OrthodoxChristianity.net
October 21, 2014, 11:17:46 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Dealing with Calvinist Uncle...  (Read 1587 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Justinian
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: GOA
Posts: 176


« on: August 27, 2006, 12:21:56 AM »

I have a Extreme Calvinist Uncle who has been challenging me about my Orthodox beliefs and posed a couple questions:

1. He challenged me with the Calvinist belief of Predestination. He uses scripture to prove this where Christ says "no one comes to me unless sent by the Father". He claims the Father "elects" believers, and free will has no part in it. He compared it to the Orthodox view of Cooperative Grace where we (humans) use our free will to accept the Truth and cooperate with the will of God and become believers. He asked me if it was all up to our free will and all have the potential to become Christians, why do some accept and some don't. I stated because sin blinds us. He then brought up that if it was because of sin, why do some grave sinners come to Christ, while others of much less "esteemed" sinful lives still reject God's grace.He stated that the reason must be that God elects some and damns others. I do not know how to challenge this.

2. He also brought up prayers for the dead and why we pray for sinners even though they will be damned for not having faith. I have much trouble explaining prayers for dead sinners, this has always been a problem for me when I'm tested and I'm always short of an answer.


Thanks

In XC,
Justinian
« Last Edit: August 27, 2006, 12:40:07 AM by Justinian » Logged

"All this indignation have I hurled, At the pretending part of the proud world. Who, swollen with selfish vanity devise: false freedoms, holy cheats, and formal lies, Over their fellow slaves to tyrannize." - John Wilmot
Anastasios
Webdespota
Administrator
Merarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek Old Calendarist
Posts: 10,487


Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina

anastasios0513
WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2006, 12:35:50 AM »

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/inq_reformed.aspx

first article is specifically about predestination.
Logged

Please Buy My Book!

Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.
Anastasios
Webdespota
Administrator
Merarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek Old Calendarist
Posts: 10,487


Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina

anastasios0513
WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2006, 12:37:36 AM »

The following is not a real scholarly argument but one I enjoy for shock value:

if God predestines some for salvation and others for damnation, and a sign of election is coming to knowledge of truth and conversion, and knowledge of truth of course means being orthodox (not Orthodox) in doctrine from a Calvinist point of view, given that most Calvinists are Northern Europeans and Koreans, this means that God has elected almost all Hispanics and Blacks to damnation, and hence, God is a racist.

Anastasios
Logged

Please Buy My Book!

Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.
Ιωάννης
OC.net Peon, Patron Saint of Gyros' and All Tzatziki
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Catechumen
Jurisdiction: Γ.Ο.Χ.
Posts: 35

O Father John, pray to Christ our God for us!


WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2006, 01:07:22 AM »

I was reading across this board and one Fr. Averky gave an interesting answer that you may want to pose to your uncle:

http://www.monachos.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-1609.html

He says:

You have been given some well-researched answers by others, and I hope that this will help to answer your question. Unlike Western Christianity, the Orthdodox church tends much less to "dogmatize" when it come to questions such as yours. The Western churches have more of a tendency to put everything into a neat, orderly and logical package. If you were to get to know Orthodoxy well, you would would find that to our Western counterparts, we seem to be a total mess, yet we seem to be very comfortable with our Christianity, and having very much the sense of being God's children, we leave much to the Mystery who is God. This is a simplistic answer, but it is true

The average Orthodox Christian does not concern himself if he might be "predestined" or not, and he certainly does not and could not have a notion of receiving salvation whether he wanted it or not ( Irresistable Grace) as is Calvin's idea. Nor could he imagine that if he was not among the Elect, that no matter how much he tried he would still be among the damned, again, Calvin's notion. The life of the Orthodox Christian is seen as a steady progression on the path to salvation, which is accomplished, by tears, sorrows and repentance and has as an impotant basis, love for God and neighbor, A perfect example of the Christian life is the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, for the Pharisee is most of us, proud, uncaring and unloving for others, feeling "justified" in our small efforts, and looking down on the "low-lifes", the sinners of this world. He is a "good person," paying his taxes, never breaking the law, faithful to his wife and supportive of the governement. On the other hand, the Publican stands way in the back of the synagouge, and striking his breast, can only beg for God's mercy, and as Christ Himself tells us, it is his prayer which justified him and is plessing to God, for he is sincere and acknowledges that he is a sinner. If we live our lives in a Christian manner, we need not concern ourselves if we be among the elect or not. In the long run of things, Christ has come again, He has judged the living and the dead, and we have either reached salvation or condemned ourselves, but that is in the framework of eternity, so we still toil in this life and in the time God has given us. may we use it well.


I think that very well puts the Orthodox Christian position into perspective. I understand how hard it is to deal with Calvinists. I had an orthodox Presbyterian friend who was on fire. We would always get into heated arguments - whew!

As for praying for the reposed, point out to your uncle that his rejection of praying for the dead is a rather recent innovation. If we consult most of the components of Holy Tradition, we find in Liturgies, Scripture, and writings of the Church Fathers exhortations and prayers for them. Here are some examples:

From the ancient Syrian Liturgy of St. James, it says: "we commemorate all the faithful dead who have died in the true faith...We ask, we entreat, we pray Christ our God, who took their souls and spirits to Himself, that by His many compassions He will make them worthy of the pardon of their faults and the remission of their sins"

Furthermore, early Christian inscriptions demonstrate how this practice finds its roots in the early church. For instance, you find what are called "acclamatory" prayers addressed to those who have died, not directly to God, wishing for them some benefit. But then there are also formal prayers addressed to a person of the Godhead or an angel asking again for a type of benefit.

Point out, also, to your uncle that John Calvin acknowledged that it was a faith of the ancient church, albeit still condemning it. "For over thirteen hundred years it was the approved practice to pray for the deceased. All ancients fell into error; it was something human and therefore what they did must not be imitated." (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3,5,10).

We understand that after death, the soul endures through the experience of purification and through our prayers, brought closer to God. We don't define "purgatory" and tend to stay away from the rather papistic, legalistic tendancies. However, this is all assuming that we're coming from this stern, worldly Calvinist perspective on death itself. Those who have reposed are not just simply dead bodies, because our God is the God of the Living. This seems to be a big stumbling block for Protestants approaching Orthodox perspectives on the grave (such as veneration of relics, praying for the repose, etc. etc.)

Hopefully that helped some. Keep us posted on what more your uncle has to say!

Peace be with you on your journey,
Ioannis
Logged

I have seen how men of scant means enriched themselves by living with the poor in spirit, and forgot their first poverty. - Holy St. John Climacus
Fr. David
The Poster Formerly Known as "Pedro"
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA, Diocese of the South
Posts: 2,828



WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2006, 02:32:17 AM »

"no one comes to me unless sent by the Father".

I believe the verse says, "No one comes to me unless the Father draws him."  You can counter by saying that you absolutely believe that the Father must draw us to Himself, but that the verse also says that we must still come.  Nowhere in that verse does it say that all that the Father draws will come; only that all those who do choose to come will only act on the drawing of the Father.

Quote
He asked me if it was all up to our free will and all have the potential to become Christians, why do some accept and some don't.

First, it is not "all up to our free will."  God initiates, accompanies, and finishes the work of our salvation--it is God who is at work in us, St. Paul says--but we must still work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  So his conception that we can do anything apart from God's grace is inaccurate.

As to why some grave sinners accept Christ and some "lesser sinners" don't, I would point out to your uncle that the belief that we can judge the hearts of other men is false--not only false, but dangerously prideful.  It could be that someone rejects formal faith in Christ because all they've known of Christianity was from the mouth of a verbally abusive, Bible-thumping fundamentalist parent, or an ignorant, pushy televangelist.  It may be that they are searching for Truth, Love, and Compassion within their own heart and, when Christ appears on that Last Day as the pure revelation of that Truth, Love and Compassion, the supposed "grave sinner" will be the one saved, for his heart will respond gladly to Christ as He is.  Likewise, some "respectable people" within society may secretly be the most hurtful, vindictive, hateful human beings out there and may wind up in hell in spite of making an appearance in church every Sunday.

If "the reason must be that God elects some and damns others," then ask why God would create a human being who had no purpose in existence other than to be a log to stoke hell's fire with for all eternity.  Why would a supposedly loving God create someone for the sole purpose of damning them?  Such a god is a monster, not the Father Christ showed us.

Quote
2. He also brought up prayers for the dead and why we pray for sinners even though they will be damned for not having faith. I have much trouble explaining prayers for dead sinners, this has always been a problem for me when I'm tested and I'm always short of an answer.

We pray for departed sinners (they're not dead; see Lk. 20:37-8) for the same reason that we don't judge people in this life--we don't know where they are with God, and so we pray for all men, understanding that we are simply commanded to bring our brothers and sisters in humanity before the throne of God in prayer.  Sometimes our requests are granted; other times they are not.  Our objective, therefore, is not to "pray someone into the Kingdom," either in this life or the next; our objective is to remember men in all stages of their relationship with God, and to constantly request that God have mercy on behalf of us all; in so doing, we love our neighbor as ourselves.
Logged

Priest in the Orthodox Church in America - ordained on March 18, 2012

Oh Taste and See (my defunct blog)

From Protestant to Orthodox (my conversion story)
donkeyhotay
Member
***
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek
Posts: 106

"God, Who provides for all, will not desert us"


« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2006, 09:36:19 AM »

Your uncle is a hyper-Calvinist.  IMO, you're wasting your time talking to him.

Next time he starts talking about predestination, toss a glass of water in his face.  Then tell him, "Hey, Uncle, don't get mad at me.  God predestined that to happen.  I have no free will."

Logged

A dog is better than I am, for he has love and does not judge.
-Abba Xanthias
Sloga
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Christian
Jurisdiction: Serbian Orthodox Church
Posts: 830



« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2006, 11:00:17 AM »

I've always gotten the feeling that God gives and takes oppurtunities away, but ultimaately it's our choice what to do with them. Predestination to me seems so horribly off track from Christianity, quite frankly I'm ammused at the fact your uncle believes that.

Pedro is right about praying for the "dead". You don't know where they are, but you wish them the best. I don't see what's wrong about praying and wanting fellow humanbeings to have their sins forgiven. Even your "enemies". IMO, your showing a level of humanity that today the world lacks, caring for others.
Logged

Христе Боже, Распети и Свети!

"In the history of the human race there have been three principal falls: that of Adam, that of Judas, and that of the pope." Saint Justin Popovic
Justinian
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: GOA
Posts: 176


« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2006, 02:21:30 AM »

Thank you all for your replies!

He did not respond too well with what I said, then a week later he stooped by my dorm and gave two books, "Three Views on Evangelicalism and Orthodoxy" and "The Church in Emerging Culture", both of which contain essays from his Calvinist hero Michael Horton.

Has anyone read these books? In it, Horton accuses the Orthodox belief of being corrupted by "Neo-Platoism" and says that Orthodox totally overlook Romans Chapter 5, and if Christ will come to judge us in the end, how does this fit in the Orthodox understanding of atonement which rejects the courtroom debt model. He also accuses of not coming to terms with our "sin", we think too little of it. He also claims that Augustine was one of the first reformers!!?? What would be the Orthodox response to these judgements?

Thanks,
In XC
Justinian
Logged

"All this indignation have I hurled, At the pretending part of the proud world. Who, swollen with selfish vanity devise: false freedoms, holy cheats, and formal lies, Over their fellow slaves to tyrannize." - John Wilmot
CRCulver
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Church of Finland and Romanian Orthodox Church
Posts: 1,159


St Stephen of Perm, missionary to speakers of Komi


WWW
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2006, 07:11:36 AM »

See my review of the Zodervan book on Amazon. Horton's coverage of Orthodoxy is muddled, but none of the commentators in the book seems to know what's going on or what they should have expected from their partners in debate, so the whole thing is a waste.
Logged
Esteban
Member
***
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Posts: 99



« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2006, 11:35:19 PM »

Dear Justinian,

Concerning the charge of Neo-platonism often wielded against the divine and saving teaching of the Orthodox Church, I would like to recommend the following articles, written in response to such claims:

Salvation by Christ, by Carmen Fragapane

The Transformation of Hellenistic Thought on the Cosmos and Man in the Greek Fathers, by Father Gregory Telepneff and Bishop (now Archbishop) Chrysostomos of Etna

Book-length treatments of the larger issue include Dr. Constantine Cavarnos' The Hellenic-Christian Philosophical Tradition (Belmont:Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1989), and Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan's Gifford Lectures, Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1995).

Incidentally, you might remind your Uncle that accussing early Christian teaching of Neo-platonism was a favorite diversion of liberal scholars in the 19th and early 20th centuries, which prompted J. Gresham Machen to compose and publish his famous Sprunt Lectures, entitled The Origin of Paul's Religion.

St Augustine was not, of course, a Reformed theologian in any sense of the word, although the Reformation (both Lutheran and Reformed) looked back to him as a fundamental source and authority. While he did teach a doctrine of positive predestination (developed as a response to the Pelagian heresy), this is not the same as that of Luther, Calvin, and the Reformed confessions, as was demonstrated by Latin scholar Fr. Portalié in his study A Guide to the Thought of St Augustine (Westport:Greenwood Press, 1960; cfr. pages 213-229). The problem, as the late Mildred Bangs Wynkoop put commented quite astutely her fascinating little book Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology, is that what for St Augustine was the conclusion of a speculative, tentative theological argument, became the undisputed foundation of Reformed soteriology.

I agree with Christopher Culver that Thee Views on Evangelicalism and Orthodoxy is largely a waste of reading time. Several worthwhile insights may be gleaned from the articles and responses by Fathers Vladimir Berzonsky and Edward Rommen, but one's energy would be better spent pursuit other, more theologically solvent works.

I hope this is helpful.

With love in Christ,
Esteban (Julio)
« Last Edit: October 23, 2006, 12:13:46 AM by Esteban » Logged

"This life has been given to you for repentance. Do not waste it in vain pursuits."

--St Isaac the Syrian
Tags: salvation 
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.093 seconds with 37 queries.