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Unread 08-29-2016, 05:15 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by zedman View Post
I say ordinarily as I don't see either baptism or Communion as salvific--they are not required for salvation--but they are connected to believers & are matters of obedience.
Jesus might disagree with you there (John 6:41-59)

The standard Calvinist objection to how the Church has understood this passage for the last 2000 years is that Jesus is referring to some 'spiritual' eating and drinking in this passage. This doesn't fly, however: not only does it fly in the face of everything the Fathers taught (Justin Martyr says, for example, "...for we do not receive these as common bread and common drink; but just as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise we have learned that the food over which thanks has been given by the prayer of the word which comes from him, and by which our blood and flesh are nourished through a change, is the Flesh and Blood of the same incarnate Jesus"), but people actually left Him because they thought He was talking about literally eating His flesh and blood (He was!).

You're faced, ultimately, with two choices here. You either have to believe that the Church went seriously awry on this doctrine and lots of others, and went awry in the exact same way, across multiple different geographical locations, at roughly the same time (St. Ignatius was in Antioch in Syria, there's plenty of evidence that other Fathers in other parts of the world believed that we do not 'receive these as common bread and common drink') - or - you must believe that the Church of at the very least the first several centuries (I'd drawn the line at 1067, after that you've got to make a decision about whether you accept a seriously over-inflated understanding of the power of the Bishop of Rome! Obviously, you know where I come down) is indeed the Church established by Jesus Christ.

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Unread 10-02-2016, 09:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaactheSyrian View Post
Jesus might disagree with you there (John 6:41-59)

The standard Calvinist objection to how the Church has understood this passage for the last 2000 years is that Jesus is referring to some 'spiritual' eating and drinking in this passage. This doesn't fly, however: not only does it fly in the face of everything the Fathers taught (Justin Martyr says, for example, "...for we do not receive these as common bread and common drink; but just as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise we have learned that the food over which thanks has been given by the prayer of the word which comes from him, and by which our blood and flesh are nourished through a change, is the Flesh and Blood of the same incarnate Jesus"), but people actually left Him because they thought He was talking about literally eating His flesh and blood (He was!).

You're faced, ultimately, with two choices here. You either have to believe that the Church went seriously awry on this doctrine and lots of others, and went awry in the exact same way, across multiple different geographical locations, at roughly the same time (St. Ignatius was in Antioch in Syria, there's plenty of evidence that other Fathers in other parts of the world believed that we do not 'receive these as common bread and common drink') - or - you must believe that the Church of at the very least the first several centuries (I'd drawn the line at 1067, after that you've got to make a decision about whether you accept a seriously over-inflated understanding of the power of the Bishop of Rome! Obviously, you know where I come down) is indeed the Church established by Jesus Christ.
In deciding how to answer I thought it best to clarify some terms.
By saying baptism & communion are not salvific I meant that baptism and COmmunion do not save.

They are commanded and so believers should take part in Communion and be baptized, if they have not already been baptized (The latter could cause debate among protestants in terms of paedo/credo baptism positions)

So they are important and they are commanded, but they in & of themselves do not save.

You may disagree with that--but I wanted that to be clear.

John 6 is not about Communion either.
There is a connection, but to keep it brief--the crowds were following Jesus and he fed them, now they wanted the next meal. He knew they were after a free lunch.
He told them they needed to feed on him--in a spiritual sense, not in the literal sense--although I agree they took him that way.
This is before communion was instituted.
(Plus we could debate the literalness of His words in regards to the real presence--but keep in mind the Last Supper was a Passover Supper--full of symbolism.)

I disagree with there only being two choices--you have presented a false dichotomy.

I just read this post tonight as I haven't been on here in some time.

But that is an overview response to what you have posted.
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Unread 10-11-2016, 03:26 PM   #18
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Heya Zedman,

In reading over your reply it's become apparent to me that we may have some non-trivial worldview differences at the core of what's at issue in this discussion.

In particular, from your post I can see that we 'speak different languages' with regards to:

- Soteriology. If I understood the word 'save' as the Reformed do, I would agree with the statement 'baptism and communion do not save'. But I do not understand what it is to be saved as the Reformed do - to wit: salvation is being healed from the sin which has sickened us unto death and being made perfect in Christ (cf. Matt 5:48 ref. Leviticus 19:2). There's more to it than that, but in a nutshell, Eastern Christianity in general does not accept a lot of the metaphysical legalism that so preoccupies the West, including scholastic Protestantism (like Calvinists and classical Lutherans) and medieval Roman Catholicism (epitomized in people like Anselm of Canterbury, Thomas Aquinas and the fathers of the Council of Trent).

Instead, salvation, rather than involving a legal transaction of merit (in the language of Thomas Aquinas and the Tridentine fathers) is brought about by participation in the uncreated Energies of God - in other words, by participating in His grace (one of the means of which is the Sacraments: in particular baptism, the Eucharist, confession (or as we Orthodox often call it, the sacrament of repentance, chrismation, and annointing and enjoying a progressively closer union with God and partaking in the Divine Nature. Which brings me to...

- Sacramentology: Concurrent to Protestantism's almost completely forensic soteriology, their sacramentology suffers. In order to make John 6 fit with your tradition's preoccupation with forensic righteousness in your soteriology (which is the entire basis of (at the very least) the L in TULIP, as well as the whole idea of penal substitution), you've completely abandoned the Patristic witness about what the Eucharist is: to wit, a true participation in the one, completed sacrifice of Christ, of the worship of heaven, and the offering of that sacrifice to God the Father, presenting ourselves, the Church, as living sacrifices to God in Christ)

- Ecclesiology: tying in with sacramentology (indeed, the whole of Orthodox theology forms a seamless garment that fits together - seeming possibly haphazardly at first, until one realizes it is a living, breathing, growing Tradition that bears witness to the truth about Jesus Christ), the Orthodox Church understands itself as being intimately tied to the Eucharist. The Eucharist, to paraphrase Fr. Alexander Schmemmann, makes us what we were meant to be and transforms us into the Church - because in offering the Body of Christ and consuming the Body of Christ, we, corporately, become and are reconstituted as the Body of Christ, Who is both the offerer and the offered in the sacrament. We offer to God, "Your own of Your own...on behalf of all and for all!", in the words of Chrysostom's liturgy.

Can you see any fruitful way forward in this discussion without hashing out these rather elementary issues?
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I believe, O Lord, and I confess, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief...
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The Father is my hope,
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My protection is the Holy Spirit
O Holy Trinity, Glory to You!




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Unread 10-17-2016, 04:36 PM   #19
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I am aware we have some differences in definitions as well--that's something that can confuse or complicate things.

In general I find that a public forum such as this sin't a great way to really hash things out in depth--but are more a starting point to set some parameters.
So what did you mean by "metaphysical legalism"?
(Especially as opposed to just "legalism")

Feel free to PM me if you have any extra info, etc.
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Unread 10-17-2016, 11:44 PM   #20
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Sure. Well, the term legalism as it's commonly used in Evangelical circles (that I've witnessed) tends to focus on a preoccupation with rules and especially with trying to 'work one's way to the Kingdom' by the observance of such rules. Viewed through a certain lens, for example, the Orthodox Church's fasting rules (the Wednesday and Friday fasts, the four periods of fasting throughout the year) can look a lot like legalism (and we would actually agree that there is, in fact, a serious danger of fasting legalistically... which is precisely the reason no one should fast without deepening their prayer life and without the guidance of their spiritual father or mother, and why there are exceptions to the fasting rule like "when you are enjoying the hospitality of a non-Orthodox person, eat whatever is set before you with thanks, even if it flagrantly breaks the fast"). As my priest has repeatedly stressed, however, the fasts themselves do not save us - but rather, the holiness we gain from undergoing self-mortification/self-denial and thereby becoming increasingly 'dead to sin and alive to God' (Romans 6:11-12) is what saves us.

'Metaphysical legalism', as I am using the term, consists in this: the notion that law as we understand it is the primary modus in which God deals with human beings.

This requires some explanation, which cannot (unfortunately) be done without introducing the concept of nominalism. Briefly, nominalism is the notion that there are no metaphysical realities behind things. So, for example, there is no substance called water, there are only individual molecules of water in the universe. Similarly, in a nominalist theology, there are God's laws, which He has set forth and the breaking of which constitutes an offense against God. But in a nominalist outlook, there is nothing behind the laws of God but the mere fact of the law itself. Under this conception, in the Garden of Eden, when God said 'in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die', the law that was in effect was basically 'do what I say because I say so, and if you break the law it's bad because it's an offense against My law, which is worthy of death by virtue of it being My law".

In effect, the end result of nominalism on our conception of the fall is that God ends up saying to Adam and Eve, "in the day that you eat of it I will kill you (or at least actively start you down a process of dying)".

Instead, in the Orthodox conception, God's decrees are just because they represent some state of affairs about the universe. So, in Genesis, when God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate the fruit, the warning was not that He would cause them to die, but that by virtue of their action, something in themselves would happen that would cause them to die. That something is precisely a turning of their backs on God, the source of their Life. To turn one's back on God is to deprive oneself of His grace, which in the Orthodox understanding is ultimately necessary for us to live, and the absence of which causes us to slowly drift towards being literally un-made (i.e. dead). (cf. Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 3:20). This is why the wages of sin is death - because in working iniquity ('sinning'), we turn our backs on God and begin walking down a path towards unmaking ourselves.

Basically, in the Orthodox understanding, laws have an ontology behind them. There is something about the workings of the physical universe that breaking one of God's laws rebels against, and it is this fact that lies behind why we have a conception of sin that primarily (though by no means exclusively) treats it as sickness to be healed (and why our services so often refer to Christ by His title of 'great Physician and Healer of our souls') rather than guilt to be forgiven.

This also has implications for the so-called satisfaction theory of atonement promulgated by Anselm of Canterbury, in which sins are offenses against God's honour for which satisfaction must be made in blood. This theory in turn gave rise to Thomas Aquinas and medieval Roman Catholic soteriology, which in turn gave rise to Luther, Calvin, et. al.

Does that make sense?
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I believe, O Lord, and I confess, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief...
~ Ryan Isaac

The Father is my hope,
The Son is my refuge,
My protection is the Holy Spirit
O Holy Trinity, Glory to You!




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Unread 10-17-2016, 11:50 PM   #21
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As for resources: I highly recommend that you do some poking around over at Orthodox-Reformed Bridge. The main blog author/curator, Robert Arakaki, is an awesome guy.
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I believe, O Lord, and I confess, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief...
~ Ryan Isaac

The Father is my hope,
The Son is my refuge,
My protection is the Holy Spirit
O Holy Trinity, Glory to You!



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