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Author Topic: Orthodoxy and Calvinism  (Read 15547 times) Average Rating: 5
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Irish Hermit
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Holy Father Patrick, pray for us


« Reply #45 on: June 13, 2010, 10:05:14 AM »

Somewhere deep in the visceral part of me, I know that I can never love the God of  Calvin. In fact I have a strong aversion to him.

So what do you think?  DO we have the same God as Calvin?

Is it possible that the differences in theology (our conceptualisation of God, the salvation of the elect irrespective of their sins, the damnation of the non-elect, again irrespective of their personal goodness or their sins) and also in anthropology(total depravity, etc.) are so disparate that something utterly new was introduced by Calvin? Can traditional Christianity and Calvinism be reconciled?

Hilaire Belloc, in a fascinating essay, answers in the negative - he says that the God of Calvin is not the Christian God.  I will just reproduce Belloc's more insightful paragraphs:


"......What Calvin did was this. He took what is one of the oldest and
most perilous directives of mankind, the sense of Fate. He isolated it,
and he made it supreme, by fitting it with the kneading of a powerful
mind, into the scheme which Christian men still traditionally associated
with the holiness and authority of their ancestral religion.

"........ God had become Man, and God had become Man to redeem mankind.
That was no part of the old idea of Inevitable Fate. On the contrary, it
was a relief from that pagan nightmare. We of the Faith say that the
Incarnation was intended to release us from such a pagan nightmare.
Well, Calvin accepted the Incarnation, but he forced it to fit in with
the old pagan horror of compulsion: "Ananke." He reintroduced the Inexorable.

"....... Yes, [Calvin teaches that] God had become Man and had died
to save mankind; but only mankind in such numbers and persons as he
had chosen to act for. The idea of the Inexorable remained. The merits
of Christ were imputed, and no more. God was Causation, and Causation
is one immutable whole. A man was damned or saved; and it was not of his doing.
The recognition of evil as equal with good, which rapidly becomes the worship
of evil (the great Manichean heresy, which has roots as old as mankind;
the permanent motive of Fear) was put forward by Calvin in a strange new form.
He did not indeed oppose, as had the Manichean, two equal principles of Good
and of Evil. He put forward only one principle, God. But to that One
Principle he ascribed all our suffering, and, for most of us, necessary
and eternal suffering."



Belloc's essay on Calvin is here and the whole thing is well worth the read:
http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a39eba91950c3.htm

If Belloc is right, then Calvin created a God which is not the Biblical
one, but a return to an older concept of divinity- the God of Fate, the
God of the Inexorable against whom there is no appeal. All is
predetermined, predestined. Fate rules again, as it did in most of the
belief systems of the pagan world.

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« Reply #46 on: June 13, 2010, 07:35:02 PM »

Irish Hermit, thanks for sharing.

This morning I went to church in a town where a few years ago a Calvinist had a prophecy in the shower where God told him to make paddles and give them freely. He started a website (now defunct) and with other Calvinists distributed them in a store parking lot on a major highway, attracting alot of FOX News coverage.

I told as many people at church about it I met and they all said "how awful." "There are alot of sick people in the world." The priest agreed with our assessment of Calvinism on this thread. He replied that Calvin's book "Institutes of the Christian Religion" explains that God directly controls everything in the world and concludes that God forces some people to be saved and the rest to be damned. He said that when he was very little he knew he wanted to be a priest and the gentleness of the old ladies in church who showed him what to read in the prayer books played a big role in his desire.

I should note the exception: A former Presbyterian joked "Some kids need beat." Afterwards I explained my story of reading Philip Grevens' book and how it brought me to Orthodoxy, and he accepted this. He was nice.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2010, 07:35:33 PM by rakovsky » Logged
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« Reply #47 on: July 07, 2010, 04:50:06 AM »

Irish Hermit,

The link in your last post is broken: "No such file (give_legacy_article)"

Calvin's first book, before he wrote the Institutes in his twenties, was on the Stoic doctrine of fortuna (fate); no doubt it as well as the Reformation as a part of the Renaissance (a *Greek* revival) contributed to his mindset.

In the early church a Calvin-like slant on predestination was held only by the Gnostics and vigorously opposed by the Apologists (cf. Pelikan, Jaraslov, The Christian Tradition, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100–600 (1973).

Calvinists used these verses to back up their claims about original sin. They say that being “dead in transgressions and sins” means we couldn’t have any free-will or choose in any way to believe in Christ. Dead men can’t choose or act in any way they say.

Calvinism in the sense of the full-blown TULIP system is still a minority trajectory rejected by a majority of Protestants (e.g. Lutherans, Methodists, most Charismatics, most Baptists, etc. repudiate the full blown system) albeit it continues to have enthusiastic defenders.

Original sin is not specific to Calvinism and is a predominant position within Protestantism. That the "T" of Calvinism leads inexorably to the other four points of Classical Calvinism is denied by most Protestants. Historically the awareness of the doctrine of Original Sin in the sense it was understood by Calvin originated with Augustine (see Pelikan, Jaroslav, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), ch 6 for an excellent description of the emergence of the doctrine in the fifth century AD).

It was never accepted in Eastern Christianity in the sense of transmission of original guilt (Ezek 18:20 is often cited by those regarding the Augustinian version as unbiblical), but strongly influenced Western/Latin Catholic Christianity and is held by most Protestants (Luther, Calvin, and Wesley), with notable exceptions e.g. among some Restorationist groups like the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ and others.

Here is an example of how Eastern Christianity differs from Western Christianity in its understanding of Ancestral vs. Original Sin (note: Orthodox prefer to speak of Ancestral Sin, but do not object to the *phrase* Original Sin per se though they reject the Western understanding of it as transmission of original guilt):

Quote
The Approach of the Orthodox Fathers

As pervasive as the term original sin has become, it may come as a surprise to some that it was unknown in both the Eastern and Western Church until Augustine (c. 354-430). The concept may have arisen in the writings of Tertullian, but the expression seems to have appeared first in Augustine’s works. Prior to this the theologians of the early church used different terminology indicating a contrasting way of thinking about the fall, its effects and God’s response to it. The phrase the Greek Fathers used to describe the tragedy in the Garden was ancestral sin.

Ancestral sin has a specific meaning. The Greek word for sin in this case, amartema, refers to an individual act indicating that the Eastern Fathers assigned full responsibility for the sin in the Garden to Adam and Eve alone. The word amartia, the more familiar term for sin which literally means “missing the mark”, is used to refer to the condition common to all humanity (Romanides, 2002). The Eastern Church, unlike its Western counterpart, never speaks of guilt being passed from Adam and Eve to their progeny, as did Augustine. Instead, it is posited that each person bears the guilt of his or her own sin. The question becomes, “What then is the inheritance of humanity from Adam and Eve if it is not guilt?” The Orthodox Fathers answer as one: death. (I Corinthians 15:21) “Man is born with the parasitic power of death within him,” writes Fr. Romanides (2002, p. 161). Our nature, teaches Cyril of Alexandria, became “diseased…through the sin of one” (Migne, 1857-1866a).  It is not guilt that is passed on, for the Orthodox fathers; it is a condition, a disease.

In Orthodox thought Adam and Eve were created with a vocation: to become one with God gradually increasing in their capacity to share in His divine life—deification[2] (Romanides, 2002, p. 76-77). “They needed to mature, to grow to awareness by willing detachment and faith, a loving trust in a personal God” (Clement, 1993, p. 84). Theophilus of Antioch (2nd Century) posits that Adam and Eve were created neither immortal nor mortal. They were created with the potential to become either through obedience or disobedience (Romanides, 2002).

The freedom to obey or disobey belonged to our first parents, “For God made man free and sovereign” (Romanides, 2002, p. 32).  To embrace their God-given vocation would bring life, to reject it would bring death, but not at God’s hands. Theophilus continues, “…should he keep the commandment of God he would be rewarded with immortality…if, however, he should turn to things of death by disobeying God, he would be the cause of death to himself” (Romanides, 2002, p. 32)

Adam and Eve failed to obey the commandment not to eat from the forbidden tree thus rejecting God and their vocation to manifest the fullness of human existence (Yannaras, 1984).  Death and corruption began to reign over the creation. “Sin reigned through death.” (Romans 5:21) In this view death and corruption do not originate with God; he neither created nor intended them. God cannot be the Author of evil. Death is the natural result of turning aside from God.

Adam and Eve were overcome with the same temptation that afflicts all humanity: to be autonomous, to go their own way, to realize the fullness of human existence without God. According to the Orthodox fathers sin is not a violation of an impersonal law or code of behavior, but a rejection of the life offered by God (Yannaras, 1984). This is the mark, to which the word amartia refers. Fallen human life is above all else the failure to realize the God-given potential of human existence, which is, as St. Peter writes, to “become partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4).  St. Basil writes: “Humanity is an animal who has received the vocation to become God” (Clement, 1993, p. 76).

In Orthodox thought God did not threaten Adam and Eve with punishment nor was He angered or offended by their sin; He was moved to compassion.[3] The expulsion from the Garden and from the Tree of Life was an act of love and not vengeance so that humanity would not “become immortal in sin” (Romanides, 2002, p. 32). Thus began the preparation for the Incarnation of the Son of God and the solution that alone could rectify the situation: the destruction of the enemies of humanity and God, death (I Corinthians 15:26, 56), sin, corruption and the devil (Romanides, 2002).    

It is important to note that salvation as deification is not pantheism because the Orthodox Fathers insist on the doctrine of creation ex nihilo (Athanasius, 1981).  Human beings, along with all created things, have come into being from nothing.  Created beings will always remain created and God will always remain Uncreated. The Son of God in the Incarnation crossed the unbridgeable chasm between them. Orthodox hymnography frequently speaks of the paradox of the Uncreated and created uniting without mixture or confusion in the wondrous hypostatic union. The Nativity of Christ, for example, is interpreted as “a secret re-creation, by which human nature was assumed and restored to its original state” (Clement, 1993, p. 41). God and human nature, separated by the Fall, are reunited in the Person of the Incarnate Christ and redeemed through His victory on the Cross and in the Resurrection by which death is destroyed (I Corinthians 15:54-55). In this way the Second Adam fulfills the original vocation and reverses the tragedy of the fallen First Adam opening the way of salvation for all.

The Fall could not destroy the image of God; the great gift given to humanity remained intact [Gen 9:6], but damaged (Romanides, 2002). Origen speaks of the image buried as in a well choked with debris (Clement, 1993).  While the work of salvation was accomplished by God through Jesus Christ the removal of the debris that hides the image  in us calls for free and voluntary cooperation. St. Paul uses the word synergy, or “co-workers”, (I Corinthians 3:9) to describe the cooperation between Divine Grace and human freedom. For the Orthodox Fathers this means asceticism (prayer, fasting, charity and keeping vigil) relating to St. Paul’s image of the spiritual athlete (I Corinthians 9:24-27). This is the working out of salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Salvation is a process involving faith, freedom and personal effort to fulfill the commandment of Christ to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

The great Orthodox hymn of Holy Pascha (Easter) captures in a few words the essence of the Orthodox understanding of the Atonement: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, And upon those in the tombs bestowing life” (The Liturgikon, Paschal services, 1989).  Because of the victory of Christ on the Cross and in the Tomb humanity has been set free, the curse of the law has been broken, death is slain, life has dawned for all. Maximus the Confessor (c. 580 – 662) writes that “Christ’s death on the Cross is the judgment of judgment” (Clement, 1993, p. 49) and because of this we can rejoice in the conclusion stated so beautifully by Olivier Clement: “In the crucified Christ forgiveness is offered and life is given. For humanity it is no longer a matter of fearing judgment or of meriting salvation, but of welcoming love in trust and humility” (Clement, 1993, p. 49).

Augustine’s Legacy

The piety and devotion of Augustine is largely unquestioned by Orthodox theologians, but his conclusions on the Atonement are (Romanides, 2002). Augustine, by his own admission, did not properly learn to read Greek and this was a liability for him. He seems to have relied mostly on Latin translations of Greek texts (Augustine, 1956a,

p. 9). His misinterpretation of a key scriptural reference, Romans 5:12, is a case in point (Meyendorff, 1979). In Latin the Greek idiom eph ho which means because of was translated as in whom. Saying that all have sinned in Adam is quite different than saying that all sinned because of him. Augustine believed and taught that all humanity has sinned in Adam (Meyendorff, 1979, p. 144). The result is that guilt replaces death as the ancestral inheritance (Augustine, 1956b) Therefore the term original sin conveys the belief that Adam and Eve’s sin is the first and universal transgression in which all humanity participates.

Augustine famously debated Pelagius (c. 354-418) over the place the human will could play in salvation. Augustine took the position against him that only grace is able to save, sola gratis (Augustine, On the Predestination of the Saints, 7)[4]. From this a doctrine of predestination developed (God gives grace to whom He will) which hardened in the 16th and 17th centuries into the doctrine of two-fold predestination (God in His sovereignty saves some and condemns others). The position of the Church of the first two centuries concerning the image and human freedom was abandoned.

The Roman idea of justice found prominence in Augustinian and later Western theology. The idea that Adam and Eve offended God’s infinite justice and honor made of death God’s method of retribution (Romanides, 2002). But this idea of justice deviates from Biblical thought. Kalomiris (1980) explains the meaning of justice in the original Greek of the New Testament:

    The Greek word diakosuni ‘justice’, is a translation of the Hebrew word tsedaka. The word means ‘the divine energy which accomplishes man’s salvation.’ It is parallel and almost synonymous with the word hesed which means ‘mercy’, ‘compassion’, ‘love’, and to the word emeth which means ‘fidelity’, ‘truth’. This is entirely different from the juridical understanding of ‘justice’. (p. 31)

The juridical view of justice generates two problems for Augustine. One: how can one say that the attitude of the immutable God’s toward His creation changes from love to wrath? Two: how can God, who is good, be the author of such an evil as death (Romanides, 1992)? The only way to answer this is to say, as Augustine did to the young Bishop, Julian of Eclanum (d. 454), that God’s justice is inscrutable (Cahill, 1995, p. 65). Logically, then, justice provides proof of inherited guilt for Augustine, because since all humanity suffers the punishment of death and since God who is just cannot punish the innocent, then all must be guilty in Adam. Also, by similar reasoning, justice appears as a standard to which even God must adhere (Kalomiris, 1980). Can God change or be subject to any kind of standard or necessity? By contrast the Orthodox father, Basil the Great, attributes the change in attitude to humanity rather than to God (Migne, 1857-1866b). Because of the theological foundation laid by Augustine and taken up by his heirs, the conclusion seems unavoidable that a significant change occurs in the West making the wrath of God and not death the problem facing humanity (Romanides, 1992, p. 155-156).

How then could God’s anger be assuaged? The position of the ancient Church had no answer because its proponents did not see wrath as the problem. The Satisfaction Theory proposed by Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) in his work Why the God-Man? provides the most predominant answer in the West[5]. The sin of Adam offended and angered God making the punishment of death upon all guilty humanity justified. The antidote to this situation is the crucifixion of the Incarnate Son of God because only the suffering and death of an equally eternal being could ever satisfy the infinite offense of the infinitely dishonored God and assuage His wrath (Williams, 2002; Yannaras, 1984,

p. 152). God sacrifices His Son to restore His honor and pronounces the sacrifice sufficient. The idea of imputed righteousness rises from this. The Orthodox understanding that “the resurrection...through Christ, opens for humanity the way of love that is stronger than death” (Clement, 1993, p. 87) is replaced by a juridical theory of courtrooms and verdicts.

The image of an angry, vengeful God haunts the West where a basic insecurity and guilt seem to exist. Many appear to hold that sickness, suffering and death are God’s will. Why? I suspect one reason is that down deep the belief persists that God is still angry and must be appeased. Yes, sickness, suffering and death come and when they do God’s grace is able to transform them into life-bearing trials, but are they God’s will? Does God punish us when the mood strikes, when our behavior displeases Him or for no reason at all? Are the ills that afflict creation on account of God? For example, could the loving Father really be said to enjoy the sufferings of His Son or of the damned in hell (Yannaras, 1984)? Freud rebelled against these ideas calling the God inherent in them the sadistic Father (Yannaras, 1984, p. 153). Could it be as Yannaras, Clement and Kalomiris propose that modern atheism is a healthy rebellion against a terrorist deity (Clement, 2000)?  Kalomiris (1980) writes that there are no atheists, just people who hate the God in whom they have been taught to believe.

Orthodoxy agrees that grace is a gift, but one that is given to all not to a chosen few. For Grace is an uncreated energy of God sustaining all creation apart from which nothing can exist (Psalm 104:29). What is more, though grace sustains humanity, salvation cannot be forced upon us (or withheld) by divine decree. Clement points out that the “Greek fathers (and some of the Latin Fathers), according to whom the creation of humanity entailed a real risk on God’s part, laid the emphasis on salvation through love: ‘God can do anything except force a man to love him’. The gift of grace saves, but only in an encounter of love” (Clement, 1993, p. 81). Orthodox theology holds that divine grace must be joined with human volition.

Pastoral Practice East and West

In simple terms, we can say that the Eastern Church tends towards a therapeutic model which sees sin as illness, while the Western Church tends towards a juridical model seeing sin as moral failure. For the former the Church is the hospital of souls, the arena of salvation where, through the grace of God, the faithful ascend from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18) into union with God in a joining together of grace and human volition. The choice offered to Adam and Eve remains our choice: to ascend to life or descend into corruption. For the latter, whether the Church is viewed as essential, important or arbitrary, the model of sin as moral failing rests on divine election and adherence to moral, ethical codes as both the cure for sin and guarantor of fidelity. Whether ecclesial authority or individual conscience imposes the code the result is the same.

Admittedly, the idea of salvation as process is not absent in the West. (One can call to mind the Western mystics and the Wesleyan movement as examples.) However, the underlying theological foundations of Eastern Church and Western Church in regard to ancestral or original sin are dramatically opposed. The difference is apparent when looking at the understanding of ethics itself. For the Western Church ethics often seems to imply exclusively adherence to an external code; for the Eastern Church ethics implies “the restoration of life to the fullness of freedom and love” (Yannaras, 1984, p. 143).

Modern psychology has encouraged most Christian caregivers to view sin as illness so that, in practice, the juridical approach is often mitigated. The willingness to refer to mental health providers when necessary implies an expansion of the definition of sin from moral infraction to human condition. This is a happy development.  Recognizing sin as disease helps us to understand that the problem of the human condition operates on many levels and may even have a genetic component.

It is interesting that Christians from a broad spectrum have rediscovered the psychology of spiritual writers of the ancient Church. I discovered this in an Oral Roberts University Seminary classroom twenty-five years ago through a reading of “The Life of St. Pelagia the Harlot.” My journey into Orthodoxy and the priesthood began at that point. These pastors and teachers of the ancient Church were inspired by the Orthodox perspective enunciated in this paper: death as the problem, sin as disease, salvation as process and Christ as Victor.

Sin as missing the mark or, put another way, as the failure to realize the full potential of the gift of human life, calls for a gradual approach to pastoral care. The goal is nothing less than an existential transformation from within through growth in communion with God. Daily sins are more than moral infractions; they are revelations of the brokenness of human life and evidence of personal struggle. “Repentance means rejecting death and uniting ourselves to life” (Yannaras, 1984, 147-148).

In Orthodoxy we tend to dwell on the process and the goal more than the sin. A wise Serbian Orthodox priest once commented that God is more concerned about the direction of our lives than He is about the specifics. Indeed, the Scriptures point to the wondrous truth that, “If thou, O God, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand, but with Thee there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:3-4). The way is open for all who desire to take it. A young monk was once asked, “What do you do all day in the monastery?” He replied, “We fall and rise, fall and rise.”

The sacramental approach in the Eastern Church is an integral part of pastoral care. The therapeutic view frees the sacrament of Confession in the Orthodox Church from the tendency to take on a juridical character resulting in proscribed, impersonal penances. In Orthodoxy sacraments are seen as a means of revealing the truth about humanity and also about God (Yannaras, 1984, p. 143). After Holy Baptism we often fail in our work of fulfilling the vocation to unbury the image within. Seventy times seven we return to the sacrament not as an easy way out (confess today, sin tomorrow), but because humility is a hard lesson to learn, real transformation is not instantaneous and we are in need of God’s help. Healing takes time. Sacraments are far from magical or automatic rituals (Yannaras, 1984, p. 144). They are personal, grace-filled events in which our free response to God’s grace is acknowledged and sanctified. Even in evangelical circles where Confession as sacrament is rejected the altar call often plays a similar role. It is telling that the Orthodox Sacrament of Confession always takes place face to face and never in the kind of confessional that appeared in the West. Sin is personal and healing must be equally personal. Therefore nothing in authentic pastoral care can be impersonal, automatic or pre-planned. In Orthodoxy the prescription is tailored for the patient as he or she is, not as he or she ought to be.

The juridical approach that has predominated in the West can make pastoral practice seem cold and automatic. Neither a focus on good works nor faith alone are sufficient to transform the human heart. Do positive, external criteria signify inner transformation in all cases? Some branches of Christian counseling too often rely on the application of seemingly relevant verses of Scripture to effect changes in behavior as if convincing one of the truth of Holy Scripture is enough. Belief in Scripture may be a beginning, but real transformation is not just a matter of thinking. First and foremost it is a matter of an existential transformation. It is a matter of a shift in the very mode of life itself: from autonomy to communion. Allow me to explain.

Death has caused a change in the way we relate to God, to one another and to the world. Our lives are dominated by the struggle to survive. Yannaras writes that we see ourselves not as persons sharing a common nature and purpose, but as autonomous individuals who live to survive in competition with one another. Thus, set adrift by death, we are alienated from God, from others and also from our true selves (Yannaras, 1984).  The Lord Jesus speaks to this saying, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew16:26). Salvation is a transformation from the tragic state of alienation and autonomy that ends in death into a state of communion with God and one another that ends in eternal life. So, in the Orthodox view, a transformation in this mode of existence must occur. If the chosen are saved by decree and not by choice such an emphasis is irrelevant. The courtroom seems insufficient as an arena for healing or transformation.

Great flexibility needs to exist in pastoral care if it is to promote authentic transformation. We need to take people as they are and not as they ought to be. Moral and ethical codes are references, certainly, but not ends in themselves. As a pastor entrusted with personal knowledge of people’s lives, I know that moving people from point A to Z is impossible. If, by the grace of God, step B can be discovered, then real progress can often be made. Every step is a real step. If we can be faithful in small things the Lord will grant us bigger ones later (Matthew 25:21). There need be no rush in this intimate process of real transformation that has no end.  As a priest and confessor I tell those who come to me, “I do not know exactly what is ahead on this spiritual adventure. That is between you and God, but if you will allow me, we will take the road together.”

A Romanian priest found himself overhearing the confession of a hardened criminal to an old priest-monk in a crowded Communist prison cell. As he listened he noticed the priest-monk begin to cry. He did not say a word through his tears until the man had finished at which time he replied, “My son, try to do better next time.” Yannaras writes that the message of the Church for humanity wounded and degraded by the ‘terrorist God of juridical ethics’ is precisely this: “what God really asks of man is neither individual feats nor works of merit, but a cry of trust and love from the depths” (Yannaras, 1984, p. 47). The cry comes from the depth of our need to the unfathomable depth of God’s love; the Prodigal Son crying out, “I want to go home” to the Father who, seeing his advance from a distance, runs to meet him. (Luke 15:11-32)

What this divine/human relationship will produce God knows, but we place ourselves in His loving hands and not without some trepidation because “God is a loving fire… for all: good or bad.” (Kalomiris, 1980, p. 19) The knowledge that salvation is a process makes our failures understandable. The illness that afflicts us demands access to the grace of God often and repeatedly. We offer to Him the only things that we have, our weakened condition and will. Joined with God’s love and grace it is the fuel that breathed upon by the Spirit of God, breaks the soul into flame.

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said: Abba, as much as I am able I practice a small rule, a little fasting, some prayer and meditation, and remain quiet, and as much as possible keep my thoughts clean. What else should I do? Then the old man stood up and stretched out his hands toward heaven, and his fingers became like ten torches of flame. And he said: If you wish you can become all flame. (Nomura, 2001, p. 92)

As we have seen, for the early Church Fathers and the Orthodox Church the Atonement is much more than a divine exercise in jurisprudence; it is the event of the life, death and resurrection of the Son of God that sets us free from the Ancestral Sin and its effects. Our slavery to death, sin, corruption and the devil are destroyed through the Cross and Resurrection and our hopeless adventure in autonomy is revealed to be what it is: a dead end. Salvation is much more than a verdict from above; it is an endless process of transformation from autonomy to communion, a gradual ascent from glory to glory as we take up once again our original vocation now fulfilled in Christ. The way to the Tree of Life at long last revealed to be the Cross is reopened and its fruit, the Body and Blood of God, offered to all.  The goal is far greater than a change in behavior; we are meant to become divine.

1 Editor’s Note: Some within modern evangelicalism (Oden 2003, Packer and Oden 2004) have begun to examine the writings of the Patristics in an attempt to inspire unity within the Christian church. While somewhat controversial, the present article was invited in hope of beginning dialogue among the tributaries of Christian spirituality on a topic of great importance to a spiritually sensitive psychotherapy—sin.

2 A reference to movement toward union with God.

3 Orthodox theology recognizes that all human language, concepts and analogies fail to describe God in His essence. True knowledge of God demands that we proceed apophatically, that is, with the stripping away of human concepts, for God is infinitely beyond them all.

4 Pelagius is regarded as a heretic in the East (as is the case in the West). He elevated the human will and the expense of divine grace. In fairness, however, the Orthodox position is expressed best by John Cassian—who is often regarded as “semi-Pelagian” in the West. The problem—to the Orthodox perspective—is that both Pelagius and Augustine set the categories in the extreme—freedom of the will with nothing left for God versus complete sovereignty of God, with nothing left to human will.  The Fathers argued instead for “synergy,” a mystery of God’s grace being given with the cooperation of the human heart.

5 It would perhaps be more precise to say the Latin West.  The most prominent Reformed view seems to be a modification of Anselm’s emphasis on vicarious satisfaction, in which more emphasis is placed on penal substitution.

References

Athanasius (1981). On the incarnation: The treatise de incarnatione verbi dei. (P. Lawson, Trans.). Crestwood: NY: St. Validimir’s Seminary Press.

Augustine (1956a). Nicene and post nicene fathers: Four anti-pelagian writings, vol. 1, Grand Rapids , Michigan: Eerdmans.

Augustine (1956b). Nicene and post nicene fathers: Four anti-pelagian writings, vol. 5,Grand Rapids , Michigan: Eerdmans.

Cahill, T. (1995). How the irish saved civilization. New York: Doubleday.

Clement, O. (1993). The roots of Christian mysticism. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press.

Clement, O. (2000). On human being. New York: New City Press.

Kalomiris, A. (1980). The river of fire. Retrieved April, 20, 2004, http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm.

Migne, J. P. (Ed.). (1857-1866a). The patrologiae curus completes, seris graeca. (Vols. 1-161), 74, 788-789. Paris: Parisorium.

Migne, J. P. (Ed.). (1857-1866b). The patrologiae curus completes, seris graeca. (Vols. 1-161), 31, 345. Paris: Parisorium.

Meyendorff, J. (1979). Byzantine theology. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

Nomura, Yushi, trans. (2001). Desert wisdom: Sayings from the desert fathers, Marynoll, New York: Orbis Books.

Oden, T. C. (2003). The rebirth of orthodoxy: Signs of new life in Christianity. New York: Harper Collins.

Packer, J. I. & Oden, T. C. (2004). One faith: The evangelical consensus. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press.

Romanides, J. (1992). The ancestral sin. Ridgewood, NJ: Zephyr Publishing.

The liturgikon: The book of divine services for the priest and deacon (1989). New York: Athens Printing Co.

Williams, T. “Saint Anselm”, Retrieved April 21, 2004. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2002 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL= http://plato.Stanford.edu/archives/spr.2002/entires/anselm/.

Yannaras, C. (1984). The freedom of morality. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

Author Bio:

Antony Hughes, M.Div., is the rector of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA, which is associated with the Autonomous Antiochian Orthodox Church of North America.  He has served as the Orthodox Chaplain at Harvard University.  Requests for reprints should be sent to: Rev. Antony Hughes, St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church, 8 Inman Street, Cambridge, MA 02139.
-V. Rev. Antony Hughes, M.Div, Ancestral Versus Original Sin: An Overview with Implications for Psychotherapy (St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts).


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They say
that to believe that man has free-will to accept God’s grace contradicts these scriptures and if one thinks so then one denies salvation by grace alone and adds works. In other words, God doesn't do all in salvation (semi-Pelagianism) if man has free-will.
   What is the Orthodox response to this? I have read several things by Orthodox writers about orginal sin, but I haven’t seen anyone deal with these specific verses or Calvinists beliefs on them. Does anyone know what the Orthodox Church teaches and responds to
Calvinism on this regard? Any former Calvinists here have an answer?
“The synergist view of salvation is not the opposite of the monergist view.... The opposite of Christian monergism would be Pelagianism –a heresy rejected by all Christian churches. Synergism is not the belief that humans save themselves; it is the belief that salvation is by grace alone but requires free reception and not resistance by human persons” –Olson

Certainly one must admit "synergism" (it's Greek equivalent) is a biblical term (cf. sunergeo “working together” -from which the word “synergism” (syn: “together” + ergos: “energy”/”work”) derives- is found in scripture, e.g. “As God's fellow workers (sunerguntes) we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain” (2 Cor 6:1 NIV); “work out your own salvation… for it is God who works in you (Philip 2:12-13); “stir up love and good works” (Heb 10:24); "Draw near (Gk eggisate, aorist imperative active; active = action by the subject; imperative = a command) to God and He will draw near to you…" (James 4:Cool; “the Lord worked with them (sunergountos), and confirmed the word by the signs” (Mk 16:20, note: this is from the later addition to Mark’s Gospel). This is in no way a denial that any good we do is in accordance with grace given us. The Orthodox Study Bible affirms “synergism,” yet affirms: “Paul teaches living works are an outgrowth of our salvation when he writes ‘for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them’ (Eph 2:10)” (OSB p. 1601).

Thus does Orthodoxy avoid the paradox of double election whereby God is supposed to have created some men with the very aim and purpose to hate them and burn them for his glory. Calvinists maintain that God leaves some men alone, whether positively damning them (“double election” of some to heaven and some to hell) or by “passing some by”; Scripture by contrast held God passes no man by. His grace which brings salvation appears to all:

Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men…”

John 1:9: "There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man."

The same position was held by C. S. Lewis who affirmed that in the end of days there are only two kinds of people: those who say to God “thy will be done” and those to whom God says “thy will be done.”

The Calvinistic alternative entails God, whether through active damnation or passing some by effectively determines the damnation of souls. In the Calvinist system God is more like the Levite who passed someone by who he could have helped than the Good Samaritan helping someone who could not help himself, and whose virtue our Lord praised. Except for but one breath of the Holy Spirit multitudes suffer eternal agony. This glorifies God according to Calvinists, but no one is sure quite how. It is all a big “paradox.” For C. S. Lewis there is no such paradox -except for the enduring minority which continues to imbibe the entirety of the TULIP system.

If anyone is saved, this is due to God alone. If anyone is damned, this is due to man alone.
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« Reply #48 on: July 07, 2010, 05:36:07 AM »


The link in your last post is broken: "No such file (give_legacy_article)"

Apologies.

Here is a link through The WayBack Machine

http://web.archive.org/web/20070615044339/http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a39eba91950c3.htm
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« Reply #49 on: April 12, 2011, 08:43:51 PM »

I've searched through the Internet to try and find a concise, 5 point response to the 5 points of Calvinism and so far have come up rather short handed. There is a LOT of information available, and lots of people that say that you have to study this and that and read this and that and so on and so forth to be able to formulate a proper response to TULIP, but it seems that nobody has offered such a concise response (at least not that I can find) themselves. I think engaging in such a study is definitely worthwhile, but to go into a long lecture on how St. Augustine influenced Calvin, and how the Church Fathers viewed Adam and the original sin, and Christ's purpose for taking on our human nature in light of the theology of people like St. Gregory Palamas, Fr. John Romanides, and the like in such a casual conversation probably wouldn't work (unless of course the person was truly engaged and open to debating the various points of TULIP).

So I would like to ask if anyone could offer a concise retort to TULIP in the same basic brevity with which it is described on the Wikipedia page?
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« Reply #50 on: April 12, 2011, 11:55:48 PM »

TULIP stands on the T, its first presupposition: T is Total Depravity, which posits that man has no ability to turn toward God, because his sin and death prevent him.

Total Depravity thus denies the redemptive work of Christ; A key purpose of the Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection was to make it possible for Man to respond to God's Grace.

All other Calvinist teachings fail after Total Depravity is done away with. Total Depravity also rests on Sola Fide, namely that works do not relate to salvation, which Orthodox Christians believe is false.

There was actually an Orthodox Council that ruled on this issue, though it often employed a Latin ethos to do so. Here follows:

Quote
Decree III of The Holy Synod of Jerusalem, in 1672, declared in the Confession of Dosithos:

We believe the most good God to have from eternity predestinated unto glory those whom He has chosen, and to have consigned unto condemnation those whom He has rejected; but not so that He would justify the one, and consign and condemn the other without cause. For that were contrary to the nature of God, who is the common Father of all, and no respecter of persons, and would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth; (1 Timothy 2:4) but since He foreknew the one would make a right use of their free-will, and the other a wrong, He predestinated the one, or condemned the other. And we understand the use of free-will thus, that the Divine and illuminating grace, and which we call preventing grace, being, as a light to those in darkness, by the Divine goodness imparted to all, to those that are willing to obey this — for it is of use only to the willing, not to the unwilling — and co-operate with it, in what it requires as necessary to salvation, there is consequently granted particular grace; which, co-operating with us, and enabling us, and making us perseverant in the love of God, that is to say, in performing those good things that God would have us to do, and which His preventing grace admonishes us that we should do, justifies us, and makes us predestinated. But those who will not obey, and co-operate with grace; and, therefore, will not observe those things that God would have us perform, and that abuse in the service of Satan the free-will, which they have received of God to perform voluntarily what is good, are consigned to eternal condemnation.

But to say, as the most wicked heretics do and as is contained in the Chapter answering hereto — that God, in predestinating, or condemning, had in no wise regard to the works of those predestinated, or condemned, we know to be profane and impious. For thus Scripture would be opposed to itself, since it promises the believer salvation through works, yet supposes God to be its sole author, by His sole illuminating grace, which He bestows without preceding works, to show to man the truth of divine things, and to teach him how he may co-operate therewith, if he will, and do what is good and acceptable, and so obtain salvation. He takes not away the power to will — to will to obey, or not obey him.

But than to affirm that the Divine Will is thus solely and without cause the author of their condemnation, what greater calumny can be fixed upon God? and what greater injury and blasphemy can be offered to the Most High? For that God is not tempted with evils, (James 1:13) and that He equally wills the salvation of all, since there is no respect of persons with Him, we do know; and that for those who through their own wicked choice, and their impenitent heart, have become vessels of dishonor, there is, as is just, decreed condemnation, we do confess. But of eternal punishment, of cruelty, of pitilessness, and of inhumanity, we never, never say God is the author, who tells us that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents. (Luke 15:7) Far be it from us, while we have our senses, thus to believe, or to think; and we do subject to an eternal anathema those who say and think such things, and esteem them to be worse than any infidels.

And elsewhere in the same Confession:
Quote
But the novelties which the Calvinists have blasphemously introduced concerning God and divine things, perverting, mutilating, and abusing the Divine Scriptures, are sophistries and inventions of the devil.


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« Reply #51 on: April 13, 2011, 12:24:52 AM »

Thanks Nicholas. That is helpful but still not the 5 point counterpoints that are concise and brief just as the 5 points of TULIP are on the wikipedia page for Calvinism.

I might be able to make it work though, so thanks again.
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« Reply #52 on: April 13, 2011, 12:45:23 AM »

Total Depravity: Denies the redemptive work of Christ in his Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, because it asserts that man is still unable to respond to God's Grace. Total Depravity is also based off of the heretical doctrine of Sola Fide, which asserts that salvation is by faith alone without works playing any role.

Unconditional Election: Denies that God gives salvation because of people's faith and works, because Man cannot have true faith unless God forces him to through a process called regeneration, and works do not save. This runs contrary to Holy Scripture, which clearly teaches that a Living Faith, that is, faith lived out in works, is necessary. It also teaches the heretical doctrine of Individual Salvation, that is, that the predestined promises of the Elect are promised to predestined individuals and not the New Israel itself; this is clearly contradicted in the Holy Scriptures, through Christ's teaching on the True Vine.

Limited Atonement: The satanic notion that Christ's redemption was only effective upon individuals arbitrarily predestined to salvation. Christ's redemption changed the whole universe, and it may be accessed by anyone who chooses Him. This doctrine relies on the erroneously-founded previous two doctrines.

Irresistible Grace: God forces, or engineers, certain people to be saved. They have no choice in the matter. This doctrine blasphemes against the doctrine of Imagio Dei, that humans are made in the Image and Likeness of God with the ability to choose or reject union with Him. The Book of Sirach 15:15-17 reads, "If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are Life and Death, whichever he chooses shall be given to him." In Genesis 4, God tells Cain "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." God is telling Cain that he can choose to follow righteousness if he chooses; Cain demonstrates his ability to resist the God's commandments after God tells him he has the power to obey them.

Perseverance of the Saints: Asserts what later evolved into the protestant "Once Saved Always Saved" (OSAS) doctrine, namely that if God chooses to save you, you can never reject this salvation in the future. This doctrine also denies free will and the Imagio Dei, as the previous doctrines do. It likewise denies that those who appeared to be "saved" but fell away were ever truly saved at all, thus setting up a Divine No True Scotsman fallacy.
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« Reply #53 on: April 13, 2011, 01:01:44 AM »

An interesting anecdote:

I once spoke to a OSAS man who told me that it is wrong and insulting to ask God for forgiveness after your conversion, because God automatically forgives everything that someone who is "truly saved" does. I guess the Lord's Prayer is only for us unsaved sinners. laugh
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« Reply #54 on: April 13, 2011, 06:40:37 AM »

Why do you believe Total Depravity denies Christ's Grace? It is my understanding that it completely related to Grace
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« Reply #55 on: April 13, 2011, 08:21:31 AM »

Nick,
Please see my responses in bold blue.
In Christ,
Ian
\

Total Depravity: Denies the redemptive work of Christ in his Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, because it asserts that man is still unable to respond to God's Grace. Total Depravity is also based off of the heretical doctrine of Sola Fide, which asserts that salvation is by faith alone without works playing any role.
Response: The criticism of Faith and Works that many Protestants (Arminian and Calvinist) have is that they believe that we are "adding to Christ's finished work. That is that if Jesus gives infinity, we try to give our selves 'infinity plus 1, 5, 70', etc. via good works. Based on their misunderstanding of what we really mean, they criticize rightly. Salvation is not a meritorious action, and certainly not one which we have earned by being good.

Unconditional Election: Denies that God gives salvation because of people's faith and works, because Man cannot have true faith unless God forces him to through a process called regeneration, and works do not save. This runs contrary to Holy Scripture, which clearly teaches that a Living Faith, that is, faith lived out in works, is necessary. It also teaches the heretical doctrine of Individual Salvation, that is, that the predestined promises of the Elect are promised to predestined individuals and not the New Israel itself; this is clearly contradicted in the Holy Scriptures, through Christ's teaching on the True Vine.
Response: Read Matthew 13's account of the net. There are saved and lost individuals in any church.


Limited Atonement: The satanic notion that Christ's redemption was only effective upon individuals arbitrarily predestined to salvation. Christ's redemption changed the whole universe, and it may be accessed by anyone who chooses Him. This doctrine relies on the erroneously-founded previous two doctrines.
Response: This does not seem as harsh as some make it out to be. It appears from this understanding that at least some Calvinists acknowledge different people's profession of faith (though I realize not all do). Likewise The Orthodox church definitely believes in Predestination as God's acceptance of people's faith. By not forcing the unrepentant to choose Him, He is in a sense predestining them to Hell.

Irresistible Grace: God forces, or engineers, certain people to be saved. They have no choice in the matter. This doctrine blasphemes against the doctrine of Imagio Dei, that humans are made in the Image and Likeness of God with the ability to choose or reject union with Him. The Book of Sirach 15:15-17 reads, "If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are Life and Death, whichever he chooses shall be given to him." In Genesis 4, God tells Cain "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." God is telling Cain that he can choose to follow righteousness if he chooses; Cain demonstrates his ability to resist the God's commandments after God tells him he has the power to obey them.
Response: The basic concept of Irresistible Grace id found within God drawing people to Himself (John 6:44,65) chooses us for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13-14) among other passages


Perseverance of the Saints: Asserts what later evolved into the protestant "Once Saved Always Saved" (OSAS) doctrine, namely that if God chooses to save you, you can never reject this salvation in the future. This doctrine also denies free will and the Imagio Dei, as the previous doctrines do. It likewise denies that those who appeared to be "saved" but fell away were ever truly saved at all, thus setting up a Divine No True Scotsman fallacy.
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« Reply #56 on: April 13, 2011, 09:44:06 AM »

Somewhere deep in the visceral part of me, I know that I can never love the God of  Calvin. In fact I have a strong aversion to him.

So what do you think?  DO we have the same God as Calvin?
I really wonder, sometimes. I used to struggle with hating God when I was mired hip-deep in Calvinism.
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« Reply #57 on: April 13, 2011, 09:48:59 AM »

Somewhere deep in the visceral part of me, I know that I can never love the God of  Calvin. In fact I have a strong aversion to him.

So what do you think?  DO we have the same God as Calvin?
I really wonder, sometimes. I used to struggle with hating God when I was mired hip-deep in Calvinism.
Yes. Like it or not we share the same Christ, just like you and your siblings share the same parents. You may different opinions of them, (one kid thinks their parent is too strict, another thinks they are too lenient) but the same parents none the less. Same with God.

One question though: Do any Calvinists you know ever doubt their own salvation while doubting others, or do they seem convinced that they are undoubtedly among the Elect?
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« Reply #58 on: April 13, 2011, 09:56:20 AM »

One question though: Do any Calvinists you know ever doubt their own salvation while doubting others, or do they seem convinced that they are undoubtedly among the Elect?
I have prsonally known a couple - other than myself -- who doubted they were among the elect. Famously, Johnathan Edwards' uncle committed suicide because of his doubts about his own election.
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« Reply #59 on: April 13, 2011, 10:03:05 AM »

One question though: Do any Calvinists you know ever doubt their own salvation while doubting others, or do they seem convinced that they are undoubtedly among the Elect?
I have prsonally known a couple - other than myself -- who doubted they were among the elect. Famously, Johnathan Edwards' uncle committed suicide because of his doubts about his own election.
I was not aware of that, and very sad indeed. For me the Calvinist I most respect is the one who doubts himself, at least a little, if he doubts everyone else. It has been my experience on Youtube, that the most well known Calvinist advocates tend to be very self assured. Maybe it's my own pride, but seeing people so convinced of their own elected status while denying other people's seemed a bit high minded and smug. 
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« Reply #60 on: April 13, 2011, 10:25:38 AM »

Somewhere deep in the visceral part of me, I know that I can never love the God of  Calvin. In fact I have a strong aversion to him.

So what do you think?  DO we have the same God as Calvin?
Since it is an idol he constructed out of the debris of pagan stoicism, no.
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« Reply #61 on: April 13, 2011, 10:26:23 AM »

One question though: Do any Calvinists you know ever doubt their own salvation while doubting others, or do they seem convinced that they are undoubtedly among the Elect?
I have prsonally known a couple - other than myself -- who doubted they were among the elect. Famously, Johnathan Edwards' uncle committed suicide because of his doubts about his own election.
I was not aware of that, and very sad indeed. For me the Calvinist I most respect is the one who doubts himself, at least a little, if he doubts everyone else. It has been my experience on Youtube, that the most well known Calvinist advocates tend to be very self assured. Maybe it's my own pride, but seeing people so convinced of their own elected status while denying other people's seemed a bit high minded and smug. 
I think their tendency is a dangerous presumption by mortals as to define where God's love & sovereignty extends. I do not see how they can get around Romans 9:14-18 in which God determines who he will have mercy on beyond our rationalized understanding. We know our call to faith in Christ but cannot presume to limit His love and sovereignty towards anyone either.
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« Reply #62 on: April 13, 2011, 10:38:35 AM »

One question though: Do any Calvinists you know ever doubt their own salvation while doubting others, or do they seem convinced that they are undoubtedly among the Elect?
I have prsonally known a couple - other than myself -- who doubted they were among the elect. Famously, Johnathan Edwards' uncle committed suicide because of his doubts about his own election.
I was not aware of that, and very sad indeed. For me the Calvinist I most respect is the one who doubts himself, at least a little, if he doubts everyone else. It has been my experience on Youtube, that the most well known Calvinist advocates tend to be very self assured. Maybe it's my own pride, but seeing people so convinced of their own elected status while denying other people's seemed a bit high minded and smug. 
I think their tendency is a dangerous presumption by mortals as to define where God's love & sovereignty extends. I do not see how they can get around Romans 9:14-18 in which God determines who he will have mercy on beyond our rationalized understanding. We know our call to faith in Christ but cannot presume to limit His love and sovereignty towards anyone either.

To be fair, from what I understand their logic states that Faith is proof of Election. Though they probably would not put it this way, it seems to me a little like a profession of faith is almost a symbol (a lifelong Baptism if you will) of God's predestining them to Salvation.
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« Reply #63 on: April 13, 2011, 10:39:29 AM »

Somewhere deep in the visceral part of me, I know that I can never love the God of  Calvin. In fact I have a strong aversion to him.

So what do you think?  DO we have the same God as Calvin?
Since it is an idol he constructed out of the debris of pagan stoicism, no.
Can you please elaborate and explain this one? A bit harsh. I dare say a bit "Calvinist"Smiley
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« Reply #64 on: April 13, 2011, 11:30:49 AM »

Why do you believe Total Depravity denies Christ's Grace? It is my understanding that it completely related to Grace
Un-Orthodox concepts in Total Depravity:

Monergism: The notion that man does not have to co-operate with God's gift of Grace and salvation. Compare with the Orthodox understanding of Synergism.

Sola Fide: Denial of the scriptures; the creator of this doctrine, Martin Luther, tried to remove Scriptures that contradicted it (Epistle of St. James).

Why it denies Grace:

God's preceding gift of Grace may be responded to with living faith (faith/works un-separated), or it may be rejected. Even after the Fall of Man, mankind's spiritual capacity was damaged, but not destroyed as the Calvinists assert. After the redeeming work of Christ, the gap between God and Man was bridged and man's nature was healed. Because of Christ's Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, we can choose to respond to God's Grace again.

Total Depravity declares that Christ's work did not break the bonds of sin and death, and mankind is still unable to turn towards God. Because man does not have the power to respond to God's gift of Grace, God has to force individual men to respond to Him. The rest of the Calvinist doctrines (those after "t" in "TULIP") must logically follow.

Nick,
Please see my responses in bold blue.
In Christ,
Ian
\

Total Depravity: Denies the redemptive work of Christ in his Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, because it asserts that man is still unable to respond to God's Grace. Total Depravity is also based off of the heretical doctrine of Sola Fide, which asserts that salvation is by faith alone without works playing any role.
Response: The criticism of Faith and Works that many Protestants (Arminian and Calvinist) have is that they believe that we are "adding to Christ's finished work. That is that if Jesus gives infinity, we try to give our selves 'infinity plus 1, 5, 70', etc. via good works. Based on their misunderstanding of what we really mean, they criticize rightly. Salvation is not a meritorious action, and certainly not one which we have earned by being good.

Unconditional Election: Denies that God gives salvation because of people's faith and works, because Man cannot have true faith unless God forces him to through a process called regeneration, and works do not save. This runs contrary to Holy Scripture, which clearly teaches that a Living Faith, that is, faith lived out in works, is necessary. It also teaches the heretical doctrine of Individual Salvation, that is, that the predestined promises of the Elect are promised to predestined individuals and not the New Israel itself; this is clearly contradicted in the Holy Scriptures, through Christ's teaching on the True Vine.
Response: Read Matthew 13's account of the net. There are saved and lost individuals in any church.


Limited Atonement: The satanic notion that Christ's redemption was only effective upon individuals arbitrarily predestined to salvation. Christ's redemption changed the whole universe, and it may be accessed by anyone who chooses Him. This doctrine relies on the erroneously-founded previous two doctrines.
Response: This does not seem as harsh as some make it out to be. It appears from this understanding that at least some Calvinists acknowledge different people's profession of faith (though I realize not all do). Likewise The Orthodox church definitely believes in Predestination as God's acceptance of people's faith. By not forcing the unrepentant to choose Him, He is in a sense predestining them to Hell.

Irresistible Grace: God forces, or engineers, certain people to be saved. They have no choice in the matter. This doctrine blasphemes against the doctrine of Imagio Dei, that humans are made in the Image and Likeness of God with the ability to choose or reject union with Him. The Book of Sirach 15:15-17 reads, "If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are Life and Death, whichever he chooses shall be given to him." In Genesis 4, God tells Cain "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." God is telling Cain that he can choose to follow righteousness if he chooses; Cain demonstrates his ability to resist the God's commandments after God tells him he has the power to obey them.
Response: The basic concept of Irresistible Grace id found within God drawing people to Himself (John 6:44,65) chooses us for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13-14) among other passages


Perseverance of the Saints: Asserts what later evolved into the protestant "Once Saved Always Saved" (OSAS) doctrine, namely that if God chooses to save you, you can never reject this salvation in the future. This doctrine also denies free will and the Imagio Dei, as the previous doctrines do. It likewise denies that those who appeared to be "saved" but fell away were ever truly saved at all, thus setting up a Divine No True Scotsman fallacy.

1. Orthodoxy does not believe in Faith without Works. I understand the protestant criticism of the Vatican's merit theology, but such a criticism does not logically lead into Sola Fide. Faith and works are inseparable, because a living faith produces works; God's Grace precedes both faith and works.

2. Lost individuals who appear part of the visible church are not actually grafted onto the New Israel; there are some who may be grafted on who are not part of the visible church in a way that we can comprehend. This does not mean that we are saved alone or that the elect is individuals and not the Body itself.

3. Limited atonement has to do with ARBITRARY assignment of salvation. I am not condemning the notion of predestination as understood by the ancient Christian church, as stated in the Confession of the Council of Jerusalem I posted above in this thread.

4. I understand where they get the concept. John 6:44 and 65 only imply arbitrary predestination if you're reading it back into the text. This has to do with the will of the Father, the unity of the Godhead and Christ's granted authority, and nothing to do with the goddess Tyche. 2 Thess. 2:13-14 has nothing to do with ARBITRARY predestination, but rather predestination according to the foreknown free will of man and the promises given to the Elect, the new Israel, to whom anyone may be grafted on.

I suggest you familiarize yourself with the Orthodox position on such things. Calvinism and Orthodoxy are different Gospels. Their God is a vengeful God who arbitrarily tortures some and arbitrarily rewards others just to glorify himself, wheras the God of Orthodoxy is the Lover of All Mankind who remains humble and selfless unto all ages.

And prooftexting is un-Christian.
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« Reply #65 on: April 13, 2011, 11:32:32 AM »

Somewhere deep in the visceral part of me, I know that I can never love the God of  Calvin. In fact I have a strong aversion to him.

So what do you think?  DO we have the same God as Calvin?
Since it is an idol he constructed out of the debris of pagan stoicism, no.
Can you please elaborate and explain this one? A bit harsh. I dare say a bit "Calvinist"Smiley
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« Reply #66 on: April 13, 2011, 12:00:09 PM »

One difference I've noticed is the starting point. The starting point for Orthodox anthropology is that man is created in the image and likeness of God, and total depravity describes not just the corruption from the fall, but being in a state of seeking to follow the corruption inherited from the fall as the starting point for defining what it means to be human. This could be a misunderstanding on my part and I apologize if it is, but a possible observation that I've personally made.

Also it denies man's ability to respond to God's grace. I've read a book by an Orthodox nun on the image and likeness of God where the first chapter is dedicated to freewill being the image of God's sovereignty (which is a big part of Calvinism) made manifest in men created in His image and likeness. From this perspective, total depravity denies the image and likeness of God in mankind and changes what it means to be human, and changing human nature changes the nature of how we relate to Christ in the incarination.
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« Reply #67 on: April 13, 2011, 12:33:53 PM »

One question though: Do any Calvinists you know ever doubt their own salvation while doubting others, or do they seem convinced that they are undoubtedly among the Elect?
I have prsonally known a couple - other than myself -- who doubted they were among the elect. Famously, Johnathan Edwards' uncle committed suicide because of his doubts about his own election.
I was not aware of that, and very sad indeed. For me the Calvinist I most respect is the one who doubts himself, at least a little, if he doubts everyone else. It has been my experience on Youtube, that the most well known Calvinist advocates tend to be very self assured. Maybe it's my own pride, but seeing people so convinced of their own elected status while denying other people's seemed a bit high minded and smug. 
I think their tendency is a dangerous presumption by mortals as to define where God's love & sovereignty extends. I do not see how they can get around Romans 9:14-18 in which God determines who he will have mercy on beyond our rationalized understanding. We know our call to faith in Christ but cannot presume to limit His love and sovereignty towards anyone either.

To be fair, from what I understand their logic states that Faith is proof of Election. Though they probably would not put it this way, it seems to me a little like a profession of faith is almost a symbol (a lifelong Baptism if you will) of God's predestining them to Salvation.

I think I would like to add that I am not intending to present a necessary negative impression of a "Calvinist" per se. I have known  people who will emphasize how we are not saved by works. Next, they are doing those very works (showing mercy, charity etc.) and saying that we must be "doers of the word" (per James 1:22) & I'm thinking to myself (yeah, you're right about that so what was your previous point?)
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« Reply #68 on: April 13, 2011, 01:17:23 PM »

The previous point, about not being saved "by works" is lacking in some important words.  St. Paul says that "by works of the Law" shall no man be saved, and what he meant by that was keeping the whole of the Law as given in Torah and expounded by various commentators.  The Law, in addition to certain ethical universals, also contains a good deal of what we call "ritual purity law," also the various twists that commentators have put on both the ethical universals and the ritual purity regulations; and it is specifically the keeping of these that will not save us.
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« Reply #69 on: April 13, 2011, 08:35:38 PM »

Why do you believe Total Depravity denies Christ's Grace? It is my understanding that it completely related to Grace
Un-Orthodox concepts in Total Depravity:

Monergism: The notion that man does not have to co-operate with God's gift of Grace and salvation. Compare with the Orthodox understanding of Synergism.

Sola Fide: Denial of the scriptures; the creator of this doctrine, Martin Luther, tried to remove Scriptures that contradicted it (Epistle of St. James).

Why it denies Grace:

God's preceding gift of Grace may be responded to with living faith (faith/works un-separated), or it may be rejected. Even after the Fall of Man, mankind's spiritual capacity was damaged, but not destroyed as the Calvinists assert. After the redeeming work of Christ, the gap between God and Man was bridged and man's nature was healed. Because of Christ's Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, we can choose to respond to God's Grace again.

Total Depravity declares that Christ's work did not break the bonds of sin and death, and mankind is still unable to turn towards God. Because man does not have the power to respond to God's gift of Grace, God has to force individual men to respond to Him. The rest of the Calvinist doctrines (those after "t" in "TULIP") must logically follow.

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\

Total Depravity: Denies the redemptive work of Christ in his Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, because it asserts that man is still unable to respond to God's Grace. Total Depravity is also based off of the heretical doctrine of Sola Fide, which asserts that salvation is by faith alone without works playing any role.
Response: The criticism of Faith and Works that many Protestants (Arminian and Calvinist) have is that they believe that we are "adding to Christ's finished work. That is that if Jesus gives infinity, we try to give our selves 'infinity plus 1, 5, 70', etc. via good works. Based on their misunderstanding of what we really mean, they criticize rightly. Salvation is not a meritorious action, and certainly not one which we have earned by being good.

Unconditional Election: Denies that God gives salvation because of people's faith and works, because Man cannot have true faith unless God forces him to through a process called regeneration, and works do not save. This runs contrary to Holy Scripture, which clearly teaches that a Living Faith, that is, faith lived out in works, is necessary. It also teaches the heretical doctrine of Individual Salvation, that is, that the predestined promises of the Elect are promised to predestined individuals and not the New Israel itself; this is clearly contradicted in the Holy Scriptures, through Christ's teaching on the True Vine.
Response: Read Matthew 13's account of the net. There are saved and lost individuals in any church.


Limited Atonement: The satanic notion that Christ's redemption was only effective upon individuals arbitrarily predestined to salvation. Christ's redemption changed the whole universe, and it may be accessed by anyone who chooses Him. This doctrine relies on the erroneously-founded previous two doctrines.
Response: This does not seem as harsh as some make it out to be. It appears from this understanding that at least some Calvinists acknowledge different people's profession of faith (though I realize not all do). Likewise The Orthodox church definitely believes in Predestination as God's acceptance of people's faith. By not forcing the unrepentant to choose Him, He is in a sense predestining them to Hell.

Irresistible Grace: God forces, or engineers, certain people to be saved. They have no choice in the matter. This doctrine blasphemes against the doctrine of Imagio Dei, that humans are made in the Image and Likeness of God with the ability to choose or reject union with Him. The Book of Sirach 15:15-17 reads, "If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are Life and Death, whichever he chooses shall be given to him." In Genesis 4, God tells Cain "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." God is telling Cain that he can choose to follow righteousness if he chooses; Cain demonstrates his ability to resist the God's commandments after God tells him he has the power to obey them.
Response: The basic concept of Irresistible Grace id found within God drawing people to Himself (John 6:44,65) chooses us for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13-14) among other passages


Perseverance of the Saints: Asserts what later evolved into the protestant "Once Saved Always Saved" (OSAS) doctrine, namely that if God chooses to save you, you can never reject this salvation in the future. This doctrine also denies free will and the Imagio Dei, as the previous doctrines do. It likewise denies that those who appeared to be "saved" but fell away were ever truly saved at all, thus setting up a Divine No True Scotsman fallacy.

1. Orthodoxy does not believe in Faith without Works. I understand the protestant criticism of the Vatican's merit theology, but such a criticism does not logically lead into Sola Fide. Faith and works are inseparable, because a living faith produces works; God's Grace precedes both faith and works.

2. Lost individuals who appear part of the visible church are not actually grafted onto the New Israel; there are some who may be grafted on who are not part of the visible church in a way that we can comprehend. This does not mean that we are saved alone or that the elect is individuals and not the Body itself.

3. Limited atonement has to do with ARBITRARY assignment of salvation. I am not condemning the notion of predestination as understood by the ancient Christian church, as stated in the Confession of the Council of Jerusalem I posted above in this thread.

4. I understand where they get the concept. John 6:44 and 65 only imply arbitrary predestination if you're reading it back into the text. This has to do with the will of the Father, the unity of the Godhead and Christ's granted authority, and nothing to do with the goddess Tyche. 2 Thess. 2:13-14 has nothing to do with ARBITRARY predestination, but rather predestination according to the foreknown free will of man and the promises given to the Elect, the new Israel, to whom anyone may be grafted on.

I suggest you familiarize yourself with the Orthodox position on such things. Calvinism and Orthodoxy are different Gospels. Their God is a vengeful God who arbitrarily tortures some and arbitrarily rewards others just to glorify himself, wheras the God of Orthodoxy is the Lover of All Mankind who remains humble and selfless unto all ages.

And prooftexting is un-Christian.

1) "...a living faith produces works; God's Grace precedes both faith and works." That one has to admit is a pretty standard Protestant belief.

2) I still don' see the connection between Calvinism and the Greek Goddess lady...

3) How would describe the difference between "proof-texting" and refering to Scripture?
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« Reply #70 on: April 13, 2011, 11:20:24 PM »


1) "...a living faith produces works; God's Grace precedes both faith and works." That one has to admit is a pretty standard Protestant belief.

2) I still don' see the connection between Calvinism and the Greek Goddess lady...

3) How would describe the difference between "proof-texting" and refering to Scripture?

1) Most protestants do indeed reject hard-line Sola Fide, because they know it is a logically untenable position. They still often separate faith and works, however, whereas the Orthodox do not separate them.

2. Tyche was the goddess of Stoic Fate, who governed the world according to an arbitrary, chaotic and incomprehensible will; similar to the Calvinist interpretation of Pre-Destiny. I suggest listening to this short segment from a video clip discussing true Calvinistic predestination: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1Yw1BYjFYs#t=3m19s

3. Proof-texting usually involves the assumption that all Scripture is equal, and that any verse of scripture can and ought to stand on its own, out of context. Proof-texting often involves taking a small snippet of text out of a larger context or narrative, thus allowing the text to be manipulated outside of its appropriate context.
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« Reply #71 on: April 14, 2011, 07:23:48 AM »


1) "...a living faith produces works; God's Grace precedes both faith and works." That one has to admit is a pretty standard Protestant belief.

2) I still don' see the connection between Calvinism and the Greek Goddess lady...

3) How would describe the difference between "proof-texting" and refering to Scripture?

1) Most protestants do indeed reject hard-line Sola Fide, because they know it is a logically untenable position. They still often separate faith and works, however, whereas the Orthodox do not separate them.

2. Tyche was the goddess of Stoic Fate, who governed the world according to an arbitrary, chaotic and incomprehensible will; similar to the Calvinist interpretation of Pre-Destiny. I suggest listening to this short segment from a video clip discussing true Calvinistic predestination: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1Yw1BYjFYs#t=3m19s

3. Proof-texting usually involves the assumption that all Scripture is equal, and that any verse of scripture can and ought to stand on its own, out of context. Proof-texting often involves taking a small snippet of text out of a larger context or narrative, thus allowing the text to be manipulated outside of its appropriate context.

1) Is it not possible this is just a matter of semantics by both parties? It seems to me that hardliners on both sides will talk past each other semi-intentionally for purposes of vindication. As someone on OC.net once responded to this same statement, we are all sinners, so it's possible.

2) I love David's videos, and have watched many. He makes some interesting points here. I guess I would ask waht you define as the Elect.

3) I realize that proof-texting is often defined by how say, but in that case everyone does it. I have yet to see anyone, regardless of opinion, quote the entire Bible, or even a single chapter
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« Reply #72 on: April 14, 2011, 11:22:49 AM »


1) "...a living faith produces works; God's Grace precedes both faith and works." That one has to admit is a pretty standard Protestant belief.

2) I still don' see the connection between Calvinism and the Greek Goddess lady...

3) How would describe the difference between "proof-texting" and refering to Scripture?

1) Most protestants do indeed reject hard-line Sola Fide, because they know it is a logically untenable position. They still often separate faith and works, however, whereas the Orthodox do not separate them.

2. Tyche was the goddess of Stoic Fate, who governed the world according to an arbitrary, chaotic and incomprehensible will; similar to the Calvinist interpretation of Pre-Destiny. I suggest listening to this short segment from a video clip discussing true Calvinistic predestination: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1Yw1BYjFYs#t=3m19s

3. Proof-texting usually involves the assumption that all Scripture is equal, and that any verse of scripture can and ought to stand on its own, out of context. Proof-texting often involves taking a small snippet of text out of a larger context or narrative, thus allowing the text to be manipulated outside of its appropriate context.

1) Is it not possible this is just a matter of semantics by both parties? It seems to me that hardliners on both sides will talk past each other semi-intentionally for purposes of vindication. As someone on OC.net once responded to this same statement, we are all sinners, so it's possible.

2) I love David's videos, and have watched many. He makes some interesting points here. I guess I would ask waht you define as the Elect.

3) I realize that proof-texting is often defined by how say, but in that case everyone does it. I have yet to see anyone, regardless of opinion, quote the entire Bible, or even a single chapter
1. Well, it can be semantics. But when you have, for example, Once Saved Always Saved people, it's not semantics; works are actually irrelevant to salvation. There is a distinction between Monergism (God does absolutely everything) and Synergism (we actively respond to God's Grace).

2. I would define the Elect as those who graft themselves onto the True Vine, not individuals who are arbitrarily predestined to salvation without regard for future freely-chosen faith and works.

3. Paragraphs, multiple sentences or even a framing explanation help combat prooftexting.


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« Reply #73 on: April 14, 2011, 05:16:03 PM »

As a traditional Anglican (who is certainly NOT a Calvinist), I thought I'd add a few observations...

(1) I think one can hold to a form of 'Total Depravity' without necessitating belief in absolute monergism.  Arminius and Wesley had very strong view about the helplessness of man apart from divine grace, but neither would be monergists strictly speaking.  The key is the belief in prevenient grace--God's gracious initiative and enabling power which must precede any man's response of faith and regeneration (ie man can't conjur up faith unaided).  Scriptural support would be found in places such as John 6:44   and Acts 16:14 (for example) .  Such prevenient grace was affirmed at the Second Synod of Orange in AD 529.  However, in none of the canons of Orange that I have read is there any affirmation of irresistable grace, limited atonement, unconditional election or unconditional perserverance of the saints (aka 'OSAS').  As such, Second Orange is often described as expressing the 'Semi-Augustinian' consensus of the West at the time (and I don't see anything in the canons that Eastern Christians would necessarily object to).  The 39 Articles, strictly speaking (in their literal and grammatical sense) fall into this category (though no doubt Calvinists have tried to read more into them than is actually there).

However, Calvinism, being a form of strict monergism, goes beyond this and states God must regenerate a man before he can have faith.  This regenerative grace is irresistable and the four other point of TULIP flow from this alleged necessity of monergistic regeneration (preceding inevitable faith) to overcome 'Total Depravity'.

(2) On the question of 'faith' and 'works', 'Sola fide' CAN be understood in an orthodox manner...depending on how one defines 'faith' and in what sense 'works' are used.  I could go into more detail, but I have to go in a minute, but simply put, one is not saved by works, but one will not be saved without them either.
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« Reply #74 on: April 14, 2011, 08:06:12 PM »

As a traditional Anglican (who is certainly NOT a Calvinist), I thought I'd add a few observations...

(1) I think one can hold to a form of 'Total Depravity' without necessitating belief in absolute monergism.  Arminius and Wesley had very strong view about the helplessness of man apart from divine grace, but neither would be monergists strictly speaking.  The key is the belief in prevenient grace--God's gracious initiative and enabling power which must precede any man's response of faith and regeneration (ie man can't conjur up faith unaided).  Scriptural support would be found in places such as John 6:44   and Acts 16:14 (for example) .  Such prevenient grace was affirmed at the Second Synod of Orange in AD 529.  However, in none of the canons of Orange that I have read is there any affirmation of irresistable grace, limited atonement, unconditional election or unconditional perserverance of the saints (aka 'OSAS').  As such, Second Orange is often described as expressing the 'Semi-Augustinian' consensus of the West at the time (and I don't see anything in the canons that Eastern Christians would necessarily object to).  The 39 Articles, strictly speaking (in their literal and grammatical sense) fall into this category (though no doubt Calvinists have tried to read more into them than is actually there).

However, Calvinism, being a form of strict monergism, goes beyond this and states God must regenerate a man before he can have faith.  This regenerative grace is irresistable and the four other point of TULIP flow from this alleged necessity of monergistic regeneration (preceding inevitable faith) to overcome 'Total Depravity'.

(2) On the question of 'faith' and 'works', 'Sola fide' CAN be understood in an orthodox manner...depending on how one defines 'faith' and in what sense 'works' are used.  I could go into more detail, but I have to go in a minute, but simply put, one is not saved by works, but one will not be saved without them either.
This was well said.

The Calvinists also seem to imply by their total depravity doctrine that nothing about us really changed after Christ's Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection; man still can't turn towards God, God "still" has to force people to choose him. I think this is because for Calvinists, Christ's work did not have any effect on the inner life of humanity, but rather made it possible to lift externally-assigned curses.
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« Reply #75 on: April 14, 2011, 09:36:50 PM »

As a traditional Anglican (who is certainly NOT a Calvinist), I thought I'd add a few observations...

(1) I think one can hold to a form of 'Total Depravity' without necessitating belief in absolute monergism.  Arminius and Wesley had very strong view about the helplessness of man apart from divine grace, but neither would be monergists strictly speaking.  The key is the belief in prevenient grace--God's gracious initiative and enabling power which must precede any man's response of faith and regeneration (ie man can't conjur up faith unaided).  Scriptural support would be found in places such as John 6:44   and Acts 16:14 (for example) .  Such prevenient grace was affirmed at the Second Synod of Orange in AD 529.  However, in none of the canons of Orange that I have read is there any affirmation of irresistable grace, limited atonement, unconditional election or unconditional perserverance of the saints (aka 'OSAS').  As such, Second Orange is often described as expressing the 'Semi-Augustinian' consensus of the West at the time (and I don't see anything in the canons that Eastern Christians would necessarily object to).  The 39 Articles, strictly speaking (in their literal and grammatical sense) fall into this category (though no doubt Calvinists have tried to read more into them than is actually there).

However, Calvinism, being a form of strict monergism, goes beyond this and states God must regenerate a man before he can have faith.  This regenerative grace is irresistable and the four other point of TULIP flow from this alleged necessity of monergistic regeneration (preceding inevitable faith) to overcome 'Total Depravity'.

(2) On the question of 'faith' and 'works', 'Sola fide' CAN be understood in an orthodox manner...depending on how one defines 'faith' and in what sense 'works' are used.  I could go into more detail, but I have to go in a minute, but simply put, one is not saved by works, but one will not be saved without them either.
This was well said.

The Calvinists also seem to imply by their total depravity doctrine that nothing about us really changed after Christ's Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection; man still can't turn towards God, God "still" has to force people to choose him. I think this is because for Calvinists, Christ's work did not have any effect on the inner life of humanity, but rather made it possible to lift externally-assigned curses.
If that is true of them, then they come dangerously close to denying the reaity of the Incarnation.
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« Reply #76 on: April 14, 2011, 11:37:32 PM »

Doubting Thomas,

You need to stick around, rather than posting and then lurking (or taking a vacation from the forum) for months at a time! I appreciate your input(s) Smiley
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« Reply #77 on: April 14, 2011, 11:46:54 PM »

simply put, one is not saved by works, but one will not be saved without them either.
I have heard this espoused by Orthodox faithful as well. Part of the reason I brought up semantics earlier. Thanks
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« Reply #78 on: April 15, 2011, 12:49:23 AM »

simply put, one is not saved by works, but one will not be saved without them either.
I have heard this espoused by Orthodox faithful as well. Part of the reason I brought up semantics earlier. Thanks
Often true. Sola Fide was designed to eliminate excesses produced by Merit Theology, and didn't start off quite so nuts as it later became in certain Reformed circles.
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« Reply #79 on: April 15, 2011, 05:51:31 AM »

simply put, one is not saved by works, but one will not be saved without them either.
I have heard this espoused by Orthodox faithful as well. Part of the reason I brought up semantics earlier. Thanks

My priest always says, "Faith and faithfulness go hand in hand." Smiley
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« Reply #80 on: April 15, 2011, 11:09:59 AM »

Doubting Thomas,

You need to stick around, rather than posting and then lurking (or taking a vacation from the forum) for months at a time! I appreciate your input(s) Smiley

Thanks.  Smiley
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« Reply #81 on: May 07, 2011, 11:00:44 AM »

God's preceding gift of Grace may be responded to with living faith (faith/works un-separated), or it may be rejected. Even after the Fall of Man, mankind's spiritual capacity was damaged, but not destroyed as the Calvinists assert.

 Firstly, Calvinism and the Reformed faith is not so metaphysical.  As one Calvinist put it to me, Calvinist theology is not the theology of the "natural man" or the "old Adam".   
  Calvinists do believe in free will.  The Westminster Confession of Faith confirms this.

Quote
Total Depravity: Denies the redemptive work of Christ in his Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, because it asserts that man is still unable to respond to God's Grace. Total Depravity is also based off of the heretical doctrine of Sola Fide, which asserts that salvation is by faith alone without works playing any role.   

    Nobody who is educated seriously in the Lutheran or Reformed theology would reduce salvation to only justification like that.    For the Reformers, one could have assurance they were justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of what works they had done.  This does not mean that works would not follow from this faith, merely that salvation cannot be reduced to some kind of legalism or merit-making.

Quote
This runs contrary to Holy Scripture, which clearly teaches that a Living Faith, that is, faith lived out in works, is necessary.

  Do the Scriptures really teach this?  What "works" did the good thief do on the cross to prove he was saved?  Certainly he did not saying 10 Hail Mary's and 5 Our Fathers.  The only "work" he did was repentence (and we cannot even be sure how deep that was), and yet he is justified in Christ's sight and saved.  Reformers don't see repentence as a work one does to please God, rather they see it as something God does to us.

Quote
Limited Atonement: The satanic notion that Christ's redemption was only effective upon individuals arbitrarily predestined to salvation. Christ's redemption changed the whole universe, and it may be accessed by anyone who chooses Him. 

  If Christ's redemption has changed the whole universe, why is there still sin and death in the world?  It would seem this new creation through Christ is being applied to some and not others, wouldn't it?

Quote
3. Limited atonement has to do with ARBITRARY assignment of salvation. I am not condemning the notion of predestination as understood by the ancient Christian church, as stated in the Confession of the Council of Jerusalem I posted above in this thread.

   I have a Calvinist friend who definitely would disagree with the idea that God's assignment is ever arbitrary.  God's decrees are perfect, not arbitrary, because of who God is.   Again, Calvinism is not a theology of the Old Adam.

Quote
I suggest you familiarize yourself with the Orthodox position on such things. Calvinism and Orthodoxy are different Gospels. Their God is a vengeful God who arbitrarily tortures some and arbitrarily rewards others just to glorify himself, wheras the God of Orthodoxy is the Lover of All Mankind who remains humble and selfless unto all ages. 

  And they would argue that the Orthodox view of God too often is not strong enough to save anyone and depends too much on human effort, they might argue how is this even a Gospel- Good News, at all?   The  Thomist  ideas about how salvation works are "good advice" but hardly "Good News".  Advice is not always helpful to somebody who is lost in sin, and thus the Reformations doctrines do not merely reflect philosophical speculation more importantly they reflect on human experience.

  I do not necessarily agree with everything about Calvinism but too often it is not understood on its own terms, nor is the appreciation always there for the Reformed faith as a living tradition with theological development.
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« Reply #82 on: May 07, 2011, 12:05:38 PM »

Total Depravity: Denies the redemptive work of Christ in his Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, because it asserts that man is still unable to respond to God's Grace. Total Depravity is also based off of the heretical doctrine of Sola Fide, which asserts that salvation is by faith alone without works playing any role.   

    Nobody who is educated seriously in the Lutheran or Reformed theology would reduce salvation to only justification like that.    For the Reformers, one could have assurance they were justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of what works they had done.  This does not mean that works would not follow from this faith, merely that salvation cannot be reduced to some kind of legalism or merit-making.

This is true. From what I've seen, God does everything and we do nothing, God is all powerful and we are incapable of doing anything good, there is nothing good that dwells within us. At the slightest hint that we have to do something, and yes we are responsible for how we react to God's grace, it gets twisted into works-righteousness and a denial of God's sovereignty and omnipotence. If they were combating the excesses of "merit" theology and indulgences, then they just replaced one lie with another.

Quote
Quote
This runs contrary to Holy Scripture, which clearly teaches that a Living Faith, that is, faith lived out in works, is necessary.

  Do the Scriptures really teach this?  What "works" did the good thief do on the cross to prove he was saved?  Certainly he did not saying 10 Hail Mary's and 5 Our Fathers.  The only "work" he did was repentence (and we cannot even be sure how deep that was), and yet he is justified in Christ's sight and saved.
 

He did everything that he was capable of doing at the time with what short life he had left. He's an example of the laborer hired at the eleventh hour.

Quote
Reformers don't see repentence as a work one does to please God, rather they see it as something God does to us.

It's both.

Quote
Quote
Limited Atonement: The satanic notion that Christ's redemption was only effective upon individuals arbitrarily predestined to salvation. Christ's redemption changed the whole universe, and it may be accessed by anyone who chooses Him. 

  If Christ's redemption has changed the whole universe, why is there still sin and death in the world?  It would seem this new creation through Christ is being applied to some and not others, wouldn't it?

But everyone has access to that salvation. Sin and death are still in the world because this world has not fully passed away. All of creation groans in travail awaiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of the body.

Quote
Quote
3. Limited atonement has to do with ARBITRARY assignment of salvation. I am not condemning the notion of predestination as understood by the ancient Christian church, as stated in the Confession of the Council of Jerusalem I posted above in this thread.

   I have a Calvinist friend who definitely would disagree with the idea that God's assignment is ever arbitrary.  God's decrees are perfect, not arbitrary, because of who God is.   Again, Calvinism is not a theology of the Old Adam.

God doesn't see things the way we see them. He knows the beginning from the end. Being outside of time and the creator of time, he knows what we will do before we do it. This does not change our free will. Saying that God knows the end and knows who will answer His call is different than saying "God picked person A and not person B and that's just how it is".

Quote
Quote
I suggest you familiarize yourself with the Orthodox position on such things. Calvinism and Orthodoxy are different Gospels. Their God is a vengeful God who arbitrarily tortures some and arbitrarily rewards others just to glorify himself, wheras the God of Orthodoxy is the Lover of All Mankind who remains humble and selfless unto all ages. 

  And they would argue that the Orthodox view of God too often is not strong enough to save anyone and depends too much on human effort, they might argue how is this even a Gospel- Good News, at all?   The  Thomist  ideas about how salvation works are "good advice" but hardly "Good News".  Advice is not always helpful to somebody who is lost in sin, and thus the Reformations doctrines do not merely reflect philosophical speculation more importantly they reflect on human experience.

And they are wrong.

Quote
I do not necessarily agree with everything about Calvinism but too often it is not understood on its own terms, nor is the appreciation always there for the Reformed faith as a living tradition with theological development.

Orthodoxy and Calvinism are not two different ways of saying the same thing. There are some similarities in that God is the Almighty, but not in a way that denies our free will or the potential for the repentence of every human being eveer created by Him. The language used can be quite different, and in some instances it might be a case of using different language to say the same thing, but overall it is a case of using different language to express a different belief.
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« Reply #83 on: May 07, 2011, 02:58:02 PM »

This is true. From what I've seen, God does everything and we do nothing, God is all powerful and we are incapable of doing anything good, there is nothing good that dwells within us. At the slightest hint that we have to do something, and yes we are responsible for how we react to God's grace, it gets twisted into works-righteousness and a denial of God's sovereignty and omnipotence.  

   Please note for Anglicans and Lutherans that definitely is not the case, even though I agree for the Reformed faith there is more of that tone overall.    I think a Lutheran or Anglican would say one goes to church and participates in sacraments and a prayer life to increase and preserve ones faith.

  Keep in mind Jesus Christ talks about people who do "good works" in his name and yet he rejects them at the Last Judgement because they were not done faithfully in love.  Merely doing things out of a sense of duty, pride, fear, or religiosity is not pleasing to God and earns us nothing.

Quote
He did everything that he was capable of doing at the time with what short life he had left. He's an example of the laborer hired at the eleventh hour.  


  Fair enough, I just have trouble seeing this as a "work".   I believe this is truely a case of Orthodox and Protestant Christians having different terminology.  It really is down to Orthodox having a less juridical understanding of salvation, I suppose.  OTOH, sometimes I think the Orthodox clergy and teaching can obfuscate the nature of salvation, that is cannot be merited through propitiating God and comes through a Person, not "religiosity".  And all the talk of "healing" in Orthodox convert and apologist rhetoric obscures the reality that Orthodox piety has juridical language at times, such as "punishment" and so forth.

Quote
But everyone has access to that salvation. Sin and death are still in the world because this world has not fully passed away. All of creation groans in travail awaiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of the body.

  "Everyone"?  Well, we have no way of knowing absolutely, that a pagan living off in a desert island has access to salvation, short of something miraculous, the normal means of salvation is through the Church, even many Protestants agree with that.

Quote
God doesn't see things the way we see them. He knows the beginning from the end. Being outside of time and the creator of time, he knows what we will do before we do it. This does not change our free will. Saying that God knows the end and knows who will answer His call is different than saying "God picked person A and not person B and that's just how it is".

 If God creates everybody, and he knows beforehand who will go to heaven and hell, in what sense is it not true that God causes people to go to heaven or hell?  I see only two possibilities, God creates some predestined to heaven or hell due to his choice, or there is no God that creates.  Or a third possibility, , everybody goes to heaven, or everybody goes to hell, or heaven and hell are incorrect concepts for the afterlife.

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« Reply #84 on: May 07, 2011, 03:00:55 PM »

Calvinists do believe in free will.  The Westminster Confession of Faith confirms this.

Not all Calvinists profess or hold the Westminster Confession of Faith as a major part of their dogma.

The Canons of Dort, and to a lesser extent the Belgic Confession, are explicitly clear that man is incapable of choosing God, and have no free will to do so.

In Orthodoxy we believe in Synergy between Man and God. God provided the means to salvation, but we have to carry it out with his help. Calvinism teaches that Man has essentially no role in our salvation, and God carries out our salvation on our behalf, and we have no real role in the matter. (After all, to say otherwise would deny God's sovereignty.)
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« Reply #85 on: May 07, 2011, 04:42:46 PM »

This is true. From what I've seen, God does everything and we do nothing, God is all powerful and we are incapable of doing anything good, there is nothing good that dwells within us. At the slightest hint that we have to do something, and yes we are responsible for how we react to God's grace, it gets twisted into works-righteousness and a denial of God's sovereignty and omnipotence.  

   Please note for Anglicans and Lutherans that definitely is not the case, even though I agree for the Reformed faith there is more of that tone overall.    I think a Lutheran or Anglican would say one goes to church and participates in sacraments and a prayer life to increase and preserve ones faith.

  Keep in mind Jesus Christ talks about people who do "good works" in his name and yet he rejects them at the Last Judgement because they were not done faithfully in love.  Merely doing things out of a sense of duty, pride, fear, or religiosity is not pleasing to God and earns us nothing.

Two points. First, we still have to do good works, we just have to do them for the right reasons and with love. Second, Christ doesn't say "good works" but "mighty works" which is literally the greek "dynamis" speaking more of power than goodness.

Quote
Quote
He did everything that he was capable of doing at the time with what short life he had left. He's an example of the laborer hired at the eleventh hour.  


  Fair enough, I just have trouble seeing this as a "work".   I believe this is truely a case of Orthodox and Protestant Christians having different terminology.  It really is down to Orthodox having a less juridical understanding of salvation, I suppose.  OTOH, sometimes I think the Orthodox clergy and teaching can obfuscate the nature of salvation, that is cannot be merited through propitiating God and comes through a Person, not "religiosity".  And all the talk of "healing" in Orthodox convert and apologist rhetoric obscures the reality that Orthodox piety has juridical language at times, such as "punishment" and so forth.

Salvation has many aspects to it because sin has many aspects to it. As far as "works" go, we don't do good works so that God "owes" us anything in return, we do them because that is what we are supposed to do and a refusal to do them is a refusal to follow Christ.

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Quote
But everyone has access to that salvation. Sin and death are still in the world because this world has not fully passed away. All of creation groans in travail awaiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of the body.

  "Everyone"?  Well, we have no way of knowing absolutely, that a pagan living off in a desert island has access to salvation, short of something miraculous, the normal means of salvation is through the Church, even many Protestants agree with that.

Yes. The normal means of salvation is within the Church, even though we probably define that differently, but that does not mean that a pagan who never heard the name of Jesus Christ doesn't have that natural law written in their heart by which they will be held responsible for following. In the parable of the talents, the men weren't judged by what they were given, but by what they did with what they were given.

Quote
Quote
God doesn't see things the way we see them. He knows the beginning from the end. Being outside of time and the creator of time, he knows what we will do before we do it. This does not change our free will. Saying that God knows the end and knows who will answer His call is different than saying "God picked person A and not person B and that's just how it is".

 If God creates everybody, and he knows beforehand who will go to heaven and hell, in what sense is it not true that God causes people to go to heaven or hell?  I see only two possibilities, God creates some predestined to heaven or hell due to his choice, or there is no God that creates.  Or a third possibility, , everybody goes to heaven, or everybody goes to hell, or heaven and hell are incorrect concepts for the afterlife.

Hell exists because we were created with free will to choose to follow or reject God. In Him we live and move and have our being. To reject Him is to reject life itself. The God who wills for all to be saved didn't create people for the express purpose of tormenting them eternally. God didn't create us for the purpose of destroying all of us. If God just "sent" everyone to heaven, it would deny our freedom in loving God.

If man is made in the image and likeness of God, then how is God's sovereignty made manifest in us?
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« Reply #86 on: May 07, 2011, 06:58:28 PM »


The link in your last post is broken: "No such file (give_legacy_article)"

Apologies.

Here is a link through The WayBack Machine

http://web.archive.org/web/20070615044339/http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a39eba91950c3.htm

That link is no longer working. Which of his essays is this from?
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« Reply #87 on: May 09, 2011, 12:36:26 AM »

Quote
Total Depravity: Denies the redemptive work of Christ in his Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, because it asserts that man is still unable to respond to God's Grace. Total Depravity is also based off of the heretical doctrine of Sola Fide, which asserts that salvation is by faith alone without works playing any role.  

    Nobody who is educated seriously in the Lutheran or Reformed theology would reduce salvation to only justification like that.    For the Reformers, one could have assurance they were justified before God by faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of what works they had done.  This does not mean that works would not follow from this faith, merely that salvation cannot be reduced to some kind of legalism or merit-making.

I'm speaking of this doctrine as understood by 5 point Calvinists, not Lutherans or moderate Presbyterians.

[1.]Do the Scriptures really teach this?  [2.]What "works" did the good thief do on the cross to prove he was saved?  Certainly he did not saying 10 Hail Mary's and 5 Our Fathers.  [3.]The only "work" he did was repentence (and we cannot even be sure how deep that was), and yet he is justified in Christ's sight and saved.  Reformers don't see repentence as a work one does to please God, rather they see it as something God does to us.
1. Yes. Read the Law, Psalms, Prophets, Gospels, St. James and ALL of Paul.
2. He didn't have to prove he was saved to anyone.
3. Orthodox don't see repentance as a work one does to please God, rather they see it as something God works (energizes) in us, through Synergy, with our response to God's Grace.

Quote
Limited Atonement: The satanic notion that Christ's redemption was only effective upon individuals arbitrarily predestined to salvation. Christ's redemption changed the whole universe, and it may be accessed by anyone who chooses Him.  

If Christ's redemption has changed the whole universe, why is there still sin and death in the world?  It would seem this new creation through Christ is being applied to some and not others, wouldn't it?

According to St. Athanasius, demonic attacks and presence were put to flight compared to B.C. following the Resurrection, and even in his day this persisted. He observed a before/after. I trust him.

St. Ephrem the Syrian writes,

"The Cross abolished idolatrous adulation, enlightened the whole universe, gathered all the nations into one Church and united them with love... By this holy armor of the Cross Christ the Lord has terminated the all-consuming bowels of Hades and blocked the many snares in the mouth of the devil. Having seen the Cross, death trembled and released everyone whom she possessed with the first creature... By the Cross the Almighty One bestowed unspeakable blessings on humanity!"

Quote
3. Limited atonement has to do with ARBITRARY assignment of salvation. I am not condemning the notion of predestination as understood by the ancient Christian church, as stated in the Confession of the Council of Jerusalem I posted above in this thread.
I have a Calvinist friend who definitely would disagree with the idea that God's assignment is ever arbitrary.  God's decrees are perfect, not arbitrary, because of who God is. Again, Calvinism is not a theology of the Old Adam.
Then your friend needs to read some John Calvin.

If God decrees something abritrarily, and that thing ceases to be arbitrary only because God does it and everything God does has to be perfect, you've reached a cause/effect absurdity. By that logic, God could slay all the righteous people on the earth, leaving only the evil, and it would be perfectly in accord with who God is because everything he does is perfect. The problem with that logic is that GOD REVEALED HIMSELF TO US IN JESUS CHRIST. And that revelation is not a lie, it is our salvation. If God merely pretended to reveal himself in Christ, being a completely different being behind the scenes, then our salvation is a lie. Perhaps Calvinists get around this by unofficially, unconciously separating the wills of the Father and the Son, which is obviously heresy.

Orthodoxy is the faith founded by the New Adam, so you don't have to tell me about the Old Adam being out of style.

And they would argue that the Orthodox view of God too often is not strong enough to save anyone and depends too much on human effort
Yes, they would argue that. And they would be wrong. They're the ones offering aspirin to people in need of heart transplants.
The  Thomist  ideas about how salvation works are "good advice" but hardly "Good News".  Advice is not always helpful to somebody who is lost in sin, and thus the Reformations doctrines do not merely reflect philosophical speculation more importantly they reflect on human experience.
If John Calvin wanted to avoid philosophical speculation, he shouldn't have written the Institutes.
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« Reply #88 on: May 09, 2011, 01:34:06 AM »

Nice stuff Daedelus and Melodist. Good to see some real discussion rather than polemics.
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« Reply #89 on: May 09, 2011, 10:06:01 PM »

Not to make a side-note, but is Calvinism as hugely apparent in America as posts on this board seem to suggest? I've never truly met a Calvinist in all my life, (I honestly haven" living all of it in Denver, Colorado - though I admit I'm young! My only, one, actual encounter with a Calvinist was when my World Religions teacher in high school invited a Calvinist to speak in our class; he came in to class with his black garments and collar, like an actual priest, walked up to the podium, pointed to the entire class with his finger in a half-circular, sweeping motion from left to right, and said "All of you are going to Hell" and promptly, as if it was part of his spiel, pulled out a cigarette and lit it, leaning forward on the podium. Our teacher very quickly and forcefully "asked" him to leave, needless to say. But my question truly is, is this theology so prevalent in our country? I've never encountered it in an organic way - i.e. in any kind of religious group considering their own doctrine - ever. I've "encountered" protestant Christian groups?! I know what they're all about (Lord have mercy upon their beautiful intentions!), and they all "hate" (not truly "hate," but "REGRET-") Calvinist theology. They've all told me they "hate" ("regret," as they correct themselves), Calvinists, purposely making themselves distinct from it because of its somewhat-gross implications. But, then again, this is just in the locations local to me. Which is the problem - how widespread is this ideology? B/c I have never found it but once in my own enclosed, Orthodox, society - fighting against it. Which is fine (I have the Orthodox interpretation!)
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