What is Orthodoxy's view on predestination and why is it correct?

So the Catholic Church universally believes in predestination of some sort?
Yes.

Here is a snip from Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:
1) GOD, BY HIS ETERNAL RESOLVE OF WILL, HAS PREDETERMINED CERTAIN MEN TO ETERNAL BLESSEDNESS (De fide)

[ De fide = "of faith" - dogmas are absolutely binding on all Catholics]
This doctrine is proposed by the Ordinary and General Teaching of the Church as a truth of Revelation. The doctrinal definitions of the Council of Trent presuppose it . . . The reality of Predestination is clearly attested to in Rom 8:29 et seq: . . . cf. Mt 25:34, Jn 10:27 et seq., Acts 13:48, Eph 1:4 et seq. . . . Predestination is a part of the Eternal Divine Plan of Providence.
2) BASIS OF PREDESTINATION
a) The Problem
The main difficulty . . . lies in the question whether God's eternal resolve of Predestination has been taken with or without consideration of the merits of the man (postorante praevisa merita).
Only incomplete Predestination to grace is independent of every merit (ante praevisa merita), as the first grace cannot be merited. In the same way, complete Predestination to grace and glory conjointly is independent of every merit, as the first grace cannot be merited, and the consequent graces, as well as the merits acquired with these graces and their reward, depend like the links of a chain, on the first grace . . .
b) Attempts at Solution
The Thomists, the Augustinians, the majority of the Scotists and also individual older Molinists (Suarez, St. Bellarmine) teach an absolute Predestination (ad gloriam tantum), therefore ante praevisa merita. According to them, God freely resolves from all Eternity, without consideration of the merits of man's grace, to call certain men to beatification and therefore to bestow on them graces which will infallibly secure the execution of the Divine Decree (ordo intentionis). In time God first gives to the predestined effective graces and then eternal bliss as a reward for the merits which flow from their free cooperation with grace (ordo executionis). The ordo intentionis and the ordo executionis are in inverse relation to each other (glory-grace; grace-glory).
Most of the Molinists, and also St. Francis de Sales (+1622), teach a conditioned Predestination (ad gloriam tantum), that is, postand propter praevisa merita. According to them, God by His scientia media, sees beforehand how men would freely react to various orders of grace. In the light of this knowledge He chooses, according to His free pleasure a fixed and definite order of grace. Now by His scientia visionis, He knows infallibly in advance what use the individual man will make of the grace bestowed on him. He elects for eternal bliss those who by virtue of their foreseen merits perseveringly cooperate with grace, while He determines for eternal punishment of hell, those who, on account of their foreseen demerits, deny their cooperation. The ordo intentionis and the ordo executionis coincide (grace-glory; grace-glory).
Both attempts at explanation are ecclesiastically permissible. The scriptural proofs are not decisive for either side. The Thomists quote above all passages from the Letter to the Romans, in which the Divine factor in salvation is brought strongly to the foreground (Rom 8:29; 9:11-13, 9:20 et seq.) . . . The Molinists invoke the passages which attest the universality of the Divine desire for salvation, especially 1 Tim 2:4, as well as the sentence to be pronounced by the Judge of the World (Mt 25:34-36), in which the works of mercy are given as ground for the acceptance into the Heavenly Kingdom. But that these are also the basis for the 'preparation' for the Kingdom, that is, for the eternal resolve of Predestination, cannot be definitely proved from them . . .
While the pre-Augustinian tradition is in favour of the Molinistic explanation, St. Augustine, at least in his later writings, is more in favour of the Thomistic explanation. The Thomist view emphasizes God's universal causality while the other view stresses the universality of the Divine salvific will, man's freedom and his cooperation in his salvation. The difficulties remaining on both sides prove that Predestination even for reason enlightened by faith, is an unfathomable mystery (Rom 11:33 ff.).
 

Viktor Zeegelaar

Crow
Orthodox Inquirer
Predestination seems like arrogance and even a form of divination regarding God's will.

Look at me God chose me!

It doesn't take into account any choice at all.

It's like saying that you can live your life an infinite amount of times and always get the same result.
The more I get an image of protestant theology (if you could even speak about a protestant theology of course, instead of 1000s), I realize the dangers in just starting to interpret Scripture by yourself, without paying heed to tradition before you. You can really get in some weird alleyways, or at least imperfect and hence destructive or damaging understandings.
 

pathos

 
Banned
Orthodox Inquirer
My own impression is that the issue of predestination and free will often conjures strong feelings on both sides and that we sometimes tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater when we take "predestination" to mean Calvinism's "double predestination", i.e. God having predestined the elect to heaven and the reprobate to eternal damnation. This concept of "Unconditional Election" is intimately connected to the notion of "Irresistible Grace", i.e. man supposedly being unable to resist God's grace.

There was great controversy over these issues with the so-called Arminians who accepted free will and were seen as having a near-Catholic soteriology by their Calvinist opponents. Methodists are basically Arminian in their theology, as I understand it. However, a lot of churches coming from the Reformed/Calvinist tradition today aren't fully Calvinist anymore and don't necessarily hold "five point Calvinism": Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints ("TULIP").

Basically it seems Calvin took St. Augustine's views to the extreme and eliminated any notion of free will by claiming that we are "totally depraved". The other extreme would be to go full Pelagian by entirely denying any sort of predestination and insisting on untainted free will. Myself I'd put it this way: our free will is damaged as a result of the Fall but we aren't so fully deprived of reason as to be utterly unable to come to some understanding of God, good/evil and natural law. Yet we still need God's grace in order to actually have our nature or God's image restored in us and conform our will to His. I don't think predestination, properly understood, conflicts with that. However, as human beings our perception is too limited to fully fathom how it works.

EDIT:

Just wanted to point out that Pelagianism was condemned at the local Council of Carthage in 418 AD and later confirmed by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. Semi-Pelagianism was condemned at the local Council of Orange in 529 AD (in Gaul, so basically in the Western Church). From what I recall, the latter council is often used by Calvinists in their favor even though it condemned some aspects of Augustinianism as well and could be labeled "semi-Augustinian". I'd definitely be interested to know if there's anything on this particular council (or semi-Pelagianism in general) from the Eastern churches at that time or what the OC stance on this council is. It seems like the controversy was more of a Western thing geographically. For the Arminian/Calvinist controversy I mentioned, see here.
 
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pathos

 
Banned
Orthodox Inquirer
Been doing some research. These canons from the Second Council of Orange against semi-pelagianism (the idea that we come to God through free will and God then enables us to grow in faith through His grace) are interesting:

CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him "unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3).
This basically means that free will most definitely is weakened, although not annihilated.

And:

CANON 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

Source is here.

An Orthodox article on double predestination:

Plucking the TULIP (2) – An Eastern Orthodox Critique of the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The author insists that Orthodoxy's "synergism" rejects double predestination yet is anti-Pelagian. That would seem congruent with the canons of the Council of Orange to me, though it's still a bit unclear to me what he makes of "free will". Orange was still Augustinian in its overall outlook. It's regrettable he didn't address "predestination" as such though to be fair the article is aimed at Reformed folks. The way many Orthodox position themselves on free will and predestination still sounds somewhat semi-Pelagian to my ears. I'll have to dig some more.

Addendum from New Advent's (Catholic source) entry on this council:

Much more important was the second council (held on 3 July, 529), the first in Gaul to publish a decision in matters of faith. The occasion was the dedication of a church built at Orange by Liberius, the pretorian prefect of Narbonensian Gaul. It was attended by fourteen bishops with St. Cæsarius of Arles as president, and its deliberations bore on the current errors concerning the doctrine of grace and free will, i.e. Semipelagianism. Cæsarius had informed Felix IV (III) of the pernicious activity of the Semipelagians in Gaul and had applied to him for support. The pope, in response, sent him a series of "Capitula" [...]
In the demonstration which follows the "Capitula" the fathers also reject the doctrine of predestination to evil and declare salvation within the reach of all baptized. [...]

Apparently all this was approved by Pope Boniface II in 531 AD. This makes it ecumenical/magisterial to Catholics though from an Orthodox perspective, since this is from pre-Schism times, I would assume it would basically mean this position is at least acceptable today?

That East/West divide sure is a pain in the butt, isn't it? If anyone knows of any Western rite Orthodox who've looked into this in some depth, I'd be happy to hear about it. On with the quest.
 
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pathos

 
Banned
Orthodox Inquirer
What is Orthodoxy's view on the matter and why is it correct?

I've consulted my humble personal library and I didn't find anything explicitly mentioning predestination from an Orthodox perspective. However, since predestination is seen in contrast to free will, the concept ultimately is closely tied to the dogma of original sin (or "ancestral" sin as some Orthodox would call it to distinguish it from "inherited guilt" as it is commonly understood in the West), as you may have deduced from my musings in this thread.

For that reason, I think it's more appropriate to see it in the context of the debate with Pelagius and later versions of his doctrine which essentially denied original sin (whether in its Latin or Greek interpretation). Geographically, it seems this debate occurred mostly in the West with St. Augustine being vocally opposed to Pelagianism and the local Second Council of Orange condemning semi-Pelagianism though without affirming double predestination. Essentially, the West had some understanding of predestination or election but not in a Calvinist sense. Also, it did not rule out "free will" entirely, as I understand it, but rather that our freedom of will is diminished as a consequence of the Fall. This implies that salvation is ultimately always from God.

The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (geographically in the East) condemned Pelagianism so this is normative for Orthodoxy whereas the local canons of Orange aren't per se. St. John Cassian appears to have been regarded as semi-Pelagian by some yet he's a saint for both Catholics and Orthodox. At any rate, I've seen Orthodox writers speak of the "elect" (as the Bible does) in the sense of those members of the Church that keep the faith and work out their salvation but predestination seems to have been more developed in the West under St. Augustine's influence and as a response to Pelagius (who was British).

For some historical background on the controversy, you could check out Owen Chadwick's "The Early Church", chapter 15, which is titled "The development of Latin Christian thought", specifically pages 225 to 235 under the heading "The City of God and the Pelagian controversy".

For an Orthodox dogmatic definition of original sin that mentions both Pelagianism and St. Augustine, see Fr. Pomazansky's "Orthodox Dogmatic Theology", chapter 5, which is titled "Concerning Evil and Sin", specifically page 164. The author condemns Pelagianism but there is no mention of "predestination" in this book.

I assume Fr. Seraphim Rose's book "The place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church" should provide some more information on predestination from an Orthodox perspective though since I don't own a copy I can't tell for sure.

I'm still learning myself but I hope this is useful.
 

KoolDoon

 
Banned
Protestant
That is not the Roman Catholic position per se. There are two major schools of thought in Catholicism. What you’ve described is basically just the Molinist position. The Molinist view is that God predestines those whom He knows will respond to His grace. Those whom He knows will not respond to His grace He does not predestine to heaven. Obviously, the difference here is that Predestination is dependent upon the individual's actions, and not upon God's sovereign will.

Opposite to this is the Thomistic view. There is not one Thomistic school of thought. But in general, Thomists believe that God predestines the elect to heaven. He does not predestine the reprobates to heaven, but neither does He predestine them to hell. They have damned themselves, or, more accurately, we all deserve hell because of original sin. God simply does not save the reprobates from humanity's self-inflicted damnation.
  • Whom does He save? Those whom He chooses.
  • Why does He choose them? Because He loves them more.
  • Why does He love them more? Who are we to question Him?
  • Why do they believe this? Simply put, because God is sovereign. We do not change Him. He changes us.

The Catholic view: Both schools of thought are permitted. The Church does not say why God chooses to predestine some and not others. But here are some basic Catholic teachings on predestination, most of which were declared at the Council of Trent in response to Protestant beliefs:

First, we cannot be assured in this life that we are among those who have been predestined, apart from some special revelation from God. This kind of language presumes predestination—that there exist some who are predestined. Here all that is condemned is the notion that we can know we are among the ones chosen, or predestined.

The council also condemned the false teaching that some are predestined to evil. Significantly, however, in this condemnation it also implicitly upheld single (or, what I call positive) predestination, the idea that we are chosen for life. Here’s the full text of this important canon:

You should check out Garrigou-Lagrange's work, Predestination. It is very thorough. It's a difficult read, but it's well worth the effort. On a personal note, I view myself as more of a Thomist.

That is an excerpt from Berkhof's Systematic theology:

Predestination does not form an important subject of discussion in history until the time of Augustine. Earlier Church Fathers allude to it, but do not as yet seem to have a very clear conception of it. On the whole they regard it as the prescience of God with reference to human deeds, on the basis of which He determines their future destiny. Hence it was possible for Pelagius to appeal to some of those early Fathers.

Augustine’s view found a great deal of opposition, particularly in France, where the semi-Pelagians, while admitting the need of divine grace unto salvation, reasserted the doctrine of a predestination based on foreknowledge. And they who took up the defense of Augustine felt constrained to yield on some important points. They failed to do justice to the doctrine of a double predestination. Only Gottschalk and a few of his friends maintained this, but his voice was soon silenced, and Semi-Pelagianism gained the upper hand at least among the leaders of the Church. Toward the end of the Middle Ages it became quite apparent that the Roman Catholic Church would allow a great deal of latitude in the doctrine of predestination. As long as its teachers maintained that God willed the salvation of all men, and not merely of the elect, they could with Thomas Aquinas move in the direction of Augustinianism in the doctrine of predestination, or with Molina follow the course of Semi Pelagianism, as they thought best. This means that even in the case of those who, like Thomas Aquinas, believed in an absolute and double predestination, this doctrine could not be carried through consistently, and could not be made determinative of the rest of their theology. The Reformers of the sixteenth century all advocated the strictest doctrine of predestination.

The discussion about it should rather take place in another thread.
 
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pathos

 
Banned
Orthodox Inquirer
I've recently been reading a lot of Calvinist literature and have become interested about the role of predestination in the process of salvation. What is Orthodoxy's view on the matter and why is it correct?
Some additional information which may be of interest to you or others exploring this topic:

Orthodoxy’s Official Response to Calvinism — The Confession of Dositheus (1673)
[..] One might wonder how Orthodoxy can affirm God’s eternal decrees while rejecting double predestination. The answer is that unlike Calvinism which teaches unconditional election, Orthodoxy believes that humanity retained the capacity for free will after the Fall and that God in his omniscience foreknew how each person would exercise their free will. [..]
Source: Orthodox-Reformed Bridge

The Longer Catechism of St. Philaret of Moscow (1830)
121. Has not that will of God, by which man is designed for eternal happiness, its own proper name in theology?

It is called the predestination of God.

122. Does God's predestination of man to happiness remain unchanged, seeing that now man is not happy?

It remains unchanged; inasmuch as God, of his foreknowledge and infinite mercy, hath predestined to open for man, even after his departure from the way of happiness, a new way to happiness, through his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

He hath chosen us, in him, before the foundation of the world, are the words of the Apostle Paul. Eph. i. 4.

123. How are we to understand the predestination of God, with respect to men in general, and to each man severally?

God has predestined to give to all men, and has actually given them preparatory grace, and means sufficient for the attainment of happiness.1

124. What is said of this by the Word of God?

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate. Rom. viii. 29.

125. How does the orthodox Church speak on this point?

In the exposition of the faith by the Eastern Patriarchs it is said: As he foresaw that some would use well their free will, but others ill, he accordingly predestined the former to glory, while the latter he condemned. (Art. iii.)

Source: Pravoslavieto.com

For comparison's sake, the Council of Trent's [Roman Catholic] decrees in its Sixth Session (see here) seem similar to the above, e.g. the following canons regarding free will and double predestination:
CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man's free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.
CANON XVII.-If any one saith, that the grace of Justification is only attained to by those who are predestined unto life; but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being, by the divine power, predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.
 
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pathos

 
Banned
Orthodox Inquirer
So the Catholic Church universally believes in predestination of some sort?
Apart from the points others have brought up here and the Second Council of Orange which I referred to, you may also be interested in learning about the 17th century Jansenist controversy (which affected France and the Spanish Netherlands) for a fuller picture. This position was similar to Calvinism and was condemned by Rome on several occasions, starting with "Cum occasione":

[..] its [Jansenism's] advocates presented a table of three columns, in which they distinguished as many interpretations of the five propositions: a Calvinistic interpretation, rejected as heretical, a Pelagian or Semipelagian interpretation, identified by them with the traditional doctrine, also to be cast aside, and lastly, their interpretation, the idea of St. Augustine himself, which could not but be approved. This plea, skilful as it was could not avert the solemn condemnation, by the Bull "Cum occasione" (31 May, 1653), of the five propositions, which were as follows:
  • Some of God's commandments are impossible to just men who wish and strive (to keep them) considering the powers they actually have, the grace by which these precepts may become possible is also wanting;
  • In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace;
  • To merit, or demerit, in the state of fallen nature we must be free from all external constraint, but not from interior necessity,
  • The Semipelagians admitted the necessity of interior preventing grace for all acts, even for the beginning of faith; but they fell into heresy in pretending that this grace is such that man may either follow or resist it;
  • To say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men, is Semipelagianism.
These five propositions were rejected as heretical, the first four absolutely, the fifth if understood in the sense that Christ died only for the predestined.
Source: New Advent.
 

tikkasakko

Pigeon
Orthodox Catechumen
As far as I understand it - and I don’t believe there’s an Orthodox dogma on this - we have free will to choose whether to cooperate with God, and God knows ahead of time what we’re going to choose. His foreknowledge of our salvation does not negate our free will. But in the Calvinist doctrine we are all just robots with no say in the matter, which ironically makes their preaching pointless since they can’t change our preordained destiny anyway. The biggest danger of Calvinism is that, as you’ll notice, every single one you ever meet will be very convinced they’re “one of the Elect.” You’ll never meet a Calvinist who believes in predestination and also believes that they, themselves, are predestined to damnation. In short, it inflames pride and a feeling of “being special” that becomes very apparent the more you talk with them.
Nailed it.
 

pathos

 
Banned
Orthodox Inquirer
I've recently been reading a lot of Calvinist literature and have become interested about the role of predestination in the process of salvation. What is Orthodoxy's view on the matter and why is it correct?
Here is another resource I just came across from an Orthodox perspective containing various quotes from both Western and Eastern Church Fathers:

The Orthodox Church’s teaching on predestination can be summarized as follows: those whom God predestines to salvation are those whom He foresaw would make proper use of their will and freely choose to accept God’s gift of grace, and those whom He predestines to damnation are those whom He foresaw would reject His grace. [..]

Source: Ancient Insights.

On a sidenote, does anyone know whether Fr. Josiah Trenham has addressed this topic in his book Rock & Sand? I haven't read it. He used to be Reformed prior to his conversion to Orthodoxy.
 
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OrthoSerb

Robin
Orthodox
@pathos - I don't believe he has. Many Orthodox scholars believe in predestination, as you've shown.
This is quite a subversive statement because it implies that the Orthodox Church is split on the issue and that there is both substantial support and and substantial opposition for what Protestants mean by the word. All of the quotes given in the link Pathos provided show a consistent position quite different to how Protestants typically define the term. Also all the references are councils or Saints, not mere scholars. Orthodoxy does not have a tradition of academic theology. Here is a longer exposition by St John of Damascus:


I'd remind you that the Inquirers and catechumens sub-forum is not there for non-Orthodox to attempt to bend Orthodoxy to their own interpretations.
 
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josemiguel

Robin
Orthodox
The problem with Calvin's soteriology is its Christological implications. Calvin's view of nature is Nestorian-lite, nature is fully encapsulated and cannot both act at the same time. Ergo, if a human does something, God can't be doing it and vice versa. This is why traditional strict Calvinism see faith as a worthless virtue that doesn't have a role in salvation, otherwise a human activity, the activity of mental belief, would play a role in deciding human salvation, and God doesn't since He can't act where a human does. Strict Calvinists condemn Lutherans for holding such faith as a prerequisite for salvation.

This view of human and divine nature lead Calvin to conclude on a monergist Christology, for if Christ had an acting human will, then He isn't acting with a Divine will.

Calvin's soteriology was never considered in the Orthodox world naturally because Orthodoxy worships the real Christ Who is both fully human and fully God with a human and divine will that work in lockstep together synergistically.

Orthodox concept described by predestination is not the monergist concept of Calvin. This was Calvin's error: starting with soteriology then altering Christology and Theology to make it work, instead of following the Orthodox Ordo Theologae, where the starting point is Theology, specifically with the Person of the Father. All else the Fathers' worked out from the Person of the Father as the starting point.
 

pathos

 
Banned
Orthodox Inquirer
He does address it. Predestination as defined by Calvinists is rejected by Holy Orthodoxy.
I thought @vraph meant that Fr. Trenham didn't address the issue specifically in his book. At any rate, I certainly agree with you in saying that the Calvinist take on predestination is rejected by Orthodoxy.
 

SaintThomas

Pigeon
Protestant
The problem with Calvin's soteriology is its Christological implications. Calvin's view of nature is Nestorian-lite, nature is fully encapsulated and cannot both act at the same time. Ergo, if a human does something, God can't be doing it and vice versa. This is why traditional strict Calvinism see faith as a worthless virtue that doesn't have a role in salvation, otherwise a human activity, the activity of mental belief, would play a role in deciding human salvation, and God doesn't since He can't act where a human does. Strict Calvinists condemn Lutherans for holding such faith as a prerequisite for salvation.

This view of human and divine nature lead Calvin to conclude on a monergist Christology, for if Christ had an acting human will, then He isn't acting with a Divine will.

Calvin's soteriology was never considered in the Orthodox world naturally because Orthodoxy worships the real Christ Who is both fully human and fully God with a human and divine will that work in lockstep together synergistically.

Orthodox concept described by predestination is not the monergist concept of Calvin. This was Calvin's error: starting with soteriology then altering Christology and Theology to make it work, instead of following the Orthodox Ordo Theologae, where the starting point is Theology, specifically with the Person of the Father. All else the Fathers' worked out from the Person of the Father as the starting point.
Respectfully, as a Reformed person, and a brother in Christ, I believe it's appropriate to say something here. I am very open to Orthodoxy, if it is the correct view. I want to be convinced, but your post here makes it clear you are arguing against something we Reformed don't believe. You have some of the terms correct, but are off on the theology. For example, to say we think faith is worthless... brother, Sola Fide is one of our top beliefs! We also affirm the Hypostatic Union.

This statement isn't a defense of Reformed theology, as that would be against forum rules, but rather a constructive criticism to have a better conversation about the OP. Again, respectfully, I suggest if you want to convince the non-Eastern Orthodox the superiority of your position on predestination over theirs, and you venture to criticize their position, at least get their position right.

Perhaps a Reformed thread in the other forum space is warranted, as an attempt to convince you of the superiority of our position, for one, and at least help you argue with us better by getting our theology correct, if you choose to criticize it.
 
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