Give us the skinny on the article. Why is it so great? I don't want to read the whole thing. Brevity, man, brevity!
The most priceless line is this one:"Rather, this section consists of a caricature of the development of Western Christian thought, aimed at making an argument that has become characteristic of Orthodox evangelism in the past several decades - one that distills down to Your God is mean; our God isnice. Come worship the nice God."This is how many, many Orthodox (especially converts) set up a straw man in the West, and proceed to knock him down. As though we taught a God who cannot be merciful to us without getting his pound of flesh! Ephrem shows that this is just not in accord with the facts, for the West doesn't teach like this, and the East historically has had no problem with speaking of Christ bearing divine wrath on the cross.
Fr Weedon,It is a great article.On the other hand, I am somewhat embarrassed on behalf of Father Antony. He was my father confessor when I was Orthodox (indeed, since private confession is not encouraged (to be frank, not really available) in the Lutheran congregations I have belonged to, he is the last pastor to have heard my confession).I had read Fr Antony's essay a while back, and saw some of the same weaknesses that Ephraim did. I really don't think the essay is characteristic of him; he's not an anti-Western firebrand at all.
Fr McCain,I think the whole article really is worth your time. Original sin is thought by many (including you, if I am not mistaken) to be a major point at issue between Orthodoxy and the West. Ephraim makes a case (a strong one, in my view) that Orthodox polemicists make too much of the differences, which are really differences in expression, not in substance. Ephraim brings both Scriptural and Patristic evidence to bear to show that original sin as expounded in the Western confessions of faith (including the Augustana) has strong support in the Orthodox tradition; and he shows that the doctrine of original sin against which some Orthodox polemicists rail is only a caricature of the teaching of the Western confessions.I think you might find it helpful.
I also enjoyed the article, however, in my experience the "caricature" of the Western teaching wasn't so far from the mark. As you may be remember before I left the Lutheran church I was taking instruction to be certified as a lay minister via the CUW's TEE program. In that instruction I was taught none other than imputed guilt...the guilt of Adam's sin was imputed on us...that even if it were possible to live a life completely free of sin...one would still be guilty of the sin of Adam. Further, this view of imputed guilt was confirmed by my pastor. I had a friend who was considering joining the Lutheran Church who was bothered terribly by this notion of imputed guilt and how it seemed to contradict Ezekiel 18:20. I asked a few Lutheran pastors I know and got an instruction right out of Mueller on hereditary guilt (culpa hereditaria) and hereditary corruption (corruptio hereditaria). Hereditary guilt...So...it isn't really just a language problem. There are real people, even Lutherans pastors, teaching this. And people walking away from the instruction with this caricatured understanding of imputed guilt.My point is not to dispute what the Lutheran Church and the Protestants of the Western Church have on the books regarding original sin...my point is that there are presently Lutheran teachers/pastors teaching something different--I know this from personal experience. I have also heard the same from other Protestants. What is believed, taught and confessed is not just what is tucked away on paper somewhere--but what is presently taught in the classrooms and from the pulpits must be brought into the mix. And when this sort of distortion of the teaching happens, it is not unreasonable to for someone to respond to the distortions he encounters. Considering Chris' description of his former father confessor, I suggest he was responding to what he encountered.
If I may, I'd like to suggest an historiographical principle: It is difficult to compare texts in one era with texts of another era hundreds of years removed without understanding the context in which both texts were written and the issues or questions both were addressing. The difficulty is heightened when imposing (explicitly or implicity) upon both era-contexted texts yet a third context; namely, our own questions or issues.FWIW (which may be very little).
You guys should go have this discussion on Ephrem's blog! : )Chris, as usual, I agree 100%.Rose, I have been racking my brain to think of how I was taught about original sin, but what always comes back to me is what I have taught: God is not charging us with another's guilt, but because the sin of Adam infects us from the get-go, we are being charged with guilt that is very much our own. We ARE bent away from Him who alone is Life and Love. God is not unjust to say this about any of us. The problem arises, I think, whenever we fail to conceive of the human race as it actually is: flowering forth from the primal couple as a living organism.John,To an extent, but it can also be a cop out for dismissing the data without dealing with. : ) At the risk of falling into the same trap you warned against, one passage that Ephrem didn't allude to (I don't believe) is from Origen (Duane pointed this one out to me some years ago):And if you like to hear what other saints also have felt in regard to physical birth, listen to David when he says, I was conceived, so it runs, in iniquity and in sin my mother hath borne me, proving that every soul which is born in the flesh is tainted with the stain of iniquity and sin. This is the reason for that saying which we have already quoted above, No man is clean from sin, not even if his life be one day long. To these, as a further point, may be added an enquiry into the reason for which, while the church's baptism is given for the remission of sin, it is the custom of the church that baptism be administered even to infants. Certainly, if there were nothing in infants that required remission and called for lenient treatment, the grace of baptism would seem unnecessary. (R.B. Tollinton, Selections From The Commentaries And Homilies of Origen, 1929, p. 211)What I find interesting in this citation is that Origen uses the same argument Augustine would later use: they must be sinners because we baptize them! The inversion of that is what's usually taught today: we baptize them because we are sinners.
And now a word from Ken Korby,,,,,,"I *am* the original sinner, by my fault, by own fault, by my own most miserable fault."
And now a word from Martin Franzmann:In Adam we have all been one,One huge rebellious man.We all have fled that evening voiceThat sought us as we ran.
So, at the Winkel today I asked a bit about this conversation - I shared how many Orthodox who were Lutherans said they were taught that the sin of Adam was imputed to those who were innocent of it. One deaconess said that was how she had always understood it to be taught. The rest though seemed to scratch their heads over where it would come from. We all agreed that we were guilty of Adam's sin because we share in it - we're born twisted and bent, screwed up indeed. But none used the language of Adam's sin being "imputed" to us or recalled having been taught it. I thought that was interesting. Pastor Curtis though such language was used by the Reformed (White Horse Inn folks) in speaking of Romans 5. We pointed out that Romans 5 does not set up a parallel, but a contrast: but as... so NOT the free gift!
Oh, another interesting thing from the Winkel. Some brothers shared why they hesitate to push the image of "disease" in regard to original sin. Because in our culture "disease" is used precisely for things we have no cuplability in. For example, alcoholism is a "disease" as opposed to saying "drunkenness is a sin." Yet all agreed that the advantage to "disease" is that it can use the language of "healing" as its response.
One deaconess said that was how she had always understood it to be taught.LOL! Oh...now I get it. Must be a chick thing! ;)
The Calvinists do talk about Adam's sin being "imputed" to us. Westminster Confession VI.3 says, "They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed."
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