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Author Topic: Faith and Works  (Read 1933 times) Average Rating: 0
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patricius
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« on: December 24, 2002, 03:31:51 PM »

Could somebody explain how the Orthodox faith veiws the need for works in salvation?  I have read conflicting points of view lately.  Fr. Coniaris in Introducing the Orthodox Church puts forth what I find to be a fairly extreme "faith alone" position which seems very close to Protestant teachings.  However, the OCA website Q&A gives what seems to be the opposite interpretation.  Which is closer to the faith of Orthodoxy?

Many thanks,

Patrick
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theodore
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2002, 04:18:41 PM »

Could somebody explain how the Orthodox faith veiws the need for works in salvation?  I have read conflicting points of view lately.  Fr. Coniaris in Introducing the Orthodox Church puts forth what I find to be a fairly extreme "faith alone" position which seems very close to Protestant teachings.  However, the OCA website Q&A gives what seems to be the opposite interpretation.  Which is closer to the faith of Orthodoxy?

Many thanks,

Patrick
Not having read what Fr. Coniaris has said, I can't comment on that, but having read Fr. Matusiak's Q&A on the OCA website, I can say that his explanation clearly and concisely expresses the Orthodox view.  In the Orthodox mindset, Faith and Works are interlinked.  It is not an either/or proposition.  Works are the fruit of one's faith, and to have Faith, without living a life of good works is to have an empty faith.

Theodore
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2002, 05:04:17 PM »

Theodore has answered this well, Patrick. Perhaps there really is Protestant influence on Coniaris and the Greek Church in general, of long standing: there once was a Calvinist-tainted patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Loukaris, and there was the slightly Protestant work of Kritopoulos. Perhaps the Greek clergy in America were taught by Protestants as well.
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patricius
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2002, 05:18:03 PM »

Thanks for the help.  Fr. Matusiak's response seemed very clear to me, and if it reflects the Orthodox position then I can follow it without trouble.

I also must say that I regret any negative impressions which I may have left about Fr. Coniaris' book.  I went back and reread the section and have to conclude that I had misread it badly.  His position seems likely to be very similar to that of Fr. Matusiak in substance, and I simply misunderstood some of what he said.  Perhaps I was tired.   Smiley  I am sorry about the confusion.

But, again, many thanks for the help.

God bless,

Patrick
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Seraphim Reeves
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« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2002, 08:31:19 PM »

Patricius,

As others have said (both here and on other Orthodox-oriented forums), the issue should not be made "either/or".  The two cannot help but be joined together at the hip.  I don't think any simple reading of the New Testament, in particular the recorded sayings of the Lord, allow for any other understanding.

If we choose sin, this cannot help but go hand in hand with a diminished, or flimsy "faith" in God and what He has revealed.  Abraham was justified by God, precisely because he believed; of course it would be difficult to argue he really believed anything God had revealed to him, if he had also not physically gone ahead and performed certain acts of obedience to the will of God.

In the end, God reads hearts and knows us better than we know ourselves; thus why there will be many saved, who in human eyes gave no evidence of piety or extraorindary lives.  Indeed, many will be saved at the 11th hour.  Were it not for the Scriptures, and the few eyewitnesses at golgotha, would anyone know that the contrite thief died with true faith and a changed heart?  He certainly did not have the opportunity to go out and do good deeds and live a life in this world in conformity to the will of God.

Thus the value of good works is not that they are excellent by themselves, being something God is needful of, and will grant admittance to heaven for them if we have a certain quantity (for example, in Islam the belief is that one's good deeds must outweigh the bad ones; this is not the Christian belief to be sure.)  Rather they are simply a part of faith, and there can be no faith without them.  The whole "faith vs. works" debate to my eyes, seems to require both a faulty concept of just what "works" in fact are, and a very skewed notion of faith (that puts faith into the realm of being something nominal with little or no substance.)

Seraphim
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patricius
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« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2002, 12:33:13 PM »

Seraphim,

Many thanks for the very enlightening and thoughtful post.  I found it very helpful, and not just in learning about the Orthodox manner of seeing things, but also in just being very thought provoking.  Many thanks.

God bless,

Patrick
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