Friday, April 23, 2010

More on Energetic Procession about icons and authority - 4

Continuing with Monk Patrick:

From the essay:
Also, the reason used to deny icons would also mean the denial of the Incarnation. How so? The iconoclasts assume that it is the nature that is portrayed in the icon and that the icon can only represent Christ if both His natures are somehow represented on the icon because he has two natures

Since I deny neither the Incarnation, nor the Hypostatic Union, nor the permissibility to make an image of Jesus in His Incarnation (whereas it IS impermissible to bow down to it and give it religious piety), hopefully you'll commendably break ranks with your other EO brethren and no longer use the idiotic claim that I somehow deny the Incarnation b/c I reject icons.  To do so would be the only honest thing to do, since the arguments I'm using are not cited at this point (or actually, anywhere) in the essay. 
Interestingly, that's exactly what Perry Robinson is doing when he asks whether Thomas' worship of Jesus was "passed on to the divine person".  One hopes (probably in vain) that you'll correct him on that. 

However, Christ and His icon receive the same veneration because they have the same hypostasis even though there is a difference in essence

Here the author jumps to this conclusion w/o the necessary adjoining argument.  Where's the argument that ANY image is due veneration?

This would support then the position of St Theodore that prototypes have an image and the necessity that that image is displayed.

Now you're getting into Platonic realms.  Let me also recommend an essay to you.

Thus, Christ is present in His icon not in essence but in His energies.

Asserted but not argued-for.

the main cause of Protestant iconoclasm may be explained with the association of revelation of the Word with Scripture and hence the impossibility of using images.

No, the main cause is b/c Scripture tells us not to use them in worshipful piety.  So we don't.  Simple as that. 

All in all, an essay that misses the point.  Thanks for the link though.

Attributing evidence to demons in not a sufficient reason, unless you can prove demonic activity on grounds other than the miracle does not support your choice of doctrine.

1) Please provide an argument why it is not sufficient reason.
2) Demonic activity is identified in the Scr in many ways, not least of which is provoking ppl to sinful and idolatrous activities in collusion with groups that deny the Gospel.  Um, yeah, that would be EOC.
3) Category error - you pejoratively describe as "your choice of doctrine" what Scripture actually teaches.  This shows no recognition of the fact the Scripture means things, since words mean things.  If I identify and submit to what Scr teaches, that's hardly "my choice".

I provided the evidence of miracles and you attributed them to demons

I was granting you the miraculous for the sake of argument and asking you to prove that they came from God, not from demons.  Your response so far is indignity, but that's not my problem. 

If you wish to attribute these fruits to demons fell free but Scripture says that a bad tree does not yield good fruit.

1) Good trees don't yield sinful activities such as worshiping pictures of dead ppl.
2) Good trees don't yield sinful activities such as ascribing to a false Gospel.
3) You've not yet made the connection you need to make between the fact of "the icon is weeping myrrh" to the prescriptive command, "You must bow down and worship it".  Get on it.

Exodus 20:4. The text does not say you can make images but not bow down nor worship them. You are inconsistent.

So what's your argument against that very condemnation?  I have some, but I'd like to know yours.  Unless it's "I don't care about the 2nd cmdmt", which wouldn't surprise me.
You said a little lower:  "Making images is not a moral issue and is not forbidden in itself because God commanded them to be created of cherubim."
Correct, I agree, thank you.  Done and done. 
Now, you need to move from "God commanded cherubim be made" to "God thinks it's OK to bow down to and worship pictures of dead people".  Get on it.

How do you mean that no-one had dealt about that with you?

I said it b/c no one has.  You keep dividing up the elements that I've numerous times identified as occurring ALL TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME in EO dead-people worship.  Don't divide it all up if you think your case is so strong.

Audible or inaudible prayer is irrelevant

Sorry, it's not irrelevant.  You don't talk to other ppl INaudibly.  You talk to dead people INaudibly.  Thus you show that you recognise the diff between the living and the dead, even though you won't admit it now when it's convenient to obfuscate for the sake of the debate. 

The fact that God calls them living means that they can communicate and not only among themselves but with us also.

Please provide the backing exegesis of the relevant Scr psgs to substantiate this.

Read Volume 14 of the Second Series of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series.

Why would I do that?  What specifically is it answering?

The scenario that you raised about Moses is irrelevant because it is before Christ's incarnation because this changes how the law works.

You who've shown no familiarity with the Epistle to the Hebrews are hardly in a position to tell me that "this changes how the law works". 
Exegesis, please.  Show me where the NT says it's in fact OK to worship pictures of dead people.

You keep saying that we give latreia and doulea to icons because that is what you think these words mean.

I provided plenty of exegesis here.  Anyone can see what I meant. 

The Holy Scriptures are a set canon of Apostolic writings which were accepted as genuine. As such it is a closed canon.

Bishop Kallistos Ware disagrees.  I'm going with him rather than some anonymous blog commenter.
Further, I didn't see anywhere in your comment a specific and infallible canon of Sacred Apostolic Tradition.  You claimed it exists; I'd really like to see it.  Thanks!

This does not mean that other writers are not equally inspired even if we do not include their writings in the Scriptures

If other writings are equally inspired, how is that a closed canon? What is the meaning of "canon" at all if other writings are just as breathed out by God?

Do you submit to all things in the NT Scriptures both personally and corporately in your parish? Please list a few.

List a few what?  I don't understand the question.

Why do you care about obeying the OT in any case? Are you under the law?

If you had any understanding of the NT presentation of one's relationship to the OT Law, you'd know that "under the law" means "under the curse of the law", ie, I am not under the curse of the law b/c I am forgiven in Christ, not by works, not by personal doing good and obeying the Law.  The law condemns me (Gal 3) but Christ forgives sinners. 
The OT moral law is still in effect.  Did you read my post on that?  Sounds like you didn't.  Read it.

Are you not saved by faith alone?

Are you so foolish as not to understand that being justified is not the only goal of the human? 

Do we not believe in Jesus?

You believe in a false Jesus, One Who communicated a flawed revelation, spoke where He in fact did not speak (ie, in "inspired" patristic writings), and Whose work on the Cross requires man's cooperation to become sufficient to save, etc. 

Do we not confess Him as Lord?

"Depart from Me; for I never knew you."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Similarities between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Emergent Church - 2

Continuing from last time, my priest friend has responded.

Thanks for writing with your thoughts!
Your comment surprised me, because as an Orthodox Christian, along with almost every other Orthodox Christian I know, I find the EC phenomenon to be disturbing. It has always struck me as the dying gasp of Modern Evangelicalism "Lite", the last attempt to "make Church relevant." But you can't water it down anymore and still have it be Christian...Joel Olsteen has already left Jesus behind, IMO.
"For one thing, EC (ie, Emergent Church) as opposed to EOC) patterns itself after more mystical theologians, with prayers such as hesychastic prayers, centering oneself, controlling one's breathing, seeking the contemplative part of worship, etc. Use of icons, incense, candles."
I must admit, I have never seen anything liturgical in an EC situation. Are we talking about the same thing? All of the ECs here have signs that say things like "Redefining Church" and "Church without walls" and have names like "Living Water Church" etc. I agree they use centering prayer, but Orthodox don't "do" centering prayer. Centering prayer is heretical. Hesychasm with its breathing techniques are a) restricted to a very small minority of monks who are under the direction of a spiritual father b) do not involve any mental imagery whatsoever (which defines centering prayer), c) is Christ-centered, not man-centered, the idea being to keep your mind and your heart united, on the name of Jesus, instead of letting your mind wander about thinking about material things. So any similarity to me would be superficial in this regard.
"EC puts a strong emphasis on community and the voices of the community, which is very similar to the way EOC recognises post facto out of all little-t tradition the big-S Sacred big-A Apostolic big-T Tradition that it acknowledges as authoritative and normative for the church."
We do in fact put an emphasis on the people of God, but our emphasis is always on the people of God protecting the eternal truths, not redefining them for cultural relevancy. You may disagree that that is what we are doing, but our aim is not to take small t traditions and expand them everywhere as big T tradition (Traditionalist Orthodox don't even believe that is a real dichotomy anyway, but that is another discussion), but to preserve Tradition and only define it as a reaction to an error. The EC phenomenon seems to relish in "recontextualizing" the "message" as often as possible.
"Following that, EC has a strong errantist streak wherein the Bible is not held to be without error. It ends up being subservient to traditions from within the church (or "the community" as ECs like to say). Same as in EOC, and quite different from evangelicals or Reformed."
Well, I agree that the Bible contains errors of fact, but that that was intended by God on purpose in some cases or was the result of the Jews misunderstanding what God was talking about in the OT. The Bible is subservient to the Word of God (the Logos), as is the Tradition of the Church. EC still maintains it is sola scriptura, and rejects the "traditions of men" which while you would say the same thing, they often take that as grounds to strip out things that you and I would agree upon, i.e. Theology 101. So EC seems to be a reductionist sect, whereas Orthodox seem to be a maximalist trend. You guys seem to be a "let's keep it within a certain boundary" (i.e. what is written down in the Bible or can be implied from the Bible) kind of group. I suppose you could argue we are two extremes of the same presupposition (i.e. against sola sciptura either de facto or de jure) but I could argue that you and they are both reductionists, but only differing on how far to take the program.
"In many EC congregations/communities, the Eucharist is a big central deal. (I actually wish that my own SBC church would make the Eucharist a bigger more central deal and am about to teach to that effect in my Sunday School class; I've asked the elders to do so but not really seen much change.) In EOC, of course, the Eucharist is also fairly central to worship."
Well if they are into that, they are on the right track. I hope you will succeed in your intentions as well.
"There's a strong streak of political liberalism and Social Gospel-type orientation toward action in both EC and EOC."
I haven't noticed any more liberalism than in many of the Baptist Churches down here in NC. I think there are social gospel streaks all over the place here. I don't care about politics much myself, but I consider myself a reactionary. So the modern Republican party is too liberal for me. Only a few modernists (such as the people I studied with at SVS) could I ever see as true social gospel types. Even the most liberal of them see it in terms of being stewards of God's creation, though, not in creating some kind of utopia on earth. I don't know any Orthodox person who does not beleive that Christ will return on Judgment Day and transform everything into some New Heaven and New Earth, utterly destroying this fallen creation. Maybe because you see us as semi-Pelagian or even Pelagian, this is where your perception comes from though? Because we don't beleive that man has lost the image of God (only the likeness?)
"Similarly, since EC is basically (theological) liberalism 2.0, 'salvation' is not viewed as getting right with a God Whose Law has been gravely transgressed and trampled on by sinful men, but rather it's growing this world towards a fair and just society in which God is honored thru everyone living out the love of Jesus in everything all the time. This is far more similar to theosis than to a Reformed/evangelical understanding of justification+transformation/regeneration -> sanctification -> glorification."
But I don't agree that that is what theosis I can't say it's similiar :)
"Hope that helps!"
It does! I am wondering how much of this is due to not agreeing on some common assumptions...but now I sound like an ecumenist!
What is ironic is that I was just writing an essay against my local EC when I saw your post!! I will let you see it when I am done.
In Christ,

Well, I certainly find EC disturbing too! :-) And I agree with your estimation of its origin; in addition, some/many of them seem to be refugees from the seeker-sensitive megachurch model. That said, they've taken on themselves quite a few EO-esque or RC-esque or Eastern-esque practices, so the resemblances are probably mostly due to their aping of what's out there in other religious movements. But the resemblances remain.

You said:
--I have never seen anything liturgical in an EC situation

I have.

--monks with spiritual father

Well, ECers aren't very hierarchical, but you see, say, Rob Bell in Michigan doing this kind of stuff all the time, and he's a rockstar, so that's kinda like a spiritual father. Not exactly, sure, but it's close in practice.

-- do not involve any mental imagery whatsoever (which defines centering prayer)

That might be fair enough. I don't know how much the EC-ers involve mental imagery, tbh. But EC-ers like to accuse the Reformed of being "Platonic" all the time, too - they've proven they don't really know what they're talking about a lot of the time. Misapplying the term "centering" would just be par for the course.

--Christ-centered, not man-centered, the idea being to keep your mind and your heart united, on the name of Jesus

Well, the NAME of Jesus is not Jesus, not even close. If you want to be united with Jesus, we must do what He said and know His revelation, and hesychastic prayer is not even close to any Jesus-ordained prayer.

On tradition:
--not redefining them for cultural relevancy

When you claim to be reproducing and believing what the early church believed, or what the church throughout history believed, ANY dissenting voice from that history proves the claim to be false. Y'all don't look at it that simplistically, of course, but the question-begging way that you set yourselves apart from post-facto-labeled heretics and then appeal back to only the ECWriters who've passed your dogma tests to support your position as being the continual faith of the early church is what I'm pointing out is so ridiculously circular.

--but our aim is not to take small t traditions and expand them everywhere as big T tradition 

Yes, I know; what I'm saying is that you take SOME small t traditions and expand them everywhere as big T tradition. The ones that fit your later agenda and later dogma.

--the Bible contains errors of fact, but that that was intended by God on purpose in some cases or was the result of the Jews misunderstanding what God was talking about in the OT

1) God intended to miscommunicate, or to communicate error? How do you figure that?
2) One has to wonder on what basis you assume that God did not ensure that the Jews wouldn't misunderstand the Big Stuff, like the Crucifixion or the Resurrection, versus misunderstanding only small stuff. I've never understood that sort of reasoning, as if your human reason gets to sit in judgment over what God has spoken. "True." "False! I in concert with modern science have thus decreed it!"

--The Bible is subservient to the Word of God (the Logos)

Well, I would call that a category mistake. The Logos breathed out His revelation; it's not subservient to Him. It's how we know Him.

--EC still maintains it is sola scriptura,

No no no no, this is definitely false. Not a chance. It's one of evangelicals'/Reformeds' biggest critiques of their position.

--You guys seem to be a "let's keep it within a certain boundary" (i.e. what is written down in the Bible or can be implied from the Bible) kind of group

1) I don't see a big problem with that, really. One could certainly do a lot worse than staying close to what God has said.
2) That said, I think you're confusing me with a Presby, who subscribes to the Regulative Principle. I hold to Sola Scriptura and in questions of non-essentials appeal often to Rom 14 and 1 Cor 8.

--I haven't noticed any more liberalism than in many of the Baptist Churches down here in NC. 

This is a tu quoque; just b/c some (or even many) Baptists in your acquaintance are also liberals doesn't change the resemblance between EOC and EC in this area.

--So the modern Republican party is too liberal for me.

Well, on THAT we can agree! :-)

--I don't know any Orthodox person who does not beleive that Christ will return on Judgment Day and transform everything into some New Heaven and New Earth, utterly destroying this fallen creation.

That's actually an identical position to the Reformed/evangelical. But it's what we do in the interim, and especially the importance/priority placed on it, is what I was referring to.

And yes, please do send me the statement you're writing on EC. I'd like to see it, definitely.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Similarities between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Emergent Church

A Facebook friend of mine is an acquaintance from my days on the forums, and is now an EO priest.  He had made a joke about turning a church over which he has some kind of influence (maybe it's in his parish or something [if indeed "parish" is the right word for EOC], I'm not sure) into an Emergent church, and then said "...or not, LOL" or something to that effect.  I commented that there seem to me to be numerous similarities I've noticed over the years between EOC and the Emergent church.  He asked me to PM him a rundown of them, and I paste my response here:


Just a few ways off the top of my head.
For one thing, EC (ie, Emergent Church, as opposed to EOC) patterns itself after more mystical theologians, with prayers such as hesychastic prayers, centering oneself, controlling one's breathing, seeking the contemplative part of worship, etc. Use of icons, incense, candles.

EC puts a strong emphasis on community and the voices of the community, which is very similar to the way EOC recognises post facto out of all little-t tradition the big-S Sacred big-A Apostolic big-T Tradition that it acknowledges as authoritative and normative for the church.

Following that, EC has a strong errantist streak wherein the Bible is not held to be without error. It ends up being subservient to traditions from within the church (or "the community" as ECs like to say). Same as in EOC, and quite different from evangelicals or Reformed.

In many EC congregations/communities, the Eucharist is a big central deal. (I actually wish that my own SBC church would make the Eucharist a bigger more central deal and am about to teach to that effect in my Sunday School class; I've asked the elders to do so but not really seen much change.) In EOC, of course, the Eucharist is also fairly central to worship.

There's a strong streak of political liberalism and Social Gospel-type orientation toward action in both EC and EOC.

Similarly, since EC is basically (theological) liberalism 2.0, 'salvation' is not viewed as getting right with a God Whose Law has been gravely transgressed and trampled on by sinful men, but rather it's growing this world towards a fair and just society in which God is honored thru everyone living out the love of Jesus in everything all the time. This is far more similar to theosis than to a Reformed/evangelical understanding of justification+transformation/regeneration -> sanctification -> glorification.

Hope that helps!

Friday, April 16, 2010

My experiences in 4 Tea Parties

My friend asked me to sum up my experiences in the 4 Tea Parties I've attended.

Here's my answer.

Hey brother,

I've now been to 2 tea parties on the OKC capitol steps and 2 at the Norman train depot, all I think within the last year.  I've always gone with an eye out for trouble; if physical violence, to witness it from a safe distance with as much detail as I could remember, and if debate, to get right in the middle of it and make sure that the truth comes out and the arguments of the foolish are overturned, but always with calm and controlled body language.

The first 3 TPs I attended didn't even really have any protesters/picketers.  I heard there were some on the other side of the capitol bldg at the OKC TPs but they never came around to our side that I saw.  Same at the first Norman TP.  Last night in Norman there were a few MadHatters, who are the guys referred to in that Hannity quote I posted on your wall - liberals are asking fellow local libs to infiltrate and subvert the TPs and make them look foolish.  Last night there were 6-8 protesters with 3 signs (one of which misspelled the word "What", rendering it "Wat", as in "Learn wat Teabaggers means".  Yeah, that's very mature and not in the least bit offensive) across the street and then two guys in the midst of the TP-ers, each holding a sign.
One said "Liburty Eqality Fraternity", and the other "Drop Socal".  I asked the Socal one if he meant to express that SoCal (ie, Southern California) should drop into the ocean, sparing the rest of the country, or should secede and become its own country (neither of which I'd mind all that much, BTW, though the latter is certainly preferable), but he said the word was "social".  Another misspelling.  Obviously these guys were MadHatters, who'd decided to infiltrate the TPers and make them look silly by repeating a French slogan with two misspellings and then another one with a misspelled "Social".  I mocked them briefly: "Oh, *NOW* I get it!  You guys are pretending to be Tea Partiers, and then you're making fun of us b/c you misspelled two words on *THIS* one and one on *THAT* one., CLEVER.  I'm ready to join the Left now!"
Like a minute later, the guy who was speaking on the mic for the TP acknowledged the two as MadHatters, and they made no reaction, but did leave about 3 minutes later.  The only hostility they received was my brief lighthearted mockery (with zero threat or implication of physical violence, needless to say; I had my baby son in my arms, for crying out loud), and the protesters across the street did get a "You guys know how silly you look?" from a frustrated TP-er a little later, which outburst was met with a rebuke ("no, no, no, come on now...") from the guy with the mic.  That's it.  I later made my way across the street to interact with the protesters in a very relaxed way, and after 4-5 questions and some strawmen from them (ie, "I don't agree with refusing to pay any taxes", as if the TP movement actively teaches that we should pay ZERO taxes) and my attempted corrections of those strawmen, they'd decided that I "only wanted to argue" and "didn't want to learn about their views", and they wouldn't listen as I replied, "I don't see why I can't do both".  But they were done talking to me and just mostly ignored me after that.  Like I said, pathetic.

Anyway, my overall impression of the TP is frustrated citizens getting together to make sometimes (but not always) slightly hyperbolic statements to get the deaf and blind gov't's attention in a peaceful manner.  The media likes to paint us (yes, I'd call myself a TP-er) as if we're always right on the verge of pillaging and looting the surrounding bldgs, but I've never seen ANY violence there.  None.  Armed resistance to a tyrannical gov't has sometimes been implied, but not as a live option NOW.  It's more like sthg that you should prepare for now in case the gov't continues on the path it's on now.  You know, there's only so much trampling of Constitutional rights that people can take.
Always peaceful, always rhetorically-minded, openly scornful of all the fat cats in Washington and openly resentful that so many of their hard-earned dollars, which are taken by the gov't by force, go to support evil and stupid programs.
But no firing guns into the air.  Never seen a gun there, in fact, let alone an AK-47.  No chants of "a-b-c-d, shoot 0bama in the knee" or anything like that.  (As the Secret Service red flag softwares go crazy.)  Plenty of "let's kick those morons out of office".  Plenty of signs along the lines of "Spread my work ethic, not my wealth", etc.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More on Energetic Procession about icons and authority - 3

Continuing at Perry Robinson's blog...

Fr Dcn Patrick (Monk Patrick) Says:

Yes, the Saints have appeared and talked with various people a large number of times and continue to do so to this day.

My guess is that any request for evidence of this will be shadowy and fourthhand accts from the Russian or Armenian frontier.
But heedless, I forge on: Evidence, please?

They know each other and those living and those living know them, this is assumed in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and the Transfiguration;

How is this assumed in that parable? Abraham specifically refused to send Lazarus back to the rich man's family. Instead, he indicated that the Scriptures should be enough for them. Sage advice for anyone, especially an EOx like yourself who is used to "exceed(ing) what is written" (1 Cor 4:6).

how do you think Peter knew who Moses and Elijah were when he had never seen them in the flesh and there is no evidence of Jesus introducing them?

1) It should be obvious that the Gospel writers rarely include the exhaustive acct of everythg that happened at any given incident; they write what they thought was important.
2) The entire event is miraculous. What's wrong with positing that Peter got a miraculous word of knowledge at that moment?

They do hear our prayers and answer them, especially the Mother of God.

Please provide evidence for this assertion.

There are a large number of miracles worked by the presence of icons and many give off sweet smelling myrrh.

Please give us a reason to think that such things could not be demonic in nature and origin.
When Jesus and the apostles worked wonders like obvious and public complete healings and writing Scripture, what about "giving off myrrh" is supposed to impress?

The alternate reading is not only not in keeping with the text, as Perry has showed, but would conflict with the experience of Christians for centuries.

The action of venerating icons ALSO conflicts with "the experience of Christians for centuries".
This is another double-edged argument.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some notes from the Council of Hieria

A council took place near/in Constantinople in 754 AD, aka the Council of Hieria.  It was well-attended, ~338 bishops, and called itself an Ecumenical Council.
So...why isn't it an official EO Ecumenical Council?  Ultimately, because the church came to reject its conclusions; ie, the more modern church looked back and picked and chose what traditions from church history would become Sacred Tradition.  The point is so obvious as to be beyond reasonable dispute, but that doesn't mean that our friendly neighborhood sold-out on-fire EOx are going to be reasonable.

Here are some notes on this council that I thought are interesting.

This would appear when the enquiry is made, of which of the two Natures was the image of Christ the representation? Of the human nature or of the human and divine conjoined? If it was the picture of the human nature only, then did not the worshippers become practical Nestorians, worshipping the humanity apart from the divinity? But did they, on the other hand, assert that the image of Christ was an image of His human and divine nature conjoined — what was that but the error of Eutyches?
This part of their discussion they conclude by showing that no other image of Christ was needed than that which He Himself had left us — namely, the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper, true and real images of His body and blood. 


Satan misguided men, so that they worshipped the creature instead of the Creator.  The Mosaic law and the prophets cooperated to undo this ruin; but in order to save mankind thoroughly, God sent his own Son, who turned us away from error and the worshipping of idols, and taught us the worshipping of God in spirit and in truth.  As messengers of his saving doctrine, he left us his Apostles and disciples, and these adorned the Church, his Bride, with his glorious doctrines.  This ornament of the Church the holy Fathers and the six Ecumenical Councils have preserved inviolate.  But the before-mentioned demi-urgos of wickedness could not endure the sight of this adornment, and gradually brought back idolatry under the appearance of Christianity.  As then Christ armed his Apostles against the ancient idolatry with the power of the Holy Spirit, and sent them out into all the world, so has he awakened against the new idolatry his servants our faithful Emperors, and endowed them with the same wisdom of the Holy Spirit.  Impelled by the Holy Spirit they could no longer be witnesses of the Church being laid waste by the deception of demons, and summoned the sanctified assembly of the God-beloved bishops, that they might institute at a synod a scriptural examination into the deceitful colouring of the pictures (ὁμοιωμάτων) which draws down the spirit of man from the lofty adoration (λατρείας) of God to the low and material adoration (λατρείαν) of the creature, and that they, under divine guidance, might express their view on the subject...

After we had carefully examined their decrees under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we found that the unlawful art of painting living creatures blasphemed the fundamental doctrine of our salvation—namely, the Incarnation of Christ, and contradicted the six holy synods.  These condemned Nestorius because he divided the one Son and Word of God into two sons, and on the other side, Arius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, and Severus, because they maintained a mingling of the two natures of the one Christ.
Wherefore we thought it right, to shew forth with all accuracy, in our present definition the error of such as make and venerate these, for it is the unanimous doctrine of all the holy Fathers and of the six Ecumenical Synods, that no one may imagine any kind of separation or mingling in opposition to the unsearchable, unspeakable, and incomprehensible union of the two natures in the one hypostasis or person.  What avails, then, the folly of the painter, who from sinful love of gain depicts that which should not be depicted—that is, with his polluted hands he tries to fashion that which should only be believed in the heart and confessed with the mouth?  He makes an image and calls it Christ.  The name Christ signifies God and man.  Consequently it is an image of God and man, and consequently he has in his foolish mind, in his representation of the created flesh, depicted the Godhead which cannot be represented, and thus mingled what should not be mingled.  Thus he is guilty of a double blasphemy—the one in making an image of the Godhead, and the other by mingling the Godhead and manhood.  Those fall into the same blasphemy who venerate the image, and the same woe rests upon both, because they err with Arius, Dioscorus, and Eutyches, and with the heresy of the Acephali.  When, however, they are blamed for undertaking to depict the divine nature of Christ, which should not be depicted, they take refuge in the excuse:  We represent only the flesh of Christ which we have seen and handled.  But that is a Nestorian error.  For it should be considered that that flesh was also the flesh of God the Word, without any separation, perfectly assumed by the divine nature and made wholly divine.  How could it now be separated and represented apart?  So is it with the human soul of Christ which mediates between the Godhead of the Son and the dulness of the flesh.  As the human flesh is at the same time flesh of God the Word, so is the human soul also soul of God the Word, and both at the same time, the soul being deified as well as the body, and the Godhead remained undivided even in the separation of the soul from the body in his voluntary passion.  For where the soul of Christ is, there is also his Godhead; and where the body of Christ is, there too is his Godhead.  If then in his passion the divinity remained inseparable from these, how do the fools venture to separate the flesh from the Godhead, and represent it by itself as the image of a mere man?  They fall into the abyss of impiety, since they separate the flesh from the Godhead, ascribe to it a subsistence of its own, a personality of its own, which they depict, and thus introduce a fourth person into the Trinity.  Moreover, they represent as not being made divine, that which has been made divine by being assumed by the Godhead.  Whoever, then, makes an image of Christ, either depicts the Godhead which cannot be depicted, and mingles it with the manhood (like the Monophysites), or he represents the body of Christ as not made divine and separate and as a person apart, like the Nestorians...

The evil custom of assigning names to the images does not come down from Christ and the Apostles and the holy Fathers; nor have these left behind them any prayer by which an image should be hallowed or made anything else than ordinary matter...

Whoever in future dares to make such a thing, or to venerate it, or set it up in a church, or in a private house, or possesses it in secret, shall, if bishop, presbyter, or deacon, be deposed; if monk or layman, be anathematised, and become liable to be tried by the secular laws as an adversary of God and an enemy of the doctrines handed down by the Fathers.  At the same time we ordain that no incumbent of a church shall venture, under pretext of destroying the error in regard to images, to lay his hands on the holy vessels in order to have them altered, because they are adorned with figures.  The same is provided in regard to the vestments of churches, cloths, and all that is dedicated to divine service...

(4)  If anyone does not confess one Christ both God and man, etc.
(5)  If anyone does not confess that the flesh of the Lord is life-giving because it is the flesh of the Word of God, etc.
(6)  If anyone does not confess two natures in Christ, etc.
(7)  If anyone does not confess that Christ is seated with God the Father in body and soul, and so will come to judge, and that he will remain God forever without any grossness, etc.
(8)  If anyone ventures to represent the divine image (χαρακτήρ) of the Word after the Incarnation with material colours, let him be anathema!
(9)  If anyone ventures to represent in human figures, by means of material colours, by reason of the incarnation, the substance or person (ousia or hypostasis) of the Word, which cannot be depicted, and does not rather confess that even after the Incarnation he [i.e., the Word] cannot be depicted, let him be anathema!
(10)  If anyone ventures to represent the hypostatic union of the two natures in a picture, and calls it Christ, and thus falsely represents a union of the two natures, etc.!
(11)  If anyone separates the flesh united with the person of the Word from it, and endeavours to represent it separately in a picture, etc.!
(12)  If anyone separates the one Christ into two persons, and endeavours to represent Him who was born of the Virgin separately, and thus accepts only a relative (σχετική) union of the natures, etc.
(13)  If anyone represents in a picture the flesh deified by its union with the Word, and thus separates it from the Godhead, etc.
(14)  If anyone endeavours to represent by material colours, God the Word as a mere man, who, although bearing the form of God, yet has assumed the form of a servant in his own person, and thus endeavours to separate him from his inseparable Godhead, so that he thereby introduces a quaternity into the Holy Trinity, etc... 

The holy synod cried out:  Thus we all believe, we all are of the same mind.  We have all with one voice and voluntarily subscribed.  This is the faith of the Apostles.  Many years to the Emperors!  They are the light of orthodoxy!  Many years to the orthodox Emperors!  God preserve your Empire!  You have now more firmly proclaimed the inseparability of the two natures of Christ!

To forestall possible objections:
-Remember that I am a Sola Scripturist and subject everything, even voices from the earlier church that agree largely with me, to Scripture.  I can identify what is right and wrong out of those voices, praise God for what is good and true, and reject what is false.  Thus I obey Jesus' commands and example from Mark 7:1-13.
-In citing all this I do not seek to establish my own position.  Rather I am showing how the EO (and RC) illusion of an unbroken consensus throughout history for their pet dogmas is bogus.  It is an internal critique.
-Further, I am showing how the modern EOC and RCC beg the very question they're supposed to be arguing for when they cite early church writings.  When you claim to be reproducing and believing what the early church believed, or what the church throughout history believed, ANY dissenting voice from that history proves the claim to be false.  The problem is not with history; the problem is with the claims made by these groups.  They are so overgeneral and so sweeping that it takes only a little digging in history to disprove and embarrass such ridiculous claims as they make.
-"But that council has long been called a 'robber council'!" our EO and RC friends might object.  Thus they'll simply demonstrate what I've said.  These people lived in earlier times and were members of the church.  They disagreed with you. Going back later and slandering them or refusing to accept their conclusions does not change the fact that these disagreements in these earlier times actually existed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Some non-thinking on abstinence-only education

A columnist from the local student rag let fly this idiocy recently.

My response:

Grogan said:
--Democrats are now actively funding abstinence-only education, which contributes to ignorance, the spread of STDs, teen pregnancy and death.

Actually, if you actually follow the guidelines of abstinence, it's 100% successful in preventing unwanted pregnancy, STDs, etc.
The problems start when you STOP ABSTAINING.  
By contrast, if you use a condom or something, then you have a, what? Let's be generous - 90% success in preventing unwanted pregnancy, STDs, etc.  You start getting lower %s when when you STOP USING CONDOMS.
So you can go with 100% if yes and a lot lower results if no.
Or you can go with 90% if yes and the same lot lower results if no.

This isn't that hard, but it is common sense and logic, which are not liberals' strong points.

--the idea that sex is a repulsive, despicable and dangerous act

Show me anyone who says that sex is REPULSIVE.  Or DESPICABLE.
It certainly IS dangerous, kind of like fire, if used outside of its intended context.  Fire's great for my fireplace or my stove, but not in the middle of my bedspread.  Like sex.  No interaction with this obvious fact from Grogan.

--Should we just ignore the high school students that identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual?

Depends on what you want.  Are you trying to prevent unwanted pregnancy, STDs, etc?  If so, abstinence has a 100% success rate.
Why is Grogan moving the goalposts in the middle of his column?

--People are going to have sex before marriage

So why are you complaining about abstinence-only education?  
People are also going to have unprotected sex.  I guess that means that condom ed is hopeless and shouldn't be done, since some ppl won't wear 'em. 

Wow, this column was a crappy and sappy expression of love for and blind faith in liberalism.  Thanks for sharing, but leave the thinking to someone else, dude.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saint and Sinner on Francis Collins

Saint and Sinner said:

Several of the guys at Uncommon Descent and Evolution News and Views have reviewed (Francis) Collins' book.

The major problems with Collins' arguments are:

1) He presents a straw-man of ID. He obviously has never read any ID works.

2) He constantly assumes methodological naturalism to attack ID but does not apply MN to his own arguments for God's existence (such as the physical constants of the universe). [Also, MN has been dealt with in philosophical literature, and he completely ignores that as well.]

3) His Darwinism undercuts his argument for God's existence from aesthetics. According to Darwinism, the only reason why he believes in God is because natural selection has caused him to for survival purposes, not necessarily because it is true.

4) His belief in methodological naturalism undercuts his Christianity entirely as it would eliminate the Resurrection of Jesus as a possibility in favor of naturalistic options (no matter how implausible).

5) He uses the argument from 'Junk' DNA when, in reality, that argument has been debunked for a long time. 'Junk' DNA is fully functional. Other arguments are dealt with in Dembski and Wells' book mentioned by Steve above.

More on Energetic Procession about icons and authority - 2

Perry Robinson has gone off on another rambling, repetitive comment at his blog.  You'll note that numerous things he said go unresponded-to, and that's b/c I don't think such things are worth rebutting, either b/c they are redundant, unimportant, or mere naked assertions in place of arguments refuting my own previously-offered arguments.  You'll also note the screwed-up Christology he's working with, which is, it is becoming clear, is effectively monophysite.
Here's the comment:

You equate worship and veneration. I showed that veneration or honoring comes in a variety of forms.

1) But since I *don't* equate worship and veneration...
I simply identify the actions you perform in conjunction with each other to painted pictures of dead people as fulfilling the conditions of worship, and reject the convenient "but it's not our INTENTION" excuse.
2) Have I admitted to venerating the Reformers themselves in memory?  No.  To say nothing of statues of them.

The Reformed statues are religious in nature given the name Jesus below them in abbreviated form as “IHS”.

1) You'd need more proof that the IHS refers to the statues and not to the Jesus that they preached, reminding us that above all they preached Jesus.
2) You still wouldn't've proved any inconsistency on MY part since you never asked me if I would've built those statues or supported their construction.  Which I probably wouldn't've.
And since you go on to say (in another example of your being all over the place):  "I grant with the Geneva idols that no one is bowing down and rendering honor to them", it would appear you grant me the point.  Thanks!

will only bring to light the Procrustean lengths you need to go to maintain your position.

Sorry, it's not ad hoc that I would claim to judge everything by the Scripture.  Have I ever said that before?

you also noted that you would allow images of Jesus even in a church building even if not in the “worship hall.”

And you might have sthg if I'd said sthg like "...and it's OK to venerate those images of Jesus".
But, since I didn't...

Certainly the Reformed tradition has held that it is impermissible. Is it or not?

Am I "the Reformed tradition"?  I don't see how my position isn't quite clear.

And if it is, how then do you evade the objections from the Reformed that you are guilty of idolatry and breaking the second commandment?

Anyone can contact me to get the email fwded to them of my convo with one TurretinFan's friends about this very point.

But 1 Kings shows things that Solomon put in on his own apart from a command by God and yet God approved them.

This is me being consistent.
Where did anyone ever do before those images what you do before yours?  And where did God say that was OK?

Third, if you think that I need to refute them all jointly because jointly they have some argumentative force that individually they lack, you will not actually demonstrate that this is so and that my dealing with them one at a time fails to take this into account

I'll have to appeal to the reader's common sense at this point.
You keep asking where it's wrong to kiss someone or a Bible or sthg.  Yet do you ONLY kiss sthg in the practices to which I object?  Ditto for candles, incense, bowing down, etc.  Then you attempt to equivocate and ask "oh, so it's wrong to ask living persons to pray for you?"  But you do ALL of those TOGETHER.  To PICTURES OF DEAD PEOPLE.  Sorry, again, it's pretty clear this is self-serving equivocation on your part.  Either defend your practices or don't.

Friday, April 09, 2010

More on Energetic Procession about icons and authority

Perry Robinson probably has other stuff going on, but some other commenters have taken up common cause with him and been questioning me.  The comments start here.

Here is my reply:

Hi Fr Dcn Patrick (Monk Patrick),
They are only dead in the flesh but otherwise alive.
And yet God makes that distinction too, and tells us not to practice communication with those who’ve passed on. Let God worry about communicating with them, since they’re alive TO HIM, but not to YOU.
Have you considered that being alive incorporates the ability to relate to others and to communicate, without which there is no meaning to being alive?
And yet you have no evidence, whether pragmatic or biblical, that dead ppl can indeed relate to the living or communicate with them.
And a lot of evidence to the contrary, including God’s repeated warnings not to communicate with them. Like I said, I presume He’s got that covered and doesn’t need my help.
Have you considered that communication does not have to be merely through physical means picked up by the senses?
Tell that to all the RCs and EOx who like to make the argument “So what’s the diff between prayer to the dead and asking intercession of the living saints in our church?” I’m glad to hear someone more reasonable like you on this point.
What does alive in Christ mean? Alive in Christ means that you share His life in and with Him.
Yep. And yet it doesn’t necessarily mean you walk and talk on THIS EARTH. It could mean you’re in Paradise/Heaven, and that means your physical body is (for the moment) dead, and God told us not to talk to those ppl. Why would you? Plenty of ppl in your church who are still alive, and Christ Himself is infinite! Yet you insist on talking to ppl who are obviously dead and making excuses for your sin.
To honour the Saints in Him is to honour Christ,
Actually, God doesn’t really agree.
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.”
I was referring to the theological debates of the eighth and ninth centuries not to the old Testament commandments.
OK, but I’m referring to the OT. You know, what God said. I don’t care much about 8th century stuff when we need to get to the bottom of what God said.
Please point to texts where it says to reverence God alone.
The point over and over again is not to worship or serve idols.
Here – I’ve already written on this.
It is not right (~97% is not right) by your own testimony thus it is heresy by the thought of this commentator.
Oh wow! A Protestant commentator said sthg that is wrong! SHOCK of shocks.
One wonders where he’d find a church that is 100% right.
1 Tim 3:15 taking into account 1 John 2:21
1 Tim 3: 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth
1 Jn 2:21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
A pillar and support holds sthg else up – the Scripture, in this case.
Anyway, did not John also write 1 John 1: 8 “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”?
Presumably you think EOC is 100% right on everythg. If that’s the case, please adjudicate between each of these two warring factions in EOC and tell us who is right, and most importantly, how you know. Thanks!
The Father’s are not chosen arbitrarily so that cuts the circularity on your argument.
I’m sorry (but not surprised) you can’t see it, but naked assertions aren’t particularly helpful.
That whole paragraph was just more circular reasoning, and didn’t prove anythg. Sorry.
There were different lists of Canonical Scripture written by different Fathers in the past.
So which one was right, and how do you know? You were just telling me that anythg less than 100% is unacceptable, and now you want me to swallow “they’re close, and vary by only a few books here and there”? Answer the problem, tell us for sure which ones were right and wrong, and how you know.
You have not demonstrated in your response that you have read Hebrews 13:7-9 with the care that warranted the reason to reference it.
7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
I do remember those who’ve led me. They’re my church elders, and I see them every Sunday.
I also imitate their faith and action.
We don’t hold to a Jesus Who gets eaten and drunk, but rather One Who is actually the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I’m not carried away by innovations, b/c I test everythg by the light of what God has revealed in Scripture.
I don’t practice compulsory fasting, unlike (in practice) EOC.
Looks like YOU’RE the one reading not too carefully. Show me in the text where “those who spoke the word of God to you” = “the early church writers whose writings agree best with our doctrine, whom we accept”.
Elders or teachers either Abbots or Bishops), or Fathers, from generation to generation (does Paul intend this process to last only one generation, if so why?)
No, ELDERS AND TEACHERS are meant to pass on a la 2 Tim 2:2. He doesn’t say anythg about infallibility, however, nor about apostolicity. Watch out for equivocation, no matter how many other EOx run off the cliff before you.
Thanks for your unsupported opinion.
Forgive me if I was patronizing. That wasn’t my intent in writing about the meaning of prayer
Apology accepted. I hope you’ll make it stick by actually engaging my real objection instead of breaking it up and making me look like I think, say, lighting candles is a bad thing.
I see the distinction you mean to make when you say that it’s untrue to say that Christ WAS eternally the God-man, but it is false.
So Jesus HAS ALWAYS BEEN the God-man? The Incarnation is not an event in time?
You’ve got some problems here…
It is incorrect Christology to understand the Word as ever anything other than the incarnate, crucified and risen Jesus Christ.
Now all you need is an argument.
Now, THIS statement is correct: It is incorrect Christology to understand the Word as, from the point of the Crucifixion on, anything other than the incarnate, crucified and risen Jesus Christ, or from the Incarnation on anything other than the incarnate Jesus Christ, the 2nd person of the Trinity.
But you’re assigning “crucifiED and risEN” before He was crucified or risen. That’s the disconnect.
Eternity doesn’t admit stages of being or becoming.
It’s funny that most EOx have a hard time verbalising their doctrines, retreating to “mystery” all the time with their apophaticism. Maybe this is why – you’re not allowing enough mystery to the Incarnation. How did the eternal God enter into flesh, time, and matter? I don’t know, but I do know one thing – He did so. You need a bigger dose of mystery.
“In the beginning” is a reference to time, the beginning of time, the beginning of creation.
And the Bible uses it multiple times, in reference to the Logos and God’s action in creation.
However, the incarnate Christ has returned to his Father, as incarnate. His crucified and resurrected flesh is now eternal,
Are you using arguments about His nature and state of existence INTO THE FUTURE as justification for reading events that happened in His incarnate life on Earth back into His existence before all that happened? Why would you do that? Is it b/c you don’t have an argument?
Of course, while on earth, Christ as a man moved through time, and events in his earthly life have a temporal “location.”
And of course, since He retains a physical body now and forevermore, Jesus *still* has a temporal and physical location.
The lamb is slain “from the foundation of the world.” The interpretation you offer, that this indicates that his death was planned from the beginning, does not match what the verse actually says.
Thank you for your opinion. Now please offer an argument.
Such a notion is not wrong as far as it goes, but the way you are using it is slightly reminiscent of platonic idealism
I doubt you have any idea what that means; you just like to throw it out there b/c it’s popular among EOx to say “Platonic”. Read Acts 2:23 and get back to me.
God’s foreknowledge and plan is not a knowledge of things that God has yet to witness coming to pass.
That’s rich, coming from an EOx to a Calvinist.
Of course, I never said that it’s “knowledge of things that God has yet to witness”; that would be totally against my view.
Book XI of Augustine’s “Confessions” might provide some decent grist for the mill.
Perry tells me not to trust Augustine. But you’re recommending him? How can I know whom to trust?
Well, first off, I don’t consider my motivations to be “pure.”
Good first step. How about just offering your worship and prayer to God, then?
First, in Moses’ time, the dead were in Sheol and were not accessible to those living on earth except in certain God-deigned cases.
And now the dead are in Hades or Paradise and are not accessible to those living on earth except in certain God-deigned cases.
The Orthodox, however, are not conjuring the dead; they are living in the reality of the Church brought about by the advent of Pentecost.
That’s nothing more than fancy wordplay. Of course you’re COMMUNICATING with the dead. Deal with what you actually do. See, here you’re back to patronising not only me but all the other Reformed critics of EO necromancy that are reading this. It’s disrespectful for those of us who’ve witnessed EO practice with our own eyes and who are concerned for your very souls.
In that reality, all those in Christ, those alive on earth today and those who have fallen asleep, share one life, which is that of the Holy Spirit
What makes you think that the OT reality is so diff than the reality of today? Were not the dead “alive in God” then?
Peter, Paul, Maximos the Confessor? Yes, they have died to this life, which is really something that happened when they died with Christ in baptism, but they are not “dead.”
They’re not “dead”? Where do they live, then?
Haha, trick question – they don’t LIVE anywhere. They’re DEAD, their bodies have rotted in the grave. God has not resurrected them yet.
There is no other life.
EOx are fond of accusing the Reformed of being Docetists, but this is far more Docetistic than anything I’ve ever even gotten *close* to saying.
The command is there because the idols aren’t gods at all.
And are the saints gods at all? What about angels?
No Orthodox makes the claim that any saint is God or equal to God
Aaron didn’t claim that for the Golden Calf.
Nor did the Israelites that worshiped Nehushtan.
Your distinction is not God’s.
You’d asked: “Where does God say that He disapproves of making icons of Himself?
That’s where it all began. “Of Himself” is not specific enough to be useful, so that’s why I quoted 1 Tim 6.
That means that you do not believe Christ as God.
Hopefully you’ll understand better now. You should know better than to say that.
That fact and your interpretation of 1 Tim 6 confirmed to me your judaism.
Now you’re just being idiotic, sorry. You know, I have a 4-yr old blog with 1000s 100s of posts, and thus a massive paper trail. You’re engaging in willful ignorance. Have a good day.

Some talk on assurance and sola fide - 2

My first answer to David Bryan on this topic.
His most recent response.

Here's my response:

Re: 1 Jn 5.13: I quoted, somewhere in previous comments, St. Paul's psg of not having attained it, but pressing on towards i

It's common for EOx and RCs to play the CounterQuote game, and that's what I see here.
I can harmonise each verse just fine in my position - 1 Jn 5:13 refers to a certain (though certainly not infallible) level of assurance, whereas this psg:
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;

Note Paul's already AND not yet - the "I haven't yet become perfect" in v 12 and then "as many as are perfect" in v 15.
Note that Christ already "laid hold" of Paul - yet more assurance talk.  And what is the "upward call" that is his goal?  Since it's UPward, there is little doubt that he refers to the final phase of one's salvation, glorification, the entry into Heaven, and accompanying glorification, perfect sanctification when God finishes the job (irresistible grace, BTW).
So of course he hasn't attained perfect sanctification yet; he hasn't died yet.
OK, now instead of playing CounterQuote, as if the Scr is contradictory, please provide your own exegesis of each so as to harmonise them under the EO position.

"He perfects the partially-unwilling human at death," as you said.

I pause to note that this is irresistible grace.  The human is resisting perfect sanctification thru his fallen will all his life, else why say "partially-unwilling"?  And yet God finishes the job, on the EO position.  Your position holds to irresistible grace, but you're for some reason allergic to countenancing it with respect to the conversion of the sinner.  What is clear is that your allergy is arbitrary.  

Right, but those are consequences for choices freely made, not an interference with the actual choice itself.

True, but I was talking about the other, future choices - they'd prefer to GO BACK into the Garden.  They'd choose non-thorny ground and non-pain in childbirth over thorny ground and pain in childbirth.  But those choices are refused.

Would God take someone, kicking and screaming, into heaven completely contrarily to his express, consistent will as borne out by his own life?

The Reformed wouldn't say that exactly either, not the last "as borne out by his own life".  God not only saves the kicking and screaming sinner, but also transforms him at the same time.  But there can be no doubt that fallen man is God's enemy, who wants nothing to do with Him.  There's not some halfway point in Scripture where the enemy of God becomes merely a sort-of-standoffish near-friend.

Yes indeed, but what’s the nature of that law? What are its consequences, and how are they meted out?

The curse for breaking the law is found in Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”

The consequence is eternal death and curse from God, unless you can keep all the law.  Which you can't.

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.

How long before what % of your sins are forgiven?  How good do you have to be?
Part of your answer I anticipate will be: "Let's not talk of the minimum, but rather of how much we can be in God", yet that doesn't answer the question.  If it's progressive, and since you'll never be 100% fully in accord, in mind, thought, will, desire, and action, with God, so talking of "how much" you can be in God is irrelevant - you can't be as good as God.  So not even getting to assurance, why would anyone conclude that they're doing OK when they're not achieving to the fullest level of holiness?  I don't see why you wouldn't be reduced to utter despair (if you're consistent).

You'd said:
I get it that the main priority for Calvinists is the maintaining of God's sovereignty (and, in that, causality) over all things, whether or not we're made privy to how all that plays out on an individual level. I just don’t see how that ends up meaning anything.

Now you respond:
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.

Well, there's the objective teaching of it, and the subjective "how does this apply to me?" question is precisely what we're talking about here - assurance.

such a teaching seems to be little more than a hypothetical system

Much like the Incarnation, the Trinity.  Many other things.  They are abstract, yet they are utterly real, but it requires jumping the gap from objective to subjective in order to drive it home to the guy in the pew.

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.

So to almost quote you:  Theosis covers the “Saved by works” part very well, but leaves no way to tell if the “you've done/you're doing enough works” part doesn’t “work out”...

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

You applied a human example to God - in a pinch, *I* might use a Ming vase for dishonorable purposes, so obviously God would too.

But first--this “One True Church” polemic is rather tired

I'd stop using it if I saw some reason to think that this isn't your position.  Sorry.

as such a label is horribly ill-defined

I've talked to a lot of EOx over some yrs now and have not yet seen a reason to think the term doesn't fit.  Again, sorry, but I have pleaded with you to turn aside from your error.

This has no answer, and man cannot really call God into account because of it.

Sure it has an answer.  But such talk is not really available to the EO.  One reason I'm glad I don't have to shake my head at suffering and say, "Your suffering is meaningless, and God didn't plan to bring sthg for His glory and your good out of it".
Now, that might be a bit rough around the edges, but you said "this has no answer".  Perhaps I've jogged your memory so you can give a better account on this question.

Romans 5.6 calls them “weak,” though

I assume this is the word, right?
To be honest, I'm not sure how the context:
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

really gets you anywhere.
We're "ungodly", "not righteous", "sinners", due for the "wrath of God" (there's your punishment for breaking the law of God again), "enemies" needing "reconciliation", which cost Jesus His life.  Alot of bad stuff.
You really think that such ppl as these would stop to ask themselves that question - "I would say that the lack of questioning God seems to be over why you seem to be going through every conceivable struggle known to man in order to be saved, not why you had been created, irreversibly, for the sole purpose of eternal damnation."  Do enemies of God, sinners, have holy thoughts such as "wow, I sure hope I'm not created for eternal damnation"?  If they did, why wouldn't they (tautologically) be repentant?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Continuing with DavidW, icons, and EOx' question-begging authority claims

In answer to this comment from DavidW and the one after it:

If someone is departing from the Apostolic Faith, thereby becoming a heretic, why should we accept his teachings?

B/c saying "he's departing from the Ap Faith" is circular.  Who decided that?  The same Church that then looks back on what it has identified as "Ap Faith" to derive its authority to look back and identify that which is "Ap Faith"?
Or shall we test everythg by what we know that God has revealed - the Scripture?
That's why I'd hate to be in your position.

Why should we accept the Gnostics, the Marcionites, the Ebionites, the Arians, etc?

*I* would say it's b/c their doctrine doesn't match the Scr.
Give me a non-circular way, under your position, to know why not.

the false teachers are always exposed and expelled.

Yup, but maybe you were expelled from the true Church.
Give me a non-circular way, under your position, to know why not.

I certainly can define my canon of Scripture and my canon of Tradition.

Give me the list.  Let me know also how you know it's authoritative.
If you can do neither, you've got nothing.  "By all, everywhere, at all times" is useless - be specific.  Or else y'all can quit badgering me about a specific Canon too.  I'll just respond the same way - "By all, everywhere, at all times", and that statement means whatever I want it to mean, whenever I want it to mean it.

The fact that you've gotten salvation totally wrong and add works to it.
Then you must expunge the Epistle of St. James from your New Testament immediately.


The fact that you think it's OK to worship pictures.
Come on, now -- you know that this is a strawman.

What precisely sets your practice apart from worship of those images?
Let's look at it with an analogy.  Two men strike their wives with the exact same level of force.  The one did so b/c he was angry and wanted her to be hurt and to shut up.  The other didn't mean to hurt her at all, meant it as a joke but had a bad sense of humor.  Is the latter action commendable b/c his motivation was not to hurt?

To reject images is, in the end, to adopt a docetic christology.

Please prove it.  You say that all the time.  Make it its own post, I want to see your argument.

Now, you ask Jnorm how you can test our Faith: test it off the Faith of the early Church.

1) Early writers disagreed about certain things and you don't accept just ANYthing an early writer said.
2) Nor do you accept every writer.
3) Nor can you prove, apparently, that these early church writers represented the beliefs of the early church laity, though I keep asking you for the proof.
So, will you engage those challenges, or will you keep repeating yourself?

I challenge you to find any way in which we've departed from the Faith held by the earliest Christians.

I've found multiple ways in which you beg the question on this tendentious characterisation.
I have also shown you before numerous things that early church writers (even "F"athers) have written that contradict your position.  You choose simply to ignore them, but that's not my fault.

Our God would not abandon his people to heresy and idolatry for 1600+ years.

1) How do you know that?
2) How do you know He DID abandon His church, given my position?
3) How valid would that objection be during Elijah's time?

They were not Reformed Baptists in any sense; they were Orthodox.

Actually, they were who they were, nothing else.  But I get to properly represent them b/c what they blvd holds very little importance for a Sola Scripturist, in terms of authority and backup for what I believe.

1. Consuming the Eucharist is an act of worshiping Christ through an "image" of Him -- or a symbol, in your belief. Would it be okay to kiss the chalice/cup containing the Eucharist as a way to honor it as well as to consume it?

1) The Scr knows nothing of this practice.  Jesus never mentioned anythg close.  So there's certainly no obligation to.
2) Which demands that one ask the question - why would one do that?
Same for questions #2 and 3.

4. You seem to think that the Orthodox Church invented its Apostolic Succession and picked and chose amongst ancient authors at some relatively recent date. Can you give a round number at least for when this happened?

1) If you can give an approx date and location for the remnant that God preserved for Himself in 1 and 2 Kings.
2) It's not that "I seem to think" it.  I've proven it numerous times, that you choose among what early writers blvd and ignore other parts b/c "those things that they wrote didn't line up with Apostolic Faith".  This is not up for question, it is clear and evident.

5. Do you ever prostrate yourself in prayer at all?

Yes.  To God.

6. Are all forms of prostration acts of worship?

No.  You're committing the same error that all those EOx at Perry's blog are.
You tell me that it’s OK to do all of the above:
1) Kiss their image. While they’re not there.
2) Burn incense and light candles to their image. While they’re not there.
3) Set up that image in church. You know, the place where religious activity frequently takes place. While they’re not there.
4) Pray inaudibly to them and expect them to read your thoughts and carry the prayer to God. While they’re not there. And you can’t say it audibly to their ears since the dead don’t hear with their physical ears.

Why divorce the one action (bowing down) when it’s never alone in real practice? Unless you were trying to hide something or commit the fallacy of division?

7. Did Christ redeem the material world when he assumed material flesh?

1) Please be more specific, specifically with reference to "redeem" and "the material world".
2) Please also give us a reason to think this is relevant to bowing down and talking inaudibly, asking religious, pious requests and favors and grace, from pictures of dead people.

8. Do you really think that the earliest Christians were like the Reformed Baptists in their beliefs and practices?

I don't know how many times I have to tell you that they were who they were, neither modern EOx nor modern Reformed Baptists.  I suggest you check your attitude - when someone has to explain his position over and over again and you keep going back to the same questions, that says something about you.

Perry Robinson can't get "nature" and "person" straight

Perry Robinson followed up some of our conversation from this Beggars All post (here's his most recent comment, if I recall correctly) on his blog here.  The latter is fast becoming a very long and fairly involved conversation, with me against ~5 commenters, a couple of whom (Perry included) can be quite verbose.  But I wanted to bring out a string of Perry's interaction with me in which he consistently confuses the nature of Christ with the person of Christ, and several times obstinately refuses correction.
Source - Perry: As for the dead not hearing with their physical ears, I suppose Jesus couldn’t hear our prayers either since he has physical ears too.
Me:  ?? I was under the (obviously mistaken) assumption that Jesus ALSO has a divine nature and powers. Silly me.

Source - Perry:  So when Thomas falls down before Jesus and renders worship is worship of his body or is it passed on to his divine person?
Me:  Passed on…to His divine person? You who were ripping me for confusing the Gk words for nature vs person a month ago…might want to rethink this sentence.

Source - Perry:  Jesus is also deity, but it is also said of him that he “hears” prayers. Since your argument was that disembodied saints could not “hear” prayer, seemingly even by divine aid since they lacked lack physical ears, then it follows that either that Jesus hears them with physical ears or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t then the mere lack of physical ears has nothing to do with “hearing” prayers. And besides, natures don’t do anything, persons do so the “hearing” is said of the person and not the divine nature. When I remarked that the worship and honor that Thomas offers to Jesus is passed on to his divine person, in no way did I confuse person and nature. Jesus is a divine person and not a human person and this was the same point I made to you previously. What I corrected you on if you recall was that you confused person and nature by saying that the hypostatic union amounted to two hypostases coming together, which betrayed a complete lack of understanding or familiarity with the term and the doctrine.

Source - Perry: And besides, natures don’t do anything, persons do so 
Me:  Said the guy who earlier asked: “So when Thomas falls down before Jesus and renders worship is worship of his body or is it passed on to his divine person?
That’s rich.
Perry:  where is Thomas directing his worship but to the humanity of Jesus?
Me: That’s just the point – He isn’t directing his worship to a NATURE at all. How are you missing this?
Perry: Is this worship passed on to his divine person or not?
Me:  ???? As opposed to “His human ‘person’”? You’re not making any sense.
Perry: The fact that you don’t seem to know what an implication is, aren’t familiar with basic theological concepts like the soul or in our last exchange didn’t know what the term “hypostatic union” picked out I think shows that the confusion is on your part.
Me: Said the guy who just asked: “ Is this worship passed on to his divine person or not?” Yes, *I’m* the one who doesn’t understand the Hypostatic Union.
Perry:  Your position a la WCF 8.2 confuses person and nature by saying that since Jesus has a human nature, he is also a human person.
Me: Sorry, you can’t quote me making that confusion. Jesus is ONE PERSON. YOU’RE the one making Him into “a divine person”, as opposed to some other kind of ‘person’, “human” presumably. Go back, read it again, make sense this time.

Source - Perry:  I noted that natures perform no acts, but only persons do. To which you responded with noting that I posed the question about Thomas’ worship at the feet of Jesus and whether this worship was passed on through his humanity to the divine person or not and that this was “rich” implying some kind of inconsistency. First, your remark doesn’t answer my question. Please address it. Is Thomas’ worship passed on through the humanity of Christ or not? Second, that question doesn’t propose that natures are the locus of actions, so I am not being inconsistent. If you think so, you need to make an argument. Again, I’ll wait for the actual argument.
I agree that Thomas isn’t directly it ultimately to a nature, but he is directing it to the divine person through the nature before which is kneeling.

...The problem is that you see the preceding term, “divine” to refer exclusively to nature, but it doesn’t. There are divine persons, angelic persons and human persons and there is divine nature, angelic nature and human nature. To say that Jesus is a divine person picks out the kind of person or hypostasis as distinguished from the other two. It does not imply that the person is a nature.

Source - Perry:  I brought the point up to clear up your obvious lack of familiarity with the concepts and to correct your muddled thinking.
Me:  And yet YOU confused “nature” and “person”, TWICE. Is it so hard to humble yourself and say “oops, I’ve been falsely accusing you of the same crime of which I’m guilty”?

Perry:  whether the person is accessible and not whether the materials contain them or not.
Me:  Yes, the person is of course accessible. Now the question is HOW. And of course a person who IS THERE is accessible differently from a person who IS NOT THERE.

Perry:  Is Thomas’ worship passed on through the humanity of Christ or not?
Me:  The question makes no sense. One does not worship a NATURE. One worships a PERSON.
Perry:  Thomas and Scripture approvingly invoke implicitly the principle that the honor or worship rendered before one thing is passed on to the person. How are you missing this?
Me:  There was no THING present with Thomas. CHRIST was RIGHT THERE.
Perry:  Is Jesus always and only a divine person or not?
Me:  No, that statement is false. At the time of His incarnation, though He had from eternity past always been only a divine person, He took on human flesh and nature and is from that time forward forever the God-man.
Surprising, given all your much-ballyhooed qualifications and the way you rip me for one mistake one time, that you continue in these mistakes here.
Perry:  If Jesus is just one person, but not a divine person, then who is the Logos if not the one person of Jesus?
Me:  Hopefully, the explanation I just gave clarifies my reasoning. I stand behind it still, but you need to understand it in light of your equivocation of the words “divine person”.