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Fight Club

by Andrea Elizabeth

So if you weren’t disturbed enough by this movie does that mean you’ve crossed the line or that you’ve made peace with yourself?

Romans 11

by Andrea Elizabeth

This chapter starts out by saying some of Israel have been blinded and a remnant preserved so as to motivate and make room for the Gentiles. Then St Paul says they can be grafted back in. He doesn’t say they were chosen for eternal damnation.

For the Love of Money

by Andrea Elizabeth

I just caught Tavis Smiley’s interview of Sam Polk about his book on leaving a successful career on Wallstreet called For the Love of Money. He is now a philanthropist who helps poor people eat nutritious food. The review within the above link says he does not mention religion when he describes an essentially spiritual awakening. 

Some Christians may believe his silence does not mean he is not privately a Christian as only Christians can be loving and unselfish. What the reviews say caused his eye opening is Reality and Life. A life coach and counseling helped him overcome his addictions, including to money, and to reconcile with his family. He believes not seeing people on the other side of the tracks as other but getting to know them as friends, while acknowledging different roots and thus opportunities, is key. 

I believe non Christians can be open to this type of reality. Are they performing fruitless works that do not count towards salvation? I don’t think so. Seems he meets the criteria for not being a goat to me. 

I’m wondering if what St Paul describes as fruitless works are symbolic purification laws that are believed to magically get you in. Where the state of the selfish heart behind it is ignored, and the belief that the ability to prettily say certain words and wash one’s hands in a certain ritual way will bring prestige and power over others.

Romans 10

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

As we sing every Liturgy,

O come let us worship and fall down before Christ, O Son of God who art risen from the dead, save us who sing, Allelujah, Allelujah, Allelujah.

But it’s not the only thing we sing.

The Life of Pi

by Andrea Elizabeth

was more interesting and beautiful than I expected. Spoiler* it made a disturbing story palatable. The question is which is the better story, the symbolic one or the facts? The guy representing the audience says the symbolic one. I’m wondering if it is because it paints the people more sympathetically. I think the murdering cook acting like a hyena seems too hard on the hyena and maybe too soft on the cook. Hyenas eat according to their established food chain. Predator animals may be the result of the fall but they also are part of the natural order. Mankind doesn’t get such a pass. Especially against our own species. I saw a nature show where a mother snowy owl seemed to let one of her weaker babies who had strayed from her warmth stay in the cold just long enough to pass the point of no return before she nestled it. As if she decided just to comfort it as it died before letting the other babies eat it. I wonder if it was hard for her to watch it suffer and listen to its cries.

Romans 9

by Andrea Elizabeth

The great Jacob have I loved Esau have I hated chapter that the Calvinists use. Mainly because of this: “Rom 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)”

Why could it not be of foreknowledge instead? Did not Jacob desire God’s blessing more than Esau? Did not Esau throw away his birthright for a bowl of soup? Did not Jacob have more faith? Nowhere does it say God made Jacob more zealous than Esau. It shows that God gave the inheritance/showed mercy to the one that had more faith proved by action. He was not bound by the law of the firstborn. We don’t have to totally dis Paul’s parenthetical though. God called and Jacob responded. Nowhere does it imply Jacob’s will was forced. Was Esau’s heart hardened? No, all it says is that he hungered for fleshly food more than spiritual. 

It does say Pharoah’s heart was hardened. Here’s one out to Calvinist dogma, Paul may have been speculating: “9:22 What if God”

Orthodox have a more nuanced view of inspiration and what hardened means. What if God inspired someone who does not seek him to go further in his actions than he might left to himself? It seems to me sometimes I make bigger mistakes than I intend for perhaps a different reason than I am aware of. Perhaps someone else needed to succeed instead. It’s not all about me. But my ultimate desire is for God to be glorified and his will, not my temporal one, to be done.

Romans 8

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

When I was a Protestant I remember more emphasis on the first part of that verse than the last. The last seemed an automatic result of being in Christ which is what happened after belief. 

As an Orthodox Christian I put more emphasis on the condition of walking by the Spirit, which is what miracle working Saints do. If I’m sinning, or being selfish in the flesh, then I don’t take “no condemnation” for granted. This is why it is uncomfortable for me to write “In Christ” at the end of correspondence. I don’t assume I’m walking after the Spirit.

The spiritual person mortifies his flesh (v. 13) and suffers with Christ (v. 17). It is likewise uncomfortable for me to assume any suffering is with Christ and not from living selfishly. 

But I do have hope. ““Rom 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? Rom 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

Hope that God will forgive and fix me. “Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Is it because I’m exclusively elected and others have no hope? My Church says no. Christ wants all to be saved. Does he elect all? Verse 29 says it’s the ones he foreknew. So for the ones he knows will be his sons, he guides.

Can they fall away? There’s too many other places that say they can, like the parable of the sower. I can see that it is easier to forego suffering, whether it is grieving over mistakes, enduring persecution, or caring about others. I could walk away and lose myself in more pleasurable things and forget the tug of righteousness. But Christ would not disappear. Others can will him to disappear, and he will accommodate them, but I am too much of a realist. I can’t pretend for very long stretches, anyway. To sin is to pretend and turn away. I’m a revolving door. 

Romans 7

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Rom 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

Dead to the law does not mean we are free to break it. It means it is not a way out of sin. It’s like the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It reveals our sin and thus captivates us.

“Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Rom 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. Rom 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. Rom 7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. Rom 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”

This is not saying coveting is ok once you’re dead to the law. It means that willing yourself not to covet doesn’t work. Loving Jesus more than not coveting is apparently what works.

Romans 6

by Andrea Elizabeth

I do not believe it to be a works-based theology to see the necessity of obedience as a means of yielding ourselves to God for his return gift of righteousness as in the following:

“Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”

Works-based salvation to me is isolating the works as righteous so that doing them alone, apart from submission and obedience to God, automatically makes one prosperous.

There are properties of prosperity and happiness related to good deeds that seem to be cosmically inherent, but God is not necessarily bound to them. We ask for mercy because we violate them, and because we do not want positive side effects without Him.

Romans 5

by Andrea Elizabeth

Christ’s work justifies and atones, so what does our work do? I don’t believe it does nothing. If we obey by faith, then it can almost be like an initiation. As if God says, show me your willingness to enter my life by confessing your sins, getting dunked three times, and eating this bread and wine, etc. These don’t accomplish anything without faith and grace.

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