28 November 2012

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Grace is obtained either completely or not at all. It is never given piecemeal.—C.F.W. Walther, Law and Gospel, p. 164.

16 comments:

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Ἑνὶ δὲ ἑκάστῳ ἡμῶν ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τῆς δωρεᾶς τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

William Weedon said...

That's my confirmation verse, dude! Do you see it in some way disagreeing with Walther? Isn't the measure of Christ's gift the whole enchilada?

As Schmemann said so well: "And the holiness of the Church is not our holiness, but Christ's, who loved the Church and gave Himself for her 'that He might sanctify her...that she might be holy and without blemish' (Eph 5:25-27). Likewise the holiness of the saints as well is but the revelation and the realization of that sanctification, that holiness that each of us received on the day of baptism, and in which we are called to increase. But we could not grow in it, if we did not already possess it as a gift of God, as his presence in us through the Holy Spirit." (Schmemann, Eucharist, pp. 23, 24)

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Read the context of the citation. Paul immediately speaks of different gifts, various roles. The whole enchilada is not given to an individual member, but to the body as a whole (with the exception, of course, of her who is 'full of grace', who is the whole, but in miniature with her 'let it be to me according to your word' and 'whatever he tells you, do it').

The problem, I think, stems from thinking of charis merely as an imputed attribute, identical to the divine essence*, rather than as a communicated divine energy.

*Preus, Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism, II.67-68: "...the attributes, considered in and through themselves, are actually one with the divine essence...Nihil est in Deo, quod non est ipse Deus."

William Weedon said...

Do you think, then, that earlier in chapter 2, the Apostle spoke of charis as "a communicated divine energy"?

For by a communicated divine energy are you saved through faith and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not of works....

William Weedon said...

Chrysostom is interesting on the passage. He clearly runs "grace" in the sense of the charismata that we have in 1 Cor., but then when he gets to "according to the measure of Christ's gift" he says:

"But what says he? According to the measure of the gift of Christ. The chief and principal points of all, he says—Baptism, the being saved by faith, the having God for our Father, our all partaking of the same Spirit,— these are common to all."

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

WW: Do you think, then, that earlier in chapter 2, the Apostle spoke of charis as "a communicated divine energy"?

FG: Note the "merely" in my comment. The lack of distinction between essence and attributes in the post-augustinian west forces the distinction between grace properly so-called, the uncreated attribute, and grace derivatively so-called, the created gifts. So Rome goes with the created gift, at the expense of uncertainty (an epistemological problem), and Protestants go for the uncreated attribute, at the expense of communicatedness (a metaphysical problem).



Unknown said...

Dear Fr. Gregory Hogg:

According to the Scriptures, God exercises His grace both to justify and to sanctify His children. In exercising His grace for justification, He has chosen to make His children perfect – iustus. (δίκαιος). That is indeed “the whole enchilada.”
In exercising His grace for sanctification, His grace is still perfect, but He deals with us as sinners – peccator. (ἁμαρτωλός). That is receiving “a little bit of an entirely different enchilada over a long period of time”. But we do not receive God’s grace; we receive justification and sanctification, both as gifts, both individually.

The “grace” of Ephesians 4:7 is not His grace, but ours, which we have received individually as a gift, by His grace, in order to develop the qualities which build up the Church. This is human grace, imperfect grace, a quality, not any kind of “communicated energy”. “Communicated energy”, if you will is what we receive from the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in each one of the people of God. Bothe Eph.4:7 and 1 Cor. 12: 4ff clearly state that not everyone receives the same gift, and not everyone receives the gifts in the same measure. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” In both passages, the gifts are clearly given to individuals “for the common good”; that is for the edification of the Church. The Church has no “box of goodies”, from which someone can distribute gifts as they choose.

I would be grateful to you if you would point out to me a reputable Koine Lexicon which defines “grace” as “communicated energy”, or anything close to it.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Dear George,

If the grace mentioned in Ephesians 4:7 is ours, not God's, please explain how we gave it to ourselves.

Best,

Fr. Gregory

Unknown said...

Dear Fr. Gregory:

To avoid confusion, here is the entire verse, in English this time:

“Ephesians 4:7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.”

The simple answer to your question is, “Once a gift is given, whose is it?” The verse clearly states that it is “Christ’s gift” to “us”. No question, the gift is from Him, the grace is from Him, but it becomes ours.

If you propose that the grace He gives us is a part of His perfect grace, then one has to ask why we do not become perfect once we have it? The truth is that we receive many gifts from God, some of which carry the same names as the attributes of God, Gal. 5:22, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.” All of these are given “according to the measure of God’s gift”, or as St. Paul writes in Romans 12:6, “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.” These become part of us, but imperfectly, and nobody claims any “communicated energy” for them. Yes, they motivate us, and yes, they make it possible for us to want to do the will of God, but they are not substances of any kind.

We have not been given the answer to the mystery of the mechanism by which God works sanctification in us; that is, after we have become new creatures in the waters of Baptism, but we do know that none of us will be perfect, as far as the Law is concerned, until we see Him face to face. We also know that there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All powers are part of His being. Besides His angels there are no other separate powers or substances, such as grace, or even what we Lutherans hold to be “the power of the Word.” (Oops, bring the wood for the pyre!) All powers are attributes of God, and as such have no independent life.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Unknown said...

Dear Fr. Gregory:

To avoid confusion, here is the entire verse, in English this time:

“Ephesians 4:7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.”

The simple answer to your question is, “Once a gift is given, whose is it?” The verse clearly states that it is “Christ’s gift” to “us”. No question, the gift is from Him, the grace is from Him, but it becomes ours.

If you propose that the grace He gives us is a part of His perfect grace, then one has to ask why we do not become perfect once we have it? The truth is that we receive many gifts from God, some of which carry the same names as the attributes of God, Gal. 5:22, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.” All of these are given “according to the measure of God’s gift”, or as St. Paul writes in Romans 12:6, “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us.” These become part of us, but imperfectly, and nobody claims any “communicated energy” for them. Yes, they motivate us, and yes, they make it possible for us to want to do the will of God, but they are not substances of any kind.

We have not been given the answer to the mystery of the mechanism by which God works sanctification in us; that is, after we have become new creatures in the waters of Baptism, but we do know that none of us will be perfect, as far as the Law is concerned, until we see Him face to face. We also know that there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All powers are part of His being. Besides His angels there are no other separate powers or substances, such as grace, or even what we Lutherans hold to be “the power of the Word.” (Oops, bring the wood for the pyre!) All powers are attributes of God, and as such have no independent life.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Unknown said...

Sorry for the double post, but in all fairness, the system told me, in red, that I had not copied the letters and numbers correctly so that it failed to post.
George

Unknown said...

More than 30 years ago, a corporate psychologist, who had to make sure I would not go bonkers if the company sent me to Moscow, told me that I have the kind of mind that prefers complex solutions to simple ones. I thought of that in connection with 2 Cor. 13:13, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Are not “grace”, “love”, and “communion” made to be equal in terms of their qualities? (Gleichgestellt – how I love those German words that say it all) Or are each of them “communicated energy”?

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

George,

You wrote:

"The simple answer to your question is, “Once a gift is given, whose is it?” The verse clearly states that it is “Christ’s gift” to “us”. No question, the gift is from Him, the grace is from Him, but it becomes ours."

Rx: I asked "if the grace given in Ephesians 4:7 is ours, not God's, please explain how we gave it to ourselves." First you change the question, then you answer your own question.

You then continue,

GM: "If you propose that the grace He gives us is a part of His perfect grace, then one has to ask why we do not become perfect once we have it? "

Rx: Browsers have an awesome ability to scan for a given phrase. If you scan for the phrase "perfect grace," you will discover that your usage was the first.

It is difficult enough to discuss theology without having one's question(s) changed and words put into one's mouth. No profitable dialogue is possible under such circumstances.

I wish you well, George, but I am looking for Pr. Weedon to respond to my last comment to him...or not. Either way is ok. Have a blessed Nativity fast!

Unknown said...

Dear Fr. Hogg:

Responding to your last paragraph first, when you post on a blog that is accessible to anyone, you cannot demand that only certain people respond. Our faith is a precious thing to me, and I am constrained to respond when I see something that contradicts it.

Here is the first question you asked, “If the grace mentioned in Ephesians 4:7 is ours, not God's, please explain how we gave it to ourselves.” I responded, in part, “No question, the gift is from Him, the grace is from Him, but it becomes ours.” Where did I write that “we gave it to ourselves”, or even imply that? Did you put words in my mouth there, or change my question? Or do you maintain that once He gave the gift, it remains His? Nowhere did I change your questions, or put words in your mouth.

As to “perfect grace” and the browser, I haven’t a clue what you mean. My browser claims to have 187,000,000 results in 0.15 seconds.

Dear Fr. Hogg, I realize it is a burdensome thing for priests to have to deal with ignorant lay people. Please be assured that I will not impose this burden on you after this posting. Because of the many years I have lived in an Orthodox family and worshipped in Orthodox churches, I am used to this. Nevertheless, please accept my warmest wishes for a blessed celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of our most gracious Lord, to you and yours. I am fairly certain that when we see each other before the throne of God, neither of us will be concerned about whether “grace” is God’s “energy”, or “favor Dei”, His delight in us.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

William Weedon said...

Fr. Gregory,

I've been enjoying a bit the back and forth between you and George.

We've been down this path before so I'm not sure exactly what sort of reply I could give that hasn't been given before.

Certainly FC Ep III:18 is helpful: [We reject] "Not God Himself but only God's gifts dwell in believers."

I have read in some Orthodox writers that when the word "grace" is used you can substitute "Holy Spirit" and arrive at an Orthodox meaning. Is the Holy Spirit ever given piecemeal? Back to the Schmemann citation I offered earlier: the gift is given whole; our appropriation of the gift grows, albeit in great feebleness.

I confess that I simply do not find the idea of God's "energies" (as the Orthodox use the term) to be taught in the Sacred Scriptures. That God Himself gives Himself to us - that is taught in Scripture. For our Lord did not say that the energies of the Father would come and dwell in us, but as His Word dwells in us, He and His Father themselves dwell within us. We are not temples of the energies of God; we are temples of God. To make a tertium quid between the creator and the creation seems to me to create more problems than those it purports to solve.

I've been thinking though of "graces" vs. "grace." I wonder if we may speak of "graces" as created gifts and reserve the term "grace" itself for the uncreated gift of the divine favor, kindness, love?

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

Well, Pr. Weedon, perhaps we'll continue to disagree for now. Here are some excerpts from Palamas' 150 Chapters, where he offers exegetical support (both biblical and patristic) for the energies of God:

"The divine transcendent being is never named in the plural. But the divine and uncreated grace and energy of God is divided indivisibly according to the image of the sun's ray which gives warmth, light, life and increase, and sends its own radiance to those who are illuminated and manifests itself to the eyes of those who see. In this way, in the manner of an obscure image, the divine energy of God is called not only one but also many by the theologians. For example, Basil the Great says, 'As for the energies of the Spirit, what are they? Ineffable in their grandeur, they are innumerable in their multitude..."

"Isaias named these divine energies as seven, but among the Hebrews the word seven indicates many: he says, 'There shall come forth a rod from the root of Jesse and a flower shall come forth from it. And seven spirits shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, piety, counsel, might, fear." Those who hold the opinions of Barlaam and Akindynos foolishly contend that htese seven spirits are created...But Gregory the Theologian, when he called to mind these divine energies of the Spirit, said, 'Isaias was fond of calling the energies of the Spirit spirits.' And this most distinguished voice among the prophets clearly demonstrated through this number not only the distinction with respect to the divine substance but also indicated the uncreated character of these divine energies by means of the word 'rested upon,' for 'resting upon' belongs to a pre-eminent dignity. As for those spirits that rested upon the Lord's human nature which he assumed from us, how could they be creatures?" (150 Chapters, ##68, 70)

Other biblical passages St. Gregory cites include:

Rev. 1:4
Zech 4:10
Mic. 5:1 ('goings forth')
Joel 3:1 ('*of* my Spirit, not 'my Spirit')


If the 'graces' of the Spirit are simply created gifts, then you must take Isaiah 11 as referring to created gifts bestowed on the Lord's humanity. In other words, an error on the essence/energy issue will multiply into Christology, in a Nestorian direction. A proper Christology will, in the end, heal a deficient soteriology.