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The nature of man


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#1 Edward Henderson

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 11:29 AM

I was recently having a conversation with one of my Protestant friends (Reformed). We discussed icons and praying to saints and we both came to the conclusion that our view on such practices comes on our understanding of salvation and moreoever the nature of Man. I am preparing a letter for him but have few materials. I have been all over orthodoxinfo, Metropolitan Hierotheos' site, and romanity and have found some good materials. I thought I would just bring this to our forum because it has a great deal of bearing on other issues being discussed. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that, at least, the Reformed Protestants and the Orthodox agree on Man's nature before the fall of Adam and Eve. Where we differ is our nature after the fall. Ofcourse, this leads to the way in which Christ brought about our redemption and how we are "saved". My friend seemed to answer that he could understand why I pray to the Theotokos, Saints, venerate icons based on my belief in deification (theosis), as the Orthodox Church teaches. Our core disagreement is that Nature of Man after the fall. It goes to show that our differences with our other Christian friends is so fundamental. Ironically, people say the exact opposite where if you think about it, our common grounds are more in externals and in use of a common terminology. The meaning behind these externals and terms are often very different. I am sure I have opened a pandora's box but it is certainly a worthwhile disscussion.


#2 Dcn Alexander Haig

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 03:57 PM

Depending on exactly which type of Protestant your friend is will affect his view on man's nature BEFORE the fall. Many Protestants believe that the creation in the garden was perfect: from an Orthodox viewpoint it was capable of becoming perfect. In a perfect creation, the fall would not have happened, but in a creation that was not yet perfect, creation, led by man, could become fallen.

In a perfect garden, surely Adam and Eve would have been able to eat of the fruits of the tree of knowledge?

Sorry for mixing things up further!

With love in Christ

Alex

May everyone have a joyful Lent!


#3 Edward Henderson

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 05:40 PM

What I am trying to get is the Orthodox teaching on this. He is Calvinistic, not totally, but leaning in that direction. I will I had a copy of First Created Man by Saint Symeon the New Theologian. Here in Moscow, we have many Orthodox bookstores and even with our "OCA Representation Church", there is very little to be found of Orthodox literature in English.


#4 Eugene

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 05:42 PM

Most protestant denominations, while they think they rejected Roman Catholic view on salvation, still inherited the basic Roman's legalistic understanding of the man's nature after the fall - that people inherit the guilt of the Adam's sin. For protestants the salvation is attained by "erasing" this guit once and forever when a person accepts Christ as his personal savior, accepts His sacrifice and the fact that He took this guilt on Himself and satisfied "the Father's wrath". Orthodox viewpoint is different - after the fall the nature of men was damaged and we inherit the sickness of the nature, but not the guilt. Salvation is a process of healing attained by crusifying the old sick person in us and growing a new deified person in Christ by faith.


#5 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 05:48 PM

Fascinating topic.

I would also be interested in any books describing the Orthodox understanding of human nature before and after the fall - particularly any reliable and reasonably comprehensive patristic accounts of the prelapsarian human condition. Can anyone suggest something?

Also, would it be true to say that since the nature of God is only partially revealed both in this life and the next, the same goes for human nature?

ICXC
Byron


#6 Andrew Williams

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 02:34 PM

Hi Edward!

Here in Moscow, we have many Orthodox bookstores and even with our "OCA Representation Church", there is very little to be found of Orthodox literature in English.


The BBI library has a lot of books in English, and I would guess this is also true for other Orthodox Institute libraries, such as St Tikhon's, if you can get access to them. The big library in the Andreevski monastery also has a lot of them, as does Fr Chris in his room there! He might be the best person to advise you on where to find such a book and other relevant books in Moscow.

#7 Guest_Elias Young

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 05:45 PM

A good place to start might be JND Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines. He gives breif overviews of various doctirnes as advocated by many of the foundational Church Father's of the East & West.

At $7.99 on www.CBD.com , it is hard to beat.

elias


#8 M A Jackson-Roberts

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 04:39 PM

Dear Edward (and others)

Have you seen the current issue of Time magazine? It contains a fascinating account of how the various protestant churches, notably in the US, are returning to a very belated appreciation of the theological importance of the Virgin Mary. In my experience, the Church of England (or at least its Anglo-Catholic wing, in which I grew up) has always retained a measure of that awareness and venerated her accordingly. Some things do improve with the passage of time, it seems.

seeker


#9 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 08:18 AM

The following was originally posted in another thread by Byron:

There is, however, another point here, a more difficult one perhaps, related to the issue of Reality (I use the capital "R" to indicate the One Ultimate Reality which I assume underlies every phenomenon which is not in some way illusory). Patrick Walsh has recently posted on the use of the term "passion" in another thread; perhaps the issue of pain and pleasure may be linked to this, as what is being called into question is the Real nature of human being; for me, one way of defining this is by referring to Human Nature as God intended it in the first place, prior to the Fall and always increasing in its likeness to Him. For me as a psychologist, this a particularly interesting question (although I realise it cannot be answered empirically and sadly must remain in the realm of philosophical / theological speculation, "for now we see through a glass, darkly"). But I'll go ahead and ask it anyway:

What is our original nature? Were we sentient beings even in Paradise? Did we experience attraction and attachment to things? Did we experience pain or discomfort there? Did we have any impulses, drives, instincts?


#10 Theopesta

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 10:06 AM

Dear brother
JOHN OF DAMASCUS: AN EXACT EXPOSITION OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH, BOOK II
capter xi and xii contain many things of what you ask about

in this link [www.newadvent.org/fathers/33042]
just few brief points:
1- in cap.xi
Posted Image {Eden..a very storehouse of joy and gladness of heart }

Posted Image {Some, indeed, have pictured Paradise as a realm of sense(6), and others as a realm of mind. But it seems to me, that, just as man is a creature, in whom we find both sense and mind blended together, in like manner also man's most holy temple combines the properties of sense and mind, and has this twofold expression: for, as we said, the life in the body is spent in the most divine and lovely region, while the life in the soul is passed in a place far more sublime and of more surpassing beauty}

2- chapter xii
Posted Image {after His image" clearly refers to the side of his nature which consists of mind and free will, whereas "after His likeness "means likeness in virtue so far as that is possible}

Posted Image {body and soul were formed at one and the same time}

Posted Image {God then made man without evil, upright, virtuous, free from pain and care, glorified with every virtue, adorned with all that is good}

Posted Image {But God made him by nature sinless, and endowed him with free will. By sinless, I mean not that sin could find no place in him}

Posted Image {that sin is the result of the free volition he enjoys rather than an integral part of his nature; that is to say, he has the power to continue and go forward in the path of goodness, by co-operating with the divine grace, and likewise to turn from good and take to wickedness, for God has conceded this by conferring freedom of will upon him. For there is no virtue in what is the result of mere force}

3- chap. xiii
Posted Image {while the pleasures of the body depend upon sensation. Further, of bodily pleasures:

a- some are both natural and necessary, in the absence of which life is impossible...

b- Others are natural but not necessary, as the pleasures of natural and lawful intercourse...

c- Others, however, are neither natural nor necessary, such as drunkenness, lust, and surfeiting to excess

He therefore that would live a life acceptable to God must follow after those pleasures which are both natural and necessary: and must give a secondary place to those which are natural but not necessary, and enjoy them only in fitting season, and manner, and measure; while the others must be altogether renounced.
Those then are to be considered moral pleasures which are not bound up with pain, and bring no cause for repentance, and result in no other harm and keep within the bounds of moderation, and do not draw us far away from serious occupations, nor make slaves of us.}

If Iam not mistaken I know thay st.basil speak about the image and likness in creation of man but I don't know where

in one christ, theopesta


#11 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 05 October 2005 - 05:05 AM

Dear Theopesta,

Thank you very much for the very helpful comments from St John of Damascus, which call to mind the expression "rightly dividing the word of truth". Spot on!

In Christ
Byron


#12 Guest_Leandros

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 09:46 AM

Even when we are cured by the Church, our Blindness remains. Our presence into the Uncreated Light is an ontological "transfer", not an ontological "transformation". We partake to the Life "beyond", while being unmoved.

There is a very interesting article that is publiced at The National Federation of the Blind Magazine for Parents and Teachers of Blind Children with the title "Mom, What Does Blind Mean?".

If we would have changed the title to "Father, What does 'being a Christian' means?" it would be a perfect theological explanation.

Here is the article in question:



“Mom, What Does Blind Mean?” by Pauletta Feldman

Introduction by Barbara Cheadle, President National Organization of Parents of Blind Children


There are a few subjects in our society that even the most confident parent finds difficult to discuss with his/her children. Trying to explain or answer a question about sex or death to an inquisitive four-year-old, for example, can leave us stammering. Sometimes the difficulty arises out of ambivalent feelings about the subject, and sometimes the awkwardness stems from a lack of experience and modeling. We simply do not know how to discuss these topics with our children because our parents never discussed them with us when we were children. Fortunately, there are many places parents can turn to for help.

Parenting classes, individual counseling, religious faith, and self-help books are just some of the avenues through which parents can get information and guidance.

But what do you do if you have a blind child? Where do you turn for guidance when your child asks, “Mom, what does blind mean?” Or, “Dad, am I blind?” Sadly, the typical parental response has been to avoid or ignore the question. I can’t count the times I have heard blind adults say, “My parents were great about letting me do the same things other kids were doing when I was growing up. But the one thing they never did was talk about blindness. It was only when I grew up and met the National Federation of the Blind that I learned to feel good about my blindness.”

However, blind children today do not have to grow up before they can benefit from the positive philosophy and mutual support of the National Federation of the Blind; it is here for them—through their parents—right now. Take, for example, Jamie Weedman. His mother (Pauletta Feldman) and father have been longtime readers of both Future Reflections and the Braille Monitor. When Jamie was still a toddler they attended an intensive two-day parent leadership workshop sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind. Some of the leaders and participants of that workshop were blind. Parents talked with, laughed with, argued with, worked with, cried with, and learned to respect their blind colleagues at this workshop. All of this helped Jamie’s parents prepare for that day when he would ask that fateful question. Here is what Paulette Feldman has to say about that experience:

It wasn’t until my son, Jamie, was five years old that he finally asked me that question. We’d used the word blind in conversation, and he’d certainly heard it from other people. But we hadn’t really discussed blindness or its implications with Jamie. Maybe we were just “chicken” and putting off the inevitable.

However, we had decided that we would handle discussions of blindness with Jamie as we had handled discussions of sex with our older children: when they started asking questions, we felt they were ready to be told the facts.

So that day at naptime when Jamie asked about blindness, I sucked in a big breath and summoned my courage. “Blind means that you can’t see with your eyes,” I said. “I can see things with my eyes. I can see the trees and the birds and all of the other things I tell you about. But you see things in a different way than with your eyes. You use your smart fingers and your smart ears.” He was quite satisfied with that answer and didn’t pursue the subject further that day. However in the days to come, he would ask questions again. The kind of questions he asked led me to believe that, in his mind, he wasn’t the one that was different, I was! In a way, it was like his first notion of differences among people was of how they were different from him, rather than how he was different from them. I liked that—I liked how self-confident and self-loving he was.

For awhile, Jamie seemed to think that everybody we knew was blind and that there were just a few people who could see. He began asking about person after person in our family and among our friends to sort out who was blind and who was not. Gradually he came to realize that he knew more people who could see than who could not. I’m so thankful that we knew other blind children and adults so that as this realization dawned on him, he did not feel isolated or alone. The blind people that we knew were really neat people. They were friends and fun to be with, just like our other friends. They were people that Jamie really liked, and he could feel good about having something in common with them.

Jamie began school and loved learning to read Braille. He became very interested in how sighted people read. Then he began asking of everyone we knew whether they read with their fingers or with their eyes.

During the past two years since facing that first question, there have been many incidents that have brought both hidden tears and silent laughter as we have gone through Jamie’s formation of opinions about blindness. There was the day that he came home from school very indignant because a teacher had mentioned that he couldn’t see. He said. “I told her that I can too see! I can see the light!” Another day, as he and his brother sat at the kitchen table doing homework, he asked accusingly, “Is Don doing his homework with his eyes?” And he laid his face on his Brailled worksheet and said, “Then I’m doing my homework with my eyes too!” He decided that someday he was going to go to school with his brother and then he would be able to read print because they didn’t teach Braille there.

He went through a phase of picking up some lingo and developing an interest in degree of blindness. He’d ask of fellow visually impaired students whether they were “totals” or “partials” (and of course, he wasn’t a “total” because he could see some light). He also came up with some clever excuses. When reminded for the umpteenth time not to poke his eyes, his response to me was very patronizing, as if educating a child, “Mom, blind people just like to do that!” Then there was the night near Christmas when we went driving around to see the lights in the neighborhood. I tried to describe them to Jamie, but he finally said with some boredom, “I can’t see the lights, Mom. But don’t blame me! I’m blind.”

As Jamie has gotten older, some of his responses to his blindness have begun to be tinged with sadness. One day we read a little book called, “Corky the Blind Seal,” about a seal in a zoo who lost his sight. The next day as he got off the school bus, he said, “I want to be a bus driver when I grow up!” My heart ached, and I just said,” I bet driving a school bus is fun, too.” But when we got in the house, he confessed. “I know I can’t be a bus driver. Blind people can’t drive, and I’m blind. I’m glad I’m blind, Mom. I just wish I could be blind like Corky the seal was blind, because he got to see first.” He asked if it was nice to be able to see, and I said that it was. We talked about how he could see what I see using his other senses, like when we went to the ocean he could feel the water, taste its saltiness, hear its waves, and smell it, too. He liked knowing that there were things that even people who were sighted actually couldn’t see, like the wind—that we had to hear it and feel it to know it was there just like he did.

I’ve always wanted Jamie to feel good about himself. I haven’t wanted him to think that there is anything wrong with the way he is. I haven’t been able to bring myself to tell Jamie that, according to some people, there is something wrong with being blind. Maybe I’ll regret this someday, but I figure in time he’ll learn. I hope he will come to me with his questions then and that I’ll be able to answer them. To me, blindness is a difference, a source of sadness sometimes and inconvenience at others, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

Life is a journey of self-discovery. I want Jamie’s journey to bring self-love with the discovery of his many potentials and capabilities as well as his personal limitations. We all have to face certain limitations. It’s how we cope with them that really matters. So far, Jamie has always managed to find a silver lining for every one of his clouds, to compensate for each limitation with a special strength. Why just last week he said, “Mom, aren’t you glad I’m blind and have such smart fingers and can read Braille? You can’t read Braille with your fingers! You have to use your eyes.”

Adapted from an article originally published in VIP News, a newsletter of the Visually Impaired Preschool Services in Louisville, Kentucky.

There is also a superb book by Jose Saramago (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998) titled "BLINDNESS". Near the end of the novel, when the blind people are getting their vision back, he has one of his characters remark: "I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see".


#13 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 03:59 PM

Some time back, Mr Henderson wrote:

I was recently having a conversation with one of my Protestant friends (Reformed). We discussed icons and praying to saints and we both came to the conclusion that our view on such practices comes on our understanding of salvation and moreoever the nature of Man. I am preparing a letter for him but have few materials.


I wonder if you've gone further with this since the beginnings of our discussion here? I'd be curious to know what you culled together, and how; and perhaps to talk about it further here in the community.

INXC, Matthew

#14 J. A. McIntyre

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 05:08 AM

What is the will of man after the fall? The will seems to be determined, by something, always...how did the will of man become affected and determined after sin entered the world [by one man]? I think it's important to do as Blessed Augustine did and turn to the Scriptures...since the Bible allows for logic we should use logic to under God's teaching on this subject...[on does the Eastern Orthodox Church understand the verdict of the Council of Orange?]

Gen. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17But 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.

The penalty for disobedience of God’s command was death.

Gen. 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Adam’s disobedience brought in the fail of mankind

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

Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened[made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Col 13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened[made alive] together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

+++The word dead is nekros and is defined by Strong’s as, "one that has breathed his last, lifeless." The Augustinian and Federal view understands sin to be imputed to human kind because of Adam’s sin, resulting in the spiritual bankruptcy of all people. This idea finds expressed by David in the following passges.

Psalm 51:5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Pslam 58:3The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

We are born in sin, it’s for this reason our Lord Jesus Christ tells us we need to be born again to enter God’s kingdom. Also note, Christ’s words in John 3:3, "he cannot see." This is in direct relation to the kingdom of God, one must be born again to even see the offer.

John 3: 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

+++Ask yourself, can the carnal fleshy man bring about spiritual change? Not according to Christ’s words, "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Amen.

The heart of fallen man as a result of the fall:

Gen. 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Gen. 8:21And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Ecc. 9:3This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

Jer. 17: 9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Mark 7:21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

John 3: 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. [This point is important for those who believe man desires to be saved, they don’t. Men are slaves to sin and love to sin, they harden their hearts to the Gospel offer for the reason stated above.]

Rom. 8: 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: [The fallen mind of man is hostile toward God.] for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

1 Cor. 2:14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. [The fallen man cannot discern spiritual things, as was pointed out above.]

Eph. 4: 17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: [And what is the reason for their blindness? Vanity of their mind, the understanding was darkened.] 19Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Eph. 5: 8For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

Titus 1:15Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

Before God enables fallen man to respond, we belong to the Devil:

John 8:10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

John 8: 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Rom. 6: 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

Eph. 2: 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

2 Tim. 2: 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Titus 3: 3For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

1 John 3: 10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

1 John 5: 19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

All are sinners:

2 Chronicles 6: 36If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;

1 Kings 8: 46If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;

Job 15: 14What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? 15Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. 16How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?
Psalm 130: 3If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

Psalm 143: 2And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

Proverbs 20: 9Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

Ecclesiastes 7: 20For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Isaiah 64:5Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.

Isaiah 53: 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Romans 3: 9What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

James 3: 2For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

1 John 1: 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

If man is left dead in sin, they are unable to repent:

Job 14: 4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. [and that is essentially what the Arminian claims to do.]
Jeremiah 13: 23Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. [The evil cannot change.]

Matthew 7: 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Matthew 12: 33Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.

John 6: 44 [This is a classic passge.] NO man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. [Those and only those who are called will be raised up. This passage is also teahing that being raised up is a fact. If all are called, then all are raised up. Man’s inability to choice the good, the spiritual is because of their nature. God the Father must call them.]

John 6: 65And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. [Notice, ‘except.’ This is in reference to man’s inability.]

Our sufficiency is from God:

1 Cor. 2: 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God [which is why these topics are to be discussed with brethren and not the world.]: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Cor. 4: 7For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

2 Cor. 3: 5Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Faith and repentance are gifts from God:

Acts 5: 31Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Acts 13: 48And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life BELIEVED. [They believed because God granted them belief.]

Acts 16: 14And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, [God did it, not Lydia.] that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

Acts 18: 27And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

Ephesians 2 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 2: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Dictionary.com defines work as, "Physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something." Work is something you do, if that’s true, then believing in the Gospel is an activity to accomplish your salvation.]

Philippians 1: 29For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, [It was given to them to believe.] but also to suffer for his sake;

2 Timothy 2: 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

______________________________________________________________

As you can see, God doesn't think so highly of fallen man, and in closing read the words of Romans:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

God bless,

abide_above
PS: Does anyone know where I can get an Icon of Bl. Augustine?

#15 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 12:58 PM

As you can see, God doesn't think so highly of fallen man


This does not seem evident at all, despite the rather encyclopaedic assembly of unconnected biblical texts.

Orthodox theology in no way advances under the assumption that God thinks little of man in his fallen state. Rather, that God thinks so much of man in his fallen condition that he is willing even to enter into it, in order to sanctify, advance and elevate it out of that baseness into something greater.

There is no room, not the slightest room, in Orthodox theology for a conception of God as against fallen man.

INXC, Matthew

#16 J. A. McIntyre

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 02:50 PM

This does not seem evident at all, despite the rather encyclopaedic assembly of unconnected biblical texts.

Orthodox theology in no way advances under the assumption that God thinks little of man in his fallen state. Rather, that God thinks so much of man in his fallen condition that he is willing even to enter into it, in order to sanctify, advance and elevate it out of that baseness into something greater.

There is no room, not the slightest room, in Orthodox theology for a conception of God as against fallen man.

INXC, Matthew


I honestly believe these words sum up man: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

We could sweep my post aside, and I’m willing, if you would offer a logical exegesis on the above passage[s]…or maybe it’s best I clarify with St. Paul’s words, “"The carnal mind is enmity against God"—Romans 8:7 I’m not a Greek scholar by any stretch so I must lean on the scholarship of others. The word enmity means hostile, if the fleshy mind is enmity/hostile toward God, that would place man at odds with God. In the Holy Gospel of St. John we find the words, “They have hated me without a cause.”

Maybe it’s better if we start with Tradition and the Orthodox opinion of St. Augustines work, I’d like to learn more, and willing to accept correction.

Peace.

#17 J. A. McIntyre

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 09:53 PM

Romans: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

We agree that St. Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the above [God inspired Paul to write those nasty things], I think it's clear, but I'm interested in what the Fathers have to say on this topic...if you have the time, could you direct me to a link or printed material where I may come to a better grasp of what St. Paul wrote?

Thanks.

#18 J. A. McIntyre

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 11:21 PM

In Romans we find a description that was written by St. Paul, who was lead by the Holy Spirit to write. It's a description of man in his natural state and I quoted it at the end of my post...I'm interested in how the Fathers understand this passage...can someone point me in the right direction?

Thanks.

#19 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 12:03 PM

Earlier in this thread, Mr McIntyre wrote:

I honestly believe these words sum up man: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.


I think the problem here is that an Orthodox approach to truth, bound up in its approach to scripture, does not consist of -- and cannot be obtained by -- simply taking various statements from that scripture and assembling them together in a portrait on a theme. Scripture read this way will say whatever the reader wants it to say; and I, like many others, have seen it read to say every conceivable thing. If one wishes to understand the nature of man as perceived by Orthodoxy, one must learn to read the scriptures ecclesially, within the life of the Church, and not simply by gleaning relevant bytes from the texts.

(I do not wish to get too sidetracked here on how to read scripture; that conversation can certainly be carried forward in various threads that already focus on it, e.g. How to interpret scripture; Prophecy and reason - 'Two scriptures'?; and perhaps most thoroughly in Orthodox attitude to the Bible.)


The nature of man as fallen, as enmeshed in a cosmos of sin of his own devising, does of course effect the nature of his relationship to God. But the very heart of the incarnational understanding of salvation confessed by the Church is that it doesn't change God's relationship to man, which is as constant and unchanging as God is in himself. The wrath God meets out in response to sin is part of the same love by which he lifts up the broken. Rather than an indication that God's attitude toward man has changed as a result of sin (i.e. that God changes from loving man to being against him), the fathers of the Church see God's wrath as the sign of the continuation of that love; for wrath (another matter that has been much discussed here) is understood as chastising, correcting, and not vengeful. To be wrathful toward sin is the firmest expression of love for the sinner. Not to meet out such love-induced wrath is, ultimately, to abandon the sinner to his or her wrong. Ignorance, or acceptance, of sin would be the true sign of God changing in his relationship to man.

This is, I think, where so much of Bible-snipping on the nature of man falls short. It takes texts without framework, without the overarching incarnational awareness of the Church as to what is revealed in every word of scripture. This is particularly true with relevance to questions on the presence of evil in man, of sin, of wrath, of unrighteousness, etc. Is there, in fact, any passage of scripture that indicates God loves, acts or 'thinks' of man any differently as a result of sin than he does/did without? Is there any passage that speaks of humanity as sinful or evil, that genuinely does so as a means to indicate the definitive description of man to which God looks -- or do these indicate the reality of how man is living, who he is letting himself becomes, of which God is aware, but beyond which he looks when dealing with humanity?

Which might lead into the passage by St Paul that you provided in your post:

“"The carnal mind is enmity against God"—Romans 8:7 I’m not a Greek scholar by any stretch so I must lean on the scholarship of others. The word enmity means hostile, if the fleshy mind is enmity/hostile toward God, that would place man at odds with God. In the Holy Gospel of St. John we find the words, “They have hated me without a cause.”


A number of interesting implications that aren't noted here, but which abound in the teachings of the Church:

First, the passage does not place man at odds with God. It speaks of 'the carnal mind' being in enmity with God. The distinction is absolutely crucial. Paul's whole point, when one reads the larger scope of that passage from Romans, is that we shouldn't live and act in such a way -- we must live 'according to the spirit and not the flesh'; in other words, he is indicating rather clearly that this 'carnal mind' is not a definition of man, but of a specific way man lives. It is a way that is to be avoided.

Secondly, to be at odds with God speaks of our relationship to him, not his to us. This harks back to earlier claims that God 'doesn't think much of fallen man'; but that is to reverse the reality of enmity. The whole of the Old Testament is, especially as it culminates in the new, a story of God's unchanging relationship to a race that constantly varies and wavers in its response to him.

INXC, Matthew

Edit: Since posting the above, I have realised that another thread on the 'wrath' of God is available here; this is in addition to the one I reference in brackets in the above.

#20 Theopesta

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 07:35 PM

dear celestial venerable members:

I need more clarification on these Q to understand the effect of death on our nature if we not sin i.e if Adam and Eve had not trespassed the commandament and remain obediant to GOD

having taken especial pity, above all things on earth, upon the race of men, and having perceived its inability, by virtue of the condition of its origin, to continue in one stay, He gave them a further gift, and He did not barely create man, as He did all the irrational creatures on the earth, but made them after His own image, giving them a portion even of the power of His own Word; so that having as it were a kind of reflection of the Word, and being made rational, they might be able to abide ever in blessedness, living the true life which belongs to the saints in paradise


4. But knowing once more how the will of man could sway to either side, in anticipation He secured the grace given them by a law and by the spot where He placed them. For He brought them into His own garden, and gave them a law: so that, if they kept the grace and remained good, they might still keep the life in paradise without sorrow or pain or care besides having the promise of incorruption in heaven; but that if they transgressed and turned back, and became evil, they might know that they were incurring that corruption in death which was theirs by nature: no longer to live in paradise, but cast out of it from that time forth to die and to abide in death and in corruption.


this mean the original nature is weak, and worthy corruption in death

BUT, death not overpower out of:

having as it were a kind of reflection of the Word,


another point

if they kept the grace and remained good, they might still keep the life in paradise without sorrow or pain or care besides having the promise of incorruption in heaven;


this Q means: if the man did not sin he could live in paradise foe ever or GOD take him to the heaven, as the paradise is earthy and their was a certain end for liveing in it

I am grateful for any clarification or suggestion of more refrances
IN ONE CHRIST, Theo-




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