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Featured Orthodox vs. Protestant belief differences?

Discussion in 'Denomination Specific Theology' started by friend of, May 18, 2017.

  1. friend of

    friend of Well-Known Member

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    Trying to figure out which one I align more with, Orthodox or Protestant.

    If anyone of sufficient knowledge can point out the salient differences.

    Much obliged!

    God bless~
     
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  2. Saint Beloved

    Saint Beloved Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi, did you check out the statements of faith in each community and faith group yet? That should give you a brief heads up :)
     
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  3. tstor

    tstor Where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

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    I believe we could be here all day pointing out differences. However, the two that are most important in my mind are sola Scriptura and sola fide, both of which are rejected by Orthodox Christians.
     
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  4. Silmarien

    Silmarien There is nothing new under the sun.

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    Sola Scriptura, yes. Sola fide... I think Protestants and Catholics/Orthodox are just using different words to talk about the same thing here. Or at least I hope so, for the Protestants' sake.

    The biggest differences I would say are that Orthodoxy has a somewhat different take on original sin that treats it more like an illness to be healed and generally approaches salvation more in terms of a journey towards becoming more like God (theosis). Sacraments are of utmost importance too. And if we're talking about Evangelical Protestantism, another difference is that Orthodoxy rejects substitutionary atonement and favors Christus Victor.

    It'd be worthwhile to go ask in the Orthodox forum. Many of the people there are Protestant converts to Orthodoxy and will really be able to answer this question.
     
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  5. tstor

    tstor Where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

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    Protestants affirm the following:
    Salvation is through grace alone by faith alone.

    Orthodox Christians affirm the following:
    Salvation is through grace alone by faith.

    The difference is subtle but of vital importance.
     
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  6. Saint Beloved

    Saint Beloved Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Phrased like that... I'm afraid in my ignorance and blinded by my protestant bias I don't understand the 'vital' part so I'll stick around on the sidelines and get me some learning.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  7. friend of

    friend of Well-Known Member

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    I'm some sort of weird hybrid then. I gravitate toward the concept of theosis oulined here^

    ...but I view sacraments as more a shadow of things and certainly not of "utmost importance"

    ...and there are many verses that state (IIRC if i've read correctly) that Christ is the propitiation for all sins, absorbing that punishment, thus making him substitutionary atonement for all who come to Him. At the same time, believing that He defeated the powers of sin and death.

    So I'm very confused by these very subtle differences. Going to need to really think about it and ask for guidance here.
     
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  8. friend of

    friend of Well-Known Member

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    I think it may have to do with living in a way that is always regenerating aka. becoming Christ-like in heart and mind.

    Whereas with Protestantism faith alone is good enough and sufficient heart/mind change is not required for acceptance.

    I could be wrong and likely am missing something.
     
  9. Silmarien

    Silmarien There is nothing new under the sun.

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    Protestants generally believe that faith should lead to good works, no? A barren tree bears no fruit, after all. I feel like the "faith vs. works" issue is a strawman and people just have different ways of approaching sanctification.

    Well, theosis isn't unique to Orthodoxy. It's just approached a little bit differently.

    As for sacraments and icons in general, you're going to need to ask the actual Orthodox about that. It's a really interesting approach to what reality actually is, but I'm not qualified to try to explain it. (I may have to convert at some point, but I'm not ready for that yet.)

    Personally, I think it depends on how you understand the Jewish practice of ritual sacrifice. We had a sermon Good Friday about how the Jewish sacrifices were more about washing away sin so that God wouldn't depart from the temple (where they believed him to be literally residing), rather than being payment per se, which changes the equation a bit.
     
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  10. Saint Beloved

    Saint Beloved Well-Known Member Supporter

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    *** This is written with a non confrontational intention just seeking simplistic clarification ***

    So on one hand there are rituals as symbolic sacrifices that gives one grace that slowly over a lifetime adds up and turns the believer more into a Christ like man or woman on earth so they are perfect to go into Heaven through obedience and on the other hand there is a book and a hope that in the next life the believer will be Christ like man or woman and changed instantly at His second coming to go into Heaven?
    So on one hand one obtains salvation through works and the other obtains salvation to be able to do works?
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  11. Winken

    Winken Jonah !!! Supporter

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    Grace through Faith, the Gift of God, not of works, lest we should boast. That is what is offered and that is what occurs upon each confession of Faith in Jesus as Savior. No other argument, no other plea, it is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for each of us making that confession, Romans 10:8-13, Jew or Gentile. Paul's lament, his heart's cry, for the Jewish folk, reaches out to we non-Jews, as well. There is no structure, no regimen, no further "steps." It is finished, the battle is over.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  12. tstor

    tstor Where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

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    Well, let's take the understanding of salvation directly from a Greek Orthodox article:

    The teaching of the New Testament is that God's grace, our free will, and our faith and good works, are intimately connected. The Holy Spirit energizes in us both faith and good works as we thirst for and seek God's grace. Neither faith nor good works can be presented as merit before God, but only as return gifts in humility, love, and thanksgiving. Let us not forget as well the sober words of James: "Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead . . . Faith is completed by works . . . A person is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:17, 22, 24). By free will, faith, and earnest labors, we work together with the grace of God in the awesome gift and mystery of salvation. As St. Paul puts it: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work His good pleasure" (Phil 2:12-13). To God Almighty, together with the Son and the Holy Spirit, be praise and worship forever. Amen.​

    As we can see, the concept of salvation by grace alone through faith alone is not present. "Earnest labors" are needed for us to "work together" with the grace of God in the "gift and mystery of salvation." This is very subtle yet extremely vital. While the above quotation does state that "[n]either faith nor good works can be presented as merit before God," it immediatly contradicts this undersatnding. Let's now look at the protestant position:

    We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God's perfect justice.

    We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ's righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church. (Cambridge Declaration)

    [T]hose who trust Jesus Christ for justification by faith alone receive a perfect righteousness that is reckoned to them. Those who attempt to establish their own righteousness or mix faith with works only receive the terrible wage that is due all who fall short of perfection. So the individual as well as the church stands or falls with the principle of sola fide. Israel's apostasy was rooted in their abandonment of justification by faith alone: "For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3). (Jesus' Perspective on Sola Fide, John MacArthur)​

    These two excerpts that display the protestant understanding are in direct contradiction with the understanding presented by the Greek Orthodox article. However, a more full discussion on justification can be found in the writings of Jonathan Edwards. I will provide the most meaty portions below along with my own highlighting for emphasis:

    Here, if I may humbly express what seems evident to me, though faith be indeed the condition of justification so as nothing else is, yet this matter is not clearly and sufficiently explained by saying that faith is the condition of justification, and that because the word seems ambiguous, both in common use, and also as used in divinity. In one sense, Christ alone performs the condition of our justification and salvation. In another sense, faith is the condition of justification, and in another sense, other qualifications and acts are conditions of salvation and justification too. There seems to be a great deal of ambiguity in such expressions as are commonly used (which yet we are forced to use), such as condition of salvation, what is required in order to salvation or justification, the terms of the covenant, and the like, and I believe they are understood in very different senses by different persons. And besides, as the word condition is very often understood in the common use of language, faith is not the only thing in us that is the condition of justification. For by the word condition, as it is very often (and perhaps most commonly) used, we mean anything that may have the place of a condition in a conditional proposition, and as such is truly connected with the consequent, especially if the proposition holds both in the affirmative and negative, as the condition is either affirmed or denied. If it be that with which, or which being supposed, a thing shall be, and without which, or it being denied, a thing shall not be, we in such a case call it a condition of that thing. But in this sense faith is not the only condition of salvation and justification. For there are many things that accompany and flow from faith, with which justification shall be, and without which, it will not be, and therefore are found to be put in Scripture in conditional propositions with justification and salvation, in multitudes of places. Such are love to God, and love to our brethren, forgiving men their trespasses, and many other good qualifications and acts. And there are many other things besides faith, which are directly proposed to us, to be pursued or performed by us, in order to eternal life, which if they are done, or obtained, we shall have eternal life, and if not done, or not obtained, we shall surely perish. And if faith was the only condition of justification in this sense, I do not apprehend that to say faith was the condition of justification, would express the sense of that phrase of Scripture, of being justified by faith. There is a difference between being justified by a thing, and that thing universally, necessarily, and inseparably attending justification: for so do a great many things that we are not said to be justified by.

    [...]​

    It having been shown out of the Scripture, that it is only by faith, or the soul's receiving and uniting to the Savior who has wrought our righteousness, that we are justified. It therefore remains, that the acts of a Christian life cannot be concerned in this affair any otherwise than as they imply, and are the expressions of faith, and may be looked upon as so many acts of reception of Christ the Savior. But the determining what concerns acts of Christian obedience can have in justification in this respect, will depend on the resolving of another point, viz. whether any other act of faith besides the first act, has any concern in our justification, or how far perseverance in faith, or the continued and renewed acts of faith, have influence in this affair. And it seems manifest that justification is by the first act of faith, in some respects, in a peculiar manner, because a sinner is actually and finally justified as soon as he has performed one act of faith, and faith in its first act does, virtually at least, depend on God for perseverance, and entities to this among other benefits. But yet the perseverance of faith is not excluded in this affair. It is not only certainly connected with justification, but it is not to be excluded from that on which the justification of a sinner has a dependence, or that by which he is justified.

    [...]

    So that although the sinner is actually and finally justified on the first act of faith, yet the perseverance of faith, even then, comes into consideration, as one thing on which the fitness of acceptance to life depends. God in the act of justification, which is passed on a sinner’s first believing, has respect to perseverance, as being virtually contained in that first act of faith, and it is looked upon, and taken by him that justifies, as being as it were a property in that faith. God has respect to the believer’s continuance in faith, and he is justified by that, as though it already were, because by divine establishment it shall follow, and it being by divine constitution connected with that first faith, as much as if it were a property in it, it is then considered as such, and so justification is not suspended. But were it not for this, it would be needful that it should be suspended, till the sinner had actually persevered in faith.

    [...]

    On the whole, it appears that the perseverance of faith is necessary, even to the congruity of justification, and that not the less, because a sinner is justified, and perseverance promised, on the first act of faith. But God, in that justification, has respect, not only to the past act of faith, but to his own promise of future acts, and to the fitness of a qualification beheld as yet only in his own promise. And that perseverance in faith is thus necessary to salvation, not merely as a sine qua non, or as a universal concomitant of it, but by reason of such an influence and dependence, seems manifest by many Scriptures, I would mention two or three — Heb. 3:6, "Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." Verse 14, "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." Heb. 6:12, "Be ye followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Rom. 11:20, "Well, because of unbelief they were broken off; but thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear."

    [...]

    And thus it is that a truly Christian walk, and the acts of an evangelical, child-like, believing obedience, are concerned in the affair of our justification, and seem to be sometimes so spoken of in Scripture, viz. as an expression of a persevering faith in the Son of God, the only Savior. Faith unites to Christ, and so gives a congruity to justification, not merely as remaining a dormant principle in the heart, but as being and appearing in its active expressions. The obedience of a Christian, so far as it is truly evangelical, and performed with the Spirit of the Son sent forth into the heart, has all relation to Christ the Mediator, and is but an expression of the soul's believing unition to Christ. All evangelical works are works of that faith that worketh by love, and every such act of obedience, wherein it is inward, and the act of the soul, is only a new effective act of reception of Christ, and adherence to the glorious Savior. Hence that of the apostle, Gal. 2:20, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, is by the faith of the Son of God." And hence we are directed, in whatever we do, whether in word or deed, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Col. 3:17.

    [...]

    These things ["the promises" (Heb. 6:12), salvation and eternal life] being promised to our virtue and obedience, argues no more, than that there is a connection between them and evangelical obedience, which, I have already observed, is not the thing in dispute. All that can be proved by obedience and salvation being connected in the promise, is that obedience and salvation are connected in fact, which nobody denies, and whether it be owned or denied, is, as has been shown, nothing to the purpose. There is no need that an admission to a title to salvation should be given on the account of our obedience, in order to the promises being true. If we find such a promise, that he that obeys shall be saved, or he that is holy shall be justified, all that is needful, in order to such promises being true, is that it be really so: that he that obeys shall be saved, and that holiness and justification shall indeed go together. That proposition may be a truth, that he that obeys shall be saved, because obedience and salvation are connected together in fact, and yet an acceptance to a title to salvation not be granted upon the account of any of our own virtue or obedience. What is a promise, but only a declaration of future truth, for the comfort and encouragement of the person to whom it is declared? Promises are conditional propositions, and, as has been already observed, it is not the thing in dispute, whether other things besides faith may not have the place of the condition in such propositions wherein pardon and salvation are the consequent.

    [...]

    What has been said in answer to these objections, may also, I hope, abundantly serve for an answer to another objection, often made against this doctrine, viz. that it encourages licentiousness in life. For, from what has been said, we may see that the Scripture doctrine of justification by faith alone, without any manner of goodness or excellency of ours, does in no wise diminish either the necessity or benefit of a sincere evangelical universal obedience. Man's salvation is not only indissolubly connected with obedience, and damnation with the want of it, in those who have opportunity for it, but depends upon it in many respects. It is the way to salvation, and the necessary preparation for it. Eternal blessings are bestowed in reward for it, and our justification in our own consciences and at the day of judgment depends on it, as the proper evidence of our acceptable state; and that even in accepting of us as entitled to life in our justification, God has respect to this, as that on which the fitness of such an act of justification depends: so that our salvation does as truly depend upon it, as if we were justified for the moral excellency of it. And besides all this, the degree of our happiness to all eternity is suspended on, and determined by, the degree of this. So that this gospel-scheme of justification is as far from encouraging licentiousness, and contains as much to encourage and excite to strict and universal obedience, and the utmost possible eminency of holiness, as any scheme that can be devised, and indeed unspeakably more. (sermon on justification by faith alone, Jonathan Edwards)
    That can be a lot to process, so let me do a brief summary of it. Christ's righteousness is imputed to us and we are accepted by God based only on that righteousness. We are accepted by God on no other grounds (i.e., not by faith, works, or anything else). Yet this does not mean that there are no conditions attached to justification (and I, like Edwards, am using "justification" in the forensic sense of being declared righteous despite our own unrighteousness). Works are necessary for justification. Yet those works do not contribute to our justification.

    God justifies us based on the righteousness imputed to us from Christ. As well, it is the work of God that we are baptized in the Spirit (i.e., regenerated) and ultimately sanctified. Works will "accompany and flow from faith." I hope this helps!
     
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  13. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Lutherans for Our Lady Supporter CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team

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    The sacraments are of "utmost importance" in Orthodoxy. Basically everything centers around it.
     
  14. friend of

    friend of Well-Known Member

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    The way I view it —God was, during Jesus' ministry, done with OT rituals and sent his only begotten son Jesus, with His eternal nature, to be the everlasting atonement for sin. We are in the Age of Grace where His sacrifice is sufficient for all sin and only by faith in His sacrifice can we be absolved of sin eternally.

    In my understanding, rituals like sacrifices and use of incense during gatherings are unnecessary today. They were required back in OT before Christ reigned in new covenant, which abolished old covenant practices of sanctification such as the aformentioned. Since we are no longer under OT law we do not need to partake of such practices anymore (and it's actually backward to do so) Galatians 5:4

    Theosis, a progressive transformation of one's heart to resemble the heart of Jesus, takes time. Additionally, faith without works is dead and true saving faith will produce good works (fruit).

    Titus 3:4-7, Romans 2:6-7, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Peter 1:14, 1 Timothy 6:11-12, Romans 8:5-6, Galatians 5:16-18, Luke 21:34, Colossians 3:1-8, 1 John 3:3....

    ^ These verses are all involved with promoting the sanctification of the heart to bring it into conformity with the heart of Christ. However, I retain that we cannot know this completion until we are made perfect by Jesus Christ Himself after leaving this world.
     
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  15. Silmarien

    Silmarien There is nothing new under the sun.

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    In Orthodoxy, salvation is by grace, not works, but you're still required to cooperate with God. There's no doctrine of eternal security; falling back into sin is always a danger. I believe that's one of the reasons which is why fasting is such a focus in Orthodoxy. If you have the discipline to fast regularly, you'll be better equiped to resist genuine temptation as well.

    Salvation Is Indeed By Grace

    Well, the question remains: how does that work? If Jewish ritual sacrifice is understood as a matter of purification rather than expiation, the only thing that changes is how the mechanism is to be understood. He'd be removing the effects of sin for all time and bridging the gap between humanity and God instead of paying a price. And that's Christus Victor. (I don't believe Orthodoxy takes the Jewish ritual sacrifice approach to their theology, since everything I hear from them is much more mystical, but it's certainly in the same vein.)
     
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  16. friend of

    friend of Well-Known Member

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    Then I suppose Orthodoxy doesn't suit me.

    One reason for holding such a view; the sacrament of marriage can be invalidated by 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

    Could the other sacraments be open to similar scriptural vulnerabilities?
     
  17. friend of

    friend of Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I'm looking more into Christus Victor right now. Could you give your opinion on what I'm reading in this link below?

    The Problem with Christus Victor

    Through faith in His extending grace. We die with Jesus Galatians 2:20-21 and become the flawless sacrifice that He was recognized by the Father as.

    But not everyone gets saved. So the effect of sin is still present in the world because many will still fall into judgement.

    Pretty sure it would be irrelevant what the OT customs were.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  18. Silmarien

    Silmarien There is nothing new under the sun.

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    Not a subscriber, so I can only read the first few paragraphs. From what I did read, it appears that their "problem" with the doctrine is specifically that it works better within the context of sin as a disease we suffer rather than in terms of guilt, i.e., it doesn't fit their particular approach to theology. Which may be true, but it doesn't mean that the issue of sin is treated any less seriously.

    In my eyes, it's a matter of interpretation. "The wages of sin is death." Does this mean that a sinner deserves nothing but death or that the eventual outcome of a lifetime enslaved to sin is ultimately spiritual death? Personally, I think the latter is experientially verifiable and the former is not.

    Which is why cooperation is necessary. You can live in a new world where sin and death have been overcome or continue to live in the old world. I've seen Evangelicals take the same approach--salvation is a gift left at everyone's doorstep, but you need to actually pick it up.

    Not if the intent is to understand what the Jewish writers of the New Testament meant by what they wrote about atonement in the context blood sacrifice. It might be worth looking into the New Perspective on Paul to see a historical approach to Paul's theology on atonement as well as other things.
     
  19. prodromos

    prodromos Senior Veteran Supporter

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  20. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    They're not. And the importance of the difference--along with an appreciation of the difficulty that exists when the two try to understand each other--can possibly be seen in the thread entitled "Sola Scriptura" which is currently active.
     
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