Can non-monks be saved?

Can non-monks be saved?.


15 comments on “Can non-monks be saved?

  1. Can’t help but wonder what the context is here. Hesychasts always teach that any experience of the Divine Light is only a gift of grace and not the work of Hesychast prayer. The prayer only positions one to receive the grace but isn’t even necessary for it- ie. St. Paul. My guess is St. Simeon is saying if one has not seen the light it is only because God had not granted them this gift of grace. Certainly not because they haven’t earned it.

  2. John says:

    Can misrepresentations of Orthodoxy based on taking something out of context, as well as assuming that because a saint has Theologian after his name that EVERYTHING he ever uttered is infallible, be considered a valid criticism?

    Yes, St. Symeon is an important saint to the Orthodox. No, he is not infallible in everything he says (even if, for the sake of the argument, we assume that what you have insinuated is true), nor is ANY saint in Orthodoxy. You know this, Jacob. Stop burning straw men.

  3. I don’t know what else to say. When I quote your fathers, especially the holier ones, and you don’t like the conclusions, you accuse me of straw manning. Yet when I choose to reject a portion of the fathers, I get accused of Western arrogance and not submitting to the church. One cannot have it both ways.

  4. John says:

    It’s more complicated than that. There isn’t even any consideration for context here. What is St. Symeon saying here? We can’t really tell without context. So, at the very least, you’re being dishonest for failing to provide any, in hopes that folks will take this quote as you have taken it, and burn your straw man upon it.

    The portion (or portions) of the Fathers that you choose to reject are many of the doctrines that the Fathers hold IN COMMON (sorry, I don’t know how to italicize in the combox): baptismal regeneration comes to mind as does ecclesiology, holy orders, and veneration of the saints. Anyone can take an isolated quote from a Father (context or no context) and do what you’ve done here. First, show with context that St. Symeon says what you accuse him of here. Second, if you successfully do that, show me where other saints agree with him and how that agreement is worked out in our liturgy, hymnography, etc. Then, and only then, would you have a case. But an isolated quote, without context, does not an argument make. What it shows, if what you say is even true, is that some saint has shown himself to not be infallible. Well, that’s no revelation to anyone Orthodox (or Roman Catholic, or Oriental Orthodox or most Protestants more than ankle deep in Patristic theology).

    Again, show St. Symeon’s quote in context of what he has just written, as well as within the context of his works. Then show us where other fathers agree and how this is worked into the Orthodox sacramental life. That would be the proper way of constructing a strong case against the Orthodox.

    • The context is about hesychasm and prayer to receive the divine light. This is standard in all Orthodox and non-Orthodox histories and textbooks on this stuff. I do wonder if the appeals to context are simply dodges. Symeon’s quote is awful-sounding in the light of Christ’s finished work on the cross.

      I took this (and other) statements from the following books: two by John Meyendorff (St Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality and Christ in Eastern Christian Thought; another work is Placher’s History of Christian Doctrine. I got these from my alma mater’s library, which I won’t be able to get again until next January.

  5. Karen says:


    From my p.o.v., this is an outstanding example of taking Orthodox statements about “salvation” and shoehorning them into a Reformed framework (foresic PSA) within which they (and the biblical witness in its full context) do not fit. It seems to me also you, as John points out, set up straw men and take Orthodox writings out of their own natural context.

    • I don’t see how forensic has anything to do with it. Symeon’s statement is fairly straightfoward: can people who have not seen the uncreated energies be saved?

  6. Karen says:

    How do you understand what “seeing” the “uncreated energies” denotes? How do you understand the term “saved” in this context? If you can answer those questions, we might be able to have a fruitful dialogue.

    • The same way Gregory Palamas does: my bodily eyes see the uncreated energies of God (on this theory). This is standard hesychasm.

      As to being “saved.” I understand Symeon’s use of the term to be participating in the Logos. Not saved, as Maximus makes clear in his non-Universalist moments, means falling into non-being.

  7. Karen says:

    What you understand to be “standard hesychasm”, I understand to be the West’s standard misunderstanding of hesychasm, and I notice that you quote a third party (a 20th century Presbyterian historian) quoting St. Symeon very briefly without context, and both you and Placher appear to draw conclusions from St. Symeon that no Orthodox would. With respect to your own brief comments where you cannot find “the gospel” in this message and wonder why Jesus had to die in such a scheme, it is clear you are transposing St. Symeon’s meaning in his own context into a western Presbyterian “covenantal” paradigm foreign to that of Orthodoxy (and likely reducing the implications of a biblical “covenant” in and through Christ to something less–from an Orthodox perspective–than what it truly implies). That you describe the EO understanding of the “ontological” of our salvation as “magic” also tells me you have missed the mark in terms of understanding the nature of a fully biblical view of the “mystery” (the biblical term) of Christ in His Church. “Salvation” in its biblical fullness is none other than our complete transformation into the likeness of Christ through communion in and through Christ with the Holy Trinity. This is a process impossible apart from our voluntary asset to participation in it (of which “works of spiritual discipline” as works of faith are necessary indicators but insufficient of themselves to effect this transformation). This process is, first made possible and always empowered (though never coerced) by God’s initiative in Christ. There is no hope for you to properly understand the real meaning and implications of Orthodox teaching if you are going to always run it through the grid of Presbyterian definitions and presuppositions.

    • I’ll quote much of a chapter by John Meyendorff in a few days. Will that count?

      ***draw conclusions from St. Symeon that no Orthodox would***

      Does this Orthodox guy count?

      *** it is clear you are transposing St. Symeon’s meaning in his own context into a western Presbyterian “covenantal” paradigm foreign to that of Orthodoxy (and likely reducing the implications of a biblical “covenant” in and through Christ to something less–from an Orthodox perspective–than what it truly implies).***

      You have said that I do this. You have not demonstrated it to be the case.

      ***That you describe the EO understanding of the “ontological” of our salvation as “magic” also tells me you have missed the mark in terms of understanding the nature of a fully biblical view of the “mystery” (the biblical term) of Christ in His Church. ***

      Chain of being ontology is ultimately magic. Maximos very clearly holds to chain of being. And when the Bible uses the term “mystery” it means that which is to be revealed.

  8. Karen says:

    The guy in your link does not appear to be an Orthodox Saint or Father, nor even a Bishop in the canonical Orthodox Church. Is he even a monk? Do you have his bio.? So, no, at this point, to me he doesn’t count and isn’t even worth reading. The whole issue of salvation in and outside the Church is so subject to misunderstanding among modern Christians (whether Orthodox or otherwise), it’s really beyond my ability to tackle here. (We have had some discussion at Orthodox Bridge where I think I have made some of my own perspective clear, so I think you know where i stand). I find Fr. Stephen Freeman’s treatment of the subject though is about as close to a genuinely Orthodox response appropriate to the American context and faithful to the meaning of the Tradition in its own full context as any I would recommend. Even a chapter, here and there, by a modern Orthodox scholar (and I do respect Meyendorff from what little I know of him, but he doesn’t speak infallibly for Orthodoxy) is not likely to shed real light on this for you. It has to be rightly related to everything else the Church teaches. Pressed through your Reformed and Presbyterian grid, it will be deformed beyond recognition. As for the “magic” of St. Maximus’ teaching, I believe this is your misunderstanding.

    • You still haven’t shown how my statements by Orthodox theologians are being interpreted through a Protestant grid. You keep saying it, but I see no arguments to the effect.

      And even if Fr Raphael is “non-canonical” (which begs a host of questions), the men he quotes are recognized as such. But as usual, someone will respond wit, “They don’t count,” ad infinitum.

      • Karen says:

        What this ultimately comes down to, Jacob, is that when it comes to understanding the meaning of language about something, context is everything. The context of a non-canonical “Orthodox” scholar/writer is significant to me–I don’t care who he’s quoting. Satan quoted the Scriptures to Jesus in the wilderness to support his temptations of Christ–are you going to protest, “but it’s the Scriptures he quoted!” then also? In my experience, until you go poking around a subject from enough angles, it is hard to figure out the real context of what is being said or done. We always come with our own background and biases, and these often mislead our interpretation of another’s culture, actions, or language. When the language of the Fathers or of Orthodox Saints gets transposed into the framework/context of the Reformation – Counter-Reformation debates, they are simply deformed beyond recognition. You don’t have to accept my testimony to that, but it is simply my witness and my experience as a former conservative Evangelical become Orthodox.

  9. Karen says:

    I have no arguments for you, Jacob. What I offer is my intuitive impression of what you are doing based on my first-hand experience with my former Evangelical context (and how I thought then, which I find mirrored in many ways in what you now express) and what I have discovered on my journey to and within Orthodoxy.

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