The Orthodox Pages

























Question 393

Hello Pater, I was wondering if you believe only orthodox Christians go to heaven or other Christians too? Thank you, God bless 



Answer to Question 393


This is a difficult question to answer and one that not everyone will agree on.  We believe that everyone is born in a state of illumination and as we grow and sin enters our lives then darkness slowly follows and we lose our spiritual sight.


What do I mean? God sends His grace to all men, since “He makes His sun rise on the just and the unjust and sends His rain on the evil and the good”. But each person feels God's love differently, according to his spiritual condition. God is light and light has two properties, illuminating and caustic. If one person has good vision, he benefits from the illuminating property of the sun, and he enjoys the whole creation. But if another person is deprived of his eye, if he is without sight, then he feels the caustic property of light. God love all people, but those without spiritual sight will be unable to perceive this love as light. They will perceive it as fire, since they will not have a spiritual eye and spiritual vision. Therefore the same love of God, the same energy will fall upon all men, but it will work differently. 


This understanding of spiritual eyesight can be applied to the question of whether or not non-Orthodox will be saved. Many say that everyone outside of the Church will be condemned to spend eternity in Hell and that there is no salvation outside of the Church. Can we really believe that God as the loving Father we continually portray and praise will allow the great majority of his children to suffer the fires of hell for all eternity. This is a very western image of God who is often portrayed as a punishing God. It is true that salvation can only be found in the Orthodox Church, but when we talk of salvation we always mean perfect salvation which is deification. Only Baptism in the Orthodox Church gives us the ability to become deified. 


If we interpret this with the example of eyesight mentioned earlier then this will help us to understand how other people can participate in the divine light although not as fully as an Orthodox person. I said earlier that every man is born with an illuminated nous which as the child grows becomes darkened through the passions and sin. If someone lives a sinless spiritual life fighting the passions then it follows that the darkness of his eyes will slowly fade and allow him sight of the divine light. He may not be able to see as bright as someone Orthodox following a similar life, but he can still see the light even if this is dimly. Thus salvation relies on the health of one’s spiritual eyes. If they are darkened through many sins he will not be able to see the divine light and so will not be able to participate in God, but if he has struggled to cleanse himself from the passions and his spiritual eyes allow him to see even a little glow of the divine light then that means he participates in God to the level that his eyes allow him. 


I hope this is understandable, it is difficult to explain certain things very plainly, but in short I believe that all people can be saved, but only Orthodox can receive deification.