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Author Topic: Protestant Response to "Is Salvation a 'Free' gift?"  (Read 6335 times) Average Rating: 0
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Zenith
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« Reply #90 on: June 21, 2011, 06:36:22 PM »

Power and authority are two different things.  We tend to discuss "power" in terms of the divine energies.  So when I hear "power," I hear "divinity."

"Authority" is another matter.  I think it appropriate to say Christ receives His authority from the Father, though in His nature He is coequal with the Father.  But I think it's probably better to understand that authority as a statement of unity rather than subordination.  When Christ says "I do the will of my Father," for example, there is a lot to untangle there to have an accurate understanding of what is being said and what the ramifications are.  Among those, Christ has two wills, a divine will and a human will, so He exercises His human will in perfect accord with His divine will, which is also the will of His Father.  A lot there to unpack.  Better, IMHO, to get the essence and energies and person and nature issues straight first.
Do we find that clear distinction in the New Testament? Namely that Jesus' "power" is actually "authority" and not "supernatural power"?
Also, I know that we contradict each other for a long time but, there is no biblical evidence of Jesus having two wills (besides of the fact that we cannot imagine how that is and that I see it as self-contradictory).

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Our human nature will be transformed into His human nature, but that occurs at the level of person.
ok, so our human nature will be transformed into His human nature.
But that actually means that "human nature will be transformed into human nature".
In other words, either our nature must not human or His nature must not human, in order for our nature to be transformed into His nature. i.e. They must be two different natures for one to be transformed into other.

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Our human nature isn't "changed," it is illumined by the divine energies.
ok, so... is our nature going to be transformed into His nature after all, or not?

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In the case of Jesus, that occurred within His person -- He is divine and human, so His divinity interpenetrated His humanity, such that His human nature was illumined by His divine nature.
3 points:
1. That sounds as if you reduce Jesus to a human and then bestow him (illuminate him) with a divine nature.
2. If you have a human nature & a divine nature then you get two different persons you're talking about.
3. What does it mean that a human nature is illuminated by a divine nature? Do you have a clear image in mind of it?

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For us, that is brought about by communion with Christ's illumined human nature -- His flesh and blood -- and therefore with the divine energies that interpenetrate His humanity.
Which is the orthodox philosophy only.

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But our human nature (or His human nature) will never be transformed into the divine nature.  It is illumined by the divine energies, but it does not share the divine nature.
 
So Jesus had his human nature illumined by a divine nature and has two natures, while we have our human natures illuminated by divine energies and remain with one nature. ok, what is the difference between being illumined by a divine nature and being illumined by divine energies?

KNOW that these terms, "divine nature" and "divine energy" and "illuminated by the divine nature" and "illuminated by the divine energy" sound to me as if you speak in Chinese. I'm serious. (And Chinese is 100% foreign to me).

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I agree that Christ did not incarnate then. I was curios how you relate "man" with "angel" and "the Lord".
"Angel" is a translation.  I don't know enough about the Hebrew to parse it, and I'm hardly a Greek scholar, but I know the Greek for "angel" (in Gen. 19:1, that word is "aggeloi") simply means "messenger."
So does the hebrew word for "angel" mean. But the fact is that that "messenger" - when translated in our bibles with "angel" - was from God, i.e. a "messenger" coming from heaven (a heavenly/celestial being). he was NOT a "human being".

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ok, given the fact that we have the Lord described as a "man" in Genesis 18, I ask you to give me some verses that specify that Christ's nature has changed/been enhanced. Because, if "man" was described for God in the Old Testament, then it is wrong to transform every "man" in the New Testament as "human nature" - I hope you understand what I mean.

I do. Again, I don't know the Hebrew well enough to comment.  But again, the Greek in both 18:22 and 19:1 is "andres," not "anthropos."  "Andres" comes from "aner" which means "an individual male" or, per Strong's "any male."  It's not a word that denotes a nature so much as the sex of the person being referenced.  In other words, it does not appear Genesis 18:22 is saying "this is a male human," but rather, "this is a male."
In hebrew, Gen 18.2, 18.22, etc. it is three men (male men, hebr. אֲנָשִׁים). It does not mean only "male", it means a "male man". And there is another word, זָכָר which mean "male" and can be used for both humans and animals.

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As for "Christ's nature" (you keep saying this as if He has only one nature, which is confusing) being "changed" or "enhanced," see below.

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After you do that, I need you to tell me how exactly Christ's "nature" has changed after receiving the "human nature" (i.e. in what matters/how Christ's natures after the incarnation differed to His nature before incarnation).

His divine nature hasn't changed.  At all.  His human nature did not ontologically change (nor will ours), but His human nature has been illumined by the divine energies in His person.

So His divine nature is the same as it always was and His human nature is now illumined.  Neither has "changed" from being divine or human, respectively.
And my question was "how exactly?" You tell me that, but I don't understand what "His human nature has been illumined by the divine energies in His person." should mean.

Know that it is hard for me to understand that which you claim that you understand, i.e. I'm not trying to uselessly contradict you.
So please explain how exactly (i.e. in detail, specific, concrete) He changed after receiving the human nature.
And I need you to re-explain to me how Jesus really possessed a human nature (i.e. a human essence) considering Gen 18.22. (i.e. "man").

And also, I hope you'll understand this question, as I've been trying to ask ye this but didn't understand me well:
What exactly is an essence? And where does it reside?
TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN: We have genes that define our behaviors (our "nature"), we have "souls" that also define ourselves (as "living" beings, which should also carry our personalities).
So, in this context, please explain me what exactly (i.e. genes, something in the, or regarding the soul) essence/nature is, and where exactly our essence resides.

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Given the fact that the "human nature" is, in many things, quite contradictory to the "divine nature", the only way it doesn't sound paradoxical/contradictory, is to say that Christ's "divine nature" got merged with His "human nature", so He has come to have only one nature (the result of the merging of the two). But we'll have to clarify first the "human nature" of Christ first.

That's not correct.  Neither nature is merged.  Neither is confused with the other.  Both remain what they were before.  

And human nature is in the image and likeness of God.  The likeness was lost in the Fall, but the image remains.  So to say they are "contradictory" is to confuse person and nature.  The nature isn't contradictory to the divine nature.  What we as persons do with that nature, on the other hand, often contradicts the divine will.

Keep this in mind if it helps -- natures don't sin, people do.
I guess I'm having a big problem with the concept of "nature" - as you didn't explain to me so far what exactly a nature is and how exactly the human nature differs from the divine nature, for me to have a correct and complete understanding of what "nature" is. Sorry.

Anyway, do you have some biblical base for these statements:
"That's not correct.  Neither nature is merged.  Neither is confused with the other.  Both remain what they were before."
"The likeness was lost in the Fall, but the image remains."
"The nature isn't contradictory to the divine nature."
?

As about "image" and "likeness", I understand them this way:
image = regarding the look.
likeness = regarding attributes (as capability of thinking, emotions, knowledge, freedom to act by your own will, etc.)

And, by this:
"And human nature is in the image and likeness of God.  The likeness was lost in the Fall, but the image remains."
You seem to have said that we have lost our human natures, i.e. that we are not humans anymore.

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I expressed there the word "begotten" as understood by the muslims.
Still, you did not answer the question: what does "begotten" mean to you? If you just tell me "begotten" I don't know what to understand of it.

It means the same as "son," but not in a carnal sense as applied to Christ.  It is probably better to say "the only one of His kind," except there is a distinction made in both Scripture and the Creed between Christ being "begotten of the Father" and the Holy Spirit "proceeding from the Father," so that's not as accurate as it could be.
You understand "begotten of the Father" as "coming from the Father"?

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The Son is generated from the Father to become incarnate and unite humanity to the Godhead.  The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father to guide the Church into all truth.  
So, the question should be: when did Jesus become Father's son? You seem to claim that He became "Son" when He was incarnated, but I am not certain.

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Just curios... why there has to be an order in the Trinity?

Well, because there is.  I know that's not a very good answer, but there are three distinct persons sharing one divine essence.

"Second person" does not denote subordination in the Godhead, but rather is used in the sense of the Creed -- the Father is listed first, the Son second, the Holy Spirit third.
ok, it's only the listing.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 06:42:38 PM by Zenith » Logged
Zenith
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« Reply #91 on: June 21, 2011, 08:48:55 PM »

I'll start this post with a very important thing, that you might have observed already:
We understand each other as a greek man talking to a chinese man.
You know, the words I say and I use have a totally different meaning to you than they have to me.
And perhaps the same happens vice-versa (an exception is when I don't understand terms you use, at all).

I'll say now a brief description of how I understand things with faith & deeds & salvation:
  • Unlike you guys, I don't believe that we are 'born again'/'saved'/or whatever word you like, by a priest when we are babies. The only "salvation" that God offers is to conscious people (among other conditions). So a man (not a baby) can be saved in a period of his life, and not by the will of a man (e.g. a priest) and no man can prevent it.


Awesome!  We don't either!  The priest saves no one.  God saves.  Always.
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Now, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "a man (not a baby) can be saved in a period of his life, and not by the will of a man (e.g. a priest) and no man can prevent it."  That doesn't make sense to me.
Sorry, my mistake. I should have written "a man (not a baby) can be saved in a moment of his life, and not by the will of a man (e.g. a priest) and no man can prevent it"

My point was like this - I'll give now an explanation:
We have a country and a king in history: it is written in the chronicles that the king X built the chuch Y.
What does it mean? Does it mean that the king himself got to work gathering bricks and wood, and started to build himself?
No! It means that HE was the boss, the one in charge: He ORDERED the church to be built - if he didn't do that, that specific church would have not been built then, there. But because He DID ORDER, then the people (not himself) built it.

The same is with the priest and God: you put the priest as the "master" (king) and God as the "servant": if the priest does not baptize the child, then God does not save him = the child does not receive the Holy Spirit. But if the priest does baptize the child, then, AT HIS DOING (in that moment, because he did that) God saves the child (i.e. baptizes him with the Holy Spirit). It's the same as saying that the priest saves, because He is the master that commands God when, where and whom to receive the Holy Spirit, and if the priest does not do that, God can't do it himself, i.e. it all depends on the priest. And this theory of yours with the priest baptizing children to receive the Holy Spirit is also contrary - as I have said a long time ago - with John 1.13 ("by the will of a man").

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It sounds like you are denying babies can be saved, but surely you don't mean that.
I did mean that. But "saved" and "salvation" need to be discussed further, i.e. I don't mean that babies go to hell if they die as babies. They simply don't enter the process of salvation (when the regeneration occurs, etc.).

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  • The man "is saved" (i.e. enters the period/process of "salvation") because of faith - Galatians 3.14, John 3.15. He is "born again"/"saved"/"united with Christ" when he receives the Holy Spirit (also said, "baptzied/immersed with/in the Holy Spirit"). He enters the salvation because of "faith" (i.e. trust in God, besides the conviction that God exists (obviously), etc.), not because of deeds: no matter how many deeds you do, that will not make him enter "salvation", it requires faith for that (Romans 9.30-32) (and here babies fail too).

"Because of faith" and "through faith" are two quite different things.
I'm sorry about that, in my language "by" and "through" are translated with the same word, and it is a bit hard for me not to confuse them and to explain such a thing properly.
Anyway, is there this distinction in greek? I'm not certain about that (if you can, please check that). For instance, in Acts 3.16, "through" can also be translated as "by": http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G1909&t=KJV&page=16

And I also found in Ephesians 2.8 "through" to be defined as:
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1223&t=KJV

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I'd suggest you re-read not only Romans, but Ephesians.  We are saved "by grace," i.e., "because of grace."  We are saved THROUGH faith -- faith is the means by which we lay hold of the Gifts.  But faith is not the cause of salvation, lest faith become the one good work we have to do to be saved.  You say expressly that we do not have to do "deeds" to be saved, and yet you seem to turn faith into a deed.
No, actually "saved through faith" does not mean "being (i.e. continually) saved through faith". I'll explain below.

As about "faith being deed" you said. I guess there is an important thing I forgot to say in that summary (and perhaps I also got myself confused while talking about the subject, sorry for that)
Quote from: Eph 2.8
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God
ok, which is the gift/grace of God?
From the verse I see that it is the faith.
Consider John 6.44: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him"
What does it mean to come to Christ? Doesn't it mean to come to believe in Him? And what does it mean that the Father draws him? What is this drawing to Christ? If coming to Christ means to come to believe in Him, then drawing him to Christ should mean the "faith" which is the gift of God: God gives faith = God makes a man [truly] believe in Jesus Christ. This is how God draws a man to Christ. And this "faith" is obviously not at all the same as the silly belief some have because their grandma told them that it is so, when they were little.

This is how the faith needed to be saved (i.e. to enter the process of salvation) is not a deed we do. Besides this faith, and after that, there is the trust in God (also a faith) which is on us to do: to continue to trust God, i.e. a man to entrust his life in His hands = to trust that his life is in God's hands and to fully agree with it being so and to trust that all he passes through is something allowed by God to happen or coming from God, to trust that He is active in his life, to trust that God is as He is described in the bible, e.g. that He doesn't lie, that He is good, etc.

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We receive the Holy Spirit at our chrismation, whether that occurs as an infant or as an adult.  
This is a discussion we also had before but didn't get to a resolution.

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  • Since the moment a man is "saved", he enters into a period of "salvation" that fortunately lasts until he dies (it depends on the man). If it lasts until he dies, he goes to heaven. If it doesn't, he goes to hell. The possibility to lose his "salvation" is if he 'rebels' against God and returns to his life of before. A man does not lose his salvation by a silly mistake or because he did not do enough deeds or because he did not struggle enough to do good deeds.

I'm not sure how to answer this.  Depending on what you mean hear, I might agree or I might disagree.  

I'm quite certain I disagree there is a "moment" a man is saved.  Salvation is a process.  It is not a moment in time.
I did mean that there is a moment a man is saved in. And I do believe you agree with me - it might be... terminology.
Explanation: if you have "salvation" as a process, then that process must have a beginning. And that beginning of the process is the "moment" the man is saved. I guess you understand that people are "saved" (i.e. the moment in which they enter the process of salvation) when they are baptized in water.

I hope it sounds more clear now.

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  • The "faith" (i.e. the true/authentic faith) gives itself birth to deeds. If one's faith does not give birth to deeds, then his faith is a dead faith (not an authentic/true faith). In other words, deeds are an effect of the true/authentic faith (i.e. trust in God). The "deeds" (i.e. the good deeds) are the effect of his faith (Philimon 1.6, as well as the events with Abraham and Rahab) & the Holy Spirit dwelling in him.

I don't entirely disagree with this, but I think it unnecessarily divides faith and works.  True faith reveals itself in works, and works teach us true faith.
Nowhere in the bible do you find that DEEDS give birth to FAITH. That is what you said by "works teach us true faith".
Do we both agree that "faith" is "trust" / "conviction"? (consider Hebrews 11.1)
If so, how can you say that by helping a poor you start to trust God? Or how can you say that by helping a poor an atheist starts to be convinced that God exists and that the Bible is true, etc.? Do you not see that works do not lead to faith?

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They are not, as you seem to make them, opposing forces, but rather they are dependent on one another.
I did not depict them as opposing forces. They are quite dependent on one another. Only that, the other way around: the deeds are dependent on faith, i.e. the faith gives birth to deeds, not the faith is dependent on deeds, i.e. not the deeds give birth to faith.

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There isn't a "faith first, then works" aspect to salvation.
I don't speak about different periods of time (in period X you have faith and in period Y deeds). I speak about cause-effect.

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We are saved by grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves, but it is the gift of God.  It is not of works, lest any man should boast.  This much is certainly true.
And this does not contradict what I said.

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But we are also saved to do the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do.
Find me the saying "saved to do works" in the Bible, as I fear you misused the term "saved" here. Notice also that Ephesians 2.10 does not say "saved to do ...".

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Read one verse more and you see that salvation is not "faith and not works," or "faith first, and then later works," but rather "faith which clings to the good works God has for us to do, and good works which teach us what true faith looks like."
As I said, it is the other way around:
not
"faith clings to the good works"
but
"good works cling to faith"

And Ephesians 2.10 does NOT say that works teach us what true faith is. You understand that good works give birth to faith, but it is not so.
And also please consider what "faith" truly means. If you agree that "faith" means trust/conviction then you must agree that no matter how many good works a man does, that would not bring him faith (trust/conviction) in God, etc.

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  • After a man enters the process/period of salvation, there is no need for him to (perhaps, also cannot) fear that he would afterwards go to hell because "he did not do enough deeds" -as it is not the deeds themselves that save him from hell: it is the abiding in Christ that ensures that he won't go to hell, and the abiding in Christ results in "good deeds" (it's about the vine and the branches).

I don't fear I will go to hell because I have not done enough deeds.  I fear I will go to hell because I haven't even begun to repent.
So, why do you not repent? Or what do you understand by repentance?

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And the more I try to do good works, fast, pray, give alms, etc., the more I realize I am utterly unworthy of salvation.
I also met a baptist young lady once. She was about 17 or 18 back then. She was desperately trying to do all kinds of good works so that she would not go to hell and was permanently fearing that she would not go to heaven. She was very depressed and was feeling utterly unworthy, feeling a kind of impediment for her from going heaven. I didn't know why she was depressed from her, her brother told me some long time after... very proud, considering this as a kind of virtue and as a test from God. He was with some friends of him, baptist youth from the same church. I tried to explain them that by/through faith we are saved, not by/through deeds, so that there is no need to panic or get depressed of going to hell because of not doing enough good deeds. They laughed.

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I trust God's mercy.  Trusting my pitiful works would be folly.  But the works serve quite a good purpose for my soul.  They teach me what unity with Christ looks like.
Good works do serve a good purpose, but not that which you say. Good works cannot teach what unity with Christ is. Unity either is - and you know it - or it is not.

I'll try to give an explanation as close as possible, perhaps it would help: you know God speaks about unity between man and woman, that they become one flesh. Imagine how it is when you are married and you love your wife from all your heart and she loves you from all her heart and you feel that you are united. You are a united family, desiring the same things, caring for one another, etc.. And imagine how a disunited family should look like, i.e. when one is cold to the other or both are cold to each other, because either one does not love the other, or neither of them loves the other. This disunity can also be felt, as unity can be felt. And no "work" can teach how unity should be when there isn't. And no work can make there be a unity.

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  • In the period/process of salvation, the man is continually growing/being transformed into the likeness of God, by the Holy Spirit(2 Cor 3.18).

This is the sum total of what I have been trying to say -- salvation is not something that is a once-done deal.  It is us being drawn to God, closer and closer and closer.

But it DOES have a beginning (which is the moment when a person is "saved"). This is what I've been trying to say.
Orthodox people seem to claim that there is a process of salvation without a beginning ("it just is, don't ask since when or where!") and many or most protestants seem to claim that there is a certain moment and that that is the only thing there is. But there is both a moment (i.e. a beginning) and a process.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 09:03:39 PM by Zenith » Logged
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« Reply #92 on: June 21, 2011, 09:26:12 PM »

I checked the greek and you are right, the word "nature" isn't there, but it does say that "in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren" in the next verse.
Well, I tell you a thing he was not made like all his brethren: sinner (all men are sinners). The fact is that no human being is capable of resisting sin (at some points he would inevitably sin). And this weakness to sin was not shared by Jesus. So why should His nature itself be 'changed' (i.e. into two natures)? Now I use the word "nature" while not knowing what exactly to understand of it (nor of "two natures" - I personally cannot truly imagine someone with two natures, I can't have any idea how that should be like)

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John 8:28 says that Christ "came forth from the Father, and am come into the world". So how do you explain that Christ both "came forth from the Father" and was in all things made like unto the brethren?
I understand that Jesus lived in a human body, human flesh, living the same feelings we live and suffering the same temptations (Heb 2.18), and also suffering pain.

I believe the main differences between man and God are that:
a) the man does not have "power" (like, supernatural power, inherent power), so omnipotence is also excluded.
b) the man is not omnipresent
c) the man is very limited in knowledge, reasoning, logic and any other mental capability
d) man is subject to God (which is quite related to point a), because it's based on power).

Consider also that Psalm 82.6 says "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High"
And consider that man was made in God's likeness (i.e. in similarity to God).

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Christ is both divine and human. Our human nature isn't going to become anything other than human.
So, what is a human? How do you define a human? And what are the exact (specific, concrete, etc.) differences between "human nature" and "divine nature"? I have named some differences between man and God (from a) to d) ). Please do something like that yourself, regarding the human nature and the divine nature.
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« Reply #93 on: June 21, 2011, 10:05:21 PM »

I have said before that some of the people who so stridently accuse Orthodox Christians "trying to earn Salvation by doing good works" are some of the most works-based minds I have come across. I am referring to heavily pietistic groups who insist Christians can never:
-Drink; even in moderation
-wear certain clothes
-adopt certain hair styles
-dance
-listen to certain music
-get a tattoo
-wear jewelry

The list goes on.
They would have been quite right... if in the bible it would have been indeed written so.

Only that,
a) The Bible allows people to drink alcohol. It only prohibits them from getting drunk.

b) The Bible allows people to wear fashionable clothes and adopt certain hair styles (well, there is no place in the bible where such a thing is prohibited). However, if you mean indecent clothes (i.e. a woman to be dressed very summary, in transparent clothes), I think that is forbidden.

c) Dance... another stupid prohibition. Some people believe that having fun is sin and that God asks us a permanent sobriety. Again, not forbidden in the Bible.

d) Regarding listening certain music... well, I don't think listening to music that mocks and insults Jesus Christ and God are the music fit for a christian. Regarding other 'worldy' music where the artists swear or sing about having sex or about sadistic scenarios, protestants seem to use Colossians 3.17. But in very many verses it can be noticed that "all" and other words alike are not being used in absolutist meanings (i.e. as in the 10 disasters which God stroke Egypt with, it is said that all grass was destroyed, and further what happened to the grass that remained, because "all" meant there something like "as the whole", and not the absolutist "each and every individual piece of grass"), and by the context we can figure out that feeling depressed and crying or things like that do not fit in Colossians 3.17.

e) The tattoo seems to be forbidden (Leviticus 19.28). However, if you are interested, here is a thing I have just found.

f) Wearing jewelry itself is not a sin. Consider Ezekiel 16.10-14, God says that He did that to Israel, Israel being represented as a woman. Now if that thing had been a sin, why would have God done it? The problem is with things described in Isaiah 3.16 and 1 Peter 3.1-6 - in these verses, the problem is not being dressed good or made to look beautiful, but the attitude and intention beyond it. 1 Peter 3.1-6 says that a woman's focus must be on being a good person, instead of having her focus to looks (i.e. the looks must not be the primary concern of the woman).

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I have said before that some of the people who so stridently accuse Orthodox Christians "trying to earn Salvation by doing good works" are some of the most works-based minds I have come across.
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Of course the response would be "but we are not trying to earn anything, we are just following Biblical commandments because of our faith." Well, as Orthodox Christians we basically say the same thing.
The problem is not having a strong devotion to follow the commandments. The problem is not understanding the Bible properly and following commandments understood wrongly in a fanatical way (which is not following the commandments).

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Except we do not draw up some false parameters, as Faith is known not to be some neatly compartmentalized, vapid, pseudo-intellectual, mindset. Rather Faith is a dynamic that moves.
Now I can't imagine a "trust" or firm "conviction" that moves, sorry. Or perhaps you tell me what you understand of "faith". I understand faith something like what it's said in Hebrews 11.1, namely a conviction [of something that cannot be seen to be so], a trust.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 10:06:42 PM by Zenith » Logged
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« Reply #94 on: June 21, 2011, 11:12:24 PM »

P.S. It seems it passed too much time while I was re-editing and couldn't save it. So I had to write a new post to add this.

Quote
I have said before that some of the people who so stridently accuse Orthodox Christians "trying to earn Salvation by doing good works" are some of the most works-based minds I have come across.
Quote
Of course the response would be "but we are not trying to earn anything, we are just following Biblical commandments because of our faith." Well, as Orthodox Christians we basically say the same thing.
The problem is not having a strong devotion to follow the commandments. The problem is not understanding the Bible properly and following commandments understood wrongly in a fanatical way (which is not following the commandments).

Now, many devout protestants do act in the same way, i.e. they are driven by their 'need' to follow the commandments, as strictly as possible (or, doing good deeds, as much as they can) so that they would earn by them God's mercy (and thus, escape the fear of uncertainty where they'd go after they die). But this itself is "salvation through works". And as a defense, they say something like "Ah, but we already have faith! Now works are the focus!", but it's still the same thing: "salvation through works".

I'll try to explain better, hopefully this would make it clearer:
a) The "salvation" God offers includes, forgiveness of sins, and the forgiveness of sins makes a man feel cleansed of his sins, Heb 10.2-4.

b) While living in "salvation", the man is already "at safe", he is not in a danger of going to hell if he doesn't do "enough good deeds" or something. He is simply following God's commandments out of love (not out of fear) John 15.10, because he desires to obey God's commandments (which is different than following them out of fear of hell) and he agrees with them. The man wants to obey God because he simply wants to do so, not due to fear of punishment (consider Romans 8.15 and 2 Tim 1.7 which talk about that fear) - the Holy Spirit causes that fear not to be.

c) Faith should be the one that causes the deeds to happen, not vice-versa. You don't "make" or "strengthen" true faith by deeds. It either is (and produces fruits) or it is not. Our trust in God (seek "trust in God" in the above posts of mine to understand what I mean of it) and conviction of how God is and what He desires of us makes us desire to be the way He wants us to be. You know, if you trust God and desire to please Him, and He teaches you and asks you to care for people, and you see a man in a big troubles whom you can help, you don't do it out of "responsibility" as of something you are "being forced" to do by God, but out of desire to do "good" and to do something that God desires you to do (and you enjoy doing that thing He desires you to do). On the other hand, an atheist, for instance, does not believe/trust in God (obviously) so he is not looking to please Him, so there is no "faith" to cause him to desire to obey God's commandments. The trust in God and conviction of a man regarding how God is and what He desires from him causes him to be in a certain way.

Hopefully that helps. I'm a bit tired right now, so I hope it's clear.
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« Reply #95 on: June 22, 2011, 05:58:38 AM »

My point, as you seem to realize, was that Obsessive Compulsive following of commandments is works based. Ultimately I was trying to illustrate that many people who flippantly point fingers and say "you 're trying to earn..." need to look at themselves and their own groups' overall mentality.

Faith is a dynamic, including belief, but not limited to it.
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« Reply #96 on: June 22, 2011, 09:21:50 AM »

So, what is a human? How do you define a human? And what are the exact (specific, concrete, etc.) differences between "human nature" and "divine nature"? I have named some differences between man and God (from a) to d) ). Please do something like that yourself, regarding the human nature and the divine nature.

To be human is to be what God created us to be when He made us.

To be human is to be made in the image and likeness of God, having a spiritual soul and a physical body, exercising dominion over creation, as the crowning acheivement of God's creation, tieing all of creation together. We are meant to worship and glorify God in fellowship with Him.

He did not make us for the purpose of sin. While all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, this is not what He made us for. Also, there was a point in time before sin was associated with mankind, so to be human does not require a necessity to sin, even though all are held captive by it.

Sin actually stops us from being human. It is in Him we live and move and have our being, and as we seperate ourselves from Him who is the source of any and all life, we stop living, stop moving, and stop being.

God brought all things from non-existence into being, and sin seeks to undo that, that is bring us from being into non-existence. Sin tarnishes and disfigures the image and likeness in which we were created. Sin seperates us from God, taking away the source of our life. This results in both spiritual and physical sickness and death. Sin caused us to go from being caretakers of creation and receiveing our life from God to working the ground in the sweat of our brow for our food and receiving thorns form it in return. As we fell, creation fell through us and still waits to be renewed through our renewal in Christ at the end of time.

God is our creator, The Father who exists co-equally and eternally with His Word and Spirit. God is uncreated, infinite, and as creator, not bound by the limitations of creation. He is the one that made all things that are made and without Him there was nothing made that was made. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being.

Being removed from the source of our life and the One Who we are modeled after, we have no way of fixing what we have broken. You can not get life out of death. The only way you can get life out of death is to insert Life Himself into death, rendering death powerless and broken. God's co-eternal Word, being the express image of hte Father, took everything properly belonging to our nature onto Himself, and while never falling to temptation, took onto His person all of our weaknesses and infirmities up to and including death on the cross, so that He may restore the image in us who are modeled after Him. Being life itself and having never fallen to temptation, death (the final consequence of sin) could not hold Him and has no Power over Him. Having endured all things and been raised up from death in power and glory, He offer us participation in His life through His resurrection.

If Christ did not possess all things pertaining to the divine nature, he would have no power to save us. If Christ was not made like us in all ways except for sin enduring all of our infirmities up to and including death and then healing all things in Himself through His resurrection as a man as one of us, then we would not be able to participate in the life that He offers.
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« Reply #97 on: June 22, 2011, 02:52:10 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We've discussed it before, but I think its appropriate to refresh, there is simply an ontological difference between the Orthodox and Protestant concepts of Salvation, and in truth, they are quite irreconcilable.

In Protestantism Salvation is a kind of adverb, almost a description of a potential state of being in which God saves us from our Sins.  But this is a rather shallow interpretation of Sin and Salvation, as it failed to explain why Sin continues to sting us after we receive Salvation? Basically, by this ontology, Protestant salvation is merely temporal, vapid, transitive, and subject to the illusory stability of human free-will and the power of intention.  How could God's salvation be so almost trivial?

Orthodox ontology of Salvation is quite difference, it is not a a state of being, it is a process of becoming.  We do not loose the Salvation we have gained when we fall short and Sin again, rather that Salvation continues with us to repair the continual damages on the human mind and heart caused by the wages of Sin.  Sin will continue, but as Apostle Paul explains, "where Sin abounds, Grace super-exceeds."

In Orthodox Sin is the result of our fragmented and fractured condition caused by the almost physical separation from our thinking minds and our soulful hearts.  The heart is the still place where we experience God, indeed where we experience all of reality.  The mind is the place of our imaginations where we store, process, analyze, remember, forget, fantasize, reject, or experience the thoughts to describe the experiences of our hearts.  But since the Fall this is a Gulf between the two, and so our fractured and flawed minds are running the show of our lives.  However the mind does not have enough strength of character to run our lives as complicated as they are, rather we need our hearts to better ourselves.  So how can we overcome this gulf? Through the act of Salvation as we receive it in the Divine Mysteries, starting at Baptism and Chrismation, continuing in our lives through Reconciliation and Holy Communion, perhaps in getting Married, always under the help of our Ordained Clergy, and if we fall into a deep enough illness, through Unction.  

These are Orthodox Salvation and it is radically different from the Protestant both in conception and in action.  Protestants sort of have to "earn" or "work" for Salvation and essentially when they fall into Sin and loose Salvation (from their perspectives that is, in Orthodox we never loose anything eternal) it is because of a lack of effort on their individual part.  Sin is not necessarily the result of a lack of determined effort of our free-will, rather it is almost an instinctive or reflex action of the fractured state of our minds and hearts.  So we obtain Salvation by allowing God, through the Divine Mysteries and prayerful effort, to heal the separation and to reconnect our minds and hearts, that we might find Him where He always was, ever-present in our midst.  

Salvation in Orthodox as has been explained before, is a healing process.  It is continuous as long as we live in these fractured earthly bodies, and as long as we are brought into Sin by our human condition, God will grant us Salvation.  Yes, true, we have to respond, accept, and embrace this gift of Salvation, but it is NEVER a result of our intention, effort, or free-will, rather its always in the operative Grace of God.


In Protestantism, Salvation is a state of being which really can never be obtained in actuality because Sin continues and makes it void, where as in Orthodox Salvation is a becoming, and like climbing up steep steps, you never lose ground covered simply because the strenuousness of the climb.  Sin is the climbing of the steps, more like the feeling of heaviness and weight which slows us down as we climb, but Salvation in God is the Grace to climb each step, step by step, day by day, steadily ascending Jacob's Latter towards Apotheosis.

Stay Blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #98 on: July 17, 2011, 10:08:29 PM »

I'll start this post with a very important thing, that you might have observed already:
We understand each other as a greek man talking to a chinese man.
You know, the words I say and I use have a totally different meaning to you than they have to me.
And perhaps the same happens vice-versa (an exception is when I don't understand terms you use, at all).

Zenith, please forgive me for not getting back sooner.  I've been quite busy lately, and I fear because of that I must bow out of the discussion at this point.

I quoted the above because in large part I believe it to be true.  It is an unfortunate fact with Orthodoxy that we define terms differently from most Western Christians, and specifically most Protestants.  This was a stumbling block for me on my way into the Church -- I was Lutheran, and my biggest concern was I didn't believe the Scriptures teach that you can earn your own salvation.  I was fortunate to have some very good friends explain Orthodox soteriology to me such that I was able to understand we don't teach that at all.  We definitely teach a different "road" if you will, but at the end of that road we are not all that far removed from Lutherans at least.  We don't believe we save ourselves by our good works.  After everything that has been said here, I'm not sure I'm capable of making that point any more clearly than I already have, so I'm going to leave it to the rest.  I enjoyed the discussion.
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« Reply #99 on: July 18, 2011, 06:34:46 AM »

I'll start this post with a very important thing, that you might have observed already:
We understand each other as a greek man talking to a chinese man.
You know, the words I say and I use have a totally different meaning to you than they have to me.
And perhaps the same happens vice-versa (an exception is when I don't understand terms you use, at all).

Zenith, please forgive me for not getting back sooner.  I've been quite busy lately, and I fear because of that I must bow out of the discussion at this point.

I quoted the above because in large part I believe it to be true.  It is an unfortunate fact with Orthodoxy that we define terms differently from most Western Christians, and specifically most Protestants.  This was a stumbling block for me on my way into the Church -- I was Lutheran, and my biggest concern was I didn't believe the Scriptures teach that you can earn your own salvation.  I was fortunate to have some very good friends explain Orthodox soteriology to me such that I was able to understand we don't teach that at all.  We definitely teach a different "road" if you will, but at the end of that road we are not all that far removed from Lutherans at least.  We don't believe we save ourselves by our good works.  After everything that has been said here, I'm not sure I'm capable of making that point any more clearly than I already have, so I'm going to leave it to the rest.  I enjoyed the discussion.

     David,

     I have found that some Protestants (I am not necessarily referring to Zenith, here) don't want to hear it. They are only too happy to believe that Orthodox Christians are guilty of the falsehoods they accuse us of, and have no ears to hear when we explain these points.
     Maybe I am to easy to convince, nut to me one thing that seemed to negate these accusations was the fact that many Protestant converts were were devout Protestants indeed. Therefore they had to be sure that the Church did not teach the truly un-Biblical doctrine of "earning by good works". Had those Protestants initial concerns been justified, we would have run as quickly as we came. Happily I found, like many of my converts be fore me, that this accusation is nothing but error at best and false witness at worst.
     In Christ,
     Ian
   
     P.S. As David said, I am going to be very busy for the next two weeks, and probably will not have time to to engage. However I will try according to the time and ability God gives me.
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« Reply #100 on: July 18, 2011, 08:11:56 AM »

I'll start this post with a very important thing, that you might have observed already:
We understand each other as a greek man talking to a chinese man.
You know, the words I say and I use have a totally different meaning to you than they have to me.
And perhaps the same happens vice-versa (an exception is when I don't understand terms you use, at all).

Zenith, please forgive me for not getting back sooner.  I've been quite busy lately, and I fear because of that I must bow out of the discussion at this point.

I quoted the above because in large part I believe it to be true.  It is an unfortunate fact with Orthodoxy that we define terms differently from most Western Christians, and specifically most Protestants.  This was a stumbling block for me on my way into the Church -- I was Lutheran, and my biggest concern was I didn't believe the Scriptures teach that you can earn your own salvation.  I was fortunate to have some very good friends explain Orthodox soteriology to me such that I was able to understand we don't teach that at all.  We definitely teach a different "road" if you will, but at the end of that road we are not all that far removed from Lutherans at least.  We don't believe we save ourselves by our good works.  After everything that has been said here, I'm not sure I'm capable of making that point any more clearly than I already have, so I'm going to leave it to the rest.  I enjoyed the discussion.

     David,

     I have found that some Protestants (I am not necessarily referring to Zenith, here) don't want to hear it. They are only too happy to believe that Orthodox Christians are guilty of the falsehoods they accuse us of, and have no ears to hear when we explain these points.
     Maybe I am to easy to convince, nut to me one thing that seemed to negate these accusations was the fact that many Protestant converts were were devout Protestants indeed. Therefore they had to be sure that the Church did not teach the truly un-Biblical doctrine of "earning by good works". Had those Protestants initial concerns been justified, we would have run as quickly as we came. Happily I found, like many of my converts be fore me, that this accusation is nothing but error at best and false witness at worst.
     In Christ,
     Ian
   
     P.S. As David said, I am going to be very busy for the next two weeks, and probably will not have time to to engage. However I will try according to the time and ability God gives me.

That was no small comfort to me as well.  In the circles I run in, those who convert to Orthodoxy typically get the "he abandoned the Gospel" spiel.  For us, I knew some of the men who converted, most of them Lutheran Pastors.  In some cases, I could see some romantic tendencies toward the East so that argument was a tad more convincing, but in others, we had solid Lutherans who were just sick and tired of novelty and watered down Protestantism.  And in those latter cases, it was pretty easy for me to look at them and say "I just find it hard to believe that they 'abandoned the Gospel' in order to embrace a life of works-righteousness and self-salvation so they could have a pretty liturgy.'"  I combined that with our own observation, and pretty soon I realized it fell to semantics.  We say things that Lutherans wouldn't say, but we mean by them very different things than Lutherans are afraid of.  "Free will" for example -- in Orthodoxy our "free" will is imprisoned by sin, weakened by our corrupted nature such that we can want to do good but are utterly incapable of actually doing good -- that doesn't sound quite as "free" as one would have thought, and in fact we believe that even with "free will" we require grace in order to choose and do the good.  Or, speaking of which, grace -- in Orthodoxy grace is not the unmerited favor of God, but rather the operation of God.  Grace is not something God gives in His disposition, but a way God interacts with my person.  Or "salvation" -- most Lutherans view "salvation" as equivalent to "justification" (as opposed to "sanctification").  Orthodox view salvation as encompassing justification, sanctification, glorification, etc. without dividing it all up so finely. 

So if an Orthodox were to say to me "we are saved by grace when we use our free will to believe the Gospel and do good works" (we would never say it that way, but go with me here), what I would have heard as a Lutheran would horrify me, but what the Orthodox means is quite different.  The best way to know what we believe is come to our liturgy.  When I was Lutheran, I heard that as bait and switch -- if they can just get me to their beautiful liturgy, I'll fall in love with it and forget all about "the Gospel."  Because that's what I had been told.  But now, having been Orthodox quite a while de facto (and over 6 months officially), I look back and realize we thought the Eastern chant in the liturgy was weird, and we were put off by "Most Holy Theotokos, save us," etc.  There's no bait and switch -- if anything, the Orthodox don't go to any real pains to hide what they believe.  What you see is what you get, like it or not.  But it is true that you cannot know Orthodoxy from reading a book about it.  You have to go observe how the Christian life is lived out in the piety of the parishioners and the liturgy of the Church and the prayers of the Church.  It really is that simple.
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« Reply #101 on: July 18, 2011, 03:43:36 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I'll start this post with a very important thing, that you might have observed already:
We understand each other as a greek man talking to a chinese man.
You know, the words I say and I use have a totally different meaning to you than they have to me.
And perhaps the same happens vice-versa (an exception is when I don't understand terms you use, at all).

Zenith, please forgive me for not getting back sooner.  I've been quite busy lately, and I fear because of that I must bow out of the discussion at this point.

I quoted the above because in large part I believe it to be true.  It is an unfortunate fact with Orthodoxy that we define terms differently from most Western Christians, and specifically most Protestants.  This was a stumbling block for me on my way into the Church -- I was Lutheran, and my biggest concern was I didn't believe the Scriptures teach that you can earn your own salvation.  I was fortunate to have some very good friends explain Orthodox soteriology to me such that I was able to understand we don't teach that at all.  We definitely teach a different "road" if you will, but at the end of that road we are not all that far removed from Lutherans at least.  We don't believe we save ourselves by our good works.  After everything that has been said here, I'm not sure I'm capable of making that point any more clearly than I already have, so I'm going to leave it to the rest.  I enjoyed the discussion.

     David,

     I have found that some Protestants (I am not necessarily referring to Zenith, here) don't want to hear it. They are only too happy to believe that Orthodox Christians are guilty of the falsehoods they accuse us of, and have no ears to hear when we explain these points.
     Maybe I am to easy to convince, nut to me one thing that seemed to negate these accusations was the fact that many Protestant converts were were devout Protestants indeed. Therefore they had to be sure that the Church did not teach the truly un-Biblical doctrine of "earning by good works". Had those Protestants initial concerns been justified, we would have run as quickly as we came. Happily I found, like many of my converts be fore me, that this accusation is nothing but error at best and false witness at worst.
     In Christ,
     Ian
   
     P.S. As David said, I am going to be very busy for the next two weeks, and probably will not have time to to engage. However I will try according to the time and ability God gives me.

That was no small comfort to me as well.  In the circles I run in, those who convert to Orthodoxy typically get the "he abandoned the Gospel" spiel.  For us, I knew some of the men who converted, most of them Lutheran Pastors.  In some cases, I could see some romantic tendencies toward the East so that argument was a tad more convincing, but in others, we had solid Lutherans who were just sick and tired of novelty and watered down Protestantism.  And in those latter cases, it was pretty easy for me to look at them and say "I just find it hard to believe that they 'abandoned the Gospel' in order to embrace a life of works-righteousness and self-salvation so they could have a pretty liturgy.'"  I combined that with our own observation, and pretty soon I realized it fell to semantics.  We say things that Lutherans wouldn't say, but we mean by them very different things than Lutherans are afraid of.  "Free will" for example -- in Orthodoxy our "free" will is imprisoned by sin, weakened by our corrupted nature such that we can want to do good but are utterly incapable of actually doing good -- that doesn't sound quite as "free" as one would have thought, and in fact we believe that even with "free will" we require grace in order to choose and do the good.  Or, speaking of which, grace -- in Orthodoxy grace is not the unmerited favor of God, but rather the operation of God.  Grace is not something God gives in His disposition, but a way God interacts with my person.  Or "salvation" -- most Lutherans view "salvation" as equivalent to "justification" (as opposed to "sanctification").  Orthodox view salvation as encompassing justification, sanctification, glorification, etc. without dividing it all up so finely. 

So if an Orthodox were to say to me "we are saved by grace when we use our free will to believe the Gospel and do good works" (we would never say it that way, but go with me here), what I would have heard as a Lutheran would horrify me, but what the Orthodox means is quite different.  The best way to know what we believe is come to our liturgy.  When I was Lutheran, I heard that as bait and switch -- if they can just get me to their beautiful liturgy, I'll fall in love with it and forget all about "the Gospel."  Because that's what I had been told.  But now, having been Orthodox quite a while de facto (and over 6 months officially), I look back and realize we thought the Eastern chant in the liturgy was weird, and we were put off by "Most Holy Theotokos, save us," etc.  There's no bait and switch -- if anything, the Orthodox don't go to any real pains to hide what they believe.  What you see is what you get, like it or not.  But it is true that you cannot know Orthodoxy from reading a book about it.  You have to go observe how the Christian life is lived out in the piety of the parishioners and the liturgy of the Church and the prayers of the Church.  It really is that simple.



stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #102 on: July 19, 2011, 12:57:07 AM »

My point, as you seem to realize, was that Obsessive Compulsive following of commandments is works based. Ultimately I was trying to illustrate that many people who flippantly point fingers and say "you 're trying to earn..." need to look at themselves and their own groups' overall mentality.

You're right with this one. The fact is that many (if not most) protestants do believe in a "salvation by works" theory. The mentality is like this:
"salvation by faith" BUT "faith without deeds is dead" AND "we already have faith" => "we have to obsessively focus on deeds". But they still call it "salvation by faith".

The other extreme is "we need only to believe" (a superficial belief) where people don't strive to be good, but any evil thing(sin) they do (intentionally or unintentionally), they say "God forgives. (because He is good and kind)." And emphasize a very kind God, who is not just, nor fair, and so they state that themselves do not deserve anything, trusting that God, in His utmost love, does everything for them (so they afford not to care about anything and be as irresponsible as they can). And I've heard in a church the people singing how saints and special they are, but not because anything that they did or something, but only because God elected them (them specifically) before the foundation of the world, while many of them are arrogant, some even drunkards, adulterers, etc. And they enjoy a lot the idea of a God who has utmost kindness and love and who simply forgives them for everything they do, and who gives them all they wish.



My personal view on this issue is as follows:
God asked of people to be good and do good things and not to do evil all the time - and this you can see from Genesis up to Revelation (God rebukes people because of their evil deeds, asks them to do good deeds, etc.). Even Jesus Christ says that God will judge people according to their own deeds (Paul also says that in Romans, etc.). The truth is that God does ask things of people and rewards them according to how and what they did - and even in the New Testament you can find more demands for deeds (how to behave, what to do, etc.) than demands for faith. And also the Bible talks about a man, that he must be worthy for the kingdom of heaven (e.g. 2 Thessalonians 1.5 - I've also brought other verses in earlier times).

A great problem is the understanding of the word "salvation" around all these things revolve. I understand "salvation", in a few words, as a state that beings with the receiving of the Holy Spirit and which gives an assurance of the eternal life. And this salvation is not received (i.e. you do not enter this state of salvation by) doing specific deeds, but by faith (the conviction of the existence of God and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the trust in Him). And this faith required for entering salvation is not an easy believism (e.g. grandma told me, I trust my grandma=> God exists) or auto-suggestion. Instead, this faith is given by God (the drawing of John 6.44; we also have Acts 13.48, etc.). But God does not give this faith randomly to people (i.e. to elect some to inherit the eternal life and others to suffer in hell, based on no judgment, nothing, just random - this would have been injustice and an utmost lack of love/kindness of God). And this judgment on whom to receive the faith in and salvation of God is based, as I understand, on the 'heart' of man - it's not the deeds themselves that a man did or does (for which many of them might have been due to lack of knowledge or indoctrination, others may be realized and regretted now), but the interest/desire of the man to do good and to keep himself from doing evil.

Quote
Faith is a dynamic, including belief, but not limited to it.
Then I'd enjoy if you give me a definition of "faith" because "faith is a dynamic" sounds to me like "trust is a thing that moves".

Quote from: HabteSelassie
We've discussed it before, but I think its appropriate to refresh, there is simply an ontological difference between the Orthodox and Protestant concepts of Salvation, and in truth, they are quite irreconcilable.

In Protestantism Salvation is a kind of adverb, almost a description of a potential state of being in which God saves us from our Sins.  But this is a rather shallow interpretation of Sin and Salvation, as it failed to explain why Sin continues to sting us after we receive Salvation? Basically, by this ontology, Protestant salvation is merely temporal, vapid, transitive, and subject to the illusory stability of human free-will and the power of intention.  How could God's salvation be so almost trivial?

I didn't study many protestant religions to see how many believe what. Second off, I don't know what protestant religion is more close to my views, including in the salvation issue (and as I am a heretical christian, I do not actually care which, if any). So, here, I will not compare the orthodox view on salvation with the protestant views, but instead I'll compare the orthodox view on salvation with my own view of salvation.

ok, and here is my answers to your statements:
Romans 7.25-8.1 clearly says that people are not saved from their sins (i.e. people to be turned by a hocus-pocus into perfect beings). Instead, in this state of salvation he is progressing, as time passes, into becoming a better person, with more qualities and less flaws and in leaving sins he used to do (e.g. finally ending it with getting drunk, fornicating, and other great sins) though he would never be able to leave all the 'lesser' sins (e.g. not caring when he should have, lying, making somebody feel bad, etc. which inevitably happen no matter how much you strive not to do them, and many of them just slip there and you don't even notice that you did them).

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Orthodox ontology of Salvation is quite difference, it is not a a state of being, it is a process of becoming.  We do not loose the Salvation we have gained when we fall short and Sin again, rather that Salvation continues with us to repair the continual damages on the human mind and heart caused by the wages of Sin.  Sin will continue, but as Apostle Paul explains, "where Sin abounds, Grace super-exceeds."

Nonetheless, sin must be seen as it is: evil. And according to the progression I specified, one who finally 'conquers' the sin of fornication and later gets married and commits adultery (when he did not fall to a too great temptation, but instead could have easily resisted temptation) then that's an intentional sin, an intentional defiance of God (he did not fall to a temptation that was too great for him), a rebellion against God, sin for which there is no forgiveness (Hebr 10.26-29). And I also believe that this "repair" which you said can happen only if the man wants to overcome those evil things because he wants to be as God wants him to be like.

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God will grant us Salvation.  Yes, true, we have to respond, accept, and embrace this gift of Salvation, but it is NEVER a result of our intention, effort, or free-will, rather its always in the operative Grace of God.
This sounds like: "You need to do X, but it is not you who does X, because it is actually God's only decree that makes it happen", in other words, self-contradictory. You can't be asked to do something that God Himself does.

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In Protestantism, Salvation is a state of being which really can never be obtained in actuality because Sin continues and makes it void, where as in Orthodox Salvation is a becoming, and like climbing up steep steps, you never lose ground covered simply because the strenuousness of the climb.  Sin is the climbing of the steps, more like the feeling of heaviness and weight which slows us down as we climb, but Salvation in God is the Grace to climb each step, step by step, day by day, steadily ascending Jacob's Latter towards Apotheosis.

I hope you see this progress in real life (i.e. becoming a better person as time goes on). Because if it is only a theory, then it means nothing.



Quote from: David Garner
Zenith, please forgive me for not getting back sooner.  I've been quite busy lately, and I fear because of that I must bow out of the discussion at this point.
Don't worry, I'm also very busy. I might miss a few months or more from time to time. But I'm not going to delete the account on this forum, so it's ok (if I receive a new message after 12 months I can reply to it, and I myself may have such pauses).

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I quoted the above because in large part I believe it to be true.  It is an unfortunate fact with Orthodoxy that we define terms differently from most Western Christians, and specifically most Protestants.
Unfortunately, this happens mostly, and not only in orthdodox-protestant discussions. I myself have different views from many (or most) protestants. Word X means to a person one thing, to other person something else, etc. so the communication is many times hard. But I do believe that there are some reasons for this (like, misunderstanding or twisting the meanings of the words; or one taking something literal while other metaphorical; or one having an entire philosophy, born 1000+ years ago, in which somebody of the past had put inventions from his own mind, etc.)



Quote from: sprtslvr1973
Therefore they had to be sure that the Church did not teach the truly un-Biblical doctrine of "earning by good works".
Nonetheless, I do believe that the bible teaches man's worthiness for the kingdom of heaven (though, as I said, it's not about specific good deeds that must be done or specific evil deeds that must not be done). And I believe that It is only fair, if the thing that makes one go to heaven and other to go to hell, is man's worthiness, rather than a random baseless choice of God.



Quote from: David Garner
"Free will" for example -- in Orthodoxy our "free" will is imprisoned by sin, weakened by our corrupted nature such that we can want to do good but are utterly incapable of actually doing good -- that doesn't sound quite as "free" as one would have thought
This thing is found in Romans 7.14-24, so I agree with you here.

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and in fact we believe that even with "free will" we require grace in order to choose and do the good.
depends on what exactly you mean here.

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Or, speaking of which, grace -- in Orthodoxy grace is not the unmerited favor of God, but rather the operation of God.  Grace is not something God gives in His disposition, but a way God interacts with my person.
Is there a way we can check which meaning is correct and which is wrong? (like a koine greek lexicon or something). You know, we can't just be happy saying "cow" means to you "horse" while to me it means "airplane". It's only that. But you can interpret things the way you want!
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