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Sunday, January 30, 2011

private judgment

As seen from Theologica. (I only used the initials of the person in this one)

R. N. said:

"Context, Jnorm.... context, context, context. No sentence nor paragraph is an island. Foremost rule of hermenuetics and all, but maybe that is foreign to your group, I dunno."

I quoted what I did for a reason. You were denying private judgement in regards to Sola Scriptura. As if it had nothing to do with the issue. It obviously has something to do with it.

Also if you read the first page of this thread then you would know that I am aware of what Keith A. Mathison calls Sola Scriptura vs Solo Scriptura. And yes, I will stick by what I said in regards to how I think Sola can easily slide into Solo.


The issue of private judgment. All the ancient stuff that I hold too.....including the creeds.......will only be accepted by you if you think they are Scriptural. We all know that you are free to pick and choose what pieces of the ancient creeds you like. Do you believe in Baptismal Regeneration? Probably not......and yet you may think you hold to Constantinople 1. Do you believe the Father to be Monarch? Probably not.......and yet you might think you hold to the First council (Nicaea).

Now Why do I say this?

Because you might have the common excuse or cop out of saying "well I don't think this part of the creed is Scriptural, and so I'm not going to accept it".

A full Preterist protestant can say the samething about the part of the creed in regards to the 2nd Advent. They can use the same cop out. The same excuse......the same argument. Not only that, but a number of other protestants can as well. It just all depends on the issue they personally disagree with. Yeah, you all will talk as if you believe some of the ancient creeds, and ancient faith, but when the push comes to shove, you will pick and choose based on what you think is biblical or not. There are some Reformed who are serious about some of the ancient Federal Vision, NPP, Auburn Ave and company, and some of the more high Lutherans, and Anglicans. But a number of Reformed and Calvinistic Baptists don't like these folks and what they are about. And so what does this tell you in the area about embracing the ancient creeds, and ancient faith as subordinate authorities? It should tell you that it's a bunch of lip service! Yeah, there is a distinction between Sola and Solo, but when push comes to shove, Sola can fold into Solo.

This is why I focused on the quote that I did from Charles Hodge.


Because ultimately it will come down to that issue. And you know it!

R. N. quoted:

Hodge (the paragraphs immediately prior to your quote):

"It is not denied that the Scriptures contain many things hard to be understood; that they require diligent study; that all men need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to right knowledge and true faith. But it is maintained that in all things necessary to salvation they are sufficiently plain to be understood even by the unlearned."

What does this have to do with what I quoted from Charles Hodge? I already mentioned the idea of essential doctrines (even if you nor any protestant can 100%ly agree on what the essentials are) in regards to the issue of Sola Scripura in this thread.

You also quoted this from Hodge:

"It is not denied that the people, learned and unlearned, in order to the proper understanding of the Scriptures, should not only compare Scripture with Scripture, and avail themselves of all the means in their power to aid them in their search after the truth, but they should also pay the greatest deference to the faith of the Church. If the Scriptures be a plain book, and the Spirit performs the functions of a teacher to all the children of God, it follows inevitably that they must agree in all essential matters in their interpretation of the Bible. And from that fact it follows that for an individual Christian to dissent from the faith of the universal Church (i. e., the body of true believers), is tantamount to dissenting from the Scriptures themselves."

John Calvin felt free to deny the Eternal Generation of the Son. Now I could be wrong, but I think Charles Hodge agreed with him. I don't know about you, but I would call the doctrine of the Trinity an essential. I would also call the first two councils ecumenical....or universal. And not only that, Charles Hodge fought against John Williamson Nevin (Mercersburgh Theology).

I could be wrong, but I think the Mercersburgh group was serious in regards to the area of what you quoted from Hodge. Not only that, but I think they were headed in the right direction. And so what does Hodge really mean? He obviously didn't mean what the Mercersburgh group meant! He obviously didn't mean what I believe and hold too! And so the part I quoted from Hodge was appropriate.

For at the end of the day, the right of private judgment is what it will really come down to. If you are fighting against the ancient Faith, it is because of Private judgment/conscience of what you think is biblical.....etc.

R. N. said: "Call me crazy, Jnorm, but I don't think Hodge meant what you think he meant. Private interpretation, as you have been touting it, is that anyone can come to any conclusion that anyone deems valid when reading Scripture and that that interpretation is just as valid as the next (which, I believe, is why you erroneously conflate anti-trinitarian cults with protestantism). Except, the thing is, even this authority that you claim to use in understanding Sola Scriptura rejects that very notion (see the last three sentences I underlined)."

I will stick by what I said. Is Baptismal Regeneration an essential issue? I can go on and on and on! At the end of the day, your subjective veto power to disagree with the ancient creeds and Faith is what it will come down to. When everyone has that veto power then you will wind up with thousands of different competing groups.

R. N. said: "Because it appears too hard to grasp, I'll explain Hodge's explanation is simple terms:
On matters necessary to come to, and maintain, the true, catholic faith - Scripture is plain."

This is subjective. And if you can't see the subjectivity in this, then I'm sorry, but I can't help you. Yes, I do understand what Charles Hodge said. I just know that protestants can't 100%ly agree on matters necessary to come to, and maintain, the true catholic faith. Now why would I quote that part if I know protestants don't 100%ly agree on what is and isn't essential? Thus, what I quoted from Hodge was appropriate.

R. N. said: "All men are encouraged, and required, to read the Scriptures. In their study they should come to the same conclusion, that is the true faith. If they do not, they are dissenting against the Scriptures. On the tougher things, Scripture remains the final authority, and all men should study the Scripture. In their study they should compare Scripture to Scripture as well as pay deference to the faith of the church."

Most of what you said up above is subjective. I mean, why aren't you a Lutheran? Why aren't all protestants Lutherans? Yet, you are upset that I quoted something that really mattered. The reason why you aren't Lutheran is because you have the right(private judgment) not to be, based on how you understand Scripture.

That's it in a nutshell! And so, once again. At the end of the day, it will come down to the issue of private judgment.

R. N. said: "What we deny, as Hodge points out in the out of context section that you quote, is that any man or men hold authority over us higher than Scripture. Scripture binds us, not the judgment of men."

It wasn't out of context. The issue of private judgment is linked to the issue of Sola Scripture.

R. N. said: "Not our own judgement (where's Daniel's head to wall gif?), for there is the possibility of error, but Scipture (our own discretion is dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit - as Hodge also points out but you've appeared to miss). And then Hodge goes on to explain why - by providing Scriptural reference, no less."

I didn't miss it. I am a former Baptist protestant, and so I know about the individual being guided by the Holy Spirit in understanding God's word. I didn't include that because the Holy Spirit isn't the author of confusion. You don't blame the Holy Spirit for the mess we have today.

No, what you blame is the part I quoted and highlighted from Hodge. That is what you blame. For that is the problem. Now in saying this I do recognize that other protestants will state the issue of private judgment differently, but not all protestants do that.

Also, even when they do state the issue differently, it's not like I believe them. For they are not being honest about the issue. They are just trying to hide the fact that they are the ones that have the last say. Thus, they are using Scripture as a smoke screen.....something to hide behind.
Friday, January 28, 2011


As seen from Theologica: (I am putting this on my blog because it took me a few hours to write. I only used his initials instead of his full name in this one.)

C.B. said:

"Jnorm, I find your arguments pretty persuasive (my best friend in a Baptist turned EO too)."

Did he turn EO in a Baptist seminary? I know a number of new converts that did while in seminary or while pastoring.

C.B. said:
" you hold that its impossible for error to be introduced in the church's practice and theology?"

No I don't see it as impossible. For us, time is a major factor. We don't call Clement of Alexandria a Saint. Eventhough he had some good things to say. But we don't call him a saint for a reason. We eventually called Origen a heretic some centuries after his death(eventhough he too had alot of good things to say. He was a prodigy, a genius, and well loved, he is probably one of the most respected and well loved declared heretics of all time), and we call Origenism heretical as well. Why? Because of time. Time is a tester of fruit. One can see the implications or logical conclusions of a belief through time. This is also true in regards to the issue of Arainism....well at least in regards to the Christian East. The moderate Arians or homoiousiosians saw the fruit of Arianism through the radical Arians. Once they saw that, they were ready and willing to re-unite with the Nicene party. It took Saint Athanasius many decades to get them back, but they were ready once they saw the implications of Arianism for themselves.

And so Time is the answer. When we look at the issue of Sola Scriptura, we see that eventually everyone wasn't content to just go by what a Martin Luther, a Zwingli, or a John Calvin had to say. Eventually the flood gates of individualism was open. Eventually the rapid growth of perpetual schisms and splits was open. There is a reason why thousands of different groups exist today. Yes, schisms and splits will always happen, but at what magnitude? Sola Scriptura was like the assembly line for schism. It made splits more easily available, and once it was transplanted to North America in where we have freedom of Religion, it became unstoppable. America is a schism factory. We are in the business of producing schisms. We should have a stamp that says "Schisms R Us"! It has gotten to the point of schism being the norm. No one really cares about the chaos. No one really cares about the massive divisions. No one really cares about what the New Testament has to say about schisms and those who create them. No one really cares because we are entrenched in schism mania.

C.B. said:
"How reliably can all the doctrines be traced back to the first centuries?"

1.) It depends on the issue, and what we are talking about
2.) We would have to include both implicitness as well as explicitness
3.) We would have to look at consistency, logical conclusions....etc
4.) We would have to look at wholeness, meaning what would have to change in order to embrace such and such. Every doctrine influences another, even if you can't see it or perceive it at the time. There is an influence.

It is my personal opinion that out of all the groups that exist today, we are the ones that can make the best claim in this regard. We may not be perfect, and we may fall short in some areas, but this is my own personal opinion.

C.B. said:
"What about when the Fathers contradict each other?"

It depends, as seen from this podcast, When The Fathers Disagree. It also depends on what issue we are talking about as well. If we are talking about the issue of Free Will, then the finger would have to be pointed at Origen and Origenism for bringing in a teaching of determinism for Christians in the Eschaton(due to his embrace of NeoPlatonism), in regards to determinism in the here and now, as well as the Eschaton, we would have to point the finger at Saint Augustine and Augustinianism(also due to his embrace of NeoPlatonism). Other than that you will see most Fathers....especially in the East as being uniform in regards to that issue. And so it really all depends. A good portion of the contradictions have a context to them. This is the reason why we look for Consensus. Or Patristic consensus. The consensus is not just in the area of different regions, but also in regards to different times as well. And so it's both....both time and region.

Those who reject the teaching of Free Will, will simply pick and choose differently. They will have to start with Saint Augustine and stay within the Augustinian tradition by picking and choosing a number of high Augustinians throughout the Lucidus, Gottschalk,......etc.

A similar situation would be true in regards to the issue of Baptismal Regeneration. I could be wrong, but it would seem as if one would have to point the finger either at Wycliffe(because of his high Predestinarian views) or at the Christian humanists of the 16th know, people like Zwingli, the Anabaptists, and maybe John Calvin. I hear conflicting things by people about what he believed, and so I really don't know at this time in regards to John Calvin.

But before that time, it's hard not to see Baptismal Regeneration as being universally advocated. The view is represented strongly in the Fathers. When one adopts the method of Patristic Consensus, then Baptismal Regeneration is the view. Not only in different regions of the globe, but also in every time period as well.

Those who reject Baptismal Regeneration will have a rougher time picking and choosing. They will have to go to Wycliffe(maybe) and then to Zwingli and all those in the Zwnglian and maybe Calvinist tradition. That is what they will have to do.

In regards to the issue of the Eucharist, if one holds to the method of Patristic consensus, then the obvious view is one of the Real Presence. I don't object to the doctrine of Transubstantiation because it's one acceptable school of thought of the Real Presence. Some Orthodox will even use the Latin word.

We have our own word, as found in a ecumenical council, but some Orthodox will make use of the Latin term as well. Those who reject the doctrine of the Real Presence will have to jump to the 5th century to an obscure statement by Saint Augustine. Then they will have to jump again to the 10th or 11nth century to what a Christian Philosophical Naturalist said. Then from there you would have to jump to the 16th century. Some in the 16th century found out what the Naturalist I just mentioned earlier said and so they were following him. We(Christians) are not atheists(naturalists) nor semi-atheists(naturalists). Christians are those who believe in the Supernatural.

And so it all depends on the issue we are talking about. One will find more continuity than discontinuity when looking at the Fathers.....especially when you compare their contradictions to the ones we have in our day(I am including liberals/modernists in all this as well). The contradictions among Christians today is far more severe and chaotic then what we can find in the past. What we would find in the past will always be to a lesser degree than what we will find today. As far as disagreements go.

C.B. said:
"If we have a Father from the second century affirming a doctrine, how do we know the view was catholic?"

If you don't see people fighting over the issue, having arguments and conflicts over the issue, and splitting over the issue, then it is probably a good sign that it's universal. Chillism was faced with opposition early on. Saint Hippolytus had to change his mind on the issue. And so we can tell by the reaction it gets.

C.B. said:
"How you you understand Arianism, specifically in regards to that it WAS the orthodox view for a period? (I assume there might be a disagreement on how one defines orthodox, but as I understand it at one point the Arian view was dominant in the church in terms of numbers and ecclesial and and politicla power)."

I might get a little long winded in this, and so if I loose you, please let me know. All Arians weren't the same. Most of the Eastern Imperial Arians were moderates. There is a reason why they rejected Nicea. You see, the word homoousious was associated with heretical groups. In the 3rd century a local eastern council rejected it in the context of how it was being used by the heretics they were fighting with. Now in saying this I am leaving out some other factors. For there were some Christians in the 3rd century that did use the word. Tertullian used it, and Origen used it, and so Saint Athanasius wasn't the first, but I don't want to get into that at this time, for the word could mean different things to different people. There is an Orthodox way to use it and that is what Nicea represented, but like I said, I don't want to talk about that at this time. What I do want to talk about is how the Christian East hated Sabellianism. I mean, they really really hated Sabellianism. And so Arius went into error in the other direction as a reaction against modalism. There were fears by some in the Christian East that Nicea was a modalistic council because it adopted the word homoousious. These fears were confirmed when they saw Marcellus of Ancyra openly teach Sabellianism.

"For Marcellus, Son and Spirit emerged from the Godhead as distinct persons only for the purposes of creation and redemption. At the end of the world, both would be resumed into the divine unity. These statements of Marcellus convinced many that the Creed of Nicaea was suspect of Sabellianism, and he would long be an albatross about the necks of the orthodox Nicenes. Marcellus made the mistake of sending a book embodying his views to Constantine. For his pains he was deposed in 336, surviving through many vicissitudes until his death at the age of ninety in 374.
[1] page 76

Marcellus was friends with Saint Athanasius. The moderate Arians wanted Athanasius to condemn Marcellus, but Athanasius refused, and so it took decades of verbal fighting before re-union could take place.

"The aftermath

"The Church historian Socrates (380-450) describes the failure of mutual understanding: "The situation was like a battle by night, for both parties seemed to be in the dark about the grounds on which they were hurling abuse at each other. those who objected to the term homoousios imagined that its adherents were bringing in the doctrine of Sabellius and Montanists. So they called them blasphemers on the ground that they were undermining the personal subsistence of the Son of God. On the other hand, the protaganists of homoousios concluded that their opponents were introducing polytheism, and steered clear of them as importers of paganism........Thus while both affirmed the personality and subsistence of the Son of God, and confessed tht there was one God in three hypostases, they were somehow incapable of reaching agreement, and for this reason could not bear to lay down arms."
[2] page 82

What finally caused reunion to happen was due to the radical Arians. Once the moderates saw the fruit of the radicals, that's when they were ready to rejoin the Nicene party.

"How Athanasius eventually won over the semi-Arians/moderates.

"Amid the disturbances of Julian's rule, the doctrinal differences within the Church continued. In 361 the radical Arians met at Antioch under the leadership of Euzoius and declared their belief in a Son unlike the Father. In 362 Athanasius, before his exile, called a peace conference at Alexandria consisting of representatives from Egypt, Palestine and Italy along with delegates sent by the fanatical Nicene Lucifer of Cgliari, Apollinaris of Laodicea and the priest Paulinus, chief of the Nicene community at Antioch. Athanasius' main concern was to reconcile the moderates and the Nicenes by getting behind party catchwords to the deeper meaning of each position. He recommended asking those who held three hypostases if they meant three in the sense of three subsistent beings, alien in nature like gold, silver and brass, as did the radical Arians. If they answered no, he asked if they meant by three hypostasis a Trinity, truly existing with truly substantial Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and if they acknowledged one Godhead. If they said yes, he allowed them into communion. Then he turned to those who spoke of one hypostasis and asked if they meant this in the sense of Sabellius, as if the Son were not substantial and the Holy Spirit impersonal. If they said no, he asked them if they meant by one hypostasis one substance or ousia because the Son is of the substance of the Father. If their answer was yes, he accepted them into communion. Finally, in a statesmanlike fashion Athanasius brought out the truth each side was fighting for and showed that between the moderates and the Nicenes there was really no ground for disagreement. The results of these deliberations were sent off to Antioch divided into three factions: the Arians led by Euzoius, the imperially recognized bishop, the Homoeousians led by the exiled Meletius and the old Nicenes led by the priest Palinus, loyal to the long-dead Eustathius. The way seemed open for peace.But the way was proved long and ruff. For while Athanasius was laying the groundwork for reconciliation at Alexandria, Lucifer of Cagliari had gone to Antioch and made things worse. Instead of attempting to reconcile the moderate bishop Meletius who had already declared for the Nicene faith. Lucifer consecrated the Old Nicene Paulinus as bishop. The two parties which Athanasius had been attempting to reconcile were now separated by rival bishops, while the old Arian Euzious held the churches of the city. This schism at Antioch would impede reconciliation between moderates and Nicenes for years to come as Athanasius and the bishop of Rome came to support Paulinus, while the rising leader of the East, Basil of Caesarea, remained loyal Meletius.
[3] page 102-103

I hope this helps. Like I said before, it takes time to test an idea. A doctrine, a belief, and it took decades for the council of Nicea to be embraced. The moderate Arians weren't that far away from the Nicenes, and at the end of the day they were able to heal the split. Yes, the Empire fought against the Nicene party for decades. But there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Check out these podcasts:
The Ecumenical Councils - Part 1
The Ecumenical Councils - Part 2
The Council of Nicaea - 1
The Council of Nicaea - 2
The Council of Nicaea - 3
Post Nicaea

and this:
1st Ecumenical Council-Nicea 325 AD and the struggle with Arianism

C.B. said:
How do you understand/explain the schism between East and West under this view of authoritative tradition? How did the inerrant tradition of the church basically cause it to divide in two? How is the East vs. West doctrinal splits resolved according to tradition? (I know the differences are fewer in magintude and importance to the Protestant split, but its still and issue).

The influence of the Franks and Germans. There are two good books you can read if you want to learn more about this from our perspective: (sidenote: avoid volume 1 in the series)
The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy
The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy: The Church 1071-1453 A.D


Greek East And Latin West
Greek East And Latin West: The Church AD 681-1071

I hope this helps.

C.B. said:
"Are all doctrines past form the apostles or are some developed based on other things? Take the Trinity as an understanding is that this was systematically formed based on heterodox attacks, but as a systematized doctrine it was new."

The western interpretations are different from the Eastern. Our interpretation has strong strong strong continuity with the pre-Nicene world. The same may not be true with some western interpretations. In my protestant years from 1997/1998 to about 2003 I use to follow David Bercot's online ministry/website. And so I use to believe in the pre-Nicene view of the doctrine of the Trinity. Yes, they did believe in the Father, the Logos(I said it this way for a reason), and the Holy Spirit. And yes, they saw all Three as Eternal and Divine. Now there are differences between the Nicene and Pre-Nicene views. I know what they are, but I don't want to go into much detail right now. For the past few months I have been talking about this very issue with an online friend. You can see it here.

Sorry, but I didn't want to repeat myself over here......eventhough I probably have, but yeah, I use to believe in the Pre-Nicene view. Now I believe in the Eastern Christian interpretation of the Nicene view. The core essence is the same. One of the main reasons why I chose to go East instead of Rome was because of this very issue. I knew that the pre-Nicene view was extremely close to the Eastern Christian Nicene understanding. Listen to this podcast by Fr. Thomas Hopko
The Holy Trinity

Also read what Pope Alexander of Alexandria had to say about the issue against the heretic Arius, and you will see that the doctrine is not new.......far far from it.

C.B. said:
"I guess as ideas and therefore doctinres evolve and heterodxies infiltrate and attack, the result can be conflicting which point there must be some tie breaker? What is that?"

Read the primary sources for yourself. Yeah, it may take a few years, but it's worth it. I've been reading them off and on since 1997/1998. Read them for yourself and then decide what you think the tie breaker is. I Chose Antioch over Rome because of the doctrine of the Trinity. But for someone else it might be something different. A different issue.

I hope this helps.

[1]page 76, [2]page 82,[3] pages 102-103 from the book the first Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology by Leo Donald Davis

Farrell on the West and the passing on of original guilt

He is making some connections that may or may not be true. I really don't know, and so I really can't say. I'll let you be the judge.

Can we trust the Early Christians? And did they see Scripture as the sole standard of doctrine?

As seen from Theologica:

Tim said:

"I trust them to a point. I can’t just take whatever they say as truth, though."

So you are the deciding factor? I know you will say Scripture is, but you should know that when you say such things, I will naturally see you as being the deciding factor of what Scripture says and doesn't say......even if you feel otherwise.

Tim said: "Where did the church ORIGANLLY get all their doctrine before traditions?"

I know what you are trying to say for I use to be a Baptist. However, I see things differently now, and so the question you asked no longer makes sense to me, for all of it is Tradition......including Scripture itself. Scripture is an aspect of Tradition, it is not really separate from it. Nor is it the whole of it. It maybe the Primary aspect, but it's not the only aspect.

Tim said: "The Scriptures and direct apostolic tradition. Numbers are inconsequential. Just talk to Christopher Columbus."

If you believe it's Scripture and direct apostolic tradition, then how can you hold to Solo Scriptura?

Tim said: "Looking at the Scriptures alone, I just can’t see how you can see everything you hear taught now and equate it with what the apostles taught."

Do you believe in Sola Scriptura or Solo Scriptura? You seem to believe in Solo. It would seem as if all the talk of other authorities is nothing more than lip service. You don't really believe in other authorities.

Tim said: "But like I said, where did the church ORIGANLLY get all their doctrine before traditions? The Scriptures and direct apostolic tradition."

In the other thread about Head Coverings, do you believe what Paul said in Scripture to be binding today? If you say no, then I doubt if "direct apostolic tradition" really would matter to you since Scripture doesn't really matter to you. You pick and choose what you want from Scripture, and so Scripture is not really your final authority. You don't really believe in Scripture. You believe in yourself. You are the deciding factor. You are the boss. You make the decisions. You decide what is and isn't valid today in regards to Scripture. And thus, you are the real final authority. This is why you want to isolate Scripture from it's surrounding context. You isolate it because you want to be the one to determine what Scripture means, and you know that the Fathers disagree with you and so you don't want them to have a say. Either that or you don't want their say to really matter.

Tim said: "Since we only have the Scriptures as transfers of direct apostolic tradition,"

Says who? Do you believe all the people that sat at the Apostles feet got it wrong? Do you believe they all lost what the Apostles told them to keep? Do you believe they all got amnesia shortly after the death of the Apostles?

I'm sorry, but I don't believe this. I trust the prayer of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

Chapter 17 verse 20
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;"

Jesus prayed for those who would listen to the Apostles. I believe the next generation was faithful, and the ones who were not regards to heresies.....we already know for they told us who the heretics were. Also Jesus said other things in other places that would support the idea that the visible Church that He started would still be wouldn't go away, and it wouldn't fall into utter apostasy when the last Apostle died. And so yes I trust them. Why don't you?

Tim said: "the Scripture then become the sole standard of doctrine."

According to who? Do you believe in Solo Scriptura or Sola Scriptura? You seem to believe in Solo Scriptura.

What was the Sole standard of doctrine in the 1st century? It wasn't Sola Scriptura. They still had Jesus, the Apostles, and the council in Acts chapter 15 in the first century. Not only that, but the New Testament doesn't really tell much about how Christians worshiped. Surely they Worshiped, and surely the Apostles and other Apostolic men taught them how. So what about the second century?

Well let's look at Saint Polycarp:
The genuine tradition of Apostolic doctrine

"Polycarpus (1) bp. of Smyrna, one of the most prominent figures in the church of the 2nd cent. He owes this prominence less to intellectual ability, which does not appear to have been pre-eminent, than to the influence gained by a consistent and unusually long life. Born some 30 years before the end of the 1st cent., and rasied to the episcopate apparently in early manhood, he held his office to the age of 86 or more. He claimed to have known at least one apostle and must in early life have met many who could tell things they had heard from actual disciples of our Lord. The younger generation, into which he lived on, naturally recognized him as a peculiarly trustworthy source of information concerning the first age of the Church. During the later years of his life Gnostic speculation had become very active and many things unknown to the faith of ordinary Christians were put forth as derived by secret traditions from the Apostles. Thus a high value was attached to the witness Polycarp could give as to the genuine tradition of apostolic doctrine, his testimony condemning as offensive novelties the figments of the heretical teachers. Irenaeus states (iii.3) that on Polycarp's visit to Rome his testimony converted many disciples of Marcion and Valentinus. Polycarp crowned his other services to the church by a glorious martyrdom." [1]

The third century?
Tertullian and Tradition/Observances/Customs not mentioned in Scrip...:

"If, for these and other such rules, you insist
upon having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be
held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and
faith as their observer. That reason will support tradition, and custom, and
faith, you will either yourself perceive, or learn from some one who has.
Meanwhile you will believe that there is some reason to which submission is

The next following centuries aren't your friend either.

And so, If they didn't go by your version of Sola Scriptura, then why should anyone abide by it today?

Tim said: "Is that not like the old days then?"

No, it's not. What the Apostles spoke was just as authoritative as what they wrote. I don't know if you do, but if you fight against modern Pentecostals, then I don't see how you can see yourself as copying the Apostles. Saint Peter had a vision about the gentiles, do you believe in visions? If not, then you can't say what you just said. Like I said before, you pick and choose what you wish to believe in. You pick and choose what you want to be binding in Scripture for today. Thus, you are the deciding factor. You are the final authority.

[1] page 846 from the book "A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography: A Reference Guide to over 800 Christian men and women, Heretics, and Sects of the first six centuries" edited by Henry Wace & William C. Piercy. Originally published in London 1911 by John Murray, republished by Hendrickson publishers 1999
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The event went well

They raised alot of funds tonight. I'll check out Obama'a speech on CSpan. I'm sure they will show it again.

A lecture by Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth

As seen by Ancient Faith Radio

This lecture was given last year at the Missions and Evangelism Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The title of the speech was titled The Christian Reformed: Who are they?

I thought it was awesome.

Play Audio

Orthodoxy 102 Course To Be Offered On-Line January 31, 2011

As seen by the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese website:

"JOHNSTOWN, PA --With The Blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicholas a seven-week on-line introductory class on the Orthodox Christian Spiritual Life, Orthodoxy 102, will begin on Monday January 31, 2011. The class, led by Fr. Peter Paproski, will be broadcast live each week from St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Stratford Connecticut. The class will begin at 7:00 pm and will last approximately 60 minutes.

Topics to be discussed will include, The Nature of the Church, Teachings of the Fathers on the Spiritual Life, Sin and Repantance: Combating the Passions and Training in the Virtues, Orthodox Worship, Faith and Works, Spiritual Life and the World.

Time will allowed at the end of each session for a question and answer period based on questions raised in person or via email or instant messaging. Audio recordings of each session will be archived for later study.

There is no charge for participating, however, those who wish to participate must register on-line to enter the class room and access the broadcast link. Audio recordings of each session will be archived for later study."

Please visit the website to read the rest or to register.

Pray for Russia

Monday, January 24, 2011

Too much caffeine

I was up for 31 hours. Not good, but I was able to hear the founder of the ministry speak. I gotta get some sleep. Hopefully I will be up in time to pick up someone at the air port. I am feeling real good about what's going on. I think I'm gonna give it my all.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why I reject the Western interpretations of Doctrinal Development

As seen from Theologica:


Thanks for the link. I'm pretty familiar with how Rome understands the issue of doctrinal development. I've known about the concept for sometime. I was aware of it way back in my protestant Baptist years, and I came to know of it even more in my Anglo-Catholic years. If you don't know, a man by the name of John Henry Newman had alot to do with not only the influence of the Oxford Movement, which put Anglo-Catholicism on the map, but he was also the one who came up with the Development of Doctrine idea. Also thanks to my inter-actions with David and my readings of the posts of his buddy Dr. Michael Liccione.......I can say that I'm pretty familiar with the Roman Catholic view/interpretation of the Development of Doctrine idea. Now one may run into Roman Catholics that may reject the idea.....I am not talking about them. I am only talking about the Roman Catholics that embrace the idea.

I also run into a number of conservative protestants who reject the idea and so I am not talking about those conservative protestants who reject it. I am only talking about the conservative ones who at least embrace the my PCA buddy Ricky.

And so with that said I will say that I reject both the Roman Catholic and protestant interpretations of the development of doctrine ideas. I listened to the first 4 videos from the link you gave. I was surprised that he was more open to things that other conservative protestants aren't open to. I appreciate that.

However, I must voice my dissent in regards to how the west seems to view "doctrinal development". In doing so I hope I am not being rude nor mean. These are the problems I see:

How can one embrace the Bible or what they may call Biblical Theology (in contrast to what they call Systematic Theology) while at the same time admit that what they believe about certain issues wasn't articulated until many many many centuries later?

To me that would mean either one of two things:

1.) Jesus, the Apostles, and the Church after them didn't articulate it, but someone many centuries later did?

If this is the case then one would have to assume that what you believe really isn't Biblical at all for it wasn't articulated until centuries later. What Did Jesus articulate? What did the Apostles articulate? And what did they pass on to the next generation? What did that generation and the generation after that articulate? Don't forget what the Apostle Paul said:

2 Thessalonians 2:15
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

And what the Apostle Jude said:

Jude 1:3
"...................I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."

And so to me, when it comes to Christianity, something was articulated by Jesus and the Apostles and they wanted that to be past on and held to. To say that your view wasn't articulated until many centuries later will tell me that what you believe isn't really Biblical. For how can you point to the Scriptures in support of that view if you know it came later in time? That's one problem I have with it. The other is:

2.) Both Jesus and the Apostles articulated it, but no one after them did until many centuries later.

This view seems to be the default view of most protestants I run into. Especially when one is cornered into a wall. One will have to play the Restorationist card in order to hold on to their belief. They would have to assume that Jesus and the Apostles taught what they did only for it to be lost for many centuries till the founder of their group or school of thought was born. Or else it would be extremely difficult to believe.....with a straight face.....that what you teach is what the Bible teaches.

Now, with that said I will say that I see the western views of doctrinal development as being one of "Macro-Evolution". The Eastern Christian view is what I would call "micro-Evolution".

What do I mean by this? Simple!

If Jesus, the Apostles, and the Church after them all taught and articulated the doctrine of Free Will. Then no matter what.......the doctrine centuries later must still be recognizable as being Free Will. The West turns what started out as Free Will and they turn it into either soft or hard determinism. This is what the west means by doctrinal development. And this is what I reject.

To the Christian East, if something starts out as a cat then no matter the evolution it must still look like some cat centuries later.....It doesn't matter if it's a wild cat, a mountain lion or a domesticated cat. It's still the same doctrinal and theological DNA.

The west turns what started out as a cat into a Lizard. This is what the west calls doctrinal development and this is what I reject.

I hope this helps! If I was rude or mean I am sorry. I didn't mean to be. Please let me know if I was rude.

Part 2:

As seen from Theologica.

Thanks once again for responding. In order for you to see how I feel, I think I must go into more detail as well as use more examples.

Free Will: Now I don't know if Free Will is an Essential or a non-Essential on your list:

1.) If Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church Fathers all articulated Free Will, then to me no matter the Evolution centuries later, the doctrine should still be recognizable as being the same animal. Now lets call the Free Will that Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church Fathers articulated as A Sabertooth Tiger.

What happened in the west through Saint Augustine is that Free Will was eventually tossed out the window in favor of a Plotinistic soft determinism. I would call this a Lizard. A totally different animal. Believe it or not, but many Pre-Nicene Christians articulated the Free Will view against the fatalistic and deterministic views of various gnostics, and pagans. And so we know what the animal of free will looks like. We also know what it looks like for Saint Augustine use to defend the doctrine in his early christian writings. And so we know what the animal looks like, but even more importantly, we know what Free Will doesn't look like.

The problem is that people use his debates with Pelagius as a means to overturn the old view(throwing the baby out with the bathwater). As a means to overturn or over rule the ancient view. They over turn it in favor of a more Deterministic view. They will say that with his debates with Pelagius we learned more and so now we are going to teach determinism. I am sorry but Determinism is a totally different animal than Free Will. Not only that, but no one notified the Christian East. The Christian East was still articulating the doctrine of Free Will.....just as we still do today! Now the Christian West did modify Saint Augustine's view through various local western councils......I know Rome will protest by calling them ecumenical. But to the Christian East they were western local councils. Arles in 473 A.D. and Second Orange in 529 A.D. and so officially the Christian West articulated various forms of semi or moderate Augustinianism. Hard Augustinianism was usually condemned. There are semi-Augustinian schools of thought within Rome that teach a recognizable form of Free Will. For our purposes we will call these cats a mountain Lion and a cheetah. There are other schools of thought within Rome that are more High Augustinian and so I would say that they still teach something that is more recognizable as a lizard. Now when Protestantism came about both Luther and Calvin articulated a form of high Augustinianism, and so they both were advocating different types of Lizards! The same with Jansen and Jansenism! I could be wrong, but I think the Anabaptists were advocates of Free Will, if so then lets call their view a wild Lion.

When Arminius came on the scene lets call his view a domesticated cat. The same with some Caroline Divines, some Nonjurors, and John Wesley within Anglicanism. All different forms of domesticated cats.

Let's call the Pelegius view as well as some of the later Arminians through Charles Finney a type of wild human eating Lion.

And let's call the Orthodox Christian view a Tiger. This is how I see the whole scenario.

I feel the same way in the area of other views as well.

The Christian west turned the Ransom and Christus Victor views of the Atonement into either Satisfaction(Saint Anselm) or Penal Substitution(mostly within various Reformed traditions, and the traditions of those that split from them). The later views are different animals to me. It's Macro-Evolution!

We still teach Christus Victor! But it's seen as Heresy now to the later views! Our Atonement understanding and some of the western ones are different animals.

I feel the same is true even in the area of Ecclesiology and other issues. I'm sorry for the rant, and for my generalizations of the west. I know that not everyone in the west believes the same nor go about the same issue the same way, but this is how I see it in more detail. The ideas seem like two different animals to me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I just left another meeting, and I am seeing that this is starting to look real serious. It's not for play. And so I'm gonna give it my all to help make this happen. There is another meeting the day before the actual dinner. I'm gonna try and help the sub deacon in any way possible. Some more contacts need to be made in the desired location and so I'm gonna talk to my Aunt, since she lives there and knows alot of people in the area. we have to talk to the clergy association in the area. If we have their support then it might make things a whole lot easier for us. There are a number of hurdles that need to be overcome in order to save the Mother Parish of most Orthodox parishes in the Pittsburgh region. The possible ministry that we want to do there is uniting alot of Orthodox all over the city and greater Pittsburgh region, but man........this is not going to be easy. I'm tired, I need to sleep!

Lord Have Mercy!
Monday, January 17, 2011

I Have a Dream

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Father Sofian Boghiu - Inner Purification

As seen from an Orthodox Facebook group.

I really needed to see this.

Answering a question about an anti-Orthodox Reformation

As seen from Theologica

"If Germany and Luther been Orthodox rather than Catholic, would we still have had the Reformation? Why or why not? Why didn't Luther just leave the RCC for the "original" OC?"

I would say no for 11 reasons:

1.) The western tradition had a history of Reformers that is pretty much absent in the East. At least in the way it was done in the west. Most of these pre-Reformation Reform groups were monastic orders. They were accepted or embraced by Rome, some of the pre-Reformation Reform groups that were rejected are people that you all already know of.....The Waldensians, Huss, Wycliff......etc. And so I would say no because the protestant Reformers of the 16th century were following a western tradition unique to itself. The Monasticism of the East was more stable and uniform by the time of the early western pre-Reform groups and so the situation was totally different.

2.) Most of the Reform groups were Augustinian in one way or another. The Christian East is not Augustinian

3.) In order for the protestant Reformation of the 16th century to stick, it needed Kings, princes.....etc to support it. And this situation is unique to the west for the simple reason of the western holy Frankish and German Roman Empire. The rise of the Nation states.....which used the Reformation as an excuse to gain more independence from the western Emperor...... is what helped the protestant Reformation survive. The situation in the East was different. The west spread the idea of Nation states all throughout the world and that only made Orthodoxy stick even more in the areas it was mostly in.

4.) The Rise of Islam helped Martin Luther survive. If it wasn't for Islam, it would be hard for the protestant Reformation to stick. The Christian East was fighting Islam for centuries and so our paradigm would of been different. Because of the Crusades and the fall of Constantinople....due to the alliance and trading between France and the Turks. It was French Canons that took down the walls of the city. And so their was tension between the Christian East and the West.

5.) We care about issues you probably don' the Filioque, the Essence vs Energies distinction, the Monarchy of the Father, the 7 councils, strong continuity with the past......etc.

6.) The Banks, I forgot the name of the family...I wanna say the Fuggers , but Saint Peters in Rome wouldn't of been possible apart from it.

7.) The issue of indulgences. You see, the Fuggers wanted their money, and so Tetsil was used by the Vatican to collect funds in order to help pay the Fuggers for the building of Saint Peters. There would be no protestant Reformation if this didn't exist.

8.) The Renaissance movement. The southern Renaissance was based on art and Architecture(thus the building of Saint Peter's in Saint Peter's no 16th century Reformation). The Northern Renaissance was based on literature(thus the slogan of "going back to the sources" textual criticism no 16th century Reformation). The 16th century protestant Reformation was an academic revolt. little different from the academic revolt of the late 19th century to early 20th centuries. Yes, the one that sparked the split between protestant liberals and protestant Fundamentalists. The protestants of the 16th century were seen as liberals. Or the liberals of their day. And so in a way, the liberals of the 19th/20th centuries could be called Reformers. But in going back to the 16th century, one could assume that in a way the Reformation was a fight between the two Renaissance movements.....the north and the south.

9.) The inter-action between the western Scholastics and Islam which would help bring about the rise of 16th century protestantism and their view of Sola Scriptura. The original view was Prima Scriptura.

10.) The bad Reforms that happened in the East:

a.) Ebionitism (bad reform)

b.) Modalism (bad reform)

c.) Montanism (bad reform)

d.) Tertullianism (bad reform)

e.) Origenism (bad reform)

f..) Arianism (bad reform)

g.) Nestorianism (bad reform)

h.) Monothelitism and Monoenergism (bad reforms)

i.) Iconoclasm was due to the outside influence of Islam (bad reform)

j.) The 17th century influence of Calvinism that didn't last (bad influence and Reform)

11.) We were influenced by both protestantism and Roman Catholicism. You can see this from the 17th to the mid 20th centuries. And so our Reform movements from these centuries have been truly Reform the sense that in fighting against the western Captivity we have consistently gone back to the Fathers.....especially the ones in where the theology of the ecumenical Church Councils were based on. You can see this out cry by a number of Orthodox from the 19th century onward.....probably before too, but I only know about what happened from the 19th century onward in this regard. A true Reform movement is suppose to go back to something that existed before, most western reform movements seem like Restorationist movements for they go back to something that never existed. Each Restorationist group looks different from the other and so there is something wrong about that. If one can't empirically pin point what they are going back to then it's not a's a self made restoration. We can pin point the Church Councils and Fathers. We all know what that looked like.

Now in saying this, the Orthodox are sympathetic to what happened with the Old Russian Believers, in modern times some have come back in communion with Russia by way of ROCOR. But the Old Believers would have more in common with the Mennonite and Amish Anabaptists than with the Lutherans and Reformed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I cut back from posting my own articles

Because eversince July of 2008 the spiritual struggle intensified. I never had it this bad in my protestant years. It is as if something out there wants me to stop for I am being attacked on all sides. And so I've been trying to focus more on my prayer and fasting life. Eventually I will post more of my own thoughts, but first my personal prayer and fasting life needs to improve. And so most of my posts will continue to be other peoples stuff. I will post my own thoughts every now and then, but this is the reason why I cut back. Spiritual Warfare is real, and I need more strength!

Pray for me!
Thursday, January 13, 2011

Schaeffer & The Calvin Forum

Thanks to Dan for uploading this.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More about the Western confusion

From pages 207-211

"The opposition of Christ's human will to the divine will was seen to occur for two reasons: one, because of the confusion of person and nature implied in the Augustinian understanding of original guilt; and two, because fallen humanity is the same humanity to be found in Christ, inclusive of its opposing will. Christ's predestination is therefore the same as ours because it is by grace: the divine will overcomes Christ's human will in an irresistible manner, much as the divine will overcomes the human will in the case of those predestined to salvation. But this led the Spanish Adoptionists to assume two sons, one of nature, the other of grace. And this in turn implied that they confused a personal characteristic, that of sonship, with that of nature and have thus come full circle back to the confusion which began the process. It is this whole vast and intricate matrix which related Spanish Adoptionism and its underlying predestinational Christology to the filioquist controversies of the ninth century. This would suggest that the Spanish Adoptionist predestinational Christology and the filioque share a common ancestry. That ancestry is Neoplatonism, and it is this consideration which incites, indeed, compels, comparison between St. Maximus and St. Augustine. The filioque is ultimately derived from the philosophical and neoplatonic definition of simplicity and its accompanying dialectic of oppositions. Each of the problems that attended Neoplatonism - the identity of being and will and its consequences of an eternal generation of the Son indistinguishable and indivisible from an eternal creation, the dialectical opposition of the simplicity and the dialectic in collapsing into an infinite series of beings as in the neoplatonic system of Iamblichus, or in erasing all distinctions between beings as in the Neoplatonic Pantheists, the structural subordination of all pluralities to the One-all these implications are to some extent present in the trinitarian theology of St. Augustine.

St. Augustine assumed that if there could be common ground between theology and philosophy there could be common definitions as well. He found this common definition in the neoplatonic definition of the simplicity of the One. Appropriating this definition as an understanding of the divine essence of the Christian Trinity, as a definition of the unity of the Christian God, he made of it the ultimate basis of his attempted synthesis. Consequently it is at the Augustinian doctrine of God that the point of contact between theology and philosophy occurs, and it is through this doctrine of God that the Augustinian conception of predestination must be approached. A proper understanding of Augustine Triadology will yield a proper understanding of the logic and structure behind its predestinational doctrine.

When he appropriated the definition of simplicity as a definition of the divine essence of the Trinity, he accepted it uncritically, and thus made his "philosophical first principle one with his religious first principle" to such an extent that as the French Roman Catholic Etienne Gilson observed, even his notion of divine being "remained greek," that is, ultimately pagan. Therefore, insofar as his doctrine of predestination is derived from this pagan definition of the divine essence, it is to that extent that it is pagan in its roots. It is at the point of this definition that the divine essence begins to be abstracted from the plurality of attributes and persons as a prolegomenon to theology. In other words, once he had assumed the simplicity as a definition of the divine essence in its full Neoplatonic sense, the essence becomes increasingly singled out ans strictly distinguished from all the divine "pluralities," the attributes and the persons. The dialectic of opposition between the One and the many is already in evidence in this step, and two things occur because of it. First, the unity of God is seen in impersonal and abstract terms. St. Augustine states it this way: "The divinity is the unity of the Trinity." But more important is the fact that, at this stage at least, the persons and the attributes are accorded the same logical status. And thus St. Augustine can say that

He is called in respect to Himself both God, and great, and good, and just, and anything else of the kind; and just as to Him to be is the same as to be God, or as to be great, or as to be good, so it is the same thing to Him to be as to be person.

Underlying these mutual identities is the simplicity, once again functioning as a great metaphysical "equals" (=) sign, and consequently the conclusion that the person are attributes or that the attributes are persons is inescapable.

But when he turns to consider the attributes themselves, they become identical with the divine essence and alternative names for it: "The Godhead," he writes, "is absolutely simple essence, and therefore to be is there the same as to be wise. And this leads to the further implication that since the attributes are identical to the essence, they are identical to each other: "In regards to the essence of truth, to be true is the same as to be and to be is the same as to be great....therefore to be great is the same as to be true." A=B and B=C, ergo A=C. Reason, logic, and simplicity are the very essence of the divine essence. It is this identity of attributes amongst themselves which led to three very different conclusions, conclusions which are nevertheless related, for they depend upon this identification of the attributes amongst themselves.

First, it is this identity of the attributes with themselves and with the divine essence that allowed Thomas Aquinas, who inherited this definitional understanding of the divine simplicity from St. Augustine, to assert the identity of the divine essence with the divine will. The simplicity is absolute; therefore God's will is not other than His essence," a proposition common with Plotinus, and a proposition at the root of the Origenist problematic. Unlike the Athanasian response to this problematic, which depended upon the distinction between essence and attributes being a formal one, this understanding of the simplicity is a definitional one, and it is this which is the ultimate root of the Western difficulties with Palamism: there cannot be ultimate and equal goods which are really distinct from the divine essence as well as being really distinct from each other.

Second, the Augustine doctrine of predestination must, to a great degree, be referred to this identity of attributes amongst themselves, in other words, to this identity of attributes amongst themselves, in other words, to predestinate is the same as to foreknow. If God foreknows the damned and the elect, He also predestines them. The evaluation of Jaroslav Pelikan is therefore not entirely correct. It is in regard to this identification of the attributes of predestination and foreknowledge that he wrote "what was needed to correct and clarify the Augustinian doctrine was a more precise definition of predestination that would distinquish it from grace." But since the deterministic aspects of Augustinism appear to be not so much biblical as neoplatonic and logical, as they are rooted in a particular dialectically-derived definition of the divine essence, it would appear that what is needed is precisely not another definition, but a non-definitional understanding of the divine simplicity, one which would not permit the term to function as an "equals" (=) sign which identifies the pluralities of attributes.

Finally, this identification of the attributes amongst themselves plays an important role in the derivation of the filioque. Because the categories of the persons and attributes, as multiplicites contrasted to the simple essence, all serve as logically interchangeable definitions of the simple divine "something", the question for St. Augustine then became one of securely maintaining the real distinction of persons in the face of a simplicity which had already nullified the real quality and distinctions of the attributes amongst themselves. Here the subordination of the persons and attributes to the essence in the ordo theologiae also provides St. Augustine with the means to attempt to distinction the persons from each other. Having assumed an absolute, definitional simplicity, the person can no longer be absolute hypostases, but are merely relations, since the names Father, Son, and Spirit are terms relative to each other. Here again there is a subtle but nevertheless real play of the dialectic of oppositions. One no longer begins with the three persons (since one has already began theology at the divine essence) and then moves to consider their relations, but begins more with their relative quality, with the relation between the persons, itself. In other words, there is an artificial opposition of any given person to the other two. It is at this point that the flexibility of St. Augustine's neoplatonic basis begins to surface in a more acute form." [1]

[1] pages 207-211 from the book Free Will in St. Maximus the Confessor by Joseph P. Farrell
Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Western confusion of the divine energy with the divine essence

From the Introduction:

The fact that God desires the salvation of all does not mean that all are saved. God saves only through love and freedom. This point is exactly what theologians under the influence of Augustine have never comprehended. Thinking that the divine essence, energy, and will are identical, they were not in a position to even suspect that free beings outside of God are capable of acting against the divine will. Therefore, it is not at all strange that Western theologians find a kind of crypto-Pelagianism everywhere in the Greek Fathers and attempt to justify themselves by inquiring if there is some unexplained reason why the Eastern Fathers were not interested in the great problems of original sin and divine grace that preoccupied the West. It is very natural for them to think this way since they have erroneous preconceptions about God's relations with the world. As a result, it is impossible for them to seriously accept that death exists in the world as a kind of parasite apart from the will of God, and that the divine will and the salvific divine energy are not one and the same thing. God does not will death. Nevertheless, He does not act to destroy it until He has prepared men to accept life.

In 431, the Holy Fathers of the Third Ecumenical Synod at Ephesus condemned Pelagianism and emphasized that death is unnatural and grace is of absolute necessity for salvation. The president of the Synod and chief polemicist against the heresies was St. Cyril of Alexandria, who wrote the following about the transmittal of the ancestral sin to the descendants of Adam: "But what can one say? Yes, Adam indeed fell and, having ignored the divine commandment, was condemned to corruptibility and death. But how did many become sinners because of him? What are his missteps to us? How could all of us who were not yet born be condemned together with him, even though God said, 'Neither the fathers shall be put to death because of their children nor the children because of their fathers, but the soul which sinneth shall be put to death? Surely, the soul that sins shall die. For we became sinners through Adam's disobedience in such a manner as this. He was created for incorruption and life, and the manner of existence he had in the garden of delight was proper to holiness. His whole mind was continuously seeing God while his body was tranquil and calm, and all base pleasures were still. For there was no tumult of alien disturbances in it. But since he fell under sin and slipped into corruptibility, pleasures and filthiness assaulted the nature of the flesh, and in our members was unveiled a savage law. Our nature thus became diseased by sin through the disobedience of one, that is, of Adam. Thus, all were made sinners, not as co-transgressors with Adam. which they never were, but being of his nature, they fell under the law of sin...In Adam, human nature fell ill and became subject to corruptibility through disobedience, and, therefore, the passions entered in."

The strong juridical character of Latin theology which led the West to the satisfaction theory of Anselm is absent from the Greek patristic tradition. In the East, the fall is understood to be a consequence of man's own withdrawal from divine life and the resulting weakness and disease of human nature. Thus, man himself is seen as the cause through his cooperation with the devil. In the West, all the evils in the world originate in the punitive divine will, and the devil himself is seen simply as God's instrument of punishment. The Greek Fathers look upon salvation from a biblical perspective and see it as redemption from death and corruptibility and as the healing of human nature which was assaulted by Satan. Therefore, they established the following principle as the touchstone of their christological teaching: "That which is not assumed is not healed, but that which is united to God is also saved." It is quite opposite in the West where salvation does not mean, first and foremost, salvation from death and corruptibility but from divine wrath. And the termination of the penalty of death and illnesses simply follows as a result of the satisfaction of divine justice. For the West, this is quite natural since, on the one hand, God is believed to punish all men with death while, on the other hand, it is man who provokes the punishment because he bears inherited guilt. Thus, according to the Western viewpoint, God did not become man in order "to abolish him who has the power of death," since it is God who is death's causative power, but to satisfy Himself to such a degree that He could look upon men with a somewhat more benevolent attitude and, at the Second Coming, lift the old death sentence from them.

The method of dealing with theological problems and their presuppositions is altogether different between the East and the West. The West's deluded cosmological conceptions permit the study of the divine essence by identifying it with the divine energy. Both analogia entis and analogia fidei are methods and presuppositions of the West's theology. All things in the world are simply the images in time of archetypes that exist eternally in the essence of the One. Therefore, in the Western view, the works of Satan that are found in the Holy Scriptures, in a certain sense, belong to God Who punishes man with death, corruptibility, and all of man's sufferings. Nevertheless, it is apparent that, in this manner, divine and satanic energies become dangerously confused. Precisely because the West perceives the world as an image of the divine essence, it is capable not only of distorting the biblical teaching about death and Satan but even of applying the analogia entis and the analogia fidei to the dogma of the Holy Trinity, thus introducing the teaching of the Filioque.

In determining the dogma of the fall, however, it is not simply a matter of searching in the Holy Scripture and in the Fathers for the appropriate passages that prove a preferred theory of the ancestral sin. First, the relations between God and creation must be determined according to the scriptural and patristic testimony. Is the world really an analogous copy of the ideas that exist eternally in the divine essence, as the Neo-platonists believed? In other words, can we accept the theory of Augustine and the Scholastics which says that God is creative, just, and prescient in His essence because He comprises the alleged archetypes of creation and the order among them, which constitute ingenerate, eternal, divine law? Can we accept that the creation ex nihilo, the creation from nothing preexistent, is simply a copy in time of the ingenerate archetype in the divine essence? And that sin and the fall are a temporal violation of the order in the archetypal ideas in the divine essence? Can we accept the acholastic identification of the divine essence with the uncreated divine energy yet reject the apparent pantheism, as the West does? Can we accept the West's sophism that God does not have direct and real relations with the world because this would mean that the divine essence has an essential dependence in relation to the world? And that God, therefore, has only indirect relations with the world because because He loves and knows the in its archetypes? Can we accept the idea that love of God for this world descends as a created thing, in other words, in the form of created grace, because a true divine love for the world would mean that God is dependent upon the world?

If, however, it is both by essence and energy, since these are said to be identical, that God knows the archetypes and truly loves only these directly, how does He have knowledge of evil or, at least, of the need to send His Son into the world for the salvation of fallen mankind? If God's essence, energy, being, will, knowledge, and omnipotence are all identical, what place does the creation ex nihilo have in this scheme? What place has the Holy Trinity? Was it the divine essence that received flesh from the Virgin? If God is truly actus purus yet He is also able to have knowledge of evil or of mankind's need of salvation, then the ideas of evil, need, the fall, and nonbeing must also be among the archetypes in the divine essence. It follows that the idea of evil must be of the same essence as the idea of goodness because, if it is separate or independent of it, the scholastic theory of divine omniscience falls apart--unless we accept that that evil does not exist and that the need for true salvation from evil is nothing more than an empty myth.

The confusing of the divine energy with the divine essence only leads to the introduction of some of predestination into Christian theology. This in fact happened with Augustine with the Anselmian redemptive theory, with Calvinism, and finally with liberal Protestant which generally inclines toward the acceptance of the nonexistence of evil and the final restoration or salvation of all.

A detailed examination of the scholastic and Protestant confusion of essence and energy of God is beyond the bounds of our subject. Nevertheless, we are required to examine certain aspects of it that relate to the problem of the ancestral sin. This will be done in connection with the necessary examination of some of the general characteristics of Greek philosophy that have a direct bearing on our subject and on the period in question. In this way, the overall similarity between the Western view of God's relation with the world and the view of Greek philosophy will become apparent. Likewise, the magnificence of the Greek Fathers will come to light all the more, especially their ability to transfer their forefathers' subtle and analytical thought from paganism to Chhristianity in order to fortify the evangelical faith instead of overtuning it as the West did.
Once we have determined what the relation is between God and the world according to the theologians of the period underexamination and have taken into account certain understandings of the Fathers about God, then we will be in a position to examine objectively the biblical patristic teaching regarding Satan, the destiny of man, justice, and the fall." [1]

[1] pages 33-38 from the book The Ancestral Sin by Fr. John Romanides, translation by George S. Gabriel

Interview with Fr. Hans Jacobse

This is from the Frederica Here and Now Podcast by Frederica Matthews Green

Play Audio

Outside the Church There Is No Salvation

As seen by the Faith and Philosophy podcast by Clark Carlton

Play Audio

Fr George Dragas: Lecture On The Incarnation

This is part 1 of a 7 part series:

Part 2:

An excellent article about Fr. John Romanides

As seen from the Mystagogy blog:

"One may discern by studying these pericopes, especially those of Saint Paul’s, that Fr. John had been collecting all the passages of the New Testament which refer to the neptic-hesychastic life of man as a precondition for his salvation. This work is the groundwork of his intention to support the view that the neptic-hesychastic tradition was indeed the way the Prophets, the Apostles and the Fathers lived. This study of the New Testament helped him later on to support his views against the Protestants when he had been appointed as Greece’s representative at their joint discussions.

Several times he told me that the Protestants are denying the teachings of the Fathers, cannot comprehend the conceptions of personhood, hypostasis, the essence or the energy of God. They regard these as examples of the influence of Greek philosophy which has corrupted apostolic tradition. He also mentioned to me that the prominent Protestant theologian Harnack was convinced that Orthodoxy is an idolatrous form of Christianity. Thus, when the Protestants were listening to Orthodox theologians using terms familiar within Greek philosophy, they would become upset, would not understand anything, and they would reject the entire teaching. Therefore, it was not easy for an Orthodox theologian to use terms used in patristic theology, because the Protestants could not understand such terminology.

This would make Fr. John to constantly use passages from the New Testament in his dialogues with the Protestants, especially passages from Saint Paul, in order to put them on the spot."

To read the rest please visit Mystagogy

The Concept of Divine Energies

As seen from The Preachers by David Bradshaw

"The change is illustrated by the career of Augustine, who tells us in the Confessions how much he detested Greek as a boy and how glad he was to put it behind him. His entire theological formation seems to have taken place without reference to the enormous body of Greek theological writing which was at that time the main repository of Christian thought. Although this absence no doubt aided the flowering of Augustine’s originality, it meant that the legacy he bestowed on the western church was remarkably disconnected from the earlier tradition.

Meanwhile the Greek tradition continued along its own path, almost wholly oblivious to the enormous importance that Augustine had attained in the West. No works of Augustine were translated into Greek until the thirteenth century, while only a few of the later Greek works—most famously, the Dionysian Corpus and the De Fide Orthodoxa of St. John of Damascus—were translated into Latin. Since these were read outside of their original context, however, they were often misunderstood, particularly at points where they are at odds with Augustine.

Thus the theology which influenced western philosophy was primarily that of Augustine and his Latin successors. One might think that with the recovery of Greek learning in the Renaissance this imbalance would have been corrected. By that time, however, a long succession of councils and popes had made it clear that western Christianity was and must remain fundamentally Augustinian."

To read the rest please visit

A great article!

How Many Books Does Your Bible Have?

This slide presentation was done by a Roman Catholic and so it's mostly in regards to the western tradition, but I thought it was decent. The Geneva Bible without the D.C.'s might have to be pushed back some decades.

The link:

Ancient Bible fragments reveal a forgotten history

The link:

"New research has uncovered a forgotten chapter in the history of the Bible, offering a rare glimpse of Byzantine Jewish life and culture.

The study by Cambridge University researchers suggests that, contrary to long-accepted views, Jews continued to use a Greek version of the Bible in synagogues for centuries longer than previously thought. In some places, the practice continued almost until living memory.

The key to the new discovery lay in manuscripts, some of them mere fragments, discovered in an old synagogue in Egypt and brought to Cambridge at the end of the 19th century. The so-called Cairo Genizah manuscripts have been housed ever since in Cambridge University Library.

Now, a fully searchable online corpus ( has gathered these manuscripts together, making the texts and analysis of them available to other scholars for the first time.

"The translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE is said to be one of the most lasting achievements of the Jewish civilization - without it, Christianity might not have spread as quickly and as successfully as it did," explained Nicholas de Lange, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies in the Faculties of Divinity and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, who led the three-year study to re-evaluate the story of the Greek Bible fragments.

To read the rest please visit the

The Greek Bible in Byzantine Judaism

The link:
Friday, January 7, 2011

We should use our own arguments

John S. Romanides, from his first preface to the Greek edition of The Ancestral Sin in 1957:
"It is unfortunate that Orthodox theologians often use Roman Catholic arguments against the Protestants and Protestant arguments against the Roman Catholics. The unavoidable result of this method of defense is an influence on Orthodox thought from both sides. The result is that some Orthodox appear to be "Roman Catholicizers" and others "Protestantizers." Thus, they are also regarded as conservative and liberal respectively.
The need to clarify the authentic Orthodox position with regard to Roman Catholics and Protestants is at last obvious to most of us. The Orthodox theologian must not counter Protestantism with Roman Catholic arguments but with the authentic teaching of the Fathers of the Church. Likewise, he must not counter Roman Catholicism with Protestant arguments but with the authentic spirit of the Greek Fathers.

Perhaps the most important theological problem faced by Orthodox theologians in America is the charge by Protestants that the orthodoxy of the Ecumenical Synods amounts to a corruption of the teaching of the primitive Church. The attempt by some Orthodox to respond to this charge with Roman Catholic arguments is doomed to failure at the outset because the characteristic views of medieval Roman Catholicism regarding the topics of this study are not found in the primitive Church. This is not at all difficult to demonstrate. In refuting a charge of this kind, however, the Orthodox cannot simply bring forth the opinions of the great Church Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. The charge, after all, alleges that the corruption of the Christian teaching took place prior to the major Fathers. Therefore, in confronting Protestantism, it must be demonstrated that the central teachings of the major Greek Fathers are essentially the same as the teachings of the primitive Church and constitute a mere continuation and explication of them. On the one hand, this study attempts to respond to this frequent charge by Protestants and, on the other, to present the basic differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism regarding the topics under discussion. [1]

[1] pages 13-14, from the book The Ancestral Sin by John S. Romanides, translated by George S. Gabriel; Zephyr Publishing 2008
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