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Is living in itself the greatest service to God?


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#61 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 06:59 PM

My dictionary defines 'absolute' as complete, not limited by restrictions.

It's interesting because there is really only one truly absolute free will which is that of God. To the extent that one gets closer and closer to God's Free Will then it seems one would come to experience this absolute freedom through adoption. On the other hand, if the devil refuses to obey God's will, how much absolute free will does he have? He can't say refuse God's will and still stay in God's Kingdom, or say create out of his own will a new Universe independent from God, as God is the only source of Creation after all...

#62 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 07:31 PM

You might want to get an expanded dictionary. Sometimes words have more than one meaning based on context.

The devil ABSOLUTELY has the free will to reject/disobey God, as do we. Free will does NOT mean freedom from consequence. Are we conflating free will with omnipotence?

#63 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 07:58 PM

Perhaps we are. You are right devil has absolute free will to either reject or obey God, and so do we. But this is still relative free will, relative to God, and not independent, complete and unlimited by God's restrictions.

Also, I can imagine how one can come to a reasonable argument that man has absolute free will despite all the restrictions. However, the restriction of Time/and the question of eternity in relation to free will makes no sense to me. Because when theology speaks of the 'damned' and no possibility for repentance, I see no free will whatsoever, let alone absolute. So how does the Orthodox understanding of what Time is, influence the teaching on free will?

#64 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 08:03 PM

You might try searching the forums for the words "chronos" and "khairos"

#65 Father Stephanos

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 08:35 PM

The reason Lucifer and those angels who joined and followed him have not been given a chance for repentance is that they had freedom (absolute free will), not just self-determination before they fell.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#66 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 02:51 PM

Perhaps we are. You are right devil has absolute free will to either reject or obey God, and so do we. But this is still relative free will, relative to God, and not independent, complete and unlimited by God's restrictions.

Also, I can imagine how one can come to a reasonable argument that man has absolute free will despite all the restrictions. However, the restriction of Time/and the question of eternity in relation to free will makes no sense to me. Because when theology speaks of the 'damned' and no possibility for repentance, I see no free will whatsoever, let alone absolute. So how does the Orthodox understanding of what Time is, influence the teaching on free will?


I'm pretty sure Jan that the question becomes more clear when free will, as with the Fathers is connected to the nature of what or whoever you are referring to. In other words at least in every case I have come across in the Fathers, free will does not as in much modern discussion appear as if it is completely open ended (eg : you can do what you want; God is unlimited in what He wills, etc).

Instead then in Orthodox understanding free will is always connected to the nature of whatever it is that you are referring to. And so you have to begin with a discussion and understanding of the nature of whatever it is that you are discussing- animals, men, God.

By the way along these lines it helps to understand that God's will is definitely not unrestricted. He is not an energy ball of unlimited power but rather God, not limited by but rather completely consistent with Who He IS. And this is the difference between uncreated and created nature. The latter will often act in a way not consistent with their own nature (with what/who they really are as created by God). While God always does and only can act in complete consistency with His own nature.

Free will for what is created then, and thus for man, strives in some faint image to act as God does- in accordance with who we really are. But the distorted understanding of free will, motivated by the Fall, takes action in itself to be an exertion of free will.

There is a radical difference here that almost explains the difference between traditional and modern culture. For traditional culture is based on an order wherein man seeks to act in accordance with his created nature (ie there is a given definition to it as given by God and he seeks to act consistently with this- this is what free will consists of); while the modern definition of man is that he is defined as the expression of his will. This is what free will means in modern culture.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#67 Anna Stickles

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 03:52 PM

It seems to me that modern man has correctly understood that we are "free creatures" but then to imagine this freedom as being able to act without limitation causes us to experience any limitations as confining, ie as a lack of freedom. For the most part people complain they don't have freedom when they can't do what they want to do.

But to truly understand who we are as human beings created in the image of God, and to try to act this way, we also find that we are not free creatures, because the fall has caused in our nature a resistence to righteousness and to what is according to our nature's own created goodness. As St Paul said, I do not do what I want to do but the very things I hate I do. Therefore it is no longer I who do it but sin working in me.

Freedom then is something offered in Christ, which is never fully present in the here and now, but will only be complete in the eschaton because only then will the power of sin be completely broken. But a foretaste of freedom can be had in the here and now as Christ helps us to overcome the power of sin and we learn to live according to our true nature.

Where this really contradicts modern ideas of freedom is that our nature is to be obedient and humble, submissive etc. and yet obedience is seen as the exact opposite of being free by most, because it is seen as living according to someone else's will. But if we are freely obeying what God has put before us, including the authorities, the limitations, the realities of our fallen condition, etc, this in itself is the only true freedom we can find in this life. The biographies of those like Fr Arseny or Fr George Calciu really give a wonderful example of this.




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