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Author Topic: The Protestant doctrine of "sinless perfection"  (Read 1966 times) Average Rating: 0
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ignatios
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« on: September 14, 2009, 08:21:41 AM »

As some of you might know there is a Protestant doctrine, found particularly in Wesleyan circles, that man may become perfect or without sin in this life. I realize the terminology of "perfection" is inherently ambiguous and cumbersome, but what is the Orthodox view of this, especially in light of our most Glorious Lady's innocence? How might the Fathers approach this subject? How does this relate to theosis and the future transfiguration?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2009, 08:27:04 AM by ignatios » Logged
PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2009, 10:32:30 AM »

One key difference that we have with this Wesleyan doctrine as it is understood by some of the Wesleyan denominations (e.g., the Church of the Nazarene) is that we don't believe in entire sanctification as a second at-one-moment work of grace.
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2009, 05:03:16 PM »

As some of you might know there is a Protestant doctrine, found particularly in Wesleyan circles, that man may become perfect or without sin in this life. I realize the terminology of "perfection" is inherently ambiguous and cumbersome, but what is the Orthodox view of this, especially in light of our most Glorious Lady's innocence? How might the Fathers approach this subject? How does this relate to theosis and the future transfiguration?

Thanks.
"Perfection" refers to the will: one no longer desires, or wills, to sin. Wesleyans allow for the reality of sin while perfected, if such a sin is due to ignorance or some other non-will factor.
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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2009, 07:09:46 AM »

So, do we  believe in the possible perfection of the will for all during this lifetime?  Does anyone know of any Fathers that speak of this, and where I might find it?
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2009, 12:39:13 PM »

So, do we  believe in the possible perfection of the will for all during this lifetime?  Does anyone know of any Fathers that speak of this, and where I might find it?
John Wesley thought such perfection was a reality for some in this lifetime. It was a possibility for all, though not all took up the challenge.
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In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2009, 01:08:37 PM »

John Wesley thought such perfection was a reality for some in this lifetime. It was a possibility for all, though not all took up the challenge.
When I attended a Bible college in the Wesleyan tradition, we were taught that "All men may be saved; all men may know they are saved; All men may attain unto Christian perfection". Of course, we spent hours learning what all that meant.

As an earlier post points out, the definition of sin is important. At the same school we were taught that "sin is a wilful transgression of the known law of God". It is the Wesleyan teaching of "entire sanctification" (a.k.a. Christian perfection, perfect love, etc.) that addresses the sin condition, as opposed to sinful behaviours.

I really didn't find the transition to the Orthodox understanding of theosis a big leap; in fact, since the Orthodox Church gives us the tools to deal with our sinful state much more concretely than Wesleyan/holiness churches, it was actually a factor in drawing me into the Church.
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2009, 10:06:55 AM »

I wanted to add my two cents. My understanding of John Wesley was that the Holy Spirit continues to work within us, that we may, by God's grace and our co-operation, be made perfect in love in this life. That meant being in a moment where your will is entirely directed by love, assisted by the grace of God. I believe Wesley appreciated the term "theosis," partly due to his exposure to the early monastics, particularly St. Macarius.
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ignatios
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2009, 07:27:18 AM »

Thanks, everyone, for your replies. This helps a lot.
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