The issue of Original Sin vs. Sin-Prone nature is tied to the question of whether or not one accepts Augustine’s view of human nature vs. the earlier, less extreme view (in particular, those of Irenaeus), that sin was more like a High Fever of the human soul, that could be treated and cured with experience.
Ancestral Versus Original Sin
Posted on Dec 22, 2008 in Blog | 3 comments
by Father Antony Hughes
St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts
East vs. West:
In simple terms, we can say that the Eastern Church tends towards a therapeutic model which sees sin as illness, while the Western Church tends towards a juridical model seeing sin as moral failure.
For the former the Church is the hospital of souls, the arena of salvation where, through the grace of God, the faithful ascend from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18) into union with God in a joining together of grace and human volition. The choice offered to Adam and Eve remains our choice: to ascend to life or descend into corruption.
For the latter, whether the Church is viewed as essential, important or arbitrary, the model of sin as moral failing rests on divine election and adherence to moral, ethical codes as both the cure for sin and guarantor of fidelity. Whether ecclesial authority or individual conscience imposes the code the result is the same.
East & West (“dramatically opposed”):
Admittedly, the idea of salvation as process is not absent in the West. (One can call to mind the Western mystics and the Wesleyan movement as examples.) However, the underlying theological foundations of Eastern Church and Western Church in regard to ancestral or original sin are dramatically opposed. The difference is apparent when looking at the understanding of ethics itself. For the Western Church ethics often seems to imply exclusively adherence to an external code; for the Eastern Church ethics implies “the restoration of life to the fullness of freedom and love” (Yannaras, 1984, p. 143).
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Getting back to my personal experiences here at BioLogos:
The ultimate Irony? Or are there too many ironies? Below is my long chain of errors and surprises:
 East & West:
Early on in my volunteer-posting at BioLogos, I thought the distinction between the Eastern vs. Western views of Original Sin were well known. I was wrong about that. The distinctions were not well known.
 Real Differences between East & West:
So then I thought it would be an easy matter to explain the differences. I was wrong about that too. It was not easy. And lots of people accused me of being completely in error in my research.
 Original Sin is Disposable?:
Sooner or later, it became clear to me that BioLogos would inevitably have to lead the way in opposing the doctrine of Original Sin. Gosh, I was certainly wrong about that idea.
Generally speaking, BioLogos supporters seemed to be all over the map with their view on Original Sin. And so (or “additionally”, rather than because of…) BioLogos apparently embraced the idea (implicitly) that Creationists could be convinced that Original Sin could still be valid even without a literal Adam and Eve! And I thought I could assist with a campaign along those lines. No. I’ve never been more wrong about something in my life.
 Adam & Eve Could be Figures of Evolution:
After a while, it seemed clear that Creationists rejected Evolution because they felt a real live Adam and a real live Eve were inextricably linked to Original Sin. I was optimistic that Original Sin could still be valid without an historical Adam and Eve. I was really, really wrong about that!
As I examined the theological trends regarding Creationist views towards Original Sin, it was reinforced, frequently and without any generational wavering, that Western churches and denominations anchored their views on the importance of an historical Adam and Eve with their views regarding Original Sin. Without a real person named Adam and a real person named Eve, Paul’s foundational comments about Original Sin made no sense - - and the whole foundation of human redemption became questionable.
 Adam & Eve could be Created, In Order to Embrace Evolution:
Then, just when things seemed to be getting pretty boring, @Swamidass constructed a brand new approach - - replacing “Either vs. Or” with the idea that Christians can embrace another exceptional miracle (the special creation of Adam & Eve), in order to render the rest of Evolutionary Evidence as a surmountable problem, rather than an immovable barrier! The scenario would be labeled: “Genealogical Adam”.
Since Creationists frequently emphasized the historical importance of a real Adam & Eve, it struck me that Joshua’s “Genealogical Adam” approach would help create a middle ground … a more moderate view where Special Creation wasn’t simply DENIED or SOLELY EMBRACED… but a middle ground where God is still seen as interested in a few more miracles… while at the same time God leaves convincing evidence that he did use Evolutionary principles to develop the rest of Earth’s animal and plant life.
I thought for sure BioLogos would love to include this new “instrument of debate” in their quiver of logic.
And apparently this was my most recent egregious error of expectations!