I really don’t intend to channel Fr. Stephen day-by-day. You can subscribe yourself, after all. I don’t even intend to have Orthodox testimonials as a regular feature. That’s a worthy goal, but I bring nothing unique to such efforts.
But for the second day in a row Fr. Stephen has hit it out of the park, contrasting the Orthodox view of salvation to views common today – a theme that “recurs because it is so fundamental to the Christian faith and is at the same time largely unknown in our modern world.” Indeed it is.
Reduced to aphorism, the Orthodox view is that “Christ did not come to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.”
We have a problem that is rooted in the very nature of our existence, not in our behavior. We behave badly because of a prior problem. Good behavior will not correct the problem.
The sometimes tacit, sometimes explicit view that Christ indeed came to make bad men good strikes me as a variety of “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”
It is the deism that distinguishes the non-Orthodox view at issue today from the view that Christ came to secure the forensic declaration of our righteousness so we could get into heaven. This view I know first-hand to be common among evangelicals, fundamentalists and Calvinists – all of which I arguably have been in the past, though I would have denied being a fundamentalist.
Among the ramifications of the Orthodox view are some interesting comments Fr. Stephen makes about drinkin’ ‘n smokin’ and other fundy taboos.