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Many have thought that there is then an argument against the existence of God, i.e., the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect being;
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If Mary’s child did no sin and did not receive the imperfect and condemned Adamic life through a human father, but a perfect, unim paired and uncondemned life transferred from his pre-existent condition, should he be born an imperfect, blemished, pained and dying human being?
BELIEF THAT ONE IS MADE “WORTHY” BY THEIR OWN WORKS RATHER THAN THE MYSTERIES IS PELAGIANISM Pelagius (c. 354‐420) was a heretic from Britain, who believed that it was possible for man to be worthy or even perfect by way of his free will, without the necessity of grace. In most cases, Pelagius reverted from this strict form and did not profess it. For this reason, many of the councils called to condemn the false teaching, only condemn the heresy of Pelagianism, but do not condemn Pelagius himself. But various councils actually do condemn Pelagius along with Pelagianism. Various Protestants have tried to disparage the Orthodox Faith by calling its beliefs Pelagian or Semipelagian. But the Orthodox Faith is neither the one, nor the other, but is entirely free from Pelagianism. The Orthodox Faith is also free from the opposite extreme, namely, Manicheanism, which believes that the world is inherently evil from its very creation. The Orthodox Faith is the Royal Path. It neither falls to the right nor to the left, but remains on the straight path, that is, “the Way.” The Orthodox Faith does indeed believe that good works are essential, but these are for the purpose of gaining God’s mercy. By no means can mankind grant himself “worthiness” and “perfection” by way of his own works. It is only through God’s uncreated grace, light, powers and energies, that mankind can truly be granted worthiness and perfection in Christ. The most commonly‐available source of God’s grace within the Church is through the Holy Mysteries, particularly the Mysteries of Baptism, Chrism, Absolution and Communion, which are necessary for salvation. Baptism can only be received once, for it is a reconciliation of the fallen man to the Risen Man, where one no longer shares in the nakedness of Adam but becomes clothed with Christ. Chrism can be repeated whenever an Orthodox Christian lapses into schism or heresy and is being reconciled to the Church. Absolution can also serve as a method of reconciliation from the sin of heresy or schism as well as from any personal sin that an Orthodox Christian may commit, and in receiving the prayer of pardon one is reconciled to the Church. For as long as an Orthodox Christian sins, he must receive this Mystery repeatedly in order to prepare himself for the next Mystery. Communion is reconciliation to the Immaculate Body and Precious Blood of Christ, allowing one to live in Christ. This is the ultimate Mystery, and must be received frequently for one to experience a life in Christ. For Orthodox Christianity is not a philosophy or a way of thought, nor is it merely a moral code, but it is the Life of Christ in man, and the way one can truly live in Christ is through Holy Communion. Pelagianism in the strictest form is the belief that mankind can achieve “worthiness” and “perfection” by way of his own free will, without the need of God’s grace or the Mysteries to be the source of that worthiness and perfection. Rather than viewing good works as a method of achieving God’s mercy, they view the good works as a method of achieving self‐worth and self‐perfection. The most common understanding of Pelagianism refers to the supposed “worthiness” of man by way of having a good will or good works prior to receiving the Mystery of Baptism. But the form of Pelagianism into which Bp. Kirykos falls in his first letter to Fr. Pedro, is in regards to the supposed “worthiness” of Christians purely by their own work of fasting. Thus, in his first letter to Fr. Pedro, Bp. Kirykos does not mention the Mystery of Confession (or Absolution) anywhere in the text as a means of receiving worthiness, but attaches the worthiness entirely to the fasting alone. Again, nowhere in the letter does he mention the Holy Communion itself as a source of perfection, but rather entertains the notion that mankind is capable of achieving such perfection prior to even receiving communion. This is the only way one can interpret his letter, especially his totally unhistorical statement regarding the early Christians, in which he claims: “They fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” St. Aurelius Augustinus, otherwise known as St. Augustine of Hippo (+28 August, 430), writes: “It is not by their works, but by grace, that the doers of the law are justified… Now [the Apostle Paul] could not mean to contradict himself in saying, ‘The doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13),’ as if their justification came through their works, and not through grace; since he declares that a man is justified freely by His grace without the works of the law (Romans 3:24,28) intending by the term ‘freely’ nothing else than that works do not precede justification. For in another passage he expressly says, ‘If by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6).’ But the statement that ‘the doers of the law shall be justified (Romans 2:13)’ must be so understood, as that we may know that they are not otherwise doers of the law, unless they be justified, so that justification does not subsequently accrue to them as doers of the law, but justification precedes them as doers of the law. For what else does the phrase ‘being justified’ signify than being made righteous,—by Him, of course, who justifies the ungodly man, that he may become a godly one instead? For if we were to express a certain fact by saying, ‘The men will be liberated,’ the phrase would of course be understood as asserting that the liberation would accrue to those who were men already; but if we were to say, The men will be created, we should certainly not be understood as asserting that the creation would happen to those who were already in existence, but that they became men by the creation itself. If in like manner it were said, The doers of the law shall be honoured, we should only interpret the statement correctly if we supposed that the honour was to accrue to those who were already doers of the law: but when the allegation is, ‘The doers of the law shall be justified,’ what else does it mean than that the just shall be justified? for of course the doers of the law are just persons. And thus it amounts to the same thing as if it were said, The doers of the law shall be created,—not those who were so already, but that they may become such; in order that the Jews who were hearers of the law might hereby understand that they wanted the grace of the Justifier, in order to be able to become its doers also. Or else the term ‘They shall be justified’ is used in the sense of, They shall be deemed, or reckoned as just, as it is predicated of a certain man in the Gospel, ‘But he, willing to justify himself (Luke 10:29),’—meaning that he wished to be thought and accounted just. In like manner, we attach one meaning to the statement, ‘God sanctifies His saints,’ and another to the words, ‘Sanctified be Thy name (Matthew 6:9);’ for in the former case we suppose the words to mean that He makes those to be saints who were not saints before, and in the latter, that the prayer would have that which is always holy in itself be also regarded as holy by men,—in a word, be feared with a hallowed awe.” (Augustine of Hippo, Antipelagian Writings, Chapter 45) Thus the doers of the law are justified by God’s grace and not by their own good works. The purpose of their own good works is to obtain the mercy of God, but it is God’s grace through the Holy Mysteries that bestows the worthiness and perfection upon mankind. Blessed Augustine does not only speak of this in regards to the Mystery of Baptism, but applies it also to the Mystery of Communion. Thus he writes of both Mysteries as follows: “Now [the Pelagians] take alarm from the statement of the Lord, when He says, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3);’ because in His own explanation of the passage He affirms, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5).’ And so they try to ascribe to unbaptized infants, by the merit of their innocence, the gift of salvation and eternal life, but at the same time, owing to their being unbaptized, to exclude them from the kingdom of heaven. But how novel and astonishing is such an assumption, as if there could possibly be salvation and eternal life without heirship with Christ, without the kingdom of heaven! Of course they have their refuge, whither to escape and hide themselves, because the Lord does not say, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot have life, but—‘he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ If indeed He had said the other, there could have risen not a moment’s doubt. Well, then, let us remove the doubt; let us now listen to the Lord, and not to men’s notions and conjectures; let us, I say, hear what the Lord says—not indeed concerning the sacrament of the laver, but concerning the sacrament of His own holy table, to which none but a baptized person has a right to approach: ‘Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye shall have no life in you (John 6:53).’ What do we want more? What answer to this can be adduced, unless it be by that obstinacy which ever resists the constancy of manifest truth?” (op. cit., Chapter 26) Blessed Augustine continues on the same subject of how the early Orthodox Christians of Carthage perceived the Mysteries of Baptism and Communion: “The Christians of Carthage have an excellent name for the sacraments, when they say that baptism is nothing else than ‘salvation,’ and the sacrament of the body of Christ nothing else than ‘life.’ Whence, however, was this derived, but from that primitive, as I suppose, and apostolic tradition, by which the Churches of Christ maintain it to be an inherent principle, that without baptism and partaking of the supper of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and everlasting life? So much also does Scripture testify, according to the words which we already quoted. For wherein does their opinion, who designate baptism by the term salvation, differ from what is written: ‘He saved us by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5)?’ or from Peter’s statement: ‘The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (1 Peter 3:21)?’ And what else do they say who call the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ‘life,’ than that which is written: ‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven (John 6:51);’ and ‘The bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world (John 6:51);’ and ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you (John 6:53)?’ If, therefore, as so many and such divine witnesses agree, neither salvation nor eternal life can be hoped for by any man without baptism and the Lord’s body and blood, it is vain to promise these blessings to infants without them. Moreover, if it be only sins that separate man from salvation and eternal life, there is nothing else in infants which these sacraments can be the means of removing, but the guilt of sin,—respecting which guilty nature it is written, that “no one is clean, not even if his life be only that of a day (Job 14:4).’ Whence also that exclamation of the Psalmist: ‘Behold, I was conceived in iniquity; and in sins did my mother bear me (Psalm 50:5)! This is either said in the person of our common humanity, or if of himself only David speaks, it does not imply that he was born of fornication, but in lawful wedlock. We therefore ought not to doubt that even for infants yet to be baptized was that precious blood shed, which previous to its actual effusion was so given, and applied in the sacrament, that it was said, ‘This is my blood, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).’ Now they who will not allow that they are under sin, deny that there is any liberation. For what is there that men are liberated from, if they are held to be bound by no bondage of sin? (op. cit., Chapter 34) Now, what of Bp. Kirykos’ opinion that early Christians “fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune?” Is this because they were saints? Were all of the early Christians who were frequent communicants ascetics who fasted “in the finer and broader sense” and were actual saints? Even if so, does the Orthodox Church consider the saints “worthy” by their act of fasting, or is their act of fasting only a plea for God’s mercy, while God’s grace is what delivers the worthiness? According to Bp. Kirykos, the early Christians, whether they were saints or not, “fasted in the fine and broader sense, that is, they were worthy to commune.” But is this a teaching of Orthodoxy or rather of Pelagianism? Is this what the saints believed of themselves, that they were “worthy?” And if they didn’t believe they were worthy, was that just out of humility, or did they truly consider themselves unworthy? Blessed Augustine of Hippo, one of the champions of his time against the heresy of Pelagianism, writes: “In that, indeed, in the praise of the saints, they will not drive us with the zeal of that publican (Luke 18:10‐14) to hunger and thirst after righteousness, but with the vanity of the Pharisees, as it were, to overflow with sufficiency and fulness; what does it profit them that—in opposition to the Manicheans, who do away with baptism—they say ‘that men are perfectly renewed by baptism,’ and apply the apostle’s testimony for this,—‘who testifies that, by the washing of water, the Church is made holy and spotless from the Gentiles (Ephesians 5:26),’—when, with a proud and perverse meaning, they put forth their arguments in opposition to the prayers of the Church itself. For they say this in order that the Church may be believed after holy baptism—in which is accomplished the forgiveness of all sins—to have no further sin; when, in opposition to them, from the rising of the sun even to its setting, in all its members it cries to God, ‘Forgive us our debts (Matthew 6:12).’ But if they are interrogated regarding themselves in this matter, they find not what to answer. For if they should say that they have no sin, John answers them, that ‘they deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them (1 John 1:8).’ But if they confess their sins, since they wish themselves to be members of Christ’s body, how will that body, that is, the Church, be even in this time perfectly, as they think, without spot or wrinkle, if its members without falsehood confess themselves to have sins? Wherefore in baptism all sins are forgiven, and, by that very washing of water in the word, the Church is set forth in Christ without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27); and unless it were baptized, it would fruitlessly say, ‘Forgive us our debts,’ until it be brought to glory, when there is in it absolutely no spot or wrinkle.” (op. cit., Chapter 17). Again, in his chapter called ‘The Opinion of the Saints Themselves About Themselves,’ Blessed Augustine writes: “It is to be confessed that ‘the Holy Spirit, even in the old times,’ not only ‘aided good dispositions,’ which even they allow, but that it even made them good, which they will not have. ‘That all, also, of the prophets and apostles or saints, both evangelical and ancient, to whom God gives His witness, were righteous, not in comparison with the wicked, but by the rule of virtue,’ is not doubtful. And this is opposed to the Manicheans, who blaspheme the patriarchs and prophets; but what is opposed to the Pelagians is, that all of these, when interrogated concerning themselves while they lived in the body, with one most accordant voice would answer, ‘If we should say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).’ ‘But in the future time,’ it is not to be denied ‘that there will be a reward as well of good works as of evil, and that no one will be commanded to do the commandments there which here he has contemned,’ but that a sufficiency of perfect righteousness where sin cannot be, a righteousness which is here hungered and thirsted after by the saints, is here hoped for
Another Perfect Storm By Sylvain Desgens - FLS Manager, National Accounts Over the past few months, almost everyone in the transportation and logistics industry has been talking about the perfect storm, also known as the Frankenstorm, that is currently disrupting the trucking industry in the US.