Friend Intrigued Latin,
In order to understand the Orthodox point of view you have to let your self to be drawn away from Augustinian thinking.
I would say that you have to experience the Orthodox baptism, because it is a living reality.
You have to see the whole image, not just a part of the image.
St. Athanasius says in his essay "On the Incarnation of the Word
"For God is good, or rather is essentially the source of goodness: nor could one that is good be niggardly of anything: whence, grudging existence to none, He has made all things out of nothing by His own Word, Jesus Christ our Lord. And among these, having taken especial pity, above all things on earth, upon the race of men, and having perceived its inability, by virtue of the condition of its origin, to continue in one stay, He gave them a further gift, and He did not barely create man, as He did all the irrational creatures on the earth, but made them after His own image, giving them a portion even of the power of His own Word; so that having as it were a kind of reflexion of the Word, and being made rational, they might be able to abide ever in blessedness, living the true life which belongs to the saints in paradise. But knowing once more how the will of man could sway to either side, in anticipation He secured the grace given them by a law and by the spot where He placed them. For He brought them into His own garden, and gave them a law: so that, if they kept the grace and remained good, they might still keep the life in paradise without sorrow or pain or care besides having the promise of incorruption in heaven; but that if they transgressed and turned back, and became evil, they might know that they were incurring that corruption in death which was theirs by nature: no longer to live in paradise, but cast out of it from that time forth to die and to abide in death and in corruption.
Now this is that of which Holy Writ also gives warning, saying in the Person of God: “Of every tree that is in the garden, eating thou shalt eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall not eat of it, but on the day that ye eat, dying ye shall die.” But by “dying ye shall die,” what else could be meant than not dying merely, but also abiding ever in the corruption of death?"
Let me point out some of Athanasius statements: Man was created having a mortal nature, in a created universe that came out of nothingness. What made the paradise to be Holy and imperishable was God's providence, not its nature. So we have a created being, Adam having a normal mortal human nature, to participate "in the life in paradise without sorrow or pain or care besides having the promise of incorruption in heaven".
So there is a specific thing that is missing from the Augustinian thinking, that the first Paradise was not the natural environment for Adam. The incorruption was a "promise" even for Adam, because as we chant in Orthodox Church " You(God) exist as the Only Immortal".
When Adam tried to become God by his own status, God said Genesis 3:22-23 "...and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken."
. Using this deportation God protects the humanity of entering the hell that devil lives in. The providence of God took care so that man may live according to his own mortal nature in order not
to give him the chance to "live forever" as a being with no deification.
This is the key point to comprehend "the Original Sin" as you called it: As we experience our mortal imperfect natural selves, this makes us not being in hell with the devil, at the present time. Because this is the actual hell that devil experiences now and for ever: to be immortal, to be in a life without natural pain and imperfections and to be in NO PERSONAL RELATION with God.
One may say that this reality of mortality and of the imperfection of human nature, as a creation originated from nothingness is the "Original Sin" that you are referring to. It is not a "sin" as an action of disobedience; it is the self confinement of man to his original status. It is the disproval of the "promise of incorruption in heaven" in the mirror of our selves that have such an inexistent origin.
Once such a truth - because this self realization of man as a being having a mortal nature is actually a truth that nobody can deny - was made apparent, everyone had to accept it. No man could prove that he was immortal. So Deuteronomy 24:16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin
. Remember that "sin" here is the nature of man that is mortal. For this, Apostle Paul said 1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
Man had the need to overcome his own nature, in order to avoid death, so he had to learn to accept to live according to his mortal nature and this made him to become under the Law. But the obedience to the Law and man's repentance had no power to change reality, because as St. Athanasius says: "...Now, if there were merely a misdemeanour in question, and not a consequent corruption, repentance were well enough. But if, when transgression had once gained a start, men became involved in that corruption which was their nature, and were deprived of the grace which they had, being in the image of God, what further step was needed? or what was required for such grace and such recall, but the Word of God, which had also at the beginning made everything out of nought?
For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us before. For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to shew loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery-lest the creature should perish, and His Father's handiwork in men be spent for nought-He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear . For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well. But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling. And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father-doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that, firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord's body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers), and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire" "
In this context the "Original Sin" is the created nature of ourselves that it is not sinful as in having the evil within, but became "sinful" at the moment that Adam realised that what he though as his
immortal natural life, that could have lived for ever as a god(eating from the tree), was actually his mortal nature. This natural mortality that nobody after Adam can deny produces the "sin".A distorted notion of human "immortality" is somehow be embedded in the minds of most Christians
. They think that the natural status of man is not to die, and that sin has introduced death into human life. This is mainly due to platonic influences that support the origin of man from the perfect "mind" of Godhead. So being a perfect creation from a perfect "mind" man also ought to be perfect by all means, he should also be immortal
. In this context death has to be an un-natural visitor that was added to humans by some external cause. So under this Augustinian/platonic notion of creation, the Catholic church made the "original sin" the corner-stone of its anthropology. This is not the case for the Orthodox anthropoly
. According to Orthodox Church Fathers, man was created as a perfect creation. He was perfect not because he was created immortal and sinless and incorrupt, but because he, alone from all visible creation in the universe, had the gift of God, being created after the image of the Word, to participate in the Immortality, Sinlessness and Incorruption that only God is by His nature
, man being a mere being created from nothingness.
In Christians baptism the sins are washed away in the sense that St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
55 "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?"
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.This "sting of death", that is sin, is destroyed by the Holy Baptism.
As you understand there is no "original sin" in the context of guilt or judicature.
We are not paying for our fathers deeds, we just accept the fact that we are mortal humans as they were, and that for this reason we are under the power of death, as they were. In baptism we accept this reality, we accept to die as humans by our nature in order to live in Christ by Grace. This acceptance of human death (in Christ) is the freedom from tyranny of sin.