Law, sin, death and free-will

“For we know that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
After having said that great evils had taken place, and that sin, taking occasion by the commandment, had grown stronger, and the opposite of what the Law mainly aimed at had been the result, and after having thrown the hearer into a great deal of perplexity, he goes on next to give the rationale of these events, after first clearing the Law of any ill suspicion. For lest — upon hearing that it was through the commandment that sin took that occasion, and that it was when it came that sin revived, and through it deceived and killed — any one should suppose the Law to be the source of these evils, he first sets forth its defense with considerable advantage, not clearing it from accusation only, but encircling it also with the utmost praise. And this he lays down, not as granting it for his own part, but as declaring a universal judgment. “For we know,” he says, “that the Law is spiritual.” As if he had said, This is an allowed thing, and self evident, that it “is spiritual,” so far is it from being the cause of sin, or to blame for the evils that have happened. And observe, that he not only clears it of accusation, but bestows exceeding great praise upon it. For by calling it spiritual, he shows it to be a teacher of virtue and hostile to vice; for this is what being spiritual means, leading off from sin of every kind’.

And this the Law did do, by frightening, admonishing, chastening, correcting, recommending every kind of virtue. Whence then, was sin produced, if the teacher was so admirable? It was from the listlessness of its disciples. Wherefore he went on to say, “but I am carnal;” giving us a sketch now of man, as comporting himself in the Law, and before the Law. “Sold under sin.” Because with death (he means) the throng of passions also came in. For when the body had become mortal, it was henceforth a necessary thing for it to receive concupiscence, and anger, and pain, and all the other passions, which required a great deal of wisdom to prevent their flooding us, and sinking reason in the depth of sin. For in themselves they were not sin, but, when their extravagancy was unbridled, it wrought this effect. Thus (that I may take one of them and examine it as a specimen) desire is not sin: but when it has run into extravagance, being not minded to keep within the laws of marriage, but springing even upon other men’s wives; then the thing henceforward becomes adultery, yet not by reason of the desire, but by reason of its exorbitancy. And observe the wisdom of Paul. For after praising the Law, he hastens immediately to theearlier period, that he may show the state of our race, both then and at the time it received the Law, and make it plain how necessary the presence of grace was, a thing he labored on every occasion to prove. For when he says, “sold under sin,” he means it not of those who were under the Law only, but of those who had lived before the Law also, and of men from the very first. Next he mentions the way in which they were sold and madeover.

Verse 15. “For that which I do, I know not.”
What does the “I know not” mean? — I am ignorant. And when could this ever happen? For nobody ever sinned in ignorance. Seest thou, that if we do not receive his words with the proper caution, and keep looking to the object of the Apostle, countless incongruities will follow? For if they sinned through ignorance, then they did not deserve to be punished. As then he said above, “for without the Law sin is dead,” not meaning that they did not know they were sinning, but that they knew indeed, but not so distinctly; wherefore they were punished, but not so severely: and again; “I should not have known lust;” not meaning an entire ignorance of it, but referring to the most distinct knowledge of it; and said, that it also “wrought in me all manner of concupiscence, not meaning to say that the commandment made the concupiscence, but that sin through the commandment introduces an intense degree of concupiscence; so here it is not absolute ignorance that he means by saying, “For what I do, I know not;” since how then would he have pleasure in the law of God in his inner-man? What then is this, “I know not?” I get dizzy, he means, I feel carried away, I find a violence done to me, I get tripped up without knowing how. Just as we often say, Such an one came and carried me away with him, without my knowing how; when it is not ignorance we mean as an excuse, but to show a sort of deceit, and circumvention, and plot. “For what I would, that I do not: but what I hate, that I do.” How then canst thou be said not to know what thou art doing? For if thou willest the good, and hatest the evil, this requires a perfect knowledge. Whence it appears that he says, “that I would not,” not as denying free will, or as adducing any constrained necessity. For if it was not willingly, but by compulsion, that we sinned, then the punishments that took place before would not be justifiable. But as in saying “I know not,” it was not ignorance he set before us, but what we have said; so in adding the “that I would not,” it is no necessity he signifies, but the disapproval he felt of what was done. Since if this was not his meaning in saying, “That which I would not, that I do:” he would else have gone on, “But I do what I am compelled and enforced to.” For this is what is opposed to willing and power.

But now he does not say this, but in the place of it he has put the word, “that I hate,” that you might learn how when he says, “that I would not,” he does not deny the power. Now, what does the “that I would not” mean? It means, what I praise not, what I do not approve, what I love not. And in contradistinction to this, he adds what follows; “But what I hate, that I do.”

Verse 16. “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the Law, that it is good.”
You see here, that the understanding is not yet perverted, but keeps up its own noble character even during the action. For even if it does pursue vice, still it hates it the while, which would be great commendation, whether of the natural or the written Law. For that the Law is good, is (he says) plain, from the fact of my accusing myself, when I disobey the Law, and hate what has been done. And yet if the Law was to blame for the sin, how comes it that he felt a delight in it, yet hated what it orders to be done? For, “I consent,” he says, “unto the Law, that it is good.”

Verse 17, 18. “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.”
On this text, those who find fault with the flesh, and contend it was no part of God’s creation, attack us. What are we to say then? Just what we did before, when discussing the Law: that as there he makes sin answerable for everything so here also. For he does not say, that the flesh worketh it, but just the contrary, “it is not I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

But if he does say that “there dwelleth no good thing in it,” still this is no charge against the flesh. For the fact that “no good thing dwelleth in it,” does not show that it is evil itself. Now we admit, that the flesh is not so great as the soul, and is inferior to it, yet not contrary, or opposed to it, or evil; but that it is beneath the soul, as a harp beneath a harper, and as a ship under the pilot. And these are not contrary to those who guide anduse them, but go with them entirely, yet are not of the same honor with the artist. As then a person who says, that the art resides not in the harp or the ship, but in the pilot or harper, is not finding fault with the instruments, but pointing out the great difference between them and the artist; so Paul in saying, that “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing,” is not finding fault with the body, but pointing out the soul’s superiority. For this it is that has the whole duty or pilotage put into its hands, and that of playing. And this Paul here points out, giving the governing power to the soul, and after dividing man into these two things, the soul and the body, he says, that the flesh has less of reason, and is destitute of discretion, and ranks among things to be led, not among things that lead. But the soul has more wisdom, and can see what is to be done and what not, yet is not equal to pulling in the horse as it wishes. And this would be a charge not against the flesh only, but against the soul also, which knows indeed what it ought to do, but still does not carry out in practice what seems best to it. “For to will,” he says, “is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.” Here again in the words, “I find not,” he does not speak of any ignorance or perplexity, but a kind of thwarting and crafty assault made by sin, which he therefore points more clearly out in the next words.

Verse 19, 20. “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it but sin that dwelleth in me.”
Do you see, how he acquits the essence of the soul, as well as the essence of the flesh, from accusation, and removes it entirely to sinful actions? For if the soul willeth not the evil, it is cleared: and if he does not work it himself, the body too is set free, and the whole may be charged upon the evil moral choice. Now the essence of the soul and body and of that choice are not the same, for the two first are God’s works, and the other is a motion from ourselves, towards whatever we please to direct it For willing is indeed natural, and is from God, but willing on this wise is our own, and from our own mind.

Verse 21. “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me.”
What he says is not very clear. What then is it that is said? I praise the law, he says, in my conscience, and I find it pleads on my side so far as I am desirous of doing what is right, and that it invigorates this wish For as I feel a pleasure in it, so does it yield praise to my decision. Do you see how he shows, that the knowledge of what is good and what is not such is an original and fundamental part of our nature, and that the Law of Moses praises it, and getteth praise from it? For above he did not say so much as I get taught by the Law, but “I consent to the Law;” nor further on that I get instructed by it, but “I delight in” it. Now what is” I delight?” It is, I agree with it as right, as it does with me when wishing to do what is good.

And so the willing what is good and the not willing what is evil was made a fundamental part of us from the first. But the Law, when it came, was made at once a stronger accuser in what was bad, and a greater praiser in what was good. Do you observe that in every place be bears witness to its having a kind of intensitiveness and additional advantage, yet nothing further? For though it praises and I delight in it, and wish what is good the“evil is” still “present with me,” and the agency of it has not been abolished. And thus the Law, with a man who determines upon doing anything good, only acts so far as auxiliary to him, as that it has the same wish as himself. Then since he had stated it indistinctly, as he goes on he gives a yet more distinct interpretation, by showing how the evil is present, how too the Law is a law to such a person only who has a mind to do what is good.”

This is a quote of St John Chrysostom on Romans Chapter 7: 14-22 (Post-Nicene Fathers Series 1 Vol: 11)

It is posted to demonstrate how the Scriptures are interpreted within the Tradition of the Church. The meaning is not distorted but carefully placed within proper bounds consistent with the logic of Tradition. St John does not just demand blind acceptance but uses good reasons to explain the meaning correctly.

This passage has some good points about human nature, free-will and essence.

70 Responses to Law, sin, death and free-will

  1. Mark Downham says:

    Perry and Photios

    Thank you. I am permanently signing off. I apologise for ‘sidetracking’ your project – it is a noble endeavour.

    Be Anointed.

    Mark

  2. Mark Downham says:

    Andrew,

    Try this and I mean this:

    Colossians 3: 2 Set your mind [and heart] on things above, not on earthly things.

    I know that can sound facile BUT if you really determine to do this I promise you will see reality unfold and open like a series of inter-dimensional boxes – at heart, it is a form of noetic and neptic discipline and then all these words will flow into a new configuration and you will experiecne ‘energetic progression’.

    Mark

  3. Mark Downham says:

    Andrea

    OK: Two questions and they have immediate implications for energetic progression, noetics, neptics, Trinitarian Kenosis , Theosis and/or Deification :

    1. What does this phrase mean in Colossians 1:20: Having made peace through the BLOOD of His Cross?”

    2. You have stated that Eastern Orthodoxy is “Spirit Filled” – how does one become “Spirit Filled” in an Eastern Orthodox context?

    The interesting thing about confusion in dealing with the Cross and the BLOOD is that there is no confusion if you truely have the Mind of Christ BUT there is confusion if you are NOT taking every thought captive into submission to Christ.

    If you can answer those to questions then I will explain why Perry Robinson became Eastern Orthodox, why he set up this website and why Monk Patrick keeps posting the material he does and what all means in relation to Academic Scholarship and Recapitualtion.

  4. Andrew says:

    Mark,

    Maybe I’m just think, but really, I can’t make heads or tails of what you’re saying most of the time. You use loaded words and phrases like ‘kenotic pneumatological cognizant noetic gnosiology’, in ways that I’ve frankly never heard used before.

    Perhaps you could throw a bone to simple laymen like myself and drop the cryptic language; or at least explain what you mean instead of assuming everybody understands you.

    This may sound snarky, but seriously, I’m just trying to keep my head from spinning.

    And one more thing: it probably doesn’t help to post 10 comments in a row. That only adds to the confusion.

    Peace.

  5. Mark Downham says:

    Do you know that Photios could actually say a single WORD and you could have an epiphany that would change your entire life…really, I mean it…it really is on the tip of his tongue, actually saying it however is what Ascesis is all about as Motovilov found out in the Conversation with Seraphim of Sarov.

    Romans 10:8a But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth

    It really is all in the Words as Maximus the Confessor confessed.

  6. Mark Downham says:

    The difference between us, Andrea is this:

    1 John 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

    This is NOT exclusive to Christian Creed, Confession or Conciliarity – John Chrysostom entered into this and he could NOT stop talking about it which is why they called him the “Golden Mouthed” because Truth like Living Water kept flowing out of him everytime he spoke or wrote – he was complelled by the Spirit to testify.

    If Photios and Perry bear witness then let them witness to the answer that was forthcoming in response to this question:

    What does it mean for Paul to say in Colossians 1:20 “having made peace THROUGH HIS BLOOD on the Cross?”

  7. Mark Downham says:

    Andrea

    There is a place in deep Noetics where even your symbols will start to communicate with you and prophesy – if you understand Neptics, the Neptic Gaze which is the Prophetic Gaze, then you will understand how John Chrystostom read Romans and exegeted the way he did – he did not just look, he saw…

    With Neptics you do not need the Hubble Telescope to see Galaxies being born and dying away, just as you do not need time to speak with Saints – you simply have to know where you are in the Heavenlies and gaze – it really is all in the words.

  8. Andrea Elizabeth says:

    Photios and Perry,

    Your witness.

  9. Mark Downham says:

    Incarnational Symbology is ALIVE – it is a living pneumatology – you are not dealing with abstract symbolism and you have not addressed what it means to make peace through his BLOOD in Colossians 1:20 – you have simply made some general observations on Sacramentalism in Eastern Orthodoxy.

    If substantive LIGHT could be seen in the Eucharist and the Baptismal Font with the naked human eye and I do not mean vague abstract categories do you not think the interst in Eastern Orthodoxy would immediately rocket?

    I am talking about the REAL Substance in Sunlight that can be seen with the human eye NOT abstract associative derivations enshrined in Eucharistic Liturgy.

  10. Andrea Elizabeth says:

    Mark,

    I’ve always liked your observations, the two places where Light shown only once is astute. I’ve only started the Disputation with Pyrrhus, but have gotten to the part about the parting of the Red Sea symbolizing baptism. It also mentions, which I’d never heard, that the wood of Noah’s Ark typifies the cross. The difference in how you and I see the Cross, Blood and Water is in our Incarnational theology regarding the Sacraments and the physical Church. Substantive Light has been physically seen in the Eucharist and the Baptismal font. I saw a picture of the latter, and heard accounts of the former being manifest to a whole congregation – though I think it was a Coptic Church, and to numerous others on an individual basis at different times. The Orthodox love Light – including the Holy Fire at Pascha at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Not to mention our theology on Theosis. I only trust the Light that the Orthodox espouse, because there can also be a false experience, which the Orthodox warn against. We don’t seek after the experience of Light as an object of itself.

  11. Mark Downham says:

    And Colossians 1:20?

  12. Mark Downham says:

    The Red Sea – they crossed through the BLOOD and the sea parted and HIS sunlight actually touched the exposed ocean floor UNTIL it was sealed up again.

    Hell – that valley of the Shadow of Death – he descended on his own Bloodline into Hell – Hell saw the LIGHT of the World only once. He descended into the Incarnation and Hell simultaneously – it is an expression of Trinitarian Kenosis.

  13. Mark Downham says:

    Alright here is a clue:

    His BLOOD is the Substance in Sunlight or an expression of the LIGHT of the World.

  14. Mark Downham says:

    And if you can answer that where are the two places in the Cosmos which have only seen the Substance in Sunlight once?

  15. Mark Downham says:

    Andrea

    If you understand something as vast and bottomless as traditional, Spirit-filled, rocket fueled, cosmic, energetic, fleshed out, lively, transcendent, illuminated, Sacramental Eastern Orthodoxy then what would you say this simple phrase means from Colossians 1:20:

    “Having made peace through the BLOOD of his Cross” ?

  16. Mark Downham says:

    The difference between Irenaeus and Maximus is that Maximus was prepared to actually speak the WORDS and they were so terriifed of what he might do if not stopped, they cut out his tongue and cut off his right hand – they thought that was where his POWER was hidden in his speech and writing – the fools – he gladly sacrificed them he was already way beyond speaking and writing about it.

  17. Mark Downham says:

    Recapitualtion is Colossians 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

  18. Mark Downham says:

    So Irenaeus and Recapitulation:

    In their recent study of patristic interpretation, John O’Keefe and RR Reno point out that Irenaeus borrows his notion of recapitulation from ancient rhetoric: “Recapitulation is an English form of recapitulans, the Latin translation of anakephalaiosis, which means final repetition, summing up, drawing to conclusion. As a term in rhetoric, it refers to the end of a speech, when the speaker drives home the point with a summary of the strongest arguments.” In applying this notion to the life of Jesus, then, Irenaeus is not merely saying that Jesus “repeats” the history of man or of Israel, but that He is “the Father’s ‘summary statement,” as well as the “Logos of the Father, the logic or purpose in and through which the whole divine economy is conceived and implemented.” Behind Irenaeus’ use, then, is a rhetorical conception of redemptive history as the speech of the Father.

    It really does all come down to words.

  19. Andrea Elizabeth says:

    Mark,

    I am currently in listening and learning mode with the content and context of Perry and Photios’ scholarship and pursuit of participation in the energies of the Trinity. After reading the paper by the Suisse guy on St. Maximus, I am drawn to read my copy of “The Disputation with Pyrrus”. As I’m currently burned out on disputations, I have not heretofore been motivated to read it. But now I discover that it is about Recapitulation and am totally energized to learn more about it. I have a lot of catching up to do, as I also want to read St. Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses, and finish his life of Macrina. Therefore I don’t feel like I’m ready to contribute on the subject of traditional, Spirit-filled, cosmic, energetic, fleshed out, lively, transcendent, illuminated, Sacramental Orthodox from ages to ages amen, ramifications of Recapitulation at present, but am curious about where Photios and Perry want to go from here.

  20. Mark,

    I’m flattered but I’m not really worthy to be included with such a list. Thank you very much though!

    Photios

  21. Mark Downham says:

    Andrea:

    GOOD.

    Right, young woman understand this:

    The words Evangelical and Protestant are NOT synonymous and the Evangelical is NOT exclusive to the Protestant Reformation.

    There are numerous Evangelicals in Eastern Orthodoxy BY their own confession and work and I will name a mere handful:

    Father Thomas Hopko
    Father Anthony Coniaris
    Archimandrite Eusebius Stephanou
    Father Peter Gillquist
    Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou
    Archimandrite Vasileios, Abbot of Iviron Monastery
    Bishop [Timothy Kallistos] Ware
    Daniel Jones
    Father Daniel Rogich

    Their approach to Tradition as Evangelicals in Eastern Orthodoxy is SPIRITUAL RENEWAL – the “Retro-Fitting” of Tradition through a Developmental Theology which is consistent with the internal pneumatology, heuristics and hermeneutical dynamics of Patristics – it is NOT Ecclesiastical and Doctrinal Reformation – it is NOT scrapping Tradition BUT Incarnationally reinterpreting it and reapplying it NOW.

    Retro-Fitting: “The application of conservation, efficiency, or renewable energy technologies to existing structures.”

    Here are two examples:

    Georges Florovsky observes in his paper, ‘St. Gregory Palamas and the Tradition of the Fathers’ – “The Fathers theologized, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus put it, “in the manner of the Apostles, not in that of Aristotle—alieutikos, ouk aristotelikos (Hom. 23. 12).”

    He also observes that:

    “The true tradition is only the tradition of truth, traditio veritatis. This tradition, according of St. Irenaeus, is grounded in, and secured by, that charisma veritatis certum [secure charisma of truth], which has been “deposited” in the Church from the very beginning and has been preserved by the uninterrupted succession of episcopal ministry. “Tradition” in the Church is not a continuity of human memory, or a permanence of rites and habits. It is a living tradition—depositum juvenescens, in the phrase of St. Irenaeus. Accordingly, it cannot be counted inter mortuas regulas [among dead rules]. Ultimately, tradition is a continuity of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church, a continuity of Divine guidance and illumination. The Church is not bound by the “letter.” Rather, she is constantly moved forth by the “Spirit.” The same Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, which “spake through the Prophets,” which guided the Apostles, is still continuously guiding the Church into the fuller comprehension and understanding of the Divine truth, from glory to glory.”

    In an article on St. Gregory Palamas, Fr. Daniel Rogich noted that “Gregory Palamas” defended the Faith of the [early Church] Fathers “not simply by repeating and parroting their ancient formulas and words, but by ‘incarnationally’ re-defining and reinterpreting their message” [see Daniel Rogich, “Homily 34 of Saint Gregory Palamas,” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 33(2), 135-156 – this is the approach pioneered by Fr. Thomas Hopko at St. Vladimir’s Seminary ].

  22. Andrea Elizabeth says:

    Mark,

    I gratefully accept your apology and bid you peace.

  23. Mark Downham says:

    I owe an unconditional and public apology to Andrea Elizabeth, I was becoming Adversarial and unchristlike. I apologise. I have given your current work a great deal of consideration and I do hold you to possess a Noetic intelligence which is difficult to capture and express in formal Academic categories of inquiry.

    Noetic Gnosiology or Spiritual Wisdom is a trans-rational category which actually receives the most sympathetic and respectful treatment in Eastern Orthodox polemics – it is a standing disgrace that the same appreciation does not exist in post-Enlightenment Evangelical fields of inquiry – which are mostly Liberal in contention and which are coming to nothing.

    In your personal Word Press Blog, which I hgave now read closely, you have clearly charted and identified an pneumatological-epistemological way of engaging spiritual Eastern Orthodox texts, which appears to have the “fingerprints” of the ‘finger of GOD’ all over the perceptual systems you are using – I am prepared to take you seriously BUT I require you to be disciplined in your approach.

    Mark

  24. Mark Downham says:

    I suggest that this discussion and this quotation from Gregory of Nyssa has adirect bearing ion this issue and actually exposes an interanl Cappadocian dialectic on the relationship of the Cappadocians to Platonic Philosophy – given their simultaneous use and refutation of Platonic Philososphy.

    The Holy Scriptures fix our doctrine, not the dialectical reasoning of man.

    “But while the latter proceeded, on the subject of the soul, as far in the direction of supposed consequences as the thinker pleased, we are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings. We must therefore neglect the Platonic chariot and the pair of horses of dissimilar forces yoked to it, and their driver, whereby the philosopher allegorizes these facts about the soul; we must neglect also all that is said by the philosopher who succeeded him and who followed out probabilities by rules of art (i.e. the syllogism), and diligently investigated the very question now before us, declaring that the soul was mortal by reason of these two principles; we must neglect all before and since their time, whether they philosophized in prose or in verse, and we will adopt, as the guide of our reasoning, the Scripture, which lays it down as an axiom that there is no excellence in the soul which is not a property as well of the Divine nature.” –St. Gregory of Nyssa, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers II V. 5, p. 439

  25. Mark Downham says:

    David

    How would you say we develop the “Mind of Christ” [1Corinthians 2:16] is it through the HOLY Spirit pneumatologically engendered, ‘quickened’ and inspired reading of Scripture or is it through our total submersion in ‘Tradition’ which clearly leans on a number of extra-biblical Neo-Platonic and Ne0-Aristotelian categories for its foundations. Eventhe refutations of Gregory Palamas against Barlaam of Calabria were still using intra-Platonic categories…

    Evangelicals consider such ‘foundations’ to be a mixture of iron and ‘clay’……

    We consider the presence of Neo-Platonic and Neo-Aristotelian categories in certain streams of Theology to be a “wheat and tares” issue – a Spiritual Warfare issue in the context of 2 Corinthians 10:5 necessitating the taking captive of every thought and bringing it into submission to Christ NOT taking Scripture captive and submitting it to rational speculative conjecture based on extra-Bibloical philosophical systems of human thought – what the Bible calls “broken cisterns” incapable of holding LIVING water.

    Mark

  26. Mark Downham says:

    David

    Thank you. I will respond as follows:

    1. 2 Timothy 3:16,17

    16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    So, to the Evangelical Mind, Scripture is a LIVING Pneumatology which is commuicable and attempting to communicate with us.

    2. Revelation 19:10 The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophesy.

    The Evangelical Mind see ALL Scripture as Prophecy and therefore a communicable form of Noetic Encounter as exegesis adnwe would NOT consider this to be some form of Neo-Platonic eisegesis which pervades and acts as the dominant pre-hermeneutical grid in the system of Tradition advocated in Eastern Orthodox exegesis which we consider to be essentially eisegetical APART from certain ntable figures who have transcended this category to acomletelyud ifferent level of undserstanding such ass Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou.

    3. We consider ALL exegesis to be a category of Prophetics and the Bible calls for the careful weighing up of Prophecy.

    1 Corinthians 14:29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.

    The HOLY Spirt illuminates eevryone who reads Scruipture with an open heart placing themselves in submission to the LIVING Pneumatology of the text BECAUSE:

    Ephesians 3:16-19

    16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

    Paul quoted from David and I was referring to Davidic Prophecy and I do NOT consider this to be aform of rational eiesegis.

    David, you need to pause and distinguish between the man who GOD will NO LONGER hold his sins against hima nd the MAN whom GOD will NEVER hold his sins against him.

    YOu may wish to reread this text ‘Original Sin According to St. Paul’
    by Fr. John S. Romanides:

    http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/frjr_sin.aspx

    “On the contrary, nature was subjected to vanity and corruption by the devil,[62] who through the SIN AND death of the first man managed to lodge himself parasitically within creation”

    Sin is the progenitor of Death in the systematic theology of this paper by Fr. John S. Romanides.

    So, what do I think of your work so far:

    I like your exploration of the problem of intrinsic corruption in the fallen created order and I consider this to have been ‘exegetically REVEALED to you by the HOLY Spirit in your reading of Scripture and associated responsible commentaries on the matter.

    Mark

  27. David Richards says:

    Mark:

    First, where does the Bible say that our exegesis should be to pray for the Holy Spirit to illuminate the text and then to publish our exegesis for a collective “weighing up”? This is just as much an extra-biblical assumption as anything, since Scripture does not detail this exactly but it must be extracted from the text. Also, it is highly subjective and begs a lot of questions. Why should the Holy Spirit illuminate individuals apart from their participation in the prayer and worship of an identifiable historical ecclesial formation such as the Orthodox Church and why should their ‘illumination’ go against the teaching of such bodies? When there are a smattering of different beliefs to choose from as there are in evangelicalism, each with its unique emphasis, some to the mutual exclusion of others, how do we “weigh these up”? The process would be purely subjective and rational.

    Second, I believe your reading of Romans 4:6-8 as referring to a messianic prophesy is unwarranted. It is eisegesis. See what the Apostle writes directly before the passage which you cite (3:28-4:8):

    “Therefore we reckon a man to be justified by faith without the works of the law. Is He God of the Jews only? And is he not also of the nations? Yes, of the nations also, since it is one God Who shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make the law to no effect through faith? May it not be! But we establish the law.

    “What then shall we say that Abraham our father hath found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath a subject of boasting, but not in reference to God. For what saith the Scripture? ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who worketh, the reward is reckoned not according to grace, but according to debt. But to him who worketh not, but believeth on Him Who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness, even as David also declareth the pronounced blessing of the man whom God reckoned righteousness apart from the works: ‘Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord in no wise shall reckon sin.'”

    The man to whom the Lord in no wise shall reckon sin is NOT a reference to Christ as the context makes abundantly clear. And I fail to see how this goes on to support your contention, which is the third thing, that death is not the progenitor of sin. Simply asserting it does not unravel the passages I cited and the logic I used, which was the logic of the Fathers. I recommend you pick up Fr. John Romanides’s The Ancestral Sin. He deals with this complex issue there.

  28. Mark Downham says:

    I apologise to the forum for this string of wild and surreal commentaries I seem to be inciting, of what appear in part to be imaginary and fantastic events and sequences and I feel responsible for these ‘hysterical outbursts’ and so thanks for the interest. Signing off.

    Mark

  29. Andrea Elizabeth says:

    The man who lead me to Orthodoxy, Unworthyseraphim, from crosswalk.com, introduced me to Orthodox Psychotherapy long before you called me out on that same forum. I was lead into conversations with you when my ego was inflated by your complementing my ‘fierce noetical brilliance and genius’ on your thread about Soaking Prayer in which you promoted the Toronto Blessing, which I later found out induces ‘holy laughter’ and laying in fetal positions on the floor at church.

    What charismatics mean about being energized by the Spirit is different than what Orthodox mean and it took me too long to figure that out as I had little exposure to Charismatic circles previously.

  30. Mark Downham says:

    David

    I am interested in your treatment of Hebrews 2 and your statement that “we sin on account of death” – would you be prepared to extrapolate on this and explicate this statement?

    Mark

  31. Mark Downham says:

    Monk Patrick

    The source reference material is:

    ‘Orthodox Psychotherapy’: Chapter III:

    Section 1: The Soul

    Sub Section 2: ‘Sickness and dying of the soul’

    When I was originally in conversation with Andrea Rovny, I introduced her to this book as I considered it appropriate material in the light of her Eastern Orthodox confession.

    We woud simply place the material in a pneumatological category rather thana psychotherapeutic category in the light of the claims and nuances of secular psychotherapy.

    Mark

  32. Andrea Elizabeth says:

    No Mark, I typed it in myself from my hardcopy of the book and know you copied and pasted it because I added the brackets around, [in Greek].

    And how is he aware of your treatment, which is always remixed, of his work? You said earlier on this blog that Archimandrite Sophrony is also aware of your views. How is this so?

    You have criticized Orthodox asceticism on many occasions and to varying degrees, most commonly characterizing Athonite spirituality as leading to neurosis, and then you go around quoting the great ascetics. The only way to keep the cake is to not eat it, except under Orthodox guidance in the Church. Cafeteria style picking and choosing leads to impenetrable confusion, at which you excel.

  33. Mark Downham says:

    No-one has been excoriated in their pursuit of the HOLY Spirit and I am familiar with the work of Metropolitan Hierotheos S. Vlachos of Nafpaktos and I believe he is aware of my treatment of his text ‘Orthodox Psychotherapy’ as a category of ‘Heart Pneumatology’:

    The material used has been taken from this weblink:

    http://www.vic.com/~tscon/pelagia/htm/b02.en.orthodox_psychotherapy.000.htm

    Ouspensky finally decided that he could no longer understand Gurdieff and there are certain statements and claims in relation to ‘Orthodox Psychotheraphy’ which I can no longer understand UNLESS the Ascetic disciplines involved are clearly linked to the acquisition of the HOLY Sprit ion line with e pastoral directions of Seraphim of Sarov.

  34. I see Mark copied my blog entry reference to Orthodox Psychotherapy even though he condemned my choice of this route above. Just wanted to site the source.

  35. Mark Downham says:

    Monk Patrick

    Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos wrote this:

    In the teaching of the Apostle Paul the ‘dead’ man is called ‘carnal’ or ‘unspiritual’. In his letter to the Corinthians he writes: “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2,14). He also writes: “While there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not carnal, and behaving like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3,3) According to Prof. John Romanides the words used for ‘unspiritual’ (psychikos) and ‘carnal’ (sarkikos) and ‘behaving like mere men’ have the same meaning. (The Ancestral Sin, [in Greek]) In another place in his book he writes: “The carnal and unspiritual man is the whole man, soul and body, who lacks that energy of the Holy Spirit which renders one incorruptible. “When a man does not follow the Spirit, he is deprived of God’s life-giving energy and is rendered unspiritual”.

    I cannot find any reference to the necessity of the HOLY Spirit in your missives above in your call for us sto strive to the limits of our own energies….

    How do you prevent this outcome in your system of ascetics:

    “When a man does not follow the Spirit, he is deprived of God’s life-giving energy and is rendered unspiritual”.

    Mark

  36. Mark Downham says:

    David

    Excellent, but how about this?

    Does Biblical Exegesis have to start with extra-Biblical assumptions? What if our primary assumptions werer to pray and allow the HOLY Spirit to illuminate the text and then publish our exegeses for our collective “weighing up”.

    I did NOT say one single verse was the substance of a Hermeneutic BUT that the existence of that verse alone requires aninterriogation of the Pre-Hermeneutical grid used by Monk Patrick.

    In dealing with Death in the Cosmos this emanates from the satanic rebellion against the Life of the World – in being incarnated, Jesus experienced physical ageing….so his Communion and Identification with us was total – He took on our flesh through being slain before the creation of the world and the Crucifixion deals with death because Jesus in carrying all the sines of the world is the man whose sin GOD will NEVERE count against Him :

    Romans 4:6-8

    6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
    7″Blessed are they
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
    8Blessed is the man
    whose sin the Lord will never count against him

    David was prophesying about the Work of the Cross and the sinlessness of the LORD Jesus Christ in becoming sin for us.

    Sin necessitates death BUT death is NOT the progenitor of sin.

    Mark

  37. David Richards says:

    Mark,

    If I may add my two cents.

    But the sting of death is sin and through the resurrection of Christ the sting of death is taken away – 1 Corinthians 15. Sin may have caused death, both spiritual and physical, but this death perpetuates sin and it is only by abolishing death that Christ puts an end to the reign of sin altogether, like a flow of water which has been cut off at the source. The Apostle Peter teaches the same in Acts 2 when he proclaims that Christ “loosed the throes of death … inasmuch as it was not possible for Him to be held by [death].” Hebrews 2 is also clear that Satan rules the world through the fear of death and taken together Scripture consistently affirms that we sin on account of death. Sin is often the manifestation of spiritual decay, analogous to flies which swarm around rotting meat. It is therefore symptomatic of a deeper problem – corruption.

    A mere infraction requires only the forgiveness of God to heal, but our fallen nature with its disordered passions needed to be set straight from the inside out. The death of Christ is significant first because Christ did not inherit death like the rest of us and second because Christ had no sin for which death would have been the necessary consequence. Add to this that He had united His crucified flesh to His divine person. The crucifixion therefore destroys death because the death of Christ was found to be unjust rather than deserved – it did not compute, so the whole program as it were shut down; because we are no longer ruled by and live our lives in the fear of death, the destruction of sin follows as well. I would also like to point out that you cannot base your hermeneutic on a single verse let alone any verse. Biblical exegesis in fact is bound to start with extra-biblical assumptions.

  38. Mark Downham says:

    Photios

    “All beings, although they have come forth from nothing according to the will of God and in appropriate time, have their λόγοι, reasons, preexistent eternally within the one Logos, i.e. within God(11). Each one was made according to a corresponding reason, its logos, which defines its genesis and its essence. From this origin, creation dynamically rushes to its completion.” – From: Felix Heinzer – Christoph Scönborn (ed.), Actes du Symposium sur Maxime le Confeseur (Fribourg, 2-5 september 1980), Éditions Universitaires, Fribourg Suisse, 1982.

    And if you could open your mouth what would you say first….given that you would be speaking to the Ontological DNA of the Universe….it really is all a matter of WORDS.

    Mark

  39. Mark Downham says:

    Photios

    You have asked about the difference between Irenaeus and Maximus the Confessor – they both employed Orthodox Christian Cosmology, Christology and Theandric Anthropology.

    The difference between them is in the way Maximus understood all created beings, the entire Cosmos as “resonating Logoi” – Logoi resonating to the LIVING Act of creation – those “let there be WORDS” – Logoi in Maximus are not just the design templates of the Ontological DNA of the Universe – they resonate to Trinitarian Intentionality – that act of speaking things into BEING – they are an expression of the deposited and posited Divine Logos – the image of the Divine in creation and that is important in understnading hte implications of Revelation 19:10 in a Cosmic way:

    The [Cosmic] Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.

    If we know that then we can speak into the real essence and nature of ALL created things in a Prophetic way and rearrange their inscapes so their essential rightness increases and Maximus saw this.

    Mark

  40. Mark Downham says:

    Monk Patrick

    I have gone through your “Pre Hermenutical Grid” for reading Scripture and its implications carefully and I would still adopt sin as the primary category in dealing with Redemptive Soteriology and not death…BECAUSE:

    Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man SIN entered into the world, and death THROUGH SIN, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned

    Do you understand why on the strength of this verse alone, I would interrogate the properties of your pre-hermeneutical grid?

    Mark

  41. Mark Downham says:

    Monk Patrick

    We must exerecise our Faith to the extent of the UNLIMITED energies of the HOLY Spirit in us…I understand your frustrations and striving for Righteousness….Exercising your own enenrgies to achieve this will wear you out and make you very vulnerable to satanic attack, what John Climacus called “lapses” and failure…YOU have to choose, your own energies or the energies of the HOLY Spirit which are powerfully at work in us when we choose to believe and receive ….the purpose of the ascetic disciplines is to tread on all “distractions”….

    Mark

  42. Mark Downham says:

    The thing is Perry, Augustine also developed the Doctrine of Guilt over his incapacity to understands the Sufficiency of Grace which is revealed through Faith….there are people who have become narcotically addicted to a form of libidinal and sexual witchcraft and it will take more than Tradition and Doctrine to set the Captives free….his Egyptian Girlfriend had literally cast a spell on him….

  43. Mark Downham says:

    Perry

    I have given a great deal of thought to your present condition and theological position and ratheer than engage in a series of detailed refutations and exegetics I have decided to respond this way:

    Augustine had a Beautiful Egyptian girlfriend – she was beautiful – great sex. He was libidinally addicted. GOD said to him, “give her up and follow me wholeheartedly.”

    Augustine replied, “LORD make me a chaste man BUT not just yet…”

    GOD said: “Augustine, RIGHT NOW…”

    Augustine said: “I cannot, YOU will have to do this for me, I do NOT have the strength of CHristian Will to give her up…”

    So. GOD did and Augustine wrote his Doctrine on Grace and how the original Adamic sin is communicated through sexual concupiscience.

    Mark

  44. Also, sin is the result of our poor free choices and not a thing in itself.

    All that to get to understanding that you and St. Chyrsostom and Paul are all saying it is our choosing sin, which is sort of confused with willing and wanting, and not the fault of the law, our flesh, or our natural souls.

    I don’t think St. John addresses as much here how we overcome our concupiscence.

  45. Monk Patrick,

    I’m thinking kids in England don’t have the same summer break as U.S. kids do. Thanks for your time.

    You state,

    Our flesh, although good lacks the power to perform works to the perfection of God; we always fall short of His perfection.

    Against Photios’ better judgment, I’m still stuck on the why of sinning.
    One of my favorite parts of the homily was,

    still this is no charge against the flesh. For the fact that “no good thing dwelleth in it,” does not show that it is evil itself. Now we admit, that the flesh is not so great as the soul, and is inferior to it, yet not contrary, or opposed to it, or evil; but that it is beneath the soul, as a harp beneath a harper, and as a ship under the pilot.

    St. Chrysostom seems to exonerate the law and the flesh, and blames the soul as the pilot of the ship. Earlier I thought he also exonerated the will and attributed sinning to a higher power, compulsion, that we are compelled to sin. But now I’m getting ‘dizzy’ rereading this part,

    For if it was not willingly, but by compulsion, that we sinned, then the punishments that took place before would not be justifiable. But as in saying “I know not,” it was not ignorance he set before us, but what we have said; so in adding the “that I would not,” it is no necessity he signifies, but the disapproval he felt of what was done. Since if this was not his meaning in saying, “That which I would not, that I do:” he would else have gone on, “But I do what I am compelled and enforced to.” For this is what is opposed to willing and power.

    So he’s saying that Paul’s not saying we sin by compulsion. Regarding the will:

    I praise the law, he says, in my conscience, and I find it pleads on my side so far as I am desirous of doing what is right, and that it invigorates this wish For as I feel a pleasure in it. Do you see, how he acquits the essence of the soul, as well as the essence of the flesh, from accusation, and removes it entirely to sinful actions? For if the soul willeth not the evil, it is cleared: and if he does not work it himself, the body too is set free, and the whole may be charged upon the evil moral choice. Now the essence of the soul and body and of that choice are not the same, for the two first are God’s works, and the other is a motion from ourselves, towards whatever we please to direct it For willing is indeed natural, and is from God, but willing on this wise is our own, and from our own mind.

    It seems desiring and willing are overlapping things. I want vs. I choose. Then it becomes a matter of choosing what we want, what is right and from God, and that is what we need help with. Developing the habit of doing what is natural, instead of what is immediately pleasurable or to our selfish advantage, which you bring out,

    We cannot be saved by our works because they are completely lacking in power to manifest the true Life of God, within which is our salvation. Only with God’s grace can we achieve this. This does not mean our works are bad. Thus even atheists, at a human level, can be of great virtue but this will not save them. However, the Fathers warn that often a motive of pride or otherwise may in effect make this virtue of no effect in any case.

    I really like how you say,

    We must live virtue, as God does, not only admire it. We must exercise our faith to the limit of our energies, we are created in God’s image in Christ and our energies are distinct but not opposed to God’s, thus showing we truly love and desire the virtues and then God synergises our limited energies with Himself and the Saints transcend human virtue, freely without compulsion and God’s work becomes theirs and they continue to exercise God’s energies as their own. They receive and manifest the life of God and His energies, prophecy, knowledge, miracles and healing. This does not come immediately to all but to those exercised in the life of God. Exercising energies takes effort; it is a struggle but we must struggle to our limits when we discover that we are struggling beyond our limits in the Grace of God, His way is easy, His burden is light.

    I think the hardest struggle is giving up on my own agenda (I’m the authority, glory to me, I get the lion’s share, attention, head of the table, etc), surrendering, and saying yes to God’s, which also involves action as you say. But the hardest part is stopping the momentum in one direction, and turning around. Then I think God’s grace makes it like rolling down hill.

    I may not have formatted this right.

  46. Mark and Andrea,

    There are much better monks than myself from whom to gain an understanding of the ascetic life but nevertheless, I will try to put some form of answer here as a starter.

    In connection with the thread on “A good question”, virtue begins with the will but must be completed in act. It requires the use of our energies, which we must use to the extent of their powers. These energies are synergised with God, who makes the work His own and our own thus uniting us with and in Himself, being in us. Our flesh, although good lacks the power to perform works to the perfection of God; we always fall short of His perfection. We cannot be saved by our works because they are completely lacking in power to manifest the true Life of God, within which is our salvation. Only with God’s grace can we achieve this. This does not mean our works are bad. Thus even atheists, at a human level, can be of great virtue but this will not save them. However, the Fathers warn that often a motive of pride or otherwise may in effect make this virtue of no effect in any case.

    Even though our works fall far short of the mark we must own the works of God as our own freely. This means working the works by faith; faith without works is dead. We must live virtue, as God does, not only admire it. We must exercise our faith to the limit of our energies, we are created in God’s image in Christ and our energies are distinct but not opposed to God’s, thus showing we truly love and desire the virtues and then God synenergises our limited energies with Himself and the Saints transcend human virtue, freely without compulsion and God’s work becomes theirs and they continue to exercise God’s energies as their own. They receive and manifest the life of God and His energies, prophecy, knowledge, miracles and healing. This does not come immediately to all but to those exercised in the life of God. Exercising energies takes effort; it is a struggle but we must struggle to our limits when we discover that we are struggling beyond our limits in the Grace of God, His way is easy, His burden is light.

    Asceticism is the overcoming of the problems that St Paul and St John are dealing with above. It is a struggle and a voluntary suffering to bring the body into its proper place as a instrument of the soul and not the master of the soul. Those caught in sin realise they are trapped in slavery to it in a never ending battle trying to please the body with pleasures that return ever decreasing satisfaction. Hence, sin rises quickly to ever greater depravity. In learning to endure pain one learns to overcome this chasing of pleasure and thus bring the soul back into control and to freedom in the Spirit. Thus one can exercise the virtues fully in synergy with God, freeing themselves from the limits of the flesh. Buddhist monks know the way of asceticism but denying the synergy of God leaves their work incomplete and they fail to transcend the human condition. Asceticism as an end in itself is no benefit to us but, within the context of faith, love, humility and the Mysteries in Grace, it is of immense benefit and for all people to the extent of their abilities. God is not interested in how great a feat of asceticism we have, He gave us the strength in the first place, but that we are freely willing to completely live His life as our own.

    Salvation isn’t some magic or legal statement but the unification of our lives with God in synergy. All of our mind and acts must be exercised by ourselves in harmony with God. We must own the virtue to the end not just in the beginning.

    Also, sin is the result of our poor free choices and not a thing in itself. Death is the condition that makes us susceptible to sinning and unable to live the perfect life of God, but it is not a necessary cause of sinning, which is of our free choice. Sin is not the cause of our condition but a result of our condition. Death brings in passions not sin. One can have passions and not sin. Note: one cannot inherit sin; it is not something that can be inherited but the result of personal choices.

  47. Mark,

    I don’t see any conceptual differences between Maximus the Confessor and Irenaeus on their views of the cosmos, anthropology, and christology.

    Photios

  48. Mark Downham says:

    Perry

    I have to dash, I would like to reflect on your comments further and respond or not as you wish.

    Thanks for the interest.

    Mark

  49. Mark Downham says:

    I agree essence and will are not identical in human beings BUT not in dealing with Trinitareauiin Intentionality.

    I agree that the human spirit and the related categories of soul are not totally depraved and retain the capacity for election.

    I would approach carnality and the passions differently and we would emphasise SIN as the primary category and NOT death – although your categories are interesting.

    I am very interested in the treatment of the relationship between engergies and sin _ I would like to discuss this with you.

    We would NOT treat flesh as essence BUT as form – essence for us is the Incarnation and so it is located in the substance of the NEW Post Resurrection humanity of Jesus.

    I am interested in the differentiation of the natural and the gnomic will – the Gnosiology of the Gnomic Will for us is pneumatologically informed and governed by a renewed heartlife.

    I disagree about Maximus the Confessor – he way ahead of Chrystostom, the Cappadocians, Symeon the New Theologian Gregory of Palamas and ALL the others – his understanding of the Cosmos and LOGOI is still radical.

  50. Mark,

    The false Lutheran dialectic between Law and Gospel simply won’t wash here. Its polemic against Roman Augustinianism alone is a rather bad caricature based on Ockhamism. Everyone agrees that without grace ascesis is worthless. Not only Paul was blameless before the Law but many Old Testament saints were as well, for as Paul says, Love fulfills the law and God’s love is poured forth into our hearts. (Rom 13:10, 5:5) I think you need to start by understanding Augustine first and how Augustine’s doctrine of synergism is not Pelagianism. Then you will be in a better position to appreciate Orthodox teaching concerning grace and ascesis, primarily through the doctrine of recapitulation.

    Moreover, the reading of OT Judaism as some form of crass Pelagianism is rather controversial and by no means garners widespread assent among scholars. Moreover, the reading of the NT language about the work of the Trinity as an exchange of desires seems problematic for the following reasons. Desires aren’t causes since they are states and states cause nothing. Even if I had new desires the problem are the decisions I make relative to some goal. And ascesis is hardly an act of the human will alone, which is why Orthodoxy is synergistic just as the two wills in Christ co-operate without subordination.

    As for Paul Romans 7, I take him to be speaking collectively of Israel subject to death and corruption prior to the advent of Messiah. Reading Chrysostom as some proto-Lutheran is not only anachronistic but rather absurd. There are common elements across the theological spectrum onerning failure (and success) in “progressive sanctification” but that doesn’t mean that Chrysostom was an evangelical by any stretch. Moreover, Paul makes clear in Romans 7 that his problem is not that he doesn’t desire to do the good, which he does in fact will and not only desire, but that he can’t accomplish it. It is not that he can’t make the shot, but that all of his arrows fall short because of a lack of divine power and glory. (Rom 2:7, 3:23) Trying to play “gotcha” and “shotgun” here really isn’t worth it, so I ask that you stop doing so and stop trying to convert Orthodox to evangelicalism. There are plenty of other venues for that.

    As for “evangelical” Anglicanism, at least what I am familiar with as a cradle Anglican was rather liberal, favoring or at least indifferent to heresies like the ordination of women. I’d say that you should spend your time evangelizing your own collapsing church rather than throw stones at the Orthodox, to whom many of your co-religonists are now considering membership as the Anglican ship fractures and sinks after a long period of being capsized.

  51. Mark Downham says:

    Father Patrick

    Thank you.

    I am interested in tthe Gnosiology used by John Chryssotom in his ‘reading’of Paul BUT I would be interested to see how you take the text and put the struggle of Ascetic Observance and Freewill in Conversation with each other in the context of Tradition if the Natural Willa dn the Gnomic will are at war with each other.

    Mark

  52. Mark,

    I will respond to your replies later when I have a chance to rest a little after a day of managing high school students. (A real ascetic exercise or rather suffering for my many sins. :))

    The point of the post was mainly to show how the number one interpreter of St Paul deals with the Scriptures. St John continual places the Scriptural writings within the context of Tradition, such as the preeminence of free-will e.g. “‘that I would not,’ not as denying free will, or as adducing any constrained necessity”. He takes phrases and shows how they are to be understood within Tradition and not taken to the possible meanings of the phrase itself, a problem for those who read Scriptures apart from the Tradition; they have great difficulty in how to properly limit and contextualise the meaning of the Scriptures (not only within the Scriptures themselves) and they may take a “clear” text as the standard for the meaning of other texts without realising the misunderstood clarity of the “clear” text.

    This passage also adds some extra light from a Father on matter in earlier threads, such as essence and will are not identical, that inherited death is the main issue not original sin. That the will or mind is not totally depraved but retains its freedom to chose between good and evil, the flesh is not evil nor our nature but the exorbitant use of the passions, that came in with death, causes sin. He also understands the difference between essence and energies because sinful actions (which are the result of the use of our energies) from ourselves are not to be attributed to the essence of the flesh. Also, he distinguishes between natural will and ‘gnomic’ will. These latter points show that St Maximus and St Palamas were not developing any new doctrine but clarifying the terminology and meaning of doctrines always known and present in the Tradition of the Church.

    More answers to your particular questions later, God willing.

  53. Mark Downham says:

    Joseph

    I come from a long line of Anglican Puritans and Evangelicals – my Gather and Brother are Anglican Evangelical Vicars and my Brother and myself are “affiliated” with the Evangelical -Charismatic Tendency in the Church of England, which finds concrete and vivifying expression in the HOLY Trinity Brompton network of Churchjes and relationships, the founding Church of the Alpha Course.

    I have corresponded with Tom Wright in the past and he has written some excellent material.

    My areas of interest are Prophetics, Pneumatology, Christology, Cognition, Perceptual Alteration and Eremetics.

    In the LORD Jesus Christ.

    Mark

  54. Joseph says:

    Mark,

    Sorry, I have to work. The only place I have internet access is at work.

    But, on a side note, you keep speaking for “Evangelical Christianity” and what it does and does not adhere to. To be quite frank with you, I’ve never heard anyone, Evangelical or otherwise, who talks like you. Who are you affiliated with? These discussions you are generating are quite interesting, and I’m sure that many here who aren’t familiar with you would like to know what you are up to, not that we may assume things about you, but that you may be more intelligible.

    As for Tom Wright, I personally believe he is about the closest thing to Orthodox Christianity on the protestant scene today. He’s far off, but the closest nonetheless.

  55. Mark Downham says:

    Father Patrick

    I was already aware of this website and I did enter into discussions wiht Andrea Rovny in the past, after receiving her solicitations and made it clear from the beginning that I was an Evangelical – she has elected to pursue a series of treatments using Eastern Orthodx psycho-therapeutics and I NO LONGER accept any responsibility for her behaviour, outbursts or style of discussion.

    You are all cognisant of my Evangelical Confession and we have had some vivifying and challenging discussions and I am grateful for the dialogue – Ia m sorry that you ahve had to witness this type of distressing outburst and I am still interested in hte flow of the serious discssion and engaging intelligent and informed comment.

    Mark

  56. Andrea Elizabeth says:

    Mark,

    Baiting does not become us.

    To all,

    I used to be involved in conversations with Mark Downham and eventually through increasing negative reinforcement, and through the advice of my Priest, my husband, and every other Orthodox person on crosswalk.com and christianforums.com, I finally overcame my addiction to trying to defend myself and the Orthodox Church, as well as trying to convert him to my point of view. Lord have mercy, and please forgive me for inadvertantly providing him a link to this site. I don’t advise on what you all should do though. Just confessing my failings.

    The chiefest of sinners,
    Andrea

  57. Mark Downham says:

    On a more serious note, I like the comments form Joseph and I would like Joseph to juxaposition Tom Wright with John Chrysostom and place them in Conversation in exploring this text and its “interior meaning”.

  58. Mark Downham says:

    Father Patrick

    You appear to have posted some irresistible material which acts as a powerful addictive with some interesting subliminal side effects – what immense effort of will have you been able to muster and exert in gazing at this very material and not become encoiled in some compulsive-obsessive ecstatic rapture compelling you to engage in public confession and contrition to the delictation and fascionation of the reader? BUT then you could be…..indirectly. It was Hamlet who discussed these mortal coils….

  59. […] on St. John Chrysostom’s homily on Romans 7: 14-11 posted by Monk Patrick entitled Law, sin, death and free-will in Energetic Procession, my new compulsive habitual […]

  60. Mark Downham says:

    Joseph

    Thank you.

    Yes, I know Tom Wright – I understand the provision in the law for reparation and the cleansing of sin in the event of “moral and virtuous Failure” BUT if we are to treat the Commnetary by John Chrysostom as a Living instrument of Tradition and locate the Law within the “transformative engine of Ascesis” as the Law is Spiritual, then John Chrysostom must be interrogated and called to give an account for the “lapses ” that Paul details and in the absence of John Chrysostom – our rogation and interrogation has to be laid on Father Patrick, who clearly signalled that he has manfully agreed to this and that he has the vim, vigour and vivacity to bear the burdens of our challenges in posting this material.

  61. Joseph says:

    Mark,

    Have you read NT Wright’s Romans commentary? Elsewhere he points out that, since the Law itself contained provisions for sin, one coule be blameless according to the law and not be sinless. Paul was not perfect, but did everthing the Law required in the way of reparation when he did sin.

  62. Mark Downham says:

    Father Patrick

    This section of the Commentary appears to lament a wild lifestyle and involve a lot of “handwringing” while going full tilt into the party mood:

    Verse 16. “If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the Law, that it is good.”
    You see here, that the understanding is not yet perverted, but keeps up its own noble character even during the action. For even if it does pursue vice, still it hates it the while, which would be great commendation, whether of the natural or the written Law. For that the Law is good, is (he says) plain, from the fact of my accusing myself, when I disobey the Law, and hate what has been done. And yet if the Law was to blame for the sin, how comes it that he felt a delight in it, yet hated what it orders to be done? For, “I consent,” he says, “unto the Law, that it is good.”

    How do you reconcile the deliberate intention of disobeying the Law, which requires an act of cognition and at the same time the suggestion that the understanding is not perverted? If the understanding of the LAW is not perverted, why would you say he was unable to follow and observe the Law and at the same time describe himself as an exemplary Torah observing Jew, unless secretly, he was in a deadful state why he simply could not resist “partying” and running wild? and then the next day with hand on head say “oh what have I done!!??? O wretched man!!! and then comes twilight!!! Time to party!!! How to you explain this Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde shift in this Torah observing Jew if the Law is spiritual, this shift between Israel and Jacob – backwards and forwards…..seeming reverence on “Sundays” and going wild on “Saturdays”?

    Mark

  63. Mark Downham says:

    Father Patrick

    John Chryssotom in his Homily on Fasting said this:

    “Sin is a great shame. If we commit it not only should we feel ashamed but we should cover ourselves exactly the same way those who are wounded do. Even then we should not forsake ourselves but rush to confession and thanksgiving. We have such a Lord who asks nothing of us but to confess our sins, after the commitment of a sin which was due to our indifference, and to stop at that point and not to fall into the same one again.”

    But in the above commentary he presents Paul as man who seems to be in the vice like grip of ‘besetting sins’ which are exposed by the Law and reducing him to astate of misery and constant ascetic struggle in observance and failure – how does this minister to the will in the call to righteousness?

    Mark

  64. Mark Downham says:

    Father Patrick

    Was Paul speak about his post or pre Damscaus Road experiences in Romans 7:21-25

    21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    Which view would you say John Chrysostom adopted from your reading of the above Commentary and which view do you adopt?

    Mark

  65. Mark Downham says:

    Fahter Patrick

    If “sin is produced through the ‘listlessnes’ of its disciples’ what are the implications for those who struggle with Ascetic observance, if the Law is Spiritual – are they unspiritual and carnal or simply addicted to the stuff?

  66. Mark Downham says:

    Father Patrick

    If through Ascesis, the Ten Commandments become Ten Promises – NOT that shall not BUT that you shall not ‘WANT’ to – the transformation of desire…to what degree is the acquisition of the hOLY Spirt important in this administration of transformative behaviour, if it can seemingly be achieved through an act of the human will in Ascetic Observance?

  67. Mark Downham says:

    Father Patrick

    Why would you say Paul was unable to observe and comply the law ,given that he was a Torah Observing Jew and given that he described himself as a “Jew among Jews” and how could he say he was “blameless” in light of the above commentary?

    Philippians 3:4 – 6

    4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

  68. Thank you for posting this, Monk Patrick.

    To unpack, our nature is to love doing good, but we by compulsion do what we hate against our will. This raises the question, is overcoming sin more about overcoming this compulsion by will-power or by our compulsions being changed? Stifling vs. transformation.

  69. Mark Downham says:

    If this Commentary by John Chrysostom is within the scope and mediation of the Tradition of the Church then the recommended ascesis is either going to lead to a state of irreversible neurosis through the incapacity of compliance or some form of transcendental epiphany in which the reader will receive an impartation of “super sanity” and enter into a state of perfect peace even in the face of the most severe failings and shortcomings ,convinced that it is the mediation of Grace, so why worry.

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