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Friday, April 30, 2010

Late Platonism, determinism and Saint Augustine

Eventhough I don't really like this book because the author was too critical of christianity while somewhat sympathetic with various forms of gnosticism, I did find good nuggets here and there.

"St. Augustine(354-430) was, for the time being,
the last in this chain of development. With his Manichean past stretching over
almost ten years, he had acquired personal experience of the gnostic heresy, and
had reflected on its dangers and value*. He appropriated this heritage most
clearly in the impressive historical review of the two "realms" (civitates), the
devil's or that of the wicked (civitas diaboli or impiorum,) and God's (civitas
Dei), and thus shaped the Christian historical metaphysics of the Middle Ages.
Other aspects of his teaching, too, cannot be understood without this heritage
which is linked closely with the related late Platonic, such as the famous faith
in predestination (grace and election)
, the role of the soul as being in the image of God and thus an immortal element and, above all, the concept of original sin. This latter is the result of man's fall from the divine original state brought about by his own guilt. Its position in Augustine's teaching is an echo of the Manichean idea of the fateful "mixture" of light and darkness, spirit and matter,which necessarily determines human existence. One has attributed to St. Augustine, because of his turning away from Manichean Gnosis and because of his overcoming the problems raised by it, a decisive importance in the final acceptance of the ancient understanding of the cosmos as a good creation of God in opposition to the gnostic hostility to the world. " [1]

This is the second time I noticed someone link Saint Augustine's belief in predestination with neoplatonism. Perry was the first to tell me about Plotinus and Augustine in regards to determinism, as seen here:

"On another point, the reasoning trying to show
that moral responsibility and freedom are compatible with determinism in
Augustine mirrors exactly what the Pagan Plotinus in his Enneads wrote nearly
two centuries prior to Augustine. The soul that falls is determined to do so,
but chooses freely to fall nonetheless and is therefore responsible. This is
significant since Augustine's dying words were quotes from Plotinus'

and now Kurt Rudolph seems to be saying something similar, and so, I have to find out what late Platonic thought really taught about the issue of determinism.

What some others had to say about it in passing:

FromA critique of Plotinian Neoplatonism in quoting the Reformed scholar and presuppositionalist Cornelius Van Til in his work A Christian Theory of Knowledge (1969)
"In complete contrast to this approach of Plotinus stands that of Augustine. To be sure, as noted, Augustine makes many a concession to the apostate point of view of logic. But at bottom his commitment is to the idea that man is the creature of God rather than participant in the being of God. In spite of his many concessions to the Greek paideia his main principle, as best expressed in his latest works, is that sovereign God gives or withholds his grace to sinners according to his good pleasure. Therefore if those who operate from a Plotinian point of view charge him with determinism Augustine, following Paul, simply responds: "Who art thou O man that contendest with God." The judge of the whole earth will do right. Man, the creature, become the sinner, must admit mystery, but the mystery that he admits does not, as in the case of Plotinus, envelop God.

Still consonant with the basic contrast between Plotinus and Augustine on the question of the final point of reference and also consonant with the difference between them on the question of logic is their difference with respect to the philosophy of fact.

For Plotinus the world of space-time factuality exists by Chance. His principle of individuation is that of pure contingency and irrationality. Over against this purely contingent and and purely irrational principle of individuality is the idea of Augustine that God, having created all things, having sent Christ to redeem the world, directs all things to the end appointed for them by himself. In spite of all the concessions that he makes to the Plotinian principle, especially in his earlier works, it is none the less true of Augustine that his basic commitment, best expressed in his later writings, is that the facts of reality are what they are, ultimately, by virtue of the all-encompassing plan of God.

In the chapter "A Plotinian vehicle for a Manichaen notion":
The link: (pages 85 to 87 and on page 13 he mentions his use of Plotinus in writing against Manichaenism as well)
Augustine, Manichaeism and the Good by Kam-Lun E. Lee

Christ is Risen!

[1] page 370, from the book "GNOSIS:The Nature & History of Gnosticism" by Kurt Rudolph, and translation edited by Robert McLachlan Wilson 1984/1987 HarperSanFrancisco / HarperCollins publishers
Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Patristic Eucharistic Doctrine

I totally misjudged him earlier and I'm sorry for that.

Christ is Risen!

Answering a question about prevenient grace(Arminianism) and Eastern Orthodoxy

This is from the forum.

« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2010, 06:53:01 PM »

Hey y'all!

Christ is Risen!

So, I have a friend writing a paper on Prevenient Grace and he asked me what I thought about it. I told him I'd never heard of it before, but I told him I'd look it up, ask around and get back to him. So, what's the deal? Is this something that fits into the Eastern Orthodox paradigm/phronema? Thanks a million! Smiley

"Prevenient grace (also referred to as prevenial) is a Christian theological concept rooted in Augustinian theology.[1] It is embraced primarily by Arminian Christians who are influenced by the theology of John Wesley, and who are part of the Methodist movement. Wesley typically referred to it in 18th century language as prevenient grace. In modern English, the phrase preceding grace would have a similar meaning.

Prevenient grace is divine grace which precedes human decision. It exists prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done. As humans are corrupted by the effects of sin, prevenient grace allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer. Whereas Augustine held that prevenient grace cannot be resisted, Wesleyan Arminians believe that it enables, but does not ensure, personal acceptance of the gift of salvation.

(If you're not sure or don't know, please refrain from speculating)""

Truly he is risen!

Prevenient/prevenial or preceeding grace in this context is really only needed when you first advocate a doctrine of Total inability (the Augustinian term for it) or Total depravity/Radical depravity(the Reformed, Calvinistic, and Arminian terms for it)

In the Arminian system, both Classical and Weslyian, the fall of Adam and Eve is total in the sense that it destroys/annihilates their human will.

And since free will is lost, it takes prevenient grace to bring it back, restore it, resurrect it, renew it, recreate it.......etc. Classical and Wesleyan Arminianism starts out the same as Calvinism because they both follow Saint Augustine's later teachings on this issue. They begin to depart ways when Arminians make use of the doctrine of prevenient grace.

For classical Arminians, it is unclear if prevenient grace is universal or particular. As seen here with Arminius:
The will
VII. In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing."

And at the very end of the page when quoting Augustine he says:

"Subsequent or following grace does indeed assist the good purpose of man; but this good purpose would have no existence unless through preceding or preventing grace. And though the desire of man, which is called good, be assisted by grace when it begins to be; yet it does not begin without grace, but is inspired by Him, concerning whom the Apostle writes thus, thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. If God incites any one to have 'an earnest care' for others, He will 'put it into the heart' of some other person to have 'an earnest care' for him." Augustinus, Contra. 2 Epist. Pelag. l. 2. c. 9."

But for Wesleyan Arminians prevenient grace is universal. The difference between us(Orthodox Christians) and them in this regard is the whole issue and nature of the fall in general. For us, the human will is connected to the issue of being made in God's Image, and so, we can't go as far as them when it comes to the will being ""destroyed/annihilated"". We believe the Image of God to still be there, and so the image is marred, weakened, broken, but never eradicated/annihilated/destroyed. And so, this is where we differ. I wrote something about this last year or the year before. I will re-post it here at the very end or in a new post.

If you need resources in regards to how Arminians...both classical and Wesleyan understand the issue of prevenient grace , I can always quote what I have from books like:

1.) "Why I am not a Calvinist" by Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell (Wesleyan Arminians)
2.) ""Why I am not an Arminian" by Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams (Calvinists)
3.) "Grace Faith Free Will, Contrasting views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism" by Robert E. Picirilli (A Classical Arminian)
4.) "Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities" by Roger E. Olsen (An Arminian)
5.) "The Justification of God:An Exegetical & Theological study of Romans 9:1-23" by John Piper (A Calvinist)
Audio mp3:
6.) (Arminius -The Scapegoat of Calvinism by Vic Reasoner)

In regards to us and the term itself. It was used in the westernization/Latinization period in the The Confession of Dositheus: (Dositheus)
"Chapter 6

"We believe the most good God to have from eternity predestinated unto glory those whom He hath chosen, and to have consigned unto condemnation those whom He hath rejected; but not so that He would justify the one, and consign and condemn the other without cause. For that were contrary to the nature of God, who is the common Father of all, and no respecter of persons, and would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth; {1 Timothy 2:4} but since He foreknew the one would make a right use of their free-will, and the other a wrong, He predestinated the one, or condemned the other. And we understand the use of free-will thus, that the Divine and illuminating grace, and which we call preventing grace, being, as a light to those in darkness, by the Divine goodness imparted to all, to those that are willing to obey this — for it is of use only to the willing, not to the unwilling — and co-operate with it, in what it requireth as necessary to salvation, there is consequently granted particular grace; which, co-operating with us, and enabling us, and making us perseverant in the love of God, that is to say, in performing those good things that God would have us to do, and which His preventing grace admonisheth us that we should do, justifieth us, and maketh us predestinated. But those who will not obey, and co-operate with grace; and, therefore, will not observe those things that God would have us perform, and that abuse in the service of Satan the free-will, which they have received of God to perform voluntarily what is good, are consigned to eternal condemnation."

What I wrote about the issue last year or the year before:

"Arminianism, Calvinism, Semi-Pelagianism, and my own views

Arminianism should be called "Semi-Augustinianism" rather than "Semi-Pelagianism". True Arminianism embraces Augustine's Hard Deterministic views about the fall of man in his Older years. But they also embrace the free will views of Augustine's early years. So they properly should be called "Semi-Augustinian" or "Moderate Augustinians". The Calvinists seem to only want to embrace Augustine's latter teachings. His Deterministic views and nothing else.

The real difference between Arminianism and Semi-pelagianism is that Semi-Pelagianism taught the grace of God must precede the will of "most" people. Whereas Arminianism believes that the grace of God must preceed the will of "all men".

Thus for semi-Pelagianism, Prevenient grace was for "most" men. Whereas for Arminianism, Prevenient grace was for "all men".

This is the fundamental difference. the difference that very few seem to notice. Also, classical and Wesleyan Arminianism both seem to teach that the will of man was destroyed and lost by the Fall of man. I don't think Semi-Pelagianism ever went that far. I know the Greek Fathers never went that far. Nor did the Latin Fathers before Augustine. Nor did Augustine in his early Christian years.

My view is the Grace of God must precede the will of "all men", but the will of man was never destroyed or lost by the fall for that would mean the Image of God(which man is) would of been destroyed and lost as well. Being an Image of God is not something man has. It is something man is. So fallen man is a "marred" Image of God. If God's Image was eradicated/annihilated in the Fall then man would cease to exist. But if God's Image is eternal then it can't be destroyed.

Thus I believe the will of man to be broken, bent, fallen, wounded, damaged, and weakened. But never destroyed.....nor lost.

I might be wrong but as far as Arminianism goes I probably would agree more with Philip Limborch of the Remonstrants in this regard.

So now you all know what I am.....and what I'm not........I'm Augustinian light or Cassian without his mistake of Prevenient grace preceding the will of most men. I believe it precedes the will of all men. I tend to agree with Augustin in his middle years......but I totally reject what he says in his latter years.""

And what I said elsewhere in regards to the issue:

Yes! As an Orthodox Christian, I can't be a classical Arminian(which adheres to total inability, Weslyian Arminianism does too, and so I can't really be a true Arminian). In truth, the Essence and Energies distinction in our form of Pan-enTheism makes us have a different paradigm than both Calvinism and Arminianism....since both of them are based on the Augustinian paradigm. The Orthodox are pure Synergists (simultaneous co-operation).

Even-though some may see us as truth.....we can't be. Even if we wanted to, we couldn't be. For classical Semi-Pelagianism speculated that maybe the thief on the cross was able to come to God first with his free will before God came to Him with grace.

Other than that.....semi-pelagains believed that the Prevenient Grace of God was for most people. But this isn't something the Orthodox can say for we believe God's grace to be everywhere/universal. And thus prevenient grace is for everyone......including the thief on the cross. For us, Prevenient grace was always there.......even before the Fall......For it was God that was keeping Adam and Eve Alive. Adam and Eve were not perfect before the fall......instead, they were on their way to perfection/immortality.

The idea that somehow our free will can exist where God is not is impossible. God's grace will always be there to Energize us so that we can do what we do......His Grace not only empowers us.....but it permeates us as well. And thus God is always working!

John 5:16-18
"So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God."

Acts 17:27-28
"God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'"


Phil 2:12-16
"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing."


Psalm 127:1
"Unless the LORD builds the house,They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain."

And so, I see a simultaneous co-operation going on. If God is not working in you, then you are working in vain. Also, if God is working in you, but you are not working yourself........then you might grieve the Holy Spirit.....and thus stagnate or regress in grace.

Ephesians 4:30
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

If God was the only one working.......then it would be impossible to grieve Him.

In Short, what I am trying to say is that I don't see Gen 1-4 saying that Pre-Fall Adam and Eve were naturally able to choose right and wrong apart from God's grace while post fall Adam and Eve were not naturally able to choose right or wrong apart from God's grace.

Scripture makes it seem as if post fall Adam and Eve were still able to choose right or wrong......I mean after all they ate the fruit off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! And the people from Gen 1-4 still made right or wrong choices just like pre-fall Adam and Eve were able to. And what will we say about the choices of post fall Adam and Eve? Gen 1-4 doesn't tell us that Adam and Eve weren't able to make right or wrong choices after eating the fruit. Gen 1-4 doesn't tell us that their free will was annihilated. What it does seem to that they still had some sense of free will.....even after eating the fruit.

I believe the image of God to be wounded in post fall man, but not annihilated.......and since our free will is connected to us being made in God's image......I believe that free will existed in post fall man. But our free will is never independent from God's grace.........never! For it is God's Energies/grace that enables our human will to conform to His will.

And His Divine Energies/Grace was present in both pre and post fall man."

I hope this helps!

I found this to be very helpful in regards to our view: (GOD: Essence and Energies)

It relates to the topic at hand.

Christ is Risen!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A reply to David N

From the blog By Whose Authority?. My response was too long for his comment section, and I didn't feel like chopping it all up. The issue at hand is the 1hr or so lecture by Dr. Ligon Duncan,
As seen here:
T4G 2010 -- Session 7 -- Ligon Duncan from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

David N,

You are mostly repeating what you said earlier. So in order to move the argument forward, I will try to explain where and why I either agree or disagree.

David N, said:
"Dr. Duncan taught a whole Patristics class at RTS, so I'm sure he was much more even-handed and scholarly than he was in his 1-hour talk to a mixed group of pastors and laymen. It's simply impossible to do the same work at a short talk like that as you would do in an extended class setting where everyone has read the source material."


David N, said:
"When you only have 1 hour, and your thesis is that the Early Church Fathers were not all "hostile" to Protestant theology, it's pretty much necessary to cherry-pick quotes and offer some basic, surface level explanations of things (like why most of the Fathers seem to stress free will, for example). You can't really fault Duncan for that."

I took issue with the false picture he was trying to paint. What picture do you think he was trying to paint by saying their view of free will was nothing like that of protestant Arminianism and medieval Roman Catholicism?

What do you think he was trying to say? Do you think he was trying to imply that their view of free will was much like their own (Soft and hard determinism)?

1.) Do you really think they were compatibilists(soft determinists)?

2.) Do you really think they were of the kind of Calvinists that reject any idea of free will? You know, what some might call "hard determinism" while others might call another form of "soft determinism"?

3.) How can Calvinistic and Reformed protestants speak from one side of their mouths about Rome and Arminianism being ""semi-Pelagian"", but on the otherside of their mouths say that the early church fathers views of free will were nothing like medieval Rome and Arminianism?

Now in saying that, I am not really saying the early fathers were semi-pelagian, nor am I saying Rome and Arminianism are semi-pelagian, what I am saying is their(the church fathers) views of free will was most definitely closer to medieval Rome and protestant Arminianism than the deterministic schools found within Calvinistic and Reformed protestant circles.

So yes, I think I have some valid reasons to fault him for trying to paint the opposite picture. He should of left Arminianism and Rome out the 1hr lecture. And he should of chosen a topic about the fathers that really represent the Reformed perspective.....the topics he chose just wasn't gonna fly.

David N, said:
"But again, I fundamentally disagree with most of your claims, so I wouldn't expect you to like Dr. Duncan's approach anyway."

So you fundamentally disagree with most of my claims in regards to the fathers?

I still believe in free will, foreknowledge, and predestination just like the Eastern Fathers, and pre-Augustine western fathers did. I also agree with portions of what Saint Augustine had to say about the issue in his early to middle years. And even in the western regions of the church, it took them decades after the death of Saint Augustine to adopt a moderate Augustinian position that still adhered to some form of synergy after the first contact of monergism as seen below at the 4 to 6 minute mark. And even at the local western council of 2nd Orange the Calvinists Robert A. Peterson and Michael Williams said in the book "Why I am not an Arminian" on page 38 that the council supported a semi-Augustinian form of "synergism". And so, a form of free will was still preserved in Rome even after Augustine.

I still believe and hold to the doctrine of Recapitulation(Saint Irenaeus)

I still believe and hold to what Saint Athanasius had to say about the Incarnation.

I still believe and hold to a form of the Classical/Ransom/Christos Victor doctrine of the Atonement.

I am a pacifist(well, a self professed semi-pacifist now for I see some warrant in self-defense) that believes and knows that both sides of this issue co-exist within Christiandom. And yes, Eastern Orthodoxy preserved a form of pacifism as seen here. But guess what? It also preserved the opposite as well, as seen here.

I still believe and hold to an interpretation of the Doctrine of the Trinity that are extremely close to the pre-nicene era. Infact, my understanding is the Nicean and Neo-Nicean views. This is way closer to the thoughts of the pre-nicean era than your Calvinistic double(a tendency towards bi-theism) or triple(a tendency towards tri-theism) asiety views.

My Christology is essentially the same as Saint Cyril. The 4th ecumenical council adopted much of his views and works about the issue, and the 5th ecumenical council adopted even more Cyrillian language and writtings, and it gave the proper and official interpretation of the 4th ecumenical council.

The Calvinistic and Reformed Christology has strong Nestorian tendencies, as seen here, here, here, here, and as this Lutheran youtube video below shows:

I'm sorry David N, but it is more likely for the Calvinistic and Reformed protestants to read what they believe into the fathers in regards to the issues I just mentioned above than me. If it could be said that I read things into the fathers, and I don't believe I do, but if it could be said.....just know it will always be to a much lesser degree than Calvinists and Reformed protestants.

David N, said:
"You can't compare a Protestant claiming some of the Fathers as their own to an Orthodox person claiming the Puritans as their own. It's simply not the same thing. The Puritans were aware of and consciously rejected the main elements of Catholic and Orthodox theology, so of course it would be silly for an Orthodox person to claim the Puritans as being Orthodox."

I don't know if the puritans were aware of Orthodox theology. They were aware of Roman Catholic theology. You keep making the mistake that we are one and the same. However, I do see your point and so, I will use another example more to your liking.

David N, how would you feel if an Arminian protestant who was well read in the works of both John Calvin and Theodore Beza gave a 1hr lecture about how they were truly Arminians, and that modern Calvinists are just reading their beliefs back into them? How would you feel about that? Now you know how I feel when you try to say we(Orthodox Christians) read our beliefs back into the fathers, and that you(Calvinist and Reformed protestants) mostly have them on your side against us.

David N, said:
"The Fathers were not aware of the debate over Sola Scriptura, or Sola Fide, and there was no free will debate until Augustine (which I don't find at all coincidental, by the way), so it is not silly to claim that their theology might agree with Protestants on some points, because they were not explicitly addressing our modern concerns."

They did deal with seeds, variations and forms of some of those issues when dealing with the gnostics and other heretics of their day. To say that a debate centuries later in time can overturn the concepts of free will, the role of Scripture and faith that we Orthodox still hold to and preserved is to put your development not only at odds with them, but also us as well.

In regards to the issue of free will, they fought against the determinism and fatalism of both the gnostics and pagans, and so why should they think it would be ok to embrace a christianized version of determinism when they already rejected it? Why do you think Saint Vincent of Lerins wrote his famous rule of faith? It was because he rejected what Saint Augustine was saying in his later years. The stuff Augustine said in his later years is the very blueprint and foundation of a huge chunk of Calvinism. Without it, Calvinism would not have a chance of existing many centuries later.

In regards to Scripture, they already developed a "rule of faith" Prima Scriptura modal so why should they abandon it for a Solo/Sola Scriptura principle? It is said by some that the heretic Arius only wanted to stick to scripture, if this is truly the case, then they were aware of some form of Solo/Sola Scriptura. They were aware of some seeds of it, and they rejected it for a rule of Faith modal.

And in regards to faith, most of them already saw it as an issue of fidelity, and so, why should they change that perspective for the imputation modal formed many centuries later?

David N, said:
"However, there are some significant overlaps in theme and emphasis between the Reformed and the Orthodox, so it would not be so absurd for an Orthodox person to appreciate some of the Puritans and agree with some of their work."


David N, said:
"That's what's going on here with the Fathers."

I don't know if that was the picture he was trying to paint. I would agree with you if he didn't include mid evil Rome and Arminianism in a negative light in regards to the issue of free will and the church fathers. He should of left the issue of free will alone. Or just not mention Rome and Arminianism. For he tried to make it seem as if they were in agreement with the Reformed, and as you and I both know....or should know....that is far from being true.

David N, said:
"The Fathers were not aware of 16th century debates (or even 8th or 10th century debates), so it makes no sense to read those debates back into Patristic theology and claim that the Fathers were definitively "Orthodox" or "Catholic" or "Protestant."

Our beliefs some centuries later are mostly nothing more than logical conclusions of what was taught centuries before. This isn't the case for Reformed protestants and in some cases Rome. What you teach flips what was taught centuries before on it's head and out the window.

David W, does a good job in explaining this very thing:

David N, said:
"There is much in the Fathers that I would argue is essentially "Protestant" (specifically Reformed, not Anabaptist). But that does not make the Fathers Protestants."

It all depends on what you see as "essentially protestant". I would have to see what you think that is first before I can comment further.

David N, said:
"In any case, now I'm rambling. My only point is that the Orthodox are just as guilty of reading their theology into the Fathers as everyone else is (especially when it comes to the Eucharist and a few other things)."

I disagree. At first I was gonna give in and say something like......if it could be said that we read something into the fathers then....whatever we read into the fathers will always be to a lesser degree than you(Calvinistic and Reformed protestant). But when I saw that you added the issue of the Eucharist into all this, that's when I knew you really don't have a clue, and that I shouldn't give up any ground to you at all, for if you truly think we are reading our theology of the Eucharist into the fathers then you must be full of it! I'm sorry! I tried to be nice.

Before you make such statements, I think you should point the finger at the Reformed and their philosophical and Nestorian influences first, for we are not the problem in this regard.

David N, said:
"Orthodoxy represents an "easternized" development of Patristic theology, just as both Roman Catholicism and a few Protestant denominations (Reformed, Lutheran, and Anglican) represent slightly different "westernized" developments."

Technically we don't believe in the "development of doctrine", at least not in the sense you are talking about. What we believe in is an organic logical conclusion or growth to what was taught before. And so our development is more natural, whereas yours is unnatural for you:

1.) Turn free will into determinism
2.) Turn Ransom/Christos Victor into Penal Substitution
3.) Turn the Real Presence into either grape juice, symbolism only or light spiritualism only
4.) Turn the "rule of faith" into Solo/Sola Scriptura
5.) Turn Baptismal regeneration into symbolism or obedience only

David N, said:
"Everyone has developed their theology beyond anything the Fathers could have originally intended, so it makes little sense to try to claim that everything one group believes today, after centuries of debates and developments that the Fathers had never heard of, is exactly what the Fathers believed."

I'm gonna play David W's video again:

David N, said:
This is why Protestants can more honestly approach the Fathers, appreciating their insights without being forced to accept their errors or implausibly fit their theology into a predetermined mold that doesn't always fit.

That's not what I saw when I was protestant, and seeing different protestant groups quoting the fathers in defense in whatever their group believed. The difference is, the Orthodox are closer to the fathers in most things, and so, we can quote far more of what they say in our defense than most protestant groups.

Christos Anesti
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kabane's presentation

He's young and a little bold and ruff around the edges, but this is what he had to say:

Christ is Risen!

Song of Deborah

Christ is Risen!

Capernaum - House of Peter / Ancient Church in Capernaum

As seen from the

"The House of Peter is an ancient residence at Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee that's been an obvious object of attention since the 2nd century AD. Archaeological excavations have uncovered a home and subsequent home church that contains ancient writings in the wall plaster mentioning Jesus as "Lord" and "Christ" in Aramaic, Greek, Syriac and Latin. The structure is very close to the ancient synagogue at Capernaum and contains 1st century fish hooks and graffiti references to Peter"

The youtube video:

Christ is Risen!

Christians at prayer 3rd century fresco

Wonderful, if a little faded, third century fresco of a figure  praying  © not advert

Christ is Risen!

The Pontius Pilate Inscription

The picture is from the Bible History website:

From Youtube:

Christ is Risen!

The Cyrus Cylinder

Tells of the persian king's decree allowing the captives held by the Babylonians to return to their lands and to restore their temples. (I got this from a book, but I don't have it in front of me, and so I can't type the least not yet, I gave it to one of my little nieces who is also a history buff. I'll write down the source when I get the chance)

Christ is Risen!

The House of David Inscription

As seen from the All About Archaeology website:

This one is from youtube. The House of David Inscription starts around the three minute mark.

Christ is Risen!

Perry crushes Rhology!

This one is in regards to Saint Irenaeus and a statement he made in against heresies that has been quoted often by different iconoclastic Reformed, Calvinistic, and fundementalist protestant groups.

As seen from Energetic Procession

"Irenaeus is an important father of the church for a number of reasons. His extensive writing and fairly impeccable
theology situated in the period which saw the end of the apostolic fathers and apologists. Even though Irenaeus was bishop of Lyon, he was from Asia Minor. He also had direct contact with Polycarp, the disciple of John the Apostle."

Often in discussions concerning the making and veneration of images with Protestants, there is a passage that is adduced to prove that the early church was either iconoclastic or the weaker claim of being iconophobic. The passage is as follows,"

To read the rest, please visit Energetic Procession

Christ is Risen!

Why Perry is not an Episcopalian

This is from his blog Energetic Procession

"For readers who do not know, I am a former Episcopalian. My personal history of religious affiliation goes something like the following. I was baptized Catholic but raised in the Episcopal church until my teen years. From then I’d attend the Episcopal church on Sunday and then Calvary Chapel for “Bible study” on Friday evenings with their youth group. This was on account of a number of reasons, not the least of which was that the youth group at the Episcopal church voted that I should leave since I wanted to read the Bible and not have pizza parties and such. The youth directors agreed given that the kinds of questions I was asking really required a “professional” response. This was after I became exasperated with the whole approach of, let’s sit in a circle and go around the room asking what each person thinks such and so verse means “to me.” At the ripe old age of 13 I blurted out, “I don’t care what it means to me, I just want to know what it means!”

To read the rest, please visit Energetic Procession

Christ is Risen!

New History of Christianity Series!

This one is by David

He is working on the new series from the 1st century all the way up to our day. It's gonna be a fascinating endeavor!

To see the transcript, sources and footnotes, please visit his blog Pious Fabrications.

Christ is Risen!

A Priestess Comes to Repentance

The journey of Alice C. Linsley

As seen from her blog Just Genesis:

"A reader of Just Genesis who is interested in what I have written about the Priesthood has asked that I tell my story, something that I am reticent to do because I don’t enjoy talking about myself. This is the third person who has asked me to explain how I moved from being an Episcopal priest to an Orthodox laywoman who believes that Holy Tradition precludes women being priests. So I will attempt to put the events in order and tell the tangled tale.

There is risk of giving offense to those who believe, as I once did, that the Bible doesn’t prohibit women priests, and that this question is not Christological and does not touch the essentials of salvation. If you are offended by reading this, then take C.S. Lewis’ advice to his reader in Mere Christianity – “Leave it alone.” Better to leave it, for one never knows how God may impress upon you a certain point that offers health to the soul. Perhaps we can agree at least on this: that God does desire the health of our souls. And it is in this spirit that I offer what I am about to say.

To tell this story I will need to speak of three aspects which, like three interwoven threads, give texture and depth to the telling. The three aspects touch on (1) my personal life; (2) the parish that presented me for ordination, and (3) the situation in the Episcopal Church USA in the early-1980s."

To read the rest, please visit Just Genesis.

It is a real moving journey, and it shows that these issues are hard, ruff, complex, and extremely difficult when the rubber meets the road in the struggles of everyday life. Her journey has convicted me, and taught me, that I need to be more charitable and loving when talking about these issues, for at the end of the day, you are dealing with real people who are struggling through life just like you.

Christ is Risen!
Monday, April 26, 2010

Bishop Daniel of Erie (Memory Eternal!)

Bishop Daniel was a bishop over the Russian Old believers in communion with Russia through ROCOR.

Alot of people don't know about the Old Believers and their history. Let alone the ones that came back in communion through ROCOR.

To see the rest please visit ORA ET LABORA's blog

Christ is Risen!

Getting ready for the AncientChristian Conference

It's in a few weeks, and I gotta make sure I know who is coming with me. So far, I have three people in Pittsburgh who are interested, but out of the three, only one seems like they will be able to go. I need to make sure just in case. I have someone in South Carolina who is interested, but I need to make sure it's certain.

And I have a catechumen in Atlanta who is most definitely going. And so, it's gonna be a fun ride to Alabama.

Christos Anesti
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Orthodox and Wesleyan Spirituality

As seen by a Methodist reviewer on

"I can only review this book from a Methodist perspective. It would
be arrogant to assert otherwise.

This book is a collection of papers
from the first Consultation on Wesleyan and Orthodox Spirituality. Orthodox And
Wesleyan Scriptual Understanding And Practice is a product of the Second and
Third consultations. The next volume in this series is highly anticipated.

There has been increasing interest in the area of John Wesley's apparent
appropriation of Eastern sources in his theologising and the subsequent
implications for Methodist theology today. These consultations and their
products (such as the present work) are a welcome addition to this conversation.
The direct dialogue with Eastern theologians over points of intersection between
the two traditions is highly enlightening.

A sober treatment of Wesley's
direct citation of and reference to the Church Fathers (East and West) is
offered by Richard P. Heitzenrater and opens the discussion with a level
perspective on Wesley's direct appropriation Eastern thought. Heitzenrater's
illuminating survey is a 'must read' for anyone wishing to connect Wesley with
Eastern theology.

Orthodox writers such as Petros Vassiliadis and
Dimitar Popmarinov Kirov direct Wesleyans toward a sense of holiness informed by
the Eucharist, koinonia, and theosis. Orthodoxy beckons Methodism forsake
individualistic holiness and keep sight of the corporate dimension of holiness,
an emphasis of Wesley's own orthdox treatment of the topic.

implications of this dialogue are far reaching and exciting. This conversation
is worth following and will be of special interest for those wishing to
understand the relationship between Orthodoxy and Wesleyanism or even Orthodoxy
and Protestantism."
Thursday, April 22, 2010

I wonder if this is where Rhology gets his suff from?‏

T4G 2010 -- Session 7 -- Ligon Duncan from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

Dr. Ligon Duncan is a Presbyterian, but he was talking about the church fathers in this Reformed and Calvinistic conference.

1.) He tries to read his theology into the fathers, he can do this with the first 4 points of Calvinism with Saint Augustine, but he can't do this with the 5th point. He ignores Augustine's views of Justification, and Regeneration in favor of Saint Hilary of Poitier's form of "faith alone". He doesn't make it known that the form of "faith alone" found before Martin Luther can by pass many of the anathema's of the Roman Catholic council of Trent. Shoot! Even the protestant Arminian form of "faith alone" can by pass some of the "faith alone" anathema's of the Roman Catholic council of Trent. The Reformed protestant interpretation of "faith alone" is static, while the protestant Arminian version is dynamic. The same is true for the half dozen to dozen "faith alone" statements you will find among some church fathers, heretics, schismatics, and witnesses/nonchurchfathers. This is something Dr. Ligon Duncan ignores or just doesn't let the people know......he is making it seem as if they believed or understood "faith alone" in the same way the Reformed do today. If they didn't believe in "imputation".......then it is an obvious difference.

2.) He poisons the well by exaggerating their differences. I saw this with Rhology as well. For those that don't read the fathers, it is easy to tell others that they were "all over the map", "contradicted each-other", "didn't agree".......etc. Yes, it is true that the fathers, nonfathers, schismatics, and heretics disagreed. But one needs to know the context of all of that. If the issue at hand is the doctrine of "free will", and if you include Augustine and his followers on the issue.........then yes, the fathers contradicted each-other! Then yes, they disagreed! But if you don't include Augustine and his followers......then no, the fathers mostly agreed on the issue of free will, no they were not all over the map on this issue! And so context matters! Also in the area of eschatology, their differences back then weren't as drastic chaotic, and all over the map like it is today in protestant circles. Back then you pretty much had 2 choices......chillism, and pessimistic amill.....well 3 if you want to include some statements by origin that would make it seem more optimistic......but it was pretty much 2 different views. 2 different issues is not being all over the map.......that difference is not as drastic and chaotic like it is today with different views of Reformed protestant partial preterism.....they alone are all over the map in regards to what was or wasn't fulfilled in 70 A.D., but then you have the full-preterist / Hyper-preterist. You have postmillers, pessimistic and optimistic amill, and in modern chillism you have historist, pre-trib, mid-trib, and post trib. You have classical dispensationalism, progressive dispensationalism......etc.

And so, the contradictions, disagreements ....etc. of the past is not to the same degree to the disagreements going on now within protestantism.

3.) He tries to make an excuse for the early church fathers stress on free saying it was an over-reaction to the fatalism and determinism of their day. He denies that their belief of free will was similar to that of both modern Arminians and middle age Roman Catholics.
He is trying to make it seem as if they were compatibilists. Now, one can make that case for Saint Augustine in his mid to later years, but you can't make that case for the early Augustine nor for the Eastern Fathers and pre-Augustine western Fathers.
He never makes it known that Saint Augustine was at odds with everyone else.

4.) Outside of Saint Jerome, and some Eastern Fathers, and heretics either looking at the Hebrew or referencing the Hebrew from time to time, the earlychurches' Bible was not the Hebrew Bible. It was the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Their Bible was the LXX/Septuagint

5.) He reads penal substitution into the Classical/Ransom/Christus Victor statements of the Fathers. Also the translator he was reading used the word "propitiation" instead of "expiation". The greek word "hilasteriaon" can be translated either way.

I'm tired, and so I might of missed some other things. I'll have to listen to it again to see what I missed. But uhm, if his gospel is different from theirs then they are the ones with a different gospel.

Christ is Risen!
Monday, April 12, 2010

Second thoughts about a Monastery I use to advocate

I am having second thoughts about a monastery in Canada that I use to post alot of links to. I'm not gonna mention the name of his eminence......nor the name of the Canadian Monastery, but just know that I probably won't be posting anything from them anymore. They seem a bit too liberal/modernist for my taste. I don't know, maybe they always were.......I mostly liked them for one issue, but I can't advocate them anymore. I am an African American conservative, and I just can't tolerate much of the stuff they were advocating.


Christos Anesti

Reformed Christology & Nestorianism

This article was written by Dr. Bruce McCormack of Princeton Theological Seminary. The context of the piece was in regards to the Westminster Theological Seminary and Peter Enns feud. Dr. Bruce was saying that the people at WTS were leaving their Reformed tradition in regards to Christology by moving toward a more Eastern Orthodox and Lutherian view. I guess, Dr. Bruce was trying to say that Dr. Peter Enns Christology was more in line with classical Reformed Christology.....which tends to be more Nestorian in nature.......and therefor WTS was in the wrong for firing him. But the part I wanted to quote from the article was the portion that clearly showed the link between Reformed Christology and Nestorianism.

The link:

" It is because of this ambiguity that patristic scholars are, to this day, divided over the question of which party to the controversy actually attained the upper hand at Chalcedon (which already, by itself, would render untenable any simplistic appeal to “Chalcedonian Christology”).. There are those who, leaning heavily on the first of these formulations, say that the Formula grants a certain victory to Nestorius. But there are also those who say that it is Cyril’s theology which triumphed at Chalcedon. In the first group is to be found Aloys Grillmeier and Brian Daley; in the second, John McGuckin. My own view is that a carefully contextualized reading of the Definition will show that it is the second of these opinions which is correct. But here’s the thing: classical Reformed theology clearly stood on the side of the first of these options – not the second."

This next one is by a person by the name of Justin Cloute:

The link:


"Reformed Christology
Christ’s natures remain separate in the person of
Reformed theologians claim agreement with the symbol of Chalcedon,
but in reality this
agreement is only superficial."

This one is a facebook discussion:

Perry on the issue:


A Lutheran talking about the issue:
Christology - Differences Between Calvinists and Lutherans

Christos Anesti
Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Old Testament as Authoritative Scripture in the Early Churches of the East

The link:

As seen from the website:

"Book synopsis

The Old Testament as Authoritative
Scripture in the Early Churches of the East represents the latest scholarly
research in the field of Old Testament as Scripture in Eastern Christianity. Its
twelve articles focus on the use of the Old Testament in the earliest Christian
communities in the East. The collection explores the authoritative role of the
Old Testament in the churches of the East and its impact on the church's
doctrine, liturgy, canon law, and spirituality."

The table of contents:

Christ is Risen!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Christ is Risen!

Truly He is Risen!

(The two people Christ is pulling out the grave is Adam and Eve. For it is His Resurrection that will cause all of us to one day Rise from the dead)

Alot of people in America don't know this, but Pascha (Passover) / Easter is an original christian Feastday / Holiday. Don't let anyone tell you that Easter is pagan......because it's not. Yes, the word "Easter" is pagan, Most English speaking peoples use the pagan word for it, but Christians always celebrated Pascha. Most Christians always celebrated it the Sunday(Saturday night for eastern christians while sunday morning for western christians) following the Jewish Passover, while a segment in Ashia minor did it on the same day as the Jews. Christians argued about this difference in practice for centuries. It took the Council of Nicea to make the practice of Pascha/Easter observance uniform. ....but that's a long story. Christians started to celebrate Pascha differently again when the Gregorian Calander was adopted.....but that too is another long story. What counts is that we celebrate His Resurrection!

Christ is Risen! (An Audio by Fr. Thomas Hopko about Jesus, and the Resurrection)

(They did it on Sunday.....which would of been Saturday night for them. Also Caesarea is the greek name for the Palestine/Israel/Jerusalem area)
"In Alexandria, too, they observe the festival on the same day as ourselves. For the Paschal letters are sent from us to them, and from them to us." Theophilus of Caesarea (180)

ICXC NIKA (Jesus Christ Conquers)
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