posted on Dec 24, 2010 - 03:39 AM
Who said that I agree with everything that HE Metroopolitan Bishoy says? There is a large portion of the Coptic clergy who disagree with things that he has taught on certain issues (among them, I sincerely believe, is Pope Shenouda), though I know some of these, I will not call them out. He has definitely been known to both say and do controversial things on matters of theology.
Just to clarify, the word "may", by definition, notes a possibility, not a certainty; adding "or may not" adds nothing.
This is outright false. May can have multiple meanings. It can be used in the sense of the word 'might', and also in the sense of the word 'can'. This depends on context.
A = Can, B = Might
A. With this key you may now gain access to the inner chambers.
B. You may be able to catch Arnold Franklin at 3:00 pm.
He told then that he saw the same angels that came to take the man's soul away first baptize him. These are those ways that we may not know about. Not that God changed His standards which are all over the New Testament.
So how do you know God has not done this with non-believers? Are you not limiting God, and judging in His place then, to say that all outwardly known non-believers have been damned? When did I say that God has changed His standards? I am simply saying don't assume to know how God is applying these standards (as in the case of the man who was baptized by angels), for He searches the counsels of hearts.
We have seen that we are willing to unite to the Eastern Orthodox, but not quite yet with the Roman Catholic Church. Among the reasons we are not willing to unite with the RCC is that we disagree with them on the "salvation of non-believers", while between us and the EO, there seems to be no such disagreement. This means that there is a difference between the two views.
The EOC admits (as was shown in the very article you provided, in trying to refute this, and in my article, and in Bishop Kallistos Ware's statement) ignorance (the 'might' sort of may, in B) of whether someone outwardly known to be a non-believer, can be inwardly saved as a Christian by God: "yet there may be members of the Church who are not visibly such, but whose membership is known to God alone." (Bishop Kallistos)
While the RCC admits knowledge (the 'can' sort of may, in A): "but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation." To this I raise the same accusation that I did towards Metropolitan Bishoy, how do you know God will do such and such (or put otherwise, how do you know there are people among them that are deserving of Salvation)? You are admitting knowledge about the way God will save/damn/deal with those outside the Church. They are saying that this is an alternate way for someone to be saved, and positing it in the affirmative.
Not that God changed His standards which are all over the New Testament.
I have never said, nor implied this. All I am saying, is that there is more to Christianity than what we can see of it, and therefore there is more to baptism, communion, and repentance than we can see. The inner grace that God imparts through these sacraments externally at the hands of the priest, can be ministered by God in various different ways, which we don't know, to people outwardly known as non-believers, but on the inside have come to know Christ. The point here, that I am trying to make (and the EOC has declared), is that we don't know how or if it even happens. We just realize that it is a possibility.
If God deems someone who is not Christian worthy of salvation, He will do this:
Acts 10 -
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”
4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?”
So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.[a] He will tell you what you must do.” 7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. 8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
What's most important, is for us to realize (and I think we can both fully agree on this) that God is a fair and righteous Judge. We must remember that God has never, and never will, leave a soul to die, without first offering it an adequate chance to come to know and believe in Christ and His Sacrifice. Since no one is left to die without this chance, and there at the very least hundreds of millions of people who have never even heard of Christianity, it is extremely probable that God does indeed offer, to people outwardly known as non-Christians, salvation in hidden and inner ways which we may never know, since these very people must have either accepted or rejected Christianity, in hidden and inward ways, which we may never know.
He is after all, the Master Evangelist. None of the evangelists who wrote the Gospels could have spoken a single word, converted a single soul, or lifted a single finger to write if it wasn't for Him. Therefore we cannot limit Him in the way that He saves people. Does this mean that someone can come to be saved even if He does not participate in our essential sacraments? That's not what I am saying.
We know (and this is important to reiterate) that sacraments are outward and visible signs of the inner working of the Holy Spirit imparting His grace, that are given by Christ as sure and certain means to receive that grace. Note though, that it is the inward and spiritual part that saves, not the external. Your example of the man who is baptized by the angels, or those who are martyred without baptism proves this point. I am simply restating what I said before: "that God is neither fooled nor limited by externals."
I have never denied that the sacraments are essential to salvation, but it's not what we see of them that make them essential, but what lies behind them. Examples are Sts. Paul and Anthony who would stay for extremely long periods of time without actually taking communion, and yet never being deprived of this Mystery, remaining in constant union with Christ.
We must be careful not to turn the Church's sacraments (as some already limited these mysteries to seven) and requirements for Salvation into something like the five pillars of Islam. In Islam, there exists such a heavy and strong emphasis on the externality of the actions of the five pillars, that prayer, if not conducted in classical Arabic (even by one who does not understand it), with the proper movements, the proper order of recitations, at the proper times etc. will not be valid before God. The Muslim must say such and such, and do such and such, and then his sins are officially forgiven (otherwise they will not be). He must do such and such (no matter where his heart is), while saying Bismallah, while doing his pilgrimage, for it to be valid. The inward part of these practices is completely and utterly ignored (another reason why Islam is really political, outwardly, and earthly, rather than spiritual).
Another example is the required pillar of Charity (or as they call it, almsgiving), which we would all nod our heads as a good thing. But unfortunately, even something as simple as this is wholly concerned with externals (specific amounts of money are required, as it was traditionally a tax). While Christ teaches us that there is so much more that is important with Charity than actually giving money (not giving us any clear indication of the exact quantity of money we should officially give), like quality.
Notice, one can easily visibly see quantity, but one cannot easily visibly see quality (one can internally understand quality on the other hand).
A Muslim would tell you that the whole point of Charity is to give money to the poor. Christ would tell you so much more: give as the lady who gave out of the abundance of her heart, give out of love etc. We learn that Christ does not turn all His teachings into the sort of hardcore legalism that Mohammed did. Mohammed said, do this, do that. Christ taught be this, be that. Love without limits, as I have loved you and given My life. Forgive unconditionally as I forgive you. Judge not, lest you be judged. We see that Christ is really commanding the sorts of things we can't see (that aren't external), and thank God Christianity isn't so easily defined as Islam in formulating what steps and 'sacraments', and good actions will lead us to eternal life.
It is faith, as St. Paul incessantly repeats in his epistles that save us. Not the empty faith without actions that many Protestants speak of, but the faith where the person has an inward living relationship with Christ, which no one but Christ Himself can see and verify. This inward relationship consists of things we see on the outside like good works, charity, confession, baptism, communion etc. but what is most important is what goes on behind all these outward actions and signs.
Again, God is neither fooled nor limited by externals, and neither should we (who usually are) limit Him. This is why we submit the judgment of whether those outside are deserving of Christ's salvation to God, who searches the counsels of hearts and will make known the hidden things of darkness.