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Christian Interests => Organized Religion and Religious Movements Discussions => Eastern Orthodox Forum => Topic started by: CDHealy on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 11:28:53

Title: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: CDHealy on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 11:28:53
There is a great audio (link below is mp3 file) interview with Father Theodore Stylianopoulos on St Paul, and which focuses to a great degree on the doctrine of justification by faith.  It is a great summary of the Orthodox belief on justification by faith:

http://audio.ancientfaith.com/illuminedheart/ih_2009-01-23_pc.mp3

[Note: this is part one of a two part interview]
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 12:24:16
CD,
The Orthodox continue to beat me up because I believe in Sola Fide.  Yet I heard nothing in this interview that contradicts what I believe.
Sola Fide, in Lutheranism, means nothing more than what was said in the interview:  that grace precedes faith, that faith is not set against good works, that good works flow naturally from faith like heat flows naturally from fire, that there is no such thing as "Sola Fide" without good works, and that Baptism and Faith are intertwined.

So tell me, what am I missing?  Or, better yet, how has the meaning of Sola Fide been twisted to make it controversial to the rest of the Church?
Dan
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: CDHealy on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 13:30:14
What you're missing, as I've understood you, is synergy: that our works really do contribute to our salvation, though they do not accomplish our salvation.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 13:34:43
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that our works really do contribute to our salvation, though they do not accomplish our salvation.

Is Person A with faith saved MORE because he has more good works than Person B who also has faith?  I am unsure of what you are saying.  I believe there is synergy for believers.

When you say "our works really do contribute to our salvation", I agree with that, although I would call that sanctification, not justification.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: trifecta on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 18:57:04
Dan,

CD,
The Orthodox continue to beat me up because I believe in Sola Fide.  Yet I heard nothing in this interview that contradicts what I believe.

Sorry, buddy, but sole fide is a pretty controversial doctrine.

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Sola Fide, in Lutheranism, means nothing more than what was said in the interview:  that grace precedes faith, that faith is not set against good works, that good works flow naturally from faith like heat flows naturally from fire, that there is no such thing as "Sola Fide" without good works, and that Baptism and Faith are intertwined.

This is news to me. So, how is this different than Catholicism? 

When you say "our works really do contribute to our salvation", I agree with that, although I would call that sanctification, not justification.

The difference in Orthodoxy is that we don't separate justification and santification.  It is all part of the salvation process.   The early church thought like this.  Protestant scholars are beginning to see this too.  P. Sanders (?) is a leading proponent.  I read it in Christianity Today a year ago.

Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 20:00:29
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Sorry, buddy, but sole fide is a pretty controversial doctrine.
I understand that, but then I listened to the nice Orthodox man and I think to myself, what is controversial?  Why is justification by faith considered outrageous but I can agree with the Orthodox explanation of it?

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Sola Fide, in Lutheranism, means nothing more than what was said in the interview:  that grace precedes faith, that faith is not set against good works, that good works flow naturally from faith like heat flows naturally from fire, that there is no such thing as "Sola Fide" without good works, and that Baptism and Faith are intertwined.

This is news to me. So, how is this different than Catholicism?

Trifecta, what I am saying is that any informed Lutheran would tell you that a person who says they are saved by faith but they have no need of works is NOT displaying true faith.  JBFA has NEVER meant that good works are to be despised, why would ANY Christian talk like that?  The point of JBFA is that salvation is through true and living faith, not through a laundry list of works specified by some human, and that untold good works will naturally flow from the faith that the Spirit has produced in us (Eph 2).

What is different from Catholicism is that we teach, along with Scripture, that one's faith in Christ saves you apart from the works that you do.  We trust that true faith is given by the Holy Spirit and produces good works in us as naturally, as Luther put it and I paraphrased, as heat is produced by a fire. 

What is the peace that passes all understanding?  Is it a "peace" that is subject to  approval from Church authorities?  Or is it the peace that Christ gives to those who are called to faith and are His adopted sons and daughters? 
I say that Scripture clearly teaches the latter, not the former.  I don't even consider the former to be a "peace".

Therefore I wonder if JBFA has been intentionally maligned by the Roman and Orthodox Churches.  Shouldn't I be  arguing that the Orthodox man in the interview has it all wrong?  Why am I agreeing with him, and he with me?

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The difference in Orthodoxy is that we don't separate justification and santification.  It is all part of the salvation process.
The point of separating them is only to point out to Christians that they are already saved once they come to faith.  They don't have to please someone in Rome or Constantinople to know that they are loved by Christ.  But you are right, they are BOTH part of the salvation process.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: trifecta on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 20:32:37
Dan,

I think you're cool  ::cool::  even if I beat you up once in a while.  (Just giving you a hard time).


Trifecta, what I am saying is that any informed Lutheran would tell you that a person who says they are saved by faith but they have no need of works is NOT displaying true faith.  JBFA has NEVER meant that good works are to be despised, why would ANY Christian talk like that?  The point of JBFA is that salvation is through true and living faith, not through a laundry list of works specified by some human, and that untold good works will naturally flow from the faith that the Spirit has produced in us (Eph 2).



Again, I don't see this differently than Catholic doctrine.  The Orthodox aren't so much into salvation formulas, but I would agree with you here.   Am I missing something?

Maybe here is where you see the difference:

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What is the peace that passes all understanding?  Is it a "peace" that is subject to  approval from Church authorities? 

Orthodox believe that God judges, not us.  But to be in the church is good thing, since Jesus loves His church more than just about anything. 

Catholics believed salvation in the church, although they don't so much anymore since Vatican II, which called Protestants, Orthodox, and various believers and even non-believers are invisibly part of the church.   

I think. though, that Protestants usually don't want to submit to any church authority.  I find this odd because he wants us to treat even secular authorities with respect.   So, why shouldn't we seek the approval of spiritual authorities as we do secular ones?
Don't spiritual leaders "watch over our souls?"


I think the Protestant thought process just doesn't like human authority that much.   


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Therefore I wonder if JBFA has been intentionally maligned by the Roman and Orthodox Churches.  Shouldn't I be  arguing that the Orthodox man in the interview has it all wrong?  Why am I agreeing with him, and he with me?

Actually, I find this surprising, too.   

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The difference in Orthodoxy is that we don't separate justification and santification.  It is all part of the salvation process.
The point of separating them is only to point out to Christians that they are already saved once they come to faith. 

But here you are separating the two with that last sentence.  Jesus says we have to be faithful to the end.   We disagree in that we are not saved once we make some sort of decision for Christ.   We still have to remain faithful.

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They don't have to please someone in Rome or Constantinople to know that they are loved by Christ.  But you are right, they are BOTH part of the salvation process.

Again, one of my problems with Protestantism is its lack of respect for the church.   I can feel God's love if I am a pagan, for God loved us even then.  But I want to be in his church.

Thanks for reading.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 20:53:41
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Orthodox believe that God judges, not us.  But to be in the church is good thing, since Jesus loves His church more than just about anything.
Lutherans agree with this also.  I think that the Orthodox place more emphasis on the visible Church while Lutherans place more emphasis on the invisible Church, but there are reasons for that.  As you might guess, the Roman Church considers herself to be the one true visible Church, yet they teach doctrines with which both we and the Orthodox do not agree.  The Lutherans realize that people inside and outside of the Roman Church are true believers, so it is impossible to tie the Church to a visible organization.  On the other hand, I think Lutherans wish with all our hearts that there WAS true unity in the Church so that we COULD talk clearly about the visible Church.

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But here you are separating the two with that last sentence.  Jesus says we have to be faithful to the end.   We disagree in that we are not saved once we make some sort of decision for Christ.   We still have to remain faithful.
I have to call you out on this one.....are you saved?  (btw, I do not believe in once-saved-always-saved, that is a Calvinist invention).   And I believe that Scripture explicitly forbids us from talking about making a decision to be a believer.

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Again, one of my problems with Protestantism is its lack of respect for the church.   I can feel God's love if I am a pagan, for God loved us even then.  But I want to be in his church.
Agreed.  Lutherans, like the RCC and the EO, teach that Christ conferred authority upon the Apostles at his ascension and that this authority has been passed through the generations via ordination.  I know you will fuss about Succession, that's a separate argument.  We teach pastoral authority in the Lutheran Church.  We are not thrilled with the 20,000 flavors of Protestantism, most of them cults of personality IMHO.  And, surprisingly to most, we do not consider ourselves to be Protestants.  The Calvinists and Zwinglians are the Protestants.

I think you're cool, too.  I enjoy being able to discuss this substantively and without rancor.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: trifecta on Sat Jan 24, 2009 - 22:05:43
Dan,
Lutherans agree with this also.  I think that the Orthodox place more emphasis on the visible Church while Lutherans place more emphasis on the invisible Church, but there are reasons for that. 
Yeah, I think the reasons have to do with politics (indulgences) and new theology as an outgrowth of that decision to split (invisible church.)   

The invisible church doesn't really exist in Orthodox theology and certainly not as Protestants define it.   The problem with it, as I just explained in a Theology post, is that the invisible church takes away the physicality of the church, leaving it gnostic. 


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As you might guess, the Roman Church considers herself to be the one true visible Church, yet they teach doctrines with which both we and the Orthodox do not agree. 

We consider our Church to be the one true visible church too, not because we are all that, but how can there be more than one body of Christ?   The body of Christ cannot be divided.   God is one, the church must be one. 

Your thinkers couldn't agree on a church, so they created a spiritual loopside called the invisible church.   This way you can have different churches (including those in the same small city) and still be part of the one church.

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The Lutherans realize that people inside and outside of the Roman Church are true believers, so it is impossible to tie the Church to a visible organization. 


Ah, now you are getting to our spiritual loophole.  You guys assume that all believers are in the church.  We say that God can save anyone however he wants (Matt 19: 24ff), so being outside of the church, people can still be saved.   Our phrase is: We know where the Holy Spirit is, we dare not say where the Holy Spirit is not.


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 On the other hand, I think Lutherans wish with all our hearts that there WAS true unity in the Church so that we COULD talk clearly about the visible Church.


To do this, you, by definition have to stop establishing competing churches in the same geographical area.  This was the model of one of the councils (1st, 2nd, 3rd, ?).   To our shame, we got the same thing going in America (but not many other places).

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But here you are separating the two with that last sentence.  Jesus says we have to be faithful to the end.   We disagree in that we are not saved once we make some sort of decision for Christ.   We still have to remain faithful.
I have to call you out on this one.....are you saved?  (btw, I do not believe in once-saved-always-saved, that is a Calvinist invention). 
The pat answer that I heard somewhere is I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved.  Don't like that one? Not my favorite either.    A more honest answer is I believe God is faithful, but if I will remain faithful is not as certain.  Or,  if we are required to be faithful until the end, how can I really know I am saved?

This is a difference in eastern and western thinking.  The emphasis on the west is on completion, while in the east, it is on process.  An easterner would not even ask the question.



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And I believe that Scripture explicitly forbids us from talking about making a decision to be a believer.

Really?, do tell.  (Haven't thought about this in a while).



Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Sun Jan 25, 2009 - 11:07:25
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Trifecta:  You guys assume that all believers are in the church.  We say that God can save anyone however he wants (Matt 19: 24ff), so being outside of the church, people can still be saved.

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Matthew 19
24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"  26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Surely you are leaving something out, no?  Peter says in Acts 4
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is " 'the stone you builders rejected,  which has become the capstone.' 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

If the Holy Spirit is speaking to us through Peter and saying that only by the name of Jesus might we be saved, then it is entirely logical to conclude that the Church is made up of believers and there is no "mystery group" of pople who will be saved outside of the Church.  Besides that, Matt 19 is speaking to the fact that God saves us in spite of our unworthiness, it is not a reference to non-Christians being saved.

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The pat answer that I heard somewhere is I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved.  Don't like that one? Not my favorite either.    A more honest answer is I believe God is faithful, but if I will remain faithful is not as certain.  Or,  if we are required to be faithful until the end, how can I really know I am saved?
I think "I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved" is an entirely appropriate answer.  My suggestion to you is to take the Promise to heart.  Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-10
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Paul does not write "For it is by grace you might be saved if you are still faithful when you die", he addresses this to those who HAVE BEEN saved.  Might some of these people fall away?  Yes, but at the moment of Paul's letter, they are saved people.  Further, this section of Eph is a key component of JBFA -- through the grace of God, we have been given faith as a gift.  It is not from ourselves, and our being saved is not by works because none of us can boast.  But we are the work of God, created in Jesus to do good works - and even our GOOD WORKS are not from us, but rather they have been prepared by God in advance for us to do.

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This is a difference in eastern and western thinking.  The emphasis on the west is on completion, while in the east, it is on process.  An easterner would not even ask the question.
I highly doubt this - all Christians want to be assured that they will rise to life on the Last Day.  There is no east/west difference here.  And, moreover, the topics of justification and sanctification are topics addressed in Scripture, they are not artificial constructs from Luther or the Roman Church. 

If the Orthodox cannot agree with Paul, then that surely is a pity.  However, I doubt that they disagree with Paul and I know that we Lutherans do not disagree with Paul, either, so again I have to ask - why is JBFA considered so controversial? 
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: trifecta on Sun Jan 25, 2009 - 21:02:58
Dan,

I'm going to have to be brief, but let me make some fast remarks.

There is a logical problem with sola fide.    To quote you:

"what I am saying is that any informed Lutheran would tell you that a person who says they are saved by faith but they have no need of works is NOT displaying true faith."

If A is faith and B is works and S is salvation.    You say  A plus B does not equal S but  A alone equals S.  But add the above quote--you are saying A is not A without B. Or  B is a subset of A.  The conclusion must be B has something to do with salvation.  Therefore,  sola fide is false.   

Or, if you prefer,  my own Reese's analogy.   If the chocolate is faith and peanut butter is works and entire peanut butter cup is salvation.  You look at the outside and say "See chocolate is salvation."   But peanut butter is a component of the entire product, so both peanut butter and chocolate make the Reese's.    You can't (as Luther tries)  then say, no, peanut butter as nothing to do with it.
 
Surely you are leaving something out, no?  Peter says in Acts 4
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is " 'the stone you builders rejected,  which has become the capstone.' 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Yes, we are saved by Jesus, but my quote still stands.  You limit its meaning, while Jesus is expanding on it.   This in a nutshell is what Protestants - especially Luther- do wrong.  You choose verses that support your point, and discard this rest.  As did Luther with James. 


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If the Holy Spirit is speaking to us through Peter and saying that only by the name of Jesus might we be saved, then it is entirely logical to conclude that the Church is made up of believers

Only if you believe in an invisible church, which we don't.   You are equating believers with the church.   The problem with that is the church is no longer physical but ethereal.
Please look at my Trekkie analogy on page 40 or so  in not all have sinned thread.  In brief, fans of Star Trek never have to meet to be a Trekkie even though there are conventions to attend.  I equate Trekkies with the Protestant view of the church.  The problem is there is no gathering with this definition, and at its most minimal definition a church is a gathering.  There is no physicality to the church which we see in Scripture can not be, because the church is incarnational as is its head Jesus Christ and therefore has physical component.

  No church father bought into the invisible church and none believed in sole fide either.  This is why, I now realize, church history is never emphasized in Protestantism.
As you may remember, I was a Protestant for many years.


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and there is no "mystery group" of pople who will be saved outside of the Church. 

but you guys do have a group of believers that are not in any church that are saved, so they are indeed a "mystery group."

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The pat answer that I heard somewhere is I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved.  Don't like that one? Not my favorite either.    A more honest answer is I believe God is faithful, but if I will remain faithful is not as certain.  Or,  if we are required to be faithful until the end, how can I really know I am saved?
I think "I am saved, I am being saved, I will be saved" is an entirely appropriate answer.  My suggestion to you is to take the Promise to heart. 

Dan, I'm glad you liked the first answer.  The reason I didn't so much is it does not answer your question "Are you saved?"   If salvation is a process, we can't know until the end, since Jesus says to be faithful to the end. 


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Paul does not write "For it is by grace you might be saved if you are still faithful when you die", he addresses this to those who HAVE BEEN saved.  Might some of these people fall away?  Yes, but at the moment of Paul's letter, they are saved people.

Yeah, but the same author Paul says "To work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil 2:12).  We are not to rest in our assurance of salvation, which, as you also say, may be lost.

Again, another example of Luther's problem.  He favors one scripture over another.

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This is a difference in eastern and western thinking.  The emphasis on the west is on completion, while in the east, it is on process.  An easterner would not even ask the question.
I highly doubt this - all Christians want to be assured that they will rise to life on the Last Day.  There is no east/west difference here. 

Dan, with due respect, you do not understand the eastern mind.  The Protestant mind wants to dwell in the fact that they are saved, even though, as we both agree, once-saved-always-saved is not a valid doctrine.    In the Protestant mind, salvation is a completed act.  We can now revel in it.

The eastern mind is more process-oriented.  Salvation is not a completed act, it is a work in progress just as Paul says Phil 2:12.  We don't count those chickens too soon.  Humility is perhaps the highest attribute in Orthodoxy, again in agreement in Phil 2:12.  Remember the Publican and the Pharisee.  Who was justified?  The humble one.

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And, moreover, the topics of justification and sanctification are topics addressed in Scripture, they are not artificial constructs from Luther or the Roman Church. 

But the west started to separate the two, in a way Paul never meant it.  This is what Protestant theologian  P. Sanders says in Christianity Today, while the eastern church never strayed from it.   

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If the Orthodox cannot agree with Paul, then that surely is a pity.  However, I doubt that they disagree with Paul and I know that we Lutherans do not disagree with Paul, either,

Of course, we agree with Paul.  But Luther's exgesis is lame because he never seems to leave the Book of Romans (which we don't think Luther quite got right either).

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so again I have to ask - why is JBFA considered so controversial? 


I hope I've answered your question.   Well, now I really got to go. 

Blessings to you!
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Mon Jan 26, 2009 - 19:14:06
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If A is faith and B is works and S is salvation.    You say  A plus B does not equal S but  A alone equals S.  But add the above quote--you are saying A is not A without B. Or  B is a subset of A.  The conclusion must be B has something to do with salvation.  Therefore,  sola fide is false.

Trifecta, you've invented a definition for Sola Fide and then argued against it.  So let me try to clear this up with the real definition....

Without faith, there is no salvation.  I think we can agree on that.  In addition, Lutherans have never defined faith as some type of intellectual assent.  Faith is childlike trust in God to honor His promises. 
We can have all the good works in the world, without faith, and it does us no good.  Only with faith are the works pleasing to God (without faith, it is impossible to please God).
Even with faith, there is not a single good work we can do which requires  God to save us (all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags) - and the number of good works we do has no bearing upon our being saved.  If they did, then God becomes a respecter of persons, which Scripture says is not the case. 
If Person A has faith and Person B has faith, but Person A does 100 good works while Person B does only 95 good works, God does not look at Person A and say "Boy, Person A really worked harder at being faithful, I will save him "'more'".  Our rewards in heaven may differ based upon our works, I do not know for sure, but both Person A and Person B will be in heaven because they are believers who lived their faith and trusted God.
This is what Sola Fide is all about - we  have no good works to point to, but we have our faith given as a gift.  And God, who has never promised to save us based upon our good works, HAS promised to save us because of our gift of faith.

So we are saved because of our faith (Sola Fide) and our good works flow from that living faith.  Good works are proof that our faith is real, but they play no part in making us acceptable to God.

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Yeah, but the same author Paul says "To work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil 2:12).  We are not to rest in our assurance of salvation, which, as you also say, may be lost.

Again, another example of Luther's problem.  He favors one scripture over another.
Paul cannot contradict himself (really, the Spirit cannot contradict Himself).  So this "working out" cannot refer to doing good works in a state of fear, but it certainly can mean reverence and humility for the great gift of faith that we have been given.  Luther does not favor one verse from Scripture over another, he and his colleagues were very good about that.  They showed great respect for the wholeness of Scripture and let it interpret itself when there was any possibility of an unclear meaning.

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You choose verses that support your point, and discard this rest.  As did Luther with James. 
I know that Luther disliked James, but that is Luther, not Lutheran teachings.  We never discard verses.  Never.  However, as noted above, we insist that unclear verses must be interpreted through verses that are clear.

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but you guys do have a group of believers that are not in any church that are saved, so they are indeed a "mystery group."
I'm not sure what you mean by this.  If you mean the believers who constitute the "invisible" Church, then this is true to a small degree but it is Christians who are involved, not unbelievers.  At the same time, there is a big hole in the Visible Church which is that membership does not guarantee true faith.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: katholikos on Tue Jan 27, 2009 - 08:12:27
....good works flow naturally from faith like heat flows naturally from fire....

Thats the part I disagree with. God may give you the grace to do good works, but it is still an act of your will to respond to that grace and actually do them. That is why we say that God's free grace demands man's free response. Works are a cooperation with Gods grace, they just don't "flow" - we are not puppets on a string.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Tue Jan 27, 2009 - 18:55:21
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Thats the part I disagree with. God may give you the grace to do good works, but it is still an act of your will to respond to that grace and actually do them. That is why we say that God's free grace demands man's free response. Works are a cooperation with Gods grace, they just don't "flow" - we are not puppets on a string.

Ephesians 2:8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

K,
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I know how all this works - I don't.  Repentance, being granted faith, and being strengthed by the Spirit are a bit mysterious to me.  I am not afraid to admit it, it's just the way it is.
However, there are a few comments I would like to make.  I don't know why you disagree that works are a natural byproduct of a living faith.  A living faith is one where the believer realizes the tremendous love that God had for us, that while we were yet sinners, He sent His Son to die for us, in our place.  That produces a few fruits of the Spirit - you have surely read of them in Scripture.  Love for others, humility and gratitude are most definitely the result of learning about how much God loves us.  Do you know a lot of people who are loving, humble, gracious, meek, peaceful, gentle, and can control themselves, but they inexplicably hate other people and are unwilling to help?  I don't.
It comes back to things you want to do versus things you have to do.  Do you have kids?  Maybe not, but I do, and I can tell you that they are so much nicer to be around when they WANT to do good works instead of when they HAVE to do good works.

But even when considering good works, we cannot point to our good works and say to God "See how much good I have done - you MUST allow me into heaven!".  That's ridiculous - we humbly say that our righteousness is like a filthy rag and that we are beggars, all, leaning totally on the righteousness of Christ and not on anything we have done.  THAT is being justified by faith ALONE, without any works to which we can point.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: ole Jake on Wed Jan 28, 2009 - 14:37:48
CD,
The Orthodox continue to beat me up because I believe in Sola Fide.  Yet I heard nothing in this interview that contradicts what I believe.
Sola Fide, in Lutheranism, means nothing more than what was said in the interview:  that grace precedes faith, that faith is not set against good works, that good works flow naturally from faith like heat flows naturally from fire, that there is no such thing as "Sola Fide" without good works, and that Baptism and Faith are intertwined.

So tell me, what am I missing?  Or, better yet, how has the meaning of Sola Fide been twisted to make it controversial to the rest of the Church?
Dan

Ideas have consequences. In other words, all philosophic expressions (and a theologial construct is jst that) has an inherent telos toward which it moves.

Luther assumed that his concoction sola fide would have no real value, save in (1) making him more secure in being saved, (2) bringing a swift end to indulgences (which had been opposed, increasingly so, for 2 decades before Luther, and (3) and keeping the simple-minded from thinking they could work their way to Heaven on their own efforts.

But Luther failed to discern all that was inherent in the simple novel concoction.

The best way to see what all that was is to ask, how quickly did Protestants arise whose interpretation of what sola fide meant differed markedly from what Luther taught? Today, what % of Protestants interpret sola fide the way Luther did and what % interepret it in ways that Luther would have declared heretical?

Johann Eck was not alone in seeing Luther's concoction #1 as heretical because it was preganant with multiple heretical implications, which the Protestant world has been birthing and nursing since then.

Add that to sola scriptura, which formulation the vast majority of Protestants also use in ways that Luther would have denounced as heretical, and you get chaos.

Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: zoonance on Fri Jan 30, 2009 - 17:30:06
Is the absence of chaos the best case made as evidence of truth?
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: CDHealy on Sat Jan 31, 2009 - 08:30:38
Quote
that our works really do contribute to our salvation, though they do not accomplish our salvation.

Is Person A with faith saved MORE because he has more good works than Person B who also has faith?  I am unsure of what you are saying.  I believe there is synergy for believers.

The bugaboo is what is meant by "saved" here?  If one simply means with God in heaven, that is to say, in the quantitative sense, no.  Both would have the same status.  But if one is speaking about the development in the virtues, the degree of sanctification and so forth, then yes, Person A with more works could potentially be "more" saved than Person B.

However, even here Orthodox say, "Look, it's still all grace.  God can wholly sanctify anyone in an instant, and leave another to slowly and doggedly work out their salvation with fear and trembling over a lifetime."

When you say "our works really do contribute to our salvation", I agree with that, although I would call that sanctification, not justification.

And that is where you diverge from us Orthodox, for while we acknowledge a heuristic distinction between the two terms, we do not acknowledge an actual difference.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: Wycliffes_Shillelagh on Mon Feb 02, 2009 - 16:23:44
Darned definitions.

I think you all define faith differently.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Mon Feb 09, 2009 - 20:20:42
For discussion, I would like to post these quotations of Church Fathers where they talk about being justified by faith alone.  I welcome your comments.  They were compiled by Pastor William Weedon, a highly-respected LCMS pastor.

"Similarly we also, who by His will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, or our own wisdom or understanding or godliness, nor by such deeds as we have done in holiness of heart, but by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men since the beginning of time. Glory be to Him, forever and ever, Amen." - St. Clement of Rome (Letter to the Corinthians, par. 32)

“To this end has His Grace and Goodness been formed upon us in Christ Jesus, that being dead according to works, redeemed through faith and saved by grace, we might receive the gift of this great deliverance.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: trifecta on Wed Feb 11, 2009 - 16:31:51
Dan,

I can't right now go provide quotes but Pastor William Weedom is mistaken.  The Church Fathers did not support justification by faith alone.   His quotes are taken out of context.   Quoting the church fathers is not easy for three reasons

1) Hyberbole and honorifics were rampant in this time period.   

2) Many church fathers, especially John Chrysostom, have volumes of writings (often transcribed sermons).   So, taking out of context is much easier to do.

3) Many times the speaker will flatter the doctrine early in a sermon only to slam it later.  Justification by faith alone is good example.  Luther had a big problem with Chrysostom because he preached a few sermons condemning JBFO.   Calvin, for reasons I don't understand,  was kinder to Chrysostom.   But all the earlier Protestant fathers dealt with the church fathers; they were too important not be dealt with. 

But by the time I became a Protestant, we NEVER heard anything about Basil the Great, Gregory of Naziansus, or John Crystostom.  Now, if these guys where such supporters of JBFO, don't you think the Protestants would highlight them as evidence that Protestantism is legitimate?


Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Thu Feb 12, 2009 - 14:33:16
Quote
Now, if these guys where such supporters of JBFO, don't you think the Protestants would highlight them as evidence that Protestantism is legitimate?
No.  Only Luther believed in the Real Presence.  The others rejected it.  They knew there was no respectable Father who had done such a thing.  So why appeal to the Fathers?

Quote
3) Many times the speaker will flatter the doctrine early in a sermon only to slam it later.  Justification by faith alone is good example.  Luther had a big problem with Chrysostom because he preached a few sermons condemning JBFO.   Calvin, for reasons I don't understand,  was kinder to Chrysostom.   But all the earlier Protestant fathers dealt with the church fathers; they were too important not be dealt with.
Please post examples of why Luther supposedly had a problem with Chrysostom.

I don't know how to read St. John Chrysostom any other way (Homily on Gal 3):
Gal. 3.8. “And the Scripture, 83 foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: ex cathedra on Wed Apr 22, 2009 - 16:25:51
Dan,

I can't right now go provide quotes but Pastor William Weedom is mistaken.  The Church Fathers did not support justification by faith alone.   His quotes are taken out of context.   Quoting the church fathers is not easy for three reasons

1) Hyberbole and honorifics were rampant in this time period.  

2) Many church fathers, especially John Chrysostom, have volumes of writings (often transcribed sermons).   So, taking out of context is much easier to do.

3) Many times the speaker will flatter the doctrine early in a sermon only to slam it later.  Justification by faith alone is good example.  Luther had a big problem with Chrysostom because he preached a few sermons condemning JBFO.   Calvin, for reasons I don't understand,  was kinder to Chrysostom.   But all the earlier Protestant fathers dealt with the church fathers; they were too important not be dealt with. 

But by the time I became a Protestant, we NEVER heard anything about Basil the Great, Gregory of Naziansus, or John Crystostom.  Now, if these guys where such supporters of JBFO, don't you think the Protestants would highlight them as evidence that Protestantism is legitimate?



i cant talk for protestants
 Lutherans dont need the church fathers to prove sinners are Justified by faith in Jesus alone.

thats told through out scripture .


and when james talks about justification  he mostly  talks about how man justifies man by what they see .

and when he mentions how  God justifies he is in agreement with all the rest of scripture how  God justifying the ungodly
with no help from men .



Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Thu Jan 14, 2010 - 21:55:53
Trifecta,
Never heard back from you on this matter.  For my own edification, I read through St. John Chrysostom's Homily on Galatians 3 and have included a section of it here, so that you can see for yourself that Pastor Weedon is not playing games when quoting St. John.
I got the quotes from here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf113.iii.iii.iii.html#iii.iii.iii-Page_25


Ver. 5. “He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: Ryan2010 on Fri Jan 15, 2010 - 09:50:07
--- rather than fight it, why not celebrate our joint history of JBFA? ---

The irony here is that as explained earlier in the thread, justification and sanctification are not divorced in Orthodoxy.   It's not so much that The Church does not in some part to some degree agree with some of Luther's opinions.  I suspect that much of the disagreement and rejection comes from the amount of weight and focus put on certain elements of the Truth.  That is to say, if we isolate a certain aspect of the Truth and detach that aspect from the whole Truth, the Truth no longer is the Truth but is easily distorted and a distortion that is isolated from the whole becomes a lie.  

Think back to Patriarch Jeremiah's reply to the Augsburg confession.  Why would the Patriarch reject this "sola fide" war cry if the Patriarch partly agreed?  We have to remember that much of Luther's theology was reactionary.  It was a theological disposition set against what preceeded it in attempt to (re)FORM the original shape of the Roman Catholic theological disposition.  The reason the Patriarch saw the protestant reformation as an conflict "within" Roman Catholicism is because the form of the Roman Catholic theology was ever present in the reactionary theology of the protestant doctrinal works (and that remains the case).  The protestant doctrines were, as far as I can see, more often than not, Roman Catholic doctrines being brought to their logical conclusion or at the very least an exaggerated form of Roman Catholicism (for example: total depravity being an exaggerated form of Blessed Augustine's doctrinal statements concerning Original Sin).

To help you understand Orthodox theology a little:

One of the things I notice about Orthodox theological statements is that the same way in which they explain the doctrine of Ancestral Sin is the same way in which they explain the Eucharist.  The same way they explain the Church is the same way they explain marriage.  The same way they explain marriage is the same way they explain The Church.  The same way they explain faith and works is the same way they explain the Holy Trinity.  There are often distinctions but those distinctions can not and must not be isolated in practice otherwise you have division which is counter to the reality that there is unity and harmony.  True theology is organic and you can not remove one "part" from it's entirety otherwise you distort the whole.  Nothings seems to be "static" in Orthodox theology but instead dynamic and perpetual (movement).  

That is to say, it's not unlike an atom.  You can make theoretical statements about an atom.  You can make distinctions between the different parts of the atom.  What an atom is and isn't.  However, those distinctions must never split or be divorced from the reality of the atom or you get a Kaboom.  The doctrinal statements must never overstep the function and office of one part of the atom.  True doctrine must be lived.  True theology must be lived and or experienced.  For something to remain cognitively theoretical is itself a distortion of the reality of theology and doctrine.  Doctrines answer in part the question that Jesus asks, "who do you say I am?".  If you divorce Son of Man from Son of God in practice then you fall into delusion.  You nuke yourself.

If you look at the entire protestant body and the solas, the solas do what they do not have intention of doing.  Though the solas were supposed to reform (protestants) what they believed to be the original form (Roman Catholicism) in order to bring it back the true original form (which the Orthodox would say IS Orthodoxy but the protestant collective would say is protestantism) it wound up serving only to, in all reality, split the atom.  

Luther experienced the fruit of having put the weight of God onto his theological scales immediately after the split.  Scores of other theologians and "free-thinkers" came out of the woodwork to form their own reformed theologies counter and in contradiction to his own private opinion and if you look out your window you'll see that unlike those scientists that foresaw that once you split an atom a chain reaction occurs, it set off such a violent reaction that it is impossible to preserve a single church from disunity when the solas themselves ensure the preservation of further splits. It's structurally unsound.  

  A church splits.  That church splits.  That split church splits.  The split church splits into more isolated splits.  There are no safeguards. Luther himself were he to return would have to reform the Lutheran church as would all of the protestant Fathers.  Doing this, they too would have to split from their own mutated creations and bring them back to the forms they fashioned in their own image.  However, I feel the majority of Lutheran sub-denominations would probably protest against Luther.  So, due to the structure that the solas ensure, the protestant fathers would have no safeguards in place to stop this happening from their hypothetically newly reformed church and would have to return another hundred years in order to reform their mutations again.  

I'll post Patriarch Jeremiah's reply to the Lutheran "theologians" below.  Ironically, the Patriarch saw fit to use Chrysostom to show the Lutherans their errors (with love and humility mind you).  

And below that I'll also post Timothy Copples' explanation of "saved by Faith alone" written for inquirers and converts.  Timothy Copple is a "Reader" at an Orthodox Church.  


Christ is risen.

God bless
  


Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: Ryan2010 on Fri Jan 15, 2010 - 09:53:40
From the First Reply of Constantinople to Tubingen...

[6. The New Obedience]

The sixth [article] gives the assurance that it is necessary to do good works but not to be dependent on them according to the passage: "Enter not into judgment with thy servant" [Ps 143:2]. With regard to this we say that faith precedes, and then the works follow and are necessary according to the commandment of God. The one who fulfills them, as he must, receives reward and honor in everlasting life. Indeed, good works are not separate from, but necessary for, true faith. One should not trust in works nor be boastful in a Pharisaic manner. And even if we have fulfilled everything, according to the word of the Lord, "we are unworthy servants" [Lk 17:10]. All things should be referred to the righteousness of God because those things which have been offered by us are small or nothing at all. According to Chrysostom, it has been established that God does not lead those of us who are idle into His kingdom. The Lord "opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble" [1 Pet 5:5; see Jas 4:6; Pr 3:24]. One should not boast about works. But to do and fulfill them is most necessary. For without divine works it is impossible to be saved. If, then, we will be convinced by the Lord who says, "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them" [Jn 13:17], it shall be to our benefit.

It is necessary to join our good works together with the mercy from above. If we excuse ourselves because of our weakness or the goodness of God and do not add something of our own, there will be no benefit to us. How can we invoke mercy for the cure of our iniquities if it, no way have we done anything to appease the Divine One? Let us hear how Chrysostom explained [the words of] Psalm 129, "Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice" [1-2]:

    'From this we learn two things: that one cannot simply expect something from God if nothing from us is forthcoming,' because first it says, 'I cry,' and then follows, 'hear my voice.' Furthermore, lengthy prayer, full of tears, has more power to convince God to hearken to that which has been asked. But so no one may say that, since he is a sinner and full of thousands of evils, 'I cannot come before and pray, and call upon God, 'He takes away all doubt by saying: 'If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?' [Ps 129:3]. Here the word 'who' should be replaced by the word 'no one,' because there is no one, no one who, according to a strict account of his works, could ever attain mercy and benevolence. If you withdraw mercy and God justly imposes the penalty of the sentence and metes out punishments for sins, who will be able to bear the judgment? Of necessity all would have to submit to destruction. And we say these things not to draw down souls into carelessness, but rather to console those who have fallen into despair. Because who can boast that he has a pure heart? Or who can proclaim that he is free from sins? And what can I say of others? For if I bring Saint Paul into our midst and wish to ask of him to give an accurate account of what happened [in his case], he cannot hold his ground. For what can he say? He read the Prophets. He was a zealot with regard to the strictness of the law of the forefathers. He saw signs. Nevertheless, he had not yet ascended to that awesome sight which he enjoyed, nor had he heard that awesome voice. Before that he was, in all things, confused.

Furthermore, was not Peter, the chief [Apostle], who after thousands of miracles and such, reproved in council for his grievous fall? If, then, He shall not judge by mercy and compassion but will pronounce an accurate judgment, then [the Lord] will find all of us guilty. Therefore, the Apostle Paul said: 'I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me' [I Cor 4:4]. And the Prophet said: 'If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?' [Ps 129:3]. And the doubling [of the word Lord,] is not simply said, but [the Prophet] was amazed at, and surprised by, the greatness of God's mercy, His boundless majesty, and the fathomless sea of His goodness. He knew, and knew clearly, that we are responsible to God for many debts, and that even the smallest of sins are deserving of great punishment. 'For with thee is forgiveness' [Ps 129:3]. This means that escape from eternal punishment does not depend on our achievements but on Thy goodness... If we do not enjoy Thy mercy, our achievements alone do not suffice to snatch us from the future wrath. But now You have mercy and justice united together, and You prefer to use the former rather than the latter. And the Lord has plainly said this through the Prophet: I am He who blots out your transgressions' [Is 43:25], that is, this is of me, it is of my goodness because those things which are yours, even though they are good, will never be sufficient to free you from punishment if the work of my mercy were not added. And [the Lord] also [said]: 'I will carry you' [Is 46:4]. Indeed atonement rightfully belongs to God, He who is truly merciful. Therefore, He examines sparingly. 'For Thy name's sake I have waited for Thee, O Lord' [Ps 129:5]. Because of Thy name, which is merciful, I have waited for salvation. When I was looking to matters of myself, I would again despair as in former times; but now, attending to Thy law and fulfilling Thy words, I have high expectations. Thou are He who said, 'as the heaven is distant from the earth' [Is 55:9], 'so my counsels are not as your counsels, nor are my ways as your ways' [Is 55:8]. And again: 'As the heaven is high above the earth, so the Lord has increased His mercy toward those who fear Him' [Ps 102:11]; that is, not only have I [God] saved those who accomplish [good] things, but I also have spared the sinners, and amid your iniquities I have demonstrated my guardianship.

In Ezekiel He says: 'I do not do this, except for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations' [Ezek 36:22]. [This passage] says that we are not worthy to be saved, nor did we have any hope because of what we had done, but we look forward to being saved for His name's sake. This is the hope of salvation and the sacred anchor which has been left for us, who repent in order to be granted His mercy. If we are obedient, we shall eat the good of the land [cf. Is 1:19] and we shall inherit the promise. It is necessary, therefore, to hope in God, even if myriads oppress us and drive us to despair and threaten [us with] death. For Him all things are easy; and for the impossible, He can find a way. For with Him is the fountain of redemption, the sea of salvation, the treasure of mercy which springs up eternally [see Ps 36:910; Mt 18:21 f]. Where there is mercy, there also is redemption, and not only a little, but much, for the sea of mercy knows no bounds. If, then, we are bound up by our sins, it is not necessary to fall again, nor to be despondent. For wherever there is mercy and charity, there is no strict reckoning of iniquities by the one who judges. Because of His great mercy and inclination toward charity, many sins are overlooked. Being such a judge, God grants mercy without ceasing and grants pardon; He is compassionate and loves mankind and imparts salvation to all who have repented and who, according to their ability, perform the good. For truly He is good and abundantly pours forth everywhere the greatness of His mercy, and from Him is that which is truly mercy; it is very clear that He will save His own people, not punish them. Let us then offer those things we have done with all exactitude and wisdom, and let us cherish everything that is from Him, who possesses untold mercy. [12]

Wisdom comes first [to indicate] that a praiseworthy life is one that is cleansed by God rather than one that is deposed. The persons who are without remorse, walking in sin, inclining toward the baser things and are gluttonous, wallowing in the slime, never look to heaven, do not wish to be pitied; for they do not realize how greviously they suffer. It is better for someone to be polluted with unclean mud than with sins. Those who have fallen in the pit of sin will perish utterly unless they cleanse their defilement not with water, but with great toil and time and sincere repentance, with tears, with wailings, and with the customary spiritual cleansing. These are the true satisfactions, and not those made through bribes, which arouse the anger of God against those who take them. And, thus, they are subject to myriads of evil things; and every misfortune sent by God comes to them. There is no forgiveness of sins possible for such persons because zeal is directed toward their own personal gain. External filth can be dusted off very rapidly, but that which is carried around within is not readily washed away. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, fornication, adultery," [Mt 15:19] and the like. For this reason the Prophet also said: "Create in me a clean heart, O God" [Ps 50:10]. And another: "Cleanse your heart from wickedness, O Jerusalem" [Jer 4:14]. And do you see here what pertains to us and what pertains to God? And again: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" [Mt 5:8].

Let us become cleansed as far as our minds can comprehend and as much as we are capable of becoming. How can this be done? "Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove your evils from your souls before my eyes" [Is 1:16]. He says: "Do not become like whitewashed tombs" [Mt 23:27], appearing to be guiltless; but, thus, remove [evils from your souls] as being seen by God. "Though your sins are like purple, I will make them white as snow" [Is 1:18]. Do you not see that we have to clean ourselves first, and then God will make us white as snow? For this reason no one, not even those who sink down to the lowest evil, should despair. Even if it becomes a habit for someone and he has almost arrived to the nature of evil in itself, let him not be afraid. For even colors which do not fade and have almost become one with the material, nevertheless, are transformed into the opposite condition and become white as snow. Thus, He grants us good hope. Let us seriously try as much as we can to become clean.

Let us pursue good works. Let us not seek the speck that is in the eye of another, but let us see the log that is in our own [cf. Mt 7:3]. And, thus, with the grace of God, we shall be able to attain worthily the good things to come. Therefore, the power of works is great; and even when they commit sins, God cleanses them through repentance. One should not boast of them nor depend on them, for that would be sinful; but as much as you are able, fulfill the works which are the result of faith and are necessary. For if those who have cast out demons and who have prophesied are rejected, and have not lived a comparable life, how much more [shall we be rejected] if we are negligent and do not fulfill the commandments? Christ will say to such persons: "I never knew you" [Mt 7:23; cf. Lk 13:27].

We believe correctly to glorify Him and we live the good life to glorify Him, for there is no benefit of one without the other. And furthermore, when, perchance, we praise Him rightly but do not live properly according to the commandment, then we greatly insult Him. And although we give Him the title of Master and Teacher, we, nevertheless, scorn Him and do not fear His awesome judgment. The fact that the pagan Greeks lived an impure life is no surprise, nor are they deserving of such great condemnation. However, being Christians, who participate in so many sacraments, [and] who enjoy such glory yet live impurely is much worse and intolerable and beyond all compassion.

If, as the saying goes, we were to look earnestly toward the great and infinite compassion of God and His extraordinarily great gifts, and imagine that we will be saved by grace alone in the manner of the ingrates, we cannot hope to benefit. And besides, our own deeds, even if they may approach perfection, are nothing in comparison, except that they are supplementary and demonstrate our disposition—namely, that we are thankful, that we obey the commandments and perform good and virtuous deeds so that we may not be placed into paradise like insensible creatures, which absolutely is not done but, by our preference, through the grace of God. If we prefer to incline toward sin, we shall appear insensible as paying attention to non-existing things. Indeed, we must avoid it [sin] and detest it since it places us far away from God. And when we intend to commit a sin, then we must conjecture and imagine the dread and intolerable court of Christ in which the judge is sitting on a high and elevated throne to judge those who have lived. All creation is present and trembling at His glorious appearance.

Endnotes

12. St. Basil, On Baptism, 2.4, PG 31.1589; cf. St. Basil, Ascetical Works, vol. 9, 399.
From the Second Reply of Constantinople to Tubingen...

Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: Ryan2010 on Fri Jan 15, 2010 - 09:54:48
Continued.......

[C.] CONCERNING JUSTIFICATION AND GOOD WORKS

[I. The Distinction between Law and Spiritual Law]

Following is the third section concerning justification by faith and good works, which shall be further explained. We do not merely say that those who obey the law shall be justified, but those who obey the spiritual law, which is understood spiritually and according to the inner man. Indeed, by "fulfilling the law of the spirit as much as we are able, we will be justified and we will not fall from grace because the Cleansing Word has passed into the depths of the soul. However, those who serve the law according to its outward expression fall totally from divine grace, for they do not know" that the completion by grace of the spiritual law cleanses the mind from every spot; nor do they know the end of the law, which is Christ. He, as the maker of all, is also the maker of the law of nature, and as He who preconceived the law, is giver both of that which is written in the letter and also of that which is in spirit or in grace. "For Christ is the end of the law" [Rom 10:4], that is to say, of the written law understood spiritually. Therefore, in Christ the Creator, who preconceived the law as lawgiver and redeemer, the law of nature, the written law, and that of grace are drawn together. The Apostle [Paul] speaks the truth when he says: "according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men" [Rom 2:16]. That is to say, just as he preached through Jesus Christ in all laws, he rebuked some and accepted others in a fitting way, giving to each his due. If, then, one is judged according to the law, he will be judged in Christ; or if he is judged outside the law, again he will be judged in Him [Christ]. The Logos, as creator, is the beginning and the mediator and the end of all that exists. Having been begotten without sin, He had stripped himself of all rule and authority [cf. Col 2:10] even though in some way He also put them on. For He, the Logos of God, who became perfect man without sin, had the characteristics of the first Adam, as at the beginning, being free from corruption and sin. For when Adam transgressed the commandment, he was condemned to give birth through suffering and in sin from which [transgression] no one is [born] without sin. And since sin thus came because of the transgression, and nature was bound by an evil bond on account of the decision, while the evil spirits invisibly are at work, because of this the Logos of God, out of merciful compassion, has set us free by becoming man. He also has commanded that one should not contemplate that which is against nature, nor work evil, but avoid it as much as possible and hold fast only to the virtues and commandments. If something evil chances to come in a human way, we must throw it off and hasten to subordinate the more wicked to the stronger good, and subject the flesh to the spirit by exercising virtue and doing good works. For as we know, human nature has been bereft of the good works, having become barren through transgression. Indeed, the voice of the crying word became the voice according to the conscience of each one who transgressed, as it were crying out of the secret recesses of the heart: prepare the way of the Lord [cf. Jer 43:3; Mk 1:3]. Therefore, the explicit and clear preparation of the divine way constituted change and correction of living and reasoning for the better, and for the cleansing of the polluted former living and reasoning. Indeed, the way of the Lord, the good, royal and glorious way, is the life of virtue. In such a life in which the Word [Logos] works the way of salvation in each one, He dwells in us through faith and tarries among us through the various laws and teachings pertaining to both virtue and knowledge [cf. Eph 3:17]. Indeed, the paths of the word are the various kinds of virtues, the various ways of life according to God, and the pursuits of living according to God. The people who honestly pursue virtue according to God's will, make these paths straight. For the divine Word does not proceed in the paths which are not straight, even if the divine Word would find the way to some degree prepared. For instance, were one to fast and thus avoid the inflammatory diet of the passions and do other things which are able to contribute to the expulsion of wickedness, he would have prepared the way. But if he practices these things for the sake of vanity, or greed, or to please men, he has not provided for God to walk in his paths. For the way of the Lord is virtue, and the way of the straight path is without guile. Furthermore, as Scripture says: "the valley shall be filled." The flesh of each one, which has been inundated by the strong current of passions, is to be set right and lifted up through good works. Therefore, let us with great joy send far off every vice which rises up against virtue, "and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God" [2 Cor 10:5]. Being converted by the Holy Spirit, let us journey on the way of the Lord by directing the members of the body by His divine commandments and freed from passions of every sort, desiring the true life. Thus, surely, we shall see the salvation of God by becoming "pure in heart" [Mt 5:8]. Through true faith and works which proclaim faith, we prepare the divine ascent [reign] of the Word.

[2. Concerning Grace and Works]

Moreover, we should especially know that grace not only of itself works in the saints the knowledge of the mysteries, but also that grace works in the worthy ones, who have powers by nature, the capability of receiving the knowledge. The one, then, needs the other; grace needs works, and works need grace. As light needs sight and sight needs light, the soul needs the body and the body needs the soul. Then, clearly, both [grace and works] are those things which lead to salvation; it is unambiguously necessary for one to have both—correct faith with [good] works, and works of virtue by faith. One must believe without hesitation. For with doubt and hesitation in faith, faith is not complete. Also, if faith has once been accepted, it is further deepened by searching to investigate it. For simplicity of the faith is stronger than rational proofs. Also, simple faith is stronger than the faith which is not simple—immeasurably stronger. For when one searches the depths of faith, it rises in waves, but it becomes tranquil when considered with a simple disposition.

[3. Idle Faith and Faithless Work]

Therefore, since it is undoubtedly and completely sure that we must believe without doubt, only this remains, that which it is necessary to seek with all one's might and is to be found by every means. What in reality is this? It is this: that we may attain salvation with all that we do. For idle faith and works without faith are both rejected in the sight of God. Let us consider what has been said in the light of the following: for God, who has shown himself to us as being of three hypostases, has also shown this most evident way to us. And, indeed, know also that faith, hope, and love [cf. I Cor 13:13], the golden threefold rainbow, when kept by us, effects salvation for us.

[4. Faith in Hope and Love]

And now we will elaborate at length: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" [Heb 11:1]. In faith, the impossible is possible; weakness becomes strength; suffering is painless; and the perishable, imperishable; and the mortal, immortal. Indeed, "this is a great mystery" [Eph 5-32]. Hope is a wealth of unthinkable riches, and without doubt it is a treasure beyond treasures. Love is the source of faith, a depth of mercy, a sea of humility, and exaltation of holy souls, a likeness to God, as far as is possible for humans. Apart from these three it is impossible to find salvation. The three greatest witnesses of the past in our midst are sufficient to confirm the matter.

[5. The Apostles on the Means of Justification]

Come thou, Peter, leader of the venerable Apostles, and thou, John, the most beloved in Christ, and thou, James the Just, the first bishop of Jerusalem, bear witness concerning what has been said. Peter in the first chapter of his Second Epistle cries out in this manner and solemnly testifies thus:

    for this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours, and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted [2 Pet 1:5-9].

Moreover, the Son of Thunder (the Evangelist John] in the first chapter of his First Epistle says:

    'that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin' [I Jn 1:5-7]. 'He who says he is the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling' [I Jn 2:9-10]. 'He who does not love [his brother] remains in death. Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him' [I Jn 3:14-15].

Also, in the third chapter of the same Epistle: "but if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need" [I Jn 3:17], etc., and [John says] many other things concerning love.

[6. Saint James on the Relation of Faith and Works]

Also, the brother of God [James] in the 2nd chapter of his Epistle agrees saying:

    What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has  not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead. But someone will say: 'You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.' You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son, Isaac, upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness'; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone, as we said a short time ago. For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead [cf. Jas 2:14-24, 26].
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: Ryan2010 on Fri Jan 15, 2010 - 09:55:22
continued.....


[7. Intercorrelation of Faith, Hope, and Love for Salvation]

Let us consider whether it has not been said in vain, that apart from faith, hope, and love, it is impossible to be saved. For as we, indeed, need the eyes of our body for viewing visible things, so doubtless we have need of faith for the study of the divine things. For as knowledge of the matters comes according to the proportion of the accomplishments of the commandments, so also the knowledge of the truth comes according to the measure of the hope in Christ [cf. Jn 7:17]. And as, indeed, it is meet to worship nothing else than God, so one should not hope in any other than God alone who is the One who cares for all [cf. Mt 4: 10]. As he who has hope in man is accursed, so blessed is he who rests in God. And just as the memory of the flame does not warm the body, in the same manner faith without love does not effect the light of knowledge in the soul. Indeed, it is impossible for love to be found apart from hope. Hence, the Holy Fathers say one thing is permanent: the hope in God. All other things are not in reality, but merely thought. He who has fastened his heart on the power of faith has nothing without works. And when one has nothing, he limits everything to faith. Indeed, the power of faith is in good works. And he who has been deprived of love, has been deprived of God himself. One ought to strive in such works and also hope in Him. For if you ask yourself or another true Christian on what ground the ones being saved have hope of salvation, he would by all means say that we hope only in the mercy of God. But this is the forbearance of God. For if He would not endure evil for us, no one would be saved, since no one among men is without sin. "If even his life on the earth should be but one day on the earth" [Job 14:4-5]. Therefore, if we have the hope of salvation in the forbearance of God, this hope of salvation, indeed, is given only to those who endure the evil and not to those who bear malice. Let us then, as far as possible, be patient, piously forgiving others who have trespassed against us; and then the Heavenly Father will not only forgive us, but He will bestow upon us life everlasting in Christ.

[8. Religious Awe and Obedience Presupposed for Good Works]

Therefore, wherever religious awe of divine things and obedience to the words of the Holy Fathers are abandoned, there no good works can be built up, nor the true faith which proves itself by good works. In other words, how would we be worthy of the beatitudes, which are laid up hidden in the faith if we are persuaded only by evidence according to human reason. Why did the Gentiles "become futile in their thinking and their senseless minds darkened; and claiming to be wise, became fools?" [Rom 1:21]. Is it not because they had refused obedience to the preaching of faith and followed the dictates of this reasoning? Isaiah lamented bitterly concerning such men as being condemned. "Woe unto those who are wise in their own eyes and shrewd in their own sight!" [cf. Is 5:21]. For the Godhead, as it seems to the illustrious Athanasios, is not delivered to us by demonstration in words, but by faith and by pious and reverent use of reason. [66] And the Apostle Paul preached concerning the redemptive cross "not with eloquent wisdom" [I Cor 1:17], "but in demonstration of the spirit and power" [I Cor 2:4]; and, thus, he [Paul] tells of the "man caught up into Paradise" who heard powers "that cannot be told, [67] which man may not utter" [2 Cor 12:4]. How will one believe by reasoning the truth of the Holy Trinity, who has not simply believed?

Do you see how all the divine teachers repudiate curious reasoning and throw it all out of the household of God? For anyone who has lost what he had before seeks to find it. Yet he who has lost nothing but has kept in completeness that which he possessed from the beginning does not seek it anymore, but merely keeps well that which he possesses. We, then, have learned to keep the faith and not be seeking after many things. We, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, have lost nothing, and we seek nothing; the search after a faith [that has not been lost] is self-defeating. Therefore, just as the one who believes does not seek, likewise neither does the one who seeks believe. The one who continues to seek has not yet found, nor has he truly and steadfastly believed as he should. Where there is seeking, there is no faith; and there where faith exists, there is no need for seeking, but there is a need of the fruits of faith, which are good works. For he who is convinced by words can also be induced to adopt a different opinion. But he who is convinced by faith fortifies himself and is a confirmed believer. Therefore, we do not seek to hear the polluted words and those that are sought in faith but which do not refer to the common meanings to see if they [hearing] agree, but only to prove if they are in accord with the enunciated dogmas of the Church—even if it happens that they negate all the doctrines of philosophy. For we have not been guided to the truth by words of wisdom, nor have we been initiated to any discernable degree into the mystery of the Trinity, nor, indeed, have we learned any other doctrine from it [philosophy] than the dogmas of the faith. For the matter of philosophy, as you well know, is ontological. But the end purpose of theology is He, who is above all beings and creator of everything. It is, then, neither necessary to think of the faith as an art, nor subject to criticism that which has been approved by theologians, but to continue in those matters which the spiritual preachers have made clear. For if we would rely upon our own reasoning, we would be in danger of sinking in the chaos in which Anaxagoras fell. May Christ the King preserve us from it. [68]

[9. Saint John Chrysostom—Works Are Indispensable]

In addition, Saint Chrysostom, also, in interpreting the six days of creation in his fourth homily [On Genesis], proves that works are indispensable:

    Therefore, I ask, let us not become careless about keeping the commandments, but let us control our thoughts, First, then, let us try to win over our neighbor with love [brotherly affection] [cf. Rom 12:9f] and according to the blessed Paul, 'outdo one another in showing honor' [Rom 12:10]. For this is, indeed, what holds together and preserves our life; and in this we are distinguished from the animals and the beasts, that we can, if we will, keep the appropriate order in us, and show great concord with our fellow men, and restrain our thoughts, and crush anger, that untamed beast, and always have before it the struggle of the awesome judgement. For it is not fitting for us to simply spend the time without purpose; but every day and hour we should have before our eyes the judgement of the Lord, and also those things which can give great assurance, and those things which emphasize punishment. And thus recalling these things in our minds, let us overcome our base passions. Let us restrain the temptations of our flesh and 'put to death,' in the words of blessed Paul, 'What is earthly in you' [Col 3:5] that we may be able to receive the 'fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, etc.' [Gal 5:22]. For the grace of God makes us more sturdy than a diamond and in every way invincible, if we would will it. Let this be the difference between a Christian and the ungodly person: that he [the Christian] wishes to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. Let us not pride ourselves in name only, nor be conceited on account of external appearance. But even if we would possess the things, we should not be greatly conceited, but rather should we humble ourselves even more. Scripture says: 'when you have done all, say we are unworthy servants' [Lk 17:10]. If we would think thus and be concerned about our own salvation, we will be able to benefit ourselves and also rescue from the future hell those who have us for their teachers, so that when we accomplish with strictness this course of life, we may be deemed worthy of God's love for mankind in the future age. [69]

Therefore, one cannot find consolation in that [future] life, who has not in the present life cleansed himself of sins. 'For in Hades,' Scripture says, 'who will give to thee praise?' [Ps 6:5; cf. Sir 17:25]. And rightly so! For this [life] is the time of toil and of contests and of wrestling, and the future life is the time of wreaths and of rewards and of prizes [cf. I Cor 9:24]. Therefore, let us struggle as we still continue in the stadium so that in time, when it is proper, we may receive the wreath and accept the rewards of the toils with assurance. This is not merely said ... but we wish to remind you each day to remember to carry out good works so that when you have been perfected and accomplished and shine in the virtue of the manners of fife, 'that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish' [Phil 2:15; Mt 5:14] and 'shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ' [Phil 2:16] we may be proud, that even when you are merely manifest, you have benefited those who associate with you and those who communicate with you in conversation by sharing in a spiritual fragrance and excellent manner of life which are characteristic of you. For just as it happens that keeping company with bad persons is injurious to those who associate with them, it is as the blessed Paul says: 'bad company ruins good morals' [I Cor 15:33].

In like manner, also, keeping company with good persons greatly benefits those who associate with them. Therefore, our Master who loves mankind has allowed the good to associate with the wicked, so that the latter will benefit some from this association and not remain continually in wickedness; but having before them a constant reminder, they will reap more benefits from their association with the good Persons. For such is the power of virtue, that even those who abandon it do greatly respect it and render great praise for it [virtue] as also do those who are evil. Let us give heed concerning matters of virtue before it is too late, and we unwittingly punish ourselves. May it not be so. Do you see that there is need for works and, indeed, for vigorous works and most excellent? Now, indeed, the discussion concerning these matters is sufficient. [70]
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: Ryan2010 on Fri Jan 15, 2010 - 10:00:18
Here too, Copple addresses the Church Fathers in regards to "sola fide": 

How We Are Saved by Faith Alone
1 Timothy 1:12-17

Reader Timothy Copple

    (1 Tim 1:12-14 NKJV) And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, (13) although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. (14) And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

After having dealt with those who "desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what say nor the things which they affirm," St. Paul moves to express the mystery of the Gospel upon which the whole of one’s salvation is founded.

To those who wish to base our salvation upon our own ability to "know" God in human knowledge, listen to what St. Symeon the New Theologian has to say:

    "For no one is able to think of speak properly about what concerns the holy Trinity from just reading the Scriptures. One instead accepts it by faith alone, abides with what has been written, and does not dabble with anything more. As for those who are curious and dare to meddle cheerfully with divine things, [they should understand that] it is not possible to say anything at all outside of what has been written and taught by the fathers.

    "Listen to what Christ says in confirmation:

    "’No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him [Mt 11:27]’

    "With these and similar sayings He therefore shuts up the shameless and flapping mouths of those people who say and think that by exterior wisdom and book-learning they know the whole truth, know God Himself, and possess knowledge of the mysteries hidden in God’s Spirit."
    (St. Symeon the New Theologian, "Ninth Ethical Discourse")

For those who would believe that our salvation depends upon our ability to perform certain task correctly, St. Symeon also has a few things to say on this account.

    "Since according the divine Apostle it is ‘Not because of works, lest any man should boast’ [Eph 3:9] that salvation comes to us who believe, we must not be confident at all in our works—I mean fasting and vigils, sleeping on the ground, hunger and thirst, binding the body with irons or troubling it with hair shirts. These things are nothing at all, because many indeed among the evil-doers and the wretched have endured such things and remained the same, neither ceasing from their evil nor improving from their wickedness. While these actions do contribute a little to dragging the body down toward humility, or better, to incapacity and infirmity, yet this by itself is not what God is seeking. He longs instead for a broken spirit, a humble and contrite heart, and for us always to speak our heart to Him with humility: ‘Who am I, my Master and God, that You came down and took flesh and died for me, so that You could deliver me from death and corruption, and make me a communicant and participant of Your glory and divinity?’ When, according to the invisible movements of your heart, you find yourself in this state, you will discover Him immediately embracing you and kissing you mystically, and bestowing on you a right spirit in your inward parts, a spirit of freedom and of remission of your sins. Nor this alone but, crowning you as well with His gifts, He will make you glorious with wisdom and knowledge."
    (St. Symeon the New Theologian, "Eighth Ethical Discourse")

So you see here in St. Paul these same evidences. One, he was a "blasphemer" of God, because he was persecuting and seeking to fight against that which God had put in place. Two, he did this out of "ignorance" because he did not really know God. Before Christ appeared to him on the Damascus Road, he thought He had knowledge, but it was only human knowledge of the Law. He thought He had a righteousness as one of the strictest of the Pharisees in following the letter of the Law. However, when he encountered Christ in His glory, he was blinded yet he was not destroyed. He fell to the ground, in order that he might be raised up in Christ. He was led by the hand in darkness that he would be led to Christ who is the light. This is due to God’s grace and mercy. All St. Paul’s knowledge and works had brought him was to actually find himself fighting against God rather than for Him since he did not really know Him. Only when St. Paul came face to face with the risen Christ does he then see the folly of what he once thought was wisdom. All the saints confess that knowledge of God does not come from our own ability to deduce, induce or to systematically understand God purely on a factual knowledge of Him. Rather, it is through putting on Christ and dying to the Old Man, being illumined and having our passions burned from us in the fiery grace of His abiding presence in us.

This salvation is due to the grace of our Lord which comes with "faith and love." Even in this, this faith and love comes as we are "in Christ". As St. Paul says elsewhere, it is a gift. We cannot earn it, we cannot lay any kind of claim to acquiring it of our own merits. The only foundation for our salvation lays in the grace of Christ Jesus our Lord, and our faith therein.

    (1 Tim 1:15-17) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (16) However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. (17) Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

We are familiar with the "chief of sinners" statement. We recite that phrase at each liturgy in preparation for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Gifts. Rightly we mystically recognize that each of us are the "chief of sinners". Why? How can everyone be the "first and worst" of sinners?

St. Paul had a special claim to this title. After all, he actively sought the deaths and torture of God’s people. He was consumed with a "zeal without knowledge" and in so doing became widely known as one to be feared by Christians when he came to town. He sincerely felt that he was the chief of sinners, because of his outright opposition to God. Despite the fact that he was indeed the "chief of sinners" yet he received mercy from God, making him a pattern for us. This thought is expressed by St. John Chrysostom’s homily on these passages:

    "But how is it, that he here calls himself a sinner, nay, the chief of sinners, whereas he elsewhere asserts that he was "touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless"? (Phil. iii. 6.) Because with respect to the righteousness which God has wrought, the justification which is really sought, even those who are righteous in the law are sinners, "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. iii. 23.) Therefore he does not say righteousness simply, but "the righteousness which is in the law." As a man that has acquired wealth, with respect to himself appears rich, but upon a comparison with the treasures of kings is very poor and the chief of the poor; so it is in this case. Compared with Angels, even righteous men are sinners; and if Paul, who wrought the righteousness that is in the law, was the chief of sinners, what other man can be called righteous? For he says not this to condemn his own life as impure, let not this be imagined; but comparing his own legal righteousness with the righteousness of God, he shows it to be nothing worth, and not only so, but he proves those who possess it to be sinners."

You see, we are not comparing ourselves against each other, as if we were the chief of sinners among men and women, but we are comparing ourselves against God, we are all the chief of sinners. On a personal level, we also see ourselves as the chief of sinners among those around us as well, since we are not called to judge anyone else but ourselves. If we do not believe ourselves to be the chief, then we have judged our brother as being worse of a sinner than we are and will be judged ourselves in the same manner by God. In this manner, we are called to focus on our own unworthiness before God, knowing like St. Paul that we are blasphemers in our actions and thoughts, even if they might be done from habit or ignorance. Yet we recognize that we are, like St. Paul, finding ourselves fighting against God by relying upon our own intellect and abilities as a foundation of our salvation.

Now we get to this phrase made popular by Martin Luther in the Reformation, which we find St. Symeon using above: Faith alone. Are you surprised that he used this phrase? Do not be, for he is not alone among the Fathers. In his homily on these very verses, we also find St. John Chrysostom using these very words himself:


    "That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. "

And again:

    "As the Jews were chiefly attracted by this, he persuades them not to give heed to the law, since they could not attain salvation by it without faith. Against this he contends; for it seemed to them incredible, that a man who had mis-spent all his former life in vain and wicked actions, should afterwards be saved by his faith alone."

What are we to make of this? Why the big problem with being saved by "faith alone" if even the Church Fathers taught this? You will note, however, that just as St. Paul and St. James do not then say that because our works are not a foundation to our salvation, that they are a hindrance to it. Rather it is the fulfillment of faith. To divorce works from faith is to make it abstract and lifeless. The opposite of faith is unbelief. The chief characterisitic of either is in what we do or do not put our trust in. As St. Symeon also says:

    "Knowledge of these things is for them whose intellect is illumined daily by the Holy Spirit on account of their purity of soul, whose eyes have been clearly opened by the rays of the Sun of righteousness, whose word of knowledge and word of wisdom is through the Spirit alone, whose understanding and fear of God, through love and peace, are preserved firmly in faith by the sanctity and goodness of their way of life."
    (St. Symeon the New Theologian, "Ninth Ethical Discourse")

At the beginning of the Eighth Ethical Discourse, St. Symeon gives us the context in which the Father’s understand being saved by "faith alone."

    "And, wishing to show us the way of salvation, He says: ‘God sent His Son into the world, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life’ [3:16]. Whoever therefore believes these things from his heart and is assured that Christ came not to judge but to save him, and not by his own labor or effort or sweat, but by faith alone in Him: how, tell me, should he not then love Him with all his soul and all his mind?"

You see, it is not "by faith alone," period. Rather it is "by faith, in Christ alone" that we are saved. Our whole belief and trust is in Him alone. If our trust is in our intellect or our own abilities to perform works of righteousness, then we neither believe Him nor have faith alone in Him. If we thus really believe Him, have put our trust in Him alone as our only source of salvation, knowledge, wisdom and glory, and this is not simply a saying of our lips and brain but a heart felt conviction; then our outer man will also show forth its conformity to this belief and faith by doing all it’s works and activities as building on that foundation. Faith alone in Him results in the Holy Spirit writing the Law on our heart as promised by the prophets and fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Then, as St. Symeon says in another place, the commandments are worn as an adornment and not as a straightjacket. They are as medicine to our prideful soul bring us to health, not works of self-righteousness leading us to further delusion, illness and death of the soul. They guide us in the spirit of obedience, breaking of the will, and humility to God.

Faith, then, involves our whole self, the intellect, the heart and the body. Salvation by faith alone is in essence a renunciation of ourselves as a foundation. We no longer trust ourselves. We no longer trust our will. We trust, only Christ. The more we deaden the passions of our own will and heart do we open ourselves up to receive the passion of Christ alone. St. Symeon puts it thus:

    "What else is so dear to God and welcome as a contrite and humble heart, and pride laid low in a spirit of humility? It is in such a condition of soul that God Himself comes to dwell and make His rest, and that every machination of the devil remains ineffective. All the corrupting passions of sin vanish completely. The fruit of the Holy Spirit alone weighs heavy in the soul, that fruit which is love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, humility, all-embracing continence, followed in succession and beauty by divine knowledge, the wisdom of the Word, and the abyss of Christ’s hidden councils and mysteries. He who has arrived at becoming and being endowed with these qualities is changed for the good, and from a man he becomes an angel. In the body here-below he circulates among men, but in his spirit he lives and converses with the angels, and in joy inexpressible stretches himself out to the love of God. To that love no one among men has ever drawn near unless first he purified his heart through repentance and many tears, and penetrated the depths of humility, and became pregnant with the Holy Spirit, by the grace and love for mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom be glory, honor, and majesty to the Father together with the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."
    (St. Symeon the New Theologian, "Eighth Ethical Discourse")

This is the faith and hope of St. Paul in writing these words, and the inexpressible gift of love that God bestows on us if only we approach Him in repentance, tears of the soul, and humility as the chief of sinners. Some might think that this seems depressing and hard. We want joy and happiness. What the saints have found, however, is that just as worldly joy and happiness leads one to sadness and gloom, dying daily to our desire for these things, bringing ourselves to the cross of our sins by allowing the brightness of His light to shine in us, we will discover a joy and peace that the world cannot give. This is where the faith and the trust in Christ comes in, because our first reaction to the light is to run away. Like St. Paul we tend to become blinded, experiencing the full humiliation and force of our sins by His presence. If, however, we trust in Him, allow Him to led us by the hand, we will in time also have our sight restored, our sins cleaned up, and the joy of God shining in our souls. It is this contrast which brings St. Paul to praise God, for even though He had a very big pile of sins of the most grievous kind, yet God was merciful. We too can count on that kind of mercy and compassion before God if we will but endure the painful, messy struggle of shining the light of Christ on our sins and allowing Him to instill in us the virtues of His character. From this comes true joy and happiness as St. Paul expresses in these brief words of thanksgiving for what God has done. He is our pattern. Follow him as he follows Christ.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Fri Jan 15, 2010 - 22:02:22
Ryan,
Unfortunately, I don't have enough time to read all of your posts.  I skimmed them, however, and all I can say is that it seems that the Church Fathers really do teach that we are justified by faith alone.  If you want to argue that salvation cannot be pinned only onto justification, then I would also agree with this.  Lutherans say that we believe in JBFA, but we don't say that salvation is only by faith....we believe, like the Orthodox, that works should flow from faith.  If they don't, then we'd say that such a person doesn't appear to have faith.  To Lutherans, faith is not an intellectual assent, as it seems to be defined in the Evangelical world, rather it is analogous to trust.  That's why it can be said that the demons believe but are not saved.  They might believe that Jesus exists, but they don't trust in Him for anything.
I'm stumped....the quotes that I saw from you seem to reinforce what I believe, not contradict it.  It also points out that I think the Orthodox and Lutherans are saying pretty much the same thing but using different words.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: trifecta on Tue Jan 19, 2010 - 19:13:08
Greetings, Dan.   Sorry for my lateness (and brevity)

Ryan,
Unfortunately, I don't have enough time to read all of your posts.  I skimmed them, however, and all I can say is that it seems that the Church Fathers really do teach that we are justified by faith alone.

Then why did Orthodox scholars for centuries disagree?  Why does Chrysostom, for example, say that works are indispensible?    Ryan posted whole texts disagreeing with this idea.   Why did Luther have problems with Chrystostom?

Quote
  If you want to argue that salvation cannot be pinned only onto justification, then I would also agree with this.  Lutherans say that we believe in JBFA, but we don't say that salvation is only by faith....we believe, like the Orthodox, that works should flow from faith.

Catholics believe this too.  Works are evidence of what flows from within.

Quote
  If they don't, then we'd say that such a person doesn't appear to have faith.  To Lutherans, faith is not an intellectual assent, as it seems to be defined in the Evangelical world, rather it is analogous to trust.  That's why it can be said that the demons believe but are not saved.  They might believe that Jesus exists, but they don't trust in Him for anything.

Interesting and valid point.

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I'm stumped....the quotes that I saw from you seem to reinforce what I believe, not contradict it.  It also points out that I think the Orthodox and Lutherans are saying pretty much the same thing but using different words.

Dan, the Church Fathers are not something you can skim and scan though.  (I explain why earlier in this thread).  I'll admit, I prefer to take the words of experts that know more than I do.  It seems to me that Pastor Weedon has taken quote chunks from long writings and concluded what he wanted to conclude.

Simply put, Orthodox scholars are better than Western ones.  They do not suffer from undue Augustinian influence,  do not take things out of context, really understand Greek, refuse to reduce the faith to legal terms, and unlike Luther, don't have an ax to grind. 
 
Thanks for reading.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Wed Jan 20, 2010 - 20:44:51
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Then why did Orthodox scholars for centuries disagree?  Why does Chrysostom, for example, say that works are indispensible?    Ryan posted whole texts disagreeing with this idea.
I think there is an element of the Orthodox disdaining the Western Church, for one.  I also think that the Lutherans were viewed as "upstarts" and not necessarily real Church people.  Naturally, the Lutherans did not have Apostolic Succession after being kicked out of the Western Church, so I don't know that the Orthodox really knew how to handle the Lutherans.  In any event, I'm sure that they would have considered themselves to be the big brothers who were not willing to accept any disagreements from the Lutherans.  From what I have read, there is a definite sense of not being willing to negotiate any theology, which is understandable, so I think the Lutherans would have had to agree 100% or else go away, which in the end is what they did.
In my opinion, Lutherans also think that works are indispensable, but they do not justify us.  That part isn't negotiable, but that does not mean that Chrysostom is rejected.  Therefore, since we agree with Chrysostom in this passage, but at some other point Chrysostom says something else, then the real problem would not be that Luther argues against Chrysostom, but rather that Chrysostom argues with Chrysostom.

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Why did Luther have problems with Chrystostom?
I don't know.  I'm trying to find out more information about that before I reply.

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Simply put, Orthodox scholars are better than Western ones.  They do not suffer from undue Augustinian influence,  do not take things out of context, really understand Greek, refuse to reduce the faith to legal terms, and unlike Luther, don't have an ax to grind.  
Thinking that the Orthodox scholars are "better" than Western ones is simply your opinion, that's all.  It is not inappropriate to discuss the Faith in legal terms, for that is what is used in Scripture.  God gave us the Law, and wrote it into our hearts.  "Paraclete" translates to "defense attorney".  God refers to Himself as being just, and talks often of justice, and judges man.  These are all legal terms, so it is hardly a case of reducing the faith to legal terms when we speak in the same language as Scripture.
Luther certainly did have an axe to grind....that was bound to happen given the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at that point in time.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: trifecta on Thu Jan 21, 2010 - 19:04:17
Hi Dan.  Thanks for your thoughtful response.

I think there is an element of the Orthodox disdaining the Western Church, for one.

Maybe so, but there is good reason for that.  Take the filioque: this was added into Creed to combat a local Christian heresy.  It's addition caused an unbalanced Trinity (which can be examined more on the filioque thread.)  The point is the West was willing to compromise on the doctrine of the Trinity to combat a local heresy.   Then, there is Augustine and Acquinas. . .   

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I also think that the Lutherans were viewed as "upstarts" and not necessarily real Church people.

Establishing new churches is not something to be taken lightly.  While I think you are a sincere man, I think those today are willing to start new churches at the drop of a hat.  So, we have the West not taking the Trinity nor the Church all that seriously.

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  Naturally, the Lutherans did not have Apostolic Succession after being kicked out of the Western Church, so I don't know that the Orthodox really knew how to handle the Lutherans.

You're probably right.  The O church did not address break-offs (Protestant) of the break-off (Catholic).  We have enjoyed some good dialogue, though, with the Anglicans.


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  In any event, I'm sure that they would have considered themselves to be the big brothers who were not willing to accept any disagreements from the Lutherans.  From what I have read, there is a definite sense of not being willing to negotiate any theology, which is understandable, so I think the Lutherans would have had to agree 100% or else go away, which in the end is what they did.


There was an attempt to dialogue with Lutherans and Orthodox early on.  Unfortunately, there are no agreement.  As I understand it, politics got in the way. 

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In my opinion, Lutherans also think that works are indispensable, but they do not justify us.  That part isn't negotiable, but that does not mean that Chrysostom is rejected.  Therefore, since we agree with Chrysostom in this passage, but at some other point Chrysostom says something else, then the real problem would not be that Luther argues against Chrysostom, but rather that Chrysostom argues with Chrysostom.

Please don't diss Chrysostom.  At the time of the Reformation, even the Protestants had to deal with his legacy.  I don't want to take your point more than you wanted to, but this is the Protestants usual response to the church fathers.  They use them sparingly and say that they are not perfect.  True, but the truth is they, on the whole, disagree with the Reformers.  Take Ignatius. He talks about the importance of the bishop.  Protestants don't like this, so they say he was in error. 
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Simply put, Orthodox scholars are better than Western ones.  They do not suffer from undue Augustinian influence,  do not take things out of context, really understand Greek, refuse to reduce the faith to legal terms, and unlike Luther, don't have an ax to grind. 
Thinking that the Orthodox scholars are "better" than Western ones is simply your opinion, that's all.

Sorry, it's not that simple.  I gave five reasons why the eastern scholars are better than the western ones.    Remember, I used to be a Protestant and a Catholic.  I did seriously consider this.

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It is not inappropriate to discuss the Faith in legal terms, for that is what is used in Scripture.  God gave us the Law, and wrote it into our hearts.  "Paraclete" translates to "defense attorney".  God refers to Himself as being just, and talks often of justice, and judges man.  These are all legal terms, so it is hardly a case of reducing the faith to legal terms when we speak in the same language as Scripture.

Yet Paul talks about the unimportance of the law, right?  Yes, there are legal analogies, but the west takes them too far.   Starting with Tertullian (a lawyer) then Augustine,  the west went way over to the legal side well before Luther.  (Of course, Calvin was a laywer too, but I know you are not fond of him (neither are we.)) With Acquinas, reason became the important thing. 

Interestingly, the historical-critical approach to Bible interpretation today differs widely among scholars.  The east argues about far less important things.

I think you understand that (and I will repeat it here) just because we are right on doctrinal issues doesn't mean that the Holy Spirit doesn't work elsewhere. But it is the church that is "the pillar and foundation of the truth"( I Tim 3:15).   

Thanks again for reading.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: extranos on Thu Jan 21, 2010 - 21:54:02
Trifecta,
I enjoy these discussions with you.  I like to hear from you regarding where we have agreement and where we do not, and where do not, I like to learn why we do not.

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Establishing new churches is not something to be taken lightly.  While I think you are a sincere man, I think those today are willing to start new churches at the drop of a hat.  So, we have the West not taking the Trinity nor the Church all that seriously.
No, I agree with you on this.  I take the Church very seriously.

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Please don't diss Chrysostom.  At the time of the Reformation, even the Protestants had to deal with his legacy.  I don't want to take your point more than you wanted to, but this is the Protestants usual response to the church fathers.  They use them sparingly and say that they are not perfect.  True, but the truth is they, on the whole, disagree with the Reformers.  Take Ignatius. He talks about the importance of the bishop.  Protestants don't like this, so they say he was in error.
I'm not dissing Chrysostom.   The quotes that I saw were very good.  I intend to study him more as time allows. 

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Yet Paul talks about the unimportance of the law, right?
Can you explain this a bit further?

Nice discussion.  I'll be looking for your next reply.

Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: Angelos on Sun Feb 07, 2010 - 10:46:05
What "Orthodox" scholars are you referring to. If you're referring to scholars before 1054, they were not "Orthodox" any more than they were "Catholic".

After 1054, I really don't know any "Orthodox" scholars that come close to let's say Aquinas. The truth is the Orthodox Churches had bad luck (were attacked by the Turks) and they never really recovered their ability to generate new scholars after that (the 1100s).

Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: Ryan2010 on Mon Feb 08, 2010 - 15:06:40
What "Orthodox" scholars are you referring to. If you're referring to scholars before 1054, they were not "Orthodox" any more than they were "Catholic".

After 1054, I really don't know any "Orthodox" scholars that come close to let's say Aquinas. The truth is the Orthodox Churches had bad luck (were attacked by the Turks) and they never really recovered their ability to generate new scholars after that (the 1100s).



Only in regards to scholasticism perhaps.. 

You learn alot when you suffer for Christ.
Title: Re: The Orthodox Teaching on St Paul's Justification by Faith
Post by: trifecta on Mon Feb 08, 2010 - 23:31:19
What "Orthodox" scholars are you referring to. If you're referring to scholars before 1054, they were not "Orthodox" any more than they were "Catholic".

True, and "Catholic" scholars were "Orthodox."  Then again, the west thought Augustine was the cat's meow while the east ignored his forays into exgesis.  The western and eastern minds were separating, unfortunately, before the great schism.   The west didn't want to learn Greek so they just read Latin-writing Augustine and his descendents.

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After 1054, I really don't know any "Orthodox" scholars that come close to let's say Aquinas. The truth is the Orthodox Churches had bad luck (were attacked by the Turks) and they never really recovered their ability to generate new scholars after that (the 1100s).

Please.  Have you heard of Gregory Palamas?

 As for Thomas Acquinas, just because he is well-known doesn't make him great.  To use an analogy:  is Brad Pitt or Robert Duvall a greater actor?  Pitt is more well-known, but that doesn't make him a better actor.   Acquinas -- the man who tried to single-handedly tried explain transubstantation, the man who brought Aristotlean logic into Christianity--these are good things? 

Eastern theologians didn't try to explain the unexplainable nor did they give undue importance to Augustine nor to the importance of reason (Acquinas).  What these three have in common is they are steps away from the early church thinking nore were they even the thoughts of Semitic cultures.   Yes, I am simplifying this-- but not that much.

Sorry for my tone.  Thanks for reading.