HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
“HOME OF BIBLICAL ORTHODOXY”
1703 Macomber St.,
Toledo, Ohio 43606
Bishop Brian J. Kennedy, O.S.B.
HOW PROTESTANTISM DIFFERS FROM BIBLICAL ORTHODOXY
When trying to discuss Protestantism it is difficult to travel the maze of doctrines and teaching, but Calvinism is a good reflection of the common views within modern Protestantism. Due to the ever mutating heresies within Protestantism, it is impossible to identify much that we can call codified doctrine and teachings. The term Protestant means ‘one who protest something’. What Protestants protest against is the ancient, Biblical faith as once delivered to the Saints.
Calvinism teaches that Adam and Eve's original sin caused total depravity in mankind to the point that people are incapable of choosing God's ways. According to Calvinism, when Adam sinned, all of his progeny became guilty of sin. This he got from Augustine and is a shared belief with Roman Catholicism. Biblical Orthodoxy rejects this view of original sin, believing instead that the only direct effect of Adam's sin on his progeny is that people lost immortality and acquired a propensity for sin as a natural condition of rebellion against God. What in Protestantism and Roman Catholicism is called Original sin, in Biblical Orthodoxy is term the Ancestral Curse because through the sin of Adam and Eve we became subject to sickness and death. Biblical Orthodoxy believes that all people retain their ability to choose to obey or disobey God.
Calvinism teaches that God chose those whom He would save and those who would be damned before the beginning of time. This is called the doctrine of election or predestination, and is based largely on a misunderstanding of Romans 8:29 through 30. Calvinists believe that only those who are specifically called by God are capable of responding positively to that call. Biblical Orthodox Christians believe that God's grace is available to all through the hearing of the Gospel. In the Orthodox way of thinking, God elects those who are to be saved or damned based on their repentance, or turning from sin to Christ, and obedience to God's word. One of my favorite lines is “Accept what I say and be saved or reject it and go to hell. The choice is yours, but know either way God loves you enough to give you the choice and so do I.” That is basically what God is saying, the choice is yours and you will suffer the consequences for your failure or be compensated for your acceptance of God in Christ.
Calvinism teaches that Jesus' death was sufficient to pay for everyone's sins, but that it only provided atonement, or payment for forgiveness and reconciliation, for those who are predestined to be saved. This doctrine is known as "limited atonement." Biblical Orthodox Christians do not view atonement in the same manner. Another heresy is the heresy called Recapitulation followed by the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Recapitulation Theory denies we are ransomed by the blood of Christ. The view of Biblical Orthodoxy and Roman Catholics is actually the correct Biblical teaching.
Calvinism teaches that grace is unmerited favor, and that those who are called are incapable of resisting God's saving grace, just as those who are reprobate are incapable of receiving it. In their view, the external Gospel message is offered to all who hear it, but God has predetermined who will and won't receive the grace needed to respond to that calling. In the Biblical Orthodox view, people have the choice to receive or to resist God's grace. Biblical Orthodox Christians view grace as the free gift of God allowing man to share in the energies of God which allows people to partake in God's nature and to become increasingly godly through the process called Theosis, or deification. The Biblical Orthodox view is shared by Roman Catholics. In the Mass we pray, “By the mystery of this water and wine may we share in the divinity of your Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”
Calvinism teaches that it is impossible for a person who has been called by God's grace and received God's grace to fall away from faith. This teaching is often expressed as "once saved, always saved." This teaching, among others, explains the disharmony with the Lutherans, all Orthodox and Roman Catholics. For Biblical Orthodoxy, salvation is a person, not a thing. If we believe and follow the Commandments and rules of God revealed in His Christ we will have “synergy with the Father in Christ”. Synergy with the Father in Christ begins in time and reaches fulfillment in eternity. The New Testament is filled with cases of people who fell away and suffered eternal damnation. The Gospel message with some people is strangled as by rocks and thorns, and for these people the Gospel is received in vain. For these the message of God revealed in His Christ is received in vain. Some start out well enough but do not persevere and for these Hell is their destiny. Some start out badly but eventually turn to God in Christ and for these Heaven is their destiny.