Christ as Personal Savior
by Father David Moser from an Excerpt in the"Parish Life"
The Protestant emphasis comes from the recognition that just a simple acknowledgment of Jesus as Messiah or as Son of God or even as the Accomplisher of Salvation is not enough, but that there must also be some type of commitment to a Personal Savior. The Orthodox Church understands commitment and personal salvation as much more organic than that of the Protestant confessions. The Protestant individual is "saved" by a personal action of God relating to himself alone, and his Church is the collection of all of those saved individuals. Salvation is an individual. The Orthodox Faith teaches us that salvation is not individual, but corporate.
The words individual and personal are interesting and important. Orthodox teaching has it that we can say that the Lord Jesus is our personal Savior in that He takes individuals (beings that are independent and separated from all others) and makes them persons (separate beings that united to other beings in a larger whole, in this case the Church) This contrast from individuals to persons is derived from the doctrine of the Trinity. We worship One God (individual) in Three Persons. Just as there is only One Church (individual) made of many persons. In this sense, the emphasis on individuality in Western, and especially in American culture, is anti-Christian. This sense of individuality is derived from an incorrect understanding of the Orthodox Church in Western Europe and the Reformation theology that justified salvation apart from the Church. We must remember that salvation is corporate.