> I'm dialoging with my sharp Lutheran friend about some differences between
> Lutherans and Orthodox concerning salvation and was wondering, if you have
> time, if you could critique my response, as well as add any additional
> thoughts concerning the topic.
> - J
Above is a request I received and thought it best to pass on to the eminent
and wise members of the list for comment.
Some background to this dialogue between J and N is given, in chronological
order, ending with the response J has asked for a critique of. Any and all
(constructive, polite) comments are welcome.
Blessed Nativity to all!
> On examining these definitions one things is clear: none of them clearly
> defines those with whom Basil is dealing as against 'ordinary Christians',
> as the word 'monk' does today. Certain texts imply a boundary, but the main
> boundary, as in Longer Rule 32 on the parents of brothers, is between those
> who live *'kata theon'*, who are devout, and the worldly. In the
> Asceticon, composed over two or three decades, we can see various situations
> and a gradual development of institutions and hardening of boundaries, but
> Basil's ascetic teaching, which was also given in all its rigour in Homilies
> addressed to wider audiences, was addressed to *all *Christians. It was
> only in the context of later developments that the Asceticon came to be seen
> as a purely *monastic* document.
> - Augustine Holmes OSB. *A Life Pleasing to God. The Spirituality of the
> Rules of St Basil*<http://eighthdaybooks.com/cgi-bin/ccp51/cp-app.cgi?usr=51H7080084&rnd=9791669&rrc=N&affl=&cip=184.108.40.206&act=&aff=&pg=prod&ref=1558&cat=athletesofprayer&catstr=HOME:athletesofprayer>.
> London, DLT, 2000.54
> "Longer Rule 32 on the parents of brothers, is between those who live 'kata
> theon', who are devout, and the worldly."
> What do the distinctions "devout" and "worldy" signify, do you think? Does
> Basil define these?
> - N
*#3 (the response)*
I'm not sure. The book looks interesting and I found out that the Luther
Seminary library has a copy of the book, so I'll have to page through it
after the holidays.
These are some 'unofficial thoughts' I have rolling around in my head
concerning some differences between Lutherans and Orthodoxy, as I see it.
Lutherans drive a false wedge into Orthodox spirituality when they try and
differentiate between salvation as gift, and salvation as task. Or in other
words, Lutherans seem highly uncomfortable with the idea that our salvation
is an ascetical struggle, and hence they never mention it, or if they do it
they always qualify it in such "Lutheran sounding" terms. To the Orthodox
though such a concept isn't a contradiction nor is it in any way a
detraction from the grace of God found in Christ. This is always important
when reading Orthodox literature on salvation.
As I've mentioned before, in all my surface reading of Orthodox literature
I've never once sensed that they teach salvation by works. They certainly
teach that salvation is a gift, but a gift that one enters into and lives.
Orthodoxy knows no such thing as "passive righteousness" rather they speak
of an active faith that constantly repents and looks to God for mercy (which
is to be found in Christ), but is also vigilant against sin, watchful
against Satan and his wiles, and prayerful to the end. This to the Orthodox
is our salvation--salvation as a process, rather than a one-time 'verdict'
offered in legal terms.
Another distinction that never really hits the Orthodox radar is the legal,
forensic metaphors of the West. Rather than seeing God as the Legal Judge,
Orthodoxy tends to look at God as the Divine Physician who heals and repairs
our broken, sinful nature. Or to restate the analogies that you've heard
before: the Church is seen as a hospital, not a courtroom.
Finally, a former Lutheran, once commented to someone (not me) on his blog
that Lutherans seem to think of salvation in terms of perfection (which
again, would fit the legal, courtroom metaphors), while the Orthodox think
of salvation in terms of repentance. I found this insight and distinction
helpful and I believe accurate. In the Jesus Prayer and Psalm 51 (and
Luther's final words, "we are all just beggars") the person who finds
salvation is the one who cries out for mercy--who repents and looks to
Someone other than themselves (including their works)--and then finds it
because God is a God of love and mercy, as witnessed by the Holy Trinity and
the drama of redemption found in Israel and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
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