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Author Topic: The sinlessness of the Theotokos, John the Baptist, and the Old Testament Saints  (Read 8574 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.

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.

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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?


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?
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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."
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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
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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
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« Reply #45 on: September 22, 2010, 11:59:32 AM »

Dear brother Mina,

I expressed most of these points that you have been discussing with Father Kimel in the old Immaculate Conception thread. It’s a wonder we kept talking past each other in that thread.  In any case, I would like to address just a few items.
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.
Actually, in another place (perhaps Fr. Kimel can provide it), St. Augustine specifically asserts that he excludes Mary from any statements he may have on sin.  The dogma of the IC does not exclude Mary from physical death, but only the spiritual death. 

The rejoinder given in the old IC thread (I’m not sure if it was from you) was that one cannot separate spiritual death from physical death.  I responded that this cannot be the case because at Baptism, spiritual death is removed, yet physical death remains. I forget if there was ever a reply to that. Anyway, I don’t want to hijack this thread, and I’ll defer to Fr. Kimel’s judgment if this conversation on the IC is doing so..

Quote
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."
Thank you for this opportunity to explain. 

The Grace of salvation is what unites us to God, making us children of God. It is otherwise known as the Grace of Justification. It is the same Grace we receive from the Sacrament of Baptism. 

The Grace of sinlessness is the Grace to fight the power of sin in our lives. It is otherwise known as the Grace of Sanctification. This is the same Grace we receive from the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is the Grace of sinlessness/Sanctification which, through our free-will cooperation with it, allows us to maintain the Grace of salvation/Justification in and for ourselves.

Mary received the Grace of Salvation/Justification from the first moment of her existence (in other words, she was united to God, a child of God, since the first moment of her existence).  According to Tradition, it seems she received the Grace of sinlessness/Sanctification while living at the Temple having been dedicated to that vocation by her holy parents.  It’s also possible, of course, that she received the Grace of sinlessness/Sanctification at her conception. I think this is a common belief among the Latins.  In either case, Mary’s sinlessness throughout her life was due to her free-will cooperation with that Grace of sinlessness/Sanctification that we ourselves receive at fro, the Sacrament of Confirmation.

But there is also something unique about Mary that distinguishes her from the rest of humanity (well, aside from her role as Theotokos, of course) by virtue of the fact that she had never been separated from God since the first moment of her existence. Since Mary had never been touched by the stain of sin (i.e., separation from God/spiritual death), then she never acquired concupiscence.

I know that there are many, many people who understand concupiscence as “the tendency to sin.” But that is not its primary definition according to Pope St. Athanasius. Our father Athanasius taught that concupiscence is simply the disordered use of reason. Now, does not having concupiscence mean Mary did not have the possibility of sinning?  Does it mean that she could not be tempted? Does it mean she could not experience sorrow, or pain, or longing or any of the other effects by virtue of our human nature?  Not at all. For if not having concupiscence is equated to the incapability to sin, then Adam and Eve could not possibly have sinned.  So Mary was indeed like us in all things, except in those things which was required by the Divine plan for her to be the Mother of God.

Quote
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.

I don’t believe I ever used the words “second purification.” I think that was your interpretation of what I stated. I may have used it (it’s been so long ago), but if I did, I would never have intended it to mean that the first purification was exactly like the second purification. As explained in previous posts, the Holy Spirit gives different Graces, and the Grace received by Mary at her conception is different than other Graces she received later in life.

As far as St. Jacob is concerned, I remember telling you in the old IC thread that reading his work simply reinforced my belief in the IC.  I do not remember if I fully explained my position with respect to St. Jacob’s work. I don’t think I did, so permit me to do so right now.

There are glaring inconsistencies in St. Jacob’s statements if one interprets it as how I perceive you do.  For example: In the first set of statements, he writes:
“He observed her, how exalted and pure from evil,
nor stirs in her an impulse inclined to lust”


And in the second set of statements that you interpret as a description of the Annunciation, he writes:
”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.”


But one has to ask, how is it that the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation (according to your interpretation) could remove “impulses of desire and lusts” from her, when he had previously written that God observed her and chose her because she had no impulses inclined to lust?

Again, in the first set of statements, St. Jacob writes:
“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.”


And in the second set of statements that you interpret as a description of the Annunciation, he writes:
”He sanctified her, purified her, and made her blessed among women;”

But one has to ask, how is it that the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation (according to your interpretation) needed to sanctify or purify her, when he had previously written that God chosen her because she was pure, with no spot or defect or blemish?

The only way to overcome these apparent inconsistencies in St. Jacob’s writing is to understand his work not as some literally chronological relation of events, but rather as a poetic masterpiece, which has as its main purpose to relate salient truths about Mary’s divine maternity, utilizing poetic license in the chronology of events.

So what you interpret as actions of the Holy Spirit on Mary at the Annunciation should rather be seen as actions of the Holy Spirit on Mary at both her Annunciation and at some other time much earlier than her Annunciation.

Now the reason that reading these passages from St. Jacob reinforced my belief in the IC was because whereas before I believed that Mary indeed received all Graces at the Annunciation, St. Jacob showed me that this is not true – that she indeed received many Graces before the Annunciation.

For example, though he acclaims her beauty of soul due to her free will, he nevertheless affirms that her beauty was from God.  And while extolling her use of free will, he simultaneously affirms that her will was perfected through “glorious graces.”  Though he does not answer when Mary received these graces, the fact that it was certainly before the Annunciation opened up my conscience to accept the greater possibility of the Truth of the IC.

Abundant blessings,
Marduk

P.S. Are you aware that St. Severus’ anthropology – that physical death is not so much a punishment, but rather part of our nature - comes from Pope St. Athanasius?  This
position (which I have always held) really helped in my understanding of the IC. I believe I shared this in the old IC thread with you. Would you like a quick recap of my thoughts on the matter?
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« Reply #46 on: September 22, 2010, 12:03:22 PM »

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

Well stated Marduk. I am always glad when you are around to add to the conversation.
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« Reply #47 on: September 22, 2010, 03:00:29 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

I expressed most of these points that you have been discussing with Father Kimel in the old Immaculate Conception thread. It’s a wonder we kept talking past each other in that thread.  In any case, I would like to address just a few items.

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.
Actually, in another place (perhaps Fr. Kimel can provide it), St. Augustine specifically asserts that he excludes Mary from any statements he may have on sin.  The dogma of the IC does not exclude Mary from physical death, but only the spiritual death.
Which is why it is not logically consistent with the whole of Orthodox Catholic Apostolic theology.

The rejoinder given in the old IC thread (I’m not sure if it was from you) was that one cannot separate spiritual death from physical death.  I responded that this cannot be the case because at Baptism, spiritual death is removed, yet physical death remains. I forget if there was ever a reply to that.

This reply?
Dear brother Isa,

P.S. I haven't read your REALLY long post yet.  Perhaps in a few days when I have more time.  Thanks for your patience.
Like this?
The Graces Mary received at the Annunciation are different - these particular Graces affected her very body

WAIT A MINUTE!  You were the one claiming that the IC only affected the Theotokos' soul, not her body.  Are you saying that the "grace of the IC" is not connected to the grace of the Annuciation now?

Unfortunately for you, your Vatican's "infallible documents" connect the IC to her immortality and incoruptibilty, as I pointed out when you tried to get the body of the Theotokos out of the IC:
In the Decree on Original Sin at the Council of Trent, the Church defined that in Baptism, mankind is "made innocent, without stain, pure...beloved sons of God."

Do you see the word "stain" in the definition, Father?  Do you see the connection?  "Stain" refers to the SPIRITUAL consequences of original sin, NOT the physical/tactile consequences (unless your innovative polemics are now going to claim that the Catholic Church teaches that Baptism means we can no longer die).
So when the dogma of the IC states that Mary was preserved from all STAIN of original sin, it is referring exclusively to the SPIRITUAL consequences of original sin, and is not making any reference to the physical/tactile consequences.  In other words, the dogma of the IC is not claiming that the Graces Mary received at the moment of the Immaculate Conception somehow freed her from death, or physical/emotional infirmities, or bodily corruption, etc.
Your fine distinction in the IC are not found in Ineffibilus Deus.  Are they a refinement?
Btw,....



If any grace was withheld, than the all-or-nothing argument of the eisogesis of the IC into Luke 1:28 falls apart.
Anyway, I don’t want to hijack this thread, and I’ll defer to Fr. Kimel’s judgment if this conversation on the IC is doing so..
Perhaps then on this thread?
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20612.msg328462/topicseen.html#msg328462
I took a quick skim through it, and your questions were answered. Many times. But if you see something unaddressed, revive that thread or link here and I'll see to remedying that, Lord willing.

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."
Thank you for this opportunity to explain.  

The Grace of salvation is what unites us to God, making us children of God. It is otherwise known as the Grace of Justification. It is the same Grace we receive from the Sacrament of Baptism.  

The Grace of sinlessness is the Grace to fight the power of sin in our lives. It is otherwise known as the Grace of Sanctification. This is the same Grace we receive from the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is the Grace of sinlessness/Sanctification which, through our free-will cooperation with it, allows us to maintain the Grace of salvation/Justification in and for ourselves.

Mary received the Grace of Salvation/Justification from the first moment of her existence (in other words, she was united to God, a child of God, since the first moment of her existence).  According to Tradition, it seems she received the Grace of sinlessness/Sanctification while living at the Temple having been dedicated to that vocation by her holy parents.  It’s also possible, of course, that she received the Grace of sinlessness/Sanctification at her conception. I think this is a common belief among the Latins.  In either case, Mary’s sinlessness throughout her life was due to her free-will cooperation with that Grace of sinlessness/Sanctification that we ourselves receive at fro, the Sacrament of Confirmation.

But there is also something unique about Mary that distinguishes her from the rest of humanity (well, aside from her role as Theotokos, of course) by virtue of the fact that she had never been separated from God since the first moment of her existence. Since Mary had never been touched by the stain of sin (i.e., separation from God/spiritual death), then she never acquired concupiscence.

I know that there are many, many people who understand concupiscence as “the tendency to sin.” But that is not its primary definition according to Pope St. Athanasius. Our father Athanasius taught that concupiscence is simply the disordered use of reason.

Can you give us a quote, as "disordered" is a favorite term of the Vatican, and a search of St. Athanasius' works here
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.html
didn't turn up a single instance of the term that I could see. PLEASE! let us see what St. Athanasius says, not your paraphrase of what you think he says, or what the Vatican tells you he says.  Then we can tell if your argument is based on Pope St. Athanasius or merely invoking his name.

Now, does not having concupiscence mean Mary did not have the possibility of sinning?  Does it mean that she could not be tempted? Does it mean she could not experience sorrow, or pain, or longing or any of the other effects by virtue of our human nature?  Not at all. For if not having concupiscence is equated to the incapability to sin, then Adam and Eve could not possibly have sinned.  So Mary was indeed like us in all things, except in those things which was required by the Divine plan for her to be the Mother of God.

"‘I say nothing of what has gone before, that ye have outraged Him, Him that had done you no wrong, Him that had done you good, that He exacted not justice, that He is first to beseech, though first outraged; let none of these things be set down at present. Ought ye not in justice to be reconciled for this one thing only that He hath done to you now?’ And what hath He done? (I Cor. 5:21) “Him that knew no sin He made to be sin, for you.” For had He achieved nothing but done only this, think how great a thing it were to give His Son for those that had outraged Him. But now He hath both well achieved mighty things, and besides, hath suffered Him that did no wrong to be punished for those who had done wrong. But he did not say this: but mentioned that which is far greater than this. What then is this? “Him that knew no sin,” he says, Him that was righteousness itself.  “He made sin,” that is suffered as a sinner to be condemned, as one cursed to die. “For cursed is he that hangeth on a tree.” (Gal. iii. 13.) For to die thus was far greater than to die; and this he also elsewhere implying, saith, “Becoming obedient unto death, yea the death of the cross.” (Philip. ii. 8.) For this thing carried with it not only punishment, but also disgrace. Reflect therefore how great things He bestowed on thee. For a great thing indeed it were for even a sinner to die for any one whatever; but when He who undergoes this both is righteous and dieth for sinners; and not dieth only, but even as one cursed; and not as cursed [dieth] only, but thereby freely bestoweth upon us those great goods which we never looked for; (for he says, that “we might become the righteousness of God in Him;”) what words, what thought shall be adequate to realize these things? ‘For the righteous,’ saith he, ‘He made a sinner; that He might make the sinners righteous.’  Yea rather, he said not even so, but what was greater far; for the word he employed is not the habit, but the quality itself. For he said not “made” [Him] a sinner, but “sin;” not, ‘Him that had not sinned’ only, but “that had not even known sin; that we” also “might become,” he did not say ‘righteous,’ but, “righteousness,” and, “the righteousness of God.” For this is [the righteousness] “of God” when we are justified not by works, (in which case it were necessary that not a spot even should be found,) but by grace, in which case all sin is done away. And this at the same time that it suffers us not to be lifted up, (seeing the whole is the free gift of God,) teaches us also the greatness of that which is given. For that which was before was a righteousness of the Law and of works, but this is “the righteousness of God.”  
Reflecting then on these things, let us fear these words more than hell; let us reverence the things [they express] more than the kingdom, and let us not deem it grievous to be punished, but to sin. For were He not to punish us, we ought to take vengeance on ourselves, who have been so ungrateful towards our Benefactor. Now he that hath an object of affection, hath often even slain himself, when unsuccessful in his love; and though successful, if he hath been guilty of a fault towards her, counts it not fit that he should even live; and shall not we, when we outrage One so loving and gentle, cast ourselves into the fire of hell? Shall I say something strange, and marvellous, and to many perhaps incredible? To one who hath understanding and loveth the Lord as it behoveth to love Him, there will be greater comfort if punished after provoking One so loving, than if 335not punished. And this one may see by the common practice. For he that has wronged his dearest friend feels then the greatest relief, when he has wreaked vengeance on himself and suffered evil. And accordingly David said, “I the shepherd have sinned, and I the shepherd have done amiss; and these the flock, what have they done? Let Thy hand be upon me, and upon my father’s house.” (2 Sam. xxiv. 17. LXX.) And when he lost Absalom he wreaked the extremest vengeance upon himself, although he was not the injurer but the injured; but nevertheless, because he loved the departed exceedingly, he racked himself with anguish, in this manner comforting himself. Let us therefore also, when we sin against Him Whom we ought not to sin against, take vengeance on ourselves. See you not those who have lost true-born children, that they therefore both beat themselves and tear their hair, because to punish themselves for the sake of those they loved carries comfort with it. But if, when we have caused no harm to those dearest to us, to suffer because of what hath befallen them brings consolation; when we ourselves are the persons who have given provocation and wrong, will it not much rather be a relief to us to suffer the penalty and will not the being unpunished punish? Every one in a manner will see this. If any love Christ as it behoveth to love Him, he knoweth what I say; how, even when He forgiveth, he will not endure to go unpunished; for thou undergoest the severest punishment in having provoked Him. And I know indeed that I am speaking what will not be believed by the many; but nevertheless it is so as I have said. If then we love Christ as it behoveth to love Him, we shall punish ourselves when we sin. For to those who love any whomsover, not the suffering somewhat because they have provoked the beloved one is unpleasing; but above all, that they have provoked the person loved. And if this last when angered doth not punish, he hath tortured his lover more; but if he exacts satisfaction, he hath comforted him rather. Let us therefore not fear hell, but offending God; for it is more grievous than that when He turns away in wrath: this is worse than all, this heavier than all. And that thou mayest learn what a thing it is, consider this which I say. If one that was himself a king, beholding a robber and malefactor under punishment, gave his well-beloved son, his only-begotten and true, to be slain; and transferred the death and the guilt as well, from him to his son, (who was himself of no such character,) that he might both save the condemned man and clear him from his evil reputation. ; and then if, having subsequently promoted him to great dignity, he had yet, after thus saving him and advancing him to that glory unspeakable, been outraged by the person that had received such treatment: would not that man, if he had any sense, have chosen ten thousand deaths rather than appear guilty of so great ingratitude? This then let us also now consider with ourselves, and groan bitterly for the provocations we have offered our Benefactor; nor let us therefore presume, because though outraged He bears it with long-suffering; but rather for this very reason be full of For amongst men too, when one that hath been smitten on the right cheek offers the left also, he more avengeth himself than if he gave ten thousand blows; and when one that hath been reviled, not only revileth not again but even blesseth, he hath stricken [his adversary] more heavily, than if he rained upon him ten thousand reproaches. Now if in the case of men we feel ashamed when offering insults we meet with long-suffering; much rather, in respect to God, ought they to be afraid who go on continually sinning yet suffer no calamity. For, even for evil unto their own heads is the unspeakable punishment treasured up for them. These things then bearing in mind, let us above all things be afraid of sin; for this is punishment, this is hell, this is ten thousand ills. And let us not only be afraid of, but also flee from it, and strive to please God continually; for this is the kingdom, this is life, this is ten thousand goods. So shall we also even here obtain already the kingdom and the good things to come; whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ; with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen."-St. John Chrysostom
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf112.v.xi.html
How do you fit the IC in all that?

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.
I don’t believe I ever used the words “second purification.” I think that was your interpretation of what I stated. I may have used it (it’s been so long ago), but if I did, I would never have intended it to mean that the first purification was exactly like the second purification. As explained in previous posts, the Holy Spirit gives different Graces, and the Grace received by Mary at her conception is different than other Graces she received later in life.

That sort of negates the "full of grace" argument of your "infallible" statement of the 'singular" grace of the IC:
Quote
When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction.

As far as St. Jacob is concerned, I remember telling you in the old IC thread that reading his work simply reinforced my belief in the IC.  I do not remember if I fully explained my position with respect to St. Jacob’s work. I don’t think I did, so permit me to do so right now.

There are glaring inconsistencies in St. Jacob’s statements if one interprets it as how I perceive you do.  For example: In the first set of statements, he writes:
“He observed her, how exalted and pure from evil,
nor stirs in her an impulse inclined to lust”


And in the second set of statements that you interpret as a description of the Annunciation, he writes:
”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.”


But one has to ask, how is it that the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation (according to your interpretation) could remove “impulses of desire and lusts” from her, when he had previously written that God observed her and chose her because she had no impulses inclined to lust?

Again, in the first set of statements, St. Jacob writes:
“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.”


And in the second set of statements that you interpret as a description of the Annunciation, he writes:
”He sanctified her, purified her, and made her blessed among women;”

But one has to ask, how is it that the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation (according to your interpretation) needed to sanctify or purify her, when he had previously written that God chosen her because she was pure, with no spot or defect or blemish?

The only way to overcome these apparent inconsistencies in St. Jacob’s writing is to understand his work not as some literally chronological relation of events, but rather as a poetic masterpiece, which has as its main purpose to relate salient truths about Mary’s divine maternity, utilizing poetic license in the chronology of events.

So what you interpret as actions of the Holy Spirit on Mary at the Annunciation should rather be seen as actions of the Holy Spirit on Mary at both her Annunciation and at some other time much earlier than her Annunciation.

Now the reason that reading these passages from St. Jacob reinforced my belief in the IC was because whereas before I believed that Mary indeed received all Graces at the Annunciation, St. Jacob showed me that this is not true – that she indeed received many Graces before the Annunciation.

For example, though he acclaims her beauty of soul due to her free will, he nevertheless affirms that her beauty was from God.  And while extolling her use of free will, he simultaneously affirms that her will was perfected through “glorious graces.”  Though he does not answer when Mary received these graces, the fact that it was certainly before the Annunciation opened up my conscience to accept the greater possibility of the Truth of the IC.

Abundant blessings,
Marduk
I'll defer to Mina having first crack to reply, as you are basing yourself on how you think he views the poetry of the saint.

P.S. Are you aware that St. Severus’ anthropology – that physical death is not so much a punishment, but rather part of our nature - comes from Pope St. Athanasius?  This position (which I have always held) really helped in my understanding of the IC. I believe I shared this in the old IC thread with you. Would you like a quick recap of my thoughts on the matter?
Can you supply some quote from both, because as presented here, they would both be wrong. Death is not the nature of man, as he was created for eternity.  Neither of them were proto-Calivinists: they held the fall occured in history, but not in essence.

Of course, the defense of the IC shows that history isn't your strong point.



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« Reply #48 on: September 22, 2010, 03:07:41 PM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?
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« Reply #49 on: September 22, 2010, 04:12:00 PM »


Point of Order ---- does anybody else besides me shudder when the Mother of God is spoken of as "Mary."    Anybody remember when the nuns would rap you with a wooden ruler for saying that instead of "Our Lady"?  Am I ever o~l~d?
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« Reply #50 on: September 22, 2010, 04:48:18 PM »

It doesn't make me shudder, but I personally cannot fathom using her name without at least "The Virgin..." in front of it and almost exclusively call her "The Blessed Mother".

Yes, I know, as an Orthodox, I "should" call her "Theotokos," but old habits die hard and no one off the internet has ever corrected me for calling her "The Blessed Mother." 
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« Reply #51 on: September 22, 2010, 04:52:21 PM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?

If our All-Holy Mother was immaculately conceived then so am I and and you and Pope Benedict and the Dalai Lama.  But if she wasn't immaculately conceived then neither are the rest of us.  We all share one and the same manner of conception.
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« Reply #52 on: September 22, 2010, 04:52:27 PM »

I'm going to ruminate on the distinction of "grace of sinlessness" vs. "grace of salvation."  I gave an analogy earlier, which Fr. Kimel doesn't find necessary to discuss, seeing that it shouldn't separate us.  Nevertheless, I wonder if your read my analogy on God's effect on Pharaoh, "hardening his heart," or effecting King Cyrus and Baal to prophecy correctly?  What are these to you?  I seem to see them as man's free will in reaction I suppose to the grace of God that fills the universe, whereas God's salvific work is a much deeper inner work.

So, all these "graces" one explains, really I consider it one grace, one that works externally with reaction to the will of man, and the same one that works internally that transforms man.  Even when Pharaoh would harden his will, it is said that "God hardened his heart." Likewise, when (here comes the segway into St. Jacob of Serug), St. Jacob says that her beauty is from God, I want to ask you, can you really for sure say St. Jacob is saying that this means she was immaculately conceived?  We all receive certain talents considering them as gifts from God.  Her talent is precisely that which comes from God, not in any way different from any other man.  And in fact, you completely skipped the part where he says, "This is beauty, when one is beautiful of one's own accord."  Therefore, if graces of perfection are in her will, then it is precisely because she reached that state with her own accord, increasing in favor with God:

Quote
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.

It was by her soul she became virtuous, so that God may grow more and more in favor with her.  St. Jacob answers this paradox for you:

Quote
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.

On her own, he says, she rose to the measure of perfection, so that she may be saved at the Annunciation by the Holy Spirit, and be the Mother of God, full of grace.  It is therefore, in my opinion, logical to believe that God directly was involved in some sort of immaculate conception of the Virgin's perfections as one believing that Pharaoh was born with an over-maculate conception that lead to the hardening of his heart.

As for St. Augustine, he says, she died for sin, like Adam.  He did not say, "she died because that was a mortal body," but clearly, "she died for sin," and I'm assuming in this context "Original Sin," not "personal sin" as you are stating St. Augustine is contemplating.  So, what you say about St. Augustine can still support my interpretation, which leads to another and final point:

I noticed that in the discussion between me and you, a premise was assumed between the both of us, leading us not to really see eye-to-eye to get at the root of the problem.  You are assuming St. Jacob believed in the immaculate conception, and thus interpret his writings in a way that supports your ideas.  I am assuming St. Jacob believed she was immaculate even when concupiscence was there, and the way I read him supported my ideas.  The layers of definitions (when I say layers of definitions, I mean such new things that I learn like "grace of sinlessness" vs. "grace of salvation" which I personally am scandalized by this, not necessarily because of the wrongness of the matter, but how convenient it is to use to further strengthen the case, something which I never heard Latins use) upon which we add to the ideas to strengthen our case seems to make it all the more obvious either we are to agree to disagree, or we need to figure something else out to get past this and find other ways in trying to see how this works.  You accused me of semi-Pelagianism, and I was surprised at the accusation.  I think this is the heart of the issue, and Fr. Kimel is right.

However, it seems to me that Fr. Kimel doesn't find my beliefs a church-dividing issue.  While, I might see great humility in his response, this also confuses me.  What then does that make the "dogma" of the immaculate conception?  Is that also not worth dividing the Church over?  Should this therefore not be "dogma" but rather "theologomenoun"?  Are we wasting our time arguing over this, or is it necessary to consider this a dogma/heresy (dogma on one side, a heresy on another)?
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« Reply #53 on: September 22, 2010, 05:17:40 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

I expressed most of these points that you have been discussing with Father Kimel in the old Immaculate Conception thread. It’s a wonder we kept talking past each other in that thread.  In any case, I would like to address just a few items.

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.
Actually, in another place (perhaps Fr. Kimel can provide it), St. Augustine specifically asserts that he excludes Mary from any statements he may have on sin.  The dogma of the IC does not exclude Mary from physical death, but only the spiritual death.
Which is why it is not logically consistent with the whole of Orthodox Catholic Apostolic theology.

Can you offer a simple point by point teaching that will demonstrate for me why it is not logically consistent with the whole of Orthodox Catholic Apostolic theology?

If you could make the pivot point the fact that we die even when we are Baptized as infants for the forgiveness of sin...That would be a good place to begin I think.

Are Orthodox infants cleansed of the stain, or blemish, or consequences of original sin?

Mary

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« Reply #54 on: September 22, 2010, 05:20:15 PM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?

Good to see you. How's the baby?

Like her, we all can say with the Pslamist, "and in sin did my mother conceive me."

The apologia over the IC stresses the necessity a lot. Without the "necessity," the "He could do it, it was fitting that He do it, so He did it," there would have to be something in the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition that would say it happened. And that need is met with silence.

More could be said about the claims of the IC based on baptism (why do we die, including for us Orthodox and the Mortalists of the Vatican-but not its Immortalists), but maybe on the old thread:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20612.0.html
Or maybe time for another thread.
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« Reply #55 on: September 22, 2010, 05:46:19 PM »

Oh I forgot to talk about death.  As St. Athanasius says in "On the Incarnation":

Quote
You must know, moreover, that the corruption which had set in was not external to the body but established within it. The need, therefore, was that life should cleave to it in corruption's place, so that, just as death was brought into being in the body, life also might be engendered in it. If death had been exterior to the body, life might fittingly have been the same. But if death was within the body, woven into its very substance and dominating it as though completely one with it, the need was for Life to be woven into it instead, so that the body by thus enduing itself with life might cast corruption off. Suppose the Word had come outside the body instead of in it, He would, of course, have defeated death, because death is powerless against the Life. But the corruption inherent in the body would have remained in it none the less. Naturally, therefore, the Savior assumed a body for Himself, in order that the body, being interwoven as it were with life, should no longer remain a mortal thing, in thrall to death, but as endued with immortality and risen from death, should thenceforth remain immortal. For once having put op corruption, it could not rise, unless it put on life instead; and besides this, death of its very nature could not appear otherwise than in a body. Therefore He put on a body, so that in the body He might find death and blot it out. And, indeed, how could the Lord have been proved to be the Life at all, had He not endued with life that which was subject to death? Take an illustration. Stubble is a substance naturally destructible by fire; and it still remains stubble, fearing the menace of fire which has the natural property of consuming it, even if fire is kept away from it, so that it is not actually burnt. But suppose that, instead of merely keeping the fire from it somebody soaks the stubble with a quantity of asbestos, the substance which is said to be the antidote to fire. Then the stubble no longer fears the fire, because it has put on that which fire cannot touch, and therefore it is safe. It is just the same with regard to the body and death. Had death been kept from it by a mere command, it would still have remained mortal and corruptible, according to its nature. To prevent this, it put on the incorporeal Word of God, and therefore fears neither death nor corruption any more, for it is clad with Life as with a garment and in it corruption is clean done away.

Corruption is part of man's nature, but also an unwanted characteristic, a "punishment."  Do you not remember what we say in the Coptic liturgy? "He turned the punishment into salvation."

(Also, this quote talks about an external way of dealing with things and an internal way.  It is why we call Christ "one incarnate nature" to describe the salvific work of curing humanity in an internal manner, in a hypostatic manner.)
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« Reply #56 on: September 22, 2010, 05:53:15 PM »

It doesn't make me shudder, but I personally cannot fathom using her name without at least "The Virgin..." in front of it and almost exclusively call her "The Blessed Mother".

Yes, I know, as an Orthodox, I "should" call her "Theotokos," but old habits die hard and no one off the internet has ever corrected me for calling her "The Blessed Mother." 
The Copts, the people of Pope St. Cyril, are plenty Orthodox, and they usually call her "St. Mary" (it may have something to do the Muslims finding no objection to that, "Theotokos" makes them apoplectic). The Romanians, also plenty Orthodox, often say Maica Domnului "the Lord's Mum."

Only bad habits have to die.

As a Protestant Evangelical Lutheran, I don't think we ever said "Mary" without "The Virgin" in front of it.
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« Reply #57 on: September 22, 2010, 06:37:45 PM »

I usually call her The Blessed Virgin Mary or the Blessed Mother.
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« Reply #58 on: September 22, 2010, 06:50:13 PM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?

Good to see you. How's the baby?

Like her, we all can say with the Pslamist, "and in sin did my mother conceive me."

The apologia over the IC stresses the necessity a lot. Without the "necessity," the "He could do it, it was fitting that He do it, so He did it," there would have to be something in the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition that would say it happened. And that need is met with silence.

Two things:

1.  The formal teaching does NOT stress necessity at all.

2.  And the idea that every expression of doctrine MUST be found in Scripture is a very very very Sola Scriptura kinda thang...

M.
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« Reply #59 on: September 22, 2010, 07:20:09 PM »

However, it seems to me that Fr. Kimel doesn't find my beliefs a church-dividing issue.  While, I might see great humility in his response, this also confuses me.  What then does that make the "dogma" of the immaculate conception?  Is that also not worth dividing the Church over?  Should this therefore not be "dogma" but rather "theologomenoun"?  Are we wasting our time arguing over this, or is it necessary to consider this a dogma/heresy (dogma on one side, a heresy on another)?

Mina, why must the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception divide the Latin and Oriental Orthodox Churches?  Does it assert something that you find utterly objectionable and contrary to the gospel?  You and I have agreed that original sin signifies that human beings are born into a state or condition of alienation from God (spiritual death).  Do you believe that it is absolutely essential to believe that the Theotokos was also born into such a state?  Are you really comfortable saying this?  Are there not voices within the Eastern tradition that would object to the attribution of spiritual death and concupiscence to the Blessed Virgin?  I have read the Marian homilies of St Gregory Palamas.  I believe he would be horrified by such a suggestion, as would, I believe, St Ephrem the Syrian and St John of Damascus.  

The question whether Eastern synergism is essentially Semi-Pelagian is an interesting question, but it is important to note that the Catholic Church does not accuse the Orthodox and Oriental Churches of this heresy.  From the Latin side, this is a non-issue.  This is not to say that I personally find your private opinions on this question fully satisfactory.  I don't.   But Christians disagree on all sorts of theological questions without feeling they need to hurl anathemas at each other.  If Pope Pius IX had had the good sense to refrain from dogmatizing the Immaculate Conception, Eastern Christians would no doubt cut Western Christians a lot more slack on the matter than they are evidently willing to do today.  We are now paying the ecumenical price for Pius IX's arrogance.

But I did not start this thread to get bogged down in the Immaculate Conception.  I have expressed my views on this topic sufficiently on other threads.  A discussion of synergism and Semi-Pelagianism would certainly be in order, though.

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« Reply #60 on: September 22, 2010, 07:30:55 PM »

Dearest Father Ambrose,


Point of Order ---- does anybody else besides me shudder when the Mother of God is spoken of as "Mary."    Anybody remember when the nuns would rap you with a wooden ruler for saying that instead of "Our Lady"?  Am I ever o~l~d?
I do.  I always try to make it a point to say or write "St. Mary" or "Theotokos." but in the flurry of writing a long, I confess I'll sometimes forget to do that.  I have the same problem with all the saints.  Something nags at the back of me head when I see Saints being referred to without "St."

Humbly,
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« Reply #61 on: September 22, 2010, 08:18:00 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

I expressed most of these points that you have been discussing with Father Kimel in the old Immaculate Conception thread. It’s a wonder we kept talking past each other in that thread.  In any case, I would like to address just a few items.

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.
Actually, in another place (perhaps Fr. Kimel can provide it), St. Augustine specifically asserts that he excludes Mary from any statements he may have on sin.  The dogma of the IC does not exclude Mary from physical death, but only the spiritual death.
Which is why it is not logically consistent with the whole of Orthodox Catholic Apostolic theology.

Can you offer a simple point by point teaching that will demonstrate for me why it is not logically consistent with the whole of Orthodox Catholic Apostolic theology?

If you could make the pivot point the fact that we die even when we are Baptized as infants for the forgiveness of sin...That would be a good place to begin I think.

Are Orthodox infants cleansed of the stain, or blemish, or consequences of original sin?

Mary



Orthodox infants—all infants, for that matter—haven't committed any sins, so how can they be responsible for any consequences?

Baptism does forgive sins (for those who have committed them), but its larger action is grafting the person into the Body of Christ. An infant hasn't committed any sins, so there is nothing to forgive.

This is the crux of the issue. The difference between original sin and ancestral sin. No person is personally responsible for Adam's sin except for Adam. Thus there is nothing to punish. We are born into sin in the same way a baby in Africa might be born into a swarm of malaria-riddled mosquitos. But the baby is not born with malaria.

As I understand it (still as a relative Ortho Newbie and trying to wrap my head around some of these bigger issues) : the Theotokos was innocent and sinless at birth, just like every other baby on this planet. We begin to stain ourselves with sin as we grow up and willfully reject God, but the Theotokos was so united to the will of God—by her own choice—that she never committed any sins by which to stain herself. She lived in the grace of God because she approached him so near—not because God decided to hand her an armload of Grace one day. (In Orthodox theology, remember, Grace is not an object, so it cannot be given like some kind of magic pill).

That is why it is sometimes said that the Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Mother of God, because it says in effect that she could not live fully in the grace of God without being supernaturally predisposed to do so. Under IC, it seems that the Theotokos did not even possess the ontological potential to fall from grace or to sin (had no free will), while we say that she could have, but she was so united with God's will (by her own choice) as to render that possibility unthinkable.

So, since there is nothing ontologically different about the Virgin Mary from every other human, I think it would be accurate and Orthodox to say that every baby that is born has the potential to be exactly as pure and blameless as the Theotokos, to be the same in every way, except for bearing God. (Correct me if I'm wrong)
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« Reply #62 on: September 22, 2010, 08:31:33 PM »

, remember, Grace is not an object, so it cannot be given like some kind of magic pill).

That is why it is sometimes said that the Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Mother of God, because it says in effect that she could not live fully in the grace of God without being supernaturally predisposed to do so. Under IC, it seems that the Theotokos did not even possess the ontological potential to fall from grace or to sin (had no free will), while we say that she could have, but she was so united with God's will (by her own choice) as to render that possibility unthinkable.

So, since there is nothing ontologically different about the Virgin Mary from every other human, I think it would be accurate and Orthodox to say that every baby that is born has the potential to be exactly as pure and blameless as the Theotokos, to be the same in every way, except for bearing God. (Correct me if I'm wrong)
From the Catholic perspective, Mary could have sinned if she so chose, but she chose not to. Adam and Eve were created Immaculate as well, but they chose to sin.
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« Reply #63 on: September 22, 2010, 08:53:52 PM »

, remember, Grace is not an object, so it cannot be given like some kind of magic pill).

That is why it is sometimes said that the Immaculate Conception actually degrades the Mother of God, because it says in effect that she could not live fully in the grace of God without being supernaturally predisposed to do so. Under IC, it seems that the Theotokos did not even possess the ontological potential to fall from grace or to sin (had no free will), while we say that she could have, but she was so united with God's will (by her own choice) as to render that possibility unthinkable.

So, since there is nothing ontologically different about the Virgin Mary from every other human, I think it would be accurate and Orthodox to say that every baby that is born has the potential to be exactly as pure and blameless as the Theotokos, to be the same in every way, except for bearing God. (Correct me if I'm wrong)
From the Catholic perspective, Mary could have sinned if she so chose, but she chose not to. Adam and Eve were created Immaculate as well, but they chose to sin.

You must distinguish between being preserved from the stain of original sin, and being created ex nihilo before anything like an ancestral sin had occurred.  They are not equivalent as you have them here.
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« Reply #64 on: September 22, 2010, 08:56:16 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

I expressed most of these points that you have been discussing with Father Kimel in the old Immaculate Conception thread. It’s a wonder we kept talking past each other in that thread.  In any case, I would like to address just a few items.

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.
Actually, in another place (perhaps Fr. Kimel can provide it), St. Augustine specifically asserts that he excludes Mary from any statements he may have on sin.  The dogma of the IC does not exclude Mary from physical death, but only the spiritual death.
Which is why it is not logically consistent with the whole of Orthodox Catholic Apostolic theology.

Can you offer a simple point by point teaching that will demonstrate for me why it is not logically consistent with the whole of Orthodox Catholic Apostolic theology?

If you could make the pivot point the fact that we die even when we are Baptized as infants for the forgiveness of sin...That would be a good place to begin I think.

Are Orthodox infants cleansed of the stain, or blemish, or consequences of original sin?

Mary



Orthodox infants—all infants, for that matter—haven't committed any sins, so how can they be responsible for any consequences?

Baptism does forgive sins (for those who have committed them), but its larger action is grafting the person into the Body of Christ. An infant hasn't committed any sins, so there is nothing to forgive.


Can you offer something more substantial besides your own personal logic to indicate that this is the teaching of universal Orthodoxy, and by that I suppose I am referring to the first seven councils?

Is there anything in any of the first seven councils that you know of that might prove or disprove your contention here?

Mary
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« Reply #65 on: September 22, 2010, 08:57:27 PM »

You must distinguish between being preserved from the stain of original sin, and being created ex nihilo before anything like an ancestral sin had occurred.  They are not equivalent as you have them here.
I agree. My point is that Adam and Eve, as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary, began their existence without concupiscence. Adam and Eve chose to sin. The Blessed Virgin Mary did not. Being without a fallen nature does not make a person absolutely immune to sin. One must still choose.
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« Reply #66 on: September 22, 2010, 09:35:24 PM »

Mina, why must the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception divide the Latin and Oriental Orthodox Churches?  Does it assert something that you find utterly objectionable and contrary to the gospel?  You and I have agreed that original sin signifies that human beings are born into a state or condition of alienation from God (spiritual death).  Do you believe that it is absolutely essential to believe that the Theotokos was also born into such a state?  Are you really comfortable saying this?  Are there not voices within the Eastern tradition that would object to the attribution of spiritual death and concupiscence to the Blessed Virgin?  I have read the Marian homilies of St Gregory Palamas.  I believe he would be horrified by such a suggestion, as would, I believe, St Ephrem the Syrian and St John of Damascus. 

I don't see how such a thought is alien to their ideas.  To increase in favor and to be internally saved are two different things.  All are born spiritually dead.  This is a belief in your Church too.  How can one say that it's impossible for the Theotokos, but possible for infants?

For one to be BORN or CONCEIVED spiritually living only occurs with God incarnate.  No one else in history was God incarnate.  Therefore, those everyone else who are not God incarnate were born spiritually dead.  To be born spiritually alive therefore seems to me only a characteristic with God alone (at least from my perspective).

The question, as you realized earlier, is not whether one is born (or conceived) spiritually alive or not.  The center of the question is how one remains sinless (remember how I compared to the soul of the Theotokos to a blind man who is able to walk around because he knows how many steps it takes to get somewhere, as the Theotokos obeys the moral code strictly through ascetic training)?  Is it because of an immaculate conception (or grace of salvation or grace of sinlessness) or is it because of the faculty of the will despite spiritual death?  You told me such a thought needs not to be a church dividing issue.  Therefore, I was asking you this question, but instead you turned this question around me, as if it would be impossible for the Theotokos to not be IC'ed, especially when reading Eastern fathers.  Do you think the dogma of the Immaculate Conception should be accepted as dogma by Orthodox, or is it unnecessary to be accepted, and rather can be kept as a theological opinion?

As for whether it should be heresy.  I don't know honestly.  I find it difficult to accept, but perhaps because it's an unnecessary concept, not necessarily heretical.

Modification of this post:  I just glanced over and haven't realized you considered Pope Pius to be arrogant for declaring the IC a dogma.  I suppose that means this shouldn't be considered dogma in your opinion.  I'm not sure if other people would share your convictions though.
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« Reply #67 on: September 22, 2010, 10:21:30 PM »

I am bumping this because it is absolutely critical to the discussion:


Orthodox infants—all infants, for that matter—haven't committed any sins, so how can they be responsible for any consequences?

Baptism does forgive sins (for those who have committed them), but its larger action is grafting the person into the Body of Christ. An infant hasn't committed any sins, so there is nothing to forgive.


Can you offer something more substantial besides your own personal logic to indicate that this is the teaching of universal Orthodoxy, and by that I suppose I am referring to the first seven councils?

Is there anything in any of the first seven councils that you know of that might prove or disprove your contention here?

Mary
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« Reply #68 on: September 22, 2010, 10:34:04 PM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?

Good to see you. How's the baby?

The whole family is doing well.  

St. Cyprian seems to have a different take on the state of babies.
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« Reply #69 on: September 22, 2010, 10:56:45 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

I'm going to ruminate on the distinction of "grace of sinlessness" vs. "grace of salvation."  I gave an analogy earlier, which Fr. Kimel doesn't find necessary to discuss, seeing that it shouldn't separate us.  Nevertheless, I wonder if your read my analogy on God's effect on Pharaoh, "hardening his heart," or effecting King Cyrus and Baal to prophecy correctly?  What are these to you?  I seem to see them as man's free will in reaction I suppose to the grace of God that fills the universe, whereas God's salvific work is a much deeper inner work
In the case of Pharaoh, I believe it was a punishment, as when St. Paul writes that God hardened the hearts of men because they refused to see Him in His creation. In the case of King Cyrus and Baal, I agree with you.  God calls all men to salvation.  The “call” is a different Grace than the actual Grace of salvation. I would consider the apparent “perfection” of people like Ghandi as experiencing the Grace of that call, and responding to it quite well. But it is not the Grace of sinlessness, which can only be obtained by Christians in the Holy Spirit.  The Latin Church has a specific name for the Grace of the call – it is called prevenient Grace. It is a Grace that all men receive.

Quote
So, all these "graces" one explains, really I consider it one grace, one that works externally with reaction to the will of man, and the same one that works internally that transforms man.
 
Agreed. Insofar as it is one Grace, it should be equated either with the Holy Spirit or the Energy of God.  Insofar as there are many Graces, it should be equated with the many manifestations of the Holy Spirit in Creation.

Quote
Even when Pharaoh would harden his will, it is said that "God hardened his heart." Likewise, when (here comes the segway into St. Jacob of Serug), St. Jacob says that her beauty is from God, I want to ask you, can you really for sure say St. Jacob is saying that this means she was immaculately conceived?
To be concise, I’ve never said that St. Jacob taught the IC. I only ever admitted that his teaching reinforced or helped my belief in the IC.  But however else we may understand St. Jacob of Serug, I’m sure we can both agree that he would utterly reject the common argument against the IC that the Grace of salvation could not have come to Mary before the temporal occurrence of Christ’s Sacrifice.  That is the main concept from St. Jacob that helped in my acceptance of the IC.

Quote
And in fact, you completely skipped the part where he says, "This is beauty, when one is beautiful of one's own accord."
Actually, I had considered that verse, and took it in the context of the very next stanza, “However great be the beauty of something from God, it is not acclaimed if freedom is not present.” So to me, St. Jacob is teaching that Mary cooperated with Grace from God, not that she perfected herself apart from Grace.

Quote
Therefore, if graces of perfection are in her will, then it is precisely because she reached that state with her own accord, increasing in favor with God
Grace is Grace and there is no other source of Grace except God. I admit it is very hard for me to accept your idea that Mary had graces in and of herself apart from God. Isn’t that the very teaching of Pelagius that the third Ecum Council of Ephesus rejected? I really do want to see us united on this matter, but is there any way for me to understand your position that does not expose it to the charge of Pelagianism?

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

It was by her soul she became virtuous, so that God may grow more and more in favor with her.  St. Jacob answers this paradox for you:

Quote
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.

On her own, he says, she rose to the measure of perfection, so that she may be saved at the Annunciation by the Holy Spirit, and be the Mother of God, full of grace.
This is a poem. So we must assume that St. Jacob is using a bit of license here. He wants to bring home the point that Mary deserved her Motherhood. So he uses exaggerated statements like “on her own” to impress that notion on the reader. But we cannot assume that such a statement as “on her own” is to be taken in a strict literal sense (remember, this is a poem), for that would expose him to the condemnation of the Third Ecumenical Council.  The key, I believe, is the stanza I mentioned earlier, “However great be the beauty of something from God, it is not acclaimed if freedom is not present.”  His statement here informs all his other statements with the belief that any goodness is actually a cooperation between Grace and free-will.  Saying that Mary was “on her own” is poetic license merely to stress that Mary deserved her station.

But there is another reason to believe that St. Jacob was using poetic license.  The last two stanzas you quoted above imply that Mary was “on her own” until the Spirit perfected her with Graces – hence the next stanza, “She was full of Grace from God.” But if we take this literally, it would mean that he is opposing Scripture, because Scripture records that the Angel greeted Mary as already being “full of Grace” even before the Holy Spirit came upon her.  The only way I see that we can properly understand St. Jacob’s poem is to view it as a poem, with the an expected measure of poetic license, not as a strict dogmatic treatise. Any other way would be to expose him to the charge of many errors.

Quote
As for St. Augustine, he says, she died for sin, like Adam.  He did not say, "she died because that was a mortal body," but clearly, "she died for sin," and I'm assuming in this context "Original Sin," not "personal sin" as you are stating St. Augustine is contemplating.  So, what you say about St. Augustine can still support my interpretation, which leads to another and final point:
Actually, St. Augustine specifically defines what he means by “sin” in the context of that excerpt you provided.  He doesn’t equate “sin” to “original sin.” He is, rather, equating – in an analogical sense - “sin” to “physical death.”  He specifically writes: “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.

Hence, when he writes later on “ 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 ,” he is not saying that Mary died because she had original sin; rather, he is simply saying that Mary died because she was naturally mortal, Adam died because he was naturally mortal. In distinction, our Lord died because he freely put on mortality to save us from sin (i.e., physical death, in the context of that excerpt). So though your interpretation may seem consistent in another context, it is not consistent within the context of the very excerpt you provided.

Quote
I noticed that in the discussion between me and you, a premise was assumed between the both of us, leading us not to really see eye-to-eye to get at the root of the problem.  You are assuming St. Jacob believed in the immaculate conception, and thus interpret his writings in a way that supports your ideas.
As explained earlier, I never claimed that. I’ve only stated that his writings reinforced/helped in my acceptance of the IC.

Quote
I am assuming St. Jacob believed she was immaculate even when concupiscence was there, and the way I read him supported my ideas.
I agree that St. Jacob can be read to support your ideas. But my own reflections led me to understand that St. Jacob was stating that

Quote
The layers of definitions (when I say layers of definitions, I mean such new things that I learn like "grace of sinlessness" vs. "grace of salvation" which I personally am scandalized by this, not necessarily because of the wrongness of the matter, but how convenient it is to use to further strengthen the case, something which I never heard Latins use) upon which we add to the ideas to strengthen our case seems to make it all the more obvious either we are to agree to disagree, or we need to figure something else out to get past this and find other ways in trying to see how this works.
Is the distinction between “grace of sinlessness” and “grace of salvation” really something you have never conceived of?  Don’t we distinguish the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation?  I mean, if the Grace received in the two Sacraments were completely identical, why should Christ ever have established two distinct Sacraments to begin with? I will concede that the term “grace of sinlessness” is unique, but the idea behind it (as explained in an earlier post) should not be foreign to you, I would think.

Quote
You accused me of semi-Pelagianism, and I was surprised at the accusation.
Well, to be concise, IIRC, I did not “accuse” you of semi-Pelagianism. I “accused” you of reading St. Jacob in such a sense as to expose him to the charge of flat out Pelagianism.

Quote
However, it seems to me that Fr. Kimel doesn't find my beliefs a church-dividing issue.  While, I might see great humility in his response, this also confuses me.  What then does that make the "dogma" of the immaculate conception?  Is that also not worth dividing the Church over?  Should this therefore not be "dogma" but rather "theologomenoun"?  Are we wasting our time arguing over this, or is it necessary to consider this a dogma/heresy (dogma on one side, a heresy on another)?
The proscription contained in the Decree Ineffabilis Deus is not a proscription against denial of the IC. Rather, it is a proscription against obstinately opposing the teaching authority of the Church on the matter. So if you believe it is a theologoumenon (an acceptable teaching, though not a dogma), you would not be under the proscription of the Decree.  The Decree on the IC accommodates the notion, “well I believe it, but I don’t believe it should be imposed on others,” for you would not be obstinately opposing the Church’s teaching.  The Decree on the IC even accommodates the notion, “I’m not sure if it is true, I need to study it more and let the Holy Spirit guide me,” for you would not be obstinately opposing the Church’s teaching. The only thing that the Decree prohibits is the notion, “This is a heresy. There is absolutely no way it can be true.” It is only those who teach that it is a heresy who are imposing an absolute dogmatic imperative of belief on others and are guilty of separating the Church over the matter, not the Catholic Church.  Lucky for all of us, no Orthodox Synod (Eastern or Oriental) has ever definitively defined the IC to be a heresy.  So let’s go with the flow, and instead of prematurely accusing the Catholic Church of heresy on the matter, let’s study the matter in the hopes of achieving understanding.  At the very least, as stated, if one can admit that it is a valid theologoumenon, then the dogma of the IC, according to the Decree, would pose no obstacle to unity.

Oh I forgot to talk about death.  As St. Athanasius says in "On the Incarnation":

Quote
You must know…Had death been kept from it by a mere command, it would still have remained mortal and corruptible, according to its nature. To prevent this, it put on the incorporeal Word of God, and therefore fears neither death nor corruption any more, for it is clad with Life as with a garment and in it corruption is clean done away.

Corruption is part of man's nature, but also an unwanted characteristic, a "punishment."  Do you not remember what we say in the Coptic liturgy? "He turned the punishment into salvation."
When I hear those words in our Liturgy, I’ve always understood it in two ways:
1) In the sense of when St. Paul states that mortality will be turned to immortality/ corruption into incorruption.
2) In the sense that physical death is a doorway to life with Christ, as is seen from the writings of St. Ephrem.

The punishment according to Pope St. Athanasius was not physical death (since that was already part of our nature), but the loss of the Graces of Immortality and Incorruptibility which made us succumb to our natural state.  The idea of physical death should never be disattached from the idea that it is the loss of the Grace of Immortality/Incorruptibility.

So when I hear “turned the punishment into salvation” I have always understood it in the sense of St. Paul - that in Christ, the loss of the Graces of Immortality/Incorruption (the punishment) is overcome.  Do you feel there is anything wrong with that understanding?  

Abundant blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #70 on: September 23, 2010, 05:58:27 AM »

Oh I forgot to talk about death.  As St. Athanasius says in "On the Incarnation":

Quote
You must know, moreover, that the corruption which had set in was not external to the body but established within it. The need, therefore, was that life should cleave to it in corruption's place, so that, just as death was brought into being in the body, life also might be engendered in it. If death had been exterior to the body, life might fittingly have been the same. But if death was within the body, woven into its very substance and dominating it as though completely one with it, the need was for Life to be woven into it instead, so that the body by thus enduing itself with life might cast corruption off. Suppose the Word had come outside the body instead of in it, He would, of course, have defeated death, because death is powerless against the Life. But the corruption inherent in the body would have remained in it none the less. Naturally, therefore, the Savior assumed a body for Himself, in order that the body, being interwoven as it were with life, should no longer remain a mortal thing, in thrall to death, but as endued with immortality and risen from death, should thenceforth remain immortal. For once having put op corruption, it could not rise, unless it put on life instead; and besides this, death of its very nature could not appear otherwise than in a body. Therefore He put on a body, so that in the body He might find death and blot it out. And, indeed, how could the Lord have been proved to be the Life at all, had He not endued with life that which was subject to death? Take an illustration. Stubble is a substance naturally destructible by fire; and it still remains stubble, fearing the menace of fire which has the natural property of consuming it, even if fire is kept away from it, so that it is not actually burnt. But suppose that, instead of merely keeping the fire from it somebody soaks the stubble with a quantity of asbestos, the substance which is said to be the antidote to fire. Then the stubble no longer fears the fire, because it has put on that which fire cannot touch, and therefore it is safe. It is just the same with regard to the body and death. Had death been kept from it by a mere command, it would still have remained mortal and corruptible, according to its nature. To prevent this, it put on the incorporeal Word of God, and therefore fears neither death nor corruption any more, for it is clad with Life as with a garment and in it corruption is clean done away.

Corruption is part of man's nature, but also an unwanted characteristic, a "punishment."  Do you not remember what we say in the Coptic liturgy? "He turned the punishment into salvation."

(Also, this quote talks about an external way of dealing with things and an internal way.  It is why we call Christ "one incarnate nature" to describe the salvific work of curing humanity in an internal manner, in a hypostatic manner.)
I'm not sure Pope St. Athanasius is saying death is part of human nature as he is saying is has become part of the human condition.
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« Reply #71 on: September 23, 2010, 05:58:28 AM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?

Good to see you. How's the baby?

Like her, we all can say with the Pslamist, "and in sin did my mother conceive me."

The apologia over the IC stresses the necessity a lot. Without the "necessity," the "He could do it, it was fitting that He do it, so He did it," there would have to be something in the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition that would say it happened. And that need is met with silence.

Two things:

1.  The formal teaching does NOT stress necessity at all.
Define stress, because your "infallible" on the IC mentions it:
Another, the issue of interpreting "full of grace" as scriptural proof of the IC (cited by the "infallible" statement of the IC), has come up here:
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.
I don’t believe I ever used the words “second purification.” I think that was your interpretation of what I stated. I may have used it (it’s been so long ago), but if I did, I would never have intended it to mean that the first purification was exactly like the second purification. As explained in previous posts, the Holy Spirit gives different Graces, and the Grace received by Mary at her conception is different than other Graces she received later in life.
That sort of negates the "full of grace" argument of your "infallible" statement of the 'singular" grace of the IC:
Quote
When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction.

2.  And the idea that every expression of doctrine MUST be found in Scripture is a very very very Sola Scriptura kinda thang...
I said
there would have to be something in the Scriptures and Apostolic Tradition that would say it happened
why did you drop that boldfaced part?

Yes, I'm aware that ya'll have your supreme pontiff to express doctrine all by himself, though you claim at the same time that he only expresses what the Church has held in Tradition, and that your doctrine develops, though you claim that said doctrines have been held from the very beginning: are all those scriptural verses in Ineffabilis Deus and Unam Sanctam just garnish?

We Orthodox prefer to pass on what we received, neither adding to nor subtacting from.
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A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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if you spit on it, it will be put out;
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« Reply #72 on: September 23, 2010, 06:18:17 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

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.

I'm looking through that thread to see if I've missed something. I'm seeing a lot of issues now on this thread. Anyway, I came across this
And are you not aware that Tradition states that a white dove entered St. Anna when Mary was conceived?
Is that how St. Anne conceived?  The quasi-incarnation of the Holy Spirit, the "Uncreated Immaculate Conception?"

Is said dove mentioned in the services of the Feast of the Conception of St. Anne?  I don't recall it. It's not in the Proto-evangelion of James, which forms the source of the texts of the Feast.  Where is it?

I never seem to have gotten an answer of where this tradition is recorded. On the other thread there are posts about the virginal conception by St. Anne.  It seems to linked to this idea of sinlessness. But then the question comes up, why not further back into the Old Testament?
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
ialmisry
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« Reply #73 on: September 23, 2010, 06:18:18 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

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.

I'm looking through that thread to see if I've missed something. I'm seeing a lot of issues now on this thread. Anyway, I came across this
And are you not aware that Tradition states that a white dove entered St. Anna when Mary was conceived?
Is that how St. Anne conceived?  The quasi-incarnation of the Holy Spirit, the "Uncreated Immaculate Conception?"

Is said dove mentioned in the services of the Feast of the Conception of St. Anne?  I don't recall it. It's not in the Proto-evangelion of James, which forms the source of the texts of the Feast.  Where is it?

I never seem to have gotten an answer of where this tradition is recorded. On the other thread there are posts about the virginal conception by St. Anne.  It seems to linked to this idea of sinlessness. But then the question comes up, why not further back into the Old Testament?
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
ialmisry
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Warned
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« Reply #74 on: September 23, 2010, 06:19:49 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

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.

on my trip down memory lane, to discover that "whole list of Eastern Fathers in the old IC thread, with the only response “you are misinterpreting them,” but with no explanations of how Mardukm was doing so," I haven't found any yet, but I am coming across interesting things.
You mean this?
Quote
Except for God, there is no one who is without sin, or life-creating, or able to remit sin. Therefore, the new Adam must be not only Man, but also God. He is at the same time life, wisdom, truth, love, and mercy, and every other good thing, so that He might renew the old Adam and restore him to life through mercy, wisdom and righteousness. These are the opposites of the things which the author of evil used to bring about our aging and death.
How many times does St. Gregory have to spell it out for you?
Oh! Sorry! St. Palamas is obviously referring to one who is without sin NATURALLY - i.e., not by Grace.
If it is so obvious, you of course can quote St. Gregory's words to that effect, no?
Yes, he stated that Mary's very nature was unsullied by sin THROUGH GRACE.

"Except for God there is no one who is without sin, except those who are without sin by grace."

No, I missed that in the sermon.

Btw, others also commented on the "quote" of St. Gregory Palamas, which is germaine in the extreme to the OP of this new thread:
No one has yet proven that it is heresy or that it is not a legitimate theologoumenon.
LOL! Does "legitimate theologoumenon" mean "almost doctrine".  laugh
I know what you mean. Other than saying St. Gregory "may" have taught it, which I have yet to see, nothing has been shown. But, apparently, it has been taught since the times of the Apostles....
ialmisry i read some homilies of Palamas about Mary , he is as good as any catholic theologian ; I can see how he could easily believe the IC.I would dare to say that he might exalt Mary even more.While i didn`t read his view on her birth I can`t say clear but I incline to believe he was one of the IC fans.

...in his 65 published Mariological homilies, developed an entirely original theory about her sanctification. On the one hand, Palamas does not use the formula “immaculate conception” because he believes that Mary was sanctified long before the “primus instans conceptionis“, and on the other, he states quite as categorically as any Roman theologian that Mary was never at any moment sullied by the stain of original sin. Palamas’ solution to the problem, of which as far as we know, he has been the sole supporter, is that God progressively purified all Mary’s ancestors, one after the other and each to a greater degree than his predecessor so that at the end, eis telos, Mary was able to grow, from a completely purified root, like a spotless stem “on the limits between created and uncreated”. (4)

http://curiosus002.livejournal.com/2287.html
And I commented on the source, Fr. Lev Gillet.
Quote
reproduce it here once again because I am of the strong opinion that
IF we can resolve this particular issue between us, Catholic and
Orthodox, will find the rest or our differences beginning to melt as
though they were never there in any real way.

Alas, with development of doctrine the Vatican has already gone on to Co-Redemptrix and after that no doubt the Quasi-Incarnation of the Uncreated Immaculate Conception.  Do we want to go down that wide road with them?  It would seem the the Bernard and Bonventure's of the East were more successful.

The idea that is attributed to St. Gregory, that of the constant line of preparation in the line of Mary, is of course Orthodox. And many of the ideas expressed in the link are too.  However, there isn't much distinction being made between general All-Holiness, and the specific question of Ancestral Sin:the former does not necessarily mean the latter.

Some other interesting bits:
Quote
The Academy of Kiev, with Peter Moghila, Stephen Gavorsky and many
others, taught the Immaculate Conception in terms of Latin theology. A
confraternity of the Immaculate Conception was established at Polotsk
in 1651. The Orthodox members of the confraternity promised to honour
the Immaculate Conception of Mary all the days of their life. The
Council of Moscow of 1666 approved Simeon Polotsky's book called The
Rod of Direction, in which he said: "Mary was exempt from original sin
from the moment of her conception".

St. Peter and the Academy, as is well, know were censured for their Latin views: the catechism was approved only after the Council of Iasi revised it, over St. Peter's protests.

Polotsk, isn't that the headquarters of our friend Joasaphat Kuntsevych?

As for the Old Ritualists, somewhere here we had something on the claim that they believed in the IC.
Quote
More recently still,
Metropolitan Anthony then Archbishop of Volkynia, wrote against the
"impious heresy of the immaculate and virginal conception of the Most
Holy Mother of God by Joachim and Anne." It was a theologian of the
Old Believers, A. Morozov, who had to point out to the archbishop that
he did not know what he was talking about
As I posted above, there are those among the Vatican's followers promoting the conception of the Virgin without the intercourse of her parents.  Perhaps the Metropolitan DOES know what he is talking about.
We had been warned about Fr. Lev:
Good news!  I found St. Palamas' sermon relating to the IC.

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-theotokos_+entry-of-the-theotokos+by-saint-gregory-palamas.html

A few things I found interesting:

1) His understanding of how the IC came about is nothing like the comment given by Father Ambrose earlier.  Palamas did not claim that there were generations that grew to holiness of which Mary was the pinnacle.  He simply says that one can trace the lineage of this holiness down through the ages.  So St. Palamas' understanding is not really that drastic, but I suppose it is contingent upon opponents of the IC to make Palamas' understanding as unpalatable as possible.

If you trace your way back to the quote I provided you will see that it comes from Fr Lev Gillet.   Fr Lev was a Roman Catholic priest and monk who became Orthodox back in the day.   He remained so devoted to Roman Catholicism, continuing to spend large amounts of time in European Catholic monasteries and lecturing all over Europe in favour of union that there was speculation he had never converted to Orthodoxy at all and he was a Roman implant or double agent sent by the Vatican to undermine Orthodoxy.  So he had no great axe to grind against the Immaculate Conceoption by misrepresenting Gregory Palamas.
This seems to have been one of the seeds which blossomed into this present thread:
Your interpretation obviously contradicts the constant teaching of the Church on the sinlessness of Mary, St. Jeremiah,
Sinless of Jeremiah?  Another novelty? I've never heard that one.
Oh! I guess that is only a Tradition in the Oriental Church.  That's from St. Athanasius.
You won't mind if I get that from someone in the Oriental Tradition, like Mina or Ekhristosanesti?

Btw, when do we celebrate the IC of St. Jeremiah?


and St. John the Forerunner.
Don't recall that one either, though the Gospel tells us that his parents were "blameless" and "rigthteous before God."
Same with this one.  The Oriental Tradition is from St. Athanasius.  Both are contained in his writing against the Arians (I think it's Book 3).

Mind providing the quote, or at least a sure reference?

Btw, I've looked a little into Pope St. Athanasius' writings and haven't come up with the sinlessness of  SS Jeremiah or St. John. Or the IC.

Of course, now you have a problem as the definition (i.e. the part that supposed is without question is "infallible) of Ineffibilis Deus says "by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God," (singulari Omnipotentis Dei gratia et privilegio) the Theotokos was IC'd.  If SS. Jeremiah and John are in on that, it's not singular now, is it?
The singular grace was that she received it at conception.  St. Jeremiah and the Forerunner received the grace of sinlessness in their mother's womb.

Oh?  Where did the Theotokos' conception take place?

I didn't respond only because I thought any apostolic Christian reading that would immediately see the error of your interpretation.
Ditto.
You're responding now, and I've refuted you.

LOL.  I'll let the readers decide that.

Btw, Salpy is an Apostolic Christian
Yes, like Salpy:
If you want to go to CAF, there is a father deacon there named Diak who has had contact with an Armenian priest who personally believes in the IC.  As your Catholicos states, it is not an article of Faith in your Church, but that's all he says about it.

So there's this discussion forum where someone says they know a priest who believes in IC.  That means nothing.  I wish I had a dollar for every Protestant I know who says they know someone who knows a priest who forbids people from reading the Bible. 

Even if this "father deacon" (obviously not an Armenian Orthodox--we don't call our deacons that) really does know a priest who said he believes that, it means nothing.  One priest doesn't represent the Church.  Also, as I said, a lot of Armenians mistake the phrase "Immaculate Conception" to mean something other than what it means in your Church.  Indeed the title of this thread indicates that it is misunderstood by many.  Especially with non-native speakers of English, you get people who think it means the Mother of God was conceived in a miraculous way (as in her parents were very old and infertile,) or they think it means the Virgin Birth of Christ.  I wasn't there for the conversation that took place between this deacon and the priest.  So I can't tell you what he really believes.  All I know is that this is not a teaching of our Church. 

Do you think the words "do not accept as an article of faith" precludes anyone believing it, albeit as theologoumenon (i.e., not as an article of Faith)?

My problem here is that I don't know what the word "theologoumenon" means.  I've seen the word a few times since I have been here, but I don't know what it is.  I've only seen it used by EO's.

With regard to what individual Armenians believe, there are Armenians out there who believe in just about anything.  There was a guy at my church a few years ago who got involved with some Oneness Pentecostals and then started going around telling people that it is acceptable in the Armenian Church to not believe in the Holy Trinity.  I am also sure that the Armenian Vassula crowd believes in IC, as well as all the other Latin innovations that my Church has rejected over the centuries.  One of those ladies likes to go around telling people that the Pope in Rome is the "vicar of Christ," whatever that means.

Is that what theologoumenon means?  Is it a fancy Greek word for BS?  If that is the case, then yes, it's theologoumenon.  What it is not, however, is a legitimate teaching of my Church.
Speaking of legitimate teaching, the Feast of the Conception of St. Anne is cited as proof for the Eastern belief in the IC. Yet not a peep of this in the Fathers.
In any case, permit me to point out another section of the Sermon:
And truly, if the grateful woman (of whom the Gospel tells us), after hearing the saving words of the Lord, blessed and thanked His Mother, raising her voice above the din of the crowd and saying to Christ, "Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps Thou hast sucked" (Lk. 11:27), then we who have the words of eternal life written out for us, and not only the words, but also the miracles and the Passion, and the raising of our nature from death, and its ascent from earth to Heaven, and the promise of immortal life and unfailing salvation, then how shall we not unceasingly hymn and bless the Mother of the Author of our Salvation and the Giver of Life, celebrating Her conception and birth, and now Her Entry into the Holy of Holies?
I would love to get a Sermon by St. Palamas on the Feast of the Conception, as he obviously considered it very important.  That would probably settle the matter once and for all (as far as St. Palamas is concerned).  Does anyone here have it?

Does anyone know it exists?

It never was a major feast day, unlike her birth and entry into the Temple.
Did you ever find those sermons on the Conception of St. Anne?  Any sermon by any Father on that event?
No. Like I said, the only ones I could find from Medieval times were from the English Church. I was hoping to find one from the Eastern Church, but have not.
Hmmmm.  And what do we conclude from that.....
As Father Ambrose stated, it's possible your Church might have gone around destroying the manuscripts in the 19th century.
LOL.  By that time most of them had been carted away to the West.

Rather odd, since the apologists point to the Feast of the Conception of St. Anne, confused in the West as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, is pointed to as the "proof" that the Orthodox believed the IC-before, of course, the Great Purge and Destruction of Dogma of the 19th century in the East  Roll Eyes-that no Patristics can be found for the day. Lex orandi....

Fr. Ambrose also responded
As Father Ambrose stated, it's possible your Church might have gone around destroying the manuscripts in the 19th century.

O Lord, forgive me, I've done it again, used British irony with an American audience and found it goes right over their heads.  When will I learn not to speak British to non-Brits?

Development of doctrine should be another thread. It is not the topic of discussion here.

I would see development of doctrine as germane to this discussion though.   Obvioulsly there was a significant development of doctrine with the IC, from the outright denials by Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas and the Dominicans (as well as Teresa of Avila's divine revelation of its falsity) to its present status as a dominant dogma.

And there is the reverse side of the coin - the degradation and destruction of doctrine, which some here believe has taken place in Orthodoxy where the IC was once believed and has now been abandoned.
 Huh

Undetered, Mardukm proceed to turn the absence of evidence into evidence of presence
Nevertheless, the teaching is still evident in other sermons (such as the one we discussed from St. Palamas.

You speak as if you proved it was in St. Gregory's speech.  It's not.

I might add, IIRC, we never did get other sermons of St. Gregory e.g. on the conception of St. Anne.  And AFAIR and as far as I see now, every alleged proof in St. Gregory's sermon was shown by us to not to be so.

Another is the one from St. Andrew of Crete that I quoted earlier - and there are others as well as other proofs [such as the existence of a Brotherhood of the Immaculate Conception in the Ukraine]).


Aren't the Ukrainians the largest group in the East who have submitted to the Vatican?

I don't think the EO would do that, and Fr. Ambrose I'm sure was joking around.  Maybe the simple answer is that the Sermons have never been translated and put on the Net.
I'll buy that, once you give some indication that any sermons were preached on the Conception of St. Anne.

We have, as far as I have seen, never seen an explanation of this absence of sermons on the Feast of the Conception of St. Anne, the inadvertant seed of the IC, taken from the East but genetically modified and planted and grown in England, whence it spread like kudzu over the West.

But regardless of St. Palamas, no one has addressed any of the other quotes since the fifth century from EASTERN Fathers that explicitly assert that Mary was formed or created without stain.

Oh, yes we have:
Nope.  You're referring to statements that give to Mary some magnanimous titles.  I was referrring, as I stated, to the quotes I gave that EXPLICITLY state that Mary was formed or created without stain.  I believe brother Papist even gave one from your favorite Saint, too.  No responses then, no responses now.

No, I think it more explidient (i.e. less a waste of my time) to point out that all the East never saw the IC in all those quotes that Vatican sees, especially after the English translations.  And then there's that fact that the Conception of St. Anne never became a major feast day, as opposed to the Birth, Entry into the Temple, Conception/Annunciation and the Dormition.

As Father Ambrose points out, it is amazing how us EO, OO and even Nestorians got together and wipped the IC from our collective ecclesiastical memory.  A conspiracy not even Dan Brown would imagine....
"More expedient" doesn't equate to "true."  Would you like me to give you JUST A FEW of those quotes to see if you can rationalize them away just for the sake of "expedience?"
Knock yourself out.
As far as I've seen on that thread, Mardukm did not give me ANY of those quotes.  If he gets around to it, Lord willing, I will post as I have, as I had, on St. Gregory Palamas.
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« Reply #75 on: September 23, 2010, 10:37:58 AM »

Quote
In the case of Pharaoh, I believe it was a punishment, as when St. Paul writes that God hardened the hearts of men because they refused to see Him in His creation. In the case of King Cyrus and Baal, I agree with you.  God calls all men to salvation.  The “call” is a different Grace than the actual Grace of salvation. I would consider the apparent “perfection” of people like Ghandi as experiencing the Grace of that call, and responding to it quite well. But it is not the Grace of sinlessness, which can only be obtained by Christians in the Holy Spirit.  The Latin Church has a specific name for the Grace of the call – it is called prevenient Grace. It is a Grace that all men receive.

Okay...this is where we might get somewhere.  Using your terminology, I don't find it disagreeable to say that because of prevenient grace, the Virgin before she became Theotokos remained perfect and immaculate by will.  But I would also say that it is the same grace that those are are moved to follow along the lines with become increasingly favored by God, while those who go against it become increasingly hardened by God.

There's a similar concept of the Eucharist.  Those who partake of the Eucharist in a righteous manner, it becomes life to them.  But those who partake of the Eucharist in an unrighteous manner, it is condemnation.  And then you have other mystics who extend this concept to interpret the fires of hell as no different than the "fires of heaven" so to speak.  That's how I see it.  So, yes, I can say that the Theotokos through "prevenient grace" was perfect up until the Annunciation, when the grace of God is internalized in the Theotokos.  I would personally disagree that this is "directly" a punishment of God to harden a heart, but because of Pharaoh's stubbornness, the heart naturally hardened in opposition to "prevenient grace."

Perhaps, this is a way in seeing that one is not Pelagian?

Now, this leads to another discussion.  In Luke 1:28, how does one interpret these verses?  Are there any Church fathers that interpret "Hail Mary, full of grace" in the way you see it?  I want to say personally, and this issue has been brought up before, that the term "full of grace" seems not to agree with the translation, which many say "highly favored one."  But assuming the term "full of grace," I see this term interpreted in many ways.  One way is to see it as what the Theotokos "is to become," if one is to define "full of grace" as the result of a "grace of salvation."  St. Jacob makes it very clear (being both poetic and dogmatic, describing the characteristics of what she will become, not what she already is, when the Holy Spirit will overshadow her), which I will quote in full:

Quote from: The Mission of Gabriel
The revelation went out from God to the pure one
by means of Gabriel, the learned one, who teaches fine sayings.

The man of fire was sent from God
that he might bring the message from the house of the Father to the glorious one.

From the heavenly legions, the spiritual one went forth,
who had been sent from God with a hidden mystery.

He met with the maiden, greeted her, and revealed the mystery,
as he had been commanded by God in the heavens above.

He bowed to the Virgin, the Mother of the King, and He spoke with her
in the speech of the country such as she was able to receive:

"Peace be with you, full of divine splendour!
Peace to you Mary, Mother of the Sun of Justice!

Peace be upon you, castle of holy things and full of virtues,
harbour of mysteries and new ship full of riches.

Blessed of women, peace be with you!  Our Lord is with you;
you have conceived and in your virginity you have borne a son."

Mary listened, and wonder seized her at the words of the Watcher;
the message was in her ears, and great trembling within her mind:

"My Lord, I am a virgin and how is it that you speak to me of conception?
Your tale is new, speak, explain what you are saying.

Who has sought a harvest from the land without sowing it?
Who has sought grapes on the vine without cultivating it?

From a virgin you would expect birth without marital union?
Tell your tale with is baffling and concealed from the intellect.

How will what you say come to pass, as you say it?
Either explain it to me or it will not be easy for me to consent."

The Watcher said:  "The Holy Spirit will come to you;
descending He dwells and sanctifies you in your virginity.

He loosens you from the curse of Eve and blesses you;
the Power of the hidden Father comes and in you will be clothed with a body.

You are going to beget a Babe whose Kingdom will have no end;
because He is a great King, the Son of the unsearchable God."

Can one say "Hail, Mother of the Sun of Justice" as if she is already the Theotokos?

And you have other Church fathers going in that same direction of "what will happen."  St. Pope Peter of Alexandria, the Ieromartyros, wrote (from a fragment of a sermon preserved today):

Quote
In the meanwhile the evangelist says with firmness, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. From this we learn that the angel, when he saluted the Virgin with the words, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee,” intended to signify God the Word is with thee, and also to show that He would arise from her bosom, and would be made flesh, even as it is written, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Can one say that God the Word was already with her in a sense that He already is in her bosom before she even accepted?

We know from the Scriptures that she wasn't just troubled at the idea of bearing a child in her virginity, but even before that, she was troubled at the salutation of the Archangel, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you."  This could very well mean, if "full of grace" means something of what she will become, then this confusion of her indicates what she is not at this very moment.  For later on, we know that in the Magnificat, as soon as she understands Who she is bearing, she says clearly, "From henceforth, all generations will call me blessed," because now she understands her position among women.

Another interpretation is if "full of grace" means "highly favored one" in a literal sense, as she wasn't the first to be "highly favored," it could very well mean full of "prevenient grace," full of virtues, full of purity in will, full of humility, full of righteousness.  I suppose then her confusion at the salutation is a matter of humility if one were to interpret it in that sense.

Quote
Is the distinction between “grace of sinlessness” and “grace of salvation” really something you have never conceived of?  Don’t we distinguish the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation?  I mean, if the Grace received in the two Sacraments were completely identical, why should Christ ever have established two distinct Sacraments to begin with? I will concede that the term “grace of sinlessness” is unique, but the idea behind it (as explained in an earlier post) should not be foreign to you, I would think.

To be honest, yes, I never conceived of it.  In our previous conversation, the reason why I thought you believed in Jeremiah and John's IC precisely because I assumed the two phrases were synonymous, since one can argue from the Latin side, how can the Theotokos be sinless if it wasn't for the immaculate conception.  But I see your point.  You make a valid one here.  In baptism, we die and rise again with Christ, rebirthed so to speak, as a new creature, grafted in the Body of Christ.  In confirmation, we are anointed, made "christs," truly "Christian" in the sense that now our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and an adoptive filiation to God the Father, working in us not only to prevent us from sinning, but to increase our virtues, to fulfill the fruits of the Spirit.

So the question then is this.  You believe that she received the grace similar to baptism in her conception, but the grace similar to confirmation was at the Annunciation?  What did she receive at the Pentecost then?

Quote
When I hear those words in our Liturgy, I’ve always understood it in two ways:
1) In the sense of when St. Paul states that mortality will be turned to immortality/ corruption into incorruption.
2) In the sense that physical death is a doorway to life with Christ, as is seen from the writings of St. Ephrem.

The punishment according to Pope St. Athanasius was not physical death (since that was already part of our nature), but the loss of the Graces of Immortality and Incorruptibility which made us succumb to our natural state.  The idea of physical death should never be disattached from the idea that it is the loss of the Grace of Immortality/Incorruptibility.

So when I hear “turned the punishment into salvation” I have always understood it in the sense of St. Paul - that in Christ, the loss of the Graces of Immortality/Incorruption (the punishment) is overcome.  Do you feel there is anything wrong with that understanding?

I think we are bordering on semantics here.  But I will tell you what it means to me.  In the Old Testament, we are by nature prone to dust, and any flesh by nature experiences birth pangs.  The loss of grace can be a punishment, but also the fear of death that was expressed in the OT was also a big issue, and physical death, along with the spiritual, was considered a "sentence."  Right before we say "Lord have mercy," the priest prays, "I brought upon myself the sentence of death," and then immediately after "Lord have mercy," the priest continues, "You, oh my Master, have turned for me the punishment into salvation."  Therefore, this physical death considered by the OT people as punishment, Christ partook and turned it into, as you mentioned, a doorway to life.  Yes, you are right in your interpretation, but I am contending that before Christ came, what is natural to mankind was also undesired, and thus fear fell upon many, which made death a tyrant, in addition to sins and corruptions.  St. Severus of Antioch writes to Eupraxias the chamberlain:

Quote
But now it is reasonable to consider why and in what way we say that the only Word, the Son of God, was humanized; for this is the second question that you put. But we without going outside the divine Scriptures say that the reason for which he shone upon and gave light to this world by the coming of his Humanization in the flesh was that, as in Adam we die, so in Christ himself we might live, and, as it is said, «By man is death, so also by man is the resurrection of the dead». Since Adam was condemned to death after the transgression which was committed through the deceitfulness of the serpent, and heard the words, «Dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return», and, «Cursed is the ground in the work of thine hands», and, «In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread», and Eve too was also condemned with him by hearing the words, «In pains shalt thou bear children», so with us also who are sprung from them the charges of disobedience have been confirmed, and we ourselves are dust and to dust we return, and we are condemned to the curse and are creatures born in pains: and from that time we have been in subjection, being subject to lust and to the varied pleasure of this, according to the saying of the blessed Paul. For it was right that against the cunning contriver of evil, the serpent and the destroyer of our life, we should contend with him with the same weapons with which he deceived those founders of our race: and, since it was not the part of another power to annul the punishment fixed by our Lord himself, he did not send an envoy nor an angel, but, as Isaiah cries, the Lord himself saved us.

The loss of the grace of immortality, being mortal, leads to the same thing.
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« Reply #76 on: September 23, 2010, 10:58:09 AM »

Oh I forgot to talk about death.  As St. Athanasius says in "On the Incarnation":

Quote
You must know, moreover, that the corruption which had set in was not external to the body but established within it. The need, therefore, was that life should cleave to it in corruption's place, so that, just as death was brought into being in the body, life also might be engendered in it. If death had been exterior to the body, life might fittingly have been the same. But if death was within the body, woven into its very substance and dominating it as though completely one with it, the need was for Life to be woven into it instead, so that the body by thus enduing itself with life might cast corruption off. Suppose the Word had come outside the body instead of in it, He would, of course, have defeated death, because death is powerless against the Life. But the corruption inherent in the body would have remained in it none the less. Naturally, therefore, the Savior assumed a body for Himself, in order that the body, being interwoven as it were with life, should no longer remain a mortal thing, in thrall to death, but as endued with immortality and risen from death, should thenceforth remain immortal. For once having put op corruption, it could not rise, unless it put on life instead; and besides this, death of its very nature could not appear otherwise than in a body. Therefore He put on a body, so that in the body He might find death and blot it out. And, indeed, how could the Lord have been proved to be the Life at all, had He not endued with life that which was subject to death? Take an illustration. Stubble is a substance naturally destructible by fire; and it still remains stubble, fearing the menace of fire which has the natural property of consuming it, even if fire is kept away from it, so that it is not actually burnt. But suppose that, instead of merely keeping the fire from it somebody soaks the stubble with a quantity of asbestos, the substance which is said to be the antidote to fire. Then the stubble no longer fears the fire, because it has put on that which fire cannot touch, and therefore it is safe. It is just the same with regard to the body and death. Had death been kept from it by a mere command, it would still have remained mortal and corruptible, according to its nature. To prevent this, it put on the incorporeal Word of God, and therefore fears neither death nor corruption any more, for it is clad with Life as with a garment and in it corruption is clean done away.

Corruption is part of man's nature, but also an unwanted characteristic, a "punishment."  Do you not remember what we say in the Coptic liturgy? "He turned the punishment into salvation."

(Also, this quote talks about an external way of dealing with things and an internal way.  It is why we call Christ "one incarnate nature" to describe the salvific work of curing humanity in an internal manner, in a hypostatic manner.)
I'm not sure Pope St. Athanasius is saying death is part of human nature as he is saying is has become part of the human condition.

But St. Athanasius from the beginning of his "On the Incarnation" would say how we are by nature impermanent, mortal, corruptible.  Even in the analogy he gave:

Quote
Stubble is a substance naturally destructible by fire; and it still remains stubble, fearing the menace of fire which has the natural property of consuming it, even if fire is kept away from it, so that it is not actually burnt. But suppose that, instead of merely keeping the fire from it somebody soaks the stubble with a quantity of asbestos, the substance which is said to be the antidote to fire. Then the stubble no longer fears the fire, because it has put on that which fire cannot touch, and therefore it is safe.

And then continues to talk about humanity:

Quote
Had death been kept from it by a mere command, it would still have remained mortal and corruptible, according to its nature.

Therefore, when the flesh is united with divinity, the flesh is transformed and becomes life-giving, transcending what it is according to its nature.

One can say it's also a condition, in perspective of the loss of grace in Paradise, and in fact, St. Athanasius even talks about how corruption began to run riot in man, no longer in a natural sense, but in an unnatural sense.  In this way, corruption becomes a condition.
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« Reply #77 on: September 23, 2010, 11:01:33 AM »

Dear Marduk,

One more question:

Quote
The proscription contained in the Decree Ineffabilis Deus is not a proscription against denial of the IC. Rather, it is a proscription against obstinately opposing the teaching authority of the Church on the matter.

What other Catholic beliefs fit into the same category as the IC?  How do we know the difference between this category, and a category that cannot be denied, for example, the Trinity?  Or put it another way, which are necessary for faith, and which do not need to be necessary?
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« Reply #78 on: September 23, 2010, 12:33:01 PM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?

If our All-Holy Mother was immaculately conceived then so am I and and you and Pope Benedict and the Dalai Lama.  But if she wasn't immaculately conceived then neither are the rest of us.  We all share one and the same manner of conception.

You know father, this gets to the heart of the problem with the East and the West... SIN and our State at Birth. We've been through this discussion before but it seems others are completely missing the point of the 'need', at least, in Western Theology of The Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception to be 'prepared' to carry the Godhead within her body. A complete absence of 'any' corruption or stain of sin. That would need to be, in some way, removed prior to the indwelling of the Godhead within her womb.

From my point of view, man is an empty glass without Salvific Grace at birth. It is not, as some would accuse, a juridical declaration of their personal guilt as much as it is simply the 'state' in which fallen man is found. Adam can't give to his progeny what he himself doesn't have... i.e. Salvific Grace.

If all man lack Salvific Grace, then it stands to reason that at some point one must acquire it. Tradition appears to argue that Our Blessed Mother, the Theotokos was Immaculate as the Divine Liturgy attests. The question then moves to 'when' was this gift conferred? In the West, as you well know, Our Blessed Mother, it was argued, was the most honored of all humanity and thus was more honored than St. John the Baptist and the Old Testament Saints and was thus conferred this gift before them all, literally at her very conception.

It seems that Orthodoxy doesn't agree that man with born without Salvific Grace, that bond between God and Man and so there is simply no 'need' for Our Blessed Mother to be extended a special grace at the time of her conception, within the womb, or otherwise and seems to extend this Immaculateness to all of humanity. As much as I would agree that this view is present, even in the west, I don't think of it as particularly patristic.
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« Reply #79 on: September 23, 2010, 01:17:29 PM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?

If our All-Holy Mother was immaculately conceived then so am I and and you and Pope Benedict and the Dalai Lama.  But if she wasn't immaculately conceived then neither are the rest of us.  We all share one and the same manner of conception.

It seems that Orthodoxy doesn't agree that man with born without Salvific Grace, that bond between God and Man and so there is simply no 'need' for Our Blessed Mother to be extended a special grace at the time of her conception, within the womb, or otherwise and seems to extend this Immaculateness to all of humanity. As much as I would agree that this view is present, even in the west, I don't think of it as particularly patristic.

Who in Orthodoxy asserts that there is no need for saving or justifying grace to be given either in Baptism or in the manner of preventing the rupture in the first instance?

M.
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« Reply #80 on: September 23, 2010, 02:24:32 PM »

Grace and Peace be with you all,

I find it challenging to say that the Theotokos 'must' be Immaculate at Conception... Why?

Are we 'all' Immaculate at Conception in the eyes of the Orthodox?

If our All-Holy Mother was immaculately conceived then so am I and and you and Pope Benedict and the Dalai Lama.  But if she wasn't immaculately conceived then neither are the rest of us.  We all share one and the same manner of conception.

It seems that Orthodoxy doesn't agree that man with born without Salvific Grace, that bond between God and Man and so there is simply no 'need' for Our Blessed Mother to be extended a special grace at the time of her conception, within the womb, or otherwise and seems to extend this Immaculateness to all of humanity. As much as I would agree that this view is present, even in the west, I don't think of it as particularly patristic.

Who in Orthodoxy asserts that there is no need for saving or justifying grace to be given either in Baptism or in the manner of preventing the rupture in the first instance?

M.

On numerous occasions, the assumption seems to be made that if one has life... then one has grace (i.e. participation in the divine energies)... because Orthodoxy seems to establish 'no' distinction between Actual and Sanctifying Grace the two are mashed together and blurs the distinction of the Graces (i.e. actual graces) extended to 'all' humanity to respond to Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace itself.

The fact stands that most Orthodox here would argue that humanity is born without the 'need' of anything to acquire salvation... is that not so? Does the infant 'lack' anything to be saved from the modern Orthodox perspective?
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« Reply #81 on: September 23, 2010, 02:45:11 PM »


On numerous occasions, the assumption seems to be made that if one has life... then one has grace (i.e. participation in the divine energies)... because Orthodoxy seems to establish 'no' distinction between Actual and Sanctifying Grace the two are mashed together and blurs the distinction of the Graces (i.e. actual graces) extended to 'all' humanity to respond to Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace itself.

The fact stands that most Orthodox here would argue that humanity is born without the 'need' of anything to acquire salvation... is that not so? Does the infant 'lack' anything to be saved from the modern Orthodox perspective?

Then we'd need to know if this is a private opinion, or a teaching of universal Orthodoxy and if it is a teaching of universal Orthodoxy then there must be some history of the teaching through tradition, or as I asked earlier, some evidence from one of the first seven councils that we are not born with the stain of original sin.

M.
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« Reply #82 on: September 23, 2010, 03:30:35 PM »


On numerous occasions, the assumption seems to be made that if one has life... then one has grace (i.e. participation in the divine energies)... because Orthodoxy seems to establish 'no' distinction between Actual and Sanctifying Grace the two are mashed together and blurs the distinction of the Graces (i.e. actual graces) extended to 'all' humanity to respond to Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace itself.

The fact stands that most Orthodox here would argue that humanity is born without the 'need' of anything to acquire salvation... is that not so? Does the infant 'lack' anything to be saved from the modern Orthodox perspective?

Then we'd need to know if this is a private opinion, or a teaching of universal Orthodoxy and if it is a teaching of universal Orthodoxy then there must be some history of the teaching through tradition, or as I asked earlier, some evidence from one of the first seven councils that we are not born with the stain of original sin.

M.

In our modern time, I believe the Orthodox, in the West at least, have embraced a kind of selective presentation of the Ancient Faith where the more mystical Saints have taken precedence over those who might agree with the Western Church's interpretation of the faith. I simply don't know where this will ultimately lead them but I find it worrisome personally. I have been in dialogue for about 4 years now and I don't see any clarity coming from either the East or the West on the fundamentals of the Ancient Faith such as Sin and our state at Birth. It is far too politically distasteful for either to address honestly I fear. Even Pope Benedict has allowed such distortions to enter into his theology and he is a far smarter man than I. Perhaps I am wrong but I have never found the rationale to deny the teachings of St. Cyprian regarding Original Sin and the necessity of Baptism to enter into that Ark of Salvation which is the Church.
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« Reply #83 on: September 23, 2010, 04:16:35 PM »


On numerous occasions, the assumption seems to be made that if one has life... then one has grace (i.e. participation in the divine energies)... because Orthodoxy seems to establish 'no' distinction between Actual and Sanctifying Grace the two are mashed together and blurs the distinction of the Graces (i.e. actual graces) extended to 'all' humanity to respond to Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace itself.

The fact stands that most Orthodox here would argue that humanity is born without the 'need' of anything to acquire salvation... is that not so? Does the infant 'lack' anything to be saved from the modern Orthodox perspective?

Then we'd need to know if this is a private opinion, or a teaching of universal Orthodoxy and if it is a teaching of universal Orthodoxy then there must be some history of the teaching through tradition, or as I asked earlier, some evidence from one of the first seven councils that we are not born with the stain of original sin.

M.

In our modern time, I believe the Orthodox, in the West at least, have embraced a kind of selective presentation of the Ancient Faith where the more mystical Saints have taken precedence over those who might agree with the Western Church's interpretation of the faith. I simply don't know where this will ultimately lead them but I find it worrisome personally. I have been in dialogue for about 4 years now and I don't see any clarity coming from either the East or the West on the fundamentals of the Ancient Faith such as Sin and our state at Birth. It is far too politically distasteful for either to address honestly I fear. Even Pope Benedict has allowed such distortions to enter into his theology and he is a far smarter man than I. Perhaps I am wrong but I have never found the rationale to deny the teachings of St. Cyprian regarding Original Sin and the necessity of Baptism to enter into that Ark of Salvation which is the Church.

Are you familiar with the Canons of Carthage that were affirmed at the Council of Ephesus and also at Second Constantinople?

M.
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« Reply #84 on: September 23, 2010, 04:26:13 PM »


On numerous occasions, the assumption seems to be made that if one has life... then one has grace (i.e. participation in the divine energies)... because Orthodoxy seems to establish 'no' distinction between Actual and Sanctifying Grace the two are mashed together and blurs the distinction of the Graces (i.e. actual graces) extended to 'all' humanity to respond to Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace itself.

The fact stands that most Orthodox here would argue that humanity is born without the 'need' of anything to acquire salvation... is that not so? Does the infant 'lack' anything to be saved from the modern Orthodox perspective?

Then we'd need to know if this is a private opinion, or a teaching of universal Orthodoxy and if it is a teaching of universal Orthodoxy then there must be some history of the teaching through tradition, or as I asked earlier, some evidence from one of the first seven councils that we are not born with the stain of original sin.

M.

In our modern time, I believe the Orthodox, in the West at least, have embraced a kind of selective presentation of the Ancient Faith where the more mystical Saints have taken precedence over those who might agree with the Western Church's interpretation of the faith. I simply don't know where this will ultimately lead them but I find it worrisome personally. I have been in dialogue for about 4 years now and I don't see any clarity coming from either the East or the West on the fundamentals of the Ancient Faith such as Sin and our state at Birth. It is far too politically distasteful for either to address honestly I fear. Even Pope Benedict has allowed such distortions to enter into his theology and he is a far smarter man than I. Perhaps I am wrong but I have never found the rationale to deny the teachings of St. Cyprian regarding Original Sin and the necessity of Baptism to enter into that Ark of Salvation which is the Church.

Are you familiar with the Canons of Carthage that were affirmed at the Council of Ephesus and also at Second Constantinople?

M.

Yes I am but they don't seem to carry any weight in the East anymore.
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« Reply #85 on: September 23, 2010, 04:31:37 PM »


On numerous occasions, the assumption seems to be made that if one has life... then one has grace (i.e. participation in the divine energies)... because Orthodoxy seems to establish 'no' distinction between Actual and Sanctifying Grace the two are mashed together and blurs the distinction of the Graces (i.e. actual graces) extended to 'all' humanity to respond to Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace itself.

The fact stands that most Orthodox here would argue that humanity is born without the 'need' of anything to acquire salvation... is that not so? Does the infant 'lack' anything to be saved from the modern Orthodox perspective?

Then we'd need to know if this is a private opinion, or a teaching of universal Orthodoxy and if it is a teaching of universal Orthodoxy then there must be some history of the teaching through tradition, or as I asked earlier, some evidence from one of the first seven councils that we are not born with the stain of original sin.

M.

In our modern time, I believe the Orthodox, in the West at least, have embraced a kind of selective presentation of the Ancient Faith where the more mystical Saints have taken precedence over those who might agree with the Western Church's interpretation of the faith. I simply don't know where this will ultimately lead them but I find it worrisome personally. I have been in dialogue for about 4 years now and I don't see any clarity coming from either the East or the West on the fundamentals of the Ancient Faith such as Sin and our state at Birth. It is far too politically distasteful for either to address honestly I fear. Even Pope Benedict has allowed such distortions to enter into his theology and he is a far smarter man than I. Perhaps I am wrong but I have never found the rationale to deny the teachings of St. Cyprian regarding Original Sin and the necessity of Baptism to enter into that Ark of Salvation which is the Church.

Are you familiar with the Canons of Carthage that were affirmed at the Council of Ephesus and also at Second Constantinople?

M.

Yes I am but they don't seem to carry any weight in the East anymore.

These are not disciplinary canons.  In that light, one would have to wonder where the weight of authority lies in Orthodoxy if not in the doctrinal theology of the Seven Great Councils?

I have Orthodox texts that are used as catechisms that speak of Baptism for the forgiveness of sins with direct reference to original sin, and others that do not.

Would you say in your experience that this is an area where eastern Orthodoxy is divided?

M.
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« Reply #86 on: September 23, 2010, 05:07:57 PM »


On numerous occasions, the assumption seems to be made that if one has life... then one has grace (i.e. participation in the divine energies)... because Orthodoxy seems to establish 'no' distinction between Actual and Sanctifying Grace the two are mashed together and blurs the distinction of the Graces (i.e. actual graces) extended to 'all' humanity to respond to Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace itself.

The fact stands that most Orthodox here would argue that humanity is born without the 'need' of anything to acquire salvation... is that not so? Does the infant 'lack' anything to be saved from the modern Orthodox perspective?

Then we'd need to know if this is a private opinion, or a teaching of universal Orthodoxy and if it is a teaching of universal Orthodoxy then there must be some history of the teaching through tradition, or as I asked earlier, some evidence from one of the first seven councils that we are not born with the stain of original sin.

M.

In our modern time, I believe the Orthodox, in the West at least, have embraced a kind of selective presentation of the Ancient Faith where the more mystical Saints have taken precedence over those who might agree with the Western Church's interpretation of the faith. I simply don't know where this will ultimately lead them but I find it worrisome personally. I have been in dialogue for about 4 years now and I don't see any clarity coming from either the East or the West on the fundamentals of the Ancient Faith such as Sin and our state at Birth. It is far too politically distasteful for either to address honestly I fear. Even Pope Benedict has allowed such distortions to enter into his theology and he is a far smarter man than I. Perhaps I am wrong but I have never found the rationale to deny the teachings of St. Cyprian regarding Original Sin and the necessity of Baptism to enter into that Ark of Salvation which is the Church.

Are you familiar with the Canons of Carthage that were affirmed at the Council of Ephesus and also at Second Constantinople?

M.

Yes I am but they don't seem to carry any weight in the East anymore.

These are not disciplinary canons.  In that light, one would have to wonder where the weight of authority lies in Orthodoxy if not in the doctrinal theology of the Seven Great Councils?

I have Orthodox texts that are used as catechisms that speak of Baptism for the forgiveness of sins with direct reference to original sin, and others that do not.

Would you say in your experience that this is an area where eastern Orthodoxy is divided?

M.

Honestly, I would guess that even the Western Church would find itself divided if you asked Priest and Religious within the Roman Church if Baptism was necessary for Salvation in our modern times. Salvation is thought, in our times, as a 'right' that must be lost... not as a great blessing given. Our faith, East and West, seem to have been turned around as it were, in order to appeal to criticism from outside and our own sensibilities.
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« Reply #87 on: September 23, 2010, 06:11:52 PM »


On numerous occasions, the assumption seems to be made that if one has life... then one has grace (i.e. participation in the divine energies)... because Orthodoxy seems to establish 'no' distinction between Actual and Sanctifying Grace the two are mashed together and blurs the distinction of the Graces (i.e. actual graces) extended to 'all' humanity to respond to Sanctifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace itself.

The fact stands that most Orthodox here would argue that humanity is born without the 'need' of anything to acquire salvation... is that not so? Does the infant 'lack' anything to be saved from the modern Orthodox perspective?

Then we'd need to know if this is a private opinion, or a teaching of universal Orthodoxy and if it is a teaching of universal Orthodoxy then there must be some history of the teaching through tradition, or as I asked earlier, some evidence from one of the first seven councils that we are not born with the stain of original sin.

M.

In our modern time, I believe the Orthodox, in the West at least, have embraced a kind of selective presentation of the Ancient Faith where the more mystical Saints have taken precedence over those who might agree with the Western Church's interpretation of the faith. I simply don't know where this will ultimately lead them but I find it worrisome personally. I have been in dialogue for about 4 years now and I don't see any clarity coming from either the East or the West on the fundamentals of the Ancient Faith such as Sin and our state at Birth. It is far too politically distasteful for either to address honestly I fear. Even Pope Benedict has allowed such distortions to enter into his theology and he is a far smarter man than I. Perhaps I am wrong but I have never found the rationale to deny the teachings of St. Cyprian regarding Original Sin and the necessity of Baptism to enter into that Ark of Salvation which is the Church.

Are you familiar with the Canons of Carthage that were affirmed at the Council of Ephesus and also at Second Constantinople?

M.

Yes I am but they don't seem to carry any weight in the East anymore.

These are not disciplinary canons.  In that light, one would have to wonder where the weight of authority lies in Orthodoxy if not in the doctrinal theology of the Seven Great Councils?

I have Orthodox texts that are used as catechisms that speak of Baptism for the forgiveness of sins with direct reference to original sin, and others that do not.

Would you say in your experience that this is an area where eastern Orthodoxy is divided?

M.

Honestly, I would guess that even the Western Church would find itself divided if you asked Priest and Religious within the Roman Church if Baptism was necessary for Salvation in our modern times. Salvation is thought, in our times, as a 'right' that must be lost... not as a great blessing given. Our faith, East and West, seem to have been turned around as it were, in order to appeal to criticism from outside and our own sensibilities.

Thankfully, I've not run into any texts or contexts where this is the case in the Catholic west or east.  Certainly it is not a formal teaching of the Catholic Church and there is where I spend most of my energy.  There's plenty enough to do at that.

But I am seeing something more like a formal teaching in eastern Orthodoxy that says that a child is not born with original sin and Baptism has some other purpose than cleansing the soul from said sin, with the laver of regeneration, and this teaching is directly in contradiction to a local council and two Great General Councils which affirmed the canons of the local council.

And then it is used as a wedge issue on a local doctrinal issue and with theology at large in terms of the ancestral sin and justification.

Don't you find that curious?

M.
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« Reply #88 on: September 23, 2010, 09:47:26 PM »

If you want to see a non-Western EO view of Orthodoxy, you can read some here:

http://www.orthodox-mitropolitan-of-antinoes-panteleimon.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=53&lang=en

This is a Metropolitan under the Alexandrian Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.  I find his "catechesis" interesting.
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« Reply #89 on: September 23, 2010, 10:07:22 PM »

If you want to see a non-Western EO view of Orthodoxy, you can read some here:

http://www.orthodox-mitropolitan-of-antinoes-panteleimon.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=53&lang=en

This is a Metropolitan under the Alexandrian Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.  I find his "catechesis" interesting.

Thank you so much for this!  I just read the section on Baptism and if it is all like this it is pretty wonderful material!!

M.
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« Reply #90 on: September 25, 2010, 10:13:57 AM »

Dear brother Mina,

I’m pretty busy right now, so I only have time to address this short post from you for now:
Quote from: Mina
What other Catholic beliefs fit into the same category as the IC?  How do we know the difference between this category, and a category that cannot be denied, for example, the Trinity?  Or put it another way, which are necessary for faith, and which do not need to be necessary?

Other infallible dogmas in the Catholic Church that are on a similar “level” as the IC are Munificentissimus Deus (the Assumption, which has a nearly identical proscription – not an anathema - as the dogma on the IC) and Benedictus Deus (on the Beatific Vision of the righteous [physically] dead, which does not have a proscription at all).

In the Catholic Church, there is an hierarchy of Truths.  The central Truths are about God proper (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and belief in these are necessary for salvation.  All other Truths exist insofar as they are an aid to reinforcing the central Truths about God.  Insofar as they serve that purpose, they are likewise necessary for salvation.  One can generally (though by no means concisely) gauge their relative necessity by the proscriptions attached to them. If they are anathemas, they have a special and unique relation to the Truths about God (for example, Truths about the teaching authority of the Church, without which our knowledge of God would suffer or not exist at all). If they are not anathemas (such as in Munificentissimus Deus and Ineffabilis Deus), that would normally mean that the Truth is not central (and thus not absolutely necessary for salvation), but necessary only insofar as it reinforces the central Truths.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The mutual connections between dogmas, and their coherence, can be found in the whole of the revelation of the Mystery of Christ. In Catholic doctrine there exists an hierarchy of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian Faith…The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith.”

I hope that helps.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #91 on: September 25, 2010, 10:19:06 AM »


In the Catholic Church, there is an hierarchy of Truths.  The central Truths are about God proper (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and belief in these are necessary for salvation.


Is there some official statement on their necessity for salvation?   Are those who do not believe damned?  Jews? Muslims? Unbelievers in general?
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« Reply #92 on: September 25, 2010, 10:36:29 AM »

Dear brother Mina,

I’m pretty busy right now, so I only have time to address this short post from you for now:
Quote from: Mina
What other Catholic beliefs fit into the same category as the IC?  How do we know the difference between this category, and a category that cannot be denied, for example, the Trinity?  Or put it another way, which are necessary for faith, and which do not need to be necessary?

Other infallible dogmas in the Catholic Church that are on a similar “level” as the IC are Munificentissimus Deus (the Assumption, which has a nearly identical proscription – not an anathema - as the dogma on the IC) and Benedictus Deus (on the Beatific Vision of the righteous [physically] dead, which does not have a proscription at all).

In the Catholic Church, there is an hierarchy of Truths.  The central Truths are about God proper (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and belief in these are necessary for salvation.  All other Truths exist insofar as they are an aid to reinforcing the central Truths about God.  Insofar as they serve that purpose, they are likewise necessary for salvation.  One can generally (though by no means concisely) gauge their relative necessity by the proscriptions attached to them. If they are anathemas, they have a special and unique relation to the Truths about God (for example, Truths about the teaching authority of the Church, without which our knowledge of God would suffer or not exist at all). If they are not anathemas (such as in Munificentissimus Deus and Ineffabilis Deus), that would normally mean that the Truth is not central (and thus not absolutely necessary for salvation), but necessary only insofar as it reinforces the central Truths.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The mutual connections between dogmas, and their coherence, can be found in the whole of the revelation of the Mystery of Christ. In Catholic doctrine there exists an hierarchy of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian Faith…The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith.”

I hope that helps.

Blessings,
Marduk


Dear Marduk,

I don't have time to search references on the Internet at the moment but I think that the Church makes clear that all of the truths of the faith are to be believed in their wholeness [catholicity] and that the hierarchy of truths is established so as to center the credal truths and establish the relationship of credal truth with other supporting and explanatory truths.

When one speaks of that which is necessary to salvation, what does that mean in reality?  We never really get to explore that in these kinds of contentious venues, and without some clear idea of what salvation is, what heaven is, what theology is, what Catholic means when one finally gets around to including God as the ultimate Catholic  Smiley  none of these parsings of this and that make a whole lot of sense.  Unity and union are alien to Catholic and Orthodox dialogues at any but the level of some of our bishops and monastics.  So one cannot expect there to be opportunity to actually define and discuss anything but the most rudimentary rule-based understandings of the faith.  We as Catholics have no faith you see, no wholeness, no union, no spirit filled life, and therefore no salvation.

So dialogue remains in fight mode and in many respects produces nothing but distortion and bad faith.

The truths of revelation are not established to be barriers to one another and to the faith.  They are gates, not gate-keepers though we often wield them like clubs at one another.

But I expect that we are expected to carry on to the best of our abilities.

In Christ,

Mary

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« Reply #93 on: September 25, 2010, 10:41:09 AM »


We as Catholics have no faith you see, no wholeness, no union, no spirit filled life, and therefore no salvation.


No salvation for Roman Catholics?  Mary, stop talking to those Jehovah's Witnesses!  Angry  Or is it the Pentecostals?  They must be depressing you.
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« Reply #94 on: September 25, 2010, 10:36:38 PM »


We as Catholics have no faith you see, no wholeness, no union, no spirit filled life, and therefore no salvation.


No salvation for Roman Catholics?  Mary, stop talking to those Jehovah's Witnesses!  Angry  Or is it the Pentecostals?  They must be depressing you.

Catholics are honest enough to admit that we believe non-Catholics can be saved but the relationship with God through eternity is not the same as those who have been Baptized into Christ.

Otherwise what is all this True Church vs Religious Organization all about?

Not to mention sacramental economy...

Not to mention the ascetic  life...

You cannot really have saints without graced sacraments and the Body of Christ.

These bricks Orthodoxy lobs across the green are not isolated moments of doctrine.

They are real judgments that have real consequences.

Does it depress me?

 Smiley

I am a Catholic.

M.
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« Reply #95 on: September 25, 2010, 11:28:29 PM »


No salvation for Roman Catholics?  Mary, stop talking to those Jehovah's Witnesses!  Angry  Or is it the Pentecostals?  They must be depressing you.

Catholics are honest enough to admit that we believe non-Catholics can be saved but the relationship with God through eternity is not the same as those who have been Baptized into Christ.


Pure Mary Lanserism.  Grin  Where is the magisterial teaching that non-Catholics have a different relationship with God through eternity?
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« Reply #96 on: September 25, 2010, 11:33:23 PM »


No salvation for Roman Catholics?  Mary, stop talking to those Jehovah's Witnesses!  Angry  Or is it the Pentecostals?  They must be depressing you.

Catholics are honest enough to admit that we believe non-Catholics can be saved but the relationship with God through eternity is not the same as those who have been Baptized into Christ.


Pure Mary Lanserism.  Grin  Where is the magisterial teaching that non-Catholics have a different relationship with God through eternity?

Why don't you address the real question here which is if all can be saved and are on equal footing through eternity, what the dickens is the purpose of all the fussing over doctrine and liturgy and grace or no-grace and all the rest of the nonsense that we seem to obsess on day to day.

Is it really just a matter of one-upmanship?

M.
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« Reply #97 on: September 25, 2010, 11:44:15 PM »


No salvation for Roman Catholics?  Mary, stop talking to those Jehovah's Witnesses!  Angry  Or is it the Pentecostals?  They must be depressing you.

Catholics are honest enough to admit that we believe non-Catholics can be saved but the relationship with God through eternity is not the same as those who have been Baptized into Christ.


Pure Mary Lanserism.  Grin  Where is the magisterial teaching that non-Catholics have a different relationship with God through eternity?

Why don't you address the real question here which is if all can be saved and are on equal footing through eternity, what the dickens is the purpose of all the fussing over doctrine and liturgy and grace or no-grace and all the rest of the nonsense that we seem to obsess on day to day.

Is it really just a matter of one-upmanship?

It would seem to be a matter of one-upmanship.  You are saying that Catholics have a higher quality of theosis or of the Beatific Vision in the afterlife than non-Catholics.

I find that preposterous and would ask you to justify it, either with magisterial statements from the Roman Catholic Church or even simply with statements from the Ruthenian Catholic Church.
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« Reply #98 on: September 25, 2010, 11:57:21 PM »


No salvation for Roman Catholics?  Mary, stop talking to those Jehovah's Witnesses!  Angry  Or is it the Pentecostals?  They must be depressing you.

Catholics are honest enough to admit that we believe non-Catholics can be saved but the relationship with God through eternity is not the same as those who have been Baptized into Christ.


Pure Mary Lanserism.  Grin  Where is the magisterial teaching that non-Catholics have a different relationship with God through eternity?

Why don't you address the real question here which is if all can be saved and are on equal footing through eternity, what the dickens is the purpose of all the fussing over doctrine and liturgy and grace or no-grace and all the rest of the nonsense that we seem to obsess on day to day.

Is it really just a matter of one-upmanship?

It would seem to be a matter of one-upmanship.  You are saying that Catholics have a higher quality of theosis or of the Beatific Vision in the afterlife than non-Catholics.

I find that preposterous and would ask you to justify it, either with magisterial statements from the Roman Catholic Church or even simply with statements from the Ruthenian Catholic Church.

You are ducking the question Father and it IS the crux of the matter.

If universal salvation is not only possible but also likely and if we all share in the same experience of God regardless of our fides here on earth...what the dickens is the point of all this Orthodox nonsense about we have graced sacraments and you don't....

In your scheme of things it doesn't matter!!  We all end up the same place the same way no matter what we do!!

That's even a better deal than once saved, always saved!! 

M.
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« Reply #99 on: September 26, 2010, 12:54:01 AM »

Dear brother Mina,

I’m pretty busy right now, so I only have time to address this short post from you for now:
Quote from: Mina
What other Catholic beliefs fit into the same category as the IC?  How do we know the difference between this category, and a category that cannot be denied, for example, the Trinity?  Or put it another way, which are necessary for faith, and which do not need to be necessary?

Other infallible dogmas in the Catholic Church that are on a similar “level” as the IC are Munificentissimus Deus (the Assumption, which has a nearly identical proscription – not an anathema - as the dogma on the IC) and Benedictus Deus (on the Beatific Vision of the righteous [physically] dead, which does not have a proscription at all).
The one which condemned the heresy of Pope John XXII?
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« Reply #100 on: September 26, 2010, 04:13:05 AM »


You are ducking the question Father and it IS the crux of the matter.

If universal salvation is not only possible but also likely and if we all share in the same experience of God regardless of our fides here on earth...what the dickens is the point of all this Orthodox nonsense about we have graced sacraments and you don't....

In your scheme of things it doesn't matter!!  We all end up the same place the same way no matter what we do!!

That's even a better deal than once saved, always saved!! 



Will the Heterodox Be Saved?
Metropolitan Philaret, of blessed memory, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (+1985)

<...>

The question: Can the heterodox, i.e. those who do, not belong to Orthodoxy-the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church-be saved, has become particularly painful and acute in our days.

In attempting to answer this question, it is necessary, first of all, to recall that in His Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ Himself mentions but one state of the human soul which unfailingly leads to perdition-i.e. blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:1-32). The Holy Spirit is, above all, the Spirit of Truth, as the Saviour loved to refer to Him. Accordingly, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is blasphemy against the Truth, conscious and persistent opposition to it. The same text makes it clear that even blasphemy against the Son of Man-i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God Himself may be forgiven men, as it may be uttered in error or in ignorance and, subsequently may be covered by conversion and repentance (an example of such a converted and repentant blasphemer is the Apostle Paul. (See Acts 26:11 and I Tim. 1:13.) If, however, a man opposes the Truth which he clearly apprehends by his reason and, conscience, he becomes blind and commits spiritual suicide, for he thereby likens himself to the devil, who believes in God and dreads Him, yet hates, blasphemes, and opposes Him.

Thus, man's refusal to accept the Divine Truth and his opposition thereto makes him a son of damnation. Accordingly, in sending His disciples to preach, the Lord told them: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16), for the latter heard the Lord's Truth and was called upon to accept it, yet refused, thereby inheriting the damnation of those who "believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thes. 2:12).

The Holy Orthodox Church is the repository of the divinely revealed Truth in all its fullness and fidelity to apostolic Tradition. Hence, he who leaves the Church, who intentionally and consciously falls away from it, joins the ranks of its opponents and becomes a renegade as regards apostolic Tradition. The Church dreadfully anathematized such renegades, in accordance with the words of the Saviour Himself (Matt. 18:17) and of the Apostle Paul (Gal. 1:8-9), threatening them with e ternal damnation and calling them to return to the Orthodox fold. It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics-i.e. those who knowingly pervert the truth...* They have been born and raised and are living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The Lord, "Who will have all men to be saved" (I Tim. 2:4) and "Who enlightens every man born into the world" (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation In His own way.

<...>

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/metphil_heterodox.aspx

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« Reply #101 on: September 26, 2010, 05:53:49 AM »

If universal salvation is not only possible but also likely and if we all share in the same experience of God regardless of our fides here on earth...what the dickens is the point of all this Orthodox nonsense about we have graced sacraments and you don't....

In your scheme of things it doesn't matter!!  We all end up the same place the same way no matter what we do!!

That's even a better deal than once saved, always saved!! 


A few articles - to redress your unbalanced apprehension of my viewpoint.....

"Saint Isaac of Nineveh and Universal Salvation"

http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_6_10

"Saint Gregory the Theologian and Eschatological Insights"

http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_5_11

The Metropolitan writes these words on Saint Gregory's understanding in the latter article and I believe they are words of wisdom...

"It seems that Gregory Nazianzen is in agreement with Gregory of Nyssa that there will be a final restoration of all. However, unlike the Bishop of Nyssa, he never brings eschatological insights to their ultimate outcome: for him, eschatology is a realm of questions rather than answers, conjectures rather than definitions. ‘Restoration of all’ is an object of hope rather than a dogma of faith. He rejects neither the idea of eternal Hell, nor the idea of universal salvation: both concepts remain for him with a big question mark. Speaking of the resurrection of the dead, Gregory asks: ‘Is it that all will later encounter God?’, and leaves this question unanswered. Eschatological deification of humanity is one of the many mysteries of the Christian faith which are beyond the limits of rational comprehension. "

A google search with   apokatastasis hilarion   will produce more articles on this theme.

Finally I believe the sanest attitude is that of Saint Maximus the Confessor...

"One should pray that Apokatastasis is true, but one would be foolish to teach it as doctrine."


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« Reply #102 on: September 26, 2010, 08:48:05 AM »


You are ducking the question Father and it IS the crux of the matter.

If universal salvation is not only possible but also likely and if we all share in the same experience of God regardless of our fides here on earth...what the dickens is the point of all this Orthodox nonsense about we have graced sacraments and you don't....

In your scheme of things it doesn't matter!!  We all end up the same place the same way no matter what we do!!

That's even a better deal than once saved, always saved!! 



Will the Heterodox Be Saved?
Metropolitan Philaret, of blessed memory, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (+1985)

<...>

The question: Can the heterodox, i.e. those who do, not belong to Orthodoxy-the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church-be saved, has become particularly painful and acute in our days.

In attempting to answer this question, it is necessary, first of all, to recall that in His Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ Himself mentions but one state of the human soul which unfailingly leads to perdition-i.e. blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:1-32). The Holy Spirit is, above all, the Spirit of Truth, as the Saviour loved to refer to Him. Accordingly, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is blasphemy against the Truth, conscious and persistent opposition to it. The same text makes it clear that even blasphemy against the Son of Man-i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God Himself may be forgiven men, as it may be uttered in error or in ignorance and, subsequently may be covered by conversion and repentance (an example of such a converted and repentant blasphemer is the Apostle Paul. (See Acts 26:11 and I Tim. 1:13.) If, however, a man opposes the Truth which he clearly apprehends by his reason and, conscience, he becomes blind and commits spiritual suicide, for he thereby likens himself to the devil, who believes in God and dreads Him, yet hates, blasphemes, and opposes Him.

Thus, man's refusal to accept the Divine Truth and his opposition thereto makes him a son of damnation. Accordingly, in sending His disciples to preach, the Lord told them: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16), for the latter heard the Lord's Truth and was called upon to accept it, yet refused, thereby inheriting the damnation of those who "believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thes. 2:12).

The Holy Orthodox Church is the repository of the divinely revealed Truth in all its fullness and fidelity to apostolic Tradition. Hence, he who leaves the Church, who intentionally and consciously falls away from it, joins the ranks of its opponents and becomes a renegade as regards apostolic Tradition. The Church dreadfully anathematized such renegades, in accordance with the words of the Saviour Himself (Matt. 18:17) and of the Apostle Paul (Gal. 1:8-9), threatening them with e ternal damnation and calling them to return to the Orthodox fold. It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics-i.e. those who knowingly pervert the truth...* They have been born and raised and are living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The Lord, "Who will have all men to be saved" (I Tim. 2:4) and "Who enlightens every man born into the world" (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation In His own way.

<...>

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/metphil_heterodox.aspx



He then ducks, as you are Father, the clear reality of the elephant in his theological livingroom.

IF Orthodoxy is the fullness of faith and salvation and it is held by none other, yet we are ALL destined for the SAME salvation and the SAME course through ever lasting life, what is the PURPOSE of all this fussing over this or that detail all about?

Why go through the troubles of living the Orthodox life and walking the Orthodox walk when it all comes out well in the end for ANYONE who professes Jesus Christ is Lord?...and even some of those who do not.

Why bother?  As you describe it and as it is described here it is really nothing more than a life-style choice.  So why argue about and why remain out of communion with those Christian brothers and sisters with whom you will spend life-everlasting IF our life-style choices have NO bearing on our salvation?Huh

M.
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« Reply #103 on: September 26, 2010, 08:53:14 AM »

If universal salvation is not only possible but also likely and if we all share in the same experience of God regardless of our fides here on earth...what the dickens is the point of all this Orthodox nonsense about we have graced sacraments and you don't....

In your scheme of things it doesn't matter!!  We all end up the same place the same way no matter what we do!!

That's even a better deal than once saved, always saved!! 


A few articles - to redress your unbalanced apprehension of my viewpoint.....

"Saint Isaac of Nineveh and Universal Salvation"

http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_6_10

"Saint Gregory the Theologian and Eschatological Insights"

http://en.hilarion.orthodoxia.org/6_5_11

The Metropolitan writes these words on Saint Gregory's understanding in the latter article and I believe they are words of wisdom...

"It seems that Gregory Nazianzen is in agreement with Gregory of Nyssa that there will be a final restoration of all. However, unlike the Bishop of Nyssa, he never brings eschatological insights to their ultimate outcome: for him, eschatology is a realm of questions rather than answers, conjectures rather than definitions. ‘Restoration of all’ is an object of hope rather than a dogma of faith. He rejects neither the idea of eternal Hell, nor the idea of universal salvation: both concepts remain for him with a big question mark. Speaking of the resurrection of the dead, Gregory asks: ‘Is it that all will later encounter God?’, and leaves this question unanswered. Eschatological deification of humanity is one of the many mysteries of the Christian faith which are beyond the limits of rational comprehension. "

A google search with   apokatastasis hilarion   will produce more articles on this theme.

Finally I believe the sanest attitude is that of Saint Maximus the Confessor...

"One should pray that Apokatastasis is true, but one would be foolish to teach it as doctrine."


This has NOTHING to do with the reality of a  Christianity divided on core truths of the faith AND essential practices of the expression of the faith!!  Does not address it in the slightest. 

And it is not really necessary to profess apokatastasis to raise the question!!

IF we die outside the fullness of the faith, and my salvation and everlasting relationship will be the same as your own, why would you remain outside of communion with me, except as a life-style choice?

You can recommend several varieties of birth control pastorally, and I cannot....You can claim to be of the TRUE Church and you say I cannot.

Other than a few earthly perks, what is the big deal?

Mary
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« Reply #104 on: September 26, 2010, 09:08:05 AM »

I am dealing with this statement of yours:

Quote

Catholics are honest enough to admit that we believe non-Catholics can be saved but the relationship with God through eternity is not the same as those who have been Baptized into Christ.

You are simply refusing to address it and are trying to escape my enquiry.......  Are non-Catholics in heaven restricted to a lesser level of the Beatific Vision?   Or a lesser form of theosis?   I truly cannot imagine what you mean. 

I know that what you have asserted is not magisterial teaching and I am left wondering where you picked it up?


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« Reply #105 on: September 26, 2010, 09:15:53 AM »

I am dealing with this statement of yours:

Quote

Catholics are honest enough to admit that we believe non-Catholics can be saved but the relationship with God through eternity is not the same as those who have been Baptized into Christ.

You are simply refusing to address it and are trying to escape my enquiry.......  Are non-Catholics in heaven restricted to a lesser level of the Beatific Vision?   Or a lesser form of theosis?   I truly cannot imagine what you mean. 

I know that what you have asserted is not magisterial teaching and I am left wondering where you picked it up?

No Father...and this one is as plain as the egg on your face.

IF our salvation is NO different between the believers and non-believers, why are we not in communion with all Christians?

That is the real question that EVERY religious section on this forum ducks daily in the rush to Orthodox triumphalism.

What the heck to you all have to be triumphal ABOUT with all this one TRUE Church stuff?

Who cares?  We are all going to swing on the same cloud in any event.

Thank you, Father for you cogent address of the question of the ages.

M.
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« Reply #106 on: September 26, 2010, 09:22:11 AM »

I am hoping to be enlightened, not on the "question of the ages," but on your statement that heaven is somehow two-tiered.  There are the Catholics there who have a specific "Catholic" relationship with God and there are non-Catholics who have a different relationship.

Are you able to say more about that difference in relationship?

To bring it into focus... assuming you and I are both in heaven, in what way will your relationship with God differ from mine?
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« Reply #107 on: September 26, 2010, 01:05:21 PM »

I am hoping to be enlightened, not on the "question of the ages," but on your statement that heaven is somehow two-tiered.  There are the Catholics there who have a specific "Catholic" relationship with God and there are non-Catholics who have a different relationship.

Are you able to say more about that difference in relationship?

To bring it into focus... assuming you and I are both in heaven, in what way will your relationship with God differ from mine?

As I said it is this idea that there is NO difference between a pagan and a Christian or a Christian of one faith or another through eternity that forces the question of why we bother to make such clear distinctions here when there are no distinctions in the hereafter.

I can understand that you would not want to answer this question ...or cannot.

I just thought I would raise the issue because it is the question hidden behind all the posturing about trueness and only-oneness in Church.

Mary
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« Reply #108 on: October 05, 2010, 08:11:26 AM »

My priest suggested that there will be those who will enter the kingdom of God as sons and daughters of God, and there will be others who will be servants. I consider that even the latter is far more than I deserve.

John
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« Reply #109 on: October 05, 2010, 11:23:02 AM »

I remember in reading the life of (RC) St Therese of Liseux, her older sister used a charming analogy to help her understand how all of us could be equally happy in heaven despite our different amounts of faith.

The older sister set a thimble and a vase side by side, then filled both to the brim with water.  "Which is more full?" she asked Therese.  The little girl then understood that no matter how small our "cup of faith" might be, God will fill it to overflowing with His love.
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« Reply #110 on: October 05, 2010, 11:32:36 AM »

My priest suggested that there will be those who will enter the kingdom of God as sons and daughters of God, and there will be others who will be servants. I consider that even the latter is far more than I deserve.

John

Yes.  The last shall be first...and that sort of thing.  There's more than one instance in the New Testament where Jesus makes it plain that "fair" is on God's terms, not ours, and that we all are not equal in what we gain here on earth and through life everlasting. 

That does not mean we do not try.  It does mean we are fools to try for mere personal gain.  It means we never ought to compare our lot with that of another.  It does mean that the salvation of all should be our prayer, not because it is fair, but because it would be for the greater honor and glory of God.

This idea that we all are saved and saved with equal result is not supported in Scripture or in the teachings of the ascetic fathers.

Your priest is a wise man.

Mary
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« Reply #111 on: October 05, 2010, 02:25:49 PM »

I remember in reading the life of (RC) St Therese of Liseux, her older sister used a charming analogy to help her understand how all of us could be equally happy in heaven despite our different amounts of faith.

The older sister set a thimble and a vase side by side, then filled both to the brim with water.  "Which is more full?" she asked Therese.  The little girl then understood that no matter how small our "cup of faith" might be, God will fill it to overflowing with His love.

PERFECT!!

Thank you!

M.
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« Reply #112 on: April 03, 2011, 02:41:52 PM »

I remember in reading the life of (RC) St Therese of Liseux, her older sister used a charming analogy to help her understand how all of us could be equally happy in heaven despite our different amounts of faith.

The older sister set a thimble and a vase side by side, then filled both to the brim with water.  "Which is more full?" she asked Therese.  The little girl then understood that no matter how small our "cup of faith" might be, God will fill it to overflowing with His love.

Great thought Smiley
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