Friday, July 23, 2010

Thinking Out Loud: Calvinism, Regeneration, Justification, and Sanctification

I was asked a question some weeks ago by a former Assembly of God protestant friend who is now attending a Sovereign Grace Calvinistic Charismatic group. He seemed interested in Orthodoxy, but the main thing he wanted to know was "Does the Orthodox Church believe in imputed righteousness or infused Righteousness?"

As a former protestant myself I immediately knew what my friend was trying to get at. You see in some circles of protestantism, especially the Calvinistic and Reformed kind, the issue of imputed righteousness tends to be associated with the Gospel itself. And if you answer this question wrong then whatever else you have to say will go in one ear and out the other. So I simply told him to study the history of the issue and to read this book by the Anglican Alister Mcgrath:

Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification

If I am asked this question again in the future then I will intentionally change the focus to one of Regeneration, Justification, and Sanctification.


Because if the Calvinistic or Reformed protestant thinks about some of the inconsistencies of what surrounds their view, then maybe they will be less dogmatic as well as more willing to listen to what I have to say.

You see, Calvinists are trapped within a deterministic scheme. In following the Augustinian western tradition, they believe that free will was lost when Adam and Eve bit the fruit. And from that moment on they understand freedom in a more Plotinian, Manichean, and late Augustinian manor. This is why they often say "fallen people have a will…’s just only a will to choose according to their fallen natures!" In other words, they confuse person and nature.

Now what does this have to do with the topic of "Imputed Righteousness vs Infused Righteousness"?

Well in order to get to their system of "Imputation", first we must start here. You see, they really do believe in the idea of Infused Righteousness, a number of them just don't know it.

The non-Anglican Reformed depart from the idea of Baptismal Regeneration, and so when they talk about the "Regeneration that precedes faith", they are talking about something different than Augustine. When Saint Augustine talks about the grace that precedes faith he is talking about particular prevenient grace. This grace leads someone to the Regeneration found in Water Baptism.

The Reformed took what Augustin had to say about prevenient grace as the actual Regeneration itself. Also, Augustine saw Regeneration and Justification as pretty much the samething. The Reformed on the other hand make a sharp distinction between the two, just like they do with Justification and Sanctification.

You see, in order for the Reformed to believe in a doctrine of Imputed Righteousness, first they must believe in a doctrine of Infused Righteousness or Regeneration.

If a person must be Regenerated before they can even believe then they must believe in Infused Righteousness. If this is the case for the Reformed then what right do they have to call Infused Righteousness heretical?

The Calvinistic and Reformed system looks something like this:
Regeneration (grace understood as Infused Righteousness)
In the Calvinistic system a person needs a new heart and a transformed mind in order to have faith alone in Justification.

Justification (grace understood as Imputed Righteousness or a change of perception or favor that God has on the sinner)
In the Calvinistic system a person is filthy, wicked, and dirty on the inside but is covered by the Righteousness of Christ on the outside. A Calvinist is not allowed to talk about works or infused righteousness when talking about the category of Justification.

Sanctification (grace understood as Infused Righteousness)
In the Calvinistic system a person can only talk about works or the fruits of faith in the category of Sanctification.

As you can see, there is inconsistency in how they understand the word grace. This is what I will focus on the next time I am asked the question "Does the Orthodox Church believe in imputed righteousness or infused Righteousness?"

I will also talk to them about the issue of created vs uncreated grace as well.



Michael Gormley said...

Dear Jnorm,

Two Extremely Simple Questions
For Non-Catholics to Answer.

They are about as basic as you can get, and are both extremely important for your salvation. If they are so simple and are so basic, why then do non-Catholics refuse to answer them?

Why don't you be the first to answer them with the truth?

Question #1:

Every church on earth had a founder with a name. Please name the founder of the Catholic Church? No guesses please, or personal opinions just the facts.

Backup your answer with genuine historical documents and/or Bible verse(s).

Question #2:

After studying this page , please show me the Bible verse(s) which gave authority to anyone to found another church other than the one which Jesus Christ founded?
Here are a few hints to make it even easier for anyone to come up with the correct answers:

For Question #1:
Acts 8:1-3,
"And at that time, there was raised a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem.

And they were all dispersed through the countries of Judea, and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men took order for Stephen's funeral and made great mourning over him.

But Saul made havoc of the church, entering in from house to house: and dragging away men and women, committed them to prison."

So here we have Saul making havoc of the Church which Jesus Christ founded.

It is obvious that Saul knew almost nothing about who the founder of that Church really was, or else he would not have been persecuting it.

Acts 9:1-5,
"And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus. And suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him.

And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad."

So, Saul thought he was persecuting the Church that Jesus Christ founded, when in fact he was persecuting its founder.

Saul found out the hard way. Do you wish to find out the hard way also?

When you stand before Jesus Christ in judgment, do think He might ask you the same question that He asked Saul? "(substitute your name here) why persecutest thou me?"

I strongly suggest that you who persecute the Catholic Church had better find out who founded it,
that is if you value your salvation at all.

For Question #2:

Read these verses in your Bible:

Psalms 127:1, 1Corinthians 3:11, John 10:1-2, John 10:16, 1Peter 4:17, 2Peter 2:1, 1Corinthians 14:33, Luke 11:23, 2John 1:9, and Romans 10:15.

Now who will be the first non-Catholic to give me truthful answers to these two ever so simple and basic questions?

ψευδἸωάννης said...

Michael, you are aware that Antioch is a Petrine see, are you not?

あじ said...

Michael, this post is about Calvinism, so I think you're a little off-topic. Plus, I don't know any persons named "Orthodox," so…

Lvka said...

Every church on earth had a founder with a name.

Who founded Hinduism, then?

Please name the founder of the Catholic Church?

Please name the founder of the Orthodox Church.





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