Greek Orthodox Christians, along with Roman Catholics, represent the most venerable streams of Christianity. As with other streams of Christianity, Greek Orthodox theology has quite a bit to say about God, humanity and salvation. Examining the history and beliefs of the Greek Orthodox provides insight into what exactly they mean by the term "salvation" and how it's achieved.
Salvation Through Jesus
Greek Orthodox beliefs about salvation center around Jesus Christ. They believe Jesus is the son of God, as well as God, and they accept the doctrine of the Trinity as it was expressed in the early church councils. Like most other Christians, Greek Orthodox believe that Jesus was crucified, and in doing so, accepted the punishment for the sins of humanity. Without Jesus, there is no way to achieve salvation from either the temporal or eternal consequences of sin.
A Lifelong Process
Salvation begins with the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, but it expresses itself throughout the entire life of the believer in Greek Orthodox thought. Salvation is a lifelong process that unites the believer with God, allowing the believer to actually become part of the divine. For the Greek Orthodox, the process of salvation culminates when Christ returns to judge the world and the bodies of Christians are raised from the dead and transformed, just as they teach Christ's physical body was raised and transformed.
Faith and Good Works
Greek Orthodox believe faith is integral to salvation. Faith means more than simply agreeing with particular doctrines, although professing these beliefs is the beginning step of the Orthodox life. Rather, faith is expressed through the actions of the Orthodox believer. "Faith working through love" is a common expression among Greek Orthodox. For them, it isn't that good works are responsible for salvation but rather that Christ's death made it possible for human beings to have a faith that produces good works.
The Church's Role in Salvation
The church is at the core of salvation for Greek Orthodox. They believe Jesus founded the church for the purpose of expressing his truth to the world. The church is the place where Orthodox Christians learn about God and where they become holy. The ministry of the church, which especially includes the sacraments, helps the Orthodox believer become better united with Christ and better prepared for the final salvation that will occur when Christ returns.
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