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Sin and the loss of justification


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#1 Ariel Gonzalez

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 12:00 AM

I am wondering how justification (theosis) is lost in EO theology, do we lose our holiness simply in virtue of a single malicious sin, or is it lost only after persevering in unrepented sin? Are there any patristics citations and/or conciliar documents that address this point as well?

Thanks in advance!

#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 07:06 PM

I have heard the Holy Spirit does not leave us all at once but imperceptively due to our continued sin and/o lack of confession. Kinda like two people standing in conversation and one is slowly backing towards the door to not seem rude to end the conversation but making it clear they needed to get somewhere. At least this was the image in my mind's eye.

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#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 11:29 PM

It is true that grace will not be felt whilst we are in our sins but it will come when we feel contrite. This is the message of the parable of the Prodigal son. There are also periods of spiritual dryness when we feel that God is distant from us. In most of us, this is a moderate test of our faith which God uses to give us the opportunity to manifest our freedom and fidelity to God; we persevere in prayer until the dryness is assuaged by the dew of grace if only very briefly. But there is another, deeper and more disturbing withdrawal of grace which must be met with kenotic self-hatred so deep that we learn of our utter inadequacy. Only such self-condemnation overcomes our self-centredness. Then, grace will return. But the experience of salvation corresponds to the depth of the self-emptying: as Archimandrite Zacharias once said to me, the further we go down, the higher we ascend. Two beatitudes are relevant here: 'blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' and 'blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted'. Also relevant is the word of Christ to St Silouan: 'Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not'.

For an account of all this, see, 'We shall see Him as He is' by Archimandrite Sophrony, chapter 10, 'Emptiness: Grace has Withdrawn'.

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 04:09 PM

When we sin, we "miss the mark". We fail to be what God intended us to be. We have the opportunity to turn towards or away from God, to hit or miss the mark, with each and every decision we make. The GOOD NEWS is that mistakes and misses can be corrected. We can always strive to get closer and closer to the target. "Grace" is not an on/off switch. There are things we can do that make us more or less receptive to it, but it is always there, save when God, for our edification, chooses to withdraw it for a time to teach us humility. But even then I suspect it is not absent, but merely hidden.

I recommend getting a copy of the "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers". There is so much wisdom there, much of it far beyond the capability of my little brain, but it is there nonetheless, even if some of it seems "hidden". Grace is God's to give, and ours to accept or reject, but we cannot "take" it because that would be stealing. We accept what God gives us and what He does NOT give us as well, because "all things work for good for those who love God."

None is holy, but God alone. To be "holy" means to be set apart for God. In as much as we are "for God", we are holy. In as much as we are "for the world" we are not holy, and it is not always either/or but sometimes neither/nor. Sometimes we are neither holy nor worldly and it is in these "gaps" that we must redouble our efforts to fervently seek out Christ.

Herman the quantum Pooh

#5 Ariel Gonzalez

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 11:52 PM

Thanks for the replies. I am wondering if there's an explicit mention of this (loss of justification is gradual, not immediate) in any official Orthodox sources, I am just looking to verify this for myself and for others.

#6 Paul Cowan

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 12:23 AM

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What does "official" look like to you? Sorta like the bible not saying people used the bathroom. We know they did, but it doesn't mention it anywhere. We do have oral tradition even if it was not written down by anyone.

#7 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 12:26 AM

Thanks for the replies. I am wondering if there's an explicit mention of this (loss of justification is gradual, not immediate) in any official Orthodox sources, I am just looking to verify this for myself and for others.


Probably not because sometimes it can be a gradual thing and sometimes it can be total and immediate. One size does NOT fit all situations.

#8 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 05:07 PM

Is theosis the same as justification? I had thought they were not. Likewise, since theosis is a process, how can one ever actually "have" it in order to "lose" it?

#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 04:54 PM

Is theosis the same as justification? I had thought they were not. Likewise, since theosis is a process, how can one ever actually "have" it in order to "lose" it?


Theosis is indeed not the same as justification. Justification is associated with Protestantism but in Orthodox theology is little spoken of. It can mean forgiveness of sins but not 'once and for all'. I was taught that the person cannot bear grace for long and God withdraws grace for the person's benefit. Experience of grace, which can be called theosis in the sense of being united with God, is fleeting. It can only return to a humble heart since God 'giveth grace to the humble' (1 Peter 5:5). Thus, we can 'have it' when our heart is humble but we 'lose it' when humility relaxes in the heart.

#10 Michael Commini

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 06:54 PM

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What does "official" look like to you? Sorta like the bible not saying people used the bathroom. We know they did, but it doesn't mention it anywhere. We do have oral tradition even if it was not written down by anyone.


Not that I don't get what you're saying, but the nitpicker in me needs to point out- the Bible not only mentions people use the bathroom, it gives quite detailed instructions on how to go about using the bathroom. See Deuteronomy 23:13 and 14.

As for the "official" sources the OP is looking for, my guess would be anything written by Saint x.

#11 Anna Stickles

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 08:14 PM

Just to expand a little on what Andreas has said. Theosis is not a mechanical process. It is what happens to the human being as they are united with God. The more substantial and stable the union and the greater the energy of God present, the more like God one is. But we are unstable and fluctuate in our relationship with God.

#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 08:39 PM

We have the example of St Silouan the Athonite who, despite a pure heart and the most fervent prayer, experienced long periods of the withdrawal of grace.

#13 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 05:16 PM

Not that I don't get what you're saying, but the nitpicker in me needs to point out- the Bible not only mentions people use the bathroom, it gives quite detailed instructions on how to go about using the bathroom. See Deuteronomy 23:13 and 14.


Of course, to nitpick the nitpicking, that only applies to military activities.




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