Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church

Expand Messages
  • randall hay
    In a nutshell, the fathers say that we are born without sin (as St Paul says, everything created by God is good ); we don t have guilt from what Adam did.
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 19, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      In a nutshell, the fathers say that we are born without sin (as St Paul says, "everything created by God is good"); we don't have guilt from what Adam did. However, we are born with the propensity to sin, which came from Adam, and quickly fall into our own sins. This is often referred to as the "ancestral curse."

      When I was a Lutheran my great doctrinal objection to Orthodoxy was that it is 'light on the severity sin,' but I found that I quite mistaken when I looked deeper.

      Even though we sin, we still bear the image of God; it's how He made us. He breathed Himself into our souls. Hence, we have a longing for Him, and bearing His image, as defiled as we are, we are able to turn ever-so-slightly toward Him.

      This doesn't mean we save ourselves, or have grounds for boasting! It just means that our souls retain the capacity for a slight motion toward Him. It's not our own doing; He gave us His image; we didn't give ourselves His image. (I emphasize this because previous correspondents seem to have that impression.)

      God gets all the credit for our salvation; He gave us His image, He brings us into His holy body in baptism; He gives us His body and blood in the Eucharist, forgiveness, and the capability to develop spiritually and grow closer to Him. Our cooperation is needed, certainly; but we are worthy of no credit.

      As babies get older and become children, adolescents and adults, they lose innocence; they develop "passions," habitual ingrained sins. Scripture discusses the passions (Greek 'pathe') in some detail, but most people don't know it because modern society has turned passions into alternative lifestyles. The fathers discuss the passions in great depth and detail, since getting rid of them is central in our spiritual lives.

      Babies are of course baptized in Orthodoxy, but we don't think of it legalistically; if the baby's parents hadn't got around to it God understands and won't damn him.

      Hope this helps---

      In Christ,

      Subdeacon Randy










      ________________________________
      From: oruaseht <oruaseht@...>
      To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 1:55:06 AM
      Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church





      This is a question I have about Anthropology in the mind of the Church.

      The Lutheran perspective of every human being born since Adam is that we have ancestral guilt and sin, and are born damnable sinners and enemies of God. Unless rescued from our spiritual "status" of death by faith/baptism, we are born damned to hell by God's righteous wrath and judgment on our sinful condition. We are completely depraved of any spiritual ability to choose God or make our dead selves alive and must completely depend on God's grace alone to be saved from sin. (The theological conclusion of this is the "crux theologorum" - why are some saved, whilst others aren't? [If salvation depends on sola gratia, then why doesn't God choose to save everyone?? Does this make God the author of evil?!?])

      In the mind of the Holy Orthodox Church, what is the natural born spiritual "status" of new born babies? Are people born naturally sin free, becoming tainted by sin later in life by committing actual sins via propensity to sin? (Is this how Christ our Lord, in His incarnation, takes on human flesh, without sin?) Are people born naturally in relationship with God - as natural born friends of God? Is this condition ever lost? If a baby dies without being joined to Christ in Holy Baptism, what is the Church's understanding of the dead baby's eternal life?

      This is an exceedingly deep topic, but I am looking for a succinct-as- possible nutshell response - if that is possible on this topic! Thanks so much in advance.




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • DonPedroGordo
        Dear Randall, Christ is risen!   It was a great moment of discovery for me, too, when the simple scriptural truth finally displaced other notions in my
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 19, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
         
        Dear Randall, Christ is risen!
         
        It was a great moment of discovery for me, too, when the simple scriptural truth finally displaced other notions in my head: We are at essence God's creation and therefore at essence good as He said.  No perversion, hurt, or other damage done to us or by us can erase this essential created worth. Through the blood of Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit we may each be washed clean, purified and ultimately restored. The devil, the world and our own flesh would deceive us, would mislead us to think this impossible. With Dietrich Bonhöffer we must see our own eventual death as the last great festival on the way to life, as the prerequisite to resurrection into the life in His Kingdom.
         

        --- On Sun, 4/19/09, randall hay <stortford@...> wrote:






        In a nutshell, the fathers say that we are born without sin (as St Paul says, "everything created by God is good"); we don't have guilt from what Adam did. However, we are born with the propensity to sin, which came from Adam, and quickly fall into our own sins. This is often referred to as the "ancestral curse."

        When I was a Lutheran my great doctrinal objection to Orthodoxy was that it is 'light on the severity sin,' but I found that I quite mistaken when I looked deeper.

        Even though we sin, we still bear the image of God; it's how He made us. He breathed Himself into our souls. Hence, we have a longing for Him, and bearing His image, as defiled as we are, we are able to turn ever-so-slightly toward Him.

        This doesn't mean we save ourselves, or have grounds for boasting! It just means that our souls retain the capacity for a slight motion toward Him. It's not our own doing; He gave us His image; we didn't give ourselves His image. (I emphasize this because previous correspondents seem to have that impression.)

        God gets all the credit for our salvation; He gave us His image, He brings us into His holy body in baptism; He gives us His body and blood in the Eucharist, forgiveness, and the capability to develop spiritually and grow closer to Him. Our cooperation is needed, certainly; but we are worthy of no credit...







        Recent Activity


         3
        New MembersVisit Your Group



        Give Back
        Yahoo! for Good
        Get inspired
        by a good cause.

        Y! Toolbar
        Get it Free!
        easy 1-click access
        to your groups.

        Yahoo! Groups
        Start a group
        in 3 easy steps.
        Connect with others.
        .


















        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • randall hay
        He is risen indeed! Glad to hear you went through this Orthodox thought process too. One thing I find related to total depravity is the issue of
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 19, 2009
        • 0 Attachment
          He is risen indeed! Glad to hear you went through this Orthodox thought process too.

          One thing I find related to "total depravity" is the issue of homosexuality, and gays saying they are born that way.

          Nonsense; we are not born totally depraved. We have the freedom to make ourselves quite depraved, but God didn't make us that way.






          ________________________________
          From: DonPedroGordo <donpedrogordo@...>
          To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 8:35:41 PM
          Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church






          Dear Randall, Christ is risen!

          It was a great moment of discovery for me, too, when the simple scriptural truth finally displaced other notions in my head: We are at essence God's creation and therefore at essence good as He said. No perversion, hurt, or other damage done to us or by us can erase this essential created worth. Through the blood of Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit we may each be washed clean, purified and ultimately restored. The devil, the world and our own flesh would deceive us, would mislead us to think this impossible. With Dietrich Bonhöffer we must see our own eventual death as the last great festival on the way to life, as the prerequisite to resurrection into the life in His Kingdom.


          --- On Sun, 4/19/09, randall hay <stortford@sbcglobal .net> wrote:

          In a nutshell, the fathers say that we are born without sin (as St Paul says, "everything created by God is good"); we don't have guilt from what Adam did. However, we are born with the propensity to sin, which came from Adam, and quickly fall into our own sins. This is often referred to as the "ancestral curse."

          When I was a Lutheran my great doctrinal objection to Orthodoxy was that it is 'light on the severity sin,' but I found that I quite mistaken when I looked deeper.

          Even though we sin, we still bear the image of God; it's how He made us. He breathed Himself into our souls. Hence, we have a longing for Him, and bearing His image, as defiled as we are, we are able to turn ever-so-slightly toward Him.

          This doesn't mean we save ourselves, or have grounds for boasting! It just means that our souls retain the capacity for a slight motion toward Him. It's not our own doing; He gave us His image; we didn't give ourselves His image. (I emphasize this because previous correspondents seem to have that impression.)

          God gets all the credit for our salvation; He gave us His image, He brings us into His holy body in baptism; He gives us His body and blood in the Eucharist, forgiveness, and the capability to develop spiritually and grow closer to Him. Our cooperation is needed, certainly; but we are worthy of no credit...

          Recent Activity

          3
          New MembersVisit Your Group

          Give Back
          Yahoo! for Good
          Get inspired
          by a good cause.

          Y! Toolbar
          Get it Free!
          easy 1-click access
          to your groups.

          Yahoo! Groups
          Start a group
          in 3 easy steps.
          Connect with others.
          .

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • oruaseht
          Hi Randy, thank you for your post and for sharing your experience about coming into the Orthodox Church. I am totally sold on almost all aspects of Orthodoxy,
          Message 4 of 8 , Apr 20, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            Hi Randy, thank you for your post and for sharing your experience about coming into the Orthodox Church. I am totally sold on almost all aspects of Orthodoxy, including the "touchy" issues for Protestants: Mary & Saints, hierarchical ecclesiology, icons, the state of the dead, sola stuff, etc. However, anthropology remains my flagship barrier issue (at this time) to entering the Orthodox Church.

            If I may respond:
            Do the Fathers (apart from Augustine) understand the essential goodness of human beings based on God's creative work alone? I'm sure you are aware of the Scripture references that indicate that while we are created as part of God's good creation, sin has altered that image and likeness (HEB Ps 51, Rom 3, Eph 2:5 "dead in trespasses", etc.) and made people the objects of God's wrath. (Mt 25:41-46, 2Th 1:6-10; 2:8). -- NOTE: I do not wish to argue a protestant theological position here. I would rather hear how the Church understands these passages in light of God's creative "good" work.

            My last item involves both the discussion of synergy and the spiritual ability of people.
            The cooperative aspect or synergy I can buy into because the Church doesn't understand this in the same legal/merit-based light that the West does. Salvation is relationship. Like any other human relationship, it's a two way street. We aren't earning salvation, we are walking with God in HIs salvation through the Sacramental life of the Church -- I hope I'm understanding this rightly.

            However, my big hang up is on the spiritual state of newborn people. The scriptures seem to indicate that people are born dead in trespasses and sins. If we are truly dead/cut off from God we are UNABLE (emphasis only) to turn to Him. I'm not so hung up on the "robbing God of His glory" argument against Orthodox anthropology as the "are we actually able to do this?" aspect.

            Randy, you mentioned that this changed for you as you came into the church, how did you come to terms with the Scriptures & ingrained "depravity" in Lutheran theology? I find the idea that God is merciful to unbaptized babies, but then changes His opinion later on as people age to be somewhat "fuzzy" and Baptist-ish. (age of accountability theology). I need much prayer on this aspect.

            Additionally, thank you all for your patience and comments. This has been a very trying time for me in my quest for the truth. God's richest blessings to you in this Paschal season. He is Risen indeed!
          • randall hay
            The fathers make a distinction between image and likeness based on the Septuagintal text of Genesis, which distinguishes the two (1:27). God s image is
            Message 5 of 8 , Apr 20, 2009
            • 0 Attachment
              The fathers make a distinction between "image" and "likeness" based on the Septuagintal text of Genesis, which distinguishes the two (1:27). God's image is always with us; it is indelible. His likeness is not indelible; it is what we are called to work toward with our own efforts....and so we can lose it.

              Any good in us comes from His image. The evil in us happens when we freely choose to conform ourselves to the wishes of the devil rather than God's likeness.

              The question of whether or not we bear Adam's guilt is immaterial, because we all sin so quickly. We can't go more than a few seconds without sinning, as I believe St Ambrose remarked. While babies have an innocence we lack, it's not because they're sinless; it's because sin hasn't become so rooted and habitual in them. (They don't have the "passions" yet.) This distinction is necessary in understanding what the fathers say.

              "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph. 2:10). Everything good in us comes from God. We deserve no credit; He made us this way. No, nothing good comes from our own miserable attempts at piety on our own. The core of Orthodox piety and the constant struggle of the spiritual life as we see it is to see more and more clearly that God deserves all the credit. We have to cooperate, but our own efforts are completely worthless without His assistance.

              As Kallistos Ware puts in in one of his books, when boiled down to a
              mathematical formula the credit for salvation goes 100% to God, 0% to
              us.

              The Scriptural statements of our depravity refer to our old man, which is indeed completely depraved.

              But we are not bound to that corpse. The astonishing works of St Paul, any of the apostles, prophets or holy people of Scripture show that we are able to move mountains if we let Him work in us. While none of us is likely to heal someone with the touch of our shadow, we do need to cooperate. This is synergy, which by the way is a Greek term straight from the NT....St Paul tells us in I Cor 3:9 that "we are God's synergists."

              "In" is the key word here; it is union with God that allows us to do anythign of value. He created us to work with Him. The fathers say, indeed, that the original work of man in before the fall was giving God's grace to creation.

              Babies are helpless to get to church and request baptism, and so God does not damn them if they die a sudden death...or if a person is a catechumen and dies before he has a chance to be baptized the same holds. The ancient period of catechesis was three years. If people of their free will reject baptism then they become accountable. God gives us means of salvation, grace and every heavenly gift; but He is not bound by them. Many martyrs never had time to be baptized, but their martrydom was accounted as baptism.

              My own view of depravity wasn't that hard to get over once I started reading the fathers and attending services....that made the Scriptures clear and eliminated false dichotomies from my thinking. It is impossible to see any softness on sin in Orthodoxy....or any softness on what we need to do as Christians. The dogmas, anthropology and everything are taught ceasely in the prayers of the church as well as the writings of the fathers...

              "I sought to understand, but this was toilsome in my sight, until I come into the sanctuary of God and understand," Ps 73:17. I think attending services is a vital part of the process of understanding the teaching of Christ's body; it is when we worship and adore Him that our minds are best able to apprend such things. I think most of us, like David in the psalm, find that to be so.

              GOd will richly reward your seeking Him---

              In Christ,

              R.









              ________________________________
              From: oruaseht <oruaseht@...>
              To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:44:29 AM
              Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church





              Hi Randy, thank you for your post and for sharing your experience about coming into the Orthodox Church. I am totally sold on almost all aspects of Orthodoxy, including the "touchy" issues for Protestants: Mary & Saints, hierarchical ecclesiology, icons, the state of the dead, sola stuff, etc. However, anthropology remains my flagship barrier issue (at this time) to entering the Orthodox Church.

              If I may respond:
              Do the Fathers (apart from Augustine) understand the essential goodness of human beings based on God's creative work alone? I'm sure you are aware of the Scripture references that indicate that while we are created as part of God's good creation, sin has altered that image and likeness (HEB Ps 51, Rom 3, Eph 2:5 "dead in trespasses", etc.) and made people the objects of God's wrath. (Mt 25:41-46, 2Th 1:6-10; 2:8). -- NOTE: I do not wish to argue a protestant theological position here. I would rather hear how the Church understands these passages in light of God's creative "good" work.

              My last item involves both the discussion of synergy and the spiritual ability of people.
              The cooperative aspect or synergy I can buy into because the Church doesn't understand this in the same legal/merit- based light that the West does. Salvation is relationship. Like any other human relationship, it's a two way street. We aren't earning salvation, we are walking with God in HIs salvation through the Sacramental life of the Church -- I hope I'm understanding this rightly.

              However, my big hang up is on the spiritual state of newborn people. The scriptures seem to indicate that people are born dead in trespasses and sins. If we are truly dead/cut off from God we are UNABLE (emphasis only) to turn to Him. I'm not so hung up on the "robbing God of His glory" argument against Orthodox anthropology as the "are we actually able to do this?" aspect.

              Randy, you mentioned that this changed for you as you came into the church, how did you come to terms with the Scriptures & ingrained "depravity" in Lutheran theology? I find the idea that God is merciful to unbaptized babies, but then changes His opinion later on as people age to be somewhat "fuzzy" and Baptist-ish. (age of accountability theology). I need much prayer on this aspect.

              Additionally, thank you all for your patience and comments. This has been a very trying time for me in my quest for the truth. God's richest blessings to you in this Paschal season. He is Risen indeed!





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • DonPedroGordo
              ...it s because sin hasn t become so rooted and habitual in [babies]. (They don t have the passions yet.)       There is a long history in Orthodox
              Message 6 of 8 , Apr 21, 2009
              • 0 Attachment
                "...it's because sin hasn't become so rooted and habitual in [babies]. (They don't have the "passions" yet.)"
                 
                    There is a long history in Orthodox spiritual literature of speaking of the passions entirely negatively...as only those bad passions.  But there is also a positive approach which sees the passions as our natural inherent desires for food, shelter, intimacy, curiosity, the desire to manage things and investigate things and all the rest of the urges that come with being alive, with being in the image of God.
                    In this understanding passions are themselves normal, God-created, inherent and in themselves neither sinful nor virtuous. In this perspective the problem understood is that we have fallen from the high state of the dominance of the spiritual over the fleshly, that in our life and experience the passions dominate, accelerate into incorrect measure, are in the driver's seat as it were.
                    Jesus experienced the passion of anger but sinned not...as He [blessed be His Name!] retained all that correct mastery of the spiritual over the flesh, allowing the anger in correct measure and at the opportune moment against what was wrong.  He experienced the despair of the cross, expressing the feeling of "My God, my God why has thou abandoned Me?" yet also without sin.  In general [not here addressing the issue of the advanced sanctity of those who have become holy for love of God] most of us will of necessity not become purified from this imbalance until we have undergone the transfiguration of death and resurrection.
                 
                Reader Peter
                 
                --- On Mon, 4/20/09, randall hay <stortford@...> wrote:


                From: randall hay <stortford@...>
                Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church
                To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
                Date: Monday, April 20, 2009, 11:59 PM








                The fathers make a distinction between "image" and "likeness" based on the Septuagintal text of Genesis, which distinguishes the two (1:27). God's image is always with us; it is indelible. His likeness is not indelible; it is what we are called to work toward with our own efforts....and so we can lose it.

                Any good in us comes from His image. The evil in us happens when we freely choose to conform ourselves to the wishes of the devil rather than God's likeness.

                The question of whether or not we bear Adam's guilt is immaterial, because we all sin so quickly. We can't go more than a few seconds without sinning, as I believe St Ambrose remarked. While babies have an innocence we lack, it's not because they're sinless; it's because sin hasn't become so rooted and habitual in them. (They don't have the "passions" yet.) This distinction is necessary in understanding what the fathers say.

                "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph. 2:10). Everything good in us comes from God. We deserve no credit; He made us this way. No, nothing good comes from our own miserable attempts at piety on our own. The core of Orthodox piety and the constant struggle of the spiritual life as we see it is to see more and more clearly that God deserves all the credit. We have to cooperate, but our own efforts are completely worthless without His assistance.

                As Kallistos Ware puts in in one of his books, when boiled down to a
                mathematical formula the credit for salvation goes 100% to God, 0% to
                us.

                The Scriptural statements of our depravity refer to our old man, which is indeed completely depraved.

                But we are not bound to that corpse. The astonishing works of St Paul, any of the apostles, prophets or holy people of Scripture show that we are able to move mountains if we let Him work in us. While none of us is likely to heal someone with the touch of our shadow, we do need to cooperate. This is synergy, which by the way is a Greek term straight from the NT....St Paul tells us in I Cor 3:9 that "we are God's synergists."

                "In" is the key word here; it is union with God that allows us to do anythign of value. He created us to work with Him. The fathers say, indeed, that the original work of man in before the fall was giving God's grace to creation.

                Babies are helpless to get to church and request baptism, and so God does not damn them if they die a sudden death...or if a person is a catechumen and dies before he has a chance to be baptized the same holds. The ancient period of catechesis was three years. If people of their free will reject baptism then they become accountable. God gives us means of salvation, grace and every heavenly gift; but He is not bound by them. Many martyrs never had time to be baptized, but their martrydom was accounted as baptism.

                My own view of depravity wasn't that hard to get over once I started reading the fathers and attending services.... that made the Scriptures clear and eliminated false dichotomies from my thinking. It is impossible to see any softness on sin in Orthodoxy... .or any softness on what we need to do as Christians. The dogmas, anthropology and everything are taught ceasely in the prayers of the church as well as the writings of the fathers...

                "I sought to understand, but this was toilsome in my sight, until I come into the sanctuary of God and understand," Ps 73:17. I think attending services is a vital part of the process of understanding the teaching of Christ's body; it is when we worship and adore Him that our minds are best able to apprend such things. I think most of us, like David in the psalm, find that to be so.

                GOd will richly reward your seeking Him---

                In Christ,

                R.

                ____________ _________ _________ __
                From: oruaseht <oruaseht@yahoo. com>
                To: LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com
                Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:44:29 AM
                Subject: [LutheransLookingEa st] Re: Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church

                Hi Randy, thank you for your post and for sharing your experience about coming into the Orthodox Church. I am totally sold on almost all aspects of Orthodoxy, including the "touchy" issues for Protestants: Mary & Saints, hierarchical ecclesiology, icons, the state of the dead, sola stuff, etc. However, anthropology remains my flagship barrier issue (at this time) to entering the Orthodox Church.

                If I may respond:
                Do the Fathers (apart from Augustine) understand the essential goodness of human beings based on God's creative work alone? I'm sure you are aware of the Scripture references that indicate that while we are created as part of God's good creation, sin has altered that image and likeness (HEB Ps 51, Rom 3, Eph 2:5 "dead in trespasses", etc.) and made people the objects of God's wrath. (Mt 25:41-46, 2Th 1:6-10; 2:8). -- NOTE: I do not wish to argue a protestant theological position here. I would rather hear how the Church understands these passages in light of God's creative "good" work.

                My last item involves both the discussion of synergy and the spiritual ability of people.
                The cooperative aspect or synergy I can buy into because the Church doesn't understand this in the same legal/merit- based light that the West does. Salvation is relationship. Like any other human relationship, it's a two way street. We aren't earning salvation, we are walking with God in HIs salvation through the Sacramental life of the Church -- I hope I'm understanding this rightly.

                However, my big hang up is on the spiritual state of newborn people. The scriptures seem to indicate that people are born dead in trespasses and sins. If we are truly dead/cut off from God we are UNABLE (emphasis only) to turn to Him. I'm not so hung up on the "robbing God of His glory" argument against Orthodox anthropology as the "are we actually able to do this?" aspect.

                Randy, you mentioned that this changed for you as you came into the church, how did you come to terms with the Scriptures & ingrained "depravity" in Lutheran theology? I find the idea that God is merciful to unbaptized babies, but then changes His opinion later on as people age to be somewhat "fuzzy" and Baptist-ish. (age of accountability theology). I need much prayer on this aspect.

                Additionally, thank you all for your patience and comments. This has been a very trying time for me in my quest for the truth. God's richest blessings to you in this Paschal season. He is Risen indeed!

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



















                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • randall hay
                That s true....our passions are meant to be directed toward God and holy things, but we get them, and our whole souls, directed in the wrong directions.
                Message 7 of 8 , Apr 21, 2009
                • 0 Attachment
                  That's true....our passions are meant to be directed toward God and holy things, but we get them, and our whole souls, directed in the wrong directions.




                  ________________________________
                  From: DonPedroGordo <donpedrogordo@...>
                  To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 6:54:22 AM
                  Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church







                  "...it's because sin hasn't become so rooted and habitual in [babies]. (They don't have the "passions" yet.)"

                  There is a long history in Orthodox spiritual literature of speaking of the passions entirely negatively.. .as only those bad passions. But there is also a positive approach which sees the passions as our natural inherent desires for food, shelter, intimacy, curiosity, the desire to manage things and investigate things and all the rest of the urges that come with being alive, with being in the image of God.
                  In this understanding passions are themselves normal, God-created, inherent and in themselves neither sinful nor virtuous. In this perspective the problem understood is that we have fallen from the high state of the dominance of the spiritual over the fleshly, that in our life and experience the passions dominate, accelerate into incorrect measure, are in the driver's seat as it were.
                  Jesus experienced the passion of anger but sinned not...as He [blessed be His Name!] retained all that correct mastery of the spiritual over the flesh, allowing the anger in correct measure and at the opportune moment against what was wrong. He experienced the despair of the cross, expressing the feeling of "My God, my God why has thou abandoned Me?" yet also without sin. In general [not here addressing the issue of the advanced sanctity of those who have become holy for love of God] most of us will of necessity not become purified from this imbalance until we have undergone the transfiguration of death and resurrection.

                  Reader Peter

                  --- On Mon, 4/20/09, randall hay <stortford@sbcglobal .net> wrote:

                  From: randall hay <stortford@sbcglobal .net>
                  Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEa st] Re: Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church
                  To: LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com
                  Date: Monday, April 20, 2009, 11:59 PM

                  The fathers make a distinction between "image" and "likeness" based on the Septuagintal text of Genesis, which distinguishes the two (1:27). God's image is always with us; it is indelible. His likeness is not indelible; it is what we are called to work toward with our own efforts....and so we can lose it.

                  Any good in us comes from His image. The evil in us happens when we freely choose to conform ourselves to the wishes of the devil rather than God's likeness.

                  The question of whether or not we bear Adam's guilt is immaterial, because we all sin so quickly. We can't go more than a few seconds without sinning, as I believe St Ambrose remarked. While babies have an innocence we lack, it's not because they're sinless; it's because sin hasn't become so rooted and habitual in them. (They don't have the "passions" yet.) This distinction is necessary in understanding what the fathers say.

                  "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph. 2:10). Everything good in us comes from God. We deserve no credit; He made us this way. No, nothing good comes from our own miserable attempts at piety on our own. The core of Orthodox piety and the constant struggle of the spiritual life as we see it is to see more and more clearly that God deserves all the credit. We have to cooperate, but our own efforts are completely worthless without His assistance.

                  As Kallistos Ware puts in in one of his books, when boiled down to a
                  mathematical formula the credit for salvation goes 100% to God, 0% to
                  us.

                  The Scriptural statements of our depravity refer to our old man, which is indeed completely depraved.

                  But we are not bound to that corpse. The astonishing works of St Paul, any of the apostles, prophets or holy people of Scripture show that we are able to move mountains if we let Him work in us. While none of us is likely to heal someone with the touch of our shadow, we do need to cooperate. This is synergy, which by the way is a Greek term straight from the NT....St Paul tells us in I Cor 3:9 that "we are God's synergists."

                  "In" is the key word here; it is union with God that allows us to do anythign of value. He created us to work with Him. The fathers say, indeed, that the original work of man in before the fall was giving God's grace to creation.

                  Babies are helpless to get to church and request baptism, and so God does not damn them if they die a sudden death...or if a person is a catechumen and dies before he has a chance to be baptized the same holds. The ancient period of catechesis was three years. If people of their free will reject baptism then they become accountable. God gives us means of salvation, grace and every heavenly gift; but He is not bound by them. Many martyrs never had time to be baptized, but their martrydom was accounted as baptism.

                  My own view of depravity wasn't that hard to get over once I started reading the fathers and attending services.... that made the Scriptures clear and eliminated false dichotomies from my thinking. It is impossible to see any softness on sin in Orthodoxy... .or any softness on what we need to do as Christians. The dogmas, anthropology and everything are taught ceasely in the prayers of the church as well as the writings of the fathers...

                  "I sought to understand, but this was toilsome in my sight, until I come into the sanctuary of God and understand," Ps 73:17. I think attending services is a vital part of the process of understanding the teaching of Christ's body; it is when we worship and adore Him that our minds are best able to apprend such things. I think most of us, like David in the psalm, find that to be so.

                  GOd will richly reward your seeking Him---

                  In Christ,

                  R.

                  ____________ _________ _________ __
                  From: oruaseht <oruaseht@yahoo. com>
                  To: LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com
                  Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:44:29 AM
                  Subject: [LutheransLookingEa st] Re: Spiritual "Status" in the Orthodox Church

                  Hi Randy, thank you for your post and for sharing your experience about coming into the Orthodox Church. I am totally sold on almost all aspects of Orthodoxy, including the "touchy" issues for Protestants: Mary & Saints, hierarchical ecclesiology, icons, the state of the dead, sola stuff, etc. However, anthropology remains my flagship barrier issue (at this time) to entering the Orthodox Church.

                  If I may respond:
                  Do the Fathers (apart from Augustine) understand the essential goodness of human beings based on God's creative work alone? I'm sure you are aware of the Scripture references that indicate that while we are created as part of God's good creation, sin has altered that image and likeness (HEB Ps 51, Rom 3, Eph 2:5 "dead in trespasses", etc.) and made people the objects of God's wrath. (Mt 25:41-46, 2Th 1:6-10; 2:8). -- NOTE: I do not wish to argue a protestant theological position here. I would rather hear how the Church understands these passages in light of God's creative "good" work.

                  My last item involves both the discussion of synergy and the spiritual ability of people.
                  The cooperative aspect or synergy I can buy into because the Church doesn't understand this in the same legal/merit- based light that the West does. Salvation is relationship. Like any other human relationship, it's a two way street. We aren't earning salvation, we are walking with God in HIs salvation through the Sacramental life of the Church -- I hope I'm understanding this rightly.

                  However, my big hang up is on the spiritual state of newborn people. The scriptures seem to indicate that people are born dead in trespasses and sins. If we are truly dead/cut off from God we are UNABLE (emphasis only) to turn to Him. I'm not so hung up on the "robbing God of His glory" argument against Orthodox anthropology as the "are we actually able to do this?" aspect.

                  Randy, you mentioned that this changed for you as you came into the church, how did you come to terms with the Scriptures & ingrained "depravity" in Lutheran theology? I find the idea that God is merciful to unbaptized babies, but then changes His opinion later on as people age to be somewhat "fuzzy" and Baptist-ish. (age of accountability theology). I need much prayer on this aspect.

                  Additionally, thank you all for your patience and comments. This has been a very trying time for me in my quest for the truth. God's richest blessings to you in this Paschal season. He is Risen indeed!

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.