Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Incarnation
- Randall Hay wrote:
<<By the way, in my two years at Lutheran seminary I was also taught total depravity. >>
Really? What Lutheran Seminary was that? I'm sure it's not possible that you learned incorrectly?
The Lutheran confessions are quite clear that Original Sin, inherited from Adam, is NOT part of mankind's very essence. Rather, sin is a very deep and thorough corruption of our human nature. No one except Christ Jesus, our Lord, can overcome this corruption for us and save us from it. Because of this sin, *spiritually* we are utterly and completely dead. We cannot make any movement towards Christ by reason or strength or believe in Him apart from the faith creating work of the Holy Spirit. We are like Lazarus, unable to change our *dead* condition of our own volition, reason, or strength, but the Gospel Word calls men to faith and life in Jesus Christ.
This is NOT total depravity. On the doctrines of Original Sin and Justification by faith in Christ alone the Lutheran Church and Her Confession stand alone. To the left and to the right, in every other Christian denomination, you have synergism and Pelagianism (semi, full, or otherwise).
What you *learned* in your two years at some Lutheran seminary is hardly representative of orthodox Lutheran doctrine and confession -- and you know it! Please, attack, critique Lutheran doctrine and Confession all you want, but don't, either intentionally or in ignorance, smear and miscast it as some form of the Calvinism it very clearly is NOT.
“He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not
the Church for his mother.” – St. Cyprian of Carthage
“O wondrous mystery! One is the Father of all, one also
the Word of all,and the Holy Spirit is one and the same
everywhere. And there is only one Virgin Mother;I love to
call her the Church.” – St. Clement of Alexandria
Rev. Jon M. Ellingworth
The Lutheran Church of Christ the King
14 Pine Drive Pawling, NY 12564
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- 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.
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
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
> 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