Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Orthodox View of Salvation Video

My first Vlog post.

51 comments:

Pandelis said...

Thanks Steve, very nice first Vlog:)

I hope you don't mind that I have borrowed your video for our fellowship blog...

R. J. Grigaitis said...

I liked this video so much, I put it on my blog so that more people can view it.

Chris said...

Thank you, Fr. I also put it on my blog for others to view. Keep up the great work.

Cha said...

Interesting - yet I think you paint Protestantism with a brush that is a bit too broad.

VSO said...

Excellent. Cha he has to use a broad brush because there's over 30,000 versions of Protestantism.

VSO said...

Was this filmed at a Coptic Church? That's how the iconostasis looks.

Cha said...

I know this only too well. But it is no more fair to lump all of Protestantism into one general stereotype based on the beliefs of some Protestants than it would be to lump the Orthodox together with Protestants into one general stereotype of Christianity based on the beliefs of some Christians.

Reader John said...

@Cha: I didn't catch that Steve called it "the Protestant view" instead of "a Protestant view." I would say, however, that what he portrays is probably the predominant view in the Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestant sector, and was the view I held. If there are Protestant views that are closer to the Orthodox view, I don't recall them, but perhaps my exposure was too provincial.

Cha said...

I suspect your view may have been too provincial. The Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestant sector is just one sector. This was not, for the most part, the view I held or was taught (or taught to others) for any of the 47 years I was a Protestant.

James the Thickheaded said...

Thank you Steve!
Very hard to manage the discernment between one way and another without anamis or chauvinism, but I think this walks that fine line very well.

I'd differ from Cha in that perhaps the problem with P lies in the fact that with 30,000 versions, we likely err for painting it too narrowly 'cause you have to pick and/or start with something. I find that today, few P's read their own confessional documents much less have a position with them. Doesn't seem to matter if you like the xyz (music, message, dude, dudette, etc). If you like the experience of the congregation, all's well. And that's about it. Converting these folks... isn't likely to happen - nor will it happen through apologetics or discourse - 'cause they're already satisfied shoppers. What they've found suits. The question is whether its the Gospel that they've found as well as whether it was what they were looking for.

Question in our case seems more to the point: If it's what you searched for, if it's what you found, have you let it change your life? Really? Does it show? Really? Ouch!

s-p said...

Cha, There are variations on the theme of penal substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness, for sure. I think what I presented is a generally fair-handed representation of what 90% of people teach on "Christian radio" and what most "garden variety" Evangelicals are familiar with. There was as much (or more) left out of "the Orthodox view" as there was "the protestant view", but I think it highlights the fundamental issues for those who may not have parsed their views of salvation as precisely as some of us have. And as I said at the end, it's just an illustration, has its limitations and isn't perfect. Hopefully it generates some thought.

VSO, yes is is in a Coptic Church. We are renting their chapel while our Mission looks for a new place to land.

Anonymous said...

I'm protestant and I teach the history of western Christianity and I found this a decent representation of the broad strokes of penal substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness. It's necessarily (and understandably) simplified but I don't think this presentation does any violence to the core issues.

Ingemar said...

Mr. Robinson, I don't think that you misrepresented the Protestant view of salvation. Before I became a catechumen, I went to a church that had a very Calvinistic view of salvation (and could count on both hands how many sermons I heard reminding us that God is a holy God who will make sinners burn in hell forever).

It is interesting how many ancient heresies are revived in the guise of Protestant soteriology. I can think of Marcionism, Nestorianism and even a wee bit of Arianism. Contra the strict trinitarian view of Orthodoxy, Protestants make Jesus look like a poor schmo who takes a beating from his drunken Father God.

Anonymous said...

This Gospel of Chairs doesn't seem to make any room for the Old Testament period.

Athanasia said...

Good vlog s-p. I'm still musing over the Orthodox presentation of salvation because it 'feels' so foreign. Almost like universal salvation. I continue to struggle to grasp the Orthodox concept of salvation. The good thing is I no longer lose sleep over whether someone is 'saved' or not. I'm glad the decision is God's and not mine and all I can do is "do my best" with the time I have.

discourse said...

Are we always represented as the black chair? I mean, that smarts. And no cushion, either. How about dark blue.

Just kidding. Good vlog! I feel very Klingon saying "vlog".

Larry Anderson said...

Thank you, Steve. I saw this at exactly the time I needed to see this.

And yes, I've reblogged it.

(Oddly, the captcha for this comment is "unlight.")

s-p said...

Dr. Church History Anon, Thank you, I tried to be respectful of the various views while necessarily overlapping and truncating some of them. I really strove to not parody or mock the "juridical model". I commented to someone, I could have included everything both Protestant and Orthodox I thought about while whittling it down to under ten minutes, but I don't think I could have lifted and moved chairs for six hours. LOL!

Dana said...

Good job Steve. I think you hit the high points.

Can you say what happened with the building in the housing development? You guys put in a lot of hours into that.

Dana

el cuerpo negro said...

@s-p & anon: you said "penal" LOL :)

i'm hoping that the penal substitutionary atonement view loses steam as a whole generation of us who were 13 when Beavis and Butthead came to television grow older and move into leadership positions in the church. i seriously couldn't bring myself to use the word "penal" in church for fear of giggling afterward.

i don't know if you're familiar with the work of N.T. Wright, but he's making some great progress towards pointing out all the holes and flaws with the calvinist inspired soteriology of the angry god who had to find a whipping boy to punish on our behalf. you should check out his book called "justification."

Syrian Fire said...

I am always amazed at how much of NT Wright's soteriology sounds like Orthodox tradition. He is a little too "sola sciptura" for my taste, but I like his books and talks very much and think his "Simply Christian" book is actually a good introduction to Christianity.

I think Steve did a good job here and represented a view of salvation that "most" Americans seem to think is what Christianity teaches. It is unfortunate that people who reject penal substitution or hell as a punishment feel they must also reject Christianity as a whole.

I never heard Fr. Anthony give this illustration before so it is nice to get it by proxy.

J.D. said...

Cha,
I think he illustrates a clear difference using some interesting teaching aids.

Hey, it's only nine minutes and makes a point. I don't think it's meant to be a prelude to a Master's Thesis.

s-p said...

El Cuerpo and Syrian F., I think NT Wright does a nice job of presenting the issues with pen-sub and of course he has "street cred" with the Evangelical world since he is one of "them". I think Orthodoxy is slllooowwwly losing the "rome-o-phobia" aura among the intelligentsia of the Evangelical world. Fr. Anthony did a very short version of this in his talk at a conference I attended. I spent a few days fleshing it out and scripting it pretty carefully to avoid caricatures, parodies and snarkiness. I told him I was going to steal it. I think there can ultimately be a respect for the juridical language since it is found in the patristics, but it has to be understood as "A" model with limited applications and not "THE Gospel" and THE measure of "orthodoxy" as it is often presented and understood within mainstream American evangelicalism.

OrthoRev said...

Steve, thanks for doing yet more fine work on behalf of the Church. Modern Christians need to understand that Christ’s work is neither penal nor substitutionary (nor is it even rightly called atonement, the lexical meaning of which word is “reparation for a wrong or an injury”).

That Christ’s work is not penal is shown in the most celebrated passage of the NT, Jn 3:14-18 (“For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him”).

That Christ’s work is not substitutionary is proven by such passages as Dt 24:16 (“…only for his own guilt shall a man be put to death”) and Ez 18:20 (“…the virtuous man’s virtue shall be his own, as the wicked man’s wickedness shall be his”).

And Western Christians’ calling Christ’s work “atonement” is merely the fallacy of tautological question; that is, “His death MUST be payback for something--it’s called ATONEMENT after all!” Rather than using the word atonement, we Orthodox call Christ’s work “redemption,” a word not denoting reparation for a wrong or an injury. Hence, when a non-Orthodox Christian asks an Orthodox priest what our doctrine of the atonement is, he may give the puzzling answer that we do not have one!

El Cuerpo Negro: yours is not the only generation to laugh at the jaw-breaking term “penal-substitutionary atonement”; my 69-year-old mom snickers every time I say that phrase in her presence. Ha!

Keith said...

A church with pews and chairs!?!?!?!

Clint said...

Thanks Steve. I though it was fantastic.

Of course, our similar backgrounds mean that my former protestant understanding is the same as yours.

I was expecting you to stack the "God" chair on the "man" chair, as God became man.

Orthodox said...

May I add that it is even worse with Calvinistic Protestantism. In Calvinism, the majority of humankind are "born reprobate" and God "never" looks upon them in Love. The Chair NEVER faces them except in Anger and Wrath (Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated from eternity - Rom 9). Lord have mercy on those who believe that God is only angry and wrathful.

Syrian Fire said...

And that is the issue I think. There are many soteriologies and even "Christianities" that maul the image of God and it takes a long time for the average person to recover from such a view if he or she was raised to believe in it.

Orthodox said...

I also meant to say "Thank You" very much. I will be sharing it on my FB and on my web page also, with added comments about Calvinism (of which I used to be). THANKS.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

That is so effective - thanks, s-p !

Matushka Anna said...

This was so nicely done, Steve. I think you walked that fine line very well and there was nothing "snarky" about it. I'm going to share this on my blog too (but I want people to direct their questions to this post).

Anonymous said...

I loved the video..;) And then came the surreal aspect of the video closing, which brings up the list of 'similar' videos. At the time I closed it "Five Finger Death Punch Salvation" was top of the pack....

OrthoRev said...

We can take heart knowing that the primary defenders of penal-substitutionary atonement (PSA) are all men in their late 70s. Such bigwigs as R. C. Sproul, Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, and Josh McDowell will all be leaving the scene soon, and--God willing--PSA will fade into oblivion with them.

Ingemar said...

OrthoRev,

I think your view is far too optimistic. While it's true that all your "bigwigs" are advanced in age, they all have their followers who are twenty and thirty somethings and their "market share" in American Christianity is far larger than anything Orthodox could ever hope to compete with.

I should know. Several years ago I was with a Men's small group with no one in their thirties and we were doing an apologetics series based on a book by R.C. Sproul. The church, mostly young Asian people, were hard-core John MacArthur fans and right now is in the middle of a baby boom. So PSA has a following that is fecund.

I wouldn't be surprised if there (percentage-wise) far more Orthodox converting to Protestantism than the other way around. That there are virtually no twentysomethings in my Greek parish (myself excluded) is telling.

Anonymous said...

Nice video.
Thanks from Greece

Fr Benedict Churchill said...

Atonement: The etymology is at + one + ment, and, though we may now use it in almost exclusively theological contexts, it has had other than theological applications over the centuries. The Oxford English Dictionary has an excellent article on the word, and traces its use since 1513.

Ostensive Lyme said...

Atonement: The etymology is at + one + ment

And this in light of the earlier 'etymological' comment on this post highlights the danger of polemics. Apart from a small and shrinking circle who still go in for such arguments (a niche contingent now most easily found online, and usually 'debating' as much for shits and giggles as any real truth seeking), polemical argument is a dead way of reaching people. Far more people are turned off than drawn in by it. It's just a warn out strategy in 'religious debate'. If we are unable to begin with representing an opponent's position sympathetically in a manner he would agree with, then we haven't yet demonstrated understanding of his position and cannot expose its weakness of falsehood in a manner that will be well received.
My two cents on that.

I enjoyed the vpod, perhaps most because it was so carefully and sympathetically constructed. It's precisely the non-polemical tone and sympathetic rendering of both positions that makes this comparison a useful tool.

That makes $0.04
I'm spent.
-MB

amy said...

Thank you, Steve! I've shared your video on my blog as well.

James said...

I did generally enjoy the video but I thought the necessity of theosis was glaringly absent. I'm curious if other Orthodox Christians have been taught that theosis is necessary or something optional. Or maybe "those who love God" could use some unpacking.

Ikonophile said...

Aye, James, there is much more that could have been apart of this as s-p has already mentioned above. S-p is not teaching that theosis is optional. But given only ten minutes, this is probably as good as it gets. You want to make ten forty minute videos on theosis, by all means. That might be very helpful to some who have time to watch them all. I've no doubt that you could fill that much time and then some with the Orthodox doctrine of salvation. But given the time allotted, this is actually not bad.

John

ofgrace said...

Nice job, Steve!

This is the very issue that brought me from Evangelicalism to Orthodoxy.

You and your readers might enjoy downloading the lecture by Met. Kallistos (Ware) I'm linking for you here (when it becomes available): http://www.wheaton.edu/Theology/WCECS/Lectures.html

I was happily able to attend this lecture in person last night--a wonderful privilege and opportunity. The Metropolitan is a delight to hear and truly a gracious ambassador for Orthodoxy in this kind of inter-confessional dialogue.

ofgrace said...

Sorry, I think that link got truncated. I'll try again:

http://www.wheaton.edu/Theology/WCECS/Lectures.html

ofgrace said...

Hmm. Well, add an "ml" at the end of that link, and it should work. For some reason, this link won't go through whole when I post.

Seraphim said...

I'm sure many Protestants would not claim to hold the view of salvation that their theology necessitates. The problem is so often, I think many Protestants are ignorant as to what they truly do believe. Someone in here said it well: that as long as the church experience is appealing, that's all that matters. "If it feels good, surely it can't be wrong."

I grew up in the Church of Christ and it wasn't until I was about 20 years old that I found out who Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone were and where that group came from.

However, you cannot be any kind of practicing Orthodox Christian and not know what you believe. It's woven into everything we say and do in church. I hope more Protestants will take the time to think about what they believe, why, and where they come from.
What struck me most about this illustration is how it shows how God pursues us like a lover. There is no where He will not go, even to Hades, to redeem us. The image of God as lover has become more prominent in Protestantism, especially in Evangelical circles, but it is still too shallow and self-serving. There is nothing shallow, self-serving, or easy in regard to the Orthodox Christian response to the love of God.

Fr. Sean Lotz said...

http://fluentpresentations.com/befluent/?p=76
or http://alturl.com/e35vr

You got commented upon. Very nice!

Anam Cara said...

Nicely done!

I am always looking for "bite"sized ways to share the differences between Protestanism and Orthodoxy.

I don't have a blog, but I posted this on my facebook page and sent the You Tube link to friends and family not on fb.

I, too, expected the chairs to stack upon the incarnation. :-)

I loved this and am looking forward to more vblogs!

Reader John said...

A Calvinist friend, whose book (lead author) on "Emergent Church" has just recently been released, endorsed this short video (which promotes another book) on Facebook yesterday: http://vimeo.com/20272585
The whole burden of the video is to raise, much more starkly than Steve did, the penal substitution theory (and to whet our appetites for emerging church pastor Rob Bell's better theory, coming soon, available for pre-order). Bell says "millions and millions" have been taught it, and I think he's correct.
"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is part of our western literary canon for a reason. The penal substitution theory is so deeply imbedded in the culture that just as many millions of sensitive souls may have reject Christianity because of it.

s-p said...

Rdr. John, Interesting video. It seems like in the last few years the new "tradition" in Protestant circles is to distance themselves from pen-sub. I think I was much nicer and sympathetic than he was about Protestant teaching. :)

todd said...

You're really onto something with this presentation. The Orthodox gospel message is just so beautiful, and I think we should continue finding new ways to proclaim it.

James has a valid point about theosis. Maybe he could help us find a visual metaphor, along the lines of this approach, that incorporates the necessity of theosis in salvation (probably given in contrast to 'imputed righteousness', to which this video already alludes.) Maybe all it would require is a slight tweak to the illustration offered in this video presentation...

J.D. said...

Is this actually on You Tube? I can't find it there and want to for future reference.

s-p said...

JD, Yes. Blogger cropped the video, if you go to the lower right of the image there is part of the youtube logo, you can click on that and it will take you to youtube. If that doesn't work, here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WosgwLekgn8&feature=player_embedded