Posted by: DIS | March 23, 2017

Let the Wicked forsake his Ways! Part 2

 


Responses

  1. Yes, I agree with you about Pelagius… I find it interesting that the Eastern Orthodox tradition upholds free will and fought the Roman church about this issue.

    The Eastern Christians took issue with the Western Christian dogmas very early in the history of the church and finally split in the Great Schism of 1053 because of the unbiblical doctrines taught in the West.

    The core Eastern teachings are still Apostolic and while the Eastern Orthodox Church has iconography and liturgy – it retains a biblical soteriology.

    Their soteriology and eschatology are firmly rooted in the apostolic authority.

    When we understand that the Christians in the East believe doctrines which are 180 degrees opposite to what the Western Christians believe … then we know something is seriously out of kilter and one of the traditions has to be wrong!

    I am not advocating for the Eastern Orthodoxy which has it’s serious issues too; but urging everyone to take a serious look to see if what they believe is the apostolic gospel as taught by Jesus and the Apostles.

    I continue to study and learn and line up what I believe with the teachings of our Saviour and His appointed apostolic authority. It’s quite a journey but the best journey I have ever taken.

    Thank you for doing the same.

    Grace and peace

  2. Dear Brothers,

    Perhaps you would like to comment on the following which is an extraction form the writings of Jay Dyer (Jay’s Analysis)?

    Eastern Orthodox theology does not begin with asinine 17th century polemics about penal states of “justification” (as does the West).

    The starting place for theology is the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity and Incarnation as exemplified and correctly exposited at the Ecumenical Councils of the first 1,000 years: All theologizing then flows from this.

    When St. Athanasius debated with the Arians, his Discourses Against the Arians make it clear the way theology is done is to ground it on its Christological/soteriological implications. In the West as a whole, including Calvinism and Thomism in particular, there are numerous absurdities that arise from these presuppositional starting points, and the starting point and common ground between these two kissing cousins is a faulty Triadology and Christology
    .
    Calvinism, for example, professes that man in his state of innocence in Eden was placed in a “covenant of works” where his “nature” was righteous and could potentially “merit” a secure salvation or immortality for his seed. When Adam sinned, he became inherently corrupt, with all of the motions of his heart and acts being in some degree tainted by evil, to use the language of the Westminster Confession. Evil is thus determinately necessary and thus some real, ontological aspect of man’s nature, post-Fall. The image of God was therefore lost to the degree that man’s heart produces only evil.

    So a “new man” had to come and fulfil this “covenant of works,” and reverse the determinate power of evil passed on through natural conception. This “man” is Jesus of Nazareth, who in time and space perfectly kept all the laws of Moses, and thus “merited perfect righteousness” from the Father as a human subject (Nestorian). Our debt and sin have provoked the hatred of God for the human race, which is our *natural state* (which God creates, and immediately hates – Manichaeanism) and this infinite wrath is imputed to Christ, while the legal state He earned is imputed to us, they argue. There is no Calvinist theologian who has ever proposed that this imputed state – something clearly created – is a divine energy. There is no Calvinist theologian who has ever proposed that Christ’s humanity was deified by divine energy.

    Thus, what we have is a rabidly Nestorian system where a human subject or hypostasis keeps the “covenant of works” and merits a created legal state, which is quite obviously NOT a real theosis. It is a moral conjunction theory of both the Incarnation and our salvation – word-for-word Nestorianism, as the Letters of St. Cyril Against Nestorius make clear.

    The Arians, as mentioned above, were proto-Nestorians and differed little in their heresy from Nestorius. In their view, Jesus of Nazareth was a holy man, a creature damned and rejected by the Father at the Cross. Arians thereby realized what Calvinists don’t, that it’s senseless, stupid and blasphemous to say that God damns Himself. In response, they imagined a polytheistic scheme where the righteous dude ‘Jesus’ achieves apotheosis as a man-god hybrid that underwent the rejection of his heavenly Father. Nestorius, by slight contrast, taught Jesus was a human person/personal subject who, through being a totally righteous dude, achieved a gracious, moral union with the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity and it was this man who suffered and died. As mentioned above, Calvinists usually opt for saying the humanity of Christ was damned – that human subject who merited the righteousness and suffers under the “infinite wrath” as the Larger Catechism says. Thus, Calvinism is merely a variation on the Arian and Nestorian views. What all of these heterodox views have in common is that Jesus of Nazareth is not a divine Person. The Orthodox view of Scripture and the Councils repeated oft and in every liturgy is the sole subject of all the incarnate actions is the Logos. There’s no one else there.

    If this Ecumenical Dogma were admitted, it would follow there is no sense at all in which a human person or subject can be present there, “meriting righteousness” because “Jesus” is a divine Person and is righteousness. His humanity can only receive participation in the divine energies as communicated from the energy of His divine Person. His humanity never participates in the divine ousia, as that would be pantheism. His humanity is also never separated from or cut off from the divinity, but is voluntarily deified/raised by the divine energy. Calvinists often ignorantly object to this language, but to do so would mean His humanity was not raised from the dead. Look at the Transfiguration in Mt. 17 – what does one see? One sees the divine energy and power (not the essence of God and not a created light) blasting through the veil of His humanity. Only the Eastern view makes sense of this and always has, and all other views are heterodox by necessity. This has already been codified and dogmatized and is the existential experience of Orthodoxy in her Orthopraxy – there is no creative Calvinist or Romanist way to integrate these distinctives into the “infallible” directives of Denzinger or the endless and equally worthless infinity of Protestant “theological texts.”

    Jesus must be consubstantial with us for all aspects of our humanity to be raised/saved. If He lacks a human will, our wills are not healed. If He lacks a human soul, our souls are not healed. He must be fully human, and (as many Calvinists deny) thereby He assumed our lowly, fallen state. He assumed our nature bereft of divine life precisely to communicate to humanity His glory and eternal life – that He assumed our fallen state, though without sin is the Gospel.

    Calvinists and Lutherans object to this because of the false assumption that human nature is now evil if it is in a fallen state. However, we know nothing God creates is inherently evil – God still creates human nature as well as holding it and all of reality in being (Col. 1), showing there is no substantial or ontological existence predicated of evil.

    Calvinists often say that His humanity was therefore “unfallen,” but if this is so, why did He suffer and die? Here Calvinism verges on docetism, the sect which taught the suffering and death of Christ were phantasms and that He possessed flesh was “heavenly,” “unfallen flesh.” Calvinism (and by extension classical Protestants in general) once again partake of heresy, but this time its Gnostic. I don’t think this should be surprising, given Calvinism grants “evil” some kind of determinate being in foolishly claiming evil is our natural state. Nature is determined in Calvinism and thus our nature is determinately evil: the result is human persons frozen in their determined evil nature, which God creates and then hates (?) because, just as with Christ and in the Godhead, nature and Person are isomorphically identified in heterodoxy, because they all start with absolute divine simplicity. Hebrews says He was tempted in every way as we, yet without sin. Bizarrely, Calvinist think temptations themselves are sin. Thus, the text proves both He assumed our fallen state, since temptation is a result of the fall, and that temptation, or possessing fallen passions is not itself sin.

    In Calvinism, the only reason man’s redemption requires a human covenantal head as representative is simply because God wills it. Calvinism is synonymous with theological voluntarism, the heresy that equates the divine will with the divine essence, making all of reality a Platonic reflection of the divine ideas – something explicitly stated by many Calvinists, and especially amongst Puritans (read Stephen Charnock on this for instance). God’s will is thus not bound by anything in Calvinism/theological voluntarism because it is the divine essence – in strict identification. Setting aside the retarded Neoplatonic schema this is all moulded from, God cancelling out God’s infinite wrath is thus not only senseless, but makes the Incarnation a pointless afterthought.

    Calvinism and Protestantism are not only predicated on heterodox foundations foreign to orthodox Christology, but is even worse, operating as a Neoplatonic, docetic and Nestorian approach degrades Jesus into a human subject in order to salvage its bizarre Pelagian “covenant of works” doctrine and the conversely bizarre imputation of sin/penal substitution doctrines. This is precisely why Calvinists are triggered like Trigglypuff at the sound of “Theotokos,” devoid of any semblance of a clue what that word actually means. Mary as “Mother of God” they stupidly think means she caused His divinity, something so stupid not even New Agers would espouse. The term is a guardian term that vanquishes all heresies because it confirms the Person she gave birth to is a single divine Person.

    Calvinists who reject this reject it precisely (and often explicitly) on the same grounds as Nestorius. The Word became flesh – The Word – already a Person, did not assume a human Person. He did not change into man. He did not change man into the divine nature. He assumed human nature and redeemed it by rescuing from the power of death by conferring upon it His divine life – theosis.

    One of the clearest ways to distinguish the Protestant, and particularly the Calvinist, anthropology and soteriology is to again examine the way it views pre-lapsarian man. As we mentioned, man in the garden was not in need of any grace, but was placed by God under a so-called “covenant of works,” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 7:2) and since man failed in this covenant he was given another, the so-called “covenant of grace.”
    The flaws are manifold, not the least of which pertain to christology and soteriology as a whole: the Logos assumed human nature. In fact, the reformed Calvinistic view is actually a Pelagian view of pre-lapsarian man, the Calvinist and the Pelagian differing only in how they see the results of the fall. For Pelagius, as well as for the Calvinist, man had no need of “grace” in the garden. This notion is so blockheaded it’s difficult to even respond to, but it’s an outworking of their doctrine of the “legal status” God supposedly views His creations under, with Adam functioning perfectly well as a natural man so long as he is viewed as “just” by God and his nature remains unfallen.
    “Grace” then enters the scheme as a juridical pronouncement of status based on the created human merit work of the Nestorian Jesus to come, who satisfies divine wrath through his endurance of eternal indignation on the Cross and in “hell” – but it’s only grace if you believe in this Nestorian Calvinist Jesus, which is then only obtained by the rational assent of the individual who has been caused by God to have this faith, where his human will and energy and its natural opposition to God (Manichaeanism) has been overcome by divine grace (Augustinism). This monergism (mon-energism) and monothelitism is predicated on the faulty assumption of man’s nature being necessarily in dialectical tension with the divine. In fact, the train of thought in this regard runs directly from Monothelitism to Calvinism in the explicit rejection of all notions of synergism, with both presupposing the natural dialectical opposition between divine operation and human nature and will.

    When man fell in this view, he thus became “totally depraved,” his entire nature being destroyed (as with Luther), or becoming entirely enslaved to the passions (as with Calvin). Nature itself was lost because it was identified with grace and placed man in a “naturally evil state,” as every Calvinist intones ad nauseam. As a result, instead of the Son of God deifying human nature by His Incarnation, we have once an Arian-human JesusDudeBro who fulfills the “covenant of works,” whereupon because of His merits, the celestial psychopath bean counter is able to impute “perfect righteousness” to the heavenly IMF bank accounts of the elect.

    The problems don’t end here for our sour puss prairie muffins. First, how is it Calvinists reject merit, yet hold to the very concept of a gracious merit in the covenant of works with Adam? Surely God was under no constraints to give man any benefits in the garden.

    Second, what did man lose when he fell, if nature is grace? Was God under obligation to give man anything? Not in the Calvinist view, since God is sovereign. So what was lost? Prior to the fall, it has to be admitted that what man had was communion with God, which is nothing other than the life of God, the Holy Spirit. Expulsion from the garden meant loss of communion with the Triune God, but communion with God is grace and life, so the contradictions are becoming endless. God freely, out of His bountiful goodness granted man life and light and communion with Him in the garden and the sin of Adam cut them off from that grace. Once this is admitted, the faux theological nonsense construct of a “covenant of works” is manifest. Spiritual death ensued, but man did not cease to be just that: man. He could not lose his nature anymore than an angel who fell could lose his angelic nature.

    Matter and human nature can never lose their natural, inherent goodness: When God created the world, including man and the angels, He said, “it is good.” It cannot and will never be inherently evil. It’s precisely the heresy of Manichaeanism that is revived in Calvinism, a dualistic view that said matter was crude, inherently evil and in dialectical opposition to the good. Two eternal principles are thus locked in ageless conflict: matter and darkness opposed to light and thought. For the Manichee, man is, by birth, a garbage juice smoothie – poetic beauty rivaled only by the likes of Calvin and Luther.
    In Orthodoxy, evil is a movement away from the good by an act of will. When Lucifer rebelled, he lost the grace and deifying power of God that was his source of true goodness, elevating his angelic nature to untold heights. When he fell, he retained his nature (angelic), but it became corrupted due to an evil-turned will. Let’s be clear– even the will itself is not evil inherently, but becomes a source of evil when it turns from the greatest good, God, and retreats into the non-being of losing God’s deifying life and light. Likewise, when man fell, he lost the light, life, love and communion of God through the Holy Spirit. The grace of God’s very own life was lost and what remained was a fallen, corrupted nature. That fallen nature now tended towards sin, its passions out of whack and no longer subject to the rule of the law of God and reason, yet that nature could not be entirely lost or destroyed since man still retained the image of God, even after the fall. This point is key, and Scripture confirms it when Noah is told following the Flood that murder would be punished with death – because murder is an attack on the image of God in man (Gen. 9:6).

    Man left the garden and retained his nature, but it was just that-only nature. It no longer had the life of God and the enemy, death and sin reigned. It still had its natural life, and if Calvinist thought about it, they would admit this principle, since they are opposed to abortion. Clearly the man in the womb is ‘alive’ and derives his dignity from being the image of God. Sin and death, however, reign through Ancestral Sin (Rom. 5:17) and in our actual sins (James 1:15) when we consent to the passions, the tendency we have inherited to rebel against God by loving naturally good passions, such as sex or food, in an undue measure, and not for God’s sake. St. James explicates our view that the body’s passions are out of accord with reason as a result of the Fall, and not the Calvinist view of the desires themselves being evil.
    Thus, as many fathers say, sin consists simply in an inordinate love of creatures. Rather than ruling the passions of, say, the stomach, the gluttonous man puts his belly above his health and God. He seeks the immediate pleasures of the palate and, as one priest said, all of us fallen creatures are addicts of pleasure (note how St. John speaks in 1 John 2: 15-16). None of these pleasures are necessarily evil in themselves, except when they are indulged in, in an inordinate manner or taken out of their proper context. Sin is thus an act of the will whereby we transgress the command of God (1 John 3:4): it is not and cannot be an active state of being, and it is not natural, nor is it’s corollary, death – both are unnatural. St. Paul in Ephesians 2:3, for example, does not state nature itself is evil, but that by the means of natural birth we are under the power of death and corruption, where sin rules us.

    Christ assumed a fallen nature, with all of its weaknesses, except for sin. If Christ did not assume a fallen human nature, then our nature is not rescued. Death still reigns and we are in our sins. Thankfully, He was God and united Himself to our lowly, fallen bodies that we can rejoice that we are raised with Him and united to His transfigured, deified humanity. There is no such thing as a sin-nature (in Calvinist parlance) because will is a property of human nature – all humans have a faculty of a will, but the will is not and cannot be determined, as it is natural property, but its mode is always hypostatic. We know this because its standard, historic Trinitarian Orthodoxy there is only one will in the Trinity, because there is only one nature. Will is not a property of Person, or hypostasis – we profess two wills and two energies in Christ because of two natures, human and divine (as per the 6th Ecumenical Council). That He assumed our fallen nature is demonstrated by the fact that death is a result of the Fall, and Jesus’ death on the Cross with His attendant sufferings shows He assumed our fallen state, yet death could not hold Him (Ps. 16), because He is the Lord of life.

    Christ assumed our weakness; He bore our stripes in His own body, humbling Himself to accept our own weak, lowly bodies, in order that they might be raised to light, life and immortality, yet without ever sinning (Phil. 2:6-7, 3:21). Who deliver us from these bodies of death? Christ Jesus will, because He assumed our weakness and made it eternal and godlike-He had deified us! (2 Peter 1:4). Therefore, because there is one will in the Trinity, there cannot be any division as imagined by the Protestant, in Nestorian fashion, where the Father hates the Son and damns Him (in the crucifixion) for the sins of the elect. This is an absolute Trinitarian impossibility. If they share the same will, always united, there can never be a division between the Son and the Father, and it’s just because Christ is a divine Person and not a human person that we cannot ascribe any actions of the Incarnate Son to some dude receiving God’s hatred and wrath.

    St. John of Damascus’ On the Orthodox Faith contains excellent sections combatting Monothelitism that make these very points. Orthodox theology has always begun with Christology, and worked out the soteriology therefrom. Thus it is crucial to see Christ’s two wills in the Incarnation as the pattern for our synergy and the deifying of our fallen will by His divine energy. This is the teaching of the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils:

    The “Definition of Faith” of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680) states:
    “For it was right that the flesh should be moved but subject to the divine will, according to the most wise Athanasius. For as his flesh is called and is the flesh of God the Word, so also the natural will of his flesh is called and is the proper will of God the Word, as he himself says: “I came down from heaven, not that I might do mine own will but the will of the Father which sent me!” where he calls his own will the will of his flesh, inasmuch as his flesh was also his own. For as his most holy and immaculate animated flesh was not destroyed because it was deified but continued in its own state and nature, so also his human will, although deified, was not suppressed, but was rather preserved according to the saying of Gregory Theologus (St. Gregory of Nazianzus): “His will [i.e., the Saviour’s] is not contrary to God but altogether deified.”

    So, if you deny human free will, you must deny Christ a free will. If you do so, and replace it with the divine will, you are Monothelite. Or, from the vantage point of determinism, if there is no genuine free will after the fall, then Christ’s human will is determined – monothelitism. If He doesn’t share the same nature as us, then as the Fathers say, what is not assumed is not healed. If He didn’t assume a fallen, yet not iniherently evil nature, then our nature is not deified. But note that the councils sees his mentioning of His own will in conformity with the Father’s (and there is only one divine will), as biblical proof that even after the fall, human will retains its own natural energy. In us, apart from grace, its merely natural–this is why St. Paul calls the man without the Spirit of God the “natural man” – God and His Word are foolishness – he cannot, in a merely natural state, believe or understand divine things. The Holy Spirit must move in synergy with man’s free will to believe these mysteries, yet never in conversion does man lose his will as this would be to lose a fundamental faculty of his nature. And again, in the ultimate paradigm is Jesus Himself in whom the human will was elevated – deified, to ever be in conformity with the divine.

    St. John of Damascus says of the Fall in Book 3 part 1 his magisterial On the Orthodox Faith:

    “Man, then, was thus snared by the assault of the arch-fiend, and broke his Creator’s command, and was stripped of grace and put off his confidence with God, and covered himself with the asperities of a toilsome life (for this is the meaning of the fig-leaves ); and was clothed about with death, that is, mortality and the grossness of flesh (for this is what the garment of skins signifies); and was banished from Paradise by God’s just judgment, and condemned to death, and made subject to corruption. Yet, notwithstanding all this, in His pity, God, Who gave him his being, and Who in His graciousness bestowed on him a life of happiness, did not disregard man.”

    • Very interesting Sue, thank you for posting…If I may add; Pelagius said he could do nothing apart from God’s grace…the apostle Paul said mankind in general had a certain degree of grace imparted in them…” And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring”.


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