Entrance Into The Church
On Baptism & Salvation
I. What is Salvation?
"To the Eastern Christian, the literal reunion of man and creation in God through Christ." ( Bajis, Jordan, Common Ground, Light & Life, p. 230)
1. Roman Catholic/Protestant understanding of Redemption: "Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) . . . learned from Augustine that man was thoroughly depraved, so much that not even a speck of God's Image was left within him . . . (Man) needed to pay his debt to God, to cancel out the penalty for his sins, but his own spiritual contamination made it impossible for him . . . Anselm reasoned that God Himself did provide the solution to man's problem by supplying the perfect and sufficient offering needed: the death of His Son on the Cross. . . Christ is punished as our substitute sacrifice i.e. receiving the consequences of our sin in His body, and has taken the penalty and wrath of God originally intended for us." (Common Ground, p. 230)
II. What is Sin?
In Greek the word "armartia" means, "to miss the mark, to fail, or to go wrong."
a.) The Fall is a portrayal of sin: Adam disobeyed God's command not to eat of "one tree" this was in effect a refusal of God's sovereignty and rule over his life.
III. The Consequences of the Fall:
"We die because after the Fall it is our created nature which gives existence to our hypostasis or ego; we draw existence from the possibilities or energies of our nature which are not able by themselves to sustain self-existence and the principle of Life, because they wear out and end at some point. But the hypostasis of Christ draws existence and life not from the human and the created, but from His divine and un-created nature, which exists as the freedom of the Father's will and the response of the Son's love to this will." (Yannaras, Christos, Elements of Faith, T & T Clark, 1991, p.109)
1. Death results because "true and real life" comes from God not us.
a.) Our created nature is mortal, finite and limited
2. In Christ, we discover "true and real life" because of His relationship with the Father. Christ is obedient in all things to His Father's will - The wills are united
A.) Obedience to God's will results in our adoption by God [ Eph 1:5; Gal. 4:5]
"He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. . . In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, . . . that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ. . .(Eph1:5)
"All" that is the Father's becomes ours - immortality, holiness, beauty, gentleness, honesty, obedience out of love.
3. Fallen human Nature exhibits the following:
a.) A weakened will & desire to be with God
(Why? Because the "power of the soul" [Incensive power: 'Thimikon'] is being led by human nature and not divine nature)
b.) Reason is blurred
(Why? Because the "power of the soul" to reason [Intelligent power: 'loyistikon'] is being led by human nature and not divine nature)
c.) Discernment for what is truly good and moral becomes darkened
(Why? Because, the "power of the soul" to desire the good [Appettitive power: Epithimitikon] is being led by human nature and not divine nature.
IV. The Ancient View of Original Sin
a.) Western Christians understand that humankind lost the "image" entirely after the Fall based upon Augustine's reading of the Genesis account with a "faulty Latin translation" of Romans 5:12 (Common Ground, p. 231)
Augustine's version read: "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, in whom (Adam) all men sinned"
Correct Version reads: "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned"
Consequently: The West teaches: All humanity has sinned in Adam (or participated in Adam's sin). In other words, when Adam disobeyed God, he "stained" the seed that would produce all succeeding generations, and thus Adam's personal sin becomes our personal sin. (Common Ground, p. 232)
"The changes which this theory occasioned in the faith of the Church are incalculable. It changed the truth of God by subordinating the freedom of his love to the relentless necessity of an egocentric and savage justice which demanded sadistic satisfaction. The God of the Church, from being a Father and "passionate lover" of mankind, was transformed into an implacable judge and menacing avenger whose justice rejoices (according to the view of Augustine) when it sees the sinners who are being tormented in hell. . . The schema "guilt-redemption-justification" is a typical symptom of every ‘natural religion', an expression of human psychology which refuses to give up the individualistic version of existence and seeks to defeat death by its own meritorious accomplishments. . ." (Elements of Faith, p. 112)
V. The Eastern Orthodox Teaching on Original Sin:
"The ‘Original Sin' passed on mortality and death - not total depravity of God's Image. ‘Death is the consequence of sin', and each individual's personal sin is the consequence of that death. Man's natural state, however, is not sin itself." (Common Ground, p. 232)
What Christ did to save us:
1. The Incarnation: God becomes man so that man can become gods again.
"Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. (Heb 2:14-15; also, Phil. 2:7,8)
"The Word of God came in his own Person, because it was He alone, the image of the Father, Who could re-create man made after the Image. In order to effect this re-creation, however, He had first to do away with death and corruption. Therefore He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once be destroyed, and that men might be renewed according to the Image [of God]" (St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation, SVS, 1962,41)
2. Death on the Cross: The Mystery of Love
"The sacrifice was for our sake and as an offering for our sins. We must not go any further than this. We cannot know how Christ's death grants us communion with God . . . God's love not legal negotiations, has saved us." (Common Ground. P. 235)
"The need, therefore, was that Life should cleave to it (humanity) in corruption's place, so that, just as death was brought into being in the body, Life also might be engendered in it. . .if death was within the body, woven into its very substance and dominating it as though completely one with it, the need was for Life to be woven into it instead, so that the body by thus enduing itself with Life might cast corruption off." (On the Incarnation, p. 80-81)
3. Resurrection from the Dead
"Christ overcame sin through the cross. Christ overcame the fallen nature by assuming our nature, Christ overcame death through His death. . .and in His descent into Hades and His Resurrection, Christ overcame Satan and his power." (Nicholas Cabasalas)
VI. On the Meaning of Baptism
1.) The act and its implication mean the same thing:
"Baptism in the early Church was not merely a sign of one's confession of Christ. Baptism was (and is) the symbol of Christ Himself." (Common Ground, p. 281)
" For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal 3:27)
"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom 6:5-11)
2 .) The act of being baptized is identified with what is accomplished:
". . .the primary meaning of symbol is in no way equivalent to ‘illustration'. . .The purpose and function of the symbol is not to illustrate (this would presume the absence of what is illustrated) but rather to manifest and to communicate that which is manifested." (Schmemann, The Eucharist, SVS, 1988, p. 38)
The human nature of Christ experiences death - the "New Adam" is divinity united with humanity - the mortal nature of our physical existence (the old self), is made a member of Christ who's immortal nature is made accessible by His grace.
The "newness of life" is not an emotional high but a new reality - the divine image once distorted by sin is now free to manifest Christ, Who is true Life.
3. Water is a biblical "symbol" of:
A. A symbol of Death : "The Red Sea" - The first Adam is renewed
B. A symbol of Cleansing : "Rites of Purification" - The soul is healed/forgiveness
C. A symbol of Life : "Living Water" - A life of the Holy Spirit/Grace/Becoming Holy
4.Theosis = being one with God: Our Entrance into the Church
A.) One cannot be a Christian alone "For by one Spirit we were all Baptized into One body (1 Cor. 12:13)
B.) Salvation is communal/eucharistic
Baptism restores in us the "Trinitarian Image" which is communal and relational in its essence.
C.) The Entire Church prepares itself to receive the new convert (40 days of Lent)