But then, if Christ was entirely, completely human like us... then maybe Pelagius was right, after all?
You see, maybe I am missing something, but I am under the impression that St./Bl. Augustine won his famous debate with Pelagius EXCLUSIVELY because he (Augustine) insisted on the complete change of the mere human NATURE after the Fall. He claimed that the Pelagian statement "[posse] non peccare" is wrong because none of us, humans existing today, is "like Adam." The Fall, in Augustine's view, began a dramatic change in the mere nature of every single human being descending from Adam.
Now, Christ, BEING a descendant of "adam" in the biological sense, proved that it IS "[posse] non peccare," did He not?
Well, I think that's problematic, particularly when you get into the fact that many (not all) Orthodox hold to a pious opinion that the Theotokos (some would also include the Forerunner) were without personal sin, but only because they cooperated with God, in His gracious presence, perfectly. The Scriptures state that "we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." What are we to make of all this? Is it possible for any man, in and of himself, to be without personal sin? The Theotokos and the Forerunner, who sit at the right and left hand of Christ in His Kingdom (if I remember correctly...I think that's why they're positioned as they are in the iconostas), are obvious exceptions, and Christ is fully of the same substance with us in His humanity, yet He is also fully of the same substance with the Father in His divinity
-- so He can hardly be compared to mere, mortal men who are not the incarnate Logos
We are all bound up in death, and therefore all who fear death, sin. We are bound up in death because we're children of Adam. We still maintain the image of God in us, but it is marred, and this marred-God-image is called "in Adam's image and likeness" in Genesis after the Fall. Christ took on our death-bound flesh, yes, but because He was able to unite it to perfect Life (His divine nature), Christ's human nature remained "posse non peccare." He, the One from heaven, took the image of Adam and renewed it to the unmarred image of God, and it is the work we do throughout our lives that leads us to an ever-increasing "posse non peccare."
Yet, none of this work is ever divorced from the presence of the God-Man in us, for it is to Him that we are united. Just as Christ was no mere man, neither are we "mere men" when bound to Christ.
I'm not sure if I'm making much sense, but I'll end with this: It seems that neither Pelagius nor Augustine shared what (I understand) is the eastern stance on the Fall. Pelagius said, "Adam is created mortal and would have died even if he had never sinned." Augustine said, "Adam was created good and upright, he was happy and in communion with God…Adam would not have died if he had not sinned but...when he failed his depravity was communicated to his offspring throughout history so that the Old and New Testaments speak of man's depravity from Genesis to Revelation." Whereas Pelagius seems (rightly, in my opinion) to equate our loss of life as an organic connection with the true Life of God, St. Augustine seems to stop (as the western caricature often does -- someone more knowledgeable pick this up if I'm causing eyes to roll, please) at a legal, forensic problem, wherein the real problem is God's offended justice that has to be "worked out in court." Conversely, whereas Pelagius fails to understand the ramifications of a connection to Life itself (no death if not separated therefrom), Augustine testifies to our continuing in eternal life had we not fallen...though he does
then say that Adam, "created good and upright," fell from pristine heights of unfallen perfection, whereas the eastern view of the prelapsarian Adam was nowhere near as lofty.
So...all of us being common heirs of this fallenness, we see that Christ (along with, perhaps, His mother who bore Him and was not consumed, as she had been overshadowed by Grace -- the Holy Spirit) does not become the great rule for all fallen men but rather the saving exception through which, if we will unite ourselves thereto, we are cleansed from our marred image of Adam by the ever-present life of our Saviour (I Cor. 15:49
Forgive my rambling. If you like, you can read more on this HERE