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Author Topic: Unforgivable Sin in Oriental Orthodox Church  (Read 1542 times) Average Rating: 0
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dhinuus
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« on: April 19, 2008, 08:17:25 AM »

Dear Members,

Can someone please clarify my doubt about the teaching of the Oriental Orthodox Church when it comes to interpreting "Unforgivable Sin" as described in the Holy Bible.

Gospel of Matthew 12:21 says:

"Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men."  The same can be seen in Mark 3: 28-29

Furthermore Hebrews 10:26 says:

"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%2010:26-27;&version=50;

A similar idea is conveyed in Hebrews 6: 4-6 and in the First Epistle of John  5: 16-17.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%206:4-8;&version=50;
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20John%205:%2016-17;&version=50;

So here is my question..

If an Oriental Orthodox member who has received baptism, chrismation and the holy communion later leaves the church and becomes an atheist or a muslim or a hindu and willfully worships an idol, or willfully and knowingly commits adultry or even commit murder; and after many many years he repents of what he has done and want to ask forgiveness and return to the Church.

Will the church accept him back ? Or has this person, as Hebrews 10:26 says, sinned willfully afer he have received the knowledge of the truth, and there no longer remains a sacrifice (including the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord at Calvary) for sins  ?

Here is what I have seen when I searched the web, but I saw this from the perspective of a protestant pastor.

Gospel of John 6: 44  says: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day."
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%206:44;&version=50;

Again Gospel of St.John 6: 37 says: "   All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%206:37;&version=50;

The pastor says that if I had actually committed an unpardonable sin, then the Father would not have drawn me to repentance and faith in Christ. We can conclude this because we know that Jesus will not cast out anyone who comes to Him. He would have to cast me out if I were guilty of an unpardonable sin.

The pastor goes on to say: "Yes, there is an unforgivable sin, that of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit", but if you think you have done it, then you haven't.  When we get to a place where we are repenting, our repentance is, in itself, an evidence of the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit - it is not an evidence of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. "

Is the Oriental Orthodox teaching on Unforgivable Sin, same/similar to this ?

The Orthodox Study bible guides one to the Canons of the Council of Nicea and the Canons of the Council of Ancyra. The following is what I found about what the 'Council of Nicea' says about this:

Canon VIII : “If those called katharoi come over, let them first make profession that they will commune with the twice married, and to grand pardon to the lapsed.

The ‘katharoi’ are followers of Novatian a Christian priest who in AD 251 was opposed to the Holy Church, because he felt that the church was too lax in accepting the lapsed Christians (those who had denied their faith or performed the formalities of ritual sacrifices to pagan gods under pressure from Emperor Decius in AD 250). They called themselves the katharoi “the pure”. They also considered all forms of second marriage unlawful.

Canon XIV : “Concerning catechumens who have lapsed, the holy and great Synod has decreed that, after they have passed three years only as hearers, they shall pray with the catechumens.”

Canon X : “If any who have lapsed have been ordained through the ignorance, or even with the previous knowledge of the ordainers, this shall not prejudice the canon of the Church for when they are discovered they shall be deposed.”

Here is a link to the Canons of the Council of Ancyra:  http://www.synaxis.org/canon/ECF37THE_COUNCIL_OF_ANCYRA_HISTORICAL.htm

At least from Canon X of Nicea it is clear that the lapsed who have repented are not to be treated as the same as other church members. But this seems to be contradicting the "Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard" Matthew 20:1-16
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2020:1-16;&version=50;

In the parable when Our Lord talks about all laborers including the ones who joined at the eleventh hour receiving the same wage, is the interpretation that he is referring to those who have never joined the work; ie who has never heard the Gospel till the eleventh hour?

For example if a laborer started working in the vineyard at the first hour and by the fourth hour became very lazy and stopped working and quit; but he then rejoins work at the eleventh hour. Will he be permited to re-enter the workforce of the vineyard ? Will his wages be the same as the other workers ?

Does the oriental orthodox church have any teachings around this ?

I would appreciate your thoughts.. and guidance.. as I am a little confused.

In Christ,
Mathew G M
« Last Edit: April 19, 2008, 08:57:37 AM by dhinuus » Logged

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Fr.Kyrillos
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2008, 02:27:14 PM »

Dear Matthew,

I gave a small homily on this topic which can be heard here:

http://www.stdemiana.org/audio/sermons/06-24-2007%20-%20Fr%20Kyrillos%20Ibrahim%20-%20Blasphemy%20against%20the%20Holy%20Spirit%20-%20English.mp3

I pray this is consistent with the teachings of the Holy Fathers.

God bless. Pray for me.

Kyrillos
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