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Author Topic: Sin as Sickness in Scripture?  (Read 2853 times) Average Rating: 0
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tbubb1
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« on: October 24, 2010, 11:59:00 PM »

I have a question concerning sin and the Fall that I was hoping someone could answer.
Last Wednesday, I was having a conversation with a Presbyterian/Calvinist friend over lunch.
As I understand it, Calvinists believe humanity is "Totally Depraved"--meaning it is incapable of choosing or doing any good,
even unable to believe in Christ without some sort of predestination.  They back this up with Scripture talking about Man being
"dead" in sin, and then saying "dead men don't make decisions."

In contrast, I'm aware that Orthodoxy has always seen sin as more of a sickness, and that we are still able to choose and orient
our hearts toward God--though this ability was damaged.  I'm just curious if sin as sickness is seen in Scripture?  Everything I've
come across relates it directly to death, and unless there is Scripture that unmistakably presents sin as something other than death,
I'm sure it'll continue to be distorted by the Calvinist system in my conversations with this friend.

Is this a translation problem?  Or perhaps something that the West has culturally misunderstood?

I realize that it's Rome and the Reformers who have confused the original view of the Fall and of sin, but unless I can go back to Scripture, at
least at first, I'm afraid my discussions with this Calvinist friend won't go anywhere.

Thanks!
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2010, 04:21:42 AM »

I think there are passages in the Scripture that speak of the healing of spiritual sickness, though admittedly they are in the minority. This seems to be one of those things where--as with theosis--the early Christians saw gems in the biblical text and polished them up for us. Regarding your questions, the most important passage IMO would be…

“And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” - Mk. 2:16-17

Obviously Jesus Christ is not talking about physical illness when he mentions a “physician” and people being “sick,” but rather, when he speaks of “they that are sick” he is speaking of “sinners”. Matt. 9:11-13 and Lk. 5:30-32 echo this passage in Mark.

Another passage that seems to express the Orthodox view is found in the Psalms: “I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.” (Ps. 41:4) Now the problem with this passage is that there is physical sickness mentioned in the previous verse (v. 3). However, I would argue that this previous verse is not related to the healing mentioned in v. 4, and that they are separate thoughts.

Here are some other passages to consider…

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. “ - Is. 1:4-5

“A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God. Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.” - Jer. 3:21-22

“For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished. For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.” - Jer. 30:11-12 (cf Mic. 1:9)
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2010, 06:10:06 AM »

I think that there are particular words in the bible which are often solely interpreted from a western (i.e. juridical) standpoint. Two words that come to mind are justice and mercy. In the east, however, these words are looked at with much broader meanings, and tend to emphasize the healing process of salvation. I saw an article about this once, but I forgot where it was. Perhaps someone else knows a good article which describes the eastern interpretation of mercy and justice as it pertains to this?


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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2011, 09:43:36 PM »

Anyone else have something to add here? Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2011, 09:49:42 AM »

Does not the whole 5th chapter of Romans speak of sin in terms of our mortality inherited from Adam rather than some concept of total depravity?
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2013, 06:45:21 PM »

Does not the whole 5th chapter of Romans speak of sin in terms of our mortality inherited from Adam rather than some concept of total depravity?

Some say...
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2013, 04:40:46 AM »

I think there are passages in the Scripture that speak of the healing of spiritual sickness, though admittedly they are in the minority. This seems to be one of those things where--as with theosis--the early Christians saw gems in the biblical text and polished them up for us. Regarding your questions, the most important passage IMO would be…

“And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” - Mk. 2:16-17

Obviously Jesus Christ is not talking about physical illness when he mentions a “physician” and people being “sick,” but rather, when he speaks of “they that are sick” he is speaking of “sinners”. Matt. 9:11-13 and Lk. 5:30-32 echo this passage in Mark.


The other way of looking at that passage - Mk. 2:16-17, is that Jesus was criticizing the Pharisees, since there are none who are righteous ,and all need our savior Jesus Christ. So he was being facetious when he specifically told the Pharisees that he did not come to call the "Righteous". Because they thought they did everything right and did not think they needed saving by anyone, especially Jesus who they thought was the one who needed them.

There is another thing that Christ said that would address the question being asked here , and that is in John 9:2, when the disciples asked whether it was the blind man's sin, or his parent's sin that caused his blindness. Jesus then told them that it was all our fault essentially, as the man was made blind by God so that we all could see God's Grace when he was healed by Jesus.

So in that he was telling us that it is not sin that causes sickness, and the best interpretations I have seen by Orthodox writers is that God does not punish us for our sin. That is rese4rved for the judgement day, and he is patiently waiting for the prodigal son's return.
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