Salvation = Grace + ??: Do We Orthodox Focus Too Little on the Redeeming Blood of Jesus and Too Much on Righteousness?

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The other day in Sunday school, as I was discussing a phrase that the early Fathers often spoke—”There is no salvation outside the Church”—and also spoke about the need to strive for righteousness so we can be ready on judgment day, someone asked: “What is the role of the blood of Jesus in all of this?” “Where is grace?”

“It goes without saying,” I said, “that grace of Christ’s death and redeeming blood is the foundation of salvation.”

But they challenged that assumption and responded: “In the Orthodox Church, it is not spoken of enough.” Is that a fair statement, do you think?

As I was preparing this post, a friend of mine reached out to me because he was challenged with the same type of concern brought forward by some Orthodox Christians, that somehow the Orthodox Church is undermining grace when we emphasize the fact that “works” (being righteous) is necessary for salvation.

I think these questions and challenges often stem from the extent to which Evangelicals and other similar non-Orthodox Christian denominations emphasize “nothing but the blood of Jesus” (as the song goes) and “justification by faith in Christ” as being all that is needed to reach heaven, while excluding the need for the Church and righteousness, although Scriptures teach otherwise. And so, when we Orthodox are continually exposed to this message with such a singular focus on the issue of salvation, many are persuaded that maybe they are right: we are justified to enter heaven by faith in Christ, and that’s all we need.

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Get Rid of Coptic? When Coptic Is Not Edifying…

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“We should stop using Coptic in the Coptic Church,” is what I’ve been hearing these days by many. How did we get to this point? Should we stop using the Coptic language in the Coptic Church in the diaspora? Recently His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and previously the late Pope Shenouda III seemed to express support for adapting to new cultures to include allowing no use of the Coptic language (see videos below). I’m curious to get your thoughts.

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Prayer: What, Why, & How? (Sunday School Lesson & PPT)

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Looking for a Sunday School lesson with a PowerPoint? Periodically I’ll upload my Sunday School lessons and PowerPoint slides for you to download. To see all the Sunday School Lessons I’ve uploaded on my blog, click the following link: Sunday School Lessons.  For many more that I’ve uploaded previously, check out copticmusician.com.

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Here is one on Prayer, given 3/22/2015.

You can download the full PowerPoint by this link: Prayer – Sunday School Lesson

Here is a preview of all the slides: Continue reading