Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: "Third Function/Use" of the Law & Orthodoxy
- I've been giving though to this post, though logistics have prevented my responding sooner.
Remember that we believe salvation is completely by the grace of God, too...period, period, period. No, we don't rely on works. In fact, in the evening prayers prescribed for the faithful we pray that He grant us "a begining of good works" every night till we die.
I think the difference here is what to do when a spiritual challenge socks you on the forehead, as they seem to do so frequently.
We do not run to the fact that Jesus died for us. He died for Judas Iscariot, too, and a fat lot of good that did him.
Instead, we run to confess our sins to a priest, receive the body and blood of Christ, and get back to the trenches. "Be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, and you will never fall," II Pet 1:10.
We humans need that strengthening from God. Mentally repeating some spiritual fact just doesn't cut it as the demons attack us day after day.
We may need to confess weekly, or even more often. There is no substitute for that relief as the demons try do destroy us. This is where Jesus's dying for us really brings such refreshment. That refreshment is not some "enthusiast" longing for emotion....Scripture explicitly says that where there is true forgiveness there is no longer any consciousness of sin (Heb 10:2). If mentally confessing to God were enough, it would bring that same relief, and you wouldn't have to do mental gymnastics to feel forgiven.
The effect of Eucharist is something you feel on a very deep level with our spirituality. Preparation includes serious prayer (the longest set takes over an hour), a public service that is not rushed and has repeated lengthy petitions...since Comunion is not just a mental happening but involves the whole being, we include fasting from the night before and bows, the sign of the cross, etc. We treat His actual Body and Blood with great reverence; if any accidentally falls on the floor the priest consumes it off the floor and the remainder is burnt. If it fall on carpe, the carpet is cut away and burned...it would be greatly impious to walk all over Christ's own body and blood. (That's why we usually receive Communion over a hard floor, or a small rug.)
I don't want to step on any toes, so I'll note here that I'm speaking for myself. A shot-glass and wafer every two weeks simply just didn't cut it for me, especially when any of His Body and Blood left over were poured into a wine bottle, preparation consisted of an optional "I know I'm a sinner and I know He forgives me" self-statement and three sentences of prayers from the front of the hymnal.
What I found was that my Lutheran habit of always reverting to telling myself "it's OK, Jesus died for me" was a ticket to getting nowhere.
I feel like I'm forgetting a lot, but perhaps this will help anyhow--
From: Oruaseht <oruaseht@...>
Sent: Mon, November 2, 2009 8:37:17 AM
Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: "Third Function/Use" of the Law & Orthodoxy
These are fascinating insights, especially Fr. Damick's words: "[Salvation] is a dynamic relationship, not a static status."
Lutheranism' s Justification by Grace through Faith rests completely on the legal "declaration" from God that Jesus has suffered our punishment for us. It is the "status" of being declared "not-guilty. " It is completely status based. I'm either guilty or declared not guilty. It is trendy to talk about Salvation/Faith as a "relationship with God" -- I do it every week in my sermons! But if we truly understand that Salvation is a relational thing, it is only in tact as long as the relationship is. We can & do abandon God and hide from Him in our sin all the time. This is why the Lutheran status thing is so comforting to consciences that are troubled. There is complete assurance of God's favor not dependent on human effort (in deed introducing human contribution only adds uncertainty to it). But this is still in the Roman category of merit & salvation as "getting into heaven." The Orthodox perspective on knowing God and growing in relationship with Christ
is such a more full understanding of "Life" in Christ.
I think the point made earlier that we can and do "know" we have salvation *right now* is the key. The dynamic relationship is in flux - not so much from God as ourselves. Repentance keeps us in the relationship and keeps it "healthy" -- just like any other human relationship we have! There is no room for Roman "score cards."
I struggle very much with this as I am a dirty rotten sinner who wants to keep score!
--- In LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com, Rosemarie Lieffring <rose.lieffring@ ...> wrote:
> Philip Cary does a nice lecture series with the Teaching Company on Martin
> Luther. In that series he points out that the notion of epistemological
> certainty with regard to salvation was actually "new" with Luther. Prior to
> Martin Luther knowing with absolute certainty that one will be saved never
> really was a component of Christianity. Salvation in Christianity was our
> blessed hope...not a confirmed certainty. And it is our hope, not our
> certainty, for several reasons not the least of which include the
> possibility of falling away from the faith and rejecting God before our life
> ends. This is why we pray each liturgy and in other prayers for a
> "Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful; and a good
> defense before the dread Judgement Seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord."
> Lutherans also believe one can choose to reject God at some point in time,
> even after Baptism--so I think that pretty much neutralizes any real notion
> of absolute certainty. Plus, it is inappropriate for us to judge for
> God--it is not our place to say whether we are saved or not.
> Father Andrew Damick, a convert from an Evangelical missionary family now
> Orthodox priest, put it this way:
> ""Describing this as hope does not lead to a life of anxiety, wondering
> whether we can every really "know" whether we are "in" or "out". It is much
> more like being married--it is always changing and evolving, but built on a
> certain foundation. There is always the possibility for greater depth and
> unity but also for dissolution and separation. It is a dynamic relationship,
> not a static status."
> For a Lutheran this notion of certainty is foundational. ..which is why in
> return for the Orthodox explanations we will get "how can I know if I do
> enough?"...but honestly, I think that is a bit of a strawman. (I don't
> think you, Oruaseht, present this as a strawman...just in general when this
> argument is brought up.) We are talking about a relationship and not a
> score card. Hope...trust. ..these are the things of Love. We have a God who
> loves us, in whom we bear His image and likeness, we can trust Him.-----R
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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This is my first time posting anything, so forgive me if I mess anything up.
Re Predestination/Election etc, readers may find useful Ben Witherington's "The Problem with Evangelical Theology", which has a few detailed chapters on predestination/grace/election. He hits Calvinism pretty hard, Lutheranism to a degree, and while he is Protestant, his analysis of those topics seem to be rather Eastern.
Also, the excellent work by Dr. Farrell, "Free Choice in St. Maximus the Confessor" is, if you can find it, a gem of a read on these topics.
"Salvation in Christ: A Lutheran Orthodox Dialogue" addresses these issues, too. And you can find it for under a buck online.
Yours in Him,
--- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, randall hay <stortford@...> wrote:
> Hi. I've been giving more thought to the role of free will in salvation, which was the biggest hurdle for me coming into Orthodoxy, and seems to be a biggee for many Lutherans. Are we completely depraved, dead in the water till He makes the first move?
> Yesterday I came across the clearest statement I've found, which seems to tie things up in wonderful patristic depth and clarity, including the concept of synergy. I've read this work--a classic since it was written in the 8th centure--twice before, but never noticed it (duh).
> FROM EXACT EXPOSITION OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH BY ST. JOHN OF DAMASCUS (+ 750)
> Bear in mind, too, that virtue is a gift from God implanted in our nature, and that He Himself is the source and cause of all good, and without His co-operation (Gk synergia) and help we cannot will or do any good thing. But we have it in our power either to abide in virtue and follow God, Who calls us into ways of virtue, or to stray from paths of virtue, which is to dwell in wickedness...
> While then we abide in the natural state we abide in virtue, but when we deviate from the natural state...we come into an unnatural state and dwell in wickedness.
> (II.30 [NPNF pp. 42-3; PG 44])
> Thus, being able to incline in some slight way toward God of one's own free will isn't to claim one's own righteousness apart from God. GOD PUT THAT IN OUR NATURE. WE GET NO CREDIT. HE IS GOOD AND HE MADE US GOOD. Virtue is natural for His human creatures because He made us in His image. Sin is unnatural.
> Yes, we've bungled things to an extraordinary degree; and as St John points out here, we can't even will a good work, much less complete it, without Him. The ancestral curse afflicts us all, and we choose the unnatural and irrational life of sin throughout our lives.
> However, since He made us in His image to live a life of virtue, it's imperative that we do our best to do that.
> The New Testament is written in such a way to reflect this...the grace of God and our path (Law and Gospel, if you will) are constantly intermixed.
> Hope this helps---
> Subdeacon R.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]