Saturday, January 26, 2008

Assurance of Salvation

Here are some further thoughts about assurance of salvation that came to me on my way to Northern Virginia, to visit my parents and (tomorrow) Barbara, because I don't think I made my meaning very clear some earlier entries.

The question of whether you or I will end up in heaven cannot be totally objectified. Non-Orthodox people may try, citing all that Jesus did to save us, and citing God's grace as applied to us in the sacraments. Yet we are taught that these things work their effect in us through faith.

There are only three ways I can think of to deal with the issue of faith. One is to ignore it. But that totally sabotages any objective assurance. Another is to have an incredible amount of faith in my faith, which arrogance would not be an encouraging sign. A third way is to try to objectivize my faith. That means --gulp! -- measuring it by my works. And that way most often leads either to despair (if one is brave and honest about it) or to self-deception, as in the people Jesus described in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats who even worked miracles in His name, but without any faith at all.

That's why such assurance as we have of our salvation cannot be had objectively. And the attempt to have it objectively is misguided. As St. Paul observed, the pledge and token of our salvation is the Holy Spirit in our hearts, to Whom "objective" and "subjective" do not apply.


123 said...

According to my priest, Met. Maximos of Pittsburgh has noted that the Greek of the NT makes it clear that we are saved not by our faith in Christ, but by Christ's faith (i.e., faithfulness). I'll try and get more info and the exact passage he is referring to.

William Weedon said...

Was it Galatians 2:20?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

As I understand this idea, yes, and also such verses as Galatians 2:16,22 and Philippians 3:0.

But I believe this is a rather new notion, at least to the best of my poor knowledge. I could easily be proven wrong. But I don't think most Greeks, even, would agree with Met. Maximos that the language makes this CLEAR.

Do any of the Fathers teach it?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Make that Philippians 3:9!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Although there's no doubt we could not be saved if Christ had NOT been faithful! But my hunch is these verses refer to our faith.

William Weedon said...

I've never seen in any of the fathers the notion that it refers to Christ's faithfulness, fwiw.