Is There Salvation Outside of Orthodoxy?
Matthew Raphael Johnson
Orthodoxy, throughout its 2,000 year history, has claimed, without interruption, that it is the repository of the Apostolic faith, that is, it is the place where the ancient doctrines of Christianity can be found. Therefore, the claim is made that truth has as its fundamental value salvation, that is, salvation cannot derive from falsity, error, schism.
Modernist Orthodox have, above all things, rejected this fundamental dogma of the faith, that salvation is a function of truth, that is, of true belief. Therefore, they have, to one degree or another, become apostates from Orthodoxy. From its central idea that truth, happiness and salvation are one and the same thing.
The purpose of this brief paper is to outline, for non-Orthodox who wish to know, the basic ancient writings on the question of truth, Orthodoxy and salvation. First, though, here is a quote from the infamous meeting of the World Council of Churches in Barr, Switzerland, in 1990; it is significant because it lays out the groundwork for the ecumenical agenda:
"We see the plurality of religious traditions as both the result of the manifold ways in which God has related to peoples and nations as well as a manifestation of the richness and diversity of humankind. We affirm that God has been present in their seeking and finding, that where there is truth and wisdom in their teachings, and love and holiness in their living, this like any wisdom, insight, knowledge, understanding, love and holiness that is found among us is the gift of the Holy Spirit. We also affirm that God is with them as they struggle, along with us, for justice and liberation. . . .
This saving mystery is mediated and expressed in many and various ways as God's plan unfolds toward its fulfillment. It may be available to those outside the fold of Christ (Jn. 10.16) in ways we cannot understand, as they live faithful and truthful lives in their concrete circumstances and in the framework of the religious traditions which guide and inspire them. The Christ event is for us the clearest expression of the salvific will of God in all human history. (I Tim. 2.4). . .
We feel called to allow the practice of interreligious dialogue to transform the way in which we do theology. We need to move toward a dialogical theology in which the praxis of dialogue together with that of human liberation, will constitute a true locus theologicus, i.e. both a source of and basis for theological work. The challenge of religious plurality and the praxis of dialogue are part of the context in which we must search for fresh understandings, new questions, and better expressions of our Christian faith and commitment."
This pseudo-intellectual obfuscation and mystification of the WCC (financed by the Rockefeller family), was signed by nearly all the world’s Orthodox churches. However, the Orthodox church rejects these ideas, as evidenced by the citations below. Most New Calendar Orthodox believe the heresy that salvation is possible outside the canonical boundaries of Orthodoxy, however, this is an error, and one that destroys the specific mission of the church in the world. For recent converts, it is rather difficult for these Americans, whose spirituality was formed by the secularized, neo-Protestants whose teachings change with the seasons, cannot stand the rather “strong milk” of Orthodox teaching on this most important of matters. The purpose of me compiling these sources is to let the converts know that Orthodoxy has always spoken with a clear voice on these issues, and new calendarist bishops do not have the power to change this. The Antiochean, Greek and OCA branches of Orthodoxy hold to the heresy of universal salvation (except, so I hear, for people like me) so as to be accepted within the Protestant ecumenical bodies whose grant money keeps the new calendar seminaries going. The reality is, however, that Orthodox teaching is clear and uncompromising, as these citations show.
* Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not according to the tradition which he received from us. (II Thessalonians 3:6)
* Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36)
* A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, "You are mad; you are not like us.” (St. Anthony the Great)
* Follow the straight path which has been charted by our Lord Jesus Christ, and do not allow yourselves to be encircled by sin...Today's path which is followed by various societies is directed towards sin. The cause of this is the development of civilization - of wrongly conceived civilization - towards which the various leaders are striving by diverse means to direct mankind, trying to create a new way of life, different from that prescribed by the Lord. (Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos.)
* Those things which the holy Fathers laid down as law and all that is of our Church is good holy, both in soul and body. And whatever is done outside our Church is all of the devil. (St. Kosmas Aitolos)
* For whomever the Church is not mother, God is not father. (St.Cyprian of Carthage)
* The Church is the salt that salts the whole world, preserving it from putridity. (Venerable Ephrem the Syrian)
* I, my Christians, read both about priests and about impious people and about atheists and about heretics; I investigated the depths of wisdom. All faiths are false, fake; all are of the devil…Only the faith of the pious and Orthodox Christians is good and holy. (Saint Kosmas Aitolos)
* Concerning the fact that those belonging to the Church must not be allowed to go visiting the cemeteries or the so called martyria of any heretics, for the purpose of prayer or of cure, but, on the contrary, those who do so, if they be among the faithful, shall be excluded from communion for a time until they repent and confess their having made a mistake, when they may be readmitted to communion. (Canon IX of Laodicia, Also approved by the Ecumenical Synods).
* Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them to perform any service as Clergymen, let him be deposed. (Canon XLV of the Holy Apostles.)
* There is one religion only, the Orthodox Christian Religion. And this spirit the orthodox one is the true one. The other spirits, are spirits of delusion and the teachings are mixed up. (Elder Porphyrios +1991)
* If any man receive not Baptism, he hath not salvation; except only Martyrs, who even without the water receive the kingdom. For when the Saviour, in redeeming the world by His Cross, was pierced in the side, He shed forth blood and water; that men, living in times of peace, might be baptized in water, and, in times of persecution, in their own blood. For martyrdom also the Saviour is won't to call a baptism, saying, Can ye drink the cup which I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And the Martyrs confess, by being made a spectacle unto the world, and to Angels, and to men. (Catechetical Lectures Of Our Holy Father, Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem - Lecture 3.)
* All the teachers of the Church, and all the Councils, and all the Divine Scriptures advise us to flee from the heterodox and separate from their communion. (St. Mark of Ephesus)
* Concerning the necessity of not permitting heretics to come into the house of God, so long as they persist in their heresy. (Canon 6 of the Council of Laodicea)
* Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons. (St. Ignatius Of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1)
* He that saith not ‘Anathema’ to those in heresy, let him be anathema. (Seventh Ecumenical Council)
* Neither the Papist nor the Protestant church can be considered as the True church of Christ. The first was altered by a number of innovations and the accursed despotism (Primacy) due to which resulted the schism from the Orthodox. The same goes for the Protestants whose innumerable innovations lead to total anarchy and chaos. Only the Orthodox church maintained the teachings of Christ flawlessly without a single innovation. Only in the Orthodox church does unity exist. The unity which the Savior was petitioning from the Father saying, "Holy Father keep them in your Name those that you gave me so they can be one just like we were one." (John 17:11...) (St. Nektarios of Aegina)
* St. John the Almsgiver said: We shall not escape sharing in that punishment which, in the world to come, awaits heretics, if we defile Orthodoxy and the holy Faith by adulterous communion with heretics. (The Life of St. John the Almsgiver.)
* That one must not accept the blessings of heretics, which are rather misfortunes than blessings. (Canon 32 of the Council of Laodicea.)
* The fact that we do not become indignant over small matters is the cause of all our calamities; and because slight errors escape fitting correction, greater ones creep in. As in a body, a neglect of wounds generates fever, infection and death; so in the soul, slight evils overlooked open the door to graver ones . . . But if a proper rebuke had at first been given to those who attempted to depart from the divine sayings and change some small matter, such a pestilence would not have been generated, nor such a storm have seized upon the Church; for he that overturns even that which is minor in the sound Faith, will cause ruin in all. (St. John Chrysostom, Homily One on the Epistle to the Galatians.)
* Those that are not reborn by the divine grace in the only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, they do not consist of (comprise) any church, neither visible nor invisible. (St. Nektarios of Aegina)
* The sixteenth century gave birth to four great beasts: the heresy of Luther, the heresy of Calvin, the heresy of the Jesuits, and the heresy of the new calendar. The heresies of Luther and Calvin were refuted by [such and such] . . . As for the heresy of the new calendar, this was condemned by a decision of the great Ecumenical Council that met in Constantinople in 1593. (Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Confession of the Orthodox Faith, p. 4)
* But what a thing it is, to assert and contend that they who are not born in the Church can be the sons of God! For the blessed apostle sets forth and proves that baptism is that wherein the old man dies and the new man is born, saying, 'He saved us by the washing of regeneration.' But if regeneration is in the washing, that is, in baptism, how can heresy, which is not the spouse of Christ, generate sons to God by Christ?" (St Cyprian of Carthage, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, 388)
* Caecilius of Bilta said: I know only one baptism in the Church, and none out of the Church. This one will be here, where there is the true hope and the certain faith. For thus it is written: 'One faith, one hope, one baptism;' not among heretics, where there is no hope, and the faith is false, where all things are carried on by lying. (The Seventh Council of Carthage Under Cyprian, (200-258 AD), September, 258 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, pg. 565)
* Marcellus of Zama said: Since sins are not remitted saved in the baptism of the Church, he who does not baptize a heretic holds communion with a sinner. (The Seventh Council of Carthage Under Cyprian, (200-258 AD), Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, 570)
* Orthodoxy is such happiness, such riches! It alone teaches and provides all the paths to salvation. No Catholicism, no Protestantism, no other form of faith or denomination, gives that which the grace of the Holy Spirit gives through Holy Orthodoxy. (Vol 3, 1. Blessed Elder Sampson (+1979))
Now, one might indignantly ask, what of those who have never heard of Christ, or of Orthodoxy specifically? Though as this is becoming more and more an irrelevant question, it is a legitimate one, and a few ideas might be required here:
First, there is an old Russian custom that St. John the Baptist approaches very human soul at the hour of death and preaches to them about Christ. To reject him is to reject missionary labors on your behalf.
Second, there is also the question of the acceptance or rejection of the religious system one is raised under. The honest seeker, one who rejects the paganism, for example, one has been brought up with is truly a struggle, and may well earn a place in heaven after being suitably preached to at the point of death. If however, one finds his religion satisfactory, one has a problem.
Thirdly, there is the continuous prayers for the dead performed by the Orthodox church on a daily basis. The time between the particular and the final or general judgement is a time where the church, which is the mind of Christ and His manifestation, intercedes for those who have departed in the faith, and for all departed souls. For example, an elderly Japanese woman, a neighbor fo mine, passed away. While she was in a coma, I prayed in her stead that I had accepted Orthodoxy in its fullness, and begged the saints to accept this prayer as if it were from her. I guess I’ll find out later if it worked or not, and I urge Orthodox people do perform this practice for all heretics and pagans who are dying.
Fourthly, those who are mentally retarded or otherwise incapacitated are incapable of committing sin and therefore salvation is automatic for them. The same goes for aborted babies, etc. The heretical Church of Rome struggled with this issue because they believe that the sin of Adam is hereditary, while Christianity has always understood this sin to manifest in the endless propensity for human beings to do the wrong thing. Therefore, the “unbaptized baby” question is irrelevant for the True Faith.
Fifthly, there is a question about the nature of Hades, or what the papists might call “Limbo.” Archbishop +IOANN of the Synod of Milan, a theologian of extraordinary abilities and the spiritual son of the Valaam/Pskov elder and Schema-bishop +THEODORE (Irtel), is of the opinion that hades was not destroyed at the Resurrection, but remains, in some form, to provide a place of natural happiness (though not the presence of God, and therefore this happiness is not unmixed with sorrow) for those who have departed outside the faith for faults not of their own. This is a highly controversial stance, and I hold a position of neutrality on it. Some church fathers have held that the “Bosom of Abraham” is just this place (whether one wants to call it Hades or not), a place that papists forgot about, and then reinvented it as “Limbo” centuries later.
However one cuts it, the principle remains, only Orthodox people exist in heaven, and no other. Whether or not such people have been evangelized at the hour of death is of no concern to Orthodox people currently alive, but is a position of ancient lineage in the Christian confession.
“If Salvation is difficult while Orthodox, imagine how difficult it is when one is not Orthodox.” –Blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose.