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Author Topic: I don't understand the Evangelical mindset - never have, never will!!  (Read 42566 times) Average Rating: 0
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David Young
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« Reply #225 on: December 19, 2009, 09:17:18 AM »

I saw God working in my life before I ever found Orthodoxy. Finding the Church was both a culmination of events and the beginning of a new journey.

May God richly bless you therein throughout life's journey!

I am fascinated by your 'nom de plume'. Germanus was a saint whose ministry was significant in the area where I live (in exile, being myself from Wessex), judging by the number of places named after him; germane and German I understand; but what is germain? (Perhaps it is out of order to ask. No reply is required of course.)
« Last Edit: December 19, 2009, 09:18:17 AM by David Young » Logged

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« Reply #226 on: December 19, 2009, 02:49:15 PM »

The word means "related, relevant," and comes to English via French, whence the spelling.  The name Germanus/Herman/Germain means, "a relative."
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« Reply #227 on: December 19, 2009, 02:57:43 PM »

This is why citing Holy Tradition is a circular argument. I will now say,

'And how do you know the Chain of Succession wasn't broken; I think you've drifted a fair way in spirit'

And you will say something like:
'No, we haven't, we have unbroken continuity through Apostolic Succession, we can prove it, there are records'

And I will reply:

'Yes, but the historical data don't prove the presence of the Spirit'

And we're back to square one.


Greekchef said something along the lines of (too lazy to go back and look!) that we can show from historical records that the Orthodox Church, the people, have believed the same things throughout the ages. That is why using Holy Tradition is not necessarily a circular argument. Holy Tradition is what the Church has believed, preached and taught, at all times and in all places, to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins.

If that, and the ability to remain faithful in the face of death and some of the worst persecution Christians have ever faced, doesn't at least suggest the presence of the Holy Spirit, then y'all are awfully hard to please!


But how can we really know what people believed?
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« Reply #228 on: December 19, 2009, 03:30:46 PM »

This is why citing Holy Tradition is a circular argument. I will now say,

'And how do you know the Chain of Succession wasn't broken; I think you've drifted a fair way in spirit'

And you will say something like:
'No, we haven't, we have unbroken continuity through Apostolic Succession, we can prove it, there are records'

And I will reply:

'Yes, but the historical data don't prove the presence of the Spirit'

And we're back to square one.


Greekchef said something along the lines of (too lazy to go back and look!) that we can show from historical records that the Orthodox Church, the people, have believed the same things throughout the ages. That is why using Holy Tradition is not necessarily a circular argument. Holy Tradition is what the Church has believed, preached and taught, at all times and in all places, to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins.

If that, and the ability to remain faithful in the face of death and some of the worst persecution Christians have ever faced, doesn't at least suggest the presence of the Holy Spirit, then y'all are awfully hard to please!


But how can we really know what people believed?
through the teachings of the Holy Fathers. and utilizing their approach of consensus (what was believed everywhere, by everyone, at all times.)
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« Reply #229 on: December 19, 2009, 03:52:57 PM »

This is why citing Holy Tradition is a circular argument. I will now say,

'And how do you know the Chain of Succession wasn't broken; I think you've drifted a fair way in spirit'

And you will say something like:
'No, we haven't, we have unbroken continuity through Apostolic Succession, we can prove it, there are records'

And I will reply:

'Yes, but the historical data don't prove the presence of the Spirit'

And we're back to square one.


Greekchef said something along the lines of (too lazy to go back and look!) that we can show from historical records that the Orthodox Church, the people, have believed the same things throughout the ages. That is why using Holy Tradition is not necessarily a circular argument. Holy Tradition is what the Church has believed, preached and taught, at all times and in all places, to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins.

If that, and the ability to remain faithful in the face of death and some of the worst persecution Christians have ever faced, doesn't at least suggest the presence of the Holy Spirit, then y'all are awfully hard to please!


But how can we really know what people believed?
through the teachings of the Holy Fathers. and utilizing their approach of consensus (what was believed everywhere, by everyone, at all times.)

But you can only make a good guess, surely? On this forum, it's clear that people will agree with a statement (say, 'I believe in the communion of saints'), but they will differ, sometimes quite significantly, in the ways in which they will expand upon that statement. And, even if people pay lip service (in documents and accounts) to a certain kind of faith, how can we tell that it is the same faith their forefathers had? And how can we tell whether the Spirit is still present?
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« Reply #230 on: December 19, 2009, 04:32:43 PM »


Ok, but how does that affect the question? At some point - whether before or after - a decision is made saying, 'these things have no bearing on Orthodox essentials'. That's fine, but how is this decision qualitatively different from the decision my Church makes when She says, 'we don't think that gender has a bearing on a person's vocation and capacity to be a priest'? Bear in mind that I'm still trying to understand why some Orthodox are so keen to say that their Church never changes, so citing Holy Tradition doesn't really make a lot of sense here.

One reason it's different is because Scripturally and historically there is no support for women priests, also the Orthodox Church has a different understanding of the nature and function of the priesthood (which, trust me, is a whole 'nother thread!).
And why doesn't citing Holy Tradition make a lot of sense? Please explain, if you want to. Could you perhaps explain what you think Holy Tradition is? I have a sneaking suspicion that may be part of the problem.

I expect you're right. My understand of Holy Tradition is that it is a kind of repository of sound interpretation and doctrine, and the process whereby the holiest and wisest Fathers have been able to determine what the Church's stance should be.

So, as I understand it, Holy Tradition is built on the premise that the Orthodox Church is the One True Church, in which correct interpretation prevails. Holy Tradition is dependent upon the existence of the Church. I expect, given your response, that I'm wrong somewhere here. The reason, obviously, that I was saying citing Holy Tradition didn't help was that in my understanding, it is a product of the Church, and I'm trying to work out why the Truth of the Church is sometimes considered to be proven by the historical data regarding Her continuity.
Great Questions KOD!
And Liz - Your patience and pragmatism are refreshing  Smiley!
On another thread, I just posted a scripture which directly corresponds to this thread - luke 24:27
and to boot I'll give you this one - Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Source Orthowiki - http://orthodoxwiki.org/Holy_Tradition
"Unlike many conceptions of tradition in popular understanding, the Orthodox Church does not regard Holy Tradition as something which grows and expands over time, forming a collection of practices and doctrines which accrue, gradually becoming something more developed and eventually unrecognizable to the first Christians. Rather, Holy Tradition is that same faith which Christ taught to the Apostles and which they gave to their disciples, preserved in the whole Church and especially in its leadership through Apostolic Succession."

So you see, there are traditions which are little "t". And there is Holy Tradition, big "T".

(Hah! KOD beat me to it!)Wink

Ah, Katherine is quick with the typing always! Btw - hope I don't jinx it, but can I take a moment to observe that we've managed to have a thread where homosexuality was mentioned and DID NOT BECOME THE MAIN SUBJECT! How cool is that?
This is why citing Holy Tradition is a circular argument. I will now say,

'And how do you know the Chain of Succession wasn't broken; I think you've drifted a fair way in spirit'

And you will say something like:
'No, we haven't, we have unbroken continuity through Apostolic Succession, we can prove it, there are records'

And I will reply:

'Yes, but the historical data don't prove the presence of the Spirit'

And we're back to square one.


Greekchef said something along the lines of (too lazy to go back and look!) that we can show from historical records that the Orthodox Church, the people, have believed the same things throughout the ages. That is why using Holy Tradition is not necessarily a circular argument. Holy Tradition is what the Church has believed, preached and taught, at all times and in all places, to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins.

If that, and the ability to remain faithful in the face of death and some of the worst persecution Christians have ever faced, doesn't at least suggest the presence of the Holy Spirit, then y'all are awfully hard to please!


But how can we really know what people believed?
through the teachings of the Holy Fathers. and utilizing their approach of consensus (what was believed everywhere, by everyone, at all times.)

But you can only make a good guess, surely? On this forum, it's clear that people will agree with a statement (say, 'I believe in the communion of saints'), but they will differ, sometimes quite significantly, in the ways in which they will expand upon that statement. And, even if people pay lip service (in documents and accounts) to a certain kind of faith, how can we tell that it is the same faith their forefathers had? And how can we tell whether the Spirit is still present?

And nothing about Hitler either.... I shall go away now.
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« Reply #231 on: December 19, 2009, 04:53:46 PM »

But you can only make a good guess, surely? On this forum, it's clear that people will agree with a statement (say, 'I believe in the communion of saints'), but they will differ, sometimes quite significantly, in the ways in which they will expand upon that statement. And, even if people pay lip service (in documents and accounts) to a certain kind of faith, how can we tell that it is the same faith their forefathers had? And how can we tell whether the Spirit is still present?

And nothing about Hitler either.... I shall go away now.

Huh?
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« Reply #232 on: December 19, 2009, 05:11:45 PM »

Quote
When did they decide that priests should wear vestments of the particular type worn in Orthodox Churches?
The vestments are descendant from those that the Jewish priests wore.  I'll have to get my husband on this.  He's the vestment guru.  Any of the guys on here who know him will attest to that.  He'll tell you the history, development, and purpose of each piece.  Suffice it to say that they are descendant from the Jewish vestments (which makes sense to me, considering that the apostles and early Christians would have worshiped in the way that they were comfortable and accustomed to).  They developed further because of their purposes.  Each piece had a reason for being.  

That's interesting.  If your husband's research on this is ever published, I might like to have a look at it.  Everything that I have read on the subject until now asserts that vestments evolved mainly from the dress of Roman officials and ordinary Roman civilians, and emphatically not from those worn by Jewish priests.  Of course, this is not to say that vestments do not serve a very important purpose.
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« Reply #233 on: December 19, 2009, 05:57:37 PM »

The vestments are, indeed, based on the design of clothing worn by the Roman upper classes.  The reason for using them harks back to the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai.
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« Reply #234 on: December 19, 2009, 07:01:10 PM »

But you can only make a good guess, surely? On this forum, it's clear that people will agree with a statement (say, 'I believe in the communion of saints'), but they will differ, sometimes quite significantly, in the ways in which they will expand upon that statement. And, even if people pay lip service (in documents and accounts) to a certain kind of faith, how can we tell that it is the same faith their forefathers had? And how can we tell whether the Spirit is still present?

And nothing about Hitler either.... I shall go away now.

Huh?

Sorry.. I thought the joke was obvious..

Someone said that the thread had not degenerated or been side tracked when Hoomosexuality was mentioned.  Another sign that a thread has degenerated is when people compare those they are debating with Hitler or call them Nazi's
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« Reply #235 on: December 19, 2009, 07:01:47 PM »

But how can we really know what people believed?

Has no-one considered the liturgical and iconographic deposit of the Orthodox Church? So central, yet so often ignored.
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« Reply #236 on: December 19, 2009, 07:09:01 PM »

But how can we really know what people believed?

Has no-one considered the liturgical and iconographic deposit of the Orthodox Church? So central, yet so often ignored.
Please explain LBK...This is one of the least talked about subjects when proving the historical authenticity of the Church.
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« Reply #237 on: December 21, 2009, 10:58:17 AM »

This is why citing Holy Tradition is a circular argument. I will now say,

'And how do you know the Chain of Succession wasn't broken; I think you've drifted a fair way in spirit'

And you will say something like:
'No, we haven't, we have unbroken continuity through Apostolic Succession, we can prove it, there are records'

And I will reply:

'Yes, but the historical data don't prove the presence of the Spirit'

And we're back to square one.


Greekchef said something along the lines of (too lazy to go back and look!) that we can show from historical records that the Orthodox Church, the people, have believed the same things throughout the ages. That is why using Holy Tradition is not necessarily a circular argument. Holy Tradition is what the Church has believed, preached and taught, at all times and in all places, to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins.

If that, and the ability to remain faithful in the face of death and some of the worst persecution Christians have ever faced, doesn't at least suggest the presence of the Holy Spirit, then y'all are awfully hard to please!


But how can we really know what people believed?
through the teachings of the Holy Fathers. and utilizing their approach of consensus (what was believed everywhere, by everyone, at all times.)

But you can only make a good guess, surely? On this forum, it's clear that people will agree with a statement (say, 'I believe in the communion of saints'), but they will differ, sometimes quite significantly, in the ways in which they will expand upon that statement. And, even if people pay lip service (in documents and accounts) to a certain kind of faith, how can we tell that it is the same faith their forefathers had? And how can we tell whether the Spirit is still present?

It's the same with Scripture - people may have different understandings (after all, we all bring different culture, experiences, knowledge, biases etc. with us) and especially if we "proof-text" one part of Scripture or the Fathers or the other. However, if we read both Scripture and the Fathers in context and especially in the context of what the Church has historically believed, preached, taught and practiced, there is a remarkable consistency and continuity.
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« Reply #238 on: December 28, 2009, 07:22:02 AM »

I could turn the title of this thread round and confess to not understanding the Orthodox mindset, despite many months on the forum. I think I have come to a much clearer understanding of your doctrines – why you believe yours is the true church, Holy Tradition, the perpetual virginity of Mary, prayer to the saints, apostolic succession, infant baptism, the nature of the Eucharist, and probably other beliefs. But I do not feel I have penetrated your piety, spirituality, experience - not your Faith, but your faith.

What I cannot grasp is your concept of salvation being other than “by grace alone” – one of the three solas to be repudiated, according to a recent post on the Evangelical Christmas thread. I am probably not grasping what you are saying.

Whether or not it is relevant here I cannot say, but not all that long ago I tried to explore the teaching on merit with a Catholic nun, but she only replied that this is one of the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, but was unable to explain it.

I seem to have read somewhere that Catholics teach that there is no merit in any of our works, but that God in grace had decided to regard them as if they did in fact carry merit. That at least made some sense, but it may be far from your teachings. I do not know.

You see, occasionally I manage to do something good for no other reason (that I am aware of) than that God requires it: a purely religious motive, out of sheer obedience to God. But most of the time, if I assess my life, it seems shabby and almost unrelievedly substandard. But because as an Evangelical I see myself as a wretched and guilty sinner saved only by grace, only through faith, my lack of satisfactory performance as a Christian does not disturb my sense of security in God’s love, or awareness of  my status as a saved man.

But I get the impression (maybe mistakenly) that you believe that your good works have a contribution to make towards your salvation, and that is what I have so far been unable to understand. It is an idea that is entirely dark to me, closed, curtained off. I suppose if it were explained clearly I might be able to grasp the doctrine, but I cannot imagine the inner spirituality which goes with it.

Put it like this: on the all-too-rare occasions when I manage to do something genuinely out of sheer obedience, maybe even love, to God, if I thought it played some contributory role towards my salvation, I might start feeling quite smug. On the other hand, by looking at my usual standard, I should be driven to despair: good-bye peace with God and the joy of salvation.  To use a colloquial phrase, I can’t work out “how you tick”; that is, I do not understand the Orthodox mindset.

I should be pleased to be enlightened.
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« Reply #239 on: December 28, 2009, 10:34:55 AM »

What I cannot grasp is your concept of salvation being other than “by grace alone” ...
...But I get the impression (maybe mistakenly) that you believe that your good works have a contribution to make towards your salvation, and that is what I have so far been unable to understand. It is an idea that is entirely dark to me, closed, curtained off. I suppose if it were explained clearly I might be able to grasp the doctrine, but I cannot imagine the inner spirituality which goes with it.


I'm not at all sure that I can enlighten anyone! However I think that the problem may lie with differing definitions of salvation. Salvation is more than one's eventual eternal destination (though that is certainly not unimportant). Salvation, in Orthodox understanding, is more than that. If you think of the word salvation carrying all the connotations of the Evangelical understanding of it, along with the idea of sanctification - all of this wrapped up in the word "salvation," then that may help. Also if you try to think of sin not necessarily as a series of wrong or bad acts or decisions, but also as a chronic though ultimately curable disease for which we are receiving treatment, through the Church and its Sacraments. Although naturally all metaphors are ultimately limited when trying to convey what God has done for us!

Salvation is the oft-quoted "God became man so that man could become God" - that is, God made it possible for us to be restored and healed, to become the people He meant us to be, through the life, sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We also have the great and unimaginable blessing of being able to cooperate with Him in this process. Or not, as the case may be.

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« Reply #240 on: December 28, 2009, 11:31:36 AM »

The reason you don't understand is because your theology is a little off and frankly a little dangerous. In society things happen a certain way. It's just that way and we can't do anything to change it. I'll give you an example. When someone works for an employer they expect to be payed after the work is done. No one is payed prier to the work being done. Naturally. Now when you tell us things like I am saved. We don't understand it because we achen it to being payed for a job we didn't do yet. If we are payed for this job why would we show up? If we are payed why work. Let us rejoice is a tool from the devil my friend. Wink
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« Reply #241 on: December 28, 2009, 11:38:03 AM »

Here's the best analogy of Orthodox salvation I could come up with. I thought of it one day, and it just "clicked".

Let's take the story of Peter getting out of the boat and walking towards Jesus.  

Peter was startled by seeing someone walking on the water. (as many sinners are startled once God reveals to them the true ugliness of their sin)

Jesus called to Peter to come to him on the water. (as God calls us towards a life in Him)

Peter, in faith, came to him. Peter obviously knew that he wouldn't be able to walk on water by his own. He knew that Jesus had to intervene.  If it wasn't for Christ, he would sink the first step he took and drown shortly thereafter. No doubt, this first step is often the most difficult because of the "leap of faith" that it requires us.

Peter then walked towards Christ.  However, once he started to notice all the waves and the storm around him, he took his focus off of Christ.  He immediately sank.  Christ was eagerly waiting for Peter to call out to him for help, which he did, and with outstretched hand, Christ immediately saved him. (This is analogous to repentance; i.e. falling down and Christ helping us back up)

Two key things here to note.  Christ did not come into the boat, grab Peter, and carry Him out onto the water (which may be similar to a Calvinistic approach to salvation) He called Peter.  Peter was free to obey or disobey. Peter obeyed, and motivated by faith, he began to walk towards Christ. The key here is that he walked. He did his part, all that he is physically able and capable to do. This is obedience to Christ, which he calls all men to. By Peter's belief in Christ, he was able to walk on the water (a clearly superhuman feat) towards Christ. This is likened to the process of theosis, drawing ever more so nearer to Christ and becoming more like Him.

In our lives, we have 3 choices:

1) Stay on the boat (ignore God's call)
2) Come out of the boat, but lose focus on Christ and eventually sink and drown
3) Come out of the boat, walk towards Christ, and when we inevitably lose focus on him, call out to him for repentance to save us so that we can continue walk our walk towards him (running the race set before us)

The view of salvation that you are espousing, David, is that we can have no part in our salvation. This is similar to saying, "I cannot walk out of the boat.  I believe that if I walk out of the boat that I won't drown, but I still am unable to. Please carry me." What would Christ say to such a thing? He would most likely say, use the legs I gave you, and walk towards me. If you sink, I'll help you. This is all Christ asks of us.  Obedience to his call, by faith, and using our God given abilities (e.g. walking) to come to Him.

The Orthodox view of salvation is synergistic.  Both God and man play a role in man's salvation. (although God's contribution is infinitely greater and more significant than ours, nevertheless he still requires that we do our part, that is walk towards Him in faith, call to Him in repentance, etc.).
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« Reply #242 on: December 28, 2009, 11:40:21 AM »


Salvation is the oft-quoted "God became man so that man could become God" - that is, God made it possible for us to be restored and healed, to become the people He meant us to be, through the life, sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We also have the great and unimaginable blessing of being able to cooperate with Him in this process. Or not, as the case may be.


[pantheistic disclaimer] Of course, God does not allow us to become who he is in essence, which is entirely unknowable to created beings.  Instead, he unites us to Him by his energies. (grace, mercy, etc.)
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« Reply #243 on: December 28, 2009, 12:22:49 PM »

I could turn the title of this thread round and confess to not understanding the Orthodox mindset, despite many months on the forum. I think I have come to a much clearer understanding of your doctrines – why you believe yours is the true church, Holy Tradition, the perpetual virginity of Mary, prayer to the saints, apostolic succession, infant baptism, the nature of the Eucharist, and probably other beliefs. But I do not feel I have penetrated your piety, spirituality, experience - not your Faith, but your faith.

What I cannot grasp is your concept of salvation being other than “by grace alone” – one of the three solas to be repudiated, according to a recent post on the Evangelical Christmas thread. I am probably not grasping what you are saying.

Whether or not it is relevant here I cannot say, but not all that long ago I tried to explore the teaching on merit with a Catholic nun, but she only replied that this is one of the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, but was unable to explain it.

I seem to have read somewhere that Catholics teach that there is no merit in any of our works, but that God in grace had decided to regard them as if they did in fact carry merit. That at least made some sense, but it may be far from your teachings. I do not know.

You see, occasionally I manage to do something good for no other reason (that I am aware of) than that God requires it: a purely religious motive, out of sheer obedience to God. But most of the time, if I assess my life, it seems shabby and almost unrelievedly substandard. But because as an Evangelical I see myself as a wretched and guilty sinner saved only by grace, only through faith, my lack of satisfactory performance as a Christian does not disturb my sense of security in God’s love, or awareness of  my status as a saved man.

But I get the impression (maybe mistakenly) that you believe that your good works have a contribution to make towards your salvation, and that is what I have so far been unable to understand. It is an idea that is entirely dark to me, closed, curtained off. I suppose if it were explained clearly I might be able to grasp the doctrine, but I cannot imagine the inner spirituality which goes with it.

Put it like this: on the all-too-rare occasions when I manage to do something genuinely out of sheer obedience, maybe even love, to God, if I thought it played some contributory role towards my salvation, I might start feeling quite smug. On the other hand, by looking at my usual standard, I should be driven to despair: good-bye peace with God and the joy of salvation.  To use a colloquial phrase, I can’t work out “how you tick”; that is, I do not understand the Orthodox mindset.

I should be pleased to be enlightened.


I believe part of your confusion lies in your understanding of "works." Works are not just limited to doing charitable deeds (which of course, are always encouraged) but also the participation of the sacraments, prayer, fasting, and reading of scriptures.

In baptism, chrismation, the receiving of the Holy Eucharist, Holy unction (prayers of healing and annointing of oil), marriage, and ordination, we are receiving the life-giving spirit of our Lord. (Obviously not all of us are privy to marriage and ordination, and they are obviously not required for salvation, however they are beneficial to the soul nevertheless.)

In St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he writes, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, New King James Version)

As anyone who has watched the summer Olympics or participated in Track & Field in High School knows, a race is not won in a single step. Nor is it won in a single day. It is months of training, planning, discipline, and endurance that enables one to win a race.

It is the same with the state of our souls.

Just as a runner trains under the guidance of a coach and trainer to discipline the mind and the body, the Orthodox Christian "trains" under the guidance of their Spiritual Father and through prayer, faith, fasting, and participation in the sacraments works towards winning the Race for Eternal Salvation.

This is what we mean by "works."
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« Reply #244 on: December 28, 2009, 10:46:06 PM »

I could turn the title of this thread round and confess to not understanding the Orthodox mindset, despite many months on the forum. I think I have come to a much clearer understanding of your doctrines – why you believe yours is the true church, Holy Tradition, the perpetual virginity of Mary, prayer to the saints, apostolic succession, infant baptism, the nature of the Eucharist, and probably other beliefs. But I do not feel I have penetrated your piety, spirituality, experience - not your Faith, but your faith.

What I cannot grasp is your concept of salvation being other than “by grace alone” – one of the three solas to be repudiated, according to a recent post on the Evangelical Christmas thread. I am probably not grasping what you are saying.

Whether or not it is relevant here I cannot say, but not all that long ago I tried to explore the teaching on merit with a Catholic nun, but she only replied that this is one of the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, but was unable to explain it.

I seem to have read somewhere that Catholics teach that there is no merit in any of our works, but that God in grace had decided to regard them as if they did in fact carry merit. That at least made some sense, but it may be far from your teachings. I do not know.

You see, occasionally I manage to do something good for no other reason (that I am aware of) than that God requires it: a purely religious motive, out of sheer obedience to God. But most of the time, if I assess my life, it seems shabby and almost unrelievedly substandard. But because as an Evangelical I see myself as a wretched and guilty sinner saved only by grace, only through faith, my lack of satisfactory performance as a Christian does not disturb my sense of security in God’s love, or awareness of  my status as a saved man.

But I get the impression (maybe mistakenly) that you believe that your good works have a contribution to make towards your salvation, and that is what I have so far been unable to understand. It is an idea that is entirely dark to me, closed, curtained off. I suppose if it were explained clearly I might be able to grasp the doctrine, but I cannot imagine the inner spirituality which goes with it.

Put it like this: on the all-too-rare occasions when I manage to do something genuinely out of sheer obedience, maybe even love, to God, if I thought it played some contributory role towards my salvation, I might start feeling quite smug. On the other hand, by looking at my usual standard, I should be driven to despair: good-bye peace with God and the joy of salvation.  To use a colloquial phrase, I can’t work out “how you tick”; that is, I do not understand the Orthodox mindset.

I should be pleased to be enlightened.


Our views of Salvation is a key difference between us. We see your idea as highly legalistic. A deal is struck with the Lord. There is an exchange of value. You give your consent and God grants you entrance into some form of eternal life ( the concept of Eternal Life to Protestants seems to vary from sect to sect).

Orthodox Christians see Salvation as a process of Theosis, becoming like Christ. The hope is  that we are made worthy to be with God in the afterlife and experience his energies......
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« Reply #245 on: December 29, 2009, 07:53:50 AM »

The hope is  that we are made worthy to be with God in the afterlife and experience his energies

But that is what I cannot understand. I hasten to add that I am not being awkward or polemical, but striving to understand what you mean. How can you think about being worthy without either becoming smug, because you reckon you're doing pretty well, or despairing, because you reckon you are failing miserably? As Evangelicals we look to Christ and his merits alone to save us, but you come over as if you are looking - partly at least - to your own merits. This is why our sceme is sometimes called sola gratia (with long a's, meaning "only by grace").

Other things, which the previous post (Handmaiden, I seem to remember) says you call "works", are largely done by us also, such as baptism, the Lord's Supper, fasting (though this is usually done in secret, so I do not know how many actually do it), works of mercy, etc etc, and of course they contribute to our growth towards maturity as believers, to our conformity with the image of Christ, but they flow out of our salvation ("work out your salvation with fear and trembling"), from gratitude, love, obedience to God. God has also graciously promised to reward faithful service, so they lead to rewards (in addition to salvation itself) in eternity, usually viewed in terms of the privilege of greater service for the Lord. But salvation, to us, is a gift purchased solely by Christ's merits, and received solely through faith.

Can you at least see why we fail to understand you? And why so many Evangelicals make the assumption that you are not really saved at all? If you can bear to, please try again to make me understand you!

I also hasten to add that this has nothing to do with a belief in OSAS (once saved, always saved), which is a quite different matter, as I may attempt to explain later.
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« Reply #246 on: December 29, 2009, 09:16:33 AM »

...How can you think about being worthy without either becoming smug, because you reckon you're doing pretty well, or despairing, because you reckon you are failing miserably? As Evangelicals we look to Christ and his merits alone to save us, but you come over as if you are looking - partly at least - to your own merits....
Other things, which the previous post (Handmaiden, I seem to remember) says you call "works", are largely done by us also, such as baptism, the Lord's Supper, fasting..., works of mercy, etc etc, and of course they contribute to our growth towards maturity as believers, to our conformity with the image of Christ, but they flow out of our salvation ("work out your salvation with fear and trembling"), from gratitude, love, obedience to God. God has also graciously promised to reward faithful service, so they lead to rewards (in addition to salvation itself) in eternity, usually viewed in terms of the privilege of greater service for the Lord. But salvation, to us, is a gift purchased solely by Christ's merits, and received solely through faith.

I understand exactly what you mean by the two extremes of smugness and despair. As Orthodox Christians, we are keenly aware that we live between two worlds - even the physical arrangement of our churches teaches us that. This tension plays out in many aspects of our devotional life. Every morning I pray, "O God, cleanse me, a sinner, for I have never done anything good in Thy sight; deliver me from the evil one, and may thy will be in me, that I may open my unworthy mouth without condemnation, and praise Thy holy Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen."
"...never done anything good" reminds me that I can't please God out of my own merits, but does that mean I can never do anything that pleases Him? No, certainly not. Have you ever had a three-year old bring you his crayon drawn masterpiece? It's not worthy of a place in a major art gallery - but someday his drawings may become that as that child grows and matures.

And David, that's precisely what my salvation is all about - that I will become the man God created me to be: free from my own sin and "the evil things of this world" (from another daily prayer). I recognize my immaturity but know that I must not fall into despair because of what Jesus Christ is doing for and in me. I follow the instructions that are given to me - the works that you referred to earlier - because they teach me what I need to do in order to grow as a Christian. Like you, my salvation ultimately depends solely on the mercy of God.
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« Reply #247 on: December 29, 2009, 10:12:52 AM »

I understand exactly what you mean by the two extremes of smugness and despair. As Orthodox Christians, we are keenly aware that we live between two worlds - even the physical arrangement of our churches teaches us that. This tension plays out in many aspects of our devotional life. Every morning I pray, "O God, cleanse me, a sinner, for I have never done anything good in Thy sight; deliver me from the evil one, and may thy will be in me, that I may open my unworthy mouth without condemnation, and praise Thy holy Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen."
"...never done anything good" reminds me that I can't please God out of my own merits, but does that mean I can never do anything that pleases Him? No, certainly not. Have you ever had a three-year old bring you his crayon drawn masterpiece? It's not worthy of a place in a major art gallery - but someday his drawings may become that as that child grows and matures.

And David, that's precisely what my salvation is all about - that I will become the man God created me to be: free from my own sin and "the evil things of this world" (from another daily prayer). I recognize my immaturity but know that I must not fall into despair because of what Jesus Christ is doing for and in me. I follow the instructions that are given to me - the works that you referred to earlier - because they teach me what I need to do in order to grow as a Christian. Like you, my salvation ultimately depends solely on the mercy of God.

Beautifully put!
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« Reply #248 on: December 29, 2009, 11:00:14 AM »

And David, that's precisely what my salvation is all about - that I will become the man God created me to be: free from my own sin and "the evil things of this world" (from another daily prayer). I recognize my immaturity but know that I must not fall into despair because of what Jesus Christ is doing for and in me. I follow the instructions that are given to me - the works that you referred to earlier - because they teach me what I need to do in order to grow as a Christian. Like you, my salvation ultimately depends solely on the mercy of God.

Amen!
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« Reply #249 on: December 29, 2009, 11:36:20 AM »



But that is what I cannot understand. I hasten to add that I am not being awkward or polemical, but striving to understand what you mean. How can you think about being worthy without either becoming smug, because you reckon you're doing pretty well, or despairing, because you reckon you are failing miserably? As Evangelicals we look to Christ and his merits alone to save us, but you come over as if you are looking - partly at least - to your own merits. This is why our sceme is sometimes called sola gratia (with long a's, meaning "only by grace").



Our pride is suppressed by submitting to the authority of our spiritual father. OTOH, David, I would find it difficult not to be prideful if I read the bible and thought that my interpretation is superior than those who have gone long before me and who were much holier than I. This is exactly what the Baptists or any other evangelical sect do, who ignore/deny the teachings and biblical interpretations of the early church fathers. In fact, I have seen this type of smugness all too often about having the "right interpretation" (often about things that don't matter to our salvation, such as eschatology), even amongst my own family members. How could one not be prideful when possessing the power to be your own pope?
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« Reply #250 on: December 29, 2009, 04:15:19 PM »

Just read this and it reminded me of this thread:
“…When God created humanity He didn’t finish the job. As Orthodox Christians we believe that humanity was created in the image of God according to His likeness. In other words, we were a “work in progress” waiting for completion by God...Unity with God, or being in communion with God, is what life is all about. Communion with God is at the very center of our theology and has been the kernel of Christian doctrine from the very first days of the Church and we achieve communion by being baptized, chrismated and receiving Holy Communion. Jesus said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in My, and I in him.” (John 6.56) We are joined to Christ in our Baptism and maintain that unity in Holy Communion.

…Today we celebrate the birth of God my dear brothers and sisters and we have been welcomed into His House for all eternity. Today we celebrate with the Magi and bow down and worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Today God has saved us from the turmoil and oppression of a world that hates God. Today God has saved us from our sinful desires and granted us the blessing to become partakers of His divine nature. And that….is a reason to celebrate!
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« Reply #251 on: December 29, 2009, 04:50:46 PM »

I should be pleased to be enlightened.
Simple. We are saved by Grace through Faith expressed in Works.
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« Reply #252 on: December 29, 2009, 05:39:20 PM »

One other thing, David. I believe you previously mentioned that you do not subscribe to the "OSAS" doctrine of salvation (Once Saved, Always Saved). That is, you believe one must persevere in the faith in order to obtain grace leading to salvation; a simple one time proclamation is not sufficient. Yet, you also say that one is saved apart from any action on their own or cooperation with the grace of God.

Now, I think you would agree that faith without action is dead (or useless). Therefore, one must possess an active faith (that is, faith which leads to good works) in order to be saved. If this is so, how then is one's faith not justified (or made effective) by their actions (or, how they live out the faith)?

Secondly, isn't persevering in the faith considered a "work" in of itself, strictly speaking? Surely we are not to passively wait for God to provide us with faith; we have to work (or cooperate with Him) to obtain it, do we not?
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« Reply #253 on: December 29, 2009, 06:12:19 PM »

One other thing, David. I believe you previously mentioned that you do not subscribe to the "OSAS" doctrine of salvation (Once Saved, Always Saved). That is, you believe one must persevere in the faith in order to obtain grace leading to salvation; a simple one time proclamation is not sufficient. Yet, you also say that one is saved apart from any action on their own or cooperation with the grace of God.

Now, I think you would agree that faith without action is dead (or useless). Therefore, one must possess an active faith (that is, faith which leads to good works) in order to be saved. If this is so, how then is one's faith not justified (or made effective) by their actions (or, how they live out the faith)?

Secondly, isn't persevering in the faith considered a "work" in of itself, strictly speaking? Surely we are not to passively wait for God to provide us with faith; we have to work (or cooperate with Him) to obtain it, do we not?

That is a really good point, that faith itself is a 'work'. Maybe if we thought of the need to strive (rather than to 'work'), it would be more convincing to people of David's persuasion? I mean, I certainly don't see 'good works' as necessarily being outwardly obvious - sometimes it's a great good work to reform your own impulses and try to live a more godly life. It's unfortunate that the word 'work' doesn't carry the same connotations in modern English (pace Philip Larkin) as, say, 'laborare' does in Latin.

Maybe I should put this on the language forum, but are there more satisfying words than 'work' in other Christian languages? What connotations does the phrase 'good works' have in Greek or Russian, anyone know?
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« Reply #254 on: December 29, 2009, 07:16:12 PM »

I think the problem (David's inability to understand the Orthodox position or piety) stems from differing understandings of the words and concepts that have been bandied about. I looked up the Wikipedia article on justification and found out that, except for OSAS Baptists, everybody else believes that, however one defines justification, there is always a life-long effort (labor/working/process) of making sure that one does not throw away one's salvation. In short, the beginning makes the end real for the believer but does not ensure it. We only have the assurance that--to put it in David's terminology--once we are saved we have the assurance that our faith and resultant efforts will eventually result in the full realization of our salvation. In this instance, Ortho-cat's example of Peter walking on water is truly a great practical example of what I am talking about. As with Peter, there is nothing that we do that justifies us. As with Peter, we are saved from drowning only through God's grace and our faith. God's grace underlines all but is not the only factor: Peter had to believe and walk on that water and, once his faith or attention faltered, had to believe yet again. He had to continue to strive, to work, to labor, to be an actor in the unfolding drama of his salvation.

I must say to David that you may be struggling so much in understanding our POV (which ever so close to yours) because you are approaching a major decision point: do I or do I not let my fascination with Orthodoxy bloom into something more than  intellectual ruminations and jousting?
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« Reply #255 on: December 29, 2009, 07:41:03 PM »

I should be pleased to be enlightened.
Simple. We are saved by Grace through Faith expressed in Works.

Synergism: Working together, the act of cooperation. In referring to the New Testament, synergism is the idea of being "workers together with" God (2Cor 6:1); or of working "out our own salvation...for it is God who works in you" (Phil 2:12-13). This is not a cooperation between "equals", but finite man working together with Almighty God. Nor does synergism suggest working for, or earning, salvation. God offers salvation by His grace and man's ability to cooperate also is a grace. Therefore, man responds to salvation through cooperation with God's grace in a living faith, righteous works and rejection of evil (James 2:14-26).  (From the Glossary of the Orthodox Study Bible)

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« Reply #256 on: December 29, 2009, 07:51:58 PM »

I should be pleased to be enlightened.
Simple. We are saved by Grace through Faith expressed in Works.

You're very close. But then you're a no name laymen, so I don't expect you to get things exactly right  Tongue
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« Reply #257 on: December 29, 2009, 08:19:08 PM »

Quote
Can you at least see why we fail to understand you? And why so many Evangelicals make the assumption that you are not really saved at all? If you can bear to, please try again to make me understand you!

Even when I was an Evangelical, I found such assumptions simply incredible. Just one look at the lives of those who made such assumptions told me they were in no position to be making them and therefore, I could no longer accept their judgments. The funny thing was, they were always too  busy calling others out for their faults to notice the sturdy logs in their own eyes. And the presumption and pomposity attending to this mentality made such people so difficult to be around as human beings-simply insufferable.
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« Reply #258 on: December 29, 2009, 08:25:04 PM »

Quote
Can you at least see why we fail to understand you? And why so many Evangelicals make the assumption that you are not really saved at all? If you can bear to, please try again to make me understand you!

Even when I was an Evangelical, I found such assumptions simply incredible. Just one look at the lives of those who made such assumptions told me they were in no position to be making them and therefore, I could no longer accept their judgments. The funny thing was, they were always too  busy calling others out for their faults to notice the sturdy logs in their own eyes. And the presumption and pomposity attending to this mentality made such people so difficult to be around as human beings-simply insufferable.

Indeed.
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« Reply #259 on: December 29, 2009, 08:38:16 PM »

David,

These pages on the process of salvation, by Timothy Copple, might be of help.

http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A.php?c=Salvation-Blood Sacrifices and Forgiveness

http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A.php?c=Salvation-Creation and the Fall

http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A.php?c=Salvation-Faith and Works in Orthodoxy

http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A.php?c=Salvation-The Atonement
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« Reply #260 on: December 29, 2009, 09:45:43 PM »

The hope is  that we are made worthy to be with God in the afterlife and experience his energies

But that is what I cannot understand. I hasten to add that I am not being awkward or polemical, but striving to understand what you mean. How can you think about being worthy without either becoming smug, because you reckon you're doing pretty well, or despairing, because you reckon you are failing miserably? As Evangelicals we look to Christ and his merits alone to save us, but you come over as if you are looking - partly at least - to your own merits. This is why our sceme is sometimes called sola gratia (with long a's, meaning "only by grace").

Other things, which the previous post (Handmaiden, I seem to remember) says you call "works", are largely done by us also, such as baptism, the Lord's Supper, fasting (though this is usually done in secret, so I do not know how many actually do it), works of mercy, etc etc, and of course they contribute to our growth towards maturity as believers, to our conformity with the image of Christ, but they flow out of our salvation ("work out your salvation with fear and trembling"), from gratitude, love, obedience to God. God has also graciously promised to reward faithful service, so they lead to rewards (in addition to salvation itself) in eternity, usually viewed in terms of the privilege of greater service for the Lord. But salvation, to us, is a gift purchased solely by Christ's merits, and received solely through faith.

Can you at least see why we fail to understand you? And why so many Evangelicals make the assumption that you are not really saved at all? If you can bear to, please try again to make me understand you!

I also hasten to add that this has nothing to do with a belief in OSAS (once saved, always saved), which is a quite different matter, as I may attempt to explain later.

The reason why you are confused is because you are equating Hard Augustinianism with what Saint Paul said in Scripture.

Now your understanding of things is slightly different from Saint Augustine's......it's a more modified form of Saint Augustine's later ideas. But this is where you will have to start.

You should compare what was tought before the time of Saint Augustine with what Saint Augustine tought later in life. You should also compare his earlier works with his later works, as well as compering his later views to those of the East around the same time period.

Then you should look at how Protestantism differs from Saint Augustine, and how the Baptists differ from other protestants when it comes to this issue.

Then you will understand why we differ.

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« Reply #261 on: December 29, 2009, 09:58:30 PM »

That's definitely true, the whole original sin thing for instance was never ever taught in the East and Augustine was anathematized by the COE for this doctrine. The COE dealt with manichaeism in depth and saw a hint of that doctrine in Augustine's theology. From what I know the anathema was lifted as an act of goodwill by the COE (before anybody asks).
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« Reply #262 on: December 29, 2009, 10:09:15 PM »

That's definitely true, the whole original sin thing for instance was never ever taught in the East and Augustine was anathematized by the COE for this doctrine. The COE dealt with manichaeism in depth and saw a hint of that doctrine in Augustine's theology. From what I know the anathema was lifted as an act of goodwill by the COE (before anybody asks).

Hey,

You should check this out:
http://www.dissertation.com/book.php?method=ISBN&book=1581120176 (Augustine, Manichaeism and the Good)







I'm sure you will like it.










ICXC NIKA
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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

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« Reply #263 on: December 30, 2009, 06:20:16 AM »

I should be pleased to be enlightened.
Simple. We are saved by Grace through Faith expressed in Works.

You're very close. But then you're a no name laymen, so I don't expect you to get things exactly right  Tongue

Absolutely. My opinion is worth squat.
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« Reply #264 on: December 30, 2009, 08:16:51 AM »

I should be pleased to be enlightened.
Simple. We are saved by Grace through Faith expressed in Works.

You're very close. But then you're a no name laymen, so I don't expect you to get things exactly right  Tongue

Absolutely. My opinion is worth squat.

Well, I wouldn't say that!  Grin
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I believe in One God, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

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« Reply #265 on: December 30, 2009, 09:35:47 AM »

These posts are full of informative and stimulating material, both in what they say and in the other writings they point to. It'll take ages to digest it. If I make no immediate reply - or even if in the end no reply at all seems called for - please don't think I am ignoring your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts. Many thanks.

DMY
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« Reply #266 on: January 01, 2010, 04:16:25 AM »

We are saved by Grace through Faith expressed in Works.


Indeed! And virtually all of Evangelical &/or Protestant Christianity agrees with you as stated.  Wink Grin


Happy New Year all!
Thought I'd drop a line to let y'all know I'm still around from time to time.  Cool
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« Reply #267 on: January 01, 2010, 04:19:54 AM »

I looked up the Wikipedia article on justification and found out that, except for OSAS Baptists, everybody else believes that, however one defines justification, there is always a life-long effort (labor/working/process) of making sure that one does not throw away one's salvation.

Cue Wesley's quote in my sig line.  Wink
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« Reply #268 on: January 01, 2010, 04:34:23 AM »

From what I understand Methodists and Wesleyans have historically placed stong emphasis on a life-long sanctification; much more than any Evangelicals I have known. But then Evangelical doctrines are vastly varied, I suppose. Anyway, after reading Wesleyan views on deification, the Wesleyan doctrince of sanctification is, IIRC, very similar to and perhaps somewhat equivalent to the Orthodox concept of theosis.
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I believe in One God, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
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« Reply #269 on: January 01, 2010, 04:42:40 AM »

We are saved by Grace through Faith expressed in Works.

Indeed! And virtually all of Evangelical &/or Protestant Christianity agrees with you as stated.  Wink Grin

Happy New Year all!
Thought I'd drop a line to let y'all know I'm still around from time to time.  Cool

Happy New Year indeed Smiley  As you say, many Protestants could agree with the idea that was expressed... but for an Orthodox viewpoint, I don't think it goes far enough. Whether you talk about the cleansing of the nous, the healing of the soul, the restoring of the likeness to God, or however you want to put it, many Orthodox would argue that works are more than just an expression of something, and that they actually have an active role in the salvific process. When speaking of being justified, it makes sense to say that we cannot be saved by works, for we could never work our way to salvation on our own merits (as the epistles of Paul were talking about). But when speaking of salvation as a process of the healing/cleaning/restoring of a soul, over the course of a lifetime and beyond, then the place of works in helping that process along comes more into focus (as the epistle of James was talking about).
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Optimist: Throw enough ideas at the wall and one is bound to stick.
Pessimist: Throw enough poo at the wall and the room is bound to stink.
Realist: You don't really need to throw things at walls to solve problems.
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