Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian: Is yours the only true church?

What would you like to know about the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith? Submit your question.

By Nicholas Damascus

Do you believe that this is the only true church and that believing in Jesus outside of it will not bring salvation?

easternorthodoxIt is ludicrous for anyone to sit on the throne of God and deem as to who has been saved or damned – whether they believe in God or not, it is not for us to say.  It is just as ridiculous to claim to know the mind of God or to determine his judgment.

However, through the father’s revelation to man (sending his son into the world) and his energies, we can understand that his intention and purpose is to save all of us, not just some of us.

When the incarnate God entered his creation, he provided a means of rescue, healing, and restoration for all of humanity.  He did so by establishing his bride (his church) whom he died for and proclaimed the following:

  • Matthew 16:18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Note: The Scriptures being written in the ancient Greek, the word for “rock” is written in the feminine which “rock” refers to Peter’s profession of faith, Peter’s testimony, and not the person of Peter. If Christ were referencing Saint Peter as “the rock,” or person to build his church on, the word “rock” would have been written in the masculine.

No one can say this is the only means of salvation, for as Scripture points out as in the rescue of the thief on the cross, the first into paradise.  Along those same lines, no one can say where the Holy Spirit of God is and where HE is not.

However, in the same breath, we as Eastern Orthodox Christians believe and profess that the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God is in his church, that church that Christ and the apostles founded as evidenced by the following Scripture.

  • Saint Paul addresses Christ’s Church in 1st Corinthians 1: 2 To the Church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Jesus Christ, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.”
  • Saint Paul addresses Christ’s Church in Thessalonians 1: 1 “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Luke recorded that Paul preached for three Sabbath days to the Jews in the local synagogue (Acts 17:2).

Saint Paul established the churches in Corinth and Thessalonica.  Those churches of Corinth and Thessalonica still exist today and are known as the Orthodox Church.

  • 1 Timothy 3:15:  “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

As long as we are on the subject, I would ask which Jesus might you be talking about?  The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimated there are 43,000 organized Christian denominations as of 2012.  Not all of them create or define Jesus in the same image.  Knowing all of this might one be bold enough to seek the real Person of Christ as you and I are real persons and discover what he actually wants for each of us?  Curious, I wonder how that might affect your salvation.

Additional reading:

Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian: Why do Orthodox Christians believe theirs is the correct church?


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