Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ancestral Sin - Quotations From Orthodox Holy Fathers and Contemporary Authors

“This is because Adam, when he ate from the tree which God had forbidden him to eat of, suffered the death of his soul as soon as he transgressed, but that of the body only many years later. Christ therefore first raised up, vivified, and deified the soul which had suffered first the punishment of death, and then, to the body condemned by the ancient judgment to return to the earth in death, He granted the reception of incorruptibility through the Resurrection.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Ethical Discourses 1, SVS Press, Volume 1, Page 33)

“God willed from the very beginning to make His own good ours as well. He bestowed free will on the first created couple, our ancestors, and through them on us. This was in order that, not from sorrow or necessity, but as moved by a favorable disposition they should follow His commandment and do it with joy. Thus they would be accounted as having acquired the virtues by their own efforts, in order to offer them up as their gift to the Master and so progressively be led up by them to the perfect image and likeness of God, and approach the Unapproachable without suffering bodily death or the danger of being consumed by His fire, and one by one, generation upon generation, draw near to Him. But since the first couple submitted first to the will of the enemy and became transgressors of God’s commandment, they not only fell away from the greater hope, which is to say, from entering into the Light itself which neither fades nor has an evening, but were changed as well into corruption and death. They fell into lightless darkness and, becoming slaves to the prince of the dark and ruled over by him, they entered through sin into the darkness of death. Later we, too, who were born of them stooped to the will of this tyrant and were enslaved. This did not happen by compulsion, as is shown clearly by those who lived before the Law and under the Law and were found as well-pleasing because they dedicated their own will to the Master, and not to the devil.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Ethical Discourses 10, SVS Press, Volume 1, Pages 143-144)

“Partaking of the fruit, he was entirely deprived of all those good and heavenly things and was lowered to the impassioned sensations of earthly and visible creatures. And, to repeat myself, he became deaf, blind, insensible in relation to that from which he had fallen. At once become mortal, corruptible and irrational, he became like the beasts which are without intelligence, in accordance with the prophet who cried: `He is become like the beasts without intellect and is like them.’” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Ethical Discourses 13, SVS Press, Volume 2, Pages 165-166)

“To such ignorance of God and His divine commandments were they brought down who were begotten of dust from the man of dust, that the honor which they ought to have rendered to God they gave instead to this visible creation, and not just to earth and sky and sun, moon and stars, fire and water and the rest, but they even made gods of those shameful passions themselves which ought not even to be imagined, let alone practiced, and which God has forbidden them…by which the whole race of mankind was and is enslaved, by which the devil has made and makes us his slaves and subject to his control. Whence, even if there were someone among those thousands and tens of thousands who had not stooped to these shameful ordinances and precepts, since he, too, because of his descent from the seed of those who had sinned, was yet a slave of the tyrant, death, he would also be given over to its corruption and sent without mercy to hell. There was no one, you see, who was able to save and redeem him. For this very reason, therefore, God the Word Who had made us had pity on us and came down.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Ethical Discourses 13, SVS Press, Volume 2, Page 167)

“For since Adam’s transgression we are all subject to the passions because of our constant association with them. We do not gladly pursue goodness, nor do we long for the knowledge of God, nor do we do good our of love, as the dispassionate do; instead we cling to our passions and our vices and do not aspire at all to do what is good unless constrained by fear of punishment. And this is the case with those who receive God’s word with faith and purpose. The rest of us do not even aspire to this extent, but we regard the afflictions of this life and the punishments to come as of no account and are wholeheartedly enslaved to our passions.” (St. Peter of Damaskos, “A Treasury of Divine Knowledge”, Book 1, Introduction, Philokalia 3:77, Translated from the Greek by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“Consider the wisdom and power of the Creator and how He has produced such multiple states of being simply by summoning them into existence, St. Gregory the Theologian says that God conceived first the angelic powers and then the states sequent to them. As St. Isaac says, on passing spiritually beyond the threshold—that is to say, beyond the veil of the temple—one becomes immaterial. The outer part of the temple represents this world; the veil or the threshold represents the firmament of heaven; the holy of holies represents the supracosmic realm where the bodiless and immaterial powers ceaselessly hymn God and intercede for us, as St. Athanasios the Great says…As St. Kosmas the Hymnographer says, `When the first man tasted the tree, he was commixed with corruption: cast out ignobly from life and with a body subject to corruption, he passed on this punishment to all mankind. But we, the earth-born, restored through the wood of the Cross, cry aloud: Blessed art Thou and praised above all for ever.” (St. Peter of Damaskos, Seventh Stage of Contemplation, Philokalia, Volume 3, Page 142, Translated from the Greek and Edited By: G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“When, using the woman as his accomplice, the devil deceived Adam, he divested him of the glory that enveloped him. Thus Adam found himself naked and perceived his disfigurement, of which he had been unaware until that moment since he had delighted his mind with celestial beauty. After his transgression, on the other hand, his thoughts became base and material, and the simplicity and goodness of his mind were intertwined with evil worldly concerns. The closing of paradise, and the placing of the cherubim with the burning sword to prevent his entrance, must be regarded as actual events; but they are also realities encountered inwardly be each soul. A veil of darkness—the fire of the worldly spirit—surrounds the heart, preventing the intellect from communing with God, and the soul from praying, believing and loving the Lord as it desires to do.” (St. Makarios of Egypt, “Patient Endurance and Discrimination”, 37, Philokalia 3:300, Translated from the Greek by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“The ancestral sin is that man withdrew from God, lost divine grace, and this resulted in blindness, darkness and death of the nous. We can say more accurately that `the fall of man or the state of having inherited sin is: a) the failure of his noetic power to function soundly or even to function at all, b) the confusion of this power with the functions of the brain and of the body in general, and c) its resulting subjection to mental anguish and to the surrounding conditions. Every person has experience of the fall or his own noetic power to varying degrees, as he is exposed to an environment in which this power is not functioning or is below par… Malfunctioning of the noetic power results in bad relations between man and God and between people. It also results in the individual’s making use of both God and fallen man to fortify his personal safety and happiness. This loss of the grace of God deadened man’s nous; his whole nature sickened, and he handed this sickness on to his descendants as well. In Orthodox teaching this is how we understand the inheritance of sin. The Fathers interpret St. Paul’s `as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners’ (Rom. 5, 19) not in legal terms but `medically’. That is to say, human nature became sick. St. Cyril of Alexandria interprets the situation thus: `After Adam fell by sin and sank into corruption, at once impure pleasures rushed in, and the law of the jungle sprang up in our members. So nature became sick with sin through the disobedience of one, Adam. Then the many became sinners, not as fellow transgressors with Adam, for they did not even exist, but as being of that nature which had fallen under the law of sin…Human nature in Adam became sick through the corruption of disobedience, and thus the passions entered into it.’ In another place the same Father uses the image of the root. Death came to the whole human race by Adam, `just as when the root of a plant is injured, all the young shoots that come from it must whither.’ St. Gregory Palamas says characteristically: `The nous which has rebelled against God becomes either bestial or demonic and, after having rebelled against the laws of nature, lusts after what belongs to others…’ Through the `rite of birth in God’, holy baptism, man’s nous is illuminated, freed from slavery to sin and the devil, and is united to God. That is why baptism is called illumination.” (”Orthodox Psychotherapy—The Science of the Fathers”, Pages 36-37, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos Vlachos, Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1997)

“Fr. Harakas, just what is Original Sin? You are certainly entitled to ask. Few teachings of the Church have been subject to so many misinterpretations. Some churches and religious traditions understand the meaning of Original Sin as inherited guilt, others as social disorder, others as sexual intercourse, and so on. In his book Original Sin (To Propatorikon Amartema), Fr. John Romanides explains the Eastern Orthodox position. Original Sin is the condition in which humanity finds itself as separated from true and full communion with God. As a consequence, our human nature is distorted. Our mind is darkened; our will weakened, our desires rampant; our judgment impaired; our relationships with others in constant tension. In short, we are in a condition which is disturbed and distorted. It is a condition which calls for redemption since we cannot remove ourselves from it by our own effort. The Church proclaims that it is Christ who has redeemed us from Original Sin through His death and resurrection. Through Baptism, we are freed from the determining power of this condition of separatedness from God. As a result of our membership in the Church we are given the potential of restoring our proper relationship to God, our neighbor and our own selves.” (Father Stanley S. Harakas, “The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers”, Pages 238-239, Light and Life Publishing Co., 1987)

“And they `delight’ indeed `in the law of God after the inner man,’ which soars above all visible things and ever strives to be united to God alone, but they `see another law in their members,’ i.e., implanted in their natural human condition, which `resisting the law of their mind,’ brings their thoughts into captivity to the forcible law of sin, compelling them to forsake that chief good and submit to earthly notions, which though they may appear necessary and useful when they are taken up in the interests of some religious want, yet when they are set against that good which fascinates the gaze of all the saints, are seen by them to be bad and such as should be avoided, because by them in some way or other and for a short time they are drawn away from the joy of that perfect bliss. For the law of sin is really what the fall of its first father brought on mankind by that fault of his, against which there was uttered this sentence by the most just Judge: `Cursed is the ground in thy works; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.’ This, I say, is the law, implanted in the members of all mortals, which resists the law of our mind and keeps it back from the vision of God, and which, as the earth is cursed in our works after the knowledge of good and evil, begins to produce the thorns and thistles of thoughts, by the sharp pricks of which the natural seeds of virtues are choked, so that without the sweat of our brow we cannot eat our bread which `cometh down from heaven,’ and which `strengtheneth man’s heart.’ The whole human race in general therefore is without exception subject to this law…Of this also: `But we know that the law is spiritual,’ etc. And this law the Apostle also calls spiritual saying: `But we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.’ For this law is spiritual which bids us eat in the sweat of our brow that `true bread which cometh down from heaven’ but that sale under sin makes us carnal. What, I ask, or whose is that sin? Doubtless Adam’s, by whose fall and, if I may so say, ruinous transaction and fraudulent bargain we were sold. For when he was led astray by the persuasion of the serpent he brought all his descendants under the yoke of perpetual bondage, as they were alienated by taking the forbidden food. For this custom is generally observed between the buyer and seller, that one who wants to make himself over to the power of another, receives from his buyer a price for the loss of his liberty, and his consignment to perpetual slavery. And we can very plainly see that this took place between Adam and the serpent. For by eating of the forbidden tree he received from the serpent the price of his liberty, and gave up his natural freedom and chose to give himself up to perpetual slavery to him from whom he had obtained the deadly price of the forbidden fruit; and thenceforth he was bound by this condition and not without reason subjected all the offspring of his posterity to perpetual service to him whose slave he had become. For what can any marriage in slavery produce but slaves? What then? Did that cunning and crafty buyer take away the rights of ownership from the true and lawful lord? Not so. For neither did he overcome all God’s property by the craft of a single act of deception so that the true lord lost his rights of ownership, who though the buyer himself was a rebel and a renegade, yet oppressed him with the yoke of slavery; but because the Creator had endowed all reasonable creatures with free will, he would not restore to their natural liberty against their will those who contrary to right had sold themselves by the sin of greedy lust. Since anything that is contrary to goodness and fairness is abhorrent to Him who is the Author of justice and piety. For it would have been wrong for Him to have recalled the blessing of freedom granted, unfair for Him to have by His power oppressed man who was free, and by taking him captive, not to have allowed him to exercise the prerogative of the freedom he had received, as He was reserving his salvation for future ages, that in due season the fulness of the appointed time might be fulfilled. For it was right that his offspring should remain under the ancient conditions for so long a time, until by the price of His own blood the grace of the Lord redeemed them from their original chains and set them free in the primeval state of liberty, though He was able even then to save them, but would not, because equity forbade Him to break the terms of His own decree… Of this also: `But I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.’ Because then the original curse of God has made us carnal and condemned us to thorns and thistles, and our father has sold us by that unhappy bargain so that we cannot do the good that we would, while we are torn away from the recollection of God Most High and forced to think on what belongs to human weakness, while burning with the love of purity, we are often even against our will troubled by natural desires, which we would rather know nothing about; we know that in our flesh there dwelleth no good thing viz., the perpetual and lasting peace of this meditation of which we have spoken; but there is brought about in our case that miserable and wretched divorce, that when with the mind we want to serve the law of God, since we never want to remove our gaze from the Divine brightness, yet surrounded as we are by carnal darkness we are forced by a kind of law of sin to tear ourselves away from the good which we know, as we fall away from that lofty height of mind to earthly cares and thoughts, to which the law of sin, i.e., the sentence of God, which the first delinquent received, has not without reason condemned us. And hence it is that the blessed Apostle, though he openly admits that he and all saints are bound by the constraint of this sin, yet boldly asserts that none of them will be condemned for this, saying: `There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus: for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath set me free from the law of sin and death,’ i.e., the grace of Christ day by day frees all his saints from this law of sin and death, under which they are constantly reluctantly obliged to come, whenever they pray to the Lord for the forgiveness of their trespasses. You see then that it was in the person not of sinners but of those who are really saints and perfect, that the blessed Apostle gave utterance to this saying: `For I do not the good that I would, but the evil which I hate, that I do;’ and: `I see another law in my members resisting the law of my mind and bringing me captive to the law of sin which is in my members.’ (St. John Cassian, Third Conference of Abbot Theonas, Chapters 11-13, NPNF II 11:525-527)

“Terror of this kind we experience only when through disobedience we estrange ourselves from the life I am about to describe. This was the fate of Adam when he violated God’s commandments: associating with the serpent and trusting him, he was sated by him with the fruits of deceit (cf. Gen. 3:1-6), and thus wretchedly plunged himself and all those who came after him into the pit of death, darkness and corruption.” (Nikiphoros the Monk, “On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart”, Philokalia 4:194, Translated from the Greek by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“You cannot be or become spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to man in his pre-fallen state unless you first attain purity and freedom from corruption. For our purity has been overlaid by a state of sense-dominated mindlessness, and our original incorruption by the corruption of the flesh. Only those who through their purity have become saints are spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to man in his pre-fallen state. Mere skill in reasoning does not make a person’s intelligence pure, for since the fall our intelligence has been corrupted by evil thoughts.” (St. Gregory of Sinai, “On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; on Thoughts, Passions and Virtues, and also on Stillness and Prayer: One Hundred and Thirty Seven Texts”, 1-2, Philokalia 4:212, Translated from the Greek by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“As the separation of the soul from the body is the death of the body, so the separation of God from the soul is the death of the soul. And this death of the soul is the true death. This is made clear by the commandment given in paradise, when God said to Adam, `On whatever day you eat from the forbidden tree you will certainly die’ (cf. Gen. 2:17). And it was indeed Adam’s soul that died by becoming through his transgression separated from God; for bodily he continued to live after that time, even for nine hundred and thirty years (cf. Gen. 5:5). The death, however, that befell the soul because of the transgression not only crippled the soul and made man accursed; it also rendered the body itself subject to fatigue, suffering and corruptibility, and finally handed it over to death. For it was after the dying of his inner self brought about by the transgression that the earthly Adam heard the words, `Earth will be cursed because of what you do, it will produce thorns and thistles for you.’…Thus the violation of God’s commandment is the cause of all types of death, both of soul and body, whether in the present life or in that endless chastisement. And death, properly speaking, is this: for the soul to be unharnessed from divine grace and to be yoked to sin. This death, for those who have their wits, is truly dreadful and something to be avoided. This, for those who think aright, is more terrible than the chastisement of Gehenna…As the death of the soul is authentic death, so the life of the soul is authentic life. Life of the soul is union with God, as life of the body is union with the soul. As the soul was separated from God and died in consequence of the violation of the commandment, so by obedience to the commandment it is again united to God and is quickened…The death of the soul through transgression and sin, is then, followed by the death of the body and by its dissolution in the earth and its conversion into dust; and this bodily death is followed in its turn by the soul’s banishment to Hades.” (St. Gregory Palamas, “Topics on Natural and Theological Science”, Chapters 9-14, Philokalia 4:296-297, Translated from the Greek by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“After our forefather’s transgression in paradise through the tree, we suffered the death of our soul—which is the separation of the soul from God—prior to our bodily death; yet although we cast away our divine likeness, we did not lose our divine image.” (St. Gregory Palamas, “Topics on Natural and Theological Science”, Chapter 39, Philokalia 4:363, Translated from the Greek by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“Hence—whether out of love for Him who wants us to live (for why would God have created us as living creatures if He did not especially want us to live?), or because we recognize that He knows what is for our profit better than we do (and how could He who grants us knowledge and is the Lord of knowledge not know this incomparably better than we do?), or out of fear for His almighty power—we ought not to have been misled, lured and persuaded at that time into rejecting God’s commandment and counsel; and the same now holds good with regard to those saving commandments and counsels which we later received. Just as now those who do not choose courageously to resist sin, and who set the divine commandments at nought, end up—if they do not renew their souls through repentance—by following a path that leads to inner and eternal death, so our two primal ancestors, by not resisting those who persuaded them to disobey, violated the commandment. Because of this the sentence previously proclaimed to them by Him who judges justly immediately took effect, so that as soon as they ate of the tree they died.” (St. Gregory Palamas, “Topics on Natural and Theological Science”, Chapter 48, Philokalia 4:368, Translated from the Greek by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“Through the fall our nature was stripped of this divine illumination and resplendence.” (St. Gregory Palamas, “Topics on Natural and Theological Science”, Chapter 66, Philokalia 4:376, Translated from the Greek by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber)

“Before Christ we all shared the same ancestral curse and condemnation poured out on all of us from our single Forefather, as if it had sprung from the root of the human race and was the common lot of our nature. Each person’s individual action attracted either reproof or praise from God, but no one could do anything about the shared curse and condemnation, or the evil inheritance that has been passed down to him and through him would pass to his descendants. But Christ came, setting human nature free and changing the common curse into a shared blessing. He took upon Himself our guilty nature from the most pure Virgin and united it, new and unmixed with the old seed, to His Divine Person. He rendered it guiltless and righteous, so that all His spiritual descendants would remain outside the ancestral curse and condemnation. How so? He shares His grace with each one of us as a person, and each receives forgiveness of his sins from Him. For He did not receive from us a human person, but assumed our human nature and renewed it by uniting it with His own Person. His wish was to save us all completely and for our sake He bowed the heavens and came down. When by His deeds, words and Sufferings He had pointed out all the ways of salvation, He went up to heaven again, drawing after Him those who trusted Him. His aim was to grant perfect redemption not just to the nature which He had assumed from us in inseparable union, but to each one of those who believed in Him. This He has done and continues to do, reconciling each of us through Himself to the Father, bringing each one back to obedience and thoroughly healing our disobedience. To this end, He established Holy Baptism and gave us saving laws.” (St. Gregory Palamas, “Homily 5, On the Meeting of Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ”, 1-2, Volume 1, Pages 52-52, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press)

“Lack of self-control is actually an evil both ancient and modern, though it did not precede its antidote, fasting. By means of our Forefathers’ self-indulgence in paradise and their contempt for the fast already in existence there, death entered the world. Sin reigned and brought in the condemnation of our nature from Adam until Christ.” (St. Gregory Palamas, “Homily 6, To Encourage Fasting”, 16, Volume 1, Page 73, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press)

“Man, indeed, can readily accept the evil one. Death has its grip on the children of Adam and their thoughts are imprisoned in darkness. And when you hear mention made of tombs, do not at once think only of visible ones. For your heart is a tomb and a sepulcher. When the prince of evil and his angels have built their nest there and have built roads and highways on which the powers of Satan walk about inside you mind and in your thoughts, then, really, are you not a hell and a sepulcher and a tomb dead to God.” (St. Macarius, “The Fifty Spiritual Homilies”, Homily 11, “Pseudo-Macarius, the Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter”, Page 95, Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press)

“Adam, when he transgressed the commandment, lost two things. First he lost the pure possession of his nature, so lovely, created according to the image and likeness of God. Second, he lost the very image itself in which was laid up for him, according to God’s promise, the full heavenly inheritance. Take the example of a coin bearing the image of the king. If it were mixed with a false alloy and lost its gold content, the image also would lose its value. Such, indeed, happened to Adam. A very great richness and inheritance was prepared for him. It was as though there were a large estate and it possessed many sources of income. It had a fruitful vineyard; there were fertile fields, flocks, gold and silver. Such was the vessel of Adam before his disobedience like a very valuable estate. When, however, he entertained evil intentions and thoughts, he lost God. We nevertheless do not say that he was totally lost and was blotted out of existence and died. He died as far as his relationship with God was concerned, but in his nature, however, he still lives. For look, the whole world still walks on the earth and carries on its business. But God’s eyes see their very minds and thoughts and, as it were, he disregards them and has no communion with them, because nothing that they think is pleasing to God.” (St. Macarius, “The Fifty Spiritual Homilies”, Homily 12, “Pseudo-Macarius, the Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter”, Pages 97-98, Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press)

“In that day, when Adam fell, God came walking in the garden. He wept, so to speak, seeing Adam and he said: `After such good things, what evils you have chosen! After such glory, what shame you now bear! What darkness are you now! What ugly form you are! What corruption! From such light, what darkness has covered you!’ When Adam fell and was dead in the eyes of God, the Creator wept over him. The angels, all the powers, the heavens, the earth and all creatures bewailed his death and fall. For they saw him, who had been given to them as their king, now become a servant of an opposing and evil power. Therefore, darkness became the garment of his soul, a bitter and evil darkness, for he was made a subject of the prince of darkness. This was the person who was wounded by robbers and left half dead as he `was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho’ (Lk 10:30). For Lazarus also, whom the Lord raised up, exuded so fetid an odor that no one could approach his tomb, as a symbol of Adam whose soul exuded such a great stench and was full of blackness and darkness. But you, when you hear about Adam and the wounded traveler and Lazarus, do not let your mind wander as it were into the mountains, but remain within your soul, because you also carry the same wounds, the same smell, the same darkness. We are all his sons of that dark race and we all inherit the same stench. Therefore, the passion that he suffered, all of us, who are of Adam’s seed, suffer also. For such a suffering has hit us, as Isaiah says: `It’s not a wound, nor a bruise, nor an inflamed sore. It is impossible to apply a soothing salve or oil or to make bandages” (Is 1:6). Thus we were wounded with an incurable wound. Only the Lord could heal it. For this he came in his own person because no one of the ancients nor the Law itself nor the prophets were able to heal it. He alone, when he came, healed that sore, the incurable sore of the soul.” (St. Macarius, “The Fifty Spiritual Homilies”, Homily 30, “Pseudo-Macarius, the Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter”, Pages 192-193, Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press)

“The real death takes place interiorly in the heart. It lies hidden. The interior man perishes.” (St. Macarius, “The Fifty Spiritual Homilies”, Homily 15, “Pseudo-Macarius, the Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter”, Page 123, Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press)

“The reign of darkness, the evil prince, after humanity at the beginning was taken captive, surrounded and clothed the soul as if it were a human form with the vestiture of the power of darkness. `And they made him king and they clothed him with regal garments and from head to foot he would walk in royal robes.’ So likewise he clothed the soul and all its substance with sin. That evil prince corrupted it completely, not sparing any of its members from its slavery, not its thoughts, neither the mind nor the body, but he clothed it with the purple of darkness. Just as the whole body suffers and not merely one part alone, so also the entire soul was subjected to the passions of evil and sin. The prince of evil thus clothed the whole soul, which is the chief member and part of humanity, with his own wickedness, that is, with sin. And so the entire body fell a victim to passion and corruption.” (St. Macarius the Great, “The Fifty Spiritual Homilies”, Homily 2, “Pseudo-Macarius, the Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter”, Pages 44-45, Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press)

“Man, then, was thus snared by the assault of the arch-fiend, and broke his Creator’s command, and was stripped of grace and put off his confidence with God, and covered himself with the asperities of a toilsome life (for this is the meaning of the fig-leaves); and was clothed about with death, that is, mortality and the grossness of flesh (for this is what the garment of skins signifies); and was banished from Paradise by God’s just judgment, and condemned to death, and made subject to corruption.” (St. John of Damascus, “Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”, Book 3, Chapter 1, NPNF II 9:45)

“We were freed by holy baptism from ancestral sin [progonikh `amartia].” (St. Maximus the Confessor, Ascet.44, PG 90:956, quoted in: “The Christian Tradition—A History of the Development of Doctrine”, Volume 2 [”The Spirit of Eastern Christendom”], Page 182, Jaroslav Pelikan, Chicago University Press, 1977)

Jaroslav Pelikan writes concerning Maximus’ concept of Ancestral Sin vis-à-vis Augustine’s: “…which sounds very much like the Augustinian doctrine of a sinfulness passed on from Adam to his descendants for all generations. Human nature lost `the grace of impassibility and became sin.’ In other passages, too, Maximus spoke of sin and the fall in an apparently Augustinian fashion. But Maximus’ doctrine, while referring of course to the sin of Adam, did not have in it the idea of the transmission of sin through physical conception and birth. Rather, Maximus saw Adam not as the individual from whom all subsequent human beings sprang by lineal descent, but as the entire human race embodied in one concrete but universal person. In spite of the superficial parallels between the two, therefore, Augustine’s doctrine of man and Maximus’ doctrine were really quite different. Photius recognized that the church fathers had had a twofold anthropology, one praising and the other reviling human nature. In the Eastern tradition this did not lead to the Western view of sin through the fall of Adam, but to a view of death through the fall of Adam, a death that each man merited through his own sin. Thus the hardening of Pharaoh, which Augustine had interpreted as at one and the same time a result of the secret predestination of God and an act of Pharaoh’s own free will, was to Photius a proof that `God, who never does violence to the power of free will, permitted [Pharaoh] to be carried away by his own will when he refused to change his behavior on the basis of better counsel.’ No less striking was the contrast between the Augustinian tradition and the Greek tradition in the understanding of grace and salvation. An epitome of the contrast is the formula of Maximus: `Our salvation finally depends on our own will.’ For `one could not conceive a system of thought more different from Western Augustinianism; and yet Maximus is in no way a Pelagian.’ This is because the dichotomy represented by the antithesis between Pelagianism and Augustinianism was not part of Maximus’ thought. Instead, `his doctrine of salvation is based on the idea of participation and of communion that excludes neither grace nor freedom but supposes their union and collaboration, which were re-established once and for all in the incarnate Word and his two wills.’” (”The Christian Tradition—A History of the Development of Doctrine”, Volume 2 [”The Spirit of Eastern Christendom”], Pages 182-183, Jaroslav Pelikan, Chicago University Press, 1977)

“Following the canonical laws of the Fathers, we decree concerning infants, as often as they are found without trusty witnesses who say that they are undoubtedly baptized; and as often as they are themselves unable on account of their age to answer satisfactorily in respect to the initiatory mystery given to them; that they ought without any offence to be baptized, lest such a doubt might deprive them of the sanctification of such a purification.” (Quinisext Canon 84, NPNF II 14:402)

“The first man, through eating from the tree, went to dwell in corruption: condemned to shameful banishment from life, he fell prey to bodily corruption, which he transmitted to all our kind like some pollution from disease. But the inhabitants of the earth, finding restoration in the wood of the Cross, cry aloud: Blessed art Thou and praised above all, O our God and the God of our Fathers. The breaking of the law of God came through disobedience, and the untimely partaking of the fruit of the tree brought death to mortal men.” (Matins of The Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Canon—Canticle 7, “The Festal Menaion”, Page 149, Mother Mary and Kallistos Ware, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press)

“Today the death that came to man through eating of the tree, is made of no effect through the Cross. For the curse of our mother Eve that fell on all mankind is destroyed by the fruit of the pure Mother of God, whom all the powers of heaven magnify.” (Matins of The Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Canon—Canticle 9, “The Festal Menaion”, Page 151, Mother Mary and Kallistos Ware, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press)

“Jesus, hearken unto me who was conceived in iniquity. Jesus, cleanase me who was born in sin.” (The Akathist Hymn to Jesus Christ, Eta [Ikos 3], “A Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians”, Page 202, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1987)

“Come my wretched soul, and weep today over thine acts, remembering how once thou wast stripped naked in Eden and cast out from delight and unending joy. In thine abundant compassion and mercy, O Fashioner of the creation and Maker of all, Thou hast taken me from the dust and given me life, commanding me to sing Thy praises with Thine angels. In the wealth of Thy goodness, O Creator and Lord, Thou hast planted in Eden the sweetness of Paradise, and bidden me to take my delight in fair and pleasing fruits that never pass away. Woe to thee, my wretched soul! Thou hast received authority from God to take thy pleasure in the joys of Eden, but He commanded thee not to eat of the fruit of knowledge. Why hast thou transgressed the law of God.” (Matins of Forgiveness Sunday, Canon—Canticle 1, “The Lenten Triodion”, Page 171, Mother Maria and Kallistos Ware, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press)

“The effects of man’s fall were both physical and moral. On the physical level human beings became subject to pain and disease, to the debility and bodily disintegration of old age. Woman’s joy in bringing forth new life became mixed with the pangs of childbirth (Gen. 3:16). None of this was part of God’s initial plan for humanity. In consequence of the fall, men and women also became subject to the separation of soul and body in physical death. Yet physical death should be seen, not primarily as a punishment, but as a means of release provided by a loving God. In his mercy God did not wish men to go on living indefinitely in a fallen world, caught for ever in the vicious circle of their own devising; and so he provided a way of escape. For death is not the end of life but the beginning of its renewal…On the moral level, in consequence of the fall human beings became subject to frustration, boredom, depression. Work, which was intended to be a source of joy for man and a means of communion with God, had now to be performed for the most part unwillingly, `in the sweat of the face’ (Gen. 3:19). Nor was this all. Man became subject to inward alienation: weakened in will, divided against himself, he became his own enemy and executioner…The Orthodox tradition, without minimizing the effects of the fall, does not however believe that it resulted in a `total depravity’, such as the Calvinists assert in their more pessimistic moments. The divine image in man was obscured but not obliterated. His free choice has been restricted in its exercise but not destroyed. Even in a fallen world man is still capable of generous self-sacrifice and loving compassion. Even in a fallen world man still retains some knowledge of God and can enter by grace into communion with him. There are many saints in the pages of the Old Testament, men and women such as Abraham and Sarah, Joseph and Moses, Elijah and Jeremiah; and outside the Chosen People of Israel there are figures such as Socrates who not only taught the truth but lived it. Yet it remains true that humans sin—the original sin of Adam, compounded by the personal sins of each succeeding generation—has set a gulf between God and man such that man by his own efforts could not bridge.” (”The Orthodox Way”, Pages 77-80, Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1986)

compiled by Stephen Gagnon of the Evangelical-Orthodox Forum

1 comment:

George said...

[Orignally posted 2006-12-22 @ 7:12:52 pm]

Contrary to Pelikan's assertion, Maximus _did_ believe that ancestral sin was passed through the unavoidable capitulation to the passions that takes place during the act of generation. This was a shock to me, but it's clearly there to be found in the St. Vlad's book "The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ." Sorry that I don't have a page reference, but I am basing this on memory rather than having the book in front of me. This is not to make Maximus into Augustine, but to say that the canard of sexual transmission deserves another look, perhaps, not so easily to be dismissed as a "negative" understanding of human nature.