Good questions (and answers), pto.
I grew up Baptist, too, and this was definitely one of the more mind-blowing issues as a convert to Orthodoxy that I had to deal with.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I appreciate the humble, inquisitive tone you're taking; it's better than the know-it-all one I threw in my priest's face when I first tackled the issue!ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Your take on salvation is familiar; it's the one I grew up with, as I said.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I'll comment on each part as we go.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The first two are just sort of a clarification on how the Evangelical view is not so much wrong
as it is incomplete
.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The third one tells why it’s important to us to have the whole
story of Christ’s sacrifice when dealing with God the Father.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Here goes:
Christ died for us on the Cross to pay the price of sin.
Yes, He did.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š What was that price we would have had to pay?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Death, of course: the wages of sin.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Whose sin?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We would ultimately say Adam's and Eve's, since by their sin, they were cut off from communion with God who is our Life, and therefore death entered the world and spread to all of us, as can be seen, since we've all sinned (Rom. 5:12).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š For us, the reality of death--the end result
of sin--is the ultimate
reason Christ died; He came to "free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Heb. 2:15).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š To say that the sin itself
--the legal transgression against the holiness of God--is the ultimate
reason He died seems to stop short of full salvation; our leger is cleaned off, but we're still death-bound.
In that act he continues to be a mediator for us who are sinful with God The Father who is Holy.
Ehhh...yes and no.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Yes, He's the mediator between us and God.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š No, it's not how you're thinking.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š For us, the distinction as “mediator” that Christ has for the Orthodox is not only
one of “pleading our case before the Father” (though that is in there), but, just as we hold death to be the ultimate enemy and not just sin (which would be only part of what we need to be saved from), so we hold Christ’s mediation to be not just one of a cleanser of our sins, but of a defeater of our human nature’s mortality.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It’s not enough to be declared “saved” by the Father; we need to actually have our human nature renewed and brought to life again by being united to the actual, physical Body of Christ (which we believe happens in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which we call the Eucharist), who was raised from the dead, as well as by following His commands.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š He’s not only our Mediator, then, who stands in the place of “us who are sinful with God The Father who is Holy,” but also our Mediator who stands in the place of “us who are dead with God The Father who is Life.”
So is that death satisfaction to God The Father for our sin? Well it sure looks like it to me. If not why do we need a mediator? Couldn't we simply come before God and just 'repent'?
So we’ve talked about (or, rather, I’ve written
about) how we’re not only saved from the legal transaction of sins counted against us, but also (and more importantly) from the death that reigns in our members and needs to be destroyed.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š In our mind, God is not the angry, stern, or even “Just” God that the satisfaction theory makes Him out to be, the one who demands that we “pay Him back” for offending Him.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š To us, if God could be offended as if He had lost something and felt angered by this, He would be able to be manipulated and, thus, not God.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š If He were more concerned about our being righteous enough for Him to let us into “His Heaven” than whether or not we actually came into His Heaven
, His main objective would be self-serving and not done out of love for us.
Rather, instead of demanding something of us, He will simply appear one day as our Life once again, and we who have died and risen with Christ in baptism and have united themselves to Christ throughout their lives will also live with Him in glory (Col. 3:3-4)--those who are still dead in their bodies will feel the full force of He who Is Love, Life, Peace and all the rest of it, and it will be hell for those who are not renewed in Christ.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The flames of hell, we believe, are really the flames of the Consuming Fire that is our God, only felt as torment by those who are not Christ’s.
All that to say this: The issue of salvation from sin and
death is now man’s decision, not God’s.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š God is always
steadfast--nothing we do could ever “offend” Him as we are offended.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š He will do what He always has planned to do--save us through love and reveal Himself at the end to us in love--and this takes the issue away from “God being the “bad cop” and demanding repayment because He’s just and holy and concerned about whether or not to let us into heaven,” to “God destroying our last enemy out of love for us and revealing Himself to us in love...and we need to be ready for it.”ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
I do hope this hasn’t taxed the ol’ brain pan too much and has actually helped.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Let us know if you have any other questions.
Peace of Christ to you,
Pedro, Global Mod