This video answers a question posed to me: “How is justification and salvation taught in the Orthodox Church? Do you need to reach a perfect holiness (i.e. the saints) to be saved?” I am an Orthodox catechumen, so my answer may not be perfect. Also, my responses are not prepared. If you think clarifications are necessary, please comment.
P.S. The following video is about myself. I was asked to shoot these by an Orthodox inquirer:
-What was your protestant denomination before you became orthodox?
-Were you with them for a long time?
-You seem to have a good knowledge of the bible and church history; have you study in a bible school or you learn everything on your own?
-How do you get started on your journey to the orthodox church?
And what finally convince you to join with them and leave the protestant?
-Have you deny completely your old protestant friends or if you still have some kind of fellowship with them?
On the first video above, you’re engaging in the word-concept fallacy. “Justification” in Protestant parlance is a systematics concept, not a biblical term. It includes a forensic declaration of status, but also regeneration, the imputation of the alien righteousness of Christ, union with Christ, and our adoption as sons.
EO uses nonbiblical terms in systematics (like the essence and energies of God). So I’m unsure as to why you’d be exercised by their employment.
I have no problem with theological language, and I apppreciate you admitting a lot of this is parlance. Do you approve of what I present?
In one of these recent videos, you said that Protestants see good works merely as evidence for justification and nothing more. Totally untrue.
Here’s an article from John Piper on the essential nature of works for final salvation:
Here’s the Westminster Confession on good works:
“[G]ood works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.”
Again, they are declared ESSENTIAL for final salvation.
And here’s the Augsburg Confession on good works:
“Furthermore, it is taught on our part that it is necessary to do good works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them, but because it is the will of God. It is only by faith that forgiveness of sins is apprehended, and that, for nothing. And because through faith the Holy Ghost is received, hearts are renewed and endowed with new affections, so as to be able to bring forth good works. For Ambrose says: Faith is the mother of a good will and right doing. For man’s powers without the Holy Ghost are full of ungodly affections, and are too weak to do works which are good in God’s sight.”
They are not just evidence of who we are. They are part and parcel of who we are in Christ. They are what we have been created for, prepared for, strengthened for, enabled to, completed in.
I still think there is some differenc,e but I agree not as much as people think.
When it comes to justification, I don’t think that the (conservative versions of the) three branches of Christendom are all that far apart. At least not in terms of official catechesis.
Beneath the surface though, I wonder. There is simply no good reason to be all that angry towards Sola Fide (nor to constantly misrepresent it as Antinomian). There is no good reason to be so anti-conversionary, unless you are well aware how spiritually bankrupt you truly are and wish to keep it a secret (from yourself).
In other words, I believe that Sola Gratia is “on the books” in RC/EO churches, but escapees always rail on and on about the pervasive ritualism, legalism, and superstition.
I mean, even you go crazy over the “sanctification process.” What is that other than becoming more inherently holy over time?
You’re somehow against believers becoming more holy? Really?? Scripture never speaks of such in your opinion? Really??
Yes really. No where is the “Sanctification Process” actually mentioned, nor is it coupled with justification as a bygone conclusion for the believer, nor do we see it in the lives of many people in the Old Testament.
To reply more directly to your response:
I’m not sure there’s any significant difference between a Reformed view of good works and (your take on) Orthodoxy’s stance. Plus, we have no problem with theosis, per se.
The main difference I see is the notion of potential perfectionism in this lifetime. Of course, Wesleyans join you and the Catholics on this. To me, however, this is something that common sense tells us cannot be true. (Just like the notion that, judging by our own experience, free will cannot be gainsaid.) It is the hallmark of spiritual maturity, in my experience, that the closer we grow to Christ, the more aware we become of our own unworthiness. Not that we don’t become less sinful. Just, the farther we come, the clearer it becomes how far we have to go.
Huh? Becoming holy is never mentioned in Scripture? No OT character ever increases in righteousness?
I’m sorry, but I don’t see your point…at all.
Not even a little bit.
I can only guess that you’re speaking of Reformed belief in works as a necessary byproduct (foregone conclusion) of regeneration. But this is common sense. If one genuinely repents, one must do works of repentance. Now, virtue always has its counterfeits. But regeneration can only occur by faith and repentance, not by belief and a “lifestyle change.”
In the Parable of the Sower, we see clear counterfeits at work: apparent regeneration. The difference between plants which produce and those which do not is not their circumstances. True adherents face worldly cares, trials, temptations; but they do not give in to them. The difference is the attitude of the heart; the actual commitment or lack thereof.
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Romans 3 and James 2 contradict one another UNLESS one is speaking of justification and the other of sanctification:
“Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith. For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.”
“But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”
So I think evidence for the “sanctification process” with its ties to justification…and its necessity in the life of the genuinely regenerate…is really quite strong.
Have you seen Bradley Nassif’s article in Christianity Today (on the Reformation )?
He sees little difference between Protestants and Orthodox on Sola Fide:
“If Christ, not justification, is the content of Luther’s gospel, and justification is grounded in union with Christ on the basis of the Incarnation, then the Orthodox would have trouble disagreeing.”
But, of course, the Reformed often state that Union with Christ is the ground of our justification. And Sola Fide was put in place precisely to protect the notion that justification is by (the) grace (of Christ) alone, through faith (in Christ) alone, ON ACCOUNT OF CHRIST ALONE (Solus Cbristus), for the glory of God alone. Our faith is built on “nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
Christ is the center, without reservation….