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Author Topic: sinless vs perfect? what is sin?  (Read 730 times) Average Rating: 0
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nrse
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« on: July 14, 2010, 07:30:14 AM »

this starts with Mary really but ends w sin- if Jesus was indeed to enter into out nature and humanity wouldnt that presuppose an imperfect mother? arent we all from dysfunctional families? (big or little "D"?) ands so wouldnt Jesus have had an imperfect family as well? or, is there a difference between sinless and perfect? could Mary have been sinless and yet not perfect?

 i struggle w the common texts in Rom and little John re all being sinners and then saying Mary was sinless...i understand the desire to say that Our Father would not have wanted His Son to be born by anyone but a sinless woman- but couldnt that be just be unrealistic in light of "we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God"?

so then, how do we define sin?

thank you much for your patience with me...i am talking w my priest but there does not seem to be enough days in the week or hours in the day to contemplate all of the marvelous things of God....

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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2010, 08:32:32 AM »

Hi, nrse; welcome to the forum!

I wondered about this, too (and actually started a thread on this when I was new to the forum).  Basically, there's a difference between existential sin (ancestral and simply fallen) and moral transgression of the law.  One can avoid the latter but still need repair from the former.  Mary needed a savior because she was not immaculately conceived, but the Church does teach that, at the least, she was the least sinful human ever to live and, at most, without personal sin but in need of cleansing of ancestral fallenness (many Orthodox authors cite the Annunciation, rather than her conception, as the moment where this happened).

Really, this is all theological opinion; the dogmatizing of this is not something we've done. 

Regarding the Law, two things:

You might want to think of St. Paul or the Prophet Daniel, who were called "blameless" regarding the law, but not without having transgressed at some point.

More importantly, though, the understanding of the Church is not that our primary problem is a legal one with regards to our standing with God, but one of death reigning in our members that the Life of Christ, through our sacramental union with Him, will obliterate, and thus we are healed of a sickness, rather than acquitted of a legal failure.

Hope this helps; again, enjoy the forum!
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2010, 09:39:59 AM »

Hi David, I'm glad to see your views on the issue are shifting, but could you reiterate what you mean by the word existential. This is more or less a philosophical term rather than a religious one.
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2010, 09:44:56 AM »

The word used for sin in the criptures is the grrek word hamartia. That word defined means several things in Greek; hamartia is rooted in the notion of missing the mark (hamartanein) and covers a broad spectrum that includes accident and mistake, as well as wrongdoing, error, or sin. Christ is the only person who was born without sin being both Perfect God and Perfect Man. The most Holy Theotokos Mary while inheriting existential sin (ancestral and simply fallen) strove to avoid the moral trangression of the law(hamartia). Her avoidance of hamartia culminated in her accepting and becoming the handmaiden of God and True Theotokos (Godbearer) at the time of the Annunciation when the cleansing of the ancestral sin occurred. Her continued example of avoiding  hamartia is the sign that mere man can likewise choose to be sinless as well. When we fall (hamartia) we go to confession and start again along the path to being one with the Holy Trinity as our Lord Jesus is with his Father.

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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2010, 08:35:16 PM »

this starts with Mary really but ends w sin- if Jesus was indeed to enter into out nature and humanity wouldnt that presuppose an imperfect mother? arent we all from dysfunctional families? (big or little "D"?) ands so wouldnt Jesus have had an imperfect family as well?

And so what if Jesus did have an imperfect family and an imperfect mother?   Remember that God's power is strengthened in weakness.  Such is the wonderful paradox of our theology.
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2010, 01:03:50 AM »

By existential I mean ontological--something that is tied into our existence.

And αμαρτια is not just a legal transgression of a law (though it is that) but also any kind of state of being that "falls short" of what it should be.  A fallen man is sinning just by sitting quietly in a chair.
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2010, 01:40:58 AM »

The Greek word normally glossed "perfect" is teleios, which means "capable of performing the end (telos) for which it was designed."  Thus, a pencil, no matter how grubby it may look, is still "perfect" in this sense if one can write with it.

We get a more accurate sense of what constitutes Divine perfection if we look comparatively at the summations of the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain (the first in Matthew, the second in Luke).  The Matthean passage ends, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect."  The Lukan passage ends, "Be ye therefore merciful, even as your Father in Heaven is merciful."  These passages are not in conflict, but complementary:  Divine perfection is mercy, and Divine mercy is perfection.
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