I wanted to blog a few short thoughts about soteriology and Atonement, but nothing deeply theological about either subject. It came about form a conversation on Facebook with some Reformed folks. I will being using an analogy between soteriology and a house. I do not see any problems with this analogy in light of Orthodoxy teaching, but if there are issues or problems with it please feel free to comment and let me know.
Many people equate synergism with “men saves himself”. This is simply not true. Christ saved me on the Cross. His Eucharistic, Therapeutic, Substutionary death on the Cross where His blood was spilled healed me, and defeats sin and death making it possible for me to be saved IF I SO CHOOSE to accept this gift. The Calvinist, particularly, cannot wrap his mind around this understanding. Mainly because, and this is purely been my experience, so I could be wrong, some of them came to the theology they did for emotional or psychological reasons, experiences, or events in their lives. They are also people who seem to struggle psychotically in their own mind and obsess about their salvation that they must create/discover what I call a Theology of Tyranny, a theology where God is a tyrant and fatalism reigns supreme (I mean no disrespect towards those in the Reformed Tradition at all, but my observations of those there have reflected this when I hear their stories and why they joined the Reformed Tradition). However, I digress; we do not in any way shape or form teach that men can save himself as Orthodox Christians.
This is the best way to put it: salvation is like a house.
This house was shut off to us before Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, which opened its doors. The way to get into this house is to 1) believe and profess Christ if one is an adult, or 2) be baptized as an infant and accept one’s baptism as an adult who grows in their faith and nurtures a relationship with Christ. Outside of those things there is no way in. Nothing we do on our own outside of the house can get us in the house besides those things. It is only possible to do those things because Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It is only possible because God has chosen matter like bread, wine, water, and oil to show His grace.
Once we accept the grace of Christ who opens the door we can enter this house. And once there, like any good home owner, we work out our salvation with fear and trembling and good works. The works are the work on the house the home owner (saved person) does to keep it up.
All of this is by His grace. The house is not open to us without His work on the Cross and His rising in the Resurrection. Our works could not open that door. Our righteousness could not open that door. His grace makes it possible to be opened if we do the things necessary to walk in it and be a resident in the house of the Lord.
The Lord does not force us in nor does He say some can come in and some cannot. He is a good God and loves mankind. The invitation into this house is made present to all. If you enter or not is on you; not on Him. Behold, He stands and knocks on the doors of all men.