January 23, 2021

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

Eastern Orthodoxy is a non-existent issue in the western world and as a result, protestants have a difficult time communicating with them. It has a few pockets in this section of the world. It is mainly popular among people on the internet. This isn’t a complete list of reasons why I’m not Eastern Orthodox but a few of the main reasons why I reject it. I’m not an expert on Eastern Orthodoxy but I have interacted with some of them.

1. The Gospel:

Many EOs deny that we are justified by faith in the way Protestants teach. They often maintain similar views about soteriology to Roman Catholics. That baptism infuses God’s grace into individuals and that other acts like the sacraments. They think grace is a substance and not in reference to Divine favor.


2. Metaphysics:

In Eastern Orthodoxy, there is something called the Essence-Energy distinction. This is how they explain the immanence of God. God’s essence is transcendent but his uncreated energies are imminent and that is why we can speak about theophanies as if the theophany is God in his essence. It arose in the background of the debate about Hesychasm. This distinction is made to explain how we have experiential knowledge of God. The historical analogy that is used is that of the sun and the rays of the sun. God in his essence is like the sun and his energies are his eternal rays. There are two objections to this idea. The first being that it makes God unknowable:

Orthodox says that “The [essence/energy] distinction allows us to experience God, really and truly,” but this is an assertion which is contradicted by the distinction itself.
Either the energies are identical with the essence or distinct from the essence. If identical, then in what sense is there a distinction? If identical, then what’s the function of the distinction?
But if the energies are not identical with the essence, then what we experience is not what God is really and truly like, but something else. And we’re in no position to compare the energies with the essence to judge the degree of correspondence.


The article also quotes Robert Letham mentioning the quaternity objection to the doctrine:

“The questions to be addressed to these developments are whether, firstly, a yawning chasm has not been opened between the economic Trinity and the immanent Trinity, and secondly whether there is not a tendency towards a quaternity—the unknowable divine essence plus the three revealed persons. Along these lines, Fairbairn suggests that the distinction tends to create ‘a crisis of confidence in God’s character. If we insist that we can know nothing of God’s inner life…then can we really be confident that God’s outer life is consistent with his inner life” R. Letham, Through Western Eyes: Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective (Mentor 2007), 234.

Some Eastern Orthodox folk hold to a form of panentheism(or Neoplatonism). That seems to result in pantheism and other issues regarding ethics:


I’ve objected to Catholicism about Eternal Generation in other articles. I believe that the issues are worse in Eastern Orthodox thought. While they maintain the creeds original teaching they ascertain different objections. In Eastern Orthodoxy, the Father is the fons deitas(Fountain of Deity). The persons are generated by the Father causing the other persons of the Trinity to possess the divine essence. The paradigm is that the Father is unoriginate and underived. The Son and Spirit are derived and originate. The Father does this timelessly and of necessarily does this. This is to preserve the necessity of the trinitarian persons. 

The issue with the Eastern Orthodox view of eternal generation is that it fails to solve the issue it was invented to solve. It is supposed to distinguish between the person of the Godhead. The issue is that it only distinguishes the Father from the Son and Spirit. The underived from the derived. The unoriginate from the originate. The issue is that it leaves the Son indistinguishable from the Holy Spirit. This is because the Son/Spirit are distinguished by their relations to the Father by causal relations but they are not distinguished from one another by causal relations. So, this leaves the question of what makes the Son different than the Spirit? That question seems to remain untouched by a proponent of the original Nicene Creed.

Here is my main article on the exegetical case for Eternal Generation:


It also provides an exegetical issue for them. They argue that since the Son was sent by the Father that means the Son must have been eternally generated by the Son(John 3:34-35; 6:38;17:1-5;20:21,1 John 4:14). The issue is that the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit(John 14-16). Why the double standard?

3. Epistemology:

The issues with the epistemology of EO is the same as RCC.


Some Orthodox apologist goes as far as to reject the historical-grammatical method. I’m not sure that that position is coherent.


4. Original Sin:

Eastern Orthodox reject the concept of Original Sin in favor of a view called Ancestral Sin. That being Adam and Eve were guilty of their own sins alone and that they passed to progeny death and the inclination to sin. They basically share the same view as Leighton Flowers:

Ancestral sin has a specific meaning. The Greek word for sin in this case, amartema, refers to an individual act indicating that the Eastern Fathers assigned full responsibility for the sin in the Garden to Adam and Eve alone. The word amartia, the more familiar term for sin which literally means “missing the mark”, is used to refer to the condition common to all humanity (Romanides, 2002). The Eastern Church, unlike its Western counterpart, never speaks of guilt being passed from Adam and Eve to their progeny, as did Augustine. Instead, it is posited that each person bears the guilt of his or her own sin. The question becomes, “What then is the inheritance of humanity from Adam and Eve if it is not guilt?” The Orthodox Fathers answer as one: death. (I Corinthians 15:21) “Man is born with the parasitic power of death within him,” writes Fr. Romanides (2002, p. 161). Our nature, teaches Cyril of Alexandria, became “diseased…through the sin of one” (Migne, 1857-1866a). It is not guilt that is passed on, for the Orthodox fathers; it is a condition, a disease.


This is just another occasion where Eastern Orthodox thought just abandons the Biblical witness concerning the events that occur in the garden. The result is that Eastern Orthodox have a false anthropology.




The Atonement:

Many Eastern Orthodox reject penal substitutionary atonement as a later doctrine made up by Anselm.


Further Reading:


Assessing Eastern Orthodoxy

Sink your feet in concrete

Why I’m not Eastern Orthodox