Church Authority, Groundwork (2): The Infallibility of Christ’s flesh

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In this post I will give a model of what an Orthodox Christian might mean by saying the Church is infallible. This post will help to provide a framework for a later post arguing for the infallibility of the Church. The argument can be stated like this:

P1. Paul teaches the Church is the body of Christ in a literal, physical sense—not just a metaphorical sense.
P2. The physical body of Christ has God’s power of infallibility.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Church has God’s power of infallibility.

In the subsequent post I will defend premises one and two. For now I will give an explanation of the ideas of “body of Christ” and “infallibility”, and how they relate to the teaching of the Church as an institution.

Christ is the uncreated divine person of the Logos; and because He is a divine person, He is a source from which the divine energies are manifested. He indwells his human nature, and is intrinsic to it. Because a source of the divine energies (the Logos) is within human nature, the divine energies are manifested within and from human nature. Infallibility is one of the divine energies. It is the energy whereby God is incapable of believing or teaching something false, and whereby anything that God speaks is of ultimate, unqualified, binding authority on the human conscience. So Christ’s human nature is infallible. It is indwelt by the divine energy of infallibility. When the man Jesus of Nazareth spoke and taught, because He was and is the uncreated Son of God, his human speech was divine speech. His verbal utterances had the divine power of infallibility within them.

The Church is, as St. John Chrysostom and other Fathers taught, Christ’s glorified human nature. St. Paul and other Apostles teach (and Christ Himself seems to say likewise) that the Church is the body of Christ in a literal, physical sense. It is the physical manifestation of Christ’s universal glorified humanity. Everyone shares in the humanity of Christ, because in the incarnation he took on human nature as a whole, and united all human souls and bodies within his human soul and body. All humans (even those in hell) are in Christ because all share in Christ’s humanity. Those that personally access by free will the grace that is within their humanity through the image of God and Christ’s economy have personal union with him.

It might seem like an adequate definition of the Church, then, is “those that have personal union with Christ.” But the fact of the matter is that there are people outside of the Church that practice the divine virtue that is intrinsic to their humanity. So the Church can’t just be the sum total of all that have personal union with Christ. Furthermore, the Church is Christ’s body in Scripture and Orthodox theology. So it must be a physical object, not just a collection of inwardly (or even, to varying degrees, outwardly) good people.

Those in the Church are members of Christ’s body not just because they share in his common humanity. Nor do they merely have personal union with Him. Rather, they partake of the physical manifestation of Christ’s humanity on earth. They physically share in the divine power of Christ’s glorified human nature, and are joined together in an organism. Not only is each member of the Church embodied as a physical object and practicing divine virtue by doing physical things that make use of divine power, but the members are parts of a whole. Each person is like a cell in a larger body, an organism. This organism is constituted by Christ, who is the head (source). His glorified, divinely-unified and empowered humanity is the principle of unity by which the Church exists and persists. The members form organs according to the specific ways they appropriate Christ’s humanity and the divine power that indwells it. As such the members are organized into an organization that is the Church, which is the organism, namely Christ’s body. Because Christ’s body is a physical object, it is visible. It has discernible, physical marks of structure by which its members are seen to be members (Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist, Tri-fold Ministry, etc.) of the organism.

So because the Church is an organism—that is Christ’s glorified physical flesh, it shares in common with other bodies visibility and organization. It is a visible organization—in other words, an institution. This organism is indwelt by divine energies including love, glory, immortality (inability to die), incorruptibility (inability to sin), infallibility, and righteousness (justice). The organism as a whole has these powers in use. The physical activities of Christ’s human nature, when manifested through personal use and unified properly in organization, constitute the Church. Particular persons that are members of Christ’s body, because they have the fullness of Christ’s human nature within them (because they are human) also have these powers available. However, not everyone in the Church uses these powers to the same extent. As St. Maximus points out, not every person partakes equally of what is natural to him or her. (Technically even people outside the Church have these powers; but they aren’t necessarily aware that they have them, how to use them, or in what context it would be possible to use them)

This doesn’t detract from the fact that the members of the organism use these powers in a way that preserves the whole intact. That’s part of what it means for the gates of death to not prevail against the Church. Because it is Christ’s flesh, the Church is immortal, and can’t be physically killed or spiritually killed. Its local physical manifestations in particular Catholic (full) Churches in the divine liturgy on Sunday mornings cannot be totally stopped; even if you made some of them stop, you couldn’t stop them all. And the Church’s spiritual teachings about God and Christ cannot be fully stopped either; even if some bishops become heretics, not all bishops are capable of becoming heretics. Its not that individuals or even large groups can’t apostatize away from the Church. Rather, because of the way the Church as an organism is structured, and because of the divine power that dwells within its structure, the institution as a whole can’t fail or fall apart.

The institution exercises the divine power of infallibility whenever it teaches anything. This is because the institution just is the body of Christ, and the body of Christ has his infallibility within it. It might be objected, “wait, hasn’t the Church taught false things in the past?” The answer is yes and no, depending on what is meant. Individual laity, bishops, and councils have taught false things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the institution itself has taught false things. Just because some people and groups in the United States government might believe in Islam doesn’t mean that the government itself is an Islamic government. To assume that what is true of the parts must be true of the whole is to engage in the fallacy of composition.

A question this raises is how we can discern when the Church is actually saying something. Why is it that sometimes, when a person in the Church makes a claim about what the Church teaches, it should be taken as an accurate articulation of what the Church actually believes, whereas other times a person’s claim should not be taken to accurately represent the teaching of the Church? This issue is distinct from the issue of whether or not the Church’s teachings have the quality of infallibility. For it could be the case that even though the Church’s teachings have the quality of infallibility, and thus we are objectively obligated to believe them wholeheartedly, we may have uncertainty about when the Church is actually (or just apparently) speaking. I will discuss this question in another upcoming post.

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69 Responses to “Church Authority, Groundwork (2): The Infallibility of Christ’s flesh”

  1. DisposableSoul Says:

    -MG

    Honestly, its really hard to try and understand what you are saying when your posts are this long. It will take me some time to break all of this down, so in the meantime, I have a simple question:

    If the church is infallible, but certain parts of it can be corrupted (laity, bishops, etc), how do I know which part of your church to trust?

    -DS

  2. Urorurururur Says:

    St. Paul and other Apostles teach (and Christ Himself seems to say likewise) that the Church is the body of Christ in a literal, physical sense.
    -This the essence of your argument. Let me think about it.

    Hmm.. It seems to me I can agree with at least one notion here:
    The Work of Christ is continued in the Church, and the holy spirit that indwells it, which is God, is incorruptible.

    I see no need for it to be his literal physical body. But given that “literal physical body” can be understood in a spiritually real way, like some form of transubstantiation or consubstantiation I’m not going to fight you on that.

    Given that it is literally Christ himself that still does not indicate that your church in particular is infallible. Your Church is not the only Christian Church.

    The fact that God has filled me with his spirit, and spoken to me personally, and has delivered me with a mighty hand from the power of demons indicates that there is Salvation, and participation in his body, outside the Eastern tradition. The Spirit transcends your Eastern Church and dwells in our Western Churches as well.

    The East and West are already one in the same spirit. We are both very unique parts of the same whole. However, parts can be fallible, as you said.

    When you lay claim that the Eastern Tradition is itself the incorruptible tradition, that your patriarchs alone or incorruptible, you exclude us by laying claim to be the whole. “How can the hand say the foot I don’t need you?” When the hand says to the foot “I am the body” it has committed a sin of dividing itself against the other members of the body.

    That said, the entire argument as to whether or not the Church has the attributes of the body of Christ is, in fact a strawman. Both Eastern and Western traditions believe (whether by spirit or flesh) the Universal Church is the body of Christ: this is not the issue. The issue is whether The Eastern Church, solely, is the body of Christ.

  3. MG Says:

    Disposable Soul–

    You wrote:

    “Honestly, its really hard to try and understand what you are saying when your posts are this long. It will take me some time to break all of this down, so in the meantime, I have a simple question:”

    The reason I write long posts is because if I write short posts, other people will complain that I haven’t explained myself. I wish I could express myself better and satisfy the expectations of people that want long explanations, but I’m not perfect. Hopefully this isn’t annoying you, I’m not trying to be a burden.

    You wrote:

    “If the church is infallible, but certain parts of it can be corrupted (laity, bishops, etc), how do I know which part of your church to trust?”

    This is something I plan to discuss in detail in a later post. But the basic explanation I’m going to offer is this. We recognize the actual teachings of the Church the same way we recognize the actual teachings of any institution. We look at the representative sources from an institution–the important leaders, documents, thinkers–from various times and places, and see where they mostly agree on their teachings. These are very likely to be the actual teachings of that institution.

    In other words, we just use the same common sense we would use to figure out what the United States Government teaches about some topic–say, our fundamental freedoms. We look at what the important voices of the US government have said throughout history, particularly the enshrinement of the Government’s stances in the big documents–ie. the constitution and its amendments. It seems utterly obvious upon careful reflection that the US teaches we have freedom of religion, speech, assembly, and press.

    Similarly, we look at what the big voices of the Orthodox Church have said throughout history, and in particular the teachings that the whole Church seems to recognize and accept. Its utterly obvious when we reflect on all of this, for instance, that the Nicene Creed is part of the Church’s official teaching.

    Does that make sense?

  4. MG Says:

    Uror–

    You wrote:

    “-This the essence of your argument. Let me think about it.”

    At the beginning of this post, I wrote the following:

    “In this post I will give a model of what an Orthodox Christian might mean by saying the Church is infallible. This post will help to provide a framework for a later post arguing for the infallibility of the Church. The argument can be stated like this:

    P1. Paul teaches the Church is the body of Christ in a literal, physical sense—not just a metaphorical sense.
    P2. The physical body of Christ has God’s power of infallibility.
    Conclusion: Therefore, the Church has God’s power of infallibility.

    In the subsequent post I will defend premises one and two. For now I will give an explanation of the ideas of “body of Christ” and “infallibility”, and how they relate to the teaching of the Church as an institution.”

    The point of this post was not to argue for the infallibility of the Church. I merely noted an argument at the beginning, and said I would return to it later and try and defend it. This post is only an explanation of the terms and concepts that will be used in the later post, where the actual argument will be made and the exegetical support will be given for the claim that the Church is Christ’s literal, physical flesh. For the purposes of organization, and because I haven’t given the full argument yet, I’d like to wait until I’ve published the other post before discussing whether or not the premises are well-argued.

    However, you do raise a number of interesting questions about the terms and concepts being used in the argument that I will soon make. For instance, you say “But given that “literal physical body” can be understood in a spiritually real way, like some form of transubstantiation or consubstantiation I’m not going to fight you on that.”

    When I say literal physical body, I mean literal physical body. The same body that walked in Galilee is the body that Orthodox Christians are members of. I don’t think that a literal physical body can be a non-physical spiritual body. If the Church is the body of Christ in a literal sense, it must be a physical object that is organized and visible, not something invisible and non-physical.

    You wrote:

    “Given that it is literally Christ himself that still does not indicate that your church in particular is infallible. Your Church is not the only Christian Church.”

    I wasn’t arguing for the claim that Orthodoxy is the Church, or that Orthodoxy is infallible. I’m just clarifying what the Orthodox mean by infallibility. My subsequent post will argue for the infallibility of the Church, which if true would imply Protestantism is false because Protestantism presupposes Sola Scriptura (which is incompatible with the idea that the Church is infallible). But you are right that these arguments do not by themselves pick out Orthodoxy as opposed to, say, Rome.

    You wrote:

    “The fact that God has filled me with his spirit, and spoken to me personally, and has delivered me with a mighty hand from the power of demons indicates that there is Salvation, and participation in his body, outside the Eastern tradition. The Spirit transcends your Eastern Church and dwells in our Western Churches as well.”

    Well, what do you mean by “participating in his body”? Do you mean that you are part of the physical object that is Christ’s flesh? On the definition of “participation in his body” that I’m using, it means
    you are part of an organism. That means a visible organization, or institution. It seems to me that Protestants do not claim to be part of a visible hierarchical sacramental institution, publicly instituted by Christ, that perpetuates through history by Apostolic succession. So if the definition of “Church” used by Rome, the East, and some Anglicans is correct, then Protestants aren’t part of the Church. What we really need to do, then, is settle whose definition of Church is correct. If the Church is a visible, hierarchical institution with sacraments that was started by Christ and continues by physical succession, then we can narrow down the options and rule out the possibility that Protestantism is part of the Church. On the other hand, if the church is just the sum total of all people that have faith in Christ and are saved, its easy to see that Protestants are part of that group. So that seems like the relevant claim to focus on–is the Church what traditional Christians have defined it as, or is it what Protestants say?

    You wrote:

    “The East and West are already one in the same spirit. We are both very unique parts of the same whole. However, parts can be fallible, as you said.”

    No, we are not one in the same spirit. Protestantism teaches things that are contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures and the Church, and in that sense Protestantism is an heretical movement. Though particular Protestant people are often very virtuous and many are ar better Christians than I am, *Protestantism* is an heretical group that is to varying degrees (depending on who you’re considering specifically) opposed to the Gospel.

    Even though you don’t agree that Orthodoxy is the Church, surely our denial of justification by faith alone, our understanding of the Eucharist as a sacrifice for sins, our belief in ministerial priesthood, our practice of praying to saints, and our denial of things like penal substitution and divine retribution should count as a drastically different understanding of things that are closely related to the Gospel (if not, in your understanding, identical to it). Even though we understand all of the above issues differently than Rome does, it still seems like we’ve got different views than Protestants, and therefore different spiritualities that are incompatible. I’m not saying we should get in fist fights or think everyone else in the other group is an anti-Christ, or that we can’t work together on social and moral and philosophical projects, but there’s some serious disagreements on who God is, on what grace and salvation are, etc. Maybe you meant something different by one in spirit, though?

    You wrote:

    “When you lay claim that the Eastern Tradition is itself the incorruptible tradition, that your patriarchs alone or incorruptible, you exclude us by laying claim to be the whole. “How can the hand say the foot I don’t need you?” When the hand says to the foot “I am the body” it has committed a sin of dividing itself against the other members of the body.”

    You’re right that we do exclude the West. Insofar as Western theology is a departure from the primitive Christianity that we see in the consensus of the Fathers, it cannot claim to be the Church. The Church does not teach heresy.

    It seems like your point about the hand saying to the foot “I am the body” assumes that the West didn’t break off from the East and separate itself from the institution that actually is the body of Christ. But why think that the West post-schism is part of the Church? Given that Western theology teaches heretical things like the Fillioque, Absolute divine simplicity, and in some cases justification by faith alone, sola Scriptura, penal substitution, etc., it sure doesn’t look like the Church Christ founded.

    You wrote:

    “That said, the entire argument as to whether or not the Church has the attributes of the body of Christ is, in fact a strawman. Both Eastern and Western traditions believe (whether by spirit or flesh) the Universal Church is the body of Christ: this is not the issue. The issue is whether The Eastern Church, solely, is the body of Christ.”

    Again, notice that the argument I will soon give is for the infallibility of the Church, but is not even intended to be an argument for the claim that the Orthodox Church is the Church. If the argument is correct though, Sola Scriptura is false, and so therefore Protestantism is false. So I’m not arguing for Orthodoxy per se, but just arguing for “Catholicism” broadly construed. The conclusions of my argument will be compatible with Roman Catholicism being the Church (even though I reject that claim, and realize that Rome understands the infallibility of the Church differently).

  5. Urorururur Says:

    I managed to keep this below two pages. I tried for hours to make it shorter; but you wrote alot for me to respond to.

    You say:
    “” The point of this post was not to argue for the infallibility of the Church.”
    -Very well, it was a statement of your belief, and thus is still open to scrutiny. My points still stand.

    You also say:
    ” I wasn’t arguing for the claim that Orthodoxy is the Church, or that Orthodoxy is infallible.”

    But then you say:
    “the Church has God’s power of infallibility”
    “”You’re right that we do exclude the West.”
    -If the Church has power of infallibility and the West is excluded then you are asserting the Authority of the Eastern Orthodoxy.

    Further more you say:
    “So I’m not arguing for Orthodoxy per se, but just arguing for “Catholicism” broadly construed.”
    “…assumes that the West didn’t break off from the East and separate itself from the institution that actually is the body of Christ.”
    -When you deny that Catholicism is part of your Church, and you are arguing for the authority of “Catholicism broadly construed” you are in fact arguing for “Orthodoxy per se.”

    I’m going to call you out and say you are either not keeping track of your own statements, or intentionally being misleading.

    Moving along, you make claim:
    ” infallibility of the Church, which if true would imply Protestantism is false”
    ” it cannot claim to be the Church. The Church does not teach heresy.””
    -We don’t claim to be the Church, only a part of it. As you said, a part can be flawed but the whole complete. And we very much believe it is perfect; we just don’t believe you are the whole thing. Furthermore, I wonder what heresy do you believe I have committed? I affirm Nicea and at least the early counsels.

    You Divide yourself against us by saying:
    “”we are not one in the same spirit.”
    -But that Spirit which lives in me has driven out demons, healed my brother of Tuberculosis, saved my father from a volcanic eruption, raised him from the dead, and provided for me my entire life. Moreover, he has literally spoken to me in my Childhood and drives me daily to seek him. Do you deny the work of His Spirit in me or are you claiming to yourself follow a Spirit other than the Most High God?

    If you serve Him, and I serve Him, and He fills us both with His Spirit by His Grace, then we are both his Children. We are one in the same Spirit.

    But you would define his Church by your own doctrine:
    ” If the Church is a visible…institution with sacraments that was started by Christ and continues by physical succession….we can…rule out the possibility that Protestantism is part of the Church.”
    -Even if the Universal Church is a physical legacy, Christians are made part of that legacy by God’s spirit. As such, no human, or institute of humanity, is vested with the authority to say it constitutes the entirety of the Body of Christ. The reason for this is they are not God. They cannot make a person a member of the Body, or cut them off from it. Only God can define his Church.

    “…surely our denial of justification by faith alone…(belief in) the Eucharist as a sacrifice for sins, …ministerial priesthood…praying to saints…denial of things like penal substitution…count as a drastically different understanding of things that are closely related to the Gospel.”
    -This should not divide us, because it has no power over what unites us in Christ: Godly Love.

    CONCLUSION:
    You cannot claim to be the entirety of God’s Church, because you lack the Authority to exclude from the Church what God has filled with his Spirit. Any claim that one part of the Universal Church has authority at the expense of another must defy the work of God in the lives of believers in other denominations.

  6. ZSDP Says:

    “I’m going to call you out and say you are either not keeping track of your own statements, or intentionally being misleading.”

    It’s clear to me that you, Uror[…], were either accidentally misreading MG or deliberately misrepresenting him. In either case, your response departs greatly from any relevance to his argument, since you ignore a number of important distinctions made by MG. Shape up or ship out.

  7. MG Says:

    Uror—

    You wrote:

    “-Very well, it was a statement of your belief, and thus is still open to scrutiny. My points still stand.”

    The points may stand, but that doesn’t mean this is the correct context in which to bring them up. We can discuss these matters in a later post about the claim that the Church is Christ’s body.

    You wrote:

    “-If the Church has power of infallibility and the West is excluded then you are asserting the Authority of the Eastern Orthodoxy.”

    Asserting is different from arguing. As of right now, I have asserted my belief that the Church is infallible and that Orthodoxy is the only Church. Soon, I will argue for the claim the Church is infallible. But this will not be an argument for the conclusion that Orthodoxy specifically is the Church.

    You wrote:

    “-When you deny that Catholicism is part of your Church, and you are arguing for the authority of “Catholicism broadly construed” you are in fact arguing for “Orthodoxy per se.””

    Denying that Rome is part of the Church is not the same as arguing for the conclusion. So when I make the argument and defend the premise that the Church is the body of Christ, I won’t be arguing for the conclusion that Rome is not a part of the body of Christ. This is obvious because the argument that I mention above (and will defend later) is for a conclusion that both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox (and even some Anglo-Catholics) can affirm. There are other arguments for the conclusion that Rome is not part of the Church, but they won’t be the focus of that post. The focus of the post will be over the question of whether or not there is such a thing as the infallible Church, not over the identity of that infallible Church.

    You wrote:

    “I’m going to call you out and say you are either not keeping track of your own statements, or intentionally being misleading.”

    Hopefully the above explanation clears up the apparent inconsistency. If not, please just ask for more clarification.

    You wrote:

    “-We don’t claim to be the Church, only a part of it. As you said, a part can be flawed but the whole complete. And we very much believe it is perfect; we just don’t believe you are the whole thing. Furthermore, I wonder what heresy do you believe I have committed? I affirm Nicea and at least the early counsels.”

    Even accepting the signs of the visible church that the Reformers gave, we should conclude that a group of Christians must teach correct biblical doctrine in order to be a true, real *visible* church. After all, the Reformers identify “rightly dividing the word” as a precondition for being the church. Would you say that a church that doesn’t teach the correct doctrines from the Bible is a true church? Or would you disagree with the ecclesiology of historic Protestantism?

    There are beliefs of the Church that are binding on human consciences and constitute Orthodox teaching in addition to the content of the explicit statements about Christology and Trinitarian theology in the ecumenical councils. It is heretical to deny that prayers offered to saints are not heard by the saints, and intercession is not offered in response. It is heretical to deny the perpetual virginity of Mary (though maybe you believe that? In which case, that would not be an area of heresy) which is affirmed in the councils and the consensus of the Fathers. It is heretical to deny that the Church is a visible, hierarchical, infallible institution; that is a teaching of the councils, but it is also part of the consensus of the Fathers. It is heretical to deny the ministerial priesthood and Apostolic succession; that is the teaching of the councils and the Fathers. It is heretical to deny that the Eucharist is the crucified and resurrected physical flesh of Christ, which is part of the consensus of the Fathers (and might even be in the Councils, though I don’t remember). It is heretical to deny baptismal regeneration, which is affirmed in the councils and is part of the consensus of the Fathers. Maybe you agree with some of the above; but whichever of the above points you disagree with is an issue on which you exercise *choice* in rejecting the teaching of the early Church.

    Would you agree with the idea that icons are a necessary part of liturgy? And would you agree that they are indwelt by divine power and have a sanctifying effect on the faithful? Do you think venerating them is necessary for members of the church? These are all taught by the seventh ecumenical council. Denying the seventh council is heresy by the standards of the ancient Church.

    You wrote:

    “-But that Spirit which lives in me has driven out demons, healed my brother of Tuberculosis, saved my father from a volcanic eruption, raised him from the dead, and provided for me my entire life. Moreover, he has literally spoken to me in my Childhood and drives me daily to seek him. Do you deny the work of His Spirit in me or are you claiming to yourself follow a Spirit other than the Most High God?
    If you serve Him, and I serve Him, and He fills us both with His Spirit by His Grace, then we are both his Children. We are one in the same Spirit.”

    When I said we are not one in the same spirit, I meant with respect to the Protestant-Orthodox doctrinal and spiritual divide. Protestantism as a group is not spiritually united to the Holy Spirit who dwells fully in the Orthodox Church. That doesn’t mean the Spirit doesn’t do things outside of the Church (which I obviously affirmed above), it just means that the Spirit does not endorse Protestantism insofar as it disagrees with Orthodoxy. And particular people can obviously practice virtue and perform miracles. But having such grace and participation in the Spirit is not sufficient for being the Church. Having the same Spirit in terms of the full indwelling of the Holy Spirit and his endorsement of all that the Orthodox Church teaches and does is not something Protestantism has. This is because Protestantism is not part of the visible hierarchical institution that administers sacraments to the faithful for their eternal life, and perpetuates through history from its foundation by Christ by means of Apostolic Succession. If you want to disagree with this definition of Church then feel free to do so; but if the definition is correct, then it entails that there is more to being the Church than just having faith in Christ and having some sort of participation in the grace of the Spirit.

    You wrote:

    “-Even if the Universal Church is a physical legacy, Christians are made part of that legacy by God’s spirit. As such, no human, or institute of humanity, is vested with the authority to say it constitutes the entirety of the Body of Christ. The reason for this is they are not God. They cannot make a person a member of the Body, or cut them off from it. Only God can define his Church.”

    This might be driving a wedge between the Spirit and institution. You seem to be assuming that the Spirit has not himself constituted the Church as a unique institution vested with Christ’s divine powers of immortality and infallibility. It seems like your claim “no human or institute is vested with the authority to say it constitutes the entire Body of Christ” is just a statement of Protestant ecclesiology. But this is not an argument that Protestant ecclesiology is correct. If all you’re doing is asserting this (like what I’ve been doing with respect to the claim that Orthodoxy is the Church) that’s fine; but it seems like you are trying to challenge something I said.

    Also, why not think that Christians are made part of the Church’s legacy through the Spirit in *the sacrament of Chrismation*? Just because the Spirit incorporates us into the body of Christ doesn’t mean that the incorporation is something non-physical or separable from institutional membership. Again, you seem to be inferring “non-physical/institutional/hierarchical/sacramental” from “spiritual” which implies a dialectic of opposition between the physical flesh of Christ and the Spirit that dwelt in Christ.

    Just because the Church isn’t identical to a divine person or the divine essence doesn’t mean it lacks divine properties. If you accept Chalcedonian Christology, or the Christology of Maximus in the sixth Council, you should affirm a communication of divine energies to the humanity of Christ. At least one human is vested with the authority to say He is the whole body of Christ—Jesus himself. And then that just moves us to the question of whether the Church is the body of Christ in a literal physical sense. All I’m saying is *if it is true that the Church is Christ (in terms of his flesh)* then what you are saying is false (though arguing about that here is not my intention).

    You wrote:

    “-This should not divide us, because it has no power over what unites us in Christ: Godly Love.”

    Would you say that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are part of the church? They disagree with both of us on doctrine but claim to love God too.

    Also, where is the fullness of that Love found? Is it found in a fellowship of like-minded believers? Or is it found in the Eucharist, which is the physical flesh of Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit’s uncreated love?

    Those that teach heresy cannot be part of the Church. That’s part of why Paul gives instructions to excommunicate heretics. If those excommunicated people claimed to love God, would that be a sufficient reason to consider them members of the Church?

    You wrote:

    “CONCLUSION:
    You cannot claim to be the entirety of God’s Church, because you lack the Authority to exclude from the Church what God has filled with his Spirit. Any claim that one part of the Universal Church has authority at the expense of another must defy the work of God in the lives of believers in other denominations.”

    Again, this assumes that “church” is the sum total of all who have faith in Christ. This Protestant definition of the church needs to be argued for, not asserted, if you are going to use these claims as a response to what I’ve said in this post. If the definition is true then it will indeed entail that we are both part of the church. But if it is false, it will entail that you are not part of the Church, and leave open the possibility that Orthodoxy is part of the Church (along with Rome and Anglo-Catholics). Furthermore, if it can then be successfully argued that Rome and Anglicanism are heretical, that will entail that we are the unique visible Church of Christ on earth, and that the Fathers have the authority to declare non-Orthodox teaching heretical, and to excommunicate those that disagree. It wouldn’t entail that all non-Orthodox go to hell or that there is no sense in which Western Christians can be called Christians, (heaven forbid such a monstrosity) but it would entail that the group called “the Church” in the New Testament is the Eastern Orthodox Church.

  8. Urorururur Says:

    MG
    First of all, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. To be honest, I find this exhausting and I have other things to do in the Holiday Season.

    I have to say, I’m impressed that you are able to make time to be so exhaustive in your posts. That said, know that it is no lack of time that makes my posts shorter; I am doing my utmost to be concise for your sake and mine.

    Now then:
    “Denying that Rome is part of the Church is not the same as arguing for the conclusion. So when I make the argument and defend the premise that the Church is the body of Christ, I won’t be arguing for the conclusion that Rome is not a part of the body of Christ.”
    -Fair enough. But this was still stated as being part of your belief; it was the belief I was critiquing. Although, I acknowledge this may not have been fair.

    It is chiefly not my concern to discredit your Church, but to defend the reality of the Protestant Churches. You reject us as heretics. This is a belief, not a mere premise. To be blunt, but not rude, I’d prefer to discuss things that one of us believes; not some premise neither of us affirms. You do not believe the Roman Catholic Church is part of Christ’s body: this is expressed in your latest post.

    “Hopefully the above explanation clears up the apparent inconsistency. If not, please just ask for more clarification.”
    -I think we’re good. I’m sorry if I came off as rude; I expected you to argue for what you believed. Either way, my critique itself holds true.

    Because this has started here, and you have given me so much to respond to, for the sake of readers, I will make at least one more post here. Though, you can feel free to move it if you like.

    Regarding my cutoff-ness from the Church:
    ” It is heretical to deny that prayers offered to saints are not heard by the saints, and intercession is not offered in response.”
    -Very well. By that standard and others you call me heretic. I was not aware these were considered anathematizable. Thank you for being clear.

    As for your challenge directed at myself:
    ” Would you say that a church that doesn’t teach the correct doctrines from the Bible is a true church? Or would you disagree with the ecclesiology of historic Protestantism?”
    -I do not believe that any church has a completely correct doctrine. I believe only God can prescribe who serves him, and who has relationship with. Though, this is not related to the challenge I presented to you.

    ” But having such grace and participation in the Spirit is not sufficient for being the Church. Having the same Spirit in terms of the full indwelling of the Holy Spirit and his endorsement of all that the Orthodox Church teaches and does is not something Protestantism has.”
    -I have not claimed we are the Church. Neither have I claimed to have endorsement.

    I have simply claimed that by the Spirit I have fellowship with Christ, and therefore assurance of Salvation. No one comes to the father except by Christ, as He states. If the Church is Christ, then having Salvation means I am one with the Church. Likewise, if the Church is Christ, if by the Spirit I have Union with Christ, I have Union with the Church.

    This was my specific challenge to you, which you have not yet answered. If Christ is the Church, as you claim, and I have relationship with Christ, then I have relationship with the Church. If I have relationship with the Church, and it is outside your doctrine, then your doctrinal system is not itself the Church and I am not a heretic.

    I know your doctrine disagrees with mine; I am not challenging you on doctrine. I am challenging the Physical evidence for a physical claim by merit of my own subjective experience (which you can deny, obviously), and miracles.

    ” But this is not an argument that Protestant ecclesiology is correct.”
    -I have not been trying to present a Protestant ecclesiology any more than you have been arguing for your own beliefs. I have presented what I was asserting above.

    ” seem to be inferring “non-physical/institutional/hierarchical/sacramental””
    -I have made no such inference. It may be physical.

    ” All I’m saying is *if it is true that the Church is Christ (in terms of his flesh)* then what you are saying is false (though arguing about that here is not my intention).”
    -And what I am saying is, very well. Lets test that hypothesis with the evidence of miracles and my own relationship. Though, you are free to deny either.

    ” Those that teach heresy cannot be part of the Church.”
    -If you seek to make matters of praying to the Saints an issue of Salvation, and if you seek to divide the Church thusly, I cannot stop you.

    “Again, this assumes that “church” is the sum total of all who have faith in Christ.”
    -I was obviously not clear enough in my premises. This assumes that Christ is the Church, as you claimed. Fullness of the Spirit is physical evidence of communion with Christ, and therefore the Church.

    ” It wouldn’t entail that all non-Orthodox go to hell or that there is no sense in which Western Christians can be called Christians”
    -I’m relieved but confused. There are people who have relationship with Christ (who is the church) but are not part of the Church? Can you explain this to me?

    NEW THOUGHT:
    1. You say that you are the Church.
    2. That you are the body of Christ.
    3. That you have the same attributes as the actual body of Christ
    4. That certain members, or organs within the organism, can be defective.
    5. But was any element of God corrupted by sin? Any cell? Anything metaphysical or physical?

    Conclusion: How then can your Church, being the body, contain sin? I know if it contained sin you can still say it was perfect by the fact of composition. But Christ is not composed of sinful material.

  9. Catz206 Says:

    Just a quick question (not looking for a debate):

    Jesus says He is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. If the Church stands in the place of Christ, then does this mean Protestants are damned after all? Is it different because the Church is just the “body”? An explanation might help clarify this all for me- thankx (just a quick response would help me out)

  10. Urorururur Says:

    Hmmm..

    Catz, that actually puts my own objections in perspective.

    An explanation might solve my objection to your model as well.

  11. MG Says:

    Uror—

    You wrote:

    “You reject us as heretics. This is a belief, not a mere premise. To be blunt, but not rude, I’d prefer to discuss things that one of us believes; not some premise neither of us affirms.”

    Could you explain what you mean by this, specifically “I’d prefer to discuss things one of us believes, not premises neither of us affirms” and how it relates to what I said?

    You wrote:

    “-I think we’re good. I’m sorry if I came off as rude; I expected you to argue for what you believed. Either way, my critique itself holds true.”

    No worries. If your critique consists in affirming that I must explain why Roman Catholicism isn’t part of the actual (Orthodox) Catholic Church, then yes, I do need to be able to explain that in order to be reasonable in rejecting Roman ecclesiology. And though I think the arguments for that conclusion are rather good, I don’t intend to discuss them on this post (though I could summarize them if you’d like).

    You wrote:

    “-I do not believe that any church has a completely correct doctrine.”

    Okay. In that case, do you reject the need for right doctrine as a mark of the church, or would you just say one has to be “roughly correct, not perfect in all details”? Or do you take a different position?

    You wrote:

    “-I have not claimed we are the Church. Neither have I claimed to have endorsement.”

    My statement was unclear, sorry. What I meant was that if Catholic ecclesiology is correct, then participation of some sort in the Spirit is not sufficient for being *part* of the Church. So if our ecclesiology is correct, then even if some Protestants have a kind of participation in the Spirit, that doesn’t by itself imply they are part of the Church along with the Orthodox.

    You wrote:

    “This was my specific challenge to you, which you have not yet answered…”

    See below in reply to “I’m relieved but confused….”

    You wrote:

    “I am challenging the Physical evidence for a physical claim by merit of my own subjective experience (which you can deny, obviously), and miracles.”

    As far as I can tell, your subjective experience does not imply you are a member of the visible society Christ founded. Membership requires the anointing and teaching of the Spirit in Chrismation, and eating from Christ’s flesh and blood (which requires having a priest who can consecrate the elements and who can administer confession to prepare you).

    You wrote:

    “-I have not been trying to present a Protestant ecclesiology any more than you have been arguing for your own beliefs. I have presented what I was asserting above.”

    Your argument that you are part of the Church is an argument for Protestant ecclesiology, insofar as you are arguing that faith in Christ and a measure of union with his Spirit is sufficient for being the Church. That is something Orthodoxy would deny, and we would say those are only necessary, not sufficient conditions.

    You wrote:

    “-I have made no such inference. It may be physical.”

    I don’t think you’d agree that the Church requires a Eucharist administered by a tri-fold hierarchy with Apostolic Succession. That’s what I mean by physical.

    You wrote:

    “-And what I am saying is, very well. Lets test that hypothesis with the evidence of miracles and my own relationship. Though, you are free to deny either.”

    I don’t think that the performance of miracles or an experience of the Holy Spirit will entail membership in the visible society that is the Church. So again the real issue seems to be whose definition of the Church is correct. If the Protestant definition is correct, the perhaps the Orthodox are part of the church. If the Orthodox definition is correct, then Protestants are not part of the Church.

    You wrote:

    “-If you seek to make matters of praying to the Saints an issue of Salvation, and if you seek to divide the Church thusly, I cannot stop you.”

    Its not an issue of salvation in the sense that “no one can have personal union with Christ unless they pray to created persons that have been glorified by Christ.” But it is an issue of salvation in two different senses. First, if you know that the Church’s teachings are the infallible teachings of Christ and you reject a teaching of the Church, you are rejecting the infallible teachings of Christ himself. That isn’t to say I think you are in that position, though. Second, the Church’s practices and beliefs provide an environment that is more conductive to and helpful toward Christian growth and perseverance (what we call salvation) than environments outside the Church.

    What do you mean by divide the Church? If the Church is the invisible group of people that have faith in Christ and some degree of union with the Spirit, then my group’s teachings can’t actually divide the church, right?

    But if the division you are talking about is on the level of the visible church, then isn’t the problem on the Protestant side? Didn’t Protestants break away from the prior standard that Rome and the East had believed historically—that prayers to saints is part of the faith?

    You wrote:

    “-This assumes that Christ is the Church, as you claimed. Fullness of the Spirit is physical evidence of communion with Christ, and therefore the Church.”

    How is fullness of the Spirit evidence that one is part of the physical object that is Christ’s body?

    You wrote:

    -I’m relieved but confused. There are people who have relationship with Christ (who is the church) but are not part of the Church? Can you explain this to me?

    I explained this in my post in the section starting with “The Church is, as St. John Chrysostom…” and ends with “…Eucharist, Tri-fold Ministry, etc.) of the organism.” Tell me what you think of that section.

    You wrote:

    “How then can your Church, being the body, contain sin? I know if it contained sin you can still say it was perfect by the fact of composition. But Christ is not composed of sinful material.”

    First, what matters for the claim that the Church is Christ’s body is what is true of the whole. The whole is the body of Christ, not one of the parts by itself. This goes back to Paul’s discourse “can the ear claim to be the whole body?” etc.

    Second, we actually think that Christ’s humanity inherits physical and spiritual corruption. So we’re fine with saying there are parts of Christ’s body that are corrupted. We think the unassumed is the unhealed. If Christ didn’t assume corrupt human nature and enter into our corrupt condition, the problem with our nature wouldn’t actually be healed. Christ in an uncorrupted nature would heal an uncorrupted nature, which is useless. What needs healing—and therefore Incarnation—is corrupt humanity.

  12. MG Says:

    Catz–

    You wrote:

    “Jesus says He is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. If the Church stands in the place of Christ, then does this mean Protestants are damned after all? Is it different because the Church is just the “body”? An explanation might help clarify this all for me- thankx (just a quick response would help me out)”

    In the section starting with “The Church is, as St. John Chrysostom…” that ends “…Eucharist, Tri-fold Ministry, etc.) of the organism.” I address this issue. Tell me if that helps.

    We don’t say the Church stands in the place of Christ. The Church is Christ in the same sense that you are your body. It is his flesh, not an intermediary between us and his flesh or his person.

    No, it doesn’t follow that Protestants are necessarily damned. And you’re right that the reason why concerns the Church as the Body of Christ specifically. As I explain in the post, union with Christ comes in degrees. The lowest degree is just natural union–being human by sharing Christ’s humanity. The highest degree is physical union–personally being part of the physical object that is Christ’s body. But there are people that practice divine virtue, and thus have personal union with Christ, but are not part of that physical object which is composed out of people that physically partake of Christ’s glorified humanity.

  13. Urorururur Says:

    MG
    Thank you for making time to discuss this. Although I do not agree, I do find discussing religion in of itself to be edifying.

    First of all, you asked me to clarify a confusing statement:
    “Could you explain what you mean by this, specifically “I’d prefer to discuss things one of us believes, not premises neither of us affirms” and how it relates to what I said?”

    -My argument was that you are not the whole church, and unless you prove that the West is not, your statement will not stand. You said you didn’t argue for that conclusion, I was simply pointing out that you believed it and even stated it and that it is necessary to your beliefs. I incorrectly expected you to do this. My challenging the fact that your beliefs do not follow from what you presented was legitimate; though, I will allow you to defend your view of the Catholic Church on another post, largely because the conversation has significantly deviated from that point. I’m fine letting this pass.

    Regarding the way I view our differences you asked:
    “What do you mean by divide the Church? If the Church is the invisible group of people that have faith in Christ and some degree of union with the Spirit, then my group’s teachings can’t actually divide the church, right?”

    -It’s notable that you don’t believe this. Because don’t don’t believe this you set yourself against fellow believers and deny that we have communion in the same body. You say, “this is part of the Church,” and, “this is not.” You are prescribing what the Church is in a divisive way. I would rather see the church described in a holistic way.

    My answer was to call for observable evidence, to appeal to a holistic view of the Church. I sighted the Spirit as Evidence. Obviously you don’t accept that as…

    You said:
    “How is fullness of the Spirit evidence that one is part of the physical object that is Christ’s body?”

    And you said:
    “Membership requires the anointing and teaching of the Spirit in Chrismation, and eating from Christ’s flesh and blood”

    And you said:
    “The Church requires a Eucharist administered by a tri-fold hierarchy with Apostolic Succession.”

    And you said:
    ““I don’t think that the performance of miracles or an experience of the Holy Spirit will entail membership in the visible society that is the Church.”

    -You maintain, physical membership for a physical tradition. This makes sense. But you must claim to be the whole of Christ, and not merely a physical component, if you want to claim to have his attributes.

    However, you maintain your Church is his flesh:
    “The Church is Christ in the same sense that you are your body. It is his flesh, not an intermediary between us and his flesh or his person.”

    And you maintain his flesh was corrupted:
    “We actually think that Christ’s humanity inherits physical and spiritual corruption”

    -Christ’s body was a not merely flesh, but also spirit. His infallibility was not found in his parts, but in his whole. If you are only his flesh, and not his Spirit, you are not the whole, and not infallible. Moreover, by your own claims, you are laying claim to being a corrupted aspect of Christ. If you are corrupted, then you are not infallible.

    I was trying to prove you did not lay exhaustive claim to spiritual membership. But I see now you never even tried to make that claim; if you do not, you are only claiming to be a component, and may not claim the attributes of the whole because you do not compose the whole.

    This was my original point: you are not the entirety of Christ, and do not have claim to his attributes.

    If I have misunderstood, and you do make the claim that you compose his Spirit and body, you must account for spiritual evidence.

    Regarding this point you said:
    “So again the real issue seems to be whose definition of the Church is correct.”
    -Of course. But, if your definition is correct, there will be evidence. It is our role, as humans, to describe God’s work, not prescribe it.

    Although, at this point, evidence is irrelevant, as my argument against infallibility seems to have been made for me by you.

  14. Urorururur Says:

    Pardon the double post. I made a confusing typo.
    THIS:
    “-It’s notable that you don’t believe this. Because don’t don’t believe this you set yourself against fellow believers and deny that we have ”

    SHOULD READ:
    -It’s notable that you don’t believe this. Because you don’t believe this you set yourself against fellow believers and deny that we have

  15. catz206 Says:

    k thankx mg

  16. Urorururur Says:

    I was thinking I should clarify something before it becomes confusing:

    I quoted you saying:
    “The Church is Christ in the same sense that you are your body. It is his flesh, not an intermediary between us and his flesh or his person.”

    And responded:
    “I was trying to prove you did not lay exhaustive claim to spiritual membership. But I see now you never even tried to make that claim;”

    This is because functionality of being an intermediary is part of the whole of Christ. Functionality is a property, I’d say specifically of his Spirit, but if you claimed it was also a function of body, I’d give that to you.

    The point is, you are not claiming to be the whole functionally; and if that function is a spiritual attribute, you are not claiming to be the whole spiritually either.

    I just wanted to clarify that before it confused anyone.

  17. Disposable Soul Says:

    Does this mean Urorurur wins?

    -Nick

    • ZSDP Says:

      Haha. I assume you’re asking because there hasn’t been a response for over a month? Well, it doesn’t really work that way—especially since this is a blog, and many of us are struggling to make enough money for food. Typically, a debate under these circumstances has to be evaluated by the observers. Who has made better arguments? Who was the most persuasive? Unless the unanswered arguments are completely and utterly damning, or the interlocutor has a demonstrated habit of avoiding points he or she can’t answer, it’s usually best not to consider them as deal breakers.

      So, do you think Uror[…] made better arguments and was more persuasive?

  18. Disposable Soul Says:

    @ZSDP

    Money is of course a viable option to be sought after, I understand. I, however, do some of my own blogging and would disagree on a semantic issue that if the moderator has time to post new opinions, he would have time to answer these interesting questions. But I digress, money is of the essence in these difficult times.

    Both sides make convincing arguments, but I believe Uror’s viewpoint is more in line with what I believe. Also, I remain unconvinced that the EO Church is infallible and eagerly await MG’s response.

    What do you think, sir/madam? Who here carries the torch of superior argumentation and persuasion?

    -DS

  19. Urorururur Says:

    @ZSDP
    “Typically, a debate under these circumstances has to be evaluated by the observers.”
    -Regarding that point: considering my audience I would suggest it is impossible to win. Though, winning was not necessarily my intent.

    Regarding the arguments as they stand:
    The issue I presented is one of logical contradiction at this point. I don’t think I should need to reiterate it though. If the logical contradiction is addressed, then the issue of evidences must be unanswered.

    At this point no argument or clarification has been presented. Though, that certainly does not mean MG is wrong; neither does it indicate I’ve won. However, in any other arena, I would accept a lack of argument as a concession.

    Again, a concession does not imply that MG is incorrect; it only implies that, either from frustration or exhaustion or simply lacking a counter to my point, he’s made no answer.

    If we are truth oriented, as his blog post claims to be then the arguments are something to consider. And certainly, if I’ve confused people, which I know I do at times, I would be happy to explain in a simpler way. It’s very hard to keep things comprehensible when one is trying to answer a four page essay.

  20. Urorururur Says:

    Er, that was supposed to read “the issue of evidences must be answered”. I reformatted the sentence and missed that word.

    Curse my editing powers.

    And excuse my double post.

  21. ZSDP Says:

    Disposable Soul –

    “I, however, do some of my own blogging and would disagree on a semantic issue that if the moderator has time to post new opinions, he would have time to answer these interesting questions.”

    This isn’t necessarily true. For one thing, MG often prepares posts well in advance, so that posting them is a simple matter of copy-pasting into the post editor. Also, it is for many people less time consuming to articulate their views than it is for them to think of satisfying responses to criticisms of their views. These considerations, in conjunction with the aforementioned struggle for survival, I think adequately account for MG’s posting activities.

    “. . . I believe Uror’s viewpoint is more in line with what I believe.”

    People often say this, but I have never understood how it is really relevant. However, that is neither here nor there . . .

    “Also, I remain unconvinced that the EO Church is infallible and eagerly await MG’s response.”

    I would like to point out, for the sake of continued clarification, that MG did not set out to argue for the infallibility of the Eastern Orthodox Church in this post, but rather to explicate a particular ecclesiological position. If I remember correctly—I haven’t actually read this thread since it was first played out—he has continually insisted as much, saying that the argument you and Uro[. . .] seek will appear in a later post. This being the case, I don’t blame you for remaining unconvinced of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s infallibility. But thick over my memory are the fogs of time, so I could be mistaken.

    “What do you think, sir/madam? Who here carries the torch of superior argumentation and persuasion?”

    Am I so opaque? Since Uro[. . .] seems to feel that he has struck at an important point that requires an answer, I would prefer not to say—in the interest of fairness, of course.

  22. ZSDP Says:

    Urorururur –

    “Regarding that point: considering my audience I would suggest it is impossible to win. Though, winning was not necessarily my intent.”

    Though I do my best not to view debates in terms of contest, I am sorry that you feel that the possibility of convincing our readership is not open to you. I do feel that I can say with some confidence, though, that the authors of this blog are all open to being convinced we are wrong, which is most clearly evidenced by the fact that we were all at one time or another convinced that we held wrong beliefs about Christ and his Church.

  23. MG Says:

    Uror—

    You referred to a contradiction in your discussion with ZSDP. What are you specifically referring to?

    You wrote:

    “-My argument was that you are not the whole church, and unless you prove that the West is not, your statement will not stand. You said you didn’t argue for that conclusion, I was simply pointing out that you believed it and even stated it and that it is necessary to your beliefs. I incorrectly expected you to do this. My challenging the fact that your beliefs do not follow from what you presented was legitimate; though, I will allow you to defend your view of the Catholic Church on another post, largely because the conversation has significantly deviated from that point. I’m fine letting this pass.”

    Okay.

    You wrote:

    Regarding the way I view our differences you asked:
    “What do you mean by divide the Church? If the Church is the invisible group of people that have faith in Christ and some degree of union with the Spirit, then my group’s teachings can’t actually divide the church, right?”

    “-It’s notable that you don’t believe this. Because you don’t believe this you set yourself against fellow believers and deny that we have communion in the same body. You say, “this is part of the Church,” and, “this is not.” You are prescribing what the Church is in a divisive way. I would rather see the church described in a holistic way.”

    Actually because you will not be united to the historical Church as it was understood for the first milennium of Christianity, it seems you, not the Orthodox, are dividing Christianity. What could justify breaking communion with the historic Christian Church?

    Again, I don’t see how on your own premises you can object to the fact that the Orthodox do not commune other Christians or accept them as members of the Church. The fact that I don’t believe this isn’t important. Instead, I’m working outside my own biased, limited perspective by trying to see things from where you’re standing. I’m taking on your presuppositions to try and show what they imply.

    Also, don’t you think that some people who claim to be Christian are not part of the church as you understand it? If so, why does my decision about who is in the Church count as divisive, whereas yours doesn’t?

    You wrote:

    “My answer was to call for observable evidence, to appeal to a holistic view of the Church. I sighted the Spirit as Evidence. Obviously you don’t accept that as…

    You maintain, physical membership for a physical tradition. This makes sense. But you must claim to be the whole of Christ, and not merely a physical component, if you want to claim to have his attributes.”

    Orthodoxy claims to access the full range of divine power in Christ’s spirit and his flesh. But that doesn’t imply that no one else has something less than full participation. Saying the Orthodox Church fully partakes of the divine power of the Holy Spirit within Christ’s human spirit and human flesh does not seem to preclude others having a lesser degree of participation. Why would it?

    You wrote:

    “-Christ’s body was a not merely flesh, but also spirit. His infallibility was not found in his parts, but in his whole. If you are only his flesh, and not his Spirit, you are not the whole, and not infallible. Moreover, by your own claims, you are laying claim to being a corrupted aspect of Christ. If you are corrupted, then you are not infallible.”

    Claiming Christ inherited corruption doesn’t imply that his body as a whole is presently corrupted. Its members are, but the whole has been saved and constituted incorruptible—something completed at the resurrection.

    The Holy Spirit is not a part of Christ. The uncreated person of the Holy Spirit empowers the human spirit/soul of Christ and the body/flesh of Christ, but He (the Spirit) is not identical to Christ’s created human physical body or his created human spiritual substance. But yes, as I said above, “we have the mind of Christ”, not just his body. Others have it to some degrees in some ways, they just don’t have a complete participation (of the highest degree) or a full range of participation in every way they could partake of Christ (sharing in every aspect to the same degree).

    You wrote:

    “I was trying to prove you did not lay exhaustive claim to spiritual membership. But I see now you never even tried to make that claim; if you do not, you are only claiming to be a component, and may not claim the attributes of the whole because you do not compose the whole.

    This was my original point: you are not the entirety of Christ, and do not have claim to his attributes.

    If I have misunderstood, and you do make the claim that you compose his Spirit and body, you must account for spiritual evidence.”

    Again, having some degree of participation in some ways (which Protestants surely have) doesn’t imply having the highest degree in every way.

    You wrote:

    “Regarding this point you said:
    “So again the real issue seems to be whose definition of the Church is correct.”
    -Of course. But, if your definition is correct, there will be evidence. It is our role, as humans, to describe God’s work, not prescribe it.”

    I agree there will be evidence, but what are you thinking of?

  24. Urorururur Says:

    MG
    Thank you for responding. 🙂

    TANGENT:
    You said:
    “Actually because you will not be united to the historical Church….you, not the Orthodox, are dividing Christianity. What could justify breaking communion with the historic Christian Church?”
    -First of all, my ancestors were excommunicated. I never left or broke communion with the church, historic or other wise.

    The inability for me to be faithful to what God has shown me and fully embrace certain doctrines of your Church has caused you to deny that I am part of the same body. I thought once that it was possible to commune with all fellow believers and never would dream of breaking communion with the Church, nor do I believe that I have. But, if certain people deny it to me I can’t force them not to; only the Holy Spirit can judge them. Ultimately, this has nothing to do with the argument I made and I have no idea why we’re still discussing this.

    CLARIFICATION:
    Before I go further I want to clear up some things.

    You also said:
    “The Holy Spirit is not a part of Christ…. (the Spirit) is not identical to Christ’s created human physical body or his created human spiritual substance.”
    -I wasn’t talking about the Holy Spirit. That’s a different person from Christ and, I was talking about the Spiritual essence of Christ.

    “ “we have the mind of Christ”, not just his body.”
    -Yes, but I didn’t get the impression you were actually claiming to be his mind. To have the attribute you must be the thing with the attribute. Either way, my argument has nothing to with the mind of Christ.

    “Others have it to some degrees in some ways, they just don’t have a complete participation”
    -Yes, you’ve said that I didn’t forget. It has to do with the evidences I presented, but not the logical objection I noted you hadn’t addressed.

    Though, if the mind of Christ is found outside your Church, then categorically your Church is not the entire mind of Christ, and therefore not the whole of Christ. In the following you will see why that is important. Which was my point, and why I brought that up as evidence to begin with.

    MY POINT:
    You dropped my argument entirely; I think that may be because I didn’t express it clearly. I wasn’t trying to say “see your church is corrupt so you’re not infallible.” As always I am arguing that your Church is not the entirety of Christ.

    Your logic about composition must acknowledge that the properties of the whole do not pertain to the parts necessarily and vise versa; just because a bike can roll down hill does not mean its pedals can. As such, in order to lay claim to the whole, you must be the whole. However, the arguments you have presented are only logically able to support the historic Church being an aspect of Christ: namely the body.

    I am fine allowing, for now, that Christ’s body is the Church. But is more than a body; he has a functional metaphysical essence or property (whatever you want to call it). This is part of His identity, and his entirety. In order to claim to be the entirety, you must also claim to be the functional essence or property. In this case I’m addressing the function of intercessor: something that you denied your Church denied being.

    If you are correct, your Church is not the whole functionally, almost certainly not the whole spiritually. You cannot lay claim to infallibility based on that argument. Though, incidentally you might have it for other reasons. If you are incorrect and your Church is the whole including function, you must either deny the salvation of Christians outside your Church, or find an alternative way to explain it.

    This is a seemingly flagrant contradiction, and degrees of participation does not explain it. I am open to having misunderstood you, or perhaps there is a way I have not considered that can make sense of this. After that, the issue of tangible evidence still exists; but there is no point in addressing evidence if the underlying premises are not rational.

    EVIDENCE:
    ”I agree there will be evidence, but what are you thinking of?”
    After we have reached a conclusion, let us see which of our Churches is actually continuing the Great Commission. If one is not, it is not Christ.

    POINT OF CLARITY:
    You said:
    “We don’t say the Church stands in the place of Christ. The Church is…..not an intermediary between us and his flesh or his person.”

    If you are not claiming to be that, then you are categorically not the whole. Christ cannot be divided. If you are not the whole, then you do not possess it’s attributes.

  25. Urorururur Says:

    @ ZSDP

    You said:
    “which is most clearly evidenced by the fact that we were all at one time or another convinced that we held wrong beliefs about Christ and his Church.”

    I certainly could be mistaken. To test that idea, just out of curiosity, what is the burden of proof here? What would it take to convince you that the Eastern Church does not constitute the entirety of the body of Christ? Or more so, of my own claims to participation with Christ?

    I do not deny the legitimacy of the Eastern Church, nor do I deny the full communion, of Eastern believers with Christ. I want nothing more than to embrace the Eastern Orthodoxy, Western Orthodoxy, and Protestant denominations as fellow believers. However, I feel that at every turn members of your Church seek to ostracize members of our Church over issues of Saint Reverence, and infallibility. Unless your Church can accept our Church, I doubt that any true reconciliation or understanding is possible.

    As evidenced by my continual failure to get my argument even recognized, much less addressed. I understand there was alot of mis-communication at first, but I feel I’ve stated it very clearly now.

  26. Urorururur Says:

    Another thing I realize I should have addressed

    @ZDSP

    You said:
    “I would like to point out, for the sake of continued clarification, that MG did not set out to argue for the infallibility of the Eastern Orthodox Church in this post,….If I remember correctly… continually insisted as much, saying that the argument you and Uro[. . .] seek will appear in a later post.”

    -MG did argue for Church Authority. The argument he has continually said he would address in another post relates to whether the Catholic Church is part of that. I made no qualms about that.

    What I have made qualms about is what he argued for: Church Authority and Infallibility. I should point out, both of those are in the title and the introduction, and the subject matter.

    My objection is that MG’s argument that the Church is Christ and so has Christ’s attributes (authority and infallibility) stands in blatant contradiction with his statement that the Church does not function as an intercessor (see earlier post). Furthermore, if Christ/Church does function as an intercessor, then MG needs to account for how intercession is available outside of his Church given he believes if his Church is Christ and his denial of protestant participation in that.

    These objections are on topic, and fair. I understand if MG cannot or will not address them now; but that should not stop others from pointing out thinking errors.

  27. ZSDP Says:

    Uro[. . .] –

    “To test that idea, just out of curiosity, what is the burden of proof here? What would it take to convince you that the Eastern Church does not constitute the entirety of the body of Christ? Or more so, of my own claims to participation with Christ?”

    Passing over what sounds to me like a thinly veiled accusation of dishonesty, let me see if I can answer these questions. Nota bene, of course, that these answers are off the top of my head, and so aren’t necessarily definitive for myself or the other authors of this blog.

    Let me just say that it is easier for us to accept that you participate in Christ than that the Eastern Orthodox Church is not the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (i.e. Body of Christ). We already believe that all of humanity participates in Christ, as MG has repeatedly said here and elsewhere, so that isn’t really a point of contention—except insofar as we have radically different ideas about what said participation amounts to.

    The relevant work to be done by you, then, is to convince us that the Eastern Orthodox Church “does not constitute the entirety of the body of Christ.” This would be difficult, to say the least, especially since you voice some hopes of reconciling the varying denominations in a way that would require some self-deception on the part of the Catholic (broadly-defined) traditions. For instance, we really can’t be Orthodox and say that Roman Catholics (or Protestants, or whatever else) are in the Church, as this is contradictory to the dogma of the Church. (Again, let me emphasize that this state of being outside the Church is not akin to being wholly without participation in Christ or completely without hope for salvation.)

    Your case would have to address at least three issues, maybe more: infallibility, normativity, and catholicity. Addressing them in that order would probably be most effective. In any case, if you can show that your view regarding the first two issues is at least as likely as ours, you would be in a much better position to make an effective critique of our notion of catholicity than you are now. I don’t know whether that’s helpful to you, but that seems to be the best argumentative strategy from my point of view.

    As for your follow-up comment . . . I’ll excuse myself from acknowledging it any further than this, since it really only pertains to what I’ve said in a superficial way. If MG wants to address it, that’s his prerogative. I will only say that your plaintive and impotent fist-pounding is growing a bit aggravating, and you should consider modifying your tone in future comments.

  28. Urorururur Says:

    @ ZSDP

    Okay! Thanks for responding. You had some good advice! I just had some notes:

    You mentioned:
    “infallibility, normativity, and catholicity”

    And said:
    “if you can show that your view regarding the first two issues….as likely as ours, you would…..make an effective critique of our notion …..”

    -Well, I’ve been trying to address infallibility first. Though, via polemics, rather than apologetics. It’s good to know I’m following your advice thus far. 😉 I’ll bear this in mind first and foremost when I make future arguments.

  29. MG Says:

    Uror—

    You wrote:

    “-First of all, my ancestors were excommunicated. I never left or broke communion with the church, historic or other wise.”

    By denying the teachings of the historic Christian Church a person effectively excommunicates himself or herself. And insofar as someone remains separated from the historic Church by will, he or she effectively excommunicates himself or herself.

    You wrote:

    “The inability for me to be faithful to what God has shown me and fully embrace certain doctrines of your Church has caused you to deny that I am part of the same body. I thought once that it was possible to commune with all fellow believers and never would dream of breaking communion with the Church, nor do I believe that I have. But, if certain people deny it to me I can’t force them not to; only the Holy Spirit can judge them. Ultimately, this has nothing to do with the argument I made and I have no idea why we’re still discussing this.”

    I agree that this is a side-track from our original conversation. But it seems you brought it up. I thought you claimed I was dividing the Church. Was I wrong to think this?

    You wrote:

    “-I wasn’t talking about the Holy Spirit. That’s a different person from Christ and, I was talking about the Spiritual essence of Christ.”

    I was confused because you wrote the following:

    “-Christ’s body was a not merely flesh, but also spirit. His infallibility was not found in his parts, but in his whole. If you are only his flesh, and not his Spirit, you are not the whole, and not infallible.”

    Normally when people capitalize the “S” in “spirit” they mean Holy Spirit. And the Church is not the particular person that is the Holy Spirit.

    You wrote:

    “To have the attribute you must be the thing with the attribute.”

    Do you (the particular human being that you are) have any of Christ’s attributes?

    You wrote:

    “-Yes, you’ve said that I didn’t forget. It has to do with the evidences I presented, but not the logical objection I noted you hadn’t addressed.
    Though, if the mind of Christ is found outside your Church, then categorically your Church is not the entire mind of Christ, and therefore not the whole of Christ. In the following you will see why that is important. Which was my point, and why I brought that up as evidence to begin with.”

    I try to address “the following” below.

    You wrote:

    “MY POINT:
    You dropped my argument entirely; I think that may be because I didn’t express it clearly. I wasn’t trying to say “see your church is corrupt so you’re not infallible.” As always I am arguing that your Church is not the entirety of Christ.
    Your logic about composition must acknowledge that the properties of the whole do not pertain to the parts necessarily and vise versa; just because a bike can roll down hill does not mean its pedals can. As such, in order to lay claim to the whole, you must be the whole. However, the arguments you have presented are only logically able to support the historic Church being an aspect of Christ: namely the body.
    I am fine allowing, for now, that Christ’s body is the Church. But is more than a body; he has a functional metaphysical essence or property (whatever you want to call it). This is part of His identity, and his entirety. In order to claim to be the entirety, you must also claim to be the functional essence or property. In this case I’m addressing the function of intercessor: something that you denied your Church denied being.”

    What do you mean by “functional metaphysical essence or property”? Do you just mean an essence, defined as the feature(s) of a thing that make it the kind of thing it is? (For instance, the essence of a cat is the features that are necessary conditions for it to be a feline) Normally a property is considered to be a feature or constituent of something, but this doesn’t necessarily imply the feature is necessary for the identity of something. (being gray-furred is a property a cat can have, but a cat can have a different feature instead, like being brown-furred) And I’m not sure what role the word “functional” is playing here. It can mean “pertaining to the function of a thing” or “properly working”; which sense do you mean it in?

    What do you mean “the function of the intercessor”? And are you saying I denied my Church that function? Or that I affirmed that function? It looks to me like you used a double negative and I’m curious if that was a typo or deliberate.

    You wrote:

    “If you are correct, your Church is not the whole functionally, almost certainly not the whole spiritually. You cannot lay claim to infallibility based on that argument. Though, incidentally you might have it for other reasons. If you are incorrect and your Church is the whole including function, you must either deny the salvation of Christians outside your Church, or find an alternative way to explain it.”

    I’m not sure I understand you, but let me try to re-state your argument, and then offer a reply. If I get it wrong, please just correct me and we can reformulate the argument to your liking and address it.

    P1. If some particular thing “A” is the whole of a type of thing “A*”, then if any specific thing “~A” is not part of the specific thing “A”, then “~A” is not a specific thing of the type “A*”.
    P2. Therefore if the particular thing “the Church” is the whole of the type of thing “things united to Christ (or the humanity of Christ)”, then if any specific thing “~A” is not part of the specific thing “the Church”, then it is not a specific thing of the type “things united to Christ (or the humanity of Christ)”.
    P3. Protestants and Catholics are not part of the specific thing “the Church.”
    C. Therefore Protestants and Catholics are not of the specific type “things united to Christ”.

    Maybe this isn’t your argument. In that case, I apologize for misconstruing what you were saying, and I hope you won’t be offended by my attempt to understand, and that you will help to clear up what your argument actually is. But if this is your argument, then the premise we would deny is P2, because it confuses the universals in this discussion with the particulars that have them. Let me explain.

    The claim that the Church is the whole body of Christ is not a statement that only people in the Church have the human nature that is united to Jesus Christ. People outside of it do too. This human nature is fully present in each human being (that’s how universals work, after all; a universal is wholly present in each of its instances). But the physical object that is Christ’s body is not the universal called “human nature”. Nor is there a universal called “union with Christ” or “Christ” or “Christ’s body” that is instantiated only in the Church’s members; no such universals exist. The only universal in question here is human nature, and Christ’s body is an instantiation of human nature. Instead, the Church as the specific object that is Christ’s body is a combination of many distinct particular objects that all have the universal called human nature. These specific objects with human nature are in the Church (as opposed to other objects with human nature that are not in the Church) because they manifest specific activities of that human nature.

    So it is with other human bodies too. My body is a combination of numerous cells, which are small physical objects, each of which does human activities. These activities include living, organizing, growing, feeding, etc. But does the fact that I have a human nature that dwells in these physical objects (which make up a composite object that is a body) imply no one else has human nature? That no one else can do human activities? That no one else can have a body? Not at all. It just means that no one else has a human body composed of *these specific physical objects* and that no one else *does the specific things I do in the way I do*. Other human beings can have different human bodies. And they can do activities that are possible by having the abilities that our human nature has.

    Not everyone uses the activities of human nature properly. Some of our bodies, for instance, fail to properly live; for sometimes all of their parts get misdirected by lacking exercise, becoming sick, or being used for sin. This doesn’t imply that such corrupted physical objects are not part of the body in question; it just means that this specific instance of human nature has been misused as a whole and so the body is corrupt.

    Now, lets consider two different human bodies. Both bodies have the universal we call “human nature” fully present in them. As such, both bodies have physical parts that do some human activities. Now lets say that body A functions perfectly (the body of Jesus, perhaps? Or that of a glorified saint?). Body A is never misused by the person inhabiting it, nor is it negatively affected by any influences. Consequently, there is nothing wrong with it at all. Instead, it does all the appropriate human activities (the full range of human activities that are appropriate) in the most excellent way (each appropriate activity is done to the highest degree). Body B, on the other hand, does only four of the activities proper to human nature, (perhaps it just eats, sleeps, grows, and lives) and only does these to a low degree of excellence (eats no veggies, sleeps 5 hours a night, ages too quickly, and lives an unhealthy life). This is in contrast with body A, which does the same activities (eats, sleeps, grows, lives), but does not just these few but *all* the activities appropriate to human nature, and does them all perfectly instead of poorly.

    Notice that body A and body B can remain distinct. We can claim that body A manifests all the powers proper to human nature, and does so perfectly. Body A and body B have the same universal as their essence—namely, they both have human nature as the thing that defines them as members of the type “human”. Its even true that body B does many of the same things body A does. But this doesn’t imply that A is the same as B, or even a part of B. So again, it seems to me that two issues might be getting confused. The first is the issue of having human nature and using some of its powers properly to some degree. The second is the issue of being a part of a specific physical object. Just because you have human nature in your body and use some of humanity’s powers properly to some degree doesn’t mean your body is identical to a body that uses the full range of human powers perfectly. That would be to confuse the universal and the particular. It would confuse the universal human nature that grounds the humanity of a particular body with the particular body whose humanity is thus grounded by the universal. A body can be composed of parts and can be separated from other bodies. But as long as it exists, it cannot lack the universal that defines it as what it is. If we were claiming the Church is the only specific thing that has Christ’s humanity, or that the only thing of the type “things having union with Christ” or “things having the humanity of Christ” was the Church, then it is true that everything outside the Church would not have union with Christ or his humanity. But that’s not the claim as I articulated it in my post.

    So to make clear the claims: Orthodoxy claims to be the Church that is (1) the same particular physical object that is the flesh of Jesus Christ. This physical object is presently incorruptible, immortal, infallible, and has all the divine powers of the Trinity to the fullest degrees because it is the deified and resurrected flesh of the Messiah; (2) this applies to the object of the Church as a whole, not to all its parts to equal degrees; so the Church is a particular object, and the whole of that particular object partakes of all of these divine powers to the highest degree. Because the Church is a specific physical object, (3) no one outside the Church is part of the physical object that is the flesh of Jesus Christ. However, (4) Christ is united to the universal of human nature. This grounds the very possibility of there being a specific physical object that is his body, but it is not identical to the claim that the Church is his body. Even though the Church is the complete physical object that is Christ’s body, and not all humans are in that specific physical object, (5) all human beings have human nature fully present within each of them, and therefore all have access to divine power that has entered humanity through Christ’s recapitulation. But to exercise that divine power is different from becoming part of the Church, just like in the analogy above using human nature to some degree in some proper way does not imply that your body is part of a body that uses human nature perfectly in all ways. Instead, (6) there are specific powers that all have in their humanity, but that must be activated in the appropriate circumstances to become part of the physical object that is the Church.

    Does that make sense and seem non-contradictory to you?

    You wrote:

    “This is a seemingly flagrant contradiction, and degrees of participation does not explain it. I am open to having misunderstood you, or perhaps there is a way I have not considered that can make sense of this. After that, the issue of tangible evidence still exists; but there is no point in addressing evidence if the underlying premises are not rational.”

    If you still think there is an unresolved contradiction, even after considering the above, please make this explicit.

    You wrote:

    “After we have reached a conclusion, let us see which of our Churches is actually continuing the Great Commission. If one is not, it is not Christ.”

    Sounds good.

    You quoted me, and responded:

    My reply to Catz: “We don’t say the Church stands in the place of Christ. The Church is…..not an intermediary between us and his flesh or his person.”
    Your response: “If you are not claiming to be that, then you are categorically not the whole. Christ cannot be divided. If you are not the whole, then you do not possess it’s attributes.”

    I was clarifying for Catz that unlike what some critics of Orthodoxy have said (such as Reformed theologians that teach classes and write books and articles against Orthodoxy, based on their Nestorian assumptions about the humanity of Christ) we don’t claim the Church stands in the place of Christ. It isn’t a “second person” that has all of Christ’s attributes. Nor is it some impersonal thing separate from Christ that has some of his powers. And it is not a copy or duplicate of his body that is separate from his actual physical body. Rather the Church just *is* the spiritually-empowered physical object that is the body of Christ.

  30. Disposable Soul Says:

    -ZSPD

    “I will only say that your plaintive and impotent fist-pounding is growing a bit aggravating, and you should consider modifying your tone in future comments.”

    Sir, I’m here to seek truth through dialogue. If I came across as antagonistic, please accept my apology. Though I disagree with your comment, I do consider us to both be men of God, and as such we are both seeking him through any means available. That should count for more than just ad hominem attacks here on Uror.

    -DS

  31. Urorururur Says:

    Six pages… wow. Thank you for taking so much time! : )

    To answer your first question:
    “I thought you claimed I was dividing the Church. Was I wrong to think this?”
    -Not at all. I was explaining why I had a problem with your methodology of defining the Church. I still think you are being divisive. But, our comments will speak for themselves: let others judge us. As for you and me, that’s not what we are arguing about, and trying to argue about it now will boil down to name calling.

    “Normally when people capitalize the “S” in “spirit” they mean Holy Spirit. And the Church is not the particular person that is the Holy Spirit.”
    -I’m glad we’ve clarified that I wasn’t talking about the Holy Spirit. I can see how it sounded that way.

    To account for a rhetorical question:
    “Do you (the particular human being that you are) have any of Christ’s attributes?”
    -Not the attributes of his person, such as infallibility. Having attributes as being created in His image and having the attributes of his person are very different, as you articulated further down your post.

    To answer your second question:
    “What do you mean by “functional metaphysical essence or property”
    -I can see that I confused you, and I’m sorry. I did refer to this in several ways; and I should have been clearer. In the following, I will endeavor to be.

    You tried to say my argument back to me:
    “let me try to re-state your argument”
    -But, the conclusion you understood is nothing like what I argued for, and premise one makes no sense to me. Not that it’s irrational! Just that I couldn’t follow it. 😉

    And seriously, there’s no need to apologize if I’ve miscommunicated with you! It happens! And it takes two people to make it happen! : )

    I’ll restate what I said for you:

    PUT LOGICALLY:

    SHAPING PRINCIPAL: Christ cannot be divided.

    P1: All things that are the Entirety of Christ are things that are Intercessors.
    P2: The Eastern Church is not an Intercessor.
    P3: The Eastern Church is not the Entirety of Christ.

    P4: Parts do not have the attributes of the Entirety.
    P5: Only The Entirety of Christ has the Power of Christ’s Infallibility.
    P6: The Church is not the Entirety of Christ.
    P7: The Church does not have the Power of Christ’s Infallibility

    ADENDUM: The Church may have the Power of Infallibility from a different origin if Infallibility is not exclusive to Christ/God. But then it is not Christ’s Infallibility, but a different sort.

    LAYMEN’S TERMS:
    You cannot lay claim to Christ’s power without being Christ. You cannot be Christ without being what Christ is entirely. Function is part of His Entirety.* You are not laying claim to all of his functions. As such, your claim that your Church has His power is not possible.

    *TO ARGUE FOR THAT CLAIM: God is not God if he is not The One God who created the world through Christ Jesus. Jesus is not Jesus unless he relates to God as Son. Also, He is fully man and fully God, and is our only intercessor. This is part of who Jesus is (or at least as far as He has revealed himself to be). You cannot divide God.

    REGARDING THE REST OF YOUR POST:
    I know you believe that. It’s a very beautiful view, even if I think your conclusions cannot follow from it, as I have stated above.

    APOLOGY
    Perhaps I was too harsh when I accused you of a flagrant contradiction. I apologize if I insulted you.

    What you’ve articulated to me is very well thought out. I really don’t desire to disparage your views or your Churches views! But I do maintain your conclusion is contradicting with your other beliefs. Though, you may feel free to address my objections.

  32. ZSDP Says:

    Disposable Soul and Uro[. . .]-

    I think it obvious, given the response, that I was much too vague in my previous comment. I didn’t mean to say that the sum total of Uro[. . .]’s comments were impotent or that they should be disregarded, thus committing an Ad Hominem, but I do understand that I came across that way. I apologize for being so loose with my words, as well as for the offense this looseness caused.

    So, let me perfectly clear—I did not intend for my statement to reflect a judgment upon the efficacy, coherence, cogency, etc., of Uro[. . .]’s arguments. I have endeavored to stay clear of making any public evaluations of the argumentative content of this thread, which I thought would be clear from my response to Disposable Soul’s question about who I took to be “winning”. My complaint against Uro[. . .] was related to his tone, which often departed into wild accusation and the equivalent of fist-thumping. (Nota bene: I asked him to change his tone. I did not disparage his arguments.) From my mostly disinterested role as an administrator of this blog, his verbal antics have been an unwelcome distraction from the issues he wishes to present. Of course, this does not negate his contentions, but it is a matter of concern from the standpoint of creating an open and friendly environment for conversation between un-, barely-, and well-acquainted people.

    Notice that, still, I have tried my very best to keep this criticism on the level of tone without condemning Uro[. . .]’s arguments. To make it plain as day, I do not think Uro[. . .]’s tone has anything to do with the correctness or incorrectness of his arguments, and I am not at all interested in engaging anyone in dispute on the topic of this post, much less silencing anyone’s opinion through a feeble attempt at character assassination.

  33. Urorururur Says:

    @ZSDP

    Apology accepted. Though, probably better to keep in on topic now.

  34. ZSDP Says:

    “Though, probably better to keep in on topic now.”

    I agree. Let’s all move on.

  35. Disposable Soul Says:

    Is someone editing posts here? I noticed discrepancies in Urors posts that are new. Are we allowed to edit our own posts or are you doing that for us?

    -DS

  36. Urorururur Says:

    Just to note, I am expecting a response to my objection. I’m very interested to see what you have to say, MG.

  37. ZSDP Says:

    Disposable Soul –

    Uro[. . .] has been placed on our moderation list so that we can screen his comments before they are posted. This screening has, to a small extent, included purging some of his already-posted comments of material we felt should not remain. No material pertaining to the subject matter of this thread has been removed or altered, however, so all arguments have remained completely intact. We don’t cheat here. :]

  38. Urorururur Says:

    I’m worried who’s going to hold you accountable; because not only have you deleted my “offensive” posts, but also any reference to them by myself. You gave no warning, notice, or explanation.

    I guess you’ve left me no choice but to trust that you won’t “cheat.” But, being unable to even ask if you’ve deleted one of my posts leaves me powerless.

    Perhaps you could post when/what you delete and why if it comes to that? This would give me an opportunity to reconsider what I say, and perhaps learn to accommodate other intellectuals such as yourself.

  39. Disposable Soul Says:

    -ZSDP

    I know Uror personally and he is quite blunt in person, though he is never rude. It seems that he only responded to your off-kilter comments for being what they were.

    -DS

  40. ZSDP Says:

    Uro[. . .] –

    Though I didn’t say you would be placed on moderation, I gave you some warning that we weren’t happy with your tone in comment #27, which I clarified comment #32. Comments that were not of value to the post (i.e. complaints about moderation, etc.) have been deleted or redacted, and I am personally of the opinion that this only makes you look better. As for accountability, MG is aware of my actions, and if he feels that I do something unfair he will ask me to stop and/or reverse what I have done.

    I am not going to take the time to post explanations for everything that is removed. Our comment policy does not require this, and I think it would be needlessly taxing for other readers of the blog were I to fill the comments with such things. If it really concerns you, keep copies of your original comments so that you can see what has been removed—that way, if something relevant has been removed, you can appeal it.

    In any case, this is really not open for discussion. Any further comments on this post regarding moderation practices will be removed immediately, unless appealing a particular moderation of relevant material.

  41. ZSDP Says:

    Disposable Soul –

    “I know Uror personally and he is quite blunt in person, though he is never rude.”

    This may very well be your experience, and I won’t stoop to arguing about his general character on a blog, as it would be rather inappropriate.

    “It seems that he only responded to your off-kilter comments for being what they were.”

    Off-kilter? Haha. Ok, if that’s the way you see it. I like to think that I’ve shown a great deal of care and restraint in this thread, but I’ve been wrong before. As I said in my response to Uro[. . .], MG is not in the dark about my actions here, and he will confront me if he feels I have done something I shouldn’t have. I have, in fact, preempted this by discussing some of my responses with MG prior to posting them. Such careful behavior and awareness of accountability has not often been described as “off-kilter”—but there has to be a first time for everything, I suppose.

    Anyways, as I said above, any further comments on this post regarding moderation practices will be removed immediately, unless appealing a particular moderation of relevant material. I let this one slide because it appears that you got your comment in just before I posted my last one.

  42. Disposable Soul Says:

    -ZSPD

    “Off-kilter? Haha. Ok, if that’s the way you see it. I like to think that I’ve shown a great deal of care and restraint in this thread, but I’ve been wrong before. As I said in my response to Uro[. . .], MG is not in the dark about my actions here, and he will confront me if he feels I have done something I shouldn’t have. I have, in fact, preempted this by discussing some of my responses with MG prior to posting them. Such careful behavior and awareness of accountability has not often been described as “off-kilter”—but there has to be a first time for everything, I suppose.”

    Agree to disagree. Fair enough. I wait with baited breath for MG’s response as well.

    -DS

  43. MG Says:

    The following is an administrative notification for commenters on this post. Please read the paragraph below *AND THE NOTE*. Respond only if you disagree or wish to clarify something.

    Passive-aggressive, condescending, and accusatory comments/argumentative strategies are not welcome on this blog. In the event that you think the intellectual shortcomings of a person’s arguments or positions need to come to attention, feel free to say as much. But accusations (whether veiled or explicit) of intellectual dishonesty, stupidity, malice, etc. are not acceptable. If you are going to criticize a person’s arguments or viewpoints, do so in a relatively charitable way. You don’t have to be saccharine and exaggerate your respect for someone, but please don’t be disrespectful. Your comments may be moderated and altered. If the offense is extreme or frequent enough, you will be asked to stop commenting. If commenting continues you will be banned. So far, no one is even close to being asked to leave, though.

    Note: I am not writing the above paragraph to express my personal beliefs about what is going on in the motives of the commenters. Rather, I am trying to address the subtext of what people might be saying about each other’s comments. Maybe the motives that are being assumed in the subtext of these comments are not the actual motives behind the comments, in which case all the better. And all the more reason for us to not dwell on these issues. It is very difficult to want to discuss matters like Church authority on a blog when I know that every time I bring up the comment box, I will have to look at a bunch of back-and-forth that has more to do with whether or not people are being bad when they make arguments than whether or not people are making bad arguments.

    ZSDP’s moderations will be accountable to my editing and vetoing. If I think he has overstepped his bounds I will intervene.

    Now, lets continue discussing these important issues without any more personal animosity, real or imagined.

  44. MG Says:

    Uror—

    You wrote:

    “-Not at all. I was explaining why I had a problem with your methodology of defining the Church. I still think you are being divisive. But, our comments will speak for themselves: let others judge us. As for you and me, that’s not what we are arguing about, and trying to argue about it now will boil down to name calling.”

    Personally I don’t think it has to come to name-calling, but if it is not something you are interested in discussing then I suppose we can move on.

    You wrote:

    “-Not the attributes of his person, such as infallibility. Having attributes as being created in His image and having the attributes of his person are very different, as you articulated further down your post.”

    In order to show that my argument doesn’t go through, you would have to show that infallibility belongs to a class of attributes that cannot be shared by other things in addition to the person that has them. But if infallibility is a natural property (as I think it is) then this won’t necessarily follow.

    Given that the Father and Holy Spirit are infallible, doesn’t it seem like infallibility is a *natural property*, not a personal property? It seems like something common/natural between the persons of the Trinity, and therefore not particular/personal.

    Do you think the Apostles had Christ’s infallibility when they wrote the New Testament?

    You wrote:

    “P1: All things that are the Entirety of Christ are things that are Intercessors.”

    We aren’t claiming to be the “entirety of Christ”. We don’t think the Church is an uncreated divine person. We think it is the physical manifestation of Christ’s humanity. It is the physical manifestation of the human nature had by an uncreated divine person. His humanity is empowered by his divine energies; but we do not identify the energies that empower his humanity with the uncreated person of Christ; nor are the divine energies the same as created things like Christ’s human nature.

    If by “entirety of Christ” you mean the divine person of the Word, then of course the divine person of Christ intercedes. In his human nature, his person acts prayerfully, asking the Father to send down grace from heaven through Him in the Holy Spirit. And Christians can also actualize the power to act prayerfully, which is one ability that human nature has. The action of “asking”(/praying) is also apparently something that the Holy Spirit can do, so prayer is something Christ presumably does as a divine action too.

    You wrote:

    “P2: The Eastern Church is not an Intercessor.”

    I agree. Intercessors are people, and the Church is not a person, but a body. The people that are members of it intercede, but it is the people doing the interceding, not the body somehow praying apart from the people praying.

    You wrote:

    “P3: The Eastern Church is not the Entirety of Christ.”

    I agree. We are not the entirety of Christ. But this doesn’t mean we aren’t the sole physical object that is a full manifestation of Christ’s glorified humanity.

    Did you think I was claiming the Church was the entirety of Christ? What led you to think this?

    You wrote:

    “P4: Parts do not have the attributes of the Entirety.”

    This premise does not seem true. Some parts do have the attributes of the entirety. Think of a puzzle which has only red pieces. What is true of the parts, in this case, is true of the whole. Were you trying to say “parts *do not necessarily* have the attributes of the entirety” or “not all parts have the attributes of their respective wholes”? It seems that with part-whole relations, it can go either way; sometimes the parts have some of the attributes of the whole; other times the parts do not have the attributes of the whole. The fallacy of composition is the assumption that just because something is true of the parts of a thing, therefore it necessarily follows that it is true of the whole—not the idea that what is true of the parts is never true of the whole (which seems false).

    Does that make sense? Do you agree?

    You wrote:

    “P5: Only The Entirety of Christ has the Power of Christ’s Infallibility.”

    I would disagree. The divinity and humanity of Christ can both be said to have the power of Christ’s infallibility. One has it by participation in the other, though.

    You wrote:

    “P6: The Church is not the Entirety of Christ.”

    Again, agreed. This wasn’t what I was claiming. The Church is not identical to an uncreated divine person, nor is it identical to the super-essential essence of Christ, nor is it identical to the uncreated energies that are manifested by the persons of the Trinity from the existence-transcending essence of God.

    You wrote:

    “P7: The Church does not have the Power of Christ’s Infallibility”

    Because several of your premises seem false, I don’t think this conclusion has been sufficiently argued for.

    To turn some of the questions around: do you think that the physical flesh of Jesus Christ had the power of God’s infallibility? Given that you probably think the flesh of Christ is not all there was to him, it seems like admitting that his flesh was infallible would imply that P1 is false. What do you think?

    I am fine with being accused of contradictions, and if they are flagrant then I’d like to know. Maybe I was being overly-sensitive and self-protective in light of a legitimate concern. But it looks to me like there is no contradiction here–at least no obvious one.

    Also, thanks for trying to clear up the confusion. If you feel like my responses are not addressing what you wrote, then please try to clarify a bit more as you see fit. I think we’re approaching mutual understanding, even if we’re not quite there yet.

  45. Disposable Soul Says:

    -MG

    May I ask something/s about your latest comment? I assure you I mean no personal animosity, but rather seek to politely question your reasoning and I would prefer to speak with you rather than ZSDP if that is acceptable.

    If it is not, please just send me an email and perhaps we can discuss it that way. Please feel free to delete or respond to this comment in either way.

    -DS

  46. Rabid Tusken Raider Says:

    No, you finally did address my objection. Which I appreciate. And I do think we are approaching an understanding at least, though, probably not agreement.

    I like to clarify questions first:
    “Did you think I was claiming the Church was the entirety of Christ? What led you to think this?”
    -The fact that you still repeated the same argument after I noted you were not trying to maintain you were the Whole Christ, and that you had to make that claim for your arguments to stand. It was a mis-communication that was also fueled by your statements in the past have hinged infallible church be an entity (specifically your answers to Disposable Soul’s Questions). But, this is irrelevant.

    It seems my argument based on intercession is unnecessary. As that was the basic premise i was trying to prove, we can move on to your objections.

    Regarding your objections to premise 4:
    Premise 4 is a vestigial premise. I included it by accident and was not able to edit my posts. The syllogism works fine without it. I should have said as much.

    You also said:
    “In order to show that my argument doesn’t go through, you would have to show that infallibility belongs to a class of attributes that cannot be shared by other things in addition to the person that has them.”
    -I have to demonstrate that infallibility is unique to the entirety of God and that you cannot reduce it to being contained parts. I would do that by saying that God himself cannot be reduced into parts, and so his attributes do not follow into parts. God is One. Even the Trinity is One. I didn’t argue for that, as I assumed it was understood.

    This disagreement resurfaces in P5, which is the only other premise you really disagreed with beyond P4

    You said:
    “I would disagree. The divinity and humanity of Christ can both be said to have the power of Christ’s infallibility. One has it by participation in the other, though.”
    -It’s self evident that Christ cannot be divided in that way. If you have just humanity you have no Christ, if you have just divinity you have no Christ. Addressing Christ as just a man or just God just seems, honestly, heretical.

    Beyond that:
    We know God has infallibility because it’s logically necessary for him to be God. Which means it’s essential: it pertains to the essence of what He is. We know He is a Trinity, and that The Father/Son/Holy Spirit are one. This makes them more than just “parts” of the whole, they are the whole.

    “Who ever has seen me has seen the father” I believe was how Jesus put it.

    I will put out there that the God who is the Trinity cannot be reduced into just being Jesus, or just being the Father, or the Son. If the trinity can’t be reduced, the attribute can’t be reduced, there are no smaller parts for it to be reduced to.

    Jesus is God, so this is likewise true of Jesus.
    Put simply, Christ cannot be divided.

    This was my whole shaping principal at the beginning of my syllogism.

  47. MG Says:

    DS,

    Sure, go ahead and post what you want to say. You could have just posted without asking, though.

  48. Rabid Tusken Raider Says:

    @ MG

    I just thought I should further clarify, the contradiction I believed you had committed was to claim that you had an attribute of the entirety of Christ while not claiming to be the entirety of Christ, or alternatively claiming to be the entirety of Christ without claiming to be an intercessor.

    Though, for certain if you do not believe infallibility to be as I believe it to be, you wouldn’t have seen it that way.

  49. MG Says:

    Rabid/Uror–

    You wrote:

    “-The fact that you still repeated the same argument after I noted you were not trying to maintain you were the Whole Christ, and that you had to make that claim for your arguments to stand. It was a mis-communication that was also fueled by your statements in the past have hinged infallible church be an entity (specifically your answers to Disposable Soul’s Questions). But, this is irrelevant.”

    It seems my argument based on intercession is unnecessary. As that was the basic premise i was trying to prove, we can move on to your objections.

    If you could explain how the assumption that the Church is the whole of Christ is incorporated into my argument, I’d appreciate it. If your stuff below about parthood and Trinity and inseparability of the natures is your explanation, I’d appreciate if you could make this explicit.

    You wrote:

    “-I have to demonstrate that infallibility is unique to the entirety of God and that you cannot reduce it to being contained parts. I would do that by saying that God himself cannot be reduced into parts, and so his attributes do not follow into parts. God is One. Even the Trinity is One. I didn’t argue for that, as I assumed it was understood.”

    Actually saying that infallibility is something every divine person has would be to concede that it is something natural, or shared in common, between the persons. If it is unique to only one person (such as “being begotten” is unique to the Son) then it would be personal; but if it is common it seems natural. That, after all, is the position of the early Church: what is particular is personal/hypostatic, what is common is natural.

    And of course God cannot be reduced to parts. But there can be multiple things with the same essence without this implying they are parts of a larger whole.

    If indeed infallibility is natural, and it is an energy of God, then it seems like it is at least possible for created things to partake of it. Christ’s humanity would at least seem to be a created thing that partakes of God’s infallibility.

    You wrote:

    “-It’s self evident that Christ cannot be divided in that way. If you have just humanity you have no Christ, if you have just divinity you have no Christ. Addressing Christ as just a man or just God just seems, honestly, heretical.”

    I’m not saying that it is possible for there to just be a human nature in the divine person of Christ, as though his humanity can be severed from his person or his divinity in reality. I’m saying that on a conceptual level, when you think about the different aspects of Christ and distinguish them from each other, infallibility is not something that just gets predicated of Christ as a whole. It definitely doesn’t get predicated of Christ as a whole as though his infallibility arises out of a composition of pre-existing parts, or a mixture of pre-existing parts.

    Each aspect of Christ ((1) uncreated essence, (2) uncreated person, (3) uncreated energies, (4) created human essence, (5) created human energies) can be said to be infallible in a different sense. (1) The divine essence is infallible insofar as it is false that the essence ever misrepresents reality (see more about this below). (2) The uncreated person of the Son is infallible insofar as He cannot fail to manifest his natural energy of infallibility. (3) The divine energy of infallibility is infallible insofar as it is the activity of God’s essence whereby God’s energies do not fail to misrepresent reality (and whereby imperatives God issues have unqualified conscience-binding authority). (4) The human essence of Christ is infallible insofar as God’s infallibility is a formal cause of Christ’s soulish and physical abilities. (5) The human energies of Christ are infallible insofar as God’s infallibility is a formal cause of any communicative manifestations of human action (ie. whenever Christ speaks, his actions of speaking have God’s energy of infallibility as a formal cause, which means insofar as they partake of their formal cause they cannot misrepresent reality or lack ultimate binding authority because God’s energy of infallibility is intrinsic to them) and the divine person of Christ fully, perfectly, unfailingly incorporates Christ’s personal manifestation of these human energies into their formal cause. If the above (1)-(5) five points are what is meant by saying “the whole of Christ is infallible” then that’s true. But notice how we don’t predicate infallibility of Christ as something that arises out of the conjunction or mixture pre-existing parts.

    Also, it seems metaphysically possible for there to just be divinity in Christ. Such was the case pre-incarnation. Though most people didn’t refer to Him as such, the uncreated Son of God is the same person as the man Jesus of Nazareth, and as such that uncreated person always was Christ. I guess that Messianic prophecies even imply that He was even *referred to as Christ* by a few people prior to the incarnation. Admittedly, post-incarnation you can only distinguish the human nature of the Son and the divine energies of the Son conceptually, and they cannot be actually separated or pulled apart. Christ can never be “disincarnated” once He is incarnate. But if one says that Christ could not ever have existed without his humanity, then that endorses either the Nestorian idea that Christ is the “person of union” which is produced as a result of the conjunction of two natures; or it endorses the Arian idea that Christ is a creature. But I don’t think that’s what you are saying (is it? Its an honest question, because many Protestants are Nestorian, often by their own admission).

    Obviously because no one participates in the person of the Son qua person (because a person is experienced when he manifests his/her activities/energies) we have union with Christ without being identical to his person, and without being joined to his person apart from his own self-manifestation and interaction with us in his divine and human activities/energies.

    I’m not sure which you were saying (“its bad to conceptually distinguish the two natures” vs “its bad to say the two natures are separate in reality”). But it sounds like you were saying its bad to even distinguish conceptually between divinity and humanity. If that’s so, then I have some criticisms of this position:

    If you think what I’m doing is heretical, then why do the Church Fathers do it? (think of Chalcedon’s formula, for instance)

    And following the logic of “it is heretical to conceptually distinguish one aspect in Christ from another aspect in Christ” leads to Eutychian conclusions. Does the divinity of Christ have toes? If you say “no, the humanity does” then this implies that you can make conceptual distinctions in Christ.

    You wrote:

    “We know God has infallibility because it’s logically necessary for him to be God. Which means it’s essential: it pertains to the essence of what He is. We know He is a Trinity, and that The Father/Son/Holy Spirit are one. This makes them more than just “parts” of the whole, they are the whole.”

    Actually, we don’t think infallibility is an aspect of the divine essence per se. We think infallibility is an energy of God. Now, granted God could not have failed to perform the action of “being infallible”; but that doesn’t make infallibility an aspect of God’s essence, it just means that some divine energies exist necessarily. You could say the divine essence is infallible in the sense that it cannot misrepresent reality; but then again the divine essence isn’t a representation of reality anyway, for it is beyond being. I’m not sure how technical you are being with your statement that “it pertains to the essence of what He is”; but if you meant it in any sense other than “necessarily, God cannot fail to perform the action of ‘being infallible’” then we might be in disagreement.

    You wrote:

    ““Who ever has seen me has seen the father” I believe was how Jesus put it.

    I will put out there that the God who is the Trinity cannot be reduced into just being Jesus, or just being the Father, or the Son. If the trinity can’t be reduced, the attribute can’t be reduced, there are no smaller parts for it to be reduced to.”

    Yeah, naturally I agree with that.

    You wrote:

    “Jesus is God, so this is likewise true of Jesus.
    Put simply, Christ cannot be divided.”

    Sure, but as I said above, the indivisibility of Christ as He exists does not mean the indistinguishability of Christ in our minds, or the impossibility of partaking of distinct aspects of Christ to differing degrees.

  50. Rabid Tusken Raider Says:

    First of all, I’ll try addressing the tangent:

    You said:
    “If you could explain how the assumption that the Church is the whole of Christ is incorporated into my argument, I’d appreciate it.”

    -I didn’t say the assumption was incorporated by your argument. I said that some of your past statements relied on the assumption, which gave me a misimpression. I’m not going to discuss statements from previous threads any more than this, as they are irrelevant to the issue at hand. Why I was confused is not important now that I am not confused.

    To address a concession you believe I made inadvertently:

    You said:
    “Actually saying that infallibility is something every divine person has would be to concede that it is something natural, or shared in common”

    -No it’s not. The Divine Person’s are not separate things, they are God, and it is God who is infallible. The notion of “sharing” does not logically apply in that case. I made a huge point of this.

    Related to this, you said:
    “And of course God cannot be reduced to parts. But there can be multiple things with the same essence without this implying they are parts of a larger whole.”

    -The Father/Son/Spirit are not multiple things, they are all God. Trying to look at them as multiple things, and not Persons who are One is not proper. This is important, because the idea of “sharing” does not apply to things that are One.

    You also said:
    “I’m not saying that it is possible for there to just be a human nature in the divine person of Christ, as though his humanity can be severed from his person or his divinity in reality. I’m saying that on a conceptual level, when you think about the different aspects of Christ and distinguish them from each other”

    -And what I’m saying is it doesn’t matter if you can conceive of them and distinguish them. In reality they are not separate. Just because you can talk about his humanness, does not mean his humanness exists apart from his entirety nor do its attributes, such as infallibility.

    In fact, when I maintained:
    “If the trinity can’t be reduced, the attribute can’t be reduced, there are no smaller parts for it to be reduced to.”

    You agreed:
    “Yeah, naturally I agree with that.”

    -If infallibility (the property of being without error) is an attribute, which I maintain it is, then it does not reduce for the very reason I gave above. This means your Church cannot lay claim to infallibility via the claim to being Christ’s Body, because infallibility is an attribute of a whole, which does not reduce.

    You objected to my conclusion by saying and arguing that:
    “ the indivisibility of Christ as He exists does not mean the indistinguishability of Christ in our minds, or the impossibility of partaking of distinct aspects of Christ to differing degrees.”

    -And again, I never said you could not distinguish him. It does not matter if he can be “distinguished” or not. And I have no objection to participation. If you simply said “my church participates in Christ’s infallibility” I would not have objected in this manner.

    My point here is that in reality the attributes do not reduce, which you conceded. Though, I certainly won’t hold you to that concession.

    Of course, you said you don’t actually believe that infallibility is an attribute; you believe it is something he does:
    “Actually, we don’t think infallibility is an aspect of the divine essence per se. We think infallibility is an energy of God. Now, granted God could not have failed to perform the action of “being infallible”

    -We are actually talking about two different things. What I am referring to is the property that empowers Him to be infallible. Not the fact that he acts infallibly. In theory, God could cause anyone to have the energy of infallibility; but it does not mean they are inherently infallible.

    You did have some legitimate questions too:
    “I’m not sure which you were saying (“its bad to conceptually distinguish the two natures” vs “its bad to say the two natures are separate in reality”)”

    -What I’m saying is that if it’s not real, then using it as a foundation for a world view will not make a world view that correlates to reality. Again, God cannot be reduced; it does not matter if you can conceive of it.

    You asked rhetorically:
    “If you think what I’m doing is heretical, then why do the Church Fathers do it? (think of Chalcedon’s formula, for instance)”
    -Well, I said it sounded heretical. It sounds heretical because you are using a conception that you know does not represent reality as a corner stone for your conclusions about your Church. This isn’t itself heresy, but it sounds kind of like the same sort of stuff to me. And actually, having read through your most recent post, you no longer sound heretical to me at all. : )

    And you asked me honestly (not that the others were not honest):
    “But if one says that Christ could not ever have existed without his humanity, then that endorses either the Nestorian idea that Christ is the “person of union” which is produced as a result of the conjunction of two natures; or it endorses the Arian idea that Christ is a creature. But I don’t think that’s what you are saying (is it? Its an honest question, because many Protestants are Nestorian, often by their own admission).”

    -I do not like saying God is a product of His nature. And obviously I would not say he is a creature. Rather, my insistence on eternalness demonstrates the opposite.

    I would only say that Christ is eternally God and Man. In fact, “God and Man” is only a description of His true essence. I only cling to these because it is also the manner in which He chose to reveal himself. As such, I would not say Christ “arises” from His nature, so much as I would say “He is” XYZ. Though, I should probably say “He is revealed as” XYZ.

    Beyond this, there was a lot of really nice juicy material about Christ having a created humanity, or an eternal humanity. And I wish I could address them; but if you agree with my premises in spite of these, which you say you do, my argument still concludes.

    I should say, I no longer believe you to be in flagrant contradiction within your own belief system; though I do believe you are wrong for the above reasons. If you are content with that, perhaps we should consider making closing statements soon and having done with this.

    To find a middle ground, if you say “we are the body of Christ”, and that being the body has nothing to do with intercession. And if you say that “we are infallible” in the sense that you do not have a property of having infallible action but are empowered to have infallible action then I let your beliefs stand. Though, I would point out that being the body of Christ does not guarantee infallibility in that model.

    To be honest, I believe, de facto, your Church neither possesses the attribute nor the energy, as I believe that to be infallible in attribute one must be utterly perfect and without error in any component. And to act infallibly one must, in every way, act wholly and completely without error. Recent sex scandals make it evident that your Church is not wholly without error in action, and is not wholly without error in essence, due to containing Sin. But this seems to be a difference of definition. I would rather not argue, so much as agree to disagree if it comes to this.

  51. MG Says:

    Uror—

    You wrote:

    “-No it’s not. The Divine Person’s are not separate things, they are God, and it is God who is infallible. The notion of “sharing” does not logically apply in that case. I made a huge point of this.”

    Of course they are not separate. There is no division in God. But I wonder if you would agree that the divine persons are distinct from each other. This seems to be the only alternative to saying they are separate on the one hand or saying they are identical on the other hand—two extremes that seem unacceptable. And if they are distinct, then they can have something in common. Such is the Trinitarian theology of the Fathers, who you claim to believe and agree with when you say “I affirm Nicea and at least the early counsels.”

    You wrote:

    “-The Father/Son/Spirit are not multiple things, they are all God. Trying to look at them as multiple things, and not Persons who are One is not proper. This is important, because the idea of “sharing” does not apply to things that are One.”

    Your use of the plural noun “Persons” and “things” instead of “Person” and “thing” seems to indicate that you regard the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be distinct in reality (not just in our minds). That’s all I meant by “multiple things”—not separable, divided realities, but merely distinct, non-identical things (or, more accurately, people). Would you agree on this point?

    Also, if multiple things are also in some sense one, how could this be explained except by the fact that they share something in common (that there is a real unity to them)?

    You wrote:

    “-And what I’m saying is it doesn’t matter if you can conceive of them and distinguish them. In reality they are not separate. Just because you can talk about his humanness, does not mean his humanness exists apart from his entirety nor do its attributes, such as infallibility.

    -If infallibility (the property of being without error) is an attribute, which I maintain it is, then it does not reduce for the very reason I gave above. This means your Church cannot lay claim to infallibility via the claim to being Christ’s Body, because infallibility is an attribute of a whole, which does not reduce.”

    Sure. They are not separate in reality. But the fact that they are distinct realities (C1, C2, C3, C4, etc. are all distinct things in Christ—even if C1, C2, C3, C4, etc. are inseparable from each other) in Christ does mean that one of these distinct realities C1 can be partaken of by something A (that is not Christ) without this implying that A has to partake of *all the realities in Christ equally* (including C2, C3, C4, etc.). And so it is with the energies of Christ’s humanity and divinity; we can share in some or all of them without partaking of Christ’s person, which cannot be shared in common.

    You wrote:

    “-And again, I never said you could not distinguish him. It does not matter if he can be “distinguished” or not. And I have no objection to participation. If you simply said “my church participates in Christ’s infallibility” I would not have objected in this manner.

    My point here is that in reality the attributes do not reduce, which you conceded. Though, I certainly won’t hold you to that concession.”

    Well, what I’ve meant all along by saying “the Church is infallible by having the infallibility of Christ” is that the Church participates in Christ’s infallibility. The Church does not have Christ’s infallibility in the same way Christ himself does (ie. by nature—as a natural energy of the uncreated divine person that is Christ); rather the Church has the divine energy of infallibility by grace (because Christ’s humanity has grace/divine energies actualized within it by the person of Christ). So if all you’ve meant is that “the Church as Christ’s humanity doesn’t have Christ’s infallibility in the same way the uncreated person of Christ has his own infallibility” then I’d agree. But, perhaps I have a more robust understanding of participation than you do—one that you would find objectionable.

    You wrote:

    “-We are actually talking about two different things. What I am referring to is the property that empowers Him to be infallible. Not the fact that he acts infallibly. In theory, God could cause anyone to have the energy of infallibility; but it does not mean they are inherently infallible.”

    The notion of an energy of infallibility is more than just saying “he acts infallibly”. We’re not just saying that Christ produces created effects in an infallible manner (ie. none of his creations or communications with his creations are mistakes). By energy is meant something more like “mode of being” or “state of being”. For example, you might say that fire has states of being or modes like “being hot” and “being bright”. But these are different from the effects that fire’s actions have, effects like “a burninated countryside” and “shadows cast by light”. Heat and light are intrinsic, natural, and proper to fire, which is an essence with powers like “the ability to be hot” and “the ability to be bright”. The effects of fire (burninating, casting shadows) are extrinsic to fire. So in some sense, energies like “being hot” and “being bright” are what some philosophers might identify as “attributes”. The energies are a category in between “essential” and “accidental”. They are actual aspects of what something is, but they depend on their essence in order to be actual (and some energies are only contingently actualized). Technically speaking we don’t think the divine essence has “essential attributes”, because we don’t think the divine essence exists; as such, nothing can be attributed to it.

    I agree that God could cause anyone to have the energy of infallibility. But given our understanding of energies and participation, saying so doesn’t just mean God could produce effects in a person that would prevent them from erring. Rather, it means that God’s action of “being infallible” can be intrinsic to human nature, empowering it to be incapable of error; and some people can actualize the power to be infallible by their own personal choice about how to act. We are not necessarily infallible (because not all use their nature to access the grace of infallibility that is within us) but we do have God’s power of infallibility within us (because God’s energies are the formal cause of human nature).

    You wrote:

    “-What I’m saying is that if it’s not real, then using it as a foundation for a world view will not make a world view that correlates to reality. Again, God cannot be reduced; it does not matter if you can conceive of it.”

    I think this might be addressed by what I outlined above—that the Church (as the physical manifestation of Christ’s glorified humanity) partakes of Christ’s uncreated infallibility by grace, but does not have it by nature as his uncreated person does.

    You wrote:

    “-I do not like saying God is a product of His nature. And obviously I would not say he is a creature. Rather, my insistence on eternalness demonstrates the opposite.”

    Okay. Nestorians did claim that the Logos was eternal; they just thought Christ was a product of the union of the Logos with a human person (something the Reformers seem to have sadly inherited). But it seems that’s not what you were getting at, so I’ll drop it.

    You wrote:

    “I would only say that Christ is eternally God and Man. In fact, “God and Man” is only a description of His true essence. I only cling to these because it is also the manner in which He chose to reveal himself. As such, I would not say Christ “arises” from His nature, so much as I would say “He is” XYZ. Though, I should probably say “He is revealed as” XYZ.”

    Okay, but when you say “description of his true essence” are you denying that Christ has two natures (ie. a divine essence and energies, a human essence and energies) and saying He has just one?

    You wrote:

    “To find a middle ground, if you say “we are the body of Christ”, and that being the body has nothing to do with intercession. And if you say that “we are infallible” in the sense that you do not have a property of having infallible action but are empowered to have infallible action then I let your beliefs stand. Though, I would point out that being the body of Christ does not guarantee infallibility in that model.”

    I think we may be in agreement about this middle ground. Lets see if I can clear some ambiguities up. Hopefully it is clear that I think there is no human energy of infallibility. Infallibility is uncreated and divine. As such, the Church does not do the activity of “being infallible” as some created thing it does or produces. It only has infallibility because it partakes of God’s uncreated infallibility as its formal cause, the grace that makes it what it is. Christ actualizes this power of infallibility within his flesh.

    Why does being the body of Christ not guarantee infallibility if the conditions you mentioned hold? If you say it is because the Church is only empowered to have infallible action, then I would reply by saying that Christ actualizes the power to be infallible within his body. The fact that Christ does actualize the power to be infallible prevents the organization as a whole from making false decisions. Is this what you were getting at? If so what do you think of the response? If not, what were you getting at?

    You wrote:

    “To be honest, I believe, de facto, your Church neither possesses the attribute nor the energy, as I believe that to be infallible in attribute one must be utterly perfect and without error in any component. And to act infallibly one must, in every way, act wholly and completely without error. Recent sex scandals make it evident that your Church is not wholly without error in action, and is not wholly without error in essence, due to containing Sin. But this seems to be a difference of definition. I would rather not argue, so much as agree to disagree if it comes to this.”

    I don’t think recent sex scandals clarify anything that wasn’t already abundantly clear to the Fathers throughout the ages. The Church is full of sinners, because it is a hospital for the soul. If by “your Church” you mean “sum total of everyone that has faith and is a member of Eastern Orthodoxy”, then yes, my Church has sin and error (and plenty to go around). But as you noted that’s a definitional disagreement. The Orthodox don’t define the Church as a collection of like-minded believers. We think the Church is an institution, and as we’ve been over before, just because a member of an institution says “x is true” doesn’t mean the institution itself is saying “x is true”. (I wrote this last section to clarify to readers how I would respond).

  52. MG Says:

    Uror–

    You wrote:

    “I should say, I no longer believe you to be in flagrant contradiction within your own belief system; though I do believe you are wrong for the above reasons. If you are content with that, perhaps we should consider making closing statements soon and having done with this.”

    I am confused about what you mean by “I do believe you are wrong for the above reasons”. Do you think your above points are a good argument against my actual beliefs, or not? If yes, please say so, and clarify the form of the argument again.

    If you do not think that your above points constitute a good argument against the idea that the Church partakes of Christ’s infallibility by grace, then if you say so we can move on. That was my position from the get-go, as I articulated it in my post. If you now think you have just been criticizing something I don’t believe, then it would be good to know. I would be interested if there are other criticisms you have, though.

  53. MG Says:

    Uror/DS–

    I’m still interested in continuing our discussion. If for some reason you think I have done something that makes discussion unprofitable, please tell me for I would like to know. If you are just occupied with other things, and have a moment to tell me so, I would like to know.

  54. Disposable Soul Says:

    -MG

    I have incidentally lost interest in the conversation because of ZSDP’s conduct on this thread. I don’t foresee any sort of salvageable dialogue among us as I don’t feel like my opinion is welcome or needed–at least on this post right now. In my eyes, this is a form of censorship and is counter-productive to a dialogue. I will admit that I have perhaps played into this by being more brusque than I needed on previous posts, and for that I sincerely apologize.

    Uror has–I think–come under a great amount of pressure at work. I am not speaking for him, but last time I heard from him that was his case.

    I will continue to keep myself updated on your site and perhaps comment if I am allowed to do so.

    Until then,

    -DS

  55. ZSDP Says:

    Disposable Soul, I am just tickled silly that you are offended by my behavior. You and Uro[…] were not placed on moderation arbitrarily or to “cheat”, and any imagining to the contrary is a sad misunderstanding since I could not care less about the outcome of the conversation. I tried to be clear and impartial—declining time and again to comment on the state of the argument, as well as offering some encouragement and advice to Uro[…]—but was forced to take action due to the inappropriate tone taken by Uro[…] and, later, yourself. Since this is our blog, and not yours, we ultimately get to decide what kind of conversation happens here, as is noted in the comment policy. If you want to speak to or about us the way you have, feel free to write on your own blog. Such comments will not appear here.

    But, really, stop acting like I’ve done you some grievous wrong. Lashing out unprovoked would be one thing, but setting up some disciplinary boundaries is quite another. Take some responsibility so we can all get over it. If you’re able to show some maturity, we may even take your IP address (which is, by the way, how I’ve identified some of your . . . other activity) off of our moderation list.

  56. Disposable Soul Says:

    -ZSDP

    I admit to being wrong in my ways beforehand. I don’t mind stating that I humbly apologize for my terse tone. It was reactionary and unnecessary. It is your blog. I swallow my pride.

    -DS

  57. ZSDP Says:

    Thanks, Disposable Soul. Hopefully, we can now move on.

  58. catz206 Says:

    Disposable Soul and Uror-

    I understand the two of you are not coming from a theo or phil educational background, but seem interested. What are your thoughts and frustrations in interacting with these types of posts (I am curious for my own blog) or blog entries? How do you think they can be improved in a constructive way?

  59. Uror Says:

    Well, to be completely honest, although I do love a good discussion, I do have several frustrations with the way things have gone.

    The first and foremost is that I tend to be blunt. It’s my way. And honestly, the fact that this merits “punishment”…. I don’t even know how to reply to that. It’s offensive, and destroys the point of even talking. Comments such as “put up or shut up” add to that feeling.

    I’ve posted on many forums and have never received this kind of treatment before, particular from someone who was not even involved in the conversation.

    I spend hours writing my replies, and editing them. I read the material repeatedly before I post, and try to be respectful, and open to my own errors. That’s all hard to do, and ZSDP has created an punitive atmosphere. It’s just not worth the effort of replying at this point.

  60. catz206 Says:

    I see what you mean. It happens though. We don’t really edit people’s comments on our blog (I didn’t know we even could), but we did end up sensoring ourselves when we first got started. People are complex and sometimes comments that are otherwise ok hit vulnerable spots or are interpreted in light of a person’s history.

    What do you think would help foster an uplifting and stimulating blog atmosphere? Thankx for your input.

  61. Uror Says:

    Well, a genuine desire to be uplifting of another person’s view point, in spite of having a differing opinion, I think is essential. Particularly for moderators, but it’s something all people should strive for. And I know I’m not perfect about it, but I try to be. As I’ve said, I had a deep respect for the Eastern Tradition, in spite of not agreeing with it. Though, I did find this experience to be a wet blanket in that arena.

    It’s possible to affirm someone’s belief without agreeing, and it’s possible to affirm someone’s reason for believing something without thinking they should believe what they do. A different perspective and set of experiences can create a very different opinion of what is “true.”

    There’s also a difference between rational and argument that I don’t think is understood. The main difference between these is that rational are beliefs/premises based on argument, and are not presented to persuade. An argument, on the other hand, is presented to persuade another person. Arguments very rarely address another person’s rational, but instead are based on one’s own rational, and so are very rarely convincing.

    Often times though, I feel like if I don’t accept an argument that is “rational” I will be judged as being “irrational.” That shouldn’t really be insulting I guess, but it does feel condescending. And I know I’m guilty of making people feel that way too; though, I certainly don’t mean to.

    When debating, I guess I don’t care so much about arguments as rational. I don’t really feel like rational is discussed often, and I think we’d get further in conversations if we did.

    I guess the bottom line is I feel like the goal becomes rolf-stomping people who don’t agree in order to feel better about our own beliefs. And although I’m also susceptible to that, I think it’s wrong.

  62. Disposable Soul Says:

    I think I agree with Uror. In order for an argument to be convincing, there must be trust on both sides. I have nothing but respect for the Eastern Traditions as well as the Catholics. I have no desire to convert but I enjoy hearing other opinions and viewpoints as I think it has the potential to foster edifying discussion and build bridges.

    MG, I would like to thank you personally for your charitable attitude towards myself. Though I disagree with many of your views, I have a growing respect for you, sir.

    All the best,

    -DS

  63. Uror Says:

    Er…
    “The main difference between these is that rational are beliefs/premises based on argument”
    This should read “based on logic”

  64. Uror Says:

    I guess to give another thing that I find personally annoying. Acting certain about things which are uncertain (such as interpretation of scripture) really creates frustrating mis-communications and hard feelings I think. Though, maybe only to me.

    Having a good argument and having proved something are very different. Arguments and proofs are not presented to a vacuum, but to a person, who has value judgments. And the arguer also has value judgments. Thus, it’s not possible to prove a thing objectively, as the value judgments are not objective. The only objective judgements are Gods, which are beyond us; and one does not present arguments to God.

    Thus, a true proof has to cater to the listener.

    Again, I feel many times people are arguing to prove what they believe to themselves, not to others.

  65. Uror Says:

    And MG, I would also like to thank you for hosting this discussion. Any frustration I have is not at all related to you. You were an admirable opponent.

  66. MG Says:

    Thanks to all for the good conversation. Hopefully there is a little bit more understanding now. If anyone would like to continue over email, that can be arranged. I’m sorry there had to be tension, and we will take precautions against that in the future.

  67. MG Says:

    Also, I should point out that there was nothing in the proximity of my comment #53 that should lead anyone to believe that ZSDP would continue to be involved in my discussion with Uror. I was asking Uror to continue discussing with me, as we had been for several previous comments successfully without interruption (and, I might add, making substantial progress). So although this discussion must now draw to a close, I have to say that I regret how unnecessary this is, especially in light of ZSDP’s comment #57 where he expressed a desire that we not repeat previous conversational patterns.

  68. MG Says:

    *sorry, “should lead anyone” should read “should have led anyone”

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