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Author Topic: Semi-Pelagianism R Us ?  (Read 1843 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 05, 2012, 07:33:08 PM »

I'm wondering to what extent our salvation is due entirely to the grace of God.  Basically, do we choose to have faith or is faith given to us ?  I'd feel infinitely better believing it's God's choice for me to have faith in Christ our Lord rather than my own whimsical mind.  Can we believe our faith is given by God or is that heretical ?
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 07:41:56 PM »

Wonder how synergism works into this.
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 11:09:13 PM »

Pelagius teaches that mankind can achieve salvation and virtue by the power of his own ability apart from God's grace. Semi-Pelagianism teaches that mankind can attain to repentance on his own, but needs God's grace for everything after that. Both of those views are incompatible with Orthodoxy, as Orthodoxy teaches that we need God's grace for everything in our lives, including our existence.
I quoted this from another thread on the same topic because I liked it. Is it true?

So we must actively cooperate with God in the process of our salvation but this cooperation of 'ours' is also a gift from God in that the 'choice' to cooperate with God comes from us but is filled with God's power to be effective?   Is every choice we make similarly filled with God's power for good or ill?
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 11:42:47 PM »

I'm wondering to what extent our salvation is due entirely to the grace of God.  Basically, do we choose to have faith or is faith given to us ?  I'd feel infinitely better believing it's God's choice for me to have faith in Christ our Lord rather than my own whimsical mind.  Can we believe our faith is given by God or is that heretical ?
Why would we call ourselves semi-Pelagian? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say Pelagius was Semi-Orthodox? Wink Just a thought.

In Christ,
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 01:10:15 AM »

I'm wondering to what extent our salvation is due entirely to the grace of God.  Basically, do we choose to have faith or is faith given to us ?  I'd feel infinitely better believing it's God's choice for me to have faith in Christ our Lord rather than my own whimsical mind.  Can we believe our faith is given by God or is that heretical ?

Faith is a gift. Repentance is a gift. Do you accept the gift? Do you ask for it? See, both are necessary. God gives, but we ask and accept. We also thank God and use what he has given us. And God supplies spiritual growth.
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 01:12:12 AM »

I'm wondering to what extent our salvation is due entirely to the grace of God.  Basically, do we choose to have faith or is faith given to us ?  I'd feel infinitely better believing it's God's choice for me to have faith in Christ our Lord rather than my own whimsical mind.  Can we believe our faith is given by God or is that heretical ?
Why would we call ourselves semi-Pelagian? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say Pelagius was Semi-Orthodox? Wink Just a thought.

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Semi-Pelagianism was made up by people who were afraid of St. John Cassian sneaking up behind them and whacking them with his collected writings proving them horribly wrong.
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 02:37:04 AM »

The Lutheran responce to that issue was moved there.
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 04:23:15 AM »

Faith is most definitely the gift of The Holy Spirit. You cannot have Faith, you cannot repent, you cannot say "Christ is Lord", you cannot say any truth, nor do anything good without God's actual power. Everything good in our lives is taken care by God to the most infinite detail, both physically (sub-atomic particles, cells, anything), and spiritually. All we can achieve by ourselves is evil, and it is not the working of God, but it is He, also, Who allows evil for His own purposes, which are good.

So, now, we probably wonder what synergy is. It is a paradox that we have a will, but we cannot accomplish anything without God. Ideally, our will is united with God's. It is God who both teaches and enables us to use our will positively and in co-operation with His, but our genuine response is required to accomplish it. After the fall into sin, though, this ideal bond between us and God has been disturbed. Man now thinks that he can rely on his own will and power. Even when we try to re-unite ourselves with God, we still tend to think that we are to rely upon ourselves a great deal. Well, it's hard to explain how it works.  Smiley It does take effort at first, some trial and error, so to speak, but in the end, we do become deified, and God will "live for us". Like I said, it is a difficult thing to explain; one would need to be under obedience to an experienced spiritual father and, perhaps, other experienced people, in order to be purified and guided properly. Essentially, though, we are not to rely upon our thoughts, desires, assumptions, will, etc. We abandon ourselves to God.
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« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2012, 01:02:10 PM »

Faith is most definitely the gift of The Holy Spirit. You cannot have Faith, you cannot repent, you cannot say "Christ is Lord", you cannot say any truth, nor do anything good without God's actual power. Everything good in our lives is taken care by God to the most infinite detail, both physically (sub-atomic particles, cells, anything), and spiritually. All we can achieve by ourselves is evil, and it is not the working of God, but it is He, also, Who allows evil for His own purposes, which are good.

ahh...  I'm very happy to hear this.  Is this something most informed intelligent Orthodox Christians would understand to be true or is it more like your own personal understanding?  (I'm really hoping its truly Orthodox, but is it?)  The reason I like this so much is it would mean we're already united with God whether we realize it or not and God is already granting our prayers every time 'our' will seems to be done!  How sobering, truly awesome and wonderful that would be!  Can we dare to believe this is true ?
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« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2012, 01:10:50 PM »

Faith is most definitely the gift of The Holy Spirit. You cannot have Faith, you cannot repent, you cannot say "Christ is Lord", you cannot say any truth, nor do anything good without God's actual power. Everything good in our lives is taken care by God to the most infinite detail, both physically (sub-atomic particles, cells, anything), and spiritually. All we can achieve by ourselves is evil, and it is not the working of God, but it is He, also, Who allows evil for His own purposes, which are good.

ahh...  I'm very happy to hear this.  Is this something most informed intelligent Orthodox Christians would understand to be true or is it more like your own personal understanding?  (I'm really hoping its truly Orthodox, but is it?)  The reason I like this so much is it would mean we're already united with God whether we realize it or not and God is already granting our prayers every time 'our' will seems to be done!  How sobering, truly awesome and wonderful that would be!  Can we dare to believe this is true ?


I think IoanC's entire post sounds agreeable. It is only by God's grace that we can do anything, but we must actively respond and cooperate. God does not (irresistably Wink) force his grace upon us, it is a gift which we can reject.
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« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2012, 01:25:00 PM »

Faith is most definitely the gift of The Holy Spirit. You cannot have Faith, you cannot repent, you cannot say "Christ is Lord", you cannot say any truth, nor do anything good without God's actual power. Everything good in our lives is taken care by God to the most infinite detail, both physically (sub-atomic particles, cells, anything), and spiritually. All we can achieve by ourselves is evil, and it is not the working of God, but it is He, also, Who allows evil for His own purposes, which are good.

ahh...  I'm very happy to hear this.  Is this something most informed intelligent Orthodox Christians would understand to be true or is it more like your own personal understanding?  (I'm really hoping its truly Orthodox, but is it?)  The reason I like this so much is it would mean we're already united with God whether we realize it or not and God is already granting our prayers every time 'our' will seems to be done!  How sobering, truly awesome and wonderful that would be!  Can we dare to believe this is true ?


It's not just my understanding. Maybe the way I am explaining it is more personal, but I believe what I said to be true. I know what you are saying, that "we are already united with God". Well, according to the definition of "theosis", we first have to go through the processes of purification, and illumination before we can call ourselves united to God (theosis, or sainthood). However, this does not mean that God is not always with us (literally). The way we perceive things is very problematic right now because we are blind, spiritually. So, we do not perceive God's direct presence. God is by definition All-Caring. The Holy Spirit, The Third Person of The Holy Trinity is particularly The One who literally is with us through His Energies. So, One out of Three Persons is dedicated to this job in particular.  Smiley

I cannot offer specific quotes. It says in The Bible that we can't do anything without Christ, and this is an absolute statement, of course. I would like to offer you a link to the theology of Fr. Dumitru Staniloae. He talks about these things in great detail, and I believe he offers enough quotes and info, so that you understand what the (full) path to deification is:

http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.ro/2010/07/orthodox-spirituality-by-fr-dimitru.html
http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org/OurFaith/Orthodox%20Spirituality/Orthodox%20Spirituality%20-%20Commentary.pdf
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« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2012, 01:47:27 PM »

It's not just my understanding. Maybe the way I am explaining it is more personal, but I believe what I said to be true. I know what you are saying, that "we are already united with God". Well, according to the definition of "theosis", we first have to go through the processes of purification, and illumination before we can call ourselves united to God (theosis, or sainthood). However, this does not mean that God is not always with us (literally). The way we perceive things is very problematic right now because we are blind, spiritually. So, we do not perceive God's direct presence. God is by definition All-Caring. The Holy Spirit, The Third Person of The Holy Trinity is particularly The One who literally is with us through His Energies. So, One out of Three Persons is dedicated to this job in particular.  Smiley

I cannot offer specific quotes. It says in The Bible that we can't do anything without Christ, and this is an absolute statement, of course. I would like to offer you a link to the theology of Fr. Dumitru Staniloae. He talks about these things in great detail, and I believe he offers enough quotes and info, so that you understand what the (full) path to deification is:

http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.ro/2010/07/orthodox-spirituality-by-fr-dimitru.html
http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org/OurFaith/Orthodox%20Spirituality/Orthodox%20Spirituality%20-%20Commentary.pdf

Blind though I am, I'm very happy to have Him so close!  Because I'm blind I could have believed Him to be distant from me but He's not far away at all, I'm just blind which seems to be a much smaller problem than His being distant!  that's why I'm so happy about this.  Thank you sincerely (I'll read the links with interest) !
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« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 02:21:14 AM »

Blind though I am, I'm very happy to have Him so close!  Because I'm blind I could have believed Him to be distant from me but He's not far away at all, I'm just blind which seems to be a much smaller problem than His being distant!  that's why I'm so happy about this.  Thank you sincerely (I'll read the links with interest) !

God is not distant! That's blasphemy and false!
God is Love, ontologically. And, God is Light, through His energies.
You will find these answers in the one book that I linked. It's just one, available in pdf, as well.
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2012, 10:14:37 AM »

Does is not all come down to whether we do good (as God will us) or evil (against the will of God)? Those who know Christ by faith & strive to follow by His commands & through repentance can be saved, those who may not properly understand Christ but demonstrate goodness in deeds & by their heart might be saved whereas those who do evil are damned. This is how I have understood reading John 3:16-21, John 5:22-29 etc. this is according to the will of God since we are not puppets but individuals with free will. Verses like those found in Romans 9:14-18 where St. Paul quotes Moses who heard God declare, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy" etc. express the sovereignty of God that maintains that we cannot judge any individual even though we must know how to act individually.

Is not the problem of  "Pelagianism" (not perhaps Pelagius) is that an assumption is made that anyone can possibly do right apart from the sovereignty of God? Is this not the severe misunderstanding in the role of our free will in conformity or nonconformity to the will of God?
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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 12:33:38 PM »

Does is not all come down to [...snip...]
  As far as what it "all comes down to" I prefer St. Symeon the New Theologian's view that
Quote
"They alone are saved, He has said, who have participated in His Divinity, as He the Creator of all things has participated in our nature. Hearken, He is called the Savior for this reason, because He gives salvation to all with whom He unites Himself. Now salvation is deliverance from all evils, and the Eternal finding in Him of all blessings."
and perhaps truly good works are more of an overflowing of this grace rather than a method of purchasing it as Pelagianism seems to imply ?
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2012, 01:47:53 PM »

Dimitru Staniloae says:
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Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our 'I' and His 'I', creating between us and the Father through grace, the same relationship He has by nature with the Father and the Son.


Wow! ... this is just so aweome!
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2012, 03:29:41 PM »

Does is not all come down to [...snip...]     


Well Mr Snip I sorry I bother you. You have a good day.
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2012, 04:59:44 PM »


Well Mr Snip I sorry I bother you. You have a good day.

No brother , I'm sorry and you didn't bother me at all.  I'm sorry I didn't add "which is much as you said..." at the end of my post.  May the Lord have mercy on us both.
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« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2012, 08:29:28 AM »


Well Mr Snip I sorry I bother you. You have a good day.

No brother , I'm sorry and you didn't bother me at all.  I'm sorry I didn't add "which is much as you said..." at the end of my post.  May the Lord have mercy on us both.

Forgive me too. I had some misunderstanding in how we were communicating; nothing extreme though. God bless.
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« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2012, 01:09:04 PM »

Forgive me too. I had some misunderstanding in how we were communicating; nothing extreme though. God bless.
I really must do something about my conversational style!  anyways...  if you're on the old calendar  "Have a grape day!"   Wink
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« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2012, 03:04:49 PM »

Everything that we have is a gift from God - everything! But God created us as persons, not as robots or objects, and we are able to do something with those gifts that He has given us. So the issue becomes what we will do with them. Will we hoard them all to ourselves as if they are our very own, or will we humble ourselves and offer them back to God? What we will find is that when we offer them back to God (even in the form of giving them to others. After all, what we do to others we are doing to God), that God inhabits that action and offers us more of Himself, and we experience that most fully in the Eucharist. And faith is no different. We are/have nothing in and of ourselves, and our faith is a gift just like anything else. But, as persons, we make a choice of what to do with that gift: we can choose to offer it back to God as a sacrifice, or we can hoard it and abuse it. If we offer it back to God, we will encounter Christ more fully; if we abuse it, we abuse it to our own destruction.
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« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2012, 10:46:54 AM »

Consider this citation from St Basil the Great:

Quote
If we are illumined by divine power, and fix our eyes on the beauty of the image of the invisible God, and through the image are led up to the indescribable beauty of its source, it is because we have been inseparably joined to the Spirit of knowledge. He gives those who love the vision of truth the power which enables them to see the image, and this power is Himself. He does not reveal it to them from outside sources, but leads them to knowledge personally, "No one knows the Father except the Son," and "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit." Notice that it does not say through the Spirit, but in the Spirit. It also says, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth," and "in Thy light do we see light," through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, "the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world." He reveals the glory of the Only-Begotten in Himself, and He gives true worshippers the knowledge of God in Himself. The way to divine knowledge ascends from one Spirit through the one Son to the one Father. (On the Holy Spirit 18.47)

If our knowledge of God the Father is through the Son, if our confession of the divinity of Christ is by the Spirit, if our worship of the Holy Trinity is in the Spirit, then how can Orthodoxy be accused of Semi-Pelagianism?  Synergism is misunderstood if the human person is considered to be an autonomous agent independent of the grace of God. 
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« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2012, 11:19:02 AM »

I'm wondering to what extent our salvation is due entirely to the grace of God.  Basically, do we choose to have faith or is faith given to us ?  I'd feel infinitely better believing it's God's choice for me to have faith in Christ our Lord rather than my own whimsical mind.  Can we believe our faith is given by God or is that heretical ?

Where can we be, let alone our faith, where God and His uncreated Divine Energies are not? His uncreated Divine Energies where Present long before we were ever even born. So how can our faith be somewhere first?

His Divine uncreated power was working in us long before we were ever even aware of it.
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« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2012, 11:21:59 AM »

Pelagius teaches that mankind can achieve salvation and virtue by the power of his own ability apart from God's grace. Semi-Pelagianism teaches that mankind can attain to repentance on his own, but needs God's grace for everything after that. Both of those views are incompatible with Orthodoxy, as Orthodoxy teaches that we need God's grace for everything in our lives, including our existence.
I quoted this from another thread on the same topic because I liked it. Is it true?

So we must actively cooperate with God in the process of our salvation but this cooperation of 'ours' is also a gift from God in that the 'choice' to cooperate with God comes from us but is filled with God's power to be effective?   Is every choice we make similarly filled with God's power for good or ill?

The reading of Saints Sophronius, and Maximus the Confessor, along with the 6th Ecumenical council will answer alot of your questions on this issue. along with dozens and dozens of other Saints, Fathers, and Witnesses.
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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

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« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2012, 08:15:28 PM »

I talked about this issue last year:
http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/2011/03/differences-semi-pelagianism-rome.html (The Differences: Semi-Pelagianism, Rome, Orthodoxy, Arminianism, and Calvinism)

quote:
"""4.) Orthodox Christianity doesn't like to use the term Prevenient grace, even though we made use of the Latin term in the 17th century. We don't believe in different species of Grace. And so the differences is in regards to each individuals depth in the Grace of God. We believe God's Grace to not only be everywhere, but we also believe it permeates all things. There is no place in where God's Grace is not. And so there is no place our wills can exist in where His Grace is not already present. And so when we make use of the latin term "Prevenient", it has to be looked at within this context. And so our understanding of Synergy is one of simultaneous co-operation.

Acts chapter 17:27-28 "so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring."

However, in every day speech it is difficult to communicate in a way that would express simultaneity.""
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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

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« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2012, 01:09:09 PM »

thanks to all for the recent posts in this thread ... for whatever reason I'm not bothered by my original concerns any more. 
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« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2013, 03:12:01 PM »

Dimitru Staniloae says:
Quote
Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our 'I' and His 'I', creating between us and the Father through grace, the same relationship He has by nature with the Father and the Son.


Wow! ... this is just so aweome!

IoanC,

This is the problematic quote. Sorry, I thought you provided. I guess Theophan_C found it within a link you provided or it is in the split thread.

Here is the quote with the proper attribution:

Quote
“Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our “I” and His “I,” creating between us and the Father, through grace, the same relation He has by nature with the Father and the Son” (Staniloae, 1994, The experience of God: Revelation and knowledge of the Triune God, p. 248).
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« Reply #27 on: January 06, 2013, 02:40:41 PM »

Orthonorm,

If not mistaken, I think Metropolitan Ware referred to Father Dimitru Staniloae as being the greatest theologian of the 20th century.  I'd be interested to hear what your problem is with him.
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« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2013, 07:14:36 AM »

Orthonorm,

If not mistaken, I think Metropolitan Ware referred to Father Dimitru Staniloae as being the greatest theologian of the 20th century.  I'd be interested to hear what your problem is with him.

See the post above yours and tell me where you think the problem might be.
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« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2013, 01:07:50 PM »

orthonorm,

Sorry I still don't understand.  

For the sake of others who might not have seen your objection to the Father Dumitru Staniloae quote but in another thread I've quoted your comments from the other thread below.  

If you care to enlighten me about this I'm afraid you're going to have to spell it out for me (a stupid person).  What makes the quote heretical in your opinion?  If you don't want to bother that's also OK

Quote from: orthonorm
Frankly from what you have posted by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, his work doesn't seem that great. In fact, in the excerpt you posted by him on the Trinity, it came close to heresy and I don't use that word lightly.

Quote from: Fr. Dimitru Staniloae
Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our “I” and His “I,” creating between us and the Father, through grace, the same relation He has by nature with the Father and the Son” (Staniloae, 1994, The experience of God: Revelation and knowledge of the Triune God, p. 248).

Quote from: orthonorm
Here is the thread in which the quote occurred that especially jumped off the screen at me. If you want, we can take it up in that thread. (FWIW, I haven't read the entire work, I am just saying that more than a few times some your quotes from the Father seem a little problematic, this seemed the worst of them all.)
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« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2013, 02:07:39 PM »

orthonorm,

Sorry I still don't understand.  

For the sake of others who might not have seen your objection to the Father Dumitru Staniloae quote but in another thread I've quoted your comments from the other thread below.  

If you care to enlighten me about this I'm afraid you're going to have to spell it out for me (a stupid person).  What makes the quote heretical in your opinion?  If you don't want to bother that's also OK

Quote from: orthonorm
Frankly from what you have posted by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, his work doesn't seem that great. In fact, in the excerpt you posted by him on the Trinity, it came close to heresy and I don't use that word lightly.

Quote from: Fr. Dimitru Staniloae
Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our “I” and His “I,” creating between us and the Father, through grace, the same relation He has by nature with the Father and the Son” (Staniloae, 1994, The experience of God: Revelation and knowledge of the Triune God, p. 248).

Quote from: orthonorm
Here is the thread in which the quote occurred that especially jumped off the screen at me. If you want, we can take it up in that thread. (FWIW, I haven't read the entire work, I am just saying that more than a few times some your quotes from the Father seem a little problematic, this seemed the worst of them all.)

First let's not put words into my mouth.

I said "close to heresy" and I qualified that statement by saying I hadn't read the entire work but I did read around the text so to speak.

I am very pressed for time to draw such things out but I will take a few minutes to point out what seems to me to be a glaring problem or misstatement.

Also when you quote someone, you might want to use the actually excerpt, as it makes it easier for others to see the context the quote was in.
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« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2013, 02:17:18 PM »

Quote
“Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our “I” and His “I,” creating between us and the Father, through grace, the same relation He has by nature with the Father and the Son” (Staniloae, 1994, The experience of God: Revelation and knowledge of the Triune God, p. 248).

This is the problematic part.

Let's remove it and rephrase the quote:

Quote
“The Spirit creates between us and the Father, through grace, the same relation He has by nature with the Father and the Son”

This seems considerably more defensible (depending on his greater Trinitarian theology, of which I am ignorant except for the chapter of the text where the above quote is.

Again, I can't see how anyone reads:

Quote
[the Spirit] eliminates the distance between our “I” and His [God the Father's] “I,”

and doesn't take some pause.

Perhaps based on some idiosyncratic notion of the person the good Father can make this formula sensible, but I find it to fly much into the face of how I understand most of the so-called traditional ways of understanding communion and personhood and my own understanding of communion and personhood.
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« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2013, 02:36:34 PM »

Quote from: Fr. Dimitru Staniloae
Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our 'I' and His 'I', creating between us and the Father through grace, the same relationship He has by nature with the Father and the Son.

Now some quick thoughts on the problem above. This is neither to prove anything, but rather to quick make a few comments.

Being in communion isn't the end of distance; distance rather is communion's fundamental ground.

The everyday or "fallen" distance we experience in our relations with others is not a change in the fundamental mode of relations among persons, but rather a change in manner of the radical distance which allows any person to come to be in the first place.

Communion isn't the collapse of persons into one. Neither is it a beginning of a relationship.

It is the proper care of the difference / distance which gives rise forever to each of us and our appropriate caring for the sharing of that difference / distance.

No one's I (I do appreciate the work using the English instead of the Latin here) finds its dissolution in another's.

This is something I completely reject as nonsensical philosophically and certainly theologically within Christianity.

Again these are just some quick thoughts and are not to be taken as a proper elucidation of distance as properly understood outside the domain the mathematical sciences nor as coherent account of the origin of personhood.

Again, perhaps Father Dimitru has a notion of the I and personhood which can avoid my weakly stated objections above. As I said, I read this sentence and found it more than a little problematic.

Seriously, I am crazy busy. If you really think there is any point, we can take this up later. I already hear the eye-rolling myself.
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« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2013, 02:54:23 PM »

orthonorm,

I'm fairly certain your understanding is on a different level than mine.  I liked the quote because it encouraged me and strengthened my hope in Christ. I was worried you would talk me out of that but luckily I didn't really understand your reply!   angel   so I'm left with no argument at all.  Maybe Ioanc will say something more about the meat of the matter ?  
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« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2013, 03:04:14 PM »

orthonorm,

I'm fairly certain your understanding is on a different level than mine.  I liked the quote because it encouraged me and strengthened my hope in Christ.  I was worried you would talk me out of that but luckily I didn't really understand your reply!   angel   so I'm left with no argument with it at all.  Maybe Ioanc will say something more about the meat of it ?  

Good.

Now do you really care?

What distance exists between your I and God the Father's I?

Let just make clear the simple problem here.

Theophan_C's I--> I--------------------------------------------------------------------------I <--God the Father's I

If that distance were removed:

Theophan_C's I--> I <--God the Father's I.

Theophan_C's I is God the Father's I. At this point are two persons sharing the same I? Or has Theophan_C's I been subsumed into the God the Father's I or the other way around?

Does Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, The Father, Theophan_C, and everyone else who has had this distance removed have the same I?

Clearly this problematic. And the above is a merely a simplistic treatment of the statement. It would take a lot of sophisticating of that phrase to avoid anything like the above. And even then I would say that DISTANCE is a necessary but not sufficient condition (to put it in the language of the schoolmaster) for communion or even identity.

In fact, on my crazier days, I would say:

Theophan_C's I is not Theophan_C's I.

You exist. You literally stand outside yourself. Distance is not just the ground for communion but for existence itself.

Otherwise I really have no idea how I incessantly talk about myself all the time and observe others doing the same.
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« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2013, 03:54:42 PM »

orthonorm,

I'm fairly certain your understanding is on a different level than mine.  I liked the quote because it encouraged me and strengthened my hope in Christ.  I was worried you would talk me out of that but luckily I didn't really understand your reply!   angel   so I'm left with no argument with it at all.  Maybe Ioanc will say something more about the meat of it ?  

Good.

Now do you really care?

What distance exists between your I and God the Father's I?

Let just make clear the simple problem here.

Theophan_C's I I--------------------------------------------------------------------------I God the Father's I

If that distance were removed:

Theophan_C's I God the Father's I.

Theophan_C's I is God the Father's I. At this point are two persons sharing the same I? Or had Theophan_C's I been subsumed into the God the Father's I or the other way around?

Does Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, The Father, Theophan_C, and everyone else who has had this distance removed have the same I?

Clearly this problematic.
Of course I care about my relationship with God but I don't see the problem you do and I'm OK with that.  I think the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do share the same essence in relation or communion with each other and their being is this communion itself (call it Love). So if the Spirit creates between us and the Father, through grace, the same relation He has by nature with the Father and the Son that might be a pretty good one line explanation of theosis, in my opinion.  If there were no relation of essence I don't see how God could be One.  If Christ is not One in essential relation with the Father and we are not related essentially with Christ through the Holy Spirit I don't see how we are saved.

Now you've told me what you think, and I've told you what I think.  I really hope you don't find my ego lurking and poke it into argument!  May God enlighten us all...
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« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2013, 06:11:18 PM »

orthonorm,

Now I've had lunch and re-read my last post I regret it.  What on earth did I think I was doing spouting off about things like that?  It was mere surmise on my part, pure guesswork.  Just ignore me if I do that again!   
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« Reply #37 on: January 07, 2013, 06:54:47 PM »

IoanC,

This is the problematic quote. Sorry, I thought you provided. I guess Theophan_C found it within a link you provided or it is in the split thread.

Here is the quote with the proper attribution:

Quote
“Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our “I” and His “I,” creating between us and the Father, through grace, the same relation He has by nature with the Father and the Son” (Staniloae, 1994, The experience of God: Revelation and knowledge of the Triune God, p. 248).

Yeah, I definitely second that quote being problematic. It sounds too close to us literally becoming numerically identical with God (sharing the same "I"), and I certainly don't like it. I personally think a better analogy may be closing the gap between us and God enough to say "We" - but with God's "I" and our "I" remaining distinct.

The latter part about us having a relation with the Father, through grace, that the Spirit has by nature sounds an awful lot like us literally entering into the Trinity proper, or entering into the divine essence. Almost as if we are artificially grafted into the essence through grace, and not just immersed in the energies.
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« Reply #38 on: January 07, 2013, 11:24:30 PM »

Bishop Kallistos's statement, I think, is helpful

"He [God] is outside all things according to his essence,” writes St Athanasius, “but he is in all things through his acts of power.”12 “We know the essence through the energy”, St Basil affirms. “No one has ever seen the essence of God, but we believe in the essence because we experience the energy.”13 By the essence of God is meant his otherness, by the energies his nearness. Because God is a mystery beyond our understanding, we shall never know his essence or inner being, either in this life or in the Age to come. If we knew the divine essence, it would follow that we knew God in the same way as he knows himself; and this we cannot ever do, since he is Creator and we are created. But, while God’s inner essence is for ever beyond our comprehension, his energies, grace, life and power fill the whole universe, and are directly accessible to us.

The essence, then, signifies the radical transcendence of God; the energies, his immanence and omnipresence. When Orthodox speak of the divine energies, they do not mean by this an emana­tion from God, an “intermediary” between God and man, or a “thing” or “gift” that God bestows. On the contrary, the energies are God himself in his activity and self-manifestation. When a man knows or participates in the divine energies, he truly knows or participates in God himself, so far as this is possible for a created being. But God is God, and we are human; and so, while he possesses us, we cannot in the same way possess him.

Just as it would be wrong to think of the energies as a “thing” bestowed on us by God, so it would be equally misleading to regard the energies as a “part” of God. The Godhead is simple and indivisible, and has no parts. The essence signifies the whole God as he is in himself; the energies signify the whole God as he is in action. God in his entirety is completely present in each of his divine energies. Thus the essence-energies distinction is a way of stating simultaneously that the whole God is inaccessible, and that the whole God in his outgoing love has rendered himself accessible to man.

By virtue of this distinction between the divine essence and the divine energies, we are able to affirm the possibility of a direct or mystical union between man and God—what the Greek Fathers term the theosis of man, his “deification”—but at the same time we exclude any pantheistic identification between the two: for man participates in the energies of God, not in the essence. There is union, but not fusion or confusion. Although “oned” with the di­vine, man still remains man; he is not swallowed up or annihilated, but between him and God there continues always to exist an “I— Thou” relationship of person to person."  -Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, Ch 1 (see further here)
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« Reply #39 on: January 12, 2013, 02:38:43 AM »

orthonorm,

I'm fairly certain your understanding is on a different level than mine.  I liked the quote because it encouraged me and strengthened my hope in Christ.  I was worried you would talk me out of that but luckily I didn't really understand your reply!   angel   so I'm left with no argument with it at all.  Maybe Ioanc will say something more about the meat of it ?  

Good.

Now do you really care?

What distance exists between your I and God the Father's I?

Let just make clear the simple problem here.

Theophan_C's I--> I--------------------------------------------------------------------------I <--God the Father's I

If that distance were removed:

Theophan_C's I--> I <--God the Father's I.

Theophan_C's I is God the Father's I. At this point are two persons sharing the same I? Or has Theophan_C's I been subsumed into the God the Father's I or the other way around?

Does Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, The Father, Theophan_C, and everyone else who has had this distance removed have the same I?

Clearly this problematic. And the above is a merely a simplistic treatment of the statement. It would take a lot of sophisticating of that phrase to avoid anything like the above. And even then I would say that DISTANCE is a necessary but not sufficient condition (to put it in the language of the schoolmaster) for communion or even identity.

In fact, on my crazier days, I would say:

Theophan_C's I is not Theophan_C's I.

You exist. You literally stand outside yourself. Distance is not just the ground for communion but for existence itself.

Otherwise I really have no idea how I incessantly talk about myself all the time and observe others doing the same.

I dunno. I understood the passage in a completely different way.

Quote
Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our 'I' and His 'I', creating between us and the Father through grace, the same relationship He has by nature with the Father and the Son.

The 'I', so to speak, of the Father, the 'I' of the Son, and the 'I' of the Holy Spirit are absolutely diverse, but by nature have a relation which removes the absolute distance between them into unity without at the same time dissolving this distance. Their absolute unity and diversity is what makes the communion between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so incomprehensible, and it is this union which we are given by grace (by energy) the privilege to participate in, such that we truly become adopted Sons of God. I understood 'eliminating the difference' not to mean a collapsing into a unity, but rather an elimination of distance modeled after the unity of the Trinity.
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« Reply #40 on: January 12, 2013, 02:59:18 AM »

IoanC,

This is the problematic quote. Sorry, I thought you provided. I guess Theophan_C found it within a link you provided or it is in the split thread.

Here is the quote with the proper attribution:

Quote
“Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our “I” and His “I,” creating between us and the Father, through grace, the same relation He has by nature with the Father and the Son” (Staniloae, 1994, The experience of God: Revelation and knowledge of the Triune God, p. 248).

Yeah, I definitely second that quote being problematic. It sounds too close to us literally becoming numerically identical with God (sharing the same "I"), and I certainly don't like it. I personally think a better analogy may be closing the gap between us and God enough to say "We" - but with God's "I" and our "I" remaining distinct.

The latter part about us having a relation with the Father, through grace, that the Spirit has by nature sounds an awful lot like us literally entering into the Trinity proper, or entering into the divine essence. Almost as if we are artificially grafted into the essence through grace, and not just immersed in the energies.

But things being given by grace has an equivalent meaning to things being given by energy. Were this not true, it would be heresy to say that we become gods by grace. It seems to me that Staniloae is touching on a very interesting dimension of theosis and salvation, namely the relational aspect of it (in accordance with the Scriptural teaching that we will become adopted sons of the Father). This very interesting hypostatic dimension of theosis often gets overshadowed I think, by the great prominence we sometimes give to the essence-energies distinction.
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« Reply #41 on: January 12, 2013, 12:57:24 PM »

Quote
Dimitru Staniloae says:
Quote
Through grace the Spirit eliminates the distance between our 'I' and His 'I', creating between us and the Father through grace, the same relationship He has by nature with the Father and the Son.

This is the problematic quote.

The quote needs to be read in context.  Staniloae is talking about our filial adoption in Christ and our incorporation into the divine life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The "distance" to which Staniloae refers (I think) is the distance between Creator and creature.  This distance is annulled by adoption:  by grace, through union with Christ, in Christ, we truly come to share in the same relationship with the Father that the incarnate Son shares by nature.

This way of talking about theosis--which is simply the biblical and patristic way of talking--is a lot easier to preach and explain than the essence/energies distinction.  The latter only becomes necessary within a specific theological-philosophical context, e.g., when one is confronted with someone like Barlaam who rejects divinization in this life altogether or who reduces it to moral imitation.  It's perfectly possible to speak of theosis and participation in the Trinitarian life of God without ever invoking the essence/energies distinction.  To see that this is the case, all one needs to do is to read the orations of St Gregory the Theologian, the writings of St Cyril of Alexandria, or the homilies of St Gregory Palamas.

IMHO, Staniloae's language is no more problematic than the language of the Apostle Paul: 

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth 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" (Gal 2:20). 

"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal 4: 4-6).

Hence I agree with Cavaradossi when he writes, "It seems to me that Staniloae is touching on a very interesting dimension of theosis and salvation, namely the relational aspect of it (in accordance with the Scriptural teaching that we will become adopted sons of the Father). This very interesting hypostatic dimension of theosis often gets overshadowed I think, by the great prominence we sometimes give to the essence-energies distinction." 
 
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« Reply #42 on: January 13, 2013, 12:53:04 AM »

So could it be said that, by grace, we become adopted into the Trinity - or into a separate parralel relationship with the Father outside the Trinity that is nonetheless similar to the Son's?
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« Reply #43 on: January 13, 2013, 06:42:07 PM »

So could it be said that, by grace, we become adopted into the Trinity - or into a separate parralel relationship with the Father outside the Trinity that is nonetheless similar to the Son's?

We are incorporated into the divine life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We are baptized into the body of Christ.  We are filled with the Holy Spirit.  We worship the Father through the Son in the Spirit.  Etc., etc.  St Augustine sums it up nicely:

Quote
For He doth justify, who is just through His own self, and not of another; and He doth deify who is God through Himself, not by the partaking of another. But He that justifieth doth Himself deify, in that by justifying He doth make sons of God. "For He hath given them power to become the sons of God." If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods: but this is the effect of Grace adopting, not of nature generating. For the only Son of God, God, and one God with the Father, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was in the beginning the Word, and the Word with God, the Word God. The rest that are made gods, are made by His own Grace, are not born of His Substance, that they should be the same as He, but that by favour they should come to Him, and be fellow-heirs with Christ. For so great is the love in Him the Heir, that He hath willed to have fellow-heirs. (On the Psalms 50.2)

Theosis is all about participation in the Trinitarian life of God. 
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« Reply #44 on: January 13, 2013, 07:24:50 PM »

We are incorporated into the divine life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We are baptized into the body of Christ.  We are filled with the Holy Spirit.  We worship the Father through the Son in the Spirit.  Etc., etc.  St Augustine sums it up nicely:

Quote
For He doth justify, who is just through His own self, and not of another; and He doth deify who is God through Himself, not by the partaking of another. But He that justifieth doth Himself deify, in that by justifying He doth make sons of God. "For He hath given them power to become the sons of God." If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods: but this is the effect of Grace adopting, not of nature generating. For the only Son of God, God, and one God with the Father, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was in the beginning the Word, and the Word with God, the Word God. The rest that are made gods, are made by His own Grace, are not born of His Substance, that they should be the same as He, but that by favour they should come to Him, and be fellow-heirs with Christ. For so great is the love in Him the Heir, that He hath willed to have fellow-heirs. (On the Psalms 50.2)

Theosis is all about participation in the Trinitarian life of God.  

Thank you for this. I hadn't heard theosis described along these lines before this thread (like you mentioned above, it was in terms of essence-energies for me), and it's pretty interesting.

I wonder if this is the non-Chalcedonian understanding as well, since IIRC they don't use the essence-energies distinction...
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