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Author Topic: In Defense of The Cross (An Orthodox View of Salvation)  (Read 1362 times) Average Rating: 5
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: April 24, 2014, 04:35:19 AM »

 I recently read this statement by a prominent Reformed Presbyterian preacher:

“Jesus suffered the wrath of the Father only for the elect, not for all sinners.”

This is, of course, the common teaching of many evangelical Christians who espouse a “systematic theology” predicated upon the doctrinal innovations of John Calvin and the theological errors spawned by the Protestant Reformation. The theology behind this single statement is deeply flawed on many levels, but I will simply try to summarize the main heresies that are implicit within.

In my former Evangelical days, I too once embraced these erroneous ideas of “limited atonement” and “penal substitution.” But now I cringe when I encounter such gross distortions of the holy gospel and the life giving Cross. Thank God for the truth of apostolic Teaching that set me straight. You see, the apostles, the ones who actually walked with Christ and wrote the gospels and the epistles, well their theology is actually a bit more reliable than Martin Luther's, John Calvin's, or any other “Reformed” theologian’s.

Now, I want to be fair to my Reformed Protestant friends. I realize that their soteriological doctrines stem from a sincere desire to attribute all glory to God and none to themselves. But sometimes the noblest intentions lead to the worst mistakes. And rather than bringing glory to God and elevating the Cross, the theology of Calvinism perverts the divine nature and distorts the message of Calvary.

The wonderful truth is that Our Lord died for all people, not just some. (St. John 3:16) This is the clear Teaching of the apostolic Church. To assert that Christ died only for the elect is to assert that God pre-ordained some men to hell and some to heaven. That is blasphemy, for our loving God would never create human beings in His image and then condemn them to an everlasting hell against their wills. Such a god would be a monstrous god, and any theology that teaches that human beings are divinely destined to eternal torment is a dark and hopeless theology. In fact, it would be wrong to call it “theology” at all. God has nothing to do with such a fatalistic mortal philosophy.

All men bear the image of God, and therefore all men are worth redeeming - not because of our own meritorious righteousness, but because we are the very image of God. And God’s image is not “totally depraved.” God’s image is indelibly imprinted upon all human beings. To accurse the image of God as “worthless” and “utterly damnable” is to blasphemously malign His creation. St. Paul writes: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before appointed that we should walk in them.” [Ephesians 2:10] Do we suppose that St. Paul means that only some people are the workmanship of God, but others are not? Do we suppose that St. Paul contradicts the words of Moses who wrote: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” [Genesis 1:27]

God looked upon His image and saw our fallen state. He saw our sorrow, our sin, and our despair. He saw that mankind, who was created to love Him, was wandering in darkness and succumbing to evil. And God’s divine love compelled Him to become a man and suffer and die so that man would be compelled to come to Him. 

God created us with free will, and the volitional component of man has remained with us even after the fall. Our free will has certainly been affected by sin, but it has not been negated. The Bible contains hyperbole, and St. Paul’s expression "dead in our trespasses and sins” [Ephesians 2:1] is a hyperbolic statement to emphasize how much we need the grace and mercy of God to redeem us and give us new life through the Cross.

God loves all the world, all people, all of creation. God the Father is not separated from God the Son. To teach that the Son had to appease the wrath of the Father is heretical theology, for it pits God against Himself and does violence to the essential Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. No man can come to God apart from the grace of God, and yet every man must choose to accept God's saving grace by an act of their own volition. It's called a paradox, and the Christian Faith is full of such divine tensions. And I thank God for these holy antinomies, for they have liberated me from the narrow and suffocating confines of systematic heterodoxy. Our eternal God cannot be contained by mortal rationales, and He will not be reduced to human legalisms.

The Orthodox Church has retained the apostolic Faith for 2,000 years. I hate to argue with my dear Protestant brothers, but when it comes to heresies that undermine the nature of God and corrupt the glory of the Cross, then I am obligated to refute them with sound apostolic doctrine. It doesn't matter what I think or what any Protestant preacher thinks. In fact, it really doesn’t matter what any individual person thinks. “The Church is the foundation and pillar of truth” [I Timothy 3:15], and “no prophecy of scripture is a matter of any private interpretation.” [II Peter 1:20] So the only doctrine, teaching, or opinion that matters is the doctrine, teaching, and opinion of the apostolic Church – that Church which is the guardian and repository of “the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.” [Jude 3]

Divine truth is both convicting and comforting. And the good news of the Gospel is the greatest truth there is. But if God created human beings and destined them to hell against their wills, then the Gospel is not good news at all; in fact, it’s nothing more than a cruel joke created by a capricious deity. But the good news is that Christ has saved the entire world. (St. John 3:16) Whosoever will may come and partake of the joy of salvation. (Cf. Rev. 22:17) It is freely and abundantly offered to all. But God will not force His will on any man. We must accept His gift of free will and choose to follow Him or deny Him. And following Christ is not a single, momentary decision; salvation is a long and narrow road, and we must carry our own cross along the way. (Cf. St. Matthew 7:13-14) And yet, the Lord is our Shepherd, and He alone preserves, protects, and saves us.
   
Throughout the Bible we see the synergistic nature of salvation. God saved Noah, but Noah had to labor for years to build the Ark. God saved the Israelites from Pharaoh’s bondage, but the Israelites had to follow Moses on the arduous road of the exodus. Christ has saved us by His Cross, and yet we must take up our own cross and follow Him. (St. Luke 9:23) Those who are busy “working out their own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12) have no thought that they are “earning their way to heaven.” They are too preoccupied with clinging to Christ, repenting when they sin, pleading His unfailing mercy, and bathing in His unconditional love. Those who carry their cross are so busy struggling that they have no time to keep a record of their virtues. And those consumed with the love of Christ are not consumed with a record of their sins.

God loves mankind! This is a simple and glorious truth. He loves us so much that He became a man and suffered and died to redeem us. God forbid that we should denigrate the Cross and disparage the love of God by limiting His atonement and proclaiming that God the Father was at enmity with God the Son.

The Cross is eternally vertical and infinitely horizontal. The limits of sin, guilt, death and despair are vanquished in its limitless shadow. The atonement is the ultimate expression of divine love - and His love cannot be confined, contained, controlled, or limited.

Thank God! Thank God! Thank God for the Cross!

 
[If I have erred in anything I have stated here or in how I have stated it, I submit my words to the correction of Orthodox Teaching and Tradition.]

 
Selam,
Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2014, 04:52:59 AM »

Not wishing to dissent from your theology, I would point out that you are unintentionally misrepresenting our Calvinist brethren. They do not teach that God condemns sinners "against their wills", which your post states twice. No-one will be damned but in accord with his own will. If I understand Calvinists correctly, their teaching is that God's will and theirs run together (i.e. from the Latin, concur). No-one is saying, "I wish I would repent, be converted and pursue that holiness without which no man will see the Lord, but I cannot because God decided before I was born to damn me." They want to disobey the Gospel: their will agrees with God's. Such, I believe, is the teaching.

Would I not be right in believing its origin is usually ascribed, not to Calvin, but to Augustine of Hippo?
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2014, 04:56:28 AM »

This is very helpful to me currently, as I'm trying to make sense of the atonement without penal language.

But yes, Calvinist thought runs that no-one who rejects God does so against their will - their will is against God to begin with, so they 'freely' choose to reject Him. But of course they have been predestined to reject Him, so are in a double bind and without hope. Which is a truly horrible thought.
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2014, 05:23:38 AM »

atonement without penal language.

they 'freely' choose to reject Him. But of course they have been predestined to reject Him, so are in a double bind

Why jettison penal language? It is one way in which the scriptures speak of our Lord's atoning death.

I used to be a persuaded Calvinist, and it doesn't appear like you say from within the system. God's election before the world began is hidden; the person who is finally damned does, as you say, freely choose. He does not want to submit to Christ's lordship. As far as he is concerned, it is not even a "single bind" (if there be such a thing!), it is the only thing he wants. He can't really complain if God agreed with him.
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2014, 05:31:58 AM »

perhaps. But I have been using exclusively penal language and I don't think that's accurate. I am slowly learning that scripture teaches that God so loved the world, not God was so angry with the world, and it's a bit of a revelation.
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2014, 05:47:08 AM »

perhaps. But I have been using exclusively penal language and I don't think that's accurate. I am slowly learning that scripture teaches that God so loved the world, not God was so angry with the world, and it's a bit of a revelation.

Like yourgoodself, when I began preaching (in 1965) I represented the Cross almost exclusively in penal terms. Those terms were true; they are biblical. But also like yourgoodself, I am seeing two things: (1) we are probably given only analogies concerning what the Cross really achieved, drawn from our inadequate human language in order to give enough for our faith to take hold of; and (2) the Bible uses other analogies as well (ransom, debt, washing...). The truth of penal substitution, though not the whole truth, has sufficed to bring many people to faith who are now in Paradise with Christ. Do not discard it, but do of course explore other biblical analogies and understandings.

C S Lewis's phrase (if I can quote it correctly from memory) is one of the most helpful. When Aslan dies on the stone table and achieves Edmund's release, it is done in accordance with a "deeper magic from before the dawn of time". That, I think, is what the Cross really is: deeper magic from before time, which we cannot fully understand, but in which we can believe. As R W Dale put it, "The triumphs of the Christian faith are won - not by the symmetry and perfection of theological theories, but by the great facts of the gospel... The power of the great Sacrifice for the sins of the world lies in itself, and not in our explanations of it... Even when the doctrine of the Church has been most corrupt, the Death of Christ has continued to appeal to the hearts of men with unique and all but irresistible force." Our salvation hangs, not on our knowing how the Atonement worked, but in trusting it as our only God-given hope.
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2014, 06:37:45 AM »

A passage from my book: MYSTERY and MEANING: Christian Philosophy & Orthodox Meditations

WHAT is the EMPHASIS of the GOSPEL?
   
Some say, “Christ has paid my sin debt, and therefore I am no longer guilty.” Then they continue to live an unaltered, unmoved life, thinking that heaven awaits them when they die. Others say, “I must strive to know God through a life of contemplation and asceticism.” But at the end of their life they still do not know Him.
   
So, what is the proper emphasis of the Gospel? Is it forensic in essence, or mystical? Is the theme of the Gospel soteriological, i.e. the salvation of man, or is it doxological, i.e. the glory of God? Is the Gospel to be understood as God’s gracious condescension to fallen man, or fallen man’s inability to know a transcendent God?  
   
The Catholicism and Protestantism of the West have attempted to answer these questions via the rationalistic approaches of Scholasticism and various “systematic theologies.” Learned and sincere theologians have endeavored to reduce the deep mysteries of God and the rich treasures of the Holy Gospel to a system of mortal logic that will make them comprehensible to the finite mind. But God cannot be known by any system of mortal philosophy; and the beautiful truths of the Gospel cannot be adequately encapsulated in a logical syllogism.
   
Therefore, Orthodoxy simply affirms what the Scriptures say, and does not stumble over apparent contradiction or paradox. The truths and reality of God transcend contradiction and paradox, and thus we prostrate our own fallible understanding before His holy Mysteries. We accept that God is unknowable, and yet by grace we experience Him. We affirm that Christ has paid our sin debt, and yet we recognize that the meaning of the Cross is too vast to be summed up by the analogies of mortal jurisprudence. As Orthodox Christians, we proclaim the Nicene Creed as the summation of the Gospel, knowing that mystical depth is found in its brevity and concision. Our Creeds are not a comprehensive dissection of divine truth, but a sufficient description.
   
The Holy Gospel is the mystical message of redemption, grace, mercy, judgment, hope, sacrifice, salvation, peace, love, atonement, forgiveness, reconciliation, oneness, repentance, justice, deliverance, life, heaven and hell. This holy message has been entrusted to the Church, which proclaims its truth to the world and reveals its Mysteries to the faithful. We adore the Holy Gospel as the light for our souls, but we dare not claim to grasp its depth with our finite minds. We immerse ourselves in the ocean of the Divine, allowing the Spirit of His waves to draw us to His knowledge and nearness.


http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000365536/MYSTERY-and-MEANING.aspx



Selam
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2014, 08:56:17 AM »

Just wanted to say how much I appreciate this thread and the thoughts within it.

I did come from a teaching of a God that simply selected souls to burn forever, and while it may not have been the church's theology, there were enough individuals who would say one's will did not matter that I thought it was so. The very thought was so at odds with a "loving God" that the Scripture also seemed to teach that this was one of the main reasons I started to look for other answers. I am thankful that I quickly bumped into the Orthodox Church instead of finding any other path.

Because of this, atonement has been a primary question in my mind. I never knew there were other theories. I at first immediately rejected penal substitution, attempted to select a replacement. I found Christus Victor to seem the best. However, something still made me vaguely uncomfortable. What I have since decided is that God is capable of doing many things at once, while we attempt to understand the atonement by limiting Him within our theories. It seems to me that all (or most) of our theories can have varying levels of merit, and God is capable of accomplishing many things through the wondrous Cross, all at the same time.

I have not found Orthodox teaching that disagrees with this, and would appreciate correction if I am wrong. But this is currently how I am thinking.
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2014, 11:13:06 AM »

Anna, I can't obviously answer that, but your thinking is very much where I have been leaning. I have a tendency to try and quantify God, and systematic theology feeds into that. I think I need to to consciously not do that.
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2014, 11:33:54 AM »

Anna, I can't obviously answer that, but your thinking is very much where I have been leaning. I have a tendency to try and quantify God, and systematic theology feeds into that. I think I need to to consciously not do that.

That is another lesson of the Orthodox church that I have struggled a bit to embrace. Wink

I was at first concerned that the Orthodox church would not "suit" me, because I have far too much of a tendency to want to dissect, examine, find answers, and rest in them (science background). It is a very "western mindset" I am told, and Orthodoxy has an "eastern mindset".

When I first encountered Orthodox Christians, and would ask questions, a few kind souls would explain things to me, but others would give very cryptic one-line answers, reply with a question, or simply answer something like we don't know/why would you want to know/it doesn't matter. It was maddening, LOL.

Over the months I have begun to learn to relax. It's true, certain things we don't and can't know. After all, we're talking about comprehending God Himself, with a limited human understanding. And some things we simply have not been told, and it's presumptuous (and potentially dangerous) of us to try to fill in the blanks with our own imaginings. I also developed the understanding that we are not saved by "correct theology" - thank God!

However, correct theology does help us to know God in our limited ability, and so is very valuable. But then again, so is experience of God, and that at least I can also relate to. I'm still thankful that I stumbled across a few monastic books very early in my walk when I was devouring every written word about faith I could find.

I do understand the struggle. I am actually surprised at myself how quickly I am learning to accept a different way of thinking, though I am far from perfect in practicing it. But being immersed within the Church in various ways helps.

Now I find new people coming in and asking questions (that I myself asked some months back) and my mental response is to almost not comprehend the question at first, because of the thought process behind it being something almost foreign to the way I am beginning to think.

I finally am beginning to understand why people would sometimes respond to me in the way that they did.

It's a process. Smiley
« Last Edit: April 24, 2014, 11:37:14 AM by Anna.T » Logged

Christ is in our midst!

My replies should not be taken as representing Orthodox teaching - I am only just learning myself.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2014, 07:15:15 PM »

To assert that Christ died only for the elect is to assert that God pre-ordained some men to hell and some to heaven.
That is blasphemy, for our loving God would never create human beings in His image
and then condemn them to an everlasting hell against their wills.

I got as far as here, and had to clear up this point with you before continuing.
[Aaaah, I just realized that this could take many many years.]

What do you say to the many NT passages which describe unregenerate man as:
born with an inherited sin nature
spiritually dead in his sins
a captive to the law of sin and death
a slave to sin, forced to obey evil
an enemy of God, hostile to God, opposed to God
spiritually blind and deaf
unable to understand the things of God (they are foolishness)
seeing the gospel as utter foolishness
unable to believe the truth of the gospel because it is veiled
blinded by Satan
controlled (ruled) by Satan
deceived by Satan
a captive of Satan unto death
unable to be righteous by doing good works
unable to be saved by his own desire or works
able to be saved only by the grace and mercy of God

Is such a person really capable of responding to the calling of the Holy Spirit?
Or is it necessary for God to do more for him/her than just call?

A grand example of God choosing to create certain people,
and then send them to hell is: God's chosen people vs. their enemies.

Thank you for your kind attention.
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Christians must confess and repent of their sins in order to maintain their righteousness before God.
Throughout the entire Bible: sinners are unrighteous, obedient believers are righteous!
Christians must endure in the faith until they die to receive eternal life (no OSAS)!
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2014, 07:24:19 PM »

Osterloh, you might want to read about the Fall.
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2014, 07:40:14 PM »

Osterloh, you might want to read about the Fall.

My understanding of the entire Scripture is ...
Both God and man have their part to play in man's salvation.
God's election ...and... man's free will to remain righteous or not.
Of course, he/she has a new nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit to help.
Much more able to succeed (probably the main reason for the new covenant).

But, what do we do with Romans 8:28-30? The called go all the way.
Several John verses say only those given to Jesus by the Father come to Him.
And Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, I chose you!"
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 07:55:55 PM by Osterloh » Logged

Christians must confess and repent of their sins in order to maintain their righteousness before God.
Throughout the entire Bible: sinners are unrighteous, obedient believers are righteous!
Christians must endure in the faith until they die to receive eternal life (no OSAS)!
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2014, 03:14:22 AM »

...condemn them to an everlasting hell against their wills.

I am not here to defend Calvinism, but to urge honesty. No Calvinist teaches that people go to hell "against their wills". They believe that the non-elect spend their lives quite happy to live without repentance and faith, and with their sin. None is saying, "I earnestly wish I could repent, be cleansed, be made into a new creation, and make Christ my Lord, but alas! I find I am not among the elect."  By all means disagree with Calvinism, but be careful not to make yourself disagree with something that no-one is saying anyway.
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2014, 03:41:25 AM »

...condemn them to an everlasting hell against their wills.

I am not here to defend Calvinism, but to urge honesty. No Calvinist teaches that people go to hell "against their wills". They believe that the non-elect spend their lives quite happy to live without repentance and faith, and with their sin. None is saying, "I earnestly wish I could repent, be cleansed, be made into a new creation, and make Christ my Lord, but alas! I find I am not among the elect."  By all means disagree with Calvinism, but be careful not to make yourself disagree with something that no-one is saying anyway.



I agree with you. However, there is really no way around the fact that the logical implication of predestination is double predestination. The Orthodox teaching is that man's free will and God's foreknowledge of who will be saved  are quite compatible. Here is a good article on the Orthodox view of predestination:

 http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/predestination.aspx


Selam
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« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2014, 03:50:02 AM »

To assert that Christ died only for the elect is to assert that God pre-ordained some men to hell and some to heaven.
That is blasphemy, for our loving God would never create human beings in His image
and then condemn them to an everlasting hell against their wills.

I got as far as here, and had to clear up this point with you before continuing.
[Aaaah, I just realized that this could take many many years.]

What do you say to the many NT passages which describe unregenerate man as:
born with an inherited sin nature
spiritually dead in his sins
a captive to the law of sin and death
a slave to sin, forced to obey evil
an enemy of God, hostile to God, opposed to God
spiritually blind and deaf
unable to understand the things of God (they are foolishness)
seeing the gospel as utter foolishness
unable to believe the truth of the gospel because it is veiled
blinded by Satan
controlled (ruled) by Satan
deceived by Satan
a captive of Satan unto death
unable to be righteous by doing good works
unable to be saved by his own desire or works
able to be saved only by the grace and mercy of God

Is such a person really capable of responding to the calling of the Holy Spirit?
Or is it necessary for God to do more for him/her than just call?

A grand example of God choosing to create certain people,
and then send them to hell is: God's chosen people vs. their enemies.

Thank you for your kind attention.



The Bible contains hyperbole, such as many of the statements you mentioned above. The Orthodox teaching is that sin and the fall have not negated man's free will, as Luther and Calvin erroneously taught. Our free will has been affected by the fall, but all human beings retain the volitional ability to choose good or evil, God or sin. But apart from the redemption of the Cross, man will never be able to draw near to salvation on his own. So in that sense, we are spiritually "dead" until Christ redeems us. But we are not literally dead, without any ability to choose or act on our own. And God's mercy and love extend unconditionally to all, which is why it's blasphemous to assert that He predestined some people for damnation against their wills.


Selam
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« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2014, 04:09:31 AM »

The Bible contains hyperbole, such as many of the statements you mentioned above. The Orthodox teaching is that sin and the fall have not negated man's free will, as Luther and Calvin erroneously taught. Our free will has been affected by the fall, but all human beings retain the volitional ability to choose good or evil, God or sin. But apart from the redemption of the Cross, man will never be able to draw near to salvation on his own.

I think any Arminian Evangelical, such as Wesleyans, would agree with this.

Quote
So in that sense, we are spiritually "dead" until Christ redeems us. But we are not literally dead, without any ability to choose or act on our own.

I don't think they would go along with this. We interpret dead (or spiritually dead) in such passages as meaning separated from God: that is spiritual death. The unconverted person is indeed dead in trespasses and sins, and needs a second birth: ye must be born again.
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« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2014, 04:26:18 AM »

The Bible contains hyperbole, such as many of the statements you mentioned above. The Orthodox teaching is that sin and the fall have not negated man's free will, as Luther and Calvin erroneously taught. Our free will has been affected by the fall, but all human beings retain the volitional ability to choose good or evil, God or sin. But apart from the redemption of the Cross, man will never be able to draw near to salvation on his own.

I think any Arminian Evangelical, such as Wesleyans, would agree with this.

Quote
So in that sense, we are spiritually "dead" until Christ redeems us. But we are not literally dead, without any ability to choose or act on our own.

I don't think they would go along with this. We interpret dead (or spiritually dead) in such passages as meaning separated from God: that is spiritual death. The unconverted person is indeed dead in trespasses and sins, and needs a second birth: ye must be born again.

Of course we must be born again. But how do you think that happens?


Selam
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« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2014, 04:36:21 AM »

Of course we must be born again. But how do you think that happens?


Selam

It is a work of the Holy Spirit; it is received by faith. A Calvinist believes the work of God is irresistible and all the elect will be infallibly saved; an Arminian believes it can be resisted. However, let it rest at this: that the Spirit of God draws us to Christ, and we respond in faith.
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« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2014, 06:01:29 AM »

Of course we must be born again. But how do you think that happens?


Selam

It is a work of the Holy Spirit; it is received by faith. A Calvinist believes the work of God is irresistible and all the elect will be infallibly saved; an Arminian believes it can be resisted. However, let it rest at this: that the Spirit of God draws us to Christ, and we respond in faith.

But someone who is literally dead is unable to respond.


Selam
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« Reply #20 on: July 24, 2014, 09:38:12 AM »

Gebre Menfes Kidus posted:
...condemn them to an everlasting hell against their wills.

I am not here to defend Calvinism, but to urge honesty. No Calvinist teaches that people go to hell "against their wills". They believe that the non-elect spend their lives quite happy to live without repentance and faith, and with their sin. None is saying, "I earnestly wish I could repent, be cleansed, be made into a new creation, and make Christ my Lord, but alas! I find I am not among the elect."  By all means disagree with Calvinism, but be careful not to make yourself disagree with something that no one is saying anyway.

I do know of two who did try (quite hard) to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but alas could not.
One was my nephew in Ontario, another was a waitress in London, UK.
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« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2014, 09:48:04 AM »

The Bible contains hyperbole, such as many of the statements you mentioned above.
The Orthodox teaching is that sin and the fall have not negated man's free will, as Luther and Calvin erroneously taught. Our free will has been affected by the fall, but all human beings retain the volitional ability to choose good or evil, God or sin. But apart from the redemption of the Cross, man will never be able to draw near to salvation on his own. So in that sense, we are spiritually "dead" until Christ redeems us. But we are not literally dead, without any ability to choose or act on our own. And God's mercy and love extend unconditionally to all, which is why it's blasphemous to assert that He predestined some people for damnation against their wills.

Your bold is absolutely true ... nothing has negated man's free will.
But Scripture clearly indicates that his free will has been completely blinded in this area.
Just like many Christians have been deceived and blinded into believing in OSAS.
Man's free will remains, but he is so "bound" in some areas that he just cannot exercise it.
Not technically, but in reality ... and sorry, but I'm into reality.
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« Reply #22 on: July 24, 2014, 09:54:04 AM »

We interpret dead (or spiritually dead) in such passages as meaning separated from God: that is spiritual death.
The unconverted person is indeed dead in trespasses and sins, and needs a second birth: ye must be born again.

Yes, IMO, this is what Scripture teaches.
Those who are "spiritually dead" are separated from God, and just cannot understand spiritual things.
Because spiritual Truth comes only through spiritual revelation from God.
They are deceived, bound, and are "spiritual idiots" (my term).
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« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2014, 09:58:56 AM »

Of course we must be born again. But how do you think that happens?

It is a work of the Holy Spirit; it is received by faith.
A Calvinist believes the work of God is irresistible and all the elect will be infallibly saved;
an Arminian believes it can be resisted.
However, let it rest at this: that the Spirit of God draws us to Christ, and we respond in faith.

Yes, but the whole question is: Where does this saving faith come from?
Does it come from God, or from man via his free will choices?

Does man say: "I sense God calling me to believe the gospel, and I choose to believe it."?
If this is the case, we have a mutual understanding/agreement here.

IMO, God provides the faith so it is possible for man to overcome his total blindness ... and believe!
In this deplorable situation/condition of spiritual blindness, man's free will is useless.
(Man's inherited sin nature is merely one of the causes of his spiritual blindness
... for all of them, please see post #10)
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« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2014, 10:13:51 AM »

The Bible contains hyperbole, such as many of the statements you mentioned above.
The Orthodox teaching is that sin and the fall have not negated man's free will, as Luther and Calvin erroneously taught. Our free will has been affected by the fall, but all human beings retain the volitional ability to choose good or evil, God or sin. But apart from the redemption of the Cross, man will never be able to draw near to salvation on his own. So in that sense, we are spiritually "dead" until Christ redeems us. But we are not literally dead, without any ability to choose or act on our own. And God's mercy and love extend unconditionally to all, which is why it's blasphemous to assert that He predestined some people for damnation against their wills.

Your bold is absolutely true ... nothing has negated man's free will.
But Scripture clearly indicates that his free will has been completely blinded in this area.
Just like many Christians have been deceived and blinded into believing in OSAS.
Man's free will remains, but he is so "bound" in some areas that he just cannot exercise it.
Not technically, but in reality ... and sorry, but I'm into reality.

You seem to be contradicting yourself here.

The Orthodox position is that the fall has affected man's free will, not negated it. The reality is that we must choose to receive Christ or choose to deny Him. And this choice is a perpetual choice, a daily choice, and moment by moment choice. He offers Himself freely to all - equally and unconditionally. Those who accept His offer of salvation and avail themselves of the sacramental graces will be granted strength and power to fight sin and evil. His grace will assist us, but His grace will not force us.

The reality is that God's love is omnipresent. And the reality is that man alone must choose to receive it or reject it. The love of the father of the prodigal son never waned. But the prodigal son had to choose to return and receive the love that was always offered to him unconditionally. The father did not force him, did not compel him. But the father's love was so true that the prodigal son had the faith that he could arise and run to receive it.


Selam
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« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2014, 10:21:38 AM »


But someone who is literally dead is unable to respond.

Selam

You do have a tendency to go to the heart of things, my friend! Yes, what you say is true, but the phrase dead (in sin) is surely a metaphor taken from physical life to elucidate a spiritual situation. I don't think it is wise to push metaphors too far, as if every detail has a referent, like an allegory. It is because of the logical conclusion you draw from the word "dead" that Calvinists (logicians par excellence) teach that the whole work must be of God, with no contribution from man: he cannot believe until after he is unilaterally born again by the irresistible action of God's Spirit. Maybe it is so, but I fear we may be attempting to peer into things which God has not revealed. As it is somewhere written, the secret things belong to God. What is revealed is that we are born of the Spirit, and the new life is received by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
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« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2014, 10:55:08 AM »

The Bible contains hyperbole, such as many of the statements you mentioned above.
The Orthodox teaching is that sin and the fall have not negated man's free will, as Luther and Calvin erroneously taught. Our free will has been affected by the fall, but all human beings retain the volitional ability to choose good or evil, God or sin. But apart from the redemption of the Cross, man will never be able to draw near to salvation on his own. So in that sense, we are spiritually "dead" until Christ redeems us. But we are not literally dead, without any ability to choose or act on our own. And God's mercy and love extend unconditionally to all, which is why it's blasphemous to assert that He predestined some people for damnation against their wills.

Your bold is absolutely true ... nothing has negated man's free will.
But Scripture clearly indicates that his free will has been completely blinded in this area.
Just like many Christians have been deceived and blinded into believing in OSAS.
Man's free will remains, but he is so "bound" in some areas that he just cannot exercise it.
Not technically, but in reality ... and sorry, but I'm into reality.

You seem to be contradicting yourself here.
The Orthodox position is that the fall has affected man's free will, not negated it. The reality is that we must choose to receive Christ or choose to deny Him. And this choice is a perpetual choice, a daily choice, and moment by moment choice. He offers Himself freely to all - equally and unconditionally. Those who accept His offer of salvation and avail themselves of the sacramental graces will be granted strength and power to fight sin and evil. His grace will assist us, but His grace will not force us.
The reality is that God's love is omnipresent. And the reality is that man alone must choose to receive it or reject it. The love of the father of the prodigal son never waned. But the prodigal son had to choose to return and receive the love that was always offered to him unconditionally. The father did not force him, did not compel him. But the father's love was so true that the prodigal son had the faith that he could arise and run to receive it. Selam

Again, I agree with your bold ... man's free will in this one area has been "affected" (blocked).
Scripture clearly indicates that man's free will has been completely blinded in this area of choosing God's Plan,
i.e. the gospel.
Cannot one have eyes, ears, legs, etc. but be blind, deaf, paralyzed, etc.?

P.S. I'm guessing you are Turkish and an ex-Muslim. Selam
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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2014, 11:34:43 AM »


But someone who is literally dead is unable to respond.

Selam

You do have a tendency to go to the heart of things, my friend! Yes, what you say is true, but the phrase dead (in sin) is surely a metaphor taken from physical life to elucidate a spiritual situation. I don't think it is wise to push metaphors too far, as if every detail has a referent, like an allegory. It is because of the logical conclusion you draw from the word "dead" that Calvinists (logicians par excellence) teach that the whole work must be of God, with no contribution from man: he cannot believe until after he is unilaterally born again by the irresistible action of God's Spirit. Maybe it is so, but I fear we may be attempting to peer into things which God has not revealed. As it is somewhere written, the secret things belong to God. What is revealed is that we are born of the Spirit, and the new life is received by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I think I can agree with you here. Especially the bold part that I have highlighted above. This is the point I was making earlier to another poster, which is that the biblical authors use hyperbole in many places. And as you say, we can't press the analogies too far. Orthodoxy leaves room for divine paradox. We affirm predestination, because the scripture teaches it. But we don't make predestination into a doctrine that nullifies other divine doctrines such as free will and the unconditional love of God for all.

Here is a very good article that I linked earlier that explains the Orthodox interpretation of predestination.

 http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/predestination.aspx


Selam
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« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2014, 11:38:58 AM »

The Bible contains hyperbole, such as many of the statements you mentioned above.
The Orthodox teaching is that sin and the fall have not negated man's free will, as Luther and Calvin erroneously taught. Our free will has been affected by the fall, but all human beings retain the volitional ability to choose good or evil, God or sin. But apart from the redemption of the Cross, man will never be able to draw near to salvation on his own. So in that sense, we are spiritually "dead" until Christ redeems us. But we are not literally dead, without any ability to choose or act on our own. And God's mercy and love extend unconditionally to all, which is why it's blasphemous to assert that He predestined some people for damnation against their wills.

Your bold is absolutely true ... nothing has negated man's free will.
But Scripture clearly indicates that his free will has been completely blinded in this area.
Just like many Christians have been deceived and blinded into believing in OSAS.
Man's free will remains, but he is so "bound" in some areas that he just cannot exercise it.
Not technically, but in reality ... and sorry, but I'm into reality.

You seem to be contradicting yourself here.
The Orthodox position is that the fall has affected man's free will, not negated it. The reality is that we must choose to receive Christ or choose to deny Him. And this choice is a perpetual choice, a daily choice, and moment by moment choice. He offers Himself freely to all - equally and unconditionally. Those who accept His offer of salvation and avail themselves of the sacramental graces will be granted strength and power to fight sin and evil. His grace will assist us, but His grace will not force us.
The reality is that God's love is omnipresent. And the reality is that man alone must choose to receive it or reject it. The love of the father of the prodigal son never waned. But the prodigal son had to choose to return and receive the love that was always offered to him unconditionally. The father did not force him, did not compel him. But the father's love was so true that the prodigal son had the faith that he could arise and run to receive it. Selam

Again, I agree with your bold ... man's free will in this one area has been "affected" (blocked).
Scripture clearly indicates that man's free will has been completely blinded in this area of choosing God's Plan,
i.e. the gospel.
Cannot one have eyes, ears, legs, etc. but be blind, deaf, paralyzed, etc.?

P.S. I'm guessing you are Turkish and an ex-Muslim. Selam

Well, there is a significant difference between "affected" and "blocked."

And no, I am neither Turkish nor an ex-Muslim. I am a former evangelical who was baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in 2008. "Selam" is Amharic (the native language of Ethiopia) for "peace." It is used as a greeting and a salutation.  Smiley

(Oh, now I see that you must have derived the Turkish part from my signature. That's something I read in Dostoevsky's "Diary of a Writer." He quoted this and referenced it as a "Turkish Proverb.")  Smiley


Selam
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« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2014, 11:43:44 AM »

The Bible contains hyperbole, such as many of the statements you mentioned above.
The Orthodox teaching is that sin and the fall have not negated man's free will, as Luther and Calvin erroneously taught. Our free will has been affected by the fall, but all human beings retain the volitional ability to choose good or evil, God or sin. But apart from the redemption of the Cross, man will never be able to draw near to salvation on his own. So in that sense, we are spiritually "dead" until Christ redeems us. But we are not literally dead, without any ability to choose or act on our own. And God's mercy and love extend unconditionally to all, which is why it's blasphemous to assert that He predestined some people for damnation against their wills.

Your bold is absolutely true ... nothing has negated man's free will.
But Scripture clearly indicates that his free will has been completely blinded in this area.
Just like many Christians have been deceived and blinded into believing in OSAS.
Man's free will remains, but he is so "bound" in some areas that he just cannot exercise it.
Not technically, but in reality ... and sorry, but I'm into reality.

You seem to be contradicting yourself here.
The Orthodox position is that the fall has affected man's free will, not negated it. The reality is that we must choose to receive Christ or choose to deny Him. And this choice is a perpetual choice, a daily choice, and moment by moment choice. He offers Himself freely to all - equally and unconditionally. Those who accept His offer of salvation and avail themselves of the sacramental graces will be granted strength and power to fight sin and evil. His grace will assist us, but His grace will not force us.
The reality is that God's love is omnipresent. And the reality is that man alone must choose to receive it or reject it. The love of the father of the prodigal son never waned. But the prodigal son had to choose to return and receive the love that was always offered to him unconditionally. The father did not force him, did not compel him. But the father's love was so true that the prodigal son had the faith that he could arise and run to receive it. Selam

Again, I agree with your bold ... man's free will in this one area has been "affected" (blocked).
Scripture clearly indicates that man's free will has been completely blinded in this area of choosing God's Plan,
i.e. the gospel.
Cannot one have eyes, ears, legs, etc. but be blind, deaf, paralyzed, etc.?

P.S. I'm guessing you are Turkish and an ex-Muslim. Selam

If Sacred Scripture actually teaches that humanity's Free Will has been completely blinded in the sense that it cannot Respond in anyway to God's calling and His Plan then this would mean that God intervenes to allow the individual to Respond hereby obstructing the individual's Free Will as the individual never opted to Choose to be Saved in the first place. This begs the question as to why such an All Loving and All Merciful God would not bother to intervene and Save all souls and instead opt for playing pick and choose? God is after all All Powerful and is fully capable of intervening within the Souls of each and every single individual to be directed towards Salvation. The "Omnipotence" label is not given to God for nothing. This would mean that God is either "Biased" or simply doesn't have the capability to do so(assuming God isn't omnipotent).

If God is "Biased", this would mean that while He could Save all Souls, He willingly chose for some to be eternally Damned whilst knowing full well that He can actually Save them. This negates the All Loving label of God as God selectively "Loves" some of His Creation instead of All of it that is All of Humanity. This renders God as being intentionally Unloving towards some individuals which is not being All Loving since there are already entities which He withheld His Love from. All Loving would mean that God would Love and not withheld His Love from any human being, He must Love them All and Save them All.

If God isn't capable of Saving all Souls then God isn't Omnipotent, which means that God is no longer God since to be "God", He must be Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. However though if God didn't choose to Save all Souls and instead chose to selectively Save some, then the only logical explanation which maintains God's Goodness and All Lovingness is the fact that God isn't capable of Saving each and every individual which means God isn't God as remember, by definition, God is Omnipotent and being incapable of Saving All Souls would result in the opposite of omnipotence.

Only if we admit that Humanity still retains Free Will and is able to respond to God's Call and Plan can Christian Doctrine make more sense. This must also mean that humanity's Free Will is to be respected by God as we would be able to make choices and decisions in all areas that require a choice to be made. This includes matters of Salvation as well. Sacred Scriptures make clear that humanity still retains Free Will to respond to God's call even after the Fall here's an example,

Joshua 24:14-15
14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.(Authorized KJV)

Here, Joshua gives the Israelites a choice to pick between Serving God or the false gods. After all, Joshua is urging the Israelites to serve the True God but then afterwards stated that if it "Seems evil" to them, then they might as well either worship the false gods which their fathers served or the gods of the Amorites and even makes it clear that he is letting them choose by using the phrase "if it seem", indicating a possibility that they might have this thought and view and they can possibly have it at the present moment. Of course, from Verse 16, we see the Israelites choosing the True God instead which henceforth provides an explicit example of humanity's Free Will being able to choose God and not being completely depraved as if this is the case, they wouldn't be able to choose God over the false gods in this situation. Sacred Scriptures though says so otherwise.
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« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2014, 12:47:22 PM »

Here is a very good article that I linked earlier that explains the Orthodox interpretation of predestination.

 http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/predestination.aspx

Selam

Yes - a good article.
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« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2014, 02:31:37 PM »

Well, there is a significant difference between "affected" and "blocked." Selam

To what degree of "affected" do we wish to carry this?
How about "affected" to the point of spiritual blindness, for that is what it is?

In the OT, God told the Israelites that he would NOT HEAL them of their spiritual blindness,
but instead He said He would disperse them to the 4 corners of the earth, and He did.

Selam is a Muslim greeting, no?
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« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2014, 02:43:33 PM »

If Sacred Scripture actually teaches that humanity's Free Will has been completely blinded in the sense that it cannot Respond in anyway to God's calling and His Plan then this would mean that God intervenes to allow the individual to Respond hereby obstructing the individual's Free Will as the individual never opted to Choose to be Saved in the first place. This begs the question as to why such an All Loving and All Merciful God would not bother to intervene and Save all souls and instead opt for playing pick and choose? God is after all All Powerful and is fully capable of intervening within the Souls of each and every single individual to be directed towards Salvation. The "Omnipotence" label is not given to God for nothing. This would mean that God is either "Biased" or simply doesn't have the capability to do so(assuming God isn't omnipotent).

Okay, I'll stop here and ask you to explain what part 3 is all about.
IMO, God has His reasons for who He chooses!
Is it man's free will that determines if he has a contrite, humble, repentant, etc. spirit?
If God creates him that way, then we can forget part 3.

God is everywhere ... He knows and sees everything (past, present, future)
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
“I make known the end from the beginning … and what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:10)
“I am … the Beginning and the End, says the Lord” (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13)
More: Job 37:16, (Psalm 90:4, 147:5), Proverbs 15:3, Acts 15:18, 1 John 3:20
This is the key to everything: God has seen all of man’s history, his free-will choices, etc.

God knows peoples’ hearts, thoughts, motives, etc.
“… the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9).
“I am the One who searches the hearts and minds of people” (Revelation 2:23)
More: 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Kings 8:39, Psalm 44:21, Proverbs 20:27, Jeremiah 17:10, Jeremiah 20:12

God knows the type of people He wants to spend eternity with
“I dwell in the high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15)
More: 2 Samuel 22:28, (Psalm 34:18, 149:4), Proverbs 3:34, Zephaniah 3:12, James 4:6

A repentant heart towards God is absolutely necessary:
“… unless you repent you will all likewise perish (physically & spiritually) (Luke 13:3, 5)
Truly, the poor (in various ways) are the most likely to have the right heart attitude:
“He (Father God) has anointed Me (Jesus) to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18)
“Has God not chosen the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?” (James 2:5)
More: (Isaiah 61:1, 66:2), Luke 7:22, Matthew 11:5
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« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2014, 03:25:09 PM »

Well, there is a significant difference between "affected" and "blocked." Selam

To what degree of "affected" do we wish to carry this?
How about "affected" to the point of spiritual blindness, for that is what it is?

In the OT, God told the Israelites that he would NOT HEAL them of their spiritual blindness,
but instead He said He would disperse them to the 4 corners of the earth, and He did.

Selam is a Muslim greeting, no?


Adam and Eve had free will before they sinned. And they had free will after they sinned. But after they sinned, the fall affected the volitional capacity of man because sin and temptation entered the world and made it more difficult for people to choose good over evil. But the free will of man has not been eradicated, negated, or totally blocked or blinded.

And as I explained previously, I am a baptized member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. "Selam" is an Amharic word which means "peace." It is used as a greeting and as a salutation or blessing. I am not Muslim.


Selam
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« Reply #34 on: July 24, 2014, 05:08:00 PM »

Adam and Eve had free will before they sinned. And they had free will after they sinned. But after they sinned, the fall affected the volitional capacity of man because sin and temptation entered the world and made it more difficult for people to choose good over evil. But the free will of man has not been eradicated, negated, or totally blocked or blinded.

Sorry, but I reject your reasoning (in posts above) re: the following
Scriptural explanations of man's inability

born with an inherited sin nature … many verses
spiritually dead in his sins … Ephesians 2:1-5, Colossians 2:13
a captive to the law of sin and death … Romans 8:2
a slave to sin, forced to obey evil … John 8:34, Romans 6:17-21, Titus 3:3
an enemy of God, hostile to God, opposed to God … Romans 8:7

spiritually blind and deaf … Matthew 13:13-15, John 9:39, John 12:39-40, Ephesians 4:18
unable to understand the things of God (they are foolishness) … 1 Corinthians 2:14
seeing the gospel as utter foolishness … 1 Corinthians 1:18
unable to believe the truth of the gospel because it is veiled … 2 Corinthians 4:3

blinded by Satan … Acts 26:18, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
controlled (ruled) by Satan … John 12:31, 1 John 5:19, Acts 26:18, 2 Cor 10:4-5, Ephesians 2:2
deceived by Satan … Revelation 12:9, John 8:44, 2 Corinthians 11:14
a captive of Satan unto death … Hebrews 2:14-15, Luke 4:18

unable to be righteous by doing good works … Isaiah 64:6, Galatians 2:16, Titus 3:5
unable to be saved by his own desire or works … Romans 9:16, Ephesians 2:8-9
able to be saved only by the grace and mercy of God … Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7
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« Reply #35 on: July 24, 2014, 05:51:43 PM »

Adam and Eve had free will before they sinned. And they had free will after they sinned. But after they sinned, the fall affected the volitional capacity of man because sin and temptation entered the world and made it more difficult for people to choose good over evil. But the free will of man has not been eradicated, negated, or totally blocked or blinded.

Sorry, but I reject your reasoning (in posts above) re: the following
Scriptural explanations of man's inability

born with an inherited sin nature … many verses
spiritually dead in his sins … Ephesians 2:1-5, Colossians 2:13
a captive to the law of sin and death … Romans 8:2
a slave to sin, forced to obey evil … John 8:34, Romans 6:17-21, Titus 3:3
an enemy of God, hostile to God, opposed to God … Romans 8:7

spiritually blind and deaf … Matthew 13:13-15, John 9:39, John 12:39-40, Ephesians 4:18
unable to understand the things of God (they are foolishness) … 1 Corinthians 2:14
seeing the gospel as utter foolishness … 1 Corinthians 1:18
unable to believe the truth of the gospel because it is veiled … 2 Corinthians 4:3

blinded by Satan … Acts 26:18, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
controlled (ruled) by Satan … John 12:31, 1 John 5:19, Acts 26:18, 2 Cor 10:4-5, Ephesians 2:2
deceived by Satan … Revelation 12:9, John 8:44, 2 Corinthians 11:14
a captive of Satan unto death … Hebrews 2:14-15, Luke 4:18

unable to be righteous by doing good works … Isaiah 64:6, Galatians 2:16, Titus 3:5
unable to be saved by his own desire or works … Romans 9:16, Ephesians 2:8-9
able to be saved only by the grace and mercy of God … Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7


It's not my reasoning. It's the reasoning of the Church. (Unless I am mistaken. I welcome the correction of Orthodox clergy and my fellow Orthodox brethren on this matter.) You can proof text the entire Bible for all I care, but that won't "prove" anything. It's not your interpretation or my interpretation that matters, it's how the Church interprets scripture and defines doctrine that settles the issue.


Selam
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« Reply #36 on: July 24, 2014, 06:36:58 PM »

It's not my reasoning. It's the reasoning of the Church.
(Unless I am mistaken. I welcome the correction of Orthodox clergy and my fellow Orthodox brethren
on this matter.) You can proof text the entire Bible for all I care, but that won't "prove" anything.
It's not your interpretation or my interpretation that matters,
it's how the Church interprets scripture and defines doctrine that settles the issue.

Yes, and that's okay for some, if that is where they choose to place their trust.
Me, I choose to trust the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit as He reveals spiritual Truth.
Every year, I am learning more. Praise the Lord.
And I am here to compare notes, as it were.

Meanwhile, I am studying Bishop Minatios's "On Predestination".
Much of this I agree with, as you no doubt have noted in my posts,
but I think I will be coming up with a couple of challenges (re: Scripture).
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« Reply #37 on: July 24, 2014, 10:29:01 PM »

If Sacred Scripture actually teaches that humanity's Free Will has been completely blinded in the sense that it cannot Respond in anyway to God's calling and His Plan then this would mean that God intervenes to allow the individual to Respond hereby obstructing the individual's Free Will as the individual never opted to Choose to be Saved in the first place. This begs the question as to why such an All Loving and All Merciful God would not bother to intervene and Save all souls and instead opt for playing pick and choose? God is after all All Powerful and is fully capable of intervening within the Souls of each and every single individual to be directed towards Salvation. The "Omnipotence" label is not given to God for nothing. This would mean that God is either "Biased" or simply doesn't have the capability to do so(assuming God isn't omnipotent).

Okay, I'll stop here and ask you to explain what part 3 is all about.
IMO, God has His reasons for who He chooses!
Is it man's free will that determines if he has a contrite, humble, repentant, etc. spirit?
If God creates him that way, then we can forget part 3.

God is everywhere ... He knows and sees everything (past, present, future)
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
“I make known the end from the beginning … and what is still to come” (Isaiah 46:10)
“I am … the Beginning and the End, says the Lord” (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13)
More: Job 37:16, (Psalm 90:4, 147:5), Proverbs 15:3, Acts 15:18, 1 John 3:20
This is the key to everything: God has seen all of man’s history, his free-will choices, etc.

God knows peoples’ hearts, thoughts, motives, etc.
“… the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9).
“I am the One who searches the hearts and minds of people” (Revelation 2:23)
More: 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Kings 8:39, Psalm 44:21, Proverbs 20:27, Jeremiah 17:10, Jeremiah 20:12

God knows the type of people He wants to spend eternity with
“I dwell in the high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15)
More: 2 Samuel 22:28, (Psalm 34:18, 149:4), Proverbs 3:34, Zephaniah 3:12, James 4:6

A repentant heart towards God is absolutely necessary:
“… unless you repent you will all likewise perish (physically & spiritually) (Luke 13:3, 5)
Truly, the poor (in various ways) are the most likely to have the right heart attitude:
“He (Father God) has anointed Me (Jesus) to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18)
“Has God not chosen the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?” (James 2:5)
More: (Isaiah 61:1, 66:2), Luke 7:22, Matthew 11:5


Yes, it is up to the individual whether to be a humble, repentant, contrite..etc Spirit. Such characteristics are brought upon by the individual's choice based on his/her decisions to act in such a manner to cultivate these habits. This is simply akin to learning. You wouldn't be able to be good at a certain thing say, Playing a piano in a day, it takes cultivation and practice. The same could be said about cultivating a "he has a contrite, humble, repentant, etc. spirit"

Also, just because God knows the type of people He wants to spend eternity with doesn't mean that humanity have no Free Will or is limited in its Free Will in certain aspects. A firm or company knows the type of employees it wants to hire, that doesn't mean the employees seeking a job cannot choose whether to work for the firm or company or not.

God knowing about the Past, Present and Future does not negate humanity's Free Will in anyway. If I see a person sitting in a restaurant with a plate of spaghetti, I know that he/she would eat it even if the person haven't began to eat it yet. God, residing outside of Time would know this as well, He knows the hearts, motives and minds of each individual yet does not intervene and distort their daily application of their Free Will. Also, knowing a person well enough can allow you to make a rough prediction on what choices he/she would make. Does this negate Free Will, did you alter or manipulate him/her into making that choice. The answer is obvious, it's a no. In a similar way, if God knows the Hearts, Minds and motives of each and every individual, it doesn't negate Free Will at all. However though, this does not mean that since God knows the decisions each and every individual would make, the individual cannot act otherwise. IMO, he/she can do so but God would also know the outcomes of the alternate decision being taken and so on.

Hence, the verses you provided does not negate Free Will or limits it, rather it is a showcase of God's Omnipresence and Omniscience which is what I suppose, both of us can agree on, at least in terms of God's Omnipresence and Omniscience.
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« Reply #38 on: July 25, 2014, 10:50:52 AM »

Hence, the verses you provided does not negate Free Will or limits it,
rather it is a showcase of God's Omnipresence and Omniscience which is what I suppose,
both of us can agree on, at least in terms of God's Omnipresence and Omniscience.

We surely do agree about all of God's Omnipresence, Omniscience, and Omnipotence!
Which is to say: we surely do agree about God's foreknowledge of people's lives!

But, what does this have to do with my proof listing of ...
man's complete inability (on his/her own) to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ?
IMO, man has free will, but has been blinded (in many ways) in this area (and probably others also).
Yes, God sees this, but so what? ... As in, what am I missing here?

I do really appreciate you people!
You have sweeter spirits than the many evangelicals who combatitively insist on OSAS, etc.
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« Reply #39 on: July 25, 2014, 11:24:06 AM »

Hence, the verses you provided does not negate Free Will or limits it,
rather it is a showcase of God's Omnipresence and Omniscience which is what I suppose,
both of us can agree on, at least in terms of God's Omnipresence and Omniscience.

We surely do agree about all of God's Omnipresence, Omniscience, and Omnipotence!
Which is to say: we surely do agree about God's foreknowledge of people's lives!
..
But, what does this have to do with my proof listing of ...
man's complete inability (on his/her own) to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ?
IMO, man has free will, but has been blinded (in many ways) in this area (and probably others also).
Yes, God sees this, but so what? ... As in, what am I missing here?

I do really appreciate you people!
You have sweeter spirits than the many evangelicals who combatitively insist on OSAS, etc.

Man can respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ based on his/her own Free Choice. However, without the Gospel, man cannot save itself from the disease of Sin as there isn't any cure to that disease.

By " what does this have to do with my proof listing of ..." I suppose you are making reference to the verses you used to demonstrate the Depravity of humanity. Well, don't get how these verses demonstrate humanity's depravity. The Orthodox believes that humanity has the Nature of Sin which is akin to a chronic disease which only God has the cure for it. With this "nature", it is obvious that humanity would be inclined to Sin but this does not mean that humanity wouldn't be able to respond to the Gospel of Jesus. This is akin to a drug addict deciding to cease taking drugs which is indeed possible though the individual cannot do it alone and requires assistance. As for Romans 8:7, this is simply a reference to the Carnal Nature that is of the "Flesh" that is "hostile to God". It didn't proclaim that the individual is unable to respond to God's call and Plan.

As for Matthew 13:13-15, it makes clear in the verse 15, the ability for the individual to respond which I would quote,

Quote
lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

This clearly demonstrates humanity's ability to respond to God's call. If it cannot then verse 15 would be redundant in the first place as they would not be able to "See with their eyes" or "hear with their ears" at anytime at all.

There are many verses you provided but it is simply too many for me to go through so I would go through Isaiah 64:6.

On the surface, it appears that Works are indeed like "filthy rags" however, when the actual context is taken into account, what Isaiah is actually referring to is the hypocrisy and disobedience of the Isrealites which despite their Sins and Transgressions, still boast and hence, their Works are simply mere "filthy rags".
 
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« Reply #40 on: July 25, 2014, 12:33:32 PM »

As for Matthew 13:13-15, it makes clear in the verse 15, the ability for the individual to respond which I would quote,
Quote
lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
This clearly demonstrates humanity's ability to respond to God's call. If it cannot then verse 15 would be redundant in the first place as they would not be able to "See with their eyes" or "hear with their ears" at anytime at all.

You are focusing almost entirely on man's sin and depravity.
But, much of the list focuses on man's spiritual blindness!

In your Matthew 13, Jesus explains WHY He speaks to them in parables:
it is because their eyes and ears are shut, and they cannot see nor hear!
They did not (and do not) wish to see and hear.
In this case (with this group anyway), they did it to themselves (with or without Satan's help).
So Jesus says, "Have it your own way!"
Thus, they cannot (and will not be able to) see and hear spiritually.

Matthew 13:
13   Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see,
and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14   And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
and seeing you will see and not perceive;
15   for the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’


They did all of this to themselves, lest they be able to see and hear!
Which, okay, God would consider sin.
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« Reply #41 on: July 25, 2014, 12:54:12 PM »

As for Matthew 13:13-15, it makes clear in the verse 15, the ability for the individual to respond which I would quote,
Quote
lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
This clearly demonstrates humanity's ability to respond to God's call. If it cannot then verse 15 would be redundant in the first place as they would not be able to "See with their eyes" or "hear with their ears" at anytime at all.

You are focusing almost entirely on man's sin and depravity.
But, much of the list focuses on man's spiritual blindness!

In your Matthew 13, Jesus explains WHY He speaks to them in parables:
it is because their eyes and ears are shut, and they cannot see nor hear!
They did not (and do not) wish to see and hear.
They did this to themselves, so Jesus says, "Have it your own way!"
Thus, they cannot (and will not be able to) see and hear spiritually.

Matthew 13:
13   Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see,
and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14   And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
and seeing you will see and not perceive;
15   for the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’


Yet, Verses 16-17 immediately negates the notion that humanity is unable to respond to God's Call and are Spiritually Blind,

Quote
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

It is indeed true that to those that Jesus spoke in Parables, the people referred to are indeed "blind" but "blinded" through their own choice not simply because they are totally depraved. This is what St John Chrysostom expressed in relation to the "Spiritual blindness" exhibited by the people. In fact, in verse 15 as well, there is a strong indication of these people being able to be Saved by choosing to Repent and free themselves of their self inflicted Blindness which is why it has indeed mentioned that "lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears", indicating the possibility of repentance and ability to open one's eyes through one's own voluntary choice which would result in their "Healing". This is further strengthened by verses 16-17 and how it relates to the Parable of the Sower. 

If humanity is really "Spiritually Blind" then they wouldn't be able to respond, they wouldn't be able to "Hear" or "See" which would really render verses15-17 as irrelevant and contradictory given that it indicates the possibility of humanity being able to respond based on Free Choice towards God's Call and Plan.
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« Reply #42 on: July 25, 2014, 01:15:05 PM »

Yet, Verses 16-17 immediately negates the notion that humanity is unable to respond to God's Call and are Spiritually Blind,
Quote
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men
have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
It is indeed true that to those that Jesus spoke in Parables, the people referred to are indeed "blind" but "blinded" through their own choice not simply because they are totally depraved. This is what St John Chrysostom expressed in relation to the "Spiritual blindness" exhibited by the people. In fact, in verse 15 as well, there is a strong indication of these people being able to be Saved by choosing to Repent and free themselves of their self inflicted Blindness which is why it has indeed mentioned that "lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears", indicating the possibility of repentance and ability to open one's eyes through one's own voluntary choice which would result in their "Healing". This is further strengthened by verses 16-17 and how it relates to the Parable of the Sower.  
If humanity is really "Spiritually Blind" then they wouldn't be able to respond, they wouldn't be able to "Hear" or "See" which would really render verses15-17 as irrelevant and contradictory given that it indicates the possibility of humanity being able to respond based on Free Choice towards God's Call and Plan.

Yes, but I said this is an individual case ... there is nothing here about all of humanity.
And so, it should not be included in the list.
Another so ... methinks I have not looked into this deeply enough!
(See, I'm open and teachable ... and I hope evreyone else here is as well.)
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« Reply #43 on: July 26, 2014, 03:55:19 AM »

Yet, Verses 16-17 immediately negates the notion that humanity is unable to respond to God's Call and are Spiritually Blind,
Quote
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men
have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
It is indeed true that to those that Jesus spoke in Parables, the people referred to are indeed "blind" but "blinded" through their own choice not simply because they are totally depraved. This is what St John Chrysostom expressed in relation to the "Spiritual blindness" exhibited by the people. In fact, in verse 15 as well, there is a strong indication of these people being able to be Saved by choosing to Repent and free themselves of their self inflicted Blindness which is why it has indeed mentioned that "lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears", indicating the possibility of repentance and ability to open one's eyes through one's own voluntary choice which would result in their "Healing". This is further strengthened by verses 16-17 and how it relates to the Parable of the Sower.  
If humanity is really "Spiritually Blind" then they wouldn't be able to respond, they wouldn't be able to "Hear" or "See" which would really render verses15-17 as irrelevant and contradictory given that it indicates the possibility of humanity being able to respond based on Free Choice towards God's Call and Plan.

Yes, but I said this is an individual case ... there is nothing here about all of humanity.
And so, it should not be included in the list.
Another so ... methinks I have not looked into this deeply enough!
(See, I'm open and teachable ... and I hope evreyone else here is as well.)

It's ok to make mistakes from time to time, we are talking about a Divinely Inspired Document that is infallible and interpreted through the Tradition of the Church. We alone can never be able to fully understand and comprehend these Documents and this is why I place my trust in the Sacred Traditions of the Orthodox Church when it comes to interpreting Sacred Scriptures.

Don't worry about everyone else here, OC.net is a much more friendly place for discussions to take place unlike other channels such as You Tube.
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« Reply #44 on: July 26, 2014, 10:34:51 AM »

... we are talking about a Divinely Inspired Document that is infallible and interpreted through the Tradition of the Church.
We alone can never be able to fully understand and comprehend these Documents and this is why
I place my trust in the Sacred Traditions of the Orthodox Church when it comes to interpreting Sacred Scriptures.

Okay, have you been born-again? ... have you the Holy Spirit dwelling within your spirit?

Would you care to get into why NONE of the churches can be trusted
to guide anyone re: their eternal salvation ... and spiritual Truth in general?
There are several reasons why ... and I'm sure it would be really eye-opening for you.
If you are interested, shouldn't we begin a new thread on this topic?

P.S. it seems there is no other OC.net
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 10:47:21 AM by Osterloh » Logged

Christians must confess and repent of their sins in order to maintain their righteousness before God.
Throughout the entire Bible: sinners are unrighteous, obedient believers are righteous!
Christians must endure in the faith until they die to receive eternal life (no OSAS)!
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