Original sin

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The term Original Sin (or first sin) is used among all Christian churches to define the doctrine surrounding Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22, in which Adam is identified as the man whom through death came into the world. How this is interpreted is believed by many to be a fundamental difference between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Churches. In the Orthodox Church the term ancestral sin (Gr. προπατορικό αμάρτημα) is preferred and is used to define the doctrine of man's "inclination towards sin, a heritage from the sin of our progenitors" and that this is removed through baptism. St. Gregory Palamas taught that man's image was tarnished, disfigured, as a consequence of Adam's disobedience.

Contents

Discussion

In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, Adam and Eve committed a sin, the original sin. The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that no one is guilty for the actual sin they committed but rather everyone inherits the consequences of this act; the foremost of this is physical death in this world. This is the reason why the original fathers of the Church over the centuries have preferred the term ancestral sin. The consequences and penalties of this ancestral act are transferred by means of natural heredity to the entire human race. Since every human is a descendant of Adam then 'no one is free from the implications of this sin' (which is human death) and that the only way to be freed from this is through baptism.

In contrast to Jewish exegesis of Genesis, Christianity has a Christological reading. We understand the depth of the Fall in the light of redemption. It is in the contrast of the old and new Adams that we understand what the significance of original sin has been.

Mortality is certainly a result of the Fall, but along with this also what is termed "concupiscence" in the writings of St Augustine of Hippo -- this is the "evil impulse" of Judaism, and in Orthodoxy, we might say this is our "disordered passion." It isn't only that we are born in death, or in a state of distance from God, but also that we are born with disordered passion within us.

Orthodoxy would not describe the human state as one of "total depravity" (see Cyril Lucaris however). One writer has said that "if Latin babies are born blind, and Pelagian babies are born with 20/20 vision, then Greek babies are born in need of spectacles" (ref?).

Orthodox Christians have usually understood Roman Catholicism as professing St. Augustine's teaching that everyone bears not only the consequence, but also the guilt, of Adam's sin. This teaching appears to have been confirmed by multiple councils, the first of them being the Council of Orange in 529. This difference between the two Churches in their understanding of the original sin was one of the doctrinal reasons underlying the Catholic Church's declaration of its dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the 19th century, a dogma that is rejected by the Orthodox Church. However, contemporary Roman Catholic teaching is best explicated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which includes this sentence: ""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" (§405).

Sources and further reading

From Ephrem Hugh Bensusan's Razilaženje

See also

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