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Author Topic: Semipelagianism, Original Sin and Ancestral Sin  (Read 21812 times) Average Rating: 0
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ialmisry
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« Reply #45 on: June 11, 2009, 12:17:06 AM »

Let's consult a modern Orthodox (different from any other Orthodox of any age only by living in our days), Bp. Hilarion:
BAPTISM
I don't see anything here that opposes the Catholic teaching on Original Sin.  You and certain other EO (though not all EO) always claim there is.  Please point it out.  Thanks.
No response?  Good.  I guess that means we can get rid of the notion that one can use this false dichotomy between the EO and Latin teaching on Original Sin as a basis for disunity.  Thank you.

Blessings

No, it just means I didn't have the time to parse out the gibberish.  Maybe later.
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« Reply #46 on: June 11, 2009, 01:02:55 AM »

The Corinthians verse is not to be literally interpreted, whereas the Matthew verse is.
How come the Corinthian's verse can't be interepreted literally?  To me, it demonstrates that Faith in Jesus is at the very least a movement of the Holy Spirit in us, and not something we can do without Him.  How do you interpret it?

Blessings
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« Reply #47 on: June 11, 2009, 01:47:09 AM »

The Corinthians verse is not to be literally interpreted, whereas the Matthew verse is.
How come the Corinthian's verse can't be interepreted literally?  To me, it demonstrates that Faith in Jesus is at the very least a movement of the Holy Spirit in us, and not something we can do without Him.  How do you interpret it?

Blessings

Quote
"...no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."

1 Corinthians 12:3

If the verse were literally true, then the verse would mean that anyone who says Jesus is Lord, actually means it (because the Holy Ghost inspired him to say it).

Of course, not everyone who says Jesus is Lord, really means it (as the Matthew verse indicates).
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« Reply #48 on: June 11, 2009, 02:21:47 AM »

No, it just means I didn't have the time to parse out the gibberish.  Maybe later.
Brother Alex, in the OP, pointed out that he started this thread because he wants info on how the Eastern Byzantine teaching on Original Sin can be used as an argument against the IC.  So far his personal understanding of the matter has only been demonstrated to contradict the teaching of the Ecumenical Councils.  So you should probably help him out, if only so we can settle this once and for all.
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« Reply #49 on: June 11, 2009, 02:29:41 AM »

The Corinthians verse is not to be literally interpreted, whereas the Matthew verse is.
How come the Corinthian's verse can't be interepreted literally?  To me, it demonstrates that Faith in Jesus is at the very least a movement of the Holy Spirit in us, and not something we can do without Him.  How do you interpret it?

Blessings

Quote
"...no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."

1 Corinthians 12:3

If the verse were literally true, then the verse would mean that anyone who says Jesus is Lord, actually means it (because the Holy Ghost inspired him to say it).
Read the context of I Cor 12:3.  It's talking about those who are given the Holy Spirit, not just "anyone."

Quote
Of course, not everyone who says Jesus is Lord, really means it (as the Matthew verse indicates).

Grace does not force us to do anything.  Even those with the Holy Spirit can resist His Grace at any time and not show any fruits despite their profession of Faith in Jesus as Lord.  Look at the context of the Matthean verse.  It's not just about "meaning it."  It's about the evidence of the Spirit in you.

In any case, let's assume your own interpretation of "meaning it."  Would you agree that those who say "Jesus is Lord" and MEANS IT, has been moved by the Holy Spirit to make that confession?

Or do you think that we can, by the power of our own will without the Grace of the Holy Spirit, have the ability to make such a statement and MEAN it?

Blessings
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« Reply #50 on: June 11, 2009, 03:03:45 AM »

Let me add yet another modern Orthodox theologian, St. John Damascene

http://www.orthodox.net/fathers/exactiv.html#BOOK_IV_CHAPTER_IX

Quote
Concerning Faith and Baptism.

We confess one baptism for the remission of sins and for life eternal. For baptism declares the Lord's death. We are indeed "buried with the Lord through baptism(Cool," as saith the divine Apostle. So then, as our Lord died once for all, we also must be baptized once for all, and baptized according to the Word of the Lord, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit(9), being taught the confession in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those(1), then, who, after having been baptized into Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and having been taught that there is one divine nature in three subsistences, are rebaptized, these, as the divine Apostle says, crucify the Christ afresh. For it is impossible, he saith, for those who were once enlightened, &c., to renew them again unto repentance: seeing they crucify to themselves the Christ afresh, and put Him to an open shame(2). But those who were not bap-

tized into the Holy Trinity, these must be baptized again. For although the divine ApoStle says: Into Christ and into His death were we baptized(3), he does not mean that the invocation of baptism must be in these words, but that baptism is an image of the death of Christ. For by the three immersions(4), baptism signifies the three days of our Lord's entombment(5). The baptism then into Christ means that believers are baptized into Him. We could not believe in Christ if we were not taught confession in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit(6). For Christ is the Son of the Living God(7), Whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit(Cool: in the words of the divine David, Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows(9). And Isaiah also speaking in the person of the Lord says, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He hath anointed me(1). Christ, however, taught His own disciples the invocation and said, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit(2). For since Christ made us for incorruption(3)(4), and we transgressed His saving command. He condemned us to the corruption of death in order that that which is evil should not be immortal, and when in His compassion He stooped to His servants and became like us, He redeemed us from corruption through His own passion. He caused the fountain of remission to well forth for us out of His holy and immaculate side(5), water for our regeneration, and the washing away of sin and corruption; and blood to drink as the hostage of life eternal. And He laid on us the command to be born again of water and of the Spirit(6), through prayer and invocation, the Holy Spirit drawing nigh unto the water(7). For since man's nature is twofold, consisting of soul and body, He bestowed on us a twofold purification, of water and of the Spirit the Spirit renewing that part in us which is after His image and likeness, and the water by the grace of the Spirit cleansing the body from sin and delivering it from corruption, the water indeed expressing the image of death, but the Spirit affording the earnest of life.

For from the beginning the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters(Cool, and anew the Scripture witnesseth that water has the power of purification(9). In the time of Noah God washed away the sin of the world by water(1). By water every impure person is purified(2), according to the law, even the very garments being washed with water. Elias shewed forth the grace of the Spirit mingled with the water when he burned the holocaust by pouring on water(3). And almost everything is purified by water according to the law: for the things of sight are symbols of the things of thought. The regeneration, however, takes place in the spirit: for faith has the power of making us sons (of God(4)), creatures as we are, by the Spirit, and of leading us into our original blessedness.

The remission of sins, therefore, is granted alike to all through baptism: but the grace of the Spirit is proportional to the faith and previous purification. Now, indeed, we receive the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit through baptism, and the second birth is for us the beginning and seal and security and illumination s of another life.

It behoves as, then, with all our strength to steadfastly keep ourselves pure from filthy works, that we may not, like the dog returning to his vomit(6), make ourselves again the slaves of sin. For faith apart from works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith(7). For the true faith is attested by works.

Now we are baptized(Cool into the Holy Trinity because those things which are baptized have need of the Holy Trinity for their maintenance and continuance, and the three subsistences cannot be otherwise than present, the one with the other. For the Holy Trinity is indivisible.

The first baptism(9) was that of the flood for the eradication of sin. The second(1) was through the sea and the cloud: for the cloud is the symbol of the Spirit and the sea of the water(2). The third baptism was that of the Law: for every impure person washed himself with water, and even washed his garments, and so entered into the camp(3). The fourth(4) was that of John(5), being preliminary and leading those who were baptized to repent-once, that they might believe in Christ: I,

certainly return unto thee at this time hereafter, and Sarah thy wife shall have a son(6) ; and afterwards the Lord said to Him, I will not conceal from Abraham My servant the things that I will do(7) ; and again, Moreover the Lord said, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is filled up, and their sins are exceeding great(Cool. Then after long discourse, which for the sake of brevity shall be omitted, Abraham, distressed at the destruction which awaited the innocent as well as the guilty, said, In no wise wilt Thou, Who judgest the earth, execute this judgment. And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes(9). Afterwards when the warning to Lot, Abraham's brother, was ended, the Scripture says, And the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire f rom the Lord out of heaven(1) ; and, after a while, And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and did unto Sarah as He had spoken, and Sarah conceived and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him(2). And afterwards, when the handmaid with her son had been driven from Abraham's house, and was dreading lest her child should die in the wilderness for want of water, the same Scripture says, And the Lord God heard the voice of the lad, where he was, and the Angel of God child to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What is it, Hagar? Fear not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad from the place where he is. Arise, and take the lad, and hold his hand, for I will make him a great nation(3).

26. What blind faithlessness it is, what dulness of an unbelieving heart, what headstrong impiety, to abide in ignorance of all this, or else to know and yet neglect it! Assuredly it is written for the very purpose that error or oblivion may not hinder the recognition of the truth. If, as we shall prove, it is impossible to escape knowledge of the facts, then it must be nothing less than blasphemy to deny them. This record begins with the speech of the Angel to Hagar, His promise to multiply Ishmael into a great nation and to give him a countless offspring. She listens, and by her confession reveals that He is Lord and God. The story begins with His appearance as the Angel of God; at its termination He stands confessed as God Himself. Thus He Who, while He executes the ministry of declaring the great counsel is God's Angel, is Himself in name and nature God. The name corresponds to the nature; the nature is not falsified to make it conform to the name. Again, God speaks to Abraham of this same matter; he is told that Ishmael has already received a blessing, and shall be increased into a nation; I have blessed him, God says. This is no change from the Person indicated before; He shews that it was He Who had already given the blessing. The Scripture has obviously been consistent throughout in its progress from mystery to clear revelation; it began with the Angel of God, and proceeds to reveal that it was God Himself Who had spoken in this same matter.

27. The course of the Divine narrative is accompanied by a progressive development of doctrine. In the passage which we have discussed God speaks to Abraham, and promises that Sarah shall bear a son. Afterwards three men stand by him; he worships One and acknowledges Him as Lord. After this worship and acknowledgment by Abraham, the One promises that He will return hereafter at the same season, and that then Sarah shall have her son. This One again is seen by Abraham in the guise of a man, and salutes him with the same promise. The change is one of name only; Abraham's acknowledgment in each ease is the same. It was a Man whom he saw, yet Abraham worshipped Him as Lord; he beheld, no doubt, in a mystery the coming Incarnation. Faith so strong has not missed its recognition; the Lord says in the Gospel, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad(4). To continue the history; the Man Whom he saw promised that He would return at the same season. Mark the fulfilment of the promise, remembering meanwhile that it was a Man Who made it. What says the Scripture? And the Lord visited Sarah. So this Man is the Lord, fulfilling His own promise. What follows next? And God did unto Sarah as He had said. The narrative calls His words those of a Man, relates that Sarah was visited by the Lord, proclaims that the result was the work of God. You are sure that it was a Man who spoke, for Abraham not only heard, but saw Him. Can you be less certain that He was God, when the same Scripture, which had called Him Man, confesses Him God? For its words are, And Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, and at the set time of which God had spoken to him. But it was the Man who had promised that He would come. Believe that He was nothing more than man; unless, in fact, He Who came was God and Lord. Connect the incidents. It was, confessedly, the Man who promised that He would come that Sarah might con-

and omnipotence and truth and wisdom and justice, he will find all things smooth and even, and the way straight. But without faith it is impossible to be saved(2). For it is by faith that all things, both human and spiritual, are sustained. For without faith neither does the farmer(3) cut his furrow, nor does the merchant commit his life to the raging waves of the sea on a small piece of wood, nor are marriages contracted nor any other step in life taken. By faith we consider that all things were brought out of nothing into being by God's power. And we direct all things, both divine and human, by faith. Further, faith is assent free from all meddlesome inquisitiveness(4).

Every action, therefore, and performance of miracles by Christ are most great and divine and marvellous: but the most marvellous of all is His precious Cross. For no other thing has subdued death, expiated the sin of the first parent(5), despoiled Hades, bestowed the resurrection, granted the power to us of contemning the present and even death itself, prepared the return to our former blessedness, opened the gates of Paradise(6), given our nature a seat at the right hand of God, and made us the children and heirs of God(7), save the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For by the Cross s all things have been made right. So many of us, the apostle says, as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into His death(9), and as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ(1). Further Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God(2). Lo! the death of Christ, that is, the Cross, clothed us with the enhypostatic wisdom and power of God. And the power of God is the Word of the Cross, either because God's might, that is, the victory over death, has been revealed to us by it, or because, just as the four extremities of the Cross are held fast and bound together by the bolt in the middle, so also by God's power the height and the depth, the length and the breadth, that is, every creature visible and invisible, is maintained(3).

This was given to us as a sign on our forehead, just as the circumcision was given to Israel: for by it we believers are separated and distinguished from unbelievers. This is the shield and weapon against, and trophy over, the devil. This is the seal that the destroyer may not touch you(4), as saith the Scripture. This is the resurrection of those lying in death, the support of the standing, the staff of the weak, the rod of the flock, the safe conduct of the earnest, the perfection of those that press forwards, the salvation of soul and body, the aversion of all things evil, the patron of all things good, the taking away of sin, the plant of resurrection, the tree of eternal life.

So, then, this same truly precious and august tree(5), on which Christ hath offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sakes, is to be worshipped as sanctified by contact with His holy body and blood; likewise the nails, the spear, the clothes, His sacred tabernacles which are the manger, the cave, Golgotha, which bringeth salvation(6), the tomb which giveth life, Sion, the chief stronghold of the churches and the like, are to be worshipped. In the words of David, the father of God(7), We shall go into His tabernacles, we shall worship at the place where His feet stood(Cool. And that it is the Cross that is meant is made clear by what follows, Arise, O Lord, into Thy Rest (9). For the resurrection comes after the Cross. For if of those things which we love, house and couch and garment, are to be longed after, how much the rather should we long after that which belonged to God, our Saviour(1), by means of which we are in truth saved.

Moreover we worship even the image of the precious and life-giving Cross, although made of another tree, not honouring the tree (God forbid) but the image as a symbol of Christ. For He said to His disciples, admonishing them, Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven(2), meaning the Cross. And so also the angel of the resurrection said to the woman, Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified(3). And the Apostle said, We preach Christ crucified(4). For there are many Christs and many Jesuses, but one crucified. He does not say speared but crucified. It behoves us, then, to worship the sign of Christ(5). For wherever the sign may be, there also will He be. But it does not behove us to worship the material of which the image of the Cross is composed, even though it be gold or precious stones, after it is destroyed, if that should happen. Everything, therefore, that is dedicated to God we worship, conferring the adoration on Him.

The tree of life which was planted by God in Paradise pre-figured this precious Cross.

For since death was by a tree, it was fitting that life and resurrection should be bestowed by a tree(6). Jacob, when He worshipped the top of Joseph's staff, was the first to image the Cross, and when he blessed his sons with crossed hands(7) he made most clearly the sign of the cross. Likewise(Cool also did Moses' rod, when it smote the sea in the figure of the cross and saved Israel, while it overwhelmed Pharaoh in the depths; likewise also the hands stretched out crosswise and routing Amalek; and the bitter water made sweet by a tree, and the rock rent and pouring forth streams of water(9), and the rod that meant for Aaron the dignity of the high priesthood(1): and the serpent lifted in triumph on a tree as though it were dead(2), the tree bringing salvation to those who in faith saw their enemy dead, just as Christ was nailed to the tree in the flesh of sin which yet knew no sin(3). The mighty Moses cried(4), You will see your life hanging on the tree before your eyes, and Isaiah likewise, I have spread out my hands all the day unto a faithless and rebellious people(5). But may we who worship this(6) obtain a part in Christ the crucified. Amen. 
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« Reply #51 on: June 11, 2009, 03:55:19 AM »

Let me add yet another modern Orthodox theologian, St. John Damascene

http://www.orthodox.net/fathers/exactiv.html#BOOK_IV_CHAPTER_IX

Quote
Concerning Faith and Baptism.
Thank you, brother.  As the Damascene clearly indicates, Original Sin is a real sin requiring expiation.  That is what the Catholic Church teaches - that Original Sin is a real sin (i.e., a real separation from God) that needs to be expiated (IOW, washed away at Baptism).  It is a stain on the soul just as any other sin (i.e., actual sin) that needs to be washed away at Baptism.  As I stated earlier, this seems to be merely a matter of difference in theological expression and terminological definitions, not a difference in FAITH between East and West/Orient.

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« Reply #52 on: June 11, 2009, 12:44:03 PM »

Please allow this Anglican to chime in....

Semi-Pelagianism is not what you think it is.  The essence of semi-Pelagianism is the idea that ABSOLUTELY NO DIVINE GRACE IS NEEDED for the initial movement of Faith.  The orthodox teaching is that Grace is necessary for any action. 
This has been my understanding of "semi-Pelagianism" as well.

Quote
Grace exists before, during and after the initial free will response of Faith.  Faith, at any stage, is always a free-will response to Grace.
I agree with both of these statements, and I think these two truths distinguish orthodox synergism from semi-Pelagianism. 

Quote
It seems you are confusing the Catholic teaching with the Calvinist teaching.  It is Calvinism that teaches total depravity, not Catholicism nor Augustine.  Calvinism (twisting the Augustinian teaching) asserts that the free will of a sinful man before baptism is not involved at all in the initial response of Faith.  Augustine and Catholicism, as well as Orthodoxy, teaches that though man's will is damaged by concupiscence, it IS indeed involved in the initial response to Faith.
I believe Luther but especially Calvin (and, even more so, Beza after him) took some of Augustine's later more monergistic teachings to their logical and extreme conclusions.

Quote
Though Augustine taught that humanity is indeed depraved by sin, and so depraved that he could not come out of his sinfulness without Grace, he at least taught that the human will can indeed be aided by Grace to respond to the initial Gift of Faith. Augustine taught explicitly in several places that Free Will is not destroyed by the necessity of Grace.  IN CONTRAST, the heretical teaching on Total Depravity insists that not even human will is involved in the initial Gift of Faith, but is TOTALLY dependant on the Grace of God.
I guess the one main problem with Augustine I have is that he seemed to posit a separate type of perservering grace that God allegedly gave to some of the regenerated (ie the elect) but not to others.  If I'm not mistaken this is one of the Augustinian concepts that Molina and his followers reacted against.
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« Reply #53 on: June 11, 2009, 01:15:37 PM »

In any case, let's assume your own interpretation of "meaning it."  Would you agree that those who say "Jesus is Lord" and MEANS IT, has been moved by the Holy Spirit to make that confession?

Yes, that's my point. Anyone can say Jesus is Lord. But those who actually mean it, are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #54 on: June 11, 2009, 10:45:01 PM »

The following quotation is from Fr. Meyendorff's book entitled:  "Byzantine Theology" pages 143-146.


Original Sin in the Byzantine Tradition

In order to understand many major theological problems, which arose between East and West both before and after the schism, the extraordinary impact upon Western thought of Augustine’s polemics against Pelagius and Julian of Eclanum must be fully taken into account. In the Byzantine world where Augustinian thought exercised practically no influence, the significance of the sin of Adam and of its consequences for mankind was understood along quite different lines.

We have seen that in the East man’s relationship with God was understood as a communion of the human person with that, which is above nature. "Nature" therefore designates that, which is, in virtue of creation, distinct from God. But nature can and must be transcended; this is the privilege and the function of the free mind made "according to God’s image."

Now, in Greek patristic thought, only this free, personal mind can commit sin and incur the concomitant "guilt" — a point made particularly clear by Maximos the Confessor in his distinction between "natural will" and "gnomic will." Human nature as God’s creature always exercises its dynamic properties (which together constitute the "natural will" — a created dynamism) in accordance with the divine will, which creates it. But when the human person, or hypostasis, by rebelling against both God and nature misuses its freedom, it can distort the "natural will" and thus corrupt nature itself. It is able to do so because it possesses freedom, or "gnomic will," which is capable of orienting man toward the good and of "imitating God" ("God alone is good by nature," writes Maximos, "and only God’s imitator is good by his gnome"); it is also capable of sin because "our salvation depends on our will." But sin is always a personal act and never an act of nature. Patriarch Photios even goes so far as to say, referring to Western doctrines, that the belief in a "sin of nature" is a heresy.

From these basic ideas about the personal character of sin, it is evident that the rebellion of Adam and Eve against God could be conceived only as their personal sin; there would be no place, then, in such an anthropology for the concept of inherited guilt, or for a "sin of nature," although it admits that human nature incurs the consequences of Adam’s sin.

The Greek patristic understanding of man never denies the unity of mankind or replaces it with a radical individualism. The Pauline doctrine of the two Adams ("As in Adam all men die, so also in Christ all are brought to life" [1 Co 15:22]) as well as the Platonic concept of the ideal man leads Gregory of Nyssa to understand Genesis 1:27 — "God created man in His own image" — to refer to the creation of mankind as a whole. It is obvious therefore that the sin of Adam must also be related to all men, just as salvation brought by Christ is salvation for all mankind; but neither original sin nor salvation can be realized in an individual’s life without involving his personal and free responsibility.

The scriptural text, which played a decisive role in the polemics between Augustine and the Pelagians, is found in Romans 5:12 where Paul speaking of Adam writes, "As sin came into the world through one man and through sin, death, so death spread to all men because all men have sinned [eph ho pantes hemarton]." In this passage there is a major issue of translation. The last four Greek words were translated in Latin as in quo omnes peccaverunt ("in whom [i.e., in Adam] all men have sinned"), and this translation was used in the West to justify the doctrine of guilt inherited from Adam and spread to his descendants. But such a meaning cannot be drawn from the original Greek — the text read, of course, by the Byzantines. The form eph ho — a contraction of epi with the relative pronoun ho — can be translated as "because," a meaning accepted by most modern scholars of all confessional backgrounds. Such a translation renders Paul’s thought to mean that death, which is "the wages of sin" (Romans 6:23) for Adam, is also the punishment applied to those who like him sin. It presupposed a cosmic significance of the sin of Adam, but did not say that his descendants are "guilty" as he was unless they also sinned as he did.

A number of Byzantine authors, including Photios, understood the eph ho to mean "because" and saw nothing in the Pauline text beyond a moral similarity between Adam and other sinners in death being the normal retribution for sin. But there is also the consensus of the majority of Eastern Fathers, who interpret Romans 5:12 in close connection with 1 Corinthians 15:22 — between Adam and his descendants there is a solidarity in death just as there is a solidarity in life between the risen Lord and the baptized. This interpretation comes, obviously, from the literal, grammatical meaning of Romans 5:12. Eph ho, if it means "because," is a neuter pronoun; but it can also be masculine referring to the immediately preceding substantive thanatos ("death"). The sentence then may have a meaning, which seems improbable to a reader trained in Augustine, but which is indeed the meaning which most Greek Fathers accepted: "As sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, so death spread to all men; and because of death, all men have sinned..."

Mortality, or "corruption," or simply death (understood in a personalized sense), has indeed been viewed since Christian antiquity as a cosmic disease, which holds humanity under its sway, both spiritually and physically, and is controlled by the one who is "the murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). It is this death, which makes sin inevitable and in this sense "corrupts" nature.

For Cyril of Alexandria, humanity after the sin of Adam "fell sick of corruption." Cyril’s opponents, the theologians of the School of Antioch, agreed with him on the consequence of Adam’s sin. For Theodore of Mopsuestia, "by becoming mortal, we acquired greater urge to sin." The necessity of satisfying the needs of the body — food, drink, and other bodily needs — are absent in immortal beings; but among mortals, they lead to "passions," for they present unavoidable means of temporary survival. Theodoret of Cyrus repeats almost literally the arguments of Theodore in his own commentary on Romans; elsewhere, he argues against the sinfulness of marriage by affirming that transmission of mortal life is not sinful in itself, in spite of Psalm 51:7 ("my mother conceived me in sin"). This verse, according to Theodoret, refers not to the sexual act but to the general sinful condition of mortal humanity: "Having become mortal, [Adam and Eve] conceived mortal children, and mortal beings are a necessarily subject to passions and fears, to pleasures and sorrows, to anger and hatred."

There is indeed a consensus in Greek patristic and Byzantine traditions in identifying the inheritance of the Fall as an inheritance essentially of mortality rather than of sinfulness, sinfulness being merely a consequence of mortality. The idea appears in Chrysostom, who specifically denies the imputation of sin to the descendants of Adam; in the eleventh-century commentator Theophylact of Ohrida; and in later Byzantine authors, particularly in Gregory Palamas. The always-more-sophisticated Maximos the Confessor, when he speaks of the consequences of the sin of Adam, identifies them mainly with the mind’s submission to the flesh and finds in sexual procreation the most obvious expression of man’s acquiescence in animal instincts; but as we have seen, sin remains, for Maximos, a personal act, and inherited guilt is impossible. For him, as for the others, "the wrong choice made by Adam brought in passion, corruption, and mortality," but not inherited guilt.

The contrast with Western tradition on this point is brought into sharp focus when Eastern authors discuss the meaning of baptism. Augustine’s arguments in favor of infant baptism were taken from the text of the creeds (baptism for "the remission of sins") and from his understanding of Romans 5:12. Children are born sinful, not because they have sinned personally, but because they have sinned "in Adam"; their baptism is therefore also a baptism "for the remission of sins." At the same time, an Eastern contemporary of Augustine’s, Theodoret of Cyrus, flatly denies that the creedal formula "for the remission of sins" is applicable to infant baptism. For Theodoret, in fact, the "remission of sins" is only a side effect of baptism, fully real in cases of adult baptism, which is the norm, of course, in the early Church and which indeed "remits sins." But the principal meaning of baptism is wider and more positive: "If the only meaning of baptism is the remission of sins," writes Theodoret, "why would we baptize the newborn children who have not yet tasted of sin? But the mystery [of baptism] is not limited to this; it is a promise of greater and more perfect gifts. In it, there are the promises of future delights; it is a type of the future resurrection, a communion with the master’s passion, a participation in His resurrection, a mantle of salvation, a tunic of gladness, a garment of light, or rather it is light itself."

Thus, the Church baptizes children not to "remit" their yet nonexistent sins, but in order to give them a new and immortal life, which their mortal parents are unable to communicate to them. The opposition between the two Adams is seen in terms not of guilt and forgiveness but of death and life. "The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven; as was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven" (1 Corinthians 15:47-48). Baptism is the paschal mystery, the "passage." All its ancient forms, especially the Byzantine, include a renunciation of Satan, a triple immersion as type of death and resurrection, and the positive gift of new life through anointing and Eucharistic communion.

In this perspective, death and mortality are viewed, not so much as retribution for sin (although they are also a just retribution for personal sins) but as means through which the fundamentally unjust "tyranny" of the devil is exercised over mankind after Adam’s sin. From this, baptism is liberation, because it gives access to the new immortal life brought into the world by Christ’s Resurrection. The Resurrection delivers men from the fear of death and, therefore, also from the necessity of struggling for existence. Only in the light of the risen Lord does the Sermon on the Mount acquire its full realism: "Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25).

Communion in the risen body of Christ, participation in divine life, sanctification through the energy of God, which penetrates true humanity and restores it to its "natural" state rather than justification, or remission of inherited guilt, — these are at the center of Byzantine understanding of the Christian Gospel.
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« Reply #55 on: June 11, 2009, 10:48:36 PM »

Here is what St. John Chrysostom said about the baptism of infants:

"Blessed be God, who alone does wonderful things! You have seen how numerous are the gifts of baptism. Although many men think that the only gift it confers is the remission of sins, we have counted its honors to the number of ten. It is on this account that we baptize even infants, although they are sinless, that they may be given the further gifts of sanctification, justice, filial adoption, and inheritance, that they may be brothers and members of Christ, and become dwelling places for the Spirit" [St. John Chrysostom, Third Baptismal Instruction, no. 6].
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« Reply #56 on: June 11, 2009, 10:58:20 PM »

Here is what St. John Chrysostom said about the baptism of infants:

"Blessed be God, who alone does wonderful things! You have seen how numerous are the gifts of baptism. Although many men think that the only gift it confers is the remission of sins, we have counted its honors to the number of ten. It is on this account that we baptize even infants, although they are sinless, that they may be given the further gifts of sanctification, justice, filial adoption, and inheritance, that they may be brothers and members of Christ, and become dwelling places for the Spirit" [St. John Chrysostom, Third Baptismal Instruction, no. 6].

Thanks, and more importantly, nice to see you again Apotheum.
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« Reply #57 on: June 11, 2009, 11:01:00 PM »

The following quotation is from Fr. Meyendorff's book entitled:  "Byzantine Theology" pages 143-146.

Original Sin in the Byzantine Tradition
In order to understand many major theological problems....

So, in the Byzantine Tradition, baptism does not do anything to "Adam's sin/Original Sin/Ancestral Sin" because Adam is dead and buried and his sin is his own. What baptism does is introduce Life to we who suffer from death.

Correct?
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« Reply #58 on: June 11, 2009, 11:11:58 PM »

Compare with CCC 404:

Quote
404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man". By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. 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.

Of course, the CCC rejects that humanity inherits the guilt or personal fault of this transmitted original sin (that is, original sin is contracted by us, not committed by us), but still this original sin of Adam/Eve is somehow transmitted to humanity.

This is different from the Eastern-Byzantine view, which seems to say that what is transmitted is the tendency to death, which then produces the tendency to sin.
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« Reply #59 on: June 12, 2009, 02:10:56 AM »

The following quotation is from Fr. Meyendorff's book entitled:  "Byzantine Theology" pages 143-146.

Original Sin in the Byzantine Tradition
In order to understand many major theological problems....

So, in the Byzantine Tradition, baptism does not do anything to "Adam's sin/Original Sin/Ancestral Sin" because Adam is dead and buried and his sin is his own. What baptism does is introduce Life to we who suffer from death.

Correct?
Correct.  Sin is by definition personal, and so no one can inherit another's sins.

As far as Adam and Eve are concerned, the icon of the resurrection depicts their salvation, for Christ is shown pulling them up out of the grave into life everlasting.
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« Reply #60 on: June 12, 2009, 02:13:39 AM »

Compare with CCC 404:

Quote
404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man". By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. 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.

Of course, the CCC rejects that humanity inherits the guilt or personal fault of this transmitted original sin (that is, original sin is contracted by us, not committed by us), but still this original sin of Adam/Eve is somehow transmitted to humanity.

This is different from the Eastern-Byzantine view, which seems to say that what is transmitted is the tendency to death, which then produces the tendency to sin.

Sin is not natural, nor can it be a "state of being," and so there can be no such thing as a "sin contracted" but not committed.  Sin is always a personal action.  That said, the teaching of the West seems to be in flux, as it no longer asserts that the descendants of Adam are born "guilty," and this change is a good thing.
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« Reply #61 on: June 12, 2009, 04:45:54 AM »

Dear brother Apotheoun,

Wow, am I glad to see your handle hear.  From my past discussions with you, I know you are one able to stay on topic, so I'm certain your contribution here will be fruitful.

Here is what St. John Chrysostom said about the baptism of infants:

"Blessed be God, who alone does wonderful things! You have seen how numerous are the gifts of baptism. Although many men think that the only gift it confers is the remission of sins, we have counted its honors to the number of ten. It is on this account that we baptize even infants, although they are sinless, that they may be given the further gifts of sanctification, justice, filial adoption, and inheritance, that they may be brothers and members of Christ, and become dwelling places for the Spirit" [St. John Chrysostom, Third Baptismal Instruction, no. 6].
I don't see how you think this quote from St. John Chrysostom distinguishes the Latin and Oriental understanding from the Eastern/Byzantine understanding.  It is obvious that by "sinless," he means ACTUAL sin, but does that mean he is denying Original Sin as understood by the Latins and Orientals?  Look again at his statement.  He states that children (who don't COMMIT sin), require, through baptism, the gift of JUSTICE.  This is the missing piece in the modern EO understanding of Original Sin that the Latins and Orientals have faithfully maintained (though I am certain not all EO have this modern understanding, but rather that there are many who still adhere to the Traditional and historic EO understanding on Original Sin, such as - among those here - brother Dan).

Look what else he writes:
"It is the saying that through the offence of one many were made sinners. For the fact that when he had sinned and become mortal, those who were of him should be so also, is nothing unlikely.  But how would it follow that from his disobedience another would become a sinner? For at this rate a man of this sort sort will not even deserve punishment, if, that is, it was not from his own self that he became a sinner. What then does the word "sinners" mean? To me it seems to mean liable to punishment and condemned to death...And for this reason after showing that the punishment too was brought in by one upon all..." Commentary on Romans, X, ver.19.

This contradicts your own definition of sin, which you gave in another post, that it is not "a state of being."  As mentioned, St. John Chrysostom taught that even infants, though they don't commit actual sin, need the Grace of Original Justice in the eyes of God, which they obtain at Baptism.

Blessings,
Marduk

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« Reply #62 on: June 12, 2009, 05:02:00 AM »

Correct.  Sin is by definition personal, and so no one can inherit another's sins.
Sin is by definition personal (agreed).  But that is not the only, much less the important, part of the definition of sin (in fact, something can be personal, yet be inherited).  The Catholic Church defines sin as the state which lacks holiness and justice - or, more simply, spiritual death/separation from God.  It is, as St. John Chrysostom stated, a state of liability to punishment in God's eyes (which is why even infants require the Grace of Justice - which they acquire at Baptism).  This is why the CC and the OO baptize children, even though they commit no sin.  This is why we (Catholics and Orientals) preach and teach that Baptism remits not only actual sin, but also Original Sin.  Recall brother OrthodoxLurker's quotation of the Damascene, who taught that Original sin is EXPIATED.   And I am certain that there are many more Fathers (in fact, a unanimous Tradition) that can be called on to testify to the common heritage of Catholics and Oriental Orthodox on this matter (to which I am certain even many EO will agree is a part of their own heritage).

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #63 on: June 12, 2009, 05:13:39 AM »

Sin is not natural, nor can it be a "state of being," and so there can be no such thing as a "sin contracted" but not committed.  Sin is always a personal action.  That said, the teaching of the West seems to be in flux, as it no longer asserts that the descendants of Adam are born "guilty," and this change is a good thing.
Sin is not natural to us.  Agreed.  That is why it is called a blemish or stain or filth or a darkness on our divine image (these last two are St. Athanasius' descriptions).  But, no.  The teaching of the Latins is not in flux.  It may not use the word "guilt" explicitly anymore, but the meaning of it has been retained - a moral obligation that satisfies divine Justice.  It is what they have always taught and is consistent with the unanimous teaching of the Fathers on the matter, and of the Eastern Church herself, at least as far as St. Gregory Palamas (and beyond, perhaps). 

Blessings,
Marduk 
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« Reply #64 on: June 12, 2009, 02:26:35 PM »

Dear Apotheoun,
I thank you for quoting that text. I found it interesting and enlightening...

Dear Marduk,
Can I ask you some clarification for this?
Quote
It may not use the word "guilt" explicitly anymore, but the meaning of it has been retained - a moral obligation that satisfies divine Justice.  It is what they have always taught and is consistent with the unanimous teaching of the Fathers on the matter, and of the Eastern Church herself, at least as far as St. Gregory Palamas (and beyond, perhaps). 
Can you find for me some citations on the use of "guilt" according to your definition by the Church Fathers and, especially, its adoption to describe the condition of all humans, including infants? Sincerely, if you find inequivocable citations from BOTH Western and Eastern Fathers on the subject (at least a few, otherwise no "consent of the Fathers" can be taken in consideration) then I'll reconsider my position. Up to now, I can find no reason to change my mind... but at least the differences from the EO and the RC positions is emerging.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #65 on: June 12, 2009, 03:28:40 PM »

Dear Marduk,
Can I ask you some clarification for this?
Quote
It may not use the word "guilt" explicitly anymore, but the meaning of it has been retained - a moral obligation that satisfies divine Justice.  It is what they have always taught and is consistent with the unanimous teaching of the Fathers on the matter, and of the Eastern Church herself, at least as far as St. Gregory Palamas (and beyond, perhaps). 
Can you find for me some citations on the use of "guilt" according to your definition by the Church Fathers and, especially, its adoption to describe the condition of all humans, including infants? Sincerely, if you find inequivocable citations from BOTH Western and Eastern Fathers on the subject (at least a few, otherwise no "consent of the Fathers" can be taken in consideration) then I'll reconsider my position. Up to now, I can find no reason to change my mind... but at least the differences from the EO and the RC positions is emerging.
Will do, brother.  Can you wait 2 or 3 days?  I will be terribly busy with some real world obligations.  Rest assured, if you do change your mind, you will simply be adhering to the historic and Traditional position of the early Church (and I understand that even that claim by me is contingent upon my giving  you those quotes).

For now, will you at least agree that St. John Chrysostom, as explained above, is one early Church Father who taught that Original Sin comes with a moral obligation in view of Divine Justice (in his words, "liability to condemnation")?

And will you also agree that the Damascene held the same view given his statement that Original Sin is EXPIATED?  BTW, the Webster's unabridged English Dictionary defines "expiate" as: "to atone for; to make amends or reparation for guilt."

I will give you several more in a few days.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #66 on: June 12, 2009, 03:33:49 PM »

Up to now, I can find no reason to change my mind... but at least the differences from the EO and the RC positions is emerging.

I think you have yet to demonstrate that your interpretation is the traditional EO position.
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« Reply #67 on: June 12, 2009, 04:44:05 PM »

Quote
Will do, brother.  Can you wait 2 or 3 days?  I will be terribly busy with some real world obligations.  Rest assured, if you do change your mind, you will simply be adhering to the historic and Traditional position of the early Church (and I understand that even that claim by me is contingent upon my giving you those quotes).
For now, will you at least agree that St. John Chrysostom, as explained above, is one early Church Father who taught that Original Sin comes with a moral obligation in view of Divine Justice (in his words, "liability to condemnation")?
And will you also agree that the Damascene held the same view given his statement that Original Sin is EXPIATED?  BTW, the Webster's unabridged English Dictionary defines "expiate" as: "to atone for; to make amends or reparation for guilt."
I'll be waiting for ya. Anyway, since I'm Italian, I looked in my dictionary and found the word liability. It defines it with two different translations, i.e. "peso" (burden) and "responsabilità" (responsibility). I don't know what the Greek original uses for "liability", and I'm no Greek expert, so I can't state with certainty. I hope any Greek-learned member might help distinguish.
Quote
This contradicts your own definition of sin, which you gave in another post, that it is not "a state of being."  As mentioned, St. John Chrysostom taught that even infants, though they don't commit actual sin, need the Grace of Original Justice in the eyes of God, which they obtain at Baptism.
Don't see any contradiction there. Grace might be present in new-born children until they sin. Just a supposition, since you supported prevenient grace. If God offers grace to ALL, why shouldn't he offer it to infants too, no matter that they had the responsibility for sin or not? I repeat, Jesus said we should be like children to enter the Kingdom of God... that means children are 'pure' enough to accept grace and be saved (of course, until they haven't sinned).
On st. John Damascene's words, I think he might mean that Adam and Eve's sin has been expiated - and thus also our sins that we acquire when we sin. I ask you to bring a testimony at least from three differents schools: the Latin school (no Augustine, please), the Antiochian school and the Alexandrian school. Since they can be opposed on some subjects, if an agreement is reached on the Roman position by "all" three schools, then we might say you are right.

Quote
I think you have yet to demonstrate that your interpretation is the traditional EO position.
Have I ever said that Orthodoxy is Semipelagian *with certainty*? I just said that I'm inquiring in the OP. I want to know what Orthodoxy and Catholicism teach on the subject. I'm 25 and have no theological preparation except the 5 years of personal studies that brought me to Orthodoxy. I opened this topic precisely to better know your opinions on the subject. Anyway, whatever the result of this thread: I might change my mind (since I *can* believe in RC Original Sin even in Orthodoxy) but not my church, so don't expect a conversion back to Rome (where I would not be allowed freedom of opinion on the matter).

In Christ,    Alex
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« Reply #68 on: June 13, 2009, 02:06:00 AM »

Hi brother Alex,

Haven't done MUCH research yet, but let me respond to your latest post anyway.

Quote
For now, will you at least agree that St. John Chrysostom, as explained above, is one early Church Father who taught that Original Sin comes with a moral obligation in view of Divine Justice (in his words, "liability to condemnation")?
Anyway, since I'm Italian, I looked in my dictionary and found the word liability. It defines it with two different translations, i.e. "peso" (burden) and "responsabilità" (responsibility). I don't know what the Greek original uses for "liability", and I'm no Greek expert, so I can't state with certainty. I hope any Greek-learned member might help distinguish.
I would think his explicit teaching that God gives the Grace of Justice even to new-born infants would settle it.  See below for a further comment on the matter.

Quote
On st. John Damascene's words, I think he might mean that Adam and Eve's sin has been expiated - and thus also our sins that we acquire when we sin.

Yes, that would be a legitimate interpretation - if taken in isolation from the rest of his writings. Unfortunately, brother Orthodoxlurker did not give a very complete quotation of the Damascene.  You might have noticed a break in the quotation he gave.  Here is an utterly important section of that missing part:
"Further, observe that by baptism we cut off all the covering which we have worn since birth, that is, to say ,sin, and become spiritual Israelites and God's people."
I don't know what more you need.  the Damascene specifically teaches that SINCE BIRTH, we are covered IN SIN, that must be expiated by baptism.

Quote
Quote
This contradicts your own definition of sin, which you gave in another post, that it is not "a state of being."  As mentioned, St. John Chrysostom taught that even infants, though they don't commit actual sin, need the Grace of Original Justice in the eyes of God, which they obtain at Baptism.
Don't see any contradiction there. Grace might be present in new-born children until they sin. Just a supposition, since you supported prevenient grace. If God offers grace to ALL, why shouldn't he offer it to infants too, no matter that they had the responsibility for sin or not? I repeat, Jesus said we should be like children to enter the Kingdom of God... that means children are 'pure' enough to accept grace and be saved (of course, until they haven't sinned).
That's altogether strange to me - I mean that God gives a person a certain Grace that just sits around until it is needed. Huh  Huh  Why would God give something to a new-born child he/she does not need?  Can you show me a single place from Scripture or Tradition (modern EO sources don't count) that supports your idea?  You say, they don't need it even though they have it.  The problem is that one gets this Grace of Justice at the Sacrament of Confession once they grow up enough to have ACTUAL sin.  We get a Grace because we NEED IT.  It's not something that sits around as some kind of useless ornament.  For God to give it to a child through Baptism means the child needed it.  It was something LACKING in the child.

Quote
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I think you have yet to demonstrate that your interpretation is the traditional EO position.
Anyway, whatever the result of this thread: I might change my mind (since I *can* believe in RC Original Sin even in Orthodoxy) but not my church, so don't expect a conversion back to Rome (where I would not be allowed freedom of opinion on the matter).
I am not sure if your own opinion here can be counted as "Orthodox."  Just because some EO writers have promoted it in the past 100 years does not mean it is actually "Orthodox," if by Orthodox one means being faithful to the Tradition of the Fathers.  I mean, you obviously find it important for yourself, and I respect that.  But I admit I don't understand in the least the use of "freedom of opinion" as a criterion for choosing which Church to belong to.  Personally, I consider solid Truth, not "freedom of opinion," as the standard by which to "test" a Church.  But that is my own personal belief, and it is one of the reasons I am Catholic.

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I ask you to bring a testimony at least from three differents schools: the Latin school (no Augustine, please), the Antiochian school and the Alexandrian school. Since they can be opposed on some subjects, if an agreement is reached on the Roman position by "all" three schools, then we might say you are right.
Thanks for the guidelines.  TBH, I am not exactly sure what you consider can be counted as "Antioch."  Would you consider the Damscene and Chrysostom above to be sufficient representatives of the Antiochene School?

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #69 on: June 13, 2009, 02:15:59 AM »

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I think you have yet to demonstrate that your interpretation is the traditional EO position.
Have I ever said that Orthodoxy is Semipelagian *with certainty*? I just said that I'm inquiring in the OP. I want to know what Orthodoxy and Catholicism teach on the subject. I'm 25 and have no theological preparation except the 5 years of personal studies that brought me to Orthodoxy. I opened this topic precisely to better know your opinions on the subject. Anyway, whatever the result of this thread: I might change my mind (since I *can* believe in RC Original Sin even in Orthodoxy) but not my church, so don't expect a conversion back to Rome (where I would not be allowed freedom of opinion on the matter).
I have come upon some EO who claim that the EOC is "semi-pelagian."  I don't know what those people are thinking.  I have noticed, however, that people who make that claim are the same ones who like to widen the gap between Catholicism and EO'xy as much as possible.  In their eyes, since Semi-Pelagianism was condemned by the Latins, then that means it must be OK to claim that descriptive for EO'xy.  In their unthinking anti-Catholicism, these people completely neglect the fact that the feature that caused Semi-Pelagianism to be condemned by the Catholic Church is one of the very features for which the patristic and historic Catholic and Orthodox Church condemned Pelagianism.

As a brother exhortation, I would ask you to read more of the Fathers, and less of the interpretative efforts of modern theologians (Catholic or Orthodox).  Go back to the sources.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #70 on: June 13, 2009, 02:27:58 AM »

I have come upon some EO who claim that the EOC is "semi-pelagian."  I don't know what those people are thinking.  I have noticed, however, that people who make that claim are the same ones who like to widen the gap between Catholicism and EO'xy as much as possible.  In their eyes, since Semi-Pelagianism was condemned by the Latins, then that means it must be OK to claim that descriptive for EO'xy.  In their unthinking anti-Catholicism, these people completely neglect the fact that the feature that caused Semi-Pelagianism to be condemned by the Catholic Church is one of the very features for which the patristic and historic Catholic and Orthodox Church condemned Pelagianism.

As a brother exhortation, I would ask you to read more of the Fathers, and less of the interpretative efforts of modern theologians (Catholic or Orthodox).  Go back to the sources.

I would suggest the same, that the Orthodox look at the Fathers.   In this case we find a Western Father St. John Cassian who expressed a position whiich is sometimes called, derogatively, semi-Pelagianism but which is in line with Eastern understanding.


See St. John Cassian on Grace and Free Will: his famous Conference XIII.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf211.toc.html

St. John Cassian was a contemporary of St. Augustine in Gaul. Though living in the West he was in heart and mind a Father of the East. He was the first to respectfully object to certain of Saint Augustine's theological imprecisions concerning grace and free will.   He was supported in his anti-Augustine stance by the monasteries of southern France.

Conference XIII is a superb statement of the Orthodox doctrine of synergy (wrongly dubbed "semi-Pelagianism" by modern Western writers): God working with man to effect his salvation.

One should also read two "books" in St. John's treatise Against the Nestorians which deal with the heresy of Pelagianism: Book I and Book V (at the above URL.)
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« Reply #71 on: June 13, 2009, 03:09:05 AM »

I have come upon some EO who claim that the EOC is "semi-pelagian."  I don't know what those people are thinking.  I have noticed, however, that people who make that claim are the same ones who like to widen the gap between Catholicism and EO'xy as much as possible.  In their eyes, since Semi-Pelagianism was condemned by the Latins, then that means it must be OK to claim that descriptive for EO'xy.  In their unthinking anti-Catholicism, these people completely neglect the fact that the feature that caused Semi-Pelagianism to be condemned by the Catholic Church is one of the very features for which the patristic and historic Catholic and Orthodox Church condemned Pelagianism.

As a brother exhortation, I would ask you to read more of the Fathers, and less of the interpretative efforts of modern theologians (Catholic or Orthodox).  Go back to the sources.

I would suggest the same, that the Orthodox look at the Fathers.   In this case we find a Western Father St. John Cassian who expressed a position whiich is sometimes called, derogatively, semi-Pelagianism but which is in line with Eastern understanding.


See St. John Cassian on Grace and Free Will: his famous Conference XIII.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf211.toc.html

St. John Cassian was a contemporary of St. Augustine in Gaul. Though living in the West he was in heart and mind a Father of the East. He was the first to respectfully object to certain of Saint Augustine's theological imprecisions concerning grace and free will.   He was supported in his anti-Augustine stance by the monasteries of southern France.
Can you please point out exactly what about St. John Cassian's teaching is anti-Augustine?  The only difference I find is that St. Augustine stated that Grace is NECESSARY for the initial Gift of Faith AT ALL TIMES, whereas St. Cassian stated that Grace is only SOMETIMES necessary for the initial Gift of Faith.

You'll notice that the heresy is called Semi-Pelagianism, not "Cassianism."  The Catholic Church only condemns that part of St. Cassian's writing (that man does not need Grace to move him in the initial act of justification) that an Ecumenical Council had ALREADY condemned in Pelagius.

Quote from:
Conference XIII is a superb statement of the Orthodox doctrine of synergy (wrongly dubbed "semi-Pelagianism" by modern Western writers): God working with man to effect his salvation.
Yes, I agree it is wrongly dubbed.  Now, my question is, does the idea of synergy claim that man can come to the initial act of justification ON HIS OWN?  If so, then that is a heresy as defined by the Ecumenical Councils, and by Scripture (since man can do NOTHING without God, as our Lord Himself explicitly taught - reflected in the Council's dogmatic decree on the matter).  From my understanding of synergy, man and God are ALWAYS working together (which is also the Latin and Oriental teaching), not that there is one instance where man might be working alone for his salvation.

There is indeed much in St. John Cassian's writings that are worthy, perhaps 99% of it.  But in that ONE area, can you, claiming to be faithful the Ecumenical Councils, agree with St. John Cassian that one can come to the initial act of justificiation ON ONE'S OWN WITHOUT THE GRACE OF GOD?
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« Reply #72 on: June 13, 2009, 03:50:30 AM »

I would just like to stress two things on this issue of St. John Cassian.

First, I want to stress the fact that St. Cassian INDEED ADMITS St. Augustine's teaching that Grace is necessary for the initial act of justificiation.  In that, he is completely in line with the Catholic Church and with the Ecumenical Councils.

Second, the only problem is that St. Cassian claims that this is not the case ALL THE TIME.  He claims there are CERTAIN people who do not need this initial act of justification, but can come to justificiation ON THEIR OWN, and uses Zacchaeus and the Good Thief on the Cross as examples.  I believe St. Cassian was in error to think that God was not at work in these examples to move them to their acts that led Jesus to proclaim their salvation.  Grace never cancels Free Will, as St. Augustine taught in several places in his works.

On the second point, it cannot be claimed that St. John Cassian was in line with the Ecumenical Councils or the Catholic Church (and I am awating anyone's response on whether St. Cassian's view properly reflects "synergy").  I suspect that there was a misunderstanding between the monks in Gaul and St. Augustine.  St. Augustine wrote a response to the monks where he explicitly asserts that Free Will is not obliterated by the necessity of Divine Grace, so obviously, the whole issue was the Free Will.  I don't know why that explanation was not sufficient for the monks and St. John Cassian.  Maybe they were simply put off by the language of St. Augustine on the depravity of man.  I guess "depravity" was too strong a word for them? Huh

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« Reply #73 on: June 13, 2009, 04:01:09 AM »


There is indeed much in St. John Cassian's writings that are worthy, perhaps 99% of it. 

And in Saint Augustine's writings on these matters, a far lesser percentage is worthy.  Indeed much is heretical and was rejected by the Church in the West.

However, I do not really want to start engaging you, and I have not yet read through this thread.  I simply wanted to point out to Orthodox readers that the position which the West calls "semi-Pelagianism" is the position of the Orthodox Church.  It is the doctrine of synergy.



Saint John Cassian, Saint Hilary of Arles and Saint Vincent of Lerins joined in the rebuttal of Saint Augustine.  These Saints found quite a number of issues in Auguistine's teachings which neded refutation ~

~ his doctrine of sin and grace

~ his assertion that the will is in total bondage

~ his teaching on the irresistibility of grace

~ predestinarian thought - the creme de la creme of the horrors of Augustine's thought.

These Saints did agree with Saint Augustine partially, concerning the seriousness of sin.  But in their minds the doctrine of predestination was new and alien to the Faith of the Church.  It conflicts with the Tradition and it is deeply dangerous because it renders all human efforts ineffectual.

In opposition to Saint Augustine, Cassian and the Western monks taught that while a sickness is transmitted by Adam's sin, human free will still exists and it has not been entirely obliterated. Divine grace is indeed indispensable for salvation, but it does not of necessity need to precede a free human choice, because, despite the weakness of the human will, the will can and does take the initiative toward God. In other words, Cassian is saying (as do the Orthodox today) that divine grace and human free will must work together for salvation ~ synergy.   In opposition to the stark and cruel predestinarianism of the Bishop of Hippo, Cassian upheld the doctrine of God's universal and all-encompassing will to save all humankind and not just an arbitrairily chosen portion of it.   


In the case of predestination to salvation or damnation/reprobation Saint Augustine was unfortunately just as fierce and just as heretical as John Calvin 1000 years kater.  Calvin was simply re-presenting the Augustinian teaching which the Church of the West had wisely laid to one side and ignored.

See this EWTN article
by Fr William Most.

ST. AUGUSTINE ON GRACE AND PREDESTINATION Fr. William Most
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 http://www.ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/AUGUSTIN.HTM

The article deals with Augustine's teaching of the "Massa damnata et damnabilis." 

We remember that when Saint Photios of Constantinople began to read Augustine in Greek translation he found these and other ideas so heretical that he assumed, very charitably, that Augustine cannot have been responsible for them.  He thought that heretics in later centuries had corrupted Saint Augustine's text.

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« Reply #74 on: June 13, 2009, 04:16:21 AM »


There is indeed much in St. John Cassian's writings that are worthy, perhaps 99% of it. 

And in Saint Augustine's writings on these matters, a far lesser percentage is worthy.  Indeed much is heretical and was rejected by the Church in the West.

However, I do not really want to start engaging you, and I have not yet read through this thread.  I simply wanted to point out to Orthodox readers that the position which the West calls "semi-Pelagianism" is the position of the Orthodox Church.  It is the doctrine of synergy.
OK, then, that is settled.  As far as YOU are concerned, you believe that there is a moment in a person's life where that person can do something for the sake of salvation WITHOUT THE GRACE OF GOD.  That's heresy according to the Ecumenical Councils and Scripture.  Sorry, I do not believe you that this is the position of the Eastern Orthodox Church.   No matter what YOU call it, it is still heresy.

It's still possible, however, that you define "semi-pelagianism" differently than the Catholic Church does.
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« Reply #75 on: June 13, 2009, 04:31:22 AM »

OK, then, that is settled.  As far as YOU are concerned, you believe that there is a moment in a person's life where that person can do something for the sake of salvation WITHOUT THE GRACE OF GOD. [/i][/u]

You have always have had an annoying propensity to place words into other people's mouths.   Angry

An understanding of the doctrine of synergy requires a bit more time and study than is possible on a venue of this nature, and it is complicated for such as Catholics and Lutherans by preconceived notions of sin and grace and justification.

As I said, I do not want to engage you.  I simply wanted to make sure that no Orthodox are led astray.  I recommend a reading of the relevant passges from Saint John Cassian and a web search should bring up trustworthy Orthodox articles.
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« Reply #76 on: June 13, 2009, 04:44:11 AM »

OK, then, that is settled.  As far as YOU are concerned, you believe that there is a moment in a person's life where that person can do something for the sake of salvation WITHOUT THE GRACE OF GOD. [/i][/u]

You have always have had an annoying propensity to place words into other people's mouths.   Angry
No, you're confusing me with two other EO posters here.  Grin  I ALREADY explained to you what it was about Semi-Pelagianism that the Catholic Church rejects - it is one of the points that the Ecumenical Councils decreed is also to be rejected about Pelagianism, a point that I quoted earlier (canon 113).  Yet you STILL have the audacity to claim that the Orthodox position is Semi-Pelagian.  I'm not putting words in anybody's mouth.  I gave you a SPECIFIC definition for the heresy, and you EXPLICITLY stated AFTERWARDS that it is the position of Orthodoxy by stating that it is Semi-Pelagian.

If you want to reject your position now, great.  But don't go around throwing ad hominems to cover up your own error.  In any case, I stand by my statement that your position (even after I gave you the definition of the heresy) cannot possibly be the official position of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

What would be deceptive (and unholy) is for you to try to pass off Semi-Pelagianism as orthodox by claiming it is the same thing as synergy, thereby inducing people to believe in a heresy.  Note:  I am not saying that synergy is a heresy.  I am saying that Semi-Pelagianism is a heresy.  You are the one in error by claiming that they are the same.

A NOTE TO READERS:  IT IS NOT TRUE THAT THE CHURCH AS A WHOLE HAS NEVER CONDEMNED SEMI-PELAGIANISM.  The essence of Semi-Pelagianism that is condemned by the Catholic Church is simply that ONE FACET of Pelagianism that the Ecumenical Councils have ALREADY condemned.  Don't be deceived by others trying to pass off Semi-Pelagianism as Eastern Orthodox doctrine.
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« Reply #77 on: June 13, 2009, 08:33:22 AM »

Sorry but you insist in accusing st John Cassian of heresy.
Synergy is not heresy, according to you... then why don't you RCs adopt it as official dogma? until you don't, EO won't never accept your position on original sin.
Secondly, I thank Irish hermit for his support. He is indeed one of the most positive contributors on this site to the Orthodox cause.
Thirdly, why dont' RCs explicitly condemn the wrong and pessimistic words of Augustine concerning depravity as what they are - i.e. heresy?

I now explain what I think is my position on synergy once and for all. I think of God's grace as a magnet attracting our hearts to him. Only those of us who have their free will oriented in the right polarity are attracted to God. Since one determines his own orientation pro or contra God by free will, only those who do this are effectively attracted by the universal magnetism of God's grace. Is that acceptable? I think st. John Cassian might have understood Ancestral Sin that way (of course he couldn't use this parable... laugh).

It is curious that in general I never accused you of heresy, while you insist calling us heretic. That's a disparity. I already said that "your" position can be admitted in Orthodoxy although generally not believed, while YOU say that our position is heresy so a Roman Catholic "can't" embrace a more moderate and less pessimistic position on human nature.
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« Reply #78 on: June 13, 2009, 09:45:42 AM »

Dear brother Apotheoun,

Wow, am I glad to see your handle hear.  From my past discussions with you, I know you are one able to stay on topic, so I'm certain your contribution here will be fruitful.

Here is what St. John Chrysostom said about the baptism of infants:

"Blessed be God, who alone does wonderful things! You have seen how numerous are the gifts of baptism. Although many men think that the only gift it confers is the remission of sins, we have counted its honors to the number of ten. It is on this account that we baptize even infants, although they are sinless, that they may be given the further gifts of sanctification, justice, filial adoption, and inheritance, that they may be brothers and members of Christ, and become dwelling places for the Spirit" [St. John Chrysostom, Third Baptismal Instruction, no. 6].
I don't see how you think this quote from St. John Chrysostom distinguishes the Latin and Oriental understanding from the Eastern/Byzantine understanding.  It is obvious that by "sinless," he means ACTUAL sin, but does that mean he is denying Original Sin as understood by the Latins and Orientals?  Look again at his statement.  He states that children (who don't COMMIT sin), require, through baptism, the gift of JUSTICE.  This is the missing piece in the modern EO understanding of Original Sin that the Latins and Orientals have faithfully maintained (though I am certain not all EO have this modern understanding, but rather that there are many who still adhere to the Traditional and historic EO understanding on Original Sin, such as - among those here - brother Dan).

Look what else he writes:
"It is the saying that through the offence of one many were made sinners. For the fact that when he had sinned and become mortal, those who were of him should be so also, is nothing unlikely.  But how would it follow that from his disobedience another would become a sinner? For at this rate a man of this sort sort will not even deserve punishment, if, that is, it was not from his own self that he became a sinner. What then does the word "sinners" mean? To me it seems to mean liable to punishment and condemned to death...And for this reason after showing that the punishment too was brought in by one upon all..." Commentary on Romans, X, ver.19.

This contradicts your own definition of sin, which you gave in another post, that it is not "a state of being."  As mentioned, St. John Chrysostom taught that even infants, though they don't commit actual sin, need the Grace of Original Justice in the eyes of God, which they obtain at Baptism.

Blessings,
Marduk


There is no real contradiction; instead, there is only a contradiction in your mind, because you read the texts you have quoted in a Latin way, which I refuse to do.  Thus, by Adam's sin all men became mortal, but not sinful.  To say that one is born sinful is to embrace the Manichaean heresy, which -- unlike you -- I refuse to do.  There is no "state of sin" or "sinful being."
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« Reply #79 on: June 13, 2009, 10:28:48 AM »

Dear brother Alex,

Sorry but you insist in accusing st John Cassian of heresy.
Synergy is not heresy, according to you... then why don't you RCs adopt it as official dogma? until you don't, EO won't never accept your position on original sin.
Secondly, I thank Irish hermit for his support. He is indeed one of the most positive contributors on this site to the Orthodox cause.
Thirdly, why dont' RCs explicitly condemn the wrong and pessimistic words of Augustine concerning depravity as what they are - i.e. heresy?

I now explain what I think is my position on synergy once and for all. I think of God's grace as a magnet attracting our hearts to him. Only those of us who have their free will oriented in the right polarity are attracted to God. Since one determines his own orientation pro or contra God by free will, only those who do this are effectively attracted by the universal magnetism of God's grace. Is that acceptable? I think st. John Cassian might have understood Ancestral Sin that way (of course he couldn't use this parable... laugh).

It is curious that in general I never accused you of heresy, while you insist calling us heretic. That's a disparity. I already said that "your" position can be admitted in Orthodoxy although generally not believed, while YOU say that our position is heresy so a Roman Catholic "can't" embrace a more moderate and less pessimistic position on human nature.
Why should it surprise you that a saint can teach something that is wrong?  Did not St. Gregory of Nyssa explicitly teach the apokatastasis, which was condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council?  But we do not charge St. Gregory of being a heretic, because in St. Gregory’s time, the teaching had not yet been dogmatically condemned by the Church yet.  The same with St. John Cassian.  His Semi-Pelagianism was heresy, but we do not charge him with heresy thereby because Semi-Pelagianism (and Pelagianism) had not yet been dogmatically condemned by the Third Ecumenical Council yet.

But we know that Semi-Pelagianism IS heretical.  And it is condemned by Canon 113 (Greek 114) of the African Code.  Of the Nine Canons (Canons 108 – 116) accepted by the Third Ecumenical Council to condemn the heresies of Pelagius and Celestius, St. John Cassian adhered to the teaching condemned by Canon 113. 

It is wrong for Catholics to claim that the EO are Semi-Pelagian.  Likewise, it is wrong, for Father Ambrose to make the claim as if there was nothing heretical about Semi-Pelagianism.  Semi-Pelagianism was condemned by the Third, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils.  It was condemned along with Pelagianism, because Semi-Pelagianism is simply a subset of the teachings that comprise Pelagianism.  Semi-Pelagianism has nothing to do with the teachings of St. John Cassian that are Catholic and Orthodox.  But there is nevertheless a portion of his writings that adheres to one of the points that was eventually condemned by the Third Ecumenical Council – namely, the idea that a person can, WITHOUT THE GRACE OF GOD, acquire the Grace of initial justification.

Synergy is NOT the same as Semi-Pelagianism.  It is simply wrong for Father Ambrose to claim that.  Synergy does NOT teach that there is a single point in time that a human being can ever have the power ON HIS OWN WITHOUT THE GRACE OF GOD to be able to do something for the sake of his salvation.  Synergy teaches that our actions of salvation are ALWAYS a cooperation between God’s Grace and the human will.

From your current description of synergy with the magnet analogy, it seems you’ve got it right now. I congratulate you.  But what you need to understand is that while the magnet analogy you gave is a proper description of synergy, that is NOT what Semi-Pelagianism is, nor is it a correct description of St. John Cassians’ FULL teaching on the matter.  Let’s use your magnet analogy to describe exactly what St. John Cassian’s actual teaching is (IOW, what Semi-Pelagianism is).  To properly describe St. Cassian’s teaching, you must imagine that the magnet has a switch, and you have the power to turn the switch on.  After you turn the switch on, THEN you start to feel the pull of the magnet. That is not the Catholic and Orthodox teaching.

Here is a comparison of Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and the Catholic/Orthodox teaching on the matter using your magnet analogy:

Pelagianism – the switch is always off.  There is no pull of a magnet, but you have the power on your own.
Semi-Pelagianism (St. Cassian’s teaching) – You have the power to turn on the switch.  Only after you turn on the switch do you feel the pull of the magnet.

The Catholic/Orthodox teaching – the magnet is ALWAYS on, but you have the power to resist or give in to the pull of the magnet.

What Father Ambrose has asked you to read is that portion of St. Cassian’s writings where (using the magnet analogy) the switch has already been turned on.  Thus, it does not seem like there is a difference between his teaching (Semi-Pelagianism) and the Catholic/Orthodox teaching.  But that is not all there is to St. Cassian’s teaching on the matter.

Finally, I don’t know how you can possibly accuse me of “calling us heretic.”  I am the one defending the integrity of Eastern Orthodoxy by combating Father Ambrose’s false claims that EO’xy can properly be described as “Semi-Pelagian.”

I hope that has helped.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #80 on: June 13, 2009, 10:41:44 AM »

There is no real contradiction; instead, there is only a contradiction in your mind, because you read the texts you have quoted in a Latin way, which I refuse to do.  Thus, by Adam's sin all men became mortal, but not sinful.  To say that one is born sinful is to embrace the Manichaean heresy, which -- unlike you -- I refuse to do.  There is no "state of sin" or "sinful being."
I know there are different terminologies used between the Traditions, but I didn't know that the "Grace of Justice" was one of those where there was a difference.  Perhaps you can apprise us of the difference?  I mean, at least I've explained my position.  You claim that my interpretation is Manichean, but you didn't explain.  I guess you are not aware of the fundamental difference between Manicheaism and the historic/patristic teaching on Original Sin.  The Catholic teaching on Original Sin (which is basically the Alexandrine Tradition) is that man is bascially good, and that sin (including original sin) is a blemish on our nature, something UNnatural.  On the contrary, Manicheaism taught that matter is inherently and naturally evil.  I hope to still have a good discussion with you on the matter devoid of empty, unexplained claims.  I don't mind if you accuse Catholicism of something, but at least give a valid reason. Don't base your criticism merely on false analogies.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #81 on: June 13, 2009, 12:08:19 PM »

Sincerely, I think Father Ambrose just uses a *positive* understanding of st. John Cassian's words. Optimism is a typical aspect of our world view... The words of st Cassian are at least *less pessimistic* then those of Augustine regarding human nature, especially when a comparison is made with the more mystical and less legalistic approach of Eastern theology. Words such as "satisfaction of divine justice" or the idea of sin as a rebellion, for example, are foreign to the peculiarily ascetical approach of the Eastern Church Fathers on the matter. Using more concrete/legalistic/scholastic technicalities as the Latins do just complicates the understanding of your concepts.
Anyway, after all, only the concept of "liability" still remains untouched.
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« Reply #82 on: June 13, 2009, 02:35:20 PM »

Correct.  Sin is by definition personal, and so no one can inherit another's sins.
Sin is by definition personal (agreed).  But that is not the only, much less the important, part of the definition of sin (in fact, something can be personal, yet be inherited).  The Catholic Church defines sin as the state which lacks holiness and justice - or, more simply, spiritual death/separation from God.  It is, as St. John Chrysostom stated, a state of liability to punishment in God's eyes (which is why even infants require the Grace of Justice - which they acquire at Baptism).  This is why the CC and the OO baptize children, even though they commit no sin.  This is why we (Catholics and Orientals) preach and teach that Baptism remits not only actual sin, but also Original Sin.  Recall brother OrthodoxLurker's quotation of the Damascene, who taught that Original sin is EXPIATED.   And I am certain that there are many more Fathers (in fact, a unanimous Tradition) that can be called on to testify to the common heritage of Catholics and Oriental Orthodox on this matter (to which I am certain even many EO will agree is a part of their own heritage).

Blessings,
Marduk

When you say "Original sin" in this quote.....do you mean, "original separation"? I am asking because you keep talking about Baptism and why babies are Baptized....eventhough they didn't commit any personal sins.

I could be wrong, and everyone can correct me if I am, but I thought EO believes that babies are Baptized to be united to the body Christ. So Baptism is for both the expiation of personal sins as well as to unite us with Christ.


We are not Baptized for some "original guilt".......nor are Babies baptized for some "original guilt".




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« Reply #83 on: June 13, 2009, 02:49:58 PM »

OK, then, that is settled.  As far as YOU are concerned, you believe that there is a moment in a person's life where that person can do something for the sake of salvation WITHOUT THE GRACE OF GOD. [/i][/u]

You have always have had an annoying propensity to place words into other people's mouths.   Angry
No, you're confusing me with two other EO posters here.  Grin  I ALREADY explained to you what it was about Semi-Pelagianism that the Catholic Church rejects - it is one of the points that the Ecumenical Councils decreed is also to be rejected about Pelagianism, a point that I quoted earlier (canon 113).  Yet you STILL have the audacity to claim that the Orthodox position is Semi-Pelagian.  I'm not putting words in anybody's mouth.  I gave you a SPECIFIC definition for the heresy, and you EXPLICITLY stated AFTERWARDS that it is the position of Orthodoxy by stating that it is Semi-Pelagian.

If you want to reject your position now, great.  But don't go around throwing ad hominems to cover up your own error.  In any case, I stand by my statement that your position (even after I gave you the definition of the heresy) cannot possibly be the official position of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

What would be deceptive (and unholy) is for you to try to pass off Semi-Pelagianism as orthodox by claiming it is the same thing as synergy, thereby inducing people to believe in a heresy.  Note:  I am not saying that synergy is a heresy.  I am saying that Semi-Pelagianism is a heresy.  You are the one in error by claiming that they are the same.

A NOTE TO READERS:  IT IS NOT TRUE THAT THE CHURCH AS A WHOLE HAS NEVER CONDEMNED SEMI-PELAGIANISM.  The essence of Semi-Pelagianism that is condemned by the Catholic Church is simply that ONE FACET of Pelagianism that the Ecumenical Councils have ALREADY condemned.  Don't be deceived by others trying to pass off Semi-Pelagianism as Eastern Orthodox doctrine.

What the local latin council of 2nd Orange comdemned was the idea that the free will of "some" men can preceed the grace of God.

Saint John Cassian was a great man of the Faith. He made a small mistake in 1 or 2 places in his work called the Conferences where he spoke about the possibility of the free will of "some" people being able to preceed the grace of God. He mostly tought in most places that the grace of God preceeds the will of man.

 I get upset with Both Roman Catholics and certain Reformed protestants for seeing Saint Augustine as some great hero with no flaws in his writings, but demonize Saint John Cassian for 1 or 2 flaws.

Most of what Saint John Cassian wrote is Orthodox and sound doctrine. And if you can overlook the many theological flaws of Saint Augustine then why not overlook a few minor flaws of Saint John Cassian?







Jnorm888
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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #84 on: June 13, 2009, 03:15:49 PM »

A virtual applause echoes out of my heart for what you said, dear jnorm888... What a great saint was John Cassian... and what great mistakes did blessed Augustine introduce in his theology...

In Christ      Alex
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« Reply #85 on: June 13, 2009, 08:11:51 PM »

When you say "Original sin" in this quote.....do you mean, "original separation"? I am asking because you keep talking about Baptism and why babies are Baptized....eventhough they didn't commit any personal sins.
Yes, that is exactly how the Catholic Church defines Original Sin.  It is the state of "separation from God" or "death of the soul." (note here that the "death of the soul" is not the "annihilation of the soul," but rather "separation from God."  Here is a quote from the Council of Trent:
"If anyone asserts that Adam's sin was injurious only to Adam and not to his descendants, and that it was for himself along that he lost the holiness and justice which he had received from God, and not for us also; or that after his defilement by the sin of disobedience, he transmitted to the whole human race only death and punishmet of the body but not sin itself which is the death of the soul: Let him be anathema.

Quote
I could be wrong, and everyone can correct me if I am, but I thought EO believes that babies are Baptized to be united to the body Christ. So Baptism is for both the expiation of personal sins as well as to unite us with Christ.
I can't speak for the EO, but the Catholic Church believes that being united to the body of Christ is ONE of the benefits of Baptism that babies receive.  Babies and adults both receive the SAME benefits of baptism, except that infants don't have ACTUAL sin.

Quote
We are not Baptized for some "original guilt".......nor are Babies baptized for some "original guilt".
There is no such thing as "original guilt," if by that you mean "Adam's guilt passed down to us."  The things that Adam passed down are 1) Death and corruptibility of the body (which is simply part of our nature, anyway);  Death of the soul (i.e., separation from God due to a loss of Original Holiness and Justice; this is the "Sin" part of the term "Original Sin" according to the Catholic teaching); concupisence.  Adam did not pass down his guilt.  Our guilt comes NOT from Adam, but from our own PERSONAL moral responsibility to satisfy Divine Justice due to (1) our natural separation from God (original sin) and (2) actual sin.  Both sins (remember the definition of "sin" above) are PERSONAL, and both, as the Church has CONSTANTLY taught and believed, are expiated by Baptism.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #86 on: June 13, 2009, 08:22:27 PM »

Dear brother Jnorm,

Saint John Cassian was a great man of the Faith. He made a small mistake in 1 or 2 places in his work called the Conferences where he spoke about the possibility of the free will of "some" people being able to preceed the grace of God. He mostly tought in most places that the grace of God preceeds the will of man.
Yes, that is exactly what I stated earlier.  The problem is that some don't want to acknowledge his mistakes, and thereby mistakenly claim that the EOC is "semi-Pelagian."

Quote
I get upset with Both Roman Catholics and certain Reformed protestants for seeing Saint Augustine as some great hero with no flaws in his writings, but demonize Saint John Cassian for 1 or 2 flaws.

Most of what Saint John Cassian wrote is Orthodox and sound doctrine. And if you can overlook the many theological flaws of Saint Augustine then why not overlook a few minor flaws of Saint John Cassian?
Whoa!  John Cassian is a Saint in the Catholic Church.  Where do you get the idea that we demonize him? Huh  Huh  Huh  And where do you get the idea that we "overlook" the theological flaws of Augustine?  Every teaching of St. Augustine that can be condemned was condemned by the Council of Trent.  Likewise, the part of St. Cassian's writings that can be condemned was condemned at the Council of Orange.  I can't see the distinction you are making between the Catholic Church honoring St. Augustine, and your Church honoring St. Cassian.  I am not aware of ANY Catholic who dishonors St. Cassian by not calling him a Saint.  However, there are certainly many EO who do not call St. Augustine a saint.  So if you want to talk about demonizing someone, I think the EO have a lot more on their plate than the Catholics do.

Blessings
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« Reply #87 on: June 13, 2009, 08:34:07 PM »

Sincerely, I think Father Ambrose just uses a *positive* understanding of st. John Cassian's words. Optimism is a typical aspect of our world view... The words of st Cassian are at least *less pessimistic* then those of Augustine regarding human nature, especially when a comparison is made with the more mystical and less legalistic approach of Eastern theology. Words such as "satisfaction of divine justice" or the idea of sin as a rebellion, for example, are foreign to the peculiarily ascetical approach of the Eastern Church Fathers on the matter. Using more concrete/legalistic/scholastic technicalities as the Latins do just complicates the understanding of your concepts.
Anyway, after all, only the concept of "liability" still remains untouched.
An HONEST positive understanding of a Saint does not seek to overlook their faults.  The Catholic Church honors St. Augustine greatly, but we do not thereby overlook the fact that some of his teachings are excessive and to be rejected.  Honoring St. Cassian should likewise not mean that we overlook his faults.  Wouldn't you agree?

Blessings
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« Reply #88 on: June 13, 2009, 08:54:00 PM »

The Beginnings of a Western and Eastern Reassessment of Pelagius

"Pelagius: To Demetrias"
by Deacon Geoffrey Ó Riada
[now Russian Orthodox priest in France]

http://web.archive.org/web/20040102171014/www.nireland.com/orthodox/pelagius.htm

Contents
Introduction
A Brief Life of Pelagius
The Letter to Demetrias
History and Text
Content and Analysis

Introduction

Few churchmen have been so maligned as Pelagius in the Christian West. For nearly 1,500 years, all that anyone has known of the British monk's theology has come from what his opponents said about him — and when one's opponents are as eminent as Augustine and Jerome, the chance of getting a fair hearing is not great. Consequently, it has been easy to lay all manner of pernicious heresies at Pelagius's doorstep. Only in the last couple of decades have scholars been able to recover and examine Pelagius's works directly. What they have found is that very little of what has historically passed for "Pelagian" heresy was actually taught by him.

This "rehabilitation" of Pelagius by Western scholars calls for an Orthodox Christian response. Indeed, through ecumenical contact and dialogue with Western Christians, Orthodox theologians have come to appreciate the immense impact that Augustine has had in shaping the landscape of Western Christianity; and the divergence of the Augustinian trajectory of theology from the Apostolic and Patristic Tradition has been carefully charted. It is surely time, then, for an evaluation of Augustine's chief opponent, Pelagius. We may even find in the British monk's criticism of Augustinian ideology a voice sympathetic to Orthodox concerns.

There is no denying that Orthodox Christians have traditionally called Pelagius a heretic. Yet no Eastern Fathers were acquainted with him, and condemnations of Pelagianism were included in the Oecumenical Synod of Ephesos only under Western influence. As we shall see, on the couple of occasions during his lifetime that Pelagius was actually tried at local councils in the East, the evaluation was positive. This paper picks up where those councils left off, though a thorough evaluation of Pelagius lies well beyond its scope.

Remainder of article :: http://web.archive.org/web/20040102171014/www.nireland.com/orthodox/pelagius.htm
« Last Edit: June 13, 2009, 08:57:08 PM by Irish Hermit » Logged
Mardukm
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« Reply #89 on: June 13, 2009, 09:35:37 PM »

Dearest Father Ambrose,

I think the article has a lot of good points, and some bad points.  For now, I just want to point out one of these bad points:

Quote from:
Yet no Eastern Fathers were acquainted with him, and condemnations of Pelagianism were included in the Oecumenical Synod of Ephesos only under Western influence.
If he means by this that the Fathers at the Third Ecum did not truly and fully understand what they were condemning, then no single Oriental will even pay attention to him.  No Oriental would ever admit that Pope St. Cyrill was so lackadaisical in his duty as a shepherd of the Church that he would sign on to a condemnation of a teaching without full and due deliberation, and not merely under "the influence" of someone. 

The 9 canons from the African Code accepted by the Third Ecumenical Council under the presidency of Pope St. Cyrill to condemn Pelagius and Celestius are the infallible and dogmatic TEACHINGS of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  It might very well be the case that the PERSON of Pelagius can be rehabilitated as more information surfaces, but the TEACHING known as Pelagianism/Semi-Pelagianism will always and forever remain a heresy in the eyes of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
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