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Author Topic: What is "The Gospel" to Orthodox Christians? *LONG post/story/rant*  (Read 11745 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 17, 2011, 10:39:02 PM »

Lately I've been watching many Youtube videos from this man Chris White, who goes on YouTube by the name of Knowwheretorun1984. He is a highly skilled Evangelical Christian apologist who is well versed in end time prophecy and conspiracy theories (interests of mine),as well as refutations of New Age and occult practices of the current era.

I posted a thread recently where I linked to his video about 2012, and in it he elaborated on how he believes that in the end times the Antichrist will deceive the established churches (ie, Catholic and Orthodox) into believing the Antichrist. I recently Youtube messaged him. This is what I sent to him.

"Hello Chris,

First off I would like to say that I think that your videos are very interesting and many of them I enjoy very much. Today I watched your 2012 "enlightenment" videos, and I came across the claim you made where you said that the institutional churches will accept this supposed Christ and that the Bible is wrong. By this do you mean that all Catholic and Orthodox leaders are not true Christians? Do you think that no Catholic or Orthodox is a true Christian? If so, what are the marks of a true Christian?
"

This is the audio response that he sent me. Please listen to it before replying, as he makes claims about the Orthodox Church specifically.
http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheretorun/email/New%20folder/malive.mp3

In response, this is what I wrote to him.

"Thanks for replying, I cant say I agree with everything you have said, but I do thank you for replying.

There are a couple points that I would like to raise.

The main reason that Catholics and Orthodox don't stress a single conversion experience is because that it wasnt really taught in the early church fathers. The majority of ancient fathers interpreted the discourse on rebirth with Jesus and Nicodemus as referring to baptism. Catholics and Orthodox (Orthodox especially)stress "daily" conversion experiences, saying that one should die to themselves every day. You see the single conversion experience logic arising out of the Great Awakening era in Christian history.

Lets put it like this. One is born a Christian, baptized as a baby, raised by his parents and his clergy in the tenets of the faith. He lives a truly Christian life, trust in Christ for his salvation, and truly has deeds to show for it. Is he not a Christian just because he never had an initial conversion experience?

Another point I would like to raise is that of the penal satisfaction theory of Christ's atonement that you mentioned.

The more you study Christian history the more you see that there are several different "theories" on what Christ's salvific work on the cross accomplished. Some, however, arose later than others. Penal satisfaction (that is, the idea that God poured out his wrath on Christ as he suffered on the cross)is one of those "late-comers". You see references to a "substitutionary" element in the Bible and the Fathers (especially Augustine), but it was truly elaborated upon in the 11th century by Archbishop of Canterbury Anselm. It was then developed even more by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. I myself believe that no theory on what happened on the cross can truly explain it in full.

Here is a good article on the atonement and the many different viewpoints of the early Christians, from an Orthodox point of view:
http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A.php?c=Salvation-The%20Atonement

And on interpreting the Bible allegorically, I think there are many passages in the Bible which could be interpreted as allegory, but when it comes to the life and teachings of Christ, there is no room for compromise. If someone comes along and claims that Christ was only one of many who reached a certain "Christ consciousness", and that that someone is that consciousness in the flesh, I highly doubt anyone in the Orthodox and Catholic camps will believe that, as its basically separating the Jesus from the Christ, which is exactly what Nestorius (condemned as a heretic by the Council of Ephesus)did. And even if many high-level ecumenist Orthodox and Catholic leaders accept this, I am almost certain that many monks, humble laity, clergy, and other bishops will never fall for it.

Thank you again for responding. I hope we can continue this discussion, and I hope you will reply again soon.
"

I'm sure it was an alright response, but Im not even sure if I meant what I've said. I read Volnutt's new thread yesterday and I am in his EXACT position. I have trained myself to think that the Orthodox view of Christianity is the correct view, without actually examining it in the Bible and actually reading the Fathers myself. To quote Volnutt, in my response to Chris I spit out the "pop-Orthodox apologetic", honestly without even understanding what I was saying.

Back to my main point, what Chris stressed most in his audio response, for those of you who listened to it have heard, is "the Gospel". He blatantly said that Orthodox Christians do not teach "the Gospel", which in his view is penal satisfaction/substitution; that God needed to punish sinners, and he instead gave us His Son, who was crucified, being punished in our place so God's wrath could be satisfied, and that if we believe in faith that Jesus died for our sins, and if we truly repent, we are saved.

A simple look at the Bible for any person can show that THIS is the message of salvation preached in the Bible. The Bible says clearly that the penalty for sin is death. Yes Jesus broke death in his resurrection, but it was in his death that he paid the penalty.

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified. Where is the simple message of salvation that the Bible seems to teach in Orthodoxy? Whatever happened to "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"? Why does understanding Orthodoxy require so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology, whatever; why has Orthodoxy made a science out of the simple Gospel message that should be understood by any five year old?

In my heart I have known for a while that the Bible (the way I see it at least) and Orthodoxy don't seem to match up in my eyes. I WANT to believe Orthodoxy is true, I really do. I have seen so much beauty and wonderful tradition in Orthodoxy, I really want to believe its right. Maybe that's what it has come to, what I MYSELF want. I want liturgy, smells and bells, chanting, tradition, ancient-ness, history, etc; but is that what GOD wants for me? Honestly, I really dont know. Its hard for me to hear the voice of God.

Maybe I need to talk to a priest, visit a church, sit in on a catechism class, maybe read through a catechism myself. But as for now, I just cant see the message of Orthodox salvation matching up with the Gospel that is preached in the Bible.

So, after my rant, maybe I have it all wrong. If I do, tell me, what is "the Gospel" to an Orthodox? And is it really the Gospel that is preached in the Bible?

PS- I know that some of the things I have said seem very judgemental and critical of Orthodoxy. That is not what I intend. I am truly struggling with this.
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2011, 10:54:00 PM »

Why would God punish the sinner and not the sin?
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2011, 11:39:16 PM »

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified. Where is the simple message of salvation that the Bible seems to teach in Orthodoxy? Whatever happened to "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"? Why does understanding Orthodoxy require so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology, whatever; why has Orthodoxy made a science out of the simple Gospel message that should be understood by any five year old?

Sure sign of too much time with hyper / netodox.

Quote
The Orthodox Gospel Sung Joyfully by the Theotokos:

Luke 1:46-55
New King James Version (NKJV)
  
46 And Mary said:

      “ My soul magnifies the Lord,
       47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
       48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
      For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
       49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
      And holy is His name.
       50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
      From generation to generation.
       51 He has shown strength with His arm;
      He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
       52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
      And exalted the lowly.
       53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
      And the rich He has sent away empty.
       54 He has helped His servant Israel,
      In remembrance of His mercy,
       55 As He spoke to our fathers,
      To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

The Orthodox Gospel Sung with Joy by 5 year olds to 95 year olds with joy unimaginable in small parish in Cincinnati:

Quote
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

Go through Lent, Holy Week, and arrive at Pascha.

And tell me you really have to nerd out to understand all this. In fact, all that nerd stuff will feel foolish in the celebration. I am a cynical ass and thought for sure Pascha would be corny.

It wasn't. As my buddy said with no irony, none, looking at me with sincerity: This is better than Christmas.

Can we bring that Lenten to Paschal movement everyday into our lives, especially from Great Vespers to the Divine Liturgy?

The last enemy is destroyed! We are free! If we are willing to die to ourselves and the world. It's that last part that is the one we don't want. The kicker.

Spend time with a Priest who will knock the Philokalia right out of you. Are you following the Decalog? How about the Sermon on the Mount?

Five years olds seem to understand that stuff and I won't romanticize and say they "do it" better, but they sure seem to has less trouble accepting it. Or getting side tracked by everything we do.

Hope that is helpful.

I too want to tear my hair at times over the minutia. But why am I engaging it in the first place? Cause I want to avoid the dead simplicity. I would rather think and rant than pray and act.

FWIW.

 





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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2011, 11:42:28 PM »

Here's my problem with this evangelical. He references the Council of Ephesus, Nestorious as a heretic, references some Church fathers etc, but doesn't that honestly beg the question on the actual Church of Christ? There are quite a number of Orthodox on this board who were thorougly convinced of the historical backing of the Orthodox Church and seeing it had a direct apostolic continuation and the Church was unified up until a few schisms. It almost sounds like the Church cannot be trusted, which is why we see think tanks like the Jesus Seminar come to prominence.

This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards. The Church existed before the Bible and by the Church's tradition came the 27 books of the NT. This is undisputable. If the Church had no tradition to fall back on, how else would it select 4 Gospels instead of the many other "Gospels" out there?

The Church authored, interprets, discerns, etc the Bible. The Bible can only be placed in one context: The Church. Outside of that, it has no foundation whatsoever.
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 11:47:33 PM »

Here's my problem with this evangelical. He references the Council of Ephesus, Nestorious as a heretic, references some Church fathers etc, but doesn't that honestly beg the question on the actual Church of Christ? There are quite a number of Orthodox on this board who were thorougly convinced of the historical backing of the Orthodox Church and seeing it had a direct apostolic continuation and the Church was unified up until a few schisms. It almost sounds like the Church cannot be trusted, which is why we see think tanks like the Jesus Seminar come to prominence.

This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards. The Church existed before the Bible and by the Church's tradition came the 27 books of the NT. This is undisputable. If the Church had no tradition to fall back on, how else would it select 4 Gospels instead of the many other "Gospels" out there?

The Church authored, interprets, discerns, etc the Bible. The Bible can only be placed in one context: The Church. Outside of that, it has no foundation whatsoever.

I was the one who mentioned Nestorius. The italic is my writing. For HIS response to my initial question, I posted a link to an audio response he made.
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 11:53:34 PM »

Here's my problem with this evangelical. He references the Council of Ephesus, Nestorious as a heretic, references some Church fathers etc, but doesn't that honestly beg the question on the actual Church of Christ? There are quite a number of Orthodox on this board who were thorougly convinced of the historical backing of the Orthodox Church and seeing it had a direct apostolic continuation and the Church was unified up until a few schisms. It almost sounds like the Church cannot be trusted, which is why we see think tanks like the Jesus Seminar come to prominence.

This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards. The Church existed before the Bible and by the Church's tradition came the 27 books of the NT. This is undisputable. If the Church had no tradition to fall back on, how else would it select 4 Gospels instead of the many other "Gospels" out there?

The Church authored, interprets, discerns, etc the Bible. The Bible can only be placed in one context: The Church. Outside of that, it has no foundation whatsoever.

I was the one who mentioned Nestorius. The italic is my writing. For HIS response to my initial question, I posted a link to an audio response he made.

Ah gotcha, sorry I jumped over the link and saw the second italic an went off that. I'll check the audio later tonight/tomorrow.

Again sorry for my terrible reading comprehension.

EDIT: Some of that response was for Volnutt too.
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 11:57:48 PM »

I will try to answer more in depth later. For now I will only respond to your comments about the Orthodox view of salvation being more complex than the Evangelical idea:

I strongly disagree. The Orthodox view of salvation is very simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. [Acts 16:13] Evangelicals take this statement and turn it into to a forensic adjudication, a moment in linear time, a rationalistic syllogism, and a systematic formula. But Orthodoxy does not complicate the matter.

The Gospel is simple: Christ died for sinners (I Peter 3:18), He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4), and He established His apostolic Church (St. Matthew 16:18). Therefore we must cling to the Cross, trust in the Resurrection, and participate in the sacramental life of His Church. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), feeling secure in the unfailing mercy of God (Psalm 136) and offering this grace to all the world (Revelation 22:17).

It is also worth noting that we Orthodox affirm the simplicity of Our Lord's words. When Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," [St. John 6:53] we do not seek to interpret His words according to our mortal logic; we accept what He says with simple faith.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.


Selam
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2011, 12:09:57 AM »

I'm sure it was an alright response, but Im not even sure if I meant what I've said. I read Volnutt's new thread yesterday and I am in his EXACT position. I have trained myself to think that the Orthodox view of Christianity is the correct view, without actually examining it in the Bible and actually reading the Fathers myself.

So read the Fathers. Seriously.

With where you are at right now, anything that one of us could fit into a message board post is likely to come across as 'pop-Orthodox apologetic'--not that I think you are asking in bad faith, that's just the way it is.

Go read some of the basic Patristic texts--St. Ignatius' Letter's, St. Cyprian's 'on the Unity of the Catholic Church' and above all St. Athanasius 'On the Incarnation.' These are all available in fairly cheap editions--or if you can't afford that but are willing to put up with a slightly old-fashioned translation they are available for free online (see, for example, http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html).

The core of the Orthodox faith is very simple--you could just quote John 1:1-14  (or the Nicene creed) and you've got it. There are plenty of Orthodox faithful and Orthodox saints who were illiterate--understanding Orthodoxy does *not* require "so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology,"--that's the Sola Scriptura folks who close the door on anyone who doesn't meet a minimum education level.  

But Orthodoxy has had 2000 years for some very smart and very spiritual people to meditate on all the implications of those amazing words "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. "--and to seek to share their insights. For those who are capable of using it (and more important *ready* to use it), that meat (cf. Heb 5:12-14) is an incredible treasury. But if you're confused, it's because you are trying to climb into those heights without having built the foundation first. So go to Liturgy, listen to the hymns and the psalms and the scripture readings which go together in a seamless flow. Go home and read 'On the Incarnation.' It will help.
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2011, 12:26:27 AM »

Or to answer you even more simply - the Gospel:
"Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3



But the thing is, when you are talking about 'knowing' the Infinite God, there is always more to know. A five year old knows Jesus, and that's a perfect example of the Gospel. But the 5-year old doesn't just freeze their knowledge at that point. It continues to grow and deepen throughout the Christian life to whatever level one is capable of.


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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2011, 12:29:15 AM »

Quote
This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards.

This is true.  When I first realized this, it made me feel so much better about not calling myself a protestant anymore.  Maybe Im wrong, but I dont think the Bible was ever designed to be a catechism for the Christian faith.  It doesnt clearly instruct us on how to do every little thing.

Scripture can definitely seem like it contradicts itself from time to time.  The whole reason we are even having this discussion is because even salvation itself can be interpreted different ways. On one page, it says to 'believe and you will be saved'.  On another page, it says 'faith without works is dead', or 'work out your salvation'. Both sides have an adequate amount of scripture to back up their points.  THIS is why tradition is SO important.  The Tradition predates the Bible.  And the Bible is best understood within the context of that Tradition.  

This is how I understand it, but I could be wrong.  If I am, let me know.
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2011, 12:48:37 AM »

Quote
This whole idea to fact check the Church against what the Bible says is completely backwards.

This is true.  When I first realized this, it made me feel so much better about not calling myself a protestant anymore.  Maybe Im wrong, but I dont think the Bible was ever designed to be a catechism for the Christian faith.  It doesnt clearly instruct us on how to do every little thing.

Scripture can definitely seem like it contradicts itself from time to time.  The whole reason we are even having this discussion is because even salvation itself can be interpreted different ways. On one page, it says to 'believe and you will be saved'.  On another page, it says 'faith without works is dead', or 'work out your salvation'. Both sides have an adequate amount of scripture to back up their points.  THIS is why tradition is SO important.  The Tradition predates the Bible.  And the Bible is best understood within the context of that Tradition.  

This is how I understand it, but I could be wrong.  If I am, let me know.


Excellent points.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDezrybpuO8&feature=player_embedded

Selam
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2011, 02:02:03 AM »

I will try to answer more in depth later. For now I will only respond to your comments about the Orthodox view of salvation being more complex than the Evangelical idea:

I strongly disagree. The Orthodox view of salvation is very simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. [Acts 16:13] Evangelicals take this statement and turn it into to a forensic adjudication, a moment in linear time, a rationalistic syllogism, and a systematic formula. But Orthodoxy does not complicate the matter.

The Gospel is simple: Christ died for sinners (I Peter 3:18), He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4), and He established His apostolic Church (St. Matthew 16:18). Therefore we must cling to the Cross, trust in the Resurrection, and participate in the sacramental life of His Church. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), feeling secure in the unfailing mercy of God (Psalm 136) and offering this grace to all the world (Revelation 22:17).

It is also worth noting that we Orthodox affirm the simplicity of Our Lord's words. When Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," [St. John 6:53] we do not seek to interpret His words according to our mortal logic; we accept what He says with simple faith.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.

Selam


I would go one step further and claim it is not simplly the complication of the gospel that they are guilty of, but the intellectualization of it, which I think is just as tragic, if not more so.


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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2011, 02:06:39 AM »

I will try to answer more in depth later. For now I will only respond to your comments about the Orthodox view of salvation being more complex than the Evangelical idea:

I strongly disagree. The Orthodox view of salvation is very simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. [Acts 16:13] Evangelicals take this statement and turn it into to a forensic adjudication, a moment in linear time, a rationalistic syllogism, and a systematic formula. But Orthodoxy does not complicate the matter.

The Gospel is simple: Christ died for sinners (I Peter 3:18), He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4), and He established His apostolic Church (St. Matthew 16:18). Therefore we must cling to the Cross, trust in the Resurrection, and participate in the sacramental life of His Church. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), feeling secure in the unfailing mercy of God (Psalm 136) and offering this grace to all the world (Revelation 22:17).

It is also worth noting that we Orthodox affirm the simplicity of Our Lord's words. When Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," [St. John 6:53] we do not seek to interpret His words according to our mortal logic; we accept what He says with simple faith.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.

Selam


I would go one step further and claim it is not simplly the complication of the gospel that they are guilty of, but the intellectualization of it, which I think is just as tragic, if not more so.



Too much rationalism for me. I'd like to live out what I feel is a simple faith.
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2011, 03:31:47 AM »

I will try to answer more in depth later. For now I will only respond to your comments about the Orthodox view of salvation being more complex than the Evangelical idea:

I strongly disagree. The Orthodox view of salvation is very simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. [Acts 16:13] Evangelicals take this statement and turn it into to a forensic adjudication, a moment in linear time, a rationalistic syllogism, and a systematic formula. But Orthodoxy does not complicate the matter.

The Gospel is simple: Christ died for sinners (I Peter 3:18), He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:4), and He established His apostolic Church (St. Matthew 16:18). Therefore we must cling to the Cross, trust in the Resurrection, and participate in the sacramental life of His Church. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), feeling secure in the unfailing mercy of God (Psalm 136) and offering this grace to all the world (Revelation 22:17).

It is also worth noting that we Orthodox affirm the simplicity of Our Lord's words. When Christ said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you," [St. John 6:53] we do not seek to interpret His words according to our mortal logic; we accept what He says with simple faith.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.

Selam


I would go one step further and claim it is not simplly the complication of the gospel that they are guilty of, but the intellectualization of it, which I think is just as tragic, if not more so.



Too much rationalism for me. I'd like to live out what I feel is a simple faith.

Ya there is plenty of room in Odoxy to live the simple faith, and plenty of room to grow in knowledge and wisdom as well for those who seek it as well.
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2011, 07:17:00 AM »

The Good News Christ proclaimed was not "God is going to punish me, and here is the theory behind it" but "repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."

Living the way of Christ, following Him, is the message He preached. If we truly follow Him, we follow Him to a cross; scripture speaks of two crosses: His and ours. We follow Him to the Church He established before He ascended. If we seek with all our heart we may find Him, receive of His body and blood, and become partakers of His divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).

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in my humble opinion, it is not Orthodox but rather Protestants that are guilty of complicating the Gospel.
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2011, 09:20:56 AM »

Back to my main point, what Chris stressed most in his audio response, for those of you who listened to it have heard, is "the Gospel". He blatantly said that Orthodox Christians do not teach "the Gospel", which in his view is penal satisfaction/substitution; that God needed to punish sinners, and he instead gave us His Son, who was crucified, being punished in our place so God's wrath could be satisfied, and that if we believe in faith that Jesus died for our sins, and if we truly repent, we are saved.

I apologize in advance, I wasn't able to open the link but will comment on this.

This "gospel" leaves little to no room for the resurrection to mean anything. The reason "anyone" can find this in scripture is because anyone can find anything they want in scripture and many people are ta ught that the scripture says nothing but this, that is why it is so "easy to find" and "clear". The reason that we have "complicated" the gospel (which we really haven't, just listen to the entire anaphora in the liturgy, it's not very long and pretty simple) is because we are trying to use human words to affirm and express a divine reality and also in response to errors that have come up over the centuries. The Gospel isn't a theory, it's (literally) God in the flesh being brutally tortured and bled to death on a cross, being raised from the dead, ascending into heaven, and coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead. By being united to Him in His suffering and death and being conformed to Him, we inherit His life that He offers us.
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2011, 09:35:44 AM »

Too much rationalism for me. I'd like to live out what I feel is a simple faith.

Nothing simpler than an illiterate grandmother or child just lighting a candle and receiving the Eucharist.
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« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2011, 01:25:44 AM »

Too much rationalism for me. I'd like to live out what I feel is a simple faith.

Nothing simpler than an illiterate grandmother or child just lighting a candle and receiving the Eucharist.
lol that's not what I mean.

I feel that Christianity at it's core is very simple in how one should live their lives. You can complicate that with all kinds of theology, fine, but I think the Gospel is pretty clear and simple to me. It becomes hard when you have to conform with what it says...
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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2011, 11:46:35 AM »

It becomes hard when you have to conform with what it says...

Excellent! And so true...
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2011, 04:25:20 PM »

Thanks for all the replies everyone. Some stuff just still doesnt add up to me.

For example, when I read Romans chapter 3, it says that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. To me Orthodox theosis and the idea that one must be fully sanctified to be really saved sounds like earning one's way into heaven. I actually saw a video where an Orthodox monk said specifically that the point of this life is to "earn" the next. Romans chapter 3 says that we cant earn salvation though, because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Romans 3 also says that Christ's blood is propitiation for our sins. The OSB study note on this verse compares the word "propitiation" to the ancient Jewish practice, where the high priest would offer up an animal and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat to atone for the sins of Israel. The note said that Christ, through his ascension to heaven (the real mercy seat), is our propitiation(paraphrased of course). That to me sounds a LOT like penal satisfaction.

Also, the St. Paul does say that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin", and compares Christ to the OT sacrifices. Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins? Why then wouldn't Christ's sacrifice (which is so often compared to the OT system of sacrifice)be the same?

Does not the Anaphora in the DL imply some sort of propitiation?
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« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2011, 04:30:54 PM »

Does not the Anaphora in the DL imply some sort of propitiation?

Which part??
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2011, 08:51:53 PM »

I could be wrong, but I think when you hear people mention "works" in regard to salvation, its different than when the Bible mentions "works of the law."  I think that means all of the old jewish traditions and stuff.   Maybe you know that already though...

I know this sounds cliche, but what about the other verses that mention works?  Thats why I mentioned the importance of understanding the scriptures within the context of the Church's Tradition. The Orthodox church has understood it this way since the beginning, and they were founded during the time that all this stuff was written.  I think they had a better understanding than the more modern Christians. 

And also, Im not sure that even the Orthodox believe that you are saved based on the merit of your works.  You are saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.  The works are evidence of that faith.  How can you have real faith and not do good works?  If you dont do good works, maybe you dont really have faith....

I may be wrong, so you can feel free to completely ignore this... heck, im not even Orthodox yet.  Ha!
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« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2011, 08:53:06 PM »

Thanks for all the replies everyone. Some stuff just still doesnt add up to me.

For example, when I read Romans chapter 3, it says that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. To me Orthodox theosis and the idea that one must be fully sanctified to be really saved sounds like earning one's way into heaven. I actually saw a video where an Orthodox monk said specifically that the point of this life is to "earn" the next.
I know the video you're talking about, I think the subtitles are badly translated from the Romanian by someone who doesn't speak English well. The words meant might have been "attain to" or "arrive at" or even "be worthy of" which are all Biblical expressions.

Either way, I know what you struggle about because I've been through it as well. I think the problem is what I've come to call, "salvation as a math problem." I can't count how many times I've heard something like, "if you add even one ounce of your own free will effort to your salvation, then you believe you earn your salvation. You have something to boast about. Salvation is God's effort 120%."

But if that choice itself is even a gift of God, how can I truly boast? To use a friend's analogy, if I win that race, it's only because God gave me a rocket belt. Orthodoxy does not believe in salvation by works, only in saying to Jesus, "I want to follow you, give me the strength and I'll walk with you as best I can, Lord." He leads us step by step, but He also gives us the choice to give up, to not follow Him. Maybe I'm naive, but to me it just doesn't seem meaningful to say someone has room to boast just because they didn't spit Jesus out of their mouth and stop trying. God picks us up, God carries us, and God will save us in the end. We just have to extend our hand like the beggar we are, to keep showing up.


Look at the icon of the Descent into Hades. Look how Jesus takes Adam and Eve, all humanity, not by the hand but by the wrist. We can only follow Him because He is keeping our legs working.

Synergeia is not 1+1, God's works and ours. That's like saying the Trinity is three gods because 1+1+1=3.

I hope I've been a help.
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2011, 09:31:20 PM »

For example, when I read Romans chapter 3, it says that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

The "works of the law" means primarily being being circumcised, eating kosher, performing the Jewish sacrafices, etc... all the stuff that Christ abolished on the cross. We are saved by our faith in Christ, not by the animals that we offer up or an aversion to pork and shellfish.

Quote
To me Orthodox theosis and the idea that one must be fully sanctified to be really saved sounds like earning one's way into heaven.

It just means that we must be conformed to Christ by the power of the Holuy Spirit.

Quote
I actually saw a video where an Orthodox monk said specifically that the point of this life is to "earn" the next.

Christ Himself used a lot of language that included words like "reward".

Quote
Romans chapter 3 says that we cant earn salvation though, because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".

Jesus said "without Me you can do nothing". It doesn't mean we don't have to do anything, only that it is in Him that anything is really accomplished and without Him nothing counts. God doesn't "owe" anyone anything.

Quote
Romans 3 also says that Christ's blood is propitiation for our sins. The OSB study note on this verse compares the word "propitiation" to the ancient Jewish practice, where the high priest would offer up an animal and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat to atone for the sins of Israel. The note said that Christ, through his ascension to heaven (the real mercy seat), is our propitiation(paraphrased of course). That to me sounds a LOT like penal satisfaction.

It just means that our salvation is accomplished by Christ's death and resurrection.

Quote
Also, the St. Paul does say that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin", and compares Christ to the OT sacrifices. Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins? Why then wouldn't Christ's sacrifice (which is so often compared to the OT system of sacrifice)be the same?

Nope. The OT offerings weren't magic where you sinnded and then just made an offering to make your sins go away. God desired mercy, repentence, and a heart that loves Him in the OT. Without these, God would reject their offerings.

Quote
Does not the Anaphora in the DL imply some sort of propitiation?

"Propitiation" doesn't mean "punishment", it just means that Christ's death and resurrection is what reconciles us to God.

Some links where I have written more thoughts about some of this stuff -

http://openthoumylips.blogspot.com/2011/09/jesus-prayer-part-5-jesus.html

http://openthoumylips.blogspot.com/2011/09/jesus-prayer-part-6-christ-as-great.html

http://openthoumylips.blogspot.com/2011/09/jesus-prayer-part-7-christ-king.html

http://openthoumylips.blogspot.com/2011/10/jesus-prayer-part-9-son-of-god.html
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« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2011, 09:36:02 PM »

I wish I'd read this back when I first began my inquiry. http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/kingdomofheaven.aspx

neon, this is kind of long, but please read it and notes all the times St. Innocent speaks of salvation both in terms of work and in terms of it being all up to God's effort.
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« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2011, 10:18:06 PM »

Also, the St. Paul does say that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin", and compares Christ to the OT sacrifices. Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins? Why then wouldn't Christ's sacrifice (which is so often compared to the OT system of sacrifice)be the same?

Nope. The OT offerings weren't magic where you sinnded and then just made an offering to make your sins go away. God desired mercy, repentence, and a heart that loves Him in the OT. Without these, God would reject their offerings.

For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I had given it; with whole burnt offerings Thou shalt not be pleased.
A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise.
--Psalms 50: 16-17


(and, seriously, go read St. Athanasius' 'On the Incarnation')
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« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2011, 10:47:11 PM »

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

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified. Where is the simple message of salvation that the Bible seems to teach in Orthodoxy? Whatever happened to "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"? Why does understanding Orthodoxy require so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology, whatever; why has Orthodoxy made a science out of the simple Gospel message that should be understood by any five year old?

Two things,

(a) that was actually a very knowledgeable and accurate response by that Chris fellow, especially in his apologetic defense of Orthodox as being actually Christians, that is a rare treat from Evangelicals.  Of course, on the original topic of "if the Church will be duped by the Antichrist" interestingly that sounds ridiculous.  The Church is constantly operating within the Grace of God in the Holy Spirit, she can never be duped or deceived by the Antichrist.  Are there imperfect individuals within the Church, including leadership, yes, people are not perfect, but the Church remains perfected in the Divine Mysteries.  If anything, the Church might feel that it is Pentecostals, Protestants, and Evangelicals who are duped by the Antichrist to reject the very Salvation inherent within the Church through Jesus Christ who established and maintains her.  These are the ones who are constantly divided, ever splintering, always following the whims of teachers and the charisma of individuals, rather then the consistency of the Tradition as passed down each generation in the Grace of God by the laying of hands.  By the way, I am in NO WAY trying to say that denominational Christians are of the Antichrist, rather we are speaking about rhetorical interpretations of Revelations, which this Chris had mentioned that Orthodox would be duped, rather I would say it seems more likely that the scenario would be reversed.  It is the Church that has the constant history of remaining Apostolic, even while Underground (as in our modern histories in Communist nations), and I would suppose in the Grace of God that if this rhetorical Antichrist scenario is true the way folks suppose, that the Church would survive Underground as she originated, has been, and could be.

b) to address your question:

Grace is not worked towards, it is a gift of God.  We in Orthodox are healed day by day from Sin by God's Grace in the Divine Mysteries. That is our simple message.  The Church simply provides the formula of Salvation to enact it into the reality of our day to day lives.  We were Baptized and Chrismated to seal us with the Holy Spirit which continues the healing effect of Grace continually through out our lives.  We Repent and receive the Holy Communion in order to further cooperate in synergy with God's Grace for this continuing healing.  We revere our Clergy who are Ordained in the Spirit, and we revere our family structures by the Grace of Holy Matrimony which sanctifies our familial relationships.  When we are in more dire straights, we have Unction of the Sick, to commend us to God's Grace in the most direct way according to our needs.  This is the process of Orthodox life, it is one continually in God's healing Grace.  We do not work for it so much was work in cooperation with it.

Let me explain to you the function of Tradition (the science of Orthodoxy as you've called it) as I explained it to my teenage Sunday school class this past weekend. All the matters of Tradition, and even of the Bible, are really just ways to get us to ask the right questions to God in our hearts.  The answers are not in the materials or the Traditions, the answers come from God.  This is what the Church means by Mysteries.  We read the Bible, the Gospel, and the Tradition in order to formulate and reflect in our own internal, individual hearts, the right, deep, and soul-searching questions which we yearn for God to answer in order for us to communicate and expand our personal relationship with Him, just as we converse with friends grow our bonds.  The healing of God is automatic, but we also Sin from our own free-will, so the Tradition in action helps us APPLY the saving Grace of God.  We chant prayers and hymns to help us in our hearts find that calming peace of God and to maintain the inner healing of Grace.  In five year old terms, God's Grace is a healing, but it takes time.  The things we do in the Church are just a part of that healing just like going to the doctors.  You don't work at the doctors but there are things you are responsible to do, and its the same with Church.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2011, 01:01:52 AM »

Thanks for all the replies everyone. Some stuff just still doesnt add up to me.

For example, when I read Romans chapter 3, it says that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. To me Orthodox theosis and the idea that one must be fully sanctified to be really saved sounds like earning one's way into heaven. I actually saw a video where an Orthodox monk said specifically that the point of this life is to "earn" the next. Romans chapter 3 says that we cant earn salvation though, because "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Romans 3 also says that Christ's blood is propitiation for our sins. The OSB study note on this verse compares the word "propitiation" to the ancient Jewish practice, where the high priest would offer up an animal and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat to atone for the sins of Israel. The note said that Christ, through his ascension to heaven (the real mercy seat), is our propitiation(paraphrased of course). That to me sounds a LOT like penal satisfaction.

Also, the St. Paul does say that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin", and compares Christ to the OT sacrifices. Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins? Why then wouldn't Christ's sacrifice (which is so often compared to the OT system of sacrifice)be the same?

Does not the Anaphora in the DL imply some sort of propitiation?




Salvation is work, not works. The grace and mercy of God are freely offered to all, but to apropriate these gifts in our lives and avail ourselves of their benefits requires great struggle and effort. The love I have for my children is unconditional and free. I will never disown them or cast them away from me, regardless of what they do or don't do. However, because they love me, they therefore work, struggle, and strive to please me and to cultivate a deeper, closer relationship with me. They can choose to rebel, disobey, forsake my love, and turn to a life of sin and evil. If they do this, my love for them shall remain the same, but their actions will nevertheless separate them from me and from the love that I extend to them without condition.

Salvation is free, but not easy. It is completely dependent upon the grace of God, and yet we must work it out with fear and trembling. It is given to all, but only a few find it. We are saved only by His Cross, and yet not without taking up our own.


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« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2011, 03:39:45 AM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.

What if you can't find it?
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« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2011, 03:45:40 AM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.

What if you can't find it?

Ask God I guess...
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« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2011, 08:07:19 AM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.
What if you can't find it?

Seek and you shall find.
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« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2011, 12:43:55 PM »

I'm sorry I forget the man's name, but I heard an Orthodox priest say, "We are saved by grace, through faith, for works." Sounds pretty good to me.  angel
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« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2011, 12:46:56 PM »

I'm sorry I forget the man's name, but I heard an Orthodox priest say, "We are saved by grace, through faith, for works." Sounds pretty good to me.  angel

yea, and faith itself implies works (following christ's commandments), much more than intellectual consent.
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« Reply #33 on: October 20, 2011, 01:08:45 PM »

I wish I'd read this back when I first began my inquiry. http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/kingdomofheaven.aspx

neon, this is kind of long, but please read it and notes all the times St. Innocent speaks of salvation both in terms of work and in terms of it being all up to God's effort.
Oy, that was a pretty badly worded post. I meant to ask you to notice how Saint Innocent demonstrates the paradox here, how it isn't just a simple "God's effort, plus our effort" issue that some would make it out to be and that caused Martin Luther so much stress.

And if you really want to dial things back to ontology, God created this reality as a "package" with all the choices from all us agents which would make it up. So in that sense, it really all depends on God since He could have created a different possible world (in my opinion) or even none at all. We could have been born into a world where I chose to be a Muslim and you chose to be an atheist.
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« Reply #34 on: October 20, 2011, 04:06:23 PM »

Chris made another audio response today.

http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheretorun/email/New%20folder/magicsXfive.mp3
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« Reply #35 on: October 20, 2011, 04:51:54 PM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.
What if you can't find it?

Seek and you shall find.
Well I'm going to use an old hat argument. If you are born on an island that worships coconuts, and the Gospel hasn't been preached there how can you still find?

Romans 8 I think takes care of that...
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« Reply #36 on: October 20, 2011, 05:27:51 PM »

Chris made another response today.
http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheretorun/email/New%20folder/magicsXfive.mp3
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« Reply #37 on: October 20, 2011, 08:38:24 PM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.
What if you can't find it?
Seek and you shall find.
Well I'm going to use an old hat argument. If you are born on an island that worships coconuts, and the Gospel hasn't been preached there how can you still find?

Romans 8 I think takes care of that...

Scripture also speaks of the natural law written in man's heart and that all of creation glorifies God.
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« Reply #38 on: October 20, 2011, 10:31:26 PM »

My response to his last one:

Hey Chris, thanks again for responding.

I think you have a common misconception about Catholic/Orthodox doctrine. You seem to think that the Catholics and the Orthodox feel that they can earn their salvation, which is not at all what Catholics or Orthodox believe.

From my understanding of Orthodox doctrine (and its limited, so Im not the best source), salvation is by grace, through faith. The Orthodox have this concept of "synergy", which means that God saves us through grace, but we need to cooperate with His grace and let Him work through us. If we do not let him work through us, than our faith is dead, and it cannot save. St James the Lord's brother has said in his letter that faith alone does NOT save (only time the words "faith" and "alone" are used in the NT I'm pretty sure), and that our faith is dead without deeds, or "fruit". Through God working through us, we become more and more like Christ, and we can become "as partakers of the divine nature".

The Catholics I believe have a similar understanding, although it is more legalistic and specific. For example, Catholics distinguish between initial justification and actual justification. Im not sure if the Orthodox do this. Then again, I'm not the best source.

There is a difference between the law of faith, where we have faith in God to save and cleanse us, and let him work through us, which saves, and the law of works, in which men vainly attempt to please God and "earn" salvation. This does not save.

You asked me if I "feel" forgiven. I'm not entirely sure what you mean. Do you mean do I know absolutely for sure if I will go to heaven? I would have to answer no, but I have a strong faith in God my savior that I will go to heaven. I do know that I am still a wicked sinner and I often resist God's attempts to work through me.

I have watched parts of your apostolic succession video, and I didnt really find it relevant to my personal views on apostolic succession. Ive actually never heard Acts 1 used as a defense for it. I dont really know the full dogma of apostolic succession from the Catholics, but I do know that however you interpret it, at its base (that is, a line of bishops in each see starting from the original bishop down to the current one), it is entirely true and un-debunkable. For example, you could look up "apostolic succession lists" on google, and see the list of Bishops of Rome, Byzantium, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc. starting from the apostle who either served as overseer there or ordained the first overseer, down to the incumbent bishop. For me, it provides an actual link from modern times to the times of the apostles. You wouldnt be able to trace this with any other form of Christianity except the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran, Assyrian, and possibly the Indian Marthoma Reformed communions. This is probably straying from the pain point of the discussion though.

I hope you can reply again soon!
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« Reply #39 on: October 20, 2011, 11:10:40 PM »

It is given to all, but only a few find it.
What if you can't find it?
Seek and you shall find.
Well I'm going to use an old hat argument. If you are born on an island that worships coconuts, and the Gospel hasn't been preached there how can you still find?

Romans 8 I think takes care of that...

Scripture also speaks of the natural law written in man's heart and that all of creation glorifies God.
Ah yes forgot that last bit, thank you Melodist!
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« Reply #40 on: October 21, 2011, 11:17:19 AM »

Ah yes forgot that last bit, thank you Melodist!

Awesome avatar.
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« Reply #41 on: October 21, 2011, 11:59:09 AM »

I'm sure it was an alright response, but Im not even sure if I meant what I've said. I read Volnutt's new thread yesterday and I am in his EXACT position. I have trained myself to think that the Orthodox view of Christianity is the correct view, without actually examining it in the Bible and actually reading the Fathers myself. To quote Volnutt, in my response to Chris I spit out the "pop-Orthodox apologetic", honestly without even understanding what I was saying.

Back to my main point, what Chris stressed most in his audio response, for those of you who listened to it have heard, is "the Gospel". He blatantly said that Orthodox Christians do not teach "the Gospel", which in his view is penal satisfaction/substitution; that God needed to punish sinners, and he instead gave us His Son, who was crucified, being punished in our place so God's wrath could be satisfied, and that if we believe in faith that Jesus died for our sins, and if we truly repent, we are saved.

A simple look at the Bible for any person can show that THIS is the message of salvation preached in the Bible. The Bible says clearly that the penalty for sin is death. Yes Jesus broke death in his resurrection, but it was in his death that he paid the penalty.

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified. Where is the simple message of salvation that the Bible seems to teach in Orthodoxy? Whatever happened to "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved"? Why does understanding Orthodoxy require so much study, intellectualism, learning, Christology, Soteriology, Atonement-ology, whatever; why has Orthodoxy made a science out of the simple Gospel message that should be understood by any five year old?

In my heart I have known for a while that the Bible (the way I see it at least) and Orthodoxy don't seem to match up in my eyes. I WANT to believe Orthodoxy is true, I really do. I have seen so much beauty and wonderful tradition in Orthodoxy, I really want to believe its right. Maybe that's what it has come to, what I MYSELF want. I want liturgy, smells and bells, chanting, tradition, ancient-ness, history, etc; but is that what GOD wants for me? Honestly, I really dont know. Its hard for me to hear the voice of God.

Maybe I need to talk to a priest, visit a church, sit in on a catechism class, maybe read through a catechism myself. But as for now, I just cant see the message of Orthodox salvation matching up with the Gospel that is preached in the Bible.

So, after my rant, maybe I have it all wrong. If I do, tell me, what is "the Gospel" to an Orthodox? And is it really the Gospel that is preached in the Bible?

PS- I know that some of the things I have said seem very judgemental and critical of Orthodoxy. That is not what I intend. I am truly struggling with this.

Neon_knights, at the beginning of the thread you mentioned Chris White and some of his comments that you found convincing regarding “the gospel” (as he sees it), and you shared some of your doubts about Orthodoxy.  You have since invited us in to your debate with him, allowing us to read your messages to him and listen to his responses.  Perhaps, as your dialogue with him develops or when it concludes, you can share with us your thoughts as to whether your exchange with him is increasing your confidence in the Orthodox position or raising more doubts and questions.  There is a lot that can be commented upon about your exchange with Mr. White, but it would probably be more productive to discuss in this thread the specific questions or doubts you might have about Orthodoxy coming out of (or going through) this dialogue.   
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« Reply #42 on: October 21, 2011, 09:42:10 PM »

jah777, I would love to hear your comments on my discussions with Chris. If im not adequately representing Orthodox doctrine I should probably halt the discussion...

I'm not really sure what Im getting out of it yet. I think that if I want to understand Orthodoxy, I need to go to a church and talk to a priest head on.

If you really want to know, whats making me stumble the most is Orthodoxy's distaste for the legal metaphors of Christ's salvific work on the cross, which are clearly written in the Bible, and the idea that we have to be fully sanctified in order to be justified.
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« Reply #43 on: October 21, 2011, 09:53:23 PM »

I think that if I want to understand Orthodoxy, I need to go to a church

Yes.

Quote
and talk to a priest head on.

This helps too.

Quote
If you really want to know, whats making me stumble the most is Orthodoxy's distaste for the legal metaphors of Christ's salvific work on the cross, which are clearly written in the Bible,

This is most likely in response to the groups that hold too strictly to the legal language, especially to the exclusion of all others. There is legal language most definitely used. Christ's work was very substitutionary. The "penal substitution" that I was taught in my Baptist sunday school as a teenager is by no means an accurate description of what Christ accomplished on the cross.

Quote
and the idea that we have to be fully sanctified in order to be justified.

God is our destination. He only asks that we move in the right direction.
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« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2011, 09:57:57 PM »

Neon,

srsly. Melodist is never wrong. Well not around here much.
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« Reply #45 on: October 21, 2011, 10:03:55 PM »

Melodist thinks he is never wrong.

You missed a couple of words.
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« Reply #46 on: October 21, 2011, 10:42:54 PM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.
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« Reply #47 on: October 21, 2011, 11:10:49 PM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.
Theosis isn't about trying to earn salvation though.
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« Reply #48 on: October 21, 2011, 11:17:18 PM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.
Do you earn salvation by repenting and believing in God.
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« Reply #49 on: October 21, 2011, 11:50:14 PM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.

If you seriously think a concept like sanctification is "against scripture" then I suggest you reread everything again, and again, and again. It's a hallmark of Protestant theology too, or really just Christianity period, BTW.
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« Reply #50 on: October 21, 2011, 11:58:57 PM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.
We are not innocent bystanders. We are either an active participant in our own salvation or an active participant in our own damnation.
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« Reply #51 on: October 22, 2011, 12:59:16 AM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.

If you seriously think a concept like sanctification is "against scripture" then I suggest you reread everything again, and again, and again. It's a hallmark of Protestant theology too, or really just Christianity period, BTW.

Thats not exactly what I meant. I worded it incorrectly.

I meant that the idea that we need to be fully sanctified in order to be saved seems like earning salvation.
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« Reply #52 on: October 22, 2011, 01:32:02 AM »

I'm sure you may have heard the metaphor that the Church is a hospital for sinners. Think of it this way: the liturgy, Communion, prayer and so on help treat our sinfulness, like medicine fights a cough. I don't think any of us can duplicate what Jesus did, of course, but we run to Him for help. We should want to be like Jesus as much as we are able, and treat others the way he did, yes? Through the ministry of the Church, we receive guidance so we can grow in holiness. If I spent many years in one place and did not grow, I would say there was something wrong. We are not given salvation as a lock pick so we can break into Heaven; if you were cold and I gave you a jacket, but you didn't wear it, what good would it be? Or you bought a place to live but just sat outside it? I believe we are meant to 'walk around' in our salvation, live in it. Jesus didn't just teach the disciples a password and then leave. He spent years with them, teaching them...  St. Paul tells us to run so as to win. I believe the life of faith is how we do that.
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« Reply #53 on: October 22, 2011, 02:33:47 AM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.

If you seriously think a concept like sanctification is "against scripture" then I suggest you reread everything again, and again, and again. It's a hallmark of Protestant theology too, or really just Christianity period, BTW.

Thats not exactly what I meant. I worded it incorrectly.

I meant that the idea that we need to be fully sanctified in order to be saved seems like earning salvation.
And as Melodist said, this is not what Orthodoxy teaches.
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« Reply #54 on: October 22, 2011, 03:00:32 AM »

selam all Smiley

union with God through the Son in the Power of the Spirit 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 " 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
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« Reply #55 on: October 22, 2011, 11:30:51 AM »

Thats not exactly what I meant. I worded it incorrectly.

I meant that the idea that we need to be fully sanctified in order to be saved seems like earning salvation.

You'll find with theology that wording is very important and words should be carefully chosen.

Also, we are never "fully sanctified in order to be saved". Salvation and sanctification are the generally same process in right-believing Christianity. Nobody is ever really "fully sanctified" in the sense that they are never fully conformed to God's likeness, because God is infinite in His majesty. Thus, salvation is never really complete as it is endless.
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« Reply #56 on: October 22, 2011, 08:02:20 PM »

The point is that you don't give up. You keep showing up, you keep praying even when you don't feel like it, you keep confessing, you keep taking the Eucharist.

This is the thread back from when I struggled with these things. Maybe it will help you  Smiley http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,36936.0.html
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« Reply #57 on: October 22, 2011, 10:30:22 PM »

The point is that you don't give up. You keep showing up, you keep praying even when you don't feel like it, you keep confessing, you keep taking the Eucharist.

This is the thread back from when I struggled with these things. Maybe it will help you  Smiley http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,36936.0.html

Yeah, all of these things are well and good, but the Bible says that these things cant save us. It doesnt matter how much we pray, confess, etc, because our works of righteousness are like filthy rags to God. The Bible preaches that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved, and that works are fruit of true faith.
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« Reply #58 on: October 22, 2011, 10:33:11 PM »

The point is that you don't give up. You keep showing up, you keep praying even when you don't feel like it, you keep confessing, you keep taking the Eucharist.

This is the thread back from when I struggled with these things. Maybe it will help you  Smiley http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,36936.0.html

Yeah, all of these things are well and good, but the Bible says that these things cant save us. The Bible preaches salvation by faith, with works as fruit of true faith.

What's faith?

Really this is another one of those false dichotomies within and without Christianity.

No matter how you define faith, it will end up being an act some sort.
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« Reply #59 on: October 22, 2011, 11:11:32 PM »

The point is that you don't give up. You keep showing up, you keep praying even when you don't feel like it, you keep confessing, you keep taking the Eucharist.

This is the thread back from when I struggled with these things. Maybe it will help you  Smiley http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,36936.0.html

Yeah, all of these things are well and good, but the Bible says that these things cant save us. The Bible preaches salvation by faith, with works as fruit of true faith.

What's faith?

Really this is another one of those false dichotomies within and without Christianity.

No matter how you define faith, it will end up being an act some sort.


Exactly.


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« Reply #60 on: October 22, 2011, 11:46:40 PM »

It doesnt matter how much we pray... because our works of righteousness are like filthy rags to God.
St. Paul taught "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17)not "it doesn't matter how much we pray..."
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« Reply #61 on: October 22, 2011, 11:55:15 PM »

Wasnt the purpose of the OT sacrifice to alleviate God's wrath so that he could forgive Israel's sins?
http://katachriston.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/propitiation-or-expiation-did-christ-change-gods-attitude/
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« Reply #62 on: October 23, 2011, 12:29:27 AM »


Dude, you need to remind us your blog once a month. I am not really a blog follow so I don't aggregate and all that. And I forget yours exist.

Always awesome stuff one way or another.
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« Reply #63 on: October 23, 2011, 01:04:57 AM »

Quote
The Bible preaches that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved, and that works are fruit of true faith.

i think youre exactly right here. 
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« Reply #64 on: October 23, 2011, 04:06:26 AM »

The point is that you don't give up. You keep showing up, you keep praying even when you don't feel like it, you keep confessing, you keep taking the Eucharist.

This is the thread back from when I struggled with these things. Maybe it will help you  Smiley http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,36936.0.html

Yeah, all of these things are well and good, but the Bible says that these things cant save us. It doesnt matter how much we pray, confess, etc, because our works of righteousness are like filthy rags to God. The Bible preaches that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved, and that works are fruit of true faith.
I didn't say they saved us. What saves us is our willingness to follow God and do what He says (the Greek pisteuo should really be translated "faithfulness" as a continuing state as opposed to just "faith" imo). Like orthonorm said, you're making a false dichotomy. Putting your faith in Christ is a verb, this verb is expressed by doing what God says.
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« Reply #65 on: October 23, 2011, 07:44:00 AM »

Yeah, all of these things are well and good, but the Bible says that these things cant save us. It doesnt matter how much we pray, confess, etc, because our works of righteousness are like filthy rags to God. The Bible preaches that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved, and that works are fruit of true faith.

We are only saved by Christ. These "things" are what unite us to Him and keep us united to Him.
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« Reply #66 on: October 23, 2011, 08:17:44 AM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.
Do you earn salvation by repenting and believing in God.
You didn't answer this question. You seem to think that to make an effort toward something is to earn it.
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« Reply #67 on: October 24, 2011, 08:56:30 AM »

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.

There is nothing that we can do to “earn” salvation.  The concept of “earning” salvation implies that God is indebted to us and bound to reward us for the good deeds we have done by our own strength.  Such a concept is completely foreign to Orthodoxy.  We are forever indebted to God for the salvation which He has made possible for us through the Incarnation, the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, and the sending down of the Holy Spirit.  When we receive the Holy Spirit in baptism, however, much care, attentiveness, vigilance, and effort is required to learn to walk according to the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the body, so that at the end of our lives we may be found to be truly servants of God rather than slaves of the demons.  As St. Paul says, we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), and “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).” The Lord Himself says that we should strive to enter by the narrow gate because “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14)”; and "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).”  We are told to “Pursue peace… and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14),” to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” and if you want to draw near to God you must “cleanse your hands… and purify your hearts” (James 4:8 ).  If we love the Lord, we will obey His commandments (John 14:21), but “he who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4).”  When a man is forgiven of his past sins through baptism and repentance, he knows that he is indebted to God, and as he who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47); he zealously exerts great effort in fasting, prayer, and good deeds in order that he might put to death the passions, safeguard the grace that he has received, and show his love for the One who has saved him from sin and death.  According to the verses referenced above, we must strive to enter by the narrow gate, pursue holiness, purify our hearts, put to death the passions, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and in doing so to work out our salvation.  All of the bolded words are action words and pertain to what we must ourselves do in response to what God has done, in order that we might cooperate with Him in the process of our salvation.  Furthermore, according to the above verses, if we are not engaged in these activities, we are not truly Christ’s and cannot claim to be His followers.  The goal of a man’s life, though, is not to perform a certain quantity of “rites” and “actions” in order to be able justify one’s self before God; but rather to love God with all of his heart, soul, and mind, a goal which one is always striving to attain and yet can never claim to have attained (Philippians 3:12).  Rather, as the Lord instructed his disciples, “when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do (Luke 17:10).'"  To claim that we can obtain salvation without fulfilling Christ’s commandments, to claim that the Lord’s commandments in the Gospels are not at all related to our salvation, or to suggest that Christs’ commands are impossible to fulfill, all of these assertions are antithetical to true faith and are even blasphemous.

The process of a man’s sanctification and theosis, of his struggle to live and walk according to the Spirit, is man’s constant effort to remain completely united to the will of God.  It is an effort that depends above all on God’s help, and is not something man can do on his own.  When a man learns to depend completely on God, he knows that without God he is nothing.  He knows that any good that he is able to accomplish is only by the help of God.  Consequently, there can be no thought that “God owes me”, or “look what I have achieved”, for the man of God knows from the Lord that “without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).”  If we think we can be saved without any effort, without striving to obey God, without showing our faith by our works, without putting to death our passions, without walking by the Spirit, then we are greatly deceived and our faith is the empty and fruitless belief of the demons rather than the true faith which leads a man to salvation.  When the Lord comes again to judge the world, he will not ask to see who has believed, but he will judge every man’s works to see if they truly had faith and served Him rather than the Evil One.  “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works (Matthew 16:27)” and the Lord “will render to each one according to his deeds (Romans 2:6).”  As St. John related in the book of Revelations: “I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works (Revelations 20:13,14).”  So, we must labor and exert great effort to save our souls, knowing that all such efforts are useless without the help of God and that our salvation can only be accomplished by cooperating with the grace that God gives us through baptism, repentance, and the deifying mysteries of the Church. 
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« Reply #68 on: October 24, 2011, 03:56:05 PM »

But in the end, we can never fully become perfect and there will always be things which keep us from entering Heaven. We can strive, but is that really enough? Can we really enter the Kindgom of God by just striving? I was always taught that one must be perfect to enter the Kingdom, and since no man is righteous or perfect, we depend on Christ's work on the cross as our entry into the kingdom.
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« Reply #69 on: October 24, 2011, 04:41:06 PM »

Chris White responded today, telling me to watch this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gtLzLFApRw

Its very long, but if someone could watch it and write a response I would be very appreciative.
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« Reply #70 on: October 24, 2011, 05:39:55 PM »

The point is that you don't give up. You keep showing up, you keep praying even when you don't feel like it, you keep confessing, you keep taking the Eucharist.

This is the thread back from when I struggled with these things. Maybe it will help you  Smiley http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,36936.0.html

Yeah, all of these things are well and good, but the Bible says that these things cant save us. It doesnt matter how much we pray, confess, etc, because our works of righteousness are like filthy rags to God. The Bible preaches that faith in Christ is the only way to be saved, and that works are fruit of true faith.

What is Faith? Is it not simply being loyal to God, His Promises, and to His people? This is what I see when I read the later half of Romans chapter 4 and the whole chapter of Hebrews 11.

In this context Faith = fidelity


When you read Paul, what do you see him contrast faith to? He doesn't contrast faith to prayer, nor does he do it to confession. He does it with works of the Law. That is the immediate context of the contrast.
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« Reply #71 on: October 24, 2011, 07:29:05 PM »

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

I guess I dont really understand it, but all this talk about theosis, sanctification, etc, seems like trying to earn salvation, which is entirely against scripture.

If you seriously think a concept like sanctification is "against scripture" then I suggest you reread everything again, and again, and again. It's a hallmark of Protestant theology too, or really just Christianity period, BTW.

Thats not exactly what I meant. I worded it incorrectly.

I meant that the idea that we need to be fully sanctified in order to be saved seems like earning salvation.

No, we are not earning salvation, because the wages of sin are death, and any sin committed always outweighs any kind of earnings from spiritual activities.  "Sanctified" in the most literal sense, in the context of the theosis folks are speaking of, is to be in synergy (from the Greek) or cooperation (from the Latin) with the Grace/Actions/Will of God.  God is Holy by Nature, and the only we can ever be sanctified (to become Holy) is to cooperate with God's own natural holiness.  God alone can make us Holy, but this is an action of God in the verb sense. Synergy is from the Greek meaning "synchronized acting" and it means to work or act in harmony together, and its Latinized counterpart is the English cooperation, to operate or act together.  In the context of theosis, God's Grace is a natural action of God which we cooperate in synergy with, in He and we act fully together. God's Grace is the sanctifying salvation, our cooperation is the manifestation of God's salvation in physical action.  We act together.  His salvation remains a free gift, not something earned as a wage, but like all gifts we have to openly accept and embrace the opportunity.  This is what synergy is, it is prayer, it is hymn, it is meditation, it is Scripture reading, it is fellowship, it is charity, it is all communication and relationship with God in the active, verb sense.  Again, we do not earn anything, precisely because we are not acting necessarily alone, on our own initiative, or by our own efforts, rather we are cooperating, co-acting, with God who creates and sustains every moment we exist.  This is why we can't earn anything from God, because we've done nothing to earn anything, rather, when we act in synergy with God by theosis,  we are acting on God's own initiative and Grace.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #72 on: October 24, 2011, 08:02:35 PM »

But in the end, we can never fully become perfect and there will always be things which keep us from entering Heaven. We can strive, but is that really enough? Can we really enter the Kindgom of God by just striving? I was always taught that one must be perfect to enter the Kingdom, and since no man is righteous or perfect, we depend on Christ's work on the cross as our entry into the kingdom.
Yes, striving is enough. The Grace of God is more than sufficient to make up for what we lack, especially considering the fact that without God we couldn't even strive in the first place.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.-Philippians 2:12-13

The East never had this idea that Heaven (ie. the blessed presence of God) is a thing which must be "earned" by someone, Anselm and Feudalism and responsible for that. Everything God does to us is a gift of Himself, the only delays are on our end. Christ died to make us into the kind of people who would want such a gift and therefore not experience it as Hell.
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« Reply #73 on: October 24, 2011, 10:02:14 PM »

Chris White responded today, telling me to watch this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gtLzLFApRw

Its very long, but if someone could watch it and write a response I would be very appreciative.
Is there any way that you can watch it and summarize it or something? I love making time for OC.net, but I don't know if anyone has an hour to sit around and watch it for the sake of answering the question...
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« Reply #74 on: October 24, 2011, 10:06:49 PM »

Chris White responded today, telling me to watch this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gtLzLFApRw

Its very long, but if someone could watch it and write a response I would be very appreciative.
Is there any way that you can watch it and summarize it or something? I love making time for OC.net, but I don't know if anyone has an hour to sit around and watch it for the sake of answering the question...
I think he outlines the conclusion in the beginning of that video, I don't have time to go through much of it yet though.
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« Reply #75 on: October 25, 2011, 09:24:07 AM »

I didn’t have time to listen to the whole thing, nor will I have the time to give a completely comprehensive evaluation, but I will make a few comments based on what I did hear.  I do think Mr. White has a very clear and appealing manner of communication, and I certainly see how a person with Protestant convictions would think highly of him.  That being said, I wanted to comment first on his remarks on the “seal of the Holy Spirit” and our salvation being a “guarantee”.  As Mr. White quotes from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph 1:13,14).

Regarding this verse, Mr. White claims that the seal of the Holy Spirit is received through the act of “believing”, whereas “you were sealed with the Holy Spirit” actually refers to the fact that the Ephesians were baptized and received the laying on of hands by the Apostles (St. Paul specifically) or those to whom the Apostles appointed to perform this action.  Initially, the “seal of the Holy Spirit” was given to a person through baptism and the laying on of the hands of the Apostles (Acts 8:17), the Apostles consecrated bishops through the laying on of hands to perform baptisms in their absence, and as successors to the Apostles, to lay hands on the newly baptized that they might receive the seal of the Holy Spirit.  As the Church grew, and bishops could not practically be present at every baptism, bishops of local churches began to come together to consecrate holy chrism to be used by priests to anoint the newly baptized and thereby bestow the seal of the Holy Spirit.  In the Orthodox Church today, it is the mystery (sacrament) of chrismation that bestows upon a person the seal of the Holy Spirit, and this mystery can only be performed by priests with the blessing of their bishop who is a successor of the Apostles.   Without his bishop’s blessing, a priest cannot perform baptisms or chrismations.  In the Orthodox baptismal service, the priest prays the following words after baptizing a person and before anointing them with holy chrism:

Blessed are You, Lord God Almighty, Fountain of Blessings, Sun of Righteousness, Who made to shine forth for those in darkness a light of salvation through the manifestation of Your Only-Begotten Son and our God, granting unto us, though we are unworthy, blessed cleansing in Holy Water, and divine sanctification in the Life; effecting Anointing; Who now also has been well-pleased to regenerate this Your servant newly illuminated through Water and Spirit, giving him (her) forgiveness of his (her) voluntary and involuntary sins: do You Yourself, Sovereign Master, Compassionate King of All, bestow upon him (her) also the  Seal of Your omnipotent and adorable Holy Spirit, and the Communion of the Holy Body and Most Precious Blood of Your Christ; keep him (her) in Your sanctification; confirm him (her) in the Orthodox Faith; deliver him (her) from the Evil One and all his devices; preserve his (her) soul, through Your saving fear, in purity and righteousness, that in every work and word, being acceptable before You, he (she) may become a child and heir of Your heavenly Kingdom.

For You are our God, the God of Mercy and Salvation, and to You do we send up Glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Choir: Amen.

And after the Prayer of Confirmation, the Priest chrismates the baptized and he makes on the person the Sign of the Cross with the Holy Chrism (Holy Myron), on the forehead, the eyes, the nostrils, the mouth, the ears, the breast, the hands, and the feet. At each anointing and sealing, he says:

THE SEAL OF THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AMEN.


You can read the entire service at:

http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/baptism

You may also be interested in the following words about chrismation from St. Cyril of Jerusalem (4th century):  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf207.ii.xxv.html

(As a Protestant, you might be interested in St. Cyril's other lectures too, which show the continuity between the liturgy and sacraments in the 4th century and how they are celebrated by the Orthodox Church today, for instance http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf207.ii.xxvii.html and http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf207.ii.xxvi.html )

Mr. White is correct to say that we never lose this seal of the Holy Spirit, he is just wrong to say that it is received only by “believing” without reference to baptism and chrismation, and that the seal of the Holy Spirit is a “guarantee”.  That the Orthodox Church agrees that the seal of the Holy Spirit can never be lost can be known from the fact that it is absolutely forbidden for a person to receive an Orthodox baptism more than once.  In the Symbol of Faith (Nicene Creed) we “confess one baptism for the remission of sins.”  The Greek word that is translated as “guarantee” in the Protestant translations (King James is perhaps a bit more accurate in referring to receiving the “earnest of the Spirit”) does refer to a deposit or down payment, as I think Mr. White acknowledges.  A deposit, however, is not a “guarantee” of eternal salvation, but rather a promise that is dependent upon our subsequent faithfulness to Christ, as the Lord said “he who endures to the end will be saved (Matt 10:22).”  If salvation was a guarantee, why would St. Paul say, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27).”  From a Protestant perspective, is St. Paul saying that he can “lose his salvation”?  In the Orthodox Church we do not talk about “losing our salvation” because we cannot lose that which has not been completed, and as long as we have breath we should be “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.”  Christ through his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and the sending down of the Holy Spirit has granted salvation freely to the entire world, but we must individually receive His salvation through baptism and a life of repentance and faithfulness.  For, we are indeed “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together (Romans 8:17).”  The promise of our salvation given to us through the seal of the Holy Spirit is therefore conditional and dependent upon our response, which is why the Scriptures say we will be judged according to our deeds (see my previous post).

As an aside, I was once at my in-laws’ home and they turned on a sermon by the noted Protestant televangelist Charles Stanley.  I was very interested to see him read the verse which says, “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:15)” only to immediately follow this by saying, “this isn’t about our salvation.”  I was amazed.  So, according to Mr. Stanley, you can be “saved” even though God will not forgive you?  One cannot believe in eternal security without rejecting or severely twisting the Scriptures.       

Again, regarding this audio from Mr. White, while I was not able to listen to all of it, but I did notice that in typical fashion he seemed to equate “works of the law” with human effort in general.  When the New Testament refers to “the law”, something very specific is obviously being referred to.  It is simply not the case that there is nothing we can do to save our souls.  Such a concept is completely unscriptural and false (see verses from my previous post), though it is true that our human effort alone; without the help and grace of God, and without the suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending down by Christ of the Holy Spirit; also cannot save us.

Regarding your previous comment:

But in the end, we can never fully become perfect and there will always be things which keep us from entering Heaven. We can strive, but is that really enough? Can we really enter the Kindgom of God by just striving? I was always taught that one must be perfect to enter the Kingdom, and since no man is righteous or perfect, we depend on Christ's work on the cross as our entry into the kingdom.

We will not be judged for any sins committed prior to our Orthodox baptism, as our sins are completely washed away in baptism thanks to Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and the sending down of His Holy Spirit.  Regarding sins committed after baptism, in the Orthodox Church we have the mystery (Sacrament) of confession which we refer to as a renewal of our baptism and which also grants remission for the sins we confess and repent of.  As the Lord said to the Apostles, “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18).”  Through the laying on of hands, the Apostles gave this authority first to bishops, and bishops to priests.  This authority to “bind and loose” is exercised primarily through the mystery of confession to “loose” a person who comes sincerely confessing their sins with a resolve to repent, or to “bind” a person who is unrepentant.  This binding is usually exercised by prohibiting a person from receiving communion for a period of time, or requiring a person to spend some time in fasting and prayer to demonstrate that they are sincere in their desire to repent before being “loosed” through the prayer of absolution.  If a person regularly, sincerely, and thoroughly confesses their sins, they may end their lives in such a state that there will be nothing to be held accountable for on the Day of Judgment.  However, if a person goes to confession in a superficial way, without the resolve and subsequent effort to actually repent and turn from their sins, then it will be much more difficult for them on that Day.  Our salvation is dependent not so much on achieving “perfection” (who can say they are perfect and sinless?), but on continuously striving to live blamelessly before God while constantly confessing, repenting, and weeping for our sins when we fail.  Tears are a particularly important sign of repentance, and about those who mourn for their sins the Lord says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4).”  We never cease hoping in the mercy of God, while constantly striving with the help of God and with humility to be made worthy of the heavenly kingdom.  If a person dies in a state of repentance but still has some unconfessed sins they are guilty of, they may be further purified through the suffering they experience in the body prior to the soul’s separation from the body at the time of death, and the soul may be further purified after its separation from the body and prior to the Great Judgment through the prayers that the Church offers on behalf of the reposed, by commemoration of the reposed in the Divine Liturgies, and through the suffering the soul may experience on account of pangs of conscience.  I realize these last points regarding the soul after death is a separate and very large topic, and also is a teaching which is in great contrast to Protestant thought on the subject, but I wanted to mention this here because it is relevant.

If I have time to finish listening to Mr. White’s presentation, I may comment further at another time. 
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« Reply #76 on: October 25, 2011, 01:40:18 PM »

A few additional thoughts:

From what I understood from Mr. White, you are “saved” if you can see the fruits of the Spirit in your life, and if over a number of years you have gained mastery over at least your major sins and no longer having even the desire to sin.  Once you are “saved” by this criteria, you remain “saved” regardless of how you live your life.  Your virtues and your sins do not affect your “status” before God.  This reasoning is strange, for Mr. White first describes proof of being “saved”, then states that this proof did not manifest itself in his own life until years after “getting saved”.  So which is it, was he “saved” those many years before overcoming the major sins and bearing fruit, or did his “getting saved” only become real when he began to bear fruit years later, or was the later bearing of fruit evidence that he had been saved years ago despite the lack of “evidence” at that time?  From an Orthodox perspective, all of this reasoning is exceedingly foolish.  This “model” seems to leave no room for the possibility that a person can “bear fruit” and overcome major sins, and believe himself to be “saved”, only to fall away, live sinfully again, and fail to repent.  I suppose Mr. White would say such a person was never truly “saved” from the beginning if they later fell away, or would he say that because they were convinced of being “saved” before falling their fall and subsequent sinfulness did not affect their “status” before God since they were already “saved?”  Do you see the madness and insanity of this teaching?  Who is it that can infallibly state that a person is saved or not, after which point their sins either do or do not matter before God?  This is not the gospel, but a mockery of it.

Mr. White also states that those who believe that “works” are important intend to stand before God justifying themselves based on their deeds.  What is the basis for this assertion?  How can we say we love the Lord if we do not diligently strive to fulfill his commandments by our deeds?  In the Orthodox Church we do not have this “faith vs. works” false dichotomy that Mr. White speaks of.  Even our greatest saints, who gave all their possessions to the poor, ate one meal a day, spent every night in prayer sleeping only an hour or two a night, worked miracles, etc., even they did not end their lives boasting of their achievements but often departed hoping in God’s mercy but not certain of their eternal salvation.  We should not at any time trust that we are “saved” but always try to struggle to overcome our passions and become worthy of the grace of God.  One fasts and prays in order to humble himself and see his own sins more clearly, that he might more completely repent and by guided more fully by the Holy Spirit.  By contrast, Mr. White’s teaching on “being saved” can easily become a cause of pride and a reason to condemn others.  Again, who has the authority to determine they are “saved”, according to Mr. White?  It is up to a person’s own subjective opinion to say “I am loving, patient, kind, good, gentle, self-controlled, etc.” and also to judge others by saying “that person sure doesn’t act like he’s saved.”  A person who is eager to believe that they are “saved” in this manner is easily led to self-justification and denial regarding their own sins, refusing to believe that they are sinful and in error because they are so eager to convince themselves that they are indeed “saved”, and “saved” people are supposed to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit rather than their opposites.  In the Orthodox Church, in our services and in our daily prayers, we ceaselessly cry “Lord, have mercy”.  We also openly confess our sins in the presence of a priest, and we seek to purify our hearts by admitting our sins very openly and by struggling with the help of God to overcome them.  We do not repent and struggle to obey Christ’s commandments  in order to justify ourselves but in order to say, “'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do (Luke 17:10),” remembering also that   “if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged (1 Cor 11:31).”  Compared to the Orthodox Christian who struggles to obey Christ yet reposes in repentance and humility, trusting in God’s mercy with hope in his salvation but uncertain as to his eternal end, it is the Protestant confidently asserting that he is “saved” who appears to be the one ready to justify himself before God.   From an Orthodox perspective, however, all such assertions by Protestants to the effect that they are “saved” and “guaranteed” eternal life are quite clearly the results of demonic deception and spiritual delusion; the outcome of accepting the “teachings of men” and “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1); and the effect of being cut off from the one Church which is the body of Christ, the pillar and ground of truth, and the guardian and dispenser of the grace-filled mysteries.     

Mr. White also speaks of verses such as “If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15)” and “by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3)”, and he initially tries to say that the reference to the plural (commandments) refers only to the singular commandment to “love one another”.  It seems that he then edited what he said to point out another command of Christ, but I cannot recall what verse referred to exactly.  In any case, the Lord did say, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matt 22:38-40).”  These two commands certainly summarize the commandments of God and Christ.  However, while they summarize Christ’s commandments, He did give many specific commandments to elaborate upon what exactly it means to love God and neighbor, and we are expected to follow these commandments also.  The Sermon on the Mount is full of Christ’s commandments, for instance:

18"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. 27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 31 "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. 33 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. 38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:18-48).

If the above words of Christ are not his “commandments”, what are they?  Suggestions?  Displays of mere cleverness?  If the Lord does not expect us to follow his instructions, why did he give them?  Yes, the free doing of all that Christ taught is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit in us, but the active forcing of our will to do the will of God is also necessary to oppose the flesh and remain united to the will of God, “for the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matt 11:12)” and we must “"strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able (Luke 13:24).”  Regarding the commandments of Christ, see also the following homily by St. John Chrysostom on the words “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets (Matt 5:17):”

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.XVI.html

Just near the end of the recording, around 46:20, Mr. White says that “the Lord was crushed by the wrath of God.”  From an Orthodox perspective, this a reprehensible statement that I don’t think warrants any further commentary.

I apologize for the length, but I had a few more thoughts after listening to more.  By no means are these thoughts comprehensive or exhaustive. 
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« Reply #77 on: October 25, 2011, 02:00:55 PM »

Once love of God and man is understood as a verb as opposed to an emotion (which I'm sure Mr. White does) then it is clear to me that keeping the whole of God's commandments is included in the two greatest (murder is not love, neglecting fasting without a good reason is not love, not going to church without a good reason is not love, etc. etc. etc.)

To add to the point on knowing if one is saved, I'd just like to re-post this:


Quote
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.
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« Reply #78 on: October 25, 2011, 04:15:15 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?
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« Reply #79 on: October 25, 2011, 04:44:27 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

How does one trust in Christ?

Please answer. I would like for no one else to jump in. You never answered what faith is. This will keep going around in circles.

How does one trust in Christ?
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« Reply #80 on: October 25, 2011, 04:47:40 PM »

If a person dies in a state of repentance but still has some unconfessed sins they are guilty of, they may be further purified through the suffering they experience in the body prior to the soul’s separation from the body at the time of death, and the soul may be further purified after its separation from the body and prior to the Great Judgment through the prayers that the Church offers on behalf of the reposed, by commemoration of the reposed in the Divine Liturgies, and through the suffering the soul may experience on account of pangs of conscience.  I realize these last points regarding the soul after death is a separate and very large topic, and also is a teaching which is in great contrast to Protestant thought on the subject, but I wanted to mention this here because it is relevant.

You see, this is EXACTLY what I mean. We will ALWAYS have unconfessed sins after we die, no matter how hard we try to have a "clean slate". Where in the Bible does it say we will be purified after death? Where in the Bible does it say we need to confess all our sins in order to enter heaven?

The point is, we can NEVER die having every single sin confessed. That is why we trust in CHRIST's works, and not our own, as He is our advocate with the Father and His blood covers over our sins. That is how we enter heaven. Isnt this what the Bible teaches?
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« Reply #81 on: October 25, 2011, 04:50:16 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

How does one trust in Christ?

Please answer. I would like for no one else to jump in. You never answered what faith is. This will keep going around in circles.

How does one trust in Christ?

Someone acknowledges what Christ has done for them in His death and resurrection. YES we must strive to be like Christ, YES we must stay to the end, but in the end there will always be leftover sins. This is where Christ's penal atonement comes in. Our sins were punished by Christ on the cross. If we believe in Him as our Savior and earnestly follow Him as our Lord (note we can never do this perfectly), when we can enter heaven through His blood which covers our sins. This is how I have always understood it. Does the Bible say otherwise? Do the Fathers say otherwise?
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« Reply #82 on: October 25, 2011, 05:04:21 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

How does one trust in Christ?

Please answer. I would like for no one else to jump in. You never answered what faith is. This will keep going around in circles.

How does one trust in Christ?

Also, perhaps as a corollary, you can explain to me how trusting in Christ (if by that you mean a conscious decision or something like that) is not a work? I've never been able to understand this concept. It seems like a false dichotomy.
And why, in the parable of the Last Judgment, is the things that we do for other people the standard by which we will be judged, if works are not important to our salvation?
Perhaps while you're at it, you could explain what you mean by salvation - is it "only" our eventual eternal destination or does it also encompass healing and restoration? I've noticed a tendency on the part of some Protestants to separate salvation into two parts.
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« Reply #83 on: October 25, 2011, 05:04:48 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

Look at it like this. Good things aren't really "good", they're normal. We are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, and to be conformed to Christ Who is perfect. Everyone falls short of this perfect standard. Just because we fall short doesn't mean that our effort is meaningless. God gave us commandments, not suggestions. We are called to persevere and endure, not sit back and do nothing and see what naturally flows out. Salvation is a relationship with God (not just exemption from extreme displeasure). You can't "earn" a relationship, and you can't have that relationship without the other person. We don't make our own righteousness, we receive it from God, Who is righteousness.

Trusting God is not mutually exclusive with putting forth effort, and the word "reward" is used a number of times in a positive context in the NT.

The one thing I hate about all of these "earn salvation" arguments is that they put "following the Gospel" in opposition to "trusting God".
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« Reply #84 on: October 25, 2011, 05:07:50 PM »

OK. I am finished.

Many words = little agreement.

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« Reply #85 on: October 25, 2011, 05:34:06 PM »

Fr. Thomas Hopko once quoted another priest: "Telling someone 'The Bible says...' is like saying, 'The library says.'"

The Bible is not a person. It is a collection of books.
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« Reply #86 on: October 25, 2011, 05:57:53 PM »

If a person dies in a state of repentance but still has some unconfessed sins they are guilty of, they may be further purified through the suffering they experience in the body prior to the soul’s separation from the body at the time of death, and the soul may be further purified after its separation from the body and prior to the Great Judgment through the prayers that the Church offers on behalf of the reposed, by commemoration of the reposed in the Divine Liturgies, and through the suffering the soul may experience on account of pangs of conscience.  I realize these last points regarding the soul after death is a separate and very large topic, and also is a teaching which is in great contrast to Protestant thought on the subject, but I wanted to mention this here because it is relevant.

You see, this is EXACTLY what I mean. We will ALWAYS have unconfessed sins after we die, no matter how hard we try to have a "clean slate". Where in the Bible does it say we will be purified after death? Where in the Bible does it say we need to confess all our sins in order to enter heaven?

The point is, we can NEVER die having every single sin confessed. That is why we trust in CHRIST's works, and not our own, as He is our advocate with the Father and His blood covers over our sins. That is how we enter heaven. Isnt this what the Bible teaches?
You seem to be looking at this as an either/or situation. I believe it is both. The situation is that I only have say over what I bring to the table, paltry as it is, it is all I have to offer.
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« Reply #87 on: October 25, 2011, 10:18:54 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

How does one trust in Christ?

Please answer. I would like for no one else to jump in. You never answered what faith is. This will keep going around in circles.

How does one trust in Christ?

Also, perhaps as a corollary, you can explain to me how trusting in Christ (if by that you mean a conscious decision or something like that) is not a work? I've never been able to understand this concept. It seems like a false dichotomy.
And why, in the parable of the Last Judgment, is the things that we do for other people the standard by which we will be judged, if works are not important to our salvation?
Perhaps while you're at it, you could explain what you mean by salvation - is it "only" our eventual eternal destination or does it also encompass healing and restoration? I've noticed a tendency on the part of some Protestants to separate salvation into two parts.

Faith is not a work, it is a gift of grace in itself. One cannot come to have faith in Christ unless the Father draws him.
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« Reply #88 on: October 25, 2011, 10:46:27 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

How does one trust in Christ?

Please answer. I would like for no one else to jump in. You never answered what faith is. This will keep going around in circles.

How does one trust in Christ?

Also, perhaps as a corollary, you can explain to me how trusting in Christ (if by that you mean a conscious decision or something like that) is not a work? I've never been able to understand this concept. It seems like a false dichotomy.
And why, in the parable of the Last Judgment, is the things that we do for other people the standard by which we will be judged, if works are not important to our salvation?
Perhaps while you're at it, you could explain what you mean by salvation - is it "only" our eventual eternal destination or does it also encompass healing and restoration? I've noticed a tendency on the part of some Protestants to separate salvation into two parts.

Faith is not a work, it is a gift of grace in itself. One cannot come to have faith in Christ unless the Father draws him.

I perceive an inexorable descent into double predestination and other doctrines of Calvinism in your current mode of thought. Would this be an unfair statement?
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« Reply #89 on: October 25, 2011, 10:50:32 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

How does one trust in Christ?

Please answer. I would like for no one else to jump in. You never answered what faith is. This will keep going around in circles.

How does one trust in Christ?

Also, perhaps as a corollary, you can explain to me how trusting in Christ (if by that you mean a conscious decision or something like that) is not a work? I've never been able to understand this concept. It seems like a false dichotomy.
And why, in the parable of the Last Judgment, is the things that we do for other people the standard by which we will be judged, if works are not important to our salvation?
Perhaps while you're at it, you could explain what you mean by salvation - is it "only" our eventual eternal destination or does it also encompass healing and restoration? I've noticed a tendency on the part of some Protestants to separate salvation into two parts.

Faith is not a work, it is a gift of grace in itself. One cannot come to have faith in Christ unless the Father draws him.

I perceive an inexorable descent into double predestination and other doctrines of Calvinism in your current mode of thought. Would this be an unfair statement?

Thats just what the Lord says.

I dont know, maybe I'm becoming a Calvinist. I probably need to take a break from polemics for now and just visit a church.
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« Reply #90 on: October 25, 2011, 11:01:58 PM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

How does one trust in Christ?

Please answer. I would like for no one else to jump in. You never answered what faith is. This will keep going around in circles.

How does one trust in Christ?

Also, perhaps as a corollary, you can explain to me how trusting in Christ (if by that you mean a conscious decision or something like that) is not a work? I've never been able to understand this concept. It seems like a false dichotomy.
And why, in the parable of the Last Judgment, is the things that we do for other people the standard by which we will be judged, if works are not important to our salvation?
Perhaps while you're at it, you could explain what you mean by salvation - is it "only" our eventual eternal destination or does it also encompass healing and restoration? I've noticed a tendency on the part of some Protestants to separate salvation into two parts.

Faith is not a work, it is a gift of grace in itself. One cannot come to have faith in Christ unless the Father draws him.

I perceive an inexorable descent into double predestination and other doctrines of Calvinism in your current mode of thought. Would this be an unfair statement?

Thats just what the Lord says [...] [snip]

Everything is by grace -- even works -- for we cannot breathe or lift a single finger but by the grace of God. This seems to me the "clear" teaching of the Holy Scriptures.

I don't think you should be so quick to say what it is "the Lord says". For every "clear" passage of St Paul about faith and works, there are yet clearer words from the mouth of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ insisting upon the importance for salvation of keeping his commandments. Unless you have the wisdom to say what it is St Paul really meant (or, more terribly, what the Lord himself really meant) you shouldn't be so quick to pronounce, declare and define what is or is not the Word of God.
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« Reply #91 on: October 25, 2011, 11:17:02 PM »

Im not sure even what I'm saying, the Evangelical argument makes just as much sense if not more sense than the Orthodox argument at times. As soon as I start to understand the Orthodox argument the Evangelical one seems to just shoot it right down. 

This is a statement from an evangelical on another orthodox forum I go to. He was describing a possible discussion between a Protestant and an Orthodox. He was once Orthodox for several years.

P: You are justified by Jesus Christ which you receive by grace through faith alone.
O: So works have nothing to do with salvation?
P: No, works have everything to do with salvation. Everyone will be judged by God's Law and saved and damned based on works.
O: What!? So it's not really by faith alone?
P: We are saved by Christ's works which we receive by grace through faith alone. We will be judged based on our works and inevitably found guilty. But if we have repented and put our trust in Christ, His blood will cover us and His works will count in place of ours. So it is by faith alone that we receive Christ's saving works.
O: Well, what about the command to do good works in this life?
P: We are indeed commanded this and they bear witness to a genuine "saving faith." But they cannot save us on judgement day. Only Christ's righteousness, Christ's works will save us, and any good works we do after our justification are themselves only possible because of the work of the Trinity in our lives. So true believers strive to work because we're saved, not in order to be saved. Make sense?
O: Yes, but you said earlier that you have to repent and trust in Christ. Aren't those works?
P: Yes. But notice that grace proceeds faith. We cannot come to the knowledge of our sins, repent of them, and trust in Christ unless we receive all of these as a gift. Faith itself is a gift of grace. Thus, salvation from beginning to end, truly is "of the Lord" because we are saved by the grace of God.

The Protestant argument just seems to be more "complete" to me. It just seems to make more sense!
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« Reply #92 on: October 25, 2011, 11:18:00 PM »

Yes, faith is a gift, but why can't that gift come with the means to reject it? The definition of a gift does not include the receiver being forced to keep it forever.
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« Reply #93 on: October 25, 2011, 11:19:25 PM »

I dont know, maybe I'm becoming a Calvinist. I probably need to take a break from polemics for now and just visit a church.
The best idea my friend. I actually had to take a break from debating with atheists and go to Church more reguarly which helped me considerably. Alot of these polemics can really wear down on a person.
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« Reply #94 on: October 26, 2011, 12:57:14 AM »

The end of it all is, we cannot trust in our cooperation with God, our good works, or any of that on the day of final judgement. YES we should strive for holiness, YES we should strive for complete communion with God, YES we should strive to partake in the divine nature, but in the end we will always fall short, so we trust in CHRIST's works, CHRIST's righteousness, and CHRIST's blood, which covers up our sins and makes us innocent before God on judgement day. Isnt this what the Bible teaches? This is how I've always understood it. Is this concept problematic within Orthodoxy? If so, why?

It seems apparent that you feel a strong need for certainty, for that “blessed assurance” that Protestants often speak of, and “eternal security”.  However, all of the promises of God in the Scriptures are conditional, including the promise of the kingdom and life eternal.  If you read the lives of the saints of our Church over the past 2,000 years beginning with the Apostles, you will not find any evidence of this idea of “eternal security”, or confidence that the Lord will definitely “cover up our sins” and “make us innocent” at the Judgment if we fail to follow his commands.  Regarding certainty, and confidence, the Scripture say for instance:

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming (1 John 2:28).

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God (1 John 3:21).


We will have confidence before the judgment, according to these Scriptures, if we abide in Christ and have a pure conscience before Him.  The Lord says in John 14:10, we abide in His love by keeping his commandments.  If we sin and fail to repent, we may hope in His mercy, but we have no guarantee that God will save us.  In one of the audio files from Mr. White he says something to the effect that when we stand before God, if we are “saved” then God will only see Christ and his righteousness when he looks at us.  This is very unscriptural and ignores all references to being judged “according to your works” and removes all personal responsibility.   

I do agree with you that visiting an Orthodox church and speaking with the priest is the best way forward and would certainly encourage you in this direction.  Face to face communication with a real person who is a priest of the Orthodox Church is much more productive than discussing things with an anonymous mob on the Internet.

In closing, for your interest, I wanted to pass on a link to the text from St. Mark the Ascetic (5th-6th century) entitled On Those who Think They Are Made Righteous by Works.  Below is the link, followed by a few quotes:

http://jbburnett.com/resources/mark_ascetic-righteousness.pdf

St. Mark the Ascetic
On Those who Think They Are Made Righteous by Works


1. In the texts which follow, the beliefs of those in error will be refuted by those whose
faith is well founded and who know the truth.

2. Wishing to show that to fulfil every commandment is a duty, whereas sonship is a
gift given to men through His own Blood, the Lord said: ‘When you have done all
that is commanded you, say: ‘We are useless servants: we have only done what
was our duty’ (Lk 17.10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works,
but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for his faithful servants.

3. A slave does not demand his freedom as a reward; but he gives satisfaction as one
who is in debt, and he receives freedom as a gift.

4. ‘Christ died on account of our sins in accordance with the Scriptures’ (1Co 15:3);
and to those who serve Him well He gives freedom. ‘Well done, good and faithful
servant,’ He says, ‘you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler
over many things: enter into the joy of your Lord’ (Mt 25:21).

5. He who relies on theoretical knowledge alone is not yet a faithful servant: a faithful
servant is one who expresses his faith in Christ through obedience to His
commandments.

15. When we fulfil the commandments in our outward actions, we receive from the
Lord what is appropriate; but any real benefit we gain depends on our inward
intention.

18. Some without fulfilling the commandments think that they possess true faith.
Others fulfil the commandments and then expect the kingdom as a reward due to
them. Both are mistaken.

19. A master is under no obligation to reward his slaves; on the other hand, those who
do not serve him well are not given their freedom.

20. If ‘Christ died on our account in accordance with the Scriptures’ (Rm 5:8; 1Co
15:3), and we do not ‘live for ourselves’, but ‘for Him who died and rose’ on our
account (2Co 5:15), it is clear that we are debtors to Christ to serve Him till our
death. How then can we regard sonship as something which is our due?

21. Christ is Master by virtue of His own essence and Master by virtue of His incarnate
life. For He creates man from nothing, and through His own Blood redeems him
when dead in sin; and to those who believe in Him He has given His grace.

22. When Scripture says ‘He will reward every man according to his works’ (Mt 16:27),
do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the kingdom. On the
contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with
faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but God
our Creator and Redeemer.

23. We who have received baptism offer good works, not by way of repayment, but to
preserve the purity given to us.

24. Every good work which we perform through our own natural powers causes us to
refrain from the corresponding sin; but without grace it cannot contribute to our
sanctification.

25. The self-controlled refrain from gluttony; those who have renounced possessions,
from greed; the tranquil, from loquacity; the pure, from self-indulgence; the modest,
from unchastity; the self-dependent, from avarice; the gentle, from agitation; the
humble, from self-esteem; the obedient, from quarrelling; the self-critical, from
hypocrisy. Similarly, those who pray are protected from despair; the poor, from
having many possessions; confessors of the faith, from its denial; martyrs, from
idolatry. Do you see how every virtue that is performed even to the point of death is
nothing other than refraining from sin? Now to refrain from sin is a work within our
own natural powers, but not something that buys us the kingdom.

26. While man can scarcely keep what belongs to him by nature, Christ gives the
grace of sonship through the Cross.

51. When the intellect forgets the purpose of true devotion, then external works of
virtue bring no profit.

57. He who does something good and expects a reward is serving not God but his own
will.

58. A sinner cannot escape retribution except through repentance appropriate to his
offence.

61. Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into Christ; and
it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively observe the
commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do good– as far as
lies in our power– depends on us.

78. No one is as good and merciful as the Lord. But even He does not forgive the
unrepentant.

79. Many of us feel remorse for our sins, yet we gladly accept their causes.

109. One alone is righteous in works, words and thoughts. But many are made
righteous in faith, grace and repentance.

140. Some, when they actively observe the commandments, expect this to outweigh
their sins; others, who observe the commandments without this presumption, gain
the grace of Him who died on account of our sins. We should consider which of
these is right.


These are just a few quotes, but the entire work is worth reading from the link above.

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« Reply #95 on: October 26, 2011, 01:22:17 AM »

Thanks for these wonderful posts jah, I enjoy reading them and expanding my knowledge.
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« Reply #96 on: October 26, 2011, 02:10:47 AM »

Im not sure even what I'm saying, the Evangelical argument makes just as much sense if not more sense than the Orthodox argument at times. As soon as I start to understand the Orthodox argument the Evangelical one seems to just shoot it right down. 

This is a statement from an evangelical on another orthodox forum I go to. He was describing a possible discussion between a Protestant and an Orthodox. He was once Orthodox for several years.

P: You are justified by Jesus Christ which you receive by grace through faith alone.
O: So works have nothing to do with salvation?
P: No, works have everything to do with salvation. Everyone will be judged by God's Law and saved and damned based on works.
O: What!? So it's not really by faith alone?
P: We are saved by Christ's works which we receive by grace through faith alone. We will be judged based on our works and inevitably found guilty. But if we have repented and put our trust in Christ, His blood will cover us and His works will count in place of ours. So it is by faith alone that we receive Christ's saving works.
O: Well, what about the command to do good works in this life?
P: We are indeed commanded this and they bear witness to a genuine "saving faith." But they cannot save us on judgement day. Only Christ's righteousness, Christ's works will save us, and any good works we do after our justification are themselves only possible because of the work of the Trinity in our lives. So true believers strive to work because we're saved, not in order to be saved. Make sense?
O: Yes, but you said earlier that you have to repent and trust in Christ. Aren't those works?
P: Yes. But notice that grace proceeds faith. We cannot come to the knowledge of our sins, repent of them, and trust in Christ unless we receive all of these as a gift. Faith itself is a gift of grace. Thus, salvation from beginning to end, truly is "of the Lord" because we are saved by the grace of God.

The Protestant argument just seems to be more "complete" to me. It just seems to make more sense!




I understand. But remember that truth is not always defined by reason. We accept divine paradoxes, and we prostrate our intellect before Holy Mystery. Our Faith is not irrational, but it transcends logical syllogisms and systematic theological reductions. The dialectic materialism of Karl Marx is also very logical, but it is godless nevertheless.


Selam
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« Reply #97 on: October 26, 2011, 02:28:04 AM »

Yes, faith is a gift, but why can't that gift come with the means to reject it? The definition of a gift does not include the receiver being forced to keep it forever.

Romans 11:29 tells us that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.
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« Reply #98 on: October 26, 2011, 02:53:38 AM »

I dont know, maybe I'm becoming a Calvinist. I probably need to take a break from polemics for now and just visit a church.
The best idea my friend. I actually had to take a break from debating with atheists and go to Church more reguarly which helped me considerably. Alot of these polemics can really wear down on a person.

QFT.
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« Reply #99 on: October 26, 2011, 03:07:47 AM »

If God's grace is behind our every effort, then what exactly are the filthy rags (our works)?
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« Reply #100 on: October 26, 2011, 03:11:25 AM »

If God's grace is behind our every effort, then what exactly are the filthy rags (our works)?

FP,

You have the finest marriage of avatar, username, and .sig ever.

That metaphor breaks down except within certain places in Utah, I guess.
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« Reply #101 on: October 26, 2011, 03:26:04 AM »

Polygamy humour with my coffee and eggs, just what i need to start my day with a smile.

Do they have a special dispensation on religious grounds or is it illegal in the salty lakes?
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« Reply #102 on: October 26, 2011, 05:53:05 AM »

It's been illegal since 1890, I believe. However, in some places, a few people still practice it. They can be prosecuted under state law.
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« Reply #103 on: October 26, 2011, 09:08:19 AM »

Faith is not a work, it is a gift of grace in itself. One cannot come to have faith in Christ unless the Father draws him.
I perceive an inexorable descent into double predestination and other doctrines of Calvinism in your current mode of thought. Would this be an unfair statement?
Thats just what the Lord says.

I dont know, maybe I'm becoming a Calvinist. I probably need to take a break from polemics for now and just visit a church.

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?
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« Reply #104 on: October 26, 2011, 09:41:20 AM »

Im not sure even what I'm saying, the Evangelical argument makes just as much sense if not more sense than the Orthodox argument at times. As soon as I start to understand the Orthodox argument the Evangelical one seems to just shoot it right down. 

This is a statement from an evangelical on another orthodox forum I go to. He was describing a possible discussion between a Protestant and an Orthodox. He was once Orthodox for several years.

P: You are justified by Jesus Christ which you receive by grace through faith alone.
O: So works have nothing to do with salvation?
P: No, works have everything to do with salvation. Everyone will be judged by God's Law and saved and damned based on works.
O: What!? So it's not really by faith alone?
P: We are saved by Christ's works which we receive by grace through faith alone. We will be judged based on our works and inevitably found guilty. But if we have repented and put our trust in Christ, His blood will cover us and His works will count in place of ours. So it is by faith alone that we receive Christ's saving works.
O: Well, what about the command to do good works in this life?
P: We are indeed commanded this and they bear witness to a genuine "saving faith." But they cannot save us on judgement day. Only Christ's righteousness, Christ's works will save us, and any good works we do after our justification are themselves only possible because of the work of the Trinity in our lives. So true believers strive to work because we're saved, not in order to be saved. Make sense?
O: Yes, but you said earlier that you have to repent and trust in Christ. Aren't those works?
P: Yes. But notice that grace proceeds faith. We cannot come to the knowledge of our sins, repent of them, and trust in Christ unless we receive all of these as a gift. Faith itself is a gift of grace. Thus, salvation from beginning to end, truly is "of the Lord" because we are saved by the grace of God.

The Protestant argument just seems to be more "complete" to me. It just seems to make more sense!

Yes, this is a nice and neat presentation, but it cannot be accepted without rejecting much of the Scriptures.  In past posts I have presented many of the verses from the Scriptures which contradict the above presentation, and you would have to ignore these Scriptures altogether to adopt the nicely packaged presentation above.  Of course, the presentation above is not entirely wrong on every point, but “faith alone” is not Scriptural, nor can one claim to already “be saved” in the sense of having “eternal security”.       

So far, you have mostly presented Protestant ideas and have not provided much in the way of a reply to the Orthodox responses and critiques offered to you in return, nor to the Scriptures presented to you which contradict the belief in “faith alone,” “grace alone,” etc.  For a more productive exchange, perhaps you can explain how you think the above presentation from the Protestant fits in with the instruction to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” or that the Lord will judge each “according to their works (Rev 20:12)” and not according to the works of Christ, that faith is always tied to action (Acts 2:38 says we do not receive remission of sins without repentance and baptism, and the Lord says in John 3:5 that we will not enter the kingdom of heaven without baptism), and that “he who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22).”  The Lord says many things that we must do to be saved, all of which we cannot do without faith, but nevertheless there is no “faith alone” but always “faith working together with works”.  Faith is a cooperation with the grace of God and not a “mere” gift.  God does not overwhelm our will, or replace our will with His, and force us by His grace to believe and obey his commandments.  While we cannot be saved without faith, God cannot save us against our will  if we exercise our free will in rejecting his commandments and refusing to repent.  The fact that God will not save us against our will does not mean, however, that we are “saved by our own will alone”.  So, with faith and grace there still needs to be the full and intentional exercise of man’s free will to accept God’s grace, to be baptized, to fulfill the commandments, to turn from evil, and to repent.

Again, in the Orthodox Church we know that our works cannot save us and that salvation only comes by the mercy of God on account of what Christ has done for our salvation and our response to Christ.  However, we do know that our deeds will be examined to see if we truly repented in this life and served Christ rather than our own passions.  Will we fall short when we are examined?  Will we come up lacking?  We leave this judgment to God, realizing our sinfulness and hoping in His mercy.  We do not have the right to claim that we know how God will judge, that He will consider our sins washed away by the blood of Christ, or any such thing.  Such assertions give us false hope, they cause us to grow slack in the following of Christ’s commandments and negligent in repentance, and lead to the rejection of the words of the Scriptures themselves.   

Every year in the liturgical calendar, on the third Sunday of Great Lent, all Orthodox Christians  throughout the whole world participate in a service dedicated to the Last Judgment which expresses the Orthodox and ancient Christian attitude towards this future event.  Below is a small excerpt from the Vespers service.  Note the attitude and disposition expressed in these words, the realization of our sinfulness, the sincere contrition, the sorrow over our sins, and the hope that God will save us even though we are unworthy.  One will not find any attitude of boasting, of asserting that “we are saved already”, of rejoicing at the Judgment, nor any great confidence that God will definitely save us despite our sins because of the work that Christ did on our behalf.  We know that God is God, and we can only offer him our repentance and hope that He accepts this:   

from Vespers for the Sunday of the Last Judgment

When Thou shalt come, O righteous Judge, /
to execute just judgment, /
seated on Thy throne of glory, /
a river of fire will draw all men amazed before Thy judgment-seat; /
the powers of heaven will stand beside Thee, /
and in fear mankind will be judged according to the deeds that each has done. /
Then spare us, Christ, in Thy compassion, /
with faith we entreat Thee, //
and count us worthy of Thy blessings with those that are saved.

The books will be opened and the acts of men will be revealed /
before the unbearable judgment-seat; /
and the whole vale of sorrow shall echo /
with the fearful sound of lamentation, /
as all the sinners, weeping in vain, /
are sent by Thy just judgment to everlasting torment. /
Therefore we beseech Thee, O compassionate and loving Lord: /
spare us who sing Thy praise, //
for Thou alone art rich in mercy.

The trumpets shall sound and the tombs shall be emptied, /
and all mankind in trembling shall be raised. /
Those that have done good shall rejoice in gladness, /
awaiting their reward; /
those that have sinned shall tremble and bitterly lament, /
as they are sent to punishment /
and parted from the chosen. /
O Lord of glory, take pity on us in Thy goodness, //
and count us worthy of a place with them that have loved Thee.

I lament and weep when I think of the eternal fire, /
the outer darkness and the nether world, /
the dread worm and the gnashing of teeth /
and the unceasing anguish /
that shall befall those who have sinned without measure, /
by their wickedness arousing Thee to anger, O Supreme in love. /
Among them in my misery I am first: /
but, O Judge compassionate, //
in Thy mercy save me.

When the thrones are set up and the books are opened, /
and God sits in judgment, /
O what fear there will be then! /
When the angels stand trembling in Thy presence /
and the river of fire flows before Thee, /
what shall we do then, guilty of many sins? /
When we hear Him call the blessed of His Father into the Kingdom, /
but send the sinners to their punishment, /
who shall endure His fearful condemnation? /
But, O Savior Who alone lovest mankind, King of the ages, /
before the end comes turn me back through repentance //
and have mercy on me.

Alas, black soul! /
How long wilt thou continue in evil? /
How long wilt thou lie in idleness? /
Why dost thou not think of the fearful hour of death? /
Why dost thou not tremble at the dread judgment seat of the Savior? /
What defense then wilt thou make, or what wilt thou answer? /
Thy works will be there to accuse thee; /
thine actions will reproach thee and condemn thee. /
O my soul, the time is near at hand; /
make haste before it is too late, and cry aloud in faith: /
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Thee; /
but I know Thy love for man and Thy compassion. /
O good Shepherd, deprive me not of a place at Thy right hand //
in Thy great mercy.
 

I’m sure you see how the above texts impress upon a person a “Godly sorrow” which “produces repentance leading to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10).”  A man becomes immune to such Godly sorrow when he convinces himself that Christ will save him despite his sins, that he is saved already for all eternity, that he has been given a free gift of salvation which he can never lose, etc.  In twisting the Scriptures to provide such a “positive” message, a man becomes incapable of the true and authentic repentance needed for salvation.  He also becomes incapable of hearing the real gospel of the true Church which is not nearly as appealing to the flesh, but which has within it all of the grace and tools given by God for the salvation of man.  The one Church of Christ is the Ark of Salvation built by God to bring man into His eternal kingdom.  Protestants have build many small yachts and motor boats, many of which have very attractive designs and appear to be both fast and efficient.  However, in the end, one has to make a choice between what God has built for our salvation and carefully and consistently guided for 2,000 years, and the multitude of small crafts, recently created by men, that travel in various directions and all claim to be the true Ark of living God.  The Ark is old and rather austere, with few bodily comforts, but we know Who built it, where it is going, and how it is going to get there.  It has been on a single trajectory for 2,000 years, has never veered off course, and has shone no signs of deterioration during this time.  With the various newly built crafts of uncertain origin that are constantly falling apart, being rebuilt, and changing course, we do not know where they are going but we know for sure that they do not have the same builder or the same captain, and they are clearly not travelling in the same direction.
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« Reply #105 on: October 26, 2011, 09:49:09 AM »

Faith is not a work, it is a gift of grace in itself. One cannot come to have faith in Christ unless the Father draws him.

But does this mean that the Father gives faith to some and not to others? (That's why Calvinism has always seemed like such a dead end to me. It makes no sense.)
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« Reply #106 on: October 26, 2011, 09:52:07 AM »

Faith is not a work, it is a gift of grace in itself. One cannot come to have faith in Christ unless the Father draws him.
I perceive an inexorable descent into double predestination and other doctrines of Calvinism in your current mode of thought. Would this be an unfair statement?
Thats just what the Lord says.

I dont know, maybe I'm becoming a Calvinist. I probably need to take a break from polemics for now and just visit a church.

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?

That would be those given over to their sin? Psalm 81:12 - 2 Thess 2:11
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« Reply #107 on: October 26, 2011, 09:53:36 AM »

Faith is not a work, it is a gift of grace in itself. One cannot come to have faith in Christ unless the Father draws him.

But does this mean that the Father gives faith to some and not to others? (That's why Calvinism has always seemed like such a dead end to me. It makes no sense.)

Romans 12:3, everyone has a measure of faith
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« Reply #108 on: October 26, 2011, 10:05:47 AM »

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?
That would be those given over to their sin?

Psalm 81:12

This is made in reference to God's own chosen people.

[/quote]2 Thess 2:11[/quote]

This is in reference to those who "had pleasure" (that word also means "to be willing" according to Mr Strong) in unrighteousness.

God did not "give them up" until after they had willfully rejected Him.
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« Reply #109 on: October 26, 2011, 10:11:04 AM »

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?
That would be those given over to their sin?

Psalm 81:12

This is made in reference to God's own chosen people.

2 Thess 2:11[/quote]

This is in reference to those who "had pleasure" (that word also means "to be willing" according to Mr Strong) in unrighteousness.

God did not "give them up" until after they had willfully rejected Him.
[/quote]
I was going to say that about 2 Thess. Interesting verse. It does seem like it is saying, "There will be a delusion for those who already have rejected God and righteousness." It only says that He is providing the delusion itself, that all of us aren't destined to believe in it or not. It will simply exist, and those who have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will simply believe it.
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« Reply #110 on: October 26, 2011, 07:17:26 PM »

Yes, faith is a gift, but why can't that gift come with the means to reject it? The definition of a gift does not include the receiver being forced to keep it forever.

Romans 11:29 tells us that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.
This is true. Ultimately everyone will be illumined and know who the true God is, "every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess." Some people won't do this gladly and will still hate God. I suppose in a sense they've taken their faith and done evil with it.
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« Reply #111 on: October 26, 2011, 07:20:50 PM »

If God's grace is behind our every effort, then what exactly are the filthy rags (our works)?
God is behind every good thing we do. When we try to strike out on our own and do something we think will obligate Him to save us, that's when we realize we can never stack up. At least this is how I read that passage.
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« Reply #112 on: October 26, 2011, 07:30:32 PM »

Our righteousness is as filthy rags. God's righteousness is not. Therefore, when we live in faith in the ways of the Church Jesus created, we have a chance to experience God's righteousness, not our own.
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« Reply #113 on: October 26, 2011, 07:37:11 PM »

Yes, faith is a gift, but why can't that gift come with the means to reject it? The definition of a gift does not include the receiver being forced to keep it forever.

Romans 11:29 tells us that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.
This is true. Ultimately everyone will be illumined and know who the true God is, "every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess." Some people won't do this gladly and will still hate God. I suppose in a sense they've taken their faith and done evil with it.

Also, the word "irrevocable" means the gift cannot be revoked by its giver, not that the recipient is not free to refuse or abandon the gift.

I don't have the Greek in front of me as I type ...
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« Reply #114 on: October 27, 2011, 10:45:31 AM »

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?
That would be those given over to their sin?

Psalm 81:12

This is made in reference to God's own chosen people.

Quote
2 Thess 2:11

This is in reference to those who "had pleasure" (that word also means "to be willing" according to Mr Strong) in unrighteousness.

God did not "give them up" until after they had willfully rejected Him.
I was going to say that about 2 Thess. Interesting verse. It does seem like it is saying, "There will be a delusion for those who already have rejected God and righteousness." It only says that He is providing the delusion itself, that all of us aren't destined to believe in it or not. It will simply exist, and those who have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will simply believe it.

Greek: "energy of deceit;" a Hebraism, meaning strong deceit, according to one commentary. It is an interesting verse and it's why i asked because once someone has remained in sin over and over with no attempt at repenting then, God gives them over to their sin.

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« Reply #115 on: October 27, 2011, 10:56:00 AM »

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?
That would be those given over to their sin?

Psalm 81:12

This is made in reference to God's own chosen people.

Quote
2 Thess 2:11

This is in reference to those who "had pleasure" (that word also means "to be willing" according to Mr Strong) in unrighteousness.

God did not "give them up" until after they had willfully rejected Him.
I was going to say that about 2 Thess. Interesting verse. It does seem like it is saying, "There will be a delusion for those who already have rejected God and righteousness." It only says that He is providing the delusion itself, that all of us aren't destined to believe in it or not. It will simply exist, and those who have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will simply believe it.

Greek: "energy of deceit;" a Hebraism, meaning strong deceit, according to one commentary. It is an interesting verse and it's why i asked because once someone has remained in sin over and over with no attempt at repenting then, God gives them over to their sin.



Good for you. God gives us everything, even our sin. Whether we like it or . . . Actually because we like it.
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« Reply #116 on: October 27, 2011, 11:11:28 AM »

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?
That would be those given over to their sin?

Psalm 81:12

This is made in reference to God's own chosen people.

Quote
2 Thess 2:11

This is in reference to those who "had pleasure" (that word also means "to be willing" according to Mr Strong) in unrighteousness.

God did not "give them up" until after they had willfully rejected Him.
I was going to say that about 2 Thess. Interesting verse. It does seem like it is saying, "There will be a delusion for those who already have rejected God and righteousness." It only says that He is providing the delusion itself, that all of us aren't destined to believe in it or not. It will simply exist, and those who have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will simply believe it.

Greek: "energy of deceit;" a Hebraism, meaning strong deceit, according to one commentary. It is an interesting verse and it's why i asked because once someone has remained in sin over and over with no attempt at repenting then, God gives them over to their sin.



Good for you. God gives us everything, even our sin. Whether we like it or . . . Actually because we like it.

He does. I wasn't sure if that's what Melodist was getting at.
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« Reply #117 on: October 27, 2011, 01:48:21 PM »

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?
That would be those given over to their sin?

Psalm 81:12

This is made in reference to God's own chosen people.

Quote
2 Thess 2:11

This is in reference to those who "had pleasure" (that word also means "to be willing" according to Mr Strong) in unrighteousness.

God did not "give them up" until after they had willfully rejected Him.
I was going to say that about 2 Thess. Interesting verse. It does seem like it is saying, "There will be a delusion for those who already have rejected God and righteousness." It only says that He is providing the delusion itself, that all of us aren't destined to believe in it or not. It will simply exist, and those who have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will simply believe it.
Greek: "energy of deceit;" a Hebraism, meaning strong deceit, according to one commentary. It is an interesting verse and it's why i asked because once someone has remained in sin over and over with no attempt at repenting then, God gives them over to their sin.
Good for you. God gives us everything, even our sin. Whether we like it or . . . Actually because we like it.
He does. I wasn't sure if that's what Melodist was getting at.

My point was that they are not denied repentence, having been given that opportunity before being "given over" to their sinful desires.

It's also been my experience (I suppose I could be wrong on this, just personal experience) that sometimes God can give someone over to their sin for a period of time to show them the error of their ways and the outcome of what it is they desire so they can seek God to give them repentence from their ways.

It was more of a question concerning double predestination than anything else.
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« Reply #118 on: October 27, 2011, 02:01:29 PM »

I was going to respond a bit similarly, except I knew that this would be heading into the foreknowledge/predestination debate.

I won't pretend to know a lot about the deeper meaning of the Bible, as I can only transliterate Greek, put it into Google, and hope to get an answer that makes sense to me.  Smiley But I do feel like the verse seems to me more like a consequence of man's own choice than God initially pushing those people away or destining them to not be with Him from the beginning.
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« Reply #119 on: October 27, 2011, 07:12:30 PM »

I won't pretend to know a lot about the deeper meaning of the Bible, as I can only transliterate Greek, put it into Google, and hope to get an answer that makes sense to me.  Smiley

I found this post really useful, takes a lot of the hard work out of it
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,39942.msg646512.html#msg646512
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« Reply #120 on: October 27, 2011, 10:20:57 PM »

Thank you, FountainPen! That post is a gold mine. I never found it in my slipshod search of the archives.

I do need to read more commentaries but I am a language freak and like being able to understand the text itself -- knowing the grammar rules and quirks of Greek would help here. But I suppose that being able to do that is many many years away.
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« Reply #121 on: October 27, 2011, 11:40:24 PM »

Do you believe that there is anyone who God either does not draw to Himself, purposely draws away from Himself, or somehow refuses to offer salvation to?
That would be those given over to their sin?

Psalm 81:12

This is made in reference to God's own chosen people.

Quote
2 Thess 2:11

This is in reference to those who "had pleasure" (that word also means "to be willing" according to Mr Strong) in unrighteousness.

God did not "give them up" until after they had willfully rejected Him.
I was going to say that about 2 Thess. Interesting verse. It does seem like it is saying, "There will be a delusion for those who already have rejected God and righteousness." It only says that He is providing the delusion itself, that all of us aren't destined to believe in it or not. It will simply exist, and those who have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will simply believe it.
Greek: "energy of deceit;" a Hebraism, meaning strong deceit, according to one commentary. It is an interesting verse and it's why i asked because once someone has remained in sin over and over with no attempt at repenting then, God gives them over to their sin.
Good for you. God gives us everything, even our sin. Whether we like it or . . . Actually because we like it.
He does. I wasn't sure if that's what Melodist was getting at.

My point was that they are not denied repentence, having been given that opportunity before being "given over" to their sinful desires.

It's also been my experience (I suppose I could be wrong on this, just personal experience) that sometimes God can give someone over to their sin for a period of time to show them the error of their ways and the outcome of what it is they desire so they can seek God to give them repentence from their ways.
I agree.
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« Reply #122 on: November 02, 2011, 12:23:50 PM »

The Orthodox message of salvation, or at least the way I view it, is too complicated for me. The Orthodox seem to preach that yes salvation is by grace, but grace must be worked with and that in order to be fully saved you have to be fully sanctified.

Hebrews 12:14:  "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord."

If by "fully sanctified" you mean perfectionism, Orthodoxy does not teach that, but a dialectic: we are saved as repentant sinners. Biblically repentance is not "One Grand Moment of Repentance" but a lifestyle/lifetime of repentance (in the Gospels it usually occurs in the Greek present/continual tense; we see the churches in Revelation again and again told to return to repentance), but as ever-repentant people, we continually cry "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!" until our last breath. Most Protestants -not all- agree that if there is never the pursuit of holiness/sanctification a person is not or never was "saved." Orthodox express this in a more simple rather than more complex manner, we do not create a "giant wall" between salvation and sanctification. There are also biblical reasons for supposing a radical separation of these categories is incorrect:

2 Thess 2:13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

Allow me to turn to the subject of grace, specifically "grace alone."

Titus 2:11-12 tells us grace produces a godly life: "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly ...lives in this present age" God's grace alone saves, but grace produces effects and is therefore "alone"only in the sense what/Who saves, but not alone in the sense of it having no effect like sanctification (biblically repentance, pursuit of holiness, the fruit of the Spirit, love, etc. are also produced by grace). Therefore 1 Jn 4:8 tells us "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." Just because the grace of God alone produces salvation does not mean that if I am loveless and bear no fruit that I have grace. In fact if I am loveless this proves I do not know God and do not have grace (1 Jn 4:8). So it would be a fallacy to say something like "if love is a part of the equation then it would not be grace alone, because grace produces love (love is the fruit of the Spirit), repentance, the fruit of the Spirit, a godly life, and so on according to scripture. It is grace rather than its (or rather *His*) effects that saves, but grace is certainly not alone in the sense that it produces no effects, and the axe is laid to the root of the tree that produces no fruit of grace, for grace is not really present in such a tree.

"'For it is God who works 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

Slogans like XYZ alone can be confusing. if you remember nothing else, try to remember this: grace alone saves, but grace doesn't remain alone because it produces stuff.
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« Reply #123 on: November 17, 2011, 06:15:13 PM »

The whole legalistic view, IMHO, means that God is bound by some law (that even He can't break) that says he HAS to "save us" if all we do is "believe" and nothing else.  It makes me feel as if it takes away from His love for us and actually our showing our love for Him... "Gosh, God, I SAID once I believed, so let me in those pearly gates!"
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« Reply #124 on: November 17, 2011, 07:04:39 PM »

The whole legalistic view, IMHO, means that God is bound by some law (that even He can't break) that says he HAS to "save us" if all we do is "believe" and nothing else.  It makes me feel as if it takes away from His love for us and actually our showing our love for Him... "Gosh, God, I SAID once I believed, so let me in those pearly gates!"

There are so many false dichotomies and linguistic problems in play.

Believe is one of the good Germanic words that if we take it seriously this stuff all falls apart.

Lieben and glauben share a same etymology. The former is to love, the latter to think, to believe. Our believe comes out of that same history, which fundamentally rest on a root that means: to love and to care (for).

Certainly even the non-German speaker can see the shared history:

believe
lieben

And if we take seriously the turn of language, the be- prefix tends to suggest the verb is transitive.

Therefore, if we want to get fancy we can say primordially that believe means to love or to care for someone or something.

And as James Joyce showed us in Molly Bloom's soliloquy, love is always an act that requires a repetitive yes. We cannot love someone for a moment and truly say we loved them. Nor is that yes some mere cognitive act. It is lived out as Joyce so wonderfully reveals in this passage. Not too mention the rarely mentioned that Molly Bloom's erotic revelry is an argument for God.

Quote
…I love flowers I’d love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven there’s nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying there’s no God I wouldn’t give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why don’t they go and create something I often asked him atheists or whatever they call themselves go and wash the cobbles off themselves first then they go howling for the priest and they dying and why why because they’re afraid of hell on account of their bad conscience ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they don’t know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons . . .

. . . as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

You can read the entire the piece here* without my violent editing:

http://poetrydispatch.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/james-joyce-molly-blooms-soliloquy/

To believe in God IS enough. In fact, how many of really do? Can we say to God, as Molly says to Bloom, Yes to Him in love for everything past, present, and coming? Right now? No matter how unfaithful we have been? Can we can say Yes and act toward him and thus the entire world with love?

Schlock enough?


*I cleaned up a typo or two in the part I quoted. Some may remain.
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« Reply #125 on: November 17, 2011, 07:22:56 PM »

^ Post of the month nominee.
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« Reply #126 on: November 17, 2011, 07:55:17 PM »

I dont know, maybe I'm becoming a Calvinist. I probably need to take a break from polemics for now and just visit a church.
The best idea my friend. I actually had to take a break from debating with atheists and go to Church more reguarly which helped me considerably. Alot of these polemics can really wear down on a person.

Agree!!  Run, run far away from this board for a time -- visit a church or visit a monastery.  Jesus said, "Come and see," not "come and discuss," "come and argue," "come and study," or "come and understand."  He said "come and see."  Go to Church. 
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« Reply #127 on: November 17, 2011, 08:04:37 PM »

Reading that Joyce quote induced in me at least three types of headache.
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« Reply #128 on: November 17, 2011, 08:20:18 PM »

The whole legalistic view, IMHO, means that God is bound by some law (that even He can't break) that says he HAS to "save us" if all we do is "believe" and nothing else.  It makes me feel as if it takes away from His love for us and actually our showing our love for Him... "Gosh, God, I SAID once I believed, so let me in those pearly gates!"

There are so many false dichotomies and linguistic problems in play.

Believe is one of the good Germanic words that if we take it seriously this stuff all falls apart.

Lieben and glauben share a same etymology. The former is to love, the latter to think, to believe. Our believe comes out of that same history, which fundamentally rest on a root that means: to love and to care (for).

Certainly even the non-German speaker can see the shared history:

believe
lieben

And if we take seriously the turn of language, the be- prefix tends to suggest the verb is transitive.

Therefore, if we want to get fancy we can say primordially that believe means to love or to care for someone or something.

And as James Joyce showed us in Molly Bloom's soliloquy, love is always an act that requires a repetitive yes. We cannot love someone for a moment and truly say we loved them. Nor is that yes some mere cognitive act. It is lived out as Joyce so wonderfully reveals in this passage. Not too mention the rarely mentioned that Molly Bloom's erotic revelry is an argument for God.

Quote
…I love flowers I’d love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven there’s nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying there’s no God I wouldn’t give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why don’t they go and create something I often asked him atheists or whatever they call themselves go and wash the cobbles off themselves first then they go howling for the priest and they dying and why why because they’re afraid of hell on account of their bad conscience ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they don’t know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons . . .

. . . as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

You can read the entire the piece here* without my violent editing:

http://poetrydispatch.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/james-joyce-molly-blooms-soliloquy/

To believe in God IS enough. In fact, how many of really do? Can we say to God, as Molly says to Bloom, Yes to Him in love for everything past, present, and coming? Right now? No matter how unfaithful we have been? Can we can say Yes and act toward him and thus the entire world with love?

Schlock enough?


*I cleaned up a typo or two in the part I quoted. Some may remain.



Oh dear Lord that was beautiful  and I second Father's nomination!

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« Reply #129 on: November 17, 2011, 09:24:58 PM »

^Nice!
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« Reply #130 on: November 18, 2011, 01:59:04 PM »

And as James Joyce showed us in Molly Bloom's soliloquy...
Or to sum up "These are the moments, I know heaven must exist"  Wink

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« Reply #131 on: November 18, 2011, 01:59:58 PM »

Reading that Joyce quote induced in me at least three types of headache.
"Read" Finnegan's Wake then LOL
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« Reply #132 on: November 18, 2011, 03:00:08 PM »

If I may reply to this conversation as it stands. Perhaps I missed it, but one I think it would be helpful to review our terminology. It is easy to talk past one another when we used the same words but mean somewhat different things by them.

Consider "salvation": what do we mean by it? Whether it is by faith or works or any interrelationship thereof, what is this salvation once it is attained?  The traditional western answer is forensic: right legal standing with God; being declared not guilty before Him. The term the west uses for this state is Justification. The traditional eastern answer is therapeutic: right standing before God because one has been healed and united to God. The term Orthodox use for fully realized salvation…is theosis, divinization.

Two terms here are occasions for us talking past one another, the first we've mentioned, "salvation", the other is "justification". It may help to remind ourselves that the NT is written in Koine Greek, and it is the Greek meaning of these words that would have been understood by their first hearers, not Latin, or English.  The Greek for "to save" and the root for the expanded variant which means "salvation" is Sozo. According to the NT Greek lexicon, sozo means: to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction one (from injury or peril), to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health

Notice the foundational idea is rooted in health and wholeness.  We see this in a cognate Latin word "salus", the root of the English word salvation, which means, health.

From this we see why Greeks and other Orthodox understand that the nature of salvation is a return to health to wholeness…but not as man is, rather as he was created and redeemed to be and to become, the image and likeness of God. The fathers teach us the image of God was given to Adam by God, but the likeness to God was for Adam to attain as he grew in God…like moving from the sketch of an icon to it's finished limned state. This understanding appears to be largely therapeutic.

Now lets turn to the term "justification". In English as in Latin from whence our western theological sensibilities arise, the term has a forensic sense. It is a legal term indicating a right standing, a vindication before the law.  But if we look at the Greek term underlying this we discover something a bit different. Dikaiosis is the Greek term which means to be called/declared righteous in the sense of shown to be righteous.  We can see of course a forensic understanding here, but that changes if we ask two questions about this term: 1 In what sense is one "shown" to be righteous so a declaration of righteousness is factual? 2 What is this righteousness which one is declared to have?  Is the declaration then forensic or therapeutic: "a pronouncement of not guilty" or "a pronouncement of you are healed"?  What if we look at how the term "Dikaiosis" is related in Scripture to earlier Hebraic equivalents? Here we discover the related term dikaiosune/justice is used to translate the Hebrew tsedaka, meaning mercy, compassion, love and thus closely allied with the other Hebrew term hesed, meaning tender mercy and compassion. These are are what the Apostle John taught was what God was: God is love. St. Paul taught us love seeketh not its own, that it is self emptying.  So we may reasonably then say that to be declared righteous is not a forensic act negating our guilt, for a not guilty verdict is far removed from being "like God", from being loving and compassionate like God, which is what it is to be actually righteous in the NT sense. If God simply made us righteous by creative pronouncement we would cease to be human and have been reduced to automatons who love God and all the God loves because they must, not because they choose to.  Thus this righteousness, this godliness, is the evidence by which God makes the declaration of righteousness. The person who has that judgement is the person who has been healed, not merely the one who has been acquitted.  

Thus the Orthodox teach Theosis, divinization as the key, central NT paradigm of salvation. It is our return to health as we were meant to be. It is our transforming union with God, and we see that justification and sanctification are actually the same thing…or if one must separate them those "declared" just are those who have been made holy/sanctified by the depth of their healing union with God.  

It is not then that the Orthodox do not see forensic language in the NT teaching on salvation, they do, but they see it in the greater context of the therapeutic language. Moreover, the forensic aspects of salvation while not absent for the Orthodox, are not nearly so heavily pronounced in the Greek as they are in Latin and English translations. If one doubts this, then one must ask why, given that the NT was given by God in Greek, did not the early Greek Christians and Greek speakers/readers of the first and latter generations as a body understand salvation in more rigid forensic terms? If its that clear in the Greek, how did they misunderstand it so badly in their own language? Surely, there must have been a least a few "honest" readers of sufficient stature to emphasize this understanding across the centuries if the forensic understanding in the NT were paramount?" But as we see, this is not the case; how can that be unless the native readers of Greek from NT times have understood the Greek transmission of the salvation message of the Gospels more in therapeutic terms than in forensic ones?

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« Reply #133 on: November 18, 2011, 08:37:22 PM »

^^ superb! always a joy to read your post Seraphim.
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« Reply #134 on: November 19, 2011, 12:35:46 AM »

^^ superb! always a joy to read your post Seraphim.

Ditto!

Seraphim, a mere catechumen here...so be gentle with me please... Wink  A question.  I've read a similar explanation, tho' yours is MUCH easier for me to follow.  So, I thank you for sharing your wisdom!  Does this somehow tie in also to Christ's "miracles" while He walked on this earth being not so much miracles (in the sense that a miracle is an act which goes against nature and man was not created to suffer disease, death or demonic possession so to suffer from these things is already going against "nature" as it was created to be) as much as they were acts of restoration?  That these acts were glimpses of the fullness of restoration (salvation) which is available through Him, and Him alone?  As Christ would say, "Your faith has healed you." could be better understood as, "Your faith has restored you." or "Your faith has 'saved' you"?  I obviously don't know if it does, but this kept rolling through my mind as I read you post and I couldn't help but ask.  Please forgive me if I am off-base.  It wouldn't be the first time, nor will it be the last.
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« Reply #135 on: November 19, 2011, 08:25:59 PM »

Thank you both for your kind words.  Just contributing my little onion, such as it is.

Hiwot:

I am inclined to say yes, such miracles look forward to the restoration of all things, the healing of creation together with the healing of man to whom it was given in stewardship.  

A long time ago I read something…I don't remember by whom, but I think he was quoting or referencing St. Maximus the Confessor. He said we are the priests of the universe. All creation returns its praise to God through us, the majesty of the mountain, the vastness of the heavens, the strength of the horse, the glory of the sunset, the industry of the little ant…all things touch us, and through us touch God if we are in communion with Him. We are the priestly voice of the world, through whom the world offers up itself to receive God…lest the stones cry out, as it were.

I would add however, to pick at a nit, it is my understanding that the Orthodox mindset does not distinguish between natural and supernatural, but between created and uncreated.

Addendum:
If I may add I recall after I was first received into the Church so much of the world began to call my heart to prayer. If I smelled flowers in bloom, it reminded me of incense, and incense took my heart to prayer. The shade of a forest was like the shade of a cathedral, and thus a place for prayer, I would drop something on my shirt and stain it and remember my own stains and my need for prayer, a breeze would stir, and I was reminded of the breath of the Spirit of Prayer blowing withersoever He would, again raising my heart to prayer.  The plastic that protected my icon prints, the wood on which other icons were mounted, the colors of the earth given to create the image of a saint or of Christ, the wool of a lamb knotted into a prayer rope, each meal an intimation of the wedding feast of the Lamb…everything beckoned me to prayer and remembrance. I was more aware of my presence in the world and of the world's connection to me, and though me, however humbly, to God…His handiwork had become for me an endless invitation to prayer.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 08:42:39 PM by Seraphim98 » Logged
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« Reply #136 on: November 20, 2011, 05:35:05 PM »

Thank you both for your kind words.  Just contributing my little onion, such as it is.

Hiwot:

I am inclined to say yes, such miracles look forward to the restoration of all things, the healing of creation together with the healing of man to whom it was given in stewardship.  

A long time ago I read something…I don't remember by whom, but I think he was quoting or referencing St. Maximus the Confessor. He said we are the priests of the universe. All creation returns its praise to God through us, the majesty of the mountain, the vastness of the heavens, the strength of the horse, the glory of the sunset, the industry of the little ant…all things touch us, and through us touch God if we are in communion with Him. We are the priestly voice of the world, through whom the world offers up itself to receive God…lest the stones cry out, as it were.

I would add however, to pick at a nit, it is my understanding that the Orthodox mindset does not distinguish between natural and supernatural, but between created and uncreated.

Addendum:
If I may add I recall after I was first received into the Church so much of the world began to call my heart to prayer. If I smelled flowers in bloom, it reminded me of incense, and incense took my heart to prayer. The shade of a forest was like the shade of a cathedral, and thus a place for prayer, I would drop something on my shirt and stain it and remember my own stains and my need for prayer, a breeze would stir, and I was reminded of the breath of the Spirit of Prayer blowing withersoever He would, again raising my heart to prayer.  The plastic that protected my icon prints, the wood on which other icons were mounted, the colors of the earth given to create the image of a saint or of Christ, the wool of a lamb knotted into a prayer rope, each meal an intimation of the wedding feast of the Lamb…everything beckoned me to prayer and remembrance. I was more aware of my presence in the world and of the world's connection to me, and though me, however humbly, to God…His handiwork had become for me an endless invitation to prayer.

Very well said. If this forum had a "like" button I'd click it.
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« Reply #137 on: November 20, 2011, 08:38:53 PM »

Thank you both for your kind words.  Just contributing my little onion, such as it is.

Hiwot:

I am inclined to say yes, such miracles look forward to the restoration of all things, the healing of creation together with the healing of man to whom it was given in stewardship.  

A long time ago I read something…I don't remember by whom, but I think he was quoting or referencing St. Maximus the Confessor. He said we are the priests of the universe. All creation returns its praise to God through us, the majesty of the mountain, the vastness of the heavens, the strength of the horse, the glory of the sunset, the industry of the little ant…all things touch us, and through us touch God if we are in communion with Him. We are the priestly voice of the world, through whom the world offers up itself to receive God…lest the stones cry out, as it were.

I would add however, to pick at a nit, it is my understanding that the Orthodox mindset does not distinguish between natural and supernatural, but between created and uncreated.

Addendum:
If I may add I recall after I was first received into the Church so much of the world began to call my heart to prayer. If I smelled flowers in bloom, it reminded me of incense, and incense took my heart to prayer. The shade of a forest was like the shade of a cathedral, and thus a place for prayer, I would drop something on my shirt and stain it and remember my own stains and my need for prayer, a breeze would stir, and I was reminded of the breath of the Spirit of Prayer blowing withersoever He would, again raising my heart to prayer.  The plastic that protected my icon prints, the wood on which other icons were mounted, the colors of the earth given to create the image of a saint or of Christ, the wool of a lamb knotted into a prayer rope, each meal an intimation of the wedding feast of the Lamb…everything beckoned me to prayer and remembrance. I was more aware of my presence in the world and of the world's connection to me, and though me, however humbly, to God…His handiwork had become for me an endless invitation to prayer.

Seraphim,

your little onion is a favorite of mine. angel

I am glad leap of faith asked that question. its a rarity and a blessing to find such an answer. all I can say to the depth ( that you hid in simplicity) and the beauty of what you said above is Thank you with a heart felt sincerity.

May the Lord increase His grace upon you and May the protection of the Most Holy Theotokos be with you!

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To God be the Glory in all things! Amen!

Only pray for me, that God would give me both inward and outward strength, that I may not only speak, but truly will; and that I may not merely be called a Christian, but really be found to be one. St.Ignatius of Antioch.Epistle to the Romans.
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