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Author Topic: The sinlessness of the Theotokos, John the Baptist, and the Old Testament Saints  (Read 8297 times) Average Rating: 0
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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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St Basil the Great (330-379 A.D.): “I think then that the one goal of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the churches who have at different times and in diverse manners divided from one another.”
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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":

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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
« Last Edit: September 22, 2010, 10:57:34 PM by Mardukm » Logged
ialmisry
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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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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 #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
There's nothing John of Damascus can't answer
Hypatos
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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
There's nothing John of Damascus can't answer
Hypatos
*****************
Online Online

Faith: جامعي Arab confesssing the Orthodox Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
Jurisdiction: Antioch (for now), but my heart belongs to Alexandria
Posts: 37,334



« 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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