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Sunday, August 17, 2008

A review of Robert Morey's book: part 2-b

A review and rejoinder of Chapter 2 in the book Is Eastern Orthodoxy Christian? continued:

Sidenote: These are my own personal oppionions, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Church.

For those that missed parts 1 and 2-a, go here: "A review of Robert Morey's book: part 1" and "A review of Robert Morey's book: part 2-a "

Morey miss understood what both Frank Schaeffer Jr. and the Metropolitan Bishop Kalistos Ware was saying on pages 27-31.

This is obvious from later pages when he totaly rejects the Eastern Orthodox terms of "the distinction between Essence & Energies" and the context in which we understand that, as well as the context in which the Orthodox understands the term "deification". He rejects them and sets up strawmen arguments in their places. In doing so, he is not rejecting what Eastern Orthodoxy actually teach. Instead, he rejects a figment of his imagination.

He also refuses to believe the truth in regards to his own protestant tradition. He quotes Schaeffer Jr. On page 28 about the west embracing the "Aristotelian-Augustinian-Scholastic tradition. But denies this on page 30

What was said on pages 28-29:

Despite his "frosty" home life, Frankie is absolutely correct that Orthodoxy is a different religion from either Roman Catholicism or Protestantism. It should not be viewed as another Christian denomination.

(In quoting Frank Schaeffer Jr)
We converts need to understand that we are not just "switching churches." We must understand that the Orthodox East is fundamentally different than the Latin West."12
"Orthodoxy is not merely Roman Catholicism or Protestantism Plus! Rather, Orthodoxy is a profoundly different religion." 13
...the Christianity of the West evolved into an all together different religion from the Christianity of the East."14

The differences that divide the Evangelical from the Orthodox are not minor according to Frank.

(In quoting Frank Schaeffer Jr)
"One of the major difference between the Orthodox East and Latin West is that we of the Orthodox do not look to reason and science as our primary source of Truth. We trust the uncreated light of Holy Mystery. We pray for a flood of Divine revelation and a genuine if incremental change of character. The Aristotelian-Augustinian-Scholastic-Protestant and "scientific" West, on the other hand, believes in reason and dogma as the means to the Truth if, that is, they believe in Truth at all.15"

Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Roman Catholicism have different and contradictory epistemologies. While the East followed Plato inward into mysticism, the west followed Aristotle outward into rationalism."
[1] pages 28-29

But this is what he says at the end of page 30

"I have quoted Frankie Schaeffer at length because if I were to say that Orthodoxy is a totally different religion from Evangelical Christianity, some of my readers might be tempted to think that I was being extreme. But this is what Schaeffer and many other Orthodox thinkers have written.

This is why I have taken such great pains to cite so many statements from accepted Orthodox authorities. Despite his bitterness, Frankie Schaeffer is 100% right. Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Evangelical Christianity are three different religions. The Orthodox followed Plato into mysticism, the Catholics followed Aristotle into rationalism, and the Reformation followed the Bible back to Jesus."
[2] page 30

Schaeffer didn't say anything about there being three different religions. Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are two sides of the same coin. Orthodoxy is predenominational. Morey seems a little upset about Orthodoxy holding on to the Ancient exclusive language that historic christianity always embraced. He also wants to ignore the fact that Protestantism followed Augustin and Aristotle. The Reformation didn't follow the Bible. It didn't go back to Jesus. He is using the Bible and Jesus as smoke screens to hide his innovative Reformed Baptist distinctives.

John Calvin learned greek philosophy at the University of Paris. Why didn't Morey mention this? Now it is true, that he criticized Roman Catholic scholasticism, but it is also true, that Aristotelian logic can be found in his works. The next generation of Calvinists were Protestant scholastics for they found a good use of Aristotle in their cause?

sidenote:(the first generation of protestants, were schooled in Roman Catholic Scholasticism, eventually, some of them would reject it. However, later generations of Protestants [after calvin] would embrace it.

Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan says in the book "Credo": on pages 481 & 482

"But many more of the Protestant confession came from the second, third, and subsequent generations. Those confessions, moreover, are not only more numerous but usually much longer, than the earlier texts had been. Nor is the difference a matter only of comparative length as such. For it was, paradoxically, the writers of confessions who had not been trained in medieval, Roman Catholic scholasticism who laid the foundations for a new, Protestant "confessional scholasticism." As Horatius Bonar put it, speaking about The Westminister Confession of Faith from the seventeenth century in a description that could as readily have been applied also to The Canons of the Synod of Dort from the same century or to The Formula of Concord from late in the preceding century,

It may be questioned whether the Church gained anything by the exchange of the Reformation standards for those of the seventh century. The scholastic mould(british form of "mold") in which the latter are cast has somewhat trenched upon the ease and breadth which mark the former; and the skillful metaphysics employed at Westminister [or in The Formula of Concord] in giving lawyer-like precision to each statement, have imparted a local and temporary aspect to the new which did not belong to the more ancient standards. 129

Bonar's use of "scholastic", therefore, which commonly refers to Western Roman Catholic theology from the twelfth to the fourteenth century and to the revival of that theology in the modern era, may also be applied to the Protestant "confessional scholasticism" of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which manifested itself in both Lutheran and Reformed theology.
One presuposition for its rise, as it had been for rise of medieval
scholasticism, was the cultivation of Aristotelian philosophy, which, after its
rejection by Luther and other Reformers, enjoyed a strong revival of interest
during subsequent generations of Lutheran and Reformed theologians. It had been
Melanchton's ambition to prepare a new edition of Aristotle. Aristotelianism
gave the Protestant dogmaticians of the seventeenth century a precision in their
vocabulary and a capacity for making careful distinctions. Partly as a
consequence of this renewal of interest in the philosophy of Aristotle, another
component of medieval scholasticism, the investigation of "natural theology,"
played a prominent part in this Protestant scholasticism, too.

Therefore an exploration of what the unaided human reason could know about God, including th traditional proofs for the existence of God, became the prolegomenon to the systematic exposition of the revealed doctrines of Scripture.
[3] pages 481-482

Some would like to pick on Eastern Orthodoxy for using portions of greek philosophy in order to convert the Hellinistic World. The truth is, we all use aspects of greek philosophy.....all as in, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodoxy. We all use it at times when speaking about the Truths of the christian faith. Now we may not all use the same greek philosophers, nor do we all agree on our interpretation when we do use the same greek philosopher, but we all make use of them. Infact, the fact that Scripture itself is translated into pagan languages is proof that we do make use of "pagan words" in order to express the truths of the Faith.

Even the Apostle Paul made use of greek philosophy, when trying to express a "truth" of the Christian Faith.

Acts chapter 17
"for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising."

Plus, elsewhere, Saint Paul talks about being "all things" to "all men".

1 Corinthians 9:21-23
"to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you."

Now, just like in most things, there is discernment. Which is why Orthodoxy doesn't use every greek Philosopher under the Sun. But God has planted lesser forms of light in every culture. And it is the job of the christian to make good use of the lesser light God has givin to the peoples of the Globe, so that they can have cultural aids to help them understand the truths of the Faith.

So I guess in a way, the seeds of truth, that God has planted in every culture is a form of Prevenient(preceeding) grace.

pages 31 to 33 gives a list of 15 things in which Morey thinks Evangelical Christianity differs from Eastern Orthodoxy.

"Different views of Greek Philosophy, Particularly
Plato. The New Testament writers, the Apostolic Fathers, and the Reformers
rejected pagan philosophy, while Orthodoxy embraced it."
[4] page 31

Augustine embraced Plato, and Luther was an Augustinian monk. John Calvin learned greek philosophy in his Humanistic studies at Paris University. And the next generation of protestants embraced the philosophy of Aristotle. Also, what about the charge of Penal Substitution's link to Natural theology? As seen here: "Penal Substitution & Natural theology".

Another prime example of some classical Reformed protestants making use of "natural law" is found in Stephen J. Grabill's book "Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics". One can also see it in the work "The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural Science" by Peter Harisson. A review of the book can be seen here "Secular Hermeneutics".

Eastern Orthodoxy doesn't embrace all forms of greek philosophy. It only embraces that which was closest to christianity to express the truths of the christian faith to a greek pagan world. If Mr. Morey believes in the doctrines of the immortal soul, and Divine simplicity then he too embraces christianized greek concepts that go back to Plato.

"Different epistemologies on how we know if
something is true or false. Orthodoxy's negative Natural theology versus the
revealed theology of the Bible."
[5] page 31

Morey is cloaking his Aristotalian philosophy behind scripture. Both Negative and possitive statements can be used. It's just that Negative statements are superior because possitive statements has its limitations in time and space.

"Different hermeneutics in the way we should
interprete the Bible. Orthodoxy is mystical and intuitive in its understanding
of the Bible, while biblical Christianity follows the principles of historical,
grammatical exegesis"
[6] page 31

What is Biblical christianity? There are hundreds if not thousands of different sects that claim to represent "Biblical christianity". Also Martin Luther, the founder of the first wave of Protestantism believed in a multiple layered interpretation method. Not to mention Dr. Peter Enns who is/was a calvinist. As seen here, "The New Testament's use of the Old Testament".

And what about the Apostles? They didn't always follow the historical grammatical exegesis method. It is well known that they often used a mystical and intuitive method in interpreting the Old Testament. All one has to do is read the first few chapters of Mathew, and see what they quoted in the Old Testament.

"Different views on the origin, nature,
inspiration, canon, and authority of the Bible. The Orthodox do not have the
same books in their Bible as found in the Catholic or Protestant Bibles."
[7] page 32

We received what the Apostles had.

2 Timothy 4:13
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

Did Paul's scrolls and parchments vanish when he died? No, the church kepted them. Also to know what family text type the Apostles were mostly using. All one has to do is look at their Old Testament quotes. They used the LXX family of texts. Which is what we still use today.

"Different views on the origin, nature, and
inspiration of "the Greek Septuagint." The Orthodox claim tht it is more
inspired than the original Hebrew text!"
[8] page 32

I don't think we would say "more inspired than the original Hebrew". After all it was based on a Hebrew text type. I think we would say, it is more inspired than the masoretic text type. Which is a post christian Hebrew text. If the LXX was good enough for Jesus and the Apostles, then it's good enough for me.

"Different views on the authority of the church,
its "Fathers", councils, creeds, and leaders. The Orthodox use circular
reasoning. Something is true because the Church says so. There is no higher
authority than the Church. This is true because the church says so."
page 32

Scripture says the "Church" is the foundation of truth.

1 Timothy 3:15
but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Morey uses circuliar reasoning too. He will have to say "something is true, because the Bible says so". And since he is a calvinist he will have to use "circular reasoning" in regards to the five points of Calvinism. Everyone seems to use circular reasoning somewhere. Plus on top of that, there is disagreement among protestants of what "sola scriptura" means. As seen here "Differences in Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura".

"different views on the nature, attributes,
existence, and knowledge of God."
[10] page 32

Knowing God is much more than just mere "reasonable propositions". The whole person must know God. And if Morey disagrees with Orthodoxy in regards to the nature, attributes, existence, and knowledge of God then he is only shooting himself in the foot, for his Reformed Baptist group stands or falls on the christianity that came before it. If he tries to separate his denomination further away from Orthodoxy, then it would be to his own down fall. Plus it's not like every evangelical denomination agrees with Morey's Reformed Baptist's group. So I don't think Morey can speak for all "evangelicals". For some hold different views of the nature, attributes, existence, and knowledge of God.

"Different views on the nature, attributes, person
and work of Jesus Christ."
[11] page 32

If Morey embraces the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds, then he is only shooting himself in the foot by saying this. Morey can't have it both ways.

"Different views of the nature, power, work, and
veneration of angels, Mary, the Apostles, the saints, and the "Father."
page 32

Morey's refusal to venerate Mary only shows his Nestorian tendencies. Also Scripture says that all generations will call her "blessed".

Luke 1:48
"For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."

Once again he is shooting himself in the foot.

"Different views on the veneration of icons and
[13] page 32

Morey's view of salvation being static, and nothing more than mere mental assent and consent to dogmatic propositions and pronouncements, make his view of Icons and relics different.

If salvation is a dynamic relationship between mankind and the Incarnate God. If it is a real union between man and the dying and ressurected Lord.

Then the veneration of icons and relics are valid.

"Different views on the nature of man, original
sin, free will, and human potential."
[14] page 32

The gnostics believed the material world was evil. Some of them, like the Manicheans didn't believe in the doctrine of free will. Morey's view is alot closer to their doctrine than it is to christianity. The fact, that he mentioned "original sin", shows that his form of protestantism follows some of the teachings of Augustine, especially in his later years. Augustine made use of Plato, but Morey doesn't want to admit that his form of protestantism follows some of the propositions of greek philosophers.

So he is shooting himself in the foot again.

"Different views of the nature of sin and what is
needed to correct it."
[15] page 33

He is following an extreme form of Augustinianism (calvinism). One that believes in Total depravity (inability), limited atonement, Unconditional election, irresistible grace, and maybe a stricter form of Once saved always saved (P.O.T.S.). Not all protestants believe this, so he can't speak for "all" of evangelicalism....only just his form.

"Different views of salvation, grace, works,
faith, and the nature,number and role of the sacraments"
[16] page 33

Once again, he is mostly talking about his Calvinistic perspective, which for the most part is innovative. Some of it can be traced back to Saint Augustine in his older years, but it doesn't preceed Augustine. The western church started to go in a different direction after Saint Augustine. And I doubt if Morey knows what he's talking about in regards to our view of the Mysteries.

"Different views of the heart of the gospel
message. The Bible teaches that justification is the heart of the gospel, while
Orthodoxy teaches deification."
[17] page 33

He miss understands the doctrine of deification. And not all protestants agree with the "details" of his form of "justification". There are alot of Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Holiness groups that have a slightly different perspective than Morey. Not to mention some of the Anabaptists like the Ahmish. The Campbellites would also disagree with Morey. So he is not speaking for "all" protestantism. And even in the Reformed camp, there are differences. You have Norman Sheperd, you have the new perspective of paul, and even among dispensationalists you have the controversy of "Lordship salvation vs easy believism".

"Different views on the nature of Baptism and the
Lord's Supper"
[18] page 33

Different protestants dissagree with his view of Baptism and the Lord's Supper so he can't speak for all evangelicals.

On page 34 to 35 he mentions the different schools of thought in Orthodoxy: According to him, they are "Liberal, Conservative, and Fundamentalist"

The truth is, the Liberals of Orthodoxy are still way more conservative and traditional than their Protestant counter parts. The same is true for the Liberals in Roman Catholicism. They tend to be more conservative and traditional than those found in Protestantism.

He says on page 37 that Eastern Orthodoxy is a house divided that cannot help but fall. The Truth is, by the Grace of God Eastern Orthodoxy has been around for two thousand years. Morey's own congregation hasn't been around that long. Maybe he should worry about what's going on in his own fellowship, as seen here, instead of pointing fingers at an organism that's been around for 2,000 years.


[1],[2],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18] from the book "Is Eastern Orthodoxy Christian" by Robert A. Morey. Copyright 2007, published by Christian Scholars Press.

[3] from the book "Credo: Historical and Theological guide to Creeds and Confessions ofFaith in the Christian Tradition", by Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan, copyright 2003 by Yale University. Published by Yale University Press.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Morey's (sic) irreverance towardthe blessed Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary is evident in his unfounded disparagement of the blessed Orthodox Church's traditional interpretation of Ezekiel chapter 44. Morey is simply totally mistaken in this matter, and he is following the vanity of a carnal mind in this matter. We all need to repent for our sins, which are not so different from the sins and errors of Augustine of Hippo; it is the heretical doctrines of Augustine that are keeping many in the non-Orthodox West in deterministic captivity.
Lord have mercy on all of us, to bring us back to the Orthodox Church.
From Erie PA Scott R. Harrington

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