roman Catholics should not use Orthodox books in spiritual development (and vice versa).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š However, Bishop Kallistos, present at the island during this monk's stay, supposedly told this Cistercian monk that, despite differences, the core of the Orthodox and Catholic tradition is one, and therefore Roman Catholics could make use of Eastern spiritual works.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The implication I received from reading this is that, if there exists some kind of common tradition, the Orthodox could also learn from some Roman Catholic writers.
What do you think?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
The emphesis in Spirituality is quite different between the East and the West; for example you have hesychasm in the East and stigmata in the West, the differences in emphasis here are profound. It's probably not prudent for someone of one tradition to embrace the spirituality of the other. I am not entirely certain of what His Grace was trying to say as I don't have the full context, but I would assume that His Grace was suggesting that the Latins may learn something from the Eastern Fathers.