The Heresy of Calvinism II

Calvinism, as was said previously, is a very elastic term. Broadly, it is a movement that has its origins in Zurich, and refined through Geneva. Often it is seen as flowering in the Puritan and Presbyterian movements in England, though much of the Puritan mind was drawn from Zurich from Heinrich Bullinger and Peter Martyr Vermigli, among others. But Bullinger, Martyr and Calvin were largely of one mind on most issues, the Eucharist excepted. The origin of the term seems to have come from its Catholic interlocutors, most notably Thomas Stapleton, though the word generally used was Calvinian. This helps us little in defining what it is. It is one of those words like liberal or conservative, though I don’t think quite so. Here, and especially here, I will give it the meaning of those who believe in forensic justification, effected in the Christian through the decree of God without reference to any faith, or faith foreseen. This definition would certainly take in not only Calvin, but also Martyr and Bullinger, and as well Melanchthon (though Luther is problematic, but not for the reasons the new Finnish interpretation of Luther teaches).

Let us lay aside this for a moment, and turn to the teachings of fathers on the subject of salvation. We find in Irenaeus already the teaching that the Son of God assumed our flesh in order to make us divine (AH IV.38.4-5). This is most famously in St. Athanasius, “God became a man so that man might become God.” Irenaeus also informs us that the Word of God is that image of God after which Adam was fashioned (AH III.22.3). St. Athanasius picks this up in De Incarnatione when he speaks of Christ being the original model from which our portrait is painted. Thus it is that He must come again, so that the Image of God can be rectified. These strands are found in all the writers of the Greek tradition: Damascene, Maximus, the Cappadocians. Central to all of this is that the Incarnation has healed us, bringing us what we lost through the corruption of death that we inherited from Adam, and the guilt we have incurred for our own sins. For the Orthodox, death comes as a result of Adam’s primordial failure, his primordial or original sin. For the Orthodox, original sin pertains only to Adam’s transgression, and is not something that his descendants inherit from him. What we get from Adam is corruption and death, which lead us to sin, and separate us from God, in that we live in death. The fall has removed from us the ability to see what we ourselves are, and the “inner essence of created things.” This phrase recurs often in Orthodox monastic writing, and gives the background to St. Maximus’s “virtues are natural things.” The historian of ideas, F. Edward Cranz would have termed this the “pervasive self” (his work focused on Dionysius the Areopagite, St. Augustine, St. Anselm, Nicholas Cusanus, and Luther). In this regard we are left with the unhappy translation of St. Maximus that virtues are natural things, for St. Maximus would not have known what we mean by that term. What St. Maximus had in mind (and this is true in all the writers of the ancient world) was not some independently, self-subsisting res or pragmata respectively (the Latin and Greek terms we translate “things”), but particulars whose true meanings reside within all rational souls. Thus the soul is bound to creation not merely by dint of its being like the cosmos, created; but because man is both a microcasm and a mediator of ultimate reality, one of the significances  to St. Maximus’s statement about the One Logos being the many logoi.

With all this in mind we must now turn to the notion of what it is that Christ’s Incarnation accomplished. First, as we can see in St. Irenaeus and St. Athanasius, the Incarnation was not a reaction to the Fall, nor was it merely part of a plan by which God effected his greater glory, a subset of the larger doctrine of predestination (which from the quotes from Calvin’s Institutes from the day’s earlier post it most clearly is), but was how God had ordered the world from the beginning in order that we His creatures would have communion with Him. As created, our natures possessed their inner essences, founded upon the realities of the energies peri theou – – around God (to use St. Maximus’s terms). These are determinative of what human nature is, and as such they are not liable to disintegration, alteration, mutation, or even annihilation. Were this the case, then sin is certainly greater than the Divine act (and I think St. Paul has something to say somewhere about that). What corruption does is turn us away from life. It does not bring guilt, for that comes from our own sins, which it is inevitable that we all do. Death has made us misuse our virtues and turn them into wrongly ordered or disordered passions. A simple illustration will have to suffice, but one that is very apropos to our discussion: the virtue of self-preservation, to protect our life, can be carried to the extreme of cowardice, in which case the vice makes us turn to our own wrong desires as ends in themselves, into a dialectic not of a choice among goods, but into a choice against the Divine order.

The proper ends of our lives we always have within us, but they must be refined through the proper disciplining of the body, which is more than neglect or a straightening of the will (that fighter who does more than shadow-boxing). Thus the virtues are natural realities, present in us, and in all God’s creation, and in the Divine Logos himself. Christ comes to turn us back from death, and into the light of the knowledge of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ. In this way one should read II Corinthians 3 and 4. Salvation is being transfigured. The word St. Paul uses in 3.18 is the same as was used by the Evangelists in describing the transfiguration, it is a metamorphosis, and effected by the Spirit. We begin at baptism to have our minds renewed, so that we can see what is that good and perfect will of God. We as fallen have within us our personal mode of willing, the gnomic will, which misuses our natural will by choosing things which are not properly part of our created nature: i.e., we choose things for the ends that are death, and not life. We only come to see things what they are by askesis. This is how St. Maximus elaborates on the virtues being natural by saying that we need askesis so we can develop into what we were created for (the predestinations of God). Christ, as the Divine Logos, had no gnomic will; His personal mode of willing was that of the Son of God. He saw always what the proper and good ends for which all things were created; we don’t. Only by partaking of the Divine life of Christ through the sacramental and ascetic life found in His body, the Church, can we obtain to the true Image again, can we come to that true Light and true Life: “in Thy Light we see light.” The eradication of the gnomic will is only found in that which is true life. When modern secularists speak about sex being natural they are speaking about nothing other than our disordered understanding of it, and not as it exists within the properly ordered world of the renewed creation. Thus there is no imputed righteousness, a category distinct from that righteousness present in us at creation, but which has been marred and soiled by corruption. When we come to Christ we come to what we were truly created to be, but never came to because of Adam’s transgression and our own willing to death. Righteousness is thus never extrinsic to us; we were created for the end of life in God, to partake in the Love of God that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have shared in before the world was. This love is even now present in all, but for those outside of Christ, they have misused it as a personal end in and of itself, as opposed to an end within the life in Christ.

Asceticism is not merely some self-abnegating flagellation of what we are, but a refining of ourselves, by the grace of Christ eradicating our ‘old man’. We can then see all things as they properly are, and how properly to be used: we no longer think of food as mere delight of the palate, but as a means to enjoy God’s kingdom. This is why Schmemann wrote in For the Life of the World, that all the world as a sacrament, a gift from God to us. Choices are not merely “shall I have the 12 oz. ribeye, or the 16 oz. T-bone” (oh wait, it is our Lady’s fast), “between the tofu burger and the shrimp?” It is realizing that God has given us all good things to enjoy, but knowing that nothing exists as a bare end merely to extend my existence.

More anon.

59 Responses to The Heresy of Calvinism II

  1. David,

    Sure it does. It has to do with your comments and claims. Dismissing my reply without engaging it doesn’t show otherwise.

    Yes I am familiar with Torrence’s to some extent. Somethings he gets right, other times he gets it wrong by clearly trying to put a square peg of Calvinism into the round hole of patristic theology.

  2. David Nilsen says:

    Perry,

    This doesn’t really have anything to do with anything (well, it does, in a round about way), but are you familiar with T. F. Torrence? And if so, what do you think of his work?

  3. RiverC says:

    Jason,

    The old adam and new adam are not persons. Heck, they aren’t even ‘natures’. They are modes of being which coexist within a man, as Solzhenitsyn says, “The line between good and evil is drawn across the human heart.”

    This is, in other words, not a hidden teaching at all, but one that is in accordance with common sense.

    Conflating them into persons has the effect of altering the definition of ‘person’ in such a way that it mangles any language. With such a definition what could we possibly mean when saying that there are three persons in the Trinity? That there are three modes of being? Three natures? What?

    As for the second point I think Paul covered that quite nicely when he said that when sin abounded, grace much more abounded; but should we sin to receive grace? Hardly; that would be like starving yourself to receive food. If food is the goal: eat.

  4. Jason Loh,

    I don’t think Adam “created himself.” I don’t see how you move from God being the formal cause of creatures per the energies to the conclusion that the warning of death is vindictive. You’ll need to make that argument.

    It doesn’t follow that since God keeps free agents in existence who bring about death that God is the creator of sin and death. The relation is not symmetrical. The only way to make that thesis stick is to deny secondary causation and endorse occasionalism or something like it.
    God has a variety of means for controlling objects, depending on the kind of object and God’s relationship with it. God can control sin in some ways, but not in others. He doesn’t create and sustain sin qua sin for example.

    As for Isaiah, I think you’re misinterpreting the passage. It doesn’t refer to evil per se or sin per se, but calamitous events. Second, when Jeremiah speaks of such things he speaks of them in a consequentialist way. A little bit of analogia fide goes a long way here.

    If we were to take your claim of everything being in him that he creates and God creates sin , then sin is in God, which is absurd. Sin is a personal stance relative to created persons. Further it is question begging to assert that sin qua ethical is extrinsic sin not all ethical theories

    If sinners do not have control over their desires and destiny to some extent then it is hard to see how they are responsible agents. What is the principle difference between a manipulated agent who is not responsible and human agents determined by God on your account? If there is no principled difference, then if the former are not responsible then neither are the latter. That is to say, why can’t God actually manipulate agents?

    Further, why is it that God seems to need evil and sin on your view? Isn’t God just as good and just without them? Can’t God achieve said ends without them? And if he can, is he good if he doesn’t? It doesn’t seem so.

    Being fixed in the Good isn’t incompatible with Libertarian conception of freedom, since the Good is not simple. There are infinite goods in and as the good. This is the point of denying ADS. It makes libertarian freedom compatible with impeccability in creation, Christ in his human will and the saints in heaven. If you deny ADS, then your conclusion simply doesn’t follow.

    I don’t think Irenaeus means what the Reformation thinkers mean in thinking of physical and spiritual life constituting a whole. The Reformation writers endorse a pre-lapsarian Pelagian view where righteousness is intrinsic to the imago dei and Irenaeus doesn’t. Consequently your gloss is so wide as to capture lots of views, including those of various Roman theologians. Somehow I don’t think that is your object and so the gloss is useless to accomplish the goals you’ve set for it.

    Mutability doesn’t entail death, though death entails mutability. And this is because time existed prior to death and time entails mutability or some form of it.

  5. Jason Loh says:

    If as Genesis 1 seems to hint at, “Let us make man in our own image” is the creative word of the triune God Who are all equally Creator, Sustainer and Life-Giver, then it follows that the command, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” is not just descriptive but prescriptive also since God is the *formal* cause of creatures.

  6. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    When the triune God said, “Let us make man in our own image” was the triune God merely describing that divine activity? Was there a “time gap” between what the triune God said and the act of creating Adam himself?

  7. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    You said that death doesn’t presuppose mutability per se. Sure it does on this side of the eschaton.

  8. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    Is sin under God’s control too? The answer is an emphatic yes. God “creates” sin and evil as per Isaiah, since everything is in His Son and in Him we live, move and have our being, as per St Paul. Of course, God never created sin out of nothing since sin is not a substance. Sin is therefore never “disembodied” but always finds concrete expression or reification in the human. Sin is therefore ethical (extrincally) as much as it is metaphysical (intrinically) albeit not in a discrete way.

    To say that God is in control of sin is simply to confess with scripture that God is in control of sinners. Sinner therefore have no self-control both in the double entendre of his/her appetative desires and destiny. To determine one’s destiny is superbia and the divine ambition which ends only in death. The other “alternative” of free-choice is not really free choice after all since by faith, the will is “fixed” to the Good. It’s only the hypostatic dis-ordering of the will which “breaks away” from the relationship with God that is grounded in free choice. Either way God is in control, and not a synergistic relationship.

    As per St Irenaeus, physical life is spiritual life and vice-versa, i.e. both constitute an indivisible *whole*. And thus, in physical life, the human stands is exactly the same relation to the Creator as regards his spiritual life – total dependence by faith alone. This is why God became *incarnate.*

  9. Jason Loh says:

    Matthew,

    The statement simul iustus et peccator precisely means that you are both totally just and totally sinful, implying two persons – the Old and New Adam within one person – I.

  10. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    So, you admit that death is under God’s control. Then your and MG’s response to David is false. If God was only describing the consequence, then presumably that is consistent with God’s foreknowledge. But foreknowledge here does not necessarily imply predestination. Thus death is only a consequence of misuse of free will by the creature and not also God’s creative of power. That is, the degree that pre-lapsarian human was able to exercise his free-will reflected the extent of God’s creative omnipotence. So that both are two sides of the same equation. That being the case, the employment of the will towards an assumed but false good ending in death reflected God’s power in withdrawing life as Creator, Logos and Lord and Giver of Life.

  11. Jason Loh,

    That argument would turn on a number of false assumptions. The first of which would be that properties of the whole are necessarily and fully properties of the part.

    Why would a consequentialist view imply that death is outside of God’s control? It only implies that God doesn’t control death in the way you think, namely in a vindictive way.

    Is sin under God’s control too? Did God “create out of nothing” sin? No. If it is not dualism with sin I see no reason to think it is so with death.

    death doesn’t imply mutability per se. Lots of things are mutable that don’t die. Even if this weren’t so, the converse is not true, since there was time before there was death. If we followed your asusmptions out, we’d be stuck with the Pelagian view that death is natural to humanity. If death implies mutability and mutability implies creatureliness then death is natural to being a creature, which is false.

    As a point of logic, you’ve got the relation wrong anyway, its ben an entailment relation, not implication.

    Not to be rude Jason, but I would have thought after seeing all of the clear heretical implications of your theological committments that your committment to them would have begun to waver by now.

  12. Jason,

    Iustus et peccator may or may not be nonsense, and it may or may not be a necessary condition for the truth of the Creeds. But if it is true, it is simply not the nonsense that I am two persons. “I am two persons” is as sensible as “this statement is false.”

  13. Jason Loh says:

    Perry,

    How can, as David getting at, death lie outside of God’s control? This undermines God’s sovereignty or almightiness and subverts the confession that the God the Father is Almighty and creates *out of nothing.* This is sheer dualism. Death implies mutability and mutability is inherent in *creatureliness.* Hence although God did not introduce death directly into creation, it stemmed from God’s *creative* power simply because the Christian God is not deistic.

  14. Jason Loh says:

    Perry and Matthew,

    If it the doctrine of simul iustus et peccator is nuts, so then are the creeds and the confession that the Church is holy.

  15. David Nilsen,

    Why can’t he be suggesting that God is describing a consequence? If God is the formal cause of creatures, it sure seems like such consequences will follow.

  16. David Nilsen says:

    MG,

    “But is God’s word that man will die a prescriptive decree about what God will do when man sins, or is it a descriptive law about what will happen when man sins?”

    How can these two options possibly be at odds when God is the one who puts all such laws in place to begin with? Surely you aren’t suggesting that God is merely describing a fact that lies completely outside of His own creative work and ordination?

  17. […] The Heresy of Calvinism part 1 and part 2 […]

  18. Jason,

    That last statement doesn’t make sense on so many levels. At the very last, because “literally within” cannot be used of incorporeal things.

    But also, because you are neither Christ, nor Adam, though you are in the image of both.

    And because it is literally nonsense to say that in the one particular there are two particulars.

  19. “It is just that I am two persons-the old and the new Adam”

    Nuts.

  20. Jason Loh says:

    Matthew,

    Yes, I do know, just as your position on free-will is condemned by the Reformed confessions. And yes, I do believe that the kingdom of God is literally in me. It’s just that I am two persons – the old and new Adam.

  21. Jason,

    You do not believe that the kingdom of God is literally with in me. If it were, and you were to cut me open, you would find the kingdom of heaven–in the same sort of way that you would find my stomach or my heart, or my lunch. What you mean is that “the kingdom of God is within you” is to be taken figuratively. But figuratively in the good sense, not in the bad sense. In other words, you have said nothing.

  22. Jason,

    You do know, however, that that position is condemned by the Book of Concord?

  23. Jason Loh says:

    Ioannis,

    Yes, I agree that the verse, “the kingdom of God is within you” is to be taken at face value, literally. That is because the Christian is both a homo viator (pilgrim) and saint. As homo viator, he/she is still part of this old creation – corruptible flesh, mortality, sin. As saint, he/she is already translated into the kingdom of His dear Son as per Colossians 1:13. This is why the Church confess that she is one, *holy*, apostolic and catholic. In other words, the Church is both simul iustus et peccatrix.

  24. Jason Loh says:

    Matthew,

    I’m a Lutheran but I disagree with the quotation you provide above. In other words, I hold to double predestination, the particular salvific will of God, and limited atonement. This is the historic Calvinist teaching too.

  25. Alyoshak says:

    Perhaps the Holy Spirit exists in a sinful human in a way that is analogous to what occurs when a light source outside of some water shines into and “through” that water. You can truly say the light is “in” the water, and yet it doesn’t displace any of the water’s substance.

  26. Alyoshak,

    Lutherans often say “these seem contradictory to us, but Scripture teaches both. So we believe both. We shouldn’t question further.” Thus the LCMS website says:

    Predestination. Most Presbyterian churches teach a “double predestination,” i.e., that some people are predestined by God from eternity to be saved and others are predestined by God from eternity to be damned. Lutherans believe that while God, in his grace in Christ Jesus, has indeed chosen from eternity to save those who trust in Jesus Christ, He has not predestined anyone to damnation. Those who are saved are saved by grace alone; those who are damned are damned not by God’s choice but because of their own sin and stubbornness. This is a mystery that is incomprehensible to human reason (as are all true Scriptural articles of faith).

  27. Alyoshak says:

    These lines from St. Augustine’s Confessions often come to mind when I’m suspicious that I’m entertaining oppositions between things that may not actually be opposed.

    “Hereupon I earnestly bent my mind, to see if in any way I could by any certain proof convict the Manichees of falsehood. Could I once have conceived a spiritual substance, all their strongholds had been beaten down, and cast utterly out of my mind; but I could not.”

  28. Alyoshak says:

    My friends, I was truly asking a question.

    It seems both Jason and Matthew thought I was answering by asking a rhetorically. A lot of this is too high-speed for my brain and I’m honestly wondering if indeed Jason, as his last post suggests, thinks it’s problematic how the two can coexist, then isn’t it also problematic how a person can be indwelt by the Holy Spirit? And yet we know that this actually occurs. (I also don’t understand why my response was considered “Lutheran”, but perhaps Matthew or someone else will explain.) Jason, why is it implausible that uncreated light can coexist with a morally corrupt human nature if the Holy Spirit can indwell a human being?

  29. ioannis says:

    Jason Loh,

    What about Luke 17:21 “the kingdom of God is within you”?

  30. Ha! There’s a Lutheran answer for you.

  31. Alyoshak says:

    In regard to Jason’s wondering how it is that uncreated light can exist in corrupt human nature: 1) How is that any more problematic than the Holy Spirit Himself indwelling a person? 2) Do we have to be able to explain *how* uncreated light can coexist with corrupt human nature in order to be confident that they do? Maybe it is not something easily accounted for in normal categories of human language.

  32. Jason Loh says:

    Matthew,

    What you mean is that darkness/evil has no “substance” of its own, an *independent* existence. I would tend to agree to this. But this tends to aggravate the “implausibility” of uncreated light co-existing in the *same* substance, namely human nature. Because this would imply that somehow uncreated light is *mixed* up with the morally corrupt human nature, notwithstanding the capacity of the person to gradually purge his/her nature of sin.

  33. Jason,

    They cannot coexist. Darkness does not exist.

  34. Jason Loh says:

    Ioannis,

    Forget about mortality. It was a mistake on my part.

  35. Cyril says:

    David, I guess in the mouth of two or three witnesses, eh? This is all rather grand, as I shall see Fr. Andrew this evening.

  36. Cyril says:

    Matthew,

    Sorry, was too late when writing: it’s confusing even to me now.

    To the point: Calvin denies it. The Reformers, most of whom were gifted in oratory and rhetoric, would say such things as “Christ truly, substantially, really” is given to us in the sacrament; and at one point in his long epistolary dialogue with Bullinger Calvin actually says that we receive Christ in the Eucharist substantialis. Yet what they meant, and this they also say, was that no crass eating and mandication of the human flesh of Christ occurs. They called such who believed that “Capernaites.” Rather, it is the benefits of Christ’s flesh that are given us through the medium of our faith. In this regard they separate the the divine life from Christ’s human nature.

  37. ioannis says:

    Jason Loh,

    How did mortality of the Lord’s flesh coexisted with the uncreated light during Transfiguration?

  38. MG says:

    Jason,

    You wrote:

    “Uncreated Light qua divine energies can either potential or actual *in* God. But we are speaking of uncreated light *in* man. In other words, these divine energies had penetrated the mortal being of man. So, there is no question of potentiality here.”

    At the very least, there is a difference between potentiality and actuality in terms of the kind of participation on the created side of the distinction. And I’m not sure that there couldn’t be a manifestation of divine power in different ways based on God’s response to a creature’s graced preparation.

    You wrote:

    “The question is how can uncreated light co-exist with sin and for that matter, morality in the same existing subject? Wouldn’t this amount to conceiving uncreated light in spatial, quantitative, mathematical or even tangible terms which is an absurdity given the *ontological* distinction between Creator-creature, eternal-temporal, etc. Worst still, it could lead to a form of pantheism.”

    No, I don’t see why it would require conceiving of uncreated light that way. Can you explain why it would require such a conception?

    You wrote:

    “Furthermore, if it’s actual how could uncreated light be ‘held up’ by the will of man or does it reside in man only to be potential? But how can these be when it is uncreated grace, i.e. flowing *directly* from God and not *created* grace, i.e. *habitual* grace to employ the scholastic term?”

    Well, one possible answer is that it depends on the kind of energy. Some energies are the formal causes of created powers that require free choice to be activated. Other energies are formal causes of creaturely powers that don’t require free choice to be activated.

    You wrote:

    “Back to the question of co-existence, how can uncreated light co-exist with darkness without either in some way being *affected*? It’s not as if uncreated light is like some static charges which are built up in a host only to be “reactivated” at some point by an exhange of electrons. But then again electricity is *generated*, i.e. created whereas the Light of Transfiguration isn’t.”

    They can coexist because our free choice can be incomplete in its rejection of darkness.

  39. Jason Loh says:

    MG,

    Uncreated Light qua divine energies can either potential or actual *in* God. But we are speaking of uncreated light *in* man. In other words, these divine energies had penetrated the mortal being of man. So, there is no question of potentiality here.

    The question is how can uncreated light co-exist with sin and for that matter, morality in the same existing subject? Wouldn’t this amount to conceiving uncreated light in spatial, quantitative, mathematical or even tangible terms which is an absurdity given the *ontological* distinction between Creator-creature, eternal-temporal, etc. Worst still, it could lead to a form of pantheism.

    Furthermore, if it’s actual how could uncreated light be ‘held up’ by the will of man or does it reside in man only to be potential? But how can these be when it is uncreated grace, i.e. flowing *directly* from God and not *created* grace, i.e. *habitual* grace to employ the scholastic term?

    Back to the question of co-existence, how can uncreated light co-exist with darkness without either in some way being *affected*? It’s not as if uncreated light is like some static charges which are built up in a host only to be “reactivated” at some point by an exhange of electrons. But then again electricity is *generated*, i.e. created whereas the Light of Transfiguration isn’t.

  40. Jason Loh says:

    Matthew,

    We know that not all Calvinists believe in a real presence. Not all Calvinists hold that the Body and Blood is mediated through the agency of the Holy Sprit in his descent on the species of bread and wine, or that (a variant of Calvin’s actual thinking) we are brought up to heaven to feed on Christ’s vivifying Flesh and life-quickening Blood. Instead many insist (in ignorance of what he wrote in the Institutes) that it is just as expressed in the sursum corda that we are spiritually lifted to the spiritual location of heaven and sup *with* Jesus at the heavenly banquet.

  41. David Lindblom says:

    Cyril, concerning my previous question on the image we are made in is Christ I did read II Cor. 3 & 4 and it did come through. I had never thought of that. Not only that but just today I happened to be listening to one of Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick’s podcast from a few weeks ago and he made that exact same point. Interesting.

  42. Thanks!

    The grammar of the last clause is confusing me. Do you mean he denies Christ gives us his vivifying Body and Blood in the Eucharist and that we receive forgivenenss of sins, or that he asserts it? I know Calvinists claim that they claim that Christ gives us his vivifying body and blood in the Eucharist, though Lutherans, Catholics, and Orthodox would dispute that Calvins Sacramentology is sufficient.

  43. Cyril says:

    Ioannis, the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist is that ofthe living and resurrected Christ, He who vanquished death, so while death was needed, it was but a means to an end. This was the only way we could have life was by Christ conquering death, and thus we are given his life giving body and blood so that we might also have life. What life would be like apart from sin, I am not sure, nor am I sure how Christ would communicate life to us, except to say that in that economy we had not chosen death, and the Incarnation would bring us into communion directly. I am not sure.

    M.N.P., now that you say that, I think I did know that. When first written, I was only referring to his odd liturgical proclivities (the parish where I was in Allentown saw Jordan as some sort of bishop figure). A number of the Theonomists and Federal Visionists maintain that strictly there is no such thing as a covenant of works, and that even in the Garden Adam stood by grace, and that this grace was to be fulfilled in Christ. Yet for all that, they still hold doggedly to forensic justification.

    As to what makes Calvin’s views heretical, well, some of that will be in the last post. But for here he denies synergy (a word and concept that do appear in Holy Scripture) for monergism (which does not), he denies the freedom of the will by maintaining that human nature is totally depraved and totally incapable of responding to grace, and lastly that Christ in the sacraments gives us his vivifying body and blood and the in the Eucharist we receive forgiveness of sins.

  44. Stupid public computers. That last was me.

  45. Chrisotto says:

    Cyril,

    Thanks for this.

    I have two points now. First:

    You said at the end of your other post “Thus, whether one wishes to sail on R. C. Sproul’s end of the Reformed boat, or on Jim Jordan’s, it is all of apiece for the Orthodox.” But one of J.Jordan’s main talking points is that the Incarnation would have been necessary whether or not there had been a fall.

    Second: Given that Calvin disagrees with St. Maximos, what makes Calvin’s position heretical and not a different theologumena, or even given that it is wrong, what proves that it is heretical?

  46. ioannis says:

    Cyril,

    A very nice post in my opinion.I have a question to make though.

    You wrote that “the Incarnation was not a reaction to the Fall…but was how God had ordered the world from the beginning in order that we His creatures would have communion with Him.”

    Personally I agree but, granted that now the holy communion with God is based upon the fact of the death of His Son whose body and blood is partaken of by the creatures in the Eucharist which is the blood of the New Testament and since there can be no testament unless ther is death as well then, how would you imagine and describe the communion between Christ and the creatures if there was no fall at all and the subsequent death?

  47. MG says:

    Mary,

    I’ve read Moss’ stuff and examined it in detail in comparison to the writings of the Fathers. Kalimoros’ problems are significant, I agree. He thinks that God isn’t actively harming the damned in hell in any sense, and seems to doubt the idea of divine punishment for sin in this life as something God actively inflicts. But I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

    You wrote:

    “The fact is, you have to be reading with blinders, to be able to read St. Athanasius On the Incarnation, and think that the Incarnation was what corrected everything. It was on the Cross that the Divine Dilemma was solved, the Incarnation was necessary in order that God might be able to die like man. The Divine Dilemma St. Athanasius explicitly spells out in detail, this is not my idosyncratic interpretation this is what he says, is that God cannot go back on His word, which condemned us to the grave for rebellion, neither can He bear to see the work of His hands go to ruin. So He steps in and dies in our place, to satisfy His own justice, so that He can act on His love and not violate His own integrity.”

    Moss’ idea that the Orthodox Fathers teach that hell is divine retribution and that the atonement involves Christ suffering from divine retribution doesn’t seem right to me, and I’ll argue it out on a case-by-case basis if need be. Lets take a look at what Athanasius says, since you bring him up.

    Athanasius thinks that the reason men are able to die is because they are creatures who are able (prior to glorification) to depart from God’s life. When creatures alienate themselves from God’s life, they lose God’s life as a necessary consequence:

    “By nature, of course, man is mortal, since he was made from nothing; but he bears also the Likeness of Him Who is, and if he preserves that Likeness through constant contemplation, then his nature is deprived of its power and he remains incorrupt.” Section 4

    “Nor does repentance recall men from what is according to their nature; all that it does it make them cease from sinning. Had it been a case of a trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough; but when once transgression had begun men came under the power of the corruption proper to their nature and were bereft of the grace which belonged to them as creatures in the Image of God.” (Section 7)

    Notice that the explanation of why men die is not because God inflicts retribution. It is an intrinsic, necessary consequence of their sin. When a person chooses to do evil, their human nature gains vice and is corrupted.

    It is true that Athanasius also says that God could not go back on his word. But is God’s word that man will die a prescriptive decree about what God will do when man sins, or is it a descriptive law about what will happen when man sins? Given that the only explicit explanation Athanasius gives for why men die is the above cited points, it seems that he views God’s word “in the day that you shall eat, you will die” as a decree that describes what will happen. It is a promise, but its a promise more of the sort “I promise you that if you waste your money in Vegas, you will be unhappy” than “I promise you that if you waste your money in Vegas, I will retributively punish you.” If God did something that went against his prediction that man would die if he sinned (like put a band-aid on human nature–preserving it, without healing it) then he would violate his word by making his prediction false.

    Athanasius does not say that Christ “satisfies his own justice”. He does say that Christ pays a debt. If Moss were right, that Athanasius thinks Christ suffered divine retribution, then we would expect Athanasius to say that Christ pays a debt to God. But instead we read the following:

    “But beyond all this, there was a debt owing which must needs be paid; for, as I said before, all men were due to die. Here, then, is the second reason why the Word dwelt among us, namely that having proved the power of His Godhead by His [energies/activities], He might offer the sacrifice on behalf of all, to settle man’s account with death and free him from the primal transgression. In the same act also he showed Himself mightier than death, displaying His own body incorruptible as the first-fruits of the resurrection.” (Section 20)

    Athanasius thinks that Christ pays the debt to death. The idea here is not that death is a person trying to inflict retribution and requiring compensation. Death is seen as an intrinsic problem with how human nature has been misused and corrupted. It is a matter of the loss of human nature’s participation in God’s life (loss of divine likeness), and the consequent opposition that body and soul have been put into. So “debt” is being used metaphorically to describe “an unpleasant thing that is required to do away with something bad”. Christ had to undergo “an unpleasant thing that is required to do away with something bad”; He had to die to heal human nature from corruption. More specifically, He had to recapitulate in his human nature each stage of human existence (birth, life, death), and sanctify/cleanse/deify it to make it incapable of annihilation and permanent corruption.

    see more here:

    http://wellofquestions.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/natural-consequences-5-athanasius-on-the-law-of-death/

    You wrote:

    “Forensic atonement is explicitly taught by St. Symeon the New Theologian in The Sin of Adam, and by St. Philaret of Moscow in his Catechism. When Peter Moghila’s Catechism was ordered rewritten before being approved by the Council of Jassy, it was only to remove purgatory and a few such things, NOT substitutionary atonement.”

    I don’t remember anything in St. Symeon that explicitly taught that God’s will to inflict retribution had to be satisfied by Christ’s death. He does speak of God’s judgment in many cases, and of Christ’s death taking away the curse. But there are many different ways to understand justice, and there are many different ways to understand law. Saying that an atonement is forensic is not the same as saying it is based on God’s need for retribution. Many Fathers speak of the corruption of human nature as a result of the fall as punishment or of Christ being punished on the cross by God; but they don’t mean “God imposing his will to inflict harm on a party in proportion to guilt”, which is the specific idea of retribution.

    So I’d like to see the quotes from Symeon that allegedly teach this; I don’t know about St. Philaret. But it should be kept in mind that not all the Fathers are right about everything, and we should prefer the primitive teaching to anything that is novel (the Canon of St. Vincent). If the consensus of the early Fathers didn’t teach divine retribution, and some later Fathers did, then that’s not a patristic consensus in favor of divine retribution.

    You wrote:

    “The narrow focus, mechanistic view of the atonement is of course lacking. But The Atonement is the hinge the whole of the redemptive work of Christ turns on, making us divine in the sense of godly, not New Age acquiring or remembering divinity of nature but the image of God, is the purpose, but the sole possible means was the Crucifixion and Resurrection.”

    Yes, the atonement is the hinge. But why? Because God’s retributive justice needed satisfaction? Or because death as a stage of human existence is a reality that needed to be reoriented and united to God’s immortality so it could result in resurrection?

    And of course I don’t care if Moss or Kalimoros was schismatic. What matters is what the Fathers say.

  48. MG says:

    Jason Loh,

    1. One is potentiality, the other is actuality. One is the energies as they are the formal cause of the unactualized powers of human nature. The other is the actualization of the human powers by which participation in the divine energies is actually accomplished.

    2. I’m not sure exactly what you mean in your first sentence. Did you mean “How can ‘likeness’ or transfiguration as its manifestation *be* partial?”

    If so, the answer is twofold. First, grace is not defined dialectically, as a divine response to the fall. So pre-fall, the powers of human nature that were relevant to participation in the divine energies were not fully actualized; as such there was no darkness that was being swallowed up by the progressive actualization of human powers. There was just progression from an incomplete (not fully actualized) state of participation in God to a fully actualized state.

    Second, the divine likeness is fully realized in Christ, but is only progressively accomplished and received in us by free choice. Light can coexist with darkness in a human person, but only insofar as that person has not yet fully actualized all of the relevant powers needed for full participation in the divine energies. The degree to which a human person has actualized these powers is the degree to which the darkness has been driven out.

  49. jnorm888 says:

    Mary, the Ancient Christian Atonement view was one of Ransom / Christus Victor.

    You are reading the modern Reformed protestant forensic view into their works.

    ICXC NIKA

  50. Cyril says:

    Lucian, thanks for pointing that out. I guess you can delight it if you are Leonardo.

  51. Mary,

    But yet St. Athanasius’ work is titled, “The Incarnation”. Teaching about one part of Christ’s life doesn’t negate the other parts, including His death. We can take joy in St. Athanasius and St. Maximus (who are Saints not New Agers) and Pascha. “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” This is what is focused on more than forensic details of what “atonement” means.

  52. Jason,

    Wheat and tares. Meanwhile we weed.

    We have a part in putting away childish things so that when the perfect comes the partial will be done away according to 1 Cor 13. For now we see in a mirror dimly. But you are right that we do not have an excuse. Christ is revealed to us in the Church, and after baptism we should not sin. This is why we have to continually repent and confess. We failed to use the tools available to us.

  53. As the OCA priest where I go explained it, Calvin’s TULIP
    is only partly true. We have partial depravity, not total.
    Atonement is not limited in purpose to only those that God
    decrees without regard to faith or works shall receive it,
    and so forth. Most heresies are emphasis problems.

    But the “forensic” idea and the problem about original
    sin – I see you have been drinking from the poisoned well
    of Met. Anthony Krapovitsky, who was made to back down
    by the ROCOR Holy Synod of his time, but whose followers
    took up his attack on atonement and have brought it into
    respectability in Orthodoxy.

    The fact is, you have to be reading with blinders, to be
    able to read St. Athanasius On the Incarnation, and think
    that the Incarnation was what corrected everything. It
    was on the Cross that the Divine Dilemma was solved, the
    Incarnation was necessary in order that God might be able
    to die like man. The Divine Dilemma St. Athanasius
    explicitly spells out in detail, this is not my
    idosyncratic interpretation this is what he says, is that
    God cannot go back on His word, which condemned us to
    the grave for rebellion, neither can He bear to see the
    work of His hands go to ruin. So He steps in and dies in
    our place, to satisfy His own justice, so that He can
    act on His love and not violate His own integrity.

    Forensic atonement is explicitly taught by St. Symeon
    the New Theologian in The Sin of Adam, and by St. Philaret
    of Moscow in his Catechism. When Peter Moghila’s Catechism
    was ordered rewritten before being approved by the Council
    of Jassy, it was only to remove purgatory and a few such
    things, NOT substitutionary atonement.

    The narrow focus, mechanistic view of the atonement is
    of course lacking. But The Atonement is the hinge the
    whole of the redemptive work of Christ turns on, making
    us divine in the sense of godly, not New Age acquiring
    or remembering divinity of nature but the image of God,
    is the purpose, but the sole possible means was the
    Crucifixion and Resurrection.

    I recommend Vladimir Moss HOCNA AND THE DOGMA OF REDEMPTION and his other book THE NEW SOTERIOLOGY.
    Before you complain that Moss is a schismatic, may I
    remind you that Kalomiros, who wrote THE RIVER OF FIRE
    which is so popular with some sloppy thinkers, and which
    is NOT taught by the images in the icon River of Fire
    he deludes himself into thinking it teaches, was ALSO
    a schismatic.

    Moss’ schismatic problems do not have bearing on his
    core doctrine books, and when I checked his sources and
    went looking for more, I found even more support in
    the Holy Fathers, and evidence of twisting and misquoting
    and misapplication of their words by modern semi Orthodox
    theologians, than even Moss had found.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/substitutionary_atonement_in_orthodoxy

  54. Jason Loh says:

    St Irenaeus is correct. The question is,

    1. How can image and likeness be *different* when both are centred in the Word of God who became Incarnate?

    2. How can “likeness” or transfiguration as its manifestation is partial? Can light co-exist with darkness, in that darkness remains and is not swallowed up by light?

  55. Lucian says:

    Palate, not palette.

  56. Cyril says:

    David, I will give you two passages from St. Irenaeus.

    1. “In His immeasurable love, He became what we are in order to make us what He i (from the preface to Bk V).”

    2. “For in times past it was said that man was made in the image of God, but not shown because the Word, in whose image man was made, was still invisible. That is why man lost the likeness so easily. But when the Word of God was made flesh, He confirmed both things: He showed the true image, when He Himself became what His image was; and He restored and made fast the likeness, making man like the invisible Father through the visible Word (V.16.2)”

    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the express image of the Father. When God said, “Let us make man in our own image” and that “after the image of God was man made,” we see that we ourselves are only images secondarily, Christ is the image. Thus in Romans 5.14 (which is what St. Irenaeus is alluding to) we see that Adam was the image (the Greek is τυπος) of Him who was to come. Thus, human nature is patterned after the Word of God so that we can have fellowship, real communion with the Triune God. So I don’t think it is merely a matter of foreknowing the Image, but that the Image was the antitype of which we are the type. This is what Christ comes to restore. Had the Fall not occurred, the Incarnation would have still happened in order that the communion of human nature with the Divine nature would be consummated.

  57. David Lindblom says:

    A question from an almost 2 year old Orthodox Christian (after 30 years a Protestant), you said:

    “Irenaeus also informs us that the Word of God is that image of God after which Adam was fashioned (AH III.22.3).”

    Help to understand this, is he saying that in some way the incarnated Christ has alway existed or that God foreknew this incarnated image and used it has the basis for fashioning us? Thanks.

  58. Cyril says:

    Wait!!! Are you telling me that Protestants, and especially the Reformed, believe in justification sola fide/em? Forgive me my sarcasm, please, I couldn’t help it. “Foreseen” was in apposition to “faith.” I wasn’t saying anything other than you have set out. Further, infants and idiots are justified without faith (WCF X.3), and I should have simply said without foreseen faith. The ordo salutis, is a tenuous thing at best, since it has to be admitted that all these things can happen (and some have to happen) instantly, and it generally only admits of a logical distinction for the Reformed. For me, I am happy to admit faith precedes justification.

    The main point here concerns the decree to justify, with respect to its Christological implications. This is still to be elaborated on more fully. Thanks for making me make this clarification.

    Peace,
    Cyril

  59. Michael says:

    Your account of “Calvinism” is at odds with Calvin’s view. You write that Calvinists are ones “who believe in forensic justification, effected in the Christian through the decree of God without reference to any faith, or faith foreseen. This definition would certainly take in not only Calvin, but also Martyr and Bullinger, and as well Melanchthon..” In Book III:11:Section 1 of the Institutes, Calvin says that “we obtain free justification” by faith. He then explicitly defends what I take as a forensic view of justification in Section 2. So it seems you either misunderstand Calvin, or simply are using terms in different ways than he is (and also begging the question).

    The order of salvation for reformers always has faith preceding justification. Perhaps your complaint could be that regeneration is effected in a person through God’s decree without reference to any faith or foreseen faith?

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