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Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Incarnation

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  • Jeremy Finck
    First, I want to thank *everyone* who has been contributing to this discussion. This discussion has clarified my understanding of some issues which I have
    Message 1 of 33 , Jun 19, 2010
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      First, I want to thank *everyone* who has been contributing to this
      discussion. This discussion has clarified my understanding of some issues
      which I have been studying in much greater detail since my conversion to
      Orthodoxy began. I also noticed a similar dichotomy or apparent dichotomy
      (whichever it is) between "popular" Confessional Lutheranism and what the
      Confessions actually appear to be saying. And that was causing me much
      confusion, to say the least. It has made discussions very difficult with my
      Lutheran family (who strongly claim a "Confessional" identity). So thank you
      everyone for offering so much of the clarification I have been seeking on
      issues that I have had great difficulty discussing with my Lutheran family!

      Secondly, @ Benjamin:

      *the issue at hand... lies in the area of the fallen will.*

      *

      I strongly agree. I would like to see a similarly hearty discussion which
      compares and contrasts Orthodoxy's and Lutheranism's (per the FC) respective
      understandings of the human will (as it relates to sin and salvation) in
      light of the Incarnation. This is another area of VERY murky waters in my
      discussions with Lutherans.*
      *
      *
      I am developing a much greater and deeper appreciation for the importance of
      many of the finer nuances of dogma and doctrine on both sides through this
      group! Thank you all so much for your contributions! :-)

      *At the risk of sounding redundant: I am enthralled with direction and
      content of this conversation. I only wish I had more time to participate.
      *


      Glory to Jesus Christ!


      Jeremy




      On Sat, Jun 19, 2010 at 4:30 PM, Benjamin Harju <benjamin.harju@...>wrote:

      >
      >
      > From what I learned and researched as a Lutheran, that's exactly spot
      > on. As far as Lutheran theology being fairly represented, that is as
      > fair as it gets. The issue in the Lutheran Confessions regarding
      > inherited sin is always corruption of what God made good. In the
      > context of our conversation here, though, the issue is not about man's
      > depravity, but his *total* depravity, a term that reflects Calvinistic
      > teachings. To say that the nature that is entirely corrupted is
      > actually Totally Depraved is to mix specific terminology from the
      > Calvinist camp into the Lutheran camp, which may confuse the issue.
      >
      > Someone has hinted to me that the issue at hand - is Total Depravity
      > really a Lutheran doctrine? - lies in the area of the fallen will.
      >
      > In Christ,
      > Benjamin Harju
      >
      >
      > On 6/18/10, Oruaseht <oruaseht@... <oruaseht%40yahoo.com>> wrote:
      > > Cipher me this, theologians. I just posed this question of the FC 1 on
      > > Original Sin to a stalwart Confessional Lutheran who is steeped in the
      > > Fathers and Church History. After some back and forth comments he posed
      > me
      > > this:
      > > -------------------
      > > I just peeked at FC I (Epitome) to double check what it is that you are
      > > getting snagged on. I think I see what it is - Article I of the FC deals
      > > with an important distinction that emerged because of philosophical
      > > terminology. In no way does the article deny the depravity of humanity
      > (ie:
      > > that we are somehow born sinless) but tries to distinguish between the
      > > Aristotelian categories of 'substance' (aka 'nature') and 'accidens' (ie:
      > > properties) as it relates to the integrity of God's good creation & the
      > > equally present corruption due to original sin. The point of the article
      > is
      > > not to divide the two as though humanity could be diced into parts to
      > point
      > > out that crumb A is sinful and crumb B is not. The point is to
      > distinguish
      > > between the goodness of creation & the very real corruption of original
      > sin
      > > into which we are all born. We are emphatically NOT born sinless
      > > (affirmative thesis 3 & the negative theses as well) - but rather - we
      > are
      > > born caught within a contradictory state of being (by substance/nature) a
      > > good creation of God - yet at the same time thoroughly corrupted (in
      > > accidens & powers) by original sin.
      > >
      > > The distinction is a philosophical one that should not (as the confessors
      > > write) be imposed upon the consciences of the lait y - at the same time,
      > > when we look at the general confession of sins - the terminology there is
      > > not intended to be understood within these philosophical categories -
      > rather
      > > it is to reflect the reality that we are thoroughly tainted by sin &
      > > therefore cannot free ourselves - which is true - as difficult a pill it
      > is
      > > to swallow.
      > >
      > > The doctrine of depravity/original sin - is really also a corrolaray of
      > the
      > > totality of the incarnation too - for accorining to Gregory Nazianzus'
      > > statement "that which is not assumed is likewise not healed" really
      > points
      > > to the depth of our fallenness - for there is nothing within us that weas
      > > not assumed by Christ in the incarnation - therefore, the totality of our
      > > human nature was impacted by original sin and therefore needed
      > redemption.
      > >
      > > The Confessions thus teach that creation IS good - but also thoroughly
      > > corrupted on account of the Fall. Thus we need a real saviour -
      > > -----------
      > >
      > > Any Orthodox comments would be appreciated on this message. I don't get
      > how
      > > the FC can say what it "seems" to say (humanity still is born pure, holy,
      > > sinless, etc.) and we still believe *basically* Calvin's total depravity
      > as
      > > alluded to in this post.
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Benjamin Harju
      Regarding the Romans 5:12 comment from the Orthodox Study Bible: How do you think this contradicts your previous post? The commentary from the OSB says that
      Message 33 of 33 , Jun 21, 2010
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        Regarding the Romans 5:12 comment from the Orthodox Study Bible:

        How do you think this contradicts your previous post? The commentary
        from the OSB says that 1) Adam and Eve sinned, 2) this introduced
        death, 3) this death passed to all men [read death as
        mortality/corrupting agent], 4) from this condition of
        death/corruption all men sin. 5) All men bear guilt only for their
        own sins, not Adam's sin.

        Is this not what we've been saying is the Orthodox teaching? Death is
        passed on, not original guilt, but the corruption of mortality which
        finds its origin in Adam's original sin.

        Regarding Fr. Meyendorff's work "Byzantine Theology" I have found an
        online selection of excerpts from this work at

        http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/byzantine_theology_j_meyendorf.htm.

        I include the following relevant portion here:

        The scriptural text, which played a decisive role in the polemics
        between Augustine and the Pelagians, is found in Romans 5:12 where
        Paul speaking of Adam writes, "As sin came into the world through one
        man and through sin and death, so death spreads to all men because all
        men have sinned [eph ho pantes hemarton]" In this passage there is a
        major issue of translation. The last four Greek words were translated
        in Latin as in quo omnes peccaverunt ("in whom [i.e., in Adam] all men
        have sinned"), and this translation was used in the West to justify
        the doctrine of guilt inherited from Adam and spread to his
        descendants. But such a meaning cannot be drawn from the original
        Greek — the text read, of course, by the Byzantines. The form eph ho —
        a contraction of epi with the relative pronoun ho — can be translated
        as "because," a meaning accepted by most modern scholars of all
        confessional backgrounds.22 Such a translation renders Paul’s thought
        to mean that death, which is "the wages of sin" (Rm 6:23) for Adam, is
        also the punishment applied to those who like him sin. It presupposed
        a cosmic significance of the sin of Adam, but did not say that his
        descendants are "guilty" as he was unless they also sinned as he did.

        A number of Byzantine authors, including Photius, understood the eph
        ho to mean "because" and saw nothing in the Pauline text beyond a
        moral similarity between Adam and other sinners in death being the
        normal retribution for sin. But there is also the consensus of the
        majority of Eastern Fathers, who interpret Romans 5:12 in close
        connection with 1 Corinthians 15:22 — between Adam and his descendants
        there is a solidarity in death just as there is a solidarity in life
        between the risen Lord and the baptized. This interpretation comes
        obviously from the literal, grammatical meaning of Romans 5:12. Eph
        ho, if it means "because," is a neuter pronoun; but it can also be
        masculine referring to the immediately preceding substantive thanatos
        ("death"). The sentence then may have a meaning, which seems
        improbable to a reader trained in Augustine, but which is indeed the
        meaning which most Greek Fathers accepted: "As sin came into the world
        through one man and death through sin, so death spread to all men; and
        because of death, all men have sinned..."

        Mortality, or "corruption," or simply death (understood in a
        personalized sense), has indeed been viewed since Christian antiquity
        as a cosmic disease, which holds humanity under its sway, both
        spiritually and physically, and is controlled by the one who is "the
        murderer from the beginning" (Jn 8:44). It is this death, which makes
        sin inevitable and in this sense "corrupts" nature.

        I hope this helps. Btw, the site linked above is well worth the time
        to read it.

        In Christ,
        Benjamin Harju


        --
        Oruaseht wrote:
        Further, a point in the Orthodox Study Bible says this on 5:12 -

        " For Adam and Eve, sin came first, and this led to death. This death
        then spread to all men. The rest of humanity inherits death, and then
        in our mortal state, we all sin. Thus, all mankind suffers the
        consequences of Adam's "original sin." However, the Orthodox Church
        rejects any teaching that would assign guilt to all mankind for Adam's
        sin. We indeed suffer the consequences of others' sins, but we carry
        guilt only for our own sins. "

        This basically contradicts what I originally posted (and by extension,
        1 Cor 15:56) about how the Orthodox view the progression of sin/death
        (or death/sin) in the Garden. However, maybe there is something I'm
        missing. Perhaps the mind of the Church could further illuminate us on
        this passage.
        --

        On 6/21/10, Oruaseht <oruaseht@...> wrote:
        > I agree that the next step in our discussion is a thorough study of the
        > differences in Lutheran and Orthodox fallen/free will understanding.
        >
        > However, before that jump, I need to clarify some of my Confessional
        > friend's comments here.
        >
        > In the FC, we have it said that God made and still makes people holy, pure,
        > and sinless. Yet, people are so "thoroughly corrupted" by sin that for all
        > intents and purposes, Lutherans believe in *total depravity* (true, a
        > Calvinist distinction, but essentially, Lutherans believe it to be true -
        > explanation of the third article Apostles' Creed in the Small Catechism). Is
        > there then, within the Confessions, a contradiction, theological smudge on
        > this issue? Or is what my friend said correct? Humanity on this side of
        > heaven is a paradox of good and corruption that renders us *totally
        > depraved*?
        >
        > Is this just simply a concern about semantics (Lutherans using Calvinist
        > terms, fogging the issue) or are the Confessions wrong?
        >
        > --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, Benjamin Harju
        > <benjamin.harju@...> wrote:
        >>
        >> From what I learned and researched as a Lutheran, that's exactly spot
        >> on. As far as Lutheran theology being fairly represented, that is as
        >> fair as it gets. The issue in the Lutheran Confessions regarding
        >> inherited sin is always corruption of what God made good. In the
        >> context of our conversation here, though, the issue is not about man's
        >> depravity, but his *total* depravity, a term that reflects Calvinistic
        >> teachings. To say that the nature that is entirely corrupted is
        >> actually Totally Depraved is to mix specific terminology from the
        >> Calvinist camp into the Lutheran camp, which may confuse the issue.
        >>
        >> Someone has hinted to me that the issue at hand - is Total Depravity
        >> really a Lutheran doctrine? - lies in the area of the fallen will.
        >>
        >> In Christ,
        >> Benjamin Harju
        >
        >
        >
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