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Has the Episcopal Church really been "Falsely Accused"? Part IV
Stand Firm ^ | 8/30/2006 | Matt Kennedy

Posted on 08/31/2006 6:02:46 PM PDT by sionnsar

Suffice it to say that one reason the Episcopal Church has fallen into heresy is because of the widespread conviction among prominent leaders that Jesus Christ is unnecessary.

This morning we will be getting to specifics. In the first three installments of my response I have demonstrated that:

1. Not only have false teachers like John Shelby Spong and Dr. Marcus Borg been given the unfettered freedom to preach and teach in parishes and diocesan gatherings accross the Episcopal Church for the last thirty years, but their message has been embraced and trumpeted by influential leaders in the highest echelon including, notably, the presiding bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori.

2. Nevertheless, the pervasive presence of false teaching is causal not material. The Episcopal Church officially stepped outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy with the election, consent, and consecration of V. Gene Robinson, a divorced man living in sexual relationship with another man, to the office of bishop in the state of New Hampshire, a decision confirmed most recently at GC2006.

Now we move on to take up the seven charges Fr. Tom lists in his introduction. The first charge deals with the question of exclusivity and salvation.

The Church world-wide proclaims and has always proclaimed that salvation can only be found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

There is some variation with regard to the precise way this this exclusivity is understood within the various branches of Christendom.

Some branches hold that the benefits of Christ must be appropriated subjectively by faith during the earthly life of an individual. Those who live beyond the reach of the gospel who by grace sincerely seek the Truth and follow the Truth they find will be given an opportunity to hear and receive the gospel before they die either by direct revelation or through the missionary efforts of the Church.

There is, according to this view, no salvation apart from the name of Jesus Christ. If God intends to save an individual, he will effectually call him through the gospel in accordance with Romans 8:30:

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified

Others hold that an individual who, though without access to the gospel, sincererely seeks the Truth, follows the Truth he finds, and obeys the witness of his own conscience, may be saved by the merciful and vicarious application of the benefits of Christ.

These generally appeal to Paul’s words in Romans 2: 13-16

13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

I think this argument is quite a stretch given the fact that Romans 1 and 2 are building up to Paul’s summary condemnation of all humanity in Romans 3:

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

In other words, yes, those who have not heard the revealed Word of God may be saved if they follow their conscience and do what is right. The problem is that no one follows his conscience and does what is right. We are all sinners and thus we all are in vital need of the One Savior identified by Paul in Romans 3:21

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

However you exegete this passage, whether you follow NT Wright and understand Paul’s “righteousness of God” as God’s own righteousness in accordance with which he keeps his covenant and “faith in” Christ as the faithfulness “of Christ,” all agree that the final clause, “for all who believe,” necessarily applies. In other words, subjective “belief” in or faith in Christ is necessary for salvation.

In any case, this is a tempest within the family of Christendom, not external to it.

Anglicans have traditionally aligned with the first group. Article 18 of the Articles of Religion states:

They also are to be held accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.

And yet, despite these differences, all Christendom proclaims, in keeping with the clear, consistent testimony of the Word of God and Tradition that the salvific benefits of Christ (his righteous life, atoning death, life-giving resurrection) are necessary for salvation.

Care needs to be take here. The second position, which is held by the Roman Catholic Church does not hold that Buddha (for example) and Christ are equally valid vehicles to the divine. Nor does it hold that Buddha and Christ are simply two manifestations of the same diety. Rather, the claim is that God mercifully applies the benefits of Christ to those who, without access to the gospel, seek and sincerely follow the truth as it is more dimly refracted through the dusty lens of Buddhism.

It is, in other words, the person and work Christ alone, refracted through the distorted lens of other faiths, that provides the only hope of salvation, not the faiths in themselves.

In that sense the two major divisions within Christendom regarding the exclusivity of Christ are agreed, Christ is the only material cause of salvation. There is no other.

The biblical warrant for this exclusive claim is as indisputable as it is overwhelming. I do not have the time or space for more than a brief persusal of the primary passages in question along with brief comments, but the biblical evidence is clear enough.

We’ll start with the Great Commission. The final words of Jesus Christ before ascending bodily to the right hand of the Father:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

If in fact Jesus considered the various faith traditions of Judea, the Mediterranean and, indeed, of the world, equally valid vehicles to the divine, this command would be incoherent. The call is very clearly to proselytize the entire world, to call people of other faiths to faith in Jesus Christ. There are no exceptions. The command it is directed toward his own people, the Jews, and toward the Gentiles. Disciples of Christ are commissioned to make other disciples of Christ and teach them to obey his commands.

Turning to the Johanine passages we see the exclusivity implicit in the Great Commission brought to the fore. In John 3:16-18, 6:53-54 and 14:6 (just three passages among many) Jesus’ self-referential call to faith is paired with an explicit denial that there is any other vehicle. Jesus offers himself as the only way to the exclusion of every other path.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

Often John 3:16 is quoted by itself. But without verses 17 and 18 the full exclusive weight and salvific import of the text is missed.

In John 6 we find Jesus again pointing to himself as the only means to eternal life while, at the same time, explicitly denying the possibility of salvation by any other means.

53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:53-54)

Finally, in John 14:6 Jesus refers to himself as the exclusive embodiment of Life and Truth. There is no other way to God the Father, but through his Son Jesus Christ.

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Turning to Acts we immediately notice that the entire thrust and purpose of the book is to demonstrate and bear witness to the early evangelization of both Jew and Gentile. Notice that Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 is specifically directed toward his Jewish listeners. The obvious and explicit message is that their present faith status is insufficient. They must repent, surrender to, and become disciples of Jesus as the Christ.

32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing…36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:32-41)

This message is proclaimed throughout the streets of Jerusalem accompanied by miraculous healings and exorcisms. The authorities, many of whom took part in the arrest and betrayal of Jesus, feel threatened by both the preaching and the miracles so they call Peter and John to testify. They question the source of the disciples’ power to heal. Peter answers:

10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

As in John, we see here in Acts 4 the claim that Jesus is Lord (messiah) and Savior paired with a denial that there is any other.

Finally, we turn back to Romans 10. Some have argued that Romans 9-11 represent the culmination of Paul’s argument throughout the book of Romans. This may or may not be true depending on your take regarding the New Perspective on Paul. I tend to reject the NPP but the point I want to make stands regardless.

In Romans 9-11, Paul takes up the problem of the Jewish people. His people, he laments, have not submitted to Jesus as the Christ. They have zeal but their zeal is misdirected.

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes
. 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved
. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14
But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Two very important points. First of all, Paul affirms that salvific faith is a matter of subjective appropriation. A person must believe in his heart and confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and that he is risen from the dead to be saved.

Second, Paul urges evangelism precisely because there is no salvation apart from this subjective appropriation. Notice the logical implication of verses 13-16. All who call on the name Lord Jesus will be saved. But how can they call on one in whom they have never believed and how can they believe in someone about whom they have never heard? In other words, to call on Christ and be saved necessarily requires knowing about the person of Christ. An amorphous spirituality directed toward the ambiguous “divine” will not do. According to Paul, faith in Christ alone saves.

Romans 10:1-17 is the passage Fr. Tom leaves out of his apology. He mentions the section running from Romans 9-11 but suggests a conclusion the actual text simply cannot support.

Charge against Episcopalians: Jesus is only one of many paths to God instead of the only way.

As Bill Coats notes, most in our church believe Jesus to be the sole path to salvation. However, there has always been room for other views, including St. Paul’s argument to the contrary in his Epistle to the Romans (chapters 9-11), where he argues that the Jews remain the people of God and Christians have been grafted into Jewish holy history.

First of all perhaps the majority of parishioners in the Episcopal Church believe that Jesus is the sole path to salvation, but many of the most influential leaders do not. More on this in a moment.

Secondly, Fr. Tom argues that even if there are some who believe there are many roads to salvation, it’s quite alright because Paul (of all people) believed the same. What follows is an amazingly inaccurate characterization of what Paul says with regard to the Jewish people. Yes, Paul does say that Gentile believers do not constitute a self-existent "branch" in themselves. However, through faith in Jesus Christ, Paul says, they have been grafted into the "living olive branch", made descendants of Abraham by adoption, joining together with the remnant of Abraham's "natural" descendants (believing Jews including Paul himself).

But Gentile believers are not to be arrogant. They are adopted. They have been igrafted. They are not natural children. God is blessing them with adoption through Jesus Christ in hopes of arousing such jealously in the Jewish people that they will turn and embrace the rejected Savior.

11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! 13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Notice the “if” clause in verse 23. That “if” is crucial. It indicates that what he is about to say in the remainder of chapter 11 below is consistent with what he has already claimed in chapter 10 above, that salvation comes through the subjective appropriation of the gospel of Jesus Christ:

25 Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” 28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen

In this remarkable passage Paul reveals the God is not finished with his chosen people. “God’s gift and his call are irrevocable.” The Jewish people, Paul’s people, have been cut off because of their lack of faith in Christ. But this is only temporary. God is faithful to his covenant. For that reason somehow, and God’s ways are "unsearchable" so who knows how, all of Israel will be saved.

The question is: does this mean that they will be saved apart from Jesus Christ? As Paul would say: by no means! There is nothing in the text to suggest such a thing and everything to suggest the opposite: that Israel will “somehow” be saved through Jesus Christ precisely because God is a covenant keeping God. Moreover, a very strong case can be made that Paul is predicting that all of Israel will be saved not just “through Christ” but through the subjective appropriation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in accordance with the understanding articulated in Article 18 above.

To sum up, the consistent and unbroken New Testament witness is that salvation is found in Christ alone. While there may be some differences within Christendom with regard to those who live beyond the reach of the gospel (whether subjective appropriation of the gospel of Jesus Christ is necessary), all are agreed that the only way to find salvation is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way, no other vehicle to the divine.

Unfortunately, the Episcopal Church failed to affirm her commitment to this unbroken testimony of the scriptures and unified proclamation of the Church when the House of Deputies by a vote of 70.5% to 29.5% refused to consider Resolution D058. The resolution read:

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church declares its unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved (Article XVIII); and be it further

Resolved, That we acknowledge the solemn responsibility placed upon us to share Christ with all persons when we hear His words, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6); and be it further

Resolved, That we affirm that in Christ there is both the substitutionary essence of the Cross and the manifestation of God's unlimited and unending love for all persons; and be it further Resolved, That we renew our dedication to be faithful witnesses to all persons of the saving love of God perfectly and uniquely revealed in Jesus and upheld by the full testimony of Holy Scripture.

Some would have you believe that this rejection is meaningless because, as Fr. Tom says, the majority of Episcopalians believe that salvation is found in Christ alone.

It may be true that the majority hold to this essential tenet (there’s really no way to tell), but you would never know it by listening to the words of Episcopalian leaders.

Here is Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori in a recent Time Magazine interview:

Q:Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?

A: We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.

Notice the question offered the PB-elect the opportunity to say something in keeping with at least the Roman Catholic understanding of salvation. She could have said, for example, “Christ is the only way to salvation but we believe that Jesus can work in the lives of those who have never heard the gospel.”

Instead her answer goes beyond the differences within Christendom and posits a pluralistic path to salvation not necessarily tied to the person and work of Christ. Christ is “our” vehicle to “the divine.” But unless we want to “put God in a box” we must assume that there “other ways.”

This comes very close to a direct refutation of the very words of Christ himself who, as we saw above, said “I am the way” and there is no other.

But, of course, the PB-elect is far from alone.

Here’s a section of bishop John Chane’s (bishop of the Diocese Washington) Christmas Eve sermon at the National Cathedral in 2003:

And what was God thinking . . . when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the Law to Moses? And what was God thinking . . . when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the sacred Quran to the prophet Muhammad? And what was God thinking . . . when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Were these just random acts of association and coincidence or was the Angel Gabriel who appears as the named messenger of God in the Jewish Old Testament, the Christian New Testament Gospels, and the Quran of Islam, really the same miraculous messenger of God who proclaimed to a then emerging religious, global community and to us this morning that we are ALL children of the living God? And as such we are called to acknowledge that as Christians, Jews and Muslims we share a common God and the same divine messenger.

And, of course, who can forget bishop Swing of California (ret) founder of the United Religions Initiative, a group he hopes will one day become like the United Nations of Religion. Here’s the charter. Bishop Swing hopes to be the Christian ambassador to the URI.

Today the challenge is whether to aim at being a nice international interfaith group or aim at changing world history. The reason I am going to work for URI at this time is to focus us on the latter goal. I will try to raise one hundred million dollars, be a spokesperson throughout the world, and assist in public relations.

How does my past factor in my future? I look at it as if I have taken all of the Christian core courses and now I would like to declare my major: interfaith relations. I intend to go deeper in my Christian faith with this curriculum.

Bishop Swing visited Virginia Theological Seminary during my middler year and preached in the seminary chapel on John 14:6. It was, as you might guess, a tragic sermon that reduced Jesus to something quite similar to the PB-elect’s one “vehicle to the divine” among many.

A few of us walked out during the peace.

There are, as I am sure you know, many more examples scattered across the internet of prominent “mainstream” Episcopal leaders denying the univocal testimony of the scriptures and universal profession of the Church that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone but were they all to be included, “the world itself,” as John says, “could not contain the books that would be written”. Well, at least that would make this essay far longer than it already is.

Suffice it to say that one reason the Episcopal Church has fallen into heresy is because of the widespread conviction among prominent leaders that Jesus Christ is unnecessary.

But I suppose it doesn’t really matter all that much because, in the words of +Katharine Jefferts Schori’s predecessor:

"Broadly speaking, the Episcopal Church is in conflict with Scripture. One would have to say that the mind of Christ operative in the church over time has led the church to, in effect, contradict the words of the Gospel.”

Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
Sermon delivered in Salt Lake City, UT, April 27, 2005

For once I can agree with Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. The Episcopal Church has contradicted the words of the Gospel.

But the mind of Christ had nothing to do with it.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 08/31/2006 6:02:51 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; cf_river_rat; fgoodwin; secret garden; MountainMenace; SICSEMPERTYRANNUS; kaibabbob; ...
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

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Resource for Traditional Anglicans:
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 08/31/2006 6:03:42 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d, N0t Y0urs |)
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To: sionnsar
I tried to read it but nodded off.

But if I grabbed the bottom line was "we are behind you and following, Lord Jesus!"

Praise Him, we are all right here behind you, Lord (Lord, Sweet Lord!)

3 posted on 08/31/2006 6:09:01 PM PDT by Dark Skies (The Light will banish the darkness!)
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To: sionnsar

This is an interesting and at base a Protestant read of The Faith. There is another way. Orthodoxy refuses to speculate as a general proposition on theosis outside The Church, though there are those, a minority but not an insubstantial one, who hold that there is none outside The Church, The majority, however, in accord with many of the Fathers, merely observe that we know not whither the Spirit goes and say no more. Sometimes its better to simply leave a mystery a mystery. The foregoing notwithstanding, there is no question in Orthodoxy about whether or not there is any way to the Father save through His Son.

4 posted on 08/31/2006 6:16:41 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

Yes indeed, and it begs the old questions "What about unbaptized babies?" "What about aborted babies?" "What about children who lose their lives before any education or revelation to them about Christ is possible?"

The Catholic answer is: We cannot answer absolutely, because it has not been revealed to us, but we believe in a merciful and loving Father who created these children, and most of us simply cannot believe that he would cast them away into damnation for not doing what they had no choice to do. It's a mystery how God does it, but it would be consistent with everything else we know about God to have faith that he does do it.

That seems to be the Orthodox position, just expressed a little bit more positively.

5 posted on 08/31/2006 6:58:43 PM PDT by Vicomte13 (The Crown is amused.)
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To: Kolokotronis

I found an article about this on OrthodoxInfo:

This is a chapter from The Non-Orthodox: The Orthodox Teaching on Christians Outside of the Church. This
book was originally published in 1999 by Regina Orthodox Press in Salisbury, MA (Frank Schaeffer’s
publishing house). For the complete book, as well as reviews and related articles, go to (© Patrick Barnes, 1999, 2004)

I. A Burning Question

In the latest edition of The Orthodox Church, Bishop Kallistos (Ware) raises the
question, “If Orthodox claim to constitute the one true Church, what then do they
consider to be the status of those Christians who do not belong to their communion?”1
For many Christians today—both Orthodox and heterodox who are seriously
contemplating a conversion to Orthodoxy—, this is a burning question.
It is typically Protestants, more than other Christians, who wrestle with this issue.
The exclusivity of the Orthodox Church—namely, Her claim to be the one and only
True Ark of Salvation (cf. 1 Peter 3:20ff) established by the Lord Jesus Christ, preserving
unadulterated the very criterion of Christianity—runs counter to everything they have
been taught about the nature of the Church. A marketing manager of a major Orthodox
publishing house specializing in “evangelistic” literature was once heard to remark that
the number of phone calls and faxes her company receives on the question of the
ecclesial and eternal status of heterodox Christians is consistently high. Many Orthodox
are interested in this issue, and this book is in part an attempt to provide a cogent
The problem with this and other questions relating to the boundaries of the Church
is that there currently exists a variety of contradictory answers. Those who have a
reasonable knowledge of the state of Orthodoxy today know that certain aspects of
ecclesiology are hotly debated. This is especially true with regard to the status of those
not in visible communion with the Church. Several decades ago, the Orthodox
theologian and ecumenical activist Nicolas Zernov made the following comment upon
this sad state of affairs:

One of the Anglican delegates [at an ecumenical gathering in Oxford in 1973], Canon
Allchin, asked the Orthodox, “Are we, according to your opinion, inside or outside of
the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?” A lively discussion followed but no
answer was given, and one of the leading Orthodox theologians frankly confessed his
ignorance. He said, “I don’t know”. Such a lack of knowledge among theologians who
claim to speak in the name of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church can easily
perplex those who are not familiar with the sharp disagreements among Eastern
Christians in regard to the status of other Christian confessions.2

Timothy [now Bishop Kallistos] Ware, The Orthodox Church (London: Penguin Books, 1993 [1963]), pp.
“The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the Anglicans,” Sobornost, 6:8 (1973), p. 529.

The whole book is there for folks to read...

6 posted on 09/01/2006 7:52:46 AM PDT by kawaii
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To: kawaii

That site, K, is a bit, shall we say, right wing, in its pov. If I recall correctly, it is run by a convert in England. While the site has a wealth of useful resources, some of the commentary is distinctly "non-mainstream".

+Kallistos, on the other hand, tends to be rather too Western and Anglican in his mindset, at least in the opinion of some of us. He too is a convert...from Anglicanism.

7 posted on 09/01/2006 8:43:08 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

Unsure what you mean by right wing...

The book seems interesting though, and I thought the summary of the events at a meeting between Orthodox and Anglican leaders was interesting...

Previously I'd just assumed that all the Orthodox pretty well feel salvation only lies in the Orthodox church. I didn't realize there was as much confusion/question on the issue as the book suggests.

8 posted on 09/01/2006 9:05:19 AM PDT by kawaii
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To: kawaii

"Previously I'd just assumed that all the Orthodox pretty well feel salvation only lies in the Orthodox church. I didn't realize there was as much confusion/question on the issue as the book suggests."

I don't think its confusion but rather more simply a matter of simply leaving a mystery a mystery, rather like the "mechanics" of the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ at the Divine Liturgy. Its just not something we speculate on because we literally don't know. There are, as I said, some who maintain that there is no theosis outside the bounds of the Orthodox Church, but they tend to be Orthodox versions of the Latin Church's sede vacantists. Many (but not all) belong to the various "One True, Honest to Goodness, Real Orthodox Church", or variations of the same.

By the way, most anything by +Kallistos is a good read to someone with a Western mindset.

9 posted on 09/01/2006 9:31:19 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

Good points.

10 posted on 09/01/2006 10:19:11 AM PDT by kawaii
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