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Back To Basics


Castiel233
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Much is made of Christianity and opinions are divided over this text or that meaning, but when you really get down to the studs of Christianity, when you really go to basics all it is this:

 

God saves you from his wrath, with His love, depending on what metaphysical beliefs you were holding just prior to death. 

 

 

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Well, there is the doctrine of eternal security of course...  Once a believer always a believer.

 

It's actually quite good fun watching Christians tie themselves in knots over former-believers as a result.  The only conclusion for them is that the "apostate" was never a "true believer" in the first place - which seems rather to beg the question of how the "reality" of a believer's faith can be assured, which in turn makes a nonsense of eternal security.

 

I would say the basics are "god saves those he decides to save and chucks everyone else away on the basis of a whim and of whatever faith he has decided to impart".  Not that any Christian would put it like that...

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I'm going to play the Devil's advocate here and offer a Christian perspective (the irony!). What you said is technically true but most traditional Christians, the Orthodox for example, would argue that salvation works on a gradient; i.e. progression from a fallen state to a holy one (unity with Christ). It's called theosis, a never-ending process that doesn't guarantee your admission to Heaven, and it includes not only beliefs, but actions as well. There is one popular and ancient Orthodox teaching about salvation, that after death we pass through "toll-houses" where our bad deeds are weighed against our good ones, and this determines whether demons drag you down to Hell. Obviously this is a contentious topic in the "faith vs works" debate that has existed since Christianity's inception. You can read more about the toll-house theory here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_toll_house Of course, it's pure fantasy, but I've met lots of people who believe it!

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PariSiamo:: Just one question. Do the Orthodox rely on the bible for their doctrine of gradual salvation? bill

No. The teachings of the patristics ("Early Church fathers") are extremely important in Orthodox theology, along with the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Patristic consensus is more or less the Orthodox equivalent of papal infallibility.

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One more question. Do they believe in the resurrection of christ. ?

Yes, of course! PariSiamo

 

Hmmm. Without the bible to back them up, eh? bill

 

Bill-

 

Not quite. The Bible is seen as a big cog in the wheel of Orthodox tradition; needless to say it's extremely important to them. They just don't view it as the ultimate authority on theology. Orthodox theology is drawn largely from the writings of the Early Church fathers (patristics), the theologians/saints who formulated the Nicene Creed, held the Ecumenical Councils, and more or less compiled the Bible as we know it today. Athanasius, Augustine, and John Chrysystom are examples of Early Church fathers- you may recognize those names. And of course the Church saw their teachings as consistent with the Bible- when disagreement arose among theologians, one party would usually be disowned by the Church (like in the case of Arian or Origen) depending on who was in political control at the time. Sometimes theologians could get away with disagreement by claiming to interpet Scripture in a different way- metaphorically, for example, in a way that was still consistent with the Nicene Creed and official dogma of the Church.

 

So in brief, the Orthodox are different from Protestants in that the Orthodox don't believe in "sola scriptura"- they view their tradition as instead encompassing Scripture, the councils, patristics, and rituals all in loose harmony with each other.

 

By the way, this makes it much more difficult to convince an Orthodox Christian he's wrong based on a refutation of the Bible. (Most) Orthodox don't care if you point out inconsistencies or fallacies in the Bible because they don't think it's inerrant but "divinely inspired" at most, very much open to varying methods of interpretation, and only one element of their faith.

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Sounds a little like the Jewish system after the loss of the Temple in 70 A.D.

Yes, lots of similarities with Judaism. The Orthodox have long used that to further legitimize their faith as the only true "successor" to Judaism (e.g. through the New Covenant).

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Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, PariSiamo. bill

No problem! I'm more than happy to share what I know, so that if anyone here gets into a debate with an Orthodox Christian (Christianity's second largest denomination, by the way) they'll be equipped with at least a little background information.

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