Romans 8:29-30 and foreknowledge

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by Lowly Layman, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Hi all. I'm trying to wrap my head around this passage. It seems to be strong evidence to support eternal security but my question is about the word "foreknew". What is the subject of this foreknowledge? Is it the acceptance of Christ by the saved believer? The number of the elect? Help is appreciated. Thanks and God bless!
     
  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It is both eternal security and a contextual doubt. Those who are saved will have been known to do so from eternity, but none of us can be claimed to be in the elect until after we had finished the course of our lives. Many of those who claimed with assurance to be the elect, introduced a lot of heresies and disturbed the church with schisms.

    As to the exegesis of the word, Paul tells us that those whom God foreknew, he predestined. The subject of foreknowledge then are directly the elect themselves. By knowing them and their salvific qualities (faith) he will have known that they will receive eternal life.
     
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  3. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Lowly Layman,

    I thought you might like this article on the passage in question from an Orthodox source:

    St. Paul now steps back to look at the process of God’s calling and saving work through the ages. Those whom God “foreknew” (from the Greek proginosko, meaning to know in advance) have been “predestined” (from the Greek proorizo, to determine or decide in advance) to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). These Christians, predestined to be conformed to Christ’s image, are justified and ultimately glorified (8:30).

    This passage is extremely controversial in non-Orthodox Christianity (particularly Protestantism). Some Christians, particularly those in the traditions established by the early Protestant Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin – who themselves followed an unfortunate misinterpretation of St. Paul’s teaching by Augustine - understand this passage to mean that God chooses a specific number of certain individuals to be saved, and directly acts on each chosen individual to change his or her will from rebellion against Him to worship of Him. According to this understanding of predestination, the rest of humanity is not specially chosen and changed by God, and therefore remains in rebellion and is condemned.

    This, however, is not the belief of the Orthodox Church. The Church has consistently taught that the biblical teachings about predestination refer to Christians as a group. We therefore know St. Paul is teaching that God foreknew which individuals would become Christians, and predestined that all Christians would have the glory of being conformed to the image of Christ. The difference between the Orthodox understanding of predestination and the Reformed Protestant understanding is that Orthodox Christians know that, while God predestined Christians as a group to salvation, He did not predestine any specific individuals. Each individual has both the right and ability to choose whether or not to become a Christian, and therefore can choose to accept or reject the glory to which the group of Christians is predestined.

    Theodoret, a fifth century bishop of Cyr in Syria, explains Romans 8:29-30:

    Those whose intention God foreknew he predestined from the beginning. Those who are predestined, he called, and those who were called, he justified by baptism. Those who were justified, he glorified, calling them children…Let no one say that God’s foreknowledge was the unilateral cause of all things. For it was not foreknowledge which justified people, but God knew what would happen to them, because he is God.

    St. Cyril of Alexandria similarly teaches,

    (God) calls everyone to himself, and no one is lacking in the grace of his calling, for when he says everyone he excludes nobody. But those whom he long ago foresaw would come into being he predestined to participate in the future blessings and called them to receive justification by faith in him and not to sin again
     
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  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Servos where in your quotes are the Fathers seen to teach "corporate predestination"? From your quotes and the others I've seen (Prosper of Aquitane, Hilary of Poitiers, Basil), the Fathers teach the view of Latin Christianity, where our foreknowledge and election are individual.
     
  5. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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  6. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    "Foreknew" in that passage means to "forelove" or to "love beforehand." Those whom God loved from the beginning of time, He predestined unto salvation. All the elect are called according to His purpose or His pleasure.

    The object of God's foreknowledge are His elect, not their foreseen faith. They have faith because they were predestined, not the other way around.
     
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  7. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I ask this question in all sincerity. Why cannot Calvinists accept that God's sovereignty gives God the power to allow free will? They assume that since God is sovereign, it automatically follows that He is compelled to micro-mange the universe. Our all-powerful God is certainly capable (and within his rights) to allow people to exercise some degree of free will; he did not create automatons. The Calvinist system (which, though based to some extent on Augustine's writings) was conceived 1500 years after the founding of Christ's Church. How did a French priest come along at that period of time and figure out what everyone else for the proceeding one and a half millenia had gotten wrong?

    That is what went wrong with the Reformation. Instead of simply removing the innovations and errors that had arisen in the Roman Church, the reformers reinvented Christianity according to their own reason. Many of the core beliefs of the reformers cannot be found in any of the ancient Churches, and while everyone has the right to interpret the scriptures for themselves, to discard the writings of those that came before them (such as the Church fathers), leads to the multiplication of sects that have plagued the west since the 1500's.

    Sola Scriptura implies that each man can read and interpret the Bible for himself; unfortunately, as soon as a Luther, or a Calvin comes along, his interpretation is the correct one, and everyone else is wrong. There was no more religious freedom in Geneva or Cromwell's Commonwealth than there was in Rome. But I digress.
     
  8. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    This is not a matter of assumptions or tastes but a matter of biblical teaching. Man's will is enslaved by sin. It is self-determined, therefore it is not robotic, but it invariably choses sin. Unless God intervenes, no man will ever choose Him.

    While Scripture alone is the word of God and the rule of faith in the Church, it's ridiculous that people keep parroting the idea that Reformed theology came out of nowhere in the 16th century. Roman Catholic apologists love to say that and it's sad that many Protestants today buy into that lie. Reformed theology comes from the Bible, which is what is really important and the decisive matter, but the concepts systematised by Reformers such as Calvin, Beza or Turretin, for instance, were not absent from the Church in previous centuries.


    TOTAL DEPRAVITY

    Barnabas, associate of Paul (A.D. 70): “Learn: before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak.”

    Ignatius (A.D. 110): “They that are carnal [unbelievers] cannot do the things that are spiritual…Nor can the unbelievers do the things of belief.”

    Justin Martyr (A.D. 150): “Mankind by Adam fell under death, and the deception of the serpent; we are born sinners…No good thing dwells in us…For neither by nature, nor by human understanding is it possible for me to acquire the knowledge of things so great and so divine, but by the energy of the Divine Spirit…Of ourselves it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God…He has convicted us of the impossibility of our nature to obtain life…Free will has destroyed us; we who were free are become slaves and for our sin are sold…Being pressed down by our sins, we cannot move upward toward God; we are like birds who have wings, but are unable to fly.”

    Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 190): “The soul cannot rise nor fly, nor be lifted up above the things that are on high, without special grace.”

    Origen: “Our free will…or human nature is not sufficient to seek God in any manner.”

    Eusebius (A.D. 330): “The liberty of our will in choosing things that are good is destroyed.”

    Augustine (A.D. 370): “If, therefore, they are servants of sin (2 Cor. 3:17), why do they boast of free will?…O, man! Learn from the precept what you ought to do; learn from correction, that it is your own fault you have not the power…Let human effort, which perished by Adam, here be silent, and let the grace of God reign by Jesus Christ…What God promises, we ourselves do not through free will of human nature, but He Himself does by grace within us…Men labor to find in our own will something that is our own, and not God’s; how can they find it, I know not.”

    Verses teaching total depravity: Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 5:12,19; Psalm 143:2; Romans 11:32; Romans 3:23; 2 Chronicles 6:36; Isaiah 53:6; Micah 7:2-4; Romans 3:9-12; 1 John 1:8,10; Mark 10:18/Luke 18:19; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Jeremiah 2:29; Mark 7:21-23Psalm 5:9; Jeremiah 17:9; Titus 1:15-16; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Romans 1:28-31; Ephesians 4:17-18; Jeremiah 10:7-8,14; Matthew 15:19; Genesis 6:5 & 8:21; Proverbs 10:20; Proverbs 28:26; Deuteronomy 29:2-4; Psalm 10:4, 36:1-2, 58:4-5, 94:11; Proverbs 10:20; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26; Matthew 13:14; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 4:17-18, 23; John 8:34; 2 Peter 2:19; Titus 3:3; Galatians 4:8-9; Romans 6:6,16,17,19,20; Romans 7:14; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; Romans 1:24-27; Ephesians 2:3; Proverbs 21:10; John 3:19; John 8:44; Genesis 3:16; Psalm 4:2, 52:3-4 140:8; Proverbs 10:23; 2 Timothy 3:2-4; 2 Peter 2:13; Titus 1:15-16; Romans 7:18; Isaiah 1:5-6; Jeremiah 13:23; 1 Samuel 24:13; Matthew 7:18; Matthew 12:34-35; Romans 8:7; Genesis 6:5 & 8:21;Job 14:4; Matthew 12:34; John 15:5; Romans 14:23; Philippians 1:11; 1 John 5:18-19; Psalm 51:5; Genesis 8:21; Psalm 58:3; John 3:20; Romans 8:7-8; Colossians 1:21; Psalm 58:3; Ephesians 2:12-13; Ephesians 2:3; Proverbs 15:9; Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 64:6; Hebrews 11:6; Psalm 10:4; Isaiah 65:1; Isaiah 64:7; Romans 3:10-12; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 1 Corinthians 1:18,21-24; Deuteronomy 29:2-4; Matthew 11:27; John 3:27; John 14:16-17; John 1:12-13; John 6:44,65; Romans 9:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5
     
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  9. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Old Christendom,

    I respect your right to believe what you do, and it would really serve no purpose here for me to start posting scripture verses and quotes that support my position. Anyone can Google articles against Calvinism and TULIP and find these sources. As with so much in the Bible, there often seem to be contradictions, for instance scripture can be used to argue that Baptism and the Eucharist are necessary for salvation, yet the good thief was never baptized as far as we know.

    This is where the fathers come into play; we look for a consensus among them, and TULIP isn't there. While it is easy to find quotes from some of the fathers (especially Augustine, who was wrong on so many issues) to back up certain of Calvin's views, even more citations can be found that disagree with his theology (not to mention Luther and other reformers who also disagreed with him). Common sense has to come into play, and no, their concepts were not accepted by the Roman Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, or Assyrian Church of the East at anytime prior to the 16th century or since.

    Regardless, if you are correct, then everyone of us is either damned or saved regardless of what we do and we have no say in the matter whatsoever. If I am one of the elect, then no matter what I think or do will change it, and vice-verse. On the other hand, if I (and the ancient undivided Church, plus those Protestants who are Arminian in theology) am/are correct, then people need to seriously consider the claims of Christ and His Apostles and make a decision based on those claims.
     
  10. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    It seems to me that you are confused.

    No-one can consider the claims of Christ and His Apostles and chose Him if God does not regenerate that person first. And no-one can persevere in faith if God does not maintain that person in it until the end. Man is utterly enslaved by sin, the Scriptures, not to mention our own life experience, couldn't be clearer. It is God that chooses sinners unto salvation, not the other way around. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit." (John 15:16)

    Your faith, if true, is a gift from God. Our whole salvation is a gift from God. Your choice of Christ, your efforts in sanctification are truly willed by you, but they are willed by you because God has enabled you to do it. Truthfully, salvation is of the Lord and of the Lord alone. Furthermore, I do reject your rather ingenuous view about the Church Fathers, their consensus and their role as an additional rule of faith. To corner them as exclusively Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox or Protestants is fallacious. They held a wide range of beliefs, often conflicting with one another, although I contend that the Protestant Reformed Faith can find much in common with them, contrary to what Romanist apologists like to parrot around.

    The Scriptures alone are God-breathed and able to make the man of God equipped unto salvation and every good work. The Scriptures alone are the word of God: they are divine revelation that come to us in propositional truths, free from any contradicions whatsoever, and able to be understood by all, even my the most simple of laymen. As Irenaeus put it, they are the pillar and ground of our faith.
     
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  11. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    Are you sure? I alread showed you a few quotes that support total depravity. Here are a few others that support limited atonement:

    Barnabas (A.D. 70): “[Christ speaking] I see that I shall thus offer My flesh for the sins of the new people.”

    Justin Martyr (A.D. 150): “He endured the sufferings for those men whose souls are [actually] purified from all iniquity…As Jacob served Laban for the cattle that were spotted, and of various forms, so Christ served even to the cross for men of every kind, of many and various shapes, procuring them by His blood and the mystery of the cross.”

    Irenaeus (A.D. 180): “He came to save all, all, I say, who through Him are born again unto God, infants, and little ones, and children, and young men, and old men…Jesus is the Savior of them that believe; but the Lord of them thhat believe not. Wherefore, Christ is introduced in the gospel weary…promising to give His life a ransom, in the room of many.”

    Tertullian (A.D. 200): “Christ died for the salvation of His people…for the church.”

    Cyprian (A.D. 250): “All the sheep which Christ hath sought up by His blood and sufferings are saved…Whosoever shall be found in the blood, and with the mark of Christ shall only escape…He redeemed the believers with the price of His own blood…Let him be afraid to die who is not reckoned to have any part in the cross and sufferings of Christ.”

    Lactantius (A.D. 320): “He was to suffer and be slain for the salvation of many people…who having suffered death for us, hath made us heirs of the everlasting kingdom, having abdicated and disinherited the people of the Jews…He stretched out His hands in the passion and measured the world, that He might at the very time show that a large people, gathered out of all languages and tribes, should come under His wings, and receive the most great and sublime sign.”

    Eusebius (A.D. 330): “To what ‘us’ does he refer, unless to them that believe in Him? For to them that do not believe in Him, He is the author of their fire and burning. The cause of Christ’s coming is the redemption of those that were to be saved by Him.”

    Julius (A.D. 350): “The Son of God, by the pouring out of His precious blood, redeemed His set apart ones; they are delivered by the blood of Christ.”

    Hilarion (A.D. 363): “He shall remain in the sight of God forever, having already taken all whom He hath redeemed to be kings of heaven, and co-heirs of eternity, delivering them as the kingdom of God to the Father.”

    Ambrose (A.D. 380): “Before the foundation of the world, it was God’s will that Christ should suffer for our salvation…Can He damn thee, whom He hath redeemed from death, for whom He offered Himself, whose life He knows is the reward of His own death?”

    Pacian (A.D. 380): “Much more, He will not allow him that is redeemed to be destroyed, nor will He cast away those whom He has redeemed with a great price.”

    Epiphanius (A.D. 390): “If you are redeemed…If therefore ye are bought with blood, thou are not the number of them who were bought with blood, O Manes, because thou deniest the blood…He gave His life for His own sheep.”

    Jerome (A.D. 390): “Christ is sacrificed for the salvation of believers…Not all are redeemed, for not all shall be saved, but the remnant…All those who are redeemed and delivered by Thy blood return to Zion, which Thou hast prepared for Thyself by Thine own blood…Christ came to redeem Zion [a metaphor for the church] with His blood. But lest we should think that all are Zion or every one in Zion is truly redeemed of the Lord, who are redeemed by the blood of Christ form the Church…He did not give His life for every man, but for many, that is, for those who would believe.”

    Anselm: “If you die in unbelief, Christ did not die for you.”

    Remigius (A.D. 850): “Since only the elect are saved, it may be accepted that Christ did not come to save all and did not die on the cross for all.”
     
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  12. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    While Wikipedia is not always a reliable source, this portion of the article on predestination is quite good and informative:

    The early Church Fathers consistently uphold the freedom of human choice. This position was crucial in the Christian confrontation with Cynicism and some of the chief forms of Gnosticism, such as Manichaeism, which taught that man is by nature flawed and therefore not responsible for evil in himself or in the world. At the same time, belief in human responsibility to do good as a precursor to salvation and eternal reward was consistent. The decision to do good along with God's aid pictured a synergism of the human will and God's will. The early Church Fathers taught a doctrine of conditional predestination.
    Augustine of Hippo marks the beginning of a system of thought that denies free will (with respect to salvation) and affirms that salvation needs an initial input by God in the life of every person. While his early writings affirm that God's predestinating grace is granted on the basis of his foreknowledge of the human desire to pursue salvation, this changed after 396. His later position affirmed the necessity of God granting grace in order for the desire for salvation to be awakened. However, Augustine does argue (against the Manicheans) that humans have free will; however, their will is so distorted, and the Fall is so extensive, that in the postlapsarian world they can only choose evil.
    Augustine's position raised objections. Julian bishop of Eclanum, expressed that Augustine was bringing Manichee thoughts into the church. For Vincent of Lérins, this was a disturbing innovation. This new tension eventually became obvious with the confrontation between Augustine and Pelagius culminating in condemnation of Pelagianism (as interpreted by Augustine) at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The British monk Pelagius denied Augustine's view of "predestination" in order to affirm that salvation is achieved by an act of free will.
    The Eastern Orthodox Church tradition has never adopted the Augustinian view of predestination, and formed a doctrine of predestination by another historical route, sometimes called Semi-Pelagianism in the West. The Western Church, including the Catholic and Protestant denominations, are predominantly Augustinian in some form, especially as interpreted by Gregory the Great and the Second Council of Orange (a Western council that anathemitized Semi- Pelagianism as represented in some of the writings of John Cassian and his followers). This council explicitly denies double predestination.
    In Catholic doctrine, the accepted understanding of predestination most predominantly follows the interpretation of Thomas Aquinas, and can be contrasted with the Jansenist interpretation of Augustinianism, which was condemned by the Catholic Church during the Counter-Reformation. The only important branch of Western Christianity that continues to hold to a double predestination interpretation of Augustinianism, is within the Calvinist branch of the Protestant Reformation. The meaning of this term is discussed under the subsection on Calvinism, below.
    In broad Christian conversation, predestination refers to the view of predestination commonly associated with John Calvin and the Calvinist branch of the Protestant Reformation; and, this is the non-technical sense in which the term is typically used today,when belief in predestination is affirmed or denied.
    Augustine's formulation is neither complete nor universally accepted by Christians. But his system laid the foundation onto virgin ground for the then later writers and innovators of the Reformation period.
     
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  13. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

    You must have a file available for your citaitions to appear so quickly. So you are prepared as an apologist for Calvinist theology. As I stated before, such information is available from both sides on the internet. Some scripture seems to support Calvin, other scripture doesn't. Same with Luther, who wanted to jettison the book of James because it disagreed with his theology. We can't go by scripture alone to resolve these issues, but need to be guided by reason and tradition.
     
  14. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Guys, my question had to do with "foreknew", which as Peteprint pointed out was from the greek proginosko. My question was about the object of that foreknowledge...but I also see that the word is translated as "foreordain" elsewhere in the bible, which I think we can agree is more than simple knowledge, rather it infuses a will or plan into the action. Why is foreknown a better translation than foreordain in this verse? As for the other discussion on the nature of free will, I think the answer may be somewhere in between you guys' positions. My limited knowledge on the subject of the Fathers aside, it seems to me that since Pelagianism was condemned as a heresy, the fathers at most only advocated a limited form of free will. On the other hand, St Paul and others tell us that unbelievers are without excuse, meaning that their sins were commited by their own volition and not the work of fatalistic automatons. Moreover, the fact that a law was given and a gospel preached presupposes the freewill to accept or reject God's offered grace.
     
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  15. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Please stay on topic and focus on the OP's question.
     
  16. Old Christendom

    Old Christendom Well-Known Member

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    I already answered this in my first post.

    By "foreknow" the Apostle means to "forelove" or to "love beforehand." To "know" often has this meaning in the Scriptures. The object of the verb is clearly God's elect. Those whom God foreknew, that is, knew beforehand or loved beforehand, those he predestined to be saved.

    This is a repetitive strawman. No-one holds that men are automatons, but rather that their wills are enslaved by sin.

    You are making the same argument as Erasmus. Luther aptly responded to this objection in his materpiece The Bondage of the Will. Erasmus presupposed that all of God's commands to obey proved that we had the free-will or moral ability to do so. Erasmus would often ask, "if we can do nothing, what is the purpose of all the laws, precepts, threats and promises in the Bible? All these precepts are useless if nothing is attributed to the human will. If it is not in the power of every man to keep what is commanded, all the exhortations of Scripture are of necessity useless."

    Luther responded by saying Paul gives the answer: 'by the law is the knowledge of sin'. With great wit and irony he exposes why free will is an erroneous, unscriptural doctrine which, ultimately, undermines the gospel itself. Erasmus would continue to show Luther the commands of Scripture in an attempt to prove man had the native ability to believe the gospel on his own. But as Dr. Luther said to Erasmus, "when you are finished with all your commands and exhortations ... I’ll write Romans.3:20 over the top of it all" ("...through the law comes knowledge of sin."). In other words, the commands exist to show, not our moral ability, but our inability. This includes God's command of all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, an impossible act of will apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit uniting us to Christ, so that in so far as the will is good at all, it is so from God, not from ourselves.
     
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  17. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Discussion on this topic has to take into account the Anglican writings such as Archbishop King's 1709 Sermon on Predestination and Free Will published on our website. Not doing so will be considered trying to advance an agenda and thereby against the terms of this website.
     
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  18. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Thank you for referencing this article. I could not link to it from this site, but I managed to find the page by Googling it. Archbishop King seems to take a view that both sides have merit if understood properly. While I am not a trained Orthodox theologian, I didn't have any problems with what I read in the sermon. I thought this portion was quite good:

    "Now as it is true, that no Contingency or Freedom in the Creatures, can any way deceive or surprize God, put him to a loss, or oblige him to alter his measures: so on the other hand it is likewise true, that the Divine Prescience doth not hinder Freedom; and a thing may either be or not be, notwithstanding that Foresight of it which we ascribe to God. When therefore it is alledg’d, that if God foresees I shall be saved, my Salvation is infallible, this doth not follow; because the Fore-knowledge of God is not like Man’s, which requires Necessity in the Event, in order to its being certain, but of another nature consistent with Contingency: and our Inability to comprehend this, arises from our Ignorance of the true nature of what we call Fore-knowledge in God. And it is as impossible we should comprehend the Power thereof, or the manner of its Operation, as that the Eye should see a Sound, or the Ear ear Light and Colours.

    Only of this we are sure, that in this it differs from ours, that it may consist either with the being or not being of what is said to be foreseen or predestinated. Thus St. Paul was a chosen Vessel, and he reckons himself in the number of the Predestinated, Eph. 1. 5. Having predestinated us to the Adoption of Children by Jesus Christ to himself. And yet he supposes it possible for him to miss of Salvation: and therefore he look’d on himself as oblig’d to use Mortification, and exercise all other Graces, in order to make his Calling and Election sure; lest, as he tells us, 1 Cor. 9. 27. That by any means when I have preach’dto others, I my self should be a Cast-away, or a Reprobate, as the word is translated in other places."

    This reminds me as well of the verse from 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27:
    "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
     
  19. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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