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Author Topic: Concerning Original Sin  (Read 13970 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #45 on: December 22, 2006, 07:00:59 PM »

What you criticize as 'judaizing' one might suggest is simply 'clarity'. It was not in their observance of the Law which our Lord and Saviour criticized the Pharisees but their hypocracy in their personal actions void of the 'charity' which the Law was meant to inspire.

That was Arius' defence as well (whose main purpose for his theology was to defend the Church against Sabellianism), it is fortunate for Augustine that he fared better.

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By definition, our unfallen nature 'is' a nature in communion with God which by definition, asserts the presence of sanctifying grace from God. Sanctification (i.e. Deification) will only be completed at the resurrection where we will 'see face to face what we only see dimly now'. I might get the impression from your post that you are confusing Complete Sanctification (i.e. Deification) with the restoration of our unfallen state (redemption).

I don't believe so, I think our chronology of justification and sanctification differs. You are suggesting that one is redeemed or justified and then afterwards may reach towards sancitification. I would say that until one is sanctified they cannot be justified. All mankind was redeemed at the cross and there is nothing more we need to do for that redemption, but much must be done before we can be justified before God, we must still first overcome personal sin. And as an interesting theological note, it was when our Lady achieved sanctification through her own acts, even in the context of an unredeemed humanity (meaning a break in the communion between humanity as a whole and God, personal relationships with God were still possible, as is seen with the Righteous of the Old Testament), that God gave her Justification in the form of the Christ child, and thus through her all the world was redeemed (the breach in our corporate relationship with God was repaired)

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Correct me if I am wrong but you appear to discard the role that relationship had on our nature and will as well as on that of the mundane world. The restoration of that relationship is redemptive not merely on our will but upon our nature and upon the mundane world was well. Do you reject our likeness with God as a true and real potentiality of 'full communion' with the Divine Nature? Do you reject that this potentiality is more that merely relational?

The relationship effects them in every observable way, but does not change their essence. Our nature after the fall is the same as our nature before the fall, what changed is how we, and God, interacted with said nature. Of course, with the Crucifixion and Resurrection this relationship was repaired.
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« Reply #46 on: December 22, 2006, 08:26:04 PM »

So, I am supposing, that at the bare minimum you would object to what we in the West see as a fallen human nature, wounded by original sin?  Your position would be that man is the same before and after the fall, is that right?

That man, in and of himself, is the same before and after the fall...but in his relationship to God and through that relationship in his relationship to other men, there is a change.

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But, and this is just a curiosity, in the context of how you view things what would you make of this statement from the CCC:

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Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

Concerning the part you bolded, provided it is understood that there was no ontological change to the essence of the nature, and that the corruption only has to do with the relationship of the nature to God, then I see how it could be interpreted in an acceptable manner, though if this is the intent the language is rather sloppy. However, further down it says that Baptism erases 'original sin,' this I do take issue with, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ removed the curse of the Fall, to say otherwise is to teach that the Sacrifice of Christ was without effect. I would argue that Baptism is for the erasing of personal sin (both past and future).

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I find this very interesting as you make a statement that we in the West, at least I think we in the West, would be very hesitant to make.  That is "it had no effect on humans as independent entities..."   I don't think we could ever really try to imagine man as "independent entities" as we are wholly dependent on God.

I am aware that the statement is somewhat sloppy, but I was trying to convey an idea and I did not know whether or not my referring to the 'essence or ontological elements of the nature' would have accomplished that goal. Of course the relation of our nature to God is as essential as the essence of our Nature, both of which have a profound impact on who we are and what we do. But for the sake of theological discussion I believe it helpful (if not essential) to differentiate between the two.

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That is what salvation, I would say, consists primarily of, a restoration of the life of grace in man which returns us to our original nature as God intended, i.e. restores our relationship with God.  This seems to confirm what I am thinking and that by human nature you are meaning one thing, and we are meaning another.  What would you make of all of this?

I think we've started to work through some of the soteriological issues between our Churches, and I am optimistic that the official dialogue could work all the way through them, provided both sides are willing to show a bit of tolerance...which is why this issue has never been regarded as the most significant dividing us.
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« Reply #47 on: December 22, 2006, 08:58:20 PM »

Concerning the part you bolded, provided it is understood that there was no ontological change to the essence of the nature, and that the corruption only has to do with the relationship of the nature to God, then I see how it could be interpreted in an acceptable manner, though if this is the intent the language is rather sloppy.

No, I think the intent is to convey the truth of what original sin is.  It is a wounded nature in which we have lost sanctifying grace and are inclined to sin.  I only wish to show that by nature we in the West could  no sooner discuss our nature apart from God's grace than we could the Father without the Son and Holy Spirit.  For that reason, we seem to say nature not to describe some theoretical aspect of man apart from his relationship with God and God's grace.   I can't help but think that is an essential part of seeing the Western mind on this, and in the distinction, I think it may help me see the Eastern view.

I am also seeking to nail down just exactly how you are seeing the effects of the fall in our lives as well as how you view our definitions.  I am chiseling away at first one and then another just to get a full dimensional idea.  This began, recall, by my reading a book which defined the EO view of original sin in terms very like our own, and then contrasted these to some idea of original sin I had never heard of but was being called the Catholic one.  I am trying to discover the truth about what you believe, and think we believe.

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However, further down it says that Baptism erases 'original sin,' this I do take issue with, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ removed the curse of the Fall, to say otherwise is to teach that the Sacrifice of Christ was without effect. I would argue that Baptism is for the erasing of personal sin (both past and future).

But, we cannot separate the Cross and Baptism.  We know "we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life."  It is by Baptism that we live in Christ and so it certainly does nothing like teaching that the Sacrifice of Christ is without effect.  It simply makes clear that it is in Christ that we find life, and nowhere else.

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I am aware that the statement is somewhat sloppy, but I was trying to convey an idea and I did not know whether or not my referring to the 'essence or ontological elements of the nature' would have accomplished that goal. Of course the relation of our nature to God is as essential as the essence of our Nature, both of which have a profound impact on who we are and what we do. But for the sake of theological discussion I believe it helpful (if not essential) to differentiate between the two.

I am finding this very interesting as an exchange, and I must thank you for taking all this time to straighten out my understanding of your position.  But, I must ask you, what exactly is the point of such theological curiosities concerning the nature of man apart from God?  Why an insistence, such as that above, "that there was no ontological change to the essence of the nature, and that the corruption only has to do with the relationship of the nature to God?"  What does this acheive?  It sounds to me something like arguing over how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.  I really cannot imagine what is to be gained by insisting on beliefs that theoretically see us apart from God, and so wonder how essential such an insistence could be?

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I think we've started to work through some of the soteriological issues between our Churches, and I am optimistic that the official dialogue could work all the way through them, provided both sides are willing to show a bit of tolerance...which is why this issue has never been regarded as the most significant dividing us.

I do pray that our Church's can work things out for some good for all of us.  However, I of course am just trying to learn a little and see the East in a better and clearer way.  Unfortunately, I am never quite sure if I am hearing the Eastern approach, or just one Eastern approach.  I wonder if the fine men discussing this between our Churches struggle with that lack of confidence?  Considering that the thread opened because I was confused by Father Michael Pomazansky's statements, and he seems to disagree with you on this issue, I am still a bit in the dark.  But, at least I am getting a grip on where you come from, if not your people.  Wink

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« Reply #48 on: December 22, 2006, 10:21:53 PM »

No, I think the intent is to convey the truth of what original sin is.  It is a wounded nature in which we have lost sanctifying grace and are inclined to sin.  I only wish to show that by nature we in the West could  no sooner discuss our nature apart from God's grace than we could the Father without the Son and Holy Spirit.  For that reason, we seem to say nature not to describe some theoretical aspect of man apart from his relationship with God and God's grace.   I can't help but think that is an essential part of seeing the Western mind on this, and in the distinction, I think it may help me see the Eastern view.

But we do discuss the Father as Father and the Son as Son and the Holy Spirit as Holy Spirit...not that we say they are different Gods, but we differentiate for the purpose of theology. At least I presume you wouldn't insist that saying the Son is begotten of the Father is tantamount to saying the Father is begotten of the Father.

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But, we cannot separate the Cross and Baptism.  We know "we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life."  It is by Baptism that we live in Christ and so it certainly does nothing like teaching that the Sacrifice of Christ is without effect.  It simply makes clear that it is in Christ that we find life, and nowhere else.

Here we are going to disagree, but I will confess that there is disagreement in the Orthodox Church as to the exact effect and necessity of Baptism. On this matter, my belief in Apokatastasis obviously shapes my theology; I believe it is a good and consistant theology, and it was taught by several fathers of the Church, but it is not universally accepted. However, with that said, I see a real problem with making the effectiveness of the Divine Sacrifice on the Cross dependent on the human act of Baptism. As in one man all died, in one man all were made alive, it seems clear to me that the Cross eternally eliminated all that resulted from the fall and to say otherwise is to diminish the effect of Christ's resurrection...though I will admit there are those who would disagree with me (though their soteriology doesn't seem entirely consistant to me).

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I am finding this very interesting as an exchange, and I must thank you for taking all this time to straighten out my understanding of your position.  But, I must ask you, what exactly is the point of such theological curiosities concerning the nature of man apart from God?  Why an insistence, such as that above, "that there was no ontological change to the essence of the nature, and that the corruption only has to do with the relationship of the nature to God?"  What does this acheive?  It sounds to me something like arguing over how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.  I really cannot imagine what is to be gained by insisting on beliefs that theoretically see us apart from God, and so wonder how essential such an insistence could be?

I think it's quite important, it speaks to who we are and it assures us that we were always in the image and likeness of God, even in our most fallen state. It also speaks to the limitations of man, his inability to effect his own Ontology, and the absoluteness of God's power control in that realm. If we taught that humanity could fundamentally and ontologically alter something that was created by God we are ascribing to humanity divine capabilities that would make us gods. Issues of ontology and their dependency on God are essential to Christian theological thought.
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« Reply #49 on: December 22, 2006, 11:29:09 PM »

But we do discuss the Father as Father and the Son as Son and the Holy Spirit as Holy Spirit...not that we say they are different Gods, but we differentiate for the purpose of theology. At least I presume you wouldn't insist that saying the Son is begotten of the Father is tantamount to saying the Father is begotten of the Father.

I probably miscommunicated my idea in this.  Let me try to clear my own jumbled words up.  I think it would be clearer to say, for me, thinking of human nature as independent of God's grace is like thinking of the Son independent of the Father.  Is the Son independent of the Father?  No, which makes it something of a strange curiosity to try to consider.  For the Son to be conceived as 'independent' of the Father, it would be the same as saying "This is what the Son would be if there were no Father" but there is a Father, and the Son gets all he has from the Father, and so it is a rather vain thought.  Something of a vain speculation, I would think.

In a similar way man's nature cannot be seen independent of the Creator.  Sanctifying grace, which is lost in the fall, changes our relationship to God, and that impacts on our nature.  To try to define what we are apart from God or his grace is simply beyond the scope of what is or what can be.  If it can be done, and I don't know that it really can, I can't really see what it would prove.  I am not trying to nullify your concerns, but rather I am speaking of why your focus on that aspect of a definition seems to be something of an oddity to me.  Why would we as Christians want to define what we are independent of God or his grace?  What relevance would it really have?

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Here we are going to disagree, but I will confess that there is disagreement in the Orthodox Church as to the exact effect and necessity of Baptism. On this matter, my belief in Apokatastasis obviously shapes my theology; I believe it is a good and consistant theology, and it was taught by several fathers of the Church, but it is not universally accepted. However, with that said, I see a real problem with making the effectiveness of the Divine Sacrifice on the Cross dependent on the human act of Baptism. As in one man all died, in one man all were made alive, it seems clear to me that the Cross eternally eliminated all that resulted from the fall and to say otherwise is to diminish the effect of Christ's resurrection...though I will admit there are those who would disagree with me (though their soteriology doesn't seem entirely consistant to me).

Okay, I think I understand where you are coming from, and yes, I agree.  We will disagree.  Smiley   Though, at least I can see your point on it. 

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I think it's quite important, it speaks to who we are and it assures us that we were always in the image and likeness of God, even in our most fallen state. It also speaks to the limitations of man, his inability to effect his own Ontology, and the absoluteness of God's power control in that realm. If we taught that humanity could fundamentally and ontologically alter something that was created by God we are ascribing to humanity divine capabilities that would make us gods. Issues of ontology and their dependency on God are essential to Christian theological thought.

Okay, I think I can see what you are getting at.  But, really, who is suggesting that we are wielding godlike powers?  I don't see anything in the view we have of the fall, and such has never even crossed my mind, that we are trying to ascribe to man some supernatural powers.  Instead, I would see what we profess to be just what it is, and that is that original sin is the lack of original holiness and sanctifying grace intended by our Creator for us.  Whether we use the word nature or not, I don't think we should read into it some further ideas of godlike powers.

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« Reply #50 on: December 24, 2006, 12:34:04 AM »

That was Arius' defence as well (whose main purpose for his theology was to defend the Church against Sabellianism), it is fortunate for Augustine that he fared better.

I'm not sure I find any value in pursuing these allusions of yours in this topic concerning Original Sin. It appears to be distracting and just a touch rhetorical...

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I don't believe so, I think our chronology of justification and sanctification differs. You are suggesting that one is redeemed or justified and then afterwards may reach towards sancitification. I would say that until one is sanctified they cannot be justified. All mankind was redeemed at the cross and there is nothing more we need to do for that redemption, but much must be done before we can be justified before God, we must still first overcome personal sin. And as an interesting theological note, it was when our Lady achieved sanctification through her own acts, even in the context of an unredeemed humanity (meaning a break in the communion between humanity as a whole and God, personal relationships with God were still possible, as is seen with the Righteous of the Old Testament), that God gave her Justification in the form of the Christ child, and thus through her all the world was redeemed (the breach in our corporate relationship with God was repaired)

Okay. At this point I might suggest that you have ceased to be an objective voice of Orthodoxy and have 'merged' the image and likeness into one. At least according to Bishop Ware, the Greek Fathers who drew a line between image and likeness agreed that the former is static and the latter is dynamic. Ware writes that the image "denotes man's potentiality for life in God, the likeness his realization of that potentiality. It would appear that your theology merges the two as one static 'realization' due to the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour.

I would argue that, before Christ's resurrection, there was simply no hope of such a 'realization' due to man's wounded nature in the fall. This realization was 'closed' to man. Now it has been opened by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ but it awaits our response. Yes, the way is now open but we must walk through the door.

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The relationship effects them in every observable way, but does not change their essence.

Define what you mean by essence here? Are you rejecting the uncreated energies?

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Our nature after the fall is the same as our nature before the fall, what changed is how we, and God, interacted with said nature. Of course, with the Crucifixion and Resurrection this relationship was repaired.

Would suggest that this is normative Orthodox teaching on the Crucifixion and Resurrection or your own theology again? Can you afford us Latins a little more objectivity and share with us what the normative position might be?

Pax Vobiscum
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« Reply #51 on: December 24, 2006, 09:36:15 AM »

Okay. At this point I might suggest that you have ceased to be an objective voice of Orthodoxy and have 'merged' the image and likeness into one. At least according to Bishop Ware, the Greek Fathers who drew a line between image and likeness agreed that the former is static and the latter is dynamic. Ware writes that the image "denotes man's potentiality for life in God, the likeness his realization of that potentiality. It would appear that your theology merges the two as one static 'realization' due to the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour.

There is that view within Orthodoxy...though I do not know that it is in the majority (perhaps, but if so not by much); likeness and image are also viewed as ontological properties, and therefore would be unchanged by the fall. Though the position you describe above does exist within some circles (patristic and modern)

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I would argue that, before Christ's resurrection, there was simply no hope of such a 'realization' due to man's wounded nature in the fall. This realization was 'closed' to man. Now it has been opened by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ but it awaits our response. Yes, the way is now open but we must walk through the door.

Here, of course, we are going to disagree.

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Define what you mean by essence here? Are you rejecting the uncreated energies?

I was refering to the essence of human nature, not of the Divine.

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Would suggest that this is normative Orthodox teaching on the Crucifixion and Resurrection or your own theology again? Can you afford us Latins a little more objectivity and share with us what the normative position might be?

Oh, that is standard Orthodox Theology. With the possible exception of a small handful 19th century russian theologians, strongly influenced by western theology, you will find the relational, rather than natural, explanations of the fall to be fairly standard within Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #52 on: December 24, 2006, 03:42:16 PM »

There is that view within Orthodoxy...though I do not know that it is in the majority (perhaps, but if so not by much); likeness and image are also viewed as ontological properties, and therefore would be unchanged by the fall. Though the position you describe above does exist within some circles (patristic and modern)

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

So, from your prespective, and that of Holy Orthodoxy, the fall was not a fall at all? Is there no distinction between carnal and divine, sin and righteousness, etc?

Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers: Nor the effeminate nor liers with mankind nor thieves nor covetous nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God. And such some of you were. But you are washed: but you are sanctified: but you are justified: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 DRB

Again let me ask you, is there a necessity for the Church at all in Orthodoxy? There appears to be no real need. As you assert, Christ's work is done, we are everyone saved. What, then, is the purpose of the Church and the Sacraments; like Baptism, Exorism, Unction?

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I was refering to the essence of human nature, not of the Divine.

I get the impression that you confuse our 'freewill' with God's Will. You appear to conclude that because human nature, at it's 'ground of being' is found in God's Purpose that this, in and of itself, liberates man from responsibility. I might even suggest that you have not yet shaken the hold that Calvinism once had on you. Is this at all possible?

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Oh, that is standard Orthodox Theology. With the possible exception of a small handful 19th century russian theologians, strongly influenced by western theology, you will find the relational, rather than natural, explanations of the fall to be fairly standard within Orthodoxy.

Does not the entire principle of Theosis challenge this limit to the relational, rather than natural? I still don't fully understand what you mean by 'natural'. Please elaborate...

BTW, I wish you a most Merry Christmas.

Pax Vobiscum
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« Reply #53 on: December 28, 2006, 07:07:53 PM »

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

I know that this is a very ecumenically incorrect thing to say. We are used to accepting that the Eastern Orthodox have their own valid way of expressing the fall of Adam and its effects on humanity.

We all know that the Eastern Orthodox are stalwart defenders of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Church. However, two of these Ecumeical Councils (Ephesus in 430 and Nicea II in 787) received the explicitly Augustinian conciliar canons of the Council of Carthage in AD 418.

This Council of Carthage canonized nine beliefs to be received by the Church. These nine statements were put forth to deny the errors of Pelagius. They are as follows:

1. Death came from sin, not man's physical nature.
2. Infants must be baptized to be cleansed from original sin.
3. Justifying grace covers past sins and helps avoid future sins.
4. The grace of Christ imparts strength and will to act out God's commandments.
5. No good works can come without God's grace.
6. We confess we are sinners because it is true, not from humility.
7. The saints ask for forgiveness for their own sins.
8. The saints also confess to be sinners because they are.
9. Children dying without baptism are excluded from both the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life.

Every canon was accepted as a universal belief of the Church and banished all Pelagians from Italy. These Carthaginian canons were accepted by the Church at the Ecumenical Council in AD 431. There were received yet again at the Seventh Ecumenical Council (the Second Council of Nicea) in AD 787.

This occurred when the Seventh Council ratified the Canons of Trullo (also called the Quinsext Council), which had received the Canons of the African Code which include those of the Carthaginian conciliar condemnations of AD 418.

Sooooo...it looks to me that Eastern Orthodox are bound to accept the nine beliefs put forward by the Council of Carthage of 418, which states that infants must be baptized and "cleansed from original sin."

I am looking for some solid Orthodox theologians out there to prove me wrong. I'd be happily corrected. But it seems that the Augustinian tradition is not something peculiar to the West, but something canonized by the Conciliar tradition.

Dominus Vobiscum
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« Reply #54 on: December 28, 2006, 07:18:59 PM »

I dont read too many modern theologians, so I can't help you too much there, though you might give Romanides a try...he's a bit more Augustinian than I'm comfortable with, but he's pretty good.

As for the Synods of Carthage, the Oecumenical Synods don't say which ones are accepted and which ones are not, they refer simply to 'those (canons) in Carthage.' The traditional practice in the Orthodox Church is to accept the disciplinary canons of Carthage while ignoring, if not rejecting, the theological decisions. The council of 418 has never been looked upon with much favour, especially such things as the blasphemous position that children dying without baptism are excluded from the kingdom of heaven.
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« Reply #55 on: December 28, 2006, 07:37:02 PM »

I dont read too many modern theologians, so I can't help you too much there, though you might give Romanides a try...he's a bit more Augustinian than I'm comfortable with, but he's pretty good.

As for the Synods of Carthage, the Oecumenical Synods don't say which ones are accepted and which ones are not, they refer simply to 'those (canons) in Carthage.' The traditional practice in the Orthodox Church is to accept the disciplinary canons of Carthage while ignoring, if not rejecting, the theological decisions. The council of 418 has never been looked upon with much favour, especially such things as the blasphemous position that children dying without baptism are excluded from the kingdom of heaven.

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

I continue to posit that 'modern-day' Eastern Orthodox Theology does a good job of dancing around 'traditional' council positions in order to assert what I argue is a more 'generous' i.e. upbeat theology in order to distance herself from the Catholic Church. Frankly, since Vatican II even the Catholic Church could be cited for doing this as well but I would argue not as much.

I am a bit of an 'old' Catholic Soul so I don't dispute that Theologians, in the West, grappled a great deal with the 'apparent' innocence of infants and the justice of condemning them but it would explain why Exorcism, Baptism as well as Holy Chrismation followed by the Eucharist was done with great care on every infant to insure that they were armed with every grace possible by the East. I know that 'modern' theologians have a 'wonderful' way of dancing around these canons but I honestly believe that such is a form of 'cafeteria' Theology.

Dominus Vobiscum

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« Reply #56 on: December 28, 2006, 07:45:12 PM »

I am a bit of an 'old' Catholic Soul so I don't dispute that Theologians, in the West, grappled a great deal with the 'apparent' innocence of infants and the justice of condemning them but it would explain why Exorcism, Baptism as well as Holy Chrismation followed by the Eucharist was done with great care on every infant to insure that they were armed with every grace possible by the East. I know that 'modern' theologians have a 'wonderful' way of dancing around these canons but I honestly believe that such is a form of 'cafeteria' Theology.

I don't believe it 'is a form of "cafeteria" Theology' as you suggest, because I can find little evidence that these doctrinal positions were ever widely accepted in the east. Rather, what it points to is the fluid nature of patristic theology, multiple, often conflicting, opinions were frequently held to be acceptable. The differences between Augustine and Cassian can be pointed to on this issue...Cassian was condemned as a semi-pelagian in the west whereas he was upheld as a standard of Orthodoxy and canonized as a Saint in the East. The patristic consensus is a myth, and the more you look into patristics and church history the less and less uniform you will find Christian theology to have traditionally been.
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« Reply #57 on: December 28, 2006, 07:48:29 PM »

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Sooooo...it looks to me that Eastern Orthodox are bound to accept the nine beliefs put forward by the Council of Carthage of 418, which states that infants must be baptized and "cleansed from original sin."

Well, I'm not a theologian, but the Orthodox Councils have accepted canons which contradict each other, so by merely saying "We accept the canons of Basil... we accept the canons of Carthage... etc." that does not mean that they necessarily accept everything to the letter. For example, the canons of Athanasius (39th Epistle) specifically excludes the so-called deuterocanonical books from the Bible canon, and says that they are only to be read for edification. On the other hand, the Council of Carthage (Canon 32) specifically includes the so-called deuterocanonical books in it's Old Testament Canon. The 6th Ecumenical accepts both the canons of Athanasius and Carthage, without bothering to specify which particular Biblical canon they are meaning to endorse.

As another example of what I mean, none of the canons of the 1st Ecumenical Council have ever been formally rejected by an Orthodox Church, so far as I know. Yet almost no one has followed Canon 15 (clergymen are not to wander from place to place). Indeed, the semi-Arians were so hard pressed to dislodge Gregory the Theologian from Constantinople that they brought up this canon to demonstrate that he was not following the canons. Technically the "heretics" were right, and the "Saint" was uncanonical; but the Church certainly didn't side with the semi-arians, as well they shouldn't, since (like I said) almost no one followed this canon. Those who accepted the Nicene formula weren't about to lose one of their most eloquent and brilliant speakers based on something as minor as a disregarded canon from the 1st Ecumenical Council.
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« Reply #58 on: December 28, 2006, 11:14:41 PM »

I don't believe it 'is a form of "cafeteria" Theology' as you suggest, because I can find little evidence that these doctrinal positions were ever widely accepted in the east. Rather, what it points to is the fluid nature of patristic theology, multiple, often conflicting, opinions were frequently held to be acceptable. The differences between Augustine and Cassian can be pointed to on this issue...Cassian was condemned as a semi-pelagian in the west whereas he was upheld as a standard of Orthodoxy and canonized as a Saint in the East. The patristic consensus is a myth, and the more you look into patristics and church history the less and less uniform you will find Christian theology to have traditionally been.

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

When I read The 3rd and 4th parts of the 37th Homily of St. Symeon The New Theologian titled 'A Man is Sinful From His Very Conception' and 'And Man is Reborn By The Holy Spirit In Holy Baptism' I simply can't for the life of me concur with your claims.

Modern Orthodox Theologians have to 'dance' and 'contort' far too much for me to believe that this is the truth of Holy Orthodoxy. When I am aboard I simply don't encounter this kind of liberalism of the Canons of the Councils and discussion of the faith. As much as I admire your very learned and eloquent arguments they simply don't fit together with the whole deposit of faith. I simply 'must' take St. Symeon over you just as Metropolitan Stephen was overshadowed by the depth of St. Symeon's insights.

No disrespect intended.

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« Reply #59 on: December 28, 2006, 11:24:21 PM »

Well, I'm not a theologian, but the Orthodox Councils have accepted canons which contradict each other, so by merely saying "We accept the canons of Basil... we accept the canons of Carthage... etc." that does not mean that they necessarily accept everything to the letter. For example, the canons of Athanasius (39th Epistle) specifically excludes the so-called deuterocanonical books from the Bible canon, and says that they are only to be read for edification. On the other hand, the Council of Carthage (Canon 32) specifically includes the so-called deuterocanonical books in it's Old Testament Canon. The 6th Ecumenical accepts both the canons of Athanasius and Carthage, without bothering to specify which particular Biblical canon they are meaning to endorse.

In nomine Iesu, Asteriktos I offer you continued peace,

I believe the name 'deutero-canonical' says it all...   Grin

Of course, the Council of Trent has spoken on this for us Latins so it's not much of an issue over here.

Quote
As another example of what I mean, none of the canons of the 1st Ecumenical Council have ever been formally rejected by an Orthodox Church, so far as I know. Yet almost no one has followed Canon 15 (clergymen are not to wander from place to place). Indeed, the semi-Arians were so hard pressed to dislodge Gregory the Theologian from Constantinople that they brought up this canon to demonstrate that he was not following the canons. Technically the "heretics" were right, and the "Saint" was uncanonical; but the Church certainly didn't side with the semi-arians, as well they shouldn't, since (like I said) almost no one followed this canon. Those who accepted the Nicene formula weren't about to lose one of their most eloquent and brilliant speakers based on something as minor as a disregarded canon from the 1st Ecumenical Council.

With regard to this I guess we would have to know what 'wander' means...  Any ideas?

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« Reply #60 on: December 28, 2006, 11:38:06 PM »

I realise that the issue is settled for the Catholics, but I think it still points to a vagueness and state of flux among the Orthodox on a lot of things, even very important things like the exact number of books in Scripture.

Fwiw, I believe that "wander" in that canon spoke of bishops who went from area to area seeking better "positions," so to speak. The Fathers who were at the Council (if I remember correctly) was basically of the opinion that once you became a bishop somewhere, you were wed to that bishopric in ecclesiastical marriage. Gregory hated his original position, and was quite frank about how he didn't like being in such a backwater place. I don't personally think that Gregory sought out honors and fame (I'm almost certain that he was of an exactly opposite temperament), but I doubt he minded moving out of his original place. The main point, though, is that almost no one followed the canon, and it was a sort of last resort of heretics. And, the practice of bishops changing their ecclesiastical spouse has continued into the present day; I think one (or more) of the Patriarch's of Constantinople in the early 20th century was a bishop in Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople.
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« Reply #61 on: December 29, 2006, 12:38:24 AM »

I realise that the issue is settled for the Catholics, but I think it still points to a vagueness and state of flux among the Orthodox on a lot of things, even very important things like the exact number of books in Scripture.

In nomine Iesu, Asteriktos I offer you continued peace,

I can see your point. The simply fact that a clarification at the Council of Trent was necessary speaks volumes doesn't it?

Quote
Fwiw, I believe that "wander" in that canon spoke of bishops who went from area to area seeking better "positions," so to speak. The Fathers who were at the Council (if I remember correctly) was basically of the opinion that once you became a bishop somewhere, you were wed to that bishopric in ecclesiastical marriage. Gregory hated his original position, and was quite frank about how he didn't like being in such a backwater place. I don't personally think that Gregory sought out honors and fame (I'm almost certain that he was of an exactly opposite temperament), but I doubt he minded moving out of his original place. The main point, though, is that almost no one followed the canon, and it was a sort of last resort of heretics. And, the practice of bishops changing their ecclesiastical spouse has continued into the present day; I think one (or more) of the Patriarch's of Constantinople in the early 20th century was a bishop in Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople.

I do believe that your word choice is admirable (ecclesiastical marriage). The Bishop was, in effect, the 'spiritual' Head of a 'spiritual' Family. His transfer was seen as distasteful and possbly harming to the 'spiritual' growth of the community. So I can understand the point made by the Arians but I would suggest that 'not wandering' is very vague language and clearly up to interpretation and doesn't necessarily suggest that one could 'never' be reassigned but that one should exercise 'restraint' when such is requested and have concern for the 'spiritual' well-being of the community.

Such doesn't suggest to 'me' that 'any' transfer meant one broke Canon Law. The Canon is meant to be exercised with wisdom by the ecclesial head of the Church.  Wink

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« Reply #62 on: December 29, 2006, 02:07:11 AM »

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

When I read The 3rd and 4th parts of the 37th Homily of St. Symeon The New Theologian titled 'A Man is Sinful From His Very Conception' and 'And Man is Reborn By The Holy Spirit In Holy Baptism' I simply can't for the life of me concur with your claims.

Modern Orthodox Theologians have to 'dance' and 'contort' far too much for me to believe that this is the truth of Holy Orthodoxy. When I am aboard I simply don't encounter this kind of liberalism of the Canons of the Councils and discussion of the faith. As much as I admire your very learned and eloquent arguments they simply don't fit together with the whole deposit of faith. I simply 'must' take St. Symeon over you just as Metropolitan Stephen was overshadowed by the depth of St. Symeon's insights.

No disrespect intended.

Dominus Vobiscum

Perhaps you should read more of the fathers, if the issue is studied in any depth you will notice a lack of consensus; our theologians today have simply adopted the patristic soteriology more inline with the values and high theology of the Orthodox Faith:

'You have seen how numerous are the gifts of baptism.  Although many men think that the only gift it confers is the remission of sins, we have counted its honors to the number of ten. It is on this account that we baptize even infants, although they are sinless, that they may be given the further gifts of sanctification, justice, filial adoption, and inheritance, that they may be brothers and members of Christ, and become dwelling places of the Spirit.' -- St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instruction 3:6

'Moreover the precept, which teaches this, is law, that we, holding by it, may walk in light: and the transgression of this precept is sin, and this continues to exist on account of the assault of the devil and our unconstrained and voluntary reception of it.' -- St. John Damascene, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Book IV, Chapter 22

'For we should not hold that God made man such that he can never will or be capable of what is good: or else He has not granted him a free will, if He has suffered him only to will or be capable of evil, but neither to will or be capable of what is good of himself.' -- St. John Cassian, Conference 13, Chapter 12
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« Reply #63 on: December 29, 2006, 02:30:18 AM »

Perhaps you should read more of the fathers, if the issue is studied in any depth you will notice a lack of consensus; our theologians today have simply adopted the patristic soteriology more inline with the values and high theology of the Orthodox Faith:

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

Are you suggesting that St. Symeon the New Theologian is not patristic? That he is not Orthodox? Are you serious?

Quote
'You have seen how numerous are the gifts of baptism.  Although many men think that the only gift it confers is the remission of sins, we have counted its honors to the number of ten. It is on this account that we baptize even infants, although they are sinless, that they may be given the further gifts of sanctification, justice, filial adoption, and inheritance, that they may be brothers and members of Christ, and become dwelling places of the Spirit.' -- St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instruction 3:6

'Moreover the precept, which teaches this, is law, that we, holding by it, may walk in light: and the transgression of this precept is sin, and this continues to exist on account of the assault of the devil and our unconstrained and voluntary reception of it.' -- St. John Damascene, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith Book IV, Chapter 22

'For we should not hold that God made man such that he can never will or be capable of what is good: or else He has not granted him a free will, if He has suffered him only to will or be capable of evil, but neither to will or be capable of what is good of himself.' -- St. John Cassian, Conference 13, Chapter 12

Okay from the first quote of St. John Chrysostom I can see a contradiction but these other quotes don't appear to be relevant?

Could you point me to a link with them 'in context' so that I could get a grasp of what they are discussing?

BTW, you continue to suggest that the Fathers have no consensus. By that I take it that you mean that there is no Deposit of Faith in which they draw. I might agree that there are 'saints' who are not Theologians or God-Seers but I tend to give Theologians greater weight as well as the Councils.

While we'll at it could you address my questions as to the 'necessity' of a Church at all? What is the purpose of a Body of Christ if we are all saved?

Dominus Vobiscum
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« Reply #64 on: December 29, 2006, 02:55:25 AM »

What is the purpose of a Body of Christ if we are all saved?
Not that I am decided on the issue of apokatasis, but it could be argued that according to St. Paul, the Church is part of the plan to unite all things in Christ; it is the vehicle by which all are saved in the fullness of time and has the purpose of sanctifying the cosmos for this end.
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us [i.e. the Church]accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him[i.e. apokatasis]" (Ephesians 1:5-10)
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« Reply #65 on: December 29, 2006, 03:05:12 AM »

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

Are you suggesting that St. Symeon the New Theologian is not patristic? That he is not Orthodox? Are you serious?

Oh, he's Orthodox and a father, but I submit that if his soteriology is what you suggest (and I'm not entirely certain, he's a bit too late for my philosophical tastes (though I enjoy the law from that era) so I haven't read much of him) it is not necessarily as good of a soteriology as that presented by certain other fathers, primarily for the reason that the soteriology you present conflicts with our high theology and understanding of both the personal and natural attributes of the Divine.

Quote
Okay from the first quote of St. John Chrysostom I can see a contradiction but these other quotes don't appear to be relevant?

The quote by St. John Damascene demonstrates his belief that we have no inclination towards sin, but rather our reception of sin is 'unconstrained and voluntary.' And the quote by St. John Cassian demonstrates (as does the entire 12th Chapter of the 13th Conference) that he taught that we are capable of righteousness independent of divine grace.

Quote
Could you point me to a link with them 'in context' so that I could get a grasp of what they are discussing?

I gave references, I'm sure a google search would bring up the texts, provided they're online.

Quote
BTW, you continue to suggest that the Fathers have no consensus. By that I take it that you mean that there is no Deposit of Faith in which they draw. I might agree that there are 'saints' who are not Theologians or God-Seers but I tend to give Theologians greater weight as well as the Councils.

My readings of the fathers, even those who are regarded as 'theologians' demonstrates that there is no 'Deposit of the Faith in which they draw.' Rather, the development and evolution of theology is a messy thing with contradictory ideas being presented, consensuses being reached, and even contradictory ideas being simultaneously adopted. The history of Dogma is a history of conflict, contradiction, and eventual compromise (or simply agreement to disagree or not dogmatize an issue).

Quote
While we'll at it could you address my questions as to the 'necessity' of a Church at all? What is the purpose of a Body of Christ if we are all saved?

It gives man the best possible context in which he can form a relationship with God and move towards the final restoration that all men will eventually reach, though not necessarily in the same manner or in the same time.
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« Reply #66 on: December 29, 2006, 12:28:55 PM »

The quote by St. John Damascene demonstrates his belief that we have no inclination towards sin, but rather our reception of sin is 'unconstrained and voluntary.'

Do you mean this quote: 'You have seen how numerous are the gifts of baptism.  Although many men think that the only gift it confers is the remission of sins, we have counted its honors to the number of ten. It is on this account that we baptize even infants, although they are sinless, that they may be given the further gifts of sanctification, justice, filial adoption, and inheritance, that they may be brothers and members of Christ, and become dwelling places of the Spirit.' -- St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instruction 3:6

I fear that I see nothing of what you say in that.  Further, if perhaps you see a denial of what we in the west call original sin I also cannot agree. It is clear that he is saying that infants are free of sin, but I would say he means personal or actual sin.  He goes on to speak in terms very near, if not identical, to what we in the west would say of remission of original sin, i.e. "that they may be given the further gifts of sanctification, justice, filial adoption and inheritance..."  We state that original sin is not actual sin, nor personal fault, but rather a lack of sanctifying grace and original holiness. 

Now, taken out of context, and together with my ignorance of this father's writings, I will not try to build any case that this is so, but I only would suggest that the quote as you presented it seems to say nothing itself in regard to 'inclination to sin' or such, and does seem to speak to the need, even in innocent infants, of sanctification, which I would understand as sanctifying grace.  I personally would not rule out 'filial adoption and inheritance' either as they speak of the institution of a relationship with the divine, wich is obviously lacking otherwise, and so one can see the reversal of the effects of Adam's sin in us.  So, as it stands, I cannot say that I see any denial of a concept of original sin here, if that was your intent, and instead must say that at first reading it seems very in line with what a Catholic may say in regards to baptism and how it erases original sin.

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« Reply #67 on: December 29, 2006, 12:45:18 PM »

Do you mean this quote:...

No, that is the quote from St. John Chrysostom, the commentary you quoted related to the quote from St. John Damascene. All that Chrysostom quote demonstrates is that children are sinless and in no need of remission of sins. That they need a special sanctifying grace for salvation is no doubt true, but it was no less true of Adam before the fall. These children are born into the same state that Adam was created.
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« Reply #68 on: December 29, 2006, 02:18:05 PM »

Oh, he's Orthodox and a father, but I submit that if his soteriology is what you suggest (and I'm not entirely certain, he's a bit too late for my philosophical tastes (though I enjoy the law from that era) so I haven't read much of him) it is not necessarily as good of a soteriology as that presented by certain other fathers, primarily for the reason that the soteriology you present conflicts with our high theology and understanding of both the personal and natural attributes of the Divine.

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

Well, I would highly encourage you to read The First-Created Man by St. Symeon The New Theologian. You will find your entire assertion cast on it's ear and you will be forced to conclude that St. Symeon is a Latin Spy enbedded in the courts of Constantinople to undermine it's 'high' theology.  Wink

BTW, what do you mean by 'high' theology...

Quote
The quote by St. John Damascene demonstrates his belief that we have no inclination towards sin, but rather our reception of sin is 'unconstrained and voluntary.' And the quote by St. John Cassian demonstrates (as does the entire 12th Chapter of the 13th Conference) that he taught that we are capable of righteousness independent of divine grace.

Let us assume that your assertion concerning St. John Damascene is correct for the moment. Given that sin is voluntary:

Who can say: My heart is clean, I am pure from sin? - Proverbs 20:9 DRB

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. - Isaiah 64:6-7 DRB

Oh, dear GiC if St. John Damascene posits, as you have said, that sin in our current state is voluntary, truly we are loathsome creatures to be sure...

Upon reflection of this I can only say that the evidence suggests that St. John Damascene's position is not true and that the 'current' state of man is one of bondage to the enemy until we are made whole.

Quote
I gave references, I'm sure a google search would bring up the texts, provided they're online.

I was only hoping that you had them handy.

Quote
My readings of the fathers, even those who are regarded as 'theologians' demonstrates that there is no 'Deposit of the Faith in which they draw.' Rather, the development and evolution of theology is a messy thing with contradictory ideas being presented, consensuses being reached, and even contradictory ideas being simultaneously adopted. The history of Dogma is a history of conflict, contradiction, and eventual compromise (or simply agreement to disagree or not dogmatize an issue).

Isn't it 'heresy' to posit 'the development and evolution of theology' in Orthodoxy?

Quote
It gives man the best possible context in which he can form a relationship with God and move towards the final restoration that all men will eventually reach, though not necessarily in the same manner or in the same time.

"It gives man 'the best' possible context"...

Be it known to you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him, this man standeth here before you, whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.
- Acts 4:10-12 DRB

I would argue it is the only possible context for salvation.

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« Reply #69 on: December 29, 2006, 02:39:35 PM »

BTW, what do you mean by 'high' theology...

Simply theology proper, that study which relates to the personal, hypostatical, and natural aspects of the Divine. It is the most important and significant element of theological studies and all other beliefs should be subjugated to the same.

Quote
Oh, dear GiC if St. John Damascene posits, as you have said, that sin in our current state is voluntary, truly we are loathsome creatures to be sure...

Poetic expressions of humility aside objective observation should demonstrate that while humanity is not perfect, it is generally good.

Quote
Upon reflection of this I can only say that the evidence suggests that St. John Damascene's position is not true and that the 'current' state of man is one of bondage to the enemy until we are made whole.

What do you mean until? Do we not worship a crucified and risen Christ? Has not death been vanquished? Or do you doubt the the resurrection or believe it to be without effect?

Quote
Isn't it 'heresy' to posit 'the development and evolution of theology' in Orthodoxy?

No, it's a common sense objective analysis of historical reality. To say otherwise is to mislead either deliberately or in ignorance.

Quote
"It gives man 'the best' possible context"...

Be it known to you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him, this man standeth here before you, whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.
- Acts 4:10-12 DRB

I would argue it is the only possible context for salvation.

Your verse demonstrates merely that Christ brings salvation to all the world, which was done at the resurrection...it does not mean that there is no salvation outside the Church, such is a position that was never widely accepted in the east and today is even rejected in the west.
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« Reply #70 on: December 29, 2006, 03:15:00 PM »

No, that is the quote from St. John Chrysostom, the commentary you quoted related to the quote from St. John Damascene.

Oh, yes.  Now I notice you said Damascene and not Chrysostom.  I misread you, sorry.

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That they need a special sanctifying grace for salvation is no doubt true, but it was no less true of Adam before the fall. These children are born into the same state that Adam was created.

An interesting take.  I can at least see a certain elegance in that approach, though I find that a belief that we are each born in the same state as Adam before the fall seems to leave many scriptures less than understandable.  I sense an overall idea of a fall in humanity leaving us in a state much lower than that which was intended, and Adam is almost always cited in that regard.  For that reason I could never comfortably go as far as you do in this regard.  But, I won't deny it is still a very fascinating approach.

Thanks for the clarification,

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« Reply #71 on: December 29, 2006, 03:33:05 PM »

Excellent posts, both of you. I've also always been puzzled by the false dichotomy between original and ancestral sin.

It's a false dichotomy.  I didn't read past page 1 of the thread, so I don't know what's been discussed in between then and this post.

Unfortunately there are Orthodox people who will tell you with a straight face that Orthodoxy doesn't believe in Original Sin.  It's sad, and it speaks to the low state of many of the writings put out now and given to inquirers to the faith who are told such works are "the Orthodox view".
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« Reply #72 on: December 29, 2006, 04:22:51 PM »

It's a false dichotomy.  I didn't read past page 1 of the thread, so I don't know what's been discussed in between then and this post.

Unfortunately there are Orthodox people who will tell you with a straight face that Orthodoxy doesn't believe in Original Sin.  It's sad, and it speaks to the low state of many of the writings put out now and given to inquirers to the faith who are told such works are "the Orthodox view".

So, to go back to the original page and topic, would you say that the position given by Father Michael in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology is accurate as regards the position of at least most of Orthodoxy?  And what would your take on his view of the Western position be?  I have maintained that basically what he defines as Orthodox is also what we in the West believe, and that his summary of the Western view is flawed in its foundation.  Would you disagree with that?  I ask as I am still trying to get a fair idea of both what the East thinks we do believe, and what the East itself basically holds to be true.

Patrick
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« Reply #73 on: December 29, 2006, 04:37:52 PM »

Simply theology proper, that study which relates to the personal, hypostatical, and natural aspects of the Divine. It is the most important and significant element of theological studies and all other beliefs should be subjugated to the same.

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

So you have managed to place the Divine in these nice little catagories... interesting.

A humble knowledge of yourself is a surer way to God than an extensive search after knowledge. - Thomas a Kempis

I do believe you are too much of a Philosopher and not enough of a God-Seer.

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Poetic expressions of humility aside objective observation should demonstrate that while humanity is not perfect, it is generally good.

Poetic expressions sometimes hide the greatest truths. But again I ask:

Who can say: My heart is clean, I am pure from sin? - Proverbs 20:9 DRB

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. - Isaiah 64:6-7 DRB

But you would argue that we are 'generally' good...  Roll Eyes

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What do you mean until? Do we not worship a crucified and risen Christ? Has not death been vanquished? Or do you doubt the the resurrection or believe it to be without effect?

I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God's power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. See Romans 1:16-17.

The resurrection isn't a 'free ticket', it's an 'invitation'. We must claim it as our own through faith which worketh within us to wholeness and perfection which is the sharing of the Divine Nature as 'adopted sons'.

Every baptized Christian is obliged by his baptismal promises to renounce sin and to give himself completely, without compromise, to Christ, in order that he may fulfill his vocation, save his soul, evnter into the mystery of God, and there find himself perfectly "in the light of Christ."

As St. Paul reminds us (1 Cor. 6:19), we are "not our own." We belong entirely to Christ. His Spirit has taken possession of us at baptism. We are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts, our actions, our desires, are by rights more his than our own. But we have to struggle to ensure that God always receives from us what we owe him by right. If we do not labor to overcome our natural weaknes, our disordered and selfish passions, what belongs to Gos in us will be withdrawn from the sanctifying power of his love and will be corrupted by selfishness, blinded by irrational desire, hardened by pride, and will eventually plunge into the abyss of moral nonetity which is called sin.

Sin is the refusal of spiritual life, the rejection of the inner order and peace that come from our union with the devin nature. In a word, sin is the refusal of God's will and of his love. It is not only a refusal to 'do' this or that things willed by God, or a determination to do what he forbides. It is more radically a refusal to be what we are, a rejection of our mysterious, contingent, spiritual reality hidden in the very mystery of God. Sin is our refusal to be waht we were created to be (i.e. sons of God, images of God). Ultimately sin, while seeming to be an assertion of freedom, is a flight from the freedom and the responsibility of divine sonship. Every Christian is therefore called to sanctity and union with Christ, by keeping the commemendments of God.

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No, it's a common sense objective analysis of historical reality. To say otherwise is to mislead either deliberately or in ignorance.

Perhaps it is not a 'common' sense which is needed?

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Your verse demonstrates merely that Christ brings salvation to all the world, which was done at the resurrection...it does not mean that there is no salvation outside the Church, such is a position that was never widely accepted in the east and today is even rejected in the west.

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« Reply #74 on: December 29, 2006, 04:52:18 PM »

Patrick, what I think is the church was one for a thousand years and that since the schism no major changes to the understanding of Original Sin have come about on the two sides.  I think it's a big argument over nothing.
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« Reply #75 on: December 29, 2006, 04:53:29 PM »

In nomine Iesu, I offer you all peace,

Perhaps we should get back to 'the fall'... What did St. Athanasius teach:

4. But knowing once more how the will of man could sway to either side, in anticipation He secured the grace given them by a law and by the spot where He placed them. For He brought them into His own garden, and gave them a law: so that, if they kept the grace and remained good, they might still keep the life in paradise without sorrow or pain or care besides having the promise of incorruption in heaven; but that if they transgressed and turned back, and became evil, they might know that they were incurring that corruption in death which was theirs by nature: no longer to live in paradise, but cast out of it from that time forth to die and to abide in death and in corruption....

Thus, then, God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption; but men, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God, and devised and contrived evil for themselves (as was said in the former treatise), received the condemnation of death with which they had been threatened; and from thenceforth no longer remained as they were made, but were being corrupted according to their devices; and death had the mastery over them as king. For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time....

6. For man is by nature mortal, inasmuch as he is made out of what is not; but by reason of his likeness to Him that is (and if he still preserved this likeness by keeping Him in his knowledge) he would stay his natural corruption, and remain incorrupt;


Your thoughts...
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« Reply #76 on: December 29, 2006, 05:40:14 PM »

Patrick, what I think is the church was one for a thousand years and that since the schism no major changes to the understanding of Original Sin have come about on the two sides.  I think it's a big argument over nothing.

Many thanks for the extra information.

Patrick
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« Reply #77 on: December 29, 2006, 06:13:19 PM »

I agree. The real change came with Luther and Calvin.
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« Reply #78 on: December 29, 2006, 08:16:52 PM »

I agree. The real change came with Luther and Calvin.

Hear, hear!  Let's blame those guys!  Wink
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« Reply #79 on: December 29, 2006, 09:59:15 PM »

I don't know if this will help; an excerpt from "The Orthodox Church", by Bishop Kallistos Ware. http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/6.aspx#n2

Man: his creation, his vocation, his failure
‘Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.’ (Augustine, Confessions, 1, 1) Man was made for fellowship with God: this is the first and primary affirmation in the Christian doctrine of man. But man, made for fellowship with God, everywhere repudiates that fellowship: this is the second fact which all Christian anthropology takes into account. Man was made for fellowship with God: in the language of the Church, God created Adam according to His image and likeness, and set him in Paradise (The opening chapters of Genesis are of course concerned with certain religious truths, and are not to be taken as literal history. Fifteen centuries before modern Biblical criticism, Greek Fathers were already interpreting the Creation and Paradise stories symbolically rather than literally). Man everywhere repudiates that fellowship: in the language of the Church, Adam fell, and his fall — his ‘original sin’ — has affected all mankind.

The Creation of Man.
"And God said, let us make man according to our image and likeness" (Genesis 1:26). God speaks in the plural: "Let us make man." The creation of man, so the Greek Fathers continually emphasized, was an act of all three persons in the Trinity, and therefore the image and likeness of God must always be thought of as a Trinitarian image and likeness. We shall find that this is a point of vital importance.

Image and Likeness.
According to most of the Greek Fathers, the terms image and likeness do not mean exactly the same thing. ‘The expression according to the image,’ wrote John of Damascus, ‘indicates rationality and freedom, while the expression according to the likeness indicates assimilation to God through virtue (On the Orthodox Faith, 2, 12 (P.G. 94, 920B)). The image, or to use the Greek term the icon, of God signifies man’s free will, his reason, his sense of moral responsibility — everything, in short, which marks man out from the animal creation and makes him a person. But the image means more than that. It means that we are God’s ‘offspring’ (Acts 27:28), His kin; it means that between us and Him there is a point of contact, an essential similarity. The gulf between creature and Creator is not impassable, for because we are in God’s image we can know God and have communion with Him. And if a man makes proper use of this faculty for communion with God, then he will become ‘like’ God, he will acquire the divine likeness; in the words of John Damascene, he will be ‘assimilated to God through virtue.’ To acquire the likeness is to be deified, it is to become a ‘second god,’ a ‘god by grace.’ "I said, you are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High" (Psalm 81:6). (In quotations from the Psalms, the numbering of the Septuagint is followed. Some versions of the Bible reckon this Psalm as 82.).

The image denotes the powers with which every man is endowed by God from the first moment of his existence; the likeness is not an endowment which man possesses from the start, but a goal at which he must aim, something which he can only acquire by degrees. However sinful a man may be, he never loses the image; but the likeness depends upon our moral choice, upon our ‘virtue,’ and so it is destroyed by sin.

Man at his first creation was therefore perfect, not so much in an actual as in a potential sense. Endowed with the image from the start, he was called to acquire the likeness by his own efforts (assisted of course by the grace of God). Adam began in a state of innocence and simplicity. ‘He was a child, not yet having his understanding perfected,’ wrote Irenaeus. ‘It was necessary that he should grow and so come to his perfection (Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 12). God set Adam on the right path, but Adam had in front of him a long road to traverse in order to reach his final goal.

This picture of Adam before the fall is somewhat different from that presented by Saint Augustine and generally accepted in the west since his time. According to Augustine, man in Paradise was endowed from the start with all possible wisdom and knowledge: his was a realized, and in no sense potential, perfection. The dynamic conception of Irenaeus clearly fits more easily with modern theories of evolution than does the static conception of Augustine; but both were speaking as theologians, not as scientists, so that in neither case do their views stand or fall with any particular scientific hypothesis.

The west has often associated the image of God with man’s intellect. While many Orthodox have done the same, others would say that since man is a single unified whole, the image of God embraces his entire person, body as well as soul. ‘When God is said to have made man according to His image,’ wrote Gregory Palamas, ‘the word man means neither the soul by itself nor the body by itself, but the two together (P.G. 150, 1361C). The fact that man has a body, so Gregory argued, makes him not lower but higher than the angels. True, the angels are ‘pure’ spirit, whereas man’s nature is ‘mixed’ — material as well as intellectual; but this means that his nature is more complete than the angelic and endowed with richer potentialities. Man is a microcosm, a bridge and point of meeting for the whole of God’s creation.

Orthodox religious thought lays the utmost emphasis on the image of God in man. Man is a ‘living theology,’ and because he is God’s icon, he can find God by looking within his own heart, by ‘returning within himself:’ "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). ‘Know yourselves,’ said Saint Antony of Egypt. ‘…He who knows himself, knows God (Letter 3 (in the Greek and Latin collections, 6)) ‘If you are pure,’ wrote Saint Isaac the Syrian (late seventh century), ‘heaven is within you; within yourself you will see the angels and the Lord of the angels’ (Quoted in P. Evdokimov, L’Orthodoxie, p. 88). And of Saint Pachomius it is recorded: ‘In the purity of his heart he saw the invisible God as in a mirror (First Greek Life, 22).

Because he is an icon of God, each member of the human race, even the most sinful, is infinitely precious in God’s sight. ‘When you see your brother,’ said Clement of Alexandria (died 215), ‘you see God’ (Stromateis, 1, 19 (94, 5)). And Evagrius taught: ‘After God, we must count all men as God Himself (On Prayer, 123 (P.G. 79, 1193C)). This respect for every human being is visibly expressed in Orthodox worship, when the priest censes not only the icons but the members of the congregation, saluting the image of God in each person. ‘The best icon of God is man (P. Evdokimov, L’Orthodoxie, p. 218).

Grace and Free Will.
As we have seen, the fact that man is in God’s image means among other things that he possesses free will. God wanted a son, not a slave. The Orthodox Church rejects any doctrine of grace which might seem to infringe upon man’s freedom. To describe the relation between the grace of God and free will of man, Orthodoxy uses the term cooperation or synergy (synergeia); in Paul’s words: "We are fellow-workers (synergoi) with God" (1 Cor. 3:9). If man is to achieve full fellowship with God, he cannot do so without God’s help, yet he must also play his own part: man as well as God must make his contribution to the common work, although what God does is of immeasurably greater importance than what man does. ‘The incorporation of man into Christ and his union with God require the cooperation of two unequal, but equally necessary forces: divine grace and human will (A Monk of the Eastern Church, Orthodox Spirituality, p. 23). The supreme example of synergy is the Mother of God (See p. 263).

The west, since the time of Augustine and the Pelagian controversy, has discussed this question of grace and free will in somewhat different terms; and many brought up in the Augustinian tradition — particularly Calvinists — have viewed the Orthodox idea of ‘synergy’ with some suspicion. Does it not ascribe too much to man’s free will, and too little to God? Yet in reality the Orthodox teaching is very straightforward. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20). God knocks, but waits for man to open the door — He does not break it down. The grace of God invites all but compels none. In the words of John Chrysostom: ‘God never draws anyone to Himself by force and violence. He wishes all men to be saved, but forces no one’ (Sermon on the words ‘Saul, Saul…’ 6 (P.G. 51, 144)). ‘It is for God to grant His grace,’ said Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (died 386); ‘your task is to accept that grace and to guard it (Catehetical Orations, 1, 4). But it must not be imagined that because a man accepts and guards God’s grace, he thereby earns ‘merit.’ God’s gifts are always free gifts, and man can never have any claims upon his Maker. But man, while he cannot ‘merit’ salvation, must certainly work for it, since "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17).

The Fall: Original Sin.
God gave Adam free will — the power to choose between good and evil — and it therefore rested With Adam either to accept the vocation set before him or to refuse it. He refused it. Instead of continuing along the path marked out for him by God, he turned aside and disobeyed God. Adam’s fall consisted essentially in his disobedience of the will of God; he set up his own will against the divine will, and so by his own act he separated himself from God. As a result, a new form of existence appeared on earth — that of disease and death. By turning away from God, who is immortality and life, man put himself in a state that was contrary to nature, and this unnatural condition led to an inevitable disintegration of his being and eventually to physical death. The consequences of Adam’s disobedience extended to all his descendants. We are members one of another, as Saint Paul never ceased to insist, and if one member suffers the whole body suffers. In virtue of this mysterious unity of the human race, not only Adam but all mankind became subject to mortality. Nor was the disintegration which followed from the fall merely physical. Cut off from God, Adam and his descendants passed under the domination of sin and of the devil. Each new human being is born into a world where sin prevails everywhere, a world in which it is easy to do evil and hard to do good. Man’s will is weakened and enfeebled by what the Greeks call ‘desire’ and the Latins ‘concupiscence.’ We are all subject to these, the spiritual effects of original sin.

Thus far there is fairly close agreement between Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and classic Protestantism; but beyond this point east and west do not entirely concur. Orthodoxy, holding as it does a less exalted idea of man’s state before he fell, is also less severe than the west in its view of the consequences of the fall. Adam fell, not from a great height of knowledge and perfection, but from a state of undeveloped simplicity; hence he is not to be judged too harshly for his error. Certainly, as a result of the fall man’s mind became so darkened, and his will-power was so impaired, that he could no longer hope to attain to the likeness of God. Orthodox, however, do not hold that the fall deprived man entirely of God’s grace, though they would say that after the fall grace acts on man from the outside, not from within. Orthodox do not say, as Calvin said, that man after the fall was utterly depraved and incapable of good desires. They cannot agree with Augustine, when he writes that man is under ‘a harsh necessity’ of committing sin, and that ‘man’s nature was overcome by the fault into which it fell, and so came to lack freedom’ (On the perfection of man’s righteousness, 4 (9)). The image of God is distorted by sin, but never destroyed; in the words of s hymn sung by Orthodox at the Funeral Service for the laity: ‘I am the image of Thine inexpressible glory, even though I bear the wounds of sin.’ And because he still retains the image of God, man still retains free will, although sin restricts its scope. Even after the fall, God ‘takes not away from man the power to will — to will to obey or not to obey Him’ (Dositheus, Confession, Decree 3. Compare Decree 14). Faithful to the idea of synergy, Orthodoxy repudiates any interpretation of the fall which allows no room for human freedom.

Most orthodox theologians reject the idea of ‘original guilt,’ put forward by Augustine and still accepted (albeit in a mitigated form) by the Roman Catholic Church. Men (Orthodox usually teach) automatically inherit Adam’s corruption and mortality, but not his guilt: they are only guilty in so far as by their own free choice they imitate Adam. Many western Christians believe that whatever a man does in his fallen and unredeemed state, since it is tainted by original guilt, cannot possibly be pleasing to God: ‘Works before Justification,’ says the thirteenth of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, ‘...are not pleasant to God ... but have the nature of sin.’ Orthodox would hesitate to say this. And Orthodox have never held (as Augustine and many others in the west have done) that unbaptized babies, because tainted with original guilt, are consigned by the just God to the everlasting games of Hell (Thomas Aquinas, in his discussion of the fall, on the whole followed Augustine, and in particular retained the idea of original guilt; but as regards unbaptized babies, he maintained that they go not to Hell but to Limbo — a view now generally accepted by Roman theologians. So far as I can discover, Orthodox writers do not make use of the idea of Limbo. It should be noted that an Augustinian view of the fall is found from time to time in Orthodox theological literature; but this is usually the result of western influence. The Orthodox Confession by Peter of Moghila is, as one might expect, strongly Augustinian; on the other hand the Confession of Dositheus is free from Augustinianism). The Orthodox picture of fallen humanity is far less sombre than the Augustinian or Calvinist view.

But although Orthodox maintain that man after the fall still possessed free will and was still capable of good actions, yet they certainly agree with the west in believing that man’s sin had set up between him and God a barrier, which man by his own efforts could never break down. Sin blocked the path to union with God. Since man could not come to God, God came to man.

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« Reply #80 on: December 29, 2006, 11:23:59 PM »

In nomine Iesu, Riddikulus I offer you peace,

Thank you for the post and link. Due to St. Augustine's enfluence there is a Western tradition of guilt (culpa) associated with Original Sin but there is also a Western traditions which challenges this associated guilt (culpa) starting with Abelard.

We find in beloved St. Thomas Aquinas the rejection of material torment (poena sensus) to all who lack Actual Sin but the West continued to assert the pain of loss (poena damni) of the Beatific Vision (i.e. separation from God) for those still in the state of Original Sin. I believe this position was shared by the Greek Fathers at the time, but it appears that both East and West are challenging this in our modern era.

The current Pope Benedict XVI chaffs at the hypothesis of Limbo (i.e. a region in Hell void of material torment) and so rejects the poena damni of unbaptized infants.

Theology is fun isn't it?  Cheesy

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« Reply #81 on: December 29, 2006, 11:37:30 PM »

In nomine Iesu, Riddikulus I offer you peace,

Thank you for the post and link. Due to St. Augustine's enfluence there is a Western tradition of guilt (culpa) associated with Original Sin but there is also a Western traditions which challenges this associated guilt (culpa) starting with Abelard.

We find in beloved St. Thomas Aquinas the rejection of material torment (poena sensus) to all who lack Actual Sin but the West continued to assert the pain of loss (poena damni) of the Beatific Vision (i.e. separation from God) for those still in the state of Original Sin. I believe this position was shared by the Greek Fathers at the time but it appears that both East and West are even challenging this in our modern era.

The current Pope Benedict XVI chaffs at the the hypothesis of Limbo (i.e. a region in Hell void of material torment) and so rejects the poena damni of unbaptized infants.

Theology is fun isn't it?  Cheesy

Dominus Vobiscum

Pax, Francis-Christopher,

Theology is only fun when it doesn't give one a headache!!  Cheesy

Bishop Kallistos is one of my favourite Theologians, though. For me, at least, he states theology in manner more easily grasped.
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« Reply #82 on: December 30, 2006, 01:30:15 AM »

In nomine Iesu, I offer you all peace,

Perhaps we should get back to 'the fall'... What did St. Athanasius teach:...

It's an interesting proposition, that the natural state of man is corrupt and that the fall was essentially a return to our natural state. However, I have issues with this for philosophical reasons, the natural state of all creation, including nothingness, is orientated towards the divine. Now while I can see God introducing corruption through nothingness this is not the natural orientation of nothingness. At best this soteriology of Athanasios is sloppy. However, if interpreted that man is naturally corrupt in a relative manner I would have no objections to the essence of Athanasios' soteriology, for it implies a consistant human nature before and after the fall, with the only changes being presented in terms of justifying grace. He is sufficiently prudent as to avoid any indication of ontological change from the fall.

While Athanasios was a great theologian from the School of Alexandria, he was a bit late in said school and as such a few judaizing influences can be found in his thought, which were absent in his intellectual predecessors.

Of course, I'm sure you could find several fathers to support your position if you look hard enough, and I can find several to support mine. Ultimately, this is not a dogmatic issue as it was not clearly defined in the Oecumenical Synods. These are issues of theologumena...so even though I find the opinion that unbaptized babies do not inherit the kingdom of God to be more blasphemous and less palatable than human sacrifice, I dont get to anathematize you for it Wink
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« Reply #83 on: December 30, 2006, 01:46:12 AM »

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

So you have managed to place the Divine in these nice little catagories... interesting.

A humble knowledge of yourself is a surer way to God than an extensive search after knowledge. - Thomas a Kempis

I do believe you are too much of a Philosopher and not enough of a God-Seer.

I am honoured by your granting me the most revered title of Philosopher; however, though I strive towards that goal I doubt I have yet reached it.

But, of course, that is the context of this, or any, theological discussion...if your concern is spirituality I suggest you stop debating the details of theology, soteriology, and eschatology and, instead, dedicate your time to prayer and fasting...leave the debates to the seculars, as they have traditionally been.

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Poetic expressions sometimes hide the greatest truths. But again I ask:

Yes, they do, but I submit to you that these poetic expressions contain more truths about humility than soteriology.

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But you would argue that we are 'generally' good...  Roll Eyes

I dont believe I need make an argument, it seems self evident. Ignore your theology and religious biases for one second and look at the world at large, sure there is evil, but people generally do that which is good, regardless of religion, philosophy, or culture.

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I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God's power to save all who believe...

And I have complete confidence in the Gospel; that all will eventually come to eternal life...and I would even go so far as to say that if God can not effect this He is not God, or at the very least that He is not a God worthy of our respect or worship.

Of course, now we're getting into the issue of Apokatastasis.

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Perhaps it is not a 'common' sense which is needed?

If your religious beliefs contradict our observed reality, I would strongly recommend reconsidering your religious beliefs. I do not believe that our God is so weak as to be dependent on lies and half-truths.
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« Reply #84 on: December 30, 2006, 01:47:32 AM »

Of course, I'm sure you could find several fathers to support your position if you look hard enough, and I can find several to support mine. Ultimately, this is not a dogmatic issue as it was not clearly defined in the Oecumenical Synods. These are issues of theologumena...so even though I find the opinion that unbaptized babies do not inherit the kingdom of God to be more blasphemous and less palatable than human sacrifice, I dont get to anathematize you for it Wink

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

Be content in knowing that the 'official' position in the Catholic Church is:

The faithful are permitted "to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism" (CCC 1261).

I can quote all the Latin Fathers throughout history but it all ends right there... with hope.

Gratia et pax, me amice.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2006, 01:56:41 AM by francis-christopher » Logged

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« Reply #85 on: December 30, 2006, 01:58:54 AM »

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

Be content in knowing that the 'official' position in the Catholic Church is:

The faithful are permitted "to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism" (CCC 1261).

I can quote all the Latin Fathers throughout history but it all end right there...

Gratia et pax, me amice.

From your perspective that is true, but then from my perspective these statements are irrelevant as they are not from my Church, and the Orthodox Church has relegated this issue to one of theologumena.
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« Reply #86 on: December 30, 2006, 02:05:51 AM »

From your perspective that is true, but then from my perspective these statements are irrelevant as they are not from my Church, and the Orthodox Church has relegated this issue to one of theologumena.

As the Catholic Church has---limbo, after all these centuries, remains only a theological opinion.

We don't define and dogmatize EVERYTHING.  Wink

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« Reply #87 on: December 30, 2006, 02:11:47 AM »

From your perspective that is true, but then from my perspective these statements are irrelevant as they are not from my Church, and the Orthodox Church has relegated this issue to one of theologumena.

What is theologumena other than one mans hope not denied by another?
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Francisce-Christophorus

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« Reply #88 on: December 30, 2006, 02:14:37 AM »

As the Catholic Church has---limbo, after all these centuries, remains only a theological opinion.

We don't define and dogmatize EVERYTHING.  Wink

And if I recall properly, His Holiness the Pope has not spoken favourably of this particular 'theological opinion.' While we may not agree on matters of original sin, it would appear that my belief concerning the salvation of unbaptized infants is far closer to the current opinion of Rome than that of other posters here Wink
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« Reply #89 on: December 30, 2006, 02:24:17 AM »

You're right, Benedict is not very keen on damnation or limbo of unbaptized infants.
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