I understand that Christianity is a religion founded in a collective ideal, but at what level is the individual considered, specifically within the Orthodox church as compared to Protestantism, in the context of salvation and the individual responsibility to the body of Christ?
The text that follows will give some context to my question but is not strictly necessary to answer it satisfactorily.
Based on my knowledge of scripture, the individual responds to the call of God and accepts the gift of salvation along with the responsibilities to the body of believers.
I recently got into a very frustrating conversation with an orthodox Christian who kept repeating phrases to the effect, "You're poisoned by American individualism", etc. and did not illuminate so much as simply naysay the ideas I was putting forth.
In the tradition I was raised in, it is commonly understood that the scriptures are to be the sole authoritative source for knowledge about God and the practice of the faith (sola scriptura). That is to say that tradition and wisdom from other sources can be very valuable, but must be tested against the solid foundation of the scriptures before being accepted as true or wise.
In Orthodox practice, it seems that "to accept the books of the canon is also to accept the ongoing Spirit-led authority of the church's tradition, which recognizes, interprets, worships, and corrects itself by the witness of Holy Scripture".
To me, this seems that both philosophies are fundamentally getting at the same idea. If not for the idea that the church can correct itself and its traditions 'by the witness of the Holy Scripture', I could see a wide rift, but it seems from my perspective that the American Protestant tradition I'm most familiar with doesn't reject the leading of the Holy Spirit or church tradition, but is mindful to constantly test practices against the scriptures themselves.
Of course, in practice, many professing Christians don't have much of a grasp on these foundational principles and begin accepting many odd ideas that are far outside the example that the Holy Scriptures give us. And some faiths, like a traditional American Church of Christ, follow the examples of the scriptures so strictly that they do not allow for musical instruments to be used in the organized worship of God. (That seems patently ridiculous to me, but that's another topic)
I feel as though I'm misunderstanding or completely missing some aspect of Orthodox Christianity, and given that I've been more and more dissatisfied with the culture of many congregations in the more familiar tradition, am trying to explore different understandings of my own faith. To be more clear about my background, my early influences were primarily from a Church of Christ background and I have been a 'member' of a few different Southern Baptist congregations over the years. From a doctrinal standpoint, I find very little to object to, but from a practical standpoint, I have been very frustrated with the isolation of generations from one another, the gossip and politics, and what I perceive as people putting on a front and being unwilling to be trusting or vulnerable about what is actually going on in their lives, even in small group settings.