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Moderated Forums => Orthodox-Other Christian Discussion => Orthodox-Catholic Discussion => Topic started by: Volnutt on August 11, 2011, 09:18:40 PM

Title: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Volnutt on August 11, 2011, 09:18:40 PM
I don't understand sacrementals like the Brown Scapular, Promises of the Rosary, etc. It seems like they go against the RC belief that no one can know whether they will be saved.

From the promises attached to the Sacred Heart devotion:

Quote
In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
http://www.fisheaters.com/sh.html

This sounds pretty all-encompassing to me. For those who complete the devotion. I don't see how it differs from Protestant beliefs in the Perseverance of the Saints.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: theo philosopher on August 11, 2011, 09:31:03 PM
I don't understand sacrementals like the Brown Scapular, Promises of the Rosary, etc. It seems like they go against the RC belief that no one can know whether they will be saved.

From the promises attached to the Sacred Heart devotion:

Quote
In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
http://www.fisheaters.com/sh.html

This sounds pretty all-encompassing to me. For those who complete the devotion. I don't see how it differs from Protestant beliefs in the Perseverance of the Saints.


I've been wondering the same thing, mostly because many Catholics/Orthodox tend to create a straw-man with Eternal Security (though in their defense, many proponents of eternal security don't really know what they're saying).

As I've always been taught, we're justified and then begin the process of sanctification. This doesn't mean we say a prayer and we're done. Instead, it's always said that works serve as proof for faith, that someone without works is someone without faith.

I think where the Orthodox differ is they teach it's possible for one to have works because of faith, but they can abandon the faith and turn against God. Many Protestants believe that one can "backslide" against God, but one will always be justified, regardless of actions (though the hypothetical, "well maybe he wasn't really saved" is offered).

To me, this is one of the hardest beliefs to get over because ever since I was a child it's been ingrained into my head that we're justified and then begin the process of sanctification. To believe any different is wrong, heretical, and causes you to go to Hell since you're denying the mercy of Christ (this is what I was taught...I certainly don't believe that denying it is cause to go to Hell, but there is a major psychological impact from growing up hearing that).
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Volnutt on August 11, 2011, 09:32:50 PM
I know what you mean, I come from the same place.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: theistgal on August 12, 2011, 10:50:27 AM
I don't do these devotions but it was explained to me once: it's not magic (though regrettably too many treat it like that), but the idea is that if you commit to going to church and receiving the sacraments for that long, chances are you'll continue after the initial nine month period; which means you're more likely to keep going for the rest of your life and thus you'll be more likely to ask for the last sacraments when you're dying.

Sort of like an incentive ... dare I stay stimulus program? ;)
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Schultz on August 12, 2011, 11:04:55 AM
I don't do these devotions but it was explained to me once: it's not magic (though regrettably too many treat it like that), but the idea is that if you commit to going to church and receiving the sacraments for that long, chances are you'll continue after the initial nine month period; which means you're more likely to keep going for the rest of your life and thus you'll be more likely to ask for the last sacraments when you're dying.

Sort of like an incentive ... dare I stay stimulus program? ;)

That's always been my understanding of them, as well. 
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: elijahmaria on August 12, 2011, 11:22:28 AM
I don't do these devotions but it was explained to me once: it's not magic (though regrettably too many treat it like that), but the idea is that if you commit to going to church and receiving the sacraments for that long, chances are you'll continue after the initial nine month period; which means you're more likely to keep going for the rest of your life and thus you'll be more likely to ask for the last sacraments when you're dying.

Sort of like an incentive ... dare I stay stimulus program? ;)

That's always been my understanding of them, as well. 

Me too.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Papist on August 12, 2011, 11:25:19 AM
I don't do these devotions but it was explained to me once: it's not magic (though regrettably too many treat it like that), but the idea is that if you commit to going to church and receiving the sacraments for that long, chances are you'll continue after the initial nine month period; which means you're more likely to keep going for the rest of your life and thus you'll be more likely to ask for the last sacraments when you're dying.

Sort of like an incentive ... dare I stay stimulus program? ;)

That's always been my understanding of them, as well. 

Me too.
+1
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Wyatt on August 12, 2011, 02:16:49 PM
I don't do these devotions but it was explained to me once: it's not magic (though regrettably too many treat it like that), but the idea is that if you commit to going to church and receiving the sacraments for that long, chances are you'll continue after the initial nine month period; which means you're more likely to keep going for the rest of your life and thus you'll be more likely to ask for the last sacraments when you're dying.

Sort of like an incentive ... dare I stay stimulus program? ;)
My understanding as well, and I will second what you said about not doing them. I don't do them either. I frequently receive the Eucharist and make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is far more important. Though if these devotions bring people to a greater love and relationship with Jesus Christ that is a good thing, they just aren't really my thing personally. My dad wears a brown scapular, but he does so with the understanding that it is his faith, not the scapular itself, which is saving him.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Alveus Lacuna on August 12, 2011, 02:47:13 PM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprised when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Wyatt on August 12, 2011, 02:52:22 PM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprises when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and Hid faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.
I don't think it's wrong to trust in God's mercy. It just must be balanced with the understanding that we don't deserve salvation and that it is certainly possible to lose it. Remember, despair is as much of a sin as presumption.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Alpo on August 12, 2011, 03:26:20 PM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprised when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.

I've never been a Calvinist but I feel the same and have also had hard time identifying with despair over sins that one sees in Orthodox prayers. It also makes confession a little more complicated since it seems that we should be weeping over ours sins etc. but then again I don't go to confession so I don't think that's a problem for me. :P
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: J Michael on August 12, 2011, 04:42:51 PM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprised when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.

I've never been a Calvinist but I feel the same and have also had hard time identifying with despair over sins that one sees in Orthodox prayers. It also makes confession a little more complicated since it seems that we should be weeping over ours sins etc. but then again I don't go to confession so I don't think that's a problem for me. :P

My understanding is that we should heartily regret our sins and the effects they have had on us and on others.  It is also my understanding that "tears", as in weeping over our sins, is a gift from God, not granted to all.  Having said that, if our sins are of great magnitude and we do truly regret them, this may indeed bring tears to our eyes once we realize their ramifications.  This *should* bring us to at least the beginning of repentance.  I would also agree that to "despair" of our sins may actually be sinful, especially if in so doing we are lacking in trust of God's great Mercy.

And, Alpo, if you really do not partake of the Sacrament of Confession, that is truly a great loss for you.  To realize one's sinfulness, to acknowledge one's sins, to confess them to God before another human being, to repent, and to receive absolution is truly freeing.  A little taste of God's Mercy.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Volnutt on August 12, 2011, 06:37:29 PM
I don't do these devotions but it was explained to me once: it's not magic (though regrettably too many treat it like that), but the idea is that if you commit to going to church and receiving the sacraments for that long, chances are you'll continue after the initial nine month period; which means you're more likely to keep going for the rest of your life and thus you'll be more likely to ask for the last sacraments when you're dying.

Sort of like an incentive ... dare I stay stimulus program? ;)
That makes sense. I suppose I get hung up on the description of them as promises, must be my Calvinist leanings showing again. I have an inherently hard time with synergism, I guess.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Nero on August 12, 2011, 08:25:41 PM
I have the same problem with Catholic devotions like the "First Five Saturdays", which I actually completed before beginning conversion to Orthodoxy and renouncing the Roman Catholic faith. My prayer book (complete with an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat from the Archbishop of Baltimore) says that I will receive "grace necessary for salvation" for completeing the devotion. Even then, it's completely likely that I misinterpreted the rules of the devotion...
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Benjamin the Red on August 12, 2011, 08:58:42 PM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprises when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and Hid faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.
I don't think it's wrong to trust in God's mercy. It just must be balanced with the understanding that we don't deserve salvation and that it is certainly possible to lose it. Remember, despair is as much of a sin as presumption.

I think this is spot on.

The pre-communion prayers of the Jordanville Prayer Book spell this out, I think. In the same prayer, we hear despair over the multitude of our sins and then several lines later the promises of eternal life in Christ by his great grace and loving-kindness. One line speaks of how we condemn ourselves not discerning the Body quoting St. Paul, and then the very next line quotes Christ's promise of He abiding in us and we in Him.

My answer, I think, is that...it's called a mystery for a reason!

EDIT: Quote Formatting.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: theistgal on August 12, 2011, 10:05:52 PM
I know a lot of Orthodox will laugh at this because I have since learned that it is not really an Eastern devotion AT ALL - but my first exposure to ANY Eastern Christian prayer was in the "Divine Mercy Chaplet" - because one of the prayers at the end is the "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal".

I had never come across it before till I encountered it in the chaplet, so when I first attended a Divine Liturgy and heard it being sung, I was delighted - it was like meeting an old friend!  :)

So even though she was not Orthodox, I wonder if St. Faustina (who came up with this devotion) ever attended a DL.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Volnutt on August 12, 2011, 10:16:18 PM
It's entirely possible. Her birthplace, Lodz, was actually in the Russian Empire at the time.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: theo philosopher on August 13, 2011, 12:18:12 AM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprised when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.

During the period I was a Calvinist I took more of a William Cowper approach and lamented my sins more than anything else. To date, I think I am the only Calvinist (well, Calvinist at the time, I'm certainly not now) who thought he wasn't predestined!

This is why I oddly find comfort in Eastern Orthodoxy, because rather than throwing myself at the Sovereignty of God and hoping that I was picked in the lotto (I know I'm misrepresenting Calvinism there), I can throw myself at His mercy.

Still, I do struggle letting go of the strict divide between justification and sanctification.
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: Volnutt on August 13, 2011, 12:33:35 AM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprised when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.

During the period I was a Calvinist I took more of a William Cowper approach and lamented my sins more than anything else. To date, I think I am the only Calvinist (well, Calvinist at the time, I'm certainly not now) who thought he wasn't predestined!
I was like that for a while. I told myself, "Oh well, I guess I'll just accept that my existence is only to be an eternal object of God's wrath.

This is why I oddly find comfort in Eastern Orthodoxy, because rather than throwing myself at the Sovereignty of God and hoping that I was picked in the lotto (I know I'm misrepresenting Calvinism there),
Honestly, I don't think it is. They tell themselves there's more too it, but once they commit themselves to a completely rationalistic view of God their meticulous logic becomes the rope they hang on.

I can throw myself at His mercy.
:) +1

Still, I do struggle letting go of the strict divide between justification and sanctification.
Me too, though I'm becoming more and more convinced that if they aren't the same, then ultimately one inescapably winds up in Zane Hodgesland. I think Martin Lloyd-Jones said more than he knew when he quipped, "If we aren't accused of antinomianism, we haven't preached the gospel properly."
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: akimel on August 13, 2011, 09:50:54 AM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprised when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.

You are not alone.  I'm know I have my own convert baggage to overcome, but I do not believe that I am somehow to get over my faith (as weak as it often is) in God's infinite mercy and absolute fidelity.  This, for me, is rock bottom gospel. 
Title: Re: Is this "Eternal Security?"
Post by: elijahmaria on August 13, 2011, 10:46:32 AM
On a related note, I still have a hard time "getting over" the belief that I am secure with God, and that He would really throw me into Hell because of my sins. Many of the devotions in Orthodoxy seem to act like we should operate under the assumption that we are condemned because of our sinfulness, and be somehow surprised when we are saved. I honestly can't do this. I feel guilt and contrition over sin, but I always feel secure in our Lord and His faithfulness despite my unfaithfulness. It must be residual Southern Baptist or Calvinist doctrine, but I don't feel that bad about it.

You are not alone.  I'm know I have my own convert baggage to overcome, but I do not believe that I am somehow to get over my faith (as weak as it often is) in God's infinite mercy and absolute fidelity.  This, for me, is rock bottom gospel. 

This is the perspective of St. Theresa of Lisieux and the reason that she was made a Doctor of the Church.  The cautionary side of that is that one must remember that Jesus often asked something of those whom he healed or was about to heal...that something was the cessation of disobedience, ingratitude and pride, substituting for those things true humility and compunction and prudence and obedience.  The active spiritual exercises of many Catholic [Orthodox and papal] spiritualities are not much more than the exercise of the virtues in lieu of the vices...with the absolute certitude that God provides.