Is Grace the Gift of Non-Discipleship?

Do Nothing“When it comes to God’s Grace, ‘our part’ is to realize that we have no part.”

I happened across this phrase on an old friend’s Facebook page recently. If you’ve never heard this line, or something like it, then you didn’t grow up in the churches I grew up in. For many, it may not be immediately apparent why a phrase like this demonstrates a highly aberrant, reductionist view of grace. There are numerous ways to go about exposing this, but let me settle with a single parable of Christ which illustrates how grace works.

Take the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30. It is a familiar passage: a man was traveling to a far country and called his servants to him and distributed his wealth giving one servant 5 talents, another 2 talents, and another 1 talent (a “talent” was the heaviest unit of weight in the ancient Hebrew monetary system), in order to do business until he returned.

On his return the master of the house called the servants to give an account of his goods. The first two servants invested the talents and returned twice the amount to the master. The servant with the 1 talent, however, hid his talent in the ground and returned it to his master just as he received it. The master’s reply to him is very telling: “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed…” He was then stripped of his talent and tossed out of the house.

What does this have to do with grace? Everything.

The traditional rendering of the ‘talents’ by the Church Fathers is that of grace. It is a picture of divine power  given to God’s servants – or, in classic Protestant speak: “unmerited favor” – in order to do the Master’s work in the world. Without this gift the servants could do nothing whatsoever. On His return the Lord will take an account of what His servant’s had done with His gift. Those who used it for the kingdom will be rewarded with the kingdom. Those who did nothing – trusting that God would do all the work, i.e. “reap where He had not sown,” – will be seen for what they are: lazy, wicked and insincere believers.

The quoted phrase above is highly deceitful. It takes a truth – “grace is freely given” – and draws an implicit false conclusion – “thus, do nothing.” Such a conclusion, if lived out, will leave one in the predicament of the talentless servant.

Those who are convinced that grace is the gift of non-discipleship will probably not be convinced by my little exposé. That’s fine. For the rest, I hope this helps to settle the fact that God wants a relationship with his children and not mere puppets and playdolls who look on as their owner plays house with them.

Thanks for reading.

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46 thoughts on “Is Grace the Gift of Non-Discipleship?

  1. Good stuff. It’s not just the charismatic “grace” crowd that parrots this nonsense. I hear it from Calvinists too.

    Craziness. It amounts to the practical annihilation of our personhood in the presence of God.

  2. This particular old friend is a do-it-yourself Calvinist, not affiliated with a denomination, but including it heavily in his preaching at his independent church.

    I totally agree that it is an annihilation of our personhood. I’ve heard you say this before and I love the phrase – perfect fit!

  3. I just wondered if they could be muddling it with Titus 3:5. But this goes on to explain that by God’s grace, and not our work, we received Christ? (I couldn’t help noticing verse 9 as well).

  4. Totally “muddled”. The verse before it gives the chronology: “when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared”… This was the part that was wholly outside the condition of man’s effort. God makes the first move toward man, but man must respond.

    It is as if a man was stuck in the bottom of a deep well with no hope of escape and along comes a person who throws a rope down and says “grab on and I’ll pull you out.” God throws the rope and does the pulling but if we don’t care to hang on with white knuckled intensity, back to the pit we fall. And one would have to be a moron or insane to think it was by his own efforts that he got out of the well.

  5. This is a great post and a keen observation about the application of Grace. Dallas Willard says it this way: “We’re not only saved by grace, we’re paralyzed by it.” He also says that, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.”

    I might post something related to this passage on my blog soon. If I do, I’ll be sure to include a link to this post!

  6. Let me respectfully submit this.

    Salvation is by faith through the agency of grace, not of ourselves lest we boast. In other words, we do NOTHING to merit or earn salvation. We merely accept Christ’s work on the cross in providing salvation. That is grace.

    FOLLOWING salvation, we are called to discipleship and that is an active role that we play in our sanctification. It does nothing to earn our salvation for that is a one-time event in the journey of faith. It is the ongoing reformation of our characters into God’s image — becoming Christ like. James made it clear that stated salvation that isn’t evidenced by works is not true salvation. Discipleship is evidence of salvation which is a consequence of grace. You cannot earn your way to salvation, but following salvation, true Christians start repaying it.

  7. aurorawatcherak, you referred to grace as an “agency”. If you could elaborate on this, what is your understanding of the nature of grace?

    Second, if you have the time, could you relate what your understanding of faith is, since salvation is indeed dependent on it.

    And if you have even more time, could you briefly state what you see different about sanctification from salvation in general.

  8. Sure.

    Agency — an action, some would call it the “workings” of grace. Grace being the unmerited favor of God that He gives to mankind, just because He loves us. That involves sending His Son to die for us and giving each of us ample evidence of His existence that we are drawn to Him, even though some of us resist successfully.

    Faith is believing in God and accepting what He as Jesus did for us on the cross. When we accept that, we have salvation.

    I do see salvation and sanctification as somewhat separate. We’re only saved once, according to my reading of Romans. But we are also constantly being renewed to God everyday, which is what the theologians call sanctification — or the act of becoming holy. As no one is holy except Christ, we use that term “becoming Christ like”. You can’t (and probably won’t) seek sanctification if you aren’t saved, but it is not the main event. It’s a consequence of salvation, not the cause of it.

  9. This reminds me of “faith without deeds is dead”. If our faith does not call us to action, what use or importance is that faith to ourselves or for others? Nothing. Christ did not tell his disciples to sit back and enjoy life. He gave then the great commission. He said Go……. Go being the verb to instruct them that their faith is that of action and deeds.

    I like you post! It really hits the nail on the head. This got me thinking! Thank you for that. It’s nice to be reminded of this. It’s not just about me. It’s about God, others and myself. I like to remember it as……
    God > Me = you (others)

  10. That’s nice bronzeagemoron. I’ll share my thought too – I like to think of it as: You and me with Jesus, with God = Us – ie., united in ONE spirit (the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, maybe applicable here?).

  11. Ah, Dallas Willard. I read his stuff years ago. Great teacher, love the “Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning,” line. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Perfect, thank you.

    Let me try to go big picture and funnel down to our discussion. One will find a huge divergence in the doctrine of salvation between the Orthodox Church and most all Western churches (i.e. Roman Catholic, Protestant, etc). The west, courtesy of Augustine, understand salvation to be a matter of legal satisfaction, or placating God’s wrath against sin. This stems from Augustine’s faulty interpretation of Romans 5:21 where he interpreted the transmission of the “guilt” for Adam’s sin onto his offspring. But as the Greek text and the Church Fathers understood the transmission to be was not guilt but death – death spread to all of Adam’s descendants.

    What does this have to do with anything? Well, through the centuries the idea developed in the west that salvation was a matter of legal declaration (or satisfaction); that God merely declared one was righteous, covered in the blood of the lamb, and henceforth “saved.” The idea was that Christ’s blood was a “covering” that made us appear as Jesus before the Father, and since the Father loves the Son, He in turn loves us (since we are wearing Him, so-to-speak). The East, however, continued with the understanding that death was the enemy – not God – and the destruction of death is what constituted salvation. Thus, Christ’s death – being the death of the incarnate God – effectively trampled down death by death. When he raised to life, his resurrected life became a new constitution for human nature for those who would be baptized in Him.

    This filters one’s understanding of not only what salvation is but what faith and grace are. For many western Christian, faith is mere belief; grace is a “force” or, as you put it, “agent,” which acts as a go-between God and man, making man acceptable to God; and salvation is a onetime event. For the Eastern Orthodox faith is one’s entire life; grace is the very presence and power of God; and salvation is a journey home.

    One will find in Scripture that salvation is regularly referred to as a continual journey (see 1Cor 1:18; 2Pet 1:4; and Rom 13:11, for starters), for the simple fact that salvation involves the whole person, and we are all a work in progress. One also finds that Paul himself understood that he would become an reprobate if he lived contrary to his own preaching, and hence “disciplined his body” to make it submit to the spirit (1Cor 9:27). These are just the surface of the study, I encourage a lengthy Scripture study on this subject to see its merit.

    Faith is not mere belief, but one’s whole being. This is why Jesus says that one must love God not only with his intellect but with his “strength”. Ancient Gnosticism made the mistake of imagining salvation to be a matter of strictly belief, as if one’s body is not part of the equation. Search the Scripture and you will find innumerable proofs that one’s entire life combined is the measure of whether one has faith or not. And, the OP is just the start for an understanding of grace. Grace is God’s gift of Himself and His power – it is not an abstract sin covering, it is the very empowerment to become a disciple. “Be strong in the grace of our Lord”, etc, etc.

    Sorry for the lengthy response, but it could have been 1000 times longer. I’d be happy to answer any part of my diatribe in more detail if you wish. Thanks for the reply. Cheers!

  13. Well said, BAMoron. I would say that faith does not “call us to action” but faith cannot be separated from action because faith involves one’s entire being. We have a tendency to separate belief from living as if man’s being is truly dualistic. But this is not the case. Our living cannot be separated from our thinking in any serious way, particularly as it relates to salvation. This is why James was so confident in his challenge to show him faith apart from works, knowing it could not be done. It would be like asking someone to remove the coffee from the water after it was brewed.

  14. Fantastic perspective! I never knew that about the parable of the talents, but it makes a whole lot of sense =)
    When i first read the quote from your friend though, i didnt translate it the way you did: i was thinking more along the lines of humility, in the sense that we cant change a life, its not in our power, and thats where we have to let His grace work in a heart.
    And agreed, thats not to say we should not work at all, but just that we can only do so much before it’s solely up to Him to move a person from their ignorance.
    Yes, grace, i think, may be equivalent to faith in that it is a force we exhibit through our choices, as faith is displayed in our works; similarly, God’s love is not derived from us, but we may display it if we are the overflowing vessel that we should be, eh?
    I think what im gettinig it is that you make a great point here on the nature of grace and you’re right: its a gift from Him that we have the responsibility to share and exhibit. I just noticed that there seems to be another perspective on the original quote, perhaps one that isnt as invalid as the one you addressed =)

  15. By coincidence, I was also just going to ask how can we be sure of their meaning? it seems such a ridiculous conclusion to make against all the evidence from Jesus and other places! Any assurance on this from you Eric?

    It is also interesting, (for me at least!), that we read of some who are not under the law but live by it naturally, some who are under it and obliged to live by it, and those who ‘know not what they do’, and Jesus pleaded for their forgiveness because they act badly in ignorance. So, once you know what is requested, one must do ones best to abide by it.

  16. With this particular person (the author of the quote), I am quite well acquainted and can say without a doubt that he meant it in the way I described. He is not altogether against fulfilling Christ’s commands, only that such fulfillment is “optional,” so to speak, and not inherently necessary for salvation.

  17. To answer your overall observation, I know the author of the quote quite well and have had over 20 years of interactions with him to verify his intention with the phrase. He truly believes, as do millions of other like-minded people, that salvation is simply a matter of acknowledging Jesus as Savior; that grace is released upon such an acknowledgement and this forever seals the deal of salvation, irregardless of one’s actual life in the faith.

    This, of course, is the worst kind of modern innovations found on the Christian stock exchange of heterodoxy. It mostly stems from the idea that grace is a “force” or a cosmic “mediator” between God and man. Grace is actually the very presence of God – it is God’s gift of Himself, allowing believers to become true disciples of Him, be become “partakers of the divine nature” (2Pet 1:4).

    I think many also conflate the idea of “mercy” with the idea of “grace.” Though grace has elements of mercy, since God is merciful, it’s fuller reality is that it is the presence of God for the purpose of transforming a person from death to life – to walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh. It is not a “pass” from walking in the Spirit, as many imagine it to be.

  18. This is going to require a fuller response than I have time for at the moment. My family is headed to a local hotsprings to soak the cold out of our bones.

    I tend to agree with you on the subject of death, but evangelicals view the death as spiritual as well as physical.

  19. Haha, reading over my answer I can see why you might think I was defensive. I promise it was not in my heart whatsoever. I appreciate your input very much.

  20. Thank you for igniting the spirit of envy within me. Have a good time at your hot springs while I soak my bones in chilling, windy Oklahoma winter. Cheers.

  21. Clarity you say – now that’s a precious thing! But not so easy to achieve anywhere, let alone in blogs with so many things aiding its failure, such as the limits of short blogs, the desire to be brief, different understandings of the same words, no personal knowledge of the stranger, or the basis for their comment, egos, time, and WILL! But we try, and hopefully learn! It is good to share our questions, thoughts and information politely, so thanks for the blog.

  22. I live in Alaska, Eric. Interior Alaska, where it was 25 below when I typed that statement. I choose to live here so I can’t legitimately complain, but in January, an Oklahoma winter sounds practically tropical to us.

    So, the topic you continued is really a lot of topics in one. I’m probably going to have to post this on my blog with Scripture references, but to further the discussion …

    All humans are born dead because of what Adam’s sin (disobedience) did to us. My husband, who was raised Roman Catholic, agrees with you that Catholics put a lot of emphasis on guilt, but neither of us would say that evangelicals, at least not Baptists in Alaska, focus much on guilt over sin so much as the status of our spirits because of sin. Since Adam ate that fruit, the entire human race has been born spiritually dead because Adam disobeyed God, which is all sin is. It’s that unrepentant disobedience that separated the whole of mankind from God in the first place and it is what continues to keep us separate from Him now. We humans have no ability to bring ourselves to life. Only God can do that. When we accept that Jesus died on the cross for us, we agree that we weren’t right with God and that we can’t get right with Him on our own. Grace draws us toward the relationship with Jesus, but we can and often do reject it without even consciously recognizing we’ve done so.

    So, I agree that salvation is about overcoming death, but the death is spiritual, not physical.

    The larger issue of salvation is too big of a topic here. I’ll post here when I’ve gotten something up on my blog.

  23. aurorawatcherak, we ran out of “reply” options above so I’m responding here hoping you’ll catch it.

    I was not so much referring to any supposed emphasis on guilt within Roman Catholic teaching, but rather on the specific orientation the West has taken towards salvation and anthropology since at least the time of Augustine. It is usually taught in Catholic and Protestant circles that what was passed on from Adam to humankind is the “guilt” of his original sin; it is this guilt that they believe must be dealt with in order to appropriate salvation.

    In the Eastern Church, it is believed that Adam passed death on to his descendants rather than guilt. In short, we are not guilty of Adam’s sin, we are guilty of our own sin. However, we must deal with death – both physical and spiritual (again, trying not to create a false sense of dualism in one’s doctrine of man). Salvation is thus not a legal contract but rather the gift of God’s life which is a continual journey lasting all of one’s life. Google the Orthodox doctrine of deification or theosis for more insight into this.

    I look forward to your post on your own blog site. Cheers.

  24. Sorry Eric, not aurorawatcherak! But, I searched orthodoxwiki and found philokalia (even the definition ‘love of the holy’ makes one melt), and ‘The Ladder of Divine Ascent’. Could you possibly let me have your brief understanding of step 18 on the ladder? Thank you.

  25. Ooo, I wish I could. I have actually not read the Ladder of Divine Ascent as of yet. I have been meaning to, and will, but I have been occupied with other readings, specifically the Philokalia (currently finishing Vol. III), and up to my neck in St. Symeon the New Theologian. Both of these sources speak of the “Ladder” frequently. I am very much looking forward to it.

  26. Actually, my question was asking something more simple than you thought. In Orthodox Wiki it lists the 30 steps. I merely failed to understand to follow the sentence given to show the subject of step 18, which was – On insensibility, that is, deadening of the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body. I can understand the concept of the soul becoming deadened due to our insensibility but I did not follow the next bit ‘and the death of the mind before the death of the body’. I wondered what you would understand that to mean? Do you have any suggestions now that you know it was not meant to be in depth? Sorry to be a pest!

  27. Oh, got ya. I know that for the Orthodox monk, the true battle is not necessarily resisting temptation in the flesh (body), but rather the mind. If one can stop the sinful thought from entering the mind and being nurtured there, sin never comes to life in the body. My knee jerk reaction to your question is that the body does not die unless the mind first relents in its fight of faith. Whether John has in mind mere physical death of the body or something more mystical I don’t know. One of the “rules” of the spiritual life in Orthodoxy is that one must not only know the principles of which he teaches but practice them as well, otherwise he is blowing hot air. I’m essentially blowing hot air since I’ve not even read the text, but I hope it helps. 🙂

  28. Yes, of course! You’ve thrown me back on track. It is surely, part of the thought, word and deed process. (And we cannot stop the wrong thoughts of the body without filling the mind with the things of true beauty). I get the meaning now. Better still, perhaps, I’ll read it sometime. Thank-you 🙂

  29. Hi brother, I happened to stumble upon your blog one day and I’ve been really enjoying your posts. I like the way you see the dance between grace and faith. I’ve found that some groups in the body of Christ focus a lot on grace, while others focus entirely on faith. (And when I say faith I mean our response to God/ his grace). But anyways, I’m not sure if you have ever read any of Brennan Manning’s books, but he writes a lot about the love and grace of God. I would highly recommend reading any of his stuff, he’s one of my favorite authors. His “final” book that he wrote is a memoir entitled, “All is Grace” It’s a really powerful story about the love of God throughout Brennan’s life. Anywho, thanks for writing, I will keep reading you’re posts 😀

  30. Hello Mitchell, thank you for the kind words. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything of Brennan. Sounds interesting. As soon as I’m off the hook for a few weeks from school (in the middle of a masters in counseling psychology degree) I’ll see if I can check him out. Glad to have you on. Cheers!

  31. Pingback: Is Grace the Gift of Non-Discipleship? | Orthodoxy in Bytes

  32. Hi Eric,
    I love your blog. I’m in the process of putting together Christian testimonies on my blog. If you have yours written down, would you mind if I “borrowed” it? I would need to copy and paste it directly to my blog for a full effect. It would be part of a group that would be listed under a “Testimonies” Page at the top of my blog.
    God Bless,
    robin claire

  33. Hi again,
    I can’t find an “About” Page on your blog. Do you have one somewhere. If not, do you think you might be willing to put one up so we can get to know you a little bit better?
    God Bless,
    robin

  34. Hello Robin, you’ll find my “about” page link on my home page along with all the article categories (its the first one).

    I would love to write out my testimony, and I’ve been meaning to lately, I’m just really busy with work, babies, and school. I wrote a long series of my journey into the Orthodox faith, but have been meaning to condense it to a single article. You’ve reminded me with your post and hopefully I’ll have a break to put one together and would be honored to be put up on your blog.

    Cheers!

  35. I have read the Ladder. It is a real treat! I have it in PDF form on my IPad. He goes through all the different steps and struggles when goes against in achieving noetic prayer and becoming a true hesychast. I love John Climacus! He’s truly a poster child for Eastern Orthodox monasticism!

    And I agree that one is not guilty of Adam’s sin, and we are guilty only for our own. It makes perfect sense, too! We must not get tied down in Roman legalism.

    This has been one of the greatest misunderstandings of Christianity in the West. That is why I get slightly frustrated when exumenist Catholics scream that we are the same and that we should be reunified again, when many of the similarities are more surface level, (praying to Saints, seven sacraments, monasticism, etc) and they ignore things like the Filioque, Christology, sin, redemption and atonement being emphasized over deification being emphasized, hesychast versus prayers like the Rosary, etc. We are more similar than the Protestants, but we are not the same! Orthodox Christianity is indeed its own distinct tradition and faith. Personally, I do not want to lose any of this, or be turned into a Catholic by ecumenist efforts. We are Orthodox, have the right idea of sin, and that is final. They can believe what they want, but I am not buying any of it.

    I also think we are accountable for our sins more than Evangelicals would care to admit, and that not anyone can go into the Kingdom of God. We must have faith with works, with the all important grace as well. They all are important ingredients needed in the Kingdom of God. A terrible sinner who has faith but no works, like an idolater who sodomizes and uses blasphemy can not go into Heaven, for example, if he does not repent and change for the better. We must “go, and sin no more.” Sn severs our relationship with God.
    Anyway, interesting topic! I love your writing, by the way!

  36. Eric, I’d like to ask you a question that popped into my mind after reading your replies here:
    Do you believe in a historical Adam (and Eve) ?
    I think, this would be a difficult position to hold using the historical-critical method for interpretation of scripture. It would also be difficult to reconcile (for me at least ) with current scientific understanding of the role of other now extinct hominids in the origins of homo sapiens sapiens. To go back to a common ancestor you would probably have to go back to at least to 200,000 BC. I think it is easier to find Adam. Just look into your bathroom mirror and he is going to look back at you. I think this should be considered as an option when interpreting Genesis.

  37. That is a good question. I’ve wrestled with where to land on that one many times. I’m resolved to believe they were real beings but I do not hang any necessity on it (as if the faith crumbles if Genesis is not a fully literal account). I side with the church fathers on this; they seem fairly unanimous in treating the story as an allegory which teaches a lesson about us all individually. We are Adam, we turned from God, we desired our own kingdom outside of God’s rule, we lost the paradise of his presence, and are restored by the second Adam, Jesus Christ. As far as literal history, I do believe that at some point God literally created mankind in His image and likeness and breathed his life into us, making life out of dirt. It really doesn’t matter what the fossil records do or don’t say about the matter, cause really they don’t say anything about it, even if we had an accurate record.

  38. Eric, thank you for the reply. You may ask yourself why I even bring this up in a post about grace. Grace and justification can cleanse us from sin, detach us from out tendency to sin and are a healing force for our broken nature, as I read it. I think, understanding of grace, justification or salvation can only be approached by first looking at our need for it. I don’t expect we will able to grasp fully what grace is, because it is a supernatural thing beyond the human intellect. In any case a reflection on the need for grace leads to Genesis and Adam, hence the question.

    However for me it is quite important to come to a decision on whether Adam was a historical person or not and whether the fall is a metaphor for general human behavior or an actual act in space and time. I need to be able to reconcile modern scientific understanding of human origins with biblical interpretation. There can only be one truth. Without this axiom I might as well sit in front of the tube and numb myself with a six-pack of beer.

    Now if I open my Catholic Study Bible and read the commentary on Genesis I learn that there seems to be a consensus amongst modern Bible scholars that the type of literature in Genesis 1-11 is mythological. That would mean these chapters convey inerrant spiritual truths using the science and worldview of the ancient time and perhaps even older creation myths, but neither Adam nor Noah would likely be actual persons and neither the fall nor the flood would be narrated in a way that make them likely to be historical events. Actual history perhaps starts with Abraham if I understand this right. If I read your reply right this is close to how you see it, too.

    Still, biological understanding of human origins and reproduction were obviously vastly different from what they are now and even at the time when doctrines of original sin were formulated they were much closer to ancient than to modern understanding. It was quite possible to conclude that all of humankind was actually in a way “present” at the presumed historical event of the fall, because people thought the sperm (seed) contained the whole person without contribution from the mother (she was just the vessel or the soil the seed is put into). So we were all “in Adam”. This was still the biological understanding (the context for the spiritual truth) that the Church fathers had and I think it may be reflected in the doctrines to some extent.

    As a scientist I see overwhelming evidence that humans were created not in one instance but rather through an evolutionary process. There are ample fossil records and more telling still we can compare the human genome to that of an chimpanzee and find nearly complete agreement.

    There are now many interesting questions that I ask myself. When did we cross from animal to human? When were we able to recognize good and evil or in other words when did we become morally culpable. When did we get a transcendent soul? What I read in Genesis is that humans have been created by God in His image, hence have reason and free will, and eventually could tell the difference between good and evil. Humans have an option to decide against God. All humans are sinners and cannot get right with God without grace which He thankfully provides in abundant measure. The finer details are beyond me (Sorry to gloss over this with a broad brush. I wish the Church would provide an explanation that a modern scientist can digest. I may need to learn to be more comfortable with mysteries, maybe.)

    Now how death supposedly comes into the world is another stumbling block for me. Death is genetically pre-programmed, as far as I understand it. Cells divide a limited number of times and then they stop and we start to decline. We have a hardwired expiration date of about 140 years max. We know that all animals died long before humans roamed the earth. They have the same genetic clock. So when we hear that death entered the world because of Adam’s sin, what does that mean then? To me this must refer to spiritual death. Again biological understanding of the Church fathers was of course totally different and we may need to consider this.

    What I wrote here is an open topic for me. I’m very interested what you and perhaps others think about this.

  39. From my studies I understand the Augustinian interpretation of the fall as relying on the idea that we all sinned along with Adam due to us all somehow being contained in his “loins” and when he and Eve reproduced the reproduction was tainted – hence the idea of something like a genetically transferred fallen state. He gained much of this theology through what the Orthodox Church believes was a faulty reading of Romans 5:12 (Augustine was self-admittedly lacking sophistication with translating Greek into Latin).

    When this idea is removed (which it seems to be absent from the Father’s prior to Augustine) the whole picture of the fall and salvation is very different. That’s just a brief reaction, hopefully we can get more into the theology of it when time allows (assuming you want to 🙂 ).

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