- May 24, 2004
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From what I understand, there's two ways to interpret these verses, your way (Fr. John Romanides way) and another way, i.e. all of creation sympathizes with our fallenness, and groans because we groan, just as a poet who talks about clouds as the dust of God's feet, or the singing of birds as praising the Lord, so too the birth pains of creation are their groaning in the corruption of man.Gebre Menfes Kidus said:ytterbiumanalyst said:No, neither animals specifically nor creation as a whole were effected by sin.Gebre Menfes Kidus said:Animals do not sin, but they are effected by the Fall just as the entire creation is effected by it. Animals suffer and feel pain. Death for them does not feel "natural," any more than it feels "natural" for human beings. It is quite unnatural, the unfortunate fate of man's sin that brought havoc and misery to the entire creation.
St. Paul says quite the opposite:
"The creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." [Romans 8:20-22]
In writng about "Fallen Creation," Father John Romanides says:
"St. Paul strongly affirms the belief that all things created by God are good.[ 3 ] Yet, at the same time, he insists on the fact that not only man,[ 4 ] but also all of creation has fallen.[ 5 ] Both man and creation are awaiting the final redemption. [ 6 ] Thus, in spite of the fact that all things created by God are good, the devil has temporarily [ 7 ] become the "god of this age."[ 8 ] A basic presupposition of St. Paul's thought is that althought the world was created by God and as such is good, yet now there rules in it the power of Satan. The devil, however, is by no means absolute, since God has never abandoned His creation.[ 9 ]
Thus, according to St. Paul, creation as it is is not what God intended it to be--"For the creature was made subject to vanity...by reason of him who hath subjected the same."[ 10 ] Therefore, evil can exist, at least temporarily, as a parasitic element alongside and inside of that which God created originally good. A good example of this is one who would do the Good according to the "inner man," but finds it impossible because of the indwelling power of sin in the flesh.[ 11 ] Although created good and still maintained and governed by God, creation as it is is still far from being normal or natural, if by "normal" we understand nature according to the original and final destiny of creation. governing this age, in spite of the fact that God Himself is still sustaining creation and creating for Himself a remnant,[12 ] is the devil himself."
But in truth, in the General Resurrection, we shall bring all of creation in incorruption with us. Here's another way to interpret this verses:
The phrase "subjected to vanity" according to St. Gregory of Nyssa symbolizes created nature, for we are vain in nature compared to God's uncreated divinity, and indeed, "subjected to vanity the same who subjected them in hope." Creation which took part in the birthing of humanity hopes that through humanity they may be brought to incorruption. Indeed, we as the crown of creation may bring not just ourselves but all of creation to salvation. They suffered to bring us on earth through God's power. Unfortunately, we messed up, and all of creation groans as they groaned before we came in this world. One day however, through Christ who partook of creation, we will once again bring creation to incorruption with us through Him who is Incorruptible by nature.
This story does not contradict creation's corruption before humanity. For the dawn of humanity brought rejoicing upon creation for hope in incorruption, just as the dawn of the Incarnation of Christ brought rejoicing upon humanity for hope in salvation.
Of course there's no right or wrong answer. You will have other Church fathers who will agree with your interpretation too, people like St. Theophilus of Antioch and I think St. Ambrose, and I'm not sure but maybe St. John Chrysostom, although he wasn't that clear, but the above interpretation of mine is in part influenced by him.