Heterodoxy

Heterodox is the term used by Eastern Orthodox Christians to refer to Christian denominations or groups and their members outside the hierarchy of the Orthodox churches. No Orthodox churches to my knowledge allow the heterodox to partake of the Eucharist (receive communion) with them in their liturgical services. But some Orthodox churches regard the heterodox as having a saving faith, some are agnostic on that score, and some say that they are unsaved altogether.

Personally, based on Acts 2:21, I believe that anyone that does the following will be saved:

  • Believes in and worships the Triune god (the one eternally existing God, who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who was miraculously born to the virgin Mary as God – the Son, who died on the cross to save us from our sins, and who was resurrected bodily from the dead, and;
  • Acknowledges, to himself and to God, his own sinfulness and therefore his need for his transformation and salvation, and;
  • Truly desiring these things, and for union with God, calls on the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, asking for them.

I am Orthodox, and as such believe that Orthodoxy is the fullest and truest form of Christianity. But based on Acts 2:21, it seems that irrespective of one’s Christian denomination, if they understand who Jesus Christ is and call on Him to save them, they will be saved.

This idea is found in Acts, chapter two:

[W]hosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (v. 21)

The context of the chapter tells us that this statement applies to the Christian epoch. The chapter describes the outpouring of Holy Ghost power on the day of Pentecost, which was manifested outwardly by the Christian worshipers speaking in languages that they did not know, but that a gathering crowd of onlookers did understand.

People of many nations were present since this day was the traditional feast of Pentecost of the Hebrew religion. It followed fifty days after the commencement of the Passover feast and this particular day followed forty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The chapter answers the questions that this outpouring raised among the onlookers and visitors in the city.

And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? (Acts 2:12)

In response to the crowd the apostle Peter stood forth and answered the questions, explaining that the Old Testament prophecies of Joel were being fulfilled. He said,

 … this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy … . (Acts 2:16 – 18)

Peter has announced a new covenant between God and man. Whereas the manifestation of the gifts of God’s Spirit had been generally confined to the sons of Abraham, and within them to their prophets; now He was pouring his Spirit out liberally upon all men. As corollary to that, whereas salvation had been restricted to the Jews, now it was available to all. Peter also allows the prophet Joel give the terms of this new covenant:

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)

Peter is calling on people in the crowd, and in his country and time generally, to do this. He is saying that the prophecy of Joel had come to pass and the Spirit was available, and that the time had come in which both gentiles and Jews could call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Some readers might argue that verses 19 and 20 indicate that this covenant will not be made available until the final days of the Christian epoch when the physical return of Jesus Christ is immanent. Verses 19,20 do describe events immediately prior to the return of Christ.

And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: (Acts 2:19,20)

But even with that, we ought not to say the verses 16-18 were future for those present and hearing the words of Joel through Peter. It was for them as well as the generations following them that the new covenant had commenced.

Peter underscores this when the people ask him what they are to do to be saved. He does not say to wait two thousand years. He says:

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Acts 2:38)

The promise he refers to is the promise in the prophecy of Joel that as many as call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Peter said that this was available to those present before him, and to their children, as well as to those “far off”, which implies both his present and future: from the time of Peter to the return of Christ.

This is the covenant of the Christian epoch. It says nothing about the plethora of doctrines and theological points that define whether someone has a fully Eastern Orthodox understanding of Christianity or rather is part of some heterodox Christian group. So, while as an Orthodox Christian I believe it is better in every way to be Orthodox, the covenant offer – “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” – tells me that a person can have saving faith in Jesus Christ whether they are Orthodox or heterodox.

Next up: Romans 1:16, John 4:24, John 14:6

 * * * * * 

What follows are links to notable people and groups from within heterodoxy.

Check out the miraculous life of Surprize Sithole, of Africa.

The prophecies of David Wilkerson.

The House Church movement of China. Here is a history of it.

Like a Mighty Wind – revival in Indonesia.

Revival in Iran. The House Church movement in Iran.

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