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Theosis and its relation to the oldest lie in the book...


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#61 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 07:56 PM

Off topic question, what does it mean to be a Father and a Deacon? That seems odd to me.


Deacon is an actual rank, like presbyter and bishop. "Father" is a term of reverence applied to presbyters and deacons and sometimes bishops ("Pope" means father).

Orthodox deacons are customarily addressed as "Reverend Deacon" or "Father Deacon," which many people shorten to simply "Father."

My understanding is that Roman Catholic deacons are never addressed as "Father," even though their deacons do things Orthodox deacons do not, like marry people.

#62 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 08:40 PM

BTW maybe I am being nitpicky and maybe not, but I think the scriptures say that we are saved by grace, not by revelation. Revelation is an indication of the presence of grace. Grace enlightens the mind. Ascetic struggle helps to develop in us the prerequisite disposition to receive grace. Grace is what brings about the restoration of our relation with the rest of humanity as well as the restoration with God.


We seem not to share the same definition of grace. I take grace to mean all the things God does to save us, including revelation. How do you define it?

#63 David Lindblom

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 10:28 PM

Sorry it's taken me awhile to get back to this, but I think that you are not understanding what the Fathers present in terms of the relation of the individual person to our human nature as a whole. Yes Christ assumed all of human nature but this doesn't guarantee the salvation of every individual because every individual still has their own freedom to participate in or reject what Christ did.

In freely accepting Christ we become fully human, we participate in that redeemed humanity. In closing ourselves off from Christ through agreeing with and accepting defensiveness, anger, and the other passions, we become, are becoming, something less then fully human. We are rejecting our own nature, and hence destroying ourselves as well as negatively effecting those around us on a spiritual level. You noted Orthodoxy does not have a substitutionary paradigm but what it does have is a participatory paradigm and we have to learn to look at our relation to God and ourselves this way to truly understand the Fathers.

BTW maybe I am being nitpicky and maybe not, but I think the scriptures say that we are saved by grace, not by revelation. Revelation is an indication of the presence of grace. Grace enlightens the mind. Ascetic struggle helps to develop in us the prerequisite disposition to receive grace. Grace is what brings about the restoration of our relation with the rest of humanity as well as the restoration with God.

by "resoration with humanity" I don't mean we are all externally at peace with each other, but I am refering to a restoration, a communion, on a more intimate and spiritual level. You can't just dismiss the mystics as writing "patristic poetry". They are speaking of real experiences where the barriers that we experience in our fallen state do not exist. Read some of the modern elders. It makes you realize we are mostly living in the 'old man' and how far short we ourselves are of living in the restoration that God offers us in Christ.


If I may be so bold as to poke my nose into this discussion, both of you and your knowledge of the Fathers is way above mine, it seems to me that what you are saying is something Fr. Mitchell would not disagree w/. It seems you might be talking past one another a bit.

As far as what Christ brings to humanity and to each individual, here's a quote from Elder Cleopa that might bridge the gap between what each of you are saying:

Our objective salvation is realized only in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, whereas our personal or subjective salvation, which in the language of the New Testament is called righteousness, holiness, or salvation (in the narrow sense), is realized as a continuance of this objective salvation, with our personal energy or activity acting in co-operation with Divine Energy or Grace.

The truth is that Christ has brought salvation to everyone, something theologians have labelled general (or objective) salvation. And yet, everyone does not actualize this objective salvation, only those who seek and pursue it. While objective salvation is granted to every human being, subjective or personal salvation depends on the intent of man. Those who desire to be saved and work toward that goal receive divine Grace as their aide and guide. This Grace does not work in us violently; rather it abides with us peren- nially as a specific offering for the work of our salvation. Subsequently, it is not possible for us to speak of an unconditional predestination and its inadequate presuppositions for salvation.


If I'm missing both of your points then disregard my blatherings.

#64 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 01:28 AM

David, your comments are very welcome, and I think you are right that in a sense Anna and I are talking past one another. I have no problem with your citation of Elder Cleopas. I'm concerned, though, that some other Orthodox talk of Grace as some mystical power that reworks our spiritual DNA independent of hearing and understanding the Gospel and acting in imitation of Christ. I suspect they do this because they don't really understand how powerful and revolutionary the Gospel is as a revelation of both God and man. It is too familiar to them to stand out as exceptional, and so they try to explain our salvation through mystical or juridical means. Unfortunately, it may take my whole book to show how exceptional the Gospel is.

This of course does not deny that, after hearing the Gospel and being enlightened, we still work out our salvation through struggling spiritually and partaking mystically of the life of Christ through the Church. But our struggling and partaking also work toward our enlightenment and appreciation of the awesome mystery of Christ's Incarnation.

In Christ, Dn. Patrick

#65 Anna Stickles

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 01:50 AM

Well the definition connected with theosis is that grace is the uncreated energies of God which is God Himself. But to separate God from his own action is a false dichotomy. So while your own definition only mentions God's action, I can't be sure whether or not you are limiting your definition of grace to this or not.

Accepting this dichotomy is what St Gregory of Palamas protested against because it leads to the denial of the possibility of union with God. As far as I understand it, the view of Barlaam was that God acted on the soul renewing it and making it holy by adding virtue to it, but that God Himself never entered the soul. It had to do with Catholic views of God that evolved out of the good intention to avoid pantheism, but in result led to a denial of theosis.

but the Orthodox view is that God renews the soul by virtue of His own union with the soul, imparting to it His own energy. Barlaam was separating the presence of God from His acting.

I didn't word it very well, but the main point behind my assertion that we are saved by grace, not revelation, is that grace is a much wider term then revelation, more foundational. Part of what God gives us is truth, part is righteousness, part is love, part is incorruption and eternal life. All of these are just different manifestations of grace. To say we are saved by revelation kind of misses the wider picture.

It particularly misses the wider picture because one of the radical contentions of Orthodoxy is the contention that God gives us incorruption and eternal life, not simply as a continuation of being after we die, but as something real here and now.

#66 Peter S.

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 04:06 PM

I've noticed that Protestants call our Saviour 'Jesus' while we call Him 'Christ': that reflects something of the difference in thinking, perhaps.


Our Saviour is Jesus Christ. Just as in the Jesusprayer. How else can the Jesusprayer have any real effect, not being an expert on this?

Jesus ressurected from the tomb just as he foretold. "He has given us eternal life and great mercy". Remember this hymn and Ressurection text? It is not that we dont call our saviour Jesus. It is that the protestants seldom, maybe never call him Christ. Jesus became man in the incarnation. The core in the mystery is that Christ ressurected. So we say: Christ is risen! The Father raised him up. Then he ascended with a spiritual body.

Peter
in Christ

Edited by Peter S., 20 December 2009 - 04:31 PM.


#67 Peter S.

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 05:01 PM

Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven in a spiritual body. Nothing less:

1 Tim 6,20-21: "Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge- 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith."

#68 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 11:24 PM

Well the definition connected with theosis is that grace is the uncreated energies of God which is God Himself. But to separate God from his own action is a false dichotomy. So while your own definition only mentions God's action, I can't be sure whether or not you are limiting your definition of grace to this or not. ... but the main point behind my assertion that we are saved by grace, not revelation, is that grace is a much wider term then revelation, more foundational.


Thank you, Anna. Again I think we are talking past one another and are not really that far apart. I agree that "grace is a much wider term than revelation and more foundational." I also agree that one cannot separate God's energies from God's actions. But you are writing in reaction to my stress on revelation and I am writing in reaction to your diminishment of revelation, and in your previous post, you seemed to me to separate God's energies from God's actions by excluding revelation from grace. I see now that that is not the case.

Part of what God gives us is truth, part is righteousness, part is love, part is incorruption and eternal life. All of these are just different manifestations of grace. To say we are saved by revelation kind of misses the wider picture.


The issue is HOW God gives us truth, righteousness, love, incorruption, and eternal life. I think revelation -- being shown the image of the Father, the image of God in man, the knowledge of the self-giving God -- is a large part of the explanation, which has not been understood as well as it should be.

In Christ, Dn. Patrick

#69 Paul Cowan

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 02:32 AM

It is not that we dont call our saviour Jesus. It is that the protestants seldom, maybe never call him Christ.
Peter
in Christ


A young street urchin was adopted by a religous (protestant) family. Upon returning home from church one Sunday the new and proud parents asked their new foster son how he enjoyed church. He looked down and very sheepishly, almost in a whisper said "Oh, it was ok. But that guy up front kept cussing the whole time." The parents we naturally shocked and asked "When? What did he say?". He replied "He kept saying Jesus Christ the whole time he was talking. I thought someone would say something to him, but everyone just kept nodding and smiling. Some of them were raising their hands like in school and waving them, but he never called on them."

Paul

#70 Peter S.

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 09:34 AM

It is that the protestants seldom, maybe never call him Christ.
Peter
in Christ


This is wrong and arroganse by me. Shame on me.

#71 Anna Stickles

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 01:09 PM

Thanks for the encouragement to look again at the Gospels. A reminder of how important they are is something we can't hear too much of. I can certainly use the reminder to read them more and with more attention and prayer. We do tend to take them for granted. Was it St Seraphim or Sarov that used to read the entire Gospel daily? It was one of the saints anyway.

and in your previous post, you seemed to me to separate God's energies from God's actions by excluding revelation from grace. I see now that that is not the case.

Guilty as charged. I just didn't notice it until I started the post to you on the same problem so I tried to clarify in my second post. Isn't there something in the Bible about logs..... one of the things I really like in discussions like this is that it helps us see our own misthinking and stretches us out of our ruts.

The issue is HOW God gives us truth, righteousness, love, incorruption, and eternal life. I think revelation -- being shown the image of the Father, the image of God in man, the knowledge of the self-giving God -- is a large part of the explanation, which has not been understood as well as it should be.

This is a really good observation. And it would be well worth discussing further. In reading Augustine I've started to realize that certain underlying assumptions about the nature of reality lead to drastically different conceptualizations of theosis. And many of the assumptions about reality that the Greeks had are not all that different from modern science and so the same types of errors tend to pop up. These errors don't just exist in Freemasonry and Mormonism, but you find them even in Orthodox writers such as Augustine. It's just that in Augustine, they don't get out of hand because Church life and Tradition mitigate the damage. Within the safety net of Tradition the mistakes are prevented from being taken to the logical extreme while the good pastoral application of what is said can still be effective. Outside Tradition you get the extremes, and the further outside Tradition you get the more extreme you get.

Although this thread is marginally on theosis I know so little of either Freemasonry or Mormonism (and it seems most other people are in the same boat) that maybe it would be better to start a new thread dedicated to how materialistic or mechanistic worldviews cause a distortion in our view of theosis and what the Fathers have said in answer to these distortions.

#72 Anna Stickles

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 02:14 PM

Although I guess one of the most basic answers to the question how God gives us eternal life is here

II Peter 1:3-11 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

St Peter starts out talking about the "mystical power that reworks our spiritual DNA" ( I kind of liked this description) and goes on to show how we cooperate with this. Then goes on to encourage us that in the union of the two is life and growth, but that a rejection of this is a death and a fall.

I think here too we have both understandings of knowledge. In vs 1 we have knowledge as contemplation of, participation in Grace, which is God's part and in vs 5 we have knowledge as what we gain by our own efforts in reading the Gospels and other spiritual books. And in vs 8 the union of the two.

Faith is the foundation. Faith as submission and trust is our first response to God's presence and power, but we also see our need for moral goodness, for knowledge such as you suggest, for ascetic striving toward self control, for perseverance (the monastics often refer to stability- ie we don't run away from the hard things God gives us)

I admit I have often wondered here what is meant by godliness. How is this different from goodness?

(my pastor once talked about the Greek word used here when it says "increasing" measure saying it can be understood similar to compounding as in compound interest.)

Edited by Anna Stickles, 21 December 2009 - 02:38 PM.





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