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1617Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Incarnation

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  • Benjamin Harju
    Jun 21, 2010
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      Regarding the Romans 5:12 comment from the Orthodox Study Bible:

      How do you think this contradicts your previous post? The commentary
      from the OSB says that 1) Adam and Eve sinned, 2) this introduced
      death, 3) this death passed to all men [read death as
      mortality/corrupting agent], 4) from this condition of
      death/corruption all men sin. 5) All men bear guilt only for their
      own sins, not Adam's sin.

      Is this not what we've been saying is the Orthodox teaching? Death is
      passed on, not original guilt, but the corruption of mortality which
      finds its origin in Adam's original sin.

      Regarding Fr. Meyendorff's work "Byzantine Theology" I have found an
      online selection of excerpts from this work at


      I include the following relevant portion here:

      The scriptural text, which played a decisive role in the polemics
      between Augustine and the Pelagians, is found in Romans 5:12 where
      Paul speaking of Adam writes, "As sin came into the world through one
      man and through sin and death, so death spreads to all men because all
      men have sinned [eph ho pantes hemarton]" In this passage there is a
      major issue of translation. The last four Greek words were translated
      in Latin as in quo omnes peccaverunt ("in whom [i.e., in Adam] all men
      have sinned"), and this translation was used in the West to justify
      the doctrine of guilt inherited from Adam and spread to his
      descendants. But such a meaning cannot be drawn from the original
      Greek — the text read, of course, by the Byzantines. The form eph ho —
      a contraction of epi with the relative pronoun ho — can be translated
      as "because," a meaning accepted by most modern scholars of all
      confessional backgrounds.22 Such a translation renders Paul’s thought
      to mean that death, which is "the wages of sin" (Rm 6:23) for Adam, is
      also the punishment applied to those who like him sin. It presupposed
      a cosmic significance of the sin of Adam, but did not say that his
      descendants are "guilty" as he was unless they also sinned as he did.

      A number of Byzantine authors, including Photius, understood the eph
      ho to mean "because" and saw nothing in the Pauline text beyond a
      moral similarity between Adam and other sinners in death being the
      normal retribution for sin. But there is also the consensus of the
      majority of Eastern Fathers, who interpret Romans 5:12 in close
      connection with 1 Corinthians 15:22 — between Adam and his descendants
      there is a solidarity in death just as there is a solidarity in life
      between the risen Lord and the baptized. This interpretation comes
      obviously from the literal, grammatical meaning of Romans 5:12. Eph
      ho, if it means "because," is a neuter pronoun; but it can also be
      masculine referring to the immediately preceding substantive thanatos
      ("death"). The sentence then may have a meaning, which seems
      improbable to a reader trained in Augustine, but which is indeed the
      meaning which most Greek Fathers accepted: "As sin came into the world
      through one man and death through sin, so death spread to all men; and
      because of death, all men have sinned..."

      Mortality, or "corruption," or simply death (understood in a
      personalized sense), has indeed been viewed since Christian antiquity
      as a cosmic disease, which holds humanity under its sway, both
      spiritually and physically, and is controlled by the one who is "the
      murderer from the beginning" (Jn 8:44). It is this death, which makes
      sin inevitable and in this sense "corrupts" nature.

      I hope this helps. Btw, the site linked above is well worth the time
      to read it.

      In Christ,
      Benjamin Harju

      Oruaseht wrote:
      Further, a point in the Orthodox Study Bible says this on 5:12 -

      " For Adam and Eve, sin came first, and this led to death. This death
      then spread to all men. The rest of humanity inherits death, and then
      in our mortal state, we all sin. Thus, all mankind suffers the
      consequences of Adam's "original sin." However, the Orthodox Church
      rejects any teaching that would assign guilt to all mankind for Adam's
      sin. We indeed suffer the consequences of others' sins, but we carry
      guilt only for our own sins. "

      This basically contradicts what I originally posted (and by extension,
      1 Cor 15:56) about how the Orthodox view the progression of sin/death
      (or death/sin) in the Garden. However, maybe there is something I'm
      missing. Perhaps the mind of the Church could further illuminate us on
      this passage.

      On 6/21/10, Oruaseht <oruaseht@...> wrote:
      > I agree that the next step in our discussion is a thorough study of the
      > differences in Lutheran and Orthodox fallen/free will understanding.
      > However, before that jump, I need to clarify some of my Confessional
      > friend's comments here.
      > In the FC, we have it said that God made and still makes people holy, pure,
      > and sinless. Yet, people are so "thoroughly corrupted" by sin that for all
      > intents and purposes, Lutherans believe in *total depravity* (true, a
      > Calvinist distinction, but essentially, Lutherans believe it to be true -
      > explanation of the third article Apostles' Creed in the Small Catechism). Is
      > there then, within the Confessions, a contradiction, theological smudge on
      > this issue? Or is what my friend said correct? Humanity on this side of
      > heaven is a paradox of good and corruption that renders us *totally
      > depraved*?
      > Is this just simply a concern about semantics (Lutherans using Calvinist
      > terms, fogging the issue) or are the Confessions wrong?
      > --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, Benjamin Harju
      > <benjamin.harju@...> wrote:
      >> From what I learned and researched as a Lutheran, that's exactly spot
      >> on. As far as Lutheran theology being fairly represented, that is as
      >> fair as it gets. The issue in the Lutheran Confessions regarding
      >> inherited sin is always corruption of what God made good. In the
      >> context of our conversation here, though, the issue is not about man's
      >> depravity, but his *total* depravity, a term that reflects Calvinistic
      >> teachings. To say that the nature that is entirely corrupted is
      >> actually Totally Depraved is to mix specific terminology from the
      >> Calvinist camp into the Lutheran camp, which may confuse the issue.
      >> Someone has hinted to me that the issue at hand - is Total Depravity
      >> really a Lutheran doctrine? - lies in the area of the fallen will.
      >> In Christ,
      >> Benjamin Harju
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