To those who count themselves within Eastern Orthodoxy,
I am concerned for your souls. Though you claim to be “orthodox”, your doctrine says otherwise. You reject the Gospel by your rejection of Salvation by Faith Alone and Penal Substitution, without which there is no Christianity. These beliefs are essential to the Gospel, so denying them shows that you embrace a false gospel that cannot save. By putting your authority in your tradition rather than the inspired Word of God (Which itself is a heresy), you have opened the door to all sorts of other heresies. In truth, by bringing another gospel you are contradicting the true Gospel and blaspheming the God whose Gospel it is. Make no mistake about it, you are committing the sins of blasphemy and idolatry. These sins are damning. The Bible says idolators will not inherit the kingdom of God, and blasphemers will not be held guiltless (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Exodus 20:7).
In your elevation of tradition, you reject the clear teaching of Scripture. Read Isaiah 53. Jesus was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities, and our punishment was placed upon him (Isaiah 53:4). It was our sin that put him on the Cross. Our sin was imputed to His account and His righteousness to ours. He who knew no sin became sin, so that we may become the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). This gift of Salvation is given by grace alone through faith alone. For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves. It is a gift of God, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). It depends not on human will or exertion (Romans 9:16).
While you put your trust in your works, you fail to see that all of your works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). If you were saved by works, or works were required to cooperate with faith in order to save, then your good works would not be able to clean you any more than a mud-soaked rag would be able to clean a pig from the mire. If you have lied, the Bible says you will have your part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). If you have ever looked with lust, you are an adulterer and no adulterer will inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:27-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Even your pride, jealousy, and greed are enough to put you at enmity with God (Proverbs 16:5, James 3:16, Matthew 6:24). Every profane word that rolls off of your tongue is an offense against the God who made that tongue (Ephesians 4:29). These sinful deeds are infinitely more sinful than your good deeds are virtuous. Good works have no power to save.
However, there is One who has come who has perfectly fulfilled the law. That man is Jesus Christ. He was born without sin, and lived a sinless life. Because of this, He was a sufficient sacrifice for our sins. God came to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ, and, as one evangelist puts it, He lived the perfect life for about 30 years that you and I couldn’t live for 30 seconds. Then He voluntarily went to the cross and died in our place. Then three days later, He rose from the grave, which finalized His victory over sin and death. In truth, the only sense in which we are saved by works is that we are saved by Christ’s works. Though we cannot save ourselves, God became man to save His people.
I urge you, repent and believe the true Gospel. Put your faith in the risen Christ. I am not telling you something new. This was not an invention of Martin Luther or John Wycliffe. Some of the very people your religion venerates and worships taught these same essential truths. Though you have a feast day set aside for your worship of Jerome, it was he who said, “Deus ex sola fide justificat.” It literally translates to, “God justifies by faith alone.” When writing about Ephesians 2:10, John Chrysostom (Who you also claim to venerate) said, “What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent.” Sola Fide is not the only thing you deny that those you claim to follow taught. Hippolytus of Rome, when writing against the Modalist named Noetus, said, “There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source.” Athanasius of Alexandria, who you also venerate, said about the Bible, “These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these.” (Festal Letter 39) Even if you truly followed your tradition, it would lead you to embrace Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura.
So embrace the true Gospel. Read the Scriptures. Repent of your sins and put your faith fully and entirely in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Come out of Eastern Orthodoxy, and in to Christianity.
With love and concern,
Brandon C. Hines