Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Continuing w/Rhology

Former comments here have led to my long response. Rather than break it up in a combox, I brought it back here.

Christ is risen!

Re: 1 Jn 5.13: I quoted, somewhere in previous comments, St. Paul's psg of not having attained it, but pressing on towards it, its being sthg that Christ has already apprehended (our salvation) and which we might eventually thus co-apprehend (though it's already apprehended). So I would say that we never actually possess eternal life through any works, but the movement/orientation of our lives twd XC through our works is what prepares us for our own, final apprehension by Him. "He perfects the partially-unwilling human at death," as you said.

” I bet [Adam and Eve] didn't want to leave [the garden]…I bet adulterers preferred not to be stoned… Man dies when he doesn't want to.”

Right, but those are consequences for choices freely made, not an interference with the actual choice itself. Big difference. But you and I both see God’s will being accomplished with man’s full, unimpeded free will intact and operational (or so I understand you to be saying), so this is not a big surprise. So when you ask:

“Then why say ‘Suffice it to say that eternal life is contingent on whether or not my faith is made perfect by my works which I am under no compulsion to do’?”

I would say this: Without our works orienting us towards Christ, we are not moving towards a willingness which will be perfected. Would God take someone, kicking and screaming, into heaven completely contrarily to his express, consistent will as borne out by his own life? Rather, someone who has begun to live the gospel, however imperfectly, is on the path of theosis and, if he endures to the end “in peace and repentance,” as we pray to do in the liturgy, he’ll receive “a good defense before the fearful, dread judgment seat of Christ” (sthg else we pray for).

“God has a law. You've broken it, many times. So do you need forgiveness for that or don't you?”

Yes indeed, but what’s the nature of that law? What are its consequences, and how are they meted out? Strictly morally? Ontologically? The law is that that which sins, dissolves into the grave and towards ever-greater enmity with (and thus, torment from the face of) the One who is life itself. We begin the process of the reversal of that condemnation by being united to Him in a death like His (baptism, Rom 6.3) so that we might share in Christ’s resurrected life.

”I have to say I'm pretty confused at this point, as it seems your left hand is taking back what your right is giving [about whether or not the sovereignty of God matters].”

Sorry for being unclear. God’s sovereignty is an established dogma of (little and big “o”-orthodox) Christianity. So, of course, it matters that this be taught and believed by the faithful. What I’m wondering about here is whether or not the Reformed view of sovereignty means much without a way to objectively apply it to actual people who are now the elect, and actual people who are now damned. Otherwise--as far as we’re concerned, at least--such a teaching seems to be little more than a hypothetical system--a necessary one, I suppose--that establishes sthg w/out being able to live out the actual consequences in time and space.

“You want a nice little bow on everythg, maybe - where the backslidden is definitely out of the family, and where the Visible Church IS the Invisible Church.”

Actually, we believe that the Invisible Church is triumphant, in heaven, and the visible church is militant, on earth. We also believe that the chaff is very much with the wheat in the Church militant, so really not all who are in the Church militant are actually in the Church militant.

”This is not the first time I've been justified in accusing EOdox of humanistic reasoning.”

I’m sorry; I don’t follow.

”So you get to question God if you're part of the One True Church? Where's that in Sacred Apostolic Tradition?”

You misunderstand me. But first--this “One True Church” polemic is rather tired (I understand that you get it from zealous web apologists more often than you’d like, but we can leave it alone for our purposes, as such a label is horribly ill-defined and nuances would need to be unpacked were one to use the phrase)--suffice it to say that, regardless of ecclesial affiliation (or complete lack thereof), one of the things that folks most wish to know is why they’re suffering the way they’re suffering. What’s the point? If God’s really there, why does my mother suffer like this? Why is my life so hard and his isn’t, if God really loves us all the same? Why do I have to endure all this sorrow and others live a charmed life? And on and on. This has no answer, and man cannot really call God into account because of it. Man can only endure and trust in the One who, though He screamed the greatest “Why?!” of human history on behalf of all mankind, He still ended on the note of commending His spirit into the One who’d abandoned Him.

“If it's any consolation, the spiritually dead are just that - dead. They don't really stop to ask themselves that question.”

That is one phrase used, yes, in Ephesians 2 and Colossians. Romans 5.6 calls them “weak,” though, so the picture is more nuanced than you make it, I would say.


Rhology said...


My reply.

(As always, please know that I hold you under no time obligations. Nor should anyone else, considering your many more-important obligations.)

Anonymous said...

"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should become reprobate."