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Doubting Thomas
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« on: November 25, 2003, 09:39:49 PM »

It is alleged by some Protestants* that Orthodoxy basically "ignores" justification in the scheme of salvation.  I know that Orthodoxy puts much emphasis on theosis, or deification.  What does the Orthodox Church teach about justification, and what role if any does it play in theosis?

(*I read this accusation in an Evangelical pamphlet describing how one can "witness" to Eastern Orthodox Christians.  It was linked in another thread elsewhere on this forum, but I forgot where.)
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2003, 09:43:32 PM »

Here's something I found on the St. Herman of Alaska site:

Justification by Faith Alone: An Orthodox Perspective
by Brian Lehr

Webmaster's note: The following letter is a response to a good friend of mine, a Protestant Pastor, who had asked me a question about the Orthodox teaching on Justification by Faith Alone. I will refer to this friend as Peter.

Oct. 29, 1998

Dear Peter,

Several weeks ago we had a conversation on the phone which got me thinking. You had mentioned last year’s Christian History magazine which dealt with the subject of Eastern Orthodoxy. You said that one of the things that really bothered you in the magazine articles was a statement you read about justification by faith alone. I’m afraid I didn’t provide a very articulate answer to your question. I knew the Church strongly believed in salvation (or else I wouldn’t become a part of it), but it had been over a year or so since I looked into this particular subject, and thus was not able to provide you with an adequate explanation as to what the Orthodox Church teaches about this doctrine. So I decided to go dig out the books again, and refresh my own memory on this particular subject.

I’m afraid that as I get older, I find that I can more clearly place my thoughts on paper, rather than verbalize them in a telephone conversation. This is to my own detriment, as it does not allow for proper interaction. Nevertheless, after having restudied the material before me, I’ve decided to write my answer to you in this letter. I hope it helps answer your question regarding how the Orthodox Church understands salvation and justification by faith alone. I’ve also inclosed a booklet I wrote for those who were asking me "Why would a Pentecostal Pastor want to enter such a dead Church?" I hope it also serves to answer other questions that you’ve perhaps had.

After our conversation, I re-read the Christian History magazine. I wanted to find the exact place that you were referring to. After going through the magazine several times, the only place that I can find that referred to justification by faith alone in such a manner as might cause you concern is on page 35, where it says:

"The central issue raised by the Reformation was how a person could stand just before a holy God - How can I be saved? For traditional Protestants, the answer to this question is expressed in Paul’s doctrine of 'justification by faith alone...' It is fascinating to observe the total absence of the doctrine of justification by faith in large segments of Orthodox history and theology." The author of this article was Daniel Clendenin, an Evangelical professor of Christian studies at Moscow State University. The article was excerpted from Clendenin’s book, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective, of which I have a copy. I’ll be referring to him a little later.

First of all, I want to start by saying that the Orthodox Church most definitely does NOT believe in a salvation by works. Salvation is wholly and completely an act of Grace by God. It is received by man through faith. Fr. Anthony Coniaris, in his book, An Introduction to the Orthodox Church, reminds us that our works are not meritorious in God’s sight:

"Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, 'For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.' This verse seems to contradict the one just before it: 'For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works lest any man should boast;' (Ephesians 2:8-9). One verse says: 'You have been saved...not because of works,' and the next says: 'Created in Christ Jesus for good works.' Far from contradicting each other, these verses give us the Orthodox Christian position concerning good works. Good works do not produce salvation, but salvation produces good works. We are not saved because of good works, but we are saved for good works."

That being said, we both know that no doctrine can be fully summarized in such a short paragraph. This is especially true in regards to soteriology, for many other doctrines are by necessity brought into the picture (ie: the spiritual state of fallen man; water baptism; the purpose of the sacraments; theosis; etc). But let me expand on two issues in particular: the role of faith vs. works, and justification by faith alone.

In the Orthodox Church, the issue of Faith vs. Works was never an issue as it was in Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The Eastern Church has always understood salvation to be a doctrine of synergy - God in His sovereignty does His part; man is responsible to do his: "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling...for it is God who is at work within you..." This is really no different than you and I have always preached as Protestants. We recognize that it is not enough just to begin the Christian life (wherever that beginning might be - either at baptism for the Orthodox, or a public profession of faith for the Protestant), but we must continue on in the faith - "He who perseveres to the end shall be saved."

In light of this, consider also this prayer, said every morning by Orthodox Christians around the world:

O my plenteously-merciful and all-merciful God, Lord Jesus Christ, through Thy great love Thou didst come down and become incarnate so that Thou mightest save all. And again, O Saviour, save me by Thy grace, I pray Thee. For if Thou shouldst save me for my works, this would not be grace or a gift, but rather a duty; yea, Thou who art great in compassion and ineffable in mercy. "For he that believeth in me," Thou hast said, O my Christ, "shall live and never see death." If then, faith in Thee saveth the desperate, behold, I believe, save me, for Thou art my God and Creator. Let faith instead of works be imputed to me, O my God, for Thou wilt find no works which could justify me. But may my faith suffice instead of all works... But the prayer doesn’t stop there. It goes on to show that our faith is not to be separated from works:

Vouchsafe me, O Lord, to love Thee now as fervently as I once loved sin itself, and also to work for Thee without idleness, diligently, as I worked before for deceptive Satan. But supremely shall I work for Thee, my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, all the days of my life, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

St. Polycarp (69-156 AD), personal companion and disciple of the apostle John, puts it this way in his Letter to the Philippians (chap. 2): "He who raised Him up from the dead will also raise us up - if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness."

So, if you were to ask an Orthodox Christian if he is saved by his works, he will say “Absolutely not!” But if you ask him if works has any part to play in his eternal salvation, he would quickly say "Absolutely!" If you were to ask him if he is saved by faith, he would respond "Absolutely!" But if you asked if he were saved by faith alone, his response would be "Absolutely not!"

How can this be? How does it all work out together? To answer such questions is to delve into mysteries of the faith that God has not chosen to clearly reveal to us (Deut. 29:29). You see, the Orthodox Church is not bent on dissecting and categorizing every doctrine in a Western, intellectual manner, but is content with leaving such details with God (as they do with the doctrine of the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, etc). To our rationalistic mindset, this may seem like a copout, but when an Apostle (Paul) appeals to Abraham as a classic example how "faith" saved him (Romans 4), and the Lord’s brother (James) appeals to Abraham as a classic example of how "faith without works" didn’t save him, then the Church is satisfied to say both are correct, and leave it as a mystery.

What the Church will say, however, is that while we are saved by faith, we are not saved by faith alone. In the 2000 year history of the Church, this was a teaching which only took hold less than 500 years ago in Germany. When Martin Luther began translating the Bible into German, he took the opportunity to add and delete some key words, in order to bolster his relatively new teachings in this area. Frank Schaeffer points out in his book, Dancing Alone, that Luther added the word "only" to key Biblical passages in which he revised such sentences as: "you are saved only by faith," or "you are saved by faith alone." Since Luther could then "prove" his teachings on sola fide from his new German translation of the Bible, many people eagerly accepted these teachings as Biblical!

Schaeffer writes:

"In 1529, Dr. Link, the pre-eminent German language scholar of the day, wrote to Luther asking him why he had been inserting words into the German Bible. Luther’s astonishing written answer nicely sums up the heart of the Protestant problem of individualistic subjectivity, 'It is so because Dr. Martin Luther says it is so!'"
If the truth be told, however, there is one place (and only one!) where the words "faith" and "alone" appear together - the Epistle of St. James, which states: "See how a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24). Here we find James emphasizing the Orthodox doctrine of "Synergy": "Do you see that faith was working together [synergei] with his works, and by works faith was made perfect [or completed]" (James 2:22).

In short, the Orthodox Church strongly affirms a doctrine of salvation as follows: we are saved by grace through faith - but not by faith alone (James 2:24).

So why, then, do the Orthodox not have a clearly defined doctrine of Justification, as Clendenin points out in the Christian History quote which was the catalyst for this letter? Simply put, it is because the Orthodox Church sees justification and sanctification as one divine actionGǪone continuous process, instead of seeing them broken down into parts and pieces. They see the bigger picture of salvation as encompassing all of life, and not just as an event that happened at a certain time in the individual’s past. Does this mean that the Orthodox Church does not believe in justification by faith? No, it just means that they did not chose that aspect of the salvation process (or any other single aspect) to focus in on, as did the Protestant Reformers.

In fact, Clendenin clearly points this out in his book, although it was not made clear in the article to which we are referring:

"We can say, then, that in addition to theosis Eastern theologians affirm any number of biblical metaphors for salvation, including juridical ones. They acknowledge that the work of Christ cannot be reduced to any single metaphor. Thus, while legal metaphors are truly Pauline and should be affirmed, they should not be allowed to dominate, but should be 'relocated' among the host of other biblical images" Clendenin, Daniel, Eastern Orthodox Christianity:
A Western Perspective. Baker Books, 1994

In closing, while one may find it disconcerting to not see a major treatise or catechism dealing with such an important topic as justification, there are actually many such equally important doctrines not clearly defined and categorized to the Westerner’s satisfaction. Perhaps this is due to the two different mindsets that prevail between East and West. Western Christianity is busy dissecting the Faith - analyzing, scrutinizing, categorizing, taking it apart, trying to figure it out and somehow fit it all back together in a nice package that we can all understand. Eastern Christianity, however, is more concerned with living the Faith and participating in the ongoing life of the Church, daily working out our salvation with fear and trembling. In fact, Clendenin points out that, unlike the Western confessions - whether Roman Catholic or Protestant - one will not discover the essence of Orthodoxy in any dogmatic works or systematic treatises:

"Except for the monumentally important work Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (De fide orthodoxa) by John of Damascus (675-754), almost no Eastern theologians have written what we in the West have come to know as systematic theologies. In Eastern theology we find nothing at all that would compare with Aquinas’s Summa theologica, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, or Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics" Clendenin, p. 53

I hope this helps answer your original questions to me as to how the Orthodox Church views salvation, and how they understand justification by faith. As in any multifaceted diamond, there is much, much more to be said about this subject, but which were beyond the scope of this letter. Perhaps when we next get together for a visit, we’ll have the opportunity to discuss some of them. If I find that I don’t know an answer for you, that’s ok - I’ll just go home and write you another article! :-)

Love in Christ,
Brian Lehr




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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2003, 10:09:31 PM »

And now from a Lutheran site saying that EO "just don't get it"

Can the Eastern Orthodox position on Theosis be confused with the Lutheran terms for sanctification? From what I understand about Theosis is that man should not count the race won (I guess this is a position of humility) and strives for perfection. I also understand that the Orthodox view St. Ambrose as legit, that is, faith without the works saves. Could terms be misused for actual lines of agreement?

In Eastern Orthodox teaching theosis or divinization is a process by which human beings achieve the union with God that was lost in the fall into sin, a process whereby human beings become participants in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The Orthodox do not think of theosis in terms of pantheism, however. Rather it is the process by which human beings are restored to the likeness of God. “As we cooperate with God's grace, he renews the distorted image in us so that we attain the likeness and consequently become godlike.” (Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective. p.134, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994)

The Eastern Orthodox reject the Lutheran teaching of justification by faith alone and in reality confuse the scriptural doctrines of justification and sanctification. The disagreement between Easter Orthodoxy and Lutheranism is more than an argument about terms. The Eastern Orthodox have no understanding of total depravity, that human beings are born dead in trespasses and sins, unable to cooperate with God in conversion. In fact the Eastern Orthodox are strong proponents of synergism. They believe that a sinful human being can and must cooperate with God in every stage of the "process" of salvation.

Lutherans teach that human beings cannot cooperate in conversion or justification. Our salvation is attributable only to what God has done for us. Justification is always full and complete. Our salvation is sure and certain through faith in Jesus. Sanctification is a process in which the Holy Spirit makes us more God-like and leads us to produce good works in our lives. Good works have nothing to do with saving us (Ephesians 2:8-9). They show that we have been saved by God's grace alone. They show that we are new creatures of God created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Good works are our response of thanks to the God that has done everything for us. Sanctification in this life will always be incomplete because we will retain a sinful nature until the day we die. In sanctification our new man (the faith or new life which the Holy Spirit has created in us) does cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Yet even in sanctification we recognize that "it is God who works in you both to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13).

Because the Eastern Orthodox do not understand justification by faith alone they cannot understand the passages of Scripture which talk about sanctification and the restoration of the likeness of God in us.

http://www.wels.net/sab/qa/rel-orthodox-01.html

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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2003, 11:31:15 PM »

Tom,
Thanks for the info.  I too had been taught to neatly differentiate justification from sanctification (and from glorification, for that matter) and was puzzled that when reading about Orthodox Theology I saw no apparent distinction between the two.
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2003, 11:52:41 PM »

It's not that we don't understand it, but rather that we reject it.  If mankind cannot cooperate with God at all there would be no Incarnation.  

The Lutheran concept of Justification by Faith seems to be the way they have dealt with the problems that an Augustinian view of The Fall introduces.  To find any sort of concord one must go back to the root.  The root of this issue is not justification, but the event that required justification.
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« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2003, 01:00:48 AM »

DT -

If you want a pretty comprehensive treatment of how the early Church threaded her way between the extremes of Pelagianism on the one hand and the determinism implicit in Augustinism on the other, read Chapter 6, "Nature and Grace," of Volume 1 - The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) - of Jaroslav Pelikan's The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine.

Way back in the 5th century the Church dealt with the whole mess that - unfettered - would ultimately lead to the kind of bogus ideas cooked up by Luther and Calvin.

Sts. John Cassian, Faustus of Riez, and Vincent of Lerins refuted St. Augustine's double predestinarianism a long time ago.
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2003, 03:20:54 AM »

It's not that we don't understand it, but rather that we reject it.  If mankind cannot cooperate with God at all there would be no Incarnation.  

The Lutheran concept of Justification by Faith seems to be the way they have dealt with the problems that an Augustinian view of The Fall introduces.  To find any sort of concord one must go back to the root.  The root of this issue is not justification, but the event that required justification.  

[rant]Sorry to pick on you, but considering that the Orthodox Church considers Augustine a Saint (Blessed Augustine), I hate it when anyone says "the Augustinian View" of whatever.  Many of us Orthodox have just gotten into the mentality of throwing his name around to blame (probably without realizing) when it was the later, Western minds (Aquinas, etc.) who we should point to.  Augustine didn't have incorrect theology - just over/underemphasis that was further falsely extrapolated on.  Again, everyone should read The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church by Fr. Seraphim Rose.[/rant]

I should probably just buzz anyone who does this from now on. Grin
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2003, 10:15:04 AM »

It's not that we don't understand it, but rather that we reject it.  If mankind cannot cooperate with God at all there would be no Incarnation.  

The Lutheran concept of Justification by Faith seems to be the way they have dealt with the problems that an Augustinian view of The Fall introduces.  To find any sort of concord one must go back to the root.  The root of this issue is not justification, but the event that required justification.  

[rant]Sorry to pick on you, but considering that the Orthodox Church considers Augustine a Saint (Blessed Augustine), I hate it when anyone says "the Augustinian View" of whatever.  Many of us Orthodox have just gotten into the mentality of throwing his name around to blame (probably without realizing) when it was the later, Western minds (Aquinas, etc.) who we should point to.  Augustine didn't have incorrect theology - just over/underemphasis that was further falsely extrapolated on.  Again, everyone should read The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church by Fr. Seraphim Rose.[/rant]

I should probably just buzz anyone who does this from now on. Grin

I agree with you that Augustine was a great saint, a brilliant man, and a tremendous influence in the Church. Most of his influence was for good but, unhappily, not all of it.

His ideas on the absolute sovereignty of God were too one-sided and easily led to the kind of fatalistic determinism we see carried to extremes by Luther and Calvin, for whom St. Augustine was the Church Father.

He was also apparently the inventor of the whole filioque idea.

St. Augustine was truly a great saint, especially when he stuck with the Deposit of Faith. It was his speculations about the eternal decrees of the Father and the internal relationships of the Persons of the Trinity that have caused some difficulties.

Of course, St. Augustine is not to blame for the fact that heretics have used his writings to buttress their own errors.

What they have done is a warning to us all that it is the consensus of the Fathers that is part of tradition, not merely the isolated opinions of any one of them.
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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2003, 10:17:49 AM »

Linus,
Thanks for the references.  I believe Pelikan's book is already on my "wish list" for Christmas.  

Regarding Augustine:
From what I've read, Augustine's views concerning predestination/free will changed over time.  That's why one can find quotes from different time periods which seem to support opposite ends of that debate.  It seems that certain Reformers picked up on some of his ideas to the exclusion of others, taking them not only out of the context of his entire body of work, but also out of context of the rest of the church fathers.   I've read in more than one place that the conflict between Rome and the  Reformers was the "conflict" between Augustinian ecclessiology and Augustinian soteriology. I'm sure there may be some truth in that, if one limits the "soteriology" in question to Augustine's view on double predestination.
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2003, 10:27:41 AM »

Linus,
Thanks for the references.  I believe Pelikan's book is already on my "wish list" for Christmas.  

Regarding Augustine:
From what I've read, Augustine's views concerning predestination/free will changed over time.  That's why one can find quotes from different time periods which seem to support opposite ends of that debate.  It seems that certain Reformers picked up on some of his ideas to the exclusion of others, taking them not only out of the context of his entire body of work, but also out of context of the rest of the church fathers.   I've read in more than one place that the conflict between Rome and the  Reformers was the "conflict" between Augustinian ecclessiology and Augustinian soteriology. I'm sure there may be some truth in that, if one limits the "soteriology" in question to Augustine's view on double predestination.

I've heard the same thing, and I know from reading Pelikan that St. Augustine was refuted by Sts. John Cassian, Faustus of Riez, and Vincent of Lerins. I read somewhere that he was rebuked over predestination by St. Ambrose, but I cannot recall where I read that.

I must admit I have not read all that St. Augustine wrote, which would be quite an undertaking!

My understanding of predestination is that it is based on God's foreknowledge of who would respond in faith to the Gospel and that all who are of the Elect are predestined to salvation in Christ. That means that the truly Predestined One is Christ, that He is the One chosen from before the foundation of the world, and that we become chosen only in Him. In other words, of ourselves we are not predestined (in the absolute, unconditional sense) to zip; we are predestined only by faith in Christ, who alone is the Predestined One.

Does the way I have explained that make sense?
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2003, 10:36:07 AM »

I am wondering if western thought especially as it has been applied to justification doesnt smack of "entitlement" more than the eastern orthodox thought. Justification by faith entitles one to think, and also promotes the view of a security that is nonexistant in the orthodox view. Entitlement certainly is a message that has proliferated western culture especially in the american lifestyle.

Does this make sense?

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« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2003, 10:41:38 AM »

And now from a Lutheran site saying that EO "just don't get it"

Lutherans teach that human beings cannot cooperate in conversion or justification. Our salvation is attributable only to what God has done for us.

Well, I'm not EO, but I don't get it either.  If human beings cannot cooperate in conversion or justification, then how does anyone get saved?  Professing one's faith in Christ, receiving baptism, etc., are all ways of cooperating with God in conversion or justification, I would think.  If humans cannot possibly cooperate in this process, then what use is baptism or professing one's faith in Christ?  You'd have to wait until God knocked on your door and told you "Hey, buddy, I saved you a few hours ago, FYI".  But He doesn't do that.  So how would you ever know?  How could there ever even be conversion or justification?
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« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2003, 10:47:10 AM »

And now from a Lutheran site saying that EO "just don't get it"

Lutherans teach that human beings cannot cooperate in conversion or justification. Our salvation is attributable only to what God has done for us.

Well, I'm not EO, but I don't get it either.  If human beings cannot cooperate in conversion or justification, then how does anyone get saved?  Professing one's faith in Christ, receiving baptism, etc., are all ways of cooperating with God in conversion or justification, I would think.  If humans cannot possibly cooperate in this process, then what use is baptism or professing one's faith in Christ?  You'd have to wait until God knocked on your door and told you "Hey, buddy, I saved you a few hours ago, FYI".  But He doesn't do that.  So how would you ever know?  How could there ever even be conversion or justification?

I can tell you were never a Protestant, Mor!  Grin

Ever heard of Irresistible Grace? Total Depravity?

God does it all for you; at least according to Luther and Calvin.

Those for whom He does not do it are the Reprobate, pre-doomed from before the foundation of the world.



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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2003, 10:53:23 AM »

But that's almost as dumb as Mormonism as described by South Park!  Even Adam resisted God's Grace, and he was in better shape than most of us to not do that.  I've heard of irresistible grace and total depravity, but if the implications of those teachings include the notion that man is a mindless robot who has to wait on God to install Salvation.exe for him, then it's more blatantly heretodox than I'd ever imagined (I knew it was heterodox anyway).  How do you account for free will in such a system?  Isn't this view of salvation more like divine possession?
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« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2003, 10:57:23 AM »

My understanding of predestination is that it is based on God's foreknowledge of who would respond in faith to the Gospel and that all who are of the Elect are predestined to salvation in Christ. That means that the truly Predestined One is Christ, that He is the One chosen from before the foundation of the world, and that we become chosen only in Him. In other words, of ourselves we are not predestined (in the absolute, unconditional sense) to zip; we are predestined only by faith in Christ, who alone is the Predestined One.

Does the way I have explained that make sense?

That's basically my understanding as well.  Also in 1 Peter 1:2 it says the readers are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father".  This would indicate the God's "foreknowledge" is logically prior to our election.  A similar indication of this is in Romans 8:29: "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son".
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« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2003, 11:03:00 AM »

But that's almost as dumb as Mormonism as described by South Park!  Even Adam resisted God's Grace, and he was in better shape than most of us to not do that.  I've heard of irresistible grace and total depravity, but if the implications of those teachings include the notion that man is a mindless robot who has to wait on God to install Salvation.exe for him, then it's more blatantly heretodox than I'd ever imagined (I knew it was heterodox anyway).  How do you account for free will in such a system?  Isn't this view of salvation more like divine possession?    

The sad thing, Phil, is that is basically what Calvinists (particulary more extreme ones) believe.  They say that man's free will was lost as a result of the Fall, and that the only one with free will is God who "does as He pleases".  He damns most (leaves them in their "reprobate" state) while saving some (against their wills apparently) according to his "good pleasure".  Calvinists will then go through all sorts of verbal gymnastics to explain why their ideaology really isn't fatalism.
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« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2003, 11:15:44 AM »

That really is sad...what a dark world such must live in.
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« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2003, 11:35:05 AM »

That really is sad...what a dark world such must live in.  

The thing is, most modern Calvinists don't consider the world they live in to be "dark".  Afterall, they believe they are part of the "elect" and are just as thankful as they can be that God "chose" them.  They, don't however, seem to be particulary sympathetic towards the plight of the "reprobate".

Now, more old-school Calvinists spent more time worrying if they were really part of the "elect".  I'm sure their lives were a little more dreary than their modern day counterparts.
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« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2003, 11:49:42 AM »

But shouldn't the modern Calvinists think that they're self assurance of their salvation is arrogant pride?  That thought, if entertained seriously enough, should throw them back into old school Calvinism.  If I believed Calvinism, I'd probably kill myself over worry, and I wouldn't mind such a thing: if it's all predestined anyway, what is the point?
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« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2003, 12:04:33 PM »

But shouldn't the modern Calvinists think that they're self assurance of their salvation is arrogant pride?  That thought, if entertained seriously enough, should throw them back into old school Calvinism.  If I believed Calvinism, I'd probably kill myself over worry, and I wouldn't mind such a thing: if it's all predestined anyway, what is the point?

Seems to me that the Calvinist doctrine of justification is not too different from the 144,000 elect of the Jehovah's Witness doctine, all pre-determined without consideration of free will, of course.  And of course, which JW in his heretical "right mind" would not consider himself in the count of the 144,000 elect?

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« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2003, 12:05:46 PM »

But shouldn't the modern Calvinists think that they're self assurance of their salvation is arrogant pride?  That thought, if entertained seriously enough, should throw them back into old school Calvinism.  If I believed Calvinism, I'd probably kill myself over worry, and I wouldn't mind such a thing: if it's all predestined anyway, what is the point?

Well, not necessarily, for you see, it's all of God and not of the individual--there is no room for pride.  They would claim that Arminians and other advocates of synergism are "prideful" if they think they could possibly have anything to do with their own salvation.  The fact that they have faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross is proof enough to these Calvinists that they are part of the elect since it is God who bestows this faith.  Now, more scholarly Calvinists who are well versed in Calvin's Institutes realize there is such a thing as a false faith which is not salvific.  These are the ones who may wring their hands with worry about whether their election is "sure".
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« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2003, 12:37:59 PM »

In the beginning there was the computer. And God said
%Let there be light!
#Enter user id.
%God
#Enter password.
%Omniscient
#Password incorrect. Try again.
%Omnipotent
#Password incorrect. Try again.
%Technocrat
#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Sunday, March 1.
%Let there be light!
#Unrecognizable command. Try again.
%Create light
#Done
%Run heaven and earth
#And God created Day and Night. And God saw there were 0 errors.
#And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Sunday, March 1.
#Approx. funds remaining: $92.50.
#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Monday, March 2.
%Let there be firmament in the midst of water and light
#Unrecognizable command. Try again.
%Create firmament
#Done.
%Run firmament
#And God divided the waters. And God saw there were 0 errors.
#And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Monday, March 2.
#Approx. funds remaining: $84.60.
#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Tuesday, March 3.
%Let the waters under heaven be gathered together unto one place and let
the dry land appear and
#Too many characters in specification string. Try again.
%Create dry_land
#Done.
%Run firmament
#And God divided the waters. And God saw there were 0 errors.
#And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Tuesday, March 3.
#Approx. funds remaining: $65.00.
#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Wednesday, March 4.
%Create lights in the firmament to divide the day from the night
#Unspecified type. Try again.
%Create sun_moon_stars
#Done
%Run sun_moon_stars
#And God created the heavens. And God saw there were 0 errors.
#And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Wednesday, March 4.
#Approx. funds remaining: $54.00.
#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Thursday, March 5.
%Create fish
#Done
%Create fowl
#Done
%Run fish, fowl
#And God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that
creepeth wherewith the waters swarmed after its kind and every winged
fowl
after its kind. And God saw there were 0 errors.
#And God logged off at 12:02:00 AM, Thursday, March 5.
#Approx. funds remaining: $45.00.
#And God logged on at 12:01:00 AM, Friday, March 6.
%Create cattle
#Done
%Create creepy_things
#Done
%Now let us make man in our image
#Unspecified type. Try again.
%Create man
#Done
%Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have
dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over
every living thing that creepeth upon the earth
#Too many command operands. Try again.
%Run multiplication
#Execution terminated. 6 errors.
%Insert breath
#Done
%Run multiplication
#Execution terminated. 5 errors.
%Move man to Garden of Eden
#File Garden of Eden does not exist.
%Create Garden.edn
#Done
%Move man to Garden.edn
#Done
%Run multiplication
#Execution terminated. 4 errors..
%Copy woman from man
#Done
%Run multiplication
#Execution terminated. 3 errors.
%Insert woman into man
#Illegal parameters. Try again.
%Insert man into woman
#Done
%Run multiplication
#Execution terminated. 2 errors.
%Create desire
#Done
%Run multiplication
#And God saw man and woman being fruitful and multiplying in Garden.edn
#Warning: No time limit on this run. 1 errors.
%Create freewill
#Done
%Run freewill
#And God saw man and woman being fruitful and multiplying in Garden.edn
#Warning: No time limit on this run. 1 errors.
%Undo desire
#Desire cannot be undone once freewill is created.
%Destroy freewill
#Freewill is an inaccessible file and cannot be destroyed.
#Enter replacement, cancel, or ask for help.
%Help
#Desire cannot be undone once freewill is created.
#Freewill is an inaccessible file and cannot be destroyed.
#Enter replacement, cancel, or ask for help.
%Create tree_of_knowledge
#And God saw man and woman being fruitful and multiplying in Garden.edn
#Warning: No time limit on this run. 1 errors.
%Create good, evil
#Done
%Activate evil
#And God saw he had created shame.
#Warning system error in sector E95. Man and woman not in Garden.edn.
#1 errors.
%Scan Garden.edn for man, woman
#Search failed.
%Delete shame
#Shame cannot be deleted once evil has been activated.
%Destroy freewill
#Freewill is an inaccessible file and cannot be destroyed.
#Enter replacement, cancel, or ask for help.
%Stop
#Unrecognizable command. Try again
%Break
%Break
%Break
#ATTENTION ALL USERS *** ATTENTION ALL USERS: COMPUTER GOING DOWN FOR
REGULAR DAY OF
MAINTENANCE AND REST IN FIVE MINUTES. PLEASE LOG OFF.
%Create new world
#You have exceeded your allocated file space. You must destroy old files
before new ones can be created.
%Destroy earth
#Destroy earth: Please confirm.
%Destroy earth confirmed
#COMPUTER DOWN *** COMPUTER DOWN. SERVICES WILL RESUME SUNDAY, MARCH 8
AT 6:00 AM.
YOU MUST SIGN OFF NOW.
#And God logged off at 11:59:59 PM, Friday, March 6.
#Approx. funds remaining: $0.00.

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« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2003, 03:20:49 PM »

This is a good topic.  I have run into this discussion myself with some Protestants.  I would be interesting to know how Calvin and others of this mind set respond to the Epistle of St. James , especially Chapter 2.  It is clear that good works do not produce salvation, but salvation produces good works and that faith without good works is an empty faith.  

In some of my discussions, it is almost as if they never read the Epistle of St. James.
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« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2003, 03:36:33 PM »

This is a good topic.  I have run into this discussion myself with some Protestants.  I would be interesting to know how Calvin and others of this mind set respond to the Epistle of St. James , especially Chapter 2.  It is clear that good works do not produce salvation, but salvation produces good works and that faith without good works is an empty faith.  

In some of my discussions, it is almost as if they never read the Epistle of St. James.

I'm not sure about Calvin, but apparently Luther said James was "an epistle of straw".  I've read that he initially wanted James and a handful of other books relegated to "apocrypha"-type status but was talked out of it by colleagues.
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« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2003, 12:08:46 AM »

Evangelical Protestants usually say that saving faith automatically produces good works. That is how you tell if you have it and how you tell if others have it. That's what they claim St. James was talking about in James 2.

Their explanation, of course, does not make sense.

Why all the admonitions to moral conduct in the Bible, if good works proceed automatically from saving faith?

Why didn't our Lord and His Prophets and Apostles just counsel us, "Don't sweat it. If you have real faith you will do good works" ?

Why did our Lord Jesus, for example, tell us we will not be forgiven our sins if we do not forgive those who sin against us (Matt. 6:14-15) ?

One of the most despicable things about Calvinism in particular is its doctrines that God does not love all people and that Christ did not die for everyone.

This latter is called Limited Atonement. According to it, our Lord Jesus died only for His Elect, not all of mankind.

That is one of the many reasons why Calvinism is a horrible heresy, maybe the worst there is.
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« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2003, 10:11:28 AM »

Linus7,

Good points.

I agree Calvanism is a horrible heresy.  In some respects it ranks up with Arianism.  I consider Arianism a little more horrible overall.  

But believing the God does not love all is a very disturbing belief to be sure.
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« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2003, 12:32:11 PM »

Linus7,

Good points.

I agree Calvanism is a horrible heresy.  In some respects it ranks up with Arianism.  I consider Arianism a little more horrible overall.  

But believing the God does not love all is a very disturbing belief to be sure.

I agree that Arianism is bad because it makes of our Lord and Savior a creature, but certainly Calvinism is just as bad, if not worse, because it makes of the Holy Trinity a capricious monster.

St. John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote, "God is love" (1 John 4:Cool.

Calvin, inspired by ?, essentially said that God is power without restraint.
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« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2003, 02:30:14 PM »


Calvin, inspired by ?, essentially said that God is power without restraint.

Good point.  It is a very disturbing theological view.
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« Reply #28 on: December 01, 2003, 11:53:40 AM »

Evangelical Protestants usually say that saving faith automatically produces good works. That is how you tell if you have it and how you tell if others have it. That's what they claim St. James was talking about in James 2.

Their explanation, of course, does not make sense.

Why all the admonitions to moral conduct in the Bible, if good works proceed automatically from saving faith?

Why didn't our Lord and His Prophets and Apostles just counsel us, "Don't sweat it. If you have real faith you will do good works" ?

Good points.  That shows monergism can't be reconciled with the totatility of Scripture.

Quote
One of the most despicable things about Calvinism in particular is its doctrines that God does not love all people and that Christ did not die for everyone.

This latter is called Limited Atonement. According to it, our Lord Jesus died only for His Elect, not all of mankind.

That is one of the many reasons why Calvinism is a horrible heresy, maybe the worst there is.

I agree, which is one of the reasons why I have a hard time remaining a "Baptist".  There seems to be a growing Calvinist movement in the SBC and no one seems to be rebuking its proponents.

BTW---Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.  Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: December 01, 2003, 11:18:13 PM »

Quote
Doubting Thomas: I agree, which is one of the reasons why I have a hard time remaining a "Baptist".  There seems to be a growing Calvinist movement in the SBC and no one seems to be rebuking its proponents.

BTW---Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.

Although baptized Lutheran originally, I became a Southern Baptist as a teenager.

When I was about 19 I became enamored with Calvinism and wound up in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (very little Orthodox about it, really).

Anyway, when I was headed down the wrong road, a good friend of mine (who, last I heard, was a Baptist minister in Southern Califormia) cut right to the chase and remarked with horror, "But, if you believe that, you have to come to the conclusion that God doesn't love everybody!"

I ignored him at the time, but he was right.

And I would have been better off had I listened to him.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2003, 11:21:23 PM by Linus7 » Logged

The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers.
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