Will the Heterodox Be Saved?

Metropolitan Saint Philaret, the reposed first-hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), wrote a response to the question, “Will the heterodox be saved?” His response is very important.  St Philaret expresses the love that is found within the Orthodox Church by condemning no one and allowing room for the great mercy of God in regards to salvation of those outside the One, True Church, while issuing a stern but loving warning to those who leave Orthodoxy.  However, he does not, in his acknowledgment that God can save whom He wants, betray Christ and His Church by acknowledging that the Church exists outside of Orthodoxy.

 

The Holy Orthodox Church is the repository of the divinely revealed Truth in all its fullness and fidelity to apostolic Tradition. Hence, he who leaves the Church, who intentionally and consciously falls away from it, joins the ranks of its opponents and becomes a renegade as regards apostolic Tradition. The Church dreadfully anathematized such renegades, in accordance with the words of the Saviour Himself (Matt. 18:17) and of the Apostle Paul (Gal. 1:8-9), threatening them with e ternal damnation and calling them to return to the Orthodox fold. It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics—i.e. those who knowingly pervert the truth…* They have been born and raised and are living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The Lord, “Who will have all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4) and “Who enlightens every man born into the world” (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation In His own way.

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