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JamesRottnek
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Sin
« on: January 13, 2013, 05:37:06 AM »

I am not actually sure where to post this, so I thought I'd put it here.  Mods, please feel free to move this to wherever.

I am wondering whether or not anyone can give me sources/writings to go to in the Fathers and other theologians (modern and ancient) where they discuss the nature of sin and what, exactly, is sinful (that is, I don't mean "X is a sinful thing," but more along the lines of "Sin is X," or "Something is a sin because of X.").  I'd also welcome responses from those of non-Orthodox traditions.
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2013, 06:40:18 AM »

Sin = Something that goes against your conscience?...Or the opposite of what your conscience is telling you to do?..
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2013, 06:51:24 AM »

Sin=forsake God?Somthing against God/love?
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2013, 08:05:54 AM »

A couple texts that might be of interest to you...

St. John Cassian - Conference 23
St. John Chrysostom - Homily 11 on Second Corinthians
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2013, 03:03:58 PM »

Some quotes can be found here, which may give you leads on further discussion of this.
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2013, 05:08:53 PM »

Thanks *.  And just to be clear to everyone else, I am not looking for short statements of your opinions, or even necessarily your opinions (unless you can provide theological texts to back them up), but rather theological works/homilies/Churchly writings, on the subject.
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2013, 05:24:55 PM »

Sinning is living in a state apart from God, His Commandments, and His Holy Church.
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2013, 05:36:43 PM »

Again, I am looking for theological works on the subject, or that address the subject indirectly or briefly, not really for brief statements of opinion or even brief statements of official Church teaching..
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2013, 10:31:28 AM »

BUMP
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2013, 12:30:39 PM »

Repentance and Confession 
Saint Nektarios
Paperback: 63 pages
Publisher: Saint Nektarios Monastary Publ (2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0972550402
ISBN-13: 978-0972550406


Orthodox Psychotherapy
Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos
Paperback: 369 pages
Publisher: Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece (January 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 9607070275
ISBN-13: 978-9607070272

Portions may be online here:http://www.greekorthodoxchurch.org/orthodox_psychotherapy.html
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2013, 11:08:56 PM »

I looked around a bit more, and these four homilies of St. John Chrysostom might be of some interest. Not sure that it's exactly what you're looking for, but it's the best I could come up with this go-around.

St. John Chrysostom - Homily 10 on Romans
St. John Chrysostom - Homily 11 on Romans
St. John Chrysostom - Homily 12 on Romans
St. John Chrysostom - Homily 13 on Romans
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2013, 12:16:40 AM »

Thank you both, very much.
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2013, 02:22:46 AM »

Not sure if you want just book references or actual quotes, but I typed one out for you.  Not sure if we are allowed to do that or not as I haven't read all the various nooks and crannies of the forum.  I'm one of those people who doesn't like to read the directions, except when it comes to God.  Please let me know if posting this is unacceptable, and forgive me.

You are probably aware the Orthodox Church has only three saints with the title of Theologian.

This starts from the beginning, fundamental falling away. 

Might be good to start at the beginning.

There are three who are given the title Theologian, one of which is St. Symeon the New Theologian, from On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses

On Adam's Trangression and Exile

The first pair stripped of Glory and cast out of Paradise.

It is thus the case that Adam was created with an incorruptible body, though one which was material and not yet spiritual, and was established by God the Creator as the immortal king of an incorrupt world, and I mean by the latter everything under heaven and not just Paradise.  God had given them a law, however, commanding them not to eat of that one tree.  Adam chose not to believe the words which his Maker and Lord had spoken to him:  “In the day that you eat of it you shall die” [Gen 2.17], but was persuaded instead by the crooked serpent who told him: “You will not die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil…and he ate” [3.4-6].  Immediately, he was stripped of his incorruptible vesture and glory, and clothed with the nakedness of mortality.  On seeing himself naked, he hid himself and sewed together fig leaves to wrap around his waist in order to try to hide his shame.  Then, when God calls to him, “Adam, where are you?” he answers, “I heard your voice and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” [3.9-10].  And God tries to bring him to repentance by asking; “And who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  But Adam will not admit that he has sinned.  Instead, he tries to put the blame on God Who had made all things “very good” and says; “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” [3.11-12].  And the woman in her turn ascribes blame to the serpent, and because both of them absolutely would not repent and fall down before their Master to ask His forgiveness, He removes them and throws them out of the royal palace, the dwelling-place of nobility—I mean Paradise—so that they must live afterwards on this earth as foreigners and exiles.

“And immediately He ordered the flaming sword to guard the entry to the tree of life” [Gen. 3.24].  This does not mean that on the future day of their restoration they are to be brought back to this perceptible and material Paradise.  For the garden is not still guarded to the present day for this reason, nor is it on this account that God did not curse it.  Rather, He wills to hold it out to us as a type of the indissoluble life to come, and icon of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.  If this were not the case, then the Garden, too, would have had to be cursed, since it was the scene of the transgression.  However, God does not do this, but instead curses all the rest of the earth which, as we have said, was incorruptible, just like Paradise, and produced fruit of its own accord.  In order that Adam, on leaving Paradise, should not have an untroubled life, free of labor and sweat, God cursed the earth beforehand, saying:

Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you;  and you shall eat the plants of the field [set aside for wild beasts and dumb animals].  In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground;  for out of you were taken;  you are dust, and to dust you shall return. [3.17-19]
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2013, 02:24:37 AM »

St. Symeon the New Theologian, On Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses vol. 1 The Church and the Last Things

Whole creation subjected unwillingly to the fallen Adam

     It was therefore altogether fitting that Adam, who had been brought down to corruption and death by his own transgression, should inhabit an earth become in like manner transitory and mortal, and that he should worthily partake of its food.  Since unrestricted pleasure, and an incorrupt and effortless way of life had led him to forget that every good thing had come from God, and had brought him to despise the commandment which had been given him, he was justly condemned to work the earth with effort and sweat, and to draw from it, as from some niggardly steward of an estate, his daily bread.  Do you see how the earth now cursed and deprived of spontaneous germination, received the transgressor?  What for and why?  So that, worked by him with labor and sweat, it should provide its fruits in a manner proportionate to his needs, but, without cultivation, that it should remain without fruit, productive only of thorns and thistles.  Therefore, indeed, when it saw him leave Paradise, all of the created world which God had brought out of non-being into existence no longer wished to be subject to the transgressor.  The sun did not want to shine by day, nor the moon by night, nor the stars to be seen by him.  The springs of water did not want to well up for him, nor the rivers to flow.  The very air itself thought about contracting itself and not providing breath for the rebel.  The wild beasts and all the animals of the earth saw him stripped of his former glory and, despising him, immediately turned savagely against him.  The sky was moving as if to fall justly down on him, and the very earth would not endure bearing him upon its back.

What then?  God Who created all and made, man, Who knew before the world was made that Adam would transgress the commandment, and Who had fore-ordained the man’s re-birth and re-creation through the birth into the flesh of His only-begotten Son, what does God do here?  He Who holds all things together by His own power and compassion and goodness, now suspends the assault of all creation, and straightaway subjects all of it to Adam as before.  He wills that creation served man for whom it was made, and like him become corruptible, so that when again man is renewed and becomes spiritual, incorruptible, and immortal, then creation, too, now subjected to the rebel by God’s command and made his slave, will be freed from its slavery and, together with man, be made new, and become incorruptible and wholly spiritual.  For this is what the all-compassionate God and Lord had fore-ordained from before the foundation of the world.
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« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2013, 02:25:17 AM »

St. Symeon the New Theologian, On Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses vol. 1 The Church and the Last Things


Adam’s descendants defile creation with idolatry

     After these things had come to pass thus because of God’s wisdom, Adam, cast out of Paradise, begot his children, lived his life, and died.  So likewise did his descendants do.  The men of that time had a recent memory of the Fall, being taught about it in any case by Adam and Eve, and they therefore held God in reverence and honored Him as their Master.  It was on account of this reverence that Abel and Cain offered sacrifices of their possessions to God.  It is written that God accepted the offering and sacrifice of Abel, but not yet that of Cain.  And Cain, knowing this, was grieved unto death, it is said, and from there was led even to the envy and murder of his brother.  Enoch, however, later so pleases God that he is taken away by Him from the earth, as Elijah is carried up afterwards in the fiery chariot.  In these latter instances God showed that if, even after His decision against Adam and Adam’s see was carried out, if, even after Adam’s exile, the latter’s sons should prove well-pleasing to Him, then He would honor them with a translation from the earth or with long life.  Now if He delivered them from corruption, that is, from returning to the earth and descending into hell—them who were afterwards fated to die or, more truly speaking, be transformed—then how much greater would Adam’s glory and honor and welcome with God have been if he had not transgressed the commandment, or if transgressing, had repented and been allowed to remain in Paradise?

Thus for years knowledge about God was transmitted through a succession of teachers, and the ancients recognized their Creator.  Later, though, when men had multiplied, and from their youth had turned their thoughts to evil, they were dragged down to forgetfulness and ignorance of God Who had made them, and worshipped not only idols and demons as gods, but even deified that very creation which God had given them for their service.  They gave themselves up to every debauchery and unclean activity, soiling the earth, the air, the sky, and everything beneath it by their unnatural practices.  For nothing else so soils the work of God and makes unclean what is clean as the deification of creation and the worshipping of it as equal to God the Creator and Maker.  Thus all creation, defiled now and worshipped by man, is soiled and brought down to complete corruption.  When, therefore, wickedness was complete, and all were imprisoned together in disobedience, according to the holy Apostle [Rom 11.32], then God, the Son of God, descended upon earth to re-fashion the one who had been broken, to bring him to life who had died, and to call His own creature back from delusion.

Now, pay attention, I beg you, to my exact words here, for I would have this treatise be useful to future generations.  We will require the use of images in order to contemplate the Incarnation of the Word and His ineffable birth from Mary the ever-Virgin, and in order to know truly the mystery of the economy from on high, which was hidden before the ages, for the salvation of the world. 
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« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2013, 06:40:41 AM »

@Irini, source, please.
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« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2013, 07:16:38 AM »

I am not actually sure where to post this, so I thought I'd put it here.  Mods, please feel free to move this to wherever.

I am wondering whether or not anyone can give me sources/writings to go to in the Fathers and other theologians (modern and ancient) where they discuss the nature of sin and what, exactly, is sinful (that is, I don't mean "X is a sinful thing," but more along the lines of "Sin is X," or "Something is a sin because of X.").  I'd also welcome responses from those of non-Orthodox traditions.

Great thread!!!  Thank you for getting it going!  I, too, will be paying attention!
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2013, 10:02:56 AM »

@Irini, source, please.

Good morning Michal,  

Not sure why you are asking for a source?  The title and author are listed.  Do you want the publisher?  It's SVS Press.  I just typed it out from a book for James during a little break I took from work.  

I will go back and bold and italicize the author and title.  Please let me know specifically what you require as to source?  Of course ultimately it's God, but for the workaday world and copyright, it's St. Symeon the New Theologian.

Edit: The computer is not giving me an option to modify anything.  The author and title are listed in all three sets.
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2013, 11:03:00 PM »

From my mailing list:

…should we fall, we should not despair and so estrange ourselves from the Lord's love. For if He so chooses, He can deal mercifully with our weakness. Only we should not cut ourselves off from Him or feel oppressed when constrained by His commandments, nor should we lose heart when we fall short of our goal...let us always be ready to make a new start. If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again. Only do not abandon your Physician, lest you be condemned as worse than a suicide because of your despair. Wait on Him, and He will be merciful, either reforming you, or sending you trials, or through some other provision of which you are ignorant.  St. Peter of Damascus
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2013, 03:47:47 AM »

@Irini, source, please.

Good morning Michal, 

Not sure why you are asking for a source?  The title and author are listed.  Do you want the publisher?  It's SVS Press.  I just typed it out from a book for James during a little break I took from work. 

I stand corrected. I thought you had copied it from some website and that would require a link to the original source.
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« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2013, 06:12:22 AM »

Prison letter by Valeriu Gafencu from Targu-Ocna prison in Romania:

From: Saint of the Prisons
ISBN: 978-973-1801-59-9

Aiud, 29 January 1946

     Life is something other than what people imagine.  Man himself is something other than what he imagines himself to be.  The Truth is something other than what the human mind imagines.

     I want to be sincere and open, down to the deepest fibers of my soul.  From the very moment in which I first set foot in prison, I wondered why I was locked up.  In the realm of social life, regarding my relations with the world in which I lived, I was always considered to be someone very good, an example of moral conduct.  If I entered into conflict with anyone, it was only for the sake of Truth.  After much struggle and unrest, after much pain, when the sup of suffering had filled up. There came a holy day in June 1943, when I fell to the ground, on my knees, my forehead to the floor, my heart crushed, in an outburst of tears.  I asked God to grant me light.  On that day, I had lost all confidence in Man.  I realized perfectly well that I was in truth, so why then was I suffering?  In all my soul full of spirited self-assurance there had remained only love.  No one understood me.

     In my prolonged weeping I started to do prostration.  And suddenly – O, Lord!  How great art Thou, O Lord! – I saw my entire soul filled with sins.  I found within myself the root of all human sins.  Oh. So many sins, and the eyes of my soul hardened by pride had not seen them!  How great is God!

     Seeing all my sins, I felt the need to shout them out loud, to cast them away from me,  And a deep peace, a deep wave of light and love poured into my heart.  As soon as the door opened, I left my cell and I went to those whom I knew loved me the most and to those who hated me and had sinned the most against me and I confessed to them openly and plainly, “I am the most sinful man.  I don’t dserved the trust of even the lowliest of men.  I am blessed!”  

     Everyone was dumbfounded.  Some of them looked at me with contempt, others with indifference, and some looked at me with a love that they themselves would not have been able to explain.  Only one single person said to me, “You deserve to be kissed!”  But I fled back quickly to my cell, buried my head in my pillow and continued weeping while thanking and glorifying God.

     On that day, I began a conscientious struggle with sin.  If you could only know how difficult the war with sin is!  I want you to know that I struggled very much with sin not only here, but also when I was free.  [Here he testifies that, although he was tempted physically, he did not fall, but remained pure.]

     In prison, I examined my soul and I realized that, even though I had not sinned in deed, I had sinned in word and especially in thought.  After a deep examination of conscience, I went to a priest and confessed.  My confession unburdened me.  

     And I carry on a continuous struggle.  The struggle does not cease with death.  Without repentance no one can take even one step forward.   Anyone who flees from the reality of his own soul is a liar.  What is life?  It is a gift from God that is given to us in order to purify our souls from sin and to prepare ourselves, through Christ, to receive eternal life.  What is Man?  A being created through the limitless love of God and to whom God gave the choice between holiness and death.

     Be very careful!  In social life, people regard each other and judge each other not according to what they are in essence, but according to what they seem to be in form.  Have no illusions about Man – anyone who does will suffer bitterly – but love him.  Only one is perfect.  Only one is good, only one is pure:  Christ God!


     And now: What is the Truth?  The Truth is Christ, the Word of God.  Seek to draw near to Christ sincerely and leave the world and its sins in peace!



Edit: for spacing
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« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2013, 06:20:33 AM »

Irini, thank you for posting this!  Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2013, 06:25:05 AM »

Irini, thank you for posting this!  Smiley

You're welcome.  Thank you for your posts too, I enjoy them very much.
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