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Luther and Erasmus: The Controversy Concerning the Bondage of the Will
Protestant Reformed Theological Journal ^ | April 1999 | Garrett J. Eriks

Posted on 01/01/2006 4:48:03 PM PST by HarleyD

Introduction

At the time of the Reformation, many hoped Martin Luther and Erasmus could unite against the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther himself was tempted to unite with Erasmus because Erasmus was a great Renaissance scholar who studied the classics and the Greek New Testament. Examining the Roman Catholic Church, Erasmus was infuriated with the abuses in the Roman Catholic Church, especially those of the clergy. These abuses are vividly described in the satire of his book, The Praise of Folly. Erasmus called for reform in the Roman Catholic Church. Erasmus could have been a great help to the Reformation, so it seemed, by using the Renaissance in the service of the Reformation.

But a great chasm separated these two men. Luther loved the truth of God's Word as that was revealed to him through his own struggles with the assurance of salvation. Therefore Luther wanted true reformation in the church, which would be a reformation in doctrine and practice. Erasmus cared little about a right knowledge of truth. He simply wanted moral reform in the Roman Catholic Church. He did not want to leave the church, but remained supportive of the Pope.

This fundamental difference points out another difference between the two men. Martin Luther was bound by the Word of God. Therefore the content of the Scripture was of utmost importance to him. But Erasmus did not hold to this same high view of Scripture. Erasmus was a Renaissance rationalist who placed reason above Scripture. Therefore the truth of Scripture was not that important to him.

The two men could not have fellowship with each other, for the two movements which they represented were antithetical to each other. The fundamental differences came out especially in the debate over the freedom of the will.

From 1517 on, the chasm between Luther and Erasmus grew. The more Luther learned about Erasmus, the less he wanted anything to do with him. Melanchthon tried to play the mediator between Luther and Erasmus with no success. But many hated Erasmus because he was so outspoken against the church. These haters of Erasmus tried to discredit him by associating him with Luther, who was outside the church by this time. Erasmus continued to deny this unity, saying he did not know much about the writings of Luther. But as Luther took a stronger stand against the doctrinal abuses of Rome, Erasmus was forced either to agree with Luther or to dissociate himself from Luther. Erasmus chose the latter.

Many factors came together which finally caused Erasmus to wield his pen against Luther. Erasmus was under constant pressure from the Pope and later the king of England to refute the views of Luther. When Luther became more outspoken against Erasmus, Erasmus finally decided to write against him. On September 1, 1524, Erasmus published his treatise On the Freedom of the Will. In December of 1525, Luther responded with The Bondage of the Will.

Packer and Johnston call The Bondage of the Will "the greatest piece of theological writing that ever came from Luther's pen."1 Although Erasmus writes with eloquence, his writing cannot compare with that of Luther the theologian. Erasmus writes as one who cares little about the subject, while Luther writes with passion and conviction, giving glory to God. In his work, Luther defends the heart of the gospel over against the Pelagian error as defended by Erasmus. This controversy is of utmost importance.

In this paper, I will summarize both sides of the controversy, looking at what each taught and defended. Secondly, I will examine the biblical approach of each man. Finally, the main issues will be pointed out and the implications of the controversy will be drawn out for the church today.

Erasmus On the Freedom of the Will

Erasmus defines free-will or free choice as "a power of the human will by which a man can apply himself to the things which lead to eternal salvation or turn away from them." By this, Erasmus means that man has voluntary or free power of himself to choose the way which leads to salvation apart from the grace of God.

Erasmus attempts to answer the question how man is saved: Is it the work of God or the work of man according to his free will? Erasmus answers that it is not one or the other. Salvation does not have to be one or the other, for God and man cooperate. On the one hand, Erasmus defines free-will, saying man can choose freely by himself, but on the other hand, he wants to retain the necessity of grace for salvation. Those who do good works by free-will do not attain the end they desire unless aided by God's grace. Therefore, in regard to salvation, man cooperates with God. Both must play their part in order for a man to be saved. Erasmus expresses it this way: "Those who support free choice nonetheless admit that a soul which is obstinate in evil cannot be softened into true repentance without the help of heavenly grace." Also, attributing all things to divine grace, Erasmus states,

And the upshot of it is that we should not arrogate anything to ourselves but attribute all things we have received to divine grace … that our will might be synergos (fellow-worker) with grace although grace is itself sufficient for all things and has no need of the assistance of any human will."

In his work On the Freedom of the Will, Erasmus defends this synergistic view of salvation. According to Erasmus, God and man, nature and grace, cooperate together in the salvation of a man. With this view of salvation, Erasmus tries to steer clear of outright Pelagianism and denies the necessity of human action which Martin Luther defends.

On the basis of an apocryphal passage (Ecclesiasticas 15:14-17), Erasmus begins his defense with the origin of free-will. Erasmus says that Adam, as he was created, had a free-will to choose good or to turn to evil. In Paradise, man's will was free and upright to choose. Adam did not depend upon the grace of God, but chose to do all things voluntarily. The question which follows is, "What happened to the will when Adam sinned; does man still retain this free-will?" Erasmus would answer, "Yes." Erasmus says that the will is born out of a man's reason. In the fall, man's reason was obscured but was not extinguished. Therefore the will, by which we choose, is depraved so that it cannot change its ways. The will serves sin. But this is qualified. Man's ability to choose freely or voluntarily is not hindered.

By this depravity of the will, Erasmus does not mean that man can do no good. Because of the fall, the will is "inclined" to evil, but can still do good. Notice, he says the will is only "inclined" to evil. Therefore the will can freely or voluntarily choose between good and evil. This is what he says in his definition: free-will is "a power of the human will by which a man can apply himself to the things which lead to eternal salvation." Not only does the human will have power, although a little power, but the will has power by which a man merits salvation.

This free choice of man is necessary according to Erasmus in order for there to be sin. In order for a man to be guilty of sin, he must be able to know the difference between good and evil, and he must be able to choose between doing good and doing evil. A man is responsible only if he has the ability to choose good or evil. If the free-will of man is taken away, Erasmus says that man ceases to be a man.

For this freedom of the will, Erasmus claims to find much support in Scripture. According to Erasmus, when Scripture speaks of "choosing," it implies that man can freely choose. Also, whenever the Scripture uses commands, threats, exhortations, blessings, and cursings, it follows that man is capable of choosing whether or not he will obey.

Erasmus defines the work of man's will by which he can freely choose after the fall. Here he makes distinctions in his idea of a "threefold kind of law" which is made up of the "law of nature, law of works, and law of faith." First, this law of nature is in all men. By this law of nature, men do good by doing to others what they would want others to do to them. Having this law of nature, all men have a knowledge of God. By this law of nature, the will can choose good, but the will in this condition is useless for salvation. Therefore more is needed. The law of works is man's choice when he hears the threats of punishment which God gives. When a man hears these threats, he either continues to forsake God, or he desires God's grace. When a man desires God's grace, he then receives the law of faith which cures the sinful inclinations of his reason. A man has this law of faith only by divine grace.

In connection with this threefold kind of law, Erasmus distinguishes between three graces of God. First, in all men, even in those who remain in sin, a grace is implanted by God. But this grace is infected by sin. This grace arouses men by a certain knowledge of God to seek Him. The second grace is peculiar grace which arouses the sinner to repent. This does not involve the abolishing of sin or justification. But rather, a man becomes "a candidate for the highest grace." By this grace offered to all men, God invites all, and the sinner must come desiring God's grace. This grace helps the will to desire God. The final grace is the concluding grace which completes what was started. This is saving grace only for those who come by their free-will. Man begins on the path to salvation, after which God completes what man started. Along with man's natural abilities according to his will, God works by His grace. This is the synergos, or cooperation, which Erasmus defends.

Erasmus defends the free-will of man with a view to meriting salvation. This brings us to the heart of the matter. Erasmus begins with the premise that a man merits salvation. In order for a man to merit salvation, he cannot be completely carried by God, but he must have a free-will by which he chooses God voluntarily. Therefore, Erasmus concludes that by the exercise of his free-will, man merits salvation with God. When man obeys, God imputes this to his merit. Therefore Erasmus says, "This surely goes to show that it is not wrong to say that man does something…." Concerning the merit of man's works, Erasmus distinguishes with the Scholastics between congruent and condign merit. The former is that which a man performs by his own strength, making him a "fit subject for the gift of internal grace." This work of man removed the barrier which keeps God from giving grace. The barrier removed is man's unworthiness for grace, which God gives only to those who are fit for it. With the gift of grace, man can do works which before he could not do. God rewards these gifts with salvation. Therefore, with the help or aid of the grace of God, a man merits eternal salvation.

Although he says a man merits salvation, Erasmus wants to say that salvation is by God's grace. In order to hold both the free-will of man and the grace of God in salvation, Erasmus tries to show the two are not opposed to each other. He says, "It is not wrong to say that man does something yet attributes the sum of all he does to God as the author." Explaining the relationship between grace and free-will, Erasmus says that the grace of God and the free-will of man, as two causes, come together in one action "in such a way, however, that grace is the principle cause and the will secondary, which can do nothing apart from the principle cause since the principle is sufficient in itself." Therefore, in regard to salvation, God and man work together. Man has a free-will, but this will cannot attain salvation of itself. The will needs a boost from grace in order to merit eternal life.

Erasmus uses many pictures to describe the relationship between works and grace. He calls grace an "advisor," "helper," and "architect." Just as the builder of a house needs the architect to show him what to do and to set him straight when he does something wrong, so also man needs the assistance of God to help him where he is lacking. The free-will of man is aided by a necessary helper: grace. Therefore Erasmus says, "as we show a boy an apple and he runs for it ... so God knocks at our soul with His grace and we willingly embrace it." In this example, we are like a boy who cannot walk. The boy wants the apple, but he needs his father to assist him in obtaining the apple. So also, we need the assistance of God's grace. Man has a free-will by which he can seek after God, but this is not enough for him to merit salvation. By embracing God's grace with his free-will, man merits God's grace so that by his free-will and the help of God's grace he merits eternal life. This is a summary of what Erasmus defends.

Erasmus also deals with the relationship of God's foreknowledge and man's free-will. On the one hand, God does what he wills, but, on the other hand, God's will does not impose anything on man's will, for then man's will would not be free or voluntary. Therefore God's foreknowledge is not determinative, but He simply knows what man will choose. Men deserve punishment from eternity simply because God knows they will not choose the good, but will choose the evil. Man can resist the ordained will of God. The only thing man cannot resist is when God wills in miracles. When God performs some "supernatural" work, this cannot be resisted by men. For example, when Jesus performed a miracle, the man whose sight returned could not refuse to be healed. According to Erasmus, because man's will is free, God's will and foreknowledge depend on man's will except when He performs miracles.

This is a summary of what Erasmus taught in his treatise On the Freedom of the Will. In response to this treatise, Luther wrote The Bondage of the Will. We turn to this book of Luther.

Luther's Arguments Against Erasmus

Martin Luther gives a thorough defense of the sovereign grace of God over against the "semi-Pelagianism" of Erasmus by going through much of Erasmus' On the Freedom of the Will phrase by phrase. Against the cooperating work of salvation defended by Erasmus, Luther attacks Erasmus at the very heart of the issue. Luther's thesis is that "free-will is a nonentity, a thing consisting of name alone" because man is a slave to sin. Therefore salvation is the sovereign work of God alone.

In the "Diatribe," Luther says, Erasmus makes no sense. It seems Erasmus speaks out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand, he says that man's will cannot will any good, yet on the other hand, he says man has a free-will. Other contradictions also exist in Erasmus' thought. Erasmus says that man has the power to choose good, but he also says that man needs grace to do good. Opposing Erasmus, Luther rightly points out that if there is free-will, there is no need for grace. Because of these contradictions in Erasmus, Luther says Erasmus "argues like a man drunk or asleep, blurting out between snores, 'Yes,' 'No.' " Not only does this view of Erasmus not make sense, but this is not what Scripture says concerning the will of man and the grace of God.

According to Luther, Erasmus does not prove his point, namely, the idea that man with his free-will cooperates in salvation with God. Throughout his work, Luther shows that Erasmus supports and agrees with the Pelagians. In fact, Erasmus' view is more despicable than Pelagianism because he is not honest and because the grace of God is cheapened. Only a small work is needed in order for a man to merit the grace of God.

Because Erasmus does not take up the question of what man can actually do of himself as fallen in Adam, Luther takes up the question of the ability of man. Here, Luther comes to the heart of his critique of the Diatribe in which he denies free-will and shows that God must be and is sovereign in salvation. Luther's arguments follow two lines: first, he shows that man is enslaved to sin and does not have a free-will; secondly, he shows that the truth of God's sovereign rule, by which He accomplishes His will according to His counsel, is opposed to free-will.

First, Luther successfully defends the thesis that there is no such entity as free-will because the will is enslaved to sin. Luther often says there is no such thing as free-will. The will of man without the grace of God "is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bondslave of evil since it cannot turn itself to good." The free-will lost its freedom in the fall so that now the will is a slave to sin. This means the will can will no good. Therefore man does and wills sin "necessarily." Luther further describes the condition of man's will when he explains a passage from Ezekiel: "It cannot but fall into a worse condition, and add to its sins despair and impenitence unless God comes straightway to its help and calls it back and raises it up by the word of His promise."

Luther makes a crucial distinction in explaining what he means when he says man sins "necessarily." This does not mean "compulsion." A man without the Spirit is not forced, kicking and screaming, to sin but voluntarily does evil. Nevertheless, because man is enslaved to sin, his will cannot change itself. He only wills or chooses to sin of himself. He cannot change this willingness of his: he wills and desires evil. Man is wholly evil, thinking nothing but evil thoughts. Therefore there is no free-will.

Because this is the condition of man, he cannot merit eternal life. The enslaved will cannot merit anything with God because it can do no good. The only thing which man deserves is eternal punishment. By this, Luther also shows that there is no free-will.

In connection with man's merit, Luther describes the true biblical uses of the law. The purpose of the law of God is not to show men how they can merit salvation, but the law is given so that men might see their sinfulness and their own unworthiness. The law condemns the works of man, for when he judges himself according to the law, man sees that he can do no good. Therefore, he is driven to the cross. The law also serves as a guide for what the believer should do. But the law does not say anything about the ability of man to obey it.

Not only should the idea of free-will be rejected because man is enslaved to sin, but also because of who God is and the relationship between God and man. A man cannot act independently of God. Analyzing what Erasmus said, Luther says that God is not God, but He is an idol, because the freedom of man rules. Everything depends on man for salvation. Therefore man can merit salvation apart from God. A God that depends on man is not God.

Denying this horrible view of Erasmus, Luther proclaims the sovereignty of God in salvation. Because God is sovereign in all things and especially in salvation, there is no free-will.

Luther begins with the fact that God alone has a free-will. This means only God can will or not will the law, gospel, sin, and death. God does not act out of necessity, but freely. He alone is independent in all He decrees and does. Therefore man cannot have a free-will by which he acts independently of God, because God is immutable, omnipotent, and sovereign over all. Luther says that God is omnipotent, knowing all. Therefore we do nothing of ourselves. We can only act according to God's infallible, immutable counsel.

The great error of free-willism is that it ascribes divinity to man's free-will. God is not God anymore. If man has a free-will, this implies God is not omnipotent, controlling all of our actions. Free-will also implies that God makes mistakes and changes. Man must then fix the mistakes. Over against this, Luther says there can be no free-will because we are under the "mastery of God." We can do nothing apart from God by our own strength because we are enslaved to sin.

Luther also understands the difficulties which follow from saying that God is sovereign so that all things happen necessarily. Luther states: "If God foreknows a thing, it necessarily happens." The problem between God's foreknowledge and man's freedom cannot be completely solved. God sovereignly decrees all things that happen, and they happen as He has decreed them necessarily. Does this mean that when a man sins, he sins because God has decreed that sin? Luther would answer, Yes. But God does not act contrary to what man is. Man cannot will good, but he only seeks after sinful lusts. The nature of man is corrupted, so that he is turned from God. But God works in men and in Satan according to what they are. The sinner is still under the control of the omnipotent God, "which means, since they are evil and perverted themselves, that when they are impelled to action by this movement of Divine omnipotence they do only that which is perverted or evil." When God works in evil men, evil results. But God is not evil. He is good. He does not do evil, but He uses evil instruments. The sin is the fault of those evil instruments and not the fault of God.

Luther asks himself the question, Why then did God let Adam fall so all men have his sin? The sovereignty of God must not be questioned, because God's will is beyond any earthly standard. Nothing is equal to God and His will. Answering the question above, Luther replies, "What God wills is not right because He ought or was bound, so to will, on the contrary, what takes place must be right because He so wills it." This is the hidden mystery of God's absolute sovereignty over all things.

God is sovereign over all things. He is sovereign in salvation. Is salvation a work of God and man? Luther answers negatively. God alone saves. Therefore salvation cannot be based on the merits of men's works. Man's obedience does not obtain salvation, according to Luther. Some become the sons of God "not by carnal birth, nor by zeal for the law, nor by any other human effort, but only by being born of God." Grace does not come by our own effort, but by the grace of Jesus Christ. To deny grace is to deny Jesus Christ. For Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Free-will says that it is the way, the truth, and the life. Therefore free-will denies Jesus Christ. This is a serious error.

God saves by His grace and Spirit in such away that the will is turned by Him. Only when the will is changed can it will and desire the good. Luther describes a struggle between God and Satan. Erasmus says man stands between God and Satan, who are as spectators waiting for man to make his choice. But Luther compares this struggle to a horse having two riders. "If God rides, it wills and goes where God goes…. If Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan goes." The horse does not have the choice of which rider it wants. We have Satan riding us until God throws him off. In the same way, we are enslaved to sin until God breaks the power of sin. The salvation of a man depends upon the free work of God, who alone is sovereign and able to save men. Therefore this work in the will by God is a radical change whereby the willing of the soul is freed from sin. This beautiful truth stands over against Erasmus' grace, which gives man a booster shot in what he can do of himself.

This truth of the sovereignty of God in salvation is comforting to us. When man trusts in himself, he has no comfort that he is saved. Because man is enslaved to sin and because God is the sovereign, controlling all things according to His sovereign, immutable will, there is no free-will. The free-will of man does not save him. God alone saves.

The Battle of the Biblical Texts

The battle begins with the fundamental difference separating Luther and Erasmus in regard to the doctrine of Scripture. Erasmus defends the obscurity of Scripture. Basically, Erasmus says man cannot know with certainty many of the things in Scripture. Some things in God's Word are plain, while many are not. He applies the obscurity of Scripture to the controversy concerning the freedom of the will. In the camp of the hidden things of God, which include the hour of our death and when the last judgment will occur, Erasmus places "whether our will accomplishes anything in things pertaining to salvation." Because Scripture is unclear about these things, what one believes about these matters is not important. Erasmus did not want controversy, but he wanted peace. For him, the discussion of the hidden things is worthless because it causes the church to lose her love and unity.

Against this idea of the obscurity of Scripture, Luther defends the perspicuity of Scripture. Luther defines perspicuity as being twofold. The external word itself is clear, as that which God has written for His people. But man cannot understand this word of himself. Therefore Scripture is clear to God's people only by the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

The authority of Scripture is found in God Himself. God's Word must not be measured by man, for this leads to paradoxes, of which Erasmus is a case in point. By saying Scripture is paradoxical, Erasmus denies the authority of God's Word.

Luther does not deny that some passages are difficult to understand. This is not because the Word is unclear or because the work of the Holy Spirit is weak. Rather, we do not understand some passages because of our own weakness.

If Scripture is obscure, then this opposes what God is doing in revelation. Scripture is light which reveals the truth. If it is obscure, then why did God give it to us? According to Luther, not even the difficult to understand doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the unpardonable sin are obscure. Therefore the issue of the freedom of the will is not obscure. If the Scripture is unclear about the doctrine of the will of man, then this doctrine is not from Scripture.

Because Scripture is clear, Luther strongly attacks Erasmus on this fundamental point. Luther says, "The Scriptures are perfectly clear in their teaching, and that by their help such a defense of our position may be made that our adversaries cannot resist." This is what Luther hoped to show to Erasmus. The teaching of Scripture is fundamental. On this point of perspicuity, Luther has Erasmus by the horns. Erasmus says Scripture is not clear on this matter of the freedom of the will, yet he appeals to the church fathers for support. The church fathers base their doctrine of the free-will on Scripture. On the basis of the perspicuity of Scripture, Luther challenges Erasmus to find even one passage that supports his view of free-will. Luther emphasizes that not one can be found.

Luther also attacks Erasmus when he says what one believes concerning the freedom of the will does not matter. Luther sums up Erasmus' position this way: "In a word, what you say comes to this: that you do not think it matters a scrap what any one believes anywhere, as long as the world is at peace." Erasmus says the knowledge of free-will is useless and non-essential. Over against this, Luther says, "then neither God, Christ, Gospel, faith, nor anything else even of Judaism, let alone Christianity, is left!" Positively, Luther says about the importance of the truth: "I hold that a solemn and vital truth, of eternal consequences, is at stake in the discussion." Luther was willing to defend the truth even to death because of its importance as that which is taught in Scripture.

A word must also be said about the differing views of the interpretation of Scripture. Erasmus was not an exegete. He was a great scholar of the languages, but this did not make him an able exegete. Erasmus does not rely on the Word of God of itself, but he turns to the church fathers and to reason for the interpretation of Scripture. In regard to the passage out of Ecclesiasticas which Erasmus uses, Luther says the dispute there is not over the teaching of Scripture, but over human reason. Erasmus generalizes from a particular case, saying that since a passage mentions willing, this must mean a man has a free-will. In this regard, Luther also says that Erasmus "fashions and refashions the words of God as he pleases." Erasmus was concerned not with what God says in His Word, but with what he wanted God to say.

Not only does Erasmus use his own reason to interpret Scripture, but following in the Roman Catholic tradition he goes back to the church fathers. His work is filled with many quotes from the church fathers' interpretation of different passages. The idea is that the church alone has the authority to interpret Scripture. Erasmus goes so far in this that Luther accuses Erasmus of placing the fathers above the inspired apostle Paul.

In contrast to Erasmus, Luther interprets Scripture with Scripture. Seeing the Word of God as inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luther also trusts in the work of the Holy Spirit to interpret that Word. One of the fundamental points of Reformed hermeneutics is that Scripture interprets Scripture. Luther follows this. When Luther deals with a passage, he does not take it out of context as Erasmus does. Instead, he examines the context and checks other passages which use the same words.

Also, Luther does not add figures or devise implications as Erasmus does. But rather, Luther sticks to the simple and plain meaning of Scripture. He says, "Everywhere we should stick to just the simple, natural meaning of the words, as yielded by the rules of grammar and the habits of speech that God has created among men." In the controversy over the bondage of the will, both the formal and material principles of the Reformation were at stake.

Now we must examine some of the important passages for each man. This is a difficult task because they both refer to so many passages. We must content ourselves with looking at those which are fundamental for the main points of the controversy.

Showing the weakness of his view of Scripture, Erasmus begins with a passage from an apocryphal book: Ecclesiasticas 15:14-17. Erasmus uses this passage to show the origin of the free will and that the will continues to be free after the fall.

Following this passage, Erasmus looks at many passages from the Old Testament to prove that man has a free-will. He turns to Genesis 4:6, 7, which records God speaking to Cain after he offered his displeasing sacrifice to God. Verse 7 says, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." Erasmus says that God sets before Cain a reward if he chooses the good. But if he chooses the evil, he will be punished. This implies that Cain has a will which can overcome evil and do the good.

From here, Erasmus looks at different passages using the word "choose." He says Scripture uses the word "choose" because man can freely choose. This is the only way it makes sense.

Erasmus also looks at many passages which use the word "if" in the Old Testament and also the commands of the Old Testament. For example, Isaiah 1:19,20 and 21:12 use the words "if … then." These conditions in Scripture imply that a man can do these things. Deuteronomy 30:14 is an example of a command. In this passage, Israel is commanded to love God with all their heart and soul. This command was given because Moses and the people had it in them to obey. Erasmus comes to these conclusions by implication.

Using a plethora of New Testament texts, Erasmus tries to support the idea of the freedom of the will. Once again, Erasmus appeals to those texts which speak of conditions. John 14:15 says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Also, in John 15:7 we read, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." These passages imply that man is able to fulfill the conditions by his free-will.

Remarkably, Erasmus identifies Paul as "the champion of free choice." Referring to passages in which Paul exhorts and commands, Erasmus says that this implies the ability to obey. An example is I Corinthians 9:24,25: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." Man is able to obey this command because he has a free-will.

These texts can be placed together because Luther responds to them as a whole. Luther does treat many of these texts separately, but often comes back to the same point. Luther's response to Genesis 4:7 applies to all of the commands and conditions to which Erasmus refers: "Man is shown, not what he can do, but what he ought to do." Similarly, Luther responds to Deuteronomy 30:19: "It is from this passage that I derive my answer to you: that by the words of the law man is admonished and taught, not what he can do, but what he ought to do; that is, that he may know sin, not that he may believe that he has any strength." The exhortations and commands of the New Testament given through the apostle Paul are not written to show what we can do, but rather, after the gospel is preached, they encourage those justified and saved to live in the Spirit.

From these passages, Erasmus also taught that man merited salvation by his obedience or a man merited punishment by his disobedience, all of which was based on man's ability according to his free-will. Erasmus jumps from reward to merit. He does this in the conditional phrases of Scripture especially. But Luther says that merit is not proved from reward. God uses rewards in Scripture to exhort us and threaten us so that the godly persevere. Rewards are not that which a man merits.

The heart of the battle of the biblical texts is found in their treatment of passages from the book of Romans, especially Romans 9. Here, Erasmus treats Romans 9 as a passage which seems to oppose the freedom of the will but does not.

Erasmus begins his treatment of Romans 9 by considering the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. He treats this in connection with what Romans 9:18 says, "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth." To interpret this passage, Erasmus turns to Jerome, who says, "God hardens when he does not at once punish the sinner and has mercy as soon as he invites repentance by means of afflictions." God's hardening and mercy are the results of what man does. God has mercy "on those who recognize the goodness of God and repent…." Also, this hardening is not something which God does, but something which Pharaoh did by not repenting. God was longsuffering to Pharaoh, not punishing him immediately, during which Pharaoh hardened his heart. God simply gave the occasion for the hardening of his heart. Therefore the blame can be placed on Pharaoh.

Although Erasmus claims to take the literal meaning of the passage, Luther is outraged at this interpretation. Luther objects:

Showing the absurdity of what Erasmus says, Luther says that this view means that God shows mercy when He sends Israel into captivity because then they are invited to repent; but when Israel is brought back from captivity, He hardens them by giving them the opportunity of hardening in His longsuffering. This is "topsy-turvy."

Positively, Luther explains this hardening of the heart of Pharaoh. God does this, therefore Pharaoh's heart is necessarily hardened. But God does not do something which is opposed to the nature of Pharaoh. Pharoah is enslaved to sin. When he hears the word of God through Moses which irritates his evil will, Pharaoh's heart is hardened. Luther explains it this way:

In his consideration of Jacob and Esau in Romans 9, Erasmus denies that this passage speaks of predestination. Erasmus says God does not hate anybody from eternity. But God's wrath and fury against sin are revealed on Esau because He knows the sins he will commit. In this connection, when Romans 9 speaks of God as the potter making a vessel of honor and dishonor, Erasmus says that God does this because of their belief and unbelief. Erasmus is trying to deny the necessity of the fulfillment of God's decree in order to support the freedom of the will.

Once again, Luther objects. Luther defends the necessity of consequence to what God decrees. Luther says, "If God foreknows a thing, it necessarily takes place." Therefore, in regard to Jacob and Esau, they did not attain their positions by their own free-will. Romans 9 emphasizes that they were not yet born and that they had not yet done good or evil. Without any works of obedience or disobedience, the one was master and the other was the servant. Jacob was rewarded not on the basis of anything he had done. Jacob was loved and Esau was hated even before the world began. Jacob loved God because God loved him. Therefore the source of salvation is not the free-will of man, but God's eternal decree. Paul is not the great champion of the freedom of the will.

In defense of the literal meaning of Romans 9:21-23, Luther shows that these verses oppose free-will as well. Luther examines the passage in the context of what Paul is saying. The emphasis in the earlier verses is not man, but what God does. He is sovereign in salvation. Here also, the emphasis is the potter. God is sovereign, almighty, and free. Man is enslaved to sin and acts out of necessity according to all God decrees. Luther shows that this is the emphasis of Romans 9 with sound exegetical work.

After refuting the texts to which Erasmus refers, Luther continues to show that Scripture denies the freedom of the will and teaches the sovereignty of God in salvation. He begins with Romans 1:18 which says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." Luther says this means all men are ungodly and are unrighteous. Therefore, all deserve the wrath of God. The best a man can do is evil. Referring to Romans 3:9, Luther proves the same thing. Both Jews and Greeks are all under sin. They will and do nothing but evil. Man has no power to seek after good because there is none that doeth good (Ps. 14:3). Therefore, men are "ignorant of and despise God! Here is unbelief, disobedience, sacrilege, blasphemy towards God, cruelty and mercilessness towards one's neighbors and love of self in all things of God and man." Luther's conclusion to the matter is this: man is enslaved to sin.

Man cannot obtain salvation by his works. Romans 3:20 says that by the works of the law no man can be justified in God's sight. It is impossible for a man to merit salvation by his works. Salvation must be the sovereign work of God.

Luther thunders against free-will in connection with Romans 3:21-16 which proclaims salvation by grace alone through faith.58 Free-will is opposed to faith. These are two different ways of salvation. Luther shows that a man cannot be saved by his works, therefore it must be by faith in Jesus Christ. Justification is free, of grace, and without works because man possesses no worthiness for it.

Finally, we notice that Luther points out the comprehensive terms of the apostle Paul to show that there is no free-will in man. All are sinners. There is none that is righteous, and none that doeth good. Paul uses many others also. Therefore, justification and salvation are without works and without the law.

Over against the idea of free-will stands the clear teaching of Scripture. Luther clearly exegetes God's Word to show this. In summary, the truth of predestination denies the free-will of man. Because salvation is by grace and faith, salvation is not by works. Faith and grace are of no avail if salvation is by the works of man. Also, the only thing the law works is wrath. The law displays the unworthiness, sinfulness, and guilt of man. As children of Adam we can do no good. Luther argues along these lines to show that a free-will does not exist in man. Salvation is by grace alone.

The Main Issues and Implications of Each View

Luther is not interested in abstract theological concepts. He does not take up this debate with Erasmus on a purely intellectual level. The main issue is salvation: how does God save? Luther himself defines the issue on which the debate hinges:

So it is not irreligious, idle, or superfluous, but in the highest degree wholesome and necessary, for a Christian to know whether or not his will has anything to do in matters pertaining to salvation…. This is the hinge on which our discussion turns, the crucial issue between us.

Luther finds it necessary to investigate from Scripture what ability the will of man has and how this is related to God and His grace. If one does not know this, he does not know Christianity. Luther brings this against Erasmus because he shows no interest in the truth regarding how it is that some are saved.

Although the broad issue of the debate is how God saves, the specific issue is the sovereignty of God in salvation. The main issue for Luther is that man does not have a free-will by which he merits eternal life, but God sovereignly saves those whom He has chosen.

Luther is pursuing the question, "Is God, God?" This means, is God the omnipotent who reigns over all and who sovereignly saves, or does He depend on man? If God depends on man for anything, then He is not God. Therefore Luther asks the question of himself: Who will try to reform his life, believe, and love God? His answer, "Nobody." No man can do this of himself. He needs God. "The elect, who fear God, will be reformed by the Holy Spirit; the rest will perish unreformed." Luther defends this truth so vigorously because it is the heart of the gospel. God is the sovereign God of salvation. If salvation depends on the works of man, he cannot be saved.

Certain implications necessarily follow from the views of salvation defended by both men. First, we must consider the implications which show the falsehood of Erasmus' view of salvation.

When Erasmus speaks of merit, he is really speaking as a Pelagian. This was offensive to Erasmus because he specifically claimed that he was not a Pelagian. But Luther rightly points out that Erasmus says man merits salvation. According to the idea of merit, man performs an act separate from God, which act is the basis of salvation. He deserves a reward. This is opposed to grace. Therefore, if merit is at all involved, man saves himself. This makes Erasmus no different from the Pelagians except that the Pelagians are honest. Pelagians honestly confess that man merits eternal life. Erasmus tries to give the appearance that he is against the Pelagians although he really is a Pelagian. Packer and Johnston make this analysis:

According to Luther, Erasmus does not succeed in moving closer to the Augustinian position. Instead, he cheapens the purchase of God's grace. Luther says:

The Pelagians base salvation upon works; men work for their own righteousness. But Erasmus has cheapened the price which must be paid for salvation. Because only a small work of man is needed to merit salvation, God is not so great and mighty. Man only needs to choose God and choose the good. God's character is tarnished with the teaching of Erasmus. This semi-Pelagianism is worse than Pelagianism, for little is required to earn salvation. As Packer and Johnston say, "that is to belittle salvation and to insult God."

Another implication of the synergistic view of salvation held to by Erasmus is that God is not God. Because salvation depends upon the free-will of man according to Erasmus, man ascribes divinity to himself. God is not God because He depends upon man. Man himself determines whether or not he will be saved. Therefore the study of soteriology is not the study of what God does in salvation, but soteriology is a study of what man does with God to deserve eternal life.

This means God's grace is not irresistible, but man can reject the grace of God. Man then has more power than God. God watches passively to see what man will do.

Finally, a serious implication of the view of Erasmus is that he denies salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone. In his Diatribe, Erasmus rarely mentions Jesus Christ. This shows something is wrong. This does follow from what Erasmus says. The emphasis for Erasmus is what man must do to be saved and not on what God has done in Jesus Christ. Therefore Jesus Christ is not the only way of salvation and is not that important.

Over against the implications of Erasmus' view are the orthodox implications of Luther's view. God is sovereign in salvation. God elects His people, He sent Jesus Christ, and reveals Jesus Christ only to His people. It is God who turns the enslaved wills of His people so that they seek after Him. Salvation does not depend upon the work of man in any sense.

The basis of salvation is Jesus Christ alone. Because man is enslaved to sin, He must be turned from that sin. He must be saved from that sin through the satisfaction of the justice of God. A man needs the work of Jesus Christ on the cross to be saved. A man needs the new life of Jesus Christ in order to inherit eternal life. The merits of man do not save because he merits nothing with God. A man needs the merits of Jesus Christ for eternal life. A man needs faith by which he is united to Christ.

The source of this salvation is election. God saves only those whom He elects. Those who receive that new life of Christ are those whom God has chosen. God is sovereign in salvation.

Because God is sovereign in salvation, His grace cannot be resisted. Erasmus says that the reason some do not believe is because they reject the grace which God has given to them. Luther implies that God does not show grace to all men. Instead, He saves and shows favor only to those who are His children. In them, God of necessity, efficaciously accomplishes His purpose.

Because man cannot merit eternal life, saving faith is not a work of man by which he merits anything with God. Works do not justify a man. Salvation is the work of God alone in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit. Faith is a gift of God whereby we are united to Jesus Christ and receive the new life found in Him. Even the knowledge and confidence as the activity of faith are the gifts of faith.

Finally, only with this view of salvation that God is sovereign can a man have comfort that he will be saved. Because God is sovereign in salvation and because His counsel is immutable, we cannot fall from the grace of God. He preserves those who are His children. Erasmus could not have this comfort because he held that man determines his own salvation.

The Importance of This Controversy Today

Although this controversy happened almost five hundred years ago, it is significant for the church today. The error of "semi-Pelagianism" is still alive in the church today. Much of the church world sides with Erasmus today, even among those who claim to be "Reformed." If a "Reformed" or Lutheran church denies what Luther says and sides with Erasmus, they despise the reformation of the church in the sixteenth century. They might as well go back to the Roman Catholic Church.

This controversy is important today because many deny that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. A man can worship heathen gods and be saved. This follows from making works the basis of salvation. Over against this error, Martin Luther proclaimed the sovereignty of God in salvation. He proclaimed Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. We must do the same.

The error of Pelagianism attacks the church in many different forms. We have seen that in the history of the Protestant Reformed Churches. The sovereignty of God in salvation has been attacked by the errors of common grace and a conditional covenant. Over against these errors, some in the church world have remained steadfast by the grace of God. God does not love all. Nor does He show favor to all men in the preaching of gospel. Erasmus himself said that God showed grace to all men and God does not hate any man. The Arminians said the same thing at the time of the Synod of Dordt. Yet, men who defend common grace claim to be Reformed. They are not.

Also, in this synergistic view of salvation, we see the principles of the bilateral, conditional covenant view which is in many "Reformed" churches. If God and man work together in salvation, then the covenant must be a pact in which both God and man must hold up each one's end of the agreement. Over against this we must proclaim the sovereignty of God in salvation especially in regard to the covenant. The covenant is not conditional and bilateral. God works unconditionally and unilaterally in the covenant of grace.

Finally, we must apply the truth of the sovereignty of God defended by Luther to ourselves. We could say there is a Pelagian in all of us. We know God sovereignly saves, but we often show by our practice that we proudly want to sneak a few of our works in the back door. We must depend upon God for all things.

May this truth which Martin Luther defended, the truth of the sovereignty of God in salvation, be preserved in the church.


TOPICS: History; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: bondageofthewill; catholic; christalone; erasmus; faithalone; gracealone; luther; martinluther; protestant; reformation; savedbygracealone; scripturealone; solascriptura; thegoodnews
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To: HarleyD
This isn't a message of "perseverance" to Christians. This is a message to the Hebrews that if they reject the truth of the message of Christ to go back to their legalistic laws, there remains no longer a sacrifice for sin.

I disagree. Let's look at the verse more carefully and read what is there, not inserting your own theology into it:

For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins...

Nothing about returning back to legalistic rituals - but to sin. Rituals are not sinful! God HIMSELF commanded them. The fact of the matter is that a person who willfully commits adultery, etc., is cutting themselves off from Christ's redemptive suffering. They are not in a "saved" status with the Lord.

Regards

2,551 posted on 02/12/2006 2:58:01 PM PST by jo kus
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To: stripes1776
How can the elect of God, God's chosen people, reject the truth of the message of Christ? Or are some elect predestined to reject?

The ELECT don't reject the message of God. Merely being baptised or reciting the sinner's prayer does not make one of the elect. It is only the first step in our walk with Christ, our new birth spiritually. But one can turn away and return to his old life, return to the vomit. There is NO WAY a person here on earth can know he is of the elect without a special grace from God - which rarely comes to the saints. The ordinary work out their salvation in fear and trembling - hoping that we ARE of the Elect, but not knowing until the end.

Regards

2,552 posted on 02/12/2006 3:02:17 PM PST by jo kus
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To: Forest Keeper

"I wonder how one would go about identifying only his bio-brother to someone who didn't know?"

Well, part of the answer is that it doesn't much matter; family is family. The other part of the answer is that in small places where people spend or spent their lives within 10 miles of home, everybody knew everybody else. Like I said, this is still true to an extent in Greece in small villages. Here we are quite particular about familial relationships, much of it coming out of the Common Law and our feudal past in England. But those sorts of feelings aren't so string elsewhere. For example, I have what we here in the states would call very distant relatives in Greece, the sort that here one probably would never have heard of let alone have anything to do with, but there the family tie is quite literally as close as brothers and sisters here.


2,553 posted on 02/12/2006 3:03:53 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
If God wanted all men to be saved, all men would be saved.

Not if He desired something more - a free will choice from His creation to love Him.

Regards

2,554 posted on 02/12/2006 3:04:59 PM PST by jo kus
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To: jo kus; Forest Keeper
Of course, this is one of those subjects where we all three have some disagreement. Jo probably knows, but you, FK, may not know the Orthodox take on this subject. Unlike our Latin brothers, the East never believed in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (the conception of Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God, by her parents), because we do not share your Augustinian teaching of the "original sin."

While the Orthodox Church certainly considers Theotokos to be immaculate in every others way, by her own choice to obey God, she is as human and capable of sinning as any one of us.

To the Ortodox mindset, God's intervention in the moment of her conception by her parents would separate her from us and make her sainthood not the highest feat of faithful cooperation with God's will, but simply an act of God's will, and not a result of her theosis.

As a "mere" human, she gives hope to all, and serves as a model for all to follow and venerate. In the Orhtodox Church she is the "highest" saint in terms of honor. But the very fact that she was deemed worthy of her awesome task, and that the Word used her flesh to become Man, speaks volumes of her purity, for we all believe, I hope, that the flesh God used for Incarnation was not defiled or anything short of immaculate. And the mere fact that she gave Birth to the Savior of or souls makes even any discussion of her "impurity" meaningless. She has indebted all of us with her love.

The fact that both sides of the Church, Greek and Latin never questioned her immaculate life is a testament that this was understood to be that way from the beginning. Both sides of the Apostolic Church believe that she was assumed bodily into heaven on the third day after her death, although there are some Catholics who deny that she ever died. Some Orthodox even point to the fact that she may have sinned (the incident at the wedding party when Christ turned water into wine), but these are private opinions and not doctrinal statements.

2,555 posted on 02/12/2006 3:28:12 PM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: stripes1776; Kolokotronis; kosta50; Forest Keeper; annalex; jo kus; Cronos; Dr. Eckleburg
The sticking point is the understanding of the word chosen. While I can't speak for everyone who believes in free will, I think most in that camp would say that God chooses everyone for communion with Himself...Personhood requires freedom of response. And that also entails the freedom to fail and miss the mark.

I would say this is against the very nature of God Himself as revealed in the Old Testament. God chose Abraham while his father was an idol maker and an idolater. He CHOSE Issac over Ishmael. He CHOSE Jacob over Esau. He CHOSE Joseph to protect the nation of Israel and Moses to bring them out. God didn't chose everyone in the Old Testament. If God could hardened the heart of Pharaoh, couldn't God have made Pharaoh repent? Why didn't He? Why would people think that the very nature and purpose of God as revealed in the Old Testament would change in the New?

God specifically chose Mary, John the Baptist and others. And there was no greater case of God choosing anyone then that of the apostle Paul who was very content to go about his merry way killing and imprisoning Christians. God put a stop to it and changed his heart. If God can blind the eyes of Paul so that he turned to Him and see, why doesn't He do it for Joe? Why do some get to hear the gospel and others don't? Why does our Lord Jesus states:

If He wants people to turn to Him why does He speak in parables? Why is there a hardening on the hearts of Israel? On and on and on the scriptures goes. And yet we still say that we are given some kind of choice as if a man would deliberately choose to go to hell. This is all the Pelagius lie and while it sounds good to our Greek thought process, it isn't what the scripture states at all.

Every single person that God wants to be in heaven will be with him. Not one single sheep will be lost because their names have been written in the book of life not by their will but by the Father's will. The sheep are chosen by God actively seeking every single person in the Old and New Testament. Some give testimonies they've had a "burning bush" experience while others it is God quietly opening up their hearts like Lydia. But it is all the work of the Father.


2,556 posted on 02/12/2006 4:01:28 PM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: kosta50; jo kus; Forest Keeper; Kolokotronis; Cronos; annalex
But, HD, if the devil, by your theology, is necessarily God's obedient servant doing simply God's will, why would God come to destroy him?

The only way we can understand God's grace is to understand God's wrath. There are vessels of wrath created for their destruction:

I will add this to this puzzlement, it is my personal belief that everyone will be exactly where they want to be. Consequently the rich man who looked at Abraham from the depths of hell never asked to be removed from the flaming torment. He only asked Abraham to quench his tongue.
2,557 posted on 02/12/2006 4:10:33 PM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: jo kus
If you have sinned, you have practiced it, have you not? You are putting words into John's writings that are not there.

I'm not putting words into John's mouth. That is what he states. If you have a better Catholic interpretation I would be open to listening to it. Especially this one

I know the answer to this. It's a mystery.

According to Reformed theology, isn't that the anthropology of man? That he can never choose good? There is no such contest within the non-Christian ...

Man can never choose good things that are pleasing to God. Christ said,

Non-Christians can still do nice things. They just can't do the things that are of God.

All that being said I would like to know how people who don't believe in original sin would interpret Paul's statement?


2,558 posted on 02/12/2006 4:27:22 PM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: jo kus
I disagree. Let's look at the verse more carefully and read what is there, not inserting your own theology into it:

Actually a number of Calvinist's commentaries that I have would disagree with my interpretation as well. They claim this refers to apostates in the end times as foretold by Christ. In any event all of them agree that while these people may give the appearance of being in the Church they are not of the Church for if they had been of the church they would have continued with the church. The end result is the same; people fall away.

Let me ask you under your interpretation,

Have you gone on sinning willfully after coming to a knowledge of Christ? Do you feel there still remains a sacrifice for sins in your case?
2,559 posted on 02/12/2006 4:45:23 PM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: HarleyD; jo kus; Forest Keeper; Kolokotronis; Cronos; annalex
I will add this to this puzzlement, it is my personal belief that everyone will be exactly where they want to be

That's odd, coming from a Calvinist.

Nonetheless, your quotes are appreciated, but luckily the Church never took isolated quotes and stopped, but kept on reading. God's message must be understood in its entirety, as contained in the Church Tradition, and not in isolated quotes.

2,560 posted on 02/12/2006 5:04:21 PM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: stripes1776; HarleyD; Forest Keeper
Your non sequitur is a waste of time.

I answered your questions. When and if you get around to answering mine, ping me.
2,561 posted on 02/12/2006 5:04:41 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: jo kus; HarleyD; Forest Keeper
Not if He desired something more - a free will choice from His creation to love Him.

Got some Scripture for that? Where is "free will" taught in the Bible?

2,562 posted on 02/12/2006 5:13:28 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
I answered your questions. When and if you get around to answering mine, ping me.

Let me translate that: when you become a Calvinist, let me know. It's not going to happen. But I am grateful for the exchange of ideas.

2,563 posted on 02/12/2006 5:37:57 PM PST by stripes1776
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To: jo kus
The ELECT don't reject the message of God... hoping that we ARE of the Elect, but not knowing until the end.

Well put.

2,564 posted on 02/12/2006 5:41:30 PM PST by stripes1776
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To: kosta50
The Eucharist can only be an expression of unity of faith, and never a means of achiving such unity.

Very well put, and always worth remembering in any of these discussions.

2,565 posted on 02/12/2006 5:45:21 PM PST by stripes1776
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To: HarleyD; Forest Keeper
I've come to realize that if we diminish original sin we are actually diminishing Christ's work on the cross.

We are born in sin and we die sinning. That's our fallen nature and we can never be anything but imperfect humans while on this earth.

But Christ has acquitted us of our sins so that we can stand blameless before God. That doesn't mean we don't sin. It means we are saved in spite of our sins.

Christ paid the price for our sins in total, and thus we are covered by His redemption. His innocence becomes our own.

If we assume any responsibility for our own salvation by our good works or righteousness we usurp His sacrifice.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." -- 1 Corinthians 15:10

2,566 posted on 02/12/2006 5:48:13 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: stripes1776

You have a strange way of discussing things.

Whether or not you call yourself a Calvinist isn't my concern, but God's. I only asked for you to answer my questions because I've answered yours.

I ask too much, apparently.


2,567 posted on 02/12/2006 5:53:32 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
I only asked for you to answer my questions because I've answered yours.

What you are asking for is that I answer your questions so that you can agree with them. That isn't the purpose of this discussion. The purpose is to be clear about our differences. And that we have achieved.

2,568 posted on 02/12/2006 5:57:25 PM PST by stripes1776
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To: annalex
Remember, it is Matthew, who does not know the intimate life of Joseph and Mary speaking to us. ... Matthew knows the condition before, because he has a statement from Joseph (for example) made at the time of Jesus's birth. He does not know and is not interested in the condition after that.

Even using your reasoning then, Matthew could not have believed that Mary was a perpetual virgin, because you say he did not know the condition after. Wouldn't he have then assumed a normal relationship, if someone had asked him? I still think that "until" means "until", and that Matthew would have necessarily known about Jesus' bio-half brothers because of the time he spent with Jesus. Of course they would have discussed their families, right?.

Besides, "son of carpenter" is indeed used imprecisely here, just like "brothers" is used imprecisely.

I don't see it as being the same thing at all. Matthew is reporting what the people said. The people could not yet "conceive" (Ha-Ha) that Joseph was not the bio-dad of Jesus. The identity of siblings, though, was easily knowable.

2,569 posted on 02/12/2006 6:06:37 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: stripes1776; HarleyD; Forest Keeper
The purpose is to be clear about our differences. And that we have achieved.

LOL. That may be the purpose, but you haven't contributed much to achieving it.

I've asked you three questions.

1) Did God elect anyone?

2) Why do you think He didn't elect all people?

3) Are you a universalist who thinks all people are God's elect?

I've answered your questions, complete with Scriptural support. Since you haven't reciprocated, the logical inference is that you can't.

At least now we've achieved that much clarity.

2,570 posted on 02/12/2006 8:18:58 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
I've answered your questions, complete with Scriptural support. Since you haven't reciprocated, the logical inference is that you can't. At least now we've achieved that much clarity.

I suggest that next time you copy and paste the entire Bible. Then you will have answered all questions before they are ever asked.

By the grace of God alone.
No king but Christ.

That isn't a question. Both are statements.

No doubt. Too bad.
I would suggest you return to Scripture and find the comfort and assurance God has given His sheep.

That isn't a question either. It's a demand that I conform to Calvinism.

2,571 posted on 02/12/2006 8:36:38 PM PST by stripes1776
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To: Dr. Eckleburg; HarleyD; Forest Keeper
Since you haven't reciprocated, the logical inference is that you can't.

In addition, that isn't a logical inference. You haven't proved the truth the hypothesis, nor have you proved the truth of the implication Therefore, Doctor, you haven't proved the truth of the conlusion, by modus ponens or any other rule of inference.

2,572 posted on 02/12/2006 9:06:44 PM PST by stripes1776
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To: Forest Keeper
You certainly can interpret Romans 5 in the way you prefer to interpret it, that is, see that "many" is used in the sense of "all", and that sin of everyone is the cause of death of everyone, and not merely sin of Adam. I think you would run into some difficulties here and there, but perhaps you would be able to overcome all of them. But this is not what we are about. You set out to show me how the Gospel contradicts the immaculate conception, and I showed you in 2451 and the post that had lead to it, that it does not. If your point was that the Gospel can be explained also without the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, then I have no objection; it can be explained that way as well.
2,573 posted on 02/12/2006 9:08:08 PM PST by annalex
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To: Forest Keeper

My point is that Matthew is not saying anything about the marital relations of St. Joseph and St. Mary in that verse, neither by way of knowledge of conjecture. Again, you set out to prove a contradiction to a Catholic doctrine and the verse does not contain a contradiction. Remember, the same word "till" is used in very many ways besides "until", as I showed you from scripture.


2,574 posted on 02/12/2006 9:14:58 PM PST by annalex
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To: Cronos
I'm guessing that is sarcasm. If not, then that is what the Muslimbs believe in as well...

I would call what I said sarcasm with a smile. :) You asked whether I believed that Jesus actually died. I actually thought that YOU were being sarcastic! I had thought that all of us Protestants had posted enough on this thread to be clear on our belief concerning this. But, if YOU were serious, then I can faithfully report that in all of mainstream Protestantism, we do indeed believe that Jesus actually died. It is, in fact, a cornerstone of our faith. :)

2,575 posted on 02/12/2006 9:37:10 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: HarleyD
... the scriptures state that sin came into the world through Adam, yet it was Eve that actually ate the fruit first and one could say that Eve tempted Adam leading to his and our ruin. [One could ask] Didn't sin actually come into the world through Eve? Also, where was God? Why didn't He prevent it?

The answer IMO lies in the deception of Eve which Paul mentions twice. Her poor understanding led to her downfall but not the condemnation of the world as Adam's sinful attitude. Sin is still sin whether one is deceived or not (Paul warns Christians in a number of places not to be deceived). God could have prevented it by 1) not allowing the serpent in the garden, 2) giving Eve a better mind to understand God's word, and 3) giving Adam greater wisdom in deciding what to do. He didn't do any of this. God wants us to rely upon Him for wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Not on ourselves. ...

Bears repeating! Thanks for your full answer. That answers a lot of my "Garden" questions I have had for some time. :)

2,576 posted on 02/12/2006 10:32:02 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: kosta50
FK, read my sentence again, and I mean read it. It starts with "you can respect but not love..." Obviously there is a difference and obviously they are not interchangable. While it is possible to respect without loving, it is impossible to love without respecting.

In your earlier response to me on this you were mixing different kinds of love, which I would say you can't do. You asked if I can love my wife without respecting her, and I would say "No". But, one of the reasons I have chosen to love her is that she has earned my respect. The love between us and God is not like the love between a man and wife. Perhaps the closest we can compare is to that between a parent and child. When my two children were born I had all the love in the world for them, but I did not have feelings of respect because they hadn't done anything yet! Now that they are teenagers they have both done things to earn my respect in certain areas.

I know you said that we cannot merit God's respect, which is why I thought you might be using the words interchangeably. You give a further clue when you say that "you can respect but not love..." . I fully respect the Olympic athletes I'm watching right now, and not love them in a sense because I do not know them. However, I certainly CAN love them in a Christian sense, right? OTOH, I would not say that I do not "respect" Castro even though he has been in power since 1959. He is not respectable. He has not earned my respect.

So, it depends on how you define "respect" and to what kind of love you are comparing it. That's what I can't figure out from your answers.

2,577 posted on 02/12/2006 11:04:16 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: stripes1776; HarleyD; Forest Keeper
That isn't a question. Both are statements.

Correct.

The questions are numbered 1 through 3, and there's a question mark (?) at the end of each of them.

If you're still having difficulty finding and answering them, well, as we Calvinists are prone to observe...

"As God wills."

2,578 posted on 02/13/2006 12:00:56 AM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: HarleyD; kosta50; Forest Keeper; Kolokotronis; Cronos; annalex
The only way we can understand God's grace is to understand God's wrath. There are vessels of wrath created for their destruction:

God's wrath upon the unrighteous...

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; Romans 1:24-28

What is interesting is that God reproves those whom He loves, and allows those who have turned from Him to continue in their ways of self-destruction. Thus, men DO choose the vomit - and God allows them to destroy themselves. That is His wrath. His love is to punish us as a father does His son.

Regards

2,579 posted on 02/13/2006 4:04:53 AM PST by jo kus
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To: HarleyD
Regarding 1Jo 5:18, I would say John is talking about willfully sinning in a grievious manner, not the smaller sins of our daily lives. I admit that John is not very clear on this issue in this epistle - first, he admits we all sin, then he says that those who sin are of the devil. A minor sin, one that John would not consider "deadly", would not turn the man to evil, so perhaps this is what John is discussing.

Man can never choose good things that are pleasing to God

...without God. Yes.

Non-Christians can still do nice things. They just can't do the things that are of God.

...without God. Yes.

Regards

2,580 posted on 02/13/2006 4:12:21 AM PST by jo kus
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To: kosta50; jo kus; Forest Keeper; Kolokotronis; Cronos; annalex
HarleyD-" everyone will be exactly where they want to be

kosta-"That's odd, coming from a Calvinist....but luckily the Church never took isolated quotes and stopped, but kept on reading."

Not really. God made all of us exactly as we are. There is not one thing that you have that has not been given you by God including your hopes, desires, faith, etc. God fashioned each of us according to His purpose.

And, I believe, you will find that is the conclusion the early Christians came to after they finished reading.

2,581 posted on 02/13/2006 4:21:04 AM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: HarleyD
Actually a number of Calvinist's commentaries that I have would disagree with my interpretation as well.{of Heb 10:26-27} They claim this refers to apostates in the end times as foretold by Christ.

Interesting. It appears that the Church has ALWAYS had to deal with apostates, so it is not surprising that men will fall away. I believe in the very earliest Church, apostasy was considered the worst of sins - even unforgiveable. But I believe Jesus also admitted that such would not be the end.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Mat 24:5-6

Many will believe they have the answer in contradistinction to the Church's proclamation of the Gospel - have fallen away from the community - but the end is not yet...

Have you gone on sinning willfully after coming to a knowledge of Christ? Do you feel there still remains a sacrifice for sins in your case?

Me personally? I can't remember when I willfully committed a deadly sin, after my reversion. If I had, I am certain that I had confessed it and had returned to Christ, as the Prodigal Son.

Regards

2,582 posted on 02/13/2006 4:24:20 AM PST by jo kus
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
Where is "free will" taught in the Bible?

Anywhere that man is told to choose between good and evil. Anytime man is told to repent. Anytime man is given the commandments and told to obey them. In each case, the presumption is made that an individual is ABLE to choose to do them or not. Thus, we have free will to choose or not choose to make God's Graces effective within us.

Regards

2,583 posted on 02/13/2006 4:26:35 AM PST by jo kus
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." -- 1 Corinthians 15:10

Which merely says that WITHOUT God, I cannot please Him. I can do nothing good unless He abides within me. This doesn't say that our love is covered up by Christ. Paul is merely giving credit to God's Graces, the impetus behind his works of love. Paul is cooperating with God's graces - rather than allowing them to fall without effect.

Regards

2,584 posted on 02/13/2006 4:31:55 AM PST by jo kus
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To: Dr. Eckleburg; Forest Keeper
I've come to realize that if we diminish original sin we are actually diminishing Christ's work on the cross.

We not only diminishing Christ's work on the cross but I would also add that diminishing original sin leads to our failure to fully acknowledging God's sovereignty.

2,585 posted on 02/13/2006 4:34:31 AM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: jo kus; kosta50; Forest Keeper; Kolokotronis; Cronos; annalex
"What is interesting is that God reproves those whom He loves, and allows those who have turned from Him to continue in their ways of self-destruction. Thus, men DO choose the vomit - and God allows them to destroy themselves."

You only understand the first half of Augustine's paradox: 1) God commands what He wills and 2) He gives what He commands. God has to give us what He commands. Men will choose the vomit unless God gives them the grace and faith to overcome their blind obedience to sin. We can't do it on our own because there is not one thing that we have that has not been given to us by God, including whether we want to choose the vomit or not. God must give us what He has commanded. He doesn't give us 50% worth of knowledge to see if we'll chooose the vomit. He gives us enough faith to reject the vomit.

If you ONLY understand the first half of Augustine's paradox then you are living the Pelagius heresy.

2,586 posted on 02/13/2006 4:54:45 AM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: jo kus
It appears that the Church has ALWAYS had to deal with apostates, so it is not surprising that men will fall away.

People make the mistake of thinking apostates are those who lose their salvation. I would say (with the support of John) that they never really had it to begin with. They are the people who, like Balaam, prophesy in God's name but never are true believers and are those who cry our, "Lord, did we not prophesy in your name...". They exist to lead the flock away from God.

I can't remember when I willfully committed a deadly sin, after my reversion. If I had, I am certain that I had confessed it...

It doesn't say a "deadly" sin. It says that if you sin "willfully" and, of course, you have willfully committed a sin after you came to Christ. We all have. We're rebellious children. If we were to take your interpretation then once we willfully commit a sin Heb 10:26-27 states there is no longer a "sacrifice for sin". Pretty scary and, no, it doesn't give us an option of confessing our sins. It plainly states that if we sin "willfully", we're doomed.

I'm simply showing that Hebrews verse cannot be interpreted the way you're interpreting it without ALL of us losing our salvation. It ties in nicely with what John and Paul talks about Christians no longer "practice sin" which is what I believe the writer of Hebrews is saying - there are those who hear the word but they continue to practice sin. Putting aside all the Calvinistic nuances, they have the laws and ceremonies. If once they have heard and received the "knowledge of truth" (in the sense of the gospel of their salvation) and revert back to their own ceremonies, there is no sacrifice for sins. They can go to the temple and kill all the fated calves they want but it won't do any good.

I’m not a good person to be talking to about Hebrews. Most writers from various persuasions believe that this section is about apostates. A few believe it talks about people losing their salvation. In my mind, and at the risk of sounding pompous (why stop now right???) :O), they’re both wrong. I believe Hebrews (and particularly chapter 10) is nothing more than an altar call to the Jews. Christians have tried to glean Christian applications from it where there are few. In fair warning I believe I’m the only one who interprets this book this way so it puts me outside the normal teachings of the fathers-any fathers and I may be a HERETIC on this matter. I rarely quote from Hebrews and I don’t like discussing Hebrews because I don’t interpret it the same way everyone else does. It doesn’t have anything to do with Calvinism. I’ve held this view of Hebrews for a long time.

The Church fathers (and Luther) want to leave Hebrews out. I kind of think it’s interesting that God would leave it in as a perpetual call to the Jews; a tad ironic.

2,587 posted on 02/13/2006 6:09:10 AM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: HarleyD
If you ONLY understand the first half of Augustine's paradox then you are living the Pelagius heresy.

If you ONLY understand God's sovereignty without understanding at the same time man's free will to choose, you are living the Calvinism heresy of double predestination - that God actively chooses to create and send men to hell. Only with man's free will is God's justice left intact.

If God creates something that cannot do a command of His, then how can He judge the creation as a failure?

Of course God gives what He commands. But He does not overwhelm nature. The fact that man can ignore God's graces is clear from Scripture, and shows that man DOES have a choice to make.

Regards

2,588 posted on 02/13/2006 8:32:00 AM PST by jo kus
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To: HarleyD
People make the mistake of thinking apostates are those who lose their salvation.

Then the sacred writer of Hebrews disagrees with you, as he writes that a person has lost salvation.

They are the people who, like Balaam, prophesy in God's name but never are true believers

That logic is faulty and shows where the whole concept of "once saved, always saved" falls apart (which "perseverance of the saints" means the same thing, since all Calvinists believe they are saints.)

How? Let's say that you make you sinner's prayer and now, you consider yourself of the elect. You now begin to walk in Christ, doing good deeds that express your faith, etc. Now, let's say 10 years down the road, after faithful service in God's eyes, you begin to falter and fall away. You begin to willfully sin. Now, according to you, you were never saved to begin with. IF that is so, what explains the first 10 years of faithful obedience to God? You yourself say that you cannot please God without the Spirit. No one can choose God without God. Thus, God MUST HAVE dwelt within us at one point. But now, He is gone due to our turning from him - returning to the vomit. Your idea of "never saved to begin with" totally ignores the source of your faith and love BEFORE the reversion to the vomit. You could have done those works ONLY by abiding in Christ, only by being "saved" in the first place. Now, you claim you never were saved - thus, there is a confusion on what was the initial impetus in the first place those first 10 years? Hardly. The Scriptures are quite clear that we can fall away.

It says that if you sin "willfully" and, of course, you have willfully committed a sin after you came to Christ. We all have

John seems to set a distinction between what is deadly sin and what is minor sin in 1 John 5. Paul also has the same idea in mind when he lists in Galatians and 1 Corinthians the sins that DISINHERIT a person from the Kingdom. Note, the very list implies that there are sins that DO NOT disinherit... Thus, I read Hebrews in context with the rest of Scriptures and say that I have not sinned mortally.

It plainly states that if we sin "willfully", we're doomed.

We have an intercessor in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 7:25) who continues to come to the Father for our sake, even when we sin grieviously. By turning to Christ and begging His forgiveness, we can be welcomed back and He will abide within us.

I'm simply showing that Hebrews verse cannot be interpreted the way you're interpreting it without ALL of us losing our salvation.

See above. Just as men can lose their salvation by falling away to the vomit, men can also return to the Lord and repent. The only unforgiveable sin is the sin that is never repented of because of pride.

If once they have heard and received the "knowledge of truth" (in the sense of the gospel of their salvation) and revert back to their own ceremonies, there is no sacrifice for sins. They can go to the temple and kill all the fated calves they want but it won't do any good.

Perhaps. But it doesn't say that in the text. The context is that the just will live by faith. Our faith will be displayed by our works of love. In the context of the writing, it seems that he is exhorting people to works of faith and love - and those who do not will receive judgment.

I rarely quote from Hebrews and I don’t like discussing Hebrews because I don’t interpret it the same way everyone else does. It doesn’t have anything to do with Calvinism. I’ve held this view of Hebrews for a long time.

Thus the need for one Truth.

The Church fathers (and Luther) want to leave Hebrews out. I kind of think it’s interesting that God would leave it in as a perpetual call to the Jews; a tad ironic.

I know a couple Fathers did, but not many. I don't know why Luther didn't like it - perhaps the unknown authorship? At any rate, I would agree that one of the purposes is a calling to the Jews, although I think that Romans 9-11 is more clear on that. However, the letter is written to Christians, so if it was an altar call to Jews, it was only in a secondary sense. The writer did not address the letter to Jewish communities, but to Christian ones. Thus, his primary purpose was to remind Christians of their own calling to Jesus Christ - and to not fall away (you can also look to Heb 3 and 4 for more on falling away).

Regards

2,589 posted on 02/13/2006 9:03:28 AM PST by jo kus
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To: jo kus
If you ONLY understand God's sovereignty without understanding at the same time man's free will to choose, you are living the Calvinism heresy of double predestination

Forget Calvinism for the moment. Forget predestination, man's free will, and everything else. What precisely is man choosing and how does he make this choice?

2,590 posted on 02/13/2006 9:09:34 AM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: jo kus; HarleyD; Forest Keeper
In each case, the presumption is made that an individual is ABLE to choose to do them or not. Thus, we have free will to choose or not choose to make God's Graces effective within us.

That "presumption" of yours is contraindicated over and over in Scripture.

"What 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;

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." -- Romans 3:9-12

You continue to deny Scripture by asserting that man can "choose" to act righteously in any way unless and until God turns his dead heart into a grateful recipient of His grace.

This is solely God's call, determined by Him from before the foundation of the world.

Or else we make ourselves into mini-gods who seek to become the final arbiters of our salvation by our "agreeing" to be saved.

"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

But 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." -- 1 Corinthians 2:10-14

Fallen man will never "choose" the things of God because they are spiritually discerned and dead men cannot "choose" to live.

Like Lazarus, we must be born again, by His will alone.

Does God know if you will sit with Him in heaven? Or is this unknown to God?

2,591 posted on 02/13/2006 10:00:19 AM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: HarleyD
What precisely is man choosing and how does he make this choice?

Man is choosing whether to do his own will or to do God's will as known through the Commandments, the Scriptures, or the precepts of the Church. The choice lays open to us. Now certainly, you would agree that our will and God's will can coincide, even those who are unregenerate. But in those cases where they differ (should I steal or not?), I contend that the choice exists between satisfying our own materials needs and purposes, or satisfying God's Will as it is made known to us.

Regards

2,592 posted on 02/13/2006 10:30:22 AM PST by jo kus
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To: jo kus
Man is choosing whether to do his own will or to do God's will as known through the Commandments, the Scriptures, or the precepts of the Church.

If that is the case, isn't it God who gives us our understanding and our desire to do His will?

2,593 posted on 02/13/2006 10:42:17 AM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: Kolokotronis; annalex
The Sacrament of Chrismation (Confirmation) immediately follows baptism and is never delayed until a later age. As the ministry of Christ was enlivened by the Spirit, and the preaching of the Apostles strengthened by the Spirit, so is the life of each Orthodox Christian sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Chrismation, which is often referred to as one's personal Pentecost, is the Sacrament which imparts the Spirit in a special way.

Thank you both very much for your answers on baptism and Chrismation. My first question to you, Kolo, was going to be "I know I remember my Catholic friends in school going to their confirmation classes, so..." :) But Alex already answered that one.

And if I may follow up, I was wondering if there was any counterpart to my sinner's prayer, the point at which one becomes a "believer". It sounds like for the Catholics, this might be the confirmation. After the classes and the rite are completed the person then knows enough of the basics and is able to give a reason for his faith, etc. Is that right? Is there anything like that for the Orthodox?

Perhaps another way to come at it is would you say there is any "need" for the sinner's prayer? I can't imagine you all would have any problem with saying a prayer and inviting Christ into your lives as Lord. But, is it needed, or is it not really needed because the same thing is already accomplished via sacrament? Is the idea of actively inviting Christ into our lives a part of your faiths? (Please don't take offense if this line is ridiculous. :)

2,594 posted on 02/13/2006 10:46:37 AM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
Regarding Romans 3:9-12, I disagree with your interpretation. Paul is not saying that all men are unrighteous. That would disagree with the very Psalms that he is quoting from in Romans 3! There are numerous people listed as being righteous by the Scripture, such as Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Joseph. The OT is full of them, including David. Thus, Paul cannot mean that no one is righteous. To better understand Paul, you have to go to where he quotes from, understanding the context of the OT. He writes to people who are well formed in the OT and are familiar with its context. Thus, he doesn't just proof text like you do. He transfers the meaning of the OT into his NT explanations.

In Romans 3, Paul is merely continuing what he said in Romans 2 and will continue in Romans 4 - that the Jews are NOT righteous due to their fleshy birth. Men and women are righteous as a result of being spiritually circumcised, as per the last verses of Romans 2. He is writing against proud Jews who believed they are saved because of their circumcision. Yet, Abraham was declared righteous BEFORE his circumcision - and Paul quotes a litany of verses that show the wickedness of David's opponents - ALL JEWS! It would be perfectly clear, then, that the early reader of Romans would know what Paul is saying (presuming you are aware of what Paul is quoting).

You continue to deny Scripture by asserting that man can "choose" to act righteously in any way unless and until God turns his dead heart into a grateful recipient of His grace.

That is false. I am denying YOUR INTERPRETATION of Scripture, not Scripture itself, as I note above. Your interpetations are incorrect, and were not held by any reader of the Scriptures until Luther came along and twisted Scriptures to follow his own theology. YOUR interpretation is NOT Scipture, nor is it inspired. There is absolutely no point in posting the many verses of Scripture that tells that "men will be judged based on their works" or "that men have set before them two choices" (Deut 30:15-17) God doesn't command people to do things that they cannot do without His help.

Or else we make ourselves into mini-gods who seek to become the final arbiters of our salvation by our "agreeing" to be saved.

Catholics don't consider themselves of the elect merely because we are baptised. That sounds more like something a Protestant would proclaim: "I'm saved - no matter what happens from now on"...

Fallen man will never "choose" the things of God because they are spiritually discerned and dead men cannot "choose" to live.

Sure they can; if Christ abides in me, ALL things are possible. Christ enables me to love, to have faith, and to be justified in God's eyes. After Baptism, I am no longer "dead" in sin, but alive IN CHRIST. As to that initial faith to come to the Lord, that is God, certainly and entirely. But it doesn't follow that I will be saved for eternal heaven because I had become baptised or said a sinner's prayer in 1995 or whatever.

Like Lazarus, we must be born again, by His will alone.

Lazarus was born again? Where is that in Scriptures?

Does God know if you will sit with Him in heaven? Or is this unknown to God?

It's known to Him, of course, but not to me.

Regards

2,595 posted on 02/13/2006 10:50:56 AM PST by jo kus
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To: HarleyD
If that is the case, isn't it God who gives us our understanding and our desire to do His will?

Phil 2:12-13 clearly tells us that God moves in us our will and desire to do what is pleasing to Him. But not infallibly, because men CAN refuse God's graces (and thus, they are evil and have chosen NOT to accept God's graces).

Regards

2,596 posted on 02/13/2006 10:54:01 AM PST by jo kus
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To: jo kus
Phil 2:12-13 clearly tells us that God moves in us our will and desire to do what is pleasing to Him. But not infallibly, because men CAN refuse God's graces

Phillipians simply states that God is at work in us for His good pleasure. Therefore we need to consider this in the lives we live. It doesn't state anywhere that men can refuse God's graces.

We are temples of the living God (1 Cor 3:16).
2,597 posted on 02/13/2006 11:37:07 AM PST by HarleyD ("Man's steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24)
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To: HarleyD
Phillipians simply states that God is at work in us for His good pleasure.

That's the second part. But what about "work out your salvation with fear and trembling"? Who is told to do that? By the very command to do it, it is implied that we can refuse it. The Scripture does tell us more clearly in other places that we can resist or reject God's graces:

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." 2 Cor 6:1-2

And who can forget the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13. This parable shows the interaction between God's graces and our nature and response to Him. Without the seed (grace), there can be NO life (in Christ), nothing worthy of eternal life. However, note the seed falls on 4 different soils - each indicative of men's response to the Word. Note the seed that falls on rocky ground... In any case, it is clear from Phil 2:12-13 that their is an interaction between God and man - and in other places, Scripture shows men refusing God's graces.

We are temples of the living God (1 Cor 3:16).

It doesn't say we are permanently so. Read the next verse - we can grieve the Holy Spirit by doing evil, or by willful sin.

"if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are. 1 Cor 3:17

Pretty clear that men CAN and DO fall away, after becoming Temples of the Holy Spirit...

Regards

2,598 posted on 02/13/2006 12:03:03 PM PST by jo kus
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To: jo kus
Paul is not saying that all men are unrighteous. That would disagree with the very Psalms that he is quoting from in Romans 3!

You mean these verses from Psalms?

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.

They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." -- Psalm 14:1-3

Or these verses from Psalms?

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." -- Psalm 53:1-3

The righteousness of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Joseph, David, you, me, Paul, anyone, it is all the same righteousness -- the imputed righteousness of Christ upon our sinning hearts.

Or else you claim it for yourself. "Ye shall be as gods."

Lazarus was born again? Where is that in Scriptures?

Now I understand our miscommunication. You must think Lazarus was just sleeping and not four days putrified until Christ caused him to live again. Christ went so far as to say He was "glad" He had waited so long to visit Lazarus that he had died in order to prove to His disciples that He was their only salvation.

"Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him." -- John 11:14-15

Baptism and the sinner's prayer have nothing to do with God predestining salvation on whomever He chooses, ordained by Him from before the foundation of the world.

It (our salvation) is known to Him, of course...

Of course? Then how can you change it?

ELECTION DEFINED

"The Canons of Dort state: "Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He hath, out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and foundation of salvation."

"And 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." -- Acts 13:48

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" -- 2 Timothy 1:9

"But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" -- Titus 3:4-5

"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day." -- Romans 11:5-8

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." -- Ephesians 1:5-12


2,599 posted on 02/13/2006 12:38:21 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: HarleyD; Forest Keeper

ping to 2599


2,600 posted on 02/13/2006 12:39:24 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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