When It Sucks To Be You

 (Musical Accompaniment- A- Road To Nowhere)

“But the angels who, though created good, are yet evil now, became so by their own will.  And this will was not made evil by their good nature, unless by its voluntary defection from good; for good is not the cause of evil, but a defection from good is.  These angels, therefore, either received less of the grace of the divine love than those who persevered in the same; or if both were created equally good, then, while the one fell by their evil will, the others were more abundantly assisted, and attained to that pitch of blessedness at which they became certain they should never fall from it…”

Augustine, The City of God, 12, 9.

“Now there is no distinction between what flows from free will, and what is of predestination; as there is no distinction between what flows from a secondary cause and from a first cause. For the providence of God produces effects through the operation of secondary causes, as was above shown (Question 22, Art. 3). Wherefore, that which flows from free-will is also of predestination.”

Thomas Aquinas, ST, Ia. Q. 23, a.5.

(Musical Accompaniment-B-Runaway Train)

“The reason for the predestination of some, and reprobation of others, must be sought for in the goodness of God. Thus He is said to have made all things through His goodness, so that the divine goodness might be represented in things. Now it is necessary that God’s goodness, which in itself is one and undivided, should be manifested in many ways in His creation; because creatures in themselves cannot attain to the simplicity of God. Thus it is that for the completion of the universe there are required different grades of being; some of which hold a high and some a low place in the universe. That this multiformity of grades may be preserved in things, God allows some evils, lest many good things should never happen, as was said above (Question 22, Art. 5). Let us then consider the whole of the human race, as we consider the whole universe. God wills to manifest His goodness in men; in respect to those whom He predestines, by means of His mercy, as sparing them; and in respect of others, whom he reprobates, by means of His justice, in punishing them. This is the reason why God elects some and rejects others… Thus too, in the things of nature, a reason can be assigned, since primary matter is altogether uniform, why one part of it was fashioned by God from the beginning under the form of fire, another under the form of earth, that there might be a diversity of species in things of nature. Yet why this particular part of matter is under this particular form, and that under another, depends upon the simple will of God; as from the simple will of the artificer it depends that this stone is in part of the wall, and that in another; although the plan requires that some stones should be in this place, and some in that place. Neither on this account can there be said to be injustice in God, if He prepares unequal lots for not unequal things.”

Ibid., ad 3.

“It is only because God wills or preordains that one shall make good use of free will that He foresees this person will make good use of it; for, as stated in the thirty ninth distinction (1129), the certain forseeing of future contingent things is due to the determination of these things by the divine will. If, therefore, the occasion presents itself to the divine will of two persons equal in natural endowments, why, I ask, does He preordain that this one shall make good use of free will and the other not? There seems to be no reason to assign for this except the divine will.”

John Duns Scotus, Commentary on the Sentences, XLI, n. 1153.

82 Responses to When It Sucks To Be You

  1. Jason,

    So God wills human nature to be such and so, but humans will differently and so the human will is able to overthrow the divine will on your account. So much for predestination.

    The devil has no image or logos apart from that which God gave him. Sin is personal and not natural. Here the obvious conflation between person and nature is present for all to see.

    When you say that Christ was made a literal sinner, do you mean hypostatically or something else?

    Again, attributions are things of language and not per se properties. On your account, God has no properties. I’d suggest picking of Muller, Chemnitz, Pieper and co. on the Lutheran tradition on what constitutes “attributes.”

    I never claimed that Christ willed in the opposite direction. I argued he willed otherwise. Otherwise and contrawise are not equivalent concepts. Different doesn’t imply in opposition to. Here the hellenism of your position is plain. The Son is otherwise qua hypostasis from the Father, yet he is not contrawise to the Father. Your conflation of the two leads to tri-theism very quickly.

    The fear of death is natural since it existed as a natural potency in humanity. Even on your view this must be so, since God’s threatening death would have no deterring effect. Death? Why worry about that? Fear is natural to humans, and fear of that which is unnatural, namely death, which is why all men fear death.

    Sure, Christ said, not as I will, and that is the point, his remark would make no sense if he had not in fact so willed. Hence it is proof that he so willed. The will to avoid death certainly did, which is why he asks if it be possible to avoid it. Your gloss is entirely docetistic since it denies to Christ genuine human experience in the face of death.

    To say that the human will is subordinated to the divine will is, once again, monoenergism and monothelitism, a position your own tradition claims to condemn. And here is the rub. You can reject my position and maintain a Lutheran one, and yet the Lutheran formularies commit you to adherence to the theology of councils 4-6. Any fair reading of those councils’ teaching along with that of their representative theologians will show that a committment to it is incompatible with Lutheran and Reformed teaching on the matter. So if the Lutheran formularies are right, then they are wrong.

    Given that the divine will is one and common to all three persons, it wasn’t merely the Father’s will for salvation via the cross, but of the Son and Spirit as well.

    I’ve never argued that the divine will of the Son was employed different than the Father with respect to different objects. I’ve maintained two points. First that the willing otherwise was according to Christ’s human power of choice. 2nd That the divine will tri-hypostatically wills also the preservation of human life such that both options before Christ are willed by God and good options. Your question betrays the monothelite principle that the will is hypostatic, thereby conflating the use of the will and the thing that is used.

    It doesn’t then deny foreknowledge and predestination. Second, I don’t take those things to be the same thing in God. Third, I don’t think God is being so the kinds of objections to the doctrine of timelessness as simultaeneity are not possible on my view since even tenseless propositions are applicable to things that be. Fourth, I don’t take predestination to be hypostatic. If I did, I’d have to subsribe to a subordinating Christology where the divine person is parred of from the Father’s essence via an act of will, an implicit Arianism if ever there was one.

  2. Jason Loh says:


    Jesus did not say I do not want to die, however, I also want to do the Father’s will. He said emphatically, *not* as I will, but as Thou wilt. The will to avoid death never entered into the ‘equation’ here, as it is clear the human will is subordinated to the divine will, of the God the *Father.* How could the divine will of the Son be employed differently from the Father’s with respect to the same things? This would deny both foreknowledge and predestination. And how could the human will of Jesus ever be willed differently from the divine will since the person doing the willing is none other than the Son Himself?

    In the final analysis, in your construal, *ultimately* the human will is still subordinated to the divine will, notwithstanding the initial scenario.

  3. Jason Loh says:


    To will in the opposite direction of the Father’s will which is to suffer death is to will contrariwise.

    As for fear of death as natural, how can it be natural when such a fear did not exist prior to the Fall? And fear of death is different from willing not to die, metaphysically and psychologically.

  4. Jason Loh says:

    On the imago dei, yes, I affirm that the imago Dei was lost. Baptism restores the imago Dei. Those who are not baptised continues to bear the image of their father, the Devil.

    Was Christ made a sinner in a literal sense? The answer is: Yes, not merely forensically but truly and really. Of course in all of this, sin, death were swallowed up by, in and through Christ. This is foolishness whereby opposite attributes are united in the divine person, not merely of immortality and mortality, eternity and temporality but also the energies of goodness, holiness, beauty versus evil, sinfulness, ugliness.

  5. Jason,

    The denials here begin to streatch reason to its breaking point.

    He is sorrowful to the point of death, but he can’t have human fear? Huh?

    Second, that he expresses human fear is not a point of contention between the Orthodox and the Reformation traditions. You are free to defend an idiosyncratic view but what would be the point?

    Third, your argument is a non-sequitur. It doesn’t follow that if we cannot know for certain (whatever that means) that Maximus’s view is unwarranted. It may not follow necessarily from the premises, but many things can be known without a necessary implication.

    I never said Jesus willed “contrariwise”. That is your term and not mine. I said Jesus willed differently and what he willed was a divine good.

    Sure fear of death is natural, since death is not natural to man. Even on your own principles, God never would have threatened it as a punishment for sin if it were natural and so its fear is not unnatural but natural. Your thesis that the fear of death is unnatural entails the Pelagian thesis that death is natural to humanity which is why in their fallen state they fear what they should not. I am just not a Pelagian.

    In any case, pick up Luther or any Reformation expositor really and they all say pretty much that Jesus experienced human fear. If you reject this, it just shows how far you have to place yourself at odds and outside of your own tradition to attempt to make an argument work.

    Lastly, Jesus explicitly says “not as I WILL…” Not, “not as I am saddened” as if the remedy would be to be happy. The remedy was to will salvation in his human power of choice.

    The problem is that the course you are on will set you at odds to the incarnation. what will go next is the idea that Christ was genuinely ignorant and then eventually that the divine person suffered and died at all. And of course, in line with the post, the Goodness of God and creation is already gone given your predestinarianism.

  6. Jason Loh says:

    Grace is alien to nature because the latter is now under sin and curse. As for whether humanity was mortal or not prior to the Fall, I do not know and do not wish to speculate. It is clear that there was no covenant of works as affirmed by the Presbyterians or super-added grace, etc. But that Adam and Eve had the potential to exercise free choice or remained in faith towards God. That is they had the potential to seek autonomy from God, which they did. Once that happened, bondage comes in. Because the exercise of free-will in relation to God is always a departure from faith. If Adam and Eve had remained faithful, that is not because of free choice/will but faith, if it were not so then they would had *prior* knowledge of good and evil which evidently they did not have.

    And justification is extrinsic since human nature is bound, curved inwards. God has to free the person from the outside, so to speak. The personal employment of the will is bound to its natural determination, which is the ‘principle’ of sin. Here person is dependent on nature, or bound to sinful nature. He/she is not now in a position to decide good or evil simply there is no such thing as free choice in relation to God. One is either already in a state of faith or faithfulness or defiance. As mentioned, our first parents were already in the former state, with the exception that they had the potential to fall upward. The post-Fall situation has introduced a different set of circumstances. In the eschaton, there is no potential or hypothetical scenario is the new heaven and new earth will be free of the circumstance existed prior to the Fall, namely the existence of Satan.

    The restoration of the balance or harmony between person or nature is not to enable the potential of theosis to be fulfilled but precisely means that in Jesus Christ, all things *have been* recapitulated so that those who are in Him are justified, deified.

  7. Jason Loh says:


    The plain meaning of the text was that Jesus was in agony. Did he fear death? We cannot know for certain. So, Maximus to say that fear of death is natural by inferring from the Passion is unwarranted. What is certain is that he *knew* what lay ahead of him.

    Matthew says:

    “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

    Jesus did not will contrariwise. He expressed sorrow. This is different from willing with respect to avoiding death. Fear of death is not natural. It is always unnatural. This is because death is *unnatural.*

  8. A denial that the humanity of Christ is pre-existence would only imply that grace is extrinsic to nature if God is not the formal cause of creatures, specifically in terms of the eternal logoi or energies. If human nature is an energy of God then one can deny Apollinarianism and affirm that grace is not alient to nature but appropriate to it.

    The statement that mortal humanity is not grace masks the Pelagianism since by mortal you probably mean fallen. But that again is not the issue. You affirm, and please correct if I am mistaken that humanity is intrinsically immortal and righteous.

    if Christ recaptiulates humanity, then justification can’t be extrinsic since recaptitulation would be unnecessary if it were extrisic. Justice can’t then be grounded in recapitulation which leaves it explanatorily unmotivated.

    if there was no dialectic of opposition between extrinsic and intrinsic, there would be no need to posit the subordination of the human to the divine as you do. Nor would we need justification to be a merely forensic.

  9. While it is true that the natural will is not active apart from the personal, but your rendering the natural as passive renders the divine person of Christ either passive or unreal as united to his humanity.

    Since the logos of human nature is a divine activity itself, it isn’t passive in the face of divine power. Divinity is not opposed to divinity.

    To say that the humanity is active is only to the extent that the divine will is active is the monothelitism of Honorious, Sergius and Pyrrus. They thought that the divine will moved the human will. Hence what you are advocating is explicitly monoenergism.

    You are free to argue that Maximus was wrong, but then you are committed to denying the decisions of the sixth council, which is at odds with confessional Lutheran stance on the 6th council.

    Since attributes are linguistic predications, they do not fall under the communiation of properties. Properties and attributions are different things.

    Here you also misrepresent Maximus’ position. Maximus does not claim that Christ willed contrary things. That is a major point against the Monothelities who took difference to be the same as contrary or in opposition. Maximus’ solution turns in no small measure on the claim that the willing to preserve human life is also something willed by God and hence good. Therefore Christ’s willing to preserve his life while different, isn’t contrary to the divine will to go to the cross.

    Second to argue that Christ merely desired something contrary to God makes more problems for your position that you think it solves. For now it will be true that not only an impeccable person but human nature in its pristine condition in Christ is intrinsically opposed to God. So humanity in and of itself at creation and in Christ is either evil so that God is good since it wills contrary to it, or God is evil and humanity is good, grounding no small amount of contemporary atheism and nihilism.

    The “plain meaning” of the text is that Christ willed to preserve his life. It was a chosen end and one that it seems that you have to, like Rome, lower to a mere appetite. The committment to platonic conception of simplicity still lingers here.

    Maximus doesn’t get the 0rdo wrong and he doesn’t appeal to some nebulous notion of energy in general or start from energy as somehow separate from the person. Here again you misrepresent Maximus’ position.

    As I noted already, it was the Nestorians who took there to be one will in Christ and hence one energy that was the prospon “Christ.’ This is why they also held that Christ was a result of the union and why they took Christ in his humanity to be a passive instrument of the divine will, just as you do.

    To say that the natural is active is not Nestorian. It would be so if I affirmed that the energy was anhypostatic. This is what you inferred from what I wrote, but it is not what I wrote and can’t be inferred from what I wrote.

    If the humanity were always passive in receiving the divine properties via the divine hypsotasis, then it follows that there is no divine hypostasis in the humanity doing the receiving.

    I am sure you affirm that Christ was made a sinner, but the question is what that means. I’d bet good money you take this in merely a forensic way. This is certainly not what the joyous exchange has been traditionally understood as. To say that the sinner can become truely human once again betrays the idea that the imago dei was lost at the fall.

    Christ redeems all of human nature and the fullness of that redemption is had by those who fulfill the hypostatic conditions for the fullness of redemption. If God were to over ride the human will, he would will contrary to what he himself willed for the imago dei to be, and hence contradict himself.

    Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a sinful nature. There is human nature which is deprived of divine power and so disordered in its powers, which are never lost per se. If what is not assumed is not redeemed and then we add that the human person is redeemed, it will follow that either all persons are Christ or universalism or some aren’t human and hence not redeemed. If they are not human then the sin of Adam cannot affect them and hence they have no need of Christ.

    As to the assertion that the Orthodox have made too much of the distinction between person and nature so as to actually separate them in practice, it is just that, an assertion. Second, even if true, a practical inconsistency is not the same as a principled one.

  10. Jason Loh says:

    In relation to extrinsic grace, or grace from the outside, yes, the Incarnation is about just that since the Son did not assume *pre-existent* human nature. The ‘infinite’ assuming the ‘finite.’ And after all, mortal human nature is not grace *per se*. But this of course does not mean that grace *remains* extrinsic to the human nature of Jesus as it is recapitulated in Him. Likewise in justification, the source (and even process) of the Christian’s ‘deification’ is not from within but from without, i.e. outside of him/her. But it is still his/her justification/’deification.’ There is no dialectic of opposition between extrinsic and intrinsic. This is because the divine energies from the outside which so penetrates the core of human being are creative and re-creative energies. Human nature is *re*capitulated, not *in*fused.

  11. Jason Loh says:

    We do not start with what we see, that is the human nature but with what ahs been revealed, that is the Incarnation of the divine person.

    And yes, I affirm that Christ was made a sinner for sinners. This is the blessed or joyous exchange. This is the communication of attributes. God became human so that He can become a sinner and the sinner can be truly human once again. This is the whole purpose of the Incarnation, so that God can enter into the depths of human experience to redeem the whole human person. By so doing, he can only be a sinner at the end, to destroy sin, the flesh and devil. Otherwise, how can the human person be redeemed in the first place? Did Christ only redeem human nature but not the person? What is not assumed is not redeemed. Since it is the person who sins, being in bondage to sinful human nature, Jesus assumes that person’s sins so as to be that person instead or rather go ahead of that person into death and separation.

    The EO has made too much of the distinction between person and nature such that the two are actually separated in practice.

  12. Jason Loh says:

    It may sound like monoenergism, but it isn’t. Maximianism is essentially Nestorian. Energy is natural, not personal. To say that the natural is active is to confuse the natural with the personal, since the will as faculty and the act of will as hypostatic employment are two different things just as it is with potentiality and actuality.

    In Jesus, the human nature is active only in so far as the divine will is active, since the two energies are actualised by the one divine person in the concrete manifestation of external acts. But in terms of the personal or hypostatic union itself, the human nature is always passive since all communication of attributes is via the person, not directly.

    The EO has confused not only the natural with the personal, but also the Incarnation as hypostatic union and the Incarnation as outward presentation. To infer from the Passion of Jesus at Gethsemane as Maximus did that Jesus initially willed, not only desired, but actually willed two contradictory things is contrary to the plain meaning of the text but essentially Nestorian, and a reversal of the ordo theologiae. This is so since we do not start with a general category of that energy or this energy but with the person as actor first. That is we do not start with the outward presentation first, but with the hypostatic union.

  13. Jason,

    If I thought attributions were things that could be transferred or moved, I might agree with you, but I don’t. Attributions are predications, things said, not properties. It seems to me that you are using attributes as if they were properties. Even Chemnitz claims that in God, all the attributes are one and the same object-the divine essence a la ADS.

    As I pointed out, I reject the idea of Jesus as a mere external examplar. Given that I reject forensic imputation, I can’t hold he is a mere examplar. The same goes for my adherence to Christ as consubstantial with all men. Grace is not alien to nature and so an examplar is precluded. Hence nothing you’ve written touches my denials and arguments against your charge of extrinsicism.

    The ansarkos nature of Christ’s humanity is hypothetical in so far as Apollinarianism is false. In the concrete, it never existed apart from the divine person of the Logos. That doesn’t render it passive in relation to God.

    As even Augustine noted, divine grace does not preclude synergy in the participation in grace. As others have noted and I argued earlier, your view entails the kind of monoenergism that was condemned as heretical.

    I do not deny but rather affirm that the Son is always and only the sole agent, but this does not deny that his humanity is active rather than passive. To claim that my view is Nestorian is to reject the teaching of councils 4-6. Moreover, your view is actually Nestorian, since Nestorius held that the “Christ” was the product and passive tool of the divine will. This is why Nestorius and his followers repeatedly claimed that there was only one will in Christ, as Maximus made clear. A casual rading of Cyril’s commentary on John 6 will make plain that dyothelitism was part and parcel of Cyril’s Christology. Further, the reason why you take my view as Nestorian is because you take the will per se to be a constituent of the hypostasis, rather than the person. You conflate the user and the thing used as all Nestorians and Monophysites do. ONly on that assumption could the charge of Nestorianism go through. But of course all dyothelites reject the thesis that the will is of the hypostasis, since then there would be only one will or two subjects.

    God’s relation to creation is not one of subordination for God is not opposed to his creation and this is why he doesn’t require an intermediary.

    I’ve never claimed that the union is one of essence, but always and only claimed it is hypostatic. The problem in part is that you follow Rome in thinking of the imago dei as a created analog rather than a divine uncreated logoi. Added to that is the Pelagian error among the Reformers that righteousness was natural.

    It doesn’t follow that since Christ’s union of the two natures is hypostatic, and that our union with Christ in faith entails a personal element that our union with Christ is therefore exclusively hypostatic. As you confessed earlier and I noted, this entails the obliteration of our person. This is the result of conflating person with nature. Against this is the NT doctrine that all are raised with Christ, the just and the unjust. Surely the unjust bear no hypostatic union with Christ. Consequently, Christ’s union with us is, in terms of its ground is at the level of nature and only voluntarily and freely at the level of person. Otherwise, universalism or hypostatic annihilationalism is entailed or annihilationalism with respect to the wicked to stave off making Christ a sinner.

  14. Nathan says:

    Jason, the first half of what you’re saying sounds an awful lot like monoenergism.

  15. Robert says:


    You demonstrate why it would be a huge step back to leave the bosom of the Orthodox Church. The Church has never and does not hold that Christ’s human nature was passive. What you espouse is downright heresy. You tread on dangerous ground, you are in my prayers.

  16. Jason Loh says:


    Our union and communion with Jesus is rooted and grounded in and exemplified by His personal union and the communion of attributes. It cannot be otherwise or else Jesus did not come as Sacramentum, and He ends up being just an Exemplum. That is, in the Incarnation, the Son assumed human nature, which was passive since it is impersonal and unindividuated. This is simply to say that there was no synergy or activity on the part of the human nature in the Incarnation. The one divine person of the Son remained the sole actor or agent. This is meaning, definition and pattern of the Incarnation. Or else, it’s ‘Nestorianism.’ And since the Incarnation is a personal union, not natural, thus the union and communion between the human and divine is personal not natural. That is the new person in Jesus no longer clings to his human nature but receives the human nature of Jesus in exchange which is deified and glorified. Thus so, it is a union and communion in which the human person remains distinct and still remains as part of the Body which was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died buried and rose again on the third day … otherwise it is extrincism all over again … and Jesus ends up being an Exemplar for us to imitate and only then can we end up being deified, when actually we are deified first and then only comes the imitation part …

  17. Jason Loh says:


    What about Matthew 5:44-45? It’s not absolute since Our Lord Himself never prayed for the religious leaders. In Matthew 11, it is recorded for us the following:

    “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

  18. Jason,

    As for recommending Lutheranism, supposing it was the viable via media you suppose for Robert, it isn’t the only one out there. Anglicanism would do just as well. But of course Anglicanism is a mess and I can’t see that Lutheranism is that much better. If one went to the LCMS for example, the happy clappy wars are currently on going, among other problems. Secondly, you write that one gets a balance of evangelical theology and catholicity, but this supposes that rejecting core catholic theological commitments amounts to “balancing.” I can’t see that it does. In short, you are assuming that these two things are compatible, but they aren’t.

    And as I’ve pointed out before, it seems that Confessional Lutheranism suffers from similar Christological problems as the Reformed. They just take the problematic implications in the opposite direction. Take Chemnitz for example,

    “Therefore the person of Christ the Mediator ought to be recognized, invoked and honored because as a result of the hypostatic union of the two natures there comes into being one person consisting of two natures and subsisting in two natures.” The Two Natures in Christ, p. 68.

    This is not an atypical citation in Chemnitz or other Lutheran writers.

    If what I expounded regarding person and the gnomic will was what you said, then you need to show where I was allegedly misunderstanding you, since I didn’t take us to be saying the same thing. I take myself to be contradicting your gloss.

    As for your naked claim of Orthodox extrnsicism it seems to be not much more than that. In fact I take there to be lots of reasons for thinking it is false. The relation between us and Christ in salvation is not extrinsic, and not in recapitulation either, but inherent and intrinsic. It seems that you have foisted upon it a metaphysical gloss to make such a point, but which is not derivable from the system itself.

    When you speak of a “mirrored” relationship it seems you are assuming an extrinsic relationship as if one is a separate and external copy of another object where the former is metaphysically deficient with respect to the former. Only on this assuming could the idea that such a mirroring entail extrinsicism. As Maximus says, grace does not come to us from “the outside” which not only rules out an Augustinian nature/grace dialectic but a forensic imputation.

    To say that the relationship between the divine and the human is never apart or outside of the incarnation is to muddle the matter. To be apart from or outside of can be taken in a whole slew of ways. To be clear, the divine and the human relate because humanity is in fact a divine thing a la the energy or logos that it is. Individual human beings are created members of that set. And this logos or “plan” of humanity is eternally in Christ antecedent to the incarnation. This is why the Fathers speak of Christ taking up his own form. This is why Christ’s being the font of the race is concrete and not abstract. But it is not in terms of a type/token relationship either, which I will explain later.

    While there is only one acting subject, this doesn’t imply a passivity on the part of Christ in his humanity relative to divine activity since the very image or logos of humanity is a divine activity. Consequently, the divinity and the humanity cannot be related on a active/passive dialectic. To do so could only be true if God was the not the formal cause of creatures and humanity was not a divine logos or energy. The divine hypostasis of Christ is active in both operations or activities. This is why Christ wills with his human power of choice to go to the cross.Your gloss of an active/passive relation implies monoenergism, that there is really only one actvity and Christ’s humanity bears no intrinsic salvific worth so that we are faced with another form of docetism. This is the real locus of the error of thinking that because God is active, man must be passive, because it situates them as two opposed things at the outset. And this implies a faulty and frankly Arian view of creation. This is why the Reformed have to bring in the Spirit as something of an external aid to Christ’s humanity to bring about “created graces” in that humanity. I’d recommend looking at Cyril of Alexandria’s gloss on the baptism of Christ.

    Since faith is a volitional act even on your own gloss, it entails the use of the will so that it is necessary that the loss of faith was a hypostatic misuse of the will that brought about a loss of faith. The only way out is to decouple faith from the will, in which case, a monergistic schema will not imply the production of faith as an effect of divine causation. If the will isn’t involved in faith, then regenerating the will won’t imply a motion of the will. Hence even in regeneration, a bondage of the will would remain.

    If the freedom that our first parents enjoyed was “horizontal” and not “vertical” then it would have been impossible for them to sin, since all sin is primarily “vertical.” This betrays a Pelagian anthropology on your part. The primary aim of their willing was to achieve theosis instantaneously, without hypostatic activity. That is, they wished to acquire virtue without habituation. They wanted the end without the means to it. They wanted instantaneous gratification. In this way they wanted to be like God who is deity without process or habituation. The will to autonomy was in the service of their attempt to acquire divinization apart form habit. Consequently, the divine ambition was entirely appropriate to them, but the means for achieving it were not. This is to say that what they willed as an end, represented by the fruit was not sinful, but the way they went about it was. Hence sinning was in the use of choice, but not the power of choosing per se.

    On your account it is difficult to see how this could be so, since God can and does give people righteousness without habitation, that is without hypostatic activity of their own. Secondary causation won’t help here I think since that is appropriate to substances and persons aren’t substances. Second, Adam’s lack of faith was due to God’s predestination on your account and not because he could have willed otherwise. It is hard to see how Adam isn’t manipulated and manipulation removes responsibility. Adam’s agency is then just a “fiction added to the deed.” This is why when we go looking for a sufficient cause for Adam’s loss of faith, removing his misuse of free will from the context makes things worse and not better. It sucks to be Adam.
    If one were also bound to either fear or love God, one wonders what we are to do with the proclamation of the Gospel in Rev 14:6-7. More to the point, I can’t see why I should accept that free will and autonomy are mutually entailing. Even if we were to accept this, it would entail a kind of radical voluntarism for the doctrine of God that I seriously doubt you or any of the Reformation traditions will accept, namely that the divine nature does not circumscribe divine choice.

    The biblical account gives us further reason to doubt your claim since it portrays Adam as active with God, specifically in naming the animals. God gives Adam a kind of leeway to name the animals as he freely chooses. And fear and love are dispositions which may shape our willing but they are not faculties of the soul so that you are conflating dispositions and powers/faculties. Freedom isn’t antithetical to fear or love with respect to God.

    If God is not honored by free will then God does not honor himself in his own free actions on pain of denying that God has free will.

    The further problem in glossing faith as the tree and free will as the fruit is that this makes faith an intrinsic actuality in nature which entails Pelagianism. Humans aren’t created with the virtues already actualized. If they did, there would be no need for Christological recapitulation. Christ could be incarnate as a fully formed adult. Besides, as I explained above, faith is something that is done in part with the will, which implies that the power of choice is antecedent to faith.

    The death and resurrection certainly do leave room for the exercise of free will since the accomplishment is dual-hypostatic and natural. The latter has effects across the board apart from choice, which is why the wicked are raised as well. In Christ, all are made alive. Persons exist with and in their body and as such are a type of constituent, but that doesn’t imply the way that each individual person experiences resurrected life is the same across the board. That would be true of persons were completely their bodies, which is false since the persons survives bodily death. And the resurrection is related to the soul and the body, to human nature which came into existence without our choice. But even Augustine admits that while we do not co-operate with God in our creation, we do so in our salvation. Consequently, universal death and resurrection doesn’t imply a single mode of experience across the board. Further, just because something is true of my body apart from my choice, it doesn’t follow that everything that happens or is true of my body at the level of nature is true of me qua person. My body may cease to exist, but I continue to exist for example. Here it seems you are confusing being a constituent of something with subsisting with and in something. Christologically, if the death and resurrection of Jesus leaves no room for the exercise of free will, then this implies that Christ was not fully human since it was unnecessary for him to have an active human will. Everything could have been accomplished extrinsically.

    If nature and person were the same thing, then a recapitulation of human nature in Christ entail a specific mode of recapitulation with respect to every human person, that is, universalism. But they aren’t. The conditions to be human and the conditions to be a person are not the same for the simple reason that not all persons are human. (Angelic, demonic, Divine or any other type that God may know of.) To argue that the relation of completely transitive between person and nature would imply anthropological naturalism. The annihilation of the body would imply the annihilation of the person. In this way, persons who conflate person and nature and thereby have a faulty Christology often deny eternal punishment opting for some form of conditional immortality or annihilationalism. I would also entail that everything true of each divine person would also be true of every other divine person collapsing the Trinity into Modalism or Tri-theism since everything true of the divine essence would be true of the persons without any hypostatic difference.

    Your stipulation that the relation must be symmetrical is simple an assertion I see no good reason to accept and many good reasons to reject. As it stands, it is a mere assertion.

    You charge that if the relation isn’t symmetrical then Christ ends up an external exemplar regarding salvation but this doesn’t follow. You are wrongly assuming that the actualization of recapitulation at the level of each human hypostasis would be on an external basis. That is, its an all or nothing deal. Either it is internal and humans are passive or it is external and humans do everything. But this is a mistake for some of the reasons I pointed out above. Christ’s relation to the logos of human nature is not extrinsic and so the grace by which we co-operate with at the level of hypostasis does not come to us as alien to our nature. Deification is not accidental to humanity for that reason and because the divine energies aren’t accidents. The relation is intrinsic and internal but since God is not opposed to his creation, the divine presence does not obliterate created existence and created modes of operation, which is why the doctrines of monergism and transubstantiation are false.

    Hence Christ is not a mere external examplar, but an internal helper and lover of humanity. As I noted above, that it doesn’t follow that if persons are not irresistibly regenerated by Christ’s work that they are not affected at all and it doesn’t follow that if they are not affected in that way at the level of persons that they are not affected at all. So it is not a form of Pelagianism, but a straw man on your part. In no way does grace end up being created since it is not extrinsically related to us. The reason you need to have the “old man” destroyed by grace is because you take grace to be intrinsic to the imago dei as both the Reformed and Lutheran do so that the fall entails via human choice an intrinsic alternation in the imago dei. But if this were so, it would entail that humans can alter the divine will for what constitutes human nature. It would also imply that we alter Christ in the fall since it is his image which exists in him qua logos, which is impossible or that his image is a created effect of efficient causality formally unrelated to him, which is simply to deny the existence of divine energies.

    Baptism in Orthodoxy conveys a dual gift, according to nature and person the one is active regardless of choice and the other becomes active only with the choice of the recipient. This goes back at least as far as the 5th century to Diadochus of Photiki, Maximus the Confessor and other fathers. This is why baptismal regeneration does not imply soteriological monergism. It does not imply a created grace, but rather that the conditions by which divinity acts are different for different objects, which is just to say that God is not contrary to his creation or grace does not annihilate nature. The participation in grace does not imply that what we participate is created. If it did, then God would either be created or humanity would never participate in God, making salvation a completely natural enterprise. Here the roots of much naturalistic thinking of Enlightenment finds its true home in the Nominalistic Pelagianism of Reformation Humanism. If human activity were excluded from the divine, then Christ’s humanity also never participated in our salvation, implying either Eutychianism or Nestorianism, charges that are hardly alien to either the Lutheran or Reformed traditions.

    The fact that you take the Spirit’s work to be subordinate to Christ’s raises all kinds of red flags all by itself. But your attempt to limit this to the temporal sphere won’t work since Christ’s work was completed in the temporal realm, which would on your view imply that the salvation of all the elect was already extended in space and time.
    Christ’s death isn’t meaningless or ineffective if it doesn’t operate the same way on every metaphysical level. If grace overran human freedom then this would imply that God’s creation of man was flawed from the get-go, that the imago dei was not only lost, but was defective in and of itself since God gave him that freedom. The only way out it is to deny that Adam had any freedom relative to the fall or retaining his position, which is what I think you are forced to admit. In which case, Adam is a fiction qua agent and is a mere conduit for divine causality. On my view Christ’s work redeems all giving all immortality on the level of nature, while not contradicting what God also willed for human nature to be qua the imago dei. The only way you can make your system work is to deny that human freedom was ever part of the imago dei. Good luck with that. If that were so, then posse peccare/posse non peccare is brushed away since it was never possible for Adam to refrain from sinning and that puts us on the road of the Flix Culpa and that sin is actually a type of good, which is frankly, in a word, insane.

    You ask how can nature be predestined to ever being. I am not clear on what you take to be problematic here. I agree that the predestination in Christ to ever being implies an exclusion of choice, which is why the wicked cannot opt out of their existence in hell. There is no cosmic eject button. That by itself does not determine or fix the way in which they experience and subsist in ever being or immortality. The predestination is not hypothetical since it is in Christ via the hypostatic union and so it is concrete. Christ has made all men immortal already and death is the gate through which we pass to that immortality which is culminated in the general resurrection. Consequently, it does not confuse actuality and potentiality since the immortality is already actual in Christ and Christ is the font of the race.

    This is why your question as to the Father predestinating an abstract nature isn’t relevant. It isn’t relevant either in relation to the divine logos that is human nature or to Christ’s work, since neither are abstract entities.

    When Christ draws all men to himself, he does so a la human nature as in John 6:39. He raises *it* all up. It isn’t confusing person and nature. Just because human persons exist only in human nature it doesn’t follow that ever being is the same as hypostatic ever well being. Jesus drawing all to ever being doesn’t imply the second. If you deny that Jesus draws all to ever being, how do you explain the resurrection of the wicked on the basis of Christ’s resurrection? Why is there a resurrection of the unjust at all?

    All in a universal sense would only apply to all persons qua all persons if the conditions for or examples of personal activity were also listed or mentioned, but they aren’t. As an aside, you refer to the “Anselmian penal model” but Anselm didn’t hold to a penal model but to a satisfaction model. The two are quite distinct and different concepts. The penal model is the work of the Reformers and not Anselm. In any case, John 12 with Christ drawing all to himself doesn’t imply either universalism or limited atonement because you are thinking that the conditions on something being true of my nature are necessarily the same conditions of something being true of me. They aren’t. It may be true that I am carried along in terms of ever being, that doesn’t imply that I also necessarily enjoy ever well being. The second depends on hypostatic participation. To collapse these two as both the Lutherans and the Reformed do (and Rome as well) on the basis of monergism is to make persons into instances of natures.

    I can’t really see either any argument but rather assertions or when arguments are attempted they rest on either principles the Orthodox reject or false dichotomies. Consequently, I don’t think you’ve demonstrated that Orthodox triadology is inconsistent with its soteriology and this because your gloss of the latter turns on a straw man.

    As for the Scythian Monks, if you wish to claim that they adopted everything Augustine professed, you’ll need to make that argument. Many people were “Augustinian” without embracing everything Augustine taught. This is true for the Lutherans, the Reformed and Rome. As I noted in our last exchange, you denied that Augustine taught that we co-operate in salvation and I showed that he in fact did so. That we do so is something you deny and yet claim to be Augustinian. Consequently simply noting that the Scythians attempted to combine “Augustinianism” with Chalcedon by itself goes nowhere. We’d need to know if they were successful in doing so and if the church adopted what they proposed, which it didn’t. The church’s canonical and liturgical adoption of their contribution to the Trisagion doesn’t give any credence to the idea that the church adopted Augustinian monergism, especially in light over their tendency towards monophysitism.

    If you reject a Lutheran and Reformed doctrine of God then you should also reject the Filioque as well. Given what you’ve written above I can’t see how you can maintain that rejection consistently. An affirmation of the doctrine of energies entails a dyoenergist Christology which entails that humanity is active in salvation which excludes monergism.
    If you reject the Reformed and Lutheran conceptions of God, then you are outside those confessional traditions, which makes it rather strange that you are advocating for positions that you reject and adhere to a doctrine of God that said traditions reject. It seems to me you are in a no mans land.

    I think you think that the ordo theologiae is limited to the doctrine of God, but it in fact carries all the way through. Its turtles all the way down as it were. Consequently, the proper ordo theologiae is incompatible at the soteriological level with monergism since the latter turns on an improper ordo.

    This means that all too often (in typical ‘fundamentalist’ fashion, for lack of a better term) the form is confused with the substance, the messenger confused with the message, etc.

    To recognize the importence and indispensability doesn’t conflate the means with the message, but recognizes the biblical model that Christ was sent from the Father establishing the primacy of sending as that which frames the message.

    If as an “Augustinian” you deny universal atonement, then this seems to put you on the outs with Confessional Lutheranism. Not only that, it seems to leave the resurrection of the wicked dangling without explanation.

    I do not claim that Jesus is contradicting himselfin John 17. I am only affirming that those prayed for in the early part are clearly the apostles without reference to anyone else. Obviously there were other believers than them so that the prayer for them per se doesn’t of itself establish the fault lines of election and reprobation. The “world” there seems to pick out those who currently believe not but per the latter part of the passage can come to belief. Hence you assume a prayer not for the world implies reprobation and election. Try this for starters. (http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=2161&cpage=1 )

    Christ’s humanity isn’t unindividuated. This would be so if Christ were not a person. Christ’s person is individuated by his divine person. That of itself would not exclude him as the font of the race any more than Adam being individuated by his person would preclude him from being the font of the race. The problem is that you are thinking of the relation as an instance of a type where types are causally inert mental entities. Christ’s human nature isn’t per se different than that of the first Adam’s, specifically since he derived it from Mary. Rejuvenation doesn’t imply the kind of anthropological annihilation that you seem to favor.

    If we take your schema with your previous assertions that the nature/person relation is symmetrical such that what is true of one will be equally true of the other, then we must adhere to absurd consequences. If you take on Christ’s humanity which replaces your old humanity, then it will follow that Christ’s person replaces your own, obliterating you altogether. There is no I or an ego apart from the person. The indexical refers to the person. Second, when you refer to “my personhood as that which is both person and nature” the heretical conflation of person and nature is plain to see. Christ’s person is not your person. Such a thing is impossible and absurd.

    If Christ’s humanity is consubstantial to the reprobate, then they are united to Chist since consubstantiality entails union. If we were to say that consubstantiality refers to kind only, then you’ll be stuck saying that Christ’s humanity post resurrection is wicked and bound to sin. Christ’s humanity can’t be of the “old creation” since that which is of sin is not of creation at all. The imago dei is not of sin.

  19. ioannis says:

    Jason Loh,

    What about Matthew 5:44-45?
    “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

    And Paul prays for the Israel of the flesh that was persecuting him in Romans 10:1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”

    We see that in Matthew 5:44-45 Christ says to His disciples to pray for those that hate them. And who is that if not the world according to John 17 that you referred to? “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” John 17:14.

  20. Jason Loh says:

    “Is Christ united to the reprobate?”

    Christ’s human nature is consubstantial to the reprobate, but He is not united to the reprobate because the reprobate belongs to the old creation. The old creation is re-contextualised in Christ to be the new creation, just as the old human nature in Christ is recontextualised so that it becomes glorified human nature.

  21. Jason Loh says:


    Yes, I’m a Lutheran but I maintained a Reformed understanding of atonement *minus* a penal substitionary model as rigidly construed. For me, the recapitulation on the Cross is subsumed under the Christus Victor motif – the dominant motif. I disagree with the fathers on conflating Christ’s consubstantiality with *all* men with the *individual* human nature of all men. This is so since human nature does not exist by its own, i.e. self-subsistent.

    In other words, Christ’s *own* unindividuated human nature is not equivalent to *my* personal human nature. To do so would imply that person is an instantiation of nature.

    Instead in Baptism, the person is taken away from his human nature consubstantial with the First Adam and put on Christ’s own human nature (the Second Adam) which is given to me. This is the blessed or joyous exchange of the communicatio idiomatum. My own human nature dies as belonging to the old creation. And just so Christ’s human nature which is in *hypostatic/personal* union with His Person becomes *mine*. That is it is no longer I that liveth but Christ who liveth me …

    So that whilst my person is still distinct in identity (I/Ego), my personhood as that which is both person and nature is wholyl taken up into Christ that my personhood is Christ’s personhood – I am the Body, Christ is the Head.

  22. MG says:


    Sorry, I thought that as someone with a more Lutheran-esque position that you would be closer to the Lutherans on the issue of universal atonement.

    How do you square your denial of Christ’s consubstantiality with all men with the consensus of the Fathers on this issue? Such lights as Irenaeus, Athanasius, the Cappadocians, and Cyril (I could name more) all seem to think that Christ’s consubstantiality with all is the means by which He can accomplish the recapitulation. Obviously consubstantiality with all men is different from membership in Christ’s body (though one is the ground of the other).

    Also, how would you interpret Ephesians 1:10-11 and Colossians 1:20? Is Christ united to all things in heaven and on earth (including the reprobate)?

  23. Jason Loh says:

    Perry Robinson,

    Re John 17:20-23, are you suggesting that God and Jesus are contradicting themselves since Jesus made it plain that He does not pray for the world and explicitly contrast that world with those whom the Father had given to Him?

  24. Jason Loh says:


    You pose a good question. But since as an Augustinian, I do not hold to universal atonement, I deny that the Jesus incorporates every single person into His Body, only the elect. After all, there is no dispute that only the baptised are so incorporated and not everyone is baptised. But Baptism is simply God’s determinative will or His electing deed to save a sinner. That is Baptism makes plain or reveal in time and space the will of God from eternity.

  25. Jason Loh says:


    But that’s the problem though. However, before saying anything further, let me take back my recommendation, forget even confessional Lutheranism. The question is whether the Protestant Reformation as exemplified by Luther was wrong.

    You brought up ecclesiology. The problem with ecclesiology is that it can be a form of ‘fundamentalism’ in which apostolicity, catholicity are judged according to that criterion. But ecclesiology and soteriology go together, as you know even as the person and work of Christ go together. Going further, even ecclesiology cannot trump soteriology as it were since it is the Church which is the pillar and ground of the truth as per scripture, not apostolic succession.

    This means that all too often (in typical ‘fundamentalist’ fashion, for lack of a better term) the form is confused with the substance, the messenger confused with the message, etc.

    Tradition, apostolic succession … these are the means of proclaiming and transmitting the Gospel. And as the scripture makes clear, even e.g. in Romans 9 set in context of the OT Israel, one can have the form and yet be devoid of the substance. All this because they have turned the form into the substance in the confusion between Law and promise, obedience to external forms and faith inspired by grace.

  26. Jason Loh says:


    Why am I posting in little bits at time? That’s my style. I suppose you could say my distinctive style.

  27. MG,

    Easy. Christ can’t be consubstantial with all men or some aren’t human in the full sense of the word, a la a loss of the imago dei.

  28. MG says:


    You wrote:

    “It is extrincism when viewed christocentrically simply because the relationship between the divine and human is never apart or outside the Incarnation and by extension the ‘recapitulatio.’ Thus our relationship with God is mirrored by and mirrors the personal union itself. This means whilst there are are two ‘energies’ – the divine and human, there is only one acting subject and that is God (the Son). Just as the impersonal unindividuated human nature is passive, so are we when we are incorporated into His Body. In the Body of Christ, there can only be one head and one actor/operator/agent. God the Spirit sent forth by the Son in the economy is the co-agent of the Son in the human side of the equation. It is He, i.e. the Spirit which gives or rather creates faith in the new man so that he/she is free to believe. And by so doing, the Spirit ‘returns’ to the Son as the goal and summation of all things.”

    When you say that the relationship between divine and human is never apart from or outside the incarnation, and that our relationship with God is mirrored by and mirrors the personal union of the Incarnation, you seem to be saying that the incarnation is fully determinative of what human persons do, not just the actualization of some of the shared powers of human nature. Now if this is so, and Christ takes on universal human nature, then doesn’t that imply universalism? If the Incarnation deterministically moves persons, how can you avoid the conclusion of universalism?

  29. Robert says:


    No thanks, that would be a huge step backwards to give up the Pearl of Great Price. Luther’s credentials, as a successor of the apostles, just don’t add up.

    “Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth.” – St Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV 26:2

    Ecclesiology is the archilles heel of all Protestant manifestations.

  30. Robert,

    First, let me give a caveat. Reformation theology is not isomorphic to Catholic scholasticism. There are important differences. For example, in the Bondage of the Will, Luther’s position is essentially no different than Stoic Necessitarianism, especially since he explicitly employs Stoic arguments to reach the same ends by the same means. Aquinas, Albert or Anselm are not Necessitarians in this way. There are other important differences, but at the end of the day, I don’t think that the respective scholastic views land you in a different place. It is something of a softer blow and it gives the impression that they affirm genuine “freedom” but I don’t think it is really any different conception of freedom at work. We are still left with the problems of God loving some people more than others and for this to be the case relative to God as diffusing himself or his power in a necessarily graded way. And we are left with a conception of freedom where alternative possibilities are sheered off to render us assimilatable to the good since the good is simple and is incompatible with plurality.

    The reason why the scholastic positions in the main aren’t substantially different in this way is due to an Augustinian outlook and the Platonic (and Stoic) structuring of Augustine’s theology. I don’t think Augustine meant to distort and I think he was willing to be corrected. If he had lived and gone to the council of Ephesus, I think things might be very different today. So I don’t take Augustine to be some diabolical evil man anymore than I take Nyssa to be when he erred. But when Popes speak of Augustine being the best of the Fathers and the Latin liturgies being superior to all others, I think its poppycock.

    That said, to be fair, when Catholics object to Calvinistic predestination, I think they do so in large part due to ignorance as to what Catholic doctors have explicitly said, which isn’t any softer than what Calvin or Beza had to say. God picks some because he loves some more than others. It doesn’t matter how you get to that destination. A corpse really doesn’t care how it got that way, does it? He could save all, and he gives adequate helps, but effective helps to some and not others, and this is all supposedly OK since God isn’t, as a matter of justice required to give effective helps to all. I think the emphasis on justice is really switching the question. It isn’t a question of justice, but goodness. Sure, perhaps if I am not obligated to help someone who through their own fault is suffering the consequences of said fault, to refrain from doing so might be just, but is it good? I don’t think it is good at all. Can you imagine a saint saying to someone in said situation “See! You are getting what you deserve! You had all these helps and you didn’t use them (even though you could not have used them since God didn’t give you the necessary power to do so.) and so you are justly suffering down there in that pit!” Huh? That strikes me more akin to the passers by the man in the parable of the good Samaritan.

    The question isn’t whether God is just in passively or negatively reprobating some, but whether it is good for him to do so when he could have saved them through the free giving of effective means? Is the world really *that* much better for having the reprobate in it and all the attending evils and suffering? Assuming there are goods that could not be brought about without evil actions (which I largely reject) are those goods *so* much better than the goods had in a world where sin, death and suffering are absent and everyone is impeccable? I don’t think so and I don’t think other Christians in their heart of hearts or better moments think so either. The problem is that people treat evil like a good, that it has a logos or a plan and so this “explains” evil giving it a purpose since God uses it to being about greater goods. This is a mistake. Evil is not God’s opposite and the good does not depend on evil to be brought about. The good is autonomous in this respect. And this is why evil strikes us so, because it doesn’t have an explanation. It has no logos or purpose. If evil did, we would have gotten used to it as a “good” means relative to some end. But no matter how we try, evil resists all plausible explanations. This is not to say that there isn’t a reason why evil is possible, for surely there is or that God can’t achieve his goals despite evil intentions of men and angels, because he surely does. But taking evil seriously means to mourn with those who mourn and stop telling people that it’s “all for the best” when their experience, rightly tells them it isn’t. There is then no Felix Culpa for what relation does light have with darkness? The answer isn’t “some.”

    God is good and in him there is no darkness, at all.

  31. jnorm888 says:

    Jason Loh,

    Why are you posting in little bits at a time?

  32. Jason Loh says:

    And also to show that the correct ordo theologiae is not necessarily incompatible with Augustinian anthropology and Reformation soteriology. Both are not necessarily exclusive. The Scythian monks from the East were clear regarding the Theopaschite controversy. An orthodox christology requires an Augustinian soteriology.

  33. Jason Loh says:


    Thus, I have argued that EO triadology is inconsistent with its soteriology and of course with biblical data and patristic witness. Don’t forget that the Scythian monks under John Maxentius were Augustinians from the East. As for Reformed and Lutheran doctrine of God, well, you should be arguing against someone else, not me. As you know, I no longer hold to Reformed conception of God. And I do not hold to a Lutheran scholastic conception of God. I have been arguing all along along the ordo theologiae of persons-energies-essence, and nothing else.

  34. Jason Loh says:

    When Jesus says that He *will* draw all men to Himself, what did He mean? Does all men mean human nature? If so, isn’t this a classic case of confusing person with nature, where person is an instantiation of nature? If all is taken to be all in the universal sense as understood by EO, then persons are in view here … and if so, then to be irresistibly drawn *to* Jesus either refers to universalism or limited atonement (not necessarily the Anselmian penal model).

  35. Jason Loh says:

    And how can nature be *predestined* to ever-being, when divine predestination precisely implies finality determined prior to any choice made by the human objects/subjects? Can one be predestined to an abstract, hypothetical scenario? Wouldn’t this involve confusion of actuality with potentiality??

    Does God the Father predestined abstract nature to an abstract condition in the first place? Isn’t this a classic error of confusion between essence and will???

  36. Jason Loh says:

    And so if Jesus recapitulates fully, completely, totally, then the work of the Spirit is subordinate to Jesus in that He, i.e. the Spirit adds nothing to what Jesus has already done but as the eschatological Spirit ‘extends’ the recapitulation in time and space. Therefore, this leaves no room for free-will. If you say Jesus leaves room for free-will, then His death and resurrection which precisely destroys free-will is meaningless.

  37. Jason Loh says:

    If recapitulation is to be recapitulation, then everything, including persons must be recapitulated in, by and through Jesus. If that were not so, then Jesus ends being Exemplum par excellence and not first and foremost and principally the Sacramentum Mundi. The former is a form of Pelagianism since persons are not in anyway affected by the recapitulation so that they ‘capitulate’ to grace as when the old man is destroyed to make way for the rising up of the new man. Grace ends being created rather than uncreated by implication for the Spirit by the nature of Baptism does not overwhelm, drown, definitively set apart without any human activity.

  38. Jason Loh says:

    Ancestral sin is problematic and unsatisfactory simply because it does not solve the problem of original sin but merely shifts the problem from personal assumption of guilt to natural transferability of death.

    If this is the case, then why are babies baptised? The baptismal liturgy leaves no room for free will.

  39. Jason Loh says:

    Thus, God is always and only honoured by faith, not free-will. Free-will is the fruit, not the tree. Faith is. Jesus died so that man can be reborn to have faith in God. The death and resurrection of Jesus leaves no room for the exercise of free-will simply because to repeat it is not human nature which constitutes the Body, persons do.

  40. Jason Loh says:

    It was loss of faith in God the Creator which resulted in the misuse of free-will by Adam and Eve, not the other way round. That being the case, the relationship between God the Creator and Adam and Eve is one of faith, not free-will. The free-will that Adam and Eve had was ‘horizontal’ rather than ‘vertical.’ This is evident from the fact that when Adam and Eve lost faith in God the Creator, they willed that which could never come into existence that is to be autonomous. They were able to eat the fruit by their own will and was unable to realise or achieve their divine ambition.

    Free-will and autonomy always go hand in hand in relation to God. So that one never has free-will in relation to God: One is either bound to fear God or bound to love God. Thus, it was ironic, it was only when they ‘decided’ to exercise *free* will that they ‘fell.’

  41. Jason Loh says:


    What you have expounded concerning the person and the gnomic will was precisely what I said in a short paragraph. We are not contradicting one another.

    This is where I find the EO concept of free-will to be inherently a form of ‘extrincism’ which the EO (rightly to an extent and in some ways) criticised the Reformed in relation to justification as imputation.

    It is extrincism when viewed christocentrically simply because the relationship between the divine and human is never apart or outside the Incarnation and by extension the ‘recapitulatio.’ Thus our relationship with God is mirrored by and mirrors the personal union itself. This means whilst there are are two ‘energies’ – the divine and human, there is only one acting subject and that is God (the Son). Just as the impersonal unindividuated human nature is passive, so are we when we are incorporated into His Body. In the Body of Christ, there can only be one head and one actor/operator/agent. God the Spirit sent forth by the Son in the economy is the co-agent of the Son in the human side of the equation. It is He, i.e. the Spirit which gives or rather creates faith in the new man so that he/she is free to believe. And by so doing, the Spirit ‘returns’ to the Son as the goal and summation of all things.

  42. Jason Loh says:


    You are right about the Reformed. But is EO really a ‘viable option’ to the Reformed? Since, you no longer hold to limited atonement (LA), I’d urge to seriously consider confessional Lutheranism, not because it’s perfect and ‘fool-proof’ but amongst all the Christian traditions, you get a balance of evangelical theology and catholicity.

  43. Jason Loh says:

    Perry Robinson,

    I’ll get back to you in due course.

  44. Jason Loh says:

    Dear Mr Ioannis,

    Thank you for addressing me by my full name. But obviously there is no need to do so. And I would kindly urge you to refrain from wasting your ‘time’ addressing me by my surname/family name. Jason will do. As for Matthew 23:37, it is clear, is it not, that Jesus desires the salvation of Jerusalem’s children, not Jerusalem as represented by the religious leaders.

  45. Robert says:


    I would agree. The Reformed just have a target on their backs (this merely may be a reflection of my own past, having been in the Van Tillian camp of reformed theology for decades).

    Why do you think the Reformers essentially did not differ in regards to “free will” from their Catholic counter parts? What is the root of the problem (for both)? How specifically is EO able to counter such? Perhaps you would be so kind to expound.

  46. Robert,

    If I could suggest, none of the citations are by distinctly Reformed authors, but Catholic sources. Often Catholics talk up a lot about “free will” over against their Reformed or Lutheran opponents, but they do not fundamentally differ on what constitutes freedom.

  47. Robert says:

    “When it sucks to be you” – when one is hamstrung by the deterministic theology of the Reformed. Indeed.

    Thanks Perry and fellow EO for your tireless labors here. Excellent work. Keep it coming.

  48. Jason Loh,

    You cited John 17:9 which seems quite obviously to be speaking about the Apostles in particular.

    If you notice vv. 20-23 Jesus seems to pray for the “world.” Who is the “world” that is doing the “knowing” and what is it that they “know?” I think its a pretty slim reed to argue that this “knowing” has no redemptive content.

  49. Jason Loh,

    Sure, 1 Tim 2:4 includes Judas since Judas is raised immortal. If he’s not, then there is no resurrection. In Adam all die and in Christ, all are raised up. The problem is that you assume that salvation is exclusively a personal matter. Do you mean to suggest that prayer for kings, Paul is recommending that we only pray for kings elected to salvation? Did Paul pray for Nero, whom I take to be the “man of sin” as king or no?

    It in no way follows that God wills two contradictory things from the fact that God wills things in different ways or degrees of motion. As even Augustine noted, God ordains all things, but he does not cause all things. God wills the salvation of all in different ways, relative to person and nature. With respect to nature it is irresistible since nature is not the realm of choice and Christ is consubstantial with all men. God cannot irresistibly will the salvation of a given person without contradicting his own will relative to the logos of their nature, which entails freedom. And this logos is divine.

    If you wish to charge Maximus with Nestorianism, then you’ll need to make that argument. It would only smack of Nestorianism if we took each of the natural powers as persons, but Maximus certainly doesn’t. And this is why your charge of Nestorianism is frankly, silly. One divine person wills two different goods by two different powers. If you reject this, then you condemn your own tradition’s subscription to the theology and decisions of the 6th council.
    I don’t know what fallacy you think is involved in ADS. I don’t think I’ve argued that ADS is fallacious, but rather that it is false or at least incompatible with Christian theology. Fallacies are inference rules that are not truth preserving. If you agree that ADS is false, then you’ll need to reject Lutheranism and Calvinism as well regardless of what you think about predestination since they subscribe to it as well. Of course, if you reject ADS, I do not know how you will make the traditional arguments concerning omniscience and predestination go through since simplicity is a necessary condition for two being the same things so that such arguments can go through.

    Christ’s willing to go to the cross and not go to the cross (to preserve his life) would only imply an opposition and contradiction if one of them was not also willed by God and if difference and distinction were the same thing as being contrary and contradictory to, but they aren’t.

    If you reject our reading of Paul, how about Peter in 2nd Pet 2:1? How is it that Christ is said to have redeemed those who reject him on your view?

    Since anyone who denies that Jesus is God incarnate is anti-Christ, do you mean to suggest I should not pray for my unbelieving neighbors? If antichrist is my enemy, are you suggesting that I should not pray for my enemies? Does love seek its own? Should I hate my enemies instead of praying for them?

    Did Paul hope that those whom he anathametized would return? He certainly seems to write as if he thought as much. (1 Cor 5:5)

    As for Matt 23, why are the religious rulers blameworthy if they are mere conduits for divine activity? What is the ultimate source of their activity if not God? Adding links to the chain of causation, secondary or otherwise won’t remove God from culpability. Why does responsibility only attach to secondary causes and not primary causes on your view? The only reason they rejected Christ on your view was that God determined them to do so.
    But of course you could try your hand at Luke 7:30. “but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)”

    As for Judas, it is quite true that his lot was foretold, but foretelling doesn’t necessarily imply a prior cause or a deterministic one. So you’ll need to show how we get from the fact that the prophets predict things to the conclusion that God causes and deterministically so such things.

  50. Jason,

    When I say that the person is determinative, I do not mean determinative to refer to the thesis of determinism, but only to say that the person is the cause. Persons can cause things without willing in a gnomic way. For agents that do will gnomically, it is not as if at any given moment they can drop their gnomic mode of willing. You ask how the person is determinative in the first place without willing gnomically since theosis is a process. I think I addressed this above by saying that it is the person that is the sufficient cause of a given action.
    Theosis for us is necessarily dependent on a gnomic use of the will since we are creatures. For Christ’s recapitulation it is not and this is because Christ is a divine person and not a created person. Divine persons have no beginning and hence embark on no process whereby their natural telos and personal use of their natures’ powers become fused or fixed. Christ’s recapitulation in this way is not a process like ours in so far as his personal use of the will is not gnomic.

    We agree that election takes place, if “taking place” is even appropriate language (its not), prior to creation. That is not in dispute. We disagree over the nature, scope and end of election. So we do not disagree over its pre-temporal “occurrence” or its gratuity. I never argued for election based on foreseen merits. I only argued that God elects for a purpose since Paul says that it is the purpose that comes through the election that is of ultimate importance. That purpose is the bringing about of messiah. Christ is therefore the telos or goal of the Law, which prepared the way for his advent. In this way the Law was our custodian and school master. (Ps 19:7) In this way, Law and Gospel are not dialectically opposed.

    Certainly on your gloss election rules out apostasy and final impenitence since election entails perseverance and perseverance logically precludes final impenitence. Unless you think that election doesn’t entail final glory you are committed to the thesis that election entails perseverance and hence the warning passages are irrelevant for those who are elected. The warnings in terms of conditional statements could not on your gloss possibly be applicable to the elect and are also quite irrelevant even to the reprobate. The elect can just say, “I’m elect. It is not possible for me to fall away so this passages is not applicable to me.” The reprobate can reason in a similar way. “I am not elect and this passages assumes that the recipient has received grace, but I haven’t, otherwise I would be elect. And I can’t do anything either way relative to means or relative to ends to change my non-elect status. So not just on a theoretical level, but also on a practical level, the warning passages are irrelevant to me.”

    On your view 2 Cor 6:1 is not an urging that is in fact applicable to the elect. They never could receive the grace of God in vain and those who did could never make the grace effective so they necessarily receive it in vain. Either way, the passage applies to no one on your view. So it can’t be Law or Gospel to anyone, assuming of course we accept that Reformation antithesis or dialectical way of framing Law and Gospel.

    Consequently, I can’t see how you could be correct when you say that the reprobate understands that the waning of perseverance is dependent on him or her. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned and the reprobate can’t discern spiritual things and so can’t discern that perseverance is dependent on him. Even if he could, what you are arguing is that the reprobate systematically misunderstands the text.
    More directly, I’ve pointed out an issue in metaphysics relative to practical matters and you slid it over to epistemology. The difference as you gloss it is perspectival. The elect hears the passage one way and the reprobate the other. But that is not what I pointed towards. That was the fact, regardless of perspective that the passages are irrelevant. They are irrelevant to the elect since they are not applicable. And they are not applicable since it is a fact that grace is irresistible. The passage could only apply to them if they could fulfill the relevant conditions, but that is impossible. So it seems that not only are you arguing that the reprobate misunderstand the texts, but also the elect, since they understand it as a word of assurance with respect to their standing applicable to themselves. But it isn’t applicable to themselves and never could. How could urging someone not to receive the grace of God “in vain” be relevant for someone for whom it is impossible to do so? Regardless of their perspective on the verse, the verse is irrelevant to them. Such warning passages aren’t about producing psychological states of assurance, but are warnings that the same thing could happen to you if *you* aren’t careful.

    I didn’t ask how the Father specifically exercises free will. I said “God” referring to the Trinity. You’re answer here leaves my question untouched and the reason is that the conditions you give are ambiguous and could be filled in by a variety of views. So when I ask, does God have or exercise free will, you need to spell out what the conditions on free volitional activity in fact are in your judgment. Is God the source of his own actions or is he determined by his nature? Can God choose between alternatives options or does God with respect to ends always have one and only one option open to him? Now one of those notions is what you take freedom to be in the case of humanity, so I am wondering if you think it is so with God or you entertain two different notions of freedom, one relative to God and one to creatures.

    As for Romans 9, I certainly agree with the imagery of the potter and the clay. God can choose whom he will through whom his purposes come to fruition without that action of election guaranteeing the salvation of those elect. If it did, then the Jewish objection against Christ being Messiah have had merit. If election entailed salvation, then if Jesus was Messiah, Israel should have been saved, but Israel was not, therefore…To argue alone that election does entail salvation but by faith would only miss the point since one could argue that if Israel was elect, then they too should have had faith as predestined by God, but they didn’t and so therefore…Only together, salvation through repentance and faith along with the point that election doesn’t entail salvation does Paul’s argument go through. This is why as I pointed out earlier, he warns believers that they too can be cut off if they think that the purpose that comes through their election entails their salvation. But if election entailed salvation, this line of thinking would be absurd since election through which a purpose comes would entail salvation and so would not permit the distinction that Paul’s argument turns on.
    Saying that God’s will is unbounded is really not helpful. An entirely effective will is not necessarily the same as a will that is free with respect to its effective willing activity. Here you are conflating the efficacy of God’s volitional activity with the freedom of god’s volitional activity. If God has predestined all to come to pass, does this include God’s own actions? Could God have not created anything at all? Could he have not redeemed anyone or everyone? To say that God predestines at the personal and natural level I think confuses a few things. The natural power of choice does nothing. The persons using the natural power that they possess will things in terms of action. The persons do the acting and not the nature. In any case, even if what you were to say were true, then the Son and the Spirit would be predestinators fully as the Father since they have the same essence. Here you have implicitly it seems subordinated the Son and the Spirit to the Father by an act of will. So the relevant question is, is the Son predestined qua hypostasis?

    When you say that the Son has come into the world to do the Father’s will (Jn 6:38) do the Father and the Son will the same objects of choice? Is there only one will in God? How do you understand Jn 6:38?
    God could only will salvifically under the form of opposites, if Arianism were true. This is why the Athanasian cosmology is so striking. Arian cosmology took reality to be a pool of opposing powers and of course God was related to the world in an oppositional way (the absolutely unchanging and the absolutely changing), which is why he required a mediator, a lesser deity who could be mutable and immutable, but in as a matter of degree. Against this, Athanasius form his earliest writings lays out a non-oppositional cosmology where God is not opposed to creation and his access is unmediated and direct. In Christ, all of the “opposites” are reconciled.
    The holy Word of the Father, then, almighty and all-perfect, uniting with the universe and having everywhere unfolded His own powers, and having illumined all, both things seen and things invisible, holds them together and binds them to Himself, having left nothing void of His own power, but on the contrary quickening and sustaining all things everywhere, each severally and all collectively; while He mingles in one the principles of all sensible existence, heat namely and cold and wet and dry, and causes them not to conflict, but to make up one concordant harmony. 2. By reason of Him and His power, fire does not fight with cold nor wet with dry, but principles mutually opposed, as if friendly and brotherly combine together, and give life to the things we see, and form the principles by which bodies exist. Obeying Him, even God the Word, things on earth have life and things in the heaven have their order. By reason of Him all the sea, and the great ocean, move within their proper bounds, while, as we said above, the dry land grows grasses and is clothed with all manner of diverse plants. And, not to spend time in the enumeration of particulars, where the truth is obvious, there is nothing that is and takes place but has been made and stands by Him and through Him, as also the Divine says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.” Against the Heathen, sec. 42.

    This is why Law and Gospel cannot be “opposites.” If they were, Christ’s work would be unfinished. Not only that, they would necessarily be both creatures, which seems to run afoul of Rev 14:6.

    As for the Son changing his mind, the temporality is irrelevant, since the divine person of the Son in the economy is not circumscribed by temporal conditions. The actualization in time as you put it would imply that the divine person is altered by temporal conditions and thus force you to jettison the classical Lutheran and Reformed doctrine of impassibility. As in Rome as in Geneva and Wittenberg, nothing moves God. Capacity would by in those traditions an unrealized potency and in God for those traditions there is no unrealized potency.
    If you think that Romans 9 is about salvation in the way the Reformers thought, you’ll need to make that argument. I do not know why you think you need to post the passage as if I don’t read the Bible or haven’t read the passage before. As I’ve said on a number of occasions, I used to be Reformed and I know their proof texts sufficiently well.

    I know why you seem to equate the Law with freedom but I don’t subscribe to that nature/grace dialectic. The Law by contrast in Paul is not external to us, but within our hearts. Since nature is of grace, both extrinsically and intrinsically, freedom and the law are as well, which is why there is no opposition between them. You confuse efficacy or the lack thereof with opposition. The Law of itself may be insufficient given our natural powers to save us, but this doesn’t put it in an oppositional position to grace, as Paul says, may it never be. The Law is not sin. For similar reasons, the image in which we are created and which we retain in full is insufficient apart from God’s power for salvation. This does not imply that the imago dei was lost or corrupted by human choice. Something else was lost, namely the divine power in which were the divine persons whose power it is, whom our first parents abandoned. Sin is always personal. The problem as I see it is that you take righteousness to be constitutive of the imago dei and I don’t. Adam was naturally good and innocent, but not yet righteous. Consequently, salvation is not passivity over against God’s activity, but God bringing us into his activity and so we move with God and in God. To make humans completely passive in the face of divine grace overturns God’s will for creation.

    If predestination is grounded in the Father’s love for the Son, then why are all raised with the Son? If you appeal to mystery at just the point that your system implies an apparent problem, I can’t help but see that as ad hoc. I am not sure why I am not arbitrarily entitled to appeal to “mystery” at just the point you raise an objection. What you are committed to is the thesis that it is in fact good for God to damn some rather than save them, even when under all possible descriptions one can offer it doesn’t seem as if it is good.

    Proposing the Son as a solution to the problem only moves the problem into Christology. And as I’ve argued previously, a shift to Lutheran Christology won’t get you out of the problems with Reformed Christology, it will only move them. (https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/oops/)

    The question isn’t if the Father loves the Son, but what connection that has to your view of election and reprobation. If the Father loving the Son explains election, does the Father hating the Son explain reprobation? If the Father at any point, logical or temporal, hates the Son, you are going to be committed to either an Arian or Nestorian Christology. Either the Son is not of one essence with the Father and so can be hated, or there is a Son that is not the eternal Son who is hated. Making the “hating” forensic won’t help either since the question is to whom it is applicable.

    I don’t take freedom to be ultimately grounded in philosophy (as your Law/Gospel dialectic is grounded in Ockhamism) but in Scripture. When Scripture speaks of God being free, making choices, etc. and then speaks in the same way (albeit in a more narrow scope) of humans I don’t take it to be the case that Scripture is talking about two different things. So on the contrary, I do not take it to undermine scripture’s clarity or its divine character. And recall please, that we do not have the same canon of Scripture. And so there are scriptural passages that explicitly teach human freedom.

  51. ioannis says:

    Anathematising someone, I think, is not incompatible with praying for his salvation. On the contrary, the anathema is a means by which the Church works for bringing about that man’s salvation by showing him that he is in error and he has to reform his ways if he wishes to be saved.

  52. ioannis says:

    Dear Jason Loh,

    Thank you for calling me “Mr.” but there is no need to do so unless you want me to address you in the same manner as well and if that’s the case I apologise that I did not do that from the beginning.

    In my opinion the Christians pray for the salvation of all men without exception and therefore they pray for the Antichrist as well and even if they do not do that at the moment it is because the Antichrist is a role and a title and the man who is going to play that role and bear that name has not been born yet. But since he is not going to be anything else but a man like the rest of us I believe that Christians will pray for him as well.

    1 Timothy 2:4 includes Judas as well. That’s why Christ said that it would be better if Judas had not been born at all expressing thus His sorrow for the perdition of His disciple. It includes the Man of Sin mentioned in the 1st epistle to Thessalonians as well for whom and his followers Paul writes in the same text: “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11) showing that their salvation was up to their will.

    If Christ did not desire the salvation of Jerusalem then why did He try so many times to gather its children as He said and why did He send His prophets?

  53. Jason Loh says:


    Scripture has only one sense in terms of meaning, but if you want to talk about allegory and all that, that’s fine, as long as it does not contradict the plain sense, that is meaning. You see, even sectarians like good ole’ Harold Camping employs allegory or rather exploit allegory, typology to the full extent such that he could claim to predict the actual date of the end of the world and that the age of the church has now ended.

    So, when Jesus plain says that He does not desire the salvation of all without exception, what other sense is there? But yes, as Michael says the Reformed are not all agreed on predestination. You have the supra versus infra debate, and the debate on the so-called ‘free offer’ or the ‘well-meant offer’ of the gospel in which it is said that God (in general) sincerely desires the salvation of all without exception in time even though he has elected only some to salvation from eternity. They call this a paradox by which they mean a clear-cut contradiction which is only ‘soluble’ or rather solvable in the eschaton.

  54. Michael says:

    Thank you very much for your efforts. I think you did a great job. I would like to respond, but I am leaving town and will only have my iPhone. Have you ever tried to write a cogent response from an iPhone? If you have then you are familiar with my hesitation to do so:)Would it be possible for me to write back when I get home in a week? I may be able to make brief responses from my iPhone, but i feel that since you spent the time to write a very thoughtful response, I should do the same. Just a couple parting thoughts to see what you think. First, the reformed are not monolithic on their interpretation of Romans 9, so this passage is not determinative for our understanding of election. Men like Leon Morris agree with you that Paul is speaking of corporate election here, though he would have some disagreement over some details. Second, have you ever hear and considered the view that Paul is speaking of both corporate and individual election? That is the view I favor and is one of the reasons why I could appreciate many things you have said. My original question has been answered well. I was mostly curious to see how the EO understand Romans 9. Thank you for your time.

  55. jnorm888 says:

    Jason Lo,

    The Apostles saw Jesus as fulfilling the prophecies as found in the Old Testament. When you read a good number of those prophecies with just the historical grammatical method alone, then you will have to assume that the text was either only talking about carnal Israel, King David, one of the O.T. Prophets, or the people of Israel/Judea in general. That’s what you will have to say if Scripture only had one sense, but if Scripture had multiple senses…..which I believe Jesus, The Apostles, as well as 2nd Temple Judaism in general all believed, then Scripture can only be rightly understood by using Jesus as the matrix or hermeneutical grid.

    Now as far as all Israel not being of Israel, I think MG’s post did a good job at explaining what that means in regards to the first half of Romans chapter 9.

    As seen here:
    “The first two examples demonstrate (A). The fact that Isaac and Ishmael were both “the seed of Abraham” does not entail that they both continued the line of “children of God” through which the Messiah was born. Rather, only the one who is a recipient of the promise can continue the Messianic ancestry as the seed that is called. That’s what it means to say that not all of Israel are Israel; not all in the genealogical line are equally recipients of the promise. But notice that this does not mean that God’s preference for one of Abraham’s children means the other was not blessed or saved.”

    and here:
    “he object of election is the nation of Israel, then. And if so, Paul can’t be talking in these verses about election unto eternal salvation. After all, if he was, then we would have to conclude that all of Israel is saved. Regardless of whether this election of one over the other was unconditional or based on foreseen faith, it was not an election to eternal salvation, because it was an election of the bloodline and nation through the father of that nation.

    The fact that God says He will have mercy on whom He has mercy and harden whom He hardens is not a way of saying He saves and damns unconditionally. Instead it is a way of saying that God is faithful to his promises (righteous) regardless of how people react to his covenant-fulfilling and electing actions. The fact that this happens is based on the prior fact of God’s faithfulness to his promises—that He “has mercy on whom He has mercy”, as He declares to Moses who has “found favor in his sight”(Ex 33:13).”

    Jason Lo, What does it mean to be “In Christ”? What does it mean to be “united” with Christ?

    Jesus is Israel! And all those who repent, believe, and are united with Him through water Baptism and filled with the Holy Spirit through Chrismation/Confirmation are saved, and they will be saved if they persevere In Him to the end.

    This is the only Nation that matters when it comes to the issue of Election, and elect Nations. For this is the only Nation that actually saves. Yes, Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day but He allows both those who are as well as are not circumcised to be citizens in His Kingdom.


  56. Jason Loh says:


    It depends on what you mean by *Israel.* Which Israel are you referring to? Recall that they are not *all* Israel that are of Israel. Did Jesus/Yahweh identify with every circumcised Israelite? If so, why did St Paul mentioned the *promise* and the *seed* in the same context in Romans 9? Why did Romans 4 speak of those having *faith* as *children* of Abraham?

    “So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 1And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”

    And why did Jesus said in John 17 that … “I pray for them: I pray *not* for the world, but for them which thou hast *given* me; for they are thine”?

    Why did Jesus say to the Pharisees and their followers in John 8 that …
    “Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also”? if circumcised Israel is Jesus?

  57. jnorm888 says:

    Jason Lo and Michael,

    Jesus is Israel. When you look at a number of prophecies as quoted in the New Testament from the Old Testament, then you will see that Jesus is Israel, and this is why the Church is called the Israel of God because the Church is the Body of Christ. Carnal Israel was used by God for the purpose to carry the promise seed.(the first half of Romans chapter 9).

    The Incarnation plays a huge role in Romans chapter 9 for the second half of the chapter is mainly about When the promise seed was made manifest in the flesh. We can see this even more when we talk about the issue of Christ’s descent into Hades, for this is when He freed/rescued the patriarchs and prophets of old. If the first half of Romans 9 is about election to salvation, then why must Jesus be sent to Hades for 3 days in order to set the captives free? No, salvation from sin and death is only found in Christ for Jesus is the real Israel, and all who are part of His body are citizens of the International(both Jew and gentile) Kingdom of God on Earth.

    This picture will be made clearer if one looks at Romans chapters 8 through 11. Also what Perry said about Saint Augustine in regards to ADS is true. You can see it when he talks about the issue of “foreknowledge” as found in Romans chapter 8. He talks about the issue in one of his letters to somebody…… I forgot who.
    Augustine became extremely deterministic in his later years, and he tends to blend this attribute with other attributes…..to the point that foreknowledge no longer means foreknowledge anymore.


  58. Jason Loh says:

    Speaking of Pentecost, it is worth noting that St Peter was emphatic that the events leading up the Cross, that is Our Lord’s arrest and handing over to Pontius Pilate was all part of the “*determinate* counsel” of God. Lest there be any doubt, in fact, St Peter had earlier on confirmed that …

    “… This scripture must *needs* have been *fulfilled*, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, *Let* his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”

  59. Jason Loh says:

    Mr Ioannis,

    How is Matthew 23:37 for that matter is to be interpreted correctly?

    Did Our Lord, God Incarnate, desire the salvation of Jerusalem? According to the passage itself, Our Lord was recorded as saying …

    ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, *thou* that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would have I gathered thy *children*, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and *ye* would not!’

    Jerusalem was exemplified by the religious teachers of the day. They refused to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus and hardened their hearts. They incited the people against Our Lord. They did not want the people to believe in Jesus, Who alone had power to forgive sins.

    As the hen, did Our Lord gather His chicks? Of course, he did. What happened on Pentecost?

  60. Jason Loh says:

    Mr Ioannis,

    Does 1 Timothy 2:4 include Judas Iscariot and the ‘Man of Sin’ mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2? If so, explain how could God will two *contradictory* things? Can God will *and* will not to save the ‘son of perdition’? This is different from the Maximian example (which smacks of Nestorianism) of temptation at Gethsemane. Wouldn’t God willing and not willing with respect to the same ‘object’ precisely commit the same fallacy as *ADS*? Where *willing* is a *natural*, not *personal* act, and thus it is compelled and the act itself is identical with the faculty so that both collapses into ADS?

    The Greek words, ‘pantas anthropon’ (all men) says nothing of without exception or without discrimination. In this case, context is determinative – the different strata of political society – the state.

    ‘For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.’

    Even so, Christians were never exhorted to pray for Antichrist. Did St John pray for the Antichrist at the isle of Patmos?

    And did St Paul pray for false teachers, who he anathemised in his epistle to the Galatians?

  61. ioannis says:

    Jason Loh,

    How do you reconcile double predestination with the fact that God wills all men to be saved according to 1 Timothy 2:4?
    “For who hath resisted his will?”
    Does God has a will which resists His will?

  62. Jason Loh says:

    And so if God “willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” then it means that consistent with Paul’s lamentation, one is either in a state of blessedness or election unto glory or in state of damnation or reprobation. Of course this is not inconsistent with God’s nature since double predestination is not “equal ultimacy.” Predestination is double (gemina) but is grounded in the Father’s love for the Son, as the reflection of His (i.e. the Father’s) image. But why still reprobation? This is a *mystery.* This belongs to the hidden counsel of God. If you will, so to speak, only the Hidden God has the answer. But the solution is the Son, since the Father loves the Son.

    Double predestination is both a given in scripture and a mystery. No amount of philophical argumentation can undo God’s predestination as *revealed* in scripture. Free-will – as the philosophical *response* – does not solve the problem of (double) predestination, but only undermines scriptural *clarity.* This in turn undermines scripture as *divine* revelation.

  63. Jason Loh says:

    That Romans 9 is about *salvation* is unequivocally clear. St Paul mentions in verse 1-3 that:

    I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

    Paul wished that he would be accursed from Christ so as to be like brethren who are cursed. The ‘ending’ verses of Romans 9 read thus:

    As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

    a) And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

    b) Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

    c) For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

    d) And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

    e) What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

    f) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

    g) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

    h) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

    The Law or free-will is not the way of salvation contrary to the Hebrews, but *faith.* Faith is not agency or free-will, but receptivity or passivity. Only faith rightly honours Yahweh, as the God Who is always and ever near. And faith recognises that to be human is not to be autonomous even in the state of glory but to recognise our total dependence on God as the *giver* of all goodness. This means faith is to be opened and receive the goodness of God as *gift.*

  64. Jason Loh says:

    Perry Robinson,

    You asked, how does God the Father exercise ‘free-will’? God the Father is free in the absolute sense of the word, without limitations. The witness of scriptural texts is clear. Romans 9 is clear – the imagery of the potter and the clay. Of course, this says nothing about his essence. Only that his nature is “unbounded.” So, God the Father has predestined all that come to pass, both at the natural and personal level simply because these cannot be separated; they can only be distinguished.

    God the Son is pro-actively involved in this world. He too is free like His Father. And so is the Spirit. But how the Son employ His freedom is different from the Father and the Spirit and vice-versa. God the Father as the Hidden God does all in all. God the Son inter-acts with the world as Word and through His Spirit. This interaction is the exchange, communication, of thoughts, judgment, between God/divine and man-woman/human, etc. Thus texts which speaks of God in anthropomorphical terms refers to the Son and not the Father who has predestined all to come to pass. But it must be noted that the Son came into this world to do the Father’s will. The Son communicates as male to man/woman, and to man/woman through man.

    Hence, the will of God the Father is ‘executed’ by the Son not only in creation, but *through* creation (this is especially true providentially); and salvifically under the form of opposites (sub contrario). That being the case, it’s no surprise God (the Son) is said to have the capacity to change His mind in the OT because this is something actualised in time and performed in the context of the “exchange” between the divine and human. But this says *nothing* at all about the Hidden God (the Father).

  65. Jason Loh says:

    Perry Robinson,

    You asked why would Paul issue warnings to all if election is unconditional. First of all, the text is clear. Election “takes place” before creation and is not conditioned on status of persons. Secondly, Secondly, apostasy essentially is final impenitence. Unconditional election never rules out impenitence. The warnings against apostasy therefore is Law and Gospel, depending on whether the hearer is elect or not. The reprobate understands the warning that perseverance is dependent on him/her. The elect understands the warning that perseverance is all of grace. Thus, the warning against apostasy doesn’t say anything about the destiny of the hearer from the perspective of the preacher, but only that the Church is called to repentance and faith qua her calling in this world.

  66. Jason Loh says:

    Perry Robinson,

    Of course theosis is not absolutely dependent on the gnomic will. That would be tantamount to a denial of the Incarnation, wouldn’t it?

  67. Jason Loh says:

    Perry Robinson,

    The person is determinative, and the person is determinative only if he/she employs his will ‘gnomically.’ Without the gnomic will, how is the person determinative in the first place, since theosis for you is a process?

  68. MG says:


    Alright, here goes.

    Romans 9 is fundamentally about Christ and his place in relation to Israel’s history. Specifically, it asks the question of how to understand Israel as the physical line through which the Messiah comes, “who is God over all,” in light of their rejection of the Messiah. Because many in Israel did not accept the coming of Christ, this seems to call into question the promises of God. It raises the question of whether or not God has been faithful to his covenants. Hence Paul’s imaginary interlocutor asks “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?” implying that God’s righteousness/faithfulness has been bought into doubt by the fact that not all Israelites are saved.

    In order to vindicate the faithfulness of God, Paul must show that the fact of Israel’s disobedience is consistent with their election. To do this, he demonstrates first (A) that not all members of a covenant are equally blessed, and secondly (B) that God can elect people to a task and they can fulfill it even if they are evil, so his purpose is accomplished regardless.

    The first two examples demonstrate (A). The fact that Isaac and Ishmael were both “the seed of Abraham” does not entail that they both continued the line of “children of God” through which the Messiah was born. Rather, only the one who is a recipient of the promise can continue the Messianic ancestry as the seed that is called. That’s what it means to say that not all of Israel are Israel; not all in the genealogical line are equally recipients of the promise. But notice that this does not mean that God’s preference for one of Abraham’s children means the other was not blessed or saved. On the contrary, Ishmael is blessed by God (Genesis 17:20), and Moses even writes that God heard Ishmael (21:17) and that “God was with the lad” (21:20). Bearing in mind that “God does not hear sinners” (John 9:31) it seems like Ishmael was saved. The preference God showed for Isaac, then, is not the preference of unconditionally electing him to eternal salvation, and reprobating Ishmael.

    When we turn to Jacob and Esau, we see the same kind of thing going on. The problem with the first example is that it doesn’t demonstrate that people who are genealogically equal can be blessed unequally. After all, Ishmael was born of Hagar. But Jacob and Esau are twins. So “not only this” unequal blessing of the sons of Abraham happened, but even children born “to one man” and one woman, “Rebecca”, were blessed unequally. So Jacob became the recipient of God’s historical favor. And because Jacob the individual was elected this way, his entire genealogy was chosen in him, because they would be the line through which “God’s purpose in election” of bringing about the birth of the Messiah would happen. The fact that this is talking about the election of a nation via the father of that nation is likely given the Old Testament citations Paul makes. Genesis 25:23 reads “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall be separated from your body. One shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” And of course “Jacob I have loved, Esau have I hated” is God’s way of stating his preferential election of ethnic Israel over ethnic Edom in Malachi 1:2-3. (for the idea that “hate” can mean “favor less” see Genesis 29:30-31) The object of election is the nation of Israel, then. And if so, Paul can’t be talking in these verses about election unto eternal salvation. After all, if he was, then we would have to conclude that all of Israel is saved. Regardless of whether this election of one over the other was unconditional or based on foreseen faith, it was not an election to eternal salvation, because it was an election of the bloodline and nation through the father of that nation.

    The fact that God says He will have mercy on whom He has mercy and harden whom He hardens is not a way of saying He saves and damns unconditionally. Instead it is a way of saying that God is faithful to his promises (righteous) regardless of how people react to his covenant-fulfilling and electing actions. The fact that this happens is based on the prior fact of God’s faithfulness to his promises—that He “has mercy on whom He has mercy”, as He declares to Moses who has “found favor in his sight”(Ex 33:13). So the showing of mercy is not something that Moses himself does; it is God who shows mercy. Moses does indeed run and will, but God’s purpose is accomplished regardless of the character of the one chosen for a task. This is demonstrated with Paul’s example of Pharaoh, who is elect to the task of showing God’s power and making God known. But because God chooses Pharaoh to be the one who lets the Israelites leave, and he resists, God acts to save the Israelites. And in doing his will and acting to save, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, insofar as his actions provoke Pharaoh and he reacts negatively. God’s will and his mercy are accomplished regardless, then, of whether man runs and wills in line with them. Specifically God’s will that the line leading to the Messiah would persist is accomplished effectually. This supports principle (B).

    This raises the question of whether those that God chooses can resist his will. If not, it seems they cannot be blamed for their wrongdoing when they fail. Paul does not say that God effectually determines the salvation of some; but he does insist that God’s will in history is irrevocable. The potter/clay analogy is taken from several places in the prophets, including Isaiah 45 and Jeremiah 18. In Isaiah 45, the prophet writes about how the pagan king Cyrus is chosen by God to help Israel persist. Israel obviously doesn’t like this or approve of this, but this puts them in the position of questioning the will of their Creator (v9-13 who is like a potter) who wills what is good for them (v14-25). In Jeremiah 18 we see that even though the nations (“clay”) can resist God’s will and be blamed for it, God still controls the destinies of nations. The analogy of potter/clay does not seem to imply, therefore, that the clay cannot rebel against the potter’s will. People can resist being virtuous even though they will irresistibly lead to the accomplishment of God’s will in history. So this supports principle (B).

    God’s preparation of the clay can be understood in terms of permission. This is why Paul uses a different word to describe God’s involvement in the preparation of the vessels of wrath for destruction in contrast to God’s preparation of the vessels of mercy for glory. The word for “prepared” in verse 22 can be read in the middle voice, implying it could be self-imposed preparation. It also normally describes the action of preparation that happens after something comes into existence—the formation or molding that an already existing thing undergoes. This preparation after coming into existence fits with Paul’s description of the natural consequences of sin in Romans 1. There, God’s wrath consists in the fact that He permits people to experience the consequences (vices) of their actions (sins). This also fits with the “wrath” language of Romans 9:22. The word for “prepared” that is used in verse 23 implies that God is the actor and that the preparation was happening before the object of preparation came into existence.

    So this raises the question of why Paul suddenly switches from talking about the historical destines of the leaders and fathers of nations to the eternal salvation of individuals. What I’d suggest is that Paul is taking the two principles (A) and (B) that he inferred from the history of Israel, and is applying them to the salvation of the Jews. If God can bless elect people in a covenant unequally, then “what if God, wanting to show his wrath and make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”, namely the Jews that have rejected Jesus? And because God can elect people to fulfill his purposes even if they resist his will and reject the grace and calling they are given (Rom 11:29), what if he did this with the Jews “to make known the riches of his glory to the objects of his mercy”, namely the whole world (because God has mercy on all Rom 11:32)?

    I would suggest that this interpretation of Romans 9 is at least as plausible as the Reformed interpretation. Any objections or other thoughts?

  69. Jason Loh,

    The person is determinative. The point of the gnomic will in terms of explanation is in part to show how sin is possible. It is also links up with explaining how all men are potentially virtuous and move to being actually so. It falls out of creation ex nihilo as I alluded to above, which is why there is no gnomic mode of willing in God or the incarnate Christ in his two modes of willing.

    Theosis is not absolutely dependent on the gnomic mode of willing since theosis occurs in the humanity of Christ and his humanity has no gnome. It is only a necessary condition in our case since our persons have a beginning and his does not. Being a necessary condition isn’t equivalent to being a sufficient condition. Second, even the wicked are divinized in so far as they are made immortal. It is important to remember that theosis works on two levels, the persona and the natural. At the natural level, the gnomic will is irrelevant. This is why Athanasius speaks of Christ invisibly making even his enemies immortal.

    I agree that Paul speaks of two Israel’s, but I don’t see Paul speaking in terms of two kinds of predestinations. Here I am distinguishing between two kinds of election. Predestination in Rom 8 is in reference to all creation, which is why all creation is awaiting the culmination of its predestination in Christ. If we didn’t as you suggest, then we’d have to think Esau went to hell. More to the point, your dual election proves that the term of itself doesn’t pick out predestination since you employ it to denote a divine action that does not guarantee salvation.

    Also, the election of the “personal” a la faith, Paul makes clear, these too can be cut off, just as the others were, which seems to collapse the two fold form of election you wish to proffer. The election of those in the church, like that of Israel is relative to a special purpose and end, which again, of itself, doesn’t guarantee salvation. If it did, the warnings Paul gives could in no substantial way be applicable to his audience. Moreover how would Paul know that they were or were not applicable since the election as you gloss is it unknowable?

    I grant that God’s will cannot be frustrated, but that is not the question on the table. A relevant question is, what are the possible modes of willing open to God and what are there proper objects? Is God sufficiently powerfully on your account to will in such a mode such that it might not occur? Is your view of the modality of divine willing monochromatic or does it include shatterable motion? Take for instance Matt 13:58 or Mark 6:5? Why is it that Christ could not do any miracles? Did God’s will fail on your account or no?

    If you reject the notion of free will that I offer, please explain in what sense God exercises a free will. Do the conditions on freedom applicable to creatures apply to God or not?

  70. Michael says:

    MG thanks for your willingness to flesh things out. I appreciate that. To let you know where I am coming from, I am a Reformed Christian. So my understanding of Romans 9 is obviously different. I am familar with the corporate election view, but really only from a more Amrinian perspective. I just want to see if the EO have differences with that view that might make thier view stronger. In particular I am thinking of verses 6-29. I know that’s a lot of text, so I really appreciate your effort. Thanks Mike

  71. Jason Loh says:


    If the gnomic will isn’t determinative, then what is the point with *gnomic* will in the first place? As you had said, the gnomic will the particular exercise or hypostatic employment of the will as faculty which is towards the ‘good.’ Thus, theosis is dependent upon the gnomic will.

    As for interpreting Romans 9, it’s clear that Paul speaks of two Israel, and thus two types of election. “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” There is the Israel according to corporate or ecclesial election, “to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came …” Then there is the personal or individual election, “that is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”

    Hence, the promise of God, His will and desire cannot be frustrated in any way or sense. “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.” “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

  72. MG says:


    I would be happy to spell out what Perry is saying about Romans 9 in greater detail. But first let me ask: is there any particular part you would like to focus on? And how familiar are you with the corporate/historical interpretation? The view I will argue for is similar to the corporate/historical interpretation, so knowing your familiarity with the various interpretations of the text is helpful.

  73. Michael,

    I’ve given it here numerous times. It is essentially no different than Origen or Chrysostom’s. The issue under discussion in Romans 9 is why Israel did not believe if Israel was elected? Therefore election or being chosen by God to bring about Messiah does not entail salvation.It requires that they repent and believe as well. God is free to choose whom he wishes to serve purposes regardless of actions. Election stands independently of faith since Israel is elect, but still in unbelief. ch 10-11) God’s purpose comes *through* the election, but it itself is not the purpose. (v. 11)

  74. Michael says:

    Hi Perry,
    Could you give your exegesis of Romans 9 for us? I think it would be interesting to hear.
    Thanks Mike

  75. Jason,

    I didn’t say it was accessible at every level, but rather than the one has direct access to every causal level.

    Sure, the causal effects are more potent relative to their causal proximity to their cause, analogous to standing near a flame. The hear is greater the closer you get.

    There are two ways of looking at the schema. First, the potency of the one is so complete and because it is so it must produce the full range of possible effects. The second is that it is always the causal potency of the one even in lower causes, just as it is so form primary to secondary causes. This is why it can be said that God is the cause of things even through secondary causation.

    As for theosis, I don’t think I’d speak of it in terms of suspension. For agents who have a beginging, their hypostatic employment of their powers can’t be given to them, lest they cease to be a person, since to be a person is to be a terminus, at least in part. The gnomic will isn’t determinative of the process, but rather the gnomic will is a certain kind of personal use of the power of choice when that personal use hasn’t yet been fixed in the good. That is the gnomic will is a hypostatic employment of the will, but not all hypostatic employments of the will are gnomic.

    If the Orthodox took philosophy to be the handmaiden to theology, you might have a cause relative to the claim of a philosophical grid. But we don’t. Second, we don’t think that God ad intra is being, so that rules it out as well.

    I’d need to know what you mean by “abstraction” since there are many notions given to that terms. I would argue historically, that the Incarnation occurs and is via the apostles and their successors given as the key to understand the Scriptures, since the Scriptures are about Christ.

    Even if what you claimed were true, certainly using the Incarnation as the lens by which to text and understand Christian doctrine certainly seems far more biblical than using the Platonic notion of a self diffusing good. At least the Incarnation is not only in Scripture but the subject of it is given as what the Scriptures are all about.

    As for doing no justice to the texts on predestination, that is a conclusion that I do not grant. I am simply unaccustomed to accepting blad assertions.

  76. Jason Loh says:


    If it is not ‘mediating,’ and thus present and accessible directly at every level, why the discrepancy (between the elect and fallen angels)? Isn’t the logic of the gradation of causal effects is that the ‘level’ of grace ‘distributed’ would be ‘greater’ at the ‘higher end’ of the spectrum, and would be diminishing towards the ‘lower end’? After all, grace according to the triadology of Augustine and the western catholic tradition is a ‘created substance.’ But it’s not clear that Augustine held to such a view, i.e. of gradation of causal effects.

    What about the *process* of deification in Orthodox theology? Isn’t it a *reverse* gradation of causal effect, where harmony and balance – the unity – between nature and person remains ‘suspended’ on this side of the eschaton because ‘free will,’ that is the exercise of the gnomic will is determinative of the progress?

    It is clear however that the Orthodox approach scriptural interpretation of the relevant passages through a philosophical grid. The Incarnation is ‘abstracted’ from scripture as the source of divine revelation and then (re)applied hermeneutically via a philosophical grid which does no justice to the texts on predestination. In this context, philosophy stands between the Incarnation as the ‘organising and ordering principle’ and scripture. Hardly any different from scholasticism.

  77. Jason,

    I don’t think that gradations of causal effects from the good imply a mediating schema. The “one” is present at every level and so its access is direct at every level.

    It is eisegetical in so far as if we remove the schema other interpretative possibilities open up that are not predestinarian. The same is true in so far as it acts as a limiting schema ruling out other exegetical possibilities when one is committed to it.

    As for ADS, Augustine is just as committed to is as Aquinas and this is why he takes it be the case that the fallen (angels or otherwise) make exemplification of divine justice possible.

    If you think the Orthodox hermeneutics exhibits the pouring in of metaphysical content to theological terms, then that is a case you’ll have to make, rather than assert.

  78. Jason Loh says:


    It’s not clear that Augustine regarded the fallen angels at a lower end of the spectrum. This would introduce a ‘mediating’ schema which interposes between grace and receptivity. As to Aquinas locating the source of reprobation in God’s goodness, undoubtedly is rooted in *ADS.* That does not mean however that the philosophical construct is an eisegesis of the relevant scriptural passages. Rather that the *method* of epxosition is to be distinguished from the exposition itself. After all, the hermeneutics of EO regarding the relevant scriptural passages exhibits philosophical logic also.

  79. Jason,

    I grant that they are “based” on scripture if by that is meant that their authors took it to be the case that Scripture taught such ideas. I do not grant that Scripture in fact teaches such ideas.

    Second, much of the content of the above material is derived from a Platonic metaphysic of a self diffusing good that produces grades of being. the reprobates are just a specific position on the spectrum. This is why Aquinas speaks of God’s goodness as the explanation for their reprobation. Consequently, it is the metaphysic that informs and structures their biblical exegesis. That this is so, is man evident in Augustine’s speculation regarding the Angels. The philosophy fills in the explanatory gaps, because it was the philosophy all along doing the structuring and explanatory work.

  80. Jason Loh says:

    ‘quotations’ …

  81. Jason Loh says:

    The above quotation, notwithstanding Augustine’s speculation (on *why* some angels fell) are based on Scripture.

  82. Ed says:

    Hey Perry,

    I love the combination of the American Rock ‘n’ Roll tradition and the insanity of Catholic “protoCalvinism.”

    There’s nothing like Calvinism to completely upend real Christian theology, well at least nothing current.

    Good thing Ariusaurus is extinct.

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