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Author Topic: Surprised by Damnation?  (Read 3159 times) Average Rating: 0
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Volnutt
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« on: June 07, 2011, 05:47:27 PM »

As Methodist Ben Witherington III puts it,

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The New Testament suggests that one is not eternally secure until one is securely in eternity. Short of that, there is the possibility of apostasy or rebellion against God by one who has believed in Christ. Apostasy, however, is not to be confused with the notion of accidentally or unconsciously "falling away." Apostasy is a conscious, wilful rebellion against God ... Unless one commits such an act of apostasy or rebellion, one need not worry about one's salvation, for God has a firm grip on the believer.

I can deal with this kind of lack of security and it seems like some Orthodox, at least, do acknowledge a form of "assurance that I am being saved." But it seems like the Orthodox interpretation of Matthew 7 indicates that one can go their whole life thinking they are in the Grace of God, but finally arriving at the Judgment and being shocked at being turned away. That no matter how much one desires God and repents in this life, one can still be "not quite cooperating enough" and still be ultimately damned? Is this correct?
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2011, 07:03:04 PM »

I would say that OF COURSE someone can think throughout their whole life they will see heaven when they die, only to see hell.  Haven't you ever seen some of the people who go around screaming about how sinful everyone else is and how they are going to hell?  Or people who, like the Pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, are full of hate while at the same time being absolutely certain beyond all shadow of a doubt that they are saved?  Just being certain of salvation in no way means you are going to be saved, just as being certain of being hired by that company you just had an interview with in no way means you are getting hired.  Some people will have done everything perfectly in the interview and on the application and might meet all the requirements, yet be uncertain that they are getting the job, because they are humble.  One the other hand, someone might not even have filled out the entire application, might have written in the one color they expressly said not to write in, and might have dropped out of school in the sixth grade but still decided to apply for Chief of Police of Los Angeles, and have thrown up on the interviewer, spilled his coffee on the ivory rug, and knoced his fancy Apple laptop over the desk and broken it - yet have thought he was a lock for the job.  Just because we are certain we've done good, doesn't mean we have.

Note: I am not declaing the WBC Pastor to be damned, I am merely suggesting that he is not living exactly what might be called a saintly life.
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2011, 07:51:48 PM »

I think this is particularly troublesome for Protestants, who generally seem to relegate salvation to a status, or declaration of "not guilty" before the courts of Heaven, the main proof of which is "correct belief," as opposed to something that genuinely involves the whole person, and is an actual ontological reality.

The former takes a line of reasoning like this: "Boy, I sure hope when death comes knocking that I'm stilling mentally agreeing with the factual truths of the Christian faith, namely that as long as I believe in Jesus (whatever that happens to mean) that I have been declared not guilty and thus have no reason to fear the penalty of a guilty status." It's almost as if it's a race against time, where the goal is to "believe" until you die, before the buzzer goes off on your life, and God unscrews your head and looks deep into your brain to make sure you really believed Jesus to be the Way, Truth and Life.

The latter, however, (what one might call the Orthodox understanding, or the truly Apostolic understanding) is a synergistic relationship between the human creature and God, wherein we physically and spiritually participate in God's energies (grace), through the Sacraments (primarily the Eucharist), actually reaping the tangible results of that saving experience. And in this inter-relationship, we are both physically and spiritually redeemed from death, to the point where our Saint's actual bodies often times do not experience corruption, and smell of myrrh. Something is genuinely happening, but it cannot happen unless we enter into that participatory reality.

So, though we can never really be "certain" or "sure" of where we'll end up (because there's always the chance that we'll turn away from God, in the end), those who "partake of the divine nature," which produces tangible results in that we are freed from "the passions" and take on the character and likeness of Christ Himself, in our entirety, body, soul and spirit, are the ones who have the promise of eternal life.

I typed this out really fast, as I'm short on time, and I may have mis-worded some things, so let me know if this doesn't make sense, or sounds incorrect, etc. etc. Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2011, 08:15:42 PM »

I'm with James on this.

One can desire an idol and call it "God", crying tears of repentance before it for all the wrong sins.

Many will say unto him "Lord, Lord" and be turned away.
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2011, 08:17:04 PM »

I just laughed out loud because right when I was about to post saying that Sleeper's post was better than mine, someone came along and agreed with me.

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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2011, 08:20:14 PM »

I just laughed out loud because right when I was about to post saying that Sleeper's post was better than mine, someone came along and agreed with me.

I must've had the thread open while Sleeper was posting, because I would otherwise have also commented on how insightful his post is.
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2011, 08:51:58 PM »

I laughed because I thought this might be a follow-up to Fr. James Bernstein's Surprised by Christ.

Many are probably "surprised by damnation."
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 09:18:56 PM »

I wrote a couple of emails to Patrick Madrid the Roman Catholic Apologist who runs the site "Surprised by the Truth"

I thought I'd be snarky and titled my emails to him "Surprised by the "Orthodox"
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« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2011, 01:53:57 AM »

I think this is particularly troublesome for Protestants, who generally seem to relegate salvation to a status, or declaration of "not guilty" before the courts of Heaven, the main proof of which is "correct belief," as opposed to something that genuinely involves the whole person, and is an actual ontological reality.

The former takes a line of reasoning like this: "Boy, I sure hope when death comes knocking that I'm stilling mentally agreeing with the factual truths of the Christian faith, namely that as long as I believe in Jesus (whatever that happens to mean) that I have been declared not guilty and thus have no reason to fear the penalty of a guilty status." It's almost as if it's a race against time, where the goal is to "believe" until you die, before the buzzer goes off on your life, and God unscrews your head and looks deep into your brain to make sure you really believed Jesus to be the Way, Truth and Life.

The latter, however, (what one might call the Orthodox understanding, or the truly Apostolic understanding) is a synergistic relationship between the human creature and God, wherein we physically and spiritually participate in God's energies (grace), through the Sacraments (primarily the Eucharist), actually reaping the tangible results of that saving experience. And in this inter-relationship, we are both physically and spiritually redeemed from death, to the point where our Saint's actual bodies often times do not experience corruption, and smell of myrrh. Something is genuinely happening, but it cannot happen unless we enter into that participatory reality.

So, though we can never really be "certain" or "sure" of where we'll end up (because there's always the chance that we'll turn away from God, in the end), those who "partake of the divine nature," which produces tangible results in that we are freed from "the passions" and take on the character and likeness of Christ Himself, in our entirety, body, soul and spirit, are the ones who have the promise of eternal life.

I typed this out really fast, as I'm short on time, and I may have mis-worded some things, so let me know if this doesn't make sense, or sounds incorrect, etc. etc. Smiley
Sorry, I should have been more specific in my OP as I didn't necessarily mean the Non-Orthodox. When I said "That no matter how much one desires God and repents in this life, one can still be "not quite cooperating enough" and still be ultimately damned?" I was talking specifically about what you describe as the Orthodox way.

As an Arminian, I have an inkling that we believe essentially the same things about salvation just with different emphases ("am saved, am being saved, will be saved"). I believe though that in the long run the only real way to truly "lose one's salvation" (imperfect term that that is for both of us) is to totally and utterly "spit" on the Cross, just completely give up and not even seek repentance anymore.

Otherwise it seems like Conditional Security theologies really do succumb to the Calvinist charge of being salvation by works since all God needs to on the last day is check his ledger and say, "Let's see... you repented of this, this, this,... oops! looks like you cursed  a couple of minutes before death and forgot to repent of that one. Too bad, my child! You were thiiiis close! Pull the "Hell" lever, Michael. Next!"
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« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2011, 02:41:34 AM »

I don't know that I would say one would have to intentionally turn your back on the cross to stop being considered an Orthodox Christian, and in that sense "lose" a certain level of assurance one has as a member of the Body.  It wasn't hate against Christ that was warned about in Revelations, it was lukewarmness.  It was not caring about the Cross.  That to me is much more sinister a trick of the Devil than turning someone into a rabid atheist.  When you cease to come to Church regularly (without just cause), when you cease confession of your sins, when you cease communion, when you stop partaking of the Mysteries of the Church, I think you have ceased to be a member of the Body.  You have become like a limb paralyzed by a stroke, one no longer functional.  But the real sinister aspect of this trickery of the Devil, is that one frequently thinks you are doing alright because you aren't the guy who spits on the Cross, you're just not the guy who bears it. 

If anyone wants to correct me, please do so, I am in no way trying to teach Church doctrine here, I have no idea if I am on the mark or way off.
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« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2011, 09:35:07 AM »

I've been wondering about this too. There's alot of communication going back and forth on the forum concerning salvation. As I am really delving deep into learning more, that is the question that burns most to me. I realize that the "idea" of salvation from a Baptist standpoint to an Orthodox one is wildly different.
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2011, 02:08:58 PM »

I don't know that I would say one would have to intentionally turn your back on the cross to stop being considered an Orthodox Christian, and in that sense "lose" a certain level of assurance one has as a member of the Body.  It wasn't hate against Christ that was warned about in Revelations, it was lukewarmness.  It was not caring about the Cross.  That to me is much more sinister a trick of the Devil than turning someone into a rabid atheist.  When you cease to come to Church regularly (without just cause), when you cease confession of your sins, when you cease communion, when you stop partaking of the Mysteries of the Church, I think you have ceased to be a member of the Body.  You have become like a limb paralyzed by a stroke, one no longer functional.  But the real sinister aspect of this trickery of the Devil, is that one frequently thinks you are doing alright because you aren't the guy who spits on the Cross, you're just not the guy who bears it. 

If anyone wants to correct me, please do so, I am in no way trying to teach Church doctrine here, I have no idea if I am on the mark or way off.
Yes, that's true. Lukewarmness is also a killer.
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« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2011, 07:11:02 PM »

I think part of the reason this is such a big deal to is concerning the (majority?) Orthodox teaching that Hell is just the Presence of God as experienced by those who hate Him. If this is the case, how can someone who really desires God (not the lukewarm) enter punishment even if they have a few outstanding black marks?
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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2011, 09:31:29 PM »

I think part of the reason this is such a big deal to is concerning the (majority?) Orthodox teaching that Hell is just the Presence of God as experienced by those who hate Him. If this is the case, how can someone who really desires God (not the lukewarm) enter punishment even if they have a few outstanding black marks?

Do you know what our view of repentance is? Especially confession of ones sins post water Baptism? Confessing your sins in front of another person and in view of others can be embarrassing and humiliating at first, I know it was for me. But we believe something about repentance that covers this issue.

One doesn't have any black marks at water Baptism. Nor does one have black marks in repentance post water Baptism.

Salvation to us is union with Christ. I know in the protestant world Salvation tends to be more psychological in nature. Yes, we have a psychological aspect as well, but that has more to do with our asceticism........ The original view of salvation had everything to do with the destruction of sin, death and defeat of the devil. It also had everything to do with restored fellowship/communion with God and the raising of our mortal nature to one of immortality and that by the Grace of God. There is more that I'm leaving out. It really has something to do with the whole entire universe, us just being the first fruits of it all.

I know that some tend to speculate if there is organic life on other planets, and if so how can Salvation happen there? To me it doesn't really matter, for with the Incarnation, Jesus partook of us and we are made up of everything in the Universe, therefore God being Incarnate on Planet Earth can renew the whole entire universe. And so it really doesn't matter what's on other planets.
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2011, 10:22:12 PM »

I think part of the reason this is such a big deal to is concerning the (majority?) Orthodox teaching that Hell is just the Presence of God as experienced by those who hate Him. If this is the case, how can someone who really desires God (not the lukewarm) enter punishment even if they have a few outstanding black marks?

I think you misunderstand "hate."  Hate means loving yourself a little more than someone else.  What do you mean by "desires God"?  Synergeia must be there.   Metanoia, a turning of the nous towards and over to God and giving Him the reins must be there. 
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« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2011, 10:29:41 PM »

Quote
I think you misunderstand "hate."  Hate means loving yourself a little more than someone else.  What do you mean by "desires God"?  Synergeia must be there.   Metanoia, a turning of the nous towards and over to God and giving Him the reins must be there. 
Amen!
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« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2011, 10:45:56 PM »

I think part of the reason this is such a big deal to is concerning the (majority?) Orthodox teaching that Hell is just the Presence of God as experienced by those who hate Him. If this is the case, how can someone who really desires God (not the lukewarm) enter punishment even if they have a few outstanding black marks?

I think you misunderstand "hate."  Hate means loving yourself a little more than someone else.  What do you mean by "desires God"?  Synergeia must be there.   Metanoia, a turning of the nous towards and over to God and giving Him the reins must be there.  
By desiring God, I mean actually wanting to please Him, trying to repent of your sins and live the Orthodox life.

So if it's a just "a little more," than who can be saved? Even the greatest Christian could always do a "little more" to crucify the passions, unless you're suggesting only those who are perfect at the moment of death will be saved.
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« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2011, 10:52:58 PM »

I think part of the reason this is such a big deal to is concerning the (majority?) Orthodox teaching that Hell is just the Presence of God as experienced by those who hate Him. If this is the case, how can someone who really desires God (not the lukewarm) enter punishment even if they have a few outstanding black marks?

Do you know what our view of repentance is? Especially confession of ones sins post water Baptism? Confessing your sins in front of another person and in view of others can be embarrassing and humiliating at first, I know it was for me. But we believe something about repentance that covers this issue.

One doesn't have any black marks at water Baptism. Nor does one have black marks in repentance post water Baptism.

Salvation to us is union with Christ. I know in the protestant world Salvation tends to be more psychological in nature. Yes, we have a psychological aspect as well, but that has more to do with our asceticism........ The original view of salvation had everything to do with the destruction of sin, death and defeat of the devil. It also had everything to do with restored fellowship/communion with God and the raising of our mortal nature to one of immortality and that by the Grace of God. There is more that I'm leaving out. It really has something to do with the whole entire universe, us just being the first fruits of it all.

I know that some tend to speculate if there is organic life on other planets, and if so how can Salvation happen there? To me it doesn't really matter, for with the Incarnation, Jesus partook of us and we are made up of everything in the Universe, therefore God being Incarnate on Planet Earth can renew the whole entire universe. And so it really doesn't matter what's on other planets.
You're right, I suppose "black marks" was a bad term, maybe "areas in which one has not quite grown fast enough." I know that Confession covers sins we did not know we committed and the Eucharist covers them yet again, but what over someone who doesn't have access to these things, especially if there no priest to give Extreme Unction?

This is the same problem that as a Protestant drives me toward antinomianism. How much sanctification is "enough?" It's maddening.
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« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2011, 01:20:57 AM »

I think part of the reason this is such a big deal to is concerning the (majority?) Orthodox teaching that Hell is just the Presence of God as experienced by those who hate Him. If this is the case, how can someone who really desires God (not the lukewarm) enter punishment even if they have a few outstanding black marks?

Do you know what our view of repentance is? Especially confession of ones sins post water Baptism? Confessing your sins in front of another person and in view of others can be embarrassing and humiliating at first, I know it was for me. But we believe something about repentance that covers this issue.

One doesn't have any black marks at water Baptism. Nor does one have black marks in repentance post water Baptism.

Salvation to us is union with Christ. I know in the protestant world Salvation tends to be more psychological in nature. Yes, we have a psychological aspect as well, but that has more to do with our asceticism........ The original view of salvation had everything to do with the destruction of sin, death and defeat of the devil. It also had everything to do with restored fellowship/communion with God and the raising of our mortal nature to one of immortality and that by the Grace of God. There is more that I'm leaving out. It really has something to do with the whole entire universe, us just being the first fruits of it all.

I know that some tend to speculate if there is organic life on other planets, and if so how can Salvation happen there? To me it doesn't really matter, for with the Incarnation, Jesus partook of us and we are made up of everything in the Universe, therefore God being Incarnate on Planet Earth can renew the whole entire universe. And so it really doesn't matter what's on other planets.
You're right, I suppose "black marks" was a bad term, maybe "areas in which one has not quite grown fast enough." I know that Confession covers sins we did not know we committed and the Eucharist covers them yet again, but what over someone who doesn't have access to these things, especially if there no priest to give Extreme Unction?

This is the same problem that as a Protestant drives me toward antinomianism. How much sanctification is "enough?" It's maddening.

At the end of the day Salvation = union with Christ....regardless of the depth of ones walk is with Him. We all have free will and so the deepness of each individual in Christ will vary.

We are Synergists and so the rate of growth will vary for each person.


Another way of saying this is:

Salvation = Being in Christ regardless of ones rate of growth

No Salvation = Being outside Christ (hmm, I might have to rethink this one over for I'm leaving something out. Everything is in Christ on the lower level of nature in regards to the Incarnation, but not necessarily so on the higher level of faith, repentance, being sealed with the Holy Spirit, water Baptism and the other Mysteries. Hmm, I'm going to have to rethink this over. Maybe next year I will be able to put it into words)


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« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2011, 02:17:58 AM »

But how does one "fall out of Christ?" Based on what I'm reading here and elsewhere it seems pathetically easy. I might even be tempted to call it "saved one day, damned the next."

Aside from anything else, it seems like this makes the initial Grace of baptism non-existent in any practical sense.
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« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2011, 03:31:58 AM »

But how does one "fall out of Christ?" Based on what I'm reading here and elsewhere it seems pathetically easy. I might even be tempted to call it "saved one day, damned the next."

Aside from anything else, it seems like this makes the initial Grace of baptism non-existent in any practical sense.
 

You are looking at Salvation as if it's elusive and too abstract. You are ignoring the material/physical/visible aspect in all of this. I know this is true for the Zwinglian protestant tradition.

But once you include the visible aspect in all this then you will see that it's not so bad.

I would like to ask you a question. What does salvation mean to you? Is it a saving of your soul alone or the saving of the whole man? Both body and soul?

If it's the saving of the whole man then shouldn't there also be visible markers? Everything isn't abstract.



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« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2011, 03:40:54 AM »

I believe it is about both, but the salvation of the body is for the final resurrection. If the body were being saved now, I don't see why God would ever not heal someone who asked in faith.
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« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2011, 01:11:39 PM »

How do you square that view with incorruptible relics and 4 Kingdoms 13:21  (I believe 4 Kingdoms is known as 2 Kings in Protestant Bibles)?
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« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2011, 06:26:02 PM »

Faith and smug self assurance are two different things entirely
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« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2011, 10:43:31 PM »

I think part of the reason this is such a big deal to is concerning the (majority?) Orthodox teaching that Hell is just the Presence of God as experienced by those who hate Him. If this is the case, how can someone who really desires God (not the lukewarm) enter punishment even if they have a few outstanding black marks?

I think you misunderstand "hate."  Hate means loving yourself a little more than someone else.  What do you mean by "desires God"?  Synergeia must be there.   Metanoia, a turning of the nous towards and over to God and giving Him the reins must be there.  
By desiring God, I mean actually wanting to please Him, trying to repent of your sins and live the Orthodox life.

So if it's a just "a little more," than who can be saved? Even the greatest Christian could always do a "little more" to crucify the passions, unless you're suggesting only those who are perfect at the moment of death will be saved.

Ok, then replace "a little more" with either:
1.  more
OR
2. even a little more
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« Reply #25 on: June 10, 2011, 05:56:16 AM »

How do you square that view with incorruptible relics and 4 Kingdoms 13:21  (I believe 4 Kingdoms is known as 2 Kings in Protestant Bibles)?
Note that Elisha was still dead and decomposed.

I realize God uses matter to save us but I have time going from that to, "matter is now being saved." Getting cancer might help save one's soul but that doesn't make the cancer itself somehow sanctified.

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« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2011, 06:02:44 AM »

Faith and smug self assurance are two different things entirely
I have no assurance in my own ability to obey, which is why I have a hard time with the idea of my destiny hanging  even partially on my fickle, worthless self.

Quote from: FatherHLL
Ok, then replace "a little more" with either:
1.  more
OR
2. even a little more
Sorry, I don't see your point. That would just seem to confirm the impossibility of cooperating with God.
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« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2011, 04:17:06 PM »

How do you square that view with incorruptible relics and 4 Kingdoms 13:21  (I believe 4 Kingdoms is known as 2 Kings in Protestant Bibles)?
Note that Elisha was still dead and decomposed.

I realize God uses matter to save us but I have time going from that to, "matter is now being saved." Getting cancer might help save one's soul but that doesn't make the cancer itself somehow sanctified.



The fact that Elisha was dead and yet his bones performed a miracle is evidence of the sanctification of the physical.  As well, if your body is really a part of you, if it isn't just possessed by your soul, then in order for you to become holy and be sanctified, your body must be as well.
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« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2011, 04:29:07 PM »

The fact that Elisha was dead and yet his bones performed a miracle is evidence of the sanctification of the physical.  As well, if your body is really a part of you, if it isn't just possessed by your soul, then in order for you to become holy and be sanctified, your body must be as well.
For the sake of the discussion, I'll agree with you. Now, what does it have to do with the topic?
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« Reply #29 on: June 10, 2011, 10:38:41 PM »

I was responding to your statements:

"If the body were being saved now, I don't see why God would ever not heal someone who asked in faith."

and

"I realize God uses matter to save us but I have time going from that to, "matter is now being saved."
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« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2011, 10:45:40 PM »

I was responding to your statements:

"If the body were being saved now, I don't see why God would ever not heal someone who asked in faith."

and

"I realize God uses matter to save us but I have time going from that to, "matter is now being saved."
Oh. Ok.
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« Reply #31 on: June 10, 2011, 10:56:35 PM »

According to the RCC and EOC, your basically supposed to be up in the air in not knowing if your either saved or damned until you die.  It's supposed to something that you can't presume, but at the same time you can't despair over.  I can really understand how, having been in a "once saved" type of religion all your life, it can be extremely difficult to accept such an un assured belief system all at once. If it is any comfort to you, just think that a Billion and a half people share the same "un assured" belief about the afterlife that you now do and most of them don't go crazy worrying about where they'll end up when they die.  God is loving, merciful, and forgiving.  Just try and do the best you can to be a good person and love others and God will surely not abandon you to eternal death.

BTW, Do these evangelical type of Churches really believe in "once saved"?  I've always wondered about that.  You mean that, once your "born again" their is nothing one can do which will cause them to loose their souls?  I just can't fathom anybody really accepting that as a sensible doctrine of belief.  I used to just assume that these protestant types had some type of concept of "sin after salvation", but they just expressed it differently, but I seem to be corrected about this from some who claim to know better (And do).
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« Reply #32 on: June 10, 2011, 11:52:43 PM »

If it is any comfort to you, just think that a Billion and a half people share the same "un assured" belief about the afterlife that you now do and most of them don't go crazy worrying about where they'll end up when they die.
You have a point there.

 God is loving, merciful, and forgiving.  Just try and do the best you can to be a good person and love others and God will surely not abandon you to eternal death.
Unfortunately, this kind of advice only works on paper since no one knows if they are ever doing the best they can.

BTW, Do these evangelical type of Churches really believe in "once saved"?  I've always wondered about that.  You mean that, once your "born again" their is nothing one can do which will cause them to loose their souls?  I just can't fathom anybody really accepting that as a sensible doctrine of belief.  I used to just assume that these protestant types had some type of concept of "sin after salvation", but they just expressed it differently, but I seem to be corrected about this from some who claim to know better (And do).
The mainstream view is that those who are saved will always manifest good works since the Spirit is in them and they will never fall into serious sin such as homosexuality. A "Christian" who apostasies in this way was never saved to begin. Now, this is just in general.

Some theologians (Witherington, for example) try to introduce some uncertainty as to whether someone who committed suicide or died a practicing homosexual could still go to Heaven since Jesus is held to have covered all sins past, present, and future and they would prefer to say the only real way to lose one's salvation is to consciously and pointedly throw it away. But anyway, both these doctrines in general are usually called Lordship Salvation.

In the last couple of decades there has been a minority movement represented mainly by Charles Stanley and Zane Hodges which is often called Free Grace that actually does maintain one could sin all they wanted and still be saved (one shouldn't though since it will result in loss of honor before God and Heavenly rewards but is a logical possibility) I must admit this is difficult for me to resist because it seems to be the only logical way in which salvation can really be a free gift. Everything else seems to be some kind of self-salvation, honestly-even Witherington's modified Lordship Salvation which also attracts me.
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« Reply #33 on: June 11, 2011, 12:22:37 AM »

Faith and smug self assurance are two different things entirely
I have no assurance in my own ability to obey, which is why I have a hard time with the idea of my destiny hanging  even partially on my fickle, worthless self.
Quote from: FatherHLL
Ok, then replace "a little more" with either:1.  moreOR2. even a little more
Sorry, I don't see your point. That would just seem to confirm the impossibility of cooperating with God.

Unfortunately you are only seeing what you want to see in what was said.  "Salvation"--what is it?  It is simply theosis--union with God.  There can be no "one-sided" union.  

"I have no assurance in my ability to obey."   That is why you invite Christ to rule your life.  You can use that as an excuse for a number of things:
1. A failed marriage
2. Failed family relations
3. Failed relations with friends
4. Failed relations with your Creator

To sit there and say that to love yourself more than your Creator, spouse, family, friends is ok; that you can't, by inviting Christ to take the controls, overcome selfishness, is damnation.  

Our Lord said clearly and unambiguously in John 3.19:   "And this is condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."   To sit there and say that this confirms the impossibility of cooperating with God is nonsense.   Do not rely on your own understanding and emotions, as they lead you astray.    
 
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« Reply #34 on: June 11, 2011, 05:01:34 AM »

Unfortunately you are only seeing what you want to see in what was said.
Well, there I things about Orthodoxy which strongly attract me and things which I find rather disturbing, so I have desires running both ways to be honest. I pray to God I'm not blind to reason though *sigh*.

"Salvation"--what is it?  It is simply theosis--union with God.  There can be no "one-sided" union.  

"I have no assurance in my ability to obey."   That is why you invite Christ to rule your life.  You can use that as an excuse for a number of things:
1. A failed marriage
2. Failed family relations
3. Failed relations with friends
4. Failed relations with your Creator

To sit there and say that to love yourself more than your Creator, spouse, family, friends is ok; that you can't, by inviting Christ to take the controls, overcome selfishness, is damnation.  

Our Lord said clearly and unambiguously in John 3.19:   "And this is condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."   To sit there and say that this confirms the impossibility of cooperating with God is nonsense.   Do not rely on your own understanding and emotions, as they lead you astray.
How can God "take over the controls" when you're supposed to be working with Him?

The first three items you mention don't require perfection to maintain, buy isn't he who stumbles in one part of the law guilty of it all?
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« Reply #35 on: June 11, 2011, 07:30:38 AM »

According to the RCC and EOC, your basically supposed to be up in the air in not knowing if your either saved or damned until you die.  It's supposed to something that you can't presume, but at the same time you can't despair over.  I can really understand how, having been in a "once saved" type of religion all your life, it can be extremely difficult to accept such an un assured belief system all at once. If it is any comfort to you, just think that a Billion and a half people share the same "un assured" belief about the afterlife that you now do and most of them don't go crazy worrying about where they'll end up when they die.  God is loving, merciful, and forgiving.  Just try and do the best you can to be a good person and love others and God will surely not abandon you to eternal death.

BTW, Do these evangelical type of Churches really believe in "once saved"?  I've always wondered about that.  You mean that, once your "born again" their is nothing one can do which will cause them to loose their souls?  I just can't fathom anybody really accepting that as a sensible doctrine of belief.  I used to just assume that these protestant types had some type of concept of "sin after salvation", but they just expressed it differently, but I seem to be corrected about this from some who claim to know better (And do).

The Augustinian position is different and so you can only really speak for the RCC.
http://youtu.be/dq-fVwWjByw (Lecture 12: The Doctrine of Grace) (mostly after the 5 minute mark)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YN6MCOUSaA0&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL (Lecture 19: Luther and Protestant Theology)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNJmDhT_Q6s&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL (Lecture 20: Calvin and Reformed Theology)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgWE9XQS0S0&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL (Lecture 21: Protestants on Predestination)


Eastern Orthodoxy is not as Augustinian as the RCC and Classical Protestantism is and so you can't really speak for us. The reason why the RCC says it's unknowable is because of Saint Augustine's view of Predestination. Saint Augustine believed that God unconditionally gave only some christians the gift of faith to persevere to the end, and since no one knows who God elected to glory no one can know if they are chosen to be saved.

The Protestant Reformation taught that one can know if God elected them or not. It builds from the same Augustinian tradition.

For the Augustinian tradition it's a 3 tier system:
1.) Those who were never saved to begin with
2.) Those who were saved but didn't persevere to the end because God unconditionally didn't give them the gift of perseverance

3.) Those who were saved and persevered to the end because God unconditionally gave them the gift of final perseverance.

The Calvinistic tradition is a 2 tier system:

1.) Those who were never saved to begin with
2.) Those who were unconditionally saved by God and unconditionally persevered to the end by God.

 And so you really can't speak for us. Our reasons for saying we don't know have nothing to do with unconditional election.

The way we understand Grace is different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVuI7ka49J0&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL (Lecture 14: Eastern Orthodox Theology)
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« Reply #36 on: June 11, 2011, 08:18:03 AM »

I believe it is about both, but the salvation of the body is for the final resurrection. If the body were being saved now, I don't see why God would ever not heal someone who asked in faith.

It is both and as far as healing goes, well, a huge aspect of how we understand Salvation is in terms of healing. From mortality to immortality, and so salvation is of the whole man. It starts in the here and now for the whole man.

What you are talking about is temporary healing, what we are talking about is immortality.

And so, if you are able to see Salvation as being for the whole man, then you should be able to see the use of the Visible in the face of all this.

1.) The use of the Visible Church
2.) The use of the Divine Liturgy
3.) The use of the Divine Mysteries
4.) The visible aspect of Biblical words like faith(as conviction, faithfulness, loyalty...etc), repent(remorse, sorrow, conviction, a change of mind, a change of behavior...etc), love(mercy, kindness...etc).....etc.

Can God use visible things to help heal mankind? Can God use visible things to help reconcile mankind to Himself? If so, what's the problem? If not, why not?
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« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2011, 08:57:14 AM »

It is both and as far as healing goes, well, a huge aspect of how we understand Salvation is in terms of healing. From mortality to immortality, and so salvation is of the whole man. It starts in the here and now for the whole man.

What you are talking about is temporary healing, what we are talking about is immortality.

And so, if you are able to see Salvation as being for the whole man, then you should be able to see the use of the Visible in the face of all this.

1.) The use of the Visible Church
2.) The use of the Divine Liturgy
3.) The use of the Divine Mysteries
4.) The visible aspect of Biblical words like faith(as conviction, faithfulness, loyalty...etc), repent(remorse, sorrow, conviction, a change of mind, a change of behavior...etc), love(mercy, kindness...etc).....etc.

Can God use visible things to help heal mankind? Can God use visible things to help reconcile mankind to Himself? If so, what's the problem? If not, why not?
I can agree with matter being used in our salvation, after all God uses the written word to save us. My difficulties regarding bodily healing are more doubts about Christianity in general and I shouldn't have brought them up in the first place.

So if salvation involves the physical world and the body, it must also involve all of human behavior, hence the need for repentance and holiness, right?

Hard to argue with that logic. I just can't accept that this required obedience means "perfection or hell" because no one or at least very few would be saved. Maybe it's my own lack of faith at this point, that's always been on my mind, but I really don't think I can budge on this. It goes against everything I am. If that means I can't convert... so be it I guess.  Undecided
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« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2011, 10:13:02 AM »

It is both and as far as healing goes, well, a huge aspect of how we understand Salvation is in terms of healing. From mortality to immortality, and so salvation is of the whole man. It starts in the here and now for the whole man.

What you are talking about is temporary healing, what we are talking about is immortality.

And so, if you are able to see Salvation as being for the whole man, then you should be able to see the use of the Visible in the face of all this.

1.) The use of the Visible Church
2.) The use of the Divine Liturgy
3.) The use of the Divine Mysteries
4.) The visible aspect of Biblical words like faith(as conviction, faithfulness, loyalty...etc), repent(remorse, sorrow, conviction, a change of mind, a change of behavior...etc), love(mercy, kindness...etc).....etc.

Can God use visible things to help heal mankind? Can God use visible things to help reconcile mankind to Himself? If so, what's the problem? If not, why not?
I can agree with matter being used in our salvation, after all God uses the written word to save us. My difficulties regarding bodily healing are more doubts about Christianity in general and I shouldn't have brought them up in the first place.

So if salvation involves the physical world and the body, it must also involve all of human behavior, hence the need for repentance and holiness, right?

Hard to argue with that logic. I just can't accept that this required obedience means "perfection or hell" because no one or at least very few would be saved. Maybe it's my own lack of faith at this point, that's always been on my mind, but I really don't think I can budge on this. It goes against everything I am. If that means I can't convert... so be it I guess.  Undecided


What do you believe our view about perfectionism to be? There is an old thread or two about it. But what do you think our view is?
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« Reply #39 on: June 11, 2011, 10:31:07 AM »

As much as I can surmise, one must by the time of death be at a state in which they do not any longer sin. God will sometimes make exceptions to this, apparently (such as St. Dysmas) but perfection is required for most. I would assume if it's possible for the Theotokos (according to Orthodoxy) then it would be possible for anyone.
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« Reply #40 on: June 11, 2011, 12:46:52 PM »

As much as I can surmise, one must by the time of death be at a state in which they do not any longer sin. God will sometimes make exceptions to this, apparently (such as St. Dysmas) but perfection is required for most. I would assume if it's possible for the Theotokos (according to Orthodoxy) then it would be possible for anyone.

Perfection isn't what matters most (though of course it is the ideal we are to strive for).  Rather, repentence is what matters most. 
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« Reply #41 on: June 11, 2011, 04:01:41 PM »

Unfortunately you are only seeing what you want to see in what was said.
Well, there I things about Orthodoxy which strongly attract me and things which I find rather disturbing, so I have desires running both ways to be honest. I pray to God I'm not blind to reason though *sigh*.

"Salvation"--what is it?  It is simply theosis--union with God.  There can be no "one-sided" union.  

"I have no assurance in my ability to obey."   That is why you invite Christ to rule your life.  You can use that as an excuse for a number of things:
1. A failed marriage
2. Failed family relations
3. Failed relations with friends
4. Failed relations with your Creator

To sit there and say that to love yourself more than your Creator, spouse, family, friends is ok; that you can't, by inviting Christ to take the controls, overcome selfishness, is damnation.  

Our Lord said clearly and unambiguously in John 3.19:   "And this is condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."   To sit there and say that this confirms the impossibility of cooperating with God is nonsense.   Do not rely on your own understanding and emotions, as they lead you astray.
How can God "take over the controls" when you're supposed to be working with Him?

The first three items you mention don't require perfection to maintain, buy isn't he who stumbles in one part of the law guilty of it all?

Your question of "How can God 'take over the controls' when you're supposed to be working with Him" makes no sense in any application to which you apply it.   For example, in a factory, a foreman and a worker must work with each other.  That doesn't mean that the foreman is not in charge.  To imply that no longer are they working with each other because one is in charge is absurd. 

All four mentioned above require you to obey, and that was what was being addressed.  That is why the Holy Trinity is so important, as it shows us how relationships work.   There can only be one arche in a relationship.  That is why marriages fail that do not have the primary person in their relationship--the Lord Himself--as the one who gives the instructions, as the one who is in charge.  We don't need to be in charge, we need to let God be in charge, and when we fail to do so to repent.   Every moment of any relationship has its moment of "is it my will that is to be done, or God's?"       
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« Reply #42 on: June 11, 2011, 06:00:41 PM »

Your question of "How can God 'take over the controls' when you're supposed to be working with Him" makes no sense in any application to which you apply it.   For example, in a factory, a foreman and a worker must work with each other.  That doesn't mean that the foreman is not in charge.  To imply that no longer are they working with each other because one is in charge is absurd. 

All four mentioned above require you to obey, and that was what was being addressed.  That is why the Holy Trinity is so important, as it shows us how relationships work.   There can only be one arche in a relationship.  That is why marriages fail that do not have the primary person in their relationship--the Lord Himself--as the one who gives the instructions, as the one who is in charge.  We don't need to be in charge, we need to let God be in charge, and when we fail to do so to repent.
Ok, I misunderstood what you meant by "take control." I thought you were talking about God somehow doing the works for us.

Every moment of any relationship has its moment of "is it my will that is to be done, or God's?"       
This returns to my former question, how many of us will repent at all times? "Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect." Isn't that what it takes to be saved?

As much as I can surmise, one must by the time of death be at a state in which they do not any longer sin. God will sometimes make exceptions to this, apparently (such as St. Dysmas) but perfection is required for most. I would assume if it's possible for the Theotokos (according to Orthodoxy) then it would be possible for anyone.

Perfection isn't what matters most (though of course it is the ideal we are to strive for).  Rather, repentence is what matters most. 
Sounds like a false dichotomy. How do you repent and obey 51% (or even 99%) of the time?
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« Reply #43 on: June 11, 2011, 11:49:37 PM »

As much as I can surmise, one must by the time of death be at a state in which they do not any longer sin. God will sometimes make exceptions to this, apparently (such as St. Dysmas) but perfection is required for most. I would assume if it's possible for the Theotokos (according to Orthodoxy) then it would be possible for anyone.

Compare what you said up above with the Jesus Prayer?

What is our belief about God's Mercy?
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« Reply #44 on: June 12, 2011, 12:07:22 AM »

The former takes a line of reasoning like this: "Boy, I sure hope when death comes knocking that I'm stilling mentally agreeing with the factual truths of the Christian faith, namely that as long as I believe in Jesus (whatever that happens to mean) that I have been declared not guilty and thus have no reason to fear the penalty of a guilty status." It's almost as if it's a race against time, where the goal is to "believe" until you die, before the buzzer goes off on your life, and God unscrews your head and looks deep into your brain to make sure you really believed Jesus to be the Way, Truth and Life.

Awesome.
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« Reply #45 on: June 12, 2011, 02:02:11 AM »

But how does one "fall out of Christ?" Based on what I'm reading here and elsewhere it seems pathetically easy. I might even be tempted to call it "saved one day, damned the next."
Not at all. The only "mortal sin" according to the Orthodox tradition is refusal to repent (more on that below).

How can God "take over the controls" when you're supposed to be working with Him?
"'For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do according to good will.' (Phil. 2:13) What could well be clearer than the assertion that both our good will and the completion of our work are fully wrought in us by the Lord? And again 'For it is granted to you for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him.' (Phil. 1:29) Here also he declares that the beginning of our conversion and faith, and the endurance of suffering is a gift to us from the Lord." - St. John Cassian, The Conference of Paphnutius, 15

Quote from: Volnutt
This returns to my former question, how many of us will repent at all times? "Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect." Isn't that what it takes to be saved? How do you repent and obey 51% (or even 99%) of the time?
God saves repentant sinners. He does not parse us mathematically, to ask "how much is repentant and how much is sinner?" It is not the one who fails a mathematical equation that will be lost, but the soul who refuses to repent is in danger of being lost. Not "fails to repent X amount of the time," but refuses to repent.

Heb 12:25:  "See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?"

We are made perfect on a relational basis as we abide in the mercy of the Perfector, partake of His flesh and blood, find mercy through the prayers of intercession which are offered continually, and the intercessions offered by the Holy Spirit when we do not know how to pray which are beyond expression in human words:

Rom 8:26: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

Christ Himself continues to intercede for us also, as we are told in Hebrews. This should make it plain that our forgiveness is not a "done deal" finished in a single Grand Moment of uttering the Sinners Prayer; if all the future sins were expiated a single instant in the past, what on earth would there be left to intercede for?

ORTHODOX PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
"O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray the O Lord; of thy mercy forgive me of all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen."

We need absolution "for all things wherein in word, or deed, or thought, and with all... senses, whether voluntary or involuntary; whether through knowledge or ignorance... may all those things which have proceeded from the weakness of mortal nature be consigned to oblivion, and be remitted..." (The Prayer of Absolution).

Now you might say, how can we admit we sin every day of our lives and resolve to sin no more? Jaroslav Pelikan has remarked that most major heresies in Christian history emphasize one pole of a dialectical dogma. We are not big enough to look at the call to repent and "pursue ...holiness without which no man will see the Lord" (Heb 12:14) and the reality that there is no man who lives continually and never sins, and conclude we must only preach one side and pitch the other: EITHER human moral perfection as St. Cyril rebuked the heretic Novatus for doing,[1] OR scrap the notion that we should take seriously the call to pursue holiness, or repent continually (repent in the NT is frequently in the Gk. continual present -not a Grand Moment, but a lifestyle of repentance is in view there), die to the self, etc. Like the mystery of the incarnation we Orthodox say yes to all of it -no half Gospel or truncated Gospel for us!- and we pray to live it until our last breath.

"Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved." —St. John Chrysostom

God saves repentant sinners "in Him" who abide in the Vine. That relational basis is dialectical: we come to Christ praying "Lord have mercy!" and "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" We are not lost because we cannot repent enough seconds of the day, but if we refuse to repent, and thus unto the ages of ages (cf. Heb 10:26ff.).
____________________
[1]"What answer then will those make to this, who embrace the new tenets of Novatus, and say of themselves that they are pure? Whose prayer do they praise? That of the Pharisee, who acquitted himself, or that of the Publican, who accused himself? If they say that of the Pharisee, they resist the divine sentence; for he was condemned as being boastful: but if that of the Publican, why do they refuse to acknowledge their own impurity? Certainly God justifies those who know well their transgressions, and are willing to confess them: but these men will have the portion of the Pharisee. We then say, that in many things we "all of us offend," and that no man is pure from uncleanness, even though his life upon earth be but one day. Let us ask then of God mercy; which if we do, Christ will justify us: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen." -Cyril of Alexandria, Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, Sermon 120

"If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." -1 John 1:8

“Imitate the Publican and you will not be condemned with the Pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water." -Sayings of the Desert Fathers

"...anybody who thinks he is something great, even before God, is rightly abandoned by God, as one who thinks that he does not need His help." -St. Gregory Palamas, Discourse on the Publican and the Pharisee

"When the foolish thought of counting up any of your good works enters into your head, immediately correct your fault and rather count up your sins, your continual and innumerable offenses against the All-Merciful and Righteous Master, and you will find that their number is as the sand of the sea, whilst your virtues in comparison with them are as nothing." - St. John of Kronstadt

"The Pharisee went up to the temple with a proud and empty heart; the Publican bowed himself in repentance. They both stood before you, O Master: the one, through boasting, lost his reward, But the other, with tears and sighs, won your blessing: Strengthen me, O Christ our God, as I weep in Your presence, since You are the lover of mankind!" -Lenten Triodion
« Last Edit: June 12, 2011, 02:33:00 AM by xariskai » Logged

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« Reply #46 on: June 12, 2011, 02:32:11 AM »

I think part of the reason this is such a big deal to is concerning the (majority?) Orthodox teaching that Hell is just the Presence of God as experienced by those who hate Him. If this is the case, how can someone who really desires God (not the lukewarm) enter punishment even if they have a few outstanding black marks?

Do you know what our view of repentance is? Especially confession of ones sins post water Baptism? Confessing your sins in front of another person and in view of others can be embarrassing and humiliating at first, I know it was for me. But we believe something about repentance that covers this issue.

One doesn't have any black marks at water Baptism. Nor does one have black marks in repentance post water Baptism.

Salvation to us is union with Christ. I know in the protestant world Salvation tends to be more psychological in nature. Yes, we have a psychological aspect as well, but that has more to do with our asceticism........ The original view of salvation had everything to do with the destruction of sin, death and defeat of the devil. It also had everything to do with restored fellowship/communion with God and the raising of our mortal nature to one of immortality and that by the Grace of God. There is more that I'm leaving out. It really has something to do with the whole entire universe, us just being the first fruits of it all.

I know that some tend to speculate if there is organic life on other planets, and if so how can Salvation happen there? To me it doesn't really matter, for with the Incarnation, Jesus partook of us and we are made up of everything in the Universe, therefore God being Incarnate on Planet Earth can renew the whole entire universe. And so it really doesn't matter what's on other planets.
You're right, I suppose "black marks" was a bad term, maybe "areas in which one has not quite grown fast enough." I know that Confession covers sins we did not know we committed and the Eucharist covers them yet again, but what over someone who doesn't have access to these things, especially if there no priest to give Extreme Unction?

This is the same problem that as a Protestant drives me toward antinomianism. How much sanctification is "enough?" It's maddening.

You seem to have very Catholic temperament Shocked

Have you ever studied any Ignatian spirituality?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesuit_spirituality
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« Reply #47 on: June 12, 2011, 03:12:46 AM »

Yeah, I think I do in a lot of ways.

Haven't much looked into Ignatius but the method seems interesting (I've actually known Protestants who used Spiritual Exercises) aside from some issues I have with visualization in prayer.
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« Reply #48 on: June 12, 2011, 03:18:58 AM »

Yeah I've read about the Protestant Ignatian trend.  Why don't you start reading up on the Jesuits and their spirituality?  They are a fascinating religious order.  My uncle was schooled by them and he, in turn transmitted a lot of their teachings to me.  They are true gem of Catholic spirituality and insight.
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Men may dislike truth, men may find truth offensive and inconvenient, men may persecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it. But to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy, and the last delusion. Truth lives forever, men do not.
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« Reply #49 on: June 12, 2011, 03:31:15 AM »

But how does one "fall out of Christ?" Based on what I'm reading here and elsewhere it seems pathetically easy. I might even be tempted to call it "saved one day, damned the next."
Not at all. The only "mortal sin" according to the Orthodox tradition is refusal to repent (more on that below).

How can God "take over the controls" when you're supposed to be working with Him?
"'For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do according to good will.' (Phil. 2:13) What could well be clearer than the assertion that both our good will and the completion of our work are fully wrought in us by the Lord? And again 'For it is granted to you for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him.' (Phil. 1:29) Here also he declares that the beginning of our conversion and faith, and the endurance of suffering is a gift to us from the Lord." - St. John Cassian, The Conference of Paphnutius, 15

Quote from: Volnutt
This returns to my former question, how many of us will repent at all times? "Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect." Isn't that what it takes to be saved? How do you repent and obey 51% (or even 99%) of the time?
God saves repentant sinners. He does not parse us mathematically, to ask "how much is repentant and how much is sinner?" It is not the one who fails a mathematical equation that will be lost, but the soul who refuses to repent is in danger of being lost. Not "fails to repent X amount of the time," but refuses to repent.

Heb 12:25:  "See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?"

We are made perfect on a relational basis as we abide in the mercy of the Perfector, partake of His flesh and blood, find mercy through the prayers of intercession which are offered continually, and the intercessions offered by the Holy Spirit when we do not know how to pray which are beyond expression in human words:

Rom 8:26: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

Christ Himself continues to intercede for us also, as we are told in Hebrews. This should make it plain that our forgiveness is not a "done deal" finished in a single Grand Moment of uttering the Sinners Prayer; if all the future sins were expiated a single instant in the past, what on earth would there be left to intercede for?

ORTHODOX PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
"O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray the O Lord; of thy mercy forgive me of all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen."

We need absolution "for all things wherein in word, or deed, or thought, and with all... senses, whether voluntary or involuntary; whether through knowledge or ignorance... may all those things which have proceeded from the weakness of mortal nature be consigned to oblivion, and be remitted..." (The Prayer of Absolution).

Now you might say, how can we admit we sin every day of our lives and resolve to sin no more? Jaroslav Pelikan has remarked that most major heresies in Christian history emphasize one pole of a dialectical dogma. We are not big enough to look at the call to repent and "pursue ...holiness without which no man will see the Lord" (Heb 12:14) and the reality that there is no man who lives continually and never sins, and conclude we must only preach one side and pitch the other: EITHER human moral perfection as St. Cyril rebuked the heretic Novatus for doing,[1] OR scrap the notion that we should take seriously the call to pursue holiness, or repent continually (repent in the NT is frequently in the Gk. continual present -not a Grand Moment, but a lifestyle of repentance is in view there), die to the self, etc. Like the mystery of the incarnation we Orthodox say yes to all of it -no half Gospel or truncated Gospel for us!- and we pray to live it until our last breath.

"Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved." —St. John Chrysostom

God saves repentant sinners "in Him" who abide in the Vine. That relational basis is dialectical: we come to Christ praying "Lord have mercy!" and "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" We are not lost because we cannot repent enough seconds of the day, but if we refuse to repent, and thus unto the ages of ages (cf. Heb 10:26ff.).
____________________
[1]"What answer then will those make to this, who embrace the new tenets of Novatus, and say of themselves that they are pure? Whose prayer do they praise? That of the Pharisee, who acquitted himself, or that of the Publican, who accused himself? If they say that of the Pharisee, they resist the divine sentence; for he was condemned as being boastful: but if that of the Publican, why do they refuse to acknowledge their own impurity? Certainly God justifies those who know well their transgressions, and are willing to confess them: but these men will have the portion of the Pharisee. We then say, that in many things we "all of us offend," and that no man is pure from uncleanness, even though his life upon earth be but one day. Let us ask then of God mercy; which if we do, Christ will justify us: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen." -Cyril of Alexandria, Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, Sermon 120

"If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." -1 John 1:8

“Imitate the Publican and you will not be condemned with the Pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water." -Sayings of the Desert Fathers

"...anybody who thinks he is something great, even before God, is rightly abandoned by God, as one who thinks that he does not need His help." -St. Gregory Palamas, Discourse on the Publican and the Pharisee

"When the foolish thought of counting up any of your good works enters into your head, immediately correct your fault and rather count up your sins, your continual and innumerable offenses against the All-Merciful and Righteous Master, and you will find that their number is as the sand of the sea, whilst your virtues in comparison with them are as nothing." - St. John of Kronstadt

"The Pharisee went up to the temple with a proud and empty heart; the Publican bowed himself in repentance. They both stood before you, O Master: the one, through boasting, lost his reward, But the other, with tears and sighs, won your blessing: Strengthen me, O Christ our God, as I weep in Your presence, since You are the lover of mankind!" -Lenten Triodion
This makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks.

Maybe the root of my problem of my problem is I get caught up in the language such as "losing his reward" and the whole "everyone will be saved but me" spiel. I now suspect I'm thinking too black and white, I can't understand being realistic about the possibility of apostasy without being morbid-which I'm sure those sentiments are not actually meant to be.

I can't escape interpreting "God will save you as long as you repent" as "Well, what hope do I have? I could stop repenting tomorrow!" I don't understand how to have a balanced attitude to not having assurance.

I've resisted it because of the above but this is just one more paradox of Orthodoxy.

FatherHLL, Sleeper, norm, James, robb; sorry if I've come off like a jerk here. Please forgive me.

I'll need to pray about this more.
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« Reply #50 on: June 12, 2011, 04:06:04 AM »

Yeah I've read about the Protestant Ignatian trend.  Why don't you start reading up on the Jesuits and their spirituality?  They are a fascinating religious order.  My uncle was schooled by them and he, in turn transmitted a lot of their teachings to me.  They are true gem of Catholic spirituality and insight.
Thanks. I might do that.

I pray that certain among the Jesuits return to correct doctrine and that their good and noble name no longer be tarnished.
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« Reply #51 on: June 12, 2011, 04:55:59 PM »

Yeah I've read about the Protestant Ignatian trend.  Why don't you start reading up on the Jesuits and their spirituality?  They are a fascinating religious order.  My uncle was schooled by them and he, in turn transmitted a lot of their teachings to me.  They are true gem of Catholic spirituality and insight.
Thanks. I might do that.

I pray that certain among the Jesuits return to correct doctrine and that their good and noble name no longer be tarnished.

Don't believe everything you hear or read about the Jesuits.  They are, for all their problems still a fine and decent religious order which sincerely struggles tor reconcile God and religion with the modern world and it's problems (As they always have done).  If, by fault or human weakness they have become too secularized or modernized over the years, we pray that this is just a minor arbitration which will pass as quickly as it came.
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Men may dislike truth, men may find truth offensive and inconvenient, men may persecute the truth, subvert it, try by law to suppress it. But to maintain that men have the final power over truth is blasphemy, and the last delusion. Truth lives forever, men do not.
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« Reply #52 on: June 12, 2011, 08:15:49 PM »

Ok
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« Reply #53 on: June 12, 2011, 09:31:54 PM »

The only posters that I think come off like jerks are the ones that either openly insult you ("You dumb heretic!") or who continually talk past everyone and refuse to even start to pretend to care about what other posters have to say.

You have most certainly not come off like a jerk, I just hope that none of us (myself included) have, because that is the surest way to turn you away from Orthodoxy forever.
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« Reply #54 on: June 12, 2011, 09:58:19 PM »

Nah, you guys are alright.  Smiley

And thanks.
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« Reply #55 on: June 18, 2011, 05:17:41 AM »

Something occurred to me today. Assurance as Protestants demand it, absolute certainty or "120% Proof Grace" as a contributor to iMonk once called it, is logically impossible.

The reason is the same as one of the reasons why today's followers of Rene Descartes' proofs of the existence of God often get in trouble. Essentially, one of Descartes' arguments was that we have in us a concept of God and that this concept is objectively perfect. Since an objectively perfect idea could not have come from the mind of an imperfect being, then God Himself must be the source of our concept of Him. Although one might find this intuitively persuasive, it just does not work as a proof. We know from modern psychology that human beings simply do not have infallible access to our their own thoughts. Descartes might think he has a perfect conception of God, but he has no way of proving this. He might think he knows what perfection means, but how can he be sure?

In the same way, when we say "I believe Jesus is the Son of the God," etc. we don't know we are mentally assenting to this proposition. There is always the possibility of subconscious motivations, internal contradictions, etc. that we might hold-any number of which could offset our actual assent to the truth of the Gospel and actual trust in Christ.

A Protestant might respond, "I know I have saving faith because I have the works which are its fruit." This just pushes the problem back though. How does one know these are true works, done with a pure heart and out of a sincere hunger for God's glory? How do you know you aren't just "washing the outside of the cup," doing them to appear righteous or out of some other hidden and selfish motive? Again, we have no infallible access.

A Protestant might also respond that the inner witness of the Spirit assures them that they have true faith. But Mormons say they know their religion is true because they got a "Burning in the Bosom" when they prayed about the Book of Mormon. How do you know this sure feeling of yours is not as false as theirs is (self-generated, physiological, demonic, or from some other source other than God)?

Finally, a Protestant could respond to any or all of the points above by saying that baring the unforeseen, the think they truly believe in Christ and they have confidence that He is greater than the vagaries of the human mind and can save despite them. This is quite correct. It can serve as a fine nonfoundationalist sort of assurance, but it isn't what the Reformers taught.

Protestantism is a child of Aristotelean logic and a contemporary of Renaissance Humanism. If something is not 100% correct and proven almost syllogistically, it is of no theological value to the Scholastically trained Luther and Calvin, let alone their Radical Reformation cousins. One might be able to hold a sort of "epistemologically fuzzy" soteriology as outlined above, but the Reformers simply would not have recognized it. In fact, they might even accuse you of "Papist" sentiments!

So, 100% assurance of salvation is untenable, not because God is unfaithful or incapable of saving but because we in our feeble minds are not capable of knowing our beliefs and intentions well enough to be absolutely confident that we believe unto salvation.

Whatever hope Protestants have, if they are consistent they must hold to it with less than complete certainty. Nothing wrong with that, except for one thing-Protestants now have no advantage in this department over the Orthodox. If they are not absolutely sure that they will endure to the end but must trust in God's good mercies, so must the Protestants if they think they're already saved. Too bad Martin Luther wasn't born 600 years later to recognize this.

Thoughts?
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