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Author Topic: Author says Calvinism can’t make sense of the cross  (Read 4807 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 03, 2014, 06:38:35 PM »

RNS: One of the things you wrestle with in this book is the issue of hell. This is an explosive and divisive topic in the church. Tell us about this journey for you.

Austin Fischer: As a Calvinist, I realized I had to believe the following about hell. Before the world existed, God decided to create a world in which the majority of humans were ordained to suffer eternal punishment in hell because, ultimately, God wanted them to so he could glorify himself in their damnation. Their damnation was God’s intention. This gets explained via a complex causal web, but that’s the inescapable conclusion at the bottom of Calvinism.

All doctrines of hell are difficult, but the Calvinist doctrine presented me with a God so (seemingly) cold and morally ambiguous that I despaired of how I could know and relate to such a God. If the God who could die for sinners could also create sinners in order to damn them, then the universe was an incoherent place ruled by an enigmatic deity of arbitrary, raw power. It is certainly within God’s rights to do such a thing, but if it’s within God’s heart then we’re all in big trouble. That was my conclusion at least.
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 09:37:05 PM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

Is this theologumen?
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 10:13:44 PM »

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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2014, 12:40:32 AM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

Is this theologumen?

I think the easiest way to say it is this: God knows all things and sees all of time as one eternal NOW, so He knows who will follow His statutes and who will not. That said, He created us with free will and loves us so much that He willingly limits the use of His sovereign omnipotence so that He does nothing to override our free will. Predestination is an unacceptable doctrine, a heresy to us Orthodox because it requires God to override our free will and render us not free to love Him, but slaves instead.
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2014, 08:40:36 AM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

God knows all things and sees all of time as one eternal NOW, so He knows who will follow His statutes and who will not. That said, He created us with free will and loves us so much that He willingly limits the use of His sovereign omnipotence so that He does nothing to override our free will. Predestination is an unacceptable doctrine, a heresy to us Orthodox because it requires God to override our free will and render us not free to love Him, but slaves instead.

If God is willingly limiting His omnipotence to grant us free will could there also be a component where He is willingly limiting His omniscience to allow our free will to result in decisions and actions that He experiences in the moment?  I ask this because I have a hard time understanding free will if God knows everything I am doing to do, say, think, believe, etc from the day I'm born until the day I die.

Like when I was a little kid my brother and I would do silly things like all of a sudden spin around then ask "Did God know I was going to do that!?"  Perhaps God didn't and was delighted in our playfulness.

Also, is there anywhere where the Fathers explain this position you cited:
Quote
God knows all things and sees all of time as one eternal NOW, so He knows who will follow His statutes and who will not.

And for the record, I was raised Calvinist and still am a member of a Protestant church in the Calvinist tradition.  I am still sorting through these issues and that is why I am asking questions. 
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2014, 11:13:00 AM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

God knows all things and sees all of time as one eternal NOW, so He knows who will follow His statutes and who will not. That said, He created us with free will and loves us so much that He willingly limits the use of His sovereign omnipotence so that He does nothing to override our free will. Predestination is an unacceptable doctrine, a heresy to us Orthodox because it requires God to override our free will and render us not free to love Him, but slaves instead.

If God is willingly limiting His omnipotence to grant us free will could there also be a component where He is willingly limiting His omniscience to allow our free will to result in decisions and actions that He experiences in the moment?  I ask this because I have a hard time understanding free will if God knows everything I am doing to do, say, think, believe, etc from the day I'm born until the day I die.
Knowing that we are going to do something does nothing to restrict free will if, knowing what we are going to do, He allows us the complete freedom to do it anyway.

Like when I was a little kid my brother and I would do silly things like all of a sudden spin around then ask "Did God know I was going to do that!?"  Perhaps God didn't and was delighted in our playfulness.
I think we need to be careful how much our words and images may anthropomorphize God. The Father, the Son (before He became incarnate as Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit are not human persons as we understand human personhood. In fact, they are beyond all human concepts of personhood. Therefore, our attempts to attribute human emotions to God are incomplete at best and possibly even erroneous at worst.

Also, is there anywhere where the Fathers explain this position you cited:
Quote
God knows all things and sees all of time as one eternal NOW, so He knows who will follow His statutes and who will not.
It's a logical conclusion from the belief that God transcends time. For more on the transcendence of God, which is the foundation for what we call our apophatic theological approach, you might try reading the Mystical Theology of Pseudo-Dionysius.

And for the record, I was raised Calvinist and still am a member of a Protestant church in the Calvinist tradition.  I am still sorting through these issues and that is why I am asking questions. 
There's no problem with you asking questions. Wink
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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2014, 11:40:55 AM »

I don't think that we can systematically understand the mechanics of free will, predestination, foreknowledge, and the rest.

God calls certain people to repentance, he wills all to be saved, he loves mankind, he hates sin and cannot stand evil. We are an elect people called out from the nations who can only respond by the power of God working in us, but the power of God is working in us all. All of humanity is filled with life and has the law of God etched on our hearts; the Spirit of God animating our members.

There's a some paradoxes in this, but that doesn't bother men. I pray for my chidren that God would call them and choose them to be among his flock, but I also know that they must freely choose God. I don't really have an issue with my mind being about to affirm to seemingly opposed realities. We do that with plenty of things all of the time. Maybe there's a better and clean way to understand all of it, but I'm not so concerned with that specificially. But I definitely like other things to be logical and internally consistant, so I don't fault those who choose this issue as their intellectual plaything.
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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2014, 12:54:54 PM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

Is this theologumen?


You are not going to even get close to a decent discussion of the problem of evil around here. See the above.
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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2014, 12:09:31 AM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

Is this theologumen?


No it is not theologoumen. It is Orthodox doctrine. The Greek Fathers all affirmed free will. The Eastern Orthodox Church never had to deal with the issue until a Calvinist Catechism was published under the name of Patriarch Cyril Loukaris of Constantinople. As a result the Church held a series of councils climaxing the Council of Jerusalem-Bethlehem in 1672 which officially rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination as heretical. Because God is all knowing and outside of time, He knows what has happened, what is happening and what will happen in the future. Although, God knows whether or not we will reject or accept His offer of salvation, He does not force us to make that decision.  The best discussion of these issues is found in the 13 Conference of St. John Cassain.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2014, 04:01:42 AM »

I think what begs the question is what word the fathers used when speaking of "free-will" and what that word actually means. And with that "foreknowledge" also.

My understanding is that the fathers used the word we ascribe the meaning of free-will as "self-determination"(τὸ αὐτεξούσιον). Apparently there was a controversy in the 7th century about will, action, freedom, chrystology perhaps it could help in this sense and perhaps someone who knows better can make some light in this direction.
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2014, 05:56:08 AM »

^Citations?
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« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2014, 06:54:15 AM »

^For what? Nothing was cited.
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« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 07:00:08 AM »

^For what? Nothing was cited.

Exactly. He's wondering where you got your information.
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« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2014, 08:20:28 AM »

^For what? Nothing was cited.

Exactly. He's wondering where you got your information.

I guess we can assume he's digging them up?  Wink
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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2014, 08:31:20 AM »

http://books.google.dk/books?id=OcKasEOTR38C&pg=PA156&lpg=PA156&dq=τὸ+αὐτεξούσιον+self+determination&source=bl&ots=9-Pq36NIVD&sig=8_7MdqEDviT8WPM8xzK9MMFhURM&hl=ro&sa=X&ei=ZfFDU-etJea84ATcloCICw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=τὸ%20αὐτεξούσιον%20self%20determination&f=false
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« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2014, 08:46:59 AM »

Thanks, sort of. The 2 page excerpt citation is to that author's (Cyril Hovorun) conclusions, not to specific writings of the Fathers. Who was Pyrrhus? Curious, and skeptical, I am.

$124.00 for the Hovorun book. I'm impressed you can afford it.
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« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2014, 08:53:03 AM »

do your own homework lazy assess

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« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2014, 09:06:09 AM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

Is this theologumen?

I think the easiest way to say it is this: God knows all things and sees all of time as one eternal NOW, so He knows who will follow His statutes and who will not. That said, He created us with free will and loves us so much that He willingly limits the use of His sovereign omnipotence so that He does nothing to override our free will. Predestination is an unacceptable doctrine, a heresy to us Orthodox because it requires God to override our free will and render us not free to love Him, but slaves instead.

If we wind up in Hell, it is because we put ourselves there.   If we ignore the freedom from sin and continue to be captured by our sinful ways then we have predestined ourselves, only don't blame God.
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« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2014, 10:52:06 AM »

I think what begs the question is what word the fathers used when speaking of "free-will" and what that word actually means. And with that "foreknowledge" also.

My understanding is that the fathers used the word we ascribe the meaning of free-will as "self-determination"(τὸ αὐτεξούσιον). Apparently there was a controversy in the 7th century about will, action, freedom, chrystology perhaps it could help in this sense and perhaps someone who knows better can make some light in this direction.

You are probably referring to the Monothelite controversy.  In order to reach an accommodation with the non-Chalcedonians, the idea was floated that Christ had one will. The Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III, condemned Monothelitism as heresy and affirmed that Christ had both a human and a divine will. Significantly, the council condemned Pope Honorius I for heresy because Monothelitism took its full form in a letter he wrote to Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, who proposed that Christ had one energy. Pope Honorius suggested that instead of one energy, Christ had one will. The RCs go through all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to try to explain why the condemnation of Pope Honorius I for heresy does not invalidate their doctrine of papal infallibility. Monothelitism gave rise to the Maronite schism from the Patriarch of Antioch. During the Crusades, the Maronites submitted to Rome. They are the largest group of Christians in Lebanon and use a variation of the Syriac Rite.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2014, 11:13:57 AM »

The major problem with Calvinism is not that it cannot make sense of the cross. The problem is that it cannot make sense of the Incarnation. Calvin taught a Nestorian like Christology that rejected the patristric doctrine of the communicaiton of attributes. That meant that he denied the deification of the human nature of Christ. This defect in his Christology effected his entire theology. He is right that we cannot save ourselves unless God acts first, but failed to realize that God acted first in the Incarnation which due to his legalistic emphasis of the Cross as a sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God the Father is a kind of afterthought in his system. Calvin inherited his view of the centrality of the Cross from his Roman Catholic background, especially Anslem. Obviously a God who creates people to send to burn in hell for all eternity for his glory is hardly the God of love we find in the New Testament. Calvinism, is profoundly un-Biblical. They twist verses around change the meaning of words and resort to all sorts of mental gymnastics to justify their un-Biblical beliefs. For example, in I Timothy 2:4 St. Paul writes that God "desires all men to be saved." That is what the text says in plain Greek. However, Calvinists interpret all men to mean simply all sorts of men. They go through the entire New Testament this way redefining words from their meaning in the original Greek, twisting verses around and completely ignoring anything that does not fit into their Calvinistic point of view. Calvinism also produced a great deal of spiritual pride, because they believe that God has chosen them specially from the mass of condemned humanity for salvation. Unfortunately, Calvinism has become the latest fad among young Evangelicals.

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« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2014, 11:31:03 AM »

do your own homework lazy assess

I assure you I will, on many levels, and in many places.
Your response is so familiar to me; I wonder how that is so?
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« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2014, 12:33:53 PM »

The major problem with Calvinism is not that it cannot make sense of the cross. The problem is that it cannot make sense of the Incarnation. Calvin taught a Nestorian like Christology that rejected the patristric doctrine of the communicaiton of attributes. That meant that he denied the deification of the human nature of Christ. This defect in his Christology effected his entire theology. He is right that we cannot save ourselves unless God acts first, but failed to realize that God acted first in the Incarnation which due to his legalistic emphasis of the Cross as a sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God the Father is a kind of afterthought in his system. Calvin inherited his view of the centrality of the Cross from his Roman Catholic background, especially Anslem. Obviously a God who creates people to send to burn in hell for all eternity for his glory is hardly the God of love we find in the New Testament. Calvinism, is profoundly un-Biblical. They twist verses around change the meaning of words and resort to all sorts of mental gymnastics to justify their un-Biblical beliefs. For example, in I Timothy 2:4 St. Paul writes that God "desires all men to be saved." That is what the text says in plain Greek. However, Calvinists interpret all men to mean simply all sorts of men. They go through the entire New Testament this way redefining words from their meaning in the original Greek, twisting verses around and completely ignoring anything that does not fit into their Calvinistic point of view. Calvinism also produced a great deal of spiritual pride, because they believe that God has chosen them specially from the mass of condemned humanity for salvation. Unfortunately, Calvinism has become the latest fad among young Evangelicals.

Fr. John W. Morris

I think that is a problem for all Christian denominations including Orthodoxy. Or are you telling me Orthodoxy can make sense of the Incarnation? If so please show how.
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« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2014, 12:37:27 PM »

I think what begs the question is what word the fathers used when speaking of "free-will" and what that word actually means. And with that "foreknowledge" also.

My understanding is that the fathers used the word we ascribe the meaning of free-will as "self-determination"(τὸ αὐτεξούσιον). Apparently there was a controversy in the 7th century about will, action, freedom, chrystology perhaps it could help in this sense and perhaps someone who knows better can make some light in this direction.

You are probably referring to the Monothelite controversy.  In order to reach an accommodation with the non-Chalcedonians, the idea was floated that Christ had one will. The Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III, condemned Monothelitism as heresy and affirmed that Christ had both a human and a divine will. Significantly, the council condemned Pope Honorius I for heresy because Monothelitism took its full form in a letter he wrote to Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, who proposed that Christ had one energy. Pope Honorius suggested that instead of one energy, Christ had one will. The RCs go through all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to try to explain why the condemnation of Pope Honorius I for heresy does not invalidate their doctrine of papal infallibility. Monothelitism gave rise to the Maronite schism from the Patriarch of Antioch. During the Crusades, the Maronites submitted to Rome. They are the largest group of Christians in Lebanon and use a variation of the Syriac Rite.

Fr. John W. Morris

Yes that is what I meant. I've just heard of it. Maybe someone can get to the bottom of it and explain the thing about will and freedom, and the way the fathers used "free-will(self-determination)". While they are there it would be nice if they could do "foreknowledge" also. Or at least one of them.
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« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2014, 02:30:22 PM »

I think what begs the question is what word the fathers used when speaking of "free-will" and what that word actually means. And with that "foreknowledge" also.

My understanding is that the fathers used the word we ascribe the meaning of free-will as "self-determination"(τὸ αὐτεξούσιον). Apparently there was a controversy in the 7th century about will, action, freedom, chrystology perhaps it could help in this sense and perhaps someone who knows better can make some light in this direction.

You are probably referring to the Monothelite controversy.  In order to reach an accommodation with the non-Chalcedonians, the idea was floated that Christ had one will. The Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III, condemned Monothelitism as heresy and affirmed that Christ had both a human and a divine will. Significantly, the council condemned Pope Honorius I for heresy because Monothelitism took its full form in a letter he wrote to Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, who proposed that Christ had one energy. Pope Honorius suggested that instead of one energy, Christ had one will. The RCs go through all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to try to explain why the condemnation of Pope Honorius I for heresy does not invalidate their doctrine of papal infallibility. Monothelitism gave rise to the Maronite schism from the Patriarch of Antioch. During the Crusades, the Maronites submitted to Rome. They are the largest group of Christians in Lebanon and use a variation of the Syriac Rite.

Fr. John W. Morris

Yes that is what I meant. I've just heard of it. Maybe someone can get to the bottom of it and explain the thing about will and freedom, and the way the fathers used "free-will(self-determination)". While they are there it would be nice if they could do "foreknowledge" also. Or at least one of them.

Here are some quotes from St. John Chrysostom and St. John of Damascus on free will:

St. John Chrysostom

On 2 Cor. iv. 13.“That first believing, and obeying when called, is of our good will; but when the foundation of faith is laid, we need the assistance of the Spirit.” And
on St. John i. 38.  “that God does not precede our wills with his
gifts; but when we have begun, when we have sent our will before, then He gives us abundant opportunities of salvation.”

For we have been created with free wills by our Creator and are masters over
our own actions.

For the phrase “after His image” clearly refers1799 to the side of his nature which consists of mind and free will, whereas  “after His likeness” means likeness in virtue so far as that is possible.

We are left then with this fact, that the man who acts and makes is himself the author of his own works, and is a creature endowed with free-will.

St. John of Damascus

God in His goodness brought what exists into being out of nothing, and has foreknowledge of what will exist in the future. If, therefore, they were not to exist in the future, they would neither be evil in the future nor would they be foreknown. For knowledge is of what exists and foreknowledge is of what will surely exist in the future. For simple being comes first and then good or evil being. But if the very existence of those, who through the goodness of God are in the future to exist, were to be prevented by the fact that they were to become evil of their own choice, evil would have prevailed over the goodness of God. Wherefore God makes all His works good, but each becomes of its own choice good or evil.

Fr. John W. Morris

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« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2014, 02:56:18 PM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

Is this theologumen?


No it is not theologoumen. It is Orthodox doctrine. The Greek Fathers all affirmed free will. The Eastern Orthodox Church never had to deal with the issue until a Calvinist Catechism was published under the name of Patriarch Cyril Loukaris of Constantinople. As a result the Church held a series of councils climaxing the Council of Jerusalem-Bethlehem in 1672 which officially rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination as heretical. Because God is all knowing and outside of time, He knows what has happened, what is happening and what will happen in the future. Although, God knows whether or not we will reject or accept His offer of salvation, He does not force us to make that decision.  The best discussion of these issues is found in the 13 Conference of St. John Cassain.

Fr. John W. Morris

Thank you for the response.  Followup question in relation to this quote:

Quote
Because God is all knowing and outside of time, He knows what has happened, what is happening and what will happen in the future. Although, God knows whether or not we will reject or accept His offer of salvation, He does not force us to make that decision.

These verses come to mind:

"This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (ESV) 1 Timothy 2:3-4
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (ESV) 2 Peter 3:9

I have a hard time understanding how God can "desire" and be "patient" when he already knows the outcome.  Are the Apostles merely resorting to anthropomorphic language for the sake of their audience? How can I interpret these verses in light of the above quote about God's omniscience and "outside-of-time-ness"?
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« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2014, 10:12:54 PM »

Where is the best explanation of what Orthodox believe regarding God's foreknowledge and how that relates to issues like free will/predestination?

Is this theologumen?


No it is not theologoumen. It is Orthodox doctrine. The Greek Fathers all affirmed free will. The Eastern Orthodox Church never had to deal with the issue until a Calvinist Catechism was published under the name of Patriarch Cyril Loukaris of Constantinople. As a result the Church held a series of councils climaxing the Council of Jerusalem-Bethlehem in 1672 which officially rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination as heretical. Because God is all knowing and outside of time, He knows what has happened, what is happening and what will happen in the future. Although, God knows whether or not we will reject or accept His offer of salvation, He does not force us to make that decision.  The best discussion of these issues is found in the 13 Conference of St. John Cassain.

Fr. John W. Morris

Thank you for the response.  Followup question in relation to this quote:

Quote
Because God is all knowing and outside of time, He knows what has happened, what is happening and what will happen in the future. Although, God knows whether or not we will reject or accept His offer of salvation, He does not force us to make that decision.

These verses come to mind:

"This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (ESV) 1 Timothy 2:3-4
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (ESV) 2 Peter 3:9

I have a hard time understanding how God can "desire" and be "patient" when he already knows the outcome.  Are the Apostles merely resorting to anthropomorphic language for the sake of their audience? How can I interpret these verses in light of the above quote about God's omniscience and "outside-of-time-ness"?

One of the major principles of Orthodox theology is that we cannot understand God with our limited human minds. God told Isaiah, " For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." How God is all powerful, absolute sovereign over the universe, and all knowing and yet we have free will is a mystery that we cannot fully understand with our limited human minds. Why some people accept the Gospel and some reject it is a mystery known only to God. That is one of the many mistakes of Calvinism, they try to bring God down to our level by trying to understand the mysteries of God with the limited human mind.

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« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2014, 04:09:10 AM »

I think what begs the question is what word the fathers used when speaking of "free-will" and what that word actually means. And with that "foreknowledge" also.

My understanding is that the fathers used the word we ascribe the meaning of free-will as "self-determination"(τὸ αὐτεξούσιον). Apparently there was a controversy in the 7th century about will, action, freedom, chrystology perhaps it could help in this sense and perhaps someone who knows better can make some light in this direction.

You are probably referring to the Monothelite controversy.  In order to reach an accommodation with the non-Chalcedonians, the idea was floated that Christ had one will. The Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III, condemned Monothelitism as heresy and affirmed that Christ had both a human and a divine will. Significantly, the council condemned Pope Honorius I for heresy because Monothelitism took its full form in a letter he wrote to Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, who proposed that Christ had one energy. Pope Honorius suggested that instead of one energy, Christ had one will. The RCs go through all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to try to explain why the condemnation of Pope Honorius I for heresy does not invalidate their doctrine of papal infallibility. Monothelitism gave rise to the Maronite schism from the Patriarch of Antioch. During the Crusades, the Maronites submitted to Rome. They are the largest group of Christians in Lebanon and use a variation of the Syriac Rite.

Fr. John W. Morris

Yes that is what I meant. I've just heard of it. Maybe someone can get to the bottom of it and explain the thing about will and freedom, and the way the fathers used "free-will(self-determination)". While they are there it would be nice if they could do "foreknowledge" also. Or at least one of them.

Here are some quotes from St. John Chrysostom and St. John of Damascus on free will:

St. John Chrysostom

On 2 Cor. iv. 13.“That first believing, and obeying when called, is of our good will; but when the foundation of faith is laid, we need the assistance of the Spirit.” And
on St. John i. 38.  “that God does not precede our wills with his
gifts; but when we have begun, when we have sent our will before, then He gives us abundant opportunities of salvation.”

For we have been created with free wills by our Creator and are masters over
our own actions.

For the phrase “after His image” clearly refers1799 to the side of his nature which consists of mind and free will, whereas  “after His likeness” means likeness in virtue so far as that is possible.

We are left then with this fact, that the man who acts and makes is himself the author of his own works, and is a creature endowed with free-will.

St. John of Damascus

God in His goodness brought what exists into being out of nothing, and has foreknowledge of what will exist in the future. If, therefore, they were not to exist in the future, they would neither be evil in the future nor would they be foreknown. For knowledge is of what exists and foreknowledge is of what will surely exist in the future. For simple being comes first and then good or evil being. But if the very existence of those, who through the goodness of God are in the future to exist, were to be prevented by the fact that they were to become evil of their own choice, evil would have prevailed over the goodness of God. Wherefore God makes all His works good, but each becomes of its own choice good or evil.

Fr. John W. Morris



I meant more like a thesis about it not just mere quotations from the fathers.
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« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2014, 10:50:43 AM »

I think what begs the question is what word the fathers used when speaking of "free-will" and what that word actually means. And with that "foreknowledge" also.

My understanding is that the fathers used the word we ascribe the meaning of free-will as "self-determination"(τὸ αὐτεξούσιον). Apparently there was a controversy in the 7th century about will, action, freedom, chrystology perhaps it could help in this sense and perhaps someone who knows better can make some light in this direction.

You are probably referring to the Monothelite controversy.  In order to reach an accommodation with the non-Chalcedonians, the idea was floated that Christ had one will. The Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III, condemned Monothelitism as heresy and affirmed that Christ had both a human and a divine will. Significantly, the council condemned Pope Honorius I for heresy because Monothelitism took its full form in a letter he wrote to Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, who proposed that Christ had one energy. Pope Honorius suggested that instead of one energy, Christ had one will. The RCs go through all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to try to explain why the condemnation of Pope Honorius I for heresy does not invalidate their doctrine of papal infallibility. Monothelitism gave rise to the Maronite schism from the Patriarch of Antioch. During the Crusades, the Maronites submitted to Rome. They are the largest group of Christians in Lebanon and use a variation of the Syriac Rite.

Fr. John W. Morris

Yes that is what I meant. I've just heard of it. Maybe someone can get to the bottom of it and explain the thing about will and freedom, and the way the fathers used "free-will(self-determination)". While they are there it would be nice if they could do "foreknowledge" also. Or at least one of them.

Here are some quotes from St. John Chrysostom and St. John of Damascus on free will:

St. John Chrysostom

On 2 Cor. iv. 13.“That first believing, and obeying when called, is of our good will; but when the foundation of faith is laid, we need the assistance of the Spirit.” And
on St. John i. 38.  “that God does not precede our wills with his
gifts; but when we have begun, when we have sent our will before, then He gives us abundant opportunities of salvation.”

For we have been created with free wills by our Creator and are masters over
our own actions.

For the phrase “after His image” clearly refers1799 to the side of his nature which consists of mind and free will, whereas  “after His likeness” means likeness in virtue so far as that is possible.

We are left then with this fact, that the man who acts and makes is himself the author of his own works, and is a creature endowed with free-will.

St. John of Damascus

God in His goodness brought what exists into being out of nothing, and has foreknowledge of what will exist in the future. If, therefore, they were not to exist in the future, they would neither be evil in the future nor would they be foreknown. For knowledge is of what exists and foreknowledge is of what will surely exist in the future. For simple being comes first and then good or evil being. But if the very existence of those, who through the goodness of God are in the future to exist, were to be prevented by the fact that they were to become evil of their own choice, evil would have prevailed over the goodness of God. Wherefore God makes all His works good, but each becomes of its own choice good or evil.

Fr. John W. Morris



I meant more like a thesis about it not just mere quotations from the fathers.

I suggest that you read the 13 Conference of St. John Cassain. It is by far the best discussion of this subject and forms an Orthodox answer to the excesses of Augustine.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2014, 11:02:15 AM »

The Calvinist explaination of the mechanics of predestination are heretical, but the idea of predestination is not at all. It is perfectly Orthodox and all over our tradition, especially in the Holy Scriptures.
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« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2014, 01:21:35 PM »

The Calvinist explaination of the mechanics of predestination...
...which would be what sort of mechanics?
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« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2014, 02:17:30 PM »

The Calvinist explaination of the mechanics of predestination...
...which would be what sort of mechanics?

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3159981?uid=3739744&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21103641233511

What is condemned by the Synod in Jerusalem. I suppose you could arge that it incorrectly portrays Calvinism, but that's another matter.
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« Reply #31 on: April 10, 2014, 04:26:24 AM »

I think what begs the question is what word the fathers used when speaking of "free-will" and what that word actually means. And with that "foreknowledge" also.

My understanding is that the fathers used the word we ascribe the meaning of free-will as "self-determination"(τὸ αὐτεξούσιον). Apparently there was a controversy in the 7th century about will, action, freedom, chrystology perhaps it could help in this sense and perhaps someone who knows better can make some light in this direction.

You are probably referring to the Monothelite controversy.  In order to reach an accommodation with the non-Chalcedonians, the idea was floated that Christ had one will. The Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III, condemned Monothelitism as heresy and affirmed that Christ had both a human and a divine will. Significantly, the council condemned Pope Honorius I for heresy because Monothelitism took its full form in a letter he wrote to Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, who proposed that Christ had one energy. Pope Honorius suggested that instead of one energy, Christ had one will. The RCs go through all sorts of intellectual gymnastics to try to explain why the condemnation of Pope Honorius I for heresy does not invalidate their doctrine of papal infallibility. Monothelitism gave rise to the Maronite schism from the Patriarch of Antioch. During the Crusades, the Maronites submitted to Rome. They are the largest group of Christians in Lebanon and use a variation of the Syriac Rite.

Fr. John W. Morris

Yes that is what I meant. I've just heard of it. Maybe someone can get to the bottom of it and explain the thing about will and freedom, and the way the fathers used "free-will(self-determination)". While they are there it would be nice if they could do "foreknowledge" also. Or at least one of them.

Here are some quotes from St. John Chrysostom and St. John of Damascus on free will:

St. John Chrysostom

On 2 Cor. iv. 13.“That first believing, and obeying when called, is of our good will; but when the foundation of faith is laid, we need the assistance of the Spirit.” And
on St. John i. 38.  “that God does not precede our wills with his
gifts; but when we have begun, when we have sent our will before, then He gives us abundant opportunities of salvation.”

For we have been created with free wills by our Creator and are masters over
our own actions.

For the phrase “after His image” clearly refers1799 to the side of his nature which consists of mind and free will, whereas  “after His likeness” means likeness in virtue so far as that is possible.

We are left then with this fact, that the man who acts and makes is himself the author of his own works, and is a creature endowed with free-will.

St. John of Damascus

God in His goodness brought what exists into being out of nothing, and has foreknowledge of what will exist in the future. If, therefore, they were not to exist in the future, they would neither be evil in the future nor would they be foreknown. For knowledge is of what exists and foreknowledge is of what will surely exist in the future. For simple being comes first and then good or evil being. But if the very existence of those, who through the goodness of God are in the future to exist, were to be prevented by the fact that they were to become evil of their own choice, evil would have prevailed over the goodness of God. Wherefore God makes all His works good, but each becomes of its own choice good or evil.

Fr. John W. Morris



I meant more like a thesis about it not just mere quotations from the fathers.

I suggest that you read the 13 Conference of St. John Cassain. It is by far the best discussion of this subject and forms an Orthodox answer to the excesses of Augustine.

Fr. John W. Morris

This speaks volumes
Quote
And so these are somehow mixed up and indiscriminately confused, so that among many persons, which depends on the other is involved in great questionings, i.e., does God have compassion upon us because we have shown the beginning of a good will, or does the beginning of a good will follow because God has had compassion upon us? For many believing each of these and asserting them more widely than is right are entangled in all kinds of opposite errors.
Chapter 11

In some place it says that God does not will that any man should perish then why do people perish? The drawed conclusion from reading that exposition is that there is no rule and Salvation is dependent on God's grace and not men's merit, because as he says some are saved even "against their will" , like Saul the blood thirsty and future Apostle. My conclusion from reading that (which I already had) is that we don't have pure free-will. That is why I stressed an exposition about the actual usage and meaning of the words the fathers used as "free-will" and "foreknowledge" and the way they used it and their terminology. Of course after drawing this conclusions of the Christian, it is one of the reasons I am Agnostic, because such a cause is unfair.
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« Reply #32 on: April 10, 2014, 04:47:33 AM »

If you ask me, life is a tragedy for those that believe in fate and predestination.
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« Reply #33 on: April 10, 2014, 11:03:39 AM »

Someone wrote, "And so these are somehow mixed up and indiscriminately confused, so that among many persons, which depends on the other is involved in great questionings, i.e., does God have compassion upon us because we have shown the beginning of a good will, or does the beginning of a good will follow because God has had compassion upon us? For many believing each of these and asserting them more widely than is right are entangled in all kinds of opposite errors."

God showed compassion upon us first through the Incarnation. When God the Son took on humanity, God reached out to all humanity. The central act of God for our salvation was the Incarnation. Through the Incarnation, God took the initiative and acted first for our salvation. That is why Calvinism is so wrong, it fails to realize that God has already acted first and reached out to all humanity through the Incarnation of Christ.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #34 on: April 10, 2014, 09:32:13 PM »

Calvinism fails when it comes to Christology on this matter. If there is only one will in our salvation (God's) then how to we maintain Christ being consubstantial with all humanity? Was His baptism monergistic, or synergistic? Well, if we maintain Dyothelitism, then we must confess that it is synergistic. Therefore, a Calvinist must deny Christ's consubstantiality. If they decided to opt for the other option and attempt to maintain the consubstantiality of Christ, and assert that Christ's baptism was monergistic, then they would be confessing Monothelitism/Mono-energism.

That is at least why Orthodoxy rejects the Calvinistic view of Monergism. However, there is a slew of other reasons. A couple are:

Total Depravity argues that after the fall our nature became corrupted, and unable to freely choose. This is problematic, since it confuses nature and grace. If the fall from grace was a fall from a good nature into a bad nature, then grace would then be nature itself. This is a Pelagian anthropology, which they get from Augustine (Augustine just took the other side of the spectrum with Pelagius) It also is problematic because it asserts that the cause of sin is a nature issue, not a lack of grace issue (ask any Calvinist "What is grace?") since if sin is present because of a depraved nature, then how do we explain Adam's sin while still having a "good nature"

Limited Atonement is erroneous because it presupposes a Nestorian Christology. Proper Orthodoxy, and logic for that matter, asserts that the Divine Son (person) took on a human nature. Now, persons are not universal, meaning, my person isn't your person (i.e I am Wicket, and my person won't ever be born from a womb again) However, nature is universal, which is why we can study the body and it will be universally true (i.e I have a heart, you have a heart). We participate in the body of Christ, we are the body of Christ, we participate in the Divine nature etc. For the atonoment to be limited, it would have had to have been personal, meaning, Christ would have had to assume another person (i.e Bob?) however, that is a two person Christology, since there would be the Divine Son, and...Bob (?).

Those are just a couple.
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« Reply #35 on: April 10, 2014, 10:59:36 PM »

Calvinism fails when it comes to Christology on this matter. If there is only one will in our salvation (God's) then how to we maintain Christ being consubstantial with all humanity? Was His baptism monergistic, or synergistic? Well, if we maintain Dyothelitism, then we must confess that it is synergistic. Therefore, a Calvinist must deny Christ's consubstantiality. If they decided to opt for the other option and attempt to maintain the consubstantiality of Christ, and assert that Christ's baptism was monergistic, then they would be confessing Monothelitism/Mono-energism.

That is at least why Orthodoxy rejects the Calvinistic view of Monergism. However, there is a slew of other reasons. A couple are:

Total Depravity argues that after the fall our nature became corrupted, and unable to freely choose. This is problematic, since it confuses nature and grace. If the fall from grace was a fall from a good nature into a bad nature, then grace would then be nature itself. This is a Pelagian anthropology, which they get from Augustine (Augustine just took the other side of the spectrum with Pelagius) It also is problematic because it asserts that the cause of sin is a nature issue, not a lack of grace issue (ask any Calvinist "What is grace?") since if sin is present because of a depraved nature, then how do we explain Adam's sin while still having a "good nature"

Limited Atonement is erroneous because it presupposes a Nestorian Christology. Proper Orthodoxy, and logic for that matter, asserts that the Divine Son (person) took on a human nature. Now, persons are not universal, meaning, my person isn't your person (i.e I am Wicket, and my person won't ever be born from a womb again) However, nature is universal, which is why we can study the body and it will be universally true (i.e I have a heart, you have a heart). We participate in the body of Christ, we are the body of Christ, we participate in the Divine nature etc. For the atonoment to be limited, it would have had to have been personal, meaning, Christ would have had to assume another person (i.e Bob?) however, that is a two person Christology, since there would be the Divine Son, and...Bob (?).

Those are just a couple.

Like most of Calvinism, the Calvinist definition of grace is defective from an Eastern Orthodox point of view. Grace is not an uncreated divine Energy of God, but is an attitude of God towards the believer. Grace is thought of in Western legalistic terms. Calvinism defines grace as "undeserved merit," or "unmerited favor," not as communion with God. Thus grace is created and is an attitude towards God. Therefore, because like most Protestants they make a sharp distinction between justification and sanctification, they believe that God declares us righteous, but doe not make us righteous. Ultimately, Calvinism is founded on a mistaken effort to understand the mysteries of God. They cannot accept what they cannot define and understand rationally. Therefore the idea that God is all powerful, sovereign and all knowing cannot be reconciled with free will in their theology. That is its appeal. In the theological chaos that is American Protestantism, Calvinism offers a coherent easily understood theological system. Because it is based on reason, Calvinism laid the foundation for the development of liberal theology. I personally think that of all the heresies, ancient and modern, Calvinism has done more harm to basic Christianity than any other.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #36 on: April 11, 2014, 03:44:00 AM »

Someone wrote, "And so these are somehow mixed up and indiscriminately confused, so that among many persons, which depends on the other is involved in great questionings, i.e., does God have compassion upon us because we have shown the beginning of a good will, or does the beginning of a good will follow because God has had compassion upon us? For many believing each of these and asserting them more widely than is right are entangled in all kinds of opposite errors."

God showed compassion upon us first through the Incarnation. When God the Son took on humanity, God reached out to all humanity. The central act of God for our salvation was the Incarnation. Through the Incarnation, God took the initiative and acted first for our salvation. That is why Calvinism is so wrong, it fails to realize that God has already acted first and reached out to all humanity through the Incarnation of Christ.

Fr. John W. Morris

Not someone, John Cassian in Chp 11. Didn't you read what you recommended me? :/
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« Reply #37 on: April 11, 2014, 01:43:26 PM »

Someone wrote, "And so these are somehow mixed up and indiscriminately confused, so that among many persons, which depends on the other is involved in great questionings, i.e., does God have compassion upon us because we have shown the beginning of a good will, or does the beginning of a good will follow because God has had compassion upon us? For many believing each of these and asserting them more widely than is right are entangled in all kinds of opposite errors."

God showed compassion upon us first through the Incarnation. When God the Son took on humanity, God reached out to all humanity. The central act of God for our salvation was the Incarnation. Through the Incarnation, God took the initiative and acted first for our salvation. That is why Calvinism is so wrong, it fails to realize that God has already acted first and reached out to all humanity through the Incarnation of Christ.

Fr. John W. Morris

Not someone, John Cassian in Chp 11. Didn't you read what you recommended me? :/

Of course, but I cannot remember everything that I have read or where it came from.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #38 on: April 11, 2014, 03:35:36 PM »

They cannot accept what they cannot define and understand rationally. ... Calvinism offers a coherent easily understood theological system.

Precisely. There are no loose ends in Calvinism: everything is made to fit into a neat theological system, and there is no room for mystery. It is a rationalist philosophical version of Christianity which creates answers to questions to which God has not provided answers. It is somewhere written that "the hidden things belong to God." He has revealed enough for us to grasp salvation and to learn how to live to please him, but has not responded to every aspect of our curiosity.
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« Reply #39 on: April 11, 2014, 04:10:33 PM »

They cannot accept what they cannot define and understand rationally. ... Calvinism offers a coherent easily understood theological system.

Precisely. There are no loose ends in Calvinism: everything is made to fit into a neat theological system, and there is no room for mystery. It is a rationalist philosophical version of Christianity which creates answers to questions to which God has not provided answers. It is somewhere written that "the hidden things belong to God." He has revealed enough for us to grasp salvation and to learn how to live to please him, but has not responded to every aspect of our curiosity.

Exactly, that is the major fault of Calvinism. It leaves no room for mystery. That is why Calvinism is heretical. Human reason cannot comprehend then mysteries of God. Remember, Calvin's major education was in law not theology. His theology shows this. Calvin also suffered from chronic kidney stones. As one suffering from a kidney stone, I understand why he developed his pessimistic theology.

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« Reply #40 on: April 13, 2014, 11:50:48 AM »

The New Calvinism: "In some Southern Baptist churches there has been a revival of interest in Calvinism...."
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« Reply #41 on: April 13, 2014, 12:37:10 PM »

The New Calvinism: "In some Southern Baptist churches there has been a revival of interest in Calvinism...."

I've read about this and find it to be quite sad.  I've always found Calvinism to be an ideology devoid of much hope.
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« Reply #42 on: April 13, 2014, 03:06:51 PM »

The New Calvinism: "In some Southern Baptist churches there has been a revival of interest in Calvinism...."

I've read about this and find it to be quite sad.  I've always found Calvinism to be an ideology devoid of much hope.

I would like to see a psychological examination of Calvin like Erik Erickson's Young Man Luther. Erickson concluded that much of Luther's theology was formed by his anxiety over the anger of his father who was furious when he entered a monastery instead of becoming a lawyer. Erickson also speculates that Luther's chronic constipation also had something to do with his theology. I would like to see a similar study of Calvin. I do know that he had chronic kidney stones, as one who has been suffering from a kidney stone since November, I understand how one can have a negative and pessimistic view of the human condition.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #43 on: April 13, 2014, 03:49:25 PM »

It is, I think, only fair to say that I was amongst Calvinistic Baptists 1971-6 and found some saintly, humble souls with a deep, lasting love for the Lord. Whatever the shortcomings of the system around them, they had undoubtedly found the Lord within it and walked with him as closely as people I've met from a range of other denominations. "The Lord knows those who are his," and I thank God for them.
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« Reply #44 on: April 13, 2014, 11:09:59 PM »

It is, I think, only fair to say that I was amongst Calvinistic Baptists 1971-6 and found some saintly, humble souls with a deep, lasting love for the Lord. Whatever the shortcomings of the system around them, they had undoubtedly found the Lord within it and walked with him as closely as people I've met from a range of other denominations. "The Lord knows those who are his," and I thank God for them.

I am sure that is true, but that does not change the fact that Calvinism is a serious distortion of the Gospel.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #45 on: April 16, 2014, 11:49:19 PM »

This evening as I was reading the beautiful prayers of the Service of Holy Unction, I could not help but realize that the God of love, mercy and forgiveness described so well in these prayers cannot be reconciled with the God of Calvinism. The God described in the prayers of the Eastern Orthodox Service of the Anointing of the sick, would not send someone to Hell "for his good pleasure," or "for his glory." God does not deny His love and forgiveness to anyone who repents of their sins. However, to be real repentance has to be our choice, not something forced upon us by the Irresistible grace of Calvinism. If a person has no choice but to repent because he or she is forced to repent, it it not real honest repentance. The repentance of Calvinism is a sham and is false repentance because we have no choice, it is forced upon us. Calvinism is a very serious distortion of the Gospel.

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« Reply #46 on: April 17, 2014, 02:23:40 AM »

If a person has no choice but to repent because he or she is forced to repent, it it not real honest repentance ... and is false repentance Fr. John  W. Morris

This is not a defence of Calvinism, as you will know from my earlier posts, but I do think this is a misunderstanding of Calvinist spirituality. There are, I believe, many of that persuasion who feel true remorse for their sins, desire God's help in turning from them, and look only to God's mercy in Christ for forgiveness. The doctrine called (I think) "concurrence" asserts that God's will and man's run together, and although the Calvinist believe God's call to him was irresistible, when he hears that call and (irresistibly) responds, his sense of sin, his remorse, and and prayer for a new life are nonetheless real in him and his own will concurs with them.
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« Reply #47 on: April 20, 2014, 11:58:48 AM »

It is, I think, only fair to say that I was amongst Calvinistic Baptists 1971-6 and found some saintly, humble souls with a deep, lasting love for the Lord. Whatever the shortcomings of the system around them, they had undoubtedly found the Lord within it and walked with him as closely as people I've met from a range of other denominations. "The Lord knows those who are his," and I thank God for them.

I am sure that is true, but that does not change the fact that Calvinism is a serious distortion of the Gospel.

Fr. John W. Morris

yet you cannot say how.
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« Reply #48 on: April 20, 2014, 02:16:06 PM »

It is, I think, only fair to say that I was amongst Calvinistic Baptists 1971-6 and found some saintly, humble souls with a deep, lasting love for the Lord. Whatever the shortcomings of the system around them, they had undoubtedly found the Lord within it and walked with him as closely as people I've met from a range of other denominations. "The Lord knows those who are his," and I thank God for them.

I am sure that is true, but that does not change the fact that Calvinism is a serious distortion of the Gospel.

Fr. John W. Morris

yet you cannot say how.
Actually, I think he's done a pretty good job of explaining how Calvinism is a distortion of the Gospel.
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« Reply #49 on: April 20, 2014, 03:45:10 PM »

It is, I think, only fair to say that I was amongst Calvinistic Baptists 1971-6 and found some saintly, humble souls with a deep, lasting love for the Lord. Whatever the shortcomings of the system around them, they had undoubtedly found the Lord within it and walked with him as closely as people I've met from a range of other denominations. "The Lord knows those who are his," and I thank God for them.

I am sure that is true, but that does not change the fact that Calvinism is a serious distortion of the Gospel.

Fr. John W. Morris

yet you cannot say how.
Actually, I think he's done a pretty good job of explaining how Calvinism is a distortion of the Gospel.

Our theology and history preaches predestination in some form.. So I really don't see him or anyone giving another alternative based on the church's standing.
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« Reply #50 on: April 20, 2014, 03:50:33 PM »

I suppose it depends what one means by "the Gospel". The phrase is often used to refer to the invitation to sinners to come to God through Christ and receive forgiveness and new life, and ultimately glorifucation. But the phrase can also be used to denote the whole of the Christian revelation. I would prefer to say, not that "Calvinism is a distortion of the Gospel", but rather that it contains the Gospel but leaves a lot out. Here in Wales most revivals have been led by Calvinists, from the 18th century onwards, though not (I think) the 1904-5 awakening. In England, the side of the 18th century awakening led by George Whitefield and his associates was Calvinistic. Scotland has been thoroughly Calvinist. God was pleased to use those preachers, and those movements, as channels to bring many sinners to Christ, who now (I have no doubt) are in Paradise with Christ, awaiting the resurrection of the just. But (in my personal view) Calvinism goes wrong in two ways: (1) it leaves out other truths, such as that Christ died for all, that God extends a sincere invitation to all mankind to come in repentance and Christian faith, and that that call of grace can be resisted; and (2) it seeks to answer questions God has not answered, and has created a logical, philosophical sealed system with no loose ends and no mystery.

I also feel (and many on this forum will disagree) that we all distort the Gospel. I think we Evangelicals under-emphasise the resurrection of Christ (and of the believer), whilst focusing almost exclusively on Christ's redemptive death and the forgiveness of sins committed. But my reading of Orthodoxy leads me to the conviction that Orthodoxy concentrates on the resurrrection to the extent of under-emphasising the Atonement achieved at Calvary. One could give other examples, but the point is made.
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« Reply #51 on: April 20, 2014, 05:52:59 PM »

Quote
But my reading of Orthodoxy leads me to the conviction that Orthodoxy concentrates on the resurrection to the extent of under-emphasising the Atonement achieved at Calvary.

This is patently wrong.

The plethora of icons of the Crucifixion in existence, and the tone and teachings of Orthodox Holy Week services easily disproves this assertion. The Orthodox approach is balanced. The Resurrection is indeed the Queen and Mistress of feasts, as our Paschal services proclaim, but no-one can say that the Passion and Resurrection is underemphasized. The sheer number and length of liturgical services appointed for Holy Week alone puts paid to this notion.
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« Reply #52 on: April 20, 2014, 07:23:07 PM »

Oops! Didn't edit the post in time. Here is what it should say:

but no-one can say that the Passion and Crucifixion is underemphasized.
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« Reply #53 on: April 20, 2014, 07:54:19 PM »

It is, I think, only fair to say that I was amongst Calvinistic Baptists 1971-6 and found some saintly, humble souls with a deep, lasting love for the Lord. Whatever the shortcomings of the system around them, they had undoubtedly found the Lord within it and walked with him as closely as people I've met from a range of other denominations. "The Lord knows those who are his," and I thank God for them.

I am sure that is true, but that does not change the fact that Calvinism is a serious distortion of the Gospel.

Fr. John W. Morris

yet you cannot say how.
Actually, I think he's done a pretty good job of explaining how Calvinism is a distortion of the Gospel.

Our theology and history preaches predestination in some form..
What do you mean "our"? I thought you identified yourself as agnostic.

So I really don't see him or anyone giving another alternative based on the church's standing.
One doesn't need to focus on predestination alone to show how Calvinism is a distortion of the Gospel.
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« Reply #54 on: April 20, 2014, 08:01:59 PM »

Oops! Didn't edit the post in time. Here is what it should say:

but no-one can say that the Passion and Crucifixion is underemphasized.
I don't think David is saying that we underemphasize the Passion and Crucifixion themselves. I think he's saying instead that we don't emphasize enough how the Passion makes atonement for our sins, which I suppose he concludes--quite wrongly, IMO--from our disagreement with the substitutionary atonement theories put forth by Anselm and other Western theologians. We don't underemphasize the Passion and Crucifixion, as you so rightly point out. In fact, I think we place even more emphasis on the Crucifixion than I've seen in most of my Protestant experiences. (I saw this just with many of the Facebook posts I saw from my virtual friends the last few days, posts where they spoke of the joy of Easter even on Good Friday, almost as if they saw the Passion and death of our Lord as merely a thing He needed to do to make his Resurrection possible. Our services, OTOH, showed an intent to enter into and meditate on the deep theological significance of the Passion as an event unto itself.) Neither do we underemphasize how the Crucifixion makes atonement for our sins--we simply don't agree with most Western models of how the Crucifixion makes atonement for our sins.
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« Reply #55 on: April 20, 2014, 09:51:37 PM »

I noticed this week how in all of those hours and hours of services over days and days, there was nothing about scapegoats and offended honor and all the rest of the Reformed emphasis on satisfaction.
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« Reply #56 on: April 23, 2014, 12:33:31 PM »

Romans 9:20-23 - 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?” 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? 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, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

Paul is clearly saying here "what if" double predestination is true, who are we to answer back to God? I don't believe double predestination is true or Paul here is saying it is but he's clearly showing there is a predestination and election in Chapter 9 and its really not our business to complain about it.
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« Reply #57 on: April 24, 2014, 04:37:06 AM »

Here's something I recently wrote on the subject:

"In Defense of The Cross" (An Orthodox View of Salvation)

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,57981.msg1112366.html#msg1112366


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« Reply #58 on: April 24, 2014, 04:54:47 AM »

Thank you. I have replied on that thread.
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« Reply #59 on: May 13, 2014, 11:20:50 AM »

  I've met a number of Calvinist converts to Orthodoxy (my old Orthodox church was full of them) - they all mostly seem to retain a Calvinist approach to theology despite practicing the Orthodox faith.   Finding some Church Father to use as a proof text and weigh that against some other point of view and decide which one is more important.  There is very little attempt to synthesize new understanding from different points of view.
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