St. Maximos the Confessor, Chapters on Love

If we are saved by grace, through faith (Eph 2:8), why is an effort of our will required? Our works do not save us, but we cannot be saved without works.

This is a paradox to many, who feel the need to deny the truth of one statement or the other. A full understanding of this mystery comes only with spiritual discernment, but the teachings of the saints can help us attain some measure of understanding.

The following teachings of St. Maximus the Confessor, from his Four Hundred Chapters on Love, provide some help to us.

What anyone loves he surely holds on to, and looks down on everything that hinders his way to it so as not to be deprived of it. And the one who loves God cultivates pure prayer and throws off from himself every passion which hinders him.

The one who sees a trace of hatred in his own heart through any fault at all toward any man whoever he may be makes himself completely foreign to the love of God, because love for God in no way admits to hatred for man.

The one who loves me,' says the Lord, 'will keep my commandments,' and 'this is my commandment, that you love one another.' Therefore the one who does not love his neighbor is not keeping the commandment, and the one who does not keep the commandment is not able to love the Lord.

These texts make it clear than none of us loves God as we ought, as the Lord commands us to. What, then are we to do?

The purpose of the commandments is to make simple the thoughts of things; the purpose of reading and contemplation is to render the mind clear of any matter or form; from this ensues undistracted prayer.

The commandments are given us in order to free us from the need to figure things out ourselves, and to teach us to trust God. Reading and contemplation are given us in order to redirect our mind away from earthly things and toward God. This explains  why the best reading is Holy Scripture — the Word of God — and the works of the Holy Fathers are a close second, but worldly writings (even those about religious topics) can even be harmful.

And so works help us grow in the love of God:

"Do not say that 'mere faith in our Lord Jesus Christ can save me.' For this is impossible unless you acquire love for him through works. For in what concerns mere believing, 'even the devils believe and tremble.'

But at the same time, it is a grave error to think that these works save us:

"The one who has not yet obtained divine knowledge activated by love makes a lot of the religious works he performs. But the one who has been deemed worthy to obtain this says with conviction the words which the patriarch Abraham spoke when he was graced with the divine appearance, 'I am but earth and ashes.'"

Works are important as a means of developing in ourselves that love – a practical, all-encompassing love that encompasses our entire being – mind, heart, and will. Works do not save us, but they are necessary because our fallen will fights against accepting that salvation, preferring the love of transitory, earthly things to that of God.

St. Maximus is one of the best known opponents of the Monothelite heresy. This was an imperially sponsored heresy, a "compromise" designed to unite the Christians in the empire in the face of attacks from external enemies.

The monophysite heresy, which was formally rejected at the 4th Ecumenical council in the year 431, stated that Jesus Christ had only nature. His Divine Nature, according to this view, completely assimilated the human nature that He assumed at the Incarnation. The fathers rejected this view. If Christ did not have a complete human nature, they explained, then our human nature has not been saved.

Many people continued to hold on to the monophysite viewpoint during the 5th-6th centuries, so the Byzantine Emperor tried to re-unite the two parties by proposing that Christ had two natures (Divine and human) but only one (Divine) will. This is the monothelite position.

St. Maximus and the Orthodox fathers following him insisted in the importance of Christ's human will — and the active participation of our human will — in the matter of our salvation. We are gifted with free will and must freely choose to love God rather than ourselves, our passions, or the things of this world. Christ fully submitted his human will to the Divine will, as a free choice — and so must we.

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19 Responses to “St. Maximos the Confessor, Chapters on Love”

  1. Scott Cawthon says:

    It was good to read this. From an outside perspective it's easy to view Orthodoxy as a religion that does not believe in salvation through faith alone due to the amount of symbolism and tradition involved in Orthodoxy. So it's good to see simple truths reaffirmed. :)

  2. St James makes it very clear that faith without works is dead. If we define faith as believing the truth and living according to that belief, then I suppose that we could say that faith “alone” saves. St James never says that, and I think that since there are many people who wrongly dichoI guess it really defines on how a person narrowly defines “faith”.tomize between faith and works, we should not say that salvation is through faith alone, since many would take this statement in a wrong and even heretical way. Instead we take the same position as St James:

    Jas 2:14-20 KJV What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (20) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

    As for all the symbolism involved in Orthodoxy, there is a WHOLE LOT of symbolism in the scriptures, How many times was baptism, the cross, the virgin birth, the incarnation, the Eucharist and many other Christian dogmas and practices symbolized in OT events and practices? We are symbolic people, so true religion is symbolic too. This is one of the things that most edified me when I left Evangelical Protestant doctrine and worship for Orthodoxy. There was so little beauty in the Evangelical services. A couple of hymns, a few extemporaneous prayers and wildly carrying quality and even accuracy, a few testimonies. There was not rhythm to the year, no Eucharist, no splendor in the worship, and certainly no symbolism in the worship. We are the stones that are raised up to Abraham and Christian worship has always been Jewish in character, with splendor, and symbolism, and a calendar of feasts, and kept traditions.

    Our services are so full of absolute truths about dogma, faith and morals that nothing is hidden. It is all there, over and over. It is all Scriptural, often symbolic, and strikingly poetic and beautiful, like the Psalms. Any of our services reaffirms simple truths over and over again, because another aspect of human nature is that we need to be reminded of what is good over and over.

    If a person wants to know what we believe, being in the services, or even reading them will be the best way.

  3. Scott Cawthon says:

    I think saying that "faith without works is dead" means that a living faith produces works, and not that works are separate from faith, as to say that faith is insufficient. Notice that when he speaks about demons he doesn't use the word "faith" anymore, but "belief". The demons believe, but they don't have faith. Faith produces fruit of the spirit. The test between the two is whether a person who claims to have faith is producing fruit. If there is no fruit then it's a sign that the root (their faith) is dead, because living faith produces fruit (works). That doesn't mean that they should be separated as two items equally in need, but rather that faith should be judged by the works, just as Peter said that you could see his faith by his works.

    It certainly might send a confusing message to say that faith alone saves. That is a message easily taken the wrong way. But trying to clarify by adding that faith AND works saves sends an equally confusing (and perhaps more dangerous) message that will have the weak in faith once again struggling to earn their salvation instead of nurturing a faith that would produce those works out of love.

  4. Scott, I would only add to your statements, following St. Maximus, that the works that our Lord appoints for us to do play a vital role in nurturing in us that faith of which you speak.

    And, as I like to point out when this topic comes up, strictly speaking neither faith nor works nor anything else we do can save us. God saves us by His grace. What is required of us is to accept that salvation: to desire it along with everything that it entails (including a life truly reflecting the image of God rather than our own fallen desires), to recognize that we can do nothing to attain, earn or merit it, to place all our hope in God who can give it to us and to accept and take full advantage of the means He has appointed for doing so.

    Of course, of ourselves we cannot even desire salvation, but this is accomplished by a synergy of our will and God's grace, acting hand in hand.

    That is my feeble articulation of the mystery to the extent that I understand it. St. Maximus does better, of course : ).

  5. Deborah says:

    "Christ fully submitted his human will to the Divine will, as a free choice — and so must we…."
     
    And by doing so, Christ freed our human wills from bondage to sin, so that we are able, by grace, to do likewise.

  6. Thank you, Deborah. An important point, and well said. I knew I left something out : ).

  7. Deborah says:

    "…. But trying to clarify by adding that faith AND works saves sends an equally confusing (and perhaps more dangerous) message that will have the weak in faith once again struggling to earn their salvation instead of nurturing a faith that would produce those works out of love."
     
    This is an understandable concern, but from this the question arises: how do you "nurture a faith that would produce those works out of love".   Faith, given to us by God, begins the process but that faith is then nurtured by works.  The faith produced by these works of love leads to more works and more faith. (You can have works without faith–but without faith, they will not be the kind of works that produce more faith.) So you can't anymore say that you can have faith without works than you can say you can get an egg without a chicken or a chicken without an egg.   Chickens and eggs are inextricably linked to one another, and so are faith and works. Both are necessary parts of the salvation process. But as Dn. Nicholas points out and the words of St. Paul confirm, neither our faith nor our works save us, but God's gift of grace which produces Love.
     
    "…though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing."    1 Cor. 13:2-3

  8. Deborah says:

    Taken as a whole, scripture is clear that, ultimately,neither faith nor works saves us but both are necessary parts of the process of salvation.
     
    I'm trying to expand and improve an analogy that I've used before. (I'm sure it's not original, but reading this exchange, the input of Scott, Father Serpahim and Dn. Nicholas is really helping me in thinking about this.)  If Grace (i.e. the eternal energy and life of Christ) is Life then perhaps we could say that faith is like breathing and works like the beating of our hearts.  Breathing and a heart beat are both signs of life and necessary parts of life but they are not life, itself. However, you cannot live without breathing and a beating heart. And if someone is lacking either or both of these things it is a sign that he is either dead or soon will be (if something isn't done about it).  Also, you cannot breathe on your own without a beating heart, nor will your heart beat for long without breathing.  So both breathing and a beating heart are necessary for the other to continue but neither is life, itself.
     
    Faith, we are told in Hebrews 11:1, is the evidence of things that cannot be seen through normal human perception…faith is the God given ability to see things as they truly are.  Our works of love (obedience, acts of kindness and charity, prayer, etc…) not only are proof that we see things as they truly are but they help us to see things even more clearly.  But it is only by the grace of God that we can have the faith that produces the works of love that increase our faith, that produce more works….etc. Sort of like an engine, fueled by grace and driven by the continuous interaction of faith and works….OK, I'll stop.  In case you haven't noticed I can get carried away with metaphor and analogy. :) 

  9. Although the breath/heart beat metaphor is lost on me, I like your description, Deborah. However, I also think that Scott is correct that it can be misleading to say that "we are saved by faith and works." Just as scripture does not say that "we are saved by faith alone," it also does not say that "we are saved by faith and works." Our Lord often said "your faith hath saved you." He also said, "go and do likewise," and "he that hears my words and does them not, the same is a foolish men, who built his house upon the sand" (forgive my paraphrase) — but He did not say "your works have saved you." Likewise, St. Paul says "we are His workmanship, Created by Him for good works which He has appointed beforehand that we should do," and St. James says, "faith without works is dead." The closest any of them come to saying "your works have saved you" is St. Paul, when he says "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." But then, we are admonished when we have done all to say "we are unprofitable servants."

    Surveying all of this, what is significant is the importance not only of what Scripture tells us to think, but also how it tells us to think, or what it tells us to think about. Many times our Lord does not give a direct question to his inquirers, and I think Scripture (and our services) does the same with us. We are enjoined both to have faith and to do works — and therefore we must do so. When we are saved, we are told that this is by grace, through our faith, and not due to any works that we have done — and thus we must believe.

    In other words, Scripture tells us again and again (a) to have faith and to ascribe our healing to God's grace through our faith, and (b) to do works, but not to ascribe any merit to them or thing that we are healed by them.

    And so we are  back to the "paradox" that I mentioned in this post: works do not save us, but we must do works if we are to be saved. And I think St. Maximos' words help us to understand why this is so. And I think that your explanation in your 2nd comment does so also.

  10. My apologies for my comment which ended up in mostly bold letters. This was a typo, and I only bolded a few words – I was not intending to shout!

    I like Fr Nicholas observation: "Many times our Lord does not give a direct question to his inquirers, and I think Scripture (and our services) does the same with us."

    This, btw, is why I love parables. they state the truth boldly, because they force us to make the proper conclusion. We always learn better when we figure out the answer for ourselves.

    This is the case with faith and works too. I think the question: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" (Jas 2:14)

    is an indirect way of saying what is misleading to say directly: we must have faith and act on our faith, that is have "works", to be saved.

    A man says he loves his wife. If he tells the truth, he protects her, is true to her, and cares for her with his time, money, and everything else. The husband who has a mistress, gambles away the paycheck, beats his wife, belittles her, etc, he does not love her, no matter what he says. Love is what we say and do. Faith is what we believe and do.

    I think it is much more dangerous to believe and state that we can be saved by faith alone, vs. saying we must have faith and works to be saved.

    This is because humans are lazy creatures, apt to "make excuse with excuses in sins" (this tendency is so strong in us that we say the words to this Psalm EVERY day in Vespers), and we must be reminded that what we believe obligates us.

    We live in a society that has many who "believe in Jesus" who fornicate, live in unnatural sexual relationships and kill their unborn children, and yet believe they are "saved". We have many, no matter which church they consider themselves to be part of, who have dusty bibles, and oily morals.

    How can a man be saved if he is indifferent? The bible and all of church tradition and worship do not say directly that an indifferent man, who says he believes but does not act in a proper manner based on his belief will not be saved, but this DOGMA is stated in hundreds of ways.

  11. Deborah says:

    I think that as long as he clarify things, a person could say that we are saved by 'faith and works' and not be scripturally incorrect, as long as he doesn't mean faith and/or works. As we have already agreed, faith is inextricably linked to works in that true faith always produces good works.  That is sort of what I was trying to get at with the heartbeat/breathing thing (although it is a limited and flawed analogy)—both of these life sustaining processes being inextricably linked to one another.  We are saved by faith made manifest by works would probably be the more accurate (and less easily misinterpreted) way of stating it.

    Scripture makes it clear that "we are saved by grace, through faith, not of works lest any man should boast."  As Scott pointed out, this has to be stated plainly otherwise people can easily fall for the dangerous idea of salvation through works.  True faith will produce works and is nurtured by works but works can in no way can substitute for faith.  The process that I was describing begins and ends with faith given to us by God, by His grace. (Unfortunately, I couldn't come up with a good metaphor to bring out that point.).  Technically, faith alone is what heals us but faith never manifests itself, alone.  True faith is always manifested in 'works'–an act of the human will.  Even those to whom Christ said "Your faith has made you well" had faith combined with the 'work' of coming to Christ for healing and the thief on the cross had the 'work' of reprimanding the other thief and appealing to Christ to remember him in His kingdom.  Those acts, alone, would not have healed or saved these people--it was the presence of Christ and their faith in Him, the union of the divine will with that of the believer, that produced the healing and salvation.  So we are saved by grace through faith that is always accompanied by some act of a human will.  Does that mean that our acts of the will save us?  Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that without the participation of a human will in these acts, there is no manifestation of faith and thus no salvation. No, because those acts apart from the grace of Christ are totally powerless to save us.  (We might also ask the question can you have faith apart from grace or grace apart from faith?) Back to the paradox–our works cannot save us, but without them we cannot be saved.  Or stated more precisely (and less paradoxically)–our works, apart from faith cannot save us, but unless we have a faith that produces works we are not truly saved.

    Saying that works are necessary for salvation can and does sometimes create confusion and misunderstanding.  It is similar to the confusion and misunderstanding that is often created by the Orthodox prayer "O Holy Theotokos, save us!"  Does this prayer mean that we think that she is the SaviorAbsolutely not. But it does mean that God has inextricably linked her to the salvation process in that He made her to be the bearer of Christ, the source of His humanity and without her playing her role we would not have salvation. Just as some have taken the link of works to faith and twisted it (intentionally or unintentionally) into the idea of salvation through works, some have twisted the role of the Theotokos into the idea that she is some kind of co-savior with Christ.  It is God's grace, through faith, that saves us (not works!) and it is Christ, alone, who saves.  And we need to be very clear about that.  But since faith is always accompanied by works and the Theotokos played/plays a necessary role in the salvation of mankind, I don't think it is incorrect to talk about either works or the Theotokos as integral to our salvation—as long as we make it clear that ultimately it is God, alone, who saves us, by His grace.
     
    While waiting for my internet service to kick back in so I could post this, I had another thought:  Grace is God's action/energy which produces faith which leads to human action.   Faith then is what unites God's action/will (grace) with human action/will (works).  Grace, faith and works are all part of the salvation process, but since it is God's action (grace) that initiates and drives this process, it is grace that saves us, through faith manifesting itself in works. 

  12. Deborah says:

    "A man says he loves his wife. If he tells the truth, he protects her, is true to her, and cares for her with his time, money, and everything else. The husband who has a mistress, gambles away the paycheck, beats his wife, belittles her, etc, he does not love her, no matter what he says. Love is what we say and do. Faith is what we believe and do…."
     
    It has been proven in studies that doing loving and kind acts for others strengthens bonds between people and promotes good feelings in the giver, as well as the receiver.  Even if a man begins with very little love for his wife, by caring for her, protecting her, being kind to her, etc… his love will grow.  In the same way, our works increase our faith and love for God and one another, strengthening our bonds to God and our brother—and isn't that what salvation is–union with Christ and one another?

  13. Deborah says:

    "In the same way, our works increase our faith and love for God and one another, strengthening our bonds to God and our brother…"
     
    Since there is so much room for misunderstanding on this topic, I wanted to clarify:  "In the same way, our works done in faith, by the grace of God, increase our faith and love for God and one another, strengthening our bonds to God and our brother…"

  14. Scott Cawthon says:

    I like the comparison to a husband loving his wife. You're right that if a husband says he loves his wife but then shows no outward signs then that love would be worthless.
    My question would be this- if a husband really loved his wife would he be able to NOT show it? If a husband said he loved his wife but there were no works or acts of love to accompany it, then he's either trying to fool you or just fooling himself.  But would you be able to go up to him tell him the things he needed to do to REALLY love his wife? (give flowers, give kisses, do the dishes, etc). Would completing those tasks make his love more genuine? It would be better to show him that since he showed no outward signs of love that he probably didn't love his wife in the first place! Whether the signs are there are not would be better used as a reason for him to examine his heart in the matter.
    Likewise, could you tell a man who said he loved God (but showed no outward signs of it) to do a list of things to REALLY love God? You can't tell someone to "do works" just like you couldn't tell a man to "love his wife". The heart needs to be examined because real love and real faith shows those signs like cause and effect. But as Deborah said, faith and works reinforce each other in the same way that showing love for your spouse would reinforce that love. That's very true! But if God's spirit isn't in you then no amount of works will cause him to be there. Think about it, if your heart isn't right with God then any works you do will be for all the wrong reasons! Doing them for the right reasons would mean God's spirit is already with you doing those works as fruit of that spirit. So real works cannot be done apart from a saving faith that's already present.
    There's no way to say to someone "you need faith and works to be saved" without them either living their lives wondering if they've done enough to be saved, or worse, feeling that they HAVE done enough and are worthy! I wouldn't say that it's faith AND works that saves, but a faith THAT works. It's an important distinction.

    And yes, at the end of the day it's GOD that saves. But we people just can't help but give ourselves a big role in everything! After all, without that we'd have no control over it and it would just be grace!

  15. Deborah says:

    Scott, you raise a good point.  If a person doesn't really love God or have faith and doesn't want to love God or increase his faith then no amount of 'going through the motions' is going to do him any good.  But, if a person has even a little tiny mustard seed's worth of faith and love, by submitting his will to God's, obeying and keeping His commandments, even when he doesn't feel like it, his faith and love will grow. 
     
    None of us really love God as we should or have enough faith.  We all have to say "Lord, I believe…help thou my unbelief!"  But by obediently doing the things He has called us to do, even when we don't feel love for someone (or even don't feel love for God), if we want to believe and we want to love Him, He will take that little offering of fishes and loaves, multiply it and work a miracle in our hearts.
     
    We are all in agreement that works a part from faith get us nowhere.  But, as Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthian 13, not only works, but even faith, apart from Love, gets us nowhere.  In the end, it is all about increasing our love for God and one another through union with our Creator, the source of Love.
     
    And we are also in agreement that it is our natural, sinful inclination to want to be in control and believe the heresy that somehow it is our own efforts that save us.  I'm sure that is why St. Paul went to such great pains to make sure it very clear in the epistle to the Romans that we are saved by grace and not by works.  But even though our efforts are not what save us, our efforts are involved in God saving us. Believe it or not, there are those who believe that this is not the case. ( And this is why James had to write his epistle, addressing this heresy.) There are many who believe that they are saved simply by an idea, a 'belief' in their head that is in noway connected to their decisions or conduct of their lives—that just by thinking they love God and have faith, feeling it, and saying they love God and have faith, that somehow their thoughts, feelings and words make it a reality.  As we have all agreed, for love to be real–for me to know that I love and for others to know that I love, for me to really love, there has to be some outward manifestation of love, otherwise it is just wishful thinking, fantasy, delusion, and ultimately, a lie. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15  In a way, real Love is an action, an effort, a 'work'—it is certainly not just a word or good thoughts and feelings. 
     
    In the Day of Judgement, it is true that there will be many who stand before God with their works, expecting to be saved, but who have no real love, no idea who God really is.  But there will also be those who come with nothing more than 'talk'–the idea that because they said they loved Him, maybe even thought they loved Him, even though they did little to show that their professed love and faith was real. Both of these groups of people are going to be tragically surprised in the day of Judgement.  We need to address both of these very dangerous ideas and, out of love, warn both those who think their works will save them and those who think that their professed faith in and love for God, a faith and love that is in no way demonstrated in the way they lead their lives, will save them.  

  16. Scott Cawthon says:

    I just thought of something. You know if you go through the Bible and read the key verses about the faith vs. works debate, there's something interesting worth noting- Different people in the Bible seem to er on different sides of this issue just like people do today. They believe the same thing, but due to the points they're trying to make and the people they're talking to at the time, they tend to focus on different aspects of the issue.
     
    Paul is very clear that faith alone saves:
    Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV84)

    8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
     
    While James is very clear that it is faith plus works:
    James 2:24 (NIV84)
    24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone
     
    Is it possible that Paul's concern was that people were getting too legalistic and missing the message of God's grace? And was it possible that James was concerned with the people (as Father Seraphim mentioned) who called themselves believers but lived no differently than normal people?
     
    At the heart of their message they are saying the same things. Paul mentions the fruits seen in those who believe-
    Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV84)

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
    James would no doubt use the absence of the above fruits of the spirit as evidence that certain people did NOT have a faith that could save them, and rightfully so. So they're messages don't contradict as long as you keep in mind the messages they were trying to convey at the time.

  17. "Different people in the Bible seem to er on different sides of this issue just like people do today. . . . At the heart of their message they are saying the same things."

    Yes, exactly right, Scott. The two sinful inclinations that you and Fr. Seraphim speak of are both big problems in many people. And this is what I was trying to get at when I pointed out how scripture does not directly address the "controversy" being discussed here. Our Lord, whether in person, through the Scriptures, or through other means, does not always directly answer our questions because we are not asking the right questions. Mental understanding of the ins-and-outs of soteriology are not what is important. What is important is that we (a) put all of our hope of salvation in God (not ourselves) and (b) do what we need to do to cooperate with His grace. And so there are many exhortations to both faith and works, and there are also many reminders that we are saved by grace through faith, and not of works. And this is not a Paul vs. James thing; both agree with one another. St. James does not say "you are saved by your works," but "your faith is dead without works." And St. Paul explicitly enjoins us to "work out" our salvation.

    I think this is exactly the perspective we get from St. Maximos' writings as well. In fact, this harmonic description of the question is common to the writings of all the fathers — beginning with the Apostles — throughout the centuries. Obviously, the two core deviations were present from the earliest times — that must have been why the Apostles and others had to write about the issue. But no churches officially held either of these deviations, or saw this as an irreconcilable paradox, until the medieval West.

    At this time, (apologizing in an advance for an overly simplified, but I believe essentially accurate, presentation) the Roman Catholic Church implied in practice (I don't know if it was actually taught) that works (or "merits") save, and Martin Luther and others responded with an exaggerated "faith alone" doctrine (even to the point of attempting to change the text of the Bible). Now, I am pretty sure that the RCC does not teach that works can save, and many protestant groups do admit the importance of works in much the same way that you (Scott) have explained.

    The Orthodox church, on the other hand, preserved the fullness of the apostolic perspective and teaching, and has not had to rediscover it — even though many of its faithful still err in both directions, as always.

  18. Deborah says:

    I just wanted to add this—when speaking to anyone, Orthodox or otherwise, on the question of whether or not the Orthodox Church teaches salvation through works or addressing the claim that the Church is unclear on this subject, I always direct them to a passage from one of our morning prayers–prayers that we are supposed to be saying every day as a reminder and reinforcement of the Truth:
     
    "And again, O Saviour, save me by Thy grace, I pray Thee. For if Thou shouldst save me for my works, this would not be grace or a gift, but rather a duty; yea, Thou Who art great in compassion and ineffable in mercy.



    For he that believeth in Me, Thou hast said, O my Christ, shall live and never see death. If, then, faith in Thee saveth the desperate, behold, I believe, save me, for Thou art my God and Creator.



    Let faith instead of works be imputed to me, O my God, for Thou wilt find no works which could justify me. But may my faith suffice instead of all works, may it answer for, may it acquit me, may it make me a partaker of Thine eternal glory… "

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