In Cambodia there are three Orthodox churches and the country’s sole priest, Father Roman, is using a Khmer translation of The Faith of the Saints: A Catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church from Saint Nicolai of Zica to teach Cambodian catechumens. The catechism is interesting in that it is from the 20th century and it is written by a recent saint.
Sadly for us, the edition we have (though it was initially published in the United States as Saint Nicolai immigrated there after World War II) is not always perfect–it has either suffered from incomplete proof-reading or bad translation. Nevertheless, it gives us a good overview of Orthodox theology in some western-oriented language. Saint Filaret of Moscow’s Longer Catechism is another such source written this way.
The following are highlights for the catechism which I think may shock both Orthodox and Protestant readers, but because they are written by a saint we know they have authority within the Church. For example, pages 9 through 12, which gives Saint Nicolai’s view of the Canon, names 66 books (as per the Protestant Canon) but also says that Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon “are used in the Church” not specifying what this means. The edition I read was printed by Serb National Federation in Pittsburgh, PA in 1949.
Salvation is not by our own effort
The Christian faith is the knowledge of Christ–the most important mysteries of being and life–which knowledgeable men can only accept only by believing in Him and never acquiring it by their own efforts (p. 5). (Note: I touched up sentence which originally said “Christ’s knowledge of most important mysteries” which I rendered “the knowledge of Christ…” in order to make the passage clearer. There appears to have been a translation/proofreading issue.)
How could the eternal justice of God allow that Jesus should die a cruel death being wholly innocent? He died for no sin of His own but for our sins. [The e]ternal justice of God required such an innocent and priceless sacrifice for Adam’s sin and ours (p. 25).
Under all circumstances our Lord [and] Saviour shall have the full number of the saved souls as He foresaw at the beginning of the world drama. And none of those who believe in Him and invoke His name shall perish (p. 32).
No salvation outside the Church
Can a man be saved outside the Church? No. For the Church is the depository of God’s grace, without which, no man can be saved. As an arm cut off from the body (p. 39).
No one who is outside the Church can be saved just as no one outside Noah’s ark could have been saved. — St. Dimitry of Rostov (quoted on p. 111)
Are we saved only by God’s grace? Yes, if we willingly accept God’s grace by faith expressed in good works (p. 47).
No salvation for the unbaptized
How then are considered the parents who carelessly let their little ones die unbaptised? As the killers of their own children (p. 49).
God permits evil
We are asking God [when we say “lead us not into temptation”] to remember our human weakness and not to try us by heavy afflictions for our edification, nor to allow the devil to tempt us to our destruction (p. 85).
I’m pretty sure St. Nikolai actually wrote the catechism in English himself, so any quirks are his.
Maybe, just some of the things are real hard to make out.
What is the real Orthodox view on the salvation of non-orthodox people?
In my view, St Nicolai gives it. It is the consistent teaching of the Church. What is your opinion on it?
I prefer the view of Patrick Barnes in ‘The Non Orthodox: The Orthodox Teaching on Christians Outside of the Church’.
Well, if he disagrees with the fathers, he is incorrect. We don’t choose the “truth” we prefer, rather, we submit to the teaching of the Scriptures as understood by the Church throughout the ages.
It is absurd, cruel and you know it.
I respectfully disagree. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one is owed salvation. People hate God and turn from Him, hate His bride too. Why would it be unfair to let someone, who does not want to marry Christ to live with the eternal consequences of their own decision?
Yeah, you are right. They all deserve to suffer painfully for all eternity, those damn christians who refuse to join the Orthodox Church. ALL OF THEM. Whatever devotion, faith or love for Christ they had was fake. Now go preach this doctrine. Spread the “Good News” of joy.
I think you are logically thinking about this wrong. If you are warned not to touch a burner on your stove, and you ignore that and burn your hand, is it God’s fault because He allowed you to hurt yourself?
Is there any reason why my comment is not published? Should I make any changes to it for it to be accepted?
Ok, it seems you did not reject it. Let me try posting it again:
(A reply for your conversation with Ricardo:)
I believe that the objection is that it seems it is not merely enough to be a Christian, but you also would have to be a church historian or another kind of “extra-biblical specialist” in order to find that Orthodoxy is the only true confession, and not Roman Catholisism or anything else. A person who has become Christian through missionary activity cannot be assumed to have the salvific hope that an Orthodox Christian would have, according to the reasoning, despite the gospel when being summed up in the soteriologically explicit passage in 1 Cor 15:1-5 mentions nothing about this, and it seems that the message is what gives legitimacy, not the organisatorial status of the messenger (cf. Luke 9:49f and 1 Cor 1:10-15). And there is no clear passages referring to a specific church organisation which one can put in the soteriological category akin to for instance 1 Cor 6:9.
Using your analogy, both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Church give the same warning applying their respective church organization, even if the Roman-Catholicism as I understand it do not hold onto as strict an interpretation of extra ecclesiam nulla salus as Orthodoxy. Do you hold that the Bible is formally sufficient to determine which position, if any of them, is correct? If no, is it materially sufficient? And if that is the case, one ought to have a extra-biblical proof text which establishes the truth of Orthodoxy just as convincingly (if not rigorously) as a mathematical theorem is established by materially sufficient axioms. (The analogy of your friend Dr. Brian Dellinger in your sola scriptura debate.) If this is not possible, one cannot have an objective way of having the Bible being soteriologically sufficient (2 Tim 3:15, cf. also Proverbs 30:6 and 1 Cor 2:2).
The existence of both these two historical churches holding to essentially the same claim about being the one true church should have as a consequence a much more qualified official apology for the truthfulness of it in official documents. One might of course think that e.g. the Catholic position of marriage is a strong proof of it being the only non-heretical church. A similar reasoning might be had on the confessional Lutheran side regarding the disallowal of intinction in the eucharist (Matt 26:27). This is too arbitrary, and it seems to me that overlasting orthopraxis among God’s people is not a necessary consequence of Matt 28:18-20 (1 Cor 13:8). (Consider this last point more of an ad hoc thought, though.) The Orthodox might say that the disallowal of filioque is a more central point due to its being a trinitarian subject, but how much knowledge should one demand of a lay Christian? I accept the Nicene creed even if my understanding of the contrast between “person” and “creature” is very limited, for example. (And even if I want to omit the filioque because not saying the filioque does not imply one says filioque is false while I am not convinced filioque is true, I have taken it that the procession in my church’s creed should only mean what the Bible says about these things, and thinking about e.g. 1 Cor 1:10, I have not omitted it. However, I admit that this is not entirely satisfactory, and that I perhaps should try to be as plain as possible (cf. Gal 2:11-14) and either replace “and” by “through” or (possibly liturgically less disturbing) omit the filioque without adding anything.)
This is a good reply and not one I can answer briefly. I have discussed it before on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRvUAOSOQQU&list=UUu9TDs-dxsf5InzXY7Vkk6Q&index=15
I will probably partake in a roundtable about the topic at some point.
I will say this briefly. Gal 5:21-22 is sufficient evidence that sectarianism is damnable. Ignatius, Irenaues, Cyprian, and every saint that comments on the topic is teaching “no salvation outside of the Church.”
My “unofficial” opinion is ultimately Augustinian. Those, in schism, who sincerely desire not to be in schism may be mystically joined to the Church. St Filaret of Moscow appeared to have this view. Augustine taught that those among the Donatists, that were geographically cut off from the Church, were not cut off from grace.
However, these are all pious speculations. What we must affirm is that salvation is only in the Church, because God laid down His life for His bride and it is faithless to tear yourself away from her, as Gal 5:21-22 states.
If we started with the position that all of us deserve Hell, then the issue of “How come this or that group is not saved” would be less important.