Two Different Views of Salvation: Protestant vs Orthodox – Which Makes More Sense to You?

If you are like me, you might not even know what the Orthodox Church is!

The Orthodox view salvation and the purpose of mankind through a different lens than most Protestants do. In this short video, you will see a very accurate portrayal of mainstream protestant soteriology which you will recognize immediately. You will also be introduced to the Orthodox view.

After you watch it, come back and share your thoughts about the video. Which view best represents the Gospel in your opinion?

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on May 13, 2014, in Christianity, Early Church History, The Christian Life, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Restless Pilgrim

    FYI, Eastern Catholics would also express salvation in these same terms (and this flow of thought isn’t completely absent in the West, either).

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  2. Both views Jim have Truth but both forget the important Truth of putting the flesh to death (Romans 8:12 -13 – Colossians 3:4-6 – Galatians 5 :24 -26) that causes us to sin and makes us hard hearted, without doing this we cannot be Born again and so be perfected in Love, when we are, we don’t sin, we have God’s seed or Nature and we have the mind of Christ and He does not choose to sin.(1Corinthians2:9-16)

    1 John 3:9 No one who is Born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been Born of God.

    To say we go on sinning but are forgiven is not confirmed in the Scriptures, yes our past sins are forgiven in Christ Jesus, this is the free gift of Salvation and we will not be punished for them but if we continue to sin we are still in darkness and have never had real heart repentance which means choosing to turn away from evil and seeking to do good by the empowering of The Holy Spirit, yes we can be forgiven if we sin before heart repentance, Jesus is our Advocate but if we say we have not sinned and so do not need Salvation we are calling God a liar. Paul showed us his battle with the flesh in Romans 7 and how to overcome it in Romans 8 & 6 and other Scriptures.

    Satan knows about Jesus but he does not know Jesus! yes he knows He is the Son of God but does not know what this means, he is defeated eternally, Satan lies that it doesn’t matter if we disobey God, he doesn’t want us to choose by The Spirit’s empowering to willingly obey and to show God’s Love in our words and actions, or to know Jesus has set us free (John 8:34-36) and redeemed us by His death and resurrection so we can obey fully. Satan does not walk in God’s Love, he only knows hate and wants us to be the same and to be bitter, unforgiving and to seek revenge.

    Christian Love from both of us- Anne

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  3. I’m no expert but my understanding is the Eastern Orthodox view of salvation focuses on our relationship with God whereas Protestants place emphasis on positional status with God. In the former one is saved as long as one abides in Christ as eternal salvation is not an object to be attained to but instead a relationship to be maintained – akin to the branches abiding in the vine. Only God is eternal so one has eternal life as long as one is in Christ. In the latter however, abiding is not so crucial because relationship with God has already been positionally secured. In other words, being in Christ was already secured at the atonement.
    Another significant difference is the doctrine of apocatastasis which I believe in – but do you really wanna go there?

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  4. “Another significant difference is the doctrine of apocatastasis which I believe in – but do you really wanna go there?”

    Oh Yes, let’s please go there. My understanding is that the church condemned Origen and his “All will be saved eventually” concept. I am pretty sure that the Orthodox reject this idea, though some within the Orthodox community might be hopeful that it is true.

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  5. Jim – that would be an excellent question to pose to someone well-versed in Eastern Orthodox matters and I am certainly not that person. It may be that there is a mixture of belief as in the case with Protestants where the doctrine of eternal security has been eternally debated. In the case of Origen, it is commonly concluded that his views on universalism were condemned at the 5th ecumenical council but there is evidence that all is not it appears at the surface. Inquiring minds want to know why was Origen condemned after his death and not during his lifetime since he was obviously a well-known figure and his teachings and writings were available for all to critique. I am fairly certain that the doctrinal police of that day would have questioned his teachings if they deemed it even approaching heresy. Also the council was convened without the consent and participation of the Pope. Was it due to political shenanigans or doctrinal issues? I don’t know but it does cast a cloud over the council. Another question is whether the council specifically condemned Origen’s teachings or a form of universalism that he did not espouse. Unfortunately, much of what Origen wrote was subsequently destroyed by these zealots so we are left with little of the puzzle pieces to put together.

    The Fifth Ecumenical Council has been contested as being an official and authorized Ecumenical Council because it was established not by the Pope, but the Emperor Justinian due to the Pope’s resistance to it. It should also be noted that the Fifth Ecumenical Council addressed what was called “The Three Chapters” [13] and was against a form of Origenism which truly had nothing to do with Origen and Origenist views. In fact, Popes Vigilius, Pelagius I (556–61), Pelagius II (579–90), and Gregory the Great(590–604) were only aware the Fifth Council specifically dealt with the Three Chapters and make no mention of Origenism or Universalism, nor spoke as if they knew of its condemnation even though Gregory the Great was opposed to the belief of universalism. See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11306b.htm

    Moreover, to make matters more confusing, it is very curious as to why Gregory of Nyssa – one of the Cappodician Fathers was hailed as the “father of fathers” – yet he subscribed to universalism. In fact the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381, which perfected the Nicene Creed, was participated in by the two Gregorys; Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory Nyssa. They were both universalists. If universalism was so widely condemned at the time it is rather doubtful to say the least that any council would select avowed universalists to participate in its deliberations and form doctrinal belief. And why was Origen supposedly condemned but not Gregory Nyssen? I smell a stinky fish lurking in the [c]annals of church history.

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    • I love the idea that everyone will be saved! Yet, I have a hard time accepting this since the idea has been thoroughly rejected throughout church history and the scriptures seem to be clear about it.

      I do realize though, that ones view of the Atonement shapes their view of salvation. If your view of the Atonement is more of a courtroom than a hospital (Reformed vs Orthodox) then there is NO way you can believe this or even consider it. The Orthodox hold to the Recapitulation Theory of the Atonement as opposed to the Penal Substitution Theory most Protestants are familiar with. Because of that, the Orthodox can be more open to the idea of universalism as a possibility, though not a probability. To read why the Penal Substitution theory of the Atonement MAY be incorrect. Follow this link:

      Warning: Your views may be seriously challenged!

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  6. There are variations in universalism so we must define what we are talking about. I believe in the blood of Christ as the only atonement for sin and a literal hell/lake of fire for all who reject Christ; however, the only difference is that I don’t believe those who end up in the lake of fire spend eternity there. And yes this view is challenged from all quarters so I come out of the closet every now and then as we are definitely in the minority! Some would label this view as heresy but if anything, I think it would be closer to heterodox. My professors in seminary were staunch Calvinists but over the last few years I have studied the subject off & on and have come to believe that it is the most consistent with the whole of Scripture.

    For example for comparison sake:*
    (God is strong enough to save everyone) + (God does not want to save everyone) = Everyone is not saved – CALVINISM

    (God is not strong enough to save everyone) + (God does want to save everyone) = Everyone is not saved – ARMINIANISM

    (God is strong enough to save everyone) + (God does want to save everyone) = Everyone is saved – UNIVERSALISM
    *Patristic Universalism; David Burnfield

    Of course the above is insufficient to prove anything but it provides some semblance of a framework. One of the things that piqued my interest in the subject is this quote from G. Morgan Campbell sometimes referred to as the Prince of Expositors who wrote in his book: God’s Methods With Men:
    “Let me say to Bible students that we must be very careful how we use the word ‘eternity.’ We have fallen into great error in our constant use of that word. There is no word in the whole Book of God corresponding with our ‘eternal,’ which, as commonly used among us, means absolutely without end. The strongest Scripture word used with reference to the existence of God is – ‘unto the ages of ages,’ which does not literally mean eternally.” (p. 185-6)

    The most difficult thing for me to wrap my head around was if this view is true then how could we have gotten this so wrong as it is central to the gospel message. Your writings which I frequently agree with challenge the status quo so perhaps this is no different except that the stakes are much higher.

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    • Hi Evan,

      I am glad you stop in and comment! I appreciate your input!

      “I believe in the blood of Christ as the only atonement for sin and a literal hell/lake of fire for all who reject Christ; however, the only difference is that I don’t believe those who end up in the lake of fire spend eternity there.”

      That is interesting and I have never even heard of it. What is this view called?

      One of the things I have learned over the years is that when God describes humanity as “sheep” he wasn’t kidding! We all have a tendency to believe what we are taught as children and as young Christians. We follow our leaders. We do it politically as well. We tend to embrace whatever view our parents have and then the view of our pastors, especially when we don’t know much. Because of this, we often close ourselves off to other views that may have merit, based simply on the grounds that something is unbiblical. Sometimes, something that is “unbiblical” is only that way because it is contra whatever view we hold and not because it is heretical or wrong.

      Case in point: The Atonement. I have eight Systematic Theology books sitting on one of the bookcases in the office I am writing this in. Eight! In all eight, the Penal Substitution Theory is discussed at GREAT lengths and is the one theory presented as being the right one. Even though there was not even a hint of the theory before the 12th century and it wasn’t fully developed until the time of the Reformers.

      There is a paragraph or two discussing some of the earlier views on the atonement in each of the Systo books I have. None of these contrary views are given fair or lengthy treatment, and all of them are dismissed. For years, I dismissed these opposing theories because they must not be true. Why, you should be asking, did I consider them false? Because I have investigated them with an unbiased view and found them to seriously lack merit?

      No. I dismissed them all without a thought because I was taught to dismiss them at church, Seminary and in all the books sitting in my library!

      There are so many issues like that for us. When I graduated from Seminary, there was very little I didn’t know. The longer I walk with Christ, the more I realize how little I actually do know!

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  7. You got that right brother! We are definitely sheep and now that I live in a farm setting, I understand even more how sheep behave and even why Jesus sometimes compared sheep and goats. They are sometimes difficult to tell them apart because certain breeds of these two animals look so much alike. Similarly, we have both sheep & goats in our congregations but the big problem is that we are not discerning enough to distinguish the difference so the sheep are easily influenced and led astray.
    We may not agree on everything but we must test all things for ourselves instead of relying on others.

    While I was a seminary student, I didn’t question much of what my profs taught; after all I figured they must know what they’re talking about. And I shelled out BIG BUCKS for that! Not until years later did I realize that they’re human too and have biases like we all have and what they teach was probably taught to them by their professors. I went so far as to throw away most of my seminary tomes since I hardly referred back to them and just read the Word for what it says. It is much harder to accept and relearn something than to learn it right – the first time out. That’s why I enjoy reading blogs like yours because your reading audience is not told what to believe but to question and are encouraged to investigate the “truth” for ourselves.

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