Concerning the salvation of non-Orthodox Christians
I was asked to make this rebloggable, so here it is :)
Orthodox Christianity is the assured means to the be joined to Christ, but how God will ultimately join to Christ those who do not have access to the presence of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is his prerogative and mystery.
About the salvation of those who have not consciously rejected Christ, we have the words of St. Theophan the Recluse to guide us into a correct Orthodox understanding:
“You ask, will the heterodox be saved… Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such concern. Study yourself and your own sins… I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever.”
And there are the words of the Metropolitan Philaret who was the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad a very conservative theologian:
“It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics—i.e. those who knowingly pervert the truth… They have been born and raised and are living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The Lord, “Who will have all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4) and “Who enlightens every man born into the world” (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation In His own way.”
However, Elder Nektary of Optina said:
“God desires not only that the nations be saved, but each individual soul. A simple Indian, believing in his own way in the Creator and fulfilling His will as best he can, will be saved; but he who, knowing about Christianity, follows the Indian mystical path, will not.” [Ivan Kontzevitch, Elder Nektary of Optina, p. 181].
Individuals within Orthodoxy might give you all sorts of different answers, but the most uniform response you will get about who God will save outside of the Church is that we simply do not know. Christ as God, and King and Judge can save whoever He wants to save, and condemn whoever He wants to condemn. Even being in the Church is no guarantee of salvation; it’s not a free ticket. We must cooperate with God and experience a rebirth.
Same goes for people who belong to other religions as well. We don’t know if they will be saved or not. It’s up to God, who desires the salvation of every human soul.