21 November 2010

Predestination and Grace

A friend of mine posted here and here recently on the issue of Eastern Orthodoxy's stance on Predestination and Grace. Click through to read his full posts.

I find it hard to agree with him, but he puts things out for everyone to examine.

He quotes from a gathering of Eastern Patriarchs that issued a statement [though not a conciliar statement]. From this Synod came the Confession of Dositheus.

“We believe the most good God to have from eternity predestinated unto glory those whom He has chosen, and to have consigned unto condemnation those whom He has rejected; but not so that He would justify the one, and consign and condemn the other without cause.”“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 [or, prevenient] 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 requires as necessary to salvation, there is consequently granted particular grace.”“This grace co-operates with us, and enables us, and makes us to persevere 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 admonishes us that we should do, justifies us, and makes 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.”“We believe a man to be not simply justified through faith alone, but through faith which works through love, that is to say, through faith and works. But [the idea] that faith can fulfill the function of a hand that lays hold on the righteousness which is in Christ, and can then apply it unto us for salvation, we know to be far from all Orthodoxy. For faith so understood would be possible in all, and so none could miss salvation, which is obviously false. But on the contrary, we rather believe that it is not the correlative of faith, but the faith which is in us, justifies through works, with Christ.”“But to say, as the most wicked heretics do and as is contained in the Chapter [of Cyril's' Confession] to which this answers — that God, in predestinating, or condemning, did not consider in any way the works of those predestinated, or condemned, we know to be profane and impious.”

No one wants to be called a Heretic. Nobody likes it because it sounds like a denial of genuineness or scholarship or sincerity or that the said Heretic is not actually a Christian. I am reposting his stuff here because the ACNA has been challenged by the OCA, via His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, to eschew our Reformed Heresies. This will most likely be the very last one to drop...if it ever does.

I simply cannot read the Anglican Collects from the Book of Common Prayer without feeling the strong tap on the shoulder from Orthodoxy and Catholicism....Synergy!


Jared Nelson said...

It's amazing how little interaction with Scripture is in the "Orthodox" statement. Is one not allowed to object to a church asking, well then how can it be true that "he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

This is much like when I hear Baptists or low church Methodists and Presbyterians say "Baptism does not save" my response is not "ok, that's true because a church says so" but "how can you say that when Peter says the opposite in 1 Peter 3:21?"

So much of this confession uses language in a contrary way that Scriptures does, how can we merely sit back and say "Well, if the Orthodox call me a heretic, I better think about chucking my doctrine." It seems to come from a feeling of ecclesiastical inferiority rather than interaction with the teachings of the apostles and the fathers.

CMWoodall said...

"Might" become heirs?
I like that translation. It does not avoid the issue at all. The surrounding verses also clarify the expectation....
"V.1 be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work"..."V.8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men."