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Matthew79
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« on: July 12, 2013, 10:05:06 PM »

I don't know if my question was addressed anywhere else, but I spent way too much time sifting through old threads and got bored.

I just read an Orthodox author's thoughts concerning Calvin's predestination/election ideas. I personally don't fully subscribe to those ideas myself, but am curious as to how Orthodoxy interprets the numerous passages (too many to list) throughout several books of the NT that talk very specifically about predestination and God's elect and chosen people. I thought maybe there was an entirely different Orthodox Bible somewhere, but I have seen posts where people have been recommending various Bible translations that I read as a protestant.

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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2013, 01:03:51 AM »

I don't know if my question was addressed anywhere else, but I spent way too much time sifting through old threads and got bored.

I just read an Orthodox author's thoughts concerning Calvin's predestination/election ideas. I personally don't fully subscribe to those ideas myself, but am curious as to how Orthodoxy interprets the numerous passages (too many to list) throughout several books of the NT that talk very specifically about predestination and God's elect and chosen people.
The thing we have to recognize is context. It is not wise to take those passages out of context to support some philosophical construct that is not otherwise found in the Scriptures. The Bible is not a source book for the philosophy of the day.
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2013, 01:11:48 AM »

I just read an Orthodox author's thoughts concerning Calvin's predestination/election ideas. I personally don't fully subscribe to those ideas myself, but am curious as to how Orthodoxy interprets the numerous passages (too many to list) throughout several books of the NT that talk very specifically about predestination and God's elect and chosen people.
Best way to start would be to give an example of a passage.
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Matthew79
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2013, 02:25:09 AM »

Certainly, context is important. Here's the context of the whole passage right here. I'll bold the key statements:

Romans 8:28- 9:24   ESV

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

9 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

----------------------------
...And this is one section out of at least a dozen scattered throughout the Gospels, Ephesians, Colossians, Peter, Timothy, Thessalonians, Titus...
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2013, 02:52:37 AM »

Certainly, context is important. Here's the context of the whole passage right here. I'll bold the key statements:

Romans 8:28- 9:24   ESV

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

9 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers,[a] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

----------------------------
...And this is one section out of at least a dozen scattered throughout the Gospels, Ephesians, Colossians, Peter, Timothy, Thessalonians, Titus...
You're still not providing any context.
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2013, 07:59:32 AM »

I don't know if my question was addressed anywhere else, but I spent way too much time sifting through old threads and got bored.

I just read an Orthodox author's thoughts concerning Calvin's predestination/election ideas. I personally don't fully subscribe to those ideas myself, but am curious as to how Orthodoxy interprets the numerous passages (too many to list) throughout several books of the NT that talk very specifically about predestination and God's elect and chosen people. I thought maybe there was an entirely different Orthodox Bible somewhere, but I have seen posts where people have been recommending various Bible translations that I read as a protestant.
Gk. prohorizo, is lit. "horizon before" -a horizon in advance. God does not predestine persons to be Christians; he predestines those whom he foreknew to become like Christ.

All of God's actions proceed from an eternity where He exists at once as beginning and end (alpha and omega; "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." -Ps 90:6) and his manner of "logical order" is beyond human inference (Is 55:9). The "fore" and "pre-" langage of scripture is in relation to us rather than a question of "what order did God do such and such" (cf. the in-house "order of decrees" debate within Calvinism).  Pre/fore language in scripture is not properly logically arranged in a system of cataphatic events in the sense of a chronological or logical history of God's manner of being or acting, but to be appreciated as an apophatic mystery which places God's acting in us far beyond the horizon of our time.

As to election, Christ is called elect (Lk 9:35 etc.); others are called elect in him. But in the church. Those of the church, accordingly, are said to be chosen from the foundation of the world, but in Christ.

Quote from: Orthodox Answers
Question Number 622:

Does the Orthodox Church believe in any kind of fatalism? How does the Church view free will?
ANSWER:
There no fatalism in Orthodox theology. Fatalism is defined as: "a submissive mental attitude resulting from acceptance of the doctrine that everything that happens is predetermined and inevitable."

This is associated with the idea that in the distant past, God has predetermined the outcome of events by means of sovereign and arbitrary decrees (this being understood in a literal sense, not as an anthropomorphic image) (this is Calvinism).

In Orthodox theology, the view would be that God's foreknowledge transcends space and time - he knows and foreknows and relates with our eternal self (1 Cor 13:12).

We do not have "free will" in an absolute sense, and the best expression would be "self will" or "responsible will." True freedom (in contrast with the slavery of sin) is only in Christ, by the Holy Spirit. We increase in freedom and therefore true free will as we increase in sanctification and glorification by the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

As to Romans 9, Paul's question is about the apparent rejection of elected Israel rather than personal salvation of individual men: "Paul is not talking about a double predestination of the Calvinist type" (N. T. Wright, "Romans And the Theology of Paul, "3rd paragraph, section VI); a majority of contemporary scholars agree. A minority trajectory (even within Protestantism) of conservative classical Calvinists do still try to advance Calvin's view that this section is about decreeing the final destiny of particular individuals to heaven and hell (double election), but what they cannot reasonably claim is that it is the plain and obvious sense of Romans 9 -else all the major critical commentators on Romans of the last century would not disagree with them! (cf. C. E. B. Cranfield, Ernst Kasemann, and James D. G. Dunn are cited by Wright as the most important); obviously the Orthodox Church doesn't agree Rom 9 is about individual election either.

Rom 9:10-11: The working out of the promise in human history would take one specific course. Many nations came from Abraham as God had promised, but only one nation was to have the role Israel was to play. Jacob marked the line of descent through whom the promises to Abraham would be carried out; at issue was not individual merit, but God's larger purpose in human history (that Paul's discussion of Jacob centers on the line of descent and not the individual will become plain in the following verses).

Rom 9:12: The elder shall serve the younger: in Gen 25:23, quoted here, it is not Esau and Jacob the individuals who are in view: "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger" (Gen 25:23). Esau the individual never served the individual Jacob, Esau the nation (Edom) was subjugated as a vassal state by David and Solomon (2 Sam 8:13-14; 1 Ki 9:26-28) and afterward (e.g. 1 Ki 22:47; 2 Ki 14:7).

Rom 9:13: Even as it is written, "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated": this second quotation (Mal 1:1-2) as before also has the nations of Israel and Edom in view, not the individuals Jacob and Esau -the question remains why one corporate entity was elected rather than another as an insight into the church vs. Israel. The contention of a majority of commentators that the words "love" and "hate" carry the force of election and rejection of the nations respectively as heirs to the promises to Abraham finds further support in the fact that Esau was the recipient of God's blessing (Gen 27:38f) and further in that God continued to treat the "hated" nation Edom as an object of His tender care (e. g. Deut 2:4-5; 23:7). The nation Israel was chosen to inherit the covenant and promises to Abraham, while Edom suffered subjugation.

Rom 9:14: Is there unrighteousness with God? Was the selection of the nation Jacob as the line of Messianic promise on sole basis of God's decision unjust? God Forbid.

Rom 9:15: I will have mercy on whom I have mercy: Paul is quoting Ex 33:19 where God told the Israelites to go to the promised land alone -He would not go with them! (Ex 33:1-3), after which Moses complained "...consider that this nation is your people" (Ex 33:12f). God's response "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy..." (Ex 33:19) emphasizes that God is not bound to act on the basis of what men think, but alone decides what He will do for his own reasons, just as He did in selecting Israel and not Edom for His purpose.

Rom 9:16: not of him that willeth or him that runneth: God does not decide to elect one nation over another for service on the basis of man's desires or merits, but of His own wisdom (as in the immediate context of Ex 33.

Rom 9:17: God similarly raised up Pharaoh, for no other reason other than to accomplish His purpose: that I might show My power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout the earth. The Exodus from Egypt was something not even the great Pharaoh could stand in the way of. Though he resisted God, God's power and name were declared nevertheless.

Rom 9:18: Therefore He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth: God is free to show mercy on whomever He pleases, and to influence whomever He desires whenever it suits His given purpose. The OT speaks both of God hardening Pharaoh and of Pharaoh hardening himself. Some have sought to extrapolate universal determinism from particular instances where God seems to determine individual action; others have inferred universal indeterminism of the will the equally prevalent witness of individual responsibility. Neither position is true to the variety of scripture taken as a whole. That God can directly affect individual actions whenever he wishes to is the witness of scripture; that this is always the case is not. To what end in this case? In the case of Pharaoh, though under God's judgment for killing Israel's firstborn males, God's stated purpose was not his eternal damnation, but that God's power and name would be made known (vs 17), the same reason given for His election of Israel. "The assumption that Paul is here thinking of the ultimate destiny of the individual, of his final salvation or final ruin, is not justified by the text" (Cranfield, p. 236).

"If He “lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” how is it that so many continue unenlightened? For not all have known the majesty of Christ. How then doth He “light every man”? He lighteth all as far as in Him lies. But if some, willfully closing the eyes of their mind, would not receive the rays of that Light, their darkness arises not from the nature of the Light, but from their own wickedness, who willfully deprive themselves of the gift. For the grace is shed forth upon all, turning itself back neither from Jew, nor Greek, nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor free, nor bond, nor male, nor female, nor old, nor young, but admitting all alike, and inviting with an equal regard. And those who are not willing to enjoy this gift, ought in justice to impute their blindness to themselves; for if when the gate is opened to all, and there is none to hinder, any being willfully evil remain without, they perish through none other, but only through their own wickedness." (Athanasius, Homily VIII: John 1: 9, Schaff, NPNF vol 14, p. 29).

Here are a couple of additional threads where I discuss related issues in case anyone is interested.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,44588.msg748349.html#msg748349     http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,44588.msg755474.html#msg755474
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2013, 02:13:02 PM »

I don't really feel like reading any of the preceding posts because of their length, but I understand it to mean that the Church is predestined, not necessarily an individual.
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2013, 06:00:07 PM »

You're still not providing any context.

Peter- Will you then please post the rest of it, wherever you think the context starts? I have assumed that the context is generally wherever the particular thought/subject begins.... Unless you're referring to historical context?

xariskai- You've got a lot of detail there, a bit hard to follow, let me see if I understand you correctly... You're saying that the story of Jacob and Esau shows that God predestines and elects nations, but not individuals? And relating that understanding to Romans passage, Paul is talking about our election or predestination as a body of believers?
 
It seems Paul spends all of chapter 8 addressing individual believers personally and intimately, where he also uses the words "foreknew" and "predestined". According to your understanding, he all of a sudden stops and becomes very general, as if referring to a large group. Yet in 9:6 he says, "for not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel," or you could say, not all who claim to follow tradition or the fathers are part of the true Church. This separates people individually again, not as a group.

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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2013, 03:11:54 AM »

You're still not providing any context.

Peter- Will you then please post the rest of it, wherever you think the context starts? I have assumed that the context is generally wherever the particular thought/subject begins.... Unless you're referring to historical context?
I think you're finally starting to understand what I mean by context. I fear that you may be reading the whole Bible out of context. St. Paul wrote his epistles as letters to the churches to guide them in pressing matters of doctrine and praxis, not as a source book for whatever doctrines or philosophical concepts you may wish to construct. Since it is the Church that has preserved those letters and their correct understanding, one cannot separate St. Paul's epistles from the life of the Church, which we call Holy Tradition. If you can't accept this underlying foundation of our approach to the interpretation of Scripture, then I'm afraid that you won't understand any of our arguments regarding the Bible and predestination.
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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2013, 03:47:10 PM »

I think you're finally starting to understand what I mean by context. I fear that you may be reading the whole Bible out of context. St. Paul wrote his epistles as letters to the churches to guide them in pressing matters of doctrine and praxis, not as a source book for whatever doctrines or philosophical concepts you may wish to construct. Since it is the Church that has preserved those letters and their correct understanding, one cannot separate St. Paul's epistles from the life of the Church, which we call Holy Tradition. If you can't accept this underlying foundation of our approach to the interpretation of Scripture, then I'm afraid that you won't understand any of our arguments regarding the Bible and predestination.

Right, so if I see a teaching in one passage of Scripture, I should be able to find it in other areas without much stretching. I've always understood proper context as the entire immediate dialogue/monologue, cultural/historical, genre, other works by the same author, etc. I admit, I often just look at the immediate monologue and if I see enough scholars who I trust to have studied deeply agreeing, I just take other passages they reference on faith. I know this is theological laziness- my bad  Grin  This is a danger for any Christian, regardless of church affiliation- The very thing I am often so quick to point out about others- people who don't think all the way through about what they believe or why the believe it and just accept it because "so and so said so."  "But I don't do that! Ohhh, noo!"  Grin I know that not everyone has the time or mental ability to plunge into theology, but If I am discussing in a place such as this I should probably be a little more thorough. Give me some time, and I will look into it further.

However, I still don't think that would answer how xariskai explained the first few verses of Romans 9 is only about the Church in general. 
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« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2013, 05:17:26 PM »

xariskai- You've got a lot of detail there, a bit hard to follow, let me see if I understand you correctly... You're saying that the story of Jacob and Esau shows that God predestines and elects nations, but not individuals? And relating that understanding to Romans passage, Paul is talking about our election or predestination as a body of believers?
I am completely baffled at how you arrived at this interpretation of what I wrote above.

However, I still don't think that would answer how xariskai explained the first few verses of Romans 9 is only about the Church in general.  
What? I certainly never said "the first few verses of Romans 9 is are about the Church" in general or specifically.

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« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2013, 05:31:04 PM »

xariskai- You've got a lot of detail there, a bit hard to follow, let me see if I understand you correctly... You're saying that the story of Jacob and Esau shows that God predestines and elects nations, but not individuals? And relating that understanding to Romans passage, Paul is talking about our election or predestination as a body of believers?
I am completely baffled at how you arrived at this interpretation of what I wrote above.

That's why I was asking for clarification

What? I certainly never said "the first few verses of Romans 9 is are about the Church" in general or specifically.

You're right. I asked you to explain yourself more and I should have waited instead of assuming. Forgive me.
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2013, 06:15:16 PM »

xariskai- You've got a lot of detail there, a bit hard to follow, let me see if I understand you correctly... You're saying that the story of Jacob and Esau shows that God predestines and elects nations, but not individuals? And relating that understanding to Romans passage, Paul is talking about our election or predestination as a body of believers?
I am completely baffled at how you arrived at this interpretation of what I wrote above.

That's why I was asking for clarification

What? I certainly never said "the first few verses of Romans 9 is are about the Church" in general or specifically.

You're right. I asked you to explain yourself more and I should have waited instead of assuming. Forgive me.

No forgiveness required, and welcome to the forum since I haven't said so yet.

I'm not sure clarification will help here though. You are already attributing to me positions that I have not stated or implied and  absolutely do not hold.

I'm starting a project offline that is going to take a lot of time, so perhaps I can chime in again later.
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« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2013, 09:05:49 PM »

Peace, Matthew.

I have a few questions if you don't mind.

You're still not providing any context.

Peter- Will you then please post the rest of it, wherever you think the context starts? I have assumed that the context is generally wherever the particular thought/subject begins.... Unless you're referring to historical context?
I thought that the context goes back to chapter 2 respecting Israel in God's economy of salvation. Chapter 9 then is just a continuation of the righteousness of faith for which Israel were trying to pursue but failed. Do you agree that apostle Paul was addressing the Jewish question or is it about individuals?

I said a few. So, the rest will follow.  Smiley

Blessings.
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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2013, 11:10:22 PM »

You're still not providing any context.

Peter- Will you then please post the rest of it, wherever you think the context starts? I have assumed that the context is generally wherever the particular thought/subject begins.... Unless you're referring to historical context?
I think you're finally starting to understand what I mean by context. I fear that you may be reading the whole Bible out of context. St. Paul wrote his epistles as letters to the churches to guide them in pressing matters of doctrine and praxis, not as a source book for whatever doctrines or philosophical concepts you may wish to construct. Since it is the Church that has preserved those letters and their correct understanding, one cannot separate St. Paul's epistles from the life of the Church, which we call Holy Tradition. If you can't accept this underlying foundation of our approach to the interpretation of Scripture, then I'm afraid that you won't understand any of our arguments regarding the Bible and predestination.
This is the key problem: the Scriptures are not a textbook of systematic theology.  They are a reflection of a living Faith.  The way Protestantism of the more stringent Sola Scriptura type is sort of like making an android: it can imitate life, but it has none.
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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2013, 04:54:46 PM »

I thought that the context goes back to chapter 2 respecting Israel in God's economy of salvation. Chapter 9 then is just a continuation of the righteousness of faith for which Israel were trying to pursue but failed. Do you agree that apostle Paul was addressing the Jewish question or is it about individuals?

I said a few. So, the rest will follow.  Smiley

Blessings.

Edati,

I think both. I think it's about Israel and individuals. The Jews were stuck in their belief that God chose only them and damned everyone else, as if there was something about Israel that was so holy and righteous that they deserved it. Paul was refuting that. It is by grace. Israel was to be God's example of salvation for the world by following the faith of Abraham. So it is about Israel, but also about the salvation of each person. Let me explain. Paul says in Romans 11:11-24 that the unbelieving Jews, who were not bearing fruit, were cut off from the tree. They weren't necessarily permanently lost, because God can graft them back in again if they repent and come to faith. But God also allowed the Gentiles (anyone who's not Jewish) to have the opportunity to be grafted in through faith (as long as they continue in faith), for the purpose of making Israel jealous and want to return. In Romans 8:12-17 Paul calls this adoption. When we believe, we are adopted, by God, into the family of His chosen people, I suppose a spiritual Israel. As adopted sons, we receive full benefits of being God's sons. We share in the inheritance that belongs to Israel. Peter recognizes this as well, "As you come to him... you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."(1Peter 2:4,5) I don't say this to pick on Jews, because they were God's original chosen people. Paul says 11:12, "now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles (me), how much more will their full inclusion mean?" I envy them and I pray that they will one day come to Christ... because that would be awesome! Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2013, 12:37:23 PM »

    It seems to me Orthodox do believe in predestination, they just don't necessarily believe in unconditional election.  The Synod of Jerusalem in the 17th century seems to affirm something not that different from classical Arminianism (not to be confused with some of the other things labeled "Arminianism).

  There's a book, Rethinking TULIP, by an Orthodox layman.. I forgot the author though and it's been a while since I read it, but the author makes the case that Calvinism isn't the understanding of the ancient Church..  Roger Olson's http://www.amazon.com/Arminian-Theology-Myths-Realities-ebook/dp/B001E95WXQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374684271&sr=1-1&keywords=Arminianism work is also excellent.   N.T. Wright's books, especially Justification are also helpful.
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« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2013, 01:50:27 AM »

As to election, Christ is called elect (Lk 9:35 etc.); others are called elect in him. But in the church. Those of the church, accordingly, are said to be chosen from the foundation of the world, but in Christ.

Quote from: Orthodox Answers
Question Number 622:

Does the Orthodox Church believe in any kind of fatalism? How does the Church view free will?
ANSWER:
There no fatalism in Orthodox theology. Fatalism is defined as: "a submissive mental attitude resulting from acceptance of the doctrine that everything that happens is predetermined and inevitable."

This is associated with the idea that in the distant past, God has predetermined the outcome of events by means of sovereign and arbitrary decrees (this being understood in a literal sense, not as an anthropomorphic image) (this is Calvinism).

In Orthodox theology, the view would be that God's foreknowledge transcends space and time - he knows and foreknows and relates with our eternal self (1 Cor 13:12).

We do not have "free will" in an absolute sense, and the best expression would be "self will" or "responsible will." True freedom (in contrast with the slavery of sin) is only in Christ, by the Holy Spirit. We increase in freedom and therefore true free will as we increase in sanctification and glorification by the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Hi Matthew,

Do you agree with what xariskai had said regarding election in Christ? What is your view of election?

Blessings.

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« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2013, 04:15:20 PM »

Hi Matthew,

Do you agree with what xariskai had said regarding election in Christ? What is your view of election?

Blessings.

I guess that was my whole question. I don't know if I just had a long day and my brain was fried, but everything xariskai posted just went in one ear and out the other. I agree with this part that you quoted though, and most all of the people I know, even at the Baptist seminary where they taught Calvinism, would agree here too. There were a few of the "hardcore" Calvinists that were a bit fatalistic, but the majority of us, as I understood it, agree with "622".

Let me just repeat back what I hear you saying so I completely understand what is being said. Elected in Christ- meaning we are elected by faith in Him. Those of the Church are chosen from the foundation of the world, through their faith in Christ

God has predetermined the outcome of events by means of sovereign and arbitrary decrees (this being understood in a literal sense, not as an anthropomorphic image) (this is Calvinism).

I don't know how to take this in anyway but literally. Maybe I do not understand the word "anthropomorphic" deeply enough. Do you mean that this predetermination is already decided and set in place, not that God is still making up his mind to this very day?

Your last line concerning free will we would especially agree with. If we have any disagreements at all, I think it would be in the definition of "The church". You would likely say the church is the visible institution of the Orthodox Church and all who are baptized into it. I would say the church is all who trust in the work of Christ for their redemption (regardless of their church tradition). This trust, of course, is proven by confessed belief and repentance.
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« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2013, 11:34:05 PM »

Hi Matthew,

Do you agree with what xariskai had said regarding election in Christ? What is your view of election?

Blessings.

I guess that was my whole question. I don't know if I just had a long day and my brain was fried, but everything xariskai posted just went in one ear and out the other. I agree with this part that you quoted though, and most all of the people I know, even at the Baptist seminary where they taught Calvinism, would agree here too. There were a few of the "hardcore" Calvinists that were a bit fatalistic, but the majority of us, as I understood it, agree with "622".

Sorry, what is "622"? Logically, Calvinism cannot be but fatalism, if it is to be consistent. I was Reformed Baptist before I turned to Orthodoxy.

Quote
Let me just repeat back what I hear you saying so I completely understand what is being said. Elected in Christ- meaning we are elected by faith in Him. Those of the Church are chosen from the foundation of the world, through their faith in Christ

Perhaps, the quote below from the Catechism of St Philaret might help,

Quote from: Catechism of St Philaret

120.  With what design did God create man?

With this, that he should know God, love, and glorify him, and so be happy forever.

121.  Has not that will of God, by which man is designed for eternal happiness, its own proper name in theology?

It is called the predestination of God.

122.  Does God's predestination of man to happiness remain unchanged, seeing that now man is not happy?

It remains unchanged; inasmuch as God, of his foreknowledge and infinite mercy, hath predestined to open for man, even after his departure from the way of happiness, a new way to happiness, through his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

He hath chosen us, in him, before the foundation of the world, are the words of the Apostle Paul. Eph. i. 4.

123.  How are we to understand the predestination of God, with respect to men in general, and to each man severally?

God has predestined to give to all men, and has actually given them preparatory grace, and means sufficient for the attainment of happiness.1

124.  What is said of this by the Word of God?

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate. Rom. viii. 29.

125.  How does the orthodox Church speak on this point?

In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs it is said: As he foresaw that some would use well their free will, but others ill, he accordingly predestined the former to glory, while the latter he condemned. (Art. iii.)


Source: www.pravoslavieto.com/docs/eng/orthodox_catechism_of_philaret.htm


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« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2013, 11:13:46 AM »

I don't know if my question was addressed anywhere else, but I spent way too much time sifting through old threads and got bored.

I just read an Orthodox author's thoughts concerning Calvin's predestination/election ideas. I personally don't fully subscribe to those ideas myself, but am curious as to how Orthodoxy interprets the numerous passages (too many to list) throughout several books of the NT that talk very specifically about predestination and God's elect and chosen people. I thought maybe there was an entirely different Orthodox Bible somewhere, but I have seen posts where people have been recommending various Bible translations that I read as a protestant.


Calvin's ideas of election and predestination presuppose different God and different story of salvation than the apostolic and orthodox faith does. The first image is obsessed with ascertaining that people do not contribute in any way to the salvific purposes of God, it focuses on individuals and their private ordo salutis for which Christ seems to be only an instrument. This is the point of view from which Calvinism perceives mentioned passages. On the other hand the story that our Faith tells is the story of God making man in His image (and the image is the Son of God) through whom God should be reflected to the whole creation and creation offered to God. And as we speak of Adam, Israel or Christ, we're not speaking of individuals only, but of a corporate identity, the people of God. When God created Adam, He created the whole humanity proceeding from him. When God called Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that is Israel, He called all his descendants to the covenant with the Creator God. When God sent His Son to bear our infirmities, when He justified Him and glorified and exalted to His right hand, He justified and glorified all who loyally follow Christ into the Baptism of His Death to receive the Life of Resurrection in this age and in the Age to Come. As Christ was foreknown, so we are foreknown, as He was predestined to inheri the Kingdom and the Glory of God, so we are, as He was justified, so we are. What is true about Christ, is also true about His Body. When we are engrafted in Him, we share in His life which is the real axis of history, in Him we suddenly see the purposes of God and discover that we in Christ become the foreknown partakers of the Glory which belongs to the Son from nature, but to us through grace. It's not because our future was decided before the world was created, but because the destiny of the Son was decided before all ages and of all those who join themselves to Him willfully to become His Body. These are the elect in the Elect and Precious One, these are justified with the Just One, these are glorified with the Glorious One. The elect is the name derived and not independent just like Christians - there's no election and no Christianity apart from Christ the Elect One.
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« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2013, 05:26:04 PM »

Sorry, what is "622"? Logically, Calvinism cannot be but fatalism, if it is to be consistent. I was Reformed Baptist before I turned to Orthodoxy.

Question #622- I was referring to what you quoted previously, which I assumed was from a catechism.


Perhaps, the quote below from the Catechism of St Philaret might help,

Quote from: Catechism of St Philaret

120.  With what design did God create man?

With this, that he should know God, love, and glorify him, and so be happy forever.

121.  Has not that will of God, by which man is designed for eternal happiness, its own proper name in theology?

It is called the predestination of God.

122.  Does God's predestination of man to happiness remain unchanged, seeing that now man is not happy?

It remains unchanged; inasmuch as God, of his foreknowledge and infinite mercy, hath predestined to open for man, even after his departure from the way of happiness, a new way to happiness, through his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

He hath chosen us, in him, before the foundation of the world, are the words of the Apostle Paul. Eph. i. 4.

123.  How are we to understand the predestination of God, with respect to men in general, and to each man severally?

God has predestined to give to all men, and has actually given them preparatory grace, and means sufficient for the attainment of happiness.1

124.  What is said of this by the Word of God?

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate. Rom. viii. 29.

125.  How does the orthodox Church speak on this point?

In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs it is said: As he foresaw that some would use well their free will, but others ill, he accordingly predestined the former to glory, while the latter he condemned. (Art. iii.)


I have no problem with this catechism. Especially the last sentence of 125, God knew who would choose him and who would not, so He predestined them accordingly. This is what I was taught at the Baptist seminary. We did recognize some people didn't believe in free will at all, but that wasn't the majority of us.

Luka, I don't see any disagreement with you. Amen.

I think maybe we are all having a breakdown of communication somewhere?  Smiley

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« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2013, 05:23:58 AM »


Luka, I don't see any disagreement with you. Amen.

I think maybe we are all having a breakdown of communication somewhere?  Smiley


Maybe the real question concerns the free will and human effort? How do you see them?
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« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2013, 08:05:08 PM »


Luka, I don't see any disagreement with you. Amen.

I think maybe we are all having a breakdown of communication somewhere?  Smiley


Maybe the real question concerns the free will and human effort? How do you see them?

Just to be sure I am not misrepresenting Calvinism at all, here is a section from chapter 16 on providence from the textbook of my Theology classes:

“If God exercises providential control over all events are we in any sense free? The answer depends on what is meant by the word free. In some senses of the word free everyone agrees that we are free in our will and in our choices. Even prominent theologians in the Reformed or Calvinistic tradition concur. Both Louis Berkhof in his Systematic Theology and John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion are willing to speak in some sense of the free acts and choices of man. However, Calvin explains that the term is so subject to misunderstanding that he himself tries to avoid using it. This is because ‘free will is not sufficient to enable man to do good works, unless he be helped by grace.’ Therefore Calvin concludes:
“Man will then be spoken of as having this sort of free decision, not because he has free choice equally of good and evil, but because he acts wickedly by will, not by compulsion.”
 Scripture nowhere says that we are free in the sense of being outside of God’s control or of being able to make decisions that are not caused by anything. Nor does it say we are free in the sense of being able to do right on our own apart from God’s power. But we are nonetheless free in the greatest sense that any creature of God could be free- we make willing choices, choices that have real effects. We are aware of no restraints on our will from God when we make decisions. We must insist that we have the power of willing choice; otherwise we will fall into the error of fatalism or determinism and thus conclude that our choices do not matter, or that we cannot really make willing choices. On the other hand, the kind of freedom that is demanded by those who deny God’s providential control of all things, a freedom to be outside of God’s sustaining and controlling activity, would be impossible if Jesus Christ is indeed “continually carrying along things by his word of power.”  --Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology

There is much further explanation, if you care to read any of it, you can do so here:
http://www.slideshare.net/teng1981/systematic-theology-wayne-grudem

R.C. Sproul, a popular Calvinist pastor and teacher, identifies 3 types of the will of God (2 Peter 3:9 as the illustration):
1. God's sovereign will- God is not willing in a sovereign decretive sense that any should perish.
2. God's preceptive will- God does not allow people to perish in the sense that he grants his moral permission.
3. God's will of disposition- God is not willing in the sense that he is not inwardly disposed to, or delighted by, people’s perishing. Yet, because of  
              their free will, some will be allowed to perish.

So, as I understand it, God's will will be done with or without our cooperation. He gives us the opportunity to decide how we will be apart of that (within his sovereign and preceptive will).
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« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2013, 12:26:41 PM »

So, as I understand it, God's will will be done with or without our cooperation. He gives us the opportunity to decide how we will be apart of that (within his sovereign and preceptive will).

Well, although the quotations you provided don't really explain the issue for me, if you believe what you have written in the conclusion, it seems in agreement with what Orthodoxy teaches: God has a plan to unite ("recapitulate" as literally Paul and St. Irenaeus say) everything in heaven and on earth in Christ and it will be done, and God will be all in all, and we truly choose to be a part of renewed creation - or not.

However that's not what I read and heard about Calvinism - what about total depravation which deprives all of the possibility to join willingly God unless God gives them such opportunity? And gives the opportunity not to all, but to the elect only?
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« Reply #25 on: November 08, 2013, 09:52:06 AM »

The Calvinistic theory or doctrine of predestination affirms that God has purposed, decreed, predetermined, foreordained, predestinated, whatsoever comes to pass, and that, in some way or other, he, by his providence, brings to pass whatever occurs.

In the first place, this theory of predestination is inconsistent with the doctrine of man’s free moral agency/ free will.
It's impossible that we're free agents, or have free will, when all the external circumstances that affect us, and all our mental and bodily acts, are predetermined and brought about by God.

Man is thus reduced to a mere passive instrument, a complicated machine, an automation—whose every movement is conceived, determined, directed, controlled by a supervisor.
 
Perhaps you may say that we have the power to will; that you actually will; but the difficulty is not relieved. The being who endowed us with this faculty has foreordained and brings to pass, by a well-directed agency, every movement of that will.

Perhaps you may say that we will according to our inclinations, and are therefore free; but God has decreed and brings to pass all our inclinations.

Perhaps you may say that we act according to his will, and not against his will; still nothing is gained, since all our purposes, and the movements by which we execute them, are equally preordained and brought to pass by God.

Perhaps you may say that we are conscious of acting freely, but this is a mere delusion, if the doctrine we are addressing is true - By the very logic which reconciles it with free will in man.

Thus, this belief, being at odds with man’s free will/agency, is, by necessary consequence, at odds with his moral accountability.

If all our views, feelings, and volitions, being thus predetermined, we can no more be accountable for them than for the circumstances of our birth, or the colour of our skin. We cannot reasonably be made the subject of commendation or censure—of reward or punishment.

It also follows, from this doctrine, that there isn't, and cannot be, any such thing as sin.

If we are not a free agent or have no free will, if we be incapable of acting otherwise than as predetermined by God—we are incapable of either virtue or vice.

And mark, for the sake of the argument, if i grant you that we are capable of virtue, notwithstanding all our acts are foreordained and rendered infallibly certain by a power which we cannot successfully resist, we are still incapable of vice.

We cannot sin, for this plain, all-sufficient reason—we can't act otherwise than according to the will of God.














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« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2013, 03:21:07 AM »

Predestination always confuses me, but it almost makes sense sometimes


If God knows all things, that is what will happen tomorrow (is this true?) Then he already knows what we will do is this correct? Or if we have the free will to choose what will happen tomorrow, does God not then know all things? Or does he instead know all possibilities? But if God only knows the possibilities, he still does not know all things since he could not say what we will do tomorrow. Does God already know exactly how my life will play out? Is my free will just an illusion of what is already going to happen since it is already set in stone from God knowing that it will be this certain way?

Can someone please explain orthodox predestination to me, since I never really thought about it too much and it is making me very confused about all these absolutes


And for the OP, and for myself, perhaps we should find commentary on those passages from the holy fathers and make ourselves agree with whatever is said



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« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2013, 05:28:47 PM »

There can be no other God besides the god of predestination.
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