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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: jo kus; Forest Keeper; Agrarian; HarleyD
[FK to kosta]: Given the choice, I'm just going to stick with what's in the Bible as being fact. I don't think it can hurt me in any spiritual way. Another benefit is that I will never have to wonder about which parts of the Bible are true and which parts are errors

[Jo kus to FK] The bible teaches theological truths, and science teaches observable truths. We don't have to leave our brain at the door to be a Christian. If science says that the earth revolves around the sun as the cause of night and day, do we refuse to believe it because it interferes with the Fundamentalist's concept of Scriptures?

Very well put, Jo. Science does not diminish spiritual truths of the Bible. Science does not diminish God. If anything science only reveals His greatness.

Because the Bible does not only reveal God's truth, but the knowledge of the world of its authors, there are factual "errors" in the Bible, such as the earth having a physical end, being flat and four-cornered; or bats being seen as birds, etc.

None of their own lack of knowledge of the world as we know it today (and none being their own fault) affect the eternal spiritual truth conveyed in the Bible. It is quite comforting to realize that the truth of God does not depend on how much we know of the world!

4,151 posted on 03/29/2006 2:26:12 PM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: Forest Keeper
I can't see the opposite of constraint as being slavery.

We should distinguish between legal constraint -- which ensures freedom and physical constraint -- which enslaves. Still if you remove law, you are left with rule of force and that means that some end up in chains.

Back to exegetics, the fundamental rule I am referring to is continuity of understanding since apostolic times. If, for example, one wants to read "all have sinned" in a way that makes Our Lady a sinner, he needs to not merely read the phrase itself, but also explain why no one for 1500 years read the passage in that way (early speculation of sinfulness of Mary were based on the verse where she did not appear to understand Christ's mission following His discovery in the temple). This tends to be the universal problem for Protestants, -- that apart from some very tendentious reading of St. Augustine, Protestant ideas have no patristic support.

4,152 posted on 03/29/2006 2:31:58 PM PST by annalex
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To: Forest Keeper; jo kus
Instead, it really means: "Who can forgive sins, but God only, or God's human designee."

You need to look at it in light of Matthew 16:19 (and 18:18): "And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."

In this you have Christ's promise to lend His Divine support to the acts of the Church.

4,153 posted on 03/29/2006 2:48:36 PM PST by annalex
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To: Forest Keeper; jo kus
Do Catholics believe that John the Baptist was sinless?

Yes, from birth, but but not from conception.

Now as the presence of any sin whatever is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul, it follows that at this moment [of Mary's visitation] John was cleansed from the stain of original sin.

Catholic Encyclopedia


4,154 posted on 03/29/2006 3:02:52 PM PST by annalex
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To: Forest Keeper
You are forced to completely re-write Mark 2:7 in order for it to conform to Catholicism

Once again, the idea of delegation of divine power is clear from the entire commission of the Apostles, and specifically, the power to bind and loose given the apostles.

4,155 posted on 03/29/2006 3:05:28 PM PST by annalex
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To: Forest Keeper
I think you mean that dogma is not possible because we just don't have the records to prove anything. Is that close?

Not at all, -- where are your getting this? Dogma is possible precisely because the Church possesses the Holy Tradition with which it can understand the inspired Scripture. It is with Sola Scriptura that dogma is not possible.

4,156 posted on 03/29/2006 3:08:39 PM PST by annalex
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To: jo kus; Dr. Eckleburg
Since ALL men sin over the course of their lives, these Jews, who are trying to earn their salvation by good deeds (without inner disposition of love) are failures.

Well, then what is the problem with Rom. 3:23? That agrees with you and me, ALL men sin over the course of their lives. That's what I have been saying.

It is not following the Law that makes one justified, it is turning one's heart to God - this, naturally, becomes a Law onto itself. ...

I basically agree with what you are saying about the two systems. And, I don't think I would lead my argument for the sinful nature with verses like Rom. 3:23, although I would use them in support. As I have posted before, there are other verses that more clearly prove that we are born with a sinful nature.

So because infant baptism is not explicitly mentioned, yet IS by the first Christians, it never happened - or it happened without permission of God!

I don't allege that I know that either is true for sure. I just know that the practice and the Catholic meaning attached to it are not supported by the Bible. Other practices and meanings are supported by the Bible. I know you say that there are plenty of writings that do support it outside of the Bible and they're fine if you want to believe in them. I just figure that I can't go wrong in sticking with the Bible. Besides, on this issue, since my daughter just had her believer's Baptism a few weeks ago, my whole family is covered either way. :)

We have an infallible teacher, the Pope. But many "catholics" believe something totally at odds with him, such as abortion. Having an infallible teacher doesn't mean people are "forced" to follow such teachings.

I appreciate that, and of course there are many Protestants who have the same false beliefs. I thought, but do not know for sure, that there were rules for those who so blatantly disobey the Church or the Pope. For example, I remember during the last Presidential cycle that there was an issue brought up that John Kerry should not be allowed to take communion because of his anti-Catholic views, which are all on record. Do you have an opinion on this type of thing?

FK: "Sola Scriptura has a solid foundation in scripture, which you have been shown."

You've shown me no such thing. I have given you verses that describe OTHER means of fully completing the Christian that doesn't mention Scriptures. Being "useful" doesn't make something the sole source of our faith, brother. And Sola Scriptura is actually ANTI-SCRIPTURAL, ...

You have been shown, but I admit I wasn't the first. I think it was Dr. Eckleburg who first posted Sola Scriptura by A.A. Hodge. In addition to that, here is an excerpt from an article that contrasts Protestant and Catholic views: Surprised by What? A Defense of Sola Scriptura by Jake MaGee :

"I find the assertion of Hahn and Sungenis entirely puzzling in light of the apostle Paul’s clear testimony to the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17; a Scripture that Protestants have always offered as definitive proof for Sola Scriptura. Let’s examine this passage in detail."

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness 16; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work 17” (NASB).

"First of all, Scriptures are described by Paul as being “inspired by God.” The phrase “inspired by God” is translated from the Greek word “theopneustos” which is literally rendered “God-breathed.” By this Paul is communicating that the very writings were breathed out of the mouth of God. Further, the authority that Scriptures do have is derived from the verity that the very words were spoken by God."

"Secondly, notice that Scriptures are “profitable.” No one in this debate disagrees about this statement. However, the text says that Scripture is profitable “for” one kind of thing “in order that” another kind of thing might be true. To put the matter formally, Scripture is profitable for x, in order that y. The variable x refers to “teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.” The variable y refers adequacy and equipping believers. It is the y that Protestants point to as a clear declaration in Scripture of its own sufficiency. Let’s look at verse 17 more closely."

"Paul says that Scripture can produce believers which are “adequate” and “equipped for every good work.” The TDNT defines “adequate” (artios) as “fitted, complete, perfect.” Bauer defines “adequate” as “complete, capable, proficient = able to meet all demands.” The TDNT defines “equipped” (exartizo) as “to complete, finish, to furnish perfectly, to accomplish” (1:475,80). Bauer also defines “equipped” as to “finish, complete...equip, furnish” (273)."

"These definitions point to the meaning of our English word “sufficiency.” To make this issue as clear as possible, let’s define and contrast the words “sufficiency” and “necessity.” To say that one thing is necessary for another is to say that without this condition in place the desired effect will not occur. For example, water is necessary for human life. That is, water is a condition without which human life could not exist. To say that a thing is “sufficient” is to say that this condition is all one needs. In the case of water, it is necessary but not sufficient for human life (for we need food in addition to water). If it were the case that water is both necessary and sufficient for human life, than food is irrelevant."

"Keeping all these definitions in mind, let’s restate 2 Tim 3:16-17:"

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (16); that the man of God may be complete and perfect, furnished perfectly for every good work and able to meet all demands (17).”

"The Authorized Version translates verse 17 the following way:"

“That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

"Now, if I say that Frank’s Furniture Farm is complete or adequate to furnish perfectly my house, I mean that I don’t need to go anywhere else. In other words, Frank’s Furniture Farm is sufficient, or good enough; no other store is necessary. In the same way, Paul is saying that Scripture is adequate and complete to perfectly furnish the believer to live life as God intends; nothing else needs to be added. In short, Scripture is necessary and sufficient. Contrary to Scott Hahn’s and Bob Sungenis’ assertion that “sola scriptura is simply not taught anywhere in the Bible, either explicitly or implicitly,” 2 Tim 3:16 &17 is as explicit and clear in its support of Sola Scriptura as John 1:1-3 is explicit and clear about Christ’s deity."

"This is important for our discussion, for the Catholic Church says that Scripture is insufficient; something does need to be added (i.e. tradition and Church interpretation). In keeping with our definitions, Scripture is not able to meet all demands. It is through the tradition and the authority of the church that we learn what else we need in order to do good works (e.g. the sacrament of penance, confession, the Eucharist, and apostolic succession). Without this addition to Scripture, a believer cannot be furnished perfectly for every good work. As a result, Protestant believers are missing out in what God wants for them, that is, they are not fully equipped. In light of this clear exegesis that demonstrates that Scripture, by itself, is sufficient to thoroughly furnish a believer for a life pleasing to God, the Roman Catholic apologist’s claim (that Sola Scriptura is a false doctrine that cannot be found either explicitly or implicitly is the Bible) must not be taken seriously."

4,157 posted on 03/29/2006 3:44:50 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: kosta50; Forest Keeper; Agrarian; HarleyD
None of their own lack of knowledge of the world as we know it today (and none being their own fault) affect the eternal spiritual truth conveyed in the Bible.

I agree. It is hardly likely that the writer of Genesis would have had any clue about quantitative physics, or that the earth was really round and rotated around the sun. God didn't need to reveal science to tell us how much He loved us and created out of nothing (well, that's not in the Protestant bible, sorry, it's in 2 Maccabees) and so forth...

Regards

4,158 posted on 03/29/2006 3:46:46 PM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: kosta50

"He inspired, He gave us the revelation; it is our gift; we need to take care of it. It is on us to preserve it, to safeguard it against corruption. But, alas, the originals have been lost! Imagine, the most precious things God gave us -- all lost. We lost them. God didn't."

It becomes clearer. You believe that the autographs are the only true Scriptures, and that all else is human contaminant. I'm surprised that you buy into the "autograph" approach.

Condemning the Church for losing the "originals" means that you think that the writers of Scripture knew at the time that they were writing Holy Scripture. I doubt very much that any of them had any idea of the kind.

Only after these useful writings had been circulated and copied and circulated would I imagine that the Church came to the conclusion that these were Holy Scripture. By that time, I wonder if anyone would even know which one was the autograph, or where it was, or whether it mattered.

True Scripture is what the Church has.


4,159 posted on 03/29/2006 4:11:05 PM PST by Agrarian
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To: Forest Keeper
Well, then what is the problem with Rom. 3:23? That agrees with you and me, ALL men sin over the course of their lives. That's what I have been saying.

That's not Paul's point - as I have explained in a post you have not responded to yet. I will await your answer there.

As I have posted before, there are other verses that more clearly prove that we are born with a sinful nature.

IF man = sin, then how did Jesus = man while remaining sinless? Then Jesus is NOT = man. If the definition of "Man" = sin, then you are still in sin, as Christ didn't become the Mediator.

I just figure that I can't go wrong in sticking with the Bible.

Which would you prefer? Part of God's revelation or all of it? That's how you are "going wrong".

I remember during the last Presidential cycle that there was an issue brought up that John Kerry should not be allowed to take communion because of his anti-Catholic views, which are all on record. Do you have an opinion on this type of thing?

Yes - but it isn't very charitable. I would hope that if people such as Kerry REALLY were concerned about their faith, they actually try to live it.

Regarding Sola Scriptura, I find it a self-destroying idea. Let's take a look again. However, IF I find another "rule of faith", another means of PERFECTING man, would that ALSO destroy the idea of "Sola" in Sola Scriptura? In other words, if the Bible itself mentions another means of learning God's revelation, wouldn't I have also defeated the concept of Sola Scriptura? I have already done this with Eph 4:11-13.

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints in the work of the ministry, unto [the] edifying of the body of the Christ until we all come forth in [the] unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the coming of age of the Christ: "

Clearly, the Bible ALONE is not the only means of building up the Body of Christ, to attain to perfection in man. This defeats Sola Scriptura, does it not? I don't understand why so many Catholic apologists overlook this approach, rather than the direct approach of attacking 2 Timothy. But let's look at what you have posted quickly...

I find the assertion of Hahn and Sungenis entirely puzzling in light of the apostle Paul’s clear testimony to the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17; a Scripture that Protestants have always offered as definitive proof for Sola Scriptura. Let’s examine this passage in detail."

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness ; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work ” (NASB)."

I have a Greek New Testament here, and here is what is written - directly...

"All writing God-breathed and helpful to teaching, to rebuking, to straightening, to instruction as a child the in rightness, that fit might be the of the God man, to all work good having been finished." (That is a DIRECT interpretation - it naturally doesn't flow off the tongue in English).

Let us focus on the word "helpful" or "profitable". You and your author are reading it is as "essential"! Look up in your handy Greek Concordance Strong #5624, ophelimos. This word in GREEK is an adjective that means "useful", "helpful", "profitable". Used as a verb, it means "assistance" or "benefit". Nowhere in Vines or my Greek Concordance do I find opheleia or ophelimos used to mean "necessary" or "essential" or "alone". Thus, your author's argument rapidly deflates into nothingness.

Sure the Bible is useful, profitable, and is an assistance to preaching and teaching the Word. But I tell you and your authors that they still are wrong. Nowhere does the Scripture mention Scripture as being "necessary" or the "sole rule of faith". Bluntly, this concept is a tradition of men that keeps men from the entire Truth that God revealed to the Apostles. Simple as that.

Regards

4,160 posted on 03/29/2006 4:23:07 PM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: jo kus; HarleyD
Miracles still happen today - but we are not required to believe in them.

You are if you want to make someone a saint! :) This happens all the time, so you must hold many recent miracles as genuine.

I never said I didn't believe in the Virgin Birth - I said science cannot prove or disprove it. It is a statement of faith, which, as a Catholic, I accept.

Since they did not have in vitro technology, why can't science disprove a virgin birth 2000 years ago?

4,161 posted on 03/29/2006 5:11:51 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Agrarian
You believe that the autographs are the only true Scriptures, and that all else is human contaminant

Did God not decide to drown the whole human lot because of "contamination?" Did Adam and Eve not get banished from the Garden because they contaminated God's Creation that he made good? Did God not declare a New Covenant because the Old one was not "without fault?" Whose fault was it? Not God's. Did the Hebrews not go back and forth to their pagan gods after their Exodus? Did they not reject Christ? Did not +Paul sent epistles to "contaminated" Christians as early as 60 AD (27 years after Christ died)? Did not +Ireneaeus have to fight a Herculean battle with heresies as early as the second century AD? Did not the Church sweat 300years to remove false "sctriptures" from circulation? Did not the Church call eight Ecumenical Councils in a matter of 500 years to deal with "contaminations" (heresies)? Do we not have different Bibles?

Where is there evidence that there is anything humans do that is eternal, unchaining and not subject to decay? Do we not go to repeated confessions and confess the same errors over and over even though we may sincerely repent of them? How can dirty hands not soil clean linen? Do we not believe that only the Ever-Virgin Mary was without sin?

How can we assume that omissions, additions, deletions, discrepancies and other biblical inconsistencies as being of no consequence? Can we really say we believe with anything but imperfect knowledge? Surely, Christ did not deliver imperfect faith. We made it imperfect.

Condemning the Church for losing the "originals" means that you think that the writers of Scripture knew at the time that they were writing Holy Scripture. I doubt very much that any of them had any idea of the kind

I am sure we could say that in their humility they accepted their task but did not boast about it. +John knew what he was writing. He even says that Christ commanded him to do so. +Paul knew what happened to him and what mission he was chosen to do for God. Did Moses know what he was writing? I would say yes, he knew. Surely, the Gospels were written to convey a message of the New Covenant. They were not written as a historical account, as Josephus would have written about it.

The Gospels were not controversial because they were narratives. +Paul's Epistles were already interpretations. As theology based on the New Covenant developed, so did heresies, differences, disagreements, additions, deletions, choosing MT over LXX, diverging Christology, rejection of CHalcedon, etc. All the way to the present day, Agrarian.

Last Sunday, my OCA Church proudly served bagels with cheese and egg sandwiches. When I, after first thanking them for their effort, politely reminded the kitchen volunteers that cheese and eggs are animal products and that we are half-way through Great Lent (the priest calls in only Lent, however), I was told "we are not monks." Yes, Agrarian, our faith is heavily contaminated and it is a real wonder that it even survived this long.

4,162 posted on 03/29/2006 5:57:52 PM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: jo kus; Forest Keeper; Agrarian; HarleyD
God didn't need to reveal science to tell us how much He loved us

Exactly.

...well, that's not in the Protestant bible, sorry, it's in 2 Maccabees...

Right again.

4,163 posted on 03/29/2006 6:00:01 PM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50; HarleyD; jo kus; Agrarian; Kolokotronis
When he (Galilleo) showed that, by brilliant observations of Venus, that it was the Sun that didn't move, he was accused of "vehement heresy" and -- thanks only to his advanced age and fame -- sentenced to house arrest, having been exhonorated by the Catholic Church only in the 1992, after 350 years of official censure.

HA! And now we "know" that we do not live in a heliocentric universe, and that the sun does indeed move, it revolves around the Milky Way, which itself is also moving. Cornell University So much for the science before Galileo, so much for some of his science now, and who knows about the future? Every generation thinks its scientists have finally "figured it out". Only God is a sure thing, but you still choose ever changing science in matters of fact.

4,164 posted on 03/29/2006 6:39:40 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: jo kus; Forest Keeper

"Let us focus on the word "helpful" or "profitable". You and your author are reading it is as "essential"! Look up in your handy Greek Concordance Strong #5624, ophelimos. This word in GREEK is an adjective that means "useful", "helpful", "profitable". Used as a verb, it means "assistance" or "benefit". Nowhere in Vines or my Greek Concordance do I find opheleia or ophelimos used to mean "necessary" or "essential" or "alone". Thus, your author's argument rapidly deflates into nothingness."

He's right, FK. The words have absolutely no connotation of necessity or singularity. That made up translation does fit well with Protestant theology though.


4,165 posted on 03/29/2006 6:47:35 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: AlbionGirl; Dr. Eckleburg; HarleyD
[Rev. Spurgeon imagining an Arminian prayer:] "Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself; I have improved my grace. If everybody had done the same with their grace that I have, they might all have been saved. Lord, I know thou dost not make us willing if we are not willing ourselves. Thou givest grace to everybody; some do not improve it, but I do. There are many that will go to hell as much bought with the blood of Christ as I was; they had as much of the Holy Ghost given to them; they had as good a chance, and were as much blessed as I am. It was not thy grace that made us to differ; I know it did a great deal, still I turned the point; I made use of what was given me, and others did not-that is the difference between me and them."

Wow, AlbionGirl. This is scary. I have seen all of this on this thread in one form or another. Most of the time, it has been exactly like Spurgeon puts it here. I guess the arguments really don't change all that much over time. Thank you for posting this.

4,166 posted on 03/29/2006 7:29:59 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Forest Keeper; HarleyD; jo kus; Agrarian; Kolokotronis
And now we "know" that we do not live in a heliocentric universe, and that the sun does indeed move, it revolves around the Milky Way, which itself is also moving. Cornell University So much for the science before Galileo, so much for some of his science now, and who knows about the future? Every generation thinks its scientists have finally "figured it out". Only God is a sure thing, but you still choose ever changing science in matters of fact

Well, it's a step ahead of biblical bats being called fowl, or mustard seed being the smallest seed or mustard plant a tree.

Clearly, Christ could not have uttered those words because neither is the mustard seed the smallest nor is the mustard plant a tree. I can understand that the authors of the Gospels didn't know, but Christ of course knew. But the parable is spiritually as profitable today as it was back then.

My point was that people who felt that science was "evil" and "false" accused a brilliant man of "vehement heresy" and anathematized him for 350 years.

The fact is that science continually discovers new things In God's Creation. He made it for us to marvel His creativity, beauty and power. We may not know everything, but what we do know is not a subject to "mystery" or miracle. What science discovers is called progress, FK. The motion of the Sun around the Milky Way's periphery is not the same as saying the earth stands still and all of creation turns around us.

Next time you get sick, please don't call a doctor. In fact, don't even use Internet, or cell phones, or fly by airplanes. Obviously, all of these are scientific "traps" that belie the truth. The truth is, of course, that bats are fowl because the Bible says so, right?

4,167 posted on 03/29/2006 7:59:11 PM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50

"Did God not decide to drown the whole human lot because of "contamination?""

I thought you believed that this was just a fable.

"Did Adam and Eve not get banished from the Garden because they contaminated God's Creation that he made good?"

I thought you believed that this was just a myth.

"Did the Hebrews not go back and forth to their pagan gods after their Exodus?"

I thought that these histories were all just made-up stories and riddled with falsehoods, contradictions, and errors, and that Moses and the Exodus didn't actually happen, according to the modern scholars you put your faith in.

"Did not +Paul sent epistles to "contaminated" Christians as early as 60 AD (27 years after Christ died)?"

Aren't you aware that modern scholarship dates the epistles attributed to Paul as being much later than that, and as having been extensively doctored by the church in subsequent centuries, if not actually concocted out of thin air?

"Did not +Ireneaeus have to fight a Herculean battle with heresies as early as the second century AD?"

St. Irenaeus was naive enough to believe in the historical accuracy of the Bible. Why should you even refer to him?

"Did not the Church sweat 300years to remove false "sctriptures" from circulation?"

What would be the big deal about that, since they are all contaminated and full of human errors and alterations. And what made them false? The Scriptures we do have falsely represent themselves as telling narratives of things that happened, even though you have assured us that probably none of it really happened -- they are just stories of "spiritual truth." Which ones are really the false Scriptures, and why would you care?

"Did not the Church call eight Ecumenical Councils in a matter of 500 years to deal with "contaminations" (heresies)?"

Why would you pay any attention to the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils? They were held and argued by men who actually believed the Scriptures to be true. And why should the decrees of the Councils be reliable and believable if the Scriptures they appealed to are not?

"Do we not believe that only the Ever-Virgin Mary was without sin?"

How on earth could you possibly know such a thing? Is it not more likely that the Church's stories about her are just meant to convey spiritual truth? How do we even know that she even existed? Probably she was just a spiritual story meant to inspire us in some way.

"+John knew what he was writing. He even says that Christ commanded him to do so."

So Christ commanded St. John to write his Gospel? How could that be, since St. John writes about "the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph." We all know that based on modern Biblical scholarship that neither Jacob nor Joseph really existed, and yet St. John doesn't say "according to myth and legend" -- he just states it as a fact. Christ told St. John to lie?

"Did Moses know what he was writing? I would say yes, he knew."

Really? Surely you are aware (as I learned from you) that Moses didn't really exist. You certainly, with your extensive knowledge of Biblical scholarship must know that modern scholars are in full agreement that the books attributed to Moses were not written by him, and that such a man probably never existed. Surely you accept the JEPD theory, if you accept all of the other things modern scholars say about the Old Testament.

"...choosing MT over LXX..."

Why wouldn't you choose the MT? Modern scholarship is united that the LXX is hopelessly corrupt compared to the MT. I'm surprised that you even give the LXX the time of day.

"The Gospels were not controversial because they were narratives."

What do you mean, they weren't controversial? Of course they were. You yourself continually point out that the only way we can believe them is to accept them only as spiritual truth, since we can't rely on the truth of the facts -- even the fact of Christ's bodily resurrection, which may very well be a myth that only is a story about a spiritual truth.

"Last Sunday, my OCA Church proudly served bagels with cheese and egg sandwiches. When I, after first thanking them for their effort, politely reminded the kitchen volunteers that cheese and eggs are animal products and that we are half-way through Great Lent (the priest calls in only Lent, however), I was told "we are not monks." Yes, Agrarian, our faith is heavily contaminated and it is a real wonder that it even survived this long."

So let me get this straight. You will call into question the truth and reliability of the narratives recounted in the Scriptures, and you mock those who treat them as such, calling them ignorant. And yet, you would criticize and judge people (to their face) who eat eggs and cheese during Great Lent -- even when you have made a point about saying that Orthodox fasting guidelines are entirely the creation of men?


4,168 posted on 03/29/2006 10:11:48 PM PST by Agrarian
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To: Forest Keeper; annalex

What annalex is saying, I think, is that just as the Scriptures were not written in a vacuum, they were never interpreted in a vacuum.

The Apostles knew the fullness of the context and understanding in which the NT was written, and they passed that understanding to their followers.

While it is much more that this, Holy Tradition at the very least is the context in which the Scriptures were and are interpreted and understood.

It would never occur to devout Catholics or Orthodox to question things like the Virgin Birth of Christ or the bodily Resurrection of Christ. This is because our tradition is unequivocal on these points -- we know that there is no other way for the Scriptures to be interpreted, not if we want to call ourselves Catholics or Orthodox Christians.


4,169 posted on 03/29/2006 10:29:46 PM PST by Agrarian
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To: annalex; Agrarian; kosta50; HarleyD; Dr. Eckleburg; AlbionGirl; jo kus; Kolokotronis
The reason is that I knew enough of the film to realize that it is not a narrative movie like some others, but rather, exactly as you say, an experience.

Thank you for the story, Alex, and for the artwork. I went and paid to see "The Passion" in the theater twice. (The only other film I can say that about was the original "Star Wars", when I was 11. :)

It was one of the last memorable things I did with my father, who died 5 months later. He was a relatively new Christian at the time, so I am so thankful that we got to do that together. It really was surreal sitting in a packed theater watching this film. It wasn't that nobody talked, it was that nobody moved. And, just as was the case the first time I saw it, that continued after it was over. Even as the credits started rolling, I'd say that less than 10% of the audience made any attempt to get up. We all just sat there, many of us still shedding tears. It was absolutely amazing. I'll never forget it. Even after we all got into the car, it was probably a full 5 minutes of silence before anyone said anything. And in my family, that's saying something. :)

4,170 posted on 03/29/2006 10:46:50 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Swordmaker; annalex
I think it is obvious from his comments that he [Pope John Paul II] believed the Shroud of Turin to be authentic... but he did not declare it so.

I completely agree, it appears exactly that way. I don't think I've ever seen a contemporary Papal writing before, so it was interesting to see the writing style. Thank you very much for your answer, and nice to meet you. :) Thank you also, Alex, for pinging Swordmaker.

4,171 posted on 03/30/2006 2:40:12 AM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Kolokotronis
I went to a Protestant service once. As I remember it, the preacher quoted from the bible a couple or three times and spent the rest of his 45 minute sermon fulminating with his own ideas about what the scripture meant.

I'm sorry you had that experience. I can really only speak for my own church, and it doesn't go that way at all, even if one disagrees with the theology. From my point of view it has always been consistent within itself.

4,172 posted on 03/30/2006 3:07:57 AM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Agrarian
And yet, you would criticize and judge people (to their face) who eat eggs and cheese during Great Lent -- even when you have made a point about saying that Orthodox fasting guidelines are entirely the creation of men?

Yes, Agrarian, in their face, just as their gesture was. Most people talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. And, again, yes, the fasting guidelines of the Church are a mad-made creation. That would be right, as they say.

I will not grace the rest of your post with an answer. Spiritually, the Bible is real, true and inerrant, just as love is real, but no one has seen it. Your mockery of my faith, simply because it does not fit your pre-fab Orthodoxy, says volumes abut who you really are, and your reply was quite pathetic I must admit. As for me, I shall confess my doubts in peace and seek answers as long as I live.

4,173 posted on 03/30/2006 3:41:19 AM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: Forest Keeper
You are if you want to make someone a saint! :) This happens all the time, so you must hold many recent miracles as genuine.

Even those I am not REQUIRED to believe. The Church states that there is substantial and reasonable evidence to prove that a miracle took place. But as a Catholic, I am not absolutely required to place my faith in private miracles, even those declared suitable for belief by the faithful. Personally, if the Church has examined such claims suffiiciently, then I would go along with their findings. However, there is always room for some doubt on such matters BEFORE that happens - there are too many phonies out there.

Since they did not have in vitro technology, why can't science disprove a virgin birth 2000 years ago?

How are you going to disprove it? It was not observed by science. All of science's hypothesis, laws and theorums are based on observation. Using observation, they come to a conclusion on what will LIKELY happen in a similar circumstance, either from the past or the future. Since science did not observe and record the Christ's conception, science cannot disprove anything. They base their theories on presumptions of observation of other similar events - which doesn't mean that a unique event could happen that is outside of their observational datum.

Regards

4,174 posted on 03/30/2006 4:08:30 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: Kolokotronis
The words have absolutely no connotation of necessity or singularity. That made up translation does fit well with Protestant theology though.

Thanks for verifying. I was going to "carbon copy" you that post to verify, since I don't speak Greek, but I sent it before I put your name in the "to" line.

Brother in Christ

4,175 posted on 03/30/2006 4:12:13 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: Forest Keeper
"Lord, I thank thee I am not like those poor presumptuous Calvinists Lord, I was born with a glorious free-will; I was born with power by which I can turn to thee of myself..." (emphasis added for you)

This is scary. I have seen all of this on this thread in one form or another. Most of the time, it has been exactly like Spurgeon puts it here. I guess the arguments really don't change all that much over time. Thank you for posting this.

Thanks for letting us know we have been wasting our time trying to tell you that we don't come to God alone about a thousand times...

If you can't defeat an argument, then belittle the other side and misrepresent their argument, so you can bash the scarecrow all day long and feel good about it. I hope you are feeling better now.

4,176 posted on 03/30/2006 4:18:11 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: jo kus
But the question is - "do all who make the Sinner's Prayer members of the elect"? I agree with what you have said, but that does not lead to the question that I ask.

I do not think that all who say the Sinner's Prayer are of the elect because only God can determine who His elect are. Nothing we can do will change that. Therefore, some who say the prayer are pretenders.

All who follow Christ's voice are not necessarily His sheep. One must persevere and continue to follow His voice. Following it for a few years and then not following His voice does not make you a follower of Christ when Judgment comes.

But that does not seem to match scripture. I would say that the only way it could be possible for anyone to recognize Christ's voice would be through grace. Does this mean that God stops His grace for some, but not others? Or, in the alternative, is God's grace so weak that it can be overridden by man's whim? John 10 does not read like this at all to me. For example:

John 10:8-9 : 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

Whoever enters will be saved. Therefore, the gate is closed to those who will not be saved. There is no room in Christ's fold for those who are not His sheep. They will not hear His voice because they will never pass through the gate. In addition, if Christ lets those who are not His sheep into His fold for a while, wouldn't that make Him a thief? Shepherds only allow their own sheep into their own pens. One is a thief if he allows other sheep in. Under your system, the analogy completely breaks down here.

John 10:14-15 : 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. (emphasis added)

Problem number 2. Jesus only lays down His life for His sheep, not the pretend sheep who later leave. Clearly, Jesus lays down His life only for the sheep who KNOW HIM.

4,177 posted on 03/30/2006 8:20:10 AM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Forest Keeper; AlbionGirl; HarleyD
I guess the arguments really don't change all that much over time.

Isn't that a striking truth? We read the arguments here on the religion forum and they're surprisingly similar to debates centuries ago.

Either men are rewarded with salvation according to their works or God gives salvation according to His mercy alone.

"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." -- Isaiah 42:16

4,178 posted on 03/30/2006 8:49:49 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: Forest Keeper
I do not think that all who say the Sinner's Prayer are of the elect because only God can determine who His elect are. Nothing we can do will change that. Therefore, some who say the prayer are pretenders.

I agree. One could be considered "saved", but I don't define "saved" as being of the elect. Just like I don't define being healed of a sickness as being invunerable to future sickness. I won't ask the follow up question, as then we'd start that awful cycle again...

But that does not seem to match scripture. {One must persevere and continue to follow His voice.} I would say that the only way it could be possible for anyone to recognize Christ's voice would be through grace. Does this mean that God stops His grace for some, but not others? Or, in the alternative, is God's grace so weak that it can be overridden by man's whim?

Perseverance is not found in Scriptures? I'll get back to that in a second. But your other comments: yes, we only recognize God's voice through grace. No, God's grace never "stops" falling on men - but as we have discussed about wicked men and Romans 3/Psalm 14 et. al - the wicked man will utterly REFUSE to accept this grace. God's grace is not 'weak', but God gave us the ability to choose. We have a familial relationship with God, not so much a legal relationship. Thus, God doesn't desire to force us to "choose" Him. He calls to us, deeply desiring for us to turn to Him, while He gives us opportunity and tools to do just that. Regarding man's "whim", your wife could have overridden your "offer that she couldn't refuse" as well. In the subject of love, it takes a giving of one's self to the other, not a forcible and necessary choice for the other's perceived "good".

Now, back to perseverance. This is what our Lord and Savior HIMSELF taught regarding the possibility of falling away:

Matt. 7:18 - Jesus says that sound trees bear good fruit. But there is no guarantee that a sound tree will stay sound. It could go rotten.

Matt. 7:21 - all those who say "Lord, Lord" on the last day will not be saved. They are judged by their evil deeds.

Matt. 12:30-32 - Jesus says that he who is not with Him is against Him, therefore (the Greek for "therefore" is "dia toutos" which means "through this") blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. This means that failing to persevere in Jesus' grace to the end is the unforgivable sin against the Spirit. We must persevere in faith to the end of our lives.

Matt. 22:14 - Jesus says many are called but few are chosen. This man, who was destined to grace, was at God's banquet, but was cast out.

Luke 8:13 - Jesus teaches that some people receive the word with joy, but they have no root, believe for a while, and then fall away in temptation. They had the faith but they lost it.

Luke 12:42-46 - we can start out as a faithful and wise steward, then fall away and be assigned to a place with the unfaithful.

Luke 15:11-32 – in the parable of the prodigal son, we learn that we can be genuine sons of the Father, then leave home and die, then return and be described as "alive again."

John 6:70-71 - Jesus chose or elected twelve, yet one of them, Judas, fell. Not all those predestined to grace persevere to the end.

John 15:1-10 - we can be in Jesus (a branch on the vine), and then if we don't bear fruit, are cut off, wither up and die. Paul makes this absolutely clear in Rom. 11:20-23.

John 17:12 - we can be given to Jesus by the Father (predestined to grace) and yet not stay with Jesus, like Judas.

John 6:37 - those who continue to come to Jesus He won't cast out. But it's a continuous, ongoing action. We can leave Jesus and He will allow this because He respects our freewill.

John 6:39 - Jesus will not lose those the Father gives Him, but we can fall away, like Judas. God allows us not to persevere.

John 6:40 - everyone who sees the Son and believes means the person "continues" to believe. By continuing to believe, the person will persevere and will be raised up. Belief also includes obedience, which is more than an intellectual belief in God.

John 6:44 - Jesus says no one can come to me unless the Father "draws" him. This "drawing" is an ongoing process.

John 10:27-28 - when Jesus says, "no one shall snatch them out of my hands," He does not mean we can't leave His hands. We can choose to walk away from Him.

Rev. 2:4-5 – Jesus tells the Ephesians that they abandoned the love they had at first and have fallen. Jesus warns them to repent and do the works they did at first, otherwise He will remove their lampstand (their awaited place in heaven).

Rev. 3:4 - in Sardis, Jesus explained that some people received the white garment and soiled it with sin.

Rev. 3:5 - Jesus says whoever conquers will not be blotted out of the book of life (see Exodus 32:33). This means that we can be blotted out of the book of life. We can have salvation, and then lose salvation by our choice.

Rev. 3:11 - Jesus says to hold fast to what we have, so that no one may seize our crown. Jesus teaches us that we can have the crown of salvation and lose it.

Rev. 13:10; 14:12 - we are called from heaven for the endurance and faith of the saints, keeping the commandments and faith.

Rev. 21:7 - we must conquer in order to share in our heritage and become a true son of Jesus.

Rev. 22:19 - we can have a share in the tree of life in God's holy city and yet have that share taken away from us.

This is taken from www.scripturecatholic.com

There is even longer list, if you also consider the writings of Paul and the rest of the NT. Brother, we CAN fall away, there is no doubt on that. The elect cannot, but NO ONE knows who that is in this life.

Whoever enters will be saved. Therefore, the gate is closed to those who will not be saved. There is no room in Christ's fold for those who are not His sheep. They will not hear His voice because they will never pass through the gate. In addition, if Christ lets those who are not His sheep into His fold for a while, wouldn't that make Him a thief? Shepherds only allow their own sheep into their own pens. One is a thief if he allows other sheep in. Under your system, the analogy completely breaks down here.

First, the gate is NOT closed - it doesn't say that! It says ONLY the "sheep" will enter, presumably, the elect. Second, you are saying that only those who FIRST enter the sheepfold THEN hear the voice of Christ. Again, it doesn't say that, either! Christ doesn't "let" anyone into the sheepfold "for awhile". You are trying to equate entering the gate as the moment you proclaimed YOURSELF of the elect. Only the elect will enter through Christ. The rest will either try to enter "through another way" or not make the "effort" to enter the sheepfold. A thief is one who enters the sheepfold without going through the gate. That is clear from the verses. These verses are about the elect, not every Christian who proclaims "Lord, Lord". If you are not abiding in Christ, today or tommorrow, you are not going to enter the sheepfold. Only those who abide in Christ will enter.

If anyone's analogy breaks down, it would be yours - as then you would have "goats" entering into the sheepfold - then having Christ toss some of them out - while the Scripture tells us ONLY the SHEEP enter the sheepfold. Nothing else. Thus, ALL Christians are not entering the sheepfold. Only the elect. Here is where the virtue of hope and perseverance comes into play.

By the way, did you notice that it was the sheep who entered the sheepfold, and that the Shepherd did not lasso and drag them in through the gate???

Problem number 2. Jesus only lays down His life for His sheep, not the pretend sheep who later leave. Clearly, Jesus lays down His life only for the sheep who KNOW HIM.

Jesus died for ALL men, that is clear from other verses. That Jesus lays down His life ONLY for the sheep is another way of saying that only the sheep will benefit from Christ's death. Goats will not utilize the graces and gifts given to them. Thus, in a sense, Christ's death is only effective for the sheep. It is an opportunity for ALL men, just as Adam's sin was a curse for ALL men.

Regards

4,179 posted on 03/30/2006 8:59:50 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg; Forest Keeper; AlbionGirl; HarleyD
Either men are rewarded with salvation according to their works or God gives salvation according to His mercy alone.

Before making such comments, you'd be advised to actually read the other "side's" arguments. Nowhere does anyone say, on this 4000 post thread, that we are saved by works...Beating that scarecrow seems to be a habit here.

First, it's "People who believe in free will say that they come to God alone by their own power". Now, it's "you guys believe that you are saved by works and not by the grace of God".

This is a large part of why "these debates are surprisingly similar to debates centuries ago". You refuse to contemplate the other's point of view and prefer to paint us with a theology that no one has ever espoused here.

4,180 posted on 03/30/2006 9:07:31 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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Comment #4,181 Removed by Moderator

To: Dr. Eckleburg; Forest Keeper; HarleyD
People killed each other over these arguments, in the most vicious, brutal and dishonorable of ways, so we must at least thank God that as we post to these threads no one need commence building a porch and acquiring a 12-gauge.

Great men like Tertullian were anathematized because they dared to reject, body and soul, the mechanical Christianity they saw en route. His art was the only thing that preserved his memory from being sent whirling down the memory hole.

I'm starting to become mindful of the fact that Easter approaches quickly, and I ask the Good Lord to stamp out any doubt that lurks in my heart or lingers in my mind, and that temptingly whispers, ' the Resurrection: it's only a tale to deaden the knowledge that immortality of the soul is a lie.'

4,182 posted on 03/30/2006 9:21:50 AM PST by AlbionGirl (God made the Gate so narrow. No man has the right to make it more narrow still.)
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To: jo kus; Dr. Eckleburg; Forest Keeper; HarleyD

jo kus, the point of my original post is that no matter the differences of opinion regarding the issue of whether the will is truly free or enslaved, nearly everyone (free-willer or not) prays as if it all depends on God, and that that is significant.


4,183 posted on 03/30/2006 9:25:13 AM PST by AlbionGirl (God made the Gate so narrow. No man has the right to make it more narrow still.)
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To: jo kus
Whether God "plans around us" or plans "simultaneously" with our actions, who can really say.

I still don't see how "simultaneity" can have any meaning for us humans. But, if God plans around us then His sovereignty is destroyed. Of course God would have the power to do it if He chose, but it would necessarily make Him weaker. That would allow the creation to lead the creator.

How is God DEPENDENT upon us, then???

He is dependent if He takes into account His foreknowledge of our decisions into His decision to elect us. Regardless of whether God is subject to time, He acts in time as far as we can comprehend. If not, then there is no longer any need for discussion, and you cannot claim to be right because the true answer is unknowable. That would raise all of my views on predestination to a par with your views because the true answer cannot be known.

4,184 posted on 03/30/2006 10:19:16 AM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: jo kus; Forest Keeper
Nowhere does the Scripture mention Scripture as being "necessary" or the "sole rule of faith".

Moreover, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is written by St. Paul to a consecrated bishop and recommends the study of scripture to a "man of God". This passage can as soon be used to prooftext that only bishops should read the scripture.

4,185 posted on 03/30/2006 10:21:01 AM PST by annalex
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To: Agrarian; Forest Keeper; kosta50
While it is much more that this, Holy Tradition at the very least is the context in which the Scriptures were and are interpreted and understood.

Which, incidentally, is the key to your circuitous dispute with Kosta about inerrancy of the scripture. The scripture uses verbal images to convey elements of the Holy Tradition. It is in the nature of verbal communication that idiomatics get in the way, and imperfection of human memory gets in the way. When Christ speaks of mustard seed and mustard tree, the Tradition is very clear: it is an idiomatic expression of the essence of faith, and not a botany lesson. Likewise, when the family composition of a biblical patriarch is mentioned, the Tradition does not stumble over what most likely is a human error of recollection. But when you divorce the Scripture from Tradition, the imperfections of the verbal form of expression become noticeable. It is not unlike the Russian peasants replacing priceless ancient icons in their possession with modern kitsch because the old ones were pockmarked and the paint peeled off here and there. If he valued the icon because it is from Granddad, he would love it for the pockmarks all the more. When the Granddad is forgotten, the icon is viewed as painting and personal preference for brighter colors and realistic shading takes over.

Modernity: Gallileo, medical science, zoological taxonomies, the sola scriptura superstition, are all the wrong light in which the scripture should not be viewed. "Mustard is the tallest tree" is an inerrant statement in its context and in the light of the Tradition. Pasted into a botany book is it erroneous. So? You cannot study anatomy from iconographers either.

4,186 posted on 03/30/2006 10:52:11 AM PST by annalex
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To: jo kus; HarleyD; AlbionGirl; Forest Keeper; qua
You refuse to contemplate the other's point of view

On the contrary, most of us once held "the other's point of view" in varying forms and degrees.

But thankfully, we've come to regard salvation as all of God and none of man.

It's a lot less stressful and profoundly reassuring.

Christ's death and resurrection accomplished what none of us could do. He acquitted us of our sins and made us acceptable to God.

The rest is postscript.

4,187 posted on 03/30/2006 10:52:20 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: AlbionGirl
jo kus, the point of my original post is that no matter the differences of opinion regarding the issue of whether the will is truly free or enslaved, nearly everyone (free-willer or not) prays as if it all depends on God, and that that is significant.

OK. I am reminded of a line by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.

"Pray as if everything depended on God."

"Do as if everything depended on you."

Sorry if I didn't catch your meaning from your original post.

Regards

4,188 posted on 03/30/2006 11:19:15 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: annalex; Agrarian; Forest Keeper
The scripture uses verbal images to convey elements of the Holy Tradition. It is in the nature of verbal communication that idiomatics get in the way, and imperfection of human memory gets in the way... When the Granddad is forgotten, the icon is viewed as painting and personal preference for brighter colors and realistic shading takes over.

Exactly. Biblical truth is in its spiritual message, not in the hard-facts. Thus, if we assume that everything is exactly the way the Scripture says, then we must assume that either (a) God did not say mustard seed is the smallest seed and mustard tree is the tallest tree (because it is neither), or that (b) God didn't tell the truth. Yet, when taken in its proper spiritual context of the message being conveyed it really doesn't matter if botanically the statement "fits."

Let me just say this: faith is not only an encounter with God, but our relationship to God, our interaction with God on His terms. It is not a history lesson. What matters is how Christ-(un)like we are no matter how much we quote the Scripture.

Love is not something we can see, yet we know it exists; it is real. How doe we know it's real? Trough its manifestations. Love manifests itself in acts of mercy, gifts, sacrifice, etc. It is always indirect, it is always an expression of an invisible but very present and real, true and unchaining entity we know as love. It had nothing whatsoever to do with science, history or genetics.

We know God as real presence in our lives through His blessings, and through the message, the "essence" of Scripture. We must never use Scirpture to explain the world, or to deny it.

4,189 posted on 03/30/2006 11:22:59 AM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50; Agrarian
Biblical truth is in its spiritual message, not in the hard-facts

No, you cannot say that and leave it at that, this is where both Agrarian and I hit the ceiling. Biblical truth is whatever the Tradition teaches. If it teaches a hard fact then the truth is in the hard fact. "And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven" (Matthew 16:19). This means that if the Church says that 2 x 2 = 5 then Christ will make it 5, hard truth.

4,190 posted on 03/30/2006 11:31:43 AM PST by annalex
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To: Forest Keeper
But, if God plans around us then His sovereignty is destroyed.

God MADE us in His image - which means we have been given a rational intellect and a will. No other visible creature has that. So HOW is God's sovereignty taken away if He made us this way? Are you saying God now regrets giving us too much control over His actions?

God's sovereignty is NOT destroyed by ANYTHING we do! That's like saying a fly on the table is controlling my sovereignty because I choose not to crush it...Does that make me "weaker"? Am I dependent on the fly??? Your argument is not making sense - and in regards to God and man, the void is even greater than a fly and myself.

He is dependent if He takes into account His foreknowledge of our decisions into His decision to elect us.

"Dependency" in this case presumes time. Is God "planning" what to do with us within time? No, He is outside of time. He has access to ALL time at once. It is only from our point of view that it appears that God would be dependent on man's actions. Your position that God does not view man's response before electing someone is certainly within the realm of Catholic teaching's flexiblility on the matter. I am "trying" to see things from how God would see them outside of time, since He is the point of reference in this discussion, not man. A being outside of time does not have a past or future. Thus, there is no "waiting" to make a decision, no dependence on what we do, and no guessing or hoping that we fulfill His plan. All time is compressed into one moment. To go beyond this is a mystery - and probably, I have gone too far in this conversation. :)

Regards

4,191 posted on 03/30/2006 11:32:16 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
On the contrary, most of us once held "the other's point of view" in varying forms and degrees. But thankfully, we've come to regard salvation as all of God and none of man.

Now, you are changing what you wrote in your last post from "salvation by works vs. salvation by grace" to, "God does all and we do nothing". These two ideas are NOT synonymous. I presume that by a "work", you don't mean "love"? You think you will be saved without love? I am curious to know if you believe that we are created in the image of God or the image of a domesticated and trained puppet. Perhaps rather than posting Scripture verses or other people's writings, maybe you should detail exactly what you mean by "salvation by works". One paragraph will do. Thank you in advance

Regards

4,192 posted on 03/30/2006 11:40:35 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: annalex; Forest Keeper
Moreover, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is written by St. Paul to a consecrated bishop and recommends the study of scripture to a "man of God". This passage can as soon be used to prooftext that only bishops should read the scripture.

And, to continue, these verses refer to the Greek Old Testament, the Septaugint, not the entire Bible that we have today. Some of the writings that we have were not even written yet when Paul wrote to Timothy at Ephesus! Paul is telling Timothy to look to the Scriptures of HIS YOUTH! Since Timothy did not have a Hebrew father to bring him up to read Hebrew AND he lived in the Diaspora, it is fairly certain that Timothy was reading the Greek Old Testament in his youth...

These verses do not prove anything close to what Protestants claim they do.

Regards

4,193 posted on 03/30/2006 11:45:53 AM PST by jo kus (I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore CHOOSE life - Deut 30:19)
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To: annalex

Very lucidly stated. I agree completely.


4,194 posted on 03/30/2006 12:11:31 PM PST by Agrarian
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To: Kolokotronis; jo kus; kosta50; annalex; Agrarian; HarleyD; Dr. Eckleburg; stripes1776
It is completely bound up with our original created purpose, to be come like God. ... Because of the Virgin Birth, the True Man, Christ, came into the world to restore our potential for divinization.

I grant that I may be misinterpreting what you mean here, but statements like these still raise huge red flags for me. I'm not accusing you of thinking that you will become your own "gods", but the language that has been used on this thread by the Orthodox just has a certain tenor to it that I think might be a little confusing to some. For example, here is what the world renowned source of all truth, Wikipedia, says about the meaning of "divinization":

divinization - Divinization is the "making divine" of an earthly entity or activity.

The concept of divinization is present in many faiths including Buddhism, Hinduism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and Christian mysticism. In some faiths it is a literal union with the divine, in others, it is a realization or experience so direct as to be called union, in others the building of a relationship with God. It is also described as anything from becoming "gods"/God to being holy. It is also refered to as theosis and deification, esp. in the Christian Faith.

I "think" I know you all well enough to know the basics of where you stand, but I am curious to know if the perception by others of the terminology is something that concerns you in the least.

+John Damascene explains it thusly:

I can see why Mary is so elevated, but it also says that it was God who purified her, and that it was God who overshadowed her. I still don't see why Mary deserves credit for contributing to our salvation. What did she do to deserve credit? Or, did Mary simply "contribute" by being an "empty" vessel to be used by God, with no credit going to her? I don't see any free will on Mary's part in this passage.

4,195 posted on 03/30/2006 12:28:29 PM PST by Forest Keeper
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To: Forest Keeper
the perception by others of the terminology is something that concerns you in the least.

Quite the opposite, the Orthodox should be applauded for the clarity and boldness of their language, especially by us in the West facing Calvinist caricature of Christianity. At some point, I am sure, the Church was looking for the right symbol of the faith. The outline of a fish was one candidate under consideration. But she chose the Cross, -- the starkest reminder of the Incarnation and the Resurrection. That shocked the pagans and the Jews, and the Muslim are still shocked that we have a God who empied Himself to the death on the Cross for the love of men. The truth of man as a beloved creation, an icon of God ordered to sainthood and called to divine embrace, -- called to theosis, -- should be proclaimed boldly in our degenerate age.

4,196 posted on 03/30/2006 12:56:38 PM PST by annalex
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To: annalex; Agrarian
Biblical truth is whatever the Tradition teaches. If it teaches a hard fact then the truth is in the hard fact

I am glad you mentioned that. However, the example you give of +Peter receiving the keys is different from saying the earth is flat. There is nothing hard-fact about +Peter receiving the keys — we accept it on faith.

The Orthodox would say that what is in Philokalia is what Church teaches, spiritual message or hard-fact; that the Fathers would never teach anything the Church does not believe, did not believe or will not believe.

Here is what +Gregory Palamas had to say about the world, quite authoritatively, I must add:

"Establishing the immovable earth as the centre He encircled it in the highest vault with the very moving heavens and in His great wisdom bound the two together by means of intermediary regions...For while the heavenly bodies encircle the earth in rapid and perpetual motion, the immovable body of the earth necessarily* occupies the central position, its state of rest serving as a counterbalance** to the heaven's mobility..."

Needless to say, he did not prove any "necessity" in any of this, and the "counterbalance" is an intuitive conclusion except that in the universe it involves an equal and opposite force, not lack of it. Thus, binary stars "dance" around each other, instead of one being "counterbalanced" while the other stands immobile. If that is your 2+2=5, then it's obviously wrong. The Church needs to stay with the spiritual ideals and not make inerrant hard-fact claims about anything because none will be found in the Scripture. To put it mildly, +Gregory Palams has notions yet he presented them as "facts."

The Church should teach mercy and as virtues, and stay away from math.

4,197 posted on 03/30/2006 1:27:27 PM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
We know that individual fathers can be wrong on matters of faith, so they can be wrong on matters of physics. The Church (East or West) does not teach that the immovable earth sits under a vault. The Vatican, in fact, has an astrophysical laboratory somewhere.

This example does not show that the truths of the Holy Tradition must be confined to the matters of faith and morals.

***

This being said, let us be clear that geocentrism is not exactly wrong. The geocentric view would complicate the mathematics, as it is an inconvenient coordinate system. Nevertheless, science (yes, science, -- not Bl. Palamas) teaches that observations from any coordinate system form a scientifically valid picture of the world. Einstein loved to imagine a physics lab falling in an elevator or twirling around a ferris wheel. His insight was that a physicist in such a lab does not need to know anything about the peculiar trajectiory of his lab to arrive at the correct laws of physics, even though he might have a harder time with it.

Let me tell you about myself. I live in a geocentric world. It rotates around Elk Grove, CA. in the evening. In the morning, the center moves to Roseville, then goes back. Except on weekends. It is very stable under the vault, although we had too much rain lately in the intermediary regions. Most people I know live just like Palamas explained. True, some of us busy themselves with matters that compel us to adopt innatural heliocentric view, or even the perverse milkyway-centric view. They are but exceptions that prove Palamas's astrophysics in their own peculiar way.

If the Church begins to teach geocentrism again, nothing will change. We'll have the same seasons, the same satellite TV, and the same Carl Sagan intoning about "billions and billions"

4,198 posted on 03/30/2006 1:55:54 PM PST by annalex
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To: annalex
Needless to say, I agree. Yes, the physical world is relative, as you correctly implied. The divine world is absolute. The two are incompatible. Our language is incapable of describing the indescribable and our intellect in incapable of imagining the unimaginable. God reveals Himself to us through His good works and in that sense they are physical manifestations and evidence of His goodness, just as charitable contributions are acts through which our invisible love, fashioned after Christ, becomes evident.

It's not the nature, size, shape or color of the gift, but the love that is behind it that matters. If we love God, it matters little if the schools teach geocentric or heliocentric, creationist or evolutionist world. It is all somehow irrelevant and, from an absolute point of view, wrong and meaningless. Fact and truth are not synonimous. Truth is something we will know one day.

The truth is only in God. As +John says "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (4:24) In faith and in the spirit of love. Not in fact.

4,199 posted on 03/30/2006 2:16:17 PM PST by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50; Agrarian

I think the disagreement is not over theology of the scriptural inerrancy, but over your apparent attempt to separate "hard fact" from "spiritual truth", because it came methodologically perilously close to the sola scriptura heresy, which in a likewise manner separates Scripture from the Tradition.

Perhaps we developed an allergy to it and overreact.


4,200 posted on 03/30/2006 2:32:10 PM PST by annalex
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