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.
Question Number 622:
Does the Orthodox Church believe in any kind of fatalism? How does the Church view free will?
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