We Have Met the Enemy

Turretinfan has given me more material to write about. Here  he is attempting to fend off the accusation that Reformed anthropology is fundamentally Pelagian. He characterizes the error of Pelagius in the following way.

Pelagius’ primary error was denying the necessity of grace – he consequently also denied the sufficiency of grace. Calvinists affirm the necessity of grace, and it is a central aspect of Calvinism to affirm the necessity of grace. Furthermore, another error of Pelagian was in arguing that people (other than Christ himself) are born without sin. Calvinism, however, affirms the Total Depravity of fallen mankind, making Original Sin a doctrine of central importance in Calvinism. Thus, no consistent Calvinist could be a Pelagian. Any superficial similarity between Calvinism and Pelagius with respect to the state of Adam before the fall would be a trivial matter.

It is true of course that Pelagius denied the necessity of grace. Of course part of the question was what constituted grace in the first place so that Pelagians never outright deny the necessity of gace but rather deny what others consider grace to be. The question of the sufficiency of grace is another matter since Augustine seems to distinguish between those recipients of grace who receive sufficient grace that is effective to glory and hence are elected to glory as well as those who receive grace that is sufficient that is effective only to regeneration. In any case, the primary error of Pelagianism is not about the necessity of grace and not even over the idea that humans can make themselves autonomously right with God. That is, the error of Pelagianism is not primarily thinking of salvation entirelly in terms of our effort, though that is certainly a serious error. That is a consequence of Pelagianism’s fundamental error. Pelagianism proffers a kind of monergism with respect to salvation. Any aiding grace not already intrinsic to human nature that could be effective is extrinsic and external to human nature. That is just one theological irony when Calvinists discuss Pelagianism. Both are monergists, but just with respect to different ends of the spectrum-humanity or divinity? This should be a clue that both systems share some fundamental presuppositions. But we haven’t even gotten to the fun stuff yet.

The primary error of Pelagianism is the identification of nature with grace. For Pelagians, nature is grace, completely. Because they thought this was so, Adam was not deprived of anything at the Fall and children inherit no deprivation of divine power or corruption. Adam’s  nature is impenetrable by sin since grace or righteousness is intrinsic to it. The only way for this not to be so along Pelagian lines is for Adam’s nature to be fundamentally changed, for him to then possess a sinful nature or a nature of sin. But Pelagians thought this was impossible since God created Adam intrinsically righteous. Consequently, for the Pelagians, Adam only requires not power to achieve salvation, but a good example to follow. The effect of the Atonement could only be an extrinsic moral influence according to an imposed law. The Law then was a grace, but only an extriniscally effective one which is why it required a free consent. Pelagianism denied then the necessity of grace if by grace one understands it as something that is not an actualized power intrinsic to nature from the begining of creation. Adam was then perpetually under a “covenant of works” since he intrinsically possessed the requisite power to fulfill it. This is why incidentally the Reformed doctrine of the Covenant of Works is essentially Pelagian.

Turretinfan cites material from the famous Reformed theologian Charles Hodge to fend off the accusation of a Pelagian anthropology. I am not certain where in Hodge’s work he cites from since there is no citation, but he should have cited another far more relevant passage concerned direcltywith the original condition of humanity.

They [Rome] distinguish, therefore, between the image of God and original righteousness. The latter they say is lost, the former retained. Protestants, on the other hand, hold that it is the divine image in its most important constituents, that man forfeited by his apostasy. This, however, may be considered only a difference as to words.  The important point of difference is this, that the Protestants hold that original righteousness, so far as it consisted in the moral excellence of Adam, was natural, while the Romanists maintain that it was supernatural…Protestants maintain that original righteousness was concreated and natural.” Systematic Theology, vol. 2, p. 103.

Now, that is clearly a Pelagian anthropology. Grace or righteousness is intrinsic to nature for Hodge. The only way to stave off full blown Pelagianism after the Fall is to posit a fundamental alteration in human nature, specifically in a loss in some respect or another of the imago dei. And this is exactly what the Reformed have historically asserted. Total Depravity is therefore required to stave off a complete Pelagian soteriology while motivated by a Pelagian anthropology. And so the dialectic moves from a Pelagian anthropology to essentially a Manichean anthropology post Fall. Augustine by contrast takes grace to be a supernatural addition to nature so that his dialectic is nature/grace, as opposed to the Reformed dialectic, which is sin/grace. This is why there are no works of nature post-Fall for the Reformed, even works done of common grace that are not sin.

On the point of the original state of man, Turretinfan could have just skipped Hodge and gone to his namesake since Francis Turretin says essentially the same thing as Hodge.

Where two things immediately opposed belong to any subject, one or the other of the two must necessarily be in it. Now righteousness and sin are predicated of man as their fit subject and are directly opposed to each other. Therefore one or the other must necessarily be in him; nor can there be a man who is not either righteous or sinner.” Institutes of Eclenctic Theology, vol. 1, p. 464.

Here Turretin is writing against the Pelagian notion of a pure nature. Notice the dialectic first in terms of opposition and second in terms of sin or righteousness. If nature is to be good, it must be good in terms of moral or personal goodness. There is an apparent conflation between the personal and the natural. Natural goodness is personal righteousness for Turretin.

For the Son of God only is ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col 1:15)-the essential and natural, and no mortal can attain to it because the finite cannot be a partaker of the infinite. And if we are said by grace to be ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Pet 1:4), this is not to be understood of an essential, formal and instrinsic participation, but an analogical, accidental and extrinsic participation (by reason of the effects analogous to the divine perfections which are produced in us by the Spirit after the image of God).” Institutes of Eclenctic Theology vol. 1, p. 465

Notice that the patristic notion of deification is impossible for Turretin. He has to strain against the obvious import of the biblical material. For him human nature remains impenetrable to divinity and must remain so, except either morally in terms of an imposed law or in terms of efficient causation volitionally. This is why he must interpret 2 Pet 1:4 in terms of a created analogs in the soul-virtues or “created grace.” The human and divine are divided up on the dialectical fulcrum of cause and effect. Keep in mind that for Plato, cause and effect are to be distinguished dialectically, in terms of opposition. If this weren’t the case, Plato thinks, effects would simply be a complete duplicate of the cause without any means to differentiate the two.

Indeed, the opposite is true of them-an image cannot remain an image if it presents all the details of what it represents.” Cratylus, 432b

Here you can see this principle at work. The opposition between cause and effect for Turretin functions to leave human nature always and only extrinically related to the divine. If this weren’t so, Turretin argues, therre would necessarily be a formal or essential confusion between the human essence and the divine essence, which is impossible. There would be no way to distinguish humanity from divinity. God for Turretin obviously lacks intrinsically related energies or activities that can be united inherently and intrinsically to human nature without an abosrption of humanity into the divine essence. Humanity can only be a tool or instrument of the divine will or influenced by moral principles. Humanity at best can only be brought into a kind of contiguity of analogs with God through a subordinating relation of will. The two wills work side by side doing similar things. It goes without saying that this schema is Nestorian in structure.

If we look at the Eleventh Question of Turretin’s Fifth Topic, we see that Turretin holds the same Pelagian anthropology as Hodge.

Was original rightouesness natural or supernatural? The former we affirm, and the latter we deny against the Romanists.” (Institutes, v. 1, p. 470)

However, the orthodox [the Reformed] (although not denying that this rightousness may be called supernatural with regard to the corrupt state and holding that it is not natural constitutuvely or consecutively) yet think it may well be called natural orioginally and perfectively (with regard to the pure state because created with it). (Ibid, 471)

Although original righteousness can properly be called ‘grace’ or ‘a gratuitous gift’ (and so not due on the part of God, just as the nature itself also, created by him), it does not follow that it is supernatural or not due to the perfection of the innocent nature.  For although God owned nothing to man, yet it being posited that he willed to create man after his own image, he was bound to create him righteous and holy.” (Ibid, 473)

If rightouesness can be called superntural with respect to the corrupt state of man after the fall, then it follows that nature is righteousness or grace prior to the Fall.  Here the Pelagian anthropology is quite apparent and along with a nascent confusion of the categories of person and nature. Now this is rather isomorphic and not a mere similarity. And historically, the neo-semi-pelagian anthropology of the Ockhamist school trickled down on this  point to the Reformers. The obvious irony is that the Protestant protestation against Pelagianism is directly applicable to their own theological system. Providing as a foundation for the Pelagian scheme an Augustinian soteriological doctrine of divine pre-emption doesn’t make the fundamental outlook any less Pelagian.

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127 Responses to We Have Met the Enemy

  1. TurretinFan says:

    Surprising as it might seem, Calvinism is Augustinian, not Pelagian.

  2. Turretinfan,

    In the main it is not Augustinian since Augustine on this crucial point taught that grace was added to nature and the Pelagians taught it was intrinsic to nature, which was the center around which all the other arguments turned. The Reformed agree with Pelagius, not Augustine.

  3. James Grant says:

    To be fair to the Reformed tradition, there are different views regarding grace and nature, and it is a current and ongoing debate. Thus, there are different views in regard to whether Adam was created with grace or without grace. For example, Turretin holds to grace within the covenant of works, whereas Hodge does not. In modern Reformed theology, the works of Meredith Kline have become quite popular, arguing that grace is not in the covenant of works. Many (especially those connected to Westminster Seminary in CA) follow Kline on this.

    Kline says, “Properly defined, grace is not merely the bestowal of unmerited blessings but God’s blessing of man in spite of his demerits, in spite of his forfeiture of divine blessings. Clearly, we ought not apply this term grace to the pre-Fall situation, for neither the bestowal of blessings on Adam in the very process of creation nor the proposal to grant him additional blessings contemplated him as in a guilty state of demerit.”

    Bound up with Kline’s concern is the whole Protestant notion of justification and imputed righteousness. But that is another (although connected) story.

  4. James,

    You are quite right that the Covenant of Works is not held by all in the Reformed tradition. But the identification of nature with grace via original righteousness has a much wider support, even among the Lutherans. What would be important to know relative to Kline is how he understands original righteousness, whether in a more Augustinian way as added to nature or a more Pelagian way as constituative of nature. Turretin for example says something similar, namely that we shouldn’t speak of grace realtive to pre-fall but onlyin connection with the corrupted state. This implies for Turretin that nature is grace in the pre-lapsarian state.

  5. James Grant says:

    Hmmm…Kline makes the argument that grace is added to nature, at least if I understand him. In fact, I have read the Reformed tradition as saying that there is a sharp divide between nature and grace, so I am not following your argument when you say this: “Turretin for example says something similar, namely that we shouldn’t speak of grace relative to pre-fall but only in connection with the corrupted state. This implies for Turretin that nature is grace in the pre-lapsarian state.” Why would it be the case that if there is no grace before the fall that the implication is that nature=grace after the fall?

    This issue of nature and grace is of interest to me because I would like to do my PhD (Lord willing!) in this area. I never realized that underlying almost all theological formulation was this debate on nature and grace. I read through some of the recent Catholic stuff (like de Lubac’s work), and I am starting to see the issue everywhere! I would love to read more on this area in Orthodoxy.

  6. One of the many things I am not is a Kline scholar so it may be the case that he does think what you state,b ut I’d have to see the texts and I do not have them at my disposal.

    I do know that this is a classic fault line between Rome and the Reformers. It is clearly present in Luther, Calvin and plenty of other major Reformation and post reformation figures. Its in Van Til, and a horde of Dutch thinkers as well.

    If the Reformed have the sharp distinction, then oddly people like Hodge, Owen, Calvin, and Turretin dissent from it.

    The implication follow since if there is no grace prior, all there is is nature and if Adam is created righteous, then nature is intrinsically graced or righteous.

    What did you look at from Lubac? Augustinianism and Modern Theology perhaps? Liethart has a fair number of posts on the issue.

  7. James Grant says:

    Yes, that is what I have been looking at by Lubac.

    Leithart is the one who introduced me to Lubac. It was Leithart’s article on the sociology of infant baptism that made me start rethinking the whole paradigm.

    Do you think Leithart is correcting the problem in the Reformed tradition?

  8. James,

    I only get bits here and there of Leithart so I wouldn’t claim to have mapped his thinking. I am glad that he is looking at the problem though, but I suspect that it will lead him out of the Reformed tradition, rather than the Reformed tradition actually substantially changing. It is not as if he’s on the major Reformed institutinal love list right now anyhow.IMHO, the Reformed tradition has cemented itself in such a way that any serious challenge to the existing structures is met with fierce resistence, fear, and castigation. In other words, its a tradition and semper reformada is a slogan.

    Lubac’s stuff is good for thinking about it as is Zizioulas who ironically influenced Lubac, which most people don’t know and of course Maximus since Maximus thinks that virtues are natural things, without falling into Pelagianism.

  9. James Grant says:

    Do you make a distinction between grace and righteousness?

  10. Let me see if I am getting this straight. Some Reformed think that pre-fall Adamic nature is grace/righteousness as the Pelagians also think. But sin is the opposite of grace, so man, or his nature, became sin. Then grace became something foreign to man and is imputed on him extrensically, and anything he does that is righteous after that is a diminished copy of what God does, but not the same in essence. His unrighteous nature and grace do not communicate. He is acting foreign to himself.

    P: “Augustine by contrast takes grace to be a supernatural addition to nature so that his dialectic is nature/grace, as opposed to the Reformed dialectic, which is sin/grace.” and,

    “In the main it is not Augustinian since Augustine on this crucial point taught that grace was added to nature and the Pelagians taught it was intrinsic to nature, which was the center around which all the other arguments turned. The Reformed agree with Pelagius, not Augustine.”

    So Augustine was advocating a more synergistic approach to nature and grace? That they communicate?

    Now I’m not sure where Augustine and Orthodoxy differ on this point. Did he, and do Orthodox, believe that a person has free will to choose this increased synergy with God? I say “increased” because breathing is a synergistic practice with God’s energies.

    Also, don’t Orthodox believe that human nature is grace too? That goodness is intrinsic to our nature? That sin is unnatural to it? Isn’t this Pelagian, but a pre-fall version to the Reformed? So what did Adam’s sin do? It introduced passibility, (now I forget if Maximus says that pre-fall Adam was Passible or not.) Passibility is a tendency to choose sin. Our minds and hearts became darkened and we habitually choose wrongly. We say that Christ healed our nature with His Incarnation and sinless life – he consistently chose rightly through His divine nature communicating with and empowering, His human nature. He deified human nature, which we enter into with baptism. This is on a personal level. We choose to unite with our natures.

    So was pre-fall Adam deified? I believe Maximus says he fell pretty instantly, so he did not develop a habit of virtue (unlike Mary). He was on a personal level immature in attaining Christ-likeness, and erred. He got his humanity wrong. But what about OT righteous people? I think I am learning that Christ’s Incarnation, obedience, Passion, and Resurrection was timeless so that they were able to “personally” enter into the grace of his righteousness. But were they as deified as A.D. saints? Elijah seems to have been so. Did David and the Prophets enter fully into Pentecost? Perhaps the fullness of time revealed what had always already been going on? And with this fuller revelation, more were able to partake of it. But what of people’s eyes being opened like the two on the Road to Emmaus? They wondered that they did not recognize Him. We could say that extra grace was given to them according to God’s will, but they were studying Moses and desiring Him, so they did their part, enabling them to be receptive.

  11. James,

    yes I do make a distinction between righteousness and grace. Grace is uncreated life and power of God. Righteousness seems to me also an activity, but an activity that requirs our personal participation. Divine power in, righteousness out.

  12. Elizabeth,

    The first part is right, but let me clarify. Yes, Augustine is a type of syngergist with respect to justice or justification.

    Augustine still thinks of grace as coming to nature from the outside modeled on a platonic soul/body schema, where the soul uses the body as an instrument. Secondly, Augustine thinks that righteousness can be given apart from personal activity on our part, which is where the Orthodox would disagree.

    The Orthodox iew nature as grace in the following sense, in that it is gratuitously given and that it is a potentia or a power to be used. Pelagius saw it as not only a power to be used, but already fully actualized, which is why nature could never lose its integrity.

    Adam was capable of sinning from the get-go. Whether he did or not ad initio, I tend to think not. God spends somet ime with him according to Genesis in naming the animals and I don’t have any reason to think God wasn’t pleased with Adam’s activities at that point. How far after that, damned if I know. so I think its possible to view Adam as having some measure of habit after creation and so some measure of glory as well, particularly with the Spirit.

  13. P: “The Orthodox [v]iew nature as grace in the following sense, in that it is gratuitously given and that it is a potentia or a power to be used. Pelagius saw it as not only a power to be used, but already fully actualized, which is why nature could never lose its integrity.”

    Our human nature is a power to be used… by personal and habitual application/actualization of what has already been given?

    After I posted the previous comment, I was thinking that by exercising human virtues, intrinsic to our graced nature (as Mary, and pre-fall Adam did), then we become receptive to revelation. Before I was thinking of receiving revelation as extrinsic grace, but the way I think you are putting it is that human nature has the potential to receive revelation.

  14. Nate,

    First you left out the crucial pointand core of Pelagianism as I outlined and so you have left untouched the main point.

    2nd, Your “standard” definition is inadequate since it mainly touches the consequence of Pelagian anthropology rather than the core mistake.

    3rd. The fundamental mistake that Dr. Clark is making is that he is ignoring Augustine’s oldest, mature and most extensive treatment of Pelagianism against its most sophisticated advocate, Julian. A good amount of that deals with pre-fall anthropology. Certainly the two classical representatives in probably the most important text on the subject are better sources than the ones you are using. Ad fonts.

    4th. The Post Reformation debates about Pelagianism and the notion of a pure nature both between Catholics and Protestants and between the Catholics and Jansenists turned on this issue, as writers like Hodge are rightly sensitive to. Since the time of Aquinas at least there has been no small amount of ink spilled on the notion of a pure nature and Pelagianism. I’d suggest you catch up on 800 years of reading. This was no small issue in 20th century theology either. Get crackin’.

    5th. If Clark were right, then it contradicts your citation from the Catholic Ency (which is rather dated btw) since it mentions Adam’s state apart from the fall.

    6th. The sharing of this view with Pelagius is not incidental. First because it was and is germane to the debate. If it weren’t I doubt Augustine would have been so devoted to correcting Julian on it. Second, you side with Pelagius against Augustine on the most fundamental point, that grace is added to nature so that nature can’t be autonomous and monergism is precluded for Adam. (Which implies that Augustine was a synergist as well.) Third, the Reformed retain key Pelagian structures, namely the explicit Pelagian formula of reaching up and laying hold of Christ by faith alone. (Interestingly a number of Arians held that schema as well, not the least of which was Eunomius. Care to tack on some Arianism to your Pelagianism?)

    7th. You confuse natural goodness with personal righteousness. Confessing that nature is good isn’t tantamount to saying it is morally righteous and is equipped with agency. That is a confusion of the categories of person and nature, flat out. Are rocks morally righteous now too on your reading of Genesis? Absurd.

    8th Augustine doesn’t think that human nature is defective per se and neither do I. It doesn’t follow that a need implies a defect. Here you attack a straw man are are explicitly anti-Augustinian. Your view directly implies that man is autonomous since he has no need of grace. Again, this is a Pelagian identification of nature with grace.

  15. Nick says:

    This is a great subject to bring up.

    One thing I think is also important to mention is that the Catholic Church (St Pius V) condemned someone named Michale Baius (Baianism), and here are some of the propositions condemned (as pelagian), ESPECIALLY in regards to pre-fallen man (Denz 1001ff):

    -17. They are in agreement with Pelagius who say that it is necessary for reason of merit, that man through the grace of adoption be lifted up to a deified state.

    -21. The sublimation and exaltation of human nature in participation with the divine nature has been due to the integrity of the first condition, and hence must be called natural, and not supernatural.

    -23. Absurd is the opinion of those who say that man from the beginning, by a certain supernatural and gratuitous gift, was raised above the condition of his nature, so that by faith, hope, and charity he cherished God supernaturally.

    -26. The integrity of the first creation was not the undeserved exaltation of human nature, but its natural condition.

    -27. Free will, without the help of God’s grace, has only power for sin.

    -35. Every action which a sinner, or a slave of sin performs is a sin.

    -78 The immortality of the first man was not a benefit of grace, but a natural condition.

    Note, the above propositions were CONDEMNED. What was condemned here is plainly the same as what you are talking about. Baius was influenced by Calvinism. The problem is most Protestants seeking to be “Bible based” don’t leave room for building up a foundation in Christology and other key theological issues, so when they ‘build’ they are not seeing the erroneous ramifications. The problem is that Sola Fide is first accepted as true and then all the rest of theology is forced to fit that scheme. Of course, it doesn’t help that the Reformers misunderstood critical issues like nature and grace.

    What is even more unfortunate is all the Justification articles and books out there who totally neglect (dont realize) the nature/grace issue.

    I talk about the key concepts in my justification apologetics article, chapter 1:

    http://catholicdefense.googlepages.com/article.htm

  16. Bryan Cross says:

    Hello Perry,

    Regarding your reply to James, concerning the Orthodox distinction between grace and righteousness, does the baptized infant participate, or not have righteousness until reaching an age of reason?

    Interesting post by the way.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  17. Hey Bryan,

    I was wondering when you were going to show up. :)

    The Orthodox teaching is that in baptism a dual gift of grace is given, one respective to nature and the other to person. The latter is activated when and to the degree that the person utilizes powers of their nature-will, intellect, etc. Theosis is a personal activity, not a natural emanation.

    The righteousness of God is an activity, energy or operation if you will, in which persons freely participate actively. Their doing and God’s doing are not two separate acts merely contiuguous or one an analogy of the other.

    There’s not much in the post that you can’t find in say Lubac’s work n Augustinianism and Modern theology or Duffy’s works on grace or any of the major literature on the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian controversies. As I indicated to you in the past, it is also the locus of Van Til’s problems with respect to epistmeology.

  18. [...] as a Calvinist.  But as amusing as Hays’ post was it was an exercise in missing the point.  Perry’s post was about Reformed anthropology being essentially Pelagian, a charge which TurretinFan denied [...]

  19. photios says:

    Nick,

    I completely agree with Michael Baius on his view of pre-fallen man. The flipside that Perry hasn’t stated yet is that for Maximus the Confessor grace is natural to man (though not identical to or the totality of human nature). The vision of God is a part of the natural telos of man. That is part of thinking that the Incarnation is the pre-condition for creating.

    Perry,

    Given Jansensism’ better read of Augustine, I’m not sure anymore that Augustine thinks grace is superadded to nature as the scholastics do. He never conceives of something called pure nature in theory or conceptualizes of an ungraced humanity.

    Photios

  20. Photios,

    True that Maximus takes the virtues as natural, but as a natural potentia or power and not as a fully actualized power apart from human choice.

    I am putting together a post on the notion of supper added grace in Augustine and various scholastics, so I reserve my comments till then.

  21. Nick says:

    Photios,

    Are you kidding? I’ll bet you are misreading those condemnations. Surely you don’t accept Michael Baius’ view of pre-fallen man.

    Take these two condemnations:

    17. They are in agreement with Pelagius who say that it is necessary for reason of merit, that man through the grace of adoption be lifted up to a deified state.

    This was condemned because Baius said this applied to Pelagianism, when in fact this is the orthodox Catholic view and denied by Pelagianism. The “grace of adoption” which raises man to a deified state is sanctifying grace, which is super-added to nature.
    Another condemnation of Baius:

    24. By vain and idle men, in keeping with the folly of philosophers, is the opinion devised which must be referred to Pelagianism, that man was so constituted from the beginning that through gifts added upon nature by the bounty of the Creator he was raised and adopted into the sonship of God.

    Again, Baius calls this view Pelagian when in fact it is the orthodox Catholic view and the opposite view (Baius) is Pelagian. The orthodox view is that grace was added to nature to raise/adopt/deify yet Baius rejects this.

  22. photios says:

    Nick,

    No I’m not kidding. I take the idea of grace being added to nature to be outright Nestorian and so did Maximus the Confessor. On the points elaborated by Baius that the vision of God is of the natural order for man and that “God could not have created man at the beginning such as he is now born,” he is patristic and quite sound, whereas Rome’s view of grace as being something “supernatural,” though not uncreate, is just the fancy of philosophy.

    I’m no ally of Rome on this point. I believe it to be a Christologically untenable position.

    Photios

  23. Nick says:

    Then how do you describe the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit? If it not a super-added gift but function of nature, then you have a pantheistic view of man (ie man is not truly man unless he is “partaking of the Divine Nature”). And what is worse is that when man fell and lost that grace, you would have to say nature went bad in a similar sense of Calvinism because nature is incomplete without grace.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “the vision of God is of the natural order for man.” That sounds heretical because Paul says in Rom 8 “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ,” thus experiencing God, especially in Heaven, is impossible by nature alone.

  24. Bill Zuck says:

    Perry,

    I think that Calvinism and Lutheranism are Pelagian for even more serious reasons. More than thirty times Pelagius in his commentary on Paul’s epistles affirms faith alone. I only know of one place where Augustine uses the phrase and he affirms it to be true only of a faith that works by love.

    Luther and the rest of the Reformers repudiated the notion that it was a faith formed by love that brought justification. At this point they are anything but Augustinian or Pauline for that matter. See Gal.5:5.

    The Catholic and Orthodox conception of faith and grace is not the same as that of the Protestant.

    Bill Zuck

  25. Jay Dyer says:

    Awesome post, Perry.

    Jay

  26. Jay Dyer says:

    “For the Son of God only is ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col 1:15)-the essential and natural, and no mortal can attain to it because the finite cannot be a partaker of the infinite. And if we are said by grace to be ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Pet 1:4), this is not to be understood of an essential, formal and instrinsic participation, but an analogical, accidental and extrinsic participation (by reason of the effects analogous to the divine perfections which are produced in us by the Spirit after the image of God).” Institutes of Eclenctic Theology vol. 1, p. 465″

    Jay: This would necessitate that in the Incarnation there is only an extrinsic, accidental union. Total Nestorianism.

  27. Jay,
    The same thing could be said of Romanism on that passage: an analogical, accidental, and extrinsic participation (produced by the effects of the Spirit, alla created grace).
    Photios

  28. Nick says:

    Photios,

    How can you say that based on what I said on February 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm?

    If partaking in the Divine Nature is part of human nature rather than a super-added grace, then pantheism is the only option.

  29. Jay Dyer says:

    Photios,

    Why does St. Maximus himself use the nature/grace distinction in Ambiguum 42? And in Ad Thalassium 61? In fact, Fr. Behr (I assume that’s who it is) is at pains in the footnote of page 93 in the SVS edition to try explain how this is not the Roman view, but all he says is that nature is already a gift, which we agree with.

    Second, this is in St. Cyril as well. In the SVS edition of On the Unity of Christ, pages 89-93, St. Cyril bases the nature/grace distintion on Christology. If Chalcedon is true, and christology is the paradigm of all soteriology is christology, how could this be wrong? Admitting, that is, that there is a true compenetration of the energies, as St. John of Damascus says?

  30. Jay Dyer says:

    Photios,

    You are correct. I admit created grace is untenable, unless you mean grace-for-teh-creature.

  31. Jay Dyer says:

    And pages 95-100 as well in St. Cyril.

    -Jay

  32. Jason Loh says:

    “Adam was then perpetually under a “covenant of works” since he intrinsically possessed the requisite power to fulfill it. This is why incidentally the Reformed doctrine of the Covenant of Works is essentially Pelagian.”

    Spot on …

  33. Jay,
    Your confused. It’s not that you can’t find a *distinction,* I already admitted a distinction above in terms of grace not being identical with or the totality of human nature. But grace is natural, it is OF the nature. It is not a donum superaddtium above and beyond what is natural. Hence, there is no intermediary of “supernatural” between the Creator and the creature.

    Pyrrhus: Virtues, then, are natural things?

    Maximus: Yes, natural things.

    Pyrrhus: If they be natural things, why do they not exist in all men equally, since all men have an identical nature?

    Maximus: But they do exist equally in all men because of the identical nature!

    Pyrrhus: Then why is there such a great disparity [of virtues] in us?

    Maximus: Because we do not all practice what is natural to us to an equal degree; indeed, if we [all] practiced equally [those virtues] natural to us as we were created to do, then one would be able to perceive one virtue in us all, just as there is one nature [in us all], and “one virtue” would not admit of a “more” or “less.”

    Pyrrhus: If virtue be something natural [to us], and if what is natural to us existeth not through asceticism but by reason of our creation, then why is it that we acquire the virtues, which are natural, with asceticism and labours?

    Maximus: Asceticism, and the toils that go with it, was devised simply in order to ward off deception, which established itself through sensory perception. It is not [as if] the virtues have been newly introduced from outside, for they inhere in us from creation, as hath already been said. Therefore, when deception is completely expelled, the soul immediately exhibits the splendor of its natural virtue.

    –The Disputation with Pyrrhus

    Photios

  34. Jay,
    Grace “for the creature” is uncreate. The uncreate and created are together without confusion and without seperation by dint of the person. I, *a person,* partake of the uncreate (and not some created mode) because Christ partook of the created. Your just subtly stating that you have a problem with the Incarnation because you have the same Hellenistic notion that the Infinite can’t partake of the finite and vice versa, vis. the principle of non-contradiction.

    Photios

  35. photios says:

    Nick,
    I think my answer to your concern is embodied in the short dialogue between Maximus and Pyrrhus (who ironically sounds like an Augustinian), and Maximus is unambiguous that the virtues are uncreate God the Logos, the Logos as the many logoi. There is a double sense in which I partake of the divine nature, one according to nature and the other according to person. On the nature side, it is the logos of my being to partake of the divine nature, to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit (according to His energy), etc. But then why don’t all participate, if God subsists naturally? This is the personal aspect, and I believe Maximus answers the question in a very satisfying way.

    This is one of my favorite dialogues because it highlights the objection by Roman Catholics of Orthodoxy in such a way to be out of step with Diothelite Christology in the clearest sense. Any “Augustinian” should be very unsettled with that passage. It is a rigorous pursuit of the categories of person and nature, which is something that Romanism does not do in a patristic way.

    Photios

  36. Photios,

    Should we make a distinction between the potential of a naturally virtuous human nature and theosis? Far eastern ascetics attain a level of virtue and mastery over the passions through asceticism, but theosis is union with the divine, which I don’t think that they can achieve without the Sacramental Church through baptism and the full life of the Church.

  37. photios says:

    Elizabeth,
    My baptism is Christ’s baptism. What goes off in your head (or should) when you hear that?
    Photios

  38. Photios,

    That you healed the waters? (sorry, that was the first thing that popped in my head)

    That you were joined with Christ’s human nature which is deified by His divine nature. Your life is Christ’s, which is distinct from a non-baptized person’s. You personally joined with His humanity.

    “Non-Christian” virtuous people must be participating with Christ’s virtue somewhat. Intuitively to concrete thinking me, the difference is light. I’ve wondered if all creation is bright and shining with uncreated light and the person whose eyes are opened can see it, or if just consecrated-by-the-Church people and created things are filled with light. Christ joined with all creation in His Incarnation, so I guess its the former, but the latter is still important.

    Virtues and righteousness are activities of God, so a person properly ordered along the Orthodox Ordo Theologiae will volitionally choose to be united to Christ by water and the spirit, and struggle to attain his activities. A person participating in his activities only misses the fullness of communion with Christ’s person.

  39. comma intended between only and misses in the last line.

  40. photios says:

    Recapitulation.

  41. Hello Perry,

    First you left out the crucial pointand core of Pelagianism as I outlined and so you have left untouched the main point.

    Response: I would disagree as that being a crucial tenant of Pelagianism and thus my post would address that because I was arguing that your definition was stretched for polemical and dogmatic purposes rather than historical ones.

    2nd, Your “standard” definition is inadequate since it mainly touches the consequence of Pelagian anthropology rather than the core mistake.

    Response: I disagree. I think someone can think that man was created good in the sense that human nature by itself could have a right relationship with God and still not hold to any of Pelagius conclusions. Why? Because what caused Pelagius to the conclusions that he did was because he held to a robust version of libertarian freedom for moral responsibility and he thought other Christian doctrines were unreasonable, if one rejects these assumptions of Pelagius there is no entailment at all from the starting premise that man was created intrinsically good at first.

    3rd. The fundamental mistake that Dr. Clark is making is that he is ignoring Augustine’s oldest, mature and most extensive treatment of Pelagianism against its most sophisticated advocate, Julian. A good amount of that deals with pre-fall anthropology. Certainly the two classical representatives in probably the most important text on the subject are better sources than the ones you are using. Ad fonts.

    Response: Clark is not ignoring that because he went over that with me in class. Julian and Augustine had disagreements that went far beyond the condemnation of Pelgianism and I would include the view of man pre-fall with respect to grace one of those things that came down accidental disagreement between two men while discussing Pelagianism.

    4th. The Post Reformation debates about Pelagianism and the notion of a pure nature both between Catholics and Protestants and between the Catholics and Jansenists turned on this issue, as writers like Hodge are rightly sensitive to. Since the time of Aquinas at least there has been no small amount of ink spilled on the notion of a pure nature and Pelagianism. I’d suggest you catch up on 800 years of reading. This was no small issue in 20th century theology either. Get crackin’.

    Response: The Reformation and the other issues you have brought up are removed from the context when Pelagianism when it was originally condemned. So you can redefine things 1000 years latter for dogmatic purposes but do not expect the reasonable man to go along with it.

    5th. If Clark were right, then it contradicts your citation from the Catholic Ency (which is rather dated btw) since it mentions Adam’s state apart from the fall.

    Response: No it does not because he was saying that the pelagian discussion with respect to grace only has to do with the post-fall circumstances, not all anthropological considerations.

    6th. The sharing of this view with Pelagius is not incidental. First because it was and is germane to the debate. If it weren’t I doubt Augustine would have been so devoted to correcting Julian on it. Second, you side with Pelagius against Augustine on the most fundamental point, that grace is added to nature so that nature can’t be autonomous and monergism is precluded for Adam. (Which implies that Augustine was a synergist as well.) Third, the Reformed retain key Pelagian structures, namely the explicit Pelagian formula of reaching up and laying hold of Christ by faith alone. (Interestingly a number of Arians held that schema as well, not the least of which was Eunomius. Care to tack on some Arianism to your Pelagianism?)

    Response: Again, you are expanding definitions. I am sure that Arius believed that he had two hands and that Pelagius rejected original guilt so by those standards you are Arain and Pelagian. The lay hold of Christ by faith alone is a helpful analogy to help explain how our faith is a instrument that gives us our imputed justification, but all of this, as you undoubtedly know, is deterministic, so again this is a complete equivocation on your part. I have already responded to your points about Julian and Augustine, they had disagreements about Baptism and all those things, but for me not following Augustine on baptism either does not make me Pelagian, but I am sure by your odd standards they just might.

    7th. You confuse natural goodness with personal righteousness. Confessing that nature is good isn’t tantamount to saying it is morally righteous and is equipped with agency. That is a confusion of the categories of person and nature, flat out. Are rocks morally righteous now too on your reading of Genesis? Absurd.

    Response: I know that Perry. I was saying something different. In your view it seems like you cannot maintain the goodness of human nature because a good human nature would be such that it is intrinsically capable of having a right relationship with God, but since you reject that God does not make human nature good at creation.

    8th Augustine doesn’t think that human nature is defective per se and neither do I. It doesn’t follow that a need implies a defect. Here you attack a straw man are are explicitly anti-Augustinian. Your view directly implies that man is autonomous since he has no need of grace. Again, this is a Pelagian identification of nature with grace.

    Response: I disagree. I think you may not say you view of God’s creation of human nature defective but I would argue that your view leads to that, as I have above. I do not hold to everything Augustine taught because I am a Protestant. But one thing is for sure: If anyone is Pelagian here it is you because you reject sufficient grace and original guilt, so as my grandma used to say do not throw stones when you are living in a glass house.

    God Bless,

    NPT

  42. Nate,

    In order to make the charge stick that I was stretching the matter, you’d have to show that my grounding in the historical sources was mistaken. Not only has that not been done, but I don’t think you can do it. I’d suggest reading the work against Julian.
    Second, I think you confuse conclusion with application. True the Reformed apply or take the Pelagian anthropology in a different direction, but that isn’t exculpatory with respect to the core Pelagian commitment. What drives Pelagianism in the application is not free will, but rather the identificaiton of person with nature. Moral impeccability, as I have shown time and again here, is not incompatible with free will as the Trinity in creation, Christ in his two wills and the saints in heaven enjoy both without the possibility of sin. Further plenty of other writers, specifically Church Fathers endorsed a libertarian construal of freedom without the key Pelagian error and nothing of the sort followed from their teaching.
    It is true that Augustine and Julian had disagreements but the identification of nature and grace was a core concern, at least that is what Augustine indicates. So if you include this point as incidental, you are again contradicting Augustine and the primary sources. And if we are going to play the appeal to authority game, Dr. Clark’s AOS is in Post Reformation Scholasticism, not the early church. If we want to play stack the scholars I can cite half a dozen patristic scholars who’s AOS is this area who agree with me. Both the primary and secondary sources agree with my gloss.
    If you wish to argue that the Reformation issues concerning Pelagianism and a pure nature are removed from the context of Pelagianism and therefore have no place here, then by the same token we have to throw out all of the Reformation criticisms of pre and post Tridentine theology by the Reformers as Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian. “So you can redefine things 1000 years latter for dogmatic purposes but do not expect the reasonable man to go along with it.” Furthermore, Hodge, Van TIl and an army of other Reformed writers claim that this is one of the most important issues between Rome and themselves, so you can only claim it is incidental on pain of contradicting most of your own authorities.
    The citation from the Cath Ency includes the state of pre-fall man as a hallmark of Pelagianism, specifically #1 and #3. So again, your own source contradicts you.
    I haven’t expanded anything. I have simply tracked the concepts at work in the primary sources. Enomius having two hands isn’t quite the same as advocating sola fide, an extrinsic relation between God and man, a critical part of his Arianism which is seen in his gloss of Christ as extrinsically related to the Father. I wonder what other helpful analogies derived from heretics you think are appropriate to use in constructing a theology? The determinism is just as much a part of Pelagius since he conflates person and nature.
    You were saying something different than human nature is intrinsically righteous? Secondly, I affirm that human nature is intrinsically good, that is entailed by my insistence that it is a divine logos or energy. Consequently, humans do intrinsically have the potentia for a right standing with God. You seem to miss my point. Since you hold that a personal property is of the natural, you have conflated person and nature. I distinguish between natural goodness and personal righteousness. So no, I do not reject that God makes humans good at creation. Think of it this way. Eggs Benedict are good, but by good we do not mean morally good. They didn’t donate major cash flow to feed starving kids. You are confusing different kinds of value here because you are equivocating on the term “good.”
    Since I already refuted your argument, in no way does my view hold that humans are naturally defective at creation. I don’t know what you consider sufficient grace to amount to, but most Protestants conflate sufficient with efficient grace. Wesley, Cassian and others rejected original guilt, but they weren’t Pelagian. I don’t deny inherited corruption but rather affirm it so I can’t be Pelagian, along with Athanasius, Cyril, Chrysostom, the Cappadocians, Maximus and John of Damascus.

    So I’ll see your gradma’s idiom and raise it with one from a high school buddy. Don’t go around the block with the big dogs if you are going to piss like a puppy.

  43. Nick says:

    Photios,

    I’d appreciate a more simplified response. What you appear to be saying is that virtues are part of nature but not everyone exercises the proper ascetic training so those virtues dont ‘grow’ or manifest to their full potential in everyone. But I don’t think that works as far as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit goes for two reasons:

    1) Paul says “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ,” and this would be worthless if everyone was born having the Spirit. Also, if everyone had the Spirit of Adoption, then nobody could be damned.

    2) The Indwelling cannot be a function of nature without pantheism resulting. A person has to remain human even if they don’t have the Spirit.

    Another thing I would add is that the passages talking about our bondage to sin would be meaningless if we held our own power to release ourself from bondage. So again Divine assistance would have to come from ‘without’ to us to rescue us.

  44. Nick,

    Let me see if I can clarify for you. Since humans are made in the divine image and that is the logos of our nature. The logos is a divine energy or predestination. This does not imply that the power or potency to actualize the telos of that logos is intrinsic to us in term sof already being fully actualized at conception. On the other hand it doesn’timply that the divine power is alien to nature, in fact just the opposite. It is quite appropriate to it.

    So point 1, simply doesn’t apply here.

    As to the second point, I’d look carefully again at the citation from Maximus. Do you think that his view entails pantheism? If it does, then it is papally ratified pantheism and I don’t think you want to say that.

  45. Nick says:

    Are you saying our being “made in the image of God” is a divine energy? That would make our image uncreated.

    I can understand all this if it is taken in the sense God holds all of creation in existence and is omnipresent, but all of creation must still be ex nihilo. I can also understand the use of ‘predestination’ if it means by nature we are designed to long for and desire to move towards God.

    But if the power to actualize is not intrinsic, that sounds to me like situation where the Indwelling comes into the picture. And if that is what you are saying, then I see no problem with what I have said.

    What I don’t get is how you then say it is not alien to nature, as if you reversed your last sentence.

    Because of that, I don’t understand how 1 cannot apply here. Obviously, since all have the image of God some of those carrying the image of God can and will be damned, but nobody with the “Spirit of Christ” can or will be. So there is a critical distinction that must be made. Unless you’ve already made it and I don’t see it.

    As for looking at St Maximus’ quote again, I see the mention of virtues, but I can understand that two ways. The truth is man can have virtues like faith and hope and be damned (but not charity), so I wouldn’t say pantheism results simply by holding such virtues. If he is saying everyone has the Spirit of Adoption by nature, and to lose that makes one non-human, I would say that is pantheism.

    The image of God must be created while the Spirit of Adoption is uncreated. And those lacking the Spirit of Adoption wont be saved.

  46. Nick,
    The context for Maximus’ statement about the virtues in the disputation is at home in Christology. Pyrrhus then switches the discussion immediately to human anthropology. What triggered Pyrrhus off was that Maximus stated that the virtue of Christ’s very being was to subsist *divinely.* So the context isn’t about theological virtues or ethics per se. But rather Christ’s divinity as the virtue of man and that being natural. Furthermore, Maximus is quite clear that virtue being discussed is the logos of humanity, which is divine (Ref. Ambigua 7, PG 91:1081D and Gnostic Centuries 1.50; 58)

    The kicker that your not getting is that no created hypostasis–BECAUSE THEY HAVE A BEGINNING–starts out actualized in virtue, save Christ because He has no beginning according to His divinity. The Spirit of Christ is something that we should do naturally, it is a defining feature of what we are to be, to move, etc.

    Your objections are just the same as Pyrrhus’. You take the Dialectical principle (coming from Neoplatonism) that what is natural is compelled, but it is not on pains of denying creatio ex nihilo and a free creation.

    For Maximus, a ‘fall from grace’ is more rhetorical and metaphorical of what happens when person and nature become opposed and one no longer wills what is natural to them, resulting in death. This is why our parents in the garden died. They did not will what was according to nature, and began the process of tearing their being asunder.

    Photios

  47. Jay Dyer says:

    Photios,

    I think you are not paying attention: I said I *agree* grace is uncreated and you responded as if I denied that. You ignored the quote I referenced and cited some other quote as well as denying the St. Cyril citation.

    If the uncreated energies are not created nature then obviously there is a distinction between nature and grace. Cleary, in the Incarnation, the divine nature is not the human nature. Ergo, there is a nature/grace distinction, not opposition.

  48. Jay Dyer says:

    Baptism also seems to be senseless in this view, and its precisely on baptism that Maximus says our fallen nature is graced with divine life. Ad Thalassium 6.

    Likewise St. John of Damascus says in On the Orthodox Faith that in the Fall man was stripped of sanctification. That means a loss of something given. St. Basil defines a good angel as an incorporeal intellectual essence with divine grace. This is all nature/grace.

    Your own Confession of Dositheos uses this same framework.

    He also states numerous times that it was a punishment and condemnation from God.

  49. Jay Dyer says:

    “…To acquire the additional gift of assimilation to God by keeping the divine commandment, such that man, as fashioned from God by nature , might become sons of God and divine by grace through the Spirit. For created man could not be revealed as Son of God through deification by grace without first being born by the Spirit in the exercise of free choice.”

    -Ambig. 42

    “For them the time has come to condemn sin in the flesh: generally speaking, in the context of graced nature, began with the Incarnation of the Word…”

    -Ad Thal. 61

    How is this not nature/grace in the sense we understand?

  50. Jay Dyer says:

    “The grace of deification . . . transcends nature, virtue and knowledge . . . ‘and all things are inferior to it.’ Every virtue and imitation of God on our part indeed prepares those who practice them for divine union, but the mysterious union itself is effected by grace. It is through grace that ‘the entire Divinity comes to dwell in fullness in those deemed worthy,’ and all the saints in their entire being dwell in God, receiving God in His wholeness, and gaining no other reward for their ascent to Him than God Himself. . . . So, when you hear that God dwells in us through the virtues, do not imagine that deification is simply the possession of the virtues; but rather that it resides in the radiance and grace of God, which really comes to us through the virtues.”

    “(1) The union according to the essence: [which] is proper to the three Persons of the Trinity; (2) The union according to the hypostasis: [which] was realized in Christ; (3) The union according to the energy: [which] is accessible to all who are in Christ, subsequent to the incarnation, through which the divine energies penetrate our created human nature and deify it. This union is a union with God Himself. The incarnate Christ became the definitive place where participation of humans in the divine life is realized forever.”

    -St. Gregory Palamas

    Again, nature grace.

  51. Jay Dyer says:

    “Man, then, was thus snared by the assault of the arch-fiend, and broke his Creator’s command, and was stripped of grace and put off his confidence with God, and covered himself with the asperities of a toilsome life…”

    St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, 3.1

    “If it is true that whatever is by adoption or grace must always be in the likeness of that which is by nature and truth, then how can we be sons by adoption in reference to him who is truly the Son, if he stand alongside those who have the sonship by grace?…”

    [the opponent asks]

    B. In that case we must refuse to think or say that a man has been conjoined to God the Word so as to have fellowship in his dignity and enjoy the sonship in the order of grace; is that right?

    A. Entirely so. The mind of the holy scriptures does not admit anything like this [Nestorianism]…We follow the mind of the divinely inspired writers, and for this reason we say that the one who participated in flesh and blood is not the one who had flesh and blood as his proper nature, and could not be otherwise, but rather one who did not have this kind of existence but was of a different nature to us…

    For whatever is not a natural property, but is given by someone else as an external addition [think donum superadditum -Jay], is not the property of the one who receives it, but of the one who bestows it.” (pgs. 81, 90, 91).

    -On the Unity of Christ, St. Cyril

  52. Jay,

    I think you need to kewl it on the multiple postings.

  53. Nick says:

    Photios,

    You said that “Maximus is quite clear that virtue being discussed is the logos of humanity, which is divine” but I’m still left wondering how the uncreated (divine) can be the “image of God” that we were created in. I cannot help but see this as pantheistic. It is saying you are divine by nature.

    Also, I’m not seeing the significance of not “starting out actualized” if the Spirit of Adoption is a function of humanity already. I don’t even seen the point of Baptizing an infant is if it is already ‘equipped’ and just needs time to grow spiritually.

    The most important thing I think you misunderstood what I meant by “Spirit of Christ,” I was not talking about “spirit” in the sense of “attitude of Christ,” but rather the Indwelling Holy Spirit of Adoption (which is what Romans 8 is dealing with). If that is ours by nature, then a whole host of problems arise. I wonder if we are totally misunderstanding eachother, because you havn’t really addressed this.

    I don’t follow your objection in your 3rd paragraph.

    You concluded by saying, “For Maximus, a ‘fall from grace’ is more rhetorical and metaphorical of what happens when person and nature become opposed and one no longer wills what is natural to them, resulting in death. This is why our parents in the garden died. They did not will what was according to nature, and began the process of tearing their being asunder.”

    I would consider this comment very problematic. The fall from grace was very (tangibly) real and not closer to the level of rhetorical and metaphorical. The death was spiritual as much as bodily. And the fact infants who did not sin yet still suffer and die goes against the idea this was merely a matter of Adam not realizing his inherent potentials because those infants didn’t get the same chances. A real punishment resulted and I believe it consisted first and foremost in all men losing the Indwelling Holy Spirit of Adoption.

  54. photios says:

    Nick,
    I don’t know if I’m going to make any head way with you because you can’t seem to get out of your dialectical framing of the problem. The logos of our being, which defines how we are to be, move, etc. is uncreate. The uncreate component of my nature is mingled with my created nature by dint of my person. Being personally righteous and having the Spirit of Adoption are dependent on *actualizing* what is natural to me, that is the personal aspect of deification. You need to follow this in terms of nature and person. Your still framing the problem in terms of what is natural is compelled. Now if you have a problem with the created and the uncreate being together in a person, then you have a problem with the Incarnation, which is why you keep framing it in a dialectical problem of pantheism.

    On the sacraments or Baptism: Are you familiar with the doctrine of Recapitulation? Do you understand that it is that doctrine on which all of Orthodoxy is built on? Because I have divine potentia, and the logos of that is uncreate, means that I have to personally actualize it and make it my own (deification). In other words, there’s no deification in possessing the natural virtues of the Logos. Christ’s baptism cannot be my baptism unless I truly make it my own. Similar to music theory, baptism is like a motif, that has the ability to be repeated in another’s life (or shall we say recontextualized). My baptism and Christ’s baptism are not two seperate things, but one thing.

    Photios

  55. Jay Dyer says:

    My bad. I thought of more quotes after I posted one, and there is no delete or edit option here. I know that’s annoying. Sorry.

  56. Jay Dyer says:

    Photios,

    Why do these quotes I listed seem to frame things the way we see it? Do you not hold with the 6th council two natural energies? These energies compenetrate one another in Christ and in us.

  57. photios says:

    Jay,
    I’ll give you the quick answer: I really don’t think you understand the framework and theological scope in which those quotes are stated. You are functionally quoting an Orthodox Father–whom I have probably studied more than any other–basically like a lawyer: “Let’s comb together some quote without any theological shape or vision of what they actually mean within the theological grid.”

    1) I don’t think you understand the person-nature distinction in an adequate way.

    2) You don’t understand the ordo theologiae. What comes first Maximus’ ordo theologiae Incarnation or Creation? So have you thought about how his understanding of grace-nature works with respect to Adam or Christ’s humanity? Is it a possibility in Maximus’ theological vision to have a concept of ‘pure nature’ or an ungraced humanity? Such a thought is completely untenable and completely destroys the Incarnation. Have you thought about these things Jay? I’ll say this again, it’s all in the ordo theologiae for Maximus.

    Do I not hold with the 6th Council two natural energies? Well, excuse me, but duh, I wrote a paper on the topic dissecting the 3 dialectical principles of Monergism/Monotheletism.

    Yes, these energeis compenetrate one another in Christ and in us. I’ve said that a good 1000 times on this blog.

    For example, you quote Palamas about natural virtues and deification. Do you not see the person – nature distinction between what one has in potentia, and what must be brought about in actualization? What man loses is the likeness, which requires personal cooperation to attain acquisition, though not the image, which is the archetype of what you are to be. What you do in gaining the likeness is in recapitulation of the image. Maximus is quite clear that that gaining of the Image is not something from the *outside.* To him that is outright Nestorian-like a contiguity union. But that is basically what Romanism is left with if it wants to think of grace as uncreate (Indwelling of the Spirit), because that would have to be the divine essence, with *created* grace filling the intermediary. With such a theological makeup, you can’t say that you have a union by dint of your hypostasis with the uncreate, *I* can. Which theological anthropology is following Christology Jay, Maximus or Romanism?

    Photios

  58. Nick,

    There is a difference between the uncreated image in terms of a set and membersof that set. It doesn’t follow that if the set is eternal, that the members of the set are. This handles Dyer’s citation as well. We don’t deny a thing called “nature” but citing passages that have that word is insufficient to prove the concept that you and Jay have in mind. Word-Concept fallacy.

    The significance of not starting out fully actualized has been discussed here. See my two part post on simplicity, virtue and the problem of evil for starters. If we were fully actualized, then not only is the fall problematic but predestinarianism directly follows as well as the possibility of doctrines like the immaculate conception, which is why the latter is a species of the former.

    Secondly, it would conlate person and nature since righteousness is a personal activity. Agents who have a begining haven’t had the chance to attain it, which is why it is possible for them to sin at the begining, but not in the eschaton once they have been fixed in virtue. If they could be fixed in virtue or created already virtuous this would reduce the personal to the level of the natural, as Basil indicates.

    http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/basil-answers-mackie/

  59. Jay Dyer says:

    Photios,

    I have not read Maximus in depth, and never claimed to. I am posting these quotes searching for answers. In usual fashion, you are as a much of a jerk as Steve Hays. I’m sorry I don’t hang on every word that is posted on this blog or stand waiting at the computer for you to post your latest research paper.

    You’ll catch more flies with honey than arrogant vitriol.

    Why is St. Maximus the final, infallible authority?

  60. Jay Dyer says:

    Perry,

    I understand that one can misinterpret a word as carrying the theological baggage of a presupposition. It seems to me that on first glance what is being said is not different from what we hold. I’m still not understand where the difference lies, if I accept uncreated grace. Grace is not unnatural, or dialectically opposed to nature. We have always said it elevates and perfects. In that sense, grace is the most natural thing we could experience.

    But I’m still not understanding how it is, given Chalcedon and council 6, that if the Incarnation is the paradigm of all soteriology, the divine energies in Christ are not something “external” in that they are added to and then fully penetrate His humanity. St. Cyril says above that its added to.

  61. photios says:

    Jay,
    You told me once that you had read my paper on Maximus. Well I don’t know how you ask me a question if I believe in two natural energies and the 6th Ecumenical Council. That prompted my sarcastic comment. If that offended you, I’m sorry. I thought you were trying to mock me by asking that. These whole discussions have made me quite cynical about the issues, because I’m aware of the game that Rome has played in manipulating people in the way that they (ought to) read texts, especially the non-scholar. Rome has put you in terrible place of either being faithful to the changes (heresy) or leave what you feel is home (schism).

    I take lots of Saints’ theology to be infallible, not just Maximus–as a total whole being handed down. Not in a place called Rome, but in persons–which includes several bishops of Rome.

    Jay, you are not posting quotes to serarch for answers. You are posting quotes in an agenda to challenge me and prove me wrong. I’m trying to show you that the quotes that you state don’t fit into the theological grid that you wish to place them.

    BTW- I like Steve Hays.

    Photios

  62. Jay Dyer says:

    No, I know you hold to it, and I said that was a great paper even if I had reservations. I’m seriously trying to understand you and am wanting answers as God is my witness.

    Photios, seriously, of all the “Romanists” you dialogue with on here, who of them is working his way through Against Eunomius—a massive tome? Who of them has read McGuckin and St. Cyril? Who of them has read the Cappadocians at length? I quit caring about showing off theological prowess a few years back. You and Perry know far more than I do about this subject and would defeat me, I am sure.

    I have suffered much in taking the trek I have, and none of it is a game to me. I will change my views if I am wrong.

  63. Jay,

    Let’s start to scale back the personal remarks. I am not sure what your argument is supposed to be as to the reading habits of some Catholics. Would these kinds of lines be exculpatory say with respect ot the works of Scotus or Aquinas for the Orthodox? Poor us, those works are just too big? I don’t think so. I have no doubt that you’d change your mind again, but that isn’t germane.

    Secondly, I am not clear on why you are asking us for answers since you repudiated Orthodoxy some time ago quite publically and in a rather non-irenic way. Why not go ask your own teachers these questions. I don’t mean to be sarcastic but after all, supposedly we can’t teach anything without the pope. Whynot ask Scott Carson or Michael Liccione, both of whom are quite well informed Catholic philosophers.

  64. Nick says:

    Photios,

    You said,”I don’t know if I’m going to make any head way with you because you can’t seem to get out of your dialectical framing of the problem. The logos of our being, which defines how we are to be, move, etc. is uncreate. The uncreate component of my nature is mingled with my created nature by dint of my person.”

    I think you are right, I’m not seeing what you are saying so we are not really going anywhere. The phrase “uncreate component of my nature” just sounds wrong to me.

    “Being personally righteous and having the Spirit of Adoption are dependent on *actualizing* what is natural to me, that is the personal aspect of deification.”

    But I’m dealing with how the Spirit of Adoption is gotten in the first place. When I read your comments I get the impression the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit was not lost at the fall because without it nobody is truly a human.

    “You need to follow this in terms of nature and person. Your still framing the problem in terms of what is natural is compelled.”

    The way I understand it, the Indwelling of the Spirit raises nature, making us capable of super-naturally good works. So given that I’m not sure where “natural is compelled” comes from, I see nature as ‘enabled’ by grace.

    “Now if you have a problem with the created and the uncreate being together in a person, then you have a problem with the Incarnation, which is why you keep framing it in a dialectical problem of pantheism.”

    But Jesus was a Divine Person, the Word, and we are not, so I don’t see how you can turn this into a problem. He is uncreated by virtue of Him being God, not by virtue of Him being man. That’s also why we can worship Jesus’ human body but not that of others.

    Big quote: On the sacraments or Baptism: Are you familiar with the doctrine of Recapitulation? Do you understand that it is that doctrine on which all of Orthodoxy is built on? Because I have divine potentia, and the logos of that is uncreate, means that I have to personally actualize it and make it my own (deification). In other words, there’s no deification in possessing the natural virtues of the Logos. Christ’s baptism cannot be my baptism unless I truly make it my own. Similar to music theory, baptism is like a motif, that has the ability to be repeated in another’s life (or shall we say recontextualized). My baptism and Christ’s baptism are not two seperate things, but one thing.

    Here is where I’m hung up. Does Baptism actually do something to you from the outside-in, or are you “fully equipped” by nature? That is why I’m wondering why even baptize an infant if no genuine effects come until a time when the child has the maturity to actively engage in activities that foster spiritual growth.
    And what about the ‘forgiveness of sins’? Jesus did not undergo Baptism for that, so there is at least one significant distinction when He was baptized versus us.
    If Baptism does not actually do something, like infusing the Holy Spirit into the soul, then I cannot see it as any different than the purely symbolic Baptist “believer’s baptism.”

  65. Nick says:

    Perry,

    “There is a difference between the uncreated image in terms of a set and membersof that set. It doesn’t follow that if the set is eternal, that the members of the set are.”

    The only thing I can see “set” applying to is Divinity, and members of that “set” are Christians partaking in the Divine Nature (ie super-added grace). Anything else makes man’s nature a ‘compound’ of created and uncreated.

    “This handles Dyer’s citation as well. We don’t deny a thing called “nature” but citing passages that have that word is insufficient to prove the concept that you and Jay have in mind. Word-Concept fallacy.”

    Fair enough. I would just be really surprised if the concept we have in mind was never discussed nor entered into the minds of the Early Church Fathers.

    “The significance of not starting out fully actualized has been discussed here. See my two part post on simplicity, virtue and the problem of evil for starters.”

    I’ll read that link you posted below right now.

    “If we were fully actualized, then not only is the fall problematic but predestinarianism directly follows as well as the possibility of doctrines like the immaculate conception, which is why the latter is a species of the former.”

    Catholics believe that what you are describing is what happens when we partake in the Beatific Vision. We are so enlightened that we not only know what the greatest good is, there is no hesitation on choosing it. That’s what makes a fall impossible. As for the Immaculate Conception, I don’t see any more difficulty than creating Adam and Eve upright to begin with.

    “Secondly, it would conlate person and nature since righteousness is a personal activity. Agents who have a begining haven’t had the chance to attain it, which is why it is possible for them to sin at the begining, but not in the eschaton once they have been fixed in virtue. If they could be fixed in virtue or created already virtuous this would reduce the personal to the level of the natural, as Basil indicates.”

    Could you explain how an infant is capable of experiencing Heaven then? They obviously don’t have the maturity or opportunity to realize what they need to do. They “havn’t had the chance to attain it.”

  66. Jay Dyer says:

    Perry,

    My only point was that I am of goodwill and not bad will. That was my point about being willing to work through St. Gregory of Nyssa and others as well as trying to obtain Dr. Farrell’s works (as I have spoken to Jamie Kelley about).

    I never said you cannot teach anything without a pope and I have sought to learn from Eastern Orthodox writers and still do.

  67. Nick says:

    One quick correction for the above. I didn’t mean Adam and Eve “upright” in the sense of sound nature, I meant Adam originally having the super-added grace to their sound nature.

    And I think the issue for me comes down to whether the Holy Spirit is ever infused into us or not. If the truth is that it is never infused then my understanding as a Catholic is totally wrong. If the Early Church Fathers and Scripture teach that the Holy Spirit is not infused, then I’m totally crushed.

  68. photios says:

    Jay,
    Your the perfect guy to be reading God, History, and Dialectic. I think you would like it very much. Obtainable from filioque.com

    Photios

  69. Jonathan Companik says:

    Jay, I’ll second this. It is superb. No, that doesn’t do it the honor. There are no words. As the forward to Farrell’s magnum opus suggests, GHD could well be the most important portable university course in the history of mankind.

  70. By the way all the people you mentioned that agree with you (church fathers and Protestants) about rejecting original guilt they are pelagian as well, at least by your standards, since you agree with Pelagius on that point.

    You may have certain scholars that may agree with your definition of Pelagianism. But could you give us a primary quote supporting your definition of Pelagianism from the earlier councils such as: Carthage and Ephesus?

    God Bless,

    NPT

  71. photios says:

    Nathanael,

    There’s nothing unique about rejection of original guilt. What is unique is original guilt itself. It is new teaching and heresy. It is another example of the Augustinian confusion between person and nature.

    Photios

  72. [...] You might remember that a few days ago I linked to Steve Hays’ post in which he mocked Perry Robinson’s post about Reformed  anthropology being Pelagian in its core.  I concluded that post saying: [...]

  73. Photios,

    Well Pelagius rejected it and so do you and Perry. So you must be Pelagian. But I guess when a Reformed person allegedly agrees with Pelagius that is Pelagian but when a Eastern Orthodox does it, it is not Pelagian. How is that not special pleading?

    And could you guys give me a citations from Ephesus and Carthage condemning my position as Pelagian? You guys can appeal to authority of scholars, but I want to see the evidence.

    God Bless,

    NPT

  74. photios says:

    NT,
    Actually to be technical, I’m a “semi-Pelagian” of St. John Cassian and St. Vincent of Lerins. Just FYI there buddy. ;) I could CARELESS about you guys’ phobia to the sound of the term “pelagianism.”

    Photios

  75. Beowulf2k8 says:

    “It is true of course that Pelagius denied the necessity of grace.”

    No it isn’t! You betray the fact that you have not even so much as read Pelagius’ commentary on Romans. You are just accepting the lies of the heretic Augustine against Pelagius as if they were true!

    Behold this quote!!!!!

    Pelagius comments on Romans 3:23 “23 *For all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God* Because they do not have their own 24 *Having been freely justified by his grace* Without the works of the Law, [but] through baptism whereby he has freely forgiven the sins of all, though they are undeserving.”

    I could look up and quote tons of places where Pelagius points out the necessity of grace. But what good would it do? The Augustinians will never give up the lying and character assasination. I don’t expect anything better from them. But how dare you assist them in spreading their lies. Read the man’s own words before you attack him, not just the words of his worst enemy, Augustine (who was a heretic).

    The English translation of Pelagius’ commentary on Romans is rather pricey but worth it so you wont look like a fool by saying things about him that simply aren’t true. It costs $75 on amazon now. I bought it a few months back at $65. You can also order the Latin text for about $40 and it includes all 13 of Paul’s epistles (all but Hebrews).

  76. photios says:

    beo,
    Settle down. I think I partly agree with you. I believe Augustinian scholar James J. O’Donnel thought Augustine was heresy hunting for no reason since Pelagius was vindicated each time, especially in the East.

    But,

    What about the stuff about death in Pelagius’ book Natura? Pelagius thinks that Adam would have died regardless if he sinned or not. Celestius believed this as did Julian of Ecclanum. Orthodoxy would have a HUGE problem since we view the main problem with Adamic-man and his sin is death. Christ’s life and resurrection rescues and SAVES us from death, but if death is a natural part of being a created person, we have no need of Christ and His resurrection.

    I think we can answer in a satisfactory way that both Augustine and Pelagius were wrong about many things, and that neither of them had the answer to these questions like a Maximus the Confessor.

    And let’s be real about another thing here:

    Augustine may have had some heretical *ideas*, but no synod condemned him as a personal heretic. And that just goes to show you the distinction between speculation and dogmatics that Orthodoxy has long appreciated.

    Photios

  77. Beowulf2k8 says:

    “Augustine may have had some heretical *ideas*, but no synod condemned him as a personal heretic.”

    I condemn his as the worst arch-heretic ever. The notion that infants are born condemned to hell contradicts the very most basic foundation of Christianity and Judaism both, Ezekiel 18:20, personal responsibility for our sins. The whole notion that God is a monster who will condemn babies to hell for their most distant ancestor eating a fruit is a repugnant blasphemy and heresy from which one cannot recover (just look at the Calvinists!), so much so that I also condemn every synod that has taken place since Augustine for not condemning him. If only these synods had had the courage to do what needed to be done, we would be able to swat the Calvinists off like flies and not even have to deal with them in any depth. Shame on all the synods that came after the arch-heretic Augustine for shirking their duty!

  78. Beowulf2k8 says:

    OH! And by the way, as for the book “Natura” I don’t believe Pelagius really wrote that. It was a false book produced by Augustinians. As I say, look at Pelagiu’s commentary on Romans. See his commentary on Romans 5:15, where after he argues that if baptism takes away original sin then the children of baptized parents should no longer inherit it, he says these words:

    “Besides, if the soul does not exist by transmission [from Adam] but only the flesh does, then the flesh alone carries the transmission of [Adam's] sin and deserves its punishment.”

    So, Pelagius DID NOT deny that we were immortal before the fall! Rather, Pelagius teaches that Adam’s sin only condemns the body to death, because only the body comes from Adam. Our souls, being a new production of God created at the time of conception and not transmitted from Adam, cannot be liable to death except by our personal sins.

    Again, this is where actually reading Pelagius’ commentary comes in handy. Augustine and his buddies have made up a lot of lies about this man, including the false book “On Nature.”

  79. “I condemn him…”

    Oooh…well..ookay. I get it. Good luck with that there bud.

    Photios

  80. Beowulf2k8 says:

    Let me explain my take on what you say in the statement “And that just goes to show you the distinction between speculation and dogmatics that Orthodoxy has long appreciated,” and I think this will be my last comment on this as I don’t want to overstay my welcome.

    If we define heresy as a choice to believe something neither taught by Scripture nor by the fathers then by very definition, if someone believes that angels fly around in space-ships that is a heresy. Yet, it is a heresy that does not affect soteriology or their view of what is necessary for salvation and how salvation works, so who cares? Its no big deal. If some supposedly great theologian though angels were aliens, I can live with that: there’s no need to condemn him, because it doesn’t affect soteriology. Nestorianism, although sharply condemned with the most hateful invective, is kind of like this. Why is it a big deal that he didn’t want to call Mary “Theotokos” or “Mother of God” and that he used his little “water through a pipe” analogy to guard the divinity of Christ from being thought of as derived from Mary, seeing as how he still maintained that Jesus was both fully God and fully Man? This can’t really affect soteriology, yet councils were QUICK to condemn it with massive overkill. Augustinianism, however, is the absolute overthrow of Christian soteriology by the forces of Satan, and they seemingly have nothing to say. Whereas Christianity teaches that Adam’s sin brought death to our bodies only and that our own sins bring death to our souls, and that Christ can save us from both, and that he automatically saved all men from physical death by establishing the resurrection but only saves Christians from spiritual death if they believe and obey him;–whereas Christianity teaches this, Augustinianism teaches that the basis of both physical and spiritual condemnation is only Adam’s sin to the extent even that infants are born both condemned to physical death and to eternal death and torment in hell, prior to even doing anything! And, as a corollary, it requires Determinism, i.e. FATE, deterministic election of those to be saved to salvation and deterministic election of those to be damned to damnation, all according to arbitrary caprice that is blamed on God Himself. It requires a denial of free-will, which also undermines the very basis of Christian soteriology as taught by the Bible and the earliest fathers. So while the venerated churchmen have the political correctness to condemn Nestorius to hell for scrupling at one word “Theotokos” (even though this has ZERO affect on his soteriology) they lack the balls to condemn Augustine whose heresy completely overthrows orthodox soteriology and who was obviously in league with Satan himself (assuming he wasn’t Satan incarnate). What great men of God they must have been.

  81. Don Bradley says:

    Beowolf,

    Part of what constitutes a good churchman, be they clergy or laity, is discipline. Discipline in morals, obedience, etc., etc. Your personal condemnations of Augustine as a heretic demonstrates a lack of patience in dealing with a very delicate matter; i.e. a lack of discipline.

    Various Fathers said questionable things at times, but that isn’t cause to brand them quicly as heretics, which is a very heavy label that should be used sparingly.

    Augustine has caused me great personal pain, and was an obstacle that I had to overcome in my research of Church history and my ultimate conversion to Orthodoxy. Following the death of my infant son 14 years ago, the fundamentalism I had embraced could not bear the weight soteriologically and was forced to go. The heavy influence of Augustine in Western Christianity made a barrier that was difficult to overcome, and I really never got over it until I found St. Gregory of Nyssa’s “On Infant’s Early Deaths” (a true masterpiece).

    I would venerate an icon of Augustine, though I think the Eastern versions of him are few:) The 6th Council calls him “Most Blessed”, not heretic. I submit myself to the Orthodox Tradition, and it holds him in high esteem, though many are quite critical of him (including myself) while still maintaining his Most Blessed status. There are many of Augustine’s written works and services to the Church that are quite sound, and should be considered as a counterweight to some of his more questionable writings. When you condemn all synods since for not condemning him, it makes me wonder what authority beyond your own temporal opinions you submit yourself to.

  82. Beowulf2k8 says:

    You are wrong Dan. Augustine denies Christianity. He destroys proper soteriology. If Augustine had said “You can be saved apart from Christ” you yourself would throw all so-called “patience” out the window in condemning him. But he didn’t say that. He said that God condemns infants to hell for another man’s sin. That is in total contradiction to Ezekiel 18:20, to Romans 7:9, and to everything that Jesus teaches. Augustine is the worst heretic of all time, and Calvinism is nothing but the worship of evil being mislabeled as Christianity.

    You say “Augustine has caused me great personal pain, and was an obstacle that I had to overcome in my research of Church history and my ultimate conversion to Orthodoxy.” And then “I would venerate an icon of Augustine.”

    This shows a weak mental constitution! You know that Augustine’s doctrine is from the Evil One and can turn people away from Christianity to Atheism (or worse, Calvinism) but you will venerate the freak? Why? That’s insane. At least I am consistent, even if I am not “patient.” Where did Jesus have patience with the Pharisees when they were trying to destroy people’s souls? He called them a brood of vipers. Augustine is of that same brood, and is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But really, Augustine’s sheep-skin only covers about a quarter of his wolf body, so he’s pretty easy to pick out when he’s devouring the flock of Christ.

    “I submit myself to the Orthodox Tradition, and it holds him in high esteem” Call me silly, but I cannot submit to any tradition that tells me to hold the devil’s right hand man in high esteem. By the time that time is no more, Augustine will have sent more people to hell than Arius ever could have, so it sounds more reasonable to me to venerate Arius! (I wouldn’t, but I’m just saying comparatively, Augustine is far worse).

  83. Beo,
    Augustine goofed not because he was some insidious person or an instrument of the devil, but because of the Latin texts of Rom 5:12 that he had access to. He didn’t know what the original greek stated. But if you look at Augustine’s sermon, he’s at pains to deal with the issue as a pastor. Augustine had great integrity and took what the scriptures said VERY seriously.

    I don’t see you dealing with the issue with any prudence or care. Augustine is not responsible for how the West raised him up as the status quo for everyone Christian.

    What your saying is not relfective at all of what I have read (extensively) of Augustine, especially the man’s heart.

    Daniel

  84. Beowulf2k8 says:

    “Augustine goofed not because he was some insidious person or an instrument of the devil, but because of the Latin texts of Rom 5:12 that he had access to.”

    I don’t buy that line of argument for several reasons, two of which I will provide.

    (1) My primary translation (the KJV) has as much of a mistranslation of Romans 5:12 as he had in Latin, but not having been mind-warped in Manicheanism for the past 9 years like he was, I seek to harmonize Scripture with Scripture and as a result find that Romans 5:12 has been mistranslated precisely because it seems to contradict Ezekiel 18:20 and Romans 7:9 in its present form. I sniff out the error in translation by comparing Scripture with Scripture. He seized greedily upon the error because it was in line with his true convictions, which were still Manichean and not at all Christian. (The proper translation of the last clause is “because of which….” as I note here.)

    (2) The fact is Augustine never truly converted to Christianity but always remained a Manichean at heart. His conversion was only external and only for political reasons. Due to some fanangling by his mother, he was offered the chance to marry up and enter a higher social class if he converted, and to have a shot at power by possibly becoming a bishop, so he seized it. There was nothing more to his “conversion” than just that: politics.

  85. Jonathan Companik says:

    Photius,

    I generally sit on the sidelines here, as I have a lot of work to do before I could ever hope to saddle up intellectually with the contributors to Energetic Procession, but I had to jump in quickly here as I have struggled with the Augustine question since my conversion to the Orthodox Church a year ago. I haven’t taken an official position on this question myself, but I do have a lot of questions and doubts about Augustine’s personal status.

    You imply in your responses to “beo” that he wrongfully relies on his autonomous judgment rather than upon the Church’s judgment because no synod has yet to condemn Augustine outright. I am sure that many supporters of Origen argued this way about him post mortem during the three hundred years prior to his anathema delivered by the 5th Ecumenical Council. I am wondering how you would distinguish Augustine from Origen in this regard.

    Also, I cannot help but feel that the nature of Augustine’s “ideas” were collectively far worse and more repugnant the ideas of one or more heretics who have already been condemned.

  86. Are you kidding me? The KJV is the ONLY english translation that translates Rom 5:12 in a non-Augustinian way:

    Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned

    1) Adam sins

    2) Sin passes into the world

    3) Adam dies because of his sin

    4) Adam passes death onto his progenity

    5) and because of *that* EPH HO, modifying the substantive *death,* all men sin.

    Conclusion: Adam sinned causing Him to die and passes death onto us. We sin now because he passed on death to us.

    The KJV is perfectly Orthodox here.

    Photios

  87. Jonathan,

    That’s difficult question and I’m not exactly sure that there is a real easy way to answer it. Was Origen speculating? Was His Theological outlook free from Hellenism in any way? Perhaps the answer is no.

    Photios

  88. Beowulf2k8 says:

    Photius, I agree with you assesment of Romans 5:12. However, most people will interpret “for that” to merely mean “because” just like all the other English translations, and they will then say “If we die because we have all sinned, and infants die, it must mean we all sinned IN ADAM.” That’s why literally saying “because OF WHICH” is the only accurate translation:

    “Therefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; even so death passed upon all men, because OF WHICH all have sinned.”

    It is the inverse of the standard western interpretation, not that we die physically because we somehow sinned in Adam, but we sin because Adam’s sin made us mortal and mortality makes us think like “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” Compare with Hebrews 2:15. Part of the reason for Jesus’ death on the cross was to destroy him who had the power of death and thus deliver us from bondage to sin by removing the fear of death. Fear of death causes sin because we want to get in all the pleasure we can thinking “I’m going to die, so I best cram in the pleasure now.” But once death is no longer feared, we are able to look to the rewards of heaven and despise physical pleasure as unnecessary.

  89. Beowulf,

    I follow your line of reasoning and the conclusions drawn from it. It would seem that this is quite a consistent place to be. However, there seems to be something missing in your reasoning and hence the continuing trouble of the place of (St) Augustine in the Church. If (St) Augustine was such a heretic as you assert on a level with or above Arius then I am sure that the Fathers would have seen this and condemned him as a heretic, especially in the ninth Century when the filioque became an issue. However, this has not formally happened to my knowledge. There must be a reason for this and I don’t think that it was because he was merely overlooked, if this latter is the case then his influence on any heresy would hence be negligible, which you strongly assert is not the case.

    I possible solution may be to distinguish what he held and taught to be dogma and his explanatory framework for reasons of this dogma. This would allow one to say that there is nothing to condemn him for on dogmatic grounds, or at least only points that can be covered over such as with other Fathers, because he taught according to Tradition but his explanatory framework should be used with great caution, or rather avoided, because it contains a number of flaws. So, it is only those who come after him and who rely on his framework to develop incorrect dogma from this that are to be condemned and not (St) Augustine himself.

    There is a similarity of situation of (St) Augustine and Origen in which the later followers develop unorthodox doctrine based on their interpretative frameworks. However, I think that Origen perhaps went further than (St) Augustine in the number, if not profundity, of his errors to the extent that the Fathers knew it to be correct to condemn him personally.

    Also, your reason for condemning (St) Augustine:
    “He said that God condemns infants to hell for another man’s sin. That is in total contradiction to Ezekiel 18:20, to Romans 7:9, and to everything that Jesus teaches.”
    is suspect. Yes, he may be wrong in explaining that ‘original’ sin is a transmitted guilt but the conclusion that all sinned is still true of all including infants, but must be explained differently.

    I also think that your assertions as to what Christianity teaches are problematic:
    “Whereas Christianity teaches that Adam’s sin brought death to our bodies only and that our own sins bring death to our souls, and that Christ can save us from both, and that he automatically saved all men from physical death by establishing the resurrection but only saves Christians from spiritual death if they believe and obey him.” You seem to understand salvation as a matter of the guilt and innocence of sin, although in belief. It is not only this; it is about union with Christ, physically and spiritually in the Spirit. We need to be physically united with Christ in Baptism of water and Spirit, without which one “cannot enter the Reign (Kingdom) of God”. The need for Baptism may not be to clean an inherited guilt but there is still a need for it and I am sure that this is why (St) Augustine teaches as he does regarding infants, even if his explanation of why they need Baptism may be errant. He is not alone in view of the necessity of Baptism.

    You also seem to have an assumption that man has a right of birth to the Reign of God that is lost only when one is guilty of sin, e.g. over the age of about ten. This implies to me an understanding that man can somehow live autonomously from God. Man is not able to be perfect apart from Christ and without the Holy Spirit. We are created to be united in Christ with the Spirit as adopted sons. There is no Life otherwise. Man cannot live apart from God and His grace. Everyone, needs this union to live including infants and we are not naturally born so united but need to be united through Baptism. Even though all bodies will be resurrected this is not enough for the Reign of God, we must also be united to Christ in all aspects of humanity and this requires the rebirth of Baptism.

    Also, infants sin even if they are not culpable of the sin because our natural birth begets us in a state of death and sin; it is not only an adult condition. This state of living in sin from death is a problem that needs to be overcome to share in the life of the Trinity regardless of culpability due to maturity. We all must be ‘born again” to be freed from this state of sin and death, even if we are innocent in choice.

    Some Canons of the Council of Carthage, ratified Ecumenically, of interest for this thread and for those who doubt an historical Fall:

    121. It has pleased the Council to decree that whosoever denies the little ones newly born from the wombs of their mothers when they are being baptized, or asserts that they are baptized for the remission of sins, but that they have inherited no original sin from Adam obliging them to be purified in the bath of re-birth (whence it follows that in these persons the form of baptism for the remission of sins is not true, but is to be regarded as factitious), let him be anathema; for no other meaning ought to be attached to what the Apostle has said, viz., “Sin entered the world through one human being” (Rom. 5:12), and thus it passed over into all human beings; because of which all of them have sinned, than that which the catholic Church diffused and spread abroad every-where has ever understood those words to mean. For it is on account of this Canon of the faith that even the little ones too, who are as yet incapable of committing if any sin of their own to render them guilty of any offense, are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what sin they inherited from the primordial birth may be purified in them through the process of being born again.

    120. It has pleased the Council to decree that whoever calls Adam, the first man created, a mortal man so made that whether he sin or not he is bound to die in the body, that is, to depart from the body, not owing to his deserving this fate by reason of the sin, but because of a necessity inherent in his nature, let him be anathema.

  90. Beowulf2k8 says:

    I think the only reason Augustine was not condemned was the false hope that his heresy would just magically vanish and that paying fake honor to him as a Saint could be used as leverage to get the Romans to act properly with respect to the filoque and other similar issues. This political trickery has not payed off, so its time to condemn the heretic.

  91. Tap says:

    Hmm, i usually visit the triablogue to see posts made by beowulf, b/c he is the only protestant there (in comment section) that usually makes sense. Oh boy. Turns out he is nuts, condemning Augustine and claiming to know that he didn’t really convert internally b/c of a few mistakes. I’ll hate to see what you say of St. John Chrysostom, when you come across a writing or sermon of his that contains some error.

  92. photios says:

    Well I don’t think it makes him nuts per se…He’s obviously very passionate about Augustine for a very personal reason.

  93. Beowulfk28 says:

    I don’t have anything derogatory to say about Chrysostom except that in English translation I don’t pick up why he’s called golden tongued. Sorry if you’re disappointed. But on the subject of Augustine, Chrysostom is quite clear that infants are not born condemned. He speaks of it in at least one of his homilies on John 9, and probably in other places as well. If the Calvinists and Romanists and the rest of the Prots who nearly worship Augustine as a God would replace him with Chrysostom, I’d be quite satisfied.

  94. Sophocles says:

    Fr.Patrick and Photios,

    I refer to Augustine as “Blessed” rather than “Saint”. I have seen Orthodox use both. What is you all’s take on this matter?

  95. jnorm888 says:

    Beowolf,

    Augustine’s scripture was mostly the old Latin texts. Saint Jerome was working on a new translation of the Latin during that time (which means your KJV argument is flawed). Plus, you will have to prove that the Romans 5:12 in the King James was following the Old Latin that Augustine had…….let alone the New translation that Saint Jerome was working on. I already know that the King James used the Latin volgate(Douay-Rheims) as a reverence, but it also used the Geneva bible as a reference, not to mention the Bishops Bible, and other Bibles as well……so you will have to prove that your Romans 5:12 in the KJV was the same as Augustines’ old Latin texts.

    To be honest, I don’t think you can do this…..just for the fect that the translaters of the KJV were translating from the greek (as well as a few latin texts that were re-translated into greek). But your argument is flawed.

    JNORM888

  96. jnorm888 says:

    Beowulf,

    Also I don’t think you can say Augustine never converted. If you read his early christian works and compare them to his later christian works. Then you will see that Saint Augustine changed over the years.

    I stopped comparing his works because I was working on a rejoinder to robert Morey’s book (in which I am still working on). But I really don’t think you can say that.

    He changed over the years just like we all do. It just so happens that he changed for the worse in some theological areas. At the time, my main concern was looking at how he changed over the years in regards to the issue of grace and free will. And I can tell you for a fact that in his eary years he did believe in free will. In his middle years he believed that grace must preceed the human will but the human will still had the ability to accept or reject grace. In his later years, you start to see him come real close to an irresistible view in regards to grace on the human will.

    so no, I would say that he changed over the years, just like we all do.

    JNORM888

  97. photios says:

    Sophocles,
    I’m not sure if there is really an impact with either statement. I’m not sure we have different degrees of Saints. If you’re blessed, you’re a saint. If you’re a saint, you’re blessed. I think what people mean by calling Augustine blessed instead of Saint is that he’s not an ecumenical teacher (which he’s not). The body of Augustine’s theologizing doesn’t express the mind of the Fathers on many things. He was a better preacher (and rhetorician) than he was a theologian.

    Photios

  98. Joseph Patterson says:

    Beowulf,
    Do you read the books written by David Bercot?

  99. Sophocles,

    I agree with Photios on the use of the terms Saint and Blessed.

  100. Sophocles says:

    Thank you both.

  101. Beowulf,

    Is your opposition to the condemnation of infants because you wish to not contradict Romans 7:9 and Ezekiel 18:20, other Scripture or because you have extra-Scriptural principles of justice that you hold as absolute truth? If the latter what and from where?

    If Romans 7:9 and Ezekial 18:20 are to be taken with absolute affect then how do you reconcile that because of one man’s sin all die and all sin? Does this not contradict those verses? Is this just and fair? Do we rather need to understand something more about humanity that includes both individual responsibility and also corporate unity, such that what affects one affects all, unless one is no longer connected to the body?

  102. Fr. Maximus says:

    Sophocles,

    I believe the term “blessed” was introduced in 19th century Russia and was used to indicate a lower level of saint. Similarly, the term was used for “Blessed Theodoret” of Cyrrhus, who was suspected of nestorianizing. I do not think this distinction was ever made by the Fathers, although certainly some saints are greater than others; and the Church seems to recognize that in distinguishing between “martyrs” and “great-martyrs.”

    In Greek it is “ο ιερός Αυγουστίνος.” I’m not aware that ιερός is used for any other saint, so it seems there was a similar motivation to put down Augustine as a lower type of saint.

  103. Beowulfk28 says:

    “…how do you reconcile that because of one man’s sin all die and all sin?” (Fr Patrick)

    It is to be found in the nature of Adam’s sin not in the mere fact of his sin. If the commandment had been “Don’t touch that rock over there” and Adam had broken that, it would not have resulted in our being sinners because our being sinners is not the result of the fact of his sin but of the nature of his sin. It is only because of what his sin was, namely eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that we became sinners. It is because his sin was to give us morality, to seize upon morality by eating the fruit and to pass it on to us genetically, that we transgress morality. You cannot transgress something that is far away. You cannot cross a boundary that is unreachable. Had we remained as we were created (mere animals with speech capacity) then we would not be sinners. It is only because the serpent tricked man into become a being that knows morality that we are sinners, and isn’t that ironic? We generally assume that God wants morality, don’t we? that God wants us to know the difference between right and wrong?

    “Do we rather need to understand something more about humanity that includes both individual responsibility and also corporate unity, such that what affects one affects all, unless one is no longer connected to the body?”

    No! That is silly. Only because you want to blame the fact of Adam’s sin would you suggest such a thing. It is because the nature of his sin is problematic that it is ignored. We find God creating man without morality and threatening him with death if he ever achieves a knowledge of it. I realize this is problematic, and that is why the focus is shifted by Augustinians to the fact of his sin rather than its nature.

    “In Greek it is “ο ιερός Αυγουστίνος.” I’m not aware that ιερός is used for any other saint, so it seems there was a similar motivation to put down Augustine as a lower type of saint.” (Fr. Maximus)

    Doesn’t “ο ιερός Αυγουστίνος” mean “the priest Augustine” and therefore isn’t it similar to calling Pelagius by the title “the monk Pelagius”?

  104. Lucian says:

    First of all, poor little Augustine was indeed condemned at a certain (local & Western) Synod, albeit not an Ecumenical one. (St. John Cassian was among the attending Fathers).

    Secondly, the Greek ‘ieros’ means ‘sacred’ as in Latin ‘sacer’; which is NOT quite the same as the Greek `agios’ meaning ‘holy’ as in Latin ‘sanctus’. Sacred (sacer, ieros) means “especially consacrated”, as opposed to the more usual ‘holy’ (sanctus, agios). Mircea Eliade wrote about this distinction. [No, it doesn't mean priest, because the Greek term for that is presbyteros (though ieros is also used, but that's not the meaning that's employed there)].

    And yes, the term (rendered ‘blessed’) is usually attributed to people of dubious sanctity: Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Eusebius of Cesarea, Augustine, Jerome, etc.

  105. What synod was that?

  106. Symeon says:

    There is no such synod. I highly doubt that St. John Cassian would anathematize St. Augustine, when he cited his writings as a witness against Nestorius’ Christology.

  107. Michael says:

    Excellent stuff. Thanks for the intriguing debate, although Perry seemed to miss out on the last part of it. Would like to know what synod is being referenced.

  108. Jonathan Companik says:

    It should be pointed out there is still some debate as to whether Origen was actually personally condemned. Certain of his views were condemned, so much is established. Questioning Augustine’s place as a saint in the Church need not entail anathematizing the man himself.

  109. Fr. Maximus says:

    Jonathan,

    Everyone after the Fifth council seemed to think that Origen had been personally condemned, even if the acts themselves do not survive.

  110. Jonathan Companik says:

    Thank you for that point of clarification, Father Maximus. On the question of Augustine, a little more sleuthing and some dialogue with a ROCOR priest in another venue has brought to my attention the following from the 5th Ecumenical Council (caps mine):

    “Especially since it is manifest that our Fathers, and especially the BLESSED AUGUSTINE, who was in very sooth illustrious in the Divine Scriptures, and a master in Roman eloquence, retracted some of his own writings, and corrected some of his own sayings, and added what he had omitted and afterward found out.” Decretal Epistle of Pope Vigilus in confirmation of the 5th Ecumenical Council, NPNF2, Vol. 14, p. 322.

    Also from the same council:

    “We further declare that we hold fast to the decrees of the four councils, and in every way follow the holy Fathers, Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Theophilus, John (Chrysostom) of Constantinople, Cyril, AUGUSTINE, Proclus, Leo and their writings on the true faith”, Extracts from the Acts, Session I, p. 303 of the Eerdmanns’ volume on the Seven Ecumenical Councils…

    So, according to the very testimony of an ecumenical synod, Augustine is both “Blessed” and a “Holy Father”. And it is explicitly stated that this is so precisely due to Augustine’s humility in willingly submitting his writings to the Church to be corrected by Her.

  111. Jonathan Companik says:

    As a side note, the Church thinks it justified to condemn heretics after their death. Check out the Sentence of the Council: “Moreover several letters of Augustine, of most religious memory, who shone forth resplendent among the African Bishops, were read, shewing that tit was quite right that heretics should be anathematized after death.” p. 309

  112. Beowulf,

    You will have to condemn St John Chyrsostom also. He is quite clear in his commentary of Genesis that Adam could discern the difference between good and evil, although many in his time thought similarly to yourself, because otherwise man would be a brute animal, and worse, if man did not know good and evil, as you recognise. St John Chrysostom would find it impossible that man created in the image and likeness of God could not know good and evil and merely be like other animals. He regets any argument to the contrary and there are no new arguments today that were not in circulation then.

    He also says that the father of a family is responsible for the salvation of his family. See this connection between humans that one is responsible for the salvation of another and accountable for it. How can there be responsibility if ones actions have no effect on another; if a child’s salvation is absolutely independent of the father’s actions? Rather a child can perish because of the poor teaching of his father, who is accountable for that soul. Synergy works at many levels and we must stay away from monergism, as this post says is the problem with Pelagius.

    The tree of the knowledge of good and evil did not impart the morality to Adam rather it afforded proof and clarity of good and evil that is of obedience, good, and disobedience, evil, because Adam experienced the consequences of his disobedience. A command not to touch the rock is the same as the command not to eat of that tree; it would have been disobedience and called “the rock of the knowledge of good and evil”. It would have resulted in the same Fall.

    While we are permitted to condemn heretics we must take care lest we too are condemned for other heresies of our own. Rather we must submit ourselves to the Faith of Christ, which has been preserved in His Church by the holy Fathers and testified by the Councils and Saints. We should not seek to understand the faith from ourselves but understand the Faith for ourselves from the Fathers as they understood it, being in one mind with them in obedience as the Apostle (St Paul) teaches us.

  113. Beowulf2k8 says:

    “Questioning Augustine’s place as a saint in the Church need not entail anathematizing the man himself.” (Jonathan Companik)

    As I said before, not all heresy is damnable heresy because not all heresy affects soteriology. Augustine’s heresy, however, attacks soteriology like nobody’s business, and is the most voracious heresy I know of. He’s not just scrupling at one word like Nestorius. Now, Solomon says in Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) as a man thinks in his heart so is he (although the LXX talks about swallowing a hair) and Jesus says in Matthew 15:19-20 “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man:” and again in Matthew 12:35 “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.”

    So what’s my point? Augustine’s heresy, the idea itself, is clearly evil. Much more evil than scrupling at the term Theotokos while still maintaining that Jesus is fully God and fully man, like Nestorius. And since the doctrine is evil, and Jesus says in Matthew 7:17 “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”–how can the man who came up with such evil doctrine not himself be a bad tree who will be cut down and cast into the fire? By the Lord’s definition, Augustine is already in the flames whether we recognize it or not. But is Nestorius? He just scrupled at one word. He believed Jesus to be fully God and fully man but just didn’t like the word Theotokos because he thought it was undue worship of Mary. Is he in hell? I find it unlikely. The church condemns many innocent men but it will not condemn the one man who is most guilty. Why? Political correctness between the East and West? I can’t think of anything else, other than stupidity or total cowardice.

    “Beowulf,/You will have to condemn St John Chyrsostom also. He is quite clear in his commentary of Genesis that Adam could discern the difference between good and evil,” even before eating the fruit. He also said a father is responsible for his children’s salvation because he must teach them correctly. (Fr Patrick)

    Being mistaken and being a damnable heretic are not one and the same. And yes, a father does have a responsibility to teach his children right. But look, as I said before, not all heresies or false doctrines affect soteriology. Whether you believe Adam could discern good and evil before eating the fruit or not has little or no effect on soteriology, so I’m not too concerned with it. Nor am I am too concerned with a man scrupling at the term Theotokos when he maintains that Jesus is both fully man and fully God. But when a man teaches there is no free will and that God MAKES YOU SIN, then that is a damnable heresy. The only reason I can see that anyone would defend Augustin is that they are a closet Calvinist. Secretely they want to blame God for their sins “God made me do it!” “My sin ain’t so bad; after all, God predestined me to do it in order to bring himself more glory!” And other such foolishness. Have you seen the latest X-Files movie? There’s a pedophile Roman priest in there who makes that exact argument about his abominable sin of buggering 40 alter boys. He’s just a fictional character, but he clearly represents real individuals, and where did he or they get this soul damning notion that enables them to act so evilly? Augustine! There is nowhere else, there is nobody else, just Augustine!

  114. Fr. Maximus says:

    Beowulf,

    Two problems:

    The Church seemed to think very strongly that Nestorianism affects soteriology. Why do you get to be the arbiter of what doctrines are important and which are not?

    St. Augustine was not the only person in the world to think of predestination independently. Post hoc is not always propter hoc. Look at the Muslims, many Hindus, etc.

  115. Jonathan Companik says:

    Beo, if I’m not mistaken, you’re the same “beo” I ran into a number of years back on the Derek Webb message board (in my Calvinist days) plugging away zealously on behalf of Pelagius and Pelagianism. Do you submit to a church of any kind?

    Beo, I am actually quite sympathetic with your understanding of Augustinism as being the fount from which the major western heresies and schisms find their original inspiraation. But the (Orthodox) Church has always distinguished between the man and his erroneous ideas on the basis of his humility and willingness to subject his opinions to the bar of the Church, which has since (after his death) renounced explicitly all negative and incorrect aspects of his teaching. Heck, the Church has even since excommunicated men for promoting and disseminating Augustinian ideas (e.g., Barlaam and Pyrrhus).

    Keep in mind also, the Church did not glorify Augustine merely for writing poor theology humbly. It also recognizes the central role he played as a luminary of Holy Orthodoxy in crushing Manichaenism, the Pelagian heresy and the Donatist schism. He also lived during the Arian schism and stood as one of the Church’s stalwart defenders against this insidious poison.

    Augustine wasn’t one of the Church’s greatest theologians, but he was one of Her most zealous, faithful and effective apologists against encroaching heresy–heresies promoted by individuals who were UNWILLING to submit their judgment to the Church. That’s the key difference.

    And again, the fact that you are not interested in the 5th Council’s Decision tells me one of two things: either you are not Orthodox, or you falsely belong to some schismatic and uncanonical church which fashionably calls itslelf “Orthodoxy”.

  116. Jonathan Companik says:

    Beo, I’m just wondering if you think “homoousios” vs. “homousios” constitutes straining a gnat or swallowing a hair.

  117. Beo,

    All heresies and false doctrines do affect salvation that is why the Church is so strong in condemning them. There are important reasons why such words as Theotokos are essential and rejecting it is much more about the doctrine of Christ than about undue veneration of the Mother of God.

    The Church does not condemn innocent men. To say that it does is essentially a blasphemy. Why? Because the Church is the Body of Christ; it is Christ Himself. When the Church condemns someone it is Christ who is condemning him as the Head of the Church through the Holy Spirit. It is should be needless to say that Christ does not condemn innocent men.

    The reason for defending Blessed Augustine here is not because of Calvinism; there are other reasons as expressed through this thread and there is no secret desire to blame God of one’s sins.

    It would seem that you are thinking from a different gospel than that of the Orthodox Church because otherwise you would understand that issues such as whether Adam knew good and evil before eating from the tree do have implications for salvation. Why? Because man was created in the image and likeness of God to share in the Life of God through the Son in the Holy Spirit. If man is not fully created in the image of God then he could not share this life through union by adoption with the true Image of God, the Son. If one has a false idea of Christ’s Incarnation then one would destroy the possibility of man participating in the Life of God through Christ. If one teaches falsely about the Trinity then one makes it impossible for man to share in the Life of the Trinity. This Life is our salvation; this is our life and the Kingdom of God.

  118. Beowulf2k8 says:

    If I understand it correctly it is same substance vs similar substance. Obviously, I agree that the Son is of the same substance not just similar as the Father. But I think this matter is of so much less importance than a stance on freewill vs fatalism that it barely registers on the radar. Why do the ‘fathers’ always buckle down on the smallest of matters and condemn people for them in the harshest of terms while letting the most putrid of heretics go scott free? It is warped. Scripture directly deals with free will vs fatalism in many places, like Ezekiel 18:20, but Scripture nowhere specifically deals with the distinction between “homoousios” and “homousios,” yet somehow that subject becomes the more important one. Oh, the pomposity of human stupidity masquerading as religious authority!

    And Jonathan, I don’t know if I’m the same Beowulf you met on this other site or not, but I do maintain that Pelagius did not teach (at all) what Augustine attributes to him in his antipelagian works nor what the supposed writings of Pelagius like De Natura (clearly nothing but an Augustinian libel) make him out to teach. In his commentary on Romans his view are quite clear and nothing like how Augustine and his thugs present them. Augustine acts as if he says man can saved himself by works and has no need of grace and that man would have died before the fall anyway. But in his commentary you find what he really taught was that Adam’s sin is only transmitted to the body and only the body dies for Adam’s sin while spiritual death is wholly a matter of personal sin, and he maintains the necessity of grace (although he obviously thinks of grace more as mercy than [as Augustine imagines] as magical power to enable one to keep commandments that were impossible before).
    Keep in mind also, the Church did not glorify Augustine merely for writing poor theology humbly.

  119. Beowulf2k8 says:

    The last part was a quote “Keep in mind also, the Church did not glorify Augustine merely for writing poor theology humbly.” Humbly? Have you ever read Augustine’s vicious attacks against Julian the bishop of Eclanum? There is no book on earth more pompous. I almost had to throw up just reading the first two pages.

  120. Beowulf,

    I query whether the issue of free-will vs fatalism is any more important than the other issues raised in this discuss that you seem to downplay.

    We have free-will because God has free-will just as we have morality because God has. Neither one nor the other is more important in our being in the image of God.

    Also, God made us. He can do with us as He pleases. There is no higher standard of good and evil than God. He is good; He is the standard. If God was to determine this or that outcome or place for one then that is good for one. What right has the pot to argue with its maker? We have no right to determine ourselves. We have free-will because God wants us to share in His life and to be as He is by grace and adoption; and for this to be possible we need to be free like He is. We really don’t have much option in all this because God has predestined us for it. Our choice is to accept this Life freely to our joy or to refuse it to our torment; we haven’t a choice of some other life. Our freedom is really to freely submit entirely to God’s free will; hence the need for obedience. We have no freedom apart from this. “Not my will but Thy will be done.”

    I don’t think that there is really the free will vs fatalism dichotomy that you raise. This is probably why the issue barely registers on the Fathers’ radar. The issue is largely irrelevant in the synergistic understanding of salvation. Many western disputes, such as faith vs works that arise because of a monergist understanding of salvation, are not issues for the Orthodox.

  121. Jonathan Companik says:

    Guys, I’m really not at all clear on this issue yet, and shouldn’t have spoken so soon. The deeper I look at the question of Augustine’s actual status in the Church, the more I lean towards reserving judgment…for now.

    For example, the Decretal from Pope Vigilius I quoted is not an actual text from the 5th Council, and the sentence of the council itself as I quoted it may not even exist in the original Greek minutes of the text since…they’re missing!

    Also, we know Pope Vigilius had tampered with the first version of the text of the 5th council himself.

    Also, In the course of St. Mark of Ephesus’ dispute with the Latins at Florence, when he was challenged on a point from the 5th E.C., he asked them if they could produce texts in the original Greek for him to read since the Orthodox were not in possession of them.

    In addition, there is a good chance the texts were tampered with by the Franks as well. The modern texts we have of the council are based on a single manuscript from a Parisian library, and it is VERY DIFFERENT from the old text held at Rome, as it is significantly LONGER.

    While this does come from a ‘True Orthodox’ source, the article is very, very interesting. Take a gander…

    http://trueorthodoxy.info/con_augustine_refutation_veneration.shtml

  122. Beowulf2k8 says:

    “Also, God made us. He can do with us as He pleases.”

    He could have, until he spoke. That is, he cannot violate his word, and he says a son will not bear the guilt of a father. (Ezek 18:20)

    “There is no higher standard of good and evil than God.”

    Even he must hold himself to his word. He can’t just be capricious like you are arguing.

  123. Beowulf2k8 says:

    “This is probably why the issue barely registers on the Fathers’ radar.” (Fr Patrick)

    You’ve never read Justin Martyr or Methodius, I see. Been too busy reading the post-Augustine Roman ‘fathers,’ eh?

  124. Beowulf,

    I suggest you find a new and more charitable tone here or else find another venue.

  125. Beowulf,

    I was paraphrasing St Paul. If you think he was arguing the God is capricious then perhaps I may have been also. No, I said no such thing because God doing as He pleases does mean contradicting free-will or His own word. I said it as a reminder of the correct attitude we should have to God and that salvation is not about our ‘rights’ or even will but about God’s grace. Also, there are parts of Scripture that can be taken as pre-deterministic just as there are those that are free-will. We cannot take one verse or section in isolation and this is the point I am making; we cannot take free-will apart from God’s providence nor God’s providence without free-will. I find your position about the extremity of how bad the heresy of (St) Augustine was compared to the other heresies to be quite unjustified both theologically and Scripturally. I am not saying that (St) Augustine is right just that his heresy is not proportionally as bad to compared to the others as you argue. I would be more sympathetic if you showed a greater understanding of why the other heresies are also very bad. It appears to me that your judgements of the Fathers and Councils, that were inspired by the Holy Spirit, are a judgement of God; although I respect that you have no such intention. Your absolute stress on one or two verses is a common trait of most heretics and a ground for their distortion of the Faith. (St) Augustine seemed to distort it in one direction, your comments portray that you are distorting it in the opposite direction. The Fathers did not share what you have shown of your position and in fact condemned it also, if it is as Pelagian as I suspect. That is why they did not see the heresy that you condemn at the same level as yourself.

    The comment about the Fathers’ radar was a reflection of your own query: “Why do the ‘fathers’ always buckle down on the smallest of matters and condemn people for them in the harshest of terms while letting the most putrid of heretics go scott free?” It was not to say that the Father’s did not address this matter.

    Here are some quotes from St John Chrysostom from his homilies on Romans, that you may know, on this issue and my paraphrase of St Paul:

    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. For as the potter (he says) of the same lump makes what he pleaseth, and no one forbids it; thus also when God, of the same race of men, punisheth some, and honoreth others, be not thou curious nor meddlesome herein, but worship only, and imitate the clay. And as it followeth the hands of the potter, so do thou also the mind of Him that so ordereth things. For He worketh nothing at random, or mere hazard, though thou be ignorant of the secret of His Wisdom. Yet thou allowest the other of the same lump to make divers things, and findest no fault: but of Him you demand an account of His punishments and honors, and will not allow Him to know who is worthy and who is not so; but since the same lump is of the same substance, you assert that there are the same dispositions. And, how
    monstrous this is! And yet not even is it on the potter that the honor and the dishonor of the things made of the lump depends, but upon the use made by those that handle them, so here also it depends on the free choice. Still, as I said before, one must take this illustration to have one bearing only, which is that one should not contravene God, but yield to His incomprehensible Wisdom.

    For though the more part is of God, still they also have contributed themselves some little. Whence he does not say either, vessels of well-doing, or vessels of boldness, but “vessels of mercy,” to show that the whole is of God. For the phrase, “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,” even if it comes in the course of the objection, still, were it said by Paul, would create no difficulty, Because 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. And this he has expressed elsewhere. “Yet not I, but the grace which was with me.”

  126. This was an interesting article although the line of thought was somewhat difficult to follow. Then every once in awhile there was a statement that made absolutely no sense such as:

    “…Both are monergists, but just with respect to different ends of the spectrum-humanity or divinity? This should be a clue that both systems share some fundamental presuppositions.”

    I’m not sure how you can get from the proposition to the conclusion in that quote. But it sounds really good.

    I realize that everyone wants to be an Augustinian now but I can’t help thinking back to one Augustinian monk that started this whole reformation thing. If he had been studying the Pelagian heresy when he came to his conclusions, I might be more inclined to give this article credence.

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