Towards an Orthodox understanding of Salvation
I wish to present
as understood by the Eastern Orthodox Church. This may be shocking to some, interesting to others and hopefully dynamic for those willing toinvestigate Orthodoxy seriously and on it’s own premises.
1. The Fall
What are we being saved from and why do we need salvation? Is man “wicked” bynature or does man have a tendency to rebel against that which is good?Man was made
“...according to the image of God”
κατ’ εἰκόνα Θεοῦ
Gen. 1,27) and
”...and behold, it was very good...”
..καὶ ἰδοὺ καλὰ λίαν...”
Gen. 1,31). When the deviltempted Eve he played with questions of the will; he caused Eve to doubt the reason(logic) behind submitting her will to the will of God. Obedience is a matter of will.When mankind sinned it was because it allowed it’s will (
) to beoverrun by desire (
). This, passion or desire, is the greatest weaponof the enemy according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church. The paradox is thatwe were created with a free will. We were given the ability to choose. Man’s nature(φύσις) did not fall, for the nature of man (as God created it) was to be obedient andincorrupt (ἄφθαρτος)
. When we sin, we go against our “being” by way of our will(
). It is our will which has fallen. Thus, when we speak of the fallen will, wespeak of a “tendency” (
) to sin and not determinism to sin due to our fallen being. The sons and daughters of Adam have because of him inherited
; nothis specific sin as such, but rather the
“wages of sin”
(Rom. 3:23), which is death. Assuch, though a child may die because of sin (i.e. the common denominator of allhumanity), this does not mean that the newborn child per se individually hascommitted sin nor has genetically (so to speak) inherited the specific sins of his or herparents. It is rather the
inclination to sin
, i.e. to do that which goes against the naturalorder, and as a result death which is the fruit of the “Fall of Mankind”.
Thefollowing text by St. Athanasius the Great sums this up very well:
Thus, then, God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption
; but men, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God(τὴν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν κατανόησιν), and devised and contrived evil for themselves[as was said in the former treatise
], received the condemnation of death withwhich they had been threatened; and from thenceforth no longer remained as theywere made, but were being corrupted according to their devices; and death had themastery over them as king.
This word is used both as
, many times without distinction. The antonym ofthis is φθορά or φθαρτός. See 1
Peter 1, 23.
See: Cummings, THE RUDDER pg. 679.
Against the Heathen
On the Incarnation of the Word