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Author Topic: Are Orthodox saved by grace after all they can do?  (Read 2267 times) Average Rating: 0
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Rho
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« on: March 01, 2005, 03:11:56 PM »

Hello all,

I was pondering this today...
Given that Orthodoxy rejects Sola Fide but also rejects "salvation by works," is it accurate to say that in Orthodoxy one is saved by grace after all s/he can do?

Thank you for your time and thoughts.

Grace and peace,
ALAN
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2005, 03:58:42 PM »

One of the biggest parts of being saved is actually faith. In many parables when Jesus accomplishes a task (healing of the leper, curing the blind man, healing of Jairus' daughter, etc. One of the common things he says is: "Your faith has saved you". or "Your faith has made you well." Seeing this, we cannot discount the fact that faith plays an important role in our saving. Anyone else want to add to it? This was off the top of my head.

-Nick
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choirfiend
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2005, 05:04:39 PM »

The Orthodox "formula" might be that we are saved by grace, through faith, evidenced by works in accordance with Christian life. There's nothing we can do to earn salvation, but that does not mean that we are not commanded to behave in a certain way toward ourselves and toward others, and we must follow that commandment even though we fail time and time again.
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2005, 05:19:16 PM »

I think you have it right Rho. Smiley

 I would also recommend the following:

http://jbburnett.com/resources/mark_ascetic-righteousness.pdf

icxn
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2005, 05:45:18 PM »

Fwiw, it is my understanding that what we specifically reject is "salvation by human works". When our works are done together with God (synergy), on the other hand, they are indeed effectual for attaining salvation. Even Paul told us to "work out our salvation" and spoke of being "fellow-labourers with God," after all. I would definately agree that, in the end, it's all about grace, as every good thing comes from God. Regarding the "how" of salvation, I think His Grace, Bp. Kallistos put it well:

"...the Orthodox Church has never formally endorsed any particular theory of atonement. The Greek Fathers, following the New Testament, employ a rich variety of images to descibe what the Savior had done for us. These models are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, each needs to be balanced by the others. Five models stand out in particular: teacher, sacrifice, ransom, victory, and participation." (How Are We Saved?, pp. 48-49)

The error of some of our Christian friends, then, would seem to be not in speaking of faith or ransom as being key to salvation, but to speak of these things to the detriment of the other parts of how we are salved. The resurrection means nothing without the cross, which means nothing without us participating in the Life in Christ, which means nothing without the blood of Christ covering our sins, and so forth. It's all inter-related. I would definately second ICXN's recommendation of that work by St. Mark the Monk. Fwiw, I've also found the writings of St. John Cassian (which are available online at CCEL) and St. Nicholas Cabasilas to be helpful on the matters of faith, works, and grace.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2005, 05:48:36 PM by Paradosis » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2005, 06:25:20 PM »

I'm glad you mentioned St. John Cassian, Paradosis.  He really -- especially in his Thirteenth Conference -- helped me see the witness from Scripture that God is working independently of me to save me, and that I must also work with Him to help save myself.
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2005, 06:55:23 PM »

I think it's dangerous to talk about grace coming after all you can do, as it leads to a sort of semi-Pelagianism (I know a lot of people don't like that word, but I can't think of any other to use in its place).  While not explicitly denying it, it minimizes the fact that "There is none righteous".  As St. Paul said, it is for the sinful individual to "trust in God, who justifies the ungodly", and not to look for "a righteousness of [their] own, from the law" but rather "the righteousness which is from God".  The role of people in their own salvation is much more receptive than active.
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2005, 07:53:22 AM »

The role of people in their own salvation is much more receptive than active.

True...all the so-called "works" of Orthodoxy are only means to the end of ever-increasing receptiveness of the Holy Spirit.
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Rho
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2005, 09:29:07 AM »

Quote
choirfiend:  The Orthodox "formula" might be that we are saved by grace, through faith, evidenced by works in accordance with Christian life.

>>How is this different from the Evangelical position of Sola Fide?  I couldn't have said it better myself...
And I've read that 13th Conference by St. John Cassian (thanks to Pedro who sent it to me).  I didn't see anything in there either to overturn Sola Fide. 
Any insight on what sets Orthodox doctrine from the doctrine of Sola Fide?
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2005, 09:58:55 AM »

I would say that we are not saved by faith alone since works are necessary for salvation. Even the demons have faith (believe), and tremble; they also have many works (they fast, they hold vigil, etc.), but neither faith nor works will accomplish anything for them. It is only when we have both God-pleasing and God-given faith, and God-pleasing and God-given efforts, that we are saved. And, speaking of faith itself, it must be more than a mere intellectual or even heart-felt agreement/affirmation. True Christian faith itself is a work (1 Thes. 1:3 and 2 Thes. 1:11): for God gives us the grace to believe, but then we must make the effort to go along with God's will and grace and cooperate with God. This is a theanthropic or synergetic "work of faith with power". Even the thief on the cross had works: his repentance, his defense of Christ, his public proclamation of believing in Christ, his not (at the very last second) turning away from God because of the agony he was in, etc.
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« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2005, 01:23:44 PM »

Nicely put, Paradosis.

I'm'a say it again: I think St. Peter walking on the water gives a great icon (pun intended) of synergy.  It doesn't matter whether St. Peter stumbles and sinks, only to be picked up by Christ, or whether he walks over to Christ without the slightest doubt. Though he has to get out of the boat and take every step himself, he could do nothing in the first place were it not for Christ's holding him up on the water.  With Peter himself, this is impossible; with God, even this is possible...but not guaranteed unless Peter takes the steps.

Same w/us...we may stumble and sink in our own personal sin, or we may live a life at the absolute peak of virtue, as did the Theotokos.  This doesn't add to or detract from God's role, however; we are all still held up in our works by Christ's grace, which is offered to all.  We've just got to act on it continually.
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