If we say we know the Truth, does that not set up a rather ugly, unloving divide between we who know the Truth and they who don’t?
The first thing I want to say is, yes, there is some sort of a “we-they” set up whenever any party says he knows the Truth. That distinction, or even division, has always been there and always will be to the end of time, and maybe eternally, for all we know. There is always Jew and Gentile or Mormon and Gentile, Catholic and non-Catholic, Christian and non-Christian, Muslim or infidel, saved or unsaved. It’s unavoidable.
It's also biblical; as far back as Cain and Abel, God discriminates among people, distinguishing those who love Him and those who don’t. “If you will keep My commandments,” He tells the Israelites repeatedly, “I will be your God and you shall be My people.” (Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 7:23, 11:4, 30:22, Ezekiel 36:28) Christ says that one day He will divide the sheep from the goats, will separate the wheat from the chaff.
There’s always a we and they, because the dividing line between Truth and Falsehood, that is, between love and self-serving, is always sharp. Moreover, to blur it would already be to serve falsehood. To blur it for the sake of "unity" or "brotherhood" would be an oxymoron, since the Truth IS unity and brotherhood.
There's always a we and a they, but the thing to notice is what kind of a we-they it is in Christianity.
Christianity, looking back at the Old Testament through the eyes of Christian revelation, does not view Israel as simply “the Chosen People.” Instead, as St. Paul points out in Galatians 3:8, Christianity holds that Israel was chosen for a specific purpose and mission (and honor, yes): to bring forth the Messiah, the Christ, the Light of the World, for the sake of the whole world, not merely for the sake of the Jews. God repeatedly said to Abraham, “In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3, 18:18, 22:18, 26:4, 28:14)
St. Paul writing to the Christians in Gentile Ephesus (in today’s Turkey) explains how this has come true:
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh--who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands-- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:11-18)
The dividing line between Jew and Gentile had been the Law, the Commandments, which the Jews obeyed (or were supposed to) and the Gentiles didn't. Now Christ has removed the Commandments as the division, setting God’s relationship with mankind on a new (yet not new at all!), universal footing: faith. Now the Temple worship of the Jews has been superceded by the sacrifice of Himself upon the Cross, for everyone, not just Jews.
To the Galatians, the Apostle writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (3:28-29) and to the Colossians, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.” (3:11)
In fact, the Christian hope is that in Christ, all things, including nature itself, will be revealed as gathered up and reconciled in Christ.
Well, sure, you say, all the divisions are considered healed within the Christian fold, but there's still "them" outside it.
St. Paul reminds us frequently (for example, in Ephesians 2 and Colossians 3) that we have all been there, done that. Moreover, we still sin, the same as any unbeliever. These two considerations alone should be enough to shut our mouths whenever we feel any impulse to judge anyone. But there’s more. There’s more because to refrain from judging others is only one facet of loving others, and to love everyone and everything is the Christian vocation. “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)
Fr. Gregory (Hogg) has a quote on his blog from Dovstoyevsky that expresses the Christian’s calling marvelously. Here is a snippet from it, but do treat yourself to the whole:
Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble it, don't harass them, don't deprive them of their happiness, don't work against God's intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you- alas, it is true of almost every one of us!... My brother asked the birds to forgive him; that sounds senseless, but it is right; for all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth. It may be senseless to beg forgiveness of the birds, but birds would be happier at your side- a little happier, anyway- and children and all animals, if you were nobler than you are now.
St. Isaac the Syrian says, in one of his most famous passages:
The heart that is inflamed in this way embraces the entire creation – man, birds, animals and even demons. At the recollection of them, and at the sight of them, such a man’s eyes fill with tears that arise from the great compassion which presses on his heart. The heart grows tender and cannot endure to hear of or look upon any injury or even the smallest suffering inflicted upon anything in creation. For this reason such a man prays increasingly with tears even for irrational animals and for the enemies of truth and for all who harm it, that they may be guarded and be forgiven. The compassion which pours out from his heart without measure, like God’s, extends even to reptiles.
This is the love of Christ; and it is all-embracing; nothing can separate us from it, not, “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword, neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing.” (Romans 8:35, 38-39)
This is Christ’s love, and it reaches across all divisions. It’s only when we fail to live that love that we set up a “we” and a “they”. In truth, as Solzhenitsyn said, the line between good and evil is not between “us” and “them”, but runs right through every human heart.
P.S. The Orthodox do NOT believe that to be Orthodox is necessarily to be saved, or that not to be Orthodox is necessarily not to be saved.