Calvinism is a Gnostic sect

My recent conversations with Rhology have taken an interesting turn, and one which is very telling in regards to the origins of our respective interpretations of Scripture. In answer to my assertion that Calvinism is essentially Gnosticism, Rhology found himself nodding his head in agreement with the doctrines of the Gnostics and then responded with the question: Is Augustinian theology Gnostic, then?

The answer is an emphatic YES! Blessed Augustine of Hippo, the father of Western Christendom, introduced many Gnostic concepts into his writings which later became key elements of Western Christian belief. A little background information is necessary here. Augustine, who lived in North Africa during the years 354-430, was a member of a Gnostic sect before becoming a member of the Orthodox Church. He was also working with a flawed Latin translation of the Scriptures, not the original Greek, due to his own ignorance of Greek. In addition, due to a combination of geographic, cultural, political, and linguistic factors, he was cut off from the Greek-speaking half of the Church.

All in all, Augustine found himself in a bad situation, but he worked with what he had. Unfortunately, what he had were false assumptions informed by his time as a Gnostic and that already-mentioned flawed Latin translation of Scripture. As would be expected, the theology that he put together was flawed and Gnostic-tinged.

An example of such a flawed, Gnostic-tinged theology is Augustine’s idea of predestination, that God had elected from eternity to save some while condemning the rest to damnation. Anyone familiar with Gnostic theology can see the influence of the Gnostic belief in the saved pneumatikoi versus the damned somatikoi. Adding to these Gnostic assumptions on Augustine’s part was his flawed Latin translation of Scripture, which translated the Greek word “proorizein” to the Latin “praedestinare.” The Latin verb is much stronger in its meaning than the Greek — and Augustine naturally took this strong Latin word to its logical conclusion, a conclusion which none of the Fathers who worked with the original Greek text reached.

Accordingly, he interpeted other passages of Scripture in this light. For instance, he read Romans 9-11 as if St. Paul were talking about the concept of predestination regarding who would be saved and who damned. There’s no justification for this in the text itself, and no other Father of the Church read it this way. Augustine’s interpretation was entirely novel, and based on his Gnostic assumptions.

Another example of such flawed, Gnostic-tinged theology is Augustine’s introduction of the concept of Original Sin. The closest that we come to such a concept in Christian writings pre-Augustine is in the writings of the Gnostics, who supported the idea that the material world was “utterly depraved.” Sound familiar? It should — this idea, along with predestination, carried over into the grandchild of Gnosticism: Calvinism, and became one of the essential principles thereof. Augustine based his belief in Original Sin on both his Gnostic assumptions and, again, his flawed Latin translation of Scripture. In this flawed translation, Romans 5:12 read as if it were saying that “in Adam all sinned.” The original Greek text, though, says that through Adam’s sin, all die. The key difference between Augustine and Paul is that Augustine claims we are born guilty of evil; Paul claims we are born guilt-free but subject to the consequence of sin — death.

Augustine’s innovations and Gnostic-lite heretical ideas were seen as what they were by Orthodox Christians, and so the Orthodox have duly rejected them. Unfortunately, though, these ideas caught on in the West and became foundational beliefs for all later Western theologies, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, achieving their fullest form in the theology of John Calvin.

This should be deeply troubling to Western Christians, and especially Calvinists. The Gnostics were liars and frauds who claimed to possess “secret teachings” given them by the Apostles. The Gnostics actively and explicitly fought against the early Church Fathers, those who had been appointed by the Apostles as heirs to guide the Churches.

This is, of course, why Protestants today find themselves fighting against the Church Fathers — because they are the spiritual heirs of the original heretics. Many Protestants today find themselves doing exactly what the Gnostics did 1800 years ago. They twist the words of those who came before them in the Faith to make it seem they haven’t altered the Apostolic message or, when they realize that this is a dead end, they find themselves saying that the early Christians misunderstood or distorted the message.

In the end, though, the conclusion that logic and history provides for us is one that should make every Protestant take a second look at himself and what he believes. This conclusion is that the reason they find themselves struggling with the Church Fathers is that these are not their Fathers at all; their Fathers are Valentinus, Basilides, Cerinthus, Mani, Simon Magus, and Marcion of Sinope.

70 thoughts on “Calvinism is a Gnostic sect”

  1. May I suggest you do everyone a favor and link to where we discussed this? I think the convo in its totality will shed quite a lot of light on the topic, more than you've let on here.

  2. Interesting thoughts, David. Even when I was a Calvinist I really had a hard time appreciating St Augustine. When I read through City of God I was pulling my hair out at St Augustine's embarrassment of the human body. Now as a good Catholic, he had to affirm ultimately that the body is good, but one gets the impression he did not want to!

    It took Peter Brown's magisterial biography of St Augustine to make me (sort of) like him again.

  3. Rho:

    Maybe you can help me track down the link to it. I intended to put a link to the discussion in this post, but I lost the one I had saved because of a computer switch. Unfortunately, I can't remember which post's comment thread it was on (or even if it was on your blog or mine). If you can find it, let me know and I'll put it here.

  4. Ah, well that's totally understandable. I can only guess how much I rely on bookmarks and cookies, but I think it's probably an awful lot. And we've had a lot of convos spanning many posts, so no prob.

    I found it.

    My response is basically that you're committing a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Alot of EOC doctrines resemble Mormonism; that doesn't mean they're related. Looking at it the other way, all the ancient heretics held to doctrines that EOC would accept as well – that's what makes heretics so dangerous. They creep in, sound the same in almost everything, but secretly introduce destructive heresies, subtly, drawing away disciples after them. So this point of yours in principle proves too much. Otherwise stated, it proves nothing.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  5. Rho:

    I added the link to the main post itself.

    In response to your statements in your comment:

    I think you're missing the point of the post. It's not that there are some vague, stretched similarities, as when Protestants try to compare Pelagianism and Orthodox soteriology. It's that there is an actual historical link.

    Simon Magus (the first Gnostic) —-> Basilides, Valentinus, etc. (the 2nd century enemies of the Apostles' heirs [Apostolic Fathers]) —–> Mani (the founder of the Manichaean sect of which Augustine was a member) —–> Augustine (the father of Western Christendom) —–> Calvin (the founder of Calvinism, picking up where Augustine left off).

    To draw on Augustine's ideas is to draw on Manicheism, which is to draw on Gnosticism. Going even further back, one could say that Calvinism (insofar as it is Gnostic) is also the offspring of Platonism, as it was Platonic philosophy from which the Gnostics derived many of their distinctive doctrines, such as hatred for the created world (utterly depraved, you might say). One could reasonably assert that Calvinism is a Christian-pagan hybrid philosophy, drawing deeply as it does from the wells of pagan philosophy.

    Also, I'd like to know what “ancient heresies” you accuse the Orthodox Church of holding to. Please name the heresies and, as I have done with Gnosticism's influence on Calvinism, explain the time and place where they “crept in” and how they were able to take hold in the whole Church.

  6. Not all Augustine's ideas were Manichaean.
    You forgot the more than 1100 year gap in between Aug and Calvin.
    And I couldn't care less which Big Name espoused which theology. I'm interested in what the Bible teaches.

    Arius believed that the Father was God. EOC believes the Father is God. Ergo, by your logic, EOC must draw from Arianism.
    Gnosticism believed in the eternality of the spiritual. EOC believes in the eternality of the spiritual. Ergo, by your logic, EOC must draw from Gnosticism.

  7. Not all Augustine's ideas were Manichaean.

    Correct. I didn't claim that all of them were; the ideas that are “distinctively” his though, that is, those ideas of his which differ from those of the other Church Fathers, do tend to be. It's natural. In the absence of information to the contrary we, as humans, fall back on our previous assumptions. The problem is that Augustine's previous assumptions were Gnostic ones.

    You forgot the more than 1100 year gap in between Aug and Calvin.

    There's also a nearly 200 year gap between Mani and Augustine. I'm talking about a history of ideas, not of individuals. Augustine drew on Mani's ideas just as Calvin drew on Augustine's ideas (almost exclusively from amongst the Church Fathers) — you yourself tacitly admitted such when you asked if Augustinian theology was Gnostic after I asserted that Calvinism is Gnostic. We both know that John Calvin got most of his ideas from Augustine, or are you changing your position now?

    I'm interested in what the Bible teaches.

    As am I. The problem, though, is so were the Marcionites, the Arians, and the Nestorians. The key here is correct interpretation of the Scriptures. My interpretation has been handed down in an unbroken line from the Apostles; yours has been handed down somewhat fragmented from the Gnostics, the enemies of the Apostles' heirs.

    If you happened to the read Bible all by yourself without any previous influence from any other interpretations (which is impossible) and just so happened to reach the exact same conclusions as Calvin did, then we might be onto something. But you and I both know this isn't the case, so your point here is meaningless and circular.

    Arius believed that the Father was God. EOC believes the Father is God. Ergo, by your logic, EOC must draw from Arianism.
    Gnosticism believed in the eternality of the spiritual. EOC believes in the eternality of the spiritual. Ergo, by your logic, EOC must draw from Gnosticism.

    Again, you're missing the point. I'm not talking about vague similarities. I'm talking about historical associations. Did Orthodoxy derive its belief in God as Father from the Arians? No — actually, the Arians derived it from the Orthodox. Did the Orthodox derive their idea of the eternity of the spiritual from the Gnostics? No — actually, the Gnostics derived it from the Orthodox.

    On the other hand, it is clear historically that Calvinists derive their ideas from Augustine, who in turn derived his from the Gnostics. To use a line you often repeat to me: it's your rule of faith, embrace it. I'm proud of mine (Orthodox) and where it comes from (the Apostles); be proud of yours (Calvinism) and where it comes from (the Gnostics).

  8. Jacob:

    I'll have to check out Peter Brown's book. To be honest, I have my issues with conjuring any kind of respect for Augustine. The best I can manage for him is to say that he did the best with what he had. But I can't lie: the confidence with which he injected Platonism and Gnosticism into his supposedly “Orthodox” Christianity bothers me. Maybe Mr. Brown's book will change my opinion about Augustine the man, aside from his disgusting opinions (babies go to hell? come on…).

    Speaking of which, I recently came across a very interesting essay online (which I also lost the link to) which compared St. Basil's and St. Augustine's opinions about the eternal fate of unbaptized infants; these two great theologians respective opinions on the matter reveal a lot about the differences between Eastern and Western Christianity.

  9. “Blessed Augustine of Hippo, the father of Western Christendom, introduced many
    Gnostic concepts into his writings which later became key elements of Western
    Christian belief.”

    Why then do you still call this jackass 'blessed'? Any church that venerates Augustine as a saint or blessed is a synagogue of Satan.

  10. The more obvious link between Augustine and the Gnostics is as follows as I commented on TF's blog:

    In Gnosticism the Father, Christ and Holy Spirit constitute a God higher than YHWH and understood to be morally superior. In order to demonstrate that YHWH is evil they used the most radically unjust interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis, namely the Calvinist interpretation. In their system, the good Father sends Jesus to die an pay the ransom to the bloodthirsty YHWH thus appeasing him. In Augustinianism the Father becomes YHWH and all the same unjust actions remain as YHWH's actions. Basically, Augustine merely removed the Gnostic distinction between YHWH and the Father but kept their view of YHWH as an unjust being.

    It can be trivially shown that this is the case by comparing Tertullian and Augustine on the parable of the utmost farthing. According to Tertullian the enemy is the Devil. According to Augustine the enemy is the Father. We find then, very simply, that Augustine's doctrine is Gnosticism with the distinction between the Father and YHWH removed. One could also interpret it as Tertullianic orthodoxy with the distinction between God and the Devil removed, but since Augustine did spend his early years as a Manichean that seems less likely to be an accurate description of how his abhorrent system actually arose.

  11. In reality Gnosticism was about maintaining an accurate distinction between Good and Evil. Augustine is about the opposite, combining them into one. He is an extreme reaction to Gnosticism. Because Gnosticism says there must be two Gods, one Good and one Evil, Augustine says that there must be one who is both Good and Evil. In this he departs drastically from orthodoxy which although avoiding polytheism nevertheless maintained a clear distinction between Good and Evil by keeping a clear distinction between the Father who is the fountain of all good and the Devil as the fountain of all Evil. Essentially, because Augustine had been a Manichean Dualist for so long, when he became a Catholic he tried to become too monotheistic, and he erased the Devil absorbing the Devil into God as a sort of alter ego, or as in reality being God's only true ego and making the Good in God only a facade. Gnosticism itself is beautiful in comparison to any Augustinian framework. At least Good and Evil are not indestinquishable there.

  12. Welcome Beowulf!! LOL

    I was reading some old posts at Energetic Procession and saw some of your inane rants. You're the Pelagian, right? We call Augustine blessed because the Church calls him blessed. As one suspected from reading your posts at Perry's blog, are you a member of a church?

    David,
    I don't much like Augustine anymore. I respect him when warranted, but that's it. I've currently come across several arguments that utterly devastate Western theology, and to make sure I am not simply “misrepresenting Augustine,” I figured it wise to be familiar with some of the best works on St Augustine.

    Rho,
    St John Damascus also thought his theology biblical. Okay, if I ask you why your theology is more correct than Damascene's, you will likely say because you are following the Bible, right?? Okay, for argument's sake, let's say that Damascene said the same thing–that he, too, is following the Bible. Who's correct now? Who arbitrates this discussion? Remember, you can't say “the bible” because that's the issue under discussion.

    And I apologize for any misrepresentations. You say that a lot when we discuss these issues. I felt it easier to just apologize in advance.

  13. Hi Jacob,

    Well, I try to only say it when it's true. Anyway…

    Let's look at this from a different angle. Pope Benedict XVI thinks his theology is fully supported by the Fathers and Sacred Tradition. Okay, if I ask you why your theology is more in line with the Fathers than his, you will likely say because you are following the Fathers, right?? Okay, for argument's sake, let's say that Benedict said the same thing–that he, too, is following the Fathers. Who's correct now? Who arbitrates this discussion? Remember, you can't say “the Fathers” because that's the issue under discussion.

    Let's look at this from another different angle. Old Calendarists think their theology is fully supported by the Fathers and Sacred Tradition. Okay, if I ask you why your theology is more in line with the Fathers than theirs, you will likely say because you are following the Fathers, right?? Okay, for argument's sake, let's say that they said the same thing–that they, too, are following the Fathers. Who's correct now? Who arbitrates this discussion? Remember, you can't say “the Fathers” because that's the issue under discussion.

    This is precisely the kind of special pleading that makes me hold Sola Ecclesia as a position in such contempt.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  14. That's fair enough, I suppose. You didn't answer my question, though.

    First, the Old Calendars. I'm undecided on the issue. I think the OCists are correct, actually–but that's beside the point.

    As to your question. I followed your link–I was looking for specific works of Bendict, instead I found some bizarre charts (just a note: OCA and Goarch do not represent different churches, merely jurisdictions; you might want to correct that in the future).

    First of all, I would point to Catholic theologians at Councils who rejected later Papal claims.

    Secondly, I would point to the coronation ceremonies of popes where they anathematized Pope Honorius. All I am doing here is quoting independent sources (actually, sources from “the other side”) who reject Rome's later official teachings.

    Thirdly, I would note that the nature of authority is different in Orthodoxy than in Rome. Rome admits that she departed from the ancient Church on key matters such as Eucharistic practice (see Pelikan IV). Given that, and the case of Pope Honorius, Rome's authoritarian position is destroyed.

    Whereas if you point to contrary cases in Orthodoxy, given that Orthodoxy doesn't make papal infallible statements, Orthodoxy can withstand such a blow.

    Now, answer my question.

  15. “We call Augustine blessed because the Church calls him blessed.”

    They are in grave error clearly.

    “As one suspected from reading your posts at Perry's blog, are you a member of a church?”

    Of course. But we don't venerate saints so we don't end up with this problem of beatifying the devil's righthand man.

    As I recall the standard argument over on Energetic Procession was that Augustine wasn't a heretic but merely held some heretical views, That sounds more like Nestorius to me, but nobody was so charitable with him. He merely said that 'Mother of Christ' was more fitting than 'Mother of God' and he was showed no mercy. But Augustine says God loves to send people to hell on a dice roll, even babies, and he gets a pass. Damnable cowardice on the part of ecclesiastics. They'll take Augustine's side in hell for it.

  16. Yeah, and it's arguments like that that no one took you seriously at EP. Augustine's “bad views” weren't yet hammered out. As much as we revolt against “babies going to hell,” and it is revolting, it simply wasn't a heretical view at the time (or ever? I don't know).

    Nestorius, on the other hand, openly defied the church.

  17. Jacob:

    Right on the money with that last statement. The difference between Augustine and Nestorius is submission. Augustine, when he was corrected (unfortunate that he wasn't corrected on everything) duly submitted himself to the mind of the Church and changed his views. Nestorius refused to do so even in the face of an Ecumenical Council.

  18. Nestorius was right just like Augustine was wrong. As God Jesus has no mother, even though he was God in the womb, as Hebrews 7:3 “Without father, without mother,” for as concerns his manhood he is without father, and as concerns his Godhood he is without mother. You cannot explain what Hebrews 7:3 means by “Without father, without mother,” because your false doctrine prevents you from accepting it. Your church has a history of getting things so very wrong and condemning the innocent and correct while worshiping the ministers of Satan.

    “Nestorius, on the other hand, openly defied the church.”

    A church of such character as one that condemns Nestorius for being right and worships Augustine for being wrong, is openly defied by God Himself, and must be openly defied by all true Christians. Let the pansies who do not truly love Christ but only the praise of men cowtow to it.

  19. Jacob:

    I think the OCists are correct, actually–but that's beside the point.

    I'd say right and wrong. Here's why I agree with them but won't join them: I agree with them that ecumenism, in the form it has taken, is a serious threat to the Church and needs to be addressed. I think it improper, however, to address it through schism, which is to refuse to address it in any meaningful sense. It's significant that most of the OC churches had to be supplied by ROCOR with Bishops, as none of the Bishops within their respective homelands were willing to break with the Church over the issue, even if they saw it as an important one (which was often). I also think that making the calendar itself, rather than ecumenism in general, a central issue is a mistake. They, as well as many Orthodox, seem to be under the impression that the New Julian Calendar is the Gregorian calendar — it's not. The New Julian is the product of an early 20th century Serbian Orthodox astronomer. It just so happens that the New Julian and the Gregorian are very similar, because both are more accurate to actual astronomical events than the Old Julian. I pray that the schism will be healed soon, and that the old calendrists will learn a lesson in humility and how to properly address issues within the Church, and the Orthodox will learn a thing or two about the dangers of ecumenism.

  20. Beowulf,

    Why do you comment on Orthodox blogs? Do you honestly expect to win people over? I mean, if reading the best of Protestantism, Catholicism, and even a few Baptist (why not?) won't sway me, and I have nothing on Companik, Dyer, or Perry, do you think a Nestorian Pelagian blogger will win the day?

  21. I agree, David. I follow and really like a few OC teachers on the radio and in print, but I really don't know that much about the issue–and I leave it at that for the moment. I'll address it one day after I've dealt with Calvinist hermeneutics, Filioque, and apostolic succession.

  22. Actually, I retract one thing. I agree with Rho. Let's go to the Bible. Then I find the bible points to “tradition.” Since I can't find a verse that proves said tradition is ultimately inscripturated, I am led back to Tradition.

  23. Jacob:

    With that I can agree. Scripture and Tradition work side by side (to be more accurate, Scripture is part of Tradition and Tradition part of Scripture). Scripture requires an interpretation (that is, Tradition) and Tradition requires a writing to reference (that is, Scripture). The important point is finding the right interpretation now that we've got the right Scripture. And, in the debate between Calvinists and Orthodox, I think that history speaks for itself as to the origins of each. As it does in the case of many of the disagreements between Roman Catholics and Orthodox. I think Rhology misses this point. Theology is, in many ways, historical research.

  24. Can you at least explain to me what Hebrews 7:3 “Without father, without mother,” means from a non-Nestorian position? Or admit that a great injustice was done to a good man, because he was right. It looks to me (based on what you say about Augustine) that you can admit that your church is wrong and yet pretend they are right at once. So why not do it on Nestorius? Its even more clear-cut. Only his doctrine can explain Hebrews 7:3. The Theotokites might as well deny the inspiration of Hebrews along with Martin Luther!!!

  25. I thought I did answer it. Part of the difficulty is that I don't view the Bible as a Platonic deposit of doctrine (cf Charles Hodge's infamous comment).

    That means our standards of interpretation are going to be different. I refer to Calvinist James KA Smith on this one.

    Basically you are operating under the assumption that “biblical truth” is out there in Plato's land of ideals, and if we employ (presumably the historical-grammatical method) the right interpretation, we will arrive at biblical truth. I, with most of pre-modern church, reject that view (and before you ask, yes I think the bible is infallible–and for what it's worth, inerrant; though using inerrantist is moving the debate on modernist philosophy's terms, so I don't like the term).

  26. Rho,
    Here's another way of looking at your question. In volume 1 of *The Christian Tradition,* Jaroslav Pelikan, who was a Lutheran when he wrote it, said the apostolic response to the Gnostic hermeneutics was threefold: an apostolic canon (which was rarely, if ever, Protestant), an apostolic creed, and apostolic succession.

    Of course, that doesn't disprove Catholicism. One thing at a time. When I began looking at Orthodoxy, I realized I needed to state my faith in such a way that distances me from Rome. That's not necessary here.

    Now, why is Rome wrong? I found it's easier to discuss these issues when you focus the debate around more crucial issues: Triadology, Christology, and the doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity. That is why Rome is wrong.

  27. Um…I hold to the medieval fourfold method (not to mention the stunt St Paul pulls in Galatians 4).

    And in any case, I don't play “link-tag.” When I participated on Puritanboard.com, that was one of my own personal rules. If a person can't summarize their/someone else's thought, it's not worth it.

    And I really don't worry about hermeneutical concerns. If the Western doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity is false (and Calvin held to it), then Western theology pre 9th century AD is false. End of discussion.

  28. And I really don't worry about hermeneutical concerns.

    Well, that pretty much sums up the Sola Ecclesia approach.
    But I figure if God said it, it's more important than if men said it, even if it's a whole bunch of men, even if it's a whole bunch of men who claim they're guided by the Holy Spirit. If God said differently, I'm going that way. So yes, I already knew this isn't a big concern to you, what God said.
    Anyway, if you don't want to read my post, fine. I'll sum it up – grammatico-historical method. It's the same method you're using to read DavidW's post and my comments the same method you expect me to use in reading your own comments. If you don't think the GHM can encompass allegory when the context calls for it, I'd encourage you to do some more reading and thinking about it, b/c that's 100% wrong.

  29. Isn't it a little disingenuous, BTW, to ask me a (canard) question that is about precisely that – hermeneutical concerns – then refuse to read my answer even though it was written for precisely that question, TELL me you didn't read it, and then claim such questions don't interest you, even though you were the one who asked it?

  30. Rho said:
    “Gnosticism believed in the eternality of the spiritual. EOC believes in the eternality of the spiritual. Ergo, by your logic, EOC must draw from Gnosticism.”

    How do you know EOC believes this? I am only asking because I happen to actually know the answer to it. You should stop speculating what you think EOC believes in. It was the christian west that followed plato through Augustine in the belief of the “eternalality” of the soul. The east didn't take that route. Origen took it further than most, but we didn't follow his lead in that either.

    ICXC NIKA

  31. Following what Jnorm said,
    We sometimes get the impression you really don't know what's going on. One is the fact you keep refuting what you “think” Orthodoxy believes. Another is that a lot of your facts are simply wrong (like that link you sent me with all the different churches).

    Any fair Calvinist scholar on Orthodoxy (like Robert Letham or Dan Mclendennin) would rebut you on that.

  32. Sorry for the triple posting.

    Rho,
    It's not that I don't want to deal with “hermeneutics,” it's just ultimately I know it dead-ends. If you have this great hermeneutics, but end up with a pantheistic doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity (to which the Reformed tradition holds, see Bavinck and Calvin), who cares if you have a good historical grammatical method?

    If you Christology stumbles on the wills and energies of Christ, and ultimately you come down to monotheletism and monoenergism, both condemned by the Church, but you managed to have a good HC method, it seems we missed something.

    And later on in this conversation I would love to discuss the medieval fourfold exegesis (being the normative method of the Church; you follow Augustine, right? He, too, in his better moments, held to this method).

  33. Jacob,

    That's not what I said. You complain that I correct you for strawmen and then you come up with something like this.

    And as for EOC and the eternality of the spiritual,
    1) I didn't say “soul”, did I? Just quote me. (Again, another correction.)
    2) Stop whining, seriously. You believe that God is spirit, and that He is eternal. Thus, the spiritual is eternal.
    If you think there is some equivocation of terms going on there, I'll just laugh and say “did you read DavidW's post?”

    If you have this great hermeneutics, but end up with a pantheistic doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity (to which the Reformed tradition holds, see Bavinck and Calvin), who cares if you have a good historical grammatical method?

    1) I don't grant that at all, but I don't know enough about it. I do know that the Reformed faith is FAR from pantheistic, so you're just throwing out random stuff now.
    2) Here you show your massive preference for human reason over divine revelation. W/o a good hermeneutic for understanding what God has said, you and I know next to nothing about God, and whether He is “absolutely simplistic” or whatever is included in what we don't know. I say listen to what God has said and go from there. You don't go in that order, and it's one reason why you're EO.

    you follow Augustine, right?

    Not particularly closely, no, and I haven't said anything that would indicate that with any specificity.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  34. Rhology:

    And the point this article misses all along is that none of these Fathers of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (that is, the Orthodox Church) believed that Scripture could ever be interpreted outside of the Church, and its Apostolic Succession (that is, both the physical link with the Apostles and the maintaining of the Faith of the Apostles [ie Holy Tradition]). Check out what these same Fathers had to say about heretics (like the Gnostics, Marcionites, and Arians [and, of course, their modern counterparts, like Calvinists]) and the heretics' ways of interpreting Scripture. All of them assert that the heretics are incapable of correctly interpreting Scripture. And why? Because they stand outside of the Church.

    You claim that your method of interpreting Scripture is thus:

    The GHM employs the grammar, vocabulary, and context of the author, the historical context, the context of the passage in question, the context of the book, and the context of the rest of the Bible to determine authorial intent of the passage in question. That's the GHM in a nutshell. What the author intended is the correct interpretation.

    Perhaps you should try applying those principles to your proof-texting of the Fathers. Remember that all of these men you quote held a very different view of the Church, the Scriptures, and even God than do you. Allow the author to speak for himself, as you claim to do.

  35. All of them assert that the heretics are incapable of correctly interpreting Scripture. And why? Because they stand outside of the Church.

    Which assumes the church before the Scr. And it assumes the church is right instead of the heretics.
    But how could one know whether the church is RIGHT vs the heretics if one can't test each's claims by another standard? It's just more circularity.

    Perhaps you should try applying those principles to your proof-texting of the Fathers.

    Nobody's perfect, of course, but sorry, they're just not a monolith like you claim.

  36. Which assumes the church before the Scr.

    Yes, after all, the Church did give us the Scripture. Eusebius of Caesarea records some interesting facts in this regard. One story that stood out to me was of a certain Bishop who found out that a church in his area was using a Gospel supposedly written by St. Peter. He read it and found that it disagreed with the Faith of the Church, and so he had it discarded and banned it. This is largely way the canon of Scripture was determined in by the Church Fathers — is it Orthodox? And it just so happens (not coincidentally, I think) that the books which they chose based on this criteria really are, as modern historians confirm, the oldest Christian writings, going right back to the time of the Apostles. The Faith of the Church determined the Scripture. What does Christ give us right before his Ascension, as recorded in the Gospels? Not a book; a Church. What does St. Paul refer to as “the body of Christ”? Not a book; the Church. And again, what does St. Paul call “the ground and pillar of truth”? Not a book; the Church.

    And it assumes the church is right instead of the heretics.
    But how could one know whether the church is RIGHT vs the heretics if one can't test each's claims by another standard? It's just more circularity.

    Well, I guess you could say it sure is. That's what it comes down to though. Read the early Church Fathers (especially Tertullian on this matter, but also Ss. Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria): the Church stands self-proven. Christ promised to guide the Apostolic Church; the Apostolic Church stands self-evident as correct. It's as simple as that for them. Tertullian even goes so far as to say that those within the Church shouldn't even bother to argue or debate with those outside; he says we should simply point to the Church which stands self-evident as the One True Church and, if the heretics continue to refuse to join it, they stand self-condemned.

    Here's Irenaeus on the same matter:
    Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank,
    lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?

  37. To restate one last time: For the Fathers (as for the Orthodox today), the Church is right because it's the Church. Circular? Sure, why not? It comes down to faith in Christ's promise to always be with the Church, to never allow the devil to prevail against it, and to send the Holy Spirit to guide it into all truth.

    Now I'm sure you'll say that I'm assuming the Orthodox Church is that Church which Christ, the Apostles, and the Fathers referred to. But I'll head that off now and say, no, it's not an assumption. Find me any other Church which has both the historical connection to the Apostles AND maintains their Faith. There isn't one. The Church stands self-evident against all heresies, as the Fathers said, and those who refuse it refuse Christ, just as the Fathers said.

    Nobody's perfect, of course, but sorry, they're just not a monolith like you claim.

    And for the umpteenth time I ask you kindly to show me a single Father who disagreed concerning essential matters of Faith. Baptismal regeneration? Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? The visible unity of the Church? Anything, really. Better yet, show me one that agrees with you on any of these matters. That would be interesting. I can show you some early Christians who agreed with you on many things, the Gnostics, but I doubt that's who you want in your court. Show me a single Father of the Church who believed as you do.

    I suggest you continue reading the writings of the Fathers, and desist from making this ridiculous claim without having actually researched it (meaning, read the Fathers and thoroughly acquainted yourself with them and their ways of writing and thinking).

  38. The Faith of the Church determined the Scripture.

    How silly of me to have thought all this time that the boundaries of God's self-revelation determined it!

    What does Christ give us right before his Ascension, as recorded in the Gospels? Not a book; a Church.

    Which you wouldn't know if the book didn't record it.

    What does St. Paul refer to as “the body of Christ”? Not a book; the Church.

    What does St. Paul refer to as “the word of God”? Not the Church; a book.
    (This isn't meant as an ahHA! FOR my position; it's meant to show how meritless your point is.)

    And again, what does St. Paul call “the ground and pillar of truth”? Not a book; the Church.

    And a ground and pillar hold sthg else up.

    Circular? Sure, why not?

    B/c I don't buy it and I'm asking you to prove your case. That's why.

    Find me any other Church which has both the historical connection to the Apostles AND maintains their Faith.

    Again you beg the question.

    And for the umpteenth time I ask you kindly to show me a single Father who disagreed concerning essential matters of Faith.

    Already done it. You don't want to listen, I can't help there.

  39. I think that if anything is circular, it's this discussion. So, I'll take Tertullian's advice here (not to mention St. Paul's very similar advice). You've been directed to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church — there it is. You choose (the Greek for that word being, after all, the root of the word “heresy”) to reject it. So I'll leave this at that.

    I'd really like to see, though, going back to my previous comments: Where can you find anyone in the early Church who agrees with you? Find me a Calvinist Church Father? (Augustine doesn't count). Find me one who believed in any of the five points of Calvinism (I can show you Gnostics who believed in all five, by the way). That's a big difference between you and I. You ask me what I believe and I can open up all of the earliest Christian writings and say “there it is.” You can't; you have to try to explain them away or just outright dismiss them. Apparently nobody understood the real message of the Apostles until Calvin. In fact, since you disagree with Calvin on many things, apparently no one understood the real message of the Apostles until you.

    I'm not sure how you don't realize how damning to your cause this all is. The very men who were appointed heirs by the Apostles disagree with you consistently, and yet you find yourself nodding in agreement when I mention the doctrines of the Gnostics. These heirs of the Apostles are the ones who assembled the sacred writings and preserved the Church and its Faith, often with their very blood. And yet you apparently have no qualms about consistently denigrating them and calling them all a bunch of liars, frauds, and charlatans. Of course, if they were liars, frauds, and charlatans, the Apostles too must have been such, or at least they were fools for having appointed these people as heirs. At that point, your Gnosticism comes full circle to its logical conclusion.

    There is the Church, founded by the Apostles and led by Christ through the Holy Spirit, and there is not the Church, that is, the heretics. The former stands self-evident as the Truth for anyone who submits to Christ; the latter stand self-condemned because of their rejection of Christ. This is what the Fathers said then; this is what the Orthodox say today.

  40. You choose (the Greek for that word being, after all, the root of the word “heresy”) to reject it.

    Yeah, gonna stick with Jesus' instructions in Mark 7, thanks.

    Where can you find anyone in the early Church who agrees with me?

    Jesus. Paul. Peter.

    I'm not sure how you don't realize how damning to your cause this all is.

    You're right, I don't at all. Since I ascribe no particular authority to “the Fathers”, I don't see why this would be a problem for my position at all. If you want to critique my position with an internal critique, you need to go to the Scr or attack the Scr's sufficiency. (Of course, you do that with your man-centered, rationalistic, prideful errantist positionings, so there you go.)

    In fact, since you disagree with Calvin on many things, apparently no one understood the real message of the Apostles until you.

    Doesn't follow at all.
    How, then, can one follow Jesus' instructions to test claims to divine truth?

    And yet you apparently have no qualms about consistently denigrating them and calling them all a bunch of liars, frauds, and charlatans.

    Like you've done with Augustine?
    Where have I done that? A direct quote will be fine.

  41. Okay,
    Here's my piece on Absolute Divine Simplicity. I realy think the entire Western theology dies on this hill.

    ADS makes revelation difficult.

    If ADS is true, then For, indeed, if the Persons are only relations internal to the essence, the revelation of God, if any, is a revelation either of the “essence” or of “analogous” created symbols; the “energies,” then, are either the “essence” of God or created signs, and there is no real distinction in God. If it is of the essence, and if believers are to participate in God, then believers are participating in the essence of God. Thus, believers are God’s essence—pantheism.

    On the other hand, if it is not a revelation of God’s essence, then it is only a revelation of analogous created symbols; more importantly, we participate and commune only with created symbols—never with Christ and the Trinity.

    If ADS is true, which Bavinck and Calvin think it true, then revelation is probably impossible.

  42. “If the Western doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity is false (and Calvin held to it), then Western theology pre 9th century AD is false. End of discussion.” (Jacob Grail-seeker)

    “But I figure if God said it, it's more important than if men said it, even if it's a whole bunch of men, even if it's a whole bunch of men who claim they're guided by the Holy Spirit.” (Rhology)

    So, then, Rhology, where did God declare the doctrine of Absolute Divine Simplicity?

    And Jacob, what does Divine Simplicity have to do with Augustine being a baby-hating god-hating heretic, exactly?

  43. St Augustine writes,

    *The Godhead,” he writes, “is absolutely simple essence, and therefore to be is then the same as to be wise.”*

    De Trinitate 7.1.2

    That leads Thomas Aquinas to say that God's will is the same as his essence (a fatal move).

  44. “(Of course, you do that with your man-centered,…” (Rhology)

    God so loved the world (mankind) that he sent his only-begotten son that whosoever (mankind) would believe on him should be saved. Jesus was raised on the cross to draw all men unto himself. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. The gospel is very man-centered. In trying to make it God-centered, the devil-worshiping Calvinists destroy it and turn it into devil-worship, the worship of a malevolent 'god' who only cares about himself and how much supposed 'glory' he can bring himself by sending people to hell on a dice-roll.

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