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Author Topic: Answering an Evangelical Fundamentalist  (Read 1946 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: July 03, 2011, 12:40:24 AM »

A fellow Orthodox Christian asked me to help her respond to an evangelical fundamentalist who is attacking Orthodoxy and promoting the heterodox doctrine of “once saved always saved.” The following is one of my replies to her. Please add any comments and thoughts that might also be helpful to our Orthodox sister.

Dear_____,

I commend you for doing an excellent job in defending the truth. These fundamentalist arguments are all too familiar. I was once a fundamentalist myself, so I know exactly where they are coming from. It stems from a combination of two things, one is good and the other is bad:

First, there is the sincere desire to credit God completely for our salvation and to ascribe all glory to Him in the work of redemption. We Orthodox share the same desire, and the writings of the apostles and Church Fathers over the past 2,000 years contains nothing to indicate that we earn our way to heaven. Our entire worship is based upon prayers and Scripture that praise God for His goodness and glory and that entreat Him for His mercy and blessing in our lives- of which we have full confidence. 

Second is fear. Fundamentalists cling to a systematic, legalistic/forensic formula of salvation that leads them to believe they have automatic access to heaven regardless of their actions, lifestyle, or behavior. A debt was owed, the penalty was paid, and those that accept this fact by faith are "saved." Subsequently, those who claim to be "saved" are terrified of any Scripture verse or apostolic teaching that reveals the tenuous and untenable doctrine of OSAS. That is why you will notice that fundamentalists are very selective in their Bible quoting. For example, there is the famous "Romans Road," which isolates certain verses from the book of Romans in order to accommodate the false doctrine of OSAS.

We Orthodox however, are not threatened by any portions of Scripture. If fundamentalists quote chapter and verse about "ransom," “atonement," etc., we gladly accede with what the Bible says. But again, it must be emphasized that we have a much more comprehensive view of the Scriptures, and we recognize that the Bible uses many metaphors, typologies, and analogies to convey the message of salvation. For example, consider the parable of the Two Sons (or the Prodigal Son). How was the wayward son "saved"? Was it not solely by the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of his benevolent father? Indeed, this was his only hope. And yet he still had to repent of his sins, arise from the pig slop, and journey back towards his father's home. Surely, this required much effort and struggle on his part. Nowhere did the son feel that he had earned his father’s love and forgiveness, and the father’s celebration for his son was not a meritorious reward. What we see was the pure and unconditional love of the father, a love so great that the son was willing to do whatever he needed in order to receive and experience that love. So, we see that even this simple parable portrays the synergistic cooperation between God and man in the work of salvation.

We Orthodox Christians live in grace, not fear. We do not view salvation as some legal transaction that transpired in a divine courtroom, as something that we can or cannot "lose." Instead, we are concerned with growing closer to God on a daily basis, cultivating an individual and corporate relationship with Him through the sacramental life of His Church. We long for heaven, and yet we know that by grace it is indeed possible for us to experience heaven here and now, on this earth and in this life. In fact, we believe that the Kingdom of God is literally and mystically present every time the Divine Liturgy is celebrated.

Thus, we do not concern ourselves with judging who is "saved" and who isn't. Indeed, we endeavor to fulfill the Great Commission (St. Matt 28:18-20) by spreading the light and love of Christ in and throughout the world. We are authentically “evangelical" in that we labor to share the good news of the Gospel, which is only truly understood in and through the Church of Christ- and this Church is in fact the 2,000 year old apostolic Orthodox Church.

I applaud you for your efforts to accentuate those things that all professing Christians have in common. This is what we should always do. However, we must also be careful not to allow the heterodox to dictate the terms, theologically speaking. I have found that it is best to always establish the proper foundation of authority before engaging in doctrinal discussions. There can never be substantive theological agreement when there is a fundamental difference of foundational authority. The Sola Scripturists reject apostolic Teaching and Tradition, (which is ironically unbiblical), and therefore they selectively quote chapter and verse all day long in order to “prove” their doctrinal positions. So, the best thing to do is simply point out to them that their foundation is flawed. Show them that Sola Scriptura is an unbiblical and manmade doctrine, and that unless they accept the authority of the Church then they will never really understand the Scriptures. Politely decline to discuss any other theological issues with them until they accept the proper Christian authority for doctrine and faith.

Continue to love this person and treat them kindly, but remain steadfast and firm in upholding Orthodox truth. I commend you for your efforts on behalf of Christ and His Church.

Pray for me a sinner.

Peace to you.

Selam, -GMK-
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2011, 01:29:01 AM »

Excellent work, Gebre! Very articulate and thorough, yet also sensitive to how others may receive your counsel.
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2011, 06:05:32 AM »

Excellent work, Gebre! Very articulate and thorough, yet also sensitive to how others may receive your counsel.

Gebre is good at that, from what I've seen!
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2011, 03:49:46 PM »

Excellent work, Gebre! Very articulate and thorough, yet also sensitive to how others may receive your counsel.

No kidding, his quality of posts and Habte's make me wonder if I should go OO . . .

Dunno that my truculent Irish ironic manner would be welcome.

Come to think of it, I can't remember where it was welcome.

//:=|
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2011, 06:00:08 PM »

Hahah, yes, I must say your style is of a different type. Also much appreciated.
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2011, 08:26:24 PM »

Gebre,

Though the person you are responding to is a fundamentalist, I would advise you striking the terms particularly because it has such negative connotations (some of which are deserving).  If you use those terms, I fear that despite the rationality and well argued position you have articulated, such words as those will immediately be treated as condescending and smacking of superiority (though you do have the superior argument rooted in the Church, the Fathers and the Scriptures). It's just a suggestion. Otherwise, nicely put together.
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2011, 08:42:09 PM »

^ I kind of agree, but I'm not quite sure. I guarantee that at least half of his readers will be thinking, "Fundamentalist? D**n straight!"  Grin But I do think you have a good point about being firm without coming off as too superior.


Great message!
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« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2011, 09:04:05 AM »

A fellow Orthodox Christian asked me to help her respond to an evangelical fundamentalist who is ... promoting the heterodox doctrine of “once saved always saved.” ...  Please add any comments and thoughts  

I have it at home, not here at my office, so I may not have the title precisely correct. I suggest you refer your two protagonists to John Wesley's fairly long and detailed piece of writing, Predestination calmly considered.

By the way - just a thought - if you think the "evangelical fundamentalist" is wrong, shouldn't you be wanting to help him too?

Now I have a question which puzzles me. The doctrine you abbreviate OSAS is held by Calvinists and denied by Armininians. Why is it this particular teaching which you so often home in on, and which so riles you? What is it about this particular doctrine, held by some Evangelicals and denied by others, that so attracts your attention and your ire? I have noticed this over the years on the Forum, and have often wondered about it.

(I have never, by the way, stated here on which side I come down on this issue - nor indeed whether my mind is made up either way at all - yet one or more others who post have imputed one view or another to me.)
« Last Edit: July 04, 2011, 09:06:05 AM by David Young » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2011, 11:46:15 AM »

A fellow Orthodox Christian asked me to help her respond to an evangelical fundamentalist who is ... promoting the heterodox doctrine of “once saved always saved.” ...  Please add any comments and thoughts  

I have it at home, not here at my office, so I may not have the title precisely correct. I suggest you refer your two protagonists to John Wesley's fairly long and detailed piece of writing, Predestination calmly considered.

By the way - just a thought - if you think the "evangelical fundamentalist" is wrong, shouldn't you be wanting to help him too?

Now I have a question which puzzles me. The doctrine you abbreviate OSAS is held by Calvinists and denied by Armininians. Why is it this particular teaching which you so often home in on, and which so riles you? What is it about this particular doctrine, held by some Evangelicals and denied by others, that so attracts your attention and your ire? I have noticed this over the years on the Forum, and have often wondered about it.

(I have never, by the way, stated here on which side I come down on this issue - nor indeed whether my mind is made up either way at all - yet one or more others who post have imputed one view or another to me.)

Mr Young,

I can't speak for Gebre, but I think a lot of the ire is because of the hypocrisy and duplicity that the doctrine inspires, especially here in America. Too often "Once saved always saved" is used as a crutch to explain away the evils we do without any need of repentance or contrition. A shady businessman can be a well-respected member of his local church despite all his cheating and swindling because he's been "born again". A pastor can have multiple affairs, divorce and remarry at whim, but it's all okay because he's "saved". Forgiveness is a necessary act for the Church, but so is repentance.

Plus, it's flat-out unbiblical. Apostasy is a very real danger to the soul warned of many times in the New Testament.
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« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2011, 11:53:37 AM »

A fellow Orthodox Christian asked me to help her respond to an evangelical fundamentalist who is ... promoting the heterodox doctrine of “once saved always saved.” ...  Please add any comments and thoughts  

I have it at home, not here at my office, so I may not have the title precisely correct. I suggest you refer your two protagonists to John Wesley's fairly long and detailed piece of writing, Predestination calmly considered.

By the way - just a thought - if you think the "evangelical fundamentalist" is wrong, shouldn't you be wanting to help him too?

Now I have a question which puzzles me. The doctrine you abbreviate OSAS is held by Calvinists and denied by Armininians. Why is it this particular teaching which you so often home in on, and which so riles you? What is it about this particular doctrine, held by some Evangelicals and denied by others, that so attracts your attention and your ire? I have noticed this over the years on the Forum, and have often wondered about it.

(I have never, by the way, stated here on which side I come down on this issue - nor indeed whether my mind is made up either way at all - yet one or more others who post have imputed one view or another to me.)
In America OSAS might with justification be called the dogma of Evangelicalism, Baptists and pretty much any Protestant except the Lutherans and other "main-stream""magisterial" Protestants.  The expend quite a lot of energy preaching it-and ignoring that it contradicts Scripture.
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« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2011, 05:24:07 PM »

I think a lot of the ire is because of the hypocrisy and duplicity that the doctrine inspires, especially here in America. Too often "Once saved always saved" is used as a crutch to explain away the evils we do without any need of repentance or contrition. A shady businessman can be a well-respected member of his local church despite all his cheating and swindling because he's been "born again". A pastor can have multiple affairs, divorce and remarry at whim, but it's all okay because he's "saved".

But these people are hypocrites, and would be hypocrites whatever doctrines they held, surely. The doctrine itself is defensible from scripture. Here in Britain it usually goes by the name of "eternal security" or "the perseverance of the saints".

But what puzzles me about what you say - and I believe you, be assured - is that some of my American brethren seem to hold it illogically. Here in Britain, the people who hold eternal security are five-point Calvinists, and the system represented in the mnemonic TULIP holds together as a hermetic, tightly-knit system. Each tenet fits firmly with the others. The only American with whom I recall discussing the doctrine (at least since Vienna in 1966) is my Bible Baptist friend to whom I frequently refer, who seems to hold eternal security but none of the other parts of TULIP. For example, he hates the doctrine of absolute predestination (the U). (He now pastors the church I pastored before moving full-time into the Albanian work, though I preach there fairly often.) Actually I don't really discuss OSAS with him; it would be truer to say I hear him asserting it. But I do not know on what grounds he asserts it, without the TULI- on which British five-pointers base it.

I am not hereby defending the Five Points because of their logical cohesion. It would be a very western thing to do, of course, especially since the influence of Aquinas and the Scholastics made western Christianity so intellectual. I suppose what I am saying is that the doctrine, though increasingly popular here in Britain since the 1960s, seems (from what you good people say) to be located in a different nexus of teachings.

Anyone over here whose life resembled the businessmen and pastors you mention in your post would be regarded as a hypocrite just as you yourselves view them. And, to be wholly fair, you should acknowledge on the other hand that there are very saintly Calvinists firmly holding all five points, whose lives exude what Paul calls 'the aroma of Christ' far more sweetly and constantly than my poor stumblings through the years have done. But what makes them saintly is not that they believe TULIP, or even just OSAS, but their union with Christ and their humble daily walk with him.
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« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2011, 05:42:52 PM »

I think a lot of the ire is because of the hypocrisy and duplicity that the doctrine inspires, especially here in America. Too often "Once saved always saved" is used as a crutch to explain away the evils we do without any need of repentance or contrition. A shady businessman can be a well-respected member of his local church despite all his cheating and swindling because he's been "born again". A pastor can have multiple affairs, divorce and remarry at whim, but it's all okay because he's "saved".

But these people are hypocrites, and would be hypocrites whatever doctrines they held, surely. The doctrine itself is defensible from scripture. Here in Britain it usually goes by the name of "eternal security" or "the perseverance of the saints".

But what puzzles me about what you say - and I believe you, be assured - is that some of my American brethren seem to hold it illogically. Here in Britain, the people who hold eternal security are five-point Calvinists, and the system represented in the mnemonic TULIP holds together as a hermetic, tightly-knit system. Each tenet fits firmly with the others. The only American with whom I recall discussing the doctrine (at least since Vienna in 1966) is my Bible Baptist friend to whom I frequently refer, who seems to hold eternal security but none of the other parts of TULIP. For example, he hates the doctrine of absolute predestination (the U). (He now pastors the church I pastored before moving full-time into the Albanian work, though I preach there fairly often.) Actually I don't really discuss OSAS with him; it would be truer to say I hear him asserting it. But I do not know on what grounds he asserts it, without the TULI- on which British five-pointers base it.

I am not hereby defending the Five Points because of their logical cohesion. It would be a very western thing to do, of course, especially since the influence of Aquinas and the Scholastics made western Christianity so intellectual. I suppose what I am saying is that the doctrine, though increasingly popular here in Britain since the 1960s, seems (from what you good people say) to be located in a different nexus of teachings.

Anyone over here whose life resembled the businessmen and pastors you mention in your post would be regarded as a hypocrite just as you yourselves view them. And, to be wholly fair, you should acknowledge on the other hand that there are very saintly Calvinists firmly holding all five points, whose lives exude what Paul calls 'the aroma of Christ' far more sweetly and constantly than my poor sutmblings through the years have done. But what makes them saintly is not that they believe TULIP, or even just OSAS, but their union with Christ and their humble daily walk with him.


Mr. Young,
   I think it would be fair to say that the Baptist faith you practice outside of America is almost an entirely different animal than the Baptist faith which I grew up with in the southern states. I have to agree with my brother (whom you quoted) that in the States OSAS is used as a fall back. I actually had a friend that could not understand this belief that a man could say a prayer, go murder people, and still go to Heaven with out repenting; it was because of his disbelief that helped me start my journey to Orthodoxy (but that is another story).

I have, after reading a number of your posts, realized that you are much better informed than the run of the mill Baptist preachers I ran into from time to time. I can not even recall the last time that a Baptist over here was able to tell me that the Baptist Church came from Calvin, let alone any of its roots. As for predestination, I know of many Baptists that would run some one out of their church for believing such a thing! Thank you for your well informed and thought out posts.

To stay on topic...
Gebre, I really like the way you articulate and express your beliefs. You come off firm in your belief, but not arrogant. You allow for somebody else's beliefs while maintaining what you believe with out compromise. Very well done, and I have nothing to add, as you have done such a wonderful job!
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2011, 03:09:14 AM »

...that the Baptist Church came from Calvin, let alone any of its roots.

Thank you for your post; you are most kind.

Maybe I didn't express myself quite clearly enough on this point. The Baptists didn't descend in any organisational way from Calvin, rather they were an English phenomenon, the General Baptists beginning formally in 1611 and the Particular Baptists about twenty years later. But the latter group were (and are) Calvinist in their soteriology - so much so that over the past half-century or so many have begun calling themselves "Reformed Baptist" which, IMHO, is an oxymoron, for the Reformers believed in a State church, infant baptism, and coercion in matters of faith - all of which run counter to true historic Baptist principles. But they have come to admire the Calvinists so much that they wish to identify with them.

I ought also to clarify another thing I wrote rather muddledly. When I wrote "Britain" I should really have written "England" (or perhaps "England and Wales"), as Calvinist soteriology has always been a good deal stronger in Scotland than in England.
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2011, 12:16:22 PM »

Maybe I didn't express myself quite clearly enough on this point. The Baptists didn't descend in any organisational way from Calvin, rather they were an English phenomenon, the General Baptists beginning formally in 1611 and the Particular Baptists about twenty years later. But the latter group were (and are) Calvinist in their soteriology - so much so that over the past half-century or so many have begun calling themselves "Reformed Baptist" which, IMHO, is an oxymoron, for the Reformers believed in a State church, infant baptism, and coercion in matters of faith - all of which run counter to true historic Baptist principles. But they have come to admire the Calvinists so much that they wish to identify with them.
I have a Baptist minister friend who goes to great lengths to refer to himself as a "Particular Baptist," holding to the London Confession and all that jazz.

To expand on what the others have said about Baptists in the [southern] states, they don't understand OSAS as "Perseverence of the Saints," save those few who read theology primers for fun (and, of course, the youngsters who consume Johns Piper and MacArthur with an insatiable appetite.) Baptists [in the south] are heavily influenced by revivalism and pietism, and so their understanding of salvation as an experience based on a single moment of repentence combined with a belief in OSAS makes for the perfect storm of what Reformed folks call "cheap grace." If one says a prayer of repentence just once, and truly believes it in their heart at that moment, then they are thus forever saved regardless of any future practice or hypocricy. I have known more than one adult whose hope of getting into Heaven is despite a life of open sin and rebellion against God is based wholly on the fact that in their teen years (or childhood) they had a moment of conviction during an altar call.

It is unfair to paint all Baptists with this wide brush, of course, but it is unfortunately a wide brush that covers many, many people.
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2011, 04:32:58 PM »

youngsters who consume Johns Piper and MacArthur

Piper is very popular in England too, and MacArthur is decidedly influential in Albania.

Quote
their understanding of salvation ... makes for the perfect storm of what Reformed folks call "cheap grace."

And not only Reformed folks, of course. Many serious revivalists, Pietists and Arminians abhor any concept of cheap grace - a profession of faith not shown to be valid by a changed life.

Quote
If one says a prayer of repentence just once, and truly believes it in their heart at that moment, then they are thus forever saved regardless of any future practice or hypocricy... whose hope of getting into Heaven is despite a life of open sin and rebellion against God is based wholly on the fact that in their teen years (or childhood) they had a moment of conviction during an altar call.

The idea is totally weird, yet I'm sure your observations are right in saying it is widespread in the Southern States. May the Lord bring them out of such a delusion!
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2011, 04:47:25 PM »


And not only Reformed folks, of course. Many serious revivalists, Pietists and Arminians abhor any concept of cheap grace - a profession of faith not shown to be valid by a changed life.



The combination of this attitude and the OSAS doctrine leads to one of my favorite Southern Baptist phenomenon- when a member of the local church does things that "Christians just don't do" (limited to the Southern Baptist Four Commandments: Thou shalt not drink, thou shalt not cuss, thou shalt not smoke, and thou shalt not dance) one often hears the comment from deacons and church mothers "I don't think they were ever really saved at all." Adultery and shady business practices are forgivable, dancing and drinking are the sin against the Holy Spirit (and in the same vein I believe a hundred "f" words do not measure up to a single sentence of gossip).
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2011, 10:03:24 PM »

That was nice Gebre. However some times I wonder what the point is. I have found (especially on various youtube chats) that many of our Protestant critics simply *HAVE* to believe that we do things like revere Mary above Christ or "earning our salvation". I used to try to debate with them, but they didn't want to hear it. Right now since I am in the middle of a very hard class, trying to finish school, and find a career move, I do not have the time to argue ad nauseum with people who have no desire, and indeed would be distressed, to learn of similarities between our respective beliefs/groups.
Maybe when things calm down, I will make it a point to contend for the truth again.
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« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2011, 06:11:41 AM »

the Southern Baptist Four Commandments: Thou shalt not drink,... thou shalt not smoke, and thou shalt not dance)... "I don't think they were ever really saved at all." Adultery and shady business practices are forgivable, dancing and drinking are the sin against the Holy Spirit

Is this not akin to tithing dill, mint and cumin and disregarding mercy and justice? (I omit "thou shalt not cuss," because I think the scriptures do in fact speak about bad language, and letting our speech always be gracious, 'seasoned with salt'.)

Very few Evangelicals in England smoke (I myself never have), and I think again with good biblical reason, for it is known to be harmful to the wellbeing of the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit 'whom you have within you'. But drinking and dancing? I see nothing in scripture against them. So it seems (from what you say) that there is some inconsistency in my Baptist brethren in that geographical area: one cannot be sola scriptura by conviction, and forbid other people to do things which the scriptures don't forbid. (Deciding not to do them oneself is of course a quite different matter, and falls within the Christian liberty of us all.)
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« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2011, 10:57:30 AM »

I happen to be a former evangelical fudamentalist baptist, whose family (especially my sister & B.I.L.) is still staunchly so. The verse that they use to argue for OSAS is John 10:29. They state that if you can lose your salvation, then your sin is stronger than Jesus' death.

Of course they also say what was stated above, that if you do x ,y, or z then you could not have really been saved....

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« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2011, 11:13:28 AM »

It would be fairly easy (though rather perverse, and I wouldn't do it) to preach a sermon one Sunday morning on eternal security, without doing despite to the plain meaning of the passage or passages I took it from, and then in the evening to preach to the same congregation a stern warning that they, as true believers, might sever themselves from Christ before the end of life's journey and finally be lost - again without doing despite to the plain meaning of the passage or passages I took it from. Is it not better to see mystery in the divine revelation, and unanswered questions?

But if my Southern brethren really say the things y'all say they do (and I do not disbelieve you), they have created a probolem which is not really a serious problem, for serious Christians, Evangelica, Catholic or whatever, have always insisted that true faith leads to progress in holiness and godly living. The real problem lies elsewhere. What about people who profess faith and really do show many signs of true conversion and spiritual life and zeal? who go to Bible college, yield themselves and their futures to sacrificial missionary service in places of hardship or danger - and then, years, perhaps decades, later lose their faith? I do not mean 'lose their faith' in the sense of slowly drifting away from earlier zeal and becoming luke-warm, but really lose their faith? so that they repudiate the Gospel and publicly deny the Faith they once preached? Such a person may perhaps continue to lead an outwardly moral life, for whatever reason, or may take the attitude that as there is no god and no final judgement, he (or she) may as well enjoy the pleasures of sin (real sin, not your "four commandments") for a season and then cease to exist for eternity. This is the kind of person who really presents a theological problem - not the obvious shallow hypocrites whom you (no doubt truthfully) refer to.

The real OSAS person has to deny that there is any possibility of apostasy; he must assert that all those who do as my putative example has were never truly saved. This brings us full circle: the Arminian Christian thinks he might lose his salvation before he dies, so cannot be sure of his part in the age to come, and the Calvinist Christian thinks that there are people who give every appearance to themselves and others of being born of God when they are not really, so he too cannot be sure of his part in the age to come. So what's the difference in the last analysis?

For myself - which I know is a purely personal and not theological statement - I believe I enjoy assurance of present salvation. I am disinclined to peer into a mystery which, in the last analysis, would make no difference to my life, experience or service. But we have had an entire thread on the doctrine and experience of Assurance, so perhaps I have wandered from the point.
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« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2011, 04:08:04 PM »

Nice post, Gebre. Thanks for sharing. One thing that struck me was this part:

Second is fear. Fundamentalists cling to a systematic, legalistic/forensic formula of salvation that leads them to believe they have automatic access to heaven regardless of their actions, lifestyle, or behavior. A debt was owed, the penalty was paid, and those that accept this fact by faith are "saved."

I'm not from an evangelical fundamentalist background (never have), but when I was brought up (in my Catholic faith), the driving point for my faith in my youth years was the fear of hell, more than anything else. I saw sin defined as breaking the Law of God and simply that (had no idea what 'missing the mark' was). I've always wanted to stay off everyone's bad side (especially higher authorities like teachers) no matter what and be good to people. I applied it to me staying of God's bad side so that I could not burn in hell ('Hell' as a place of torment). This seemingly superstitious view terribly affected my psyche even to today as I try shed this view of society and God for a more Biblically accurate and Orthodox view. It was like I wasn't worshiping God out of reverence of Him working my salvation with fear and trembling, but that I was worshiping just to keep me out of hell. As for the societal part, I lost more companions in elementary and middle school (both public, before I went to a Catholic high school) because of this kind of attitude (towards others), I had animosity towards some of my cousins in my younger years because I wanted to be "goody two-shoes", and what's worse is that I wanted to fit in with the behaviors of my peers in middle school just wanted to be accepted as a person (I was a loner and I rarely had friends because they thought that I was goody-two shoes Jade), and those times were the worst (got into fights, lost a crush, etc.)

I don't know if I am to blame for my misfortune, but much of it is orientated towards this "fundamentalist-like" fear of God in my life and that needs to change. This is another reason why I seek to be an Orthodox Christian in my life so that my current state of consciousness is shifted dramatically towards a more reverent and loving view of the Almighty and all His glory.

- GTA

P.S. Sorry if I got off-topic, it's just that what I quoted from Gebre's original post prompted me to share this.
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« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2011, 11:48:56 AM »

I once believed OSAS until further Bible study shown it to be erroneous. It is a dangerous doctrine in that it provides one the ability to sin with no fear of consequence.

One independent church I went to for a while taught it. The pastor divorced, followed by other divorces then through the church. The pastor's teaching, which was radical grace, got to where he taught we'd see Judas in heaven because Jesus picked him as a disciple so he had to be a believer and since he was a believer he couldn't lose his salvation, so we'll see him in heaven. It was the worse hatchet job of scripture I ever heard.

There are consequences to that teaching in providing a license to sin. The example here is that one of the men that attended that church, who evidently had some real issues with women, went into an LA Fitness gym outside of Pittsburgh and shot and killed 9 women and then himself.  This was just 3 years ago. In his journal he wrote that he believed he could do that and go to heaven because OSAS.  That is a radical example, although true,  but it's the logical conclusion of thinking that doctrine through. If you were saved and sealed with the Holy Spirit, and that is unrevokable, then yes you can do whatever you want with no fear of God. He accepts you as you are and that sin was paid for at the cross. It's no wonder it's so well accepted. I think it's one of the doctrines that tickle one's ears that we are warned of.
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« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2011, 11:38:17 PM »

Gebre,

Most of this thread has focused on your rebuttal of OSAS, which I agree with. I'm curious, though, about church authority, especially where you wrote:

Quote
... We must also be careful not to allow the heterodox to dictate the terms, theologically speaking. I have found that it is best to always establish the proper foundation of authority before engaging in doctrinal discussions. There can never be substantive theological agreement when there is a fundamental difference of foundational authority. The Sola Scripturists reject apostolic Teaching and Tradition, (which is ironically unbiblical), and therefore they selectively quote chapter and verse all day long in order to “prove” their doctrinal positions. So, the best thing to do is simply point out to them that their foundation is flawed. Show them that Sola Scriptura is an unbiblical and manmade doctrine, and that unless they accept the authority of the Church then they will never really understand the Scriptures. Politely decline to discuss any other theological issues with them until they accept the proper Christian authority for doctrine and faith.

Did your Orthodox Christian friend tell you what part of apostolic Teaching and Tradition the evangelical disliked and why the evangelical rejected church authority? What did or would you say to convince such an evangelical of the church's authority?
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« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2011, 07:31:29 AM »

Not to be redundant as I believe I/we have covered this before; But I definitely consider Orthodoxy fundamentalist in that it accepts Holy Scripture on its own terms (as we understand it) rather than look for ways to 'prove' it, as with Creation Science.
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« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2011, 11:45:47 AM »

The argument against 'OSAS' using anecdotal evidence about how some person (or people) went on to lead sinful lives, free from worry, is necessarily fallacious. The reason being is that "live how you want" is not a logical conclusion of "eternal security" as it is taught by most evangelical scholars. The 'OSAS' people are familiar with is generally a popularized version and a distortion of the actual belief in eternal security. The belief itself teaches that if one has the Spirit within, then one will produce good works. The good works, therefore, serve as proof that one has faith - they simply believe that once a person is in the Spirit and the Spirit within the person that the deal is sealed and the person will simply continue to grow in Christ (though with some bumps, they call this sanctification).

I don't necessarily adhere to that belief, but I do think in this matter it helps to be fair and not to use logically fallacious arguments to argue against a belief. For instance, I know a man who is extremely involved in the Orthodox Church and is in a position of leadership in his local church who still visits strip clubs. Yet I have many evangelical friends who believe in eternal security, but lead holy lives and don't look for excuses (in fact, some tend to be on the legalistic side). In fact, from my own anecdotal experiences, I've found that many Orthodox tend to be more libertarian in their personal lives and outright nasty in some instances. I've seen them cheat people in business, throw people under the bus in order to get ahead (this happened to me actually), brag about their extra-marital affairs, and so on. Yet, they're in the parish every week and holding positions of authority. Alternatively, I haven't really seen this out of my evangelical friends who are in positions of authority at their churches.

Now, of course the above is all anecdotal so it's in no way an accurate presentation of either belief system. The point I'm making is we can never look to the potential effects of a misinterpretation of a belief. I could easily argue that the typical Orthodox belief in Hades - that we can still come to Christ while in Hades through the prayers of the living - can lead to some living life as they want now thinking they can repent later. And certainly I've run into some who act that way. But is this a necessary conclusion of the traditional Orthodox belief in Hades? Absolutely not. So why bother arguing about the potential effects or negative consequences?

If you're going to argue against eternal security then you're going to have to show how Scripturally and traditionally it's wrong without appealing to potential negative consequences (which are non sequitur to begin with). Otherwise the typical evangelical is simply going to tune you out because, in all honesty, the objection just doesn't work.
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« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2011, 12:18:55 PM »

What we can perhaps never rightly see into is the heart of the person who has sinned. The Bible gives us a number of examples of people who are praised for their walk with God yet who sinned grievously - Noah, Lot, Abraham, David, Manasseh (eventually), Peter - and even the incestuous man in Corinthians was expected to be saved, despite the destruction of his flesh. I am glad that Noah, Lot, Abraham, David, Manasseh, Peter are in the Bible, otherwise what hope would I have of mercy and final salvation? But I think people fall, sometimes seriously, sometimes publicly, sometimes chronically, and yet grieve in their hearts because they are nonetheless children of God, despite their weaknesses, failure and sin. They feel sorrow over having grieved the Spirit, and over their loss of closeness to God. On the other hand, there are those whom you have cited anecdotally who seem to have no remorse or repentance, and use one aspect of a distorted and truncated doctrine as an excuse for their religious hypocrisy and deliberate, happy continuation in sustained sin. We cannot always know which category a fallen person falls into; but the scripture remains: the Lord knows those who are his, and le him who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.

This is not to argue either for or against the doctrine of eternal security as such, but, like the previous post (from Theo), it is a plea for the doctrine itself to be assessed fairly in its entirety and on its own merit, not from the example of some, perhaps many, who abuse or misunderstand it.
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« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2011, 01:00:17 PM »

Just my opinion, but when a fundamentalist is first exposed to Orthodoxy it is going to be just a bit disturbing. OSAS is a nice neat little formula they can box up and set on a shelf to tell themselves they are doing OK with all this God stuff. To hear the concept that they might need to work on salvation til their dying days upsets their comfortable little understanding and there is going to be some very strong emotional reactions to that.

Also, lets face it, I go to one church and they tell me that a little mea-culpa in front of the congregation and a dunk under water is all I need to be "saved" and another church talks about a lifetime of work, There is going to be the tendancy for people to cling to the easier softer path. 
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