Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

The Authentic meaning of "Holy Spirit is not Given outside the church."


  • Please log in to reply
28 replies to this topic

#1 Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 79 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 06:23 AM

So, lately I have been reading the writings of the Recent Fathers of the church, men like St. Theophan, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. Hilarion the New Martyr, and St. Philaret of New York.

Here is my question: How do we understand the common patristic assertion and the assertion of the saints that "The Holy Spirit is not given outside the Church." I am looking for a very full answer that is representative of the traditional Orthodox teaching, not such compromised ecclesiology as the Balamand Statement. I have read many things, but am having difficulty getting a clear grasp on the consistent and authentic meaning.

For example, St. Hilarion the New-Martyr Clearly says in his work "Christianity or the Church?" http://orthodoxinfo....ion_church.aspx

"The points of view of Saint Cyprian and Blessed Augustine can be seen to differ somewhat, but they both arrive at exactly the same conclusion: outside the Church there is no salvation! People are saved by their love which is the Grace of the New Testament. Outside the Church it is impossible to preserve love, because it is impossible to receive the Holy Spirit."

"If one examines the faith of those who believe outside the Church, it would be found that all heretics have a completely different faith; as a matter of fact they have only a wild fanaticism, blasphemy, and a decay which is fighting against holiness and truth." According to Saint Cyprian, to be outside the Church and yet remain a Christian is impossible, for to be outside the Church is to be outside Christ's camp."

Again St. THeophan the Recluse says, as quoted by Fr. Seraphim Rose : "The great Orthodox Father of the 19th century, Bishop Theophan the Recluse, writes that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given "precisely through the Sacrament of Chrismation, which was introduced by the Apostles in place of the laying on of hands" (which is the form the Sacrament takes in the Acts of the Apostles). "We all-who have been baptized and chrismated-have the gift of the Holy Spirit... even though it is not active in everyone." The Orthodox Church provides the means for making this gift active, and "there is no other path... Without the Sacrament of Chrismation, just as earlier without the laying on of hands of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit has never descended and never will descend"

So, what is the authentic and ORthodox (Not syncretistic and pseudo-ecumenical) understanding of these passages? Simply their face value? Who is their audience? Are these divine and absolute truths, and how are they to beconsistently applied to our understanding of the church?

My current thought is this: There is no salvation outside the church. This is axiomatic. However, does this mean all outside the church are DAMNED? No. If we consider what salvation IS, it is participation in life-giving sacraments, participation in Christ through self-denial and asceticism, and keeping of the commandments. However, each of these things is impossible outside the church because: 1. There is no baptism other than Orthodox baptism, therefore there are no "Christians" properly speaking other than Orthodox Christians (The name "Christian" is a condescenssion in language on the churches part to other non-orthodox "believers"). 2. There is no true asceticism, because of the general condition of sin. Without being Christian, there is no way to avoid the delusions of the flesh and the devil. Therefore, any asceticism is at best, vainglorious, and at worst, diabolical. 3. The commandments cannot be kept outside the church because, as St. Hilarion says "According to the teaching of the Apostle, all Church life is a manifestation of God's Holy Spirit; each manifestation of love, each virtue is the action of a gift of the Spirit." But without baptism an Chrismation, there are no gifts of the holy spirit, and consequently, no virtue and no way of keeping the commandments satisfactorily. This is also why there is no real ascesis.

Am I on the right track? I have gotten this all ONLY through reading the fathers and the saints. However, the antipathy that some Orhodox have toward their own Tradition makes me doubt my understanding. So, I turn to you, and especially the clergy, to know if I am out of touch,

Thank you,

Daniel

#2 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,516 posts

Posted 07 December 2012 - 08:08 AM

Daniel,

Good question but not one thats easy to answer. While Fr. Seraphim (quoting St Theophan) is on the right track, (the Holy Spirit has never descended without the laying on of hands) isnt quite true. It descended in the book of Acts in the Gentile Pentecost, which signified to the apostles that the gentiles are included in God's plan of salvation. Also after this descent of the Holy Spirit the apostles immediately baptised those that recieved the Holy Spirit, there was no need to lay hands on them. Obviously the Orthodox Church does not recognize any other historical situation where this has occurred a second time, but we do realize that God can save whomever He wants and extend his infinte mercy to whomever he wants. There is no rock he cannot lift. And this is seen in the Orthodox Church by the fact that two non-Orthodox are glorified saints, that is St Isaac the Syrian and Emperess Theodora. The Holy Spirit has revelealed to his Church that they are saints and we gladly recieved them as one of ours.

This leads to the second assertion that Christians dont exist outside the church. For the most part they dont, but occassions arise in the course of history where eikonomia is extended to the heterodox. In St. Cyprian's case he was battling heretics who set up a parallel synod as an alternative to compete with his. He had to utilise akrivieia (exactitude and be rigid) to squash this innovation.

Canon 7 of Constantinople I distinguishes between different groups of heretics. One group such as the Arians and Novations are recieved through chrismation only without the need to be (re)baptised. The other group such as the Eunomians and Montanists the canon explains, "...when they desire to turn to Orthodoxy, we recieve as heathen. ON THE FIRST DAY WE MAKE THEM CHRISTIANS, on the second catechumen, on the third we excorcise them..... and then we baptise them."

As you can see, the first group although heretics and outside the Church are nonetheless viewed as christians in some capacity. The second group are simply heathens. So eikonomia can be granted where christians are recognized in some distorted form even if apart from the Church.

Speaking to an Orthodox monk once who was a convert from Luthernanism and strictly anti-ecumenist, I posed to him a similar question; In what capacity does the Holy Spirit operate in heterodox christians outside the Church? His answer from his own personal journey, was that any sincere christian who struggles and prays will eventually be lead by the Holy Spirit to the Orthodox Church (barring any extraordinary circumstance). He further clarified that the evidence that the Holy Spirit is working within a heterodox is that usually the outcome is always that person joining the Church. This is why a heterodox can be recieved through chrismation alone, as long as the heretical baptism was done in the proper form.
Although the heterodox baptism was a graceless empty ritual, the Holy Spirit has lead that person to the Church so it can be made whole and grace-filled. The Church with its plenitude of grace will seize the empty riutal and make it Her own, correct what is lacking and make what was empty full.

#3 Lakis Papas

Lakis Papas

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 615 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:02 AM

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’


“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’


“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.'


“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

#4 Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 79 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 02:29 PM

Thanks Kosta, that helps a bit. However, from what I can tell St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite is insistent that the fathers exercise of economy regarding the acceptance of heretics in no way is an affirmation that their baptism is grace filled or efficacious. It is ecclesiastical condescension, not affirmation of Grace outside the church. What I mean by that, is not that the Holy Spirit does not move and act upon a person externally outside the church, but that grace cannot be INTERNALIZED without living an authentic spiritual life in the church. For the reasons I stated above: There is no true ascesis he could practice which would not be delusion, there are no sacraments he can partake of which are not empty shells, and the keeping of the commandments merely leads to an affirmation and condemnation of his present sickly state.

THe Orthodox are not Roman Catholics, the Church of Christ doesn't "subsist in" the Orthodox Church, it IS The Orthodox Church. Many try and quote "We know where the church is, but we cannot say where it is not." I disagree. The Church is NOT in the severed bodies of heretics and schismatics, and CERTAINLY not in the pagan cults and synagogues and mosques. We don't know how the Holy SPirit moves the hearts of INDIVIDUALS, but we know, corporately, where he is not, otherwise the fathers taught meaninglesssly.

Is this right?

#5 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 03:15 PM

St. Leo the Great wrote ""Since the Lord is no longer visible among us, everything of him that was visible has passed into the sacraments."

The sacraments do not exist outside the context of the Church. However, God is not a prisoner of our rites. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) If God chooses to act outside of the Church, who are we to say He cannot?

The Church is not going to say to those "outside": "you are just fine where you are" because there is no way for us to know this. The gift of salvation comes through the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ visible in the world. And the Church, the custodian of the Apostolic Witness, is the steward of the treasury of the Apostolic Witness, entrusted with its preservation and proclamation to the world. What can we possibly say about those who have NOT preserved that witness correctly? What fellowship can Truth have with untruth?

There are those, in the name of "nice" and "why can't we all just get along?" who try to minimize the "disagreement" and concentrate on those things we may have in common. There is some value to that, but we have to be careful that Truth is not lost or sacrificed on the altar of relativism and it does our witness no favors. Sometimes some people, even clerics, fail to maintain a proper balance. We keep our eyes on Christ and strive to be prepared at all times to defend the hope that is in us.

We cannot completely cut ourselves off from everyone else. We are still in the world and we must be gentle as doves and wise as serpents. We still strive to "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14) Sometimes we lose sight of the holiness in trying to maintain the peace, we are not quite perfected yet.

The members of the Church are still under construction
We apologize for any inconvenience
Please be patient
Your Holy Spirit at work!


Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 07 December 2012 - 06:08 PM.


#6 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,027 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 05:55 PM

How could there be converts to the Church were not the Holy Spirit active beyond it?

#7 Phoebe K.

Phoebe K.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 278 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 06:19 PM

Speaking as a convert the Holy Spirit acts outside the Church with those who are open to his action, the end result of this action is to bring the person into the in-brace of the true church.

The Holy Spirit is not contained by our understanding of Him, however he works to bring to the true faith all people so the natural result of his action outside the Church is to bring people to true faith. How else would the church have grown so much in her history and been able to counteract the lies propergated by the enemy.

Phoebe

#8 Rdr Daniel (R.)

Rdr Daniel (R.)

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Validating
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 704 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:04 PM

I think I can remember reading somewhere (maybe in Saint Cyril or Jerusalem) that the Holy Spirit works outside a person before being received into the Church and that sin or confusion or something is still at work on the inside but after baptism and chrismation the Holy Spirit come and abides within us and sin is then on the outside. At least words to that affect, I welcome correction and should anyone know where I read it please let me know.

In Christ.
Daniel,

#9 Lakis Papas

Lakis Papas

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 615 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:32 PM

According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!" (Luke 12, 49-50), the fact of coming of the Holy Spirit into the world undoubtedly is manifested as a key to our salvation. Because "fire" is the "Holy Spirit, which was poured over "in tongues of fire" during the awesome and unexplained mystery of Pentecost. This is itself the baptism in Holy Spirit of Disciples of Christ (Acts 1.5).

And this baptism is the new mode of existence of men, this new birth, whereby humans have a foretaste of their resurrection in Christ. The Baptism of the whole Church, the Pentecost (as seen through the Sacrament of Baptism of each man), is manifested as a Community, as a Synaxis of all believers in Christ (Acts 2, 1) and as the beginning of the earthly existence of the Church, as the mystery of Christ. That is, the presence of Christ in history through the Holy Spirit is manifested as a community, Eucharist, new society, the Church.

So human society, after the coming of the Holy Spirit becomes something more than a human community, a mere assemblage of people, because the Son of God (present in history by His Holy Spirit) makes human society His Body. Christ is not only Lord God and Master of the human society but He is its Head, its substance. The Son of God is no longer over, or outside the Church, but (by the Holy Spirit) He is Church, as a community of people under a certain Bishop.

The apostles and all believers are not only those who follow Him, or obey Ηis commandments, but they are embedded in Son of God through the Holy Spirit, they live in Him, or rather they constitute His living Body, the Eucharistic communion, the communion of saints, the WHOLE Christ.

Therefore "Holy Spirit is not Given outside the Church", this is like asking to be in Church without being in Christ - which is a contradiction.

The question of Mr Daniel Smith's is about the phrase "Holy Spirit is not Given outside the church". It is one thing to receive the energies of Holy Spirit and another thing to receive the Spirit. People outside of the Church it may be given energies of the Holy Spirit but not Holy Spirit Himself.

#10 Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 79 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:54 PM

Speaking as a convert the Holy Spirit acts outside the Church with those who are open to his action, the end result of this action is to bring the person into the in-brace of the true church.

The Holy Spirit is not contained by our understanding of Him, however he works to bring to the true faith all people so the natural result of his action outside the Church is to bring people to true faith. How else would the church have grown so much in her history and been able to counteract the lies propergated by the enemy.

Phoebe


Please do not misunderstand me, I do not mean that the Holy Spirit does not function outside the walls of the church. What I mean is that the Holy Spirit only works on a person externally who is outside the church, not internally. They do not receive divine grace within the soul, but they are inspired by it to come to Orthodoxy.

Lakis, your theory is interesting but does not sound patristic. Are there fathers who taught what you did? You seem to equate human society as a whole with the church, and this is just plain false. I was wondering if you could elaborate on your meaning, because it sounds rather ephemeral and new-agey to me. I think it would be a mistake to shroud an apparent truth in formulas that rob it of its power.

For example, to be perfectly Liturgical in the Theological approach, consider the service to St. Hilarion the New-Martyr:

"O Hilarion, warrior of Christ, glory and boast of the Church of Russia, thou didst confess Christ before the perishing world, hast made the Church steadfast by thy blood, and having acquired divine understanding, hast proclaimed unto the faithful: Without the Church there is no salvation!" Twice

#11 Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 79 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:11 AM

I think I can remember reading somewhere (maybe in Saint Cyril or Jerusalem) that the Holy Spirit works outside a person before being received into the Church and that sin or confusion or something is still at work on the inside but after baptism and chrismation the Holy Spirit come and abides within us and sin is then on the outside. At least words to that affect, I welcome correction and should anyone know where I read it please let me know.

In Christ.
Daniel,


It was St. Diadochus of Photiki

"Before holy Baptism, grace encourages the soul from the outside, while Satan lurks in its depths, trying to block all the noetic faculty's ways of approaching the Divine. But from the moment that we are reborn through Baptism, the demon is outside, grace is within. Thus whereas before Baptism error ruled the soul, after Baptism truth rules it. Nevertheless, even after Baptism Satan (can) still act upon the soul...."

#12 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,027 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:23 AM

Given that the 'essence-energies' distinction is fundamental to Orthodox dogmatic theology, the penultimate sentence, in bold, in post #9 requires correction. Grace is the action of the energies of God within creation by the Holy Spirit which is why we pray, 'Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things'. The actions of the energies of God through the Holy Spirit in creation involve both general and special activities in relation particularly to mankind. Theosis is by the energies of the Holy Spirit but the essence of God remains unknown to us.

Edited by Andreas Moran, 08 December 2012 - 12:57 AM.


#13 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,027 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:18 AM

Daniel Smith wrote of post #9: Lakis, your theory is interesting but does not sound patristic. Are there fathers who taught what you did? You seem to equate human society as a whole with the church, and this is just plain false. I was wondering if you could elaborate on your meaning, because it sounds rather ephemeral and new-agey to me.


Lakis can answer for himself but I take it that what is meant is the general mission in the world of the Holy Spirit, and this is entirely patristic. See generally On the Incarnation of the Word by St Athanasius.

#14 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,516 posts

Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:26 AM

Thanks Kosta, that helps a bit. However, from what I can tell St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite is insistent that the fathers exercise of economy regarding the acceptance of heretics in no way is an affirmation that their baptism is grace filled or efficacious. It is ecclesiastical condescension, not affirmation of Grace outside the church. What I mean by that, is not that the Holy Spirit does not move and act upon a person externally outside the church, but that grace cannot be INTERNALIZED without living an authentic spiritual life in the church.


Is this right?


This is what i said. The two principal modes of eikonomia extended for the reception of converts in no way asserts that their 'empty shells' are either grace filled or efficacious. Its simply not the issue eikonomia addresses. The criteria for whether an individual is elgible to be recieved into the Church without Baptism is measured by their former sect's proximity in conducting and understanding the external form of the ritual. That is whether their empty baptismal rite mimics triple immersion in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit along with their proximity in understanding the Trinity of the Nicene Creed.

The Holy Spirit may lead a sincere heterodox christian to the Church to make their previous empty ritual whole and complete, and only upon reception into the Body and not one second before, does the previous ritual become sacramental and gracefilled. This is 'usually' how th Holy Spirit will work outside the Church, by leading the individual into it and making what was illegitimate legitimate. This is spelled out clearly in the canons, "Those who from HERESY turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being SAVED, we recieve according to the following method and custom..."

Now if the Holy Spirt wills in His infinite Mercy to pour His Grace and save someone by other means, He can and will. It does not mean we recognize anything in a specific sect, for "Not a bone of His was broken", there are no sections or fragments in the Body of Christ, it is not fractured. Only that the plenitude of Grace within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has been extended to outside its visible boundaries allowing those severed by no will of their own to partake of its benefits.

#15 Lakis Papas

Lakis Papas

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 615 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:29 PM

Given that the 'essence-energies' distinction is fundamental to Orthodox dogmatic theology, the penultimate sentence, in bold, in post #9 requires correction. Grace is the action of the energies of God within creation by the Holy Spirit which is why we pray, 'Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things'. The actions of the energies of God through the Holy Spirit in creation involve both general and special activities in relation particularly to mankind. Theosis is by the energies of the Holy Spirit but the essence of God remains unknown to us.


Certainly I agree with your point, Rdr Andreas Moran.

My phrase "and another thing to receive the Spirit" must be understood in the sense used in the following verses:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:16-17)

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:21-23)

Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (Acts 10:47-48)

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39)

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (Ephesians 5:18)

#16 Lakis Papas

Lakis Papas

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 615 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 December 2012 - 10:23 PM

Lakis, your theory is interesting but does not sound patristic. Are there fathers who taught what you did? You seem to equate human society as a whole with the church, and this is just plain false. I was wondering if you could elaborate on your meaning, because it sounds rather ephemeral and new-agey to me. I think it would be a mistake to shroud an apparent truth in formulas that rob it of its power.

For example, to be perfectly Liturgical in the Theological approach, consider the service to St. Hilarion the New-Martyr:

"O Hilarion, warrior of Christ, glory and boast of the Church of Russia, thou didst confess Christ before the perishing world, hast made the Church steadfast by thy blood, and having acquired divine understanding, hast proclaimed unto the faithful: Without the Church there is no salvation!" Twice


In each liturgy, which is the summary of the mystery of salvation, the prayers begin: "For peace of the whole world...", to culminate by saying: "We offer to You these gifts from Your own gifts in all and for all."

What started as a small community in Gallilaia is committed to flood the entire Earth. Christ may be a "stranger" for the world (Byzantine chant - Great and Holy Friday: "Give me this Stranger, Who from His youth hath been received as a stranger in this world") but this "stranger" has said to His disciples: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. " (Matthew 28:19-20) - (St. Hilarion's case is no different from apostles')

When thinking about Orthodoxy in next centuries, we should delimit our vision according to phrase "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8). Perhaps, today the dechristianization of the world is preventing us from seeing that the entire orthodox life moves in line with the common vision of a society (of all nations) like the requested one in the prayer of the Lord: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven." Not just "in me", or "in us", but "everywhere on the earth" - as St John points in the following passage. Before we pray for "daily bread", we are asking to be positioned inside a universal common horizon where we envision the anticipated Christian society.

ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM: HOMILY 19 ON ST. MATTHEW: On the Lord's Prayer (http://www.voskrese..../matthom19.html)

"Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven." [Matt. 6:10]

Behold a most excellent train of thought! in that He bade us indeed long for the things to come, and hasten towards that sojourn; and, till that may be, even while we abide here, so long to be earnest in showing forth the same conversation as those above. For ye must long, saith He, for heaven, and the things in heaven; however, even before heaven, He hath bidden us make the earth a heaven and do and say all things, even while we are continuing in it, as having our conversation there; insomuch that these too should be objects of our prayer to the Lord. For there is nothing to hinder our reaching the perfection of the powers above, because we inhabit the earth; but it is possible even while abiding here, to do all, as though already placed on high. What He saith therefore is this: "As there all things are done without hindrance, and the angels are not partly obedient and partly disobedient, but in all things yield and obey (for He saith," Mighty in strength, performing His word ") ; so vouchsafe that we men may not do Thy will by halves, but perform all things as Thou willest. "

Seest thou how He hath taught us also to be modest, by making it clear that virtue is not of our endeavors only, but also of the grace from above? And again, He hath enjoined each one of us, who pray, to take upon himself the care of the whole world. For He did not at all say, "Thy will be done" in me, or in us, but everywhere on the earth; so that error may be destroyed, and truth implanted, and all wickedness cast out, and virtue return, and no difference in this respect be henceforth between heaven and earth. "For if this come to pass," saith He, "there will be no difference between things below and above, separated as they are in nature; the earth exhibiting to us another set of angels."



#17 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,027 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 09 December 2012 - 12:14 AM

In post #15, the verses do, of course, refer to the grace of the Holy Spirit.

#18 Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 79 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:04 AM

In each liturgy, which is the summary of the mystery of salvation, the prayers begin: "For peace of the whole world...", to culminate by saying: "We offer to You these gifts from Your own gifts in all and for all."

What started as a small community in Gallilaia is committed to flood the entire Earth. Christ may be a "stranger" for the world (Byzantine chant - Great and Holy Friday: "Give me this Stranger, Who from His youth hath been received as a stranger in this world") but this "stranger" has said to His disciples: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. " (Matthew 28:19-20) - (St. Hilarion's case is no different from apostles')

When thinking about Orthodoxy in next centuries, we should delimit our vision according to phrase "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8). Perhaps, today the dechristianization of the world is preventing us from seeing that the entire orthodox life moves in line with the common vision of a society (of all nations) like the requested one in the prayer of the Lord: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven." Not just "in me", or "in us", but "everywhere on the earth" - as St John points in the following passage. Before we pray for "daily bread", we are asking to be positioned inside a universal common horizon where we envision the anticipated Christian society.

ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM: HOMILY 19 ON ST. MATTHEW: On the Lord's Prayer (http://www.voskrese..../matthom19.html)


So, basically, what you are saying is that we need to keep in consideration the fact that the Holy Spirit wills to transofrm all of society into the body of Christ? That I agree with, that is the role of the church. But, I wonder how it adresses my question? What is the relation between that and the common patristic claim that the Holy Spirit does not descend and is not given outside the church? IN fact, I think I need to be explicit here:

My understanding is that the Holy Spirit will not descend into the heart of someone outside the church and enable them to partake of the deifying energies of the Trinity, thus transforming them into the image of Christ, not because he is BOUND by us, but because he does not will it. He will offer inspiration, he will offer enlightenment, he will act upon a man so that he may desire to enter into the true church of Christ, but God himself cannot force a free gift.

The gift of his grace is one that must be received freely, but how can those outside receive a gift they do not know exists? What ascesis will they offer that is not a spiritual deception? What commandments will they keep without being empowered by the sacraments? What waters will wash them that are not polluted outside the church?

I understand that they will be judged differently if they are invincibly ignorant, and i can accept that. But I think that we should not imagine that living in such a predicament is easy, or that even very many in this situation have any real chance of attaining to salvation, due to our penchant for self-deception and delusion.

I desire more than anything to preserve, protect and defend the unique unity the catholic church of Christ posseses, the Orthodox Church. I know I may sound a bit zealous, and I am fine with that. But zeal without knowledge does not interest me, that is why I am wondering if I am off in my understanding. I am trying to paint the clearest, most consistent, yet realistic picture I can here without resorting to either scholasticism or over-wrought "mysticism", which basically seems to veil the truth in flowery notions and rob the truth of its meaning.

#19 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,027 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 09 December 2012 - 08:53 AM

Daniel Smith wrote: The gift of his grace is one that must be received freely, but how can those outside receive a gift they do not know exists? What ascesis will they offer that is not a spiritual deception? What commandments will they keep without being empowered by the sacraments? What waters will wash them that are not polluted outside the church?


There are those outside the Church who may be saved because they act in accordance with God’s commandments because of their conscience but they are not drawn into the Church by the Holy Spirit:

For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another - Romans 2:13-15


There are yet those who seek God though they may not know the nature of the gift they seek. A man outside the Church may seek God, and the Holy Spirit will act upon him when He sees the slightest authentic humility (which is not a deception). The initial gift bestowed on such a one is faith and the grace to seek further and to find those who will guide him. The Holy Spirit then leads him to the Church where He will thenceforth act within him. But at no stage does God compel.

#20 Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 79 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:50 AM

I agree Rdr Andreas. Sometimes though, I think we are tempted to believe the execption is the rule. Perhaps I should mention I am coming from a Roman Catholic background, one that has essentially cheapened salvation by allowing for anyone who is "sincere" to be saved. I am sure you know the erroneous nature of the ecclesiology that admits of an invisible church somehow mysteriously larger than the church itself (invisible church theory/Twolungs theory/The Church of Christ "subsists" in the Roman Church, etc.). Being in the process of converting, I am trying to get a firm grip on the authentic Orthodox understanding of the church's unity. I know many latin-minded orthodox who have basically adopted a Roman ecclesiology, and I am trying to avoid that pitfall without going to the other extreme. Seems like the Russians and other slavic orthodox state things like the churches limits pretty clearly, but it's harder to find greek theologians and modern fathers who do.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users