Friday, May 7, 2010

On Saving Faith

Fr. Stephen has an outstanding post, here, on saving faith (as distinguished from its counterfeits).


Anonymous said...

On saving faith (as distinguished from its counterfeits).” Something that is made cheaper than the original, and knowingly passed off as having the same value as the original (with which the maker is familiar), that is a “counterfeit”. The “counterfeits” then, according to the posting of Fr. Stephen would be Christian Science, Western Theology, and the Reformation.

But true “saving faith” according to Fr. Stephen is: (here I list all of the instances where the posting states directly what “saving faith” is)

Faith is a gift.

It is what we seek (quest) and is already present and precedes us and even makes our questions possible.

Faith is a mode of perception.

Faith is “our participatory adherence to the presence of Him Who reveals Himself.”
Everything else is either condemnation of “counterfeit” beliefs or expansion of the “genuine” ones. For instance, “Some will point out that there is a distinction made between salvation and sanctification in Protestant thought – but such a distinction is neither necessary nor Biblical.” In 1 Cor. 1:30, St. Paul writes, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” ἁγιασμός actually occurs in the New Testament five time, various verb forms of it or its Hebrew equivalent are found in the Bible about 200 times. So it is certainly “Biblical”.
But I do not want to become guilty of the same blind condemnation of other people’s beliefs as Fr. Stephen. Scripture tells us that the same Spirit Who hovered over the chaos of the first moments of creation, now hovers over the chaos of Christendom. His Word, His Truth, His Message, all are pure and without error. But even as our Lord, the Savior, died for sinners, so the Holy Spirit deals with sinners. Therefore, whether we are from the East or the West, we must recognize that where there are people, there will be error. For this reason we should never think that “God loves us best” and what others believe is “counterfeit”. The history of sin in the West led it to one kind of error; unless the East was without sin to begin with, it was led into its own error.
As to what saving faith is, Scripture puts it much more simply and clearly: Gen. 15:6 “And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Did Abraham know he had saving faith, or even what that was? I would guess that he did not. So what is the point?

When our Lord gave His Apostles the Great Commission, He said, in part, “teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” If we are to teach, we have to do so in clear sentences. That is what our Lord did, and that is what His Apostles did. But that does not mean, as we of the West are constantly accused by the East, that assenting to these clear sentences constitutes saving faith. You will not find that assertion in any of the doctrinal writings of any major Western Christian denomination. Faith remains a mystery. We know what we are commanded to do in order to plant it in people, but we do not know how God makes it to be “saving”.

Anonymous said...

I have lived under the Nazis and the Soviets; therefore, I made a vow never to post anything anonymously. In this case, I was in a bit of a hurry, so I forgot. Sorry. The previous post is from me.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

George, as I said, accidentally in a comment to another post, you are always welcome here, and I haven't been neglecting your remarks, only giving them due consideration.

The counterfeiter, the maker of every false doctrine, is satan. The rest of us have been his victims.

The word, ἁγιασμός is certainly biblical, as Fr. Stephen would readily acknowledge. What he is contesting is the making of it into something different from salvation. In Orthodoxy, it’s a synonym. You can’t have one without the other. Put another way, we are not sanctified in order to be afterward saved, but in the course of being saved; in fact, as the heart of what being saved means. That’s the definition of what salvation is: holiness. Holiness is participation in Christ’s own Life, and through Him, in the Life of the Holy Trinity. Isn’t it? It doesn’t come by the Law; it comes from, IS, participating in God’s own Life. Which is done by faith.

Fr. Stephen is not condemning any belief; he’s simply disagreeing with some. Not the same thing. Certainly the idea that “God loves us best” is the egomaniacal delusion of individual or collective madness. But we can still disagree with someone else’s doctrine, can we not, without falling into the arrogance of imagining God loves us best?

I'm going to make another blog post out of the rest of my reply to your excellent comment.