So. Here is another thing I love about church, and a question.
Why do we concern ourselves with the fate of those who a) have never heard the gospel, and b) reject it?
perhaps this is assinine, or blatantly wrong, so help me out here.
But, "the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love"
not only that, but he was incarnate, experieced the pain of our existence so that we could relate to Him better, understand Him better etc. He does not reveal all to us, it is not for us to decide who joins Him in the Kingdom of heaven, I don't think we ought to ignore our neighbour, we ought to love them. all of them, insofar as it is possible anyways, but why do we concern ourselves with questions about who will be saved?
I had a great discussion with some girls I met at church last night, two lutherans and two orthodox, and it was very thought provoking. they were all either in first year at UWO, or in high school, but they were very thoughtful, they reminded me of sunday afternoons with St. Herman's people. it was great. but, one girl who knows her church history quite well, (was reading first things in High School) was saying that the verse in John "I am the way, truth and life, no one comes to the father except through me means that the people who have not been baptised in Christ are not a part of the family of God. they maintain the relationship of creator-created, but do not have one of father-child. hmmmmm. I wonder. I have a hard time with that, because it offends my sense of compassion, but I think that might be the same reason that many people claim pluralism as valid, because it offends their christian sense of compassion. how could a loving God be so exclusive. well, I Believe that Christianity is exclusive, but God is probably beyond our grasp, so why would/should we worry about it?
Is part of trusting God letting Him continue to make the decisions he has for so long, trusting in the mysterious justice and mercy? hmmmm.

I know we have to be true to what has been revealed to us, we must be faithful to our relationship with God, as with anyone, we must do what we ought in accordance with what we know of that person. I wonder if it is so systematic, and if God is bound to his own laws. sure, biblical critics talk about John being Christ's truths recorded by the essense after He died, but its still truth either way, and modern biblical scholarship, like anything human, has its flaws...am I getting bogged down in a hermaneutical circle? perhaps. time to read Gadamer. whoohoo!

pax in terra, Christ is in our midst!


RJ said...

What do you mean by exclusive? Like "only 144,000 will be saved in the apocoplypse" exclusive or that you "actually have to self-consciously work towards being a Christian" exclusive. I don't know if Christianity is really meant to be exclusive, perhaps your version. But not say, a missionary's version. I think that comment should offend you sense of compassion because it is closed-minded and naive. To use that statement "no one comes through the father but by me" and to suggest that by that Jesus means baptism. She is in a sense attempting to speak for Jesus and in essence claims to know what he philosophically means. That is a argumentative fallacy. Human beings can only try and understand His truth, thus we focus on our individual path and as you have suggested becoming a "beacon". Judging or worse "shunning" others for what we "believe" Jesus would is a waste of time, possibly worse.

pasivirta said...

preach it! that is pretty much my point, that we ought to spend our time trying to work out our path, our salvation, rather than pointing fingers at others. get rid of the plank in my own eye before I help someone else with a spec of dust. Its not about judment, not even about evangelism, but about love. well, attempted altruistic love anyways. I don't know if it exists, though I have seen examples of what comes close, I know those people would still see themselves as doing things selfishly from time to time. anyways. you are right, the point is to not judge.

RJ said...

and you always thought I was such a heathen....

m.a.r.g.a.r.e.t. said...

this is my first blog on david's site. i'm one of the 'two lutheran' girls that he met at Vespers last saturday evening. i'm a student at the university of western ontario. anyway, i, too, had a really good time on Saturday. not only do i enjoy the candles of incense of the Orthodox church, i also enjoy the people. it was really great of you to take us out for a chat (and very gracious of your aunt and uncle to accommodate us). i appreciated your comments during the discussion, and those which you posted on your blog. i must agree that the topic of whether or not salvation is possible outside of the church and apart from the sacraments is an emotionally charged and important one. i read rj's comments on this subject, too.

as this is my first year i'm exploring different subjects with the intention of majoring in history (likely). currently, i am in a Introduction to Catholic Studies class. as a Lutheran I admit that i am wary of what is being taught to me. that being said, however, i recognize that the Lutheran tradition cannot be separated from the Roman Catholic Tradition from whence it came. an orthodox (intentionally little 'o' )understanding of Holy Scripture is impossible apart from Church tradition. i assume that most of the readers on david's blog are Orthodox and, as such, fully recognize the importance of church tradition, so i needn't belabor the point. Wow, I digressed there…back to my R.Catholic theology class and salvation…recently my prof and I spoke about whether or not salvation is possible apart from the sacraments. This, I believe, is another mystery of God. As such, however, it is not appropriate to write it off as unworthy of discussion instead it should be explored. My prof maintains that since "the Spirit blows where It wills" salvation and God’s mercy and grace certainly are not confined to sacramental administration. Indeed, I cannot claim to understand how, when, and why God acts as He does. However, God has promised salvation to those who believe and are baptized. Furthermore, He offers the forgiveness of sins through His holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist. But what of those who the Gospel has not reached? What of their souls? Certainly this is a perplexing issue. I think it is a sad and heretical (…perhaps…)result of relativism and skepticism that theologians, clerics, and lay people posit that salvation can be granted to those who have not, in this life, entered into mystical union in the Life of the Trinity (aha! David, you’re right - there’s some more enlightened philosophical interference in theology!) I can, however, empathize (but not agree) with rj’s point. While no one can positively affirm that people can be saved apart from the church and the sacraments no one can positively deny it (at least, I don’t think they can). Take, for example, the slaughter of the Holy Innocents by King Herod. Do we not commend the souls of those infants to God’s mercy? While they never verbally affirmed to other human beings their faith in God they did not deny their faith in God.

oh my…there’s so much I’d like to say. It’s difficult, though, to do so. I hope this short blog made some sense. Hopefully this debate can keep going. Thanks again david for Saturday -I had a good time.

God bless!

RW said...


Back, a long time ago when I was 17 I was baptized in a lutheran church. My pastor called himself an Evangelical Catholic. All things liturgical were BIG in our little community. Your post reminded me of the journey I have been on; from whence I came and how glad I am to be where I am today. So thank you for that. I am glad you had a chance to chat with David. We are looking forward to having him in our midst soon.

The whole question of what happens to those who have not heard the gospel preached.... is a question that I have struggled with early on in my orthodox life... you are right in that our focus must only be on our own salvation and working that out and trust that God who is the master of the universe will tend to all others... it is my relationship to Christ that I must work out ....hopefully we can talk more about this once you are back.

elizabeth said...

Hi to Maragret, i am doing a MA at UWO and am on Co-op in Ottawa; i've been orthodox about a year and a half. am not sure if the church you went to was holy transfiguration (when i am in london this is where i go) but i wanted to mention that it is there and that the Subdeacon is a former Lutheran pastor... he may be a good one to talk to as well, as is of the same background :) just thought i'd mention... :)

pasivirta said...

goodness, I didn;t notice all these comments. good thoughts, I appreciate you explaining your nuanced understanding a little more, perhaps I didn't listen that well the other night. btw, your blog is not accessible, is that on purpose? anyways, it was fun. and if you guys are interested in attending the greek church liturgy, its on every weekday morning at 9 am, I will only be here a couple more days though.
and RW, I look forward to being back and talking about these things too.
Elizabeth, it was at Holy transfiguration.
RJ, what about Gadamer? see you in paperland.

elizabeth said...

right; sweet. thanks dave.