Wherefor Original Sin?

Thinking about baptism and salvation, a question occurred to me. Why does the Church teach the doctrine of original sin? Where did it come from? I’ve always thought the following bit of Scripture, written long before Christ’s salvific work, directly contradicted this doctrine.

“The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” – Ezekiel 18:20

Are we not all sons of Adam (whether it be literally or figuratively), who committed the first – the original – sin? Why are we held accountable for his sin?

My impression is that the Eastern Orthodox don’t hold the same beliefs as Catholics regarding the Fall and original sin. What are their beliefs? How do they differ? Why do they differ? Would these doctrines interfere with future reunification?

OK, those questions are more than enough for now. Discuss. 🙂

Comments 6

  1. Jeff Miller wrote:

    It was St. Augustine who coined the term. The orthodox pretty much have the same idea, but don’t necessarily use the same term which is often the case.

    The quote you use from Ezekiel refers to personal sin and not the concept that because of the fall we were deprived the original gifts given to our first parents.

    Posted 26 Apr 2007 at 4:47 pm
  2. Bryan Davis wrote:

    Yeah… that was a pretty big sticking point in my sola scriptura days.

    Posted 26 Apr 2007 at 4:52 pm
  3. Mark Olson wrote:

    While I don’t have a ready answer, I’ve been newly chrismated as Orthodox and I think you’re right there is a fundamental difference in how the fall is viewed which leads to a difference as to what the restoration that occurred at Jesus resurrection accomplished. I’ve read it, but don’t recall it off-hand (and at work). I’ll look it up, write it up, and trackback this weekend.

    Posted 27 Apr 2007 at 8:32 am
  4. WeekendFisher wrote:

    The Eastern Orthodox theologians I’ve read have said that Rome has a fundamental misunderstanding of the fall: nobody is born guilty of anything exactly because the one who sins is the one who dies, and Adam’s guilt does not transfer to anyone. They tend to trace Rome’s understanding (Rome’s misunderstanding, according to the ones I’ve read) to a mistranslation of the Greek into the Latin Vulgate, where it says in the Greek (paraphrased to English) “death passed to all through Adam in that all sinned” but the Vulgate has “death passed to all through Adam in whom all sinned”. There were some comments also I heard about Augustine’s role, who (they said) reasoned from baptism “for the forgiveness of sins” and the long-standing practice of infant baptism that therefore the infants must have guilt needing to be forgiven.

    The EO writers I’ve read say that it is merely the broken relationship with God and the curse of death that constitute any inborn problems.

    Take care & God bless

    Posted 27 Apr 2007 at 1:28 pm
  5. gbm3 wrote:

    For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised,
    and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
    If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
    For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being.
    For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
    but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
    then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.
    For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
    The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for “he subjected everything under his feet.” But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him.
    When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will (also) be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

    1 Corr 15: 16-28 (esp. 21-22)

    (Please read this entire chapter at my funeral, seriously.)


    Posted 27 Apr 2007 at 10:46 pm
  6. gbm3 wrote:

    Oh yea, it’s from



    Posted 27 Apr 2007 at 10:47 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 2

  1. From BlogWatch on 27 Apr 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Ales Rarus

  2. From Pseudo-Polymath » Blog Archive » Morning Highlights on 27 Apr 2007 at 8:59 am

    […] A question (Ales Rarus) and an answer (biblicalia + a little more), simplicity of blogging. […]

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