Among the more interesting bits to come from my renewed interest in comparing Orthodoxy and Protestantism has been the seeming divide in our views of Sola Fide. The Protestant will defend that all that is needed for salvation is belief in the work of Christ on the cross. That belief, before any sacraments or any sanctifying works, is sufficient for justification before God.
Orthodox, while upholding the work of Christ on the cross, add that we gain in holiness through our works which produce righteousness in us. They make a link there, between the one time act of justification and the ongoing work of sanctification.
As far as I can tell, it is a distinction without a difference. Ask a Protestant and they will acknowledge that faith without works is dead. If you claim to have faith, but it produces no change in the way you live your life, no deepening of your relationship with God then, most likely, your faith was not genuine. It is impossible to come face to face with the Living God and remain unchanged.
Here, though, is where I believe we Protestants place too much emphasize on the act of conversion/justification and too little in the ongoing sanctification. A church may have a new Christians class, maybe even a whole 6 months of it, where they disciple a new Christian, but how many in their daily and weekly practice make a point of encouraging the faithful to actually be, well, faithful? Aside from regular church attendance and, of course, the tithe! There is so much more to our faith, so much more richness to our lives with Christ than simply praying, reading our Bible and being at the church whenever the door is open. Not that those things are not good in and of themselves, but there is so much more to being in a relationship.
So, to me, both Orthodox and Protestant accept the redeeming work of Christ on the cross, the necessity for real faith to evidence itself in the life of the believer and acknowledge the fact that actively taking part in our relationship on a daily basis with God brings us to be more and more like Him. With so much to agree on, why do we continue to feud over the trivialities? As a friend of mine is fond of saying “seems like we are in violent agreement.”