Orthodox & Protestant comparison on Salvation

I generally cringe at simple explanations of salvation. Maybe that is because I grew up with the Four Spiritual Laws and The Bridge Diagram evangelism “tools,” which I do not like anymore (and never really did anyway). Maybe it’s also because we know that salvation is so profound that we don’t want to see it turned into a pithy formula. In that light this video below can be seen as one overly simple explanation of salvation pitted against another overly simple explanation. But sometimes simplicity is a good thing. In fact, one could say that if we cannot get to the essence of salvation in a rather straightforward way then maybe we don’t really understand it. The question I have is which explanation makes the most sense? Which is most accurately Biblical? Or are neither? And is this a fair comparison anyway?

I have to say I like this Orthodox explanation much more than the Four Spiritual Laws/Bridge version, though I find I am still deeply shaped by the latter.

What are your thoughts?


  1. Hope you don’t mind too much that I keep popping up here. This is good. Like you say, it’s simple, but I think it’s helpful. I also could never get along with the Four Spiritual Laws and so on.

    The concept I’ve been studying in the Bible, because I see and experience it in the services and throughout Orthodoxy, is death versus life, rather than bad versus good. I think that’s what this man is saying about God’s love. It truly brings life. We are on a journey from life to life. The NT scriptures speak of living “according to the flesh” and living “according to the Spirit.” I’m trying to use my poor study skills to see if my hunch is correct that this comparison is also regarding life and death. The “flesh” was never abhorrent to early Christians, as the gnostics thought (I think). It’s simply that the way of the flesh leads everyone to death. But the way of the Spirit is leading also, beyond death, to life. We’re already, in Christ, transitioning to life.

    Anyway, I really like this quote by Fr. Stephen Freeman (who also has a blog): “Christ did not die in order to make bad men good – he died in order to make dead men live.”

  2. Thank you for sharing this video, Tucker. My cynical British mind initially reacts to anything that appears gimmicky with cynical amusement but by the end of it I was on the verge of tears.

    I have a number of problems with what is here characterised as the Protestant view (but which is also present, to some degree, the Latin church, for the various theories of substitutionary atonement all stem from the satisfactionism theory taught by Anselm of Canterbury, whom the Latins recognise as a saint). Among them are that the god that it presents is not the God that I recognise and love – rather this theory paints a picture of an eternal, uncreated being who becomes offended by temporal actions of created man, (itself problematic), and then who demands satisfaction for this offence caused, or he turns his back on his creation. I actually felt physicaly unwell looking at the first part of the video for this reason.

    Another problem is the entirely external nature of this view of salvation. If salvation ceases to be about having my whole being – body, soul, heart, mind, everything – imbued with the energies of God and growing into unity with the life-giving Trinity, and instead becomes merely legal standing before god the judge – that is, my status as being justified or not – then nothing has happened to my actual person. This is merely a legal status that is external to my actual being. It is not real. It reduces salvation to a status – saved or unsaved: justified or unjustified – but without any real conversion of the human person from one suffering the effects of the fall into a person restored to the path of deification, of growing into oneness with God.

    The third problem, (and one whose effects I have suffered personally in recent months) is that, once deification or any form of salvation of the actual person is removed and replaced with this legalistic framework of Anselm’s, all that is left for a person to do is to try to stand justified before God by fulfilling commandments and leading a morally upright way of life. Focus on broken human beings finding healing and then health and then growth vanishes, and what is left is a moralising legalism – a satisfaction of the letter of the law which is identified as the Christian way of life. So easily this is put before the actual healing and growth of the human person, and it can – and does – lead to judgementalism.

    There is a good piece written on this by a friend of mine, the Reader Thomas. I’m unsure of how to code links on WordPress blogs so I’ll just include the URL:


    I hope that this helps.

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