Feeling drawn towards Orthodoxy


#143

Happily

There is nothing in the canons (that is, official pronouncements) of Nicaea II that specifically affirms the canons of Carthage. The Council’s acceptance of the Carthaginian canon was done as a “side-bar” issue, and we only know about it because Byzantine clerics speak about it in their correspondences as an issue that was settled at the Council. The closest statement made to this effect by the Council itself in its Acts is the proclamation from its first canon

Of Eastern Orthodox importance particularly as they consider Trullo as ecumenical:
The collection of the code of canons of The African church from the 419 synod was accepted by the Council of Trullo, the canons of which received a quasi-ecumenical authority from the subsequent general imprimatur given them by the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Second of Nicaea.

At the time, the Byzantines considered the 692 Council of Trullo (a.k.a. the Quinisext Council) to be Ecumenical and binding on the Eastern Church/Empire, even though Rome refused to ratify it as a matter of universal authority. Yet, while Trullo was still subject to debate at this time, it clearly fell under the criteria of a council that was "locally assembled for promulgating the decrees of Ecumenical councils.” As the first canon of Nicaea II stipulated. This cannot be denied. At the 692 Byzantine council of Trullo, the African Code of the 419 Council of Carthage (that is, the assembled canons of the Carthagian councils) was embraced by the Byzantine church.

Of a final note: The council of Carthage held in 418 was a great synod (Augustine of Hippo called it A Council of Africa), which assembled under the presidency of Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, took action concerning the errors of Caelestius, a disciple of Pelagius, and it denounced the Pelagian doctrines of human nature, original sin, grace, and perfectibility; and it fully approved the contrary views of Augustine.

This council and its condemnations were ratified at the 4th was ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431

Outright pelagiamism had been successfully condemned in the west on numerous occasions.The question at hand was whether a moderate form of Pelagianism (later dubbed semi-pelagianism) could be affirmed, or if the doctrines of Augustine were to be affirmed.

It defined that faith, though a free act, resulted even in its beginnings from the grace of God, enlightening the human mind and enabling belief. This is a complete rebuttal of semi-pelagianism and St John cassians thought.This became the de facto position of the western church and nobody in west or east disputed the decisions of this synod. All but especially in the west held it’s decisions as de facto faith on original sin and grace.


#144

It was attended by 14 French bishops (a significant amount of the bishops in France at the time) who were the requisite authorities to deal with the error prevelant in their lands since the arrival of St John Cassian (who lived in france).

It decisions were held up by all in France and in the west

Amen

None of the fathers are above criticism , Eastern and western.


#145

Before and after the Eastern Christians left the church, the west never accepted the excesses of Augustine. However his excesses relate to grace and predestination rather than in original sin itself. His use of guilt is the way Catholics understand it and the way I explained it to you. St Thomas and other scholastics goe in depth to explain what guilt means.

I’ve noticed Eastern Orthodox have a common misunderstanding that Catholics and St Augustine mean guilt in a literal way which is not what the west means at all.

It taught the same thing it teaches as Trent and today. The problem is not the words but the problem is that people don’t understand what is meant by those words.

That is the issue especially when Eastern Orthodox attempt to read St Augustine or St Thomas Aquinas or Trent. They don’t have the adequate understanding of the terminology used so they always end up with a faulty and straw man understanding of catholic teaching.

No saint is accepted in totality. Not a single one. But Aquinas is accepted almost 99%. Yes he had his own errors which the church corrected but on original sin since Augustine, and even before from the beginning we have always taught the same thing.

Many non-Catholics get confused by the words hence they think we teach something different today because they misunderstood the Latin church’s words in the past


#146

This is fair enough. Like I said, I have not read too much of St. Augustine, other than his Confessions and random commentaries on scriptures. I tried to look at his teachings on original sin and they seem creepy, unlike anything I have read from the Fathers I have read on the same subject. I don’t know if you can point to a sentence in it and say that is clearly wrong, but the whole focus and thinking seems so foreign to the way it is thought of in the Greek Fathers.

and edit:

If you have false understandings about predestination, your view of original sin is going to be impaired.


#147

Well the Greek fathers really aren’t the summation of the faith. Not even close. Especially on this matter where the Latin fathers wrote more extensively on it given their conforntation with both pelagianism and semi-pelagiansim.

I urge you to read the Latin fathers and the alexandrian fathers.

Well I don’t agree with this. St Augustine was perfectly correct on what original sin is and how it is communicated to all men. He erred when he came to speak on how grace interacts with men as his excesses led him to believe in a predestination that was heterodox.


#148

When I said Greek Fathers, I don’t mean people from Greece, but rather all the Fathers that wrote in the Greek language. And I will stick to them, as have many Orthodox Christians. If there seems to be differences in the way the Latin Fathers taught, I trust the Greek Fathers first. Just because the Latin Fathers wrote on it more extensively does not mean they are correct. The more you speak, the more errors you could make. This whole fight against semi-pelagiansism looks like a Calvinist trying to prove that only God does anything, and you have no choice in the matter. If you read some of the words fighting semi-pelagianism, you would have to call Jesus, the Apostles, and all of the early Church Fathers, and Greek Fathers semi-pelagians, because they all clearly explain that the difference between those that will enter the Kingdom of Heaven and those that will be in Suffering, is completely up to you. God is no respecter of persons.

Also, if you don’t understand God’s plan, which someone that believes in a heterodox view of predestination clearly does not understand, then you cannot understand the illness that God is healing in His Plan. I completely disagree that you can perfectly define original sin and be so wrong about predestination. But we will have to agree to disagree.


#149

I’m well aware that the Carthaginian canons were accepted at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. But I see no evidence that Orange (529) was ever accepted at the ecumenical level. Maybe I misread your original statement?

St. John Cassian wrote the following:

Blockquote From which we clearly infer that the initiative not only of our actions but also of good thoughts comes from God, who inspires us with a good will to begin with, and supplies us with the opportunity of carrying out what we rightly desire: for “every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from above, from the Father of lights,” who both begins what is good, and continues it and completes it in us, as the Apostle says: “But He who giveth seed to the sower will both provide bread to eat and will multiply your seed and make the fruits of your righteousness to increase.” But it is for us, humbly to follow day by day the grace of God which is drawing us, or else if we resist with “a stiff neck,” and (to use the words of Scripture) “uncircumcised ears,” we shall deserve to hear the words of Jeremiah: “Shall he that falleth, not rise again? and he that is turned away, shall he not turn again? Why then is this people in Jerusalem turned away with a stubborn revolting? They have stiffened their necks and refused to return.”

How exactly is this statement heretical? Again, St. John Cassian was never condemned at any official level. And as it turns out, it seems that I have misspoken. St. John Cassian did in fact uphold the belief that the desire for good comes from God. St. John Cassian is affirming God as the author of all good, while simultaneously rejecting irresistible grace, as St. Augustine believed. I honestly believe that “semi-Pelagianism” is probably a heresy that never actually existed. The supposed “Archsemi-Pelagian” St. John Cassian did not believe what has commonly been attributed to him since the Reformation.

As for my comments about Orange (529) earlier, you’re right that 14 bishops was not exactly small in Gaul at the time. But the average for the century was 20. I still stand by it not being held up high until the 9th century, however. No one refers to it much until then.


#150

This exactly what I was alluding to in my last post. The very fact that some Latins thought that this was heresy shows their lack of understanding that was common because of false beliefs of predestination and original sin.


#154

Yes it seems there has been a slight misunderstanding. I was talking about Carthage receiving ecumenical approval. Orange was just the West’s own condemnation of semi-pelagianism that has never been denied or rejected till this day.

On St John Cassians errors in his thirteenth conference he says concerning Gods grace and free will of man :

And when He sees in us some beginnings of a good will, He at once enlightens it and strengthens it and urges it on towards salvation, increasing that which He Himself implanted or which He sees to have arisen from our own efforts.

This is the root of the objection to St. John Cassian. He admired St Augustine but never totally went against pelagiaus. In that he held a middle ground where he admitted the necessity of grace but still thought it possible that man did not lose all goodneas in him at the fall and that some goodness may be found in him of himself without grace. Cassian taught that though a sickness is inherited through Adam’s sin, human free will has not been entirely corrupted. He taught that Divine grace is indispensable for salvation, but it does not necessarily need to precede a free human choice, because, despite the weakness of human volition, the will takes the initiative toward God.

To his credit, he did not deny the doctrine of the fall and he even admitted the existence and the necessity of an interior grace, which supports the will in resisting temptations and attaining sanctity.

His theology was completely condemned at the Second council of Orange in Canons 5 to 8

CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism – if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.


#155

CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).


#156

Again, St. John Cassian was never condemned at any official level. And as it turns out, it seems that I have misspoken. St. John Cassian did in fact uphold the belief that the desire for good comes from God. St. John Cassian is affirming God as the author of all good, while simultaneously rejecting irresistible grace, as St. Augustine believed. I honestly believe that “semi-Pelagianism” is probably a heresy that never actually existed. The supposed “Archsemi-Pelagian” St. John Cassian did not believe what has commonly been attributed to him since the Reformation.

As shown above in the thirteenth conference he lays out that he allows some good to arise apart from God and that with this good, God imparts grace to guide it to salvation. That is he believes in cooperative grace which is mild forn pelagianism.

His opponents in his day easily identified this as he chose to incorporate the theology and Pelagius and Augustine into a harmonious synthesis seeing as he thought that they both went too far. Cassian was not a heretic but was in error. He agreed with St Augustine on original sin and the necessity of grace. However he also adopted the Pelagian thought that mans will was not completely corrupted and that it still had some good in it of its own. In his thirteenth conference (the most controversial of them all) he lays this out by acknowlgeing that some men have a movement of the will rather than grace of God to find faith.

Yes St John Cassian was never condemned and even his opponents held him in high esteem never wishing to mention him by name when correcting him but rather always referred to ”the author of the conferences”
He was a Holy man who slipped into an error. Like may of the saints.

Lastly semi-pelagianism was an error of the time and did exist. It was the very error of St. John Cassian. However the name for the error wasn’t coined until around the 16th century,

In the time of St John Cassian, St Prosper of Aquitaine (St Johns refuter) outright called St Johns teaching pelagianism but he also named it Massilianism after then region of Marseille from whence the error came. That is the region where St John Cassian lived and taught his error. At Orange the fathers blatantly called it Massilianism following St Prosper.

The Massilians, following St John Cassians error to its end, withheld baptism (especially from children) as they awaited the act of faith on the part of the person before baptising them. Which, the bapstism, thus communicated the graces of God to the person necissary to assist the persons act of the will to reach salvation.

As for my comments about Orange (529) earlier, you’re right that 14 bishops was not exactly small in Gaul at the time. But the average for the century was 20. I still stand by it not being held up high until the 9th century, however. No one refers to it much until then.

It’s referral is irrelevant. What is relevant is it’s never being overturned or questioned. It has always been upheld and seeing as it is the only ever church sentence on the theology of semi-pelagianism, it is the faith of the church as it has been perpetually upheld and never questioned.


#157

Refuted, see my reply to Rohzek


#158

I know exactly what you mean by “Greek fathers”.
I won’t addrsss you post directly as I pretty much delay with your objections in my reply to Rohzek.

What I will ask you is a simple question. Are the Latin and Greek fathers equal?


#159

You spoke of Alexandrians as separate from Greek fathers. So don’t act like you were clear about this. Also you didn’t refute anything, just the same reading out of context that probably began the witch hunt against people that didn’t believe in heterodox predestination. The quote from Cassian was perfectly Orthodox, you had to write your own interpretation to try to dirty it.

And for whether or not Greek Fathers and Latin Fathers are equal, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. But there are certain Greek Fathers that we trust with their Theology before others. The 3 great hierarchs for example. Also the consensus of the Greek Fathers is more valuable than that of individual Latin Fathers, especially St. Augustine who had many errors in his theology.


#160

You spoke of Alexandrians as separate from Greek fathers. So don’t act like you were clear about this. Also you didn’t refute anything, just the same reading out of context that probably began the witch hunt against people that didn’t believe in heterodox predestination.

The Alexandrians were from a different school of thought. Though they wrote in Greek. That’s why initially seperated them from the Greeks/byzantines. You only later said you stick to the Greek fathers which I knew you meant Greek speakers and is typical of Eastern orthodox to mean when they say that.

Ummm neither Orange nor were St Prosper reading the saint out of context. They reached the same conclusions. And no, I actually read the thirteenth conference. Have you??? Eastern Orthodox always jump to “out of context” when evidence is brought against them not even knowing whether the quoter has read the whole passage in context. I can even wager that you haven’t read it yet it’s amazing that you jump to an appeal to context, a context you aren’t familiar with yourself but one which I have read.

I read the thirteenth conference, the one that got his teaching on grace and free will condemned. I just provide one quote amongst a few which show his error. That quote is explicit and the surrounding context does not help it one bit. Not one single bit.

The quote from Cassian was perfectly Orthodox, you had to write your own interpretation to try to dirty it.

He blatantly said some men make the act of good will of their own efforts. There is nothing orthodox about that. That is pelagiansim through and through. That fact that you think it’s orthodox is worrisome. Even in your own communion

And for whether or not Greek Fathers and Latin Fathers are equal, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. But there are certain Greek Fathers that we trust with their Theology before others. The 3 great hierarchs for example. Also the consensus of the Greek Fathers is more valuable than that of individual Latin Fathers, especially St. Augustine who had many errors in his theology.

Are they equal? Do they hold the same importance?
Even in the west we have our heavy weights like the 4 Latin doctors (St Jerome, St Gregory the Great, St Augustine and St Ambrose).

Further, St Augustine is only seen to make more errors because he wrote more than most of the fathers. But I would wager him (as many do) the greatest theologian of the partristic era and definitely the most influential by miles..
St Augustine was actually held up by the ecumenical councils as one of the chief fathers of the church. It’s only a modern trend in Eastern Orthodoxy to have a negative opinion of him.


#161

You think you are so smart and read, maybe you should go be a priest in the RCC. You need to teach them since they clearly have moved on from their views of predestination and ideas that fed Calvinism.

And the context I was referring to was the paragraph and the part you did not bold.

“increasing that which He Himself implanted”

This shows that God begins all means of holiness and salvation. Plus a quote was mentioned earlier that clearly showed that St. John Cassion believed this same understanding of God being the initiator of faith.

Im done arguing with a historian, scholar, Augustinian because this is not healthy for your spiritual state nor mine. I don’t even know why you went on this long trip to insult St. John Cassian. You worry about me thinking he is Orthodox? I doubt you care anything about me the way you write.

Lord have mercy on us.


#162

Blockquote His opponents in his day easily identified this as he chose to incorporate the theology and Pelagius and Augustine into a harmonious synthesis seeing as he thought that they both went too far. Cassian was not a heretic but was in error. He agreed with St Augustine on original sin and the necessity of grace. However he also adopted the Pelagian thought that mans will was not completely corrupted and that it still had some good in it of its own. In his thirteenth conference (the most controversial of them all) he lays this out by acknowlgeing that some men have a movement of the will rather than grace of God to find faith.

First off, it was not the Pelagian position that man’s will was not completely corrupted. That’s the position of St. John Cassian et al. Pelagius’ position was that the nature of humanity was not damaged at all from the Fall, but it did suffer from bad customs. For more information regarding this, see: Torgny Bohlin, Die Theologie des Pelagius und ihre Genesis (Uppsala, Denmark: Universitets Årsskrift 1957). This of course is slightly different take, and one that St. Augustine never grasped or did grasp and lied about when arguing against Pelagius.

Second, you are professing that the human will was completely damaged. As a former Catholic, I’d like to point out that such a position stands in complete violation of the Council of Trent, specifically Chapter 1 of the Sixth Session and Canon 5 of Chapter 16:

Blockquote The holy Synod declares first, that, for the correct and sound understanding of the doctrine of Justification, it is necessary [Page 31] that each one recognise and confess, that, whereas all men had lost their innocence in the prevarication of Adam-having become unclean, and, as the apostle says, by nature children of wrath, as (this Synod) has set forth in the decree on original sin,-they were so far the servants of sin, and under the power of the devil and of death, that not the Gentiles only by the force of nature, but not even the Jews by the very letter itself of the law of Moses, were able to be liberated, or to arise, therefrom; although free will, attenuated as it was in its powers, and bent down, was by no means extinguished in them.

Blockquote CANON V.-If any one saith, that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.


#163

Now returning to one of your points:

Blockquote It’s referral is irrelevant. What is relevant is it’s never being overturned or questioned. It has always been upheld and seeing as it is the only ever church sentence on the theology of semi-pelagianism, it is the faith of the church as it has been perpetually upheld and never questioned.

On the contrary, its referral is quite relevant. The Christian East, before and after the Schism, never held the Second Council of Orange in any high regard. And the fact that it only became popular during the latter half of the ninth century adds weight to any cautious approach to its teachings. The teachings of a local synod, just as those of any individual Father, are not infallible.

As for the rest, I’m going to just leave the subject. I’m currently translating excerpts of St. Faustus’ work in anticipation of a blog post.


#164

First off, it was not the Pelagian position that man’s will was not completely corrupted.

Now you’re playing with semantics. You know I said he sourced it from a pelagianism in that he held the fall never corrupted us completely. Any denial of the corruption of our nature is pelagian in its foundation even if not followed through completely. This is the very nature of heresies and their softer versions like Arianism and Semi-Arianism etc and you know this.

That’s the position of St. John Cassian et al. Pelagius’ position was that the nature of humanity was not damaged at all from the Fall, but it did suffer from bad customs. For more information regarding this, see: Torgny Bohlin, Die Theologie des Pelagius und ihre Genesis (Uppsala, Denmark: Universitets Årsskrift 1957). This of course is slightly different take, and one that St. Augustine never grasped or did grasp and lied about when arguing against Pelagius.

This is so ridiculous that it deserves no response honestly.

Second, you are professing that the human will was completely damaged. As a former Catholic, I’d like to point out that such a position stands in complete violation of the Council of Trent, specifically Chapter 1 of the Sixth Session and Canon 5 of Chapter 16:

Blockquote The holy Synod declares first, that, for the correct and sound understanding of the doctrine of Justification, it is necessary [Page 31] that each one recognise and confess, that, whereas all men had lost their innocence in the prevarication of Adam-having become unclean, and, as the apostle says, by nature children of wrath, as (this Synod) has set forth in the decree on original sin,-they were so far the servants of sin, and under the power of the devil and of death, that not the Gentiles only by the force of nature, but not even the Jews by the very letter itself of the law of Moses, were able to be liberated, or to arise, therefrom; although free will, attenuated as it was in its powers, and bent down, was by no means extinguished in them.

Blockquote CANON V.-If any one saith, that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.
[/quote]

LOL I never denied free will. I said that good cannot come out without the presence of grace. It’s called prevenient grace. That is Catholicism 101

Secondly I never professed a loss of will but a corruption of it. That is why we are sinful by nature because of our fallen nature. Grace restores our will to a proper state. Allowing us to be good. Goodness God himself. Without God and his life in us we cannot find him. We always choose evil as that is the way of flesh as St Paul taugh:

“For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would.”

The Apostle St Paul also teaches in Ephesians 2:8

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”.


#165

As the catechism proclaims following St Thomas (which Trent followed) and St Augustine (who St Thomas followed)

“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace."

The Second Council of Orange stated that faith, though a free act, resulted even in its beginnings from the grace of God, enlightening the human mind and enabling belief.

And finally for your information , Prevenient grace was discussed in the fifth chapter of the sixth session of the Council of Trent which used the phrase “a Dei per dominum Christum Iesum praeveniente gratia” or in English “a predisposing grace of God through Jesus Christ” Those who turned from God by sins are disposed by God’s grace to turn back and become justified by freely assenting to that grace. That is the relationship between grace and free will.

So before you start misquoting the Holy Council of Trent, make sure you are familiar with it.


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