1850Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Introduction
- Sep 10, 2012It sure is nice to see things gearing up for discussion again! I have always enjoyed such posts, because the group is into real discussion, rather than attacking.
Pastor Futrell's reservations about Orthodoxy reflect that of many correspondents, and my own before we converted 14 years ago...so I will try to put the matter in a nutshell:
The Lutheran Confessions, which I believe follow Rome, see the image of God within us to be right use of the free will; a godly life. With this definition, we have completely lost the image of God, since none of us is sinless. Since we no longer bear His image, we are unable to have any movement of the will toward Him.
Orthodoxy, contrariwise, sees the image of God to be indelible. It is defined in various ways, such as having dominion over creation; having a free will; having an immaterial, immortal soul giving life to a material body; having reason; the capacity for love, etc.
Using definitions such as these, we have not lost the image of God...and so everyone has an inclination toward Him of some sort, no matter how weak or distorted.
Hence, when St Paul preaches to the Athenian pagans in Acts 17, he quotes pagan poets:
'"In him we live and move and have our being"; as even some of your poets have said, "For we are indeed His offspring."'
Why would pagan poets know anything about God, if His image was obliterated in them, and they were unable to have any desire or will for Him?
'He made...every nation of men...that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him.'
How could God hope that Gentiles would seek Him, if they were incapable of it?
'From Him and through Him and to Him are all things," Rom 11:36.
'All things were created in Him, through Him and for Him,' Col. 1:17
These verses that indicate that all of creation, including man, are created with an orientation toward God. The image seeks the One it is an image of.
It is important to note that God put His image within us. We didn't put it in ourselves!! How could we ever do that? Because God created us that way, we get no credit or grounds for boasting if our will is capable of a slight movement toward God.
>________________________________[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> From: Richard K. Futrell <PastorFutrell@...>
>Sent: Monday, September 10, 2012 2:07 PM
>Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Introduction
>This group is full of converts from Lutheranism to Eastern
>Orthodoxy. I have especially found Deacon Benjamin Harju to be a
>thoughtful and well-spoken convert. There are others also in whom you
>I am a Lutheran and have no plans to “swim the Bosphorus.” With
>you, I lament what Lutheranism has become. We have strayed very far
>from where we started and what we (that is, Lutherans) profess to
>believe and practice.
>So, why is it that I am still Lutheran? Simply it is this: Eastern
>Orthodoxy sees mankind as imbued with God’s grace--even in our
>falleness--which enables him to respond to God’s grace. As I see it,
>that, in the end, turns the powerful Word of God into simply an offer.
>I believe it to be scriptural that we are utterly helpless in our
>fallenness until God comes along through the power of the Word to
>breathe into us the breath of spiritual life.
>What you will find within Eastern Orthodoxy is a profound
>understanding of our divine union with Christ, which they call
>“Theosis.” This was also part of the Reformational Lutheran
>understanding, which we called the “mystical union.” Sadly, we
>have lost much of this and have largely only seen salvation in forensic
>terms—that God declares us righteous and so we are. Forensic
>justification is Scriptural, but scripture also describes salvation in
>many different way: ransomed, healed, rescued, restored, etc. When we
>(or anyone) largely focus on one, we lose the fullness of what it means
>to be saved.
>Eastern Orthodoxy sees theosis as salvation; Lutherans see it as a
>result of salvation. Also, within Eastern Orthodoxy, they don’t
>change and mess around with the liturgy. Lutherans are supposed to be
>that way, only making changes because the purity of the Gospel would
>demand such changes. But, alas, Lutherans have become the wild west of
>liturgical freedom and abuse.
>So, I find myself in a Church that has a good paper confession but
>does not live it out. You will find Eastern Orthodoxy more of a Church
>without a confession, in that, it has a living tradition that continues
>to this day. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. I pray that
>you find peace and Jesus Christ in whichever Communion you find is
>truest to the Scriptures.
>Many former Lutherans have "gone East," and, unlike some, I do not
>see them as forsaking their salvation. Maria, in short, where will you
>best find Jesus Christ and Him crucified? If you find Him better in
>Eastern Orthodoxy because Lutheranism has so strayed and bought into
>the nonsense of modern-day Protestantism, I wish you well. If you find
>Him better in a Lutheran Church that is truly Lutheran, I also wish you
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