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Author Topic: Surprised by Damnation?  (Read 3046 times) Average Rating: 0
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xariskai
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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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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 #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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Volnutt
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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.
-- Gustave Flaubert
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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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