[quote:2lkt37ak]If one dies with a venial sin on their soul, how does one get into Heaven?[/quote:2lkt37ak]
Simple, he’s sorry for it (since it’s a given that the Almighty will forgive him.)
We take very seriously the teaching that in prinicple, God has forgiven everyone – or to put it in medieval-western-Christian-speak, “potentially God has forgiven all.”
There are many metaphors (sometimes ostensibly contradictory – burning on one hand, lonely and in the dark on the other – and being eaten by a worm in another, etc. etc. all being used to describe the fate of those lost to sin), but all of them relate [i:2lkt37ak]ultimatly[/i:2lkt37ak] to the condition of the individual they are applied to.
People go to hell, precisely because that is all they are capable of, that’s all they’ve assimilated. Stripped of the various temporary protections from reality that this life can afford (various distractions, natural goods, etc.) and left only with themselves as they actually are and God as He really [i:2lkt37ak]is[/i:2lkt37ak], they’re miserable.
OTOH, there are also those who in varying degrees, really did make a divorce in their hearts from sin through repentence; sufficient that they really do love God, they really do want Him, and that they can be consoled of all of the miseries they had withstood in this life (even those they caused for themselves.)
What’s particularly interesting, is that none of this has a thing to do with God’s “inability” to love. Even the Divine wrath is the love of God for the soul as He made it, and His love of truth and justice as experienced by those attached to sins. Even the sense in which the Cross served as a source of justification, and justification itself, are understood differently in this light – the feat of salvation is a gift of God to the world, and is the expression of His will to forgive, and to restore creation to it’s original justice/integrity, not the means of making God love us to begin with. Indeed, such an understanding creates all sorts of problems, and even has a certain quasi-Arian import to it (as it implies that the Son and the Father have different wills, which is an Arian thesis.)
In short, for Orthodox, the Cross is like a sword wielded by God against the devil and all manner of darkness, or a tool for rebuilding and restoring; in the west (most particularly in popular piety) it has become something of a bribe to get God to like us (thus, a weapon against God in a manner of speaking.) This latter understanding, or shades of it, are not only entirely wrong, but blasphemous.