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Doesn't Paul's use of patron-client language refute sola fide?

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The relationship between the patron and client in ancient Rome was cooperative in nature, and Paul uses that language to describe salvation. God (the patron) provides the free service of allowing us into his new covenant (by his grace) and we respond to that with faith, just as the client responded in good faith (bonum fidei) to the patron which naturally implied that the client would cooperate to the patron in the appropriate way when called for (like helping them with military duties), which naturally means for us in our relationship with God to respond to his grace through good works. This of course leads into the more complex doctrine of theosis in Orthodox theology but I won't get into that here.
 

123abc

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We are saved "unto good works", not because of them (Ephesians 2, 8-10). The faithful response we make to God is a result of our having been justified. We therefore willingly cooperate with God's Covenantal grace.

I have found that the main difficulty in understanding the Reformational doctrine of Sola Fide stems from the sharp distinction we make between Justification and Sanctification. Note I said distinction and not separation, for they can never be separated. Within Orthodoxy and roman catholicism, Justification is seen as a process rather than a judicial decree of "not guilty". Consequently Justification and Sanctification occur concurrently throughout the life of the believer to the extent that there doesn't really appear to be a real difference between the two concepts. This is why the idea of Sola Fide is rejected. This unfortunately leads to misunderstanding of what Protestants mean by Sola Fide, often being slandered as a libertine, cheap grace Gospel where we may live as we wish.
 
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We are saved "unto good works", not because of them (Ephesians 2, 8-10). The faithful response we make to God is a result of our having been justified. We therefore willingly cooperate with God's Covenantal grace.

I have found that the main difficulty in understanding the Reformational doctrine of Sola Fide stems from the sharp distinction we make between Justification and Sanctification. Note I said distinction and not separation, for they can never be separated. Within Orthodoxy and roman catholicism, Justification is seen as a process rather than a judicial decree of "not guilty". Consequently Justification and Sanctification occur concurrently throughout the life of the believer to the extent that there doesn't really appear to be a real difference between the two concepts. This is why the idea of Sola Fide is rejected. This unfortunately leads to misunderstanding of what Protestants mean by Sola Fide, often being slandered as a libertine, cheap grace Gospel where we may live as we wish.
The problem with sola fide as formulated with Luther is not primarily "cheap grace" (although many Protestants do not believe that sin can cause you to lose salvation which can lead to cheap grace) but that it reflects a soteriology that is not transformational. In confessional Protestant theology, faith alone, apart from hope and love, becomes the only means to seize the imputed extrinsic righteousness of Christ. In Orthodoxy, we are imputed the righteousness of Christ, not because of a legal technicality, but because we filled with the righteousness of Christ unto good works, and therefore the notion of faith only is metaphysically impossible since justification transforms us to be worthy of His glory by the love poured into our hearts by the Spirit.

In Luther's teaching we are justified but simultaneously sinful which is heretical. In Lutheranism even the tendency to sin (concupisence) is damnable. This prohibits justification as being transformative.

While we do sin even when we are justified (whoever says he is without sin deceives himself..), our nature is transformed by grace and our sins our actually washed away, not merely covered. Justification is a process, but it also the beginning of our life in Christ. When we believe and are baptized we are immediately justified and sanctified, not only not guilty of our sins but a son of God by faith, apart from any human work. Any good work done after this moment is unto our justification only in the sense that it preserves our faith and love that are given to us as gifts. And since we can do nothing good of ourselves all good works must be attributed to grace alone. This is why the Orthodox prayers consistently say "we have never done even one good work which could justify us", since even if we gave alms or fasted, or done any other "good work", if it had any fruit it is only God's work so we may not boast in our supposed virtues or act as if we can merit salvation.
 

Gorship

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The problem with sola fide as formulated with Luther is not primarily "cheap grace" (although many Protestants do not believe that sin can cause you to lose salvation which can lead to cheap grace) but that it reflects a soteriology that is not transformational. In confessional Protestant theology, faith alone, apart from hope and love, becomes the only means to seize the imputed extrinsic righteousness of Christ. In Orthodoxy, we are imputed the righteousness of Christ, not because of a legal technicality, but because we filled with the righteousness of Christ unto good works, and therefore the notion of faith only is metaphysically impossible since justification transforms us to be worthy of His glory by the love poured into our hearts by the Spirit.

In Luther's teaching we are justified but simultaneously sinful which is heretical. In Lutheranism even the tendency to sin (concupisence) is damnable. This prohibits justification as being transformative.

While we do sin even when we are justified (whoever says he is without sin deceives himself..), our nature is transformed by grace and our sins our actually washed away, not merely covered. Justification is a process, but it also the beginning of our life in Christ. When we believe and are baptized we are immediately justified and sanctified, not only not guilty of our sins but a son of God by faith, apart from any human work. Any good work done after this moment is unto our justification only in the sense that it preserves our faith and love that are given to us as gifts. And since we can do nothing good of ourselves all good works must be attributed to grace alone. This is why the Orthodox prayers consistently say "we have never done even one good work which could justify us", since even if we gave alms or fasted, or done any other "good work", if it had any fruit it is only God's work so we may not boast in our supposed virtues or act as if we can merit salvation.
Man I love this write up!
 

RichardW

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If we follow St John Chrysostom then the terminology of justification by faith alone is perfectly acceptable:

What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor.

Homily 4 on First Timothy
https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/230604.htm [\quote]

Of course, searching through his works for “faith alone” also produces places where he writes against ‘faith alone’. How to reconcile the contradiction?

A parent will tell off a naughty child, but praise a good one. Is this a contradiction – or just normal everyday life? God is on this simple level. Those in despair need faith alone, those needing exhortation need faith with works. No contradiction, just love in action – unless we treat God’s love as an academic dogma which we can study and then make logical deductions as to how he will act. Hence the errors of Calvinism on one side and merits on the other side – but St John Cassian, a disciple of St John Chrysostom, puts people first, above dogma and ideology. If he is a semi-Pelagian, then he is also a semi-Calvinist, but in reality just a loving father of souls going beyond a scholastic approach to life and God.

Just my thoughts.
:)
Richard
 
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If we follow St John Chrysostom then the terminology of justification by faith alone is perfectly acceptable:
The terminology of faith alone is acceptable in an Orthodox context, particularly with a baptismal theme. St. Maximus says this:
"The manner of birth from God within us is two-fold: the one bestows the grace of adoption, which is entirely present in potency in those who are born of God; the other introduces, wholly by active exertion, that grace which deliberately reorients the entire free choice of the one being born of God toward the God who gives birth. The first bears the grace, present in potency, through faith alone; but the second, beyond faith, also engenders in the knower the sublimely divine likeness of the One known, that likeness being effected precisely through knowledge."

There are similar quotes from St. Ambrose on the matter. At baptism, in a sense, we are justified by faith alone because baptism is what regenerates us and makes us capable of virtue (we become a new creation). We have nothing to offer but faith, and after baptism makes us born again, it gives us potential to be transformed as a son of God and heir of righteousness.

After that, our experience of justification in Christ's death (therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death..) grows more into the likeness of Christ (just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.) So justification does not entail sola fide in that our justification is a relational and ontological communion with God as a son which necessarily includes the virtues given to us by grace and not only faith.

While sola fide here does have a role in explaining our baptism, it doesn't really pertain to the reformation explanation of it with double imputation and faith as the "empty hand" of seizing the merit of Christ to be externally applied. Thus we cannot equivocate faith alone in the fathers vis a vis the reformers without committing the word concept fallacy.

Pastorally speaking, we ought not to use faith alone to describe our justification outside the baptismal scope. Rather, we ought to talk about the indwelling of Christ in our hearts which raises us up to new life by the Spirit by faith, hope and love given sacramentally. This is by faith, but not faith alone because we cannot maintain our baptismal garment without love and humility accompanying that faith. We should not tell the despairing they can be justified by faith alone despite their sins, since the term faith alone in this context would be assuming how it would be used in the reformation debates. It would endanger the despairing to assume that belief in Christ is all that is needed to be forgiven.

As to St. John Cassain, I would not agree with any insinuation that he was a semi-pelegian. He affirms that everything we have, including faith, is a gift from God and that God works all things in us so that we might co-work with Him. This is the opposite of semi pelegianism (which the central tenant is that faith is within our natural ability and not given by grace). And I don't think preaching the primacy of grace justifies the label of "semi-Calvinist" without assuming all the baggage of the reformation either.
 
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