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Author Topic: Grace Alone/Faith Alone  (Read 7796 times) Average Rating: 0
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Hiwot
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Job 19:25-27


« Reply #90 on: June 17, 2012, 05:50:14 AM »

Hello Hiwot:

On one hand we are reaching the same destination with differing routes. The Lutheran says By Gods Grace through Faith we are Saved. The result is good works. Orthodox say By Gods Grace we are saved through Faith and Works.

I think the main difference may be in the view of Free Will. Lutherans believe that there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn Gods Grace. By saying we have to cooperate with Gods Grace or accept it is to take away Gods Glory and to place some of it, even if the smallest amount on our own shoulders. It takes away the absolute sovereignty of God. We are saved because God alone has willed it. We are predestined to be saved by Christ on the Cross. If we have even the smallest amount of influence we will fail everytime because of our nature of sin.

We can't accept what we already have. I can't accept my arm because it's something God has already giving me. What I can do is reject my arm. I can cut it off the same way I can cut off Gods Grace through a denial of Faith.



"I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want "free-will" to be given to me, nor anything to be justify in my own hands to enable me to endeavor after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities, and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground and hold fast my "free-will" (for one devil is stronger than all men, and on these terms no man could be saved); but because, even were there no dangers, adversities, or devils, I should still be forced to labor with no guarantee of success, and to beat my fists at the air. If I lived and worked to all eternity, my conscience would never reach comfortable certainty as to how much it must do to satisfy God. Whatever work I had done, there would still be a nagging doubt as to whether it pleases God, or whether He required something more. The experience of all who seek righteousness by works proves that; and I learned it well enough myself over a period of many years, to my own great hurt. But now that God has taken my salvation out the control of my own will , and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. "No one," He says, "shall pluck them out of my hand, because my father which gave them me is greater than all" [John 10:28-29]. Thus it is that, if not all, yet some, indeed many, are saved; whereas, by the power of "free-will" none at all could be saved, but every one of us would perish."

Martin Luther




Hi happy Lutheran, thank you for your thoughtful reply dear. I am learning alot from you my brother.

Inaddition to what David has already answered , let me say a fewthings from what Martin Luther have said about God's control over his will, as I understand it. as key word to understanding what I have to say know I am talking about Synergy, that is possible because of Grace and in which grace requires to work in and through. Not control but willful participation and union. he speaks of control, i will speak of union of love that will lead to being fruitful in love and through love.

Honestly speaking what martin Luther says makes me sad. The reason being 1 he for all practical purposes equate the having of free will as being a rebellion against God’s will, thus something that has to be shunned 2, If we are all saved without the participation of our will, what is being saved is not human but a drone that God certainly have not made in his Image and Likeness, and God would not be Love (in this term are held all other virtues). 3. It is not simply having a free will that saves me or condemns me as martin seems to think, if the entire point of saving mankind was to impose upon him God’s unchanging Love then we have to change our understanding of God not as loving but a tyrant, who punishes some because he wills it and worse because he does so for something that is not their fault because it was after all his will that they in particular should not be saved, and others he forcefully annexes to this lifestyle.4, if my free will can only function in  rejection of God, but ceases to function when I am in union with God, is it really me that is in Union or what happens to my free will then did I even ever had it in the first place? Also   what happens when I want to return back to God, who is the one that returns? A drone without freewill; which as soon as he is plugged to the source, becomes the toy of the source? What is the good in taking a sentient being and stripping him of that which makes him what he is then saying he IS Living? If we have no participation with our salvation then it must follow that we have no participation in our damnation, it must have been God who made us sin then, God forbid we would say such a thing! but according to Luther’s logic such is the God he portrays albeit unintentionally in an attempt at portraying God as all powerful and that we are not the cause of our salvation, which are both true, yet he falls short of the fullness of truth when he tosses out the role of the human free will, with which that the mercy of God seeks cooperation not domination with. What is the point of Christ’s Incarnation, the reason that the Eternal Logos became like us in all things except sin? what is the purpose of uniting our will to his if not to heal it, like the rest of what makes us human, it needed healing and saving so he healed it by making it his own in his Incarnation our will united to the will of God without any confusion or mixing, or alteration, heals the broken, the weakened , and  makes us whole , gives us what we are created to be, makes us truly human ( in the sense that the human is created to have communion with God through God’s Grace that was perfected in Christ when God became Man, in Christ God’s Will is fully united with Man’s Will without one altering the other , without one dominating the other, without one mixing with the other, without one separating from the other without one eliminating the other.). So are we saying our will be done? not at all, we are saying may  thy will be united with our will  and our will with thy will and in the harmony of that union we will BE Truly ourselves in that we become truly Children of God.


In the Orthodox Liturgy we say, Our God is a Consuming fire, a Fire of Healing, for the righteous of heart who do His will, a Fire that destroys for the rebellious who deny His Name. What is meant by this is that God is God at all times, he remains what and who He is i.e. Love. This love can be different things for different hearts, for those who are willing to receive it, it is the most natural thing to them, and it heals and strengthens them. To those that reject it, it becomes  the source of unbearable pain not by changing what it is, but rather by remaining the same, for the heart that wants to exist delighting  in such a state subjects itself to the pain of the  presence of ultimate Love( again let us keep in mind all the virtues held in there). We see then that he is not the one who is rejecting those who are damned, but it they who are rejecting him, he remains who he is at all times, he cannot deny himself thereby altering himself, those that reject him do so because He is  Love that can only be freely given and freely received.


If like Luther said God wills some to be saved and others to be damned since free will has nothing to do with salvation, then He and I are not speaking about the Same God. The Supreme Love, (holding in it Mercy, Truth, Justice, etc...)  Becomes a falsity, a sham a major orchestration of Divine Joke on Humanity yeah even the entire Created Universe. If that was true I too would have cried with Luther, and perhaps resigned myself to the whim of this God whether or not I am among those whom he wills to save and for that matter what am I being saved from, do I even want to be?  But it will also mean if I am among the chosen I cannot reject God in this life, because now I am like a drone he dictates. So even though I am told I can reject God, in truth I cannot reject him since I have no say in the matter of living united to him.



Still I do understand what Luther was trying to portray, yet he lost the balance the Fathers have maintained and in Orthodoxy such balance or synergy is always what it is about in regards to our relationship with God because it is indeed a relationship of Love. When you go to one extreme at the expense of all others there is always the danger of sacrificing truth to your will. I understand and my heart is moved in compassion to what Luther was struggling with and to what a kind and Loving God he must have thought that he is portraying, when he shunned free will and its participation with Gods will, and making God’s will (separate from men) alone and our faith in this predestined and forcefully infused and sustained salvation of God with no need for our participation, except perhaps to say or hold the opinion that it is so, to be the reason we are saved. Yet by this very logic he ended up creating a tyrant of ‘good will and cheer’ who gives no choice to those he loves, whose love is an oppression, whose justice is selective and biased, whose deceit lets others think they are free yet they are not, they think they can chose him but they can’t as he has already chosen those he wills to save, the others he discards once he gets done with them playing a role he has written for them. I am sure the God Loving and good man Luther would be horrified if he realized this is the image of God he actually portrays when he says that the Free will of man is not important, yet he is correct in that having free will alone will not save anyone, nor does ones struggle alone to achieve righteousness with his works do him any good. Yet when God deals interacts with Humans he deals with Free beings He created in His Image and Likeness, because our God is that Good, that Loving, that he would chose to create such free beings capable of choosing Him or rejecting Him, but the underlying factor which is also the unifying one is that God remains Who He IS, the I AM that is always IS, regardless of what state man is in.  Ever Loving God, Whose Grace is ever Present to us if we are willing to accept it.



Luther was arguing against the possibility of losing salvation, it seems motivated by fear but fear that was based on the wrong reasons. He should indeed be afraid of losing salvation because it is possible to lose salvation not because Grace is denied to some, it is not! Or that God wills some to be condemned, He does not! Or that salvation is something we earn by our works, we cannot! Or something we earn by our faith alone, we do not! But because the Human is capable of rejecting what is freely given, the human can stop saying fully yes to God’s Will, who Wills ALL to Come to Salvation. Do you see the union here? As rejection is the cessation of saying yes to God and saying yes to God is possible to us through God’s Grace itself working in unison with our will. The fear of Luther would have been like the one the apostle commands ‘work out your own salvation in fear and trembling’ had Luther not equated it with losing confidence in God, as relying only in One’s work to earn what is un-meritable for none can merit such Life, because the Life we receive is God Himself, and who among us can earn God with what he has, even if he or she was to give their very lives as even that is not theirs and it belongs to him. Philippians 2:12-13 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

 So what does it mean to Work out ones salvation in fear and trembling, surely we are not the ones who are earning our God as reward for whatever we have done, if that was the case we should all despair, for none of us can do that, so what is the apostle saying? If we read on we will know that such despair is unwarranted and in fact we have much reason to be confident about and that is the Grace of Our Merciful Loving God, who will strengthen our Faith and Sanctify our Works for without him we can do nothing but with him we bear much fruit so when he comes he may find us fruitful in Him and through Him! As the apostle continues to say “ for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ do you see the unity of God’s will with our Will, here without any confusion or mixing or alteration between them? Do you see the balance? In Such a union we can boldly say it is not I that lives but Christ in Me. Does this mean I cease to be Me? Not at all it only means I am more Me or Truly Me in Christ who is the Perfect Man than I am alone and I am Truly Christ in so far as it is possible by Christ who Transfigures me through this union to look and become like Him who is the Only Begotten Son of the Father thus bearing the image of the Son and as the Living Temple of the Spirit I too will be called daughter and Son of the Father through Grace. For this communion of Love, what is freely given must freely be received and that freedom itself we received from God.


The Apostle states clearly how this participation with Grace works and how one must bear the fruit of such participation by the death of the old man and the life of the new man in Christ, if while saying we are justified in our faith in Christ we are found acting in sinful manner then we have no real union with Christ because he is not a minster of sin. thus our faith in him must also be manifest in our fruit of life in him and through him. We need Him to give us life and we need not frustrate the grace of God or we must participate with the grace of God, otherwise if we can achieve life by our works alone then he died in vain.
Galatians 2: 16- 21 16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live to God. 20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.



Luther seems to say that once a believer has found his or her faith they cannot possibly fall or lose their salvation, because no one can take us away from God. Yet this is simply not true like we said, the Love that is God is unchanging but it is quite possible for us to change while we are in this battle field, in this tabernacle, it is quite possible to fall as it is quite possible to rise up again. Luther’s God is a terrifying tyrant, who wants to be told that one believes in his goodness and is easily appeased by that and punishes those that have a differing opinion because it’s all about ones held opinion about him that brings in his benevolence to select group of people who he has already programed to have such opinion about him. Such God incites rebellion and defiance, not Love. And that is not the Christian God, him you will find get this, Born in an animal manger, Dead on the Cross and Risen in Incorruption all for the Love of Adam and his Children even as he dies by our hands, he did not force his will upon us yet he loved us all the same, even while we were vile sinners. Because he has become one of us and done this much for us he will be just in all his judgments towards us who have tasted the good wine and rejoiced not in it.


However Luther chose to reject the part that Free will plays in the drama of Salvation out of fear that his misconceptions lead him to believe of what is meant by participation or cooperation of the human with God incited in him. He looked at it as if the Human is earning salvation (or in other words that the human is striving in an ever futile effort for something that is impossible i.e. to earn salvation), by freely accepting God’s Grace that is offered freely to him, this misconception ignores that even Faith is an act of Grace acting in cooperation with the Free will of Man. like we have seen earlier, who can earn our life which is God. Yet we all can see God is not imposed upon us even if our very nature requires that we unite with him in order to be what we truly are, Children of Light, Truth and Love. However Love although free, calls all to choose her continually even as she calls, motivates, strengthens, and acts to help and sustain those who respond with all their being. Wisdom does not go charging about and enslaving people against their will, even though she longs for them to come to her, even though she has stretched her arms stood at the highest place and called with everything she has in her that they may come to her and share her life as they were meant to be. For she is the soul of their soul, life of their life, strength of their strength, the light of their intellect, the beauty of their countenance, if only they were willing to come , she is ever waiting and willing to aide those who chose her, to go out in battle with them and so long as the will is willing she will squash their enemy, heal their wounds, raise them up if they fall and lead them to the place of safety and Eternal Rest, Eternal Joy, where they in Union with Her may ascend from Glory to Glory for all eternity.


Time has run out , and I must get ready to go to the Divine Liturgy now, I have not got enough time to organize my thoughts better so my apologies, I am no theologian or scholar, so keep in mind that all the wrong words and ideas are mine.

To be continued….  I'm kidding lol  Tongue laugh
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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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« Reply #91 on: June 17, 2012, 07:58:53 AM »

Hello Hiwot

Thanks for your kind words and detailed reply. I also am getting ready for services and then my wife and kids are taking me to a Minnesota Twins game for fathers day. I will have to dig deeper into your reply later as it's a lot to take in but at a quick glance I think you may be getting some of Calvin's view of Predestination confussed with Luther's. We can not in our view earn Grace, we can however reject it which leads to our damnation. We don't believe in the Calvin view of limited atonement where God somehow chooses us all to be saved or damned before we are born. We are only Predestined to be saved by the gift of the Holy Spirit and his Grace.

I am also not a theologian or scholar and all my wrong ideas are also mine. That is a great quote and it should maybe be in all our signatures. Smiley

To everyone who has participated in this thread, thank you for the enjoyable, interesting and respectful debate.
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1 Corinthians 1:27 - But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong
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« Reply #92 on: June 17, 2012, 08:08:32 AM »

Hiwot, in Lutheran soteriology, God does all the saving, if we are damned it is our fault, not His, and when asked "why are some saved and not others," Lutherans essentially take the view that we have not been given the answer to that question so we dare not attempt an answer. 

It's called the crux of theology -- that God does all the saving, and wants all men to be saved, but then some are not saved.  Lutherans maintain this tension or paradox.  I believe the Orthodox have an answer for it, but our answer doesn't fit in the Lutheran soteriological framework, so it's easy for a Lutheran to hear it as Arminianism, just as you heard Happy Lutheran's words as Calvinist.
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Hiwot
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Job 19:25-27


« Reply #93 on: June 17, 2012, 12:55:51 PM »

Hello Hiwot

Thanks for your kind words and detailed reply. I also am getting ready for services and then my wife and kids are taking me to a Minnesota Twins game for fathers day. I will have to dig deeper into your reply later as it's a lot to take in but at a quick glance I think you may be getting some of Calvin's view of Predestination confussed with Luther's. We can not in our view earn Grace, we can however reject it which leads to our damnation. We don't believe in the Calvin view of limited atonement where God somehow chooses us all to be saved or damned before we are born. We are only Predestined to be saved by the gift of the Holy Spirit and his Grace.

I am also not a theologian or scholar and all my wrong ideas are also mine. That is a great quote and it should maybe be in all our signatures. Smiley

To everyone who has participated in this thread, thank you for the enjoyable, interesting and respectful debate.

Hi dear
Enjoy your time and happy father's day to you Grin 

we will indeed discuss further, but I am aware of what Calvin taught however, if you look into the theology of Luther himself falls into that restriction placed upon man's free will which can only chose evil and not good. it distortes what man is, or the nature of man, even after the fall man can still differentiate between good and evil and can chose either. the limitation set upon by Luther on man's will renders the free will of man obsolete in that it can only chose evil.

it goes on to say that nothing happens without the will of God and God wills all men to be saved, yet not all will be saved and those that are saved have no say in their salvation. how is that not saying, those that are not saved are not because he wills it so. it naturally leads to the Calvin's theology albeit via a different route.

peace to you Smiley
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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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« Reply #94 on: June 17, 2012, 12:56:10 PM »

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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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« Reply #95 on: June 17, 2012, 01:09:16 PM »

Hiwot, in Lutheran soteriology, God does all the saving, if we are damned it is our fault, not His, and when asked "why are some saved and not others," Lutherans essentially take the view that we have not been given the answer to that question so we dare not attempt an answer. 

It's called the crux of theology -- that God does all the saving, and wants all men to be saved, but then some are not saved.  Lutherans maintain this tension or paradox.  I believe the Orthodox have an answer for it, but our answer doesn't fit in the Lutheran soteriological framework, so it's easy for a Lutheran to hear it as Arminianism, just as you heard Happy Lutheran's words as Calvinist.


Ah! you got it David! that is the dilemma! and you presented what is profound in quite a simple and easy to understand manner so someone like me can understand it, thank you. it certainly brought the gist of the matter to light. I have to say I am learning a lot with this discussion especialy from brothers such as you thank you.

as to Arminianism it quite naturally leads to Which came first the chicken or the egg, kind of question. Is It grace that moves man to God or the human will that moves towards God? And as far as I know Orthodoxy answers it's both of course! 1 Corinthians 15:10 10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  

With this the apostle shows his free will in cooperation with Grace, saying that God's grace bestowed upon him was not found in vain, as he labors, and the place of the grace of God as he says not I but the grace of God, and the cooperation of both, when he says ‘with me’ showing an active participation not a passive domination or subordination.

We also see in the case of the thief on the cross, how man who is created good has an affinity towards goodness as the apostle says there is a natural law in the heart of all men that govern their conscience. Because man is created in the image and likeness of God is quite naturally capable of making that initial journey towards God by himself because of his free will. as well as a journey towards evil. Yet it is the grace of God that helps this initial journey towards good find completion and fruitfulness.

The same in what the apostle says in Philippians 2: 12-13   12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Because Man is created with a free will, he can initiate movement towards God, and will find completion in and through the aid of Grace. As well as Grace can transform evil men and creates a change of heart in men to move towards what is good.

So both grace and free will are not in opposition to one another in the salvation of man, rather they work together in whatever form is proper to each individual. Some who start to walk towards good by themselves grace will come and aid them, some whose heart have turned dry grace can intervene and turn it into wax that is conducive to unite with divine Love for Life Everlasting.

There in is the balance and harmony we have been speaking of.And you are quite right it is easy to go to one extreme or another in these issues, and Orthodoxy provides the balanced harmonious way which is the Right Worship.  Wink Grin

Peace to you Smiley
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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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« Reply #96 on: June 17, 2012, 02:41:51 PM »

I've always thought that the typical Orthodox understanding of synergism approximated pretty closely to what classical Arminians have taught.  If this is not the case, I'd like to see the argument presented, with authorities provided please. 
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« Reply #97 on: June 17, 2012, 03:51:26 PM »

I've always thought that the typical Orthodox understanding of synergism approximated pretty closely to what classical Arminians have taught.  If this is not the case, I'd like to see the argument presented, with authorities provided please. 

Father I can not claim authority, and I don't know what you will think of wikiedia as far as these things go but here is a wiki article on Classical Arminanisim and the others. It is as you say very close to orthodox understanding of synergism however there are also differences in there I could see. it starts with total depravity and goes from there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminianism
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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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« Reply #98 on: June 17, 2012, 04:28:59 PM »

Only in the West was these ripped asunder... as splinter groups sought to grasp salvation outside of a coherent 'one' Ecclesia.

In effect, we are see is a 'reformed' Christianity with little in common with the Orthodox Faith. When I look at the traditions of the West, I see nothing that is of value to Orthodoxy. I don't mean that in as harsh a tone as it might appear... I only point out how sickly and weak Western Christianity is and the effect that is appears to have on the actions of it's participates.

I recall St. Maximus the Confessor's statement about salvation... "God moves the heart that is willing". I find that simple and yet as vast a statement on the matter as we should tread.

I don't know, I was immeasurably enriched in my time as a Lutheran.  When you say "I see nothing that is of value to Orthodoxy," I think you miss that there is much there in common with Orthodoxy.

I agree the theological underpinnings of salvation were ripped asunder in the West.  I agree with the notion that the Western notions of salvation have become too forensic, too reliant on false models of God's justice, etc.  But I don't think it's so sickly and weak as you imagine.  There is much to cherish from our brethren in Western Christendom.  There is much to disagree with, certainly, but I don't think it wise to just write them off either. 

Forgive me if I'm misreading you -- this came across as a blanket condemnation of all of Western Christianity.  I don't mean to put words in your mouth.  I'm just reacting to my own inferences from your post.

Grace and peace David,

No worries. I think you offer a fine caution to my statement. I see a Christianity in the West that is very jumbled with secular humanism and the issues with 'works and grace' being at odds is something I have only seen in the West. It seems to me to be at the heart of the theological breakdown of everything. They have no sense of synergia within their salvation model. Martin Luther at one time thought to remove the Letter of St. James from the Sacred Text. I don't trust his theology nor his odd interpretations of St. Paul's Letter to the Romans.

Only within the Orthodox Faith have I come to encounter the fullness of the Christian Faith. Everything else is like looking through a broken lens or a warped lens. They speak of the same things but only in a warped and twisted way.

Sorry if I come across overly critical. I find refuge in Orthodoxy from all this twisting... and I worry that they will come and peddle their twisted views on the Orthodox. I just fine it uncomfortable.
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« Reply #99 on: June 17, 2012, 04:51:13 PM »

I've always thought that the typical Orthodox understanding of synergism approximated pretty closely to what classical Arminians have taught.  If this is not the case, I'd like to see the argument presented, with authorities provided please. 

Father I can not claim authority, and I don't know what you will think of wikiedia as far as these things go but here is a wiki article on Classical Arminanisim and the others. It is as you say very close to orthodox understanding of synergism however there are also differences in there I could see. it starts with total depravity and goes from there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminianism

Yes. The Calvinist's idea of Total Depravity is simply not Orthodox. It stems from a literal and limited interpretation of St. Paul's Quote of Psalm 14:1-3 in his Letter to the Romans. What they fail to do is actual go and read the whole of Psalm 14... and realize that it doesn't support a theological principle of Total Depravity... just read chapter 2 of this Psalm to see... the Psalmist is not condemning 'all mankind' but a foolish generation. St. Paul is attributing this 'foolish generation' to the Jews of his day.

We are not simply given a 'magic ticket' to heaven as many Western Christians seem to think. We are given the energia to prefect ourselves and to not only enter into a relationship with the Divine Nature but to participate... to enter into... that Divine Nature. All are given access to this grace/energia but not all take up the call. The Western Christian looks that this Divine Energia and see it like the servant with one talent in the Lord's Parable of the Talents and did nothing with it out of some warped sense of trusting in God and not his own works... foolishness. This is why Western Christianity splintered and died.
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« Reply #100 on: June 17, 2012, 08:03:24 PM »

Happy Lutheran is not happy at the straw man set up to discredit Lutheranism. It's either extreme arrogance and boasting or a fundamental misunderstanding of the faith. Lutheranism is not the theology of Martin Luther, our confessions were put together and signed of by the entirety of the Lutheran theologians. The early Lutherans didn't think they were making up new doctrine, they were saving the true Catholic faith and they used scripture and the early church fathers writting always to make their points. They did not give themselves the term Lutheran they prefered Evangelical Catholic however the Roman Catholics labeled them Lutherans and it stuck over time. Martin Luther along with Phillip Melanchthon were the heads of the movement. Luther was seen as their front man because of his witty writting style and for his gall to stand up against the pope in a day that meant death and use such terms as "tyrannical" "godless" and "Antichrist" to describe him. The reason James was always in the Bible was because the other Lutherans fully rejected him on that issue, he was not our Pope. It's so annoying when we're having an enjoyable discussion about Faith, Free Will et all and these unrelated arguments come in.

That being said the Augsburg Confession probably states the point of Free Will better than I so here is that article along with the article on original sin because in some way they tie in:


1] Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work 2] things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man 3] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14; but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is received 4] through the Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine in his Hypognosticon, Book III: We grant that all men have a free will, free, inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason; not that it is thereby capable, without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught in things pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether good 5] or evil. "Good" I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn diverse useful arts, or whatsoever good 6]pertains to this life. For all of these things are not without dependence on the providence of God; yea, of Him and through Him they are and have their being. "Evil" 7] I call such works as willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, etc. 8] They condemn the Pelagians and others, who teach that without the Holy Ghost, by the power of nature alone, we are able to love God above all things; also to do the commandments of God as touching "the substance of the act." For, although nature is able in a manner to do the outward work, 9] (for it is able to keep the hands from theft and murder,) yet it cannot produce the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc.

1] Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with 2] concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

3] They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.
 
For an entertaining read and a much more in depth study read Luther "Bondage of the Will". Late in Luther's life he said all of his writtings could be discarded so we could focus on the Gospel except "Bondage of the Will" as he believed it was that important.

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« Reply #101 on: June 17, 2012, 08:46:12 PM »

Happy Lutheran is not happy at the straw man set up to discredit Lutheranism. It's either extreme arrogance and boasting or a fundamental misunderstanding of the faith. Lutheranism is not the theology of Martin Luther, our confessions were put together and signed of by the entirety of the Lutheran theologians. The early Lutherans didn't think they were making up new doctrine, they were saving the true Catholic faith and they used scripture and the early church fathers writting always to make their points. They did not give themselves the term Lutheran they prefered Evangelical Catholic however the Roman Catholics labeled them Lutherans and it stuck over time. Martin Luther along with Phillip Melanchthon were the heads of the movement. Luther was seen as their front man because of his witty writting style and for his gall to stand up against the pope in a day that meant death and use such terms as "tyrannical" "godless" and "Antichrist" to describe him. The reason James was always in the Bible was because the other Lutherans fully rejected him on that issue, he was not our Pope. It's so annoying when we're having an enjoyable discussion about Faith, Free Will et all and these unrelated arguments come in.

That being said the Augsburg Confession probably states the point of Free Will better than I so here is that article along with the article on original sin because in some way they tie in:


1] Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work 2] things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man 3] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14; but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is received 4] through the Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine in his Hypognosticon, Book III: We grant that all men have a free will, free, inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason; not that it is thereby capable, without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught in things pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether good 5] or evil. "Good" I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn diverse useful arts, or whatsoever good 6]pertains to this life. For all of these things are not without dependence on the providence of God; yea, of Him and through Him they are and have their being. "Evil" 7] I call such works as willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, etc. 8] They condemn the Pelagians and others, who teach that without the Holy Ghost, by the power of nature alone, we are able to love God above all things; also to do the commandments of God as touching "the substance of the act." For, although nature is able in a manner to do the outward work, 9] (for it is able to keep the hands from theft and murder,) yet it cannot produce the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc.

1] Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with 2] concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

3] They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.
 
For an entertaining read and a much more in depth study read Luther "Bondage of the Will". Late in Luther's life he said all of his writtings could be discarded so we could focus on the Gospel except "Bondage of the Will" as he believed it was that important.



To presume that any motive of mine or any other Orthodox is out of arrogance... is telling of the arrogance of the Modern Mindset that limits all knowledge to that of either dialectic or discursive ideas and that of reasoning. In Orthodoxy... there are 'real' experiences of the noetic realities of the Divine.

This is simply something that is not present in Lutheran Theology... It is simply the reasoning of men and in such is lost in the numerous gleamings of personal categories. It is why the West is dead. It's faiths are dead because they have ceased to reflect a clear reality of the Divine.

Reasoning is not the 'key' to the Sacred Texts as the Western Christian Traditions have seemed to think. Such was a trap that Western man has found himself caught.

The real Faith is a holistic participation in the Divine Nature brought present with and in the Orthodox Church.

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« Reply #102 on: June 17, 2012, 09:12:44 PM »

Happy Lutheran is not happy at the straw man set up to discredit Lutheranism. It's either extreme arrogance and boasting or a fundamental misunderstanding of the faith. Lutheranism is not the theology of Martin Luther, our confessions were put together and signed of by the entirety of the Lutheran theologians. The early Lutherans didn't think they were making up new doctrine, they were saving the true Catholic faith and they used scripture and the early church fathers writting always to make their points. They did not give themselves the term Lutheran they prefered Evangelical Catholic however the Roman Catholics labeled them Lutherans and it stuck over time. Martin Luther along with Phillip Melanchthon were the heads of the movement. Luther was seen as their front man because of his witty writting style and for his gall to stand up against the pope in a day that meant death and use such terms as "tyrannical" "godless" and "Antichrist" to describe him. The reason James was always in the Bible was because the other Lutherans fully rejected him on that issue, he was not our Pope. It's so annoying when we're having an enjoyable discussion about Faith, Free Will et all and these unrelated arguments come in.

That being said the Augsburg Confession probably states the point of Free Will better than I so here is that article along with the article on original sin because in some way they tie in:


1] Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work 2] things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man 3] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14; but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is received 4] through the Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine in his Hypognosticon, Book III: We grant that all men have a free will, free, inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason; not that it is thereby capable, without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught in things pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether good 5] or evil. "Good" I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn diverse useful arts, or whatsoever good 6]pertains to this life. For all of these things are not without dependence on the providence of God; yea, of Him and through Him they are and have their being. "Evil" 7] I call such works as willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, etc. 8] They condemn the Pelagians and others, who teach that without the Holy Ghost, by the power of nature alone, we are able to love God above all things; also to do the commandments of God as touching "the substance of the act." For, although nature is able in a manner to do the outward work, 9] (for it is able to keep the hands from theft and murder,) yet it cannot produce the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc.

1] Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with 2] concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

3] They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.
 
For an entertaining read and a much more in depth study read Luther "Bondage of the Will". Late in Luther's life he said all of his writtings could be discarded so we could focus on the Gospel except "Bondage of the Will" as he believed it was that important.



To presume that any motive of mine or any other Orthodox is out of arrogance...



I'm only speaking of you. If Western Christianity is dead why between Catholics and Protestants are ther 1.9 billion of us? Unless you don't believe we are saved we have done a better job Evangelizing and saving souls than the East even IF you have a more fullness of faith. The tone of this thread is becoming too tense so this is my last post on this thread, you're more than welcome to have the final word.
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« Reply #103 on: June 17, 2012, 10:01:54 PM »

Quote from: Happy Lutheran
I'm only speaking of you. If Western Christianity is dead why between Catholics and Protestants are ther 1.9 billion of us? Unless you don't believe we are saved we have done a better job Evangelizing and saving souls than the East even IF you have a more fullness of faith. The tone of this thread is becoming too tense so this is my last post on this thread, you're more than welcome to have the final word.

Yeah, I didn't know I was dead, does that make me a zombie?  Wink Cheesy
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« Reply #104 on: June 17, 2012, 10:12:22 PM »

Happy Lutheran is not happy at the straw man set up to discredit Lutheranism. It's either extreme arrogance and boasting or a fundamental misunderstanding of the faith.

Then leave. If you cannot legitimately argue your points (and you can't) and also not handle being outgunned, then, like the old saying goes, "Can't take the heat? Get out of the kitchen."  BTW, do you have Bob Dole Syndrome? Grin

Lutheranism is not the theology of Martin Luther, our confessions were put together and signed of by the entirety of the Lutheran theologians. The early Lutherans didn't think they were making up new doctrine, they were saving the true Catholic faith and they used scripture and the early church fathers writting always to make their points.

Whether they thought they were making new doctrine or not is irrelevant, because they were making new doctrine. That's why Patriarch JEREMIAS II couldn't take any more whiny and egregiously affront letters from the Lutheran scholars at Tuebingen. (BTW, if you haven't, I strongly suggest you read the correspondence between the two parties; they are compiled in a book called Augsburg and Constantinople and edited by Fr. George Mastronis (sp.)).  To him and the Holy Synod, what they were defending was new doctrine or just mere rehashes of the errors the Orthodox already had with the Latin church.
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« Reply #105 on: June 18, 2012, 02:47:22 AM »

Happy Lutheran is not happy at the straw man set up to discredit Lutheranism. It's either extreme arrogance and boasting or a fundamental misunderstanding of the faith. Lutheranism is not the theology of Martin Luther, our confessions were put together and signed of by the entirety of the Lutheran theologians. The early Lutherans didn't think they were making up new doctrine, they were saving the true Catholic faith and they used scripture and the early church fathers writting always to make their points. They did not give themselves the term Lutheran they prefered Evangelical Catholic however the Roman Catholics labeled them Lutherans and it stuck over time. Martin Luther along with Phillip Melanchthon were the heads of the movement. Luther was seen as their front man because of his witty writting style and for his gall to stand up against the pope in a day that meant death and use such terms as "tyrannical" "godless" and "Antichrist" to describe him. The reason James was always in the Bible was because the other Lutherans fully rejected him on that issue, he was not our Pope. It's so annoying when we're having an enjoyable discussion about Faith, Free Will et all and these unrelated arguments come in.

That being said the Augsburg Confession probably states the point of Free Will better than I so here is that article along with the article on original sin because in some way they tie in:


1] Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work 2] things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man 3] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14; but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is received 4] through the Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine in his Hypognosticon, Book III: We grant that all men have a free will, free, inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason; not that it is thereby capable, without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught in things pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether good 5] or evil. "Good" I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn diverse useful arts, or whatsoever good 6]pertains to this life. For all of these things are not without dependence on the providence of God; yea, of Him and through Him they are and have their being. "Evil" 7] I call such works as willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, etc. 8] They condemn the Pelagians and others, who teach that without the Holy Ghost, by the power of nature alone, we are able to love God above all things; also to do the commandments of God as touching "the substance of the act." For, although nature is able in a manner to do the outward work, 9] (for it is able to keep the hands from theft and murder,) yet it cannot produce the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc.

1] Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with 2] concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

3] They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.
 
For an entertaining read and a much more in depth study read Luther "Bondage of the Will". Late in Luther's life he said all of his writtings could be discarded so we could focus on the Gospel except "Bondage of the Will" as he believed it was that important.



Hi happy lutheran,

Orthodoxy does not believe in total depravity of man, after the fall man’s will although weakened and fragmented, he can still seek God and  God did not totally abandon his creatures after the fall if he had we would all have been annihilated, as we would not exist without God.

The prevenient grace of God is everywhere; even the very existence of man is God’s grace. God directs us to seek him even by looking at the natural order of creation. So we all are called by God’s Grace in this sense, and we would not have been able to seek him if it were not for his prevenient grace available to all men. We can chose however to accept God’s grace in regards to seeking him and even the sanctifying grace , with our free will or reject it, it is not imposed upon us. When we chose to accept God’s grace we are not causing our salvation or initiating it, Grace is the initiator and Cause and the perfector of our Salvation. However it is in cooperation with our will that grace works in us. There is no place that God is not, therefore prevenient grace is everywhere, the human will also is not totally devoid of God’s prevenient grace, therefore the sanctifying grace that we got through Christ can be accepted by man’s will which is permeated with God’s prevenient grace, which helps him make that initial move towards God, as well as Man can reject God’s sanctifying grace even if God’s prevenient grace is available to him and calls him to respond. So our sanctification occurs with our full acceptance and cooperation that responds to God’s Grace freely available to us. So as to what occurs initially in the move towards God, we say both occur at the same time, there is no total separation of man from God, our will was weakened yes but totally depraved? No.

I will let the theologians explain further at this point, so they may correct what I said or they can explain this stuff better than I can possibly do so. Or not make any errors I might make.

 Cool
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« Reply #106 on: June 18, 2012, 10:01:04 AM »

Happy Lutheran is not happy at the straw man set up to discredit Lutheranism. It's either extreme arrogance and boasting or a fundamental misunderstanding of the faith.

Then leave. If you cannot legitimately argue your points (and you can't) and also not handle being outgunned, then, like the old saying goes, "Can't take the heat? Get out of the kitchen."  BTW, do you have Bob Dole Syndrome? Grin
I think you're being unfair to Happy Lutheran. As I see it, he's making a decent argument for his position--as decent, I suppose, as one can make without any formal training. I don't see how anyone of us has outgunned him, particularly you or ignatius, who have posted more emotional and irrational responses to his arguments and inquiries. I would honestly like to see Hiwot and Happy Lutheran continue their discussion, since it seems to have much more potential of bearing fruit, but this can happen only if you and ignatius back away and allow for more rational discourse.

Lutheranism is not the theology of Martin Luther, our confessions were put together and signed of by the entirety of the Lutheran theologians. The early Lutherans didn't think they were making up new doctrine, they were saving the true Catholic faith and they used scripture and the early church fathers writting always to make their points.

Whether they thought they were making new doctrine or not is irrelevant, because they were making new doctrine. That's why Patriarch JEREMIAS II couldn't take any more whiny and egregiously affront letters from the Lutheran scholars at Tuebingen. (BTW, if you haven't, I strongly suggest you read the correspondence between the two parties; they are compiled in a book called Augsburg and Constantinople and edited by Fr. George Mastronis (sp.)).  To him and the Holy Synod, what they were defending was new doctrine or just mere rehashes of the errors the Orthodox already had with the Latin church.
Now if you could post more of this without the "can't take the heat then leave" rhetoric, I think even you could engage Happy Lutheran effectively on this topic.
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« Reply #107 on: June 18, 2012, 04:54:47 PM »


To presume that any motive of mine or any other Orthodox is out of arrogance... is telling of the arrogance of the Modern Mindset that limits all knowledge to that of either dialectic or discursive ideas and that of reasoning. In Orthodoxy... there are 'real' experiences of the noetic realities of the Divine.

This is simply something that is not present in Lutheran Theology... It is simply the reasoning of men and in such is lost in the numerous gleamings of personal categories. It is why the West is dead. It's faiths are dead because they have ceased to reflect a clear reality of the Divine.

Reasoning is not the 'key' to the Sacred Texts as the Western Christian Traditions have seemed to think. Such was a trap that Western man has found himself caught. The real Faith is a holistic participation in the Divine Nature brought present with and in the Orthodox Church.

I for one would like to distance myself completely from these kinds of polemical and ridiculous exaggerations.   There's nobody but us Western men (and women) conversing on this forum.  It's in our DNA.  Just because one can spout out words like "noetic" and "phronema" does not mean that one has magically ceased to be "Western."   More likely, it means that one is trying too hard not to be Western.  Sort of like what happens when one tries too hard to be different from one's parents--you inevitably become worse than your parents.  

There is no pure Orthodoxy.  Orthodoxy always and necessary involves a clash and conversion of culture, with both Church and culture being changed in the process.  Russian Orthodoxy is not quite the same as Greek Orthodoxy, and Greek Orthodoxy is not quite the same as British Orthodoxy.  This is the way it should be.  Otherwise, we would all have to become either 1st century Jews or, perhaps, Athonite monks.  

As far as I can tell, Orthodox Christians (in the West) are no more spiritual, holy and faithful than Western Christians.  To assert that Western Christianity is spiritually and theologically dead is to deny the manifest work of the Holy Spirit in the Churches of the West--I think that is called the one sin that cannot be forgiven.  The Spirit of Jesus Christ is not imprisoned with the canonical boundaries of the Orthodox Church.  It blows where it wills.  

I learned that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior from Western believers.  As the Apostle Paul declares, "No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12:3).  

This discussion on justification has been interesting.  I hope it will continue, without all the distractions.  

A question to put us back on track:

What is the difference between confessional Lutheranism and Arminianism?  

Oh, one other thought:  If Lutheranism believes (as I think it might) that sufficient grace is given to all to believe the gospel, then the whole question of "total depravity" is moot and not worth fighting about.

P.S.  Some of you might be wondering why I am posting at a time of unbearable tragedy in my life--because it's the only way to keep myself from succumbing to overwhelming grief and despair.
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« Reply #108 on: June 18, 2012, 07:42:59 PM »

I am not deriding Western Christians per se. I am only pointing out that Western Christianity is a splintered mess with no sense of a coherent Orthodox Tradition. Where individuals have managed to find salvation is in spite of them and not because of them.

Carry on. Sorry for my intemperate zeal.
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« Reply #109 on: June 19, 2012, 07:46:30 AM »

Thanks Peter and Akimel. I would like to answer Hiwot since he's been so generous in the discussion.

I personally have not heard Total Depravity used by Lutheran pastors, I also used the search function on the Book of Concord and there are not any hits on it. As a Lutheran we believe where the Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are administered (Baptism = Receive the Holy Spirit - Lords Supper = for the Remission of Sins) we receive Gods free gift of Grace. We do not earn it we can only reject. Without Gods Word and the Holy Spirit we can only do things that apply to this world, as our confession states (Marry, Plow a Field etc.) You can look at the world today and see Atheist and Agnostics that seem to do just fine in a civil sense but they are still separated from God (sin) therefore can't please him in a Spiritual sense.

I guess one way we look at Scripture is it shows Gods relentless pursuit to get us back. Through Noah, Abraham, Moses (giving us the Law), the rest of the Prophets and finally in sending us his only begotten son to die for our sins and send us the Holy Spirit. It's God that comes to us, not us going to God. It's his great love for us that we don't deserve.

Here is a good verse that I think backs up our view of Free Will:

John 15:16
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
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« Reply #110 on: June 19, 2012, 10:11:07 AM »

Yes, there is pure Orthodoxy. It is what we aspire to, isn't it?
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« Reply #111 on: June 19, 2012, 10:17:45 AM »

Thanks Peter and Akimel. I would like to answer Hiwot since he's been so generous in the discussion.
To my knowledge, "he" is a she. Smiley
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« Reply #112 on: June 19, 2012, 10:48:25 AM »

Thanks Peter and Akimel. I would like to answer Hiwot since he's been so generous in the discussion.
To my knowledge, "he" is a she. Smiley

 Embarrassed My apologies to Hiwot
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« Reply #113 on: June 19, 2012, 11:40:44 PM »

Here is a good verse that I think backs up our view of Free Will:

John 15:16
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

While rejecting Pelagian and semi-Pelagian notions of freedom, I would argue the notion that election and freedom cannot be held together is both false and unbiblical. For that reason I would question whether the above verse has anything to do with issues concerning free will.

For example, the Son is said to have laid down His life freely though He is Elect/Chosen of the Father:

Luke 9:35:  “This is my Son, my Elect/Chosen One.”
Acts 2:23: "This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death."
Jn 10:18: "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord."

Early Christians of the ante-Nicene period, who spoke Greek as their native language and who were familiar with its cultural and historical usage did not regard free will and election as mutually exclusive. In fact it was the Gnostics who, against the second century apologists, who made the argument that they were during the pre-Augustinian period. Those who hold Reformation paradigms often regard the ante-Nicene fathers as philosophical inconsistent at this point, but that is arguably because of the way the relevant categories came to be viewed from later paradigmatic perspectives.

The early Lutherans didn't think they were making up new doctrine, they were saving the true Catholic faith and they used scripture and the early church fathers writting always to make their points.
The predominant view of major contemporary scholarship, as opposed to classical denominational thinking within classical Lutheran and Reformed trajectories is that Luther essentially gave a different answer than his Roman Catholic predecessors to a question which itself was alien to both the early fathers and the scriptures, that is to say, Luther was reading the Bible and the fathers through the lens of a medieval paradigm that was alien to both the Bible and the early fathers, as explained here:

http://katachriston.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/did-luther-get-it-wrong-most-major-contemporary-pauline-scholars-say-yes/


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« Reply #114 on: June 21, 2012, 04:44:45 AM »

Can someone please explain to me how we are not saved by grace/faith alone?

This would be a good book to buy:
http://www.amazon.com/Common-Ground-Introduction-Christianity-Christian/dp/0937032816 (Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian)

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« Reply #115 on: June 21, 2012, 04:48:46 AM »

Thanks Peter and Akimel. I would like to answer Hiwot since he's been so generous in the discussion.
To my knowledge, "he" is a she. Smiley

 Embarrassed My apologies to Hiwot

And a very beautiful she at that!
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« Reply #116 on: June 21, 2012, 08:14:20 AM »

For example, the Son is said to have laid down His life freely though He is Elect/Chosen of the Father:

Luke 9:35: This is my Son, my Elect/Chosen One.”
Acts 2:23: "This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death."
John 10:18: "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord."


I don't think the verses you provide work. Clearly God and the Son have both Free Will and can Will anything they want. "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) That is quite different than Jesus telling us "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit"
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« Reply #117 on: June 21, 2012, 12:18:13 PM »

For example, the Son is said to have laid down His life freely though He is Elect/Chosen of the Father:

Luke 9:35: This is my Son, my Elect/Chosen One.”
Acts 2:23: "This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death."
John 10:18: "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord."


I don't think the verses you provide work. Clearly God and the Son have both Free Will and can Will anything they want. "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) That is quite different than Jesus telling us "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit"

The Father chose the Son and ordained the crucifixion and yet the Son freely laid his life down.

Election and freedom are not polar opposites here, and there is nothing to prove they are anywhere else except late presuppositions which cannot be found in the early fathers.

Neither do all Roman Catholic and Protestant thinkers believe these categories are polar opposites.

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« Reply #118 on: June 22, 2012, 10:52:37 AM »

Thanks Peter and Akimel. I would like to answer Hiwot since he's been so generous in the discussion.
To my knowledge, "he" is a she. Smiley

 Embarrassed My apologies to Hiwot

And a very beautiful she at that!
LOL  yes Peter 'he' is a she  Grin

No need to apologise happy Lutheran, Its no big deal , but thank you all the same.  Grin I would love to continue this discussion with you as well, currently I am looking forward to a quite busy weekend, and I will be back to this God willing, sometime next week. I look forward to reading the interesting discussion that you got going in here with others as well. God bless you my brother.

Jnorm, you are being quite generous  Wink  but I will take it and thank you my brother. laugh
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« Reply #119 on: June 27, 2012, 06:37:43 PM »

Thanks Peter and Akimel. I would like to answer Hiwot since he's been so generous in the discussion.

I personally have not heard Total Depravity used by Lutheran pastors, I also used the search function on the Book of Concord and there are not any hits on it. As a Lutheran we believe where the Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are administered (Baptism = Receive the Holy Spirit - Lords Supper = for the Remission of Sins) we receive Gods free gift of Grace. We do not earn it we can only reject. Without Gods Word and the Holy Spirit we can only do things that apply to this world, as our confession states (Marry, Plow a Field etc.) You can look at the world today and see Atheist and Agnostics that seem to do just fine in a civil sense but they are still separated from God (sin) therefore can't please him in a Spiritual sense.

I guess one way we look at Scripture is it shows Gods relentless pursuit to get us back. Through Noah, Abraham, Moses (giving us the Law), the rest of the Prophets and finally in sending us his only begotten son to die for our sins and send us the Holy Spirit. It's God that comes to us, not us going to God. It's his great love for us that we don't deserve.

Here is a good verse that I think backs up our view of Free Will:

John 15:16
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.


When I was a Lutheran, I was taught that Lutherans hold to "total corruption," but not "total depravity."  I'm not sure I ever grasped the difference, but that's what I was told.
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« Reply #120 on: June 27, 2012, 06:49:11 PM »

I've always thought that the typical Orthodox understanding of synergism approximated pretty closely to what classical Arminians have taught.  If this is not the case, I'd like to see the argument presented, with authorities provided please. 

Father, pretty closely I'd think in a superficial sense, but classical Arminianism is still set in the more juridical framework of most of Western Protestantism.  In a bullet-point sense, I think we'd disagree with Jesus' death satisfying God's honor and justice and imputation of righteousness, but probably agree with most of the rest, but that's more a guess on my part than any real authority, so please take it in that light.

As I see it, Arminianism is Orthodoxy within a more typically Western/Protestant framework.  In my observation, it doesn't work well in that framework, because you end up essentially earning your own salvation by your good work of believing.  Whereas in Eastern theology (and I will certainly defer to you on this -- I'm merely stating my own observation here), there isn't really any "earning" because there is no "merit" and hence no "justice" being "satisfied."  So for us, it's less a matter of who is meriting what and more a matter of participation in and union with the energies of God. 
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« Reply #121 on: June 28, 2012, 08:54:53 AM »

I personally have not heard Total Depravity used by Lutheran pastors, I also used the search function on the Book of Concord and there are not any hits on it.

When I was a Lutheran, I was taught that Lutherans hold to "total corruption," but not "total depravity."  I'm not sure I ever grasped the difference, but that's what I was told.

I had to dig through some books I had and the only one that said anything about Total Depravity basically said the way many explain it (I assume he's talking about Calvinist types) we would consider a Blasphemy against creation.

Here is a quote from the book:

"We do not, strictly speaking, need Grace because we are "weak". God has given us plenty of strength by virtue of creation. What was lost in the Fall was not strength but Faith. Loss of Faith leads to a misuse and distortion of human powers through pride and spiritual pretension."

Gerhard O. Forde 'Where God Meets Man'

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« Reply #122 on: June 28, 2012, 10:14:42 AM »

David Garner, I'd like to ask you a favor.  Would you please write at length on why you do not believe that Orthodox synergism is not a form of semi-Pelagianism.  I know you've addressed this before somewhere.  This doesn't really get addressed in most treatments of synergism.  Of course, the Eastern Churches are not necessarily bound to the canons of the Council of Orange; but I for one think that they say something important for the Church.  I would especially welcome your extended thoughts on this question.  And please feel free to point us to specific authorities and theologians that you think would be helpful.  Thanks.
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« Reply #123 on: June 29, 2012, 02:24:23 AM »

N.T. Wright, an eminent Anglican scholar and bishop, has done some significant work in the area of justification. His work on justification has been met with disdain by Protestants - particularly conservatives and fundamentalists of Calvinist persuasion. Conversely, his work has been welcomed by Catholics and Orthodox. I note that he was invited by the Ecumenical Patriarch to give a lecture on St Paul and eschatology in Istanbul in 2008.

His scholarship shows that what St Paul meant by "justification" was very different to what the Protestants - particularly Luther - thought it meant. For Wright "justification" is a term used to mean how one can tell who belonged to the the family of God, rather than a statement about salvation and against "legalism". This is clearest in the Galatian dispute where the Judaizers were attempting to turn Gentile Christians into Jews. St Paul says "No!". The genuine mark of God's people is no longer the law with its circumcision, dietary laws etc. It is faith in the Messiah that now justifies the people of God. It had nothing to do with people trying "to save themselves" by good moral works as Luther and the Reformers thought. Rather, for St Paul, justification was a redefinition of the people of God around his Christ. So now there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female... faith in Christ now sets apart (i.e. justifies) the people of God not works of the Torah like circumcision and the like. Recall in the letter to the Galatians, St Paul scolds St Peter for withdrawing from eating with Gentile believers - a Jewish custom. But the Messiah has now united humanity around himself - there are no longer any ethnic divisions. And so all who have faith in Christ can have table fellowship with one another.

So, for St Paul the doctrine of Justification, is about ecclesiology rather than soteriology as Protestants have thought. Wright shows this rather clearly and forcefully. Note that he is a high church Anglican. Whatever you may think of the spectrum of Anglicans today, there can be no doubting that many high church Anglicans have the highest regard for the Tradition and history of the Church. Certainly this is true of Wright and his scholarship on the Scriptures and the history of the Church honors the faith that has been believed from the beginning. This is why he has struck accord with Catholics and Orthodox on this topic. I would heartily recommend his book "What St Paul Really Said". This is a meticulous take-down of the traditional Protestant position of justification by faith.
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« Reply #124 on: June 29, 2012, 07:35:37 AM »

Oops, the second sentence should read:  "Would you please write at length on why you believe that Orthodox synergism is not a form of semi-Pelagianism."

David Garner, I'd like to ask you a favor.  Would you please write at length on why you do not believe that Orthodox synergism is not a form of semi-Pelagianism.  I know you've addressed this before somewhere.  This doesn't really get addressed in most treatments of synergism.  Of course, the Eastern Churches are not necessarily bound to the canons of the Council of Orange; but I for one think that they say something important for the Church.  I would especially welcome your extended thoughts on this question.  And please feel free to point us to specific authorities and theologians that you think would be helpful.  Thanks.
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« Reply #125 on: June 29, 2012, 07:41:19 AM »

It is faith in the Messiah that now justifies the people of God.

I would heartily recommend his book "What St Paul Really Said". This is a meticulous take-down of the traditional Protestant position of justification by faith.

I'm confussed by your post. Luther taught we were Justified by Faith alone in Christ alone.

I always get a kick out of people when they try to claim what Paul "really meant". Anyone that reads Paul that doesn't have any preconceptions would clearly understand we are Justified by Faith and not works. Only overly scholarly nonsense would make anyone think differently.

http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php

12] And lest any one should craftily say that a new interpretation of Paul has been devised by us, this entire matter is supported by the testimonies of the Fathers. For 13] Augustine, in many volumes, defends grace and the righteousness of faith, over against the merits of works. 14] And Ambrose, in his De Vocatione Gentium, and elsewhere, teaches to like effect. For in his De Vocatione Gentium he says as follows: Redemption by the blood of Christ would become of little value, neither would the preeminence of man's works be superseded by the mercy of God, if justification, which is wrought through grace, were due to the merits going before, so as to be, not the free gift of a donor, but the reward due to the laborer.

15] But, although this doctrine is despised by the inexperienced, nevertheless God-fearing and anxious consciences find by experience that it brings the greatest consolation, because consciences cannot be set at rest through any works, but only by faith, when they take the sure ground that for Christ's sake they have a reconciled God. As Paul teaches Rom. 5:1: 16]Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.
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« Reply #126 on: June 29, 2012, 08:46:08 AM »

I always get a kick out of people when they try to claim what Paul "really meant". Anyone that reads Paul that doesn't have any preconceptions..

Yet aren't you, in effect, telling everyone what St. Paul really meant - without any preconceptions, of course?

Truly not trying to be mean or snarky and if I sound that way, I apologize, but it is ironic, is it not? Huh
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« Reply #127 on: June 29, 2012, 09:03:11 AM »

I always get a kick out of people when they try to claim what Paul "really meant". Anyone that reads Paul that doesn't have any preconceptions..

Yet aren't you, in effect, telling everyone what St. Paul really meant - without any preconceptions, of course?

Truly not trying to be mean or snarky and if I sound that way, I apologize, but it is ironic, is it not? Huh

Maybe Smiley

What I'm trying to say is that Paul, over and over says not of works but faith so in my opinion you would need someone to tell you otherwise not to think that's what he meant.
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« Reply #128 on: June 29, 2012, 09:08:46 AM »

I always get a kick out of people when they try to claim what Paul "really meant". Anyone that reads Paul that doesn't have any preconceptions..

Yet aren't you, in effect, telling everyone what St. Paul really meant - without any preconceptions, of course?

Truly not trying to be mean or snarky and if I sound that way, I apologize, but it is ironic, is it not? Huh

Maybe Smiley

What I'm trying to say is that Paul, over and over says not of works but faith so in my opinion you would need someone to tell you otherwise not to think that's what he meant.
Well, Im sure that this is faith alone as well then.
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The point I am trying to make is that you can make anyone say anything. For every time someone says "the bible teaches faith alone" there are many more that say "No, it does not". both have creedence in their own rights. However, how did the early believers live? What the those who learned at the feet of the apostles teach?


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« Reply #129 on: June 29, 2012, 10:23:17 AM »

Happy Lutheran, I have to disagree with you that the meaning of justification in the writings of the Apostle Paul is manifest, obvious, and plain.  It may be obvious to confessional Lutherans (or confessional Reformed), but the simple fact is that many, many New Testament scholars are questioning the Reformation reading of Paul.  N. T. Wright has already been mentioned, but he's just the tip of the iceberg.  See, e.g., Douglas Campbell's massive The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul.  Many critical exegetes, of whatever denominational stripe, simply do not find the older Protestant paradigm persuasive.

I do not know many Orthodox (in fact, I don't know any) who have read the more recent scholarship on Paul and justification.  This is unfortunate, I think. 

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« Reply #130 on: June 29, 2012, 10:47:16 AM »

Happy Lutheran, I have to disagree with you that the meaning of justification in the writings of the Apostle Paul is manifest, obvious, and plain.  It may be obvious to confessional Lutherans

Maybe? To me it seems obvious but it's possible since I've been a Lutheran all my life.

It would be interesting to get a group of 100 agnostics with no knowledge of the Bible and have them read Paul and then get their opinions on it.
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« Reply #131 on: June 29, 2012, 11:09:42 AM »

Happy Lutheran, I have to disagree with you that the meaning of justification in the writings of the Apostle Paul is manifest, obvious, and plain.  It may be obvious to confessional Lutherans

Maybe? To me it seems obvious but it's possible since I've been a Lutheran all my life.

It would be interesting to get a group of 100 agnostics with no knowledge of the Bible and have them read Paul and then get their opinions on it.

I'm not sure where you'd get these agnostics from though - they'd have to come from cultures with no exposure to Christianity at all. Otherwise they'd likely be affected by the expectations of their culture, whatever those may be. For what it's worth, I too was raised Lutheran and I don't think it's obvious (of course if I did I'd be where you are now). I am certain that you are (as I did) reading it through the lens of your tradition just as I now read it through the lens of Holy Tradition.

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« Reply #132 on: June 29, 2012, 11:44:49 AM »

Happy Lutheran, I have to disagree with you that the meaning of justification in the writings of the Apostle Paul is manifest, obvious, and plain.  It may be obvious to confessional Lutherans

Maybe? To me it seems obvious but it's possible since I've been a Lutheran all my life.

It would be interesting to get a group of 100 agnostics with no knowledge of the Bible and have them read Paul and then get their opinions on it.

I'm not sure where you'd get these agnostics from though - they'd have to come from cultures with no exposure to Christianity at all. Otherwise they'd likely be affected by the expectations of their culture, whatever those may be. For what it's worth, I too was raised Lutheran and I don't think it's obvious (of course if I did I'd be where you are now). I am certain that you are (as I did) reading it through the lens of your tradition just as I now read it through the lens of Holy Tradition.

James


Agreed. I was Lutheran all my life as well. As a matter of fact, was on my way to seminary to become an ordained minister until I hit a speed bump. That was Orthodoxy, where I discovered what the historic Church has always preached, taught and believed.
Dear Happy, you have one interpretation of how we are saved and of St. Paul's writings. There are many others. And then there is the historic understanding of the Church.
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« Reply #133 on: June 29, 2012, 01:28:55 PM »

"The essential feature of the Reformation doctrine of justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although it must be emphasized that the distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two with the context of the ordo salutis, the essential point is that a notional distinction is made where none had been acknowledged before in the history of Christian doctrine. A fundamental discontinuity was introduced into the western theological tradition where none had ever existed, or ever been contemplated, before. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification ­ as opposed to its mode ­ must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum." (Alister McGrath - Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification. Vol. I. .....Pg. 186)

McGrath's Iustitia Dei is necessary reading here.  He is a strong supporter of the Reformation construal of the sola fide, but he also acknowledges that it represents a significant theological development within Western soteriology. 
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« Reply #134 on: June 29, 2012, 03:27:43 PM »


I discovered what the historic Church has always preached, taught and believed.

Problem here is this is an opinion. The Roman Catholics also believe they have the historic church teachings. You both can't be right but you can both be wrong. You can read all the early fathers writings on CCEL.Org. Earlier in this thread I posted a bunch of quotes that would seem to agree with the Lutheran interpretation of Paul and Justification and I could post many more. You could possibly find different quotes that seem to confirm the current Eastern Churches interpretations and I'd be happy to read them, however this would only prove one of two things:

1.) The Church Fathers were inconsistent.
2.) There was freedom in early Christianity involved in interpretation and theology that no longer exists.

I think option 2 is more likely.
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1 Corinthians 1:27 - But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong
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