Sunday, December 06, 2009

1st Clement on sola fide

Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognise the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (source, emphasis mine)
To be read in conjunction with this post of mine. DavidW and other EOdox (not to mention RCC) would have us believe that their position represents "that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all", quoting Vincent de Lérins (a Western Christian, interestingly enough). So... what's the answer here?

Was Clement wrong and just speaking as a private individual? Is it intellectually honest just to scrub this testimony out of your annals of Sacred Tradition? If it's OK to ignore any writing you want to, why can't I do that too and only cite as For Real Sacred Tradition anyone I want and claim that the Reformed faith is "that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all"?

Am I mischaracterising him? I only quoted him, you know.
Some other option?

(See here a lame attempt by a Romanist to explain this away that I encountered.)

70 comments:

John said...

Firstly, I highly doubt you comprehend the nuances of Orthodox belief about faith and works. You certainly show no evidence of it.

Secondly, if you would cast your eyes a few paragraphs earlier..

"Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words."

Rhology said...

The RC post to which I linked quoted that. That quote is easily taken in the James 2 sense - justification before men, evidencing our faith.

Of course, I don't expect you who can't stomach that interp of James 2 to accept that, but that's hardly my problem.

And the other problem with this whole "oh yeah? Counter citation!" modus operandi is that you still have to deal with the first quote. It's like countering Eph 2:8-10 with (your incorrect interp of) James 2. What is the correct interp of the psg I cited in the post, then? Since I don't know the EO doctrine of faith and works according to you, enlighten me.

David said...

Rho:

You keep confusing us with Roman Catholics.

Here's an Orthodox understanding of faith and works:

"Wishing to show that to fulfill every commandment is a duty, whereas sonship is a gift given to men through His own Blood, the Lord said, 'When you have done all that is commanded you, say: "We are useless servants: we have only done what was our duty"' (Luke 17:10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for his faithful servants. A slave does not demand his freedom as a reward: but he gives thanks as one who is in debt, and he receives freedom as a gift. 'Christ died on account of our sins in accordance with the Scriptures' (1 Corinthians 15:3); and to those who serve Him well He gives freedom. 'Well done, good and faithful servant,' He says, 'you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your Lord' (Matthew 25:21). He who relies on theoretical knowledge alone is not yet a faithful servant: a faithful servant is one who expresses His faith in Christ through obedience to his commandments. He who honors the Lord does what the Lord bids." - St. Hesychios the Priest, On Watchfulness and Holiness, 79-81

Real faith is expressed through obedience, our works. Real faith is inseparable from works. Works don't earn us salvation, though -- that's impossible.

Rhology said...

I might be, but I don't think so. Not here.

Here's an easy question that should clear it up just fine:
Is the guilty sinner justified before the holy God on the basis of (true) (I can't believe I have to add "(true)", but this sort of question often makes EOdox become quite dense) faith alone?

David said...

Rho:

The point is that real faith is never "alone." Otherwise, it is the mere "theoretical knowledge" that St. Hesychios talks about. Real faith expresses itself through works.

Let me put it this way: if your spouse merely claims she loves you, but never spends time with you, or gives you gifts, or even kisses you -- is it real love? No, obviously it's not. Real human beliefs and emotions that are not mere "theoretical knowledge" express themselves in concrete ways -- or else they're not real.

It has nothing to do with "justifying" yourselves before God -- it has to do with the natural ways human beings live; and that way is not with a disconnect between our lives and our opinions.

Rhology said...

I don't want to be accused of misunderstanding the EO position, and I knew that already.

Could you please just answer the question?

David said...

The question doesn't fit in the context of Orthodoxy -- I can't answer it. You're question presupposes a Western Christian understanding of the terminology.

Insofar as "faith" is understood in the Western way -- as mere "theoretical knowledge" -- no, man is not justified by this, alone or otherwise.

Insofar as "faith" is understood in the Orthodox (and Scriptural) sense of being a dynamic thing -- a lived reality, yes, man is justified/saved by "faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6).

Rhology said...

You think faith in the "Western" sense is "theoretical knowledge"? Really?


And given the way you've "answered" the question, I don't see how I've misunderstood EOC at all. I didn't really make a statement on EO soteriology in this post anyway. What you've said doesn't fit with Clement's statement here anyway. "Everywhere, by all, at all times"... well, not quite.

David said...

You think faith in the "Western" sense is "theoretical knowledge"? Really?

Yes. Is it a dynamic, lived reality? Or just an opinion you hold? If I have it wrong, rather than mock, it seems the appropriate thing to do is explain.

And given the way you've "answered" the question, I don't see how I've misunderstood EOC at all.

If you think St. Clement's words contradict the Orthodox stance, you misunderstand either one or both.

I didn't really make a statement on EO soteriology in this post anyway.

Justification and salvation are the same thing.

What you've said doesn't fit with Clement's statement here anyway.

It absolutely 100% does.

"Everywhere, by all, at all times"... well, not quite.

Please read St. Vincent for yourself so you quite quoting it so acontextually.

Rhology said...

Biblically, faith is a gift of God, initiated by God in the heart of the person. He receives the gift b/c he is regenerated. God saves him, from start to finish. It's by faith b/c biblically speaking it's by grace, not by works. If it were by works, it would not be on the basis of grace, otherwise grace is no longer grace. See Romans 11:6.
Faith therefore is believing God, not only theoretically but really. It's an attitude of the heart, in fact it's tied directly to the regenerated, living heart of the believer, as opposed to the dead heart of stone of the unrepentant unblvr.

Sorry, your naked assertion that Clement's words here fit into the EO scheme are hollow. Let the reader judge.
BTW, how come we have to ask these questions ourselves? Why can't the infallible interper,the EOC, step in and make known how these fit in? Surely I'm not the first to ask this question!
If you provide an answer from "the EOC", please make sure to tell us all how you know it's "The EOC" speaking, and not just an individual, since you like to use the "he's just speaking as an individual" escape route whenever convenient.

Finally, are you telling me that "everywhere" means "not everywhere", "by all" means "not by all" and "at all times" means "sometimes"?

Seth said...

An example, if I understand correctly.

EOC: Abraham had (theoretical or western) faith, prior to his circumcision. He "truly" believed God. However, it wasn't until he manifested this faith outwardly, by actually doing the circumcision, that he was credited with righteousness (justified).

Moses and Paul: No, that's incorrect.

Rhology said...

Seth,

What is Moses and Paul: No, that's incorrect.
responding to?

Seth said...

Alan,

The stated EOC interpretation.

Rhology said...

Oh, as in
"Moses and Paul say, 'That's incorrect.'"

Gotcha.

CathApol said...

Alan,
John has not context jumped to answer your (false) interpretation of 1st Clement here. You also falsely interpret Eph. 2:8-10 - for there, as in virtually all examples of St. Paul speaking against works, he is speaking against works of the Law of the Old Covenant. The particular "work of the Law" in that particular context is that of circumcision. Continue reading in Ephesians 2 and you'll see what I mean. Thus, your comparison to those who allegedly "misinterp" James 2 as an answer to Ephesians 2 is actually based in your misunderstanding of both.

Note these references from the same context (again, not context jumping - these are all within that same section of the same work:

Not wholly related to this particular discussion, but worthy of note that St. Clement mentions the continuing of "priests" who (present tense) "minister at the altar of God:"
Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognise the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from Him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.xxxii.html

We see, then, how all righteous men have been adorned with good works, and how the Lord Himself, adorning Himself with His works, rejoiced. Having therefore such an example, let us without delay accede to His will, and let us work the work of righteousness with our whole strength. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.xxxiii.html

The good servant (or “labourer”) receives the bread of his labour with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look his employer in the face. It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of well-doing; for of Him are all things. And thus He forewarns us: “Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His face, to render to every man according to his work.” http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.xxxiv.html

Asking how we might obtain the reward:
"The sacrifice of praise will glorify Me, and a way is there by which I will show him the salvation of God.” http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.xxxv.html

In the end, it a "work" - in the "sacrifice of praise" which enables one to receive the reward.

Ah yes Alan, it appears that context has betrayed your false religion again.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<
CathApol Blog

Seth said...

CathApol,

No one is arguing against good works or that they ought not "adorn" the life of the believer.

Rhology said...

Seth,

CathApol and I have had a long and recent interaction on the topic of Eph 2, so anyone can read that to see who grounded their claims better.

Interesting that he calls my religion "false religion", given that the Catechism refers to me as a separated brother. It's gotta be tough to be a Romanist.

Seth said...

Sure, also read: Seth's "false religion".

CathApol said...

CathApol and I have had a long and recent interaction on the topic of Eph 2, so anyone can read that to see who grounded their claims better.

http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2009/11/works-and-grace.html

http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2009/11/works-and-grace-ii.html

http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2009/11/works-and-grace-iii.html

http://cathapol.blogspot.com/2009/11/works-and-grace-iv.html

Alan says:
Interesting that he calls my religion "false religion", given that the Catechism refers to me as a separated brother. It's gotta be tough to be a Romanist.

Given that I do not disagree with the Catechism on this accord, what's your point? You are separated brethren following a false religion invented by men in the 16th century (and/or later). You adhere to SOME concepts of orthodox Christianity, but have adopted some novel concepts unheard of until Luther, Calvin, et al, came upon the scene.

I would still call you a "Christian" - which I'm not sure you would readily call me - and it's no secret that you believe Catholicism is a "false religion." You appear to be making much ado about a fact which is a given between us - we both consider each others religion to be false.

The short and the long of it, you ARE indeed "separated brethren" for you do, I believe, sincerely try to follow Jesus Christ, as do I. Now, if you would let go of the presuppositions, you would see that St. Clement was a Catholic, and not much like anything you would claim. In the very piece you cited he refers to the ongoing sacrificial nature of the priesthood.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Rhology said...

Thanks for the links! More here.

No, I wasn't complaining about your considering me an adherent of a false religion, for I certainly consider that of you. And you are correct, you are no Christian. You are a papist Romanist.

Rather, I simply find it amusing that you are obligated to hold that I am a separated brother and yet couldn't resist saying I hold to a false religion. Apparently we define "brother" and "religion" a tad differently, for those terms don't go together. Sadly, that's one of the smaller of the cognitive dissonances to which your church binds your conscience.

Rhology said...

This was well-timed.

CathApol said...

I don't know that we define the terms "brother" and "religion" differently - but we certainly seem to apply them differently to each other. Whereas I appreciate your zeal for the Lord, misguided as it may be - you appear to have nothing but contempt for my zeal and/or willingness to serve the Lord, God Almighty who sent His only begotten Son to die for us, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

As for "brother" - you separated from us, the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, at some point within the last 500 years. No, not necessarily you personally, but somewhere in your ancestry there are Latin Rite Catholics. That is just a matter of fact for ALL Protestant cults... at some point in history they broke away from the Catholic Church. Still, there is a measure of truth in what you believe and profess. What you lack is the fullness of the faith.

As for "religion," that can be defined in a few different ways. It can be the overall label of "Christian," which I do not hesitate to call you (though at times you certainly don't ACT like one - especially with your continued use as a slur of "Romanist"). I have no doubt that it is your desire to serve the Lord - you've simply been caught up in a deception.

"Religion" can also be defined as "Catholic" or "Baptist" or "Lutheran," etc. In which case we most definitely are not part of the same religion nor in that sense "brothers." I submit that what you're referring to from the Catechism is the broader application (as previously stated) by which we can call you "separated brethren." It is in that sense that we pray you will return to the Father's Home like the Prodigal Son did.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

CathApol said...

It is also noted how you passed over the Catholicity of St. Clement and attempt to focus solely on an out-of-context statement from him.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Rhology said...

How is it out of context?

David said...

Seth:

I think you're intentionally misunderstanding what I said -- I was clear enough. I wasn't talking about "works of the law" or any of that. I'll say it again: Real Faith is inseparable from following the commandments of God -- if you love God, you obey him. It's as simple as that.

Rho:

It's an attitude of the heart, in fact it's tied directly to the regenerated, living heart of the believer,

I agree. Now a question: can one have real faith and not follow the commandments of God -- more than that, can one have real faith and actively disobey the commandments of God?

David said...

I should add that I don't think anything could possibly be clearer on the subject than Matthew 25's parable of the goats and the sheep. Notice the "faith working through love" of the sheep -- and the apparent "faith alone" of the goats. Christ said it -- case closed, for us Christians at least.

Rhology said...

can one have real faith and not follow the commandments of God

Sure. Thief on the cross.


can one have real faith and actively disobey the commandments of God?

Yes. Romans 7.
Shades of "not taking sin seriously" are becoming distressingly more substantial, David. I'd recommend you be careful here.

Seth said...

David,

I'll say it again: Real Faith is inseparable from following the commandments of God -- if you love God, you obey him.

I agree, but that's not the question. We're talking here about the mechanics of Justification. The implication being: what atones for sin?

sheep vs. goats
Good works emphasis noted, but this passage isn't primarily dealing with who or who isn't atoned for, but what are the rewards/punishments for deeds done on earth. Specifically for the treatment of Israel (see Joel 3:2), for whom Christ is chief representative.

There is no debate that the "saved" are expected to do good works (bear good fruit).

Lucian said...

Neither James, nor Clement, teach justification before men (otherwise the words of Christ would be of no effect: Matthew 6:1-6).

CathApol said...

Alan said:
> How is it out of context?

sw: You apparently weren't paying attention to the context I provided from the same reference/citation you provided! Scroll up Alan, St. Clement, a Catholic Saint, is not referring to sola fide in the "Reformed" sense. You, as well as Turetinfan, have taken the words of one of "our own" and made a little out-of-context soundbyte sound like he's talking like Martin Luther - and he simply was not, and the context bears out what I am saying. Again, scroll up, I don't need to requote him it's all there already for the objective reader to discern - with actual links to the primary source material.

I thank you for the opportunity to share God's Truth with you and your readers.

Alan also said:
>> David said: can one have real
>> faith and not follow the
>> commandments of God?

>
> AR: Sure. Thief on the cross.

sw: But the "Good Thief," did show himself through acting upon his faith when he rebuked the "Bad Thief" for his apparent lack of faith, even there dying upon his own cross next to his Savior.

sw: Can I hear an "AMEN?!"

In JMJ,
Scott<<<
CathApol Blog

CathApol said...

Seth writes:
> I agree, but that's not the
> question. We're talking here about
> the mechanics of Justification.
> The implication being: what atones
> for sin?


sw: No Seth, atonement for sin and justification are two completely different theological concepts. The atonement is that work which was done by Jesus Christ on the Cross and more importantly what He did AFTER the Cross - namely, descending into Hell and defeating death and Satan and rising again on the third day. THAT was the atonement - THE Sacrifice for our sins. Justification, on the other hand is the PROCESS of making one holy and pure before God. A working/living faith does that, whereas a dead faith availeth nothing. Both the living and dead faith are in the same thing - that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again for our atonement (the "faith" is faith IN the atonement, so there IS a relationship here, but they cannot be equivocated). The "devils" (per James 2) have that "dead faith" - they too not only believe in what Jesus did, they KNOW what He did - and HATE Him for it, for they were not atoned for - they have already been judged - the "process" cannot continue with them for they already had their chance and chose the "wrong side." For us, a different creation, our judgment will come at the end of time when we stand before His Judgment Seat. There it will be rendered unto (us) according to our works. The wheat will be separated from the chaff, the sheep from the goats.

May the Lord richly bless you and lead you to all truth.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<
CathApol Blog

Seth said...

CathApol,

Your snide corrections reveal a general lack of understanding. Back to school: see Psalm 65:3. Atone root word = KPR. Go.

CathApol said...

Seth,
My corrections were not "snide," they were accurate to the context of faith with works justifying and the arguments/discussion around the subject of sola fide. Abraham was justified by works, Rahab was justified by works - this is not the same thing as the Atonement of Christ or the broader use of "Justification" wherein we are declared justified due to the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

I apologize if my wording has caused you to mix these theological concepts - they cannot be equivocated.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Seth said...

CathApol,

My corrections...were accurate to the context of faith with works justifying and the arguments/discussion around the subject of sola fide.

If I thought Roman doctrine was in any way "accurate" I'd be on your side, not mine.

Abraham was justified by works, Rahab was justified by works - this is not the same thing as the Atonement of Christ or the broader use of "Justification" wherein we are declared justified due to the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

Ughh. This is trite. Let's talk big J or call it quits.

I apologize if my wording has caused you to mix these theological concepts - they cannot be equivocated.

Then how about back to defining "atonement" via the hebr. root KPR? Or something other than a (dare I say unjustified?) regurgitation of said disputed Catholic doctrine.

David said...

Sure. Thief on the cross.

He cooperated ("co-energized" is the term Scripture uses) with the grace of God in as much as he could -- including rebuking the other thief and proclaiming his new-found Faith.

Yes. Romans 7.
Shades of "not taking sin seriously" are becoming distressingly more substantial, David. I'd recommend you be careful here.


Sounds to me like you're the one not taking sin seriously. Let me get this straight: so I can cheat on my wife, never share a dime with the poor, drink myself stupid, eat to my heart's content, and even murder that neighbor that plays his stupid music at top volume all day and night -- and, as long as I have faith -- I'm still saved? Tell me if I'm getting this right.

John said...

"That quote is easily taken in the James 2 sense"

And when you hear someone Orthodox say something about works that you find distasteful, how do you know they didn't mean it "in the James 2 sense" ?????

David said...

I agree, but that's not the question. We're talking here about the mechanics of Justification. The implication being: what atones for sin?

You're confusing the Atonement with justification.

Good works emphasis noted, but this passage isn't primarily dealing with who or who isn't atoned for, but what are the rewards/punishments for deeds done on earth.

"Deeds" = "works"

So you admit that we will be punished and/or rewarded for our works at the judgment?

As I said before, it seems to me this parable is a direct denial by Christ of "faith alone." All of the people present are calling him "Lord" -- but some did as he commanded; others didn't.

In fact, all of Matthew 25 seems to be an argument against "faith alone." Check out the Parable of the talents as well -- "Well done! good and faithful servant; you have been faithful with few things, I will now put you in charge of many things"

Specifically for the treatment of Israel (see Joel 3:2), for whom Christ is chief representative.

Okay... well, I think it's context is pretty clear on its own. Christ is telling us how he'll judge us at the end.

There is no debate that the "saved" are expected to do good works (bear good fruit).

And can they still be saved if they don't? More, can they still be saved if they actively do evil but truly believe?

David said...

Lucian's right on the money, by the way, on the "justification before men" line -- that's absurd, honestly, not only in the context of Christian belief, but even in the context of 1 Clement and James 2. "The demons believe as well -- and shudder" -- pretty clear. "If a man claims to have faith and has not works, can such faith save him?" -- pretty clear. Or are we "saved" before men as well? Nonsensical eisegesis.

Seth said...

David,

You're confusing the Atonement with Justification.

No, I'm disagreeing with RC and EO doctrine on both.

So you admit that we will be punished and/or rewarded for our works at the judgment?

Why is this a controversy? And yes, deeds = works.

Christ is telling us how he'll judge us at the end.

Yes... He says as much. Again, no one is arguing against eternal reward/punishment.

And can they still be saved if they don't? More, can they still be saved if they actively do evil but truly believe?

Prooftext needed? 1 John 1v6: "If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth."

My commentary: A desire to actively continue(indefinitely) in sin is incompatible to having been regenerated. Even if that person "confessess", their actions prove them a liar. What's the controversy?

David said...

Why is this a controversy?

How about "yes" or "no"? Will we be judged for our deeds?

Yes... He says as much. Again, no one is arguing against eternal reward/punishment.

Right, and this is meted out on the basis of......... what?

My commentary: A desire to actively continue(indefinitely) in sin is incompatible to having been regenerated. Even if that person "confessess", their actions prove them a liar. What's the controversy?

So, then, good works (that is, works in accordance with the commandments of Christ) are an inseparable aspect of true Faith, correct?

Seth said...

How about "yes" or "no"? Will we be judged for our deeds?

Emphatic YES.

Right, and this [reward/punishment] is meted out on the basis of......... what?

...works? Final answer. Works. Or deeds. Torah -> mitzvot.

So, then, good works (that is, works in accordance with the commandments of Christ) are an inseparable aspect of true Faith, correct?

Emphatic YES. If by aspect you mean manifestation. I like the phrasing obedience (doing works) is the appropriate response to having been justified

David said...

Seth,

Well, I don't think we disagree, then. Wow... I don't know what to say now. Cool...

Seth said...

David,

You said it clearly above:

"Real faith is expressed through obedience, our works. Real faith is inseparable from works. Works don't earn us salvation, though -- that's impossible."

So... cool!

CathApol said...

>> sw: My corrections...were accurate
>> to the context of faith with works
>> justifying and the arguments/discussion
>> around the subject of sola fide.

>
> seth: If I thought Roman doctrine was
> in any way "accurate" I'd be on your
> side, not mine.


sw: I'm not talking Catholic doctrine, I am talking about the context of Scripture with regard to the subject James 2 and sola fide wherein we see that Abraham and Rahab are both given as examples of being justified by works.

>> sw: Abraham was justified by works,
>> Rahab was justified by works - this
>> is not the same thing as the Atonement
>> of Christ or the broader use of
>> "Justification" wherein we are declared
>> justified due to the finished work of
>> Christ on the Cross.

>
> Seth: Ughh. This is trite. Let's talk
> big J or call it quits.


sw: "Big J" is not the subject of James 2.

I accept your concession.

>> sw: I apologize if my wording has
>> caused you to mix these theological
>> concepts - they cannot be equivocated.

>
> Seth: Then how about back to defining
> "atonement" via the hebr. root KPR? Or
> something other than a (dare I say
> unjustified?) regurgitation of said
> disputed Catholic doctrine.


H3722
kâphar
kaw-far'
A primitive root; to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel: - appease, make (an) atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, to pitch, purge (away), put off, (make) reconcile (-liation).

sw: Well, there's no "justification" there from works as in the context of James 2; that is about the Atonement or "Justification" with the "big J." Since you've quit that discussion, I have not much more to add for you. You wish to change the topic, I'm not going down that rabbit hole.

sw: FWIW, I am in agreement with your comments/agreement with David. Works without faith don't earn us salvation anymore than faith without works can. Neither one is alone - or sola.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Seth said...

CathApol,

Abraham and Rahab are both given as examples of being justified by works.

Re: sola fide, James 2 is necessarily circular. They were justified by their action, which they carried out by faith (Heb. 11), but where'd they get the faith to act in the first place? Rahab apparently wasn't in the business of doing good works. What (or Who) motivated her to drop what she was doing *ahem* and perform a "justifying work"? That's why I've clarifed "mechanics of justification".

sw: Well, there's no "justification" there from works as in the context of James 2; that is about the Atonement or "Justification" with the "big J."

See above.

sw: FWIW, I am in agreement with your comments/agreement with David. Works without faith don't earn us salvation anymore than faith without works can. Neither one is alone - or sola.

That's not what was said and agreed on. Read the quote.

Rhology said...

how do you know they didn't mean it "in the James 2 sense" ?????

Um, I ask them and they tell me.



And no one here has been charging RCs or EOx with the view "works alone justify". No strawmen please.

Jnorm888 said...

Rhology,


I think you need to read Norman Shepard.






ICXC NIKA

Rhology said...

David,

Let me get this straight: so I can cheat on my wife, never share a dime with the poor, drink myself stupid, eat to my heart's content, and even murder that neighbor that plays his stupid music at top volume all day and night -- and, as long as I have faith -- I'm still saved?

Yes, IF you have faith. The point of the biblical teaching, esp. that of James and 1 John, is that one's faith is seen as true by one's actions, and such actions reveal an unregenerate character. But ultimately, we don't know whom God has saved for sure; only He knows. Some live their whole life in a holy manner AND have true faith. Some imitate the holy manner in some, or even many, ways, and DO NOT have true faith - Matt 7:21-23. Some pass thru times in their lives in which they disobey God badly, but are indeed God's elect and have true faith, like King David, the Apostle Peter, Gideon, Samson.

Of course, such a lifestyle SHOULD also cause the man to doubt his own salvation. But it's not like a man can have infallible knowledge of his own salvation either.

When I said you're not taking sin seriously, I was trying to help you see that you're making it about works! You say on the one hand that works ARE faith, like "baptism is faith" and other such nonsense, and then turn back around and act all shocked when I tell you that God saves sinners. Your view makes those men I named not saved. It's biblically backwards, but humanly forwards. You need a biblical perspective, that's the problem, and your position is not alone among the smorgasbord of man-centered religion out there. Yours just sounds more Christian.


on the "justification before men" line -- that's absurd, honestly, not only in the context of Christian belief, but even in the context of 1 Clement and James 2. "

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree then, at least until you can present some exegetical reason why.
See, my view accts for James 2, with the interp you call absurd, AND accts for Eph 2:8-10. Your view accts for James 2, with an interp I'd call shaky, but is quite absurd when it comes to Eph 2. I'm after the view that accts for BOTH, and mine does and yours doesn't. Not b/c I'm awesome and you're lame, but b/c God's truth is clear enough and He has mercifully changed my heart as I pray He'll change yours.

Rhology said...

JNorm,

You can ask Seth about him, actually.

Also, I'd suggest listening to John Robbins eviscerate his theology. It's not any good, but thanks.

David said...

Yes, IF you have faith.

As you've said to me previously -- that's a damnable heresy. Utterly unscriptural -- anti-Scriptural even.

When I said you're not taking sin seriously, I was trying to help you see that you're making it about works!

Do you understand what I mean by works? Works includes everything you do -- feeding the hungry, praying, housing the homeless, reading Scripture, raising your children in a godly way, getting up in the morning. All of these are "works." We fall short often -- that's exactly what sin is and why we're so in need of a savior: we're all sinners. But to say that these things aren't necessary is absurd. Any "opinion" you hold but don't act on theoretical -- and completely useless.

at least until you can present some exegetical reason why.

Just read the chapter -- "even the demons believe, and tremble"? "if a man says he has faith but has not works, can such faith save him?" You just directly contradicted Scripture with your words above. So much for "scripture alone."

I'm after the view that accts for BOTH, and mine does and yours doesn't.

Really? Does your view account for Galatians 5:6 and Matthew 25 as well? And, by the way, "twisting and interpreting away" is not the same as "accounting for."

but b/c God's truth is clear enough

It sure is -- and yet there are so many who would rather close their eyes, plug their ears, and hope it all goes away. Truth is truth, even when it's uncomfortable or unexpected.

Rhology said...

You're probably confusing "so I can cheat on my wife..." with "so I can have zero works throughout my entire life".
Once you understand that, hopefully the problem will be cleared up.
I'm going to ask you again to look at the examples of the biblical men I mentioned.

And yes, my view accts for those, thanks for asking. How does yours acct for Eph 2:8-10? And for Clement's words here?

CathApol said...

>> sw: Abraham and Rahab are both
>> given as examples of being
>> justified by works.

>
> Seth: Re: sola fide, James 2 is
> necessarily circular. They were
> justified by their action, which
> they carried out by faith
> (Heb. 11), but where'd they get
> the faith to act in the first
> place? Rahab apparently wasn't
> in the business of doing good
> works. What (or Who) motivated
> her to drop what she was doing
> *ahem* and perform a "justifying
> work"? That's why I've clarifed
> "mechanics of justification".


sw: If you read any of the exchanges both Alan and I posted links to you would see that my position is that faith MUST come
first. Faith CAN be alone, but such a faith is not living/saving faith. THAT is where sola fide fails, for
"saving faith" is NEVER alone. If you're talking about faith which justifies it is NOT sola fide.

>> sw: Well, there's no
>> "justification" there from
>> works as in the context of
>> James 2; that is about the
>> Atonement or "Justification"
>> with the "big J."

>
> Seth: See above.

sw: I did. Again, the context of James 2 is NOT about the "big J" Justification, it is about justification through faith WITH
works - as opposed to sola fide.

>> sw: FWIW, I am in agreement
>> with your comments/agreement
>> with David. Works without faith
>> don't earn us salvation anymore
>> than faith without works can.
>> Neither one is alone - or
>> sola.

>
> Seth: That's not what was
> said and agreed on. Read the
> quote.


sw: I read the quote, and I agreed with what you both agreed upon - PLUS - I added clarification. You seem to be implying that you disagree with what I added. So,
answer these questions:

1) Do you agree that works without faith does not lead to salvation?

Now one where I believe we do fundamentally agree, but I don't think you can come out and say it:
2) Do you agree that faith without works does not justify (lead to salvation)?

sw: My answer to both questions is yes.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Lucian said...

Y'all,

the RHEAL problem with Protestantism does NOT lie in supposedly teaching its faithful that they can do bad things and still end up in heaven... the RHEAL problem consists in the fact that it doesn't tell the sinner how to become a saint [he knows he's NOT justified, because he STILL sins, but he doesn't know how to become TRULY justified either: he expects good works and a repentant saintly life-stile to follow *automatically* from/after repentance and asking Jesus into his heart, but this DOESN'T happen and he's left wondering, loosing hope, and ultimately loosing faith]

*That's* the RHEAL tragedy of Protestantism, if You ask me... other discussions are, in my opinion, useless.

John said...

"So you admit that we will be punished and/or rewarded for our works at the judgment?

Emphatic YES."

Now why on earth would God punish people for sin, and reward them for good works? Could it be because good works are δικαιοσύνη and sin is ἀδικία? So won't our works δικαιωθῆναι us?

"how do you know they didn't mean it "in the James 2 sense" ?????

Um, I ask them and they tell me."

Given the amount of confusion in these kinds of discussions I would hope for more documentation than that. Otherwise how do we know in context what you mean by the James 2 sense, what they mean by the James 2 sense, and that both sides are knowing what the other side means?

And if "they tell you", it doesn't give me much confidence you have found this from someone with much authority or credibility.

I'd also like to hear it explained why James 2 is emphatically "before men", when we have Seth here admitting we are judged by God on our works, when James 2:14 explicitely asks whether a faith without works can save. What you've presented to us is not what I normally hear from protestants. So I don't see how any discussion you might have had with Orthodox could be representative of normative differences in interpretation of James 2.

Rhology said...

Lucian,

You seem to completely misunderstand the relationship of one's action to one's justification in biblical thought. What about "by grace ALONE" don't you understand? Does "grace" equal "something I earn" to you?


Hi John,

We are judged by our works - see 1 Cor 3. Our works determine what reward in Heaven believers get. Our JUSTIFICATION is determined in no wise b/c of our works, though. Well, I take that back - our works absolutely preclude the possibility of justification. It's only the finished, perfect work of Christ that makes justification available and accomplished.


And if "they tell you", it doesn't give me much confidence you have found this from someone with much authority or credibility.


Every Orthodox Christian is a representative of the Orthodox Church and of Christ.
You don't have to believe me, that's fine. No one's forcing you to dialogue with me either.

Peace,
Rhology

Seth said...

CathApol,

1) Do you agree that works without faith does not lead to salvation?

Correct. See discussion of Romans 9:30-33.

2) Do you agree that faith without works does not justify (lead to salvation)?

Depends on how we use the terms.

(a) Justify. James 2:17 "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." A dead faith is evidence of no faith at all. Try: Works are the blips on a heart monitor, blips are a sign of life, but they are not the actual beating heart. And yet, no blips means no heartbeats. Confusing? Perhaps, but thus the context for James 2:24.


(b) Salvation. Heaven/Hell justification immediately (promise of salvation) upon belief. Justification via covering (atonement-kippur) of sin. Holy spirit as seal/deposit. Whole life spent in SANCTIFICATION. Reward/judgment applied for merits of works. For unsaved, degrees of punishment but always eternal separation (Hell).

(c) Note the Progression: why works? See 1 Peter 1:14-19. "Conduct yourselves..." Why? Because the "Father...judges...deeds (v17)." What motive? "Knowing that you WERE RANSOMED...with the precious blood of Christ (v.18-19)."

1cr 3:11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Cr 3:12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--
1Cr 3:13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
1Cr 3:14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
1Cr 3:15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.


Thanks for the extended discussion. Sorry, I'll have to skip out on follow up discussion for a while, as new babies are on the way!

John said...

"Our JUSTIFICATION is determined in no wise b/c of our works, though."

You think you've made an important distinction with ALL CAPS, but James says we are justified by works. You say that is before men.. let's say that it is, it still proves that the term JUSTIFIED is correctly applied to situations other than salvation.

Now you admit that "Our works determine what reward in Heaven believers get." How is that not a form of justification? Only by special pleading do you hope to say that is not a form of justification. If being judged by our works is not being righteous by our works, then words have no meaning, no?

As John says: "Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous".

"Every Orthodox Christian is a representative of the Orthodox Church and of Christ."

Yes, but some are better than others when it comes to eloquently and without ambiguity relating the issues.

David said...

Yes, but some are better than others when it comes to eloquently and without ambiguity relating the issues.

And you, John, are the master before whom I bow in humility. You're able to say with absolute clarity in a single sentence what I only half-explain in several paragraphs. Teach me your ways.

Rhology said...

How is that not a form of justification?

B/c it has nothing to do with justification - making one righteous before God.

And yeah, in terms of capacity for expression and explanation, I'm going with DavidW in this little intra-church squabble that reminds me alot (sans the threats and near-accomplishment of mutual excommunication) of the internecine spats within the EOC. Where's my popcorn?

Lucian said...

I understand what "by grace ALONE" means, Rho, I just don't see that expression in the Bible.

Grace means the power of God. Devoid of it we cannot do anything (John 15:5). Remember here the fruit-bearing power of the fig-tree which Christ cursed, or the finacial power of the three servants in the parable of the talants. God gives uf grace, but how, and how much, do we use it? That's the problem. And our use of it will land us either in heaven or in hell at the last judgment (Matthew's Gospel).

Rhology said...

Don't see grace alone in the Bible, eh? Eph 2:8-10, Romans 11:6, Romans 4:4-8, Romans 3:22-29.

Could go more, that's enough for now.

Lucian said...

Yes, I have a different understanding of Saint Paul's words then You have: we are redeemed by/through God's grace, which gives us the power to do truly good things (and not just that, but become truly good people, "becoming holy even as our Father Who is in heaven is holy", as Christ said).

Anyway, that's not the problem. The problem is neither that Protestants believe that we are saved when we're still sinning. The problem is that Protestants don't know how to be saved from sin. (They only acknowledge that they're not regenerate).

Rhology said...

This post is very relevant.

Rhology said...

The problem is that Protestants don't know how to be saved from sin.

You're absolutely right. Trusting in Jesus' grace and mercy, Him alone, doesn't save from sin. Wow, thanks, it's all clear now.

Lucian said...

The servants didn't just "believe" in the Master and in the talants He entrusted them with: they went and multiplied them (they made use of them).

Abraham didn't just "believe" that Sarah will bear a son: he went into her tent and "knew" her.

Faith, hope, trust, and belief in God are fundamentally important, because, without them, His power (grace) grows weak in our hearts due to doubt, and we lose our strength to "fight the good fight" and we then soon find ourselves `sinking in the waves of the sea', just like Peter... but faith has to work through love to redeem, because otherwise faith remains without works, and is dead, and doesn't have the power to save.

John said...

"B/c it has nothing to do with justification - making one righteous before God."

You're just playing word games. You admit it is before God. You admit that good behaviour is rewarded by God. But you won't label it righteousness. Just total stupidity and special pleading.

Rhology said...

It's the same distinction the NT makes. I've always known you regarded NT teaching as such, but it's a bit of a chore to get you to admit it.

John said...

OK, I'll bite. Which verse says that good behaviour can't be labeled righteousness.

Rhology said...

You need to clarify your question. Make sure to use biblical categories.

John said...

You made the claim you justify it. Why do I need to extract it from you like pulling a tooth?