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Primacy of Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega (sin or no sin)
Christianity Today ^ | January, 2008 | Philip Yancey

Posted on 08/06/2008 8:58:59 AM PDT by koinonia

More than two centuries before the Reformation, a theological debate broke out that pitted theologian Thomas Aquinas against an upstart from Britain, John Duns Scotus. In essence, the debate circled around the question, "Would Christmas have occurred if humanity had not sinned?"

Whereas Aquinas viewed the Incarnation as God's remedy for a fallen planet, his contemporary saw much more at stake. For Duns Scotus, the Word becoming flesh as described in the prologue to John's Gospel must surely represent the Creator's primary design, not some kind of afterthought or Plan B. Aquinas pointed to passages emphasizing the Cross as God's redemptive response to a broken relationship. Duns Scotus cited passages from Ephesians and Colossians on the cosmic Christ, in whom all things have their origin, hold together, and move toward consummation.

Did Jesus visit this planet as an accommodation to human failure or as the center point of all creation? Duns Scotus and his school suggested that Incarnation was the underlying motive for Creation, not merely a correction to it. Perhaps God spun off this vast universe for the singular purpose of sharing life and love, intending all along to join its very substance. "Eternity is in love with the inventions of time," wrote the poet William Blake...

(Excerpt) Read more at christianitytoday.com ...


TOPICS: Catholic; Evangelical Christian; Orthodox Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: christ; dunsscotus; incarnation; primacy
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To: dangus; XeniaSt
D to X: In all fairness, I don't mean to trash your reasoning. But it IS human reasoning

Good observation, dangus, because it's universally applicable. When it comes to anything that involves human interpretation, especially the Bible, some people seem to present their private viewpoints as if God were speaking through them, and they do it without any humility.

101 posted on 08/12/2008 10:53:02 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
some people seem to present their private viewpoints as if God were speaking through them, and they do it without any humility.

And the Holy Spirit does not speak to you through His Holy Word ?

I'm sorry to hear that.

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
102 posted on 08/12/2008 11:23:17 AM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
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To: koinonia; maryz
I only have one example (hence rare)...

Anecdotal. Psychosomatic conversion reactions (loss of vision, paralysis, even false pregnancy...) have been treated as "demonic" (possession) "diseases" throughout history. They are not demonic.

You would not be happy if you had an infection and the doctor told you it's caused by a "bug." Science ha isolated disease-causing organisms and knows quite a bit about them and can effectively present evidence of their existence.

The "demonic" approach to illness stops at the "bug" stage. It'sa still on a tribal level of medicine. There is as much evidence of that as there is that rumbling volcanoes rumble because the "god" inside the mountain is "angry" or "hungry" and needs sacrifice, preferably human.

Jesus healed a woman hemorraging--no mention of casting out demons, he healed Peter's mother in law--no mention of demons; and ten lepers and various paralytics and blind--no mention of demons, and the man with the withered hand--no mention of demons, etc.. Obviously there were sicknesses directly caused by demons in the Gospels and in those cases Jesus healed them by delivering them from their root cause, the devil

Jesus is also said to have believed mustard seed is the smallest seed, as well as treating demonic illnesses as something 'real.' The Bible says the world is standing on four pillars. Do you believe that too?

Lev 11:12 tells us that there are "fowl that creep." Duet. 14:7 says that hares chew their cud. Would God say something like that to Moses when we know it's not true?

The Bible also tells us that God could not find one innocent child worthy of saving in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Do you believe our enemies' children are just as guilty as their fathers, and should be destroyed along with them? The Bible seems to teach that on numerous occasions—God instructs his" people to kill men, women, and children ("dash them to pieces," and smash them against rocks, etc), and even their live stock, and being very graphic about it. It seems like God is either unable or unwilling to help people become better human beings.

Do you find "Christ" in Sodom and Gomorrah? The same Christ that says to love your enemies and those who hate you? The same Christ who says that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like little children, yet God destroys all the children in them (it seems God sometimes teaches one thing and does another).

With all due respect, I think it is rather "retrograde" for the lack of a better word, to believe that the world sits on four pillars, that God doesn't know or doesn't want to tell the whole truth which is the smallest seed, and that illnesses are caused by "demons" which we cannot quote, identify and name, but treat anecdotal hearsay "evidence" as something creidble and verifable.

Try to hang your coat on that and see how long before it falls on the ground. That's how much "substance" such arguments have.

103 posted on 08/12/2008 11:33:07 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: XeniaSt
And the Holy Spirit does not speak to you through His Holy Word ?

Do you have any proof that it's the Holy Spirit speaking to you?

104 posted on 08/12/2008 11:36:18 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia
Before we got side tracked, mainly by my frustation that I cannot quote St. Paul as an authority, you responded (71) to my entry (60) and were going to respond some more. I’d like to return back to that part of the discourse, if you have time

Of course.

105 posted on 08/12/2008 11:38:42 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: dangus
My faith does not rest on which day Christ was born. The ancients had a valid, Christian reason to suppose it was on Dec. 25th. While the arguments that such a date was pagan in origin are demonstrably false,

Why would the creator of the universe, the one who
commanded Feast Days ( appointments ) for his ekklesia,
instead select some man made pagan date for His Birth.

Answer He would not !

Since Yah'shua re-celebrated in sequence His commanded Feast Days,
why would anyone, who claims to be one of His followers believe that
His birth would not have been on one of His Commanded Feast days?

The most likely date would be hinted at by John
when he wrote that :

NAsbU John 1:14 And the Word <3056> became <1096> flesh <4561>, and dwelt <4637> among <1722> us,

<4637> skhno,w skenoo

Meaning: to have one’s tent, dwell

Origin: from 4633

Usage: dwell(3), dwelt(1), spread His tabernacle(1).

Notes: (1) Or tabernacled; i.e. lived temporarily

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
106 posted on 08/12/2008 11:44:27 AM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
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To: koinonia
...my frustation [to kosta's objection] that I cannot quote St. Paul as an authority...

I didn't say you can't qote him as authority. Of course you can, but if you want him to carry some weight (rememebr: you are arguing to convince me, not you), then Pauline statenments should be synchronized (corroborated) with those of the Gospels. Otherwise, you are using St. Paul as a stand-alone authority that trumps Christ.

107 posted on 08/12/2008 11:44:55 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia
What else were you going to respond to in (60)?

I will have to re-read everything. Part of the reason I stopped and never came back to it is because I gave you specific verses to back up my arguments and you totally ignored them (#74). You never went pasts my first paragraph. Why should I spend time and energy researching my notes only to have them ignored. My post #71 is pretty lengthy and is full of quotes.

For instance the one where Jesus tells his disciples "your God and my God." His God?!? It seems you never even saw something as provocagtive as that verse is. For if you did, I can't imagine that you wouldn't respond.

It's like you never even read it.

But I will go back to your post #60 and see what I left out. The reason I had to break it is because it took so long to put together than I couldn't do it in one sitting , and when I realized that all that work was going to just go over like a lead balloon, I saw no reason to continue.

108 posted on 08/12/2008 11:57:44 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
Kosta, I made a mistake: 71 is in response to 65 (not 60).

You wrote:It's like you never read it.

Blush. I admit it, I reacted at first because my arguments were dismissed because of two Pauline references in parentheses--not even essential to the points I was making. At any rate, I have read it and am even meditating a bit on St. John of Damascus. Another reason I didn't respond to 71 more thorougly (77 was a partial response) is because there is a lot to respond to. You know how to pack a ping!!!

109 posted on 08/12/2008 12:31:32 PM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: kosta50
XS> And the Holy Spirit does not speak to you through His Holy Word ?

Do you have any proof that it's the Holy Spirit speaking to you?

I trust Yah'shua.

NAsbU John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father
will send in My name, He will teach you all things,
and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
110 posted on 08/12/2008 12:42:24 PM PDT by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 78:35 And they remembered that God was their ROCK, And the Most High God their Redeemer.)
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To: kosta50
Do you have any proof that it's the Holy Spirit speaking to you?

When He glorifies the Son, He is worthy our trust, faith and confidence in His sanctifying work in us.

111 posted on 08/12/2008 12:52:43 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: kosta50; koinonia
Your arguments here would be more appropriately addressed to sola Scriptura Biblical literalists -- or more effectiively to the equally obtuse scientific literalists. They won't convince the former, but by all means, have at it! (BTW, my Lev 11:12 only says that fish are only kosher if they have fins and scales. Typo? If an arnevet is indeed a hare as we know them, the confusion is likely from the fact that hares groom themselves like cats and so are subject to fur balls, which are in fact regurgitated like a cud.)

Jesus is also said to have believed mustard seed is the smallest seed, as well as treating demonic illnesses as something 'real.' The Bible says the world is standing on four pillars. Do you believe that too?

It is only in grammar books that the superlative is always the "most." In modern English, other meanings are more common in colloquial speech: "Isn't he the cutest thing!" Granted, I don't know Aramaic, but in Hebrew the superlative is expressed by definite article + adjective, which of course also occurs in mention of any adjective describing a definite noun. Then there's poetic usage: There's a line in a modern Hebrew song (by a songwriter steeped in Biblical Hebrew) to the effect that "I am smaller than the smallest of your sons."

The pillars you'll have to give me a reference for -- I can't find it my concordance. But in the usage of a pre-scientific community, I don't think it's important.

Do you believe our enemies' children are just as guilty as their fathers, etc., etc.

The Bible tells a story -- IMO, a true story, but it has an actual plot, with real characters and change and development, as, for example, from assuming that worldly prosperity is a sure sign that God is pleased to the understanding that knowledge of God is the true treasure. God takes a barbaric tribe and gradually, over a couple of thousand years, brings them to where the Christian message is possible. He inspired the writers of Scripture, but He didn't make them into something they weren't, i.e., they were men of their time and their culture, with the physical and mental limitations common to the human condition. (Again, I recommend C.S. Lewis's Reflections on the Psalms.) Naturally, this view probably won't go down with the frothier Biblical literalists, who seem to think that each verse of Scripture is of equal value to every other verse; some agree with you that the Bible should be read on the level of a science textbook, only they think it's correct on that level.

as well as treating demonic illnesses as something 'real.'

Science deals only with immediate causes (material cause, as I said before); it says nothing about why there should be disease, deformity, etc. For this, you have to look to final, formal and efficient causes (to use the traditional vocabulary, inadequate as it might be), which science excludes from its purview.

112 posted on 08/12/2008 1:02:57 PM PDT by maryz
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To: maryz; kosta50
Maryz: thank you for that post.

Kosta50, and anyone else that's interested:

1. I think we're agreed that Christ came to save sinners. His name, Jesus, after all, means God saves or God savior and the angel spelled out to Joseph that Mary would bring forth a son and "thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21). And Jesus himself, after eating with sinners, says, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)

St. Paul confirms this in many places. For example, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." (I Timothy 1:15).

2. But we are also told by the Gospel that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14) so that we might become God's children: "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13).

Once again, Paul corroborates in many places: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:3-6) In this passage we see that God sends his son so that we may be his adopted children in Christ, so that we might receive every spiritual blessing in Christ, so that we might be holy and without blame in love in his sight, etc. As St. John says, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1).

3. And did not Christ come to be our mediator with God the Father? "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6).

St. Paul: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (I Timothy 2:5). Through his mediation Jesus enriches and elevates us: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9), or St. Peter: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (II Peter 1:4).

Conclusion: After the sin of Adam there is no question that Christ Jesus came to save man as Redeemer. However, seeing that there are many other reasons for the incarnation, one cannot rule out the fact that the primary "purpose" (to use Paul's terminology in Ephesians) of the coming of Christ might lie outside of man's need for redemption. In other words, as Philip Yancey puts it in the article posted, it is possible that Christmas (which presupposes the incarnation) would have occurred even if humanity had not sinned.

Aquinas maintains that this opinion is probable and even lists a host of reasons why the Incarnation would bring about a "furtherance in good" quite apart from remedying man's woe. (Summa III, Q 1, art. 2, "I answer that...").

St. Francis de Sales held this position.

As well as Fr. Frederick Faber (Anglican converted to Roman Catholicism).

As noted before, Fr. Florovsky (Orthodox) shows this as possible.

And more recently Fr. Gabriel Amorth (Roman Catholic), chief exorcist in Rome.

And Fr. Maximilian Dean (Roman Catholic) who, besides posting here at FR has a whole video series and a book on this very subject--very engaging. Actually, it was Fr. Maximilian's posts that sparked my interest in being a "FReeper".

And of course the author of the article at the head of this thread, Philip Yancey (Evangelical), who discusses how this is possible and seems to favor this few. Yancey concludes his article: Among Jesus' final words, in Revelation, are these: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." John Duns Scotus must be smiling.

All glory to Christ. Amen.

113 posted on 08/12/2008 5:44:17 PM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: koinonia
So although [God] can permit evil, he never chooses evil, he never wills evil

First, does anything happen that is contrary to His will? If so, please define sovereign. Then please define evil.

[C]learly he does not predestine Adam’s fall and therefore is not the power behind the emergence of sin

God placed the tree, and the serpent in the Garden, knowing Adam and Eve would sin. How did he know it? He "predestined" it!  He wrote to screenplay. If that's what really happened, it had to happen that way. Otherwise, God is  not in control.

So I think we are on the same page. Predestination, or foreknowledge, on the part of God means that he is utterly omniscient and transcendent

But not always in control?

And God foreknows our response and thus, before the foundation of the world predestines to glory in Christ those “few” who will cooperate

Yes, I think it is fair to say that God would know who will use his blessings in harmony with his will.

(no predetermination here—he foreknows the cooperation of the elect and therefore predestines—not predetermines—them to glory)

I am not sure I agree with this difference. A movie will end the way it was produced to end regardless of what we do in the movie theater. We could sleep, instant message or actually watch the movie. What we do only affects our experience of that movie, but not its end.

The author/director created the screenplay and therefore foreknew how it will end (because he decided how it will end!), which pretty much predestined the end.

Isa 38:5 suggests, however, that God does change the outcome and that his foreknowledge is not predetermined independent of our cooperation, which suggests that our will is outside> of his will (we believe, by God's decision form all eternity). The verse says

"I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life."

If that's the case, then God surrenders some of his sovereignty to man, and rewards us when our will is in harmony with his, but is not his. In other words, when we act the way Christ would act, when we conform ourselves to the image of Christ, when we are Christ-like, or restored (even for a moment) to the likeness of God.

The important element is prayer and tears (repentance), for there is no forgiveness without repentance. We must ask in order to receive.

114 posted on 08/12/2008 10:36:54 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia

For Duns Scotus, and I’m of the same opinion and I think I hear you saying the same, God is utterly free in his decrees and man is utterly free in his response

No wonder the Reformed call the traditional Christians "Pelagians!" :) Yes, that's what the Orthodox teach. Christ died for all mankind and desires all mankind to be saved. He give us the reason and the freedom to choose, just as he gave that freedom to Adam and Eve.  

This is why the “reformers” mocked Duns Scotus by calling people who followed his Catholic doctrine “dunces”, especially his doctrine on freedom, both man’s and God’s.

The Reformed unfortunately have this deformed idea that God must be a micro manager. Love must be free and we must come freely, in love, to God. Love does not compel. Forced love is no love. The prodigal son came back on his own (the way most of us do when we are in dire need and our pride has been deflated) and was forgiven when he repented.

Just think how different that story would be if the father sent out guards and forced (dragged) his frivolous son back to him because he could have and you will understand how far removed form mainline Christianity the Reformed are.

 Finally, you wrote of the Incarnation that: His primary and, in fact, only purpose was to bring back "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat 15:24) into his fold. If you said “in my opinion His primary…”, I would simply respond that I’m of another opinion.

But it's not my opinion. :) It's what the NT says. The way the Greek text reads, it's the purpose (English language Bibles say "only" [NAB, NIV] , the koine Greek text says ei me [except, a conditional particle], the KJV version says "sent but for..."). Either way, there is no doubt that the text states his purpose is exclusive. 

I think Fr. Frolovsky's excellent presentation, very sober and reserved, makes it clear that the opinion that God’s masterpiece in all creation, the Incarnation, was willed absolutely and not simply as a remedy for man’s sin is a valid opinion to be respected

I will say that it is  a theologoumenon (theological opinion or, in Latin, hypothesis), but not valid orthodox Church theology, and it is certainly contrary to the very explicit and exclusive statement already mention in Mat 15:24.

115 posted on 08/12/2008 10:42:18 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: Cvengr
When He glorifies the Son, He is worthy our trust, faith and confidence in His sanctifying work in us

That may be a sufficient reason for a believer, but it doesn't constitute a proof. It can be expressed as a statement of one's personal faith and not as a universal fact.

116 posted on 08/12/2008 10:50:23 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
Kosta50, good morning! Thank you for these responses; and thanks for responding in two instalments :) A couple of clarifications on #114…

You wrote: First, does anything happen that is contrary to His will? If so, please define sovereign. Then please define evil.

Regarding God’s will, I would make this distinction. There is God’s sovereign will and his permissive will. Hence all that happens in time is part of his will—either his sovereign will or his permissive will. Evil, which is a privation of good, is permitted by God who in his goodness respects and honors our free will, even to allowing us to definitively reject his love and to choose Hell. God permits evil; he allows free rational creatures to disobey—it’s his permissive will. But by no means does he sovereignly will evil—this would be against his very nature as the all-perfect and good God.

I like how St. John of Damascus puts it in his Exposition on the Orthodox Faith: God in His goodness(3) brought what exists into being out of nothing, and has foreknowledge of what will exist in the future. If, therefore, they were not to exist in the future, they would neither be evil in the future nor would they be foreknown. For knowledge is of what exists and foreknowledge is of what will surely exist in the future. For simple being comes first and then good or evil being. But if the very existence of those, who through the goodness of God are in the future to exist, were to be prevented by the fact that they were to become evil of their own choice, evil would have prevailed over the goodness of God. Wherefore God makes all His works good, but each becomes of its own choice good or evil. (BOOK IV CHAPTER XXI).

In other words, the very fact that man can choose evil shows the goodness of God who, foreknowing that this or that man will choose evil, in his goodness he creates them just the same. Otherwise, if, foreseeing this or that man’s fall he were not to create them, then as St. John of Damascus says, “evil would have prevailed over the goodness of God” and God would not have created them.

Therefore, as you noted, God placed the tree, and the serpent in the Garden, knowing Adam and Eve would sin.

This is true. The omniscient God foreknows everything that will happen in time. But foreknowledge and predestination are not the same thing; and predetermination is another thing still.

Foreknowledge has to do with the intellect. God knows all because he is outside of time, above it. Just as I can look at a map of the U.S. and see New York and Los Angeles and Dallas all at once, because I am outside the map, I transcend the map and see the whole country from above; so too, God is outside of time, above and transcending it and can see the outcome of all events. This is foreknowledge. But it is not the same as predestination.

Predestination has to do with God’s will, his loving choice. He is free to predestine man or not (he is not obliged—he doesn’t owe anyone anything) and he allows for man’s free cooperation. Those who God foreknows will not cooperate he does not predestine to glory—he leaves them free, he doesn’t force them, he doesn’t send out armed brigades to coerce the prodigal sons to come to their senses, as you so brilliantly put it!

In our discussion it seems that you sometimes equate predestination with predetermination. Whereas God’s foreknowledge and his choice to predestine the elect to glory entirely respect and honor man’s free will, predetermination indicates that which is fixed and immutable in God’s plan. For example, it was predetermined that I exist. I had no say in the matter; I can’t cooperate in coming into existence because before my creation I don’t exist :)

St. John of Damascus is clear: We ought to understand(2) that while God knows all things beforehand, yet He does not predetermine all things(3). For He knows beforehand those things that are in our power, but He does not predetermine them. For it is not His will that there should be wickedness nor does He choose to compel virtue. So that predetermination is the work of the divine command based on fore-knowledge(4). But on the other hand God predetermines those things which are not within our power in accordance with His prescience. For already God in His prescience has prejudged all things in accordance with His goodness and justice. (BOOK II CHAPTER XXX)

You have frequently referred to a screenplay in speaking of God’s plan and our role in that plan. It is a limited analogy (that’s true of all analogies by their very nature). I’ll toss in a couple of thoughts. If we think of it more as a live act, instead of a recorded movie, I think the analogy is better. And let us say that parts of the play are sovereignly willed by God and that others are freely improvised within a fixed context, so in this play God allows improvisation (part of his permissive will). This is true of comedy plays, for example, where there is a certain amount of license on the part of the comedians, but the outline is already determined. It’s still an analogy, limited by its very nature, but at least it somewhat illustrates what is happening in the great drama of salvation where there are both dimensions—the sovereign, predetermined parts and the permissive, free parts. If all were predetermined and God controlled every act, we would be like the planets who have no say, or the animals who act based on instinct; but clearly, as you so beautifully noted, we are free to pray and weep for our sins.

At first the movie analogy was God and the movie (and we were part of the movie), but then you threw in a new dimension—we are the viewers of the movie. In this expanded analogy the movie is predetermined, but the response of the viewers is not. The viewers response does not affect the movie or its turnout, but it does affect its impact on their lives. So the end of the film is predetermined, but not the end of those who view the film. And here the analogy fails, because in this world the filmmaker cannot foreknow how the viewers will respond, much less predestine the viewers to some reward. Moreover, in the drama of salvation, we are not spectators, but players on the field freely cooperating or not as it unravels in our lives.

In the end, I looked up the Roman Catholic take on all of this and I think the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a sound synthesis.

1. God freely predestines the elect: God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the "plan of his loving kindness", conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: "He destined us in love to be his sons" and "to be conformed to the image of his Son", through "the spirit of sonship".94 This plan is a "grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began", stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.95 It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.96 (CCC #257)

2. Man is free to cooperate or not: To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace. (CCC #600)

The biblical teaching of St. John of Damascus and the Roman Catholic Church are in stark contrast with the Calvinistic notion of predestination: We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction. John Calvin (Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 7) . For Calvin all is predetermined (and this is not what St. Paul means by predestination).

I’ll take a look at #115 later today (if my schedule permits) or perhaps tomorrow. As I said, you know how to pack a ping ;)

117 posted on 08/13/2008 2:43:35 AM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: koinonia; kosta50

I left out another quote from the CCC #2002: “God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love.” Hence predestination presupposes the free initiative on teh part of God who loves us first and teh free response to that love on the part of man, as the Orthodox Church believes.


118 posted on 08/13/2008 3:33:17 AM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: kosta50

As long as a person seeks proof of His existence and action, that same person places themselves independent of God as a judge of God. As such, that person places themselves in sin, unable to perceive the truth, but further scarring their own thinking processes.


119 posted on 08/13/2008 4:07:19 AM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: koinonia

Oustanding post. Thanks for the witness.


120 posted on 08/13/2008 4:08:02 AM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: kosta50
Kosta50, regarding #115. Earlier you wrote: His primary and, in fact, only purpose was to bring back "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat 15:24) into his fold.

To which I responded that that is an opinion.

You responded: But it's not my opinion. :) It's what the NT says. The way the Greek text reads, it's the purpose (English language Bibles say "only" [NAB, NIV] , the koine Greek text says ei me [except, a conditional particle], the KJV version says "sent but for..."). Either way, there is no doubt that the text states his purpose is exclusive.

My question, then, is this: if this were truly the exclusive reason for Christ's coming, then why did Jesus immediately heal that Canaanite woman’s daughter? (Mt. 15:28). Jesus himself says, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32).

As you know, we could debate about interpretations until the cows come home (and then some :) ) , but in the end neither of us has God-given authority to interpret divine revelation. I don't know about you, but from what I’ve noticed many of the people who claim to have the Holy Spirit (yes, even FReepers :) ) contradict one another in the name of Jesus. Whose right? Who really has the Holy Spirit? Now that’s the million dollar question...

In the end, I have to thank you because you granted me my theologoumenon, and at least we respectfully agree to disagree :)

Regardless, we have both been bought, not with gold or silver, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you…” (I Peter 1:19-20). Pray for me that may I respond generously to God’s mercy and I’ll do the same for you. God bless you.

121 posted on 08/13/2008 11:10:43 AM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: maryz; koinonia
BTW, my Lev 11:12 only says that fish are only kosher if they have fins and scales. Typo?

Unfortunately. It should say Lev 11:20. The problem is also with the KJV translation and choice of words (fowl). The Hebrew term  refers to birds as well as insects . My question was  what flying creature creeps?

122 posted on 08/13/2008 11:16:29 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: maryz; koinonia
If an arnevet is indeed a hare as we know them, the confusion is likely from the fact that hares groom themselves like cats and so are subject to fur balls, which are in fact regurgitated like a cud

Then why don't they include cats in that group of animals not to be eaten because they "chew their cud?"

123 posted on 08/13/2008 11:19:21 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: maryz; koinonia
It is only in grammar books that the superlative is always the "most."

The Greek text (Mat 13:32) reads:

"Which (ho) smaller than (microteron) indeed (men) is (estin) all (panton) of the seeds (spermaton)"

It couldn't be clearer or more definitive. It's not about English grammar. It's about English translations. The NIV actually adds a word—that's not in any of the manuscripts—in order to remove the conflict! The NIV reads:

"Though it is the smallest of all your seeds"

The length some people will go to remove any possible discrepancies form the Bible doesn't stop at falsifying the text, even Christ's own words! And the NIV is really good at that!

Granted, I don't know Aramaic, but in Hebrew the superlative is expressed by definite article + adjective

We have no record in Aramaic and retro-translating is a dangerous business (we know that from Textus Receptus!). The Gospels were written in koine Greek. That is the original language, regardless of what language Jesus spoke. Matthew, an eyewitness, says in Greek what Jesus said.

124 posted on 08/13/2008 11:22:18 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: maryz; koinonia
The pillars you'll have to give me a reference for 

Job 9:6, Ps 75:3  

But in the usage of a pre-scientific community, I don't think it's important.

Agree, but then how do you determine what is true and what is not? I guess we have to shed parts of the Bible as the scientific community lifts the haze off of some of the ancient concepts of geography, astronomy, and disease!

This is why the literalists insist that every word in the Bible "must" be true or else God is a liar. If we presume, however, that the authors of biblical books are merely men who were moved (inspired)  to write about their faith, and wrote in an imperfect manner and language, with human errancy, and prejudices, then we agree more  than I thought, but it also makes the Bible rather unreliable.

125 posted on 08/13/2008 11:23:51 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: maryz; koinonia
The Bible tells a story -- IMP, a true story, but it has an actual plot, with real characters and change and development, as, for example, from assuming that worldly prosperity is a sure sign that God is pleased to the understanding that knowledge of God is the true treasure

I am assuming you are using "true" as in "factual." Why does the story have to be factual to be true?  The moral of the message can be true even if the story is not factually true.

However, we must also realize that factual corroboration of names and places does not prove the story to be factually true.

The discovery of Troy does not prove that Iliad is a historical account of a Trojan War (which never took place).

Just because there are cities and places mentioned in the Bible that exist to this day doesn't mean the biblical stories regarding those places are true, even if their (moral) message may be. 

126 posted on 08/13/2008 11:26:25 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: maryz; koinonia
God takes a barbaric tribe and gradually, over a couple of thousand years, brings them to where the Christian message is possible

But God didn't do that! Don't you see? God spent an inordinate amount of time cuddling "his" people and they still rejected his message (from our point of view).

Even if all Jews had nothing to do with Jesus being "convicted," just about  all rejected Jesus as the Christ. If God was really trying to make them 'his" children, he didn't do such a good job!

We should also not forget here that Jesus fails the Jewish test of a messiah (having only one of the seven biblical requirements in their view), and that the Christian idea of a messiah is something that was unknown to Judaism.

127 posted on 08/13/2008 11:29:06 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: maryz; koinonia
[God] inspired the writers of Scripture, but He didn't make them into something they weren't, i.e., they were men of their time and their culture, with the physical and mental limitations common to the human condition

Well, hallelujah!  Your view certainly agrees with the Orthodox teaching on the Bible:

From the Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox Church posted on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOARCH). It starts with

The Holy Bible (or Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments) is the most authoritative part of the Sacred Tradition of the Church...

As for the authorship, it goes on to say that the Bible is a product of cooperation of man and the Holy Spirit. This represents the so-called "synergistic theory." 

The Church rejects Philo's so-called "mechanical theory" which states that the biblical authors were "possessed" by the Holy Spirit, but they don't offer any proof or any reason even why that theory is wrong.

The Bible itself certainly often speaks of "trances" of various biblical personalities (i.e. Abraham, Peter,etc) .

Combine this with the Hebrew belief that spirits (or gods, idols, demons, devils) exert control (this comes from a Hebrew root of the word demon/god/spirit) to rule, and that  in Judaism the Spirit of God is not a Person, but the power of God, and Philo's view (being Jewish) is perfectly legitimate and there is every reason to believe that the early Christians subscribed to the same view, as they did to the demonic etiology of so many physical and mental diseases.

After establishing that God leads and men follow, the articles states

God leads, and man follows; God works, and man accepts God's work in him, as God's coworker in subordination to Him. So it is with divine inspiration in the case of the Bible: the Holy Spirit inspires, and the sacred author follows the Holy Spirit's injunctions, utilizing his own human and imperfect ways to express the perfect message and doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

In this sense, we can understand possible imperfections in the books of the Bible, since they are the result of the cooperation between the all-perfect and perfecting Divine Author, the Spirit, and the imperfect human author. Biblical textual criticism is completely normal and acceptable by the Orthodox, since they see the Bible in this light. Nothing human is perfect, including the Bible, which is the end product of human cooperation with the divine Spirit.

There are some problems with this view, however.

If God leads, and the authors are willing sub-ordained co-workers with God, God is still in charge of the project and the author of it, and if the product contains errors, then it's the author's fault, unless God wants us to have faulty scriptures, and I don't believe there is any evidence of that (alhtough OT God does send "deceiving spritis" to confuse people, and the disicples believed in it)  

And if the Bible contains (human) errors, then it is neither authoritative—except by fiat—nor inherently reliable!

Naturally, this view probably won't go down with the frothier Biblical literalists, who seem to think that each verse of Scripture is of equal value to every other verse; some agree with you that the Bible should be read on the level of a science textbook, only they think it's correct on that level.

If you allow one error in the Bible, who is to say what is correct? Of course, that's why we have the Holy Tradition, which "fills in the gaps" as unwritten authority, and something that was known to the Church form the beginning, everywhere and always, as they say.

The 300-year old struggle to form a canon agreeable to the whole Church shows that this is not the case. For one, books such as 2 Peter were hotly debated and contested as for several centuries.

In Constantinople, the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch, seocnd in honor to the Pope, as late as the 9th century AD, the Book of Revelation, for example, was listed as "questionable" alongside Shepherd of Hermas and Epistle of Barnabas  (both of which appear as canon in the oldest extant complete Christian Bible, the mid 4th century AD Codex Sinaitucus)!

It may be of interest here to mention that Revelation is the only book of the Bible the orthodox Church never reads from in public.

The scriptures cannot be the most authoritative and yet full of errors. There is an inherent contradiction in this view.

I think God would have done a much better job at communicating.

128 posted on 08/13/2008 12:21:41 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: Cvengr
As long as a person seeks proof of His existence and action, that same person places themselves independent of God as a judge of God

Yet the Bible says "seek and ye shall find." Even as the resurrected Jesus was about to leave his eleven disicples, some of them still doubted (cf Mat 28:17)

129 posted on 08/13/2008 12:27:50 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia
My question, then, is this: if this were truly the exclusive reason for Christ's coming, then why did Jesus immediately heal that Canaanite woman’s daughter? (Mt. 15:28)

Jesus came to proclaim that blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. He also came to proclaim to love those who hate us, not to return evil for evil, etc. And he lived by those principles. 

He never said "don't help" Gentiles. He only said that he (personally) was not sent but for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Besides, the Canaanite woman expressed faith in him .

You may know this or not, but the so-called Noahides (the "People at the Gate") are Gentiles who observe the Law and Judaism states that they will be saved too (observing the Law makes them "righteous" in God's eyes as far as Judaism is concerned), although they will always be second to the Jews, and never equal to them in terms of rewards.

Judaism was never opposed to helping others, but the mission Jesus claims to have been sent to accomplish was for the lost sheep of Israel, and the Bible is very clear that it means no Gentles, and not even Canaanites. In other words, he didn't come to preach to them, nor did he send his disciples to preach to them.

As you know, we could debate about interpretations until the cows come home (and then some :) ) , but in the end neither of us has God-given authority to interpret divine revelation. I don't know about you, but from what I’ve noticed many of the people who claim to have the Holy Spirit (yes, even FReepers :) ) contradict one another in the name of Jesus. Whose right? Who really has the Holy Spirit? Now that’s the million dollar question...

I couldn't agree with you more, koinonia. I am the last person to involve the HS in my opinions. My opinions are my opinions. I read the Bible the way I read everything else. Some things are clear others are not. I don't hang my faith in God on the Bible, or any "holy book" for that matter. It is more an observation that mercy doesn't exist in nature, whether it be human left to its own devices (we have to be taught to be merciful), nor is there any mercy in the animal world. As such, our awareness of mercy is indeed a revelation that's not of this of this world. And it takes no Bible to realize that something caused all this to exist. and that this world is the way it is, as Taoism says so well, whether we understand it or not. 

130 posted on 08/13/2008 12:49:40 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50; koinonia
OK, Psalms is poetry, and the main part of Job is really a poem. And the world on a firm foundation is how we experience it -- it speaks to our lived reality in a way that scientific astronomy doesn't.

Disease. Again, you're looking for the "scientific" answer and apparently will be content with that. In OT times, they apparently had noticed the phenomenon of contagion, vide the treatment of lepers; when Jesus cleansed the lepers, I don't recall any mention of demons. Job was afflicted with boils by Satan, with God's permission, but he was hardly possessed. My own understanding is that disease entered the world through sin -- as one of the Church Fathers (I forget who) put it, since man disobeyed God, so his own body will not obey him. I'm not concerned with "proving" it to anyone; to me, it rings true, though it says nothing about whatever cellular mechanisms or whatever are involved.

As for the Bible being "reliable," I take the historical books as being as reliable as any history we have -- certainly moreso than whatever source you rely on for your understanding of Galileo and the Church. ;-)

Of course, I still assume the Trojan War happened, even if archeology hasn't found any evidence of it yet! In fact, I consider most things scientific mildly interesting, but subject to revision. (And if the Bible were intended as some sort of diviney inspired All-purpose Boy Scout Handbook, surely it would have said something about Anthropogenic Global Warming!)

131 posted on 08/13/2008 1:11:07 PM PDT by maryz
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To: kosta50
Then why don't they include cats in that group of animals not to be eaten because they "chew their cud?"

I have no idea, any more than I know why cats are never mentioned in the Bible at all -- OT or NT. Unless those poor people didn't have any . . . :(

132 posted on 08/13/2008 1:17:39 PM PDT by maryz
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To: kosta50
Matthew, an eyewitness, says in Greek what Jesus said.

I thought it was generally accepted (on internal evidence) that Matthew's gospel was orignally written in Aramaic, though no Aramaic copy is known to survive.

Personally, I'd be hesitant about too close-nitpicking in any ancient language. Lord knows there are enough current misunderstandings and confusion and misinterpretation among actual speakers of the same language at the same time in the same geographical area.

133 posted on 08/13/2008 1:28:51 PM PDT by maryz
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To: kosta50
Sounds like you're writing a review of a book you haven't read all the way through! The story's not over.

I don't see that God "cuddled" (coddled?) his people exactly. In fact, IMO, I could have done with a great deal more coddling in my life! But God had other plans . . .

I'm hardly expert in rabbinic Judaism, but one thing that struck me when I was taking Hebrew (and I had probably more than half a dozen courses based on Midrash -- which I loved!) was Judaic parallels to the Christian gospels. The only one I remember clearly after all these years is the story of how Moses, when he was watching Jethro's sheep, climbed down a ravine to rescue a lamb that had fallen in. Moses put the lamb over his shoulders and climbed back up, and according to the Midrash, that was how God was assured that he would be the right leader for Israel.

Anyway, (without looking it up) "whoever says a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him."

The story's not over.

134 posted on 08/13/2008 1:44:06 PM PDT by maryz
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To: kosta50
The scriptures cannot be the most authoritative and yet full of errors. There is an inherent contradiction in this view.

I don't see a contradiction -- it's simply that there is nothing more authoritative (well, Tradition, but -- like the Jews -- I see Scripture and Tradition as unified). The image I rather favor is that humanity (and the world) suffered a catastrophe, and managed to survive, in spite of wounds and injuries, clinging finally to the Ark of the Church, clutching what scraps and tatters and small belongings that could be salvaged.

I think God would have done a much better job at communicating.

Yes, if I were God, I would have done things differently too, I imagine! ;-)

135 posted on 08/13/2008 2:07:18 PM PDT by maryz
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To: maryz; koinonia
As for the Bible being "reliable," I take the historical books as being as reliable as any history we have -- certainly moreso than whatever source you rely on for your understanding of Galileo and the Church

What you just posted is an insult to intelligence. Being an astrophotographer is a hobby, not an academic degree and the fact that the article you linked even lists his hobby as an authentication of his qualification is like saying that someone who owns a sailing boat is an expert on naval history.

First of all, if Galileo actually looked at the sun through his telescope, he would have gone blind to one eye not both, right at that instant, not years later. One can see sunspots on a projected image of the sun on a white screen or a wall, but not directly.

Gaileo purchased the telescope from the Dutch, and being a tinkerer, ade some imporvements on it. He never claimed to have invented it. It was a simple lens with a negative eyepiece, and power of 14X (your average binocluars typically come with a power of 8-16X. Anything over 10X cannot be hand held steadily enough for useful obsevring or provide sufficiently wide field of view). The differnce is that Galileo's telescope had only abut 1/3 the light gathering power of an average 8X50 binoclars, and was not achromatic, or coated for greater transmission, or necessarily optically to within the 2-wave tolerance of commercial optics (true astronoical optics are finished to better than 1/4 wave tolerance). So, all in all, it was a toy. At best one could call it a small "spotting scope.

But it was sufficient to resolve the Milky Way into stars(of which, in our galaxy, alone there are billions and not millions, as the author says), or to show "appendiges" on Saturn.

Your author is dead wrong when he says that Gaileo didn't have a proof. He postulated heliocentricity based on the phases of Venus. Simple geometry shows that the only way we can see the full face of Venus is if it goes around the sun. When he positvely observed the fully illuminated face of Venus, knew.

Obviously, if Venus was always in front of the Sun, as it was believed, then a full face of Venus cluld never be seen. And he was right, of course.

Galileo was not convicted and thrown into house arrest for insulting the Pope, but on charges of "vehement suspicion of heresy." Heresy, by definition, means "that which is not taught by the Church," so your author is again wrong in asserting that the Church did not have a stance on heliocentricity. Otherwise it couldn't have accused Galileo and convicted him of "vehement suspcision of heresy."

The Church used Aristotelian philosophy and Ptolomey's navigational system (both were geocentric) becuase they agreed with the theolgoical notion that man was God's central creation and that we were the center of the Creation, and that everything revolved around us (literally speaking!).

Ptolemy's navigaitonal system is a typical scientific working model, which works on predictable observend phenomena, even if it is based on on erroneous premises, and a typical exmaple of the so-called "observational phenomenon."

This amateur that your Catholic site uses as some "authority" on this subject also finds himself authorized to diagnose the cause of Gailleo's blindness. It could have been nothing more than cataracts, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, bad lighting (usually candles) and, above all, old age! BTW, the loss of sight from looking into the sun through a telescope is instantaneous, not gradual.

The fact still remains that the Cathoic Church did not retract its charge of "vehement suspicion of heresy" until the 1990's, 450 years after his death. It cointinued to blame him for teachng a "false" doctrine of heliocentricity until the end of the XX century. Talk about obtuse....

Well, you can go on assuming the Trojan War happened. Belief in things in absence of evidence is called fantasy. I have just as much "justification" to believe there are pink unicorns living on Jupiter!

136 posted on 08/13/2008 4:11:43 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: maryz
I have no idea, any more than I know why cats are never mentioned in the Bible at all -- OT or NT. Unless those poor people didn't have any

Really? Cats were considered "holy" in Egypt. Surely Moses would have known about cats.

137 posted on 08/13/2008 4:19:50 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: maryz
...humanity (and the world) suffered a catastrophe, and managed to survive, in spite of wounds and injuries, clinging finally to the Ark of the Church, clutching what scraps and tatters and small belongings that could be salvaged.

Keep dreaming. The world survived in spite and despite the Arc of the Church. Most of the world got by being not even anywhere close to the Church.

Yes, if I were God, I would have done things differently too, I imagine!

Oh I see, so a Bible full of holes and forgeries is the best way to bring people to God?

138 posted on 08/13/2008 4:33:39 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50; maryz
St. Augustine writes to St. Jerome: For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the Ms. is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. [Letter 82]. I am consoled by the "or I myself have failed to understand" ;-)
139 posted on 08/13/2008 5:26:05 PM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: koinonia; maryz
St. Augustine writes to St. Jerome...I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the Ms. is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.

Me, myself and mine does not constitute a proof. He presumes to be the source of truth (his Menachean mindset is showing).

Let's also not forget that that what he calls the canonical books became canonical by decisions of men who are not considered free of error, the Church hierarchs.

140 posted on 08/13/2008 9:17:44 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50; maryz
Good morning, Maryz and Kosta50!

Kosta50, thank you for the link to the Dogmatic Faith of the Orthodox Church. I now understand your position on the Bible, since for the Orthodox the source of doctrine is Tradition, and the Bible is part of that Tradition; as opposed to the Roman Catholic which speaks of a twofold deposit of Faith: Scripture and Tradition; or the position of many Protestants of sola scriptura which I find very unbiblical.

In the article on the Orthodox Faith what I suspected to be the case was confirmed, namely the emphasis of the Orthodox on the theosis (communion with God or “deification”) of man through the Incarnate Logos, as opposed to a hyper-emphasis in the West (seemingly or really) on atonement.

Under Section IV, The Doctrine of the Church, there are the following beautiful statements:

Christ saved humankind through what He is, and through what He did for us. Beginning with St. Irenaeos, the Greek Fathers continually reiterate the statement that the Incarnate Son of God "became what we are (a human being) so that we may be deified," says St. Athanasios. By assuming our human nature, the Incarnate Logos, a divine person, brought this humanity to the heights of God. Everything that Christ did throughout His earthly life was based on the presupposition that humanity was already saved and deified, from the very moment of His conception in the womb of Mary, through the operation of the Holy Spirit. (Section IV, a).

I agree wholeheartedly. In my opinion, or according to my theologoumenon :) , this lends itself well to the position of Scotus because the primary mission of Christ here is not seen as the redemption, but rather the bringing of man into communion with God ( theosis )—after the fall, sin becomes an obstacle to that mission and thus redemption becomes a necessary part of this mission. From this perspective the mission of Christ as Mediator uniting God and man through his hypostatic union is quite capable of standing on its own, even if sin never entered the world.

In fact a little further on the article goes on to say: Jesus had the following obstacles to overcome in order for Him to accomplish the work for which He came (theosis): the obstacle of nature, the obstacle of sin, the obstacle of death, and the dominion of the devil. The obstacle of nature was overcome with His Incarnation; the obstacle of sin and death was overcome by the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus. The dominion of the devil was overcome by Christ's descent into Hades (Hell). (Section IV, c).

From this perspective the primary reason for Christ's coming is theosis, man's communion with the Triune God. The article rightly mentions "the obstacle of nature" which would still exist if sin had not entered the world. In other words, man can not enter communion with the Infinite God except by a Mediator who possesses the divine and human nature. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus, "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

Mind you, I’m not trying to dogmatize my opinion—even if I am relentless;-) it still remains my opinion. However, I must that I am edified by the fact that the Orthodox Christian perspective, which is far more positive in terms of Christ’s loving mission to elevate man into theosis, tends to be more coherent with the position of John Duns Scotus who, as a Franciscan, underscored Divine Love and the faculty of the will (love) in both God and man. Scotus often gets a bad rap because some of his so-called “disciples” (Ockham, for instance) were what we now call voluntarists and unfortunately gave rise to the Protestant revolution of the sola fide doctrine, something which Scotus would never have accepted (see the short video on this subject by Fr. Peter Fehlner, FI.

I wonder if the western focus on redemption among Catholics isn't in part the result of the Roman Catholic Church's situation after the 16th century with all the Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists and their offspring. Just a thought, I'm no theologian, but I'm even less an historian.

141 posted on 08/14/2008 2:26:01 AM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: kosta50

In humility to Him, we are able to seek and He is free to grace us with faith.

The problem with the person seeking proof of His existence is that creature is qualified to judge the Creator. We aren’t able to recognize that proof even when it is openly laid before us as it is daily.


142 posted on 08/14/2008 5:44:39 AM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: Cvengr
The problem with the person seeking proof of His existence is that creature is qualified to judge the Creator.

No one is questioning God here. I am questioning those who pretend to be the mouthpiece of God.

143 posted on 08/14/2008 8:32:25 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia; maryz
I now understand your position on the Bible, since for the Orthodox the source of doctrine is Tradition, and the Bible is part of that Tradition

Correct. The faith was before the NT was. The life of the Church existed before the NT was written. Therefore the NT reflects the life of the Church and not the other way around. The NT is a product of the Church; the Church is not a product of the NT; the Church wrote it, the Church recognized it , the Church canonized it.  Therefore, the NT, and the OT which is appended to it, reflect the faith that already existed. The faith gave rise to the scriptures, not the other way around.

144 posted on 08/14/2008 8:48:47 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia; maryz
In the article on the Orthodox Faith what I suspected to be the case was confirmed, namely the emphasis of the Orthodox on the theosis (communion with God or “deification”) of man through the Incarnate Logos, as opposed to a hyper-emphasis in the West (seemingly or really) on atonement.

The West eventually invented (or should I say returned to) the legalistic reasons of Judaism and applied them to God's atonement, neglecting to see that law and love are essentially different and mutually excusive, and that law cannot express or replace love.

This is reflected in the Gospels when Jesus "overrides" the law to save a man's life on a Sabbath, and +Paul reflects the same teachings in his Epistles regarding the issue of grace versus the law.

Theosis is rather accurately summarized in Wikipedia as

"[S]alvation from unholiness by participation in the life of God. According to this conception, the holy life of God, given in Jesus Christ to the believer through the Holy Spirit, is expressed beginning in the struggles of this life, increases in the experience of the believer through the knowledge of God, and is later consummated in the resurrection of the believer when the power of sin and death, having been fully overcome by God's life, will lose hold over the believer forever.  This conception of salvation is historically foundational for Christian understanding in both the East and the West, as it has been developed directly from the apostolic and early Christian teachings concerning the life of faith."

Christ made it possible for mankind to be saved. In order for him to die on the cross for our sins, he had to become man. Thus his Incarnation was intended for our theosis, which is salvation, thorugh the atonment for our sins mad epossible by his death. Notice that there is nothing legalistic in all this.

But let us not neglect the intent. Legalistic western Christianity sees it as obedience to sovereignty of God, rather than attachment we feel for someone we love. If we struggle in our theosis, it must be out of love and not our selfish reasons or legal obligations.

Now, no one can be made to love someone. Forced love is no love. That has to come from the heart. And some people are good at imitating love, and even pretending to love for selfish reason, but that is not love.

How many people would love God just because he is God if there were no promises of rewards? How many people would go to church only to glorify his name if there was nothing in it for us?

Mind you, I’ma not trying to dogmatize my opinion—even if I am relentless

Your attempts to connect John Duns Scotus to Orthodoxy is comparing apples and oranges. All you see is that they are both fruit! Actually, Scotus represents that (scholasticism) which Orthodoxy soundly rejected through hesichastic fathers and, in particular, thanks to St. Gregory Palamas.

He was decidedly Aristotelian in philosophy, which is not the basis for the East.

Also, Scotus' theology is basically Augustinian, and Augustinian theology was likewise rejected by the East. So, any attempts to link Scotus to Orthodoxy is a non-starter.

Finally, Scotus' logical works works are heavily disputed, save for four books.  He may have been influential in the western Church, but that in an of itself doesn't make him right.

Thanks for the video link. I must note that the concept of will, as described, is something I wholly disagree with. Will is a result of a "need." If all our needs are satisfied we have no reason to will. That "need" results either from an unconscious or conscious perception of either a lack or excess of something. Reason does not give rise to will.  Reason usually attenuates the will.

145 posted on 08/14/2008 10:31:09 AM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
So, any attempts to link Scotus to Orthodoxy is a non-starter.

Truth is truth, wherever it may be found. And there are links all over the place in the saints and among the Churches because of the Apostolic Faith. I'm not saying that Scotus was Orthodox or that the Orthodox are Scotists--just that I see an overlap of truth in both.

Regarding law--Jesus and St. Paul are speaking about the legalism of the Jewish law, but not the divine law, such as the 10 commandments. Jesus himself says, " If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15), and St. Paul several times enumerates sinners who will not enter the kingdom if they do not repent and keep the moral, divine law --drunkards, fornicators, adulterers, sodomites, etc. This is distinct from the Judaizers which St. Paul had little time for.

Regarding the will... We need God. So we will always have a will--the capacity to freely love God and neighbor.

146 posted on 08/14/2008 11:11:55 AM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: koinonia
Regarding law--Jesus and St. Paul are speaking about the legalism of the Jewish law, but not the divine law

Now you are walking on thin ice, differentiating between The Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law given to Moses (613 commandments in all; the Jews know them as the mitzvot; they are things they are to do or obstain from doing).

Christ gave us only two of "his" commandments, as they would include all 613 mitzvot.

Don't forget that the entire Torah (aka the Law) is in the Bible. Are you saying that somehow Leviticus is not from God? After all, the Jews and most Evangelicals believe that God dictated to Moses the entire Torah, word by word.

Are you saying parts of the Torah are not true? You never identified yourself as either a Catholic, Anglican or whatever, so I don't know, but I would say that wehatever your denomination is questioning the Bible is not one of its teachings.

Is this your private belief and if so, why don't you state is as such?

I love when a discussion come to this!

147 posted on 08/14/2008 1:26:09 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: kosta50
You wrote that the West fails to see that law and love are essentially different and mutually excusive, and that law cannot express or replace love.

But Jesus clearly states, "If you love me, keep my commandments... If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:15, 23)

Jesus says: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19)

In fact in the Sermon on the Mount he goes on to confirm the commandments and even further them--the teaching of Christ is even more demanding than the ten commandments.

For example, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:21-22).

He does the same for adultery, extending it to chastity of the mind; divorce; oaths; justice; love of neighbor, extending it to include enemies.

My point is that murder and adultery and false oaths and revenge are clearly against the teaching of Jesus. Jesus demands not only external observance ("Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven"), but even more, purity of intention and heart in observing them (hence not legalism). Our Lord and St. Paul never dispense from the natural law, the 10 commandments as such; and, as far as I can see, they never imply that a Christian is obliged to 613 norms of the mitzvoth as expressed in the Torah. As St. Paul points out, “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.” (Galatians 5:3). And if that is the case, "Christ shall profit you nothing...[and] ye are fallen from grace." (5:2,4) So we are justified by faith, not by the law.

Yet if we break the 10 commandments we are not justified: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Help me out. There has to be a distinction somewhere. I don't think you are saying "all or nothing"--Do we have to observe the mitzvoth in its entirety? Or no law at all, not even the 10 commandments? Is it faith alone (no law)? Or merits and good works alone (legalism)?

What is the Orthodox position on all of this?

148 posted on 08/14/2008 5:58:08 PM PDT by koinonia ("Thou art bought with the blood of God... Be the companion of Christ." -St. Ephraim)
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To: koinonia
But Jesus clearly states, "If you love me, keep my commandments..."

It's conforming to God out of love. The obedience is internal not external. We don't want to offend God! If we love God, we will not do that which would not please him the way you would never do something to hurt those you love. It's different from obeying the speed limit "because it's the law and everyone is subject to law."  

149 posted on 08/14/2008 11:22:29 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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To: koinonia
My point is that murder and adultery and false oaths and revenge are clearly against the teaching of Jesus.

He merely taught the mitzvot.

150 posted on 08/14/2008 11:24:15 PM PDT by kosta50 (Eastern Orthodoxy is pure Christianity)
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