Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Incarnation
- Ben and Oruaseht,
Thank you for your replies. Oruaseht, I particularly appreciated the
reference to 1st Corinthians 15. I have read those verses before of course
but hadn't caught what looks like now, in my mind, to be Paul contradicting
himself. I'm curious, how have you reconciled this apparent contradiction
in Paul's own writings about the relationship between sin and death?
Ben, I appreciate the invite for further conversation. What shall be done,
from the EO perspective about Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as through one
man sin entered the world, and death *through* sin, and thus death spread to
all men, *because* all sinned"?
Additionally, I stumbled across a verse that addresses a question you asked
earlier when you wrote: is it's His wrathful justice that needs to be
satisfied, or is it the release of man from bondage and his healing? Romans
5:9 "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be
saved from wrath through Him." (NKJV)
It's pretty clear from this and other threads that the so called
courtroom/juridical p.o.v. of Western theology doesn't sit well in the
Eastern p.o.v. But it seems to me, just from a short look at Romans, that
there is support for it, namely the juridical perspective. Maybe it's the
fault of my NKJV Bible and it's translation, maybe it isn't. Do English
speaking Orthodox Christians use a particular translation that doesn't word
these verses in a juridical manner, if so what is this translation called?
Looking forward to the replies.
On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 3:44 PM, Benjamin Harju <benjamin.harju@...>wrote:
> What Oruaseht said is pretty much what I would say. If you want a
> good resource, I suggest reading Gustaf Wingren's "Man and the
> Incarnation." It is a good summary of St. Irenaeus' theology, and
> also that of the early Church. Of course, St. Irenaeus' chiliasm
> isn't to be accepted but the rest is a good place to start. Another
> good resource is "Ancestral Sin" by Fr. Romanides. Some Orthodox rely
> on it heavily, some not heavily, but either way it is a good place to
> If you have other passages that seem to suggest sin is the root
> problem and death the result, please send them on out and we can talk
> about them.
> In Christ,
> Benjamin Harju
> On 6/16/10, Oruaseht <oruaseht@... <oruaseht%40yahoo.com>> wrote:
> > Timothy - I cannot speak on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox church and
> > try to. But as a Lutheran Pastor looking East, studying and reading about
> > her in books for years, I can offer a glimpse of my limited understanding
> > this "inverse" relationship of sin & death.
> > Like you, I also have understood the "cause & effect" relationship of sin
> > and death. Sin happened, wrecked everything and death followed with it.
> > Seems clear enough from Romans 6. But then I was pointed to 1 Corinthians
> > 15:56 (ESV)
> > "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law."
> > The sting of death is sin. If we recall what God's words were to Adam &
> > (Gen 2:17 ESV) they were: "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and
> > you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely
> > When you eat of it you will surely die. Life will cease and indeed it did
> > people rejected the Creator for the created. Relationship with God is cut
> > off. This relationship must be healed and restored as mortality came and
> > abundant sin followed with it.
> > In our Lutheran understanding, that is tremendously legal/courtroom
> > we understand the breaking of God's commandment "not to eat" in a
> > context. The Orthodox view, (what I understand of it at least), starts
> > more with the cessation of life vs. guilt and blame for breaking the law.
> > Both of these view points are the foundational starting points for all
> > doctrines and how both East and West understand salvation. For the East,
> > seems to be a return to life through the destruction of death and
> > from the bondage to sin. For the West, it seems to be an appeasement of
> > wrath of God and the demands of the law.
> > I find that how we understand the garden is really programmatic of our
> > "system" of theology. I hope this sheds some light on the differences.
[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