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Author Topic: Filtering My Wesleyan Beliefs With Orthodoxy  (Read 2100 times) Average Rating: 0
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Stephanos Nikolaos
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« on: July 26, 2011, 12:10:52 PM »

Hello.

I have a some questions about my Wesleyan beliefs and which of them will have to change and which are compatible with Orthodoxy.

Prevenient Grace: Grace that "goes before" us, is given to all people. It is that power which enables us to love and motivates us to seek a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This grace is the present work of God to turn us from our sin-corrupted human will to the loving will of the Father. In this work, God desires that we might sense both our sinfulness before God and God’s offer of salvation. Prevenient grace allows those tainted by sin to nevertheless make a truly free choice to accept or reject God's salvation in Christ.

Justifying Grace: Grace, offered by God to all people, that we receive by faith and trust in Christ, through which God pardons the believer of sin. It is in justifying grace we are received by God, in spite of our sin. In this reception, we are forgiven through the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The justifying grace cancels our guilt and empowers us to resist the power of sin and to fully love God and neighbor.

Sanctifying Grace: The Grace of God which sustains the believers in the journey toward Christian Perfection: a genuine love of God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and a genuine love of our neighbors as ourselves. Sanctifying grace enables us to respond to God by leading a Spirit-filled and Christ-like life aimed toward love.

Imputed Righteousness: The righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian, enabling the Christian to be justified.

Imparted Righteousness: What God does in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit after justification, working in the Christian to enable and empower the process of sanctification.

Conditional Preservation of the Saints: Believers are kept safe by God in their saving relationship with Him upon the condition of a persevering faith in Christ.

Baptism: The Sacrament of initiation into Christ's holy Church whereby one is incorporated into God's mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the spirit. Baptism washes away sin and clothes one in the righteousness of Christ. Acceptance of sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. Infant Baptism is accepted. Baptism regenerates, but contingent on repentance and personal acceptance of Christ as Savior. Baptize in the Trinity.

Mystery of the Real Presence: "Jesus Christ, who "is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being" (Hebrews 1:3), is truly present in Holy Communion. Through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, God meets us at the Table. God, who has given the sacraments to the church, acts in and through Holy Communion. Christ is present through the community gathered in Jesus' name (Matthew 18:20), through the Word proclaimed and enacted, and through the elements of bread and wine shared (1 Corinthians 11:23–26). The divine presence is a living reality and can be experienced by participants; it is not a remembrance of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion only."

Prima Scriptura: The Holy Bible is the primary authority in the Church and we use sacred tradition, reason, and experience to interpret it, with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 12:48:16 PM »

Where did you get all these definitions?
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Andrew Crook
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2011, 12:57:07 PM »

Hello brother Stephanos,

Welcome to the forum!  I will try to give my understanding about what the Orthodox Church teaches, and others can correct it as they see fit.  

A.) Prevenient Grace --  Grace first and foremost is uncreated, it is of God.  It's not just God's little extra boost.. it's an aspect of his Presence.  We believe that his grace is freely given to all people, and that it is indeed God's will that we turn from our life of sin and being so dominated by our passions.  We should sense our sinfulness, but only to bring healing not guilt.

B.)  Justifying Grace -- Yes we agree that grace is freely given, but it's not so much that God had to win a legal courtroom case for us against the other lawyer who is the Adversary lol.  

C. ) Sanctifying --  We believe this process is called "being saved" or what Paul talked about when he said "I die daily" .  We explain sanctification through the process of theosis where gradually over time, we become a partaker in the divine nature.  We wrap ourselves with the energies of God through the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Charity, Peace, Patience, Courage, etc.)

D.) Imputed Righteousness -- We are not "imputed" or declared, we become actual partakers in God's divine nature.  We are made REALLY righteous.

E.)  Imparted -- We agree, but remember we don't see it in legal terms so much... this theology of the Western church can be traced to Anselm.

F.)  Conditioned Preserveration --  Believers are NOT kept safe, we are NOT eternally secure.  Salvation is not a one-time event, and you may believe in God but that does not mean you will become a better person.  Faith must be accompanied by following the commandments of charity given in the Gospels, and in the Epistles.  "Love one another as I have loved you"

G.)  Baptism -- We mostly agree with that understanding of Baptism, but it should be remembered that an infant can not accept Christ, they will learn about Him over time.  The child will be educated by the Church, for we see the Church as a mother who nurtures her young.

H.)  Mystery of the Real Presence -- We agree that the bread and wine literally become the Body and Blood of Christ, and that it is not merely just a symbol.

I.)  Prima Scriptura -- Remember we accompany the Bible alongside Holy Tradition, but the Bible does not "trump" Tradition.. I believe they are equal.  The Bible is Scripture, and the Traditions of the Church Fathers are merely commentary.  We can learn a lot from the Church Fathers regardless, on how they lived, and what their thoughts were.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 12:59:25 PM by AveChriste11 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2011, 01:46:32 PM »

Thank you AveChriste for those perspectives.

Where did you get all these definitions?

I have used the definitions from wikipedia, but affirmed them from the Church of the Nazarene, the United Methodist Church, and my personal studies within Wesleyanism (I became a Wesleyan before I joined a church) to ensure that they aligned with Wesleyan teachings in the Methodist Church. And most of those definitions are sourced from the Methodist Church itself, the one on the Eucharist is actually specifically word for word from the Methodist teaching.

Thanks for the help so far, hope to hear from more whether it be questions or more clarifications on the Orthodox positions.

Nicholas.
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 05:24:54 PM »

it should be remembered that an infant can not accept Christ
Oh?
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 05:28:23 PM »

it should be remembered that an infant can not accept Christ
Oh?
St. John the Baptist anyone?

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 06:19:43 PM »

it should be remembered that an infant can not accept Christ
Oh?
St. John the Baptist anyone?

In Christ,
Andrew

Could you clarify, please?
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 06:29:00 PM »

it should be remembered that an infant can not accept Christ
Oh?
St. John the Baptist anyone?

In Christ,
Andrew

Could you clarify, please?
Luke 1. He lept in the womb at the Annunciation. Orthodoxy teaches that children aren't exempt from grace regardless of their understanding, hence why we baptize and commune them. Smiley

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2011, 06:35:44 PM »

it should be remembered that an infant can not accept Christ
Oh?
St. John the Baptist anyone?

In Christ,
Andrew



Could you clarify, please?
Luke 1. He lept in the womb at the Annunciation. Orthodoxy teaches that children aren't exempt from grace regardless of their understanding, hence why we baptize and commune them. Smiley

In Christ,
Andrew

Thanks. I had never thought of that before.
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2011, 06:53:33 PM »

Even the rocks can accept Christ.
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2011, 06:56:41 PM »

Hehe, well this has gotten off-topic lol, I guess all of AveChriste's positions are fine except that infants can accept Christ?
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2011, 07:00:27 PM »

John Wesley was deeply influenced by the Orthodox Church Fathers. The Wesleyan idea of Christian perfection is a Wesleyanized version of theosis.
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2011, 08:11:24 PM »

John Wesley may have been consecrated by Erasmus of Arcadia, a man whom he believed as an Orthodox bishop.

http://www.faithexperience.com/2010/08/methodist-mysteries-erasmus-of-arcadia/
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« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2011, 09:33:17 PM »

Sorry everyone.

"G.)  Baptism -- We mostly agree with that understanding of Baptism, but it should be remembered that an infant can not accept Christ, they will learn about Him over time.  The child will be educated by the Church, for we see the Church as a mother who nurtures her young."

I see the way I wrote that wasn't very clear.  What I was trying to convey was that an infant is not capable of saying the Sinner's Prayer,  "Dear Jesus I know I am a sinner and in need of your Salvation, I receive you today as the Lord of my Life.. please come into my heart from here on out and forever.  Live yourself through me."    Being from a Baptist background, that's why they didn't baptize infants -- because they couldn't understand that baptism has the power to restore man to his original nature that was intended by God, "Be baptized for the remission of sins". 

I in no way was meaning to imply that the Grace imparted through the sacrament of Baptism was not available to infants.  I merely meant to say that an infant as he does not know how to speak, can not make a public confession in Christ.  But the Church teaches him over time about who Christ is, and how to follow him and obey his commandments.

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« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2011, 03:30:28 PM »

hey!
i just found out that john wesley read lots of orthodox church fathers.
i am adding a link about it as some of this may help us to better explain orthodox Christianity to protestants.

this is a long 'summary' (over 40 pages) on the orthodox influences on john wesley, but it is very interesting, so maybe someone here will also find it interesting.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/21551512/John-Wesley-Eastern-Orthodoxy
it is written by a methodist professor of theology in usa, who is interestingly very open to certain orthodox traditions and practices.

i have been critised by my (mainly calvinist) protestant friends and relatives for claiming that there are lots of orthodox doctrines i 'always believed in' and that i did not change so much to become orthodox. now i see i was right, as i certainly heard many methodist sermons in childhood (having gone from atheism to methodist to then try most of the other protestant denominations) and the methodists were not calvinists like many Christians in the baptist and evangelical churches. for example, the gradual work to achieve a holier state (called 'theosis' by the orthodox) and the importance of Holy Communion were things i believed in from an early age.
(i was one of those annoying kids who would notice when the speaker said 'verse 15' by mistake instead of 'verse 16'!)

it's only a shame the church i attended as a child was lead by a man who did not believe in the existence of the devil and hell, and was populated by strange-smelling old ladies who said annoying things like, 'i'm sure you must love school' (i didn't) and, 'goodness haven't you grown!' (or are all churches like this?!)

so it seems methodists are closer than we thought to correct theology, may God lead them closer!
 Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2011, 04:25:09 PM »



so it seems methodists are closer than we thought to correct theology, may God lead them closer!
 Smiley
Closer than who thought Smiley? I came from a Methodist background (Free Methodist denomination). As soon as I came across the word "theosis", I recognized it immediately as Wesley's doctrine of Entire Sanctification. Given that several other things also fell into place quite quickly, it was easy to feel at home with Orthodox theology.

Unfortunately, too many members of Wesleyan/Methodist churches know little about Wesleyan theology. Many local churches and their members have slid into the generic mildly Calvinistic evangelicalism.
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« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2011, 04:36:38 PM »

ok, closer than me, my protestant friends, the methodists i knew as a kid, the orthodox people i know who don't know much about protestants...
i was really surprised to find out! i hope more methodists (and others) find the depth they seek in orthodoxy.
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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2011, 05:10:21 PM »

ok, closer than me, my protestant friends, the methodists i knew as a kid, the orthodox people i know who don't know much about protestants...
i was really surprised to find out! i hope more methodists (and others) find the depth they seek in orthodoxy.
Did you notice my last line in my previous post? That Wesleyan theology is growing rare even in those denominations that have been historically Methodist. Sad, but true. So really, I'm not at all surprised that you knew nothing about the connection between John Wesley and Orthodoxy.

I knew I was one of a dying breed - I didn't like leaving a church where I had spent 50 years, but.... Oh, yes, there are some good scholars out there, but it rarely filters through to ordinary members of local congregations.
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« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2011, 07:21:38 PM »

i just found out that john wesley read lots of orthodox church fathers.
i am adding a link about it as some of this may help us to better explain orthodox Christianity to protestants.

this is a long 'summary' (over 40 pages) on the orthodox influences on john wesley, but it is very interesting, so maybe someone here will also find it interesting.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/21551512/John-Wesley-Eastern-Orthodoxy
it is written by a methodist professor of theology in usa, who is interestingly very open to certain orthodox traditions and practices.

Thanks for posting that link, Mabsoota.  The paper is written "for: Albert Outler" who edited a book of Wesley's writing found here.  The collection, recommended by an inquiring Methodist minister on this forum, highlights Wesley's knowledge of and attempt to adhere to the teachings of the Fathers.

Like others have mentioned though, most Methodist churches and adherents have unfortunately wandered far from the teachings of John Wesley.  Those realizing this divergence may be more apt to accept the seemingly strong correlations, but let's hope and pray to bring them into the Church.
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« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2011, 05:48:10 AM »

Imputed Righteousness: The righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian, enabling the Christian to be justified.

Baptism: ...whereby one is incorporated into God's mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the spirit.

I have been reading Wesley and many other Methodist writings since the mid-1960s, and I would be surprised if Wesleyan teaching includes imputed righteousness or baptismal regeneration. I would have thought that Wesley taught that righeousness is imparted, and that the new birth requires faith.
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« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2011, 05:51:34 AM »

Wesleyan theology is growing rare even in those denominations that have been historically Methodist. Sad, but true. ... I knew I was one of a dying breed

My case almost exactly, though I did come to believe also in believers' rather than infant baptism. But it was mainly the drift from Evangelical teachings in the denomination that drove me out of Methodism in 1965. But like Sangster (whom I have quoted before) I still "love the church that nurtured me in holy things" and am always happy to preach in Methodist pulpits when invited.
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« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2011, 06:48:57 PM »

Wesleyan theology is growing rare even in those denominations that have been historically Methodist. Sad, but true. ... I knew I was one of a dying breed

My case almost exactly, though I did come to believe also in believers' rather than infant baptism. But it was mainly the drift from Evangelical teachings in the denomination that drove me out of Methodism in 1965. But like Sangster (whom I have quoted before) I still "love the church that nurtured me in holy things" and am always happy to preach in Methodist pulpits when invited.

Being from the UK, how did you get into being a preacher?  There's not many religious people in the UK last time I checked, at least that are "Christians" anyways..
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« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2011, 03:56:15 PM »

 Shocked
this comes under the category of 'sweeping generalisation', e.g. 'all americans have heart disease', 'all russians drink a lot of vodka' etc. etc.
last time I checked, there were millions of religious people in the uk!
 Wink
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2011, 09:57:43 PM »

Shocked
this comes under the category of 'sweeping generalisation', e.g. 'all americans have heart disease', 'all russians drink a lot of vodka' etc. etc.
last time I checked, there were millions of religious people in the uk!
 Wink

Sure there are, I hear they're not English though.  Cheesy If you know where I'm going with this one..
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« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2011, 03:36:16 PM »

well, i know a lot of native english people who are Christian.
even some of my friends are british (they are not all egyptian, he he he!)
some british people are even orthodox!
e.g. the BRITISH orthodox church.

we do also welcome the african, asian and other Christians who encourage us not to submit to the rising tide of secularism and atheism.
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« Reply #25 on: October 20, 2011, 03:48:49 PM »

well, i know a lot of native english people who are Christian.
...
I hear there's even an "anglican" church, with a few parishes here and there.
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« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2011, 04:28:24 PM »

well, i know a lot of native english people who are Christian.
...
I hear there's even an "anglican" church, with a few parishes here and there.

wow, now i have heard everything!  laugh
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