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smalltowngl
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« on: June 24, 2004, 02:13:43 PM »

My husband (Roman Catholic) and I (Protestant considering conversion to Orthodox) were having a discussion on the differences in the beliefs of the Orthodox and the Catholic views of original sin.  I'm hoping that someone here can help clarify why there is a difference.  The quote below is what he wrote to me in an email and pretty much sums up the confusion and what we're trying to sort through.  Let me know if I need to clarify though.

(This is the first time I've used a quote, so sorry if this doesn't work correctly.)

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...They are really the same thing. If, I am freed from the guilt of sin, I am also freed from the punishment, which is death. If I am freed from death, which is the punishment of sin,  I must be free from sin too. Looked at the other way, if I'm freed from the punishment, shouldn't I also be freed from the guilt, since I've been told that everything is Ok? If that's all true, shouldn't I also be free from sin just like in the first case?
« Last Edit: June 24, 2004, 02:14:45 PM by smalltowngl » Logged
4Truth
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2004, 02:28:56 PM »

The Orthodox Christian and the Catholic understandings of original sin are [/iVERY different.  After many, many years of being bound by the Protestant understanding of original sin -- which derives directly from the Roman Catholic understanding -- that is, both are rooted in the errors of St. Augustine -- I learned the difference.  My confessor urged me to read the book The Ancestral Sin by Fr. John Romanides.  Learning what the Orthodox Churches teach about original sin freed me from pounds and pounds of psychological and emotional baggage that I had been carting around for decades.  

I sincerely recommend that both you and your husband acquire a copy of this book, study it prayerfully and carefully, and compare what you read with what you both have been taught by your respective faiths.  

In Christ,

4Truth
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smalltowngl
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2004, 02:38:30 PM »

Thanks for the info.  I'll try to find a copy of the book.
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2004, 08:27:52 PM »

Fr. Romanides book is excellent and it explains in great detail how the Church views ancestral (original sin).  I also highly recommend that book.
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2004, 10:30:36 AM »

I'm pretty sure I get it now!  Yay!   Cheesy  I still want to read the book, but I found an essay on the topic that was written by Fr. Romanides on his website that made a lot of sense.  If there is anyone here with the same confusion that I had, you might want to read this essay to get a general idea but also read the book that was suggested above.

http://www.romanity.org/htm/rom.10.en.original_sin_according_to_st._paul.01.htm

Thanks for the help!
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2004, 05:10:07 PM »

The difference is indeed huge.

The Catholic Church teaches we are all born with Original sin. While from my knowledge the Orthodox Church teaches we are born with the effects of Adam's sin, but not the guilt and punishment of Adam's sin. Below I believe the Catholic teaching on this issue is clear in both the Baltimore Catechism and the new Catechism, just thought I'd post it to make the Catholic teaching on this matter clear.

Let me quote the Baltimore Catechism (Fr. Connell's 1952 Confraternity edition):

57. What had happened to us on account of the sin of Adam?

On account of the sin of Adam, we, his descendents, come into the world deprived of sanctifuing grace and inherit his punishment, as we would have inherited his gifts had he been obedient to God.

60. What are the chief punishments of Adam which we inherit through original sin?

The chief punishments of Adam which we inherit through original sin are death, suffering, ignorance, and a stong inclination to sin.

(a) The fact of original sin explains why man is so often tempted to evil and why he so easily turns from God.

(b) Because of the ignorance resulting from original sin, the mind of man has difficulty in knowing many necessary truths, easily falls into error, and is more inclined to consider temporal than eternal things.

(c) The penalties of original sin - death, suffering, ignorance, and a strong inclination to sin -  remain after baptism, even though original sin is taken away.

(d) Although we have a strong inclination to evil as a result of original sin, our nature is not evil itself; it can perform some good actions in the natural order without the aid of grace.

61. Is God unjust in punishing us on account of the sin of Adam?

God is not unjust in punishing is on account of the sin of Adam, because original sin does not take way from us anything to which we have a strict right to as human beings, but only the free gifts which God in His goodness would have bestowed on us if Adam had not sinned.

And now let me quote the new Catechism:

402 All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners": "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned."The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men."

403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the "death of the soul". Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.

404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man". By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

405 Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

406 The Church's teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine's reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God's grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam's fault to bad example. The first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable. The Church pronounced on the meaning of the data of Revelation on original sin especially at the second Council of Orange (529) and at the Council of Trent (1546).
 

407 The doctrine of original sin, closely connected with that of redemption by Christ, provides lucid discernment of man's situation and activity in the world. By our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free. Original sin entails "captivity under the power of him who thenceforth had the power of death, that is, the devil".298 Ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action299 and morals.

408 The consequences of original sin and of all men's personal sins put the world as a whole in the sinful condition aptly described in St. John's expression, "the sin of the world". This expression can also refer to the negative influence exerted on people by communal situations and social structures that are the fruit of men's sins.

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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2004, 10:17:27 AM »

"The difference is indeed huge."

I really do not think that it is, if we allow ourselves to get unhooked from semantical categories.

"original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence"."

And Orthodox throught would agree with this.  We would say, however, that it follows from this that "Original Sin" is better understood as a state into which we are born, a state of human nature that we inherit, rather than a "sin", because the latter is, in *every* other context, a personal act of transgression.  I think Orthodox would agree that we are born into a state of "Original Sin" because we inherit the fallen nature of humanity when we are conceived.  Indeed, Orthodox would agree very much with the new Catechism when it states that "Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state", which is precisely what we see as Original Sin.  The Catechism then explains that the Catholic perspective, while insisting that this state is a sin (which is somewhat strange), nevertheless is in harmony with the Orthodox perspective:  "original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act."  Indeed, this is what Orthodoxy understands Original Sin to be in substance ... namely the inheritance of a sinful, fallen, doomed-to-death human nature, a state into which we are conceived and born.   We would quibble as to whether this is best described as personal sin, and I think even the Catechism admits there is some dissonance with using the term "sin" for this when it states that it is only done so "in an analogical sense".  So in substance I don't see a big difference here, although we may quibble about whether it is best to use the word sin in an anological sense or to drop that terminology and focus on the substance of the fallen state which is the inheritance of Original Sin on which Catholics and Orthodox seem to agree.

It's interesting to compare the two Catechisms.  If you compare them, it would seem that the Catholic position has moved to a position more close to the Orthodox one.  The Baltimore Catechism uses the terminology "chief punishments of Adam which we inherit" and "the penalties of original sin" while the recent Catechism seems to scrupolously avoid this terminology, focusing on the effects and not cateorizing them as penalties or punishments.  Of course, the new Catechism is far superior, far more well thought out than the Baltimore Catechism was, and so its also possible that the Baltimore Catechism simply did not properly reflect Catholic thought on these matters.

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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2004, 12:29:52 PM »

Though I am a "traditionalist" to the core, I believe that the difference between Orthodox teaching on "ancestral sin" and that of the RCC on "original sin" have been greatly overblown, and sometimes for reasons which I hate to admit have the slight smell of heresy (in particular, theological modernism.)

The RCC does not teach that people are born "guilty" of Adam's sin.  To many people, in evaluating the RC teaching, confound it with the teaching of the "Protestant Reformers", who taught the inherent depravity of man after the fall; that not only was he removed from the spiritual gifts of Paradise, but that somehow his nature changed and that it is inherently wicked.  That is heretical, and my understanding is that the RCC does not teach this (and certainly the Orthodox Church does not accept this either.)

On the Orthodox side, there has unfortunately been a tendency in some writers who undermine the Church's teaching that we are born in the state of sin - that being children of Adam, we are born with the consequences of sin, which do not simply have a physical significance (mortality) but also extend into the spiritual life of even the newborn.

Holy Baptism is not primarily a cleansing of the body (though it is to an extent a sanctification), but of the soul.  Now unless we are born somehow filthied by the sin of our first ancestor, and in need of regeneration (re-birth) in order to be numbered amongst the true sons of God, there is absolutely no reason to Baptize infants.  Yet, we have the praxis of the Church to save us from theological modernism - for it is undoubtedly the case that the Orthodox Church does Baptize infants.

While the needfulness of Baptism only increases with age amonst the unillumed - for such a person would add their own personal sins to their yoke - the truth is that Baptism is needful even for the infants.  To teach otherwise, is to attempt to re-habilitate the heresairch Pelagius, who taught not only that we do not NEED the grace of God to save our souls, but in particular that we are not participants in Adam's fall; rather we have our own "little fall" when we first sin.

Please read the concilliar decisions of the Orthodox Church (and not the private opinions of modern theologians) for further enlightenment on this.

"Not to forbid (the baptism) of an infant who, scarcely born, has sinned in nothing apart from that which proceeds from the flesh of Adam.  He has received the contagion of the ancient death through his very birth, and he comes, therefore, the more easily to the reception of the remission of sins in that it is not his own but the sins of another that are remitted." (Council of Carthage, 252 A.D.)

"On account of this rule of faith even infants, who could have committed as yet not sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration." (Canon 110 of the "African Code", approved by the Cathaginian Synod of 419 A.D., and later ratified by the Council in Trullo (692 A.D.) and the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787 A.D.)

Thus while no one inherits the guilt of another (and to my knowledge the RCC does not teach this either) in the sense that it becomes their own personal guilt, they certainly do inherit (by generation; being the issue of Adam) the consequences of the sin of another (Adam).  This is why when an infant is Baptized, it is for the remission of sins as well.

This whole modern muddying of the Orthodox doctrine of original sin (or "ancestral sin" for those who find the other term too "Popish"; though the fact is that Orthodox used to use the two terms interchaneably, particularly when they wrote and spoke in English...and the fact is they mean the same thing!) is in large part the result of that aspect of the "Patristic revival" which is in reality infected by theological modernism.

This modernism, masquerading as a "return to the Fathers" in reality ignores a great deal of what the Fathers have to say on many topics.  It's interesting that the RCC is being discussed here, since it fell in recent decades to the same error - many of the "simplifications" (really perversions) of it's praxis/ritual, were the work of a similar modernism, which operated under the pretense of restoring the "use of the early Church" to the life of the Latins.  Of course, in reality it did nothing of the sort, but simply created a de-sacralized, humanistic, low church Protestantism which the Ancient Fathers would never have recognized as their own.

Something similar has been brewing in the Orthodox world - the renovationist schism in Russia, for example, had a similar agenda.  Remnants and sympathizers to this type of thinking, sadly, have not been expelled from the Orthodox milieu - many of them are even taken as "great modern theologians" in various academies and places of higher "Orthodox" education.

Of course, this doesn't just touch upon praxis, but also upon doctrine.  Hence the really unnecessary attempts to "re-invision" Orthodox teaching on original sin, which in reality are often cryptic attempts to re-habilitate Pelagianism.

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Ben
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2004, 10:20:04 PM »



Quote
It's interesting to compare the two Catechisms.  If you compare them, it would seem that the Catholic position has moved to a position more close to the Orthodox one.  The Baltimore Catechism uses the terminology "chief punishments of Adam which we inherit" and "the penalties of original sin" while the recent Catechism seems to scrupolously avoid this terminology, focusing on the effects and not cateorizing them as penalties or punishments.  Of course, the new Catechism is far superior, far more well thought out than the Baltimore Catechism was, and so its also possible that the Baltimore Catechism simply did not properly reflect Catholic thought on these matters.


As I have said a millions times, and will say again, though the New Catechism doesn't teach heresy or anything like that, but it waters down Catholic doctrine and dogma. The Catholic doctrine of Original sin hasn't changed, its just been watered down a little for ecumenism.

Too many non-Catholics are hopeful as they see Catholic teaching being watered down and made more compatible with the teaching of their Churches, until they realize the dogmas and doctrines haven't been changed whatsoever.
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2004, 04:09:40 PM »

"As I have said a millions times, and will say again, though the New Catechism doesn't teach heresy or anything like that, but it waters down Catholic doctrine and dogma. The Catholic doctrine of Original sin hasn't changed, its just been watered down a little for ecumenism."

Well, maybe.  I'm not going to argue about that.  But it seems to me that it is at least possible that a source that takes five paragraphs to describe something as complex as Original Sin, as compared with one that tries to do the same in as many terse sentences, just may be a superior source because it explains the teaching more fully.  The Baltimore Catechism's purpose was to provide terse, tight soundbites that anyone could take away with them ... it was not intended to be an explication of the subtleties around doctrine.  The newer CCC is trying to explain things more fully to take into account the subtleties around the doctrines, and I guess that makes it open to criticism from some because it suggests subtlety and nuance where the prior Reader's Digest version suggested simple definitiveness.

 
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2004, 02:02:36 AM »

Well, maybe.  I'm not going to argue about that.  But it seems to me that it is at least possible that a source that takes five paragraphs to describe something as complex as Original Sin, as compared with one that tries to do the same in as many terse sentences, just may be a superior source because it explains the teaching more fully.  The Baltimore Catechism's purpose was to provide terse, tight soundbites that anyone could take away with them ... it was not intended to be an explication of the subtleties around doctrine.  The newer CCC is trying to explain things more fully to take into account the subtleties around the doctrines, and I guess that makes it open to criticism from some because it suggests subtlety and nuance where the prior Reader's Digest version suggested simple definitiveness.

Ok, I understand that the Baltimore Catechism if brief, it wasn't meant to really examine the doctrines of the Church and explain them and how complex they are. But I still feel that the new Catechism waters down aspects of the Catholic faith that have historicaly caused conflicts with other Churches, the reason for this is clearly ecumenism.

But let us not forget that the new Catechism is not the only source that goes into Original Sin a little more than the Baltimore Catechism does.

The Catholic Encylopedia, printed in 1913, has a good little article on Original Sin:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm

Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote about Orginal Sin in his Summa. Below are a few examples:

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/208200.htm

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/208300.htm

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/208104.htm

And of course Saint Agustine wrote on Orginal Sin:

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15061.htm

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15062.htm

I think with the Baltimore Catechism, the Catholic Encyclopedia, and some of the writtings of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Agustine, one will far better understand and comprehend the Catholic teaching on Orginal Sin than from the new Catechism.
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2008, 02:56:51 PM »

St. Augustine, St. Thomas and the new Catholic encyclopedia are not official teaching on the matter.  The new Catechism is far more authoritative on the matter of original sin.
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