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Author Topic: Ethiopian Orthodox and the Immaculate Conception  (Read 26671 times) Average Rating: 5
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Mardukm
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« Reply #90 on: December 25, 2010, 01:55:44 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

An immaculate conception might be understood probably as a conception with the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, but not a conception perhaps that lifts the curse of Adam.  We even allude to the purity of the Virgin Mary probably because of the purity of her own mother:
That Mary was sanctified by the Holy Spirit from the first moment of her existence is exactly what the Catholic doctrine of the IC teaches, nothing more nothing less. Anyone who says it is anything more than that is engaging in straw man argumentation. The doctrine does not state that Mary was preserved from any of the effects of Original Sin except the spiritual ones. That is what the phrase "stain of original sin" means to the Latins - it refers to the spiritual consequences of the Original Sin - namely, separation from God, lack of Original Holiness, lack of Original Justice. She was still subject to the physical death and corruption that everyone else experiences. 

And this sanctification was due to God's Grace, nothing more, nothing less.  Ever since I began to understand the Catholic teaching from Catholic sources (instead of the misrepresentations that often occur from Orthodox sources), I have never understood how Orthodox can even imagine that Mary's exclamation "God is my savior" in any way contradicts the doctrine of the IC. Have you ever wondered why Orthodox love to use this verse against the IC ("Jesus' Sacrifice hadn't occured yet!" they say), but don't give a thought to the fact that they believe that the Forerunner was sanctified in his mother's womb even before the event of Christ's Sacrifice?

Some people try to make a chasm between the Catholic and Orthodox teaching on Original Sin as an excuse to reject the IC.  I can't understand why people think that the OO understanding of Original Sin is closer to the EO understanding than the Latin understanding. The only "evidence" I've seen from the Orthodox (both Oriental and Eastern) is based on a misrepresentation of the Latin teaching.

Blessings,
Marduk
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LakaYaRabb
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« Reply #91 on: December 25, 2010, 02:52:09 PM »

Brother Mardukm,

Interesting points. From an Orthodox perspective one has to understand the our view with our terms.

We don't use "original holiness" and "original Justice" (which, btw, one poster, Mary has said is the same thing).

The Roman Catholic Catechism, however, gives two distinct definitions of these two distinct terms. Here are the relevant CCC references:

CCC 375: The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original "state of holiness and justice." This grace of original holiness was "to share in . . . divine life."

CCC 376: By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man's life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.252 The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman,253 and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called "original justice."

CCC 399: Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image—that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.

CCC 400: The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay." Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground," for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.


Now, for Orthodox Christians, we do not speak of these two terms, nor to we place a great emphasis on the situations of "original justice and holiness". Man was not in a state of perfection and then fell. Rather, Man was working with God, synergy, and growing and working toward perfection. The Fall was not man distancing himself from God and being alienated, by his choice, from Creation; it was not a fall from supra-natural graces that God bestowed on them. The Fall was man disobeying God and failing to live-out the image of God. Man failed to continue to grow in his potential becoming more and more the likeness of God.

Further, Man after the fall has a Gnomic Will. Christ does not. Orthodox Theologians will say that the Theotokos did have a Gnomic Will. She had to 'struggle' and strive. She always followed God's Will and therefore is not only an example to us, but also the first Christian. This is why we call Her Immaculate and blameless.

This is why we do not accept the Immaculate Conception which is taught by the Roman Catholic Church.     
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« Reply #92 on: December 25, 2010, 02:58:24 PM »

Marduk, so nice to see you here again.  Merry Christmas.

I understand fully your beliefs, and I hope in saying what I said, I didn't misrepresent your beliefs.

To pinpoint exactly where our disagreement is, I think you understand that our Church, at least the Coptic Church, sees the grace and sanctification the Theotokos and the Forerunner received does not result in the same way as the grace of baptism results in.  Pre-incarnate grace occurred many times in the Old Testament, just not in the fullness of which the Incarnation brings.

This is how I feel it should be for consistency's sake.  I wonder if other OO's feel the same way, and perhaps maybe the term "immaculate conception" could be interpreted another way in their traditions, given the context of many Church fathers who did not see the curse lifted until Christ was incarnate.  But I personally cannot find that phrase in the Coptic tradition.
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« Reply #93 on: December 25, 2010, 06:39:00 PM »

Dear brother LakaYaRabb,

How great to have a conversation with you again! I recall exchanging one or two posts with you a long time ago in CAF.

Interesting points. From an Orthodox perspective one has to understand the our view with our terms.

We don't use "original holiness" and "original Justice" (which, btw, one poster, Mary has said is the same thing).

The Roman Catholic Catechism, however, gives two distinct definitions of these two distinct terms. Here are the relevant CCC references:

CCC 375: The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original "state of holiness and justice." This grace of original holiness was "to share in . . . divine life."

CCC 376: By the radiance of this grace all dimensions of man's life were confirmed. As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die.252 The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman,253 and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called "original justice."

CCC 399: Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image—that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.

CCC 400: The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay." Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground," for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.

Now, for Orthodox Christians, we do not speak of these two terms, nor to we place a great emphasis on the situations of "original justice and holiness". Man was not in a state of perfection and then fell. Rather, Man was working with God, synergy, and growing and working toward perfection. The Fall was not man distancing himself from God and being alienated, by his choice, from Creation; it was not a fall from supra-natural graces that God bestowed on them. The Fall was man disobeying God and failing to live-out the image of God. Man failed to continue to grow in his potential becoming more and more the likeness of God.
Thank you for the explanation (and I appreciate the fact that you seem to have a good hold on the Latin teaching). I have come across this explanation several times from my EC brethren, but I’ve never gotten the impression from them that it is anything dogmatic in the Eastern Tradition. Would it be correct to say that the EC’s are generally more apophatic than their EO brethren on several matters since the EO have (in a sense) dogmatized certain teachings in reaction (would “overreaction” be appropriate?) to certain Catholic dogmas?

In any case, your explanation is the reason why I find it hard to comprehend the view that I’ve heard or read expressed by many EO (and even some OO) that the OO teaching on Original Sin is closer to the EO teaching than the Latin teaching.  The Justice of God is a constant received Tradition of the Oriental Churches that we do not share with the EO, but is similar to the Latin Tradition. Further, Orientals share with the Latins the understanding that there was indeed a fall from Grace (quite explicit from the Athanasian perspective).  As stated, to the apophatic mindset of the EC’s, this is not a big problem, but to the EO’s it seems to be a dividing line.  And even more puzzling (a charitable understatement, admittedly), EO’s see it as a dividing factor with Latins, but not with the OO.

Quote
Further, Man after the fall has a Gnomic Will. Christ does not. Orthodox Theologians will say that the Theotokos did have a Gnomic Will. She had to 'struggle' and strive. She always followed God's Will and therefore is not only an example to us, but also the first Christian. This is why we call Her Immaculate and blameless.
Mary had a Gnomic Will, as well. She was not omniscient. She had temptations. She could have said “no” to God, given all the difficulties she could have possibly faced (not least of which was the loss of her life) as a pregnant, betrothed, woman. But she said “Yes.” If you reject the IC because of this, then – well – it doesn’t seem to be a very good reason.  I’m sure you have other reasons. I’m not here to get you to accept the teaching.  As stated in the old IC thread in the other Forum here, my only purpose is to demonstrate that the IC is neither heretical nor heterodox, and can be at least a legitimate theologoumenon.

Thank you for the conversation.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #94 on: December 25, 2010, 07:45:32 PM »

It has been a long time since we have bumped into each other, mostly my fault for being a recluse!  laugh But, It is always a joy to bump into you!
 
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Thank you for the explanation (and I appreciate the fact that you seem to have a good hold on the Latin teaching). I have come across this explanation several times from my EC brethren, but I’ve never gotten the impression from them that it is anything dogmatic in the Eastern Tradition. Would it be correct to say that the EC’s are generally more apophatic than their EO brethren on several matters since the EO have (in a sense) dogmatized certain teachings in reaction (would “overreaction” be appropriate?) to certain Catholic dogmas?


I'd have to think about this, I'm not sure. Maybe you could clarify a bit what you mean, exactly?

Quote
In any case, your explanation is the reason why I find it hard to comprehend the view that I’ve heard or read expressed by many EO (and even some OO) that the OO teaching on Original Sin is closer to the EO teaching than the Latin teaching.  The Justice of God is a constant received Tradition of the Oriental Churches that we do not share with the EO, but is similar to the Latin Tradition. Further, Orientals share with the Latins the understanding that there was indeed a fall from Grace (quite explicit from the Athanasian perspective).  As stated, to the apophatic mindset of the EC’s, this is not a big problem, but to the EO’s it seems to be a dividing line.  And even more puzzling (a charitable understatement, admittedly), EO’s see it as a dividing factor with Latins, but not with the OO.


I am not a great authority on the perspective of our brothers on this. My limited exposure has only caused me to greatly (and even more so now) lament the division between us and the OO. It seems to me that we feel the OO are even more even more close to us because the richness and emphasis on thier tradition is gvien as much importance as the richness and emphasis we have  with our tradition. 

I haven't studied the Athanasian perspective, but the Cappadocian Fathers and all other subsequent Fathers in that vein, along with Monasticism in EO form the Patristic consensus on which our pronema and living tradition are understood, lived-out and recieved. So we see ourselves within Athanasian theology. I can't speak any further on that particular aspect though.

My limited exposure to OO theology regarding the Immaculate Conception and original sin seems to me to be formulated in contra-disticntion to both the Latins and the Greeks. However, it seems to me to be less set against the Greek Fathers than the Latin Fathers. A recent example of this would be the more recent Matthew the Poor. If his understanding would to somehow prevail, I think we could have lasting unity with the OO.
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« Reply #95 on: December 25, 2010, 07:55:46 PM »

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Mary had a Gnomic Will, as well. She was not omniscient. She had temptations. She could have said “no” to God, given all the difficulties she could have possibly faced (not least of which was the loss of her life) as a pregnant, betrothed, woman. But she said “Yes.” If you reject the IC because of this, then – well – it doesn’t seem to be a very good reason.  I’m sure you have other reasons. I’m not here to get you to accept the teaching.  As stated in the old IC thread in the other Forum here, my only purpose is to demonstrate that the IC is neither heretical nor heterodox, and can be at least a legitimate theologoumenon.

Well! It is great that we could reach s consensus on this. I'm am unsure that this is compatible with the Roman Catholic understanding of the Immaculate Conception. For Orthodox Christians to admit that the Theotokos had a gnomic will is akin to saying that she did not possess original justice and original holiness. In terms of the Immaculate Conception in the Roman Catholic mind, it seems that she has been preserved from this spiritual effect. To have a Gnomic will does not mean to have personal sin or to have committed actual sin. But, to have a Gnomic Will would mean that every Grace God gives you requires your response/ascent to God (this is synergy or working with Him) in each and every moment of life. This very fact would seem to go against the teaching that the Theotokos was preserved from the effects of the ancestral curse.

Reguarding a special grace though, St. Gregory Palamas teaches that the Theotokos recieved Grace through her ancestors and the extensive purification she undertook throghout her life. It is an approach that takes the view of synergy. In this way, she is an example for us, the Immaculate Birth-Giver of God and Mother of God.
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« Reply #96 on: December 25, 2010, 08:04:48 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

Marduk, so nice to see you here again.  Merry Christmas.
Thank you! I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate it twice! Grin I also feel blessed to be able to converse with you again. I really wanted to continue our conversation way back on the Pelagian issue. I don't know if it will be appropriate in this Forum, though.

Quote
I understand fully your beliefs, and I hope in saying what I said, I didn't misrepresent your beliefs.
Thank you for your careful and intelligent words throughout our conversation. Nothing you have ever said has ever been insulting. I've always sensed you were genuinely asking instead of pontificating what you thought I believed.

Quote
To pinpoint exactly where our disagreement is, I think you understand that our Church, at least the Coptic Church, sees the grace and sanctification the Theotokos and the Forerunner received does not result in the same way as the grace of baptism results in.  Pre-incarnate grace occurred many times in the Old Testament, just not in the fullness of which the Incarnation brings.

This is how I feel it should be for consistency's sake.  I wonder if other OO's feel the same way, and perhaps maybe the term "immaculate conception" could be interpreted another way in their traditions, given the context of many Church fathers who did not see the curse lifted until Christ was incarnate.
Yes. Thank you for pointing that out. I admit I must apologize for not being too clear on this point in our past conversations.  Mary is indeed unique in the sense that she is the new Eve.  As St. Ephraim wrote, before their respective decisions, Mary and Eve were “utterly equal.” I think he meant her spiritual state – being perfectly united to God, just as Eve was.

Let’s forget about the terminology. Let’s cut to the concepts. It’s about Mary’s perpetual spiritual state, nothing more, nothing less. Here are the questions I suggest we discuss, with my proposed answers:

(1) Did Mary have Grace even before the Annunciation? I propose she did, for the Angel had addressed her as “full of Grace” (or at least “abundantly filled with Grace”). Without this Grace, the belief that Mary could have followed the will of God throughout her life would be Pelagianism.

(2) What was the nature of this Grace? This Grace united her to God in the same way that Adam and Eve were united to God before the Fall. It is the same Grace every person receives at Baptism. This Grace would also strengthen her against the wiles of the Devil. It is this Grace with which she cooperated throughout her life to be sinless.

(3) But is not the Grace of Baptism obtained only from the Sacrifice? Yes.

(4) Then how could she receive this Grace before the Sacrifice occurred? Though the Sacrifice occurred temporally, the power of the Sacrifice is ETERNAL, as clearly demonstrated by St. John in his Book of Revelation.

(5) Does the Coptic Tradition accept such a possibility? Apparently so, since it accepts that she could have been cleansed of Original Sin at the Annunciation, which occurred before the temporal Sacrifice.

(6) If this power was available to God before the temporal Sacrifice, why did He not use it for all mankind?  No one else was chosen to have the utterly and supremely unique honor of being Theotokos.

(7) Did Mary receive any Grace at the Annunciation? I propose she did (in line with our Coptic Tradition).

(Cool What was the nature of this Grace she received at the Annunciation? This Grace permitted corruptible flesh to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and bear Christ in holy virginity.

Quote
But I personally cannot find that phrase in the Coptic tradition.
Well, never let it be said that we Orientals did not know the value of looking at the meaning of words instead of just the words themselves. Smiley The title of the Decree is not dogmatic (in fact, the term "immaculate conception" is not even used in the definition itself).

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #97 on: December 25, 2010, 08:44:12 PM »

Quote
Mary had a Gnomic Will, as well. She was not omniscient. She had temptations. She could have said “no” to God, given all the difficulties she could have possibly faced (not least of which was the loss of her life) as a pregnant, betrothed, woman. But she said “Yes.” If you reject the IC because of this, then – well – it doesn’t seem to be a very good reason.  I’m sure you have other reasons. I’m not here to get you to accept the teaching.  As stated in the old IC thread in the other Forum here, my only purpose is to demonstrate that the IC is neither heretical nor heterodox, and can be at least a legitimate theologoumenon.

Well! It is great that we could reach s consensus on this. I'm am unsure that this is compatible with the Roman Catholic understanding of the Immaculate Conception. For Orthodox Christians to admit that the Theotokos had a gnomic will is akin to saying that she did not possess original justice and original holiness. In terms of the Immaculate Conception in the Roman Catholic mind, it seems that she has been preserved from this spiritual effect. To have a Gnomic will does not mean to have personal sin or to have committed actual sin. But, to have a Gnomic Will would mean that every Grace God gives you requires your response/ascent to God (this is synergy or working with Him) in each and every moment of life. This very fact would seem to go against the teaching that the Theotokos was preserved from the effects of the ancestral curse.

Reguarding a special grace though, St. Gregory Palamas teaches that the Theotokos recieved Grace through her ancestors and the extensive purification she undertook throghout her life. It is an approach that takes the view of synergy. In this way, she is an example for us, the Immaculate Birth-Giver of God and Mother of God.

Marduk is a very gentle correspondent, so I will leave most of this to him. 

As briefly as possible I will offer once again the Catholic teaching in terms that are as simple as possible without loosing too much in the translation.

The stain of original sin, in Catholic teaching, is the darkening of the will and intellect.  That is all they mean by the Theotokos being without the stain of original sin.

So to be born without the stain of original sin means that the Theotokos was born with an illumined intellect and a will that is graced and thereby strengthened.

The Church does not teach that the Theotokos was restored fully to a state of original justice.  So there is no full integration of body-soul-spirit by grace.   Her body is still subject to suffering, death and decay, for example...even though she is greatly graced.

That full integration of body-soul-spirit will come for none of us till the final judgment when all holiness and justice are restored fully and completely in Christ.

If there is something that I have missed, I am sure good brother Mardukm will complete what is lacking.

Mary
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« Reply #98 on: December 25, 2010, 09:03:23 PM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.
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« Reply #99 on: December 25, 2010, 09:31:54 PM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.


I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?
Quote
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.)
That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only
that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our
free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even
without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema.
For the Lord spake
concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: "Without me ye can do nothing," and
not "Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.]"

If without grace you are incapable, then without grace the Theotokos is incapable.
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« Reply #100 on: December 25, 2010, 09:57:28 PM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.


I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?
Quote
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.)
That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only
that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our
free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even
without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema.
For the Lord spake
concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: "Without me ye can do nothing," and
not "Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.]"

If without grace you are incapable, then without grace the Theotokos is incapable.
Without grace, neither she, nor any of us, would exist.

Abraham had grace to say yes, but he wasn't Immaculately Conceived.  The Theotokos wasn't either.
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« Reply #101 on: December 25, 2010, 10:14:54 PM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.


I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?
Quote
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.)
That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only
that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our
free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even
without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema.
For the Lord spake
concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: "Without me ye can do nothing," and
not "Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.]"

If without grace you are incapable, then without grace the Theotokos is incapable.
Without grace, neither she, nor any of us, would exist.

Abraham had grace to say yes, but he wasn't Immaculately Conceived.  The Theotokos wasn't either.

This is referring to Baptism. We don't need "the grace of justification" to exist.

I don't think anyone had to be "immaculately conceived", in general, but I do point out the need for an extra "grace of justification" to be Godly. That is, we can't be Godly without God.
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« Reply #102 on: December 25, 2010, 10:37:08 PM »

Dear Marduk,

Yes, this is a good summary of where our discussion was.  The problem is we don't know what St. Ephraim really thought.  What does it mean to be "equal to Eve?"  She is equal and probably even greater.  For Eve took part of the Tree of Life, but by her disobedience, it was taken away.  The Theotokos by her obedience brought back the Tree of Life in Incarnate form, a much greater outpouring of grace than Eve.

The translation in the Scriptures is "highly favored one."  We call her "full of grace" only after the fact of her Motherhood.  But even if we were to consider the translation "full of grace," it can be interpreted as one who is indeed full of grace as much as she can bear in her weak state, but better than all others.  It is why I feel that is the crux of our disagreement.  The grace she had before the Incarnation is an open grace upon all who are working hard to achieve the will of God.  HH Pope Shenouda writes some examples in his book, "Salvation in the Orthodox Concept:"

Quote
Joshua the son of Nun led the army and fought Amalek, while Moses stood on the top of the hill holding up his hands in prayer (Exodus 17:11).  

Did the people defeat Amalek through the fighting of Joshua's army or through the prayer of Moses?  Concentrating on one of them and neglecting the other would be a mistake.  Joshua alone, however hard had he fought, without the prayer of Moses, or in other words without God's help, would have never defeated.

However the prayer of Moses did not mean at all encouraging the army to slacken before the enemy depending on that prayer!  Fighting and prayer went together, side by side.  One was striving in the way and the other holding up hands in prayer, and both were inseperable.

HH Pope Shenouda in essence showed that the assisting grace of God existed even with the fallen.  He gave another example in the OT in the same chapter:

Quote
How did David beat Goliath?  Was this through God's grace and help?  Certainly, yes.  David depended wholly on God, so he said to Goliath, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin.  But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts", "This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you...Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands" (1 Sam. 17:45-47).

The greatness of David in this battle appears in that he brought God into the field of the battle.  Before David came, there had been no mention of God, only talk about the man who had come up, the valiant who defied the army and about the prize of the king to the person who would kill that man (1 Sam. 17:25).

David brought the Lord's name into the battle as we see from his words, "I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand...the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion...the battle is the Lords...etc."  But, was David satisfied with introducing the name of the Lord into the battlefield?  Did he depend on that saying "Through faith, I shall kill Goliath, without labor or striving; the battle is the Lord's and He will give him into our hands?  No!  But David, "chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand.  And he drew near to the Philistine" (1 Sam. 17:40). ...

...

It is true indeed that the battle is the Lord's.  In this example, it was the Lord who delivered Goliath into the hand of David.  But David had to fight, to hasten and run toward the army, to choose certain stones, to put the stones int he sling and to strike skillfully.  He had also to draw his sword of its sheath and prevail over the Philistine and kill him.  All these steps are works.

No one can deny God worked mysterious ways in the Old Testament, but we can say that all these are examples of a pre-Incarnate form of grace that was enough, but not enough for salvation, which is only through the Incarnation.  And this is the other point.  You write:

Quote
(5) Does the Coptic Tradition accept such a possibility? Apparently so, since it accepts that she could have been cleansed of Original Sin at the Annunciation, which occurred before the temporal Sacrifice.

The Incarnation cleanses.  The Holy Spirit came and became part of that cleansing in which the Logos Incarnate provided an even more higher degree of cleansing more honorable than Eve herself could have even imagined.  When Christ walks around, He cleanses.  When people touch Him, they are instantly healed with the strong faith they had.  When evil people touched Him and were closer to Him, their hearts were getting all the more hardened every single day.  The Pharisees, Judas, the Roman guards, etc.  They push away the grace of God, Who has come in Incarnate form.  The pre-incarnate form of that grace hardened Pharaoh's heart.  His sacrifice is truly eternal, but what exactly is salvation?  It is to partake of Christ in His life.  When Christ died, and rose from the dead, and ascended into the heavens, He blessed the sacrament of baptism as a means to partake of His life.  The Theotokos was the very first to partake of the life of Christ, as she is His mother and physical bearer, and she followed Christ even up to His death.

On the day of Pentecost, the Theotokos received confirmation/chrismation.  This is I think a more consistent belief than the Immaculate Conception.
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« Reply #103 on: December 25, 2010, 10:50:03 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

Marduk, so nice to see you here again.  Merry Christmas.
Thank you! I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate it twice! Grin I also feel blessed to be able to converse with you again. I really wanted to continue our conversation way back on the Pelagian issue. I don't know if it will be appropriate in this Forum, though.
Why not?

Quote
I understand fully your beliefs, and I hope in saying what I said, I didn't misrepresent your beliefs.
Thank you for your careful and intelligent words throughout our conversation. Nothing you have ever said has ever been insulting. I've always sensed you were genuinely asking instead of pontificating what you thought I believed.

To pinpoint exactly where our disagreement is, I think you understand that our Church, at least the Coptic Church, sees the grace and sanctification the Theotokos and the Forerunner received does not result in the same way as the grace of baptism results in.  Pre-incarnate grace occurred many times in the Old Testament, just not in the fullness of which the Incarnation brings.

This is how I feel it should be for consistency's sake.  I wonder if other OO's feel the same way, and perhaps maybe the term "immaculate conception" could be interpreted another way in their traditions, given the context of many Church fathers who did not see the curse lifted until Christ was incarnate.
Yes. Thank you for pointing that out. I admit I must apologize for not being too clear on this point in our past conversations.  Mary is indeed unique in the sense that she is the new Eve.  As St. Ephraim wrote, before their respective decisions, Mary and Eve were “utterly equal.” I think he meant her spiritual state – being perfectly united to God, just as Eve was.
Mother Eve was not yet united to God. She was just on that path before she took the wrong turn.

Let’s forget about the terminology. Let’s cut to the concepts. It’s about Mary’s perpetual spiritual state,

She had no perpetual spiritual state, as her state before the Annuciation changed afterwards, and after her Assumption different yet again.


nothing more, nothing less. Here are the questions I suggest we discuss, with my proposed answers:

(1) Did Mary have Grace even before the Annunciation? I propose she did, for the Angel had addressed her as “full of Grace” (or at least “abundantly filled with Grace”). Without this Grace, the belief that Mary could have followed the will of God throughout her life would be Pelagianism.
Job, Elizabeth and Zakariah had grace to be "just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame," "simple and upright, and fearing God, and avoiding evil...and still keeping [their] innocence." but none of them was IC'd.

(2) What was the nature of this Grace? This Grace united her to God in the same way that Adam and Eve were united to God before the Fall. It is the same Grace every person receives at Baptism.
That grace comes from putting on Christ. Adam and Eve did not have it, and it was not available at the Virgin's conception either.

This Grace would also strengthen her against the wiles of the Devil.
Like Elijah and Enoch were? Daniel and Isaiah? Job? Elizabeth and Zechariah?

It is this Grace with which she cooperated throughout her life to be sinless.

(3) But is not the Grace of Baptism obtained only from the Sacrifice? Yes.

(4) Then how could she receive this Grace before the Sacrifice occurred? Though the Sacrifice occurred temporally, the power of the Sacrifice is ETERNAL, as clearly demonstrated by St. John in his Book of Revelation.
No, the way back machine doesn't appear in St. John. If it did, Adam and Eve wouldn't have been expelled from Paradise since the sacrifice is Eternal.

Either the Eternal God entered time, or He didn't.

(5) Does the Coptic Tradition accept such a possibility? Apparently so, since it accepts that she could have been cleansed of Original Sin at the Annunciation, which occurred before the temporal Sacrifice.
Apparently not, as the Coptic Tradition, with the rest of the Orthodox, accepts that God entered creation through the Virgin at the Annuciation.

(6) If this power was available to God before the temporal Sacrifice, why did He not use it for all mankind?  No one else was chosen to have the utterly and supremely unique honor of being Theotokos.
Him, who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21. No need for an IC. No need to excerpt her from the human race. He did not need to do it, it would be unfitting that He do it, therefore He did not do it.

(7) Did Mary receive any Grace at the Annunciation? I propose she did (in line with our Coptic Tradition).

(Cool What was the nature of this Grace she received at the Annunciation? This Grace permitted corruptible flesh to be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and bear Christ in holy virginity.
Hence no need for the IC.

But I personally cannot find that phrase in the Coptic tradition.
Well, never let it be said that we Orientals did not know the value of looking at the meaning of words instead of just the words themselves. Smiley The title of the Decree is not dogmatic (in fact, the term "immaculate conception" is not even used in the definition itself).
But it is used in the "Apostolic Constitution" e.g.
Quote
THE ROMAN DOCTRINE

Now inasmuch as whatever pertains to sacred worship is intimately connected with its object and cannot have either consistency or durability if this object is vague or uncertain, our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, therefore, while directing all their efforts toward an increase of the devotion to the conception, made it their aim not only to emphasize the object with the utmost zeal, but also to enunciate the exact doctrine.[6] Definitely and clearly they taught that the feast was held in honor of the conception of the Virgin. They denounced as false and absolutely foreign to the mind of the Church the opinion of those who held and affirmed that it was not the conception of the Virgin but her sanctification that was honored by the Church. They never thought that greater leniency should be extended toward those who, attempting to disprove the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, devised a distinction between the first and second instance of conception and inferred that the conception which the Church celebrates was not that of the first instance of conception but the second. In fact, they held it was their duty not only to uphold and defend with all their power the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin but also to assert that the true object of this veneration was her conception considered in its first instant. Hence the words of one of our predecessors, Alexander VII, who authoritatively and decisively declared the mind of the Church: "Concerning the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, ancient indeed is that devotion of the faithful based on the belief that her soul, in the first instant of its creation and in the first instant of the soul's infusion into the body, was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin. And in this sense have the faithful ever solemnized and celebrated the Feast of the Conception."[7]

Moreover, our predecessors considered it their special solemn duty with all diligence, zeal, and effort to preserve intact the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. For, not only have they in no way ever allowed this doctrine to be censured or changed, but they have gone much further and by clear statements repeatedly asserted that the doctrine by which we profess the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin is on its own merits entirely in harmony with the ecclesiastical veneration; that it is ancient and widespread, and of the same nature as that which the Roman Church has undertaken to promote and to protect, and that it is entirely worthy to be used in the Sacred Liturgy and solemn prayers. Not content with this they most strictly prohibited any opinion contrary to this doctrine to be defended in public or private in order that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin might remain inviolate. By repeated blows they wished to put an end to such an opinion. And lest these oft-repeated and clearest statements seem useless, they added a sanction to them.

TESTIMONIES OF THE CATHOLIC WORLD

All are aware with how much diligence this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God has been handed down, proposed and defended by the most outstanding religious orders, by the more celebrated theological academies, and by very eminent doctors in the sciences of theology. All know, likewise, how eager the bishops have been to profess openly and publicly, even in ecclesiastical assemblies, that Mary, the most holy Mother of God, by virtue of the foreseen merits of Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from the original taint, and hence she was redeemed in a manner more sublime.
http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_pi09id.htm
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« Reply #104 on: December 25, 2010, 10:51:51 PM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.


I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?
Quote
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.)
That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only
that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our
free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even
without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema.
For the Lord spake
concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: "Without me ye can do nothing," and
not "Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.]"

If without grace you are incapable, then without grace the Theotokos is incapable.
Without grace, neither she, nor any of us, would exist.

Abraham had grace to say yes, but he wasn't Immaculately Conceived.  The Theotokos wasn't either.

This is referring to Baptism. We don't need "the grace of justification" to exist.

I don't think anyone had to be "immaculately conceived", in general, but I do point out the need for an extra "grace of justification" to be Godly. That is, we can't be Godly without God.
And Abraham, Job, Daniel, Isaiah, Enoch, Elijah, Elizabeth, Zechariah and all the rest were godly with God.  And none were IC'd.
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« Reply #105 on: December 25, 2010, 11:02:55 PM »

They to would need God's grace. Would they not?


Edit: Though I'm not sure that ALL of them were "sinless", I really can't wrap my head around it. The EO position appears to deny the canon.
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« Reply #106 on: December 25, 2010, 11:15:52 PM »

They to would need God's grace. Would they not?


Edit: I really can't wrap my head around it. The EO position appears to deny the canon.

I personally don't disagree with the canon.  Consider the fact that people need grace to repent, and to be convinced in the faith, and to be ready for the waters of baptism (so this is even before baptism).  This is the grace all humanity before the Incarnation had, including the Theotokos.  The grace was never abandoned, but full communion with the Tree of Life was abandoned.  That's the difference.
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« Reply #107 on: December 25, 2010, 11:26:36 PM »

They to would need God's grace. Would they not?


Edit: I really can't wrap my head around it. The EO position appears to deny the canon.

I personally don't disagree with the canon.  Consider the fact that people need grace to repent, and to be convinced in the faith, and to be ready for the waters of baptism (so this is even before baptism).  This is the grace all humanity before the Incarnation had, including the Theotokos.  The grace was never abandoned, but full communion with the Tree of Life was abandoned.  That's the difference.

Is that "justified grace" or just hearing the call of God, recognizing our separation? I would think the later.

I more readily agree with the partial depravity (EO) than the total depravity (RC). This allows us to do good, and recognize our faults. However, even in partial depravity, we are still deprived. It may allow some Godliness, but certainly not full Godliness (sinless). This is where the canon fits in, as I see it. That is, baptism is that grace filled mystery (sacrament) that gives us the spiritual completeness required to fully resist our own sinfulness. We can lose some of this through sin. Therefore, Confession grants us that return of grace we reject in sinful habit and temptation.

Where does the EO (or OO) differ?
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« Reply #108 on: December 25, 2010, 11:43:07 PM »

They to would need God's grace. Would they not?


Edit: I really can't wrap my head around it. The EO position appears to deny the canon.

I personally don't disagree with the canon.  Consider the fact that people need grace to repent, and to be convinced in the faith, and to be ready for the waters of baptism (so this is even before baptism).  This is the grace all humanity before the Incarnation had, including the Theotokos.  The grace was never abandoned, but full communion with the Tree of Life was abandoned.  That's the difference.

Is that "justified grace" or just hearing the call of God, recognizing our separation? I would think the later.

I more readily agree with the partial depravity (EO) than the total depravity (RC). This allows us to do good, and recognize our faults. However, even in partial depravity, we are still deprived. It may allow some Godliness, but certainly not full Godliness (sinless). This is where the canon fits in, as I see it. That is, baptism is that grace filled mystery (sacrament) that gives us the spiritual completeness required to fully resist our own sinfulness. We can lose some of this through sin. Therefore, Confession grants us that return of grace we reject in sinful habit and temptation.

Where does the EO (or OO) differ?

I'm not sure if Roman Catholics believe in total depravity, but I will say this.  If there was total depravity, Christ should have been incarnate immediately, notwithstanding to let his creation go with no hope of at least working out the will of God in their lives.

The idea of "sinless" as equivalent to "not full Godliness" I see as semantics.  EO's will say, "sin is action, not a state of existence" and yet they will admit to the fact that fallen mankind attains a gnomic will.  It seems to be consistent with the teaching of St. Athanasius, where man was put in Paradise and given one straightforward Law to guard the grace he had.  But being in the world where the natural carnal laws are, the grace is distracted, and gnomic will develops putting man in distraction and getting even worse than before in manner of sinning, on top of the fact that they have lost the perfect communion with the Tree of Life.

For Roman Catholics "sinless" can be action and can be that which gives man a gnomic will, I think.  Therefore, in your definition, yes, I would say the Theotokos before the Incarnation was not "sinless" but did strive the in the best way possible before the incarnation with the grace of God before the Incarnation.

OO's never really talked about a "gnomic will" but did define the concept of a will that is marred by the distractions of the world and the temptations of the devil.
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« Reply #109 on: December 26, 2010, 06:51:34 AM »

Dear brother LakaYaRabb,

Thank you for that piece. I must confess I don't know exactly what the author is trying to refute. Whatever it is, it doesn't look at all like the the Latin Catholic teaching.
Quote from: LakaYaRabb
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.
I don't know where this author got all this. It's certainly not contained in the Apostolic Constitution on the Immaculate Conception, which is the authoritative explanation of the Decree.  The Apostolic Constitution explicitly gives the plain reason why Mary was immaculately conceived - In view of being Theotokos, it was necessary so that "she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent." This is in view of the prophecy in Genesis that both the woman and her child would both be at emnity with Satan.  That's it.  The source you provided seems only interested in setting up a straw man to knock down. It's rather a non-starter for a discussion, since I can't discuss or defend something that the Catholic Church never proposed. 

Quote
By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.
That's an interesting point of view - it pretty much misrepresents the Latin catholic teaching. The fact of the matter is that the "stain" spoken of by the Latins IS an absence. Think of a shining figure of a man.  That is original holiness and justice.  Little spots appear on that shining figure. The spots are not a result of a postiive mass called sin. The spots are the result of loss (or absence) of holiness and justice due to sin.  The Latin teaching is very much Athanasian (and Augustinian).  IIRC, St. Athanasius also uses th imagery of spots or stains.  Were you aware of that, or do you want me to provide some quotes?

Would you also like me to give you some quotes from Magisterial Catholic sources demonstrating that the Latin Catholic teaching on "stain" is actually equivalent to an absence of something? I'm not sure if you've already read Trent on the matter.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #110 on: December 26, 2010, 07:00:08 AM »

Dear brother Mina,

I want to respond to you but I'm having a tough time inputting things on the response page.  The viewport keeps jumping up and down everytime I type, and I've accidently deleted everything I'd written twice already due to the annoying movement.

Do you have the same problem? What's the solution? Is it my browser? Do you do your work on a word processor and then just cut and paste everything back to the viewscreen?

Anyhow, please let me know (or anyone else). Thanks.

Blessings,
Marduk
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« Reply #111 on: December 26, 2010, 08:09:07 AM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.


I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?
Quote
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.)
That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only
that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our
free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even
without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema.
For the Lord spake
concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: "Without me ye can do nothing," and
not "Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.]"

If without grace you are incapable, then without grace the Theotokos is incapable.
Without grace, neither she, nor any of us, would exist.

Abraham had grace to say yes, but he wasn't Immaculately Conceived.  The Theotokos wasn't either.

This is referring to Baptism. We don't need "the grace of justification" to exist.

I don't think anyone had to be "immaculately conceived", in general, but I do point out the need for an extra "grace of justification" to be Godly. That is, we can't be Godly without God.

Yes...in the image AND the likeness, she was conceived, though the likeness was not and still is not entirely restored even among the most highly sanctified, nor will it be until we are reunited with our glorified bodies at the final judgment.
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« Reply #112 on: December 26, 2010, 08:09:08 AM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.


I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?
Quote
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.)
That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only
that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our
free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even
without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema.
For the Lord spake
concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: "Without me ye can do nothing," and
not "Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.]"

If without grace you are incapable, then without grace the Theotokos is incapable.
Without grace, neither she, nor any of us, would exist.

Abraham had grace to say yes, but he wasn't Immaculately Conceived.  The Theotokos wasn't either.

This is referring to Baptism. We don't need "the grace of justification" to exist.

I don't think anyone had to be "immaculately conceived", in general, but I do point out the need for an extra "grace of justification" to be Godly. That is, we can't be Godly without God.
And Abraham, Job, Daniel, Isaiah, Enoch, Elijah, Elizabeth, Zechariah and all the rest were godly with God.  And none were IC'd.

This then raises the question of the necessity of Baptism...

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« Reply #113 on: December 26, 2010, 11:19:32 AM »

This then raises the question of the necessity of Baptism...
Who said that was necessary?  Wink
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« Reply #114 on: December 26, 2010, 12:00:07 PM »

This then raises the question of the necessity of Baptism...
Who said that was necessary?  Wink

 laugh  This latter part of the thread here has me wondering...not who said...by why bother...
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« Reply #115 on: December 26, 2010, 03:22:19 PM »

Dear brother Mina,

I want to respond to you but I'm having a tough time inputting things on the response page.  The viewport keeps jumping up and down everytime I type, and I've accidently deleted everything I'd written twice already due to the annoying movement.

Do you have the same problem? What's the solution? Is it my browser? Do you do your work on a word processor and then just cut and paste everything back to the viewscreen?

Anyhow, please let me know (or anyone else). Thanks.

Blessings,
Marduk

Try a different browser.  That could be the problem.
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« Reply #116 on: December 26, 2010, 03:30:50 PM »

Quote
I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?

The canons of this councils are upheld by the Orthodox Church. It is very clear that the Orthodox Church rejects Augustinian theological formulation pertaining to original sin, justice and holiness. This is alien to the theology of the Church. Rather, St. John Cassian explains well our defense against the Pelagian heresy. The canons are received and upheld in the sense that they condemn Pelagain theology. We do not accept the Augustinian formulation that St. Augustine used against Pelagius.
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« Reply #117 on: December 26, 2010, 03:37:24 PM »

Quote
This is referring to Baptism. We don't need "the grace of justification" to exist.

I don't think anyone had to be "immaculately conceived", in general, but I do point out the need for an extra "grace of justification" to be Godly. That is, we can't be Godly without God.

Taken from orthodoxwiki:

Christ’s righteousness is imparted to man in a transformative manner through Christ and his death on the Cross.

We emphasize synergy.

Since the righteousness is offered and imparted to the Christian in love, the Orthodox Christian believes that man is, likewise, free to reject Christ’s righteousness and offer of salvation. For there is no love apart from freedom – coercion and slavery are characteristics that are incompatible with a perfect love. There are assurances in Scripture that God will hold close to himself those who are of his fold, and the Christian can rest confidently in this fact. But, we are just as free to reject God and his love as we are to embrace him.

Found here: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Justification
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« Reply #118 on: December 26, 2010, 03:39:37 PM »

Further, Man after the fall has a Gnomic Will. Christ does not. Orthodox Theologians will say that the Theotokos did have a Gnomic Will. She had to 'struggle' and strive. She always followed God's Will and therefore is not only an example to us, but also the first Christian. This is why we call Her Immaculate and blameless.
As I see it, this is simply an application by extension of the teaching of Constantinople III on the two natural wills and energies in Christ.


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« Reply #119 on: December 26, 2010, 03:42:18 PM »

Quote
She had no perpetual spiritual state, as her state before the Annuciation changed afterwards, and after her Assumption different yet again.

Ialmisry,

This is exactly the crux of the issue, isn't it? As Orthodox we will say the Theotokos continued to strive her whole life, from Glory to Glory! The Roman Catholic teaching of the Immaculate Conception is that the Theotokos was given a singular and special Grace from the moment of her conception that preserved her free from original sin. This teaching proclaims she indeed has a perpetual spiritual state.
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« Reply #120 on: December 26, 2010, 03:44:58 PM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.


I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?
Quote
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.)
That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only
that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our
free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even
without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema.
For the Lord spake
concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: "Without me ye can do nothing," and
not "Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.]"

If without grace you are incapable, then without grace the Theotokos is incapable.
Without grace, neither she, nor any of us, would exist.

Abraham had grace to say yes, but he wasn't Immaculately Conceived.  The Theotokos wasn't either.

This is referring to Baptism. We don't need "the grace of justification" to exist.

I don't think anyone had to be "immaculately conceived", in general, but I do point out the need for an extra "grace of justification" to be Godly. That is, we can't be Godly without God.
And Abraham, Job, Daniel, Isaiah, Enoch, Elijah, Elizabeth, Zechariah and all the rest were godly with God.  And none were IC'd.

This then raises the question of the necessity of Baptism...
Not among us who believe in the regeneratioin of being baptized into Christ.
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« Reply #121 on: December 26, 2010, 03:45:17 PM »

Quote
This is the grace all humanity before the Incarnation had, including the Theotokos.  The grace was never abandoned, but full communion with the Tree of Life was abandoned.  That's the difference.

Mina,

I think this is exactly the point both the EO and the OO are making. This is most likely why it would seem we are closer to each other on this teaching than either of us with the Roman Catholic Church.
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« Reply #122 on: December 26, 2010, 03:46:28 PM »

Quote
She had no perpetual spiritual state, as her state before the Annuciation changed afterwards, and after her Assumption different yet again.

Ialmisry,

This is exactly the crux of the issue, isn't it? As Orthodox we will say the Theotokos continued to strive her whole life, from Glory to Glory! The Roman Catholic teaching of the Immaculate Conception is that the Theotokos was given a singular and special Grace from the moment of her conception that preserved her free from original sin. This teaching proclaims she indeed has a perpetual spiritual state.
Yes. She was somewhat stuck in neutral, according to the IC.
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« Reply #123 on: December 26, 2010, 03:48:37 PM »

Here is one perspective from an Orthodox source. http://web.archive.org/web/20070728015648/http://www.philthompson.net/pages/faq/12.html

Quote
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.

By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.


I don't have a problem with either interpretation (St Athanasius nor St. Augustine). What I do have a problem with, is how does it function (in regards to the Theotokos) in light of the determinations from the Council of Carthage 418?
Quote
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.)
That without the grace of God we can do no good thing.

It seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of justification was given to us only
that we might be able more readily by grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our
free will; as if though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could even
without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema.
For the Lord spake
concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said: "Without me ye can do nothing," and
not "Without me ye could do it but with difficulty.]"

If without grace you are incapable, then without grace the Theotokos is incapable.
Without grace, neither she, nor any of us, would exist.

Abraham had grace to say yes, but he wasn't Immaculately Conceived.  The Theotokos wasn't either.

This is referring to Baptism. We don't need "the grace of justification" to exist.

I don't think anyone had to be "immaculately conceived", in general, but I do point out the need for an extra "grace of justification" to be Godly. That is, we can't be Godly without God.
And Abraham, Job, Daniel, Isaiah, Enoch, Elijah, Elizabeth, Zechariah and all the rest were godly with God.  And none were IC'd.

This then raises the question of the necessity of Baptism...
Not among us who believe in the regeneratioin of being baptized into Christ.

Taken with the rest of the comments above, this assertion is less that assuring except at a most superficial level...however sincere.  

M.
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« Reply #124 on: December 26, 2010, 03:51:46 PM »

Quote
Would you also like me to give you some quotes from Magisterial Catholic sources demonstrating that the Latin Catholic teaching on "stain" is actually equivalent to an absence of something? I'm not sure if you've already read Trent on the matter.

Brother, thank you fro your explanation. It is true that many Orthodox are convinced that the Roman Catholic Church always taught and has never really abandoned the Augustinian theology behind the western explanation of original sin, justification and holiness (also, sanctification, atonement and justification).

Personally, I am not convinced that modern Roman Catholic Theology teaches or uses the Augustinian theology. In fact, posters like yourself and Mary have taken the time to explain many terms that could be confusing to us Orthodox Christians. I will take you (and any Roman Catholic) at your word that you represent the correct understanding of Roman Catholic Theology on these matters.
  
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« Reply #125 on: December 26, 2010, 03:55:19 PM »

Quote
This then raises the question of the necessity of Baptism..
.

Sincerely I say that Holy Baptism is held as necessary. Of course God Alone judges a man's heart. Holy Baptism cleanses from Original Sin. It makes us a member of the Holy Community. We put off the old man and put on the New Man.

"All those who have been Baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, Alleluia!"

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« Reply #126 on: December 26, 2010, 03:58:02 PM »

Quote
As I see it, this is simply an application by extension of the teaching of Constantinople III on the two natural wills and energies in Christ.

Christ is born! Glorify Him! It is a great Joy to see you post in this thread!

I had the exactly this in mind. 

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« Reply #127 on: December 26, 2010, 04:00:16 PM »

Quote
Taken with the rest of the comments above, this assertion is less that assuring except at a most superficial level...however sincere.


I'm not sure I understand why this is the case for you? Perhaps this is a case of talking past each other? Why is it less than assuring for you?
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« Reply #128 on: December 26, 2010, 04:06:31 PM »

Dear brother LakaYaRabb,

Thank you for that piece. I must confess I don't know exactly what the author is trying to refute. Whatever it is, it doesn't look at all like the the Latin Catholic teaching.
Quote from: LakaYaRabb
The immaculate conception dogma is a response to a situation created by the Roman Catholic dogma of original sin. Following Augustine, Rome teaches that man inherits from Adam a "stain" of original sin - primarily manifested in concupiscence , the tendency to sin. So Rome is left with a need to explain how Christ could be born of a human parent yet without sin. The immaculate conception dogma tries to break this chain by making Mary the exception, not Christ.
I don't know where this author got all this.
Um, from the Vatican's preachers.
Was listening to Fr. Larry Richards, who was talking about the Gospel of Luke, and got swerved into the IC.

He stated that the Theotokos "was immaculately conceived because Jesus could not assume sinful flesh...it was because of Him, not her, that she was conceived free from original sin....because her blood would be the blood that flowed in His veins." He then justified this by saying that "God is the eternal now....right now He is creating the world, right now he is bringing the world to the end...He doesn't see things in past, present, and future...just now..."

Well, of course, this all denies that God the Word took the form of a servant in the days of Augustus and Herod, and became sin for us.
became sin?
Him, who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21


It's certainly not contained in the Apostolic Constitution on the Immaculate Conception,
Um, the first paragraph:
Quote
....having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so lover her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin,...To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son -- the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart -- and to give this Son in such a way that he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds.

which is the authoritative explanation of the Decree.  The Apostolic Constitution explicitly gives the plain reason why Mary was immaculately conceived - In view of being Theotokos, it was necessary so that "she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent." This is in view of the prophecy in Genesis
A "prophecy" based on Jerome's mistranslation, which even the Vatican's doesn't hold to anymore.

that both the woman and her child would both be at emnity with Satan.  That's it.  The source you provided seems only interested in setting up a straw man to knock down.
Straw men ordained by the Vatican.

It's rather a non-starter for a discussion, since I can't discuss or defend something that the Catholic Church never proposed. 
Neither does it seem you can defend something the Vatican preaches.

Quote from: LakaYaRabb
By contrast, the Orthodox understanding is conveyed concisely in St Athanasius' treatise On the Incarnation (318 AD). When man (in the persons of Adam and Eve from whom we all derive our human nature) first sinned, he became separated from God. This separation from God is what Orthodox understand to be original sin and it has two consequences: First, separated from the source of all good, man becomes morally corrupt, with an innate tendency to sin; secondly, separated from the source of all Being, man begins to return to his original state, the nothing from which God created him. Corruption and death come into the world.

In other words, original sin in the Orthodox understanding is not a "stain" but an absence. And there is no need to figure out how Christ failed to inherit it along with His human nature from His mother, because the Incarnation itself is the end of the separation. In Himself, from the moment of Incarnation, Christ was both God and Man and therefore His Human Nature never experienced the separation from God which all other humans suffer since the sin in the Garden and which is original sin. Christ does not give us life and righteousness as things apart from Himself; Christ Himself is our life and righteousness.
That's an interesting point of view - it pretty much misrepresents the Latin catholic teaching. The fact of the matter is that the "stain" spoken of by the Latins IS an absence. Think of a shining figure of a man.  That is original holiness and justice.  Little spots appear on that shining figure. The spots are not a result of a postiive mass called sin. The spots are the result of loss (or absence) of holiness and justice due to sin.  The Latin teaching is very much Athanasian (and Augustinian).  IIRC, St. Athanasius also uses th imagery of spots or stains.  Were you aware of that, or do you want me to provide some quotes?
For once, provide the quotes and don't just promise them.

Would you also like me to give you some quotes from Magisterial Catholic sources demonstrating that the Latin Catholic teaching on "stain" is actually equivalent to an absence of something? I'm not sure if you've already read Trent on the matter.
yes, provide the quotes.
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« Reply #129 on: December 26, 2010, 05:31:27 PM »

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Taken with the rest of the comments above, this assertion is less that assuring except at a most superficial level...however sincere.


I'm not sure I understand why this is the case for you? Perhaps this is a case of talking past each other? Why is it less than assuring for you?

Too convoluted to go back and untangle the logic now that the moment has passed.  It's ok.  I don't really doubt Orthodox baptismal theology.  Just that there were assertions made that seemed to make it seem irrelevant.  You have to add the comments on the patriarchs and grace with the MIS-perceptions of the Immaculate Conception and grace to have the dis-connect make sense...but since most Orthodox don't see their missed perceptions then the humor...as well as the logic...are lost.

M.
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« Reply #130 on: December 26, 2010, 08:14:56 PM »

Since the Coptic tradition has been invoked
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7 Mesori (August) - Announciation of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Joachim.


On this day, God sent His honorable angel Gabriel to announce to St. Joachim of the birth of the Virgin, the mother of the incarnated God. This righteous man and his wife St. Anna (Hannah) were stricken in years and had no children for Anna was barren. The children of Israel used to insult him because he had not begotten a son. Because of this, these two saints were sad, and prayed continually, and entreated God by day and by night. They vowed that the child they would beget would be made a steward for the temple.

While St. Joachim was praying over the mountain, he fell into a deep sleep and Gabriel, the angel of the Lord, appeared to him and announced to him that his wife Anna would conceive and bear a child, that would delight his eyes and please his heart; and likewise all the world would rejoice and be glad. When he woke from his sleep, he came to his house, and told his wife about the vision, which she believed. Anna conceived forthwith, and brought forth our Lady, the Virgin Mary, and St. Anna became more honorable than all the women of the world.

May her intercession be with us. Amen.

Intreagued by this difference in date, I can across this
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1 Pachons (May) - The birth of St. Mary.


On this day the church celebrates the birth of the pure Virgin St. Mary, the Mother of God (Theotokos), through whom Salvation came to mankind. She was born in the city of Nazareth, where her parents lived. Her father was grieved in his heart for he could not offer an offering to God for he did not have any children. In the fullness of time according to the Divine Will, the angel of the Lord was sent to announce Joachim, her father, while he was on the mountain praying, and said to him: "The Lord will give you offspring through whom salvation comes to the world."

Immediately he went down the mountain believing what the angel told him, and he told his wife Anna of what he saw and heard. She rejoiced, gave thanks to the Lord, and vowed that the child who was to be born to her would become a servant in the house of the Lord all the days of her/his life. She conceived, and gave birth to this Saint and called her Mary who had become the Queen of all women of the world, and through her we have received the grace.

May her intercession be with us, and glory be to God forever. Amen.


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3 Koiahk (December) - The Entry of the most Holy Theotokos into the temple at Jerusalem.


On this day we commemorate the entrance of our holy Lady, the Virgin, Saint Mary, the Theotokos, into the Temple when she was three years old, for she was dedicated to God. Her mother, Anna (Hannah), was childless. The women who were in the Temple stayed away from her. She was exceedingly sad and so was her husband Joachim who was a blessed old man. She prayed to God fervently and with a contrite heart saying, "If You give me a fruit, I will devote the child to Your Holy Temple." God answered her prayers and she brought forth this pure saint and called her Mary.

She reared her for three years, after which she took her to live with the virgins in the Temple. Saint Mary dwelt in the sanctuary for 12 years. She received her food from the hands of the angels, until the time when our Lord Christ came into the world, and was incarnated through her, the elect of all women.

When she had completed 12 years in the sanctuary, the priests took counsel together concerning her, so that they might entrust her to someone who would protect her, for she was consecrated to God and they were not allowed to keep her in the temple after this age. They decided that she be engaged to a man who could take care of her and who would look after her.

They gathered 12 righteous men from the house of David of the Tribe of Juda so they might place her with one of them. They took their staffs inside the Sanctuary, and a dove flew up and stood on the staff belonging to Joseph the carpenter who was a righteous man. They knew that this was God's will.

Joseph took the holy Virgin St. Mary, and she dwelt with him until Gabriel, the Angel of the Lord, came to her and announced to her that the Son of God was to be incarnated from her, for the salvation of Adam and his posterity.

Her intercession be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
And this difference between the Dormition and the Assumption:
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21 Tobi (January) - The falling asleep of our Lady, the Theotokos, St. Mary.

On this day, Our Lady, the all pure, Virgin St. Mary, the Mother of God, departed. As she was always praying in the holy sepulchre, the Holy Spirit informed her that she was about to depart from this temporal world. When the time of her departure arrived, the virgins of the Mount of Olives came to her, with the apostles, who were still alive, and they surrounded her bed. The Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is the glory, with a host of thousands and thousands of angels came to her and comforted her and told her about the eternal joy that was prepared for her, and she rejoiced. The apostles and the virgins asked her to bless them. She stretched her hand and blessed them all, and she gave up her pure spirit in the hand of her Son and God, and He took her spirit to the heavenly mansions.

The apostles prepared the body in a fitting manner and carried it to Gethsemane. Some of the Jews blocked their way to prevent them from burying the body. One of the Jews seized the coffin with his hands, which were separated instantly from his body and they remained attached to the coffin. He regretted his evil deed and wept bitterly. Through the supplications of the saintly apostles, his hands were reattached to his body, and he believed in the Lord Christ. When they placed the body in the tomb, the Lord hid it from them.

St. Thomas the Apostle was not present at the time of St. Mary's departure. He wanted to go to Jerusalem and a cloud carried him there. On his way, he saw the pure body of St. Mary carried by the angels and ascended to heaven with it. One of the angels told him, "Make haste and kiss the pure body of St. Mary," and he did.

When St. Thomas arrived where the disciples were, they told him about St. Mary's departure and he said to them, "You know how I conducted myself at the resurrection of the Lord Christ, and I will not believe unless I see her body." They went with him to the tomb, and uncovered the place of the body but they did not find it, and everyone was perplexed and surprised. St. Thomas told them how he saw the holy body and the angels that were ascending with it. They heard the Holy Spirit saying to them, "The Lord did not will to leave her body on earth." The Lord had promised his pure apostles to let them see her in the flesh once again. They were waiting for this promise to be fulfilled, until the 16th day of the month of Misra, when the promise was fulfilled and they saw her.

The years of her life on earth were 60 years. She was 12 years old when she left the temple. She spent 34 years in Joseph's house, until the Ascension of the Lord, and 14 years with St. John the Evangelist, according to the commandment of the Lord which he told her at the cross, "Behold, this is your son," and to St. John, "Behold, this is your mother."

Her intercession and blessings be with us. Amen.
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16 Mesori (August) - Commemoration of the Assumption of the Theotokos.


On this day, was the assumption of the body of our pure Lady St. Mary, the Mother of God. While she was keeping vigil, praying in the Holy Sepulchre, and waiting for the happy minute of her liberation from the bonds of the flesh, the Holy Spirit informed her of her forthcoming departure from this vain world. When the time drew near, the disciples and the virgins of the Mt. of Olives (Zeiton) came and the Lady was lying on her bed. Our Lord, surrounded by thousands and thousands of angels, came to Her. He consoled her, and announced her with the everlasting joy which was prepared for Her. She was happy, and she stretched out her hands, blessed the Disciples, and the Virgins. Then, she delivered up her pure soul in the hand of her Son and God, Jesus Christ, Who ascended her to the higher habitations. As of the pure body, they shrouded it and carried it to Gethsemane.

On their way, some of the Jews blocked the way in the face of the disciples to prevent the burial. One of them seized the coffin. His hands were separated from his body, and remained hanging until he believed and repented for his mischievous deed. With the prayers of the holy disciples, his hands were reattached to his body as they had been before.

St. Thomas was absent at the time of St. Mary's departure, but he came after the burial. On his way back to Jerusalem, St. Thomas saw angels carrying St. Mary's pure body and ascending with it to heaven, and one of the angels said to him, "Hurry and kiss the pure body of St. Mary." When he arrived to the disciples, they informed him about St. Mary's departure. He told them, "I will not believe, unless I see her body, as you all know how I did doubt the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ before." They took him to the tomb, to uncover the body but they did not find it, and they were perplexed and amazed. St. Thomas told them how he saw the pure body ascending to heaven, carried by angels.

The Holy Spirit then told them, "The Lord did not Will to leave Her Holy body on earth." The Lord had promised his pure apostles that they would see her in flesh another time. They were waiting for the fulfillment of this truthful promise, until the sixteenth day of the month of Misra, when the promise of seeing her was fulfilled. They saw her sitting on the right hand of her Son and her Lord, surrounded by the angelic Host, as David prophesied and said, "At your right hand stands the queen." (Psalm 45:9) St. Mary's life on earth was sixty years. She spent twelve years of them in the temple, thirty years in the house of the righteous St. Joseph, and fourteen years in the care of St. John the Evangelist, as the Lord commanded her saying, "Woman behold your Son," and to St. John, "Behold your Mother."

May Her intercession be with us. Amen.
http://st-takla.org/Feastes-&-Special-Events/Virgin-Mary-Fast/Saint-Mary-Fast_Virgin-Life-Hymns-mp3s-10-St-Mary-in-the-Synaxariam.html#16%20Mesori%20(August)%20-%20Commemoration%20of%20the%20Assumption%20of%20the%20Theotokos.

I had originally started looking because the month of Koiak, which begins December 10, is dedicated to the Theotokos.  If it needs to be extended before December 10, so that there are four Sundays in the 30 days, it is done so.  The Conception of St. Anne is on 13 Koiak. But no IC.
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« Reply #131 on: December 28, 2010, 12:02:51 AM »

HIYWOT,

You wrote about Psalm 132:
Quote
“Rise up, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the Ark of thy strength” (Psalm 132:8 ). Truly, Christ is gone up into the holy resting place. David said, "Rise up" for He[Christ] arose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. And David said the same to the Lord’s true Ark of the Covenant, for She also arose from the dead.

In Psalm 132, David says he will not sleep:
5 Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. 
6 Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.
7 We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.
8 Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.


Tabernacle means "dwelling place"
In Psalm 132, does the Lord's resting place refer to his dwelling place, the tabernacle? In what sense would the Lord rise to it?

rakovsky,

We believe that Psalms 132:8 is a prophetic verse telling the resurrection of Jesus Christ to heaven.
In its raw reading, as we call it, David built a sanctuary for the Lord and is praying that He come and dwell in that sanctuary or tabernacle as you said. For us that is simply the "raw reading".

Hiywot,

Thanks for responding!

You are right that "In its raw reading, as we call it, David built a sanctuary for the Lord and is praying that He come and dwell in that sanctuary or tabernacle as you said. For us that is simply the "raw reading"."

I understand that you believe that Psalms 132:8 is a prophetic verse telling the resurrection of Jesus Christ to heaven. But I am confused how you reach such an interpretation of the verse.

I do believe, however, that the Psalms predict the Messiah's resurrection, as I wrote on my website rakovskii.livejournal.com .

Happy Nativity!
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« Reply #132 on: February 18, 2011, 02:46:04 AM »

In the book "The Mother of God," by the Armenian Apostolic Vartabed Vatche Iknadiossian, he states, "the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, officially proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church in 1854, was not officially proclaimed by our Church. Nevertheless we celebrate it as a very great feast, on 9th December (instead of 8th).  During the feast we find the following hymns:
 
"Thou art the Flower which cannot wither,

Thy birth was free from the condemnation of original sin,

Immaculate, holy Virgin, We glorify thee!"

"Living Eden. Tree of immortal life

guarded on every way by the flashing sword."

"Thanks to thy stainless and spotless purity, Thou art good!

Thanks to thine immaculate holiness thou art a Tutelary Advocate!"

-composed by St. Gregory of Narek, AD 951-1003


Ghazar,

I tried finding that prayer in St. Nareg's Book of Lamentations, but I could not.  Thinking it could perhaps be one of his other prayers, I contacted someone I know who has studied the hymnology of the Church extensively.  She said she has never seen this prayer before and cannot find it among any of the prayers attributed to St. Nareg.  She also said St. Nareg never wrote in that style, and that any mention of "original sin" in a hymn would be an anachronism for the Armenian Church in the 10th century.  In short, she has doubts about the authenticity of the prayer, or at least its translation.

Do you have the original Classical Armenian of the prayer?  Do you have any other information about it other than what you read in the book by Fr. Iknadossian?

She also said she looked in the Sharagnots for the Feast of the Virgin's Conception, and can't find that particular hymn there. 

Do you have any other information that can help us find the hymn?


Also, something else she mentioned, which I did not know, was that the Feast of the Virgin's Conception is not that ancient in the Armenian Church and does not have its own canon for the hymns that are supposed to be sung.  Rather, it just borrows the canon used for the Birth of the Virgin, which is an older feast.

Anyway, this is an interesting topic.  If you have any other information that can shed light on the above prayer, I would be interested in it.
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« Reply #133 on: February 18, 2011, 09:17:29 PM »

Just to clarify the above:  It's not just that a prayer that resembles what is quoted above can't be found, but there is no sharagan, dagh or kants by St. Nareg that resembles it.  (I wanted to be more precise since what was quoted was not really a prayer, but rather a hymn or a dagh.)    Again, the Classical Armenian original would be helpful.
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« Reply #134 on: August 17, 2012, 12:13:17 AM »

The latest issue of the Glastonbury Review (Issue 122) has an article entitled "An Orthodox View of the Catholic Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary."

http://britishorthodox.org/glastonburyreview/issue-122-an-orthodox-view-of-the-catholic-doctrine-of-the-immaculate-conception-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary/
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