As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Original Sin

This is my fourth try to write this. We can agree that God created the Earth and that man was once in a right relationship with Him. Then, Adam ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The important question becomes, "What does that mean for us today?" Evangelicals, as I understand it, believe that means there is a "strike" against all of us when we are conceived, because Adam has passed on his sin nature to all of his children. It's kind of like a cosmic mark against us. This meshes with the Roman Catholic position ala St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Anselm.

Luther said that Original Sin is:
I. Ignorance of God
II. separation from God
III. Having no direction or purpose

I can agree with that one. However, as I understand the Orthodox position, they believe that Original Sin is more like ... like we are still in the image of God, but the image is marred. There is a hymn, the Evlogitaria of the Dead, sung at Orthodox funerals which has the following lines:
An image am I of your ineffable glory
Though bearing marks of offenses.

Of old Thou hast created me from nothing and honoured me with Thy divine image;
but when I disobeyed Thy commandment,
Thou hast returned me to the earth whence I was taken:
lead me back again to Thy likeness, refashioning my ancient beauty.

We are not all bad. We are only broken and mangled and marred. The only thing we inherit from Adam is a bad father, not bad seed. And death. We get death too. But death is both God's blessing as well as His curse. It is a curse because mankind was not created to experience death but to live forever. It is a blessing because death, however painful, stops separation from God dead in its tracks (without death, man would live in a state of separation for eternity).

And this is of great importance, because it goes to the heart of what we believe about Christ's sacrifice. Catholics and Protestants believe that God is appeasing Himself by the death of Himself so he won't be offended by our presence. The Orthodox is like ... like Aslan and the Table. Because Christ was not guilty of our sinS (highlight the plural), and He died for them in our place, everything was reversed and death was defeated by death.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Your thoughts?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edwin, Roman Catholic, replies:
Your summary of Catholic theology is severely lacking.

First, it is true that the sinful do not stand before the throne of God without purification. Read Psalm 143:2 and 53:4; Isaiah 64:6; Amos 3:2-3;Revelation 7:14; Matt 5:48; and the best known, Romans 3:12.

Death is the separation of man from God as the separation of the branch from the vine. It withers and dies. THIS is the truth of judgement.

However the Good News of Christ is that Jesus became for us the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. He became the Priest who offered sacrifice in the manner of Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:15; and it is in this paschal sacrifice that the Lamb of God, Christ, was slaughtered, that judgement might passover them, and life might be restored.

Catholic theology goes on to say that we must accept Jesus and the new life, and the new way of life He offers - to die to ourselves so we might live with Christ. The entirety of this theology is best stated in Romans 6.

None of this supports your contention that Catholics believe that God "appeased" Himself. By sin we earned death, we separated from the vine. Jesus, sinless, died for the sake of sinful humanity, he accepted the judgement we brought upon ourselves, so that these sins might be forgiven.

We who accept his death, and die to our own sin, will live with Christ who destroyed death.

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
1 Corinthians: 55

Pax et bonem,

1:16 AM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

While incomplete (it is only a blog), it is not incorrect. We find, especially in St. Anselm, the belief that God was angered by our sin and that the sacrifice of Christ was an atonement to God necessary for forgiveness. God, in other words, could not be appeased without the sacrifice of His Son.

Catholic theology does say all that you have said, but this as well. It was this that the Reformers latched onto and carried with them into the Protestant churches.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edwin replies:
Have you read Anselm? He stresses the Father's mercy, the fact that the Father did not command the death of Jesus, and that Jesus' "Atonement" was the union of God and man "At-one." Christ's death was not appeasement to an angry God, it was God's own divine mercy poured forth in his own human blood.

Certainly the Orthodox do not deny that the death of Christ was a sacrifice after the manner of Isaiah's suffering servant - and as the Paschal Victim.

The point made by Anselm was that the guilty had earned death and could not repay the debt even by death. Only the spotless Lamb of God, married to humanity though his manhood, could sanctify humanity by his sacrifice.

May I suggest that you read Anselm, Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man) at:

1:44 AM  

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