Somebody thinks I’m not a Christian.
I was doing some online research for an upcoming blog post and I came across this site that “explains” Eastern Orthodoxy from a Baptist perspective. I was shocked to read the following at the end of the post:
Guidelines for Witnessing to Your Orthodox Friends
1. Remember that salvation does not depend on works or on your association with a church. It depends on a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This relationship comes through faith (see Eph. 2:8-9).
2. Pray and trust the Holy Spirit to reach the hearts and minds of those who are lost with the gospel message.
3. Share your testimony. Many Orthodox have never experienced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Your testimony of what Jesus has accomplished in your life could have a great impact on them. Keep your testimony short. Avoid using terms that are unfamiliar to Orthodox, such as: “walked the aisle,” “got saved,” and “born again.”
4. Explain that you are certain of your salvation because of God’s grace. Make sure that you communicate that your assurance is derived from God’s grace and not from good works or your ability to remain faithful (see 1 John 5:13).
5. Give them a copy of the New Testament. Lead them to texts that explain salvation.
6. Avoid issues that are not central to salvation.
7. Keep the gospel presentation Christ-centered.
So I’m “lost,” “have never experienced a personal relationship with Jesus,” and I’m not “certain of my salvation because of God’s grace.”
Newsflash: Eastern Orthodox Christians are Christians.
But part of me understands the conception that we aren’t. I remember when I was a little girl I was pretty much taught that Catholics weren’t real Christians because they didn’t have a personal relationship with God and their entire faith was just meaningless ritual. I remember feeling worried about my best friend’s salvation because she was Catholic and I didn’t know if she really knew Jesus. In my twenties I began to discover what all that ritual really was and found that actually, it was full of meaning.
Still, there are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings out there. Orthodoxy is not very prevalent in America and it can seem foreign to a lot of people. I get questions all the time about Orthodoxy. Common ones are “Do you believe in salvation through Jesus? Do you believe in a personal relationship with God? Is your pastor called a pastor or priest or minister? Why is Orthodox Easter sometimes on a different date than Western Easter? What made you decide to become Orthodox? How is it different from what we believe?”
The book I’m writing (which is now in the NEVER GONNA BE DONE phase) tries to answer all those questions. But I’m realizing that I don’t write about Orthodoxy all that much on the blog. And if I do, I am sharing a personal experience rather than trying to explain Orthodoxy to people who are unfamiliar with it.
So I would like to try to answer some of your questions about Orthodoxy. I am thinking about making it a regular thing on the blog, like setting aside one day a week or every other week just to talk briefly about some aspect of Eastern Orthodoxy and/or answer a question. What do you guys think? Would you be interested in that? I obviously am no theologian or Orthodox expert, but I can speak from my experience of the past nine years in Orthodoxy. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll find an expert to ask. (And yes, I know I’ve told you about my wrestling lately, but I’m still Orthodox and am still attending church right now. I will continue to be as open and honest as possible.)
So I need for you to help me out. I want to hear from you! What do you want to know? What confuses you about Eastern Orthodoxy? What question would you really like to ask? Do not worry about offending me – please be honest and ask what’s truly on your mind. Ask your questions in the comments, email them to me at email@example.com, or send me a tweet with your question.
** Photo from Wikimedia Commons