Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Eastern Orthodoxy's gospel

Let's recap a brief conversation with DavidW, unofficial representative of Eastern Orthodox and official biblical errantist.

Me: 2) DavidW, if we don't hold to the same Gospel, how is it that you've said that I'm not headed for Hell (if my current trajectory holds)? Did you change your mind on that, or is your Gospel not all that central to how one escapes damnation?

DavidW: I trust in the loving mercy of our good God and Father.

Me: God's loving mercy unto relief from damnation (ie, salvation) is granted outside of the Gospel?

DavidW: "With God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:26.

Me: You don't think quoting Matt 19:26 in reply to that question is just a tad out of context?

DavidW: I trust in the loving mercy of our God and Father, with whom all things are possible -- and I leave it at that.


Maybe it would be helpful if we could define "Gospel". I assume you'd agree that from its Greek root, it means "good news".

What is the good news offered? Isn't it that Jesus Christ has come to take away sin, forgive sin, and give eternal life? What could be better news than that? "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?"

Why is that good news? Because we're sinners! What's the problem with that? Why does it matter that we're sinners? B/c God is angry with sin AND sinners, no?


Lk 3:7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness

Rom 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,

Rom 4:14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

Rom 9:22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

Col 2: 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Col 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.

1 John 5:11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

Rev 6:16they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Rev 14:10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”


What is the remedy for this? Jesus Christ!
What does Jn 3:36 mean?
--If one believes in Christ --> eternal life.
--If one does not believe in Christ --> not eternal life. Wrath.

And you want to tell me that Matthew 19:26's "all things are possible with God" means "self-contradiction is possible with God"?
I guess since you're an errantist, you're free to do whatever you want in this case. Do you really think that Jesus forgot His discussion with Nicodemus when He said Matthew 19:26, or vice versa? Or maybe your grand inclusivity is wrongheaded and exhibits postmodern politically correct inclusivism? I expect that from someone like Billy Graham, not from a representative of "the ancient Church".
When I was considering conversion to EOC, this is one of the things that bothered me greatly - your theology doesn't make a very big deal out of sin. It's only gotten worse and more obvious in the years since I stopped considering it.

35 comments:

Matthew Bellisario said...

Rhology said, "your theology doesn't make a very big deal out of sin."

This is absurd. Have you even read any Orthodox theology books? If you had, then you would not be making foolish comments like this one. One has to wonder how hard you actually studied Eastern Orthodoxy. Did you actually consider studying their theology before you actually rejected it? Or did you just glance at a few blog sites and decide to stick to your Protestant religion of convenience?

Edward Reiss said...

Matthew,

"This is absurd. Have you even read any Orthodox theology books? If you had, then you would not be making foolish comments like this one. One has to wonder how hard you actually studied Eastern Orthodoxy. Did you actually consider studying their theology before you actually rejected it? Or did you just glance at a few blog sites and decide to stick to your Protestant religion of convenience?"

Isn't this response by you just an insult? You haven't added any information. All you did was claim that Rhology misunderstands EOdoxy.

So, go ahread and enlighten us on how serious EOdoxy takes sin. That would be refuting Rhology's argument. Otherwise it looks like you just want to throw rhetorical bombs.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Edward. Should I really have to go through and quote Orthodox Saints and theologians to prove Rhology wrong? To say that Orthodoxy doesn't take sin seriously is like saying that water doesn't consist of hydrogen and oxygen. It is a fact that Orthodoxy takes sin very seriously. Frankly I can't believe anyone would make such a claim about Orthodoxy. But then again, look who were are dealing with here.

"Sin gains power over us in that it has buried itself deeply in us and has taken its seat in us, in our hearts, in our passionate flesh, and has made itself a fortress out of our own passions, out of our self-love, concupiscence, love of honor, pride, love of possessions, incontinence, self-conceit, little faith, unbelief, free-thinking, hypocrisy, partiality, laziness; and by these passions, as with mighty weapons, it shoots us down and takes us into captivity, cutting us off, alienating us from Christ, our true Life. Wherefore he who desires salvation must dig, delve into his heart, and lay his foundation upon the rock, that is, upon Christ the Saviour, upon strong, unshakable faith in Him, upon hope on Him, and upon no one and nothing else,—upon strong love for Him and his neighbor."

Saint John of Krondstadt

How many quotes do I need to provide to prove Rhology wrong? I'm just curious?

St. Seraphim's Fellowship said...

The Lord said that by their fruits, you shall know them! There are now more than Forty Thousand Protestant denominations and still growing. All of these people sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit is leading them into all truth, and yet none of them agree with each other. This is mass confusion! God is not the author of confusion! Man is! I think that you must be very arrogant to say that you "know" the mind of God, especially when He said My Thoughts are not your thoughts....Matthew only responded with Truth, that all things are possible with God. You, on the other hand exercised your human reason and the same Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura that has all of the Protestants disagreeing with each other. And we should be impressed with your biblical insight? I don't think so! God gives Grace to the humble. It is apparent that there is little humility in your attack of Orthodoxy, mostly arrogant pharisical rambling. I hope that you will remember that He resists the proud, and do a little more praying and soul searching. The Bible was not intended to be a weapon against another Christian. I think it is possible that perhaps you don't know as much about Christianity as you would like everyone to believe!
Rhology, I will pray for you, that God will touch your heart, so you won't be puffed up in your head with so much spiritual pride. Pride is the most serious of the passions. It is impossible to overcome without God's Help. The Orthodox Church teaches it's members to repent and cry out to God for the Grace to overcome this colossal sin. You see we are supposed to be overcomers! Perhaps you missed this in your "study" of Orthodoxy. Maybe you should take another look, but with a different heart.

Seraphim (An Orthodox Christian)

Acolyte4236 said...

I'm Orthodox and I am trying to figure out here what argument or claim is being defended or attacked. From what I can tell it seems like two people talking past each other.

As far as the Orthodox view of sin, the Orthodox certainly think they take it seriously. Of course if we start with the assumption that the scriptural passages mean what the Reformed think they mean, then obviously Orthodoxy won't measure up. But of course all that tells us is that the Orthodox are not Reformed and don't agree with what the Reformed think those verses mean.

For the Orthodox, the wages of sin is death. The sting of death is sin. A remission of sins without a rectification of the state of death is useless. Death is inherited but no personal guilt (there is no other kind). In Adam all then die. so we inherit the consequences of sin, namely death. So for the Orthodox there is no extrinsic imputation of guilt.

As for wrath and divine anger, even the Reformed do not take those passages literally but anthropomorphically. God has no emotional dispositions for the Reformed since God is not moved by anything eternal to him. Strictly speaking, we don't make God angry.

To say that God's mercy is granted outside or only within the gospel is ambiguous. Does this mean that explicit knowledge of the gospel message is required or that only because of in terms of causation, the gospel being true is God's mercy extended?

I would like to know though what Orthodox theology you've ready prior to launching a criticism of it? Whatever the case, would you find it acceptable if someone did the same for your position?

beowulf2k8 said...

Rhology said, "your theology doesn't make a very big deal out of sin."

Maybe they view actual actions as sin, and not merely being human, stupid.

Rhology said...

I would like to know though what Orthodox theology you've ready prior to launching a criticism of it?

I laid it out specifically in the post, people. DavidW is an educated EO layman. I have always been told that EOdox are doctrinally unified, so I have every reason to impute his views to the whole of EOC. Seraphim even reinforced that with the petty, overused, and long-since refuted "40K denominations" argument (wow, it's up to 40K now! Who knew?).

And taking 'emotions' anthropomorphically doesn't mean that alluvasudden "wrath" doesn't mean "wrath", I hasten to remind you.

Peace,
Rhology

Edward Reiss said...

"How many quotes do I need to provide to prove Rhology wrong? I'm just curious?"

Perhaps I should quote Bishop Hilarion:

"Quoting St. Isaac the Syrian, a 7th-century holy man revered in Russian Orthodoxy as 'famous among saints,' Bishop Hilarion noted that 'God does nothing out of retribution. Even to think that way about God would be blasphemous. Even worse is the opinion that God allows people to lead a sinful life on earth in order to punish them eternally after death. This is a blasphemous and perverted understanding of God, a calumny of God.'"

Link:

http://tinyurl.com/yckzctx

As I am sure you are aware, in Western Christianity, God's "retribution" against sin is a major theme. Just have a look ad religious art if you don;t believe me. For a large proportion of Eastern Orthodox, the concept is mor eor less waved away. Thus, depending on which EO one is speaking with, it may indeed seem to be that EOdoxy does not take sin seriously.

Supplying quotes is a little useless, as a lot of things have been said over the centuries by canonized EOdox saints, much of which makes sin a wound which does not impede our seeking God. For instance, as a Western Christian, you probably believe that Adam had perfect fellowship with God, "a state of holiness and justice" according to the catechism. (http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s2c1p6.htm#375)The EOdox woild reject this, as they believe Adam was naive, and was not in a state of holiness and justice, but on the path of theosis toward ever greater participation in the divine energies. The difference is subtile, but real. On the one hand we in the West teach Adam had holiness and justice, in the East they teach he was on the *path* to holiness and justice.

It has to do with the theological focus of EOdoxy--theosis, where in the West we are more focused on justice and mercy.

Edward Reiss said...

Acolyte,

"As for wrath and divine anger, even the Reformed do not take those passages literally but anthropomorphically. God has no emotional dispositions for the Reformed since God is not moved by anything eternal to him. Strictly speaking, we don't make God angry."

What do you believe God's wrath against sin is?

St. Seraphim's Fellowship said...

Dear Rhology:
(excerpt taken from source)
According to David Barrett et al, editors of the "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. "Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations." Most people in the world follow one of the religions listed in the table below. (table not shown in this post)Included is the name of the religion, the approximate date of its origin, its main sacred or ethical texts (if any) and its estimated numerical strength (both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the world's population.)

These data are based on census or public opinion data. Thus, a person is considered to be of a particular religion if they say that they are of that faith. Thus, about 75% of the adults in both the U.S. and Canada are Christians. Many individuals and religious groups have much more strict definitions for membership. Many conservative Christians believe that one has to be "born again" in order to be counted as a Christian. Using this definition, only about 35% of Americans would be counted as Christians. This difference in definitions between conservative Christians and the rest of the population causes much confusion. (God is not the author of confusion) Some of the approximately 1,000 Christian faith groups in the U.S. and Canada believe themselves to be the only true Christian denomination. Thus, depending on the definition used, the percentage of Christians in the U.S. are between 0.1 and 75% of the total population. (These statistics are from 2005)

So, here you have all these Protestants, all being lead by The Holy Spirit, into all Truth. Why is it that they all have different Truths? As a Reformed christian, do you hold to the same Truth as the Baptists? If you believe in total depravity, then by the "clear reading of scripture" the Baptists must surely agree with you, don't they? or is your truth just relative to your own brand of Tradition? You are being very dishonest, if you do not face the truth of this folly. No Scripture is of any private interpretation!

Rhology said...

Seraphim,

You realise that exact same resource lists EOC with hundreds of denominations, don't you?

Rhology said...

Seraphim,

Here, take a look.

Seriously, get a better argument. This one does you no good.

Rhology said...

Seraphim,

I can't blv ppl still say that about 2 Peter 1:20.
Interpretation of a prophecy received by an individual church member, is not in view here; rather the emphasis is on the means of God's inspiring the text. Peter says that the prophetic word is yet more certain than his own eyewitness experiences, and goes on to tell us that "no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God".

bkaycee said...

Same source quotes Roman Catholic Church as responsible for killing almost 5 million martyrs. 5th on the alltime murder list.

.... who was responsible for killing these martyrs. Secular governments and atheists score big, with 55,597,000 and 31,519,000 respectively. The Muslims are high-performers on the martyr-production scale as well with 9,101,000 to their credit. Animists come in fourth with 7,469,000, and guess who is #5 on the martyr-producing hit parade? Yes, Roman Catholicism, with 4,951,000! I wonder if Ray and Staples will be quoting that statistic anytime soon? And if not, why not?

Acolyte4236 said...

Rhology,

Well I read the post and I didn’t see any bibliography. Doctrinal unity in terms of the conditions for communion are hardly sufficient to entail that every member is equally informed and equally well informed. The OPC has strict doctrinal uniformity but I dare say I can start asking various members pointed questions and get different answers. This is why one goes to representative sources-creeds, confessions, representative theologians, etc. So I’ll ask again, what primary and secondary literature have you read on the position you are criticizing?

I never said that taking human language ascribed to God doesn’t imply that God doesn’t have wrath, but you seemed to be reading it in some literal way, which even your own theologians deny. At best it is analogous to human anger, but given how analogical predication works nothing makes God angry since God is unmoved, immutable and impassible. Consequently, why don’t you precisely spell out what “wrath” means given those theological commitments? Until you do it isn’t clear at all that the passages you cite count against the Orthodox position.

Rhology said...

Acolyte,

Sorry, should I go into any interaction with a decently well-informed EO with the presumption that they're in DISunity with EOC? Help me out here - let me know what I should do.
It wouldn't be such a big deal if EOC didn't do so much chest-thumping about all your "unity". Just look at Seraphim in this very combox! Maybe you could clean out your own closet, or make an effort at least. You can start here.

My point is very simple, and that's why I've quoted so many "wrath" passages. How is sin a big deal when wrath is denied? If you want a definition of "wrath", read the psgs cited above and their surrounding context. I can't do better than that.

Acolyte4236 said...

Edward Reiss,

You asked I believe what I think divine wrath is. The issue here isn't what I think it is, but what the Reformed do since that is the only way that the post's texts could count against any position. We'd need to know what the Reformed mean by "wrath" first. then we'd need to see a demonstration that that concept is found in the biblical text.

As for the Orthodox, not much reading in Fathers like Basil will make clear how the Orthodox understand it. Or you could just exegete 2 thess 1:9.

You also agued against Matthew that he needs to explain how seriouslythe Orthodox take sin to refute the "argument" given. But I think you miss the burden of proof. Rhology is doing the asserting so he bears the burden of proof. Of couse he'd need to be well informed about Orthodox theology to do that. And of course one should become well informed before making arguments against a position. So far I haven't seen any reason to think that he is or that he can fairly and acurately represent the Orthodox view.

Louis said...

"Same source quotes Roman Catholic Church as responsible for killing almost 5 million martyrs. 5th on the alltime murder list."

Bravo, sir! But they must have been heretics, and God must have authorized it, because the Roman bishop never errs.

Acolyte4236 said...

Rhology,

I think you are confusing the conditions for doctrinal uniformity with the conditions on doxastic/mental isomorphism. As I noted, this isn’t true even for the most strict of the Reformed bodies such as the OPC or the Covenanters. If you think David is adequate why indicate that he is an “unofficial” representative?

I think you should make an argument with premises and clear inference rules. To make sure your premises are sound, you should garner those premises from sources that your opponent will accept. So far all I have seen are some vague claims and copy-pasting of biblical material.

And of course, you leave unanswered how exactly the Reformed understand the concept of divine wrath and then how that concept is derived from the biblical material. To demonstrate that you are correct this is what we’d need to know.

As for Orthodox chest pounding, I am not clear how that will show that your argument is a good one and so seems to me to be quite irrelevant.

You assert but do not demonstrate that the Orthodox reject the biblical concept of wrath. The Orthodox do not disagree with any of the biblical passages you cited and none of them are self exegeting or give a conceptual analysis for the concepts that they employ. That is derived from them by other means than simply reading the surface grammar. Consequently, they do not give a definition in terms of the necessary and sufficient conditions for x to be y. Talking about something, using a term and so forth isn’t the same as giving a definition. People can use terms quite well without defining them. So why don’t you give a definition of “wrath” first?

Edward Reiss said...

Acolyte,

"You asked I believe what I think divine wrath is. The issue here isn't what I think it is, but what the Reformed do since that is the only way that the post's texts could count against any position."

I think what you believe divine wrath is is quite important, for it goes, I believe, to the core of why a Reformed person would say the Orthodox "don't make a big deal out of sin". I understand different paradigms are at work, but for clarity it would be better if we understood what "big deal" means for each party.

So, I will repeat my question:

"What do you believe God's wrath against sin is?"

Then we can decide if the question is as absurd as Matthew claimed it is.

Edward Reiss said...

Acolyte,

"The Orthodox do not disagree with any of the biblical passages you cited and none of them are self exegeting or give a conceptual analysis for the concepts that they employ."

Which is why an explanation by you (or another Orthodox) of what this wrath is would be very illuminating.

Rhology said...

As I noted, this isn’t true even for the most strict of the Reformed bodies such as the OPC or the Covenanters.

OPC doesn't make the same claims as EOC, so I don't know why you'd bring that up. You make the grandiose claims, you back them up.


So far all I have seen are some vague claims and copy-pasting of biblical material.

I don't look at you and think "Definitely unbiased and willing to follow obvious biblical inferences", to be honest.



Reformed understand the concept of divine wrath and then how that concept is derived from the biblical material

I gave you instructions in my previous comment.
Also, I missed where I mentioned Reformed teaching in the post. Maybe you could quote it.


The Orthodox do not disagree with any of the biblical passages you cited

Really, now?

Acolyte4236 said...

Edward,

I think it is quite important too, but I am not sure how that is relevant to the Reformed putting forth a sound argument here. If the Reformed here wish to claim that the Orthodox “don’t make a big deal out of sin” then I would think that the Reformed would bear the burden of proof for all parts of their arguments.

It would be better if all had the appropriate understanding at hand and that is what the person making the claim is supposed to have. This is what the objector should have in hand already. If they don’t then I don’t see how they can make their claims stick. If they do, then we’d need some reason to think so. I’ve asked for some reason to think so, like bibliographical references and such and I haven’t seen it yet.

St. Seraphim's Fellowship said...

Dear Rhology:

You are correct that there are many divisions within Orthodoxy. These divisions are primarily ethnic in nature, some are more significant like divisions over the calendar controversy, but as incredible as it may seem to you, they all agree on Dogma and Theology and most are in full communion with each other. The various autocephalous and autonomous synods of the Eastern Orthodox Church are distinct in terms of administration and local culture, but for the most part exist in full communion with one another. It has always encouraged me as an Orthodox Christian to know that God's Strength is made perfect in weakness! 2 Cor 12:9 This is much different than the divisions found in Protestantism. Here there is "no" agreement on Dogma or Theology. This, of course is where the real debate resides. There is no real fruitful basis for debate in Rationalism, or Empiricism, or in the many changing faces of sola Scriptura. It is after all just your opinion, albeit a very biased one from your own brand of rational biblical interpretation. I think it is very sad that Protestants believe that their rational understanding will somehow cause them to be closer to God. It is impossible to understand God! Truth is only known in the heart! We do not worship the Bible, we worship God. I do not intend to enter a Scriptural shooting match with you, but I cannot resist pointing out how shallow your understanding of 2 Pet 20,21 was. (very typical of the way Protestants make doctrine, especially Calvinists) A more correct understanding would be to understand that The testimony of the Apostles both confirms prophetic word (v 19) concerning the second coming and shows how to interpret prophecy. Just as Scripture (v,20) was not written by the mere volition of men but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (V, 21), so Scripture is to be interpreted by "Holy Men" guided by the Holy Spirit. Heretics (Ch. 2) and unstable Christians (3:16) interpret incorrectly. The Apostles (the we of verse 19) are guided by the Holy Spirit, trusting in the promise of true interpretation (Jn 16:13). The Church, founded by the Apostles, likewise receives the Holy Spirit. "For the Apostles, like a rich man in a bank, deposited with her [The Church] most copiously everything which pertains to the truth. And everyone who wishes, draws from her the drink of life. For She is the entrance to life, while all the rest ate thieves and robbers. That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them, while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of Truth (Iren) .

1 Tim 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
KJV

1 Tim 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

In no place is this said of Scripture, only The Church!

Acolyte4236 said...

The OPC doesn’t need to make the same claims. They make the same claim respecting doctrinal uniformity, which is relevant. This is why it serves as a counter example. Even the most strict and doctrinally uniform bodies do not entail that every member has exactly the same mental content grasped in exactly the same way. Moreover, the Orthodox do not make the claim that it is so. If you think they do make this claim, then please cite some normative Orthodox source to support your claims.

Frankly I don’t think you know me, nor I you, which is why it is important to give demonstrations that to not rely on character traits or habits. So again, I haven’t really seen an argument put forward yet. There might be an implied argument there, but you need to formulate it.

You pointed me to biblical passages, which I noted justreading the surface grammar are insufficient to pick out a specific theological model in Christian history. Exegesis is required. If you do not think that your beliefs require biblical exegesis, then we will need to look to some other means to establish your points.

You seemed to be putting forward a Reformation understanding. I garnered that from your language as well as say the blog title and such. If you disavow Reformed theology, then please inform me of that and I will happily admit that I have made a faulty inference.

Nothing in the post you reference indicates on its surface that the Orthodox deny the biblical passages you cited. There is no statement to the effect that “Paul is clearly wrong in Colossians” and such. All that is entailed is that the Orthodox do not agree with the Reformed on the meaning of divine wrath, but we knew that already, which is just to say that the Orthodox aren’t Reformed and vice versa.

This is why you need to show that those passages or any of them, pick one for example, mean what the Reformed say they mean. But to do that, we’d need to get a definition from you as to what divine wrath means and then see how it is derived from the biblical text to the exclusion of the Orthodox concept. And we’d need you to spell out the Orthodox concept likewise in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. I am not looking for a professional analysis but some rough and ready gloss would certainly be helpful that at least gestured at the respective concepts.

So can you give a definition of divine wrath?

Acolyte4236 said...

Rhology,

You wrote: “I don't look at you and think "Definitely unbiased and willing to follow obvious biblical inferences", to be honest.”

Let’s suppose that this is true, that I am unwilling and/or unable to follow truth preserving inferences. I am not sure how that shows that your argument is a good one.

The appropriate response it seems would be to lay out the argument with premises and the inference rules so that people could judge based on those things that the argument was truth preserving and that I simply failed to follow the rules of right reason probably due to some character and mental defect on my part.

As it stands though, this is just ad hominem. I keep asking for the argument, even in simplified form and responding with personal attacks doesn’t see to present your argument. Can you present the argument?

Rhology said...

Seraphim,

You've moved the goalposts, changed the argument, abandoned the original claim. I'm glad to see that, honestly - it shows you're not obstinate like so many others are.

But the essence of the bad thinking on your part remains. So, there are divisions in EOC, and those are OK, but divisions among Prots are NOT OK. Why the double standard?

Would you feel better if I simply assured you that my church also considers that all other Protestants who, as you said, "agree on Dogma and Theology and most are in full communion with each other" are our brethren, and those who don't, aren't? Why wouldn't that erase the basis for your claims?

Also, surely you're aware that "Protestantism" isn't a church. It's a whole bunch. Better to compare rule of faith with rule of faith, or church with church. Would you care to compare EOC with the Southern Baptist Convention? Calvary Chapel? Who would do better then?



so Scripture is to be interpreted by "Holy Men" guided by the Holy Spirit.

Sort of, but that is totally absent from 2 Peter 1. You eisegeted it, didn't you? Is eisegesis OK in EOC?



Acolyte,

OPC does make that same claim? Well...if you say so, but I'd put their unity over EOC's any day. Further, I'm not OPC so can't speak for them.

So unity does NOT exist in EOC, is what you're saying? OK, fair enough.


Frankly I don’t think you know me

I've read quite a lot of your blog and convos.


There might be an implied argument there, but you need to formulate it.

I don't have time right now to write a whole lot more than that. I'm sure with your extensive history of discussing with Reformed ppl, you can figure it out.



If you do not think that your beliefs require biblical exegesis

Um, I think I said the exact opposite. This is why I have little confidence in YOU, specifically, w.r.t. getting to a place where we can actually have good dialogue.


All that is entailed is that the Orthodox do not agree with the Reformed on the meaning of divine wrath

The problem, of course, is that the Reformed understanding of wrath IS the biblical one.


Can you present the argument?

Yes, done. See the original post.

Acolyte4236 said...

Rhology,

If you take the unity of the OPC over the Orthodox, that makes my point stick all the more. If their unity is more strict and they don’t require mental isomorphism, so much more is the case with the Orthodox. So your admission here only further supports my argument that you are confusing doctrinal unity with something else.

I affirm that there is doctrinal uniformity in Orthodoxy, but I don’t think that entails that every member has the same exact mental content held in exactly the same way, as you seem to think it does. It doesn’t for Reformed bodies that are doctrinally united and so I see no reason to think that it does for the Orthodox either.

I’ve seen a fair amount of your postings, but I don’t think I know you or your character. We’ve never eaten together, talked via phone or in person, told our life stories to each other, etc. So reading my blog and convos doesn’t mean you know me. In any case, its irrelevant. Its best to stick to the arguments rather than make ad hominem's.

So I am not clear when you say you don’t have the time right now. Is it that you don’t have time to give the argument or you did give the argument? Is there some third option here? And would it take a whole lot more to write five or six premises and a conclusion? Then the argument must be far more complicated than you originally presented it. In which case its implausible that what has been written so far really packs any argumentative punch.

And given the smoke up my posterior about my extensive history of dialoging with Reformed people (you left out actually having been Reformed too, btw) I can figure it out. But I am not burdened with your argumentative responsibilities. Its your argument, not mine. And second because you say I can figure it out, I think it’s a bad argument. So given your expressed confidence in my experience and intellectual abilities, which seems to cut against your previous ad hominem of not being able to follow inferences, I think it’s a bad argument. But why then do you not agree?

If you think the exact opposite regarding exegetical support for your beliefs, then pick a passage and provide an exegesis that selects for only your concept of divine wrath and then sketch what the concept is. As for exegesis, we do not agree on an exegetical method because we have different Christologies. Exegetical methodologies are not Christologically neutral a la Van Til.

I agree that you assert that the Reformed understanding of wrath is the biblical one, but I fail to see how asserting it is so amounts to a demonstration that it is so. If you don’t provide one, then the entire argument assumes something not yet demonstrated and so begs the question.

You wrote: “Also, I missed where I mentioned Reformed teaching in the post. Maybe you could quote it.”

If you take the Reformed view to be the biblical one, does this mean that you in fact endorse Reformed theology or no? Because in the previous post you seemed to chide me for inferring that you were presenting Reformed teaching. I don’t want to go out of bounds and impute to you a view you do not hold. So please, clarify for me. Was the teaching you were presenting Reformed or no in your estimation? If it wasn’t, then it would make sense to ask that I provide evidence that you were putting Reformed teaching forward. But if it was, then the request makes no sense, unless you are unclear on what Reformed teaching is. Are you? And further, if it wasn’t Reformed teaching, then that seems to contradict your claim that “the Reformed understanding of wrath IS the biblical one.”

If you presented the argument, can you just copy paste it here? But of course you wrote above that you didn’t have time to do this, so I am not clear on if you presented an argument or not and if so where it is to be found. Please point it out to me. It won't take uch time to copy paste it, will it? As I noted before, I read the original post and I don’t really see an argument there.

St. Seraphim's Fellowship said...

Dear Rhology:
You bring to mind an old fable by Aesop. I dedicate it to you! A horse by any other name!

In the Days of old, when Horses spoke Greek and Latin, and Asses made Syllogisms, there happen’d an Encounter upon the Road, betwixt a proud pamper’d Jade in the full Course of his Carriere, and a poor creeping Ass, under a heavy Burden, that had chopt into the same Track with him. Why, how now Sirrah, says he, d’ye not see by these Arms and Trappings, to what Master I belong? And, d’ye not understand that when I have that Master of mine upon my Back, the whole Weight of the State rests upon my Shoulders? Out of the Way thou slavish insolent Animal, or I’ll tread thee to dirt. The wretched Ass immediately slunk aside, with this envious Reflection betwixt his Teeth, [What would I give to change Conditions with that happy Creature there.] This Fancy would not out of the Head of him, ‘till it was his hap some few Days after to see this very Horse doing Drudgery in a common dung Cart. Why how now Friend (says the Ass) how comes this about? Only the Chance of the War, says the other: I was a Soldier’s Horse, you must know; and my Master carried me into a Battle, where I was shot, hack’d and maim’d; and now you have here before your Eyes the Catastrophe of my Fortune.
THE MORAL. The Folly, and the Fate of Pride and Arrogance. The Mistake of placing Happiness in any Thing that may be taken away, and the Blessing of Freedom in a mean Estate.

Life may change your mind concerning many things. Good Luck to you! I hope you do not hurt yourself when you fall!

Rhology said...

I affirm that there is doctrinal uniformity in Orthodoxy, but I don’t think that entails that every member has the same exact mental content held in exactly the same way, as you seem to think it does.

So it's a meaningless contention, the unity of EOC. Gotcha.


So reading my blog and convos doesn’t mean you know me. In any case, its irrelevant.

I know something about the way you argue (and don't argue). I didn't say I knew your dental hygiene habits. I said that I'm familiar with the way you argue.


Is it that you don’t have time to give the argument or you did give the argument?

I don't have time to write it out, and I don't see what's unclear about the original post. I'm sorry you do. Perhaps re-reading it would help, and taking note of all the boldfaced "wrath"s. They're there for a reason, and here's the really important part - they define themselves if you read them closely.


As for exegesis, we do not agree on an exegetical method because we have different Christologies.

I suppose you could be right about that. Mine is orthodox, yours is monophysite, given your beliefs about theosis and especially the Eucharist.
But to be honest, I'm not trying to convince YOU. You are proving to be just as dense as I've seen from you before. So all of this noise you're making is, I don't know, not that important to me.


does this mean that you in fact endorse Reformed theology or no? Because in the previous post you seemed to chide me for inferring that you were presenting Reformed teaching.

1) Irrelevant.
2) I am a Calvinist Baptist, lean amill. I guess I'm "Reformed" enough for some, not enough for others. Just FYI.
3) I didn't chide you, I was correcting you, that our focus should be on the biblical text, not irrelevant (for this discussion) labels like "Reformed". Comments like this don't lend me a lot of confidence in your exegetical abilities anyway.


As I noted before, I read the original post and I don’t really see an argument there.

And that's precisely what I mean. If you read the conversation between DavidW and me, are at least basically familiar with the Manhattan Dec, and read the OP, and STILL don't know what I'm talking about, perhaps it's best you move on.


Seraphim,

And may you learn that pagan fables are no substitute for a good biblical argument or understanding of divine revelation.
My boast is in Christ, nothing of myself. It's not my fault that Christ is true.

Peace,
Rhology

Acolyte4236 said...

Rhology,

So your implied argument is that doctrinal uniformity entails that each and every member be equally well informed and have all the same relevant beliefs held in the exact same way and since this isn’t the case then there is no other relevant sense of doctrinal unity? First you didn’t show that this the idea that Orthodox claim for themselves. Second, the conditions are too strong since it would imply that even the most strict Reformed bodies fail to have doctrinal uniformity.

My argumentative habits seem not to be relevant to making claims about my supposed lack of moral honesty. Knowing one will not necessarily imply the second, unless you first establish that I am dishonest in my argumentative habits, which you haven’t done and frankly I think you are going to have hard time proving. And in any case it isn’t relevant to the question of whether any argument, yours or mine is a good one, argumentative habits or no.

So you don’t have time to write say five or six premises and a conclusion? But you do have time to write the same amount or more text saying you don’t have time to write the argument out? Got it.

I am aware of the term WRATH in the texts. I am just fine with text talking about DIVINE WRATH. What I have yet to see is a DEFINITION of divine wrath, an exegesis showing that that concept is derived from the text and then a definition from the Orthodox of divine WRATH and then an argument putting it together showing that one is incompatible with the other.

Word’s define themselves? This isn’t even true on the most extreme form of semantic atomism. If word’s defined themselves, what then is the use of a Lexicon? Words are defined by their usage and exegesis in part ascertains that usage. To say that words define themselves implies that exegesis is unnecessary. Do words define themselves for God, as if their meaning was somehow free floating from deity? Do you endorse some form of Platonism then regarding semantics and deity?

Secondly, it would imply that people do not agree on the meaning of words because some people are competent users of a language and others simply aren’t. So the claim then is that the Orthodox simply don’t know how the word WRATH is properly used. But of course, you’d need to SHOW how the term is used by what it MEANS. Citing examples of a word doesn’t show what it MEANS. So again, can you show what WRATH means in any one of those passages?



I don’t know how I could be monophysite since I reject monophysitism and I fully affirm not only dyophysitism but dyothelitism and dyoenergism. If you claim that my Christology is monophysite, then you bear the burden of proof to support that claim. I don’t care if you are trying to convince me or not. That is irrelevant to the burden you bear to support your own claims. If you can’t support your own claims, then you should refrain from making them.

Mentioning theosis and the Eucharist doesn’t show how my view is monophysite. Theosis DENIES a change of essence in humanity, so it can’t be monophysite. The Orthodox don’t hold to transubstantiation.

Perhaps I am dense, but that is irrelevant to whether your argument is a good one or not or whether you can support your assertions. You seem to consistently mistake attacking the source of an argument for the argument since this now the second time you’ve made claims about my person. Comments like this don’t instill in me any confidence about your honesty or reasoning skills since you can’t seem to discuss a matter without making personal insults and assaults. Now, do comments like that really do anything for your position or mine? No, so why not simply drop them and make an actual argument?

I read the convo between you and David. I read the Manhattan Dec and such and I see so far as I said before two people talking past each other since the claims made are too ambiguous.

Perhaps it is best you make an actual argument. It would be a lot faster and more profitable than writing insults, which only hurts your own cause.

Rhology said...

Acolyte,

your implied argument is that doctrinal uniformity entails that each and every member be equally well informed and have all the same relevant beliefs held in the exact same way

The claim to doctrinal unity is not mine; it's yours. My line of questioning is a rebuttal of that claim.


Second, the conditions are too strong since it would imply that even the most strict Reformed bodies fail to have doctrinal uniformity.

That's not of any concern to me, since I don't base my identification of The True Church® on institutional, organisational unity. But you do.



So you don’t have time to write say five or six premises and a conclusion?


Anyone can read what I actually said.



Word’s define themselves? This isn’t even true on the most extreme form of semantic atomism.

Have I not mentioned the word "context" at least twice?


If you claim that my Christology is monophysite, then you bear the burden of proof to support that claim

Actually, I probably spoke too soon on that, so I'll have to withdraw it. Forgot for a moment that EO don't hold to transubstantiation.
My apologies.

Acolyte4236 said...

Rhology,

I agree that the claim of doctrinal unity is not yours, which is why you should only pour into the meaning that its users pick out. You haven’t shown that you’ve done that. What you have done it implicitly provide a meaning of your own and then construct an objection on that supplied meaning. That’s called a straw man.

The strength of conditions is of concern to you unless you claim that your specific Reformed body doesn’t need doctrinal uniformity. If it does, then it is quite germane since you will need to give a gloss other than the one you gave.

Further, you claim it is a rebuttal, but I think you meant to claim it was a refutation and not a rebuttal. The latter affirms the truth of the claim but denies certain implications follow from it or are problematic. A refutation shows that the claim isn’t true, doesn’t follow from the premises, etc.

The claim isn’t about institutional or organizational unity, but doctrinal. Retreating to the invisible church won’t be an available avenue of escape since the Reformation traditions affirmed some measure of doctrinal uniformity for the visible church to be a true visible church. If this isn’t he case with you, I can’t see how Reformation claims of Rome being a false visible church can stick. On the other hand, if it did amount to organizational unity, then what this or that member beliefs can't function as a basis to argue that the Orthodox fail to meet that kind of unity.

I do not take doctrinal unity to be a sufficient condition, but it doesn’t follow that I don’t take it to be a necessary condition.

If anyone can read what you wrote and figure out what the argument is, either I am not part of the set of “anyone” or you are mistaken. If it were that obvious, then point me to where the argument is exactly.

If you appeal to context to derive the meaning of words, then words do not explain themselves, their contexts function in a way to fix their semantic context. Trying to shift form naïve semantic atomism to a more sentential account just shows how inadequate your initial claim was and so you concede the point implicitly, otherwise there’d be no need to refer to context.

Rhology said...

Trying to shift form naïve semantic atomism to a more sentential account just shows how inadequate your initial claim was and so you concede the point implicitly, otherwise there’d be no need to refer to context.

Well, despite my prior knowledge, I was not careful enough to raise my language to the level of pedantry you seem to find necessary.
I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any time in which I've expressed the idea that words, especially words in the Bible, have great communicative power apart from their surrounding context. That said, I find it hard to believe you didn't know exactly what I was saying and are just using high-falootin' language to make me sound like I think words are Platonistic entities in and of themselves or whatever. I'm not particularly interested in that kind of discussion, and I think the texts speak for themselves quite well anyway.

Acolyte4236 said...

Rhology,

If you think I am being pedantic, then you need again to give an argument for the claim. Asserting claims isn’t exactly a rational way to advance a position. I think you’re being imprecise and I gave reasons for thinking so.

Second, so if I am precise then I get accused of being pedantic. Got it. In any case, accusing me of being pedantic leaves my points untouched.

I don’t presume to know exactly what you mean which is why I put the implications as interrogatives. I figured I’d let you explain exactly what you meant.

I simply went off your claim that “words explain themselves” which seemed so obviously absurd as to merit some kind of reductio. Likewise I don’t know what it means to say that words have great communicative power apart from surrounding context. Do you mean individual words or individual sentences? And what do you think they communicate apart form the context if context fixes meaning? If context fixes meaning then whatever they’re communicating it isn’t semantic content.