Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Chrysostom Preaches Law & Gospel

'Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison. Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and that he would be condemned. Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor's favor. For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift. This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. "All have sinned," says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law. The sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them. A letter from the King came down from heaven. Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without exacting an account, he set all men free from the chains of their sins. All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift. But those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy the King's loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification.'

From 'Discourses Against Judaizing Christians' I:6-II:1.

9 comments:

Lvka said...

Men and women are alike in all things. Even in the things that set them apart.

A man has two eyes and two ears: one for similarities, and one for dissimilarities.

A whole man must be aware of both, otherwise confusion, chaos and mayhem ensue.

Your last two posts argue that men are women.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Take it up with John Chrysostom, Lucian.

Lvka said...

There's nothing to 'take up' with Chrysostom. Chrysostom speaks the truth. I'm just not sure that his version of justification by grace only through faith is the same as Luther's or Calvin's. If it were, he would not have spent his whole life in ascetic labor & suffering. Obviously he did not regard those as being on the same level as the Jewish or Judaizing tendencies he wrote against.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Well, Lutherans also know the imperative to mortify the flesh, my friend. There's not necessarily a contradiction between justification by faith alone and mortification; it is only when works a given a saving value that a problem occurs. It might be helpful, Lucian, to draw a distinction between justification and sanctification, as I think Chrysostom alludes to, although I know such a distinction is relatively unknown in Orthodoxy. It might therefore be helpful for you if I point out that this is a notional distinction, rather than an actual one, because of course justification and sanctification are part of the whole experience of the Christian life. But the distinction helps us to preserve the gracious nature of the Gospel, which Chrysostom here waxes so eloquently on. Btw, I'll be looking at the 'Orthodox Study Bible' in a couple of posts coming up, d.v.

Lvka said...

Good works are salvific, otherwise there would be no need for them (just like there's no need for space-shuttles either, salvation-wise). But God's forgiveness or justification rests only on His grace towards us, and on our faith or repentance towards Him. It's NOT that we don't *distinguish* between the two [ie, justification and sanctification]: but we don't *separate* them, as is the general tendency in Protestantism. They're both *integral* and *essential* parts of *salvation*. Neither one of them is uplifted by belittling the other. When either one of them is attacked, the other suffers. He who attacks either aspect, does a disservice to the other.

David Cochrane said...

Ty Pastor for this another gem from the Fathers.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

'Good works are salvific, otherwise there would be no need for them'

I would rather say good works are necessary but they are not salvific. They are necessary because God commands them and our neighbours' benefit thereby, but salvation is all of grace, therefore works are by definitione xcluded from salvation: 'When a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness. Romans 4:4-5)'

'God's forgiveness or justification rests only on His grace towards us, and on our faith or repentance towards Him. It's NOT that we don't *distinguish* between the two [ie, justification and sanctification]: but we don't *separate* them, as is the general tendency in Protestantism.'
Spoken like a Lutheran, Lucian. Maybe your avatar is rubbing off on you! :0) To distinguish but not to separate is the Lutheran way.

In regard to the category 'Protestantism', as I replied to your comment on the Pelikan post Lucian, it really is a category so general as to be virtually useless; there is, after all, no 'Protestant Church'. There is a Reformed Church, a Lutheran Church, and Anglican Church, et al (and variations/synods within these confessions), each with its own distinctive confessions of faith which reflect a basic creedal orthodoxy but still with 'dotrines that divide'. A study of Western history since the middle ages can enlighten as to the sources of these divisions.

Lvka said...

To distinguish but not to separate is the Lutheran way.


I'm glad to hear this. Distinction without separation has always been the Orthodox way. We distinguish but don't separate the Persons of the Holy Trinity; the two natures, wills and energies of Christ; the earthly and heavenly components of Holy Communion; clergy from laity; priests from parishioners; the presiding bishop from the council of presbyters; the patriarch from the synod of local bishops; God's essence from His divine energies; justification from sanctification; the role of grace, faith, and good works in salvation; the active and willing participation of both man and God in salvation; etc.

Lvka said...

good works are necessary but they are not salvific


I said that they are salvific, not that God's innitial forgiveness is based on them.
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but salvation is all of grace, therefore works are by definition excluded from salvation


Good deeds themselves are the fruits of grace, just like that innitial forgiveness. (John 15:4-5; Philippians 2:13 & 4:13; Galatians 5:6).
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our neighbours benefit thereby


WE ALSO benefit thereby...

By doing good works, goodness grows in us, saving our souls from evil, the enemy and opposite of goodness:

If we do charity, we are freed from greed; if we do acts of kindness, we are freed from unkindness; if we love, we are freed from hatred and egoism; if we forgive, we are freed from grudge, bitterness and resentment; etc.