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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Thank you for dying for me

I'm mature enough now (I think...maybe) that I comfortably spend less and less time bashing evangelical beliefs and practices, however lately I've been barraged by a series of proselytizing online advertisements that led to THIS website which suggests that there are four easy "steps to God."

I know little or nothing about the website or the folks (and their theology) behind it, but it certainly seems to correspond well with the most common protestant soteriology. I give credit where credit is due: they are reaching out to people and we Orthodox should do as much - perhaps not in an identical fashion - but it's far too easy to sit in our easy chairs and criticize while we do little or nothing to share the Hope that is in us.

That said, our understanding of that Hope is clearly different than that which is communicated on this website. From our perspective, salvation cannot be summed up so simply and it certainly cannot be "achieved" so simply as with the repetition of this simple prayer. A little walk down evangelical memory lane has brought to the forefront of my mind their emphasis on our Lord's death, while contrastingly we tend to emphasize His life - and in particular His victory over death. As most of us know, in general, evangelicals tend to see salvation only through the lenses of substitutionary atonement which is to say that Jesus "died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins." If you read this brief account of salvation, there is no notion at all that His resurrection also saves us. It is glossed over almost as a sort of footnote. That's unfortunate and points to one HUGE difference between Orthodoxy and Protestantism.

I wonder if perhaps we would say that an Orthodox sinner's prayer (were there such a thing) would start something more like this: "Thank you for becoming man, living, teaching, enlightening, dying, destroying death by rising from the dead, ascending, and offering to let us share in a deified life with you." That would be somewhat more comprehensive, but it still doesn't tell the whole story. We might say it tells enough of the story, but I don't think the evangelical prayer only tells a tiny fraction of the story.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:14 PM [+]
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1 comments


1 Comments:

Also, it would be interesting to compare and contrast what we're **saved from**. Here, I fear and hope the evangelicals and Orthodox would have different answers. One reason that the evangelical approach falls on deaf ears in modern circles is that unlike earlier times, the idea that we need to be saved from an angry and righteous God's wrath... it's not intuitive to people. Rightly or wrongly, it actually sounds preposterous to a modern educated person. We Orthodox would question its validity too, but I think we have to answer the same question for people, and it's not easy because modern liberal democratic capitalism has performed very impressively, displacing faith in God with faith in Science and Progress. When weighed against other civilizations, liberal democracy fares pretty well in removing horrific evils, although perhaps only temporarily and at unsustainable costs. Still, I think we need to "give an account" for why "salvation" still makes sense. It needs to be more than "everything around you may look good now, but when you die, there will be horrible torments..."

I also think we DO need a straightforward 4- step presentation or something equivalently brief: we can't just say "come and see" which I believe is a copout from real engagement and basically is tantamount to saying that Orthodoxy is a "fancy" Christianity that appeals to people that like things put in more imagistic, paradoxical and poetical terms.

My 2 cents.

- Steve K

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:34 PM  

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