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Author Topic: The sinlessness of the Theotokos, John the Baptist, and the Old Testament Saints  (Read 8709 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 10, 2010, 02:53:15 PM »

I've been meditating on this thoughtful comment by Minasoliman for several days.  I think I may disagree with him, yet it's hard for me to adequately explain why.  I find the topic of grace and human freedom to be utterly perplexing and mysterious.  That Pelagius and Celestius were wrong in their views and were rightly condemned by the Church seems clear to me.  St Augustine was right to insist on the decisive priority of grace.  He also saw more deeply, I think, into the mystery of human iniquity than most of his peers.  He understood that while the Fall did not destroy humanity's freedom to choose right and wrong, it did affect humanity's love for God and thus his desire to choose the Good.  I do not feel bound to defend Augustine in all particulars.  I firmly reject his predestinarian conclusions, however logical they may appear to be.  When we are confronted with mystery, sometimes we must refuse to be logical.  It should be noted that the Latin Church as a whole refused to follow Augustine on all points, beginning with the 2nd Synod of Orange (529).  In the Council of Trent the Latin Church insisted The Latin Church further distanced itself from extreme interpretations of Augustine in its rejection of Jansenism in the 17th century.  And in the 20th and 21st centuries, the Latin Church irreversibly committed itself to the proposition that God authentically and sincerely desires the salvation of every human being, without exception.  One notable Catholic theologian has suggested that the past 1500 years may be understood as "a gradual purification of the Augustinian theology of limited predestination" (Henri Rondet, Original Sin, p. 121). 

What does Pelagianism mean to Catholics here?  For me, I always viewed Pelagianism as free will that can primarily achieve salvation, decreasing the importance of the Church sacraments and of God's grace.  But as Orthodox, we also seem to understand that St. Augustine took an extreme to fight against Pelagianism, i.e. that grace alone can primarily achieve salvation, implying that man's free will is marred completely.  I believe it was St. John Cassian who sought a balance between the two in his writings, free will and grace, where both are equally important.

Months ago, it came to my surprise when a Coptic Catholic thought I was professing Pelagianism, and it sort of made me wonder and realize exactly how different we both really were in the language and concept of grace, which required me just to stop having discussion and look at the bigger picture, something that the Eastern Orthodox realized long before Oriental Orthodox are realizing themselves.  I told him that it's possible for someone with free will to not sin.  But that doesn't mean one has achieved salvation.  Salvation does not comprise of avoidance of sin, but also a unity with God.  Mahatma Ghandi, one of the most righteous men in this contemporary world still needs the Church, still needs Christ, even though he is probably better than 99% of Christians in his life and example.  Therefore, in my argument, in my thought, the Church fathers who confessed the Theotokos as pure, undefiled, etc., were describing her righteous life, not necessarily her "state of grace" so to speak.

Minasoliman asks what does Pelagianism mean to Catholics.  I cannot speak for the Catholic Church or the Western tradition.  All I can state is my personal view.  In my opinion, the Church's rejection of Pelagianism means that man cannot, by his own efforts and works, whether moral or ascetical, save himself.  He cannot restore that which has been lost.  He cannot work his way back into Eden.  He cannot heal the disorder of his soul.  He cannot deliver himself from the oppressive power of Satan or the enslaving power of his own egotism.  He cannot, by sheer will power, will himself to love God above all other things.  He cannot defeat death.  He cannot regenerate himself by the Holy Spirit.  He cannot incorporate himself into the divine life of the Holy Trinity.  At every point we are utterly dependent upon the grace and love of God for our salvation.  In the words of our Lord, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." In the words of the Apostle Paul:  "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." 

Minasoliman states that salvation is more than avoidance of sin; it is unity with God.  I agree.  He also states that he believes that "it's possible for someone with free will to not sin."  He is thinking here particularly of the Theotokos, St John the Baptist, Old Testament saints such as Enoch and Elijah, but also pagans such as Mahatma Ghandi.  Is it possible for any free human being, at any given point of time, to obey the law of God.  For the Latin Church, I believe that the answer is yes.  Against the teachings of Luther and Calvin, the Council of Trent insisted that humanity  did not lose the capacity to choose between good and evil.  Augustine speaks of "the cruel necessity of sinning," but this necessity is not deterministic but rather statistical.  As Michael Liccione writes, "From the fact that it's inevitable that each member of the relevant population will commit some-or-other sin, it does not follow that any such member will commit any particular sin."  Our will is free, yet given the conditions into which we are born, given the evil of the world and the disorders of the heart, every human being eventually succumbs to sin.  "All have sinned," the Apostle declares, "and fallen short of the glory of God."  Is this reality not confirmed by our experience both of the world and of ourselves?

How then do we explain the "exceptions"?  Both Catholics and Orthodox agree that the Blessed Virgin Mary lived a holy and immaculate life.  Sergius Bulgakov speaks for both traditions when he writes:

Quote
In its countless divine services dedicated to the Mother of God, the Holy Orthodox Church firmly and clearly teaches the absolute sinlessness of Mary in her birth, her holy childhood and adolescence, in the Annunciation, in the birth of her Son and throughout her entire life. We shall pause at only the most important dogmatic witnesses borrowed from the services of Theotokos feasts. As is evident from these witnesses, the Most Holy Virgin is called in her very birth "Holy of Holies," "living heaven," "temple of all kings and thrones," "sole immaculate one," "the true temple pure from infancy on," "hostile to the course of sin," etc. The question arises: is the idea of any sort of assault of sin, which even some fathers of the church, and with them other orthodox theologians, allow, compatible with this veneration? Obviously not. The Mother of God was sinless, not a single attack of sin approached her most pure soul, the bearer of perfect virginity. (The Burning Bush, pp. 9-10)

A strong tradition within the Eastern Church also affirms the sinlessness of John the Forerunner. This view appears to enjoy only very limited support within the Western Church.  St Catherine of Siena and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich affirmed John's immaculate sinlessness, but I have not been able to find other Catholic testimonies in support of this position.  And as far as Enoch, Elijah and perhaps other Old Testament saints, I have not been able to confirm that mainstream Orthodoxy authoritatively teaches their perfect sinlessness.

What I felt Pelagianism lead to was that Baptism, Chrismation, the Eucharist were not necessary for out salvation.  If we were to describe salvation as PURELY salvation from our sins, we don't stand a chance to stand out against other world religions, who also profess the same.  Islam cannot claim unity with God like we do, Hinduism cannot claim integrity of creation's existence and human free will like we do,  and Buddhism, where their ascetism is noteworthy and helpful, cheapens the importance of God in our ever-existence for some self-mindful paradise, and no religion cannot claim a God Who instead of taking away suffering to tell us to endure this world for a more paradisical one, lived among us and suffered like we do, teaching us to start planting the seeds of paradise here and to rejoice in suffering.

So, I don't think it's Pelagianist to say that St. Mary didn't do any sin and lived a righteous and perfect life all the way up to her accepting freely to become the Mother of the world's One and True Salvation.  If Ghandi can do it, then practically, my views are not wrong.  And I think this may be the crux of the issue.  Way back then, when we were comparing the writings of St. Jacob of Serugh on the Theotokos, the Coptic Catholic Mardukm read it differently because of his different view on grace and salvation, that it is impossible for someone to avoid sin without grace.  While I agree it's hard, it's not impossible, given the right environment (she was after all also poor, which can explain her humility, and she is believed to grow up in the temple, which can explain her religiousness, eventually her purity), the right parents, the perfect life of prayer.  Can we say Enoch was immaculately conceived, or Elijah or Jeremiah, or St. John the Forerunner?  The Coptic Catholic, Mardukm, to maintain consistency in his personal beliefs said YES, they too were immaculately conceived, so that the Theotokos was not the only one.

Then, in that case, I really don't know what to say.  Perhaps, one can say there's a anointing by the Holy Spirit in some sort, like the anointing of Saul, so long as one can agree that as Saul didn't become what God wanted a righteous king to be, so should we give the possibility that St. Mary might have said, "No" to being the Theotokos.  Free will, in its essence of course is not taken away, but what if an IC'ed St. Mary said "No," especially since the IC was for that specific purpose, to be the Theotokos?  But can we really say God allowed St. Mary to exercise her free will when her will was driven and programmed to accept being the Theotokos because of the IC, not because of the environment she grew up in, the Temple, the holy parents, the humble background, etc.  That's like saying, Nazir Gayyid was given "the grace of celibacy" from his childhood because he was destined to be a Coptic Pope.

How do we explain the exceptional virtue of the Theotokos and John?  Minasoliman appears to be telling us that no divine explanation, no special grace is necessary.  He appears to believe that if he were to allow for this possibility, we would find ourselves trapped in determinism.  Here I think we need to be careful--at least I know I have to be careful.  We have to be careful because we all tend to think of divine activity and human activity as occurring on the same plane, as it were.  We forget that God is not an actor within the universe; he is not part of the universe; he utterly transcends it in a way we cannot imagine nor understand.  His actions, therefore, do not compete with ours.  God's gift of grace does not annul or compromise our freedom; it is the creative source of our freedom. Human agency occurs within the creative activity of God.  Hence whatever we mean when we say, for example, that we synergistically cooperate with divine grace, we cannot mean that we are pulling together on the same rope.  That would reduce God to a being within the universe.  There is real, incomprehensible mystery here.

I have found the theological reflections of Fr Herbert McCabe, O.P., helpful here.  McCabe writes:

Quote
God is not a separate and rival agent within the universe.  The creative causal power of God does not operate on me from outside, as an alternative to me; it is the creative causal power of God that makes me me.  Consider how we decide whether or not Fred acted freely in eating his left sock.  We look round to see what might have accounted for his behavior by acting upon him, we look for drugs and hypnotism and infection of the brain, we look for blind powers operating from below the level of consciousness.  What we don't do is look for God.  And this is not just because we have forgotten him or don't believe in him; it is because it would be irrelevant.  To be free means not to be under the influence of some other creature, it is to be independent of the other bits of the universal; it is not and could not mean to be independent of God.

It is, of course, our image-making that deceives us here.  However hard we try, we cannot help picturing God as an individual existent, even an individual person, making the world or controlling it like the potter making a pot or as an artist makes a statue.  But the pot is in the same world as the potter, the statue shares a studio with the sculptor.  They interact with each other.  Or, to put it the other way, the potter is outside the pot he makes, the sculptor is outside the statue. But when we come to the creator of everything that has existence, none of that could be true.  God cannot share a world with us--if he did he would have created himself.  God cannot be outside, or alongside, what he has made.  Everything only exists by being constantly held in being by him.

I am free in fact, not because God withdraws from me and leaves me my independence--as with a man who frees his slaves, or good parents who let their children come to independence--but just the other way round.  I am free because God is in a sense more directly the cause of my actions than he is of the behavior of unfree beings. … We are free not because God is absent or leaves us alone, we are free because God is more present--not of course in the sense that there is more of God there in the free being, but in the sense that there is nothing, so to say, to distract us.  God is not acting here by causing other things to cause this act, he is directly and simply himself causing it.  So God is not an alternative to freedom, he is the direct cause of freedom.  We are not free in spite of God, but because of God. (God Matters, pp. 13-14)

I will not pretend that I understand this passage, but I think that McCabe is saying something profoundly important that bears directly upon our reflections on original sin and human freedom.

To return to the question I posed above:  How do we explain the exceptional virtue of the Theotokos and John?  Were they able to give themselves to God in perfect obedience because of a special grace of God, or because, having been raised by holy parents in protected environments (Mary in the Temple, John in the wilderness), they found the strength to conquer their passions and to fully cooperate with the grace that is given to every human being?  Why must I choose between the two?  It seems to me that an adequate answer requires us to assent to both propositions. 

Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit while in the womb and leapt with joy when Mary, pregnant with the Savior, came to visit Elizabeth.  If both Mary and John were able to live lives of perfect holiness, is this not because of their unique and unsubstitutable relationship with the eternal Word in the economy of salvation?  That they both were the recipients of special and unique graces does not make them less free; it makes them more free.  Grace precedes and grounds human freedom.  Could John have said no to his vocation, despite the bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon him in the womb of Elizabeth, despite his holy parents, despite his upbringing in the desert?  Of course … yet I cannot conceive that possibility.  Could Mary have said no to her vocation when confronted with the archangel Gabriel, despite the gift of grace bestowed upon her at her conception, despite her holy parents, despite her upbringing in the Temple?  Of course … yet I cannot conceive that possibility.  Something is wrong with our theological reflection when logic forces us to counterpose grace and human freedom.

Fr Alvin Kimel+

         
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2010, 02:59:01 PM »

Very well stated Father.
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2010, 03:11:14 PM »

I'm no theologian, but I like this.
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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2010, 09:05:53 PM »


I will not pretend that I understand this passage, but I think that McCabe is saying something profoundly important that bears directly upon our reflections on original sin and human freedom.


Just as an affirmation:  The passage from Father Herbert is clearly in line with the saints of reformed Carmel.

One of the issues that I think is missing from what you've written, and I'd like to see you ponder it and write about it, is the idea that we need God, in the first instance, to even have an inkling that we need God.  We need God to prompt us to pray and very often the Spirit simply prays for us.

That idea meets up with a great deal of resistance from time to time. 

How can we truly be free if the very impulse to turn to God, requires and act of grace, from God?

Mary
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2010, 04:11:09 AM »

I've been meditating on this thoughtful comment by Minasoliman for several days.  I think I may disagree with him, yet it's hard for me to adequately explain why.  I find the topic of grace and human freedom to be utterly perplexing and mysterious.  That Pelagius and Celestius were wrong in their views and were rightly condemned by the Church seems clear to me.  St Augustine was right to insist on the decisive priority of grace.  He also saw more deeply, I think, into the mystery of human iniquity than most of his peers.  He understood that while the Fall did not destroy humanity's freedom to choose right and wrong, it did affect humanity's love for God and thus his desire to choose the Good.  I do not feel bound to defend Augustine in all particulars.  I firmly reject his predestinarian conclusions, however logical they may appear to be.  When we are confronted with mystery, sometimes we must refuse to be logical. 

I am kicking this thought off to the side just in case it catches hold.  I don't want to derail your longer text and its message.

But I do want to challenge the idea that somehow mystery is inherently the antithesis of logic, reason and logical thought.  All one needs to do is look at the order and rational chaos of the universe and that idea begins to crumble at its foundation.

Predestination itself may be the greater mystery for all its apparent logic.

FFT....

M.
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2010, 09:21:21 AM »

Hello all,

I haven't been for a while, but I was invited by Fr. Kimel to comment on the matter. And I see that I probably should because my name was mentioned several times in brother Mina's posts.

I agree wholeheartedly with Fr. Kimel's conclusion - that the presence of Grace does not diminish free will.  I find the argument that the IC diminished St. Mary's free will to choose illogical.  That would mean that when Adam and Eve (who were in the same state of Grace that Mary was) sinned, they did not do so of their own free will, but were moved to do so by God.  That inevitably leads to the blasphemy that God is the author of evil.

I would like to comment on this statement from Fr. Kimmel:
To return to the question I posed above:  How do we explain the exceptional virtue of the Theotokos and John?  Were they able to give themselves to God in perfect obedience because of a special grace of God, or because, having been raised by holy parents in protected environments (Mary in the Temple, John in the wilderness), they found the strength to conquer their passions and to fully cooperate with the grace that is given to every human being?  Why must I choose between the two?  It seems to me that an adequate answer requires us to assent to both propositions.

Father, I have never understood the exceptional virtues of the Theotokos (or the Forerunner) to be the result of a SPECIAL Grace.  I believe everyone who comes to the Lord receives the same Grace that Mary recieved.  The Grace Mary received at her conception, the Grace St. John received six months after his conception, is the same Grace we receive at Baptism.  I don’t think the Dogma states that Mary received a special Grace; rather, it states she received a special privilege – this privilege being that she received the Grace (that we all now receive at Baptism) at the moment of conception.  In other words, styling the Grace that Mary (and other saints who led sinless lives) received as a SPECIAL Grace actually creates the (artificial and unnecessary) quandary you are trying to solve.  If we understand that all receive the same Grace, it is much easier to believe that Mary’s sinlessness was a result of her willful cooperation with that Grace.  Does that make sense?  So when opponents of the IC utilize the “special Grace” argument, they are simply introducing an artificial false dichotomy between Mary and the rest of humanity. In fact, Mary received the same Grace that we do at Baptism, and her sinlessness was the result not of some special Grace that no other human has or can receive, but rather the result of the same cooperation with Grace that is expected of us when we receive that Grace at Baptism.

I would also like to respond specifically to this portion of brother Mina's post:
So, I don't think it's Pelagianist to say that St. Mary didn't do any sin and lived a righteous and perfect life all the way up to her accepting freely to become the Mother of the world's One and True Salvation.  If Ghandi can do it, then practically, my views are not wrong.  And I think this may be the crux of the issue.  Way back then, when we were comparing the writings of St. Jacob of Serugh on the Theotokos, the Coptic Catholic Mardukm read it differently because of his different view on grace and salvation, that it is impossible for someone to avoid sin without grace.  While I agree it's hard, it's not impossible, given the right environment (she was after all also poor, which can explain her humility, and she is believed to grow up in the temple, which can explain her religiousness, eventually her purity), the right parents, the perfect life of prayer.  Can we say Enoch was immaculately conceived, or Elijah or Jeremiah, or St. John the Forerunner?  The Coptic Catholic, Mardukm, to maintain consistency in his personal beliefs said YES, they too were immaculately conceived, so that the Theotokos was not the only one.

First of all, I would ask if any of my EO brethren here accept the position proposed by brother Mina - that one can achieve a state of sinlessness without the Grace of God?  I have always heard that the EO position on the matter is called synergy – that sinlessness comes about not purely by the power of free will without Grace, nor by Grace without free will, but by a cooperation between the two.  This is in fact the Catholic position with regards to Mary’s life after the IC – her sinlessness was due to a cooperation with the Grace of the IC, not due to an impossibility to sin because of the Grace of the IC.

Secondly, I must assert that I never claimed that Enoch, Elijah or the Forerunner were immaculately conceived.  I admit my memory is spotty, but it’s impossible that I could have ever made such a claim since, for example, Scripture tells us that St. John was sanctified six months after his conception. Thus, I can’t imagine that I would have ever claimed that he was sanctified at his conception.  I assume brother Mina misunderstood whatever it was I stated.

Thirdly, brother Mina states that Ghandi was able to live a righteous and perfect life, while trying to separate the concept of sinlessness from the concept of salvation.  I don’t know what Oriental Orthodox source he can appeal to that would support his comments.  Ghandi may have been able to live a righteous and perfect life, but it would only be “righteous and perfect” according to the standards of the world.  A man can never be “righteous” nor “perfect” in God’s eyes, except by the Grace of God through the Blood of the Lamb.  And worldly perfection can by no means be equated with sinlessness.  Sinlessness is not a state gauged by one’s actions in this world (that is only a dimension of it) – rather, sinlessness is first and foremost a state gauged by the purity of one’s soul before God.  And the soul can never be pure merely by one’s own works, but rather by the blood of the Lamb which perfects those works in the eyes of God.  So the concept of sinlessness can never be separated from the concept of salvation.

Blessings,
Marduk

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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2010, 10:59:19 AM »

John the Forerunner was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb of his mother(Luke 1:15).. Jeremiah was "sanctified" before he came from the womb (Jeremiah 1:5).. Did they benefited of sanctifying grace from the womb?How can this be?Does this mean that they were not inheriting the Ancestral Sin?Or does it mean that even so if they did inherit the fallen human image it got sanctified before coming out of the womb?Can this be?Did they receive the grace of God at birth?

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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2010, 11:07:46 AM »

I opened up a similar topic about this, and i liked the way the discussion developed in there. The topic is "Mary`s state before Annunciation"... I will also post in it..
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 11:12:37 AM »

Hello all,
Welcome back.
I haven't been for a while, but I was invited by Fr. Kimel to comment on the matter. And I see that I probably should because my name was mentioned several times in brother Mina's posts.
While you are at it, IIRC you promised some things on other IC threads. Can you pick up where you left off there? e.g.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3237.msg283679/topicseen.html#msg283679

I agree wholeheartedly with Fr. Kimel's conclusion - that the presence of Grace does not diminish free will.  I find the argument that the IC diminished St. Mary's free will to choose illogical.  That would mean that when Adam and Eve (who were in the same state of Grace that Mary was) sinned, they did not do so of their own free will, but were moved to do so by God.  That inevitably leads to the blasphemy that God is the author of evil
As does the thought that God made her the great exception, and let everyone else from Eve to Mary wander off.

Him, who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21. The Incarnation does not need the IC.

The IC is an innovation of known, recent invention. It is neither in Scripture nor in the Tradition received of the Apostles, but rather arises from the speculations that the Vatican's theologians cornered themselves into.

I would like to comment on this statement from Fr. Kimmel:
To return to the question I posed above:  How do we explain the exceptional virtue of the Theotokos and John?  Were they able to give themselves to God in perfect obedience because of a special grace of God, or because, having been raised by holy parents in protected environments (Mary in the Temple, John in the wilderness), they found the strength to conquer their passions and to fully cooperate with the grace that is given to every human being?  Why must I choose between the two?  It seems to me that an adequate answer requires us to assent to both propositions.

Father, I have never understood the exceptional virtues of the Theotokos (or the Forerunner) to be the result of a SPECIAL Grace.  I believe everyone who comes to the Lord receives the same Grace that Mary recieved.  The Grace Mary received at her conception, the Grace St. John received six months after his conception, is the same Grace we receive at Baptism.  I don’t think the Dogma states that Mary received a special Grace; rather, it states she received a special privilege – this privilege being that she received the Grace (that we all now receive at Baptism) at the moment of conception.  In other words, styling the Grace that Mary (and other saints who led sinless lives) received as a SPECIAL Grace actually creates the (artificial and unnecessary) quandary you are trying to solve.  If we understand that all receive the same Grace, it is much easier to believe that Mary’s sinlessness was a result of her willful cooperation with that Grace.  Does that make sense?  So when opponents of the IC utilize the “special Grace” argument, they are simply introducing an artificial false dichotomy between Mary and the rest of humanity. In fact, Mary received the same Grace that we do at Baptism, and her sinlessness was the result not of some special Grace that no other human has or can receive, but rather the result of the same cooperation with Grace that is expected of us when we receive that Grace at Baptism.

Well, then you are at odds with your pope's "infallible" definition (of course, we can't tell if Ineffabilis Deus is officially infallible: the offiical list of "ex cathedra" statements seem to be a carefully guarded secret of the highest order) "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful."

Him, who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21. The Incarnation does not need the IC.


I would also like to respond specifically to this portion of brother Mina's post:
So, I don't think it's Pelagianist to say that St. Mary didn't do any sin and lived a righteous and perfect life all the way up to her accepting freely to become the Mother of the world's One and True Salvation.  If Ghandi can do it, then practically, my views are not wrong.  And I think this may be the crux of the issue.  Way back then, when we were comparing the writings of St. Jacob of Serugh on the Theotokos, the Coptic Catholic Mardukm read it differently because of his different view on grace and salvation, that it is impossible for someone to avoid sin without grace.  While I agree it's hard, it's not impossible, given the right environment (she was after all also poor, which can explain her humility, and she is believed to grow up in the temple, which can explain her religiousness, eventually her purity), the right parents, the perfect life of prayer.  Can we say Enoch was immaculately conceived, or Elijah or Jeremiah, or St. John the Forerunner?  The Coptic Catholic, Mardukm, to maintain consistency in his personal beliefs said YES, they too were immaculately conceived, so that the Theotokos was not the only one.

First of all, I would ask if any of my EO brethren here accept the position proposed by brother Mina - that one can achieve a state of sinlessness without the Grace of God?
I think he overstated the human response and underestimated the divine initiative in synergy.

I have always heard that the EO position on the matter is called synergy – that sinlessness comes about not purely by the power of free will without Grace, nor by Grace without free will, but by a cooperation between the two.  This is in fact the Catholic position with regards to Mary’s life after the IC – her sinlessness was due to a cooperation with the Grace of the IC, not due to an impossibility to sin because of the Grace of the IC.
As has been pointed out here and on CAF, you misrepresent the Vatican's teaching on the matter. Though you got ours down on this point of synergy here.

Secondly, I must assert that I never claimed that Enoch, Elijah or the Forerunner were immaculately conceived.  I admit my memory is spotty, but it’s impossible that I could have ever made such a claim since, for example, Scripture tells us that St. John was sanctified six months after his conception.

Oh? Even before his conception it is said Luke 1:15 "he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." And St. John's conception is the only one celebrated besides the Holy Theotokos and of course the Lord's, the only Immaculate Conception. The celebration  of the conception of St. Anne is cited as a basis of the IC (one of the few that can even be attempted before 1054), why not St. John, as his immaculate conception, unlike the Theotokos', can make an argument based on the Gospel.

 Thus, I can’t imagine that I would have ever claimed that he was sanctified at his conception.  I assume brother Mina misunderstood whatever it was I stated.
He may have, or you are misrembering.

Thirdly, brother Mina states that Ghandi was able to live a righteous and perfect life, while trying to separate the concept of sinlessness from the concept of salvation.  I don’t know what Oriental Orthodox source he can appeal to that would support his comments.  Ghandi may have been able to live a righteous and perfect life, but it would only be “righteous and perfect” according to the standards of the world.  A man can never be “righteous” nor “perfect” in God’s eyes, except by the Grace of God through the Blood of the Lamb.  And worldly perfection can by no means be equated with sinlessness.  Sinlessness is not a state gauged by one’s actions in this world (that is only a dimension of it) – rather, sinlessness is first and foremost a state gauged by the purity of one’s soul before God.  And the soul can never be pure merely by one’s own works, but rather by the blood of the Lamb which perfects those works in the eyes of God.  So the concept of sinlessness can never be separated from the concept of salvation.
And could not be achieved before that Lamb had blood.
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2010, 11:16:52 AM »

Hello all,
Welcome back.
I haven't been for a while, but I was invited by Fr. Kimel to comment on the matter. And I see that I probably should because my name was mentioned several times in brother Mina's posts.
While you are at it, IIRC you promised some things on other IC threads. Can you pick up where you left off there? e.g.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3237.msg283679/topicseen.html#msg283679


Can you ? Smiley

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,26874.msg422793.html#msg422793
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2010, 11:45:01 AM »

The assertion that Mardukm is misrepresenting the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the Immaculate Conception is false.  He is quite accurately doing so.

The grace of God is the grace of God.  Once it enters the world to achieve a purpose then we can name the grace according to its action in time.  But grace is grace.

We are graced at the time of our Baptism by a grace that saves us from the stain of sin.

The Theotokos was graced at the moment of her conception with a grace that preserves from the stain of sin.

In BOTH cases it is the grace of God that sanctifies or saves or justifies: three ways of saying the same thing: it opens the soul to the Indwelling Trinity.

In BOTH cases, Baptism and the Immaculate Conception, the grace given opens to the soul to the Indwelling Trinity.  This is the common factor. 

In BOTH cases the grace given opens the soul to the Indwelling Trinity!!

The others who were sanctified in the womb received the same grace at a different time.

M.
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2010, 11:51:18 AM »

Ialmisry, as the author of the original article, I'd like to ask you to please absent yourself from the discussion in this thread.  I do not want it to descend into the kind of polemics at which you seem to specialize.  I did not compose the article to provoke the usual ideological banter.  I prefer the discussion to remain theological, constructive, helpful.  Thank you for respecting my request.     

Fr Kimel
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2010, 11:58:56 AM »

The assertion that Mardukm is misrepresenting the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the Immaculate Conception is false.  He is quite accurately doing so.

The grace of God is the grace of God.  Once it enters the world to achieve a purpose then we can name the grace according to its action in time.  But grace is grace.

We are graced at the time of our Baptism by a grace that saves us from the stain of sin.

The Theotokos was graced at the moment of her conception with a grace that preserves from the stain of sin.

In BOTH cases it is the grace of God that sanctifies or saves or justifies: three ways of saying the same thing: it opens the soul to the Indwelling Trinity.

In BOTH cases, Baptism and the Immaculate Conception, the grace given opens to the soul to the Indwelling Trinity.  This is the common factor. 

In BOTH cases the grace given opens the soul to the Indwelling Trinity!!

The others who were sanctified in the womb received the same grace at a different time.

M.

The state of Baptism is being born of God or born from above..
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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2010, 12:01:14 PM »

Can we say that those of whom it is said that have been sanctified from the womb that they were regenerated by God at their conception?Therefore having two births, the natural one and the one of grace?
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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2010, 01:07:51 PM »

Hello all,
Welcome back.
I haven't been for a while, but I was invited by Fr. Kimel to comment on the matter. And I see that I probably should because my name was mentioned several times in brother Mina's posts.
While you are at it, IIRC you promised some things on other IC threads. Can you pick up where you left off there? e.g.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3237.msg283679/topicseen.html#msg283679


Can you ? Smiley

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,26874.msg422793.html#msg422793


Yes I can.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,26874.msg472658.html#msg472658
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« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2010, 01:22:34 PM »

The assertion that Mardukm is misrepresenting the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the Immaculate Conception is false.  He is quite accurately doing so.

Besides you correligionists on CAF saying otherwise, he says that he has "never understood the exceptional virtues of the Theotokos (or the Forerunner) to be the result of a SPECIAL Grace.  [He ] believe[ s ] everyone who comes to the Lord receives the same Grace that Mary recieved.  I quote your pope saying that the IC was a "singular privilege and grace," i.e. SPECIAL and one that only she received. Although the pope of Rome has no authority at present to speak for the Church, he does have the authority to speak for the church you all belong to.

]The grace of God is the grace of God.  Once it enters the world to achieve a purpose then we can name the grace according to its action in time.  But grace is grace.

We are graced at the time of our Baptism by a grace that saves us from the stain of sin.

The Theotokos was graced at the moment of her conception with a grace that preserves from the stain of sin.

We are baptized into Christ for that grace. At the time of the conception of the Holy Theotokos, there was no Christ according to the flesh to be baptized into.

In BOTH cases it is the grace of God that sanctifies or saves or justifies: three ways of saying the same thing: it opens the soul to the Indwelling Trinity.

In BOTH cases, Baptism and the Immaculate Conception, the grace given opens to the soul to the Indwelling Trinity.  This is the common factor.  

Then we would be singing "Today is the beginning of our salvation, the revelation of the eternal mystery" on the conception of St. Anne, and not the Annuciation.

In BOTH cases the grace given opens the soul to the Indwelling Trinity!!
Untill the Annunciaton of the Incarnation, there was no indwelling of the Trinity. Only when the fullness of the Godhead came to dwell among us was that possible.

The others who were sanctified in the womb received the same grace at a different time.
How heresies like the IC bring even more theological speculation and error.
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« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2010, 01:28:35 PM »

Ialmisry, as the author of the original article, I'd like to ask you to please absent yourself from the discussion in this thread.  I do not want it to descend into the kind of polemics at which you seem to specialize. 
You mean, calling a spade a spade?
I did not compose the article to provoke the usual ideological banter.
You mean, between "orthodox in communion with Rome" like Mardukm and the actual Orthodox?

I prefer the discussion to remain theological, constructive, helpful.  Thank you for respecting my request.     

Fr Kimel
Well, if Minasulayman and, Azul and Ionnis agree, I'll stay off the thread, Father. Barring that, and if the misinformation isnt' too egregious I might respect your request anyways. Or open another thread.
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« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2010, 02:08:03 PM »


We are baptized into Christ for that grace. At the time of the conception of the Holy Theotokos, there was no Christ according to the flesh to be baptized into.

Begotten before all Ages!!

Are you going to now limit the Son of God to actions that only occur in time?

We are not Baptized into the Flesh of Christ in the Catholic Church.

We are baptized by water and the spirit, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!!

M.
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« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2010, 02:08:04 PM »

Untill the Annunciaton of the Incarnation, there was no indwelling of the Trinity. Only when the fullness of the Godhead came to dwell among us was that possible.

Orthodox liturgical prayers, particularly the ones for the Entrance into the Temple, seem to indicate far more than a sustaining or materially life-granting grace in the Theotokos.  So I do think that even within your own tradition you will have a very hard time making this case stick.  It is an assertion that is not upheld in the Fathers.  She is graced above all other human beings from the earliest time in her life.  The only argument that can exists between us is what time...not the fullness of grace from an unusually early time.

Mary
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« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2010, 02:10:25 PM »

The assertion that Mardukm is misrepresenting the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the Immaculate Conception is false.  He is quite accurately doing so.

Besides you correligionists on CAF saying otherwise, he says that he has "never understood the exceptional virtues of the Theotokos (or the Forerunner) to be the result of a SPECIAL Grace.  [He ] believe[ s ] everyone who comes to the Lord receives the same Grace that Mary recieved.  I quote your pope saying that the IC was a "singular privilege and grace," i.e. SPECIAL and one that only she received. Although the pope of Rome has no authority at present to speak for the Church, he does have the authority to speak for the church you all belong to.

I don't pay a whole lot more attention to my so-called co-religionists and their off-the-cuff assertions than I pay to you and yours, because you all seem to have about the same quality of dialogue and it is not only wrong-headed in many aspects, it is boring and rarely spiritually edifying.

I pay very very close attention the teachings of my Church and her saints and doctors, the fathers of the Church and Scripture.

Nothing that you assert above detracts from what I said:

1. Grace is grace

2. Any particular grace is named for its actions in time and its purpose, and not for any peculiar essential character.

3. The particular grace noted in the dogmatic constitution simply refers to its timing, nothing more.

4. The grace received at Baptism, for the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos and for John the Baptist and any others sanctified in the womb is alternately called:  Saving Grace; Sanctifying Grace; The Grace of Baptism; Justifying Grace; Baptismal Grace.  It can be found under one or more of those names in Orthodoxy as well.

5. This aforementioned grace has as its purpose the opening up of the soul to the Indwelling Trinity.

This is what the Catholic Church teaches.  This is what Mardukm makes references to.

I agree with Father Kimel.  Your only real purpose here is to confound issues.  This is the Catholic section on this Forum and as long as it remains open, it should be to make things clear, not to muddy the waters just in case the Catholic position comes close to being clarified and dug up out of the theological and intellectual swamp that Orthodox believers generally try to bury it.

If this is NOT the purpose of this section of the Forum then I think we need to be made aware of that in the description.  It is either for the purpose of clarifying Catholic teaching or it is for the purpose of tearing it apart regardless of the accuracy of the effort or not, which is your specialty and why Father Kimel asked you to back off this particular thread.

If the only purpose of this Forum is to tear down Catholic truths and/or Catholic believers then Catholics should not come here.

Perhaps this will be a way for the Catholics here to discover the real purpose of this section on the Forum.

Mary
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« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2010, 02:15:58 PM »

I agree with Father Kimel.  Your only real purpose here is to confound issues.  This is the Catholic section on this Forum and as long as it remains open, it should be to make things clear, not to muddy the waters just in case the Catholic position comes close to being clarified and dug up out of the theological and intellectual swamp that Orthodox believers generally try to bury it.

If this is NOT the purpose of this section of the Forum then I think we need to be made aware of that in the description.  It is either for the purpose of clarifying Catholic teaching or it is for the purpose of tearing it apart regardless of the accuracy of the effort or not, which is your specialty and why Father Kimel asked you to back off this particular thread.

If the only purpose of this Forum is to tear down Catholic truths and/or Catholic believers then Catholics should not come here.

Perhaps this will be a way for the Catholics here to discover the real purpose of this section on the Forum.

Mary

Mary, you might do well to actually read the statement of this section's purpose before you project onto it what you wish it to be.

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Discussion of issues which unite and divide the Orthodox Church and the Roman/Eastern Catholic churches (in Communion with Rome).
Source:  http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/board,33.0.html
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2010, 03:12:34 PM »

Thank you, Marduk, for returning to the forum to share your reflections on my short posting.


I would like to comment on this statement from Fr. Kimmel:
To return to the question I posed above:  How do we explain the exceptional virtue of the Theotokos and John?  Were they able to give themselves to God in perfect obedience because of a special grace of God, or because, having been raised by holy parents in protected environments (Mary in the Temple, John in the wilderness), they found the strength to conquer their passions and to fully cooperate with the grace that is given to every human being?  Why must I choose between the two?  It seems to me that an adequate answer requires us to assent to both propositions.

Father, I have never understood the exceptional virtues of the Theotokos (or the Forerunner) to be the result of a SPECIAL Grace.  I believe everyone who comes to the Lord receives the same Grace that Mary recieved.  The Grace Mary received at her conception, the Grace St. John received six months after his conception, is the same Grace we receive at Baptism.  I don’t think the Dogma states that Mary received a special Grace; rather, it states she received a special privilege – this privilege being that she received the Grace (that we all now receive at Baptism) at the moment of conception.  In other words, styling the Grace that Mary (and other saints who led sinless lives) received as a SPECIAL Grace actually creates the (artificial and unnecessary) quandary you are trying to solve.  If we understand that all receive the same Grace, it is much easier to believe that Mary’s sinlessness was a result of her willful cooperation with that Grace.  Does that make sense?  So when opponents of the IC utilize the “special Grace” argument, they are simply introducing an artificial false dichotomy between Mary and the rest of humanity. In fact, Mary received the same Grace that we do at Baptism, and her sinlessness was the result not of some special Grace that no other human has or can receive, but rather the result of the same cooperation with Grace that is expected of us when we receive that Grace at Baptism.

I appreciate the approach you have taken here.  In my judgment, the strongest Eastern criticism of the IC dogma is the criticism that dogma rips Mary out of the history of Israel and makes her utterly different. Bulgakov advances this criticism with great power in his book The Burning Bush.  Your approach allows us to keep the Holy Virgin fully embedded in the history of Israel, while at the same time respecting her uniqueness. 

I'm not confident, however, that your approach will satisfy all Orthodox controversialists.  It is still open to the criticism that if God gave this grace of sinlessness to Mary, John, and Jeremiah, why didn't he give it to all Israelites?  Indeed, why doesn't he give it to everyone?  Or do we want to say that God offered this grace to all, yet only a handful accepted and worked with it?   


Quote
I would also like to respond specifically to this portion of brother Mina's post:
So, I don't think it's Pelagianist to say that St. Mary didn't do any sin and lived a righteous and perfect life all the way up to her accepting freely to become the Mother of the world's One and True Salvation.  If Ghandi can do it, then practically, my views are not wrong.  And I think this may be the crux of the issue.  Way back then, when we were comparing the writings of St. Jacob of Serugh on the Theotokos, the Coptic Catholic Mardukm read it differently because of his different view on grace and salvation, that it is impossible for someone to avoid sin without grace.  While I agree it's hard, it's not impossible, given the right environment (she was after all also poor, which can explain her humility, and she is believed to grow up in the temple, which can explain her religiousness, eventually her purity), the right parents, the perfect life of prayer.  Can we say Enoch was immaculately conceived, or Elijah or Jeremiah, or St. John the Forerunner?  The Coptic Catholic, Mardukm, to maintain consistency in his personal beliefs said YES, they too were immaculately conceived, so that the Theotokos was not the only one.

First of all, I would ask if any of my EO brethren here accept the position proposed by brother Mina - that one can achieve a state of sinlessness without the Grace of God?  I have always heard that the EO position on the matter is called synergy – that sinlessness comes about not purely by the power of free will without Grace, nor by Grace without free will, but by a cooperation between the two.  This is in fact the Catholic position with regards to Mary’s life after the IC – her sinlessness was due to a cooperation with the Grace of the IC, not due to an impossibility to sin because of the Grace of the IC.

The driving concern in my short article is, of course, the problem of Pelagianism.  The Western theological tradition has been consumed by this problem; the Eastern tradition has given it little thought.  As a result, many (not all) Eastern presentations of synergism and free will seem to strike Western readers as Pelagian or semi-Pelagian or quasi-Pelagian.  I have yet to find a really good discussion by an Eastern theologian who is well acquainted with Western reflection on the topic of nature, grace, and free-will.  Fr Andrew Louth pointed me to the writings of St Maximus the Confessor, but I find Maximus exceptionally difficult. I did recently come across one essay that discusses Maximus on some length and makes some comparisons with Augustine:  "Naturally and by Grace."  Augustine's principal concern to assert the sola gratia against the teachings of Pelagius seems absolutely right to me, yet it also logically led him, and much of the Western tradition, into a predestinarianism I cannot embrace.   

Quote
Secondly, I must assert that I never claimed that Enoch, Elijah or the Forerunner were immaculately conceived.  I admit my memory is spotty, but it’s impossible that I could have ever made such a claim since, for example, Scripture tells us that St. John was sanctified six months after his conception. Thus, I can’t imagine that I would have ever claimed that he was sanctified at his conception.  I assume brother Mina misunderstood whatever it was I stated.

Perhaps we can persuade Mina (is Mina our "brother" or "sister"?) to join the conversation.

Quote
Thirdly, brother Mina states that Ghandi was able to live a righteous and perfect life, while trying to separate the concept of sinlessness from the concept of salvation.  I don’t know what Oriental Orthodox source he can appeal to that would support his comments.  Ghandi may have been able to live a righteous and perfect life, but it would only be “righteous and perfect” according to the standards of the world.  A man can never be “righteous” nor “perfect” in God’s eyes, except by the Grace of God through the Blood of the Lamb.  And worldly perfection can by no means be equated with sinlessness.  Sinlessness is not a state gauged by one’s actions in this world (that is only a dimension of it) – rather, sinlessness is first and foremost a state gauged by the purity of one’s soul before God.  And the soul can never be pure merely by one’s own works, but rather by the blood of the Lamb which perfects those works in the eyes of God.  So the concept of sinlessness can never be separated from the concept of salvation.

Here you touch on precisely that point in Mina's presentation which troubled me--the separation of sinlessness and salvation.  This leads us, I think, into a discussion of the difference between the two covenants.  Perhaps we might put the question this way:  If Mary received the Holy Spirit at her conception, how could she have received the Holy Spirit again at Pentecost?  What difference did it make? 

Fr K
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« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2010, 03:15:47 PM »

Perhaps we can persuade Mina (is Mina our "brother" or "sister"?) to join the conversation.
Mina is a brother.
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« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2010, 04:46:16 PM »


Here you touch on precisely that point in Mina's presentation which troubled me--the separation of sinlessness and salvation.  This leads us, I think, into a discussion of the difference between the two covenants.  Perhaps we might put the question this way:  If Mary received the Holy Spirit at her conception, how could she have received the Holy Spirit again at Pentecost?  What difference did it make? 

Fr K

May we say more here about what it means to receive the Holy Spirit?  Can it be both corporate and personal?

Can we speak of the reception of the Holy Spirit in light of:

1. Baptism

2. Chrismation

3. Eucharist

4. Theosis

5. Immaculate Conception

6. Annunciation

7. The Body of Christ [Church]



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« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2010, 05:34:04 PM »

Dear Father,

I have to admit, this is a subject I need to do more research on, and I could be wrong in what I am about to write, but this is how I understood relationship between the actions of humanity and the grace of God.  I remember a friend of mine told me once that ancient Latin Scholastic fathers have criticized the Cappadocian fathers to be semi-Pellagian in their writings, but I can't find his reference.  In any case, there seems to be an Eastern thought and understanding in all this that can make one quite confused when engaging in discussion with Western thinking peoples.  I have hope though somewhere along the line, there's an agreement, and perhaps semantics can play a role.  And perhaps, I need to do more reading of the Cappadocian fathers to see what their views on grace and humanity's virtues (or lack thereof) are.

The center of the issue is indeed the idea of separating "sinlessness" and "salvation."  We know that from St. Irenaeous' theology that Christ would have been incarnate even if there was to be no "fall."  In other words, there's more to the incarnation than merely salvation from sins.  We also know from St. Athanasius and from an OO father St. Severus (who made his views very clear in his fight against the aphthartodocetic views in Julianism) that there is no real change in human nature before or after the Fall.  The difference is simply the presence or lack of grace, which is pretty much God's active presence in one's nature.  Therefore, baptism plays a role not only in purifying one's soul in preparation for the descent of the Holy Spirit in this person, for even though the soul may have not sinned, the world itself is filthy, filled with lusts, with sights that can forever scar souls, with influences without end, baptism also leads one to be united into the mystical Body of Christ.

Why was the Virgin Theotokos or the Forerunner so different?  Because they separated themselves from the world.  They lived wholly ascetic lifestyles that allowed them to fully conceive of God's plans.  They grew in grace until they were able to do their duties, the former to give birth to God, the latter to wed God to His ministry.

What is sin to me?  Well, sin can mean one of both things.  It can be an act of immorality, a breaking of the Law.  As St. Paul teaches, even Gentiles, judged by their consciences, have the same Law in their hearts.  Therefore, morality is something innate, something understood.  There are those who are born into a family where this morality is strengthened and thus can achieve a strong moral framework, and others where they are physically born with predispositions that can cause them to struggle.  Therefore, there is a genetic and an environmental influence in these situations.  It would seem to me certain exceptions in history, like the Theotokos and the Forerunner, occurred.  These people were born of righteous families and were raised in ascetic lifestyles.  They trained their flesh, born like any other flesh, to live righteous and virtuous lives.  They may have been sanctified for their roles and continual prayers, but they have not received the ultimate salvation that comes from Christ until a certain time.

What about Ghandi?  I'd say, likewise, he too trained his flesh to be separate from the world.  In fact, when we see the virtuous life of Ghandi, one cannot help but say to himself, this is exactly how a Christian should act.  Therefore, how do we see a non-Christian act this way?  Can we say the grace of God?  Perhaps, just as the Spirit of God who hardens hearts, like that of Pharaoh, or inspires hearts like that of King Cyrus or Balaam, these who are not even part of the chosen people of God, God's grace seems to fill the world, that whoever seems to act in a way befitting God, grows all the more free, and even more so now, in Christ's era, where we have even influenced non-Christians to act like Christians.  I am willing to accept that Ghandi was given the grace of charity and some virtue through God Himself even though Ghandi could not bring himself to believe in God (a heart hardened there?).  

But we all know that being righteous and moral is not enough for salvation.  It is unity in God the Father through Christ by the Holy Spirit.  This is where another view of "sin" comes in.  St. Augustine even mentions Christ as the salvation of our apparent and "hidden" sins (from "The Confessions").  It seems to me, sin takes a different view than "immorality."  If we were to define sin as the state of our soul before God, then surely, "all have sinned" as St. Paul said, including the Virgin Theotokos and the Forerunner, and I cannot give exceptions to that.  So while they lived righteous, pure, and virtuous lives, I believe they too were included in the verses that St. Paul mentioned in Chapter 5, death reigned to all, even those who have not sinned, as St. John Chrysostom makes clear in his reading of St. Paul:

Quote from: St. John Chrysostom's "Homily X" on the Book of Romans
“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon (διἥλθεν6 mss. εἴς…) all men, for that all have sinned.”

As the best physicians always take great pains to discover the source of diseases, and go to the very fountain of the mischief, so doth the blessed Paul also. Hence after having said that we were justified, and having shown it from the Patriarch, and from the Spirit, and from the dying of Christ (for He would not have died unless He intended to justify), he next confirms from other sources also what he had at such length demonstrated. And he confirms his proposition from things opposite, that is, from death and sin. How, and in what way? He enquires whence death came in, and how it prevailed. How then did death come in and prevail? “Through the sin of one.” But what means, “for that all have sinned?” This; he having once fallen, even they that had not eaten of the tree did from him, all of them, become mortal.

“For until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law.”

The phrase “till the Law” some think he used of the time before the giving of the Law—that of Abel, for instance, or of Noah, or of Abraham—till Moses was born. What was the sin in those days, at this rate? some say he means that in Paradise. For hitherto it was not done away, (he would say,) but the fruit of it was yet in vigor. For it had borne that death whereof all partake, which prevailed and lorded over us. Why then does he proceed, “But sin is not imputed when there is no law?” It was by way of objection from the Jews, say they who have spoken on our side, that he laid this position down and said, if there be no sin without the Law, how came death to consume all those before the Law? But to me it seems that the sense presently to be given has more to be said for it, and suits better with the Apostle’s meaning. And what sense is this? In saying, that “till the Law sin was in the world,” what he seems to me to mean is this, that after the Law was given the sin resulting from the transgression of it prevailed, and prevailed too so long as the Law existed. For sin, he says, can have no existence if there be no law.  If then it was this sin, he means, from the transgression of the Law that brought forth death, how was it that all before the Law died? For if it is in sin that death hath its origin, but when there is no law, sin is not imputed, how came death to prevail? From whence it is clear, that it was not this sin, the transgression, that is, of the Law, but that of Adam’s disobedience, which marred all things. Now what is the proof of this? The fact that even before the Law all died: for “death reigned,” he says, “from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned.”

How did it reign? “After the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.” Now this is why Adam is a type of Christ. How a type? it will be said. Why in that, as the former became to those who were sprung from him, although they had not eaten of the tree, the cause of that death which by his eating was introduced; thus also did Christ become to those sprung from Him, even though they had not wrought righteousness, the Provider of that righteousness which through His Cross He graciously bestowed on us all. For this reason, at every turn he keeps to the “one,” and is continually bringing it before us, when he says, “As by one man sin entered into the world”—and, “If through the offence of one many be dead:” and, “Not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift;” and, “The judgment was by one to condemnation:” and again, “If by one (or, the one) man’s offence death reigned by one;” and “Therefore as by the offence of one.” And again, “As by one man’s disobedience many (or, the many) were made sinners.” And so he letteth not go of the one, that when the Jew says to thee, How came it, that by the well-doing of this one Person, Christ, the world was saved? thou mightest be able to say to him, How by the disobedience of this one person, Adam, came it to be condemned? And yet sin and grace are not equivalents, death and life are not equivalents, the Devil and God are not equivalents, but there is a boundless space between them. When then as well from the nature of the thing as from the power of Him that transacteth it, and from the very suitableness thereof (for it suiteth much better with God to save than to punish), the preëminence and victory is upon this side, what one word have you to say for unbelief, tell me? However, that what had been done was reasonable, he shows in the following words.

NOTE:  Notice that in St. John Chrysostom's reading, it is not those who have not sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression, but that death reigned in the likeness of Adam's transgression.

St. Augustine also says, "But even the infants, not personally in their own life, but according to the common origin of the human race, have all broken God’s covenant in that one in whom all have sinned." (City of God 16:27)

As we pray in the Coptic Church, "Even if one's life be one day on earth, there is no one without sin." (quoting out of memory)

Origen also says, "Many manuscripts read that death reigned over even those whose sin was not like that of Adam.  If this reading is correct, then it may be said that it refers to that death which has kept souls in hell, and we would understand that even the saints have passed away because of this law of death, even though they were not subject to the law of sin.  Therefore it may be said that Christ descended into hell not only in order to show that he could not be held by death but also that might liberate those who found themselves there not because of the sin of transgression but merely because of their mortal condition." (quoted from Ancient Christian Commentary, Romans, p. 136)

Ambrosiaster also writes, "Some Greek manuscripts say that death reigned even in those who had not sinned in the way that Adam had.  If this is true, it is because Satan's jealousy was such that death, that is, dissolution, held sway over even those who did not sin." (quoted from Ancient Christian Commentary, Romans, p. 136)

This doesn't mean I believe grace is unnecessary.  For the majority of the world, one cannot escape the grasp of sin without the grace of God.  Surely, I can say so of myself.  For when there are days when I have lost sight of God, I am in deep sin, and when I gain my sight in God, I am filled with clarity and disgust of my own soul.  So then yes, it is extremely hard without the grace of God to act virtuous, but not impossible, as is implied by some Church fathers depending on how the text of Romans 5:14 is written.  Grace makes one freer and I am in no position to disagree with that.  For just as light aids in my sight to see through darkness, so does God in giving me His grace aids me to walk through the world filled with sin, knowing not to choose sin.  With the case of the Theotokos and the Forerunner, I'm more inclined to think of them like blind men who are able to walk in the world knowing how many steps to take to get to places.

I think I've answered everyone's questions.

I'd like to touch on one more thing MardukM touched, which I believe is a minuscule issue really:

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Secondly, I must assert that I never claimed that Enoch, Elijah or the Forerunner were immaculately conceived.  I admit my memory is spotty, but it’s impossible that I could have ever made such a claim since, for example, Scripture tells us that St. John was sanctified six months after his conception. Thus, I can’t imagine that I would have ever claimed that he was sanctified at his conception.  I assume brother Mina misunderstood whatever it was I stated.

Well, at some point, you mentioned they were given the "grace of sinlessness."  I don't even understand what difference it makes whether it be conception or three months after conception when it comes to John the Forerunner.  What is the importance that the Virgin Theotokos has to be immaculate from the very moment of her conception, whereas God's Baptist be three months after conception?  What about Jeremiah the prophet?  When he was given immaculateness?

God bless.
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« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2010, 04:27:37 PM »

Is there a difference between being graced and salvation?
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« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2010, 06:43:33 PM »

Is there a difference between being graced and salvation?

Good question.
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« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2010, 07:07:52 AM »

Dear brother Isa,
Hello all,
Welcome back.

While you are at it, IIRC you promised some things on other IC threads. Can you pick up where you left off there? e.g.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3237.msg283679/topicseen.html#msg283679
Thanks. I’ll get to it soon

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I agree wholeheartedly with Fr. Kimel's conclusion - that the presence of Grace does not diminish free will.  I find the argument that the IC diminished St. Mary's free will to choose illogical.  That would mean that when Adam and Eve (who were in the same state of Grace that Mary was) sinned, they did not do so of their own free will, but were moved to do so by God.  That inevitably leads to the blasphemy that God is the author of evil
As does the thought that God made her the great exception, and let everyone else from Eve to Mary wander off.
There were righteous people in the OT, too, or did you forget that?

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Him, who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21. The Incarnation does not need the IC.
I don’t understand your interpretation of that passage as it relates to the IC. Are you saying that Jesus sinned?

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The IC is an innovation of known, recent invention. It is neither in Scripture nor in the Tradition received of the Apostles, but rather arises from the speculations that the Vatican's theologians cornered themselves into.
I quoted a whole list of Eastern Fathers in the old IC thread, and the only response I got was “you are misinterpreting them,” but with no explanations of how I was doing so. Oh well.

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Father, I have never understood the exceptional virtues of the Theotokos (or the Forerunner) to be the result of a SPECIAL Grace.  I believe everyone who comes to the Lord receives the same Grace that Mary recieved.  The Grace Mary received at her conception, the Grace St. John received six months after his conception, is the same Grace we receive at Baptism.  I don’t think the Dogma states that Mary received a special Grace; rather, it states she received a special privilege – this privilege being that she received the Grace (that we all now receive at Baptism) at the moment of conception.  In other words, styling the Grace that Mary (and other saints who led sinless lives) received as a SPECIAL Grace actually creates the (artificial and unnecessary) quandary you are trying to solve.  If we understand that all receive the same Grace, it is much easier to believe that Mary’s sinlessness was a result of her willful cooperation with that Grace.  Does that make sense?  So when opponents of the IC utilize the “special Grace” argument, they are simply introducing an artificial false dichotomy between Mary and the rest of humanity. In fact, Mary received the same Grace that we do at Baptism, and her sinlessness was the result not of some special Grace that no other human has or can receive, but rather the result of the same cooperation with Grace that is expected of us when we receive that Grace at Baptism.
Well, then you are at odds with your pope's "infallible" definition: "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful."
Every action of God in this world is a Grace of God.  The uniqueness of God’s action in Mary’s case was simply that it occurred at the “first instant of her conception.” The rest of it – the power of God over original sin – is the same Grace that every other Christian receives at Baptism – as brother Elijahmaria pointed out.

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(of course, we can't tell if Ineffabilis Deus is officially infallible: the offiical list of "ex cathedra" statements seem to be a carefully guarded secret of the highest order)
Such a list is useless to 99.999% of Catholics who don’t need such a list in order to live our lives as faithful Catholics.  The list is only of interest to a few scrupulous persons, and to non-Catholic polemicists who like to bring it up thinking it means something.

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I have always heard that the EO position on the matter is called synergy – that sinlessness comes about not purely by the power of free will without Grace, nor by Grace without free will, but by a cooperation between the two.  This is in fact the Catholic position with regards to Mary’s life after the IC – her sinlessness was due to a cooperation with the Grace of the IC, not due to an impossibility to sin because of the Grace of the IC.
As has been pointed out here and on CAF, you misrepresent the Vatican's teaching on the matter.
Strangely, the only ones who keep pointing out that I am misrepresenting the Catholic Faith are non-Catholics.  I learned my lesson a few years before becoming Catholic that you really can’t trust non-Catholics to explain the Catholic Faith.

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Secondly, I must assert that I never claimed that Enoch, Elijah or the Forerunner were immaculately conceived.  I admit my memory is spotty, but it’s impossible that I could have ever made such a claim since, for example, Scripture tells us that St. John was sanctified six months after his conception.

Oh? Even before his conception it is said Luke 1:15 "he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." And St. John's conception is the only one celebrated besides the Holy Theotokos and of course the Lord's, the only Immaculate Conception. The celebration  of the conception of St. Anne is cited as a basis of the IC (one of the few that can even be attempted before 1054), why not St. John, as his immaculate conception, unlike the Theotokos', can make an argument based on the Gospel.
Because Scripture states that the Holy Spirit quickened the Forerunner six months from his conception in his mother’s womb, when St. Elizabeth met St. Mary. Why do you ask such a senseless “based on the Gospel” question?

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And could not be achieved before that Lamb had blood.
The power of the Sacrifice existed in the Eternal Moment, as testified by St. John the Evangelist (read Revelation if you don’t believe me).  So it was indeed available to God for Mary at the moment of her conception.

Blessings
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« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2010, 07:37:26 AM »


Quote
(of course, we can't tell if Ineffabilis Deus is officially infallible: the offiical list of "ex cathedra" statements seem to be a carefully guarded secret of the highest order)

Such a list is useless to 99.999% of Catholics who don’t need such a list in order to live our lives as faithful Catholics.  The list is only of interest to a few scrupulous persons, and to non-Catholic polemicists who like to bring it up thinking it means something.

Do you, as a Coptic Orthodox Oriental Christian in communion with the Pope of Rome accept all the teachings of the Church of Rome or do you withhold assent from some of them?


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As has been pointed out here and on CAF, you misrepresent the Vatican's teaching on the matter.
Quote
Strangely, the only ones who keep pointing out that I am misrepresenting the Catholic Faith are non-Catholics.

Haven't you encountered some stiff opposition from Catholics on CAF for some of your beliefs, on the IC and on your idiosyncratic limitations to papal infallibility and papal jurisdictional authority?
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« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2010, 08:32:38 AM »

Dearest Father Kimel,

I'm not confident, however, that your approach will satisfy all Orthodox controversialists.  It is still open to the criticism that if God gave this grace of sinlessness to Mary, John, and Jeremiah, why didn't he give it to all Israelites?  Indeed, why doesn't he give it to everyone?
When I encounter non-Catholics who pose this question, I simply respond, “If you can tell me why God did not incarnate 1000 years before He actually did, so that He could have offered his salvation to more people, then I’ll give you an answer to your question.” It’s really about God’s sovereign plan, and we can’t presume to know His ways or intentions. But we do know that there were certain key figures in the past who have had special roles in God’s plan in the history of salvation. I imagine God gave them the Grace of sinlessness to fulfill their roles.

To non-Catholics -- the Grace of sinlessness does not make one not able to sin.  It is, like most types of Grace, a supernatural aid given for a particular purpose, which still requires our free will response to be fully effective in our lives.

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Or do we want to say that God offered this grace to all, yet only a handful accepted and worked with it?
That’s exactly the Catholic position, is it not? That’s our response to the determinist heresy in some sectors of Protestantism.  Or perhaps I am missing your point?

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The driving concern in my short article is, of course, the problem of Pelagianism.  The Western theological tradition has been consumed by this problem; the Eastern tradition has given it little thought.  As a result, many (not all) Eastern presentations of synergism and free will seem to strike Western readers as Pelagian or semi-Pelagian or quasi-Pelagian.
Yes, EO sometimes equate synergy with semi-pelagianism. I have debated EO online who like to describe themselves as semi-pelagian in honor of St. John Cassian.  In the course of the debate, it’s normally revealed that their understanding of semi-pelagianism is not very historical, and that they did not really understand what St. John Cassian taught.

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Here you touch on precisely that point in Mina's presentation which troubled me--the separation of sinlessness and salvation.  This leads us, I think, into a discussion of the difference between the two covenants.  Perhaps we might put the question this way:  If Mary received the Holy Spirit at her conception, how could she have received the Holy Spirit again at Pentecost?  What difference did it make?
That’s a great question. I think brother Elijahmaria touched upon a good answer – the communal aspect of the Sacraments.  I don’t know if this is what he meant, but perhaps we can distinguish between the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church as a whole, from the singular actions of the Holy Spirit on particular people for particular circumstances in the course of salvation history.

My own answer is a bit different.  As we all know, the Holy Spirit gives different Graces.

According to the Dogma of the IC, Mary was preserved from “all stain of original sin.” According to Trent, what is washed from us at Baptism is “the stain of original sin.”  The “stain of original sin” is nothing more nor less than our separation from God.  The absence of the “stain of original sin” means that we are no longer separated from God – iow, we are saved.  So the Dogma of the IC, to me, simply means that Mary was saved at the instance of her conception.  What Mary received at the moment of her conception was nothing more nor less than the Grace of salvation, which is the same thing we receive at Baptism.  But is the Grace of salvation the same thing as the Grace to live a sinless life?  Is it the same thing as the Grace to teach?  Is it the same thing as the Grace to love? Etc.  

We must also remember that Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the Apostles in the upper room after His Resurrection.  Can we legitimately ask, “if the Apostles received the Spirit at that time, how could they have received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost?” If one understands that the Holy Spirit is the Source of different Graces, if one understands that the Grace the Apostles received in the upper room after Jesus’s resurrection (the Grace to forgive sins) is different from the Grace of the Holy Spirit they received at Pentecost (which, I guess, was almost everything else), then the issue becomes irrelevant.  What do you think?

Many Catholics think that Mary received all Graces at the moment of her conception.  But that is clearly not what the Dogma teaches. IMO, what Mary received at the IC was only the Grace of salvation.  That means she received other Graces later in life, such as the Grace of sinlessness, or the Grace to be Theotokos, or the Grace of immortality, etc. This understanding preserves not only the Catholic teaching, but my own unique Oriental Traditions on Mary. For example, Orientals believe the Holy Spirit purified Mary to be Theotokos at the Annunciation, a teaching supported by many Fathers. Opponents of the IC use this patristic belief to “prove” that the IC is false, because (they claim), the IC teaches that Mary received all Graces at the moment of her conception. But a correct understanding that Mary received only the Grace of salvation at her IC, and could receive other Graces later in her life, would refute that non-Catholic objection, and place the IC firmly within the bounds of patristic orthodoxy.

BTW, as brother Isa has charged me with misrepresenting the Catholic position, I would like to ask you, as a priest, if anything I have written contradicts Catholic teaching in the least.

Humbly,
Marduk
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« Reply #30 on: September 20, 2010, 08:43:38 AM »

Dearest Father Ambrose,

HELLO! Smiley

Quote
(of course, we can't tell if Ineffabilis Deus is officially infallible: the offiical list of "ex cathedra" statements seem to be a carefully guarded secret of the highest order)

Such a list is useless to 99.999% of Catholics who don’t need such a list in order to live our lives as faithful Catholics.  The list is only of interest to a few scrupulous persons, and to non-Catholic polemicists who like to bring it up thinking it means something.

Do you, as a Coptic Orthodox Oriental Christian in communion with the Pope of Rome accept all the teachings of the Church of Rome or do you withhold assent from some of them?
All the dogmatic teachings I accept with all my heart.  What teaching do you suspect I could or would reject?

Quote
Quote
As has been pointed out here and on CAF, you misrepresent the Vatican's teaching on the matter.
Quote
Strangely, the only ones who keep pointing out that I am misrepresenting the Catholic Faith are non-Catholics.

Haven't you encountered some stiff opposition from Catholics on CAF for some of your beliefs, on the IC and on your idiosyncratic limitations to papal infallibility and papal jurisdictional authority?
TBH, I've never encountered any opposition to my undersatnding on papal infallibility, much less the IC (though there has been debate about whether Mary died - but, heck, Latins debate about that amongst themselves). There has been disagreement in the past regarding my understanding of the primacy, but they were all eventually revealed to be a not a matter of disagreement on the theological basis for the primacy, but rather a disagreement on how the primacy was being practiced.
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« Reply #31 on: September 20, 2010, 10:19:44 AM »


Quote
(of course, we can't tell if Ineffabilis Deus is officially infallible: the offiical list of "ex cathedra" statements seem to be a carefully guarded secret of the highest order)

Such a list is useless to 99.999% of Catholics who don’t need such a list in order to live our lives as faithful Catholics.  The list is only of interest to a few scrupulous persons, and to non-Catholic polemicists who like to bring it up thinking it means something.

Do you, as a Coptic Orthodox Oriental Christian in communion with the Pope of Rome accept all the teachings of the Church of Rome or do you withhold assent from some of them?


Quote
As has been pointed out here and on CAF, you misrepresent the Vatican's teaching on the matter.
Quote
Strangely, the only ones who keep pointing out that I am misrepresenting the Catholic Faith are non-Catholics.

Haven't you encountered some stiff opposition from Catholics on CAF for some of your beliefs, on the IC and on your idiosyncratic limitations to papal infallibility and papal jurisdictional authority?

Mardukm is more than capable of answering for himself, but I will step in here to say two things:

1.  However much you are obsessed with some Internet forum, the CAF is not in any way a formal mediator of the Catholic faith.  In fact, as an aside, Catholic universities who ARE or WERE expected to teach intelligently and faithfully the truths of the Catholic faith produce such men as Andrew Sullivan who is the champion of womenpriests and who has spent his life assuring the ordinary Catholic that it is all right to dissent.  So when you want to know what the horse says it is best to go to the horses mouth...ya know.  That is where I go when I want the truth of Church teaching. 

And I never turn to anyone outside of the Church for correction or advisement on Catholic doctrine.

2.  In all that I have seen Mardukm teach, I have never seen him fall into error in any way that would distort the core truths of any Catholic teaching.

And on a personal not, when I came here the first thing you did was try to make it appear, by dint of your assertions, that I was telling and idiosyncratic truth about Catholic teaching.

It was not true in my own case and it is not true for Mardukm.

False witness is never good practice.

Mary
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« Reply #32 on: September 20, 2010, 10:19:44 AM »


Quote
Here you touch on precisely that point in Mina's presentation which troubled me--the separation of sinlessness and salvation.  This leads us, I think, into a discussion of the difference between the two covenants.  Perhaps we might put the question this way:  If Mary received the Holy Spirit at her conception, how could she have received the Holy Spirit again at Pentecost?  What difference did it make?

That’s a great question. I think brother Elijahmaria touched upon a good answer – the communal aspect of the Sacraments.  I don’t know if this is what he meant, but perhaps we can distinguish between the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church as a whole, from the singular actions of the Holy Spirit on particular people for particular circumstances in the course of salvation history.

My own answer is a bit different.  As we all know, the Holy Spirit gives different Graces.

Dear Mardukm,

It is a pleasure to finally have a chance to interact with you! 

Just a side note:  brother Elijahmaria is a sister!!  angel

I think this idea of "receiving the Holy Spirit" must be discussed in terms of sacraments and the personal reception of grace and the communal mediation of grace, before we can move on to discuss the causal issues under the heading of nature and grace, which is the dominant thrust of Father Kimel's initial question.   

These causal issues themselves are only comprehensible through the teaching of the Church and there is a direct connection between the sacramental life of the Church and Providence, which you point out so neatly, is the heartbeat of the interaction between nature and grace, some of which we can come to "know" and some of which remains mystery impenetrable.

So our thoughts, though not one, are converging!

M.

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« Reply #33 on: September 20, 2010, 10:19:57 AM »


My own answer is a bit different.  As we all know, the Holy Spirit gives different Graces.

According to the Dogma of the IC, Mary was preserved from “all stain of original sin.” According to Trent, what is washed from us at Baptism is “the stain of original sin.”  The “stain of original sin” is nothing more nor less than our separation from God.  The absence of the “stain of original sin” means that we are no longer separated from God – iow, we are saved.  So the Dogma of the IC, to me, simply means that Mary was saved at the instance of her conception.  What Mary received at the moment of her conception was nothing more nor less than the Grace of salvation, which is the same thing we receive at Baptism.  But is the Grace of salvation the same thing as the Grace to live a sinless life?  Is it the same thing as the Grace to teach?  Is it the same thing as the Grace to love? Etc.  

Dear Marduk,

Your expression here offers something of a temporal and qualitative disconnect with the actual teaching concerning the Immaculate Conception. 

I understand what you are saying and in a sense you are indeed correct but unfortunately it requires a bit more of an explanation.

Because the Mother of God was never touched by the stain of original sin, she was actually preserved from ever having to be redeemed as we have been redeemed.  That does not mean she did not posses the grace of redemption or did not need redemption, but it does mean that she did not receive it as we have received it.  She was not "healed" from the marring of original sin, she was preserved from it. 

The grace that justifies opens the mind and heart to God.  So yes, she is possessed of the grace that justifies from the moment of her conception.  That is her redemption given in such a way that her mind, heart and soul were never tainted with the stain of any sin.  She was immaculate from the first moment of her becoming.  Had she not been redeemed at the moment of her conception, she would have been born like the rest of us...marred, with a weakened will and darkened intellect, fully lost to original justice.

Tradition says she has been ever pure in heart and soul, in ways that set her apart from the rest of us...She was fit from all time to be the Ark, the Holy Tabernacle, the womb that gave flesh to the Son of the Living God.

M.



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« Reply #34 on: September 20, 2010, 02:10:17 PM »

Dear brother Isa,
Hello all,
Welcome back.

While you are at it, IIRC you promised some things on other IC threads. Can you pick up where you left off there? e.g.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3237.msg283679/topicseen.html#msg283679
Thanks. I’ll get to it soon
OK

I agree wholeheartedly with Fr. Kimel's conclusion - that the presence of Grace does not diminish free will.  I find the argument that the IC diminished St. Mary's free will to choose illogical.  That would mean that when Adam and Eve (who were in the same state of Grace that Mary was) sinned, they did not do so of their own free will, but were moved to do so by God.  That inevitably leads to the blasphemy that God is the author of evil
As does the thought that God made her the great exception, and let everyone else from Eve to Mary wander off.
There were righteous people in the OT, too, or did you forget that?
Not at all: I've remembered that they and God managed that with no one being IC'd.

Him, who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21. The Incarnation does not need the IC.
I don’t understand your interpretation of that passage as it relates to the IC. Are you saying that Jesus sinned?
God forbid! It just proves that the IC is an ingenious solution to a non-existent problem. All the protestations of horror that God would let His mother be subject to sin, even just original sin, for nought.

Quote
CCC 490 To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role."132 The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace.
491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia), and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature" [by typical slight of hand, this is not a quote from "the Fathers of the Eastern tradition," but from the Latin "Lumen Gentium" 56]. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.
"Let it be done to me according to your word. . ."
494 At the announcement that she would give birth to "the Son of the Most High" without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that "with God nothing will be impossible": "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace:

Potuit, sed non decuit ergo non fecit.

Since He became sin for us, He had no need of a IC's mother.

The IC is an innovation of known, recent invention. It is neither in Scripture nor in the Tradition received of the Apostles, but rather arises from the speculations that the Vatican's theologians cornered themselves into.
I quoted a whole list of Eastern Fathers in the old IC thread, and the only response I got was “you are misinterpreting them,” but with no explanations of how I was doing so. Oh well.

IIRC, you got plenty more than just "you are misinterpreting them." If we missed one, link and Lord willing I will remedy that.

As a general overview:
I've dealt with aspects of this already:
The Armenians do NOT believe in the IC, as a dogma or as a theologoumenon. I have already quoted from their Catholicos' OFFICIAL (you raised the issue of "non-official Catholic sites") on that issue.  Please quote SOMETHING to make your case.

It is also rather odd for you to worry about the Armenians being heretics in the OO communion, when you have been downplaying disbelief in the IC as grounds for heresy in your communion.

Btw, quoting from the services etc. of the EO and OO (quoting which thus far you have not done) are a rather tricky business when the Vatican tries to prove its dogmas, and those who have submitted in the East chime in.  An egregious example would be the use of the quote of St. Ephraim of Syrian by the Chaldeans under the Vatican: they will dismiss St. John of Chrisostom's (an Antiochian in origin, btw) on the immaculateness of the Holy Theotokos, saying that "it wasn't proclaimed as dogma.  It wasn't binding."  They will, however, latch onto the earlier "You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?" (Nisibene Hymns 27:8 [A.D. 361])," and, because the IC, according to the Vatican, is binding on them, will say "a-HA! Immaculate Conception."

Now, none of the Eastern (or for that matter Western) Syrians believed in the IC. For the Easterners, this is especially relevant, as they denied her the title Theotokos. Use of that title is still a little, shall we say, uncommon among them.

Now along comes the emessaries from the Vatican after a millenium of hymn writing, theology etc. and part (the majority?) of the Assyrians submit to the Vatican and become Chaldeans. No changes are made in the liturgy, hymns etc except to stick the name of the pope of Rome in the commemoration.

So they go off blissfully unaware that things have changed. Some of the brightest go off to Rome, where of course they emulate the ways of the big sister (as Rome didn't give the Faith to Syria, mother sounds strange). When in Rome, do as the Romans do. So they pick up the idea of, say, the IC, along with other latinizations, and, eager to please, start reading it into things of their own tradition which they try to keep.

Of course then, everything becomes crystal clear! Of course this referes to the IC! Ignoring, of course, that none of their forebares, who sang those same hymns, saw anything of the sort. Nor do those who remain outside of the Vatican's jurisdiction (the situation for all but the Maronites), who, because THEY have not changed their theology, and because the Vatican breaks lex orandi lex credendi, sing the same hymns, don't see the Vatican's theology in their common hymns.

So then the accusation is that these change their theology just to spite the pope of Rome, as if they care what he says or thinks. The projection of this obsession with the Vatican sometimes knows no bounds.
You would think that with all those proof texts for the IC laying around in the East, someone would have come up with it.  And yet that didn't happen: England had to dream it up, export it to the Vatican, who imposed it on the East.  No Copt, no Armenian, no Syriac, no Assyrian, no Ruumi believed the IC until they submitted to Rome.  Since they continue to say the same liturgical texts as their ancestors, it seems to reason their ancestors didn't see the IC in there either.
Btw, on a Eastern believer in the IC: Greek tradition and Latin influence in the work of George Scholarios: alone ... By Christopher Livanos
http://books.google.com/books?id=OACDBUzQJYMC&pg=PA20&dq=Bonaventure+this+foreign+doctrine+immaculate&cd=8#v=onepage&q=Bonaventure%20this%20foreign%20doctrine%20immaculate&f=false


Father, I have never understood the exceptional virtues of the Theotokos (or the Forerunner) to be the result of a SPECIAL Grace.  I believe everyone who comes to the Lord receives the same Grace that Mary recieved.  The Grace Mary received at her conception, the Grace St. John received six months after his conception, is the same Grace we receive at Baptism.  I don’t think the Dogma states that Mary received a special Grace; rather, it states she received a special privilege – this privilege being that she received the Grace (that we all now receive at Baptism) at the moment of conception.  In other words, styling the Grace that Mary (and other saints who led sinless lives) received as a SPECIAL Grace actually creates the (artificial and unnecessary) quandary you are trying to solve.  If we understand that all receive the same Grace, it is much easier to believe that Mary’s sinlessness was a result of her willful cooperation with that Grace.  Does that make sense?  So when opponents of the IC utilize the “special Grace” argument, they are simply introducing an artificial false dichotomy between Mary and the rest of humanity. In fact, Mary received the same Grace that we do at Baptism, and her sinlessness was the result not of some special Grace that no other human has or can receive, but rather the result of the same cooperation with Grace that is expected of us when we receive that Grace at Baptism.
Well, then you are at odds with your pope's "infallible" definition: "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful."
Every action of God in this world is a Grace of God.
It, rather, He, is God in His energies.

Yet more proof of no basis for a "singular privilege and grace."

The uniqueness of God’s action in Mary’s case was simply that it occurred at the “first instant of her conception.”

You have yet to provide a basis for that.

The rest of it – the power of God over original sin – is the same Grace that every other Christian receives at Baptism – as brother Elijahmaria pointed out.

Yes, the Theotokos was baptized before her Son was baptized, and put the fire of the Holy Spirit into baptism. It's the same time loop problem you have.

(of course, we can't tell if Ineffabilis Deus is officially infallible: the offiical list of "ex cathedra" statements seem to be a carefully guarded secret of the highest order)
Such a list is useless to 99.999% of Catholics who don’t need such a list in order to live our lives as faithful Catholics. The list is only of interest to a few scrupulous persons, and to non-Catholic polemicists who like to bring it up thinking it means something.

Well, all those trying to entice us into "union" prattle on about the "gift of infallibility," and how it solves all the problems we supposedly have. Sorry if our insistence on looking that Trojan horse in the mouth upsets you.

Since the only one that the Vatican can, without argument, be said to claim ex cathedra status, Munificentissimus Deus, does not have an anathema (as does Pastor Aeternus), but merely the statement that "if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith...It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul," I guess you can claim that those who do not question things can live out their lives in invincible ignorance.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07648a.htm
Ignorance is bliss.

I have always heard that the EO position on the matter is called synergy – that sinlessness comes about not purely by the power of free will without Grace, nor by Grace without free will, but by a cooperation between the two.  This is in fact the Catholic position with regards to Mary’s life after the IC – her sinlessness was due to a cooperation with the Grace of the IC, not due to an impossibility to sin because of the Grace of the IC.
As has been pointed out here and on CAF, you misrepresent the Vatican's teaching on the matter.
Strangely, the only ones who keep pointing out that I am misrepresenting the Catholic Faith are non-Catholics. 
No, plenty of your co-religionist (mostly the Latins in communion with Rome) pointed that out that you misrepresented the Vatican (misrepresenting the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Faith is a given).  Although CAF took care of most of the evidence, there is still some there to be seen. I'd name some names (or posters) but I don't know if it is allowed here. And of course, we all know why I can't there (I notice that Fr. Ambrose is still not marked as banned).

I learned my lesson a few years before becoming Catholic that you really can’t trust non-Catholics to explain the Catholic Faith.
How about ex-communicants of the Vatican? Those, like myself, who received a Vatican education?

You seem to have no problem telling us Orthodox  our Catholic Faith, rather telling us what we believe. Or rather, what you believe we believe, is is oddly similiar to what you claim we should believe.

Secondly, I must assert that I never claimed that Enoch, Elijah or the Forerunner were immaculately conceived.  I admit my memory is spotty, but it’s impossible that I could have ever made such a claim since, for example, Scripture tells us that St. John was sanctified six months after his conception.
Oh? Even before his conception it is said Luke 1:15 "he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." And St. John's conception is the only one celebrated besides the Holy Theotokos and of course the Lord's, the only Immaculate Conception. The celebration  of the conception of St. Anne is cited as a basis of the IC (one of the few that can even be attempted before 1054), why not St. John, as his immaculate conception, unlike the Theotokos', can make an argument based on the Gospel.
Because Scripture states that the Holy Spirit quickened the Forerunner six months from his conception in his mother’s womb, when St. Elizabeth met St. Mary.
The Gospel does not say that the Holy Spirit began to quicken the Forerunner six months from his conception, as if He was not at work in the Forerunner before. It does say before his conception that He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. It does say that at the greeting of the Theotokos, St. John leap, and then St. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Why do you ask such a senseless “based on the Gospel” question?
Just stating the fact that the argument for the IC of St. John can be more sensibly made from the Gospel and Tradition than the Vatican's argument on the IC can be made for the Holy Theotokos.

And could not be achieved before that Lamb had blood.
The power of the Sacrifice existed in the Eternal Moment, as testified by St. John the Evangelist (read Revelation if you don’t believe me).
It has to be in the moment in time to be of affect. Read the Epistle of the Hebrews if you don't believe me. Otherwise it could have done it when He gave the Protoevangelium that HE (not "she"-the Vatican in its "infallible ex cathedra" pronouncement relied of the Vulgate's faulty translation). It would be fitting that He do that. Therefore He would have done it. Thank you Duns Scotus.

So it was indeed available to God for Mary at the moment of her conception.

Only if it was available to all the generations between the Fall and her conception.
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« Reply #35 on: September 20, 2010, 02:54:50 PM »

The center of the issue is indeed the idea of separating "sinlessness" and "salvation."  We know that from St. Irenaeous' theology that Christ would have been incarnate even if there was to be no "fall."  In other words, there's more to the incarnation than merely salvation from sins.  We also know from St. Athanasius and from an OO father St. Severus (who made his views very clear in his fight against the aphthartodocetic views in Julianism) that there is no real change in human nature before or after the Fall.  The difference is simply the presence or lack of grace, which is pretty much God's active presence in one's nature.  Therefore, baptism plays a role not only in purifying one's soul in preparation for the descent of the Holy Spirit in this person, for even though the soul may have not sinned, the world itself is filthy, filled with lusts, with sights that can forever scar souls, with influences without end, baptism also leads one to be united into the mystical Body of Christ.

What is sin to me?  Well, sin can mean one of both things.  It can be an act of immorality, a breaking of the Law. ...  But we all know that being righteous and moral is not enough for salvation.  It is unity in God the Father through Christ by the Holy Spirit.  This is where another view of "sin" comes in.  St. Augustine even mentions Christ as the salvation of our apparent and "hidden" sins (from "The Confessions").  It seems to me, sin takes a different view than "immorality."  If we were to define sin as the state of our soul before God, then surely, "all have sinned" as St. Paul said, including the Virgin Theotokos and the Forerunner, and I cannot give exceptions to that.  So while they lived righteous, pure, and virtuous lives, I believe they too were included in the verses that St. Paul mentioned in Chapter 5, death reigned to all, even those who have not sinned, as St. John Chrysostom makes clear in his reading of St. Paul

I'd like to focus attention, Mina, on these two passages.  As I understand your argument, any human being, given the right familial, societal, and environmental conditions and proper ascetical training, can live a life in perfect obedience to the moral will of God.  It is difficult to do so, but not impossible.  Am I understanding your correctly so far?

But even if one were to live sinlessly, this would not bring salvation, for salvation is more than moral obedience; salvation is union with God through Christ in the Spirit, which I presume is bestowed on human beings by baptism and faith.  Hence every human being, no matter how sinless he may have lived, needs to be saved, for no one can achieve the divine life through their own efforts.  Am I understanding you correctly so far?  

As presented, your position would appear to satisfy the Church's condemnation of Pelagianism, because it acknowledges a distinction between nature and grace:  only by grace can man participate in the divine life of the Holy Trinity.  In this sense, both John the Baptist and the Theotokos needed to be saved.  All lack that which they most need, namely, the divine life that was made possible by the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Sergius Bulgakov makes a similar argument in his book The Burning Bush, in which he asserts that the Theotokos also needed to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, as depicted in this Coptic icon:



May I ask you to clarify your second construal of sin as a "state of our soul before God."  I am confused.  When you made this move I thought you were going to say that our Adamic inheritance is alienation from God, i.e., death of the soul; but then you immediately follow this up with passages from St John Chrysostom which identify our Adamic inheritance as mortality.  But surely mortality, in and of itself, is not inherently sinful.  You have already cited St Severus as maintaining that no real change occurred in human nature at the Fall, which must mean that humanity was originally created mortal (though no doubt intended by God to achieve immortality by his gracious gift).  

But perhaps "death" in this context signifies something deeper than mere physical death; perhaps it also signifies spiritual separation and alienation from God.  This, at least, is how I understand the reign of death in the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans.  I find support for this interpretation in some Eastern theologians; for example, St Gregory Palamas:

Quote
As the separation of the soul from the body is the death of the body, so the separation of God from the soul is the death of the soul. And this death of the soul is the true death. This is made clear by the commandment given in paradise, when God said to Adam, `On whatever day you eat from the forbidden tree you will certainly die.' And it was indeed Adam's soul that died by becoming through his transgression separated from God; for bodily he continued to live after that time, even for nine hundred and thirty years. The death, however, that befell the soul because of the transgression not only crippled the soul and made man accursed; it also rendered the body itself subject to fatigue, suffering and corruptibility, and finally handed it over to death. For it was after the dying of his inner self brought about by the transgression that the earthly Adam heard the words, `Earth will be cursed because of what you do, it will produce thorns and thistles for you.' … Thus the violation of God's commandment is the cause of all types of death, both of soul and body, whether in the present life or in that endless chastisement. And death, properly speaking, is this: for the soul to be unharnessed from divine grace and to be yoked to sin. This death, for those who have their wits, is truly dreadful and something to be avoided. This, for those who think aright, is more terrible than the chastisement of Gehenna. … As the death of the soul is authentic death, so the life of the soul is authentic life. Life of the soul is union with God, as life of the body is union with the soul. As the soul was separated from God and died in consequence of the violation of the commandment, so by obedience to the commandment it is again united to God and is quickened. … The death of the soul through transgression and sin, is then, followed by the death of the body and by its dissolution in the earth and its conversion into dust; and this bodily death is followed in its turn by the soul's banishment to Hades. … After our forefather's transgression in paradise through the tree, we suffered the death of our soul--which is the separation of the soul from God--prior to our bodily death; yet although we cast away our divine likeness, we did not lose our divine image.

("Topics on Natural and Theological Science", Chapters 9-14, Philokalia 4:296-297, 363)

Personally, I find the identification of ancestral sin as "death of the soul" far more satisfactory than the reduction of ancestral sin to mortality.  I certainly do not deny that fear of death leads human beings to turn away from God toward the self, but I also note that Satan and the fallen angels fell away from God not because of fear of death but because of the desire to be independent of God.  Pride and the desire for autonomy--here, it seems to me, is the essence of our sin.

I do not know if the notion of "death of the soul" belongs to the Oriental Orthodox tradition; but it is at the heart of the Latin understanding of original sin as it developed in the second millennium.      

  
« Last Edit: September 20, 2010, 02:58:04 PM by akimel » Logged

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« Reply #36 on: September 20, 2010, 03:20:07 PM »

Yes, EO sometimes equate synergy with semi-pelagianism. I have debated EO online who like to describe themselves as semi-pelagian in honor of St. John Cassian.  In the course of the debate, it’s normally revealed that their understanding of semi-pelagianism is not very historical, and that they did not really understand what St. John Cassian taught.

Marduk, I would love to hear your thoughts about Semi-Pelagianism and synergism.   

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« Reply #37 on: September 20, 2010, 10:37:20 PM »

Dear Fr. Kimel,

You understand me perfectly.  Therefore, I will only clarify what you asked me to clarify.

Yes, there is spiritual and physical death.  In the Old Testament, physical death itself seemed to be the punishment people were afraid of the most, and they seemed not to separate the things spiritual from the physical, since the Mosaic Law was a ministration of death to those who broke it.  However, even those who didn't break the Law, they still died a mortal death anyway.  In any case, whether the Law was there or not, all died because all lived in, using Western terminology, Original Sin (i.e. all sinned).  This is what St. Augustine taught after all, that even though infants themselves did not sin, they died as a result of being Adam's descendant (he also mentions elsewhere that they need to be baptized because they're born in Original Sin, which in this case, would be spiritual death).  St. Augustine also mentions in his commentary on Psalm VI:

Quote
Be we then willingly ignorant of that which the Lord would not have us know: and let us inquire what this title, “of the eighth,” means. The day of judgment may indeed, even without any rash computation of years, be understood by the eighth, for that immediately after the end of this world, life eternal being attained, the souls of the righteous will not then be subject unto times: and, since all times have their revolution in a repetition of those seven days, that peradventure is called the eighth day, which will not have this variety. There is another reason, which may be here not unreasonably accepted, why the judgment should be called the eighth, because it will take place after two generations, one relating to the body, the other to the soul. For from Adam unto Moses the human race lived of the body, that is, according to the flesh: which is called the outward and the old man, and to which the Old Testament was given, that it might prefigure the spiritual things to come by operations, albeit religious, yet carnal. Through this entire season, when men lived according to the body, “death reigned,” as the Apostle saith, “even over those that had not sinned.” Now it reigned “after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” as the same Apostle saith; for it must be taken of the period up to Moses, up to which time the works of the law, that is, those sacraments of carnal observance, held even those bound, for the sake of a certain mystery, who were subject to the One God. But from the coming of the Lord, from whom there was a transition from the circumcision of the flesh to the circumcision of the heart, the call was made, that man should live according to the soul, that is, according to the inner man, who is also called the “new man” by reason of the new birth and the renewing of spiritual conversation.

How else does one understand the verse, "Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even those who did not sin," reigning in the likeness of Adam's transgression?  All were spiritually and physically dead.  There was no escaping it.

I'm not denying that these people were spiritually dead from birth.  Yes, we are all spiritually dead from birth, which is synonymous to "Original Sin" to me.  As you perfectly put it:  

Quote
But perhaps "death" in this context signifies something deeper than mere physical death; perhaps it also signifies spiritual separation and alienation from God.  This, at least, is how I understand the reign of death in the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans.

But physical death was also a major part in the Old Testament, something which our Lord took, as we pray in the Gregorian Coptic Liturgy "turning the punishment into salvation."  Even St. Augustine where he talks about sin not being literally "sin" in Romans 12, but rather death, that death which Christ took.  When Christ took the appearance of "sinful flesh," it's not that He had sin, but that He had what is caused by sin, i.e. death, taking a mortal body to destroy sin in it, as is written in St. Augustine's commentary on the 35th Psalm:

Quote
“But I, when they troubled me, clothed myself with sackcloth, and humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer shall return into mine own bosom” (ver. 13)…Brethren, if for some little space with pious curiosity we lift the veil, and search with the intent eye of the heart the inner part of this Scripture, we find that even this the Lord did. Sackcloth, haply He calleth His mortal flesh. Wherefore Sackcloth? For the likeness of sinful flesh. For the Apostle saith, “God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that through sin He might condemn sin in the flesh:  that is, He clothed His Own Son with sackcloth, that through sackcloth He might condemn the goats. Not that there was sin, I say not in the Word of God, but not even in that Holy Soul and Mind of a Man, which the Word and Wisdom of God had so joined to Himself as to be One Person. Nay, nor even in His very Body was any sin, but the likeness of sinful flesh there was in the Lord; because death is not but by sin, and surely that Body was mortal. For had It not been mortal, It had not died; had It not died, It had not risen again; had It not risen again, It had not showed us an example of eternal life. So then death, which is caused by sin, is called sin; as we say the Greek tongue, the Latin tongue, meaning not the very member of flesh, but that which is done by the member of flesh. For the tongue in our members is one among others, as the eyes, nose, ears, and the rest: but the Greek tongue is Greek words, not that the tongue is words, but that words are by the tongue.…So then the sin of the Lord is that which was caused by sin; because He assumed flesh, of the same lump which had deserved death by sin. For to speak more briefly, Mary who was of Adam died for sin, Adam died for sin, and the Flesh of the Lord which was of Mary died to put away sin. With this sackcloth the Lord clothed Himself, and therefore was He not known, because He lay hid under sackcloth. “When they,” saith He, “troubled Me, I clothed Myself with sackcloth:” that is, they raged, I lay hid. For had He not willed to lie hid neither could He have died, since in one moment of time one drop only of His Power, if indeed it is to be called a drop, He put forth, when they wished to seize Him, and at His one question, “Whom seek ye?” they all went back and fell to the ground.  Such power could He not have humbled in passion, if He had not lain hid under sackcloth.

Here, one can see St. Augustine uses "sin" in this context as "death."  Our Lord was not spiritually dead of course, and in this, we can say He is born without "Original Sin" or "alienation from God," because He is after all God incarnate.  But in the incarnate flesh, He decided to take that which the Old Testament people could not conceivably separate from its spiritual counterpart.  He partook of physical death exposing its weakness in the spirit, and assuring us the hope of physical resurrection.  In this we say, death was defeated, not just spiritually by His incarnation, but also physically by His resurrection.

Because of Adam's sin, all died (both spiritually and physically) and all "sinned" (spiritual death) even those who had not sinned (not broke the Law).  Notice, St. Augustine does not exclude the Theotokos from this.

So, yes, in the OO tradition, we do believe in the spiritual death everyone is born with, where we are quickened through baptism and the sacraments.  And everytime we sin, we bring spiritual death upon ourselves, and a cycle of sin and death ravishes from this.  Sometimes, we can say death leads to sin because of this cycle.

Does that clarify anything?  If I am misinterpreting St. Augustine, I'd like to be corrected, as I am just finding these passages now.

I'd like to ask one question to Marduk or anyone else.  What's the difference between the "grace of sinlessness" and the "grace of salvation"?  I thought the "grace of salvation" is what she received that which lead to her "sinlessness."
« Last Edit: September 20, 2010, 10:40:58 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #38 on: September 21, 2010, 01:55:13 AM »


Quote
(of course, we can't tell if Ineffabilis Deus is officially infallible: the offiical list of "ex cathedra" statements seem to be a carefully guarded secret of the highest order)

Such a list is useless to 99.999% of Catholics who don’t need such a list in order to live our lives as faithful Catholics.  The list is only of interest to a few scrupulous persons, and to non-Catholic polemicists who like to bring it up thinking it means something.

Do you, as a Coptic Orthodox Oriental Christian in communion with the Pope of Rome accept all the teachings of the Church of Rome or do you withhold assent from some of them?


Quote
As has been pointed out here and on CAF, you misrepresent the Vatican's teaching on the matter.
Quote
Strangely, the only ones who keep pointing out that I am misrepresenting the Catholic Faith are non-Catholics.

Haven't you encountered some stiff opposition from Catholics on CAF for some of your beliefs, on the IC and on your idiosyncratic limitations to papal infallibility and papal jurisdictional authority?

Mardukm is more than capable of answering for himself, but I will step in here to say two things:

1.  However much you are obsessed with some Internet forum, the CAF is not in any way a formal mediator of the Catholic faith.  In fact, as an aside, Catholic universities who ARE or WERE expected to teach intelligently and faithfully the truths of the Catholic faith produce such men as Andrew Sullivan who is the champion of womenpriests and who has spent his life assuring the ordinary Catholic that it is all right to dissent.  So when you want to know what the horse says it is best to go to the horses mouth...ya know.  That is where I go when I want the truth of Church teaching. 

And I never turn to anyone outside of the Church for correction or advisement on Catholic doctrine.

2.  In all that I have seen Mardukm teach, I have never seen him fall into error in any way that would distort the core truths of any Catholic teaching.

And on a personal not, when I came here the first thing you did was try to make it appear, by dint of your assertions, that I was telling and idiosyncratic truth about Catholic teaching.

It was not true in my own case and it is not true for Mardukm.

False witness is never good practice.


Mary

I just wish that when you do not agree with me that you would not fall into the trap of bearing false witness against me.

Anybody who has spent as many years as I did no CAF with Mardukm will know how fiercely much of what he presented as Catholic teaching was resisted by Catholics.
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« Reply #39 on: September 21, 2010, 08:25:25 AM »

Dearest Father Ambrose,

I just wish that when you do not agree with me that you would not fall into the trap of bearing false witness against me.

Anybody who has spent as many years as I did no CAF with Mardukm will know how fiercely much of what he presented as Catholic teaching was resisted by Catholics.
The only topic that was "fiercely" discussed was the topic of Papal primacy.  As an Oriental, I have a very Oriental understanding of Ecclesiology - a "High Petrine" as opposed to an "Absolutist Petrine" or "Low Petrine" view.  I believe the Ecclesiology of the Catholic Church is "High Petrine" which put me at odds with those of the "Absolutist Petrine" among Catholics, and the "Low Petrine" camp among non-Catholics, who both accused me of misrepresenting the Catholic position.  You will admit, as is evident with anyone who visits CAF, that the majority of Catholics there (particularly Oriental and Eastern Catholics, and not a few Latin Catholics) agree that the Catholic position is "High Petrine." Within the "High Petrine" camp, there is also a lesser debate about just how well the CC is living that out and how well V1 reflects that position.


In any case, I don't know what relevance this has for this thread. It seems to have been started to satisfy someone's polemic agenda (it wasn't you, Father  Smiley)

Humbly,
Marduk
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« Reply #40 on: September 21, 2010, 08:39:29 AM »

Dear sister Mary,

According to the Dogma of the IC, Mary was preserved from “all stain of original sin.” According to Trent, what is washed from us at Baptism is “the stain of original sin.”  The “stain of original sin” is nothing more nor less than our separation from God.  The absence of the “stain of original sin” means that we are no longer separated from God – iow, we are saved.  So the Dogma of the IC, to me, simply means that Mary was saved at the instance of her conception.  What Mary received at the moment of her conception was nothing more nor less than the Grace of salvation, which is the same thing we receive at Baptism.  But is the Grace of salvation the same thing as the Grace to live a sinless life?  Is it the same thing as the Grace to teach?  Is it the same thing as the Grace to love? Etc.  

Your expression here offers something of a temporal and qualitative disconnect with the actual teaching concerning the Immaculate Conception.  

I understand what you are saying and in a sense you are indeed correct but unfortunately it requires a bit more of an explanation.

Because the Mother of God was never touched by the stain of original sin, she was actually preserved from ever having to be redeemed as we have been redeemed.  That does not mean she did not posses the grace of redemption or did not need redemption, but it does mean that she did not receive it as we have received it.  She was not "healed" from the marring of original sin, she was preserved from it.  

The grace that justifies opens the mind and heart to God.  So yes, she is possessed of the grace that justifies from the moment of her conception.  That is her redemption given in such a way that her mind, heart and soul were never tainted with the stain of any sin.  She was immaculate from the first moment of her becoming.  Had she not been redeemed at the moment of her conception, she would have been born like the rest of us...marred, with a weakened will and darkened intellect, fully lost to original justice.

Tradition says she has been ever pure in heart and soul, in ways that set her apart from the rest of us...She was fit from all time to be the Ark, the Holy Tabernacle, the womb that gave flesh to the Son of the Living God.
I agree with your explanation.  To say  “Mary was saved” would imply that Mary was previously “not saved,” which is not true.  That is why I made sure to establish that being “saved” equates with not being separated from God.  There was never a point in time when Mary was separated from God.  That is what I meant when I stated that “Mary was saved at the instance of her conception.” She had the Grace of salvation provided by her Son from the Cross, given to her from the first moment of her existence.

Blessings,
Marduk
« Last Edit: September 21, 2010, 08:40:29 AM by Mardukm » Logged
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« Reply #41 on: September 21, 2010, 08:58:03 AM »

Dear sister Mary,

According to the Dogma of the IC, Mary was preserved from “all stain of original sin.” According to Trent, what is washed from us at Baptism is “the stain of original sin.”  The “stain of original sin” is nothing more nor less than our separation from God.  The absence of the “stain of original sin” means that we are no longer separated from God – iow, we are saved.  So the Dogma of the IC, to me, simply means that Mary was saved at the instance of her conception.  What Mary received at the moment of her conception was nothing more nor less than the Grace of salvation, which is the same thing we receive at Baptism.  But is the Grace of salvation the same thing as the Grace to live a sinless life?  Is it the same thing as the Grace to teach?  Is it the same thing as the Grace to love? Etc.  

Your expression here offers something of a temporal and qualitative disconnect with the actual teaching concerning the Immaculate Conception.  

I understand what you are saying and in a sense you are indeed correct but unfortunately it requires a bit more of an explanation.

Because the Mother of God was never touched by the stain of original sin, she was actually preserved from ever having to be redeemed as we have been redeemed.  That does not mean she did not posses the grace of redemption or did not need redemption, but it does mean that she did not receive it as we have received it.  She was not "healed" from the marring of original sin, she was preserved from it.  

The grace that justifies opens the mind and heart to God.  So yes, she is possessed of the grace that justifies from the moment of her conception.  That is her redemption given in such a way that her mind, heart and soul were never tainted with the stain of any sin.  She was immaculate from the first moment of her becoming.  Had she not been redeemed at the moment of her conception, she would have been born like the rest of us...marred, with a weakened will and darkened intellect, fully lost to original justice.

Tradition says she has been ever pure in heart and soul, in ways that set her apart from the rest of us...She was fit from all time to be the Ark, the Holy Tabernacle, the womb that gave flesh to the Son of the Living God.
I agree with your explanation.  To say  “Mary was saved” would imply that Mary was previously “not saved,” which is not true.  That is why I made sure to establish that being “saved” equates with not being separated from God.  There was never a point in time when Mary was separated from God.  That is what I meant when I stated that “Mary was saved at the instance of her conception.” She had the Grace of salvation provided by her Son from the Cross, given to her from the first moment of her existence.

Blessings,
Marduk


I trusted that you would understand and that we would be of one accord on this point and the need to make it most clearly.  I hope my small and explicit clarification has been useful.

In Christ,

Mary
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« Reply #42 on: September 21, 2010, 05:28:24 PM »

Dear brother Isa,
Hello all,
Welcome back.

While you are at it, IIRC you promised some things on other IC threads. Can you pick up where you left off there? e.g.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3237.msg283679/topicseen.html#msg283679
Thanks. I’ll get to it soon

On a related note, while you are at it, I just came across this too:

You responded by quoting some Catholic source

Which, unlike your posts, has your "Magisterium" seal of approval and its A-OK.

You've yet to respond with any source, modern let alone ancient.

Quote
that Constantinople was out of communion with Rome from such date to such date.

That's where we're at.  Permit this initial response.  Your citation of the lack of communion between Constantinople and Rome has absolutely nothing to do with the main thesis - namely, the falsehood of your statement regarding St. Meletius.  I only need show that St. Meletius was not condemned by Rome as you claim.  If I can show that, then it will be proven that St. Chrysostom did not disobey the Pope by being ordained by him.

Unfortunately, I don't have time right now to find my old notes to support my statements from St. Basil.  I will do so when I return in a week or so.

Mardukm, you used that same excuse at byzcath six months ago.
http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/325299/mardukm#Post325299
where at last you alluded to same citations, but we never got what quotations you were basing yourself on.
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« Reply #43 on: September 21, 2010, 05:38:03 PM »

Thank you, Mina, for your latest response.  I have very little to add.  Once agreement on original sin as spiritual death is established, then all other disagreements about the "sinlessness" of the Old Testament saints or even virtuous pagans seems fairly minor.   Theologians disagree all the time about these questions.  Such disagreements need not be Church-dividing. 

May I commend to you Sergius Bulgakov's presentation of the Theotokos in his book The Burning Bush.  I think you may find it of interest.  He is severe in his criticism of the Latin formulation of the Immaculate Conception, but his apprehension of the holiness of the Theotokos, from the moment of her conception, is quite compelling. 
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« Reply #44 on: September 21, 2010, 07:51:01 PM »

Thank you, Mina, for your latest response.  I have very little to add.  Once agreement on original sin as spiritual death is established, then all other disagreements about the "sinlessness" of the Old Testament saints or even virtuous pagans seems fairly minor.   Theologians disagree all the time about these questions.  Such disagreements need not be Church-dividing. 

May I commend to you Sergius Bulgakov's presentation of the Theotokos in his book The Burning Bush.  I think you may find it of interest.  He is severe in his criticism of the Latin formulation of the Immaculate Conception, but his apprehension of the holiness of the Theotokos, from the moment of her conception, is quite compelling. 

I must admit, I brought up the idea long time ago about the immaculate conception of St. John the Forerunner precisely because of Fr. Bulgakov's book "The Friend of the Bridegroom."  This was when I was introduced to the distinction he gave between "personal sin" and "original sin," where he also expressed belief that both the Theotokos and the Forerunner were both without personal sin, but not without original sin.

And furthermore, the way in which I interpreted some passages by St. Jacob of Serugh (a non-Chalcedonian saint) seemed to fortify my beliefs that words like "immaculate" or "pure" or "undefiled" speak of her actions, not necessarily of her soul.  I will share these words with you, in which Marduk interpreted them differently as a "second purification," which I find very confusing to understand personally.

Quote from: St. Jacob of Serugh "On the Theotokos"
Our Lord descending to earth beheld all women;
He chose one for Himself who among them all was pleasing.

He searched her and found humility and holiness in her,
and limpid impulses and a soul desirous of divinity.

And a pure heart and every reckoning of perfection,
because of this He chose her, the pure and most fair one.

...

He observed her, how exalted and pure from evil,
nor stirs in her an impulse inclined to lust.

And she allows no thought for luxury,
nor worldly conversation which causes cruel harm.

Desire for worldly vanity does not burn in her,
nor is she occupied with childish things.

...

She was a person of discernment, full of the love of God,
because our Lord does not dwell where there is no love.

When the Great King desired to come to our place,
He dwelt in the purest shrine of all the earth because it please him.

He dwelt in a spotless womb which was adorned with virginity,
and with thoughts which were worthy of holiness.

...

Maiden, full of beauty hidden in her and around her,
and pure of heart that she might see the mysteries which had come to pass in her.

This is beauty, when one is beautiful of one's own accord;
glorious graces of perfection are in her will.

However great be the beauty of something from God,
it is not acclaimed if freedom is not present.

...

If another had pleased more than her, He would have chosen that one,
for the Lord does not respect persons since He is just and right.

If there had been a spot in her soul or a defect,
He would have sought for Himself another mother in whom there is no blemish.

This beauty which is the most pure of all beauties,
exists in the one who possesses it by means of a good will.

...

She was made pure like John and like Elisha,
like Elias and like Melchisedek, who were renowned.

She ascended to the degree of these heights in beauty,
so she was chosen to be the Mother of the Son of the Holy One.

She drew near to the limit of virtue by her soul;
so, that grace which is without limit dwelt in her.

Quote from: St. Jacob of Serugh "On the Theotokos"
Indeed, the Holy Spirit came to Mary,
to let loose from her the former sentence of Eve and Adam.

He sanctified her, purified her and made her blessed among women;
He freed her from that curse of sufferings on account of Eve, her mother.

...

The Spirit freed her from that debt that she might be beyond
transgression when He solemnly dwelt in her.

He purified the Mother by the Holy Spirit while dwelling in her,
that He might take from her a pure body without sin.

...

The Word had descended that He might become flesh; on this account,
by the Spirit He purified the one from whom He had become flesh,

so that He might become like us in everything when He descended,
except for this:  that His pure body is without sin.

...

He made her pure, limpid, and blessed
as that Eve, before the serpent spoke with her.

He bestowed on her that first grace which her mother had,
until she ate from the tree which was full of death.

The Spirit who came made her like Eve of old,
though she did not hear the council of the serpent nor his hateful speech.

...

He sanctified her body and made her without hateful lusts,
as the virgin Eve had been until she lusted.

The sin which entered Adam's race with impulses of desire,
the Holy Spirit cast out from her when He came within her.

That increase of evil inclination which the serpent effected,
He wiped from her and filled her with holiness and integrity.

...

She rose up to this measure on her own,
until the Spirit, that perfecter of all came to her.

She was full of grace from God which was more exalted than all;
the Only-begotten dwelt in her womb to renew all.

To be honest, I think what is confessed in the Immaculate Conception, according to St. Jacob of Serugh happened in the Annunciation.  I do not understand how one can say this is a second purification when clearly St. Jacob confesses this is the same grace Eve had before she ate from the tree.  The "sin which entered Adam's race" was taken way at the annunciation.  That to me sounds precisely like the result received at baptism.

http://books.google.com/books?id=_yXXS869Q6IC&printsec=frontcover&dq=jacob+of+serug+on+the+mother+of+god&source=bl&ots=jMxA0a6Yec&sig=teV3MnubDsUk0vWDtGn-dbzuO8s&hl=en&ei=4kaZTL3IJsm88gb-hPD7Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
« Last Edit: September 21, 2010, 08:00:19 PM by minasoliman » Logged

Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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