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Author Topic: Concerning Original Sin  (Read 14074 times) Average Rating: 0
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cothrige
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« on: December 19, 2006, 10:45:04 PM »

I have been rereading Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky, which I recall having found profitable a while back, and have found some things relating to original sin that confuse me.  Beginning on page 160 he says this:

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By original sin is meant the sin of Adam, which was transmitted to his descendants and weighs upon them.  The doctrine of original sin has great significance in the Christian world-view, because upon it rests a whole series of other dogmas."

Further on he adds:

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The common faith of the ancient Christian Church in the existence of original sin may be seen in the Church's ancient custom of baptizing infants.  The Local Council of Carthage in 252, composed of 66 bishops under the presidency of St. Cyprian, decreed the following against heretics: "Not to forbid (the baptism) of an infant who, scarecely born, has sinned in nothing apart from that which proceeds from the flesh of Adam.  He has received the contagion of the ancient death through his very birth, and he comes, therefore, the more easily to the reception fo the remission of sins in that it is not his own but the sins of another that are remitted."

And:

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In the history of the ancient Christian Church, Pelagius and his followers denied the inheritance of sin (the heresy of Pelagianism).  Pelagius affirmed that every man only repeats the sin of Adam, performing anew his own weak will.  However, his nature remains the same as when it was created, innocent and pure, the same as that of the first-created Adam.  Moreover, disease and death are characteristic of this nature from the creation, and are not the consequences of original sin.

I was instantly struck by what sounded just like Roman Catholic doctrine.  Here are statements like a sin which was "transmitted to [Adam's] descendants and weighs upon them" and which is seen "the Church's ancient custom of baptizing infants."  Looking in the Catechism I found this:

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Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the "death of the soul". Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.

Further on Father Michael comments on the Roman teaching in these words:

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Roman Catholic theologians consider that the consequence of the fall was the removal from men of a supernatural gift of God's grace, after which man remained in his "natural" condition, his nature not harmed but only brought into disorder because of flesh, the bodily side, has come to dominate over the spiritual side; original sin in this view consists in the fact that the guilt before God of Adam and Eve has passed to all men.

This sounded like an okay, though not exact, description of original sin as we see it, or at least as far as I am knowledgeable of it.  However, I have never really heard or read of such an emphasis on "flesh" as such, though perhaps carnality, and the concept of "removal" may be overstated.  But, more interesting, is the last statement which seems entirely removed from the rest of the paragraph.  What above implies any passing on of guilt?  There is a wounded nature, separated from the supernatural gift of grace, but no mention of guilt.  As a matter of fact, the description first given by Father Michael describing the Orthodox view of original sin sounded more like guilt, when he said original sin was "transmitted to his [Adam's] descendants and weighs upon them."

I looked in the Catechism and found no reference to guilt at all.  I did find this:

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By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.  It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

If we compare to the final statment of Father Michael we see this:

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Thus, original sin is understood by Orthodox theology as a sinful inclination which has entered into mankind and become its spiritual disease.

Is this not identical to what we are taught as Catholics?  Father Michael rejects this about the Roman view:

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The foundation of the Roman Catholic teaching lies in (a) an understanding of the sin of Adam as an infinitely great offense against God; (b) after this offense there followed the wrath of God; (c) the wrath of Gold was expressed in the removal of the supernatural gifts of God's grace; and (d) the removal of grace drew after itself the submission of the spiritual principle to the fleshly principle, and a falling deeper into sin and death.

But, is any of this Catholic teaching?  I looked in the Catechism again and found these statements as they relate to the above charges:

a. Adam's infinitely great offense. ---  Phrase or similar seems not to occur.
b. Wrath of God, and (c) the removal of the supernatural gifts of God's grace.

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Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.

The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay". Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground", for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.

Nothing about wrath or even punishment at all.  Rather, a series of unfortunate natural consequences due to a rejection of God's grace.  God did not "remove" the supernatural gifts, but we rejected them and separated ourselves from them.  And notice above that one result of the sin is a distorted image of God as one "jealous of his prerogatives."  That "distorted" image of God actually seems close to what Father Michael has charged us with believing, which would seem untrue in this instance.

(d) The submission of the spiritual principle to the fleshly principle, and a falling deeper into sin and death.

There is a reference to lust, but that is in the context of the relationship between man and woman.  Other than that nothing I could find listed in the Catechism as a result of the original sin, either in Adam or his offspring, seems to be directly tied to a flesh vs. spirit equation.  Some effects are spiritual and some carnal, but I could not find anything overarching in that regard.  On the contrary we find the above statement that original sin transmitted to us is 'a sin which is the "death of the soul"' which certainly indicates more than a flesh against spirit situation.

Where this all left me was wondering several things.  One, is Father Michael's position indicative of Orthodoxy in general?  Has he misrepresented or misunderstood the Orthodox faith and its position towards original sin?  If not, are the alleged differences between our Church's position on this issue one of either semantics or an ignorance on the part of the Orthodox concerning the Catholic belief in this regard?  What was suggested by Father Michael concerning the Catholic faith seemed either exaggerated or foreign to what I have heard, and I could not find it in the Catechism.  Basically, I came away thinking that the author had done a decent job describing the Roman Catholic teaching on this issue, only he called it Orthodox.

I would very much appreciate any help in understanding this better.  Just what do the Orthodox object to in our belief, and where are we really different?

Patrick
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2006, 10:52:13 PM »

Just what do the Orthodox object to in our belief

For many, I think simply that it's a convenient way to say "hey, look how western we're not".  Of course I think such people also end up sounding like they are in complete contradiction of what the church has always taught.  There seems to be a convergance on this front of some marginal Greek theologians and some Protestant converts in the United States.  You'll probably find these useful.

http://www.bensusan.net/razilazenje/2006/03/24/orthodoxy-and-original-sin/
http://www.bensusan.net/razilazenje/2006/12/11/hughes-ancestral-vs-original-sin/
http://www.bensusan.net/razilazenje/2006/12/14/original-sin-the-west-haters-strike-back/
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2006, 11:23:43 PM »

Excellent posts, both of you. I've also always been puzzled by the false dichotomy between original and ancestral sin.
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2006, 11:58:37 PM »

For many, I think simply that it's a convenient way to say "hey, look how western we're not".  Of course I think such people also end up sounding like they are in complete contradiction of what the church has always taught.  There seems to be a convergance on this front of some marginal Greek theologians and some Protestant converts in the United States.  You'll probably find these useful.

http://www.bensusan.net/razilazenje/2006/03/24/orthodoxy-and-original-sin/
http://www.bensusan.net/razilazenje/2006/12/11/hughes-ancestral-vs-original-sin/
http://www.bensusan.net/razilazenje/2006/12/14/original-sin-the-west-haters-strike-back/

Many thanks for the links.  A very interesting take on these things, and he seems to be discussing much of what I noticed in the above book.  Unfortunately, the author of these websites and those commenting seem of a markedly higher scholarship than myself.  For that reason, much of the discussion, such as that regarding Photios, is well over my head.  It would seem that at the bare minimum there is some disagreement on the use of the word "nature" though why escapes me.

It is interesting that a large portion of this argument seems to center on the much beleaguered St. Augustine, whose view I really don't think is necessarily representative of the West overall.  I am sure much of our thought can be seen in him, but I have never noticed a tendency to see his positions as de fide in any generalized way.  And while I am not overly familiar with each statement he has made regarding original sin, if he has maintained some idea of imputed guilt than I am confident that the Catholic Church has not received that idea as doctrinal.  Which continues to leave me wondering where exactly we differ on this.  Is it in the use of the word nature?  If so, how is that objectionable?

Thanks again for the information,

Patrick
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2006, 12:05:46 AM »

Yeah, St. Augustine is a favorite whipping boy of the anti-western Orthodox from what I've seen.  I'm glad I didn't run across any of this stuff until well after I converted.
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2006, 12:34:13 AM »

Yeah, St. Augustine is a favorite whipping boy of the anti-western Orthodox from what I've seen.  I'm glad I didn't run across any of this stuff until well after I converted.

Do you think it would have turned you off from converting?  Or do you mean that you might have been set on a wrong path concerning these ideas?

And, not to derail a thread I started  Smiley but, in reading the pages you linked I followed another link from the author during an exchange in the comments section and found some interesting comments.  The page concerned the Orthodox veneration of the Blessed Virgin and somewhat down the page are some comments on the Immaculate Conception.

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WHEN THOSE WHO censured the immaculate life of the Most Holy Virgin had been rebuked, as well as those who denied Her Evervirginity, those who denied Her dignity as the Mother of God, and those who disdained Her icons-then, when the glory of the Mother of God had illuminated the whole universe, there appeared a teaching which seemingly exalted highly the Virgin Mary, but in reality denied all Her virtues.

This teaching is called that of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and it was accepted by the followers of the Papal throne of Rome. The teaching is this- that "the All-blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of Her Conception, by the special grace of Almighty God and by a special privilege, for the sake of the future merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin" (Bull of Pope Pius IX concerning the new dogma). In other words, the Mother of God at Her very conception was preserved from original sin and, by the grace of God, was placed in a state where it was impossible for Her to have personal sins.

How does this follow?  And how does it "deny all her virtues?"  I can understand a rejection of the Immaculate Conception, on quite possibly a number of grounds, not least of which is the method of promulgation.  However, I cannot see anything like what is suggested above.  According to this a person born without original sin cannot commit any act of personal sin.  So, how did Adam and Eve pull it off?  And a person without original sin would have no virtue.  So, we want to have original sin otherwise we are automatons without the ability to sin, but somehow also without the virtue of not sinning.  I found it a very interesting statement.  I won't even comment on how that might affect the Lord, btw.

I am comfortable with disagreement and that the Orthodox do not accept our view.  But, what view is it that is rejected, and is it really "our" view at all?  Surely, the above kind of stuff does no service at all to any real discussion or debate, and as a Catholic how could I find the "error" I am guilty of if straw men like that are all I can find?

Patrick
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2006, 12:47:01 AM »

Do you think it would have turned you off from converting?  Or do you mean that you might have been set on a wrong path concerning these ideas?

It wouldn't have discouraged me.  My contact with Orthodoxy and my decision were made before I had any contact or understanding of some parts of convert culture in this country.  In the end it probably would have made no difference either way, still for some reason I'm glad it happened in the order it did.

Regarding Mary, I believe she was without sin throughout her life.
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2006, 12:54:26 AM »

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It wouldn't have discouraged me.  My contact with Orthodoxy and my decision were made before I had any contact or understanding of some parts of convert culture in this country.

Actually, almost every person of note that I've seen speak against Augustine (and "the west" generally) were not converts. Fr. John Romanides, Michael Azkoul, Dr. Kalomiros, George Gabriel, etc. are all cradle Orthodox as far as I know. The American converts were mostly just the unwitting pawns in that theological skirmish, and have no real influence. Of course, this is not to attack cradles and defend converts.
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2006, 01:06:34 AM »

Actually, almost every person of note that I've seen speak against Augustine (and "the west" generally) were not converts. Fr. John Romanides, Michael Azkoul, Dr. Kalomiros, George Gabriel, etc. are all cradle Orthodox as far as I know. The American converts were mostly just the unwitting pawns in that theological skirmish, and have no real influence. Of course, this is not to attack cradles and defend converts.

Those are the marginal Greek theologians I was speaking of.  Some of the convert crowd have simply appropriated their arguments, such as with an awful piece on the Atonement written by Khouria Matthewes-Green.  The single worst piece I've read is the Kalomiros one.  I've actually run across people who take it seriously.
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2006, 01:40:51 AM »

In his book "Byzantine Theology" Fr. Meyendorff also rejects the Western (Augustinian) view of the original sin, but I suppose he too is simply a "marginal" theologian.  My question is this:  Who is it that determines who is or who is not a "marginal" theologian? 

Based upon what has been said so far in this thread, it sounds like the category of "marginal" theologian is a purely subjective classification used in order to discount the work of theologians that say things that some people do not like.

God bless,
Todd

P.S. - It is not "anti-Western" to disagree with the doctrines that developed under the influence of the Scholastic philosophers of the medieval period in the Western Church.
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2006, 01:46:23 AM »

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In his book "Byzantine Theology" Fr. Meyendorff also rejects the Western (Augustinian) view of the original sin, but I suppose he too is simply a "marginal" theologian.

I can't speak for anyone else, but for my own part, the theologians I mentioned did not just speak against Augustine's view of, say, free-will, but were men who attacked the very sainthood of Augustine. That was what I, for my part, was speaking about. Even defenders of Augustine (e.g., Fr. Seraphim Rose) admit that no saint, including Augustine, was perfect in their theology.
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2006, 01:56:08 AM »

Indeed, even the Catholics do not accept everything Augustine wrote. Augustine himself did not accept everything he wrote. Of course, that does not stop some from using Augustine as a club to beat over the head of the Church.
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2006, 01:57:22 AM »

Certainly people should be able to distinguish between St. Augustine the man, and his ideas.
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2006, 03:12:54 AM »

I have been rereading Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky, which I recall having found profitable a while back, and have found some things relating to original sin that confuse me. 

Some posters on this board, among them Anastasios and Nektarios, may recall my complaints over the past couple of years regarding Fr. Michael's book cited here.  I do not understand why several who have posted on this board are so appreciative of this work; no doubt they have their reasons.  Others who do not post here, some being quite influential Orthodox figures in certain circles, have also expressed great appreciation for this book.  Again, I am perplexed as to the reasons why.  From what I can recall of the book, I would say that it has dangerous anti-intellectual and ahistorical tendencies.  I am at the point where I would like to acquire my own copy in order to develop a more refined critique of its contents.  I would posit that some of its appeal must lie in the fact that it was apparently written with genuine spiritual fervour.  I am not criticising this, or Fr. Michael's sincerity. 

I would agree with Welkodox in his assesment of some of the Greek theologians named as being marginal, though I am not familiar with all of them.  I think it's probably unfair to refer to Romanides in this way (regarding some of his work, anyway), although to me it seems that he is inclined to be paranoid and reactionary at times. 

Lubeltri et al, make no mistake about it.  There is a definite shading of difference in tendencies in the way the Latin Church and the Orthodox Church have historically viewed original sin or ancestral sin.  This difference is not tiny but significant, and can't be ignored.  If I had more time, I would offer different sources to speak for this.  I think someone mentioned Meyendorff?  Even Kallistos Ware comes to mind.
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2006, 10:20:42 AM »

In his book "Byzantine Theology" Fr. Meyendorff also rejects the Western (Augustinian) view of the original sin, but I suppose he too is simply a "marginal" theologian.  My question is this:  Who is it that determines who is or who is not a "marginal" theologian?

Why, who else but me!  Grin

I would not consider Fr. Meyendorff marginal.  You heard it here first.

Quote
Based upon what has been said so far in this thread, it sounds like the category of "marginal" theologian is a purely subjective classification used in order to discount the work of theologians that say things that some people do not like.

Subjective yes, but my labelling of them as marginal is not to discount what they say simply because I don't like it.  What I have read of them, or people like "Archbishop" Lazar Puhalo, has shown me they are marginal because they don't actually engage in their arguments in a balanced way.  They appear to me to be guided by prejudice and in some cases paranoia, and instead of actually taking on what western theology really teaches, they build up and knock down straw men.

Quote
P.S. - It is not "anti-Western" to disagree with the doctrines that developed under the influence of the Scholastic philosophers of the medieval period in the Western Church.

No, but it is anti-western to simply start with the premise of distancing oneself from western theology and then finding all kinds of creative ways to do so.  It's almost like when people proof text from the Bible, because when you read their arguments, you know you're not getting the whole picture.  In the end, it doesn't get to the real tradition of the church, it deprecates it.  The sad thing is many former Evangelical Protestant converts, who somehow seem to want to either invalidate or escape their past, have appropriated the theories and arguments of these marginal theologians.  What you end up with is absurd pieces like this - http://www.frederica.com/writings/the-meaning-of-christs-suffering.html, that are passed off as being the "Orthodox view".  I've seen people actually say "the Orthodox don't believe in Original Sin".

It's sad, and I think it makes us look foolish.
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« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2006, 11:23:30 AM »

In his book "Byzantine Theology" Fr. Meyendorff also rejects the Western (Augustinian) view of the original sin, but I suppose he too is simply a "marginal" theologian.

This is fine, but what I would like to know is what view of original sin did he reject?  Is it the one Father Michael rejects in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology?  If so, then he rejects a straw man.  Father Michael detailed as "Orthodox" what I a Roman Catholic have been taught and believe, and what can be found in the Catechism as our faith, and then rejects some other idea as "Western."  I am very comfortable with disagreement, and I can accept that you or the Orthodox in general or theologians in particular will reject what we believe, but I can't seem to find out what about our concept of original sin you actually reject.

Patrick
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« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2006, 12:13:46 PM »

This is fine, but what I would like to know is what view of original sin did he reject?  Is it the one Father Michael rejects in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology?  If so, then he rejects a straw man.  Father Michael detailed as "Orthodox" what I a Roman Catholic have been taught and believe, and what can be found in the Catechism as our faith, and then rejects some other idea as "Western."  I am very comfortable with disagreement, and I can accept that you or the Orthodox in general or theologians in particular will reject what we believe, but I can't seem to find out what about our concept of original sin you actually reject.

Patrick
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« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2006, 08:08:12 PM »

This is fine, but what I would like to know is what view of original sin did he reject?  Is it the one Father Michael rejects in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology?  If so, then he rejects a straw man.  Father Michael detailed as "Orthodox" what I a Roman Catholic have been taught and believe, and what can be found in the Catechism as our faith, and then rejects some other idea as "Western."  I am very comfortable with disagreement, and I can accept that you or the Orthodox in general or theologians in particular will reject what we believe, but I can't seem to find out what about our concept of original sin you actually reject.

Though I may have at one point had a sufficent understanding of your notions of Original Sin to answer your question, I fear I no longer do. But I will say that the standard of Orthodox Theology on this issue tends to be St. John Cassian, the theology of Augustine is only accepted as Orthodox insofar as it agrees with Cassian who avoids the (heretical?) extremes of both Augustine and Pelegius.

Now, ultimately, what Cassian says is that man is perfectly capable of, by his own will, beginning the process of salvation, though not completing it without the assistance of God. Though it may be able to be argued that man still has a sinful nature, only one that he is, by his own means, capable of overcoming, though I would tend to support the more logical path that says that man does not have any natural tendency towards sin (let alone, heaven forbid, share in any guilt of another's sin and the radical applications of this, such as a condemnation of unbaptized babies, should be condemned as a heresy of the worst kind). I would argue that man's tendency towards sin is not natural but experiential, we live in a sinful world and thus learn to sin from our youth, thus it may seem natural but it's ultimately learned. Now I fear I do not know exactly what the latins mean by Original Sin, but if it claims mankind had a natural tendency towards sin it should be looked upon with suspicion, if it says that man is born in a condemned state and incapable of doing good without divine intervention, it should be condemned as a heresy based on the writings of St. John Cassian.
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2006, 08:39:45 PM »

Though I may have at one point had a sufficent understanding of your notions of Original Sin to answer your question, I fear I no longer do. But I will say that the standard of Orthodox Theology on this issue tends to be St. John Cassian, the theology of Augustine is only accepted as Orthodox insofar as it agrees with Cassian who avoids the (heretical?) extremes of both Augustine and Pelegius.

I am unfamiliar with St. John Cassian's writings and positions.  I will have to do some reading, if I can find something available covering what he has said on this.

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Now, ultimately, what Cassian says is that man is perfectly capable of, by his own will, beginning the process of salvation, though not completing it without the assistance of God. Though it may be able to be argued that man still has a sinful nature, only one that he is, by his own means, capable of overcoming, though I would tend to support the more logical path that says that man does not have any natural tendency towards sin (let alone, heaven forbid, share in any guilt of another's sin and the radical applications of this, such as a condemnation of unbaptized babies, should be condemned as a heresy of the worst kind). I would argue that man's tendency towards sin is not natural but experiential, we live in a sinful world and thus learn to sin from our youth, thus it may seem natural but it's ultimately learned. Now I fear I do not know exactly what the latins mean by Original Sin, but if it claims mankind had a natural tendency towards sin it should be looked upon with suspicion, if it says that man is born in a condemned state and incapable of doing good without divine intervention, it should be condemned as a heresy based on the writings of St. John Cassian.

I am not aware of any position in the Catholic Church saying that a person can do no good without divine intervention, though we could certainly take that too far.  I am curious about the position you are describing here.  Are you saying that at birth a person is identical in condition to that of Adam before the fall?   If so, is that the common understanding of the Orthodox?

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« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2006, 09:03:39 PM »

I am not aware of any position in the Catholic Church saying that a person can do no good without divine intervention, though we could certainly take that too far.

I was not entirely certain as to Rome's position on the matter...the Calvinists would take it that far and further, though while Rome and the Calvinists share many presuppositions in matters of soteriology, I know the former doesn't go quite as far as the latter.

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I am curious about the position you are describing here.  Are you saying that at birth a person is identical in condition to that of Adam before the fall?   If so, is that the common understanding of the Orthodox?

In terms of nature and will, yes, I would essentially argue that. This is not to say that the fall was without effect, for it broke a relationship between God and man (and established one between Satan and man), leading to a world in which the inhabitants were inclined to sin by their environment. This relationship was healed with the incarnation, which occurred in the context of an unfallen state through the sinlessness of our Lady (a state created by her human will and her human efforts, not divine intervention, overcomming the fallen world in which she was born). As to how common this understanding is in Orthodoxy? It's not an issue that is discussed often enough nor with enough clarity for me to say for sure. It's fairly common, though I couldn't tell you how universal.
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« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2006, 09:36:05 PM »

I was not entirely certain as to Rome's position on the matter...the Calvinists would take it that far and further, though while Rome and the Calvinists share many presuppositions in matters of soteriology, I know the former doesn't go quite as far as the latter.

Calvinists routinely accuse us Catholics of being Pelagians for this reason. My father's favorite theologian, John MacArthur (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._MacArthur), says that Catholics who believe Catholic teaching on salvation are headed for damnation. Obviously this would cause some problems between me and my father (who STILL sends me MacArthur books for Christmas  Undecided ).

There is quite a gulf between Catholics and even Arminians, who like the Calvinists believe in total depravity (but not double predestination and perseverence of the saints).



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« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2006, 09:57:14 PM »

I was not entirely certain as to Rome's position on the matter...the Calvinists would take it that far and further, though while Rome and the Calvinists share many presuppositions in matters of soteriology, I know the former doesn't go quite as far as the latter.

Well, perhaps the clearest statement would be from the Catechism, which in brief says this:

"Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle."

Further more can be seen by a brief comparison:

"The Church's teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine's reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam's fault to bad example. The first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529) and at the Council of Trent (1546)."

(All emphasis is mine.)

This would incline me to thinking that the extremity of the Protestant position is rejected.  I certainly have never been taught or read anything as extreme as what many Protestants seem to believe.

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In terms of nature and will, yes, I would essentially argue that. This is not to say that the fall was without effect, for it broke a relationship between God and man (and established one between Satan and man), leading to a world in which the inhabitants were inclined to sin by their environment. This relationship was healed with the incarnation, which occurred in the context of an unfallen state through the sinlessness of our Lady (a state created by her human will and her human efforts, not divine intervention, overcomming the fallen world in which she was born).

As regards the sinlessness of our Lady I would think the Catholic position is not far from what you are saying.  Many seem to think that the Immaculate Conception means that Mary was prevented from sinning by God, but that is not true.  It means that Mary never had the stain of original sin which doesn't negate her free will.  Just as Adam and Eve could choose sin in the garden, or you or I can after baptism which also erases the stain of original sin, Mary could choose.  For instance, she said yes to God in her fiat and by her own free will.  If she were acting from compulsion what value would there be?  Also, we can say the same of her Son who of course was free from any stain of original sin, but was not deprived of free will either.  More to the point, if the Church believed that being free from the stain of original sin meant that Mary could not sin then neither could Adam and Eve, who were certainly not stained with original sin before they had even committed it, and therefore there would be no fall at all.  An interesting paradox that would suggest, I am sure.

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As to how common this understanding is in Orthodoxy? It's not an issue that is discussed often enough nor with enough clarity for me to say for sure. It's fairly common, though I couldn't tell you how universal.

I would certainly like to know more about the Orthodox view.  In this instance, I would perhaps have to agree with Papist's earlier statements, which at the time I disputed, that the East is so unwilling to dogmatize that we cannot tell what she believes.  Whereas the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the original sin and its effects is fairly clear, if not without some necessary mystery or question, I am having a very hard time being sure that the East are in agreement on this at all.  This has powerful consequences as original sin is often listed as one of the Western ideas rejected by the East.  If the East rejects our position there will have to be an alternative "truth" suggested, and so far that seems hard to figure out.

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« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2006, 10:16:49 PM »

...This relationship was healed with the incarnation, which occurred in the context of an unfallen state through the sinlessness of our Lady (a state created by her human will and her human efforts, not divine intervention, overcomming the fallen world in which she was born). As to how common this understanding is in Orthodoxy? It's not an issue that is discussed often enough nor with enough clarity for me to say for sure. It's fairly common, though I couldn't tell you how universal.
That sounds like contradicting St. John Damascene:

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We confess(3), then, that He assumed all the natural and innocent passions of man. For He assumed the whole man and all man's attributes save sin. For that is not natural, nor is it implanted in us by the Creator, but arises voluntarily in our mode of life as the result of a further implantation by the devil, though it cannot prevail over us by force. For the natural and innocent passions are those which are not in our power, but which have entered into the life of man owing to the condemnation by reason of the transgression; such as hunger, thirst, weariness, labour, the tears, the corruption, the shrinking from death, the fear, the agony with the bloody sweat, the succour at the hands of angels because of the weakness of the nature, and other such like passions which belong by nature to every man. (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Ch. XX)
Christ had a fallen human nature (with some exceptions) - and so did His mother - after all they both died, No?
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« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2006, 10:39:44 PM »

That sounds like contradicting St. John Damascene:
Christ had a fallen human nature (with some exceptions) - and so did His mother - after all they both died, No?

I dont believe that I am...I am not saying that our Lord or our Lady were somehow of a different nature than the rest of the humanity, only that they better preserved it than your average person, for they abstained from sin, they represented human nature in its fullest sense. As far as death, I would be careful about linking physical death to the fall...after all, even in your quote St. John Damascene does not attach physical death to the fall, but rather 'shrinking from death.'
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« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2006, 10:55:52 PM »

Well, perhaps the clearest statement would be from the Catechism, which in brief says this:...

Well, in that case, while I disagree with the position of your Church, I don't believe it is quite extreme enough to warrent throwing anathemas around, though the position of the Calvinists is. There is, however, one element of your catechism that gives me a bit of concern:

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Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam's fault to bad example.

While this is true, it was not the essence of what made Pelagius a heretic, more importantly, not only did Pelagius say that man could live a morally good life by his own accord (which I would actually agree with), he went further and said that by doing so man could obtain salvation without any need for God to play a role (something I would most certainly object to). Perhaps the author was simply trying to simplify the debates for the benifit of the reader, though I believe this to be an important distinction to make.

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This would incline me to thinking that the extremity of the Protestant position is rejected.  I certainly have never been taught or read anything as extreme as what many Protestants seem to believe.

It would appear that the text has a fairly specific condemnation of Calvinism...if I recall properly a similar condemnation is found in the Council of Trent, though I cannot recall the extend of the condemnation.

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As regards the sinlessness of our Lady I would think the Catholic position is not far from what you are saying.  Many seem to think that the Immaculate Conception means that Mary was prevented from sinning by God, but that is not true.  It means that Mary never had the stain of original sin which doesn't negate her free will.  Just as Adam and Eve could choose sin in the garden, or you or I can after baptism which also erases the stain of original sin, Mary could choose.  For instance, she said yes to God in her fiat and by her own free will.  If she were acting from compulsion what value would there be?  Also, we can say the same of her Son who of course was free from any stain of original sin, but was not deprived of free will either.  More to the point, if the Church believed that being free from the stain of original sin meant that Mary could not sin then neither could Adam and Eve, who were certainly not stained with original sin before they had even committed it, and therefore there would be no fall at all.  An interesting paradox that would suggest, I am sure.

I believe that our mariology is comprable on this matter the one notable difference is in general soteriological...we would say that everyone had the same opportunity to live a sinless life as the Theotokos (and that a few other did, such as Enoch, Elijah, and the Holy Forerunner), thus there was no need for a special grace as is said to be bestowed by the immaculate conception.

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I would certainly like to know more about the Orthodox view.  In this instance, I would perhaps have to agree with Papist's earlier statements, which at the time I disputed, that the East is so unwilling to dogmatize that we cannot tell what she believes.  Whereas the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the original sin and its effects is fairly clear, if not without some necessary mystery or question, I am having a very hard time being sure that the East are in agreement on this at all.  This has powerful consequences as original sin is often listed as one of the Western ideas rejected by the East.  If the East rejects our position there will have to be an alternative "truth" suggested, and so far that seems hard to figure out.

Good luck Wink As I said, the soteriology I put forward is probably the most common, though I can't promise that the language used will be comprable. Of course, because we have not dogmatized the issue, there is room for disagreement, and there will certainly be people who disagree. Though there was a time when I wish the Church would be clearer and stricter about certain theological issues, I have come to appreciate her approach; my adopting of a theological position that, while once the majority opinion, is now in the minority probably led to my gaining of this appreciation Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2006, 10:59:20 PM »

...As far as death, I would be careful about linking physical death to the fall...after all, even in your quote St. John Damascene does not attach physical death to the fall, but rather 'shrinking from death.'

What is wrong with linking physical death to the fall? Wasn't death (the separation of body and soul following the corruption of the former) a product of the fall? Adam would not have died if he had kept the commandment, no? On the other hand there's something special about the death of Christ, in that His body did not experience corruption:
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The word corruption(1) has two meanings(2). For it signifies all the human sufferings, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, the piercing with nails, death, that is, the separation of soul and body, and so forth. In this sense we say that our Lord's body was subject to corruption. For He voluntarily accepted all these things. But corruption means also the complete resolution of the body into its constituent elements, and its utter disappearance, which is spoken of by many preferably as destruction. The body of our Lord did not experience this form of corruption, as the prophet David says, For Thou will not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see corruption(3).

Wherefore to say, with that foolish Julianus and Gaianus, that our Lord's body was incorruptible, in the first sense of the word, before His resurrection is impious. For if it were incorruptible it was not really, but only apparently, of the same essence as ours, and what the Gospel tells us happened, viz. the hunger, the thirst, the nails, the wound in His side, the death, did not actually occur. But if they only apparently happened, then the mystery of the dispensation is an imposture and a sham, and He became man only in appearance, and not in actual fact, and we are saved only in appearance, and not in actual fact. But God forbid, and may those who so say have no part in the salvation(4). But we have obtained and shall obtain the true salvation. But in the second meaning of the word "corruption," we confess that our Lord's body is incorruptible, that is, indestructible, for such is the tradition of the inspired Fathers. Indeed, after the resurrection of our Saviour from the dead, we say that our Lord's body is incorruptible even in the first sense of the word. For our Lord by His own body bestowed the gifts both of resurrection and of subsequent incorruption even on our own body, He Himself having become to us the firstfruits both of resurrection and incorruption, and of passionlessness(5). For as the divine Apostle says, This corruptible must put an incorruption(6). (Ch. XXVIII)
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« Reply #26 on: December 21, 2006, 11:12:16 PM »

What is wrong with linking physical death to the fall? Wasn't death (the separation of body and soul following the corruption of the former) a product of the fall?

I dont believe so, I believe spiritual death (the separation of humanity from God) was the result of the fall.

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Adam would not have died if he had kept the commandment, no? On the other hand there's something special about the death of Christ, in that His body did not experience corruption:

Wouldn't he have? I'm not so sure I would agree. Our physical death is not a curse, rather it is the next step in our sanctification; physical death will bring us closer to God, which is a blessing; thus it makes sense to me that St. John Damascene only refered to fear of death, rather than death itself, being a result of the fall.

Of course, we are now talking about the effect of the fall and/or sin on the body, not on the human nature or will Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: December 21, 2006, 11:49:23 PM »

I dont believe so, I believe spiritual death (the separation of humanity from God) was the result of the fall... Wouldn't he have? I'm not so sure I would agree.

Well, read the first quote I provided. How can a nature that is not subject to hunger, thirst... corruption, die?

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Our physical death is not a curse, rather it is the next step in our sanctification; physical death will bring us closer to God, which is a blessing;

I agree, post-fall.

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...thus it makes sense to me that St. John Damascene only referred to fear of death, rather than death itself, being a result of the fall.

What did he mean by corruption then?

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Of course, we are now talking about the effect of the fall and/or sin on the body, not on the human nature or will Smiley

And isn't the body part of our human nature? Btw the soul was also affected by the fall. For one thing it lost the vision of God (being expelled from Paradise) and was subjected to temptations and evil thoughts from within (the thorns and thistles of the earth (Gen 3:18)). (cf. St. Maximus, To Thalasius Q. 5)
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« Reply #28 on: December 22, 2006, 12:23:27 AM »

Well, in that case, while I disagree with the position of your Church, I don't believe it is quite extreme enough to warrent throwing anathemas around, though the position of the Calvinists is. There is, however, one element of your catechism that gives me a bit of concern:

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Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam's fault to bad example.

While this is true, it was not the essence of what made Pelagius a heretic, more importantly, not only did Pelagius say that man could live a morally good life by his own accord (which I would actually agree with), he went further and said that by doing so man could obtain salvation without any need for God to play a role (something I would most certainly object to). Perhaps the author was simply trying to simplify the debates for the benifit of the reader, though I believe this to be an important distinction to make.
...
I believe that our mariology is comprable on this matter the one notable difference is in general soteriological...we would say that everyone had the same opportunity to live a sinless life as the Theotokos (and that a few other did, such as Enoch, Elijah, and the Holy Forerunner), thus there was no need for a special grace as is said to be bestowed by the immaculate conception.

Firstly, I would say that the special grace of the Immaculate Conception was not about her living a sinless life, but rather was about the stain of original sin.  As for the sinless life that followed, that was also by the grace of God, but is not the Immaculate Conception.  And while I am not too sure how far I would personally go in this, I would say that I would have no real problem accepting that there may have been exceptional people who managed to avoid personal sin.  While I am not sure of it, certainly John the Baptist would be the number one contender in that area.  I do seem to recall some Scripture texts, can't recall which though, that seemed to indicate that such had likely occurred.  Again, though, I would be quick to say that if it happened, it was not without the grace of God.  That is not to say that it would mean that a person was prevented from sinning by God, which would deny free will and that is impossible, but rather that for a person to avoid personal sin would require the help of God.  Again, looking in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I find this relating to our Lady:  "By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long."

That would likely be the meaning of the earlier statement on leading a "morally good life."  How good is morally good?  Likely, what is meant here is that to be perfect would require God's grace, and that cannot be done by man alone.  Basic morality is within man's reach, but not goodness in any real sense.  Even Jesus asked why a person called Him good when there was only one good, and that was God.

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Good luck Wink As I said, the soteriology I put forward is probably the most common, though I can't promise that the language used will be comprable. Of course, because we have not dogmatized the issue, there is room for disagreement, and there will certainly be people who disagree. Though there was a time when I wish the Church would be clearer and stricter about certain theological issues, I have come to appreciate her approach; my adopting of a theological position that, while once the majority opinion, is now in the minority probably led to my gaining of this appreciation Smiley

That has been my experience overall.  With matters Eastern things have not been layed out so neatly as we in the West like them.  Information is often uncategorized and unlisted for us and so it is tricky to be sure just what is going on.  Overall that is no trouble, but it becomes difficult in things like this.  For instance, you say this has not been dogmatized, and if that is so, then why do so many say that this is a reason to reject possible unity with the West?  I am okay with that if there is something we teach that is definitively wrong, by your teaching.  But, to say that we are definitively wrong on something you have not even defined, well that doesn't seem quite to make sense, if you know what I mean.

Thanks for the clarifications,

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« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2006, 07:58:59 AM »

That has been my experience overall.  With matters Eastern things have not been layed out so neatly as we in the West like them.  Information is often uncategorized and unlisted for us and so it is tricky to be sure just what is going on.  Overall that is no trouble, but it becomes difficult in things like this.  For instance, you say this has not been dogmatized, and if that is so, then why do so many say that this is a reason to reject possible unity with the West?  I am okay with that if there is something we teach that is definitively wrong, by your teaching.  But, to say that we are definitively wrong on something you have not even defined, well that doesn't seem quite to make sense, if you know what I mean.

I believe one of the problems is that the west has dogmatized it, and they manner in which they dogmatized does not sit well with us. The concept of Original Sin you present is not so extreme as to be easily condemned, but neither is it in line without our traditional understanding of the Nature. If this was not a dogma, but a theologumena of the west, we would probably have fewer problems with it and simply relegate the issue to one of private belief.
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« Reply #30 on: December 22, 2006, 01:30:43 PM »

I believe one of the problems is that the west has dogmatized it, and they manner in which they dogmatized does not sit well with us. The concept of Original Sin you present is not so extreme as to be easily condemned, but neither is it in line without our traditional understanding of the Nature. If this was not a dogma, but a theologumena of the west, we would probably have fewer problems with it and simply relegate the issue to one of private belief.

In nomine Iesu, GiC I offer you continued peace,

What would you say differs between your view of Original Sin and say that of Pelagian?

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« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2006, 01:45:18 PM »

What would you say differs between your view of Original Sin and say that of Pelagian?

I dont think the major difference between our views and those of Pelagius are on the issue of original sin, but rather related to soteriology proper. While I would not disagree with Pelagius' claim that we can live a moral life without divine intervention, I, and all of Orthodoxy, would disagree with his assertion that salvation can be gained by these means alone; as it is not merely works nor mearly faith which saves us, but the two working together in synergy. Salvation is obtained not merely by living a good life but also in the context of a relationship with God.
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« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2006, 02:31:47 PM »

I dont think the major difference between our views and those of Pelagius are on the issue of original sin, but rather related to soteriology proper. While I would not disagree with Pelagius' claim that we can live a moral life without divine intervention, I, and all of Orthodoxy, would disagree with his assertion that salvation can be gained by these means alone; as it is not merely works nor mearly faith which saves us, but the two working together in synergy. Salvation is obtained not merely by living a good life but also in the context of a relationship with God.

In nomine Iesu I offer you continued peace,

Original Sin was directly denied by the Pelagians, who taught: a) The sin of Adam is transmitted to posterity not by inheritance but through imitation (imitatione, non propagatione). So from the Pelagian perspective, there simply is no need to articulate a Dogma of Original Sin because until one commits 'personal' sin the error of Adam's Sin has simply not been imitated.

In the West, this 'imitation' denies the salvific action of Baptism and the necessity of the incorporation of man into the Church by said Baptism. From the Western Church point-of-view, the denial of an inherant defect (i.e. wounded) nature due by Adam's Sin creates a pelagianistic denial of the necessity of the Work of the Church through the life-giving Sacraments (i.e. Mysteries).

Pelagius denied the inherent defect of Adam's Sin in man and the necessity of man's participation in God's Plan of Salvation (which is through the Body of Christ, the Church) to renew his nature to a prefall state. This error was combated chiefly, in the Western Tradition, by St. Augustine and was condemned by the Church at the Synods of Milieve 416, Carthage 418, Orange 529 and in later times by the Council of Trent 1546.

It would appear, in the East, that Pelagius' views have been left unchallenged except for their soteriological conclusions. From a Western point-of-view this looks more like messy theology than any larger exercise of wisdom on the part of the Eastern Patriarchs. Is it your opinion that the natural state of fallen man lacks sanctifying Grace (i.e. is in a state of damnation in need of redemption through the Sacraments of the Church)? It has been the oppinion, in the Western Church, that the nature of prefall and postfall man differs primarily by the presence of sanctifying Grace (i.e. communion with the Word - Athanasius).

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« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2006, 02:49:11 PM »

I believe one of the problems is that the west has dogmatized it, and they manner in which they dogmatized does not sit well with us. The concept of Original Sin you present is not so extreme as to be easily condemned, but neither is it in line without our traditional understanding of the Nature. If this was not a dogma, but a theologumena of the west, we would probably have fewer problems with it and simply relegate the issue to one of private belief.

Could you elaborate on your understanding of "the Nature" and how it relates to this?  How would you say the position I have taken would be incompatible with that understanding and how is it out of line?  I think this might go a long ways to helping me see the differences at work here.

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« Reply #34 on: December 22, 2006, 02:52:15 PM »

GIC

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But I will say that the standard of Orthodox Theology on this issue tends to be St. John Cassian...

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While I would not disagree with Pelagius' claim that we can live a moral life without divine intervention, I, and all of Orthodoxy, would disagree with his assertion that salvation can be gained by these means alone

What then would you make of the claims of Paul and those found in the works of John Cassian, that even our good intentions are the product of God's grace? Don't get me wrong, for obvious reasons I agree with you that people can live moral lives without divine intervention, I'm just curious as to what you think about God's grace acting on us even before we act.

"'For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do according to good will.' (Phil 2:13; cf 1 Cor. 3:9, 19; Heb. 13:20-21) What could well be clearer than the assertion that both our good will and the completion of our work are fully wrought in us by the Lord?" - John Cassian, Conferences, 3, 15

"...the initiative not only of our actions but also of good thoughts comes from God, who inspires us with a good will to begin with, and supplies us with the opportunity of carrying out what we rightly desire: for 'every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from above, from the Father of lights,' (James 1:17) who both begins what is good, and continues it and completes it in us, as the Apostle says: 'But He who giveth seed to the sower will both provide bread to eat and will multiply your seed and make the fruits of your righteousness to increase.' (2 Cor. 9:10)" - John Cassian, Conferences, 13, 3

"Whence human reason cannot easily decide how the Lord ...draws men against their will to salvation, takes away from those who want to sin the faculty of carrying out their desire, in His goodness stands in the way of those who are rushing into wickedness." - John Cassian, Conferences, 13, 9
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« Reply #35 on: December 22, 2006, 03:02:17 PM »

Salvation is obtained not merely by living a good life but also in the context of a relationship with God.

But you believe in universal salvation, do you not?
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« Reply #36 on: December 22, 2006, 03:23:45 PM »

But you believe in universal salvation, do you not?

In nomine Iesu, lubeltri I offer you continued peace and much filial affection,

I do believe that GiC is attempting to be objective and present the position of Orthodoxy 'sans theologumena'.

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« Reply #37 on: December 22, 2006, 03:41:13 PM »

It would appear, in the East, that Pelagius' views have been left unchallenged except for their soteriological conclusions. From a Western point-of-view this looks more like messy theology than any larger exercise of wisdom on the part of the Eastern Patriarchs.

And from an eastern point of view the west is over anxious to dogmatize everything and because of the theological differences between east and west, many of the things the west dogmatizes were traditionally disputed positions in the history of the Church. Rest assured, the east has always been uncomfortable with the legalistic and, shall we say judaizing, approach to theology seen in Augustine.

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Is it your opinion that the natural state of fallen man lacks sanctifying Grace (i.e. is in a state of damnation in need of redemption through the Sacraments of the Church)?

Yes, it is my opinion that man in any state, fallen or unfallen, lacks the sanctifying grace needed for redeption in and of himself; man in both a fallen and unfallen state is dependent on God for this grace, we were not gods before we fell and we did not become them after the fall.

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It has been the oppinion, in the Western Church, that the nature of prefall and postfall man differs primarily by the presence of sanctifying Grace (i.e. communion with the Word - Athanasius).

Communion, or a specific relationship with God...which is the point I've been trying to make all along, the change in humanity following the fall was not natural or thelemic in essence, it did not change the nature or the will of man, it was a relational change...it had no effect on humans as independent entities, the effect was in the relationship between God and humanity.
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« Reply #38 on: December 22, 2006, 03:52:59 PM »

Could you elaborate on your understanding of "the Nature" and how it relates to this?  How would you say the position I have taken would be incompatible with that understanding and how is it out of line?  I think this might go a long ways to helping me see the differences at work here.

Patrick

By 'the Nature' I ment human nature; to expand on that somewhat, that which is common to all mankind the source of a common will, or inclination, within each person.
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« Reply #39 on: December 22, 2006, 03:56:29 PM »

GIC

What then would you make of the claims of Paul and those found in the works of John Cassian, that even our good intentions are the product of God's grace? Don't get me wrong, for obvious reasons I agree with you that people can live moral lives without divine intervention, I'm just curious as to what you think about God's grace acting on us even before we act...

I would say that the statements are essentially rhetorical. Yes, a certain grace is needed for man (fallen or unfallen) to do good, a grace comprable to that which is necessary for him to even exist. But it is a grace given to all mankind by God, before and after the fall. We were not somehow gods prior to the fall without any need of God. We were as dependent on him for these ontological necessities then as we are now, this need is certainly not the result of some 'original sin.'
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« Reply #40 on: December 22, 2006, 04:02:18 PM »

But you believe in universal salvation, do you not?

Yes, of course I do, though I don't believe that really need have a direct impact on this discussion. Apokatastasis is a universal restoration to the primordial conditions, to communion with God; it is not an instant entering into eternal bliss, regardless of one's life and faith, upon death. The process of salvation still applies to all, the fathers that taught Apokatastasis simply taught that all of creation would, eventually, go through that salvific process, the communion between God and all creation would eventually be restored. Here we are simply discussing the salvific process, whether or not all will go through it or only a few is a related but different issue.
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« Reply #41 on: December 22, 2006, 04:15:48 PM »

GIC,

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I would say that the statements are essentially rhetorical. Yes, a certain grace is needed for man (fallen or unfallen) to do good, a grace comprable to that which is necessary for him to even exist.

Good point. So would you define "divine intervention" as something like a specific act on a specific person for a specific reason? (EDIT--I realise that this might seem obvious, but to me it implies a rather passive role for God most of the time, like maybe the occasional miracle...?)

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But it is a grace given to all mankind by God, before and after the fall. We were not somehow gods prior to the fall without any need of God. We were as dependent on him for these ontological necessities then as we are now, this need is certainly not the result of some 'original sin.'

I'm guessing that you are not speaking about a divine foreknowledge--"God foreknew what we'd need"--type of thing, but you are saying that we all had an actual prelapsarian existence? If so, how do you justify this view of Origen and a few others, when the rest of your Church seems to reject it?
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« Reply #42 on: December 22, 2006, 04:32:51 PM »

And from an eastern point of view the west is over anxious to dogmatize everything and because of the theological differences between east and west, many of the things the west dogmatizes were traditionally disputed positions in the history of the Church. Rest assured, the east has always been uncomfortable with the legalistic and, shall we say judaizing, approach to theology seen in Augustine.

What you criticize as 'judaizing' one might suggest is simply 'clarity'. It was not in their observance of the Law which our Lord and Saviour criticized the Pharisees but their hypocracy in their personal actions void of the 'charity' which the Law was meant to inspire.

Our Lord and Saviour is not 'against' Law, Moses' or otherwise, but fulfills the Law through it's intended mode of operation 'charity'.

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Yes, it is my opinion that man in any state, fallen or unfallen, lacks the sanctifying grace needed for redeption in and of himself; man in both a fallen and unfallen state is dependent on God for this grace, we were not gods before we fell and we did not become them after the fall.

By definition, our unfallen nature 'is' a nature in communion with God which by definition, asserts the presence of sanctifying grace from God. Sanctification (i.e. Deification) will only be completed at the resurrection where we will 'see face to face what we only see dimly now'. I might get the impression from your post that you are confusing Complete Sanctification (i.e. Deification) with the restoration of our unfallen state (redemption).

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Communion, or a specific relationship with God...which is the point I've been trying to make all along, the change in humanity following the fall was not natural or thelemic in essence, it did not change the nature or the will of man, it was a relational change...it had no effect on humans as independent entities, the effect was in the relationship between God and humanity.

Correct me if I am wrong but you appear to discard the role that relationship had on our nature and will as well as on that of the mundane world. The restoration of that relationship is redemptive not merely on our will but upon our nature and upon the mundane world was well. Do you reject our likeness with God as a true and real potentiality of 'full communion' with the Divine Nature? Do you reject that this potentiality is more that merely relational?

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« Reply #43 on: December 22, 2006, 04:38:01 PM »

By 'the Nature' I ment human nature; to expand on that somewhat, that which is common to all mankind the source of a common will, or inclination, within each person.

So, I am supposing, that at the bare minimum you would object to what we in the West see as a fallen human nature, wounded by original sin?  Your position would be that man is the same before and after the fall, is that right?

But, and this is just a curiosity, in the context of how you view things what would you make of this statement from the CCC:

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Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

Yes, we say that our nature is fallen, but perhaps we have something different in mind with that you you?  I would suggest that we cannot, or do not, see human nature apart from the sanctifying grace of God.  For instance, consider the following, also from the CCC:

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By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

Notice that the sin affected the "human nature ... transmitted in a fallen state" which would seem to indicate that the state is changed, and not necessarily the very substance of man's nature.  Again, we are told that it is a "transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice and is a "state."  All of this would indicate to me, and I am only presuming to read what is meant and have no greater or deeper knowledge to claim on this, that the basic nature of man, as you might see it, is the same but our relationship to God is changed.  However, we cannot presume to see the nature of man apart from that relationship and sanctifying grace.  That grace goes to our nature and changes us.

The CCC says this about how we view grace:

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Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life...

Grace is a participation in the life of God...

Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love.

From this we can see, that at least in the West, we view this grace as that which "perfects the soul" and makes us "partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life."  For this reason I think we can say that by "fallen human nature" we may be saying much more, and perhaps less, than you may be thinking we do.   Above you said this:

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Communion, or a specific relationship with God...which is the point I've been trying to make all along, the change in humanity following the fall was not natural or thelemic in essence, it did not change the nature or the will of man, it was a relational change...it had no effect on humans as independent entities, the effect was in the relationship between God and humanity.

I find this very interesting as you make a statement that we in the West, at least I think we in the West, would be very hesitant to make.  That is "it had no effect on humans as independent entities..."   I don't think we could ever really try to imagine man as "independent entities" as we are wholly dependent on God.  That is what salvation, I would say, consists primarily of, a restoration of the life of grace in man which returns us to our original nature as God intended, i.e. restores our relationship with God.  This seems to confirm what I am thinking and that by human nature you are meaning one thing, and we are meaning another.  What would you make of all of this?

Patrick
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« Reply #44 on: December 22, 2006, 06:21:24 PM »

Good point. So would you define "divine intervention" as something like a specific act on a specific person for a specific reason?

Or even to a group of people, but God's sustaining of Creation and the corresponding Graces are not so much intervention as the nature of existance, as our Ontology. Certainly not something changed, one way or the other, by the fall.

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(EDIT--I realise that this might seem obvious, but to me it implies a rather passive role for God most of the time, like maybe the occasional miracle...?)

I would agree, is not that the testimony of our history and our lives? At least I don't see the dead rising and amputated limbs regrowing on a daily basis. Maybe others have had a substantially different experience interacting with the physical world than I...but for me at least, gravity always tends to pull the strongest towards the largest objects.

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I'm guessing that you are not speaking about a divine foreknowledge--"God foreknew what we'd need"--type of thing, but you are saying that we all had an actual prelapsarian existence? If so, how do you justify this view of Origen and a few others, when the rest of your Church seems to reject it?

I'm speaking about human nature as the nature we hold in common, a nature which certainly had a prelapsarian existence. I'm not quite going so far as to proclaim a physical pre-existance of souls (only a pre-existance in mind of God); though I am sympathetic to the doctrine and believe it holds some merit, though can certainly be taken too far, I am content to, at least for the time being, limit my beliefs to those which the Church has not officially condemned in the context of an Oecumencial Synod. (While Origen was, of course, a better philosopher and theologian, with a vastly better understanding of the Christian Faith, than anyone present at Constantinople II, I will proclaim with the Synod, as is demanded by custom and law, anathema to the former.)
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