Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: St. John Chrysostom on Salvation by Faith Alone?
- I would say Anastasia wrote a wonderful paragraph about how we are
saved only by grace....in mathematical terms, to quote Bp Kallistos
Ware, we contribute 0%. In his commentary on Romans, St. John
Chrysostom puts it beautifully: "To give thee the crown in His; to it
is thine to hold it fast when it is given." (Homily 13, p. 433.
Please note that the website has an index to find the passage from a
page in the actual book.)
However, that being said, why isn't everybody saved? Not because of
whimsical predestination. Rather, God foresees those whose will has a little
spark to follow Him. Yes, the Orthodox believe in free will...when
Jesus took a complete human nature, He made its will (along with
everything else human) capable of conforming itself to God.
Hence "predestination" is based on foreknowledge of what our free
wills choose. But neither our faith nor works count for anything; we
must ascribe all to Him. He gives us the crown, we must hold it.
I'll paste some passages from his writings below, if that helps.
One thing is that Chrysostom is not so terribly focused on the act of
justification in particular....since neither is Scripture. It's there,
certainly, but what we should do after baptism and renouncing Satan is
a great part of it.
from Homily 16
...This was a sign of foreknowledge, that [Jacob and Esau] were chosen
from the very birth. That the election made according to foreknowledge,
might be manifestly of God, from the first day He at once saw and
proclaimed which was good and which not...
He that knoweth how to assay the soul, knoweth which is worthy of
being saved. Yield then to the incomprehensibleness of the election.
For it is He alone Who knoweth how to crown aright. How many, for
instance, seemed better than St. Matthew; to go by the exhibition of
works then visible. But He that knoweth things undeclared, and is able
to assay the mind�s aptitude, knew the pearl though lying in the mire,
and after passing by others, and being well pleased with the beauty of
this, He elected it, and by adding to the noble born free-will grace
from Himself, He made it approved. For if in the case of these arts
which are perishable, and indeed in other matters, those that are good
judges do not use the grounds on which the uninstructed form their
decision, in selecting out of what is put before them; but from points
which they are themselves well aware of, they many times disparage that
which the uninstructed approve, and decide upon what they disparage...
For it is not a mere exhibition of works that God searcheth after,
but a nobleness of choice and an obedient temper (gnomie) besides...
�I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have
compassion on whom I will have compassion.� (Ex. xxxiii. 19: observe
context.) For it is not thine to know, O Moses, he means, which are
deserving of My love toward man, but leave this to Me. But if Moses had
no right to know, much less have we� (p. 466).
Ver. 20. �Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?�
This he does to take down the objector�s unseasonable
inquisitiveness, and excessive curiosity, and to put a check upon it,
and teach him to know what God is, and what man, and how
incomprehensible His foreknowledge is, and how far above our reason,
and how obedience to Him in all points is binding.
Here it is not to do away with free-will that he says this, but to
show, up to what point we ought to obey God. For in respect of calling
God to account, we ought to be as little disposed to it as the clay is.
For we ought to abstain not from gainsaying or questioning only, but
even from speaking or thinking of it at all, and to become like that
lifeless matter, which followeth the potter�s hands, and lets itself be
drawn about anywhere he may please. And this is the only point he
applied the illustration to, not, that is, to any enunciation of the
rule of life, but to the complete obedience and silence enforced upon
And this we ought to observe in all cases, that we are not to take
the illustrations quite entire, but after selecting the good of them,
and that for which they were introduced, to let the rest alone. As, for
instance, when he says, �He couched, he lay down as a lion;� (Numb.
xxiv. 9) let us take out the indomitable and fearful part, not the
brutality, nor any other of the things belonging to a lion. And again,
when He says, �I will meet them as a bereaved bear� (Hos. xiii. 8), let
us take the vindictiveness. And when he says, �our God is a consuming
fire� (Deut. iv. 24; and Heb. xii. 29), the wasting power exerted in
punishing (p. 467).
And when he does go on to say, �Hath not the potter power over the
clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto
dishonor?� do not suppose that this is said by Paul as an account of
the creation, nor as implying a necessity over the will, but to
illustrate the sovereignty and difference of dispensations; for if we
do not take it in this way, divers incongruities will follow, for if
here he were speaking about the will, and those who are good and those
not so, He will be Himself the Maker of these, and man will be free
from all responsibility. And at this rate, Paul will also be shown to
be at variance with himself, as he always bestows chief honor upon free
choice. There is nothing else then which he here wishes to do, save to
persuade the hearer to yield entirely to God, and at no time to call
Him to account for anything whatever.
�He endured him with much long-suffering,� being willing to bring
him to repentance. For had He not willed this, then He would not have
been thus long-suffering. But as he would not use the long-suffering in
order to repentance, but fully fitted himself for wrath, He used him
for the correction of others, through the punishment inflicted upon him
making them better, and in this way setting forth His power. For that
it is not God�s wish that His power be so made known, but in another
way, by His benefits, namely, and kindnesses, he had shown above in all
But in saying, �which He had afore prepared unto glory,� he does
not mean that all is God�s doing. Since if this were so, there were
nothing to hinder all men from being saved. But he is setting forth
again His foreknowledge (p. 468)...
...When he says, �it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that
runneth,� he does not deprive us of free-will, but shows that all is
not one�s own, for that it requires grace from above. For it is binding
on us to will, and also to run: but to confide not in our own labors,
but in the love of God toward man.
Whence then are some vessels of wrath, and some of mercy? Of their
own free choice. God, however, being very good, shows the same kindness
to both. For it was not those in a state of salvation only to whom He
showed mercy, but also Pharaoh, as far as His part went (p. 469).
Why then are you troubled, as though the promise had failed, when
all the Prophets show that it is not all that are to be saved (p. 470)?
Ver. 32. �Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the Law.�
This is the clearest answer in the passage, which if he had said
immediately upon starting, he would not have gained so easy a hearing.
But since it is after many perplexities, and preparations, and
demonstrations that he sets it down, and after using countless
preparatory steps, he has at last made it more intelligible, and also
more easily admitted. For this he says is the cause of their
destruction: �Because it was not by faith, but as it were by the works
of the Law,� that they wished to be justified (p. 471).
From Homily 18
Ver. 5. �Even so then at this present time also, there is a
remnant according to the election of grace.� For he shows here that it
is the worthy that God useth to save even if the promise be made to the
...By saying election, he showed the approval of them, but by saying grace, he showed the gift of God (p. 483).
from Homily 1
That you may not then, when you hear that �He hath chosen us,� imagine
that faith alone is sufficient, he proceeds to add life and conduct. To
this end, saith he, hath He chosen us, and on this condition, �that we
should be holy and without blemish� (p. 51).
For by all means would he have chosen those who were approved. He hath
Himself rendered us holy, but then we must continue holy (p. 51).
�In love,� saith he, �having predestinated us.� Because this comes not
of any pains, nor of any good works of ours, but of love; and yet not
of love alone, but of our virtue also. For if indeed of love alone, it
would follow that all must be saved; whereas again were it the result
of our virtue alone, then were His coming needless, and the whole
dispensation. But it is the result neither of His love alone, nor yet
of our virtue, but of both. �He chose us,� saith the Apostle; and He
that chooseth, knoweth what it is that He chooseth. �In love,� he adds,
�having foreordained us;� for virtue would never have saved any one,
had there not been love. For tell me, what would Paul have profited,
how would he have exhibited what he has exhibited, if God had not both
called him from the beginning, and, in that He loved him, drawn him to
Himself? But besides, His vouchsafing us so great privileges, was the
effect of His love, not of our virtue. Because our being rendered
virtuous, and believing, and coming nigh unto Him, even this again was
the work of Him that called us Himself, and yet, notwithstanding, it is
ours also (pp. 51-2).
Do you observe how that nothing is done without Christ? Nothing without
the Father? The one hath predestinated, the other hath brought us near
Ver. 5. �According to the good pleasure,� he continues, �of His will.�
That is to say, because He earnestly willed it. This is, as one
might say, His earnest desire. For the word �good pleasure� every
where means the precedent will, for there is also another will. As for
example, the first will is that sinners should not perish; the second
will is, that, if men become wicked, they shall perish. For surely it
is not by necessity that He punishes them, but because He wills it (p.
...He points out the origination, the purpose, the will, the first
intention, as proceeding from the Father, and the fulfillment and
execution as effected by the agency of the Son...
Just in the very beginning of the Epistle, he used the expression
�through the will of the Father.� The Father, he means, willed, the Son
wrought. But neither does it follow, that because the Father willed,
the Son is excluded from the willing; nor because the Son wrought, that
the Father is deprived of the working. But to the Father and the Son,
all things are common. �For all Mine are Thine,� saith He, �and Thine
are Mine.� (John xvii. 10.)
From: solascriptura1971 <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2008 1:48:17 AM
Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: St. John Chrysostom on Salvation by Faith Alone?
Now both of these paragraphs looks "Lutheran" to me. Maybe I'm
--- In LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com, "Anastasia Theodoridis"
<anastasiatheo01@ ...> wrote:
>response* to either our works or our faith. He saves us because He
> Another way to say it might be that God doesn't save us *in
wills to save us, period - without first being (or needing to be)
impressed or won over by anything about us. There is no way we can
influence Him to save us, because He already wills to do it, from
before He ever created us. Because He LOVES us.
>to Him. By faith we believe. By faith we commit ourselves to Him.
> But He saves us in and through our active faith-based relationship
By faith we take up our crosses and follow Him. By faith live, by
faith we die, by faith we know that we shall rise again. Faith is
what makes the unseen things (e.g., general resurrection) evident to
us, and the things hoped for, already present to us. Faith is their
(current) hypostasis, or being.
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> e-mail: anastasiatheo01@ ...
> blog: http://anastasias- corner.blogspot. com
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Bobby, I recalled a couple of questions you'd had, then looked back and found them in this e-mail.
Orthodox believe that the sacraments and the gospel are generally necessary for salvation.
We see grace as God coming to us Himself, not something created He gives us (as Catholics believe; you hear them speak of "getting graces"). We see that outpouring of Himself as union with Him, the greatest goal and joy of His creatures. It is His good pleasure to give us that blessing.
Of course, if you are not able to receive the sacraments (perhaps you die before you are able), or if you are not able to intellectually receive the gospel (for example, babies, retarded people or demented elderly) that is an exception. God doesn't hold it against you if are unable.
I might add that the piety associated with the sacraments is quite high. For example, all ORthodox are encouraged to say a set of prayers that takes at least an hour before receiving Communion, and must fast from midnight (except for medical reasons) and have confessed "recently."
If any of His blood is spilled on the floor during liturgy, it is burned. If it spills on a rug the rug is burned; if it spills on tile, you pour a bit of alcohol on and burn it, saying prayers. (Normally you don't give Communion over a carpet for obvious reasons!) No one but a priest, deacon or bishop may touch the altar at any time. We subdeacons are rarely able to touch an object that is sitting on the altar. If you have any sins against anyone on your conscience, you must apologize to the person before receiving Eucharist.
In baptism you are exorcised, the water is exorcised, and you literally (not figuratively) spit on the devil. You wear a baptismal garment at services then for 40 days, at least in Slavic tradition.
There are frequent references in Scripture to the "energies" of God. (The Greek term is "energeia.") Comes up something like 40 times in the New Testament, as I recall. This is GOd present in dealing with His creation. It is not His essence, which is incomprehensible, but His actions toward us; how He reveals Himself to His creatures.
We humans have energies, too. Our body/soul/spirit is our essence; how we move and think and interact with people and things, what we do, is our "energies."
Roman Catholics hold that God's energies, like His graces, are created things. We ORthodox believe that He Himself is wholly present in His energies; He deals with His creation very directly and personally.
"As Thou, Father, art in me," Jesus says, "and I in Thee," He prays "that they also may be in us." John 17:20
It's a bit difficult for us to grasp....however, the Greek term "energeia" predated the New Testament for centuries, and back then the people understood basically what it signified.
St Gregory Palamas is the saint most associated with the theology of the energies of God.
Anyhow, hope this helps a bit---
From: solascriptura1971 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, November 28, 2008 2:48:20 AM
Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Relationship of Free-will, Energies, and the Means of Grace
Randy et al,
Thanks, yep, I'm lacking in biblical Greek. That is interesting
about the word occuring in the New Testament.
I was just reading an article
(http://www.orthodox info.com/ inquirers/ non-orthodox_ ch2.pdf) where
it discusses this in more detail. In it he has a quote from (yes,
you guessed it) St. John Chrysostom:
"If He "lighteth every man that cometh into the world," how is it
that so many continue
unenlightened? For not all have known the majesty of Christ. How
then doth He "light
every man"? He lighteth all as far as in Him lies. But if some,
willfully closing the eyes
of their mind, would not receive the rays of that Light, their
darkness arises not from the
nature of the Light, but from their own wickedness, who willfully
deprive themselves of
the gift. For the grace is shed forth upon all, turning itself back
neither from Jew, nor Greek,
nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor free, nor bond, nor male, nor
female, nor old, nor
young, but admitting all alike, and inviting with an equal regard.
And those who are
not willing to enjoy this gift, ought in justice to impute their
blindness to themselves; for
if when the gate is opened to all, and there is none to hinder, any
being willfully evil
remain without, they perish through none other, but only through
Someone mentioned to me earlier on this board that the problem I'm
having may be that I don't understand the difference between East
and West with respect to the Uncreated Energy (grace) of God acting
everywhere. Anyways, this article reminded me of that. I guess I
need to bear that in mind.
Also, another side issue popped up reading that quote from St. John
above. He makes it sound as if the means of grace, the Word and
Sacraments, are not necessary in order for one to come to salvation.
Is this true? If so, how does this relate to Romans 10 where St.
Paul appears to state that it is necessary for one to encounter/hear
the Gospel message in order to be saved?
Thanks a lot for your help.
We had a good Thanksgiving and hope you and your family did as well.
--- In LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com, randall hay
<stortford@. ..> wrote:
>by the apostles. I don't know what your knowledge is of biblical
> Bobby, I feel constrained to point out that "synergy" is commanded
Greek, but "syn" means 'with' and "ergon" means 'work.' I Cor
3:9: "we are God's synergists." 2 Cor 6:1: "synergizing with Him,
we beseech you not to accept the grace of God in vain." St Paul
lauds Timothy, in fact, as "synergist of God" in I Thes 3:2.
>means He damns many people by not saving them. This is not the God
> If we are saved without any movement of the will toward God, it
>fault for sinning because we couldn't help it. This is not the God
> And if our wills are completely helpless, then we're not really at
>image....everything created by Him is not good (which doesn't jibe
> And if we are helpless in the face of sin, we aren't really in His
with I Tim 4:4). This is not the good Creator!
>because "seeing they don't see." They are at fault. God gave us
> In the Parable of the Sower, we see that humans reject the Gospel
eyes; the problem is that we don't see with them.
>wonderful Thanksgiving- ---
> At any rate, His blessings upon you, and I hope you have a
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> In Christ,