Salvation in Catholicism and Orthodoxy contrasted

I contributed this to a Catholic Answers forum thread while looking for something else over there:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy B
What is the difference between Catholic Salvation and non-Catholic Christian Salvation? Is there Salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church?

I can’t speak with authority about Eastern Catholics. But the Latin Church teaches that salvation is to see God’s Essence – the Beatific Vision – after one’s death. The normal way is considered to die in good standing with the Latin Church, without any unabsolved mortal sins on one’s soul, and spend some ‘time’ in purgatory being “purged” of unabsolved venial sins and the residue of absolved venial and mortal sins, before entering heaven. (Forgive me, I forget the normal terminology for the ‘residue’. Also, “time in purgatory” is not understood as ‘temporal time,’ since it’s outside the space-time continuum so to speak. Nevertheless…) One’s time in purgatory may be shortened by the prayers of the living (also their difficulties, good deeds, Masses, or Communions, offered up for them) and by partial indulgences obtained by oneself before death or by survivors after one’s death, or abolished by a plenary indulgence obtained by oneself near one’s death or by a survivor afterward. Any good deeds, prayers, extra sacraments received by one[, as well as the use of priest-blessed ‘sacramentals’ such as medals, rosaries, relics, etc.,]* are technically optional and considered signs of ‘extra’ – desirable but superfluous – holiness, although they are also considered means of acquiring created grace from God, a substance in one’s soul to help one resist temptation in the first place. But if you die with one unabsolved mortal sin on your soul, you go directly to hell for eternity. Persons who are not visibly in “full communion with Rome” may be saved if they have not with full knowledge and culpability rejected this communion, and have lived their lives following their best lights or conscience in good faith, avoiding or turning back from sin and doing good.

The Orthodox Church (which originally included the Patriarchate of Rome) teaches and has always taught that salvation is to see and participate in God’s Uncreated Energies – in which He is fully present – hopefully even in life – because His Essence is neither visible to nor participable by creatures, ever, because the Uncreated is so far beyond the created. The normal way is to believe right doctrine, be joined to the Orthodox Church, and follow its way of Purification, Illumination, and Glorification (theosis, aka “deification” or divinization, but not apotheosis), including resisting and repenting of sin, partaking of the Mysteries (“sacraments”) of the Orthodox Church, prayer and worship, fasting and self-discipline / self-restraint / asceticism, almsgiving, following Holy Tradition and the Canons of the Church, practicing co-suffering love / charity / philanthropy, etc. (These things are not considered optional.) Purgatory, created “grace,” indulgences, a visible Divine Essence, and differentiating mortal and venial sins, are doctrines which became part of the tradition only of the Patriarchate of Rome subsequent to its original embrace of o/Orthodoxy. God’s Energies are what the Apostles Peter, James, and John saw as Light emanating from the Lord’s body at his Transfiguration, and many others from the living bodies of the Saints since then, and what were seen as “divided tongues as of fire” filling the Church at the first Christian Pentecost in Jerusalem, among many other instances (including the face of the Holy Patriarch Moses after his theophany on Mt. Sinai). God’s Energies are His activities and attributes, Uncreated Grace, seen by the Orthodox Saints as the Glory of God, the fire in Moses’ Burning Bush, the smoke that covered Sinai at the giving of the Law and the Temple after its construction (“Shekinah”), the fire/cloud that led the Israelites for 40 years, etc. Everything that exists has essence and energies, but the (o/Orthodox) Fathers of the Church learned this about God first not from human philosophy but their own vision of God’s Glory, their own Glorification. Theosis / glorification is becoming like God, though Energetically, not Essentially; reacquiring the God-like-ness our first parents lost (the “likeness” in Genesis’ “image and likeness”): “God became human so humans could become God,” as more than one Father of the Church expressed it. Glorification, ie, salvation, cannot be earned or deserved, but God bestows it freely on those who prepare themselves as described above. We will all see God in His Energies after the Last Judgment, the saved as Light, the rest as painful purifying fire for eternity. God in His Love does not force Himself on anyone. If anyone outside the Orthodox Church is saved – which may be possible – it’s because of God’s Grace through the Orthodox Church, His Body (which is not the same as Fr. Rahner’s “anonymous Christians,” nor according identical regard for other Christian groups’ rituals as for the Holy Mysteries of Christ’s Orthodox Church). The fact that non-Orthodox, even non-Christians, have sometimes seen actual Uncreated Light, is proof of this for faith … although some “light visions” may be demonic in character, as “Even the devil can appear as an angel of light,” so one really needs an Orthodox spiritual father or mother to help discern it.

How the Patriarchate of Rome’s teaching changed from the latter to the former, I’m not certain.

(*–Material in brackets disallowed by CA’s time limit on editing your own posts. Whatever.)

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  1. 1 Salvation in Catholicism and Orthodoxy contrasted

    […] Rhydians RATS-Does he know? wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt I contributed this to a Catholic Answers forum thread while looking for something else over there: Quote: Originally Posted by Jimmy B What is the difference between Catholic Salvation and non-Catholic Christian Salvation? Is there Salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church? I can’t speak with authority about Eastern Catholics. But the Latin Church teaches that salvation is to see God’s Essence – the Beatific Vision – after one’s death. The normal way is considered to die in good st […]




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